Monthly Archives: August 2013

An Open Letter to…. the World

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Child-Abuse-stop-child-abuse-34714840-480-537Dear World,

How about we stop abusing kids? The children of today are the leaders and caretakers of tomorrow so let’s stop neglecting them, raping them, taking advantage of them and let them learn and grow the way that they should. Our kids shouldn’t have to recover from their childhoods.

Please understand that child abuse isn’t limited to third world countries and the ghetto. Look around you. It could be your neighbor, your niece/nephew, the person warming the pew next to you in church, that shy kid in Boy Scouts. It can happen to anyone anywhere. A lot of times there isn’t much to tip off a person to sexual abuse but if you, for one second, suspect that a child is being abused, it is your moral duty to report it. If nothing is done by authorities and you know deep in your heart that something isn’t right- report it again and again!

Let’s stop perpetuating the objectification of others. No human is a piece of property. I don’t give a shit what your religion says. Every human being deserves to live the life they chose for themselves. Every child deserves to be given a chance. Parents, stop setting your kids up for failure. Teach your kids about healthy relationships; what is and what isn’t. Girls don’t need to dress provocatively to get ahead in life. Boys don’t need to pretend to be the macho-est guy. Stop putting your little girls in heals and short skirts. It looks ridiculous anyway and it’s bad for their feet.¬† Stop scolding your boys for not making that sports goal. Maybe he’d be better at science anyway. Maybe your daughter would love to play sports some day. Maybe your kids just want to be themselves but they don’t know how because their parents are molding them into weird reflections of themselves or trying to live vicariously through them. Just because your life was shitty doesn’t mean that theirs has to be.

Dearest beautiful people of the world,

what I’m trying to say is: stop being selfish assholes.

Healing Beyond Belief

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All of us deserve healing. We may go about it different ways and take different paths. For some, relying on their faith is what pulls them through. This may not be so for others. I fall into the “others” category. I don’t mean to bring this up to debate about religion or faith but rather shed some light on people like myself and to encourage those that don’t have religious beliefs to rely on. When I first came out about my abuse and cut off my parents, I looked for autobiographies and memoirs to read regarding the subject. I came across one on Amazon that seemed to fit the bill. The first half was great! I felt that I could relate to many of the stories that were told and felt encouraged that I had done the right thing and had quite a road of healing and discovery ahead of me. The second half of the book kind of pissed me off.

The author changed her tune and ended the book with five chapters of preaching her Christian faith. Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone who is a Christian or wishes to profess their faith. What I had a problem with was that readers were being told that they absolutely cannot heal from their past without a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” This angered me and made me sad at the same time. A person does not need to convert to any religion in order to find peace or healing. Take it from me. I’m an atheist. I identify more as a humanist, though, because I see the good in the world and believe that all humans are equal and equally as important. Being and atheist does not mean that I eat babies or worship the devil. I just simply don’t believe in a higher power or an afterlife. I used to. I was an evangelical, pentecostal, washed in the blood, Holy Ghost-filled, on fire Christian for about 9 years. I was saved (converted) when I was 17 and left when I was 26. I don’t want to get into all the reasons why I came to terms with that because it isn’t my goal to deconvert any one or cause a debate. I will just simply say that I cannot force myself to believe something that I just don’t. I believe that it’s better to live an honest life than to live a lie. I hope my readers understand that I don’t want to be fake.

I have a dear friend that has gone through similar heartache as myself and has also had to make similar decisions in her life. She was a confidant for me when deciding if it was time to let my mother go. My dear friend was explaining to me that there are programs for recovery out there that are similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. A big part of that program is believing in a higher power and learning to cast worries and cares to that higher power. That’s all fine and dandy for those that worship something greater than themselves. I understand that some people need that to get through their day and to be a better person. It’s just not for me. I do get worried and I do get overwhelmed with my emotions and thoughts at times. For me, however, I feel that just letting them go into the unknown isn’t owning them and dealing with them head-on.

I, personally, felt that if I wanted to get to the good places in life then I would have to directly deal with my problems. I cannot pray or wish them away. I believe that most of the steps of the AA program do have some usefulness to victims of sexual abuse. Overcoming denial and accepting your past is a huge step. Once I stopped denying that things weren’t dysfunctional and accepted what happened to me, only then was I able to begin to take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions. Until then, I really felt out of sorts and almost out of control. I kept trying to paint a facade to the world that everything was A-okay when it wasn’t. I had to take responsibility for that soon because I had my own family that I didn’t want to drag through the mud any more than they already had been.

If your faith has seen you through and you rely on it for peace and healing, then I don’t blame you! I’m happy for you that you have found what works and what sustains you everyday. Some people leave their faith as a result of abuse or remembering childhood abuse. These people might feel a little lost because they are wondering why or how God could allow this to happen to them. I think we all could agree that this is not something worth beating yourself up over or pondering night after night. This question will never be answered. In the simplest way that I can think is that we cannot control the actions of others… not even God can. People chose their actions even if they are bad and hurt others. I’m so sorry that it happened to you too. I have had to find peace with the fact that my stepfather and mother made their choices and I cannot change that. I cannot change the past or fix them. It is what it is and what happened, happened. What I can do is try to move forward out of negative thinking.

If you have found yourself in what feels like a chasm of confusion over what to believe, trust me when I say to just relax. You will figure it out eventually or maybe never. You may end up like me and not believe in anything and find the most peaceful place in that non-belief. I did! You don’t need to suffer any more than you already have. Try to channel the hurt and confusion into something healthy. Find a healthy place be it spiritually, physically, mentally or socially. Yes, you can be spiritual and a non-believer! Sort of. It’s all about feeling connected to the world around you and gleaning the good things from the people and experiences in your life and expelling those that are toxic and harmful. Meditate, pray, run, exercise, create… I write and cook. I made two batches of muffins today. They were delicious and therapeutic!

Grasshopper

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grasshopperI was originally going to title this post “Exoskeleton” but then I realized that an exoskeleton is there to protect the body and wouldn’t ya know that wouldn’t be my story so the grasshopper seemed more appropriate. Once a grasshopper has reached adulthood, it sheds its old skin “leaving a perfect replica of itself behind.” What does this have to do with my recovery from abuse? Well it does.

Something that I promised myself a long time ago, before I got married and had children, was that I would not be like my mother. Not ever. Much to my disappointment, I became much like her after I had kids. I was really trying to not be but the truth was that I was in denial about a lot of things and when it came to accomplishing my goals I would manage to find numerous excuses for not reaching them. I also was taking on her temper and lack of patience. This broke my heart because I saw myself turning into her and it affected my son.

One day, when my son was 4, he wanted a snack so I told him he could have a piece of fruit out of the fruit bowl. This was before I began taking control of my weight so I was considerably lazy. He went into the kitchen a few times and couldn’t seem to locate the fruit bowl even though it was in the middle of the kitchen on the island. I immediately became frustrated because I was annoyed that I was being inconvenienced by his ignorance. I stormed into the kitchen and pointed to the fruit bowl and very sarcastically and rudely yelled it’s exact location at my sweet 4-year-old boy. His eyes began to well up with tears and at that moment I realized that I better change now or I would become her.

It has been a difficult and hard process to shed that “skin.” Stress was a big factor but too many times I used that as an excuse to lash out on my son. It wasn’t right. It doesn’t matter how much stress a parent is under, a child doesn’t deserve to be the brunt of it. After my daughter was born, I really began to see things differently. The biggest thing right away was me waking up and being fully aware that I was sexually abused. My focus began to shift to protecting my daughter from that monster. I also realized that my son had been exposed to an awful lot of negativity and I needed to reverse that.

In order for me to accomplish any of this I had to cut off the very people who perpetuated this behavior and were holding me back: my parents. That happened back in May. My mother was practically in my head at all times and I was becoming very aware and disgusted at the abuse from my stepfather. It had to happen. Since then I feel like I have seriously come out of my shell, shedding off the person that I used to be and letting go of the person that I don’t want to be. The biggest things have been patience and being non-judgmental. Raising kids requires a lot of patience. They don’t come into this world with the mentality of an adult. They have a lot to learn and they don’t learn the first time. Heck, most of the time they don’t even learn the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time! So, instead of yelling and carrying on about a mistake made, I am striving toward being patient and loving in their learning process.

There was this person that I was turning into that I refuse to be. That person was judgmental, impatient, hateful, blunt and fake. That person was also lazy and full of excuses. I don’t want to be this person anymore and I’m trying to shake her off. Luckily, I didn’t let her completely over take my personality. Some days are better than others. Some days I feel like I just don’t want to be productive and others there is nothing that can hold me back. Writing has been very instrumental in getting me to this place and finding peace with the abuse. Getting my story out of my head and somewhere else has been a crucial part to my recovery and in return has helped me to find myself and begin to emerge from the shell of a person that I didn’t want to be.

Several people have asked me if I’d consider publication. I have considered that but for some reason I don’t feel like my story has reached a sufficient conclusion. For some reason I feel like I really need to put myself out there and accomplish something that I never thought that I could do… like a marathon. I need to end this act with a bang. I ended the last chapter that way, why not keep going? Well, it kind of freaks me out considering that I can really only run like a mile but I think that’s the point.

I feel like that little grasshopper. I’m coming out of my shell. I don’t need to win the approval of my mother any more. I don’t need to keep pretending that everything is alright when it isn’t. I can be a decent human being full of love, grace, and a passion for life because I want to be.

 

It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all

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That line is from Stubborn Love by The Lumineers. It’s really amazing how much music speaks to me and it isn’t so much the harmonies and melodies but more so the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I love the music itself but there just seems to be so much insight in a good lyric. It seems as though most musicians have felt much pain but also much joy. I love the concept of the two. You really can’t have one without the other. How would you know what joy and happiness are if you haven’t experienced pain and heartache? I mean really. We all experience varying levels of emotion but would you really¬†be able to savor the beauty of life without understanding the complexity of the ugly?

This is in no way meant to make light of the emotions and repercussions of our abuse but rather to allow ourselves reasons to find the good things in life. I, in no way, am thankful of my abusive past. I have heard some people say that they are grateful for their tribulations and that they wouldn’t be who they are without them. I agree with that a little. Of course I wouldn’t be who I am without my past but I am not grateful for it. My past doesn’t define me. I am, however, understanding that it is my reality and I accept that. It is what it is and I can’t change that. It has caused me deep pain and permanent scarring but I look at those as my battle wounds since I am a survivor.

I could go on and on about depression and the feeling of absolute nothingness but my point here is that even if you are in the middle of a very painful present, relish it because it will soon be your yesterday. The pain lets you know that you are alive and helps you to see the forest despite the trees. Don’t give up!

Speaking of todays and yesterdays, this song is great too: When the Morning Comes by Delta Rae. Check it out!