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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Currently, I'm reading two books, My Justice by Patricia A. McKnight and Mummy Knew, by Lisa James. Just as Tricia warned me, her book is hard to read. So is Lisa's. It is impossible to read books on incest abuse by a parent when one has themselves been sexually abused by a parent. With each word these brave women write, revealing intimate details of their own abuse, memories spring to mind. Visions pushed so far back and so far under over the years that you wonder if maybe you had just imagined them all, spring to life and affirm that yes, daddy really did abuse his little girl. The similarities between their stories and your own are jarring. You find yourself saying "Yes, that's how he got to me too!" "That's how he got me to keep quiet!" "That's how dirty I felt!" "That's how frightened I was!" 

And yet, both Patricia's and Lisa's story have one big difference from mine: in both their cases, the writer's mother had married low-life, foul-mouthed abusers whose brutality and abuse was exacerbated by their drinking. These creeps were their step-fathers, not a birth father, as was my case. I suppose it's easier to understand (if any incest can be understood) why a non-birth father who is essentially a pedophile to start with, could be drawn to a child, who is, after all, not his own, especially when she conveniently lives in the same house and must obey him as her new parent. What a huge advantage he has over her! It's interesting that both Patricia and Lisa felt some kind of instant revulsion and mistrust of these men when they were introduced into their lives by their mothers. They say puppies and dogs can sense evil in a human. These children did too but they were powerless to do anything about it.

My case, however, is different. With my mother, my father created me. His DNA runs through my blood. His advantage over me was huge but never would I have thought my birth father, someone I trusted with my life, whose job it was from word go to protect me from any harm, would take that kind of advantage of me. I didn't sense evil in him despite the harsh punishments he meted out for infractions when I was a child. I just figured they were deserved. So great is the belief and trust we have in our birth parents.

I watched a woman pushing her 3-4 month old in a pram today. The little one's eyes were glued, as best she could focus, on her mother's face. She gurgled and smiled as her mother talked to her. The baby's face glowed with delight and love. No doubt, or let's hope so, she has that same glowing love in her little eyes when she sees her daddy. And all being well, as time goes on, the other thing in her eyes will be trust, complete trust, trust he will never misuse.

I was looking at some photos of myself as a 6-month old baby a week back. There I sit happily on daddy's knee. Mommy is by his side. He looks proud and protective as he holds me. Where did that daddy go? Now as I sift through photos taken during my adolescence and even into my 20's, I see a different man there, a man who was my father by birth only. Though I long ago came to grips with what happened in my life and have been happily blessed with a fine husband and 2 beautiful daughters since,  I still cannot understand how the person who gave you life can destroy his own child's trust for his own selfish needs. To me, this is beyond comprehension and always will be.

Why ever did you make me, your child, the object of your lust?
How could you take your own child's heart and fill it with mistrust?
With every thrust inside my body, you double thrust my soul
Stripping me of my self-esteem and leaving me less than whole

I was your own flesh and blood;  you were half my life
How is it that you blurred the lines and turned me into your wife?
Wasn't mother good enough? Couldn't you find another?
No, instead you had to choose your child and destroy both me and mother.

And when I finally got away like a lamb who had been slaughtered
You piled the guilt upon my shame and said I was no daughter 
Well what on earth did you expect when you stopped being dad?
When you died, my only tears were for the father I never had.

© Viga Boland 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012


I'm bracing myself for tomorrow. Tomorrow, my free time comes to a halt as the children return to school and I resume daily, and every 2 weeks, nightly care of my grand-daughter. From tomorrow on, it's get her to school at 8:30am, pick her up at 2:45 pm, give her that afternoon snack, stay on her  to get her to do her homework before taking her back to her mom's at 6pm. And there goes the day.

For me, that means all the additional projects I took on over the summer i.e. writing my book, "Coming Out from Under", this blog (and several others!), my Facebook group at OUT FROM UNDER, and my online jewelry business/hobby are going to be limited to a 51/2 hour block of time daily ... and that's between trying to get in a workout swim 3 times a week, a daily workout walk, preparing meals ... not to mention time for simply resting. What is it with me? Why do I take on so much?

I've always been like this. I truly don't know how not to keep busy. It's almost like I'm afraid to have time on my hands. Why? I've come to realize that it's coupled with my need to feel wanted, my never-ending need for approval.  So many years of trying to please a man who wanted so much more than he had the right to ask, so many years of hoping what I was doing was enough has left me permanently trying to please everybody everywhere. It's a hard road to walk. It's tiring, draining. But ironically, it's also fulfilling when you know someone is benefitting from the help you are giving.

One of my fellow-survivors complained of the same thing this morning on Facebook. She is burning herself out, taking on way too much. I can sense she's angry with herself for doing it, but like me, she has that deep-seated need for acceptance and approval. And when that acceptance or approval comes, oh how good we feel. How we glow! Someone loves us. Someone thinks we're great. Daddy approves. Daddy isn't angry with us. Daddy might not hurt me this time because I was his good little girl ...

I've met others like me. They work round the clock, attend every function going on to show their support of other's endeavours even when they're exhausted, always putting others before themselves. This is what abuse has taught them to do. It's how they've survived. It's how they feel good about themselves.

And so we go on, addicted to being busy, addicted to taking on too much because we fear the times in between being busy, when we're not feeling useful or good for something or somebody. Like I said, it's a tough road to walk and it's exhausting. But somehow, it also fills a huge hole inside us.

I really envy another lady who recently mentioned to me how she copes with being abused. Unlike me trying to please everyone, she doesn't give a damn. She won't let anyone walk over her, tell her what to do or where to go. She's feisty. She also never stops being busy, taking on too much.

What about you, dear reader? Is there a pattern here? Are you like this too ... always putting your fingers in too many pies just to feel appreciated, wanted, loved? Or have you even ever analyzed, as I am doing here, why you are this way? I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this.

It's labour day. Today we are supposed to rest from our labours. Are you resting or are you, like me, trying to get everything done before tomorrow ... and the next tomorrow... and the next tomorrow...