Archives for category: Rape

I woke to a gray morning, following a late night. I spent the evening hours meditating, studying, writing and reflecting. Today is the 21st anniversary of the end of a nightmare. Bits of chaos and shards of damage still linger, even 21 years later; my back will remind me every day of the high price of freedom. My scars are my receipt. 21 years ago I walked on, and I began again, ending my first marriage with some finality, and a great deal of relief. I survived it, and that’s enough, now.

Art therapy

Self-portrait in progress – I don’t have words for some experiences.

I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my very human mortality, too. Not in an angst-y “not me! why me?!” way – Death comes for us all, at some point. It’s more that… I’m only just starting to really live… it weighs me down just a bit; the not-quite-sad tears that perch on my eye lashes when I think about it weigh much more than they seem they should. I’m okay – I’ve known since I was a small child that Death is a thing. I’m not there, yet. I’m not having to face Death in person in any known immediate way. Last night found me gentle with myself, and accepting that this is something that I’m needing to think over a bit, letting it come, letting it go – accepting it. Hell, it wasn’t even the “most important” thing on my mind last night. 🙂 It is probably a decently adult idea to ensure all my end of life stuff is in good order, regardless… wills don’t write themselves, and mine is out-of-date.

I enjoyed the evening less quietly than I often do, pausing everything else at intervals to learn something more with my bass. My fingers are sore, and the muscles in my forearms. I took the necessary step of checking in with the guys next door and finding the sweet spot – amp loud enough to be ideally audible for me, but not filling their apartment next door with the sounds of me practicing – because there’s probably going to be a lot of that going on, for a long time. 🙂

It was an evening of meditation.

It was an evening of meditation, too.

I write several paragraphs, and delete them after re-reading them and realizing that I’m ‘just chattering away to myself’ in a rather… well… I’ll be honest, it sounded too much (to me) like an eager toddler tugging at my sleeve to share something, when I’m “trying to have an adult conversation here, honey.” I laugh at the visual image, which is of my mother on the phone rolling her eyes skyward as I earnestly try to shove some beetle or weed at her, eager for her attention. I sometimes feel I live on a plane tilted at an angle from everyone else in which very different things are fascinating and noteworthy. lol This has not changed about my experience of myself over the years, it is part of who I am. 🙂 I’m fortunate to have so many friends and loved ones who enjoy me as I am, and quite a few also living on ’tilted planes’. I take a moment to enjoy the warmth of the happy smile on my face as I linger on the awareness of the acceptance and affection I am so fortunate to receive. It feels very nice to consider acceptance. Just that – some small moment when another human being communicated that I am okay with them, no problem. However hated or diminished I’ve felt in some moment in life, if I’ve been able to lift my head from that pain to raise my eyes, the truth of it has been that I have also been well-loved, valued, respected, and found worthy by those dear to me! It took a long time to recognize that a lot of the hate I felt surrounding me sourced from within. I smile, and offer my gentle heart a moment of regret and apology; it never needed to be that way, it was a painful choice.

There is valuable perspective in taking time to look at things quite differently.

There is valuable perspective in taking time to look at things quite differently. “Chrysanthemums” 36″ x 48″, acrylic on canvas, 2004, shot in blue light.

I sip my coffee and smile. The gray morning is quiet, although a Monday; it’s a holiday. The sounds of traffic are muted, hushed, and minimal. The windows are thrown open to morning breezes. My coffee tastes good. My posture feels more upright than has been the case, sitting at my desk, in many years – I smile, recognizing early changes resulting from my renewed commitment to fitness. It’s a lovely morning. I feel whole and well and delightfully human – which is a pleasant experience. I breathe it in. As I exhale, I imagine letting go of past baggage, and inhale again, deeply, imagining welcoming Love home. My smile deepens. Contentment has proven to be such a wise choice for me, versus chasing the glamour of Happiness and her fickle ways. Happy comes and goes. I’m learning to accept that too. Contentment can be built, sustained, improved, deepened, practiced… No, it’s not ‘easy’. There is practice involved, self-awareness helps, acceptance is a nice value-add, and a willingness to embrace sufficiency doesn’t hurt, either. It’s not always clear which practices are ideal for me – I’ve taken a trial and error approach, and then also had to learn that practice is about incremental change over time, and follow through with learning to observe the small changes, not just the big change that is achieving a goal.

I didn't find freedom with a gun in my hand.

I didn’t find freedom with a gun in my hand.

I finish my coffee. The cat beyond the window finishes her patrol along the edge of the meadow. The morning remains quiet, so quiet. Coffee #2… or a walk in the park? It’s only a choice, either option is lovely, and I’m not attached to the outcome. Today is a good day to celebrate independence – how will you free yourself? 🙂

 

 

I had a lovely dinner with my traveling partner, after a very productive and thought-provoking appointment with my therapist. “Effective” is a good word. Maybe follow that one with “important” and “relevant”, maybe add “needful”… now I am alone. Alone is hard right now.  I don’t even know why I’m crying, right now… It is a measure of progress that I know it won’t last and that trying to stop the tears has other, sometimes profoundly negative, consequences. The tears themselves serve a purpose, the science says, and will reduce my (apparently high) cortisol levels faster than most other things might.

The a/c is on, and the house is cool. The day has been very hot. I got home with a headache from the heat, and more than a little noise-sensitive, uncertain if I might be ‘dealing with the appointment’ – there is often a delay between the appointment dialogue itself, and ‘when it hits me’ later. Often. More often than not.

It passes. I remind myself that it will. I breathe. I let the tears fall. I feel grateful that I didn’t get to this place while hanging out with my traveling partner – he is supportive on a supremely deep and connected level, but I know that going through these things with me is hard on him, too. It is, frankly, one of the reasons I moved into my own place – some of this is ‘easier’ to face alone. Sometimes is just harder, in general, to face it at all.

I have all the usual choices in front of me. All the practiced practices supporting my emotional resilience – much improved over the past two years – and I feel equipped to take care of me, even now – but fuck it’s harder than I want it to be. I think back to the morning’s contentment and ease. There is another morning tomorrow, and surely I will not still be weeping. I don’t understand why I am weeping now…unless it is simply that some stuff really is worth crying over – at least once – and some of it I just never got to that part at that time. I was too busy enduring, surviving, overcoming, managing, withstanding, and holding on to whatever fragments of self I could maintain in the chaos. The damage piled up, and now I am crying. So. Okay. Now what?

A bit like squinting at fruit I can't reach, with the sun in my eyes.

A bit like squinting at fruit I can’t reach, with the sun in my eyes.

A few more deep breaths. A big drink of water – it’s a hot day and the headache itself is enough to make me weep. A cooling shower…comfy clothes…yoga…meditation…medication (medical cannabis, I’m looking your way on this one!)…and being gentle with this fragile vessel and the tender hurt thing resting within it. We’ll be okay, this woman in the mirror and I; we’re making this journey together – and we aren’t traveling alone; I’m never far from my traveling partner’s thoughts. I could call, right now, and he would answer.

Hell…incremental progress over time is – and in fewer than 500 words, harder already seems a bit easier. I wonder for just a moment whether posting this is “necessary” and realize…maybe that isn’t about me, at all. It wouldn’t be a very complete narrative if I just take the bits I don’t find comfortable out of it. Isn’t that part of what hasn’t worked for me before? It seemed ‘too easy’ – and not relevant to the very real ups and downs. The failures. The struggles. How much harder it sometimes seems…the tears. I get back up. I start again. I let it pass.

It rained the other day, quite a lot. It isn't raining now.

It rained the other day, quite a lot. It isn’t raining now.

Disclaimer: This post is about emotions. I sometimes work through them more easily with words, in text, that I can see reflecting the experience back at me. It is a way of getting perspective. This post, though, may be a downer – I say that before I even write it, because I am having my own experience, and I feel what I feel in this moment. I am so very human. So…do yourself a huge favor, take a moment for ‘informed consent’; if you are in a place emotionally where someone else’s pain and struggling may wound you, throw off a good vibe you are enjoying, or change your experience for the worse, I recommend skipping this one. Hey, if nothing else, the writing is likely to be of poor quality, and angst-y, and rife with spelling errors and weird grammar fails – who needs that on a Friday morning? I’ll understand, I promise.

Still here? Okay…

Some other morning, a coffee.

Some other morning, a coffee.

I woke crying this morning. I fell asleep crying last night. In between, I found myself ambushed by Demons in The Nightmare City. This is not an emotional space I want to occupy. I am frustrated by my lack of resilience, my lack of emotional regulation, and my lack of perspective. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel resentful and let down. I feel. Yeah. I definitely feel. I feel mistreated, and mislead. I feel set up and I feel sabotaged. I feel hurt.

“That’s a whole lot of feelings there, lady, what gives?” I’m a human primate. I am an emotional being more than a rational one – it’s a balance. Today it isn’t balancing as well as I’d like. Stress kicks my ass, being hurt kicks my ass, abrupt change kicks my ass – and it takes me a little time to recover, even with some support. Emotions are not criminal actions. Assaulting people with them is, I hear, avoidable. That sounds like fine thing to me, and I turned the little sign on my door this morning to ‘do not disturb’, meditated a while, had a shower, meditated some more… I still don’t want to be as disturbed as I feel, right now. The sign didn’t do much to help with the feelings, but by design it may prevent anyone else from walking through the mess I woke to, within, this morning.

Meditation, mindfulness practices, good basic self-care are all going a long way to improve my experience of me, very nicely. I feel a momentary hurt, recalling with sadness how quickly encouragement turned to criticism, a few months after I began this journey. I was taking a moment to feel proud of my progress, and I was feeling pretty impressed with new tools and practices being effective at helping me on a level nothing else ever had… I got called ‘smug’. I was incredibly hurt. Admittedly, I had been foolishly trying to explain or share the experience with someone else… maybe they hadn’t asked? (I suck at that – put a person in front of me and I will probably just start talking. Are you aware that your executive function manages that for you?) It hurt, nonetheless, and since then I am self-conscious about feeling encouraged by progress, and reluctant to share positive feelings about it in conversations. (Sticks and stones? Fuck right off; words matter.)

I feel confused. “Emptied out”. I feel overburdened by unmet emotional needs piling up over time. I feel like I am not making the progress I could be, right now. It’ll be okay, I think – I hold on to that tightly. I’ve got the hotline number in my pocket, just in case it gets too hard.  I lost a beautiful niece to suicide this year, and I see how it hurts my cousin every day she is without her daughter; I won’t put my traveling partner through that, and I can take the steps to avoid it. Despair is a motherfucker – it is part of our human experience.

...and another...

…and another…

I can’t be certain that the intensity of my emotions this morning reflects something ‘real’ or necessary; they are only emotions. For all I know, this is a 100% bio-chemical experience with no grounding in events or experience. Does that matter in the moment? Well, sure. It matters the way anything true ‘matters’. One true thing is that my emotions are this intense, and unpredictably so. Another true thing is that my emotions, and lack of top-down control, are incredibly uncomfortable for some people to live with. (I don’t get a choice, myself; this is my experience and I live it.) Unfortunately, in a live and unscripted real-life environment, I also don’t get much compassion specific to the ‘invisible’ issues associated with my TBI or PTSD. I rarely fight for it; if it isn’t there to be offered, begging for it, pleading for it or wishing it were there will not make it appear. Compassion can be taught – but that phenomenon also requires an active learner. Change is, but forcing it on someone isn’t appropriate – and generally isn’t effective.

My traveling partner encourages and supports me – he frankly provides a level of emotional support that I can only describe as ‘super human’ – but the environment in the household, generally, is unhealthy for me. I feel aggravated and moody about looking for a place of my own, because I’d honestly prefer to continue living with my traveling partner – he’s wonderful to live with [for me]. I am painfully aware, though, that living with me can be hard on him. Right now so much of what I am working through touches on sexuality, gender, individual identity, boundary setting/management, and relationships with others that it’s harder to treat each other gently in moments when we need it most from each other. So…yeah. I need to be on my own a while – not a break up, not even a separation, just a different living arrangement. It still sucks to hurt over it. I hope by day’s end I am embracing it in good spirits.

I leave other household members out of this, generally; I am writing about my own experience and the other people in it are entitled to be free of public scrutiny of their values and choices filtered through my chaos and damage. But…I am not willing to continue to over-compromise my needs, or undercut my values to keep peace, and the time I spend in the arms of my loves is too precious to taint it with OPD, or games. As a population of individuals, we don’t want or need the same things, and at 52 I have no time to waste on fighting to get the most basic emotional needs met; we are not all equally committed to that endeavor. I don’t yet have the emotional resilience to hold enough in reserve to continue to take care of me when common place bullshit goes sideways, and often find myself without any emotional reserves left to care for me, myself, by the time I have a moment to do so. I feel positive about the choice to get my own place…and for the moment, sad that it is necessary at all.

You know what I don’t feel? I don’t feel guilt or shame over the choice to move out, it needs to happen; I don’t thrive in an environment in which my emotional quality of life is poor. Hell, right now in this moment… I’m okay. (Thanks, Dearheart!) My tears have dried. I’m not feeling social, but I’m not enthralled by Demons in The Nightmare City.  (If I knew that I would have the kind of nightmares that I had last night, in nights to come, I’d never sleep again.) I don’t have the headache that followed me around all day yesterday, which is a huge improvement.  My coffee tastes good – I feel a pang of sadness sweep over me when I realize I won’t have an espresso machine in my kitchen for some time to come after I move; it will be a frugal lifestyle, focused on painting, meditation, and love. Wow. Suddenly that sounds fucking amazing – and all over again I wonder why this hurts at all. I enjoy solitude. I dislike drama. I have musical and culinary tastes that are not shared in the household at large… and I miss a good French press in the morning; it’s a lovely ritual to prepare coffee that way, time it carefully, enjoy the outcome at leisure… I miss living a gentle life. (The most humorous thing about that is how little time I have ever spent living that kind of exceptional quality of life – across years and relationships, I can’t really pin down more than a total of about 18 months that qualify as ‘gentle living’ in 52 years!

I’ve already found my way to a better place. It’s nice. No rushing, either; I’ve made changes to my schedule, effective this week, intended to dial down some of the fatigue-related stress, and don’t have to rush off so soon on Friday mornings. Have you actually read this far? Are you okay? Thank you for being interested, curious, or concerned enough to come all this way with me – whether just this morning, or over these past couple years. I appreciate it. You help me feel heard.

Yeah. Some days, the nightmares win. Today they didn’t. 🙂

Because love matters more. "Emotion and Reason" 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Because love matters more.
“Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Today is a good day to put down some baggage. Today is a good day to practice good self-care. Today is a good day for self-compassion – first, not last. Today is a good day to enjoy this amazing woman I am becoming without competition, dread, or games. Today is a good day to treat others well, and understand that they are walking their own path; their story, and experience, are not mine to endure, to manage, or to criticize – and participation is a choice.

This morning is a nice one. I rested well, woke most pleasantly and just a bit ahead of the alarm. No nightmares. My just-waking-up headache quickly dissipated, leaving only my tinnitus behind, and it, too, doesn’t seem that bad, today. My coffee is hot, and tasty, and a bold reminder of drinking my coffee straight up, dark, and robust in other lives, on other mornings. I’m not shivering in the cold. I’m not sweltering in heat. I am comfortable and content.

For some moments this morning, I was troubled by a strange far off sounding jingling – a holiday jingling that was sort of cute and fun at first, and quickly started causing me some stress; I couldn’t place the source of the sound, and it seemed… everywhere. Thankfully, I realized – before that had gone on very long – I’d chosen it. Oh, not mindfully, nope; it’s very early in the morning and I’m not quite entirely awake. I put on colorful holiday earrings this morning…a cascade of tiny… wait for it… jingle bells. LOL Yep. I chased myself slowly through the house listening for the source of a noise that was immediately next to my ear, small, delicate, ceaseless. (I’ll resume wearing them when I get to the office. The background noise is sufficient that the earrings won’t seem so loud.)

Use your words.

Holiday cheer, and the power of words; speechless is not voiceless.

So far, this morning is as light and pleasant as yesterday’s was difficult. Yesterday ended well, and the day itself was productive and worthwhile – it’s certainly not one that I find myself moved to regret on any noteworthy level; it lingers in my memory in a largely pleasant way, after-the-fact. I enjoy the malleable qualities of the mind, having learned more about making them work for me.

It’s the small course corrections, over time, that have made the most difference for me. I’m saying that because some day I, myself, may need to read those words again… There is a lot of ugliness in the news, and it is so easy to drown in the despair that comes of trying to consume too much bad news too quickly. Those small course corrections happen every day, all around us, and even those entities of great evil that appall and terrify us aren’t static, and change is; it exists whether we embrace it or not. Change isn’t always easy to see, and those small course corrections, and small changes, are not always enough to ease our suffering in the moment – it’s ‘not enough’, somehow, to see some change in the face of great evil. Still, change is, and I had an odd moment yesterday that drove that message home for me.

The value of incremental positive changes over time is huge…but it is easy to lose sight of the improvements, because things can still seem so… status quo.  Two recent South Park episodes were illustrative for me: Season 18, episodes 9 #Rehash and 10 #HappyHolograms. I had never actually been exposed to the popular internet commentator, PewDiePie, or even the phenomenon he represents. I’m not his target audience, so I’m not super surprised. Why does it matter? Incremental changes over time do matter…he became relevant for me when I read this quote:

25 October 2012, Kjellberg posted a Tumblr message, stating “I just wanted to make clear that I’m no longer making rape jokes, as I mentioned before I’m not looking to hurt anyone and I apologize if it ever did.”

That’s actually a pretty big deal. The quote is linked and cited in the Wikipedia article, which tends to support its value as potentially true. A valuable, very real, relevant small course correction. Incremental change over time. It’s powerful – he has a voice, he uses it. Rape humor is controversial, and it’s dangerous territory to be casual and insensitive about; it’s very easy to hurt someone who has been traumatized by rape by carelessly joking about the topic. As a survivor, I still struggle to find the balance between handling the horror, and the healthy healing power of humor and laughter. Most of the comedy I favor doesn’t stray into rape humor territory – but some of it does. It matters how it is handled, and it was those clear simple words assembled by PewDiePie that pointed out what makes the difference [for me]: respect and consideration. When the humor targets the victims as yet another attack on their credibility, or their suffering, it isn’t funny, not at all, not even a little bit. When the humor points the laser beam of comedy at the heinousness of the crime, itself, at the perpetrators, at the culture that ‘doesn’t get it’ – that’s where the laughter is for me. South Park gets it right, seating Bill Cosby on a couch next to Taylor Swift, holiday music playing, a glass of wine the focus of the scene…but we can’t hear what is being said, the voice-over is deliberately louder, distracting…social commentary, comedy genius. Funny enough that it didn’t really warrant a trigger warning. Subtle enough to avoid liability, and unlikely to frighten children. I laughed and laughed. I watched it again. I laughed more. I watched it yet again, and began find the details and references I’d missed the first two times. I’d send Matt Stone and Trey Parker holiday cards and well wishes this year, if I knew them. I’ll probably watch it again, soon. 🙂

Change is. Small changes matter – over time they become larger. I see hints of change in our culture. I see more people finding their voice – and using it. I see more human beings reaching across the details that divide them to recognize we’re all in this together. This morning, I feel encouraged and alive…I’m not sure why. It’s a lovely feeling to start the day on.

Today is a good day to pause and appreciate the change that is.

Sometimes I’d benefit from leaving myself a gentle reminder to be gentle with myself. This morning I was fortunate that I got that reminder from my observant traveling partner, who understands that if my routine is sufficiently disrupted, particularly in the morning, it can affect my mood and my behavior profoundly. My routine was surely ‘sufficiently disrupted’ this morning, and not in any unpleasant ways. I woke to the sound of humor and love in my partner’s voice, waking me seconds before the strident beeping of my alarm to alert me that the shower was already hot, and did I want him to leave the water running for me? How considerate! The hot water-no waiting was a lovely follow-up to his voice, and his smile, but it through all my usual actions quite out of sequence. I remembered to take my medication straight away, and being entirely focused on that detail, I failed to observe that I didn’t meditate, do yoga, drink 16 ounces of water during my first waking hour, or write… and these things all matter, and are all important elements of taking care of me. His awareness and kind reminder put me back on track, and that will be very important later today.

I woke with a nasty headache this morning, and I’ve been struggling with unexpected nausea, these on top of some entirely unexpected spotting yesterday tend to suggest hormones. This is supported by unusual fatigue yesterday, and some moments of unusual volatility and emotional weirdness over the last couple days. On one hand it was much easier to recognize and deal with my hormones when bleeding was predictable, expected, and fairly routine…on the other hand, this is just not that bad, and doesn’t really amount to ‘hormone hell’… more like…’hormone heck’, or ‘hormone inconvenience’. lol I’m okay with that.

I still feel groggy this morning, like my head just hasn’t quite cleared since I woke. My consciousness has a quality similar to ‘dreaming’, even though I am quite awake…I feel foggy, my thinking seems fuzzy and irrelevant, and I think I could lay down and immediately return to sleeping with ease. It will pass; there is no permanence in our consciousness that we don’t choose – and I say this will pass. Surely with the help of the second tasty latte this morning (thank you, Love!), it will pass quickly. 🙂

The news and Facebook are filled with articles, posts, and media references to The Torture Report – I’m not going to link to it, simply because I don’t want a legacy of that ugliness attached to this blog. I’m opposed to torture. I’m opposed to violence – particularly used to control, or coerce. I don’t see much difference between domestic violence, bullying, or torture, honestly – the differences are differences in magnitude perhaps, but certainly not differences in kind. It’s just not okay to hurt people, to willfully engage in acts that knowingly injure another. It’s not okay to inflict pain or injury on another person willfully. (Let’s not muddy these waters discussing the very different issue of extreme sex play between consenting adults.) The very idea that there are people in power who will excuse torture, on any terms whatsoever, is offensive. Count on me not to vote for even one candidate who supports torture, however ideal they may otherwise seem. Torture doesn’t get ‘the truth’, and it doesn’t redress any wrongs.  I’m sick with shame that even one human being in this nation would stoop so low as to torture another human being, but I guess I’m not surprised; I’m a survivor of violence, and of rape, and I know too well how poorly we treat our fellow human beings, here. Enough about that. Please enjoy your day without killing or maiming anyone? I will do the same – together, if we all pitch in, we can stop the violence.

Flowers! (Why not?)

Flowers! (Why not?)

It’s later than usual, and I notice with enough time to avoid panic, but it’s time to move on with the day. Today is a good day to avoid panic. Today is a good day to be kind to myself, and to others. Today is a good day to take my time and enjoy the moment. Today is a good day to change the world.