These past few days have been nothing short of incredible. Some things have happened here at home that have caused both Josh and I to be soft-hearted, more so than usual. Take for example, his wallet, that was stolen from a department store. His birth certificate, ID, more than $100, my credit card too- and lots of other goodies were inside of it.
Interestingly enough, rather than being angry much, we’ve been teary-eyed and hyper-emotional. But that’s to be expected under the circumstances. As for me, I’ve been pondering my life (imagine that!) and contemplating my absolute direction in which I’ll go. I was in Business Administration five years ago when my Pastor suggested I switch majors to something that might better utilize my talents. I considered what she said and decided to go into Human Services/Behavioral Sciences. Generally, I wanted to work with homeless people and troubled juveniles, etc. From there, I considered Criminal Justice and probation/parole, and up until yesterday, I was alright with that.
But I’ve been praying and asking God to guide me to the place that He wants me to go. His answer: Psychology- specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/OCD behaviors- but most importantly- child sexual abuse and trauma. He’s really been digging around in my heart these past few months, stirring up some things I’d rather not acknowledge.
I was sexually abused by a relative when I was nine years old. Up until a year ago, I couldn’t even string those words together in the same sentence. I haven’t been in denial- but so very apprehensive to even look in that direction. It means pain. Heaps and heaps of pain. At some point, we sexual abuse survivors really do just get tired of this old monster that eats away at our heads and hearts. It’s emotionally and psychologically draining. Well, perhaps that is a form of denial. But as long as I don’t want to see it, it’s still buried. I couldn’t speak about this issue while my Dad was alive. This type of thing destroys lives- it’s like a locomotive with razor-sharp teeth- eating souls along the way. It devastates families. So for many years, I’ve stayed silent. I’ve taken my lashes privately to spare my siblings what would have been much ruin, both privately and publicly. Not surprisingly, my family has preferred that as well. Nobody ever talks about it. It “doesn’t exist” in their worlds.
I was told (when I was a child) that if I ever told anybody, my brothers and sister would be taken away and we would all be put in foster homes and that I would have been the cause. I was only 9! What a terrific and horrendous burden to place upon a child so young. So I kept my mouth shut. And suffered alone. And suffered. And suffered. And suffered.
My siblings got to keep each other and nobody went to a foster home. Hooray.
But I can’t stay silent any more. God has been walking through my heart. He’s telling me that I have a story to tell and it’s ok to tell it! I’ve suffered enough. I can hardly believe the number of women I’ve met online who are my age that have been sexually abused. A good many of them are taking multiple medications and cannot even leave their houses without another family member. That was me a handful of years ago too.
For four years now I’ve studied psychology and such in college. I used to slag on therapists, thinking they were goofy- spitting out “mumbo jumbo Freudian crap”. How ignorant! Naturally, I’ve come to understand just how hard psychology really is; all of the various sections of the brain and their functions that pertain to specific disorders and so on. And that’s just the physiological aspect- there’s the sociological aspect too; perspectives and theories and research methods. The field is so extensive, it really does command respect.
I’m 44 years old and I’ve never been treated for being molested as a child. The shame and pain that goes along with it keep women like me silent. And so we suffer silently. Year after year. But God has touched my heart today with His finger. It burns with a super fire! I’ve decided for the first time in my life to seek treatment for my childhood trauma. The silence must be broken if the remedy is to be successful. Besides, this is the area I want to study and specialize in in my studies. How can I possibly be of any help or use to other women who’ve suffered from this if I don’t become the client and receive professional help too?
And so I shall. I’ve called my local Behavioral Health facility and have scheduled an appointment for June. The first step really is the hardest. I know that the road won’t be particularly easy, but I know that I’m making a good emotional and psychological investment for my future. I’ve been so encouraged by the many (many many) brave women who have shared their similar stories through their blogs.
Some people think that such things shouldn’t be aired in public, but every one who has and continues to do so is my hero. We never know just who we’re going to touch in this world, or who may be reading our posts that have no idea what to do, where to go, who to talk to, etc.
I have a great, new outlook on life and I’m excited at the prospect of finally getting professional help for such an ugly disease: child sexual abuse.
Today is my mother’s birthday. She doesn’t know it yet but I’m going to give her my (college) diplomas as one of her gifts. I’ve fought so hard to finish my degree- for myself, yes, but especially for her. And she’s so proud of me. :0)
Happy birthday, Mom. ♥
My Mom’s one and only sunflower
It’s 4:27 a.m. and I’m wide awake. There’re only three weeks left in the semester and I’m running out of time fast. I still have 4 major research papers to write (APA, of course), 30 hours of practicum/intern/volunteering at the psych ward and youth shelter, a diagnostic interview to videotape, and an oral presentation on Autism to prepare and record. (Not to mention 6 more exams.) My accumulative GPA is 3.65: not too shabby.
I tried sleeping but darn it, I have a career to plan! Besides, I have an executive decision to make: transfer immediately over to Indiana University Bloomington to begin working on my B.S. in Criminal Justice, or stick it out for the summer semester at my current university, Vincennes, and receive my 2nd degree- an A.S. in Social Work. I’m 97% finished, according to my audit, which means if I take only 3 more social work courses this summer- I’ll have my 2nd degree.
Granted, little can be done with an A.S. in Social Work (apart from residential counseling, youth director, case manager in a group home or Substance Abuse facility, etc.) but I do also have the degree in Behavioral Sciences too, along with the CPC in Substance Abuse. Technically, it’s 5 academic years combined.
My short term primary objective is to become a probation officer, and possibly, parole- ultimately. (Perhaps 3 years in probation working with juveniles, then a transition over to parole so I can take a few years experience with me.) I’m really wanting to stay in the area of juvenile work: I’d rather work with impressionable, responsive, and “workable” adolescents who haven’t already been hardened by poor choices and criminal deviance. However, my dilemma is that most probation office facilities require a bachelor’s degree. I have the equivalency, and I’m sure I could sell myself in the area if I tried, but I really think I do need the Criminal Justice training. I’m not entirely loving “Social Work”, and so I’m tempted to simply transfer over to IU Bloomington so I can begin working on my Criminal Justice degree over the summer. But that means tossing my A.S. in Social Work when I’m 97% finished!
I suppose I’ve ramble-typed enough to have worked this out: I’ll remain at Vincennes for the duration of the summer and complete my Social Work degree. In the meantime, I’ll have registered at IU Bloomington and will be ready to go this fall.
I still have my heart set on Forensic Psychology, but for now, a B.S. in Criminal Justice is what I need to focus on. I’m hoping to be able to integrate photo therapy into my work (down the road) and do more school readings with my children’s book, but I have to keep my irons in the fire down to, oh…say FIVE or so.
I’m considering taking my Abnormal Psychology chapter test on Theories, Perspectives, and Models but I s’pose that can wait until the morning. I’m so super excited these days! I’ve waited 20 long years to be able to go back to college, get a few degrees under my belt, and start my career. My kids are mostly grown (17-24), so I’m allowing myself the luxury to focus on ME now. This has all been carefully planned for a very long time and it’s exciting that I’m finally actually doing it.
Only two more years!
Along the way I’m going to join and pick up certification in IAAP (Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals ) & ICAADA (Indiana Counselors Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse). My Substance Abuse professor suggested that I join these two organizations. I’m not necessarily going into the Substance Abuse/Intervention field, but I think more than a Criminal Justice degree is necessary if one wants to be an effective probation officer. Many juveniles will have already experienced drugs and alcohol by the time they’re 13. Juveniles that are sent to the probation department? Their experiential substance abuse percentage is closer to 100%. I want to have a few extra tools in my belt: a solid substance abuse education and credentials are essential when working with juveniles.
Juveniles + substance abuse = probation
adults + substance abuse = parole
substance abuse – college education = homelessness, jail, criminal behavior, etc.
It’s only a matter of time before a juvenile experimenting with substance abuse ends up homeless, in prison, or on parole. There’s a very strong correlation between juveniles who are on probation and substance abuse. I want to do what I can so that he or she doesn’t end up going down that road.
And now I’m off to bed.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what a cell looks like during its anaphase cycle of mitosis, this is it:
Centromeres: whole black peppercorn
Spindle Fibers: uncooked pasta
Chromosomes: Ramen noodles soaked in Srirracha sauce
Microtubules: whole green tea
Grade received: A
Apparently, I made the Dean’s List and didn’t even know it.
I received this peculiar letter yesterday from my university. I’m a Phi Theta Kappa (Honor’s Society) member (1992 & 2010/Ivy Tech) already, but the Dean’s List at my current University had always eluded me, barely. I made the mistake of choosing a guy I was dating (three years ago) over my education and dropped several courses during our short time together. My GPA took a nose dive and I’ve spent the past three years working feverishly to rebuild it. Lesson learned!
My ultimate academic goal is not to make the Dean’s List: My goal is to apply and integrate what I learn in school into my every day life, for myself and others. Making the Dean’s List is a necessary affirmation that I made the right choices along the way and as a devoted goal-setter, I’ve reached my personal goal. Finally.
My accumulative GPA for this past semester is 3.75. (Not good enough by my own standards, but I’ll take it!)
Tonight, I’m a happy camper. 🙂
I’ve also started the Master Cleanse cleanse. It’s not a “diet”, but rather a lifestyle. I made a delicious supper of mesquite chicken, broccoli and cheddar (real cheese only!), stuffing and polenta squares, but since it’s after 9, I settled for a glass of “master cleanse goodness” instead: water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice.
I don’t know when I became such a health nut, but it’s not entirely a bad thing.
The Dean’s List!!!
It’s 6:57 a.m.
I’m listening to Sonata 3 in C Major BWV1005 by Bach and crying over Sylvia Plath.
I’ve been on this Plath kick for almost a year now. I used to be so harsh and judgmental of her. (“Well that’s what she gets for sticking her head into an oven!”) I didn’t understand her, nor did I try to until I read Rough Magic- her biography by Paul Alexander. Sylvia and I share several things in common. We’re both writers (dare I make such a claim?), perfectionistic overachievers, we both lost our children, we both went mad, and we were both locked away in an institution many years ago- having suffered breakdowns halfway through our college majors (and before)- and then immediately dusted ourselves off and jumped right back into the academic ring- no small feat.
I have a new respect for her, and until I began comparing notes, I had no idea how similar our lives were/are. I think she’s one of the most courageous women I’ve ever known. It’s not easy to have a colossal breakdown (pardon the pun) then pick yourself up again and carry on in the faces of all of the inquisitive eyes and naysayers…dream shatterers…
I’ve been reading her recently published (very private) journals, all night in fact. What a privilege to be able to wile away the hours reading her personal diary! I clearly have a fascination with her, but not only that- her poetry is by far, my favourite of anyone’s- Anne Sexton weighing in at close second. For me, nobody can touch these immensely talented and troubled women, who were both personal friends of each other (In fact, they shared a poetry workshop class and Plath admired Sexton greatly) who took their own lives at their own hands.
I read this in Sylvia’s journal earlier, and this is what made me cry:
Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action– stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way – and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity!
I’m listening, Sylvia. :0)
I received my audit from my University several days ago: my petition to graduate has been accepted and I’m expected to graduate this December on the 7th at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center. It’s been a long four years! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull off a Behavioral Sciences major- I had to face certain doom and unspeakable tragedy (sexual abuse as a child, institutionalization, the loss of my children, insanity, years of being battered relentlessly by an unforgiving system), but it’s been worth fighting for and I had to prove to myself that I am more than a “label” that has a fancy name of this disorder or that. I will not be defined by a clinical title or even the thought of another person, for I’ve chosen to maximize what I’ve learned in school and minimize the trauma I’ve lived through.
Still, I can’t help but to be heavily influenced by the likes of Plath- she stood up in the face of terror itself and fought as long as she could. But what an incredible talent! I’m going to heed the words in her journal and I’m not going to be ashamed of my past and what I’ve lived through. It’s a miracle just to be alive.
I’ve decided that after I graduate, I’ll transfer over to Southern New Hampshire University, which is a private coed and one of the best schools in New England to work on my BA- not for Criminal Justice- but for Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. Plath has inspired me, completely, and has reminded that I’m an artist and a writer, and have been my whole life. I have the skeleton already- which is the passion- but I need the BA in Creative Writing so I can flesh out the bones.
I’m already a starving artist, what will it matter?
Life has been a blur lately of exams, cramming, writing essays and reports: I have 5 weeks to go!
And, I have 5 A’s in all 5 classes still. Go me. :0)
Josh stands in the golden hour sunlight down at the River.
Canon Digital Rebel/Super Takumar 135/3.5 film lens
And Heidi, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your introduction to Plath at Olive Garden years ago. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be doing this whole school thing. xo