Untitled poem

 

TRIGGER WARNING: Please be advised that this post could be triggering. Take gentle care when reading. This poem is about my anger at society, myself and partially the attackers. 

 

Tangled nerves and troubled thoughts, 

nothing but forget-me-not‘s. 

A body of uncertainty, 

resides within a hopeful shame. 

Swallows me whole when I hear your name. 

Memories play on repeat-

fear fills my chest and now I can’t breathe

Silently I weep alone, 

no one wants to hear me drone. 

My stifled cries go unknown. 

Pinned and pained as darkness falls-

another monstrosity you add to your wall. 

Hung up and framed-pretty picturesque, 

a trophy to claim on how you unquestionably took my innocence away. 

It’s my fault-a claim at false, 

but I cannot change the reasoning so seemly etched in stone. 

It isn’t fair and it’ll never be right-

but I made a solemn vow that night. 

A promise to myself to live again-

without question of my own distaste. 

 

 

Update

Hello my lovely fellow bloggers! So sorry I haven’t written in a while, my life has been a bit crazy. Here’s an update for you all. 

I started seeing a new therapist because the therapist I had for 8 years wasn’t beneficial to me anymore. I needed to talk and she couldn’t listen-this is because she is in a different place mentally than I am. She just learned about my trauma a little less than a year ago and I’ve lived with it for 9 years. It is nothing new to me. But she is still coping with this. And that’s OK. This new therapist is doing some trauma work with me. 

I made the decision to switch therapists after my anxiety increased so much that I was not able to function properly there for a bit. It is much now. The new therapist is showing me some new techniques to help bring my anxiety back to a normal level and it’s actually working really well! I’ve been working my way through my list of triggers and coming to terms with them and working on desensitizing myself from them. That is going decently well. Some of the desensitizing exercises for my triggers make me a bit uncomfortable still. 

I see her again tomorrow and I think I’m going to take a big step. She suggested last week that I should tell my story because it could be really healing. And I think I’m ready to do that, really ready this time. I’m scared and a bit nervous (tomorrow I’ll be a ridiculous mess of nerves) but I think I’m ready. I feel really comfortable with her and I know she isn’t going to judge me. There is only going to be 4 more weeks of trauma work because in 4 weeks school ends, so then I will no longer see my new therapist and will then go back to the original one. 

I will try and keep this blog updated a bit better. Any suggestions on posts? 

Stay strong ❤

xoxo

Thinking

So sorry for the delay in entries. I’ve been contemplating life. Yes, I have my bad days too-sometimes lots of them. And sometimes my bad days are really dark-sometimes they are so dark that I think about going back to a time when nothing was going right and a time that I was withering away. I think about going back to my eating disorder, to the negative thoughts, to letting myself just be completely numb….some days that sounds so nice.

 

But, here’s the reality. That time wasn’t nice. It was terrifying. That portion of my life was so dark-yes, no one knew about what I was trying to cover up, what I was trying to deal with. Even my therapist was completely clueless. I learned at a young age that I didn’t matter, that my obligation was to keep quiet and take care of everyone else. And for a long time, that’s what I did.

And then after I earned three degrees, I decided to go back to college. Here I am, 22 and back in school. But this time I wasn’t isolated with my family, I wasn’t in the same town where the rape occurred; this time I was on my own, with a whole new set of people. I was in the care of myself, and I was scared. I had never had to worry about myself before…and then came all these emotions about what had happened when I was fourteen. Things felt shaky and then came the flashbacks, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the restless nights-but with all those negative changes, some really positive ones were around the corner too. 

I started to see a new therapist, one that specialized in sexual assaults. I joined a group for sexual assault survivors and I told my story for the very first time. Again, I was terrified. Would I be rejected for telling my story? Would the people I opened up to shame me for being honest? What I found shocked me. I was welcomed with opened arms-I was comforted. My emotions and experiences were validated. And finally, finally after 9 years I had started to heal. The people I met were amazing, the people that called me out on my emotions and made me own up to what I was feeling-those are the people that matter. Those are the people that I miss so very much right now. They are my support and they are always in my heart, holding it and letting it do what it does best. 

There is so much heartache confined within my heart that sometimes it’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to imagine ever being anything but hurt. But within the past few months, between group and individual therapies, friends-somewhere in this short six months I finally know what it feels like to have something grow from the devastation. Slowly, all that negative and hurt is being overtaken by the blossoming of something good. Right now, I cannot put a name on it-I don’t know what this feeling is and maybe it will never have a name. 

Right now I feel so much at once and it’s hard to let the good override the bad because sometimes I feel like things are falling apart. But still, I hang on and take it day by day. Sometimes I am forced to take it minute by minute and when that happens I have to know that is enough. I have to know that I am doing everything I can in my healing process. 

And you have to know that whatever you are doing is enough because right now, with the resources you have, you are doing enough. You are enough. Take time to take care of you. 

The Breakdown Of Triggers

So, a few blogs back I made an effort to talk about triggers. I would like to revisit this topic because really, triggers play a huge role in survivors trying to heal. The last post about triggers was pretty general in the sense of what you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety you may be feeling. But this post is going to be more personal; more of how I personally handle triggers. 

 

So as we all know triggers are things that make us feel emotions that we may not want to feel at a certain time. Triggers can take many forms. Here are my triggers: 

  • Walking alone at night.
  • The anniversary date. 
  • Law and Order SVU (this is a newer trigger for me). 
  • Hearing people joke about sexual assault. 
  • Certain smells. Sometimes the smells are carnival foods because the rape occurred at a carnival, sometimes the trigger is the smell of someones body odor that reminds me of the attackers. 
  • Certain noises that are sudden or sneaky. These are things like footsteps behind me. 
  • People coming up behind me and scaring me. 

All of these things invoke terror within me. For a long while I couldn’t function when some of these things happened. For example, when I had to walk across campus at night I became so paranoid that someone was following me that I began to have a panic attack. I had to call my roommate and my RA to come and get me. I was literally about 150 feet from my dorm but I was just couldn’t move, all I could do was cry and shake. The phone call to my roommate scared her; she could barely make out what I was saying and she an my RA had to figure out where I was. 

The anniversary date is always the hardest for me, especially if I’m in my home town. It isn’t uncommon for me to spend the day having flashbacks to the incident. When I’m doing nothing but thinking about the rape, then I become a mess; that’s why now I try to take my mind off of my thoughts.

The last post about triggers talked about things that could help you deal with the triggers. Some of those items are ones that I personally use to help cope. Triggers are hard to deal with, so the point is to help get rid of the anxiety you are feeling. I’ll be honest, trying to get your mind off of the past isn’t always full proof.  It took me a while to figure it out, and sometimes I still have trouble with it. 

I use yoga to help me connect my mind with my body. This doesn’t work for everyone but it does work for me. Sometimes even the most basic of yoga moves helps me calm my mind. I know that without a calm mind I can’t balance and without balance I can’t do yoga as I normally would-so this is a motivation for me. 

Music is something that I’m always connected to. I love all types of music. Sometimes healing moments come from just sitting in a room with my head phones in, breathing and listening to music. Anything by Tracy Chapman is a huge help in dealing with my triggers. 

Keeping a journal is also helpful. In my journal I write down all my thoughts, both positive and negative and then I just leave them be. Writing down how I feel helps me sort out all of my emotions and helps me validate what I’ve been through. 

 

Ultimately, you how you deal with triggers is a personal choice. And you have to find out what works best for you. Everyone is different and so is every story. Here are a few helpful hints: 

  • If you feel like you need to think about what happened to you, allow yourself only a select few minutes of the day to do so. This way you aren’t constantly thinking about it and weighing yourself down with the memories. 
  • Make a certain time of day “you time.” You can use this time to journal, listen to music, do yoga or try something new. 
  • Don’t punish yourself for feeling triggered. Being triggered is completely normal. Instead of punishing yourself say “what do I need right now?” By asking that question you force yourself to think about yourself and what you really need, whether that be emotional support, talking, etc. 

Dealing with triggers is important. Find your own way to cope when you feel triggered; this will help you feel more centered and balanced.

Happy healing. xoxo

A Message

Today’s post doesn’t have a particular and dedicated topic, it’s more of an observational piece I suppose. A rant, if you will. 

Recently I’ve noticed a few things; and honestly I don’t even know that I could say they have been noticed as much as they have been felt. But feelings are noticeable so I suppose we’re right back to the noticeably thing. Anyway, these things I’ve notice, as much as I hate to admit it, scare the hell out of me. I know, we’re all scared at times and of different things and for different reasons, but the only thing I know is that there is fear within me. And dealing with it is hard. Maybe some of you have felt these fears too. 

First, I’m afraid of fully healing. I know, maybe this sounds a bit warped and it isn’t that I don’t want to heal but rather I don’t really know what it’s supposed to look like. I’ve been so incomplete for so long that its hard to imagine what ‘whole’ looks like, what it feels like. And maybe being whole is a completely unattainable goal-is anyone every fully and completely whole? Probably not. 

And then I wonder, can passersby see just how broken I am-can they see right through me, look into me and know all that I’ve been through. Silly, but a fear nonetheless. 

Something within me feels shaky and provoked; part of that feeling is anger. And it is justified, completely and without a doubt justified. But when will I stop being angry? Sometimes the only emotion I feel is anger; anger at THEM, anger at my fourteen year old self, anger at society for telling me it’s my fault. Because it isn’t-what happened to me is not my fault. What happened to you is not your fault. And the uncertainty we feel on a daily basis isn’t OK. 

Then there is that never ending up and down battle with satisfaction; the satisfaction of myself and of others. Feeling good enough, or not so much. Feeling loved, and not feeling loved. Feeling heard but really there is no one listening…is anyone listening. 

But then there are days, days like today that are beautiful. Days like today that remind me that I am a good person. That my heart is not tainted by the men who violated me. Today I saw the beauty in the simple things, even within myself and that’s how I know healing is worth it. I won’t sugar coat this-sometimes I hate healing. Sometimes I feel it would just be easier to go back to a world of angst, eating disorders and crippling anxiety and panic disorder. But then something happens, sometimes-no, most times, something happens that is so small and simple that it shouldn’t even matter, something ‘good.’ And that something, whatever it may be reminds me to keep going-yes, sometimes I am literally crawling through the messes of life, but I’m still moving. It maybe slow, and painful but it is a pace. It is my pace, as tragic as it seems sometimes, it is mine. 

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I’m writing  this post so that you’ll know even a soon to be therapist has issues with healing. Healing isn’t clean cut-in fact most times I feel like I’ve been left with a puzzle and told to put it back together, only I don’t have all the pieces. But every now and then I find another piece and I add it to my collection of carefully placed pieces. One day it’ll all fit together, just when you least expect it. Healing is messy but it really is a beautiful mess-it’s worth it. We all have bad days; days where coping seems like a lost art and days where we want to give up…but as cliche as it sounds it does get better. We are strong. We are valuable. We are warriors…We are survivors. 

 

xoxo

Understanding the Connection Between Body Image and Sexual Trauma

Everyone, male and female, has issues with body image. But for us, for the survivors of sexual traumas, body image is deeply rooted. Here I am going to talk about body image in relation to sexual assault. Take care of yourself while reading and if at anytime you feel triggered, please take the time to focus on yourself and gather your thoughts. 

 

So, body image, as we all know, seems to be an epidemic in today’s society. It is something that even people who have not experienced sexual traumas have trouble with. I’m not going to blame society (not entirely anyway) for all of this, even though society is at partial fault. So, before you turn away from this page completely and ride it off as a bunch of feminist crap, keep reading, OK? 

Remember me saying that body image isn’t only societies fault? Well, the other half of that blame goes to the perpetrator or the one who committed the crime. Right now you’re probably glaring at the computer screen trying to figure out where this is going, but I can assure you it is going in a just manner. Stay with me….

It’s the perpetrators fault because THEY made the choice to assault you, to hurt you and traumatize you in some way. It’s THEIR fault because you never asked for this to happen, you were innocent. Yes, that’s right, you were completely innocent. It doesn’t matter what you were doing, what you were wearing, where you were or if you were sober or under the influence. You were and still are COMPLETELY INNOCENT! 

It’s the perpetrator’s fault because that person(s) touched you in ways that you should never have had to experience unless you had asked for it, and you never asked for that. That person stole a bit of your innocence that day(s) that the incident occurred. He/she took everything that felt sacred, took everything that felt like it was yours. 

Think about it: from the time you were born, whoever took care of you taught you right from wrong and they probably also taught you the importance and difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.” Those people that cared about you taught you that there were ‘private’ places on your body that no one, not even you was supposed to touch. But then someone took advantage of you (of me) in some way and in a sense that person(s) ruined you, ruined your ‘private’ place. And that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t right. Maybe the person(s) told you not to tell or maybe they threatened you in some way to keep you quiet; and with the silence comes guilt. Guilt of what was done to you and so unfairly asked of you. Maybe they shamed you in some way or made comments about your body and what it looks like, how it functions. 

And because of those comments and those touches, you feel ashamed. You feel soiled and ruined and like the person(s) who did this to you will forever be inside of you and on your skin. I get it, believe me I do. Not only are you ashamed of what happened to you but you’re ashamed of the body you have; the body that they took advantage of. In fact, you may even be scared of your body. And really all you want is control over something because nothing else is going the right way, and so you choose to control your body in some way. You take out your hatred and anger on the only thing that seems to have deceived you; your body. 

 

Everyone controls differently and there are many ways in which a person may try to control themselves or control life; the vast majority of these controls come in the form of an addiction. I will not list those addictions here. It is normal to long for and want control BUT it is the way you gain control that is important. If you control your body, emotions or life by a form of addictive control or harmful control please seek help. You are far to valuable an asset to be lost to this world. 

For me, I felt and sometimes still feel negatively towards my body because of what happened. In fact I don’t ever remember having a large amount of body image issues before I was raped. But the way I feel is not my fault and it isn’t your fault either. The blame falls on the perpetrator.

It wasn’t OK for that person(s) to hurt you and take advantage of you the way they did. It wasn’t OK for them to take something so private and personal from you without your consent. You never asked for that, but you are the one that has to deal with the repercussions of their choice.  Know that you handled or are handling your situation the best way that you know how, and that’s OK. This healing journey is yours and yours alone; you control the journey. Control, yes, you DO have control over this process of healing-you can control to take back the rights to your body. 

Take care, xoxo

“I am over the …

“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?” -Eve Ensler

This quote is dear to my heart. It is beautifully stated and offers many provoking thoughts. 

Dealing with Triggers

Triggers can be hard to cope with, but ultimately it is important that you do handle them. Triggers can be anything that bring out negative emotions and everyone has different triggers. It seems nearly inevitable that triggers present themselves when dealing with sexual assault, remember that you are not bringing out the triggers; the triggers bring themselves out based on situations.

Triggers can come in any form: for me, I am triggered by night time and being alone at night, anniversary dates of the rape, some TV shows, certain songs, and at times smells. Occasionally I will be triggered by something and not even be able to pinpoint what it is that triggered me-it is important that triggers be identified so that they can be dealt with when the time arises. Traumatic events and triggers go hand in hand; here are a few things you can do to help cope with triggers.

  • Talk to a trusted friend, relative or even a therapist
  • Journal
  • Try doing some yoga or another form of physical activity
  • Scribble on a piece of paper, finger paint, color in a coloring book
  • Listen to music
  • Take a hot shower
  • Watch one of your favorite movies
  • Think of five positive things about yourself and repeat them a few times each
  • Cry
  • Hold onto a stuffed animal or other soothing object
  • Sit outside in the sunshine

These are only a few options in coping with triggers. If you feel that the triggers are too intense and that you cannot handle them, seek help. Call your therapist or a medical care provider if you feel suicidal or if you are having intense flashbacks. Healing from trauma is rough at times, triggers make healing even harder to handle at times but it is important to seek help and coping mechanisms to help take care of yourself.

Take care, xoxo