When an abuser dies

dead flower

**This post may be a trigger for those who suffered physical abuse or molestation.

On January 4th I got a text telling me he was dead.  My first thought was “good”.  Then I got hit with a wave of guilt.  How could I feel good that a person died?  I felt like a bad person.  We aren’t supposed to talk ill of the dead, but when the dead did some horrible things I think it’s time to talk about it.

It’s not like I didn’t tell before now.  The first person I told said I was lying and stopped speaking to me.  To this day she will barely acknowledge me.  We were very close, it still hurts.  I told my mother years later, she believed me, but I asked her not to do anything about it because it would have ruined her relationship with her sister.  You see, my abuser wasn’t alone, his wife was with him.  His wife is my cousin.  My sister listened when I told her, said she was sorry, but she is still very close to my cousin.  It hurts me terribly.

I felt very guilty about this the abuse.  I was a teenager, I felt like I should have been able to stop it.  To not feel like I just wanted them to love me.  I was a very confused teen.  I was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It was easy to confuse me.  I was a teenager.  These people were grown-ups, they broke the law when they molested me, even if it seemed to be consensual.  There is a reason we have those laws.

After the initial abuse he would grab and fondle me when people weren’t around.  I tried to stop this.  It was very hard.  I was so confused.  This was someone who was supposed to protect me, yet this is how I was seen; as a sexual object.  I lived with my cousin and her husband.  It was not a good thing.  I was never comfortable.  They threw me out of the house because I cut school.  I was a straight A student, I cut school, it didn’t affect my grades, but that wasn’t enough for them.  I was told to get out.  I don’t feel the punishment fit the crime.  I had less than 2 months until I graduated from High School, and I had no where to go.  (It’s a long story as to why I was living with them.)  I turned to a friend and lived with her family until I graduated.  This house was so much different.  I felt safe.

It is hard to tell this story without going into too much detail.  I don’t think that is necessary.  I want to tell you all that if you were abused it is not your fault.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  If you have been grabbed or fondled, you have been abused.  If you have had sex without your consent, you have been abused. If you were too young to consent, you have been abused. They call it harassment or rape when you get older.  It’s all wrong.  No matter what you do, what you wear, how you act…it’s wrong to treat you as a sexual object.  It’s wrong.  You should never feel like you did anything wrong.  I carried that guilt and shame for a long time.

Now, I feel a tiny bit of release.  He’s dead.  And I feel good about it.  Does that make me a bad person?  No, it makes me human.

Does the pain and confusion go away when an abuser dies.  No.  Maybe that’s because nothing is really settled.  For me, I still have people who don’t believe me.  I don’t feel like either of them paid for what they did to me.  They kept the same people close to them.  He continued to have sexual relations with many women.  (I don’t know that he abused anyone else who was under age.)  She is still part of a close knit family.  I’m the odd man out.  Everyone ignores the girl who told.

How to cope with the feeling that arise when an abuser dies.  (from Athena Moberg and Bobbi Parish of The #NoMoreShame Project)

  • Remember that nothing you feel is wrong. Emotions are never right or wrong. Nor does feeling them make you good or bad.
  • Don’t try to suppress or fight any emotions that may arise. Resisting our feelings often forces them to return even stronger and more demanding of our attention.
  • Don’t be surprised by any emotion that comes up, even if it surprises you that you feel that way. Sometimes our emotions are letting us know we have unacknowledged issues to process. Keep in mind that emotions we experience following our abuser’s death can often be conflicting.
  • Don’t focus on sorting out which one is right or wrong. Just acknowledge them, feel them and use them to process whatever information you need to.
  • Attend your abuser’s funeral only if you feel it would be beneficial to you. Family members may try to pressure you to attend the funeral, if only to keep up appearances that “everything is fine”. If you do choose to attend any services it might help to take a safe, supportive person with you.
  • Be prepared to grieve the loss of things you always wanted from your abuser. Perhaps you wanted an apology. Or you wanted to confront them and have them accept responsibility for what they did. Maybe you wanted them to finally become the parent/ sibling/etc. that you needed. Giving up those hopes is a loss that you may need to grieve.
  • Seek help if the emotions brought up by your abuser’s death feel overwhelming or insurmountable on your own. A support group, therapist, grief counselor or Trauma Recovery Coach. Even if you felt that you had already “finished your work” the death of your abuser is such a significant event that it might necessitate some additional help. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost ground in your recovery. It just means that some new ground has been uncovered.

To read other stories about how people deal with the death of an abuser see the links below:

Mindfulness Monday – abandon

purple flower

“Sometimes people hunger for more than bread.
It is possible that
our children, or husband, our wife,
do not hunger for bread,
do not need clothes,
do not lack a house.
But are we equally sure that
none of them feels alone,
abandoned,
neglected,
needing some affection?
That too is poverty.”

~ Mother Teresa

“Even if others abandon you
You must never abandon yourself.”

~T. Helwig

 

Feeling Stuck

I’ve been trying to write for a long time, but the words just haven’t come.  There are a couple of topics I want to write about, but they are sensitive, and they may offend some people who read my blog.  It’s a true dilemma.  I want to be true to myself and my readers, but I don’t want to hurt anyone.  So I feel stuck.

My brain is also just not working like it used to, I’m thinking that having a moderate to severe headache for almost 2 years has something to do with that.  They’ve just been getting worse.  I had another visit to the migraine doctor and she changed up the Diamox; she had to, it was driving me crazy with all the side effects and I wasn’t going to take it anymore.  She put me on Methazolamide.  It’s in the same family as Diamox but it is supposed to be more easily tolerated.  So far I am tolerating it, but it is doing nothing for my headaches.  I feel like she doesn’t take me seriously since most of my migraines are moderate in intensity.  A moderate headache  (between a 4 and 6 on the 0 – 10 scale) every day can be pretty debilitating.  At least I do have a few hours here and there where my headache is mild, but it’s still there, all the time.  My brain is mush.

I started to order supplements that are supposed to help with migraines, but I’m seeing the functional medicine doctor next week, I’m sure they will suggest supplements.  So, it will wait until the 18th.  I’m excited about going to the Functional Medicine doctor.  I’ll write all about it after my visit.  I was supposed to go a while back but we thought we might be moving and didn’t want to get started with another doctor.  But it looks like we’ll be here for a while, so let’s get started.

I was reading on the American Migraine Foundation site and the University of Maryland site about supplements that help with migraines. (be sure to check out those sites for information on supplements for migraines)  I’ve already tried looking for triggers in foods and everything else I can think of.  The only things that really trigger a headache for me is the weather, and strong smells.  Sometimes bright lights can do it.  So I’m searching for alternative treatments.  I’ve tried acupuncture and chiropractic, they didn’t work for me.  I know that magnesium can help with migraines but I found it caused diarrhea.  My migraine doctor suggested a different type of magnesium that is easier to absorb, (magnesium glycinate or gluconate).  Who knew there were so many different types of magnesium, I counted 7 yesterday when I was researching it.  How is one supposed to know what you need?

I decided to wait on starting the new magnesium until I found out if this medicine she gave me worked.  (I already take magnesium, but it’s the kind that upsets your tummy so I don’t think I’m taking a therapeutic dose.)  She still says to give this new medication a month at the highest dose.  I hate to say it, but I’m ready to look for something else.  I just don’t think the medications is going to help, so far my headaches have been more severe.  I’ve been on the medication for about a month now, I’ve been on the highest dose for a week now.  It’s a very hard medicine for me to keep up with .  I have to take it 3 times a day.  It’s the only med that I need to take in the middle of the day and I can’t remember it.  (I haven’t missed a dose, I just don’t feel that I’ve timed it out well) I installed a timer on my phone, hopefully that will help, as long as my phone is close enough to hear.  Great thing about this medication, it has greatly reduced my appetite.  I’m losing weight again, finally, after so much trying.  I’m very excited about this.  Now if I can keep it off when I go off the medication.

The thought of adding more supplements or medications to my regime is overwhelming.  I take so many pills, surely I don’t need all of them.  But I’m not one to just go off of medications.  I will go over all of them with the Functional Medicine doctor and we will see what he has to say.

“Functional Medicine is the deepest and most powerful approach to prevention and reversal of disease that I have encountered. It systematically discovers and addresses the root causes of disease and uses sophisticated treatments that lead to dramatically improved outcomes”  ~ Robert Sheeler MD, Editor Emeritus, Mayo Clinic Heath Letter

If you are curious about where I’m going, then please check it out.  Optimal Health Medicine Center

Since I’m giving an update on me I may as well tell you about my vertigo.  I’ve been having a lot of short spurts of vertigo.  It may be migraine related instead of Meniere’s, but it is really hard to tell at this stage.  I’ve fallen twice in the past 2 weeks.  Luckily I remember to just crumple myself on the floor instead of falling hard.  Both times I went down on my artificial hip.  Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself at all.  Think I need to use my walker at home more often.

So, I’ve been rambling.  At least I’m writing, right?  Today I just had to get out what has been going on recently.  Perhaps soon I’ll write about the other things on my mind.  I really want to keep my blog open and honest and not writing about these things that are going on in my life, feels dishonest.  Perhaps I’ll write about easier things first.  maybe.

Thank you all for following me.  I’m glad you like Mindfulness Monday.  I’m going to try to get out more posts, I promise.

What would you do?  If you thought a topic might cause some upheaval, would you still write about it?  It isn’t anything that everyone in my family doesn’t know about, they just don’t believe it all.  Then the other topic is about medical marijuana….since it isn’t legal in my state, I’m not sure I should write about it.

 

Mindfulness Monday – Change

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

~ Albert Einstein

“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.”

~ Leo Tolstoy

 

*all photos on Picnic with Ants taken by Wendy Holcombe unless otherwise noted.

Mindfulness Monday – Pets

kiki trio

“Some of the best teachers of mindfulness and
‘being in the moment’ are animals.”

~Richard J. Brewer

 

 

“with some dogs you just look at them –
just a little look is enough –
and their tail goes
Life is Good!
Life is Good!

And they are not telling themselves the story of why life is good.
It’s a direct realization.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

 

* photo taken by W. Holcombe.  Kiki playing.

 

Going to the Movies with Hearing loss

I must say, I really missed going to the movies.  It had been years since I graced the dark room, sat in the good seats, and enjoyed a movie in the theater.  For too long have I waited until a good movie came to video.  I often just missed them all together.

I know now that all theaters are required to have closed captioning for all digital movies*.   I admit it was intimidating for me.  I asked at one theater a long time ago and they had no idea what I was talking about, even though they had a sign in their window that showed they have have equipment for the hard of hearing.

Stuart and I decided to take a chance and go to the theater close to us.  It said on line that they have the equipment and they have it available for almost every movie.  We decided to go to a movie that had been out for a while, during a matinee.  It was the right choice, we were the only ones in the theater, a great way for me to find out just how to use the closed captioning device.

captions

This is like the caption box I used.  image source 

The device looks like a box connected to a flexible arm with this round object on the other end.  The round object fits perfectly in your cup holder, you use the flexible arm to position the box where you want it.  I put it so that the captions would be at the bottom of the screen, like it is at home.  It took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted the box.  I was grateful that some of the trailers were captioned so I could get it right before the movie started.  We sat in seats in the center, kind of up front.  Not the seats closest to the screen, the first row after you go up the stairs.  I found this to be too close to put the captions in the right place.  We needed to move back a couple of rows, it worked perfectly there.

captions for theater

this is what the captions look like.   Image source

We saw the Batman Lego movie, and it was a hoot.  It was great to see all that action and the cute little quips that they made about Batman through the ages.

lego batman

image from Wikipedia

I will be seeing more movies in the future.  If you need closed captioning to see a movie, I suggest you give it a try.  The first time you use it I suggest going to a movie that has been out a while so the theater won’t be full.  Then you can move around to find the perfect seat for you to see everything and see the caption box too.

I admit it was a little different because the captions are close to you and the movie is far away.  It took a minute or two for me to get used to this.

Some theaters offer glasses you can use and they transmit the text right before your eyes.  I don’t think these would work with me since I already wear glasses.  I heard that the glasses can get heavy.  Here’s a link to read all about the glasses.

captions sony glasses

this is an example what some of the glasses look like.

Other movie theaters have a hearing loop.  “A hearing loop is a wire that circles a room and is connected to a sound system. The loop transmits the sound electromagnetically. The electromagnetic signal is then picked up by the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant.”  Hearing Loss Association of America

My cochlear implants do have telecoil (T-coil), but I haven’t seen a theater around here that offers this option.  I hope to try this option in the future.

Let’s all go to the movies!

*according to a ruling on November 21, 2016, theaters are required to accommodate persons with disabilities, including closed captioning for all Digital movies.  You can read more about this on the ADA site. 

 

Panxiety

Today I’d like to introduce Lorraine of My Frilly Freudian Slip.  Lorraine is a good friend of mine and the author of beautiful poetry and prose.  You will find her writings at myfrillyfreudianslip.wordpress.com.

Lorraine is fighting Bipolar I and severe anxiety.  They can’t find medications that work for her.  Following you will read a first hand account of what it is like to live with “Panxiety”.

IMG_20160912_145828115 - Copy

photo by Lorraine of My Frilly Freudian Slip

“Pounding heart. Constricted throat. Knotted stomach. Dread washes over me. A panxiety attack.

Coming, unbidden, from some where inside my mind; spilling into my consciousness and flooding my body with anxiousness.

Breathe in through nose to count of ten, fill lungs, feel belly lift. Hold. Breath out slowly to ten.

Drift – visualize place of calm. Walking on beach, tide tickling toes. Finding beach treasures: sea glass, sand dollar. Smell sea tang. Feel breeze against skin.

But the panxiety is stronger – can’t focus; can’t concentrate. Pace. Half finished tasks lay scattered around the house – stopped in mid-flow. Forgotten. Pace.

Distract. Words on page, coloured pencil on paper. But, hands and mind shake.”

Daily, I deal with panxiety – a panicky anxiety attack – lasting minutes or hours. Sometimes the dread follows, flows all day. Few solutions to the foreboding; apprehension. Becomes so hard to concentrate that writing, my usual distraction from mental and physical pain, is almost impossible. I lose words; sentences fly off into the ether.

There are times I can force myself to lay still. To tell myself one of my “head stories.” Perhaps to drift off to sleep for awhile. This doesn’t mean I stay under long, nor that I wake calm. But when I can “nap,” my emotional and physical self gets a break from the relentless panxiety.

I have to confess turning to medication more than meditation when the attacks are furious and frequent. Always haunted by anxiety, these spells have increased in number and severity. Linked to a series of traumas, mental collapse and going untreated for several years afterwards.

I am on the bipolar 2 spectrum with chronic depression, rapid cycling, and bouts of hypo-mania manifesting in over indulgence and obsession. My bipolar isn’t responding well to medication; I am mostly teetering on the edge of instability, often falling all the way in.

Depression is my background music. Even when the volume is turned up, I can become agitated and anxious. As my depression can not be treated with anti-depressants (they don’t work), it is hard to level my mood. These swings are often accompanied by panxiety.

My anxiety has never been fully addressed. The medication I am given is not in a sufficient dose to stop the attack completely. And, I take nothing that addresses it on a daily, 24 hours basis. I seek to gain control of these attacks by other means than Ativan or Klonopin. However, often panxiety, like depression, wins. Doesn’t mean I stop fighting – I just have to do battle harder and stronger the next time.

Seeing a therapist has given me an outlet; a safe space to talk about how I feel. A person who helps me explore my mental health issues including honouring and acknowledging the traumas underlying the escalation in my panxiety attacks. Therapy can be the life-line that grounds me while I do battle. A reprieve to polish my armour.

Lorraine  myfrillyfreudianslip.wordpress.com