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a book i read...
i just finished reading the autobiography of the actress who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie - which was an interesting insight not only into a favorite show of my childhood, but also one of the many survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Hollywood. she talks quite a bit about her older brother (the perp) and how it affected her childhood - and eventually coming to terms with it in her adult life, and even used her childhood fame to battle politicans and get an evil law fixed thru protect.org
i'd like to share two passages from the final chapter, which struck me as particularly sound and thought-provoking :
'Dad and I were alike in more than looks. Having been in the orphanage during the Great Depression, and having suffered not just abandonment, but also malnutrition and neglect, my father had developed a survivor’s mentality. He used to say that the thing about being an orphan is, “even if you get adopted, even if you have a family, you always know in the back of your brain: you’re on your own.” Whenever he said this, I always knew exactly what he meant.
I don’t believe he or my mother intended to make me feel the way he felt, as an orphan. But when you’re left all alone to fight for your life and sanity, it doesn’t matter if it’s on purpose or an accident. A child’s soul doesn’t know the difference. My father was left alone at the mercy of strangers in the orphanage. I was left alone at the mercy of my brother in my own living room. But we both learned the same thing. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how loud you scream—nobody’s coming. The only one who can save you is you. This sort of trauma affects people in different ways as they grow up. Sometimes it makes the scrapper, the fighter, the artist. Sometimes it makes the psychopath. And sometimes it makes the bitch.'
... in the back of your brain : you're on your own... to me, that seems to jibe with what i know of the abuse survivors in my life - and helps explain why, even after decades of friendship, i can still feel that deliberate DISTANCE they keep. i certainly don't take offense to it, on the contrary - i respect it, because they've eventually shared more of their thoughts and personality with me than most any other being in their life, which is an honor. but other people probably don't understand it, and it MAY be a determining factor why long friendships are hard to come by. be interesting to know what a therapist thinks....
the second quote is a little more hope-inspiring, but also gives an interesting definition of depression that may resonate with some of you :
'True, but now when I’m happy, I’m just that. There’s no static on the line now. It’s not “I’m happy, but…” or “I’ll be really happy when….” I am just ridiculously, stupidly happy. I am often cheerful to the point of being annoying as hell. I don’t know if this is a sign of good mental health or recovery, or if it means I’ve finally snapped and just gone the rest of the way to completely batshit crazy.
How? Why? If I knew, I would bottle it and sell it. But I have an idea. I read a study a long time ago about the effects of volunteering and activism on people with HIV and AIDS. It found that those involved in AIDS-related political activism and other activities that helped people with AIDS had higher numbers of disease-fighting T-cells, lower amounts of the virus, and lived longer than those who did not. Fighting back and helping others actually helps. I had figured it would certainly help psychologically, but it was nice to see it did something physically as well.
I wondered, Could the same kind of activism work for survivors of severe physical and sexual abuse? Apparently, the answer is yes. Back at the hotline, Bob told me that depression is defined as “learned helplessness and anger turned inward.” I had learned I wasn’t helpless. I learned it was okay to get mad as hell and scream my head off—especially if the cameras were rolling and an Ingalls was on the receiving end or some politicians who needed straightening out.
I don’t have anything to do with my brother, Stefan, now. I don’t go in for this faux forgiveness pop-psych nonsense that keeps getting foisted on incest victims. I just don’t think it’s fair. Nobody asks a robbery victim, “So, how are you and the burglars getting along now?”
all in all, it was an interesting read that made me think - which, IMHO is the hallmark of a good book. it's entitled 'Confessions of a Prairie Bitch' and named after her hated character on the show.
hope y'all have a safe, relaxing and happy easter !!
About Stacey Lannert
Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.