Saturday, November 9, 2013

Biography Of Patricia Caldwell Singleton, Incest Survivor

I am an incest survivor and an adult child of an alcoholic. My dad and my grandfather were mean drunks who influenced me to not drink because I was afraid of becoming like them.  I am also a survivor of domestic violence from my dad's rages when he was at home. Even when he wasn't raging, he was verbally abusive with name-calling and intimidation. He was a dictator with his controlling of the entire family. My mother rarely made an decisions and I wasn't taught how either.  My family was dysfunctional in the extreme.

I have memories of incest happening from age 11-17. The first memories were of being raped by an uncle on a fishing trip and a long weekend alone with him at my grandmother's. He lied to me and my mother when he said my grandmother was home. She came home on Monday afternoon.

A few weeks later, my dad decided I was old enough to take my mother's place working twice a day on weekends helping my dad out at the dairy milking cows. On my first night of helping at the dairy, we went to the hay loft to throw down hay bails. While there, my dad took his shirt off and spread it out on a bail of hay and told me to pull down my pants and to lay down across the hay bail. No explanation was given for his actions. I remember feeling disgusted and thinking to myself, "Not daddy too." That is how the incest started and went on for 6 years. Every time my dad left the house, I was sent with him and I would be raped before we came back home. Sometimes later on he would also wake me up early mornings before the rest of the family woke up and he would abuse me in another room of our house. Most of the abuse took place in the front seat of his truck. My mother sent me on many of those trips. She missed many signs that I was being abused because she didn't want to see them.

At 17, I knew I was strong enough to say no to the sex and not let my dad manipulate me into changing my mind. The sex stopped but the emotional and verbal abuse continued until I ran away when I was 19 on the day after I took my last test of my second year at a junior college. I packed a small shopping bag that I normally carried books in with a few changes of clothes. I gave my sister a note to give to my mother when I didn't come home that night and had my mother drop me off at the college on her way to work that morning. An angel of a friend who was older than my own parents picked me up and took me home and gave me a place to live and helped me get my very first job for the Summer.  After 3 days of my mother lying, she told my dad where I was. He came after me. I went home for the weekend and then went back to my friend's house on Sunday evening. I had broken away from my dad's control. That took more courage than I knew I had. If I had stayed, I would have had a nervous breakdown and would have lost myself completely. I knew that so I was strong enough to not give in to pleas and threats that my dad used to get me to stay.

I went away to college at the end of that Summer and as a Junior at 20 years old, I met and 8 months later married my husband. Before we were married, he knew he was not my first sexual experience but I could not tell him that most of my experience came from my dad. I was too afraid he would leave me. We were married for 8 years (1980) when I told him and my sister both about the incest. Even after telling them both the truth, I continued to pretend that the incest was not affecting my life. In my marriage, I became a controller thinking that would make me feel safe. It didn't. People tried telling me what I was doing but I wasn't ready to hear it until one day my husband came in from work. I got angry about something, I don't even remember what it was about. I do remember hearing myself screaming at my husband that I hated him and I hated everything about my life. A part of me was watching and listening and was in shock that I blamed my husband for the hatred and the anger when it wasn't his fault. I knew in my gut that it was me that I hated, not him. I hated myself for the incest. I thought I was bad because of it. Almost immediately, I apologized to him and started working on changing me. Our county library only had 3 books about incest and none of them offered much help. I started reading books on self-improvement and started working on letting go of some of my controlling behaviors. Small changes happened but still no work on the incest issues. I didn't even know I still had incest issues. I wanted to pretend that I didn't. Today I know that is called denial and it is very unhealthy. Denial keeps you in the hurt.

My real healing started in January 1989 with my first 12-Step meeting. Since my dad and grandfather were both alcoholics, I was considered an adult child. I choose to not drink because of the fear that I would lose control and be a mean drunk too. Thanks to a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics written by Janet G. Woititz, I looked in my newspaper and found an adult child recovery group. In my mind the alcoholism and incest were intertwined. I couldn't separate the issues even though my dad didn't drink all of the time that he abused me.

I used those 12-Step meetings to talk about the incest. Those caring people believed me and didn't judge me or tell me that I was bad. They told me to get a sponsor and to work the Steps. My sponsor should have been a woman but I didn't trust women. The women in my childhood were all judgmental. One of them even told me when I was 5 years old that I was going to Hell for wearing shorts. I picked a man as my sponsor who I felt safe with. Shortly afterwards, he had me start working the 12 Steps and, after finishing with the first three Steps, writing out a very long 4th Step which had over 100 questions for me to answer about my childhood. I don't remember how long it took me to write out all of those answers but I was healing thru writing for the first time. Writing has always been an important tool to my healing. In writing, I don't censor my thoughts. I just write the words and feelings come out with the memories. I still do this today even. Those 12-Step meetings and the work I did with my sponsor saved my life and my marriage. I learned about codependency and dysfunctional families and so much about myself. I also went to 12-Step meetings for families and friends of alcoholics and found out where so many of my characteristics came from. I have written about those 12-Step meetings and the healing that I did in my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker.                                                       (  )

I do not remember who directed me to read The Courage to Heal written by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis but I am so grateful that they did. Not long after I finished reading The Courage to Heal, the workbook which was written by Laura Davis came out and I wrote my way thru all of the exercises in the Workbook. Those two books helped me to dig deep into the pain to start to do some major healing. I used those and other books and my 12-Step groups to talk, write and to heal my way thru the worst of my incest issues over the next 10 years. I was also in two different incest survivor counseling groups for a total of about 5 years. Because of the 12-Step concept of a Higher Power, I was also able to heal my relationship with God and myself. This was also the beginning of my spiritual journey.

In 2007, I got my first computer and thru meeting a new friend online who offered me much encouragement to write and share my story and also instructed me on how to set up a blog, my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker came into being June 1, 2007. Its growth has been slow and steady as other survivors have found and supported my articles. Regretfully over the past two years, I haven't written as many articles because of health problems and more time away from the computer. I do appreciate all of the support of my readers. It is thru my blog over the past six years that I have come to know a community of survivors and have in the past three years thru my blog, the use of Facebook and Twitter, I have become an advocate for myself and for other survivors of incest, rape, bullying, sibling abuse and domestic violence. I have spoken on a number of radio programs over the past three years to reach out to other survivors and to tell my story so that others know they can also tell their stories and they will be believed. I am an advocate for children, women and men. I am so grateful that men survivors are now breaking their own silence of abuse. Now the picture will come closer to being accurate. Too many of us have suffered in silence. I want survivors to know that they are not alone. I and others are here to hear you and support you back to health and healing.


Mary Graziano said...

Pat, what an amazing bio you have written, brought tears to my eyes as I remember my childhood, in so many the same ways as yours. Brought back a lot of memories for me, and tears to my eyes, we are so much alike in some of the things we had to put up with. With me my mother was the controller, the verbal abuser and physical abuser, my dad was quiet as a mouse, maybe that's one reason no one figured he would do what he did to me. You're blog has always been an inspiration to me when we first met as bloggers way back, you always helped me with your words of kindness and wisdom. and I thank you for that. Love you dear friend.

Patricia Singleton said...

Mary, my friend, yes, much of our childhoods are similar. That is why your beautiful poems inspire and touch my heart too. I love you too, dear friend.

Patricia McKnight said...

Pat what a fabulous presentation and healing path you have shared here. I often think about the AA meetings you had spoke of during our shows and how they listened to you. Even today if someone says they cannot find a listening ear, I recommend them to those meetings. In truth many alcoholics have buried pain of abuse and/or trauma so it is indeed a great place to connect with others. I appreciate your journey, your writings and the incredible positive spirit you share so much of with others. You are amazing my friend :) trish

Patricia Singleton said...

Trish, thank you so much for your kind words of support. Many of my 12-Step friends are alcoholics but I am not, only because I choose not to drink. I rarely drank even when I was younger because of the fear that I would be a mean drunk like my dad and grandfather. The 12-Step meetings that helped me to heal were for adult children of alcoholics and for friends and families of alcoholics. I had been quiet for so long and those people were so patient and loving with me. A flood of words flowed out of me like from a busted dam. Once the words started, nothing could stop them. I talked and wrote my way thru healing in those meetings. Thank you Trish. You, too, are amazing, my friend. Your strength and courage inspires me and others to keep moving forward and to reach out to other survivors. You were the first to call me an advocate.