I check my Stat Counter and my Google stats frequently to see what subject matter I os most interest to my readers. This week it was ‘mothers’. It called up a myriad of emotions. I have what I call PM and AM time in my mind. The PM time refers to Pre-molestation and the AM is After-molestation time. There is such a sharp contrast between the two time periods that there can be no doubt that something ugly happened in our household when I was thirteen.
One of my earliest memories is of my mother rocking me as I sat curled up in her lap, saying, “What am I going to do when my baby grows up?” What a sentiment, full of love and responsibility and caring, right? We fast-forward to when I was eighteen. I make a plea for my parents to allow me some kind of freedom. My mother tells my father to get the belt. He begins beating me. I’m 5 ft. 6in. and I weigh 86 pounds. I hold my hand in front of my face to protect it. I see spurts of blood as they fly across the living room. I hear my mother saying repeatedly, “Hit her again! Hit her again!” I see my nineteen year old brother come out of his bedroom, grab the belt and scream, “Dad, you’re killing her. Stop it!” I see my dad slug my brother who goes flying across the room, hits the wall and passes out before my father turns his attention back to me. I pass out. A week later, I throw a few possessions in a pillow sack and run. The physical wounds healed. The emotional scars stayed forever.
How can one human go from a place of love to a place of hate? What lay behind all of this? My mother’s motto in reference to my father was always, “Even when he’s wrong, he’s right.” She wasn’t being sarcastic. She lived and died by that rule.
I get hundreds of emails every month telling me the story of someone’s abuse. Each one puts a bruise on my heart. So many people have gone through so much that at times I feel like we will never get a handle on child abuse. It has to get better. With all of the non-profit organizations, with all the therapists, with all of the websites dedicated to this cause, you’d think there’d be a break through soon. I have three daughters and one son. Each time I delivered one of my children the joy in my heart was so huge that I couldn’t stop crying. I loved each one of them more than they will ever know. I still love them even though they are now adults. Yet, my two oldest were sexually abused by my second husband and my youngest daughter was raped at gunpoint when she was seventeen. My son, ironically, was an officer on the LAPD for fifteen years.
Why”? How could I go through rape by my father when I was thirteen followed by years of mental, physical, emotional and more sexual abuse and yet fail to protect my own children? Part of it is that I didn’t find out about what my second husband did until I was half way through recovery and they were already grown. That’s not all of it. Children of an untreated childhood sexual abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being sexually abused themselves. I didn’t realize until I completed recovery that I was inadvertently sending incorrect signals to my daughters. In my thirties, I dated too much. I tried to fill my empty heart with more and more sex with more and more men. I always chose men who were abusive. I can remember a set of rules I had. If they didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and weren’t highly sexed I didn’t want them. My daughters, whether they knew it or not, watched my every move and inadvertently imitated me. Today, they are all happily married. There was a time when that wasn’t so. They’ve all chosen at least one abusive male as a mate. By the time I finished my recovery, two of them had left their abusers and one would do so a few years later, after she too got into recovery. You can make an impact on your children’s lives just by getting healthy yourself. Kids aren’t stupid. They see everything and they don’t always have the maturity to know right from wrong.
Sexual abuse was not a part of my mother’s growing up years. She had parents who adored her and filled her with love. She was a product of her generation when that motto she lived by was the norm, not an exception. A patriarchal family is a set up. That’s what my family life was like: no opinions of your own were allowed, only the opinions of the patriarch, obedience was the strongest rule in the family, revering the patriarch was the nuts and bolts of their philosophy.
If you had a loving mother and especially two loving parents, you are one of the fortunate ones. I asked my family doctor once how many families were dysfunctional. His response, “They’re all dysfunctional”, didn’t set my heart at ease. I have no idea what it is like to have a loving mother (at least after I turned thirteen). Over the years, I adopted older women as my substitute mothers. They partially filled the gaping hole in my heart.
If you didn’t have a loving mother try to be pragmatic, even though I know it would be difficult. You can’t do anything about it now. Dwelling on it won’t change the way things were. There are so many people in the world who can love you. Maybe you had a loving father, a loving grandfather (I would have taken a bullet for my maternal grandparents), siblings you were close to, friends you grew up with, a cousin, an aunt or other family members. Concentrate on them. If your mother was (and maybe still is) abusive, you don’t want her in your life anyway. Most importantly, you want to set the right example for your children. Choose your mate wisely. If you suffered sexual abuse as a child and have never gone through recovery, start doing so now. Get a copy of REPAIR Your Life and start working that program. See if there is a Lamplighter Movement chapter near you. You might consider starting one yourself. Find a 12-step program, especially CoDependents Anonymous and begin going to their meetings. Give it six meetings minimum. Something magical happens by then. You realize you are in the right place.
Get started. You have a big job in front of you. You are going to do this for your children even if you don’t have any yet. If you had an abusive mother, you are not going to let her ruin your life. You owe it to yourself to get REPAIRed.
Good luck and email me if you want to talk. I’m here to help you.
(There will be no blog for the next two weeks. Thank you to all of my readers for taking time out of your busy day to read my words.)