Archives for posts with tag: survivor

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.

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.

I woke early, feeling rested and unconcerned. It’s a nice frame of mind to start off in. Still human, though, and within seconds self-doubt, hurt feelings, vague disappointments, and miscellaneous baggage dredged from my waking consciousness was launched at me as a barrage of discontented feelings. Seriously, Brain, was that at all necessary? First thing? Couldn’t wait until after meditation, yoga, a shower, a coffee? A bit less than two years ago, it would have been all that was required to kick-start a shitty morning, filled with misunderstandings, miscommunication, and moodiness. This morning wasn’t that.

Each attempt on my waking mind that my demons made was met, this morning, with the gentle observation “that’s not about me”. One by one the momentary feelings showed how momentary they are, by dissipating and leaving nothing behind as I reminded myself that first this bit of weirdness and suffering, then that one, were simply ‘not about me’. Turns out this is also a nice frame of mind with which to face the earliest bit of morning; taking care of me, comfortably.

The three biggest take-aways in my year+ of studying, so far, have been 1. Mindfulness, 2. Perspective, and now 3. Sufficiency.  Having all three tends to find me feeling contented, balanced, and enjoying my experience. Lacking any one of them and I find myself suffering, volatile, reactive, and often ‘unable to figure things out’.  It’s a pleasant change.  I’m grateful to have stayed around to experience it. 🙂

From this perspective it's all blue skies and spring time...

From this perspective it’s all blue skies and spring time…

It is, however, still a journey, and I still have a long one ahead of me. A lifetime, actually. As beautiful as my experience can be these days…

...looking beneath the surface is revealing.

…looking beneath the surface is revealing.

Even my generally-very-pleasant-mostly-pretty-balanced experience these days isn’t ‘everything there is’ to who I am. There’s more work to do. I am at long last perhaps well enough, whole enough, to face doing it. I am a trauma survivor. I am a domestic violence survivor. I am a rape survivor. I am a war veteran.  These are part of who I am. There was a time when enduring these experiences seemed an endless feature of my emotional landscape, continuously playing out again and again in my emotional background, coloring my here and now whether I was sleeping or awake. I suffered. I endured. I cried. I survived.

That’s an important detail. I’ll say it again. I survived.

So, I’m not without damage. I have some scars, both emotional and physical. Still, here I am. Life, generally, in my here and now is pleasant and comfortable. I find myself on the edge of wellness and faced with a decision… do I stand fast, in this pretty comfortable place – or do I continue to grow, develop, work on me, sort things out, and… do I follow through? That last isn’t so obvious and transparent.  It’s this – although crimes perpetrated against me in the past are likely beyond prosecution now, there’s the matter of military compensation. Do I submit paperwork on my military sexual trauma?  That’s the hard question. A yes answer means committing to telling the tale, on paper, with as much documentation as I can track down. It means being intimate with some very painful moments in my life and learning to be able to discuss them without tears, hysteria, or losing myself in the unpredictable outcome of real rage. I could just sooth myself and look away, couldn’t I? Enjoy where I am now, and let the past go… wherever the past goes. Couldn’t I?

Could I?

I often think the safer choice – emotionally safer – is to let it all go, let it somehow simply cease to be… but as soon as my body begins to relax into the awareness and comfort that I am safe here, now, I feel the awareness of those others, those younger versions of me, still crying in their sleep, still hurting, still so sad. Who takes up their cause? Who seeks redress for them? Who ‘makes it right’, if it can be made right at all, ever? There is no one to advocate for them, but me.  This, then, is ‘about me’, and more about telling the tale, respecting myself, and healing those hurt little girls still lurking in my ‘baggage claim area’, than the paperwork, itself, but it appears the paperwork may be how I get there.

I enjoy how far I have come. I know I have further to go. Today is a good day for a journey. Today is a good day to change the world.

It’s been a long day. I’m ending it with a backache, a headache, and quite content to see this one reach its conclusion.  It’s ending well; I don’t want to give a different impression. It’s just been a day that began well, is ending well, and in between…it wasn’t horrible, wasn’t tears or trauma, wasn’t even noteworthy in a way worth noting. It was effort well-spent, small stresses well-managed, tasks completed, begun, and otherwise dispensed with. Satisfying, overall, more or less…I’m just…done. So very done for today.

...finally...evening light.

…finally…evening light.

Funny thing, I suspect the fatigue, perhaps even the pain, stem more from what I’m not doing, than the things I am – or have been – doing today. That ‘conversation with myself’ isn’t going to go away. Taking care of me, and healing, and growing and learning to nurture myself and invest in my own experience, my own needs and giving myself the support and respect I need from myself isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever undertaken. I’m a handful – the wreckage, the chaos and damage, the ancient pain – it all adds up. Walls built over years keep me out, too.  Introspection easily becomes a sort of mental geodesic dome of fun-house mirrors, reflecting my poor assumptions and bad programming back onto myself again and again, splintering, fracturing, breaking up a momentary understanding into confusion and incoherent half-baked wishful thinking, or worse still, fears and insecurities built on enough of what is real to mislead me into self-loathing, or frustrated rage. I’ve had to find another way.  It’s a journey, not a destination – I’m pretty sure of that, now.

There is still so very little ‘knowing’, and so many questions. I am a student…of life, of love, of truth, of what is…of what is not…of what may be…what isn’t so likely…and bit by bit my firm certainty in the world reveals itself as an illusion, a defense, a sort of camouflage to protect me from the one person I can never ever be saved from. Yep. Me. Her.  Me-at-18, me-at-20, me-at-30… me…then. Let’s not talk about then, shall we?

Mindfulness isn’t about pretending something isn’t. Healing isn’t a score card, and no amount of pretense can will me whole of heart and mind. So…I have to make room in my experience for her.  For me.  That earlier iteration of chaos and damage that is who I have been. So much chaos. So much damage.  It’s on my mind, and it is a distraction from my every day experience, this need to face myself, in a way so honest and so direct that she can not evade my questions with her answers, presses on my consciousness with such force.  So now what? I have to find the words…the time…the place…

I’m glad the day ends, and ends well. I need my strength. I am here, now, and having survived and endured her ‘then’, along with her, I know her strength well.  I don’t know the outcome…I know she won’t take a dive. I know I can’t afford to lose, or forfeit. 

Night falls and I am glad to rest.