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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Edgy did it, and so can I ...

I have never posted a meme on my blog before, although I have participated, nor have I tagged anyone. And that is all about to change. I hope you'll play. This one looks like fun.

How to Play
  1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember.
  2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I'll check your blog to see if you are playing, too. If you are I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

By George, I think she's got it...

There is a distinct possibility that I might be on to something. Maybe. It's not scientific. I'm certain no psychiatrist will endorse it, but it seems to be starting to work. Maybe. I'm putting it all together, I'm using everything I've learned in the past couple of years, and something is happening. Maybe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm not really a witch...but...

I want a snake.

And some lizards.

And I once had a bat which I adored and even took to school. My teacher made me let it go. It was very cute and I miss it.

And I think spiders are pretty and make incredible webs.

Stop shuddering...and judging me...

People are the same

I don't know that I believe people change. I think I believe trust levels change which allow a person to feel safe even when vulnerable, or belief paradigms shift allowing us to expose that which we previously protected without stress or guilt or some other previously present emotion.

For instance--a public figure suddenly writes a book about his years of drug addiction. The general public now knows this person is a user. Why did he tell? Because he suddenly realized this was a part of his life and hiding it was offering no safety to him. He has decided that he has more to gain by sharing the truth than by living with the fear that he will be discovered. Has he changed? Nope. But the public perception of him has shifted dramatically. Some will identify and commiserate with him, some will feel betrayed, some will call him weak or hypocritical... but he's still the same person.

I know behaviors and beliefs change, but I still think people remain the same, and I've never bought into the myth that behaviors and beliefs define a person. There's so much more. I suppose I'm trying to understand why relationships change...or become less intense...or just end.

Connections between people are made on so many different levels. I have a friend with whom I could talk all day. We make each other laugh. We agree about many things. We have a wonderful time together. But we aren't close friends. We go to lunch. We chat. We wave when we see each other--and then we're finished for a few more months. We've known each other for about 20 years. We've watched our children grow up together--Darrin changed her youngest son's very first diaper. We have extended family connections. There is every reason for us to be very close. But regardless of the fact that we're compatible and we enjoy each other, we're not. I think it's because, somehow, we haven't developed the trust relationship which will allow us to become so.

Then there are the people we've felt we could never live without. We've told them things no other person knows. We've had emotional experiences with them. We feel we understand their thoughts and dreams, and we want the very best for them. But somehow, sometimes without anything happening to catalyze it, the compulsion to share the parts of us that we protect the most begins to wane, sometimes we feel awkward because we shared what we deem to be too much, sometimes time and space stretch between us and we wonder why we were close in the first place--which isn't to say we don't still enjoy their company. We see them after months or years of little contact and feel kinship and camaraderie, but we know as soon as the visit is over the contact will be suspended again and the closeness will become a memory. What has happened? I believe, somehow, our trust levels shifted. We became aware that the friend's priorities changed and somehow our close friendship was excluded from the list of priorities. Even when we understand, even when we agree this is right, there is a level of trust which is lost which in turn, changes the intimacy level of the friendship. I don't believe we stop loving that person, nor does the love decrease, we simply restructure their place in our lives and change the depth of what we share with them.

I suppose I have realized that when I boxed myself up and shared myself only with Darrin, there is a a part of me that has yearned for connection with other people. That makes me vulnerable--which is intolerable. It also puts me in a position such that when I find someone with whom I feel safe and connected, I'm prone to sharing things I probably should keep to myself. Sometimes the things I share are awkward and funny. Often they're inappropriate and uncomfortable. Sometimes they're ugly and revolting. I have a lot of bad stuff inside me, I suppose. I believe there is a part of me which uses the information as a testing ground--will you still want to be with me after you know all the crap I've experienced, all the nastiness I still agonize over, all the misery that keeps me awake at night? But also, I think for many years I've wanted to say--hey, I think I need to talk about some pretty icky stuff--do you love me? will you listen? will you recognize after you know all that stuff, that I'm still me? I'm still the friend you wanted to be with because I make you laugh and I love you forever? will you still trust me enough to share your life? or will you back away because I'm not whole, I'm odd, I'm scary...

I have many things in my life which were unfortunate--but some of them were beyond my control and I refuse to apologize for them. I also understand that the most recent period of my life is one which is emotionally intense and not all people are strong enough to hear what I say when I need to say it--they're wise enough to refer me to my counselor and get out before they become overwhelmed. I understand that some people need a friend who has less going on inside and can lend a greater listening ear than I can. I understand that some people will want me to be something I'm not, an expectation I can never fulfill. I understand that even when the friendship is wonderful, things happen to alter trust levels--sometimes things beyond our control--and that friendship will move to a less intimate status to accommodate life.

In the midst of all this I find myself thinking that perhaps most people go through this when they are between the ages of 7 and 25, and I'm a severely late bloomer. Perhaps that's why the ages of my friends are somewhat lower than my own. Everyone my age has it all figured out, they've established their social supports, they've grown beyond the need for acceptance and understanding which it seems I still crave. Perhaps in the next 20 years I'll mature emotionally and be able to look fondly at all people without wondering who they are inside, and trying to find out. Perhaps, as people move in and out of my life, I'll be content to let them come and go as they please.

It is easy for me to imagine a time when people will become tired of me and move on. I cannot conceive of the reciprocal, though. Those who are closest to me are there because I want to know about them. I want to understand what hurts them. I want to hear what interests them, what makes them laugh, what brings them joy. I want to hear about the details of their days. I want to help when they're sad. I want to be with them when they have time for me...hmmm...I am truly a stalker at heart.

At the end of the day, I suppose I must acknowledge that regardless of how people feel about me, I have never truly changed. I'm still the little girl who giggled easily and longed for a mother's embrace, the youth who stared with wonder at the beauties of nature while she wondered how to stop hurting inside, the teen who was reckless, curious, and sometimes vindictive, the adult who has never stopped questioning, researching, working...and the woman who wonders how love works, how friendships stay, how to be everything she is all at once.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scratching my head...

AtP and I have been grocery shopping...a lot. I shop nearly every night before dinner because, well, I like to use fresh produce and I'm not good at deciding what I want to eat until about 3:00 p.m. each day.

So we decided we wanted to make a salad with spinach and baby mozzarella, and tomatoes, and basil, and olive oil, and balsamic vinegar...sounds good, yes?

So we went to the store and we were looking at tomatoes, and discussing which ones were the best/prettiest/most ripe...

And DJ kept laughing at us which isn't unusual given that he does that often...

But then he said, "You guys don't even see it, do you?"

See what?


Now what are those doing there?

Someone wants to keep the tomatoes salmonella free--and what better way to stop the spread of disease than through the use of a condom? Or a few condoms?

And I'm wondering why AtP and I totally missed it...and we almost touched it about a million times.

Katrina and Jared have a new baby!!

And he was full term in spite of efforts to make an early appearance.



AtP has been living with me since Friday. Notice I said "living," not "visiting." Because if you come see me WYSIWYG. My house looks like people live in it--not like I have hotel maids, I make regular food, we don't do something fantastic every day (so it's possible that there might be a moment or two of boredom), and my kids are an integral part of your stay with me. Basically, when you're with me, you're a member of the family and I'm not above giving you jobs around the house or asking you to move if you're in my way. Oh--and if you bring a spouse you might be sleeping on an air mattress, as Adam's room doubles as our guest room and he only has a twin bed. But if you're small and like cuddling together, perhaps a twin bed is adequate. Darrin and I did it once or twice shortly after we were married. We didn't really notice the possible perils of falling off the bed. I suppose the crux of this paragraph is to let the world know that I am not in the running for Hostess of the Year--and I'm perfectly okay with that.

There are perks, however, to coming to visit me. Last night, after two years of friendship, AtP was initiated into "Friend For Life (FFL)" status. This process involves watching one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, there are a few movies one must watch in order to complete the initiation. If your reaction to the first movie is satisfactory (and in order to ascertain this, one must discuss the movie in depth for at least an hour after watching every second of it--including the credits), I entertain the possibility of allowing you to move to the next step, or movie, in the FFL process. AtP's reaction was not only acceptable--it was infinitely rewarding and I might even decide to let him skip a few of the necessary steps. He is definitely FFL material for Samantha.

Also, Ambrosia, you will be happy (or perhaps nauseated) to know that AtP and I finally fulfilled our urge to bite the butter. And it was as wonderful as we assumed it would be. We repeated the process several times and each bite brought great joy. It might become a habit. However, we forgot to explain the butter biting rules to Sully and Adam, who wished to join in the experience. They not only bit the butter--they ate it. And they didn't look well when they had finished. I believe their joy was not equal to mine and AtP's. They were very good sports about it, though.

Saturday we had the Day of Days. We went to an amusement park with ten other people. List of attendees: Darrin, Samantha, DJ, Adam, Tabitha, AtP, Sully, Brother of Sam, Favorite Sister-in-Law, Tabitha Friend One, Tabitha Friend Two, and Friend of Adam. The Girl Car transported Favorite Sister-in-Law, Tabitha, Friend One, Friend Two, and Me. The Boy Van transported Darrin, Brother of Sam, DJ, Adam, Friend of Adam, Sully, and Atp. The Girl Car was cuter and much more fun. Boys are yucky.

At the amusement park I managed to bond with my seatmate, Sully, as we immortalized our ride on my favorite roller coaster of all time, with a photograph. The delightful picture also features DJ and AtP who sat behind us. All four of us managed to scream like girls (I did it the best) as the picture was snapped. Okay, I'm lying. Only DJ, AtP, and Sully screamed like girls. I was laughing too hard. But Sully and I further cemented our bond by cuddling for 10 seconds during the subsequent trip to the Imax to see the Dark Knight. We tried to extend the cuddling session--but let's face it. I'm not that great at cuddling with guys. And besides, it made me sleepy. AtP circumvented all cuddling by putting the arm rest between us, so now he will never know the joy of a 10-second Sam cuddle.

After the movie Tabitha decided she was feeling ill, and I was very tired because I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. the night before, talking on the phone with Jason. This was a bad choice. I would do it again. It was fun.

Given my fatigue and Tabitha's illness, the Girl Car lost its gender specific status as Sully took the wheel and drove us safely back home. We arrived, finally, in spite of the fact that at one point after a potty break, he tried to return to Denver because his sense of direction became confused. We set him straight. I believe he has filled his lifetime quota of riding with three loud, giggly thirteen-year-old girls and Samantha. Except he has to ride to Utah with me tomorrow. We'll take AtP with us instead of the girls. His giggle is nicer.

This is now day ten of lack-of-sleep Samantha. Although I got about five hours last night. That's more than I've had in a long time. If I ever get more sleep I believe my posts will make more sense. I could be wrong, though. Perhaps they've always been a little odd.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A short post

I see Therapist on Tuesday. As usual, when the time to see him gets close I begin feeling anxious and sort of cranky. I realized today that in the midst of all of this is a feeling of peace. I awake in the morning feeling it. It is amplified when I run and when the stress begins to rise I'm finding it easier to move to the peaceful feelings within a few moments.

Why am I anxious about seeing Therapist?

Part of me is still tired. I've worked hard in the past couple of years. I'd like to stay where I'm at--it's a pretty nice place--and just relax for a month or two. But I'm not made that way. I don't know how to stop and rest. I've also discovered a couple of things that will help me grow a bit and I'm pushing myself to get on with it. The more I do, the sooner I'll find resolution.

But for tonight, I'm going to sleep.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My kids are severely in need of attention

DJ and Adam walk downstairs while I'm at work on the computer. They are wearing adhesive metal brackets on their foreheads.

Me: What are you doing?
Adam: We're being bulls.
Me: You just look like silly kids with metal things on your heads.
DJ: Yeah, but we like to pretend.
Me: How old are you?
DJ: You know you want to laugh.
Me: I'm not going to.
DJ: Do you think it hurts to get your nostrils waxed?
Adam: I think you need to try it.
DJ: Be quiet. Bulls can't talk.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Trivial Knowledge Enrichment

Sam: Darrin! Stop! There's an owl on that building, I swear it's true!

Darrin drives back around the building and sure enough, there's an owl. Sam jumps out of the car and tries to take pictures with her phone, wondering how all the other car people can possibly not see the owl.

Later, Samantha excitedly tells everyone at a family picnic about her owl.

Sam (yelling): There's an owl on the top of the Holiday Inn! I have pictures of it on my phone!
Brother of Sam: Yeah. There's an owl on the top of every Holiday Inn. They're fake.
Sam (yelling): Yay! There's a fake owl on the top of the Holiday Inn!! I have pictures of it on my phone!
Darrin: It's a scare-owl. It scares away...things.
Sam (yelling):Yay! There's a fake SCARE owl on the top of the Holiday Inn!! And I have pictures of it on my phone!

I did not know the Holiday Inn put scare-owls on their roofs. Did you? (and I'm supposed to be the trivia queen)

The Bishop's wife loves summer


1. All the student wards meet together and Darrin is only responsible for one month's worth of meetings.
2. Darrin is only gone one night each week (for interviews and meetings) instead of six.
3. Darrin goes to Sacrament Meeting with me and I get to sit with him. Yay! This hasn't happened for over six years, and is especially good because when they turn on the air conditioning in the chapel it's about 40 degrees in there. Darrin is nice and warm, and agrees to let me sit very close to him. And he likes it. :)
4. Darrin will take walks with me sometimes.
5. Darrin has agreed to go on vacation with us--FOR A WEEK!! This would never happen during the school year. I love summer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Conversations and Dreams

My awareness of stress acceleration is becoming more acute--which means I can recognize it before it explodes. Most of the time I'm able to circumvent the explosions by making time for a walk or a run by myself. The alone time seems to be the key which is not what I was told in the hospital. There I was instructed to not be alone--even if that meant contact online or through the phone. But what I find is that I either begin venting to that person, which makes me feel horribly guilty and even more stressed, or I am listening to them, and while I enjoy listening to others, the moments when I'm feeling out of control are not the best time to be a good listener.

For awhile the "talking" thing worked. The problem is that I have nothing new to say. There are few people who wish to hear the same thing repeatedly. There are also few people who will hear what I'm saying, validate me, but recognize that most of what I'm saying is not reality, but rather me expressing the extremity of what I'm feeling. And much of the time I don't really mean what I say beyond the moment. Today I had an unfortunate conversation. I was talking to a friend about feeling overwhelmed by the sadness of another person--whom, in truth, I don't feel overwhelmed by. Basically, I was talking, and that came out. This is not a case of subconsciously speaking the truth--it's me allowing stress to exaggerate the tiniest aspects of my life. The truth is, the friend in question does not cause me stress--ever--in fact, being with him makes me feel joyful and calm. So the fact that I was saying otherwise is proof that I am unable to interpret what I'm feeling in a rational way:

Chat Person: It can be draining to be with people we love.
me: I hate that! I don't want people to feel drained if I'm with them. That's why I'm hating this so much. If I feel this way about someone, and I adore him, I can't imagine how I've sucked the life out of every person I've been with for the past couple of years. I would seriously rather have been alone.
Chat Person: You would choose not to be with your friend? He's not worth the effort?

(long pause as Sam refuses to answer)

Chat Person: Well, it's obvious that's not the case. And I guess you have to let other people make that decision about you.
me: I'm tired. This is not what I should be saying. This fatigue--frustration--I feel toward my friend--you have felt it toward me? When I was overwhelmed emotionally and I came to you?
Chat Person: Well, I don't know the caliber of fatigue/frustration you're feeling, but there have been times when I've felt fatigue and frustration, yes.
me: I think that should not be.
Chat Person: I personally would distrust a relationship that required nothing.
me: You asked if I would choose not to be with my friend--if he was not worth it. There are times, when I wish he was not part of my life, yes. I wish that about everyone occasionally, especially when I'm overwhelmed. I don't particularly care what that says about me. I'm well aware that I'm not the poster child of good friends. And, quite honestly, I don't think that will surprise you. However, as to whether or not he's worth it...that's something different altogether. And like it or not, I fell in love with him. Once that happens, I'll pretty much donate all my organs for the person I love. I can't help it. So--there is your answer.

The truth is that 30 minutes after this conversation, I was feeling no more antagonism toward anyone. It was a fleeting thing which I should simply have waited out. As the day progressed my stress levels increased. By dinnertime I was unable to eat, on the verge of laughing (or crying) hysterically, and absolutely irrational.

So--I went for a walk. I walked outside the city limits to a place where there are fields and dirt roads. The fields were green, the sky an incredible blue, the clover was in blossom and it smelled lovely. I walked for an hour and a half, and came home feeling much better.

Tonight I'm calm, but still wondering if I should avoid people for awhile. I feel poisonous when I talk during a PTSD episode. There is still random anger floating about inside. It seems to direct itself toward everyone I love, especially the person kind enough to spend time with me.

I had a dream last night. I was talking with a loved one in the manner I was speaking today. I was vicious and spiteful. He waited until I was finished with my unkind tirade, then he walked over to me, put his arms around me and said, "You're hurting again, aren't you." I said no. He hugged me and said, "It's okay. I'll just stay here until you feel better."

I woke up crying. I realized that many times in my dreams I allow people I love to act out what I wish had happened when I was hurt as a child and teen. It feels wrong to do that, somehow--to put them in a situation where they act differently from how they would in real life. And I feel guilty that I allow it to happen. But there is also a part of me that, for just a moment, feels absolutely safe. It's a rather remarkable feeling.

Someday, when everyone knows everything, and those friends find out that in my dreams I let them hold me when I was hurting, I hope they'll forgive me.

Michael Penn - Brave New World

I just like it. That's all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Green Thumb

A student came for her lesson this morning, but didn't come inside. I finally went out to see what was keeping her. She said, "I love your flower garden."

I love my garden, too. I am not a gardener. I mentioned my gardening method last year.
1. Load Tabitha and Adam into the car.
2. Drive to the greenhouse.
3. Allow them to choose six or seven flowers each (any kind--whatever they think is pretty).
4. Choose five tomato plants and several herbs (basil--at least three plants, oregano and mint if I happened to kill the perennials that were previously thriving, rosemary, summer savory, lemon basil, lemon balm, lavender and anything else that looks or smells lovely).
5. Come home and think about planting.
6. Put it off for a couple of days.
7. Drag Tabitha and Adam to the garden plot.
8. Dig holes and stick in the plants. Try to keep the taller ones toward the back and mix things up as much as possible.
9. Put all the herbs next to the stepping stones so they are easily accessible.
10. Clean up, go into the house, and pray that everything survives (note: if they don't survive, start over and try it again).

So--my garden is a success. My piano student thinks it's lovely. And she even thinks it's lovely with the two dead plants hiding in the back which shall shortly be replaced when I remember to go back to the greenhouse. Just don't ask me what's in it. I have no idea.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with."

I'll admit that there is a bizarre part of me that doesn't want the wound to close. It took a huge effort to start talking after so many years. It was both shocking and soothing to find people accepted me for who I was in spite of what had happened to me. I've spent nearly three years now looking at reality and no longer flinching from it.

And still, allowing it all to return to the past makes me feel that somehow there was no point to all that I have done.

I am an incredibly strong person. I know this. And yet, in spite of that strength, the things I faced brought me to my knees. I ended up in the hospital. I spent months wishing to be anyone but me. I hated myself--everything about myself. I saw all my unmet needs and wondered how someone as capable as myself could possibly be so emotionally inept. I despised my "weakness."

About a year ago I looked at pictures of myself as a child. I posted some of them. I confessed to a friend that I could not understand how a mother would not want me. I understood that everything lined up just right so that I was resented rather than cherished. I understood that what my mother had been through was horribly draining. The understanding brought no comfort. I told my friend that I could not understand how I was unloved and unwanted. It felt agonizing to know the truth, but be unable to apply it to myself. I've always known people should not love me or want me in their lives, but I've also never believed that. I know. That makes no sense.

My friend exclaimed that he loved me, and that he wanted me. In retrospect, there are all sorts of ways to misconstrue what he said, but my heart at that time needed to hear those words. I had no reason to disbelieve him, and I was in a moment of weakness. His words sustained me through a few more hellish weeks in which I belittled myself and told me all the ways that I was unworthy of love. In the subsequent months our friendship has morphed into something less intense and certainly more logical. I don't believe he could be paid a large enough sum to ever repeat the words again, regardless of my need. Sometimes I'm grateful for late night chats in which people lose their sense of reserve and I hear what I need to hear.

Ninety-nine percent of me wishes to close the book I've written and move forward without the impediment of my memories and my past. The remaining one percent screams that I'll be forgotten, dishonoring something I survived with as much dignity and grace as I could muster. It tells me that I'm still crying inside on many levels, and that I've solved nothing. I respond that I hear the cry, but I have no way to still it. The impossible task of finding comfort has brought more agony than peace. At some point one has to simply say, "This is how things are. It would be nice to have a 'happily ever after.' That's not going to happen this time." And then one goes through the damnable acceptance exercises, hoping that one day those will actually "stick" and it won't be necessary to keep repeating the same motions forever.

Today I thought, what do I want people to remember about me? I want them to remember that I laughed. I want them to remember that my life was joyful. I want them to remember that I found delight in simple things. I want them to remember that I was happy most of the time and that when I loved it was with my whole soul.

So why do I worry that the nasty parts will be forgotten?

I suppose, in the end, they won't be, as I sport a multitude of beautiful scars. But truly, that wasn't part of my list of preferred remembrances in the first place.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Okay--that was fun and I think you should all visit more often--and I should visit back. I'll work on that last part. And if you're being stubborn and not saying hello STILL, well, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and pretending your internet connection is spotty or because of my previous posts, you've been too afraid to read. I think that's reasonable. But when you have internet again, or you stop being afraid of me, I still think you should come say hello.

P.S. In case you haven't noticed (and I know you haven't), Tolkien Boy no longer visits me. This could be because he no longer visits anyone--but since I don't stalk him anymore, I don't know. However, as someone pointed out to me, his absence is making Mr. Fob's belief that I am a figment of TB's imagination seem somewhat flawed. And so I will publicly admit that I am NOT his figment, nor have I ever been. Truthfully, even though Tolkien Boy's imagination is marvelous, even he could not dream up a person as conflicted as I am--and if he did, it would be a man. You know I'm right, Mr. Fob. Let's face it, for the most part, TB's female figments are seriously two-dimensional and not even close to being as lovely as I am. In fact, they rather frighten me in their austerity and shallowness. I have little love for the female figments of TB's imagination. However, in fairness, last year for a short time he worked on making them more appealing and was somewhat successful once or twice. They were much nicer, if a little bit short on IQ points. BUT...none of them turned into me. Conclusion: I must be a figment of someone else's imagination, which is a pity. I like TB.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You're all lazy

I'm not kidding. You read this on your Google Reader, or on Bloglines and you never visit anymore. I'm starting to feel sorry for myself because I serve the purpose of a television set--you read but don't connect--

And don't tell me you have nothing to say!! I've met many of you--you talk incessantly.

And it doesn't matter if what you say has anything to do with my post, either. Just come say hello.

Come can do know you miss the link...just come say hi...

And I promise I'll talk back if you do. It's time for some quality etime, some genuine virtual dialogue, some textual visibility.

P.S. If you comment regularly like JB, Ambrosia, AJ, and others who talk to me, this is not aimed at you--but I still want you to say hi. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

" ...make whole again the little girl, who clings to sonnets & sobriety."

As usual, I'm avoiding sleep.

It seems I have set in motion a chain reaction inside myself. I continue to make connections and draw conclusions. I am allowing myself to let go--but it hurts dreadfully. There is still a part of me that is certain when I am finished nothing will have been solved--I will simply forget. And I will have made all this fuss for nothing. There is still a certainty that no one truly cares about something which happened so long ago that it doesn't really matter.

I asked Darrin last night if I was important to him. I asked him if he missed me when I was not with him. He hugged me and said, "Yes," to both questions.

Why can't I believe?

Why am I certain that if I stop talking, and hurting, and digging about, that once again I will disappear behind the mask I once made to protect all people from me?

Why do I think that when I let all this go there will be nothing left of me?

I need to answer those questions, and soon. Because I am letting go, and I cannot keep talking about the same thing forever. And this seems to be the bottom line--I can't seem to understand that Samantha is not some colossal mistake. I can't seem to make my heart truly believe what my head is saying.

And it's silly, really. People who love me remind me of that often. I don't think this is happening because I despise myself--because I don't. I think it's that trust thing once again. I do not know how to trust.

So I guess I'll throw myself into whatever is happening inside myself, and believe it will make me feel better in the end. And I'm going to hope that those people who have expressed love to me really meant what they said.

And tonight I'm happy and sad. Happy, because I think I'm doing the right thing. Sad, because for whatever reason, I don't want people to forget the unwanted and aching little girl who used to be me. It's selfish, I know. Still, tonight this is how I feel.

Rhapsody Rabbit

Favorite cartoon #1.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I used to believe if I accepted all that had happened to me and allowed myself to be healed, that I would cease to be me--I would become someone different. I believed that new person would be weaker and would have lost all dignity and integrity. Somehow, I felt that by continuing to rage against my past, I was somehow honoring myself.

In a way, I was right. I have become someone different. I once described myself to Tolkien Boy as "tall and fierce". I am neither of those things. Perhaps, at that time I was fierce about many things. Now I am short, as I always have been, and tired.

There is no honor in continuing to rage at my past. There is no dignity in insisting that the only way I can heal is to take away the things that have hurt me. And I no longer have the energy to be fierce.

And so, today I am laying my burden at my Savior's feet. I can no longer carry it. And I've promised to change the course of my life as He sees fit--not as I would insist. It has taken a very long time to wear me down, and I've been humbled more often than I would like. It seems unfair that there is no visible, immediate recompense...but then I reflect on the incredible blessings I've enjoyed during the past two years, and I cannot complain.

I wished for a voice--this venue was opened to me. I talked more than I have ever talked in my life. I said things I didn't think I would ever have the courage to say. I screamed and laughed and cried--electronically.

I wished for understanding and empathy. It was here in abundance. Even those who could not understand tried, and when someone came to my world to mock, attack, or undermine, many came to my defense--something that has not happened in my life before.

I did not wish to face my demons alone, but my family and husband were too closely linked to me to avoid personalizing my issued. Indeed, there have been times when their feelings have threatened to overwhelm my own, effectively stopping my progress. An online community of friends allowed me to have companionship without personalization, and some of those virtual friends became corporeal ones--which opened up new challenges to one like me, who traditionally avoided close contacts of any kind. But I have not been alone, spiritually, nor emotionally, and sometimes even physically, as I've walked my difficult path.

I wished to be held. I wished to be loved. I wished to be respected. I have received those things -- from unlikely sources, it is true, but I have still received them. Time after time I have been validated as a person until, finally, I understand that I am not a victim of circumstance, but rather, a person of worth. I could not proceed until I reached that conclusion.

Every need that I have expressed to the Lord has been filled in ways I could never anticipate. He has provided for me, stretched me, made me work, and asked me to serve in return.

I am realizing that accepting His will means that I will allow myself to give up many things, and that I will, indeed, change from who I was. But that has always been the case. There has never been a time when change was not present in my life. The difference now is that I am allowing the Lord to tell me what to change, instead of adhering to my personal whims and ideals.

And today, I am tired. But I will run in the place which brings me peace, and I will have a beautiful day. And I will think about loving the things the Lord loves, wanting the things he wishes for me, and learning that sacrificing my own wishes is really no sacrifice at all. Because he knows me better than I know myself.

This is not easy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not Angry Anymore

There's a line from a Matchbox 20 song: "...and it's good that I'm not angry...anymore..."

Anger is an emotion I run from with all my might. I've never found anything redeeming in the emotion and I always end up throwing up when I feel it. I'm certain it's because I don't really remember a time when my mother wasn't angry. There were short moments, but the anger always seethed beneath the surface. I was afraid of her anger.

Unfortunately, I've had to allow myself to feel the anger that has been stored up inside me for many years. Allowing that emotion was horrifying to me. As I knew it would, the result was that I was ill each time the emotion came. I found it creeping into situations unexpectedly, accompanied by self-pity at the misery I had been forced to endure.

The anger tainted my ability to reach out to others. Many times in the past two years I have been approached by people who had experienced things similar to the abuses I have felt. They wished for empathy. I had none. They wanted to talk. I could not listen. It was too much. The rage I felt for them and for myself threatened to consume me. I was left feeling horrible guilt as I let them know that now was not a good time for me to be of support to them, and referred them to whatever other source I could think of.

I was afraid I would be in this state forever. I realized last week that I won't be. I had a visitor to my blog. She, too, was not valued by her mother, and suffered emotional abuses which have left her hurting and sad. For the first time, I responded to this type of visitor by stopping by her blog. I wanted to say something--but there seemed nothing to say. Truly, can words help? I knew there were many times I found comfort in the words of others, but there were also times when words, intended to be loving and supportive, actually were harmful, sending me into despair. I didn't want that.

I read the blog of my visitor. She told of an experience where a person in her life tried to molest her. She told of how she was spared. She knew it had been through the intervention of the Spirit. A year ago, I would have been very upset to read that. She was spared--why wasn't I? Did God hate me as much as my parents did? Why would he not save me? Why?

This time, as I read her account, I wept. I was truly happy that she had not been hurt as I had been. No one should feel what I have felt--I have said that many times. And if she was the only child spared that agony, then life has goodness, for one innocent child didn't suffer. But the truth is, there are many who are spared, and that gives me hope.

As I watched the confirmation I mentioned in my previous post today, something else happened. At the end of the blessing, the tiny eight-year-old (who in stature was about the same size I was at her age), turned to her father with her arms lifted up. He picked her up off the ground so that he could cuddle her close and then he kissed her. When he replaced her on the ground, she turned to her uncle, who repeated the gesture, as did her grandfather and a close family friend. They were unashamed at the physical manifestation which demonstrated their love for her. I thought, I don't remember anyone kissing me as a child. I don't remember being held like that. Once again, I felt tears, because instead of the expected anger and agony, I felt joy for that little girl. I was so happy that she is being raised in an environment where she is comfortable being held and embraced by men and women. She expects it--as every healthy child should.

My thirteen-year-old daughter, in response to the spectacle, cuddled next to me and kissed me on the cheek. She, too, understands that love should be expressed. For the first time I understood why Therapist said that in stopping my family's cycle of abuse with my own children, I have done something monumental. My daughter isn't afraid of me. She loves me. My sons, now teenagers, still hug and kiss their dad and I.

And in the midst of all this, my anger is spent. I no longer feel pain as I watch others receive what I did not. I just feel happy, grateful that there are many who will not feel what I have felt.

That's a good thing.

A constant companion

I'm the Activity Days leader for the girls age 8-12 in our ward. This week a young lady joined our group by virtue of her 8th birthday. She was confirmed in Sacrament Meeting. I was struck by the words her father said as he conferred upon her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He mentioned that personage of spirit, the third member of the Godhead, could now be her constant companion. He would be with her always. He would comfort her when she mourned, guide her when she made choices, and rejoice with her when she was happy. It was the last part that I heard.

In my agonizing process of trying to understand how friendships and human relations work, I've often rejected the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Not that I've sent him away, I've just not acknowledged his presence. I know he's been there. Time after time, when I was frustrated, lonely, or confused, I've felt him soothe my soul and bring me peace.

I've written many times about the joy I feel when I'm alone, when I'm running or practicing. But the truth is, I'm never lonely in those times--because truly, I'm not alone. I see things more clearly, I find joy in my surroundings, I come home ready to deal with any problems of sadness I might face during the day--because I've just spent at least 90 minutes experiencing joy, and somehow, knowing that the Holy Spirit has rejoiced with me helps me understand why I return from those moments feeling healthy and whole. He rejoices with me when I am happy.

There have been times when I have lamented that no one understands the things which are so important and vital in my life. I've longed for someone to share the things that bring me joy. Darrin doesn't run--nor does he understand my need to connect with nature. He indulges me, but that isn't the same. Sully comes close to understanding. He sometimes goes to places of beauty which I've shared with him. He says he thinks of me in those times. But I've often just wanted someone with me right in the moment, so that we might share joy together--and I've always had that, I just didn't know.

Sometimes I miss people. Jason rightfully accused me of becoming very attached to people I love. Somehow that feels like a flaw in my character, but I have no idea how to keep the "attachment" from happening. So when I miss people, I put on my running shoes and I run until the feelings go away. I had this conversation with Tolkien Boy about it:

TB: You missed people, so you ran more?
me: Yes. Doesn't everyone? :)
TB: I assume these were people who were not nearby.
me: Not necessarily. But mostly, yes. I don't like missing people. It makes my stomach hurt.
TB: Would there be a way to interact with these people?
me: Tolkien Boy, I'm still trying to figure out how to say, "Hey! I miss you!" without feeling that I'm intruding in a life where I have no place. It has nothing to do with how the other person perceives me, but rather, how I perceive myself.
TB: So, running is part of your practice.
me: Yes. I run till the "missing" goes away.
TB: Well, when you're ready, perhaps you'll start using other strategies.
me: Such as?
TB: I suspect they're things you have to discover for yourself.
me: Right. Sorry I mentioned it.
TB: I didn't mean to sound as if I'm brushing you off. I just don't know if any of the things I do will help you. Would you like to hear them anyway?
me: That's why I asked. :)
TB: Well, when I'm missing someone, I call them up. Or write them a letter. I do this more often, because people love to get letters or emails. Sometimes I just think of the things I like about them, and why I'm missing them. Write about them. Lately, I make little photo montages. That's been fun, actually, if a bit cheesy.
me: I feel stupid when I miss someone.
TB: Why?

I didn't answer him. I was distracted by a sudden thought. TB doesn't miss me. But I miss him. That's why I feel stupid--because I feel something I have no right to feel. TB can't miss me--I talk to him several times a week. It's like the line from the Homer and Jethro song: "...Oh, how can I miss you, If you won't go away..."

I'm digressing.

The point I'm making is that in the midst of all this, there is always someone who wishes to be with me--all the time. And he wants only what is best for me. He loves me. And so I lament what I don't have, without having gratitude for the blessing of my constant companion and friend. There are times when he has to leave me because I'm choosing things that make him uncomfortable. I miss him when he's gone, but I think he misses me, too, and he waits until I'm able to put things right. Then he comes back as soon as possible, helping me heal, comforting when I mourn, rejoicing with me when I'm happy.

And today I'm so thankful for his presence in my life, because I listened to him for the first time in far too long--and I learned things, and I gave service where it was needed, and I knew I was doing what was important for me right now.

I love him. What an incredible gift. I am so blessed by his friendship, love, and concern for me. He is truly one who knows all about me, loves every part of me, understands and participates in the things which bring me joy and are so important to me.

How about that? All this time I've been seeking for something I have always had.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why I don't like to answer the phone while Darrin is a bishop

Woman: Is this the Bishop's house?
Me: This is were a bishop lives, yes.
Woman: Let me talk to him.
Me: I can't.
Woman: Why not?
Me: He's not here.
Woman: Where is he?
Me: Out.
Woman: Oh. Well. I need to talk to him.
Me: I assumed that when you commanded me to let you talk to him.
Woman: When will he be back?
Me: I don't know.
Woman: Who are you?
Me: Who are you?
Woman: I'm here with my son. I need to know where and when his ward meets. And I need to talk to the Bishop.
Me: Oh. Well, I can probably tell you when the ward meets, but I need to know your son's address so I can put him in contact with the correct bishop.
Woman: Well, actually, I'm the one who wants to talk to the Bishop, not my son.
Me: Okay. Tell me where you live, and I'll tell you what ward you're in and who your bishop is.
Woman: That's complicated.
Me: It is?
Woman: Yes.
Me: Why?
Woman: I live with my son.
Me: I assumed you did. Where do you live.
Woman: the dorms.
Me: Okay. I think you're in Bishop S's ward.
Woman: Is that a family ward?
Me: Yes.
Woman: No. I want to go to the student ward.
Me: I see. You know what, I'm going to give you Bishop S's number anyway. I think he can listen to your situation and advise you much better than I can.
Woman: Well, I guess that's okay.
Me: I think so, too.

First problem--moms are not allowed to live with their sons in the dorms--mostly because the dorms are divided by gender.
Second problem--Unless the mom had the son when she was 12, she's too old to attend a student ward.
Third problem--Why? Either she's a weirdo psychopath old woman who preys on younger men (or I suppose she might like younger women--anything is possible), or she's an overprotective mom who followed her son to college, is living illegally in his dorm room, and wants to watch his every move and thus, must attend church with him.

Whatever. It's way too weird for me. I'll let Bishop S. handle it.

To enrich your trivial knowledge

Fish do not have a uvula.

Friday, July 4, 2008

In-Therapy Samantha

In November of 2005 my mother called me. She told me that cousin David's wife had died. I was completely unprepared for the emotions that engulfed me. I felt wildly triumphant that something bad had happened to the person who had hurt me. I felt shocked that his wife, whom had always been friendly and kind to me, was dead. I felt sadness for the two teenage boys now left without a mother. After years of controlling my emotions, suddenly I had no control.

I asked if the death was suicide. My mother replied that no one knew for certain. The cause of death was a drug overdose. In my mind there was no doubt that she had taken her own life.

I thanked my mother for the phone call, declined her invitation to go with them to the funeral, and hung up. Then I went online to check the newspaper obituary. I read the article, then clicked on the link to sign the online guest book for her. I left a short note expressing sadness and sympathy and signed my name. Then I closed the page and very carefully forced myself to think of something else. As far as I was concerned, the event was finished.

One month later received an email from Sister 1. My father had planned a family gathering the weekend of New Year's. We were going to gather at Sister 3's home and watch all six Star Wars movies, then ring in the New Year together. A video call to Sister 5 in Germany was also planned. I had no interest in the movies, but thought it would be fun to spend time together and I was looking forward to the reunion.

Sister 1's email let everyone know that she had invited cousin David and his sons to join us. I knew she and David had been good friends throughout the years, so I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. Suddenly all the emotions were back. For the first time in many years I found myself crying and hysterical. Darrin asked what was wrong. I told him I couldn't go to the reunion and explained why. He said that was fine, we'd stay home--but I still couldn't stop crying.

Two hours later, Darrin led me to the car and drove me to my parents' home. He said we had to talk to my father and tell him the problem. I said I couldn't. Darrin said it was time.

We found my dad in his office and I incoherently and hysterically told him I wouldn't be attending the reunion and why. Even after all the time that had passed, I was certain he would be angry with me. I waited for him to express that. Instead he began to sob. He asked me repeatedly why I had never told him. I tried to explain--and did so very badly. After a rather horrible hour, my father assured me that I needed to be with the family and if he had his way, there would be no contact with David again. I told my dad I didn't want anyone else to know. He said that was up to me. He also said he wanted me to see a counselor. He said this was not something I could deal with on my own anymore. I was too tired to argue.

Over the next couple of weeks my father pumped me for more details. I gave some but not many. I couldn't admit to myself the depth of what had happened, let alone share that with my dad, whom I somehow still felt that I had let down. The reunion came and went--it was a lot of fun. I slipped back into my work routine and forgot my promise to see a counselor.

The first week of February I received a phone call from Counselor the First. She made an appointment to see me that week and I began the journey that still continues. I thought, initially, that I would "finish" in about three months. I am now in my third year.

While with Counselor the First, I learned how to talk about things I had not discussed before. Granted, I used very general terms, and was unable to look at things realistically, but it was a starting point. Counselor told me it was not necessary for me to look at things closely, simply to acknowledge what happened and allow Christ to help me heal. I tried desperately to make that happen. It didn't. Within four months my eating disorder had escalated and my therapy sessions were becoming extremely stressful. I had tried many things--nothing was helping. I finally stopped going. My father was concerned. I said no therapy was better than what I was currently receiving.

It became apparent within about six weeks that I was desperately in need of help. I finally agreed to see a male counselor--the same one my father had been seeing. I was not comfortable with the situation, but agreed because I knew I was in trouble. I began meeting with Therapist and within two visits I realized that this was a person who could truly help me. In addition to finally finding a counselor who seemed to know how to tap into my strengths and allow me latitude to make my own choices, I had found an unlikely online support group made up of people who had encountered my blog and who were willing to allow me to talk with them. Four, in particular, had regular contact with me.

For about nine months I met with Therapist. In that time I learned how to say exactly what had happened to me without throwing up. I met with my cousin, David, and had lunch with him. I did not confront him. My purpose was to see him as he was, so that my fear might subside. My nightmares had become frequent and overwhelming. I worked with a friend to help control those and had success in that, for the most part. I was feeling strong and capable when Therapist let me know he had been transferred to Utah. He asked me to let him refer me to another counselor. I said no. I was finished. Therapist knows better than to argue with me--so he didn't.

One month later I was admitted to the mental health unit of the hospital under suicide watch. During my stay there I was evaluated by a few psychiatrists and did copious amounts of psyche testing. I did hours of therapy. The diagnosis: I was not clinically depressed--in fact, I didn't have any symptoms of depression apart from my wish to die, which made no sense. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder which was only now beginning to emerge. As I allowed myself to remember, to talk, to acknowledge the abuses in my life, the PTSD was becoming unmanageable. I watched educational videos which recommended that I work on getting my drug and alcohol addictions under control before I began working on managing PTSD--that was easy enough. :)

I left the hospital with lists of healthy coping resources, pamphlets about what I could expect to experience when the disorder became full-blown, and a prescription to get back into therapy immediately. I ignored all of them.

One month later a counselor was calling me again. Apparently, while at the hospital I had signed a release allowing one of the psychiatrists to follow enroll me as a client at a local mental health clinic. The counselor scheduled my first appointment and I began seeing her. For three months I worked with her, always feeling that I was spinning my wheels and that nothing was getting better. She did, however, help me begin to work on my feelings about the abuse I had received from my mother, but the result was that my PTSD symptoms began increasing in frequency and acuteness. Finally, I went to my father and asked if he thought it would be worth it for me to drive 350 miles monthly to see Therapist once again. My dad said I needed to do whatever was necessary, and if I felt Therapist could help me, that was what I needed to do.

So I began seeing Therapist once again. And once again I felt I was moving forward. Unfortunately, the reality was not what I had been working toward. I wanted, somehow, for my therapy sessions to help me nullify everything. I wanted to be able to make a "happily ever after" for myself. When I realized that was never going to happen, I felt betrayed somehow. I felt I had been tricked into spending two years discussing the things that hurt me--and that hurt all over again. And the process seemed purposeless. I spent nearly eight months wallowing in misery. My sessions with Therapist served to keep me from being despondent, but I was struggling to find momentum again. I had times when I thought things were moving forward, but I couldn't see any progress. Therapist insisted I was still progressing, and he would tell me the ways, but I felt miserable.

I had investigated what it meant to mourn, to acknowledge, to accept--it all seemed rather horrible. My flashbacks and PTSD episodes seemed to control my life. I could see no good outcome to the mess I had begun two years before.

When I visited with Therapist last week, he mentioned that I've made slow steady progress over the past three months, at learning to live with and cope with the stress symptoms of PTSD. My behavior had been erratic and unpredictable in that time period--so I knew he was crazy. He admitted that I had acted in atypical ways, but then said, "What have you learned?"

What had I learned? I learned that I can't count on myself to act correctly when I'm overwhelmed by stress. I learned that sometimes I might yell at my kids--even though I had not done that before. I learned that I'm miserable and insecure when the episodes come. I learned that I sort of hate myself.

Therapist said, No, that wasn't what he meant. He asked me if I'd learned anything else. How had people responded to me? What would I do differently in a similar situation? What did I do to help alleviate the stress?

What did I do to alleviate stress? I talked with my kids, specifically Adam, as he seemed to trigger more negative emotions simply because he was nearing the age that David was when he hurt me. We discussed behaviors they have which trigger flashbacks or leave me feeling attacked and talked about alternatives when situations arise that in which those behaviors might be exhibited. We talked about things we could do to build our relationships, so that we felt safe enough to talk about things without attacking one another. Mostly, I just made sure they know I love them. And Darrin and I agreed that we need to spend more time one-on-one, so he knows where I am emotionally and can help as needed.

Side note: This discussion made me feel inadequate as a parent and completely miserable. My children are not responsible for my PTSD. It makes me angry that it's a part of their lives.

What would I do differently? I told Therapist I'd like to dig a PTSD hole and just stay there until the symptoms pass. He suggested that would be ineffective. I said I still needed to think about this question.

How had people responded to me? With more love that I deserve, certainly. There was a great deal of kindness given me. No one was angry.

Prior to visiting with Therapist last week, I returned to the assignments I had been putting off because they were uncomfortable or scary. And I did quite a few of them. The result of this brought realizations I had been avoiding, but which needed to be acknowledged.

And so, I am here, once again. I see Therapist for a three week check in about two weeks. I'm unhappy that I still need him. I'm unhappy that I still need anyone. But I'm feeling positive about this for the first time in many months. And I'm on my third week of few or no PTSD symptoms.

And now I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I had no idea this really would help. The assignment was my idea, not Therapist's--he just said, yes, do it--as soon as possible.

I'm amazed. I'm not sure why this is helping. It's simply a retelling of things I've already said, with the added perk of talking about my feelings...

And while I don't understand, I'm loving the fact that I've had no/none/nada/zero/zip PTSD episodes in the past three weeks, and no panic attacks in the last week.

Writing the past few posts has been painful--so much that in a couple of places I was physically ill to the point of losing the contents of my stomach. And there are times I feel myself hyperventilating as I talk of things that are pretty stressful to recall.

But I'm doing it.

And as I do so, I feel better.

This is so weird.

Pre-Therapy Samantha

I will not go into details here about my religious conversion process. This is something I share with few people, and then only if it serves some purpose. I've found that if I discuss this topic, which is extremely important to me, it opens up unwanted debate from various commentors, and truly, my beliefs are no longer debatable, so any dialogue about them is pointless. I have also discussed in various posts what brought me to marry Darrin, and what has kept me by his side for more than half of my life. I will not talk about that topic in this post either. Although the two topics I have mentioned are monumental, they are not pertinent to this particular therapy assignment.

In my new found independence I was befriended by a young man I will call Jacob. For the first time I found myself loving a man and not wishing to hurt him. He was gentle and sweet and treated me with respect. He had a delightful sense of humor. He was 21 and preparing to serve a mission. As we became friends I asked him why he was serving a mission, and why he had delayed it. He simply replied that at age 19 he had not been prepared to serve, nor did he want to. Now he did. He was not embarrassed nor uncomfortable. He simply stated his case and closed the subject. Having grown up in a community where not serving a mission at 19 usually indicated some heinous sin (at least, that's what everyone said), I was impressed by his dignity and calm as he answered me.

Jacob and I became fast friends. We were, in the eyes of the other young adults, a "couple". We went on dates. We went camping with our friends. We made sure our days off coincided so we could spend time together. Jacob made me feel calm. We spent hours together, but we didn't always talk. We worked in the National Forests and sometimes we simply walked in the beauty surrounding us, or sat together watching a wild animal or a sunset. Because he was completely non-threatening to me, I allowed him to hold my hand, to cuddle me, even to kiss me occasionally. It didn't feel sexual to me, and he was planning to go on a mission in a few months, so I had no reason to believe he would try to make more of our physical contact than I did. In truth, touching him made me feel calm and quiet inside. For the first time I could remember, I felt safe with another person.

Jacob took me home on weekends to meet his family--I took him to meet mine. When I left for school I was deeply saddened that he would no longer be with me. We continued to connect through phone calls and letters until the week of his departure. I visited him at home the week before he left, at which time he told me he hoped I would still be around when he came home from his mission, and talked about marriage. I was astounded. I had just turned 18. He was 22. He seemed thousands of years older than I. Marriage had never entered my mind--it never did, actually.

I think I told Jacob something about feeling that "waiting" for a missionary had never seemed a good idea to me. I said that he would be learning and growing, and I needed to do the same. I mentioned our age difference, commenting that he had a four-year head start when it came to dating and pairing off. Then I said I wanted him to serve his mission without even thinking of me--completely committed to the Lord. He listened calmly. He said, "You're not in love with me, are you?" I told him I didn't think so. He nodded. Then he held me close to him for a long time. When he let me go he said, "I have three requests: 1. Please write to me while I'm gone. 2. Promise me that if you're still around when I get back that we can have at least one date. 3. If you get married while I'm gone, please send me an invitation." Then he kissed me and I realized I could never love him as he wished to be loved. It made me horribly sad.

I wrote to Jacob religiously. I sent care packages and funny cards. In the meantime, I was enjoying my first year of college. I ended up, after an unfortunate shuffle, in a room with five incredibly wonderful girls. Two were odd, brainy, and lovable. Two were apostate, wildly fun, and lovable. The fifth was my room roommate. She was adorable and appalling. Adorable because she was very cute, had a lovely body, and a delightful giggle. Appalling because she was clueless about life, danced in her bra, panties, and legwarmers before our picture window facing the men's dorms, and because she was spoiled and charming at once. The other five of us vacillated between amusement and exasperation when dealing with her.

My year with those roommates was the most joyful time I had yet experienced in my life. My mother no longer abused me, I felt absolutely safe with five other people, and my Home Evening brothers were wonderful. They teased, played, and protected us. I had never had brothers before. It felt amazing.

My roommates decided I needed to start dating. I told them I was fine being alone. One roommate said she insisted. Another roommate said I must. A third roommate said I was missing out. A fourth roommate said I was being selfish--that I needed to share my fabulous self with the men (I'm not kidding, she really said that). My room roommate--the dancer--said I had lovely eyes and did it look cool when she stood in this dance pose?

So I began dating, against my better judgment. And dating at BYU, at least for me, meant that I encountered more men than I wished, and three of them had revelations that I was "The One." I laughed. I couldn't help it. I don't believe in "The One", and really, two dates will not allow any couple to get to know one another. I also let them know that I had no plans to ever marry--EVER. At BYU those are fighting words. Suddenly, I found myself being proselyted by return missionaries who knew the institution of eternal marriage was true. Normally I would have been irritated by them. At that point in my life I was happy enough that I just giggled and told them to go away--which was ineffective, of course.

I felt attracted to my room roommate, which was awkward for me, but at the same time I was repelled by her utter lack of logic and self-absorption, which made things much easier. My two heathen roommates were fascinated by lesbianism and had posters of famous lesbians on their walls. I sometimes wondered what they would do if they realized they lived with one. No doubt they would think it the "...coolest thing EVER!!" Somehow, knowing that they would accept me in any instance was incredibly affirming. My two odd, but brainy roommates were so much fun. One of them mothered me incessantly, making certain I was eating, waking me up for church, asking if I was doing well in my classes...I adored her. The other spent time with me dreaming up unusual pastimes, like sculpting with roasted marshmallows or rearranging the furniture in awkward formations (she was an art major). I adored her, as well.

My second year of college brought me to a new off-campus apartment, and four new roommates. I had a huge wake-up call that year. One of my new roommates was an anorexic/bulimic in the advanced stages of the disorder. She was 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighed 98 pounds. I weighed 95 pounds, and was eight inches shorter. She had difficulty framing sentences, she walked slowly to conserve energy, her breakfast consisted of half a banana, lunch was a glass of water and a bite of lunch meat, dinner was a bowl of cereal--which she would puke up when she was finished eating it. I recognized in her what I could become.

Not willing to get counseling, I began reading everything I could find about eating disorders. I began planning meals, exercising in healthy amounts, and trying to get adequate nutrition. At that time in my life my own breakfast was an apple, lunch was an apple, and dinner was usually a bowl of cereal, unless I went out with my friends and we ate somewhere--then I would have a salad. Trying to make my body eat again was grueling, but six months later I was weighing in at 107 pounds and I felt more energetic and healthy. Overall, as long as I stayed away from my family, I felt wonderful.

I met Darrin during my first year of college. I married him a year later.

Married life was a huge challenge for me. Darrin was so much fun, and I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone, but it was still difficult to navigate the sexual parts of marriage. I believe I concentrated on that more than anything else at that time, because my grades began to drop. Darrin's did, as well. We left BYU when he was put on academic probation and went to live and work in California for a while.

The move to California was not good for me. There were too many people. I was too insecure. Marriage was still difficult. Darrin got a job immediately, but I hopped through about four before finding some I enjoyed. I was an in-home tutor, a substitute teacher (grades k-12), and I taught spoken English to Japanese students. I would substitute in the schools during the day, tutor in the afternoons and evenings, and work with the Japanese students in the summer months. During that time I learned to work with people of all ages without fear. I learned how to establish safe boundaries (although my "safe" boundaries meant not allowing any person to connect with me emotionally). I began to enjoy my time in California as I became a confident person I liked.

My parents contacted Darrin and I sporadically. From the day I left home, my contact with my family had been fairly sparse. I heard from them every three or four months if I called, or a couple of times each year if I left it up to them. My father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness when I was 16. His health had continued to fail. My family had moved to live near a state university so that my mother could get her degree in order to support the family in the event of my father's death. After nearly five years away from them, I had decided it was time for me to make peace with my parents. Darrin agreed that we could move closer to them and go to school once again.

Darrin and my father became very close friends, and my relationship with my dad deepened. I rarely saw my mother, who was in classes most of the time--and neither did my younger siblings. Darrin and I spent lots of time with my sisters and brothers, as well as with my father. They became the complete social focus of our lives. Darrin had never enjoyed a relationship with his own father--mine became his surrogate. During this time my father found a doctor who identified his illness correctly, let us know it was not terminal, and put my dad on a path to help him cope with the pain and physical ailments of his chronic condition.

As time passed, I developed a new persona. I was funny and cordial. I entertained. I smiled. I wrapped myself in layer after layer of denial and numbness. I convinced everyone around me that my life was trouble free and absolutely joyful. I found ways to connect with my mother and develop a friendship with her. I bore three children, finished three college degrees, and trained to become a financial advisor. I started three businesses--all successful. I was, to all intents and purposes, perfectly content.

I was also perfectly isolated. I allowed no one to be close to me except for Darrin. I avoided one-on-one social contacts with women. I had many "medium" friends, but none of them knew anything about me because I would never talk about myself or share my feelings about things. But still, I felt happy. I had no desire for anything more. I thought my life was complete.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Teen Samantha

I spent my seventh grade year trying to figure out what the heck had happened to me. I developed anorexia and began self-harm habits. School was a nightmare. I seemed to have nothing in common with my former friends. I was frightened out of my mind of all boys and most men. I was confused about the heterosexual impulses of my classmates. I spent much of the year at home, in bed, too ill to do more than read.

During the summer I worked on the jobs assigned to me, then fled to the mountains to find peace. My mother harped constantly on me about my weight (which fluctuated between 75 and 80 pounds). My body was continuing to develop--there seemed to be nothing I could do to stop it--but as it developed, the verbal and emotional abuse from my mother escalated.

During the first week of my eighth grade year, a group of seven young women befriended me. I'm not sure why they found me, but they became my salvation. They invited me to their homes, kept me company at lunch, and never allowed me to be alone. They encouraged me to eat, to talk, to laugh. The year passed pleasantly. For the first time I began to feel that I would recover.

My Freshman year of high school I discovered that joining competitive teams and music groups caused me to have to stay after school for practices. The bus which brought me home arrived around 7:30 p.m., which meant I left for school at 6:45 a.m. and only encountered my mother for a couple of hours at night. Competing also meant I was gone most weekends--another huge perk.

Simultaneously, I encountered the lesbian culture and was certain that I had come home. For whatever reason, I'd been given a brief reprieve from my mother's abuse. She had momentarily lost interest in me. I was able to come and go as I pleased which allowed me to investigate what a teen romance lesbian style meant.

In all of this, I had suddenly become deeply angry. I was angry that God had not saved me somehow. I was angry that my mother hurt me. I was angry that my father didn't care that I was abused (although, I know he did care, he just didn't know). I was determined to leave every part of my religion behind (because I could see no benefit in it for me). I began investigating every religion I could find on earth including atheism, paganism, and satanism. I looked into Eastern religions. I read everything I could find.

I began seeking out young men who seemed interested in me. My sole purpose in finding these young men was to hurt back in some way. I held them and all men responsible for the pain in my life. I entered emotional relationships with boys, waited for them to become attached to me, kissed and cuddled, then did whatever I could to hurt them. There was a dreadful satisfaction in watching their confusion and pain.

My mother had sought help for her depression and abusive behaviors during this time. She tried to make amends with me. I am told that she took my sisters and I to lunch often. I know she gave me gifts. I'm told that I was uncommunicative and sullen when we went out with our mother. I have no memory of this. I've tried to remember. My brain is not cooperating.

During my Junior year of high school I determined that I could only be happy if I left my home. I began to take steps to ascertain fiscal independence. I worked whenever I could and saved money like crazy. I knew my grades and test scores would procure me a scholarship at the college of my choice. I continued these preparations until the day I graduated. One week after graduation I presented my Senior recital. The following week I arrived at my summer job, 100 miles from my home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Adolescent Samantha

Warning: This post will be graphic. Probably, if you read my blog regularly, this is something you'll want to skip.

In my sixth grade year I met Pam. There were only six girls in my class. Four of them had decided that boys were their only reason for existing. Pam was different. She never smiled. She wore one of two windbreakers every day. I had no idea what her clothes looked like. She didn't talk. I wanted her to smile. I wanted her to talk to me. She hunched over constantly and always looked as though she was flinching away from people. But Pam went to church in my ward, so I began talking to her. She rarely answered. I kept talking. Finally, one day, I said something that made her laugh. From that moment we were friends. I invited her to stay with me, which she did often. When she was in our home my mother rarely yelled and we all seemed to cooperate with each other. Pam brought joy with her.

The summer after sixth grade my parents arranged to have Pam live with us. She was, in every sense, our sister. Sister #1 and I made room for her in our bedroom. I slept better when she was there. My nightmares occurred less often. For nearly a month I was at peace.

In June my parents invited cousins Jeff and David to come live with us for the summer and help with the farm. I was uneasy, but because Pam was living with us, somehow I felt everything would be fine. Jeff and David arrived. I was thrilled that Jeff was living with us. I avoided David.

But David seemed to want to be my friend. He spent time with me. He asked about the books I was reading, took walks with me, and acted as if he loved being with me. I was flattered. After all, David was fifteen, and I was not yet twelve. I assumed he was amazed by my stunning intellect.

When David began giving me hugs, or sitting with his arm around me, I was happy. It felt nice to have someone touch me--I could not remember being hugged or touched by an older person--ever. I trusted him. One day I talked to David about what had happened two years earlier. I asked if he remembered. He did. I told him I had been frightened and sad. He put his arm around me and cuddled me close to him. He said he was sorry, and he hoped I would forgive him. I did. I knew he cared about me.

David's physical affection became more frequent. I began to feel uncomfortable with it. He would touch me whenever possible. If we were alone, he would hold my hand. He talked of things he would like to do with me. Most of the things I didn't understand. He told me my body was becoming "sexy". I thought he was joking, so I laughed. I was barely beginning to develop--and I didn't like the changes in my body. My mother had begun telling me I needed to lose weight. I would step on the scale--70 pounds. I wondered how much I should weigh. I watched every piece of food that went into my mouth and skipped meals regularly. My mother approved.

David began kissing me whenever we were alone. I didn't want that, but at this point I wanted David to be my friend. He was the only one who hugged me. He said nice things to me. He told me kissing meant we loved each other--and I did love him. He told me people who love each other like to touch one another. And I wanted him to hold me, I wanted my hair stroked, I wanted to be hugged. So I allowed him to kiss me, fighting the panic and nausea each kiss evoked. I didn't want him to go away, and I would do almost anything to keep him as a friend.

One day David opened his wallet and showed me a condom. He said his father had given it to him, "...just in case..." In case of what? I asked him. He smiled at me and laughed a little. I laughed, too. I had no idea what the condom was for, nor did I know why we were laughing. A few nights later, David came to my bedroom. I asked what he wanted. He came into my bed and held me. I fell asleep in his arms. When I woke the next morning, he was gone.

It became normal for David to visit me at night. He would kiss me and stroke my back. I knew he should not be there. I feared if I told him to leave that he would be angry. And I still felt the need to keep his friendship. He told me often that he loved me. No one else said that. I wanted to be loved.

One night David began touching my breasts. In alarm, I sat up and told him to stop. He hugged me to him and said he wasn't trying to hurt me, he just wanted to be close to me. He asked if I wanted that to. I did. He said we couldn't be close unless I allowed him to touch me as he needed to. I was confused and frightened. He began kissing me and pulling at my clothes. When I resisted, he straddled me, restraining my arms with one hand. He was much larger than I. His hands were rough, hurting my small body. He told me to be quiet, saying that if we were found, I'd get in trouble. Remembering my father's anger when the man had molested me in the bathroom, I knew David was right. In shock and horror I allowed him to touch me, to show me, once again, the condom, to watch as he replaced it in his wallet, saying we probably didn't need it. Continuous shudders wracked my frame as he touched me in places that terrified me. Then he took my arms, pinned them above my head, and forced himself inside me. One hand held my hands in place, the other covered my mouth as I tried not to scream. I had never felt such pain. It came again and again as he moved above me. Every part of me ached. Finally, he released my bruised wrists, moved his hand from my mouth, and collapsed on top of me. His weight more than doubled mine. I couldn't breath. I felt wretched, but lay completely still, frightened that he would hurt me again. Moments later he stood, retrieved his clothes, and walked out of my room.

Gasping with pain, I wept. Slowly, I climbed from my bed and turned on my lamp, careful to keep it turned from my sisters who were sleeping in the same room. I glanced at my bed and saw my own blood on the sheets, mixed with a fluid I could not identify. It had an odor that made me shudder. I quietly pulled the sheets from my bed, wrapped my discarded clothing in them, gathered clean underwear and a night shirt, and walked downstairs. I went to the laundry room, and as quietly as I could, put the sheets and my clothes into the washer and started it. I went to the linen closet to get clean sheets and a towel. In the bathroom I found a wash cloth and began to scrub my genitals. They were bruised and painful. I didn't care. I wanted his smell to come off me. I wanted to be clean.

The enormity of what had happened began to fill my head. Overwhelmed I slid to the bathroom floor, shaking with pain and fatigue, and rocked myself. I have no idea how long I sat there. Finally, I cleaned myself one more time, dressed, and went upstairs. I forced myself to put the clean sheets on my bed, but I was too tired to do more than that. I wrapped myself in my blankets and lay down. I slept fitfully, afraid my cousin would come back, grateful when he didn't.

The next day, David acted as if nothing had happened. For two more days he spent time with me whenever possible, hugging me, talking with me. I felt incredible fear toward him. He knew this--it seemed to make him feel powerful. Two or three nights weekly, he would visit me, rape me, and leave me to clean up whatever was left behind. With all my heart, I wished someone would come help me. David told me this was happening because I wanted it. Eventually, I believed it truly was my fault and that I was powerless to stop it.

After three weeks I stopped crying. The pain was the same, but I was prepared for it. I no longer fought back or reacted in any way. This seemed to infuriate David. His assaults became more imaginitive as he thought of different ways to rape me. I no longer cared. I waited until he was finished, then cleaned up after he left. I stopped talking to family members during the day. I rarely laughed. I escaped whenever possible to walk in the mountains.

Jeff and Pam knew something was bothering me. They tried to help me feel better. In late July, Jeff became ill and went home. Pam went to visit her aunt. I was left with David. My mother, not understanding why I would no longer talk or participate in family events, became more abusive. I didn't care. Nothing could penetrate the constant pain I felt emotionally and physically.

One day in August I sat in my bedroom. David came up the stairs. He said he was going home. He said he would miss me. He hugged me. I said nothing. He asked if I would miss him. Still I said nothing. He shook me and asked me to answer him. I wouldn't look at him. In disgust, he pushed me back on my bed and walked away. I lay there and for the first time in two months, I laughed. He was finally gone.

I turned twelve three weeks later.

Child Samantha

The age boundaries of this segment start at my birth and end a few months before my twelfth birthday. As instructed by three different therapists, I have taken time to research this part of my life in great depth. I've looked at scrapbooks and interviewed people who knew me. As an interesting coincidence, one of my more recent financial clients is a person who was my neighbor when I was born and lived next to us until I was two years old. I had opportunity to ask him about Child Samantha. To him, I was adorable. When I learned to walk he would leave their apartment door ajar and coax me inside so he could cuddle and play with me. He and his wife were close friends of my parents. He talks of my dark eyelashes and abundant curly hair. He says I was tiny, giggled easily, and he says when I was with them his heart felt glad--something he assures me has not changed.

My earliest memories of Child Samantha, naturally involve being in trouble. I remember hiding under a bed to escape punishment. I remember constant disapproval. I remember being afraid of my mother and at the same time, loving her so much I thought it would consume me. I loved flowers, cats, stories, and green apricots. I climbed trees and ran incessantly. My father was gone most of the time. I remember feeling that I would explode with joy when he came home. He would hold me sometimes, on Saturday mornings, while we ate stale popcorn from the night before and watched cartoons. He chased me, caught me, tickled me and I felt in those moments that nothing bad could ever happen to me.

My mother enrolled me in dance lessons at age two. There was little I loved more. I loved to sing. I learned to read at age three and life became wondrous and amazing. I wanted to know everything. My father taught me to play Chess at age five. We played nightly for a week--and then I beat him. From that point on, I had to beg to get him to play with me. I loved the babies that came into our home. Three little sisters were born in that time. I played with them, dressed them, fixed their hair, introduced them to nursery rhymes, poetry, and my favorite stories.

Through all of this, I yearned for my mother to acknowledge that she loved me. I told her often. I sat next to her in church, wishing to be cuddled as my younger sisters were--as my older sister was. I asked her to bake with me, play with me, sing with me. She tried--I have to admit that--but it was obviously difficult for her.

At four years of age I was molested for the first time. My age dictates that my memory of this is not clear. I remember going to the restroom at church. An older female person was there--she may have been anywhere from 15 to 50-- four-year-olds have difficulty understanding age. She turned out the bathroom lights, removed my clothing and began to touch my genitals. I remember feeling trapped and afraid. I remember being left alone. She turned on the lights as she left the restroom. I dressed and returned to my family. I don't remember telling anyone. I'm not sure I had the ability to do so.

I fell in love for the first time when I was six. She was my Primary teacher, and I thought she was the most beautiful creature ever known. And she loved me back. I knew it. She saw me every Wednesday for our Primary class, and she always asked me to read or help with pictures. And on Sundays she held me on her lap during Sacrament Meeting. She hugged me and kissed me and told me I was the sweetest friend she had ever had. Then, one day in Primary she told us she had wonderful news. She was engaged to be married. She told us all about her fiance. She laughed and sparkled and let us know how happy she was. She also let us know that she would be moving after the wedding, so she wouldn't be our Primary teacher anymore. Then she gave us each an invitation to her reception. I took the invitation, walked out of the classroom, and ran home crying. I think I wept for hours. I realized that even if she loved me, it wasn't in the way that she loved her fiance. She wasn't mine. It ached terribly. I still have the wedding announcement/invitation. I still think she's beautiful. In some ways, perhaps, I'm still in love with her as only a six-year-old can be in love.

At age eight I was molested for the second time. Once again it happened in a church bathroom. I was at a church basketball game. A man followed me into the restroom. I heard him come in after me and turned to see who it was. I knew immediately that I was in trouble. He grabbed me and put his hand over my mouth, holding me between his legs as he roughly undressed me. I fought him in every way that I could. As he began to fondle me, I bit him. He released me and I grabbed my clothes, putting them on as quickly as I could. He watched me dress. As I ran from the bathroom I heard him say, "Don't you tell your dad!" I paused and screamed at him, "I will tell my dad! You're going to be sorry!" I ran to my father. I leaned against him, shaking and frightened out of my mind. Finally, I told him what had happened. I watched rage build inside him. He picked me up, placed me firmly on a chair and told me not to move. Then he left. The reality is that he found the man who had molested me and made certain that man would never touch me again. My reality told me that I was in terrible trouble, that I'd done something horrible to anger my father, and then placed in time-out to think about it. It seemed I was there for an eternity. In that eternity, my poor child-mind gave out. I could not understand any of this. I'd been attacked and hurt, and now I was in trouble. I have no more memory of anything pertaining to the incident after that point. My parents tell me that the next day we met with our bishop and I told him my story. I don't remember. No doubt, I felt he would be angry with me as well. The bishop met with the molester and his family, and supposedly, thereafter, legal action taken which also involved my testimony. Again, my last memory was that my father left me behind when I simply wanted him to hold me and protect me. For the first time in my life I felt abandoned by both parents and unsafe in any instance. The seeds of the idea that I must care for myself had sprouted.

In spite of all this, my eighth year was wonderful. I had many friends. I loved school. I was bright and in an accelerated program which allowed me to learn advanced math and pre-algebra. I developed a crush on a very cute boy...and on several girls, as well. The cute boy was nice to me--perhaps that's why I thought him cute. The cute girls were lovely to look at, and most were my friends. I felt whole and healthy and truly happy in many ways. Then we moved.

My mother's brother and sister and their families came to spend July 4th weekend with us the summer after we moved. We had a large family and a small house. Because sleeping space was limited, nine cousins were sent to the back yard to sleep under the stars. We were all good friends. We were happy to sleep together outside. I was sandwiched between cousin Jeff, my soul mate, and cousin David, an older but still delightful person. We watched for falling stars, discussed the ways our parents mistreated us, thought about going fishing in the morning, and giggled at terribly bad jokes. Eventually, we drifted off to sleep. I was awakened by a sense of danger and a tangible, odd feeling. As I became conscious, I realized that cousin David's hands were not where they should be. They were inside my underwear, touching me in ways they should not. At nine-years-old, I identified the action as "wrong", but had no idea what to do next. I moved away from him as much as possible, and he removed his hands. After a few minutes, though, he was back, trying to touch me once again. I got up and went indoors to my parents bedroom, where I sat on their bed and cried. They awoke, asked me what was wrong, and allowed me to report on the incident. I wanted them to hold me, to hug me tightly, to tell me they'd take care of me. Instead, they suggested I sleep on the floor of their room for the rest of the night. I found a spare blanket and took a pillow from the couch and tried to sleep. I don't think I did. Mostly, I think I just cried. In the morning, cousin David's family left unexpectedly. I remember nothing more of the weekend.

I have pictures of that holiday, though. I found one of me in ponytails, holding a cake I'd made for the celebration. It was a flag with stripes made of whipped cream and strawberries, and white whipped cream stars peeping out of a square of solid blueberries. There is another of me smiling with Jeff as we roasted marshmallows, and one of me holding my baby brother. Somewhere is a picture of me flying over the can to free the prisoners in our game of Kick-the-can. I don't remember it.

I didn't adjust well to our move. School was unhappy for me. I had become incredibly fearful of boys--and I was at the age when boys seem to be very interested in girls. Innocent "crush" pranks made me feel ill. One boy who decided he like me very much, wrote my name in ball point pen all over his arms and shoes. I was traumatized for days. Another young man followed me around, never saying anything, just watching me. His best friend (also one of my best friends) told me the stare-sessions were because I was "just really, really cute." I wanted to throw up. Bus rides to school were not fun. Older boys, who had overheard the "really cute" remark, began calling me "cutie". I responded by running away and hiding whenever possible. The teachers thought it innocent, even funny. I found myself having terrifying dreams in which my mother put me on display for scary boys to see, then left me to run from them while they chased me through the night, trying to remove my clothes and touch me in inappropriate ways. In sixth grade I watched as my girl friends experimented with kissing boys and holding hands and holding hands with them. I wanted no part of it.

Summers were wonderful. I spent days driving tractors, playing with my dog and cats, watching ducks hatch, and swimming in our canal. Cousin David didn't visit again until I was eleven, but cousin Jeff and I became wonderful friends and inseparable playmates. When they visited, we would sneak out of the house early in the morning, before my mother started her daily yelling. We would take a lunch of sorts (usually some bread and raspberries, and whatever candy we could find), and stay away until dinnertime. In those moment, I felt safe. I felt happy.