Monday, September 8, 2008

Goin' on a bear hunt

It's so true.

The Guardian Friend got back to me over the weekend and described this next big shitpile of healing I am facing as "going on a bear hunt", ie. you can't go over it, you can't get under it, you can't go around it.... You just have to go right through it.

"I'm not scared
It's a beautiful day"

I have statements and conclusions and questions and facts racing, chasing themselves, around in my head now. It's like something from Harry Potter - some lid has been opened and the contents are now whirling up and out, raging and free and furious, some of them.

Worst of all, I had to call my father yesterday - no, you're right, I didn't have to, but I felt obliged to - for Fathers' Day. Now, on the one hand, he didn't do anything wrong. But that's just it. He didn't do anything to protect me. In my childlike reasoning, he could have stopped me getting hurt. He didn't. Because he didn't know what was happening. In living with this, though, it goes a long way to explaining why I always felt like my father didn't love me that much when I was a kid growing up.

Of course he did. Probably. Oh, I don't know....

And because of what had been mulling over in my mind, it smarted more than a little that after chatting for fifteen minutes, he announced he had to go because Doctor Who was coming on. I know, I know, he had given me fifteen minutes.... The point is, there was such a divide between us, caused by everything I was going through and couldn't even begin to open up again to him about, especially given the last time I tried and his response.

When I was a young woman in my early twenties, I was in a job that afforded me a LOT of spare time. It was ridiculous. I was also surrounded by males who appeared to really dislike and disrespect women. I was one of only three in the workplace, the rest (over twenty) were men. Why am I telling you this? Nothing happened, nothing twigged in me, no lights went on. But in that spare time I had, I started reading and researching child psychology. What makes kids tick. What they need to grow up, nurtured and safe. I got on to some university website - back when the www was just a wee toddler, not the mighty thing it is today, now I think about it - and immersed myself in learning what creates self esteem in children.

Turns out, a girl's father is the main teacher or instiller(?is that a word?) of her self confidence. How she sees herself in the world. Of course, also how to test her own sexual boundaries when they begin to emerge in adolescence.

Now, because of my specific family circumstances, I was segregated from my father for pretty much all of my childhood. Certainly, emotionally, I would never have gone to him before going to my mother. She made it so. I feared him, I depised him, for not really any good reason than the conditioning I had been under by my other parent.

So when I was abused, even though it was right under both their noses, I can see very clearly (as an adult now) that they had their plates full with their own woes with each other. As it turns out, barely two years after I stopped the abuse, my parents separated and my Dad left.

Where am I going with all this? You may well ask. I don't know. I think there will probably be a lot of rambling posts of this nature for a while to come.

What I do know is that where I am headed, I needed to sweep out this corner of my life and really examine the contents, safely and well supported, because I can't be half-fixed/half-broken if I am to be of any use to people in need of their own healing, can I? I am willing to do it for myself if it means others will benefit. Another symptom of my upbringing it may be, but that's how it is.

I can also see much more plainly why I have been so desperate for Steve to show strength - not that he can't be vulnerable or sensitive, on the contrary I need that too and these traits would have attracted me to him... the strong, silent, hilarious type, that's my Lenny - but when he began to go under after the LGBB was born, I rode him pretty hard and have done from time to time ever since, that he needs to "fix" himself or be right in his mind. It could be seen as selfish, but I think more accurately, it's because I really need a partner to be resilient for both of us. I've been "strong" and have survived my childhood, teenage years in a fractured family and mentally unstable mother, then of course, the Big Bang that caused me to learn more about myself and give the impetus to delve deeper under the surface: losing Ella.

I often wonder how different my adult life would have played out if that first pregnancy had worked, back in 2000. At that stage, I was so expectant and oblivious and blinkered that I would never have had the life I have now. The life online. The awareness of what might be behind why that woman avoids my eyes when I pass her with my daughter in her pram. The unhappy face of a child dragging his feet behind his parents. I look into the faces of young children and hope they are safe. Hope, if not, that they are resilient enough to make it to adulthood with their sanity mostly intact. Then, it's up to them. They can do it if they get there, out from under their parents' roof.

I must have had enough of an injection of knowing I was okay, because it saw me through. I could be such a different person now - and I was heading into bitterness and cynicism and the "tough? They wanna see doing it tough? They don't know the half of it" way of seeing the world. It's not helpful at all to add to all the "me, mine, MINE!" selfish crud out there and think that way. Instead, I have thankfully been able to channel it somewhat. I've had the tools and started the learning to buffer all that and I can stand back and mostly make sense of why things have happened to me as they have.

For instance, the rock-bottom self esteem that has crushed me on and off during my life was necessary in order for me to be humble enough to realise the teachings my life was offering me. If I had been more confident, they may have mostly sailed right over my head. And then, again, I wouldn't have been able to deliver my story and let people in to what goes on in the life of a mother after neonatal loss. Just one example. Of course, it doesn't all come back to that.

I thought more than twice about posting my last entry. I thought a slightly lesser number of times about posting this one. But by the time I began this entry, I had already come to the conclusion that I have nothing to be ashamed of. My abuser does. And you can bet there'll be no blog entry from him (if he has a blog) because it's probably been long forgotten or denied or reasoned away in his mind. As it stands, when I approached my parents (separately) at the age of about seventeen, my father had the chance to redeem his earlier failure to protect me. I sat there after telling him - and letting the realisation sink in - I had finally said it out loud and I'd worked myself up to doing it, it had taken a LOT of courage. My father spent all of ten seconds formulating a well-worded damage-control response ("how can I best play this down to make it go away and not cause drama or problems for anyone, including my daughter?") and explained it all away. Called it "experimentation" and that "boys will be boys". And pretty much, literally dusted his hands in front of me, stood up and announced he was going to make a cuppa and would anyone like one. He had the chance to affirm me. Inject me with some much-needed confidence. Given me a hug that said he wasn't again rejecting me, figuratively.

All it did was confirm to me that "it had been nothing"... that was, until I told my first counsellor about it. I was about 25 at that stage. And her head nearly lifted off with the steam coming out her ears. She affirmed me immediately by saying I could actually STILL press charges against him if I wanted to go that way. I would never do that. But my God, did I feel validated.

I think that's enough from me for now.

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