Talking Abuse

As you might have guessed by yesterday’s poem (if you read it), since Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking about the abuse by my stepfather and my mother’s tolerance of it more often. Maybe it’s my birthday and the Christmas holidays drawing nearer, they always put me in a glum mood and put thoughts of my birth family into my mind.

Whenever there is a major holiday, memories of days long gone intrude, and also I can’t help wondering about my mother, what she might be doing. Like how did she spend Thanksgiving? Did she see anyone? Does she live with anyone these days? Or did she just get wasted by herself, the way she used to whenever it was only her and me and home. My stepfather died in jail . . . is she mourning him on holidays? And does she ever think of me?  Does she ever wonder about what I might be doing, the way I wonder about her? And when it’s my birthday, does she think of me? Or does she not even remember?

I don’t know why those thoughts would matter – after all I haven’t seen her or heard from her in what will be eleven years in January, and I have my family now – but I can’t help thinking them nonetheless. And from those thoughts it’s only a small step to memories of abuse. I have a hard time thinking about the abuse with my feelings switched on, but it kind of works in the form of poetry, so that’s what I did.

I talk about it with my mom, too. That’s semi-emotional. She doesn’t usually allow that I split my emotions all the way off, but knows I can’t take too much and that I am afraid of getting overwhelmed by the memories if I stay too connected while we talk. So it’s always a struggle to find that fine line of the degree of emotional involvement that I can still take. Sadness is a surprisingly okay emotion. So is feeling disgusted by myself and the consequential self-hate, although we work on putting that into perspective.

I’m not used to making a difference between a person and his or her actions, but I need to learn to do that, so that’s what we’re working on when we talk abuse, too. That I learn to feel disgusted by the things I had to do, instead of feeling like a disgusting person. I still need help to be able to do that, because my borderline ways don’t really like considering such things, but with help it’s okay. Like how my mom helping with keeping my feelings of self-hate from developing their own momentum by bringing back to my attention the difference between who I am and what I did. That makes talking abuse easier.

So does feeling safe. I do not usually feel physically safe when I talk abuse. It feels as if talking about it had the power to bring it back for real, back into my life now. It’s irrational, but I can’t just shake the feeling of impending threat off, like people who are going to abuse me are going to step out of the shadows once I talk about the abuse. So in order to be able to talk about the abuse at all, I need to be able to watch the doors and the room itself to see with my own eyes that there’s nobody there, and I need to feel physically safe. Being close to my mom usually makes me feel safe and like she would protect me, just in case the threat was real. I mean I know it’s not, but well . . . just in case.

So it looks as though altogether I am going in a good direction. Which is nice. Especially at a stressful time like the holiday season.

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