Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

May the New Year bring you lots of love, new friends, laughter and great health.  May you easily see all the lessons that friends and Life bring to you in 2011.  May 2011 be as prosperous as you want it/allow it to be.  (You do have a choice in the matter.  None of us, as adults, are helpless victims of Life.)  May the love of family and friends warm your heart and soul every day of 2011.  May 2011 be the best year that you have ever had for growth and discovery of the real you.  Know that this particular request can open you up to facing pain as well as joy in your life.  Both are sometimes necessary for for real growth to happen.  Remember the saying, "Be careful what you wish for.  You may get it."  Just not in the way that you envisioned.  We forget that God sees the whole big picture.  We don't. We also don't always know what is good for us.  God does.

In 2011, become more aware of how you are influenced by those around you and how you in turn influence them and others that you come in contact with daily.  As a valid example of this, I want to share a comment with you that I left at the following post on the blog Confessions of a Mystic.  Here is the link to that blog post: .

"As a child, I learned to be whatever those around me wanted me to be, to be accepted and loved.  As an adult and survivor of childhood incest, I learned to be me.  If you didn't like me as an authentic person, you didn't need to be in my life.

Today, over 20 years after starting my walk down this particular path of recovery, I am still discovering parts of me that I disconnected from and left behind in order to survive growing up in my family.  I like the me I am today.  I like the me that I am still becoming.  More important, I have learned to love the real me more than I care for what you like about me."

Today, I am full of love and gratitude for all that 2010 has shown me and for all that has happened in my life because of beginning this blog in 2007.  I couldn't have imagined the growth or the friends that that one action brought into my world.  I am grateful for each one of you that reads and comments here on my blog.  Each of you brings new Light into my world.  For that I thank you all.  Sending lots of love and (((Hugs))) your way for now and for the glorious beginning of the New Year 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To All

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my wonderful subscribers.   The pneumonia finally left and went on its way about a week and a half ago just in time for my husband Daniel to give me his cold with sniffles and cough.  As if I wasn't already coughing enough for both of us.  The cough has continued to linger even today.  I don't cough as often as I was so it too is slowly going away.  My energy levels are now close to normal which is good with the Christmas cooking that I am doing today.  We celebrate Christmas Eve with my in-laws and Christmas Day with my brother, sister and her family so I cook food for both family celebrations.

Today I have already made a sage cornbread dressing the way that my mother showed me how to make when I was a teenager.  This is one recipe that I have never measured.  I always do it by taste which is how my mother did it.  I don't like dressing in the turkey so I have always made mine separate.  For Christmas, my sister-in-law is cooking the turkey and I have a ham waiting to go into the oven as soon as I am finished baking the 3 pumpkin pies that are in the oven right now.  Later I will make a fruit salad with Cool Whip and Eagle Brand Milk and Cherry Pie Filling.  I also made a cheese ball for my brother-in-law and Baked Beans for my neice and sister.  This year that will be the extent of my cooking.  I missed out on all of that Thanksgiving because I was sick with pneumonia.

On another note, you know that our son and daughter-in-law got married by a Justice of the Peace on May 12.  Well, they still wanted to have a big wedding for family and friends to see them say their wedding vows.  The wedding happened on Saturday, December 18 at 6:00 p.m.  We had a turnout of about 45-50 people.  Jeremy's best friends from Boulder, Colorado came in for the wedding.  Melonie's dad, who at first didn't think he would be able to be here for the wedding, moved back to Hot Springs last week so he was here to give her away.  Last month when she didn't think that her dad was going to make it to the wedding, she asked my husband Daniel to give her away.  He said yes.  He had no problem stepping down when her dad could do the honors.  When the music started playing, I looked around and Daniel was nowhere to be found.  I thought to myself that he was going to miss the bride walking down the isle.  He didn't.  Unknown to me, Melonie had asked "both of her dads" to walk her down the isle.  Daniel said no at first because he didn't want to step on anybody's toes.  Melonie told him that she had asked for permission to have both of them walk her down the isle.  I know that touched Daniel deeply even though he hasn't said that it did.  I thought it was very sweet of Melonie to include Daniel.  It was a beautiful bride and wedding.  I was blessed to be well enough to go to it.

I didn't intend to leave my blog unattended for so long but the pneumonia and then recovering from it took longer than I expected.  Then I got busy with the wedding.  I gave gift cards to some of the people on my Christmas shopping list this year because I simply ran out of time to shop or wasn't well enough to shop.  I almost always have the majority of my Christmas shopping down before Thanksgiving.  It just didn't happen this year.  I am going to go check on my pumpkin pies now.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a glorious New Year of 2011.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Splinteredones's Blog Hosts November Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

First, an update for all of you wonderful friends who expressed concern over my bout with pneumonia.  I don't go back to the doctor for a check-up until December 6.  I have had a quiet week surrounding Thanksgiving with my sweet husband taking care of me.  He even cooked his own turkey breast roast for Thanksgiving Day.  It was a simple roast that came with its own cooking pan.  All he had to do was put it in the oven for a little over an hour.  I had a pan of cornbread dressing that I had made and put in the freezer several months ago.  All I had to do was defrost it and put a serving into the microwave to warm it up.  Open a can of his favorite cranberry sauce and a few veggies and he was happy.  I had some fake chicken (I am a vegetarian.), some of my cornbread dressing and some freshly made coleslaw and I had a great meal too.  We both missed the family that we usually have surrounding us at our house on Thanksgiving Day.  Instead they all met at Daniel's mother's house in Louisiana.

I lost 12 pounds from not having an appetite over a week and a half.  I haven't been on the scales recently but have probably gained most of it back since my appetite came back this week.  My energy levels are much better and most importantly because of the breathing treatments that I have been doing, my breathing is back to normal.  I still have a cough, sinus drainage and fluid behind my ear drums.  I have 5 more days of breathing treatments to do. 

Thank you all for your prayers and healing energy that you have sent my way.  I love and appreciate you all.

Splinty over at Splinteredones's Blog is hosting the November Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.  I hope you will join me in going to her blog and reading all of the submissions for this month's Carnival Against Child Abuse.  I have 3 submissions in the Carnival myself.  I saw some new submitters this month that I am looking forward to meeting through the sharing of their stories.  Here is the link:

I hope that you all had a glorious Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Thanksgiving Will Be Spent With Pneumonia As A Companion

Hi everyone.  I haven't posted a recent article because I have been sick the past 11 days.  I went to the doctor Wed., Nov. 10 because I had a temperature, a weight on my chest that made taking more than half a breath impossible, fluid behind both ear drums, sinus drainage, a low temperature, and a cough.  I woke up with all of this going on Sun., Nov. 7.

The doctor said I either had the flu or was having a heart attack.  We did blood tests, a chest xray and two heart tests.  All the tests were normal.  I got an antibiotic because I still had a slight kidney infection going on from my last doctor's visit several weeks ago.  I got a second antibiotic, a cortizone shot and a cough medicine plus an over the counter antihistimine to take.

I started to feel better except for the breathing and coughing.  I haven't had a temperature in almost 3 days.  My appetite which was almost non-existent is almost back to normal.  I lost 12 pounds from not eating.  I don't suggest anyone try to lose weight that way.  My energy levels have risen.

The coughing got a lot worse last night so I went back to the doctor today.  We did another blood test to check white blood cell levels.  They were normal.  We did another chest xray and this one showed that I have pneumonia in the lower part of my right lung.  I had a breathing treatment which made it easier to breath and made the coughing worse for a little while.  I did feel better for awhile and could even take an almost normal breath.  Tomorrow a saleman will deliver a breathing treatment machine and teach me how to give myself a breathing treatment three times a day for the next two weeks.  I also have another antibiotic plus got a steroid shot at the doctor's office today.

I had to cancel our family gathering for Thanksgiving because it was supposed to be at our house this year.  The doctor wants me doing a lot of resting the next two weeks.  She told me the pneumonia would have already been a lot worse if I hadn't been on the antibiotic for my minor kidney infection of the past several weeks.

I want to wish all of my American friends a glorious Thanksgiving.  Until I get to feeling better, I won't be spending much time on the computer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Short Biography - Who Am I?

I am a woman who has struggled with knowing who I am and what I want out of Life.

I am a daughter who was neglected and sexually abused as a child and survived.

I am a sister who tried to be perfect and failed as protector of my younger siblings.

I am a wife who loves my kind and very patient husband as best I can with the intimacy scars that I still carry.

I am a mother who swore I would love and protect my own children from incest.

I am an incest survivor who shares my stories to offer hope, strength and healing to other survivors.

I am an incest survivor who refused to ever quit.

I am a wounded child who has learned to thrive as a loving, beautiful woman.

Because of the struggle with incest, I am strong and compassionate when I might not have been otherwise.

I am who I am because of the incest, not in spite of it.

Today I am a survivor and a thriver who loves my family, friends and my life. 

I still struggle some days, but there is also laughter and joy in my life.

I still hurt and get angry at times but have also forgiven my abusers and myself.

I call my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker because my life has been a spiritual journey back to God and his love. 

I call myself a Lightworker because we all, at our centers, are Light. 

I choose to shine my Light to help others heal from the pain of child abuse.

If I can heal, I know that you can heal too.

Will you join me in letting your Light shine and helping someone else to heal?

We all are so much more than our experiences can define us as.

Let your Light shine for the world to see that united we stand to stop child abuse.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest Post On Emerging From Broken - Self-Worth Gives You Ability To Say No

Today you have to do a little traveling across the internet from the southern USA all the way to the southwestern part of Canada where Darlene Ouimet sits at her computer and puts out her blog Emerging From Broken.  The internet really has made the world smaller.  Without it, Darlene and I would never have met and established our friendship online over the past year.

Today rather than a post here for you to read, Darlene asked me to do a Guest Post for her at her blog Emerging From Broken.  The post is called "Self-Worth Gives You Ability To Say No by Patricia Singleton".  You will find the post at the following link:

Please feel free to leave comments here afterwords and to also join the conversation at Emerging From Broken.  If you have never visited the blog Emerging From Broken, please take the time to do so and read some of Darlene's thought provoking articles.  You will be glad that you did.

Again, thank you Darlene for allowing me the honor to speak to your blog readers about part of my own journey through recovery from incest.  I appreciate you and the work that you do at Emerging From Broken.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In The Process Of Forgiving, Self-Forgiveness Comes After The Feelings

Forgiveness does not mean "getting over it" as some people will tell you to do.  There is no "getting over" no matter how much you try, no matter how much pain you are in, no matter how much you may wish you could "get over it."  In my experience, "getting over it" just doesn't work.

I tried many times and many ways to get over, under, and around the pain of incest.  I even tried denying my pain and feelings and wearing a smiling, happy face for several years.  None of it worked.  I even tried stuffing it down with food and denied myself access to my dad's family of origin for 10 years in an attempt to be happy and normal.  The reality was Hell instead.  I wasn't happy.  I wore a mask of sweetness with my friends and almost continual feelings of rage that kept escaping and affecting me and those I loved. 

In some ways, I recreated the home of my childhood.  I was the raging controller [my dad].  My husband was the passive-aggressive one [my mom].

I tried controlling and fixing everyone else's problems so I wouldn't have to feel my own pain or look at my own problems.  None of it worked and I still couldn't forgive.  I just hated myself more.  I ignored my physical and emotional needs.  I pretended they never existed, just like my parents did when I was a child.

I often tell others that I was blessed to have a dad and grandfather who were alcoholics because when I  was able to see myself as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I was able to finally see who I was and what the family disease of alcoholism was doing to my life.  Add the incest on top of that and the mixture was even more dysfunctional and often intense.

Getting a sponsor in my 12-Step programs was my second blessing in recovery.  Thank you, Jack.  He made me start attending Al-Anon meetings not long after I started Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings.  I can honestly say that Adult Children meetings saved my life and my sanity and helped me find myself where I was finally able to do forgiveness further down the road.  The Al-Anon meetings were about healthy and unhealthy relationships and helped me save my marriage and start a new relationship of healing and forgiveness with myself and my family.

I had to heal me before I could even think about forgiveness.  I had to feel and work through my feelings of anger, rage, shame, hurt, betrayal, trust, abandonment and safety.  I had to first create a feeling of safety before I could begin to trust myself or anyone else.

My 12-Step sponsor had me make a list of people that I needed to make amends to.  Then he told me to put myself at the top of the list.  Then I had to make a list of things that I needed to forgive myself for first.

That list for self-forgiveness included:

Forgiving myself for believing the lies of my abusers.

Forgiving me, the adult, for ever believing that the child me was capable of protecting herself.  I wasn't given the tools to do that by my parents.  I was just a child.

Forgiving me, the adult, for blaming the child me for the incest.

Forgiving me, the adult, for staying silent about the incest for so long.

Forgiving me, the adult, for abandoning my own inner children when they really needed me the most.

Forgiving me, the adult, for adding on more abuse by listening and believing my inner critic voices for so long.

Forgiving me, the adult, for using food to keep my feelings buried inside for so long.

Forgiving  me, the adult, for being so afraid all the time instead of living my life to its fullest.

Forgiving me, the adult, for allowing my rage to control me and for using that rage to hurt others.

Forgiving me, the adult, for living in denial for so long.

Forgiving me, the adult, for being so controlling of people and circumstances and becoming my dad the dictator, in the early years of my marriage.

Forgiving me, the adult, for hiding behind a mask and not allowing the real me to shine my Light for others to see. 

Forgiving me, the adult, for carrying around the shame of my abusers and believing it was mine.

Forgiving me, the adult, for not seeing the abuse of bullying that my daughter went through in her teenage years of high school because I was so focused on my own needs at the time.

Forgiving me, the adult, for not being a better protector of my daughter when a teenage boy made sexual advances toward her when she was 10 years old.

Forgiving me, the adult, for passing so many of my fears on to my children so that my son suffers from panic attacks today.

Forgiving me, the adult, for not being more emotionally present for my children, when I was so focused on my early recovery that they probably felt that I wasn't there for them.  In many ways, I wasn't.

Forgiving me, the adult, for lashing out at my husband with my rage before I reached the stage of being able to control it and hurting the person, other than my children, that I love the most.

The child that I was doesn't need forgiving.  The abuse was never her fault.  She didn't deserve to be treated the way that she was by her abusers.  She was blameless and shameless for what was done by the adults in her life.

Links to other posts on forgiveness:

Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker's post
"Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting The Child Abuse"

Emerging From Broken's post
"Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant"

Overcoming Sexual Abuse's post
"What About Forgiveness"

Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker's post
"Revisiting Forgiveness"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting The Child Abuse


Over at the blog Emerging From Broken, a conversation is going on about forgiveness.  This isn't your usual discussion of forgiveness that you would hear at your local church or maybe even in your own family discussions on the subject.  This discussion is heartfelt and often bone-weary, by survivors who have thought long and hard about what forgiveness means and what it doesn't mean to them as survivors of abuse.  I have written on the subject of forgiveness more than once or twice here on my blog.  Please bear with me again.

First, and foremost, in my mind is the opening statement above.  I will repeat it so you forget.


Why?  Because if you forget, the abuse---emotional, physical, sexual---that happened to you or to someone else that you know and love, how can you ever hope to stop the abuse that will damage the next generation of children.  If you forget, someone can come along and abuse you again.  You cannot stop what you are not aware of.  You cannot let that happen.  You could do nothing to stop your own abuse when you were a child.  Yes, the child abuse that you lived through WAS NOT your fault.  [Sorry about the shouting with all the capital letters, but this topic is important to me.] 


Darlene [Emerging From Broken], it looks like I caught your Rant.  Thanks for passing it along.  I hope that I do the same with my words.

Some words about forgiveness:
"You must forgive your parents."
"You must honor and love your parents."
"You should keep family matters in the family."
"Just forgive and move on."
"I am so tired of hearing you complain about your incest issues.  Can you just shut up?"
"Get over it."
"Heal already.  This has gone on long enough."
"I don't want to hear another word about your issues."
"Why can't you just forgive and forget."
"How much longer are you going to talk about this subject?"
"Do you have to talk about the incest all the time?"
"That was a long time ago.  This is now. Shouldn't you be over that by now?"

These are a few of the things that have been said to me to supposedly help me or shut me up and hurry me along on my way to healing and forgiving.  Did any of them work?  No, they just made me angry and hurt and helped me to doubt and abuse myself with questions such as:

"Why can't I just do what they say?"
"Why don't I just shut up and pretend that it doesn't still hurt?"
"Denial isn't so bad. Is it?"
"Forgiveness seems to be so easy for everybody else.  Why can't I do it?"
"I must still be so stupid, like my parents said, because I am just not getting it."
"Forgiveness is just something else that I am screwing up."
"I just can't get anything right."
"I am just no good or I could forgive."
"Maybe my parents were right and I'm just a bad seed."
"Everything I touch goes wrong."
"I am such a stupid Bitch that I can't even do forgiveness right."
"It is all my fault any way."

Did any of those statements make it any easier to heal or to forgive?  NO.  When my own doubts joined with the words of others to further confuse me and the issue of forgiveness, I was actually ever further away from forgiving than when I started out.  These words and doubts just gave me more ways to abuse myself.  Abusing myself is just another something that I have to do forgiveness for.  Is it any wonder that we often feel overwhelmed when we first look at forgiveness?

Well, I think that my Rant just turned into a series of posts because I am just getting started on what I wanted to say about forgiveness.  This post isn't the direction that I thought I would be going when I sat down out here on my front porch to enjoy the mild Autumn temperatures, fresh air and sunshine while I was thinking and writing out my thoughts.

If you reach the place where you can forgive your abusers, DO NOT EVER FORGET THAT YOU WERE ABUSED!

Here are the three other blog posts that prompted me to sit down and write out my thoughts about forgiveness:

Emerging From Broken's post
"Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant"

Overcoming Sexual Abuse's post
"What About Forgiveness"

Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker's post
"Prelude To Forgiveness"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Laundry List of Adult Children Of Alcoholics

My very first meeting of Adult Children of Alcoholics I was given a packet of information which included what was called The Laundry List.  It is a list of characteristics for Adult Children.  This list works for Adult Children of any dysfunctional family. 

From Becoming Your Own Parent, The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families, by Dennis Wholey, Bantam Book, New York, New York, 1988, page134-135:

"The list came into being in the mid-1970's in New York City.  It was authored by Tony A., a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The list of characteristics resulted from his own written personal inventory.  It was presented to a group he belonged to at the time, an offshoot of grown-up Ala-Teen members called Hope for Adult Children of Alcoholics."

Here is a list of the characteristics for Adult Children of Alcoholics from the above book and from the list that I was given at my first ACA meeting back in January 1989:

1. "We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
2.  We became approval seekers and lost our identities in the process.
3.  We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
4.  We either become alcoholics, marry them---or both---or find another compulsive personality, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
5.  We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
6.  We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility; it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our faults.
7.  We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
8.  We become addicted to excitement.
9.  We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."
10.  We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings, because it hurts so much.
11.  We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
12.  We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment, and we will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience the painful abandonment feelings that we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
13.  Alcoholism is a family disease, and we became para-alcoholics who took on the characteristics of that disease, even though we did not pick up the drink.
14.  Para-alcoholics [co-dependents] are reactors rather than actors."

When I first read this list of characteristics, I could circle eleven of the fourteen as pertaining to me---#1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.    I grew up in a home with a dad who was an alcoholic and a mother who was a para-alcoholic or co-dependent.  I grew up to become co-dependent.  I married another Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  Almost all of the young men that I dated before I met my husband are possibly alcoholics today.  I took on some of the characteristics of my dad and of my mother even though I choose not to drink because I carry the gene for alcoholism.  Both of my children also know that they carry this same gene.

I went into those first ACA [or ACOA]  meetings knowing that I didn't have a clue as to who the real me was.  For years, I had stuffed feelings down deep inside of me where I wouldn't have to feel and I could deny that the alcoholism and the incest wasn't still affecting me.  My family was dysfunctional because of the alcoholism and also because of the secret of incest.  I also discovered that I had major control issues and abandonment issues.  When I left home, I started to be controlling so that I wouldn't feel the abandonment.  If I was in control, you wouldn't leave me.  The reality is that it is a miracle that I didn't push my husband away with my demanding control of our lives.  In promising myself that no one was going to ever have the control over me that my dictator dad had when I was a child, I became the rigid controller in my life.  After ten years of living that way, I realized that I was not happy with being "in control."  The reality was that I was very much out of control and becoming more and more fearful by the day instead of feeling safe like I wanted.

Can you relate to any of these characteristics?

Monday, October 25, 2010

From Tracie Posts October Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

Thanks to From Tracie for hosting this month's October Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.  You will find the post at the following link:

Three of my recent blog articles are included in the post this month.  I hope you will join me in going to read about the stories of other abuse survivors who are brave enough to tell their stories and help to break the silence of abuse.  You will find some very courageous and healing bloggers who I admire and sympathize with in their journey toward wellness.  Thanks to all of you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Daddy - Facing My Incest Abuser

June 29, 1992

Dear Daddy,

You used me and sexually abused me when I was just a child.  You betrayed me when you were supposed to be taking care of me and helping me to grow up.  I loved you and you used that to hurt me.  What you did was wrong.  I was just a child.  I couldn't stop what you were doing.  You were the adult and responsible for your own actions.  Nothing you did was ever my fault.  You, as an adult, should have been in control of your actions.  Instead, you took advantage of a little child who did nothing to encourage your actions.  I never wanted you to be anything but my Daddy.

I never wanted to be your sexual partner.  I loved you, but I also hated you for what you were doing to me.  Did you know that I hated you?  Did you know that I was afraid of your temper?  Did you know that I don't sleep well at night because of you?

No longer can you be a part of my life.  Your influence is too painful and too destructive to those I love.  I will not let you hurt me or my family.

I give you back your shame and your anger.  I refuse to accept any part of it.  You are alone because you use and hurt people who try to love you.  I refuse to feel dirty or bad or guilty because of what you did.  I did nothing wrong.

I am putting my life together and becoming who I want to be and you have no place in my life any more.  Right now I don't feel any love for you, I only feel anger toward you.  I feel sad for the life that we could have had when I was a child and for the relationship we could have had as adults if you had just loved me instead.

Your kind of love is too sick and I won't have that in my life.  The price is too high.  I am learning to deal with my own pain and anger just as you will have to live with yours.  Please stay out of my life.  I don't need you.

I feel sad that my children do not have a grandfather that they can love and who can be there to watch them grow up to be adults.  I intend to tell them why you are not in their lives so that you can never abuse them.  I can protect them as I could not protect myself from you and your so-called love.

I wrote this letter with the intent of reading it to my dad face-to-face but that didn't happen.  He suddenly disappeared when I started trying to track him down.  Then I decided to mail the letter to him but nobody had an address for him.  I held on to the letter.

Finally one evening months later, I got called to the phone by my husband.  My dad was on the line wanting me to do something for him.  I told him I was glad that he had called because I had something that I wanted to read to him.  I went and got the letter I had written.  When I started to read, he got angry and interrupted me.  I got angry and told him to just shut up and listen.  He said okay.  I was shaking so hard that it showed in my voice as I read the above letter to him.  When I finished, he said that if that was the way that I wanted it to be, then fine, that is how it would be.  We hung up.  I didn't talk to him again until he was in the hospital sometime in 1999.  His sister had called me and told me that Dad had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.  Surgery was done but all of the tumor could not be removed.  He died early sometime on the morning of January 6, 2001.  He died as he lived - alone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Revisiting Dear Family Member Letter About Incest

I had lost my copy of the Dear Family Member letter that I sent to all of my aunts and uncles on my dad's side of the family.  My sister recently found her copy and gave it to me.  My last post is of that letter.  If you haven't read it, here is the link:

I forgot much of what I had said in the letter.  In the letter, it says that I had been dealing with my incest issues for the past three years.  My recovery program started in January 1989 when I found a newspaper ad listing an Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting that week.  I went to the meeting and found a safe place to start talking about my incest issues.  My incest issues were a major part of growing up with an alcoholic.  At the time, I didn't see any differences between my incest issues and my issues with growing up with an alcoholic.  In my mind, they were so closely related that I couldn't separate them for many years.  When I went into that room, I didn't even know what my issues were.   For the first time ever, I found a place that I could talk about my incest issues.  I didn't stop talking for almost ten years.  The flood gates were wide open. I know that some people got tired of hearing me talk about incest.

After three years of getting in touch with who I was, three years of breaking the silence of incest in my 12-Step meetings, I was ready to break the silence with my own family.  That is where the Dear Family Member letter came from.  After ten years of having nothing to do with my dad's family, (Not because of anything that they had done, but because of my own fears and my denial that if I didn't see them or my dad, then I could live as if the incest never happened.) I had opened the door and started attending family reunions again.  Several people in my dad's family of origin had been slipping me hints that I should step in and help my dad get on Social Security and other things since I was his oldest daughter.  They felt that I should be helping him out - taking care of him. This letter was an attempt to tell them why I was not going to do anything that would bring my dad back into my life or the lives of my children.  As a mother, I could protect my children from my dad. 

In reading my Dear Family Member letter, I realized several things.  One was that even though I said that I didn't need any reaction back from my family members, I realized that I was disappointed that so few of them did let me know how they felt about the letters.  My dad had 10 brothers and sisters living at the time that I mailed out the letters.  My sister and I discussed the letter but my brother has never said anything about the letter to me.  I was so afraid of what my family's reactions were going to be.  I realize now that I was still so afraid that they would blame me for the abuse.  That is why I told them, "I don't need you to react at all."  I was afraid of their reactions.  Today I am not afraid.  I did need them to react.  I did need for them to tell me that I did nothing to deserve the abuse.  It was not my fault.  I was afraid of their anger and their condemnation.  I was afraid of their judgments - afraid they would match my own critical self-judgments.  At the time that I wrote this letter, I still had the inner critic in my head that kept repeating the judgments that I grew up with coming from my parents.  That inner critic said I was stupid; I was incapable of making decisions; I was somehow defective or I wouldn't have been abused; I was a bad child or my parents would have loved me.  I still heard all of those voices in my head and worse, I believed them.  Having a healthy self worth was still a few years away for me.

At the end of the letter, I sounded like I had it all together.  How little did I know that I was still years away from doing much more than just surviving.  Yes, things were better but they were still a long way from being healthy.  I was still living with so much rage that I hadn't learned how to control and let go of yet.  I was fooling myself when I said that I liked where I was and who I was.  I meant it at the time that I said it but I hadn't reconnected with my body or my feelings at the end of those three years.  I still carried around a lot of buried self-hatred.   I still had a long way to go.  Ignorance sometimes is bliss, as they say.  If I had known how bad it was going to get before it got better, I might not would have gone down that path.  I am glad that I didn't know.  Where I am today is such a better place than I was then.  Am I finished with healing?  No, I am not sure that healing will ever stop as I move forward in my life.  Tomorrow will be better than today.  Even today, I take some detours down roads that still require me to be open to new pain and new growth.  As new challenges come my way, I am stronger and more resilient than I was as a child and even as a young adult in denial.  Because I am willing to face what comes to the door of recovery next, I experience more peace and more joy in my life.  I hear laughter more and realize that it is coming from me.

Sending out this letter, writing it, opened many doors of healing for me.  This was a very big beginning for me to becoming more honest with myself.  The ten years of cutting myself off from my Caldwell side of the family is a great example of what denial can do to you, of how it can keep you locked up in the pain of abuse.  In denying its existence (the incest, not the family), I thought it would lose its ability to hurt me.  I thought if I refused to look at the incest and acknowledge that it happened, it would go away.  I thought the fear would go away.  I thought the rage and hurt that I carried inside would just magically disappear if I didn't give it the power of acknowledgment. It didn't go away.  It continued to hurt me and I transferred that hurt to my husband and children.  Loving them wasn't enough to guarantee that I wouldn't hurt them.  Until I learned to control my feelings and feel them rather than stuffing them, I didn't have the tools to heal myself and to let go of the rage in constructive ways.

Denial doesn't work.  It was another way to stuff feelings inside.  It was another way to become numb to what I was feeling.  I didn't use drugs.  I used food.  To a smaller degree, I still do this today with food when everything gets too intense.  Through denial, I almost developed stomach ulcers when I was in my 20's.  Migraines started in my 30's.  High blood pressure plagues me today in my 50's.  I am overweight as a way to physically protect myself from the possibility of sexual abuse.  Denial turned me into a volcano or pressure cooker that could explode at the smallest provocation.  When I wrote this letter, I still wasn't in touch with my feelings.  I didn't know how to control my rage when the volcano erupted.  I didn't know how to not let my angry words hurt my husband or my children when the hate and hurt came spewing out when they erupted because I couldn't hold it in any longer.  The pressure became too much and I exploded all over my family before I learned to use my anger constructively.  It took three to five years before I learned that my anger could be defused without hurting anyone, myself included.  My husband will agree with me that those years were pure Hell.  My regret is that out of my pain, I hurt my husband and children, before I learned that anger can be healthy and doesn't have to hurt anyone.  Anger can be expressed in healthy ways so that it doesn't become rage.  In my childhood, rage equalled violence or at least the threat of violence.  The threat of violence can be just as frightening as the actual violence itself.  That threat can keep you frozen in inaction and silence.  I lived with that threat daily and didn't even recognize it until I was nineteen.

Growing up all that I saw of anger was rage and it could be violent.  This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  I don't often think about myself growing up with domestic violence in my family, but it was there.  The threat of violence does damage too.  In my recent interview with Cyrus Webb, I told a story that I grew up hearing from my mom.  My dad only hit my mom once.  That was sometime in the year before I was born.  I don't know why he hit her, that was never part of my mom's story.  She said that he hit her and she went and got his rifle.  She aimed it and pulled the trigger.  She was so angry that she didn't take the time to load the gun.  If it had been loaded, my dad would have died.  She was a very good shot with a rifle.  He never hit her again.  This story was one of the reasons that I didn't tell my mom about the incest until many years later when I was adult. (Actually just before mailing my Dear Family Member letters, I told my mom about the incest.)

I was afraid that if I told my mother about the incest she would blame me and call me a liar or she would shot my dad.  If she shot my dad, he would be dead and she would be in jail and I would not have a parent.  Those were really big fears in my mind as a child. And it would have been my fault for telling about the incest. This is victim mode thinking.

I ended my letter by saying that I hoped I would still be welcomed to future family reunions.  As far as I could tell, the letter didn't make any difference in how I was treated.  I don't know if the letter made any difference to any of them but it did for me.  I hope that sharing my Dear Family Member letter will make a difference in your life if you are a survivor of abuse.  You are not alone.  You do not have to continue to carry the burden of abuse alone.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Family Member - Notification About Incest Happening In Family

April 24, 1992
Dear Family Member:

It is nice to feel that I have a family and roots again after so many years of feeling alone and empty.  For years, I cut myself off from any attachment to my "Caldwell" side of the family.  I now know that this was the only way I could deal with the pain of Dad's betrayal of me as a child.  To survive and try to lead a nearly normal adult life I had to disconnect from my painful past and any reminders of it.  My family was a very strong reminder of that past.

For over three years I have been dealing with that painful past---working through my anger and grief---and learning to let go of it.  For what I am about to tell you, I don't want your pity or your anger.  I don't need you to react at all.  I am doing this for me and for no one else.  I do hope that I can have your support in my working through this.

I know that some of you may be disbelieving and some of you may be angry that I am just now revealing this and you want to know why after all these years of being quiet that I am now stirring up all this trouble.  I am not doing this to cause trouble or to seek revenge.  I am doing this as a further step in my recovery.  I am refusing to keep silent and to carry the burden of this secret anymore.  It has become too heavy.  Too much of my life has been harmed by it.  I still have a lot of anger to deal with over this and to deal with it, the reasons have to brought out into the open.  I don't want another generation of children to suffer because of our silence and it will continue to happen unless we speak out and others have the awareness to deal with it.  Secrecy hurts too many people.

Most of you know that Daddy has a drinking problem.  For my own self, I choose to give it a name---alcoholism.  No one else has to agree with me.  I won't argue over this point.  It is strictly my opinion.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I thought about talking about this to some of you at the recent Family Reunion, but I decided to just enjoy the day instead.  I have worked hard this year and deserved to have that day to savor the pleasant memories and feelings of love that I felt from each of you.  This was an important day for me.

I don't make any apology to anyone for the feelings that you have as you read this.  This is a family secret that must be exposed for what it is---dangerous and deadly to our children and their self-esteem.

Some of you wonder why [my sister], [my brother] and I aren't close to the family anymore.  I can't speak for [my brother].  I don't know his reasons.  [My sister] is afraid of Daddy and refuses to be around him or to allow her children contact with him.  I don't want him in my life or in my children's lives.  I won't let him continue to abuse me.

I won't tell you [my brother's] or [my sister's] story.  I will only tell you mine.  I won't go into details here.  That would take to long.  I've already written more than I thought I would.

Starting at least by the age of eleven years old, I was sexually abused by Daddy.  I don't have memories of it starting earlier than that, but it may have.  Some of the work that I have done leads me to believe that I may have been as young as eight or nine years old.  You can't imagine the emotional pain I have gone through because of this.  Do you know what it is like to hate the parent that you also love and have to depend upon for your very survival?  When I was seventeen years old, I reached the point of having the courage to say no to Daddy.  If the abuse had continued, I would have lost my sanity.  I knew that.  I never again let Daddy abuse me.  I think he was afraid I would tell if he continued to push me.  He left me alone physically, but the emotional abuse continued until I left home at the age of nineteen.  I knew that was my one and only chance to get out from under his control. Living with Dad was like having a dictator tell you everything you could do or not do.  I never learned to make decisions or to think for myself until I was a Junior in college.  I know that God was with me and keeping me sane.  He gave me the courage to do what I had to do.  He allowed me to find the people that I needed to guide me in the right direction at each crucial point in my life.  I have a husband who loves me and has tried to be understanding of all that I have gone through.  That hasn't always been easy.  Dan has allowed me the space to find out who I am.  For me, the process has been both painful and joyful.

I like who I am today.  I am at a good place in my life.  I have told Mom about the abuse just this month.  She says she didn't know or she would have stopped it.  She was as much under Dad's control as I was.  I have made my peace with her.  I haven't confronted Dad yet, because when I try to contact him person to person he disappears.  I have written a letter to him giving him back responsibility for his actions.  This step will close a chapter in my life.  This is a positive step for me.  It has been a long journey to reach this healthy point in my life.

I hope that each of you can still welcome me to future Family Reunions with the same enthusiasm as you did this year.  Family means a lot to me.  I love everyone of you.  Please help me to bring awareness to our next generation of children so the hurt and the abuse can be stopped at least for this family.  I love you all.
Patricia Caldwell Singleton

I didn't use my brother or my sister's names here as I did in the original letters.  I have been searching for my copy of this letter for over a year and could not find it.  My sister a few weeks ago called me and asked me if I would like to have her copy of the letter.  She didn't know that I had been looking for my copy.  Thanks, Sis for giving me your copy.  She also gave me her copy of the copy letter written to her and my brother telling them that they were getting their copy of the "Dear Family Member" letter two weeks before I mailed them out to everyone else.  I wrote the above letter on April 24, 1992 but my sister's letter was written on June 10, 1992 so I apparently took a few months after writing the "Dear Family Member" letter before I mailed them out to my dad's brothers and sisters.  I chose not to send a copy to my grandmother because she was elderly and in poor health.  I didn't want to hurt her with the knowledge of her sons actions.  I told each of my aunts and uncles that it was their choice as to whether or not they shared the contents of my letter with their children, most of whom are my age and older.  I don't know if they did or not.  No one ever said anything to me about it.  One of my nephews recently told me he had read his dad's letter when he was a teenager.  My youngest niece recently read her mom's copy before my sister gave the letter to me. 

I look forward to hearing from you letting me know what you think about my letter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just A Mom

I am starting this post out with an email that I received today.  I don't know the source of the written words called "JUST A MOM?"  If I did, I would include you as the author, but I don't know who you are.  Thank you for your words of humor and truth.


A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's Office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
"What I mean is," explained the recorder,
"Do you have a job or are you just a ....?"
"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.
"I'm a Mom."
"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, 'Housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.  The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."
"What is your occupation?" she probed.
What made me say it?  I do not know?  The words simply popped out.
"I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."
The clerk paused, ball-point frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.
I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.  Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out).  I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters).  Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).  But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3.  Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby), in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.  I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!  And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom."

What a glorious career!  Especially when there's a title on the door.
Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"
And great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates?"  I think so.
I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants."

I love the humor of the above words and titles.  Why does it take a title to give a mother the importance that she deserves.  Mothers play such an important role in the lives of their children and therefore the world.  I hope that I was this type of mother - one who researches and grows as her children grow.  In my own eyes, I often fell short as a mother.  Why?  I wasn't given the proper tools to be the kind of mother that I wanted to be to my children.  Who is?  Especially those of us who comes from homes with dysfunction and abuse.

I grew up wanting to be a better mother than my mother was to me.  Yes, my mother did the best that she could with the tools that she was given, and it wasn't good enough.  I did not want to repeat that pattern with my own children, especially the patterns of abuse and emotional abandonment.

I believe that mothers are the most important role model for their daughters because we are both women.  Mothers fill so many roles in the life of a child.  Mothers teach us about loving and caring for others.  They teach us kindness and how to nurture ourselves and others.  As little girls, mothers teach us how to be women just as daddies teach little boys how to be men.  So much of who I am comes from my mother.

To quote a comment that I left on my Facebook page today, "My mother/daughter relationship was confusing and difficult.  I always told myself that my mother loved me.  I now know that my mother couldn't love me because she didn't love herself.  She was so shut down emotionally.  The only emotion that got through from her to the world [and to me] was rage and she did that silently.  She didn't know what love was.  She wasn't taught to love.  Dysfunctional families cannot teach what they don't have - self love."

My inspiration for this post came from fellow blogger Darlene Ouimet.  On her blog Emerging From Broken, Darlene has been writing a series of articles about the relationship that she had with her mother.  The latest article is called "Mother Daughter Relationship Nightmares."  You will find this blog article are the following link:

I warn you that some of the comments for this article of Darlene's are brutally honest and may be tear triggering for some of you.  Everyone of the people - women and men - are being courageous in sharing their stories of pain and healing in their comments.  I thank you Darlene for being the one to bring this out into the open so that we can all break the silence of abuse and continue to heal.

Related posts:
Your Parents Did The Best They Could found at

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cyrus Webb Interview Link

Hi.  For those of you who haven't heard the interview that Cyrus Webb and I did on Monday, October 4 at noon Central Standard Time on Conversations Live! on Blog Talk Radio, here is the link to it.  It is archived so you can go whenever you have the time to listen to the interview.  It is short - only 15 minutes or so and packed with information.  Thanks to Cyrus Webb for the honor of talking about incest and recovery and for allowing me to be the interview that kicks off his series of interviews on the subject, "Should Love Ever Hurt?"  The choice of topic was because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I hope that you will listen and then come back here and let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview By Cyrus Webb: "Should Love Ever Hurt?"

On Monday, October 4, 2010 at noon Central Standard Time, USA, I am being interviewed by Cyrus Webb on his radio talk show Conversations Live! Radio on Blog Talk Radio.  My interview is the first of a series of interviews that Cyrus is doing for the month of October.  The topic of our conversation will be "Should Love Ever Hurt?"  Cyrus will be looking at abuse in all of its many forms while doing the October interviews.  Why this topic?  October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  I am honored to be a part of this series of interviews which will spread the news that love should never hurt. 

The link for this interview is at the following website:

If you can't be around for the interview when it is done live on Monday, October 4 at noon, it will be archived.  I will do an update with the link to the archive after the interview is done.

Be sure to follow all of the interviews that Cyrus does for the month of October about Domestic Violence.  I know I will be following them all.  Thanks Cyrus for asking me to be a part of your series "Should Love Ever Hurt?"

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 2010 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse: Inner Child Is Posted

Dan L. Hays, over at his blog Thoughts Along The Road to Healing, is hosting the September 2010 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse:  Inner Child.  Not just one or two, but five of my recent posts from my Inner Child Letters Series are included in the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.  Dan says about this month's theme, "Welcome to the Inner Child edition of the Carnival Against Child Abuse.  We will honor our inner child, and share how that child has been such a vital part of our path to healing!"  Thanks Dan for hosting the Carnival this month.

Here is the link to Dan's blog post:

I hope that you will join me in going and reading and commenting on all of the wonderful blog posts written about the healing of our inner children.  This isn't work for the lighthearted, to use an old cliche.  Why do it you might ask?  Healing the inner child, parenting your inner child is a big part of the healing that is needed to go from victim to survivor.  The inner child is that part of us who was abused, that stopped growing when we were abused.  The inner child is the part of us that still carries the pain, anger, shame and hurt of the child that was abused.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Your Parents Did The Best They Could

When I first heard someone say that my parents did the best they could in raising me, I would automatically, in my mind, say, "No, they didn't!"  I would feel so angry at my parents and at the person who said that statement.  I was usually in a 12-Step meeting when someone said it.  I just knew that they were wrong.  My parents did not do the best that they could.  They abused me physically, emotionally and sexually.  How could that be the best that they could do?

Then people started saying, "Your parents did the best they could with the tools that they had."  Well, wherever they got the tools, they were pretty poor tools.  That calmed my angry a little bit but not much.  It still didn't feel right to me but since I was just beginning to feel, I wasn't sure why it didn't feel right.

Then one day a friend said, "Your parents did the best they could with the tools they had and it wasn't good enough."  Finally someone else was saying what I was thinking.  I could wholeheartedly agree with that statement even after I had worked through a ton of anger.

This week I was reading from the Dennis Wholey book Becoming Your Own Parent, The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families.  On page 237-238, Robert Subby, M. A. talks about this very subject.

Robert Subby says, " 'Well, Mom and Dad did the best they could at the time they did it with the skills and tools they had.' "
"That's all well and good, and who's going to argue with that logic, except that it invalidates all the facts about things they didn't do right.  'With that kind of thinking,' I tell them, 'you don't have any right to feel sad or angry because 'they did the best they could.' That way you end up minimizing your own reality and invalidating yourself.  What I want to hear from you is what you feel and that what happened to you back there really happened.  I want to hear you say that you have a right to those feelings and that those mistakes were not your fault.  Don't sit here and pay me good money and defend your mom and dad.  They don't need you to defend them.' 'But I feel guilty,' the adult child says.  And I tell that adult child, 'That's an issue you're going to have to accept.  Some part of you makes you feel guilty for having real feelings, and that's not Mom and Dad anymore---that's you.' "

Thank you Mr. Subby for saying it so well.  He says we have a right to feel angry, sad and hurt.  Those feelings validate the reality that we lived through as children.  He goes on to teach another valuable lesson when he says, " 'Now enough about them [your parents].  Who's been responsible for your life since you were twenty?' Ultimately, for adult children, that's the bigger issue."
"You must come to embrace personal responsibility.  As adults, you have rejected yourself.  You have abandoned yourself.  Given your history, it's understandable why.  That's what you were trained to do.  That's what feels comfortable."

True recovery starts when you realize what you are responsible for in your adult life and you forgive yourself for all of those times that you abused yourself by rejection, abandonment and disconnection from feelings or body.  You did the best you could with the tools you had and it wasn't good enough.  You deserve better.  You can't change the past but you can choose a better future.  Is it time to forgive yourself?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Repeating The Effects Of Growing Up In A Dysfunctional Home

Becoming Your Own Parent, The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families , written by Dennis Wholey, Bantam Books, New York, New York, January 1990.
This book was first published by Doubleday in October 1988. 

This is one of the many books that I read back in the early 1990's that helped me to grow so much in my beginning years of recovery.  I gave my original copy of this book away years ago to someone else that I thought would find the information useful.  Sometime in the past year, I found my current copy in a used book store.  I haven't checked with Amazon to see if you can still get the book or if it is out of print.

You will find me quoting from this book for awhile longer yet as I continue to read through it.  Here is some more information that I found in the book that I thought you might find as valuable as I did back in the 1990's and still find very useful today.

page 182-183: 
"People coming out of a dysfunctional home always feel unlovable.  They feel they have been loved for the role they play, not for who they are.  You are only capable of re-creating with another human being the nature of the relationship you have with yourself.  If you punish yourself, you will punish your love partner.  If you hate yourself, you will end up hating your love partner.  If you are afraid of yourself, you will be afraid of your love partner.  A person is incapable of establishing a level of intimacy with another human being that is greater than the level of intimacy he or she has with himself or herself.  You can't go out and find intimacy.  What you can do is adopt a policy of attraction, and who you are limits who's going to be attracted to you.  A woman who needs to be victimized will attract a brutalizing man.  Healthy people attract healthy partners."

My very first date was when I was 19, two years after I had stood up to my dad and said no more sexual abuse is going to happen.  I was still living at home and going to a small junior college near by.  I had a crush on the guy for a year before he finally asked me out.  Even though I was no longer being sexually abused, I was still in victim mode.  I had three dates with this young man.  The first one was the only one that I asked permission from my parents.  The next one I went to spend the night at a girl friend's house and went on the second date from there.  Even though I was 19 and legally an adult, my dad was still telling me what I could do and what I couldn't.  I let him because I wasn't strong enough to do otherwise.  I was 19 but still very immature from never being given choices as a child.  I was also emotionally stuck at 11 years old or younger because of the incest.  I knew none of this when I was 19.

I thank God today that this young man did not ask me to marry him.  If he had, I would have said yes because I thought I loved him.  His version of love was the same as my dad's.  I was someone that he could control.  I would do whatever he said.  When we had sex, I let it happen rather than saying no.  To me, sex was love since that is what my dad had told me for all of my childhood years.  I believed him.  I thought if I said no that he wouldn't "love" me. 

Today I know that sex isn't love.  It can be a part of love but just the act is not love especially if it is abusive too.  Sex with this young man was abusive.  I didn't complain or say no because I didn't know how to be anything else but a victim at that time in my life.  On that first date, we went to his younger sister's where he borrowed some of her clothes for me to wear on our date.  According to him, I wasn't dressed good enough for our date.  I said nothing and went along with it even though my feelings were hurt.  I was proud of the pants suit that I had put together from the few clothes that I had.  Pants suits had become popular for girls to wear in the late 1960's.  This was his first controlling behavior toward me.

Why didn't I ask my parents before going out on the second date?  Because I knew instinctively that my dad hated this young man that had the courage to come and ask for that first date.  I didn't realize at the time that the two were probably jealous of each other.  Both sensed the predator in the other.  Both sensed the controller in each of other.  They were very much alike. They both wanted to control me, not love me.  I just didn't know it at the time.  If we had married, I would have gone from one dictator to another.  With this new dictator, there would have also been physical abuse, not just sexual abuse.  At one point during that first date, the young man made the statement that he really ought to just take me away from my dad.  He said it joyfully and spitefully.  I sensed that something was wrong but didn't know what.  Some part of me was afraid of this young man, but then again, that was familiar to me.  I was afraid of my dad.

The last date we had, I was away at college.  I was still 19 or maybe had just turned 20.  We went to a drive-in movie, my first since I was about 5 years old.  We spent most of the time wrestling in the front seat of his car because I said no to sex.  By then, I had grown a little and was no longer content to be abused or to call sex love any longer.  I had been away from home for a few months.  I had gone through a summer away from home and the influence of my parents.  I loved the freedom to explore what I wanted for myself.  I knew I didn't want to be abused any longer.  I was a long way from knowing who I was but I was able to set a few small boundaries for myself - not being abused or sexual with this person was one of those first boundaries.  He didn't ask me out for another date after that night.  Thank you God.

I would have followed a path similar to the path my sister chose if I had continued to date this young man and married him.  I would have been a battered woman because at that point in my life I didn't know that I deserved better.  Only through the Grace of God did I not go down that path in life.

I was a long way from leaving the victim role behind but still beginning to feel better about myself.  I was at the point where I thought if I wasn't living at home that I could ignore the incest and that meant I wasn't still being affected by it.  I could pretend that was true.  I wanted so badly to be happy and to be free from my past that I pretended that it just didn't happen. It seemed to work for awhile.  Reality is pretending never worked but I continued to lie to myself anyway.  Another familiar pattern, everyone else lied to me so why shouldn't I lie to myself.  I just wanted to be happy and to fit in.

The next date that I attracted into my life was an alcoholic like my dad.  We only dated a few times.  I didn't know at the time that he was an alcoholic.  He dated me for a short time after he and his high school sweetheart broke up.  They went back together sometime after our few dates and eventually married.  Today he is divorced.  Does he still drink?  I have no idea.  Again, I thank God that our paths divided and he went one way and I went another.  Why was I attracted to him?  Probably because he was an alcoholic and that was familiar to me.  It wasn't what I wanted in my life but it was familiar.  I didn't see the signs.  I didn't know about all of the drinking he was doing at the time.  We don't see what we don't want to see.  Because it is familiar, we are attracted to it.  That is why many Adult Children grow up to become alcoholics themselves or they marry them.

By the time that I met my husband, I knew that I didn't want to marry an alcoholic.  Instead I married another Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  Neither of us drinks.  I don't drink because I saw the consequences of living with my dad and my grandfather and their drinking when I was a child.  Drinking scares me.  The thought of losing control like my dad and grandfather did scares me.  My husband doesn't drink because he can't.  It puts him to sleep.  He must be one of those Adult Children that is allergic to alcohol.  For whatever reason, I am grateful.

Well, when I sat down to write this post, I thought I would just give you the quote and leave it at that.  I am glad that the thoughts started pouring into my mind.  I think that the words are much better when you can back them up with personal experiences.  It also helps me to make the connections for myself as I write to you.  I think we all learn much more from the experiences shared.  Hope you are all having a glorious weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Childhood Issues Can Create Dysfunctional Relationships For Adults

I am reading a book called Becoming Your Own Parent, The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families.  The author of this book is Dennis Wholey who also wrote the book The Courage to Change.  I read both of these great books back in the 1990's when I was first involved in recovery and 12-Step meetings.  If you haven't read them, I encourage you to check them out.  They are both a great resource for Adult Children from dysfunctional homes.

Today, I visited one of my favorite blogs Emerging From Broken written by Darlene Ouimet.  In choosing to tell her own story of recovery from abuse, Darlene is constantly told that she is also telling the story of others, both women and men, who read her blog.  She often tells bits and pieces of what could be my own story of incest.  For awhile Darlene has been writing about the lies that formed her belief system during her childhood.  She talks about the dysfunctional family that gave her this false belief system.  Darlene posted two blog articles this week talking about dysfunctional relationships.

Here are the links for Darlene's two blog articles:
Standing up to Dysfunctional Relationship:
Standing up to Dysfunctional Relationship Part 2:

Click on the above links and go read the blog articles.  Be sure to take the time to read each of the blog comments too.  They are well worth your time to read.  So many of us know what Darlene is talking about - the dysfunctional family system and its effects upon us in our adult relationships.  Many of us recreate those childhood relationships when we are adults.

Here I am going to paraphrase,combine, and add to my comments that I left on each of her blog articles.  Much of the information also comes from the book Becoming Your Own Parent that I mentioned above. 

Dennis Wholey quotes a number of expects in the field of recovery in his book in explaining the differences between a healthy family system and an unhealthy or dysfunctional family system. One of the experts that Mr. Wholey quotes is "Therapist, lecturer, and consultant Terence T. Gorski, M. A." (page 175)  On page 176, Mr. Gorski says about dysfunctional families that "The norm is struggle, chaos, confusion, and pain.  Relationships chew you up.  Sometimes a relationship gets really good for a short period of time, but doesn't last.  It returns to the norm of being a painful, horrible place to live."

Continuing on Page 176, Terence Gorski says, " In a dysfunctional home the child learns that relationships entail a difficult, painful struggle; they temporarily feel good, but will rapidly decay back into a difficult, stuggling, and painful situation.  The child learns that at five or seven or ten or fifteen years of age."

"Children from dysfunctional environments often end up in bad relationships because they believe on a fundamental level, 'I'm not worthy of being loved and the only way I can get somebody to love me is to trick them into believing I'm somebody that I'm not.' "

On page 177, Mr. Gorski says, "People who come out of a dysfunctional home unconsciously either re-create their family of origin or the polar opposite.  A person either blindly conforms with, or blindly rebels against, what he or she was unconsciously taught as a child.  In both cases there is no free individual choice."

Also, on page 177, Gorski says, " In making the decision to conform, the child decides that the family of origin is good and he or she therefore is bad.  To be good, the child must make the family right.  In making the decision to rebel, the child believes that the family is bad and he or she is too good to live like that.  To be good, the child must do the opposite, whether or not it is in his or her best interest."

Here is part of my comment to Darlene's first post, "Something that I have found true for me is that when I work on my own childhood issues, the relationship issues with my husband often take care of themselves.  I don't say that to mean don't work on your relationship issues.  Believe me when I say that you should work on any abusive or dysfunctional relationship issues that you have.  Many, if not all, of my relationship issues came from my childhood issues.  Relationship issues are often built upon the lies about love and respect that we were taught as children.  Mine sure were."

In my childhood, my dad played the role of dictator and rage-aholic.  My mom played a role of being passive-aggressive.  She was mild and meek, following my dad's lead.  She allowed him to make all of the decisions in our family life.  I saw my dad as strong and having all of the power in their relationship.  I saw my mother as weak and powerless.  I did not want to be weak and powerless like my mother so I chose the role of controller and that left the passive-aggressive role for my husband to fill.  I promised myself when I left home that I would never be controlled by another dictator like my dad.  In rebelling against my dad's control in my childhood, I stepped into that role in my marriage.  I thought if I could control everything and everybody that I would feel safe and not be so afraid.  It seemed to work for a little while.  My husband and I both played our roles well in the beginning.  Nothing about those early years of our marriage made me happy.  I can't speak for my husband and his feelings about those early years but I doubt that he liked it much when his brothers called him henpecked.  I doubt he liked it any better than I did when his grandmother asked early on which one of us was going to "wear the pants in the family."  I didn't see myself as a controller back then and I was very hurt by her comment at the time.  I was continuing the belief system unconsciously as Mr. Gorski talked about in the quote above.  By making myself the strong and powerful controller, I abused my husband as my dad did my mom with his controlling.  By choosing to marry a passive-aggressive person, I also chose to continue the cycle of abuse.  My controlling was right out there in front for everyone to see.  Passive-aggressive behavior is much more difficult to see and overcome because it is more hidden.  It can sometimes be more destructive because it isn't out in the open. 

I want to share with you here, just in case you didn't take the time to go and read the comment section of Darlene's second article, the comment that I wrote about dysfunctional families assigning roles:  "Dysfunctional family systems assign roles to each of its members.  The roles are not flexible and are not up for discussion.  The system is very rigid.

Someone is always the scapegoat.  The scapegoat is the one who is always wrong, always blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family.  The quickest way to become a scapegoat [as an adult] is to dare to be the one to want change, to be the one who demands that the truth be told instead of continuing to believe the lies and secrets of the family.

The dysfunctional family system will do everything possible to keep the family system in tact, even resorting to disowning the one who wants to change or the one who suddenly is willing to share the family 'secrets.'  Yes, it hurts to be that person and you are worth the end result that you get - freedom from abuse."

I remember being hurt once by a comment one of my uncles made about me being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  It wasn't want he said.  It was the derisive tone of his voice that hurt.  I haven't been disowned by my family for breaking the silence of abuse.  I was the one who chose not to have contact with my dad for over ten years before he died because he was still an alcoholic and I wasn't convinced that he wouldn't do something to try to hurt either of my children.  Many Adult Children are disowned by their families when they decided to talk about the family secret of abuse and dysfunction.  Many of us are labeled as crazy, drama queens and troublemakers because we refuse to continue to play the roles assigned to us in our dysfunctional family of origin.  Many of us decide to stop playing those roles when we realize that the role is not who we are and we realize that in playing the role, we somehow lost ourselves.  Finding out who I am is what most of my journey of recovery has been all about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our 38th Wedding Anniversary

Today Daniel and I have been married for 38 years.  We are spending most of the day together to celebrate.  I was 20 years old and Daniel had just turned 23 years old when we got married.  I look back at our wedding pictures and we both looked so very young.  It was a small church wedding.  I didn't know probably half of the people there.  They were people that Daniel grew up going to church with his whole life.  Daniel's mother and oldest brother were there.  My mom and dad, my paternal grandmother and paternal great-aunt was there.  That was the extent of our family who attended.

It rained that afternoon and the electricity went off for a few hours before the wedding.  It came on as we were in route to the church.  Daniel's oldest brother used my camera and took pictures of the wedding for us.  We were college students without a lot of money.  A week after we got married, we went back to college for our Senior year.

Our Senior year, Daniel and I both had Student Employment jobs to help with our college expenses.  Then we bought a used station wagon from one of Daniel's neighbors from his hometown.  Daniel went to school from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and then went to work at a plywood mill in the college town that we lived in from about 3:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. 7 days a week.  He would get home around 11:30 p.m. and do whatever homework he had for the next school day.  Daniel has always been a hard worker.

We got married on August 25, 1972 and Daniel graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana on August 3, 1973 a day before his 24th birthday.

We have had good years and we have had hard years with struggles with finances and struggles with my incest issues, especially when I first started dealing with my incest issues in the early 1990's.  Through all of those struggles, our love for each other and later for our children has continued to grow.  Why are we still together after all of these years?  Because we are also best friends to each other.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Steppers' Wisdom Blog Carnival - 1st Edition - August 2010

For those of you who might be interested in posts about recovery through a 12-Step program, I am posting a link to a brand new Blog Carnival called Steppers' Wisdom.  The first ever Steppers' Wisdom Blog Carnival is posted at the following link:

This month I submitted my blog post called Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics Played Major Roles In My Recovery From Incest.  Please click on the above link and read the excellent articles that were submitted for August.  If you have your own articles that you would like to see in the September edition of Steppers' Wisdom Blog Carnival, there is contact information at Steppers' Wisdom.  Thanks, Shen, for giving us a new way to reach out to other survivors of abuse.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 2010 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse: Independence Posted By Dr. Kathleen Young

When my husband gets home from running work related errands, we are going to drive to Louisiana to visit with his mother and brothers.  Daniel's mother was in the hospital last week with extremely high blood pressure.  She is home and better but we decided to visit her instead of her traveling to our house so that she can visit with our daughter and her four great-grandchildren.  It has been over two years since they have seen each other.

While we are gone, I hope that you will spend some of your time checking out the great articles from the July 2010 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse:  Independence.  Since July 4 is celebrated in the U. S. as our Independence Day, independence is the focus of some of this month's articles.  Three of my own articles are in the Blog Carnival this month.  Here is the link for the Blog Carnival which is being hosted by Dr. Kathleen Young:  Treating Trauma in Chicago.  Thank you Dr. Young.

See you when I get back from Louisiana.  Have a glorious weekend.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family Reunions, Car Repairs, Truck Stops And Making The Best Out Of A Stressful Situation

Yesterday we were supposed to be going to a Caldwell (my dad's side of the family) Family Reunion and then going on to spend the night at my mother-in-law's house and then on Sunday visiting with the Singleton family (my husband's side of the family).

We left home around 8:00 a.m. going to Mooringsport, LA.  Mooringsport is north of Shreveport, Louisiana.  I have an aunt and uncle who usually host the Caldwell Family Reunion every year that live near Mooringsport.  We haven't been in two years.  Daniel had to work on a parking lot last year so we didn't get to go.  The reunion is usually in April every year.  It was postponed until July this year because of illnesses in the family.  I have an aunt that lives in Missouri and an uncle who lives in North Carolina that were coming to the reunion this year.  They aren't able to make the reunion every year.  The reunion was almost canceled for July because an aunt from Texas died the week before the reunion.  Most of her brothers and sisters went to Dallas, Texas for the funeral.  I wasn't able to go for the funeral because my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were driving to my house from Idaho and they were due in that weekend.

At Prescott, Arkansas we ran into a huge rain storm.  It was raining so hard that everybody reduced their driving speed and some put on their emergency blinkers just to be seen by other cars.  It was still raining this hard when we suddenly noticed the van was overheating.  We pulled off of the side of the interstate to let it cool down.  At this point we thought it was probably a water leak in the radiator or a pump that had gone out.  It was still raining too hard to get out and check the engine.  We let it cool down and tried driving a little further.  We got a few miles down the road and had to pull over again.  By this time our son and daugher-in-law who were driving behind us in their car caught up with us.  Twice more we let the engine cool down and drove a mile closer to the next exit off the interstate.  By this time, my husband was having trouble turning the steering wheel.  My daughter then knew it wasn't the radiator which we had added water to even through it was still raining and we didn't bring any umbrellas with us in the van.  My son and daughter-in-law drove on to the next exit which was only a mile away by this time and found a gas station/truck stop just off of the exit road.  We drove there after letting the engine cool down two more times.

A trucker who was resting at the truck stop offered to fix the van for us if we could drive into Texarkana and buy a new fan belt.  We were blessed that my son and daughter-in-law were with us and able to drive their car into Texarkana which was only about a mile away.  We were at the Mandeville, Arkansas exit on I-30 (I looked it up on a map because I had thought that Mandeville was in Texas but it isn't.).  Texarkana is a twin city with part of it in Arkansas and the other, bigger part in Texas.  They bought the new fan belt.  The trucker worked for about two hours trying to get the fan belt on before he gave up and sent us up the street to a tire store who might have the right tools to put it on.  My daughter and I stayed at the truck stop with my four grandchildren ages 4-10.  We had bathrooms, food, drinks, a table to sit at to watch all of the traffic in and out of the truck stop and a small game room that kept the kids occupied even though they didn't have money to actually play the games.  We also had air conditioned comfort so no one got cranky because of the heat.  I had bought along notebooks and crayons on the trip to help keep the kids occupied too.  We got to the truck stop about 10:00 a.m.

Three different people worked on the van trying to put the fan belt on during the day.  At 2:30 p.m. we bought sandwiches and drinks for lunch for all of us.  Finally we decided that it was time to decide how we were getting home if we couldn't find someone to fix the van.  Daniel, my husband sent our daughter and the three youngest kids in the car with my son and daughter-in-law driving toward home.  About 20 minutes after they left, Daniel got the van fixed and he, our oldest granddaughter, and I were on our way home too.  We called and told the others that we were now following them home.  It was ten minutes till 4:00 p.m. when he finally got the fan belt put on.  We got home around 6:00 p.m.

My daughter posted on her Facebook page that it was a terrible day struck on the road and in the truck stop.  She was worried about how the kids were act and whether we could get her van fixed.  I thought we had a really good day.  Thanks to the games and the crayons and notebooks that I brought, the kids were interested and occupied with only a few minor problems.  Nobody threw any temper tantrums or got hurt.  We weren't struck on the side of the road helpless all day in a monster of a rain storm.  We had food, water, bathrooms and most important on a July day in Arkansas - air conditioning.  I was surrounded by my family and had close-up time with all of them. 

I was sad to miss the Caldwell Reunion.  My brother had to cancel out because he had to work.  My sister was there after driving from Mt. Pleasant, Texas.  I missed visiting with my aunt from Missouri and my uncle from North Carolina and all of the other aunts and uncles from Louisiana and Texas who always come to the reunion.  Usually we have the only remaining great-aunt and great-uncle from my Grandmother Caldwell's side of the family also come to the reunion.  I don't know if either of them made it this year.  They are both in their 80's or 90's.  I missed seeing the family of my aunt who died last week.  They live in the Dallas, Texas area.  The aunt from Missouri has been diagnosed with terminal cancer so this was possibly her last reunion.  A younger cousin who was there has also been diagnosed with cancer so I don't know if I will get to see him again.  I am 58 years old.  All of my aunts and uncles are older than I am.  I was born three days before my dad's youngest sister's birthday.  Dad was the third oldest of 13 kids.  This reunion had all of them there except for the four, counting my Dad, who have already died.  This would probably have been the last time for us to see some of them.  We are at that stage when this generation is beginning to die off.

We were also going to spend the night with my mother-in-law and visit with Daniel's Singleton family today.  Daniel's mother just got out of the hospital on Friday.  She went in the preceding Sunday with extremely high blood pressure.  She was in ICU for most of the week.  She was allergic to most of the blood pressure medicines that they used to try to get her blood pressure down.  Finally Thursday it went down a little.  She hasn't seen our daughter and grandchildren in about 2 years.  They will now come to visit us when she feels better or we may try to go down there next weekend if Daniel isn't working.  We are very glad that she is home and feeling better.  Daniel's mother is 87 years old and in good health except for her blood pressure.

I enjoyed the day spending time with my daughter and grandchildren, son and his wife and of course, with my husband.  A few years ago, I would have been scared and worried about how we were going to get home and if we were going to get the van fixed.  I would have been really angry and disappointed at missing the reunion and visiting with my husband's family.  Yesterday I was able to keep my cool and just take everything as it came.  We did get the van fixed and made it back home okay.  I thank God for all of the things that went right yesterday.  I thank God for each of the person's who tried to fix the van.  I thank God for the truck stop's location and all that it had to offer in the way of comfort and entertainment for the kids.  I thank God that we had the extra money for the repairs.  Thank you God, I had a really good day with the good company of my family around me.  Yesterday was a blessing, not a disaster.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

EFT And Tapping On Memories From Childhood

Reclaiming Our Days, Meditation for incest survivors, Helena See, A Fireside/Parkside Meditation Book, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 1993, page for April 1:

" 'There are many ways of crying.'
'Yes.'  My tears were hidden behind my grinning mask face.
'Yes, there are.' "

"We have all spent a lifetime hiding our tears, our fears, our rage, and our pain.  We cover up our feelings from everyone around us and from ourselves.  It feels safe this way.  Safer to hide and be alone with the feelings deep inside.  So many years of fear and abuse taught us it was safer to die alone inside than risk showing ourselves to anyone else.

To heal we must start taking that risk.  It hurts, its terrifying, it requires concentration and effort to show our emotions rather than hide them.  It is a new way of life.  We can start off slowly, making absolutely sure that the person we choose to share our insides with will gently hold them in his or her heart.  Even with a safe person it won't feel safe or easy.  It is a risk, a risk we must take.

We will be surprised to find that a trusted friend is honored to see our pain, to be the recipient of our gift of honesty and openness.  We will find that a new world opens up for both of us, a world of being real, a world of intimacy.  We will find that this is a freer world, a world full of hope.  And we will find that we belong in it.

When I share my inner self I show my friends how much I value them."

In working with my Grief class and my EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) counselor in the past few weeks, I have come to realize that I still am not aware of everything that I feel.  I am not aware of the anger in me except when the volcano in me is erupting and lava is flowing over me and whoever lit the fuse that started the explosion.  Most of the time that person with the match is my husband.  Why?  Because he is a safe person for me to get angry at.  I doubt very much that he appreciates the fact that he is a safe person in my world.  He is the one that gets to see all the many facets of my emotions.

I had my second EFT session on Thursday of this week.  We talked about me having a love/hate relationship with attention from other people.  What came to mind was a memory from the twelfth grade.

My dad controlled all of the money in our family.  He didn't let any of us, including my mother, work.  I never got to work after school or on weekends like so many kids do.  I never learned to handle money as a kid because the only way that I got money if I wanted to buy something was to skip eating lunch at school.  I bought birthday cards for my parents and brother and sister this way.  If I wanted to eat in town, off of the school campus, I would get to eat one day and go without the rest of the week.  This was the 1960's and school lunches were 25 cents a day. 

I didn't wear makeup like the other girls in school because my parents wouldn't buy it for me.  This was another way for my dad to keep me from growing up.  In the twelfth grade, I saved my lunch money for several weeks to buy some eye makeup.  One morning when I got to school, I went into the girl's bathroom and put on my eye makeup.  Nobody said anything about it all day long until I got to my Senior English class.  After the class, my teacher called my name and told me that I looked pretty with my eye makeup on.  I was so pleased with myself and her complement.  I told her thank you and left.  As soon as I got home that day, I washed the makeup off before either of my parents could see me.  I never wore makeup to high school again.

You might ask why when my teacher thought it was so pretty on me?  I loved the attention from the teacher.  I was terrified by the teacher's attention.  One minute I was happy about the attention from my teacher and the next minute I was terrified.  Why?  Because in my life, most of the attention that I got was sexual.  Except for this one day, I did my best to fade into the woodwork.  The only thing that I excelled in was school work.  I made mostly A's and B's with a few C's.  I loved school because it and books were how I escaped my world of abuse.

We discussed this memory and tapped on it on Thursday during my EFT session.  My counselor asked where I felt the terror from that day.  I told him my throat felt like it was closing up with the terror.  We tapped on that fear and releasing it.  Usually it takes more than one round of tapping to remove the memories from my body.  I start out each session feeling the fear in a body part, usually my solar plexus for anger or fear.  This time the fear was in my throat.  We tapped on "All attention is sexual attention."  Then we tapped on "All attention doesn't have to be sexual." 

Next we talked about the volcano of anger and rage that comes up and out all over my husband and me.  We tapped on the volcano inside of me and changed it from being destructive to being constructive.  We tapped on "The volcano inside of me is just energy."  "The energy of the volcano can be turned into a passion for life, for living."  When we finished, I didn't feel dark and heavy any more.  I feel joyful.  I told my counselor that I like the way that I feel after a session.  I left the session smiling and full of joy.

I don't know how much writing I will get done on my blog for the next three weeks.  My daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren are right now driving through Kansas on their way here.  They left Idaho when my son-in-law got off work yesterday afternoon and drove all night.  They will be here in Hot Springs, Arkansas sometime early tomorrow morning (Sunday).  Our son-in-law is flying back home on Monday.  He couldn't get off for more than a few days.  Our daughter and grandchildren will be here visiting for three weeks.  My husband and I are excited to have them visiting.  We only get to see them usually once a year.  Usually we go out to Idaho.  This time they are visiting us so all of the family will get to see them.  Everyone is excited.