So, today I decided to maybe let people into my life a little more. I have a book out there called “Fantasy Life: The First Year of PTSD After Child Abuse”. Hopefully you’ve read it already. A conversation last night got me thinking about it more. Here a few of my thoughts.
“Fantasy Life” is complete, but it wasn’t the end of my story. That book was completed in 2005. A lot has happened since then. PTSD doesn’t just disappear, either. I deal with it constantly.
Something about PTSD that most people don’t understand is that it is never cured. It can mild over time. We can learn to cope. Never does it completely vanish. I still have mood swings, nightmares, and times when I just can’t cope. I go through severe bouts of depression and anxiety attacks.
Due to my food insecurities as a child, I am constantly worried we don’t have enough food in my house. I am shopping every week and I make sure to keep a running stock log of what is in my pantry. If I ever go to grab something and find I am out, I have a break down. Seriously, just can start shaking and wondering what I did wrong. This actually happened last week when I thought we ran out of ketchup. My oldest found a bottle hidden in the back of the pantry as I went to hide in the bathroom. (I really try to not lose myself in front of my kids.)
There are also the nightmares. I have learned to not let myself enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the time in sleeping when the brain dreams. If I start a dream, I shake myself awake as fast as I can. Sometimes I am so exhausted, though, from not entering REM that I end up staying in the dream too long. Most of the time they are a nightmare. Either, a fable of my parents coming after me now, or a memory of a time when they did come after me.
The other thing that I want to clear up, if you have read my book, is that my sister at the end of the book is dead. She died in 2009. I tried to stay civil with my parents after boot camp until 2015. My sister’s kids live with their father in South Dakota and well away from the abusiveness of my parents. They are safe. I am happy for that.
Maybe a bit on what brought about the end of my parents contact with me is in order as well. In October of 2015 my bank account was hacked. I called my parents in an attempt for their help. The next day my father contacted my boyfriend with this ultimatum: Either marry his daughter or he was going to drag me back to his house to marry a guy of his chosing. Yup, that is what he said. He also meant it and he would give my children to their dad. (Court order states they must stay in this state for their safety. This is to protect them from my parents.) I was furious that he would assume that I even wanted to leave here. I was hacked, but he claimed I am a woman and thus did not handle my finances correctly. As a man, my boyfriend needed to take all of my money from me and run my life. My boyfriend agreed we needed to end contact.
In November “Fantasy Life” was published. My mother then became furious. Her idea was that they would claim the entire book as false. In their attempt to have me pull it from publishing, they called me at 2AM. They hoped that if I was sleep deprived they could get me to agree. All it did was make me laugh at them through the receiver. I told them to talk about my book all they wanted to. I see it as free publicity. When they tried to get my cousins, aunts, and grandma to have me pull it, they told my parents they didn’t see where the falsehoods were. Everything sounded truthful from what they remember happening as well. Even two sisters of mine patted me on the back and said I did right. This forced my mother to throw an even bigger fit. Some family have now ceased contact with me for their own sanity against my mother’s harrassment.
It has been 12 years since I wrote the book, but the abuse never really ended. I kept trying to please my parents through out these years, and they kept abusing me. Verbally mostly or attacking my siblings to make me know they still could. They couldn’t hit me anymore. Yet, I watched as my father beat my brother when I turned on the air conditioning while I was pregnant with my oldest. My mother called me fat during my sister’s funeral and then again at my older sister’s wedding. Told me that my boyfriend would break with me soon if I didn’t lose at least thirty pounds. They continued against my own kids as well at that venue. We ended up many times driving away with me nearly breaking the stearing wheel in anger.
I have had text messages from them through out the years saying I am abusing my kids. They have even threatened to have my kids removed from me on false allegations if I didn’t raise them the way they wanted me to. I have had to talk to authorities many times and each time came up false allegations. When my oldest was diagnosed with a milk allergy and Autism, my parents tried to tell authorities I wasn’t allowing him to eat ANYTHING and I was diagnosing him to get money. Then my second was born deaf, and once again I was accused of trying to get money from the government and lying. Each time my kids have been through the wringer for me to find out if I am just a bad parent, and each time therapists, doctors, and specialists have stood with me against my parents trying to remove my children. This last year was bliss with them finally not contacting authorities, since they don’t know anything about my kids anymore.
Even this last December my father tried to send me a card. I put “return to sender” and back into the box it went. I refuse contact. I broke the cycle and I am finally breaking from the abuse.
Another thing that I don’t mention in the book is that abused children and spouses return a lot to their abusers. We crave the love we thought we had at one time. For some reason we feel that if we just apologize for their abuse we can get that love. Most people could not understand why I was talking to my parents if my past had been so horrible? Why would I seek out a phone conversation with a woman and man who constantly tell me I’m a horrible person? Mostly because they are my parents. It’s so easy to say that your kids don’t have grandparents because they have died. It is not easy to say they don’t have grandparents because they abused you and your kids.
On social media you see all of these memes going around stating “I love my mom forever” or “My dad was hardworking and loved me.” Always with a “share this if you had great parents”. My least favorite, though, is the ones that state “As a mom I love all of my kids. Moms sacrifice everything for their children.” My mom did not sacrifice anything for us. My father worked hard to give an image to everyone around us, but then would break bones and scream in our faces. With parents like that, it hurts to watch people grow old loving their own. So, for a while I figured as long as I lived far enough away, then maybe they would change. They would learn to love me. They would adore me. They didn’t.
I hold my own kids every night. I clean up after them when they are sick and I read to them books. I homeschool them, too, so I am there for their every milestone. Sometimes while I do these things for my kids, I have flashbacks of my own childhood. Sometimes I am not cleaning up a milk mess from my own daughter, but from my younger sister. I am not a mom in these, but rather a ten year old hoping to get the mess cleared before dad or mom sees. When my child struggles to learn a new verbal word and read it, I remember the time my dad tried to teach my brother to read by hitting him with the belt when he screwed up. I hug my child closer with those memories. I could never imagine losing my temper and breaking one of my kid’s ribs. I could never imagine telling my four year old that she needs to stop eating at 30LBS, because she is already too fat. My oldest is in third grade, and I know that when I was in third grade my teacher at school taught me how to bathe using a doll house. She also taught me how to bathe my younger sister and brother. I could never imagine making my third grader do those things for his siblings. He doesn’t have to, either.
I feel that so much has happened between the book and now. I feel that these memories, sometimes still supressed and emerging, need to fade. They don’t, though. They come through clear. Memories in the form of flashbacks and nightmares don’t just disappear.
After all of this time, I am still learning to cope. I’m functioning better than I was last year. I am a lot better than I was five years ago. As time goes on I will function bit by bit. The screaming terrors have ended for now. The anxiety attacks, depression, nightmares, sudden flashbacks, and the memories are here for a long while yet.
After “Fantasy Life” is now my fictional stories. I love going into these new worlds and bringing my imagination out where my memories would just haunt me. Throwing myself into writing is helping me once again.
(Buy links are in the menu on this page if you haven’t bought one of my books. I suggest you check them out. Might be worth a subway ride or a plane flight read!)