Posted in change, grief, mental health, sexual assault

grief – you’re doing it wrong

they found my mother on december 5, 2016. i can’t say she died on that day because they don’t know when she actually died. she was found in bed, nothing out-of-place except for the fact that she was dead. apparently autopsies are extremely expensive and the coroner decided one wasn’t needed after talking to her doctor. part of me understands that, she had heart problems, was an insulin dependent diabetic, and had survived breast cancer twice. they decided it was either her heart or her blood sugar and that was that. i wish i knew for sure, though.

my mother and i had a difficult relationship. we didn’t speak for the last four months of her life because she wouldn’t respond to me. we lived in different cities and i texted and emailed and called. she never responded. she didn’t even call on my birthday. for the second year in a row. not that i celebrate my birthday but still, a phone call would have been nice. i called the day before thanksgiving and left her a message that i hoped she had a good holiday, was spending it with one of my sisters, and that i loved her. i called her a few days later and left a message that i was just checking in on her, hoped she was doing okay, and that i loved her. i called a few days later, same message.

my last call to her was on tuesday, december 6, 2016, a little after 2p.m. i was just so tired of the game. i’d say something wrong, or wouldn’t respond the way she wanted me to and she’d get mad and stop speaking to me for a period of time. she’d ignore my messages, emails, and texts then call, the sad and lonely parent who didn’t understand why i was doing this to her. tired of the game i left her a message and god help me i remember exactly what it said.

well, i’m supposing if you were dead or in the hospital jeanne or michelle would have called to tell me, so you’re probably just home listening to these messages. you’re not answering my texts. you’re not answering my emails. and you’re ignoring my calls. i’m done, i’m just done. if you decide you want to talk you know where i am.

an hour later my husband called and said my little sister was trying to get in touch with me. she couldn’t, so she had called the switchboard at his office and left a message on his voicemail. i called her back and just said, “she’s dead, isn’t she?” that’s how i found out that she had been found. i left her that message and she was already dead. she had been dead for days. alone. in her apartment.

i grew up in a very abusive household. she knew about it and didn’t do anything about the physical abuse or the sexual abuse. she was a victim of emotional abuse just like the rest of us. i went back and forth for a long time wondering what she knew and when she knew it. why she stayed. all the questions we normally ask. she acknowledged it once then took it back and said she had no idea what i was talking about. she also told me that one of my abusers had tried to rape her in our living room. but she still let me stay weekends with him. she still let him take me. i found out at her service that she knew and had discussed it with her sister at least once.

she was a narcissist, a hypochondriac, and played passive-aggressive games like nobody’s business. she knew what was happening and she stayed. she let it continue. she told me lies about my sister and told my sister lies about me so that she could keep each of us for herself. like our love was only valid if it was hers and hers alone. but. i have to balance all this negative with everything else.

she loved to read and instilled that love in me. my first trip to the library with her she let me check out books on her card because my card wouldn’t let me have more than two books at a time. she never went anywhere without a book and taught me to do the same. she didn’t refuse me books, she looked at what i wanted to read and asked me why i wanted to read it. if i could cogently explain why, i could check it out (or she would if necessary). there were books all over our house and we had a whole encyclopedia set which was a big deal because it was expensive but it was awesome.

one year there wasn’t money for christmas presents so she had a friend who knew calligraphy make cards that presented each us with a “day with mom”. we could cash it in whenever we wanted and have a day alone with her, doing whatever we wanted. we went to the library, had lunch at home (grilled cheese sandwiches – she always put two slices of cheese on them which was a big deal because our cheese was a giant block of that government cheese, and hot chocolate made with milk not water), and spent the rest of the day reading. i still have my card in a desk drawer, she never actually made me turn it in.

when john quit his job and spent two years on the couch, drinking diet coke, eating m&ms, and smoking, she worked three jobs so that the heat and electric would stay on, they wouldn’t take the house, and all the other things that adults needed to pay got paid. the times there wasn’t a car she took the bus to and from work. when she worked nights i would meet her at the bus stop so she didn’t have to walk home alone. i had to sneak out but it was worth it.

somehow, i have to find a way to balance these two diametrically opposed views of my mother. i know that times were different when i was a child. none of the doctors reported the multiple times i was in the e.r. with pelvic inflammatory disease. none of them questioned why a 9-year-old had p.i.d. in the first place. none of them wondered how a 12-year-old ended up with lesions adhering her uterus to her bowel. there weren’t any mandatory reporting laws in the 70’s and 80’s or, if there were, the doctors just didn’t follow them. in high school i found out, after yet another exploratory laparoscopy, that i couldn’t have children because of the damage to my uterus but nobody asked any questions. nobody looked at my medical history and said, “hmmm. maybe there’s something bad going on here.” or maybe they did and just didn’t care. i don’t know.

but. i still have to balance my views of my mother. the questions i always thought i would have time to ask i can’t ask and now i’m out of time. i can’t ask why she married him. i can’t ask why she stayed. i can’t ask why she didn’t do anything. i can’t ask …

i haven’t cried.
i’m having nightmares.
i left that goddamn message and she was already dead.
she’d been dead.
alone in her apartment, tucked into bed like a goddamn fairy princess waiting for her prince to kiss her awake.
you could still smell the decay that saturday when i was there with my aunt while she was looking through papers.
i have to balance my views of my mother.
i don’t know how to do that.

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Posted in books, mental health, quitting a book, sexual assault

rape is not a plot point

i’m now abandoning my fourth book of the year. the fourth book i’ve stopped reading in (not quite) six weeks because i have a personal policy of not reading books that depict the abuse (physical, sexual, or mental) of children or books that use sexual assault (attempted or otherwise) as a “plot point” for the story development.

i don’t mean plot point as in the main character is a sexual assault survivor and the events are pivotal to the character’s development. i mean we have a relatively good story about magic and demons and the main character (who happens to be female) for absolutely no reason necessary to further the plot or her story is sexually assaulted by a demon. why? it’s not germane to the story. we all know that demons are evil and brutal and evil and mean and evil. why is it necessary for that character to be sexually assaulted?

when did it become fashionable to be stuck at a character development point or a major plot point and reach for physical or sexual abuse? again, i’m not talking about a novel that is focused specifically on those issues; i’m talking about a perfectly good murder mystery that is running along, building tension, and all of a sudden the end is “oh, well, the mom was sexually abused so she was actually abusing her son but nobody knew about it and she was actually the killer because of all the abuse. the end.” wait. what? what does that have to do with anything and where did that come from? we barely even talked about that guy’s mother. that doesn’t make the story more interesting – it actually makes me want to throw the book across the room.

i try to be careful about the books i read. i don’t like westerns, so i don’t read them. i don’t like romances, so i don’t read them. i like a lot of different genres and have really had my eyes opened by a lot of different authors in the past few years. but it’s disturbing to be in the middle of a really good book and suddenly find yourself reading about the main character being sexually assaulted. or reading a graphic description of child abuse. or having either of those being the reason behind a completely peripheral character suddenly being the murderer because reasons.

sexual assault is a brutal, vicious, life changing attack. it isn’t a plot point. it isn’t an interesting way to add angst to a character’s life. it isn’t filler.

get help for sexual assault here.
donate to rainn here.

Posted in mental health, sexual assault, social media

social media, friendships, and me

i’ve had a hard time with social media in the past six months or so. there are people on facebook that i know only through the internet, from groups, games, associations with other people i know, etc. on twitter there are only a handful of my followers or followees that i actually know personally and i expect that given the type of social media that twitter is and expects to be.

i keep twitter organized into groups using yoono because it’s simple to use and lets me add people or delete them from groups easily. i used to use it for facebook but it’s not working so well on that end right now. on facebook proper i have everyone sorted into lists so that i don’t get inundated with hundreds of updates and i’ve completely turned off all emails because, let’s face it, facebook is just annoying with the notifications every time someone breaths.

here’s the thing about people on both services though: all they have to do is look at my feed and they’ll know something about me. i repost from rainn a LOT. i repost and post about kiva and lots of things about turtles and corgis and news and … well, you get the point. but i post a lot about rape, sexual assault, child abuse and how to get help. that is a topic that is important to me and it’s clear from what i say.

when the steubenville rape case hit the news i posted about it. not a lot but some. when the verdict came down and there was a news article about how the verdict ruined those poor children’s lives and the victim should be ashamed of herself and on and on, one of my “friends” posted the facebook thing that was going around onto my facebook page. not into her newsfeed but onto my personal page. the facebook thing said something about ‘like if you think the steubenville “victim” got what she deserved’ and ‘share if you think the steubenville “victim” ruined the accused lives forever’. the word victim was actually in quotation marks. this was someone who knows me well enough to know my history. she knows that i was physically and sexually abused as a child. she knows that i still struggle with that trauma and that i work on a daily basis to recover from the horror of it. and still, she posted that to me. and she didn’t mean it sarcastically because i asked her. so i blocked her. on facebook and on twitter because how can i be friends with someone who would do something like that to me. knowing what she knows? the answer is that i can’t if i want to be able to honestly say that i’m taking care of myself. it made me furious that she posted it and it made me sad to end the friendship but i have to come first.

on twitter today i had to block someone that i liked a lot. i don’t know that person at all mind you. given the proliferation of pictures that aren’t the person (hell, i’m a turtle everywhere on the internet and i guarantee you that i’m not a turtle in real life. maybe.) i don’t even know if that person is a boy or a girl. but s/he posts a lot of links. and i’ve always trusted those links because they were funny or insightful or interesting. today s/he posted a link twice. the link was to a tumblr that posts cartoon pictures of animals and children having very graphic sex. no notice that the link was nsfw. no notice that it was graphic. nothing. now i’m not saying that people are required to put warnings on their links, i think most people do that as a courtesy. but i am entitled not to see something that graphic and unsettling and shocking and just plain disgusting. and it’s up to me to control what i click. and it’s up to me to control who i follow. i almost tweeted a response, something like “you couldn’t tag that as nsfw or graphic or something?” but it’s not up to me to patrol someone else’s twitter account. it’s up to me to patrol my own. and when someone else’s account becomes unsafe for me, it’s up to me to not follow that person.

i have to be careful when i’m on social media sites. i don’t know these people for the most part. sometimes i trust people on the basis of what they post or what i think they’re like and that’s interesting because in real life i would never trust someone based on what they were listening to or reading. i have to do a better job of controlling who i’m in contact with via social media. and i have to give myself a break when i decide that i can’t follow someone or be friends with someone any longer. my name on their friend list or follower list is not going to make or break anyone’s day and i shouldn’t let my decision to remove them from my lists make or break mine.