Our Story Revisited TRIGGER WARNINGS

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We have chosen to revisit our original post from 2015 because we identified some changes in the language that violated OPSEC. We also wanted to explain some things in a more cogent and direct maner.

The abuse started for me, as near as we can nail down when I was around six years old. It began with my father coming to my room late at night, always late at night. We remember being awoken by somebody in my room on more than one occasion and not knowing who it was for certain. This was terrifying to me. He would pull the sheets down and then pull down my pajama bottoms and do unspeakable things to us. This went on couple times a week for a period of several months. When he completed his task he would silently leave and never speak of it. We figured out after the first couple of times it was my father. So much confusion and conflicted emotion. By the very nature of the incidents, it was clear to us that this was a secret thing. In retrospect, we are unclear as to whether at first, he thought we were not awake or if he simply didn't care.

I quickly figured out that during this period of time. our father was very nice to me. This may seem like a strange thing to say but you had to know the man and what our household was like. Six of us kids, from the outside a very leave it to beaver type arrangement. Meaning a full-time homemaker mother and a father who would not tolerate being questioned or defied in any way. A longtime military family in which strict discipline was the norm. Children are meant to be seen and not heard. here is an example to illustrate what we mean. Let us preface this with a house law. No one is ever to make a sound while eating. We were taught that potato chips are to be placed in the mouth and sucked on until they turn to goo, then swallowed. One Thanksgiving (always a big affair) we were all at the big table reserved for such occasions. One of our sisters was sitting next to him and bit into a piece of celery making a nerve crushing sound. He simply reached over and backhanded her at the table. When her chair fell back from the impact the back of her head left a circular dent in the sheetrock wall behind.

Perhaps that explains why we saw a change in behavior at this time so starkly. He would buy me anything I wanted and spend time with me, even more than my five siblings. I never even thought about telling anybody. In a family of six kids, we felt that we were special, that this was something different.

Although time is blurry, or at least it was for us and still remains somewhat muddy now we have a vividly sharp memory of one night going to bed without my pajamas. I'm not sure if it was because I was hot or what, I don't really remember but we now shudder to think of why we might have done this. What we do remember is that night he came in like he often did, pulled down the sheets and saw us. He quickly left the room and returned a few minutes later. For the first time that night my mother stayed at the door and watched him do what he had always done. Shortly after that everything seemed to change. He would come to our room and do his thing, then he would take us to their room and he would have me do things with my mother. Their room was very different, the lights were always on and they would even talk to us sometimes. It is difficult to describe what we felt about these things. Fear, nervousness, and on a completely different level some bit of shameful excitement. It was a whirlwind of emotions.

For some reason, another extremely vivid memory was the day our mother came into our room and pulled our pajamas out of the dresser declaring" pajamas are for babies". She threw them away.

To be clear he was always in charge, always telling us what he wanted us to do. On more than one occasion I was told: "this is for your education, it's our responsibility to teach you." Our father was always very stoic and in charge, while mother was very tender and soothing. It was always clear that he was in charge. Oftentimes after instructing us to do things he would have us sit on the side of the bed and watch them and he would say things to us like "this is how it's done." "Be a good boy, be quiet." These are phrases that elicit strong emotions then and now. Our hands shake typing those words.

I was never beaten tortured or directly threatened by my father or my mother during these episodes. At the time I thought this made me special. They would give me all this special attention and shower us with gifts. In our brain, amongst our six siblings, we were being singled out in a special way and that actually meant something to us. At the time I was certain I was the only one receiving this special treatment. Later we identified similar things in our siblings, particularly with our oldest sister. As we got older things got a lot more blatant around the house. There are a lot of details we should not share simply because it's too shaming, too embarrassing, too horrific. At one point our oldest sister, who had attempted to run away several times, ran away for good. There were blatant acts performed in full view of our siblings and participation between them and our parents. The illusion that we were somehow special among our siblings evaporated in time although we shamefully continued to use it for our own personal benefit when we could. There are numerous incidents of violence and odd behavior among our siblings and by us that should have stood out at school etc, but nothing concrete ever came of it. It was a different time and in an isolated community, people keep to their own.

Our siblings who are all older left one by one to face their own demons. It remained the shameful family secret we all carried and was never to be mentioned. An unspoken pack to take to our graves. This behavior continued until about 14 years old. By then I understood that this wasn't normal. We were not normal, nothing we understood about interpersonal human relations was right. We would go to a friends house and see how their parents behaved around them and not understand why certain things happened or didn't happen. We noted that the very few select friends we had were strongly discouraged from coming onto the property and stern warnings were handed out about not talking about the family in public.

The nature of the incidents had changed as well. The pretenses had long since been dropped. The instructions in their room became orders to be obeyed or there would be repercussions. One incident that did not fit the mold between our father and I was a complete departure, brutal and involved an act that was completely one-sided involving pain that left a particularly deep scar on our brain. There was an incident shortly after that is extremely confusing to look back at and try to analyze in which we shamefully attempted to instigate something. For the first and last time. It was met with a violent reaction. Immediately and after that, for reasons we don't fully understand but have theories about, it ended. We wish we could say it was complete relief, but that wouldn't be entirely true. Mixed emotions, confusion, even anger. Things became very distant as if we were a tenant and just rented our little corner in the big house. Ostracised seems like the best word.

A few years later we volunteered to enter the Army just as Desert Storm was about to take place. Our father emancipated us to make this possible and we left home at 17 years old. It is an interesting footnote that our father had never attended a school function with us, but he was there to see us graduate and drive us, the same day, to the airport to depart for boot camp. We did everything I could to forget what had taken place but that wasn't easy. We did learn to use our anger and frustration to excel in our duties. In many ways, we perceive the Army as having saved our life. It gave us focus, drive and an outlet unlike any other. A sense of real family as well. During my military service, we were exposed to other traumas of our own making and thrust upon us that shaped our view of the world at large. We are told that had an impact on things as well.

Using our superpower of compartmentalization we found a wife, started a family and rose through the ranks. We eventually ETSed out of the army after 15 years of service. After floundering for a year or so in various unrelated fields we used our credentials and experience to transition into civilian law enforcement. Strict rules, discipline, dedication to mission first, familiar and welcome. We rose through ranks there as our children became adults and followed on with military careers of their own.

Then everything changed in the blink of an eye.........

While handling a particularly brutal case involving abuse and disappearance of a young boy something happened. (you can google Robert Manwill Idaho if you wish) When we found him deceased we lost control in a way we never have. Following that incident, I began having memory issues and dissociation. Shortly after this began we started having memories and intrusive thoughts based on what took place in our childhood. As the situation escalated I was eventually forcibly retired from my position and provided with pensions from the PD and the VA.

At one point our eldest sister, the one in the family who had run away, confronted our father. We all know the truth. She schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. At the time this took place I was too afraid and too humiliated to speak up on her behalf or to defend her when the family disowned her for speaking up. I am deeply ashamed of this. At some point, we had consciously made the decision to FIDO, ignore and compartmentalize our history. In our mind it simply did not happen, we had the perfect childhood or at least that was the party line. It is strange to think about it now, yes we knew, but we didn't want it to be true.

For several years we have been in various treatment programs, therapy, take medications bla bla. A laundry list of diagnosis, borderline this, paranoid that, delusional this, ptsd, bla bla bla. It is all just noise. Episodes happen, things happen. Experts point fingers at the military, the military points at the abuse, it's just a game to them. For us, it is all connected, it is all just one big ball that we cannot unravel. A puzzle of shame, pain, anger, frustration.

I have since contacted my sister who had confronted our father years before and made amends for not backing her up. She responded with kindness and understanding beyond what we thought was possible. My father is dead many years now and only our mother remains. We struggling with how to deal with her on a regular basis as she is elderly and frequently references the abuse around the wrong people. Drug addiction, denial, mental issues seem to plague our siblings, two of which have passed already. In a shameful selfish way, although we loved them, we see it as one less person who can tell the secrets.

We learned through other family that our father was one of the "Boys of Boise" (you can google The Boys Of Boise if you wish), but that feels like making excuses. Our mother was abused by her brothers and father. Again this sounds like I am making excuses for them and that is not the case at all but it does make one wonder.

We have struggled with sex addiction, periods of self-harm and a thread of addiction to the hammer that seems obvious throughout our life. Questions of sexual orientation and where those traits come from before we just decided it was easier to be bi. Open marriage and all that goes with that. A deep need to always maintain control and opsec that keeps people at a distance. We have made mistakes and kept our kids at a distance that we now regret. The strongest emotion we feel regularly is shame, deep seeded shame. Often we feel that strangers can just see it painted on the forehead like a scarlet letter.

Our children and my wonderful wife of more than 20 years are supportive. We have consciously decided our children never need to know why we have the problems we do. They assume, and we let them believe, it is all related to our years of military service which is according to the "experts", a half-truth. Have had some success and some failures with therapists, shrinks, and medications.

Of course, there is so much more, but then there always is isn't there?

At the suggestion of a therapist, we attended a WOR in Alta Utah a couple of years ago. Male Survivor has absolutely been a positive for us. That lost sense of community that we had serving others in our professional careers is somewhat satiated when we see familiar names here at MS. For us, it truly is a community and our connection to the outside world. We have met men here who understand the unintelligible. They "get it" even if it is only part of the puzzle.

For now, we live on our isolated mountain behind our compound fences with our opsec measures intact. Content to not be a part of the society and the rules we enforced, propped up, and defended for all those years.

Be well!

March 2019
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