Tree Climbers is a community diary series for survivors of childhood sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse and those who support them. Tree Climbers sustain each other, learn about childhood abuse, recover, and discover and create ways to protect children.
Trigger Warning - The next paragraph holds brutal words. Feel free to scroll past it.
In a typical diary, you might read of someone who survived the grooming (this does not mean hair brushing), the fondlings, the rapings, the beatings, the mutilations or the death threats perpetrated by a sadistic egocentric molester of an innocent. Criminals abuse their victims. For years. Families refuse to believe the victims. For years. Victims report being dead inside. For years. Families and society have stifled the voices of victims and magnified and perpetuated the abuse. For years. We weep. We rage. We heal. We inspire.
We invite you to climb or be lifted up in our safe tree with us. We have broad branches, sunshine, hammocks, cushions, and plenty of tissues. Comment on the diary, ask questions, and share your perspective or even your story. If you are too overwhelmed to speak, you can just witness. That's okay. A few of the Tree Climbers are as silent as a jury.
Tree Climbers Rule: Be kind.
No T r o l l s. When we were children, we had no power. But we are no longer children. Climbing trees is not healthy for trolls - everybody knows that. If you act like a troll in our tree, we will calmly watch while you become invisible.
Please Note thet there are some very difficult passges to read in this diary.
Forty six finally now a father and a lifelong dream fulfilled, holding my beautiful firstborn child safely cacooned in this miracle moment I cradled this little life so gingerly in my arms, the soft swaddling blanket wet now with so many tears as the nurse happily announced a healthy girl. On the most joyful day of my life gazing at her little face and serenity blue eyes the busy of the emergency room noise faded, the all too familiar darkness often buried sometimes shallow, the sinister shadow of my childhood abuse dared whisper me this question on this of all days.
'Will you do those things to her?'
The moment then so unfairly interrupted, swept in a rage from so deep within my core it swayed me as I stood there under the dry flourescent glare of so many unforgiving lights. There was a sudden unsteady, my whole body tremored as if the floor was slowly being peeled away. Her mother invisible surrounded now by a blue crowd of doctors and nurses repairing her body from the emergency C-section, hours of waiting and pushing and breathing in a heartstopping instant turned into a frantic rush from our room through doorways and hallways to an operating room stacked with monitors and instruments and frenetic activity, so many intense eyes above so many masks muffling commands. Without warning her blood pressure disappeared, alarms sounded and concerned faces appeared as if from thin air, faces we didn't recognize after spending all our time in the private birthing room trying to make this miracle happen with as little trauma as possible, it was not to be. The classes we took together, the reading and the practicing did not and could not ever prepare for this traumatic turn of events and how could it really. It all seemed incredibly unfair and cruel to my wife, after nurturing this baby and her body for nine months and taking every possible precaution to ensure a safe and healthy delivery, her body now was seemingly not hers, taken over by others for what felt like an eternity as I stood there in my own scrubs and mask utterly helpless and afraid.
The darkness of abuse casts an eternal shadow and forever stains the psyche of the abused, the memories buried deep our temporary refuge but there is no true escape. We silently scream for a normalcy we suspect will always be denied us, reach in vain for some semblance of certainty knowing full well that whatever tentative calm exists in our daily lives might be shattered so unexpectedly, triggered by a rogue image, a random scent or a sound that reminds us of painful events no one should ever be reminded of. There is such a random unfairness to it all, the flood rush of helplessness and fear in the recall of events we had no control over as trusting, innocent childern unfolds over and over as adults as it did on this day to me.
I struggled all my life to unravel and understand the perpetual pain that was my childhood wondering where all those young years went, my innocence lost so early there exists no good memory other than that flood rush of fear that triggered this unfair recall. As a kid my ever vigilant eyes closed at night against my will only to be confronted with the anxiety of another day which always seemed to arrive, despite my unanswered nightly prayers for it all to end. The fairness of the benevolent God I tried to believe in did not intervene on my behalf, faith offered no protection from the blows to my psyche and never helped prevent the everpresent bruises to my body. As the years passed from First Communion to my Confirmation, these rites of passage seemed so empty and meaningless despite what I was taught, a refuge I so desperately needed became an emotional extravagance I could not afford.
The only belief that remained was hell, I knew it existed because I lived it everyday.
Mornings promised just another day to absorb punishment so random, so irrationally administered by a violent schitzophrenic father twisted and semingly hellbent on destroying anyone in his life. My deaf sister luckily escaped physical harm, she was simply ignored, marked as damaged goods and not worthy of any love or attention. My mom lived in absolute terror but remained defiant and did her best to shield me, tossed aside time and time again her maternal instincts to protect me never wavered. And just as I thought it couldn't possibly get worse, that I had absorbed all the blows and lost all value and self esteem there was to lose, evil found a way to somehow compound itself.
In what was described as a fun weekend with a family with two kids who lived in a beautiful house on the shore of Long Island, my sister and I were taken by my father for the weekend. There I met a boy around my age and a younger sister and a woman of similar stature to my own mom and whose name was the same as hers. The father of this family never arrived that weekend, in his place was my own father lavishing praise and affection on these children and mother as my sister and I stood there confused and ignored.
We were twelve and eight years old and had never once seen this father at our house.
We had just met our replacement family and upon our return home, my father announced his intention to leave us and apparently wipe clean any memory in his twisted head that we ever existed, of the mistakes we were to him. Each night when he got home from work, we were woken up and herded into our livingroom as he paced back and forth for hours, exploring outloud the plans to kill us and make it all look like an accident so he could collect the life insurance and start his life over with his perfect instant family. This ritual went on for weeks and to punctuate his intentions, he poisoned my beautiful german shephard Flash, my loyal loving companion for so much of my childhood.
I loved that dog so much and nothing will ever repair that pain, I grieve her still.
The police officers shrugged their shoulders and chuckled the next day as my mom frantically told them how my dog died and begged them to believe what my father had planned for us. Totally defenseless now, we buried Flash in our backyard and that was the last day we spent in our house, we left in my uncles' car with only the clothes we were wearing. I've written several diaries describing the poor Brooklyn neighborhood we landed in, the confusion and the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of a man who offered me a place to stay for the night after I ran away from home at 14.
As a person who has endured emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse I've doubted my ability and fitness to be a parent more often than I can remember as the contemplation of having a child, the paternal desire to start my own family and somehow try and make things right, would surface from time to time. Even though I never inherited my fathers mental disease or the alchoholic DNA that existed in every extended family and in almost every aunt and uncle on both sides, there was an unbearable fear that I was possibly harboring a demon, that I would somehow, someday in a moment of weakness snap and become that horrible person, an abuser to my own child. I spent years repairing, reading, in consultation confronting my abuse and vowed if I ever became a father, the abuse in my family would end with me.
But there I was in the emergency room holding my own child hearing that voice daring to whisper those doubts again,
'Will you do those things to her?'
My beautiful, brilliant daughter just recently turned 12 and during one of her weekly sleepovers we started talking a little about my childhood, most of which she knows very little about, purposely so. I told her for the first time in general terms about my experience as a child, that I was hit a lot by my father, that there was always anger in our house when I was a kid, that I didn't do well in school because of it, that abuse is usually repeated by parents who have been abused by their parents. I told her about the moment I cried as I held her in my arms for the very first time and as the nurse came to take her to be held by her mom, I whispered in her ear a solemn promise that I would never, ever do those things to her.
She listened intently absorbing all this new information and after a few moments she looked up at me with those serenity eyes and offered the greatest gift I have ever been given,
'Daddy, thank you for not abusing me.'
Follow the Tree Climbers.† If you click the red heart (♥) or the word "Follow" next to "Tree Climbers" at the top of the home page of the Tree Climbers, our diaries will be delivered directly to your Stream.
Join Tree Climbers. You are welcome to join us. To do so, send a private message via kosmail to SallyCat for an invitation to join the group.
Special diaries and a radio broadcast. If you missed the first few days of the Tree Climbers, we recommend that you read the following three diaries and also listen to a radio interview.
• F**k Joe Paterno by Rebecca, January 22, 2012.
• “No One Spoke Up for Us": For The Children Who Had No Voice and for Those Finally Finding Theirs by Rebecca, January 26, 2012.
• In Solidarity. There is No True Justice for a Crime That Lasts Forever by dear occupant, January 26, 2012.
• Roxine's radio interview. On Dr. Laura's radio show on November 11, 2011, Roxine read her letter on air (8 minutes). You can read the text in "No One Spoke Up for Us."
Technical questions? See the Daily Kos Frequently Asked Questions, found also at the bottom of every Daily Kos page.
† Following. Once you become a member of Daily Kos, you can Follow (subscribe to) any diarist or group. From your home page, when you click on the tab "My Stream," a page will open that looks like an email Inbox. To see what a Daily Kos Stream looks like: SallyCat's "My Stream" page.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.4673.
5:28 PM PT: i'd like to thank the kossacks who are responsible for the community spotlight diary selection. we Tree Climbers are grateful for your support allowing our cause to be brought into the light.
thank you so very much.