As my work day began to wind down on Friday, I got antsy as I looked forward to Saturday’s big duck hunt with my son, Bryan. My excitement level was high as it’s always a great time getting my boy into the woods and watching him learn the ways of the wild. We also have the opportunity to put some tasty treats in the freezer.
I called Bryan into school on Friday and took him to work with me as we were hunting just a few miles from work. I work fifty miles from home and it’s senseless to make the the long drive home just to come right back Saturday. We decided to stay with my in-laws -the best a man could ask for- instead, which is only twenty miles away.
Around 10 PM, after a bit of good conversation and some TV at my in-laws, my father in-law hit the sack. My son and I figured it was probably a good idea too, as our 3:30 am wake up call would be upon us shortly. Bryan was out in no time, but no sooner had my head hit the pillow, my mind started reeling. I have no idea why, but it was going into overdrive at an alarming rate, even as I did my best to fight it.
I thought it was just the excitement of the next day’s events and would wear off soon, but wow, was I wrong.
In a matter of minutes I was up pacing through the house, my mouth dry, my breaths rapid. My mind could not concentrate on any one thing.
I was having a panic attack and my medications were 75 miles away. That’s right, I forgot them at home. I had been doing great lately, and it never really crossed my mind to bring them along just in case.
Well here I was in the midst of a full-blown panic and had no idea what to do. I picked up the phone and called my wife, knowing full well that she would be asleep because it was now approaching 11:30 and she never stays up that late.
She was so wonderful and gave me time to chat and tried to relieve my tensions a bit. I didn’t keep her on the phone long but was so appreciative of her willingness to even allow me to call that late without getting pissed off. Her talk and encouragement was a bit helpful, but I was still contemplating making the hour-plus drive home in the middle of the night just to get my medication.
Then it dawned on me. My friend Luke was probably going out somewhere for the evening since his wife was out of town, so maybe I could get in touch with him.
I called Luke’s cell phone but there was no answer. I left a brief message explaining my dilemma and asked him to call me back. About ten minutes later the phone rang. I figured it was my wife just checking up on me, but it was Luke.
He was almost back in town from a night out and would be more than happy to have me over for awhile, even though it was midnight and he had to work the next day. I was in such panicked state that it took me two tries to get into the car and drive the three miles to his house.
Every time I’d get into the car, I’d think: I will never make it over there and I couldn’t breathe. The world felt like it was going to collapse around me if I sat in that drivers seat too long, so I’d pull back into the in-law’s driveway. I would get out, walk back into the house, then turn right back around and get into the car.
Finally, I made it to Luke’s house, but he wasn’t there. I tried to get out of the car and wait for him but my head wouldn’t leave me alone. My throat was tightening and it seemed like my airway was going to close any minute if I didn’t do something drastic. I knew this was all in my mind at the time and yet I had no control.
That thought alone made it worse. I jumped back in my car to head back to the in-laws. Just as I got to the first stop at the end of Luke’s road, he pulled into the road and waved me back.
I followed him to his house and we sat outside for awhile before I worked up the nerve to go inside without feeling caged in. A few minutes was all I could handle indoors…the heat, the lack of oxygen, the walls…I had to get out.
Luke was more than willing to follow. I’m not much of a drinker, but a 22oz hard lemonade seemed like it might help slow me down a bit. I slammed that while Luke sipped on one himself. Usually one of those is enough to put me on the couch for the evening! But this was no ordinary evening and no ordinary panic attack.
I have only had an attack this severe a couple of times and I hated it. Before I knew it, I had Luke out waking down the dirt drive at 2:00 am, and he did it with no complaints. We wandered back to the house and went inside for a little more chit-chat.
It was now close to 3:00 am and I could see that Luke was fading fast. The good thing was that it would soon be time to wake my son for his duck hunt, and my mind was starting to shift into a lower gear in preparation for the day of hunting. I needed to keep myself in check for the safety of my son.
The fog in my head slowly began to lift as I pulled into my in-laws driveway at 3:10 am. I was actually able to chill long enough to take a shower. When I came out of the shower, I felt as if the world had been lifted from my shoulders. My wonderful son was sleeping peacefully on a futon mattress on Grandma’s floor, oblivious to the hell I’d been through over the past 4 hours. I was tired but rejuvenated with a clear mind.
I took my son on the hunt. It was a wonderful morning. Warm, calm, and the mosquitoes didn’t even bother me. Ducks were flying and my son was doing pretty good hitting them. I had a wonderful day, and I must say that it was due to the patience and understanding of my wonderful wife and my friend Luke.
Luke is the true definition of a friend. I have known Luke for the better part of thirty years and I would do anything for him. He is more like a brother to me than a friend. I would be hard pressed to find another person on this planet that would be willing to sacrifice a night of sleep just to help a guy through a hard time.
Luke is a true friend, and true friends are hard to come by. He helped me through a night of turmoil that could have led to tragedy if I had not had him to talk to and keep my mind off the senseless ramblings. He was there for me and I am eternally grateful.
Reading other’s posts has been full of horror for me. I remember, I remember. I was a teenager feeling the full despair and desperation, of loneliness and self-loathing. I feel it still sometimes, and I have patched myself together as best I can.
My parents still say things they don’t realize are so hurtful, but I am gradually learning to see it. I know I don’t have to react or justify my actions to them, because I am finally accepting that it is their sad way of getting attention. The hysterical thing is, if I can stop from responding, stop saying, “But that isn’t true!” arguing my point, it stops. I change the subject or say nothing – telling myself I know what the truth is, and that is all that is important. I feel sorry they don’t see this, but it is not my job to be their therapist. It is not my job to make them over into what I want them to be – because that is an impossible task.
I have accepted that they will never be the nurturing, trustworthy parents I wanted them to be. They have never been, and looking hard at the evidence, there appears to be zero evidence that they ever will. My expectations and dreams of what “could have been” have created such misery in my life. What a liberation to see it! And so terribly sad – I grieved a lot about that. But letting that mirage go has brought a lot of peace, too.
I can enjoy many good things about them. And, if they ever become what I dreamed of, it will be a surprise and a gift, not a constant let down that they don’t. It is only my job to set boundaries on how much I will let happen before I leave or end the conversation. And, I have more and more friends who sometimes teach me about life – like a good mother or father would, and that’s what I so need.
My inner critic will always be there, repeating awful messages. But I can add good ones, screaming them out if necessary in the bad times, and I can teach myself to recognize those evil words for what they are. My parents loved me as best they could, but their love was twisted and mixed with their own blindness. Maybe their parents’ blindness as well – as they say in Al-anon, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. I know now, the awful things they do to me, were done to them, and they likely do to themselves as well.
Lately those nights I call the screams and knives (figuratively) where I cannot see how I am worthy for anything, I am starting to ask myself if the story line isn’t a bit seductive. Is it a grand play and I am the star? Oh, the horror of my self-loathing and awfulness. In this, I see I am getting the rapt attention I so want. The drama! The tears being ripped from the bottom of my soul! But really, do I need attention in this form? When I’m in the pit, I’m learning to ask, how is today so different from yesterday, when I had hope or felt good? The answer is always outside events that have given the critic in my mind more ammunition to say, “See you did it again, you will never be able to change.” Nothing about my inner me has changed otherwise. I might feel like life is not worth living and things will never change, but reality is that everything else in the universe changes. I am still the tender soul that lived in this body yesterday, and will be tomorrow.
Though at times I might feel hopeless, I will never take my life now because I am starting to trust that I am not alone. I am not the base and evil things my mind sucks me into thinking. I can step back from the story and know that no matter how awful I feel, it isn’t real. It’s like having a bad cold. It will pass. I am a good person, I just have to rewrite the tapes – like the playlist where you’ve gotten tired of a certain song. I put in good, and when I’m ready and willing, ask for the old to be taken out, or let it go.
We are already lovable and whole as we are. Perfect if we can only let ourselves see it. I am beginning to see how that might be possible; we can change how we act, but it’s about training the self-critic, not doing things to be more worthy.
We all have letters we’d like to send, but know that we can’t. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser.
Letters where actual contact is just not possible.
Do you have a letter you can’t send?
Why not send it to The Band?
This is what I would like to tell my mom, and probably would if she weren’t in a fragile state. She’s been wheelchair bound since my second child was born and my daughter is now nearing junior high school. How she ended up in a wheelchair isn’t at issue at this point. Needless to say, she is simply too weak to hear this stuff.
Did you ever wonder why I was so angry as a young man? Or why I only had a single friend when I was going through school? You should remember the angry tantrums that I used to pull. The anger I showed you was caused by a deep, horrid certainty that I was useless and doomed to failure. That I could never trust people or achieve anything of moment in life.
While a lot of this is standard fare for a teenager, you never informed dad about any incident as far as I can tell. He was never the kind of man to sit still for such nonsense. Did you stop to think when you told me as a very young child that I was a “surprise?” It didn’t take me long to figure out that “surprise” meant accident, and that you didn’t intend to make me. From that time on, I wondered if everyone would be happier without me, or if I even was truly wanted in the home.
What about the grades, Mom? You know, when I began failing in high school and you would hide the facts from Dad. Of course a child would accept help in such a way. I didn’t want to be in trouble at home AND school, after all. It’s a repeated pattern with you.
Consistently, you would “shelter” your little boy from Dad’s wrath, which was rather corporal, yet never over the top. Yet you failed entirely to protect me from sexual predators. Yes, mother I was molested as a child. I, your little boy, was fucked by a teenage girl belonging to a “trusted” family. My innocence was gone by fourth grade, Mother. Then, listening to your gossip, I learned that you never really even liked that family and thought their mother to be disgusting and immoral. Why, then, was I allowed to mix with them? Did you never wonder why I didn’t have any friends or why I quit playing with the other children from that family? I really believed that my molester was my girlfriend. You have no idea how confused and hurt I was when I saw her with a boy her own age. I had no one to confide in, and as children who are abused often feel that they would get into more trouble.
You were already struggling with demons of your own, of which I had known a little from the time I was in second grade when you were first hospitalized for “stress.” Junior high came around, and while I seemed to be okay, inside I was dying. I felt completely alone, as sex abuse survivors often do. I went through those three years with one friend who I met in fifth grade.
Then, you decided you were divorcing Dad. We moved out and lived for a few months in another town. You went back to father because, as I later found out, he bribed you. Yes, he cashed money from his retirement account and gave you a lump sum of cash to spend at your discretion. That caused me to lose a lot of respect for you. That was a single summer and back to the home. It was fucked up mom.
Junior high progressed. Even then I would have horrid angry outbursts of hopeless despair which should have caused some questions. Mom, why didn’t you do anything to get me help then?
High school came along and I gave up my choir aspirations. I didn’t have the confidence to try out for the high school choir, even though I had pulled straight A’s in all my choir work for junior high and earned a place on the Honor Choir. Indeed, I began to give up on everything then. I didn’t have many friends and had no visitors or invitations during summer breaks to anything. You never wondered why I never went steady with a girl, and asked only one out, and only then after repeated assurances that she would say yes? I pushed away my best friend in this time, in favor of what I thought were better friends. I’m lucky he forgave me, when I asked for his forgiveness.
I joined the Navy, only to flunk their psych evaluation and be sent home after five or so weeks. So there I was in the airport, defeated. You were so out of it, Mom. Dad was obviously exhausted. Apparently, it was getting near to another stay in the hospital for you. Not that they did you any good, except for to get you to decide to pretend everything was okay, so you could get out. Do you remember that ride home and the crazy things you talked about? In any case, Mother, you couldn’t handle your little boy leaving and broke down again. I needed some strength and real help then, Mom. But you, once again, were in trouble. I felt guilty by even thinking, “Dammit, I need my parents right now!” But Dad was dealing with your outbursts and insomnia. And so, once again, I kept my secrets and felt an utter failure. I know you’ve had difficulties Mama, but this isn’t about you right now.
You must realize that I was neglected by you in a few ways. Sure, you kept the house clean and meals on the table, but you never would inform my father of things that he had the right to know, like my failing grades. I was allowed to withdraw unhealthily into fantasy-like video games and television. You didn’t make me do the the things that I should have been doing, Mom. Dad could have helped you with that, if you would have let him. But I knew you, and I played you to keep the bad grades secret, just like any teenager would do, given the chance.
You did all that shit with my older sister, to the Nth degree, keeping her from facing the music for so long that she’s now a drug addict with no job, car, house, or self-respect. I escaped that because all along, since second grade, I have resented you. Yes. Resented that I couldn’t have a mommy that didn’t pick crazy fights with dad as we were watching a baseball game, eating dinner, or whatever. A mommy that wouldn’t freak out at tiny problems and scare the shit out of me with lies fashioned to keep me safe, that only served to inhibit my sense of trust in the world. A mommy who didn’t get so tired she wouldn’t talk to me or Dad and had to be taken to hospital on regular intervals.
I love ya, Mom, but you sure fucked up bad.
Four kids, one alcoholic, another a depressed, self-loathing mess (me) and a drug addict forever child. My oldest brother is the most well-balanced of the four of us, and I truly believe it’s because he spent the greater majority of his time with Father. Why did you “protect” us three from Dad so much? I have a good relationship with my father now, but my brother and sister haven’t spoken with him in years, in any meaningful way.
Do you know why dad was so grumpy all the time, mom? Because he slogged his ass of in a coal mine for twelve hours a day, six days a week and came home to either a batshit crazy or a sweet as pie wife–he never knew what to expect. He paid your way, Mom, and you resented him for it! He never made you stay home, you could have had your own money. Instead, you spent him into debt with secret credit cards, on more than one occasion. I remember the fights. They were the only ones that had any kind of justification. In other words, Dad was right!
You even kept him from forming decent relationships with the majority of his children.
Mom, I love you, but you have messed up three of your kids. That is a fact. I am now thirty six and struggle daily with feelings of empty, horrid loneliness and depression. These things are only bigger for me now, and I resent that you had every reasonable signal that something was very wrong with your child and you did …nothing. NOTHING!
I am now a father, and if one of my children began behaving the ways that I did, I would most certainly get them to someone for help. It’s not normal to rage the ways I did. Now I know it’s because of the injustice of abuse and the feeling that I wasn’t really wanted in the home.
I’m fixing these problems now, Mom, and without your help, just as before. It’s fucked, and I’m still kinda pissed off that all the signs were there. Sure, it was the early nineties. You watched enough talk shows to see at least one child psychiatrist telling parents signs of trouble in a kid. This fucking rock I’ve been toting for so goddamned long is a big bastard now. I’m pissed that I’ve had to do that carrying for so long. I’ve learned so much in my reading that I know that things wouldn’t be so bad NOW, if you would had done more THEN. Maybe you could have found yourself some decent help along the way, too.
I’m taking action now, Mom. I’m a big boy and have been taking care of myself. I’m getting the help I need, but my problems are compounded now by a failed marriage and the breakdown of my little family. This isn’t easier. Time didn’t make this shit go away. Indeed its only become worse.
I will overcome.
I love you mom. I hate you too. I don’t like it, and certainly this is going to be something that I address in therapy. But I’m doing it, finally, and that’s the point.
In the United States, every 107 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. Four of every five sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 68% of all sexual assaults go unreported to the proper authorities.
Why? Why do so many sexual assaults go unreported?
Shame. Self blame. Embarrassment. Fear that no one would believe their story. Fear that they may have caused it. Not wanting to be the victim. Wanting to move past the sexual assault. There are a multitude of reasons why sexual assaults go unreported.
Just as there are a number of types of rape (gang rape, date/acquaintance rape, intimate partner rape, statutory rape, sexual assault), there are a multitude of responses to sexual assault. Each of which is completely normal.
This April, The Band Back Together Project is shining a light into the darkness of sexual assault. Please share your story of sexual assault so that we can Light the Darkness.
All are welcome.
Here I am, a year later.
It never really gets any easier. You just learn to live with it.
It was a year on 12/14 since the night that I was raped. I posted on this site a week or so after it happened and to me.
It was a silent cry for help.
I guess this is what this post is too …I know I need help. But I’m scared to get it.
How do I tell someone that I still don’t see myself when I look in the mirror?
How do I tell someone that I don’t trust a single man that I know or see because I’m terrified of what they will do to me if I give them my trust?
It’s been an entire year and I still can’t get over it.
My mother would often threaten me that she was going to get really sick and die if I didn’t obey her like a good child does. She would often say how horrible of a kid I was, and how my attitude was going to destroy my life in the future.
In front of people she would say how smart and creative I was, but how I would get on her wits and make her loose control.
Funny, how she had strength one day to beat me up and the next she was in bed complaining of how sick she was from who knows what. I spent most of my childhood ignoring her complaints about her health, her overly-frequent visits to doctors and how she would loudly and dramatically announce she had an annual breast exam the next day. She also spent a lot of time saying how unloving I was by not caring for her and giving her the attention and care she needed.
I refused to let her control me. I refused so hard, she made sure to cut out all my other outside-relationships and to leave me hopeless each time I reconstructed my life back together. How she would talk to me about my friends when I was little, claiming they stole things from me or where jealous of me. And how in the blink of an eye, I had no friends anymore. I still have problems trusting friends.
Finally for once in my life, I feel like I have control. Now that I moved a whole sea away from her and that I have cut phone calls, and only Skype every few months for an hour or so. And even still, I can’t stand her.
This last year has been so constructive to my life, I have done a complete twist in myself and feel so much different. I am happy, I have a stable life, and no one is there sabotaging it. She doesn’t have enough resources to try to.
I can’t imagine inviting her to stay over. Why would I want that? She brings it up on every call. I really wouldn’t want her here. I know her, she won’t behave herself.
If you read my first post, you know I lived with a man who couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it. He cheated repeatedly, all the while telling me he loved me more than anything, that he couldn’t imagine his life without me. He said I was his future.
Funny how he could never treat me that way.
He had stepped up his drinking to a horrible rate. He didn’t feel he should keep promises, like showing up at work, if he didn’t feel like it. He drank until he would pass out. I tried not to be co-dependent, but his clients know me, so I was always the one who was stuck having to tell people he wasn’t coming. He certainly didn’t care if we had money to pay the bills on time.
I worked consistently from the time I was 18 until I had to go on disability. I had beautiful credit, so that was what we lived on. BIG mistake on my part.
He went to rehab, lied his way through it and was released after 90 days. He was drinking again within two weeks. He went back and forth to rehab a couple of times, but he always lied and would be drinking again as soon as he was released. It got so bad that I kept getting calls from the fire dept, police, or paramedics. They would find him passed out in a park, and tell me I needed to pick him up. They would never help me. They would lecture me about how he needed help, as if I didn’t know, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t just take him to detox or arrest him.
One day, he drove drunk and thankfully only did damage to our car. I said I had had enough. I told him he needed to go stay somewhere else and think about what he wanted out of his life. He was drinking to maintain, and then went on a binge. He refused to answer my texts, even though I could see he had read them. I warned him he was setting in motion things that could not be undone. He still would not answer.
I am disabled, so I’m not able to work. He abandoned me with just $57 to my name. I have no way to pay the bills, no way to pay for my medications, no way to buy food. I waited, and finally, I filed bankruptcy. Just like that, my entire life’s work down the drain. I could not be more humiliated.
A week later, he finally decided to talk to me. He said he loves me, he just needs some time to work on being the right kind of husband. I told him I wasn’t sure the opportunity would still be there. So now, he’s calling me every night and telling me how much he loves me. Each night, he has sounded more and more intoxicated, so I know nothing has really changed.
I have supported him, through the drinking, for SIX years. He would always say he wanted to be sober, so I kept trying to help. Obviously, he doesn’t want to quit drinking. So, why do I feel so bad? Why do I feel like I’m letting him down, when he has never once been there for me?
When I had my knee replaced, he was too drunk to take care of me. He stole my pain medication, and I never did find out why. I guess he wanted to make me suffer through physical withdrawal like he has to when he dries out. Would someone who loved me put me through that?
I can’t forgive him for abandoning me with no money or food. He obviously didn’t care about me, so why do I still feel guilty and sad? I know I deserve better!