Bk1 Ch1: The Deepest Wounds wtss1-003

A realization from Demian’s childhood experience with covert abuse — the damage inflicted by redefining reality and learning to experience the dynamics of covert abuse as normal.

I believe the driving force behind virtually all abuse are the dynamics of manipulation, deceit and self-entitlement, which is the heart of covert abuse. Behind the more obvious forms of other types of abuse that inflict their own injury, the damage covert abuse can run even deeper. This is the deepest wound I speak of in Chapter 1 of Covert Abuse and the Art of Discernment. We discuss the pattern or template of abuse that can be created out of these dynamics, and your resulting relationship with abuse.

I’m, also, doing something a little different starting with this episode. Initially, I thought this podcast series would be a straight reading of the book manuscript. But I’m feeling like that’s just not enough.

So right after the Outro, I recorded a brief commentary based on an idea that arose from a memory I shared. It felt right to do this. I will in all likelihood feel led to do that in the other episodes as well. Make sure you listen all the way to the end of the episode! If there’s another two minutes or so after I share my Patreon account information or my website, that’s not blank space! The episode is not over.

Thank you for listening! If you have anything to say about the episode or a thought you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe! I’m looking forward to being with you again in Episode 4, Chapter 2.

Love is the dream.

~ Keeping the Dream



Opening and closing song is an original piece by Demian and her friend and music partner, Stacey Young, the title song of their first CD together, “DreamSinger – For the Sake of Love”


Demian’s Website: www.keepingthedream.com ?
Demian’s Patreon Site: www.patreon.com/keepingthedream?
Demian’s Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/demianyumei?
Healing Journey Facebook: www.facebook.com/keepingthedream


[0.0] Intro and Music

Episode 3, from the Where There’s Smoke Series on Covert Abuse, Book 1: Covert Abuse and the Art of Discernment.
Written and narrated by Demian Yumei of KeepingtheDream.com

Intro and closing music composed and sung by Demian Yumei and Stacey Young

If you’re new to this podcast it’s based on a book I’m writing, so as a book, it’s probably better to start with episode 1, but you’re welcome to join here.

This is Episode 3: Chapter 1, The Deepest Wounds


[0:40]  A Realization

I used to think the worst thing that happened to me, as a child, was the incest. I thought my challenge was to deal with the sexual abuse of years long past and its effects on me today.

But I don’t believe that any more… I’ve come to realize that even without the incest, even if that part of the equation were erased, the damage incurred through my family would hardly have been less.

Incest was only a part of the underlying sickness that infected my life.

I don’t mean “only” in a dismissive or trivializing way. There is nothing trivial about sex abuse and it should never be dismissed.

What I mean is that incest was one of the many expressions of the underlying toxic dynamic in my family — the dynamic of covert abuse.

The heart of covert abuse is manipulation. Its lifeblood — usury, deceit, control and a gross sense of entitlement. These come together to form psychological and emotional violence with the capacity to extend into physical violence, of which sex abuse and incest are a part.

Covert abuse was an integral part of my family. It touched everything.

I believe that without the sex abuse, I would have emerged from my family just as wounded, just as handicapped to deal with the real world and just as drawn to people guaranteed to hurt me as I turned out to be with the incest.


[2:28] The Deepest Wound

The deepest wound isn’t that my father sexually abused me. The deepest wound is that he told me he loved me.

It’s not all the boundaries in our relationship that were continuously crossed. It’s that he used that as evidence what we had was special.

The deepest wound isn’t all the evenings in the basement bedroom that happened. It’s acting like a father and daughter lying together alone in the dark is normal.

If I felt anything was wrong, it was that I was wrong. I became wrong.

I prayed every night for God to make me a good girl. I prayed not as a child who misbehaved and wanted to do better, but as one who was defective and wanted to be better — hoping against hope to be redeemed from the inherent flaw that I was. Internalizing the wrongness that permeated our family was the closest I could come to acknowledging it.

The cracked lips, red and raw from chewing and constantly licking them, the nails on my tiny fingers chewed down to the meat, the facial tics – eyes that blinked erratically like some kind of frantic Morse code for help, and an insanely skinny body that came not from distorted body image or a high metabolism but from a desire to punish myself by starving me to death… or maybe to escape by disappearing; a kind of protest, a hunger strike of sorts against the outrage of living a lie.

The crossing of boundaries and the physical transgressions were egregious to be certain, but the cover up, the denying and the recreating of reality, leaving me to hold the bag of guilt as if it were mine, were even more egregious.

It is this, that I count as the greatest abuse that inflicted, ultimately, the deepest wound.


[4:45] Template for Abuse

Nothing was more important than my father’s image, what he needed to believe about himself and what his family was supposed to support and protect at all costs.

It’s not that we were totally blind to his imperfections, although we would never call them that. We were just not supposed to let them affect how we saw him, and most importantly, talked about him.

The reality was I witnessed my father mistreat my mother on a daily basis. Much of it was verbal and emotional abuse.

My mother was Chinese raised in Japan. My father was an American navy seaman.

I remember very little interaction between my parents in Japan. I remember more about the country than my parents, but my perception of my mom as weak and not as valuable as my father began to form in the United States. My earliest impression of their relationship is the underlying contempt he held for her.

He made fun of my mother’s accent. He belittled her in front of the children, treating her like she was stupid. When she tried to express an idea or opinion and stumbled over the English words, he encouraged us to laugh at her with him. And we did. He talked over her, shot down her ideas or worse, ignored her.

My father was embarrassed that she cleaned houses and babysat for money. But that didn’t stop him from using her money to make ends meet. Nor did it cause him to encourage her to better her situation, by taking a class or developing new skills. If anything he dissuaded her from doing those things.

He flirted with other women in front of her, made plans and stood her up, cheated on her and put other people before her, on many occasions.

But even my mom, who could spit out his wrongs against her like bullets from a semiautomatic weapon, still held steadfastly to the belief that, deep down, he was a good man worth fighting and suffering for.

My father’s treatment of my mom angered me. It infuriated and perplexed me, because I couldn’t reconcile the two fathers — the one who made me feel like I mattered when he asked me what I thought about things and the one who treated people, including me, like we were disposable. So I made one false and the other true.

Guess which one I made true.

I spent ridiculous amounts of time appealing to my father’s better nature, which he didn’t have. With impeccable skill, I ran a kind of balance sheet in my head that always leaned in his favor. The positive things he said canceled out the negative things he did. His positive words didn’t just bear equal weight with his negative actions. They held greater weight.

Nothing he did, nothing, changed my perception of my father as a good person. His hurtful actions? They just made me more loyal to him, because I believed if I believed in him enough, he would believe in himself too.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Yeah, many targets of covert abuse have been there.


[8:25 ] Relationship with Abuse

Kids idealize their parents, I get that. At least until adolescence, children are by nature very forgiving and overlooking of their parents’ faults. I’m not talking about that here.

This see-no-evil perception wasn’t something I’d eventually grow out of. It may have started out that way, but my love, my trust and loyalty were hijacked by a father who twisted it into an unnatural and unhealthy allegiance to him.

The point here is that when he left, he didn’t take the effect of covert abuse with him. He didn’t turn off the switch to this dynamic in our family. It continued to operate just fine without him.

My response to my father’s abusive behaviors — making excuses and perceiving them as exceptions to the rule rather than red flags to be heeded — would be something I’d repeat over and over again in other relationships.

My response to abuse became my relationship with abuse.

Dysfunctionally attracted and loyal to men who would use me, I would simply try harder when faced with an abuse that another person would see as a red flag. It’s not that I couldn’t recognize, necessarily, abusive behavior. It’s just that my response to it was skewed. Someone healthier would take it as their cue to leave. I would take it as my cue to dig in my heels and fight for this person.

I would be well into my fifties before I could identify and recognize toxic dynamics for what they were. But once I was able to tell myself the truth, my liberation came quickly.

And I never looked back.


[10:17] Outro & Music

So I write, “And I never looked back.” Not on the toxic relationship I left, I didn’t. But I did look back on the long, hard journey it took me to get there, to retrace the steps of my journey to help others, to help you on yours.

Which is why I’m writing on this topic and making this podcast. If you find this podcast helpful or know of even one person who might benefit from it, please subscribe and let them know about it.

If you would like to support the creation of this podcast, please visit my Patreon site, Patreon.com/keepingthedream and become one of my patrons. Your support doesn’t have to be big to make a big difference.

In the next episode, Episode 4, Chapter 2, we’ll talk about how no prerequisites of abuse, like mine, are necessary to becoming a target of covert abuse, how allies are abused and how the ultimate relationship damaged by covert abuse is the one you have with yourself.


[11:36] Something to Think About

Before I sign off, I would like to do a little something different here. We could call this the Tea & Conversation part of the episode. If you go to my website, KeepingtheDream.com, you’ll understand the reference and its importance to me.

I really am sitting here with my cup of tea, and yes, I have a small piece of chocolate. Moon Chocolates from when I was gloriously in Vermont earlier this year.

But I just want to share that sometimes, in our healing we’re very hard on ourselves, particularly if we’re children of abuse. People, some not meaning to be cruel and others fulling intending to, will ask, “Why didn’t you tell someone?” or “How could you have kept this to yourself?” as if you were somehow in collusion with your own abuse.

I’m here to challenge the assumption you told no one if you didn’t actually verbally describe the abuse. There’s more than one way to communicate. I shared some of my ways from nervous tics and nail biting to refusing to eat. That there wasn’t anyone around at that time to understand what I was trying to say isn’t my fault. I did the best I could with what I was capable or allowed.

And I bet you did too. There’s many ways to communicate when it isn’t safe to use words. I want you to think about ways you might have protested against your treatment.

Every shift in behavior, whether gradual or sudden — becoming withdrawn or acting out, getting sick frequently or in specific situations; any change in circumstances — grades in school, performance at work — can be you telling.

Even being compulsively perfect, can be you telling.

That doesn’t mean every child, every person who behaves in these ways has been abused. It does mean that you were not silent.

Don’t let anyone make you feel you were complicit in what happened to you or its continuation. Whether you communicated verbally, non verbally or did the very best you could to keep it all secret to yourself, starting today, give yourself credit for your own personal genius. You did what you had to do to survive. You used the language of your state of being, your mental and emotional health, your energy and body, as best and as safely as you could. Or you used the incredible power of a child or just a survivor to focus on only the things you could handle. That’s nothing to feel shame for. Only pride.

Give that child or younger you, even if only a few years, months, weeks or days younger, some love. Remember her, remember him and say thank you. You were strong then and you are strong now.

Just something to think about.

Until next time, this is Demian Yumei, Keeping the Dream.


End Song: For the Sake of Love

Support Demian Yumei on Patreon

About the Author

About the Author: Greetings, fellow dreamer, and welcome! I’m Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist. Some of my creative projects are a CD of healing music, “For the Sake of Love” and a children’s book on the interconnectedness of life, “Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes” published by Illumination Arts. Currently, I’m in the process of creating podcasts for my book series on covert abuse. My commitment is to the creative process especially as it relates to the healing journey. Whether I’m singing at a vigil for asylum seekers, memorial for political activists or sitting around a table sharing tea and conversation with friends who just want to talk heart to heart, I am always deeply moved by the human spirit to love and live with authentic beauty. Thank you for being here, for reading my posts and/or listening to my podcast. There’s much to share, much to create and the journey has just begun! Meet you on the path. .


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