Archives for the month of: January, 2013

I’m crabby today. It’s a good day, I slept pretty well other than the nightmares, and I think I started the day in a pretty good place in spite of them. Still, I’m irritable. Hormones? Maybe. Too be fair, though, I have something ugly on my mind a lot since December and it hurts me to think about, but I am no longer allowing myself to ‘avert my eyes’ from the mess in my head.


There. I said it. It’s a word. It has meaning, and frankly the meaning is not up for re-definition.  It should be easy to understand, easy to define – and easy to accept how common it actually is, and have the decency to be appalled and wonder why we allow it to go on.  I am angry about all the damned arguing about ‘the nature of rape’ by people trying to save a buck on legislation intended to curb it, or provide needed resources to victims, or worse still by rapists trying to rationalize or excuse their particular variety of sexual transgression. I’m so sorry (sarcasm) it’ll be expensive to help all those victims – how about fixing that? How about fewer victims? How about ‘rape is not ok‘?

Sure, I’m a rape victim, too. I’m sorry to sound so commonplace about it, but if you’re shocked by that, perhaps it would be a good idea to find out just how common it is – even in the U.S.  It’s probably easier on the heart to contemplate the overwhelming horror of rape used as a war strategy to terrify and weaken a population, rather than to consider the prevalence of military sexual trauma – rapes committed by soldiers against other soldiers, or marital rape (yes, it’s real, and no it isn’t ok), or child sexual abuse, or… yeah. All rape. None of it acceptable. Funny thing – in the abstract it’s pretty hard to find people to support and condone rape. Go ahead, ask around, I’ll wait…

I haven’t found a lot of people interested in going on the record as ‘pro rape’, myself… but as a rape victim, it gets weird really fast as soon as the reporting of a rape begins.  In my experience, it actually doesn’t matter how heinous the rape, or how violent, or how ‘obvious’ or how vigorously resisted… the hideous vicious questions come fast, questioning whether it happened, maybe it was a misunderstanding, was it consensual? Then the reminders that accusations could ruin the life of the rapist… Do rapists get anything but support?  Not very many rapists go to jail for it, or so it seems to me.

It’s on my mind because I am a victim of military sexual trauma, and I am being encouraged to submit documentation for disability compensation.  It is surprisingly difficult, and extremely painful, to have to put the mental energy into the paperwork, to have to consider it, event by event, in detail – names, places, timelines, details. The pain is enormous and I feel very alone, even though I know rape is so common I could likely just walk up to any woman I see and find myself in conversation with another victim.  I don’t want to share the pain.  I don’t want to taint my relationships with the details, or put poison into the consciousness of my loved ones.  But I have to think about it, and I have to write about it, and today it is making me very cross with the world…

I love sex, personally, and I’ve managed to remain very sex positive in spite of having a rape history, but balancing my libido, my every day sexual needs, with these feelings about this topic… I feel confused and vulnerable, and I don’t know with whom or how to talk about that.  There are a lot of people who suffer from the odd notion that women who love sex can’t be raped, or are somehow less entitled to be protected or offered support when it happens to them. There have been a lot of times in my life when it was made pretty clear to me that because I enjoy sex, value physical contact with my partners, take pleasure in pleasure, that I’m less deserving of consideration if I’m raped, or less trustworthy if I report it.  The message often seems to be ‘why didn’t you just like it’? As if there’s no difference, or as if my will and desire and consent don’t really matter. Or perhaps I should just cut the rapist some slack, since I’m ‘used equipment’ – after all, what did I lose?  I want to shout “my body is mine, I get to choose!”, but I know damned well no one is listening, and plenty of people making actual laws don’t even believe that my body should be my own to control. Read the news. I feel angry and powerless every time I think about being raped.  I hate admitting that; it feels like the rapists won.

Sometimes it just all feels like too much to bear.  I feel like I ‘just want to go home’ – like a child, going to a safe place in Daddy’s arms, during a scary storm… but there is no ‘home’ to go to that escapes this, and there are no ‘safe places’, and there is very little understanding in the world about this sort of crime, the effect it has, and the message we send to women when it is tolerated or excused.  So… I have something ugly on my mind, and it hurts, but I guess it is time to really deal with it, after all these years.  I teeter on the edge of just turning away from it, every day, and pretending it isn’t real, but that hasn’t worked so far, I’m still broken.

I need to paint… but I am terrified that any of this might hit canvas and make it somehow more visceral, more real. I actually don’t want to share this pain… it seems cruel. I am afraid, too, of what I reveal to myself… it shames me in some small way. Art should not be cowardly.

I’m hurting. I don’t mean to. Tomorrow is the last day that the apartment we’ve moved from is ‘ours’.  Although we haven’t actually lived there since before Thanksgiving, it hurts so much to let it go.  I feel, too, a huge weight of guilt on my heart, feeling perhaps that I diminish my lovely new home, or the love of my partners in the home we share, or the loveliness all around me in this new place, by aching with longing to continue to hold on to this apartment.  I’m not unhappy to move out, either.  It isn’t actually ideal. It isn’t actually perfect, hell, as it turns out – it isn’t actually habitable in any healthy way (mold issues).  So… moving, and moving on. I’m still hurting. I love the home we live in now. I love my partners and the life we’re building together. I’m excited about the future… and yet, I’m hurting. I don’t want to feel this hurt.  Why it hurts isn’t even a mystery to me.  This apartment has been my first experience with long term happiness and stability, my first experience with an everyday feeling of utter safety in my romantic relationships, and my first experience with living in a home that really ‘feels like me’…surrounded by my art, tastefully and carefully hung, and my lovely porcelain, and glass paperweights, listening to music I love every day, seeing the books I like on the shelves, and exquisite objects on display from far flung journeys…hours of happy conversation about dishes and curtains and furniture… leisurely mornings in the arms of Love… I have loved that home, and loved it with my whole heart, and allowed it to be my entire experience of ‘home’ for awhile.  Yes, it is hurting me to let it go. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that it would?

There is a new home in my present, and in my future, too, perhaps. New choices to make about how it looks, and feels, and what goes where. A new life, new potential, new experiences all awaiting me as each step of each day takes me just a little farther down life’s path.  I can do this, even do it happily, but damn – yes, I am grieving what felt so good there, in the insecure moments transitioning from one to the other. I don’t know how to feel differently; I’m happy to have had the wonders of life in that apartment, rich with love and laughter, in the arms of a Love indescribably precious to me, finally starting to really heal from some of life’s bigger hurts. Healing doesn’t stop because of an address change. Love doesn’t end because I’m in a new zip code. And hurting stops, eventually, in any place and time where there is healing and love. I know I can count on that. It will all be ok…but…

Tonight I will go to the apartment, finish the work remaining there and say good-bye to what is already gone. I will cry. Maybe a lot. Then I will go home to life and love and the future at home with my dearest Loves, and all the family and warmth and healing and love that I need to be ‘at home’, again.

I am having a very good day, so far. I feel well-rested, balanced, and happy. Contented. I slept last night.  I often wonder if this particular feeling is something that some large population of ‘other people’ take for granted because it is their everyday state of affairs… or if that is a notion based on wishful thinking and a lifetime of thinking ‘happily ever after’ is a reasonable goal? Today, and for some weeks now, I am not striving for, struggling with, or stressing over ‘happily ever after’. I’m working on skill building instead, and learning to accept and value my experience – all of it.

I sometimes deliver myself some pretty terrible hurts because any moment is potentially quite horrible (or to be fair, quite wonderful, or quite dull…), and while I generally expect to survive, whatever it is, I rarely allow myself to build expectations of wonder or delight.  When I have allowed myself the thrill of merry anticipation of a great experience, it seems I am often just destroyed by hurt and frustration when some little thing goes awry. I create a horrific see-saw of expectations and reactions based on a huge variety of potential experiences. I hurt with it. I have cried for hours bereft of a pleasure there was no guarantee of having in the first place. It seems pretty silly, from my vantage point of this last however-many-days… letting go of guessing at the potential outcomes, letting go of fearful what-ifs, letting go of implicit expectations of the extraordinary, delightful, or disastrous… and just being in the moment, and hearing and feeling and seeing. I wonder if I will get good at this? I still have to commit to it very specifically moment by moment, day by day, for now. I’m stunned at how much is going on around me that I routinely miss, or misunderstand.

Tangentially, I’ve begun walking to work regularly, again. It feels good to get back on track with my health and fitness goals. I had been commuting to work on foot regularly as part of my fitness routine, until a fall in the summer of 2011 injured me badly enough that walking any distance was both difficult and painful. Sometimes walking still is painful, but so far the 2.2 miles from home to work in the morning, when my ankle is rested and strongest, is comfortable and allows me to hit my 5-miles-a-day goal pretty easily.  I’m no fitness guru, I just want to be as healthy as I can be, and live a long, fit life. I’ve got some work to do, but I think calorie management, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise are good places to start.  I also find when I am walking my mind is free to wander in a very productive way on complex subjects, artistic whimsy, or highly emotional topics that need my attention. Walking meditation is a good fit for me as a being. Even when I’m agitated or very angry, walking is the thing I feel driven to do more than any other thing, and although I suspect that is more about ‘walking away’ or even ‘running away from home’ sensations than a healthy break from conflict or stress, I am generally able to put that time to good use gaining perspective and balance. Adding strength training back to my routine is next…maybe this weekend? I have an idea of ‘beauty’ in my head (that seems healthy and achievable) and I’d like to be that while I am still young enough to do so…which is to say, before I’m old enough to want to embrace a new idea of beauty for the woman I will become, then.

It was a quiet morning, this morning, and the feeling of safety and contentment linger. I hope it lasts the day, and if it doesn’t I will try to remember that because it exists right now, it has existed and will exist again. I’m enjoying the experience of feeling happy, and contented – and feeling safe to have those feelings.  I haven’t always had that feeling of emotional safety, and it is a wonderful feeling. It’s the relationships that matter on that one, but the relationship I have with myself didn’t offer much potential for a feeling of emotional safety until recently. Working on having a better relationship with myself, understanding myself, and accepting myself seem to be paying off in ways I didn’t expect – like smiling all through an ordinary Wednesday morning, even though there’s nothing spectacularly awesome going on. Right now it feels easy to treat people around me well, including me.

I had a great evening, yesterday, but a poor night’s sleep last night. I woke restless and anxious in the wee hours, and couldn’t put it to rest with meditation, yoga, or having a quiet contemplative smoke in the dark. I knew what I was anxious about – I’m just about finished moving, but there’s just a thing or two more to do, and I feel a noticeable and probably appropriate ‘performance pressure’ to manage the remaining tasks well.  Even at 49, I sometimes find myself inappropriately ‘eager to please’, like the small girl ‘helping Daddy with projects’ that I once was.  Is that ‘something to fix’? I often wonder; I’m rarely certain.

I’m tired. Four hours or so of sleep isn’t enough for my best emotional balance or cognition. I already know this about me. I want to learn to deliver my very best in spite of limited sleep – because sleep disturbances, nightmares, and insomnia are all part of my experience on a pretty frequent basis. I want to master treating people well, even on bad days.

Now I have MC Frontalot ‘Your Friend Wil’ stuck in my head.  I’m not surprised. I find hope for the world in the existence of Wheaton’s Law, in general.  I find dismay in the number of news articles published every single day wherein the subject matter is really not much more, or less, than someone being a dick to someone else. Seriously. What’s up with people being mean, or inconsiderate, the most common definition of ‘being a dick’, and what makes any one of us think it is ok when we, ourselves, are being dicks? I had considered linking to some of those very articles… discovered so many exceptional examples that doing so quickly looked like some sort of thesis research and less a blog post.  I challenge you to go directly to your favorite news source of a current events type and not find at least one article on the ‘front page’ that details someone being inconsiderate, rude, abrasive, insensitive, or mean at the heart of it.

I’m tired, I haven’t had enough sleep – but I am resolved to get through today without being a dick to anyone, especially my loving partners. I mean – wow – how ungracious would it be of me to celebrate the wonderful evening we shared last night by being a dick today? So, ok… back to that ‘mindfulness’ thing, I’m guessing.

I’m rambling, and feeling vaguely that I ‘owe you an apology’ for it… my focus and cognition suffer when I’m fatigued. I guess that’s true for everyone, but I know that with my starting point today I will want to be extra cautious with my behavior later, when I’m more tired, or risk irrational mood swings or tantrums. I wish I understood more clearly which pieces of my puzzle are my brain injury, my hormones, or my PTSD…although…I don’t know that the information, if I had it, would change my experience.

I really want to get completely settled in to my new home and paint. I am struggling to express certain things – to myself, I suppose, more than to someone else, and I know I hear me so clearly in texture and color.

I’ve been told by more than one professional of one sort or another that I would “probably calm down after menopause”.  Glossing over how that observation always seemed to trivialize my experience, diminish me as a free will adult, and offer little present-day hope, it was also something I’ve held onto for a long time… it will be all be better…eventually… like magic… without effort.  Just a simple biological, chemical change in my reproductive functionality and I will be well and whole and somehow saner and more balanced.  Let’s be real – that sounds too good to be true, and even if it is true, wouldn’t it be a ludicrous failure to manage my affairs in an adult way to simply sit around throwing random tantrums and waiting for menopause? My hormones and I have put my loved ones through hell, more than once.  I’ve even dared to say, out loud, that I am ‘not high maintenance’ and even ‘not especially moody’. Wow.

I am… high maintenance, and then some. In spite of myself.  I’m moody, too – especially moody, and rather often.  I have indulged in tantrums that go so far beyond what could be considered acceptable from an adult I’m lucky I still get invited to parties by proper grown ups.  I can do better than this – can’t I?  I’ve read my share of ‘self help’ books, and mostly they haven’t done much in the way of help, because… ready for it? They’re just books. In spite of the lack of action on their part, and mine, a few outstanding books have stood out… and I go back to them again and again, to learn more than the words on the pages. Brain injury, PTSD, the slow march toward menopause… I still choose my actions, don’t I? Well, I guess I don’t always – but it sounds like a good starting point. (Do I get a ‘starting point’ at 49? Extraordinary!)

So, thoughtful, mindful, well-chosen action, considerate of my loved ones and associates and fellow-man – and doing my best to ‘take care of me’, too… it seems a good approach. It’s easy on paper – that’s what makes the ‘self help’ industry thrive. The ideas are so simple, so effective – and like fad diets, they probably all work.  If I do them.  That reminds me, a healthy diet, a good fitness plan, managed and adequate rest, harmonious healthy relationships all add up to thriving, don’t they? Does it even take money? Is a book even necessary? (Not always; this weekend I enjoyed the opportunity to share how helpful regular baths in Epsom salts have been for stabilizing my mood and helping me sleep. A man in line with me at the store could not resist asking what I needed all the Epsom salts for, and it was clearly on the order of a lifeline to hear something as simple and inexpensive as Epsom salts have given me so much relief; it was clear from our exchange that both he and his wife are suffering through her change.)

I did my best this weekend to choose my words and actions well, to nurture my loved ones and not take their experiences personally, to take care of my own basic needs, and where I could to assist my loved ones in meeting theirs, too. It was a pretty great weekend.  I suspect it makes for a dull blog post, but I feel pretty good today.

Happy Monday! Being nicer today feels easy…