Trigger Warning & Discussion Guidelines


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.

Also, be kind and compassionate to ME. If you want to stroll by and attack me when I fuck up (which I’ve done, and I write about it) or because you don’t like queers or what-have-you, or if you want to fight about the psychiatric profession or EMDR or anything else, please know that I screen all comments and I just won’t let them through. This place is not a debate page. It’s a personal blog, and I’m blogging for connection and support.


The mattress I ordered for my new apartment (and that my generous little sister bought for me) hit the front porch today. The only thing I got ahead of time, so that I’d have a place to sleep the first night.


My heart fell like the mattress.

“This is really happening,” I said to my coparent. “I am really moving out.”

It’s the right thing. Everything is going to be so, so, so much better. But I’ve been with my coparent in one way or another for 25 years, and I was raised to just deal with misery and sit in it.

I’m changing it. I’m moving out. I’m doing things for myself. I am accepting a HUGE amount of help from friends and family.

All of these things are huge taboos in my family. Never change. Never ask for help. It’s stupid to think things could get better. It’s weak to let anyone help you. It’s true in so many dysfunctional families. And I’ve been trained to ignore my gut because it’s probably wrong, but I listened to it. I’ve been trained to second-guess every single goddamned decision I make (and I’m second-guessing myself like crazy).

I’m locked into terror for being so transgressive.

How far back things go

yoursforeverSo, I’m struggling a bit with this separation. Ha ha ha. I mean everyone does. But, specifically, in trusting that my partner really will continue loving me.

Intellectually: sure. I believe her.

But I find myself thinking things like: “Yeah; that’s what [coparent] said” when she says “I love you,” or “Sure, if you’re still around,” if she mentions us doing things together a few years from now. Even though I am ordinarily probably a TOO trusting person.

I asked my therapist how I can fucking STOP DOING THIS, because it’s unfair and frustrating and hurting my relationship with my partner, and she pulled out the damn nested dolls again.

Oh, those nested dolls.

She thinks that this is my teenage or grade school self who has realized that my mother’s love is conditional speaking. And she thinks I need to deal with THAT.


PS if you ever have a friend or acquaintance who is getting separated and the female half of the equation is the one moving out, asking her why he’s not the one moving out instead of her is a pretty sexist thing to ask. It’s also rather shaming of the woman, hinting that she is abandoning her children. Just something to think about.

Okay, but will you pay me while I’m resting?

restFreelance is booming and exhausting.

I’m moving out and we told the boys and it was wrenching and exhausting.

Money worries are exhausting.

Sadness is exhausting.

Winter is coming. Right now I find this exhausting.

I’d love to curl up and rest for a few days and maybe wear a pair of wee wings and make moss magically comfortable and stuff. Ain’t gonna happen. But I do like this meme, even as it makes me wince.

And feel exhausted.

Internal Validation: How I Walk

A classic sign of childhood neglect and abuse is that we, as adults, are unable to self-validate. You can’t just DECIDE to stop needing outside validation. You can’t just DECIDE to be internally, self-validated. If we could, we all WOULD.

It seems like every week I’m like WHY CAN’T I SELF-VALIDATE YET and my therapist laughs and says: “you’re getting there!”

I try to be patient with myself, but sometimes I feel like I haven’t even started to build the fucking scaffolding for this ability.

Normal patterns go like this: baby/toddler/child/teen has unconditional love from parents. She believes she is worthy of unconditional love because she has received unconditional love. All babies, toddlers, and young children need external validation of their ideas, feelings, opinions, and self-worth, and kids in happy and healthy homes grow up with that. Their parents provide them with it.

Over time, non-traumatized people begin to internalize this — they gain self-love and self repect. Everyone tells you that you’re lovable and have good ideas and that you are interesting? Well, then, you must be lovable and have good ideas and you must be interesting!

Kids from healthy families internalize their parents’ unconditional love.

Kids from families like mine internalize their parents’ conditional love: if we do the right things, we will be loved. If we please people the right way, they will think we are smart. If we control this or that, we will continue to be in relationship. But if we fail to do any of those things, the person we thought loved us will withdraw that love.

It takes years and years and years to undo those messages and internalize a sense of worth. And sometimes I have no idea if/how I’m doing this.

Today, it was more clear.

Today, I read the letter from my 12-year-old self to my adult self aloud in my therapist’s office.

She asked me what writing this did for me, and I mainly said:

Envisioning myself as this tough kid was really helpful in addressing this issue of self esteem and internal validation.

My mother had this narrative about me that my swagger was all an act: “Oh, you’re playing a role!” she would say, pretending to be delighted by my supposed ability to act. “You’re always playing the tough guy, aren’t you?”

And I have bought it: the stories I remember most are stories in which I was a coward, or afraid. I imagine myself a cringing creature, miserable in school and cowering from my mother at home.


But I wasn’t. I was a tough, resourceful thing who once, with the aid of her little sister, smashed up a cement sidewalk with a sledgehammer in a very workmanlike manner. I got into fistfights when I had to, and I won. I wasn’t playing tough; I WAS fucking tough. I figured out how to make my mother beating me much less fun for her. The ‘worse is coming’ I mentioned in my letter is that after she realized that she couldn’t make me cry and fight and run and shriek, she switched to psychological warfare (okay, punctuated by a few ‘nearly killing me’ episodes which — I remind myself — I survived).

Seeing myself for who I was, and seeing myself as a fierce solid strong girl, and appreciating the feat I’d accomplished, helped me in my work toward self-validation.

I have done astounding things, at some very young ages. I swagger — not to cover up insecurities, as I have suspected myself of doing at times — but simply because that is how a badass walks.

Letter from my 12-year-old self to me: my 45-year-old self


statueDear Moxie,

Your therapist wants you to write a letter to me, but I don’t need it. I have been sitting inside of you for years.

And anyway, you need a letter from ME.

So, you know the me who is writing, right? I’m from one of the first memories you listed as targets when you started EMDR: the memory of our mom dragging us out of that filthy, mosquito-larva-infested three-foot high swimming pool festering in the back yard, scraping our legs raw against the rough plastic side, throwing us down in the mud in front of our friends and beating our bare, wet legs and back viciously with a hairbrush — supposedly for something we’d said to Dad earlier.

It’s not necessarily the beating that horrified you so much — we were used to those. You were even used to the humiliation of it happening in front of friends.

It was what I did in response.

I know, because I was sitting in here when you said it in that therapist’s office: that you are horrified that I focused on a small point in the horizon, that I stood up, crossed my arms and planted my feet, and I hardened myself.

I hardened my skin. I hardened my muscles. I hardened my mind. I hardened my heart: a big, thick wall of gray stone.

And I know that wall is what you’re trying to dismantle now, because you need to expand, you need to be soft. You need room to grow. Having that wall around your body and your heart has hurt you — and others — and it’s now holding you back and you need to break free from it in order to heal and be a grownup and stuff.

But don’t you remember why we needed it?

Don’t you remember the triumph we felt as she gasped and sobbed and panted: “This isn’t hurting; this isn’t hurting why don’t you cry?” Remember when she swung and hit so hard that SHE slipped and fell in the mud while you stood strong as an oak, even when welts rose on our skin? Oh, come on. There was something satisfying about it.

I am sorry that I gave you so much work to do, later. I’m sorry you’re finding it so difficult, sometimes so hopeless.

But have you ever considered what would have happened had I not protected us that day?

We did not turn to stone — not all the way through to our center. I just protected that small, soft, bright center. Those thick walls protected that spark of ourselves against horrible storms and drought and blizzards, to keep that tiny flicker inside of us alive. Because much more and much worse was coming, and I could sense it. That heavy stone kept us grounded. Balanced. Steady, even when nothing around us was.

I saved us with that stone skin and stone muscles and stone rib cage. I saved us from doing more than just the small amount of self-harm we did — I saved us from moving into actual suicide attempts. I saved us from breakdown when things got really, really bad. I saved us from more damage that might have come from fighting back too soon, before we were ready. (Have you forgotten how strong she was, now that you are so large and strong yourself?)

Sitting in that safe place where you live now, I see why you can mourn the bright flame of our love and our creativity and our joy being hidden away so effectively. And I know this stone is really really heavy.

But you’re still around to do the work: to break it up and haul it away. And you’ve got me to thank for that.