The Pretense of “Both Sides” When You’re The One Being Abused

When I was 9 years old I broke down crying and confessed to my sister how much my older brother had been abusing me on a daily basis since she went away, she said to me “C’mon Caden, I’ve seen you punch Jake before, I know you can do it…” So her solution was to shame, tell me that it was my fault when all along I could just punch him and he would stop. I wonder today, would she also suggest that if I just punched my parents or the members of their pedophile ring, the rest of the abuse would have ended too? But those rare times when I would try to really retaliate against my brother (though not with fists because I couldn’t hurt him that way), there was no support from her or anyone else, and there was no one there to protect me when inevitably it only made the physical, sexual, and emotional torture even worse. But I see today that the illusion of my childhood power was very valuable to them in making me feel powerless and blaming it all on me, using whatever real or imaginary revenge actions I had carried out as ‘evidence’ for how my bigger, stronger and malicious older brother was actually not really at fault, but ‘both sides’ were.

When my mother was leaving me alone with my brother yet again she would always make throwaway comments to both of us like ‘no fighting,’ drilling into me the idea that the abuse was also my fault. Simply by being abused I could be accused of ‘fighting’ and disobeying her orders. How I could not ‘fight’ was to hide on the bathroom floor or out in the woods all day in the summer, on weekends or days after school, and if I was lucky, he wouldn’t come find me anyway. When my parents left us alone to go on their private vacations my mother would say I could call them if there was any trouble. Yet when I dialed the number to tell them about what he was doing to me, they ignored my messages. My brother invited kids who bullied me at school to his big, raucous parties, and allowed his friends to play sadistic sexual games with my body and rape me. I was never left at peace in my own home, but to the very bitter end all I heard from my parents was the same tired phrases and lies, ‘no fighting’ ‘stay out of his room and he’ll stay out of yours,’ ‘he wouldn’t do that!’ ‘you’re always making up stories,’ ‘you’re just too sensitive…’

My childhood was one long series of abandonments. some I was able to numb myself to, while others such as this one blared in my face and made it impossible not to recognize what the whole truth of our family was. It makes me sick to see that lines like “as a parent you can’t protect him forever…” are so often used as an excuse for parents of young boys to neglect their responsibility to protect during the crucial but short years of childhood, which doesn’t even come close to “forever.” Being protected and nurtured in early life does make for healthier, more resilient and well-adjusted adults in the long run, while abandonment does not. I know that my childhood home should not have been ruled over by some ‘law of the jungle’ where I had to win my right to exist via violence, and nor should my elementary school have been that way either. If as is so often the case, a boy is bullied and beaten at school but the only solution offered is not to call the police, the school principal, or start anti-bullying programs but to “teach the boy how to fight!” then the cycle of violence is being perpetuated, not broken.

It is not anyone’s place to make the extremely insulting claim that I didn’t resist the abuse to my full capacity as a child, because I most certainly did. I was never empowered by ridiculous stereotypes about what my physical strength should be, which is of course completely irrelevant when it comes to abuse and the legacy of disempowerment that it brings. I know that boys are not at a lower risk for physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, but that our vulnerability is systematically denied and we are subject to sick stereotypes about “needing” more physical punishment and most often left on our own. I know that ultimately I wasn’t interested in fighting with my brother or punching people, I just wanted and fully deserved a safe and comfortable home environment ruled by mutual respect. But my abusive parents destroyed any chance for that, and they were able to do it because as a child I was not capable of fixing the entire situation on my own.

The facade of impartiality they adopted in response to my brother abusing me was of course very shallow in the end. They took his stories (about how yes, he assaulted me and though I was the only one bruised or with my bedroom door torn down, it was really my fault because I made him do it) as the final word without even asking me, and always viewed me as a burden for having complaints. The truth is there are two sides between the abuser and the abused, but the ‘side’ of the abuser is so petty and repulsive that it doesn’t bear sympathy. My brother’s side was that he hated me for just existing, and supposedly ‘being’ the long list of insults he regularly threw at me. But the victimization and abuse only went one way. While he may still hate the ground I walk on and everything that I say/think, that is really irrelevant. He still doesn’t have a valid side when it comes to our relationship.

Listening to the advice of my family, that the abuse was normal and I should just ‘let it go’ would have left me eternally at the whim of my abusers. Giving them permission to wake up every day and decide whether they will continue abusing me or not, while I would have to wake up every day wondering if I will be abused again, and not able to voice that concern, that question because it could be seen as provocative. That is not a life I want to live, it is not a life at all. Sadly too many family therapists act like it is their job to enter into families with histories of abuse and level everything in order to be fair to both parties. But there is nothing fair about being abused, and you can never make it fair by edict long after the fact.

When does a relationship with a history of severe abuse driven by power and age differentials from childhood become a situation where both sides are equally at fault and equally responsible? Never, I would say. Survivors do not have an obligation to put aside our need for validation and our genuine feelings in favor of maintaining a sick status quo. There is no comparison between an adult rightfully not liking or trusting another adult as a result of past events, and the agony of a child being abused and crushed by someone bigger and stronger then themselves. Both sides is B.S. when people want to sit on the sidelines and apportion equal blame to victims.

Despite what abuse implies, the victim of violence is not less then their attacker, and violence is still a crime no matter what; it is not “fair” because the victim was unable to “win a fight” or said something that the other person didn’t like. I don’t wish there was someone around to teach me how to fight as a child, I wish we had a community that really took care of and protected children from violence. I wish that when my older sister went away to college, she reported our parents to the police instead of making these insensitive comments to me. I know that, sadly, children who desperately fight back against their abusive parents or older siblings and kill them in the process are rarely spared from lengthy, if not life-long prison sentences here in the United States. Child abuse is not about what the child should have done, it’s about what other people should do to protect children, but all to often don’t.

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Confronting The Double Standards In Emotionally Abusive Family Relationships

One early evening when I was 18 years old, I was trying to take a shower.  But my mother kept knocking on the bathroom door, calling out my name and saying something in a muffled voice. There were two bathrooms in the house and I was halfway through my fifteen minute shower, I didn’t know what she could possibly want. I kept asking “what?” while continuing my shower and she kept knocking on the door, saying “Caden?, Jake? [my brother's name,] and then coming back again. Eventually something rose up from inside of me, and I was screaming louder then I ever had in my life, asking over and over again, “What??” and eventually she went away. Many times when I was a child there was someone on the other side of that bathroom door banging and shouting at me as they gradually broke it down or picked the lock to attack me; I was sexually assaulted in that shower multiple times, making it difficult enough to be in there without one of my abusers interfering. But at the time I didn’t know where that outburst had come from, I was confused, and when I dressed and opened the door, I was going to apologize to my parents and explain that I was just stressed out and tired.

Yet the moment I emerged my mother and father started screaming at me in unison, “Who do you think you’re talking to, how dare you, if you ever speak to me in that tone again…” So I just went back to my room, and forgot about apologizing to those miserable, hateful people. It was like trying to talk to a barking machine that would just start making automatic, repetitive noises whenever it detected a speaking voice. There was nothing I could say to them, I wasn’t allowed to have feelings, or bad days, or even just casually talk to them. My parents created a deeply abusive relationship with me, where I always felt at fault, but there was no supplication available. My apologies were never accepted, acknowledged, or deemed relevant to the issue at hand–they could never stop the rejection, the silence, the turning away and the judgments they used my behavior to reaffirm until the next round of raging and shaming would begin. My mother later claimed “I just wasn’t sure if you or Jake was in the shower” which is not a very compelling reason to make a scene and blame it on me when she could have waited.

Yet in my family, my older siblings and parents always acted like they could emotionally abuse me one second and then impose themselves upon me the next; like the moment we left each others eyesight, whatever they had done or said to me vanished, and they expected me to be nice, civil, to never ask for an apology or for problems to actually be brought up and worked out. They freely took out their bad days, moods, and hangovers on me. I never received an apology from my parents, but it was made very clear that what I did and said in our family would not evaporate, I experienced many sudden silent treatments and creeping emotional punishments that taught me I was on the losing side of the double standard in our relationship. If I didn’t aggressively self-censor myself and let everything that they did slide, it seemed like the world would come to an end.

But today I don’t believe in letting significant hurtful remarks and actions ‘slide,’ because I know at the end of the slide is a dark pit of indifference and the same old thing. It’s very common for people to describe “not blaming” our families as being “the bigger person,” but I don’t agree. When someone has hurt you, or more widely destroyed your life via abuse or neglect while others were abusing you, holding them responsible for their actions is a good thing, and it doesn’t make us small or somehow less then others. Not holding family members responsible for how they’ve treated you, and thus accepting that abusive, neglectful treatment without ever demanding accountability, apologies and substantive change doesn’t make you a bigger or better person. I don’t give my sensitivity, kindness, and energy away to people who abuse me anymore, I recognize that the world is not black and white, and I don’t have to treat everyone the same exact way in order to define myself as a good person.

Of course as the youngest in my family, my parents and siblings were the ‘bigger’ people in the relationship, but bigness did not mean they were right, correct, or kind. My parents and older siblings towered over a child and reacted in the most petty, cruel, and hateful way to millions of minor things. Once when I brought up to my sister during our final months of relationship how something demeaning that she had just said to me was part of a pattern for how she responded my whole life, she gave me this patronizing look and said “geez, you’re holding all this anger inside you about the past!” What that means is that she felt entitled to complete absolution and had no obligation to apologize for what she had done to me and make a complete break with that treatment. Everything that she had done was now supposed to be “the past” a vague, murky area that so many agree needs to be shunned and deleted. But every moment of a relationship is suffused by it’s entire history, and what bad times there were, and whether they were ultimately resolved, or in this case, not.

I recall how my family never forgot a story about me that they could mock, scorn, and ridicule; my mother would tell her twisted versions of the same humiliating, insulting, lie-filled stories of my life over and over again. But of course they “didn’t remember” any of the sexual or physical abuse, and if I brought up the emotional abuse, even what they just said five minutes previous, the wall of denial put up was insurmountable. My sister had a very good memory for ridiculing me too, but times and events where she had greatly hurt me always conveniently drew a blank. But we aren’t wrong for being bothered by horrible things that were said and done to us, no matter when they happened, and it isn’t unreasonable to bring these things up and ask for them to be justly worked through. It isn’t wrong to bring things forward, to confront the architects of our childhood and demand a response.

There are many people we meet in life who when we try to set a boundary–to assert ourselves, say no, or that something they said or did made us uncomfortable and we don’t want it to happen again–will immediately walk away. They often portray us as being so volatile, difficult, and unpredictable that we aren’t worth coming around anymore because we could just blow up at them at any time. My older sister acted like this, to her our relationship could only be one where she could say or do whatever she liked without worrying about my feelings or how it affected me, and if I didn’t like it then I shouldn’t talk to her. In her view, I was responsible for her emotional abuse because I spoke to her at all. She also felt that because she thought she was correct about a topic of discussion (she often wasn’t) that that gave her a right to insult me as much as she wanted or could. But that isn’t true at all, and this sick, unequal relationship where I was treated like dirt was a model that she invented, and was constantly trying to reinforce despite my resistance.

Of course, I was once one of those people that instantly walked away myself. I’ve read that brains which were not damaged by abuse in early childhood development will release serotonin in response to social rejection, while damaged ones do not. I can see why it would wind up that way for me, because not only did I experience multiple traumas and decades of emotional abuse, when I was rejected at home, it was total-person rejection. Thus I was in no place to accept constructive criticism or rejection. Whenever someone had a problem with me, I instantly took it as a ‘piling on’ to all the trauma I had faced and that it was more evidence that my family was right about me. If I made a mistake, it wasn’t because the world is made up of many different people with individual perspectives, needs and boundaries in their relationships, it was because I was ‘always wrong’ and shouldn’t be around other people at all.

But as I’ve been healing and gaining more of a sense of myself, I see that it really isn’t too much to deal with other people’s boundaries, and nor is it for them to deal with mine. Despite what I was told in childhood, I’m not impossibly difficult, I’m not unreasonable; I’m not someone who can only expect tolerance at best. I’m someone who was traumatized for a long time, but I do have a right to expect mutual and healthy relationships with others and myself too. And just as importantly, I’m capable of maintaining them as well.   My first relationships in life are long since over and they are not the model I seek to replicate today nor do they predict what my future relationships will be like. 

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I Don’t Need Time Travel To Establish My Worth

The past several months have been very intense and painful for me due to the healing work that my process has provoked all throughout the holidays, my birthday and then hitting the one year anniversary of confronting my abusive ex-family. It’s brought a lot of changes for my life that I’m still exploring today, and a lot of newly uncovered memories that if they weren’t true wouldn’t be changing my life for the better. Up until just recently, my mind still strayed back to critical points in my young life–particularly when I was 16-19 years old, and imagining scenarios in which I could drastically change things and break free from my abusive family much earlier. This imagination-fueled yearning was something I experienced not because I had never heard the statement “you can’t change the past” that is pasted over a thousand different facebook memes. Pat phrases like that rarely have the ability to touch deeply into complex trauma even when we all nod our heads in agreement.

I’m very glad I wrote those letters confronting my family of origin last year and every specific thing I wrote in them at the time was such an important part of my process, and I regret nothing about them. But there are many things I couldn’t say at the time, things I wasn’t ready to face. Particularly to my older brother, who took the skills for grooming and manipulation that he learned from our mother and added in his own monstrous sociopathic talent. He left me second guessing myself for the longest time, hurtling back and forth between different emotions–while he was still in my life it was whether I liked or hated him. But in more recent years I’ve felt some internal push to see him as more of a fellow victim when in fact no, he was one of my main abusers. I know that regardless of the fact that we were abused by the same people, he targeted me in a malicious, personal way for a very long time and all I need putting him into context is to listen to my own emotions, not imagine what the outside world might think.

A few weeks ago I had a dream where I was back at college. I dreaded going home, because I knew that when I did my older brother would rape me again. I wanted badly to tell a friend of mine who worked as a waitress at a restaurant downtown. While I ate my lunch she kept hovering around my table, sometimes sitting down for a minute; I so badly wanted to tell her what was bothering me, but it was difficult to say and as I tried she just rolled her eyes, handed me my bill and walked away. I went to the counseling center on campus, and they told me I would be seen, but then just left me in the waiting room for hours until I knocked on the door and found that no one was there. I woke up in a flashback, almost hyperventilating and thinking up all these schemes as to how I could escape, all on my own of course because there was no help and I was gagged.

Of course I never went back home after going away to college, I never saw my parents again and only had one encounter with my brother that lasted a few seconds. But I still lived with that entirely unconscious fear and with the consequences of what he did to me. Because even when I was 18 or 19 and living at home, my brother still sexually abused me whenever he wanted to. I remember him coming into my bedroom, and turning the vacuum on to muffle the noise while he forced me. He had trained me over many years to go along with whatever he did to me, and of course I made myself forget immediately afterwards. He couldn’t care less just how much he was taking from me or how long the consequences would last.

I realized a few weeks ago that in my fantasies about changing the past my focus has always been on my own actions, and what I did. But as a teenager living at home in the clutches of my abusive family, was I really in control of my life and it’s circumstances? I see now that if my mind strays into that territory, why don’t I think of what they could have done differently? What if they didn’t yell at and mock me, what if they didn’t sexually abuse me, even at that age? If I’m focusing entirely on my reaction to that abuse, and wishing it to be different in ultimately impossible ways, then I’m not holding them responsible for their actions, but still seeing it all as my fault. What I see is at the time people had power over me which they freely exerted while I had none over them. Whether it is the power of my brother’s violence, my parents financial sway or my older sister’s hypercritical mind-control, the differential was absolutely still there, and while I couldn’t change the way I reacted all by myself, I see that it would have been much easier for them to stop doing abusive things to me.

I remember telling my older sister that I had been trying so hard to leave home, while she screeched back “You didn’t try hard enough!!” Her condescending attack was not cognizant of reality, or my reality. In one of our conversations that same year I mentioned how my brother was drinking beer at home all the time, just like our mother. “I’m sure his life is really hard! I think he’s doing everything he can, but I don’t think you are…” she said to me, using my comment as a jumping point to launch into a long hypercritical diatribe. Of course in our sick little family, helmed by alcoholics, there was nothing wrong with drinking and traumatizing other people while drunk, but my sister was sure that I deserved to be personally attacked for speaking scornfully about it. She tried the same thing when I correctly labeled our grandmother as an alcoholic. But it was without a doubt to her that my brother working in construction, getting drunk and raping me all the time was great, while my going to college full time, not drinking or abusing anyone was not. It reminds me of my mother exclaiming to me years later “how dare you judge your brother!” These words were toxic and they hit me hard. They told me that my abuser was worth defending, while I was not.

But I couldn’t care less about how “hard” his life was, and I deserve to feel the way I do and did about him. When he continuously moved in and out of our parents house, he resumed abusing me and harming my psychological health in a profound way. It didn’t depend on what job he was working at the time or what controlled substances he was binging on, though he liked to take out his anger for his own life circumstances on me. As the youngest in the family and the scapegoat, it was always made clear to me that I was responsible for their life outcomes and their emotions, while they were never responsible for mine; when the reality of course was the opposite. My brother’s sexual abuse didn’t end when we were children, it didn’t end when he got a girlfriend, it didn’t end when I turned 18. Like with my mother, it only really ended when I left home and he could no longer treat my body as a quick way to get off.

For a long time, I did not think of what the people who actually made the deciding moves in my life back then could have done differently. And I know certainly that my family didn’t think that way about themselves either; by putting it all on myself, I was agreeing with them that I “should have” made changes which frankly would have to have been supernatural even without my conceiving of time travel to achieve them today. If anything, my parents thought that if they had been more abusive then they would have achieved their aims, i.e. goals and end-points which were not what I wanted or who I am.  I know my mother was fond of beginning sentences with “IF ONLY you had….” But of course she didn’t apply these to herself, she didn’t think “If only I hadn’t sexually abused my sons,” my brother didn’t think “If only I hadn’t pinned Caden’s arm behind his back and fucked him…”

Understanding that I was still being abused, that I still had to dissociate and repress things that were happening in my day-to-day life has destroyed any idealizations I was harboring for my life and it’s possibilities in those times-gone.   Yet with that my feeling of loss has actually managed to lessen.  Even as I’m horrified that my brother abused me at a later age, this truth has also opened up new space for me to breathe. My self-blame has been chiseled further away.  I know that I never really understood what terms like self-love and self-validation meant until I experienced them, and that’s o.k. That fact is one of the many reasons why I don’t believe in moralizing or putting certain words on a pedestal as if they can heal all on their own. In my life I did the only thing I could have done to protect myself, which was leave, and I did it as soon as I could. So even if time travel existed, I would still have been as powerless and powerful as I was and am, then and today.

But I’m good enough even if I didn’t succeed or realize my social, romantic or professional goals as a teenager or twenty-something; I’m good enough if all I did was survive those painful years and get away with as much of myself as possible.  I’m good enough even if my ex-family doesn’t agree. Despite my mother’s admonitions, today I am proud to be a daring person, I do dare to speak out, to confront and put the blame where it truly belongs. I dare to change, to enter new territory inside myself and become even more unlike the people I’ve left behind.

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I Was A Trafficked Boy

I remember a day when I was seven years old, where I sat in my bedroom chair in front of my parents; my mother was grabbing my shoulders and shaking me hard as she shouted in my face.  I had “dared” to talk back to one of their clients, told him to go away, and though I obviously couldn’t stop him, he made a point of telling my parents.  They had taught me to be respectful, “coy” “seductive” (it makes me sick to say that, the word they used) to the people who paid them to sexually abuse me, and they beat and raped me themselves to pound this lesson back in that day.  I was often shocked by the depths of their self-righteous cruelty, their indifference to my suffering in later years, but now I see just how far it really went.  This particular client, an old obese pedophile did come back, showing up in my bedroom often at random–my parents didn’t bother scheduling with me beforehand.   He liked to perform many cruel, sadistic acts such as squeezing my chest so hard while he was raping me that I passed out–perhaps also due to the drugs I was frequently given.

After I remembered this last month I was plagued by nightmares, where he would show up randomly, naked in the rooms of a house I was running through; he would have knives in hand to attack me with, while I would try to fend him off with something like a spatula.  I had no real defenses in the dream, just like when I was a child, and these rooms I ran through were filled with other people who also did nothing.  Somewhere between the nightmares and the flashbacks that day, the full reality of it dawned upon me quicker and deeper then ever before: that this was my life.

On many days the kitchen of our house would be full of strange people, and I would have to go out there and sit on their laps while they chose between me or my brother.  I remember many  times creepy women came over to our house for dinner, wearing heavy perfume and makeup.  After the meal was over, they would follow me back into my bedroom and rape me.  I was trafficked as a child, and it wasn’t really that big of a secret.  In fact when I was 12 years old, towards the end of my desirability to  my parent’s pedophile ring, my abusive boyfriend found out what was going on.  But he didn’t help me, instead he tried acting as a pimp himself.    I remember us hanging around the bathrooms of dodgy pizzerias or bowling alleys where he tried to find potential clients to make him some money.  Though I fought hard to rebel against the life my parents made for me in the coming years, thankfully he left my life on his own and I was never sold as a teenager.

I know that my story isn’t really that uncommon.  A recent study showed that 50% of the children being trafficked here in the United States are boys.  And women were not only very well-represented in my parent’s pedophile ring, I know that they also make up a very large percentage of those exploiting street boys and raping boys caught up in the juvenile justice system.  It is unfortunate that we don’t see this reality reflected often or at all, but instead a narrative where trafficking is a “women’s issue” where all the victims are female and the perpetrators male.  That is not the case in this country or otherwise, and having survived these things and being male, it is very alienating and invalidating to see these issues presented that way, primarily by advocates who are not even survivors themselves.  And so are the double standards, the people who blame male victims and accuse us of wanting it, of being able to leave, saying we were “deviants,” “perverts,” “delinquents,”  apparently worse then the pedophiles exploiting us.  And when a standard is put forth where horrific stories of abuse are told giving unconditional amnesty to every woman involved no matter what role she played or crimes she committed, it creates environments where female abusers will be more welcome then male survivors.

Shortly after my grandmother died, I overheard my mother talking in a hushed voice  about how she had been trafficked as a child by grandmother: “it was nothing like what we do to the boys!” she insisted in an angry, derisive tone.  I heard this theme from her over and over again throughout my life; where my emotions were belittled or brushed aside because of my gender.   My mother was a deeply sexist, child-hating hypocrite who felt entitled to put her own pain and her own worth above the innocent, vulnerable young boys that she was abusing.   But her criminal abuse has no justification; the fact that she chose to turn her hatred upon her own children while worshipping the image of her abusive single mother is despicable.  There is no comparing pain or measuring trauma objectively, so my mother did not have it ‘worse’ then I did, and nor did she give me a ‘better’ childhood.   I don’t split hairs; better would have meant no trafficking at all, no sexual abuse, no physical or emotional abuse, and no alcoholism.  If there is still abuse, then the parenting is still abusive; it’s that simple.  Abusive parents should not expect their children to (impossibly) live in the context of the parent’s lives.

Seemingly just because they could, my parents sold my body to pedophiles and child pornographers for money; money that they also kept for themselves, money that I never saw, was not thanked for and which did not mean I had adequate clothing, school supplies or was allowed to ask for things I needed without being verbally abused and shamed in response.   My mother self-righteously believed that as a child I was less then nothing; that I was a greedy, irresponsible ‘thing’ that needed to be beaten, yelled at, worked and “kept in line,” that I deserved nothing.  And this view of me never changed; as I became a young adult and went to college, nothing I did was ever enough, and she vented her endless jealousy and resentment upon me for supposedly having a ‘better life’ then she did.

My mother, the master manipulator, was fond of hatefully spitting out the words “he never worked a day in his life!” when talking about me while I was in my late teens.  But yes, actually I did work; child pornography and child sex slavery are work; in fact they are such taxing and difficult forms of work that they have left me with life-long consequences and absolutely no control and no rights for how the pictures/videos taken of me are used today.  But beyond this being a sick lie, there is the fact that I don’t agree with what she said on a much deeper level.  I don’t believe in child labor, and I don’t believe that children are less valuable then working adults, I don’t believe they deserve less respect, value, or worth.  I don’t want other people to live through what I did, and when I hear of children having significantly better childhoods then I (for instance involving no violence or emotional abuse, but respect, love, and autonomy) then I think that’s great, and I want everyone to have that.  That’s what makes me different, and indeed better then my mother.

Of course, studying itself is work, is an investment and also deserving of respect, not derision.  I did not deserve to be emotionally abused or have my decisions disrespected when I said that; “I’m attending college full time right now, and that is what I’m doing.”   It happens to be the case that having post-traumatic stress disorder and a whole host of other conditions as a result of my childhood left me so disabled that I desperately needed my time outside of class to heal.  And even when I was in such a crisis that I needed to take time off from school, that still didn’t make me less valuable of a person then my parents, people who should have been in jail and who used children as slaves for their own profit.  Today I know that it was insane for my “family” to act like they were the victims of a “deadbeat son.”  This pathetic reversal of reality of course was meant to make sure that I would always feel like a failure even when I hadn’t failed at all.   But I feel no shame today for having been a disabled young adult, since after all I ended up like that through no choice of my own, but through the actions of people like my mother.  I’m now proud of having resisted her insane demands and for doing what I needed and most of all what I personally was capable of doing at the time.  My value and worth as a person is not defined by what work I can do or money I can make.

But much of the language that my mother used against me during that time of my life is in fact completely in line with negative societal stereotypes and forms of emotional abuse that are often targeted at young males.  During this time other people also felt entitled to insult me when they heard barely a fraction of my story.  Society is uninterested in the emotional lives of young men, in the fact that we frequently are survivors of all sorts of traumatic child abuse and also need validation and space to heal.  Homeless male children and young adults are most often given labels such as “aggressive” or “lazy” (despite the endless, 24/7 work that being homeless necessitates) to imply their state is all the fault of their “attitude,” and thus that their parents and the society that threw them onto the streets is not to blame; but the people walking on the sidewalks to and from their comfy homes are the real victims because they have to see the destitute living exposed out there.  People act like it’s legitimate to pour endless amounts of shame and derision on young men for not being 100% independent, regardless of the economic conditions and their personal history.  This emotional abuse as well as the hidden histories behind it are undoubtedly an enormous contributing factor to the epidemic of suicide amongst young men.

The truth is it was very hard for me to escape from my mother’s house, life, and most of all the legacy of having been a “child prostitute.” All of the things I was groomed to do as a child, all of the messages I received were twisted and of no practical value as I moved into adulthood.   Yet shedding them and an incestuous parent who alternately wanted you as a dependant possession and to sell you for her enjoyment is anything but easy.  My former pimp wanted to continue to control, judge, intrude upon me and put me down every chance she got, and I probably would have died if I didn’t do whatever I could to find a life outside of her.   I don’t tolerate in my present life anyone who thinks they have a right to judge me and what I had to do to escape that life, least of all any of my old family who still might see her as a victim when she is anything but.  I don’t feel bad for taking time to heal today either, I’m not comparing myself with anyone else anymore, let alone the person I might have been right now if I had a childhood filled with real love.  Loving myself today means putting aside those comparisons and learning to live openly within my own context and story.

It seems very plain to me that helping males see themselves as survivors, validating and including their experiences as being abuse, and not somehow less or less worthy of being mentioned and talked about and dealt with then the abuse that females experience can only have a positive effect on the world.   That means putting aside all of the shaming labels and recognizing the reality of the trauma that makes us what we are.  You’re not going to stop abuse by ignoring 50% of the abuse that’s going on (it’s the same thing with military rape, where half the victims are male but many so-called advocates pretend it’s only something women go through) or by perpetuating myths and stereotypes about gender.   Nor are male victims served by being hidden away in phrases like “women and children,” as if women are never the abusers, the exploiters of said children, and as if males, having been abused/exploited their entire childhood gain some magical invulnerability to the cycle once they come of age and gain a different label that apparently makes it ok to kill, ignore, and write us off wholesale.   But no, we are the same people throughout our lives, and coming of age shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to no longer offer services or allow societal stereotypes to kick in.

Healing from an abusive childhood is often a lifelong process, and when people aren’t given any space to heal, any validation that what they went through is wrong, they will often repeat the cycle rather then break it.   Males are not less deserving of the human right to housing then females, we are not less exploited by trafficking or pornography, we are not less effected by rape, incest, or other kinds of abuse then females are.  And while vocal male survivors are not as plentiful, actual male survivors are not a minority.  There are many aspects to my personal story, and trafficking is just one of them, but I know that whenever I come across a description that purports to talk about the whole problem while ignoring experiences like mine, that I’m reading something wrong.   Personally, I was abused by both men and women, underage boys and girls, and I don’t stereotype on that basis.  I prefer a mixed community of survivors that includes people of all different sexes and genders, I’m drawn to people with similar healing paths and journeys, that may intersect on different levels.   At my heart I am a human being and I care about that more then polemics, but I do exist.

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Generational Financial Abuse: Theft, Ageism and The Lie of “Independance”

In my first semester of college while living at home I received a federal grant check from student aid,  and my mother stole it from me.  My parents banged on my door repeatedly that night while I was sleeping, ordering me to come out and “bring the check!”  In the living room, they wore me down verbally until I handed it over.  My mother claimed she wanted to “spend it for my education,” but really it wound up in the black hole of her personal account.  I overheard her exclaim to my older sister in a voice full of indignant, condescending hatred, “I’m not giving him two thousand dollars!”  When no, refraining from illegally opening someone’s mail or stealing their checks is not a “gift” and my return, awarded to me for my studies and partly a forward on money I was borrowing to pay my tuition was not hers to take or give.   Every time I asked her to sign the money over into my account, she would scream at me a series of insulting lies for why it “wasn’t allowed by the financial aid department.”

But despite her confiscation of these funds, my mother harassed me endlessly each time a new term started and I needed textbooks.  She would write a blank check for me, demand to see the receipt and harangue me for how much they cost every time, yelling at me that “your sister always tried to get used books!”  Of course I could never match up to the fantasies my mother had about my sister’s college experience.  But I did try to get used books, they were not always available, and still wound up being quite expensive because that is how the college textbook market works.   But she acted like it was her own money that was being spent, and treated me with disdain for spending even a penny of it.  Having been shamed my whole life for needing anything, it was dismaying to be an adult and shamed yet again just for needing textbooks in order to attend classes.

Then one day out of the blue she exclaimed “Why didn’t you go to the college and sell back your books at the end of the term??”  I was rendered speechless at the time, but it wasn’t a real question.  I had signed out of college two months before on account of the fact that I couldn’t manage to get through even a single class anymore due to my eating disorder, anxiety and flashbacks.  I had bigger things to deal with then those books (not all of which were worth selling back anyway–and some of the subjects I wasn’t even done studying,) but it’s very telling that she waited until after the buy-back day to bring this up, until it wouldn’t be a question, but a reproach.  She liked it that way, to criticize when it was already too late rather then encourage me; to feign upset as if it was her money and everything in the world should come first before my recovery, no exceptions allowed.  I realize today that it doesn’t really matter how much money she did or didn’t spend on me after the fact; that isn’t an apology and doesn’t make up for how she emotionally abused me about the stolen funds, from day one till the end.

Shortly before I moved out, when I had some money and bought a few supplements to support my fragile health, my mother said nothing to my face.  But as she walked down the hall one night she loudly proclaimed to my father “Caden’s n*gger-rich!” when she knew I would hear her.  Thus not only insulting me with her baseless, intrusive and hideously ignorant judgment, but an entire race of people.  But that was her m.o.   The fact is, that student aid money in my freshman year could have afforded me a level of independence–something that my mother most definitely did not want at that point, when I was very stable and pulling away from her.  She not only didn’t trust or respect me, she wanted to stay in control of my life, and partly for sexual reasons.  I remember how she continuously shouted at me about the colleges I wanted to transfer to being too far away, saying repeatedly “I want you to be near me or your sister!”  Why?  Neither of them ever emotionally supported me, but viewed me as a possession; and I know that I certainly didn’t need or want a verbally abusive woman around me at all times.  Of course my mother emotionally abused me about the college application fees too, and withheld when it really mattered, leaving me stuck.  I realize that my mother didn’t want me to be independent; but she wanted to have me around to shame me for not being independent, to be her scapegoat, her “failure.”

Sadly though I did wind up living near my sister a few years later.  My sister had money stolen from her by our mother as well, yet she chose to direct her anger at me and join in with my mother’s instinctual economic hatred.  Throughout my teen years I would visit her with money, and she would confiscate it immediately and shout, shame, and control me over every cent.  She insisted, by her words and actions that I was “greedy,” “wasteful,” “spoiled” “immature” “irresponsible” and fundamentally unworthy of any money I might have in my possession, regardless of the source.  She viewed me as such a non-person in fact that any money I had really still belonged to someone else, which is insane.  Today I wonder, what could I have done to cause this when my mother and sister began painting this picture of me ever since I was just a young child?  I never failed any great economic test when I was given money, but that didn’t matter because I was given this label far before I even knew what money was and their view never really changed.  It was a hatred of young people, and I would always be the youngest in their “family.”

The last time I saw my sister, I was already planning on ending our relationship and I wasn’t going very deep in our conversation.  But I mentioned that I had to take my ipod in to get fixed recently.  And I could see from the look on her face what wheels of criticism and disdain were churning in the background of her mind.  She held it in at that moment, but when I mentioned in an aside that I had been thinking about moving, her face lit up; she had found a pretext and burst out “If you’re going to be moving in a few months then you shouldn’t be buying ipods!”  I was dumbfounded that even now, when I was 100% independent from our parents, employed with my own source of income and finances, she still felt entitled to shame me and play these hypercritical mind-games about my money and how I spent it.  When she had jealously lashed out at me about “wasting [i.e. spending at all, on necessities like food or clothes] mom’s money!” and “taking so much from people who have so little!” for daring to have needs, wants, and getting even a small amount of them from our parents, I had imagined that one day I would earn her respect.  But that wasn’t true, abuse is abuse, and it was never justified, regardless of whether I was a child dependent on my parents or an independent adult, she had no right to say or do those things to me.

I knew how to budget my finances in order to afford a move (which I wasn’t actually planning at that point,) and the ipod was something I was suggested to get for work actually, to filter out noise; and I bought it months before this.   But I don’t have to justify or explain myself, I bought something with my discretionary income that I wanted, end of story.  Except in fact that was a very long story, where I was taught as a child to feel guilty about every little thing I wanted or had, for all of my needs.  So it was difficult to get things for myself that were quite easily within reach, like buying an mp3 player when I was twenty one years old or getting myself a complete wardrobe.   I’ve had to unlearn those messages today, and see that I did back then and do today deserve self-care.  I am worthy of spending money on myself, of having my necessities met and some really nice things as well.  I’ve done nothing for which to be condemned to a deprived life.  I ended my relationship with my sister a few days after this incident; because I did not deserve that sort of verbal abuse and was not going to put up with it from her any longer.

I know that many other young adults, children, teenagers who live with abusive parents have had their student aid or paychecks stolen as well, and this most definitely is financial abuse even though it is not the type of financial abuse that is often publicized and written about.  Living with our parents doesn’t entitle them to violate our rights any more then living with an abusive partner entitles them to abuse us.  And of course abusive romantic relationships begin when future adults are abused as children at home, by their parents.  In my next entry I plan to approach this subject from a different angle, because as a trafficked child, there is another way my parents financially abused me.

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Abusive Teachers and The Parents Who Enable Them; My 4th Grade Christmas Party

When I was eight years old my mother announced that she felt inspired to make special gifts for my brother and I to give to our teachers on the last day of school before Christmas.  I intentionally left mine at home, and yet during homeroom I looked up to see my older sister at the doorway.  She drove the gifts to school and told me “you forgot these!” as she put them into my backpack before leaving just as quickly.  She didn’t ask me if I had actually forgotten them or why, she felt entitled to tell me what I had done and then leave me stuck with them.  The problem is, my 4th grade teacher Mr. Kresge was verbally abusive and cruel.  Every time I came in with no homework, he would mock and rant at me in front of the class, asking “what song and dance do you have for me this time?” It’s true, I didn’t tell him about the late night pedophile orgies that went on at my house, I didn’t tell him that the moment I got home from school I would often be beaten or locked outside in the cold by my older brother; I didn’t tell him that I had just been abandoned by my older sister after she went away to college, leaving me alone in hell; I didn’t tell him about my alcoholic mother or how because of all of this I spent all of my free time dissociating and trying desperately to cope with the abuse.

Of course I couldn’t have told him that.  No, when he demanded a reason each day I said that I had forgotten it at home or lost it.  The fact is, I didn’t have the concentration, time or resources to do spelling homework.  And I couldn’t do any take-home projects for the same reason, and also because we had no supplies at home and I was deathly afraid of more abuse if I asked my parents to get me some.   But he didn’t care; my teacher liked to pick up my desk in front of the class and empty the entire contents onto the floor, then he would shout “Well, here’s the worksheet; and you said you left it at home!”  Other times he would do it when I had left the room because he said my desk was ‘too messy,’ and then he would wave around whatever personal items I had in there, offering them to the student who raised their hand first.

I was bullied severely in 4th grade, by a group of boys in my class who would spend every day at recess chasing me around and trying to beat me up.  One day the leader punched me in the stomach extremely hard as we were walking back into school.   In class I set my math textbook upright in front of my face, so no one would see me crying.  But Clarissa, a  girl in my class did and she told the teacher that Adam had punched me in the stomach and I needed to go the nurse .  In response he smirked and with a little laugh said “He doesn’t have to see the nurse!”  Mr. Kresge didn’t see it in his duties to write Adam up and send him to the principal either.  The next day the bully and his friends openly bragged about it, saying “I bet he was crying so loud last night they could hear him a block away!”  And they got away with all of it, because the biggest bully in our class was the teacher.

Mr. Kresge loved to reminisce by telling us sadistic stories of how he had humiliated students in the past.  Once he talked about a boy who was “acting like a baby all the time” and so instead of inquiring about what was going on at home or sending him to the guidance counselor, the teacher forced him to walk around school wearing a diaper all week, to punish and humiliate him, undoubtedly leaving lifetime scars.  Our school, detestably, still allowed corporal punishment so long as teachers gave students twenty-four hour notice before hitting them; which was apparently enough of a killjoy that it was rarely used.  However Mr. Kresge didn’t always give notice, he would have me stay after class sometimes while the other students were already in gym and the door was locked, and he would hit me.  I remember being backhanded by him so hard that I hit the floor and blacked out; and when I got up he told me “We can do this again tomorrow, and every day after that until you get the point.”  I hated my 4th grade teacher, he was a violent, cruel. irresponsible scumbag who shouldn’t have been allowed to work with children.  I hated his guts and dreaded going to school on account of him.

So on the day of our class Christmas party I tried to ignore the gift forced into my bag with his name on it, and just enjoy the day.  We had a drawing where we would each win a prize, meaning a little slip of paper with a ‘class privilege’ on it.  I honestly didn’t understand what mine meant, so I went and asked him, and he told me it was something much less exciting then what other students got (like ‘be the third person to stand up for the pledge of allegiance’.)  When I said ‘that’s lame’ under my breath as I started to walk away he stopped me in a rage, took it back and threw it in the trash.  Clarissa said she would trade with me if I didn’t like mine, but I had to tell her no, he had taken mine back.  Soon after that was the Secret Santa gift exchange.  Everyone was supposed to bring in a gift to place under the tree but I had been too afraid to ask my parents for something.   Yet I was also nervous and embarrassed about not having anything to share so I kept looking for a way out, thinking maybe I could just go to the bathroom when the gift exchange happened and no one would notice.  But then Mr. Kresge announced loudly in front of the whole class that anyone who didn’t bring in a gift should raise their hand immediately.  I didn’t want everyone to know, so I struggled and ultimately didn’t raise my hand.

I thought back on this so many times as a child, wondering what else I could do as the gifts were randomly handed out.  But in the moment I froze, and then gave in to wishful thinking that somehow it would go unnoticed and there would be enough gifts to go around anyway.  It was only a minute or two before a boy raised his hand to point out that he brought a gift but wasn’t given one.  The teacher yet again blared in front of everyone “Did anyone not bring in a gift?”   “I bet it was Caden!” a girl in class who hated me exclaimed.  I was filled with horror when afterwards the teacher made me admit in front of the whole class that I had brought nothing and repeat after him who the gift really belonged to and then hand it to the other boy.  My quest to not be humiliated or berated that day by my parents, by the teacher or other students thus failed entirely; I was more embarrassed and exposed then ever before.  And being exposed was one of the things I feared most in childhood.  I wanted very badly to escape the reality that I was abused; that people took off my clothes and made me do disgusting things with them.  I was desperate for dignity, and wanted a way of life that involved as much privacy as possible, so no one would know.

 But now they all did; I went into the bathroom until I could stop crying, and was avoided by other students for the rest of the day.  Yet there I had in my backpack an unwrapped gift (thus ineligible for being re-purposed towards the secret Santa even if I had access to such agency) and a card attached to it made out to my teacher thanking him for being such a great guy.  My mother knew that every year there was a secret santa in elementary school, but she didn’t think to get or make me something for it.  Likewise my mother and sister never asked if my teacher was nice, if he treated me well and created a safe, kind classroom environment.  They just treated the matter as if “he’s a teacher so he deserves respect and you SHOULD give him a gift no matter what!”  So at the end of the day after everyone else had left the now dark room, I reluctantly placed the gift on his desk.  He gave me back a little card with a phony thank you message on it after Christmas break was over, and of the course the abuse continued for the rest of the year.

I felt so ashamed of my behavior that day, and I certainly didn’t tell this story to my family when I got home or to anyone else, ever.  I know my parents wouldn’t have taken any responsibility, but instead shame me even more, tell me all the things I “should have done.”  Or they would have just implied like my teacher that I was some stupid, selfish greedy kid who “wanted something for nothing” and got what he deserved.  But I was eight years old, and I was the responsibility of these people who abused and taught me many dysfunctional and wrong messages that I couldn’t just magically shake off.  I know my mother had acted as if getting a present for the secret Santa at school was an onerous burden on her the year before, thus making it even scarier for me to bring it up.  And I know that in previous years my teachers organized the secret santa better; sending guidelines home to parents and making sure well before the gift exchange how many presents were under the tree and why; they didn’t leave it all until the last minute and make a scene in front of the whole class.

It’s amazing to me how compartmentalized my memory of this day was before writing this post.  I remembered each instance separately, as if they took place during different years and not all on the same day.  Naturally, that is what my mind had to do at the time in order to try and escape the pain and trauma.  But compartmentalizing also meant that I was never able to see the bigger picture, to realize the contradictions and messages I was being given.  Separating everything out made it easier to cope but also easier to blame myself for everything.  But I was not to blame for what happened that day and I did not deserve to feel more shame and self-hatred on account of it.  Society seems run on the idea that it’s right to maintain very harsh, punitive expectations and judgments on children’s behavior whether their needs are being met, whether they’re being abused and violated horribly, whether they’re actually being given the chance to make healthy choices in their lives or not.  But I disagree with that; children are not circus animals that can be made to perform whatever their parents or society wants, they will reflect what is actually being done to them. and act out when they are abused.

It is the child’s needs and the child’s interests that should be coming first, not mindless busywork and ego trips.  I loved learning, reading books and exploring interesting new concepts as a child, but I hated school.  Because it was no better then at home, my voice and my rights were never taken into consideration at either place.  And the school worked with my abusive parents to put me down and go over my head to make my life worse, they never called CPS (the furthest they were willing to go was to have an outside therapist come in and talk to me after he had already met with my parents.)  I had to go alone in taking the step to leave school in later years to pursue independent study, but I’m so glad I did it because it opened my world up to so much that I wasn’t finding in the authoritarian, uncreative, bullying environment at school.

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STD’s After Sexual Abuse; Forced To Keep The Secret

When I was 17 I lived through three hellish months, which involved excessive nightly itching the cause of which I finally realized (via the internet) was crabs.  This diagnosis meant that I could no longer ignore my problem but when I approached my parents for help, they didn’t see it that way.   My mother immediately waved away any notion of my seeing a doctor, and said that you just get something from the pharmacy, which my father soon went out to pick up.  That’s fine.  But before I had even treated myself, my mother told me insistently, “Do not tell your sister!  She’d say ‘I don’t want Luke to get crabs!’ and cancel the whole trip!”  It’s true that my sister was visiting for thanksgiving in a few days, along with her two year old son and husband, and in the preparations for that my parents saw me as little more then a nuisance, if they saw me at all.  But what she said makes no sense.  First of all, the fact that I had crabs for months and my parents never got them from sharing a bathroom with me means the risk was incredibly low, especially after the first treatment, so with education and a little planning, there is no reason why they shouldn’t come.

But my mother in saying this made my STD about my sister, about what she thought and felt, and not about me at all.  After repeating several times the fact that “It’s been five months since you’ve seen your ex!” (a number that wasn’t even accurate, but I didn’t need her judgments about how I got the crabs, so I didn’t correct her,) the issue fell into silence and denial, and I was supposed to pretend it had never happened.  Yet I see today that putting this shame and secret onto me actually didn’t help anyone.  My parents chose to put my nephew into the master bedroom to sleep, which meant that the second bathroom in the house was inaccessible most or all of the time.  So with five other people trying to use the main bathroom, when it came time to apply the second dose of my anti-crab medicine, I was blocked from doing it.  More relatives came to visit, and I had no way of getting into the shower and spending the necessary time, especially since I was also supposed to hide that I had crabs.  One night I almost went ahead and did the treatment but decided not to, and later on I overheard my sister and father bitterly complaining about how I had spent “so long” in the bathroom when my father was waiting to brush his teeth.

Actually that visit was truly a marathon of emotional abuse from my family.  Not only was I not supported in what I was going through, I was disregarded and screamed at all the time, treated with utter contempt.  At 17, I was still a minor, and though I had elected to do independent study at home in order to graduate on time, I was still a student and wasn’t deserving of hatred, resentment and demands of “why are you here?  you need to get a job!”  This visit is one of the primary reasons why my sister and I don’t and never will have a relationship, because the way she treated me is unacceptable, and cannot be made up for.  So I was left to itching and paranoia for three days until they finally left.  That morning I had to spend hours in the bathroom making sure I completely cleared up the problem; I had no medicine for a third dose, and didn’t want to drag this out longer.  Yet what I found is that later on in the day, my father was stomping around the house ranting about me.  He claimed that he was trying to take a nap but my constantly turning the water on and off (to clear the comb) kept him up.

Of course, my bedroom during childhood had been right next to the bathroom, and everyone showered without caring whether I was asleep or not, and if things were louder in the present, it was due to his renovations, not me.  When I went out the kitchen my mother came in and confronted me, while my father did backup, demanding to know what I was doing and complaining about “all the water in the septic tank!”  When I tried to tell my mother in a confidential tone, she raced up to me and shouted “WHATT???” As if now I had to loudly announce that I had been treating myself for crabs in front of her, my father and brother, violating their demand for it to be secret and humiliating me at the same time.  The fact is that my parents had so activated their denial and cared so little about my wellbeing that they had forgotten.  Their secret-making and lack of regard for my health led to this situation, where yet again I was left invalidated, alone, and shamed.

While I didn’t feel a need to tell everyone everywhere about my crabs, my parents demand that I keep it as a guarded secret for them was not healthy or reflective of my needs, boundaries, and interests.  It was a reflection of other secrets kept in our incest-family, and now I see, other stds too.  I know that once when I was 8 years old, my brother and I were forced to perform in a child porn scene that featured several other boys brought over to our house.  One of them was younger then me, and the adults forced me to penetrate him.  I can remember the way he looked at me, with hatred and a loathing I then internalized.  The memory is filled with a sick feeling, not only for how ill I felt in the face of the sexual abuse, but for what happened to me afterwards.  The way the skin on my penis became infected, itchy, peeling… I’m sure my parents handled that with a hush-hush home remedy as well.

Their pervasive medical neglect was sourced in a need to hide the abuse they were inflicting on me from outside eyes. But moreover it taught me to ignore myself, my medical conditions and just live/cope with whatever illness I developed without the notion that it could be fixed or that I was worth the attention.  This message is difficult to shake free from, but I realize today that I am worth it, I do deserve to feel good and so did I back then.  At 17, I was not less then my sister or my nephew, and in fact because I was their own child, my parents should have seen taking care of me as a priority (during that holiday and in general, since this was not an isolated incident) and not the undoubtedly perverse attention they were slathering onto their grandson.

I was harmed by the demand to keep this secret, and I see that my parents weren’t protecting anyone else either.  If there was in fact a possible risk of getting crabs from the shower or toilet seat, then my parents certainly would have been putting others at risk by their secrecy.  While I did visit my ex at the end of that summer, I don’t believe that is how I got crabs anymore.  Shortly afterwards while my parents were away my brother and his girlfriend dirtied up the bathroom, leaving likely infested body hair and scissors all over the place (something I never did), not caring about the fact that I might accidentally come into contact with it.   On that note, it is possible that my mother knew my brother had crabs months before, (whether she learned by trying to assault him or not) and was afraid the sexually abusive history of our family might be revealed if people learned I got crabs from my brother.  The incest in our family was her secret because she began it all herself when she had children and chose to sexually abuse us from infancy.

I know that regardless of how I got crabs, there was really nothing for me to be ashamed about, and I’m not.   But every time I shared something about myself, my mother would drift back into this mode of secrets and denials and nervously wondering about what other people will think.    My coming out, as gay, as having an eating disorder, as a survivor was despite my mother’s behavior not something I wanted contained and buried under more secrets and facades; that was not and is not how I’m willing to live my life.   Likewise I didn’t create these sick patterns in my family, where I was scapegoated for what my older siblings brought into the house and made responsible for their good time.  I didn’t create them, and I’m very happy to no longer perpetuate them either.  What I do or don’t disclose today is based on my evolving personhood, its not about protecting or keeping the secrets of my abusers, or co-creating an unhealthy living environment in which I have no voice or identity.

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