Trigger Warning

Featured

kitten 1I am devoted to this blog being about healing, not abuse porn. That said, sometimes to talk about healing I will have to talk about hurting. Please consider this sticky post a trigger warning for every entry for childhood abuse of all kinds. If you are having a difficult day, this blog will still be here tomorrow! Consider looking at this picture of a kitten, instead, for now. Be kind and compassionate to yourself.

Things I Have Recently Discovered

  1. I don’t miss drinking at all. I have no urge to drink. I had some wine with a fancy pizza because it was my spouse’s bday and it didn’t even taste good.
  2. Some of my issues with childhood poverty don’t even have to do with the misery, alcoholism, and the beatings associated with it but just the plain old American Shame of it. Interestingly, though, treating my world as if I am poor is not as upsetting as I thought. I went to a food shelf this week, expecting to feel humiliated and upset. But since my family never did that (my Mom apparently preferred to eat food with bugs in it than go to a food shelf), I had no negative associations. It helped that the woman doing intake was kind, warm, matter-of-fact, and cheerful. She is going to help me apply for food stamps.
  3. EMDR continues to be amazing. I think perhaps if I hadn’t done some EMDR processing some of my childhood fears of poverty before I went, the food shelf would have been more upsetting. I have also been able to accept help from friends and relatives who have offered. I still need to work on being more gracious about it, but I have been able to accept it. This would have been COMPLETELY impossible without years of working on my crazy.
  4. I am a goddamned rock star and can walk into job interviews right after I have visited a food shelf and act like whether they offer me the job or not isn’t a life-or-death situation. Mainly because it is NOT, no matter how much my anxious childhood self fears it is.
  5. People in my life are very, very, very, very kind.

peaceful-womanAlso: my Aunt Brigid, about whom I have written before, came for a surprise visit on Friday.

To my knowledge, she has had no counseling, no Al-Anon. The only thing I know about her mental health is that she recently stopped taking anti-depressants.

And she is doing GREAT. She is still a traumatized person (for, sadly, really really really really good reasons) but she no longer sounds routinely hostile. She looks about 15-20 years younger than when I last saw her.

What changed?

She divorced someone who was toxic to her.

I guess I’m pointing this out to say that although this blog is about EMDR, there are many ways to become more healthy mentally, and removing yourself from a source of pain and poison is often a terrific way to do it.

This post was disjointed, I know. I’m feeling a little disjointed and will probably feel that way for a while until I’m bringing in more regular money. Thank you for reading anyway, and for writing such kind comments, and for emailing me and offering to help.

And thank you for doing whatever you are doing to feel and get healthier: be it therapy, removing ugliness from your life, walking with your face in the sun, kinky sex, 12-stepping, cuddling kids and pets, primal scream therapy, or yoga.

We are not alone, even when we are confused and unfocused. Love to you.

Long-term effects of EMDR: clarity

thinkerI’ve been writing a lot of negative things lately, and I’m not in the best of places.

But what is really interesting to me is how I’m handing things now — post/during EMDR — compared to before.

EMDR seems to have cured me of pointless guilt.

Saturday night I did a really stupid thing: I split a bottle of whiskey with a friend. An entire. Bottle. Of whiskey. I was belligerent and rude to my spouse. I spent a lot of time puking in the bathroom right next to my kids’ room, with unpleasant resonances to my own childhood of listening to my dad puking in the room next to where I was supposed to be sleeping.

Now, I’ve never drunk this much before as far as I know. So I don’t have anything specific to compare it to. But I know the old Moxie would have spent the entire miserable Sunday berating herself, wallowing in guilt, hating herself, beating herself up, melodramatically comparing herself to her alcoholic parents, ignoring her actual drinking habits. Running over and over in her head her own childhood trauma dealing with them and imagining that her own kids just went through the same thing.

This has been what has happened when I hit my kid and when I did other horrible things.

What doesn’t happen when you are wallowing in guilt and self-hatred: legitimate, helpful self-reflection.

I see now that I was using guilt and self-recrimination, bizarrely, as a way to avoid actually facing what I’d done and why I’d done it.

I have no idea why I woke up the next morning concerned about myself and what my kids did and did not hear — but not feeling agonized guilt. I mean, I know that it was thanks to EMDR, but I don’t know what specific mechanisms did it. Perhaps I am less endlessly trapped in my own trauma.

In any case, taking a good hard look at yourself after a shock like that is not what I’m used to. I think I am understanding some of why I did it, and what I can do about it — although some things are too personal to put even in this anonymous blog, so I’ll leave it at that.

Is this was normies do after making dumb mistakes?

 

PS omg google image search ‘thoughtful woman.’ ha ha ha ha ha. Yeah. I’ll use another image than silly, pouty, pretty, or sexy — thanks.

It’s like she has ESP

ragefingerI have hit a very low point in my life at the moment. My freelance work has dried up and I’m applying for full-time work. Even work in the suburbs that doesn’t pay much, that will keep me on the road for hours and away from my kids and my own writing that matters to me. I know that most people work full time jobs and wah wah wah poor me, but I have a disability that is much worse when I am not able to sleep on my own schedule and get tons of exercise. I am also getting older and sick to death of spending the vast majority of my life keeping a chair warm.

Guess who sends word to me through one of my sisters that she is going to dole out a very small token to each of us from her enormous inheritance? But that I have to ‘arrange it with her?’

Arrange it with her. She has my address, unfortunately. She knows how to write a check, I assume.

It’s funny — I think I’m doing so well. So calm and happy. But the realization that she thinks I can be manipulated with such a small amount of money and be willing to contact her and discuss anything with a woman who is unable to utter a word without poison dripping from her fangs has filled with with such incoherent rage that I can barely see.

Sure, she raised me in disgusting poverty so she could drink and act like a fool. She probably thinks I don’t know what I’m worth.

I suppose we all have a price. Well, bitch, mine is six figures. You want me to hand over my ears to you for abuse? $500K. Not a penny less.

An Open Letter to Adrian Peterson: from one child abuser to another

blg 31 vikings giantsCONTEXT AND A WARNING: Adrian Peterson, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, is facing felony charges of child abuse, and he is a repeat offender. He claims he is not a child abuser. Although I will not refer to what he did or to what I did in this post, the links I provide contain graphic descriptions of child abuse and some of those links subsequently link out to photos.

Dear Mr. Peterson,

Yes. You are a child abuser. And so am I.

Some might say that the contrast in the severity of what we each did is the distinction between us.

But there is only one difference between us: I know I am a child abuser, and you do not.

I know you are telling the truth you when you say you do not believe yourself to be a child abuser. I know you are telling the truth when you say that you were simply doing to him what someone long ago did to you. I know this, because I have been there.

A very wise friend of mine once said: abusers do not know they are abusers. Those who are being abused do not know they are being abused.

Those of us who were abused as children have normalized this abuse. We know our parents loved us, and we love our parents. We often cannot face the fact that our parents abused us. We often know many kids who got it much worse. We often live in families or go to school with kids who were all abused. When it’s everyone, it’s hard to see that there’s anything wrong with it.

We think that child abusers are some cartoon villains who have no feeling for their own children. Some kind of monstrous creatures who live under rocks and gain sadistic satisfaction from causing others pain. People who are not really people.

But child abusers are us. We are teachers and firefighters and accountants and ball players and engineers and bus drivers. We knew love as children. We knew abuse as children. It is the nature of the cycle of abuse that we would confuse that very abuse with love.

I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like to lose control and to find yourself re-enacting some of the worst moments from your childhood. (I do not think it is an accident, for instance, that both times you were accused of child abuse, the children were the same age. Something happened to you when you were four. I know it like I know the back of my hand. And my mother’s hand.) I know what it feels like to console yourself afterward with the fact that you didn’t do anything that was as bad as the worst things your own parents did to you.

And I believe you — I so much believe you — that you are terribly sorry about the physical damage you have caused your child, whom I know you love.

I also know that a time like this, when everyone is staring at you, when there are definite racial and cultural overtones and aspects to this story, that it is tempting to go to ground. It is tempting to defend yourself and, by extension, to defend your parents. And probably their parents. And probably their parents.

But I hope you will lean into how you are feeling right now. I hope you will lean into it, and look under it, and deeply into it. I hope you will refuse to feel victimized by the fact that the Vikings have finally bowed to pressure and suspended you until the case is resolved, and that you will instead use this time to look inward.

I hope you will not face jail time, as much as my own freaked-out children want you to. Because your kids need you, and I’m sure they love you just as much as you love them. I hope you will instead come to an understanding of what abuse is, how it is perpetuated, and how you can stop doing it.

Unfortunately, part of how you stop doing it is that you have to face what someone you loved (and who loved you) did to you. It is hard work. It is heartbreaking work. It is not work that our American culture traditionally sets up star running backs to do. It is about feelings and allowing yourself to remember when you were tiny and vulnerable.

It is excruciating. I am not going to lie about that. I think probably such work will be far harder for you to face than it was for a bookish female free from the pressures of traditional masculinity and fame to face.

But I can tell you this, unequivocally: it will be worth it. It will be worth it for yourself. It will be worth it for your children.

Right now, you believe whipping them is how to show that you love them and want what is best for them. And it is so hard to let go of fundamentally, deeply-held beliefs like that.

But if you can, you will experience a bond that you have never even dreamed of with your children. A bond that is built of genuine connection instead of fear. Of shared joy instead of shared trauma.

And there will finally be a chance that you will never do such a thing again. I feel hopeful for myself that this is the case in my family. And I want to feel hopeful for you, as well.

Most sincerely,
Moxie

Functional Families

love-hurtsI spent the weekend at a friend’s family summer cabin.

I found it so healing to see a family that basically functioned: the children received tons of love, support, and appropriate limits. The grandpa was astoundingly patient with them. The family members all got along and seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They were warm and welcoming to my partner and to me.

I also found it unnerving. They weren’t clannish. They seemed genuinely interested in conversation. They worked together beautifully.

I found myself wondering: what’s the catch?

There is no catch, Moxie. They are just being basically free from fuckery. I guess it happens.

I feel rather sad that this was such a jaw-dropping experience for me. It felt so alien that I’m not even sure I would want a family like that, even as I’m working for one.

Today in therapy we worked on how much loving someone makes me feel vulnerable, and how I turn away. The EMDR target memory we used was the first time I remember that happening. First grade. I thought a boy was cute (yep; a boy. I contain multitudes). He began to gently tease me during play time and I wasn’t sure if he was making fun of me or joking around. I froze. He had more power to hurt me than the other kids. I could see it. I didn’t like it. I avoided him for the rest of that school year.

Old habits, learned young.