Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Childhood Incest Taught Me

What did incest teach me as a child?

Not to feel.
To disconnect from my body.
To hide in my head, TV and books.
That I had no value other than for sex.
Not to trust anyone, especially adults and myself.
Not to depend upon anyone. They would let me down.
Not to expect anything from anybody.
Rage---my dad's---could lead to violence.
Silence---my mom's---could be used as a powerful weapon.
Children should always do what the adults told them to.
I didn't own the rights to my own body.
Ambivalence of hating and loving at the same time.
To fear people.
To be alone was the only safe place to be.
To not depend on anyone to meet my needs.
To not ask for help in any form.
If I wanted something done, it was better to do it myself or it wouldn't get done.
No matter how much I worked to clean the house, it was never good enough.
Denial of what was really happening in my family.
To take care of my mom's feelings so she didn't have to.
Not hurting others was more important than not being hurt myself.
To fear the unknown.
To fear being abandoned.
To not hear the screams in my head.
To not let others know that I was hurting.
To show that I was being hurt was to bring more attention to myself.
To fear attention from others.
To crave attention from others.
I wasn't lovable.
I was dirty.
I was valueless.
I could die at any time.
I could live to experience more pain.
To have a high pain tolerance level.
Nobody was going to help me.
Nobody was going to ask.
Nobody cared.
Nobody loved me.
That my daddy loved me.
That my mom wouldn't love me if she knew.
Neither would anybody else if they knew the truth about me.
The incest was my fault.
I wanted it to happen.
I deserved what was happening to me.
I didn't have a voice.
I wasn't worth rescuing.
Sex meant love.
Sex was dirty.
Pregnant was a dirty word.
Adultry was a sin.
I was an adultress in my 3 year old mind.
I was a coward.
I could only depend upon myself.
Safety was being alone and out of the house.

Through the incest, these are the things that I learned as a child. My inner child still carries the scars and memories of all of these messages.


Just Be Real said...

Pat you know I am gonna relate.


Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, thanks for the hugs. Yes, sadly I do know that you will relate. ((((Just Be Real))))

speck of dust said...

I feel sorrow. For you, for myself, for us all. Hugs.

Patricia Singleton said...

Speck, thank you. I have lived with sorrow for most of my life. These are horrible messages to give to a child. Hugs back to you as you deal with your own struggles.

Colleen said...

You might as well have written my list. I am there, in your post. Amazing how it feels to SEE it in black and white. Thanks and hugs.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, I would imagine that quite a few incest survivors could say the same thing about the list. You are welcome and thanks for the hugs.

Clueless said...

I know that I have a list very similar to yours, but in my head. It is difficult to write down in black and white let alone talk about it in therapy. Thanks for sharing your list.

Patricia Singleton said...

Clueless, you, and anyone else who needs to, have my permission to print this out and take it to your therapist to use as the subject of your sessions. You wouldn't have to discuss them all at once. They may not all apply to you. Use the ones that do. Let me be the source of your courage to discuss these issues. As you grow stronger, you will be able to come up with your own list. I know that you can because I did.

Discussing these issues is what helped me get through them to the other side. Yes, I still occasionally hear them in the voice of my inner child but they don't still have the power over me today that they once did.

lostinamaze said...

I don't know that I would have the words to write out a list such as this. It's hard to read it in written form but only because most of it is true for me. But I think it something I might give a try.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lost In A Maze, It might be something to discuss with your therapist at some future date when you can write your own list.

~K'sBitsOnLife~ said...

I came through here looking for something inspirational to read and this is what I've found. I am feeling overwhelminly sad for whoever this is. That life is one noone would choose to bare or even wish on the worst of people. For your experiences, all of you, I am truly heartbroken. But there is something you each must realize. You each have suffered, in your own time, some of you maybe once or twice, others for years. But those times are not here, those years are not these years. You have to realize that sometimes life hands us so much... and all the while the world is so cruel. We start to feel like that is all that is ever to be dealt us. But it just isn't. You must each move on. I know you may think that this is impossible. But I know that as you read this those encounters are distant, very real, experiences. Key word being distant. You are each holding so closely to something that with every single thought of it your heart breaks inside. Why are you choosing to hold on? You have to realize that you are something amazing on the inside. That the real true parts of us are ones that NO ONE can touch but you. What happened to you, happened to your body. And you each, understandably, allowed it to alter more than just your body. You let your spirits still feel the pain. Just imagine yourself as a light inside a dark cave. No matter how dark it is on the outside, no matter how it may storm, it doesn't change that there is a light inside. You are safe because you are that light. You are you at the happiest moments in your life, not the you that always returns home to your pain. Let it go now. Move on. Decide you have this one life, and no matter what the world will ever throw you will never matter. You are stronger now than anyone will ever know. You can take this world on and actually live free from your past. Some of you maybe have already found a church. But some of you may feel like there are far too many questions. But all I can say can make the decision to just say goodbye to all that stuff you can't bring back or change. And never have to think about it again. The person that hurt you had their free will, and they chose to storm boldly away from what was right, and you suffered. That makes it the fault of no one but them, not you and definently not God. Choose to forget and start living your life in the light. Remember these bodies will die, but we will never die. Where are you headed, and lets make it great! "Love your neighbor as yourself" said someone very special. It's great advice. Good Luck

Patricia Singleton said...

K, thank you for your opinion. We are all entitled to have one. My question to you is, "Have you experienced any major trama or abuse in your life?" It doesn't sound like it. If you haven't, you have no idea what it is like or how difficult it is to get over it. I will say more in an new post sometime over the next few days.

Clueless said...


First, thank you for letting me use this for my own therapy and for your encouragement. Also, for later addressing K because her opinion has really triggered me and I am sooo angry.

Patricia Singleton said...

Clueless, you are very welcome. I was intially very angry with K's comment also. I sat with it for awhile before I published it and added my own comment. I am going to address it in a post as soon as I get all of my thoughts together. Her response is a common one that I have heard in the past. It isn't one that I agree with.

Patricia Singleton said...

K'sBitsOnLife, you may be interested to read the post that I wrote in answer to your comment. You can find it at the following link:

Marj aka Thriver said...

It's a brave list, full of awareness. And I really like the way you answered K--here and in the new post. Great work! You inspire me!

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, thank you. You and all of my other online friends who are also survivors give me inspiration with your honesty and courage.

Kerro said...

Patricia, this is a great post. I relate to so many things here. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Patricia Singleton said...

Kerro, thank you. I have worked really hard for many years to let go of most of them.

Anonymous said...

Patricia, I think that you are an amazing soul. Like you, I have always been a deeply spiritual searcher...from my earliest memories.

I am the child of a woman whose soul was shattered by incest...the abuse goes on for generations until the chain is broken. Sadly, her father and brother molested her and I believe that her father molested all (girls and boys) of his children. He and an Uncle even tried with me and thankfully because I lived in another state, I had close encounters but was spared from overt incest but my cousins were not. The aspects that people don't comprehend are that this is not simply a matter of forgiveness: My mother would make me strip naked, lie on a bed while she beat me with a wringer washer hose...think of the Freudian rage inside her that was exacted upon a sweet little girl. This was only the most notable - I was removed from my home by the state in 1973, something that happened only under extreme circumstances then.

As a lightworker, I believe that I chose to incarnate as my mother's daughter, to have suffered and forgiven. I have...and love and care for my mother in a way that people who don't live in love can't fathom. What K'sBitsonLife may not have the ability to understand is that we can truly love and forgive our abusers but our hard wiring has been changed. This fact is now being borne out by fMRI studies that show how our growing brains change forever. That's why it's vital to heighten our self-awareness and learn coping skills in addition to forgiveness. At nearly 54 years the emotional scars of verbal and physical abuse have lightened and softened from the old angry purple and raised wounds that I dare not look at. I've spent years rubbing them with the cocoa butter of therapy, prayer, you name it. They have faded away but they will always be a part of my flesh and being.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, thank you. It sounds like you are also amazing to have survived and forgiven you abusers. Forgiving is a process. It isn't always easy like some people believe it to be. Forgiving doesn't take away the scars. It gives us control over our lives back rather than leaving it in the hands of our abusers. I hope that you will go on to read my next article that I wrote to K'sBitsOnLife. You can find it at the following link: . The name of the article is Inspiration, Denial And Incest. I posted it on January 20, 2010.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this Patricia. So much of your list, I can relate to. What a great make a list. I think I will use your list as a jumping off point to make my own because I can't work on overcoming them until I am aware of them. Making a list is a great place to begin.

Patricia Singleton said...

Leslie, you are very welcome. I am glad that my list helps you. Awareness is the key to healing.

Anonymous said...

Every word of this post was what I learned too, except that I had an abusive and painful existence with father and a mother who taught me to please her needs in private (often with a food reward for the starved boy) while my father used and beat us both. People say, "Don't call yourself dirty or stupid" and I know why they do (they truly care) but it's just how I was conditioned to feel. So much work involved to fix it, and so exhausting... and terrifying... to try. - W.R.R. @RagMan_RIP @asashesscatter

Patricia Singleton said...

W.R.R., yes, healing work is exhausting but holding in the feelings is too. Most people have no idea how fearful life is for an abuse survivor.

I had a very supportive 12-Step group that I used to talk about incest and to face my fears with. When I first started acknowledging how afraid of life and people I was, I realized that the fear that I carried could easily fill the room that my group met in.

A little at a time, I faced those fears by telling someone else about them. I chipped away one fear at a time. You don't have to face them all at once. Just baby steps, one step at a time is all you have to do. As the fear disappearred, I was able to replace it with joy and contentment.

Healing is not a quick fix and doesn't happen instantaneously. Healing is terrifying, at first, and you are worth it.

Changing the thoughts of shame that go through your mind from the critical parent is exhausting work too and you can do it. I know because I have.

You can reach the point of awareness where you can hear the critical thoughts and a part of you will say "Here we go again. That critical voice again. I don't believe you so shut up." You can change your thoughts. I did it with affirmations and I wrote a post about learning how to change my thoughts. It is a process and takes time and awareness which you can acquire.

Patricia Singleton said...

W.R.R. and anyone else who needs to change their critical inner thoughts about shame, here is the link to my post on how to write affirmations to change those thoughts that you inherited from your parent or other critical person in your life. You can change those thoughts and beliefs about yourself if you are willing to work on it. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. It brought tears to my eyes, actually streaming down my cheeks, to see and understand that someone else has the exact same lessons. I have struggled my entire life, and am now, finally, at the age of 58 beginning a practice of meditation and yoga, and working on forgiveness and compassion. For myself first. I plan on reading all of your posts, but wanted to tell you that finding this was an amazing moment in my Sunday morning. Thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, You are very welcome. Welcome to my blog. I am glad that you left your message. I appreciate your words. Feel free to leave a comment any time.

Laurita said...

Dear Pat, I will not pretend to understand all that you've been through. It is horrible and no child-- no human being, for that matter, should EVER have to go through that.

Sending you hugs, love, light, and prayer tonight. I pray that your story will reach out to encourage others that so desperately need love and understanding. <3

Patricia Singleton said...

Laurita, I thank you for your kindness in reaching out to me and for your reaction to reading my blog article. I appreciate you. I know that you have your own kind of struggles and that you inspire others too.