Coping

i need better tools for self care. My go-to is alcohol. I won’t drink for months and then all of a sudden I’ll binge an entire bottle of wine in one sitting. I stuff and stuff my emotions and when it becomes too much I try escapism and regret it. Alcohol abuse for me is a form of self harm–I used to slap my own face and do other things to my body, but these days the only left over behavior is getting wasted every once and awhile. I’m glad this is all I do, but I  am the child of alcoholics and these behaviors were taught to me–unlearning them takes work. 

My therapist is always concerned because I stuff my emotions–I don’t feel comfortable being sad in front of others. Even when I feel it vividly—like I have in the last 2 weeks. I chose instead to numb myself. I’m still learning and every time I am learning something new about myself to become more honest, comfortable and accepting of myself. I should not beat myself up for this behavior–I am only doing the best I can and today I am chosing  to give myself the love and compassion I deserve. 

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This

coercion is not consent.

I didn’t realize I had been raped as a teenager until about 2 years ago. Seeing him brought it all back. I spent years trying to convince myself it was consensual–sleeping with him “willingly” while he spoke about how bad I was in bed. 

Yesterday a friend posted a photo that transported me to the first time it happened–when I curled into a ball in the bed next to him and he touched me. I was unresponsive. Just let it happen. 

I wrote a poem about it–I performed it in front of an audience who knew who I was talking about. He was offended. 

I think of these things and pray there is a teen girl somewhere who will speak about it. That she will see my piece and not be afraid of the backlash as I was. As I still am. I’m still afraid of naming him–yet I know without a doubt I am not the only one who felt his abuse. 

Millie

There needs to be a place
where invoking your name
is not taboo.
I shout it into the pillow
of my throat
so no one else can hear.
It is like dropping a pebble
off a chasm;
it barely makes a sound.

The anniversary of your death
would not be as memorable
if death was not what you were
destined for
from the start.
It is no surprise
I miscarried you on Halloween
so you would be close enough
to pass through me easily

like a ghost

and you are still haunting me.

Every pregnancy leaves behind
the DNA of the child
in the mother
maybe I still feel you
because you never really left.

Because somehow
you survive in my organs
In the quiet places I
hide
The dark warm world
that was the only home you knew

Millie
I won’t pretend I was the mother
anyone deserved
That I wasn’t spending my life
burying everything I loved
but I don’t know where to stuff
the memories
I’ve run out of places to hide them.
I’ve planted too many secrets
and they always grow back stronger
than before.

Shutting Down

I’m still here, but damn this week has been hard so far. I’m so glad this month is almost over. The last 3 days have been particularly difficult. During my forgiveness meditation this morning, one of my rapists popped into my head. I wasn’t ready for that, but since this rape happened in October, I guess thats just where my mind went. I don’t think about this person much, but I went through the meditation as usual, and I think it was a good step. However, it did bring that event to the forefront and I today have been reminded of him and the other people who have sexually abused me. I started my period 2 days ago, so my emotions are heightened, making each feeling magnified. Channeling the moon blood energy is still something I am trying to master. On Halloween it will be the anniversary of my miscarriage. Ironic that I am bleeding now like I was leading up to that event 4 years ago. Maybe that’s also making things challenging this week.

I almost broke down when I was on the phone with someone today. I wanted to get a personal motivation coach to help me work through some of my business and confidence blockages, so I accepted one of those free coaching sessions (before you actually buy the package). The man who called me sounded frustrated that I hadn’t thought of any questions to ask him, and I was put on the spot to come up with questions without getting a chance to think of them, and I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing or sounding stupid so I froze up, stumbling over my words, not making sense and sounding very very silly and then he laughed…and then I started to shut down. I often shut down when I feel overwhelmed. It’s a coping mechanism I learned when I was a child. Shutting down for me looks like my voice cracking—about to cry—limiting my words to “yes” and “no”, showing no emotion, and feeling worthless. The guy proceeded to use language that sounded authoritative and abrasive: I know the guy was just trying to “talk straight” with me (like motivational coaches try to do), but I feel like that wasn’t really what I needed in that moment. I felt very attacked. I don’t think he was attacking me, but that’s how it felt in the moment. It was a big trigger.

After the phone call I did some more research about the experience of shutting down and disassociating–it’s common for people like me who grew up in or lived in abusive situations. I have many many many many experiences of men standing over me, yelling at me, or berating me—from my father to my older brother, to my romantic partners to male roommates. Having a stranger do it is one of my larger fears and one of the reasons why I have social anxiety in the first place, so I guess that didn’t help (unless the guy knew that all along and was trying to provoke that out of me…which would make him a masterful motivation coach if he could pick up on that within 5 minutes)

Anyways, I can tell I got a bit rattled and triggered by that conversation because I have been drinking beer and smoking cigarettes ever since, but maybe I just have to face those fears. Maybe I need more tools to work through shutting down if I am going to succeed in this world. The hardest part is that when it happens, it is my body reacting in full on “fight, flight, freeze” mode and The physical reactions happen first—my brain kicks into protective mode to shelter me for harm, and my survival instinct kicks into overdrive. I zone out, lose my sense of hearing, feel foggy, etc. I don’t know who I am or where I am in those moments, I feel completely disconnected from my body at all, so pulling my consciousness back is challenging and can take several minutes.

(In this moment I am so very grateful that I have a partner now who is not like other men I have lived with in the past. So very veryveryveryveryvery grateful)

The rest of the “coaching session” went on as planned with the pitch and so on, but I was too far gone to really feel receptive. I really want to have a relationship with a coach who I feel supported by, and this individual didn’t really feel like a good fit for me. I would still love to work with someone who can help me get to where I would like to go…but in a way that feels supportive and safe. I am open and receptive to that possibility. I know the world does not come with a trigger warning(flashback to a couples of weeks ago when I shut down after an older man told me a was a bad mom for bringing my son to a place with a live band), and I would love to work with someone who can teach me how to overcome all of my challenges, including this one.

Until then, I need more chocolate and wine and hot baths in my life.

I am dreaming of January at this point. Let’s get through the next two months in one piece, please.

Wisdom

My grandmother never told me wise things.
She didn’t need to
She knew I had enough experience to know
Where my path was going.
There was never any question
Just a matter of taking each step
No matter what lay in the path.

The only thing she gave me
Was a string I tied around my neck
Each time I stumbled on
An obstacle
I plucked it from the earth,
Thread the fibers through it,
And let it slide down my chest
Until I bore the weight of
A hundred heavy objects

Pain can be like a tattoo
Only you can see
Only you
And those who know the design
All too well
But there is beauty
In turning your scars
Into art.

Seed

My son’s favorite time of year is autumn
We walk around the neighborhood in the evenings
And he points out every pumpkin he sees
“Pun-kin!” “Pun-kin!”
We find them on doors and porches.
On windows and cars
“Pun-kin!”
No honey
That’s not a pumpkin
That’s the man who wants to lead our country.
A man who wants to be looked up to
As the example we see framed
Over classroom doors.
The same man who told us all
He could grab women by the pussy
That his mouth
Was a magnet
To their bodies
That he couldn’t control himself.

My son thinks this man is a pumpkin
He doesn’t see that behind the jack-o-lantern grin
There is something rotting
That the words this man speaks
Could be his model

I think of the man who grabbed me
Pulled me into an alley
And touched my skin
Who called me “devil”
Because I tempted his hands
And told his friends
that my still, unmoving body
was the worst sex he ever had.

I think
Will my son
Fill his own head
With seeds too big to swallow
And then choke those around him
Because one man
Told him
They all loved the feeling
Of being silenced?

Forgiveness

I think I mentioned in a previous post about how difficult October usually is for me. The last 2 days I’ve been triggered by a few things in the media and the world and thinking a lot about the sexual abuse I have experienced by multiple people. I’ve been practicing this forgiveness meditation for the last couple of weeks and it has been helping work through forgiving those individuals and releasing the pain I have carried with me all these years. Please check it out. I highly recommend it: