To Believe or Not To Believe… It’s About More Than That Though.

Oh, so you don’t believe me?

I think one of the hardest parts of being a survivor of any or all the horrific and traumatic abuse I endured is the fact that most of the people that I share my story with rarely believe me.  Sure, they give me the usual head nod, “omg” … but then it just turns into a sarcastic disbelief.  Most times they say they believe you 100%, but soon you find out they thought you had to be making it up all along.  Then, to top off calling me a liar in so many words – they say something else so infuriating; “Well, it couldn’t have been that bad – look at you now..”  Oh, so because I found resilience and strength it is no longer possible to have gone through any or all of it? How is that fair? And then because I am living my life the best I can – although I am still struggling every day – just because I am not in jail, a junkie or worse then someone can not imagine how that is possible… sometimes they say that they could never survive an ounce of what I had to bare.  In which I always respond – it is incredible what our bodies and soul can actually heal from, and I am forever blessed to have been given the balls to do so.

I have 8 large boxes that are full of my life story – provided by the Ministry of Children and Families, and then all the extra research that was done by my lawyer who took on my case against the Ministry.  It is full of doctors reports, social worker notes/reports, court documents, police incidents and so much more that took place in my life dating back to when I was nearly six months old.  Those files are so important to me because of the fact that they provide solid tangible proof of my history.  Regardless of what anyone thinks – I have proof.  Regardless of what ever I may tell myself sometimes – I know that I can go into my closet and pull out my files and see for my own eyes that it was all true.  And, regardless of what anybody thinks there is a reason I continue to talk about what happened.
I did survive it…it was not ever just a sad story I would share to get sympathy or attention.  Or as my mother has been telling me and anyone else that will let it slip through her lips that I have been lying all this time just so I could get put into the system in order to get “things”.  She says I wanted toys, new clothes and all the things I must have seen other people get.  So I came up with this elaborate story to be able to find a parent who would buy me things.
I guess one question I have for her story – and so many others who think I am flat out liar; how the fuck does a 6 year old know about sex?  Sorry for the anger in my tone…but really… Do you know a six year old fluent in blow job techniques?  How did I end up with so many bruises, lacerations, rips and tares that were shown in pictures and doctor exam forms?  Did I make those up?  All for toys?? All for a fucking haircut??
I know this is an old issue, and at my age why should it matter what people believe or not.  However recently it came up in a very real painful way and it’s left me feeling freshly wounded, raw and angry even.  Let me explain…
A few months ago I was in the middle of an argument between my husband and his Aunt.  It was a silly argument, but at the time it was very heated.  During this argument I said that she was flat out lying about something she had JUST said moments before – which is when she blurted out that I was a liar too.  I said tell me what I lie about, because I knew there was nothing I had ever said to this women that was a lie.  This is when she said it.  Her next statement to me would rip open every half healed trauma that lived in my body, soul and mind.  And she was so sure of herself…smug even.
She said, “We all know you lied about what happened to you in your childhood, we know that couldn’t have happened to you!”
After being a part of this family for nearly 17 years, I can honestly say her statement shocked me to my core.  I felt like the whole world just dropped all around me, that I was left standing there all by myself.  I could hear my husband asking her how she could say such a thing, after all we had been through.  I heard him bringing up the fact that I had been to court, been on the news – evidence heard and seen to prove I was not lying…  Yes, I thought.  Exactly.  How could she say such a hurtful and cruel blanket statement like that?
Truth is … she still has no idea how painful her words were to me.  I know they are just words.  But I thought they knew me, really knew me.  My husbands family are incredibly important to me.  And I can honestly say I thought they believed in me, and my story.  It was a different kind of heartbreak for me this time.  And the aftermath of the fight just solidified how I feel about myself and my role in my “family”.
Unfortunately, I responded poorly to my aunt-in-law after her comment to me.  I called her a fucking bitch.  And, even though she tried to take back her comment once she saw how much destruction it ultimately caused, the damage was done.  And, even worse – once the rest of the family heard of the fight, it was clear they only heard that I had called our Aunt a fucking bitch.  Her damaging words seemed to go unnoticed besides for my husband and myself.  Sure, a couple members said they understood how upset I would be, but then I was told several times over that they couldn’t and or wouldn’t get themselves involved.  I was even told that because I was not real family, not blood family – that they would not be able to stick up for me either.  Another stab in my heart.  Not that they could see that.  All they wanted from me was to kiss and make up with her so the “family” could get back to normal.  But for me, nothing was ever going to be the same – even with some kiss and make up bullshit.  I now knew what they really thought of me. It made me feel kinda foolish having so much faith in their faith in me.
The thing is I have evidence.  I have photos, police reports, social worker notes, court documents – even video.  But, it’s not enough.  Mostly because ignorant people rarely want to be educated about what they believe they know about.  My in laws don’t want me to talk about my past or my struggles.  They tell me to forget about it, don’t talk about it – it only makes it worse they say.  I say, no it only makes it uncomfortable for them.  People would rather not hear about it, not know the truths – stay ignorant in their safe bubbles.  People like myself make them uncomfortable.  So – they call me a liar.  They whisper among themselves instead of talking to the one person that could clear up any questions they may have.  I have always been an open book – but rarely am I picked up and truly read and understood.
So this question of believing or not believing is a very sensitive one.  I ask – what is it that I have said that would make you not believe me?  Usually it’s just that it’s so unbelievable one could treat another human being so poorly, especially one they love, or a child.  Of course, it’s that I apparently look like I have all my shit together – so it’s couldn’t have been that bad..right? I ask, what gain do I get from sharing these stories?  Clearly I don’t get pity, or money or sympathy.  I’ll tell you why.
I share my stories because that helps me heal.  Simple.  If I am quiet, and secretive about my struggles then they become too hard to manage.  My past eats away at my soul when I stuff them down.   But, when I am able to talk about it I am free’d of shame, disbelief and guilt.  When I share my really scary stuff – the shame is taken off of me and put where it truly belongs; on the abuser.  It helps me feel less alone, less crazy, less afraid to talk about it.  Talking about it can remind me of how far I have come.  It can sometimes me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment to share my story, that feeling of “see I did it, I survived when no one thought it possible!”  I have to say too…just because it was years ago doesn’t mean it’s over.  It’s never truly over.  I am still having flashbacks, anxiety, and depression.  The scars I carry on the inside also spill over to the outside of my body, and seeing those can sometimes send me into a PTSD downward spiral. It seems impossible, but some memories come as though I was remembering them for the very first time.
I also share my life stories because I know it helps others who may have gone through the same or similar experiences themselves.  Those who are not able to talk about it, or are afraid to talk about it.  Those who have been told like myself to be silent.  Those who hold all that shame inside when they should never feel one ounce of it – I tell them my story as to support them to unleash that burden.  When people ask me how I have survived, how I have ultimately flourished even – I tell them “I talk, I talk and talk and talk… ” When I talk about it I am healing myself.  I know it hurts sometimes to talk about it, but in the end it makes me stronger.  It allows me to be bigger than all that horror.  I want the same for others, I want people too feel OK, even brave for sharing their stories.  As they should be.  Even writing this blog I feel better, I feel proud.  I feel like if even one person gets it – I am on the right track, I am fulfilling my purpose.  I didn’t survive all that horror just to keep quiet and fit in where I can.  It’s impossible.  The moment you can no longer hear me is the moment I have let myself give up, and I wont.
I will not allow the fact that people refuse to listen or believe me change the belief I have that knowledge is power.  The more people that know exactly what has and or is still happening in our world will help others to escape from it, or survive it.  They will see the signs they need to see in order to help others.  They will know that even when it seems to unbelievable – it’s not.  It takes courage to share your story, especially the unbelievable ones.  Be courageous and brave.  Most of all have yourself be heard!  Keep talking – I know I will.

FEAR – Living With It Each Day

There are many unfortunate, sad and difficult consequences left for a victim for the rest of their lives after a traumatic event.  I know from my experience I was able to find moments of peace…though far and few in between – with little time to work through the trauma that my parents had started exposing me to as early as when I was still in the womb. I was forced to face a string of various types of abuse ranging from but not limiting it to;  physical, sexual, spiritual, neglect – and the perpetrators were the hands of the people with a duty to keep me safe, protect me – someone that I was supposed to trust.   I can not remember a time in my life  that I was NOT afraid, or  time that I felt totally and completely safe. That reality is heartbreaking .

I have to imagine that even from the womb I have had a fairly intense level of fear running through my little body…afraid of the unforeseen strikes coming my way.  Sometimes it was the things my parents would yell at me that could leave bigger bruises than a whole day of whips, strikes, and blows to my body.  Those words have left invisible catastrophic scarring.   My mother told me stories of when she was pregnant with me and my father would beat her belly with his belt – buckle end hitting her baby bump.  Shit, I probably didn’t know what I was more afraid of; staying in there – or coming out!

My mother also shared her opinions of what she thought of me from the moment I was born often throughout my childhood. “You were ugly honestly, and we really didn’t want you, your father really didn’t want you…he hated girls.”  I would always ask her why he hated girls, what was it that made us so horrible in his eyes.  Why did he think we were such bad girls?  She would never have an answer for me.  She was usually quite flippant about it, acting as though she was just caught off guard for a moment… My mom was the queen of manipulation.  “Oh, I don’t know… who knows Carrie.”  My mom did know why my father hated girls and women in general. She would rather we believed he was just evil, and a sick man.  However eventually truth seeps out of the cracks.   So, years later as an adult I wanted to learn more about my fathers upbringing and the more I did learn – it was very easy to understand where his anger was coming from.  You see, my father lived in fear for his entire life as well.  It was all he knew.  Soon it was all our whole family knew.

I can’t imagine that even to this day, that either my mother, brother or sister feel safe.  I don’t.  The terrorizing anxiety and fear that lives inside me is the worst symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I face every single day.  It is not unusual for me to afraid in my own home, car or work place.  I am most afraid of course when I am alone.  I hate closed windows, drawn curtains, dark rooms, and hedges that cover a home.  It reminds me of things my parents made sure existed in our lives. They made sure we were afraid of them, always.  There was ALWAYS a consequence, there was no room for error or stupidity as he called it on our parts. And most importantly, it was stressed that we needed to keep our family matters private at all times – my Mom or Dad would say “So Carrie, that means you shut your fucking big mouth!  You understand me?”  We were never to talk about what happened behind our doors.

So my dad would try to seal the sounds of screams in with those little tricks…and now I can’t have the windows closed, or drapes drawn…and don’t even think of having a large tree or hedges surrounding our home!  Most of my husbands family think I am crazy to have everything always wide open – where everyone can see me.  “That’s the point.” I would say.  Exactly.  I am always trying to be sure it’s at least possible to have someone see me if I was being hurt – and this time save me.

I think about this scenario practically daily really.  I feel better in numbers.  I like crowds, I like downtown… I don’t like being in my home alone.  I am almost always incredibly scared, and I know realistically I am more than safe.  But, I don’t believe that. I know better.  I know better than to ever think I am safe.  I know not to start feeling sure I won’t ever have to face unspeakable hurt again.  Too me, that is just baiting the devil to come show off one more time with me.  I am so afraid I will not have the resilience and strength to live through another attack again.  And now, that I have been blessed with three beautiful, innocent children that fear has only been escalated too massive proportions.

The very thought of my kids having to live like I did makes me feel sick to my stomach.  I never really thought of it this way before the kids, for some reason I was able to compartmentalize the stories from the actual realization of how horrible it really was for us young children.  Now I can see for myself how innocent, tiny and helpless we really were.  As a child I really felt like I was at fault – I had obviously been so out of control, so ungrateful, spoiled… I felt that I had pushed them into hitting me, hurting me…  Most of my abusers had me sure that it was my fault that they were sexually attracted to me. That even as young as six – I was just slutty.  I was the one that brought the bad, dirty and wrong doings from these individuals.  There was something in me bringing out the evil in them, causing them to hurt me.

There was a court hearing once that involved one of my foster fathers; Wayne Haydamack where he was being charged with historical sexual abuse.  One of his arguments about why Wayne may have been sexually inappropriate with me – IF – he did – it was simply because I was teasing him, flirting, and seducing him into it.  He was a victim of my seductive ways.  This makes me fucking sick each and every time I think about it. Even if I was displaying sexual behaviors towards him – that is NEVER ok or normal. I have too feel sick when I think of how I was so comfortable being taken advantage of that young.  I remember too that although I found it terrifying each and every time – I also found it too be a normal part of my life, like one of my duties of growing up.  I remember how awful it made me feel too, how dirty I thought I was, and how incredibly afraid I really was.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have flashbacks or get triggered by a smell or sound that takes me right back into those moments that still cause me to be afraid.  I don’t have many memories of restful sleeps, or being able to close my eyes and feel  my body completely relax…and just letting go … Usually I am trying to shut my brain down from all the scared thoughts I am having; can anyone get in? Are my kids safe? What if someone tried to take them?  I find myself sometimes going through the entire scenario, getting myself all worked up thinking of the worst things possible – I fight hard to leave those thoughts and fall asleep.  I think of when I was a young child, how strangers would come into my bedrooms while I  was asleep and hurt me. Ripping me from my dreams – leaving me in a nightmare for the rest of my life.

Each and every abuser that took liberty with my body in unspeakable and disgusting ways; ultimately took a piece of my innocence with them when they finished. They all had a part in making me be so afraid and unsure of myself and my worth.  They all hurt me in different degrees – but still leaving me with a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and an ongoing battle with self-loathing and self-worth.  No matter how many times I can tell myself that it was not my fault – some shit has a hard time sticking. The fact that I felt responsible and dirty for being apart of it is something my abusers were counting on.  They groomed me, some more than others.

I have to believe a huge source of my fear comes from the fact that I have dozens of my abusers out there, free to roam the world, free to hurt again.  I am afraid of running into any of them.  I am very afraid of my immediate family; especially my mother and brother.  I have seen their form of evil and I am sure I have not seen the last of it.  My brother grew up to be a convicted rapist and murderer.  My brother is free now – having served his time fully.  He is on the sex offender registry, but is not required to report to a parole officer.  On one the reports I received from the Prison staff before his release after serving ten years for the murder stated that he was at a high risk to reoffend. There was also a note in the report that my brother had made a statement of how much he hated me, and if he were to see me again he would slit my neck from ear to ear.  I am afraid of my brother. I have a very clear memory of my brothers eyes, they were always empty – scary.  He had the same smiling eyes when he was hurting me or an animal sometimes when we were younger.  My dad worked hard making him tough.  He inevitably made his son a killer and a man that like his father – had a special hate for women.

You know, I am mostly afraid this feeling is really never going to ease up.  I am so tired from being in that constant state of acute awareness to all the bad in the world.  I wish I didn’t know that it was real and that it always is lurking and waiting for it’s opportunity to take advantage and hurt me or someone I love.  I do though. I am really clear that the monsters that most people are afraid of look nothing like a monster at all.  They are blending into our communities, developing relationships with us – earning our trust so that we will let our guards down and forget to be afraid just long enough that they can hurt us again.  it s a terrifying reality that I worry, fear and at times unreasonably obsess over every day of my life.

People see me as tough.  They say that I am so strong and resilient, and that they believe I can survive anything.  And with each tragedy or trauma I have survived it seems they feel their points have been proven. I’m fine.  Its over, it’s all in the past.  They sometimes try to push me towards just forgetting everything – telling me that if I just let it all go I will be better.  I agree with one thing.  That “event of trauma” may be over – but that’s about all that makes any sense too me because there is no magical let it go button.  I don’t try to think about it each day – it is like someone slamming a pie in my face out of no where when the memories come.  more like a smack in the face. A lot of my wounds may have years of skin regrowth, scars have faded – years and years have passed – but my mind and or body can’t forget it sometimes.  I still have pain, physical and psychological… emotional pain.

I can still hear the hardwired messages of disgust, hatred, and disappointment that I heard throughout my childhood.  And, I am still fear the bad monsters will come back into my room one night and try taking another piece of my soul – testing my strength and ability to stay a good person.  So far – regardless of what has come against me – I am still here, working on it…but for now I live with fear every single day of my life only hoping something will ease up in my subconscious and let me be in that paralyzing reality less and less as time goes by.