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Friday, March 28, 2008

Changing, Working, Friends and Ducks

So here's the thing:

Three years ago I began preparation to step out of my comfort zone so that I would be able to do whatever was necessary to make my life tolerable again.

I worked very, very hard.

I looked at crappy, awful things.

I asked questions, researched, talked, prayed, screamed, cried, reached out, and ended up accepting help, guidance, and life as it is.

And now--I'm not finished, but I think I've come about as far as I can.

The problem is that I have an overwhelming desire to return to life as I knew it prior to the recent upheaval. It was structured, predictable, joyful, and fulfilling. Some have argued with me that I believe it was so when it actually was lacking in many areas. I'm not disagreeing, but I truly was happy. I had made for myself a really wonderful life with a husband and children who loved me, I had built a couple of successful businesses and I ran my home with ease. It was very nice. I liked it.

Tolkien Boy says that even if I try, I can't really go back.

And if I try it will mean a retreat from the relationships I've built with some very sweet friends. That wouldn't be good for me.

I think, maybe, I'm just recognizing how tired I am, and I'm looking for a place that's safe so I can rest. Because doing that emotional work in such a short time frame has made me feel exhausted--did you notice, AtP? I didn't wear us out this time--I probably haven't had the energy to make you tired for almost a year now. And I don't know why I'm talking to you, because you don't even read my blog, but I want to anyway.

So I spent an afternoon with Tolkien Boy this week. And I wasn't fun or entertaining. I think, mostly, I just sat next to him and watched the ducks at the pond we were supposed to be walking around. I felt very tired, and quiet, and a little bit overwhelmed by not knowing what to do next.

I had planned to go see Ambrosia and Bawb, but my sister called and asked me to spend a night at her house and visit with her. So I did. But I fell asleep while she was talking with me.

I met a few friends who read my blog. It was delightful--you are delightful. Forgive me if I was tired?

I have always felt that I had endless energy, that I could do whatever I chose, that I would wake up ready to conquer the world each day. Now, I sort of just want someone to hold me and tell me it's okay to rest--someone who will keep any bad things from happening while I become strong enough to do that for myself.

I sound like I'm twelve again.

I forgot to discuss this with Therapist. That was stupid.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is Risen

Two years ago I sat with my counselor and discussed many things that were hurting me. She gave me some writing exercises to do, empathized with my situation and told me that it was time to give my burden to Christ and allow myself to heal. Quite frankly, I agreed with her, but when I made the attempt to apply the atonement in my life I hit a brick wall.

I made numerous attempts to access the faith that had kept me from falling apart through many years. But each time I knelt to discuss the problem with the Lord, I found myself saying, "I don't know how this works. Help me? Please?"

The answer did not come immediately. I had some hurdles to leap.

The first obstacle came when I admitted to myself that I was still pretty upset that God had watched as I was abused and raped. It distressed me horribly to know that the one who supposedly loved me more than any other, allowed that to happen. And he let me ache with loneliness, pain, and fear when I was too young to understand why a person would hurt me so badly. I was very angry that the premise seemed to be that I was required to endure the emotional and physical pains--but then turn to God Omnipotent to be healed. If he was so omnipotent, why did an innocent little girl have to be hurt in the first place? It took some time for me to work through that anger. I still don't have all the answers, but I emerged, certain that I had been protected more than I understood, that I had never truly been left alone, and that I was loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And on some level I believe that my pain reached them and they wept for me. I'm sure I just believe this because a part of me yearns for some measure of sympathy--for now, I need to believe it, regardless of whether or not it's true. I know if I could not take away from my daughter a similar pain, I would cry with her--I would cry for her. It's a human thing, but also a parent thing, and is God not my Father? I need to believe that he was not unaffected when I was hurt.

The second obstacle is something that still bothers me. I felt my own pain--obviously. To know that Christ took upon him that pain seemed appalling. To know that he could know how my body shook because it was being used in a way that was inappropriate, to know he could feel my desperate desire to be held by someone who would not hurt me, my need to be kept safe, my hope that someone--anyone--would save me, made me hurt all over again. I cried with frustration as I realized that in Gethsemane, nearly 2000 years before the event actually happened, Christ, whom I love with all my heart, went through each moment of the things that nearly broke me. It seemed pointless that both of us should have to endure that. And knowing exactly how everything felt, I wept again that he should have to feel those things. I was horrified. And yet, if I believed in the atonement, Christ could not heal me unless he knew exactly what was wrong--and the only way he could know was to feel what I felt. It was very difficult for me to accept this, and I'm certain I'm not explaining what I went through very well because I still have trouble contemplating all that this obstacle represents.

The third obstacle was simply that I wasn't ready. There were more things to sift through, more experiences I needed to understand, more.... It seemed no matter how much crap I uncovered, there was another layer underneath and it was impossible for me to allow healing until I had examined each wound in depth. I had to understand exactly what had happened. I don't know why I felt this compulsion. I've known others who have felt relief simply by allowing themselves to acknowledge in a very general way, that something took place which should not have happened. They don't have to research or ask questions. They just accept reality, work through the sadness, grieve, and find peace. I have to dig about, look at every angle, think for awhile, release all my expectations that I'm magic and can change everything. Even then, sometimes I have to repeat the process a few times. As long as I'm in that mode, allowing someone else access to my problems is impossible.

The fourth obstacle was that I could not accept reality. I wanted to change things. I wanted to have some magic reunion with my mother in which she told me I was the daughter she had always wanted. I wished to somehow make it so my cousin had never raped me. I wanted to make all the bad things go away. When I finally began to realize it wasn't going to happen, I felt that everything I had done was pointless. Nothing seemed to matter--least of all the intervention of Christ's atonement. If I couldn't have what I wanted, nothing else would make me happy.

One day, not too long ago, I took a step back and began to count my miracles:
1. My mother is still in my life. She loves me. She doesn't feel a mother/daughter bond, but we're friends. She shows me concern and support. She tries to bridge the gap between us, even as I do. Our goals are different--but still, we're trying. And I know she holds me in high esteem. She has often expressed that.
2. I met Darrin. He loved me in spite of all that was wrong with me. He saw the things that were right with me. He has never gone away from me physically, or emotionally. He has been at my side for more than half my life. I have never doubted his love for me. I thought that one day he'd get tired of me and leave--but I still believed he loved me, and I don't think anymore, that he's planning an exit. I think he wants to stay with me. Maybe it's because I'm cute and funny. Or maybe it's because he can somehow see the person I wish I could be--and he has faith that I'll get there someday.
3. I lived. There were many, many times as a teenager that I wished to die. There were moments when I planned my death and tried to bring it to pass. Each time I walked away. There was a greater need to continue my life--I was just too stubborn to die. And I suppose I have to acknowledge that somewhere inside me I was sure that if I kept searching for answers I would find them, and that someday someone would love me--perhaps even save me.
4. I spent years being strengthened by my Heavenly Father. He led me step by step to the places where I could learn and grow. He blessed me with children who have taught me many things. He helped me find faith. He let me know how very much he loved me.
5. When the time was right, I sought help to deal with the things that I had buried. I was led, not immediately, but through trial and error, to Therapist, who has been astute enough to know exactly how to help me proceed. And even when he left, a way was made for me to continue seeing him until such time as I no longer had a need.
6. I have never been alone. I have been blessed with countless friends, well-wishers, interested parties--whatever. Some have been extremely close to me, offering me daily love, sometimes a much needed hug, or just a listening ear. I've had opportunity to realize that I can be of importance in the lives of others. I can't begin to count the hours given by people who are concerned about me. I have no way to thank them, but I will always be grateful.

There are so many more miracles. I could never list them all. But in the midst of understanding how God has worked in my life, I have also realized something else. More than once people who love me have commented how they wished I had not had to endure what happened to me. They have expressed a desire to ease my pain. On that subject I once had this conversation:

me: In the past, when I've been next to you, my insides feel as though they just relax.
TB: How did it feel?
me: Glorious. It feels as though I'm loved and protected, with nothing expected in return. Does that make sense? This is making me cry. Yuck.
TB: It makes sense. And it's all right to cry.
me: Tolkien Boy, I don't want to need that. I want to be strong--to be able to protect myself without anyone helping. And deep inside I also know there's a part of me that will always want to feel that someone else cares and is watching out for me--even if that feeling isn't authentic in the one from whom I've receiving it.
TB: Sam, you are perfectly capable of being strong. What you need is to allow yourself the ability to feel that it's all right to let go of being strong for a while.
me: That's what I'm doing, isn't it? When everything relaxes? I'm pretending someone else (you) is taking care of me for a moment while I rest?
TB: You're not pretending, though. You're letting it happen.
me: It's real?
TB: Yes, it's real.
me: Thank you. That's something I've been trying to understand.

In moments such as these I understand on the most basic level that Christ felt what I felt because if all people were to be allowed agency, he could not interfere. Even if it was possible to stop what happened to me, he would not because he loves each person enough to allow them to choose whatever they will. And so, because the bad things happen, Christ endured the agony along with us, so that when we were ready, we could turn to him and allow him to hold us, let all the tension and anger relax, and just for a moment, let him take care of us while we rest. Sometimes it takes a human representation of that for me to understand. But the bottom line is that Jesus Christ loves me. I'm certain that if he could have chosen the events of my life, it would have played out differently--but he couldn't, so he does what he can to help me through. And in the process I learn to trust him, to believe that one day all will be put right, to have faith that I can allow the things that have hurt me to come to rest.

Today is Easter. The events celebrated on this day are deeply significant to me. Because my Savior chose to accept the responsibility of the atonement, I have hope that I can one day understand how to allow that act to work a miracle in my heart. I have faith that soon I will allow him to hold me close, to let the things that have worried my spirit relax, to trust that he will love and protect me in any way possible.

Jesus Christ died that we might live--temporally and spiritually. As I learn more, and I experience love from others, as I recognize the strength inside me, I see his hand in my life and I am overwhelmed. He has asked me to come--step by step, I am trying. He has asked me to follow him--after treading many different paths I have come to realize that his is the only one which brings me peace. He has asked me to learn of him--I intend to continue doing that for the rest of my life.

Happy Easter. On this day, I wish you peace.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Okay--here it is!

I've been talking about this for over a year now, and it's looming ever closer.


Now, I know not everyone runs, but I still think you should join me. We can be in the 90-100 minute jog/walk wave. There are also walk/jog and walking waves, but I think everyone is younger than I am and you can keep up with me. So far DJ, AtP and Sully have agreed to wear my proposed team shirt:

Well, truthfully, Sully hasn't said he will, but I know he'll say yes and it will look stunning on him.

However, the shirt isn't mandatory, and if you believe it will emasculate you, you can choose another.

Just come.

Run with me...

It will be so much fun....

Friday, March 14, 2008


When I visited Ambrosia and Bawb last weekend, AtP and I spent a few minutes looking at the pictures on the fridge, and I noticed they had credit card magnets. Apparently, when credit card companies solicit Ambrosia (and AtP, too), they send useful magnets--not the stupid pretend plastic cards I always receive which are good for nothing except to use when marking scriptures. They make great straight-liners (not a word...don't care...).


Today I received my first credit card solicitation magnet. So my fridge is almost as cool as Ambrosia's and Bawb's. I can now visit them without feeling I am a magnet underling.

I love it when my status elevates.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How quickly we forget

I'm now in my third week of feeling that my life is normal once again. I read some of what I posted on my super-secret blog (which basically consists of me screaming because I felt like I was losing my mind), and I wonder why I felt that way. I can't imagine me as the insecure, clinging, weak idiot who wrote those words--but I know I was. Part of me is simply mystified that I could ever feel such needs, be so weak, worry that someone might not love me. Part of me understands that many of those feelings and impulses are left over from when I was a pre-teen, and I pushed them aside so that I could cope with the unusual situations in which I found myself. Now that I'm older, stronger, and my support system is much better, I believe I allowed myself to finally work through those feelings.

I suppose, in my heart, I still ache a little because the "situations" happened in the first place. There is a part of me that fights against complete acceptance--a part that says it wasn't right or fair in any sense of those words, and that I deserved better, not because I'm special, but simply because children should not have to deal with rape and abuse--ever. I will believe that until I die.

But there is also a sense of calm that tells me I'm okay. I don't have to accept all of it. It shouldn't have happened. But I can mourn the acts and continue forward. I spoke with a friend at the outset of my decision to seek counseling a couple of years ago. She said she had experienced some abuse in her life and that she felt completely healed. There were no scars. For a long time, I hoped that would be my outcome. At this point I have to acknowledge that her experience was not mine--and I may never feel, as she does today, that it is as if it never happened. As I would never wish others to compare their experiences with mine for the purpose of progress or judgment, neither should I compare my experiences with others. My life is my own.

If you have followed my writing for the past couple of years, I hope you have recognized that when I was weak, I was simply tired. It's exhausting to feel emotions that have been simmering for many years. It's daunting to recognize that one's past really was frightening and horrible. It's miserable to have to live through the reality, and then repeatedly flash back through the memories, years later. I'm not sure I was ready for all the nastiness I encountered. I am so grateful I did not have to walk alone as I worked through everything.

If there have been times when I seemed disappointed or discouraged at trivialities--when I gave in to coping habits that did not help me--when I wasn't brave or strong or courageous, I hope anyone who loves me will understand that this is who I am. I'm human. I'm often overwhelmed by things I don't understand, I have never been brave, there will always be times when my choices are not the best.

I am also one who seeks out beauty. I always have. I'm entranced by the color of a flower, the majestic strength of a thunderstorm, the smell of something wonderful baking, ice crystals in the air... but more than that, I am often speechless as I consider the beauty and strength I find in my spouse, children, and wonderful friends. To see inside--to really know someone--to feel humbled because they have allowed me to come close enough to look--that is true beauty.

After all is said and done, when I have forgotten the pain of experience and memory, there will still be beauty, and, with luck, love for me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Progress Report

Tomorrow I see Therapist, with whom I am forever in love.

I feel that my life belongs to me once again. I've come to the end of some of the contracts I accepted so that I wouldn't have to think about anything but work--and I've not replaced them. I'm becoming integrated in Darrin's ward. I attend Sacrament Meeting in my ward, then go to his for two meetings, then back to mine to accompany the choir, thus, giving the illusion of being in two places at once (who says I'm not magic?!). I'm not spending more time with my family, but I'm with them when we're together now, mentally and emotionally.

For me, knowing things are better means not caring--and I mean that in a positive way. I don't care what's happening in my cousin's life--it belongs to him. I don't care if my mother can never see me as a daughter--I am her daughter, I will live with the situation. There are also lots of "it's okay" parts that make me feel better, as well. It's okay if I take time off work--I'll make it up--I always do. It's okay if I have trouble eating--I'll try again tomorrow. It's okay if I'm sad by myself--sometimes that happens. It's okay if friendships wane or even cease--what a blessing that they happened in the first place. And, in conjunction with that, it's okay if I miss people, even if they don't miss me. It doesn't make me weak, it just means I care about them and I wish things were different--and that's okay, too.

I mentioned my huge accomplishment (it may not have seemed huge, but it was) in being able to manage PTSD symptoms lately. Other things have happened, as well:
1. I made an appointment for a physical. I think I might be able to keep this one, but it's not for about eight weeks, so I'm a little nervous. However, that also gives me time to think of ways to talk to my doctor before the examination. I'm convinced that I need to give her the information she needs so I'm not reacting in ways she doesn't understand.
2. I talked to a new friend last night and told him my background. I rarely do that. I told him in much nicer terms than those I used with Tolkien Boy, but I remember thinking after I let Tolkien Boy know everything that had been done to me, that I would never hear from him again--and I was actually okay with that. I was very surprised when he came back to talk to me the next day. I realize now that if someone is scared off because I was mistreated as a child, that person is probably not someone I need in my life. Anyway, I didn't feel overwhelmed or frightened as I shared this information (it came up because he asked where he would find my blog--I felt a bit of background might help him decide whether or not he really wanted to visit).
3. I don't feel I need to tell my story anymore. Unfortunately, it mirrors that of too many young girls and boys and no doubt needs to be shared, but not by me. My purpose was to stop hiding from the things that had hurt me, and to allow those things to become known. I made them known online, within my family, and with a few selected friends. I will share my experiences if I feel it is appropriate, but I believe it's time for me to rest from that effort right now. My goal was to talk about it until my shame was gone, my grief was spent, and I became comfortable being the person I am--and that includes the sad parts of me, as well as the joyful ones. I have accomplished my goal. I'm okay being me.

I think I will ask to see Therapist one more time in the next couple of weeks--just to make sure everything is staying in place--and then I will begin to let go of the man I've been in love with for a couple of years. I suppose, as much as anything else, love is truly about letting go.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Quiet and Ready Enough

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
~Henry David Thoreau


Sometimes we don't really wish for compensation. We want to rage and cry. We want to fantasize that the disappointment never happened, or that we can make it go away. We want to be held and comforted, but never pitied. We want to forget.


After years of trying the other things...weeping...feeling used...wishing life was different...wanting what I cannot have...silently screaming...

I am finally quiet.


I'm not sure I'm ready quite yet to look for the compensation within the disappointment. I think, for a moment, I'll just let everything rest. Tomorrow I'll have the strength to acknowledge my blessings with gratitude. Just...not today.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

TMI--there! You're warned!

For most of my life I have felt hatred toward my body. Therapist believes it's how I coped for so long in a seemingly "normal" capacity. I channeled all the negative feelings about being raped and abused and associated them with my body. In essence, my body was responsible for everything bad that had happened. If I had not had a body, it could not be abused. Makes complete sense, right?

I've never believed Darrin when he paid me complements about my physical appearance. I just thought he had very bad taste. Someone once asked me what I saw when I look in the mirror. Truthfully, I've never really thought about it. I've never analyzed if I was physically attractive--I don't think I've ever cared.

For about ten years I was an avid body builder. I told my family I did it because I liked feeling strong and healthy. In truth, I believe I did it because if anyone ever attempted to hurt me, I wanted to be sure I could defend myself.

Clothing has often been an issue to me. I have never been comfortable wearing anything form fitting or even slightly revealing. It was not unusual to see me in long pants all summer long and rare to see any part of my chest exposed. I always dressed in clothing at least two sizes larger than I actually wore. I think I did this because I thought it made me look bigger, and also because I was hiding the body that betrayed me.

Things have been changing for me, however. Tabitha told me two years ago that she thought I should let her choose my clothes. I was in need of some new ones--and I certainly didn't care what I wore--so we went shopping. We came home with a new wardrobe for Mom. Some of the clothes I didn't wear for a few months, because I just couldn't get used to how I looked in them. Some I wore one time, but not again because a man commented on the outfit, or about my looks--unacceptable. Eventually, though, I became used to wearing things that fit.

Tolkien Boy told me after he met me the first time that I "dressed very youthfully." Well, I suppose that can't be avoided when one's daughter is choosing the wardrobe. But I noticed last year that I lived in shorts and capri pants all summer long, and DJ told me some of my shirts have "cleavage peeks". That would never have happened five years ago when my wardrobe consisted mainly of t-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans.

Honestly, over the past two years I've been able to view my body in a rational light. It's pretty amazing. I've put more than 1500 miles on it every year--literally, and it still works wonderfully. It's borne me three children. It's rarely ill. Its total cholesterol is 118. And some of my good friends tell me it's very lovely. And Darrin tells me, after all these years, it's as beautiful as it's ever been.

I think I stopped feeling that I hated my body about nine months ago. At that point I started being very grateful for it. In spite of the horrific trauma it was put through--my body still works.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I'm winning

After spending nearly a year trying to figure out how to recognize and combat the symptoms of PTSD, I think I'm finally figuring things out. During the past ten days I've experienced several bouts of feelings that usually end up overwhelming me. My normal reaction is to say stupid things, or isolate myself, or assume that isolation is unnecessary because everyone will leave me anyway. This time however, I was finally able to:
1. Notice the feelings when they were still forming.
2. Recognize that they had no basis and were stemming from fatigue or stress.
3. Take the time necessary to acknowledge the feelings without allowing them to escalate.
4. Have patience while waiting for the feelings to run their course.
5. Get adequate sleep and exercise.

Amazingly, even though I've had a few days when I've felt down (it's not easy to go through this, even though I'm aware they're just feelings), I can sense the feelings beginning to ease. I'm hoping I'll eventually become used to this process, and it will become second nature.

My dad noticed I was struggling, which was why he insisted on my being with family this weekend. He thinks he single-handedly helped me out of my slump--and I'm letting him. He needs to feel that he's helped me in some way, because he still agonizes over the things that happened to me which he could have stopped had he known what was going on. Truthfully, by the time I joined in the festivities, the feelings had worked themselves out, but I recognized my need to get away for a day, and it was good for me.

Now that I'm feeling more able to manage this lovely condition, I'm looking back at how many times I allowed it to damage relationships and I'm a little sad. I wish I knew what to do to mend things. But maybe some things can't be made better.

So--if you're a casualty of my inability to deal with my life, I'm sorry. I miss you. And I love you.