I lost another friend this week
I am So Fucking Angry
Sexual assault has permeated my entire life
I am so weary
So incredibly sad
and so very very angry
Just to be clear
To ensure you are hearing me
I will say it again
I AM SO FUCKING ANGRY RIGHT NOW
I have spent the best part of my life surviving
The best part
55 years of my life
surviving 10 years of childhood sexual assault
I have spent the past 10 years healing
As I have healed
and become more vocal, open,
I have had countless approaches
from other victims
from families of victims
asking for help, understanding, a shoulder, an ear
Every persons story is different
But every story is the same
When you are a victim of sexual assault
It takes every ounce of your energy every day
every single fucking day
to stay alive
When/if you can finally face your traumas
When/if you can finally stand firm in your wobbly standfirmedness
Grasping tentatively for strength
every moment of every day
And proclaim with some sense of achievement
‘I am a Survivor’
No matter how much healing
No matter how much happiness you find
No matter how much you learn
No matter how much communication improves
the very core of you
neurological damage to the brain which you never fully recover from
Danielle explains perfectly
“I feel like there was a version of me that disappeared the day I was abused for the first time. Those few minutes became the point at which the before disappeared and the after began.”
We all know
well those of us that have are damaged understand
the diagnosable obvious recognisable resulting behaviours
and these are just the obvious, the most common
there is so so much more….
But lets really get very real here folks
Sexual assault tortures
It tortures the soul of you
It exhausts you
Sexual assault kills
It kills communication
It kills conversation
It kills your spirit
It kills your soul
It kills your mind
It kills relationships
It kills families
It kills people
And to my friend
I just want to say
I really really do hear you
I understand you
I understand your pain
I don’t need to hear your story
I also know how so important it is for you to tell your story
To Get It Out
And to be heard
I am so very sorry you couldn’t hear me
I am so very sorry I couldn’t hear you
We are both damaged wounded souls
And I pray you will be heard by others who can hear you better than I was able
Words swirl in my brain
The need to jot them down becomes
Overwhelmed by body busyness
They get forgotten
Left to mull in the recesses of my brain
Then when opportunity arises
They fail to appear in any form of sensical reason
Words have always been
Words feed my soul
I am a word devourer
A word fanaticist
And when words escape me….
I need words to convey
who I am
To you the reader of my ramblings
And when I lose my words
I am lost
Today I began to write what was in my heart
but my mind wouldn’t cooperate
I spill myself out
using words that I never intended
because the ones I want
I will endeavour to slow myself
and bring myself back
I will search for the escapees
and return soon
I have been blogging in my head
never getting the words written
so many words
so many thoughts
so many heartaches
so much life
so much living
trying to make sense of them all
tangling in my brain
wishing I’d taken time to write them down
processing them better
that might have lessened my anxiousness
reduced my worries
made sense of the mind games
helped my reflections
calmed the triggers
a New Year
a new decade
no rash resolutions
just circumspect self care
I need to write more
for my soul
to hear myself
to give myself space
time to reflect
time to process
time to bleed
I never recognised depression or anxiety within myself for many many years
My perceived strength didn’t allow me the grace to recognise or acknowledge them
I was too strong
I had to be strong
Along the way there were times
When I cracked
just a little bit
But not enough for me to acknowledge the causes or the effects
It took me a very long time to completely break
But in breaking I then began learning about myself
Learning that my strength was what protected me
Helped me endure
Helped me cope through all the traumas
But even the strongest things become brittle over time
And brittle breaks
And despite all the therapy over the past 8 years
all the self learning
all of the self care I am allowing myself
Yes – I still have to negotiate in my head that I need and deserve to love myself enough to care about myself
that I deserve to put me first
I still break
But each time it is a less substantial break
I give so much of myself
I still put myself last
I still struggle to stand up
and speak out
I am so good at standing for others
speaking up for others
advocating for others
But I am total shit about advocating for myself
And that is classic victim mentality
On the home front here in New Zealand
Sexual abuse victims are able to access therapy via ACC sensitive claims
Part of this involves undergoing psychological assessments to ascertain authenticity and then ongoing treatment / well-being plans
Some fight this process
They perceive a stigma attached with mental health diagnosis
I don’t have an issue with it
If my legs were broken or paralysed I would accept help
So if my inner being is damaged I also need to accept help
Since I broke eight years ago I have undergone two assessments
I got to a place where I was so broken I needed to accept help
No matter where it came from
And no matter what strings they attached
I was initially diagnosed with PTSD
that’s an easy one
yeah, well not so easy really
It’s actually a bloody nightmare to live with
but I’ve managed to wrap my head around that over the past 8 years
and I’ve been learning to understand myself within it
But during my recent assessment there was an added diagnosis
Recurrant Depressive Disorder
Another official stamp
I so hate being put into boxes
But officialdom decrees that to fund my ongoing healthcare I have to tick boxes
Combine these two along with the constant sleep disorder that delights in being part of the party
And the results are at times not pretty
Several weeks ago the tears began
The sleeplessness revved up
I was breaking
Life was attacking me from so many quarters
It is like I have 69 different people demanding from me all at the same time
But each of those 69 do not realise that there are 68 others
It is like a relentless attack on my brain
My nervous system goes into hypervigilance
I become incredibly anxious
My sleep becomes fitful
exhaustion, migraines, physical pain, irritibilty, all increase
I become hyper alert, hyper aroused, anxious, fearful,
And the tears just wont stop
I know that living with me is hard
Living with my self is nigh impossible
I am becoming more aware now though
And trying to be more proactive when I feel myself breaking
Recently I just had to shut down
I allowed myself to
Increase self care
And, the biggest hurdle of all
Ask for help
Sometimes talking with my therapist is not quite enough to get through these patches
This time I have started taking natural ‘meds’
Personally I struggle with taking medication
I have fought it for years
But now, after a consultation, I am taking 5htp, B6 plus some extra strength multi vitamins
They seem to be helping
I am feeling changes
A few days in and I realised
I was smiling again
I am also making a resolved choice to pull myself out of this current hole
I’m not out of it yet
But I sure as hell am a heap better than I was several weeks ago
And I sure as hell am so grateful for my BFF’s who carry me through these dark days in their own special ways
and to my incredibly supportive fiancé who holds the umbrella during my storms, he not only encourages me to go lion buying – he goes with me 🙂
Processing through another massive trigger attack
Trying to describe what happens within
to explain the outward displays of apparent irrational behaviours
Well they seem to be irrational
to those who are not living in my skin
But in my head Robot is blindly circling amok yelling
‘danger! danger! danger! danger!
do not compute!’
distressing my brain even more
exposing every nerve ending
until they are bleeding raw pain
Every part my body is fraught
skrieking at the slightest infraction
Fear rises to the surface
of everything I perceive as threatening
anything that might possibly compromise my safety
just. plain. scared.
all the time
tears flow too damn freely
I hate myself
for being like this
trying to understand myself
Trying to understand myself so others might try to understand me
How can they
when I struggle to understand myself
It is never ending
I didn’t want
I don’t want to be a victim
I never chose to be a victim
when my innocence was taken
my choice was stolen from me
I was too small
my voice was too small
unknowingly but yet with overwhelming knowingness
I knew if I did use my voice
I would lose family
I knew I didn’t have a community
I knew I would lose
I buried the pain deep
way down in my depths
pushed the memories
way way back
and I lived the best way I knew how
there was always
causing The Pain
to fester in the core of my very being
rotting my soul
It began oozing
with the intense stench of depression
the burden of
became absolutely unbearable
I was forced to take a knife
cut open the wound
began to allow the poison to escape
The surgery was long
I wasn’t small anymore
my voice grew
Until I was heard
My knowingness had been right
I did lose family
I have gained Community
I Am A Survivor
Months ago I read Jessica’s statement below and it really resonated with me, she encouraged me to dig deep and write my story above.
I can still struggle with the wish that I could have stood up sooner, been stronger, saved myself and my family in the way that was desperately needed for so long. But I have learned that I did the best I could at the times when it felt like there was no choice. I didn’t know until I finally knew, I couldn’t stand until I finally stood. There is no shame in finally being strong. I am a survivor.
Recent events in Aotearoa / New Zealand stunned our nation – again
A young English backpacker was murdered here just before Christmas.
We were devastated – again
Standing amongst the Nelson crowd
All of us mourning this young woman
Each one of us there for different reasons but for the same reason
This should not happen
This should not keep on happening
People were speaking out against violence against women across the nation
Naming and remembering the women killed by the hands of another person here in Aotearoa
Giving these women back their mana
Not mentioning the names of their murderers
We will not give them that power
Statistics say at least 13 women and 10 men will lose their lives to domestic abuse every year here in Aotearoa
14 women this past year
Countless women over the decades….
Yes, we have to stand up and speak out and stop this violence
But my inner heart was screaming…
It is not just about women
It is about inhumanity towards fellow humans
It is about respect – or lack of it
It is about responsibility towards each other
It is about Love
Since this heinous violent act was committed we have seen many more here in NZ
So much tūkino
So much whakarekereke
Too much whakarekereke ā-whare
Violence against our wāhine
Violence against our tamariki
We need Aroha
Where is our respect?
Where is our kindness?
Where is our love?
In memory of these young visitors who did not receive the Manaakitanga they deserved in our land
Grace Millane, 22
Kayo Matsuzawa, 29
Birgit Bauer, 28
Karen Aim, 27
Dagmar Pytlickova, 31
Margery Hopegood, 32
Jae Hyeon Kim, 25
Urban Hoglin, 23
Heidi Paakkonen, 21
Monica Cantwell, 24
My first dragon became a part of my life when I was around 7-8 years old.
His name was Trauma.
His effect on my life was insidious
He grew stealthily through the years
Feeding on each new traumatic situation I encountered
And there have been many
Some great and some small
But each a delicious feeding ground for a hungry dragon
The effects of his presence were not easily perceived.
This dragon became so huge
He was overpowering me
He was possessing me
And he multiplied as time passed.
His brother arrived
His name was Grief
They were joined by another brother, Fear
That dragon invited his much bigger brother Anxiety along for the party.
These dragons gained entry into the very core of my being during crucial times of my life
I am in constant war with them.
Mostly I am able to contain them
Keep them relatively small
By carefully avoiding situations that allow them to roar.
Seven years ago they all escaped and attacked me brutally.
With Help, Care and ongoing Guidance
I herded them back into their cages.
I have spent time healing from the wounds
And learning how to live again
Learning how to live with them
Taming them each time they dared to begin to roar again.
Over recent months though there have been several times when they have grown too big and they have escaped and overpowered me.
A few months ago I was put into a situation where I was forced to confront them all.
I agreed to go back to the farm.
It had been 3 years since I left
I never thought I would ever go back
I never wanted to go back
But I promised my children to take them
I also offered to take my New Love to introduce him to my past.
As the time approached
The dragons grew bigger and bigger
I tried as hard as I could to keep them contained
I couldn’t back out
I had to go
I had promised
Fear grew bigger
He fed and fed
– the road
– the unknown at the other end
– the grief of loss
He employed Anxiety to join his feast
They both attacked aggressively.
I made all sorts of contingency plans
I tried to talk my way through it
I tried to back out of it
I did what I always do
I got busy
I tried to be in control
I told my Love that I had to drive the last 50 miles
that I couldn’t handle being a passenger on ‘that road’.
On the day we all packed up and left
My Love drove,
and kept driving…
He drove carefully, and was sensitive to my needs
Trust and Courage held me every kilometre of the way.
But they were not yet strong enough.
Anxiety was gnawing on my stomach
He fed on Fear
And grew bigger & bigger
Eventually we stopped at ‘the place’
The place where I lost my first love.
Grief began edging his way out of his box
We carried on for another 15 minutes until we were back at the farm
We stopped at the gate.
At that point Grief clambered out from the depths where I had been keeping him hidden & controlled for so long
A huge mountainous dragon
He refused to be contained any longer
He overcame me with such visceral sobbing from the depths of my core
I was completely overcome
I cried & cried
But I was held
by Love and Care and Compassion and Understanding
and together they diminished my dragons back to their lair
Love continues to support me
And as he does
Trust and Courage are growing stronger.
It’s a daily fight to keep these dragons under control.
But I’m learning to tame them more skilfully each time they escape.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and read a quote that a friend shared.
It really spoke to me so I followed links in the comments and found the original quote above, and read her blog post in its entirety.
By the time I got to the end tears were falling down my cheeks as I identified with, and was touched by every single word she wrote.
I want to give due credit to Kelly here because this quote is out there in cyberspace as anonymous.
It is most definitely the writings of a very talented and thoughtful woman who has walked the grief journey.
Definitely well worth taking time to read it to the end!
‘I will never move on’ by writer, comedian, actor & performer Kelly Lynn
Most people who have been following my blogs for the past few years will know my journey has been a very tangled one to say the least.
It has in fact been far, far more tangled at times than I have been able to write publicly about.
But I have learnt over these years that grief knows no boundaries and should never be timeframed.
As Kelly says here –
“I will never move on from my husband. I will never NOT love my husband who died. I will never leave him in my past, like some forgotten old shoe I never threw away. This applies forever. Even if I should fall in love again. Even if I should marry again. Even if I should live every dream that I have ever dreamed possible. Even when I am old and gray and ancient, should I have the honor of being allowed to live that long. Even then. I will NEVER not be connected to my husband. He lives within me now. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I carry him with me. He is a piece of my very soul. There is no moving on.”
Tim was my best friend and lover for 42 years and my husband for over 34 years.
The vast majority of my life has been intertwined with him.
It cannot be discounted nor forgotten ever.
We shared 11 babies together.
Each of our 10 living children contain his genes, his dna, his love, his life.
Each of them and our grand babies all carry him on into the future.
He can & will never be forgotten ever
There are just way too many memories we all share
There is no moving on.
Only moving forward.
To read Kelly’s blog and hear so much validation in one post is overwhelming to say the least.
I absolutely love her last paragraph which she has written with such positivity that I am not going to rephrase it in anyway.
It is inspirational and motivational and has lit a flame in my heart that I had been burying.
“Here is what I WILL do:
I will live the biggest and brightest and most colorful life that I can, because my husband does not have that choice. I will cling to every new joy that I feel in this life, because I am still alive to feel it. I will honor the life and the love that my husband and I shared, by being the person that he fell in love with. I will always find ways to keep remembering him and sharing his story with the world, because that is my duty and my HONOR to do as his wife, and his widow; and because sharing their story is how we keep them alive and relevant. I will continue to grow and to learn and to hurt and to feel and to fear and to fly. I will scream when I need to, cry when I have to, and laugh as much as my body can handle. I will tell all the people that I love, that I truly love them, and I will make sure they know this as often as possible. I will leave behind something of importance in this life, something of value, that someone , someday, can read or look at or see or feel, and it will make them think in a different way. I will love harder than I have ever loved before, and I wont feel guilty for loving again, because I will know in my heart that my husband’s love is inside every love I have going forward. I will choose to believe that he is somehow still here with me, and I wont question or doubt all the many times that I feel him. I will embrace his energy inside the music, and I will dance to the rhythms of our forever connected hearts. I will speak his name whenever I want to, and I will do this proudly, because that is what he deserves. That is what we ALL deserve – to not be forgotten, and to be spoken of with laughter and joy and remembrance, by those that will always love us. I will move INTO my future, step into my life, and I will carry him with me at every turn. I will take risks, and be afraid to fail, but go for it anyway, because I know that in the end, none of us get out alive. I will know that life is terrifying and chaotic and unfair and filled with sorrow and pain, but also exhilarating and wonderful and surprising and incredible, and a beautiful gift that keeps unwrapping, each and every time I make the decision to get out of bed. I will promise to do all of these things and more, and if I’m very lucky, maybe I can even change the world.
And I will never, ever move on.”
I have been frightened that his shadow would be daunting to new love.
I have been protecting him and myself
I just want to thank Kelly from the bottom of my heart for helping me to see and understand that I can move forward without moving on.
There is no comparison
Tim is/was Tim
And I am who I am because of the life we spent together, and the person he was helped to shape me into the person I am today.
I cannot live in the past
I cannot worry about tomorrow
I choose to embrace today
Because today is good
I will honour his life by living mine in the brightest most colourful way I can
I will move forward
But I will never move on…
On this day 39 years ago I married the love of my life.
Tim was the love of my youth.
He was part of my life from the time I was 14 years old.
He was 21
He gave me the best years of his life.
He truly gave me his all.
I loved him and the journey after his death has been turbulent and tumultuous.
As I approach the 5th anniversary of his accident I am in a much more peaceful place.
It has been a long, long walk through some pretty dark valleys
I am finding myself standing higher on the hillsides now and spending less time in the valleys.
This journey through grief is indeed such a personal one.
I have made discovery after discovery during my walk.
Deeply personal discoveries which I have grown through.
And continue to do so.
They have been incredibly hard and at times I have wondered if I would ever make it through.
But with perseverance and resilience
And the support of precious family and friends
This morning as I was quietly remembering our wedding anniversary two posts popped up in my newsfeed
Such movingly appropriate posts
The first was a moving video by Kate Braestrup
Grief, to a 5 year old
She told such a tender story of how a 5 year old so naturally grieved her little friend.
It made me think back to when I had to say goodbye to my Timmy.
I am so grateful I was able to spend time with him during that week.
I do have regrets that some weren’t done differently,
but at the time you don’t know
you have no idea what to ask for
or how to ‘do it’
You are in so much pain
you sorta just go blurringly along with the flow of things
But to have been able to spend time with him
To hold his hands
To touch him
To talk to him
To just be with him
both alone and with the loved ones who wanted to see him
was incredibly special
Then an article by Katherine Schafler
‘The one thing no one ever says about grieving’
contains some simple but very pertanent truths.
The one that resonates strongly within my spirit is this
“Move towards the epicenter of your grief, as it’s the only path to other side of your pain.”
From my experience the only way to deal with pain is to face it square on and confront it.
By side stepping you only have it come back to bite you at a later time.
By suppressing the pain it only makes you sick with anger and guilt and more pain.
As time has progressed the triggers and pain from Tim’s accident have lessened
Time does heal
But scars still remain
And sometimes tears well up from deep within
They take me by surprise
But I know they need to flow
Last week I was enjoying dinner out in Sacramento with my special friend Brielle
It was a place and time so far removed from that time back in February 2013
As we talked all of a sudden tears started flowing
They took me completely by surprise
But I needed to go back to that place
Just for a moment
And allow them to bathe my soul
Today the tears are back again
They are tears of gratefulness
tears of times gone
I can’t go back
I don’t want to go back
But they are flowing
Because I am remembering a good man
Back on this day
the 4th November 1978
I gave him my hand
and on the 18th February 2013
I held his hand
for the last time
and let him go.