I don’t remember much of this trauma but I have held on to this memory ever since the trauma happened when I was 5 years old. I still do not know to this day if my memory of the traumatic event is complete or not. Thinking about this day still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know where my father went wrong this particular day. Perhaps he was high on drugs, perhaps he was on a power trip… I’ll probably never know but I still question to how any father could put his 5 year old daughter through such torment?
I was 5 years old when this trauma happened and living in Tehachapi, CA with my biological father, my step-mother and my months old half-sister. It was a hot summer day. There wasn’t much grass where we lived so we would take a dip in the kiddy pool or hang out in the shade to keep cool. I was obsessed with my little half-sister, like she was my baby doll. I loved her so much and still do to this day. On this particular day my father and step-mother were fighting… screaming at each other is more accurate. I don’t remember what the argument was about but I do remember wanting to get away from the screaming. Objects were being thrown and broken in the house around me and so I decided to sit on the end of my small bed. Silently and wishing I was invisible.
My father burst into my room screaming at my step-mother who was still in the other room. Sometimes my father would use me as a pawn to terrorize my step-mother and this day was no exception. I was sitting on the end of the bed, wishing he couldn’t see me as he proceeded to pull down his pants and urinate all over me. He completely soaked me in his urine from my head to my waist. My bed was also soaked in his urine. I remember feeling as though I had to protect my little half-sister in this situation but I am still unclear as to where she was during this incident. I don’t remember much more of the trauma other than my step-mother yelling back at my father about how immature his actions were. As helpful as she thought she was at the time, I now realize she was a huge contributor to many of my childhood traumas, just like my father.
How do I process this memory? I wish I knew the right answer. I have held onto the memory, remembering every single sense that my body allows me to recall from that day. I was terrified and degraded. I felt worthless and like a pawn. I was nothing but an object to my father, simply used to manipulate other people. I meant nothing more to him than a toilet. At least he would have the courtesy of flushing a toilet. Or maybe not? I will probably never know.
I hate my name. I hate my name. I hate my name. I hate my name.
My first name is Amber. Many people tell me that the name is fitting for me especially given that my hair is golden-red. However, I am not exactly a fan of the name. I’ve never understood until recently why I dislike my name so much other than the fact that hearing it literally makes my ears buzz and ring.
I’m sure that I am not completely aware of all of the reasons that I loathe my birth name but through my (C)PTSD recovery journey I have begun to recognize that my name conjures up horrific memories from my abusive childhood. I mistakenly confided this vulnerable information with abuser M when we had first met and I now realize that he immediately seized the moment as a way to take control of me… through my name.
Abuser M instantly took advantage of my vulnerability and suggested that he give me a “pet-name” that only he could call me. That sounded rather nice to me over repeatedly hearing him call me the name that makes my ears ring. And so he gave me the first pet-name that I acquired while under his control. He dubbed me “slutpet”.
He called me my new pet-name lovingly. I now see the contradiction as a simple oxymoron and one way of many for abuser M to take control of me mentally. Abuser M created a heart shaped pet tag encrusted with pretty pink swarovski crystals to display my new degrading pet-name for all to see. The tag was engraved “SLUTPET If FOUND CALL SIR (###) ###-####”. He attached the tag to a collar that he had obtained on Haight Street in San Francisco and gingerly clasped it on my neck. I now see how forcing me to wear such a bold and clearly degrading sign on my neck was just another one of abuser M’s manipulative and calculated control tactics.
How original… but I grasped on to the degrading name because I wanted him to love me. It is now horrifically sad for me to realize that I had prefered to be called slutpet over my birth name of Amber. After I embraced my first pet-name I knew that I would take on whatever name abuser M would give me. I now realize that abuser M further used pet-names as a form of control over myself.
Eventually I was given a second pet-name by abuser M which ultimately became the pet-name that he would regularly call me in private. At this time I cannot quite remember how or even why he came up with this new pet-name but the name now gives me the shivers. The second pet-name that abuser M gave to me was “cuntly”.
Of course abuser M called me cuntly as if it were an honor for me to wear his degrading name. And yet again a custom collar was created for me that clearly spelled out my shameful pet-name CUNTLY. Abuser M said that this collar was only for “play” and I would rarely have wear it outside. However, he would often threaten to force me to wear the degrading collar in public as a form of punishment if I had “disobeyed” him in any way…I only wore it in public a few times but those few times were enough to realize that I did not like to disobey abuser M.
I am uncertain why, perhaps it was shame over time but abuser M eventually transformed my pet-name cuntly into a short and less publicly degrading name; he began to call me “c-ree”. C-ree to abuser M was a more publicly acceptable form of his favorite pet-name cuntly which he would rarely call me in public. I now see that abuser M realized his horrific treatment of me was rarely accepted in society… unless you are a member of the BDSM community where nearly anything flies.
Another public pet-name that abuser M would frequently call me was “Red”. Yet again, I am uncertain when abuser M began calling me this name but I do know why. It was my “professional” pet-name. He believed it was acceptable for him to call me Red in professional situations such as business meetings, events, etc. I even had a personalized email address through his IT consulting business… red@abuserM.com. Of course his slave, his pet had to also perform as a girlfriend and eventually fiance in public and professional situations.
After I told abuser M about loathing my birth name, there is only one instance that I can recall where he had called me Amber out loud in public. The only time that he acknowledged who I really am by calling me by my name was in court where I had taken him at the end of our relationship to obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. In the court in front of a female judge, he clearly called me Amber. Of course he could not show his true self and call me the names he had always called me so “lovingly” such as slutpet, cunlty, c-ree, or red in front of a female judge. It almost didn’t even sound real, like I had never heard my name come out of his mouth ever before. The sound of abuser M saying “Amber” out loud was almost a shock and a blow to my ears… because my name does after all bring up horrific flashbacks.
On the bright side of all of this – because of the abuse that I endured I now have the opportunity to confidentially and legally change my full name to whatever my heart desires. I already have the name picked out but I want to sit with it for a while before I finalize my decision. It is quite exciting for me to take this opportunity, it will be a chance to renew my sense of self and to become who I want to become without any inhibitions. I like to tell people that I am simply upgrading my name. I cannot wait for the day that I am able to accomplish this important step in my recovery. It gives me something to look forward to, almost as if I have a new future ahead of me.
This is the only man that I really ever knew as a father. His full name is Christopher Jay Wootton but he is better known as The Cotton Ball Bandit in the Bay Area. Why? Because he robbed 10 Marin County banks while only attempting to conceal his appearance with a cotton puff beanie. Or whatever it is called… He has been dubbed The Cotton Ball Bandit whether it really captures his true character or not.
I am now attempting to focus on the positives in our relationship. Chris is now in prison and will probably stay there for the remainder of his life given that he has been sentenced to 60 years in prison and he is already 63. I feel that his confinement to a prison only catalyzes my relationship with him simply because I know that he is in a position to ponder and possibly answer many unanswered questions that I have about my childhood. So far he seems to be honest and genuine in his letters to me.
There is so much that I can and will eventually discuss about Chris aka The Cotton Ball Bandit. He obviously shaped who I am as a person today and he is an important tool in my (C)PTSD recovery. For now, I will leave you with a photo that Chris captured of me many years ago. It is now shockingly ironic given he currently resides in San Quentin State Prison…
I wish that I could say that I thought differently of myself… but I now understand that I have difficulties with loving myself because I was not shown love as a child. The harder I grasp onto that fact, the swifter I begin to create love and self compassion for myself.
About two weeks ago I fell into one of the most severe flashbacks that I can remember ever dealing with in my (C)PTSD recovery. There were a series of events that triggered the intense flashback but I won’t get into that right now.
During the flashback I had realized that my glasses (pictured broken below) were directly linked to one of my abusers who I will call abuser “M”. The horrific realization immediately disgusted me… and so I decided to destroy my glass.
How did I destroy my glasses? I stomped on them with my bare feet. Once I realized the connection between my glasses and abuser “M” I knew that I could never look through those lenses again. And so I decided to therapeutically break them…at least that is how I prefer to describe the tantrum that I was going through while I was stomping on my glasses with my bare feet.
And it was worth it! My feet still hurt from the after effects of stomping on the glasses with bare feet… but it was worth knowing that I will never look through those lenses again. Some people may see my tantrum as destructive anger but I beg to differ. Breaking my glasses was constructive because it has moved me one step further towards my recovery and evolution.
And besides… I have another pair of glasses anyways! And now I have a great excuse to get contacts lenses.