Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sabotaging Prisoner

This post is in response to both Romana’s question to my latest post, Message in the WiFi, as well as my own processing I’ve been going through in the last week, which is the reason for my resent silence.

Romana asked "did u self sabotage urself? and do u "know it now?" My answer would be definitively, "YES".

For me, the sabotaging of myself has been through keeping silent, which I learned from a very young age. Although there was and still is an inner voice that screams for me to open my mouth and say something, I’ve pretty much for the most part remained silent. Why? Because silence is acceptable. Silence portrays the traits of someone that is well controlled. Someone that appears to have it altogether. Silence affords you opportunities to not be noticed. Silence affords you opportunities to not be reprimanded for not conforming. On the flip side, silence causes a great deal of pain. It causes one to suffer miserably without anyone knowing.

When did I learn to be silent? It was when I was 5 years old. My cousin, whom I loved dearly, and I were molested by her father. He threatened to take Kimmy far away and for us to never see each other again if we said anything. Neither Kimmy nor I have talked about this, but rather each suffered separately silently. Eventually Kimmy’s father decided he wanted to leave California and take his family to lands unknown. He loaded them all up in a car and drove until the car broke down and decided that was where they’d live. (He's such a freakin' idiot....Ooops, I digress.) They ended up in some really remote small town called Mead in Colorado far from any family or friends. Was I sad that Kimmy left? A part of me was, and yet another part of me was relieved because selfishly I knew he wouldn’t be doing anything to me again. However, I never once thought until years later what Kimmy must have endured being all alone in Mead, Colorado.

The one thing I knew about Kimmy and I was that we both use to try to speak up, which was only received as badmouthing girls that should learn to be more respectful and to keep their mouths shut. We were to be seen and not heard. This use to infuriate us, but again we never talked about it. It just boiled in us that no one would listen to us.

There was certainly much strain between Kimmy’s mom (my aunt) and my mom, as they were close sisters that had been torn away from one another by this vile man. He certainly conquered what he wanted by parting the family and degrading my aunt enough to believe she was worth nothing. She even attempted to commit suicide later in life due to the strains of this man’s brutality, but after surviving such attempts she’s now became merely a shell of existence. She seems to have resolved herself to accept the suffering in silence and prays for God’s mercy.

I recall my mom taking me to Kimmy’s house when Kimmy was preparing to get married and her brother was preparing to graduate from high school. Mind you Kimmy was only 18 at the time of her marriage, which was a clear sign she couldn’t wait to get out from under the control and sickness of her father. Anyway, my mom who never knew to the best of my knowledge as I had never said anything about Kimmy’s father molesting us, reminded me on the way to Colorado to mind my manners and not cause trouble……to just keep my mouth shut. Out of respect for my mom or maybe pure fear of being punished severely by her I agreed to keep quiet. We were not even at Kimmy’s house for a day, two at the most, and already her father was trying to offer me beer to drink (I was only a year older than Kimmy), and telling me how pretty I was and how nice looking I turned out to be. Literally my skin crawled at the sight of this man that I nearly threw up on him as he spoke these disgusting words to me. My mother was certainly within ear shot as we were all outside preparing for a bbq. I couldn't look at him because I couldn’t take his stares, his sleaziness, his offering me beer anymore, and told him I didn’t want any beer and to just leave me alone. This made him very angry because no one spoke back to him, and certainly not a snot-nosed brat of a teenager was going to disobey him. He told me I had a smart mouth and that I should be punished for my bad behavior. I told him that if he touched me there would be more serious trouble for him and not for me. My mom and aunt became so distraught and upset over this exchange that they agreed my mom should take me away and go stay in a hotel room as I was causing too much trouble. My poor cousins seemed so frightened and scared and literally you could see them close within side themselves, as if to make themselves invisible.

My mom grabbed my arm and dragged me to the car. I could feel how angry and seething she was at this very moment. She drove out of the driveway very fast with absolutely no clarity as to where she was suppose to go as she was not familiar with Colorado let alone this tiny remote town that didn’t even have a grocery store. As she sped down the dirty dusty dirt road she began yelling at me, "ibeebarbie, how could you do this? Why couldn’t you just suck it up and keep your mouth shut? Why did you have to cause a seen?" I was so furious at her for blaming me for this trouble. I yelled back telling her how could she blame me. Why did she think it was right that this asshole offered me beer? She said well you could have just said, "no" and left it at that. I told her, "mom that guy's an idiot and I HATE him." She said, "honey, we all hate him, but I love my sister so put up with him for her sake". I told her I didn’t like the way the guy hugged me or that he said how pretty I was or how he made me feel uncomfortable. She again reminded me that she understood but sometimes we do things like keeping our mouths shut for the sake of others. She reminded me that my aunt was weak and had no one to help her and that my mom was the only connection she had. She hoped that if we could smooth things over with her sister’s husband that they could remain in contact with one another. Otherwise she worried terribly for losing her sister as a result of this situation. Of course I assumed all of this was my fault as I had been repeatedly told that my mouth was my worst feature, that I never learned to control it, and therefore was made to suffer as a result of disobedience. I was told that when we went back to my aunt’s house I needed to apologize for my rudeness and to keep my mouth shut. At this very moment, I hated every single adult in that Colorado family including my mom because no one cared what I was going through. I wanted so badly just to go home where I felt safer than I did at this godforsaken place. She told me that everything would soon be over and we’d go home. We returned to my aunt’s house and I apologized to everyone with an absolute void with inside my soul, as if my soul had left my own physical body as a form of preservation to get through the remaining time.

Between the years of 5 and 16 I had been molested by my cousin’s father, other male friends of my family, and was raped at 16 by my best friend’s brother. All the while I sat silently suffering inside. I, too, understood my aunt’s desire to end her life as she failed three times to commit suicide. I attempted myself to end my life in my very late teens because the pain inside of me was far more painful than any one person could handle. Thankfully another family friend found out and took care of me, and as a result I am still alive today because of that person. Truly God sends messengers and angels to us all the time without our knowledge.

There was never a time that I could remember where the voice within me didn’t want to scream out, didn’t want to ask for help, but I denied that voice because I was told I was bad if I opened my mouth. I never wanted to be perceived as bad by others because I already saw myself as bad on the inside. Moreover, in attempt to be somewhat in control, I used my weight as my controlling factor. Due to the unwanted attention of men, I padded myself through food in order to make myself look less desirable. I would even wear dark clothing in order to appear invisible and unattractive. I would not wear makeup because I didn't want to enhance any of my features, even though my eyes were always a give away (like Amira's), and an attractiveness to others. Sadly and yet laughably so I was always told, "Oh ibeebarbie, you have such a pretty face. If you could just lose a little weight you'd be absolutely gorgeous and sexy." Can you imagine to someone who has been shamefully violate how these words felt? After hearing these words so many times and the violations that happened to me, there was no way in hell I was going to part with my wall of cushion. Because after all if I was getting all this unwanted attention looking like plain jane, what would happen if I actually removed the padding.......God forbid I never wanted to know.

Of course, my parents never knew these things happened to me. Because of my mom’s own self-loathing, she was not a safe person for me to go to in order to disclose the things that had happened to me, and therefore because I didn’t feel safe with her I didn’t think anyone was safe to tell things too. I wanted so badly to tell my father because I always felt safe with him, but I decided not to because I didn’t want him to think badly of me. Although I always imagined how he would react if I told him. He would be a valiant night who rescued me from the pain.

Although I learned to deal with the silent obedience, my insides suffered dearly because the voice to speak up never silenced. There always seemed to be an internal battle that went on between my outspoken voice that wanted to stand up and protect against injustice and the vacant complacent voice that wanted to be invisible. For if I could be invisible then no one would hurt me anymore. However, I realize now that the other side of being invisible for the sake of not being hurt also means that if no one sees you hurting they can’t help you.

Years later when I was in my late 20’s I decided to take the risk and tell my parents of the things that had happened to me. My mother’s response was, "Honey don’t worry. We won’t tell anyone about this." I became enraged and told her, "Mom, don’t you understand I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. I was a child." She didn’t really have a response to this statement. My father on the other hand came over to me and hugged me. He told me that he was so sorry to hear these things had happened to me. He felt terrible, as he had no idea. He wondered if I worried about him doing something that would have caused him to go to jail if I had told him, and I confirmed that yes that’s what I worried about. He reminded me I didn’t need to worry, and that I could talk to him about anything. I could see the pain in his eyes knowing I had been violated, and he wasn’t able to do anything to save me. I realized he was the knight in shining armor I had always secretly dreamt of, and felt safe for the first time in a long time. I didn’t feel ashamed for the first time, and I actually felt heard by him, but my mom on the other hand………not so much. Still to this day, she ignores these things that have happened. I suppose from her own unknown sufferings she couldn’t acknowledge these things happening to me because then she’d have to acknowledge them as real, and that may just be too painful for her.

You know, no matter how old we get it seems like we are always trying to win the approval or acceptance of our parents. At least I know I have with respect to my mom. I’m not certain why I continue trying, as the result is always the same…..it’s not going to happen. She’s not capable of doing it. However, I suppose there’s a part of myself that feels that if she at least acknowledged me then somehow I’d be validated, and no longer invisible. I realize now and have been realizing that I no longer need her acknowledgement in order to feel whole or to feel visible. For only I can make myself visible, and the way to do that is to use my voice for one and for another I need to allow myself to FEEL again. I’ve lived in such a numbed state for so long that it’s no wonder I don't remember what feeling feels like. I also realize that in order to feel whole and loved I need to do this for myself and for Amira’s sake as well. I don’t want Amira to ever feel she has to suffer in silence or to numb herself in order to ‘survive’ in this life. For I realize these aren’t necessarily life long survival skills as much as they are imprisonment skills. Sure they served a purpose at one time, but I must embrace change and recognize that the old ways don’t always work for the future……..unless, of course, you want to remain forever stuck.

So why do I share all this crazy dysfunction with you? Because I need to be free. I need to remove the chains that bind me and release myself from sabotaging prison. Am I scared as hell to share this part of myself with you? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!! However, the risk of continuing to destroy myself and potentially Amira is far greater, and for those reasons I alone I must take the risk. For what do I have to lose? Nothing! If need be I can always discontinue blogging (however, I have no intentions of doing so), but at least I know I freed myself and that alone gives me strength.

Can you imagine how crazy this statement is going to sound? I’m a little nervous about opening the door to "feeling". Because for me, "feeling" equates to pain only. However, logically I know that there is more to "feeling" than pain, but the nervousness of uncertainty is still the same.


Mixed Up Me said...

I love you!!!!

Happymoi said...

Everything that happened was not a result of your fault, rather was selfishness of your cousin's father. I hate it how such people violate other's right to exist peacfuly...The past doesnt change, but we are sure capbale of making it an event that happened that we became stronger as a result of. You are very strong Ibee. This is a tough topic to discuss in the open even in the west,the place that almost everyone thinks is free. It really sadness me that silence is what everyone does. I think you should use what you have gone through by trying to prevent this from happening to others, to have your heart open..i think its unfair that a child isnt heard..its unfair..reading your post, i wanted to just have my hand on this guy...oh god, how could he ever do this to you and to his own daughter...hes the bastred..hes the sickoo..not you, you need to know this and kimmy needs to know this..im sure she is as wonderful as you are..and maybe pain united the two of you,but you have became an awesome person, and for your courage thank...not many people would make themsevlevs vlunarable to the pain...i really wish i have a hand in protecting the kids life..you know i think the way to go is by making sure we never make this statment "it could never happen to my child" if you child says something, or doesnt for the matter its our job to find out...May Allah protect you,and your family and your little girl...thank you for sharing your pain with us. I love you sister.

ibeebarbie said...

Mixed Up me,
I love you dearly as well.

Salam Happymoi,
It saddens me how we as humans manipulate and abuse one another for our own unhealed wounds. We are a flawed creature that is for certain, and the only one that can have mercy and grace on us is Allah, for knowingly or unknowingly we seem to cause one another pain.

I wish I could say my cousin and I's relationship bounded closer together, but it hasn't. I haven't seen her since her wedding day. Even with all the strength I've gained, I don't even think I'm strong enough to try and repair that relationship. Moreover, my aunt has placed unkind words about me to the family---maybe because of her own insecurity and her own self-loathing, and also because of her husband's affections towards me that perhaps it's best remained the way it is. At least there doesn't seem to be any pain between us, but then again the lack of communication would leave that open to debate. Who knows one day we may venture down that road, then again maybe it will only be in heaven, inshallah.

As far as the others, they are all sick and delusioned as well, for I was a child. I still find it laughably pathetic that even in this day and age women are still accused for man's sexual desire and/or need for power and control.

I agree we should never assume things can't happen to us; we must always keep our eyes open and pay attention.

Love you dearly my wise Libyan Sister.

Mixed Up Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mixed Up Me said...

Sorry, I deleted the last comment by accident. Anyway, excellent song choice . . . one of my favorites. I love Pink!!

PH said...

You know I was going to make a big comment out of this; but instead all I'll say is that you did nothing wrong and as happymoi pointed out, it was your aunts husbands fault not yours or your cousins fault, he is certainly a sick and evil individual.

As for you stopping blogging; I don't see why you would, nor do I see why you should ever be silent over what happened, shy away from it or be ashamed of it. I actually applaud your courage for coming out and exposing such evil men and for giving other sisters an opportunity to maybe learn from what happened to you, that they shouldn't keep silent on such vile acts and that these acts aren't tolerable no matter what !

Plus if you stop blogging I'll have to come over to the west coast and kick your A?? ( first time I've used this term just so you know how serious I am :P) .

As for Amira as long as she has you as her mother she has nothing to fear - inshaa allah - plus if you give her my email she can call me at the slightest sign of trouble :D.

salaam sis and take care :)

Anglo-Libyan said...

salam ibeebarbie
wow that was too intence, I am raging and full of anger, I have no sympathy or feelings for people that hurt children.
you were a child, none of this is your fault, I cant help but to be full of hate for that monster that hurt you, I hope inshaAllah he suffers for what he did to you and your cousin.

you were very brave to write about this, I am sure most people would just suffer in silence, I just hope that you can get some peace now that you wrote about it.
one more thing, your Muslim faith and your precious Amira will help you get over anything.
and sisster take this in a nice friendly way, we all love & care about you :o)

mani said...

I am so proud of you,

Love you fe-Allah dearest sister!

Romana said...

I dont want to preach, or tell u, you did nothing wrong, or advise you, im in no place to do any of those things, all i can tell u : i am so proud of u Ibee, as a female, im so proud that you let yourself out of your own prison, because those are the hardest to break away from.... u know urself so well that u know what where ur escape is,so u make it harder and harder, lock urself deeper... i wish i was there, so i can just give you a hug and tell u what a brave person u are...

"Silence portrays the traits of someone that is well controlled
Someone that appears to have it altogether" you said it, "appears", i totally understand you, because i had this in me too, it just eats away at u, u cant sleep properly, u can live properly... i cant imagine the pain that you must've gone thru... how much pain can someone endure? u said u became numb, and in a previous post u mentioned being on survival mode... i dont know what to say!

"we do things like keeping our mouths shut for the sake of others" what about our sake? what about u? dont the "others" need u sane? dont they need u safe? but i guess when one is at such a situation they dont know what to think, its like a silent agreement...

"Between the years of 5 and 16 I had been molested by my cousin’s father, other male friends of my family, and was raped at 16 by my best friend’s brother. All the while I sat silently suffering inside." OH MY GOD IBEE! oh my god! i cant pretend and try and relate to this, i cant tell u "i know" because i know nothing... what a brave woman u r... i salute u.

"and felt safe for the first time in a long time" :) alas...

did u feel better after sharing this with us? for letting it out of ur system? for us to read? did it make u feel safer?
should i say the usual "thank you for sharing this with us" do these words even count? i dont have words to describe my feelings right now, but if its of any worth, u have no idea how much respect i have for u right now, im sure it must've brought back those so rejected memories when wrote your feelings down, ibee, thanks...

thank you... from the bottom of my heart, i thank you

Romana said...

im sorry, theres something i forgot to ask, what happened to Kimmy?

ibeebarbie said...

Hi Mixed Up Me,
Well kudos goes to Lost-Libyan for suggesting the song choice, as to be honest I had no idea who Pink was…..I know, I know, how could I not know. :-P

Salam PH,
If the suffering of going through such a situation saves just one other person than it was certainly worth the torment.

LOL @ coming to the west coast and testing your kicking leg. :-P

LOL @ Amira email uncle PH in the slightest hint or sign of trouble. :o) Careful for what you wish for she’s a wiz on the pc---actually quite impressive.

Thank you for your words and continued support and kindness. May Allah bless you always, dear brother.

Salam Anglo-Libyan,
There have been so many times in my adult life where I was raging and full of anger as well---it actually scared me because I was certainly afraid if I unleashed it I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. I am so thankful that my violators no longer live anywhere around me as I’m not certain I could control myself now if I ever saw them. My cousin’s father is suffering terribly with health problems, which certainly doesn’t come as a surprise after the wrong choices he’s made in his own life.

Most of all I just want to feel again. I want to not be numb any longer or be angry any longer. Besides the anger only makes a person look old and weathered and I’m too young for that look. :-P

Thank you for your sincere sentiments and Godly love; it’s truly appreciated.

Salam my soul brother Mani,

Salam Romana,
You brought up an excellent point about us knowing ourselves so well that we know where our escapes are, which only makes us harder to unlock ourselves. Vicious cycle for certain. Great observation and insight.

Another great observation – signing the silent agreement. How many times in our lives have we accepted the unwritten contracts being given to us by others at face value and own them as our own? Gazillions of times. We can only hope that we recognize the agreements we are agreeing to before agreeing to them, and ponder their benefits before just adopting them as truth. Difficult to do, but certainly not impossible.

Ok this part really got me, “did u feel better after sharing this with us? for letting it out of ur system? for us to read? did it make u feel safer?” Actually the moment I read these words I started to feel remorse for sharing and the internal battle of dialog started. Reminding myself that I wasn’t on trial or being interrogated so there was no reason to get defensive and retreat. Funny, how we immediately go to our coping mechanisms even if they no longer service us. To be honest, I still feel extremely numb, but know that God’s having me go through this processing period for a reason. I believe, but won’t know for certain until the processing settles down, but believe He’s going to be removing the walls and shackles in order to help me feel again. Truly things are raw and I realize I’ve just subjected myself through being vulnerable to be standing before you completely uninhibited. How does that feel? Through the wonderful love and immediate support that has been expressed, it doesn’t feel as scary and painful as I thought it would feel. Thank you!

Kimmy married at 18 years old, has 3 sons and moved to Kansas----my assumption is to get away from her father and that dark cloud that loomed over her for years. Although that split from Colorado didn’t come without a prize because Kimmy struggled dearly within because she hated leaving her mother. She couldn’t save her mother by saving, so she needed to save her soul by leave. Unfortunately for her though, my aunt and her husband have retired and now moved to Kansas…..not as neighbors but nonetheless in the same state. Kimmy’s brother married and moved to Illinois and has virtually nothing to do with his family, as his father use to physically torture him and remind him nearly daily that he wasn’t a man because he wasn’t ‘tough’.

Romana said...

im so so happy that you are moving on, that you know better ibee, im glad we share the same sentiments, and im glad that my observations were observed by u, really glad, it made me feel although we are worlds apart, that some of my words related to you... and that is something im so proud of...

your faith is becoming stronger by the day i bet, at least you are surrendering to something that is far greater than us mere human beings, at least this way, u can console urself with the fact that its Allah's wish and fate, something beyond ur control, and for faith, im sure u will be rewarded... it takes u forever to feel safe, and when u do, in 5 secs someone, or something, can delete that forever u were trying to build... its so unfair sometimes, but i guess there's nothing that we can do...

:) take care of urself, of ur thoughts, you have amira to rekindle the joy and happiness in you, :)