Saturday, June 28, 2014

Falling for their "Puppy Stories" Getting Emotionally Engulfed in taking care of "our" sex Offenders (or almost anyone else except ourselves)

The story of how women forget that it is our life that needs living. Or one story about how my mother became so emotionally engulfed in "comforting" a five year old little boy...that she could not save herself or us from the predator he had become.  

As some of you may know I have been sifting through my childhood, trying to find meaning in the stories of my childhood. I remember feeling turned off, the stories seemed disconnected. but in sifting through I realize the isolation was one of the ways my father controlled each of us during my childhood. But in writing I realized there was an over-all picture. Painful as discovering the meaning behind my Father's Puppy Stories was, in knowing I also found not only a reason to grieve but freedom to begin to re-grow. 

Before now un-examined,  the stories shaped me, silently bled into my marriage and led to the molest of my own children because I unknowingly married a man "strangely like my father" and lived a "Happily Ever Life" as prescribed for me in stories of my childhood.


Once upon a time...I found a post card Dad sent to my mother when they were "courting." 

On the front was the picture of a lonely little puppy. On the back my Dad wrote, "I'm feeling as bad off as this poor little pup." Sweet, yes? I'm sure my mother's heart melted.

But then there is the rest of the "Puppy Story:"   

 My dad told us (individually, in confidence we each thought) that when he was about five, my father had a cute little puppy that followed him everywhere. One day his Father, Paw Paw (my grandfather) was bending down doing carpentry. The friendly little puppy got too close and wagged his tail in Paw Paw's face. Enraged, Paw Paw grabbed a handy hatchet and cut off the little puppy's tail.   Dad said his brothers laughed and danced around ridiculing him as he tried to stop the bleeding. He held his friendly little puppy while it whimpered and looked up at him and bled to death in his arms. 

Dad's stories about the Puppy (and other stories of his pain filled childhood) were true. They would have wrung tears from a stone, and I'm sure they tore my mother's heart when they were courting.
He even sent her the post card to remind her... 

It took me a very long time to realize that my father's stories were told as set pieces, told each of us individually in emergencies for effect and used and re-used judiciously, to wring loyalty and love out of the hearer in order to to engulf us all in emotions he then manipulated and could we have hurt the little boy more by reporting what the grown man was all the while doing to his own family?  

The stories broke our hearts for the little broken-hearted boy and we were manipulated into keeping secrets of our own painful sexual abuse. The boy who grew up to himself abuse his own children used the stories to keep my mother with him. To obscure and excuse his own path from abused child to predator. 

How could any of us have betrayed the little sexually molested five year old boy holding onto his dying puppy while his brothers laughed and danced around an ridiculed?  

Remember when Evie's husband told her he had been raped and abused as a child so she would "understand," and stick with him no matter his own betrayal of her and their life together? No matter that he had sexually molested children who trusted him as a teacher. 

But then, thinking back, maybe "your" sex offender told you a similar (all too true) story in well timed confidence, maybe with an ulterior motive of his own? How did you suddenly feel? How did you respond? They turned off their own childhood feelings and became  experts at preying upon our emotions in order to orchestrate our lives to their advantage. And most of the time we don't even realize we are being expertly played.

Because in spite of using his "puppy story" to elicit sympathy make us feel guilty that we hadn't made enough excuses for his behavior, hadn't done enough for him ... In spite of the fact that in my childhood my father always had some little dog with him,  My Father's tragedy was that all he came to really care about was orchestrating the feelings which telling the puppy story was intended to elicit.   

Oh, down through the years he always had some little dog with him. He petted his little dog, played with it, cuddling  and pinching and tormenting the dog by turns and, after all that, he expected the confused little dog to come running, crouching, whimpering, wagging it's tail. And it did. 

Once again he got the dog on his lap, petted it until it relaxed and then began to do the same "playful" stuff to his little dog all over again. 

But he kept telling the "puppy story" and (ignoring the reality right before our own eyes,) we all felt sorry for Dad. We did not question. We just felt guilty we couldn't make "it" all up to him...somehow. It was all painfully confusing.  

Years afterwards, after my mother died, my Dad got another little toy dog. This time a tiny little brown tea cup poodle that he told me he "spoiled." But he "spoiled" the poor little thing just like he always "spoiled" everything. And after everything, the confused little dog still wagged it's tail, crouched down and came to him...hoping this time it would be better. Until...

Dad took a vacation to Denmark. He needed someone to take care of his "spoiled" little poodle.  My brother's friend took the dog. The poodle was so "cowed" so timid by then that the woman caring for it got a baby sling and carried the little thing around against her body, talking and petting and feeding it treats. After awhile the little dog got braver.  

When my dad returned weeks later, the little dog hid in the corner. It snapped at my Dad when he stretched out his hand. His little dog seemed reluctant to go back with him.  

Dad just laughed, picked the protesting little dog up and took her.  

The next day he called. He said the little dog was too old and unfriendly. She snapped at people. He said he couldn't trust her around children. He told the woman he had already had the little poodle "put down." It was better that way, he said. He hung up and soon got another little dog.

The woman had tears in her eyes when she told me the puppy story even though it years later. 

My father continued to craft stories meant to tear your heart. Said how sad he was when he had to put his little poodle down. She had been a real "sweetheart." Said how bad he felt when he "lost" his wife. As he got older he told other stories. Told visitors from church how sad he was that we were "bad" children. Told the women who took care of him that we deserted him. His Bad children had  not come home to take care of a poor old man. 

At first it hurt. But then I realized it was just another "puppy story" my father was telling.  I comforted my feelings of guilt. I told myself my father got more sympathy, more mileage, more sacrifice from playing the people he told the "bad child" stories to, than anything we children could ever have provided had we given up our adult lives and come home to once again to make "it" all up to him," to the little five year old embedded in our memory.

So what does this story have to do with betrayal ?  

Like other predators before him, my father confided his stories only for the purpose of hooking people into defending, loving, "understanding" excusing him.  He had figured out how to turn his 5 year old powerlessness into power. All it took was charm, deception and betrayal. And of course a heartrending story to orchestrate the emotions and therefor the actions of those around him.

When they say Sex Offenders, Registrants, and Pedophiles deceive, charm and "groom" victims in order to take secret advantage of them, they don't just mean child victims. Their well  crafted orchestration of convenient "puppy stories" divert everyone's energy in service to the predator's own ends. We fall for their stories. If that doesn't work they turn nasty, tell outright lies. But they prefer being "nice."  Nice is easier.

Believing them, we all over-look, we all sacrifice to make "it" up to them. Even after we are abused and betrayed we feel guilty. We fall in love with the "mirage" they present. The tender persona we imagined them to still be after hearing their "puppy stories" after having our emotions bent to their use.

We feel terrible at the idea of "abandoning" them even after we finally understand their was no "relationship," no real person to abandon because they turned off, they abandoned themselves and betrayed the truth long ago.  Based upon lies and deception, the "relationship" always was toxic. Always orchestrated to be one-sided. Always we were the ones expertly "played."

There never was any real reciprocity, ever. And adult love requires truth and reciprocity, mutual care regularly given and received between consenting adults. And trust. And honesty. Manipulation and orchestration obscured the truth from most of us until our world imploded, until we heard the "knock on the door" when we were faced with the facts of betrayal.

Not every, not even most children raped and molested in childhood choose to craft "puppy stories." Not all choose to molest instead of somehow become the compassionate men who found ways to "outgrow their past." But some refuse PTG. Some do become predators. Taking and taking. Some do go on to groom and charm and deceive and orchestrate, betray and molest us and our children just as the predator was once no doubt truly betrayed and molested. 

Even when faced with exposure, they attempt to orchestrate their "puppy stories" in last ditch efforts to deceive, deny, to keep us loyal and guilty and "loving" and defending them from "collateral damage" even in jail or on the Registry.  

As the wives, girlfriends, ex's and children of sex offenders, we hear the "puppy stories" before, during and even after our own and our children's betrayal. If we continue to "believe," if we stay our lives could become our mother's lives, my mother's life.

"Puppy Stories" are not Post Traumatic Growth(PTG,) stories (PTG stories see Not the life Post 5/15/14) are stories of  process, of realization and  hard choices and the reality of  change. Sharing PTG stories, we tell each other what we have learned, how we decided to re-think the past, how we got where we are and how we plan to get where we are growing (and how we sacrificed and supported each other on our journey to a new life.)  

Our PTG stories are not "feel sorry for what they/you/and the Registry did to me" stories. They can't be.  PTG stories are of real efforts to change, grow compassion going forward.  Hurt we all are, grievously, but "puppy stories" are only meant to play us. They are meant to arouse our emotion and guilt and make us volunteer to save the people who won't save themselves, do the work of their (faux) "recovery."   

We sacrifice ourselves and spend sleepless nights worrying about their pain First and Foremost. Such stories steal away our energy and use it to meet their needs first, whatever they are. Believing their stories, We take care of them, pay for their attorneys, stand up for them. Fail to find a path to our own PTG. Fail to help our own children.

We are guilt ridden unless and until we find strength to un-hook.  Until we realize their "Puppy Stories" are just "put me first stories."  Then we stop worrying ourselves to death over what might happen to them (even of we "still love" them; even if we hate them now; even if we do understand all too well;) now we have to reconstruct our own lives and grow past being vulnerable to drowning, engulfed in emotion.       

Because "Puppy Stories"  are meant to make us and our children weaker and more vulnerable. They leave us even more needy. When we continue to allow ourselves to be emotionally manipulated, we are in danger of losing our own capacity for psychic growth. 

Learning helplessness in the face of mental and physical brutality and emotional orchestration means staying, accepting his betrayal as somehow our own failure as the relationship deteriorates into a repetitive loop of anger, jealousy, obsession and fear, stagnation and despair . . . all to his advantage. 

And it's true, after everything some still say I can't leave because I still feel love for him. I know he needs me."  We think, Someday my love will break the hardest heart. Someday he will love me. Really love me."       

After all of my father's betrayals my mother stayed. In her old age, jealous and lonely, she filled empty time. Peered out windows, waiting. Waiting. Hoping.

He charted her meds, wrote down times all through the night. That was his "good husband" story. But having "composed the story" having charted all her meds at bedtime, he felt no need to actually wake up throughout the night and actually give her the meds the doctor said would save her from strokes, perhaps from actual death. 

In the end her world was reduced to his "good husband" story. 

He took her to the Senior Citizens Center. There my father danced with old women clinging to him.  Smiled and goaded my mother   into jealous foolishness.  When she responded to his continued orchestration he felt powerful, reassured that she was still at his mercy in old age just as we all had been as children.

He liked "It" that way.

We can discover, chart the method to their madness. We can dis-entangle the web of conflicted belief that holds us fast. We can share tales of their methods, learn from our betrayal. I tell  "stories" of the methods my father used to achieve the power he craved because his methods are not his alone. Such knowledge might protect us in future

Much the same methods were used by my ex all through our marriage. While he orchestrated our lives in order to have unhindered access to molest my children.  Their different stories are just tailored for  best effect, but in many respects the methods of such predators are much the same. Their "puppy stories" are all too familiar to all of us here at Not the Life. 

There is a saying, "When first we practice to deceive, what a tangled web we weave." But we over look that the practice was meant to deceive us. And "what a tangled web" we find ourselves enmeshed in when the life we thought we were living implodes around us. 

When we recognize and understand and reject their methods of deception, their power over us evaporates. We free ourselves and our children. Unless we are too embarrassed to admit we were "fooled." Unless we decide we prefer to go on believing their stories of needing and loving us rather than admit the painful truth: we were never loved, not really. Because my father was so damaged in childhood that he never re-grew his capacity to love anyone. He so feared being alone that he became puppeteer. He used and abuse us to his advantage and the Puppy Stories kept us all near.
Oh, sometimes I still feel guilty for not taking care of that 5 year old little boy who was molested and watched his puppy died in his arms.  And, it was very hard not to be shamed by his stories of me as the "bad child" who refused to return and take care of (the 5 year-old) him in his old age. For a long time I avoided facing facts because it seemed as though in ordering the chaos of my life, in exposing his methods to light of day, I was somehow stripping bare that poor little boy whose puppy died in his arms back before I was born. I thought, like my mother, that in choosing myself I was letting that little 5 year old die along with his puppy.

And I felt so sorry about what had happened to my mother that I avoided looking at the reality of her life while my own life replicated hers in so many ways. I learned a common pattern of "wife and mother hood " that prepared me to be re-victimized in my own marriage.  If I refused to see the reality of her life, how could I know to avoid the painful reality of her fate? How protect my own children from learning then passing on the patterns of re-victimization to future generation?

So I resolved to untangle the mechanics of betrayal. Our task as women is to  figure out how to unhook from the Happily Ever After stories we were told as children. Starting now, our children need never marry men strangely like their fathers nor live the emotionally orchestrated lives we lived. 

I am telling you this story so you might see life with a predator from another angle (remember PTG? another angle can free us from living and re-living old patterns.) 

 So, begin by believing in your own reality. Start identifying the "puppy stories" that were or still are used to hook and manipulate you. 

Decide NOT to be "Understanding" Don't automatically hop-to. Refuse to automatically feel guilty because you have not staunched someone else's "pain."

Look at "it" from another angle.  Step back. Ask yourself,  "Why is he telling me this?" 

Say, "No." Comfort your feelings of guilt until you stop feeling guilty just because you said "No." Because even should you decide their need is real, you still retain the right to choose to use your energies for yourself and your children. Our need is real also. As women, we do not have the "magical power" to grow for someone else.  

In fact, it is impossible to grow by proxy...In order to choose to grow himself my father would have to have given up his own old patterns, stopped manipulating, stopped orchestrating. But his old patterns worked all too well. All his life. And had my mother un-hooked he would simply have found some other victim. That is what his bad children stories were all about. Hooking outsiders  into feeling sorry for a poor old man who was such a good husband etc..who had been abused and abandoned...

Without the power of  "Yes" and "No," saying "Yes" means less than nothing. We have to know that based upon our own needs it is OK to say both, mean it and stick to our choice no matter how guilty or ashamed we have been taught we ought to feel when we decline to be orchestrated for their benefit.  

As the wives of sex offenders, as mothers of molested children, we would do almost anything "to make it up to" our children. It's just that sometimes we've been fooled into protecting and mothering the wrong "Child."

We just didn't realized "He liked it that way." We didn't realize we were suckers for a "puppy story." That our lives and emotions were being orchestrated for his benefit. But then how could my mother have abandoned that little 5 year old? How could she have abandoned that child to the ridicule of his brothers? I'm sure that's why she stayed. 

Faced with the Sophie's Choice of choosing to protect her own children or the little 5 year old boy or even saving herself, she froze in place. Tried to take care of the child he once was. Never recognized the predator she lived with for 40 years.
She died before she ever saw his behavior from any other angle except his.

But that was indeed, Before.  I too, grieve the little boy, but I also grieve the lose of the father I wished for but never had. And to this day I grieve for my daughter left to live out a legacy she too did not deserve.

Because there is no automatic reset. What we most fear has already happened. I believe we have to choose to re-grow ourselves however slow, however painful the process. PTG means grieving, but it also means understand the past in order to free ourselves. PTG means finding reason for Hope that we all may Rise After.

P.S. I want to share this photo posted on the Google+ attached to Wind harp Tree.

lata ram

Shared publicly  -  Jun 22, 2014
You're worth it.. 


And now Shared with you in the sincere hope that we will teach all those little girly girls  and all those really great little boys we are raising to be mothers and fathers of the future to value and not "discount" themselves just because (in my opinion) discounting and domination and taking advantage and learning to discount ourselves in the process is exactly how all this sex abuse stuff got started in the first place.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Just a little up-date about what's going on with me (and a couple of resources in case you want "light" reading!)

First of all, thanks. It has been heartening to see how many have read the PTG post and Evie's Taking a Brief  Vacation meditation post.
I just wanted you to know that I am taking a couple weeks of (actual) vacation to go up and see my son whose health has not been all that good for the last couple of years. He had a lot of chemo and is in remission, well sort of. The Doctors  should know more later this summer (probably.) Any way I'm going up while we can still hang out, have fun and make good memories (no  matter which way remission goes later.) I'll be back blogging probably the middle of July.

In the meantime...I have posts scheduled ahead on Wind Harp Tree up until July 20th. As for Not the Life, Evie has a couple of posts she is working on and I have two posts waiting for whenever Evie is ready to post them up. (and of course we always want to hear from you.)

I have been trying to look at what makes the difference in experiencing trauma and choosing #B and #C  ( see the PTG Post ) because choosing #B and #C means choosing the difficult path to re-connection after Betrayal and trauma ( you know PTG) or choosing #A on the PTG post about "Choices and recovery) I have been wondering what happens when people like my father (and to some extent my ex  who were both grievously traumatized) choose to disconnect and  control and manipulate, choose to take advantage of children, wives, and people in general ( getting them to do for them) instead of somehow choosing to take the path to PTG and reconnecting and growing forward in their own right. ( I want to understand myself and know how I can better raise myself onto the path to  PTG)

One of the pieces I left for Evie to "post as needed" is about my father and how he used "Puppy Stories" to hook and use people all his life.  My father was a great story teller. I myself am trying to write a book telling the stories of my family because stories connect. So what's the difference? I believe as I said above that his story about the circumstances of his  puppy's death was so unbearable that my 5 year old father turned off the pain to such an extent that he never re-learned empathy but only learned to  use the heart wrenching true stories of his childhood (and then made a few more up as necessary like "good husband" and "bad children") as a means of controlling and using others to fill the dead spaces inside himself.(he could use sex in his twisted ways but never felt love)

I have sifted through my own "incest stories" and tried to string together not only meaning but enough understanding so that I (and hopefully others) could see my way to regrow, reconnect and help myself and others on Not the Life chose a path toward PTG. The Puppy Stories Blog is about the Path predators chose when they are forever frozen by terror and become predators and "puppeteers" instead of actors in their own lives.

(Actually the  "Puppy Story blog"  Evie will  Post later is also a cautionary tale  about what happened to my mother when she was so emotionally hooked , so sucked into taking care of the poor traumatized little boy my father had once been, that in the end, the man that the little boy became used her up/ sucked her dry. It is Maybe why even though it is so hard to emotionally unhook from "them" as wives and spouses and girlfriends of sex offenders we have to choose PTG  for ourselves and our kids instead)

Anyway I have been working on my memoir, Happily Ever After  trying to see what it was in my own childhood that made it possible for me to eventually begin to understand the Process and make the necessary moves to reconnect with feeling and begin my own journey forward. Because I too, turned off the pain in childhood. It was the only way to survive my own incesting. And I did survive but for a long time I ended up seriously depressed and that I was unable to put two and two together or spot danger as an adult.

The very defenses that made it possible for me to turn off the pain and reach adulthood, made it extremely difficult to protect myself or to protect my own children. In fact I didn't. For a long time.I was so frozen in defending myself from past trauma (and whether as mothers who were incested (or not) in our own childhoods, in one way or another many of us experienced some kind of trauma in childhood)  anyway I was susceptible to  marrying a man who was in many ways, "strangely like my father."  As a result I remained disconnected from what was going on right under my nose.

I didn't start out to dump all this very personal "musing" on you but I wanted you to know that I have scheduled blog-posts for Not the Life and I plan to  schedule some posts on Wind Harp Tree specifically about trauma. I discovered some new ideas therapists have about what happens to victims and mothers and about how to understand and begin to outgrow the Trauma of betray. (  this field grew from War trauma and finding out what worked and didn't with PTSD )

I am not suggesting that you or I become "Therapists" however we all need to be "informed consumers" since we ourselves and our children have been traumatized and may be "ordered" into therapy by the court or may have a personal interest in stopping "cutting" ourselves, in getting away from the drag of depression, in unhooking from the anger. We can explore and see if  understanding and even using using these ideas help us in our quest for PTG. If they just seem like psycho-babble to you, then let me know what works better for you. Not the Life is a "mutual help" Blog. No one here wants to pretend to be know-it-all. But what we discover and share might help. No one gets through this alone. Each of us wants to get on with life. Somehow.

There is a lot more known about mind-body connection and neuro-science now. There wasn't much back then, "Back in the (my) day!"  So this PTG is news to me. Probably I'm telling you stuff you already know. a sort of "gift" while I'm gone, I thought I would mention a couple of resources you can Google on line or check out of your local library or even buy on Amazon (no I am not shilling for Amazon... it's just that where I live the library isn't so good.) So, for what it's worth here goes:

Don't Tell, The Sexual Abuse of Boys 2nd addition by Michel Dorias (this is a Canadian study and I found it enlightening and helpful)

Evicting the Perpetrator A Male Survivors Guide to Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse by Ken Singer MSW (this is where I got the info about the 7 Myths and the 7 Facts post on Wind harp Tree)   These myths we teach boys tend to "make incest a different experience for boys than for girls and therefore influence the different possible outcomes for boys and girls. And wouldn't we all like know what we could do to "evict" our perpetrators/spouses at least from continuing to take up space rent free in our heads?

The Tricky Part, One Boy's Fall from Trespass into Grace by Martin Moran (Great Memoir. Both my brothers and my son got a lot out of this book.And there is quite a bit about using Group and Sex therapy plus individual counseling to re-connect our feeling and mend impulses) I just wish I could write Happily Ever After as well as Martin Moran wrote his memoir.

The First Step for People in Relationships with Sex Addicts by Mic Hunter ( with a foreword by Jem wife and recovering "co-dependant" (I don't know whether I fully agree with the "co-dependant" label  but I did attend to ALANON for a long time. I found friendship with the other wives comforting. I did not feel so alone and since Alanon is free I could go even though I didn't have money for "therapy." ALANON was good for me at the time.

And now some books Just for US:

Whose Life is it Anyway?When to Stop Taking Care of their Feelings and Start Taking Care of our Own by Nina W. Brown, ED.D, LPC, NCC (Now this book made sense to me about how I was trained to perform my role as wife and mother and as a woman to take care of everyone else first. My grandmother motto was  "If you can't do anything else, the least you can do is worry about it.)

Healing Developmental Trauma How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the capacity for Relationship. by Laurence Heller, PhD (coauthor of Crash Course)  and Aline LaPierre PsyD

I skipped the verbiage in the introduction and went straight to the Over View chapter on Healing Developmental trauma etc. There are several excellent charts that went  a long way to "explain" all the verbiage and once I decided I wanted to understand their ideas the charts helped to explain a lot about why I didn't protect my children as well as I wish I had. Also I googled around and found a synopsis on that was helpful.)

There is also a piece on line "Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault: The Nature of Traumatic Experience by Sandra L. Bloom MD (WWW.SANCTUARYWEB.COM) that has a great blog/web site etc and, meditations and pictures. Better understanding the nature of Traumatic experience and how much we need safety and time to grow was helpful to me. Also building upon the "meditation" exercise (Taking a mini-vacation) Evie posted, there is a book Grace Unfolding, (on Amazon of course,) that is about meditation and using spiritual paths to work with our capacity for reconnecting with PTG for ourselves.)

Like I said, I'm not suggesting all of us should be therapists but one thing about taking back our life and choosing PTGrowing forward,  we could at least start to understand and honor our own courage and intelligence in surviving and growing past the trauma of betrayal. (and not incidentally better preparing ourselves to understand how our own children are likely handling their own betrayals.)

I tend to climb up in my head and intellectualize when there is a problem (like you hadn't already figured that out about me!). But I also realize that I can "intellectually" know all about how to re-grow a tree that has been cut down, I can "know"  the right amount of water, know which  fertilizer, think I know the right conditions, but human and "tree" growth is organic and some will re-grow immediately because they are naturally fast growers and others (like me) seem to take years but with patience and knowledge we will all get there together. (anyway that's what I tell myself)

But your way may be different. So if you want you are free to just ignore all this stuff... comes at some of it from another direction and you may help us all by telling us about a path we did realize was there.

Psycho-babble might not be a language you even want to hear! Whatever path we take Not the all about finding and sharing our own path to "rise" and regrow. (And PLEASE, if you know about other books, therapies, ideas, meditations, websites or just want to let us know some of what you are going through...add a comment or e-mail Evie  your story.) We feel so alone sometimes. We need each other. You are in Good company here.

Anyway, looks like, as usual I have gone on and on. I only intended to tell you about what I am personally working on and say that I am going on vacation and will be back the middle of July. Take care.

Evie has a post just about ready.