Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back at This Year, and What I Learned

I think that 2010 has been one of the most emotionally difficult years of my life. It started off with what I looked at as a "last straw," the last tax on my strength. I soon learned that it wasn't, it was just another bump in the road, and it forced me to take a look at how I'd been dealing with all the other things. Not well. So I started looking at what I could do to heal from all that I'd been through. This has not progressed as well as I'd hoped, but I'm ok with that- all I can do is try harder, think more positive, and remember that it will take time and strength and work.

There's been a lot of ups and downs this year, lots of highs and lows. I learned that it's ok to hurt, as long as it doesn't stop you from living. I learned that  I am strong, that I can work on moving past the bad things. I learned what it's like to feel safe, to really know that nothing bad would happen. (This is a little sad when I think about it, because I don't feel that way all the time, but at least I know it's possible.) I am in the process of learning that I can't justify any of what happened, I can't make it my fault or make it make sense- because it wasn't, and it doesn't. I learned that there are good people, people who will listen and who won't judge and who won't hurt. I also learned that even good people have flaws. And that's ok.

I learned that the only way I'll be ok is if I work at it. Work on healing, on moving past all the CSA and SA and trauma, and on being the person I want to be, not who my family or anyone else wants me to be. I'll be starting the New Year off on a positive note- January 3rd I'm going to my first session with the new support group. I've gotten my books out again and am writing for healing, meditating on self-kindness, doing all the things I should have been doing all year long.

I have only one resolution for the New Year- and that is to leave the negative behind- negative emotions, people, events, etc.- and focus on the positive.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, and Letting Go

Well we had a really good Christmas here. I got to see my sister who's home from college, and spend time with my other sisters. We also spent time with my grandparents and my boyfriend's parents and brothers- I love his family, they are so kind and fun to be around. Christmases were a good memory for me. My dad would take on other jobs so we could have their definition of a "good" Christmas- and we kids always thought we did. But what really made the Christmases good (and I don't even know if my parents realize this) was the time we got to spend with family, the slow days of school break, the "cheeriness" of Christmas spirit that seemed to linger throughout the house- there was less fighting between my parents, they seemed lighter and happier. And that made things better for us. At Christmastime, I felt safer, didn't feel so much like I was "bad," I felt more like a normal kid.

Sometimes something will trigger and old memory and it's as if this record player goes off in my mind, telling me that I'm not good enough, I'm stupid, I'm weak, I'm a slut, I'm bad, useless, a horrible person, a bad friend, a bad girlfriend, a less than good mother, not good for anything... And I stop the record and think, No. No, you know better- you are good, you are OK. And then I find reasons why none of those things are true. Because, they aren't.

So, I have been thinking lately that...why don't I just let it go? Just kindof decide that none of it bothers me anymore. All of it was a long time ago now, so I should most definitely be over it. I should stop being so weak, stop dragging it out, just stop. Why is it that difficult, to just get over it?! It's so frustrating! I'm sure it's frustrating to other people, too, from the outside, when a friend or family member is sortof stuck- for no good reason- in a place that is painful and tiring, and can't seem to let it go. So that's what I'm trying to do, to let it go.

It's in the past, it's over, there is nothing I can change about any of it now and I shouldn't live so restricted because of what I've been through.

I'm going to the support group next Monday the 3rd. Starting to look forward to it, meeting up with other people who have similar stories, taking a positive step toward healing and being able to fully let things go back into the past where they belong.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Support Group, and Why It's Difficult to Talk About

So, I have "applied" to join a support group. Finally. I hope this works out. Mostly cause I do not think there are any more in nearby cities and I don't want to end up driving a million miles away. Now, once my new insurance forms come in (hopefully correct this time!) I'm going to see a new Dr, my records are in the process of being transferred over there. I seem to have gotten it a little more together :) I have also been looking at jobs. Nothing in the field I'm looking for yet, but I'm still looking.

I am a little nervous about the group, but also feeling a little like a weight has been lifted. Like a bit relieved that I'll be able to listen to other people who have been in similar situations and maybe eventually feel comfortable enough to get some things out, maybe find some understanding, maybe understand my own self a little more and start to feel comfortable in my own skin again. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

Going to a group reminds me of a discussion I have been following on Pandy's. About why it's difficult to talk about. So far people have said:
  • because of shame and/or guilt
  • because we don't want pity and that is a typical reaction
  • because putting it out loud makes it more real
  • because the words can be triggering
  • because we are afraid of what people will think of us
I think all of these are true for me. I guess at some point I'll feel ok enough in the group to talk, right? I think once the words are out, it's ok, it feels a little better (it has to, right?), it's just saying them that is difficult. But I don't even have to worry about this yet because I still have to be "accepted" to the group and go and find out whether I like it and feel safe there for talking.

Seems like, when you take things one day at a time, in little steps, it's much easier.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Homework: A Letter

I would like to tell you how I really feel. How much you hurt me, how much you screwed up my thinking. I grew up never feeling good enough, because I wasn't. I was always looking over my shoulder waiting to hear what I'd done wrong. And then there was what you did physically. Which I am so not ready to write about. But I think about it lots. Because of you, I struggle with anger- rage, even. And self esteem, and body image issues, and panic attacks, and flashbacks, and depression. Not all because of you, but in part because of how you are and what you did.

Sometimes I can still feel you. Have you any idea what that's like? I wish you did. I wish you could feel as miserable as I do sometimes, when I'm in the middle of a depressive episode and am thinking everyone would be better off without me, or when I'm in the middle of a flashback and I can actually feel you touching me, or when I wake up from a nightmare in a cold sweat, or even when I'm so angry my heart is pounding out of my chest and I'm digging my fingernails into my skin to keep from losing it. Well, I suppose you have felt the last one, haven't you?

There were good times, too, don't get me wrong. But I think knowing there were times when you were good makes it more difficult to deal with the times you weren't. Makes me doubt myself and my own goodness. Makes it difficult to justify how it wasn't my fault. Makes me realize why everyone took your side.

You are done controlling me. I'm a strong adult who can stand on her own two feet. I don't think I'm so very strong yet. But believe me I'm getting there. You got to win for a little while. Now it's my own turn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

CSA and Promiscuity

One experience of being SA'd as a child will teach you things. Several years of it will teach you lots of things and ingrain them into your ways of thinking and seeing the world. One of the biggest ways it's affected my life was by teaching me that my worth lies in sex. So young people who've grown up thinking this end up promiscuous pre-teens and teens and usually young adults, sometimes even older adults. We believe that our sexuality is what makes us important to people, what makes people care about us, stay around us, like us, and love us. And promiscuity has rewards (such as attention, superficial caring,
popularity, sometimes gifts or money) that reinforce these beliefs.

Unfortunately, this promiscuity we adopt as a pattern of meeting our needs (although it doesn't work), also puts us in many situations perfect for revictimization. We flirt a lot, we dress for people to look, we are sexual with people we don't know well, we drink and use drugs to numb ourselves- we create a recipe for sexual assault. And when a revictimization occurs, we know that we, ourselves, got into that situation. It wouldn't have happened if I had/hadn't... There's guilt, self blame, self loathing, shame, which is all terribly difficult to get rid of, even years later. After this, some of us jump right back  into our liftstyle- to prove it didn't bother us, we're "strong," we're not broken, or simply because it's the only way we know to find caring and love, even if it isn't real.

The important thing, I think, is to realize the fucked up patterns and ways of thinking. After that, we can attempt to disarm them. Which is a very difficult thing to do, but I'm sure it can be done ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sex and Love, Love and Sex...?

I apologize in advance if this is not very coherent. I'm working on only a couple hours of sleep and I'm still not feeling well so my writing skills aren't really in tip-top shape tonight. I thought this picture was appropriate because it's often how thinking about sex and love makes me feel- torn, broken, ruined, sad...

I'm confused about a whole mess of things and my views of some things, like sex and love, are maybe a little fucked up. Which is maybe normal given what's gone on in my life- I don't think you live through CSA and multiple SAs without some distorted views of how things like love and sex work, right?

I don't even really know completely what I do think about "making love" versus "having sex." Except that I know very much about one and hardly anything about the other. Sometimes I think that sex and love have little to do with each other; that there's nothing loving about sex itself- it's just something that you have to do to get to love. Because no one (at least, not anyone male) is going to love you unless you put out. So even though I don't see how sex is loving, you can't get to love without sex.

My brain says, this is ridiculous; not all men are the same, you know your views on this are all twisted. But another part of me also says don't be an idiot and ignore what experience has taught you- you think the way you do for a reason. ... I guess that's all I got on the sex versus love stuff tonight.

I think I am also confused about what I need right now to be ok. To get better, stop the bad habits and get healthy. Maybe I only need some guidance and reassurance. Maybe I need more. Maybe old habits are just getting in the way. Maybe I am just a stupid slut after all. Maybe I don't actually deserve to know the difference. Maybe the stupid support group was right and I am scared to let myself be "ok" because being in crisis mode is so familiar and I'm so used to it. I have no idea what to think tonight.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Warning- Time to Write About the Early Stuff

I might not "publish" this post. I might delete it. Or I might save it and do something with it later. But right now I'm feeling horribly sick and am a little drugged and just need to get some things out.

When I was little, I don't know how old because it was happening ever since I can remember, my dad would come into my room at night. Sometimes I would be asleep and I'd wake up when he started. Other times, I'd be awake, heart pounding, dreading the moment I heard his footsteps coming down the hallway. He would usually smell like a bar- like beer, liquor, and stale chips mixed with cigarette smoke. I would never move, I'd pretend I was sleeping. I was scared. He was angry sometimes after he'd been drinking; I heard him and my mother fighting countless times after he got home from the bar. I was also ashamed. I blamed (blame?) myself, told myself I was dirty, bad, should behave better...why else would he do it? His hand would slide under the sheets and up the nightgown. Always a nightgown. Is it weird that I even now so many years later I usually sleep in shorts or pants?

Usually it was just touching. Other times...other times it was "worse." "Worse" with quotes because...can you compare any of it in that way?

When he was done, he would leave. I don't think he ever said a word. Which I think is part of the guilt/self-blame I have. He never threatened, never told me not to tell. So why did I wait so long to do it?

I feel sick just writing about it. But I've been wanting to talk about it for a while now...with work, working with him, seeing him almost every day, the dreams of it have gotten a little worse (as the dreams of the other things have gotten a little less frequent), the flashbacks have started again. I think maybe it would be good to talk about it, to get some of it out. But I'm still ashamed. Even in an empty room, trying to say it out loud, I end up feeling like an idiot because I just can't do it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Fatherly" Protection

Now, I think it's safe to say that some of Freud's work is looked at by a fair number of contemporary psychs as a little... outdated? However, much of it has also formed the basis for many current psych theories and is still used today. One thing that Freud said, that I like, was "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." I'm not sure why I'm attached to that quote, but it stuck with me. I like the idea of letting children know that they'll be protected, kept safe from harm, that someone reliable and safe is watching out for them. Of course, Moms do this, but it's often Dads that are seen as the "family protectors" since they', and are usually stronger, bigger, better built for protecting, all that kind of stuff.

I was thinking, first, that maybe part of the reason I have issues feeling safe is because some sort of childhood need was not only not taken care of, but was broken by the person who was supposed to be protecting. (Does that make sense?) I think that when a parent hurts their child, clearly, the kid takes a pretty hard beating psychologically. Well, now I'm almost 25 and still having feeling safe issues. Time to get over that I suppose.

I was also thinking that, in my own childhood, there was a certain extent of protection from my father. However, it never felt like it was because he wanted to keep us safe from harm or anything like that. It was because we were his. And no one was going to mess with his girls.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If Your Injuries Could Speak...

...what would they say?

A healing exercise I found on Pandy's, which...I haven't really been visiting lately because it's been too triggering. I went today to look for some ideas for journaling exercises to get words out, and decided to give this one a try. It was titled "Letting Your Pain Speak," and that's sortof what I'm trying to do, to get it out, so it doesn't threaten me from inside anymore.
I don't really have "visible" injuries most days anymore, but if they could speak, what would they say?
She's scared.
She hurts, enough to take it out on herself.
She hates herself, her body, her memories.
She is so angry, but has no idea what to do with her anger; she only knows that she's scared to let it unleash the way anger has been unleashed on her.
She feels dirty and ashamed, for what's happened to her and for not making it stop.
She feels guilty for being such a burden to the few people who she let in, who are safe, who care; part of her wants to push them away so they just won't have to deal with her ups and downs anymore.
She thinks sometimes, maybe by destroying her body, she can destroy the negative things she believes about herself.
She has so much she wants to say, but she's scared to talk about it, but not talking is killing her.
She is not ok, everyday is a battle.
She can't take anymore disbelief, belittling, unreliability, insanity.
Her confidence is broken down, she doesn't see good or worth in herself.
She needs love and caring- to be shown love and caring, not told it; she's heard the words enough and words no longer mean anything.
So, if my injuries could speak, that's what they would say. Except a few of them, I think they would have screamed, not said.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Growing Up with An Alcoholic

So, I don't think of this as a "big deal," lots of people grow up in families with an alcoholic. I do think that this played a part, perhaps a small one, in the secret-keeping about the SA, and in my thinking about my own self, as well as serving as a basis for some behaviors that have become so ingrained they're part of me: my avoidance of anything that might cause disapproval from others, my need to clean up other people's messes, to take care of people, to be "perfect," not to mention other issues I sure as hell don't feel like getting into right now.

I found a wonderful way to sum up how many alcoholic families work- mine included (or, how it worked when he was drinking, though some of these still ring true)- a quote from author Stephanie Brown (from "The alcoholic family has been described broadly as one of chaos, inconsistency, unpredictability, unclear rules, arbitrariness, changing limits, arguments, repetitious and illogical thinking, and perhaps violence and incest." And another interesting thing I found was a proposed set of "rules" that people who grow up in alcoholic families learn (from author Claudia Black, in same article linked above): don't trust, don't feel, and don't talk. How true these were. I was dumb enough to break the first and the last, and it got me right into foster care. Which, maybe was what I needed.

Still struggling tonight...Thanksgiving coming up, a holiday with lots of family and lots of food- two problems! Well, the best way to keep peoples' eyes off your own plate and to seem happy and normal is to make yummy food to heap onto other peoples' plates, so that's what I'll be doing. Wednesday is going to be a busy night for me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eating, and Other Things Related

This eating thing is more difficult than I thought it would be. About two years ago, my boyfriend's cholesterol was borderline high so I got into some really good grocery shopping and cooking habits- whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, no frying, fewer processed foods, that sort of stuff. But I never really ate good myself; mostly because I really only eat one meal a day- dinner- and maybe a snack for lunch. So, in my effort to start eating "real" food for lunch (as opposed to only an apple or some crackers), I started getting some of that frozen crap, you know Healthy Choice or whatever, and it sucks. And my boyfriend has this whole spiel about how it's not even healthy because it's so processed and has so many preservatives in it. (Shhh, he's probably right.) Whatever, so I'm not eating it anymore. I think I'll start doing salad for lunch. Maybe with chicken? Definitely with some cheese.

Breakfast is a whole other can of beans...let's add one meal at a time, thank you, and not get paranoid of getting fat in the process. Adding lunch has proven difficult enough right now... Is it completely insane, the guilty feelings surrounding eating? Who feels guilt about eating, something we must do to survive and stay healthy? I have some theories about where it came from. Feeling like I don't even deserve to be healthy, feeling like I have to be "perfect" and eating too much might get me fat, and all of this was most definitely compounded in the foster home I was in. Sooooo many issues there, all of which have served to lower my self esteem, undermine my quest to be a normal person, and some of which have aided in rendering my eating into the "disordered" category for a long time now.

But, given my new found strength (not sure where I found it, probably where the missing socks go) I'm not going to give up on this eating thing. Or the self esteem thing. I think it would be ok to put on like 5 pounds. Clothes would still fit, and my doctor probably would stop yelling at me once a year when I go. Keep going, keep eating, and start taking vitamins, too. One day at a time. That's my plan. I think I'm going to be ok :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You SI

I found this tonight (on Pandy's) and thought it was a good resource. Exercises like this can be helpful when you're in pain and feeling the temptation to SI.

Questions to ask yourself before you SI (self-injure), and my answers, for tonight:

1. Why do I feel I need to hurt myself- what brought me to this point? I have to go back to work tomorrow, with my dad. When he's showing my something on the computer, I just think, "those are the same hands that...nope- I'm not letting myself go there, not now." The work itself isn't bad, being around him isn't bad, it's not letting myself remember that is the problem, because sometimes the memories just come flooding in, and there isn't much I can do to stop them.
Also, I need to talk. But I can't find my voice. So I stuff things inside. That's ok, I'm used to doing that, and later, I might journal about what's bugging me. Much easier to keep it to myself and look strong.

2. Have I been here before? What did I do to deal with it? How did I feel then? Yup, I've been here before. Sometimes I cut, then I feel relief- if only in the short-term. Other times, I write, I cry, I talk, I take a bubble bath. And those things don't feel as good as cutting in the short-term, but longer-term I do feel better because I didn't hurt myself, I dealt with things in a healthier way.
3. What have I done to ease the discomfort so far, and what else can I do that won't hurt me? Well...I found these questions, and I'm answering them...that is distracting at least. I could read Outlander, or go take a bubble bath, most likely I'll do both.
4. How do I feel right now? I hurt, and I'm angry.
5. How will I feel when I am hurting myself? If you have never self-injured, this probably sounds absurd. But if I go cut, I'll feel relief, adrenaline, a wave of calm, followed by a short period of numbness.
6. How will I feel after I hurt myself? How will I feel tomorrow morning? When it's over, I'll feel slightly numb, a little more relaxed, but disappointed in myself. In the morning, I'll wish I hadn't done it, I'll feel weak and ashamed.
7. Can I avoid this stressor, or deal with it better in the future? I think trying meditation or writing or drawing before it gets to the point that I feel tempted to hurt myself would be dealing with it much better.
8. Do I need to hurt myself? one ever needs to.
So...what I'm going to do is go take a hot bubble bath, with a nice mud mask facial, and then hop into a warm bed and read. Because I'm not SI'ing tonight. There are healthier ways to deal with my crap.
And work tomorrow won't be so bad...knowing that when my student loan bills come in, we'll be able to pay them, is good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Article Published

Yay my article "What Survivors of Sexual Assault Want you to Know" was "published" on Associated Content:

I'm a little excited. I even get paid for it :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Taken from my own sketchbook. Looks like my scanner is biting the dust....
I did some drawing and watercolor painting this evening. I had to, had to do something. The lonliness and stress were eating away at me and my hands and heart have been itching to be creative for a while now. Mostly gesture drawings, because it's quick, easy, emotional, and sometimes messy. I am so stressed/scared/nervous about the interview tomorrow that I actually have a sore throat. The associate director of the place doing the hiring- I have worked for them before- called me the other day and told me who would be there, what they would ask, what I should emphasize and what projects I should mention; she sounded like she wanted me to get the job, which made me feel good. So I made flashcards (what a nerd, I know) about what was important so that I can practice what I need to say and whatnot and I'm not sounding like a nervous idiot tomorrow. There's going to be four people in on the interview (two I know- a man and a woman, two I do not- both least I won't be the only female, right?) and it could last up to a half hour. That seems like a long time. I better find some more things to say.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thinking Positive

Can't really bring myself to write much except I'm trying to be positive. Things have been pretty rough right now, with final papers and relationship issues and anger problems. But I'm sick of being myself, so I'm trying really hard to think positively and change. I wish I was seeing my therapist sooner because I really need to talk. But I'm not, so I'll just have to deal with it. Maybe with drugs. Just kidding. Kindof.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Healing Exercise from Pandy's

Complete the sentences:
  • I am: so much more than I give myself credit for.
  • I want: to smile, and mean it.
  • I wish: so much didn't have to be a secret, because it's tiring.
  • I hate: that I don't hate him.
  • I miss: I can't actually finish this one.
  • I fear: nights, noises, intimacy.
  • I hear: the unkind words in my dreams. But also the kind ones, when I'm awake.
  • I wonder: if he's sorry.
  • I regret: not telling sooner.
  • I am not: what was done to me.
  • I dance: only when I am very drunk at friends' Christmas parties.
  • I sing: in the car.
  • I cry: at night, most nights, as quietly as I can.
  • I am not always: ok when I say I am.
  • I make with my hands: representations of how I see the world, but sometimes they are disturbing. And cookies, which are not.
  • I write: in my journal, almost every night.
  • I confuse: people's busyness with uncaring.
  • I need: to take better care of myself.
  • I should: think positive.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things I Would Ask for Help With, if I was Brave Enough

  • Saying what I need or want
  • Standing up for myself when something isn't right
  • Managing the anger
  • Taking things too seriously or thinking that when things are wrong, it's because of me
  • Having fun (I know, it's actually dumb that that is on this list)
  • Assuming that I'm not good enough

Perhaps I will print this out and bring it to therapy. So much going on right now with school and possibly a new job and my daughter's (lack of) potty's causing me so much anxiety that my body is freaking out in some really weird ways. My head feels like it's falling or something, for a second or so, every so often. More often when I'm tired or trying to focus visually on something. It's been going on for a few days; at first it was really scary, now it's just frustrating and making me feel sick. My eyes are also really weird. When I shut them, it feels like they are still open, like they are dry or something. And I haven't been sleeping at all. I tried to get a Dr's appointment, but she is out of town for the week and the receptionist said I'd have to go to the emergency room. Well, it's not an emergency really. I do want it taken care of, like, yesterday, but it's not an emergency. I had a mini-breakdown after that phone call. I want to feel better! I think (I hope) after my last paper is in a week from today, I'll be feeling fine. We'll see.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some Interesting Writings

Some interesting things I found relating to some issues I'm going through, and wanted to share with you guys:
That's all for now. Having a rough night I guess. Lots of stress with schoolwork, and when there's stress coming from everywhere it gets a little more difficult to control the bad memories. There is too much to do and not enough time, my dad is bringing up all kinds of horrible memories and feelings, and everything just hurts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Candid Talk with My Sister... oldest younger sister and I were talking today. It was just the two of us (and my daughter, who was off playing). We were talking about the aunt who is up, how when I first told about the CSA, she came up to be there for my dad- her brother- and how at one point in the few days after I told, she came into my room and started yelling at me about how I was ruining my family, did I understand what I was doing to my family, and on and on. When she was done, I was (of course) really upset, I went upstairs to my mom, crying, and told her what happened; my mom said she didn't know the aunt was yelling at me, she hadn't heard it from where she was in the house. Well, when my sister and I were talking today and this came up, she said (something like) "Yeah, I was so upset when she started yelling at you, I was crying and I went upstairs and told Mom." Um...excuse me, Mom said she didn't know about this incident. My sister said, "No, that's bullshit, I went up and told her about it, I was really upset." So not only did my mother not believe me about the CSA, but she let my aunt completely bully me at a time when I was already really vulnerable. Nice, thank you Mom. I'm kindof angry about this, though I know there's no point in being angry about it now. Actually, I think I'm more hurt than I am angry.

At another point in my conversation with my sister, I said that I didn't care who believed me about the "stuff with dad" (that is usually how it is referred to, or "the crap with Jessica"). And you know what she said? Quick background- she has never said she believes me; in fact after I told and my dad had to leave the house for a few months because of Child Protective Services or whatever, she was really mad at me for saying what I said and causing him to leave. She said that I shouldn't care who believes me because I know what happened. I was dumbfounded. I sorta expected...well, I'm not sure what I expected her to say, but it wasn't that. It really made me feel good, unjudged. It was so nice to have such a good conversation with her. Her and my middle younger sister (I have three younger sisters) and I have been talking a lot lately about family, about our parents, about ourselves, and it's been really nice.

Aside from all that, it's been a rough few days, but I'm doing what I have to do. Lots of homework to take my mind off things, finding new ways to keep myself grounded when I feel The Panic setting in.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oops, I Forgot One

In my last blog entry, I forgot to list a way that I coped- still cope. A big way. I'm a super-organized control freak. Everything has a place and belongs there all the time. Please don't move it. If you do end up moving it, please dust underneath where it was. Then put it back exactly the way you found it. And as far as being a control freak... if we have plans for the weekend, I will write them down in my planner in pen. And if I have to change out. And please don't make things last minute, or I might cry. I'm just kidding- I'm not that bad.

But it is bad enough to be annoying. Perhaps moreso for people around me than for me- but make no mistake, I get annoyed by it, too. It's tiring needing everything clean and neat and in it's place and going-as-planned.
So where does this come from? Hmmm... Fear of failing somehow- things have to be perfect, maybe to keep up the facade? Fear of chaos and things being out of control- growing up, there were times when things were out of control in a real sense; this is probably true in most families where one parent has alcohol issues. (Notice I did not say where one parent is an alcoholic right there, have issues with that word.) Fear of not being in control- I had control taken away from me in a lot of ways, very bad and hurtful ways, and now I have to be in control or I feel like things are slipping away and I get panicky.
Just another thing to work on, I suppose.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing Exercise: Honoring the Ways You Coped

How did I cope with the CSA? Lots of ways, really, depending on the stage of my life I was in.

I forgot or minimized lots of what happened, and made up rationalizations for the rest. I know now that this was to protect my younger self from being completely destroyed by what was going on. I still do this sometimes- it wasn't that bad, it could have been worse, it was me, he did it because I was bad...and so on.

When I started to really "know" that things had happened, with memories, one way in which I coped was by presenting a facade to the outside world. I was a "good" kid, got mostly A's in school, took advanced classes, joined clubs, helped people, worked, went to church... pleased everyone I could and acted like things were perfect. While on the inside, I was screaming for help.

Another way I coped was by hurting myself. I cut myself, not really deep enough to leave scars, but enough to bleed, enough to feel. I became hypervigilant about my eating and often skipped meals. I became quite promiscuous, using sex and sexuality to meet lots of needs.

One of the healthier ways that I coped was tapping into my creativity. I wrote a lot of poetry, and created a lot of art. Painting, drawing, sketching, inking, sculpture, anything that I could use to express what was going on inside.

When I left foster care at the age of 19, I got pregnant soon after and wanted to be a "part of the family" again. But how could I do this with everything that had happened? I put things in a closet in my mind, and ignored it all. I guess this also goes along with that facade I was presenting to the outside. From the outside, everything was ok- I was a good mom, in school, doing well; but it became impossible to keep ignoring things. Which is why I returned to therapy earlier this year.

Currently, I am coping by reminding myself that I am ok, that I am doing good things to work through this, by talking to the people I trust. I intend to go back to being creative, just have to force myself to find the time and get over my "it's been so long!" fears. Yes, sometimes I still skip meals- for the control, the pain, or to punish myself- and yes, sometimes I think about cutting, sometimes I just sit and cry. But for the most part, I have found much healthier ways to cope- and to go beyond coping to dealing with it, so that I can get better.

Honoring the ways I coped... Well, I think I have already done this. I'm not really ashamed of anything I did to cope anymore. I survived some horrible things, and I made it through. I'm here. I used whatever I could and did the only things I knew to make it here. And I can honor that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's a Long Road, but I Won't Stop Walking

What do you do when you've been through hell? When you aren't sure how to cope and you end up hurting yourself and those around you?
Or when you feel stuck in the dark places of your mind, not sure you're strong enough to climb out?
I'm learning that you just keep going. Because none of it is the end of the world. You can't undo things that you've been through, but you can learn how to live with them and not let them define you. You can't take away things you've done, but you can say you're sorry to the people you hurt, forgive yourself, and do better.
Change is difficult, and scary. But I think it's finally hit me that I want to change. I don't want to dwell on the bad things, or hurt people I care about, or feel trapped in my own head. I know this sounds pretty screwed up, but I think that somewhere I felt that as long as I had issues, someone would care. So I didn't try as hard as I could to get better. But the people who really care, will still care when I'm "ok." It's comfortable here in a way, because it's what I'm used to. But I just can't do it anymore; it isn't what I want for myself, for my daughter, or for my boyfriend.
The past couple days have been killer, but I'm going to keep going forward. Because that's the only thing to do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Exercise: The Effects of the CSA...

...on my self-worth:
  • I am worthless, or close to it
  • I twist my self-worth to depend on the people I care about, so the smallest, most unintentional slight is taken with too much sensitivity
  • I don't deserve to be cared for
  • I am dirty, and bad
  • I am at fault

...on my relationships:

  • I trust people I shouldn't too quickly, and people I should, not enough
  • I am emotionally needy, seeking constant reassurance that someone cares
  • At the same time, I push people away, testing their caring
  • Relationships with my parents are superficial
  • Relationships with my sisters...were strained; now, they are better, but I am still unsure about how they really feel toward me

...on my views about sex:

  • Sex is easily used for power
  • Sex is easily made to be about control
  • Sex is painful and causes guilt
  • Sex is a way to make people want and/or need you, to make them want to be close to you

...on my life in positive ways- what strengths have I gained?

  • For all my emotional neediness, I am pretty self-sufficient- I know how to run a household and take care of a family
  • I am compassionate and empathetic
  • I am not broken, even with all I have been through- this shows me that I am strong
  • I know how not to parent

Writing Exercise from: Bass, E. and Davis, L. (2008). The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of CSA. (4th Ed.). New York: Harper.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Dream

When I was little, I used to have this recurring nightmare. I would be in my room, and I knew that "Superman" (this is what I called him, but he was blond) was coming to find me. Frantically, I would hide under my bed, always behind my box of barbie stuff. And then he would come into my room and start looking, but I would always wake up before he found me.
I haven't had this dream in a long time. Now they are pretty much either completely weird (for example, my sisters are putting pet turtles in plastic shopping bags to carry them, and I am freaking out that the turtles can't breathe), or terrifying.
And...I had planned to write more, but that's about all I can handle right now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Anger...I Do Not Like It

I kinda wish I could describe how I've been feeling since I started this lovely "healing journey." It's difficult to name all the feelings going on in my head...or heart I suppose.

But there is a lot of anger. Which is maybe why I am depressed? I'm sure we've all heard the old saying that anger turned inward is depression. I am angry at everyone who hurt me, everyone who didn't believe me, everyone who turned their back. I am even angry at myself. But I am not willing to- nor do I think it would help anything if I did- rock the boat *again* by bringing all this up to the people I am angry with. So my struggle is, how do I stop turning this anger inward? How do I let it out or diffuse it in a "healthy" way? Is this possible? It must be posisble.

Maybe this is something I should have talked with my therapist about today ;) Instead, we talked about how I need to not get to stressed about the little things- she said to take things one day at a time (which another smart person also suggested) and stop getting so bugged out at the big picture things because they can always be broken down into one-day-at-a-time steps.

Yesterday I put in an application for a research specialist position in West Virginia. (I am currently in NY). I meet the qualifications (and even exceed some) and it's in the field I want to be in. They don't have a current opening, they were just taking applications to start a pool for expected future openings. So, I put in an application. After initially being super stressed about it, I am a little excited and hoping they do end up with an opening in the near future. I think it might be a good opportunity, a good change. A chance to be a little farther away from my family, to not have to deal with them so often, to not have them RIGHT there to be involved in everything.... yes, there are so many reasons why a good job in another state could be good. But I'm also stressing about it quite a bit. I don't know why- there's no opening yet, I might not even get accepted, if I do I don't have to take it, and if I take it it's not forever, written in stone. So basically I'm just trying to relax about it and wait calmly.

Still depressed, still no appointment with a psychaitrist. We are playing phone tag.... But I am hoping to get in soon because I have been so blah. I want to scream sometimes- someone please, please help me. I want to feel better, want to feel normal, want to GIVE UP on this "journey" and go back to ignoring everything. Because that was easier, safer, more comfortable.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Letter

My heart aches and my mind burns, but I am not going to break. You will not win. You will no longer control me. My body is numb and my soul is empty, but I will be ok. You haven't damaged me forever. You are a poison, slowly taking the beauty and life from whoever you wish- but not me, not anymore. I am standing up, putting back what pieces I can, healing the searing pain you caused. I am still afraid- to trust, to ask for help, to sleep, to be less than perfect. But I'm learning not to be so scared. It's going to take a long time to undo what you did...but I will do it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Skillet (the band, not what you cook in)

Alright...I'm not a fan of "Christian" music. I find most of it preachy and...annoying? But Skillet's "Monster" has definitely made it's way into the mainstream secular music scene. I love that song, because I can relate so well to it. I think most people can...maybe we all have a "secret side." So this is actually the only song of their's I have heard.

Until today. There was a link on Pandy's (can you tell I go there often- it's nice not to feel so alone) to their song "It's Not Me It's You." Like "Monster," you can't tell they're a Christian group from this song. But this song is I guess about putting the blame where it belongs- "I'm no longer choking/from the pain you put me through/and now I know that/it's not me it's you- you/it's not me it's you/always has been you." I'm not saying let's blame everyone for all our problems, but let's blame the people who hurt us for their actions, instead of blaming ourselves. For people who have been through CSA or SA or RA or any kind of A, that's a big struggle. So I am kindof glad I found this song...or that someone else found it and shared it ;)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fathers' Day

Fathers' Day is kindof a difficult "holiday" for me. In a lot of ways, my dad was a good dad. We were always fed and clothed, had a roof over our heads, and have plenty of good things to remember. This might sound horrible but sometimes I try really hard NOT to think about the ways he was a good dad, because it sortof makes me blame myself for the ways he was not. I think, "he has so many good qualities, it must have been something about me." In my mind, I know it wasn't my fault, but in my heart, it's a bit more difficult to "get it."

So this Fathers' Day I have decided to try to think about only the good things and not the bad, as far is my dad is concerned. And to pretty much just try to make the day about my daughter's dad and other dads I happen to know who are great, even though they might not be my dad.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thought This Quote Was...Right

Saw this quote today on Pandy's (which is an online forum for survivors of sexual abuse and assault) and I thought it was fitting:

"You'll hold onto this forever. Guilt gives you the illusion of control in an uncontrollable situation. The 'if I had done this or that' creates an escape. It stops this being unanswerable. A random event. Except, it's already happened, and the truth is there is nothing you can do. And you're going to have to work out some way of living with that for the rest of your life. Whatever happens. Or it will destroy you."

Maybe that is why we blame ourselves - even when we know in our minds that it wasn't actually our fault, even though we would never blame another survivor for her own experience - because somehow it allows us to keep from admitting that we were not in control. No matter why we do it, it IS going to destroy us if we don't find a way to make ourselves believe that it was not our fault.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Questions With No Answers

Some are directed at specific people, others, to no one in particular.
Why did you hurt me?
What did I do to deserve the things that were done to me?
I know you noticed, why didn't you make it stop?
Why wasn't anyone there when I needed them?
Are you sorry?
Do you live with any pain for what you did?
Why am I still suffering for others' actions?
Why do I feel such pain, guilt, and shame for things other people did?
Why did it take me so long to tell?
Would it have been better for me to keep my mouth shut and deal with it?
How long am I going to have to spend in therapy to feel ok again?
Will I EVER feel completely ok?
Do I even deserve to feel ok?
Do I deserve the wonderful support and kindness from the few that I trust?
Why didn't God stop it? Why did God let it start?
There are more...but I don't have the energy to type anymore tonight. It's been a rough day, I'm in pain, and my energy is completely sapped.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yes, I'm Angry

Thinking last night and this morning about my family. I have a big family, lots of aunts and uncles, lots of cousins. A few days after I told about the abuse, I went to a psychaitric hospital (due to self-injury and suicidal thoughts). I was there for about three months, in part because the state was trying to figure out where to put me- family? Foster care? Group home? Two days before Christmas I was put into foster care with a family who I didn't know, in a place I wasn't familiar with. Granted, I was 16 and old enough to handle this, but I was a little scared. It's a little upsetting, a little sad, that I couldn't have lived with any of my aunts or uncles. I don't think anyone offered, I don't think any of them tried to say "Hey, wait a minute, she might be telling the truth." There was one aunt and uncle close to us that was being considered, but they didn't want me there because they "didn't want me telling lies about them, too." When I was in foster care, and in the few years after, I sent holiday cards every year, with nice notes and little updates. Did I get any in return? I think I got one from my grandmother. That's it.

I felt shut out, I felt like no one cared, I felt alone, I felt that everyone had believed my dad's story (that I was crazy or had been "brainwashed" into thinking up the abuse, or that I was just coldhearted and wanted to ruin the family), and I felt angry. Last Christmas and the one before, I did get Christmas cards from some of them. But it still hurts that for a few years, no one was there.

I'm working on letting go of this, what was anyone supposed to do, really? And recently, thanks to facebook, I've sortof gotten back in touch with a few aunts and uncles. And cousins, who've been more than kind. I'm thankful for this.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Happy Things

This morning I woke up to find my daughter not in my bed. This was a pleasant surprise, as she's been there every morning lately when we wake up. Then, John was at the door- "You have to come out here and see this now!" with a smirk. I followed him to the kitchen, and there on the floor, wrapped in blankets, her hair a mess over her pillow, was the kiddo. We giggled and as I woke her up, I said, "I'm so proud of you for not sleeping in Mommy's room! But why didn't you sleep on the couch? Why the kitchen floor?" Her eyes still closed, she said listlessly, "'Cause...I always do." And of course that made us giggle a little more.

I think it's these little moments that keep me from losing it, that keep me from letting the pain eat me up. There is a lot of good in my life right now. That doesn't take away the bad things that happened, but it does make it a little easier to bear.

I had therapy this morning. It's always a little difficult, facing issues and things you've done and things that have been done to you. Things have gotten a little bit more difficult since I started going- more panic attacks at night, more difficulty concentrating during the day. But at the same time, it feels good to know that I'm trying to move forward. We talked about accepting the possibility that my parents will not acknowledge what happened, or ever apologize. Accepting it doesn't mean agreeing or saying it's ok, just realizing that it won't change, and it's probably self-destructive to keep holding on to the hope that it will. So that is where I'm at; it's a little difficult to actually realize this- that it is highly, highly unlikely they will ever change, but probably necessary. I've been hanging onto that hope for the past 8 years, and it hasn't gotten me anything. Perhaps it's time to let it go.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How do you feel when...

I recently saw a topic thread on Pandy's asking how you feel when people talk about your abuser(s). I guess this depends on what they are saying ;) Because I am geographically close to mine (my father), and because people in general think he is a "good" person, I get to hear a LOT of good things about him. Very few people know what happened (years of CSA), and those who do are kind enough not to bring him up much, and not to speak of him as if he were a saint. Everyone else, though, just thinks he is so great. It KILLS me. It makes me feel angry, sad, disgusted, guilty, and it's hard not to think about the abuse when I'm thinking about him.

Of course, there were good times. Lots of them. And maybe in general he is a "good" person. I am not really sure, I am still looking at my definition of this. But he can do bad things, he can cause so much hurt. It's been almost eight years since I moved out and it is STILL hurting, a lot. So when people talk about him as if he is a great person, it's upsetting and it hurts. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I want everyone to hate him, I would just like it if people wouldn't speak so highly of him. But, since I'm not going to go around telling everyone what he did, I believe I'll just have to deal with it. How?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wow, I'm a Blogger (Some Background)

So this is my blog. It's pretty neat, right? Basically, I will use this as a sort of vent as I'm going through this totally awesome "healing process." (Yes, the totally awesome was sarcastic.)

Background: I started therapy in the beginning of May to deal with some issues I'd been carefully trying NOT to deal with for some years. This includes CSA, and later SA, self-injury and eating issues, depression, body image issues (obviously), panic attacks, flashbacks and body memories (actually, I didn't even know these had a name until finding Pandora's Aquarium online while trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me), nightmares, insomnia, and general irritability.

I am really lucky that my bf was (and still is) so supportive and caring. I'm also lucky to have a kind cousin who is so encouraging. Without my boyfriend, without the few wonderful family members I have (I have lots of family, they're just not all wonderful), without my best friend (who is also my unbiological sister, and who I love dearly), and a few other nice people I am lucky enough to know, I would just not be able to handle this "let's go back and look at the trauma" stuff.

Well I think I'm starting to ramble. So that's it for now. More later ;)