All site contents copyright STEVE TEARE 2019
In March 2019, I (64) and my son, Levi (19), travelled to warm Georgia. There I visited my aging dad, Iwan Dale Teare (87).
He didn’t remember me: Alzheimer’s disease. But Levi thought he did. Dad said few things coherently. When I showed him my picture in a family photo from the early 1970s, he said clearly, “What do you want?”
I hadn’t seen him for over 15 years. I remembered my childhood and I’d come from freezing Palouse, Washington to tell him something important. The visit lasted 45 minutes. His mind was gone – but he was still the same inside. Proud, aggravated, and unenlightened.
I told him, in my last minutes, “I forgive you.” Then I left and put a dozen long-stemmed red roses on my mother’s grave.
I discovered a haunting family secret about my mother – and death.
I felt my situation unchangeable, hopeless, and helpless.
I suffered overwhelming grief for an invisible loss.
My thoughts prevented functioning efficiently.
I experienced fear and emotional distress.
In the spring of 2015, my crippled mother living in Georgia, was 82 years old. She no longer wanted to live because of arthritic pain and blindness and other conditions from age. And so she died.
Soon thereafter, in July, I began having heart palpitations. The extra beats disrupt regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing fluttering or a skipped beat feeling in my chest. I didn’t know why these irregular heart rhythms were happening. I thought I would die soon. I sat in a reclining chair during all July 2015 – and slept there at night, too.
Finally, I was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). These are extra heartbeats beginning in one of the heart’s two lower pumping chambers. They were upsetting and disturbing but wouldn’t kill me. I was told my heart’s electrical nature changed and this annoyance I’d live with the remainder of my life. Beta blocker medication was tried with the negative consequence of deep depression. So those were discontinued.
I then turned 62 that August.
In August, I had a flashback while sleeping. I heard my son’s, Levi (17), quick heavy footfall outside our bedroom. I screamed out in terror thinking my father was in the house. It was disconcerting to everyone. I didn’t know what it meant. It was the beginning of an awakening. The Lord brings all things to our remembrance – both good and evil.
Before the fall 2015, I began therapy for what was thought as complex grief. I continued having heart palpitations. I’d suffered many losses besides the death of my mother including the following events in recent years: 1) my eldest son Nathan was convicted of 3 counts of child rape and sentenced to 25 years in prison (his wife then divorced him), 2) my daughter Karra (18) left our home and the Church and began living with her atheist boyfriend, 3) I lost my job in 2011 and remained unemployed, 4) I was disabled with peripheral neuropathy and walked with a cane, 5) Terrie, my wife, went back to school and became a medical assistant. She became the bread winner for our family.
My despair was overwhelming. I felt desperate and anxious.
I asked my new friend, Cotton Sears, a bishop in Pullman, to give me a priesthood blessing. What I remember most from the blessing was God permitted this experience. The purpose was so I could teach others how to get out of a dead end.
I absolutely was in a dead end. I didn’t know what to do.
Shortly after the blessing, the heart PVCs stopped. My doctor said, “It’s a miracle.” I asked, “Why did they go away? You said they wouldn’t ever stop.” She came close and repeated like I wasn’t getting her message, “It’s a MIRACLE.” I then realized it was a God-sent miracle and related to something hidden deep in my brain triggered by my mothers death.
Cotton and I began attending the Spokane Temple sessions together for over a year every month. Those drives and our talks were healing. And helped me get through what would be revealed during that time.
In January 2016, I went to my first grief group meeting conducted by the Friends of Hospice. Terrie was working for them now. My daily weeping episodes began in October 2015. During that January, I began keeping a journal of my journey. I wrote about the stress pain in my left shoulder and arm. I felt overwhelming despair, fragility, future-less, uncreative, and without identity.
Grief group taught that healing came from an inner strength. I rejected that notion. I believed healing would come from a higher source of external power: from God Himself. The healing power of Jesus Christ was my hope.
During January, my stress was so great I was having fluttering spasms in my left ear canal. At night and during the day, I was gritting my teeth from the stress pain.
Wasn’t the fluttering in my ear canal similar to the fluttering I experienced in my heart? I think so.
When I was a child, my father sexually molested me from age 4 through 7. That’s four years. It wasn’t gentle. It was violent. I was the focus of his rage. It was a form of torture because he was jealous of me.
In many ways, in his mind, if he could get rid of me or crush my spirit, he’d have my mother all to himself for his selfish purposes. In many ways, my mother was his servant. But she retaliated in psychological and sexual manipulation and sometimes even physical battle. Because she manipulated him with sex, he hated her for it. It made him feel weak and vulnerable. This emotion only made his rages worse.
He was jealous because my mother had an unnatural emotional bond with me. As an adult my Dad confessed to me indirectly while advising me. He predicted when my first son Nathan was born that I would feel jealous and that it was perfectly normal behaviour. But I never did feel those emotions. I found it more revealing that he said those things. It revealed his own abnormal jealous emotions. He was trying to “break” me. It worked.
But he wasn’t the only one to admit hidden jealousy, my Mom once said to the Sunday congregation at the Potlatch Branch that she felt jealous of my wife, Terrie, because “Terrie got to be with me all the time.” I remember Terrie and I looking at each other at that moment. I had told Terrie this was the case, but she found it odd and almost incredible. These words confirmed what I had told Terrie about my Mother’s emotional incest. She was a devouring Mother.
I wrote several stories that centered around devouring mother figure or archetype. Vampires, spiders and beasts were their transfigured selves. One poem was called “Tooth and Nipple.” It was about how a mother feeds her child so she can devour it. A cycle of living off a host.
A grown adult being jealous of an infant and child is not normal nor is it perfect. It’s a indicator of emotional and mental illness. My mother’s adult jealousy also indicated her psychological illness.
My mother bonded with me in a twisted way because she was raped as a girl. All I know was it was by a relative. When he was drunk, he would abuse her. She had an understandable hatred and fear of drunks and alcohol. As a teen she said things to me that I later learned are the language of emotional incest. Things like that “she couldn’t live without me” and “how dependent she was upon me.” “How if she was young she would marry me.” She thought I was her purpose for living. It always sounded weird as if she had no value or respect for herself. I became her “love object.” A form of misplaced spiritual-distorted erotomania.
She needed me to fill her “love bucket.” She was empty emotionally. She had little or nothing to give to her children.
The same with my father. He was unable to give emotional comfort to others. He was insensitive, temperamental, and spoiled. He suffered from severe narcissism. He had temper tantrums and uncontrolled rages. My mother told me as an adult that my father was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. After studying the illness, I believe this is the most accurate diagnosis combined with narcissism.
To me, he seemed a raging manic – cycling between mania and euphoria and mild depression. He was as unstable as my mother. But my father was chaotic, impulsive and had somewhat unpredictable dangerous rages. He was intense. His morals and values were situational.
I say, “somewhat unpredictable” because I sensed when he was on edge. For some reason, my mother couldn’t or wouldn’t sense this volatile state and provoked my father either intentionally, subconsciously, or by accident.
But my mother was also narcissistic. She felt everything was about her. She felt people gossiped or conspired against her (paranoia). They both thought they were the center of everything and spectatored their own actions. They were self-conscious. They seemed full of shame.
Mostly my parents felt empty and lost. Both had frequent bouts of irritability. My mother’s fault was of neglect (omission) and my father of abuse (commission).
They both lived in emotional isolation and perpetual dissatisfaction. Both felt they were victims.
My father told me once that Philip Teare, my great-grandfather, died from exhaustion in a mental institution at Mose Lake, Washington. My Granny’s second husband, Richard Wernecke, told my brother Brad, that my Grandpa Mylrea Henry (M.H.) Teare had volatile rages. And I saw Grandpa Teare euphoric once when I was a boy. I was diagnosed as bipolar in my mid-thirties. Only I know the depths of my mania and bizarre behaviors.
It’s now my opinion my father had borderline personality disorder. He seemed only to feel sorrow for himself. He believed that as long as you didn’t get caught, certain wrongful behaviors weren’t a problem. He was gleeful at not getting caught. It was discovery when things became a sin. Cheating and lying were acceptably and justifiable in the name of survival. For example, cheating on ones taxes – if you could get away with it – was fine. Swearing when no religious authority was present was not a problem either. He lived an amoral or relative moral code.
Things were only deemed bad by him if they might harm him. My father was a chronic liar. He believed his own lies and may not have even recognized them as lies but framed them as “truth.”
My parents lived a parasitic, love-hate relationship. They each thought the other was in control of their life and that they couldn’t survive without the other. Both confessed this to me – and my brother Brad – on various occasions in private. They lived two lives. The one version at home which was hell. And the one in public that was all smiles and fake masks of success.
They faked their entire lives and became expert performers at it. A survival tactic they learned as children.
But more hellish than walking around on eggshells and trying to be invisible when my Dad was home – were the things he did to me when I was a boy. He and my mother never confessed or revealed the secret crimes they committed against me. First, my mother didn’t want to know the depths of my abuse and second my father felt they were justified and no crime as long as he wasn’t caught.
The night of discovery was when my father came home drunk. I was in the first grade. I was between 6 and approaching 7. It was before we moved to the other side of Lafayette, Indiana and I started second grade. My mother was emotionally and sexually distant from my Dad. He felt she was withholding her focus on him because of me – or that she felt he was unworthy of her love. This made matters worse.
My mother suffered night terrors. My Dad told me as an adult that my mother saw black figures near her bed and would suddenly awake screaming. I later found out from my Granny (Mom’s mom) that she had the same experiences. And she confirmed my mother’s tales. She saw dark figures, too. They both thought the dark figure was the devil. My mother was superstitious, prejudiced, and extremely afraid of black people. She was told by an enemy the only thing a black man wanted was violating a white woman. She saw blacks as uncontrolled animals. She’d never even seen a black man during her formative years. It was irrational.
I read a book about night terrors while figuring out what was wrong with my brain when I was 30ish. I learned rape victims often hallucinate dark figures near their bed. It was a sure sign of unresolved terror and trauma.
I also know my Mother was frigid. This was apparent because there were sex books in our living-room library with the chapters on frigidity underlined in red pencil. It didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure that one out.
Because of their mutual mental illnesses, my parents were attracted to each other like magnets. Unfortunately, my grandiose father was relatively intelligent (but not wise) and my deprecating mother not either intelligent or wise. She had a medium to low IQ. She just didn’t see things or “get it” as fast as other people. She was naive and gullible. She easily believed strange, superstitious things – and gossip.
As an adult, I called them my dictator dad and my martyr mom. Those were the roles they played. But they often took turns bullying each other. My mother was chronically depressed on many occasions.
My father was clandestinely violent. He would be cruelly violent only if he thought he could get away with it – no witnesses. It was deniable one-on-one violence.
My father as a scientist was a hardcore evolutionist. Not as taught by Darwin who actually observed a creator’s hand in the diversity and complexity of the animal kingdom. Darwin was agnostic but never taught that humans evolved from apes. His idea – and my father’s later in life – was that God created life through evolutionary process. My father believed man at his core was a beast – and had animal needs that must be satisfied. They were uncontrollable in his thinking. This was his “absolute truth.” He believed if he didn’t have sex he would die. An absurdity justified by his idea that men were animals. He embraced ideas of certain uncontrollable behaviors were hardwired into men. It was justification for his sexual deviancy and his uncontrolled rages.
If my mother didn’t provide my father with sex then he felt justified in taking pleasure elsewhere. If he could satisfy rage and passion simultaneously – even better. That notion combined with his hate of me as a child made me the fantasized target of misdirected neurosis. He was a sick man.
Yet, absurdly, he saw mentally ill people as aberrant and deviants needing removal Nazi-style from the gene pool. A purification of the human species with selective adaptation. My mother spoke of mental illness in hushed tones and whispers. Just like sexual topics, mental illness was taboo. This, of course, didn’t help my self esteem when diagnosed as bipolar in midlife. I was betrayed by my inherited tainted blood.
They feared and hated people most matching their shadow selves: twisted and broken. In the brutal world of survival of the fittest, there was no chance or space for them – or for me. I was a helpless drift of flesh floating in a pool of consequence and misfortune. Or so it seemed to my boyhood mind. Helplessness and hopelessness set in.
Observing a school photo of me in the first or second grade, I said to my mother, “Why do I have such dark circles under my eyes?” She said, “It’s hereditary.” But I noted to her that Brad didn’t have dark circles under his eyes in his school picture. Only recently do I understand the significance of those dark circles. They were symptoms or indicators of disturbed sleep. I was always on guard at night and didn’t get deep, restful sleep like others.
In 1958 at Lafayette, Indiana – home of Purdue University – my father and family arrived for him to complete his doctorate degree in agronomy. It was probably during Christmas break two years later, when I was in the first grade, that he raped me in front of my mother. He was drunk. He had gone out drinking with his university friends.
My father repeatedly raped me for years before that night. He would drag me out of bed in the dark and sodomize me. I would go away in my mind and escape into a trance-like, dissociative state – a coping strategy. Detachment from reality. It was a ritual of abuse. Detachment is a way to cope with or tolerate traumatic stress. Amnesia is a form of dissociation – a PTSD defense mechanism.
Chronic child abuse starting at an early age is related to high levels of dissociative symptoms including amnesia for abuse memories. I have experienced disassociation before when in a panic and in recent years just often going away. Grounding techniques have helped me realize how often it occurs.
Why did my mother never “know” or act to prevent this violence against me? She was in denial. She feared my father. And she was probably taking sleeping pills to knock herself out against the night terrors – and to escape my fathers amorous advances.
The truth is she did know and suffered horrible guilt. She would take a sleeping pill and pretend to not know what my father did in the dark of night. Her guilt was later manifest after her death by a willed monetary gift. It was double the amount of my siblings. It was a mental puzzle for sometime why she did this iniquitous act of betrayal. But now it’s clear. She offered me as a sexual sacrifice to my father to avoid his advances.
When my dad raped me in front of my mother in their bedroom, it was an act of psychological torture towards me and her simultaneously. And it worked. My mother went over the edge. She snapped inside. She could no longer suffer from her sin of omission and neglect. After my dad was asleep, she attempted suicide – and drowning me in the tub. A sin of commission. But in her mind, it was a mercy killing. Her mind twisted it into an act of sacrificial love instead of violence.
Recently, I had a moment where, in my mind, I was submerged and saw pink swirls in the tub water. I believe that was my mothers blood. But it’s taken two years since my PTSD discovery to realize their was blood at this horrific event.
I was dragged out of bed twice that night. Once abruptly and roughly by my father – and a second time gently by my mother. When my mother removed me from bed, I knew it wasn’t my dad touching me. I thought perhaps it was my younger brother Brad from the bunk below. I said, “Is that you Brad?” A phrase that was repeated twice as an adult during two memorable night terrors. These “dreams” always ended with the freeze-frame revelation of a terrifying monster.
Once in the 90’s during therapy, I was asked who the monster was while in a semi-hypnotic state. I replied, “It’s my father.” This surprised my therapist but she didn’t pursue it further. She said, “I didn’t expect that.” She probably expected the monster was some aspect of myself and not another. The amnesia memories remained locked away for many more years. But it was a hint or clue.
Somehow my mother botched that murderous act because I screamed either from the hot water burning my injured rectum. Or it was when I struggled and thrashed to the surface air and then gasped and screamed. Somehow, I struggled and got loose enough to make a commotion and wake my father.
I’ve had body memories of being pressed down with my held wrists being pushed into my abdomen. Very painful and real sensation. A body memory stored in my mind relived.
With the commotion in the bathroom, my mostly sober father awoke and ran into the bathroom and angrily shouted, “What the hell is going on?” He then saw my mother attempting to drown me and that she was bleeding and had swallowed an entire bottle of sleeping pills. She cowered in the corner and probably blacked out or fainted. She went limp. Was it loss of blood or fear? I do not know if their was blood on the floor. But there may have been and the blood is an unresolved memory. But I have a connection in my mind of blood at Christmas time. It’s weak but there.
My Father previously told me if I revealed what he was doing “my mother would die.” He used terror to silence me as a victim and may have convinced me I deserved his abuse.
My parents were hypocrites living out the very antithesis of what they professed to others. I was frequently and painfully “shamed” by my parents. They monitored all my daily actions and would say things like, “Do you want people to think (something negative) about us?” or “It’s not proper to act that way.” Or “That’s bad. Don’t do that.” Yet, their parental actions were improper.
I experienced guilt, shame, and fear. I was abused by both and felt ashamed. It was a price I thought everyone paid to belong to a family. I knew no other family life and so accepted it as the norm. I thought all parents were that way.
My father especially had anti-social traits. These included lack of conscience, indifference to others, bullying, cavalier attitude, minimal concern for the welfare of others, narcissism, sense of entitlement, and placing gain over people. He was a toxic predator.
My parents never reported or confessed their gross criminal misconduct. They just quietly pretended it never happened.
Religious organizations preach forgiveness, even for felonies. For my “preying” parents, this was a godsend. It meant if they got caught, they could ask for forgiveness and it all would be forgiven. This piety meant they could “learn from their mistakes.” It meant a chance to be more careful.
They were gullible enough to believe religious ritual church attendance would defend or be character evidence to cover up their horrific crime. It meant they could “look the other way” and assuage their guilt.
Their religious belief or superstitions allowed them to conveniently say it was “Satan’s” fault even for their own choices of abusing their children. They bought into that notion, and chose to use it as an escape hatch. And so our family began to attend the Methodist church after moving into the little yellow house in Lafayette, Indiana. My parents severe shame and guilt following the crimes committed drove them to seek relief in religion.
Extreme violence perpetrated through repeated torture isn’t about an impulsive, temporary loss of control in a parent. It’s more about a philosophy tainted by their own upbringing. They live a delusional self-deception. And they live it with complete certainty and conviction.
New research has found a possible link between an increase in long-term levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Brad has claimed Dad’s brain was floating in cortisol soup because of his borderline personality and rage. There exists some evidence this is true. Essentially repeated exposure to the steroidal chemical causes brain damage. My father is in a “Alzheimer’s unit” today. He remembers nothing of his past and will die there soon.
My brain took the physical aspects of my traumatic stress and fragmented it and stored it in different parts of my brain. It’s a stress coping strategy and causes amnesia. This phenomenon makes sense to me. The survival goal is later facilitating the brain reconstituting or defragmenting the memories. When that happens the memory is ultimately “processed” or “cleared” from the mind, removing the “memory or perception” of relived physical pain and ugliness. The recurring stress vanishes.
If it sounds metaphysical, it’s because scientists don’t understand how it works. I feel it’s a spiritual healing that affects the body and mind. Scientists can’t dare use the word “spiritual.” That would be admitting there actually is a God in Heaven.
I have to “decompress” the stored stress and trauma. Then I see it in it’s original light or view. But I don’t remember everything and that may not be necessary to heal. One doesn’t need to pick through every item in the garbage to know it stinks.
There was a time I felt deep peace and wonderment when the stress was removed. It came after I recognized I had a panic attack in first grade – before the “Bloody Night” occurred in Purdue-campus, married-student housing.
I identified (decompressed the file) containing my fear and the childhood notion I personally held the key or responsibility of life or death for my mom. I must be ever vigilant and never tell.
“Seeing” the panic attack for what it really was – with an adult label – is a moment of “turning the painting upside down.” I then saw what I experienced for what it really was: proof of the truth of abuse. The dots were connected – or defragmented. The peace didn’t last. But it was the first time I knew for certain I wasn’t concocting a story in my imagination based on fuzzy cues. It really happened. Truth.
That then helped me decode the second-grade “somersault” panic attack which happened shortly after the “Bloody Night.”
The big importance is the sequence: panic before and panic after the event. The first panic attack confirms the abuse was not a one time thing – it existed over time. And the second was the physical flashback(s) started occurring as young as second or third grade.
Turning-the-painting-over (a notion described by my Brother Brad) to trick the mind causes reality being observed and corrected.
The severity was exacerbated because we were mere children and also because we were sensitive and intelligent.
Brad explained to me again why turning a painting upside down alters the way our brain or optical perception helps resolve or fix a “broken” painting. That was interesting to me and I want to understand it better. I’m curious how it can be applied to other things.
“There are two aspects of the visual process. The mechanical process is the most basic and easily understood. That is what most people believe seeing to be. They believe the eye is like a camera and darkroom fused into one device. They sense that the reality they perceive is a function of objective perception.
But it is much more complicated. In addition to the mechanical aspects of sight, there is complex processing by the brain that modifies the raw visual information. These two images, the physical and the processed image, are cross dissolved into one image in our consciousness. We have no perception that there is an interpretive aspect to our visual process.
The processed image involves memory, expectation, and a bizarre, short-hand compression that allows the brains to handle the complexity of the visual world. That part of the brain projects an illusory reality comprised of symbols and visual stereotypes onto the internal visual canvas.
Painting on an upside-down canvas constrains the compressed aspect of perception. The inverted image prohibits the brain from intermixing the two functions eliminating the symbolic, physically distorted projection.
A classic example is looking at a full moon. The moon, especially when it is near the horizon or silhouette of a mountain, can seem gigantic. But extend your arm and place your thumb over the moon. You will be surprised that your thumb covers the entire sphere. Your brain is superimposing a processed image, one that looks larger than it really is, over the top of the physical image. This is a simple example of an effect that is often quite complex.
Learning to perceive reality is more about learning to disable the brain’s many efforts to project a processed reality onto our physical reality.”
Every night – when I was a child – my mom would pray with me as I lay in bed:
“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
and should I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Bless Mommy and Daddy and Stevie and Brady
and Grandma and Grandpa
and Granny and Grandad. Amen.”
While great atrocities were covered up with a religious mask, I know that it’s via spirituality that all things will be revealed to me in time in accordance with the Will of God. And He will heal my mind.
BOOK OF MORMON
THE BOOK OF ALMA
THE SON OF ALMA
22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
My greatest sense of betrayal and grief is Mom sacrificed my childhood on the altar. She knew about the abuse. But committed a sin of omission. She chose to ignore the obvious in hopes it would just go away. But then Dad blatantly raped me in front of her. Her consciousness couldn’t deal with that so she attempted murdering herself and me.
She failed to protect me from our predator Dad. She actually let him be distracted and preoccupied with his jealousy and anger towards me. That kept him away from her. That was her protective strategy. Give the beast a blood offering. Me!
She left me unprotected and vulnerable to a mad man. It was wrong. Child neglect. It wasn’t withholding affection. It was denial of protection. All she did was remain silent and look the other way. She wouldn’t consciously accept her personal blame, guilt, and complicity in Dad’s crimes. But subconsciously, it inspired her skewed departing gift to me in her will. It’s evidence something weird happened and she felt she was a part of the crime. She could have acted and prevented it but chose not to. She was afraid of my dad. He was a bully.
Mom promised she wouldn’t let anything happen to me. She lied. She hid behind me.
“Harmless isn’t virtuous.” — Jordan Peterson
I lived behind a protective mask my entire life. The grief is oozing out of me. I avoided forming intimate relationships with people. The trauma made me hypervigilant.
I’m still kicking. Fighting back.
It’s been two years from the discovery of my childhood abuse. I got the last piece of the puzzle a few weeks ago – even though I’ll never remember all the details with clarity (not in this life anyway). Some of those things are too ugly.
The last thing was the worst emotionally I suppose. My mother knew I was being abused and chose to take her sleeping pill and pretend nothing was happening.
I was placed upon her sacrificial altar so she wouldn’t have to be sexual with my father. She ignored his sexual behaviors. This was her choice. Her attempt drowning me was easier to bear because she saw it as a mercy killing. She would leave this earth and take me with her to protect me from my father.
Her deep guilt and shame for knowingly and neglectfully not protecting me was a secret she kept to the grave. It tormented her.
Light allows us to see things as they really are. That includes amnesia-producing trauma. We can discern between truth and error. Between the vital and the trivial.
I still have “body memories” manifest as pain in my shoulder and nerve pain in my left arm. This is typical PTSD symptoms. But it is subsiding.
For over two years, I’ve gone to Group at the Church stake center in Moscow on Thursday nights. And longer than that for every two weeks in psychotherapy. My therapist is moving in June. This will be a sad day – but it’s probably time to stop. You don’t do chemotherapy every two weeks forever. There’s a time when the healing process becomes detrimental maybe even poisonous. Am I at that point? Perhaps. Terrie says I need to find a new therapist but I don’t feel that strongly about it. I’m not as desperate as I once was. I still weep without provocation but I understand why. The mystery is gone.
Weeping is part of my healing process. Every falling tear brings me an increment closer to emotional freedom. So it has purpose.
Because of God’s great mercy, I’ve made great progress personally and in my business. I’m still not self-reliant but moving forwards. God blessed me by making Christ my business partner. Healing’s taken longer than I imagined. God protects us on our journey – not from pain – but from destruction. Like refugees we’ve survived and escaped because of his small miracles.
Grounding is a particular type of coping strategy that is designed to “ground” you in or immediately connect you with the present moment. Grounding is often used as a way of coping with flashbacks or dissociation for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Forgiving my parents hasn’t been difficult. I see how their lives progressed as they tried to do the right things. They weren’t the same people at the ends of their lives that they were at the beginning. They both were trauma victims themselves. Many trauma victims turn into abusers.
They were never discovered nor punished for their crimes. But God is their judge and not me. I look forward to seeing them again in the next life.
What’s been most difficult is achieving a *feeling* that I’m not in constant danger of attack. Feeling safe never existed for me. And also feeling I’m *worthy* of love. Those are the big road blocks. There’s no magic switch or pill to make them go away. It takes time, friends, family, and the grace of God.
Group helps. Therapy helps.
Review: My mother committed a sin of omission. Neglect. My mother knew I was being raped by my dad but chose to ignore it (be asleep) until it happened in front of her eyes. Then she *lost it* and attempted suicide and killing me. This was the biggest betrayal. Not the murder attempt but the knowing and choosing to be blind and dumb to it. She would take sleeping pills to knock herself out. Go away. A selfish act knowing I was sacrificed on the alter. Why? Because she didn’t want to have sex with my brutish father. And she was so weak she couldn’t believe she could survive without him. Trapped in a hellish device of her own choices.
It’s hard to ever find the real truth. Revelation helps. God has revealed things to me that I couldn’t remember. Connecting the dots. Those moments are inspired and the spirit is strong. It’s unquestionable the source is revelatory. God brings all things to our remembrance – even the evil.
My Dad had three strokes this last week and won’t last much longer. He’s got Alzheimer’s. This sounds vindictive but it’s not. The thing my Dad valued most was his mind. It seems appropriate that at the end it would decay.
I always wanted my Dad to love me or recognize my achievements. He never did that. Except when boasting about how great he must be to have such *productive* children. He also never meaningfully said, “I’m sorry” to anyone. I eventually realized that fantasizing about that moment was driving me into a perfectionist workaholic lifestyle. Compulsion. Performance anxiety. I haven’t broken that habit yet. It’s a goal. I’m afraid if I stop working, I’ll be destitute and impoverished. Fear of scarcity.
I’m working towards being at peace.
I’ve learned to accept two opposites as true. For example, intimacy and autonomy. They can co-exist and are not polarized but enhance each other. The same goes for joy amidst pain.
Overcoming “intolerance of intolerance” is a challenge. It’s funny how we don’t want a behavior like say “bullying” but we become bullies ourselves to protect ourselves from bullies. The irony!
I’ve learned to love while not trusting predators. They’ll sacrifice anyone and anything. They’re confused about their identity.
I’ve always said “I’ll be rich when I can always leave the lights on and have fresh flowers in every room.” That is my measuring stick. Some days, I leave the lights on just to feel rich. It’s a small cost with LED lighting. But it’s an empowerment.
We, in group therapy, are pilgrims on the same road.
Here are some observations from group:
Resilience is rolling with the punches and anticipating “sometimes obvious” bad things happen in our lives – like suffering, betrayal, sickness, injury, and death. Last year, I paid in advance for my burial expenses and headstone. It’s a nice stone and it would make you smile. I walk up there sometimes and look at it. It reminds me of what life is all about.
Virginia said she wanted to be our eternal neighbor and is buried right next to us. I thought Virginia was weird and annoying when I first met her. A burden. And I felt she was weird when she died. But I learned to love her weirdness. And now I miss her. Who would have ever guessed?
We don’t have to focus on sadness and be overwhelmed by it. But we have to accept that all our dreams do not come true in this life. It’s not Disneyland. “Expect the unexpected” has been my mantra my whole adult life. That’s the credo of a victim of violence. I ruins the moment.
What you can do for me – that would help the most – is be happy. Overcome your trials and share your story. I want you to find happiness and joy. Then we can continue to inspire each other.
There is a God in Heaven. Jesus Christ is the God of Suffering. He knows our trials and afflictions. He’s not a vindictive god but a loving parent. I choose His family first. I’m one of His adopted sons. For a victim (survivor) of abuse, choosing one’s parent is a great comfort.
“If thou lovest me, feed my sheep.”
4/25/18 corrected 5/22/18 and 8/23/18 and 10/28/2018
ADDENDUM & APPENDIX
I. MOM’S BREAKDOWN
On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 9:49 PM Steve wrote:
I was in Indiana from Kindergarten through 1st grade (1959 to 1960, age 5 -6) on one side of town and then we moved to the little yellow house on the other side of town. I remember us coming back on the train to visit Grandma and Grandpa Teare on Christmas and New Years of 1960. I remember the TV going on and on about the new decade. It was the first new decade I had experienced so I was wondering what it meant.
My Aunt Margret came to visit us in Indiana in November of 1962. That would mean we didn’t leave for Pullman until summer of 1963 just before my 4th grade year.
While living in the little yellow house, I attended 2nd and 3rd grade (1962 to 1963, age 7 to 8). We then moved to Pullman and I attended 4th grade (age 9), 5 grade (age 10) through 6 grade (age 11) at Franklin elementary.
What’s throwing me is I remember Mom talking -in Purdue student housing – to a neighbor about Marilyn Monroe’s suicide in August 5 of 1962. I would have been 8. I’m not remembering it right.
I remember Mom being real depressed when we got to the little yellow house. I think it was part of a geographic escape. She slept a lot.
Anyway, I’m trying to place when Mom’s nervous breakdown occurred. I think it happened in the married student’s apartment and then we moved to the yellow house for my Mom to convalesce. My Aunt Cheryl Holder may know the date. She knows it happened. It’s important to me as I’m figuring out PTSD stuff. It was kept a family secret.
2. POEM TO DAD
If I only could have loved you
how would my life had been
so many doors closed
I’m opening them up
letting the fresh air in
and I’ll sing my music
soaring into my people’s ears
the people who always loved me
when you couldn’t
If only I could have loved you
how would my life have been
forgive me for forgetting you
money never saved you
you thought it would
but you were wrong
If only I could have loved you
how would my life have been
You never loved my music
but now I’m singing it loud
If only I could have loved you.
I was talking on the phone and I told my brother, Brad, I couldn’t remember what happened next after the drowning attempt and mom attempting suicide. I said, “Perhaps we just survived and never went to a hospital.”
Brad said, “Dad told me, as an adult, in private – while angered at mom – that mom suffered depression and was institutionalized in Indiana.”
This was the first time I heard the word “institutionalized” in this tragic misadventure.
Where did she go? Was it a single night? A few days? A week? A month? Did I think she was dead? Who protected me during that time from my Dad’s torment? Were we left alone that night? Lots of questions. No answers. Brad thinks it would be Dad’s style to grab an unconscious or limp Mom and carry her to the car and hospital leaving us unattended. That’s speculation.
During Christmas 2017, Terrie got out a Christmas book she bought a couple years ago. The first time I read the book I said, “I hate this book.” I had a really strong emotional reaction on a page where it said that the red of Christmas represented the blood of Christ. I burst out weeping on that page. I thought I was having an emotion that was religious in nature.
This year she read it at a party. I didn’t know she brought it. I immediately was angry and said, “I hate that book.” Someone asked, “Why?” I said, “Because it always makes me cry.” And it did in the same place. I wept again. I felt an anger inside about it.
Later, I remember that after my mom died, I read a book about Grief. When I was done, I told Terrie I hated that book. She was offended (miffed?) because they used the book in their grief group sessions. I said, “It’s dark and depressing.” I was angry that I was encouraged to read it. Very upset.
There was a chapter about how after a sexual predator died, the victim began having PTSD and memories. I especially hated that part. I had no idea my future would be on the same path. But my subconscious did.
Anyway, I had the same feeling about this Christmas book. I was recently thinking about the connection one night as I lay in bed. I realized it wasn’t about Christ’s blood but about memories of blood at Christmas time or season.
I then got up and wrote a poem called “Bloody Christmas.” The content of the poem was deemed by me insignificant and imaginary drivel. It still felt good to write it and I knew the title was the only real important part and needed pursuing. I threw away the poem. It wasn’t feeling “true or good.” There was some kind of real bloody domestic violence at Christmas time that I couldn’t remember. I didn’t know if it was my blood, my father’s, mother’s or brother’s blood. Or a pet. But someone was bleeding profusely in my child mind.
I was knotted up with stress the next night and decided to lay down in bed and go to sleep in hopes I might relax. As I lay there, I thought about those two books and the common emotions.
I then remembered the time when I wept inconsolably on the couch in our Lafayette Indiana living room. I was in first grade. I was completely sobbing and racked with pain. My mother called the school. I mentioned I saw a film strip during a health assembly and some sailors died from scurvy because they didn’t get Vitamin C. That was the trigger. I think it was my first panic attack. But I had no idea nor did my mom about its cause.
What I feared most was my mother dying. She would die if I told the secret. My father said she wouldn’t die if I kept the secret. I wanted to tell her then but I couldn’t. I never did.
If I ever told the secret, my mother would die. When my mother died at 82, the little-boy mind inside of me was stunned. I never told and she died anyway.
After these realizations, a great peace washed over me. I was taken by surprise. The stress pain was completely gone. I threw off the covers and Terrie who was standing in the room said, “What’s wrong?” I couldn’t speak or verbalize my experience. I was in wonder, stunned. “Where did the pain go? And why?”
I just lay there marvelling and eventually told Terrie this story of complete peace.
The next day the stress was back with a vengeance and comes and leaves in waves since.
3.1 BLOODY CHRISTMAS
Remember the blood on the bathroom floor?
The night when Saint Nicolas delivered the gore?
The night when the world slept so dead?
The night when sugarplums never danced in your head?
Mother and Father disappeared there.
Surely I dreamed a devil’s lair.
Waiting in darkness after you left.
Wondering what time we all should get dressed.
You never came back. No not that night.
Terror and blood revealed a fright.
Try as I could with all my might
I couldn’t squeeze the red from my sight
Over and over it oozed in my head
Thoughts mother was dead.
The threats you made they all came true.
The hate you thought I never heard from you.
So I cried until sick and lost in my mind.
Praying to be preferentially blind.
I left that day.
I went away.
To a place where people are kind.
At least, in my mind.
God let me forget.
Please don’t let it ever be Christmas again.
The time of horror never to end.
Over and over it plays in back of my mind.
But I don’t remember but a small nagging whine.
Why such a secret what happened that night?
Why is it locked in a box so tight?
Must I remember to be free?
Is there a Christmas miracle for me?
The night when mother and father were lost
And the little boy’s soul got tossed.
Into a Christmas where love is a liar.
Like thin, crumpled wrapping paper in endless fire.
At Christmas, the time of peace
tortured memories never cease.
Left alone in darkness a long endless time.
Waiting and trembling for your Christmas crime.
Can I just erase one Christmas?
And be wonderfully free?
Free the little boy, free to be me.
gazing into a bright Christmas tree.
So to God I raise my Christmas prayer.
Please don’t take me ever back there.
to a Christmas that’s nothing but tears
Living a life of never-ending fears.
Timeless memory like a shot in the night
The one that left an impressionable fright.
Bloody Christmas please go away …
Stare at the blood on the bathroom floor.
Christmas isn’t Christmas any more.
Please bring my mother back to tell.
And, frothing father, let him burn in Christmas hell.
4. DRAIN STAIN
or Trance Dance
Roaring monster whirls roun’
dancing drunken clown
trips inside his sleeping gown
stumbles, laughs a frown
Spin and spin
laugh and grin
wonder what he’ll eat?
It’s us! It’s us!
We cry out loud
from this painful banquet
Hide beneath a blanket
Keep us from our memory plain
feigned stains drain
Only a bloody memory
In childhood history.
Monster wither – and die.
5. EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE
Experiential Avoidance: Relevance to quality of life
Experiential Avoidance potentially disrupts and interferes with important, valued aspects of an individual’s life. Some examples include:
1. Putting off an important task because of the discomfort it evokes.
2. Not taking advantage of an important opportunity due to attempts to avoid worries of failure or disappointment.
3. Not engaging in physical activity/exercise, meaningful hobbies, or other recreational activities due to the effort they demand.
4. Avoiding social gatherings or interactions with others because of the anxiety and negative thoughts they evoke.
5. Not being a full participant in social gatherings due to attempts to regulate anxiety relating to how others are perceiving you.
6. Being unable to fully engage in meaningful conversations with others because one is scanning for signs of danger in the environment (attempting to avoid feeling “unsafe”).
7. Inability to “connect” and sustain a close relationship because of attempts to avoid feelings of vulnerability.
8. Staying in a “bad” relationship to try to avoid discomfort, guilt, and potential feelings of loneliness a break-up might entail.
9. Losing a marriage or contact with children due to an unwillingness to experience uncomfortable feelings (e.g., achieved through drug or alcohol abuse) or symptoms of withdrawal.
10. Not attending an important graduation, wedding, funeral, or other family event to try to avoid anxiety or symptoms of panic.
11. Engaging in self-destructive behaviors in an attempt to avoid feelings of boredom, emptiness, worthlessness.
12. Not functioning or taking care of basic responsibilities (e.g., personal hygiene, waking up, showing up to work, shopping for food) because of the effort they demand and/or distress they evoke.
13. Spending so much time attempting to avoid discomfort that one has little time for anyone or anything else in life.
Reference: Experiential avoidance.
interpreted in 2018 (27 years later)
Author’s free verse:
TOOTH & NIPPLE
Mother, is it you in absorbing night shadow
hidden as a horrible monster
with gaping mouths from every body orifice?
As I suckled at your breast, you creating and consuming
greedily diminishing even as you nourished
Your sharp-toothed nipple waiting in darkness to swallow me up
Witch, wolf, ogre, dragon, all devouring after death
Digesting, transforming elements
Earth Mother, goddess of fertility, source of all life
Eve, Helen, Sofia, and Mary, all in one being
embodying man loftiest aspects, where is thy incestuously divine embrace?
Spiritual purity does not satisfy my longing hot desire
Have I not worshipped and still find no sweet favor
Do you threaten, smiling with death’s face?
Will knowing you lead to transformation?
Sun God smiles upon temptress Earth Mother
Male scarab self-creation’s sign
once revered, sacred ancient-Egyptian sun-symbol
The beetle driven, ramming, beating, and crushing
rebuilds, transforming death to life
pin a scarab jewel over a mummified hollow
Transform again from death to life
Wheel of Fortune spinning fate’s uncertainty
opposites seeking equilibrium, constructive and destructive
coexisting in alternating dualism, where shall the pointer fall?
Free from Mother Earth
female myth cannot satisfy me
Free from Father Sun
male myth cannot bestow power
Their male and female myths exposed
The mind unimpeded from erroneous emotions
Fate stirs the transformation, now I’ve changed, who am I?
As the opposition of the spinning wheel
Myth: Man only may use destructive power to be strong
Truth: He can also create and be strong
Male destruction and creation can coexist
Thought Transformation: Creativity is not a weakness or solely female
As the opposition of the spinning wheel
Myth: Woman only may use purity to bond mans affections
Truth: She can also be passionate and bond
Female purity and passion may coexist
Thought Transformation: Passion is not a weakness or solely male.
Footnote: 3 January 2019
I wrote my sister about my childhood abuse on October 29, 2018. The goal was to finally silencing her nagging, flaming, and blaming emails. I got no response. A month later, at Thanksgiving, my sister said she had a Certificate of Deposit my Mom left me. It was issued the year and month I lost my Decagon job – August 2011. I had no idea it existed.
Why was the delivery of the gift delayed?
My mom left me the gift as evidence of her extreme guilt. Mom knew her murder attempt messed up my life – but never said a word. The monetary gift was a message in a bottle. Bread crumbs to the truth.
Was it the drowning attempt that injured me most? I don’t think so. I suspect it was her betrayal. The worst double-cross of my life.
Mom didn’t leave monetary gifts (I’m aware of) for any other of my siblings. This gift is in addition to the “double money” she willed me at her death in 2014.
It’s a weird world.
More the next few days:
In therapy when I started remembering the child abuse, the first words out of my mouth were: “I’m a bad person.”
This is the exact phrase people with deep, deep subconscious SHAME use to describe themselves. They were abused before they were “verbal.” Meaning somewhere before 18 months of age. I then remembered my Granny (Mom’s mom) telling me a story when I was 35 years old. I living with her in her home in Viola , Idaho (about 10 miles from where I live today.) I asked her if my Dad was ever jealous of me. She laughed and said, “I don’t know about that – but when you were little you thought your dad was a photo on top of the TV.” My dad was in Germany serving in the Army. “When he came home, you were so jealous you were jumping in your bed screaming and you bounced right out and knocked yourself out.” And she laughed about that. I never heard this story. I wasn’t amused by it.
I was knocked out alright – but I didn’t bounce out of the bed. That’s the story my Dad told my Granny.
If a child is abused physically or sexually before becoming verbal (talking development aka non-verbal stage), the common words they use describing themselves for the rest of their un-fixed PTSD lives is, “I’m bad”.
Those were my first words at the discovery of my Mom’s suicide and drowning attempt. That revelation was 3 or 4 years ago now.
I plainly am not “bad. There’s significance in what it implies. My abuse started before I was four as supposed. It started when I was an infant.
I asked my Mom once how old I was when I got my first spanking. I asked in my early 30s and had two kids. She said, “When you were 3 months old!” There was no pause she knew the moment clearly. She had this angry, stern look on her face. I knew then my dad spanked me in a rage. “I’m still mad at your dad about that,” she said.
The reason victims say “I’m bad” is severe shame. They feel shame all their lives. They are permanently unworthy in their minds. Unlovable.
To mask their shame, these PTSD patients develop “contempt.” Contempt (pretending one is above everyone else with superior intellect or powers or skills) fuels the fire of the shamed. It’s lashing back at an invisible, ancient monster. They despise authority and stupidity. They become rabid critics and cynics. They enjoy tearing things down: like Google, Yoast, Elementor, WordPress, Operating systems, companies, etc. They become intensely opinionated and polarizing. Their speech and communication become exaggerated, theatrical, melodramatic in their frothing rabid contempt. It’s unnatural. It can become evangelical or charismatic. Like Hitler or Genghis Khan. Memorable characters in history. But bad behaving people.
Why do they wear this fake contemptuous mask? They don’t want anyone to know their shame. That simple. Fear of discovering they are a worthless lump of abused flesh.
Their chip on their shoulder drives them to pick a fight. They actually seek out a fight. They’re troublemakers and nonconformists. Even rebel leaders.
Pain. Masking. Contempt.
The opposite emotion from contempt is “hope.”
The point is I never understood my source of rage. I now do. It may change my writing style or it may not. At least now, I’m conscious of “why?” Contempt is a protective, coping behavior.
But I’ve been encouraged not to change my over-the-top style. Many people see me as the guy defending the underdog. Or as a David against The Man. I chuckle.
Suffering does have purpose. That doesn’t mean we should seek out suffering to atone. Christ has already atoned for us. He also understands all our suffering. Turn to him for relief.
How does one change such a deeply rooted belief of 64 years? I think that would be a miracle.
I believe Christ guides us to what is most important. This idea of loving who I am is a key principle. And then I change (repentance). Repentance doesn’t mean beating yourself. It’s much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It’s a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. Post-traumatic thriving.
I like that idea. Christ makes *change* possible because of His atonement.