Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not grateful. Peaceful.

In a conversation with BJ, he once said he felt guilty for feeling grateful I am in his life. In essence, he was concerned that by being grateful for the way things are today - that also meant he was grateful for the pain I had suffered.

Can I be grateful for where I am today without being grateful for the circumstances that got me here?

I've thought about this a lot. I've written and rewritten this post several different times over the last six months.

The first was really snarky. (I might have just made that word up, I don't actually know what it means... Sarcastic? Bratty?) It talked about feeling gratitude that there are abusive people in the world. If no one was abusive, how would we ever grow? I could go into it more, but there IS a reason I deleted that one.

The second was very tearful. I don't believe abuse is what made me who I am. I was already strong, kindhearted, empathic. My friends who have been abused were already clever, funny, compassionate, beautiful, wonderful people. Their abusers didn't make them that.

The third was a little closer to what I wanted. I talked about how I might not have never met some of the amazing people I know today if I hadn't been through the hell of abuse. I might not have ever seen how strong they are if I didn't know how hard they had to fight just to survive. We might not have connected if we hadn't been through so many similar (and extraordinarily painful) experiences. I am grateful they are in my life today. I am amazed and astounded at the people I have the privilege of calling friends.

I'm trying again.
I am not grateful for the past. I am at peace with it.
When I think about my life, I don't have a need to change what has happened. I've accepted it. That doesn't mean I think for a second it is okay for a man to rape his wife, but I am at peace with where my life is. That makes me at peace with my past. (Or maybe being at peace with my past has made it possible to be at peace with where my life is. I'm not sure which came first.)

I don't know who I would have been, or what life would have been like if I hadn't been abused as a child, or married a man who raped me, or any of the other circumstances. And, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I don't need to know. I am done mourning who I might have been.

I am grateful that BJ understood what emotional abuse was, and I also wish he had never experienced it. I wish he didn't understand how damaging it is. I am grateful to have people in my life who really understand the pain of rape, sexual trauma, PTSD, eating disorders, and depression, because it feels GOOD to be understood. I also wish for their sakes, they had no idea how it felt.

I don't know how or why there is so much pain and heartache in the world. I don't know why some people choose to hurt other people. I don't know why a God that can bring these amazing people into my life couldn't also have stopped them from being abused. If it was left up to me, I would have sent down angels with flaming swords to prevent children from being molested, spouses from being abused, or young women from being assaulted. I suppose I'm glad it isn't up to me.

I guess what I'm saying is I feel trusting. I trust the process. I trust where I have been lead. I trust God to balance it all out. I trust me to find my way. I trust my friends to find their way.
I trust. There is someone or something who takes care of it all. I don't know what that looks like. I don't know how it all works out, and... it does.

The words are just not coming the way I want them to.
Why does this feel so hard to write, and yet so important?
Because it is far more personal than I am letting on. There is ONE thing, one piece that I need to face, but I'm afraid. I'm afraid to admit how deeply I feel...

I would give up everything I love in my life if it meant that BJ had never been abused. I would trade the feeling of love and acceptance I have from him, if it could just mean he hadn't been hurt so deeply by someone who claimed to love him. I love my life today, and still... it just doesn't justify someone I love being hurt so much. I HATE it!  I feel so sad. By being grateful he is in my life, am I also grateful that he was abused?

The answer to that question is No! And still, I accept that it is the way it is. We are all connected. We help each other. We find the people that will help us to grow, to learn, to love. We also find people who hurt us. We learn to move on from them. We learn to trust, and we learn who and what to trust at any given moment.

I am not grateful for the pain in my past. I am not grateful for the pain in BJ's past. I am not grateful for the pain in other friends' pasts. I am at peace with my life today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"It isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal"

I just read a blogpost on "Gaslighting".
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser tries to make their target think they are crazy, their reactions on abnormal, or wrong, or... in some way completely invalidate the other person.

The blog is not superbly written, and there are a few things I really didn't like about it. (The biggest being that he seemed to think that it was only a problem done to women, and that he could tell other women what their problem was.)

There was one line that really struck me, "That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking."

Here it is in a little more context:
"These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.
When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”
That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking."
That is what emotional abuse does to a person. They can't express what is going on, and when they try to express it (especially to the person that is already abusing them), they are told to forget about it, and in order to forget about that kind of violation to their own psychological boundaries, they forget about themselves. We dismiss ourselves. I dismissed myself.

It's heartbreaking.
After years of being told to dismiss my own emotions, experiences, myself, I didn't need anyone else to do it for me. I told MYSELF I was crazy. I told myself I was too sensitive, overreacting, nuts, I deserved it, to just forget it, it wasn't important, I wasn't important, etc.

I believed it for a long time, but it just wasn't true.
I still have a hard time knowing if my reactions are "too much". The most valuable tool I have found is to think about how I would react if someone was doing or saying (...) to my sister, my friend, to those that I really love, how would I react? I believe I deserve the same love (and boundaries) I want for those that I care about most.

I wouldn't want my sister to take abuse, so I won't take abuse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fear and Love

Just some thoughts for today:

Everything will change, because change is the only thing that is constant.
When I change out of fear, it just brings more fear.
When I change out of love, it brings more love.

What would I like more of in MY life?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


A few days ago, I went hiking with some friends. At the top of the mountain, Kim decided she wanted to dance. I hadn't heard the song "Sexy Back" since my CFC days. In my CFC days, I definitely did NOT allow myself to move and dance and enjoy the music. Something about being on the top of the mountain, hearing the song on her phone, and being with friends allowed me to get more comfortable in my own body. For the first time in my life, I didn't think it was "wrong" or "bad" for me to dance whatever way I felt like dancing. It felt GOOD.

Last night, Angie invited me to a drum circle to celebrate the full moon.
I've been in drum circles before, at CFC they were a big part of therapy. Nothing like THIS though.
The energy, the love, the freedom, the movement was amazing.

At first, I just moved with the drums. It was awesome, but I could tell something was missing. I was moving to be moving... At first, it wasn't about nurturing my body, it was about exercising my body, and exercise in my world isn't a good thing. I sat down and rested. I listened to the drums. I watched others move. And then something changed.

I watched Sylvia dance. The best way to describe my experience watching her is that she "filled her body". There was no part of her body that wasn't HER. Every bit of her was dancing. Her feet, her hands, her legs, her shoulders, her face, even her hair, every part of her moved with intention. It was beautiful to watch.

I went back out and this time I DANCED. My hands, my feet, my shoulders, my hips. My body moved in ways I didn't know it could. There was nothing technical about my movements, but I felt like I was IN my body completely for the first time ever.

I didn't notice the change at the time. It just...happened... but as I drove home, I started to think about how my body FELT. I am a beautiful, strong, sexual woman. I have the power to move, to create, to BE in a way I have never had before. I don't quite understand it.

Today, I feel WHOLE.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday Solicitors

The deacons came by the house this morning. Asking for money. They've come by before - I've always told them I'm not interested, and they've left.The little guy this morning was rather pushy. He kept shoving the blue envelope at me even after I said I wasn't interested and went to close the door.

That got me thinking.
As an active member of the church, if anyone else had come to my door, asking for money, on a Sunday afternoon, I would have been really upset. Door to door soliciting? On a Sunday? How dare they?

Why is it okay to send the little boys out begging for money if they're asking for money for the church?
How is that any different than going door to door for work?
Why is it okay to do it to bring in money for the church, but not to support my family?
Why is it okay to write a check for THIS pushy kid, but not the one selling coupons or car washes?

Or, why is it when I wanted to go volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter on Sunday afternoon, I was told Sundays were a day of rest and worship, and that wasn't an appropriate Sunday activity?

These are the things I think about when I can't sleep.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ask for what you want

BJ had planned to go riding with his dad today. This morning, he asked if I wanted to join them. My first answer, "YES!" because I never turn down an opportunity to go riding. Then, I stopped and asked, "You really want me to go with you?"

His answer, "Well... no... not exactly... and yes at the same time."
I asked him to explain. What do you want? Exactly?

He wanted me to join them for a little while - take pictures of the two of them - and then he wanted the rest of the ride just the two of them, but felt like that wasn't a reasonable request.

My plan for the day had been to take a drive up the mountains and find a spot to read and meditate.His request actually fit in perfectly to what I wanted. Ride for a bit, take pictures of the two of them, then find a spot by a stream and read or meditate.

This time, it wasn't me that was afraid to ask for what I wanted. It is still really hard for me too.
I'm afraid people will do things they don't want to do, just because I ask them. I'm afraid I ask too much, but I won't even know it's too much. There is still a part of me that believes if I get what I want, then someone else is going without and maybe hurting.

I'm so glad he asked.

It was fun taking pictures of the two of them. BJ's dad was concerned about me being alone in the mountains. I promised him I wouldn't get eaten by bears, but I couldn't promise anything about mountain lions. He looked at me like I was nuts when I told him, "I'm far more afraid of people than I will ever be of bears and mountain lions. The worst a mountain lion can do is kill you, and there are things far worse than dying."

It worked out to be the perfect day for me. The mountains were so incredibly quiet. I sat in the shade and watched the bugs crawl through the grass and trees. I put my feet in the stream and felt the REALLY cold water wash over them. I felt the sun on my shoulders. I listened to the silence and to me.

It would have been my wedding anniversary. I was worried it was going to be a hard day. No matter how "bad" the relationship was... it was never all "bad". There is sadness that it didn't turn out the way I wanted or planned. I thought I would spend a lot of the day crying, but I didn't. Instead, I just enjoyed a day with me. I'm great company. :)

I've changed a lot in the past few years. I don't believe I need a man to complete me. I don't believe marriage will (or could ever) complete me. I don't believe my happiness is dependent upon anyone else. I no longer feel sad that things didn't work out the way I planned - they worked out so much better than I ever could have planned or dreamed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Just wanted to share this song today. Loving the lyrics.

Maybe I’m a dreamer
Maybe I’m misunderstood
Maybe you’re not seeing the side of me you should
Maybe I’m crazy (Maybe I’m crazy)
Maybe I’m the only one (Maybe I’m the only one)
Maybe I’m just out of touch
Maybe I’ve just had enough

Maybe it’s time to change
And leave it all behind
I’ve never been one to walk alone
I’ve always been scared to try

So why does it feel so wrong
To reach for something more
To wanna live a better life
What am I waiting for?

‘Cause nothing stays the same
Maybe it’s time to change
Maybe it’s hopeless (Maybe it’s hopeless)
Maybe I should just give up (Maybe I should just give up)
What if I can’t trust myself?
What if I just need some help?
Maybe it’s time to change
And leave it all behind

I’ve never been one to walk alone
I’ve always been scared to try
So why does it feel so wrong
To reach for something more
To wanna live a better life
What am I waiting for?
‘Cause nothing stays the same
Maybe it’s time to change