Thursday, April 15, 2010

Belief Systems And Incest

Carla Dippel over at Emerging From Broken blog has written two articles about the belief systems that she inherited from her father.  Her first article she entitled "Illusive but Destructive:  Belief System Inheritance"    [ ].  Carla's second article she named "Unintentional but Destructive:  Belief System Inheritance" [ ]. 

In both of Carla's articles she talks about growing up with a father that she loved but also learning to not value herself because that is what her father modeled for her by not giving himself value.  Her father didn't set out intentionally to teach his daughter that she didn't have value as a person but he did teach this belief to his daughter was what he believed about himself.  That doesn't make him a bad dad or a bad person.  He was probably doing the best that he knew how.  It just wasn't sending the most beneficial belief system to his daughter.  As an adult, that devaluing of herself has created challenges  for Carla in her life.  She is addressing those challenges by looking at the belief system that her father passed on to her.  Until you have an awareness of what you believe about yourself and others, you can't make the needed changes.  I admire Carla's courage for doing this.  I thank Carla for doing this work out in the public on her blog so that others can benefit from her example.  I know it helped me to remember some of the belief systems that set me up to be abused.

In my last article, I shared a recent dream about my uncle.  In that article, I shared that my first remembered sexual abuse was at the hands of my uncle when I was 11 years old.  A major part of all of the healing that I have done around my incest issues has meant going back and looking at the beliefs surrounding each incident and feeling whatever feelings come up from remembering the incident. I really haven't done much of that with my uncle and this first time of being raped by a grown man.

I have had several conversations recently about survivors being attacked when they have broken their silences about the abuse that they have suffered through.  I tend to get angry when I see this happening to others or to myself  because for so many years we weren't allowed to speak or weren't listened to if we did try to speak out.  One of the biggest fears of a lot of survivors of abuse is that they will be blamed if the truth is known and that they won't be believed.  Those two beliefs kept me silent for almost 40 years.

The gun man in my dream [If you haven't read my previous post about this dream, you will find it at ] represents those fears of being rejected, blamed or not believed if I ever told about the incest with my uncle or my dad.  Children also have a fear of dying or being alone if they are taken from their parents.  The gun man would resort to shooting me because of those fears that I carried with me as a child and even as an adult.  I also had a very real fear of this uncle killing me if I ever spoke out against him.  My dad threatened suicide several times in my childhood.

In the dream, I wasn't in a house.  The dream took place in an apartment.  I see an apartment as having different levels.  The door didn't open up to outside.  The outside was always safe for me because I could be alone and I had space to run or hide if I wanted to.  The door opened up into a dark hallway.  This tells me that the healing for this issue is on another level.  I have never had a dream about this uncle before that I remember.  I have also never dreamed that I was in an apartment like this dream was.  So this level of healing will be different than the healing work of the past.  Because of those fears and the darkness, a part of me represented by the gun man is willing to kill to keep me from looking at this issue.  Some part of me is terrified of the truth and remembering.

I don't know how I feel about this dream and this issue yet.  I am calm and I am waiting to see what comes up.  I have asked for Divine Guidance in dealing with this issue and for what direction I am supposed to go with this.

What Carla's two articles reminded me of is that I was afraid of hurting my uncle's feelings if I didn't do as he asked, if I didn't do what he wanted.  I put his feelings above my own.  I allowed him to hurt me so that I wouldn't hurt him.  My parents taught me well about respecting adults and always obeying them and never speaking out.  I wasn't taught that I had value.  I was just a kid who was supposed to do what I was told by the adults.  Adults ruled my world.  Their safety and authority were more important than what I thought or felt or needed.  I was supposed to shut up and do what I was told so I did.

I can feel that I am not ready to give you the details of that time with my uncle just yet.  Today I honor the timing of the telling of my story.  I also honor the scared inner child who isn't quite brave enough yet for me to tell her story.  She and I both know the time is soon.  She is willing to take a step closer to the telling.  She is willing to trust the adult me to protect her when we do speak.  I thank you for your patience.  We are almost there.
Patricia and little Patty


me as i am said...

i love this post, patricia. i love hearing you honor yourself and protecting your inner child, reassuring her and giving yourself the time you both need. being patient and gentle with yourself.

i had never thought about the destructive aspect of the empathy i learned. how i used it to put the people who abused me in a position of their feelings being more important than mine. i was always very drawn in easily to feel pity and compassion for the abusers in my life. and that often put me off balance and didn't help me to take care of myself. i had an inner conflict between taking care of myself and feeling guilty for "hurting" or "rejecting" them.

i had to get to the point that i felt i cared for my own feelings more.

thank you for sharing your story. and about your dream too. i had a nightmare last night that i'm trying to learn from today. your post inspires me further to do so with a gentle approach towards myself. thank you~

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, thank you. I wasn't sure about this article when I posted it. Your comment shows me that I was right to post it. I am in unknown waters with this issue.

Anonymous said...

Powerful post, Patricia! I hear you putting pieces together of the incident with the uncle, but also the "don't talk" aspect of it, and how that has kept us in chains - by not calling it what it is and speaking out about it!

You've really taken what you found in the dream about the gun, and as you so often do, gleaned the powerful significance of it - in a very short time!

Thank you so much for this post!


Patricia Singleton said...

Dan, you are welcome for this post. Thank you for your comment. The "don't talk" aspect of the abuse can be very strong and the hardest aspect to overcome for some survivors. I am doing my best right now to understand what I am feeling and to not overeat and stuff the feelings back down.

Darlene Ouimet said...

Hi Patricia,
Once again you write a power packed post. The thing that still makes me so angry is that as children we LEARNED not to tell because telling was NOT safe. When I told my mother about something when I was 13, (well actually my aunt told her, becuase I knew better then to tell, but my aunt walked into the room where I was being molested in the night) my mother blamed me! That is abuse all over again, maybe even worse then the original abuse. I was terrified of every sound in the house after that, because I knew that man could come back and get me and my mother would not protect me. It was a horror.
Thanks for this post, even though we might trigger tough memories in each other, sharing is SO powerful! Glad to share the journey with you AND thanks for linking to our blog agian!!
Love Darlene

Patricia Singleton said...

Darlene, you are welcome. It saddens me that your mother knew and punished you for the abuse. I do know how sounds in a dark house can be so frightening. Rides in the truck with my dad were equally frightening for me because I knew he would stop somewhere along the way to sexually abuse me. What upsets me now is that nobody ever asked if I wanted to go places with him or with my uncle. That more than anything told me I had no choice in the matter.

Colleen said...

Thank you for sharing your story and your struggles. It helps us to know we are not alone and that our fears were not crazy! And I hope that by sharing your story, it helps you in healing as well, as you get the support from us, your friends. Hugs.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, you are welcome and thanks for the understanding, friendship and hugs. They are all appreciated.

Carla said...

Hi Patricia! I am seriously touched that you have drawn my story into your blog post. You've "recapped" my story so well- thank you for honoring it in this way. Bigger than that, what really struck me as I read was that the truth in my story is the truth in your story, even though the details are so different! Your abuse was so traumatic- but we both labored to not hurt the feelings of the people who were hurting us! I am so happy that you are finding your freedom and healing; your blog speaks volumes about the fantastic lady that you are. I am inspired by how you honor yourself, your story and in the wonderful message that you share. Thank you so much Patricia!

Unknown said...

Thank you Patricia for your courage and for honoring yourself to say "enough for now" and the bravery of speaking out about this.


Patricia Singleton said...

Carla, you are so welcome and thank you for sharing your story on your blog. You inspired me to write this article with your courage. This is the truth of many survivors and it needs to be honored by those of us who can write about our abuse. We need to speak out for ourselves and for those who are too frightened to speak for themselves.

Patricia Singleton said...

Susan, you are welcome. If I push to tell the story before my inner child is ready then I am abusing her as my dad and uncle did. She trusts me now. I have worked really hard to gain her trust.

Just Be Real said...

Wo Pat. Such a powerful deep heartfelt post. Appreciate you being so real and sharing yourself. Blessings to you and thank you for being a voice.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, thank you. You are one of the voices that inspires me with your courage to meet your challenges. You bless my life with your presence. All of my online friends are a blessing to me.

Anonymous said...

I admire your courage, and your insight. You have obviously come a long way in that you can recognize your own personal time for your healing.

You are doing a brilliant job of keeping little Patty safe. *hugs*

Patricia Singleton said...

Elle, thank you so much and little Patty thanks you as well.

Karen Murphy said...

Came to you through Urban Monk ... I'll be reading more.

I love that you found you were taught (shown) that you had no value, and now know the consequences of that while growing up and as an adult. Sounds like this will point you in the direction toward finding your value from the inside out. And along the way, you're taking others on your journey. There's nothing more beautiful than that! Love your self honesty.


Patricia Singleton said...

Karen, thank you. I am a big fan of Albert's too. My healing journey started with learning to love myself, learning to nurture my inner children, and learning to trust my life.

Shen said...

First of all, I love that you honor yourself and your inner child by waiting until the right time to say what you need to say.

I understand your fear. I think you already read my article called "What Happens to You Doesn't Define You". In that article I talk about how much scarier it is to imagine what happened than it is to actually know.
You are doing good work, for yourself, and that work pays off with each person you connect with - here, and in the real world. The good energy radiates out from those who have become enlightened. People who are ready and willing can see it, and I have a feeling you are positively glowing, already.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shen, thank you so much. Yes, I have read your article. It is a well written article. It is so true that we are not the abuse. Like you, I am working with each new awareness as it comes my way and that awareness changes everything.

Hold Fast said...

I have not yet had a chance to listen to your radio interview but just wanted to let you know I hope it wasn't too energy draining. I know how hard it is to verbalize these things because somehow it seems memories hurt more when the information is heard through our own ears. Sending positive energy your way. I admire your bravery so much and know you are helping others.

Patricia Singleton said...

Hold Fast, I haven't had a chance to listen to the interview myself yet. We left home on Friday for a long weekend trip and just got home earlier this evening. I hope to listen to it tomorrow. Right now I am catching up on emails and comments on my blog.

Thank you for your support and for sending positive energy my way. I didn't feel drained by the interview at all. I have talked about my incest issues since 1989 so talking about it for the interview wasn't as difficult as it might have been.

The interview did bring up resistance from my inner child who is still afraid each time that I, in some new way, break the silence of abuse. I could feel an inner trembling going on the whole time that I was speaking. I have to comfort the inner child and let her know that it is okay to speak out about abuse and that in order to help break the cycle of child abuse, I will continue to speak out.

Alamar Fernandez said...

Patricia, I thank you for your courage to write about what you are uncovering of your childhood abuse at the hands of Adults you were supposed to be able to Trust to Keep You Safe. I admire your willingness to address this very important issue in your life and to take care of your inner child!

And I thank DanLHay, for tweeting about your post!

I want to add to your journey, that when I had a memory flash of an incident from my adolescent yrs, being sexually abused at the hands of my Uncle, my Moms Brother, I went into group counseling (AMACS) Adults Molested As Children. What I thought would take a few weeks turned into a few years. Very hard work in those years but very rewarding to my Health and my Inner Child's Health. It's like peeling the layers away from an onion... layer by layer brings painful memories to the surface, but once faced and dealt with it and given proper value in our lifes... the grip is lessened in the present and The Value We Were/Are Born with.. slowly returns to be the norm, once again.
About 8yrs later, I arranged, set up, the oppty to confront my Uncle in front of my Mother... willing to lose my family if that was the end result. I told my Mother what I intended to do, if the oppty arose, with my Uncle. And that if she could not support me, to please not try to stop me...because then I would leave and never return.

It Gets Better!

Patricia Singleton said...

Alamar, thank you for sharing your story. I also thank Dan Hays for retweeting my blog post so that you saw it on Twitter tonight. I hope that you will come back and finish telling us what happened. I admire your courage in confronting your abusers and in asking your mother to support you.