Snapshots into the Big Picture

**content may be disturbing. It’s graphic. Don’t read unless you’re in a strong place emotionally**

As I sit to write, I try to figure out what specific thing I want to focus on. My brain answers with about 10 things all at once. They all hit my thought train like a picture flip book. Thanks a lot. I could choose something that happened frequently, things that took a long time when they happened or just one episode of abuse as I’m able to recall it. There is also the long list of things that I had to work through after I charged my father. How did I deal with normal relationships, sexuality, and being intimate in healthy relationships?

One thing that keeps coming to mind all the ways my dad flirted with me. He would wink at me, pinch my butt while I was cooking in the kitchen, tell me how special I was but it was still our secret, flash me some big Hollywood smile as if I lit up his world. It made me nervous when it all started because I never knew how to react. He always told me that only sluts responded when men would whistle at them, etc. He would accuse me of looking for attention if I looked to where a car horn had beeped. The simplest of things could have me painted into some attention seeking whore child. So, when he would wink at me, I felt I was supposed to look happy that he was paying attention to me but not actually respond because I didn’t want to look like I liked it. Usually I panicked and gave a half smile but didn’t make eye contact and hope he was passing through the room on his way to do something else.

I’m having trouble referring to how old I was when things happened to me. I know I was 10 when the sexual abuse started but it continued for 6 years and events really bleed into one another. Many things were the same over and over again that referring to age seems insignificant. Various instances flash in my mind like snapshots and then disappear again. I realize that there were some shifts in perspective as I aged but individual instances of abuse are not always distinguishable. Some memories I can sort out by age a bit based on where they happened. Our family moved every 3 years or so until I charged him, so I remember certain basements, bedrooms or surroundings as the houses changed. That gives me a timeline of sorts.

My dad also made a point of explaining to me that he didn’t want me to experience too much so that I could still be “pure” for my husband. This was explained to be from the start. Being so young, I didn’t know what he was talking about as I had to that point, experienced nothing. As it turned out, he was specifically referring to keeping my virginity in tact. So, as long as he didn’t take that, he had saved me for my husband. That left a lot of oral sex that went both ways as well as various role playing that he would insist on. My sister and I found porn videos under our living room couch one day when I was about 11 or so. I would later conclude that a lot of the scenarios and dialogue that happened were inspired by porn. It makes sense because a lot of the stuff was pretty fucked up.

My home was never a safe haven for me. It was a place of chaos and fear. The most peaceful times for everyone were when my dad was out of town with his family or in jail. Other than that, no one knew what to expect and when. Since my dad had such a strict schedule for us, there was no hanging out at a friend’s house or staying after school for any teams or clubs. We had to be home when we were expected or be prepared for a lot of trouble. Since I moved out on my own at 16, I have always kept it a priority that my home would be my sanctuary from the outside world instead of the other way around. I’ve messed that up a couple of times, but I corrected it as soon as I was able. My home is a place of peace, healing, fun and yes, safety. I try not to overwhelm my kids with all the ways they can be safe but I’m very vigilant where my family is concerned. I never want them to think of home as anything other than the first place they look to for comfort and support. As both a survivor and a mother, I have many reasons to make sure my kids never have to feel the way I did growing up. I guess I’m setting up some context for my big picture. Like with anyone’s life, there is a lot of little things that work together to make a single experience, let alone a whole childhood.