The Beginning

Tammy: Spring of 1972

I was three and Tyra was six months old when we first came on the radar of social services. It wasn’t people being malicious or taking revenge, there was a serious problem. Sadly by the time the social services removed us, I was already severely traumatized. I do believe back then there was two options for a child like me, a regular foster home or institutionalization. I am not sure if I benefited or not from the regular foster home. However, I do believe I was grateful to not be in my mothers home.

Our mother was a prescription drug addict and a alcoholic, so she made choices that did not bode well for me or my sister. The choice she made, that led us to being removed from her home was she went on a four day bender. Leaving my sister and I alone to fend for ourselves We survived by me getting water from the toilet in one of those leggs cups that had the pantyhose removed. For those that remember those. According to the reports I was able to get into jars of jam and bread, which we subsisted on. I shudder to think how my poor baby sister fared during this time, but apparently I did my best to feed her. Apparently even horse radish was not off the menu. I just can’t imagine being so hungry, I was willing to eat horseradish.

A sisters love can not be measured, it is measureless. Tammy 2019

Apparently our mother had a twinge of guilt or fear, I do not know which, but she did come back and took us to a neighbors house and left us there. She left us there for two weeks. She abandoned us again, however, this time social services were called. We were removed from our mothers home and placed into the foster care system. So it begins.

Who called or how they found out about us I am not entirely sure. All I know for sure is we were alone and we survived a horrible ordeal. As I said I was already traumatized. My foster mother stated I spent my time rocking back and forth for hours on end. She stated I did not want to be touched or cuddled, and would stiffen up if any one tried. I was not potty trained and peed the bed nightly. I would gobble my food like it was my last meal…..

I knew things that no three year old child should know about men and women and their sexual behaviors…I have vague memories, but am wont to stay away from those repressed memories, I think the horror might destroy what I have managed to save of myself. The memories I can not repress are bad enough to deal with. Needless to say I was a very difficult child to love, no fault of my own. I should have been receiving specialized counselling and therapy, but in those days that wasn’t really done, especially since we lived in such a rural community and it would have been a hardship travel wise.

The barbie dolls though!! Eyes bright And beaming smiles. I always had and a sense of calm and pleasure; I spent hours by myself playing with those beat up barbies. Making them beautiful and successful, and happy. They never judged me, never were unkind, always willing to play with me, and had the patience of a saint! They became my best and only friends.

I still love Barbies, they remind me of a time when I could just be a little girl. Tammy 2019

It was really hard on my foster parents and their children, having a traumatized child in their home. I understand really I do. They were entrusted with a task of caring for me, when in reality they were woefully unequipped to care for a child that has been so wounded at such an early age, that specialized care was necessary, but not recieved. This was a failure of the social services not them! In the 70’s and eighties, it was a very bad time to be in the child welfare system. So many children were put in situations, not because they were ideal, but because there was no other options.

I recall one night again, I peed the bed. My foster father had his limit. He was so frustrated, understandably so. He grabbed me by the arm took me out side and as he was pulling me down the drive he asked me if I was a little pig and did I want to sleep with the pigs. Crying I said no, but in fact I really did, because I thought it would be better for me if I slept with the pigs. Really, I wasn’t scared of them and I kinda liked them, I gravitated towards animals. To me they were safer than people.

Another time I was really thirsty and asked one of the boys if I could please have a glass of water. I wasn’t supposed to have water after eight o clock, because of the bed wetting. However, he did get me a glass of what I thought was water. It was a plastic cup and felt warm to the touch, so I was confused. Water is usually cold, no? I was so thirsty though I took a drink of the warm liquid. It was not water, it was urine. This hurt my heart deeply. I wasn’t mad, I understood in my childish way why he did it and I accepted that perhaps I deserved to be treated this way. Even at this young age the connection between the urine filled glass and my bedwetting was not lost on me. However, even though I understood, my soul did crack a little more.

I had good times too though. My foster mother, who also became my GOD Mother, is an amazing cook and was very kind and loving to me. I love her, it hurts me to say that because Love has hurt me so deeply in the past that I’m afraid of it. However, I love her so much I am willing to accept any pain if it means loving her, to the best of my ability.

They had a Shetland pony named Tiny. I loved Tiny so much!! They had a big platform you would walk up to get to a clothes line, I would climb up there and get on Tiny lol. Sadly I was not a very good rider and Tiny like any opportunist would head straight for the garden, especially the carrots. There I would be calling my Foster mother for help to come rescue me and Tiny from the garden hehe. she would laugh and tell me wait until you are bigger to ride tiny so you wont get stuck in the middle of the garden.

Riding and talking with Tiny was the shining light in my world. Tammy 2019

We did was go to church. Can you imagine all us little kids trying to sit through a sermon that felt like it was going on for hours. My foster mother used to carry cough drops with her and would give us one when we got to restless. I still like cough drops once in a while. She told me that she wanted my sister and I to be baptized but due to the law she was unable to do that for us. However, as I will share later how she She helped me get baptized.

Tiny was not the only opportunist, my little sister and I would raid the garden every chance we got. We loved the carrots and peas. The first time we raided the garden, our Foster mother caught us eating carrots with the dirt on them. She said are you not going to wash the dirt off? I was so scared of the trouble I was in, so you can imagine my astonishment when she was willing to be my accomplice, and helped me wash the vegetables. It really makes me wonder, what happened at such a young age that fear was the primary emotion, when it came to being “caught” with food. Is this normal? I am speaking about a carrot, not candy, or cookies or the coveted cake, but a carrot. Something most children would turn their nose up at, especially a dirty raw one…

Since my sister recalls so very little about this time, since she was so very young, I will not dwell on it much longer. However, I would like to say that I love my foster mother, and my foster siblings very much and thank each and every one of them for opening up their home to me and my sister and keeping the door open through out all the years.

We hear enough negative and soul crushing words from outside, let’s not do it to ourselves too. Tammy 2019
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The Journey Begins

#25percent The memoir of two sisters, that went from Victim, to Survivor, to Spiritual Warrior, and Humanitarian.

By being present, sharing your time, and listening to what We have already lived, you are helping Shatter The Silence. Tammy 2019

Tyra:

Come join us on our journey of healing and letting go of the past. We started this blog to help others with the same kind of trauma and abuse to show there is hope and peace out in the world. This blog can be graphic in some areas of abuse so caution should be taken if it triggers your own memories of trauma and abuse. It has not been easy to write all the hurt and anguish that has happened in our lives as we were dealing with the issues again and again. It has been rewarding and painful at the same time.

The title 25 percent came to me when I was reflecting on the addiction issues that my family suffers from to this very day. I myself have not struggled as much as the rest of them but struggled with the co dependency issues, you will see in the future blog posts.

I am the 25 percent of my family that does not have a addiction to alcohol or drugs to this very day. My younger sister is an active alcoholic, my younger brother is a drug addict, and Tammy (co author) is a recovering alcoholic you will read her experience into sobriety later into the blog and how hope helped her develop a better future.

So join our journey to the light and enlightenment. The more support there is out there for what we share the better we feel about doing all the work that makes this blog possible. Thank you in advance for visiting our blog. Validation, support, and understanding is liberating and healing.

The greatest gift to me is to understand the misunderstood. Tammy 2019

Tammy:

I am the eldest sister, and will be sharing my experience, strength and hope with you. As with any topic that is sensitive in nature, there may be parts that make you uncomfortable, disturbed or upset. We have tried very diligently to be as precise about our lives, with out going into such detail that the sharing gets lost in the emotion. However, there is emotion with anything you may read or share. Just know it not just a bombardment of talking about abuse.

It is very difficult to write our life story, as in the beginning and for a while afterward it was not always pleasant or happy. However, there were happy, even funny moments. Also, please remember this, the experience we are sharing has already been lived by us. We have survived. It has taken literally decades for us to get to this point, of sharing with you all. The decision to write out memoir was not made over night, nor was it taken lightly.

My fervent wish and hope is that other Survivors who are still suffering read about our experience and say to themselves “we grew up in the same house”. Meaning I can relate to this woman, who is speaking with out shame or guilt. I understand this woman, and therefore I understand myself. I empathize with this woman, therefore I can empathize for myself. I can grieve the egregious’ loss of self, and move through the pain too. I can come to a place, we’re I am stronger, healthier, and at peace with myself. I too can heal, and become the strength of those that are helpless. The voice of those that are silenced, and the spiritual guide that can lead them out of the darkness. No one suffers alone in silence. Those on their healing path can support and be supported.

My biggest fear is supporters, advocates, unsung hero’s, would be reluctant to come share with me. Leary, that they would be bombarded with abuse. I can not change the experience, however, I control the narrative. I try very hard to be sensitive and caring. Tammy 2019

I also considered those that have not suffered abuse, trauma, mental illness or addictions. We can offer each other just as much support, insight, and understanding, as if you did walk through hell. We, together make a much stronger and formidable partner, than if we tried to walk this journey alone. There is probably much you can relate too, and empathy is simply putting your self in some one else’s shoes, using your own experience. You do not need to have been abused to have compassion and kindness for another human being. Thank Goodness. I need your experience, strength and hope, too, just as much as I Want to share mine with you.

Also, your feedback, comment’s, suggestions, are needed as well. “We need to Shatter the Silence” Together. So please don’t think that you should not comment or like a written piece. It is affirmation and validation, support and encouragement. Also, it is not all dark and sad, it is hopeful, courageous, compassionate, even funny at times, it is simply an experience that has taken decades to tell. 😊

New Beginnings

Tammy:

After I had settled down and allowed Stanley to move more freely about the house, things began to get better. Of course I hid the ax and the gun, until he asked me were they were. I of course had to tell him, as they were his property after all. I still had a lot of trouble with his temper though. He had a mercurial temper and it terrified me. I didn’t understand that although he had a temper it was never directed at me, more often than not it was inanimate objects he got angry with. I have to laugh now when I think about it. He would hit his finger with a hammer and it was world war 3 with the hammer that offended his finger. He stubbed his toe, and the offending chair got a tongue lashing.

He could not understand why I would run and hid when ever he got angry, because he was not angry with me. His temper however, terrified me and he slowly began to realize it was his outbursts that made me shake with fear and run and hide like a little child. Slowly, but surely he began to hold his temper. I admire and love him for that, I am sure it was not easy, since it was such a part of who he was. There were times when i would do something that made me shake with unabated fear,. Like the time he spilled motor oil in the hall and i did not see it as I Trucked down the hall to the bathroom. I slipped in the oil and slid all the way down the hall crashing into the wall. I was curled up in a fetal position and though oh geez now I am going to get a beating for sure! This is what would have happened with D.M so I thought all men were like that. I did not know any man that was not abusive to me. He came rumbling in the house his big frame looming over me as i quivered in fear. He boomed out Oh My GOD! Are you ok?!! I was stunned and waited for the inevitable blows. The blows never came, instead I said yes, and I am so sorry I crashed into your wall. He knelt down, and I cringed still in a fetal position hiding my face. He gently touched me and said no I am sorry! I should have cleaned up that mess. The relief flooded through me, he wasn’t mad at me and he was not going to beat me. I began to laugh, and he thought I was crying. The more he consoled me the harder I laughed with intense relief and happiness. i was confused but happy that there was no beating.

One day he was changing the hot water heater, and left the old one on a rolling square thing, I am not sure what they call those things. It was just a home made roller, that you could put heavy items on and roll them around. Well he put the old water heater on this thing and left it right in the middle of the floor. for what ever reason I was backing up and did not see this water heated in the middle of the floor and I backed right into it! It went crashing down with me on top of it! I thought for sure, now he would beat me. He came rushing from outside, and i cringed on the floor apologizing for the accident. He was so concerned with me and apologized profusely for leaving the hot water heater in the middle of the floor, he said he was going to throw it out. He must have thought I was so accident prone. Maybe I was, it seemed like my co- ordination was all out of whack.

We went to a AA meeting almost every day, and i enjoyed the outings and talking to him about this AA stuff that he was showing me. During the day since we had no TV or radio or computers, I read the Big Book. That is what they call the book of Alcoholics Anonymous.I had some colored high lighters that I would use to high light anything that really jumped out at me. To be honest I just liked the way the colors looked lol.

We would go shopping and even that basic task I had no idea who to do. He would go around with the cart, and something would catch my eye. Usually the Dolls. I would turn around and he would be gone!! I would be terrified just like a child that lost sight of their mother, I was very much a child in a adult woman’s body. I had no idea that because of the extreme trauma I suffered that I was stunted emotionally and mentally. I did not know this was even possible, but it happens more often than not to children who have suffered abuse as small children.

Childhood abuse may stunt growth of part of brain involved in emotions

 This article is more than 7 years oldThree key areas of the hippocampus in the brain were smaller in people who reported maltreatment in childhood

Alok Jha, science correspondent

Mon 13 Feb 2012 20.00 GMTFirst published on Mon 13 Feb 2012 20.00 GMT

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Depressed man with his head on his arms
 Previous research has shown that people who were abused or maltreated in childhood are twice as likely to have recurrent depression in adulthood. Photograph: Rex

Being sexually or emotionally abused as a child can affect the development of a part of the brain that controls memory and the regulation of emotions, a study suggests.

The results add to the growing body of evidence that childhood maltreatment or abuse raises the risk of mental illnesses such as depression, personality disorders and anxiety well into adulthood.

Martin Teicher of the department of psychiatry at Harvard University scanned the brains of almost 200 people who had been questioned about any instances of abuse or stress during childhood. He found that the volumes of three important areas of the hippocampus were reduced by up to 6.5% in people exposed to several instances of maltreatment – such as physical or verbal abuse from parents – in their early years.

“The exquisite vulnerability of the hippocampus to the ravages of stress is one of the key translational neuroscience discoveries of the 20th century,” wrote Teicher on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Early clues of the relationship came when scientists found that raising stress hormones for extended periods in rats reduced the number of neurons in the hippocampal areas, a result that has since been replicated in many non-human primates.

A neuroscientist explains: the need for ‘empathetic citizens’ – podcast

Other work has shown that people with a history of abuse or maltreatment during childhood are twice as likely to have recurrent episodes of depression in adulthood. These individuals are also less likely to respond well to psychological or drug-based treatments.


Douglas LaBier Ph.D.

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Why The Impact of Child Abuse Extends Well Into Adulthood

Research finds that child abuse harms mental and physical health in adulthood.

Posted Oct 19, 2013

The words “child abuse” are likely to conjure up horror stories that appear from time to time – physical beatings, a child locked in a closet or tied up for long periods; or the unimaginable – like Ariel Castro’s imprisonment of young girls.  But in fact, abuse takes many forms, beyond the physical. Recent research finds that its impact is long lasting. It extends far into adulthood, where it affects both physical and mental health. As Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

But this same study, combined with the findings of some other recent research, contains hopeful signs for healing and healthy growth following early abuse.

First, consider some less visible forms of abuse, beyond the physical, that can create lasting consequences. For example, parental neglect; indifference to the child’s needs or temperament; outright humiliation; deliberate denigration. All may be fueled by the parent’s own self-hatred, jealousy, or narcissism

Examples range from the parent who leaves a child in the car or home alone for hours. Or the parent who rebuffs the child who excitedly says, “look at my new drawing!” or “see what I wrote for this school project!” and who receives a curt, “Don’t bother me now.  I’ve got to finish up this report.” Or the parent who consistently and vocally praises one child, while ignoring or criticizing the child’s sibling.  And there’s the classic, “You’ll never amount to anything!” Or, why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?”

I’ve heard them all, and more.  All take a toll, and this new research studyconfirms that abuse has a long shelf life. It takes a continuing toll on both physical and mental health well into adulthood. The study, conducted by researchers at UCLA and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesexamined the effects of abuse and corresponding lack of parental affection across the body’s entire regulatory system. It found strong links between negative early life experiences and health, across the board. The effects permeate one’s entire mind-body system

This study of 756 subjects suggested that “biological embedding” occurs through programming brain circuitry in ways that shape response patterns to subsequent stress. That causes wear and tear extending across multiple mind-body systems, and creates adverse health outcomes decades later.  The researchers suggest that toxic childhood stress alters neural responses to stress, boosting the emotional and physical arousal to threat, and making it more difficult for that reaction to be shut off.

I was stunted and Stanley was unknowingly re-parenting me. I even imprinted on him like an infant, and would spend hours looking into his eyes, feeling a infantile comfort. There was nothing sexual about my feelings for Stanley. However, he was not to know that, because I had no way of knowing what was happening to me. He saw me as a woman, when I was very much an abused child in a adult body. I had no social skills, no functional skills that most adults have developed over the years. Were one adult may have disagreements, I had temper tantrums like a 2 year old. Literally. I did not know what was happening. I was regressing!! when I realized that Stanley was the safest person that ever came into my life, I began to regress and become the child I was never allowed to be.

Sadly, because he is a man and I am a woman he did have expectations of our relationship that involved intimacy. I dutifully completed these tasks for the love that he gave me. I didn’t know that I had choices, or options, and my chances of surviving in the “Normal” world were slim, and the chances of me being put in a situation like I had with my ex husband were high. I did divorce my ex husband D.M.

The last contact I had with him was a phone call stating that I was divorcing him. He got angry, pleaded, got angry. I was so disgusted with him, there was no way I was ever going back to that abusive man!! That was the last contact I ever had with D.M. although I did hear through the grapevine that he found another woman with a child. I only pray that he treated them both better than he treated me or the other women that he had in his life.

A friend of Stanley’s offered me a job for three days as respite worker for her two foster children. She just need some one to watch them while she cleaned her house for spring cleaning. I thought this was a novel idea hiring some one to watch your children while you cleaned your house, so I said yes. I had been sober for about three weeks by this time. It was a nightmare! The children were small,, and no problem at all, but my stress level was out the roof!! I was overwhelmed and anxious, what was happening to me?!!!

I had looked after a set of 6 month old twins and a three year old when I was 19, with minimal problems! Now I had quit drinking and I could not handle a year old baby and a three year old little boy?! I had no idea it was because of the trauma and the drinking that i was not able to function on any level of normalcy at all. I was so scared! when Stanley finally pulled up to take me home, One pant leg was up by my knee, my Hair looked like Einsteins on steroids, and my eyes were rolling like a scared horses. Stanley looked surprised and confused and asked me what happened?!!! I told him of the stress and the anxiety and the fact that i could not handle this simple task and what the hell did he do to me?!! He laughed! He really just laughed and said it was part of the process of coming off alcohol and drugs and it would pass. He said tomorrow would be better, I said there was no way on God’s green earth that I was going back there the next day, I adamantly refused, I wouldn’t even go back for my pay for the day. I told him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted my pay he would have to get it himself and explain to his friend what happened. He did explain and went and got my pay for me.

Time would pass, and things became better and worse in different ways. I started going to school. However, that is another story for next time my friends. Thank you so much for staying with me on this journey!! LOVE