When I don’t take my own advice

I have been through so much. I know the right thing to do. I know the best healing path. I know it because I have lived it. I know the things that can hurt me and the things that can further me into a good place.

But it is hard sometimes to take my own advice. It is hard because my cellular memory does not cooperate with my brain. Some guy comes along and says something inappropriate and I KNOW what to do. I know what the right thing to do is and what the correct words are. I know the way to respond that will give me a feeling of self love and self validation. But the cellular memory seems to over power my brains advice. And I do nothing.

It is hard to undo a traumatic event. It is so hard. What your body, mind, and spirit, did to survive is what your body mind and spirit naturally go back to as a mechanism.Not all the time. But sometimes.Usually when someone catches you off guard. Which is what manipulators and sociopaths do. And when that happens we are often brought to a place where we know what to do but can’t.

So I have quick advice to give here on this short little blog. When you cannot take your own advice, then you need someone else who will help be your advocate. You cannot always do it alone and that is OK. You don’t have to prove anything to yourself. You just have to make sure the truth is always told. And that may be from a friend who can help you.

I know the solutions to so many feelings that go along with abuse. But when my body does not cooperate with my mind, I have to call in a friend. I had to do it alone as a child. But things are different now. You don’t have to be alone. There are people who will help you to be strong when you don’t feel like you can do it alone.

So don’t beat yourself up. Just call a friend. You don’t have to do this alone anymore.

Rose colored glasses.

Abandonment is a raw emotion that I think we all can connect to in one way or another. A friend has abandoned you. A spouse. A family member.

Abandonment is a hard emotion to address because it isn’t just one word with one emotion. There are 5 or 6 branches of emotions that come out of it and all of those have to be addressed too.

With abandonment comes loneliness, disappointment, hurt, betrayal, anger, sadness, and bitterness. But abandonment can also lead to  empowerment.The two words don’t even seem like they go together. BUT what if  being abandoned was the best thing for you? What if abandonment showed someone’s true colors?. What if abandonment freed you from chains?

My family abandoned me. And I felt hurt and betrayed and devastated. I wrote my father a letter. It is on my blog. I have read and reread that letter. I know that as a parent, if I read that letter, I would probably feel awful. I would feel agony in my heart for the pain my daughter felt, I would also feel guilty for not somehow protecting her. I would NOT feel accused or blamed and I would certainly not then abandon my child. But that is exactly what they did. And guess what. I am free. I never have to hear them bring up the past. I never have to feel unvalidated. The truth of my abuse caused my family to abandon me. Whatever excuses they want to give of feeling hurt, or embarrassed….don’t matter any more.  I was not WORTH keeping. I was easily DISCARDED. And anyone who can desert someone for telling the truth, I promise you is not worth having in your life in the first place. You may have beautiful memories. Those memories do not have to be tarnished by their current behavior. You can keep those good memories in your heart. But if one letter can cause and entire family to abandon you. I assure you, you are better off without them.

It is passive aggressive behavior really. I am sure if you have been abused or raped then you know what I am talking about. A person in your life will just toss out a statement or comment.  You think maybe they don’t mean it that way and just disregard it. I think since I was abused I then chose to settle. I settled for comments that I should not have settled for. But I was so used to everyone acting like nothing happened that it became the norm. Each of these comments though just chipped away at my soul. You have to be so careful because you don’t even know it is happening until you wake up this hollow person surrounded by people who are supposed to love you, but feeling totally alone when you are around them. So that man that abused me was a member of a ski team. My family ALWAYS brought up seeing a member of that ski team whether out shopping or in a store. Why? To see if I will react? Well I can’t react because I have been programed by a family to not ever be able to feel. Because they don’t feel. If they did feel then they would never bring up the things they did.  How do they think bringing that up would make me feel? Was it passive aggressive to show that they could bring up whatever they wanted? I’m guessing it was total denial. and showing that they did not acknowledge what happened. Or maybe just trying to minimize it by making this nonchalant comment so everything is nice. Oh how wonderful to see such and such out and about. Really? Such and such was an integral part of the horrors of my childhood. Each of these comments over the years all add up. So really by abandoning me they did me a huge favor.

They disowned me because it was easier to disown me then to actually feel. If they just push me aside then they can go on living their lives never to scratch the surface. And there are people in life that are like that. I know tons of them. They do not change, evolve, or grow. They just put on their rose colored glasses and float along through life. and then when I tell the truth oh my gosh their glasses broke for a moment. But they couldn’t stand the pain of anything real so they quickly just bought another pair and went on like nothing happened. If I am not around then they don’t have to deal with real. I feel sorry for them. But I am no longer tied to them. Their abandonment freed me from their illusion.

You cannot float along through life. Deep down you will be eaten up! But there is this illusion that if you put on these rose colored glasses and float along then everything is ok. If you go through life thinking everything is ok then you will never heal. You will never teach. You will never inspire. You will be stagnate. You will be smothered. You will never do the things you were truly meant to do in this life!

But I know…you don’t want to be alone. You’ve already been through so much. You don’t want to lose anymore.So you hold on to people that really are not in your best interest for you to grow and heal as a person. But sometimes holding on to someone just wraps you up in chains from the past that you cannot become freed from. Sometimes them abandoning you allows you to be who you are and not ever accept disrespect again.

I could be angry at my family for letting me down. For being selfish. But why?  There are no words that will make them change. There is no convincing. There is no getting through. It is their choice. And as long as they choose to not see and not deal with the truth I would not want them in my life anyway. And so…..

Abandonment leads to empowerment. My life is not a game..I am no pawn in anyone’s plan. I was a pawn the whole time i was being abused. I played that game of keeping secrets my entire childhood. They must come to terms with their own feelings of what happened to me. They either will or they won’t. But it has nothing to do with me. Without me they can either choose to deal with the past, or put back on their rose colored glasses. I am simply nolonger part of that process for them. Do not let someone bring you into their game. Do not let someone bring you into their emotions over your abuse. That is for them and not you.Take yourself out of other people’s game. Their control and their games are not your concern. They are holding you back from being the you that you are meant to be.

It is not your job as a person who has been victimized to baby the people around you. It is not your job to comfort them. It is not your job to settle for mediocre behavior.

I honestly wish it had not taken my family abandoning me for me to see them for who they really are. I wish I had seen things for what they really were and left. Leaving is empowering. But apparently so is being abandoned. I just never knew that, but I guess I had on my own rose colored glasses.

The titanium plate

When a person breaks a bone, sometimes they put a rod to hold that bone in place. My husband shattered his wrist and he had metal rods holding that bone together while it healed. He then had the rods removed when the bone healed. They unscrewed those rods while he was awake. He said it was excruciating . He also broke his other arm and had to have a permanent titanium plate put in which is still there. That plate is a reminder that he was broken, but he healed. Just like the scar on his wrist is a reminder of what was, but healed.

I have been broken. I have been shattered. I have felt completely alone. I wish I had a titanium plate. Something to hold together the pieces forever so they never feel broken again. But I don’t, at least not one like my husband has.. And I do sometimes feel broken even 30 years later. It usually happens when I feel no control over a situation, and that loss of control makes me feel vulnerable, which makes me feel alone, which then makes me feel broken. I know, long sentence.  I feel like as soon as I think I am  healed someone comes and unscrews the rod from what I thought was healed and it was still broken. At least when my husband had the rod removed the bone was healed. He had to go through pain of that removal but in the end he came away with a fully healed bone. In the past I have felt like I have certainly gone through the pain but not come out the other end with an x-ray that says “Yes, she is healed.”

I’m not sure how to put it any other way… You don’t know broken until you have been broken. It is the ultimate alone. The vast emptiness in yourself is just unimaginable.

I was broken for so many years I didn’t know how it felt to be whole. I was just wandering around, floating through life, in pieces. Really just fragments of me. I was shattered. When I say shattered I really mean that every part of my being was not whole anymore. It took years and years and years to bring back this part and that. The joy had to be put back. Then I had to grab on to the here and now. Then I had to grab onto the laughter. I had to pull back all the pieces that were shattered to make myself whole again. It has taken a long time.

Being broken feels like a loss of all control.  I was lost. My body had been controlled, used, abused. My mind was abused, confused, sad. So I started down a self destructive path. Once you start on that path it is very hard to come back from. You tell yourself that if you can control certain things then it will fix the lack of control you had in the past. It is just a bandaid really. It makes you THINK that you are OK because controlling things gives your mind this sense of purpose and it stops focusing on the broken. It starts focusing on the control. But you have to focus on the broken or even just acknowledge and validate it so that you can heal in a healthy way.

When you start down a path of control it can end in self harm, self destruction, and ultimately prolonged pain. Because while you are focusing on controlling things,your mind and heart and soul are still sitting there shattered. But you THINK you are fixing things because now you are in control. The real healing gets put on a back shelf while you create this world where you are now able to make your own control.

There are many forms of control and they are all directly related to the loss of control our bodies felt during abuse. We feel if we can control our body NOW then we can regain what we have lost. We had the control taken away so we will now take the control back. The way we SHOULD be taking the control back is by nourishing and healing what was broken to begin with, but I for one had no idea how to do that at the time.

So I did many unhealthy self destructive things. . Which I am sure many can relate to.I am sharing this about myself because I don’t want another woman to think they are the only one. I know of women who feel if they overeat and look unappealing to men then their chances of being raped again are diminished. I have known women who are bulimic, anorexic, and who are cutters. All ways we think we are controlling our bodies. All negative ways that do not lead to the path of healing.

I get it. The pain is so bad on the inside and no one sees it. So you want to cut, and hurt the outside. Maybe you want someone to see it. Maybe it is just your own way to get the pain from the inside to the outside. The pain trapped on the inside is unbearable so if you cut your arm then you have successfully brought the pain out. But that is just an illusion. It is only temporary. That broken is still in there.

I have done it all. So you are not alone. I have starved myself. I have had nothing but slimfast shakes all day while waterskiing 40 hours a week. I felt if I controlled how I looked then I was fixing the problem of feeling out of control. I have also eaten and gorged myself JUST TO FEEL CONTROL. I have self harmed. I have attempted suicide multiple times. I have tried all of these things as ways to control my body.

I can now tell you this. That was the wrong path. It didn’t fix the broken feeling. It just lead to self loathing. And that is an entirely new emotion to have to contend with. I would feel out of control, so I starve, then I eat, then I hurt, then I hate the way I look, then I hate myself. It is a cycle, a circle that will just keep spinning and spinning until you CHOOSE to get off!!!

.I  remember the day I started thinking…. Who has done any of these things and found lasting strength? Who has found lasting healing from starving them self? Have you found a lasting feeling of control over your life because you cut yourself? I never did. All temporary. And all an illusion. None of that was real. Those were the broken pieces trying to fit back together in an unhealthy way.

You cannot fix the shattered feelings from the past by starving yourself, cutting yourself, or any other self harm. I tried all these things and found myself getting my stomach pumped in the hospital. Because  these things don’t work. But since I went down that path that so many of us have, it is a constant  battle to not go there again. It is so easy to slip back in to that you don’t even realize you are doing it!

Part of pulling the pieces of yourself back together is truly being aware. Aware of why you are feeling what you are feeling and why you are doing what you are doing. And having the strength to stop it if it is unhealthy. Let me tell you, if you endured abuse, you have the strength to stop doing unhealthy things to yourself. You are very very strong. You just have to be very self aware.

You have to find a titanium plate.

Something that holds together the pieces so that you can fully and completely heal. You need a titanium plate to hold you together when you are feeling weak.Something that will stay with you to keep you strong for the rest of your life. My husband’s arm needs that plate in it forever for that bone to stay strong. You need it to remind you that even though you may have been shattered, you are now whole. You are OK. You survived.

My titanium plate varies. Sometimes it is the love I feel for my daughter. That love gives me strength. Sometimes it is just sitting outside feeling the breeze and watching the trees.That freedom gives me strength. Sometimes it is watching the owl in my front yard. He is so majestic and beautiful. Looking into his eyes gives me strength. Sometimes it is calling my friend and having her just say “I know”. Because knowing she knows gives me strength. Sometimes it is holding my husband’s hand.That constant, gives me strength.  Some days it is God. It is whatever you need it to be to be able to keep yourself whole, keep yourself aware, keep yourself loved, and continue down the right path.

I know what it feels like to be broken and shattered and alone. But I also know that the path I am on now, and the pure love I have now chosen to surrounded myself with is sometimes all the titanium plate I need.

Forgiveness: How, Why, and When

Years ago, I met this woman who told me that her father had sexually abused her and her siblings. But she had forgiven him because she wanted her children to have a grandfather in their life. So forgiveness to her may have meant one thing to her  but to me it meant something entirely different. For her it meant she forgave him by denying the truth and allowing her children to have a grandfather. To me it meant….So you’ve decided to let your children be abused just like you were all in the name of forgiveness?

If forgiveness means that a woman then exposes her children to abuse then I would say forgiveness is NOT an option with that definition!

The wife of the man that violated me said that I JUST NEEDED TO FORGIVE HIM! Because, she said, if I did that, then everything would be OK. For who? Him? Well my top priority is not to make him feel better about what he did! Forgiveness for her meant, I would give out this wonderful word that made it OK for her to stay with her husband.

When the forgiveness word wipes a slate clean for an abuser then forgiveness is NOT an option with that definition!

Forgiveness for both of these women meant that somehow everything was OK. We would just move forward like nothing happened. So they are giving forgiveness to the abuser so he can have peace over what he did? Or they are giving forgiveness so that they can live with what they don’t really want to live with? I don’t know but either way it is not something I felt comfortable with.

I can tell you what forgiveness should not mean. It should not mean letting an abuser back in your life to hurt you or your children. It is not something you have to give to an abuser. It most definitely is not something that should ever involve putting yourself back into a situation that is unhealthy for you .But I am not judging these two women I have mentioned above. They are not in a part of their healing that allows them to put the blame where it needs to be put so that then they can put the protection back where it needs to be put.

There was once this therapist that I went to. She told me to imagine the man who abused me. She wanted me to imagine  a cord tied from me to him. Imagery. So I imagined him tied to me and I cut the cord and he floated off into the sky never to be seen again. She told me that forgiving him was simply an act of letting him go. She said forgiveness = letting go. She wanted me to imagine each scenario when I was a child and go back to that child and comfort her and tell her she is ok. Then help that child let that bad feeling go. I like the idea of forgiveness meaning letting go. But I also felt that was a lot of exhausting mental work to do in this healing process. She wanted me to give it all back to the abuser. It was his to begin with so I needed to release it all back to him and I would come out freed from letting go, because forgiveness was letting go.Sometimes the healing process can be exhausting but we all have to find what works best for each of us.

But her technique still l had a title and a need for me to do something to get a result.. I am not fond of my healing being contingent on this forgiveness concept. My healing cannot be contingent on something someone else tells me I need to do. It truly has to come within my own soul’s process. Other’s opinions can be brilliant. But they have to resonate with you. They can’t just be one size fits all healing.

Some women I have spoken to have found profound healing by not focusing on the abuser(forgiving him, letting him go, thinking about releasing him), but focusing on themselves and moving forward. They have found healing in their own empowerment.

Forgiving means something different for every person. It could mean letting go. It could mean  saying, it is OK and I accept you back into my life. It may mean, I give you over to God to take care of, because it is no longer mine to carry. It could mean releasing the abusers hold on you.

I have heard if you cannot forgive, then the abuser continues to control you.” Unless you have let go of them then the only person affected is you because they certainly are not thinking about what they did to you.” SO many rules for this healing process.

I am not sure who wrote the rule book on forgiveness, but agree every rule does NOT apply to every person.

I tried the technique of cutting the cord hold that the abuser had on me and letting him float into the sky. I would say that helped for a day. I tried writing all my thoughts and putting them into a basket for God to take care of so I no longer had to. I have tried writing all of my anger and hurt of what happened and burning it. I recently heard a woman’s idea of writing it all out and burying it.

There are a lot of HOWS. AND there are a lot of WHYS. And there are lots of WHENS. But the topic that usually resonates with me is NONE OF THE ABOVE. Forgiveness is not a word that resonates with me. But we all have our own words that we feel we MUST do to heal. Feelings that we must release to move forward. Things that we have to let go of so that we don’t feel controlled by the feelings the abuser may evoke. I’m simply asking you not to put a word on to all of that, that everyone else may think YOU need to do to get well.

I may never forgive the man who hurt me as a child. Does that mean that I am holding on to him? NO! Does that mean he has control still over me? NO! Does that mean that I have not released him into the sky of forgiveness? Maybe!!!! But does that really matter? HOW does someone else get to tell you WHY you need to feel this emotion and WHEN you need to feel it?

It is a name that therapists and many many people like to put ON the victim as it is something we must do. But everyone has a different way of healing. Forgiveness may not be part of what YOU need to move forward and the key is moving forward. Forgiveness means so many things to so many people that most of us can’t wrap our mind around what we are supposed to do to experience  this big supposedly life altering word of FORGIVENESS.

You don’t have to forgive. You have to move forward. In whatever way you feel is healthy for you. And WHEN and if you choose to forgive, it will have a definition that fits what you need it to fit. You don’t have to explain that to anyone. That can be something kept for you in your heart.

There are no rules. There are tons of techniques but they have to be right for you and they certainly don’t need a word associated with it.

My ultimate healing has not involved something I had to do with the man who abused me. It has not been about him at all. My healing has not come from forgiving the men who have abused me. My healing has come from a place of loving myself.My healing has come from not blaming myself. My healing has come from not being ashamed of myself.

me

My daughter drew this picture of me. She said that on this day I was acting like everything OK but she said that my soul seemed sad. I think at the age of 10 she captured the sadness of my soul pretty well!

I had not realized until I saw this that my soul was sad. I had gone to all these therapists and tried all these ways but my soul was still so wounded.

I then embarked on a positive healing journey that involved just a few simple things:

1. Realizing and telling myself I was worthy

2. Not allowing others to make me feel unworthy.

3. Accepting and telling myself that what happened to me was truly not my fault and required no more blame or shame.

4. Last but not least…speaking my truth.

Details of the abuse

  • Details could be triggering for sexual abuse survivors.

I wrote a letter  to my father  about the abuse that I endured. I have changed every name in the letter except my own. I sent the letter to the people that I felt needed to know this truth. In doing so I was able to see other people’s truths as well. My family did not want to hear the truth. 

I wrote the letter with the absolute pure intention of telling exactly what happened to me. The letter has explicit details of abuse. These details needed to be spoken. 

I am sharing this because I do not want anyone to feel alone. I do not want anyone to feel ashamed. I do not want anyone to feel that they were the only one that endured such things. In some instances I limited the details because it was getting quite lengthy. 

I hope that by sharing my story it will reach someone that needs to know there is someone out there who knows how they feel. There is someone that has experienced what they did. There is someone that has done things that they were at one time ashamed of.

This is not my secret to keep. It is not my burden to carry. My family knew that I was abused but carried on in their lives as if I were not. Because of that I attempted suicide multiple times. I felt incredibly alone. As the years passed and I got married and had a child, they still discussed members of the ski team as if it were passing conversation. I needed to address this passive aggressive behavior. I needed them all to know the truth so I shared the letter to my father with other members of my family. After reading the letter, I received a lot of hate mail and then no one in my family spoke to me again. 

It is hard to share this.

It pained me to write it. It pains me still to reread the details and to share it with others.

BUT this letter will let other survivors know that I know how they may feel.

 And if you are a parent of an abused child perhaps it will allow you to see into their heart. My letter is also telling my father goodbye. When you have been abused, and  I cannot stress ENOUGH, that if anyone continues to make you feel like a victim or does not validate you, you cannot continue that relationship as it is. I decided for myself I had to end the relationship. Each person has to decide what is best for them. After my father shook the hand of the man who abused me, I should have ended it then.  I wasn’t strong enough yet. 

I say in the letter that i am “healed”. In the moment I wrote that letter, I felt healed. In a way some wounds were. healed.  But that letter was only the first step in the healing process. My letter and the details of the abuse I endured is below:

Dad,

You have told me that you do not understand why I feel the way I do. I have explained it repeatedly. For years, in fact. And yet you still say you do not understand. You either are not listening, are not capable of understanding, or are just not willing to really fix what is broken. You are not there for me or my daughter. You have not ever been. You have been a constant disappointment in a time in my life where for the SECOND time I had hoped you could give support but you did not.

I am writing this not to open the doors to communication. Those WILL remain closed. I am writing you because I have a feeling if I start from the beginning then perhaps you will get a better picture of why I have responded to you in the way that I have. Why I am not giving you any more chances. Not that I think you need or deserve an explanation but I feel that in the long run it would be good for you to know the full truth. You need to see me as the survivor that I am.

Lets start from the beginning.

The beginning involves Dennis. I have heard since I was a child from both parents and everyone else,“If you only gave us more details then…..”, I still believe and will until the day that I die that you knowing that a man put his hands on your daughter against her will required no more details. It should have been enough for you to move heaven and earth to make her feel justice. Never the less I will explain to you now the details I did not tell you as a child and you will perhaps understand.( by the way they don’t make children do that now. They bring in a female and huge support system and help that child feel comfortable to tell the details. Noone did that for me therefore those details did not come out)

When I first started going to Dennis’ I was young. 11, 12,13,14,15. I would vacuum for him and help clean his house and then he would take me skiing. And teach me what I loved which was swivel skiing. ( I will interject now that I believe no parent in their right mind allows a female child to go to a man’s house alone at that age but you all did). He started fun. For many many months everything was fun. I would do some cleaning, we would go and ski. Then things slowly, very slowly started to change. I didn’t even notice them for a very long time. As an adult reading this you may  think “ why wouldn’t you know better? why wouldn’t you know that was wrong?” But as a child, that is fully being manipulated, you just don’t know. As a child I had no idea about sexuality. I shouldn’t have. I should have been able to be a child. Dennis  STOLE MY CHILDHOOD. So he started putting me in his lap. Every day. I had to sit in his lap. He always watched soap operas. So I had to sit in his lap to watch a whole one. Then I’d clean a little, then we’d ski. Then as I was washing dishes he started kissing my neck. Coming up behind me and hugging me and kissing my neck. I remember thinking that was odd and overly friendly but since he was you and mom’s friend and so highly regarded I figured I was misinterpreting or overreacting. Fast forward a year or so or more. A YEAR is a long time for a child to be slowly manipulated. Those kisses from behind turned to smashing me up against the sink while rubbing himself on me. Rubbing his hard penis against my back and sucking on my neck and squeezing me until I could barely breathe. I was 13.  Those soap opera’s turned to porn. Those sitting in the laps turned into me being rubbed into his lap. and being shown porn magazines. I saw pornography as a CHILD. I had no idea what I was watching. He said it was good and I would be a porn star one day. Imagine what he was doing to me while he was watching porn. I had a penis, hard penis pressing against my butt on top of my clothes for an hour each and every single time.  So at such a young age who is to know that is a hard penis. I surely didn’t . I didn’t know what it was. Then we went to bribery. If I wanted a new bathing suit I had to model it. So I did and he had to check every square inch of that bathing suit to make sure it fit correctly. I was 13. I had a mans hand on my vagina at age 13. But just checking my bathing suit ofcourse. And then he suggested I probably needed a massage. He ofcourse needed to shower first and then come sit on me with his towel while he sat on my back and I couldn’t get up. I had a man’s hands on my breasts, that I barely had at age 13. Sitting on my back watching porn on tv.  Hmm you are thinking. Didn’t that set off alarms? Why did I even go back? Well all I can tell you is that fear crept in. He started warning me that no one would believe me. I shouldn’t tell anyone. He would blame me. He got an evil laugh at that point and that continued on. The evil laugh. So by the age of 14 I had felt a penis, had a man’s hand on my body under my clothing, had a man thrust himself on me, kiss me, sit on me and hold me down, show me porn, and the list can go on. Remember that went on for years. I tried to convince myself that everything he said was not true. He blamed me. Said I was pretty and I was available and I was so young. He scared me. I tried to stop going but he then came to the house and got me. He wouldn’t let me stop coming over. I was brainwashed. I was manipulated. I could not escape. When we went out of town on ski trips…All your fun memories…buford southcarolina…every time he found me. I was never safe from him. I was never protected.

Let us pause…a brief pause to when I was 13-14 and went to ski school at six flags. You guys dropped my brother and me off at six flags. Timmy was one of the instructors. We stayed there and slept there and guess what…Timmy did the same thing Dennis did. Same thing. I won’t go into all those details. I was too programed by then to fight or tell. So I just took it. My brother was sleeping right next to me.  I recently contacted Timmy. We talked about it. He said it is his worse regret in life and something he would never forgive himself for. He wrote me a long letter. I forgave him. Note to self. Do not drop your kids off with people over night you DO NOT KNOW! and just assume because they are twins and they are together then they will be ok. Did not work out like that. I felt doomed. Doomed to be used by men forever. Doomed that I could never go anywhere without having a penis on me. Unfortunately there are pedophiles everywhere. And they are looking for the perfect victim. I was a quiet sweet girl. For a long time I thought it had to be me since it happened more than once. After talking to many other women over the years I realized sadly there are just a lot of bad men out there.

So getting home from that experience was devastatingly traumatizing. Oh but I didn’t get a break because Dennis was still there. But Yay, we were about to go on a trip to Costa Rica. Things would be awesome. I could not wait. Everyone had a wonderful time. My parents thought it was ok for me to go dancing with Juan someone they never knew or met in another country when I was not even 15 yet. Thankfully nothing happened. But guess what….something else did.  I don’t remember his name.. that man molested me there in costa rica. Actually he forced me to play with his penis. How did he know he could do that? How did he know he could prey upon me? Because Dennis told him? No, no way, as my mother said “abusers never brag to other’s about what they did” Well Dennis DID!!!!!!!

So in recap I had felt a penis against my will in costa rica. Other things happened…showers….etc. I don’t feel like wasting too much time on those details in costa rica but three men showered with me and you were nowhere to be seen.. It was just another experience of abuse I endured. I often wondered where my parents were. Why they left me alone. I’ve heard back then it is what you did. That really is no consolation to me. Because I have since talked to friends about all these details. They protected their children. They said I should have been protected too. Excuses, always excuses for why the victim wasn’t protected.

I’m going to fast forward a moment to when I was 18 and then go back again to 15. When I was 18 I decided to take Dennis to court. Got an attorney on my own. He suggested I contact other members of the ski team that could testify for me. I contacted one. Frankie. Do you know what Frankie said? He KNEW what Dennis was doing. He said many people knew what Dennis was doing but Dennis made me out to be a slut and said that I wanted it. I was 14 or younger or older or all of the above. Not only did Frankie know about it he thought I wanted that attention. So Frankie and who knows who else COULD have protected me. But he chose not to. I could have been saved from years of ongoing abuse. But no one did a thing. I was so upset over this finding that I told the attorney I could not proceed. Soon after the statute of limitations ran out so court was out of the question.

Rewind to 15. I tried to kill myself. Many times. You guys know about one time. But there were many. I just was not successful. I was tormented with shame. With guilt. I did not want to live. I could not imagine a moment that the image of Dennis’ hands on my body or his hard penis pressing against me did not haunt my mind. Then I got a boyfriend. For some reason you and mom felt it was ok at 15 for me to go on a blind date with Fred who I ended up dating. I would go to Fred’s house for the weekends to get away from Dennis. Fred loved me and I learned more and more the magnitude of what Dennis and Frankie had done to me. So I dated Fred for a year. But being intimate was confusing and scary and it depressed me even more and more. I was driving home one night and wrecked my car into a tree. Tried to kill myself. You guys thought I fell asleep at the wheel. I didn’t. I wanted to die. I can’t remember when that was in my story but it happened at some point.The times and dates get a little confusing because abuse happened for so long. BUT I remember the car  because I went to Indiana that summer and got back and you had bought me a new car. I went to Indiana. I got picked up at the airport by the head of the team, Justin  at that point. He took me straight home to his house and had sex with me. I knew no other way. I had just turned 17. He was 25. Thought that was what I just had to do. I thought well he must love me. He must want me to be his girlfriend or something. And it seemed like everyone else did so why not. But then the next day he dumped me off at the ski house and said he did have a girlfriend and she was coming and I was not to tell a soul what he did. I didn’t even think he was a bad guy. I thought it was just what guys did. I got home to my new car that summer. And shortly after that I think was when I tried suicide again and you guys found out.A very sweet friend saved my life. Went to the hospital and all that.

I tried to tell you. I tried to tell you both that Dennis had done something bad to me. I remember the day I told you. It took months to get up the nerve. I told you he was a perverted man and had done bad things to me. You wanted details. It took everything in my life to get those words out. But that wasn’t enough. more more more. everyone wanted more.I had endured all my body could handle. Even speaking those words were the last bit of strength I could muster. I hoped your strength would take over and I could just be a child again. But I never was. My childhood was gone. And ended up I had to be strong again because nothing was going to be done about Dennis.  Maybe more was needed for prosecution but no more was needed for my parents to do justice by their daughter. You knew he had done something to me. I told you. DCF was called and they sent an old man, which  they would never do now bc I was too embarrassed to speak to him. So I was blamed “ well if you won’t give details we can’t do anything”. Bullshit. I just kept being victimized again and again. I have said it before and I will say it again. If my daughter uttered a word that anyone had made her uncomfortable their head would be on a platter. You KNEW something happened. You KNEW I tried to kill myself. BUT what did my parents do,. my parents then allowed my brother to go back to skiing with the same man who took my whole childhood. You will excuse that, because you make excuses for everything, that since you didn’t know everything how  could you take that experience away from your son. He loved skiing. Your son’s happiness was more important than your daughter’s heart break. Mom told me my brother cried and cried please let me go back and ski. You allowed Dennis to come to our dock and get him. Do you know how it felt to watch my brother go ski with the man who did all those things to me. The first man to put his lips on your daughter was 50 years old! How does that make you feel? So I went to grant center to get well only to come home and sit on the dock and watch my brother ski with Dennis. How could I ever get well? How? As a parent you should have moved!!!!! I would have taken my daughter away. I would have done everything, anything! You did NOTHING> EVER!!!!

Image, God forbid anyone think the image of our family is tarnished. We must go on like nothing happened.

So then my only choice after dropping out of highschool , which I had to do since everyone knew I was in grant center after attempting suicide and that humiliation along with the molesting well that was too much . So I got a job at seaworld.

Did you ever take me there? Wonder where I stayed? I got a job two hours away and no one checked on me. You had your new life. You were looking after your step child, working, having your marriage. What happened to me?????  You video taped the show. You came one day to video. But where did I stay. ??? I slept in my CAR!!!! The whole time I worked there I slept in my car. DAD did you hear me. I slept in my car.  Until a sweet boat driver busted me a month later and let me sleep on his couch. Mom was dating someone then and my old room was full of boxes. Some weekends I would be too hot sleeping in my car and so I would come home and climb over all the boxes and sleep in my old bed.

Anyway, after quitting seaworld there was no place for me to stay. Mom’s boyfriend took over the house and was a hoarder, you were with your wife. So I started dating Tommy and moved in with him. I was 18. Moved in with Tommy because I just couldn’t stay in that house. Actually no one offered me a place to stay or live. Moving home didn’t seem an option. And staying at mom’s just meant I got to see Dennis and the ski club. So I lived with a guy at 18 which is when I got sick. You helped me some, took me to a few appointments. I think that is when I first got lyme disease. I had to work because I couldn’t afford to live with Tommy and be sick and I could barely function. So I had to work and I was so so sick. Things didn’t work out with Tommy. So I got the apartment. You sent me money to help me monthly. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough money. I could barely work. Lived in a crap hole apartment. I wanted to find a nice boyfriend. I met someone at a club . He seemed so nice. The next day he took me on a date.. He date raped me. I was 21. I cried the whole time. He told me it would be over soon.I will never forget those words. “It will be over soon”. I was paralyzed. Date rape is very different than being molested as a child. Very different. I don’t really want to go into all those details here. I was crying and he just kept saying it would be over soon. I was on my period actually. I had a tampon in. He said “Don’t you worry I will make it all fit!” I left and never saw him again. I can only imagine, or don’t want to imagine what or who these men have hurt since me. Oh and I am not the only one. I have had tons of counselors and tons of friends tell me countless stories of abuse. I could never get away from the men. I was branded it felt. Tarnished. Ruined. I was never really able to distinguish between what was safe and not safe and where to go and what to do. It was awful. But I was numb. The summer of when I was 22 I was still sick, working part time, going to school, and exhausted by life. I couldn’t pay my rent. You told me you had given me my monthly money and that was all you could give. I appreciated that money. I did. but  I did not have money for rent. So guess what….my good friend at the time…Francis….he thought I was a virgin….Isn’t that hilarious…I laughed outloud thinking that he thought I was a virgin..He said he would pay me 500-800 for my virginity. Pay me for my virginity. You heard right!!!! I was hungry, broke, sick, and So I thought….Well I had already been molested and raped against my will /Why not get paid for it. So I let Francis have sex with me  for a price. Paid my rent. He left the money on the bedside table. He tells people  to tell me hello sometimes still. So I think I had reached my lowest point in my life. Sold myself, and had every ounce of life sucked from me.

I should have been living at home safely with one of my parents!

A year later I met my husband.

Let me recap for you. Dennis molested me, brainwashed me, manipulated me, forced me to watch pornographic videos and magazines when I was a CHILD. THEN I had the same thing happen at ski camp. Then the same thing happen in Indiana. ALL BEFORE I WAS 18 years old.Mostly before I was 14. My daughter is 18 years old. Looking at her now. It breaks my heart to know that because my parents did not protect me, watch over me, that so many things happened. You weren’t there. You were always busy. Your whole life you have been busy. It could have been prevented with a little bit of supervised parenting. But it was not. I got a tongue crammed down my throat by Frankie at six flags. I was a CHILD. I had a penis in my hand in costa rica. I was a CHILD! I had a man touch my vagina when I was a CHILD.

So then. years later after I was married. My mother sees you…my father…the man who never did ANYTHING when I was a child to Dennis and she sees you in a restaurant and you shake Dennis’ hand. I question you about this and you said you didn’t want to make a scene. So you shook his hand. Do you know the message you gave to Dennis. You told him you did not believe me. You told him it was Ok. You told ME that it was ok what he did. You broke my heart. And it will never ever be repaired by you. I will never forgive you for that. I have forgiven you for many things. But I will never forgive you for that.

You cannot undo that. You cannot undo anything that you DIDN”T do for me. But I met my husband. I had a baby. My life had changed. My life was perfect. I had a beautiful child and husband and my life was perfect. Lots of therapy I did ON MY OWN. Lots of healing, processing, chaplain work, work with ministers and pastors. Healing from the past. SO I  thought I would leave the past in the past. I would allow you into my life and my daughter’s life because I wanted hope. I wanted a father. Then I got sick with this muscle disease. You saw me a few times a year, always late, sometimes forgot. I got mad. DIdn’t speak to you for a year. Was sick of you putting me second to your job and whatever else you found important. But then my daughter got sick. My daughter got sick and you never came. Oh you came a few times. But the promises. Once a month we will meet. Once a month we will do this or that. And nothing. I waited and nothing. Oh when you retire. Always one day. One day came and went.

My daughter is sick. I am sick. I am hurting. I am in terrible physical pain. And I still put her first. I take care of her every single need. Her every single want. 24/7. How could a parent be any different? You should have been over here every single week for the last 7 years helping me with laundry, dinner, bathing the dogs, giving me emotional and physical support. I do it for my daughter. And I am sick. My husband is more of a father in one 24 hour period than you have been in the last 10 years!

And why? I don’t care. I nolonger care about why you cannot follow through. Why you are so busy. Why you can only fit us in maybe once a month. Usually twice a year. I don’t care. You have proven to me that you will never change. You will never be the father I want or deserve. You were not when I went through my childhood tragedy and you are not now. You are and always have been absent.

I can only imagine where I would have been had I told my parents a man was perverted and touched me and my father went to his house and beat him up, put our house on the market, and moved us onto a different lake and started fresh. I would have felt validated, believed. worthy. I would have felt strong and loved. But I got NOTHING. My mother made one phone call to Dennis’ house. Big deal.

Noone held me on their chest and told me everything would be ok. Noone sat next to my bed when I was afraid to sleep because of the nightmares. No one welcomed me into a new home that was safe and away from the evil across the lake.

THAT is what I have been through. I was lost. I was truly lost. I could have been comforted and made to feel secure. I was not until I met my husband. My mother tried her best. I feel my mother tried to do everything that none else even tried. But she was only one person. I have continued therapy all these years on my own. My therapist suggested years ago that I cut all ties with you because you did not take responsibility or even acknowledge what I had been through and by continuing to disappointment me now was just a reminder of what a disappointment you were in the past.

I now agree. I nolonger want your promises. I nolonger want your excuses. I will not let you let my daughter down like you let me down. You already have.

I have moved forward. I am trying to get through lyme disease with me and my daughter. I have no time for disappointments.

In my mind I do not have a father. I have not had a father in a very long time.

I do not want to hear from you. I do not want your KIND of relationship. I do not want anything ever again. I never want to speak to you again.

I believe now you will not say the favorite  words “ I don’t understand” Because if you don’t understand now then you are an idiot.

I will close with this. Recently I commented on facebook that I was upset that my brother visited someone in the hospital for like a week. It was a reminder that I am very alone and not supported at all by my  “busy” family. I deleted it within an hour that I wrote it. I don’t want to hurt my brother by him seeing this or someone else. It was a moment of anger because. Oh my god guess what …I AM HUMAN!!!!! I am not perfect. I had a moment of anger. I deleted it. I think I deserve YEARS of anger. But I will not give any more of my life to my past and being angry and upset only gives more time to the abusers.  Another family member called my mom to tell on me. She said that it was not LIKE me to say something like that. It was not LIKE me to be angry and to tarnish our family name. What if people think our family is not OK. What if people read that and thought that my brother or dad weren’t supporting me. What if?!!! In the last few years. Count how many times my family has come to help me. one hand right? Yes. Disgusting. Excluding my mother ofcourse.

I pray one day my brother and I will reconcile. My brother was raised by two parents who did not teach him loyalty. I feel so bad for him. He has a good heart. He is a good father. A good husband. He doesn’t know how to be a good brother because you didn’t teach him.

Well let me tell you this. I have every right to every emotion that I have. If I want to be angry I will be.  I am entitled to my emotions and more. You are all used to this sweet precious submissive Bethany. When I stand up for myself I must be angry or not able to deal with the past or in need of an intervention or therapy and that is what you think. And that is your way to NEVER be accountable for anything. That is your way to always put everything back on me and never ever be accountable for the fact that you are a terrible father!

This Bethany is stronger than all of you put together. ALL OF YOU!!!!  You don’t know me. I don’t care about our family image because unlike other members of this family I believe the heart and soul and God are the most important things and that an image is only what you are portraying for other people. It is not real. What it all is …a lie. All lies….Don’t want our image to be tarnished. You mean don’t want people to know that we aren’t perfect? Well we aren’t! Don’t want people to know my family has not supported or been there for me? They haven’t. Maybe if image wasn’t so important then my family would have rallied around me. Rioted! Boycotted that ski club. But no. I can’t even put one sentence on facebook without an outraged family member thinking I have gone crazy with anger. Well I haven’t gone crazy. With no help from you or anyone else I am surprisingly normal. I have raised a beautiful loving compassionate child. I am a good mother and a good wife. I know how to be a good friend and I have strong values and integrity and ALWAYS stand up for justice.

I am not Poor Bethany. I am not feel sorry for Bethany. This is how you all have always treated me. All of this family dynamic makes me sick. So consumed with what others think. Superficial. But no one has taken the time to deal with the matters that really should have been addressed long ago. And it is too late for that. I already dealt with them. I am only taking the time to tell you now so I can close fully the chapter on that book.

I am strong. I endured everything alone. Now I have a husband to help me endure this devastating health issue that my daughter and I have.

I have no shame. I do not live in the past. I do not feel obligated to put on a façade to make others feel better about themselves.

My family has failed me. That is the truth. Then they blame me. Then they are ashamed of me. Then they don’t even allow me to have emotions because it does not fit into their idea of what this family image should be.

The truth I am not ashamed to tell. I will keep no secrets. I will not keep anyone’s lies. I will not put on a charade to make everyone thing everything is perfect.

The family member calling my mother because she was mostly upset about me being angry and not sweet, and secondly because of IMAGE, makes me EMBARASSED to call my family my family. embarrassed. I have not tarnished my family. The day you shook dennis’ hand you tarnished it YOURSELF!!! The day you let my brother go back and ski with them YOU tarnished it!

My mother will say…oh Bethany don’t bring this up. Let’s not upset everyone…..because God forgive any of you are ever upset about the reality that has been my life. Hear it. Know it. Feel it. Your daughter was raped. Your daughter was molested. Your daughter sold herself for money. Your daughter was broken.Your daughter was alone. Never validated. always hushed. Never allowed to truly be who I am. BUT your daughter is healed. Since I was 23 years old I have been healed of all that was done to me. It is all of you that have not been healed. Maybe you are guilty. Maybe it is because you cannot let it go. I have no idea. You bring up the ski club and I am healed and YET I can never forget because SOMEONE in this family must always reminds me.

Well now you know…when you bring up the ski club….I just remember losing my childhood to a monster.

I was a victim of terrible crimes. I survived. I am a survivor. I will continue to be strong for my husband and my daughter.

I will not be manipulated or ignored or disappointed anymore by you or anyone else.

The past is in the past. You now know the details of it. I am entitled to every single emotion and I have a husband that validates these emotions.

He, and my child, and God…..They are all I need.

Please do not contact me again.

I thought it would never happen again!

After I got married I thought everything would be different. I had a wonderful husband. I had wonderful friends. I had a daughter. Everything seemed perfect.

What I forgot, or at the time did not yet realize, is the impact of abuse later in life. I was very naive in thinking I was over the worst and nothing was going to happen to me again.

I would be silenced again.

But I had been groomed. I was taught to be polite, not be powerful. I was taught to show manners, not show empowerment. “Sit in uncle Joe’s lap”, ” Give uncle Bob a hug”, It wasn’t just what I was taught but what I was not. I was not taught to listen to my intuition. I didn’t even know I had intuition because I was too busy being polite! “Be sweet.Always be sweet.”

I had also been groomed by the men who abused me. I was taught fear. I was taught silence. I was taught to be very very still and not fight. Conditioning or grooming to really be very unobservant of the red flags that someone can give.And conditioned to not listen to what my instinct was telling me.

So 15 years in to my perfect marriage I was caught off guard. My best friend of 8 years was married. I had been around her husband hundreds of times. And I let my guard down. I don’t know if women should ever completely let their guard down. My husband always says to keep someone in the yellow. Don’t give them the green. Don’t give them the red. Just keep them in the yellow and that way you are watchful and cautious. I too frequently just put someone right into the green.

I went to my friend’s house on a night that I was incredibly upset. I was crying. She was not home but her husband was. He was in his garage. I went in to ask when she would be home and I knew soon after there would not be an escape for me. He locked the door after I came in. Stood in front of the door and had his hand on a rifle leaning against the door frame. I asked him why he had the gun and he said to kill armadillo. I knew this wasn’t true. The reason I was friends with he and his wife is because we did wildlife rehab. I felt that fear creep over me. He instructed me to sit down. I did. He paced back and forth like a caged animal. He rambled about his marriage failing and how he was contemplating suicide. He told me that if he could just have sex with me then everything would be ok. I knew he was talking like a crazy person. Telling me that there was money in the attic and he would give it all to me. He let me go on certain conditions that I still can’t talk about.

I won’t go into all the events of that night. But I was not silent then. I begged. Over and over and over again to please let me go. He finally did.

Now in truth I could not have gotten past a locked door and a man with a gun. The part that upset me the most is that I was frozen. I felt like I could not move. I felt like he was going to kill me and kill himself based on what he was saying.It took me right back to being a child and being frozen. Even if I could have fought him I was to paralyzed from the past to even move.

I thought that this could never happen to me again. I drove home shaking thinking “WHY?” How could this happen again. Should I have not gone into the garage with a man I had known for years looking for his wife? Was it because I was groomed to be so nice, to be frozen in fear?

That night bothers me more than most because I came home and did not say a word. I did not sleep for 3 days. and I did not tell my husband. I was silenced. Once again I did not tell the truth. I eventually did. But it took me many days.

So these are the insights I want to share that I have come to learn about that night….

We cannot blame ourselves. I had no idea what I was walking in to. We cannot beat ourselves up for what we didn’t do after! When you are taught as a child by an abuser to keep your mouth shut that is a very very hard thing to overcome.

But we gain strength in telling the truth.

We have to tell the truth. Unfortunately we will not or may not always get the response we want or deserve or are entitled to but we have to speak! Speak! Do not be silent!

Upon finally hearing the truth my best friend blamed me. She said if I did not wear cute outfits, if I weren’t so pretty, it would not have happened. She told me that I had to forgive him or he would kill himself.

She defended him. She said he admitted to what he had done and she still defended him. Not only blame the victim but ask the victim to forgive the offender! That was a new one for me.

Women must  NOT defend a sexual abuser! Stand up for what is right. Stand up for your friend, for your child, for anyone who is a victim of abuse! Now granted she was probably groomed herself and had her reasons for ignoring the significance of his attack against me. But the time for excusing a man is OVER! I am way past and way over women making excuses for why the men do the things they do to women.

If people only understood what a victim needs! Validation!  I could have healed from that incident in a very short time had she said she would leave him. Had she validated what he had done. Had she apologized. Anything!

But here comes the end part of what I would like to convey to women who have been abused.

We just cannot count on others to give us what we need to heal. We may not ever get validated. We may not ever get justice. We may never get what we deserve so we MUST validate ourselves. We mustn’t blame ourselves. We absolutely HAVE to place the blame where it belongs. On the offender.

Even if no one wants to do anything. Even if you are the only one who knows the truth. Speak it.

I never thought as a 34 year old I would be locked in a room with my best friend’s husband. I had hoped the only man to ever touch me again would only be my husband. I was wrong.

It has taken a long time to get past thinking that somehow I could have done something different.

But there are bad people out there. As children and as adults. Being an adult didn’t mean no man would ever assault me again. Because as an adult I was assaulted again.

So now I know what it feels like to be assaulted as a child and as an adult woman.

I am sharing my experiences on my blog so that no woman feels alone in any thing that has been done to her. I am sharing this part of my life so that my truth is spoken, and so that you can also feel able to speak yours.

Abuse has no age or look. It can happen at any time. It has happened to me many times. And none of them were my fault.

It was not our fault that any of us have ever been abused.  The clothes we wore, the sound of your voice, the way we walked, our kindness, did not get us assaulted.

There are simply very bad people who prey on others and all we can do is keep people in the yellow. Then let our voices be heard so other women do not feel alone in their suffering AND on their path to healing.

It is not about them.

The abuse you endured is not about how THEY feel! THEY don’t want to hear the details. THEY think you should act a certain way. THEY think it happened, let it go. THEY put their feelings onto you and then you have to deal with their feelings as well as your own.

As a survivor of sexual abuse I can  say with certainty that you absolutely cannot bear the burden of THEM.

So if I may give advice to any THEMS of the world:

  1. Do not judge us.
  2. Do not make excuses.
  3. Do not blame us.
  4. Do not put your feelings on us.
  5. Do not expect us to feel sorry for you because you feel sorry for us.
  6. Do not ask us why.
  7. Do not question us.

And for US…..

  1. Do not let them judge.
  2. Do not let them make excuses.
  3. Do not let them blame.
  4. Do not them burden you with their feelings
  5. Do not let them act like a victim when they are not.
  6. Do not feel you have to defend yourself or explain the why of anything.
  7. Do not answer any questions you feel are not asked out of empathy and love.