Fearless Flowers

Fearless Flowers

Today feels strange. Mindfulness feels difficult. My heart wants to run away from home. I don’t mean to hurt inside. I don’t mean to ‘be bad’ or be broken or be less than I could be or to hurt unexpectedly over something good…but sometimes I do. Today, I am feeling incredibly grateful for the new trend toward providing ‘trigger’ warnings. I see more bloggers doing it, more documentaries that have them, more popping up here and there all the time. It’s a huge value add for survivors of trauma who still struggle with their pain in their ‘now’. I’d love to see more trigger warnings, because it can provoke hours or days (or weeks) of pain and emotional turmoil to be taken by surprise by a triggering event, or sound, or phrase, or experience…and if you are fortunate to have the emotional resilience that you just don’t understand what I’m talking about, please take a moment to appreciate that.  Me personally, I have several triggers that are pretty close to ‘everyday things’ – difficult to avoid, harder than hell to explain to someone else when it comes up. Some examples? Sure, why not – some of my triggers include the sound of footsteps on a hardwood floor outside a closed door, the sound of a loud aggressive knocking at the door, being awakened from sleep by a question, the sound of a woman screaming or crying, the sound of yelling from another house during the wee hours of the night, being prevented by another person from leaving a room, a hand being raised suddenly seen out of the corner of my eye, being asked to take off my glasses, excited unleashed dogs, being mocked when I am angry, seeing images of domestic violence, seeing images of torture… those are just the obvious things that occur to me without taking time to consider the question. There are more. I imagine it must be very tough to live with me.

People keep writing about rape. It keeps hurting me. Every time I read another article it re-awakens old pain, throws me off balance, leaves me vulnerable to a level of emotional volatility that carries a loss of dignity I can’t adequately describe, and pollutes my experience with fear. Fear sucks. Little girls are born fearless. The world, society, our cultures, our religions, and some very bad people take turns teaching them fear, by hurting them, by demeaning them, by continuing to infantilize them well into adulthood, by robbing them of free will, by reducing them as beings to physical bodies and demanding a standard of perfection that isn’t achievable, and by sending a pretty steady message that rape is their own fault.  By the time I was ‘an adult’ I wasn’t even sure any more what ‘consent’ meant for me, since it didn’t seem to me that saying yes or no was actually up to me at all, much of the time.  I definitely got the explicit message that nice girls don’t get raped, that choosing to be sexually active means anyone can have some, and that if I think I got raped I must have chosen the wrong clothes – and by the way, how can I put that man’s future at risk with such an allegation? That’s just not ok. Hell, I get angry thinking about it, and feel like I should apologize for that. It gets ugly in here, sometimes.

I keep dragging my feet on doing the paperwork for my MST claim… ‘MST’. What a relief! Conveniently I don’t have to say I was raped in the military! I can fall back on a politely sterile abbreviation that doesn’t force other people to think about my rape! I think I may be angry about that…but I don’t want to think about it, either.  I don’t want to think about any of it, and can’t figure out how to write about it without thinking about it…and certainly don’t want to acknowledge that mindfulness – which I am practicing and committed to – is the opposite of ‘not thinking about it’.  I don’t want any of this to be part of my experience, or part of who I am – I didn’t choose it, and I’m angry as hell every time I try to think about it, and that anger never seems to dissipate.  So…I’m looking at making reservations somewhere close to home, to hole up alone with my pain and my rage to write about rape.  I don’t know how else to approach it candidly, openly, accurately and with vulnerability, and not risk laying waste to the emotions and hearts of everyone dear to me while I do.

I need to be alone with my rape history.  That’s a hell of a thing.  The enormity of what is stolen from us when we are raped is hard to share.

Soon I’ll go to lunch with one of my partners, and this will fade into the background again, to be considered further later. Like it or not, even in the background, these experiences are part of who I am as a whole being.  I will keep practicing mindfulness, and perhaps someday the meaning and value of these things that hurt so much will be more clear, and maybe I will even move on from the pain and the rage.  I sort of have to, don’t I? It isn’t as if I can really talk about it.