Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eat. Lie. Laugh.

Depression and low self esteem was my constant friend.  I was familiar with depression and migraines and had been for years. Even though I wanted something different, I didn't know something different. I was never a "woe is me" type of person, but I was still miserable. First the yelling and hitting, then the migraines, then the vomiting. I learned to vomit just by thinking about it. I regularly saw Dr. Dumbass or was taken to the ER for Demoral shots as migraines. As usual, my mom was super nice when I'd get sick. After she caused me to be sick. Looking back now, I can see the cycle of abuse very clearly... tension builds, incident occurs, reconciliation, calm.  (Even after I went to foster care and the migraines stopped... I continued to vomit out of habit for several years into my marriage. I weighed 98 pounds on my wedding day and never really felt energetic).

Demoral was a certain escape and a dreamless sleep. I relished a time to sink into oblivion.  Dr. Dumbass put me on blood pressure medicine to try to control the migraines. Since the issue wasn't about my blood pressure, and Dr. Dumbass continued to up the dosage at every migraine, I was eventually on enough meds to stabilize a 400 pound hypertensive man.  S.T.U.P.I.D. My blood pressure began to bottom out causing me to be lethargic and even more depressed. The hospital finally told my mother Dr. Dumbass was going to kill me.

One thing there was no shortage of our apartment complex was pot/pills/alcohol etc. The summer of my 13th birthday I smoked my first joint. Everyone I knew got high. There was a sweet girl and her husband with two very young children who lived upstairs. She cooked mashed potatoes every night and I'd always sneak in and get a bowl of them. She was always kind to me and seemed to be glad for company. I always left her apartment before her husband got home. They got high and were nice people. I began to see pot as just something people did for relaxing, fun and entertainment. It was a rare day that you didn't go outside and smell it. My mom and step-dad smoked it. His dad smoked it too. What's the big deal right?

I began babysitting for a few of the neighborhood parents and usually they would smoke it right in the living room before going out. No one even hid it. They'd smoke it out on the porch, in the kitchen, in the living room... it was like smoking cigarettes. One of the women I would babysit for always talked about how she got the munchies after smoking. She said she couldn't pay me for babysitting, but would give me a joint when she got home. I didn't care. I just wanted out of the house. She said I could use some munchies.

I talked my mom into letting me go to the skating rink the next night and arranged to ride with my friends. I went to another girls house to get ready. I think my mom was glad I even had a "friend". I was definitely anti-social and sometimes stuttered when I'd try to talk to people if I was especially nervous. Pot was GREAT. I laughed, I talked, and I ate. I drank a whole pitcher of Kool-Aid and my new friends laughed at me chugging due to having "Cotton Mouth". They laughed harder as I leaned over the balcony and immediately spewed the whole pitcher back up. My body wasn't used to having that kind of volume thrust on it. I had been nit-picking my food until my body had it's own ideas of what was allowed in an what wasn't and munchies be damned.

Now having a few "friends" wasn't something I was used to and lying came naturally.  I'd spent years lying to cover my ass at every turn. I'd spent a good amount of time daydreaming up fantasy worlds to live in to escape my own life. I'd learned to keep secrets and lying was a way to develop a world I'd like to live in. As the summer passed, I developed a crush on an older boy across the hall from our apartment. He was the brother of the residents who lived there and I'd often babysit for them. Night time babysitting was easy. Kids were put to bed and I basically watched TV until parents returned. We'll call my crush Nasty Boy. Nasty Boy was bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. He was also about six years older than me. Another skill I developed through the years was flirting. I'd heard my mother more than once talk about what a seductive child I was.

I put my skills to work and loved the challenge of trying to get Nasty Boy's attention. I told him outlandish lies about being a model when I lived in Missouri and said I'd gone to modeling school. He laughed, knowing I was lying, but didn't call me out on it. He just let me spin my web of deceit.

[I believe that children lie for only a few reasons. 1. to cover their ass. We've all done that. Usually parents cause this type of lying by asking children stupid questions like.. "Did you do that" or "Why did you do that". If you want your kids to lie... ask those two questions. 2. to build their self esteem aka Fantasy Lying - self explanatory and finally 3. to control their environment. Kinda goes with 2. ]

Lying would by my friend for the next ten years or so. I really thought people believed this shit too. "Oh, I recorded this song wanna hear it"... "Um, isn't that Janet Jackson's new release". "Wtf... don't you listen to KISS? What do you know about Janet Jackson"? "Hello... MTV"?. 

I was out of touch with reality. But that was okay cause I could just smoke a joint and laugh. And laughter felt wonderful!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The wedding

Pothead's family lived in a very rural area just past a national park in our state. They were so rural it made the community we had lived in on the farm look like a city. Anytime I was exposed to new people, new families, I was very observant. It was like taking an Amish child and putting them in one of our houses for a few hours. Everything was new. Everything was strange. So let me tell you about this family.

Pothead had a mother that worked herself to the bone. She was short and thin. She had a hair-sprayed bonnet hairdo. She, nor none of the family members could sign, but she could finger spell to Pothead. Pothead and his dad and sister were all heavier set. The sister was in her mid-twenties. She still lived at home. She was homely and had really bad hair. It was kinky/frizzy. Nothing could really be done with it. She kept it short, but it looked like a football helmet. She could also finger spell.  The dad, who was illiterate and an alcoholic, used his wife or the sister to communicate with Pothead.

I asked my mom why his family didn't learn to sign. This was their son and they'd had like 30 some odd years to learn. Mom said that Pothead had been sent away to school to live and learn to sign and read etc. Since he was only home during the summers and holidays she guessed they didn't get a lot of practice. To me, it spoke volumes about Potheads worth to the family. Explained a lot.

We'll call Pothead's Mom Venita and Dad we'll call Henry. Venita and Henry got up at 4 am even on the weekends. Venita kept the whole house clean and grew vegetables in her spare time. The family drank a lot of instant coffee. The kids were lazy. Neither had any independent living skills. We'll call the sister Kara. Even though Kara was grown, she sat in her room and listened to music all the time. She had no social life, no friends, no job. Henry wasn't in the best of health. He made extra money selling pot. Venita pretended she didn't know he did that, but if I knew... everyone knew.

Venita tried to be very nice to my mom and us girls. She was happy Pothead found someone. She'd slice tomatoes for me if I asked and I'd try to teach her signs. Kara wished we'd just disappear. We were annoying.
I generally followed Venita around because there wasn't a single thing to do when we'd go there on weekends. Venita did all of the laundry in the full basement and had no contamination rules. The house was clean, but not to mom's standards.

I was talking to Henry one day, standing beside his recliner. He was stupid. He was always touching his dogs wang because he said his dog liked it. Venita would yell at him and tell him to stop. He asked me to get him a beer and as he did slide his hand up the inside of my leg. I leaned down and whispered that if he ever touched me like that again I'd break his fingers. He quickly moved his hand and I felt empowered. I never mentioned it to another soul. I assumed a lot of men were this way and had decided that I'd never allow a man to touch me again. But there was no sense in getting the whole house in an uproar. Would anyone even believe me? This was the third time someone had been a pervert with me. I felt confident things were nipped in the bud and went on about myself.

I have no doubt that it's likely almost every girl in the world has been put in that type situation. Maybe not a full incident of anything happening, but that some adult somewhere made them uncomfortable.

I was moving into a stage in my life full of angst and depression. I wore some matching stupid outfit with my sister to the wedding in Hog Waller County. Donna was there and as mom and Pothead took center stage, I remember feeling very disconnected from the events of the day. I can clearly remembering thinking that something was wrong with me because I didn't experience joy anymore.  I thought it was because I wasn't Church worthy.  I experienced anger, depression, nothingness, curiosity, longing, but joy and pleasure escaped my grasp.  I was powerless. The only person I had a connection with was in California and I had no idea if I'd ever see her again. So I developed some coping mechanisms. As someone who loved music, I wouldn't just listen to music,... I'd often pick out one instrument and focus on that part of the song imagining myself playing the instrument. This technique allowed all other thoughts and emotions to be drowned out and gave my mind a rest. We weren't allowed to listen to the radio at night, but I'd listen to songs in my head to drown out any thoughts that were threatening to drag me into darkness.  And time marched on.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nodes aka Weepuls

Amanda... These are "Nodes"... except this one has feet and stuff aka Weepuls as these are called. Nodes are just the eyes. All different colors. If anyone wants some Weepuls you can get then here.

Here are the type stickers used for "kisses. I stole this picture from Amazon :O

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clarifying and upcoming posts

My daughter (who is grown before I get another hate email - which you can stop sending by the way because you're stupid I just delete them) who reads this blog and knows me as well as anyone in my life... pointed out that I might want to clarify to the readers that although yes, I was sexually abused, I consider the majority of my "trauma" to have been inflicted by my mother who did NOT sexually abuse me.  So, now that I've said that out loud, I want to talk about why I've been so slow to post lately.

The next several years of posts are going to include disassociation aka splitting, lying, promiscuity, suicide attempts, eating disorders, and a lot of other really reactive behaviors that we see in children in foster care every day. I'm going to talk about them so that we can possibly have a little understanding and compassion for what abused children could be going through although I make no claims that every child is reacting the way I did or that I had every reaction that other children have had or have. Every person/child deals with their reality the best way they can with the coping skills they have developed.

Also...I do not use the word survivor to describe myself because I am no longer a victim. I am mentally healthy in today's life (to the best of my ability LoL) and I don't pretend that the past doesn't affect the way I view the world. That is true of every person. I also realize I talk a lot about being in spiritual conflict and crisis throughout this blog which has remained a final unresolved issue. I have received a few emails from some well-meaning, but narrow minded people who want to tell me that I'm going to hell if I don't accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, so let me say this:

I love people (and sometimes I hate people). I love the variety of paths that people have lived and where that has led them. I love learning from them and developing new perspectives because they were able to articulate something in a way that made sense to me.  I love a lot of believing people, both Mormon and non-Mormon. My  issue is not with people as people... so don't make this about you or your religion or your personal relationship with God... and please... don't make it your personal goal to save me by telling me I'm going to hell. I climbed out of hell and my personal belief is that hell is created by people. I've found the  most loving of Christians are gentle with non-believers. I don't respond well to any other approach. And I'm really  not ready to deal with all that yet and I don't have to. I'm on my own timeline, living my own life at my own pace. If I get hit by  a bus tomorrow, I was still a good person despite other's criteria regarding my soul.

This is my journey. I cuss. It's not to offend, it's because I thought  I cuss word. I blog my reality... as I remember it.  It's not my intention to cause contention among believers. It may help you to understand the struggle of abused children as it relates to their conflict with religion and/or God, if you'll just take a deep breath. I think this is where some psychologist somewhere says "I'm okay, You're okay".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Church Camp

It was hard to  make sense of  my world at 12.  I was grieving my grandparents and my understanding of my mom was in utter chaos.

One night as I was laying in bed, my mom came into  my room and sat  on my bed. Wtf.

I just sat there. What. does. she want.

"Are you excited about going to Church Camp in the morning"?

"No, I'm scared".

"You'll be fine... and...I have good news...when you come back  Pothead and I are getting married".

Silence... crickets... I don't get it.

"Um... is that why you're sending  me away this  week so you can be with your (insert 12 year old smart-assy-ness here) deaf pot smoking boyfriend LOVE"?? This was one of the first times I can remember consciously trying to manipulate my mother. I usually was a soldier at trying to please her, but the window was  opened so I jumped through it.

"No, of course not! I think you'll have fun". She tried to hug me. Such a rarity. I stiffened my body. 

Now I lay in bed wondering why... why was she smoking pot, why was she marrying a non-church-member? Yet, at every opportunity she was speaking "Church speak" and etc etc.

The next morning she dropped me  off at the Church so we could head  off to camp. I was not a child who was comfortable in her own skin and definitely didn't do well with change.  I needed what was familiar even if it was bad. Shy and awkward I got into the van. Most of the girls in the van were from two different families. Each family had like 421 children. I was always curious how these righteous girls' fathers could not only afford a gazillion kids, but they all lived in beautiful homes and had the nicest of things. On one income nonetheless. It  must be because they were righteous, I assumed.

I nervously twirled my Choose The Right ring as we pulled up into Church Camp and read the sign that said "Mt. Zion something something". As we got out of the van, I quickly scanned the surroundings. Up on a far away hill was a beautiful lodge and opposite were several medium sized cabins. One of the particularly pretty, but bossy girls told me  to grab her luggage and bring it to the Lodge. I was new and it was tradition.  Fury swept over me in a flash and I kicked her suitcase over as her dumb ass flew up the hill giggling with her friends.  Eff her. Second thought. Turn the other cheek.  I trudged up to the Lodge carrying my bag (leaving hers) when the girl looked back.  "If you don't have MY bag, why are you coming up to the lodge"?, she sneered... "YOU sleep in the Cabins. You're a first year"! Ooooh, that BITCH. So  much for Jesus touching your cold heart. Another faker. I'm sick of them.

I turn around and head back towards the Cabins and am directed to the correct one by some older teen wearing a camp t-shirt.

I hugged myself with a little Jesus talk and summonsed the courage to go into the cabin. My temper had cooled by the time I got there and as always I got over myself as quickly as I got mad. That just meant I wasn't mad, not that Ms. Priss and I would be friends.

I had wasted time getting into my cabin and was left with a top bunk. I was not a fan.

I put my belongings on there and climbed up. I would just listen  for the night before I acknowledged anyone  or talk. The girls tried to talk to me and  I just looked at them.  I couldn't speak even though I knew it made me  look rude.

We had supper in the cafeteria and got ready for bed. I climbed into my sleeping bag and let releasing tears of anxiety slip quietly into my pillow. Crying  made me feel better and  I fell asleep hoping a spider didn't crawl on me in the night.

The next morning I woke up slowly. No one else was in the cabin. As my senses came to me I felt a stickiness between my toes and noticed that several differently colored circled stickers we all over me. I must have been OUT.  In my bed were little colored puffs with eyeballs. Cute. I didn't mind that they had put toothpaste between my toes, but I was pissed that my sleeping bag was now sticky and I didn't know how I'd  get it clean. Pain  in the ass.

One of the girls  ran back  into the cabin to grab a hat and noticed I was awake. "Hi, come on, we're going to prayer".

"What is this"?  "Node kisses", she stated.
"What are...nodes"?, I asked feeling stupid.

The girl picked up one of the fluffy balls and held it up... "Nodes... every year the nodes come and kiss the girls in camp and one girl is chosen to be the Node Princess. She is absolutely covered in kisses. Hurry and get ready and come see." she said smilingly as she hurried back out the door. Maybe I'd make a friend.

(*Edit: I somehow learned to cope with abuse, but it nearly took me down when people were nice to me. I don't know why I feel the readers need to know this, but in re-reading it, I felt I should say that). 

I got myself out of the sleeping bag and cleaned up the toothpaste the best I could. I dressed quickly and went to find someone to tell me where they showered and to ask  how  to clean my bad. The staff showed me to the shower and kindly took my bag to wash it.

Let me tell you about this shower. In a word, G R O S S. I tentatively crept up on the cinder block building which had several shower stalls with shower curtains covering each stall. It was dank and dark and dingy. I grew up on a farm, but I at least had a door  to shut when I bathed. I checked the corners and walls for spiders and thanked God for flip flops. I decided I wouldn't get "nekkid" and would just wash my legs off and make sure I had a bathing suit on next time I came to shower. I just couldn't get undressed in  this open building. As I left the shower building I looked up at the lodge and hoped I could stay there the following year.

I made my way to the rest of the group who was done praying by now. They were heading off to breakfast and then crafts. I liked crafts. Later in the week we would go rafting. I don't like open water. So that's going to be  a problem. I also don't like hiking or exercising. I would really like to just swim  in the  pool and do crafts, but we stay together as groups for the week. I finally make it through the week and it's  time to go home. I didn't make friends. It wasn't that I didn't want to. I was just too awkward in my own skin and my own mind.  I climbed back into the van for the return trip and just resolved myself to letting life happen to me.