So I’m a counter phobic 6, as least that is what Noah tells me. And Rebecca. And other people concurred. Maybe someday I will study the Enneagram and I will decide if I agree or not. Until then all I know is the more something scares me the more intensely focused on it I am. And right now I am so terrified of what I am currently thinking about that I am shaking. It is difficult to type. The thing is, what I am afraid of is being called a liar. I’m afraid of someone reading this and saying it isn’t true. When I first starting writing about things like this I was in graduate school. It was actually a fiction writing class. I chose to write creative non-fiction, basically telling stories about my trauma, because I couldn’t think of anything else to write. I didn’t present it that way to the class. One of the other students was very assertive in her position that what I was writing was unrealistic and not very good. I haven’t ditched that criticism yet, though I should.
I’m scared to write about these things because they are crazy. Really, seriously crazy. Why do I think they are that crazy? Because I have spent my adult life around atheists who have no patience for the woo. But I believe in the woo. And I need to own that and stop beating around the bush and just… say it.
Oh god this hurts. I found it. I had to come back to it. I had to come looking for the dark place instead of waiting for it to find me. That was harder than I thought. It was a lot harder than I thought to get back to this frantic state where I have to type or I am going to explode. It is even neat to me that I can’t say these words, I do need to type them. Thank god for computers. Fuck computers. That’s my life. And I’m already losing it. Shit.
After therapy this week Noah and I decided that it was a great night to go do more of the two chair thing starting at about 10. I was wired for sound. Something that came up a lot in therapy and then later with Noah was thinking about my current level of suicidal ideation. It’s really at an alarmingly high level. I feel more active compulsion than I have in years. My therapist asked me if I wanted to get into it with her and I told her no. When I told Noah that I had done that he responded with, “Ah! A challenge!” or the slightly less bombastic equivalent, which nonetheless means the same thing.
I am suicidal. Statistically speaking it’s really quite unsurprising. My particular brand of suicidal seems to be spurred mostly by shame. But here I am using my analytic voice. And each word of composition is ponderously considered, difficultly spelled, and not conducive to actually doing this. Let’s try something else.
It’s really scary to let these feelings come up. I feel intense pressure in my chest. I feel my throat tighten. I want to sob uncontrollably and yet I can’t breathe enough to get out sound. This is one of the feelings that produce intense, copious liquid tears. Often in other times when I cry I rack with sobs but no liquid comes out. I wonder why there is such variation in crying. And oh look. That was a really weak ass, uninteresting derail. Maybe some discomfort? Ha.
I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna talk about being terrible. I don’t want to say out loud that I believe I am evil. I believe my brother and my father are dead because I was loud and drew attention to myself and everything bad that came after is all my fault. I believe I am evil because my father whispered into my ear from when I was a tiny child that I was a witch. I have casually told stories for years about my maternal grandmother being a witch and I’ve told stories about things she supposedly did.
I learned every single one of those stories from my father. And the grandmother in question was not his. He was villainizing—no… he was literally demonizing my mother’s bloodline. He bloody well convinced me that I cannot escape being evil. He repeatedly encouraged me to seek out black magic because I had powers. When I was a teenager I read a bunch of books about Wicca, Shamanism, and a few other off-shoot pagan religions. I tried to cast a spell on a then-boyfriend to make him become obsessed with me. Hey, The Craft had just come out. He did become pretty obsessed with me. I think it’s much more likely that he became obsessed with me because I was a pretty girl who was willing to have sex with him.
But oh my god. I have built up this entire narrative in my life about how that scared me off of trying to pursue more magical endeavors because I have power. That is the crux of it. I have power. I do. The fact that I have survived my life is pretty much proof. I have survived my father molesting me all through my earliest memories. I have survived risky sexual activity during the periods of intense acting out I have had. The 25 year old man who fucked me at my request when I was 12 years old didn’t wear a condom. He was a drug dealer in Santa Clara. His name was Sean David Segura. And no, I don’t feel bad for naming him. Yes, I do. I hate that I feel like he deserves the shield of anonymity. He didn’t rape me and I’m not claiming he did. Only I was 12 years old and reeling from the last time my father sexually assaulted me and I wasn’t being supervised because no one gave a shit about me and I ran wild. I did it because everyone in my life was forcing me to be a grown up but I wasn’t fucking ready. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. I have been having sex as a consenting adult since I was 12 years old. That’s 18 years. Super Bowl Sunday is my “anniversary”. No wonder I feel so.fucking.old. I started working when I was 15. It was intermittent at first, but I contributed an awful lot towards my support. My mother would pick up my paycheques and dole out my $20/week allowance. It was festive. This is relevant, but not what I am doing tonight.
I have power. I have gone through fucking hell. My early childhood was abusive in ways I am just beginning to be able to understand. I became an adult at 12 years old. I made some really really bad choices along the way. I did not choose the straight and narrow at pretty much any point. Why did I survive? How was I able to keep so much of me private from my family and the abuse? I think I have power. I don’t know how to explain this and I’ve spent my lifetime wracking it back and forth in my brain. I don’t even know if this is just how it works for absolutely everyone on the planet. But when I decide I want something I god damn make it happen. Whether it is good or bad. The only thing really big goal I have set that I haven’t made was getting my masters. But I started grad school because I wanted to have more knowledge before I started being a teacher because I felt unqualified. Uhm, well, I met that goal. Why again am I a failure because I didn’t obtain a piece of paper that would impress other people but not improve my life? Yeah, scratch that. I am a god damn rock star. When I say I am going to do something, I do it.
Only that’s not true. That’s the positive side of my brain. I’m there maybe 70% of the time when I’m doing extraordinarily well. I’m there like 45% of the time right now. It’s odd to flipflop back and forth between that kind of optimism and the kind of overwhelming self-hatred I have. I don’t have ‘meh’ feelings about myself. I either think I am amazingly wonderful or I am so despicable that I am using the power I have to do evil. Oh, and I have lots of silly examples of things that I decide I want and then they magically appear in my life (no really) but the best one is the dream about Tommy’s accident. I haven’t explained that yet. It’s 11:43 pm on a Thursday night and my children will be awake (possible multiple times) within 6 hours. Why the hell not tell that story. (Editing note: it is now 3:48 am on Saturday and I haven’t slept much since starting this.)
(Minor background note: my parents divorced when I was 3. There was knowledge at the time of the divorce of sexual abuse but the belief was it only happened to my sister. Or at least that is what I was always told growing up. I am currently struggling with my feelings around what I think my mom did or didn’t know and that’s challenging for me. But that’s a digression for a different day. My mom and I bounced around moving a lot. I went to 25 schools before dropping out of high school in my junior year. My brothers mostly lived with our father.)
So to start this right, I have to set the stage. That’s what you do, right? I was either 6 or 7. Tommy wanted to come live with us for a while. We were living with Auntie and Uncle B. in Northern California in the house they still live in. One night Tommy and I were bickering, as a 6ish and 10ish year old sibling pair will do that sort of thing. My uncle intervened. Specifically speaking he started yelling at my brother and spilled a cup of boiling liquid on my brother. Luckily my brother escaped major damage. But that was it. We were out.
Basically, I baited my brother and then we had to move. But I don’t want to leave the story like that. There was a lot going on. My brother and I had weird sibling dynamics. I was significantly more intelligent than him and better in school but he was good at sports and charming and knew how to get along. I was prickly and difficult and acting out. I wasn’t an innocent victim in the situation, but neither am I to blame for all of it. And ultimately it was my mother, as the adult, who handled the situation badly and abused us and set us up to fight so… yeah. Maybe not any of it was really my fault. But it will always feel like my fault. It will always feel like I was mean to Tommy and then everything in my life blew up. That is my story. That is what is stuck in my head. That is the age I am. I’m 7. Maybe I should do some research on 7 year olds. And that is the end of where this digression is useful.
My mom packed up our stuff and drove south through LA to drop off Tommy back at our dad’s house. My mom and I went off to Oklahoma and Texas and that was a whole adventure. Texas is was where I was raped for the first time when I was 7. But one night in May of 1989 my brother Tommy was hit by a car. Specifically, he was hit by a drunk accident injury attorney. It’s almost comedic. Only it’s tragic. He was on drugs and the belief is that he was more or less trying to commit suicide. He succeeded. He was hit by a car on Imperial Highway, which if you know Southern California is a major road.
(Side note: shoulders, center of breath and ability to move between mindsets)
Tommy died. Sure they brought him back but he was never the same. He had a severe traumatic brain injury. He had a horrible life up until I prosecuted my father and Tommy once again tried to kill himself. This time he went out walking and bought a gas can. He went behind a shopping center. He doused himself in gasoline and he lit himself on fire. Tommy was still alive when they got him to the hospital even though 80% of his body was burned. My father, in one of the most magnanimous acts of his life, told them to turn off life support and let Tommy die.
The story in my head is that Tommy’s suicide was my fault because I prosecuted my father and Tommy couldn’t handle the idea of our father going to prison. But it’s total fucking bullshit. The truth is Tommy had been suicidal from when he was a small child and he tried over and over and over and over in more and less successful ways over the years. There was a long period where he had to wear a helmet and boxing gloves full time because he had a habit of shoving his head through windows for fun. How in the hell is it my fault that he finally succeeded?
But it is. And I am trembling with terror as I try to write this. My lizard brain is screaming out in terror no no no no no no I’m bad I’m bad I’m bad it’s all my fault. I killed Tommy. I killed Tommy twice with my selfishness. God gave him back and let me have a second chance at being a good little sister and I killed my big brother twice. And I believe this because I believe I have the power to influence things great and small. And I hated Tommy more than almost anyone on this earth.
Admitting that about my poor, dead brother makes me wrack with sobs. You are not supposed to speak ill of the dead. Tommy had a brain injury. It wasn’t his fault. I should be loving in my thoughts towards him. But I’m fucking glad the son of a bitch is dead. As much as my every memory of my father is laced with molestation, every memory of Tommy is laced with cruelty. He liked to see me in pain. Really it was my first SM relationship and I just didn’t know it. Tommy would arrange to have other people beat me up. Tommy was there the day I was thrown off the monkey bars and broke my arm when I was 6. He pretty much told the kid to do it. After the accident Tommy hated me with the intensity of the sun. He did things to me that hurt every single day. Practically any time I came within arms reach. As he got older and further through puberty he would attack me and try to knock me down so he could rape me.
Our father told him that if he couldn’t get sex outside the family it was my responsibility to provide it for him and he was allowed to take it.
This was my reality growing up. These were the things that went on behind closed doors. And I’m talking about them. I’m telling the secrets. And I feel like I will choke to death. I feel intense shame and horror. Seeing these stories in front of me like this hurts. When the stories just keep coming and there is detail after detail after detail and I know I am leaving 90% of the horror out of the story for the sake of time to write it all down…oh my god. It was monstrous. Why does this continually surprise me? Because day by day one atrocity at a time you can’t see the picture. You can’t see how horrible it is. And this is a nice digression and all, but it feels awfully comfy and that can’t be useful.
Yes, actually there is something very useful here. I grew up to have a four year long bdsm relationship with a man named (tbd). I called him Daddy. For two of those years (the middle two) we were in a 24/7 Master/slave relationship. Oh my god. There is so much there to write about. I need to write about him. But not today. Not till he says it is ok.
I’m supposed to be talking about being suicidal. But I really don’t want to. It hurts to talk about being suicidal. And I’m experiencing a lot of bursts of manic creativity in other directions and that is really rare for me so I am on to something big. This has to be huge. What the fuck is this.
I’m feeling a lot of internal pushback about talking about the witchcraft stuff. This is really hard for me. This is the part where I start to feel awkward and uncomfortable because I don’t feel secure that it is ok to have the beliefs that I have. Right this minute I’m feeling very freaked out because what portion of my very odd belief structure is taken directly from my father’s brain washing. Oh my fucking god I was brainwashed into believing magic and believing that I am an evil force in the world.
No no no no. Fuck you. I’m not going to do that. Saying that does not make it true. I feel incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of being brainwashed. I’m not going to let that be something I sit with right now. I’m allowed to make that choice.
I believe in magic. I believe that if you want something bad enough you will take action and create that thing in your life. I believe this is a
positive and good thing. Given that I have repeatedly managed to shove myself through ridiculous amounts of work in very short periods of time I would say it works for me. I’m allowed to have this belief without my father being allowed to take it away. I wonder if that is behind the current obsession with Alice in Wonderland. I’m playing in my mind with the idea of agency and Alice is certainly a very different character through the different representations of her. I feel like I am turning about looking in funhouse mirrors trying to figure out which version of my agency is the right one. How much control do I get to believe I have in the universe.
Oh god this hurts. I found it. I had to come back to it. I had to come looking for the dark place instead of waiting for it to find me. That was harder than I thought. I believe that my father’s death is my fault. I believe it with an intensity that consumes me. And I have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome and I want my fucking Daddy. That is what is going on. I am thinking about him molesting me. I am thinking about him hurting me. I want him. I want to be hurt. I want to do an intense sm scene. I want to do something horrible and destructive.
I want to kill myself.
What other act is there in the world that I could commit that would prove beyond the shadow of a doubt to every single person in the whole wide world that I am a worthless piece of shit and my father wanted to rape me and I kind of wish he had. I wish he had raped me instead of killing himself because then I wouldn’t feel this fucking guilty. And that is what I am hiding from. And that. Oh dear god.
I believe that prosecuting him was an evil act that forced him to do it. I believe I had the ability, with my hate, to do that to him. But I don’t really have that power. And I wasn’t acting out of evil. I was a scared half-kid-half-adult who was flailing around trying to not die. There was no bad in defending myself. I’m allowed to say no. I know that now, as an adult.
The funny thing is, reading this… you’d think I have trouble expressing boundaries. But I don’t. I’m actually fantastically good at expressing boundaries. I explore how to expand and retract them as necessary on a frequent basis. I put exhausting quantities of energy into defending my boundaries in a way that I believe is in the “range of acceptable normal boundaries” and I have to see it that way or I can’t do it at all.
I’m going to take a break here to say that this piece of writing is brought to you courtesy of a California Medical Marijuana permit. Without it I would be crying and beating my head against a wall and trying to slit my wrists. Instead I am writing productively in a way that is completely outside the parameters of my normal life and I am able to carry on as a functional human being during the day. Right now I am fighting to save my life because if I don’t deal with the extent of my father sexually assaulting me I don’t know if I will see my daughters grow up because I don’t know where else to begin fighting the monsters in my head. I have to say all of this out loud. And that is hard. That means going places my brain doesn’t want to let me go. I have to hack my brain and it hurts a lot. I’m not sure I can say I recommend this method of dealing with trauma. But if you feel like you don’t have a lot of time, why the hell not. I think this is my favorite digression ever.
See, I don’t want to talk about being suicidal. Being suicidal hurts. It makes me cry. I feel like I am evil and bad. No really. I believe that with an intensity that overwhelms me at random points in my life and I cannot focus on what is before me. I think I am barely aware it is happening, but it colors my intense paranoia. I am not reaching out to specific people right now because I believe no one wants me to. And I truly know this is paranoia because I sent out an invitation to a birthday party on Labor Day weekend five months in advance and within 24 hours I had 27 people who said they wanted to be there. It is simply not possible that everyone in the world thinks I am bad. It is more likely that people are busy and don’t notice me. It’s not personal. But I am doing what my mother does. I am sitting at home feeling like everything is wrecked forever and ever and ever because this terrible thing happened to our family and I can’t get passed it. Only for me right now it is the story of my abuse. I am stuck in cycles that are not good for me. I am trying to blow up my life because I cannot handle stability. I cannot handle stability because I was horrifically abused. I need to work through that and it’s going to hurt.
I am suicidal because I am the victim of incest and sexual assault. I am suicidal because I believe the things my father told me. I believe I am evil and a witch. I believe it deep in my monkey brain and I don’t know how to get these things out of me.
No. Fuck that noise. I don’t know yet. I haven’t done it yet. Just because I haven’t done it yet doesn’t mean I won’t. It will just be harder. I’m really tired of harder. I’d like a break one of these years. But if I have to get stronger I will. Because that is what I do. Because that is who I am. I have a really good, really stable life now and I am not going to fuck it up. I am going to hold it together. And I am going to write in the middle of the night. And I will get passed this.
But not in this essay. Because it is now 5:22 am on Saturday morning. My agenda for today is rather a busy one you see. Today I get to: finish the side yard drainage problem no matter how long it takes me nor how much it hurts because otherwise I won’t have a smooth pathway for people to walk on when they come to my Easter party and it is very very very important to me in my neurosis that when people come to my home they have a smooth path. No one there would judge me poorly in any way if I said, “We had a flooding problem in the last rainstorm and the yard is full of weird potholes because I have been dealing with a severe mental health crisis and I haven’t had time to deal with it!” But that’s not ok to say. That would be stepping all over the boundaries of everyone who wants to be generically, softly encouraging of my life in a light social way. So instead I will write intense journal entries in the middle of the night. I will frantically repair my side yard until I believe that I will not be embarrassed to have people see it. Before anyone gives me a panicked phone call, I’ve got it mostly done. You see, I don’t have the luxury of sitting down to do a project all in one go in one day basically ever. I’ve been working on the side yard for days. My entire body hurts. I am physically and mentally exhausted. I feel like I have nothing left to give to any part of my life.
But do you know what I will do? I will finish the delicious scone I have been noshing on with a nod to my wonderful online girlfriend who is doing a lot to help me grow right now and I will plaster a smile on my face. This was a really really big success in the war for me. I’m proud of it. No one gets to make me be silent any more. I can talk about my demons. I can brainstorm ways to deal with them. I can invite commentary. I can be real about the fact that there are two sides to every story but the only one that matters in my recovery is mine. I have to be aware of not losing my story to thoughts of being the scapegoat. I am not to fucking blame for almost anything that happened to me as a child. And I have behavioral patterns that I watch like a hawk. Because I have come a long way. I do hold it together. Shit. Or maybe this will be a rough day. Fuck.