Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dumbledore knows what he's talking about

I'm in the process of rereading all of the Harry Potter books. I just finished the Goblet of Fire.

Near the end of the book, Harry has been through hell. He's lost. Everyone around him is lost. This is the advice Dumbledore gives:
"Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can  there be recovery. He needs to know."
The most powerful part of that to me is only with acceptance can there be recovery.
I had to accept I was abused. I had to accept it wasn't my fault, and there is nothing I could have done to change it. I had to accept that it has changed me and my life forever. I had to accept that some of the people that were supposed to love me the most are the ones that hurt me the most. I had to accept that what I thought was love, wasn't. I had to accept that I am who I am, and I've come to accept ME.

And then came recovery. The REAL recovery. The kind that leaves me feeling peaceful, fulfilled, happy, and connected to the people that love me.

(Back to the book) Harry was exhausted. He felt like he couldn't push any more. His friends were telling him to rest, sleep, take a break. Dumbledore had more advice.
"If I thought I could help you," Dumbledore said gently, "by putting you into an enchanted sleep and allowing you to postpone the moment when you would have to think about what has happened tonight, I would do it. But I know better. Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it. You have shown bravery beyond anything I could have expected of you. I ask you to demonstrate your courage one more time. I ask you to tell us what happened."
There is a time for postponing and numbing the pain. I am positive I would not have survived without all of my various ways of avoiding the pain. If I had been able to deal with it back then, I would have, and it wouldn't have grown in intensity like it did.

Surviving the horrors of life takes great bravery. It also takes courage to stand up and use your voice and "Tell us what happened."

(So much for my "just for fun" reading, huh?)

Briefly describe a miraculous event that happened to you in your life.

A friend posted this question as his status (I love facebook):
"Briefly describe a miraculous event that happened to you in your life."

 And this is my response:
"It's hard for me to describe the miracles without the understanding of the pain. I don't want to sound dramatic, but I had a lifetime of abuse that lead to fear, guilt and shame so huge, it's a miracle I'm still alive.
I had just what I needed to find my way out of the pain.

Miracles included: Splintering myself into different personalities, so the different personalities could hold the pain until I was ready to integrate myself, being able to go through flashbacks so I could remember what happened, understand it and accept it, trusting myself and others when it felt impossible, finding the right books, friends, and therapist at the exact right moment, somehow finding a way to love and accept myself, and so much more. I felt like each step to my own healing and recovery was shown to me just as I needed it. I didn't have the wisdom, but there was Love and Wisdom that guided me.

Because I wanted to hear it back then, I will say, my miracles didn't come because I was "worthy" or a member of a certain religion, or for any other reason than life is miraculous, and we are all deserving of Love, Wisdom, and Miracles."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Two years ago, I came to the realization that I was spending all my time with people who wanted me in their lives, but not necessarily with people who I wanted in my life. They were people who said they loved me, people who seemed to need me, people who wanted something from me.

I realized I didn't like living like that, and decided to make a list of the people I would want in my life. One of the friends that topped the list, was Sara. I called her - she felt the same way, and we had a ton of fun together. And then, in August of last year, we just sort of stopped hanging out. Occasionally, I'd text her or she'd text me. We even talked on the phone a couple times, but something had definitely changed.

For me, I was a little nervous about what she'd think if she knew I'd left the church. I was worried that I might say something that would start her questioning, and I didn't want to do that. I was really angry at the church for a while, and I was worried I might tell her about my anger. (We'd always been incredibly open with each other. There isn't a topic we haven't discussed at length.)

Last week, I got a text from her saying, "I miss you. I need a friend. Can we hang out?"
I've become pretty comfortable in my own skin, and felt ready to tell her about my status with the church. I was not quite comfortable enough to wear a tanktop to her house, but when she came to her door, guess what she was wearing?

It took me back a little. One of the things we had in common was we were both very devout members. I didn't say anything then - I waited while we filled each other in on the last year. It got quiet, and she said, "I need to tell you about where I stand on religion. I'm SO nervous, but... I just have to tell you."

I told her to keep talking, because I was pretty DAMN sure we are in the same place.
That shocked her. She then went on to say that she's not sure how she feels about God, or if God even exists, but she knows for pretty certain that religion seems to seriously mess people up.

We talked about the guilt, the fear, the strange culture, the controlling ways people treat each other, we even talked about the good things the church had brought into our lives. It served a purpose for both of us - in many ways, for a time, it helped keep us each alive. And then we both moved past it. She said she didn't feel the need to use fear to teach her children to be good. She wants to be around people who are good, just for good's sake, not because they want blessinga in the afterlife, or because they are afraid of God's wrath, or because they are afraid of what others will think of them if they don't follow all of the commandments.

She said she wouldn't go recruiting people for this new way of life, because it's HARD. It's hard to have to make decisions about what you think and feel, because suddenly, there's no one telling you how you SHOULD think and feel. It's hard to make decisions on your life based on what is true for you rather than following a strict plan. The plan might not be right, and might make you miserable, but at least you know what to do... And then she said she wouldn't go back and do it any other way than what she is doing now.

I couldn't help but smile. EXACTLY how I felt.
Ironically, we had both withdrawn from each other as we were going through the same process. Afraid of what the other would think.
I came home feeling so happy. And so lucky. I've been through hell, but leaving the church has not been nearly as gut-wrenching as it is for some. Many of my friends went through the whole process totally alone. I had them.(I started listing out names, but I know I'll forget someone, and the list was a lot longer than I even knew) who left the church long time before I met them. I was in the process of leaving, and I had their friendship. I found a support group for those who were questioning their faith, and I found several friends there. My family has been loving and supportive and non-judgmental. All they've ever said to me is that they want me to be happy. I also have old friends - my old roommates from BYU and Sara. My "never-mo" friend Amanda who listened as I tried to sort out what I actually felt. And more than one bishop who cared about me enough to tell me to get away from the church.

How did I get so lucky? I have many close and wonderful friends - not just acquaintance - REAL friends. It amazes and astounds me to feel the love of so many amazing people.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Invitation

This is beautiful.
I was going to pick a favorite quote from it, but I can't. I'd just copy and paste the whole thing...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Law of Chasity

I just left my parents house. Apparently the lesson this week was the Law of Chasity. Everyone talked about it a little. My dad was telling stories from the lesson. I wanted to run away and hide.

Now that I'm home - I can think a little more clearly, and this is what I wish I would have said:
When you talk about chastity and sex like this, I feel dirty. I feel like I'm disgusting. I want to hide, because I am worthless. Like a crushed flower or a piece of chewed gum. My body hurts. My chest feels tight. I want to scream or cry.

Do you realize what it's like to hear about the importance of no sex when I had "sex" when I was only five? My body responded the way the body is supposed to respond to sex. I blamed me. I felt gross and disgusting, and combine that with all of the teachings on chastity, and I just feel intense hatred for myself and my body.

I understand that my experience isn't everyone's, and it is still my experience.

I didn't say anything. I sat there and withdrew into the back of my head. Now, I'm sad, suffering a bit. Feeling broken. I never even understood what they were saying or talking about in church. I didn't get it. I was weird and broken. When others spoke of sex, I knew only abuse.

I'm not sure what else to do now other than to curl up in a blanket and cry.
That is what I will be doing now.

Happy Sunday!

I have always hated Sundays. Sundays = guilt = things I don't want to do = things I don't want to listen to = places I don't want to be at.

Sundays are now a wonderful day of rest.
I do what I want to do. I feel very peaceful.
This morning, I slept in. I fed the horses. I cleaned the kitchen. Now I'm sitting up the canyon: blogging, reading, enjoying the sunshine and the breeze.

When I was in my early twenties, I served as a service missionary at the MTC. My job was to let the missionaries teach me the discussions. We were told to come up with a story about our current beliefs in God - we were supposed to lie and not tell them we were already members.

I told them that I love the mountains and the outdoors. When I am sitting outside and I look at all of the trees and flowers and bugs and animals, I feel so much love. That is where my belief in God comes in. With amazing beauty like this, there must be a God.

That "story" came easily to me. Bearing my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, or prophets, or even Jesus Christ was very difficult.

Today, I've gone back to that "story". I feel so much love as I look at the beauty that is nature, and I believe that feeling is God.

(This isn't quite the direction I was planning on going when I started typing. Meh. It is what it is.)

For me, I find that feeling easiest in the mountains with a horse. My mom finds that feeling with her family and in the temple. I feel very grateful that I found Love. I'm very grateful my mom has found it where she has found it. This feels good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I am powerful. And that is a good thing.

Talking with a friend: He was talking about how he's tired of all the shit in his life. He just wants it to go away.
The only thing that popped in to my head to say was, "You're a very strong and powerful person, and that is a very good thing. Stop holding yourself back!"

And then I burst into tears.
It was a moment when I had to wonder, "Did I just say that to him, or to myself?"
I asked. Through his tears, he said, "Maybe both."

I am afraid of power. I have spent my life pretending I had none, or trying to make it disappear by giving all my power to others. Power and strength hurt people. I don't want to hurt people, therefore I will not be powerful. A woman is not supposed to be powerful. She is supposed to be meek. I've tried so hard to be meek and submissive.

Only. That hasn't worked. Who I am is powerful. I am strong. And that is a very good thing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Self Acceptance takes away an abuser's power

I really like this post.

There were two quotes that jumped out at me:
"If you want to know who your truest friends are, ask yourself who encourages you to accept yourself as you are. For it is all but the very mark of true friend that he or she encourages that in you. Yet, most of us have few friends of that caliber."
 I thought of all of the amazing friends I have that encourage me to accept myself as I am.

The second quote that hit me was this one:
"It is possible that no one but your truest friends will accept that you do not condemn your “darkest impulses”. The rest of the world is reluctant to give up that means of manipulating you."
I was SO afraid of accepting myself. I was terrified I would suddenly become a horrible person. I was afraid of who I would be without guilt and shame driving me. I have seen first hand what "darkest impulses" can do, and I didn't want to BE that. I didn't want to hurt others like I had been hurt. I fought with Paul constantly about this - he believed his job was to help me accept ALL of me, including the darkest parts. I believed I had to manipulate and force myself to be something I wasn't. I didn't even require outside forces doing it.

Today, BJ asked me what was wrong with him going after his wants. What was wrong with him doing what he wanted? I didn't have an answer... other than, "Nothing. Live YOUR life."  He asked me to play the devil's advocate. Come up with a reason that he shouldn't do what he wants to do. I had a hard time. Years of therapy where I kept telling Paul that I couldn't just be ME, because ME wasn't good enough... I couldn't just do what I want, because the whole world would fall apart, or I'd hurt people, or... and today, without coming back and reading old blogs, I couldn't remember how I used to think. (cue trumpets!)

For most of my life, I was told that having control over my own life was selfishness. It was not okay to pursue my dreams or goals, or to take care of my wants and needs unless I FIRST took care of everyone else. That is SO WRONG!

There are many people who don't want me (or you or anyone else) to accept ourselves. If I accept myself, I will not use anti-wrinkle cream on my face, or get plastic surgery, or eat this or that diet, and there goes a billion dollar industry.
If I accept myself, I might not do what everyone else thinks is right. I will do what is best for me. Always.
If I accept and love myself for who I am, I do not have to be a slave to you to earn your love.
If I accept myself, I will not allow myself to be abused. When someone tries to manipulate me into doing what they want, it just won't work. Power hungry people cannot handle a person who loves themselves. It takes away all their power.

I stayed in relationships that were very unhealthy, because I believed no one else could love or accept me. After all, I hated me, how could anyone else love me? Through a miraculous combination of therapy, books, friends, horses, and experiences, I have come to love and accept myself for who I am. With that love came the power to walk away. It didn't matter what they said, because I knew myself and I loved myself.

I have amazing friends. On a hard day, they remind me how much I am loved by them. And then they remind me that their love doesn't matter nearly as much as my love for me. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This is My Story

It's kind of a stressful week for me. Work requires that I be in an environment that is just HARD for me, but just for a few days a year, so don't feel the least bit sorry for me. This environment has brought it to my attention how wonderful my life really is.

I have created a life with friends, family, animals, work, play, passions, and love that is EXACTLY what I want. It isn't what anyone else would have chosen for me. It isn't what I thought was "right". It is just how I want to live my life. It's amazing!

I have the opening lines to the song, "This is Our Story" (from Shrek the musical) in my head:

"I've waited all my life,
lived it by the book.
Now I know that's not my story.
You, take me as I am.
Love me as I look,
Standing here on all my glory.
I am sweetness, I am bratty. I'm a princess. I'm a fatty.
I'm a mess of contradictions in a dress.
I am sappy. I am sassy. When I'm with you I am happy.
This is my story."

I LOVE this. I've waited all my life, lived it by the book, now I know that's not my story. My story is very different, and it's MINE.