Posts Tagged ‘grandfather’


Today,I wanted to jump out of a window, but I knew that it was an old voice of an old terror speaking. I cast about for now and today, for the reality of the life that I live and I want, but it seemed to be the insubstantial, not for real time. The terror time was too solid. I reached out for a voice who could help to guide me back, help me find my solidity in the now, help me find compassion for the part of me who remembers terror.

Yesterday’s session was intense. I found some of my intense rage at my father and my outrage that he raped me as a child and that the consequences wreck havoc on areas of my life to this day. All of it is painful to own, yet at the same time it also is a relief to be honest. The hurt me’s and the adult me’s worked together, both to express the pain, grief, and anger and then to find comfort and support, knowing that I had been heard and was not alone.

Today I woke up feeling fairly good, but then I was triggered and some terrible memories came up in regards to my grandfather. It felt as though everything fell apart. All of the communication, cooperation, and comforting skills that I have learned around my father just don’t seem to automatically apply to the parts that hold the abuse experiences with my grandfather.

Memories of some of the most intolerable experiences with my grandfather came up and I was completely overwhelmed. I began to have extremely strong urges to jump out the window, or begin to bash my head as hard as possible against the wall, or break a glass and begin to slash my arms with it. I have only very rarely done any self injury (and never serious self injury), but when I have, it has been related to my grandfather’s abuse. That awareness coupled with the strength of the urges made me wary of these impulses.

I kept on trying to ground and orient myself to the here and now. What was the texture of my pants, under my fingers? What did the light look like coming into the room? What did my chair feel like under me? It did little to no good. I could look out of my eyes and see the here and now, I could reach out my hand and touch it, but it still seem ephemeral in contrast to the intensity of the feelings of terror, abject helplessness, and vulnerability from knowing that I am at the mercy of a man who enjoys hurting me in disgusting ways. And at that moment, even though the abuse happened over 3 decades ago and he has been dead for more than 25 years, I could not shift that present tense perception into the proper past tense.

The panicked parts driven urges to do things that would harm myself did not ease at all and I was afraid to move from where I was sitting, because I wasn’t sure who would be in control when I got up. I realized that it was close to Mama Bear’s lunch hour and I considered trying to contact her. The “I need to do this on my own!” voices started up immediately, but I realized that I could either try to contact her or I could go curl up in a ball in bed, hope to fall asleep and reset before I needed to pick my daughter up in a couple of hours. “She deserves a peaceful lunch!” the voices went, but I knew which option Mama Bear would vote for.

I did manage to wait until about 10 minutes into her lunch, so she could have a bit of a break after her last client, but then I sent a text: Hi. Was doing ok until suddenly not. Can’t get myself present oriented. Panic stricken parts that want to self destruct. Grandfather. I couldn’t quite manage to get myself to explicitly ask her to call, but I knew that with that message she would at least ask if I needed to talk.

She called a few minutes later and started in on helping me to present orient myself. Where am I? My art studio/ sitting room. What do I see? My cat in the other rocking chair. We talked about how he doesn’t only have extra toes, but he has proto- paws, with all of the claws and mini toes. Once I was more now oriented, she reminded me that I had been experiencing memories of the frantic need to escape that I had experienced with my grandfather. The urges had nothing to do with the here and now. I was already clear on that fact, but it still was nice to hear her say it.

We talked a bit more and she asked if I was ok with ending the conversation there. I slowly said, “Yes…” “Are you telling me the truth?” “Well I’m ok with it, but parts inside are frightened.” “Ah… Can you ask what would help them to feel more safe?”

I felt inside and then knew what was needed. “All of the work done over the last few months around the parts wreathed to my father is missing with these parts. They don’t have the same safety and ability to be comforted. I don’t want to dive into dealing with lots of issues around what happened with him right now, but I do think that I need to work with them to set up some of that same safety connection.”

“You don’t have any of it with these parts? ”

“No. At least not in the same way that is so helpful to the other parts. These parts really need it, too. They need to know that they are not alone and can be heard, even if they need to wait to fully tell their story.”

“That really is essential to you, isn’t it? Not being alone and being heard”


“Ok, this all makes sense to me. Shall we work on this when we meet on Friday? Is that ok?”

I felt an internal sigh of relief. “Yes, that would be good.”

These parts of me were terrorized by my grandfather. I’m at the point of increasingly taking in what that meant emotionally. I had somewhat grasped it intellectually, after all, I know what many, if not all of the acts were. But I simply didn’t grasp the emotional depth of what happened with him. I have struggled with suicidal feelings after dealing with intense material for a period of time around him, but I don’t remember ever going from being just fine to feeling such intense urges that clearly weren’t mine to do things to escape the memories that couple have seriously injured me or put my life at risk.

I wish that I could keep myself from falling into that pit in the first place, but it happens so automatically and quickly that I can’t stop it with my grandfather, yet. I have come to the point where I can at least keep one foot out of the pit with my father, so I know that it possible, it just takes time and effort to get there.

If I’m going to fall into the pit, then I wish that I could get myself out again, but I have come to see that when the terror is above a certain level, I freeze and can’t effectively help myself. The best that I can do is to reach out for help, create support and connections! and slowly start to learn that I am safe no matter how terrified I am in the memories. But I can’t do it on my own. I need help. I need someone else there, providing a new voice, with new messages, to help me teach the old voices that they can be safe now. They don’t have to do anything drastic to escape. They don’t have to struggle all on their own. Life is different today.

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Artist: Thea Penna

Artist: Thea Penna

I am feeling shaken and grieving…

If you have been reading my blog, you are probably aware that over the last few months I have been struggling with trying to figure out whether my father sexually abused me or not. Parts of me are terrified of him and I kept on experiencing things that were flashback like, but at the same time a large part of me was convinced that he didn’t actually abuse me. It has been maddening to deal with and I have been tearing myself apart inside to try to figure it out.

Over the last week or so, so things have shifted. I finally accepted that no matter how hard I try to figure out whether he did or did not abuse me in my head, there is no way that I can actually “prove it” to myself one way or the other. I needed to give up on trying to do it all together, although I wasn’t sure what to do with the parts of me who are convinced that he hurt me. All I was doing accomplishing was shredding myself apart inside and keeping myself hyperaroused. Then, yesterday Mama Bear asked me a question that was incredibly painful, but has caused me to look at my relationship with my father in a different way. She asked me, “When did he last take care of you?” When I replied, “A very long time ago,” she went on to ask, “If you don’t count things like feeding you, what about then? When did he last emotionally take care of you?” I just stared at her, because I knew that she knew what the answer was: I don’t remember him ever doing any sort of emotional care taking.

This morning, some things came together and finally started to make sense of my feelings for him. I think that I understand better why I have been so confused about my dad. I can’t say that this is all of it, but I think that it is a large part of it…

My father knew full well what sort of a man my grandfather was. He experienced how my grandfather treated children, because he grew up as my grandfather’s son. I strongly suspect that my grandfather was sexually abusive of him. Given how my grandfather was, would he really have waited until there were girl grandchildren available? What he did wasn’t about sexual desire, it was about control and hurting people who were weaker than you. I would imagine that a boy child would serve the purpose just as well. My father is severely homophobic, and he doesn’t hate/fear entire groups of people, so such a frame of mind is quite unusual for him. I think that there is a reason for the strength of his feelings; I think that he was sexually abused by my grandfather.

Anyways, in the here and now, I believe that it was highly likely that he should have been aware that my grandfather was capable of sexual abuse. I think that when I was a child I thought that he knew what he was sending me to- he knew what would happen to me. At least one part of me is convinced that he wanted for my grandfather to do those sorts of things to me. And I’m getting the message from my insides that I believed that my father wanted to do the same sorts of things and I lived in fear that it could happen.

Even if he never did anything to reinforce the fear that I was in danger (never molested me), he also never did anything to help me feel safe with him. I had no sense of security with him. There was no history of being shown that he cared about me and would help me in a meaningful way. Yes, he provided for the family, but he never provided for me emotionally. I had nothing to counter the fears that, in his heart, what he really wanted was to harm me. And I had ample proof that men in my family would act in ways that felt like they would destroy me.

It really is no wonder that I have this huge confused mess inside where he is concerned, and it’s no wonder that my insides are confused about what he did or did not do, if I lived in long term fear (terror really), thinking that it was likely that he would do something (maybe even expecting for him to do something at times.) I wouldn’t even have had vague fears of him doing “something” because I knew exactly the sorts of things that could happen.

Maybe I picked up on something between us and he really did have those sorts of urges, maybe not. I will never know. Maybe he actually did abuse me at some point. I probably won’t ever know the answer to that. But at least I think that I finally have an answer that is largely on track as to why my insides are telling me that at some level I lived in terror, but I also don’t think that actually he treated me like my grandfather did. Because, even if he did something, I know that he wasn’t the horror that my grandfather was.

This isn’t nearly as bad as those things actually happening, but God, it would have been horrible to live with. No wonder I have no trust for him. No wonder I carry so much rage. No wonder I am desperate to protect myself from him.

It may be that he never touched me inappropriately, but it’s still his fault that I lived with this fear. Living with the expectation that my father could decide to violate me at any time was traumatic. It harmed me. If he hadn’t put me in my grandfather’s hands, I wouldn’t have had reason to fear such treatment by him. He gave me no reason to believe that while my grandfather was like that, he was different.

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