Leaving The Past In The Past

Is it that easy though? To just leave the past in the past?

There’s been something running through my mind a lot lately. I am tired of being told that I need to “just forget about what happened before, you have to stop thinking about it – it’s not good for you”… Don’t you think I would much rather NOT think about it. The only thing I can do is not talk about it. In order to make others more comfortable I need to seriously filter my words. I’m not saying living in the past is healthy, but let’s face it our memories reside within us – and just trying to forget about it is both unhealthy and impossible.

I’m certainly not trying to say that everyone is this way, but in my experience growing up, being an adult, working in the social services field, having children, friendships and in family this has been a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It’s fucking impossible to not think about it. That is the kicker, the lasting wound that I am left with still many years later. It’s like asking me to scrape off my scars and start anew, fresh – if we can’t see it – it’s over.

But, you know what – it’s not over. It may not be brand new pain, I don’t need to give it all my energy. In fact I believe I have done so well managing my relentless heartache and pain. And I know I am not alone in this minute by minute, day by day, and year after year we try to heal ourselves.

I worked so hard from as long as I can remember to be better than all that and to now allow it to run – or worse ruin my chances at a better life. To be a better person, kind, forgiving, open-minded, and loving human being. I knew that my chances of coming out of it all – unscathed and a productive member of society. And to you that may seem obvious – of course we are trying to be a good person, of course we want to do well for ourselves. But this wasn’t in our reality growing up, not even one little bit. I was told from day one I was not worth the air I was taking up in this world.

For years my mother only told me how much she regretted having me. She resented my dreams to escape all that came with our family. She would ask me who that fuck did I think I was? Do you think your better than us? Cause you aren’t Carrie. You can think you are better, but you will end up just like us one day. And, well my father only referred to me as the “rat” in the family for most of my childhood well into my early twenties he blamed all that went wrong on the fact that I told people the truth. Why couldn’t I just learn to keep my big fucking trap shut??? Both my parents repeated this constantly.

You know my brother and sister both struggled the most with this. They believed that they couldn’t speak out -because our parents were beating that into our heads. They would scream into our faces that what happens in this fucking house – stays in this house! I don’t know why they were less resilient than I was, this fact eats me alive. But I believe the fact that I was given the courage to speak out is what saved my life. Talking about it saved my life. I am a resilient human being and this has served me many chances at a better life. Sometimes though, this can be a detriment to others understanding that just because I look strong, capable, fresh and brand new, years from the events that shook my world so young – just because I look ok doesn’t mean I’m not still hurting and healing.

It’s the smells in the air, a song on the radio, some story on a TV or movie show’s, it’s the everyday things I do in my day to day that triggers a memory. That memory sometimes comes with a visceral reaction, a physical pain that surges through my body. I sometimes feel like puking because I feel so “dirty” from the sexual traumas I have survived. I don’t want to think about it. I would love to find that magical pill that gave my brain and heart some rest and just wipe away all that shit. But, there again makes my point – I can’t find some easy fix to take away the symptoms caused by on-going healing of my mind and body. It’s hard work to keep going, and to be able to turn down the conversation in my head telling me I’m not worth it. Everyday I struggle in some way or another – and it’s always got this underlying deep sadness that I work so hard to overcome.

For my brother and sister they chose to do drugs and alcohol and crime to try to mask and or avoid their reality. They choose not to get help – and too use their devastating childhoods as an excuse to give up on themselves. I am positive they can still hear our parents words screaming in their heads… They still sit silent in their memories – allowing them to completely gut them inside out, killing any spirit they had coming into this world. I didn’t have any less of brutal experiences at the hands our parents than they did, but somehow I feel as though I was more stubborn maybe? Like I wouldn’t allow myself to believe this was it, I was not going to be worth anything for the rest of my life. I had to much spirit and courage to ever let that be my anthem.

This is a very long winded way of just letting it be known that because we still have symptoms of trauma and choose to talk about it doesn’t mean that we are dwelling on it. Talking about it heals me, and I believe if my brother could have found their voices -they too would have a chance at truly healing.

As a survivor – I ask that we take the time to listen to each other’s stories. That we give each other the courage to find their voices, even when sometimes it’s uncomfortable or sad. Acknowledgement goes a long way in the healing process. Not feeling shame or embarrassment by what we have endured – but the strength in our truth and our actions. Letting others see our pain and vulnerability helps to take that shame and deep sadness away, little by little. Keeping it in the past is sometimes not that easy. Sometimes we need to just talk about it – let it out and let it go.

My experiences in life don’t dictate who I am going to be, but they do have a lot to do with who I am right now. I am who I am today because of all I have survived. It doesn’t excuse anything but I am hoping it explains my many different areas of struggle.

April 19, 1988

The following is an excerpt from my Ministry File, no words have been changed or altered.   

April 19, 1988

Dear Mr. :

Thank you for referring nine year old Carrie Bush.  The child is seen in the office for a period of just over three hours.  She was brought to the office by her social worker, Karen Zilkie.

INTERVIEW

Carrie is a very pretty, blonde haired child.  She seemed quite comfortable in the office.  In interview , she was direct and forthright in responding to my questions.  She co-operated fully when taking the psychological exam.

This child is tense and nervous.  She has a low frustration level.  Like may disturbed children, she reports that she often feels angry but she does not know why.  She experiences stomach aches and headaches.  I asked her when she gets these symptoms and she responded, “When I run too much or eat too much my dad punches me”.

Carrie reports before she was apprehended, she lived in a house with her twelve year old brother, Jason.  She states that a girl named Jude lives in the basement of the house.

According to Carrie, her older sister, Teresa, was taken away and adopted because she was beaten by her parents.  Carrie stated that her parents used to lock Teresa in a cupboard.  She said, “I used to let her out”.  Carrie reports that she has been in foster homes three times before her parents beat her.  She states that her parents also beat her brother, but that her brother does not want to leave home so he “will not tell” .   She states that her parents have told her that she should not tell either.

Although Carrie reports that both parents beat her, it seems that Mr. Bush is the most frequent offender.  Carrie says that he is “real mean”.  She states that he beats the dogs too.

This child has been in an environment where there is a great deal of marijuana smoking and alcohol drinking.  She says “we would have a lot of money if my dad didn’t smoke drugs”.  She reports that friends come over to the house and her dad buys drugs from them.  She names Jude downstairs and a certain Luke and Susie who bring the drugs.  She calls the drugs “pot”.  She reports that one day she got beat because she did not look for “roaches”.  I asked her to draw a “roach” for me and she drew what looked to be a cigarette butt.

There does not appear to be much money or food in the home of this child.  She reports that they hardly ever eat anything but sandwiches or Kraft dinner. At her foster home she says she gets sandwich meat and lettuce and other things.

When I asked the child where her parents got their money she said, “that’s a funny thing, they phone someone and say “that need money because they have three children, two , four, six , and they have no food to eat”.  The child states that she does not understand this.

In my opinion, this child has also been sexually abused in her parent’s home.  Using the anatomically correct puppet dolls, she demonstrated how her parents have sex on the carpet in their living room.  She says, “they are drunk and out of their minds”.  When I asked her if her dad hurt her mom she said “no, they like it”.  She said that she and her brother watch.  She reports that her brother says “wow look at that”.  Then when her parents are out of the house, he forces her to have sex with him.  He takes her clothes off and holds her down and inserts his penis in her vagina.  She says it hurts. When I asked her if she got wet when this was happening she said “sometimes”.  When I asked her where she got wet, she said, “where he puts it”.  She does not know the correct names for the genitalia.

When asked if anyone has ever done to her what her brother does, Carrie responded that a man names Claude who was baby-sitting her did it.  She demonstrated how she was lying in her nightie watching TV when he came and rubbed her on the perineal area.  According to her he also penetrated her vagina digitally.

A technique I use to determine the person to whom a child is most closely bonded is to ask them to draw me a picture of their most favorite adult.  This child was not sure whom to draw but eventually she drew a picture of her current foster mother, Heidi.  This indicates that she is not strongly bonded to anyone for she has not know Heidi for long.  There is some emotional bonding to her parents however.  When I mentioned that she had recently had a birthday she said that it was a terrible birthday because she was not with her family.  She said, “I’m going miserable without them”.  However, she does not wish to return to a home where she is beaten.

PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS

WECHSLER INTELLIGENCE SCALE FOR CHILDREN REVISED (WISC-R)

The WICR(R) test results indicate that Carrie of average intelligence.  Her full scale I.Q. score is 96.  Her I.Q. on the verbal part of the WISC(R) is 95 and on the Performance part is 100.

There is no significant difference between the Verbal and Performance I.Q.  but there is significantly low score on the Information subtest of the Verbal part.  This suggests that the child is not learning in school.  She told me that she is kept home from school “when I get child abuse”.  When I ask why, she replies, “because I have bruises”.

SEXUAL ABUSE INVENTORY (SAS)

The Sexual Abuse Inventory is an 81 item true/false questionnaire which has been designed for children ages seven to seventeen.  the questionnaire was designed to elicit information about the child’s feelings of tension, self worth, family support, moral development and sexual involvement.

Responses indicate that this child is experiencing emotional tension and anxiety.  She reports depression and worry.  She feels that she  needs more love and attention than she gets.  She does not believe things will turn out well for her.

The child reports no support in her home.  She did not trust her father.  She answers “true” to the question, “I wish I had a different father”. She indicates that she would rather have been raised in a different family.

Her responses to items about specific sexual acts indicates that she has been involved in sexual acts which include fondling of the breast and perineal area and penetration of the vagina.

As a result of this child’s moral development, she feels guilty about the abuse.  She feels that children should not have sex until they are at least sixteen years old.  She does not enjoy talking about sex.  She feels that she has been used by others.

SUMMARY

Carrie Bush is a disturbed youngster.  She is anxious and depressed.  Feelings of anger sometimes overwhelm her.  She does not understand the reason why she feels this way.  She is not strongly bonded to anyone.  She looks for affection and attention where ever she can find it.

It is my opinion that this child needs protection from the physical and sexual abuse which I believe she has experienced in the home of her parents.  At the present time and for the next few years of her life, her emotional problems will require special attention.

Please call if you have questions.

 

Yours Truly,

Monica D. Angus, Ph.D

Consulting Psychologist.

 

 

Lost Entry

It`s been a few weeks since I have been able to get my ass in front of this computer to blog – I was feeling overwhelmed by my previous post regarding a former foster parent (Wayne Haydamack) and the sexual abuse that started at the age of 8 and lasting another four years.  I have no memory of what made Wayne finally give up with me- however I do know the abuse lasted 4 more years before the ministry was finally able to sever all forms of contact between Wayne and myself.   More importantly however is that my previous blog on Wayne is the first time I have ever written, talked or openly shared my memories pertaining to any sexual assaults on me – as a child.  I can’t believe sometimes that I am so afraid to write and talk about the sexual abuse, I thought I was fearless, I was a survivor? Yet many years later my mind, heart, body…fingers even fight with the keyboard to get the words out. 

Funny thing is,  I used to think and share my opinion to others that I really was not that affected from the numerous sexual violations I endured as a child.  In fact, for the first 30 years of my life I truly made light of the act of rape.   I had made a complaint sexually assaulted many times over, and over again – I do remember But, four years is a very long time for an eight year old girl I feel like I have been really struggling lately.  It`s almost as if I am lost in my own skin .  Not many people in my life know the battle going on inside my brain, body and soul lately, or how bad it has really gotten.  I feel unfocused in my goals, where I was so clear for most of my life.   I was always confident that I was going to have any life I worked for.  I always had big dreams that started as a very young child. 

I`m finding myself feeling lonely a lot lately, in fact I would say that the past 3 years have been the  saddest times in my adult life.  Even though I have had friends and family that have been there for me.  Those that love me , those that I love so dearly in return; amazing husband, three beautifully delicious children, can’t leave out our little pooch “Rosco“ – all tidied up in a bow…so to the naked eye out there, I bet you would start praising me right away.  OK , I made it technically.  Saying that I ‘made it’ is usually what people say when they hear even a  fragment of my story. 

I am very blessed, and recognize how lucky I am to have loyal, loving husband that works very hard to provide for our family.  He helps to ensure our children grow up in a safe, supportive, and loving home. My children never go without.  They even have their very own beautifully furnished and painted to their liking.  For example; my oldest daughter has a beautiful pink room, with a white canopy bed (with the actual pink canopy) and the dresser and side table to match.  Each has their own color, at first it was what I wanted, however now that the kids are getting older they have more say how their room looks.  I digress.

What I really want to say is that I am very aware of how blessed I am to be in the situation that I am.  When I start to show weakness, others are quick to remind me of how lucky I am… you know, considering.  Well, I do know.  I am currently beating the odds – and should be celebrating all the cycles I have broken all the while remembering to thank god that for my unwavering sense of resilience.  It was always one of my best qualities; the ability to get the fuck back up on my feet and keep fighting.  I did it because I could.  I refused to allow myself to become a part of that cycle.

At a young age I started to compare my “resilience“ or as I understood it to mean my strength in coping and healing was to one of those blow up clown, that no matter how hard you try to knock that fucker down – it just keeps popping back up really for another blow.  That’s me, that clown balloon. 

But, at times I feel as though my family made the easy choice.  They just get drunk, high and have very little respect for themselves – but mostly they just don`t give a fuck about what anybody else feels about who they are or what they do.  They don`t work.  In fact, they feel entitled to say the government, and everyone in the fucking world owes them.  Then they can spend up an entire lifetime spewing hate and anger to the very ones that are after all – paying their living expenses.  All of my immediate family has been on welfare from the get go.  Their clown balloon deflates though, it`s covered in masking tape, trying in vain to keep them in the game and able to fight for their own existence. 

But they were weak, all of them.  Sometimes I just think that being weak, and allowing myself to be broken, shattered so badly that I gave up – well that’s the easy route.  My sister gave in.  My heart aches when I say that, I have guilt that weighs heavy in my heart that I am sure will be with me until I die.  She is broken, completely shattered, leaving her empty inside and unable to see the beautiful soul she really is.  She is an IV drug user/addict (crack, meth, heroin, crystal meth, cocaine…) and a sex worker in various towns throughout the lower mainland, such as Surrey & DTES Vancouver.  

Then there is my brother, J, who is four years older than I am.  By the time J was 21 years of age he already had a murder conviction along with several sexual assault convictions.  But even before those crimes, my brother was sexually abusing me when I was 7 years of age.  I always say that my parents raised him to be a killer. They raised him to be cold.  Never cry.  Fuck them before they fuck you.  He began to enjoy the suffering of the vulnerable.  There should be no surprise that my brother ended up being so violent giving the extent of abuse that he was forced to endure for the first 18 years of life. They broke him.  The last time I saw my brother in person he was being tried for murdering a man in Maple Ridge in 1995.  Even though my brother was in custody, in shackles behind a very thick plexi glass; I was terrified.  At one point during the trial Jason noticed I was in the courtroom watching and this made him very angry.  He glared hard at me; I knew he hated me already because I told on him for sexually abusing me – but this was so much more intense.  He made a very clear ‘slitting of the throat motion with his cuffed wrists looking dead at me. 

To be honest, I did not realize his trial was being held at that court room or courthouse before getting there with a high school law class on a field trip.  Some of my classmates started coming up too me shortly after arriving at the courthouse saying that they believed that my brother is in one of the court rooms.  Students were already in seated and silent, in amazement that they knew the sister of the defendant that brutally murdered someone just to see what it felt like to watch someone die.  I myself couldn’t believe it was happening. 

I need to explain as well how the hate and or punishment were dispersed between me and my siblings.   From the age of approx.…4 years of age I have reoccurring memories of the clear biases that my parents had in terms of us; their three children. This is something I can say for sure though; my brother was treated differently from my sister and I entirely.  My parents often referred to my brother as a ‘King’,  this was simply due to the fact  that my brother was a male. I don’t ever recall hearing my father say this – but I do have several memories of my mom explaining to me how she and our father felt about each of us.  Our brother was a boy, therefor he would be excused from a variety forms of corporal punishments each of us would receive from either parent.  My mom would say that boys do not need to be hit as often, as girls are naughty and they don’t always understand how important it is too listen.  She would sometimes say that girls were more sneaky, conniving and more inclined to rat out their family.  From as early as I can remember my father has always despised my sister.  I have flashes of conversations between my natural mother and I discussing my sister.  I was always very cautious talking about my sister to anyone of my family members; but especially my mother and father.  Many, many times throughout the years I can recall both my mother and father making snide comments when referring to the time she was forced to live in a closet and bet tortured without any sign of mercy.    

When T was at the age of 7 she ran away – she was quickly found and apprehended permanently from our mother and father. For the following seven years I always wondered and worried over how my sister was doing.   I worried about her. I missed her, and that’s hard even for me to understand because all my memories are with her both locked in my parents’ bedroom closet, and slivers of flashbacks to the many beatings and even witnessing her being forced to eat her own feces.  She was made to eat her own poo because she went to the ‘toilet’ within her small bedroom closet that was her world.  I know that she would be in there day and night.  Sometimes they would allow her to come into my bedroom, but usually that was too standing in the corner and wait for her next ass whooping.  After nearly two years of horrific abuse that my sister endured, she was finally supposed to be safe.  I remember believing that she was doing so well.  My mother told me that she only went there because they offered horseback riding, ballet, and other fancy activities and belongings that we for sure would not be able to enjoy if we were still in our home.  

The way I see it is that my sister has a target on her back.  How can my mom and dad already have decided that Teresa was more of a burden than they had planned? My mom has said too me several times when I question why my father hated my sister SO much.  I can honestly say that to this day I still do not understand where this deep rooted resentment and hate stemmed from.     

It’s Not A Pretty Story…

I am up late like most nights of course, it’s incredibly difficult for me to shut my brain off most nights.  Going to sleep also means facing the unknown – or the forgotten – all while I am supposed to be resting.  As I have mentioned before, I have the worst night tares – most of my nights.  My dreams are so vivid, painful and mostly exhausting.  They have the ability to absolutely ruin my whole day, week or more…  My therapist tells me that while I dream I am actually working through my shit.  I am more able to go through that trauma while asleep – it’s near impossible to really get into it while I am awake.  It’s too painful.  Mostly, it’s too real and unbelievable at the same time.  I hope I am making some sense… Other survivors must know what I am describing.  They often cause a visceral reaction when I wake up, and sometimes throughout the day the feeling of filth, dirt, and shame sit on my skin and fresh in my mind.

Today one of my nightmares was real, and it was in my face.  I left my work after a long twelve hour shift.  I was exhausted and looking forward to the next few days which I have off. I wasn’t paying much attention until she got my attention.  As I was walking towards my vehicle I looked up and saw my mother standing across the street from me smoking.  I don’t think I have ever turned my body so fast.  It was seconds that had passed that I went from feeling peace to feeling utter fear.  My body immediately began to shake from the inside out…I felt as though I was going to either puke or pee myself.  My mother scares me like no one else.  I know that she is capable to anything… and I know that I bring out a special kind of anger in my mom.  I was afraid that she would say something too me like she always done when she gets the opportunity.  No matter what my mom says – it’s guaranteed to instill fear and a deep routed feeling that I am worthless.

As I was making my way back into work – into safety – my mind and body started to play flashbacks of when I was very young.  The memory was so intense I swear I could smell it, I could feel it.  I was remembering when my mom was attacked by my father with a large knife.  I can see my parents in front of the TV – it was one of those old big ones that had mostly wood around them, that sat on the floor. I was sitting on the couch watching the TV, watching cartoons.  It was very early in the am.  No one had gone to bed yet, they had been up the entire night drinking and partying.   I can remember the living room and dining room was full of stinky empty beer bottles.  This is not a “new” memory, but I have never remembered it like this before.

My mom and dad were on the floor in front of the TV that I was watching cartoons on.  I was told to sit there.  Sometimes my parents made me watch them while they had sex or watched porn.  When a social worker talked about this with my parents – of course they denied it with a strong warning that I was a fucking liar.  But, my mom knew I wasn’t lying…and eventually the workers knew it too.  I knew too much, more than any kid my age should know.  When I was questioned how I knew they were actually having sex I remember replying with a description of how my mom always had her leg positioned during the act.  As vulgar as this sounds – my mom ALWAYS lifted one of her legs in the air.  Every time I saw them doing it – my mom was always on the bottom with her one left straight up in the air.  I said this once in front of the social worker and my parents.  The look on my moms face was clear.  She was humiliated.  She laughed, tried to make it all seem harmless – and sometimes she just blamed it all on me.  I was the pervert.  I liked to watch.

I know I just went off track a bit – but I think it’s really important I explain myself so you can’t read this any other way – other than how it was.  My parents had no boundaries with us.  We saw and heard too much for our young selves. We were forced to be apart of horrific violence and ongoing abuse.  I sometimes feel like no one in my life could possibly understand the level of violence and trauma I survived.  I survived – but over thirty years later the memory stops me in my tracks.  It makes me feel alone, ashamed, angry, sad…and hopeless.

As I walked away from my mom today I flashed back to that morning.  I see a lot of blood.  I can smell it even.  I know it’s strange to say – but as my brain recalled the memory, it’s like my body went right back to that moment.

They were having sex… then for some reason my mom started to fight with my dad.  She often talked down to him and I would say even tried to provoke my dad into a fight.  I cant remember what set it off – but I know that while my dad was still on top of my mom he grabbed a large butcher knife that was on the coffee table beside them with his right hand and swung it over his head and down onto my moms face.  I can remember my mom trying to stop it and screaming at him..I see her arm trying to block the blow.

My dad had stabbed my mom right between the eyes.  To this day she had a deep scar between her eyebrows.  I am actually grateful for that scar – it’s lets me know that my memories are real.  That as insane as the whole experience was – it was real.

My dad stood up, I can remember him doing up his belt.  He was still drunk, not steady on his feet.  He was breathing heavy, and telling her to look at what she did.  For her too look at what she made him do.  I can recall my dad snickering too himself and my mom started to panic and scream.  My mom was wearing a night gown that was white with red sleeves, with a black drawing of snoopy.  As I remembered this today it was as though I could smell the blood, that I could feel the cold and wet nightgown rubbing against my arms.  I remember as I dragged my mom from the house and out onto the front lawn of our home just in shock that she was covered in blood.  What was once a white nightgown was now drenched in bright red blood, the fabric sticking itself too me as I dragged her to safety.  The blood was squirting from her face.  My mom was screaming..my dad was no where to be seen at this point.  I know my brother was inside the house with him.  He always staying with my dad, he was always on his side. In fact he often laughed and cheered on my father as he beat our mother.  I can recall hiding in one of our bedroom closets while the violence escalated – I was crying, shaking – I was terrified.  Jason was laughing… he was enjoying it.  I guess he was a lot like my father in that way.  My dad often found it humerus how we flinched or begged for his mercy.  And, when I was a lot older I had conversations with my dad about how he used to beat my mom pretty bad – and he still thought it was hilarious.   He would brag about how her head sounded hitting the wall, floor or against his boots.

My next memory of that day was all the people from the neighborhood coming out of their homes to watch the nightmare unfold.  No one ever helped…I think they saw it too often, and it was also a time that people didn’t get involved.   What happened behind peoples doors what their business.  They were just there to watch… I remember the police taking my dad away, and the ambulance taking my mom too.  I know that we were not removed that day – so I know we went back with our parents.  My mom didn’t leave my dad from that…she always went back..and scary enough – so did we.

I don’t know why that memory came to me today when I saw my mom.  Maybe it’s to remind me that she is not as powerful as I allow my mind and body to believe.  I have no idea.  In all fairness though – like she kinda is all powerful!  All the evil she has done and she is allowed to have a great life – despite the fact that she has three kids out there that are damaged and suffering still.  Each time I see her, or hear from her  I am right back to my child self – afraid.  Every time I see her I only feel fear.  I feel it with all of my being.  She represents all that I have tried so hard to escape, that I am still trying to escape.  I want to feel free of my family, I want them to let me go.  I don’t want to see my abusers walking about in my world…as cliche as it sounds – it’s just not fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Too…

Some thing happened to me.  It changed who I see – I no longer see me.  I hate who I see when I look at myself…  It has literally been years since I felt the unwavering faith I used to have in myself.  I would give anything to feel that way again.

I miss the person I used to be in so many ways.  I miss being confident and sure of my chances in survival, success and happiness.  I long for the days I felt useful, powerful, and capable.  Now I am drained.  The fog has lifted – and now I am forced to face the truth and it’s painful to see.  Now I find it a challenge some days to even convince myself I’m worth sticking around, that its going to be OK.  I feel like the very last monkey in the barrel – all the other monkeys escaped to bigger better lives – and I am left at the bottom too fucking weighed down by guilt and self hatred.  No one can get out of the barrel thinking that way.  And yes by the way, yes I know how pathetic and dramatic I sound.  Doesn’t change it though.

Since a young child I believed that I was damaged goods – to gross and dirty for those pearly gates.    If I am too truly believe in God’s expectations from us – then I have already failed a million times over again and again… I believe this even more strongly since I have gone through the Catholic classes and got baptized in a catholic church.  On the day of my baptism the priest felt so afraid I would show up with my breast exposed – and in his words  – he was afraid I would cause weak men to lust after me.  The feeling of filth and dirt that I have carried throughout my life from very young was triggered that moment.   I have been trying to rid myself of that feeling since the first time someone touched me sexually.  I want to literally scrub my body raw of the filth.

What is it about myself that makes even a priest feel that way about me.  I can promise you that I NEVER showed up to a catholic classes with my breast exposed in any manner.  The conversation with the church representative that day managed to taint my whole experience once again.  Just when I was starting to believe that it really wasn’t me that caused those awful things to happen I was reminded once again what people ultimately think when they see me.  I used to be better at  fighting off that filthy feeling. However in the past few years this has been an impossible battle to conquer.

Something happened to me nearly five years ago, and it’s changed almost every thing in my world.  Mostly, it’s changed the way I feel about myself.  I guess we could say it was the straw that broke the camels back.  Everyone always talks about how strong I am, how I can survive anything.  I agree, it’s been a true blessing how resilient I have been.  I have survived – and up until this horrible incident I was thriving.   Now I am stuck.  It’s gone on too long, I’ve lost so many friends and “family”… Most of my tight circle of loved ones and supporters ceased to want to be around me anymore.  Not because they were bad friends – but because I let them down.  They were used to the Carrie that would jump back up and keep going in the RIGHT direction.  Not the Carrie that just seemed to give up – act out – and constantly be numbing herself.  In the past 5 years I have been in the business of numbing out myself.

Five years ago I was sexually assaulted in my home.  I feel overwhelmed even just writing that down. It’s not the first time I have been sexually abused in my life – but it was the first time as an adult.  To describe it would be to say that when it was happening too me I was transformed into my child self.  I felt utterly powerless.  Mostly though my brain thoughts and the ability to cope through the entire experience just stopped cold.  I was terrified and felt responsible.

I kept feeling angry with myself that I must have somehow brought this on myself.  Then I tried to handle it myself.  Worst mistake ever.   I acted like it wasn’t a big deal to myself when it started.  I would have conversations with myself about how this is not something new, I have dealt with this before – I can handle it just like I did many many times during my childhood.  After all, if I was able to handle violent rapes as a young child – surely I could handle AND move on from what was happening now.  I’m the girl that can survive anything, I’ve proved it time and time again.  I felt ashamed.  I felt afraid.  I was embarrassed that I handled it poorly too…

His name was Pedro.  He moved into our basement suite with his wife and child two months prior to this incident.  As far as we knew – Pedro spoke very little English.  At the time of the incident his wife and child had gone to Chili a week prior for vacation – leaving Pedro at home alone.  It was January 1, morning time.  I was home alone when I received a call from Pedro on my cell – he said in very broken English that he needed me to come fix the Fuse Box – as his power went out.  We had a history of having to do this for our renters because our house was older and had a pretty shitty wiring.  So I didn’t sense any danger or concern.  However, almost seconds after entering the suite I knew something was not right.  The fuse box was located in a tiny slim nook at the back wall in the kitchen.  I was already half in the area when I could hear the door shut and lock.  Before I could fully get out of the nook I felt Pedro on my back.

As I allow my thoughts to return to that moment – I can recall being stunned.  So many thoughts were racing through my mind in so little time.  I was confused, scared .. EVEN at this moment I though it must be a joke.  He can’t be serious I thought.  With my back to him his had his hands on my face and waist.  He was grabbing, groping with what felt like heavy, hard hands.  He was so strong I thought.  I quickly realized when I could turn that he was completely naked.  I tried to push away from him, but I was frozen in fear.  I could feel myself shaking.  He forced me up against his kitchen table, all the while groping at my body all over – he kept saying how much he knew I liked what he was doing.  In his broken English he said “I like your body, come on let me do it… oh your so beautiful…” I kept saying No, please NO… I don’t want this..”  He wasn’t listening.  He was getting more excited I think just by me fighting him.  He was laughing at me struggle.  It was not long after this that something in my mind just hit me.. This man is going to rape me.  I can remember saying to myself, your going to be raped – and your a grown woman.  Snap out of it Carrie.  I was so afraid.  As a child I learned that fighting it was the worst most scary choice – because I was little, and no one was ever going to save me then.  I had to survive the only way I could – to live through the experience, to take it.  But this time was different.

Something in me snapped.  I was able to remember that I was an adult, this didn’t have to be the same.  Adrenaline took over and I was able to get angry…I pushed my back up with all my strength and turned to push him as hard as I could.  He fought me a bit, he was able to grab my arms again – he shook me screaming “NO”.  I told him to get the fuck off of me, I screamed NO again ripping my arms from his grip and again pushing him as far back as I could, as hard as I could.  I was able to get to the door and unlock the door and escape.

As I was running towards my back stairs so I can get into my home he yelled at me – but this time with excellent English.  It stopped me in my tracks actually.  I looked back at him as he said “Carrie, I know your secret…now you know mine! Keep your fucking mouth shut!”  That statement changed the way I dealt with the entire situation.

Pedro was referring to him catching me a few days prior secretly smoking a joint on my back deck.  He came home, and saw me before I could hide it.  He smiled at me, but didn’t say anything as usual – I thought because of his supposed poor English.  I just smiled back, and made a shh should while putting my finger on my mouth – trying to convey it was a secret.  I said “husband doesn’t know…he would kill me.” He smiled back, nodding his head.  “OK.”  That was the most conversation Pedro and I had ever had with each other.

I can tell you that I was extremely afraid for my husband to find out that I was smoking marijuana.  Not because I believe I was wrong for doing it – I used marijuana for my PTSD, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. I know there is great debate and opinions from many – that are see marijuana as a bad drug, this includes my husband.  He is against it, and would not tolerate even talking about it – let alone allow me to use it for medicinal purposes.  I feared ultimately that he would divorce me if he found out.  He did after all say that to me when I did try to approach the topic.  So I was doing it in secrecy, praying that I would never get caught.

I don’t want to dwell too much on the Mary Jane issue…but I need to explain why I would be so scared to tell my husband.  I knew – well I should say I believed that he would be more mad at the smoking issue than he would be about the fact that I was attacked.  I was more afraid that after all this – I could end up not only attacked but also single.  For some reason I couldn’t trust that I could tell my husband the whole truth and he would still love and support me.  I believe these fears along with my long history of sexual abuse is what kept me from speaking out immediately.  Instead, I chose to try to manage it on my own.  Honestly, I thought it was over.  I never knew that he would torment me for the next two weeks until I was forced to report.  I thought if I kept my mouth shut and stayed clear of him it would all just go away.

The only soul I told was a girl friend of mine that I was pretty close too at the time.  We texted several times a day, visited several times a week even. Right after the first attack I texted her.  I told her what happened.  She called me and tried to convince me to tell someone – my husband especially.  I was hysterical, shaking and convinced I had no other option but to try to just ignore it – I was afraid he would not believe me, that he would find out about my mj use and that he would or could really hurt Pedro – and ending up in jail himself.  I was in shock.

I wanted so badly to tell – not telling was inevitably going to make this entire situation much more dangerous, and much worse for everyone involved.  For the next two weeks there were several instances where Pedro was still harassing me.  He wouldn’t take no for an answer…looking back at it now I can see how by my not telling right away he was able to gain a larger sense of power over me.

During the whole ordeal I continued to correspond with the friend I had originally shared with.   In the end, this was the only proof I had with the Police, Crown Council and my husband to show that I was not lying.  With each interaction I was forced to have with Pedro over the next two weeks I had told my friend about it via text.  The police also had mine and Pedro’s text/call logs.  It showed that I NEVER called Pedro, or responded to his texts other than to ask him to stop, please leave me alone – that I was not interested.

If Pedro knew I was home alone – he would often shut off my power using the breaker box that he previously acted as though he did not know how to use.  He would text me that if I would just come down stairs he would turn it on, or stop the harassment all together.  One time my son came to my room and said that Pedro was at the back door.  I told him to go play in his room, while I went to talk to Pedro.  By the time I got to the back door – Pedro was standing there completely naked, holding his red shorts and tank top in one hand while jerking off with his other.   There were more instances where he would knock, call or text me.

I was afraid of what would come next with Pedro.  It didn’t seem to be dissipating at all, in fact he seemed to becoming more aggressive and demanding each day.  Towards the end of the two weeks of on-going harassment he had sent me a text saying that if I was willing to send him a tit pic – only then would he back off.  It’s incredibly hard for me to even write out – but I was feeling desperate – I sent it.  It didn’t stop anything, instead he continued the harassment – and now I was left feeling attacked again.

I was feeling stupid, hopeless, angry with myself…terrified at what this meant now.  Even though there was a trail that showed all the conversation where I was begging him to leave me alone, and that I didn’t want to do any of what he wanted from me – I felt trapped.  I realized when even after the pic – after he promised to leave me alone forever – that he had no plans to back off.  He had threatened me that he would tell my husband about catching me smoking pot if I didn’t agree.  He was in a way blackmailing me.  I couldn’t see a way out, regardless of how simple it seemed to all others.  I just wanted out of the mess.  I wanted to have my life back.  I was afraid to be home. I was afraid of what he was going to do next.  I was afraid to tell my husband and loved ones how far I had let it get – knowing they would be so disappointed in me.  To everyone it seems so fucking obvious that I was wrong to try to handle it on my own, that I do in fact know better than keep a secret let alone to try to placate or appease this predator.  And, when it came out – a lot of people were very angry with me for how I handled it.  But no matter how angry and disappointed you were – I was double that on myself, I can assure you that.

I ended up disclosing the incident to two dear friends of both me and my husband.  They are RCMP officers – so once I disclosed I was immediately driven to the RCMP dispatch to file an official complaint.  I was so afraid of coming clean about the marijuana, and how I had so stupidly tried to handle Pedro’s unwanted advances.

Fortunately, the RCMP were more than good with me.  I could tell that they genuinely believed my statement.  They immediately arrested Pedro.  I asked my husbands friend (the RCMP officer) to tell my husband what had happened.  He tried explaining to my husband that I had not done anything wrong, that I was the victim in this.  My husband was angry with Pedro for sure, but he didn’t know what or how to feel about me and my actions in this whole thing.

All my friends and family kept asking – or drilling into me was why would I let it get so out of control? Why didn’t I tell?  Why would I send that pic?  Someone even told me how stupid I was to do so…like I didn’t know that.  I knew it then even, but I also was reacting out of fear.  I can say again that I feel as though I was handling the situation as though I were a child again.  I just wanted to make it go away without making anyone angry with me.

Pedro’s wife came home the next day from Cuba.  She came home to an empty home, and a message on her cell from Pedro stating that he was in jail.  She was very angry with me.  I had not gone home yet, I was staying with my mother in law at the time until Pedro would be completely removed from the home.  My husband was at the home gathering some items for us at home when I guess the wife approached him.  She was very angry, and telling him that I was having an affair with her husband – that I was just a scorned lover in this whole thing, not a victim of sexual assault and harassment.  My husband was so confused and distraught – and angry already with how I chose to handle it that he called me from his cell phone crying and yelling at me – asking how could I do this too him?  He questioned my story – stating that the wife was there and was telling her that I sent the picture during a love affair.

My husband then allowed Pedro’s wife to talk to me on his phone at that moment.  She called me a fucking whore, a liar, a bitch.  Over and over again she insulted me.  All the while my husband just stood there and let her say all those things.  He really didn’t believe me.  He just could not understand why I had handled it the way I did – so it seemed for believable that I was having an affair on him and made the whole assault, blackmail, and harassment up.

My husband did not fully believe me until the crown council reported that everything I was saying was backed up by the text messages sent back and forth with myself and pedro and myself and my friend.  I also had gone to see my family doctor after the assault and reported it there so they had that evidence as well.  To be brutally honest, I still don’t know for sure if he believes me 100%, though he says he does.  I took my husband to see my therapist after this whole incident took place.  I needed for her to explain why an abuse victim might deal with it differently – how especially in my case why I would be more afraid to tell… We also went there to process the whole mj topic.  I felt that he was in fact more upset about the usage of mj than the attack.  He just said that he didn’t want his wife around drugs, that he didn’t want his children around drugs.  He did not want to know why – just that I would never do it again.

So… that’s it.  Those are the events that transpired nearly five years ago that have deeply impacted my life since.  So much about that whole ordeal traumatized me – so much more than I ever expected it too.  After all, I had already survived so much sexual trauma since a very young child – I felt as though I should be used to it.  I thought I would be able to put it away, and move forward with my life.  It has been the exact opposite though.  I am drenched with that sickening dirty feeling now…it has not dissipated at all.  I hate myself so much for how I handled it – how I made it seem like I deserved it in a way by not telling, by sending a pic that I did not want to… It also changed my marriage.  I did not feel safe to disclose what happened when it happened for several reasons, and I don’t think how people reacted to it afterwards made it any different for me.  I would still be afraid to tell.  I don’t think I could handle another confrontation like the one I had with Pedro’s wife and my husband that day on the phone.  I still play that over and over in my head to this day.  It made me feel disgusting.  It made it harder to forgive my self.

Even though it was nearly five years ago, I still think about it every day.  I still cry to myself thinking how I wished I was braver then – that I had done things differently.  I can’t seem to move on.  I am so sad, and angry.. It makes it hard to not be able to talk about it with my partner.  It is too hard for him to hear about it, if and when I bring it up it is quickly squashed and swept under rug.  It has kept me in this lonely space…  I’m not giving up though.  I’ll keep looking for the silver lining in this whole thing, always trying to learn something even if it’s from an awful something.  I’m trying to forgive, especially myself.