At Odds with Iyanla Vanzant

July 17th, 2009

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about little-me and present-day-me.  For all I know, there are more me’s than that, but I really don’t think so.  I don’t have any of the symptoms of someone who has alters that take control, cause the person to have no memory of current day events, that sort of thing.

However, the chasm exists.  And part of me has a huge deal of frustration with little me, and just wishes I could walk the fuck right away from her.  I don’t want to deal with her shit, and I want a life that is free of the whole incest gift basket that I was the lucky winner of.

Part of me wants to kill her.  Just be done with the whole damned thing.

One book I have that I have read over and over is “Yesterday I Cried” by Iyanla Vanzant.  It’s really a great story of her own triumph over some horrid freaking things, including rape by her uncle.  Like me,  she didn’t  just have sexual abuse, she got the Trifecta of Abuse, or Quadfecta, as K called it in regards to my situation.

Anyhow, the one aspect of her story is that she “stopped” being Rhonda, and became Iyanla.  It’s been awhile since I last read the book, so I can’t recall the specifics off hand.  I do know that she went through what sounded like a beautiful ceremony with her friends.  Though I think that the ceremony was tied in to her becoming a…minister, for lack of better word, I think it also had to do with the re-naming.

When I very first read the book, I thought that all Iyanla described on her journey was incredibly powerful.  I still do.  I also think that the choices she made were perfectly right for her, and the spiritual progress she has made is undeniable.  I am truly happy that she has found comfort and peace.  She certainly deserves it.

But the next time I read the book, and the time after that, and all the times to follow, I tried imagining myself taking a similar path.  I’ve thought a great deal about re-naming.  I’ve thought about symbolic re-birthing. (not that that is any other kind I am aware of ;) ).  I’ve thought of so many different things, and when I cut to the core of them, it boils down to me wanting to be rid of little me.

To me wanting free of the living a life in the scratch and dent corner.  To no longer live on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Right or wrong, I am guilty of having looked disdainfully at little me.  I’ve wanted to obliterate the notion of her.  To wipe out the reality of being defenseless, unprotected, powerless, and backed into a figurative corner, with no one to rely on for my life other than 9 year old me.

I certainly have drank enough alcohol and done enough drugs to kill her, myself, and a small village.

But in the end, I have come to believe that she represents some of the best parts of me.  So what if she broke off from the rest of me?  Walk a mile in her shoes, and most adults would freak.  And is it a surprise that she doens’t trust people?  Or that she doesnt know how to value herself, or a host of other things?

So the fuck what.  She got through it.  She’s a tough little thing, I’ll give her that much.  She’s resourceful too.

And while I still have…and may always…have difficulties in “feeling” that she and I are one in the same, I intellectually know it.

I also know how brutually unfair that would be of me to just ditch her.

Undoubtedly, whichever part of me that is clinging to old ways of getting by is going to have to get with the program.  We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, and the things that saved us then are killing us now.

She fought so hard and coped with so much…there is no way I can just say

“see ya”

and not only abandon her, but try to kill her off for good.  Not when I have more clarity than I ever have had.  To do so would be willfull and premeditated.  It would be murder of the soul.

I can’t do that.

I won’t do that.

On top of it being vastly unfair, I believe it is not in my best interest to do so.  She holds the key to everything.

Sure, she knows all the terror and despair of what happened.  She knows it on a level that the me of today does not.

I know that it happened.  She had it happen to her.

But in addition to remembering how it felt and was to live in hell, she is the child from before the descent into the unimaginable.

She knows how to do the things that I want to re-learn.  The things that I have had the pleasure of holding in my palm for awhile from watching my sons and being their mother.

Things like joy and barefeet in grass and the smell of springtime and clean light and innocence.

I want to give those things back to her.  For I will gain them myself in return.

So while I’ve no doubt that Iyanla made the right choice for her in regards to Rhonda, I don’t think it is the right choice for me.  At least not at this stage of my journey.

Though the pull toward a cleansing of the spirit…a re-naming…a re-birth…a re-awaking…the pull toward those things is strong…

but if I do them, it will be little me and me doing them together.

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I Had an Emotion

July 17th, 2009

I like Hank Hill a lot.  Hank doesn’t fuck around with emotions.  He stuffs them way down inside, and just ignores them.  One episode where he teaches LuAnne to stuff her feelings is a personal favorite.

Emotions are messy, by and large, and I like things to be tidy and neat.  Not to mention they are scurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry!  Like monsters wif big teefs and witches with long green fingernails who want to scratch your eyebanols out.

Anyhow, I have changed my meditation routine.  Instead of meditating, I, as the present-day-me, have been trying to get the little-me to talk to me if she wants to.  After all, she’s the one who went to battle with the monster, so I figure she is the expert, right?

So we are sitting on the couch, and we are having this internal dialogue.  I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I think the gist of it was present-day-me reassuring little-me that things were going to be okay, that none of it was her fault, etc, etc.

And the subject of being bad was touched on by one of us.  Don’t remember which one.

And little me said something like “I must be really bad.  Because you’d have to be really bad for your own mom not to protect you”.

I felt so bad for her.  It made me cry.

Not like sob or anything, but I did get watery eyes and I had a couple of tears roll down my cheek.  And if you knew me, you’d know that was saying a good bit.

So in the words of Hank Hill

“I had an emotion”.

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I Don’t Like the Word Survivor

July 17th, 2009

I fuckin’ hate when people say “I am an incest survivor”.   Or “I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse”.  The word is like nails to the chalkboard of my mind.

Survivor is so….it’s like getting a C on your report card.  It implies the bare minimum, or at least to my ears it does.

Granted, I get that sometimes surviving is the best you can hope for.  Yes Siree, I sure  ’nuff can put my mental paws on that critter.

But when the word is used, it most generally always is used to refer to something that has occurred in the past.    And a phrase like…

I am in incest survivor…

if you really listen to it, the balance of power in that sentence belongs to the word incest.  The word survivor seems pretty neutral in comparison to the ‘taboo’ word.

And that, boys and girls, is why I don’t like it.  I’d rather people say that they are a victim of, rather than they survived.

Survival is like….I dunno…you are here, you exist…but nothing else…like a world of vapid blandness and some mushy food like oatmeal, except that I like oatmeal.  So let’s say grits.

It’s bland and it’s grits and it’s that white paste used in elementary schools and it is the smell of wet newspapers.

It is a word that

trivializes

what happened.

I think the word “triumph” is much more apt.

Because if you lived through incest or another form of childhood sexual abuse, and you are around to tell the tale today, then you, my friend, have triumphed.  I don’t care how fucked up in the head you may be, I don’t care if you’ve got 23 Sybil personalities, I don’t care if you have such a skewed view of your own self that a cockroach has more value in your eyes, I don’t care if you are unable to trust, love…anything…

it doesn’t matter.

The simple facts are that something in you so very strongly wanted to overcome your reality.  Something in you wanted desperately to live.  If not, you’d have found a way out.  Suicide is an equal opportunity employer, after all.

But you didn’t.  Whatever coping mechanism you developed, you played the cards you were dealt.

So fuck a whole semi load full of being a “survivor”.

The fact that you are here today means you triumphed.

Disclaimer:  If you have grown up and become a molester, then none of the above applies to you.  You did not triumph or survive.  You became the monster that consumed you.  I’d like to be able to have pity for you, but I can’t, so fuck you.  There are always choices, and you made the wrong one.

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Minimizing or Protecting?

July 7th, 2009

I, like a lot of other people in the world, have felt sorrow at the recent passing of Michael Jackson.  His music and dancing was a positive thing that I remember from my youth, and God knows, there are not many of them.  I’ve read reams of words and watched tons of videos.  One line out of all those read words struck me to the core, and to recall it gives me mental shivers.

I can’t remember where I read this, and this is not an exact quote.  But the gist of it was this…

“In remembering Michael Jackson, we must understand that sometimes…a child’s soul…too ill used…never finds it’s way back home”.

And in combination with that, I was spelling checking another entry, and typed the word molestation into the search bar, and subsequently went to visit the wikipedia entry about it.  Granted, wiki’s aren’t absolute, and are prone to error due to the open nature of it.  However, some of the stuff was just like…mind reeling…is the only term that I can quickly think of.

Some examples…

Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.

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Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life.[9][22] Psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects include depression,[5][23][24]post-traumatic stress disorder,[6][25] anxiety,[7] eating disorders, poor self-esteem, dissociative and anxiety disorders; general psychological distress and disorders such as somatization, neurosis, chronic pain,[24] sexualized behavior,[26] school/learning problems; and behavior problems including substance abuse,[27][28] destructive behavior, criminality in adulthood and suicide.[11][29][30][31][32][33]

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Long term negative effects on development leading to re-victimization in adulthood are also associated with child sexual abuse.[8][27] Studies have established a causal relationship between childhood sexual abuse and certain specific areas of adult psychopathology, including suicidality, antisocial behavior, PTSD, anxiety and alcoholism

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Sexually abused children suffer from more psychological symptoms than children who have not been abused; studies have found symptoms in 51% to 79% of sexually abused children.[31][39][40][41][42][43] The level of harm may also be affected by various factors such as penetration, duration and frequency of abuse, and use of force.[9][22][44][45] The social stigma of child sexual abuse may compound the psychological harm to children,[46][47] and adverse outcomes are less likely for abused children who have supportive family environments.[48][49] The risk of harm is greater if the abuser is a relative, if the abuse involves intercourse or attempted intercourse, or if threats or force are used.

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This one made me especially chuckle…

Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories.[52] The level of dissociation has been found to be related to reported overwhelming sexual and physical abuse.[53] When severe sexual abuse (penetration, several perpetrators, lasting more than one year) had occurred, dissociative symptoms were even more prominent.[53]

Child sexual abuse independently predicts the number of symptoms for PTSD a person displays, after controlling for possible confounding variables, according to Widom (1999), who wrote “sexual abuse, perhaps more than other forms of childhood trauma, leads to dissociative problems … these PTSD findings represent only part of the picture of the long-term psychiatric sequelae associated with early childhood victimization … antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and other forms of psychopathology.”[6] Children may develop symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder resulting from child sexual abuse, even without actual or threatened injury or violence.[54]

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Because child sexual abuse often occurs alongside other possibly confounding variables, such as poor family environment and physical abuse,[55] some scholars argue it is important to control for those variables in studies which measure the effects of sexual abuse.[22][35][56][57] In a 1998 review of related literature, Martin and Fleming, state “The hypothesis advanced in this paper is that, in most cases, the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child’s developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality, and that many of the mental health problems of adult life associated with histories of child sexual abuse are second-order effects.”[58] Other studies have found an independent association of child sexual abuse with adverse psychological outcomes.[7][22][59]

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Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.[72][73] Various studies have suggested that severe child sexual abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development. Ito et al. (1998) found “reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence in abused subjects;”[74] Teicher et al. (1993) found that an increased likelihood of “ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms” in abused subjects;[75] Anderson et al. (2002) recorded abnormal transverse relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis of adults sexually abused in childhood;[76] Teicher et al. (1993) found that child sexual abuse was associated with a reduced corpus callosum area; various studies have found an association of reduced volume of the left hippocampus with child sexual abuse;[77] and Ito et al. (1993) found increased electrophysiological abnormalities in sexually abused children.[78]

Some studies indicate that sexual or physical abuse in children can lead to the overexcitation of an undeveloped limbic system.[77] Teicher et al. (1993)[75] used the “Limbic System Checklist-33″ to measure ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms in 253 adults. Reports of child sexual abuse were associated with a 49% increase to LSCL-33 scores, 11% higher than the associated increase of self-reported physical abuse. Reports of both physical and sexual abuse were associated with a 113% increase. Male and female victims were similarly affected.[75][79]

Navalta et al. (2006) found that the self-reported math Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of their sample of women with a history of repeated child sexual abuse were significantly lower than the self-reported math SAT scores of their non-abused sample. Because the abused subjects verbal SAT scores were high, they hypothesized that the low math SAT scores could “stem from a defect in hemispheric integration.” They also found a strong association between short term memory impairments for all categories tested (verbal, visual, and global) and the duration of the abuse.[80]

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Children who received supportive responses following disclosure had less traumatic symptoms and were abused for a shorter period of time than children who did not receive support.[92][93] In general, studies have found that children need support and stress-reducing resources after disclosure of sexual abuse.[94][95] Negative social reactions to disclosure have actually been found to be harmful to the survivor’s well being.[96] One study reported that children who received a bad reaction from the first person they told, especially if the person was a close family member, had worse scores as adults on general trauma symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and dissociation.[97] Another study found that in most cases when children did disclose abuse, the person they talked to did not respond effectively, blamed or rejected the child, and took little or no action to stop the abuse.[95]

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Have you read all that?

Good.

Now read it again.

When I read it, I instantly get an attitude of ‘why the fuck even bother’.  Why go to the time and the expense and the sheer pain-in-the-assness of it all, if stuff like this is true:

Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.”

I have read this in other places besides wikipedia, so it’s not like I doubt the validity of it.  And if we accept that such is true, then WHY THE FUCK BOTHER WITH TRYING TO GET FREE OF ANY OF THIS?

It’s not like going thousands of dollars in debt and spending countless hours struggling with it would make any difference.  We can’t un-do changes to brain development.

So, while I think that, without a doubt, I do minimize it, and say ‘other people had it worse’ as part of my dissociation, I also think it is because to think otherwise is just too fucking dauting.

In other words, if I think it was as bad as it was, that means that I have to acknowledge all those nasty after-effects.

And if I have to acknowledge them as true, then the task at hand is simply too not doable, the up-hill-battle just too steep to climb.

What would be the point in fighting demons that you KNOW full well going in are going to win?

So when I say ‘other people had it worse’…

am I miminizing, or am I protecting the part of me who wants to triump?

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Sitting on the Edge of the Moon

June 26th, 2009

Sitting on the Edge of the Moon

Slipping under a pink ruffled bedspread
Cocooning blankets tight and close
Always but always turning away from the door
Pulling as far into herself as she can
Breathing as shallowly as possible
Wanting to make no sound
Wanting not to exist
Small body tense and alert

Ears straining…listening
for sounds of the monster

Vigilant until the need for sleep
sings a siren song of false security
Of a safety that has never been

Drifting off, muscles slackening
breaths becoming deeper

And while the moonlight streams
in a nearby window
Bathing her face in the violet kissed beams
The monster stirs and arises

No one to warn her of it’s approach
No one to fend it off

Jerked out of sleep that is always uneasy
Like a fish dining unsuspectingly on a hook laden worm
Heart in throat, as adrenaline floods the world
Scream swallowed as a hand rests on her hip
Silent and still
Playing possum as if her life depended upon it

Silly girl, doesn’t she know
That she died a long time ago?

Termite ridden paneling
so frail in places
you could poke holes in
it with your fingers
Like probing man fingers poked
holes in her soul

Mind a caged animal
Not daring to move
to breathe
to be
she steps through the wall
and disappears
leaving the monster behind

And from the edge of the moon
Another girl watches
Lightly perched, legs swinging back and forth
As a soft diamond dust breeze gently blows

She watches as the dead girl lies so still
A show she’s seen many times before

Yet she watches anyway

The defiler doesn’t touch
Outside of a hand to the hip
His work..the murder…done long ago
Yet he is compelled to return
To the place where she died

A tribute paid to her demise
He brings not roses
But strokes his dick
And splashes commemorative  funeral cum
On the hardwood floor

His property marked
the defiler quietly goes
leaving the girl behind

Except she is really no longer there

And the girl
sitting on the edge of the moon
glances at the dead body
still wrapped in the pink flowered bedspread
a small lift of her shoulders
having lost interest in this oft repeated play

She rises and walks along
the curve of the crescent moon
Humming a song
Moonlight reflected in her black patent leather shoes
As the diamond dust wind lifts her hair

The dead girl…
forgotten

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Memory – 4th of July parade

June 22nd, 2009

As I mentioned earlier, I am pretty disassociated. While I don’t think that my personality is totally splintered or anything, I do know that I tend (as in most of the time) to really not connect emotionally. Not to myself, and not to other people.

I don’t know if I’d have been this way no matter, or whether the abuse caused it. It is what it is though.

Add to that, I don’t have many memories of my childhood at all. I think that my mind, as a protective mechanism, issued some kind of order to the troops. “Hey, we’ve got a child brain on overload here. Batten down the hatches, and either bury it deep, or take an industrial strength eraser to it. Mayday, mayday, this is not an alert. Child is going to snap”.

In other words, I think there are some things that, to ensure survival, the brain just steps in, and applies a filter that it normally would not. When K and I talked about this, I likened it to a woman having a child, and how that if we could truly remember the feeling…not just the vague notion of “yes, I know it hurt”…if women could actually remember the pain of childbirth, then the human race would have probably died out a long time ago.

So, I’m really not sure that trying to push for any memories is a good thing to do. I think it is safe to say that after enduring molestation for 5 years, my brain has had a lot to sweep under the rug. I am not sure that it truly is in my best interest to try to remember.

As an aside, to clarify, no one is suggesting to me that I should. It’s just rather a quandary. How do you connect to feelings as part of the healing process if you have no feelings to remember?

More on that in later posts. For now, one with the memory

A bare minimum of my stepfather, and my stepfather’s brother were at the 4th of July parade. I’m sure my brothers, my mother my and sister were there too, but I don’t remember.

What I do remember is hearing my stepfather’s brother tell my stepfather with a real leering tone that I was going to be “built like a brick shithouse”. I can remember feeling really embarrassed…that feeling when your cheeks get hot and feeling really creeped out. I also remember wanting to just go away.

A final thing that I remember about that incident is what I had on. They were purple shorts and a purple and white striped tank top. I don’t know how old I was at the time, but I remember the clothes were made by Buster Brown, and that is a children’s brand, I am pretty sure.

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Friday’s ShrinkChick Visit

June 22nd, 2009

I like K.

I really do.

But Friday, I decided that she is either

a) A sadist

or

b) has an incredibly off-the-wall sense of humor.

I say these things because she looked me in the eye, and actually uttered the word “group”. As in support.

Christ in a sidecar, I’d rather drive a rusty railroad spike into my left temple than attend a support group. The mere notion of it is like chalk shrieking on a blackboard in some part of my brain.

Anyhow, my assignment was to try to find out information about local groups. Local being about a 50 mile round trip drive. Where in addition to being a freakin’ group, they probably expect people to be on time, and that sort of thing. That is not at all my forte.

So I’ve looked online, and came up with nada. I will make the call that she suggested to me before our next appointment.

However, the odds of me ever agreeing to attend something like this are slim to none. I get her rationale for it. I am so disassociated, and somehow, I have to come to terms that it is me that this happened to…it’s not some thing I am all surgically removed from.

But a GROUP of all things? That is so TOTALLY foreign to who I am that I could barely keep from rolling my eyes and shaking my head when she said it.

But she’s a good girl, so I cut her some slack.

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Negative Energy vs Positive Energy

June 15th, 2009

In retrospect, I used a couple of words to describe my mother that are filled with negative energy. I’ve come to believe that it helps me to be who I want to be when I am able to avoid putting negative energy into the universe. I don’t just mean that in the sense of coming to terms with how years of abuse and neglect have impacted me. I mean it in the context of my entire life.

K and I touched upon that in one of our sessions. Since I have not mentioned her yet, K is my therapist, and I’ve seen her a couplethree times thus far. K will have to do for her name, as I am not sure of her level of comfort in having it broadcast to the world. And while most of this has been my own journey, this part of it she and I will share.

I’m not sure how it works, but you know how it is when you meet someone, and you very quickly know that this person ‘clicks’ with you? That is how it is with K for me. I’ve been to other counselors who wanted to delve into this serpent’s nest, but there was no way. I had to feel like the person could be trusted with that part of me. I don’t mean trust in the confidentiality sense, more like in the sense that they were up to it ability-wise, and that they at least could accept some of my beliefs, if not share them.

eg, the energy thing. I don’t want to put negative energy out there. Why? It’s simple, I believe that you get back what you give. I believe that when we put negative energy out, the person that we harm most is ourselves.

And lest anyone get confused, this has nothing to do with trying to avoid feelings or reactions that this childhood clusterfuck brings to life. What it does have to do with is having a choice.

Have I lost you yet? I almost have lost myself, as it is very late, and the Sandman is tugging at my sleeve.

To try to clarify, it means that yes, I can indeed use words like “weak” and “spineless”. Are those apt descriptions? In my expert opinion, having been the recipient of her actions and lack thereof, I’d say, yes, Virginia, those are indeed apt descriptions.

But the connotations of the words themselves is negative. And as soon as I even think them in my head in relationship to her, knots start forming in my stomach. Knots of anger, disdain, and contempt. And me having those knots isn’t hurting anyone but me.

All that could lead to a very lengthy post about the internal war that I feel on forgiveness and letting go. A post I am not *even* going to attempt at 2:00 a.m.

So to close this out, let me re-word the bit I used. Let’s pretend that instead of “weak” and “spineless” I said something along a way of thinking that K suggested. And that would be to act as if I can say “for whatever reasons, she was unable to give the protection to her children that we normally think of mother’s giving”.

What was easy to pretend, wasn’t it? I’m a pro at pretending.

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Child Abuse and The Shawshank Redemption

June 12th, 2009

Child abuse and The Shawshank Redemption probably don’t seem to have a lot, if anything, in common .  But in my mind, they do.

You see,  one is hell.  If you believe in hell, that is.  I don’t.  Not in the Christian context of the word, anyway. But it’s the easiest, most concise word I can think of to describe it.  The Shawshank Redemption…well, that scene when Andy Dufresne climbs out of the sewer, into the pouring rain, and stands, his arms raised in exaltation…well, that, boys and girls is the triumph of the human spirit. It is hope. It is the ability of a human to endure the unendurable, and to come out on the other side with the core essence of themselves intact.

Andy was able to do it. As of today, I have not. I’ve never fully came out of the sewer, and I still have shit and muck and goo from hell all over me. Whether the rain can wash it clean or not remains to be seen.

But, to further borrow from Mr. King, who borrowed from someone else, hope does spring eternal. I suppose that is why I am still here, and why I am writing my story.

According to Greek mythology, my name means Goddess of the Moon. Sounds good, yes? Who wouldn’t like to be a Goddess? I’d like to think that the birth person sat around and read mythology, thought it was a cool name, and gave it to me.

It didn’t work like that. My name came from a book called “Peyton Place.” That in and of itself is not a bad thing. At least someone read a book.

Many years ago, I read the book too. I had to laugh when I read about the character that shares my name getting raped by her stepfather. It was like a cosmic joke or something. After all, what are the odds that a person would name her daughter after a character in a book who had a weak, spineless mother, and got repeatedly raped by her stepfather, and then have the daughter grow up having a weak, spineless mother and get repeatedly molested by her stepfather?

That, my friends, is whacked. It’s either predestination, or some type of morbid-as-fuck perfect storm of events. I’m not sure which. And while it totally doesn’t really matter, I do rather like to roll the notion around in my mind from time to time.

Oh yes, before I forget…

I will be saying fuck.

A lot.

So if that bothers you, I’d suggest stopping reading right now. Because neither my language, or my story, is a pretty one. However, if you like to look at train wrecks of the mind and spirit, then step right up and come along for the ride. Keep your hands inside the car, and no one will get hurt.

Just joking, there is nothing here to harm you. It’s just a bunch of broken mental shards, and those couldn’t hurt a flea. Still, I wouldn’t touch them if I were you. Some of them are pretty sharp, and they have the ability to draw blood.

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