Thursday, July 29, 2010

Child Abuse, the Impact: Self Worth

I have stated before that I struggle with self worth and shame.

I was very young when I was first molested, 10 years old. I didn't understand what was happening, but I knew that it was wrong and that I felt like a "bad girl" for allowing it to happen. As the years passed I felt worse and worse about myself. The shame was overwhelming.

On the outside I put on a happy/brave face. I didn't let anyone know how incredibly ugly, dirty, bad, hurt and ashamed I was. I was able to hide it from everyone until I couldn't do it anymore.

I had to tell someone and I decided to tell my best friend Rachael at that time. She knew what I was going through, because she had told her mother the same thing before me. She would not keep my secret and forced me to tell my mom.

This was the best thing I ever did. To let someone know I was being hurt and that I couldn't take it anymore. That was all I let them know.

The pain, shame, and ugliness I felt lay hidden deep. It influenced every choice I made after that. I tried to bury it and be the happy girl everyone thought I should be. I was perky to the point of annoyance, I know, but I felt that if I didn't put that mask on people would see the ugly me beneath it.

I picked a college that I knew I would get into. I chose a career that I knew people thought I should. I dropped out of college because I was so eager for people to like me that I neglected my studies.

I did things to attract boys and keep them around that I didn't want to do. I smoked because my friends did. I hid my hatred of myself from them, and let things happen sexually that I was not prepared for.

I did these things and many more, all to keep friends in my life, and boys interested. I did these things because I didn't believe I deserved better.

I have since learned that by stating my needs and letting people know the real me, I can keep friends easier. Friends that love me for me. Friends that want to be there for me, in good and bad times.

I have also learned that I was too young to make a decision about what was happening to me, and that it was not my fault. I knew this intellectually all along, but I have finally taken that knowledge into my heart.

I am a great person, friend, I'm kinda cute and I deserve to be loved for who I am.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Child Abuse, the Impact: Anger

These next few blog posts will be a bit difficult to write. It hurts to re-visit some of these memories and I don't want to hurt anyone else in doing so. I made a promise to myself when I started this blog, to be open and honest and while doing that, I knew others would be helped.

I was a sweet, precocious little girl. I believed that the world was good and that people really liked me. My mom said that I never met a stranger. I would go up to people in the mall and start telling them about my doll or my little brother. I loved life and thought that it was great to be me.

At the age of 10 my childhood was changed forever. It was at this time that I was molested. This lasted for 3 years and I was never the same.

Through my years of therapy as I learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I found out a lot about the general disorder and about the way that I coped with it.

When someone is victimized over and over, it changes their brain chemistry. This is to say that the person I once was is not the person I am today. Don't get me wrong, I know that everyone grows up and changes, but I often wonder what kind of person I would be today if this hadn't happened to me. I might have known how to handle my life and others in it with assertiveness rather than letting them walk all over me.

I have been in several hospitals dealing with my eating disorder, but the most helpful was a Sexual Trauma Unit that I went to in Kansas City.

It was there that I learned to really let the anger I was feeling out. I was always afraid of the anger and thought that if I was a good person I wouldn't get angry. My poor husband was the only one to ever see me really angry and it was seemingly over something very minor. Little did I know at the time that it was decades worth of anger boiling over at really inappropriate times. In the hospital I was taken to a room that had carpeted walls and was sound proof. I was given a foam bat and was told to use it to let out the anger on some pillows on the floor. It took me awhile, I was very tentative and safe at first. I didn't want the therapists to see me lose control, and then suddenly it all came out. I screamed, I pounded, I sobbed uncontrollably. At the end of the exercise, my therapist held me close as I cried and cried. She told me that it was okay to let it out, and that all I needed to do was to find a safe place to do it.

This was a great exercise for me, and there were other ones that helped me too, but I believe that one really let me release a lot of the pent up feelings that I had.

Although this was good for me, I also learned not to let it get to that point when I am angry. I need to let my feelings be known and talk it out with someone if I have that opportunity. Sometimes though, it does feel good to go pound a pillow or to let out a primal scream into it.

I believe that I was put on this earth and allowed to experience this pain for a couple of purposes:

To make me more empathetic to others that are hurting, and to help others see the goodness in life even after a tragedy.

I do hope that you will continue with me on this journey as I let you into my world and open up to you about not only surviving it, but thriving in it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Asking for Help

I am not good at asking for help. It is something that has plagued me most of my life. I hide my feelings pretty well.

My mother has said that I am a good "actress." Although I wanted to be an actress when I was younger (and still hope to do some more acting someday soon), this probably isn't a good thing. People don't know that inside I am aching, hurting for a child that was abused, crying for the loss of innocence, aching over a pain that runs so deep it is indescribable. I have tried to overcome these feelings, but it is a long and arduous process.

I am anxious that by talking about my past, and my pain, I will burden those around me. I am scared that I will end up alone. I am tired of dealing with it all alone, but do not want to ask for help.

It is good that I have an amazing Psychiatrist, but I am thinking it is time to get back into a group setting. Sharing the pain with others that have been there helps immensely. I find this blog helpful, a way to get out the feelings I have trapped inside, but I believe that talk therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a great way to go.

I will ask for help, I will share my story and overcome the pain of my past.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What to Do?

I am at a loss as to what my next step in life is!

I am contemplating some major changes in career and lifestyle. I need guidance and a lot of prayer.

I have been praying for a "sign." Although I have several ideas, there hasn't been a big neon arrow pointing the way.

What constitutes a sign? Does it have to be something big and blaring? Do I have be be knocked upside the head with a mallet? Will some prophet come and tell me what to do? I would welcome just about any of these, and I think I got some this summer.

  1. I was injured at work, a job that I loved at times and couldn't stand at others. Things were getting rough there and the atmosphere was pretty toxic. I was injured and in the hospital when I got the call that I was no longer their employee. I was angry, I was hurt, no I was furious. Not really that I had lost the job, but the way that I was informed about it while sitting in my hospital bed.
  2. Next I was sidelined with the fact that I would need surgery on my foot and that I could not walk or drive for 2 months. I was upset, scared and frustrated.
  3. Next I was informed that the first surgery did not work, and that I would need another. This would add 8 more weeks to my recovery. I was devastated, defeated and demoralized.
  4. Finally, 10 weeks after the initial injury, I have not received one check from unemployment or from worker's compensation. We were running our house on a tight budget before I lost my job and now we have only one income. I am undone.
I think I have finally got the hint..."Slow down Rachel and focus on what is important."

  1. Myself-I need to take time to nurture myself and be as healthy and strong as I can be. I need to care for my inner and outer health. This means claiming victory over Edith, control of my physical health, and finally facing the demons of childhood sexual abuse. I am the only one that can do this. I have been and will continue to fight!
  2. My marriage-I have put a lot of burdens on my husband that have been unfair. He is not responsible for my recovery, I am. He is not responsible for my happiness, I am. He is an amazing man to have put up with me and my "issues" over the years. He is not my savior, he is my partner. I have had some fun re-connecting with him this summer and re-defining our roles.
  3. My children-I have two of the most amazing young men living in my house. They are growing and changing and struggling right under my nose. I have been so busy working and fighting illnesses that I have missed out on a lot of their development. I have tried to be a good mother, but this summer I have had the opportunity to actually be that good mother. I am so looking forward to seeing the kind of men they will become and being a part of their futures.
With my priorities in order, I can face whatever comes my way. Thank you God for the neon sign, the whack over the head and the voice of truth!

Onward and Upward!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Being Comfortable in My Own Skin

Lately I have had the oddest feeling, I couldn't quite figure it out. It was driving me a bit batty as I tried to analyze it. I figured it out.

I like who I am becoming, the real Rachel. I really think that if I were to meet myself on the street, we would really like each other. Now that sounds sort of like I have a whole other mental health diagnosis than I have, but it is true.

I like how self-assured I have become, able to make decisions and stick by them.

I like that I am no longer sad all of the time, I can enjoy life and I do.

I like that I am no longer the "victim" needing to make others prove their love to me.

I am funny, I can laugh at myself and with others. I am not afraid of what other people will say if they see me laughing and making a "fool" of myself.

I can love and be loved. I can enjoy life and even make it through some of the toughest times in my life. My circumstances do not define me, it is the way in which I face those circumstances that makes me the woman that I am.

I am finally comfortable in my own skin.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have tried to teach my children about the value of a good reputation.

One way to maintain that good reputation is to always be honest. Making sure that people can believe what you say, and know that you will always be straight with them is important. Once you have lied to someone, they are less likely to believe what you say the next time.

This is a hard thing to teach children, as there is such a desire to please others and to stay out of trouble that lying comes easily. I know that when I first caught Heath in a lie as a toddler I was so hurt by it, I thought that I had done something wrong as a mother since I was his primary caregiver. I found out that it was natural, but I didn't like it.

As they have grown it has become a constant battle. You ask them about something that you know they did, they don't want to get in trouble, so they lie to cover their tracks. They get punished and you think they have learned the lesson, until next time.

I believe that honesty is the best policy. I want my word to be my bond and that people know that when I tell them something I am speaking from the heart with all honesty.


I have an eating disorder and part of the pattern is deceit. I had to lie to cover it up from those that loved me. I had to lie to myself to make myself believe that it was okay and under control. I had to lie to doctors so that they wouldn't find it out and tell those I loved. I had to lie to keep Edith close.

Because of this, my friends and family have trouble believing me when I tell them I am okay. They often look for the hidden meaning under my words. If I protest too much, they think I am lying. If I am overly calm about something, they think I am lying. My reputation has been ruined by Edith, and I let her do it.

I hope that someday my friends and family can trust me again. I hope that one day they will know that what I say I mean, and what I say is true.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I am a very proud woman.

I am proud of two "things" in particular:
  • Heath
  • Austin
These are my sons and they are amazing young men.

In a life full of mistakes, missteps and missed opportunities, they are none of these things. There is nothing they could ever do that would make me love them any less or any more. I love them for just being who they are.

My "boys" are kind, empathetic, caring, strong, opinionated, courageous and talented to list just a few of their admirable qualities.

At 15 and 16 they still give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me daily. They get on each other's nerves, but are each other's best friend. There is no one in this world that make the other laugh as hard, and no one that will defend their brother more.

They are similar in many ways, but different in so many more.

They look so incredibly opposite at times, but some people can't tell them apart. Two sides to the same coin.

I have so enjoyed watching them develop into the people they are, and look forward to spending the rest of my days experiencing life through their eyes.

I can spin these wonderful lines about my beautiful children, it isn't hard at all.

Now to take these words and bring them back around to the self-love that I deserve.
There is nothing I could ever do that would make me love myself any less or any more. I love who I am for just being me.

I am kind, empathetic, caring, strong, opinionated, courageous and talented to list just a few of my admirable qualities.

I still give hugs and kisses and tell them I love them daily. Now to do that to my inner child, because she deserves it too.

I pray that I can continue to show my boys and myself how much we are all loved.