A Dirty Girl Comes Clean

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I stand in solidarity with children and adults who have been victimized by physical, sexual and mental abuse.  My father was a child molester who abused me until I was ten years old when he died.  It took me a year after his death to share the truth with my mother and nearly half a decade to see the way his abuse would effect my life.

I was a fortunate child in that I was enveloped into a healing circle of women that loved me and poured strength into my damaged frame.  I was taught to practice forgiveness and was able to release some of my anger early on.  The story of my rehabilitation does not end there.  Even when you forgive your abuser, you find that the simplest of circumstances can send you plummeting into the pit of despair.  The singular photo of your aggressor found by accident can shut you down for weeks.  The smell of his cologne or the sight of the constellation he taught you will forever more send you back to that place.  All of these things are memories that are permanent for me.

The birth of my three boys caused an unease that I was not prepared for.

 Aren’t they adorable!?  I could just eat them for breakfast. *sigh*
Back to what I was saying.

The realization that I could not protect my children for the entirety of their lives was the cause of a new stress to add to the already damaged goods left from my father.  I spent a lot of time holding tight to my swollen belly begging and bargaining with God to ensure their safety.  I had become Hannah, petitioning God for my children’s safety.  The truth, across all religions, is God’s unwillingness to censor the free will of man.  Even when they plan to harm the good.

I struggle with finding peace in this uncertainty.  I love my children from a place that is bigger than the creation of a soul.  I want a life full of goodness for them.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees for them, just like there were none for me.

If you have suffered abuse and the aftermath that shadows the trauma, how do you find peace?  How do you deal with your fear and those unexpected pit falls?  If you have found websites or a favorite book that has given you help and hope, please share the link for all to use as a resource.

At the end of the day, when and if my children encounter pain, I know that my love will provide them a life line and a certainty that will mirror the kind that has helped heal me.  For now, that will have to be enough.

Sincerely,

The Dirty Girl Comes Clean

***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)

12 thoughts on “A Dirty Girl Comes Clean

  1. I've found peace in the day to day parts of life, and I spend every day struggling to protect my children and keep them safe-without smothering them. But I have panic attacks thinking about what *could* happen to them when they are grown and I no longer have a say in where they go and what they do. That scares me.

  2. Oh, mama. My heart is breaking for you. This is something I struggle with too. I will be checking back to see responses from others.
    The only thing I can offer is to empower your children to protect themselves (of course how do you do that without scaring the bejeezus out of them in the process?!).

  3. Let me first say what a strength you have, not only in what you have been through, come through, and LIVED through, but in that you are (obviously) consistently asking how you can better yourself to make a better life for your kids. That, to start with, is absolutely incredible.
    What can you do? Nothing! Nothing, aside from teach them everything you can- how to stick up for each other and themselves… What is right and what is wrong. The reasons that you're concerned about certain things.
    The BEST thing that any mother can do, no matter who she is or what she's faced, is to be present. Observant. Available. And to constantly strive to be the mother that she knows that she can be.
    You do everything you can to keep them as safe as you can, and what is out of your control you have to just.. Let go.
    Because worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere. You do what is in your power and leave the rest up to fate.
    It's not the most comfortable thing to do, especially when you've been hurt. It is, however, the only thing to do.

  4. I cannot relate to your own childhood heartache.

    However, I think it is natural for a parent to want to provide a better place in the world for our children than what we had. I think this is natural and good. Having said that, I try to make a very conscious effort to parent in 'real time' and not as a reaction to my childhood. This can expand to very simple areas of our day to day lives as well as bigger issues I struggle with.

    Children live in the 'now' and only understand their immediate environment. I remind myself that if we provide a safe, enriched and secure environment for our children to grow up in they will carry those strengths with them throughout all of life's struggles.

    This is the way we protect them.

    Many blessings.

  5. Hi T,

    I applaud your strength in posting this, but am pained in knowing yet another person who suffered this type of pain and abuse from someone who is supposed to be your protector.

    About six years ago, I started a camp for children who had been sexually abused. The one thing I was told by many of the children about why they enjoyed the camp was that for the first time, they didn't feel like “it” had happened only to them.

    Just so you know, you're not alone in this. I'd stand in solidarity with you any day.

    Chris

  6. Thank you all for your heartfelt words of encouragement and advice. I appreciate them all. Motherhood makes you learn and grow constantly. I love the advice to parent in the here and now. I am afraid of “scaring the bejeezus” out of my kids too. Chris, thanks.

  7. Empowering children without scaring them is such a hard thing. I remember a police officer came to our school to speak about 'stranger danger' and forever after that I was terrified walking home, continually wondering if I was attacked would I be able to make it to the nearest house in time. Clearly not what the school had in mind when they organised the talk.

    So I suppose, your approach will differe between your children, depending upon their age, personality and temperament.

    I know that a lot of people advocate role playing with children so that they learn the necessary skills to protect themselves in word and action.

  8. Thank you so much for blogging about this important topic. Abuse needs to be talked about so that children (and adults who have suffered) can be empowered to know it's not acceptable, that it's not their fault, and that they don't need to be silent. In that sense, simply writing this is one way you're protecting your children, and mine.

    The fact that you begin your second paragraph with the words “I was a fortunate child” really stood out to me. You sound like a person at peace with herself and strong in who you are and what you're worth. I imagine you're passing those traits on to your children, which is the other important way you're protecting them.

    As far as my own fears go, I have many, and I don't know how to handle them really. I'm working through this right now, so if I come to any conclusions (sigh), I'll have to come back and tell you!

  9. I understand. I don't have any answers though (yet). I try to talk to my boyfriend daily about my fears/anxiety about the “what if's” and it's hard because I only have MY childhood to draw upon. He helps me see what is NORMAL parental “fear” and what is me projecting.

    I am interested to see all your responses!

  10. I am sorry you were hurt as a child. There are so many scarred children by sexual abuse. That's an epidemic worth fighting to end. It is also one of the things I fear tremendously for my daughter. One thing I would say specifically in terms of abuse is how important it is to speak to children about sexuality from the time they are young and in age appropriate ways. Specifically with little ones talking about their genitals with correct words and not making them feel ashamed or bad about them is one very important way of protecting them from child sexual abuse. I think also you may want to look back at your childhood and think about what might have made a difference for you in making it stop. What put you at risk (as in what environmental factors facilitated the abuse). I know you know you can't protect them from everything and all you can do is try your best. A positive and healthy approach to sexuality and their bodies is a really good thing to have in your tool box. This may be hard if you don't feel this way and if you don't you, may need to do some more healing around this issue.

  11. I was sexually abused as a small child, but I don't really remember it.
    I suffered physical, verbal, and emotional abuse from my mother growing up.
    We do not have a relationship at this time.

    I don't know how to move past it. I pray, I've been to counseling, and talk with my husband about it.
    I also pray that my children will never suffer what I did growing up. That's why it pains me so much when I feel I'm being anything less than the perfect mother.

    Looking forward to more responses.

  12. As a child who suffered through physical, mental and emotional abuse, the hardest thing to deal with is that you have the over whelming fear to deal with and the thought that you have no place to turn. Your protector and biggest confidante is the individual who is hurting you. I struggled for years with keeping it inside because when i did finally speak up no one would listen. So much has changed since then and with the awareness out there the first step in keeping children safe and giving yourselves peace of mind is to talk to your kids and give the the save and loving arms they need to feel like they can come and talk to you about anything without condemnation. Talk to them about sex and their sexuality and help them understand they have control and then give them the control and courage to be who and what they are going to be. It was years before i got that and i thank god every day for the family who took me in no questions asked and started the road to recovery that my sister was able to then continue. Without love and support those who struggle through abuse will continue to struggle in having the courage to overcome it and take back the control they had ripped from them.

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