What I might have been

I’m forty now. I haven’t had any children and I’ve decided not to try.  It’s a good thing, really, that my spouse doesn’t want kids iether, since I’ve been thinking a lot about kids since I turned forty and if I didn’t have such an awesome birth control method, I might ambivalently allow myself to get pregnant. A lot of births happen that way, I think.

Would I have had kids if I wasn’t an incest survivor? Maybe. When I was younger, I thought the pain of childbirth might trigger too much the pain of being raped as a child.  I didn’t think I could handle it, and knew I didn’t have the support in my life if it turned out I couldn’t.  There is really almost no systemic or societal support for incest survivors. If I had cancer or diabetes or a head injury, I could go to a support group in a hospital for free, talk about my life-challenging injury or illness freely, and even get my friends to walk in walkathons or shave their head or register to donate bone marrow in support.

But I’m an incest survivor. When I was very young I faced the threat of death, injury and loss of control over my own body on a daily basis. For a decade. Continually. While being forced on implicit threat of more violence to stay quiet about it and hide any effects on my person or behaviour.  With no resources, money, status or external support of my own.  With not even the knowledge that sustained people interred in concentration camps that the abusers were morally wrong and that others were going through the same thing. With only the hope of growing up and getting out to sustain me.

I hoped as a child that I would grow up and get married and get away. This was the reason to live. I looked forward to having sex, since everyone said it was such a good thing. Doing it made you an adult. Like many girls I made up names for my future children, and figured out whether I was going to be a teacher or a nurse when I grew up, those being the only choices presented.

I apparently tested at the top of the charts in the intelligence tests all kids were administered in elementary school, 98 percentile, meaning only 2 percent of all children my age tested higher. I read at a grade 12 level when I was in grade six. I was told, along with the other three girls who tested as high and were sent off to ‘enrichment’ class, that we were the hope of the future, Canada’s future leaders and we would solve the big world issues of nuclear proliferation, world peace and the environment. Even at the time I thought this was unfair. Why should the adults wait till I grew up to solve these problems? They created them, didn’t they? They were so much more powerful than I, so how could I fix things if they couldn’t?

A three dollar lock for my bedroom door would have made all the difference, had I known I had a right to one. I’m told by women who were social workers in those days that no-one was on the lookout for child sexual abuse, that telling might not have done much good.  Perhaps I can let go of hating the teachers that didn’t identify that I needed help. Surely things are different now.  I don’t think I can let go of hating the systemic sexism that made it possible. I know things aren’t different now.

I live in a neighbourhood where women who sell sexual services to survive work nearby. Many of them show signs of being meth users – the awkward floppy legged walk from nerve damage, visible wounds and bruises at times. All are bone-rack skinny and wear clothing insufficient to the elements. I know many feminists argue that prostitution is a legitimate profession, and I’ll allow it could be, in settings where the working conditions weren’t so appalling. I called an ambulance for a woman with so much skin ripped away from her chest that I could see raw meat underneath. Her ‘boyfriend’ really didn’t want her to go to a hospital, and tried to talk me out of calling, then dissapeared by the time the ambulance arrived. The fact that women in these straights still exist mean to me that men like my father still exist.

I was laying awake this morning thinking about what I could do today to make me feel better. I’d love to go for a walk in the large semi-natural city park we have, if I wasn’t sure I’d be afraid all the time, walking through the beautiful, sacred forest, praying and connecting energetically with the earth as is my right as a religious Pagan, that some asshole would steal my body and perhaps my life away from me again.  Christians don’t have to worry about being raped during church services and I envy them. I have periodic fantasies of buying some land out in the country somewhere, where I can be in nature and feel safe at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard not to hate men for all the freedoms they enjoy. They might be afraid of being mugged in an isolated place, but not usually raped. On the tv shows where the police officer trying to get the suspect to confess or take a deal threatens them with the likelihood that they’ll be raped in jail, pretty boy that they are, I can tell this thought horrifies men. It’s like it’s this horrific, rare, exceptional thing to be in regular danger of being raped. For women it’s this horrific, common, usual thing to be in regular danger of being raped.

To point this sort of thing out is to be labelled a man hater. Bullshit! Facts are facts, and not facing them doesn’t make them not true. Men rape women more than women rape men. A lot more. Men kill women more than women kill men. A lot more. Does this mean men are bad? No. It means that we encourage men (and boys) to behave violently toward women (and girls), and mostly let them get away with it when they do.  According to Raine Eisler, the military necessity of being able force a lower status man to objectify and kill a total stranger or be killed depends on this training, and it seems so does a lot of economic conquest and battle. I know lots of honourable men, but even they are uncomfortable with these facts. It’s like being a white person trying not to cooperate with racism in apparteid-era South Africa. If you’re not a full time activist, there are lots of daily ways to be complicit in thought or deed with the injustice the society around you is hell bent on perpetuating.

So what would genius-level IQ, creative, musically talented me have been if I hadn’t been a woman in a household with a rapist in a culture that lets fathers rape their children? Is is too late to be a portion of what I might have been? I don’t even know how to find out.

Bloggy Award Nominations and Coming Out

Honour-bound, as I am to nominate some bloggy award winners (5) I’ve decided to start in manageable steps.

Here’s the thing. A blog about “incest survivors, sprituality and ceremonies of justice” is kind of a conversation stopper. In order to be able to feel absolutely honest here, I’ve avoided any mention of who I am and where I am in my posts. Continue reading Bloggy Award Nominations and Coming Out

Collecting the Soul Fragments

There is this bit in the last book of the Harry Potter series, about how Lord Voldemort can’t die because a piece of his soul has been kept safe, all the time, inside Harry.

I’ve been wondering, all this time, why my father hasn’t died yet. He’s old, he’s a heavy smoker, he’s had organs removed from cancer, he’s a heavy drinker. If with all that he can live to almost 70, little organic eating, non-smoking, non-drinking me will live forever.  He DESERVES to die, he’s a waste of air and water and food, but yet he keeps on ticking. The last time he was ill enough to die, I toyed with going to his town and telling the health care professionals working so hard to keep him alive all the reasons why they shouldn’t bother. However, why torture innocent people with the knowledge they are duty bound to save a life that vastly doesn’t deserve it? Damn our excellent health care system!

Yesterday in my counselling session, I realized that, like Harry and Voldemort,  a part of my soul is still bound to my father, and so, perhaps, him to me.  Myself at 4 years old, innocent and trusting, open and loving her daddy, a year before he began raping me, still lives within me. She mourns for the smart, musical and creative man who did not ignore her like her mother, who carried her on his shoulders and made her feel tall.  I realize I’ve had this romantic image of the ‘good father’ that was taken away by the ‘monster’.  Several years ago, I even wrote a song about it:

My daddy played the best guitar, knew all my favourite songs.
He loved to sing with me, and I loved to sing along.
We never needed a stereo, we never ever used one.
We played our own music and we sang our own songs.

My daddy had a banjo, with broken strings, a ukelele for the little ones.
And the night his father died, he played the piano,
moonlight sonata all night long.
One night a monster swallowed him, and I believe beneath its skin,
though I can’t hear him, my daddy’s singing still.
And I wish I could sing with my daddy again….

Cause my Daddy played the best guitar, knew all my favourite songs.
He loved to sing with me and I loved to sing along.
We never needed a stereo, we never ever used one.
We played our own music and we sang our own songs.

But I’ll never sing with my Daddy again, he was taken away, a long time ago.
I never got to say goodbye, he never said he’d be leaving.
He left his guitar, and me,
Behind, and he,
was gone.

I realized that romanticizing the few morsels of positive fathering I recieved doesn’t serve me. My father is a narcisist. He never did anything that wasn’t driven by his own ego. Singing with me allowed him to show off his own talent and his talented and cute little daughter. It wasn’t about loving me.

In my session, I drew this little girl to me, feeling her energy around my heart. I drew up a dome of protection around us, sealing her and I off from him and severing the cord that held her and him, and therefore me and him, together. I drew this little soul fragment, so long lost, back to me into the silence of a rusty blood red silent dome. Giving up the illusion that I once, briefly, had a loving father in my life, is worth having her back.

In the Deathly Hallows, the final Harry Potter book (bless you Joanne Rowlings for creating this world of soul and honour! What a shame the movies discard those qualities.) Harry allows Voldemort to kill him, invoking a kind of saviour magic that protects his loved ones with his sacrifice. Voldemort actually instead ends up killing off the final bit of soul he’d inadvertently left inside Harry. Until this piece of soul inside Harry is dead, Voldemort can’t be killed iether. How true is Rowlings intuition that our abusers leave bits of their fragmented souls in us to live on. I can relate to Harry’s unwanted flashbacks of his parents murder, unwanted ties to the emotions of his nemesis, his struggles to block Voldemorts access to his thoughts.

After Voldemort ‘kills’ Harry, Harry is left in a kind of limbo, where Voldemort’s flailed, whimpering and fragmented soul lies whimpering under a bench in a train station. I think that must be what my father’s soul looks like, with so many pieces broken off and rotted by his horrific actions. Like Voldemort, I don’t think my father will invoke remorse to heal himself before he dies.

Unlike Harry, I can find where my father’s soul is still clinging to mine. My soul, like Harry’s was always whole and untouched, through abuse and ridicule from school-mates who compounded the problem by teasing me for being damaged, being different, and through betrayal by my mother, who chose to comply with evil rather than save me and herself.

Perhaps with this last passionate tie to him gone, my soul and my father’s can part ways, and he can die at last.

Sharpening the Sword to Dance on My Abusers Grave

A woman's sword

So I now have the sword I’m going to use to dance on my fathers grave, when he will do me and the world the favour of finally succumbing to cancer. It’s a tai chi sword, with a kind of feminine, watery feel to it, with a wooden handle and a red cord to hang it by.

It’s meant to represent my inner iron, my strength and will and intellect, all my power that I’ve used throughout my life to fight my smart, brutal, dominant, creative father. The fact I haven’t seen him in over 20 years, doesn’t mean I don’t fight him regularly. Continue reading Sharpening the Sword to Dance on My Abusers Grave

Numbness

When I was about 20 years old I realized how numb I was all the time. I remember concentrating really hard, but being unable to feel anything in my foot. No sensation of cold or warmth, only a faint sensation if my skin was touched,  and literally no proprioception, no awareness of where my foot was unless I was looking at it. The same was true of most parts of my body.

I spent a long time learning to be grounded, which in my faith tradition is pretty important. We spend the first few minutes of any religious ceremony in meditation to connect ourselves with the sensations and energy flow of our body, something I was at first unable to do.

Now, 20 years later, I’m typing this with cold hands, typinghandssomething I’m easily able to ignore from lots of practice ignoring discomfort, but at least I know where my hands are and how they feel without looking at them or touching them.

Not all of my body is completely reclaimed. I still have a hard time feeling anything in the sexually designated parts of my body, which makes for lovemaking where the ‘foreplay’ activities of stroking and touching the ‘not usually seen as sexual’ parts of my body is particularly important. Most times I’m just grateful I can have sex at all, and with someone I love and who loves me to boot. However, although I’m a good ‘active’ lover according to reviews, I’m probably quite boring to make love to, since I have to be still and concentrate so hard to feel anything at all.

I understand where ‘stone butches’ come from – women who get their pleasure from making love to another woman and won’t permit themselves to be made love to. If you can’t feel anything, making someone else happy is much more interesting.

Dancing on my father’s grave won’t win me back my body. That’s something I have to do for myself.  However, it makes sense to me to renounce him in such a physical way, to use the tool he tried to steal from me to defeat him.

Bloggy Award

The Prestigious Bloggy Award
The Prestigious Bloggy Award

I received an email today letting me know I’d won a bloggy award from butterfly of Reasons You Shouldn’t Fuck Kids. Butterfly said “I’ve awarded you the superior scribbler award, because I love this blog. Thank you for writing it.”

I recommend her blog as well – it’s sword-sharp about the reality of living with the effects of being sexually abused as a child, in a very satisfying and heartening (to me) way. I’m all about breaking the silence and taboos around the rape and sexual abuse of children. It’s the rapists shame, not ours.

Anyhow, since the bloggy is kind of a chain letter award, I’m honour bound to pass it on to five other blogs and to post the following rules:

1) Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends (see below).
2) Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award (see above).
3) Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4) Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List.
5) Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.