We don’t have words for the in-between.

The in-betweens is that place where you’re not quite in one state and not quite in another. It’s not the same as being on a journey from point A to point B. It’s more like being in a place where you can’t quite say you are at Point A or Point B but both are somewhere close by but where you are to them is still a bit unknown. That’s the in-betweens. It’s the place of the un-named things which renders them almost un-real as if there is a real power in the naming or the un-naming of things.

We just don’t have words for the not quite rape and not quite a violation. At least I don’t know of them. This is the world I’ve lived in for a very long time. I’ve been raped, a long time ago. And yet listening to all the talk about rape victims and rape apologetics and how rape occurs, I don’t relate. But then again, my situation is a little different and who I am is very different.

I was that groomed child, born to a Pedophile father and was raped as a child. I was raised in such a way I lacked the ability to say no. Yet everything I did was saying no in the most non-verbal way possible. I was planking before planking was a thing. Silent rivers flowed down the mountains of my cheeks. My gaze became focused on the dots of the ceiling to count them. This was not a one-time occurrence. This was my life.

I can point back to that and say yes I was raped. My trauma and my reaction are different. It’s not the same as a violent rape victim but it’s still trauma. For a long time, this was in the in-between because it wasn’t violent, that I wasn’t beaten black and blue, that I didn’t scream. My image of what rape is had to change for me to even admit, that yes, this was rape. But what about the other times I didn’t say no or more to the point, I didn’t say yes either? What about the other in-betweens?

I didn’t say yes to a threesome in my early 20’s. I know I was sober and I still don’t recall how I got undressed. I wasn’t interactive. I do remember being remarkably bored and merely waiting for him to finish. I wasn’t even aware that I might have been switching in and out back then. I do recall the feeling of being pressured but it wasn’t physical. Was it rape? Maybe, maybe not. I simply don’t know. This is that moment of in-between.

A different time, a different man, having sex with agreed up conditions, for him not to ejaculate inside me, and as predictable as it sounds to me now, he did exactly what he agreed not to do. For a long time, calling this failed expectations or a broken promise just didn’t fit. Now the newly coined term consent violation fits and explains the situation. For a long time, this was one of the in-betweens.

There was a moment where I was almost gang raped, non-consensual partner swapping that I hadn’t agreed upon and was sprung on me out of nowhere. This one is a bit of a tangle to talk about, so much packed into a few moments of time. I still leave it in the in-betweens because a gang rape didn’t happen. It almost happened but it didn’t.

I don’t know if I’m willing to go so far and say the in-betweens’ are traumas unspecified. Some are and some are not. Some have left deep scars and other’s just an eye roll. Maybe someone has better worlds out there, different ways to explain things. I don’t have a vocabulary for the downside of sex. There used to exist, only one term, rape. Now there are two, consent violation and rape. But there is still a whole lot of in-betweens out there, some traumatic and some not. I don’t have words for them.

The Oddity of Dreams

Last week I had a dream I still don’t know how to interpret. My dreams are often prophetic or informative. This felt different in a way I had not experienced.

When my father died over a year ago, I spent the next six months having nightmares. Each one reliving the days after my mother died. Each one reliving the abuse at his hands. Each one in perfect detail and recollection. And they hurt. Yet the dreams stopped as abruptly as they started and I breathed a sigh in relief.

Been almost over a year and then I had a dream about my father.  In my dream, I returned to the family home and saw on the door a child’s drawing and pictures taped to the side of the house. The fury and rage that coursed through me should have sizzled me awake or at least into awareness that this was a dream. I opened the front door to see my father alive, healthy and in good spirits. He was surrounded by other people, unknown people as kids ran around, in and out of the house. Even the home was different- bigger, more alive, farm like. There were even goats there in the back yard.

This wasn’t the same man. It was as if I was given a glimpse in the multiverse and saw a version of my father that had made all the right choices and was rewarded for them. Family, love, life, grandchildren, laughter all surrounded him. And I, I was a stranger.

In this dream, I didn’t exist. I nor my sisters were born to him. And I went out to pet the goats, bemused. I was drained of anger. That man was not the one I was angry at. Yet I live and am alive due to his wrong choices.  We don’t get to choose the why of things in life. We do get to choose what to do with the choices we have.

And the goats. Never forget about the goats. I used to dream of taking care of goats once upon a time. They are so cute! And my father had the stock phrase of someone “getting his goat.” I guess in that universe he kept all his goats after all.

What are the things I learned as a child?

I learned that gifts would be taken away thus I learned to refuse them first.

I learned that I owned nothing thus I would watch my most precious possessions given away and I learned to hide that which was most precious to me.

I learned that I was powerless to those in charge of me thus I learned my words and thoughts meant nothing.

I learned that it was the wants of others that would always affect my life thus I learned to read people in an effort to give them what they needed before they asked.

I learned that things of the world were sinful thus I learned all my childish wants were as well.

I learned that participation was being a part of the world thus I learned to watch and stand apart from everything.

I learned that there was no one there for me thus I learned to only rely on myself as I was truly alone.

I learned that my presence was undesired thus I learned to wait in the shadows, hiding not hoping for a kindness.

I learned that kindness always had a price thus I learned that paying that price was often too costly.

I learned that love was just a word thus I learned to mistrust words and watch actions instead.

I learned that my childish joy brought pain thus I learned to bury my joys and not experience them openly.

I learned that I could trust no one thus I learned I could not even trust myself.

I learned that I was little in a world of bigs thus I learned to walk unseen.

These were painful lessons and they are causing havoc on my life.

Forging Silver from Storm Clouds

There is something nigglingly on the edges of my consciousness, just what is it? It feels important, very important. It is a dawning realisation that my fracturing, my splitness, being DID was and is a good thing.

Yup, that statement has been a hard one to swallow. How could something that resulted from trauma be a good thing? Preservation.

Out of all the possible outcomes of my childhood, I am DID.

I’ve hated being split. Seriously hated it. Hated losing time. Hated losing my mind. Hated not knowing. Hated waking up. Hated going to sleep. Hated the whispers. Hated the looks in other’s eyes. Hated hiding the mess inside. Hated running hot then cold. Hated being bold. Hated being soft. Hated everything about me. It’s an anger I turned inward. It ate me. Hate devoured me except for this tiny tiny piece.

This tiny piece that resisted the gaping maw of hate’s consumption is the same piece of me that being split sought to protect; my heart. It’s light has flickered and waned, grew bold and bright, roared gigantic and smouldered to coals. It has survived, an ember. Just a tiny sliver of possibility remains.

It doesn’t take much for it to flame back alive and roar out alive. That is, if the fire-tender allows it to be fed.

I’m not being fed. I can feel it. Just enough breath is blowing across to coals to keep it alive. Just enough to feel the creeping cold danger of soul death. Just enough to know I must act and act quickly. My flame flickers but it’s there. It wasn’t put out. It wasn’t doused. It wasn’t killed. It exists. I live. I am alive.

I am preserved as an ember, ready for a long journey with just enough life left to burn brightly once more. I persevered above all odds.

The Meaning of Lies

I have been a liar.

I can chalk it up to those things in my past, my childhood, or for any number of valid reasons. The person I’ve been lying to all this time has been myself. It struck me the other day when I mentioned my favourite colour about how much I lie to myself.

So odd that I would lie to the world and myself what my favourite colour is. Come walk with me down into memory. She was a little four-year-old girl, pampered, dressed and styled according to her mother’s desires. She was a living baby doll. And on a magical day, she was allowed a choice. Oh, what magic to be given a choice, a say in things to be! Lavender, she adored the colour lavender above any others. Thus her bedroom was painted lavender.

Happiness flowed all around her, her room, her colour, her choice! Yet under the surface of things, of family lurked deep unhappiness. Her colour, her choice was hated and thus removed. And her parents worked to erase her choice, her happiness, even she had to work to cover it. The white of paint struggled to cover the brilliance of her beloved lavender. Little ears took in the grumbles and complaints and learned a strange lesson that day. Her desires would be for nought. So much white paint used to cover, to erase a pleasure, a joy that was hers and hers alone. The want’s that what escaped that white day defeated those who lacked understanding. Lavender splotches  peaked at the edges of the room, like her soul, diminished yet undefeated. It was a comfort to see even the bits that peaked and escaped the drowning of white.

This lesson would not have been enough to be set in stone if there had not been so many others before and after. Your desires mean nothing. Your choices mean nothing. What you want means nothing. Each one hammered home again and again.

The ingeniousness of childhood protects the core budding personality against occasional harm that parenthood brings to it. Yet when the child is an extension of the parent, not only does the child absorb the parents hurts, they have to buffer their own core in hope of a day they can bloom. I have no measure of how well I succeed in this task. Let me tell you another story.

Pigtailed seven year old who loved words and worlds only found between the pages ran up to her mother a late spring evening. In her hands, her pride, her joy, her accomplishment; a written story. Beaming with joy she hands it to her mother and begs her to read it. As she watched her mother’s eyes float across the pages of work, sudden horror dawned in her mind. As the frown marred her mother’s face, she took back the pages from her mother’s hand. No questions were needed. She realised this joy trespassed on a rule. Quickly moving away as her shoulders slumped, grateful her mother said nothing. Passing by a trashcan, she let drop from her fingertips the first bits of her soul.

See, the rule broke here was fiction. I had written a story, a work of fiction. Just a year earlier, all books of fiction were removed from the house. There was no television. Radio was set only for gospel stations. What books that remained were those considered to be true, truth and religiously approved materials. And I had failed to include my own self in what was not allowed. It still puzzles me, how could the things I write be anything but truth?

In my defiance, I found a way to nurture my soul. With a teacher’s encouragement, I focused on poetry. Though poetry I could write and dance with words. With poetry, I could express my soul. As long as I was careful, I could write as I desired. My words had to be true, not something one sees as fiction. Poetry has been a wellspring, a lifeline and a much-needed love in my life.

I have many more soul damaged tales. The point is, I was taught from an early age that what I want, that my joys have no value. And nothing but religion and god was put in front of me instead. I was taught to sacrifice everything that made me, me, to that goal. These ideas, these lessons left a wake of damage across my life.

I know now children raised by damaged adults end up needing to unravel not only their damage but their parent’s damage as well. My mother’s damage was deep and she didn’t make it out of the hole that it left in her. But she knew enough that sometimes saying nothing was a blessing in disguise.

It feels odd now having no reason to lie. It feels odd I have no cause to protect my core as I had before. And it feels good.

The Question of Forgiveness

This has sat in my draft box since 30 May 2016. It’s a very angry response to the issue of forgiveness after my father’s death. It raises the hair on my arms reading this, feeling the anger roll off in waves. Time has passed and with distance, some perspective gained. At this moment in time, I’m still working on the idea of forgiveness in my head. For what I demand of others, I shall be held to account in myself.

I find it infuriating being told over and over that I need to forgive my abusers. I’ve heard many good-natured people tell me this bit of homely advice over the years. As if it’s for my own good that I should heed their advice. Well, let me tell you something, Fuck No!

I’m not sure where they get off, thinking they can pass on this tidbit of advice as if it’s the right thing to do when facing someone who absolutely refuses to forgive this crime.

It’s divine to forgive.
It’s for you that you forgive him.
You forgive so that you can move on.

Blah blah blah. It’s a crock of shit, that’s what it is. Not everything is forgivable nor should it ever be. Some things are so horrible that forgiveness is unattainable. And what is this phantom damage done to me if I don’t forgive? Oh, the old train of being able to move on with my life, the whole letting it go portion that is a part of recovery. I have moved on with my life. I don’t live in the past mixing in on my present. That’s what I’ve gained for myself, not him.

None of you get to the right to tell me or any abuse survivor that we need to forgive. It’s bullshit. It takes away our anger. It takes away the right to our anger and you don’t get to do that. I have every right to be angry and I am. As should any person who as lived with the shit I endured.

I have a right to my anger. And I have the right to not forgive him. This isn’t about being a good person and letting go of the past from a spiritual perspective. It’s about setting boundaries and standing firm.

Saying, ‘I forgive you’, is letting the other person know everything is okay, that it’s something that can be worked through and moved past. It’s something said for many things and rightfully so.

I choose to draw the line. It was my choice, my boundary. What was done to me is unforgivable. So why would I ever forgive him, either in life or in death? I will not.

And those who promote forgiveness carelessly do harm. I do not expect everyone to accept my choice. It’s been made clear to me that forgiveness is a very touchy issue.

Forgiveness isn’t acceptance. Forgiveness isn’t for yourself. It is rather the outcome of a conversation that makes restitution to the one who’s been wronged.

Say someone stole some sentimental things from me. And in the silence of this person’s actions, I become angry and upset. Is there any reason for me not to be? Say this anger upsets me so much I can’t confront this person over what they have done. Is this where forgiveness is given? Too many people I’ve met say yes. I could choose to let it go, let go of the anger. That is not the same as forgiveness. Letting it go is something done for myself, not for the other person. And let’s say this hypothetical thief, later on, confronts me and asks for my forgiveness. Now I have a choice. Have they been repetitive? Have they never stole from anyone else? Have they confessed their crimes? Have they tried to make things right with me? If the answer to each of those questions is a no, tell me why I should forgive them?

I wouldn’t be looking to restore a relationship with them. I wouldn’t be wanting to act like a friend around them. It’s not a matter of seeking revenge by withholding forgiveness. It is a statement of redemption or in this case, their lack of it. I would not forgive them. Forgiveness is wiping the slate clean, a pardon of past crimes. Restoring them to a condition of innocence, of not holding their past crimes against them. It would not be right to forgive a person who’s done nothing to earn forgiveness. To forgive carelessly opens up more doors to your own abuse. Forgive the thief in silence and he may again steal more. Forgive again, and even more is lost. Get angry. Stand your ground. Demand things change for if they do not change, no further relationship can be had with them.

Forgiveness is about relationships, you and the person who did you wrong but they must seek to repair that relationship that they broke due to their actions. Some relationships are permanently broken. Some things are simply unforgivable.

Additional Reading:

To Forgive or Not Forgive: That is the Question

Forgiveness Is Good, Up to a Point

Does “Forgiveness” Make Sense?

Why Forgiveness is Overrated

Why Being Unable To Forgive Makes You Smart, Not Weak

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture

 

Intimacy

I thought I had done shadow work before. I mean the kind of work where you work on all the icky parts of your personality.I’m fairly sure I had but this that I’m working on is different. I’m not ready to discuss it as I’m still working through it.

I’d like to share a memory instead.

There was a warm day when I was little, I think I was around six or seven and I had just left the garage. My father was still in that garage as I walked away. I was hurt and angry. More angry than I’ve ever been in my life. That anger fueled a determination that lasted over ten years. And a hate for my father that’s lasted a lifetime. That was the day I started counting down to graduating high school. I think I was only in first grade or was going to first grade.

That day is shrouded by a thick brick wall. There is a moment where everything is bright and gay and then there was me walking in extreme anger as an angel and a daemon augured on my shoulder as the sun sets. What lies between I have yet to fully recover. I suspect much. I’ve broken into the vault and gotten glimpses, seconds of memory that make no sense at all. Why would I study so hard at the dust motes? Why the pattern of black and white lines of shadow and light on my skin attract my interest? Why is the memory so far recovered only images? No sound, no scents, no emotions at all are contained in those memories.

But that day is the day I became convinced I was damned. I had two screaming, fighting voices on my shoulder and I wasn’t a part of their conversation. They were so loud I ran. I could not run far enough from them as they sat on my shoulders.

I was damned and this was proof of it. The demons my mother believed and feared in where right there corrupting me. How could the innocent be possessed? Surely that wasn’t possible, was it? Who could I have asked? I kept my mouth shut out of fear.

I think those two have always been arguing over me. I recall how loud and long their fights would be. So bad that I’d whimper down holding my head hoping they would shut up. It would be years before they choose names. And even more years before I came back. I didn’t last long. I died at 12. I didn’t return until my physical age turned 36 and a half.

Those two, the angel and daemon, the ones I call Isabella and Autumn have lived longer than me, seen more than me. In all these years I have never once asked them what they were arguing about.

That answer is a shadow I’ve yet to expose to the light of day.