My Fathers 1

Being sexually abused by my mother really shattered my ability to trust, but I found that despite that I was able to slowly piece together a system of connectedness that allowed me to find love, acceptance, bonding, and healing elsewhere. I read about the shattering of attachment for mother-daughter sexual abuse survivors each time that I read about the subject of MDSA. I think that it must be very similar for other survivors of child sexual abuse.

I know that I have written here on the blog about my issues with bonding and attachment and especially in the ways that I have tried to find connectedness in my life and in my life and to establish more; to the world, to others, and to symbols that I find a great deal of meaning and healing from.

Some of the symbols that I find a great deal of meaning and healing from are fictional  characters that I feel connected to.

I’ve been working in the last few years to try to identify past connections that bring me meaning and healing and establishing more connections. Some connections just seemed to pass beyond my conscious awareness, even though at one time they had a lot of meaning and brought a lot of connection and healing into my life at some time.

Trying to re-discover those past connections has helped me to see myself as someone who desperately wanted and needed  connection and as someone who was incredibly brave to do so, despite how horrific my childhood existence was and how difficult it was to trust my emotions, especially love, when I was hated, scapegoated, and abused by my family of origin, who I tried to love.

I re-discovered my father Herb Hubbard when I started to re-watch the show The Mothers-in-Law. I loved him when I was a child. Herb was a husband, a father of a college daughter, and a businessman. The thing that I liked the most about him and still do, is his ability to manage his emotions, which neither of my parents did. Since my father was an active alcoholic, there was never a strong man in my life, never a good man in my life, never a calm man in my life, never a loving and good and safe man in my life. But Herb was that man in my life.

Herb was a good role model and human being to me despite the drama going on in the household, with his wife, with his neighbors who lacked boundaries and common respect, and with his college age son who decides to marry the neighbor’s daughter, Herb manages his life and positively impacts his family with love, determination, resilience, and gentleness. I like that last one the best; gentleness.

Here he is, my dad:

Herb Hubbard from the show The Mothers-in-Law

I love my dad.

A Sea Change in Attachments

I think that having someone in your life is such a huge part of the impetus for healing in my life, well to me it is “the” thing. I think when you’ve never been filled by the love of someone else or ever been confident of any attachments it is amazingly hard to cope. I remember from a child knowing that there was a giant black hole inside of me and how long that was a part of my life. I remember in the mid-twenties when I started healing and how several years into healing when the black hole just disappeared. I never thought that would happen. I never knew that would happen. For once in my life I thought that I could finally be filled up.

It took many years of trial and error to find a space of feeling filled up inside.

When I would be triggered and upset it took time for me, talking to someone, sometimes a friend, sometimes someone online, sometimes someone on a hotline, to get that filled up feeling, to be heard and validated, to feel calm again. When it started happening and I found that I could indeed calm down again I was shocked too. I never thought that would happen. No one ever told me that would happen and I never read about it in books either. Other survivors did not tell me about it.

Clarity has always been something that I have had problems keeping when interacting with others, especially those who are being hurtful or abusive to me. But what was new and what was important to me to see was that I kept clarity about who I was. Others have always made me lose who I was while I was being abused, especially when being emotionally and verbally abused. My mother did that a lot and I find that when others have done it I often lose myself in the middle of the disagreement.

Learning new coping skills, new self-care skills, and new self-esteem helped get me further along that healing road as well. Working on connectedness and calm and assertive energy were other components in attachment. All of this stuff seems like huge steps in healing for me. But they are nothing to the healing work that I seem to be working on right now.

The huge thing for me has been to finally work on my hardest lessons; to attach to me, to ourselves, to our spiritual guides, to nature, to the universe, to other areas of connectedness, and for these attachments to be my primary attachments. Other people have always been my focus, even when I was able to work on that, other parts in our system have still put other people first in importance. I have tried a lot to get them to understand, but under the surface I was still putting other people, in a body, in a position of more importance than our system and that was the example that they had. Even when I did a pretty good job of healing in this area, I was not having much of a positive effect for change for the system.

What has been surprising recently is that I have been working on this issue for some time, without my even realizing it.

I’ve always been able to value myself some of the time and eventually with lots of healing work and time I’ve expanded the amount of time I can do so more and more. Now I am finally learning how to value myself all the time, not just when someone else is being loving and good and kind to me. And when they can’t be I know who to blame, I blame them for being wrong. I’m totally willing to have the normal give and take of a relationship, but I am not willing to tolerate extended abusive interactions.

The most obvious proof came when I was willing to let go of my friend of eight years when she was being abusive to me. I remember the feelings and thoughts I was having the whole time when we were having interactions. I remember I was willing to discuss, negotiate, apologize, reconcile. I remember that I had clarity on what was happening, on who I am, and how much I value myself. I recall it’s been a very long time since someone treated me so badly. I remember she kept crossing a line and how I had a definite boundary on how much I was willing to tolerate when it came to abusiveness. I remember how willing and able I was at taking care of myself.

Being connected to myself, ourselves, and other areas of connectedness has helped shift the universe for me. It is taking time, but it is obvious a sea change has started. Loving and valuing myself is becoming my meals, my nourishment, my nurturing, the way that I feed myself/ourselves. Being involved with others is becoming my dessert, and we all know how much I love chocolate. 🙂

The Snow’s Coming Down

The weather forecasts one inch. It started about four pm this afternoon when I was at the chiropractor’s office. I was so lucky catching a bus back home, it came about two minutes after I got to the bus stop. I stopped at the grocery store, got some stuff, and biked home from there. It was cold, and I was glad to get home and get in the warmth. But the snow falling down was lovely to watch.

A lot of sad stuff came up, around my family during Christmas week, especially when one of my brothers did not have time to see me, not even for a meal or an hour, but he did have time to spend with my emotionally abusive sister and Christmas at her house. There have been times when he only spent an hour or so with me on Christmas Eve, and even one year when all he did was drop off a couple of presents. Yes presents are lovely. But I know that he is spending hours and hours with others in my family, others who are emotionally abusive to me. That makes me very sad to see how others are chosen over me.

The brother that I lived with three years ago in the other state has tried to reconcile somewhat with me over the last two years. Not that we have a great relationship. But I know that he loves me, and while he is a deeply flawed person, he knows that I love him. He took me out to dinner the weekend before Christmas. Unfortunately his topics of choice seem to be provoking and non-rational, while trying to make a rational argument, so it is a challenge to cope and talk with him. Still, I value the attempt he is making.

I spent part of Christmas with one of my brothers. I had a lovely lovely time. It was so wonderful to be able to spend part of the day with him. What made it even more special is that he is the one who asked to get together on Christmas, instead of me having to ask to see him on a day around Christmas week. That is rare in my life. We sat and talked for a long time. We watched A Christmas Story. We love that movie! We ate a lovely meal together that my brother had made. It is nice to be around a family member who is not demeaning, insulting, hurting, and scapegoating me.

I’m doing a good job of coping with the aftermath/hangover after Christmas. Some years it is pretty awful when I had increased health problems and more restrictions on what I can do and can’t be active or even do many home activities. I have tried this year to do a lot more and to include a lot more different things to do. Still, I didn’t get through all the things that we wanted to do, music, TV specials, movies, activities, etc etc etc. I decided to continue with Christmas celebrations for the Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas until Epiphany, January 6th. One of the goals of The Littles is to color in some of our coloring books. I am trying to give them their goal, among others, during the 12 days.

This Year in Healing

One thing I’ve noticed over the years of healing from child sexual abuse is that the issues are often the same as in the past, but I often find myself on a different level from year to year. This past year I’ve seen a lot of movement on several issues. There are other issues of healing that I’ve done very little work on this year, but I think there has been progress because of the specific issues that I have purposely been working on. Usually each new year brings a re-assessment of where I am and where I want to go in my life and my healing work.

One lesson that I’ve re-learned strongly this year is one that I’ve learned most years of my life and especially in my healing, if it doesn’t work for you, find something else.There is no shame in that, though often others, their expectations, their judgments, and their words make us feel ashamed and different, unacceptable and unwilling to change and heal.

There are tons of self-help stuff out there, tons of therapists, and tons of therapy techniques and tools. We’ve probably all heard about them. We’ve probably each tried tons of things to get better, handle our daily life, cope, and deal with our past of childhood sexual abuse, the aftermath of abuse, and our present life.

Yes changing and healing are hard, but we need the right tool or tools at the right time. We need to learn the new tool and learn how to use the tool. We need time and practice and patience to work our new tool, until it is a familiar tool and we become comfortable and used to it, until it is a tool we reach for unconsciously when we need it.

From where we are at in our healing often we don’t know what to do, we think of several things that we can try, our therapist or books or friends or others can suggest. We are at one knowledge level and one skill level but others, especially therapists and survivor friends, can be at many other levels and give us of their compassion, advice, knowledge, wisdom, love, and acceptance. Temper what they say with where you are at in your life and healing. They might not know everything about where you are at. You might not know everything about where you are at either. But trust yourself when one thing isn’t working in healing to try other things. This is what I have been trying to do this year. Now I strongly believe in finding the right tools for the right job and making my healing a personal one-of-a-kind personalized healing project.

We aren’t unwilling to change and heal. We just need the right tools at the right time. We need help and acceptance by those who care about us and our healings, friends who love us and envision us as a healer, working on ourselves to change and grow. We can heal even without any of those things, but we come to a place in healing where we know we deserve to have what works best for us, in our life, in our healing, and in our present and future.

I was having a problem recently with my bicycle seat. It wouldn’t stay tightened and would often loosen up, moving around as I was biking. I went through some of my packed boxes and found the tools I needed to tighten up the nut and bolts, but for some reason it needed tightening almost every time I rode it. I thought what I needed was new bolts and went and bought them, replaced them. But what I really needed, I discovered, because that did not fix the problem was a different nut, one that was wider and I needed wider bolts as well. Seriously problem solving this type of stuff is beyond my skill level, but I figured I had to figure it out or pay someone else to do it and that is not what I normally do, if I can avoid it.

So adjusting the bolts did not solve the problem and replacing the bolts did not solve the problem. It looked like the problem, but the problem was something else. This is a lot like what life is like. This is a lot like what healing is like. If you work hard on one area and there is no improvement, it is okay to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Maybe it’s something else, maybe there is another way to approach the problem, maybe there is a work around, maybe you can do things that sort of short circuit the issue and allow you to just do things.

What I have learned last year, 2011, is to discover what I am already connected to, what I want to be connected to, and what I might want to become connected to. Connectedness has become a healing tool in my life this past year. I used to feel untethered. I think that most survivors of child sexual abuse feel untethered. I don’t feel comfortable with grounding or groundedness work, so finally instead I hit on the idea of working on connectedness. When I am upset I find myself thinking of my favorite library, the downtown Minneapolis library. It helps me feel connected to something solid, good, loveable, and caring. Connectedness brought me so much, an awareness that I have a solid core. I didn’t know I had a solid core before, I didn’t know anything about being solid to my core. Doing my connectedness work brought me that awareness recently. It was a huge step in healing for me to find myself with a solid core. This is the core that I was able to work from this last year.

I have sort of devoted this year in healing to be about doing and being. I had huge issues of anxiety and fears that continued to control me and much of my daily life. I didn’t have a lot of healing tools that I was comfortable with and that really helped me with these areas. My work with biking with the doggies gave me lots of opportunities to work on being the pack leader, with no fear, no weak emotion, just feelings of competence and leadership. This is often a moment by moment challenge and still is. However I have found when you find the right tool, it fits comfortably in your hand and your learning process is pleasant as well as challenging.

Doing good things for myself has always been difficult for me, a huge challenge in my life. I didn’t realize that approaching this issue from another angle would help me with these challenges. Sometimes you need to do something different and go in a different direction to get to where you want to go. Healing is like that. Establishing my connectedness and my leadership in my own life have become an excellent platform for diving off of into the waters of doing things and actitivities for myself(ves), my life, and my present and future.

If you can’t get to where you want to go from where you are, I hope you will try new tools. I’ll keep doing that and writing about that process and hoping that you will read and hoping that it will give you some suggestions, or help your mind to give you some suggestions, or help you bring the topic up to others and get some more ideas and tools. Modify, change, learn, grow, accept yourself if something works or it doesn’t, try something else, it is all a part of healing.

My Favorite Library

I love my libraries. My all-time favorite library, I know this comes as no surprise as I’ve written about it so often, is the downtown Minneapolis library. (I realized while uploading the photos that I didn’t take any photos of the outside of the library. But you can see it by clicking on the link above to my previous post on this library.)

I am strongly connected to the library. When I am upset or tired out or in need of connectedness for some other reason I usually think of the downtown Minneapolis library. I realized how strong a connection I have with this library when I had started doing it automatically when I needed to be grounded and more connected. I feel this connectedness now more and more and I find that connection comforting and sustaining.

Here are some photos of a recent trip:

Here is the inside entrance into the library. The library takes up one square block and the hallway in front of the entrance runs from one block all the way to the other block. On the far left of the photo you can see one of the giant stone pillars.

Across from the front entrance to the library is a statue of a woman with a book. I can’t remember what the statue says, but I think it is dedicated to wisdom.

An up-close look at the statue. I love this woman. I remember her from when I was a young child on a school field trip. I have seen her hundreds of times since and she always makes me feel happy and at home.

Looking up, near the main entrance in the hallway, you can see the different floors, with the pillars.  I love the design of this building. It always get to me.

The view of the second floor stairs, when standing in the hallway under it, looking up. Yes it looks like there isn’t anything under the stairs, but there is. It can be a little daunting walking on them and also taking the elevator, which looks out onto the hallway from one side of the elevator being all glass.

My favorite ever library used bookstore. I get great paperback books for 75 cents! Right next to the bookstore is the coffeeshop, so there is a constant huge smell of great coffee permeating the bookstore.

Ahh, my favorite coffeeshop company, Dunn Bros. Coffee. Their coffee is my favorite coffee to have. About six months ago I bought a pound of Peru coffee. I was in recently and was so upset they didn’t have any of the same kind for sale. I didn’t buy anything else, I was so disappointed. Psst, I still have plenty of Starbuck’s Pike Place at home.

The view outside the windows from my favorite comfy chair at the coffeeshop. I’m sitting right next to one of the stone pillars. And not surprisingly my view looks out on the bike racks! It was darker and rainy on this day, so I did not get some photos of the tall window area right there, it is like about three stories high. But I will the next time I am there when it is sunny with some clouds traveling across the sky. That is a great thing to do, sit there, read and watch the clouds go by.

Here I am sticking my pink converse one stars in a photo, again. Just sipping my caffee and reading my book. Ahh, heaven. One of the places on earth where my soul sings with joy.

Birthday Presents to Myself

For my birthday I decided to give myself some presents.

I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was very little and the show first aired. I’ve been a science-fiction and fantasy fan since I was born. One of my strong connections to life and this world is through science-fiction and fantasy. I’ll write more about that connection in a future post.

My first present was to buy the book The Star Trek Concordance. I used to have a copy of this book years ago but had sold it to a used store during one of my desperately poor periods when I would routinely sell off my books. Normally I wouldn’t sell off a reference book like that, but it had been a Christmas present years ago by one of my sexual offenders and I didn’t want that connection to be with that book. Before my birthday I bought it used through amazon for $6. I had started watching the original series on netflix once again. I’ve missed it a  lot. I’m also pinning a lot of Star Trek photos onto my Pinterest account.

For my birthday I also gave myself the gift of commitment to find some inexpensive exercise equipment. I decided to go at least once a week to one or both of the closest used stores looking for something to buy that I can exercise with. I’ve seen some really good deals for older models for under $20. It is hard to find someone to help me transport items I may buy, but I have to try. I am proud to report that I have already found one machine. It is a manual treadmill. That means that basically the action of walking makes the belt move. It looks something like this. Pretty good deal. I use it every day. I am continuing to look for older model stationary bike and other exercise equipment.

I also took my bike in for a tune-up and necessary fixes. I deserve to have a bike that works properly so that I can travel safer and easier and more comfortably. This was something that I have put off for a long time. I am so glad that my bike rides will be so much smoother and more enjoyable. I’ve been averaging two to six miles or more on days that I am well enough to ride my bike. About a week ago I rode about fourteen miles, my top daily mileage ever.

I am also getting my Gyn exam and a mammogram done this month. My Gyn exam will be this Thursday, June 14th. My mammogram the following Tuesday, June 19th. Again, happy birthday to me.

I used to be a member of two museums and go to them. I loved that. I would be in a lot of pain to walk, but I still wanted to do it. Then I injured my hip while preparing to move three years ago.  I couldn’t go for visits any more. The often bemoaned how the city I lived in when I was in the warmer state did not have a museum. Since moving back to my home state over two years agoI haven’t been to a museum. So I decided to give myself the birthday presents of memberships to the two museums again.

So for my birthday, I bought the membership to the Minneapolis Institute of Art this month. I love this museum. I’ve been going there since a school field trip as a child. For the membership I get a free ticket each time I visit for exhibitions. Which is particularly wonderful since there is a new exhibition opening this month, Rembrandt in America. I’m really looking forward to it. There are also some of my favorite art pieces that I have got to see each time I go. I am so looking forward to that, I’ve missed them.

For my birthday, next month I am going to get a membership to The Walker Art Center. The Walker has more modern art. It takes a lot more work to appreciate and understand modern art. I remember going there once in my twenties and totally being clueless about a lot of the art installations. I just didn’t get it, not at all. I took a short class three years ago through the downtown library by a professor of a great art college nearby and it really opened up my mind and my eyes. So I love going to the Walker now. I particularly loved going to the Picasso and Frida Kahlo exhibits. And there are several rooms in the permanent collection that I love communing with.

I also have plans to go to some book club meetings. One meeting in August is on the first book in the Game of Thrones series. I am reading that book right now. I love it and I love the series on HBO as well. There is a downtown library book club and I keep hoping they pick a book soon that I want to read so I can go to one of their meetings. Guess I have to keep watching their posted choices.

Another gift that I want to give to myself is a wider social groups for interactions. There are several other groups that I want to join; one a science-fiction club, one a gluten intolerance group, and the last a large social group that gets together to play board games. I want to make my life happier and fuller and with more support around some of my favorite interests. Good gifts that keep on giving.

My Mother Was an Eating Disorder

Besides being a mother-daughter sexual abuser, my mother was an eating disorder. As a baby she would sometimes  refuse to feed me. She would stop me before I got enough food. 

Later she would give me soured milk in my bottle and then take it away when I wouldn’t drink it and say, you don’t drink it, you get nothing, like it was my choice not to have food. No one else was there to notice or to stop her. I knew. I remembered. My body remembered. I was underweight. I was underweight all my childhood.

As a toddler she would take away my naptime bottle from me and give it to my brother. She would offer me food if I would sit or lay still while she abused me or if I would do whatever she instructed me to do when she was sexually abusing me. I abhorred what she wanted to do to me.

As a pre-schooler she would deprive me of food. Any time there were family members I would get food. I could have breakfast each morning. Whether or not I could keep it in my stomach was another matter.

I hated being touched by her. I hated everything about her body. I hated her with a passion. I remember being three and four years old and being consumed with wanting to beat her to death with my bare hands. She would make me vomit up breakfast if she did not think I was cooperating, or sometimes even when I did everything she asked when she was enraged as revenge against some imagined slight or wound, and then she would refuse to give me lunch. The evening meal was often the only meal that I had.

At times I was so gnawingly starved that I did not fight her. Sometimes I did not have the energy to do it. She was huge and powerful. Or I did not have the will to do it. I was tiny and powerless. Or I did not have the mind focus to hide from her or to avoid her or to become invisible right after all the family members left the house and she would catch me. I was a pre-schooler. I was a little child.

At no time have I ever blamed myself for being sexually abused by my mother, not to me, not to us. Some of us inside our multiple system have blamed and some still do blame themselves for not being loved by her, for not being nurtured and cared for by her, for not being protected and fed by her, and for being physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused by her. She constantly blamed us. It was inevitable that her words would become our own inner critic voice, word for word.

Weekends were good. I had witnesses. I am so thankful to my father and family members for being there. I am thankful to them that they were not keeping food from me and I believe that they would not have cooperated with that if they had known. Everyone expected food. Food was a big part of our family life. It was a joy that we all took part in.

She was the person to dish out the food for each person at our table, for every meal. She controlled food in my life, completely.

I cannot express the joy at getting out of that house and going to school at age five. I could eat three meals a day. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t being raped. I wasn’t being beaten. I wasn’t being starved. It was a safe haven. And I was learning. Knowledge, my new obsession.

As a teenager she tried to make me fat. I was deathly afraid of being fat and cruel like her since I was very tiny. I had gained about twenty pounds around age fourteen as I was developing. I stopped eating treats, started running and doing exercises every evening and she went breserk.

She confronted me alone and threatened me. She said I would eat everything she gave me in my lunchbag or else I would regret it. She was hysterical about it all. I told her I wouldn’t and there would be nothing she could do about it and from now on I wouldn’t give it away to anyone else on the bus for my brothers to see and rat me out to her, so she would never know if I was eating everything or not. It was one of the times that I had answered her back and stood up for myself around food.

I didn’t have an eating disorder. My mother was an eating disorder in my life.

I do have disordered eating, at times, and have a very skewed concept of eating, portions, nutrition, and food preparation. She refused to teach me cooking or baking. She would describe the process in magical terms, always reminding me that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to do what she did with food. She did that whole pinch of this, a handful of that, to taste sort of cooking. That, she made a huge point to always tell me, was way beyond my capabilities.

Everything about food had become over-shadowed with her and all the ways that she stopped me and abused me and used me around food. Since everything about food was consumed by my parental sexual abuser and with my supposed inadequacies and undeservedness of food, it makes food a very negatively charged topic. And the fact that you have to eat every day, with that heavy load in your mind and heart, to help your body be sustained, it is very hard, a very real challenge, at 2 and 6, and 14 and today.

I realize that I have developed a number of ways to have and work on connectedness. But I do not have a connection to food. And that would seem pretty elementary of a thing for someone to have. I have always been afraid that being more connected to food will make me gain a lot more weight.

Being overweight to begin with fuels my fears. I have to deprive myself so much, because I gain weight easily and due to my health limitations cannot walk much or run at all, which are usually necessary for keeping my weight down. Being starved as a tiny child means that my body is in self-defense mode each time I eat and don’t eat, and it compensates to keep me alive.

It’s very hard to lose weight. I have to deprive myself, but it is sort of necessary in order to lose weight. I hate to do that. It is so much like living with my mother and being abused and starved. It can be so triggering. It feels as though I am abusing myself.

The kinds of abuses my mother did to me around food in the furtherance of her sexually abusing me has made food an integral part of child sexual abuse. It disconnected me from food. It was a way of coping. It was a way of surviving.

It is normal for someone to have a strong connection to food, but we don’t have one.  So starting today, on Mother’s Day, I will start working on establishing my connectedness to food. I am planning on posting more about my weight loss efforts, my small indulgences that glory in food, my continuing efforts to make food, and my gluten-free cooking and gluten-free foods I have tried and hated and tried and loved.

This is all about the abuses my mother perpetrated against me, both sexual and otherwise, and the damage and aftereffects of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I will be striving to make food a central and loving part of my life, one that is loving and life-affirming, one that is healing, one that sings of nurturance and joy, one that allows me to maintain a more healthier weight.

Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse Resources

Healing from Abuse Resources