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Be Gone!

A Personal Story

Copyright © 1998 by Scott Abraham

 


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I bear witness to my own change.

For many months, Bert (the webmaster) has been nagging me to write a piece testifying to the power of recovery by describing my life today. When I began the process of healing so many years ago, I hungered for men who would tell me how good life could be, who had transcended their woundings, who could give me hope.

For many months, I struggled with finding an appropriate voice, an authentic way to describe the immensity of the changes in how I live.

I thought I had the perfect description this winter. I was madly in love with a beautiful woman, spending half my time with her in a ski resort town, as happy as I had ever been, and I was going to describe that triumph as if I had been rewarded by the Gods for my efforts.

But it didnít feel right. Life in recovery is not always skiing all day and making sweet love all night.

Recovery is so often based not on how one handles good fortune, but on how one handles great loss.

So I stilled my pen, and waited until inspiration struck.

That blissful winter turned into a tempetuous spring. The relationship came to an end. I was struggling with the mystery of transference, trying to attribute my grief to the right sources, so I decided to write a letter to my mother instead of berating my lost lover, trying to turn her into what I need instead of accepting her for what she is.

I dug out a letter of confrontation I sent to my Mother way back in 1991, and I found my inspiration. The words frozen in computer memory gave me a benchmark to measure myself, a standard of comparison, and showed the progress of six years far better than any words I could

write.

The miracle is in the reality of what I do not have to deal with today, and do not have to struggle with today. The miracle is in the reality of what I have accomplished, and what I have let go.

I offer this to you as a portrait of a life in progress, of a flawed but redeemable man who has found his Self. As I write, I feel very fragile, having barely emerged from the most intense spiritual growth experience I have known since I wrote that first letter to Mother. In the process of opening myself to love I also opened to loss of love. I couldn't access my pain until I gave someone the power to hurt me. It seems it takes a woman to draw me down into the ashes, to rise again like a Phoenix and soar above the world of my childhood.

I stand at the end of the path I began so long ago, ready to enter a new world of possibility, and I think it fitting that this circle ends as it began.

1991

God works in mysterious ways.

As I wrote those last words a few days ago, the phone rang.

It was the woman I want to marry. You met her. The pretty girl with the wondrous smile. Janice. She is the last person I cherish that you will ever meet.

We hadn't spoken in over three months. I haven't seen her in over seven months.

She was raging, Mother. Raging at me.

Survivors hurt the ones they love, Mother. They learn from their parents, who rape them and inject rage into the souls of their children. Though most of us are fortunate enough to escape the insanity of our homes, we carry our insanity with us. We hurt those we love with that infectious rage. We nag and blame and shame and demean and insult, we hit and kick and slap. We love others as we were taught to love, we give pain in the name of love.

We continue our lives in a vicious cycle, driven by compulsions beyond conscious knowledge to repeat the past. Part of your poisonous legacy, child raper, is that every single woman I have ever loved was brutally abused as a child. I am certain that all were emotionally, if not physically, incested by their parents.

We recreate the madness. We abuse others as we were abused. It is all we know. It is what we know as love.

Jocelyn.

Peggy.

Lorna.

Bobi.

Marjorie.

Karen.

Janice.

Every single one is a survivor. Every single one carries inherited, internalized rage. Every single one acted out that rage on me, and I acted out my rage on them.

I must carry the burden and guilt and shame of how I harmed those I love. I work for their healing. I bear the shame. I bear the responsibility. I do not bear the blame. You do.

You raped me. You used me, shamelessly and without conscience. You hate men, Mother, and you hated me. You did not fill my soul with love and kindness and respect. You filled me with rage. You taught me to hate. You taught me to rage. You taught me to torture the very persons I love.

You raised a misogynist, Mother. A man who hates women.

Rage was my mother's milk, anger my sustenance, hatred my nourishment. Like a moth to a flame, like lemmings to the sea, like a suicide to a bridge (are you listening?), I bonded in pain with women who were reared on the same diet. Misandrists. Women who hate men. Women filled, as I was, with a nameless, faceless rage, a rage that permeated their being, contaminated their souls.

I found women like Marjorie, Mother.

She emasculated me in fact, as you emasculated me in spirit. She manipulated me into a vasectomy. The Bitch from Hell, Jr. got my balls, ye Old Bitch from Hell, Sr. I will freely admit that on some level, I cooperated in my own emasculation. Some sanity, some goodness in me knew that if I was to have a child, especially a child with her, we might do to that child what was done with us. I could not take that risk.

When I carefully hobbled from the surgery, I was stunned by the look in her eyes. She was transcendent, she was luminous, she radiated with a strange, pulsing energy. The image is frozen in time, a mental photograph I can recall at will, and for quite some time, I interpreted that emanation as love and devotion.

I had seen that look before, Mother, on your face.

It was not love. It was not devotion.

It was the expression of a sadistic hunter at the moment of the kill.

It was triumph.

Triumph of rage.

I shall love no more Marjories. I have loved, and continue to love, survivors.

Janice was my first conscious choice of a partner who is a survivor, who has embarked on the difficult and painful path of healing, who was infected as I was infected.

I faced that rage the other day, Mother. My beloved reviled me.

I came to know, once again, the incredible pain we endure. I saw myself framed in the sights of her rage, a rage I did not earn and do not deserve. And as I endured, as I clutched the phone, transfixed as a deer caught in the headlights of monstrous truck looming near, I remembered a different perspective. I was behind the wheel of rage.

Driving the truck. Pedal to the metal.

The beautiful face of my beloved, frozen in horror, outlined in cruel light, as I ran her over.

I weary of hurting the very people I choose to love.

I weary of being hurt by the very people who choose to love me.

This madness must end.

It ends with me. Now.

We Jews have a saying.

Never again.

Never again will we allow Nazis to herd us into ovens.

Never again will I carry your rage.

Never again will I hurt a woman with cruel words and actions, actions and words that should be aimed at you.

Never again will I act out of my rage against an innocent.

I cannot began to quantify the vileness of my actions. There are hundreds of faceless bodies I fucked that I could not even recognize today if I ran into them on the street. I fucked them in anger, as you fucked me.

There are those I can find, those I can help heal.

I cannot help them heal if I carry your rage.

I cannot heal if I do not return to you what is rightfully yours.

I cannot live up to my pledge.

Never again.

I do not want to hate women.

I want to hate you.

I do.

I give you your vileness, for you to carry.

Woman who did not deserve to be punished were eviscerated in your name. I will inflict no more wounds on those who I nominate to be your substitutes.

I take my madness, I take my rage, and I give it back to you.

No other woman will ever again be forced to bear my pain.

No other woman will be abused by me because I was abused by you.

Never again.

It stops here. Now. With me.

Do you have any idea of the toll you have extracted, the cost to me of your selfishness?

Do you, Mother?

You stole my childhood.

You made me take care of you.

You once said that I "was the most responsible child you had ever seen." I didn't have a childhood. I had a marriage made in hell. I had to be your husband, your whipping boy, your lover, your provider, your companion, your partner.

I could not be a child, for I would not have survived.

The children inside me do not wish to have you know of the details of their life. You do not deserve the knowledge. I shall write no more of that time.

I shall write of the years of drinking.

Alcohol saved my life as it slowly killed me. It killed the pain, it suppressed the memories, and I drank until alcohol and drugs, in any quantity, lost the ability to anesthetize me.

Most of my life during those years is lost to me, blacked out behind a blessed chemical haze. Thank God. So many of the memories I have horrify me. I do not know how I survived. Odds on against. Yet I did, and I believe God had a purpose, and part of that purpose is to bring you to justice in life, before He brings you to justice after your deserved death.

What could I have been, what could I have accomplished, if I had been able to live without the crushing burden of my pain? What wonders could I have created, what loves could I have loved, what joys could I have exulted, if I could have used my life energy to live, rather than to merely survive?

You stole my life, thief.

A year ago August, atop a Wasatch mountain, I gazed at the most wondrous moon I had ever known, and turned to the most wondrous friend I have ever had.

I screamed in grief, in shock, in horror of realization. For at that moment, I began to comprehend the enormity of what you had taken, when you robbed me of my innocence.

"They stole so much from me!"

I cried to the heavens.

You stole my life.

You stole from me the ability to love.

You goddamn thief in the night, when you crept into my bed, you burgled my birthright.

The right to be authentically loved, and to love in return.

You shall steal no more from me, Mother.

I take my life. I rip my destiny from your greedy, bloody hands.

I will be what I decide I am, not what you programmed me to be.

I am my own man, not your little man, Mother.

I will not bear your shame.

I will not bear your pain.

I won't even carry your name.

I am Scott Barak Abraham.

I am not your son.

You are not my mother. You do not deserve, and I will no longer give you, the honor of that title.

Three times I speak, in my own voice, the voice of a whole man.

I disown thee.

I disown thee.

I disown thee.

Begone, bitch of darkness. You have no power here.

Begone.

   

1998

Mother:

For six years, I have not written you. Though you live barely two miles from my house, I have not crossed paths with you.

I will not send this letter, because I see no point in opening any dialogue. I must speak these words to you in spirit if not in the flesh, I must take this therapeutic act.

Because I have to exorcise my soul of the demon that is the memory of you.

For six years, I rarely dated. I avoided relationships and concentrated on myself.

I swore to myself that I would do the necessary work that would free me from the need to repeat my childhood through my adult life. That task is never-ending, and the simplest way to avoid repetition was to avoid relationships.

I learned to be comfortable alone. I stayed essentially celibate. I learned how to get my emotional needs met from my friends and my own resources. I built a good, generative, decent life. I worked so hard to resolve those issues, because I did not want to look into a belovedís eyes and know that the evil you infected me with was still toxic.

I tired of the pain of losing those I love because they, too, were abused as children and acted out their woundings on me, so I took the safe route. I let no one matter enough to hurt me. I let no one have the power to betray me.

I swore that I would not harm others because you abused me, that I would never let you reach out through me to harm someone who loved me.

I am very proud that I have done a good job of living up to that vow: good, but not perfect, and I must own that.

I learned how to get my emotional needs met in healthy ways. I worked out my anger and rage appropriately, and did not take it out on innocent partners. I lost the need to act out sexually, and I have done nothing since I wrote that last letter to shame myself. I developed solid friendships, learned healthy ways of relating to others and to myself, chose wonderful people to fill my life.

But I was still lonely. I finally allowed myself to want a partner.

I got to the point that I thought I had exorcised the ghosts you haunted my soul with, that I could trust myself not to harm another and trust myself to pick someone who would not harm me.

There is an old saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: "If you think you are recovered, get in a relationship."

God surely works in mysterious ways.

I swore after my last disaster that I would never have another long-distance relationship.

So much for good intentions.

Because last December, I was in the same ski town that Janice lived in back in 1990. I walked through a store, fell into conversation with a lovely tall blonde, and met the finest woman that I have ever been honored to love. That town has always been a place of spiritual meaning, a catalyst to my growth, and I think it is no coincidence that I began and ended my isolation from sexualized relationships in the same place. Synchronicity is a gift one should not ignore.

I could not gaze upon the mountains without remembering the agony of early recovery, and as I skied the same hills six years later, I marveled at how much had changed within me. Especially how I felt with a woman.

She was everything I thought I could ask for. She is brilliant and accomplished, with a quirky sense of humor. She is a committed humanitarian and has given her life to children. She is a wonderful mother, everything that you were not, and I learned so much about what I missed just by watching her tend to her daughter and the girls that are so drawn to her warmth and nurturance.

Iíve never enjoyed someoneís mere company so much, and I loved to walk the world with her by my side, sharing all that we saw.

Sheís just a damn fine woman, and she wanted me as much as I wanted her.

When we first kissed, I was overwhelmed. I drew away with a delighted smile on my face, my eyes closed, savoring the moment. She thought something might be wrong. No way. Something was finally right. I had never known such a pure pleasure, uncontaminated by the past, hopeful of the future.

I was so worried about the ghosts that once haunted every touch a lover would make. For so long, I never knew when innocent strokes would trigger foul swamp gas of memory, and I would have to shake in flashback.

Later that trip, as we explored each otherís bodies, I feared you would reach through the years to ruin this beauty.

Triumph!

Iíll be damned, there is such a thing as recovery!

I began to learn how to truly make love.

I didnít dissociate and watch my consciousness float up into the corner, where I could safely escape you. I stayed in my body, I felt all of my emotions, I gloried in the purity of loving sex.

Because she never once reminded me of you. I told her of my history, and her touch helped me heal. When she snuggled up to my back in the middle of the night, I did not recoil in terror of the ghost of mother sneaking into my childhood bed. I snuggled right back into her safe and loving arms.

At the grand old age of 45, I had the best sex in my life. Merely snuggling her was better than anything I had ever known, an experience that could be so overwhelming in its simple pleasure that I would squirm in uncontained delight.

Hallelujah! What an incredible gift, what an incredible relief!

The monster of the dark nights of childhood has been banished forever, and good riddance to your memory, mother. Your evil touch shall not corrupt me again.

I had so struggled with the concept of being damaged goods, indelibly marked by the sign of your evil. Granting me her affection was incredibly affirming of my worth and my soul.

Because sheíd never been hurt the way I had been, never been raped, never known a punch or a kick, never been degraded. She didnít know what it was like to have a childhood like mine.

Your poison would leak out on occasion, and I would say something that would hurt her, but I owned it immediately, and apologized immediately, and redoubled my vigilance. Tears streamed down as I vowed to her I would contain my wounding, and not punish her for your crimes.

I grew to love her as I had loved no other woman, and I am proud to say that I loved her well. I began to dream of being part of a family again, of having someone to watch my back as I would watch hers.

Iíve got a picture of us on top of a snowy mountain, gazing into each otherís eyes, radiant in our happiness. She has my eyes, Mother: cornflower blue limned with gold around the blackness of pupil, and when I looked into her, I saw the same love I felt. We danced that night to an old BeeGees concert, passionately joined, and as she fell asleep on my shoulder, I loved her with such a complete heart that I knew I wanted her to be my wife.

I had never been happier, never more fulfilled, never more at peace with the universe. It was the best day of my life.

Those whom the Gods will change they first make happy.

Because a few days later, her life exploded into chaos, and we both began to act out of the woundings of our childhood, and all that we had and all that we were could not stop us from self-destruction.

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the unconscious, at how strongly we human beings are compelled to recreate the situations of our childhoods and to reenact them in our adult lives.

If I ever have any further doubts about the truth of that psychological dictum, I only need look at what I just created, in full knowledge, with conscious intent to avoid the compulsion to repeat.

I made damn sure that I did not love another you, Mother.

The unconscious drives also made damn sure I found someone who was guaranteed to abandon me when I got too close.

She comes from one of those stoic Appalachian English families, where a child never cries and never admits to need. When the family was in crisis, she finished at the bottom the list of priorities, and never got her needs met, never received the love and attention a child craves. She made damn sure she did not repeat the past with her child, as Iíve made damn sure I did not perpetuate my family patterns by the simple expedient of not having a child.

But she never felt her own pain, never worked through her own issues, so when the crisis hit her life, she acted out the only rules she knew, the same rules I once lived by. Trust no man. Need no man. If someone needs you when you have little to give, thatís their problem.

The rules of a woman who acted out her own fear of selling her soul as she once did for her parents love. Just like I sold my own soul for your love and approval. I was so tempted to make the Faustian bargain for her love, to find any excuse or rationalization that would allow me to stay in contact. I came close to losing myself, and in the end, found myself.

I will never forget the last words I heard her say before I left her mountain home. I said, "You donít have to lose me over this. Use me. Lean on me." She looked up in sad confusion, the beginnings of a tear in her eye. "I donít know how."

When she started sabotaging our closeness, I went right back to the orphanage where you abandoned me. When she disappeared and did not call, my adult self was in Seattle dealing with the pain of watching my lover go away. The children inside me were outside of Chicago, standing under the portico of the entrance to hell, watching that boat-tailed Olds dwindle down the picket-lined driveway, allowing the nun to lead me into incarceration, wondering what I had done to make you go away.

My God, Mother, it hurt bad enough to lose her without having to relive losing you at the same time.

I thought I had done that work. I did not know I needed to go deeper. I did not suspect that I had, once again, chosen the perfect person to take me where I so much feared to go: deep into the heart of my own pain, to the core of all that I had lost in my life.

The healthy core that drives me to healing picked her in wisdom, knowing that I would not and could not consciously take myself down into the ashes again. Iíve known throughout this process that if I was ever to have what I envisioned with her, I needed to feel this explosion of anguish, and trace the pain to its source.

You.

I needed to be relatively blameless in this incarnation so I could see how innocent I was as a child. I did not love her as well as I wanted to, Mother, but I loved her very well. You never taught me how to love, Mother. Iíve had to learn on my own, and I learned so much with her.

When she started fleeing from true intimacy, my conscious mind could see that she did not flee from what is wrong with me, but from what is right. When I was a child I had to blame myself for your horrendous abuse. If something was wrong with me, you were not crazy, and I could not bear the thought that the most powerful person in my life was evil. She is neither evil nor malevolent, Mother. Unlike you.

When she acted out her own unresolved fear and rage in subtly crazy making ways, treating me as she was treated as a child, I could understand what she was doing, but I could not control what I was feeling.

She triggered the avalanche that ripped down to the primordial rock of my being. The top layer of new powder belonged to her, but the old rotten snow underneath was pure Mother. As the white maelstrom enveloped me, I could not tell the difference between the frozen polluted detritus of a childís winter, and the cleaner freshness of a recent snowfall.

All I could see was white pain, and I could not stop myself from being swept down into the canyons of my soul, buried beneath the roiled surface, barely able to breath, forced to tunnel my way out through the hidden caves of forgotten agony.

Down to the caves I thought I had thoroughly spelunked years ago. Through them to new levels of understanding and healing. Slowly, so slowly back to the light.

All the while doing all those things I did as a child to negotiate the loss. Helpless as a child to stop the destruction, powerless as a child to stop her fleeing from my love.

Helpful as an adult to participate as little as possible in the destruction, powerful as an adult to understand why she fled and why I hurt so horribly.

Ignorance is not bliss, it is ignorance. I know what happened, I know why it happened, and I know how to heal. I cannot change her, though I tried. I tried as hard as I tried to change you so many years ago.

I loved her, and like you, she knows very well I do. I was a good man, and like I proved to you, she knows very well I am. I begged her not to leave me, and like you, she left.

But she is not you, and I am not a child.

I chose fairly well this time, Mother. I chose a good woman, and my time with her was sweet and loving.

I was not perfect, but I lived up to the vow I made so long ago. Iíd be a liar if I said that I did not sting her with your poison, but I did not badly hurt her.

I had a successful, loving, generative relationship. It did not last as long as I wanted, but that was not my choice: in reality, it was not hers either. She danced to the strings of puppeteers of the past, and has not realized how powerfully her unconscious drives her to destroy that which she most desires. I could not stop her, because she has yet to learn the lessons I learned escaping your curse, Mother.

I had to lose her to realize how much I have won: I have traveled much further away from the madness of my family than I thought I had. I am capable of much more than I realized.

I did not fail, and the relationship was not a failure. I loved and was loved, held and was held, cherished and was cherished for what I am, and as I leave her, I care for her more than I ever did.

If the ending was not what I chose and not what I wanted, it was what I needed to prepare myself for a better, healthier, more lasting love. If I had not gone down into the ashes again, I would have inevitably created another abandonment.

I donít think I have to do that again. I worked so hard this past two months, feeling what I must feel, paying the price of my childhood. I donít think I need another woman to leave me so I can return to life with Mother. I hope I have found that resolution I have sought my entire life.

I donít need you anymore, Mother, and I donít need your surrogates. I donít want to relive the past, I want to live the present free of your shadow.

Iím just about there. Just a few more steps.

Into the light, the beautiful light I knew with her, know without her, and shall know again with another.

Be gone, Bitch of Darkness. You have no more power here.

Be gone.

Related stories:

Take Care of Your Mother - Or Else, by Scott Abraham.

My Story, by an anonymous author

Revenge: A Dish Best Served Cold, by Scott Abraham.

Climbing Out From Hell, by Jeffrey Miller.

Wounded Boys, Courageous Men, a photo-essay about male survivors of institutional child abuse in a Canadian institution, by E. Jane Mundy.

Survival and Living, by Scott Abraham

"False" Memories, Repressed Memories, by Scott Abraham.

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse: Book Reviews, by Scott Abraham.

Yes, Women Do Abuse, by Scott Abraham

John Lee on Anger, an interview with John Lee


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