It's been a bit, please forgive my absence; life gets busy. There's been a lot shakin' in Vanciland; mostly good, some bad and some indifferent but shakin' nonetheless. I hope to get time to post about recent events, but it might have to wait a bit.
The Sun's been tracking lower in the sky, though, and the days have been getting shorter so I can see the hibernation (and therefore time to write,) season peeking around the corner. I hope you're all happy, healthy and free of fear.
I've been reminded lately about shame.
How it festers, where it's hatched, what nourishes it and how it destroys.
You know about shame, too, right?
If you have a Abuser in your life - past or present - you know about shame.
I had a whole bushel of Abusers in my life. Hell, Abusers were my life for most of it. I know about shame.
I've carried it, eaten it, drunk it, watched it, heard it, felt it, slept with it, split a piece of bacon with it. (Shame took the larger piece, too, the greedy bitch.)
I've also shaken it off, buried it, turned a blind eye to it, ignored it, acted it out and - at times - beaten it.
But I think it's one of those feelings, one of those gifts from the Abusers, that's... well, it's sticky. Hard to walk away from. It follows me, damn it. And sometimes I inadvertently pick it back up and carry it around with me for awhile. Shame is a shadow. Always just there... right in the corner of my sight... but I can't quite grasp it.
I know where it came from. It was given to me. The Nparents always were shitty gift-givers; I'm not surprised that this was one of their most generous and graciously given gifts. They sewed it into the very essence of my being early on, like infancy, and they made sure it stuck with me.
They used shame throughout my childhood - when I was abused, whether it was physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, they knew they could get away with it. They knew I wouldn't tell. Of course I wasn't going to tell, and here's how they made sure of it - they made me believe that it was my fault. If I told, wouldn't I really just be telling whomever I told that I was bad, I was wrong? Furthermore, they made me believed that all the bad feelings I had, all of the pain and hurt that they caused me - that I deserved it.
This continued to work when I was an adolescent, but not as well. I revolted, I told. I felt momentary freedom. But I was outgunned, because they responded with increased shame, monumental amounts of shame. They used it to break me so thoroughly that it was actually easier for me to lie, to recant, to swallow my hurt and pride and future and protect my Abusers than it would have been to stand by what I'd told and continue to live (with them, under pressure, in the special hell that they created for me.) They made their dirty, nasty, stinking rotten treatment of me my fault yet again, and they made me pay for ever telling in the first place. They made me pay for years. And eventually they worked me back around to believing what they told me - that I deserved the shame that they intentionally made me feel.
So, I did the only thing within my power to do. I hurt the only person that I was allowed to hurt.
My self destructive behavior was on a Titan scale. I almost didn't make it. So they blamed me for that too. As recently as three years ago, in my very last meeting with my Abusive Mother and Abusive, sick, twisted fuck of a pervert Father (and my counselor,) Abusive Mother threw out that I was "such a difficult teenager." Ha fucking ha. Who wouldn't be, carrying around all that shame? But she was still trying to make it my fault, my burden, my cross to carry well into my thirties.
I pulled out of my death spiral when I had my oldest daughter, as much as I could anyway.
I think back to the amount of responsibility that rested squarely on my shoulders when I was eighteen years old, and I can't even fathom how I took even a single step toward wellness. And were they there to help me? In some ways, yes. I had no idea at the time just how costly their 'help' would be. I stumbled along the best I could, though, and I just kept trying to move forward. One. Painful. Step. At. A. Time.
I'll never forget how hard my Abusive Mother worked to get me to marry my first husband. He didn't even propose to me - she simply hijacked a conversation one day and asked him when we were going to get married. She pressed until he threw out a date. He of the crack pipe, who would leave me with bruises and scars of all kinds, with debts and with fatherless children. He was my Abusive Mother's choice for me. She even made me feel ashamed that I hadn't been with him for a while before (when he'd broken up with me,) and used to talk to any other guy who showed interest in me - some of them actually nice - about this other guy who was the 'love of my life.' At 18. Who fucking has a love of their life at 18? Isn't every one of them the love of your life at 18? What kind of mother does that? But she shamed me into getting back together with him, and then she shamed us both into getting married.
When it went bad, as it was bound to do, she blamed me for staying with him. She discounted the fact that I live in a joint custody state, and that if I'd filed for divorce at the time, he would have automatically been granted half-time with my girls. It took ten months for him to finally be caught by the police - aggravated assault against me, which I testified against him for, which he then spent four years in prison for - and then, and only then would the state grant me sole custody. But that wasn't good enough, I hadn't left soon enough, I wasn't good enough, according to dear old Abusive Mother. (Note that this was also the time frame that I needed the most help. I've found out now that this was also the time frame in which my daughters were being abused by my dear old Abusive Dad, and dear old Abusive Mother knew about it and covered it up.)
When I did leave, when I finally got it worked out, Abusive Mother had a heyday with trying to make me feel ashamed for the way that I raised my kids. They'd help, sure, on their terms. Never when I needed it most. And then I was made to feel guilty, awful, shamed for not spending enough time with my children. Here was my schedule for a year and half:
6 am - work first job. Work second job. Change diapers. Feed the kids dinner (none for me, though, I didn't have enough money for that.) Put them to bed. Go BACK to work at third job. Home at 2 am. Sleep until 4- 4:30. Lather, rinse, repeat. I made about, oh, $13,000 per year.
But according to Abusive Mother, I was making 'bad parenting choices.'
Choices? What fucking choices?
When I finally found a full time job, when I (out of the blue) met a decent guy who wanted me and wanted to be a part of my daughters' lives, according to Abusive Mother, I was being selfish. I wasn't putting my children first. And when decent guy stuck by me, when he adopted my daughters, when we bought our first house, when I was promoted at work... when I was successful, Abusive Mother said nothing. Abusive Father showed up and asked to borrow money, or my truck. The money wasn't usually repaid. The truck was always returned with the gas gauge on E.
When I spent all of my time ignoring that decent guy (I'll never know why he stuck it out the way he did, but I'm grateful,) and allowing the bad influences of the Abusers to affect my daughters, I was supposed to be ashamed then too. Because I had at least some happiness in my life, or at least I thought I did. And they didn't like that at all. I'll never forget the day before my wedding to decent guy (who actually proposed to me, who then spent the next six years telling me that my family was awful to me,) and I was at the Clan Compound trying to get things ready. Abusive Mother said, at one point when I was trying to dig through my check register and find the last couple of necessary dollars to pull off the wedding, "Gee, Vanci, I wish we had something to give you! It just always seems like when it comes to you there's nothing left!"
NSis had been married the year before, an event that I took a full week off of work to help pull off and that my Nparents sent me to her house with a $2,000 check to give her for wedding expenses. Why send me with that check when they were en route the following day? Shame, methinks.
And when I finally took a stand, Abusive Father said to me, "I just want you to know that I will NEVER forget the way that you have hurt us all, but I'm going to work on forgiving you."
At least at that point I was able to reply, "I'm not looking for your forgiveness. Forgiveness is only necessary when a person has done something wrong, which I haven't."
Shame is a weapon. Shame kills.
So, how to counteract it?
I know of only one way.
Tell the truth, always.
Tell it loudly and stick by it.
Drag the dirty secrets out into the light, kicking and screaming, and blast them with the brightest sun you can stand.
Ever notice how you don't have a shadow at noon?
And now, they've popped back up again. They think they'll be able to use their Weapons of Shame to sway the DD's to their 'side.' I'm ready, you abusive fucks. Bring it on.