Our first family session

We had our first family session yesterday for our daughter’s residential treatment program without our daughter. We were able to meet her therapist online whom we all really like.

I told the therapist about everything that happened with my dad. I told her that my oldest daughter Angel found child porn on his computer and turned him into the police a couple of weeks before Christmas. I told her how I was devastated by the news. But I had to put on a happy face because we had two foreign exchange students and I wanted nothing more than to give them the perfect American Christmas. I didn’t tell my daughter Arabella about my dad either. Childhood is sacred to me and I wanted to keep it that way for her.

In essence, I was the one that pushed Arabella away. I told her everything was okay but she could tell it was not. Then there was that day when I was in hypervigilant PTSD mode. She came up behind me to give me a hug. I didn’t know she was there and freaked out when she touched me. I screamed at her to get away from me. Later I tried to explain things, it wasn’t her it was me. I still didn’t tell her what was wrong and she still felt rejected.

Not long after that she accused Estelle of stealing all of her friends away. She just didn’t fit in. Estelle was this super cute petite popular French girl with a vivacious lust for life. Arabella was the strange, klutzy, overweight, socially awkward, friendly girl with a good heart. She couldn’t compete.

When we sold our business a couple years back, we bought my dream house complete with an indoor pool. I would’ve killed to have the life we have given her. She, though, wanted to kill herself. She started going to a new school her sophomore year. Arabella wanted to give it a try. She was always my kid that embraced change, adventures, and new experiences. She was very adaptable. But the school was very cliquey and she didn’t fit in. Her junior year we brought in two foreign exchange students. We thought it would make it easier for her, but it didn’t in the end. Instead she felt rejected by me and her peers.

When she started to experience depression, I asked her what she had to be depressed about. After all, I’d given her the perfect life. She didn’t have to live with a greasy pedophile dad. A mom who stayed with him so she didn’t have to be alone. She didn’t have to live with an autistic/schizophrenic brother who heard voices to kill pretty much everyone I was close to in my life plus countless random strangers. She didn’t have to deal with having a lazy ass dad who was barely employed. She didn’t have to live in a filthy hoarding house that no one feels comfortable in. I could probably go on…………but won’t. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you probably got the picture.

I simply just wanted my kids to be kids. I wanted to protect them from the chaos and insanity that ruled my life as a child that somehow has a way of still spilling into my adult life. I was very upset that what I had worked hard to give her wasn’t good enough. She should be happy. She didn’t have any reason not to be, except….well…..genetics.

Right before the pandemic

Maybe she was crying out but I wasn’t listening. Her problems seemed so petty, like the fight with Estelle. I had given her everything I wanted but never had as a child. In my mind my problems always trumped hers because I was shielding her from life’s real problems. I didn’t listen to any complaints about how hard she had it for anything.

But in reality I really was trying to protect her. She just didn’t know about it. I didn’t tell her anything about my dad. I didn’t tell her that several weeks back her older sister found child porn on their grandpa’s computer and turned him in to the police. She was a child. I wanted to protect her from that. She seemed so innocent, carefree, and happy. Why take that from her?

I developed a plan. Arabella was going to be a foreign exchange student. Maybe she wouldn’t find out about her grandpa until it was all over. But I was worried. There were a few problems with the plan for the children in my house to have the perfect childhood. The police could arrest him any day and then the world would know what kind of monster my dad is. Our foreign exchange students might get sent home. Their parents might not want them here although they would have nothing to do with my dad.

Then there was the part about me being a complete and total mess. I fell into a downward spiral of depression and despair after I heard about my dad. I suffered greatly from the blow and the trauma I experienced as a child resurfaced in the worst way. I knew I was suffering from Complex PTSD. But that knowledge didn’t stop me from going through what I did.

I pushed everyone away. I pretended everything was okay. But I wondered how anything could ever be fine again.

I experienced moments of extreme anxiety and hyper-vigilance. One day I thought I could try to calm myself by listening to music in my earbuds. Arabella came up behind me unexpectedly to give me a hug. I freaked out and screamed at her to not touch me and get away from me. I was horrified. I apologized and tried to explain to her not to touch me if my back was to her. But I could tell she didn’t understand. She felt rejected and I blamed myself for it.

After Arabella’s suicide attempt, we had a long talk. I decided to tell her everything that was happening with my dad. I told her that I was having a hard time with it and me pushing her away had nothing to do with her. Together we cried.

Inside, though, I was furious. If my dad didn’t screw up my life once again I would’ve noticed that my daughter was depressed. I didn’t call him on his birthday. I didn’t even send a card. I blamed him for what happened with Arabella. I was so focused on his mess that I didn’t even notice my own child was suffering.

I wasn’t doing well before the suicide attempt and I certainly didn’t do well after. I suffered severely from insomnia and nightmares for over a month. I thought I was going to lose my mind. That all happened right before the pandemic.

Still waiting…

We were expecting something to happen at any minute when COVID hit the nation. Nothing happened. Would they delay pressing charges?

The detective told me they found 20 images on the laptop. That was before they took my dad’s main computer. I hardly think that would be overlooked. We are talking felony charges, a hefty fine, and my dad spending the rest of his life in prison. It’s hard to process. Would I go to the trial? Would I visit him in prison? Write letters? A part of me doesn’t want to worry about that until it happen.

When the pandemic hit the nation, my brother’s group home shut down temporarily and my brother came home. My mom became paranoid about the virus. She pushed almost everyone away. Yet she was stuck at home with my dad and brother, both who needed care. I watched my mom start to slip. It wore her down and she stopped sleeping. She started taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills but none of it really worked. She ended up having a bad side effect from the medication and ended up in the hospital.

I took my brother back to his group home. Once they took him back he was not allowed to come back home and hasn’t been home since. Meanwhile, my mom stayed at home locked in the house with my dad. She started doing strange things. Sometimes she wanted to leave my dad, then at other times she told me that my dad was now the love of her life. He held her at night when she couldn’t sleep and helped her through it. He comforted her from the pain he caused her. It was all very bizarre and I had to wonder if she had some sort of mental illness that went beyond anxiety. No one would blame her for wanting to leave. But staying?

In June, the police department contacted my parents and said they could pick up some of the items from evidence. They printed off the photos on the laptop for my mom like they said they would. That is how this whole thing started. My mom’s laptop crashed and she wanted to save her pictures so she gave it to my daughter’s boyfriend to fix. The police printed off her pictures but kept the laptop as evidence. They also kept my dad’s computer. I can’t even imagine how many images were found on there.

This set us off to feeling upset, angry, and on edge again. It could be any minute, any time that they would receive a knock on the door. I accompanied my mom to visit the lawyer to get her affairs in order. The conversation about my dad was very uncomfortable. In the end, she didn’t end up doing anything.

I think part of my mom’s decision to stay with my dad was because she didn’t want to leave the house she has been living in for the last 45 years. Also, if he is arrested and goes to prison she really doesn’t have to go through all the work of moving. The house would be hers.

But there was a part of her that pressured us to accept our dad. Your dad loves you. Your dad is praying for you. She wrote birthday cards where she went back to cross out the I and wrote WE love you. Sometimes she would talk to me on speaker phone and I didn’t know my dad was listening to the conversation. Sometimes she would prompt him to say things to me…tell your daughter that you love her. It was uncomfortable and disturbing. I honestly think that both of my parents might have serious mental health problems.

It’s been over a year now. Still nothing has happened. The first 7 months were especially challenging. With COVID and my dad we haven’t gotten together with family for over a year. I didn’t even talk to or see my brother Mark in 2020. The family cabin has fallen into disrepair. Our hands are tied because our dad owns the cabin. There have been miscommunications and hard feelings. It sucks!

It’s messed up but I’ve been processing it. I realize it could all unravel at any minute. But until then I’ll be waiting for the ax to drop. As the song says, sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.

Finding God?

Something else strange happened. A couple weeks after the police came, old friends of my parents showed up at their door. They hadn’t seen each other for about 10 years. The couple said they were sent by God. The man reached out to my dad and my dad accepted.

A couple months previous I told my dad that I hope he finds God before God found him. At that time my dad smugly laughed and said it was unlikely that would ever happen. Apparently he had a change of heart.

It was an especially confusing and difficult time for me. If my dad truly accepted Christ then I expected my phone to be ringing off the hook from his contrite heart asking for forgiveness. It didn’t happen. I had this salvation fantasy that we would have this new relationship and he would be the dad I always wanted him to be. My mom was terribly excited, but I wasn’t convinced.

My mom said that he reads the Bible and prays with her. Does he really read the Bible? Well…he listens to it when it is read. Does he really pray with you? Well…he says amen after I pray. Or is he just doing what you want so you don’t leave? My mom believes that my dad has faith. Now he is finally the man she wants him to be. She believes what she wants to believe despite evidence to the contrary. It’s helping her to love and live with him again.

You see, I think I wanted my dad to find God for me. Then everything would somehow be magical and perfect. I wanted to feel happy, but instead I felt betrayed. God loves my dad but he surely doesn’t love me. Look what happened.

I can be a fair weather Christian at times. When things are going well, I am pretty happy with God. When things aren’t going well, I don’t go out and seek God more like some people do. Instead I get angry. I shake my fist and ask God why he would do something like that to me. Why are you punishing me God? If you have complete control why did you allow this to happen? Are you even there? Don’t you care about me? What did I do to deserve this? Why? WHY???

I didn’t feel like God could love both my dad and me simultaneously. In fact, God was one of the few places I could find solace from my dad as a child. He mocked and laughed at my mother for going to church. I wanted God more because my dad wasn’t there. Faith was almost an act of rebellion.

I question if my dad has real faith. But that isn’t for me to judge. I have a very limited capacity to trust both God and man which makes me more skeptical. I didn’t expect my dad’s crime then his subsequent faith would shake my foundation to its very core. I had to go back and examine my life. Part of my foundation was held together with childlike beliefs which held no merit. I had to re-evaluate what is truth versus what is just a coping mechanism. It was a process I had to work through. I had no idea it would leave me questioning everything I ever believed in.

I had to separate myself from my parents and find my own way.

Collateral damage

Nothing happened. Christmas passed, then we entered the new year. It was a month after the police came, still nothing.

My mom stayed with us a few days, then with her siblings. Eventually she went back home. My mom had a doctor appointment she wanted me to take her to. She didn’t trust that my dad wouldn’t drive them both off the road. I talked to my dad that day for the first time since everything happened. He looked sickly and lost a lot of weight. I told him I was sorry which seemed kind of weird since he was the one that committed the crime. He asked why I was sorry and I said that I never wanted things to be the way they were. I wanted a dad that loved and protected me.

As a child, I wanted retribution. I wanted my dad to burn in hell and pay for every cruel thing he did. But when his head was on the chopping block I found I didn’t want it as much anymore. It really was painful for the rest of us.

It wasn’t long before things went back to normal almost. My mom’s doctor visit went well. A week later my dad went in for a stress test. I wasn’t hoping for good results. I was hoping that he would have congestive heart failure like his mother. I was hoping that he would silently die and the whole prison thing would just go away.

You see, I didn’t want us to pay the price for his crime. My dad would be far worse then not being respected. He would be a registered sex offender, a pedophile. I would have a parent in prison. It wasn’t the kind of inheritance I was planning on receiving. The family name would be dragged through the dirt. Having the same last name might reflect negatively on my brother’s career. My dad lives in the same small town he grew up in. It would ruin the family name that my grandparents and their parents before them proudly built in that small town.

We probably couldn’t even go up north to the family cabin because everyone knows us up there too. People might make assumptions about the character of the rest of us. People might destroy our property or even threaten my mother who still lives in the house she spent the past 45 years in. A single heart attack and those worries would all be gone. But his physical heart was fine.

So we waited and we waited some more. Nothing happened. We were all on edge, waiting. Nobody did anything so I called the detective. The detective said that after the holidays he had to take a couple weeks off work because he broke his leg. He was still working on the case and it should be wrapped up soon. He seemed blunt and rather harsh in his tone. He was hesitant to talk to me until I told him I was the mother of the girl that brought her grandpa’s computer to the police department.

I asked the detective if there were any resources for families. Maybe a support group? He said he didn’t know of any and that we should get some counseling. He said he sees it all the time, collateral damage. It’s like being in a war. Sometimes innocent people get hit by stray bullets.

It wasn’t long after the conversation that COVID hit the nation which once again left us waiting…

PA

When did it become such a problem? My dad was always a perv. He was never a highly respected member of our community. He barely held down a job. I can’t remember a time when he was employed full-time. He didn’t cook or clean. He pretty much let us run wild while he held down the couch.

It was my mom that worked 50 hours a week. She didn’t do much cleaning but she did pretty much all the cooking. She was an attentive parent but was always busy as you can imagine being the breadwinner and minding 4 kids, one who was severely autistic. There are a few things I remember my dad doing. Sometimes he would grill. He fried zucchini on the stove. Once or twice a year he would clean the toilets which was a job only he did. He would discipline the kids which included a show of flying off the handle in a rage. Sometimes he would drive us places. With the exception of disciplining his children, every responsibility was met with a pissy attitude.

My dad behaved bizarrely. He sat around the house in his underwear. He got the mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway in his underwear. He mowed the lawn in his underwear at times. He answered the door in his underwear. I think he was sitting around in his underwear when the police came.

My dad rarely showered. He was a greasy guy who surrounded himself with greasy friends. My dad wasn’t good at relationships. His friends were the same. Almost all the guys were single. Their friendship started from belonging to a hobby club. I don’t think the club itself was bad. For a period of time my mom was involved in the club too. I think there was a subgroup of the club that was heavily into porn.

I remember as a teen my dad hanging out for the weekend with club friends. There was some sort of emergency and my mom couldn’t get ahold of my dad. Since it was in a time before cell phones, my mom drove out to the guy’s house they were meeting at. I can’t remember what the emergency was, but I remember how shook up my mom was when she got back. Apparently one of the guys outside smoking told my mom that my dad was inside. She went in to find my dad watching porn with his friends and that it was really bad. It wasn’t long after that the wife of the man hosting the party left him.

My mom never left though. Because of her faith she didn’t believe in divorce. Was watching porn really cheating? She didn’t threaten to leave. She didn’t confront him on his behavior. My parents had so many marital issues that I think my mom had already given up at that point.

I honestly don’t know when my dad’s addiction to porn switched from regular porn to that of child. I’m sure my dad’s slime ball friends had something to do with it though.

I’m an adult child of a child porn addict. There isn’t a support group out there for us. I don’t even know anyone else (besides my siblings) who is experiencing this at a similar level. How am I supposed to feel? What is normal? Maybe I should start my own support group and call it PA (Pornaholics Anonymous).

I feel conflicted about my dad. How much of this is him? How much of him is his addiction? Do I totally cut him out of my life? I pretty much have.

How do you even know if it is a serious problem? I think most of the time my mom didn’t even know what was going on because she was working.

I don’t have all the answers. The only thing I can say is that my dad’s addiction is a big mess and it totally tore up our family.

Shot nerves

A freak thing happened a week after I heard the news about my dad. I ended up getting a sliver under my fingernail. I tried in vain to get the sliver out myself. It was rather painful as I had to dig under my nail into the nail bed. I had the sick feeling of pain mixed with panic as I summoned my husband to help me. Every time he placed the tweezers near my finger, I howled out in pain. He said he couldn’t do it.

In the meantime, I started receiving texts from my aunt Jan. My mom started telling close family members of my dad’s crime. My aunt Jan told me I needed to be strong for my mom to help her through these hard times. It rubbed me the wrong way. It’s like she was dishing everything off on me. Before I was even a teenager I was told to take care of my mom. It was as if the parent-child roles were reversed. Why was that my responsibility when I needed a mom? I was just a kid.

I was having this throbbing pain in my finger while being upset that I was told to take care of my mom because my dad committed a crime. My mom was an adult, she could leave which I was supportive of. All this happened while I called the doctor’s office who told me they couldn’t fit me in for days. I decided to go to quick care located in a store. They turned me away because they didn’t have the proper tools to remove the sliver. I had to decide if I should go to the ER or return home to soak my finger to see if it would come out on its own in a couple days. We wandered around the store as I made up my mind.

My aunt Jan called as we walked the aisles of the store. I didn’t want to answer her call, so Paul did. I could hear Jan pleading with Paul for me to step up and be a good daughter. Paul really laid into her. He told her that I was always expected to take care of my mother but who would take care of me. It was my dad who committed a crime. It was my daughter that reported it and she had to deal with that alone while she was at school hours away. I was having a hard time dealing with it myself. I wasn’t sleeping. I was having nightmares. I was in a state of despair. Yet I was expected to shoulder my parents problems once again. I have to laugh a little about the people who overheard that conversation in the store. Paul gave me the phone to hear the apologetic Jan treat me with compassion. She realized that I couldn’t always be the strong one, I was hurting too.

I decided to go to the ER. I didn’t want the sliver festering under my skin anymore. I wanted to be done with the pain. They couldn’t get the sliver out right away. They could keep trying after numbing my finger which I agreed to. My finger numbed up but I could still feel the pain. Just like a trip to the dentist, the shots to take away the pain didn’t work. They could keep trying or they could give me a referral to a hand surgeon. Keep trying! I felt like I was going to throw up as I broke into a cold sweat. Just get it over with and take the pain away already. It seemed to take hours, but he finally got it out.

My nerves were pretty shot that day. That was hands down one of the worst days in 2019.

Self-diagnosis

24 Dec 2019

If you are reading this, it is over. I have nothing left to live for. My whole life has been a joke. Hell couldn’t be any worse than living at this point.

Why? Why did it have to end this way? There isn’t a day in my life that I feel joy or peace. It’s just un-relentless pain. Why would I want to continue down this path of suffering? I just want it to end. Every day its the same struggle to place one foot in front of the other. Every day I fight against this meaningless existence. I don’t want to do this anymore. I feel like I have nothing left here for me.

It took months to get over the initial blow. It was months and months of insomnia and nightmares like the one I described the last time I posted. I was having flashbacks of the abuse I suffered and oddly enough images of things I didn’t remember, fragments of dreams you could say. These flashbacks were incredibly painful and the urge to destroy myself in the process was overwhelmingly powerful. In some ways I was already gone, stuck in my own head. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but hopefully it will be the last.

I decided to write my way through the process. I was only functioning on one cylinder, but I was functioning. How could I tell anyone that I wanted to kill myself because my daughter found child porn on my dad’s computer? It wasn’t logical or rational anyway. Why destroy myself over a crime I didn’t commit? I was sticking to the cover story of my parents getting a divorce if people noticed something was wrong. They could find out the full story later when my dad is in prison.

I couldn’t live this way. I started researching PTSD when I found out about Complex PTSD. I found my home there. Everything I was going through started making sense. What happened with my dad was very triggering for me. I had to fight through this to get to the other side, healing.

How was I going to get through? I already was embracing a holistic approach to healing. I started seeing a therapist to start working through the trauma. I was working with a wellness nurse to heal the trauma that ravaged my physical body. I was seeking solace in spirituality. I was writing my way through the experience. I was doing what I was supposed to do to heal, but this was a huge crater in the road. I couldn’t trust anyone or any God. I never could and honestly don’t know if I ever will be able to fully. I’m even afraid to share with you because I don’t trust you either. I’m not even sure what compels me to share this in full honesty.

I diagnosed myself with Complex PTSD. Part of me is in denial of this. Maybe I didn’t have it that bad. You see, my dad never sexually abused me. The few people I’ve told about his crime assume this though because they have outright asked me. Instead my dad treated me like I didn’t exist. He didn’t hug or hold me. He didn’t protect me from the teen boys when they came knocking. He didn’t tell me I was special or that he was proud of me. He didn’t protect me from my psychotic brother’s physical attacks. Nothing. That is how his addiction robbed me. He mainly made lewd comments to me and my children.

I tried to act like he was a good man. I didn’t tell my children much about my childhood. I tried to protect them from that. Maybe I was wrong. Angel found out the hard way by finding porn on his computer. I can’t imagine the images she saw or how damaging that was for her. I couldn’t even help her. She was a senior in college 4 hours away. She found this right before finals. She was struggling and I couldn’t help her. Thanks a lot dad.

I’m thankful I made it through and am ready to share my experience with you no matter how difficult it is.

Nightmares of my inner child

Alissa came to me in a dream. She told me she was very frightened to go back into the camper. She had to go before and she doesn’t want to go back again. She can’t go back anyway. If she tells anyone, the cat will die. She shows me an image of a black cat with its neck cut open. There is dried blood matted on its fur.

She said she could tell about things outside of the camper. She showed me an image of herself naked on the rope swing that hung on the big tree outside of the camper. Her long hair was in piggy tails.

She told me that she was me. She said I might find pictures of me.

I felt disgusted with the girl but I left her alone. She was crying and felt like she was in trouble for what she did. Maybe she is the reason the cat died.

This was just one of the many nightmares I had over the next couple months as I processed everything that happened with my dad. I wrote this dream down immediately upon awakening. It was especially horrifying as I awoke in a state of panic with tears streaming down my face. It felt incredibly real.

The men in the camper

I was having nightmares again, that is when I could sleep. I felt anxious, hypervigilant, and swept the bottom of the depth of despair since I heard the news about my dad. My husband wasn’t sure I would make it through this time.

I felt triggered. Ancient memories were stirred. I couldn’t outrun my demons. The old coping mechanisms didn’t work. I started thinking about things that I didn’t want to think about. I was drowning in the flames. Nothing made sense.

I remembered the camper that was parked under the big tree next to our house. I remembered a man saying if I was a good girl I would get a soda out of the camper fridge. I always remembered something bad about the camper. But I didn’t want to think about it. If certain bad things happened, I wouldn’t have the will to live and I wouldn’t survive childhood. So certain bad things didn’t happen.

The camper under the big tree had a screened in porch. It sat on a big concrete slab. There were other things inside the screened porch such as firewood and bikes. It was only there for a summer or two. Around the time I started kindergarten only an empty slab remained.

I knew the men involved. There were snippets of blurry memories. One of the men I rather liked. He is dead now. The other man I secretly hated. There once was a picture of that man in a frame on the dresser with the fish tank. I hated him so much I crumpled up the picture and threw it behind the dresser. My mom would think Matt did it because Matt always wrecked things. I will never mention his name because I don’t want to make accusations of things I am unsure of. Maybe nothing happened. Or maybe I’m in denial. I can’t remember clearly, nor do I want to.

Then there was my dad. I think he might have been there as well with a camera. I was afraid when the police searched my parents house that they would find pictures of me. But what was I paranoid about? Nothing ever happened. Right? Were my fears irrational or grounded in some warped reality that I could barely remember? I couldn’t understand why I was so worried about it. It was similar to feeling guilty for a crime I didn’t commit.

For some reason, though, I couldn’t rest until I heard what my inner child was crying about. The more I tried to hide, the more it assailed me. I had to accept that maybe something happened to me in there. But there will always be a part of me that doesn’t believe any of it. I was too young to remember anything in vivid detail. Decades later I’m not even sure why my mind wanders back to the camper that was only there for a summer or two.

I don’t want to remember, yet somehow I can’t seem to forget.