Number 3 – RAPE: Rise Against Punishable Eccentricity

The third and final post in the RAPE:  Rise Against Punishable Eccentricity challenge to join the movement to raise our voices in the fight again Rape and Sexual Assault, as well as lift our voices in unison toward helping women feel empowered to take charge and take action.

I particularly love this one because it’s quintessential Susan (the Green Thumb Goddess).  She can always pack a wallop in her poetry but I think she especially nailed this one.  The seed planted here is powerful, visual, and easy to relate to.

I would also like to thank my daughter-in-law Lindsay for allowing me to use her beautiful face in this image.  While she’s not a victim of sexual abuse…she absolutely ‘gets’ it!

A side note:

Women do not have to be victims of abuse to feel like and see that ‘stranger’ in the mirror…sometimes lost, sometimes less than, too often unrecognizable.  Because I know that feeling all too well, not just as a survivor, but as a woman in general, there’s an added incentive to lead by example; to show that we must not be silent; we must not become part of the backdrop of someone else’s life; we must not lose sight of who and what we are…special, unique, and empowered to change the world by virtue of our voices, our minds, and not the least, raising our children.

We must step up and out of the supporting role and take the lead when we need to; show our sons and daughters that just because we plant and tend the garden, it does NOT make us gardeners.

And our choice to be housewives, does NOT mean we are ignorant of the world outside our four walls.

If our choice is to be stay-at-home mothers, it is just that – a choice.  NOT an open door to disrespect, condescension, or a sign that we feel ourselves unworthy.  If anything…it’s the complete opposite. 

Here then, for her, you, me, us….WE 

Stranger by Susan Daniels and Rhonda

Stranger

Number 1 – Rape Hurts     Number 2 – She

Thank you Susan, it was an absolute pleasure to be part of this with you.

And, thank you all for reading.

Two Steps…Yeah…Then One

Two steps forward

One step back

Why?

Why ask why?

It does no good

For every day of sun…

There are two of clouds

There’s a lesson here

I know there is

An opportunity to learn

To grow

But when is it okay to say enough?

No more school

I’m tired of school

School of life; school of love; school of fish…

It’s all the same

Two steps forward

One Step back

When we are close to the edge, trying our best

Little things become more than little things

They become

Bigger than we can deal with in any given day

On tHaT day

When is it okay to say

Enough?

Just

Enough!

Ever?

Wishful thinking?

Testing faith?

Thinking we are more important than we are?

Don’t know

Don’t care

E n O u G h

Tired of the tears

Tired of snot running down my face

Tired of feeling life is bigger than I am…

e N o U g H

Pretending is a ten letter word disguised as a four letter one

Take your pick

Fuck…Shit…Hell…Damn…

E N O U G H

Losing a marriage

Losing love

Finding love

Losing love

Losing love again

Finding love

Losing sight

Losing perspective

Losing…

Gaining should be the thing

And would be…

BuT

ENOUGH

Of the one step forward and two steps back

ENOUGH

Of the two steps forward one step back

Just

Fucking God…Enough

The year that broke the dam

Today’s post is the anniversary post I had planned for yesterday. As is often the case, life intervened. And in retrospect, I’m glad it did. Terrified, but glad.

You see, I was prepared to reflect on this last year alone. Lord knows it’s been a year like no other for me. But over the course of the last couple of days, I’ve realized that’s not enough. Not even close. It must go beyond that.  It must be shared how a photograph of an eagle…

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To have missed this would have changed it all.
To have been witness to this, did change it all.
Change is life.

a beam of light

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Light through the dark.
All you need do is look.
And believe…it’s for you.

…a kind word of encouragement from a friend, and a blog can change the world.  My world. And I hope, in some way, someone else’s.

I must talk of how my past blew a hole in my present and almost destroyed my future, yet didn’t. And I hope, somewhere in here, before I’m done, I will show too, just how much I’ve gained this last year; in love, friendship, self-esteem, self-reliance, …hell, let’s just say self.  That’s the biggie.

The mirror I’m looking in today is one that goes beyond my image.  Beyond the face that shows subtle signs of age in the soft wrinkles in the corners of my eyes and mouth, and the 50 shades of gray. This mirror mirror on the wall…tells the secrets, tells them all.

Yes, and it’s been a long time coming. And I’m not alone in my many dimensional mirror. I see image, beyond image, beyond image times a thousand, of half woman/half girl, half man/half boy faces that all have the same haunted eyes, looking back at me, silently screaming.

The screams have been heard.  The faces have been seen and are known.  The old, the young, the gone, the living…mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews, friends and strangers; all once children, young adults, adults, of abuse.  They are with me, in front, behind, and beside me.  They are me. They are you. But since I’m the one on this side of the mirror, I’ll speak; for them; for me.

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All things in their time
The time is now
Open the flood gates

Why a dam? It’s built to withstand years of stress and pressure. To give that which is needed when it’s needed, and not before. It’s there to hold back that which is as deadly as it is life-giving. It has a built-in relief system…its flood gates.

We are very like this dam, we human beings.  Our bodies and our minds are built to withstand years of stress and pressure. We can take a life as quickly as we can give it. We cater to those with needs, giving what is needed, when it’s needed, and not before. And we too have built-in relief systems. Plural. For we have many. Not all good, not all healthy, and certainly not all lasting. But we each do what we have to do to survive. It’s in our nature. To survive. Or try to. Some do. Sadly, a great many don’t. Some do their best to just survive. Some go beyond, make a difference, help others with faulty or stuck relief systems.

This last year of blogging; specifically, the meeting of a surprising number of kindred souls in this community, has shown me that whatever forces are at work, led me here for a reason. This is no accident.  Not even a happy one. It is just as it has to be.

Things happen for a reason? All things in their own time? I’m no expert on the human condition, nor am I a philosopher.  But yes, these things I believe. At least, I believe them now. There was a time not so long ago, my belief system was quite different. Why? Because there is no reason in this world or any other I could ever imagine a right reason or right time for abuse. Of any kind. Of any one. Most especially though, child abuse, and God forbid, sexual abuse.

It is of that I speak. Here. Today. Openly and for the first time, terrifyingly public; beyond the false walls I built around myself at a very young age. In this last year, the walls have begun to crumble, and I’ve found that the hands I reached out to others in empathy and compassion, have been taken and touched in kind, and placed safely into a human chain of compassion and support I’d not known until now. Not because it wasn’t there; because I’d never reached before. I was busy keeping my fortress secure. To say blogging helped change my life would be an understatement…it, an eagle, and a beam of light, saved it.

This is the sledgehammer that’s going to take down what’s left. Not just to set myself free, but to reach the one, or the ten, or the hundred, who need to know they are not alone and they are not broken.  Bruised, battered, scarred, hurting beyond hurt, and isolated, yes.  But not broken, and not alone, and not AT FAULT.

I used to think remembering and reminding myself of the details were important. It’s not.  It’s toxic. The devil’s in the details? You’re damn right he is. I kept each detail locked in my fortress, either framed and hanging on the wall like a treasured photograph, hanging on a hook in my closet ready to be taken out and worn like a cloak, or hiding under the bed enmeshed in those evil wind dancing, webs that have been catching and holding years and years worth of dirt; years of details wrapped in a cocoon and saved for later…

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Oh the tangled webs we weave
In our minds
Just to survive

…Enough!  Walls down. Light in. Broom in hand.

Time.

Now.

There’s no more room.

I have always wondered, and I know other survivors do also, who I would have been had things been different. Who I was supposed to be. I shall answer the first here…the second, at the end.

  • Would I still feel the need for approval or validation for everything I do?

This is a hard one. And at this moment, all I can say is definitely/maybe not. I’m not there yet, but the more I learn of myself, the more I know that I am quite capable of deciding if what I’m doing is right, or good, and the only one I need approval from, or validation for my deeds or actions, is me. Same goes for consequences. Mine. As with the devil’s details…blaming the past or hanging onto past hurts only keeps me in the dark and they too need to see the fat end of the broom.

  • Would I still agree to do things I don’t want to do to make someone else’s life easier or happier at the expense of my own?

I’m hoping I would have been able to find a balance here. I don’t want to cause hurt or pain to others, but over the years this trait has been detrimental to my own sense of self-worth.  I do believe this trait will be going out the door with the webs, with a more healthy one in its stead.  Not born of conceit or over indulged self importance…one born of kindness and compassion yet with the awareness that I am worthy of the same consideration.  This is a big one.

  • Would I still be empathetic to the point of physical discomfort?

Yes, unequivocally, yes. This will not change. And I don’t want it to. Or it won’t change because I don’t want it to. Either way, it stays.

  •  Would I still be 100% confrontational within my own family circle, yet 100% against/afraid of confrontation outside of it?

I think I already proven to myself that this is history. (right service manager Denise?)

As for the family confrontational dynamic…well part of that is genetic (yes it is..we French love to argue).

Kidding aside, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel here.  A big part of this trait that can appear akin to someone with a chip on their shoulder; a (disguised) resentment born out of my sense of not being protected. But maybe even more, not being recognized.

For me of course, it was obvious.  I knew the taint was visible, I saw it every day.  But I know that’s not the way of it.  And I will say something about that in a moment…but I do know, without question, it was not from lack of love. Still, I did harbor that resentment and anger for a very long time. Its departure is another recent event, and frankly, one I’m glad to see out the door.

What I wanted…needed…to say about the ‘not being recognized’ is this, and I’m coming at this from both perspectives, my own perspectives; as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, date rape, and as a parent.

Parents work. Yes

Now more than ever. Yes

One, both, inside the home, outside the home…work. Yes

We have no choice if we are to provide what we need to care for, and make better lives for, our families, if we chose to have children. Yes

Children require work. Yes

Now more than ever. Yes

Day care, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, primary school, elementary school, middle school, high school…sports, jobs, cars, dating, college.  It’s never-ending. Yes

What do we need more of?  Time? Patience? Energy? Help? Yes to all the above.

What do we do if we are out of/never had any/can’t get any of the all the aboves?

we see a child crying or having a tantrum and tell her to please, please stop or go to her room – we see a shy little boy and make him go outside and play with the kids next door – we see a shy, chubby adolescent and enroll him/her into an activity or put them a diet because no one wants to have their child picked on for being fat – we are at our wits end with the surly teenager who never smiles and can’t wait for him/her to outgrow this phase – we see a young man or young woman making self-destructive life decisions and lecture them about the dangers of sex, drugs, and rock -n- roll (or rap, or heavy metal, or country…makes no difference).

These are all normal, everyday scenarios in the lives of most families.  And will continue as long as we have children.  So what’s the problem.  This…

what if hers is a cry for help without the words to express it – what if his shyness is fear of being away from home or out of your sight because he’s been molested and told he will be punished if he tells – what if the chubby little darling is substituting food for the right kind of attention and hiding their perfect little selves in fat from the wrong kind of attention – what if that surly teenager has a dark secret and thinks no one will understand but knows if you really, really looked, you’d see it without them saying a word, please don’t make me say it – and what if those self-destructive decisions are just that…an attempt at self-destruction for fear of someone knowing, the pain of someone not knowing, and the shame with having said nothing.

We need to stop looking through our children. Stop making assumptions based on our own lack of time, energy, patience, or help.  Things are not always what they seem.  Sometimes they are just what they appear to be…but the time it takes to really look at your children, talk to them, is worth more than any paycheck.

We talk a lot about bullying.  It is rampant these days.  But is it really ‘these days’?  Or have we just been too busy to notice it before.  Bullies are not born.  They are made.  It’s not a stretch to imagine an abused child becoming a bully is it?  Can one who is bullied, beaten, molested by an adult not just as likely to turn his/her anger toward someone weaker or smaller?  We don’t always turn inwards.  Some cope another way.  There is never an excuse for bullying.  But I’d be more inclined to ask my son or daughter the hard questions if I ever saw or heard of them bullying others.

And finally, to answer the second of the questions…Who was I supposed to be?

Well, that one is becoming more clear.  Me. Right here, right now. Me.  And that’s just fine.

 

The More Things Change…

“The more things change the more they stay the same”

I’m sure you’ve all heard it.  I KNOW you’ve all heard it.  It’s been around since the dawn of bitchin’ and moanin’.

It’s been several days since I’ve had a thought I felt worth sharing.  And today started the same way…empty.

That’s a word I’ve come to know very well.  It’s not a good word in any capacity that I can think of…

empty bank account

empty wallet (because of the empty bank account one would assume)

empty fridge

empty gas tank

empty glass

empty heart

empty feelings

empty mind

empty empty empty (such a strange word when looked at so closely)

I have decided this word is creeping into my everyday life way, way, too often.  And it’s pissing me off.

Is it the winter?  The, oh so cliché but oh so real, cabin fever?  I don’t know.

But, today the sun broke through, so I ventured outside.  With no plan other than soaking up that which has been missing for too long.  The light, the warmth, the overall feeling of hope that things will be okay.

As a winter lover, I hesitate to blame these empty days on lack of sunshine and warmth.  But as a woman in transition, I’m more hesitant to blame it on something else.  That would mean taking responsibility for my own feelings, right?

Like those feelings of self-pity?  Depression?  Lack of self-confidence?  Oh woe the fuck is me?  Can it be I’m allowing these dark, snowy days I used to look forward to, give me an excuse to stay inside and hide from the world I don’t always feel ready to face?

Yes.  Yes, yes, and yes.  That is exactly what I was doing.  And it took two people, my Yin and my Yang, to get me up and out into that light.  One is the left, the other the right.  The past and the future.  Opposite ends of my journey.  But they managed to meet in the middle…me…I am the middle ground.

The left says…”Get up and get moving; no one can fix you but you; I’m here but I can’t fix this; fix you.  You have to. I’ve told you I love you, but frankly I’m sick of your whining.”

The right says…”I love you and am always here for you. I wish I could make things better, but you must choose to be happy. There are things you can do, support is out there, use it.”

Okay, I paraphrased, but that’s the gist.  Love on the left; love on the right; me in the middle, feeling empty for NO good reason.

What is WRONG with this picture?

ME…that’s what.

So…why did I title this post “The More Things Change…?”

Because this is a pattern for me.  A pattern I need to change.  The more things have changed in my life, the more I’ve fought the changes.  And NOT the changes themselves.  No, it’s the roller coaster of ‘it’s the right thing, it’s the wrong thing, it’s exciting, it’s scaring the shit out of me, I’m worth it, who are you kidding’, emotional roller coaster.  Not the obvious ones, like divorcing after 31 years.  THAT deserves a roller coaster ride…and what a ride it has been.  But, for the most part, I can say that ride is over.  The extremes anyway.  Figuring out where we go from here is the next ride, but it’s not a roller coaster, it’s more akin to the Tea Cup…up,  down, and all around, sometimes sickening, sometime exhilarating, but always an end in sight.

This is not it.

It’s the bi-polar, manic-depressive (as a way of explanation only, she tells herself) emotions that I’ve allowed myself to fall victim to when things in my life don’t go the way I want them to.  I allow myself to lash out at those that love me for no other reason than the dog just doesn’t understand.  Seriously…if the damned dog would just say ‘I get ya Ma, I feel for ya Ma, now can I have a treat?’ I’d be better off.

Instead, I lash out, cry, feel empty, look at my life as a black hole instead of realizing I have a tremendous amount of love and support to be thankful for.  From the left and from the right and from everywhere in between.

That it took a short sojourn out into the sun to put things back in perspective is a little strange maybe.  But I am not questioning it.  If a bit of bright light and vitamin D turn my empty thoughts into ones filled with hope and remembrances of the love I have in my life; past, present, and future; then I say bring on the sun.

You are my sunshine…my only sunshine…you make me happy…when skies are gray.

Here comes the sun…get out there and ABSORB it!