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Posts tagged “sexual abuse

TRUTH BOMB

Newsflash: When you have an original thought and feel some way about something, it actually IS alright to express those feelings. Contrary to public opinion, it’s actually totally acceptable to express those said opinions in your own space, such as your FB account or blog. If somebody disagrees and doesn’t like what you say, they have the liberty to GTFO. There’s the door….don’t let it hit ya where the good Lord split ya and all.

I want to add, if your opinion is in stark opposition of anyone in your family, and you STILL want to express it, you’re absolutely entitled to. It doesn’t mean you “hate your family”, or are trying to “split your family apart”, etc. Good God Almighty, PLEASE go get educated and learn that we all have opinions and the right to express them.

If I say something you don’t like, GROW the &^%$ UP ALREADY. I will NOT be your whipping girl any longer.

Furthermore, I’m going to drop a truth bomb on you right now. When I was nine years old and MOLESTED BY A FAMILY MEMBER- I was told by that person that if I ever told anyone, I would be the reason that my family would be split up. That we would all be split up and put in a foster home and never see each other again. Do you know what kind of pressure that is to put on a 9 year old’s shoulder?! It’s insane pressure.

What did I do? I forgave my offender- sucked it up- took every lash upon my back and KEPT MY FAMILY TOGETHER- and kept my mouth shut- always.

Don’t you DARE accuse me of “trying to rip my family apart” because I have an opinion that differs from a sister, or cousin, or brother or someone else and choose to express it.

I try to forgive others- people know this about me. But if you want to continue walking in your ignorance and want to throw stones at my glass house?

I WILL call you out and treat you accordingly. I make no apologies here. Go learn a thing or two about temperance, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

God knows I already have. A loooooong time ago.

We’re done here.


Today is Cancelled

I have nothing I want to share with the world today; no mounting proclamations- not a whisper or thought. There are no pressing deadlines, no stressors upon me. Only the familiar urge to write, simply because I’m a writer. Not a paid one, mind you- nor professional. (As proof of my misused hyphen will attest.) Alas, I abuse hyphens liberally, and probably always will-

…I want to write a memoir. (Doesn’t everybody though?) I’m sure we all feel like we’ve lived through unspeakable atrocities that nobody would or could believe. We’ve all gleaned the golden nuggets of wisdom from the trenches of life that we’re compelled to share.  (There’s old Charlie, hacking and wheezing across the street. He lives with his father and smokes pot incessantly. He doesn’t let old age stop him from having a good spliff now and again. I call him old Charlie because he’s in his late 60’s or so, and his Dad is even older- maybe late 80’s or early 90’s. At all hours of the day and night, we can hear old Charlie out there, a mumble here or there followed by a short pause of silence- and then the hacking begins again.)

Please do feel free to go meander off and watch Spongebob while I ramble on about a memoir that I’ll probably never write. But do want to. There’s just so much work involved. I have the goods- I’ve already lived the story, and am still, but I think the hardest part is actually starting. Writing that first word and knowing how you want to tell the tale. So many times I’ve written blog posts- completely- whole blog posts written out and then deleted them, simply because I felt as if I had nothing worthwhile to say. But that’s the blogger’s curse. But there’s a difference between me and  the stereotypical modern day blogger. Most bloggers collectively know that content is king. For me though, this isn’t a typical “blog”- it’s my diary. My very public, online diary. As I’ve stated before, I want to leave more than a few pictures of me behind. More than a fingerprint. I want to leave an archive. A life in pictures and posts. I never thought I’d still be writing in this thing almost 10 year later! I can look back and read about small walks I took with my kids, or cooking in the kitchen on certain days- what we ate, what we said. LIFE.

And so, back to the memoir. I have an incredible story to tell. How I went from living in an uninhabitable, dilapidated house- wetting the bed and living quite literally like a wild animal. I really don’t care what member of the family reads this stuff and might get offended. Where was anyone at all when I needed help? Where was anyone when I cried at night, alone and afraid, (and very wet and smelly)? Where was anyone when I was molested as a young girl, at age of 9- right in my own house? So no. I don’t want to hear how my life story “offends” anyone. It’s what I had to live through. Everybody else was safe, except me.

From that hell, to growing up seriously disadvantaged. All the cards stacked against me. I should have been a statistic, I really should’ve. Women who’ve suffered less have been. God spared me though. I came through so much hell and hurt and trauma and shame and rage. I was shown grace, and given another chance. God pulled me from the pit and set me on solid ground again.

I look back at it all in amazement that I was able to trudge through the trenches and reach the other side of the river. I stand now in the green, fertile soil; life has come to me again.

I have only one more year to go and I’ll be graduating with my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. And still, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. For now, Im taking the necessary time off to try and absorb the fact the I no longer have my baby brother with me. For now, I’ll simply exist, and try to make it through each day. I’m giving myself the liberty to not have to do, think, feel, process, or anything else that takes emotional work. For now, I’m in a state of emotional cryogenics. Frozen inside- too numb to feel.

Until another crashing wave comes and drags me under. But then it’s quiet again, and I’ll know that I’ve made it through another rogue wave. There are no smiles within me. No solace. Today hurts. Tomorrow may too, but for now, I’ll distract myself with another adventure game. It hurts too much to think. I know that all of my training is going down the drain in these moments, but it’s o.k. I told myself that I could be in total denial for now and I’m taking my advice!

There will be warmer, better days ahead. As for now though, today is cancelled.

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Let’s Talk about Sexual Abuse and “Mental Illness”

There are two words that bother me greatly when I see, hear, or read them. They are: “Mental Illness”. Why does this wildly popular and acceptable term bother me so much? I’ll elaborate.

Quite a few of my friends are “mentally ill” at their own admittance, and those that aren’t, continue to use the phrase easily and without conviction. It’s just what people are known to be that have “mental problems”, right?

But who doesn’t have “mental problems”? Who hasn’t at some point broken down and cried? Who hasn’t felt afflicted spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, financially, health-wise or otherwise?  How did it affect you as person? Did you feel defeated? Did you feel like giving up? Did you fret? Worry? Call people? Overeat? Not leave your house for the day? The week?  Pace your floors? Cuss? Scream? Throw something? Drink? Drink more? (See where this is going?)

How do we differentiate between a person who is exhibiting (fatigue, duress, insomnia, depression and other) physiological manifestations; very natural responses to his or her sexual abuse or other traumas- combined with their chaotic environments, and a person who is exhibiting these signs when everything is hunky-dory?

One would be classified as appropriate behaviors given the circumstances, and the other would be classified as exhibiting psychological disorders. Both examples describe the same behaviors! But the environmental norms surrounding them separate the two.

If a person has been sexually abused and placed in a normal environment with siblings and other happy folks who have a swell life, there is no way the sexually abused person is going to behave in an expected manner. Who would behave at optimal performance in school, church, family gatherings, etc. after being sexually abused and having to “guard it” like Fort Knox gold? A person who tries to keep it together year after year will eventually break down while trying to process massive amounts of: guilt, anxiety, shame, anger, rage, confusion, blame, self-loathing, envy- the list is very long.

Given the circumstances, it’s actually very normal behavior to exhibit signs of distress, anxiety, anger, OCD-like tendencies, insomnia, night terrors, and other maladaptive behaviors that are associated with trauma. People who have not suffered these traumas do not understand and it is extremely unsettling for them that they do not have answers that they can file away, shelve, and dress things up with a tidy bow so that it’s sorted out in their heads.

But there needs to be an understanding in this area that these odd behaviors are very normal for sexual abuse survivors. What wouldn’t be normal is having suffered sexual abuse (especially as a child) and then sailing through life with little or no behavioral quirks. I dislike the word disorder because I challenge anybody to say that surviving sexual abuse is a disorder.

It is a triumph. Sexual abuse is a violation like no other and people give medals to those in wars who have been violated less and call them heroes. Sexual abuse survivors fight in the battlefields of life, and there’s no hero’s welcome. There’s no parade. No medals. We have to be our own heroes and rescue ourselves from the collective trenches of societal stigma and hate bombs that others throw at us and that we throw at ourselves.

Being a sexual abuse survivor is like being locked in a dark, dirty cell and given 5,000 keys: only one will unlock the door, and you have one hour to find the right one, or you could die! Doom. Doom doom doom! And lots of crying, worry, and fears that you will never find the right key in time.

But again, I reiterate that these horrible feelings are absolutely normal “given the circumstances”. We need to carefully select the words and labels we assign to people who have suffered such traumas. What if they believe you?!

God forbid I ever believe any labels that have been placed upon me in life. I would be the biggest mess in the world. But I have assigned healthier labels for myself: loving, compassionate, real, honest, valuable, happy. After all, I am the one who has to live with myself and why would I want to live with a pessimist?

The term “mental illness” came about in the 1800’s after various psychological perspectives disagreed on what actually defined a person to be mentally ill. Some believed that it was evil spirits. Some believed it was “psychogenic”, or psychologically induced, and others believed that it was somatogenic, or “of a biophysiological nature” (that’s a fancy way of saying “relating to your body” rather than your mental processes).

They locked “mentally ill” people up on psych wards and in chains where they were beaten and starved, or placed in a metal contraption that rendered them motionless for hours and days at a time. When the patients in these asylums exhibited paranoia, fear, depression, sleeplessness, excessive anxiety and other abuse-related behaviors (as a direct result of the abuse), their friends and families sadly accepted what the doctor had prescribed them all: mental illness.

Many of these patients were exhibiting very normal responses to being held against their wills and physically and psychologically abused. People were quick to swallow the ideology of “mental illness” because it satisfied their need to classify and understand what was happening to their family member.

In other words, people created the term “mental illness” to be able to better control individuals, societies, groups, and religious wars were often the fuel that kept this controversial fire burning. With the classification of mental illness: the acts of physical and emotional abuse on those who “broke society’s norms” were not only unpunishable, but sanctioned, approved, and rewarded!

Just as toxic as any sexual abuse is the belief by the victim that he or she is mentally ill, because somebody said so. This is such a powerful weapon of self-destruction, and only the act of sexual abuse itself is stronger.

We need to start tossing out terms like “mental illness”: those two words alone are TOXIC.
I will never accept terms like “mental illness” and “disorder”. Those are conceptual words made up by people who do not understand what it is like to live in a world with wild, technicolor vision. How about that?

How about, “I have a family member or friend who is mentally ill has really been through it, but they have still been able to [insert accomplishments here] despite their obstacles.”

It’s all about perception and presentation, and I think we owe one another a sum of decency in how we present each other.

I wrote this post so that other sexual abuse survivors might gather strength and comfort; know that there are others who have suffered the same things in life, but refuse to be labeled! You are what you believe you are. 

You have to believe yourself into something positive, constructive, hopeful, and be fearless in your conquests! Be bold in who you are, and acknowledge that you are a survivor rather than a victim. And when you learn that, teach others that too. Choose positivity rather than negativity.

Those 5,000 keys?

They all open the door.