featherhead

duckhead

My daughter and I used to visit “feather head” when she was a little girl. He was a local celebrity at a pond not far from our house. He was the only feather head for many years. One afternoon we saw a few baby feather heads and realized his legacy would live on! I loved these moments in my daughter’s childhood. Just the two of us going out on adventures. As she got older we brought her friends. My house was the house that parents trusted their children to be. Most of them knew about my past and knew I was fiercely protective over all children. One father dropped his daughter off and asked me to please do not let any men in my house while she was here. He said if my father, a neighbor male, or my brother were to drop by, he wanted me to promise I would not let them in. I found this request completely reasonable and I felt honored he trusted me to keep my word. Her friends played in the sprinklers, played hide and seek, and had picnics on the grass. We visited farms, rode horses, and she had sleep overs often here. She got to experience a childhood. She wasn’t sheltered. We experienced life to its fullest. I let her grow up. She got her drivers licence and I let her go to the movies with her friends and go to their highschool football games.She always went with another friend and never went alone. We had rules and guidelines set up for her safety. We parented in a way that allowed her self confidence, intuition, security, and love. We taught her of the dangers. She then went out into the world prepared.

We were headed to an appointment last week and drove past the duck pond. She still remembered featherhead. Those moments are the moments all children deserve. They deserve their childhood. They deserve those memories. I am so grateful that she has them.

The timeline.

While going through therapy I have struggled with a timeline. I blocked out years. I blocked out certain time periods. I understand why and I have been gentle with my memories but I desperately needed to know the chain of events that led me to different points in my life. I did not want to remember the blocked memories, they will come when I am ready.  I wanted to remember the blocked timeline so that when the memories come I can feel more in control. Knowing the timeline helps me to process the memory. The more I understand about myself and how I process trauma, the more I can change that muscle memory response. That is at least my hope. So I contacted every person that I still know from that time period and finally pieced together my memories and my timeline. Now I finally understand why “Trauma” is so relevant. That word has been recently introduced to me and I am just now grasping the gravity of the word. The gravity of what has happened to me. The magnitude of traumas that I endured. Where my memories begin and where my timeline began floored me. I will share more.

I looked through old pictures. I looked up ages of the men in my life at that time. In a young girl’s mind things are very distorted. I have clarity now. That clarity is appauling. Google and Facebook are fabulous ways of getting the answers you need. I was shocked at what I discovered.

In 1986 I was only 14 years old. I entered a ski school and was molested by a man that was 22. (In my confused memory I was 16 and he was 18)This is where my timeline began. Later that year I went to Costa Rica and was molested by a boyfriend of someone on our ski team. Still, I was only 14 years old. The gap between 14-16 is still there and I don’t remember much. My junior year of high school I transferred to another school. It was 1989 and I was 16 years old. That next summer was hell. I went to ski with a ski team in Indiana. I got off the plane to a man who picked me up and took me to his house for a few days before joining the team housing. Rusty was 25 years old. I had just turned 17. I had no idea what was happening when he chose to have sex with me for those few days before heading to my new job. I thought, “He must love me, I must be something special!” Confused thoughts of an abuse victim.  I was only 17 but had been exposed to forced sexual assaults for so many years that I knew no different. I remember he drove me in his jeep. I was on top of the world. The wind was blowing my hair and we were driving through miles of corn fields and open skies. When we got to work he acted as if he did not know me at all. His girlfriend arrived shortly after. I was devastated. I was used and discarded like so many times before as a child. This was different. I thought this man liked me. I thought this meant I was to be his girlfriend and we would ski all summer as a couple. I thought I would stay at his house with him. I didn’t. I was dumped like garbage. This was my breaking point.I came home from that trip and intentionally crashed my car into a tree. I was finished. But I wasn’t. I survived to date a man who was secretly an owner of an “escort service” AKA prostitution. He used me up even further unitl the police got him. I attempted suicide again that next year. I was 17 still. I had gone back to Indiana and another man had had sex with me. He was 27. It was a repeat of Rusty. Ty was his name. I thought he was different. He actually took me to a movie before he had sex with me.I even remember the name of the movie! The Hunt For Red October. But he had a girlfriend too. I was just being used up even more. I remember laying my head on his chest. He was stroking my back and I thought, “I KNOW this is going to be different!” He was the same as the rest.  I came home and tried to find “normal”. I didn’t know what normal was. I knew that men had sex with me and 99% of the time I had no idea what I was supposed to do about it. They just did it. I just let them. I truly did not know any different. I had no intuition or guidance. I let any man take me out and do with me what he wanted. That year I was date raped and did absolutely nothing about it. 1989 was a very bad year for me. Men had tricked me, manipulated me, used me, and abused me. I didn’t even know why I wanted to die because these heinous crimes were only small in my mind then. I didn’t “know” but I “felt” and there was a vast emptiness that was enveloping me. I look at the time line and I see very clearly I could not stand one more minute of my body being violated. My timeline started in 1986 when I was 14 years old. The incidents that happened during the years of 1986-1989 I looked at on this piece of paper that I was documenting.Then I realized they did not include the years before when the ski coach molested me prior to 1986. I don’t remember when he started. But as every other violation happened I came home to see that man who molested me all those years before and continued to do so inbetween the others.  It is no wonder I wanted to die. It is no wonder I tried to end my life twice. When I turned 18 Rusty came to do a competition with me. He was 26 then. He stayed at our house. We did the competition and that led to my job waterskiing at Seaworld where Rusty also worked, acted like he did not know me, but felt it appropriate to slap my ass repeatedly and tell me to “tighten up” because I was “getting fat”. I weighed 99 lbs. It is no wonder I then lived on slimfast for 2 years after.

If you have not been abused, you will not understand. “Why didn’t you tell someone that Billy molested you when you were 13?” ….. ” Why didn’t you tell anyone that the man at the ski school molested you at 14?”….” Why didn’t you tell anyone when you were 14 in Costa rica that a man molested you?” ….” Why did you let me have sex with you when you were 17?”  If you have not been molested you will not understand the answers to these questions but I will try my best to sum them up for you.

I did not tell because I was afraid.

I did not tell because I was confused.

I did not tell because I was so violated, so abused, and so broken down, that my spirit was broken and I was a shell of a child stumbling aimlessly through life.

I did nothing because I had been manipulated for so many years that I BELIEVED my role was to allow men to do this to me. They twisted my mind so much that I had no IDEA that what was happening was something I was supposed to tell.

I did not tell because I was no longer a person. I was numb. I learned to leave my body. I learned to get through it. I learned to keep my mouth shut and take it. I learned that I was stuck in the role of constant rape and I would never get out. THIS is what happens when abuse starts at an early age.

A 22 year old man cannot molest a 14 year old girl. A 50 year old man cannot molest a 13 year old girl. A 25 year old man cannot have sex with a 17 year old girl. a 27 year old man cannot have sex with a 17 year old girl. These are all criminal acts. All of these men should be in prison. They are not. I found them all online. They are still waterskiing, having milliondollar businesses, and have families. AND there is no doubt in my mind still molesting girls.

Every SINGLE act committed against me as a child could have been prevented. I was tossed into a waterskiing world unprotected. A 25 year old man should not have picked me up from the airport nor should he have later stayed at my house. I should not have been left alone in a foreign country at 14. I should not have been allowed to go to a 50 year old man’s home alone. I should not have been at a ski school without my parents. I didn’t know any better ALL of those men knew exactly what they were doing. They knew better when they committed crimes against a child.

How can you prevent these things from happening? I am not saying everything is preventable. BUT… You pay attention. You make choices for your children KNOWING that there are predators out there.

THERE ARE PREDATORS OUT THERE!!!!

As a parent it is your responsibility to not put your child in a situation where they may encounter one. They are a child. You are the parent. A child should not have to carry the weight of abuse that could have been prevented. I was alone. With men. I was a child. YES you should be nervous as a parent. YES you should be cautious.

Here is the one question I have for every parent who asks, ” Am I supposed to worry about everyone my child is with? I have to let them go out into the world right? I cannot shelter them forever!”  And here is your answer: Yes. You are to worry about everyone your child is with. No you do not need to send them out into the world as an innocent child unprotected. Yes, you can shelter them for as long as possible. Is your child not worth that? Are you worried what other parents will say? Worry about your child MORE! 

Are you worried what other parents will say? Worry about your child MORE! 

Not counting Billy from our ski team, and the years and the times before I was 14 that I do not completely remember, I was sexually abused by 7 different men before the age of 17. It is no surprise I wanted to die. It is no surprise that I blocked out my timeline. It is no surprise that I have PTSD because of it all. I now have my timeline and understand very clearly what led to my attempted suicides. I appreciate everyone who helped me remember these dates so that I could really see the “why” of it all. Hopefully this will help in processing the trauma during therapy.

The water skiing world was a place of torment for me. It was torture. It was a place where my spirit was stolen. A few men gave me fond memories. I would be lifted into the air on the water and feel magical. The waterskiing world still exists. The companies I worked for are still in existence. The men who stole my childhood are thriving men. I do not beat myself up for not reporting them. As an adult I can see I had no ability to do that. I had no voice. I have a voice now and I am yelling as loudly as I can to all of you parents out there…

PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN! At all cost. Please, protect your children.

 

Nevermore.

 
You are gone.
With you
I no longer belong.
I once did as a little child.
When life was easier
Than it is now.
It was simple to love my daddy as a little girl.
When you tossed me in the air
And said poems about my curls.

Time was not kind.
And when the monsters came
You did nothing to stand in their way.
I believe you left and never came back
After that very day.

Your words were always perfect.
Your promises so real.
But how you show your love
I could barely feel.

I held to memories past
Hope kept me til this day.
Many saw my tears.
Many saw me wait.
But you never came.
Why?
Why did you have to change.

I’ll think you of forever.
Because I’m built that way
But no longer will I think of you
every single day.
A fleeting thought,
I may.

I’ve seen you love others
I know that you know how
But you stopped showing me
For a long time now.

I smiled for you
One last time
Yesterday on the shore
We rode those waves when you were still my daddy
And I was still your little girl.
Nevermore.
Nevermore.

I will carry it with you.

I started my blog to release the shame of the secrets of abuse. I started my blog to create a space for others to release their shame as well. We, as abuse survivors, carry so much. We have held in and held on to so much. Some have never spoken their secrets. Some have never shared their pain. They don’t feel safe to do so. They don’t feel ready. I know how that feels. I have walked this walk of abuse and recovery. I have spoken about every detail of abuse and every emotion accompanying it. I have struggled. I have suffered. I understand suffering. It is hard to carry alone.

I am reaching out to you now. I am reaching out my hand to you. I am opening my heart to you. I am giving you a safe place to know you are not alone in this fight. I am in it with you.

Often times people will tell me that they don’t want to tell me about their bad day because they know I am dealing with so much. Sharing your bad day with me does not make anything about my life harder. Sharing your pain and frustrations with me does not make me feel burdened. I feel honored. We are not in a competition. There is no, ” You’ve got more than I do.” Cancer does not weigh more than a muscle disease. A muscle disease does not weigh more than a car crash. A car crash does not weigh more than a bad marriage. One does not out do or undo or cancel our or lessen the other. Each experience that you have is not changed because I have health problems and have suffered abuse. Your experiences are real and deserve just as much time and listening and validation as what I am going through.

You do not have to go through it alone. I will listen. I will understand. If you need to release your secret, you can release it to me. I will carry it with you so you don’t have to do it alone. I am here. You are not alone.

Trauma therapy

After I left the Mayo clinic for my iron infusion I went to the beach. It was the first time I had been to the beach in 17 years. My husband carried me through the soft deep sand that I could not walk on and down to the water. I immediately started to cry. I felt free. I had these moments standing there where I was just me. I felt no pain. I felt no sorrow. I felt at peace. I will cherish those moments forever. I can’t remember the last time I was able to have a clear mind. I cannot remember a time where I have ever felt completely free and at peace. This is truly the only moment. Thankfully my husband took a picture so I could document this moment of rarity. I kept that feeling with me longer than I thought I could. My legs started to shake. I felt pain from standing but it didn’t matter at all. Even on the 2 hour trip home I felt…alive. I felt free of attachments. Nothing clinging to me. No memories or unwanted thoughts. Just me.

The next morning we decided to make this beach trip something we needed to do often. If I could make that drive for a Doctor then I could make it for my well being!

A few days passed and I felt the familiar unwanted anxiety. I resumed life of meeting people out and hoping no one had cologne on that would trigger a flashback or give me a rash. I woke up with adrenaline and went to bed with a sadness coming from a place I couldn’t put my finger on. I went back to therapy where she explained imagery and how to, in stressful situations, put myself back in the peaceful beach mode by integrating all of my senses in the image. It hasn’t worked. She tried me on a new medication that made me even more anxiety ridden and agitated. I know I have to trudge through. I know that the therapy I am doing is going to be a lot of work. Trauma therapy…

This is what I think of trauma therapy…

poorbabyarm

 

My husband shattered his arm many years ago. They had to put an external fixator in to hold everything together . Four bars were drilled into his bones so that his arm could heal. Four times a day we had to take off the gauze, clean the area, put antibiotic on it, and cover it again. When his bones were healed they unscrewed those bars while he was completely awake, unsedated. It seemed barbaric, the entire thing. The drilling into his bones, the unscrewing them out of his bones, this contraption on his arm. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t get comfortable. It was extremely painful from beginning to end. Then his arm was healed. He has scars. But he is healed. But getting there was a nightmare. Getting from shattered to healed was a nightmare.

That is what trauma therapy feels like. I was already shattered but someone finally took an xray and said, “Yes, you have had trauma.”  It feels like someone is drilling into my memories. It feels like someone is trying to put together all the pieces of the shattered injuries. I can’t sleep. It is painful. It is nauseating. It leaves a pit in my stomach. It is a nightmare. It is not me standing on the beach!!!!! But in the end, I hope that the nightmare will end and I will wake up with some scars and a body that is healed. For now, it all hurts. My body hurts, I feel confused and I have no idea why. I feel sad and I have no idea why. Is it residual meds that we discontinued? Is it the dread/hope of starting a new med? Is it the possibility that I cannot tolerate any of these meds and this is just how I will be forever? I’ve spent months trying meds that I reacted badly to. The therapy is actually very gentle. It focuses on the good. It tries to bring good into the bad. But when you have never said the words out loud, the crimes committed against you, it is painful. It is an awareness I did not have before of the true pain I feel internally for what was done to me externally. It is an awareness I was not prepared for because I had no idea how deep it went.

This therapy taps into all of the guarded places. This therapy acknowledges and validates all those wounded places.  This therapy is work. This therapy may be all I have in the way of dealing with the trauma that I experienced because medication may not be an option. It is scary. It is a process that I trust, but it is still scary.

I WANT to be that girl on the beach! Every moment of every day for the rest of my life! But I am that broken arm with an external fixator right now. And it is so so hard. I can revisit that girl on the beach but until the bars get unscrewed, I am still going to remain shattered trying to hold it all together, hoping that healing will come sooner than later.

 

 

The red zone

redzone

I ADORED the lake I grew up on. I swam to my Nana’s house which was directly across the lake from us on a regular basis. I swam every day the water was warm enough to swim in. I was never scared of the water but I was PETRIFIED of the weeds. The weeds were my red zone.

My neighbor through the woods would infrequently baby sit us. When ever she got the opportunity she would throw me into the weeds and laugh. I so hated her for doing that.I am pretty sure I still can’t stand her for doing that. She had to be about 10 years older than we were.  It invoked such fear. When I waterskied I stayed far from the weeds.

One day I was sitting on someone’s shoulders in the lake. He grabbed my hands and pulled my face down underwater. Then he came back up and pulled my arms down again. Over and over again so that I was literally drowning. It was a game people played in the lake like marco polo and everyone always laughed. So funny to be playing and then yank someone’s face underwater.

I didn’t like the weeds. I didn’t like having my face yanked underwater. Those were my two red zones in that lake. Other than that, the lake was a place that I felt alive, serene, peaceful, and free.

This picture is of the exact weeds. They were on the corner of our property of the lake front. All white sandy bottom and clear except that one patch of weeds. I guess anyone in Florida or out would say,  “Well that is a logical fear because of the snakes and alligators.” But I wasn’t afraid of those things. I was just afraid of those stupid weeds.

I was thinking about the feeling of being dunked underwater. I was thinking of the person who thought it was funny to slam my face under and not let me breathe. I was thinking about that neighbor who thought it was funny to throw me into the thing I was most afraid of. I was thinking of these red zones.

For someone who does not know what it feels like to be molested. Find your red zone. Multiply it by 1000. Then you will understand.