Response to Shame

In my previous post, I included a link to a blog I stumbled on by accident. However, I wonder how much of life is accidental and how much is fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it (lets leave the likes of divine intervention out of this). I don’t know the answer to the fate question, but I do wonder about it.

Anyway, I have been really thinking about the post. I have been wondering why people who are molested, raped, or sexually abused feel ashamed of what happened to them. I was thinking about how being abused shouldn’t be a source of shame or embarrassment. But, how often it is. How most crimes like this go unreported and the victims never see justice or closure (not that closure is even possible). It really got me thinking, but more than that it got me feeling.

So, I wanted to free myself from feeling shameful or embarrassed (thanks Grace!). A little side note though: I don’t want to talk about this with anyone. I am posting it here to free myself from it. But, unless I bring it up, I don’t want to talk about it. I have effectively put this behind me, but want to acknowledge that it happened.

I was sexually abused by my step brother when I was 4 years old. It was a brief period of time, and most of it I hardly remember. But, I do remember enough to know that it happened. My sister told my Mom about it a while later, and I remember my Mom asking me what happened. I was flooded with feelings that couldn’t be expressed and words that had no way of being vocalized. After all, I was only 4; it would be impossible to express what I felt or thought at that age. Almost 30 years later I can remember feeling powerless and afraid to be alone with my step brother. Yet, I can hardly express my feelings now–I just don’t have the words.

My Mom left this husband, but not because of the abuse. I don’t think she knew about the abuse until after she left anyway. We spoke of it that one time, and neither her nor I spoke of it again.

I often wonder what sort of effect something like this has on peoples lives. I don’t honestly think you can know the answer to this, since life has an innumerable number of variables. But, I look at my life and wonder how things may have been different for me if this event had not occur ed. I don’t spend much time thinking about it, since there is no way to change to the past. But, I do feel saddened by the fact that it happened. I feels like I was robbed of a piece of my childhood, of my innocence. Something was taken from me during that time, something that can never be replaced or given back.

Just like all of the books say–now that I am a Mother, I have been thinking about my childhood and my youthful experiences in more depth. I am often in awe at the fact that my Mother was able to raise 2 girls essentially on her own. My Mom didn’t attend college, but was a highly intelligent woman (I will explain the use of the past tense word ‘was’ later). She has an amazing vocabulary, has a razor sharp wit and tongue, and has never been afraid to express or stand up for herself. On the other side of the coin, it kills me to think that someone who was so intelligent could allow herself to get involved with man after destructive man, marriage after marriage. How could someone who appears so self assured need a man like my Mom does. It is difficult to not place blame when I think about all of the fucked up things that have happened in my life under the tutelage of my mother (many of them while she was under the influence). And, just when I am filled with resentment and bitterness–I remember that she did the very best she could. I hope that every decision that she made was out of love, and not selfishness. I long to believe that she always put us first when a difficult choice was needed. Many days I doubt it, and that forces a irremovable wedge between us. But, some days I can forgive her and I love her more than myself.

So, there you have another tid-bit of my history. All of the pieces that make up my life and make me who I am today. Are you glad or sad you know?

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Labor amnesia

I have been reflecting today and all week on my labor trying to get my birth story finished. I began to feel sad and at a loss, as I was not able to remember a lot of the details or the chronology of events in the labor process. I was really taking it to heart.

I was trying to remember and be able to articulate what a contraction felt like and couldn’t. I also wanted to remember what I was thinking or doing to deal with them. I want to be able to describe details…but I cant remember many of them.

Today, while I was breastfeeding Elliott I opened up a book I was reading to prepare for childbirth, called Birthing from Within. I flipped to the chapter on endorphins. It basically summed up what I was feeling, by saying that during a natural childbirth, your body produces endorphins as a natural response to pain. The endorphins cause a haze that soften your memories and protect you from lasting trauma. It goes on to say that endorphins cause amnesia about pain and allow for a misty magical memory of your labor. In opposition, it says that when you get an epidural that the natural endorphin haze is lifted and you have a more acute memory of details, which often when retrieved are more traumatic and vivid.

After reading this I felt better about not being able to remember. I felt very at peace during the labor process, and ‘inside my own head’. It felt natural and I felt in control of my body.