Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's becoming prolific in our world. Every major religion and definitely the Abrahmic religions (Judaism, Muslim, Christianity) which are the most prolific, all say to love your neighbors, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, karma, treat others as you would want to be treated. So why all the intentional bad joo joo? I know I've hurt people in my life, sometimes even intentionally. I once took all of Boomer's very nice designer clothes and gave them to the street guys in Westlake park. Heidi wouldn't let me have a waiting to exhale fire in the front yard, so I gave them all away the next day. This was done with intention - to hurt. In doing an honest assessment, I think that was the last time I did something on purpose to hurt someone. Part of me thinks it's just because I've stopped caring. The better part of me knows it's because I've grown beyond that. I know that hurting someone else doesn't make me feel any better, it just makes me feel guilt on top of the hurt. What matters in my life now is relationship. If you're in my life, I want a relationship with you. At the point that I don't find value in our relationship, I move on. This past winter I made a decision to end two friendships that have been part of my life for a very long time. I don't even miss them. And I feel no need to lash out either. They hurt me, I moved on. I'm learning that I don't need to work for love. There's no earning it. Either love is present or it's not and you can't force it. And once it's gone, you can't get it back. No matter how hard you try.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Value of Life

What puts meaning in life? Where do we find value? In our work -- sometimes but not for me right now. For most of my life, I found value through relationships -- by doing what someone else wanted me to, or not doing what they didn't want me to. In this space, at this time, I'm trying to figure out what I'm here, what is my worth and what is my value. Getting to the core of my belief system: I don't believe jesus was born of a virgin and died on the cross for my sins, I believe there is some power stronger than myself out there but I've not yet found a way to tap into it, I believe that all people are good and society does something that takes people down the wrong path (society being defined in the broadest sense to include family, religion, school, et al.), I believe that my family is the only thing that has seen me through the hardest time and not having that makes this hard time even harder, I believe that no one can know what motivates another in their choices which means we just don't have the right to judge, I believe that even with the best of intentions we hurt people around us, I believe that money is not the definer of worth. The crazy parts of me: I can't sleep with the window closed, I bake cookies when I'm upset, cleaning gives me comfort, I can't make a decision and stick to it, I find women who murder absolutely fascinating, I would love to meet Charles Manson and Kody "Monster" Scott and I wish I would have known my mom better.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Early Years

I was born on November 30, 1963 in Harbor City, CA. I was born at 1:22 AM in a Kaiser Hospital on PCH – Pacific Coast Hwy, Hwy 101. Oddly enough, I now live just blocks off Hwy. 101 in Gearhart, OR. It seems my roots always call me back to the ocean. I have no idea how much I weighed or what my mom’s delivery was like. My mom was two weeks away from being 23, my dad had just turned 26 and I was their third child. Definitely not wanted and definitely disappointing that I was female. My parents always joked that they had two kids and two mistakes – Sheryle and I mistakes, Lynnette and Andrew children named after their parents. The story of my name goes something like this: my mom was in labor waiting for my dad to arrive and there was a little girl bouncing all over the room being naughty. Her mom kept saying, “Stephanie Ann sit down. Stephanie Ann, be good.” Thus, when I was a girl and they were ill prepared with a name, that one came up and stuck. My mom used to say that’s why I was naughty. She also used to say that she prayed for patience and god gave her me, thus, requiring her to have a great deal of patience. Not the most loving welcome, but here I was. I have no memories until I’m nine. Perhaps one sort of vague memory of my uncle getting a blow job from my auntie – they lived across the street from us and I think I just walked in without knocking. I used to have bad dreams that someone was murdered in a house across the street and I have some vague memory of our Latina neighbor holding me whilst letting me lick sugar cubes. Other than those two very vague, somewhat cloudy memories, nothing until I’m 9. I have never viewed myself as a victim, but have always felt comfortable with the label of survivor. Never quite sure what I’m surviving though. Many years ago a counselor suggested some kind of abuse that happened, thus removing memory from that era of my life. I rejected that theory at the time and if that did happen, I have zero memory of it. Below is a list that comprises adult symptoms of early abuse survivors. The list contained a few more items, but I have listed only those that I can demonstrate having experienced and/or continue to experience in my life.
Being in your body
· Do you feel at home in your body?
· Do you feel that you are a part of your body or does your body feel like a separate entity?
· Do you find it difficult to listen to your body?
· Do you feel out of control of your feelings?
· Do you feel you sometimes don't understand all the feelings you are experiencing?
· Are you overwhelmed by the wide range of feelings you have?
· What are your expectations of your partner in a relationship?
· Do you find it easy to trust others?
· Do you find difficulty in making commitments?
· Even though you're in a relationship, are you still lonely?
· Is it hard for you to allow others to get close to you?
· Do you find yourself in relationships with people who remind you of your abuser, or you know is no good for you?
· Do you find it difficult to love yourself?
· Do you have a hard time accepting yourself?
· Are you ashamed of yourself?
· Do you have expectations of yourself that aren't realistic?
Major Long-Term Medical Symptoms of Early Abuse
1. Insomnia
2. Eating Disorders
3. Headaches
4. TMJ syndrome
5. Low back pain, chest pressure
Major Long-Term Psychological Symptoms of Early Abuse
1. Anxiety
2. Panic Attacks
3. Low self-esteem
4. Stress disorders - PTSD

Admittedly, my mom was a bit harsh, even abusive – but enough to cause this kind of outcome? She used to do crazy things, treat us poorly, we were her servants for all intents and purposes. She did what she knew to do. Having heard some of her story from my uncle, I understand that her childhood was one of abandonment and abuse. Perhaps she did better than the people who raised her, but perhaps I’ve chosen to not remember the worst of items in order to move forward. Where was my dad in all this? My dad is the epitome of hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. He avoids conflict at all costs. He worked at the same company for over 35 years and did what he had to do to raise a family in Southern California. He worked during the week and on the weekends, we camped, fished, or my dad gardened in the back yard. We slowly became the quintessential white family of the OC. House with five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a pool in the backyard, my parents stayed married until my mom passed away. Below is another list, which frankly I find quite enlightening:
1. Low self-esteem, feeling worthless.
2. Fear of abandonment and other abandonment issues.
3. Unexplained fears of being alone at night, nightmares and/or night terrors. . .
4. Feeling overly grateful/appreciative from small favors by others.
5. Boundary issues: lack of, needing to be in control, power issues, fear of losing control...
6. Unexplained anxiety/panic, when with individuals from childhood.
7. Extreme guilt/shame.
8. History of being involved in emotionally, psychological and/or physically violent relationships(emotionally, physically).
9. Distorted body image/poor body image.
10. Hypervigilance.
11. History of ambivalent or intensely conflictive relationships.
12. Depersonalization. Feeling oneself to be unreal and everyone else to be real (or vice versa).
13. Blocking out periods of one's life (usually ages 1-12) or a specific person or place.
14. Obsession with suicide at various times of the year or after triggering events.
15. Wearing layers of clothing, even in the summer - caused by body image issues.
16. Intense anxiety and/or avoidance of gynecological exams.
17. Unexplained fears of suffocation.

If you asked me “Were you abused as a young child?” my answer would no. But for sure, reading this list, I think any professional would say, likely. And the whole layering clothes, I passed that crazy behavior on to my kids. When they were babies, I ALWAYS put more than one layer on them. I’m not sure how many of them still do it, I think all five of them. I know I feel horribly uncomfortable without more than one layer on. It can make me have a very bad day. And I still can’t sleep in the dark or with the window shut. I fear I’ll suffocate during the night. I get anxious about sleeping in hotels when the windows don’t open and hate traveling because I’m not in control, can’t get fresh air on the plane and fear getting lost.

The next blog entry will be an overview of the middle years: ages 9 – 18. A time of life when I actually have memory!

Getting to know me....

I realized this weekend that even the people who I think know me best, don't. In a very strange and public venue, this is going to be my life story. My rants, my raves, my desires and my dreams. I am a person full of ambiguity and dichotomy. I appreciate that but realize that it makes life difficult for those around me. I have a hard time staying still, settling in and committing to anything. Not sure why because I had a family that only moved once in my lifetime. I lived in one home until I was 9, we moved and my parents lived in that house 'til I was 30 or so. So where did this need to keep moving, as Ryan pointed out - running, come from? And am I running to something or from something? The answer to that remains hidden. Daniel says I'm not such a good communicator - what I realize is I'm not a good communicator about the things that actually matter. Writing is easier for me than speaking. I get distracted, make gaps in coversation and never finish saying what I started out saying. This is a way to tell my story, as experienced by me. Your experience of my story may be different because it's my story as experienced by me. I welcome comments, contradictions and critique.