Sunday, August 30, 2009

Out Of My Comfort Zone---Trust

I called my new Al-Anon sponsor for the first time. I walked in the door from shopping, picked up the phone and called her before I could come up with any excuses to not call her. I told her that I called her before I could chicken out again.

Trust is such a difficult issue for me even today. Right now it is even difficult to find the words to express my thoughts on the topic of trust.

In Al-Anon, I used to pre-think what I was going to say when it was my turn instead of listening to what others say on the chosen topic. Recently I called myself on this and as a result I often seem to stumble (at least to me) through what I want to say. I want honesty rather than perfection and approval. This is one way that I am stretching to trust myself and the group. I want what I share to come from my heart rather than from my store of knowledge. I don't want to continue to hide behind my knowledge.

I have to trust that when my sponsor asks me how I am that she really wants to know or she wouldn't ask. My automatic response was that I was doing fine. I know I am lying when I say the word "fine" anywhere in relation to my feelings. I learned in Al-Anon years ago that "fine" means (Pardon the language coming up.)

Fucked up

When I first heard that, I thought how true when I am in the middle of my emotional garbage. So when I tell you that I am doing fine, that is what I mean. When I am working on my incest issues, this is how I really feel when I can admit it to myself. That is the honesty that I want to have with myself and my sponsor---to be able to admit what I am really feeling.

As an incest survivor, for years I used the illusion of control in my life to feel safe. I have to trust my sponsor not to do or say anything that will hurt me. On an intellectual level, I can talk myself into sharing my issues with her. On a feeling level, sharing is more difficult. You would think that writing on this blog would make that easier but it doesn't. Sharing with you is different than sharing with my sponsor on a one-on-one level. Anyone with a therapist probably knows what I am trying to say.

My sponsor has me reading an Al-Anon book called Paths to Recovery - Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts. In working Step One - "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol---that our lives had become unmanageable." - I can easily say that I am powerless over alcohol. I can admit that my life has become unmanageable. Asking for help has been the difficult part for me. When I have to ask for help, that need brings out shame. Some part of me says that I need to be in control all the time, that I should be able to fix my own life, that I should be able to protect myself without help from anyone else. All of those thoughts come from shame and low self-worth. Some part of me equates powerlessness with being out of control.

Am I still talking about trust or has my ego steared me away from what I don't want to talk about. The bottom line is always how much do I trust myself. If I don't trust myself, how can I trust anyone else? I really want to be committed to doing this work rather than going to the kitchen and stuffing myself with food to get back into my comfort zone. I have been overeating this past week instead of facing my feelings head-on. That is something that I very much want to change. I will move forward through this one step at a time.

I hope that what I have written here makes sense. Right now I am too close to the feelings to know if all of the words are what I intend for them to be. Am I making sense to any of you?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Out Of My Comfort Zone---A New Al-Anon Sponsor

I am way out of my comfort zone this week, for several reasons.

First, on Wednesday after the Al-Anon meeting, I asked a lady to be my sponsor. That makes me accountable to her for my behavior and growth. When I asked her was during a hug. I started crying---still don't know what that was about. I told her that I have been meaning to ask her to be my sponsor for awhile. My obstacles to asking her have been my fear of being rejected, fear of being blamed for the incest, and fear of not being worthy of her time. Having a sponsor in Al-Anon means seeing her in person for discussions about my recovery, or lack thereof, while using the 12 Steps of Al-Anon to create growth in my life and talking to her on the phone several days a week besides at Al-Anon meetings. I touched a spark of shame that I didn't know was still there. That spark was about not being worthy of taking up someone else's time. That is my biggest reason for not calling someone else on the phone when I need help. Well, this week, I went out on a limb and asked. It left me feeling vulnerable which is a feeling that I still haven't learn to be ok with. Feeling vulnerable means not feeling safe to me.

My first sponsor was a male friend from Adult Children of Alcoholics. I was told that women should have women sponsors and men should have men sponsors so that no 13th stepping goes on. (I think it is called 13th stepping. I am not sure.) It prevents possible sexual abuse happening between the man and woman. At the time that I picked my male sponsor, I was more afraid of being judged by a woman. Most of the women in my life when I was a child were extremely judgmental. That was my biggest fear from women. At the time, I couldn't face that possibility. He was my sponsor until his wife came along. Then she became my co-sponsor. After her death ( ), I was very angry at God and didn't want another sponsor that could leave and abandon me. After a few months, I asked another lady to be my sponsor. This was only for a short time before I stopped going to Al-Anon.

Asking another person to be my sponsor is a very big step for me because it means that I have to do the First Step and give up control to another person as well as to God. It means that I now have to work all 12 Steps over again with a new person in charge. It is very hard for me to give any control over to another person in my life.

My new sponsor asked me to be sure and share all of the good stuff in my life too if I am going to share all of the garbage that comes along. Knowing me as well as I do, you will be hearing more about this new part of my journey. I made the committment to call my new sponsor every week which I haven't done yet. We did meet at McDonald's earlier in the week for breakfast and our first discussion as sponsor/sponsee.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back To School - Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Is Posted

Hi everyone. The August "Back to School - Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse" has been posted by Enola on her blog and found at the following link:

Twenty-five articles, all written by survivors of some form of child abuse, are included in this month's blog carnival. One of my articles is included in this month's carnival. If you haven't read it already it is called "Why Some People Are Blind To Abuse." You can find my article at the following link:

This month of August is when school starts for most of the school aged children in the United States. For some childhood abuse survivors, this time of children starting back to school brings up abuse issues.

I was the opposite in that going back to school meant freedom from the loneliness of the summer away from my books and teachers that I loved. I was a lonely child and I felt it more in the summer months when I was away from my friends and teachers.

School meant freedom from being in the home where the incest took place. School and books meant freedom to me. I was a B student with a few A's thrown in. Teachers were among the few people that encouraged me to grow, to do better than average. I was blessed with some wonderful teachers.

School was a world where I could pretend that the abuse wasn't happening. School was a place where I could be someone's favorite (teacher's pet) without it being about sex. I loved studying and learning. I was good at learning the teacher's style of doing things and imitating it when it came to writing school papers.

I was adaptable. To a degree, I was also invisible. I dressed in neutral, drab colors and didn't talk much. I spent a lot of time in the library rather than alone out on the school yard as a teenager. I wanted attention and friends and yet was afraid of those same people and attention. I was extremely shy.

I hope that you will join me this week in visiting Enola's blog and reading the articles on the "Back to School - Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Self-worth Means I Love You

Have you ever reached a place in a game where you find yourself falling short of your best game score and you just can't seem to reach a higher score? You keep playing the game over and over and still continue to fall short.

Life can be like your game. You can reach a point where all of the self-improvement techniques don't take you any higher. You have self-improved as much as is humanly possible. You are where you are in life. You can continue to strive to be better, more highly evolved, but in the mean time you are so focused on the future that you miss the present.

Life is going pretty good for you. You are in a good or even great relationsip with yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends. Where are you? Enjoying the benefits of all of your hard work to get where you are today or are you still thinking/feeling that you aren't worthy enough, smart enough, pretty enough??? The list can go on and on. When do you decide that enough is enough?

Life can be glorious when you allow it to be. All of it comes back to you, not the outside you, but the inside you. When are you going to be happy, content, successful enough for you?

It all always comes back to you and how much you love yourself. Today can you look in the mirror and say "I love you." to yourself and mean it? This is where self-worth comes from, not from someone outside of yourself but from you. Until you can love yourself, loving anyone else is impossible. YOU are the most important person in your life.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Case Of The Three-Year-Old Adultress

The following is something that I wrote years ago and a friend found and gave me his copy of it recently. I warn you that it won't be easy to read. It may cause flashbacks. It may make you cry. For that I apologize. It is still difficult for me to read. I wrote this when I was 40 years old which would put the date of writing this as 1991. I didn't write a date on this paper so I don't know the exact date that I wrote it. Here it is in its entirety.

Patricia C. Singleton
"I learned a new word today. That word is adultress---that word is me. I am sitting in church with my grandma and I am three years old.
Today I added a new word to my vocabulary. That word is fornicator---that word is not me. I am sitting in an Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting and I am forty years old.
This year, I am eleven years old. I haven't started to develop into a young woman yet, but it will happen later this year. My periods will start; I will develop breasts; I will grow hair under my arms; and I will grow hair on my pubic area. Before any of this happens, I will become an incest victim.
I don't have any memories of sexual abuse happening before the age of eleven. I remember a weekend of repeatedly being raped by an uncle. I remember the pain, the tears, the pleas for him to stop, the fear and the silence. I remember the sense of betrayal that I felt. I remember wondering what was wrong with me that I had caused him to do this to me. What I don't remember is any blood. This was my first time. I was a virgin.
A few months later, I started working on weekends helping my Daddy at the dairy barn. The first night we had to go to the hay barn to get hay down for the cows to eat the next day. I followed Daddy up the ladder to the loft. He turned his flashlight off. He told me to pull down my pants and to lay across a bale of hay. We were in total darkness. I was scared and disgusted. I knew, without being told, what was going to happen, again. The incest continued to happen an average of two times a week for the next six years. I have many memories from this period of my life---memories that, as an adult, I consciously tried to forget.
Until three years ago, I thought that I had a full memory of the years that the incest was happening. I went to visit an aunt who is a year older than I am. My aunt lives in Dallas, TX. My husband took our children to the Book Depository Museum from which Lee Harvey Oswalt was supposed to have shot President John Kennedy. When my husband walked into my aunt's house, he and our children were talking about the Museum. My husband asked my aunt and I where we were the day the President was shot in 1963. I said that I was in my 7th grade science class. My aunt looked at me and said that she and my grandmother were living with my family at that time. I looked at her and asked her to repeat what she had just said. I was shocked. I remember several times when we were children that she and my grandmother lived with us. I have absolutely no memory of them living with us at that time. I was confused and very frightened. If I didn't remember this, what else did I not remember?
My memories, or lack of those memories, remains a mystery to me. The pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place. Three years ago, because of some paintings that I did, a counselor told me that I was probably as young as eight or nine years old when the incest began. Two months ago, while I was sitting in my Incest Survivor Group listening to someone else talking, I suddenly heard a child's voice inside my head. She shouted, "Something happened when you were seven years old!" I still don't know what happened, but I believe my feelings that tell me that something of importance did happen.
Three weeks ago, I told my story for the first time. My story was told to a mixed group of men and women from several different recovery groups. Because I wanted to hear my own story, I taped it. I knew I wouldn't remember half of what I said to the group. I listened to the tape twice alone at home. The third time I played the tape was for my Incest Survivor Group and one of my counselors. Because this was a safe environment, I was able to hear a sentence that I hadn't heard myself say before. What I said was that at a very young age, I had labeled myself as an adultress. As I heard myself say this on the tape, a picture from my past came to mind. I was sitting in church with my grandmother listening to the preacher talk about adultery. I was three years old when I first labeled myself as an adultress. The sexual abuse was already happening in order for me to attach the label of adultress to myself. I don't have any memories of this happening, but why would a three-year-old attach that label to herself unless, in her own mind, it fit the circumstances she was living in?
Two weeks ago, at an ACA meeting, I was talking about labeling myself an adultress at the age of three. A person in the group pointed out that I wasn't married so I couldn't be an adultree at the age of three. That person said the label should have been fornicator instead of adultress.
The Webster's Encyclopedia of Dictionaries gives the two following definitions:
"Adultery---violation of the marriage vows."
"Fornication---sexual intercourse between unmarried persons."
As an Incest Survivor, I am not guilty of being an adultress or a fornicator. I was forced into a sexual relationship that was not of my choosing. I was the victim. I am now a Survivor who refuses to believe the lies she was told as a child. I know that I was not a three-year-old-adultress.
I was a victim of the adults in my life. As an adult, instead of punishing myself for something that was never my fault, I can celebrate each day of my life. I have the new found freedom to experience joy, laughter, and serenity. I can now allow myself to experience all of my emotions, including my fear and anger. As a Survivor, I am learning to take care of myself. As I grow in strength and become more open to life, more memories may surface.
I am learning what courage is. Courage is being afraid and doing the work anyway. Dealing with the pain, fear and anger of recovery takes courage. I don't know where this story will end for me. I do know I am willing to make the journey because in the end, I will be a better person.
Also, by sharing my story with you, I may give you the awareness that the adults in my life didn't have. If you can do something to prevent a child being abused, please do it. A child may not be able to ask for help. They are often afraid to say anything if they have already been betrayed by an adult that they trusted. As an adult, don't be afraid to get involved. If you think something is wrong, please ask the child. As a child, I couldn't tell anyone what my dad was doing. I didn't think anyone would believe me. I often prayed that some caring adult would ask me if something was wrong. Then I could break the code of silence that I was taught by my abusers. Don't ignore the signs of abuse. Protect our children."
Even back in 1991, I knew that I would some day be writing about my abuse in order to help others. This past week, 5 of my email subscribers unsubscribed while I gained at least that many or more new subscribers through the feed readers. I am always sad to see any of my readers leave. I am always pleased to see new readers come along. Thank you to both for joining in on my journey, even if it is for just a short time.
I know that what I am writing about is difficult to read. Without breaking the silence of abuse, nothing and nobody changes. Holding it all inside, silently suffering keeps you a victim. Sharing with others makes this burden easier to bear until it turns itself around and becomes a blessing. You may ask, how does incest become a blessing? The blessing comes from the strength and compassion that I have today that I might not would have if not for my experiences of the past.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Daniel

My biggest supporter in this journey through life had a birthday yesterday on August 4. He turned 60. He can't believe it and neither can I. Both of us wonder where the time went. The person I am talking about is my dear, sweet, very patient husband Daniel.

The "Just for You!" card from American Greetings that I gave Daniel this year said things like,
"I love you because. . .
You believe in me
You're so lovable
You're a romantic at heart
You listen
You make me laugh
You're fun and surprising
You're honest with me"

The card also says,
"You're incredibly sexy
You're hugs are the best
You're the world's greatest kisser"

Those last three made me giggle when I read them. This was such a great card because it says everything that I feel about my husband. Don't you just love greeting cards.

All of those words from the greeting card are so true. Daniel is my husband, my lover and my very best friend in the whole world. He has supported me through all of my many struggles with incest, codependency and the alcoholism issues from my childhood. He has supported me as I struggled to figure out who I am, what I want from Life, what I need from myself and from him in this relationship called marriage, and as I struggled with being a mother while I was learning to mother myself. The years haven't always been good. I haven't always been kind. Some years I was very angry. Often I felt almost lost in the sadness of loss that the inner child felt.

One of the best qualities that Daniel possesses is his wonderful, querky sense of humor that can always cheer me up and remind me that there is joy to be found in Life. Daniel has allowed me the space to grow and to be whatever I have needed to be in order to find out what being me really means. Daniel you hold my heart in your very strong, capable hands and you always will.

Darling, I really do love you with all of my heart.
Happy Birthday Daniel
Your loving wife,

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 74

This Carnival came out on July 15, so I know that I am presenting this to you late. I have been processing more stuff lately and didn't look at it myself until yesterday. Any way, here is the link for this month's Carnival Against Sexual Violence 74:

The Carnival is hosted by Marcella Chester at her blog abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open. Thanks Marcella for the wonderful job that you do. Now I am going to go and start reading this Carnival's articles. I hope you will do the same.

Enjoy your summer.