Saturday, April 16, 2011

I don't know what to say

That is one of the most common things I've heard throughout my lifetime.  It's not a bad thing to say.  It's honest.  This stuff is scary and hard.  And I'm currently in the middle of writing one that is really hard for me so I'm hiding from it right this minute thank you very much.  Something scary enough that I can't face writing it for a few days is not my favorite.  Just sayin.  So that said, I am not going to say that this post is generally applicable to people other than me.  I will say that these are things that I have noticed over time that help me a lot.

I spend a lot of the time feeling very alone in the world.  Very unseen.  I'm not sure why but that is one of the hardest parts for me.  It's not true, but I feel like people are avoiding me because I am bad and dirty and gross.  I feel like people don't respond to the stuff I write because they think terrible things about me because these things happened to me.  It's very challenging to shout things into the deafening void.  I have virtually no contact with my family.  I have Noah.  I have the girls.  I have the friends who show up.  That is truly all I have in the world.  When people bitch about blahblahblah obligation with their family... I sit at home alone.  Seriously.  This sucks.

At this point I barely leave the house.  I do absolutely necessary errands and I usually make Noah come with me.  I go to therapy.  Otherwise people have to come to me.  Right now I do not have the extra patience, stability, reserves, whatever you want to call them to deal with the fact that life is uncertain.  When I go out somewhere with the kids by myself I have to be prepared to deal with Shanna having a melt down, or Calli having a massive poop explosion, or me having a panic attack.  Right now it's not worth it.  So I'm doing mad work on my house and yard so that being here is super fun and wonderful.  I really like visitors.  They make my day.  If you read this stuff and you feel genuinely uncomfortable talking about it but you like me and you want to be kind of vaguely supportive you could ask to come visit.  If you come during a time when my children are awake I won't get too intense on you.  Occasionally I cry but it's not the norm.  Especially if you have cheerful babble about your own life I am easily derailed onto fun topics.

If reaching out in person doesn't work for you (and that's ok, there are lots of reasons that is true) I really appreciate comments.  The stats page (God bless the stats page) lets me know that people are actually reading this.  But I don't know who they are.  I don't know what they think.  A lot of what is going on right now for me is that I am being slammed in the face over and over and over with these things that feel monstrous, but I'm not a monster.  So I have no scope for understanding how bad these things were.

I'm not sure if people understand that a lot of the reason I write this stuff down is until I write it down it doesn't feel like trauma it just feels like my life. I'm not sure if I can say that strongly enough.  Most of the time walking through my life I don't feel like a 'trauma victim' if you know what I mean.  I'm just me.  These are just the events in my life.  Everyone has events in their life.  It's really not something worth getting upset about.  Only... the stuff that happened to me is worth getting upset about.  And I'm already upset.  And I need to deal with that.  But how do you deal with it when you don't even know what it is that is upsetting you because it was just life stuff and no big deal?  So I write.  And I realize over and over and over that what happened to me was horrible.  And I have difficulty understanding the scope of it right now.  I don't know how to wrap my brain around stuff this awful being my story.

So what can you say?  You, oh lovely person on the internet.  You can say something as simple as, "You are right to be upset.  This is not within the range of normal treatment from a parent.  This should not have happened."  Do you realize that a lot of the time I don't even know what the range of normal treatment from a parent is?  When I ask about "normal" parenting I am really trying to ask what is the range of acceptable parenting behaviors that will not permanently damage your kids.  I really don't feel like I have a handle at all on what is "ok" behavior.  I'm guessing.  I'm reading and trying to figure it out.  But I still don't know.

I really like questions.  I'm aware that most people who are trauma victims are very afraid to talk about things.  I don't volunteer more details or information because I believe no one gives a shit.  Seriously.  I have thousands of pages of writing inside me about what my life was like.  About the stupid little indignities and how they complicated the larger issues of abuse.  I want to write about my experiences moving from the kind of poverty where you live in your car and take government cheese and steal food going to being a, frankly, rich suburban hippy housewife.  That's been fucking mind blowing.  The privilege I see in my day to day life now is... disconcerting.  I feel out of place.  I feel like an imposter.  I feel like any minute someone will show up and tell me that all these improvements I am making to the house and the property (even the weird ones) mean that I can't live here anymore because it's too good for me.  It's intense.

You can ask me questions about body memories.  You can ask me questions about details in the stories you don't understand.  If you want to understand this experience, I want to talk about it.  But I don't want to talk to people who don't want to listen.  I mean, be polite and all.  But it's ok to ask questions that feel weird and invasive.  I reserve the right to say, "I don't know how to talk about that yet but I'll think about it and get back to you."  I reserve the right to say, "That's too intense this minute."  I reserve the right to say, "Wow.  The way you asked that question made me feel defensive and I bet it's just me reading your tone wrong.  May I ask you to try again because right now that question feels attacking and I'm not sure how to respond."

Communication is good.  I want more of it.  Really.  It's ok.


  1. Well, I don't have any particular questions -
    But I am reading, I do care, and I find all the details strangely fascinating, by which I mean if you did write a book I'd buy it.

    It is hard to know what normal is, and what's acceptable, etc - all any of us have is what we've known. Myself I think most of the time that I was nicely in the middle of normal/acceptable/etc growing up, but I've got some (totally different and comparatively mild) weird father stories that I tell people and then go "ok, that probably wasn't ok at the time, was it?"
    But at the time everything was just life. And I certainly got a lot of privilege and I turned out ok, and I think it was in the category of "normal" levels of parental damage. Because everyone carries some, I think. Everyone I know certainly does, to greater or lesser extents.
    So I don't think anyone can answer normal.

    But yours is certainly OMG *way* off the NOT ACCEPTABLE EVER edge of things. If you need more validation of that.

  2. i'd buy the book too! I find you phenomenal and am blown away by your strength - Amy