Archives for category: Rape

I woke in a sweat, uncomfortable and shaking, tearing my consciousness from a nightmare that I had gotten pregnant – at 60, post-menopause – and unable to terminate my terribly risky and thoroughly unwanted pregnancy because the law had changed, and my bodily autonomy as a human being was utterly lost. My heart was pounding. I paced restlessly for a moment or two, feeling vaguely unsettled and with a persistent “uncomfortable” feeling in my guts.

I laid back down, fighting sensations very much at odds with each other; the sweats and discomfort, the fatigue and sleepiness. I felt peculiarly averse to going back to sleep. I wasn’t exactly nauseous… but I felt suspiciously as if I might feel better if I got sick and got past it.

Predictably enough, I was quite sick moments later. Something I ate apparently did not agree with me. The stressful nightmare was likely a byproduct of the combination of physical and emotional discomfort – one from whatever I ate that did not agree with me, the other from the recently leaked not-quite-official-yet Supreme Court document regarding the likely end of Roe v Wade. My physical discomfort was greatly eased by vomiting. My emotional discomfort… well, it’s no surprise that it persists.

…Tell me again why someone besides me, myself, has anything to say about whether or not I carry a pregnancy to term? I’ve chosen to be childless. Period. Seriously. I did not want to be a mother. Why would my choice be out of my hands? When I hear people spouting bullshit talking points about the sacredness of life from the moment of conception, I reliably find myself wondering how they are so easily able to overlook the sacredness of the life of the pregnant person, herself? How do they justify what is fundamentally a position that states women should be coercively required – forced – to bear a child? Forced to bring a pregnancy to term that they do not want. Forced to endure a potentially life-threatening pregnancy for months. Forced, potentially, to go through all that and the trauma of giving up a child for adoption in order to avoid motherhood? How is that acceptable?

I hear a lot of religious arguments against abortion. My thoughts on that are basically… by all means, if your faith restricts you from terminating a pregnancy, definitely do not do that, then. I get it. Your religious freedoms absolutely permit that choice for you. My religious beliefs do not in any way restrict me from choosing to end a pregnancy. My religious freedoms should ensure that I continue to have access to a full measure of reproductive medical services – including abortion. I know, it probably sounds like I am taking this damned personally for a woman on the other side of menopause… doesn’t even affect me, directly, right? I am taking this personally. Having abortion available to me ensured I was able to choose to be childless by intent. My choice. I was able to graduate high school. I was able to join the Army once I did. Both of those would have been beyond my reach, without having been able to terminate a pregnancy while I was in high school. I had birth control measures available. I used them. My birth control failed – which is not uncommon. I was fortunate to live at a time when abortion was available to me, when I needed it.

I needed to get that off my mind. Thank you. If I’ve upset you, I regret the distress I’ve caused you. Not enough to change (or withhold) my thoughts on this topic, but it isn’t my intention to cause you suffering if we disagree.

…But… can anyone tell me why it seems acceptable to tell someone that they must be forced to bear a child against their will, or potentially under life-threatening circumstances? Why is the not-yet-viable-outside-the-womb fetus “life” worthy of respect and value – but the living breathing human person with that fetus in their body is less so? I don’t get it. Like it or not, that’s really what is being proposed; forcing people who do not want to bear a child to go through that process because someone else is not okay with an abortion that they have nothing to do with at all. Yes, I’m unreasonably angry about this, and taking it personally. It feels personal.

It’s late. My guts are no longer churned up. I’m no longer sweating. My breathing is relaxed and even. It’s quiet in these wee hours, and I am alone with my thoughts in the night. I’m okay, though. No despair. Just quiet. There’s no stress to these sleepless hours; tomorrow I return home to the welcoming embrace of my Traveling Partner. I’m definitely homesick. I’m eager to be at home all through the month of June.

A yawn unexpectedly splits my face. I’m tired and sleepy. Time to try that sleep thing, again. Tomorrow is a new day, and plenty soon enough for new beginnings. 🙂

Yesterday was hard. Just watching the world watching the Kavanaugh confirmation stuff going on was sufficiently painful to make for a difficult day. He’ll probably be confirmed. It’s a damning indictment against all of us, and this world we’ve built. Seriously. (I’m quite serious.)

…Which leads my morning musings elsewhere, because there’s more meat on this bone than one man’s plum lifetime government appointed gig; it’s about all of us. It’s about the way we listen. It’s about the way we treat others in their moments of pain, grief, and stress. It’s about how readily and easily we dismiss the concerns of others, most especially if we don’t experience life the same way, or suffer with the same disadvantages. It’s about privilege, and the dichotomy of having it versus not having it, and how confusing the chrysanthemum flower Venn diagram of privilege actually is, with its overlaps, and intersections. It’s about how little we care about the pain of strangers, and how quickly we minimize the pain of loved ones because (although we likely mean well) it is uncomfortable to share it.

Be considerate. Listen deeply. Understand that the experiences of others may not be your own – and that this does not invalidate those experiences! It’s less about trusting their narratives, and much less about their veracity and your willingness to believe, and so much about “basic human decency” and being considerate, just generally. I’m saying we could all do better on this one, and that we all do well to make the attempt.

I’m pretty fucking done with angry men shouting me down. I’m pretty fucking done with angry men deciding what my truth is. I’m pretty fucking done with being dismissed, diminished, shouted down, talked over, or patronized. I’m done with a whole fuck ton of bullshit. I’m pretty fucking angry, myself. So… what am I going to do about any of it? Well… I’ll for sure be voting. That’s one thing I can do. Speaking truth to power is another. Refusing to soften my tone, or yield my position, these are also things I can do. Already am. All those things. Still… I could do those things more skillfully, I’m sure.

It’s time, then, to begin again? Isn’t it always? 🙂

Couldn’t we all do better? A bit? Give that some thought. Are you really the person you most want to be? Every day?

I am feeling frustrated with humanity, generally, and it pivots on competing memes, the willful stupidity of human beings defending pet ideologies, and the unavoidable truth that every damned one of us has some pretty fucking hateful moments, and lugs around some pretty vile baggage. I’m mostly quite done with every damned body pointing at the other guy with criticism about hate, seemingly unaware that they, themselves, have some similarly hateful moments.

Fuck, people, look in the god damned mirror.

I’m not making this point unaware that I am, myself, quite human. On the contrary, I am frustrated and puzzled by some basic confounds in my own thinking. I am concerned about implicit biases I am likely wandering around with, that may inform my decision-making in a fairly stupid way. I worry that things I think I “know” are not well-grounded in fact, to the point that I am regularly seeking proof that I am wrong. (Because, frankly, finding out I am wrong is the only shot at correcting poor quality reasoning – I don’t give fuck-all for being right, and it isn’t helpful to “know” that I am, when it comes up.)

What’s specifically giving me metaphysical indigestion this morning is the head-on conflict between posts/memes/commentary suggesting that “gun control is not the answer –  be kind to lonely kids!” is The One True Way, and the other batch retorting “don’t suggest anyone else is responsible for violence except the sociopaths committing it – you could be encouraging vulnerable kids to become entangled with sociopaths!” because setting good boundaries is The One True Way. Fucking hell – are we all really that stupid? Is it not 100% entirely obvious that this is a false dichotomy? That the jigsaw puzzle of American violence is a tad more nuanced than that? Fuck your overly simplistic idiocy. So done with that kind of simple-minded horse-shit.

It matters how we treat people. It matters what we accept, as a culture, with regard to how people treat each other. It matters when we frame the discussion in terms of the value of one group of lives or another, or the worth of one individual or another. It matters how we talk about – and how we prosecute – violence. Yes, when we let domestic violence crimes go unnoticed, undiscussed, and unprosecuted, we build a culture in which some children grow up thinking their anger (an emotion, nothing more) has more value than the actual lives of others. We created that scenario as a culture, as a society. We deepen it when we devalue women, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. When we foster rape culture, and suggest in our institutions and laws, that how women dress or behave is somehow righteous justification for another human being’s lack of self-control over their use of sexual behaviors, we defend violence over “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. We are at fault for the culture that exists.

Does that mean we are also accountable, individually, for the individual acts of violence of other individuals? Nope. We are each responsible for our own actions… including those actions that foster a culture of violence. So. Yeah. It’s not us vs. them. It’s not as simple as a single choice between two clear options. It’s about actually fucking being aware of the consequences of our actions, and of our institutions and laws, and we are responsible for the society we create. We built this. Stop acting fucking surprised. Fucking fix it.

Fuck, I am so angry about this. Just do better, damn. How fucking hard is that?

What are you going to do to make this a better country to live in for everyone who lives in it? (Yes, including people who are incarcerated, people who are poor, people who are undocumented – have you read some of what they are put through? Every.Damned.Day. “Inhumane” doesn’t begin to describe it, and that’s really not okay.)

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do better. Just that. Something. Each day, today too, I am going to put my will and my actions toward being a somewhat better human being than I was yesterday. And again tomorrow. Then again the day after that. I will spend a lifetime working towards being the woman I most want to be, building the world I most want to live in. Tearing down the bullshit and baggage I learned growing up, or later on, or built myself. No excuses. I can do better.

It’s time to begin again.

My busy week has been nothing like “routine”. I’m still smiling. I did not see my Traveling Partner last night, as we’d planned, the hour of evening was later than we’d figured when my hair appointment ended, I’d started the day quite tired already, and my partner considerately suggested I get the rest I needed and embrace the late Thursday night ahead without additional fatigue. Good idea. I agreed. I’m still smiling. I’m alert. Rested. In no particular pain in spite of the rainy morning. I am ready for a late night! Bring it!

It’s been a busy week, sure. It has, however, been more ups than downs. More successes than failures. More challenges overcome, than challenges that thwarted me. More wins than losses. More beautiful moments than aggravating ones. I suspect that this is the truth of life, generally, much of the time, for most of us – if we can find the sweet spot in our perspective from which to view our experience.

This morning I sip my coffee and practice a favorite practice – I take the things I need to practice it with me everywhere I go: memory, experiences, presence, and a kindly disposition toward my very human self. I start simply enough, by remembering something, maybe looking through my recent photographs, or contemplating a moment, conversation, or experience – one that felt really good. That’s the important bit; start with something that feels amazing, before working towards transforming the perspective on a less comfortable moment. Because that’s totally possible too, and does not require compromising my values, telling myself pretty lies, ignoring painful truths, or constructing a fake narrative, it just takes some understanding, some compassion – and some practice. (I learned to transform some painful, awkward, or uncomfortable recollections into recollections with positive value more or less by accident, through the practice of “taking in the good“, and I don’t have “steps” to offer to make that a reliable thing; it requires practice, no avoiding that.)

Did the phrase “working towards” cause you to lose interest? Yeah… You’re probably going to have to get over that. Just saying. There are verbs involved. The effort must, in fact, and unavoidably, be your own. 😉

A beautiful way to say thank you (to me) (because I like flowers) (in vases) (and being appreciated). Flowers from colleagues. My work space smells like a garden. 😀

The complicated week has been dimpled with beautiful moments. A promotion. An appreciative gift of flowers. Smiles from colleagues in moments of shared success and celebration. A festive dinner out with my Traveling Partner and a dear friend. A delightful outcome on new hair color. It’s not even over yet – and there’s still more to appreciate, to pause for, to savor, to relish, to sit with in gentle contemplation over a great cup of coffee, too early in the morning. 🙂

So look, my life isn’t “perfect” (and that’s not a thing, so let that go now!) – my arthritis pain has been kicking my ass all this rainy chilly week, and I’ve had an on again/off again headache that has chased me for days. My schedule is a so far off routine at this point it is wreckage, calendar in useless tatters, which is deeply uncomfortable for me. My sleep, until last night, has been of exceedingly poor quality, offering little rest. A wee fish in my aquarium died. The first time my Traveling Partner ever saw my new place, my bed wasn’t made – which bugs me. The powerful “Me, Too.” meme unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, which although powerful and extraordinary, was also painful, uncomfortable, and saddening. Life is not about perfection. We are human. So human. Pain is a thing. Sickness is a thing. Emotional anguish is a thing. Running late is a thing. Being ditched is a thing. Disappointment is a thing. Setting ourselves up for failure is a thing. Learned helplessness is a thing. This is a “choose your own adventure” sort of experience – and you have choices. But…

It isn’t “easy”. It does take practice. It is utterly necessary to “do something” about “that” – whatever it is. 🙂 One thing at a time, and it’s okay to take it slow, to fumble, to get it wrong, and to have to begin again…

…like…

…a bunch of times.

This is your experience. The craftsmanship involved in making it a “good one” (defined by you) is yours.

This morning I’m fortunate to be sitting in the sweet spot. It’s been a busy week. I’m still smiling. That’s enough. 🙂

I was already feeling sort of testy about weird man/woman shit when drama erupted in a relationship totally not my own, still somehow spilling over into my experience, by way of my Traveling Partner supporting a friend going through a bad bit as a failed partnership ends. I’d have been, perhaps, less enraged by how that friend is being treated by an ex… but emotions are what they are, including personal loyalty, and I found myself wondering what I could do to actually help – and offering up “anything” that could be to my Traveling Partner.

I’m still angry this morning. Maybe it was the Facebook post about the news article on “stealthing”, maybe that’s what got my ire up? That’s some unsavory wrong-headed bullshit, all by itself, and enough to make any woman angry – even the suggestion of it, and reading the article, was enough to anger me. Ancient rage. The sort that does not stifle easily. For some reason, in April of this year it seems a popular topic for news articles. That bothers me too.

A pleasantly distracting picture of the first spring goslings. 🙂

The scene on the bus ride home last night, though, irritates my consciousness in this whole other “see your therapist soon!” sort of way, like picking at a scab, or scratching a bug bite… I feel very much that I should not “pick at this”, unfortunately that’s often the rallying cry of “this is some root cause to a bit of your madness, but let’s not deal with all that now” that pushes things into dark corners of chaos for the later “amusement” of my personal demons. It wasn’t an uncommon scene, either… a young woman and a young man riding the bus together…

He was tickling her. She said “stop”, laughing. The way she said stop, and it came up repeatedly as the bus ride continued, caused more heads than mine to turn. Her laughter, to me, sounded uncomfortable. She said “no”. She said “stop”. She said “quit it”. She said these things firmly. She continued to laugh while she said them, mostly. He kept on. I was very uncomfortable, but in a confined space, like a bus, was an involuntary witness. When my stop approached, I stood at the door, which was immediately next to them, they were facing me. I turned to face her and made eye contact. “This bus ride was very uncomfortable for me.” I said. Heads turned. Conversations stopped. She held my gaze. People were listening.  “You keep telling him no”, I said to her, “but you are laughing. He keeps doing this thing that appears to be violating your boundaries, you keep telling him no – and you keep laughing. If you are enjoying this, why are you telling him no? If you are not enjoying this, why are you complicating your effort to set boundaries by laughing?” I waited. She looked uncomfortable and said nothing. He finally spoke up for her “she’s having a good time.” He said it firmly with conviction, he looked resentful of the intrusion. I turned to him as the bus pulled forward from the last signal light. I looked into his eyes for a long minute before saying slowly, with forced calm,  “I wasn’t talking to you, and it isn’t up to you to decide if she’s having a good time. It is up to you to decide if you will respect her boundaries and require clear communication of consent.” I turned my back on him deliberately, and turned back to her. The bus doors opened, and I felt my eyes fill with tears I didn’t intend to share, and only enough time to say “Your choice of behavior is teaching him that it is acceptable to violate your boundaries.” I can hope she heard me, but I’ll probably never know. I walked home sad and angry. Sad because this bullshit goes on all the time. Angry with the woman in the mirror because it’s my fault, too. Angry because it took men who understood consent to bring it to my awareness. Angry because I even had to be persuaded and cajoled into taking care of myself, into learning to set clear boundaries firmly, into learning that my agency actually matters, and that my consent is sacred and must remain inviolate – and is my own. I had to learn not to laugh uncomfortably any time I said “no”. I still struggle with these things, and that is one source of my anger.

I got home angry. The addition of needless break-up drama in other lives that matter (don’t they all?, isn’t that why it’s so hard to turn away?) didn’t help ease my simmering fury. It was an evening that touched on a lot of my chaos and damage. It all felt very personal. The pendulum swung from anger at a human experience of one sort, to a very different sort – that ugliness whereupon people behave as though they have some entitlement to what is not their own, in the midst of breaking up. Stealing things, tit for tat bullshit, and “getting even”. Ugly. I am so fucking sick to death of people behaving in these ways. We are not each other’s property. We are not chattel. We are not entitled to some particular outcome in life, which when deprived of it we are then entitled to steal, to break shit, or to commit assault or murder. Your relationship ended? Get the fuck over that shit, and walk on. Leave it all behind. Don’t chase after each other, poisoning the future. Treat each other well in celebration of love that once was. Vengeance? That’s bullshit. Walk away. Your life and your heart matter most, all the rest are just the material trappings of existence. It’s hard to stand idly by while a friend is robbed, and my anger at the pettiness and drama of his ex acting out surged again and again as the evening wore on… but not because of him (or even her, although her behavior has certainly cost her my respect, and any potential for friendship in the future; I’m just not okay with that behavior). I stayed angry because the events of the evening touched me – me personally, my own heart, and I am having my own experience.

More goslings, and a moment of perspective.

I’m fortunate to have a strong, reciprocal, boundary-respecting, loving relationship with my Traveling Partner. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it is my first relationship in which my boundaries are respect and my explicit consent is required, just generally and day-to-day. When we got together, I was almost 50. It’s more than a little uncomfortable to be aware of that, and of the years of internal struggling and suffering that preceded it. I stayed angry through much of the evening, because I am still so very angry with myself, with my circumstances, and with all those preceding relationships in which my agency was not valued, my boundaries were not respected, and my consent was violated regularly. I am angry now, because I spent so much time then laughing uncomfortably, and waiting for unpleasant moments to just… end. I am angry because I have been punished for taking care of myself, for setting boundaries, for walking away, and for speaking up for myself. I am angry because it took so long to choose to change – and to understand that indeed, I had to change before my circumstances could. Even then, there were verbs involved.

Evenings are short during the week. My temper simmered over dinner. I continued to fret and stew over drama in the shower, and as the evening began to reach its end. I didn’t really want to go to bed angry… I wished my Traveling Partner well, and logged off of devices, and sat down on my meditation cushion in front of the open patio door. I let the cool marsh breeze wrap me the scent of meadow flowers. I let everything else fall away, and just took time to breathe, and to be, and to listen to the rain fall. Over some unmeasured time, I found my way back to the present moment, content and calm. It wasn’t that my anger no longer existed, it simply found a welcome home within my own heart, and some understanding. Calm anger. Weird. I went to bed and found sleep while listening to rain tapping at the window.

Sure. I still feel angry about the things I am angry about. There are plenty of things worth feeling angry about. This morning I sip my coffee also feeling content that I am able to put things in context and gain understanding from them, over time. I can grow. I can choose change. I can be more removed from drama than I once was. I can offer support to people close to me, without being destroyed in their dumpster fire. I can heal. I can walk on.

I can begin again. So can you. 🙂