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Sunday, June 29, 2008


Some days are beautiful. Today was one of those. I skipped my 8:00 a.m. block of meetings (because I was really tired after my lack of sleep thing and my trip to see Therapist). I slept in until 10:00, then Adam and I joined Darrin in his student ward at 11:00. A former seminary student was there with his wife and baby. I haven't seen him in nearly three years. It was wonderful to meet his wife and give him a hug.

Adam wanted to go for a walk after church. It was beautiful today, so I was more than willing. He texted Sully, who met us at a meadow filled with my favorite flowers. We walked a few miles back to our house where we talked about awkward experiences with body functions for awhile--now Sully can never leave our family circle. Once we've shared those kinds of secrets there's no escape.

We ate dinner -- a spinach and berry salad with optional tofu, pineapple, and red peppers -- and I drove Sully home because his family had started dinner without him.

As I drove back home, I realized that in spite of the setbacks, I feel calm. Sully and I had talked about how, for the past few months, I've moved from one emotional situation to the next, without employing the structure and logic which seem to be so vital in my life. I've been thinking about that for a few days, and I think it's time to start looking at things logically, once again. This doesn't mean I'm planning to bury or ignore my feelings, just that I need to be able to assess what's happening to me without becoming completely irrational.

When I got home, Adam and I made rice crispy treats with m&m's, and AtP left a message on my cell phone, letting me know he loves me and misses me a little bit.

I've spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself lately, lamenting the things I didn't receive, wishing I could somehow delete the abuse, rapes, and resulting conditions from my life. But even though today, I still want that, I also think my life is very wonderful, and I'm deeply blessed.

Sometimes I just know, no matter how difficult the path may be, I'm going to be all right.


When I was 16 I decided I would be happy. And I was--determinedly, fervently, vibrantly happy. I radiated it. I laughed often. I was delighted easily. I danced and played. And because of this, I was always surrounded by people. It seems that "happy" is something to which people are attracted.

What those "friends" didn't understand was that their simple presence made me nervous. I had no desire to be the life of the party--but I was. I didn't want to be the one people called to talk to--but they did. I didn't want boys to ask me out, or girls, for that matter. What I yearned for was darkness.

I don't really know how to explain this. I lived miles away from civilization. We had no lights in the night except for the stars. I would wait until my family slept, and then quietly leave my home and walk in the night. The darkness pulsed with sounds. It felt, tangibly, like a blanket, wrapping me up, hiding me from the world, keeping me safe. I would walk for nearly two hours, then return home to sleep.

And the next day I would be "happy."

There is a part of my soul which will always long for solitude, I suppose. I was walking with Sully recently, and I told him that when I think of what I truly wish for, I picture myself in a small home in a secluded wooded area. The nearest civilization would be at least forty miles away. I would be alone with my thoughts. I could walk, once again, in the darkness.

Sully was startled. "You're not serious, right?"

I was serious. He said he never would have supposed I felt that way. He pictured me living with a few very close friends and family members, laughing, making meals with them, spending time just being with them. I believe that to someone like Sully, the solitude I crave would be oppressive.

Ambrosia told me that when one goes to a party or social gathering, there is usually a person everyone is drawn to--someone everyone wishes to meet. She said she sees me as that person. I admitted to her that in social situations, I probably am that person, but it's defensive. The line of logic says:
1. I'm in a place with more people than I am comfortable with.
2. I do not wish to feel intimidated.
3. I do not wish to get hurt physically or emotionally.
4. If people like me, they'll be nice to me.
5. If I am the person who is warm and friendly, people will like me.
Conclusion: I will be warm and friendly--I will make myself accessible for a short period of time and as a result, people will like me and be nice to me until I am able to leave.

This does not mean I don't like people, nor does it mean I don't like spending time with them. It means that I have difficulty managing random feelings of fear that spring up, especially now. For me, it often feels that the only truly safe place is a dark solitude, where I cannot be seen or touched by anyone.

I'm not going there. As inviting as it seems, I have too much to do in the real world. But sometimes at night, when my family is sleeping, I long to walk outside in the darkness--just me and the night creatures, none of whom have any interest in me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Apparently, even if the stupid questionnaire thingy Therapist makes me fill out every session says I'm making significant progress, if I'm having more frequent panic attacks that means I'm not ready to go three months on my own.

But in my defense, the past three months were more than ordinarily stressful.

And really, the panic attacks became more frequent as the therapy appointment got closer.

So now I have to see Therapist next month. So much for my little "vacation."

And all my friends and family will be very glad because most of them have gently hinted (or said straight up) that I needed to see Therapist before the three month mark. I guess they don't like it when I wig out at them.

But I'm not glad.

me: I don't want to do this the rest of my life.
Therapist: You came into therapy with an idea that it was a means to an end--and you had a deadline, didn't you?
me: Three months. I'm now in my third year.
Therapist: Sam, do you understand how far you've come?
me: Maybe.
Therapist: The reason you've been able to get through so much "junk" is because you thought you'd eventually be finished. And you worked like crazy to get to that point.
me: It doesn't exist, does it? The "finished" thing.
Therapist: How about if we look at the things you've accomplished before we talk about that?
me: I was stupid.
Therapist: What makes you say that?
me: I thought I could change everything, somehow. I thought I'd get into therapy and find out that the things I thought I remembered really weren't that bad. I thought I'd remember the reality and find out that I'd exaggerated my memories--but I didn't. In truth the reality was worse.
Therapist: I know.
me: I thought I'd meet with my mom and she'd say she'd always been proud to have me as a daughter, that she'd always loved me. I thought she would want to try to build our relationship into a more appropriate mother/daughter one. I never thought she'd tell me she didn't want that.
Therapist: That was really hard for you.
me: You know what? It doesn't make sense. Because I'm amazing. Anyone should be thrilled to have me as a daughter!
Therapist: You're right.
me: I am?
Therapist: Yes. So where does the fault lie?
me: That doesn't help.
Therapist: I know. So at some point you'll recognize that your mother is the one who is missing out on a wonderful relationship with her daughter. You'll be able to accept that the things you crave, like non-sexual touch and mother/daughter intimacy are not going to happen. Truthfully, I'm not sure you'd be able to accept them from her if she offered.
me: No. Probably not. So--I just have to say, "Well, there's a vital part of emotional healthiness I never received and no matter how much I still need it, I'll just have to get along without it."
Therapist: Probably.
me: That sucks.
Therapist: I know.
me: Do you? Really? Personally, do you know how much it sucks?
Therapist: No.
me: I'm glad. I don't think anyone should ever feel how bad this feels.
Therapist: Sam, I'm sorry.
me: I can't make anything better, can I?
Therapist: You already have.
me: It doesn't feel better.
Therapist: But it's better. You've done so much work. You're being honest about reality, you're feeling things, you're looking for solutions--and you've confronted some pretty awful situations.
me: Because I thought it would solve...something...anything...
Therapist: It did.
me: It didn't.

Therapist: What do you want to do next.
me: Scream.
Therapist: You can.
me: Actually, I can't. I don't know how.
Therapist: No?
me: No.
Therapist: Well, I meant in the long run when I asked the question.
me: I can't quit.
Therapist: You can if you want.
me: No. Again--I don't know how.
Therapist: How about we go back to monthly visits for awhile. We can work on ways to deal with stress so you don't end up panicking. And if you feel all right when the appointment date comes around, you can cancel.
me: Okay.
Therapist: What? no argument?
me: No. I'm too tired.
Therapist: Sam, this isn't like you.
me: Actually, Therapist, I'm not sure what is like me anymore.
Therapist: I think I can help you with that.
me: Yes?
Therapist: Yes. You are a strong person who stopped a historical cycle of abuse when your children were born. You love deeply. You treat people kindly--even those who have misused you. You have the courage to try difficult things. You can keep trying, Sam.
me: For what? I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore.
Therapist: Think about it? For the next month think about what all this means? Try to think about living with a chronic condition (and I'm not saying you have to--I just want you to consider it), but not avoiding or trying to dodge it. Think about meeting it head-on, coping with it in healthy ways, and continuing to do the things that bring you joy. Just think about it, okay?
me: Okay.
Therapist: And let me know if you're still not sleeping in a week? We can get you some medication if you need it.
me: I don't.
Therapist: You don't?
me: No. My sleep problem has a little to do with anxiety, but mostly it's because Darrin has started snoring really loudly. It wakes me up.
Therapist: Hmmm...I guess that's something you'll have to work out for yourself.
me: Yeah, that's what you say about pretty much everything.
Therapist: And it's true?
me: Yup.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Because I have no more words, this will be brief.

Tomorrow morning I will leave to drive six hours to see Therapist. And the only real problem I can see with this is that I haven't slept for about four days. And today, I'm really tired.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friendship 101--who knew I could fail it so many times?

So, feeling all proud of myself, I posted a few days ago (don't look for it--I've removed the post) about how I had finally been able to do an assignment given me by Therapist--one year later. And truly, I did attempt it. I wrote an email to four friends asking them to answer some questions. But one friend responded with a comment I took to be making light of an email that was incredibly difficult for me to write, and that was the end of my bravado. Immediately I was certain that I had opened myself up to be ridiculed in an area where I was vulnerable and I started to shut down.

Two of the other friends responded, indicating their willingness to participate in the exercise, but I had already lost my momentum. The thought that perhaps they, too, would not understand how seriously I took this assignment--that they might make fun of me or hurt me in some other way, would not leave.

Before I lost my courage altogether, I asked the friend who had made the unfortunate comment if he was, indeed, making fun of me. He said no. I'm too lame to believe him.

So I rescinded my questions, and here I am--back where I began. I am a complete failure at this crap. I have no idea what their responses would have been--and the unknown is killing me, but I'm too cowardly to ask them to speak--I'm too afraid the reality will be worse than the unknown. And before you judge me, please remember that for much of my life, my reality truly was worse than anything I could imagine on my own. I'm simply working from my only frame of reference.

I know I'm never going to be able to change my deepest beliefs about myself and about people (which Therapist assures me are absolutely false), if I can't follow through on the simplest assignment.


I can run for miles at an altitude of 8000 feet. I can memorize hours of music and perform beautifully. I can prepare a complicated tax return and argue with the IRS indefinitely. I can turn cartwheels, dance, cook, talk, laugh...

Why can't I do this?!?!????

Why am I so stupid afraid??

A good thing, friend responded quickly and said beautiful things. And amazingly, I believe him. Okay, that makes me cry. There's something very unsettling about believing people. And also something beautiful.

And someday I will stop being confused about all this, and I'll stop hating Therapist--whom I really don't hate, he's just handy and I don't know who else to direct all my frustration at, and I know he'll forgive me.

What does it all mean?

Days like today are difficult.

" are that they might have joy..."

I have joy. I could never say otherwise. I have three beautiful children and a pretty wonderful life. And I'm grateful the abundance I enjoy every day.

But underneath it all, there is a part of me that cannot understand why I still ache. A corner of my heart still wishes to change everything.

I'm not looking for sympathy or an explanation. In honesty, I don't really know what I'm looking for.

I was helping Tabitha clean her room yesterday. She had placed a photograph of my grandmother in a frame. What she didn't know was that in the photograph my cousin David was standing slightly behind my grandma, in the background. She's had the photo for nearly five years now. It has always made me miserable, but I've allowed her to keep it because she has no idea who the man in the background is. Yesterday I asked her if we could throw the picture away, and I explained why. She was more than willing to put cousin David in the trash--and even went so far as to rip his picture into little pieces first.

Part of me is still outraged that I was raped by him. I want that part of me to leave. I don't like feeling anger.

Sunday my mother gave the lesson in Relief Society. I have no idea what the topic was. She began telling a series of stories--all focused on me. And she looked through the audience for me--but didn't see me. I didn't make myself known to her. She continued her stories--some were truer than others. I have no idea why I was the focus--she has seven other children, not to mention in-laws and grandchildren. Ten minutes before class ended, she finally noticed I was there. This was how the lesson continued at that point:

Mom: Oh! You are here! I didn't see you.
Me: (smiling) Yes.

Lesson continues...

Mom: So I'm going to confess that I was not a wonderful mother. I was a yelling mother. My children did not feel safe in our home because of me. I yelled all the time.

(awkward pause)

Mom: But I don't think I ever screamed at my kids. Samantha, do you remember? Was I a screamer, too?

(huge awkward pause)

Me: Mom, I think this is something we could talk about another time, maybe.
Mom: Well! that pretty much answers the question, doesn't it? Anyway, I bring this up because out of my seven children, only two have followed in my footsteps. And you've all heard me talk about what a wonderful mother Samantha is. I'm just really glad that she's not like me--in any way...

There really is no good response to that, so I didn't respond. When I was very small, I used to wish to be like her. I thought she was beautiful. I wanted her to hold me--to think I was beautiful, too. Now I realize that I truly have done everything in my power to become someone completely different from her. People do not recognize that we are mother and daughter unless we tell them--and there is some physical similarity. But I speak differently, I hold myself differently, I refuse to borrow her gestures or speech idioms. And in doing so, somehow, it feels as though I have betrayed us both.

My daughter does not look like me. She is built like me, but has the facial characteristics of the Stevens family. I find her imitating me. She wants to emulate much that I have in my life. She wants us to dress similarly, read the same books, cook together. She was ecstatic when her hair began to have curl like mine. She borrows my clothes. This is all very foreign to me because by the time I was her age, I was planning to leave my home in three years. My mother, at that point, had recognized that I hated her and was trying to make amends. I wouldn't allow it.

She would buy small gifts and leave them on my pillow--a pair of socks, a nightgown, a new shirt or a book. If they exist today, they still have the tags on them. Once she left me a single carnation in a vase on my dresser. I dumped the water out of the vase and watched the flower die. Anyone who knows me well, knows this is pretty extreme--I adore flowers. To go out of my way to insure something I loved died, simply because it came from someone I hated, is unusual for me. But the point is, she tried. I was the one who would not allow any closeness. In my head she had beaten and rejected me from my birth, she invited her nephew into our home to rape me in imaginative ways, and I hated her. This is, of course, skewed by the hormones of puberty. My mother did not condone her nephews actions, and had she known, I'm quite certain she would have done something to help me. Still, there was no trust between us, so I felt unable to talk about the things that were hurting me with a person who had caused years of that hurt.

Which brings me to my first question...What does it all mean? Why am I here? At some point do I stop being pathetic Samantha who was unwanted and abused, and become fierce Samantha who refuses to be stopped by difficult circumstances? And if I have to be both, how do I do that? When may I stop aching for the touch of someone who would cuddle the little girl inside, comfort the adolescent in agony, and tell me that in spite of everything I am wanted just because I'm me?

Probably I already know the answers. It's just that today, they're difficult to find.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

God's Favorite

There's no question. I am.

Today I was assigned a new Visiting Teaching companion. You'll never guess who it is.

Yup. That's right.

On the bright side, I'm guessing there aren't many people who can say they've seen their Visiting Teaching companion's breasts during Sunday School. That's something.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thank you, Google

When I wrote a recent email, these are the ads Google thought applicable:
1. Bed wetting.
2. Sexually compulsive?
3. The Jolie-Pitt twins.
4. Need a prosthetist?
5. Kids technology franchise.
6. Beyond "Stranger Danger."

Obviously, the email must have covered a variety of subjects. However, none of them were remotely close to the topics of the Google ads. I think Google is broken.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Today I came across this blog entry from a blogger who lauded himself for his kindness and open-mindedness.

I figured, since he was talking about something which has direct reference to my life, I'd comment.

So I did. In essence, I thanked him for opposing bigotry and hatred toward homosexuals, and also for sending his words to the Daily Universe. I mentioned that it was nice to hear from one who advocated love and open-mindedness. I posted my comment beneath all the loving, supportive comments from members of his family and friends--all so very glad that he was willing to accept everyone and love them in such Christ-like ways. Dad was very proud he'd raised such a son...

He deleted my comment. Granted, I signed it "An active LDS homosexual," but still--he said he was open-minded. Apparently not open-minded enough to follow through and find out more. Nope. He just deleted me. Perhaps he's open-minded as long as he doesn't have to encounter any of "us". Sounds to me like a church-wide malady.

But I'm thinking it might be nice if a few more of "us" visited him. Just to say nice things. Just to encourage love and open-mindedness. Don't give him reason to justify deleting comments--make sure they're positive. Love him to death...

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Me: Adam, go get in the shower, please.

(Adam and DJ, simultaneously)
Adam: I just did!
DJ: He just did!

DJ: That's why I can't shower! He used all the hot water!
Me: He didn't either. We still have hot water.
DJ: No, we don't. You just showered, too.
Me: I know. But we still have hot water.

DJ (to Adam): Was there hot water when you finished?
Adam: There's still hot water.

DJ: But probably not very much. AAAAUUUGGHHH! I'm not going to get to take a whole shower!!
Me: Then please take a half-shower. I'd rather have you half-clean than not showered at all.
DJ: That's not funny.
Me: Yes, it is. I'm hilarious.
DJ: No, you're not.
Adam: Actually, she kind of is.
DJ: Brown-noser.
Adam: Half-showerer.
DJ: That's not a word.
Adam: Mom likes me best.
DJ: So...I can drive.


If any of you received an inordinate number of texts from my phone last night around 9:00 p.m., I offer my apologies. Tabitha stole my phone and was texting while she was supposed to be sleeping.

Just one more reason for my rule that my children may not have their own phones until they graduate from high school.

Yes, I know that's extreme.

No, I don't care.

The coolest mom...

Tabitha: Mom, I just wanted to tell you that all my friends think you're really cool. At least, I think they do. And when we talk about you, they all say you're cool. Except we never really talk about you. But if we did I think they'd say you're cool. But not the ones who don't know you. I don't know what they'd say.

Blank stare from me.

Tabitha: That didn't make sense did it?
Me: Nope.
Tabitha: I think I'll go clean my room now, because I don't know what I was trying to say.
Me: Okay.

"...To me alone there came a thought of grief: A timely utterance gave that thought relief, And I again am strong."

More changing. Inside.

It's inevitable, I suppose. People aren't built to remain in the same state. Even if nothing changes in their day-to-day activities, their bodies change daily, constantly. So if change is so natural, why do we resist it?

I believe it's because we wish to keep moments. We try to prolong or relive the parts of our lives that have made us feel happy or complete. The funny thing is, even our memories are not stable. My memory of a moment will be different from that of a person who shared that same moment--and three years into the future I will probably remember differently from the way I remember now. We can't really keep anything.

This is probably one reason why LDS people love the idea of the sealing ordinance. It sort of "keeps" people. Even when they're dead. It's one way we can resist change legitimately (and I'm not trying to make something people hold sacred into a commonality--I'm just thinking aloud, so please don't get upset at me).

It seems odd, though, that we also cling to things that hurt us--resisting even a positive change. Somehow we get something from the negative, destructive elements of our lives. We want to stay in whatever state we are in. Perhaps because change is unknown, and takes effort, and is scary--and there's no guarantee that if we do change we'll be better off.

I have no answers. I still resist change even as I embrace it.

But as I allow the changes inside to take place I'm coming to some conclusions which, no doubt, are obvious to everyone but me. That's okay. We all learn at our own pace. And in the years I was ignoring the truths that I now am recognizing, I became a really great Scrabble player...and pianist...and other things...

But this is what I'm discovering now:
1. The things that have hurt me are simply moments in time. They will not happen again.
2. The hurt that comes into my life now happens because I have allowed myself to be vulnerable--and perhaps I chose unwisely--or perhaps the person with whom I was vulnerable didn't recognize that what he/she said or did would be hurtful. Regardless, allowing myself to have vulnerability in relationships that are non-contractual takes a great amount of strength and courage. The fact that I have done so says that I have guts--I'll learn wisdom later.
3. The things that have hurt me in my past are important. Much of what happened profoundly impacted the ways that I interact with people. Many of my gut feelings about love and friendships and trust are incorrect. I am not stupid. I can learn from my positive interactions as well as my negative ones.
4. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to allow casual touch to happen without reacting in some way--even if the way I react is only noticeable by me. But I'm getting better at it. A few months ago I hugged a friend and allowed my hands to slide down his arms. I caught myself before I actually clasped his hands. He looked startled--not that I had stopped, but that I had made the motion in the first place. He knows how I feel about skin touching skin. I was startled, as well. How unlike me. But maybe it's not. Maybe, inside, there is a person who will enjoy touching the hand of someone I love--even if it's just a handshake.
5. For three years I have cultivated friendships--some, very close--and I've been constantly afraid. I've been afraid that I'll be left behind and forgotten, or that I'll use people up, or that I'll be needy, or that one day the friends will look practically at the situation and say, "Why am I friends with her?" I'm afraid, because I have no prior long-term friend experience, that I won't measure up, and I'll fail Friendship 101. Most of all, I've been afraid I'll be hurt. But today, I'm not afraid anymore, and that feels weird. I'm not afraid because:
a) I'm too busy being grateful for the beautiful moments I've had with these friends.
b) I'm too busy loving them to worry about whether or not they love me back.
c) Although I might change how I've approached many things in our friendships, I wouldn't change the people, or the events, or the feelings that have helped me learn more about people.
d) I think, maybe, I'm learning to trust. And I'm recognizing that I'm not trusting that no one will ever hurt me, I'm trusting that when an obstacle of any kind happens, we'll stay the course and work things out, we'll forgive when necessary and keep loving even when it's difficult. I know I will--I'm trusting that they will, as well.
e) I'm learning to celebrate without having a backup plan. I'm learning that people who love each other sometimes have to leave, but they usually come back. I'm learning that what I give is as valuable as what I receive. I'm learning that some people actually don't care if I'm the smartest or the nicest or the most perfect--they just like being with me. And I don't have to entertain the ones who love me the most. Sometimes we can just be together quietly and that's okay, too.
f) I think the most important thing I've learned is that the part of me that yearns for someone to hold and love her is not something to be despised, but rather something that should be acknowledged. As a little girl, I did not receive what I needed to become emotionally secure and healthy. That doesn't have to scar me for life, and it's okay if I still feel those needs and search for legitimate ways to fill them. It's time to stop being embarrassed by my need for love.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Up late again. This always seems to happen when I'm thinking.

I went for a walk with Sully yesterday. A jogger passed us. I pointed out the butterfly that was keeping the jogger company. Most people don't see them. I think, maybe, the insects are attracted by the moisture we emit when we run--through our breath and our sweat. Whatever the reason, the butterflies flit about the joggers who usually don't realize they're even there. Sully said he'd never seen it before. I like the butterflies to come with me when I run, so I watch for them.

I think the things I'm figuring out are like those butterflies--beautiful, fragile things flying just our of reach but in plain view--waiting for me to stop running for just a moment and notice what was there all the time.

As each new connection is made, I find myself crying. But it isn't the crying that makes me ache because I'm so sad. It feels more like a release of something that's been building inside me for many years. It doesn't hurt. It feels as though each tear cleanses me. I've never experienced this before. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I should be sleeping

The funny thing is that I haven't had a nightmare or flashback for nearly two weeks. Even when I was feeling stress a week ago they weren't present. Granted, I did some mental work to prepare for dealing with them should they present themselves, but they didn't. So there's really no reason for me to avoid sleeping right now.

Here's the thing. I've done so many mental gymnastics and tried so hard to figure out how to navigate human relationships that now, when I've finally started to figure everything out and the stress is easing, I'm searching for the next personal mystery to unravel--and quite honestly, I'm not sure there is one. So here I am, pondering my own existence when I should be asleep.

I spent some time talking to a friend this morning and he helped me sort through some of the realizations that have been drifting about in my head. It's good to have a sounding board for that. It's amazing that I'm blessed to have friends who will talk about "me" things. Certainly it must be annoying sometimes. I'm really grateful that some of them will put aside that annoyance because they understand how important this is to me. In turn, their indulgence of my need to find answers makes me feel that they care about my well-being. That's an amazing feeling and one I've not had many opportunities to enjoy.

A man stared at me in the grocery store tonight. Feeling miffed because I wasn't in the mood to be stared at, I met his gaze a bit defiantly. He smiled. I didn't. He smiled more, and walked over to me. It turns out, we were in a touring singing group when I was an undergraduate. I didn't recognize him. He said I hadn't changed (which is a big lie). He hugged me. I thanked him for coming over to talk to me and went home.

Last year this would have made me laugh. I might have gotten the friend's phone number and arranged for him and his spouse/significant other to meet Darrin and I for dinner one night. I would do it because it would be difficult and intimidating and last year I was all about thumbing my nose at things that scared me. Now I'm ready to just be comfortable again. I'm no longer putting myself "out there" for any reason. Honestly, I don't see the point. I know who I am. I have nothing more to prove.

Former blog friend, Ward Cleaver emailed me last week. For any newbies (that would be those of you who have blogged fewer than two years), he was my first online friend. He'd been blogging since 2004, and stopped blogging in the fall of 2006. We kept in touch sporadically (which means I emailed him because I missed him, but he usually didn't respond), so when I heard from him last week it was a bit of a surprise. There was nothing profound in the message. It was short and cryptic. It had no salutation nor element of friendliness. There was mention that he would write later. I had made peace with the idea of not hearing from him again. He interrupted that peace. Now I'm hoping that he actually will write, let me know how his life is going, and allow me to talk back. There was a time when he was my sole support outside of Darrin. I have missed him. I think there are times when people don't understand how important they have been to another person. He was important to me.

There are lots of changes happening inside me right now. It's unsettling. Much of what I'm feeling comes from that awful "acceptance" thing. I realized a couple of days ago that I've accepted the bad stuff that has happened in my life. I've accepted that I can't change it or make it go away. But I haven't accepted the good things about myself. I've been working on that. I've spent so much time tearing myself down that it's difficult.

Today Sully and I were discussing some of the things many people tacitly understand about friendships and intimate relationships--things that escape me. I told him there are certain thing I have to be told, or I don't understand that they're true. I started realizing this last summer because Sully had written me a letter in which he had mentioned that he was certain we would be a part of each other's lives forever. That's not something I ever feel certain about--but to have him state his surety that that was true gave me the impetus to believe with him. I couldn't do it on my own, however. I needed him to say it.

Realizing that I need to hear certain things helps me understand why, if I don't hear them, I become insecure. I mentioned that I should probably just tell people when I need to hear reassurances. Then I said, "But it makes me feel less of a person. It puts me in a vulnerable position for me to admit that I don't understand what others take for granted. And I feel like an idiot saying, 'Hey, by the way, I really need to hear that you love me. And it would also be nice if you could mention that you'd like us to be friends for a long time.'" But the stupid thing is, if someone I cared about had similar difficulty and came to me to ask for such reassurances, I'd feel incredibly honored that the friend was comfortable expressing his/her needs and had faith in me to respond.

Sully said most people who love me would feel similar feelings if I told them the things I need to hear. He said he definitely would. I think I need to come to a place where I can accept that I am a person who can and should be valued. Sully said he thinks my belief that I will be left behind and forgotten is incorrect. Perhaps my email from Ward bears that out. He didn't sound as though he missed me at all, but still, something reminded him of me. He was changing his email address, and may simply have come across an old email and felt it courteous to respond--but he didn't have to tell me he was changing his address. If he truly wanted to disappear, he could have. Perhaps I'm grasping at straws...

The truth is, I believe everyone wants to have importance in other people's lives. I don't think it's an ego thing. I think maybe, it's a basic human need to connect with other people and not be forgotten. I've always known how to connect--and I've traditionally followed it up with a disconnect. Now that my goal has changed, I don't wish for the disconnect, and I'm learning to deal with the uncertainty that creates.

It sort of goes back to faith in human beings. It's about trust. Two things I lack. I think I'll go to bed now. I believe I've just figured out the thing I need to work on next.

Why I love Sully

Because he might be the first person in the world to become a vegan environmentalist author olympic-swimmer musician engineer organic-farmer massage-therapist. Sometimes he reminds me a little bit of me. And it's possible, if he completes the last one, that I might take him up on the massage he says he has reserved for me. Maybe.

Besides, I like the way he smells and he'll stand on my front porch with me and watch my roses bloom.

And he makes me laugh.

And he's not scary and I'm not stressed around him.

So maybe it wasn't such a horrible thing for all of my therapists to insist that I learn how to make friends and keep them around.

Sully says he's pretty sure I'm a permanent fixture in his life and the only one who can remove me is me. I plan to remind him of that on a regular basis.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Life is so funny. Three years ago mine was well-ordered--it wouldn't dream of being otherwise. Any negative thought or emotion was buried in a flurry of busy-ness. I was happy. There was no doubt in my mind that I was happy.

As I look back at the roller coaster I've been riding since then, I sometimes wonder how I have continued. I was sifting through memories and emotions decades old. They'd been sitting for a long time, waiting for me to find them. They were fairly potent when I buried them. Time simply made them stronger.

I have mentioned before that somehow I went into this believing I'd make everything better. I don't know how I expected that to happen. "Better" to me, at that time, meant that maybe what I thought I remembered really didn't happen. "Better" meant that I was wrong about my mom--surely she had always loved me and I was the one who simply did not recognize it. "Better" meant that my nightmares were simply figments of my imagination, not flashbacks to a past that was intolerable. I was wrong on every account.

I think one of the hardest things for me to cope with was watching my hope of "better" die in what was real. For years I had been burying the reality of what had happened with my cousin under words which masked the agony I felt when I looked at it. I couldn't say I was raped. I couldn't say he was a pedophile. I couldn't say that I would have given anything just to be held by someone when I shook with pain and confusion when I was left alone. When I finally said those things, when I actually looked at what happened, I was terrified.

For my entire life I had been jockeying for a position among my siblings in my mother's heart. I believed it was there--I simply had to find it. There had been abuses, but I was not a perfect child. I did not agree with the treatment I had received, but I was ready to forgive everything just for her to tell me she was glad I was her daughter. She told me she had come to love me. She told me I was a beautiful child. She told me she knew I had always tried to build a loving relationship between us. Then she admitted that she had no desire for a mother/daughter tie. She was satisfied with our "friendship." She thought she was helping us both come to terms with our less than ideal past. She had no idea that she killed the hope of the little girl inside me, still waiting to be held and loved by her mom. She did not know that in this last act she hurt me more than any abuse she had given in my past. She didn't know. Maybe that's why it took so long for me to accept her offer of friendship, and let go of the hope I had clung to throughout my life.

So I spent months wondering what to do next. Nothing was better. Every bad thing had been confirmed. I had a choice to make. I had to decide how to proceed, given the parameters of reality. I could no longer control all aspects of my life. I couldn't pretend a past that didn't exist, and I was unsure if I could live with the one that was real.

About twelve weeks ago I began looking at who I really am. I am stubborn. I don't give in or give up. I am gifted in many areas. I have greater than average intelligence and the guts to flaunt it (as evinced by my membership in MENSA--the super secret national/international society of nerds--thousands of people are members, and they're too embarrassed to tell people about it--really, we need a tattoo or something). I have feelings I hate which overwhelm and frighten me. I have a wonderful marriage. I have kids who make me laugh everyday. I live in a beautiful, wonderful world. I started believing once again, that I don't need anyone. I am enough.

Unfortunately, I didn't know what to do about all those people who have been in my life for the past three years. The ones who talked to me till four in the morning because I was too afraid to sleep. The ones who visited me and stayed up all night so we wouldn't miss one moment of time together. The ones who hugged me. The ones who held and watched over me so I could sleep, because I was too tired to live. The ones who called me, emailed me, left messages on my blog. I didn't know what to do with them because I had fallen in love with each one--and what can you do when that happens?

So I tried to put my life back in order based on relying solely upon me. But those pesky loved ones kept coming back. And my stupid heart was really happy when that happened, which was completely aggravating and confusing and stressful. So I quit trying to put my life back in order, sat back and let things simply take their course.

The irony of all this is that as I did so, many of those loved ones have found that they are pretty busy with their own lives, and mine has become much less interesting--which is as it should be. I'm finding myself with more alone time than I've had in a couple of years. In fact, I'm finding that my life is circling back. I'm not involved with the youth of the church anymore. My contact with online friends is waning. I'm spending more time running outside, working my jobs, and playing with my kids. I don't go to lunch with friends anymore (that was an assignment when I first began counseling--I did it faithfully for two years--this year is mine). I read more books and do more research about topics I find fascinating. I have no more desire to defend my sexual orientation, marriage choice, or religious beliefs--mostly because I just plain don't care what anyone thinks. If the entire world found out tomorrow that Samantha Stevens was gay, married, and a mom, I'd probably just shrug and go mop my kitchen floor, because it really needs it.

I made the mistake of bonding with a friend in such a way that I put that person in the role of my parent. Given the things we've been through together, the things we've discussed, and the personal contact we've had, possibly the emotional tie was inevitable. It was an unfortunate side-effect, but I believe in time, I'll grow beyond that and in the meantime, it's rare for me to ask anything of anyone, so I don't think that friend will even notice. At this point our time together is fairly limited, so I believe there will be no opportunity for that association to do anything but dissipate.

I find myself once again defining the things I hold dear, and hiding them away from the world. But this time it's not because I'm keeping part of me away, but because these are things I wish to protect and cherish. No one else can understand their importance--and that's okay. This is not defensive. This is me, remembering joy and saving it for later.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Having a moment when I miss everybody!!

That's all. But if you were here, I would hug you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Breaking a promise

I know. I said I wouldn't talk about this anymore. But I've reached some conclusions, and after all, this is my blog. I can decide what I want to write and I don't have to adhere to any rules, even if I made them myself.

I made a comment in a forum I read occasionally that I've not figured out how to feel comfortable in close friendships. I've tried for about three years, but I still have intense moments of insecurity and doubt. I mentioned that it's because I know people leave. They just do. It's not about love, or loyalty, or honesty. It's about life.

Friendships are non-contractual--that is, they take place between two people without being sealed by blood or marriage. Either partner is free to come or go as they please. But as in any relationship, when there is no promise of stability, trust is a rare commodity. Under normal circumstances this is a non-issue because people seem to understand that most friendships are fleeting, and even those that last can grow apart, be interrupted, or wax and wane with life events of any kind. Only--my heart doesn't understand that. It wants to love people forever and keep them near me--if only electronically. It's a bit neurotic, I understand, and I'm trying to teach that heart of mine to just relax and let people enter my life (or leave it) without feeling a need for something they cannot, nor do they wish to give.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not about to cling. Quite the opposite. If I feel myself wishing for a closeness that is bound to be broken in the future, I start running. I've tried to curb that impulse in the past couple of years, and I've managed to maintain quite a few good friendships, and three or four that I would tag as "close" friendships. But it hasn't been easy. And as time passes I've found myself becoming more and more uncomfortable with those people. I simply do not know how to trust that they love me, and would never knowingly make me unhappy.

So I commented on the forum, and someone answered my comment. The response basically said that most people feel similarly about friendships, and that's why it's best to only have one close, intimate friend. I don't know (and I didn't ask for clarification) if that means one friend for your whole life, or just one close friend at a time. But I've been thinking about this a lot.

Therapist used to say, "In the end, Darrin is the only one who really matters." I cringed each time he said that, because I knew he didn't understand. Darrin is incredibly important--so much that we have contracted to live together forever. He won't leave me, and I won't leave him. I'm pretty comfortable with this, and I trust him. I'm not saying that being married is always easy, but for me I find little vulnerability in my marriage--I trust that Darrin loves me and will always be with me. Even when there are difficulties, there is a part of me that cannot believe Darrin will ever leave--no matter what.

I felt that Therapist was saying, in essence, "Your friends might all leave--but if they do, you'll always have Darrin, and any other relationship is not really that important."

But I think he's wrong. I also think the forum person was sort of agreeing with Therapist with the comment about only having one close/intimate friend--inferring that person would be a spouse/significant other. I think we need more.

I watched a group of four women, probably in their late forties, enter Blockbuster video a couple of weeks ago. They were chatting about their upcoming movie night. They'd spent the day together shopping and going to lunch. They'd booked a hotel room and were going to have a pool party and end with some chick flicks to play while they tried to stay up all night. They were having a slumber party.

I eavesdropped. These women obviously had been friends for awhile. They talked about how they walked together three or four times weekly. They discussed their husbands and children (some had grandchildren). They touched each other frequently--quick hugs, stroking an arm, a hand on the back. At one point a couple of them clasped hands. It wasn't sexual, it was four women who were very close friends, expressing love to one another and sharing joy in being together.

I was fascinated. I've had friends who treated me in the same way, but I have always been uncomfortable--especially with the touching part. It was not a sharing, as these women demonstrated. I was invited to join, but I was unable to accept the invitation. I didn't, and to some extent I still do not, know how.

Part of me wishes I understood this female dynamic. Part of me is just overwhelmed at the prospect of thinking about it. But I think, at some level, all people need to feel loved by a person, or people, who understand their lives, love them deeply, but don't want to have sex with them. And that's where the difficulty begins.

Women bond quickly and immediately. One only needs to touch them in a kind, loving way for that lovely oxytocin to start racing through their bodies declaring, "Hey, this person is a KEEPER!!" And they act like best friends from that moment on--until something upsets the balance and suddenly they're no longer speaking. I don't know how that happens, but I've seen it many times.

Men, on the other hand, never seem to really bond unless they share some sort of life changing event...or a lot of booze. But I think they need the touch and caring as much as the women do. I've watched my sons sit beside each other as they play a video game, or listen in church. I've seen Adam respond when DJ puts his arm around him. Neither seems embarrassed. The contact is usually brief but seems infinitely rewarding. "Just checking in, making sure you still love me," it seems to say. And then they're bickering again about who gets to ride in the front seat of the car, or whose turn it is to use the computer, or why Adam was in DJ's room...

I think the trick is to learn how to accept the caring and closeness without feeling afraid that it will be taken from us. Perhaps I should speak only for myself, but it seems the conundrum is universal--most people struggle with how to build and maintain intimate friendships, I don't hold a corner on the market. I've been working on releasing the fear I've battled for the past few years. It's been difficult and depressing. I work to build closeness in a friendship in which I plan to allow my intimate friend to leave.

But I've had a few thoughts. As a parent, I understand that my children love me. They don't plan to abandon me, but they do intend to build lives apart from me. I'll be included in their lives, always, but I won't always live with my kids, nor they with me. I think close friendships are like that. I love my kids so much that there are times I feel I simply cannot hold it all inside me. I've felt that same strength of love within intimate friendships. I believe I hold a special place in my children's hearts--a place no other person can fill--and I think they'd miss me if I was gone. I'd like to believe the same feeling for me exists in the hearts of my closest friends. I don't expect my children to put their lives on hold to make sure I'm cared for emotionally--nor do I expect that from my friends.

I'm not really comparing things that are equal in definition. I understand that. But somehow, in the comparison, I've finally figured out how to stop feeling that one day the people I've allowed into my life, the friends with whom I've shared emotional honesty, will abandon and forget about me. I don't think they will. After all, I'm fairly unique and difficult to forget. :)

I've made a list of things I hope my children will remember when they leave. To complete the comparison I began, I also made a list of my hopes for those with whom I share deep, loving friendships.
1. Remember that no matter how long it's been since we last spoke--I always want to talk with you. I'm always interested in your life, your thoughts, your hurts, your fears, your triumphs, and your dreams. Please remember that I love to visit with you anytime.
2. If you've found someone special, I hope that someday you'll share that person with me, or at least introduce us. We'll have something in common, because we both love you.
3. If I seek you out, but the timing is bad, just tell me. I'd rather have a tiny hurt because you were busy when I wanted to spend time with you, than a large hurt because I didn't understand why you were avoiding me. Or, worse, learn that you spent time with me when you couldn't afford to and that had a negative impact on you. Honesty really is the best thing.
4. If life takes you away, I hope you remember something I said or did that made you laugh or feel joyful. And someday, when you come back, I hope you'll remind me what it was. I'll do the same for you.
5. I hope, always, you understand that your presence in my life has been a gift for which I am always grateful. Even though it's difficult for me to navigate friendships and feelings, I am always glad you shared a part of you with me. And if you stayed when I was at my worst, I will never be able to thank you adequately.
6. If we both believe that our friendship cannot end--it won't. We'll both try to foster it, even if there are times when we need breaks.
7. If I have given offense, please offer me forgiveness. You can give me no greater gift, nor is there any other way that will show me greater love.
8. If you remember nothing else about me, remember that I love you. More than sunrises, more than running, more than chocolate...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Someday I believe I will simply live without analyzing. I will experience each emotion and event without looking for ulterior motives or ties to my past. I will understand my behavior and reactions without needing to think, graph, compare...

That day is not today.

I have spent the last few days thinking about my PTSD moments. I've charted what led up to each one and compared stress levels, sleep patterns, and appetite waxing/waning. I've looked at my activity levels in work and in play. I've graphed the ups and downs in relationships I feel are important. And I've come to a rather startling conclusion.

I've been allowing myself to be a victim.

I'm not sure when this all began, exactly, but I suspect it was about a year ago and was in full swing by late September. When I look at my reactions to stress, without exception I find myself feeling pitiful, angry that I was wrongly used, fearful that I might have to endure even one more hurt.

The problem is that victims are helpless. I am not, nor have I ever been helpless. Even when I found myself in a position in which I had no choice but to submit to the things done to me, I did not feel helpless. I felt confused. I felt pain. I felt damaged. But something inside me assured me this was not the end, and I would emerge from my nasty experiences wearing Wonder Woman underoos, and sporting every possible super power.

But for the past few months I have felt powerless. I have felt that the events in my life have left me hurt beyond healing, hopeless and sad. I've been certain that I was stripped of any worth I may have been born with. This has left me feeling confused when people show me love--and even a bit defensive. Love makes people vulnerable.

I couldn't understand why I felt sad most of the time. I realize now that I've been preventing myself from relaxing in any situation, certain that I'm not good enough, or that someone will find out how miserable I feel--and it might be someone I truly love--and they might leave me because I'm too broken to be endured.

But I'm not a victim--not anymore.

I looked the man who raped me in the eye, treated him with kindness, and shared a meal with him. I invited my mother to love me, to accept me as her daughter, and when she allowed me to see that she had nothing left to give me, emotionally, I accepted her as my friend and loved her anyway.

I am not a victim.

I thought I was weak. I am not weak. Sometimes I'm afraid--I think that's understandable. Sometimes I'm insecure--I think everyone else feels that sometimes, too. Sometimes I long for someone to hold me and soothe away the ache that paralyzes me when I remember things I experienced which should not have happened--I think I can be forgiven for wishing to be held and wanting someone to make things better.

Today, however, I shifted my thinking. I believe the time for me to view myself as a victim has finally come to an end. I have always hated the term "survivor" because somehow I can't manage to get past the fact that it reminds anyone who says it or hears it that my life had some really awful parts in it. I think I'd rather have people remember me because I get unreasonably excited about a sunset, or because I love to run even when it snows. I'd like them to associate me with the music I make, or with my really wonderful kids. I want them to believe, somehow, I'm magic--and I want them to think of me and miss me because I make them laugh, or I bring just a bit of joy to their lives. I want them to remember that I would eat cookies and high quality chocolate for every meal, and that I adore cooking with food that looks beautiful. I want them to think of our Scrabble games, long walks, great discussions.

So I think, I am not a victim, nor am I a survivor. Somehow, in the shuffle of time I learned how to live beyond labels. I am me. And tomorrow I will run among my favorite wildflowers, and hug my children, and cook a lovely dinner, and sleep cuddled next to Darrin.

It's time to live again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Breathing Again

So I did the things I'm supposed to do to help me manage the feelings and stress which come when PTSD is more intense than usual, and they helped.

I talked to people, made a call list, took naps when I had trouble sleeping at night, stayed active, and spent time with friends and family. I wrote and meditated and read books. I had gratitude.

And today I woke up and realized this particular episode didn't last as long, nor was it as severe as the last.

I don't understand why the list works, but because I did the things on it, here are good things that happened.
1. I let my online friends know what was happening. Some of you took time to express sympathy and offer support. Some let me know I could call. AtP made sure he told me he loves me every day. And he let me tell him all the silly things that were going on in my life, even though he was really busy. I was grateful for the contact from everyone--even if it was as simple as a comment on my blog.
2. I made a call list. And I called a couple of people. Darrin had to leave for the week, and I usually try not to bother him when he's gone, but this time I called him just to talk about nothing--and we did for nearly an hour. It was nice. Other people I know well let me know I was welcome to call--some that I don't know as well also told me it was okay. I didn't call very many people, mostly because it's hard for me, but it still felt nice to know I could if I wanted to.
3. I went out to eat with different friends. We didn't always talk about me. It really felt that there was an equal sharing from between us. I felt valued, not needy.
4. I spent time with DJ and Adam. Tabitha and Darrin were gone so it was just the three of us. Sometimes DJ was at work so Adam and I spent time together. I think my kids are so much fun.
5. Sully came to his piano lesson and we ended up spending much of the day together. He came with me while I taught my music history class (and listened--and participated--and told me I was a great teacher--this is a true friend!), then we spent an hour just talking, then we went to lunch and talked some more. It felt really nice to know he was willing to take time for me.
6. I only got angry once. Unfortunately it happened when Tolkien Boy asked me a personal question. But I thought about the question overnight, and took time to answer it, and in doing so I worked out some of the things that were bothering me. I wish I knew how to do this without getting really angry with the person who triggers the need to figure things out. I wish I could finish the process without feeling that I've acted like a complete idiot. Still, maybe in time that will work itself out. And I think Tolkien Boy will forgive me, even if he decides he doesn't want to talk to me as much--which would be completely understandable.

So today I can breathe again. Life feels normal as my life ever is...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Short Cuts

Me: Adam, this afternoon while I'm at work, I'd like you to wash a batch of dark clothes. You have to put the soap in first, let it dissolve for a minute in the warm water, then put in the clothes and switch the temperature back to cold. Please repeat back to me what I just said.

Adam: Put the clothes in the washer. Switch it to cold.

Me: What did I say before that?

Adam: You're going to work this afternoon.

Me: Let's try this again. Start the washer on warm. What did I just say?

Adam: Start the washer on warm.

Me: Do you know how to do that?

Adam: Um...use the knobby things?

Me: Good. Add soap. What did I just say?

Adam: Add soap.

Me: When there are about three inches of warm water in the washer, add the clothes and switch it to cold with the knobby things. What did I say?

Adam: When there are about three inches of warm water in the washer, add the clothes and switch it to cold with the knobby things.

Me: And when are you supposed to do this?

Adam: While you're at work. But I think I'll do it right now.

Me: Okay.

Moments later Adam and I hear some horrible banging noises coming from the washer.

Adam: That's bad, isn't it?

Me: Yeah. I think so.

I go to the washer and lift the lid. The equivalent of three batches of laundry has been stuffed into the washer drum.

Me: Adam, I think you put in too many clothes.

Adam: There's a limit?

Me: Yes. Apparently, if you overstuff the washer, it makes scary banging noises and could possibly break.

Adam: I'm sorry. I don't want to break the washer. It just seemed silly to do lots of batches if we could wash everything in one load.

Me: Good logic, bad spatial awareness.

Adam: Yeah. It was pretty tough getting everything to fit inside.

Me: Unload about two-thirds of what's in there into the sink, please. You'll have to wash them later. What did I say?

Adam: Unload about two-thirds of what's in there into the sink. But they're all wet and soapy and weird. I don't want to touch them.

Me: Sorry. That's what needs to happen next.

Adam: You're not going to do this for me, are you.

Me: Nope.

Adam: You're making me do this so I won't overload the washer again, aren't you.

Me: Good call, Adam. Is it going to work?

Adam: I think so.

Me: Good to hear. Thanks for your help.

Adam: Hey Mom--just so you know, I've been reading some of your parenting books so I'll know how you're going to manipulate me.

Me: Oh?

Adam: Yeah. Except--they kind of work, don't they?

Me: Sometimes.

Adam: Huh. Will you tell me the times when they don't work?

Me: Probably not.

Adam: I didn't think so.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What is it?

Someone asked me what happens when I start feeling the effects of PTSD. I had never really tried to explain it before, so it was difficult. I believe I said, "Take every negative emotion you've ever felt, roll them into a ball, and stuff it in your stomach. That's what it feels like."

Actually, it's more a shifting of reality. Things I'm absolutely sure of, things I know are real, suddenly become questionable. There are no absolutes. My reaction to this is an irrational testing of limits. My behavior is out of character. I'm deeply unhappy because I feel there is nothing--no one--I can trust. I become paranoid that people I love will not love me back. I look for ulterior motives when people try to get to know me or offer help and support. I'm certain that the only person in the world who truly cares about me--is me.

And through this horrifying mass of feeling I hear my head telling me I'm nuts.

So this time when I started feeling the loss of control, the loneliness, the overwhelming sadness and frustration, I actually did what my stupid how-to-cope list told me to and I contacted people. I asked if I could call when I felt that I was losing my sanity. I prayed more--instead of less, which is my norm. Yeah, I even feel distrust for God when this happens. And even though it didn't make the feelings go away, I felt better. Friends who have told me repeatedly that they love me, reiterated their words. I needed to hear that.

When I'm reassured that my world isn't spinning the wrong direction, when I'm reminded that no one wishes to hurt me, when love is expressed to me by those closest to me, I don't feel as alone. They're just words--but they're coming from other people. It feels like maybe I matter.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...what was the real trauma? There were certainly frightening and physically painful moments presented to me, but I don't believe those are causing the episodes I now experience. As I think about the things which ease my stress and help me keep fighting, I believe the trauma comes from the residual feelings caused by the abuse.

As a child, people close to me created an environment in which I felt afraid, devalued, and unloved. Those three feelings interfere with my ability to trust. I go through the motions of normal life while feeling that at any moment the things I cherish will be taken from me in some way.

When my feelings spiral out of control, my reaction is to run. I want to isolate myself somehow. I don't want people in my life in any way. But each time someone close to me treats me with respect and love, a huge surge of hope twists my guts. Hope that maybe I'm wrong and some people really do know me and love the person I am. Hope that someone I love cares that I was mistreated and wishes to help me heal. Hope that I'm okay, that I'm important, that someone needs me and would miss me if I was gone.

It still hurts when the feelings intensify, but if I don't have to work through it alone, I won't give up. And I'm beginning to understand the need for repetition. Each time I'm reassured by a close friend or family member that they love me and I have a place in their lives, I find it more difficult to discount their words or to doubt their sincerity. Each time one responds to my needs, I feel a tiny bit of trust forming. It doesn't usually stay--but it's enough to keep me coming back, and sometimes I'll even voice my needs to people I'm pretty certain will respond.

It's funny. If the tables were turned and I knew I was in a position to help someone I loved, I'd be honored to give whatever I could. But as one who needs support from others, I feel sometimes that I'm taking what I have no right to ask. I don't know how to get around that feeling. Perhaps that's the next step. There always seems to be one more thing...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Not for the squeamish nor the faint of heart

I'm supposed to be in Sunday School. I left the class last week because I had just spent a week with Darrin's family and I was exhausted. This was aggravated by lack of sleep because Darrin snores loudly, and so does his mother. I was lying, not sleeping, beside loud, snoring Darrin and loud, snoring Mother-in-law was in the room above me, for five straight nights. So when I started nodding off in Sunday School last week, I went to my car and slept for an hour and a half.

So this week I thought I'd be really good and stay the entire time.

Class started off nicely. I sat next to someone I didn't know and introduced myself to her. She's fairly new in the ward--moved in about two months ago. We discovered that her two oldest sons are around Adam's age. We chatted briefly. She seemed very nice.

The lesson began. It wasn't great, but not bad either. I was bristling because a brother was slamming the Born-Again Christians. Quite honestly, that makes me aggravated beyond belief. There are so many more things to discuss and learn about that we have no time to be condescending to anyone, and if we mention other religions, I believe strongly that it should be done with respect and gratitude. Someday I'll post about that maybe.

Anyway, I was already feeling aggrieved at the tone the class was taking (although SS teacher did a very nice job redirecting, but I still wish he had been more strong about defending the right to have other religious beliefs), when I heard New Sister Friend next to me gasp, "Oh, shit!"

Blinking a couple of times, because one doesn't usually hear those words in Sunday School, I glanced surreptitiously at her to see what the trouble was and immediately wished that I had not. New Sister Friend had found a large zit on her chest and was trying to pop it. As she worked on it, the the buttons on her blouse came undone, exposing more chest. Rather than covering up, she simply began working on the other zits that were now exposed, disregarding the other parts of her body now in plain view.

I counted to sixty (thinking this would be ample time for me to appear casual about leaving), gathered my scriptures, and walked out of the class. I went to my car and sprayed Febreeze everywhere. I'm not sure why I did this, but I do know that it helped me stop shuddering.

And now I'm home...sharing my experience...aren't you glad?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Public Service Announcement

You know that button on your car key that unlocks your car doors?

No matter how many times you push it, it won't open the front door of your house.

(hoping no neighbors were watching when I figured this out)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Dentist Sketch - The Carol Burnett Show

...but this is by far my all-time favorite...especially given how I feel about dentists, and all that...

By the way, thanks AJ! I needed that!

Carol Burnett - Tim Conway conducts at Sydney's Opera House

...of this...because I've endured more than my share of odd conductors in my symphony orchestra playing days...

Carol Burnett Show outtakes - Tim Conway's Elephant Story

AJ sent me this and it reminded me....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Here we go again

I've had five beautiful days. Five. Five. Five.

I don't understand why this is happening. I usually have at least three or four weeks before I'm bothered by PTSD crap again. I can't blame stress, because my life is progressively becoming less stressful. I can't blame anything. I want something to blame.

So--tell me a joke? Make me laugh? Remind me that this will pass soon? Help me remember that people are not on earth to hurt me and I don't have to be afraid? Tell me I'm not a failure at life?

I'm not ready...but here it comes...


Dear Client,

I have prepared your taxes for the past twelve years. I thought you understood some "givens" about my services, but it seems I have been mistaken. Therefore, I will list them in the simplest terms:

1. If you send me your bank statements each month so that I can post your expenditures and income, I charge a flat monthly rate. If you hand me all your canceled checks for the year when you secure my tax prep services, I will charge you hourly for the time it takes to sift through each one and determine your deductible expenses. If you don't list in the memo of the check what you were buying, that check will be disallowed. I understand that the information is the same, regardless of whether it is spread out in twelve segments throughout the year, or dumped together in one package, but my time becomes more valuable when you say you would like the return finished in a week. Expect that the hourly amount will more than double what you would pay had you forwarded your statements each month.
2. It really makes no difference to me if you are remaining married or getting divorced. I won't hurry because then I make mistakes--not acceptable to me or to the IRS. Tell the divorce court that we're waiting because of your tardiness in turning in the information to me.
3. If you don't itemize your deposits, and you won't tell me what they're for, I include them all as business income, which means you get taxed on that money. Please be more polite when I call with questions--or it will cost you money. I only charge for phone calls if I am treated rudely.
4. A farm can only be considered a business if it shows some sort of income. If you take expenses for consecutive years, but don't make any sales, that's called a hobby and your expenses will be disallowed. I won't include those expenses, nor will I prepare a farm schedule if it looks like you're trying to commit fraud. And don't argue with me--my first commandment of Good Business Practices is: Never go to jail for a client.
5. I won't release your return unless you pay for it first. I don't care if you're getting a sizable refund and would like to pay me when you receive that. I don't care if you're a little short on cash. The return will be in your hands when it's paid for. You don't buy supplies from Walmart and offer to pay when your tax return comes in. Pretend I expect payment for my services, just as they do.
6. Never cry in my office when you drive up in a 2008 vehicle. Go sell your truck and use the proceeds to buy a less expensive car which gets better gas mileage--and pay your bill to me.
7. A box of potatoes or oranges will not soften my position about this.

Samantha Stevens
Amazing Financial Advisor and Tax Preparer Extraordinaire

P.S. If you disagree with my stance on this, I'm perfectly willing to chalk my time up to a bad debt, and return all your documents so that you can prepare your taxes yourself or go to someone else. However, in that event, I plan to keep the potatoes and oranges.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Banned Commercial - Condoms

Just because I think it's funny.

Zürich Chamber Orchestra | Roller Coaster

Just because I think this is cool.

Home Evening

I have warped my children. I know--stating the obvious...

About five years ago I discovered a book, Nancy Drew's Guide to Life. It caught my eye because when I was a pre-teen, my mother decided we should own the complete series of Nancy Drew mysteries. She had never read them herself and I think she had always wanted to, and she had six young ladies growing up in her house whom she thought would enjoy the books. They were fairly expensive for our family budget, and the books came and sat on the shelf. I was the only one who read them, and not because I was interested, but because I found it impossible not to devour anything in print.

My father decided he needed to read the books to find out why my mom was so excited about buying something she knew nothing about. So he read them--all 56 mysteries. Soon every situation in our home was being titled in the Nancy Drew genre. My father couldn't find his belt. He began exclaiming, "It's a mystery! I shall call it The Missing Belt Conundrum!" There were eggs for breakfast. He found a shell in his. It became The Culinary Clue Mystery. We cycled through The Mysterious Missing Cows, The Case of the Crying Baby, The Clue in the Toybox. In time we simply expected that every instance of our lives could be described with a Nancy Drew style title, and we weren't at all surprised when someone forgot to flush after using the bathroom and we heard my dad shouting, "Look! It's The Mystery of the Snakes in the Toilet!!"

Needless to say, it was a memorable summer. So years later, when I came across Nancy Drew's Guide to Life, I had to have it. It's a spoof on the made-to-order writing formulas utilized by the Stratmeyer Syndicate under the pen name, Carolyn Keene. Examples of their wisdom:
1. "When pinned down by a large canine, instruct friends, family, even random passersby to direct a hose on the beast." --The Mysterious Mannequin
2. "Loophole in moral code: It's okay to steal a car if it belongs to your kidnappers." --The Whispering Statue
3. "After receiving an electrical shock to the system, find as many men as possible to vigorously massage you." --Mystery of the Glowing Eye
4. "Don't force your date to go to a ballet or another activity that may not be to his liking if he was knocked unconscious earlier in the day." --The Double Jinx Mystery
5. "When trying to investigate a property that's off limits, consider putting your flying lessons to good use and fly over the area." --The Clue in the Crumbling Wall

Of course, those are only a few of the nuggets of wisdom available in the book. I loved it so much that I posted a quote from the book each day in seminary (yeah, I'm a spiritual giant when I teach), just because these were too wonderful to keep to myself. My class loved it (some of the boys are now proud owners of their own copies of the Guide to Life) and to our delight, we heard that a new Nancy Drew movie was in the making. We made plans to go see it as a class, but alas, it was not released until after the school year was over.

So Monday night, Tabitha and I rented Nancy Drew from Blockbuster. And for Family Home Evening, the Stevens family (sans Darrin) watched it from beginning to end. And it was a stupid movie. And we loved it--see--I told you I've warped my children. We would have loved it if it had been more incredibly stupid than it actually was.

I'm thinking it's time for a seminary reunion for the purpose of watching a movie with periodic intermissions in which to quote portions of Nancy Drew's Guide to Life. Like this one: "If a bleeding, screaming man runs from shore and starts swimming frantically toward your boat, you should probably help him out. He might be escaping from cruel employers." Or this one: "Don't let your troubles get in the way of enjoying a leisurely and delightful lunch." Or maybe this one: "If a guy keeps driving you around on his motorcycle so you can run pointless errands, he probably likes you."

I love Nancy (Shhh...don't tell Darrin...).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I just got this from Adam--who is not supposed to be texting during class:

"Heya mom this is adam

Snoochie boochie noochies"

Truly--what an odd child.

Warning: Contains Nudity

So sometimes after I shower I don't get dressed right away. My kids are at school, Darrin is at work, and quite frankly, clothes are an inconvenience. And there's something very cool about knowing I can walk around my house naked if I choose to (yeah--now you're wondering if I wear clothes when I chat with you--and I'm not telling).

Today I decided to pluck my eyebrows in the upstairs bathroom because the light is better. So, sans clothing, I went upstairs and was blithely enduring the pain that is the price of well-shaped eyebrows when I heard an alarm clock go off. Rats, I thought, which one of my kids left their alarm on this morning?

While I was thus pondering, an awful reality occurred to me. DJ graduated last weekend. He doesn't have school anymore. It was his alarm because he was home! And his bedroom door is strategically located across from the bathroom where I stood in all my naked glory.

So I scampered downstairs, grateful that he snoozes at least three times before getting up, grabbed my clothes and dressed as quickly as possible.

My naked days are over.


I think it sucks that all good things must come to an end.

Making Brownies

Adam: Do I have to mix it?
Me: If you plan to bake the brownies, they sort of have to be mixed, yes. Otherwise you have baked eggs with a side of oil, water and powdery brown stuff.
Adam (sighing): Okay...

Adam: Will you spray the pan?
Me: Of course, and you can finish dinner for me while I do that.
Adam: Fine, I'll spray the pan.

Adam: I hate taking the batter out of the bowl.
Me: Use a rubber scraper.
Adam: I hate using a rubber scraper.
Me: Adam--what's wrong.
Adam: I don't know. I'm just really, really cranky.
Me: Why did you ask if you could make brownies if you don't want to and you're cranky?
Adam: Because then I could be cranky with you.
Me: I'm not cranky.
Adam: No. I meant, I just wanted to be cranky with someone around.
Me: Why?
Adam: It's lonely being cranky by myself.
Me: Adam, you're weird.
Adam (sighing again): I know.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lesbian or not, here I come

WARNING: Yeah, this is one of those posts in which I discuss sex...just in case you'd rather not read about that...

I receive Google alerts for posts about mixed-orientation marriages. I suppose I do this because I want to see the perceptions surrounding such marriages from different groups. For the most part, MOMs I've encountered in which the woman is same-sex attracted/lesbian/gay/whatever have come into being through religious or societal reasons. The women have married a man:
a) because that was what they felt they should do based on the teachings of their chosen religion.
b) because all their friends were doing it, and it seemed to be the appropriate step for them, as well.
c) because they had yet to admit they felt attracted to other women.
d) because they truly believed that if they married, as instructed by religious leaders, the feelings they had for women would focus on their husbands or that those feelings would go away.

This list, of course, is not representative of every woman's reason for marrying in spite of same-gender attractions, but the reasons listed are fairly common in such marriages.

As a result of marrying for those reasons, the majority of women in MOM's I've encountered do not enjoy a healthy sex-life with their spouses. Reasons for sex within their marriages:
1. Their husbands ask for it.
2. They want children.
3. They feel obligated.
In nearly every case, the women feel violated in sexual relations with their husbands, regardless of how lovingly or attentively they may be treated. It never feels "natural" or right.

I state the results of my research because they differ from my own experience. I did not marry because I felt it was decreed of the Lord. In fact, when Darrin and I decided to get married, as was traditional in the church (and because Darrin asked me to), we both fasted and prayed for spiritual confirmation that our choice was the correct one for us. Neither of us received the confirmation we were seeking. In the end, a stake president convinced us that we, ultimately, were the ones who needed to decide if we loved each other enough to live together forever. In retrospect I realize that had I married because I felt it was what the Lord wished for me, and not because I made the decision of my own volition, I would have spent a lot of time resenting the fact that I felt compelled to get married and did not choose it of myself.

I did not choose to get married because it was a societal norm. In fact, I had decided I would never get married simply because the thought of marital intimacy was so repugnant to me. I had made plans for my life that involved no one but myself. I had no idea that I would wish to spend my life with Darrin. I was very surprised when I discovered I wanted to be with him every day. I was more surprised when I began to feel emotionally connected to him--more than I had felt with any other person, including women. I was confused when I recognized I loved him with a depth I had never experienced. I was astounded when I began to explore the possibility of expressing that love physically.

I have never felt physically attracted to Darrin--or any other man. The thought of having him near me, naked, was terrifying. I spent many months figuring everything out in my head, trying to become comfortable with the idea that we might have sex. When we were apart, I could not figure it out. But when Darrin held me, when we talked, when I slept in his arms, I knew he wouldn't ask anything of me that I could not give--and somehow, that made me love him more than ever and want to show him that love in every way.

We did not come together on our wedding night with everything working itself out and the two of us sleeping off a blissfully passionate experience. In fact, I believe Darrin fell asleep after the first disastrous attempt and I went to the bathroom and cried. The next morning I asked for a divorce/annulment/whatever-just-get-me-out-of-this. Darrin suggested we talk about things first. So we did. And I realized I wanted to be married, I was just overwhelmed and sad that I was not able to enjoy sex with someone I loved deeply. Darrin confessed that he was having some difficulty feeling comfortable with it, as well, which led us to a discussion of things we could to to make things easier for both of us. Darrin said that since we'd be married a very long time, it was okay if we took things slowly and just worked on becoming used to being intimate. We talked about ways of touching that felt nice--and ways that felt intrusive or frightening (actually, I was the only one who had anything to say about that, but was very relieved that Darrin would listen and carefully avoid those things that would hurt me physically or emotionally). I would love to say that in the nights that followed, everything worked itself out and our sex life was hot! It didn't, and it wasn't.

However, as life moved forward, my desire for physical intimacy with my husband never went away. I wanted to be close with him. I wanted to have sexual relations with him. I didn't feel aroused by him. It seemed I was doomed to feel emotionally attracted to the point that I was dying to express it, and physically unable to respond to that attraction. Let's all pause here and scream the word: FRUSTRATED!!!

I have to admit that being a sexual being, and having a sex drive allowed me to complete the sex act, and yes, orgasm is a part of that, but I felt that the entire time that we were being sexually intimate, I was talking to myself, reminding me that this was a good thing, trying to concentrate on the physical sensations which would allow me to to have that orgasm--but there seemed to be nothing emotionally fulfilling about the act. I didn't really feel that I was expressing love, but rather, participating in a physical exercise. This did nothing to alleviate my frustration.

After a few years, I could no longer participate. I was experiencing health problems. I was undergoing chemotherapy. I had a toddler. I was going to school. I was exhausted. The mental and emotional stress brought about by having sex with my husband seemed insurmountable. I felt defeated.

Interestingly, when I look back at that time, I realize this was when I truly fell in love with Darrin. I knew he was attracted to me. I knew he wished to have sex. We slept each night in the same bed, which made his feelings more intense. He also understood that I was going through an incredibly difficult time. I was in pain constantly. I wasn't sleeping. The doctors believed I would die. Each night Darrin pulled me close to him and held me. It felt as though he was willing to accept whatever I could give--and that was enough. I felt loved in a way I had never experienced. I knew when he was aroused--still, he simply held me close. This time it was he who was frustrated. It could not have been easy to treat me with tenderness and restraint at those times, but Darrin did so. He told me he wanted me with him, no matter what. Years later he told me he was certain I was dying. He said, yes, there was sexual frustration, but more than that, he just wanted to hold me for as long as he could. I was unaware that he had felt that.

In time, I recovered my good health, and I found that my experience with my husband had increased the depth of my love for him. I remember distinctly one night, as we were making love, something jolted through me--a realization that Darrin expected nothing from me. I could stop at that exact moment and say I couldn't finish what we started, and he would dress, pull me close, kiss me and allow me to sleep, and he would do that because he loved me and would never push me to give what I could not. Suddenly, he was no longer a "man", but someone I loved with my whole soul. The act of making love took on a new meaning. I was becoming one with the person who held my heart. We were joining in an expression that meant we belonged to one another and no one else. He had access to the most vulnerable parts of me, physically and emotionally, and he had proven time and time again that he would cherish and defend those as carefully as possible. As I realized this, for the first time, "making love" meant exactly that. And afterwards, I held him, because I was overwhelmed by how much I loved this person I had married.

That night began a journey I am still pursuing. Darrin and I have been married a long time. In a typical heterosexual marriage, it's not uncommon for sexual expression to wane with time. My marriage has done the opposite. As I've become more comfortable with my husband, sexual expression has become more joyful and frequent. I must be honest and admit that I am still not aroused by the sight of my husband, nor am I physically attracted to him. But I am emotionally connected in a way that translates into physicality that is beautiful and fulfilling, and I want this to continue for a very long time.

I wrote this very long post because for the first time, yesterday, I encountered a woman who was in a situation similar to mine--lesbian but married to a man, enjoying a wonderful sex life with the person she loves. She posted her situation on a lesbian group site to which she belongs. The women there insisted that she was not, indeed, lesbian, but bisexual--for no self-respecting lesbian would ever allow, let alone enjoy, sex with a man. I read the comments and thought, this is why I don't tell people. This is why I don't explain how it works for me. No one, who has not experienced what I have can understand why I do what I do. This is why I feel isolated--unaccepted by the lesbian community--a misfit in the hetero community.

I'm not sure why being an anomaly seems daunting. I don't understand why I wish there were more who have had experiences similar to mine. But I emailed the other lesbian-married-to-a -man, the one who married not for religious or social reasons, but because she wanted to be with a person she loved for the rest of her life--even if it wasn't the gender she was naturally attracted to, and I told her I understood.

And now, after my long explanation, I suppose I'm hoping that at least one person who reads this finally understands me, because it would be nice to know that what I'm doing makes sense to someone. However, in the end, as long as it makes sense to Darrin and me, I suppose it doesn't really matter if it makes sense to anyone else.