This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When The "Good Parent" Isn't

This has been rattling around in my brain for several weeks now. I'm not sure whether there's any value in it or not, but I'll leave it in hopes that writing it is another way of working towards acceptance of the truth.

This post may trigger, it contains references to various forms of abuse.

In the year my older brother was 3, my parents decided that they were ready for a second child; in January the following year they bought home their first (and only) daughter. Less than a year after I was born, my father forced himself upon my mother while she was too ill to get to the shop to buy contraception... I was 18 months old when my baby brother came into the world.

To hear my mother tell it, from the day they bought me home, my father doted on me. I was Daddy's little girl, his pride and joy; when he got home from work, he'd come straight in to check on me and ignore my brothers. She cites this as one of the primary reasons for their separation (before my third birthday) and divorce. What my mother doesn't know, or doesn't want to know, is that by the time they separated, my father was already molesting me.

As I grew up, I saw my father every second weekend and the abuse continued, escalating. Under his care, the three of us would be left in the car while he went into the shop; or if we were taken in, we younger two would be left in the care of our brother. He began to date, and eventually married, the woman we were to come to know as our stepmother (s). Briefly, I thought things would surely improve, but it turned out that she was just as bad as he was. (S) was living in a house that had an unfenced, in-ground pool at this time, and though only my older brother was able to swim, we would often be sent outside unsupervised; locked out or thrown into the pool. We would be regularly belittled and harassed for our appearance, personality, behaviour, abilities... anything and everything, basically. I can't speak for what abuses my brothers endured in private, but I was subjected to several kinds of violence on this weekends. I spent a lot of time honestly believing that I could very well die.

My mother, on the other hand, hit us only very occasionally, usually when we were acting like savages. She told us, as children, that we could be anything, do anything, that we wanted. She would tell us that our looks were fine; it was okay to have stuffed toys, to play with trucks, to play with dolls. She wasn't all roses - she'd favour my brothers over me; constantly lay the blame on me for things; call me names as I grew older; be overprotective to the point of controlling...

Small things.

I think it was for this reason that coming to terms with even the idea that my mother is abusive has been, in many ways, even more difficult than coming to terms with the idea that my father was.

In my head, my parents were divided into the 'good' parent and the 'bad' parent. My father, as the one who was more distant, who neglected my brothers, was clearly the bad parent; this left my mother in the 'good' parent role. And, in comparison to my father, she was certainly the better parent. I still believe that whatever damage she's done, she was doing the best job she knew how; she was trying to be a good mother. In truth, the knowledge that she did the best job she knew how to do has been one of the biggest blocks in accepting her behaviour as abusive.

Too, I am able to place more distance between myself and my father. While he is now a figure I see perhaps twice a year, my mother and I live together. I lived with my father full time for just under five years of my life (the first 3 and the two years between 12 & 14), so he remains vaguely a stranger. I lived with my mother for 16 years as a child/teenager, and another 3 or 4 as an adult -- I know her. I see her every day, and I have interactions with her that are positive, and I have interactions with her that aren't.

My mother's abuse is more subversive than my father's, in general. There is more distance. There is a "good parent" block. There are more positive interactions to draw on that hide the abuse. For whatever reason, it blends better; blurs the lines more on what is actually abuse.

It's still so easy to slip into denial. "Of course she's not abusive, I'm just twisting everything she's ever said. It's not abuse if she's right..."

Except that she's not right and it is abuse and it's not acceptable.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.
As hoped, I was released on Monday and have been continuing to recuperate at home, mostly on a mattress on the floor (not comfortable at ALL). I'm back on my bed now, though!

Success Stories:
Negotiating a time with my friend to have him finish fixing my laptop (installing the new keyboard) -- even though it was instigated by him, and we ended up going with the time that he originally suggested and I felt guilty because he was the one doing me the favour.

Even though I'm having no success, I'm practicing my skills as I try to talk to my mother about my plans to move.

Instead of fighting against my thoughts and feelings, I'm actively working on accepting them and trying not to attempt to talk myself out of them.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Working internet.
Bejeweled Blitz.
Scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies.
....and not to forget, just for Sairs, giraffes!

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to not take on board the things my mother says about me.
I do matter, and what's more - I'm allowed to matter.
I am not a bad person.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things To Remember Every Day

I stole this from a handout Carol gave me a few weeks ago. I think we can all do with reminding ourselves regularly of at least one thing on this list -- whether we are women or men.

What it means to be a woman:

* I have the right to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, at all times.

* I have the right to make my own decisions about the course of my life.

* I have the right to have dreams - and to work toward making these dreams come true.

* I have the right to feel good about myself as a person and as a woman.

* I have the right to choose who will be my friends, whom I will spend time with, and whom I will confide in.

* I have the right to make mistakes.

* I have the right to change my mind.

* I have the right to be happy.

* I have the right to ask for what I want.

* I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

* I have the right to express all of my feelings, bo9th positive and negative (in a respectful way).

* I have the right to say no.

* I have the right to determine my own priorities.

* I have the right not to be responsible for others' behaviour, actions, feelings, or problems.

* I have the right to my own needs and personal space and time.

* I have the right to be in a non-abusive relationship.

* I have the right to change and grow.

* I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.

* I have the right to be uniquely myself.

Since this entire post is pretty much cheer-leading statements, I won't include those here, but if I post my homework later tonight, I'll include some separate cheer-leading statements there.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sanguine Saturday In Hospital

Because of the depth and location of this graft, I've been holed up in hospital longer than expected. In fact, very little has gone according to my expectations this time around - I was taken into theatre on Monday morning and on Monday afternoon woke up with two grafts, one of which was attached to an odd vacuum dressing machine that sucked all the gunk out of the wound. The vacuum dressing remained for the first three days and during that time I was not allowed to place any weight on the grafted leg. The day after the dressings came down and the staples were removed, I was allowed to begin taking small walks (such as to the bathroom).

People-wise, I've got good company in here. The fellow in the bed beside me (we'll call him B10) is a real character and has me in fits of laughter a lot, which is good because emotionally I'm generally doing pretty badly. He has some great stories and today he took me to see and feed the feral kitty downstairs (who unfortunately didn't put in an appearance... maybe tomorrow!) There's a lady (B9) opposite him who seems nice, she joins in the joking sometimes but keeps to herself a lot as well, and beside her/opposite me is an elderly man (EB8) who joined us a few days after I did. Before EB8 was in, bed 8 briefly housed a younger fellow who actually went so far as to do a bunk! Just up and disappeared, taking all his belongings, and didn't tell anyone where he was going. B10 of course made the whole situation quite funny.

I am slowly recovering and hoping to go home next Monday.

Success Stories:
Even though it's been difficult, I've been following medical advice, and even agreed to stay in hospital although I could technically have discharged myself as of this morning. (It was "suggested" that I remain, but as I am considered well, it was not enforced.)

When I messed up and almost ran out of internet, I used my skills to ask my brother to use his credit card so that I could recharge it.

I used my skills to ask for a couple of things that I needed here in the hospital which due to one thing or another, I either didn't have or had lost.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
The internet.
Being able to walk.
Bejeweled Blitz.
Precious friends.
Good painkillers!

Cheer-leading statements:
This, too, shall pass. All things pass when we let them.
I do not have to apply black-and-white thinking to my life.
Just because my mother is nice on one occasion does not override the times when she is not nice, and vice versa. She can be both.
Making some bad decisions doesn't make me a freak or a failure, it just means that I am still learning.
It doesn't matter how many times I fall down - as long as I always get back up one time more than I fall.
I am not a bad person.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sanguine Saturday

My nephew turned four this week. Happy birthday, little man. And I go for another skin graft next week - planning to take my laptop, this time, but I don't know how much internet I'll end up using.

Success Stories:
I could have chosen to ignore health advice and not consented to a skin graft, but instead, I made the choice that looks after my physical health needs.

I've done a little bit more sorting through of my things.

Even though I haven't much felt like it, I've been doing some Pleasant Event scheduling.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Scrapbooking supplies.
All three children told me today that their favourite animal is the giraffe. (I've taught them well!)
Terry Pratchett.

Cheer-leading statements:
Just because something isn't possible right now doesn't mean it won't ever happen.
It's okay to take baby steps. Baby steps are still steps!

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sanguine Sunday

I had every intention of getting this posted up yesterday but with one thing and another, I found myself really struggling to present a unified front to the world. I'm a little better again this morning, so here goes nothing.

Success Stories:
I've spent a bit more time going through some of my things and sorting out what I'm keeping to take with me and what I'm selling/giving away.

Even though I haven't been following my PLEASE skills as well as I perhaps 'should' be, I'm trying to be a little gentle with myself about it.

I went to the dentist (major trigger) to get one of my many dental problems sorted out.

I'm still struggling to make the right choices all the time, and I'm still falling down a lot, but I'm also still trying, and that's worth quite a lot.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Good friends, both near and far.
It's Ekka time again!
Chai tea, and watching my friend's face when she experienced her first taste of it.
All the little notes etc around my room, because they remind me of the people who gave/sent them to me.
My necklace, because it has a heart & flower from my best friend, a heart & flower from one of my closest offline friends, and a giraffe. It also used to have a memento from the lovely River, but I fidgeted with it so much that I broke that off.

Cheer-leading statements:
It''s not disloyal to admit that my family are abusive.
It's okay to feel the way I feel.
Having a hard time doesn't mean that I'm a bad person.
If it's not okay for someone else, then maybe it's not okay for me, either!
The butterfly and the caterpillar don't make liars of each other.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.