Miscellaneous

Repercussions of my ugly reality

I smoked my first cigarette when I was 15.

I had this friend, her parents smoked and she would sneak a few away and hide what became a habit for her, and as it would turn out, for me as well.

When I was fifteen, I went to this high school football game to see the guy I was starting to date, it was a small town in the deep recesses of Georgia and high school football was where everyone gathered on a Friday night.

The popular kids, who were my friends from church, invited me up to their section in the stands. My smoker friend was excited for this, getting an invitation was the first step, so I went.

In the stands on that football field, the guy I was dating, and the girls I was friends with from church seemed thrilled to have me with them, I had this warmth in my heart that I was being accepted, when only moments before I had been scared that the guy I was seeing wouldn’t want to see me since I had confessed to him that I had been raped, but everything seemed so good in those first few moments.

Knowing what I know today, I should have known that they weren’t thrilled, the smile that Lizzy had on her face wasn’t excitement, it was treacherous and manipulative, but I was young and naive. I wasn’t prepared for her to come at me with a full blast of accusatory statements, there was no time for me to get a word out of my mouth. I was embarrassed, humiliated, horrified that everyone knew now and then they all turned their heads away from me. I reached my hand out to touch the arm of the guy I was seeing and he jerked it away, not even looking at me. I burst into tears and he moved past everyone to get away from me.

In shock, I walked down the stairs to leave. I found my smoker friend, she asked me what was wrong but I had already pulled back deep into myself to keep the wounds I felt inside from bleeding any further.

I was broken, she took me to her house, we sat on her bed and she lit a cigarette. I didn’t say anything, I just took it from her, I coughed, choked, but the pain that it caused made me feel better. It took my mind off of the destructive abuse of rape, the searing pain in my lungs momentarily made me forget the humiliation of being shunned by my peers, the high of it – that sharp pain it causes in my brain – filled the void that had been left behind when I felt like I had been stripped and beaten from the inside out.

Today

More than fifteen years have come and gone as a painful blur. I dissociated to save my thoughts from the pain that my body went through, even though the emotions live inside like a black mold eating my body from the inside out. I blocked and blacked out in order to try and survive just one more day.

The healthier the people I surround myself with and the healthier my life gets because of therapy, the more it hurts and the more I hurt myself.

When I would dissociate, I could have an argument and I wouldn’t be present for it, I would go to an inner place in my head while my mouth spewed words that I would later be sorry for. When I am present and I have an argument, the adrenaline spikes and the trigger that it is, causes my face and body to ache in the locations where I have been hit. These areas on my face, my neck, my back, my stomach, my arms, they ache with the hurt of the past.

The monsters of my past haunt me every day and without realizing it, I’ve been helping them.

I felt like I was the worst kind of garbage after years of rape and abuse. I became so broken that deep down I believed I deserved to be treated this way, even though outwardly I was smiling and telling people that I was strong enough to stand.

The repercussion of the physical and psychological monstrosities is that I treat myself like garbage.

I hide from people I love in order to sneak cigarettes because the pain I feel when I smoke fills an ache of pain from my past and I think I deserve that. I drink too much at night in order to make sure that I won’t lie awake in bed terrorized by memories of my past, the headache the next morning … I think I deserve that.

I have stomach issues, lactose intolerance, GERD, and an ulcer, but I don’t stop eating food that is bad for me, because the pain it causes affirms that emotional feeling that I deserve to feel bad.

As it is every day, my vision isn’t clear because I have headaches that build into migraines. My stomach is burning with pain from eating. My neck tension is so severe that when I turn my head I hear cracking noises and pain reverberates, shuddering through my brain.

I panic that every day will be my last because of the amount of stress and pain I feel. I used to think that I was going to die from this pain, suddenly and swiftly.

I think about stopping all of these vices. These vices which have not helped me, but have only monumentally added to the pain I feel. My inner struggle is worry, that without these vices and bad habits – I am afraid I will feel everything. Is the pain from these vices really worse than the ugly reality of what happened?

Is the pain worse than finding out I’m a terrible at keeping a clean house and it isn’t just laziness?

Is the pain and fear worse than tossing and turning for hours, trying to shut out the monsters that haunt me in the dark of night, when the world is silent, but my mind is screaming?

Is it worth the pain and fear of dying sooner in life due to my vices and habits, because they help me dissociate from the agonizing terror of dying at the hands of someone else?

With these vices of mine, I have perpetuated and continued the feeling that I deserve to be in pain and that I deserve to feel bad. As the black tar of cigarettes coats my lungs with every inhale and the bottle of wine half finished is poured into another glass, I tell myself that I will get better, that I will do better, ironically, that is the same thing I used to say when I was being abused.

It is stunningly clear to me today, that the monsters of my past have evolved into new monsters in my present, in the form of things that I can become addicted to.

My addiction is clear for me, I am addicted to not wanting to feel, not wanting to remember, not wanting to look at myself in a mirror and seeing who I have become.

I did not want to acknowledge how I felt about myself, my face, or my body. So I embraced vices and habits that made me numb to everything but the pain that they themselves cause.

I have come to a place in the last few weeks where the vices and habits are making life harder, the purpose they served in the past is missing.

I have nothing to give this world but who I am, if I am numb and my eyes are vacant, I am not living. If I am in pain from a hangover and smoking, giving my body and mind less oxygen than it needs to function, I am only hurting myself.

There is a great quote, unknown to me who said it first, but it goes … I will remember and recover, not forgive and forget.

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I miss the person I once was, I sometimes dream of the person I had hoped to become. This life, with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly, is my reality and I think it is time that I confronted it.

I think it is time I fight for me, for who I want to be, and for what I want out of this life.

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Smile

I used to smile a lot. When I was a child… I’m sure that it was endless. I was a rambunctious little kid with a determinable spirit, in fact, when I was a toddler, my mom walked into the study to find that I had climbed the bookshelves as I smiled and waved to her from the top of the shelf. Either way, I remember smiling, a lot.

I stopped smiling along the way because of rape, abuse, and domestic violence.

Smile

I took this photo at a time where I felt, emotionally, that smiles were perfunctory at best, and I believed this. No one will like you if you don’t.

It isn’t true though, I know that today. I am almost two years past when this photo was taken and I smile now at the most ridiculous things. Sometimes it comes easy, like when I’m with my husband or my mom, they are the most vibrant people I have in my life and they love life, it’s infectious.

I smiled this last week because I am doing something new. I started a job, by choice, not by need. I felt proud and I was excited for what this next step in my future holds for me and I couldn’t help it, I was smiling. Smiling because the office I went to work for obviously had an interior decorator or smiling because the people in the office were so pleasant. Smiling because I will get to see my husband more when he switches out of the current job he is in. Smiling because the air smelled like Seattle rain, coffee, morning traffic, and my awesome Pandora playlist.

I was walking back upstairs to my office today when I came across a man I haven’t met yet, going into his office, he looked about 10 years younger than my father was when he passed away, but from his pose and gentle smile I felt a familiarity, he reminded me of my dad, so I smiled. I smiled because he reminded me of my dad, of love, of happiness, of a man who enjoys life, and who’s enjoyment of life is infectious. The smile was there on me. Then he smiled back.

It was in the next seconds that he turned to me as I passed him and he said – “your smile just made my day.” I looked at him and smiled even larger and thanked him for the compliment … then I passed him, headed towards my office he called out to me “I hope you give that smile to your father every day!” 

It stopped me cold. I didn’t want to say “my father passed away, I miss him more than you can imagine, I wish he could see that smile every day, I wish I could hold him, touch him, hug him, tell him how much I love him…” …… these are things we don’t say in the perfunctory world of passive aggressivo though….. so I turned around and held back my tears as I smiled again and said “I used to.”

I saw the look on his face as he realized that my father was gone, then he said “I hope you will think of him and smile like you just did for me.”

I said that I would, then I walked back to my office and I sat at my desk thinking about how terribly I miss my Dad, but it brought about a new thought for me, why not smile like I would for my Dad? It doesn’t hurt people to see a smile on someone’s face and I think that it is something we are missing in today’s world of duckface and selfie’s.

He traumatized the mundane.

I walked into therapy today not knowing what was on my mind, but when I sat down and opened my mouth there was a flood of words describing this feeling of hopelessness that I’ve been noticing, and sometimes, regretfully, am overwhelmed by. The feeling isn’t with me most of the time, but when it happens, I am undone by panic attacks and I feel depressed about it.

Through the intensive process today, it became stunningly clear where and when I started feeling hopeless about the mundane. You see, my ex, he liked things done a specific way and when I moved in with him he assigned me tasks around the house that were to be done before I left for work for the day. The reason for every day……… “Don’t you care about our home? Don’t you want to take care of our home to make it nice to come home to every day?” I said yes but I felt every day was excessive but since I was 20 I thought that maybe, possibly I didn’t know right from wrong. There was a list for me on the counter when I would wake up in the morning, my tasks for that day. Vacuuming, Clean the mirrors, Dust the insides of CD cases (which were never used), Dishes, and Floors. I would run around like a mad dog trying to get everything done before going to my job. I always felt like I accomplished what was on the list when I left the house, it was spotless, but when I came home, even that first day, there was a note of how I had failed at my chores.

I took the note to him and was laughing about it because I thought it was a joke .. until I saw the vacuum cleaner sitting out in the middle of his office. He told me to pay attention, that this was to help me .. and showed me how to wind the chord for the vacuum in a certain way so that the end with the plug was at the top – for easy access. Then he showed me how I had barely any lines in the carpeting, explaining that he wanted to see clean, straight lines in the carpet. The dishes I had left to dry in the drain, but that was wrong because of water spots, they have to be dried immediately and put away, did I think he would want to see my dishes when he came home? At least I did ok on the mirrors, that was my thought as I went to bed and resolved that I would be better, do better. It never got better, the notes became more aggressive, I was yelled at over lines in the carpet, and physically assaulted over crumbs on the kitchen counter.

At the beginning of therapy I felt awful, that the little things I do around the house have been making me panic and feel hopeless. I didn’t realize how much he traumatized the mundane for me until today. These little chores, these simple activities …. they have been devastating me because he abused me over them, emotionally and physically. Vacuuming wasn’t to clean the floors, it was to avoid being called a failure. Dishes done perfectly … to avoid physical abuse. At the end of therapy, I felt mad, it’s fucking bullshit that he destroyed me over mundane tasks. MUNDANE tasks.

I was driving home and was sifting through why I have panic attacks sitting in the car at a red light. The stillness of the car, but motion of others, the waiting for the green light to happen, waiting, waiting, I always panic, I feel faint, and I’m terrified that I will die. Still, to this day. So I thought I would put it to the test, what happens if I don’t use the avoidance measures that help me and just embrace the panic at a light – see what happens. I did and I panicked hard. I was dizzy and I could barely keep my eyes open from the pressure that comes on so suddenly, but then it passed and I was fine. 20 seconds later my heartbeat was starting to get back to normal. 60 seconds later my breathing starts to come back to normal.

It’s the waiting for the green light, not knowing when I can expect it. I have the same terrorized feeling that I did when I would be on my way back to that house. Not knowing what to expect but waiting for what would happen.

A confrontation of sorts

I used to be unafraid. I remember that. I’m trying to keep that thought present so that I can logically move through the things I face today. Although now, since I know evil personally, I understand the difference between having a lack of fear and being brave, strong. As so many speeches start…. “Webster’s dictionary defines the word ..” brave – as ….. ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

It was less than five years ago that I thought I recognized someone from my past, someone that I knew was volatile and slightly fucking crazy. I didn’t want this person to know I still existed, much less that I was living back in Seattle. Looking back on that day I realize I did not need to be terrified, but I was. We were in a crowded Starbucks in the middle of Pike Place in Seattle, yet, I still snuck up to the barista making my coffee and waved her over urgently. I whispered to her that someone was in the shop that I couldn’t have hear my name, so could she please just hand me my cup when it was done instead of calling my name.

I remember the look on her face when I begged this favor of her. I know that my chest and neck had broken out in hives and that I was sweating and obviously, I looked panicked, but I could see understanding and sympathy in her face. She handed me my drink with a look that spoke of wishing me good luck and I hid behind a group of guys that were leaving on my way out.

Now, that was years ago, but I still avoid certain areas of Seattle and the Eastside based on when and where I know my abuser will be. Yet, when I drive down the interstate near his ext, I panic, I can’t help it. I can be focused on happy thoughts and when I see the turn in the road .. suddenly I can’t breathe and I feel that my death is impending.

All that to say, today, when I went to my regular gas station, I saw a vehicle exactly the same color, model, and year of his. My heart dropped and I expected the panic to hit me, but it didn’t, in that moment I only felt calm. I could see myself clearly, if he were to walk out and confront me, I wouldn’t run, I wouldn’t faint, and I certainly wouldn’t die because he was confronting me.

Do I know what I would say? No. Have I rehearsed it a million times? Yes.

I have run into this man a few times since I left him. An unfortunate circumstance of working in the same city and having to frequent many of the same businesses (incidentally, how we had met in the first place). Running into him after the breakup was a nightmare. I could feel the bruises that were no longer visible in my face and throat when I saw him, I felt the terror in my stomach. Those times that he came up to me, I forced a smile, I hid my shaking, and I stayed civil. He would smile his sick smile and I would count my breaths in and out waiting to escape the office and get to the safety of my car, with my locked doors.

Today was different though. It wasn’t him, no, but I didn’t have a panic attack when I thought it might be. That is huge for me. I feel stronger tonight for not having panicked, I feel that not only will I fight for myself, but I actually can. I wouldn’t classify myself as brave, but I’m a step up from hiding in a corner, so I’ll take it.

In other news, my macbook pro is still under the weather and I’m slightly devastated by this. Off to the apple school of wizards this weekend we will go.

 

I wish you had known me then

My husband. This guy. This amazing man. He changed my life.

If you have read any of my previous posts you know that my life prior to my husband was no less than a series of traumatic disasters, but I didn’t think of it that way. I … I thought that somehow I deserved the abuse I was receiving. I made the excuses for behaviors of my significant others that I should never have accepted. It destroys me, every day, that my sister is doing this now, I feel guilt, that somehow.. that because I made excuses for abuse that happened to me, that she thought she should too, that it is acceptable. She, this beautiful girl, is why I can’t (will not) let abuse get a free pass. All of my shame, guilt, trepidation, hurt…. whatever word you can put there to describe despair at the hands of someone who should love you, I just can’t let it go until she’s free. Until everyone who is abused is free, I think I will end before this journey does.

Back to my original thought though, my husband. I was at a muscular skeletal/sports medicine doctor and because of brilliant doctor logic with barely touching me at all this guy stated a simple fact. “So, someone has strangled you.”  I was startled and I corrected him that I had been choked. ha. The difference? Verbiage. Anyway. I left the appointment devastated that a stranger could know something so personal, when I was driving home I focused on my left hand, my wedding rings, these beautiful things that signify a beautiful relationship, a strong and healthy relationship. The thought occurred to me, what if the doctor thought my husband was my abuser, and the thought of it horrified me.

I look at my wedding rings when I’m having panic attacks. They remind me of strength and safety. For one, on the night that my husband proposed (magnificently), I had been sitting across from the table from him and feeling sure that I was finally strong enough to make it through whatever life threw at me next on my own. Not because I was with him, but because I was separated from the people that had been abusing me. Secondly, on the day of my wedding, I am proud to admit that I walked down the aisle KNOWING that if I were emotionally, verbally, or physically abused again that I would leave. I would go right out the fucking door. He knows this and he agrees with me.

When we were first married, let’s say those first formative four years… plus 12 months, I was destructive. He loved me though. He supported me emotionally, financially, and fed into me that I needed to connect with God for the pain that was in my past. As we’re both Christian that is no surprise, yet his gentle manner, his absolute selflessness is astounding to me as I sit here today. When I was losing my shit over toast being burned he hugged me and calmed me down. It was last week when my therapist asked me what my husband makes me feel in contrast to what my abuser’s did and there were no similarities. When I thought about how my ex used to accuse me, screaming at me, spit flying in my face, of being irresponsible over not cleaning something correctly..like a cd case that would hardly ever be opened but had to be cleaned weekly. Yet…. when I massively fuck up our budget (which has happened more than once…… ) my husband has only ever called to tell me that it isn’t my fault, that it will be fine, that there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s be real… he texts me now instead of calling.. but it’s the same. He doesn’t reprimand me, he doesn’t feel that he is better than me, we are equal in this marriage.

Shared respect. He respects me and I respect him. I was never respected by anyone I was with before him. Not to mention loved, truly loved. The way he looks at me from across the produce section in the grocery store makes my knees weak, not because of lust, heat, passion, (not denying that it might be a huge part of it… he is magnificently sexy)  but because he knows me, intimately, and loves  me. He doesn’t criticize me for the little things…. or the big things. When I’m wrong… I don’t feel BAD about it.. but I used to, always.

I was standing on our balcony tonight thinking…… that… I wish he had known me before any of my trauma had happened. or at least before the panic attacks and migraines. If he had known me then… he would have met and known a girl full of life, love, joy, excitement, enthusiasm and an unending will to succeed. I wish that this man had known me then.

It’s time to change though. For my future.

I … am going to make an absolute effort here in the next few days. Wake up, with no expectations of pain or migraines. Embrace my days with excitement … and enthusaisam.. because I DO have an unending will to succeed.. and I won’t behave anymore. I am me… and I deserve an amazing life.

 

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Consumed

I turned 29 about a week ago. Leading into this birthday, I started focusing on the future, I felt like a switch had been flipped, I needed what has been my life over the last “few” years to change. Then I started counting the years it has actually been, it wasn’t just a few… it has been 9 years, 9 years since I had a nervous breakdown and since that fateful day I have been consumed. Consumed with the horror of what happened, the fear of it happening again, terror of the unknown, panic attacks, and an inability to move forward.

I need this to change. I need positivity, I need hope, faith, strength, endurance, happiness, life. I made a decision on the morning of my birthday to no longer keep focusing on the past, being consumed by it. That has to end, I don’t live there anymore.

I wish I could write about happy things, but what I know, what I have lived, is dark and ugly.

So, final post on the dark truth before I start to shape my writings into something more positive.

I don’t remember my exact age when I was molested, but I was very young, and he had been a trusted family friend who was morbidly obese and could barely move. I never went near him again after the first time he touched me, he did end up going to prison (for touching/raping other girls) and he died there as well.

11, the summer that I stayed with my Grandmother and in those fateful months I lost all of my trust and faith in extended members of family. My cousin accused me of stealing her things, even after proven innocent, I carried the stigma of thief with *most of my extended family. I was a verbal whipping post for my Grandmother and cousin that summer. My sister was taken 75 miles away and I was left alone with them. Slapped every time I objected to being called names, I started to spend all of my time hiding in a room in the attic or outside in my Grandfather’s barn. Years later, I was still the one to blame if something wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

15, when I was raped by someone I met only hours earlier. My best friends and peers shunned me. He threatened to kill me and my entire family if I ever spoke out about it. So I didn’t.

19, when I broke up with a boyfriend who would go on to attack me physically, punching a hole in the wall when I ducked, breaking into the bathroom while I was showering to grab me by the hair and slam my head into the wall, raping me for leaving him.

20, when I moved in with a man who was so emotionally abusive that I would start my day by throwing up from stress, choked me and threw me into furniture when he was drunk and angry, and cheated on me with other men.

20, when I had a nervous breakdown. Which is ultimately what saved my life.

My life today is completely opposite of what happened over these years. My life is amazing, but I am only just starting to heal. That seems to unreal but at 22 I was safe and as each year has progressed I have made healthier choices for my life because I’m learning ….that I’m worth it.

Freshly 29, I see a future and I plan to focus on being the healthiest I can be for it, not on living in my past. Working through what happened instead of letting it consume me.

And removing my makeup every night. After all, it’s time I start behaving like an adult.

See no evil

The eyes are the window to the soul. – English Proverb 

Last Sunday, the Seahawks went to play the Broncos. Diehard 12’s, my husband, my family, and I were amped. At one point I really took notice of my husband’s face and he looked like a kid at Christmas, his whole face was lit up and his eyes sparkled. I took a close look at my mom when she came over and saw that her eyes sparkle too. These two people are the happiest and healthiest people in my life. They have a joy that they just wake up with every day, a great attitude, and a zest for life and you can see it in their eyes.

When I look into my eyes, I see pain, I see a vacant look on my face, and it feels so bleak. I don’t want this. I see bruises that aren’t there anymore and I see memories that I wish I could forget.

I want the sparkle, I want the inner happiness, and I am willing to fight for it, I just don’t know exactly what I am fighting. Fighting ghosts is what we call it, depression, PTSD, night terrors, an inner feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen weighs on me and there is a part of me that is trapped inside, screaming to get out.

Sidebyside

 

Matthew 6:22  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

I don’t remember what day it was that the light left my eyes, but I know it was many years ago and I’m only just getting to a place where I’m fighting to get it back. I know what it has been like for me, but I am having an even harder time watching it happen to my sister. My heart hurts remembering that I saw the light and sparkle in my sister’s eyes leave on the day of her wedding. She carries the vacant look that goes along with the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Abuse sucks the life and the light out of us. With every fist and kick, the breath that is knocked out of you from a physical abuser can take away the sparkle and light that once was a part of us. With every tear that comes shaking out of us from the unkind words, slanderous speech, vindictive behavior, and negativity of an emotional abuser, our eyes cease to glow.