Saturday, May 4, 2013


It's been a long time since my last post. Illness has plagued me for the last few months. Even writing my book has been difficult. But at last, I am on the final chapters, and as I wrote the following this morning, I recalled how difficult it was those first few weeks after finally extricating myself from my father's control and sexual abuse. When you're contemplating breaking away, you find a million reasons to go and double that to stay put. Your need for freedom, to be yourself, to have a normal life (if normal is ever possible again) propels you to do something. But your fear of the abuser, of being alone, of where to go and what to do next, holds you back time and again. 

All decisions come with similar quandaries, but some are much easier to make than walking from the only life you've known into an unknown, unsure future. You forever wonder if you are doing the right thing. When you have been made to feel blame, guilt for all the bad things in your life, it's hard to think that what you are doing isn't just another bad thing. Depending on the abuser's reaction to your decision, he/she can make you feel guilty and horrible all over again, reminding you of how selfish you are by breaking away and thinking only of yourself, when that is what he/she has been doing all along!

It may take years, not days or even months, to know if the decision to get out of your old life was the right one, but then again, ask yourself, what is right about staying in a life where you are the constant victim of sexual, mental and physical abuse? 

So, on that note, I now share with you my latest, unedited section of my as yet, un-named book, a true story of incest. Your feedback is most welcomed. Thanks for taking the time to read the following which describes my immediate reactions to making the decision to walk away from incest:

"The next 4  - 6 weeks were traumatic. For the first time in my life I was on my own, though not alone. It all felt so strange. I felt empowered but insecure, experienced but naive, liberated but lost.

This was 1971 and living together, even if engaged, wasn't what nice girls did. John had been raised in a very Catholic family: he still attended Sunday Mass and for me to move in with him, though tempting, was somehow sinful. And besides, the two of us could never fit in the tiny single bed in his basement apartment!

So I rented a pokey room in a rooming house with a single set of rickety drawers and the lumpiest bed ever. The other tenants, by my father's standards, were the low-life's of this world: waitresses, factory floor-sweepers, divorcees ... folks who lived from paycheck to paycheck when they could get a job or keep one long enough to buy the next bottle of plonk or pack of cigarettes. It was eye-opening for me to mix with people like this, so different from my family's circle of friends or even my fellow staff-mates. 

It was simultaneously scary and exciting for me to live temporarily with this group, scary because I kept envisioning one of the drunken men coming into my room to try and have their way with me, but exciting because of finally having the freedom to come and go as I pleased. That was such a new experience and with every day, I liked it more and more: no longer having to ask a man for  permission to go here or go there, to do this or do that! I could wear what clothes I wanted, experiment with makeup and leave it on, choose what to do with my time when I wasn't teaching or with John planning the wedding ... the freedom was exhilarating! The teenager I was never allowed to be resurfaced. I was almost as giddy as the Grade 9 and 10's I was teaching, even feeling like one of them at times, understanding instead of disapproving their silliness and youthful exuberance. For the first time since that day my father decided to educate me about men, I felt almost normal.

And yet, as I tossed about on that lumpy mattress at night, I battled guilt: I felt guilty about the chaos I had caused my parents; I felt guilty about leaving mom alone to clean up the debris of the storm I had rained down on their lives; and I felt guilty about the misgivings I was having about marrying a man I truly barely knew! 

John and I had had anything but a normal courtship. We'd never really dated. Our times together had been stolen moments in his car or the school janitor's closet, a quick grabbed lunch at a local hot food place, a movie with mom tagging along, a short but lovely trip to Niagara Falls on icy roads that nearly landed us in a ditch, or furtive cuddles on an old mattress in our basement while mom kept nervous watch at the window upstairs. What did I know about this man I was about to marry? I'd never met his family. He talked non-stop about returning to his beloved Australia, a thought that terrified me. His greatest passions were cars,  aircraft and photography, all of which meant little to me, and he had no interest in live theatre, musicals, writing poetry or the pursuits I enjoyed. How could we possibly build a life together when we didn't really have that much in common?

I truly began to question what I had done. Would I end up wrecking John's life too? And what of myself? I'd spent 23 years dominated by a control freak of a father. Now, I finally had a taste of what it was like to be on my own, answering to no-one but myself. Was I now so quickly about to give away that expensively acquired freedom to walk up the wedding aisle and once again have to answer to a male for the rest of my life? I tossed and turned on that lumpy mattress suddenly wishing I could just disappear to explore my freedom more fully, more deeply and most importantly, to find that teenager who was buried beneath the dirt in those nightmares that had plagued me through so many  years of abuse.

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