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.


  1. Although my childhood was a little different, the incest was still there, in a manner of speaking, I have had control issues in my own life...and that's the fear of not having control of my own life. I too did everything for everyone else for most of my life...from age 16 to the present...that in the process, I lost a very important part of me.

    When I had my breakdown, I fought so hard not to cry, because I was afraid that once I let go of that control, I'd never, ever stop crying. But once I did let go, and the tears came and came, eventually I was cried-out.

    I spent 7 years in therapy, and there are times now that I am contemplating going back, I have learned more on my own about myself than I did during those 7 years.

    1. Thanks Debra for sharing part of your story with me. It really helps to know I'm not the only one who unwittingly, turned into a bit of control freak. I'm now most curious to know how many out there are like us as a result of the incest and abuse. And yes, it's darn hard to stop that need to control when you've tried all your life to somehow regain the control someone took away from you.

      Unlike you, I've never had therapy. I've also never really broken down and cried my heart out about it all. I've often wondered if I'll suddenly do that one day. This morning, I couldn't keep tears from welling up but I still didn't feel they had much to do with my past ... more with my present and the person I am now seeing has emerged from it all. I thought I liked her. Now, I"m not so sure anymore

  2. Oh Viga...(as she grabs a tissue).

    Keep moving through to get out to the other side of all of the history, trapped feelings and memories.
    I feel in my heart what is happening with You.
    This avalanche of buried stuff coming to the surface will dissipate.

    You are making tremendous progress.
    I am so inspired by your courage and out right determination to break the cycle and heal.

    We can never undo the past.
    We simply need to process and recover from all of that. You heal every single time You tell.

    One day, it will not hurt.
    One day, your story will not seer Your heart and mine.
    One day, soon...You will have totally returned back to Who You Are.

    That I am sure.

    1. Thanks Tracee. I know you are always there for me and it's good that we live in the same place and getting together is easy. Yet, either I'm in denial or blind or something: somehow I just don't see my see-saw of emotions as being related to my past other than I fear I'm running out of time to do all I want with my life since I lost so much of it when I was younger. That is where I feel I'm losing control yet again and it's uncomfortable for me. It's also something I can't do a thing about. Time to keep reciting the Serenity Prayer to myself LOL

  3. Viga, I thought the same way as you, but we can move on, we just have to tell ourselves the past is gone, they can't hurt us anymore, and lately, I have had to tell myself this over and over, especially since Friday was my dad's birthday, and all that week I struggled so hard, but I did make it. We need to keep affirming ourselves and telling ourselves that it's ok that we fall back, but we will move forward because we don't want to be stuck in the is something I wrote, that I keep reading over and over when I get these feelings, hope it can help you or someone else..big hugs my friend ♥


    Our abusers had to have control to keep us from telling. As a small child we believed whatever they told us. We were just children living in an adult world of deceit, lies, and the feeling of always being afraid. If you are an incest survivor as I am, I found the love I was seeking from my father, because I never received it from my mother

    How does a child tell? We are small, we had no control over what was done to us. We as the adult now must realize that we were NEVER to blame, no matter what.

    This is where the affirmations come in. We need to affirm to tell ourselves it's ok, "I was not to blame, I was that small child who had no voice."

    We must love that small child "Our Inner Child" because she/he is waiting for us, waiting to be affirmed, tell her that you love her, that she is safe. She/he may not hear you at first, but if you keep talking to her/him, little by little they will start to trust you. Remember the "inner child" in us has been locked up inside for years, mine has been for almost 55 years because for one thing I didn't even know that she existed in me until I started to do some Inner child work with my therapist. At first I thought it was silly and crazy to talk to yourself, but that is how we reach her/him, by becoming that child again, getting on the floor, playing with toys, colouring, going for a swing, everything a child wanted to do but couldn't because she/he was too afraid.

    The abuser held us captive, a "trophy" for his shelf so to speak. Our little selves were so scared, that all we could do is cope,, anyway that helped us to try and gain control , but often times it failed, we often chose the wrong pathway, we held it all inside of us. wish I was dead, hated being adopted into this family, these were all I knew only negative not kind thoughts.

    But, we need to tell ourselves that we are good, we need to love ourselves and to say "I love me, I am good, God loves me, so I must be a good person, because God doesn't make junk." Telling ourselves over and over that we are worth all there is to live for. That we want to live and leave our past behind us especially if we want to heal inside.

    As we are healing, the negativity we feel will often come out and we may feel that we are making no progress, and then we just want to give up, we say "what's the use, I don't care any more," but we need to care, care for our little selves who are too afraid to speak out. Affirmations are a very positive way of getting the feeling of loving ourselves. Don't be afraid to say all the positive things that you never heard as a child

    I was stuck in time for so many years, that I found it too hard to change. I lived my childhood doing as I was told, always pleasing, but inside I was hurting, but no-one could see it, only me. As an adult, I kept that buried, not revealing my secret to my husband until about 15 years ago, what a relief I felt inside like the world was lifted from my shoulders.

    I can control my life now, although sometimes I fall back two steps and must re-affirm that it's ok, it will get better.

    Your life is your destiny. Take control of it, take that control away from the abuser,, show them that we are in control and we love ourselves above everything else....I hope that this helps you in your journey to heal and affirm who you are...God Bless!!!!

    1. Thanks Mary. Wise words that i have repeated to myself over and over through the years. That's what has kept me on top, not even caving in when I felt the past creeping up on me. As I've mentioned a couple of times above, I'm truly not having issues with coming out from under. The past doesn't scare me. I got over it way back. I'm wondering if that's partly because my abuse didn't start when I was an infant or even a young child. I was 11, going 12. While it doesn't make what happened easier to take or accept, being older may have helped me cope better now than someone who was very young when it happened, who had most likely buried the memories and didn't know they were there until a therapist or someone unlocked them. That didn't happen for me. The reality of my abuse was with me every morning when my father raped me before I left for school. It was still going on when I met my husband. I was more than aware of the ugliness of my life but I had also long before given up any thought that I'd get out of it one day. I was, thus, completely in my father's control. And even after I got married and had children, my entire family had to suffer with him, even though none of them knew why. They know now but it took till I was 60 to tell them. Now, all I'm trying to deal with is myself i.e how to like who I am today.

  5. Viga, you could have been describing me before I first looked at my control issues. I hear so many similiarities here. I had my husband read your article and he agrees with me. I was not a happy person at that point in my life. I wanted to be but I wasn't. I was too full of fear of everything and everybody.

    I am honored that my blog post inspired you to look deeply into your own controlling issues. That is one of the biggest compliments that anyone has ever given me. Thank you.

    I apologize for taking so long to leave a comment. My week has been very busy with getting ready for a visit from my daughter and I thought my husband and I were going on a weekend trip before her visit. As of today, I am not sure that we are going away for the weekend because of several jobs that have come up for my husband.

    Thanks to reading your post earlier in the week I realized how far I have come in letting go of so much of my controlling behavior. When I was controlling, I was so afraid of change of any kind. It didn't matter that the change might be good, I was terrified. I did not react to all of the schedule changes this week in a controlling, fearful manner. I have just gone with the flow and not even been upset that we might not get to go to Maryland which was our original plan or to Mississippi because it was closer and less expensive for our trip. We will probably stay home and I am not fearful or furious as I would have been 10 - 15 years ago. I love my life so much better today. I don't have to create the chaos that I once would have because our plans changed. That is real growth for me.

  6. Oh Patricia ... no need to apologize for delay in responding. We all live busy lives, and I think abuse survivors are often the busiest for many reasons: being busy keeps us from dwelling on negatives, makes us feel wanted and needed ... all those things we didn't do or feel when we were being abused. I'm sure you'd agree.

    You are most welcome to be featured in my blog. If it wasn't for you, I might not have realized something so important about myself. It's me that should be thanking you. I find every time I read someone else's blog or their books, so much comes to mind that might otherwise remain forgotten. I'm sure some avoid reading as they fear the memories it provokes. I welcome them as they are all part of healing. So thank you for triggering me.

    Enjoy your time away. I am hoping to get away to a beach come winter so I can stroll the sands and get that book of mine finished. So hard to do when you're home and interruptions and duties constantly take priority over what I really want to do. Such is life, but yes, I too am enjoying it as much as possible these days and am glad that I "came out from under". If I hadn't, I'd still be one unhappy victim I'm sure.