Broken Windows and Drowning in the Pond of Doom (Trigger Warning)

I live in a haunted house, which is a bit weird as I also live in a one bedroom apartment. Yet this house will always be where I live too. It is the scene of horrors untold, it is also a place where I buried things. The place I stood outside my house, while watching the windows shatter, near that pond with a terrifying icey Ophelia with my face also is a place where things are buried. I know this house. I lived there.

I didn’t realize this was the house on William’s street from Estancia until the windows broke and I could actually remember the house and go inside my mental domicile. The wallpaper is less faded in my head than in reality. Where had I been standing? In my secret place that everyone knew about. Between the gate and the lilacs, staring into the windows that I dreamed of, not that were real. This is the house my mother moved us into when marrying one of her now ex husbands, this is the house where my sister and I shared a space and I had to fight for her life. This is also the place where in a few short years outside my bedroom door, instead of a window I had a door that couldn’t be secured. Of course I went insane from lack of sleep… yet outside this door was a house sized lilac bush, which always bloomed, a butterfly bush, tulips, irises, and every pet we had. Some were killed by disease, neglect, cars, but most by Grandma.

It was in this garden I found myself trapped by my fears for Nymph. Yet it was through that door that I entered this house consciously for the first time since we left it. I had locked away memories and the feelings I hadn’t known how to handle. Mostly sad things, a few happy things, not one spot of anger was in this dusty haunted house. What haunts it so? The lost little girl adrift in this great big world trying to understand why it hurts so much. This house is haunted by my unshed tears, by the pain that I couldn’t take. It is a house built out of repressed memories.

I was wrong, this house is not terrifying, and once the window broke and i opened the door it turns out to be just a sad place. It is a place where hopes were born, dreams were killed, it is a place where I had thought I was the world’s largest failure because I couldn’t stop a literal giant of a man (6 feet 6 inches) from raping my mother. As that is a 15 year old’s duty. I knew he was going to hurt her and I obeyed her as she told me to leave the house. A part of me knows she thought to protect me too, but most of me wonders if she believed my warning or if this house of memories will hold more moments where I am like the mythical Cassandra, right but wronged. Never hear, only believed once people are laying dead.

In this house, I find memories of my Sensei, lost to me until I opened that damned door. I find silence too. There is no one else here. Most of the memories until I want to access them are still pictures scattered over the dusty and broken floor. There are elements of furniture, the bed where my step father killed my cats and stuffed them under it because I had told him I didn’t want to do something. The mirror that fell and broke cutting his femoral artery. My wishes are there engraved in his blood for his death.

In this house there are ghosts too, they are quiet. Most ghosts are. People see them rather than hear them. There she is, in the front window, her big eyes staring out into the endless night. She is waiting for her father to come and take her to visit. She feels utter terror. She would piss herself with fear if she had learned long ago that only meant she would be wet and beaten harder. She also feels a terrible gnawing sensation, she wants him to come because if he shows up this time, it means he loves her after all.

Then there are the ghosts of them, my family. I see my sister and her friends smoking pot, a memory I had. I see however from outside in the moments before I take a toke and end up unconscious and not breathing, and kicked into a corner left to die. I see my sister’s face. I see that she’s just afraid to feel. I see as I am passing out that she is as scared as her friends. I wonder now why instead of going for help she chose probable death for me.

I see that first time I was pushed down the stairs to the basement by a “ghost” too. Except that I can see the ghost. It’s my step father. He wanted me dead. He pushed my mother to choose between he and I, and she chose him. I wonder if she regrets it. I see in the memory as I start to fall, his anger when I am balanced by a cat. The other ghost in my memory. A cat that couldn’t be, because this is a cat I never remembered before. I see him kill her.

It is after that, that I had started trying to kill him. In this house are other rooms from other houses, other places exist outside. It turns out this is the landscape of my suppressed memories. They aren’t in the same plane as my other memories which are full color. These are black and white sepia dreams of silence, no music, just breathing if anything, a periodic gasp, it is all looks and body language. The small smile when someone made pain happen. It is all this overwhelming sadness.

This house is my loneliness growing up, and sometimes now. This house is my suicide. This house is my homicide. This house is my desire for patricide, matricide, and siblingcide. I am sure there is a better word for that. This house is when I became a wild child. This house is the first time I saw my sensei cry because he knew I was hurting. This house is my rapes. This house holds the key to everything I couldn’t quite understand.

This house holds no god. This house holds no future. I feared it, because I knew deep down inside it would bring me more sorrow. So I look into the pond again, and the face before me is no longer my own. It is that of the child I once was. I kneel over the cracks and whisper to her, to me, that it’s okay to thaw. You see, this is that stolen innocence, drowned by rage and hatred. This part of me under the ice is there because that was the only way to survive. It wasn’t about being an alien robot like I told myself, it was just about not hurting so much so that I could go on. It was about no one believing me that my mother is a serial monster marrying monster.

In that house are the times my brother raped me. My grandmother strangled me. In that house is terror, but terror is not scary for me. That seems sort of ironic. It is this child under glass, I am not so sure it is ice after all. She is sleeping beauty, snow white, she is a fairy tale. She lays there staring up at me but her eyes don’t see me. She is trapped in that moment, the moment lost for all time where I could have been. She is my potential. Potential is never lost, but often buried.

So as I stare at Ophelia in the pond, girl under glass, frozen in time I realize. All along I have been the fairy princess. All along I have been the warrior woman. I am like Jean D’Arc. I am a super hero. I am the perfect woman. I am the strong man. I am the bearded lady. I am the freak. I am all my dreams. I cannot leave this haunted house, yet I already did. A part of me is buried with all those things I never had and all those loves I lost.

I lay on the ice and stare at her. She doesn’t breathe or move. Perhaps Innocent Ophelia is dead after all. Her eyes open, her skin pale, there is no color in her face, and it looks to me as if she has actually resurfaced, this pond didn’t hold her before. It could be that though this ice won’t break by it cracking I reclaimed the part of myself that I needed to. I forgave the part of me that wasn’t able to protect my mother from her own actions. I forgave the part of me that was a child and therefore couldn’t stop Grandma from being used as a murderer of pets, as a punishment for loving.

I feel whole. I don’t feel shattered or broken, I don’t feel a stabbing emptiness when I think of memories or these things. I feel the hole I have fought to plug in a myriad of self destructions, millions of atomic bombs to mutate my self failing and destroying, is filled. Oh, I feel sorrow. I feel grief. I will feel anger, I will feel rage. I still feel joy. Oh yes, joy. Because I remember. These silent films, still images, photographs on the dusty wooden floor? If I look at them, I can touch the memory without the pain.

If I didn’t know better I would think my PTSD was cured and I could “move on” with life. Except that I cannot ever leave this haunted house. I can add a yard, I can add a memory but the house is my head. I have continued to build around it, and now I can go wherever I please. So I walk out again, I don’t want to live in memories and sorrow. I leave the princess of ice behind in her silent night.

I stop at the gate, I look behind me at the ghosts, I take a breath and I walk into the world of color. I walk into the thoughts of my future and dreams. It is here that I am writing a book, it is here that I am laughing with my friends, it is here that I am Batman. It is here that I get to kiss the girl, it is here that I get to be whoever I dream of. It is here that I am also living in the moment. Past is still past. That house will wait for me, I will likely find more hidden rooms too.

As far as Ophelia in the Ice? If she is living, she is me and I am seeing a reflection. If she is dead, I am not, and I am a second person. If she is waiting to be set free it is not her time yet. I am not burying Nymph in that grave yard of pets either, I am merely letting her memories roam. Rose is there too, in these parts of me that are alive.

Someday perhaps I will be able to let that house be in color too but I am not sure I want it to be. It is the house that sorrow built, each board and nail created to survive being disallowed pain. Some of the things that will go into my PTSD book are part of this house. In fact, being told constantly to just move on, is a part of this house.

I see my mother with my adult mind telling my child self to just move on and I realize, she didn’t want me to hurt. She just hasn’t grasped the fact that no one ever just moves on. We may live, we may heal, but you cannot set the memories down and throw them away and be just fine. Instead you must let yourself heal. Moving on is suppression and repression. Healing is doing what you must to survive while preventing the gaping wounds of mind and body from being infected.

A second book that pulls at me is a children’s story. The story of a fairy princess who is also her own hero. She saves the prince, doesn’t slay the dragon but makes friends with it, and in general defies her parents’ ideas at every turn. In my imaginary future for this book there are print outs with different art, girls of each color and body type getting a book with their own image reflected by this heroine. That’s what I wanted. My Sensei gave it to me, though it was much easier to do since I am white, red hair, and beautiful by the standards of society. Still, this was before there were many strong female characters at all, and he found them for me.

I will say that there are rooms in color in that house, just very dusty. These rooms hold the memories of the people who didn’t let me get lost in the maze of conflicting demands made by the adults around me. These are the people who saw me for what I am, or at least a facet of that and guided me. The teachers who taught me things, instead of getting frustrated because I knew how to read and write and had already learned the things they should teach me.

Yet my favorite memories are not in that house. They are memories I have been making in the last year. Some even overlap recent horrors. Yes, I am sad and i feel the emotional pain of even having had a giant house I couldn’t see was there. I feel pain. Yet completed. I know there are missing things, my literal thought as I opened the door was, “Oh, someone stole all the furniture” which tells me there is more coming. Yet I am strong, after all I am the conglomiration of my childhood imaginings, I am a warrior princess alien witch zombie wizard ship who sang sword carrying dragon charmer sex goddess battle master bad ass. So I will wait, I will work on healing old wounds that I did not see before, and I will try to repair the house of Memories.

I will also lay flowers for Ophelia everyday, she may not be what I think she is now, but at least I see that a part of me is a frozen child. It is terrible to be that child, there are flickers of memory. Likely escapees when the ice cracked. I am a damsel in constant distress, yet I save myself. That is the lesson of this house. I have always been alone, yet I have never been alone. I am dichotomy woman, though somehow I doubt that would work as a super hero name. I think I will try sleeping a bit more now, all the word steam has escaped and I feel worn out suddenly. Trying to hold all this back in my mind for so long is exhausting.

There is something odd about this house though, I found no glass on the floor and my mental constructs are always complete with such details, which means that there were never any windows to begin with. It was all in my head. Yes, that’s a joke but it is also truth. The barriers that kept these memories back weren’t something as tangible as all that, just as the memories aren’t as solid as they feel. I can see them, hear them, smell them, and touch them as I described but the sword on the wall won’t cut my hand. It still hurts. So I am reminded by the lack of shards on the floor, to forgive myself and to be gentle with myself. It is natural to forget things that will make it impossible to act for survival. This is how society itself works. You discard information constantly in order to either preserve opinion, hence people who believe things that shock you with their stupidity or they form ideas that are as shocking as what others believe and seem brilliant but unfathomable. Yet it’s the same idea. I am just glad my brain didn’t stab itself, that would’ve given me a real headache.

Rogue Agent (Trigger Warning)

RageOMatic asked me a question on my last post that I had not been able to answer. I was trying to find the answer, and for the last week or so had thought on this daily. Tonight the answer hit me.

First here is the comment that he left:

How do I step out of the cycle on this one, Kat? If I start crying for all the abuse in the world, I’ll never stop crying again. (Ultimately, I think I don’t cry for the same reason you don’t scream…no compelling reason to stop.) How am I supposed to feel? What should I do? How do you need me, an able bodied, white male, to respond to you?

I think the most profound thing you have said to me, so far, is “I am a rogue agent in the cycle of abuse”. Abuse reshapes your soul to either be sheep or wolf, the abused or the abusee. My grandparents, my parents, my older brothers and sisters, all got the same “training” I did to avoid being harmed by being the harmer, but I stepped out of the cycle.

When I read about the pain you are in, emotional and physical, the wolf wakes up. I want to find the abusers and abuse them. You are not my only friend who carries scars on her body and soul from abuse. I want to find people, and choke them. I want to see in their eyes the look they have so frequently caused in others: the moment when one realizes no fight, no strategy, no inner strength, no god, no anything, will save one…only the whim of the abuser.

I know that’s wrong…so I push those thoughts away. Now I have to fight the sheep. the first thing the sheep mindset says is what you describe is only horrible if its true. If you are lying to get attention, then you become someone lying to get attention. That’s disturbing of course, not nearly so disturbing as the truth of what happened to you. It’s so much easier to believe a woman was only abused enough to lie about the abuse, and not so abused as to be accurately describing its toll on her. Then, the second part of the sheep mindset…well even those parts that are true aren’t that bad…because abuse makes you stronger!

And with a snap, I’ve minimalized your pain, and said you are lucky to have it. All three ways, I’m agreeing with the abuser: (1.) Abuse is a good way to motivate people. (2.) It’s the victims moral flaw and not the abuser’s. (3.) It’s good for victim anyway.

First I want to respond to this comment because this comment is so multilayered. Then I will explain how I was given the answer by M, my dear dear friend who often lights the way on my path when I am confused.

First, Abuse does not make you a sheep or a wolf but instead a victim or a predator. Often both. The Sheep and Wolf metaphor is a part of the mind playing into the lies we are told and sometimes tell ourselves to cope with abuse. It’s okay to just be a person, even if it means you are a person that has been hurt.

Stepping out of the cycle of violence is the most dangerous act a victim can make, and frankly I don’t believe that a person who has taken on the role of abuser can stop, because then they are letting go of a mispercieved “power”. This is an opinion I hope is wrong but it is based on my experiences and some of the challenges I faced when I tried to be the abuser. I did make that choice and those memories and choices are the few things in this life I actually and actively regret.

I understand wanting revenge. In fact, I will be upfront with you on this, if I ever meet my exhusband again I will kill him. If my father rises from the dead as a Zombie I am sure as hell going to take him out. If my Grandmother ever speaks to me again she will meet the wall of silence that I have decided is all she deserves from me. For her that is a fate worse than death. Revenge can be a great motivator for changing patterns. It can be the carrot, if I am alive, living well, this torments them.

Revenge can be a reason to not die. It has it’s purpose but revenge cannot be the only reason you live or you start to poison yourself. Eventually you have to find something past it. In fact my statements above are less about revenge and more about protecting myself. I am not going to seek out my exhusband, because that would be self abuse. I will defend myself and if he dies in the process which I beleive would be a necessity, then I am in the right. My father as a zombie? Off with his head. He’d be eating brains, so since I have one, again self defense. With my grandmother, this choice is difficult because I am aware it causes her pain. I decided that minimizing my pain and regret factor is worth her suffering, because in reality nothing I can say or do will stop her fear of dying alone and the cycle of abuse that follows when she realizes that someone may just want something from her, her other fears feeding into her personal cycle.

Another element to wanting to seek and destroy the abusers is two fold. 1. Having been a victim, it protects you from being victimized by them. 2. An element of this is wanting to protect other people. Neither of these things is actually bad, but when you are raised in a world where self preservation is something “sinful” and you are taught to fear it, you will lie to yourself about the why. I still do and have to actively catch myself and correct the thoughts. Knowing someone is hurting at the hands of others hurts because of the human collective. This is why I cry when I hear about bombings, murders, and child abuse. It hurts me emotionally.

In fact I believe that the factors I listed above actually are the cause of this current war in Iraq. The emotions of the people in my country were played with so that abusers could go and hurt people in the name of protection. 9-11 was actually around the time of my self awakening, and I believe that the abuses and lies by the US government played a part in this, because they were the same sort of lies my father told us about other people (specifically people of color or other minority factors).

I don’t think you want to see their pain so much as you want to prevent it, but I may be wrong. However, that was my personal truth, and it may take some digging through the layers of feeling masks to find out what your personal truth is. When feelings are forbidden, it is natural and “healthy” to put a mask on. It’s a survival instinct. It stops being healthy when the situation goes away. Some people perpetuate the abuse because they don’t know how to function without it. Some tell themselves they like or deserve it and seek it out. Then another set of Victims and Abusers come into play.

This is part of stopping the internal cycle that is hard. No one can see your thoughts but you. I had to retrain my reactions to people. On top of this I had to learn to deal with PTSD, and I had to learn things that I know now are basics for small children. No hitting. No biting. Sharing. I still am fairly awful at sharing. I wasn’t just developmentally delayed or socially delayed but my parents emotionally stunted my growth without thought of what this would do for me socially. Social skills are something abusers take away and I am still mastering some of them. (The Autism plays a part in this, but not as much of a part as most people think.)

What you call the sheep mindset is a response to programming. I always called it trying to eject the tapes, because I noticed for me the voices in my head were of my abusers. The lies that I told myself were mine, belonged to my parents. As Victims we first learn to minimize our own pain, and the post you questioned me on was an excercise in not minimizing things. I still did to a level and may someday write part two of that post but I am not there yet. Instead of punishing yourself for “Agreeing with the abuser” try relabeling things. When you think a thought you know is toxic tell yourself to stop and state the truth.

This is a method I think I found in one of my mother’s many self help books. Most of them to me were worthless but I remembered either reading or hearing about this method and it seemed reasonable. I don’t know what I read but what I did was carry around a small notebook, a tiny pen, and I would make a page for every day, then I would make a line for each bad thought I had to correct. The first day I used four of those tiny notebooks at least. Every thought I had was really repetition and regurgitation of abuse. I had to give myself a goal to do this because it is hard. So I told myself that once I went a week without having to correct myself I would get a soda from the school vending machine. Admittedly I had to steal the money to do it so it wasn’t a perfect scheme but it was a goal.

I then had to make the goal realistic and aimed that I would only use one page in a month. It took years. I actually left the school I was in before then, was sent away to a mental hospital, kicked out of that mental hospital, sent to an exclusive school for broken children (my mother’s words), and was allowed to return home before I managed it. That means it took me over two years.

I didn’t realize until last year when I was writing one of the many unpublished things I putter on that I had really taught myself how to think. The cycle of abuse works because we become afraid of thought itself. Thought shows on your face, it brings up those feelings that make the pain come, and so you must only think safe things. Add in an omnipotent being that has hated you from the womb, something you and I share, and you have no reason to actually think or learn or do anything but what you are programmed to do. This is brainwashing. Admitting that makes me want to cry a little, because it’s something else that I know falls into that spot where I want to dismiss it.

Your statement of steps is active abuse, even if you don’t share it and don’t act on it. I will state you are the victim and abuser when this is all in your head, because it hurts you. If I am unaware that you had these thoughts and even with the awareness I am not actually harmed or the harm is much less than what you have as you have then entered your own self hate and punishment cycle, if I am guessing correctly. I still do at times. I am practicing not giving in there, and though I no longer carry around a notebook I still have to stop myself at times. If I am alone sometimes I will shout at myself in the mirror, arguing with those tapes. sometimes seeing that I am really a person and not a valueless fleshpile makes it easier to stop them.

I also want you to keep in mind that the tapes are a part of what makes PTSD work, and I don;’t know if they can ever go away. You may sheer the sheep but wool grows. This is a life long goal and fight.

Now the truths about the lies that you asked about

1. Abuse has never motivated anyone. If anything that omnipresent sense of dread that is in all my memories up until my adulthood and sometimes thereafter made me want to not move, not breathe and live. Abuse is the best demotivator.

2. Sometimes the victims have yet to speak, this would mean that everything is morally bankrupt, and with good people in the world such as you, even when you don’t believe it or M who keeps me from forgetting I am a person on my worst days this cannot be true. There would not be cats like Sprite, there would not be disability benefits, and there would not be medicine if everything was flawed and evil.

3. If it were good for the victim it wouldn’t break people and have people die. This does not mean those victims were weak but instead that they just broke.

Stepping out of the cycle here is possible. I think this is the hardest part of the cycle of abuse. I had to learn to love myself. I could think for myself once I knew I deserved to do so. Not just that I deserved my thoughts but that my thoughts are things of beauty even if there is a bit of tragedy with in many of the experiences I have had.

You are supposed to feel as you feel. Feelings simply are. Anger is not a bad emotion if you do not weaponize it. Anger simply is. My favorite emotion is Joy, and even as I am writing this I feel joy, because by asking these questions you are freeing yourself. You may have to do so again and again but you are trying, and trying is the only way of doing there is. I think the reason I cannot cry is why I don’t scream, but there is a reason to stop. I am just not sure I would know how to do so. The reason to stop is because of life.

And on the last question you ask, respond to me as a person above all. For that is simply who I am. That is who you are too, so remember that. People are fallible, and you will have days when you cannot stop making tick marks, days when you lie about it to yourself and make less than you should, and days when you run out of paper. Then there will be days when you don’t think the toxic thoughts about your worth, and when you can see other people around you through your own eyes.

M helped me find the answers because we were talking about a Patsy Cline Song, and Jonah Hex. Jonah Hex is like us. He is the product of severe abuse and cruelty. He is trying to make the world better in his own way but he is actively stuck in his personal cycle, and has no help getting out because of the judgement of others that take a scar on his face as a sign of his internal wickedness. A scar made by abuse.

When I read Hex I listen to Country Music. The Patsy Cline Song A Church A courtroom and then Goodbye is for me a reference now to my wifetime. My marraige was short, but before it became bitter it was sweet. I really did and DO love my exhusband. I love the parts of him that were good, the parts he chose to throw away.

He tried to devalue me and instead showed me a part of the abuse I was still in. In my life the only nice things I let myself have were investments in the future, so that I could save money in the long term. So my computers are always expensive but they last a long time. (Five years is a looong time in technology and I can jury rig things for a lot longer with this one if I just don’t save anything to my main HDD.) In fact, I so rarely bought anything new for myself and then it was an item of need.

My nice new clothes he took away? I needed them because I had nothing to wear LITERALLY. I am actually about to go buy pants because I need them and again have almost none at all. My shiny new Batgirl statue is a symbol of my being deserving of want. I deserve to want things. Instead of that being a dreadful affliction, a sin, or something bad… it’s okay. I may not buy everything in the world but as with food deprivation, depriving myself of the things I desire causes me to binge.

I can throw away the sales ads from the stores now. I no longer have to try and fit new trash in with old. I am still working on unhoarding my home but it is clean, the only things on the floor are furniture, wheels from my wheelchair, and cat toys. There is no filth, no piles that I have to climb over, and even better? I don’t hate myself for wanting and for the things I have.

Furthermore I also have something for you and everyone that reads this my dear Rageomatic. Love.

Love is a constant. It is not a weapon. It is not harmful. The idea that love can hurt you is silly. Not everything that has been called love is actually love. If something is called love and it hurts, it is something else. Pain is not beneficial but is a warning of something harmful. It is a sensory antibody. I love. I love everything and everyone. I admit even to loving those that hurt me. Love itself does not mean you have to open the door, open yourself to more pain, but instead the love of yourself is why you can step away from the cycle, and why you are not alone.

When you can love yourself and admit it to yourself, you can give yourself permission for joy. Joy doesn’t fade either but sometimes other feelings occur but that makes the return of joy all the greater.

This is my gift to you, and to myself. Thank you for asking your questions.

Super Cripple #2- Secret Origins Special!

I have spent several years being Super Cripple, I learned how to act like I was perfectly happy even when beaten, tired and exhausted because of a neighbor. This is another one of those happy attempts, yet it is also colored by darkness. I did not even remember him for a long time, my brain shutting down too often, trying to erase my biological father from my life. When I remembered him, it all came back and I cried. I did not just cry but I cried for days, mourning the years without the knowledge of what made me become better than I could have been.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. The clouds were thick in the sky and a blast of lightening caused a loud clap of thunder. I dropped the glass of milk in my hands and spilled it. The cup was fine but I knew my father was going to hurt me. He worked for himself, which really meant he slept all day and all night. I was making lunch and had been going to serve it to him on the couch. I had burned myself during cooking but the food was not burned so it was fine, and I knew that my father would be angry if he found out about the milk. I tried something new. I refilled the glass, carried the plate and cup to him, and then went and cleaned up the spill. Then I told him I had spilled the milk.

The end result was just as violent as the other times I had spilled something. I was also locked outside, because of course telling him meant I had to be hiding the spill, I must have done something worse. I remember being relieved that the tears blended with the rain. My neighbor came home, his car was a bright blue with green accents, a classic 1957 Chevy. I always loved watching his car, imagining what it must be like to ride in it. He stepped out of the car and looked over at me sitting in the rain.

His steps were uneven, he limped and huffed a bit, it sounded as if he hurt. He crouched down and looked me in the eyes. I remember his voice being the first that I had heard which held an accent that did not match the one my own has. I was curious. I was also afraid to answer him. His voice was soft, warm, and inviting, “Are you locked out?” I just nodded. “I can open door?” I shook my head no and squeaked out, “I’m in trouble and he’ll kill you!” I was afraid my father would hurt the nice man. He smelled like candy. I also thought he was as old as the God that I believed in at that time.

He smiled, and I remember noticing how many teeth he had. I thought all old people lost their teeth. He was elderly, he was 74 and I was merely 4. He stood up and took my hand, “We won’t tell him you came with me. When do you get back inside?” I answered, knowing the answer from practice, “When my mommy comes home I go to the back door.” He nodded and we walked to his house. His wife wasn’t home yet, so it was just me and my Sensei. I do not know if I ever learned his name but, I did learn other things.

That first day he did not call me any names for being wet, to him it was logical, a girl is outside her feet will be muddy and she will be wet. Instead he wrapped me in a thick towel that was soft, my skin didn’t burn after touching it. It too smelled sweet. He helped me get my shoes off, taking his own off. “In my house we go barefoot.” I thought this must be heaven. I had died, the lightening and thunder had to have squished my brain.

It was real. He took me into his living room. There was no television set, just an old radio and a lot of books. “You read?” I nodded yes, and he asked another question, one few people think to ask. “You like to read?” I hesitated and answered with words, “Only if I pick, but I am not allowed to pick.” He frowned and left the room. He brought me a yellowed comic book, the cover had a yellow sky, a man in a weird costume with a cape and a pointy headed mask was hanging on a rope, choking someone. “You read this. You not like, we will find you something else.” I nodded and opened up the issue of Detective Comics #27. Not only was this an original and nearly mint copy of the issue with Batman’s origin but he handed it over without hesitation to a sopping wet toddler.

Detective Comics #27 Cover - Batman Swinging on a jump line, guns aimed at him, a bad guy in his grasp. Total awesomeness

Detective Comics #27 Cover - Batman Swinging on a jump line, guns aimed at him, a bad guy in his grasp. Total awesomeness

I delved into the story, and I was hooked. Batman had so many lessons to teach about healing from trauma, even in the Golden Age. Also, suction cups are still awesome because batman walked up walls with them. He interrupted my reading to ask if I liked tomato soup and cheese sandwiches, I had no idea so I shrugged. He smiled and carried in on a silver tray, in fine china bowls with silver spoons two bowls of soup and two sandwhiches without their crusts cut into halves. He had even added some cheddar cheese to the tops of the soup. I put the comic down as he handed me my share and asked him, “Why do you talk funny?”

I was forgetting to be afraid. He felt safe and I liked it here. I did not want to ever leave. “I am from Japan.” I had never heard of Japan and as I ate my soup, which became my favorite thing in the whole world, it still is and remained so even through the suppression of these memories, I listened to his story. It was not happy and yet, it shaped him into the kindest soul I had met.

“I was born in a small town outside of Tokyo which is a very big city. My brother had come to the United States a long time before I did, he had a house and wife, and talked often of how Japan sounded on the television. There was also forced enlistment in the army. I would have to leave my wife. I did not know if I could live without her. She and I were forbidden to wed but did, our parents punished us for it by disowning us.” He paused there to explain what being disowned meant, to me it sounded fabulous. “So, I came to America. The war had started, just after getting on a boat to flee my country, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.” He had pulled out a map and was showing me the different locations. I hadn’t even heard of Hawaii before. “American Citizens who might be Japanese were locked in camps.” I knew about concentration camps, my father often referenced how much he wished he could gas us. I hugged him, my very first time hugging a stranger. He held me and finished his story. “One of the soldiers watching our camp, it wasn’t like the other camps in Europe,” Another bit of map pointing for my benefit, “He gave me his son’s comic books after the boy was done. He shared them with us to try and help us endure. I learned to read english, as did many children. This was my first comic book. I still read them.” This man had kept the comic books through an internment camp, through a long life of struggle.

I knew they were valuable based on that. He ruffled my hair, which had dried out and asked if I wanted another sandwich. I did but was afraid to say yes so, instead of lying I just shrugged. He brought me another sandwich. “You are allowed to want more, if you are hungry. I want to share.” I smiled. I don’t know if I ever had before, but, it felt strange. I finished the first issue and a second, he then went to find a third but it was late and my mother’s car drove up. We wet my hair in the sink, it was still raining, and he helped me through his back yard, it was a paradise of flowers, and despite not wanting to leave I went to the back door.

My father had no idea. In my mind as he helped me climb the fence, I was bat girl. I didn’t know batgirl was really in the comics yet, but, I imagined I was swinging through Gotham city which I was then pronouncing Got Ham… Before we parted ways he told me to come back when I needed to. I ate my dinner, and went to bed in silence that night but I had something to imagine. I imagined fighting crime. I imagined how it would feel to be a grown up and a crime fighter. I suddenly wanted to be a cop.

The next day, and the next, I would sneak out when my father took his nap or I would go for refuge if I was punished. Every day he fed me a bowl of tomato soup and we read comic books. Eventually he apologized to me for not having any Wonder Woman comics, because he gave those to his daughter when she entered college. Despite his heritage, the teachings of his culture, he treated me as a human. There was no sexism I could see. His wife had a job, he was retired. I believe he was a teacher, but I do not know. Sometimes we would dress up, the soft bed linens he used would turn into capes and we’d go through an imaginary Gotham City arresting teddy bear villains.

He asked my name many times and I never wanted to tell him. I was afraid, because my father and mother tended to only use my name when I was in trouble. That was often, as I never could please them. My mother was working three jobs, trying to feed us and my father just found fault with my existance. My Sensei, as I began to call him taught me more than just comics or how to imagine and play. He also began teaching me Japanese. He helped me to master the art of chopsticks and gave me etiquette lessons. He taught me to dance as well, sharing things with me from the world he lived in. Giving me glimpses of a golden age of love.

I too recall his hands. They were knotted with arthritis, now I know the rain likely pained him yet it rained often in those years. He never showed his pain, he was always well dressed, kind, and never yelled at me. Not even when I tore a page in Batman #1. He never made me pretend to be Robin, and always liked pretending to be my Alfred. Those hours of kindness turned into days, then years. In that time, I did share my name but instead he gave me my first alternate name. I was to call him Sensei, as I liked the word and gave it to him as a title. He was happy, and held me close telling me he was honored to be my Sensei. I was his Little Lotus. I asked why.

“You are a flower, all children are. A lotus has many layers, it has many petals. Never let anyone tell you what you are or what you can be. Like a lotus you are special, you are good and kind. You are smart, and you will be someone important. As long as someone loves you, and I do Little Lotus, you will be important to the world.”

I never asked again, but I cried. He loved me. I loved him. I was six years old when we got caught. I had already endured rape, molestation and trauma. My neighbor, a teenager, had violated me as had my father. There were times I wanted to reveal that I had my very own Batcave. I kept it a secret. I was afraid, as we sent one man to jail, that my father would send another off to prison.

I testified against the young man, I imagined I was batman, putting a criminal away. It was the only reason I could do it. When he was out on Bail he came and knocked on my window, sticking his hands under to lift it up and tried to get in. I pretended I was batman again. I slammed the window shut and screamed. This was the only time my parents acted as parents should. My father did this to hide his own crimes, my mother out of the true pain she felt at seeing her babies endangered.

The day we were caught was one where my mother came home from work early. She was either fired or just sick, and I did not hear her car. I had fallen asleep with the latest issue of Batman, finished superman and my Sensei was making tea in the kitchen. I woke to hear my mother’s voice screaming, “WHERE IS SHE!?” My name yelled out. I did not think, I thanked my Sensei, slipped my shoes on and went outside. There were accusations, my father grabbed me by my hair. I then saw who was truly Batman. My Sensei came out, removed my father’s hands from me and said quietly, “Little Lotus, go inside.” My parents were shocked, my father sent my mother inside as well, though she tried to follow me.

I locked the door and peered out the window, watching and listening. I could hear every word. My father accused him of being a rapist, a pedophile, and a monster. My sensei pointed out that due to his age he would be unable to rape anyone, and that he enjoyed teaching me how to be a kind and caring adult. He insisted our afternoons continue, stating that we had done this for years. My father went sheet white at that revelation and called him racially unjust terms. He lifted a hand to hit him. My sensei defended himself, blocking the blows and not retaliating. “She is a good girl, you treat her poorly. I see the bruises. I see them. I have reported you many times to DCF.” It was true, no one knew who it was that kept the government coming but I had lied every time.

The argument went on for an hour, in that time my Sensei’s wife came home, finished making the tea and sat with me at the window watching. She was just as influential as my Sensei, and I will always remember how she smelled of Jasmin and how I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world, her long hair mixed with greys and black always was styled nicely and she dressed not for others, but for her own comfort.

That was not the last afternoon of my super hero afternoons, it was merely the only time we were caught. Until we moved away, my parents marraige in tatters I saw him almost daily. We shared the comics, other books, and he continued to teach me how to live. Without him I would have been in more pain. He too taught me ways to heal. Things that stayed in my soul when my mind deleted them to survive.

I started out as an imaginary side kick, and often when I am exhausted I imagine too the sounds of a cape in the wind, the feel of my body dancing with criminals. I am a Super Hero. I am Super Cripple, and this is my origin story.

*Side notes*

DC comics owns the rights to the image used in this post. They are also the inspiration for the post title. As you read this, there may be some comic book references that are slipped in. I am a comic book geek and proudly so. I hope you enjoyed the Secret Origins Special.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Advocacy (Trigger Warning)

In conversation with one of my young friends I had a revelation. This was about thirty seconds ago. Sometimes advocating triggers flashbacks while I am trying to function. My mind lept then to other people who have to self advocate through PTSD symptoms. It isn’t always a flash back. If you do not have PTSD it might be harder for you to understand being jerked around by past trauma. Therefore I am going to explain, and this is why there is a trigger warning on this post. Sometimes reading about PTSD or other issue related things can trigger people.

This is not from the DSM (Diagnostic Manual thingy) but is from my experience. I may leave things out that apply to you or tell you things that don’t. The problem with labels is they are often not enough to truly explain what something means. Lets say someone shoots a gun. My first impulse is to be very still, not breathing, and praying that my father won’t make the shot. Even typing that sentence my head went into the land of fuzz and my chest is tight. I am taking slow breaths to focus and clear my mind. The trigger is not always a gun but just a loud pop. My brain is stuck on certain points of the abuse I suffered, it has a programmed loop that it likes to play. I have warning symptoms for my flashbacks now, and can often circumvent them.

My reality is in jeopardy from these loops. the weakest symptom is a tingle, intense fear, sometimes I start randomly bleeding. Why do I bleed? One theory a psychologist offered is somatic symptomalogy. Basically my body remembers, and it reacts so strongly to what my brain signals, that it thinks it is injured. This adds to the pain I feel. The pain from invisible injuries is far from phantom. I feel it. The next step after that is the sensation that I am floating, I disassociate and can see the entire world, but I am not connected to it. Usually I then go back in time. I see and feel at the same time, from multiple vantage points my father with his brand new gun, me and my siblings on the couch. I feel the cold metal of the gun pressing against my forehead. My nose stings with the tears I cannot shed.

The loud bang comes, I feel the heat of the bullet, my skin is burned by muzzle flash and I feel a horrible pain as the bullet grazes my temple. I don’t move. I don’t scream. I just stare up into that black hole, smoke pouring out of it and avoid looking into my father’s eyes, knowing he is going to be angry that he missed. I hear every word he screams again, how worthless I am, how I should be dead and must have moved. My sister starts to scream, my brother too but I can’t move. I look into his eyes and I see the blackness.

I still do not remember what happens next, though I have been told he decided to shoot at my sister, but I pushed her aside. I just know he tried to shoot his children, sitting on a couch that smelled like pee, and nearly killed his neighbor because the bullet went off. The cops were called but I took the blame. I said I was playing with his gun when it went off. I lied, to survive.

When I come back to myself I always want to vomit. Instead I focus on breathing. If the nausea is really bad I will take some Rolaids. Sometimes now, after years of effort, I let myself cry. Usually I manage a tear but my brain has yet to grasp the concept of tears. If I am not at home, it is worse to recover. At home I control my environment, I have a bed to curl up in, two soft fluffy cats, and my Person can go elsewhere more easily giving me the time I need to recover.

When I am advocating and flash back, I never know what to do. I try different things, and usually they work but the vulnerability can be debilitating. I flashed back my first time having to seriously advocate to that scene. That is why I chose to relate it to try and explain what PTSD is like. I wish I had simpler words but none can encapsulate just how much there is to it. Sometimes the flashes are different, sometimes I am still an adult but I am trapped, it is worse in some ways because I still feel the pain but I am completely aware that my world has vanished. I am never certain if I am going to hurt someone. I have before, but it has been a long time.

That first taste of advocacy was so bitter. The cops came, and one fondled his gun and my brain shut down. I was afraid, in pain and exhausted. I was being yelled at and deprived of my prescription because I needed my service animal. The cops even saw Sprite follow her training. When I flash she has three tasks, beyond her instinct to comfort me. First, she signals to my Person for help. Sometimes a conversation can end it. So she chirruped at the person of the day, and I had to form the words, “I need you to deal with them for me. I can’t.” Then, she helps me to sit. I had to wait fifteen minutes for a chair, I wanted to scream at them but I tried to stay calm. I was hyperventilating, they took this as my being dramatic. Then, she moves to my shoulder. Her instinct is to sit on my chest, but she might get flung there, I do not handle pressure on my chest well even when not panicking or flashing. Her instincts tell her to purr, to rub with just her face against mine. This grounds me.

The police threatened to arrest me if I did not leave the facility. I knew enough to know they couldn’t but they refused to acknowledge that I had rights. I couldn’t fight, but I had to. I chose then to repeat the law over and over. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t see their real faces for half the time. All I saw was my father and his eyes that reflected no light.

What can you do if you have PTSD and are an advocate? Here is the how to portion.

Step 1. Before you get to the point of advocating, have a support structure. This is a difficult process, because not every person can truly understand what it is to lose your reality. You need to have someone you trust availible, at least to call.

Step 2. If you have medications used to treat the symptoms of your PTSD in an emergency make sure to carry them with you, to keep a back up dose with your support person, and to keep your doctors number handy.

Step 3. Create a kit of items that help forestall your flashbacks. Nothing works for me beyond my cat. I can give her the signal she is trained for when i feel the warnings coming and ground. This is all I have right now, beyond my Person. No meds, just those two.

Step 4. Remember to breathe. Sometimes if you focus on just breathing you can help yourself.

Step 5. If you flash back during advocacy, try and focus on the responses that do not match the memory. This has worked for others, pulling them out.

Step 6. Advocate anyway. I did get the illegal policy over turned at the Pharmacy where I was threatened with arrest. I had to fight for a long time to do it, but, they relented. It is worth it even though it you might feel endangered or might BE endangered by your flashbacks.

Step 7. If you have to, stop. This opposes Step 6. Not every incident can be worked through. You might need to call your therapist, you might need to let your support person advocate for you. This is not a failing, this is merely the team network that advocacy should be.

I am glad to write this how to. I never considered how important it could be, but, in my mind my broken back, my asthma, and my failing eyes are not my most dangerous disability. The worst disability I have is PTSD. At times during flashbacks I have hurt myself, my friends, and reliving the painful memories can also cost me emotional, physical, or mental progress.

Keep in mind the time you are most fragile is just after a flash back. Some people can be triggered more easily, often it is easier to react in rage. Do not minimize your pain either. It is okay to cry, scream, and sometimes to just walk away.

I have done all of the above. Not every incident with advocating will cause a flashback either. Most of my time advocating I am left with memories of victory. My first taste of advocacy is as sweet as it is bitter, because I still succeeded, despite my unabiding terror of these men. My greatest cause was also revealed to me. I am actively fighting to get the local police trained in how to deal with enforcing the ADA. I want my rights protected, I do not want to fear being put in jail, dumped out of my wheelchair and my service animal being put into Animal Control’s care.

That was the threat, and so often is. My heart goes out to any other advocates who suffer from PTSD. I know each person’s PTSD is varied, some may not flash back, some might just panic. Others might not be able to stop their flashes. You can still advocate. Just prepare yourself as best you can.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Trigger Warning)

Bette Davis, Joan Crawford…A movie about the horrors disabled people can face with an abuser.

This is one of the most wonderful but horrific films I have ever seen. Joan Crawford plays an actress with a jealous sister who not only tried to kill her but is now her only caregiver. Bette Davis plays all of my worst fears brought to life. She forces Joan to either starve or eat rats, her pet bird, or possibly poisoned food. Their maid, a beautiful African American woman, is the hero in this. It is she who sees the potential for something wrong and refuses to leave the day she is fired, instead insisting on seeing Joan’s character. It is she who saves her from embezzlement, being isolated, beaten, and left to die a slow and horrible death. She was cut off too, no telephone, stuck upstairs, the bell for help taken away. It is horrible to watch.Bette’s performance is that of pure evil, in the loveliest of forms.  The genius of this film is that they use clips of the actresses when they were younger. They build the story up and you feel the pain involved with Joan’s treatment.

This film also highlights the incompetence of others, enabling the abuse. The teller who illegally (possibly not at the time of the film being made) gives cash when a deposit is required. The neighbors who ignore the weak cries for help, though they may not hear. The doctors who ignore the patient’s panicked cry when she could under duress be recanting. I will not spoil the climax of the film, but needless to say, this one touched a nerve. There is murder in this story, no one wins. Hope is torn from the viewer and Joan’s character.

Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman is another film that taps on true life abuses. The abused housewife is not beaten, but is instead told over and over until she believes it that she is insane. His greed is what drives his crimes, polygamy, identity theft, and murder among them. He uses the technology of the day to prove to her she is insane. He too plays on my worst fears. He proves to me that men are evil, a blanket statement that feels utterly true while I watch this movie. It isn’t, but it feels that way. He abuses his wife, publicly and privately humiliating her, forcing her into things that were against her nature.This film was so effective it gave it’s name to an entire term in psychology. Gaslighting is the proper term for causing someone to think they are insane. There is more to this of course, but this is the best I can do to explain right now.

Why am I posting about two films made before my birth? They touched me. They burned my heart up and left me shuddering with memories. They triggered responses in me that were deeper than perhaps intended. I felt the trappedness from my previous experience. I felt the worthlessness of knowing I am wrong at all times, and that my only value to others was at their own pleasure, my own wants and needs coming last. I felt the fists of my father in me again. I felt the harsh words of burden.

I am not a burden, I am not insane, and I am free. I had to chant this at times, the wheelchair a prison during the entire time. I could see even one stair trapping me. I can only remember too well  how few people actually listened when I cried out for help. The cold stabbing feeling of being told my case was not compelling enough to prosecute, that no one wanted to protect a child from  her rapist father.

Caregiver abuse is one of the worst crimes I have ever heard of. Some call it elder abuse, but, elderly folk aren’t the only ones trapped by their bodies. Many are vital and amazingly resiliant. I am posting about these films so that you can perhaps try to feel the things I felt, in lesser measure. These films raise awareness of the plights of the hidden victims in this world. Perhaps even someone you know is enduring secret abuse. You might not be able to save them, but raising awareness even by one, can help them save themselves.

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Be glad you are not so evil, and if you are, may you see your reflection and set your victim free.

  • Polls

  • Ye Olde Archives of Fury

  • Top Rated

  • Top Clicks

    • None