Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

Thing I am most ashamed of.

May 7, 2012

The obvious, and most true, answer is losing my cool with my kids. I have written here before about my struggle with anger, usually on a specific day of my period cycle every month. I am fine the rest of the time – I do not hit, smack, or yell. I’m fucking awesome. Except when I’m not. I am deeply ashamed of this and will probably return to the subject again.

But for now, I’ll talk about what keeps coming up in my head when I read the comment by @tatchull that suggested I write on this topic: a trip to the doctor when I was about eleven or twelve.

I don’t remember why we were there. My mom took me. My mind seems to colour in the details as being there for a jab/injection of some sort, though my experiences in therapy years later suggest something else. But perhaps I’ll return to that. Whatever the reason we were there, my Mom and me, it seemed pretty harmless and not a big deal.

Until he asked me to take off my underpants.

He had asked if I’d started my period, and when I said no, he said he wanted to look inside my vagina to see what was going on. As an adult, this shit boggles my fucking mind. What does my vagina have to do with my period?!?! And why would my mom, a medical professional, countenance this sort of invasion of a young girl?

So I was naked, ashamed, lips spread open while a man I did not know peered into my vagina, his face so close I probably felt him breathing on me. He said my hymen was still intact, and that I would need to come back in six months if I still had not started my period as he would have to cut my hymen open (!!!!!!!!!) so the blood could come out.

My mom thanked him and said we would come back if needed. Thank fuck my period came.

I don’t understand any of this, even now. I am ashamed of my mother, that she let this man do this. That she let him touch me, talk of cutting me. Surely she knew letting a strange guy rupture my hymen was unlikely to suddenly bring me to physical maturity? The whole thing confuses me. And, my GOD, if a doctor tried to mess with either of my children’s genitals – well. I’d stop that shit, and we would never return. I would talk to my child about it and try to help them make sense.

My old therapist, L, (if you are a new reader, I am a counsellor. My intensive training required each candidate to undergo extensive personal therapy – and I LOVED it!!) made a suggestion one day. Might my mother have taken me to the doctor specifically to check if my hymen was intact, given the high probability of sexual abuse from my father? Just to make sure that whatever else had happened, I was intact? As disturbing as this suggestion was, at least it makes sense – and happened because my mother was trying to protect me.

I have spoken to my mother about this incident. She says she doesn’t remember it ever happening. So she either wants to keep the truth from me, or it was a such a non-event to her that she genuinely doesn’t recall it. I think it’s the second option. Given that she insists on keeping me up to date on a family member who DID sexually molest me, given that when I told her she told me to shut up, given that when I repeatedly told her as an adult she just acts embarrased, well, I can believe she might not consider this event a big deal.

I don’t write this to say I had a bad mother. She did, and continues, to protect me in the way she can. But was it enough, when I was so young, and that man looked at me in that intimate way?

It was not.

So I feel shame, on many levels. But the main one is not my own shame, but the shame of my mother. Her shame around my sexual self (another long blog post or two, folks), her shame around any sexuality, how her shame impacted her ability to say NO or to allow me to say it. I don’t remember if I tried. Probably not. Sometimes, when you’re little, you need someone to say no for you. This is a lesson I have learned, carved deep into my core self. I needed someone to say NO, to stand up for me, and they didn’t….in the way I needed. That being said, I don’t remember ever going back to see this doctor, so perhaps she did what she could, when she could. I forgive her.

This post brought to you by my compelling desire to write, and complete inability to do so. Generous people have given me funny, thoughful, and factual suggestions for posts. Click here to see them, or add your own. I’ll work through them all in time.

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Fear based feeding.

September 1, 2010

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my mother while cleaning up after a meal. I casually said something like, ‘Well, Snort didn’t have much of his ___________ today.’ It didn’t worry me. Some days he’ll eat 75 melons, and some days he’ll only eat 3.

My mom’s reply startled me, perhaps because it wasn’t what I expected her to say.

‘Oh, let him choose how much he wants to eat.’  Now, let’s say it loud and clear: my mother is not a fan of baby led weaning. She was loudly opposed to this style of feeding from the start, but when it became clear that her fears about choking were not going to change how we did things, she stopped critiquing us. (This, incidentally, is how I know I am a mother in full standing, and a woman to be respected: my mother trusts me to raise my own children. Ha.)

But then she continued.

‘When you were a baby, sometimes you seemed like you didn’t want to eat. So I would force you. You would be screaming and crying and I just kept shovelling food in because I was afraid you weren’t eating enough.  I took you to the doctor and he said you were fine, you were healthy, and a baby who is healthy doesn’t need to be forced to eat. He said you would be eating what was right for you.’

A few things from this paragraph.

One, this is a major principle of baby led weaning. You don’t encourage your kid to eat more or less than what they are eating. Only they know how hungry their tummy is. Research has also shown that kids will gravitate towards things that have what their body is lacking. This is why my kids sometimes attack wheat bread and I think I’ll have to open my own mill, and why sometimes they lean towards cheese, or fruit, or beans.

Two, my mother had informed me awhile back (probably around the time Snort and Coco were 6 months old and we were starting solid food) that she had not given me anything but purees until I was ‘well over a year old.’  Yes, all I ate until god knows how old was smoothly pureed stuff. You know, the stuff that I was forced to keep eating even when I was full and protesting.

Three, well, is there a ‘three’?

You all know I am pretty overweight right now. Almost 55 pounds overweight, despite having already lost about 25 pounds. I may have been a healthy, slim weight when I got pregnant, but that has never been my norm.

Longtime readers will know that a few years before I got pregnant, I lost 58 pounds in 18 months doing Weight Watchers. Prior to being pregnant with two big ass twins, my starting weight at WW was the heaviest I’d ever been, and it’s about what I weigh right now.

While I wasn’t a fat child – though certainly made to feel so by my mother – I was never a skinny minnie once I started puberty, and for me that happened in about fourth grade. So being a healthy eater, a thin person, is not my natural mode of being.

Some people are just naturally chunky (and hawt), but I don’t think there’s anything natural about my chunkiness (despite the fact that I am, of course, still hawt!). I think it happened – and is happening – for a number of reasons.

One, I was not allowed to make decisions for myself regarding food as a child. I would have eaten whatever was on that spoon. Two, I was forced to eat even when I was not hungry, and this has perhaps overridden my natural awareness of being full, of being finished. Three, I was not allowed ‘real people food’ until I was long past my baby years.

Even as a child, I was lied to about food. I was afraid of fish, so my mother told me tuna was chicken. I didn’t want to eat meats at all after awhile, and my family bribed me with money, hid the wrappers of meat in the trash, and continued to lie. I was full and didn’t want to eat my peaches? I got hit and screamed at while at the table. I threw up because I was made to eat when I didn’t want to? Hit and yelled at again (not by my mother).

As I got even older, I was enlisted to lie to my sister about the food on the table, as she was 5.5 years younger than me and would only eat what I would.

Now, obviously my family is an extreme. But I still think that the feeding experiences of babyhood – like most experiences of babyhood – remain with us and play a large part in the formation of our character, our self-beliefs, and our choices.

We’ve been doing baby led weaning for about seven months now, and it couldn’t have been a better experience. Sure, at the beginning I worried about how much they were (not) eating. Sure, the first time Coconut swallowed a hunk of bread it scared me so much I didn’t give them solids for two days.

But I kept on, because at the core of it I do trust my children.

And now they are healthy and happy eaters. No doubt there will be bumps in the road, but I feel like I have helped create a baseline for them – learning when they are full, choosing what foods to eat from the variety that is offered, choosing how much to eat. Letting me know when they are done, and that being respected.

Snort and Coconut laugh during meals. Coconut often hums (much like my sister used to do when eating). They drink water and merrily slam their cups down, they hand me choice pieces of chewed up muck to sample, they are weaning themselves off milk. For Snort and Coconut, mealtimes are an opportunity for us to all be together, to have a ‘chat’, to enjoy each other and the good food in front of us.

What a stark contrast – for me as a child, mealtimes were often scary and laced with the fighting of my parents (who later divorced, thankfully in retrospect!), pressures on me to make choices, and pressures on me (still, when I visit home) to just ‘finish things off’, to make sure there are no leftovers. I have received so many mixed messages about food, and I could write a novel on the ways my family have – unknowingly, perhaps – fucked me up in relation to food.

TMD is still struck dumb by it all. At my parents’ house, there is a big breakfast and then one later meal around 4. If you get hungry before then you are shamed for wanting to eat, and if you get hungry afterwards you are shamed for wanting to eat. Yet during the meal itself you are encouraged to gorge, to always, always eat more.

TMD will be driven to secretive eating within days of being there (alongside me!), much as I ate secretively as a child – except now I’m old enough to drive away, order food, and eat in the car and throw away the wrapper before I get home. Ridiculous. We have both made a conscious effort (thank god for TMD and her neverending support) to eat normally while at my mother’s house, though the continual commentary on our eating is tough to deal with.

This will not happen for Snort and Coconut.

I am curious to see what my mother makes of baby led weaning in action, but I am a woman now. I am doing the best I can by my children, making choices I hope are the right ones, and so far it’s working: I have two almost-toddlers who exude confidence, joy, curiousity, and wonder.

Long may it continue.

Therablog.

March 20, 2010

So, the other day I was talking with a friend about sexual abuse. We won’t go into details, because I know some readers have faced this and I don’t want to trigger anything for anyone. (If I write about this more in future, will put a ‘sensitive’ warning at start of post.)

That night, I had a dream that was like remembering things. Not very dreamlike at all, if you get me, more like my brain opening up doors and me saying, ‘Oh, yes, that’s how it was.’ I tried to tell myself it was because of this conversation with a friend – and it probably was – but kept thinking about it.

Then a certain post went up on Violence Unsilenced (a great, great site!) and I found myself having difficulty breathing. Literally felt like all the air was out of my lungs, I felt nervy and panic ridden. It didn’t help that I’m quite friendly with the author of the post, and was completely blindsided by how a ‘normal’ person (like me, of course, like me) can have this whole malignant past and be brave enough to tell people about it.

All of that aside, we went out today and when we got back in I was so sore I needed to go have a rest. I ended up falling into a very deep sleep, and who was there? Kleinette (my old therapist, for those of you who are newish to the blog). Kleinette was there with me in the area where I grew up, driving a car while I was in the backseat. (And had quadruplets in this dream, that TMD handily left for me and Kleinette to drive around- despite having no car seats. Way to be unsafe, TMD’s dreamself!)

We sort of went around different places, had some good, challenging talks, etc.

I woke up feeling like I’d just had a very intense therapy session. It was good, but also bizarre. And can I say, I haven’t had a dream about Kleinette in, what? Years?

The dream had come to a natural conclusion, and then I was properly woken up by two manically screaming babies. I decided to take pity on TMD and hobbled out of the bedroom to help feed. So I’ve lost some of the clarity of our dream discussion, but a few salient points remain. And the emotional feeling of having probed wounds, but knowing I am strong enough to deal with that now, certainly has stuck with me.

Just wanted to get this stuff down in case it was important. And there I go, downplaying it. It is important. And it was nice to see Kleinette! Yes, I know she was a figment of my mind, but she has connotations of safety for me – and it is always nice to see the face of someone you care about, in reality or dreams. Perhaps she has ‘come back’ to help me think deal with things, sort of like Dumbo and his magic feather.

The one thought I had upon waking was, ‘Of course I’ve got a fucking pelvic problem.’ This was the result of thinking about finally writing Kleinette back (ah, you don’t know about her baby gift drama – I sent her a birth announcement, she sent me a fab card and awesome baby slippers, I didn’t write back because I didn’t want her to think I was stalkery, she ended up texting at New Year’s to see if I got the stuff, I felt like a heel for not thanking her, etc) and mentioning the SPD. Then I remembered that it was mentioned on more than one occasion about my – holy shit, I forgot the acronym.

PMDD. Yes, PMDD.

And then I thought (because apparently you can take me out of a paying job as a counsellor and put me on maternity leave, but you cannot take the counsellor out of me), isn’t it innnnnteresting that all my major problems are in that one region of my body. I also thought about how the last time I lost shedloads of weight, I was in therapy – not to talk about weight at all, but the weight seemed to fly off during therapy/training as a counsellor, and I don’t think that was an accident.

If this is a bunch of wobbling, rambling mess, forgive me. It’s late at night, and I’ve already been asleep for like four hours. Just feel like I needed to write something real, and also, well, you know. Comfort blogging. It’s better than your favourite comfort movie, or at least it is to me.

Night, all. Hope you’ve had a good Saturday and will have an even better Sunday.