It was so long ago, 39/40 or so…

It was so long ago, 39/40 or so…

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Karen told me to write,

Cathy told me to write, 

Denise told me to write, 

So I wrote this and shared it in group on Tuesday and with Denise on Wednesday, I’ll see Karen on Saturday.  

Thinking too much yesterday in group, then at work.  I thought about what one of the gals said about hiding in the closet — at least I never had to hide in the closet.  But I’d hide under the bed.  Sometimes I’d fall asleep under the bed and when I would wake up hours later no one knew or cared where I was. 

Dialectical.  Yeah I can be so angry with Mom, I think she was the cause of every thing, that she set me up (not deliberately) but evenso.  She was hard.  She had little time, too many kids, no help and raging depression.  Her rage would come out, and she would call us horrible things and let fly with her hands — never fists, but she would pull your hair, slap your face, slap you anywhere.  

Her idea of discipline was creative.  “Bring me the extension cord!”  Or, she would stand in the doorway with it in her hand and demand that you go into that room.  And when you would dart past, she would hit you with it, over and over.  

I turned 8 in the third grade, so I was at most 8 years old when I received 42 swats at school for not getting 21 things done on the lists on my desk.  When my mother found out, my father held me down, while my mother gave me 20 more with that extension cord.  (it was a small one for a coffee pot, fitted nice in the had and had good size connectors on either end, vicious thing.)  

She once got Bobby across the face with it, and Brian had welts all over his back and legs when he broke his collar bone on the ice, the day after my mother went after him.  She was worried about that, even in those days.  

“How can you be so stupid?”  My mother has always thought I was stupid.  Not stupid enough to be held back.  I was never smart like Lynn, but she put me in school early too, and when that third grade hag, Mrs. Hirsimaki, wanted to hold me back, she had me tested.  I was not held back.  But Brian and Lynn, Mark and Lisa all have better brains than I do.  And, Bobby has a photographic memory.  I am the one with the least.  

I wonder if I was stunted by having to survive crap in critical developmental stages.  Or maybe the genes just played out that way.  Or maybe I just don’t have the self-confidence.  I mean, my second semester at Kent State, when I had just turned 17, I was taking 18 hours — full time was 12 hours, and got a 4.0.  And when I went back to finish my B.S. at Youngstown, I earned the departmental scholarship after my first year in the engineering technology program, upper division, while working full time, going to school full time, and driving between Youngstown and Geneva and Jefferson — about 2.5 hours a day.  I’m not stupid.  But it is so hard to get past the “How can you be so stupid?”  and “You don’t have the brains you were born with!”  How?  Easy, smart peopld do stupid things sometimes.  

But that isn’t the dialectic.  The dialectic is that I love my mother and cannot imagine life without her.  In fact, I really don’t want to go on when she goes.  Karen says we are built to survive these things.  Maybe.  I blame my mom.  I love my mom and understand where she comes from, and how she did the best she could with the tools she had.  

I focused so much energy on Brian, but Bobby was as bad, if not worse.  He was not violent, and did not use physical force.  He didn’t have to.  I was so much younger, and when we started, I was so young, I had no idea.  None.  He started with feels and it went up from there.  By the time I was 10, he was trying to penetrate me.  And he would tell me to stay downstairs for a while so they would not get suspicious.  And I would.  

I got no protection from Mom.  None.  I “knew” she would beat the Hell out of me if she found out.  That turned out to be untrue, but I wasn’t going to find out when I was so vulnerable.  

Almost as hard as surviving what my brothers did to me was the lack of connection/attention/affection from my mother. 

I got no help from no one.  The schools were in league with parents and so was the church/school.  There was no where to go.  My mom’s best buddy, girl friend, goombah from childhood was questioned when m mom tried to take on foster children and she put the kebosh on that.  

Ah well, I grew up, but I had no validation, no sense of being anything but ugly, fat, stupid, an embarrassment.  And dirty.  When I could understand the words my mother used, cock-sucker and slutty pig , they were, in fact, true.  Yes, my brother Bobby, would give me money or things to do stuff with him.  In some ways that has been harder to accept than what Brian did.

And this is why I panic when the suggestion is made to give up the group.  It is where I get validated.  Where I feel secure.  I know I can’t stay there forever, but I am having a terrible time with the idea of letting it go.

Thanks for reading.  


Join the Conversation


  1. Ryan4121 Volunteer

    Thank you for writing to us. You have come a long way and we are so proud of you! Please keep fighting. We are here every step of the way and want to help anyway that we can.


  2. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    I’m so proud of you for writing this. Sorry I haven’t written back to you much, but I am back. It sounds like you have progressed so much since the last I wrote back to you. You are amazing! You have come a long way. I’m sorry so much happened when you were a child. You didn’t deserve any of that. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do, but you did a great job at doing it. You don’t have to forgive everyone, but it is hard to not forgive family because they are family. I really am so proud of you for how far you have come.

  3. Solongago

    Thank you all. The weeks go so quickly. I cannot believe it is almost Christmas, and this group/intensive therapy has taken up a huge part of my life. Right now the favorite people in my life are my sister, Lynn, her two daughters, Analisa and Elena, my parents, and Cathy. I think I’d jump out of an airplane for any one of those. The rest of the people on earth might not get me into the airplane at all. Ok, I care about my little sister and her kids, and my little brother. I care about my older brothers and their families too, but that sentiment is a little lost right now.

    Well anyway I lost it yesterday in group. I don’t really know why. The whole Christmas thing I guess. Another marker of another year, and without my own family, and then seeing my brothers with theirs and being jealous and bitter and angry and sad and a feeling of the unfairness/injustice of it all. I know I can’t stay in this place long. I feel that if I move beyond it, I lose something very valuable. I know that makes no sense at all. But it is there all the same. Ah well. I’m supposed to be cleaning or wrapping presents or something for which I took two days off of work, but all I can do is sleep.

  4. Jess Volunteer

    I am so sorry for everything that happened during your childhood. Your mom had no right to hurt you in that way and your brothers took advantage of you at such a young age. I’m sorry that your mom wasn’t there when you needed her, and instead responded by hurting you. It sounds like you didn’t really have support from anyone – even at school/church – and I’m so sorry that you felt alone in your suffering with no one to turn to.

    The idea of letting go is incredibly painful, but it’s good that you recognize why it is so hard and can work on bettering those ideas. On the flip side, like others have stated, it may be a good idea to find a support group within the community that you can still connect and bond with. I hope you’re able to find something that will help you. You don’t always have to completely give something up, you just have to be willing to compromise.

    As you know, we’re always here for you. If you need anything, please reach out. Stay strong, Solongago. It’s a rough road, but you’ve come SO far. You can do this. Keep fighting. <3

    Sending healing thoughts your way,

  5. Mary Volunteer

    Hi Solongago,

    Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for everything that you have been through. Your mother had no right to do the things that she did to you, and I am sorry that she was not there for you when you needed her as a child. I am sorry that your brothers did what they did to you. It was in no way your fault. It makes sense that you want to stay in your group. Support is important when you are struggling with trauma. Are there any community support groups or support groups through local mental health organizations that you might be able to attend?


  6. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi Solongago,

    Thank you for coming back and updating us and continuing to share with us. You are always welcome here. I am so sorry that your mom was not the support you needed as a child, but I think it’s great how proactive you are in group and therpay. I would like to echo what Erin said about potentially looking for another group for survivors. I hope you continue to stay strong. We are here for you.


  7. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    Wanting to stay in the group isn’t a bad thing. It can help to have a safe space, especially if you didn’t have one before. Maybe if/once you feel like the group isn’t benefitting you, you could gradually decrease the number of sessions you go to. I think Erin’s suggestion of finding another group is a great idea. I hope that there will be more groups for survivors in your area. You can do what feels comfortable for you at your own pace.
    I’m so sorry that you didn’t receive validation while growing up. I think it can be hard to see yourself differently when other people have been treating you a certain way for so long. However, you aren’t any of the things your mother called you, and I’m really sorry that she called you those names and disciplined you in that way. I can understand your empathy as well as anger towards your mother, and those feelings are valid.
    Thank you for sharing your writing with us. I hope it was cathartic for you. We’re here to support you, and if you need anything, please feel free to write back. Continue to stay strong.

  8. sfmbelle413 Day Captain

    Hey there Solongago,

    Thank you for sharing what you wrote. I sense it is helpful to get some of those thoughts and feelings out on paper/screen. It’s brave of you to share this process with others – to show one way to cope with all that has happened. It’s a valuable skill to have and focus on.

    I hear that moving away from the group is a terrifying thought – that’s okay. It’s normal to be afraid of the unknown. Having a place to feel validated and secure is amazing. Please remember that healing looks different for everyone and that there is no set time path to move from one thing that works to the next. Keep fighting and doing what works for you. You are strong.

    Sending light,

    1. Solongago

      Yes, thank you. I have read a lot of self-help books, most of them a good 20 or 30 years old. But what I haven’t found was any description of what to expect while trying to heal from this. I mean if you have a shoulder surgery, they will tell you what they will do to your shoulder, and then they will tell you that they will have you go through physical therapy for your shoulder. For knee surgery, they explain it to you, and they tell you what the goals are for leaving the hospital and for being done with PT.

      When I began therapy 28 years ago, I did not believe that this effected my life at all. I read those books and could not see myself in them, at all. The therapy did some things for me, but we really did not work on this, and 10 years later I did not go anywhere with this. So for 17 more years I buried everything, and maintained a low self-esteem/self worth. And this spilled over in the choices I made in my employment, and I did not move anywhere in relationships, and frankly, I ruined my life.

      So coming back into therapy, I wanted a ball-park figure on what this was going to be like. I re-read those books and saw myself all through them. I read a couple of newer books. But again, I am not finding what to expect in therapy. I mean, you can go on a German Shepherd Site and read posts about what to expect in training your puppy, and what to look for in a good trainer, so you have an idea if what this person is telling you to do with your pup is on the level. But in therapy you are on your own.

      If you are feeling worse after a session, is it because the therapist isn’t doing their job, or is it because you are working hard and it does get worse before it gets better, and your therapist IS doing their job? How do you know? Trust me, that sometimes it feels like you are going in circles, and not getting anywhere, and that may be totally normal. Or not. The best I can do is understand the grief steps and try to notice when I am cycling through and back again, and forward again through the many steps.

      Right now, I barely know Denise at the CRCC. She is showing me some physical things I can do for calming and stuff, that I don’t know if I buy into totally.

      Cathy, I have not known her as long as Karen but because it is 9 hours per week as opposed to 1 hour, I have actually had more time with her now. She is gentle and patient with me, and I feel safe and can respond and work with stuff with her.

      Karen wants me out of the group and has mentioned ethics, and I think she feels responsible to some extent as she said she knew it would be difficult for me to leave/finish the group. Because I have trouble with endings. Ok. I like Karen, but this is making me afraid, upset, and angry with her. Only, I do not know if she is right. She is trying to empower me to move ahead, and I want to stay where I feel validated and safe.

      So I am justifying myself by saying that Cathy understands me and seems more experienced with trauma and willing to work with me on what I think I need to work on. This may or may not be true. While Karen seems to steer away from working on the trauma. I read the above to her on Saturday, and her response was to have me talk about what the group means to me, how I see it, etc. I come away thinking that she really doesn’t want to talk about the abuse at all. And, I don’t know that this is fair at all.

      I have succeeded in confusing myself, by being conflicted.

      I think my point is that, due to the very private/personal nature of the therapeutic process, there is very little to go on when trying to figure out what normal is. And while others may not have the exact experience that I have had through this, there may be enough similarities that some will find their process is not as abnormal as it feels. I hope so anyway. I am still waiting for the magic wand to be waved and to go from feeling pretty shitty most of the time to feeling damn good most of the time.

      1. sfmbelle413 Day Captain

        You pose a lot of great questions that I wish I had answers to – but you know yourself and your situation best. Therapy and working to better yourself can be and is exhausting. The thought you put into all of this and the fight you give says so many incredible things about your character. I am hoping you find that magic wand soon – you deserve it. In the mean time, please keep fighting.

  9. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thanks for sharing more with us. Do you think you could find a different group that’s more informal after your time finishes with this one? That may help with the transition. Let us know what else we can do to help.


    1. Solongago

      Well, when I saw that the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center opened an office in Ashtabula, Ohio, I contacted them to find out about groups. See when we get out of the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Group), we are supposed to commit to and after-care group. They have one, but it is at 7pm on Wednesday evening. I work second shift, so there is just no way. They have a list of other groups, but none of them seem to fit me, Like adolescent after-care.

      So I went specifically for a group for survivors. But they are few and far between in my neighborhood. The CRCC has me on some list for groups in either Ashtabula or Lake County. I can’t go all the way to Cleveland. And the second shift thing is probably a problem. But I am trying.