Beyond the Political Stage

Oddly, I found myself in tears as I read an article about how the Trump campaign had a plan to have 3 women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual improprieties towards them confront him on national television.

This is not the first time I have experienced this sadness throughout this campaign as I watch the negativity increase. I am very uncomfortable with the cruel remarks thrown at Hilary Clinton. I don’t know if it is because I have read her book and followed her personal life or if it is just discomfort at all she is and is not. I see her downfalls but I am able to set those aside and see her as a strong woman. I cannot dismiss all the positive she has done. There was a time that I saw her as a selfish manipulative woman when she and her husband left the White House taking the furniture with them.

Looking past her sense of entitlement I see the woman who I have found truly loves her husband with all his faults. She has been publicly humiliated so many times and has held her head up and gone forward. She has sacrificed her right to be seen as a mother, wife and friend in order to do what she has the talent to do to help her country and everyone in it.

Hilary is being criticized for the way she has confronted her husband’s infidelity and the women involved but I ask myself what it would be like to be in her shoes. Many women would behave as she did but they wouldn’t be in the public arena.

What do I feel about Bill Clinton? He has also done a lot for our country but he has a sickness that I find repulsive. There was a time that I thought Hilary only stayed with Bill because they had a deal, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” I don’t know if that is the case but I think that she loves him in a way that he is not capable of returning.” Having had the opportunity to show his love for her, he only lifts her up as a humanitarian and politician. He doesn’t show or express his love for her in a way that would show the soft side of her. Has she just been a means to an end? He is like a child who has to be controlled and when he is let out to play, his lack of finesse shows. To me, he’s like the husband of a friend that you just put up with for her sake.

Hilary is in a “no win” situation with regard to her personality. If she shows her soft side, she is too soft to be President and when she shows her business side, she isn’t soft enough. When she missteps, the world is there to see. Am I voting for her? I don’t know but I know that as tempted as I have been with all Trump’s promises, I cannot see past him as a person. I can’t see myself voting for him for anything. I have never admired him throughout my life so why would I support him?

Why the tears? I think perhaps all this brings up the sadness of my childhood involving infidelity and chaos. Additionally, it is because when we dismiss political correctness, we are left with such ugliness and lack of compassion, anything goes. I am starting to see the days of chaos and no credible laws of the Roman Empire returning.

It is my belief that the reason the USA is desirable is that we were at least organized and had a sense of decorum. The Unites States was seen as a strong country and I see it weakening on all levels as every day goes by. When anything goes, will we survive as a united country?

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    Crisis Text Line (CTL)

    14296015-3d-render-of-a-person-helping-another-man-3d-illustration-of-human-character-people

    If you are interested in doing volunteer work that you can do from home, here is an idea for you:

    While working as a Crisis Telephone Counselor for Crisis Hotline (CHL), we assisted CTL when we could so I am familiar with this organization. Now that I am no longer employed or volunteer with CHL due to having relocated, I have entered the volunteer program at CTL. Though I have been through a version of their training as a continuing education requirement and having been through CHL’s training, I am finding the CTL volunteer training to be very beneficial. This is a rewarding endeavor and for those who like doing things for others anonymously, this is your ticket. All training and working on the texting platform is done from your computer at home. You set your own schedule and the text line is open 24/7 so working it into your personal schedule isn’t difficult.

    If you are nervous about crisis support, let me reassure you that you will be well-trained and their training includes live observations. Also, you will have all the tools you need right in front of you. All texts are monitored by a supervisor who is always available if you get stuck or need assistance. Though it is a mandatory reporting agency for imminent risk of suicide or homicide as well as child abuse, the reporting is actually done by the supervisor, however, these instances do not occur often. The way I look at it is “It’s just a conversation.” There is no script but you will learn active listening and productive conversation.

    Rather than quote all the information regarding CTL, I am posting their FAQ sheet. You can also go to crisistextline.org

    Text START to 741-741

    FAQ

    Jump to

    Texting in
    Data
    Donate
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    Our Approach

    TEXTING IN

    Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?

    A:

    1. You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
    2. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
    3. The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.

    Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?

    A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.

    Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?

    A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are both rigorously trained volunteers and employees of our crisis center partners.

    Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?

    A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?

    A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.

    Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?

    A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.

    Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?

    A: Nothing will appear on your bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier our short code, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this happened here.

    Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?

    A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes (like 741741) are not allowed on many prepaid plans like T-Mobile’s.

    Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN, CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?

    A: You can text in again, if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.

    Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?

    A: Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about us on social media, wait times may be longer.

    Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: Yes, our system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.

    Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?

    Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes–and the small percentage of people with these phones, can’t use Crisis Text Line. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this is shitty and we wish those carriers would enable us). If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.

    Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?

    A: Yes, you can reach us through Facebook Messenger. Access to message Crisis Text Line is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. This is accessible by flagging a user’s post.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?

    A: Yes. We do not have access to your Facebook profile. The only know information about you that we’ll know is what you share with us.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?

    A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?

    A: Message us back with the word ‘LOOFAH’. We’ll scrub your data from our system, and make a request to Facebook to do the same.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?

    A: By contacting Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, users agree to Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service, as well as Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.

    Q: WHAT ARE ALL OF THE CRISIS ISSUES YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?

    A: See the issues we track at www.crisistrends.org. If you’re a researcher or practitioner with interest in another issue, submit your suggestion in the form at the bottom of www.crisistrends.org.

    Q: WHO CAN APPLY FOR ACCESS TO CRISIS TEXT LINE’S DATA?

    A: Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016. Otherwise, please visit www.crisistrends.org to see the latest trends in how texters are experiencing crisis.

    DONATE

    Q: HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: You can donate via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
    Crisis Text Line
    Attn: Finance Dept.
    24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
    New York, NY 10010

    Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

    A: Yes! Upon receiving your donation, we’ll send you a thank you letter that clarifies your donation is tax deductible.

    FINANCIALS

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE REALLY A NOT FOR PROFIT?

    A: Yes, we are! Here are our latest financials as proof.

    Q: HOW IS CRISIS TEXT LINE FUNDED?

    A: We’re privately funded. This means we receive funding from foundations, individuals, and corporations.

    Q: WHERE CAN I FIND CRISIS TEXT LINE’S FORM 990?

    A: 2014 here and 2015 here.

    Q: I SAW YOU RAISED A BUNCH OF MONEY (WOOHOO!) FOR THE ORG. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

    A: We are focused on three main initiatives: (1) supporting our Crisis Counselor community with better products and more emotional support, (2) integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger, (3) white labeling our service for other orgs and locations– providing a free text service for the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta.

    PARTNERSHIPS

    Q: WHO CAN PARTNER WITH CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: We partner with not-for-profits, colleges and universities, and corporations. Want to partner? Fill out this form!

    TECH ISSUES

    Having technical issues with the site or text line? Check out our Help Center.

    MEDIA

    Q: CAN I GET MARKETING MATERIALS WITH THE CRISIS TEXT LINE SHORT CODE TO SHARE WITH MY COMMUNITY?

    A: Absolutely. Download our Volunteer Flyer or Text Flyer.

    Q: WHOM I CONTACT FOR A PRESS INQUIRY?

    A: Email support@crisistextline.org

    VOLUNTEERS

    Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?

    A: We are always accepting applications! Apply Here.

    Q: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?

    A: To become a Crisis Counselor, you must:

    1. Pass a background check – that means no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors
    2. Have a US Social Security number (in order to complete the background check)
    3. Be at least 18 years old
    4. Have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection
    5. Commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year

    Q: WHAT’S THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?

    A: We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year. Volunteers are able to break up their commitment into two 2-hour shifts each week if they would like.

    Q: HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?

    A: After a rigorous application process, our volunteers complete a 34 hour training course over 6 weeks. This includes ongoing simulated conversations and personalized feedback from our experienced trainers as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation. Training content is based on best practices in crisis counseling and Crisis Text Line data.

    Q: WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELOR TRAINING?

    A: We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so apply whenever you want! We’re excited to meet you!

    Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A CRISIS COUNSELOR VOLUNTEER?

    A: Check out our blog to read stories from our volunteers.

    Q: ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?

    A: Yes. Our experienced supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers, when necessary, while on the platform.

    OUR APPROACH

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE COUNSELING?

    A: No, our specialists do not counsel, but rather practice active listening to help texters move from a hot moment to a cool calm.

    Q: WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING?

    A: Active listening is when someone communicates in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful. It includes focus on the texter and thoughtful answers.

    Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRISIS TEXT LINE AND THERAPY?

    A: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for therapy. Therapy includes a diagnosis made by a doctor, a treatment plan of action, and a patient/therapist relationship. Crisis Text Line helps people in moments of crisis. Our crisis counselors practice active listening to help our texters find calm and create an action plan for themselves to continue to feel better. Crisis Text Line’s crisis counselors are not therapists.

    Q: WHO STARTED CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: We were founded by our CEO, Nancy Lublin. After seeing a need for the service we provide, Nancy hired a team to build what is our current platform. The original team included a data scientist and an engineer. Hear our story here.

     

    Didn’t find your answer? Check out our Help Center or email support@crisistextline.org.

    Privacy Policies

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    Help Make it Happen

    Want to start a crisis text line in your country? international@crisistextline.org

    We’re hiring:
    Apply now

    Press inquiry?

    Email press@crisistextline.org
    If you are in crisis, text START to 741-741.

    Keep me posted

     

     

    So You Think You’ve Escaped Alcoholism

    2592So you think you’ve escaped alcoholism, not a chance. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcoholism.

    Alcoholism affects everyone who comes in contact with an alcoholic. It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, child, or a co-worker. That is why Ala-non, is a support group for families and friends of alcoholics not just families of alcoholics. You may not have the disease but I can say that you have the ism’s  without ever having met you.

    It is said that alcoholism is a family disease and I believe it with all my heart. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Why do I call it an alcoholic home? Does that mean that all my family members were alcoholics? No, our home revolved around my alcoholic mother because her actions or in-actions affected every one of us. Our emotional make-up developed around coping with her drinking and the effect it had on us. I like to see my mother as having alcoholism rather than as an alcoholic but it is my habit to use the term alcoholic which is unfortunately a label. She grew up in an alcoholic home just like I did.  I have the utmost love and strive to understand because but for the grace of God, go I. As alcoholism is said to be genetic, I could have followed in her footsteps. I am lucky, I don’t like the taste of alcohol and yet I am unlucky in that I don’t like not having control. Why is that unlucky? Because I have to fight the tendency to control everything around me to ensure that it doesn’t give me that feeling of not having control over my life and to avoid the helpless feelings I had growing up. I also believe it is a learned behavior, we do what we know and alcoholism is what we know.

    That is why even though you think you have escaped the parent or ex, you are wrong. You were affected and I can prove it.

    Do you have problems with authority figures?e75f70e61261afa370d84fcbf1da6be7

    Do you have problems getting along with others?

    Do you have control issues?

    Is your relationship picker broken?

    Are you hyper-vigilant?

    Do you fight depression?

    Do you lack confidence?

    Are you an under or over achiever?

    Are you a people-pleaser?

    Are you a care taker?

    Are you a fixer?

    There are many other symptoms but I’m sure you get it and you know which one of these have developed in you.

    In my work as a Crisis Call Counselor, I could pretty much bet that regardless of the crisis, the conversation would eventually reveal that the caller had been affected by alcoholism, either theirs or someone in their past or present life. I consider alcoholism an “emotional” disease because it can bring about anger, sadness, depression, resentment, etc. in the alcoholic or those affected by a person’s drinking. The reason persons affected by another person’s drinking are considered to be co-dependent is that while the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the affected person is addicted to the alcoholic. I have had so many friends, boyfriends and a husband who were addicted to alcohol and in the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know there was a problem. It’s like a magnet! I have friends in Ala-non who say it is because alcoholics are charismatic and exciting. Perhaps we see something in their personalities that we wish we had.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I’m not with him/her any more, so I don’t need Ala-non.” I have thought that myself but I always end up going back because my ism’s become overwhelming. This post is not meant to advertise or push Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics, yet it is what I know so I do highly recommend them. Just like the person with alcoholism, only you can decide that you need help and what support is best for you. I have been told, “When it hurts bad enough, you will get help.”

    “Co-dependent No More” by Melody Beattie is a really good book for understanding the effects of alcoholism. I read this book like a person dying of thirst drinks water. It told me that I was not crazy and there was hope.

    People addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will to try to convince others that it is your fault, don’t take it on. Think 3 C’s – You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, alcoholism in you or someone else is not your fault but it is your responsibility. If you are afraid of the alcoholic becoming angry because you are seeking help, 12 step support groups are anonymous as is therapy. If you go to a meeting or see a therapist and you are not comfortable with the environment or personalities, try another meeting or therapist. There are many meetings and therapists available. If you are in a remote area, I understand that there are meetings online. Just do an Internet search of Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics. There are two daily readers, One Day at a Time in Ala-non and Courage to Change that are utilized by Ala-Non. I find ODAT (nickname) useful when you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and Courage to Change is a good all-around book. I mostly use Courage to Change and it seems to be a favorite among recovering Ala-Non’s. Before using these books, it would be helpful to do some research on alcoholism. People active in Ala-Non attend open AA meetings to learn what the person with alcoholism experiences.

    I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

    Whatever you decide to do, know that you are not alone. Everything you have experienced, someone else has experienced. It helps to talk with other people who are experiencing the same thing or who have been there and survived.

    There is always hope.

     

    Childhood Sexual Abuse Part Three

    For me and for anyone who knows or loves someone who was sexually abused, this may be the most important part of the sharing my experience on this topic.

    There was no support, validation or comfort, it was just an experience to be hidden from the world because it became my mother’s shameful burden. To this day, I can remember telling my mother about two abuse situations while she was giving me a bath and for the life of me, I can’t remember the words I used or any reaction on her part. That doesn’t mean there was no reaction, it just means that it was so minimal that I, as a young child, never saw it. My mother tells me that she protected me by not allowing the baby-sitter or the neighborhood boy to have access to me or my siblings but was that enough? She says back then people didn’t talk about “such things” and certainly didn’t take legal action. But she never even told my father. Never, ever.

    I love my mother. She has made a lot of mistakes and bad choices in her life that I know came from her growing up in an alcoholic home with a pedophile father. As they say, shit rolls downhill. All my life, I have tried to force her to tell me why she did things she did because her actions or in-actions have had a huge impact on who I am or am not. She is only now that she is 84, forcing herself to give me answers. She has given me permission to ask her anything I need because she doesn’t want to leave me with questions. Unfortunately, my blocking out painful experiences is also my mother’s way of coping so  while she knows things happened with her father, she cannot recall the details. Like mother, like daughter. She has gone through her whole life blaming everything bad that happened to her on alcohol. Her father had alcoholism, her life changed when she, my dad and their friends started to drink and she was affected by alcoholism and all the mistakes that go with the release that alcohol gives from inhibitions and pain.

    I believe that my mother hid my molestation because she was afraid that her secret knowledge about her father would come out. She loved her father so deeply that she sacrificed her children’s well-being for that love. She said we never showed signs of his having molested us without even realizing what she was saying. What I heard was that she knew what he was but she believed he never did it to us. She remembers him being drunk and french kissing her goodnight and her saying to him, “You are not my daddy!” Coincidentally, one time the words “You are not my daddy!” came out of my mouth as an adult. I think I might have been angry with my dad at the time but he was no where around.  I remember being shocked and confused that I would say such a thing. Mom’s sister told her that their father molested her but my mother wouldn’t listen. When you put someone on a pedestal, they can’t stay up there and you often can’t let yourself see them fall. She tells me that she knows something happened to her but she has blocked it out. I have encouraged my mother so many times to seek counseling but she is so filled with shame that she just can’t.

    When I worked for a police department, I was filing and came across a card that told me that my grandfather had been arrested for child molestation. My grandfather was dead at the time and I guess I had a need to totally remove his existence. I went to the evidence technician who is responsible for criminal reports and let him know of the death so he could remove the record, which was standard. Lest you think that the entire history was removed, no, it wouldn’t be as the records were put onto microfiche at that time. In fact, that is why I couldn’t read the actual report on the incident, it was on microfiche in storage. I am not a rule breaker but I would have looked up that report if I could have. The evidence tech asked me if this man was a relative and I told him that he was my grandfather. I have never forgotten that he looked at me kindly and said, “We can pick our friends but we can’t pick our relatives.” and told me that he would take care of it. Since that time, I have learned from my mother that my father actually bailed my grandfather out of jail. She says they believed that the young girl was lying. Reading between the lines, it is easy to see that my mother couldn’t have believed the girl was lying. Another child sacrificed. My aunt was very angry that the judge dismissed the charges though she probably kept this to herself until she told me. My father’s naivete has often frustrated me but not more so than in this instance. However, my mother hid so much from him. Once when I told my parents that I was very uncomfortable around the husband of a family friend, my father told me that he knew the guy would never do anything to my father’s children. So Dad, he would molest his stepchildren but not your children? Wake up and smell the coffee! I was actually hurt that he would not proclaim to stay away from the man in order to help me feel more comfortable. Naive or lacking courage? The man ended up shooting his wife and stepson. You can read about it in my post “Tragic Endings”.

    My grandfather molested my cousin, sister and me and we never told anyone. My not telling about me was understandable, I blocked out the details, but my cousin and my sister told me about it happening to them. I was the oldest girl grandchild so chances are that I had the experiences prior to theirs. The three of us talked about why we didn’t tell anyone and we all agreed it was that we didn’t want to hurt our parents who had so much love for this man, a love we all resented. If we couldn’t tell how could I expect my mother to tell. She and I have had several very honest conversations about this and while her answer has hurt me, it was extremely honest. She says she would never have taken action because she would not have wanted to split up her family. I don’t think she is alone in that, after all, isn’t that why my sister, cousin and I didn’t tell. She says not only did she love her father but her mother was a woman with no education, means of support and had 5 children. It strikes me that she said her mother had 5 children which says to me that she was not talking about my molestation but hers. However, she made it clear that she would not have told anyone had she known about me and my sister. She was not the exception, she was the rule during those times. If we look the other way, it didn’t happen. I was hurt when my mother made her admission to me and told her that it was her responsibility to protect her children, we weren’t capable of protecting ourselves. A few days later, she called me and told me that she was haunted by what she said and that she would answer any questions I had. Oddly enough, after that it was difficult to want to bring the subject up. It was like I finally had what I needed, her acknowledgement that she was wrong not to protect me. However, we have talked about it since and while she knows she was wrong, she still contends that she would not have split up her family. I have to accept that because nothing is ever going to change it but it is hers to live with. So my dad died never knowing the family secret. He never knew why I pursued therapy, he never thought I needed it. He didn’t know that my continuous talking, talking, talking and difficulty not filling the silence were symptoms of a person with a painful secret.

    There was no education when the abuse took place. People were truly ignorant, willfully so. I don’t mean they were ignorant of the fact that it took place, they were ignorant in the fact that it would matter. There was no courage when it came to emotional situations. It was easier for a man to kick his daughter out of the house for having sex than it was to try to understand why she had sex. It was easier to turn her away than to listen or talk with her. I know of several situations even within my own extended family where the child was blamed for being molested. The thinking was that the child brought it on herself by being promiscuous. So much easier to sacrifice you own family than to have the courage to confront. A child cannot be held responsible for an adult’s actions. If a child is promiscuous, there is a reason in my opinion. The word “incest” is abhorrent to most of us. Its creepy that a relative would have sex with their child relative. However, when I was in therapy, I attended Incest Survivor meetings and incest was considered to be the term used in relation to any adult who is responsible for a child and betrays the trust of the child. If a child is dependent on an adult, he/she she has to place their trust in that adult so the child doesn’t usually have a choice in what happens between the child and the adult. I can tell you that I have been to several different genres of support meetings and I would have to say that the people in the Incest Survivor meetings appeared to have been the most damaged emotionally and mentally. There is so much shame, anger and sexual acting out. Each person thinks another pers0n’s experience is worse than their own but they are all horrendous because they were so very betrayed by someone who they were supposed to be able to trust to take care of them.

    I can’t help but wonder how different my life would be if my mother had the courage to step up. What if my dad had known? Would he have had the courage to fight for me? Sadly I doubt it. My brother was angry with me for telling him about my grandfather because my grandfather was his idol. He didn’t say that he didn’t believe it, just that he didn’t want to know about it. Can I judge him? No, I can be angry but I cannot judge him. Our whole lives have been complicated by the dysfunction that has passed itself down but the one thing I know is that we survived. In spite of all the dysfunction my siblings and I lived through, we all survived and have gone on to live productive lives. The odd thing is that I attribute that to the love and support of our parents. No matter how crazy things got, the three of us hung on to the knowledge that our parents loved us and wanted the best for us. When my mother was in a downward spiral, she was still our anchor because dad was the supporter and she was took care of the children. She took on all the burden to protect him from worry and responsibility and his children were shortchanged.

    We somehow knew that we had to hang in there until our parents grew up enough to come back to us. Because in our very early years, we had a good, solid family and it stayed with us. My mother said to me recently, “I always wanted to be a good mother.” and I was able to tell her that in some very important ways, she was. Even during the chaos, when we made mistakes our parents didn’t punish, they talked and we actually listened. They always let us have our say and if they felt we were right, they would concede. We were rewarded for honesty by having our parents let that be enough to convince them that we were aware of our misdeeds. We were never shamed.  We have all had our trials but we have our own families and we try to do our best for them.

     

     

     

     

    Childhood Sexual Abuse Part Two

    We can understand why someone acted as they did but there is still as child inside us who is stuck with those feelings that resulted from actions beyond their understanding or control. There was a time when I scoffed at “the child within” because I didn’t understand that she wasn’t a person apart from me, she was me stuck at age 15. I don’t understand how she grew up to be 15 after what she experienced but it is what it is. Writing that made me realize that her mind protected her by keeping the details of most of her sexual abuse a secret from her. I have both resented and embraced that I have no memory of the actual acts in most cases, only the before.

    I want to pass on to you a gift that I have received over and over and it is this, you have a right to your feelings no matter what they are. No one can deny your feelings because they are your feelings. You don’t say to yourself, “Hmm, I think I will feel this way.” Your feelings are a stimulii in reaction to your past experiences. You can control your reactions but you can’t control your feelings. I want to encourage you never to say to someone, “don’t cry” and when they cry ,don’t try to fix them. They need to cry and crying is healthy. Crying is a cleansing emotion and a release valve for tension. I have heard so many times, “I can’t stop crying.” Well, that’s because they are not finished grieving whatever loss they are feeling. If we don’t grieve, we don’t heal. But grief is whole topic unto itself.

    I have talked about the sexual abuse that was committed against me, but I have never talked about my feelings surrounding that abuse. Why? Because I am not cognizant of those feelings. I can talk about it all day long and never shed a tear. I have had a couple of therapists point this out. I have stuffed those feelings and others deep inside and I only have reactions to physical stimulii. I have a tendency to cut the love out of making love which is so unfair to my loving husband. It is not something I do intentionally, it comes from the hurt and scared child. In past relationships, I just went through the motions of sex. I felt nothing. It was a means to an end, it was chasing the unavailable feelings of my partner and myself. My first sexual intercourse other than the one as a 4 or 5 year old was planned by me to coincide with my graduation from high school. My partner was my high school boyfriend and we planned to be married at some point. It was totally uneventful. I was depressed the next day but when we saw each other, I got past it. I began to release sexual feelings that I had hidden and apparently there were times when he felt inadequate and made me feel like I was doing something wrong. I felt shamed and my participation in the sexual act changed. I went on automatic pilot.

    Until I met Danny. It would be unfair to divulge too much about something meant to be only between us but I can say that he is very unselfish. There is no such thing as automatic pilot with Danny because I never feel used or like I am seeking something I cannot have. The fortunate or unfortunate thing is that his love has unleashed hidden emotions and fears by simply knowing and loving me. I am emotionally invested in this relationship and sometimes it scares me. I let my guard down and body memories come to the surface. Fortunately, I understand where they are coming from but unfortunately I have no control over their affect. Luckily it doesn’t prevent me from enjoying lovemaking with my husband but it does inhibit. Enough said on that subject. However, I do want to talk about the other effects Danny’s love has had. I can sleep at night without my need to “keep watch” and I began to have dreams about unresolved relationships and feelings. It didn’t take much for me to understand what was happening. I felt safe. Safe enough for my mind to open up those stuffed feelings but not safe enough for those repressed memories about the abuse to surface. At one time I wanted to force the issue in therapy and was told that my mind would let me know when I was ready. I am no longer sure that I want to know. I do wonder if those memories are the key to unlocking my ability to “let go”. I don’t lament that I didn’t meet Danny sooner in my life because I know that we both had to be in the right place emotionally for our relationship to be successful. We had to be willing to work hard to get what we both wanted and needed. Love shouldn’t be work, you say. Well, maybe that’s true for people who bring no baggage to the relationship but Danny and I were and are both aware that we brought a lot of baggage.

    Continued in Part Three

     

     

     

     

     

    Childhood Sexual Abuse – Part One

    I binge watched Dr. Phil last night and there were two shows about false accusations. One was a stepdaughter who is lies compulsively and  accused her stepfather of molesting her and one was a woman who accused her child’s father of physical and sexual abuse. How someone can fabricate something so serious and that will adversely affect a person’s life for the rest of their life, is beyond me.

    As a survivor, I wish that those women could understand what an insult it is to those of us who truly experienced sexual abuse. My innocence was stolen from me. I never remember not knowing about sex. Imagine that as a 4 or 5 year old or perhaps younger, I knew that my parents had sex and what it entailed. I knew because I had an older boy orchestrate   intercourse between me and my brother when we were approximately 5 and 6. That is a secret I never thought I would write about. But my hope is that it will free me from the shame and anger. About the same time, a girl who went to our church was babysitting my brother and I and she molested me and him, though separately. And then there was my grandfather… I have blocked the details of all but the encounter involving my brother and remember only up to the actual acts. I did tell my mother about all but my grandfather but we have both blocked out the details of those conversations.

    Back then, no one talked about it and no legal action was taken which is why so many women and men are coming forward later in life. I believe it was as rampant then as it is now, it was just kept quiet. Alcoholism can be a contributing factor. I heard a saying once, “Scratch and alcoholic and you will find a pedophile.” I am certainly not saying that all alcoholics are pedophiles just that they often go hand in hand.  Which is the contributing factor?  Do pedophiles become alcoholics or do alcoholics become pedophiles?

    I have to wonder how someone can see a child as an object rather than an innocent human being. How can a man or woman see their own child as an object to fulfill their deviant desires? How can they believe that because it is their child, they are a possession to be used for pleasure? Then there are those parents who prostitute their children for drug money. Although sometimes it seems that suspicion has gotten out of hand, thank God that abuse is coming to light. Although the internet has encouraged blatant child objectification, it is also exposing the perpetrators.

    More and more school teachers are being arrested for child molestation. I have a theory on that issue. Teachers are most often hired straight out of college so they are about 21 or 22 years old. The senior students can be as old as 20 so there isn’t that much age difference, hence the attraction. That, of course, doesn’t excuse the teacher or the student crossing the line but I don’t believe that young teachers should be hired to teach high school. Now when it comes to the older teachers and the garbage they are orchestrating, I am still shocked when it comes to light. Though even when I was in high school there were rumors about gay teachers and students, true or false.

    Something of which I became aware when I worked at a police department was that many women will sacrifice their children for the sake of having a man in their lives. Sexual abuse by a boyfriend or husband would be reported and the mother would take the word of the man over her child. Why? Because they were desperate, as many women are, to have a man in their lives. I believe they knew the child was telling the truth but didn’t want to give up the man. Throughout history, we women have been pressured by society, especially our mothers, to get married and have children. It was an embarrassment to our parents if we weren’t  married by a certain age. Being that there were more women than men, there was a scramble to find and hold onto a guy, any guy. Or was/is it hormones driving the desperation? I don’t know but I have seen situations where we women couldn’t see the forest for the trees as evidenced by my last post. The atrocities in the news about the abuse of children by stepfathers and boyfriends make me wonder when we women will wake up. Not to leave the men out of this topic, there are men who look the other way as well, however, statistics show more sexual abuse by men than women.

    I want to encourage all survivors of childhood sexual abuse to realize that it wasn’t our fault, we were not objects and to have been used as such was the product of a sick mind. Maybe it felt good and maybe that’s why we block memories perhaps out of some sense of guilt. However, we were children who didn’t understand that it was just a sensation, one we couldn’t control. There was a gained awareness of our body’s sexual reaction to stimuli and that may have added the guilt feelings. We may have even began to seek out stimuli or become promiscuous to duplicate that feeling. We didn’t understand that we were exposed to these sensations before we were equipped with the emotional maturity and knowledge for making responsible decisions regarding our actions.

    Though this post started out in disgust for false accusations of sexual abuse, I would like to make the following suggestions based on personal experience and what I have observed. I do not hold myself out as an authority, these are just suggestions:

    • Parents listen to your children when they tell you of inappropriateness.
    • We are not equipped to judge the truth because we are most often guided by our emotions where our children are concerned so get your child counseling by professionals who can get to the truth and they will take action or advise you where to go from there.Be advised that they are bound by law to report their findings to law enforcement if evidence of impropriety is discovered.
    • Watch your children for signs but don’t interrogate, have calm conversations so that your child feels comfortable and non-threatened talking to you.
    • Support them no matter what! You don’t have to approve of what they do and they should know that but they need to know that they have someone in their corner unconditionally.
    • Be honest with them about your feelings, let them know that you are angry about what happened to them but don’t show bitterness.
    • Tell them that the two of you will get through this together, step by step.
    • Don’t rush the process.

    Your child’s ability to heal will depend upon your reaction.

    Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Three and Final

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          So the drinking binges at Margaret and Doug’s house continued and my sister and I continued to resent them. Once, I wanted to send mom a rose with a note on my birthday but I was living in the city at that time and it was going to cost too much to have it delivered. I called Margaret and asked her if she would pick it up and give it to mom and she said she would be glad to. I called in the order and Margaret picked it up and called mom over to her house. She even took a picture of mom as she cried when she saw the rose and read the card. She wrote me a note about mom’s reaction and I have kept and cherish that note. I loved Margaret so much and wished I could wake her up to reality but I, like so many others, stayed out of it. At that time in my life, I would never have crossed that line because it would have been highly inappropriate. I don’t know that I could prevent myself from approaching Margaret today. My parents loved Margaret and they had been through so much together and I believe that my m0ther’s secret about her father wouldn’t allow her to judge . Is that that why she stood by Margaret and by association, Doug?

         Mom and Gayle went by Margaret and Doug’s for drinks one evening and after they left, things got really dicey. I am not sure of all the details but Doug was drunk and there was an argument between Doug and Margaret’s oldest adopted son, Terry, in their front yard. Doug went into the house and got a gun and it was taken away from him by whom, I don’t recall.  Doug went back into the house and got another gun and pointed it at Terry. Margaret moved in front of Terry and Doug shot the gun hitting Margaret and killing her. He got another shot off and hit Terry whether it was before or after he shot Margaret, I don’t know. Terry lived and when he recovered, he left town and would not respond to his family’s attempts to locate him. Doug went to jail and after serving his sentence was released. Sadly the house went to him as Margaret’s husband, not her children. How ironic that was.

         It hurts to this day to think about the loss to Margaret’s biological children, her adopted children, her immediate family…my family, me… When I returned home after my divorce, my mom and I joined a church that was across the street from the house where Maggie died. After a while, I got used to seeing it and it began to blend into the background but Margaret will forever live in my heart. The thing is, as humans we all make mistakes, some more serious than others. Margaret was a victim of the heart, the heart wants what it wants and she was too vulnerable to see where her choices were taking her and to realize that she was taking everyone who loved her along on her tragic journey.

         Alcohol was a contributing factor to the tragedy that became Margaret’s life. When I am asked why I don’t drink alcohol, my answer is that alcohol has caused so much pain in my life. I was born lucky in that I hate the taste of alcohol and while it played a big part in my single life, it has no place in my life today. We have friends and family who drink alcohol and attend events where it is served, however, we don’t keep or offer alcohol in our home. My sister and I were hopeful that our mother would stop drinking or at least cut down after Margaret died but for her it just wasn’t that simple.

    *I have changed the names of those involved in this story even though it was a very long time ago. There are lessons to be learned from this story so if it helps one person to see the truth in themselves, it will have been worth the telling. I leave it up to the reader as to what they take away from the reading of it.

     

    Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Two

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         Margaret got her new house and though it didn’t seem much larger than the old one, I’m sure getting away from the memories of the old house was a relief.

         I wish I could say that life improved for Maggie but while she might have thought she was on a good path, she made a very large mistake. She became desperate to prove that she was desirable to men. She started dressing provocatively and going out with one man after another. She finally settled on a merchant marine.  I found him to be creepy and couldn’t understand why my parents would have anything to do with him. My mother’s explanation was that they put up with Doug for Maggie’s sake but I think they just didn’t want to see what a useless creep he really was. Maggie’s biological children were adults and had their own families by then but her five adopted children were still at home. Margaret married Doug and he moved into the house with her and her adopted children.

         There was a lot of heavy drinking in that house and my mother and Gayle got into a habit of going by there after work to “have a drink”. Maggie and Doug lived in the same town where my mother worked. We had moved to another town a short distance away and had to drive to their town or another one for groceries etc. My mother would often go to the “grocery store” after work and then go to their house and drink. It was very frustrating for my sister and I because we would have to track mom down if we needed permission to do anything. We felt lonely and abandoned waiting for her to come home and when she got home, she was usually drunk.

         Reading my stories would make it easy to put my family and family friends into a “white trash” category but they weren’t. The fallacy of this kind of dysfunction is that it doesn’t happen to decent people. Not true. If you follow my blog, my hope is that you will see that dysfunctional families often don’t know that they are becoming dysfunctional or are dysfunctional because their lifestyle is no different from those in their social circle. It’s kind of like, “If its o.k for them, its o.k. for us.”

         Eventually, one of the Maggie’s adopted girls told her school officials that Doug had been molesting her. The other girls were questioned and at least one other, maybe two admitted that he had molested them as well. When she was notified, Maggie called the children liars and Children’s Protective Services split the children between her biological son and daughter. This is a woman who I loved and spent so much time with, who was as much a part of my life as my own parents. How could she do this to her kids? How could she choose that asshole over her kids? Why couldn’t she see who he was or why didn’t she want to see what he was? It hurt.

         When I worked for a police department, I saw first hand that women will betray their children so often to hold on to a man. I don’t need to tell you that though, do I? Constantly we read or hear in the news about the boyfriend or the stepfather physically or sexually abusing the children or even worse, killing them. Yes, I know that women do it also but it is different. Men don’t have the same desperation to have a woman be a part of their life as women have a desperation to have a man in their life, its ingrained into women. Our mothers push and prod to get us married and have children and if we want more, if it isn’t a priority, then there is something wrong with us. Yes, we are progressing but not entirely. There are those who do not have parents encouraging and supporting their need to become individuals before they become a wives and mother. Those women can easily fall into the get married, have kids and struggle mentality, after all, that is what we are supposed to do. Some religious zealots believe it is our sole purpose based on bible teachings.

         Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents had a big party for family and friends. That year, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and I could not believe that my parents allowed Margaret to bring Doug to the party. He tried to talk to me but I excused myself and walked away. The next day I asked my parents why they invited him and told them how I felt when he was around. I will never forget my dad saying, “He would never do anything to my daughters.” Hello Dad, is anyone in there? He would molest Margaret’s children but not yours? Was my dad that naive or did he just feel guilty for exposing me to Doug in the first place? Needless to say, I felt angry that my feelings were dismissed so easily. My dad did not know that I had ever been molested because my mother never told him.

         Margaret’s daughters missed her and and it being Christmas…they told Children’s Protective Services that they lied so they could go back home. One of the daughters was in my computer class at the community college and she told me that they didn’t lie, they just wanted to go home. I didn’t ask any questions, I just let her talk as she told me what they went through with Doug. By then Margaret was dead.

    Continued Part Three