Dr. Susanne Freeborn

Dr. Susanne Freeborn
Bellingham, Washington, USA
November 06
Depends on the hour

Dr. Susanne Freeborn's Links

FEBRUARY 18, 2009 3:44AM

Knowing Myself: my story in list form up to age 10

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Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know."

Alan Watts

There are a lot of things that have happened to me in my life that folks who understand psychology, sociology, counseling, philosophy, politics, and spirituality all have a lot of theories and so much to say and write about.  I was there.  The one thing I will say is that each of the things that are on this bullet form list left some mark upon who I know myself to be.  But I am of the school that says there is what happened and then, there is what meaning you give it in your life.  The latter is more important.  So first, I am going to make a list of what happened.  This may take me a few posts to get through.  There was a lot.  In other posts, I will tell you what these things mean to me, or what I learned from these experiences.

  • Born the bastard child of David S. Hall and Peggy Hendricks in Stockton, CA.  Two half brothers from father who was more than a decade older than my 21 year old mother.
  • Moved in Stockton.
  • 15 months later, sister, Sally, also a bastard was born.
  • My mother hit me hard across the face while feeding me in the high chair.  I am wearing corduroy overalls, I can remember touching them and crying really hard.
  • Parents separated when I was about 3 years old, we moved to San Diego County, I think to a little trailer that I remember in Fallbrook.
  • We moved to an apartment in Fallbrook not far from maternal grandparents.  Mom is sleeping with men, names I can't remember, except Dick.
  • My father comes to visit me and gives me a harmonica.  I never see him again.
  • We moved to San Diego, I remember sleeping in a Quonset hut.  Mom hits me, spanks me, and beats me.
  • We moved into an apartment building near the Quonset hut.
  • I started school at Alice Birney Elementary.
  • I was stalked by a predator and evaded and ran home.
  • I remember a man cutting my mother's capris off with a pocket knife.
  • We move nearby to a small house and I still attend the same school.
  • The baby sitter shows me his erect penis in the bathroom and takes me in my mother's bedroom and tries to put it in my mouth.
  • Chicken pox.
  • Little sister Sharon is born.
  • My mother is seen beating me with a stick of lathe and we are taken from her by the courts and sent to live with our grandparents.
  • My uncle is masturbating in front of the TV when I come home from school.  He doesn't stop.
  • My teenaged uncle humps me between the legs in the egg house on the cold cement floor.
  • My father kills himself.  I am seven.
  • My uncle continues, repeatedly molesting me in different places around the ranch, eventually, though I am 9 years old by the time anyone notices, my grandmother thinks this is somehow my fault.
  • Another uncle, home on leave from the Navy, tries to get me to give him oral sex.  I am not yet ten years old.  I am afraid to tell because they will blame me.
  • We go back to live with my mother, she has a job at a ranch.
  • She gets involved with the horse trainer, he is an alcoholic.  He becomes verbally abusive and acts like he is going to beat my mother.  She is taller & stronger than he is, so he must be drunk! 
  • I stick up for her and he says all kinds of awful things about her to me, and about me and the fact that I am a bastard.
  • I think he tells the minister that I am a bastard, because some kids aren't allowed to play with me, and in the way that adults talk in front of children like they are not in the room, I learn why.
  • I am in third grade and attending my third school.  We are about to move again.

For the next installment click on Knowing Myself:  The List Part Two

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Bumping this to the feed. I may add a couple of things to this part of the list, since writing it has stirred up some memories.
:-( My adage still holds true, that which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

Good post.

So sorry you went through this. Something needs to be done to the abusers who suffer nothing and the victim who suffers it all. Good that you can write about it.
Wow Susanne. I so admire your honesty and strength.
If you made this up people would never believe it. I admire your courage for not just simply burying this to eat at you. It takes courage!
Susanne ~ my first thought is to ask where you find the strength, but then I wonder if that's where your strength comes from ... either way, I admire you more than you could ever know.
:) Ann
It takes superhuman strength of will to overcome all this abuse and make a life for yourself that breaks the cycle. If they gave a Nobel prize for humanity I would nominate you.
Glad you are able to express yourself. Hope this helps you in dealing with your abusive childhood.
It takes such courage to reveal all of this and I know that it is also healing in its own way. I truly admire your bravery and honesty.
Suzanne, I am so sorry you had to go through this. What courage to be able to write about it. I know it will help others who have had to deal with similar things in their lives. Thank you for sharing your difficult story.
I remember reading something of yours a while back and thinking "wow, that's a strong lady. I'm not sure I could have done that". Now I know where you developed strong conviction that you are the most important person in your life.
What impresses me most about this is the clarity of detail and the brutality of the story. I look forward to hearing about your adulthood and how you've grown through this.
The reason I have been hesitant to write or talk about this my whole life is that I came to loathe pity. I never have liked having people feel sorry for me. What I noticed throughout the years is that there is something about that emotion that destroys the feeling of peership in a relationship, between the survivor of one of life's challenges, and someone who had different challenges.

Besides, this list is only the beginning.
Keep on writing. I need to know how you overcame this - if you yourself were able to abstain if you have children.
Susanne, I hear you about the pity. I had a friend who had a rough childhood. She was very angry and she seemed to thrive on pity and on forgiveness. She was always bursting out in anger and craving the forgiveness that came afterword. I thought I was being "good" by pitying and forgiving her. But one day I realized that my pity and forgiveness didn't add one thing to her life, it was a never ending cycle that didn't go anywhere; there was no growth. We just repeated the same behavior over and over and over. So I stopped. When I stopped playing my role, she invited me to "go to hell." I've spoken to her about three times in the twenty years since. I'm not sure if she was able to overcome the anger, I hope she did.

In contrast, my father also had a rough childhood (your story of neighbors rejecting you sounds very similar to one he tells). When he was in his mid-twenties, a married man with a child, he had an "epiphany" about his anger and he did everything he could to let it go. I know that to this day his childhood is a major factor in what drives him to succeed. At 75 he is still a workaholic. But he let the anger go and he lived a happier life for having done it. I have never been tempted to pity my father.

Likewise, I do not "pity" you. But I am awestruck. I have very little to be angry about and yet sometimes I can barely contain myself when someone cuts me off in traffic. I know that anger can be all-consuming. Your achievement is so very impressive.

By the way, have you read "Angela's Ashes"?
Wow. That is an unbelievable list for a child to own. I look forward to reading the meaning you made of these things.
Juli, I think by just listing what happened, and this isn't all of it, the practice of listing these events takes some of the false drama out of what happened, and that is what I meant to do in this part of the story.
overworkedtiredandnumb, Anger really is an enormous issue for those who endure a difficult childhood. What you noticed with your friend was incredibly insightful for a kid. I didn't make a lot of friends, none long enough to have had any insight about me that I noticed.

Stay tuned, I will get into what it meant someday soon...
Thank you so much to everyone who has commented. I feel like saying too much will spoil the later installments.

I will confirm that courage has been my central and predominant emotion.
Susanne, you give me too much credit! I was in my mid-twenties when my friend and I parted. I had spent a number of years trying to help people with my "pity." Mostly to no avail.
Yikes. Susanne, one thing I noticed here is that most of the events are what could be described as negative or emotionally loaded. Some are neutral. Nothing positive or typical. Perhaps this is your intent. Perhaps there is nothing positive or neutral. This does seem a little filtered though through a lens of "traumatic events." Just noticing. I appreciate your candor and look forward to what you do with this. Thanks.
When this many difficult things happen to a kid, the nice stuff doesn't stand out so much grif.
Even so, that is more insight than most of the folks I knew in my twenties had. I had to hide being pissed off or I wouldn't have had any friends.
I get the hiding it part. I have this sense in me that you got something good emotionally somewhere along the line - but I could easily be getting my own stuff all twisted up here too. Maybe spiritual salvation. I'll wait as you unfold your story.
I rated it but don't know what to say. You deserved so much better and I am so sorry.
Susanne, this is so painful to read, and I am so furious with these animals who so abused you. You are brave to have posted this and I hope it has given you even more of the strength you so obviously have. Telling your story is perhaps revenge of a kind... I don't know if that helps.
Thank you for acknowledging via the written word, what went on in your past.
I appreciate what a confronting thing that is to do.
Other than telling YOU this, I am speechless...

I don't really need any revenge. Most of the people who hurt me had their own personal torments and issues of ignorance.

I hope the stalker guy got what he deserved, but I really don't know about any of that. I think most pedophiles got away with it during the 1950's & 60's.

The reason I am writing about this will come in later writings. It isn't so I will be more courageous. I just am and always was. I still have little courage near the edges of cliffs or sharp precipices. I don't care if I ever get over that either. We don't have to be courageous about everything.
S - rereading my comment, it sounds like I'm saying something like "this is vengeful and revenge is not helpful", and that I was being critical about it. I totally don't mean to sound like that! I wanted to say that posting must be a relief to you and is hopefully empowering. (I hope I don't reread and have to change this again!! I'll quit while I'm ahead.)
Life is really like a bowl of cherry but it seems that some are filled with just the pits... and Church people can be so mean sometimes. I think they forgot the verse: That says judge not.... Hope your life is glorious now.
I promise I'll never pity you, but I'll admire your honesty and the courage you have to expose what many would hide and your toughness

And I look forward to more of your writing
Janie I knew you would get it! Thanks.
I didn't comment earlier because I was so angry I needed to calm down. Still, I have to wonder how you survived a family with such complete lack of boundaries, not to mention, from this list, morals.

It's a tribute to your innate intelligence and inner strength that you became who you are. I hope this will inspire others to know their stories of pain are not unique. No less horrible, but less guilt-provoking.
wow, this is powerful stuff. thank you for sharing. i relate to so much of this. and it is all about what you learn from that crap and the meaning you ascribe to it. the small things. how you are able to intervene when a parent is abusing child in public when no one else can. how you are able to call child protective services in a city you're visiting when no one else will. you know the drill. love love love and gratitude.
Sistah, thanks for the writing. "False drama?" I can't imagine what you mean by that. Sounds like real drama to me, the kind that is not over-acted... And grif's comment about 'filtered thru a lens of traumatic events,' well, I guess 'you gotta be there' is what I'd say. Not much positive really stands out once your innocence is stolen at such a young age.

I can relate to your abuse, like so many other women (and some men) can. 'Family' is a loaded word to me. Have you read "The Power to Heal" by Ellen Bass? Helpful.

I love what you said that it isn't about being more courageous. Rated - and waiting for the other installments! Hugs.
Susanne, My heart aches for you. Your bio tells me you have found peace. I certainly hope so.
What I mean by 'false drama' is making up a big melodrama around a situation so that it mires you in place. You get stuck there rather than looking for what's effective, good, or even great. What would be the best thing for me to do next? What would give me a shot at some happiness? What would make my world, my life more secure?

If I was busy being pissy, vengeful or angry with everyone I would never have met my sweet, sweet Dan. I wouldn't have learned how to love or to partner or how to get important work done, and projects through to fruition. Drama is way over-rated. I'd certainly rather have my character, a work in progress, to wrestle with and the life that I am living than be stuck with the debris with which drama litters many a life.

And I am not about giving in to denial either. There is a balance that we reach between knowing ourselves, denial and moving on in developing more of what we mean to be.
Hi. As usual I'm late. Maybe I should call myself the March Hare.

There is nothing much that I can say that others have not already said. I know you well enough to know that you have exhibited a remarkable strength of character that has helped make you who you are, someone I like, care about and admire. I'm off to reading the rest of what you have up already.

Wow. You're a survivor.
I read this series backwards. Now I can see what made you the incredibly brave child you were and awesome woman you've become. And ever piece had at least one image that broke my heart. In this one; you crying in a high chair as you touched your corduroy overalls. You relate some horrifying things, but that will stay with me. Thank you for the lessons in courage.
No child should suffer this introduction to life. I am so sorry you did. And it gives strong proof of the power to create our lives as evidenced in you and what you have done with your life and continue to do despite these beginning. You are a lotus.