Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Revelation

I was sitting here reading Martha Alderson's latest news in her iZine. She was talking about the Front story and the Back story. I do not always understand everything I read but to me this was a huge revelation. In your writing you don't have to tell the back story as long as you yourself understand how it is affecting you.

My whole life has been affected by the abuse I suffered ass a child. I remember all the times my mother would tell her friends that she had wished to have two children. That her life was perfect until she became pregnant with me. How she had tried to lose the baby by following advice from people who knew things like that. Every minute detail seared itself into my memory. Suddenly I realized how important all those little snippets of gossip affected me, but the actual abuse, the physical abuse has had little effect on me. I was beaten with a rug beater on my bare back and behind so I could not go swimming at the beach because of welts and bruises. My hair was pulled so that huge sections of my scalp was exposed until new hair grew in. 

When punishment was meted out my mother wanted to see me cry. I would grit my teeth and swear I would not give her that satisfaction. And so my beatings became longer and longer. Not very smart of me. And now I am interested in realizing that the physical abuse never comes to mind, whereas the mind games are with me on a daily basis. Once I wrote a short story about my mother and her tribulations, and I felt I forgave her for what she did to me. But there are still scars somewhere in my mind. 



16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you were able to move beyond the abuse you suffered as a child. Thank you for your honesty and observations. Shreve is very lucky to have you in her life (I am a Daily Coyote fan and now a fan of yours, too.)

Anonymous said...

Svensto, how good of you to share with us .
We love you Svensto.

Arinn said...

you are so strong for having gone past that and being a better mother to your children than your mother was to you. it's sad to hear that you had such a painful childhood but thank you for sharing your truths with us.

SeaBreeze said...

It makes me feel so sad to hear of your abuse as a child. Everyone deserves a childhood with love and protection. However, we are the product of our life experiences... and without them we would be someone different. I think you are a very special lady! I enjoy reading your entries... thanks for sharing.

Ter-o-fla said...

It is amazing that you have come beyond that and are not horribly bitter nor did you abuse your own children. How marvelously resilient you have been! I admire you for that. Thank you for telling us. It makes my own "problems" seem so insignificant by comparison.

Sheryl said...

You are such a beautiful person. I love your blog and I love you.

Steph said...

You are a brave and strong woman, Svensto. Thank you for sharing this part of you life with us. I am honored. I think the effects of abuse are peeled away over the years as we are ready. You are a true survivor and I respect you greatly.

Meg said...

Gertrud, you are such a strong and lovely person! I hope you realize how many people you help and inspire with your words. It's amazing isn't it, how sometimes the past is just a vague memory and other times it feels like it happened just yesterday. I also hope you know how very loved and worthwhile you are, even if your mother didn't happen to agree.

Beth said...

Dear Gertrud,

Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us. You broke the cycle of abuse and I commend you for that. So many times, the abused becomes the abuser. You did not do this. You are very dear to your readers and everyone else in your life.

Anonymous said...

"This wound then is what she must become conscious of and overcome in order for the sense of perfection to be restored in the final 1/4 of the story."

Now that you are conscious of the wound, your task is to become vigilant of your thoughts. At the first sign of any negativity, consciously banish the false beliefs of others and replace them with loving affirmations and live out the final 1/4 of your life with a sense of perfection. Yes!!

Hmmmm, since you're 91 now, you get to live to the ripe old age of... since I'm not great at math, I'll just estimate = 120 years old in the loving embrace of perfection!!!!

Barbara Shallue said...

What a testament to your spirit (and an inspiration to others) that you were able to write about it and forgive your mother - and share with us. Thank you!

Kim said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I too was verbally and physically abused as child by my mother, but it is the verbal abuse that has affected my life more. As another commenter said though, we are a product of our experiences. The only positive thing I can say about my childhood is that it has made me a sensitive and empathetic person. Clearly you a strong woman. Thank you for your lovely blog.

Cassie said...

I just had an experience this week which dredged up my experiences of (mild) sexual abuse - heavy fondling by 3 different strangers, from the ages of 10 - 17.

My 7 year old daughter was taking the school bus home this week, when 3 boys and a girl (her "best" friend!) all ganged up on her. It started with pinching and pushing, and ended up with 2 slightly older boys slapping her in her genitals. She came off the bus in a state of shock, and said that boys had been putting their hands in her privates (at first, I thought they did it inside her pants, rather than outside).

I freaked, and in retrospect I'm so glad I acted as I did. As usual when one of the kids is hurt or upset, I worked on emotionally stabilizing things before asking lots of questions. In that space of time, I realized how seared into my memory those nasty incidents were, and how I've been dragging them along in my life like chains for many decades. I noticed that I was reacting to her experience as if it was the same as mine, which it clearly wasn't. And I realized it was really important to me that she didn't remember this as a sexual incident.

As annoying as boys can be, I was pretty sure they didn't intend to attack her in a sexual way, and at the age of 8, I figured it was unlikely they understood what they'd done, much less intended to do it. I talked to all the parents (before even realizing that some kids I thought were witnesses were actually participants) and we pieced together what happened. I worked with our school principal, a woman, who wad horrified at the touching but agreed that the focus should be the dynamic that led up to it, rather than the end result.

She highlighted that there were 3 problem behaviors: lots of bus rules broken; ganging up on and bullying another kid; and inappropriate touching, which covered pinching, etc. as well as bum-slapping. All the kids were made to understand that they had a part it in, they all apologized (sincerely, as they were generally very scared!), and they all lost the privilege of riding the school bus for a while.

It's helped me erase a bit of my scars, to realize that having a champion who makes sure the right thing is done helps one let it go. Being able to help my daughter now, and have it succeed, gives me hope that if/when anything else happens to her, we'll have good communication and she will be able to share her burden rather than carry it, hidden with shame, for much of her life.

I know my comments aren't really relevant to you, other than to consider the double impact of physical and emotional abuse BY the one person who has the highest duty to protect you. Of course it's damaged you your whole life, it's a violation of very essential human rights. Not only were these issue hidden in days past, and not understood as they are now, but the time and place you grew up in had so many other extreme challenges that emotional issues were probably under valued. The poverty, scarcity of resources, a tougher climate (I remember the story of your brother crying as he pulled on his itchy stockings), and many other circumstances did not provide a setting where there was comfort and leisure to indulge in the nurturing sort of motherhood I and my peers strive for.

It was very nasty of your mother to let you know that you were not wanted (verbally as in other ways), and amazing to us that she did not know the damage she was doing. She seems to have been a very damaged person herself.

I continue to be amazed at the rich life you developed for yourself when you were able to come to the US. That's the best way to stand up to her, after all: succeed on your own.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!!

Barbara said...

Dear Gertrud,
You had so much beauty inside you that, in spite of all the negativity your mother threw at you, you emerged the loving and loved person you are.

shibi04 said...

I am so sorry that you were abused. The abuse that you suffered makes my blood boil! I feel that my small words cannot undo the years of pain that you have endured... but maybe they can help a little bit? I am beyond glad that your mother had three children and that I have somehow been fortunate enough to have "met" you here. Among the bazillion wonderful things that you clearly are, you are the child that I would cherish the most. Hugs, to you! Big, bowl-you-over hugs!

Ariel said...

This really puts some of your other posts in perspective. From what you've written, I understand that you, yourself, were a wonderful, loving mother. You've spread so much love through your family, and it's passed from you even to your grandchildren. You're such an inspiring woman. Your own mother really missed out! Shame on her.