Monday, December 10, 2012

THAT'S WHAT STEPFATHERS DO! #incest #child sexual abuse

I have to write this! And forgive me for ranting. But I'm damn angry this morning. I did my usual quick perusal of Facebook posts and came across another poor young woman pouring out her heart about the sexual abuse she and her sister suffered for years at the hands of her step-father. My blood boiled as I read her pain. But what really took me over the top was her mother's reaction when the two girls finally told mommy. Mommy's response?

"That's what stepfathers do."

'Scuse me? That's what stepfathers do? What kind of heartless response is that from a mother to her daughters? That's what stepfathers do.

So it's okay then for you mom to find a new partner, bring him into your home and let him molest your daughters? You give him permission for this because that's what stepfathers do? If he, like many other men, decided to cheat on you with another woman, would you also stand by and say "well that's what men do?" What kind of woman are you? Are you that insecure, that needy of a man like this in your life that you let him screw your daughters and pass it off as "that's what stepfathers do?" Argggh. Pardon me while I vomit!

I'm reading this too often! Patricia A. McKnight was molested for years by her stepfather. Lisa James suffered at the hands of her stepfather. Book after book, story after story ... that's what stepfathers do.

As an incest survivor of sexual abuse by my own biological father, I still cannot fathom why a father would do that to his own flesh and blood. But these stepfathers ... and the women who choose them to step into a father's shoes? I'm still trying to wrap my head around both of these perpetrators. Yes, I hold the mother to blame too. In all crime, accessories to the crime can be charged. Incest is a crime and these mothers are accessories to the crime. They know it's going on and let it happen because "that's what stepfathers do"!

My eldest daughter, a single mom to a 10-year-old, is looking around for a good man. She wants someone like her own dad, a man who would never touch either of his beautiful girls. A gentle man who has all the normal male urges but would vomit at the thought of touching his own daughters or some other woman's daughters were he put in a stepfather's role. Are there any other men like him around? As I read, I become more and more fearful of my daughter finding and falling in love with someone like these molesting stepfathers. What of my grand-daughter if mommy were to have the bad luck of hooking up with one of these perps? Of course, I know she and her daughter are so close that if someone were to touch the child and she told mommy, mommy would gouge his eyes out! Well maybe not quite but you know what I mean. She wouldn't blithely stand by and say "that's what stepfathers do!"

And those mothers who do say that, and worse yet, as in the case of the girl who wrote that post this morning, how can they stay with the creep even after the children have been mercifully removed from the incestuous situation? Do they love the jerk that much or are they that dependent on him, that afraid to be alone, that they stay with him knowing what he did? I don't understand and I never will. I couldn't stand having a man like that in my house, let alone my bed. How do they stand having his hands on their bodies, his penis inside them, knowing that just a few hours earlier or last night they were doing the same to their daughter or daughters? Women, have you no pride? No self-respect? Are you that bloody desperate!

Sorry if I swear but yes, I''m mad. Damn mad! I'm mad at the men who do this and even madder at the women who let them when they know it's going on. And for those women who would care, and who are looking for a mate, bear this fact in mind:

"Incest is more common and more severe in step-parent families. In a comparison of 59 incestuous stepfathers, 70 incestuous biological fathers and 158 offenders against unrelated children .." while their psychological characteristics were similar, "their life histories and marital histories differed significantly. Stepfathers were significantly more likely to have prior convictions for sexual offences, to have been sexually abused themselves as a child, and to have juvenile records."

Stepfathers were also more likely to have histories of previous marital failures. This information comes from a clinical study recorded HERE. If you have the time and care, you might want to read the full study. It's eye-opening.

And I think it should be read by all single moms with children who are looking for a stepfather for those children. Maybe that guy on Plenty of Fish or some other dating site who looks great, sounds like Mr. Wonderful and can sweet-talk his way around all your concerns will one day sweet-talk or force that little girl or boy of yours into letting him sexually abuse him or her. Be wary. Be very wary.  If he's attracted to you and your little girl looks like a young you as she blossoms into womanhood, she could look real good to him ... 'cause "that's what (some!) stepfathers do!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THANK YOU FOR THE NIGHTMARES DADDY #incest #child sexual abuse

"To sleep, perchance to dream" wrote Shakespeare. Yes, that's what we all want to do: sleep peacefully, letting our subconscious sort out the experiences of the day so we can wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day.

That's all good when all is good. Dreams are nice. But once you've become a victim of abuse, sexual or otherwise, sweet dreams and refreshing sleep elude us. For many of us dreams become nightmares. We toss, turn, fight demons and sometimes wake up screaming as we try to fight off the abuser or the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts we develop about ourselves ie.. the blame, the shame, the feelings of being dirty, soiled, unworthy, rotten ... an endless list of BAD.

As I write my book, COMING OUT FROM UNDER, beneath the memories I'm finding buried in my psyche, lie the nightmares, almost forgotten now, but not quite. These nightmares puzzle me. A dream expert could have some fun (?) with mine. I think I figured out their meaning long ago, and once I got away from my abuser, my father, these nightmares stopped. In my nightmares, I don't scream. I'm not terrified. But in one, I am filled with tension, worry. In the other, I am filled with revulsion and disgust but utterly confused. Without giving away the full details of these 2 nightmares which recurred for the entire 11 years I was being abused, and even for a short time after, let me try to precis my nightmares:

In the first, I am under a house which is built on brick supports, typical of Australian homes back in the 50's. (No basements there). It is dark but some weak light streaks through the spaces between those foundation pillars. I am digging in the dirt for something but I don't know what I expect to find. But what I feel is tension, great fear of finding something or someone that I have buried there. I cannot think what I've done wrong but I know it's something bad. And the bad is buried under that house. There's another shadowy figure down under the house with me. It is my father. He is digging too. He tells me that when I find it, I must not tell anyone, ever! Just cover it back up with the dirt. I am afraid that what I will find is a dead body. And I'm afraid that if I do, I will be charged with murder and spend the rest of my life in prison. But my father will walk free.

Care to interpret? I have.

In my other nightmare, always the same, I'm desperate to go to the toilet. I rush to the toilet, a small dark one like you find in those portable toilets, and relieve myself.  But when I reach for the paper, I can't find any that is clean. The toilet roll is soiled with excrement! I try to unroll it to find a clean piece and I get the excrement all over my hands. I cannot clean my hands or myself. I wake from this nightmare in panic. I can't stand this filth all over me ... and I can't wipe it off either!

I think the meaning of that one is probably quite clear. Does anyone else have nightmares similar to those I had? What were yours like? When did they stop? Or do they still surface even now, years after the abuse has stopped.

There is one dream I do remember having very often but this was a good dream. Sadly it never came true, well not quite the way it did in my dream. I am in a schoolyard or some crowded situation. There are people of all ages and sizes. They are coming after me but I don't know why. Suddenly, I stiffen on the spot, my legs together, almost glued, rigid. My arms hang tensely by my sides. I take a deep breath, stiffen my legs and arms again, and Houston ... we have lift-off! Just as the people reach for me, I soar high into the air and float above them. They are shouting but I am laughing. I'm flying. They can't get to me. I'm so happy as I zip over rooftops and see the people getting smaller and smaller the higher I go. It's such a wonderful dream. I laugh with happiness and freedom. I'm finally away from everything and everyone who causes me pain. The only nightmare in this dream is waking up to find it wasn't real, that I was only dreaming.

Bob Hope used to close his show for years with the classic "Thanks for the Memories". Those of us who have been, and are, victims of any kind of abuse, but especially child sexual abuse and incest would more likely sing "Thanks for the nightmares"

Can you relate? Your thoughts? Your nightmares? Want to share your story in private? Ask to join our Facebook group at SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER. We listen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


 Although this blog is based on my personal story of incest, through my private group at Facebook, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER, I am having the privilege of meeting some incredibly brave men and women who have been the victims of incest or child sexual abuse. All of us in different stages of recovery, of coming out from under. Some have made marvellous progress and are now ready and willing to share their stories outside our closed group. One of these is Nikki. Like the bee in our graphic, Nikki too was broken in her life's flight to becoming a confident, happy adult by her step-father. As in the case of too many others who have been sexually abused, Nikki's mother who should have been supportive failed her. She spiralled downward for many years, in and out of abusive relationships until, as Nikki writes in her last sentence, when she finally took control of her world, her world changed. I want to say "enjoy" Nikki's story but apart from enjoying her victory over that world, her story is not really enjoyable. I also need to warn you: Nikki doesn't waste words nor spare any sensitivities. What you will read below is raw, unedited, in your face truth. This is Nikki's story, in her own words, just as she shared it with me. Thank you Nikki for granting me permission to share how YOU came out from under!

I wanted to share. You can post it or parts of it or whatever you wish. Just know it is me - raw. Born Dec 16, 1969 into a pseudo forced southern marriage of sorts. Just a few short years after I was brought into this world, my bio-dad abandoned me, my sister and my mother. That story, however, is one for another time. 

Not long after, my mother remarried but I don’t know exactly how long after. She had two young daughters to raise: me and my half-sister who was but 6 years older, Tedde. My earliest memory of the possible abuse was about 5. We were transient. Not wealthy but certainly not poor, by my standards. A picture my mother still has of me in red polyester cowboy pants and a denim pearl button and bandana material western shirt, cowboy boots…I cannot remember if I had a hat on….still brings a feeling of disgust and shame but I don’t quite know why, although I can extrapolate from the feelings why. We moved several more times. 

Images of him crawling into bed with me when my mother was out with her girlfriends or of him taking me to bed moments after I arrived from school still sit in my brain. Images of that bathroom with the two locked doors and the cold tile floor. Images of take your daughter to work day at the oil rigs (it was just him and me) a rifle and a giant owl he had killed or that somehow was dead. Images of living in Kileen Texas and the window where he reminded me why I shouldn’t tell anyone….he had a gun, I remember the gun. Images that aren’t shared with others. They bring about too many opportunities for fights or arguments or tears. I think it was the after school times that were the most difficult, not that any of it was particularly easy. I would drag my feet walking the green mile. No matter what house we lived in, the after school walk from either the school to home or the bus to home turned me into a zombie. 

I knew if I didn’t get home by a certain time, the punishment by him would be harsh. If I smacked my food, I would get hit in the head with fork prongs. And of course, the belt was a regular staple. Folded in half, it always produced such an intense snap that I would stand at attention. Yea, the punishment on top of the other was certainly not worth being tardy.

I remember it burned really bad. Kind of like a UTI and how it burns when you pee. I would bleed a little and it would be mixed in with the bleach smelling product that he would call “the mess”. Today, it still smells like bleach. I was scared when blood would get on my panties because I knew my mom would blame me. I said “I wiped too hard” if she asked. I got yelled nonetheless, but it seemed to pacify her curiosity about the blood on my panties. I remember them….they had tiny pale pink flowers, yellow flowers, blue flowers. 

Sometimes he would ask me to treat it like a lollipop. I gagged. He would make me swallow “the mess” and lick it all up like a lollipop. Afterwards, he would hand me a dollar or two and send me to the convenience store to buy myself a treat. I always got some frozen ice cream treat on a stick that mom never ever let me have. OR I would get $2 worth of candy. My favorite was the tiny little chocolate balls (green, orange, yellow, red, and brown) that came in the plastic clear straw like package. I could buy TONS of them with $2! Sometimes I saved it and bought bigger treats. However, it was the walk to and from the store that I cherished. It was so far from the house and I would walk really slow. It hurt to walk. I was always sore, burning sore. 

It is all a blur. When they married, he was a police officer for the Mineral Wells TX. He wore a dark brown shirt with light gray pants and dark brown stripes on the side. My daddy was a highway patrolman but I don’t remember him much. My stepfather locked me in a jail cell one time. I cried I was so scared. He teased me and laughed. The other officers, I think they giggled but I don’t remember. He lost his job there at some point. Then it was drilling rigs. He also worked at an auto body shop in Killeen TX. In what order, I don’t remember. When he was laid off from his job, he took me more often. 

Never more than once a day. Sometimes only once a week. Sometimes it was 4-5 days a week. From sometime around 4 or 5 years old until the fight… which was just before I went into 6th grade. One time my mom went to the Bahamas with my cousins and my aunt. They were gone 7 days. I remember that time when I go through family photo albums and see the picture of me in my green terry cloth jump suit shorts taking family photos at the family reunion. I don’t think the terry jumper had anything to do with the Bahamas…I just remember the abuse.

It is the picture of the thin pale green PJs with the clown-like edging (they were my favorite jammies) and the snoopy cake my mom had made, me and my little brothers (she and this man had two boys …Justin and Kenneth) posing for the picture behind the cake but in front of the washer and dryer (our laundry was always clean and neatly folded and put away….I hate putting clothes away to this day) – that reminds me of the day I told my mom. 

Which was before the Bahama trip. It was her “girls night out” with her work girls. I begged her not to go. She asked why. I couldn’t say. I was scared. My stomach hurt like when someone you love and are very close to dies (like your young child or your best friend or your closest sister) in combination with walking out on stage in front of a million people to sing a song, only you aren’t sure you can sing. Yea – that was the feeling in my gut. She sensed my fear and kept pressing and I started to cry. I said “he does things”. WHO? WHO DOES THINGS? I told her in a whisper “Larry” and from there, she dragged me to him. He was perched on the faux leather recliner with his white tube socks…he always wore white tube socks. They were always brilliant white. She made me tell him what I said. Except I had to use the F*** word. Tears and quivering, I managed to say “He F****s me” I was then sent to my room. An action today I treat as punishment against me but then it was safe. The fight followed….I was safe because she didn’t leave and he didn’t come into my room. 

They separated for a few months and I didn’t see him. She took me to the gynecologist in Weatherford TX just a few days after it all happened. I remember the male dr doing a vaginal exam and then telling me to sit outside while he and my mom talked. It burned. Like penis, the Dr. fingers hurt. I wore my gymnastic uniform – leotard and sweat pants. It was burgundy with hot pink stripes on the legs. I had a meet that night. I was an outcast. Not very good at gymnastics because I was so big and clunky. My parents never came to meets. I was in 4th grade. Mrs. Koch was my teacher. We made butter in a jar in her class. She was nice. I sat outside the office while they spoke and then she came out and we left. Nothing else…..ever. Except my mother said we don’t need to talk about this. And my grandmother, she said we don’t need to talk about this and bring shame on the family. So we didn’t. We really haven’t. 

At the age of 41 I realized she probably told the Dr. I was having sex but did not tell him that my step dad was having sex with me. I had already forgiven her by this point in my life so I cried for my child and the safety lost….but moved on.
My mother went back to this man, her husband. She then left for the Bahamas. As I said above, he had me every night while she was gone. I tried to hide outside sometimes because I knew he would take me if I were alone in the house with him. He would call my name….I wouldn’t come. He would always get me eventually. Sneak into my bed after the boys had gone to sleep. My bed was at the very back of the house and was completely closed off. I would lay there and try to pretend I was asleep. He would touch me. The odd thing is that I orgasmed, although I had no idea what it was or why I was doing it. I cannot remember what he did to himself or if he did anything. I played dead. He would leave. There were other times I remember orgasming. That is where I think I had the most shame on myself as I realized what had happened. That and the ice cream. 

When my mom returned from her vacation, he didn’t touch me again. Mom and he fought like crazy and he spent a lot of time at the bars and not coming home. One fight, he threw all our dishes at my room door and then came and shook me. I had the flu. My mom hit him and told him to not ever touch me again. It wasn’t very long thereafter they separated for good and divorced. We moved to Dallas.

I ran away in 9th grade and again in 11th grade – for good. I smoked pot. I smoked cigarettes (no one in my family smoked). I stole wine coolers from the local grocery store and I drank. I was temporarily homeless and slept at a lake after a party one night. I swam across the marina and a man, in his 40s? took me for a ride on his boat. I was sure he wanted something. He did not. He told me I should not be out there alone. He was nice. I remember that ride. 
I was promiscuous in my teens and early twenties, not flirty but I truly believed it was how others showed kindness and love to me. Needless to say, I was taken advantage of a lot. 

I was taken advantage of at a party in 9th grade (was so drunk, I had no idea what was going on) and a guy I knew pulled my pants down and had me. A bunch of “popular” type girls walked in and from them on, those girls barked at me through high school. I joined the military. I married young to a physically and emotionally abusive man. Although I had a temper and was able to defend myself, he was very abusive. We had a child. Our marriage lasted 3 years after he had a restraining order put against him by the US Airforce for beating me. 

I married another man…a cop. He was controlling and emotionally abusive. God would make us work – keep us safe. We had 2 children. When the youngest turned 2, he physically struck me after I refused to conform to his control. I reported him to Family Advocacy, called my mother and left him. I went back – he begged me and I thought it was best for the boys. It was ugly. I left again…for good. I was pretty broken: emotionally, spiritually and financially.

I dated another man – a drunk. He was very educated. I got pregnant. We married because it was the Christian thing to do and God would somehow make it right. He was a drunk and poured all the money into alcohol. Not abusive, just removed and drunk. He showed no love, only a strong desire for sex. I always caught him with porn, teen girl bondage porn, found cheating dating sites he had registered on, found emails from women he had been talking to, sometimes he wouldn’t come home and he said it was a late meeting or board meeting. We had 2 children, the second of which (my only daughter) I gave up to a couple who really wanted a child because my husband was such a drunk, porn addict and financially inept that I was scared he would fail us and we would fail her. 

I got involved in martial arts. The owner of the program, Hill Country Karate, told me how great I was and what a great instructor I was. I excelled through the program at a rapid pace. When I received my brown belt, I was given black belt candidacy. It was at this point that the owner of Hill Country Karate decided to use me as he sexual doll. He had used my vulnerabilities (loss of my child and drunk husband) as a tool and combined that with carefully crafting the tasks he had me do in the org so I was enmeshed. He told me I was his slave. I was marked. I wore a leash. I was involved in a sex ring of sorts. My husband knew. He was too drunk to help.

I finally grew a set and took back control of my world. Finished my Master’s Degree. Started writing to help me recover. Got my black belt and self-defense instructor cert. Started doing a few training sessions on teen dating violence. Joined my local anti DV org. Volunteered for the local abuse shelter as best I could. Got a job. Ratted Nick Smith out. Left my husband. 

In the interim, I have found my inner strength. I have found great counseling, although intermittent, it has been effective. I have had to forgive many for their indiscretions against me, but not forget. I have yet to forgive my last husband or Nick Smith. My partner, who is most loving has a similar past and understands my broken soul. He walks beside me now and we hold the other up when it is needed. I am tired of being abandoned and alone. It was when I took control over my world that my world changed.
That is my story.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


“I believe when you are attacked, either as a child or as an adult, that you are put in a position of choice. You can either allow it to consume you and watch it destroy you or you can fight against it. Only you can make yourself develop the courage to overcome it and talk about it openly. When you carry it as a secret it will eat at you and continue to tear you apart.” 

With these words, Patricia, one of the bravest women I know, brings the last few pages of her real life story of abuse and incest to a close. I have never met Patricia in person. We are friends on Facebook now, but my first encounter with her came when I was researching incest on YouTube and found her video that I shared in this earlier blog post here. As she gave a few details of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-father for 12 years, I was shocked, but compelled to read her book, My Justice, available as an eBook at LULU.COM, or as a soft cover at Amazon and other online sites. 

As someone who is now writing her own story of incest, I had to know how she wrote her story and how much detail she provided. As a fellow survivor, I had to know about the reactions of her family, friends and others had to her terrible disclosures and most importantly, what have been the long-term effects of the dreadful abuse she suffered, not just at the hands of her father but several other abusers who took over where her step-father left off. 

My Justice wasn't an easy read, for me, not so much for the violence Patricia suffered (which was often-times horrific) but for what it said about her own mother's denial, ignorance, and lack of love and support for this poor child with the brilliant blue eyes. Throughout her 40 + years of abuse, Patricia tried time and again to win and hold onto her mother's love. She desperately wanted a good relationship with her mother, some acknowledgement that "Trecia" was indeed a good person to whom bad things had happened at the hands of her own husband. And her mother never, to this day, gave her that vital pleasure. This mother, for me, is as loathsome as the step-father. In the criminal justice system, people are charged, tried and convicted for aiding and abetting a crime. I can think of Patricia's mom in no other terms: she aided and abetted this ugly, abusive step-father who took her virginity by ramming a rifle up his step-daughter's vagina! Patricia's mother stood beside this monster till his death, but she never once stood up for or protected her daughter. For me, this is the saddest part of My Justice. 

The last few pages also drove home another ugly fact about incest when the family doesn't know the details, or when it does, turns a blind eye toward the truth. The accuser becomes the accused: the abuser is believed over the abused. What's wrong with this picture! In my Facebook group, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER, it's heartbreaking to learn from other victims that this is the reaction in their families too. We rail against the honour killings in other cultures, but by insisting incest and child sexual abuse be covered up, hushed up, not talked about, how different are we? These children die too ... just more slowly. It may not be a physical death, but unless they can open up and someone believes them, they die mentally and spiritually. Death by the long term incarceration of silence as opposed to hanging. Which is worse?

And then there's the effects on the children of an abused parent. It's heart-breaking to read how Patricia's past has negatively affected her relationships with her daughters. Her past made Patricia ill-equipped to handle the ups and downs of motherhood, though it's obvious she loved her children more than herself. Sadly, they don't see it that way. They saw her constant searching for a kind, non-abusive male companion as whoring.  At one point, her own children were now calling her what her abuser had called her: a dirty, ugly whore. 

How Patricia has survived all this mental, physical, spiritual and sexual abuse is something only she knows. It's something each of us who have gone through similar, easier or worse, knows. We all have different levels of strength and resolve. Some of us can take more, some less. Some of us can come out from under enough to talk about it privately, or as Patricia and I am now doing, publicly.  But it's never easy and even after it's done, it's still fraught with anxiety, worry and insecurity that we are doing the right thing by talking about it at all. But silence is deadly. 

I thank Patricia for showing me the way with her book. While I had decided to write my own book before I'd ever heard of her, MY JUSTICE has given me the courage to continue writing. My conversations with Patricia via Facebook and private emails have shown me the beautiful, caring person she is and has always been. She is a classic example of what it's like when bad things happen to good people but she has come out on top and is now devoting her life to helping others who are suffering as she did. I urge you to not just read Patricia's book, but to join her newest site at PATRICIA MCKIGHT'S JUSTICE and to follow her blog at SURVIVOR'S JUSTICE.

Don't let YOUR secret "eat at you and continue to tear you apart." As Patricia says in the final line of her book:

“If your world is not what you want, then I hope that you can find the strength to survive and move forward away from the pain.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

IT'S NOT THE MONSTER UNDER THE BED #incest #child sexual abuse

Since starting this blog, my book, and my Facebook group at SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of painful stories that have emerged from the other victims and survivors I am meeting almost every day now. There are SO many of us who have been sexually abused as children, and who, unfortunately, have been abused again and again in their teens and adult years by other abusers. It's as if these victims are magnets constantly attracting the same kind of creeps. 

As I read their stories, I almost begin to feel that I got off easy! Or have I merely submerged so much of what happened to me under so many layers of denial that I really no longer remember it all. Even fresh from escaping from home, as time put distance between me and my father and what happened, and my newly found freedom took over my life, I began to wonder if I'd imagined it all. Today, I don't even feel like a victim ... nor merely a survivor. I have actually thrived over all those years and found out strong and worthwhile I really am. Oh sure, some days I hate myself, but don't we all?

But a recent post on Facebook caught my attention. The poster questioned herself, as I am doing now, about how much did she really suffer? After reading what others had written, she couldn't remember her abuse being so bad. In fact, she said she can't remember much about anything and almost jokingly stated she's known for her bad memory ie. here today gone tomorrow. Some who replied said she's mastered the art of zoning out and repressing memories. They suggested if she were put under hypnosis it could even be dangerous for her. 

Hypnosis eh? I suddenly remembered having a terrible headache that lasted for days when I was in my 20's. My husband suggested I see the doctor. The doctor couldn't find any physical reason, but as he was into hypnosis, he asked if I'd like to try that i.e. perhaps he could hypnotize the headache out of me. I was in such pain, I was game for anything. So he put me under. I remember it clearly now. As I sunk deeper and deeper, I felt a terrible sadness come over me. From somewhere deep inside, like a river rising during a storm, I felt dreadful physical pain, beginning in my groin, travelling up through my bowels and stomach and into my chest. Then the dam burst. Tears poured out of me. I sobbed and sobbed and couldn't stop. I was aware of the doctor and my husband looking shocked and almost afraid. The doctor snapped me out of it as fast as he could but I continued crying, now back from the depths but not out of them. 

"Where did you go?" asked the doctor? I had no reply. I didn't know. All I knew was how much it hurt deep inside. Was this the load of repressed memories breaking through the layers and trying to get out? Did I face them at that time? Come to grips with them? To this day I still don't know, but once the headache subsided ... and it did within a couple of hours, I felt reborn, like a massive load had been taken out of my body, soul and mind. From then on, I've been able to live with the memories and put them out of my head at will instead of reliving and regurgitating them and making myself miserable by doing so. Was this the first step in my healing over 40 years ago now?

So now I listen to other victims' stories. They speak of their abusers, the monsters who came into their rooms at night. These were real monsters, not creatures of fiction. They didn't hide under the children's beds. These monsters were in their beds, in their bodies and in their heads ... just like my father was. And while many of my memories are dim now, that is one memory that I cannot shake: me lying there, praying "Not tonight, please! Not again!" Me tensing up, listening for the footsteps, the turning of the handle on my door, the shadowy figure stealing into my room and suddenly standing beside my bed. My father.  The monster in my bed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FORGIVE & YOU CAN BEGIN TO HEAL #incest #child sexual abuse #abuse

This morning I came across a profound statement by P.J. McClure, founder of the MINDSET MAVEN.  McClure mentors executives and business owners on how to live their lives fully while building success. I found Mr. McClure via a Ronae Jull, who writes incredibly helpful articles for people like you and me who are survivors of one kind of abuse or another. Her blog posts can be found under HOPE COACHING.

Now you may well ask what does someone who mentors business men have to offer me, a victim trying to get on my feet again after being abused. Well here's what P.J. McClure wrote:

"Abuse can bring two, very real, psychological tyrants into the victim’s life. Resentment and /or guilt. Both of these serve to restrict and damage our personal movement. No matter how many years have come and gone, the lingering effects of this destructive duo hamper even the strongest person."

Whoa! How true is that? And there's more: 

"Both guilt and resentment have a unique characteristic. They do absolutely NOTHING to the abuser. No matter how much we make ourselves ill with guilt, anger, or depression… it does not exact any measure of justice, revenge, or peace. All it does is make us tired.
We have to break the bondage of abuse and put it to rest for good."
I just bet you can relate to that statement about how it does absolutely nothing to the abuser. How many times have you wished, cried, prayed that your abusers would suddenly see how horrible they have been to you, would realize the harm they've caused, would apologize and set you free from the shame, blame and guilt you were carrying as a result of their actions? I did. I kept hoping my father would somehow wake up and once again become the loving father I should have had and deserved to have. But he never did! He never said he was sorry. He never saw anything wrong with what he was doing. Or if he did, his own needs superseded mine. He found every which way to justify his actions. So expecting him to relent and repent was wishful, useless dreaming on my part. I bet you found the same with your abuser?
But what of the other statement McClure makes that we have to "break the bondage of abuse and put it to rest for good?" The big question, if we want and need to end our suffering, (and who doesn't?) is just how do we do that? How do we stop ourselves from being enslaved by our past, remaining victims of abuse forever, long after the abuse has ended?
I've heard many say that to free themselves, they had to accept first that they themselves were not guilty of any wrong-doing. They had to stop blaming themselves. They had to FORGIVE themselves. This is so true and tantamount to healing and coming out from under at last. But is it enough to fully heal? McClure suggests it's not, and I agree with him. He says you have to FORGIVE the abuser! What, you ask? How can I forgive him/her? Maybe right now you're screaming aloud or silently: "I'll never forgive them for what they did to me!" 
While that's understandable, it most likely means then, that you can never fully heal either. As McClure says:
"First, forgiveness is an inside job. A common misconception is that the offender has to accept your forgiveness. It is possible that the offender doesn’t even realize they have done anything wrong. We cannot accept something we do not see the need for.
All that is required to set you free is offering the forgiveness. By doing so, you release yourself from carrying the pain. Forgiving is not saying what was done is okay or justified. Forgiveness simply means that we aren’t going to carry the burden anymore."

That is profound. I don't even think I'd ever realized until I read his words, that somewhere along the line I had indeed done that, and by doing so, I'd forgiven both myself and my father. After that, it was so much easier to move on, and now, to open up as I have about all of it. 
That leaves only one thing to be addressed: How do we do it? How do we forgive the abuser? McClure says we do it like this:
Finally, forgiveness can be as simple as saying the words, “I forgive you,” or could take time to peel away the layers of pain. Ultimately, our willingness to let the issues go determines how quickly we heal.
Sounds so simple doesn't it. But that's what must be done if you are to heal fully. And you know what? You CAN do it. You can do anything you want, anything you put your mind to. You ARE what you think you are. The adage is true: If you believe, you can achieve. 
Forgive yourselves and forgive your abusers. No, you may never forget, but  you can forgive. And when you forgive, bit by bit you also begin to forget. The memories start fading; the flashbacks decrease; the pain becomes less and you come out from under and land on top. You take back control of your life. You become the one with power. 
Though I'm not a praying person, I'll join McClure in his prayer for you:
"My prayer for all who are in either role, find forgiveness and honor yourself as the gift you are. Shed the burden and allow yourself to be your best."

Friday, October 12, 2012


I hadn't planned to write on this subject today. In fact, I had a whole different blog, already half-written.

But this morning, my heart broke as I  looked at the photo of that beautiful 15-year-old girl, Amanda Todd,  who committed suicide when the bullying and her subsequent pain became too much to bear.

From what I gather from newspaper items and her sad YouTube video that was a cry for help and understanding, when she posted the video, she was  staying strong, struggling to hold onto her self-esteem, fighting as it were, for her life. And in the end, she gave up. How incredibly sad!

How much bullying and abuse can a person take before he/she breaks? How do some survive the taunts, the name-calling, the kicks, the punches, the beatings, the bruises and eventually emerge battered but alive, while others succumb. They just can't take it anymore.

As you know, I've been reading Patricia A. McKnight's "My Justice". While the details of the sexual abuse by her step-father are truly revolting, even more so than my own in a way, it's actually the physical, mental and verbal abuse she suffered that has bothered me even more. Her step-father was an ogre. But to then see her move on to her first real "love",  so happy to be finally away from her abuser, only to find that her first love is even more abusive than the step-father, made my jaw drop. By the time she got away from him, she'd suffered 2 concussions and sustained so much other physical damage that it just boggles my mind to think she's still alive ie. that one of them didn't kill her or she didn't kill herself! How much abuse can a person take? I don't know that I could have withstood what she did.

And as I read the posts made by members of my Facebook group, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER, and indeed the many posts I'm finding on other group pages, I am simultaneously shocked and saddened by what I read, but at the same time, I'm in absolute awe of these brave victims who are now survivors and didn't end their lives despite the horrific abuse so many have experienced. Some of them are "coming out from under" bit by bit. Some are impatient with themselves for not healing faster, but the point is, they ARE healing, however slowly, each time they face the demons, talk about it and don't give in to ending it all. 

If only poor Amanda were older, maybe she would have found the strength to hang on. If only someone had recognized her pain, had truly listened to her and went out of their way to help her, maybe we wouldn't now be reading about her suicide. And yet, like Amanda,   like me and like you who are reading this, so many victims have cried out for help, turned to their parents or a relative, told them the story, only to be disbelieved or ignored. Patricia's mother refused to do anything though she knew all along what was going on.

And when some do finally tell all, like KYLIE DEVI, there is so often more abuse to face: those who ask "How could you tell all that!" "How could you shame our family with your lies!" "Just who are you talking about ... who did this to you?" That last one, in Kylie's case was asked by one of her abusers for heaven's sake!

It's too late for Amanda. Maybe if her parents and others had "filled her bucket of self-esteem" high enough, these bullies wouldn't have worn her down to where she hit rock bottom. If there is any goodness to come from such a sad story, it's that once again the rest of us are reminded of how devastating bullying is, especially to fragile young psyches. But now, what will be done about it? I hope Amanda's story isn't wasted like her life was. R.I.P. Amanda Todd.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


This weekend, we celebrate THANKSGIVING DAY in Canada on Monday, Oct. 8th. Because this day is about being thankful, my post today is short, its message positive. Yes, bad things happened to me over the younger years, but since I left home, life hasn't just been good: it's been great! Getting away, meeting my wonderful husband of over 40 years now, enjoying my beautiful daughters and grand-daughter ... well I have so much to be positive about and thankful for.  I may be aging and my health is failing, but I'm still here, alive and well enough to tell my story and hopefully inspire and encourage others to do the same.

And this past month or so, since starting my book, this blog, my Facebook page OUT FROM UNDER, and more recently, my Facebook group, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER, my life has just become even more fulfilling and fulfilled as I meet other brave men and women like myself, eager to share their stories, to help and comfort each other, and encouraging each other get out from under the hell they've been living in. To them, the members of my page and my group, my subscribers and the followers of this blog, and the writers whose books about abuse that I am reading, I say THANK YOU. Thank you for coming with me on this journey. We come from all walks of life and different parts of the world, but we share similar stories and understand each other best because our experiences though different, are in so many ways, the same. Thank you all for helping me continue to COME OUT FROM UNDER. My little poem comes from my heart and is dedicated to you all.

We live in different worlds 
Our paths are not the same
But together we  have trudged along 
Roads we've paved with shame

We see each other in words
Each face is like our own
Bright smiles that hide the tears
That each of us has known

Like freshly fallen snow
Hides potholes hidden below 
We trip and sometimes fall but
Then pick ourselves up and go

Our battle has been tough
The journey has been long
But when we hold each other's hands
We make each other strong

The more we share our stories
The easier it is to tell
Come out from under with us
And let's close the gates on hell

©  Viga Boland 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012


Today I came across a post in a closed Facebook group devoted to rape and sexual assault where the poster said she'd like to blog about what happened to her, but is hesitant to do so, especially in a public blogging platform like the one I use.

That is, of course, a very valid concern. Before we open up and come out from under, be it to one person or a group, let alone to what could be a world-wide readership, there are many things to consider:

1) Are you truly ready to speak openly about the abuse you suffered? Doing so can be daunting and re-open many wounds.

2) Who will be affected by what you write, even if you keep the real names out of the blog? Who will recognize themselves and may be upset by that? Are you ready to handle how they react and what they might throw back at you?

3) Is your abuser still alive? Nearby? Will he/she deny your accusations and if so, are you ready to stand up to them?

4) Once you blog in a public forum like this, will you invite comments and be prepared to receive both praise and criticism. (Be sure to select option to approve comments before they are posted!)

5) Is your immediate family aware of the abuse, all the details, and are they ready to support you or will they be horrified that you've let the family skeletons out of the closet?

6) What if the family says this will ruin them, cost them their jobs etc? Will that hold you back yet again from telling?

There's so much to think about before you start telling all, especially in public. But while you are busy worrying about everyone else, holding back as you've always done for everyone else's stake, what about YOU? Most likely, like the rest of us, you've kept your secret hidden for years ... how many ... 10, 20 30 and counting. What is it doing to YOU keeping quiet all this time?

When I started this blog, and decided to even write a book about my own sexual abuse, I waited until I'd told my husband and children all about my "sordid" past. Their response to the idea of my making it all public was universal: "You have to do it mom! He had no right to do that to you. He got off scott free and now he's dead; he won't even pay for it, but you've been paying all these years!"

They were right. Their words encouraged me.  They also reminded me of one other thing: all the others out there like me. They felt if I told my story, maybe one other person out there, one other victim of incest or sexual abuse might say "Wow ... this could be my story!" The family said that reading my words might be just what that one person needs to get out and change their lives. All the more, I felt emboldened, ready to do this.

Since I began this blog a couple of months back, I've been shocked, pleasantly, by the number of men and women who have subscribed to my blog and joined my OUT FROM UNDER page at Facebook. Every day, as more join, I am reassured I did the right thing in blogging about my past.

I have also realized how the subject of INCEST is indeed, most likely, the greatest taboo when it comes to child sexual abuse.  Try as I might with my Facebook page, members were, for the most part, reluctant to talk openly about their own abuse in a public forum like Facebook when so many of their family members are also on Facebook and can see what they're written. Thanks to the suggestion of one of my members, I decided to form a private, CLOSED group for those who are wanting and needing to share their stories but only with others like them and in privacy. That group, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER, is now growing quickly. All posts are not visible to anyone but members. And most  importantly to me, they are speaking out and up and other members are consoling, advising, comforting and encouraging them with their own similar experiences.  It's truly beautiful and for me, so personally fulfilling.

I'm going to finish this post about whether we should blog or not, with this wonderful note I got from a friend in England when he realized what I was doing. He wrote:

"Your recent revelations of sexual abuse that you experienced when you were young were heart wrenching to read. Yet the spirit in which you presented spoke of a human being who was not going to live by someone else's terms or behaviour. Because you chose to reveal this on the internet you must know that your inspirational words will have immediately affected and comforted hundreds of thousands of other sufferers, probably still enduring that worst crime that anyone can commit against a defenceless child. Child abuse is probably the last 'taboo' subject and it is due to public and international exposure that the victims may now be protected and helped."

In his closing sentence, he also wrote: "If life was the Olympic Games, you would have a Gold Medal for the Courage Event."

Do you know how good that made me feel to read that? But if I were the person handing out medals for courage at the Olympic Games, I know I wouldn't have enough of them to give to all of you who have withstood years of abuse, shame and blame. That, my dear friends, takes even more courage than writing about it. But, in the end, if you have been able to do that, you have it in you to go one step further to come out from under and write about it, even if you only do it in private, closed groups like my new one, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER. If you'd like to join us, send a request from the Facebook group page.

Monday, September 24, 2012

HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE NEVER YOURSELF #incest #child sexual abuse

"Home. Define home. Home is where your mother rarely smiles, your father rules, and both mother and child have no say about anything at all. Home is where both mother and child wait on father hand and foot, where each thinks carefully before saying something that might bring on father's rage. Home is where you lie about your activities and dreams and keep your thoughts to yourself because to tell the truth will bring a sudden blinding vicious blow to the head or ears or an onslaught of filthy, denigrating words or a volley of hard kicks to your backside. Home is where who you are, is who your father wants you to be, not who you are:  Home is where you are never yourself. Home is where you no longer know who you are. Home is the last place on earth you want to be. 

I hated coming home from school. Any sense of freedom I had during the day disappeared the instant I stepped inside the duplex, even though my father wouldn't yet be home for a couple of hours. I'd get stuck into my homework immediately: it had to all be done by the time he arrived so I could take my place beside him on that hated unfolded bed chesterfield in front of the T.V. for the rest of the evening. Mom would arrive home shortly after I did, smelling as she had for years of sweet biscuit dust and furiously rubbing her itchy nose while she bashed the meat with a meat hammer. Though she never said it, every  bang of that hammer was a release of her own deep seated anger, a hopeless rebellion against her life. Every blow echoed through my own helplessness. We were two women held captive by fear, ashamed of our weakness and disgusted by our own inability to change our lives.  As dad's arrival time approached, we both sensed the tension mounting in each other, but we never talked about it. We both knew talking about our lives would most likely be a waste of time: neither of us had the courage to do anything about them."

For the first time dear reader, I'm sharing with you a tiny segment from my book, "Coming Out From Under".  How am I doing? I'm now more than half-way through my true story of "incest in the first degree", my words for how I see sexual abuse of a child by his/her biological parent. 

Incest in the first degree is not quite the same, for me, as incest by a step-parent. I carry my father's genes within me. Yes, there is no difference in how much the victim suffers, or the key role a step-parent has in a child's life,  but the biological parent gave the victim life in the first place. Now that same parent, sometimes for years,  murders that same child. It's a slow form of filicide (i.e killing one's own child).

According to another victim of incest, I have forgiven him as I cannot quite bring myself to hate him. I never did, though I got close enough to want to kill him.  But I valued my own life more and I think that's what sustained me, carried me through the 11 years of sexual abuse and finally away from it. 

But even as I write my story, I still cannot understand, and never will, why the biological parent is attracted sexually to his/her own child. I certainly never, at any point, found my father sexually attractive. From the get-go, the idea of dad sticking his penis in me, touching my breasts, slobbering me with lascivious kisses was utterly abhorrent and repulsive, as I'm sure it is to any who don't want and never invited such activity. And by the time it had ended, it amazed me, and still does, that he never really saw anything wrong with it. For him, "loving" me this way was no different from any other kind of love. In desperation, I'd say to him that this isn't the kind of "love" a father gives a child. He'd just brush it off and say "Love is love. A father loves everything about his child. What's the difference?" And as I write in the excerpt above, I felt weak, powerless, bereft of words to fight incest in the first degree. He was so much stronger and smarter than I was in every way.

Well that's all want to share today. I've taken the first step in giving you a peek into my book. Much of it is a lot nittier and grittier than that.  But other sections will make you forget temporarily that you are reading a true story of incest. For me, and I think for the reader, those segments are needed. We can only handle so much bad news at one time, don't you think?

So now, I'll ask again as I did in my last post ... but got no response: how am I doing? Am I on the right track? Will YOU want to read my book when I'm done? I hope to hear from you this time. Thanks for subscribing, reading and commenting. Your thoughts and reactions are needed to keep me coming out from under. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning, I seized the little "alone" time I get these days to catch up writing my book, my personal story of incest, titled COMING OUT FROM UNDER. After an hour or two of just letting it flow, I stopped to re-read that flow, a section that was less focussed on the actual sexual abuse. It gave me, and I hope my future reader, some breathing space, some break from the nastier details. I found I'd even interjected some funnier moments in my life, the moments that kept me sane and stopped me from wanting to shoot myself.

As I made a cup of tea, still reflecting on what I wrote, I remembered my first draft. I'd run the first 10-20 pages past one of my daughters. When she read them, she looked at me sadly and said "Mom, it's so dark, so black". I deleted all of it. Did I really want readers to open up my book and immediately start feeling depressed?

So I began again, this time going way back into my early childhood, recalling good times, bad times and how confusing I found the adults in my world. I talked about going to school, playing hooky, never having enough to eat, and the dreams I had for myself. As I wrote, again I had to ask myself, would my readers be interested in this stuff ... the stuff before the abuse? Remember, the actual sexual abuse in my case didn't occur till I was nearly 12. Again, I stopped.  Perhaps I was just being self-indulgent, even arrogant to think someone would want to read all this. People want to know your history, your background, if you're famous or a celebrity. I am none of those, that's for sure.

So now, as I move on covering the adolescent and abusive years, I am constantly censoring what I'm writing. How much detail is too much? What will my readers want to know? And as the unpleasant details unfold, will they welcome a break, the odd tid-bit tossed in about happier or funnier moments in my life?

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I'm currently reading 2 books about incest. One is hard-hitting with a steady onslaught of the horror that child lived with. The other builds more gradually as mine is doing. I'm enjoying (bad choice of a word when it comes to a book on incest) both. I identify with events in both stories, so much so, that it's scary how similar our abusers are and how we responded to their abuse. I like the writing style of both writers, but their approaches are different. Of course, ultimately, my book and my style are my own as it should be.

But here's where I turn to you who are reading this. How much of the background, personal stuff do  you want? And what about the nitty-gritty: the actual details of what went on? How specific does one get before it's all too much to read? And would you want the lighter moments that show the woman evolving from just an object of her father's lust into someone who eventually found the courage to break away, build a new good life for herself and is today, actually enjoying writing her often horrid story and coming out from under?

I'm thinking about putting an additional page on this blog where I'll include excerpts from my story from time to time. Do you think this is a good idea? I suppose it's my way of asking you to "approve" my approach, to have you tell me if what I put there is something you'd want to read.

Please leave me your comments on the many questions I've asked you in this post right here on this blog. What you say is important to me. I thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy lives to help me out. And as the photo and Martin Luther King Jr's words urge us to be

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Today's post is hard for me to write. I've been trying to understand over the past few years why the ever-positive persona I present to the world, my generally optimistic outlook on life, and my usually cheery disposition seems to be waning.

It was my younger daughter who pointed this out to me a few years back. She told me I was changing: ie. I'd become tense, jumpy, over-reactive etc.  I was under lots of stress at the time, having been unexpectedly saddled with almost full-time care of my then 7-year-old grand-daughter. Suddenly, my world, my retirement plans, my free time was snatched away from me. For the second time in my life, someone other than me had taken control of my life ... and I didn't like it. But for the second time, I also felt powerless to do anything about it. My father had controlled my childhood, my adolescence and even a bit of my early 20's. Now, my own children and their needs were controlling and dictating how I would spend the last few years of my life. I felt like I'd been hit by a brick in the face. Not again!!

Over the past 3 years, I've come to grips with becoming an unwilling mother in my 60's. I've settled into the routine. My cheery disposition and optimism have returned as I've adjusted to my new loss of control. But then, in the past few weeks, I see it disappearing again. What is happening here? I put it down to getting old, the horrible feeling that time is running out and there's so much I want to do and no longer have the energy nor time for. Every morning I've been waking up lately, hoping today would be a better day, that my mood would improve, that something wonderful might happen, but instead, I'm starting each day flat! I HATE this feeling!

Then, this morning, I read this latest post by a fellow victim/survivor of incest, Patricia Singleton. In her post titled

Are The Effects Of Incest A Life Sentence For A Survivor?

Patricia sounds a lot like me: someone who has come to grips with her past and moved on to live a good, productive life. But while her father, like mine, is long dead and buried, and she can even understand to some degree his own horrid behaviour with her, she still finds herself being sucked back under from time to time by something that triggers her deep inside. It seems these days, for me, this is happening too often. Have I been that good at ignoring my own needs and emotions all these years? Have I been so busy, hell-bent on helping everyone else in my family that I've ignored myself, put myself second most of the time. I think I have. And now, when I want the freedom to pursue who I am and do what I want, I'm getting too old, too achy (physically), too overloaded mentally as I try to do it all. It's overwhelming. 

Of course, those around me will say "Slow down Viga. Take time for yourself. Take a break. You can't be everything to everyone  etc etc." ... all advice I give others constantly but can't follow myself. What an irony! But there's more to this: it comes back to the issue of CONTROL. I'm feeling out of control again and I'm not comfortable with it at all. 

Now here we come to the crux and whole point of my blog post this morning: what I realized about myself most after reading Patricia's post is that like my father, but in a different way, I too have been controlling my own children, even my husband to some degree, for years now. My older daughter took till she was in her 20's to alert me to this. It had taken her all that time to drum up the courage to tell me how she really felt about her controlling mama.  Just like me, she didn't want to upset the parent she probably loved and hated simultaneously. She was "scared" to tell me how she felt, just as I was scared to oppose my dad. How could I be so blind? 

My younger daughter, an enormously talented performer, welcomed my control when she was in her teens, even demanded it because she wanted her career so badly that mom was good for pulling out all stops to help and promote her. Now, just turned 30, she is sending me signals daily that it's time for me to butt out and let her take control of her own life. And she is right. But it's so hard for me to do, to give up doing something I've been involved in and loved doing for over 15 years. It's like telling me to quit smoking cold turkey LOL!

And then there's my husband, now quite deaf, often irritable and impatient as he sees his own mortality staring him in the face, and sick to death of my telling him to take this pill or that, eat this, don't eat that, do this or do that! He too is telling me to leave him alone and let him make his own decisions. Yikes, what kind of monster have I become when I thought I was being terrific? 

No wonder I'm waking up feeling depressed: suddenly I'm realizing all the things that have given me a reason to live, to stay strong, to feel good about myself since getting away from my father are upsetting those I love most. I'm facing the fact that I need to back off, butt out ... give up that control that has kept me upbeat and positive for so long ... and maybe kept me from facing the demons I buried a long time back.

Patricia concludes her blog post with a few sentences that really hit home to me and prompted everything I've shared with you above. She wrote:

"You have to have awareness of behaviors before you can change them."

"I have learned that control hides fear - lots of fear."

She is so right. Deep within this 66-year-old woman who shows the world such a happy face, who is full of positive advice and encouragement for everyone, lives a very frightened child who lost control and has spent the rest of her life trying to regain it or keep it, sometimes at the risk of alienating those I love most: my husband and children. This is difficult. Will they understand what I'm trying to tell them now? Will they even read this? Probably not. Should I tell them about this post? Well if I do, aren't I really controlling them again, telling them to do something I want and need them to do but they may not want to do. Vicious cycle. How do I stop it? How do I stop controlling others when I obviously can't control myself?

I want to publicly thank Patricia for forcing me to think about myself in this light. I don't like what I found out but it was necessary. Maybe I can begin now to stop butting in, telling others what to do, live and let live, give advice when it's sought and remember that advice, unasked for, is not appreciated. Neither is control. To think it's taken this long to wake up! Ugh! And where do I go from here?

Let me finish this by again quoting Patricia: 

When you face your fear, you can give up the need to control. Letting go of fear makes room for you to start to heal.