Category Archives: The Father

Basket Case No More

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This weekend I’m running into a trigger that’s not unexpected under the circumstances but is surprising me with its ferocity at times. The trigger is the fact that I’m going to my former community college campus this week to take care of a financial aid issue so I can go back to school in September. The reason it’s triggering to even think about it is because I was a total basket case the first time I went to school there.

The autumn after I graduated from high school I was still living at home, my father was still raping me, I could still not break away at all even though my boyfriend was trying to help me with that. He didn’t know what was going on at home. I didn’t know what was going on. Each instance was hidden away in one nook or another in my mind. It took a lot of learning about DID to figure out how I never seemed to know what was going on and why it took so long (only four years ago) to remember the abuse that went on after I became an adult.

The summer after graduation was a semi-disaster of trying to work my very first job other than babysitting. It didn’t go over very well and toward the end of the summer I ended up in the hospital for the second time. (The first time being for three months when I was a senior in high school.) I still couldn’t remember what was going on but the hospital was at least a safe haven. I stabilized some, went back home, and started community college. That in itself was quite an undertaking. We lived out in the boonies 20 miles from campus and I didn’t drive. I found someone to ride share with but I still had to walk or ride my bike at least 1 1/4 miles to meet my ride, and usually 2 miles. I had to sync my schedule with hers and when I had a psych appointment after classes it created a logistical nightmare for me. On those days the closest I could get to home on buses still left me with 12 miles to figure out. Between that and what was going on at home, I was a mess. (Also, my psychiatrist was a complete asshole to me, which didn’t help. He was also an offender against some of his patients and lost his license a few years after I stopped seeing him. I sometimes still wonder if he hurt me and I’m not remembering that yet. I would have been a prime candidate for his abuse.)

In some ways I don’t remember a whole lot about being in school for those two terms, in other ways I remember plenty. I remember looking up ways to hurt or kill myself in the school library a lot, and my boyfriend in tears restraining me from scratching myself with a paper clip. I remember having a hard time in classes and a hard time studying at home. I remember buying hot canned ravioli out of the vending machine but also going hungry many days because my stepmother wouldn’t provide anything at home for me to make lunches with and I wasn’t given enough allowance to make it through my school week. I remember a crush on a deaf guy in one of my classes. To me/us he seemed alone and needy like me/us even though I can look back now and know he was probably pretty well okay. I remember being thankful for Mondays because it meant my father was out of the house for the week for work, and feeling more and more dread as Friday night approached because it meant he would be home to wreak his terror on me over the weekend. I remember wearing my grandfather’s old blue and white railroad overalls, which I embroidered a bold peace sign onto the back of. I remember a lot of turmoil for my boyfriend and me. I remember ending up in the hospital several times before I finally knew school wasn’t working for me. I remember feeling lost and, well, a basket case. I was a mess, I really was.

About 13 years later I took a handful of classes on that campus again. It was triggering but back then my mind was just telling me that it was because I was having so much trouble with life the first time I’d been there. Now I’m planning on going back there and will be on campus this week. Now I have so much more knowledge and memory of what was going on back in late 1987 and early 1988. The knowledge is both empowering and scary as shit. The anxiety was more vague the second time I took classes there. This time it’s not vague. At moments, not vague at all. Memories bordering on flash backs, intrusive thoughts, moments of feeling like I’m going into a panic attack. Listening to a couple songs yesterday from my favorite album during my basket case community college days really threw me for a loop. Being on campus won’t be easy at times, I can tell already. I worry that I won’t be able to tolerate being there.

The good thing is that I’m armed with knowledge and memory. This knowledge and these memories may haunt me but they make it possible for me to say “That was over a quarter century ago. That man is locked up for the rest of his life and has no power over us now. He’ll never rape again, he has no say in our life. We get to have the power by proudly being well enough to not only go back to school but to do it at a place that evokes negative memories. We are okay now. We are okay!” I’m no longer a basket case. None of us are. We can do this. We can do this.

I Don’t Know How

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I can’t do it. I cannot do it. I can’t.

Tonight I’m so scared about the thought of leaving here, of changing my life. How can I really make it work out okay? I haven’t had to start over in 11 years. To have to start all over again? To have only a couple people to fall back on logistically? To lose people who love me and whom I love (DH’s family)? How the hell do I do that?! I don’t know how to do that.

There are a lot of things that need to fall into place and I’m so worried they won’t. If the first thing doesn’t work out, I’m kind of screwed. What if I really can’t get things to work out the way they need to?

I feel really terrified about it all tonight. And very trapped. And I keep crying. And I’m switchy and we keep going between me, Rhiannon, and Robert. Robert is outstanding at putting my father’s words into my head. He was programmed to do that and he’s way too good at it at times. Like tonight. “You’ll never get out. You’re where you’re supposed to be, taking care of a man, and don’t you forget that. You’re not strong enough to do this. You don’t have the guts. You are his forever!” And Rhiannon knows this is all true, and what are we doing trying to change that? We should go to DH’s bedside right this minute, even though he’s sleeping, and give him the love and hugs we (I, Kali) have been withholding lately. And I’m trying to have hope that I could make the changes happen and work out even though I’m fucking scared. I think it’s a very good thing DH is asleep, because I think Rhiannon would have gone to him and told him what’s going on and said we wouldn’t leave.

Fear sucks. My bravado is completely obliterated tonight. I know I want to be out of this marriage, out of this town. I know I need that. I’m just so afraid something will go badly once the process is in action and I’ll have nowhere to go. I’m afraid of the stress migraines I know I’ll get, am starting to get right now. I’m afraid of losing my belongings. I’m afraid of ending up in the hospital from the stress. I know the logistical steps to make things happen (or at least try to make things happen) but I don’t feel brave enough to move forward.

I hate this.

~Kali

Sociopathic Blindness (A letter to my father)

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I’ve been crying on and off for many hours today. I wish you could see and understand why. I wish you could see how far-reaching your actions are. I wish I could open your sociopathic eyes and you could really see the damage you’ve done. But therein lies the problem: you are a sociopath. You don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. But I wish so much that I could pry your mind open so your eyes and your heart could see.

I wish you could see how much your entire family struggles because of your actions. Your brother has lost his faith, one of your sisters was nearly homeless at one point even while she was critically ill. Your oldest two children unable to work, one (me) directly because of what you did, the other indirectly. I can’t say anything about your two younger children because they chose to remove themselves from my life—due to your actions. All five of your grandchildren are struggling. Two have been homeless, another is on the verge of it. One is on disability directly because of your actions. One of your grandchildren has no money for food and is immobilized by depression and anxiety so hasn’t applied for food stamps. He’s so immobilized that he doesn’t care if he has no food and actually considers it to be a possible means of suicide, just letting himself fade away. Today I especially wish you could see that! I wish you could see how scary it is for this mother to see her child in such a horrifying place in life.

I wish you could see how your actions ripple out to those around us. My ex-husband and his family, my current husband and his family. My friends—and for a couple of them, their families. My therapist, who has cried for me on numerous occasions. People who treat our bodies and our minds. Your actions affect people in this community, this state, this entire country who have never met any of us—every person in this country who pays taxes so your children and grandchildren have shelter and food and a meager existence.

I wish you could see how ridiculous it is, how ridiculous it often feels to be proud that I haven’t been in the hospital in years and haven’t cut or burned or been in respite in over a year. I wish you could see how much I struggle just to make sure my top two priorities in life right now happen: eating a clean, wholesome, healthy diet and getting out for a walk every day. Some days I can still barely manage much more than that. I shouldn’t be reveling in not cutting myself when things feel so out of control. I shouldn’t be reveling in crossing off every item on my piddly daily list of tasks. I should be reveling in attending my 100th, 300th, 500th birth. I should be reveling in the way my fruit and vegetable garden would be looking this time of year. I should be reveling in the amazing things my children should be able to do.

I wish you could see the pain in our lives and on our faces. I wish you could have seen me sobbing uncontrollably at times today, and sighing and shuddering still, tears in my eyes. I wish you could have seen my husband trying to console me, holding me and asking if there was anything he could do. I wish you could read the words of my two best friends as they offered their love and support online today.

But even if you were right here with us you wouldn’t see it. Your sociopathic brain will never let you believe you’ve done anything wrong or see the damage that wrong has done. But really, the saddest thing is that you also don’t get to see how we are all moving forward in life. You don’t get to see your third grandson learning a trade he enjoys. You don’t get to see me healing so much that I can think about ending therapy, that even when the thought of harming myself shows up I refuse to do it because I know it makes things worse and it lets you win. You don’t get to see your son’s amazing faith in God in spite of all the damage you’ve done. You don’t get to feel the relief I have knowing that even though one of my children doesn’t even care if he eats, his brother is starting to be a productive, happy person. The very saddest thing is that you don’t get to see us live.

Edited to add: I can’t believe I made it through all that without crying! All day the post was writing itself in my head and I kept crying over what I might write. I’m really thankful not to be in tears again.

Growth in Dreams

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Yesterday morning I had a dream that I’d say was a breakthrough. I dreamed that my former stepmother had me come up to her house (her house, not their house) to take care of some kids while she and some other women did something. (Co-workers for a meeting? I don’t think I ever knew, and now the dream is even sketchier in my head.) There was the usual theme of looking around the (a) house. She was showing me changes she’d made now that my father wasn’t around. (Now that he wasn’t around!) I was impressed not only with some of the changes but with the way she was able to turn the house of hell into her own space, her own dream home. I can’t remember much more than that but I do remember being very aware in the dream that it wasn’t my father’s house at all anymore and that he wasn’t going to be there.

This is a big change! So many dreams of being at that house or someone else’s and he would be there and no one else saw any problem with that. All those dreams with that going on, then the one about a month ago where I thought about pushing him into the rushing creek next to the house and it was implied that I did that. And now being at the house and it wasn’t his in any way and he wasn’t there or going to be there because he wasn’t supposed to be there! It do consider it a bad dream/nightmare because it unsettled me pretty badly. (My therapist and I decided that even if I dream doesn’t have me waking up gasping or something similar it’s still a nightmare because it’s so very unsettling.) And I got triggered by several things during the day and was quite dissociative at times, but it was still a dream of growth. And even though I’m feeling anxious right now telling you about the dream, I’m thrilled to be telling you.

It amazes me how much growth can be seen in dreams!

Five Years

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Today is my father’s arrest anniversary for the heinous things he did to my niece. It feels more like a non-event to me than anything, really. I do think working up to this day probably has a lot to do with some rapid switching that’s been going on, though. Even though the day feels so much less heavy, we do feel it. Fairly often these days, I find myself wishing he would just pass away so I could find out if there is a trust fund set up for me. I don’t want him to die some horrible death, I just wish he wasn’t around anymore, with or without a trust fund.

Anyway, I’m really proud of how far I—we—have come in the past five years. Even though it’s more like a movie in my head these days, I can still remember the moment that night when my brother said he knew our father had hurt me as well as my niece. I can see the the floor rushing up to me as I collapsed in a sobbing heap, recognizing my truth instantly. I can hear my brother’s voice, feel his arm around me. I can hear him telling the other people in the room to come to me, come support me. And they did. That night five years ago it felt like my world was shattering and falling together all at once.

So much has happened in these five years. So many changes. I’m much more whole than I ever was before I started remembering things, because I can work through the truth and heal from it. The truth can be hard to face but I’m a better person know that I know it and can work through it as it smacks me in the face. As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way, baby. It’s hard not to think of how far it seems there is to go, but I’m thankful for what I’ve got so far.

Ashes, Ashes…

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This evening I was putting some laundry away after having a rather immobilized day. Out of the blue the words to a nursery rhyme came to me: “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” I don’t know where it came from but it fits so well these days. At times lately I honestly feel like I’m just going to drop from stressors that are hitting me. I keep making it through but I really want to drop sometimes. And thinking about how I keep making it through each day, sometimes each hour, occasionally each minute, made me realize how much I really have risen from the ashes of my father’s arrest and my own version of Pandora’s box flying open that night nearly five years ago. I still have some of the same things going on but I deal with them in healthier and more constructive ways.

The past couple of days I’ve felt tired, sad, emotional, sometimes downright immobilized. Even though I know there are very valid reasons for this, it frustrates me and makes me feel weak. I find myself thinking, “Come on, get it together, just get up out of your chair.” Sometimes I simply can’t move myself. Then someone (hello, Robert) takes off with that and will rant and rave about how weak I am. This really doesn’t help one tiny bit. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and also making it clear to Robert that gentleness is what we need, not berating. Some moments are better than others, that’s for sure. I had plans for this week that are pretty well derailed but after two days of immobilization, I’m letting that be. The fridge will still be there to be cleaned. The carpet cleaner is “ours” for as long as we need it. That Valentine craft project can wait–we have Valentine’s Day every year, plus I did finish the one that was most important to me. DH has become quite adept at making simple meals for dinner. I refuse to put life on hold completely but I can be gentle with myself and work through the immobilization, the sadness, the fatigue. Much better to be gentle than all fall down.

The Good, Good Life is Just a Dream Away

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Several mornings ago I had a dream that, thankfully, I was able to write down after I woke up. Considering that my father’s arrest anniversary is in a  month, the dream isn’t all that surprising. It contained several recurring elements.

I was at what is now my former stepmother’s (STM) home for a get-together with some of my family and some of her family. It felt awkward at first since it was the first time seeing STM or her family since my father was arrested. One of STM’s sisters was talking to me, asking how I was and such. We were getting food on the table for a big meal.

It was as if my father were dead. STM’s sister or someone from her family handed me a box of pictures and mementos. I was triggered and intrigued at the same time. The person said, “He wanted you to have these.” I wanted to look through them but I knew I might fall apart so I set them aside for later. There were also Christmas gifts that STM’s sister was handing out. My younger half-brother was there but I didn’t have a chance to talk to him at all.

At some point I was outside helping my grandmother navigate some rough terrain to the door of the house. She surprised me by being able to handle it even though she purposely made it look to people like she couldn’t do such things.

Then my father showed up. As usual, it phased no one but me. He seemed pretty pleased with himself to not be in prison when he knew I thought he still should be. He was proudly showing me improvements they’d made on the house.

We were standing on a porch that went over a rushing creek. There was no rail on the porch yet. Amazingly, I wasn’t afraid of the water. I kept wishing he’d fall in the water and drown, as I’d seen about someone on a news story recently. Then I was watching him fall off the porch and hitting his head on a rock in the creek. The water was no longer rushing; it was was now just meandering. I watched to see if he’d get up. When he didn’t, I watched to see if the water was deep enough to cover his face. (He was lying flat on his back.) When I was satisfied that the water sufficiently covered his face, I turned around and left. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened because I wasn’t sure if I had pushed him or not. When someone asked if I knew where he was I said I hadn’t seen him. My actions (and inactions) definitely made it seem like I had pushed him into the creek.

I think the most bizarre thing about this dream is how detached I’ve felt from it. It’s obviously a disturbing dream, yet I didn’t wake up afraid or even unsettled like I normally would. I still feel quite detached from it. When I woke up and was able to write the dream down I was quite dissociative, trapped in derealization. While I jotted down the dream my cat Abi came to me and was rather insistent on nudging me, licking and nibbling my fingers, licking my face. She only licks my face when she knows something is wrong. I shooed her away and wrote this:

“Having one of those moments where I wonder if I’m in a dream. Is Abi really in my lap purring or am I dreaming it? Is she really almost six years old with her six-year-old kitty face in my hands or am I dreaming that she grew up? Is she only a dream?!  Is she really real? Am I going to wake up and find out she never existed?”

The derealization as well as depersonalization and just not feeling all here have been quite bothersome lately. Either I was dealing with this less for a while or I’m really noticing it these days. It makes perfect sense that it’s happening but it’s unsettling. Even though the dream has not felt that way. It worries me in a way, if that makes any sense. What I do know is that I’m going to lie down to sleep soon and I really hope I don’t have an unsettling dream. Or one that isn’t when it seems like it should be.

**Props to anyone who knows the song reference in the title. Without Googling. ;-)

Birthday + Anniversary = Varying Degrees of Chaos

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I’ve been wanting to write but have a hard time churning out posts like some of you do. And sometimes I feel like what I have to say doesn’t matter. I know what you’re thinking and what some of you will probably say: that anything I have to say is worthwhile. There’s been a lot of feeling inadequate and less than others lately and it spills out into my blogging. I see some of you writing about therapy and healing and my words feel inconsequential before they even hit the page. But at least I can identify that a lot of this is feeling below you all. And I know it has to do with the title of this post.

My mother’s birthday is in a couple days. Even though our brief attempt at reconnecting didn’t work out for me, I still wish that I could write to her and tell her I want the best for her and that I hope she has a lovely birthday. I can’t do that because I can’t deal with the possibility of her starting to write letters again and the craziness that comes with that. But I honestly do hope her birthday is special. She had her faults and could definitely be abusive, but I extend far more grace than my brother seems to be willing to do, because I know she was abused and victimized growing up and then with my father. I’m sending you peace, PSD. You deserve that.

And then there’s the upcoming anniversary that has been causing so much chaos for us lately. In a month it will be five years since my father’s arrest for hurting my niece. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. He has been out of our life for five years! And yet he’s still so very present. The anniversary discombobulates us in general but it also has a few of us very much not okay. Robert has made physical threats toward this body, both regarding self injury and worse. Rhiannon is filled with guilt about not taking care of him “properly” and well enough to keep him from harming my niece and therefore getting arrested. She’s also stuck in one of her cycles of feeling like she’s not taking care of DH well enough, since taking care of the men in her life is her job, but also sad that it’s her lot in life to do this. And then she feels guilty for thinking such a thing when taking care of the men in her life is her job. *sigh* She’s actually considered purging since it’s a way she can have control over something. That is something we absolutely need to avoid since 1) it can spiral out of control so quickly, and 2) purging makes the gag reflex go into hyperdrive for us and the simple act of coughing turns into a mad dash for the bathroom.

Lately there’s so much desire from a handful of us to do some sort of damage to the body that I’m finding it harder and harder to keep everyone under control. I think about respite and even the hospital. If Robert goes beyond just berating me and threatening dire harm and starts making plans, I will be booking it to the ER and requesting a psych bed. It feels overwhelming to have to take care of everything like this. I don’t quite know how to delegate responsibility. How on earth do you delegate responsibility?!

There are things I want and need to be doing with myself and all of this chaos is making it rather difficult. Everything is so up and down.  I am–we all are–having a harder and harder time tolerating it. Just keep swimming, right?

Okay, I Hear You!

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Trigger for language and brief mention of threat of violence.

For several months now I’ve considered reconnecting with a few members of my bio-family. I had pretty much decided to get the ball rolling sometime this month or maybe next month, with some very firm boundaries in place. Thinking about it has been both exciting and nerve wracking. With Christmas and now the New Year past, there’s been a lot of anxiety, worry and agitation throughout the system. I worry about how to make it work for me in a way my family members can live with as well. I wouldn’t want to start something with them and have to pull away like I’ve had to do a couple times already; I don’t feel that’s fair to them. Yes, it would be taking care of me and everyone else in the system but I don’t want to hurt my family by being what might appear to be wishy-washy. For me, it’s better to keep my distance unless I know everyone in the system can handle it.

I know there’s been some dissent from a couple of us about this and this morning I discovered how strongly someone, Robert, feels about it. And for Robert it’s not a matter of “I’ll be damned if you’re going to reconnect with people who trigger you, some who seem to be in a lot of denial about what happened to you and in their own lives.” No, Robert doesn’t want me to connect with my family because he doesn’t want me comparing notes and/or talking about what the father did to us. Robert has an allegiance with the father and shows it in emotionally and physically damaging ways. And he has been part of some serious su*c*de attempts so I have to take him seriously and keep things safe and level for him to the best of my ability.

Especially in light of an email he sent our therapist around 3:00 a.m. yesterday. I discovered this shortly before I had to leave the house this morning, when I saw an “undeliverable email” message in my inbox. I’m pretty sure it got kicked back because of the clinic’s internet/email filter–practically every other word was the F-bomb. So then I had to leave the house to do the monthly grocery shopping while worrying that Robert could do something drastic, all the while trying to figure out the best way to discuss it with our T. As it turned out, when I got back from shopping I was completely wiped out from my pain medicine combo and from being so switchy. I had no choice but to take a nap. When I woke up I was talking to one of my best friends about it and she convinced me to leave a message for our T even though I was feeling so messed up. I also sent T an email explaining better than the phone message could what about was going on, and I included what Robert had tried to send her with the filter-hating language removed.

Here is what he wrote, exactly as he wrote it. If you’re wondering why he keeps saying he’s Robert, it’s because my addled brain let me call him Richard in therapy on Monday. There were reasons it happened but I sure won’t make that mistake again!

Robert. I’m fucking ROBERT. Richard fucking makes sure no man hurts her. I will fuck her up if I need to. I made the collage, not fucking Richard. She’d better not start talking to the family comparing notes and asking what they know. I’M FUCKING ROBERT!!!! She’s lucky she’s still around. What a worthless piece of shit.

I guess it’s time for Robert to do some therapy work. Or some kind of work. A couple of years ago he did a two-page collage with magazine words and some pictures and I pulled that out today to see if I could get a glimpse into Robert’s head and also in the hope that he’ll say more, write more, anything more. Somehow he has to figure out how not to be so aggressive and berating and downright abusive to me. Even though he hasn’t done any major physical damage in quite awhile, I can’t help but worry we’ll be in a hospital bed like we were a little more than three years ago when he contributed to a rather serious su*c*de attempt. We can’t have that again.

I’m not angry at Robert, I know there are reasons he has such an allegiance to the father and reasons why he can be emotionally abusive in very much the same way as the father. He obviously has a purpose and somehow we need to make that purpose work entirely for good. I hear you, Robert. I hear you and respect you and we will work through this stuff. It won’t be easy but if you keep this body safe I will keep you safe. That’s a promise.

A New Revelation

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Emailing with a friend tonight brought about a revelation from Joss. She just revealed that she was created to help us make the break from the father at age 19. She can be mean and bitchy, controlling and extremely strong-willed, and she helped us get away! When my boyfriend’s cousin asked if I’d like to come stay with them for a while, Joss made sure it happened. She didn’t ask the father if he would buy a plane ticket for me/us to go to Wisconsin for a while, she told him I/we needed him to buy it. Wow. I’m blown away. My heart is pounding but I’m also smiling and doing a mental fist pump because she helped save our life! I’ve always known that making the move that year was one of the best things I’ve ever done, that it surely saved my life, but now that has so much more meaning.