The good news is, I’m pretty much who I say I am.

The Real Me ~ Ecrits Blogophilia Wk 18.12DORIS EMMETT·SUNDAY, JULY 14,

2019 reprinted (with permission) because it’s so awesome!!

Something happens to my brain when I hear the line “tell me about the real you”. That (not so little at times) voice inside me whispers …”yes yes go ahead and tell them”–but then the louder voice (OMG so many voices inside my head) shouts “NO! Don’t you dare!” So the question remains…which voice do I listen to?When I was younger, the idea that someone really wanted to take the time to hear about the “real me” always felt rather flattering. But seriously–it’s such a loaded statement and coming up with a good answer? Well–more than a bit of a challenge. For example–what happens if the “real you” is the body suit you have been wearing all along? Is this person who is asking–implying that I am an impostor in my own skin? Some sort of pretender trying to fool him (and others) with my fake facade? OR–has the assumption been made that–like most of us–I keep many parts of my real personality hidden from public view?What does “real” actually mean? I googled it (of course) and here the results:

  1. actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.
  2. (of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine.

As children we are “real” in that we have not yet discovered how to be anything else. We are genuine and spontaneous in our behaviors and reactions to stimuli outside ourselves. We laugh loud when we are amused or happy and we cry (even louder) when we are hurt or in pain. Although the reasons may be a bit cloudy–there is not doubt of what we are feeling…no need to guess at our emotional responses. No child when asked “does it hurt” will say “no” –if indeed it hurts. A joyful child (to me) is akin to the 8th wonder of the world–in that it is a wonder to behold. Where would You-Tube be without all those home videos of children clapping their hands and laughing uproariously (over seemingly) nothing? How infectious that joy can be–we keep replaying those videos over and over again and laughing along…it makes us FEEL so good–because it’s…you guessed it…REAL!

We grow older and we learn to disguise our (sometimes favorable or unfavorable) reactions behind poker faces that cannot be accurately read by those trying to figure us out. Why? Why do we do that? What’s the benefit? Well–somewhere between child and growing up we discovered that letting others know how we REALLY feel–isn’t always a good thing. We figured out that keeping a leash and collar on our emotions and responses–can help us to feel less vulnerable to others. In fact–telling people we feel the opposite of how we actually do–is sometimes a valuable tool called “reverse psychology”–and can get us things we want much faster–than if we told the truth.The danger of bottling up the “real”– inside a body suit of “fake”– is that a time may come when we (ourselves) may no longer know how we actually feel in a given situation. We can lose track of who we really are– when we don’t let our real feelings manifest. We can start to feel misunderstood by those around us (indeed by the world at large) and crawl inside a little black hole that seems to keep getting bigger–each time we swallow a truth and replace it with words that mask and hide what we truly are thinking and feeling.

The “real me” had been held captive for a while now in a suit of armor that is very restricting. True I have little “breathing holes” I call them–where real feelings slipped out occasionally– but for the most part–I kept myself bottled up. The funny part is that lots of people never noticed. I am by nature a caring person and I believe myself to be a kind person as well. But after too much heartbreak– I had learned to zip my mouth and allow my brain the time sift through countless options before I spoke. The “real me” sometimes suffered by my own censorship of what was dying to burst out of me–but kept being told (by a brain that had been put in charge)–”NO! Don’t say it that way–someone might misunderstand and you’ll find yourself in yet another pickle. You’ll just have to extricate your foot from your mouth again and do–way too much damage control and explaining–much better to just “tell them what they want to hear”.

And so I did. I used to tell people what they wanted to hear and they were happy (for that moment)–until they found out (much later on) that I had not expressed my true feelings at all. I had not lied to them–but had certainly been guilty of the “crime” (?) of omission. I omitted telling them what I felt would surely be unpleasant and upsetting to them. But that was then and this is now.

As I write this I am smiling…simply because I have found my own definition of “real”. “Real” feels good…it feels right…it doesn’t make you queasy or uneasy. “Real” is what you feel without “fine-tuning” it to something more “acceptable” or “appropriate”. “Real” is honest and speaks truth. Sometimes “real” isn’t popular in a discussion –especially if others are practicing and engaging in (all too common) “fake” repertoire. Other times “real” can also make or break a relationship–but I’ve learned that any relationship broken by truth and honesty–is not one I want to be in. “Real” is also trust. Trusting what your heart and mind are telling you is right and true.

In this world of ours –where false advertising prides itself on fooling the better part of a population and where people appear almost eager to be duped in ways that are truly unimaginable– I believe knowing when (and who) to trust is nothing less than a God given gift and blessing.I have learned to “trust” me. It took so many years of trusting everyone else–thinking they all knew stuff about me that I could not myself comprehend–before I finally looked in the mirror and smiled at what I saw. I didn’t cringe at the white hair (although that little voice whispered gently–you can put a blonde rinse in it anytime). I didn’t try to stretch the skin around my eyes (or mouth) to make the wrinkles less noticeable–I now accepted them as the laugh lines they truly are (they are–right??). I’ve learned to laugh a myself (and not at my own expense). I see my long nose–patrician nose they call it? Yeah it’s still large–my face never really grew big enough to make my nose look small–but it’s mine and I own it. Hey–a large nose was good enough for Barbra Streisand never to want to tamper with–so why should I regret my own? My eyes stare back at me–the color (sometimes) of a clear blue sky –and other times resembling a stormy ocean–are they placed too close together? Who cares? I can see myself and others clearly with them now–so my vision seems to be improving (not deteriorating).

“So people now you know my story”…don’t judge me harshly as I humbly suggest that life can be filled with so much artificial bullshit! Sometimes the only “real” you will find is when you close your eyes and see with your heart. If thinking is required–sometimes it is better to shut off the louder voices in your brain and listen to the softer sounds of your soul instead. You may only hear a whisper at time–but if it feels real–listen to it and follow what it is telling you. My best decisions have been a direct result of what I saw in my heart and felt in my soul –rather than what my overworked and over-thinking brain sometimes pumped out trying to convince me to accept as “real”.

Tomorrow I will be at Jones Beach on Long Island. It’s one of my favorite places to get in touch with the “real me”! There’s just something about the sound of the waves and the seagulls–the wide open sky and the endless expanse of the ocean that allows me to breathe easier. This setting helps me believe in a reality that is bigger than just me. A reality in which I am but a tiny grain of sand on an enormous beach–or a tiny drop of water in an infinite sea. But just like the sand and water–I too was created by skillful hands and I am very–very “real”. What you see is what you get…my motto to live by. Ask and I will tell you –so be prepared.

I’ve learned to face the unpopularity of truth in certain circles–but it will never keep me from speaking it. I AM that friend who will tell you the there’s a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth–that your zipper is at half mast (guys) or that you are being an “asshole” (if you are) and though you may hate me now–you might actually thank me later (lol). Reality…what a concept! I pray for everyone to just learn to accept themselves as the perfectly imperfect– but totally “real” people they can be. I think we need to stand up (and stand together) against forces trying to convince us that we are not “good enough” just as we are. Indeed, voices that preach of a need to embellish our God given assets to such a degree– that we no longer recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror. Maybe it’s time to accept that “real” face we see staring back at us (without judgement) and to love it–just the way it is?



I reprinted because I LOVE THIS! Doris is a member of Lyndas Raven Army and a FB friend, a fan of my work, and a trusted member of my creative circle for so many years. Follow the link above to enjoy more of her musings.

Nowhere to hide…

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$.99 cents on Amazon

When we write a memoir, there’s nowhere to hide.

 

Life imitates art: LOVE The Beat Goes On  for a limited time only, $.99 cents on Amazon 

“Powerful and unforgettable” JackMagnus, 5 Star Readers’ Favorite

“This is a book every human alive should read and take away the lessons given.”It’s that good.” J. Sikes

“I found this book so inspiring, and I think it can benefit a lot of other readers too. It’s an approachable, quick read with humor and lots of heart. You can probably read it in a day or two, but I hope you’ll remember its message forever.”  J. M. Keelor

“Lynda’s book is inspiring and a reminder that miracles do you happen, you just have to believe in them! A quote I really enjoyed from Lynda’s book was “Release. Breathe. Let it all go. Get rid of the weight, pain and hurts holding you back.” So true! Never stop believing. Thank you, Lynda, for sharing your story.” Ctina

 

Thank all of you for being a part of my journey!

Lynda Filler

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Free works, right?

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FREE ON AMAZON

LOVE The Beat Goes On

When you write a memoir, there’s nowhere to hide.

When your cardiologist tells you to “Get your affairs in order, your heart condition is incurable,” what do you do?

Lynda shares her personal story in the typical fast-paced, edgy, in-your-face style she’s known for in her writing. She will walk you through her journey to self-love sharing her belief in journals, love, prayer, soul, spirituality and positive mindset.

She’s hard-hitting but compassionate. She writes about romantic experiences that may shock you but makes no apologies for her unconventional lifestyle. Nor does she hold back taking responsibility for the things that she believes created her dis-ease.

Reviewers say:

“Powerful and unforgettable”
“Invaluable for anyone confronted by physical conditions or illness … her story is truly inspirational,
LOVE The Beat Goes On is most highly recommended.” 
JackMagnus, 5 Stars

“This is a book every human alive should read and take away the lessons given. If I could give it ten stars, I would. It’s that good.” J. Sikes  5 Stars

This book is going in the birthday bags, Christmas stockings and every get-well package that I send this year. Lynda Filler’s journey through cardiomyopathy is amazing, inspiring, and thought-provoking about more than just illness. Anyone facing a major obstacle, a fork in the road, or looking to reinvent their lives would benefit from a journey through Lynda’s heart and soul story.” EFinn 5 stars

“An introspective read” “Quick, relatable…giving us a glimpse into the journey of a remarkable woman.”
Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet 5 Stars

“It isn’t a medical professional book saying ‘do this, do that’ – it’s a living, breathing survivor stating, ‘look, this is what worked for me.’…learning to trust her own intuition to purification, letting go, and not being afraid to keep fighting; after all, as she herself reinforces, ‘You’re not dead yet.”
Reviewed by K. J. Simill  4 Stars 

“Her story is honest, straightforward, and powerful, and many readers will be able to connect well with her experiences and how her spirit came to believe that sometimes the impossible can be made possible with the way we think.”
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan 4 Stars 

“Lynda’s focus on the emotional side of the battle against any disease is a very vital one, for if you are not in the right state of mind, the doctors’ efforts to save you might all be in vain. Her emphasis on the need to always listen to your body and not ignore any warning signs made this a compelling read.”
Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi  4 Stars

LOVE The Beat Goes On

Love front with quotes

Past lives? Angels? You decide.

 

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I usually don’t do first-person on my blog but when people come into your life and guide you towards a profound shift, I think it might help others. So here goes.

I’ve been suffering from chronic sinus challenges for decades. I had a minor operation which seemed to help—years ago. But certainly, for the last several years, it’s been an ugly challenge in my life. These past twelve months have been insane. It seems every month, I finish a dose of antibiotics and five days later, I’m back at the doctors. I keep telling myself, if that’s all that’s wrong with me, go with it and stop complaining. But—it’s not normal! Yes, I’ve done the x-rays—nothing abnormal. Even last summer when I went to Europe, I took antibiotics with me, the same way you might take your vitamins.

This brings me to yesterday. Since the 29th of December, I’ve spent 21 days on antibiotics and still, yesterday I was sure I had the infection back. This week I started treating myself with natural remedies, ginger, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon, and hot water and that has definitely made me feel better. And I lost 8 lbs. on VIVRI and that’s been great. Still, something happened the night before, I wasn’t feeling great, and I was all blocked up, and I went back to the doctor for another dose of sinus meds.

Can I say I love my new doctor? She’s young, Mexican, beautiful and very smart. But more than that, she’s caring. She’s also the one who gave me my last dose of medication about three weeks ago. She checked me out and shook her head. No, there’s no infection and then she said: Tell me about your life.

I looked around. I had trouble looking her in the eye. And I started to cry. Not a big cry or a sobbing… just leaking. You know what I mean? I told her about my personal life–she started to ask about sex but I wasn’t going there at all! And here she is, a stranger who wants to take the time to help you when your physical problems might just be related to your emotional life…

You see, I have this friend who has been dying for years…and years…and yet holds on. It’s as if we both live in limbo. And I can’t go forward and we can’t go back and change the past. I can’t leave and I can’t let go. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I think I’m addicted to home renovation shows because the family’s happiness at the end allows me to cry. I don’t cry—ever. But lately, the tears come at awkward moments. Like yesterday, with a doctor, I hardly know.

I sat there in front of this wonderful caring young woman and I couldn’t speak. I knew. I just knew that whatever she was thinking at that moment, was correct. Sometimes the things we hold in emotionally have to find their way to the surface somehow. I can go back in my life right now and measure the worst bouts I’ve had with this physical problem and see that they are truly connected to issues of my emotional heart. When my marriage was dissolving in Whistler, when I split with C, and now…

I’m kind of surprised at myself that I never made the connection. After all, I wrote LOVE, The Beat Goes On about the emotional aspects of healing and how I worked on my emotional heart and healed it after I was given six months to live in 2008. I told her about that part of my story, and the Shaman in Sedona, and my fractured soul. And I sat there and shook my head. Unshed tears. Years and years of hope and despair and hope again. An old expression came into my mind as I write this blog: Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

She refused to take payment for my visit, instead, she asked for a hug. I left her office with a new understanding. Yes, people do come into your life for a reason. And I do believe in angels and past-lives.

I’ve taken the first step. I’m opening myself up to dealing with something I’ve buried for so long. I think I’m tired of caring for everyone else and it’s time to wrap myself up in my fleecy robe and learn to love myself all over again.

I think my mother is watching over me from wherever our spirits go when we die, and sent me an earthly angel to help me move on from sorrow and find my light again.

 

 

 

 

What things in life you should never take for granted?

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  1. Never take for granted your best friend and lover—even when he pisses you off!! Because he could end up living in a hospital on life support, like mine.
  2. Your beauty—learn very early that beauty comes from inside. If you think it’s external you will never be happy.
  3. LOVE—take it often, give it all the time, and never ever forget that you are enough. If you don’t learn to love yourself, you might as well quit right now.
  4. Family and friendships. They may not be here for your entire life, but while they are, tell them you love them. Never miss an opportunity to say, “I love you!”
  5. Your life. As we have all seen by recent events in the US and around the world, natural disasters and man-made horrific events can take our lives away in an instant. Truly live each moment as if it’s your last and never stop making a positive difference in the lives around you.

What is the one skill that, if you have it, will completely change your life? Q

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I’ll share with you something that took me the first 50 years of my life to learn: “I love and approve of myself exactly the way I am, and I’m willing to change.”

It’s been on my daily calendar since forever. It allows me to accept the things I cannot change about myself—hey, I’m getting older, it’s inevitable. And I know that I’m worthy of love no matter what life tries to tell me.

If you can work on acceptance of what you see as your ‘faults’ physical or mental, you will have a happier life. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t grow and gain knowledge and wisdom, it means that we no longer have to depend on someone outside our self for our own self-worth.

There is no lesson you will learn that is more important than looking in the mirror and saying “I love you. I am enough.”

Memoir: Put a knife in your heart and just bleed.

Memoirs are easy. You sit in front of your computer for what might be years, put a knife in your heart, and bleed.

This week I received two editorial 5 Star reviews and four 4 Stars. Reviews are important, yet not really in the grand scheme of life. Would I stop writing if a review was bad? Would I put away my current WIP Sex For Money, and never pick it up again if someone said my work was not worth reading?

No. I would keep on writing because a writer writes.

On the other hand, what do you do when your family is upset with what you’ve written?

It’s easy to hide behind your characters in fiction but memoir is like going to confession with the doors to the confessional wide open and a microphone blasting your words to the entire congregation.

Yes, you will have family members angry with you for saying things they feel are private. But you can’t tell the story of your life while your family and/or ex-husbands are reading over your shoulder expecting to be allowed to give their stamp of approval on every sentence.

So as a writer I wait for the reviewers and my readers, who, for the most part, are voyeurs and as such, I can expect a less emotional, more impartial opinion of the words that make up my life.

And this is some of what they’ve shared with me this week.

“Powerful and unforgettable”
“Invaluable for anyone confronted by physical conditions or illness … her story is truly inspirational, LOVE The Beat Goes On is most highly recommended.”  
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite 5 STARS

An introspective read” “Quick, relatable…giving us a glimpse into the journey of a remarkable woman.”  
Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers’ Favorite  5 STARs

“It isn’t a medical professional book saying ‘do this, do that’ – it’s a living, breathing survivor stating, ‘look, this is what worked for me.’…learning to trust her own intuition to purification, letting go, and not being afraid to keep fighting; after all, as she herself reinforces, ‘You’re not dead yet.”      
Reviewed by K. J. Simill,  4 Stars Readers’ Favorite

“Her story is honest, straightforward, and powerful, and many readers will be able to connect well with her experiences and how her spirit came to believe that sometimes the impossible can be made possible with the way we think.”
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan 4 Stars Readers’ Favorite

“Lynda’s focus on the emotional side of the battle against any disease is a very vital one, if you are not in the right state of mind, the doctors’ efforts to save you might all be in vain. Her emphasis on the need to always listen to your body and not ignore any warning signs made this a compelling read.”
Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi  4 Stars Readers’ Favorite

Mea culpa to anyone I may have offended in the writing of my personal story. I hope one day you will understand I wrote what was in my heart with love and gratitude for the life I’ve been blessed to live.

5star-shiny-hr PRINT

 

 

If This Book Could Save Lives…

Lynda’s story will help someone avoid the health crises that plague our society today. Attention to early warning signs, self-care, emotional intelligence, and self-love are all concepts that Lynda covers in her personal and sometimes humorous story of how she went from 6 months to live in 2008 to cured and living a healthy life today. Insurance companies should give this book with every policy written. Heal yourself one heart beat at a time. 

 

on May 18, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
I hadn’t heard of Dilated Cardiomyopathy before reading this book. But, I know any number of people who have been given a death sentence and suffer years of treatment. When Lynda Filler was given this same prognosis, she decided to defy the odds and embrace life. Her choice to believe the impossible and live the imaginable is truly inspirational. I loved her energy, her zest for life – both of which are evident on every page of this book.
There are no clear answers, no step by step directions; rather, Filler’s message is simple, follow JOY. Set negativity aside and follow what you love. Fill your hours with that which gives you life. I highly recommend this jewel of a book.
on March 31, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is going in the birthday bags, Christmas stockings and every get well package that I send this year. Lynda Filler’s journey through cardiomyopathy is amazing, inspiring, and thought-provoking about more than just illness. Anyone facing a major obstacle, a fork in the road, or looking to reinvent their lives would benefit from a journey through Lynda’s heart and soul story.
Format: Paperback
Often self-help or books that offer advice on how to improve your life are pedantic or so “new-agey” to be taken seriously. This is not true of Lynda Filler’s book Love The Beat Goes On.
Appropriately titled, the book chronicles the author’s own life experiences, beginning with what was essentially a death sentence. Diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, her life expectancy in 2008 was about five years. From the beginning Filler was determined to survive and enjoy a healthy and rewarding life. Her journey provides many lessons for readers ill or fit. Following her as she navigates the health care systems, spiritual awakening, and self-awakening the reader can’t help but become invested in her story.
Throughout the book, she reminds her readers to follow their physician’s recommendations and take medications as prescribed. Her book is not about medical advice. It is the telling of how her determination and positive vision has enabled her to long outlive the dismal prognosis of early doctors. Dedicated to living a full life and doing the things she enjoys, Filler did things most people with a bleak and hopeless future would not even dream of. Traveling extensively, driving from Mexico to British Columbia, following spiritual paths many would not consider, Filler took charge of her future.
After telling a remarkable and inspiring tale, the author devotes the final chapters of her book to “Heart Habits”; methods readers can use to overcome negativity and enhance their quality of life. By using creativity, developing a positive spiritual outlook, and exercising mind and body, Filler improved her health and lengthened her life well past her doctor’s forecast.
If you do no more than read this book as an autobiographical journey, you will come away with a smile on your face. This is an uplifting and inspiring book. Personally, I plan to use some of Filler’s “techniques” to begin my own journey to a healthier and more vibrant life.
on April 27, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book! First of all, when I saw the cover, I was intrigued. As I turned page after page so many instances, names, and locations were absolutely familiar to me. Wayne Dyer snippets. I knew them all. Although I was unfamiliar with cardiac problems, I found all the medical information fascinating and can honestly say I enjoyed every minute. From medical emergencies to romantic scenarios to paranormal events, this book was one happy surprise after another.
on April 15, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I will agree with the author, Lynda Filler, in the one thing that she stresses in LOVE The Beat Goes On, “Don’t Google your illness.” I’d add to that, “Don’t Google your illness if you are ignorant of its variations and do not know where to get to right advice.” Similarly, realize that when a doctor tells you to get your things in order, that your disease is in an acute phase, but, it may not stay that way. Acute illnesses, even ones affecting the heart, may go away, just like the measles and the mumps do. The condition that remains is the chronic disease, which is less dangerous in many instances.
There are many conditions that Google might give a ten-year life expectancy for the acute phase, whereas in a chronic phase of that condition one would be able to live with the disease for a normal length lifespan, or an only slightly shortened life expectancy.Yes, avoid doing blind medical research on Google if you do not have a trusted medical guide, as that can only alarm you.The author, with her doctor, and mentors’ assistance, and her courage, determination and positive attitude combined, reclaimed a healthy life.Even if she remains with a symptom-free, mild, chronic version of the condition, there is no reason why that should worsen.As we mature, we have chronic illnesses, or disease, in common. I applaud Lynda Filler for having regained her health and for sharing her journey through this book. An excellent, inspirational read.
 

 

Wow! A Must Read Book 5 Stars +

Amazon, there should be a button for 5 STARS +
It’s impossible to explain why this book is so well done. You must read it.
I live with a very positive viewpoint and don’t like to relive the past. But if we are going to heal, and help others know they are not alone, we must write our stories. I read this book on a flight from Paris to Mexico City. It was rather embarassing to keep wiping my eyes for most of the book.
Thank you Gwendolyn M. Plano. I know it’s difficult to write such personal things. But as I said when I wrote my story, if we can help even one person then it’s very worthy.
If I could give more stars, I would.
Yes, it’s a story of abuse…but it’s a story of our “collective abuse” and a must read by everyone.
Letting Go Into Perfect Love: Discovering the Extraordinary after abuse.
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My linking isn’t working this morning… It must be my jet-lagged-mind!

Meet #RWISA Author Stephanie Collins

 

Guilt, Shame & Fear

By Stephanie Collins

“I can’t stand the feeling of being out of control, so I’ve never had any interest in trying drugs or alcohol,” I mused.

“You sure seemed to have an interest when you were younger,” Dad informed me. He responded to my perplexed look before I had a chance to deny his claim. “What? You don’t remember trying pot? Let’s see. It was about 1975. That would have made you five, right? I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a summer afternoon. I walked into the living room and found you with a bong in one hand and a beer in the other. You just looked up at me, glassy-eyed, with a smile on your face and said, ‘Hi, Dad.’ You don’t remember that?”

“Uh…no!”

“Ha! Do you remember the massive headache you had the next day? You hated life that day! I told you not ever to do it again…and you never did,” he reminisced in a tone laced with humor and pride.

It was after that conversation when I really began to question my apparent lack of childhood memories. I have next to no memory of life before the divorce of my parents (when I was eight) and precious few afterward.

My parental split also marks the onset of memories of the “secret playtime” I shared with Dad. I remember realizing that what was happening to me was wrong (to a certain extent, anyway), but Dad really missed Mom. I felt proud to be there for him in his time of grief and loneliness. I had many roles as the oldest daughter. I got my toddler sister to bed on time, scolded her when I found her drinking a beer (that one I do have a vague memory of), and I cleaned the house. Those “more intimate interactions” with Dad were just another in my list of responsibilities as I saw it.

But if Dad remembered the timeline correctly, Mom and Dad were still together when I was five. Where was Mom when her Kindergartener daughter was experimenting with drugs? Could this mean I should add neglect as a descriptor of my “chaotic” upbringing? Could it mean the molestation began earlier than I have any memory of? Does it even matter at this point?

For a time, I was skeptical if someone told me s/he didn’t have sexual abuse in their background. It seemed it was everywhere. I ran a support group in a junior high school when getting my psychology degree. It was for eighth-grade girls, and the only qualifier for an invitation to the group was poor school attendance. After a few weeks of meetings, I opened a session with – innocently enough – “So, how was everyone’s weekend?” One girl immediately began to cry. She explained she had confronted her parents over the weekend with the news that her brother had sexually abused her for years. She had come forward out of fear for the niece her brother’s girlfriend had just given birth to. That student’s admission led to the revelation that six of the seven of us in our circle that day had a history of sexual abuse.

My best friend in college was gang-raped in high school. My college boyfriend was [brutally] raped by a neighbor as a child. Maybe the most disturbing situation I heard about was when I was a senior in high school. I had befriended a freshman. She came to me one day, inconsolable. She was petrified, as she was positive she was pregnant. I tried to calm her with reassuring words, then asked, “Have you told [your boyfriend] yet?” She burst into a fresh bout of tears. When she was finally able to speak again, she confessed in an agonized whisper, “I can’t! It’s not his. It’s…it’s my uncle’s, or my father’s.”

I don’t know how I thought sexual abuse was rampant all around me but had somehow left the rest of my family untouched. Soon after my first daughter was born, I learned that Dad had attempted to molest my younger sister when I was about 12 (my sister would have been 7 or 8 then). As it turns out, I disrupted the attempt when I went to inform them I had just finished making breakfast. I learned of that incident because our [even younger] step sister had just pressed charges against Dad for her sexual abuse from years earlier. He served four years.

Incidentally, that family drama enlightened me to the fact that my grandmother had been abused by a neighbor. My aunt had been abused by her uncle. I wonder if Dad had been sexually abused, too (in addition to the daily, brutal physical abuse I know he suffered at the hands of my grandfather).

As with most survivors of abuse from a family member, I am full of ambiguity and conflict. I am glad Dad was educated to the error of his ways. I’m satisfied he paid for his crimes. I’m relieved the truth came out. I hate that the truth came out. I mourn for the shell of a man who returned from prison. I weep for a family that was blown apart by the scandal. I am heartbroken for my grandmother, who was devastated by the whole ordeal. I am thankful I live 3000 miles away from my family, so I don’t have to face the daily small-town shame they all do, now that Dad is a registered sex offender. I am proud of my step sister for speaking up. I am woefully ashamed for not having the courage to do it myself, which possibly would have prevented the abuse of others after me. I love my father. I am thankful for the [many] great things he has done for me over the years. I hate the effect his molestation had on me, including the role it likely played in my high school rape by another student, and my first [abusive, dysfunctional] marriage.

As I’ve clearly demonstrated, my story is far from unique. Heck, it’s not even remotely severe or traumatic when compared to what others have survived. Still, here I am – 40 years after my first memories of molestation – and I’m still suffering the consequences. Along with my disgrace for allowing others to be abused after me, I carry incredible shame for my involvement in the acts (regardless of the decades of therapy that advise me I had no real power or choice in the matter). I carry unbelievable guilt for the strain my history places on my relationship with my husband. He’s an amazing, wonderful, loving man, who deserves nothing less than a robust, vigorous, fulfilling sex life, but gets – to the best of my ability – a [hopefully] somewhat satisfying one. I carry secret embarrassment over the only real sexual fantasy I have – that of reliving my rape and [this time] taking great pleasure in castrating the bastard in the slowest, most brutally savage way imaginable.

Heaviest of all, I carry fear. There’s nothing I can do to change my past. All I can do is work toward preventing the continued cycle of abuse. I may have a warped view of personal boundaries, I may struggle with my sexuality, and I may be somewhat unfamiliar with healthy family dynamics, but I can do all in my power to ensure my kids fare far better than me. I fear failure.

My eldest daughter has mild to moderate developmental delay. While statistics for sexual abuse in the general population is scary enough, the likelihood of abuse when a cognitive disability is involved is all but a certainty. My second daughter is non-verbal, non-ambulatory, and severely mentally delayed. She’s a prime candidate for abuse. What if my efforts to protect them fall short?

My [teenaged] son and my youngest [“tween”] daughter both have ADHD. Impulse control is a constant struggle for them both. What if the education, counseling, advice, and coaching I offer them about healthy relationships, sexuality, safety and personal responsibility aren’t enough?

I try to counteract these lingering after effects of abuse by remaining ever thankful for the love, good fortune, and beautiful life I share with my husband and children today, but my guilt, shame, and fear cling to me with tenacious persistence.

I am just finishing “It Begins And Ends With Family” by Jo Ann Wentzel. I highly recommend the read. The subject is foster care, but no conversation about foster children is complete without a discussion of child abuse and neglect. While we can debate the best course of action in helping abused children, the top priority must be to work toward a goal of prevention; to break the cycle of abuse. I am hopeful that – as a society – we can work together to empathize, educate, support, counsel, and care enough to stop the cycle of all abuse. If sharing my truth will help toward that goal, well…Here I am. This is my truth.

 

 

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Stephanie Collins