good god

I’ve had so many things running around in my thoughts for weeks now. It’s been difficult to focus on any of them really. I feel distracted, dazed and numb most of the time. Dissociation? I’m pretty sure that’s a yes. Since yesterday’s VT shooting, the tears have started falling and it feels like maybe the thoughts in my head are freeing themselves up a bit.

My daughters and I stayed in the most lovely beach cabin for part of spring break. It was on the beach. Literally. The most beautiful, peaceful place I’ve been privileged to spend time in a very long time. We went with a dear friend who knows the person who owns the cabin. I never wanted to leave there. During our time there, my friend and I talked about alot of different things. We were chatting about our respective families and I mentioned that I was the third grandchild and I was the only grandchild to live with my grandparents. Her comment went something like “So you were the favored grandchild huh?” I knew when my body momentarily froze that she had unwittingly triggered ‘something’.

A few days later I began dreaming about what it meant to be my grandfather’s ‘favored grandchild’. I’ve said it before and try to avoid saying it much however I am a survivor of incest at the hands of my grandfather. It began when I was a baby and continued until I no longer lived with him. Even then, I was sporadically reminded of the pleasure of being his favored grandchild. An inappropriate touch during a family gathering. A whispered innuendo in passing. A negligee at my bridal shower when I was 17. The last time I saw my grandfather alive I was one week away from my 24th birthday.

He was in the hospital again and I’d just come from hearing my 2nd child’s heartbeat for the first time. I didn’t stay long but his last words to me were “Maybe this one will be a boy” and then he kissed me. In a very ungrandfatherly way. I blocked it out for a very long time. Then one night I was behind a pregnant woman walking and the memory was triggered. By then, I had three beautiful daughters and a divorce decree. The feelings created by remembering this experience were difficult to manage but I got through them.

My friend’s comment wasn’t meant to be triggering. It was, just the same. The tears came, the shaking came, the dreams came, the sleeplessness came, the headaches came, the silence came. Through my mind ran the pictures and the questions I know I will carry for my lifetime. Through my body ran sensations I’d rather not know. Through my heart ran gratitude that he is dead. It took a few days for me to articulate what was happening. It’s taken three weeks for me to feel anywhere near what I consider ‘normal’ again.

My grandfather stole so much from me. His actions took me to a place no child, no person, should ever have to go. The things I could tell you would make you shudder. Hell, some of them you wouldn’t believe no matter what I said. I don’t want to believe them either. I don’t want to understand how anyone could betray a child in the most heinous ways imaginable…or unimaginable. I hope I never understand. I don’t even want to know that such betrayal occurs or can occur. But. I. Do.

As I read about the school shooting at Virginia Tech today, I thanked whatever higher power there is that my college student daughter was safe and giddily exploring her very first place of her own. I thought about what it would feel like to turn on the radio or the t.v. and hear that such an event was taking place at her school. I can only imagine the terror of those students and their parents and the people who care about them. I wonder what is becoming of our world.

I can, at times, feel the fear I remember from my childhood. The fear that comes from waiting for the next ‘thing’ to happen. The thought that if you can ‘just get it over with’, things will be calm for a bit…until the next time. I can feel the fear I remember from my religion all those years ago too. The thought that I’m not good enough to live forever and god may as well just get it over with so I can stop being scared all the time. That is what I grew up with. Knowing I wasn’t good enough. Or perfect enough. Or doing enough. Or whatever the requirement of the week was. My parents used my religion to scare the shit out of me and keep my in line. The congregation kept me in line as well. The fear of being shunned was a powerful force. It was necessary to do what god said, what the organization said god said, or shunning was likely and then there was no hope for living in the perfect world. There is so much I could write about this. Honestly, there is a part of me that is afraid to do it. I still feel the fear that goes along with displeasing god. I am still so frozen by that fear at times it is almost impossible to say what I need to say to heal. In my mind I hear the words “You’re going to die” over and over and over.

When I was 10 years old, I wrote my will. I have no idea what I had that was valuable to me however I wrote my will. I knew I was going to die soon and I wanted to make sure everyone knew what I wanted to happen. I wrote a letter to each person in my family and left them all in the drawer of my nightstand. How many 10 year olds do that?

My life has been governed by fear. Fear is the underlying feeling inside me at every moment. I’m so tired of being afraid. I’m tired of being jumpy. I’m tired of feeling like I must explain everything to my husband when I simply want to be left alone for awhile.

to be continued…


5 responses to this post.

  1. You survived what it took to get you here, you’ll survive what it’s taking to get you out. You’re already so strong now. Need proof? Think of even just one of your girlies. Now think of another, and another. See them? See how confident they are? How connected? By the law of averages, you would have placed them in a similar situation to the one you experienced, inadvertently. But you didn’t. You haven’t. Instead, you’ve faced what you came from, and in every significant way, you’ve overcome it. Yeah, the scars are there, and yes, occasionally there’s pain, panic, and dissociation. But even in the midst of it, you are stronger than what took you there.

    Yes, you are. And I’m just here to help you remember that when it’s tempting to forget it. Love to you, my friend.


  2. Sadly, honey, if you didn’t have the fear, you’d be such a sick person with all that bottled up inside of you. I know you hurt, but you’re releasing it a little at a time. It is hard. It seems impossible, but you’re showing that “it” won’t rule you because you are stronger. You don’t feel strong, but I know you are. May peace find your heart.


  3. I used to tell myself, because of the fear I lived with in childhood, that my child would never experience fear. That somehow I would keep fear out of her life. Of course, I couldn’t do it. I have made sure that she doesn’t have to fear the things I did, though.

    You know how much my heart hurts for you, and how angry I get at people who exploited your soul, and told you lies about God. The idea of your being fearful of displeasing God really pains me. I don’t want to displease God; and I do it more times than I can count, in a single day. And it’s OK. I recently heard someone say, “God doesn’t see us as failures, He sees us as learners.” That works for me. Makes perfect sense; when our kids mess up, we don’t write them off. We help them try again. We have empathy for them. God is a much better parent than we are, and certainly better than our parents were.

    Someone, years ago, coined the term “Soul Murder,” for incest. I think there might even be a book by that name on the topic. At the time, I thought it was an incredibly accurate term. I have since come to think less so, because murder is final. And I don’t believe that your soul, or mine, or Lynn’s . . . or that of any other victimized child, is dead. Resurrection is possible.


  4. OMG, where to start… Okay. Susie, I love it that you do not think our souls have been murdered. It brought tears of relief to read that from you.

    Traci, I SO understand about being triggered even when you know that is was in no way intended. Religion is a big sore spot for me. So is having something wrong with my head. My mother is a religious fanatic to this day. She has always labeled creativity as ‘sick’ and ‘evil’. My mother is also a mental health professional and has been in that field in some capacity since I was 12 or 13 or so. Before that she was a medical nurse. Whenever I would cry, panic or show any emotion that disturbed the ‘peace’, she would threaten to take me to the hospital or ask me if I am crazy or something like that. It got worse later. Sometimes people who are being abused will break down and get hysterical, or experience panic… Eventually I could not show any emotions or she would diagnose me with a mental illness. This used to scare me half to death, because she thinks that ‘crazy people’ are crazy because ‘Satan’ has a hold on them. Sometimes I go into hypochondriac mode, but not just with my body, with my mind as well. I’m always shaking myself down looking for insanity or some frightening disease or mental disorder. Can you imagine how difficult therapy is for me? It’s hard. I have to talk to my therapist on the phone because there is no way in hell I can bear to be within ‘reach’ of a therapist who might decide that I am crazy and slam me into a hospital and pump me full of drugs. So there it is. I’m afraid to write. Religion or mental health stuff scares the shit out of me. You know what else? I have a diagnosis for my mother. She’s a bitch.


  5. Wow Traci…. I had forgotten about this..well not forgotten but you know what i mean… you know i have suffered in the same way..funny what can trigger it off huh??
    love and peace to you my friend….



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