Tag Archives: fear

The Abyss.

Tonight I want to talk about the Abyss. I know when I started this blog I briefly discussed what the Abyss is to me. It is the deepest level of my system. It is darkness. It is fear. It is anger and horrible memories. It is terrifying and can be very very unstable. I want to talk about this place because I am there as we speak.

I thought about writing this for a few weeks, but wanted to spare my readers from my current struggles…until I realized how silly that is. This is a recovery blog. This is not a sugar coated, everything is rainbows and unicorns blog. This is down and dirty, this is how it fucking is blog. This is a, don’t give up…keep fighting blog. I am human, just like each and every one of you who read this. Sure I have a lot of clean time under my belt for drugs and for self harm. Sure, I’ve made a lot of progress in therapy…and sure, a few of my alters and I have integrated. But I am still human and I am still recovering from horrible things that had been done to me repeatedly. Nasty torturous things most people don’t even acknowledge are real because their own lives have been so positive. Things you see in horror movies and documentaries. This is my life. I have great ups and horrific downs. The downs don’t occur nearly as often as they used to, but they still come around. I am there as we speak.

I want this post to be a raw look into a breakdown. I want this post to really help others understand the pain we survivors go through, the battle we fight to survive. I also want this post to speak to those of you who are currently in your own version of the Abyss and persuade you to keep going.

The reason I am in the darkness right now is because an alter who has been with me since I was about 4 years old and holds some of my most traumatic memories has decided to break her silence. Suddenly, after about four months of stability, happiness, confidence and silence within my mind…I hear voices again. I feel a war of emotions within me. I am anxious, angry and deeply hurt. This alter has shown me things that were done to me that I guess she feels I am ready to deal with. Human nature is to avoid the harder, more dark path right? I know I just posted about this recently in my blog post about taking the dark road. Well, now I am fighting against human nature to continue on this dark, horrible road…because it is the one that will result in growth and strength. I know I am more than capable of surviving this and I know what is on the other side is well worth the pain. This is just very hard. I am feeling the same fear and anger I felt then as a small child, being used and abused, neglected and tormented. I feel the intense rage that is too much for my small human body to bare. I must get it out…but in a healthy, safe way. I have been drawing a lot more, painting and writing as well. I told my therapist how bad I feel and we have gone from one appointment every other week back to two meetings a week. At first I was angry and disappointed in myself for this, but truly, this shows my strength. Only a year ago I would not have called him. I would not have told him I needed more help. But this time I did. There is nothing wrong with admitting you are struggling. Asking for help does not denote weakness, in fact, it shows what a badass you are. Because it’s downright terrifying to ask for help. If you are struggling with telling the truth about your pain, please know you have every right to open your mouth…and you are showing your strength.

I have been forcing myself to cry. Allowing myself to get pissed off and journal my angry thoughts and feelings. It can be very scary to see such anger come out of you, but I promise you, it is vital for your health and survival. Get angry. Allow yourself to feel that rage for what was done to you against your will. All I ask is that you make sure you express it in safe ways. Journal, free write, draw, paint, meditate, pray, do yoga, play hockey, punch the shit out of a pillow, write a story and kill off a character (sounds weird, but it helps), hold your loved ones close, call a friend, call your therapist, attend a support group, dance, listen to HAPPY (never ever ever ever EVER sad) music, play an instrument, play with a pet, go for a walk…do something. Writing a letter to your abusers can be very cathartic. Or write to your addiction. Be completely honest. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of who might see it because after you’re done I want you to rip it up in tiny pieces and put it in something safe to burn (like a fire pit) and light that mother fucker on fire. Watch it burn. Realize that holding in that anger will eventually be the end of you in one way, shape or form. Let it go. Let it out and tell it to get the hell away from you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this one before…I bought a nice metal box with a combination code on it. It had a ton of makeup in it. I threw out all of the makeup and filled the box with things that made me happy, and things that reminded me of better times, things worth fighting for. I called this my emergency box. I still have it today. I highly suggest everyone make one and use it before you get as far down as I am now. It can really help you to slow down, calm down and put things into perspective. If it doesn’t help, move onto other coping skills that work for you.

I know it hurts to be where I am now, and where I’m sure some of you are, or have been. I know it feels as if someone is cutting into you with a scalpel, hitting you upside the head, all sorts of horrible things. But I swear to you, it will pass if you fight. Refuse to let this be your end. I know as I write this I am feeling so many negative, scary things. Some of these feelings are mine, others are feelings of my alters who have not let dealt with their abuse. Yes, I won’t lie, I am struggling with urges to self harm. I am dealing with a lot…but I absolutely refuse to lay down and die here. Hell no. This is my life damnit and I am going to fight for it. I will get past this…this is just another burning in the process of rising from the ashes. The pain is immense, but as we speak I am becoming stronger, wiser and more enlightened. I am removing what doesn’t belong, confronting my demons and growing.

Don’t give up. You are not alone. Help is always okay to look for and it is only a text, phone call, email or message away. There is always help. Those voices of doubt in your mind will try to convince you this is not true…but they are liars. Don’t listen. You’re a warrior! You CAN do this.

I love all of you, Dandi

Suicide hotline: 1(800)273-8255

http://www.fortrefuge.com

http://www.pandys.org

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.stepchat.com

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline

The importance of listening to your body.

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well. Today I wanted to talk about the importance of listening to your body and speaking up to your doctor when something doesn’t feel right. A lot of times this can be very frustrating, scary and take a while to get your doctor to listen…but it’s very important. Your physical health can seriously affect you, especially if you are already dealing with emotional and psychological issues. 

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when I was only 19 years old. It wasn’t too bad back then, I just felt tired and had some dry skin here and there. A few times it got a little better and then it would get worse. The past few weeks I’ve been feeling very sick physically. It’s been extremely hard to stay awake yet I can’t sleep, my skin is insanely dry and I’ve been having bad cardiac palpitations. I went to the doctor’s last week and she sent me to urgent care. From there urgent care sent to me the emergency room thinking that I had a serious electrolyte imbalance. For once they were listening to me! In the emergency room I was told my blood work looked great other than being dehydrated and my thyroid seemed to be hyperactive!!! They told me to get off my thyroid medication and see my doctor the following day. I was shocked that I was actually getting help and made sure I got myself in the next day to see my doctor again. 

When I came in I was still feeling horrible, but smiled when the doctor reiterated what my blood work showed. Then she scared me. She had me sit up on the exam table and started to feel my thyroid. It hurt really bad when she touched on the right side. She asked me if I’ve been having trouble swallowing, breathing or anything else. I told her “yeah actually”. I have been having a hard time swallowing, pain, trouble breathing at times, feeling like there is something in my throat no matter how much I try to clear it and even losing my voice while singing and speaking. She told me she was able to feel a large nodule on the right lobe of my thyroid. 

I am going in for an ultrasound and biopsy this week to see if the nodule consists cancer cells. At first I was really scared but I started doing research. It is more common to have a benign nodule than a malignant one, meaning it’s less common to have cancer cells in there. Also, thyroid cancer is highly treatable and doesn’t easily metastasize! I feel like crap right now, but I have a lot of faith that once this is over and treated…I’m going to feel so much better. Whether it’s cancer or not I’m not worried, I’m going to be okay! Staying positive will only help me get through this. 

Anytime you start to feel sick, tired, anything not right…please go to your doctor right away. Waiting can only hurt you! I know it can be scary and expensive, but you are worth it! Also, one thing about thyroid problems is that it can mask itself as depression! If you’re really struggling with depression, fatigue and skin dryness/irritation please have your levels checked out! I hope everyone is doing great! 

Have you ever had a medical issue that you’re grateful you spoke up about? Had problems getting your doctor to listen to you? I feel you there! Please feel free to share if you’d like! 

I am valuable and you are too!

Ever since I took a sensual/sexual interest in other people (I’m pansexual, I don’t pay attention to gender) I had a terrible habit of getting into a relationship and as soon as it ended, get into a new one. Many people said extremely hurtful things to me and about me. The most common was “what a slut”. It’s funny…most of these relationships never entailed sex. I did this until my son’s father and I split up. I knew it was a problem, but I literally could not stop myself. After my daughter’s father made it clear that our relationship was fake when we found out I was pregnant I realized that I could no longer run from this problem. Facing it was one of the scariest and most anxiety-provoking issues I’ve faced yet.

 

I thought, I bounced my feelings off of two very close friends of mine, prayed, thought some more, journaled, cried, had panic attacks, got angry and broke down within the walls of my therapist’s office. I finally came to the realization that this “relationship addiction” boiled down to three deep seated issues.

 

1.) I had a deep intense fear of abandonment. Growing up I didn’t have two parents who loved and cared for me, I had no stability and my needs were rarely met. I learned growing up that if you wanted a sliver of chance that someone would stay in my life and care for me is to give them everything they ask for. I was terrified to be alone.

 

2.) My self worth was non-existent. I was taught growing up that I was a complete waste of time, space and effort. I did not deserve love, affection, care…I did not deserve anything but to be ignored, beaten, abused and put down. I was supposed to serve without any hope of reciprocation. Because of this I based my happiness off of my current partner.

 

3.) I only deserved abusive, narcissistic assholes. This one plays off of number two. Because I believed all I deserved was shit, all I got was shit.

 

One thing that I want to point out, because I know for a fact I am not the only person that has had this problem. You should never in any circumstance base your happiness and wellbeing off of another person. Even if that person treats you well, loves and cares for you…this is deadly. If that person gets sick, passes away, begins to fall into depression, addiction, etc…you are in huge trouble. To make matters worse, you will always have to live with the inner dialogue that is often demeaning and dangerous. Please…whatever you do, stop living for other people. This is okay in the very very beginning (in my opinion) if you are suicidal. If you need, for a VERY short time, someone else to stay on this earth for, then okay. Once you are out of crisis mode you gotta stop that. I know it is extremely hard and paralyzingly scary, but I am living proof that it is possible. Once you start living for you, loving you, respecting you every aspect of your life will improve drastically.

 

Fear of abandonment. Yes, this is another very difficult hurdle, but overcoming it is possible. One of my beliefs is that if you want something bad enough and you don’t give up when things get hard, you will get there. Perseverance and a positive attitude will get you anywhere.When you start working on loving and respecting yourself you will start weeding toxic people out of your life and surrounding yourself with people who put positivity back into your life. You also begin to realize that even out of a relationship you are special and strong. You no longer require another person to hold you together. A really great way one of my dear friends described it was: “Basing your happiness and self worth on another is a huge burden to bear”. Even if you don’t mean it that way, my friend is completely correct. It is a massive burden to be someone’s only source of happiness. I have personally seen people fall apart over the burden and I have personally broken down due to the same burden a loved one placed on me.

 

Changing how I felt about myself was the key to fixing these issues. My dear friend suggested that I write up affirmation cards. At first I put it off, scared at the idea. Looking at myself in the mirror used to make me physically ill. After a while I listened to her and I will forever be grateful. I wrote on little notecards things like: “I deserve happiness” and “I don’t need a partner to be happy and whole” and “I am beautiful”. I ended up making upwards of twenty. I forced myself to go into the bathroom and receipt each card OUT LOUD while looking at my reflection. It truly was painful at first. I felt embarrassed, like I didn’t deserve to be saying such good things about myself. Pretty soon though, everything changed. I started believing every word that I spoke and I still do. Remember when your abusers told you horrible things about you? They pounded them into your head every single chance they got? You started believing it because it was all you were hearing. It works the same way with positive change. Flood your mind with positivity, happiness and THE TRUTH. You are beautiful, worthy, strong and capable. You are of sound mind and deserve the best! Don’t settle for jerks, don’t settle for broken and tore down. Seek out your value and don’t let anyone take it from you again.

 

My best relationship advice I can give anyone is take time to heal and “analyze” a failed relationship. Don’t obsess about it, but analyze the red flags you ignored (or didn’t see), the needs and wants you weren’t getting met, the things you could have done differently. Time is your friend. TIme will not only help you heal, but it will help you see things clearer and better yourself for next time. Make a list of what you need and want in a relationship and the things you consider a deal breaker. Once you have some time being by yourself (and focusing on loving and building yourself up) very slowly ease into dating. Do not get physical with them, don’t make promises, don’t get too close too fast. Rushing into anything is almost always not a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times I was blinded by “love adrenaline” and thought I knew the person. Yeah, I thought I knew them and the next thing I knew I was being abused and thrown out like trash. I have also learned that taking your time can make things that much more enjoyable and exciting.

 

One more thing I want to share, that will hopefully very clearly demonstrate how I have changed concerning relationships. In the past when (especially a man) would approach me about being physical with them I would shut down. Now? I make sure that person knows exactly how I feel about their stupid and arrogant idea. I don’t let people even talk to me that way anymore. I deserve respect and if you can’t give that to me, you get the Hell out of my life. Just because a man or woman says they want you, doesn’t mean they want you. They may just want to use you. Not always, but a lot of the time. If you don’t take the time to get to know each other…love each other, it will just be using. You deserve good things, don’t settle for crap.

 

 

 

You will not steal my future and a special shout out to victim-blamers

**Before I write this post I just want to remind all of my readers that the content can be highly triggering, especially if you’ve been a victim of SA in the past, please be sure you are grounded before you read. I don’t want anything written to hurt, only to heal**

As survivors of trauma and multiple trauma we often live in fear, even when we do everything we can to break free of it. For the most part, I don’t live in fear anymore, however, that doesn’t mean that I am no longer hyper vigilant, stressed out, anxious and still very often brought to my knees by a panic attack. Yes I have been making great strides, but even yesterday I had a full blown panic attack in a Meijer supermarket and had to rush home. I still make sure that I have something in hand while in parking lots or walking up to my door in case someone were to attack me. I still suffer from vivid and horrific nightmares that have me drenched in sweat when I wake. I still have days where it is very difficult to shake the fear that it’s not over. Despite all of that, I am happy, I am hopeful and I am now pursuing justice.

I have many abusers and for a long time this made me very ashamed. It also made me feel that there was something terribly wrong with me and that I must have deserved each and every trauma. This is wrong. It is never the victim’s fault that they were hurt. I don’t care what anyone says, it doesn’t matter what the person was wearing, what time it was, where they were…none of that matters. Someone decided to do something horrible, to take something from me that they had no business taking. Just because a bakery puts their pastries and cakes in the window of their shop doesn’t mean someone has a right to smash in the window and take what they see. It may sound like a stupid analogy, but there are many people around the world who believe if a woman or man dresses provocatively they deserve to be sexually assaulted. Maybe this simple analogy will get to their simple minds. The victim did not ask to be hurt, the perpetrator is the one at fault and should be harshly punished.

I was first sexually assaulted at four years old. My childhood was ripped from me before I even had a chance to have one. Many years and details of my past are gone because they were traumatic and another one of my personalities took the abuse for me so that we, as a whole, could survive. My past was Hell and was robbed from me. I want to take a moment to again, point out to the victim-blamers out there that victims did not volunteer for their abuse, they did not ask for it, they did not invite it. In no way did the four year old little girl I was ask or deserve the horrific things that happened to me. As a young adult, the many times I was touched, kissed, groped, raped, sodomized and beaten in no way did I volunteer or ask for it. I am so angry, no, rageful when I hear people say that a victim asked for it because of what they were wearing or where they were or the infamous “why didn’t you just leave”? You cannot understand until you have been there.

My present is very complicated. Monetarily I struggle, I struggle with my appeal to the Veterans Administration for an increase in the disability for PTSD. I am anxious every day, some days I cope with it using meditation, playing with my children, deep breathing, writing and art. Other days it is impossible for me to find relief without medication. I am currently pursuing justice pertaining to four of my abusers. This has been a giant trigger and it has been responsible for my sudden increase in fear of leaving the house. In the past few years I have made great progress in getting myself out of the house, but currently I am usually choosing to stay indoors where I feel safe. I will get back to where I was, but for now I need to be gentle and patient with myself. This is a very difficult and scary time, but it is not the end. My present is also exciting. Despite the anxiety and stress of money, job, school stuff, I have two wonderful children I love more than anything and I get the privilege of taking care of them, loving them and watching them grow. I also know that with hard work I will be successful with my art.

My future…all I can say is, it is mine. No one else’s. I have lived in the dark, in the deepest pits of Hell one could experience due to fear. It is time that I get out and live a fear-free, healthy, happy life. I think it’s about damn time my abusers are the ones who have to live in fear. I will no longer stay quiet. I am taking responsibility of my present and future.

Whatever horrible things happened to you in your past, they were not your fault and they are not your fault now. You are not responsible for your past, the people who harmed you and failed to protect you…that is on them. You were a victim. But now in your present, looking forward to your future…please know that those are your responsibility. This is the key to making the transformation from victim to survivor. Take control of your life now, heal, stand up for yourself and refuse to let anyone else run your life any longer. Have an addiction due to the horrors of your past? Tell addiction to go fuck itself and allow yourself treatment (I apologize to anyone offended by my foul language at times, sometimes I feel strong language has its place). I have a particularly strong loathing for addiction. Please love and respect yourself enough to take your life back and live it! I promise you…life as a survivor is MUCH better than life as a victim.

Just as a reminder, RAINN is an amazing organization who is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can reach them at: http://www.rainn.org/ or call them at: 1-800-656-4673. Everything is confidential.

Please seriously consider prosecuting your abusers. I know this is a tall order I am asking of you…I know it’s terrifying. I am in it actively right this very moment as I type these words. But please know that it will set you free, and it will ensure those sick people will never harm you or another person ever again. You are not alone in this fight! Even if you don’t have family or friends to support you, please know that I care and I will support you.

As always, I am proud of you, I congratulate you on another day, and I love you. Every day we are one step closer to where we want to be. Let’s do this together.

Your battle-buddy, Dandi.Image

The night I ended my life.

Please know that all of my blog posts are potentially triggering, and please know that this post is highly triggering before you continue on. I want to talk to you about my numerous suicide attempts, and more importantly, the night that I was successful.

I was still active duty in the Marine Corps at the time, living in Pensacola, Florida. I had been raped by a Sergeant in my class and was having a very hard time picking up the pieces and moving on. Every day it was a battle to eat, get out of bed, do what was expected of me and even breathe. I hated myself, felt dirty and unworthy of living and was fearful. I was afraid to talk to anyone about what had happened to me. I feared no one would believe me or would think I was a disgusting whore. I did my best to act like nothing was wrong with me, but after a while I didn’t even have the energy for that. My addiction to self-harm was strong, I had quickly moved from scissors to straight razors and felt the need to cut myself even when we were “sleeves up”. Sleeves up meant that every Marine was ordered to roll their sleeves up, which obviously meant everyone could see what I had been doing to myself. Cutting because a nervous compulsion, a drug, a necessity to keep living. A lot of people started finding out that I was a “cutter” really fast. I’m sure some people thought I was doing it for attention because we were sleeves up, but the truth was I felt I needed to do it to keep going so intensely that I didn’t give a fuck anyone who knew.

I felt as if I was in this perpetual time warp of Hell. I wasn’t being given any tasks to do that made me feel like a Marine anymore and yet I wasn’t being discharged. It was limbo, which only made my feelings of fear and worthlessness grow and fester like a deep, open wound. The details of this suicide attempt in particular are pretty muddy in some areas because now it is apparent to me that one of my alters, Kristina had been the one to try to take our life. Some time before this suicide attempt I had been hospitalized at West Florida hospital’s Pavillion which was a psychiatric ward. During that particular stay my psychiatrist had tried me on an atypical antipsychotic drug to diminish the voices in my head. Needless to say the drug did me no good and had my blood pressure down to 60/30. If anyone reading this doesn’t know, a blood pressure that low is extremely dangerous. I was very ill and was confined to my bed until the doctor decided to take me off of the drug. I was furious that it took the doctors more than an hour to decide to discontinue the medication, in my mind they should have been in some sort of trouble for that.

At some point during the later part of the day I had switched and become Kristina. I did not know that I had Dissociative identity disorder back then, all I knew what that I heard voices and occasionally saw things that other people claimed to not be able to see. This was dangerous only because I had an alter (Kristina) who did not want the body/host (me) to be alive anymore. Because I was not aware of her, I was unable to stop her attempts at ending our life. None of my alters or myself are stupid, and contrary to what our abusers tried to beat into our head over the years. Kristina knew that this medication was deadly to us and she had found we still had a completely full bottle of it in our barracks room. During the time Kristina was in control, she downed the entire bottle. Sometime after this occurred I came to in the emergency room at the naval hospital. All I remember is that my heart was racing faster than I had ever felt it before, I was extremely dizzy, disoriented, sick to my stomach and absolutely terrified. I remember suddenly feeling it was becoming very difficult to breathe, and when I did breathe I could feel air wasn’t doing me much good.

My vision became more and more blurry and dim. This is when I realized that I was dying. I kept thinking to myself, My God, I did it…I’m going to die and I won’t be able to say goodbye to my Mom. I realized that I wanted to call my mom to tell her I was sorry, I loved her and goodbye but I couldn’t find the strength to ask anyone to call her for me. Then I remember not breathing and everything going black.

I’m still not sure how much time had passed after that, but when I came to I was in the ICU and a nurse had been sitting beside my bed holding my hand. The first thing I felt when I woke up was the warmth of her skin on mine. I clung to it as if I was terrified letting go of her would allow me to slip back into the darkness. She was so happy when I woke up and took care of me. Yet again, I am not sure how long I stayed in the ICU, I have very little memory of it other than the nurse and being hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, blood pressure and pulse oximetry. I don’t remember what else. After my time in the ICU I spent anywhere from a week to a week and a half (still not entirely sure) in the hospital. The entire time I was not allowed to get out of bed because every time I stood up my heart rate would skyrocket. They had special socks on my legs that would inflate every fifteen minutes to prevent blood clots from forming and that damn heart monitor stayed on the me the whole time. After a good chunk of my time there a nurse would periodically help me to walk around the unit to get me used to walking again.

The repercussions of my overdose were immediately apparent to me. I still don’t know exactly what I did because my medical records are still not with me, but I did damage to my heart. To this day I still have issues with my heart rate and heart rhythm. I’ve always had frequent PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions) of my heart, but now they are worse, more frequent and a few times they have caused me to faint. I wish that I could have stopped Kristina from the overdose, but it’s in the past now.

I am telling this for two reasons. One, it’s part of my journey and therefore must be told in order for me to heal, but two, it’s important that people hurting have some insight to a suicide attempt that actually worked. I am very lucky to be alive…I shouldn’t be here, but I am. I may have been very deeply depressed back then and yes, there were many days where all I could think about was how much I wanted to die. But the moment that I realized I was dying I was scared absolutely shitless. The feeling of the life seeping out of my body with each sad attempted to draw air into my lungs was terrifying and painful. I am very thankful that the medical staff there saved my life and that I am alive today.

Please, if you are hurting (or know someone who is) don’t ignore that pain, and don’t believe the lies your pain tells you. You do deserve to be here, your loved ones will NOT be better off without you (they will actually suffer intensely for the rest of their lives over your death), and yes your pain may stop…but you’ll be dead, so what the fuck is the point? And for those of you who say suicide is selfish and condemn people who sadly do it…please realize that people who commit suicide are not able to think logically, their pain has them in such a sad, delusional state they truly believe they are being selfless…not selfish. The definition of selfish is as follows: A person, action or motive lacking the consideration of others. Like I mentioned before, most people who commit suicide truly and honestly believe that their loved ones are hurt over them being alive and killing themselves will remove a burden from their loved ones. It’s very sad that this happens, but it does.

Like I always say, be gentle with yourself and be gentle with others (especially those who are hurting). If you’re contemplating suicide, please…I beseech you to read this and to trust me. It is estimated that 1 out of 25 people who attempt suicide actually succeed, and most of the survivors will tell you that they were sure they wanted to die until they realized they were about to succeed. I can say that I am one of those people. Please live, please fight, I promise you, if you want your life back (happiness, no more pain, etc) you CAN have it! It will be hard at times, it will hurt at times, but it will pass and you will be free.

Please

Please

Please

Live.

Know that you are loved. And if you believe no one else does, know that I do. I love you.

Dandi

Whether you know me or not, rape is rape.

Whether you know me or not….rape is rape

Hello again everyone. Before I start on today’s post I want to apologize for the time I have spent away from writing. As I touched on very briefly in my previous post, my life has been very full lately and because of it I needed to focus extra hard on my own self-care. Now that things are a little less hectic, I have time to write. This post, is one on something I have been needing to start talking about and just didn’t know when the right time was. Well, now is the perfect time. **PLEASE know that this post has a high potential to be extremely triggering, so please make sure to ground yourself before reading**

Painful and traumatic experiences are not meant to happen nor are they meant to stay inside of the person it happened to. I am a firm believer that until you can find the strength to start pulling those experiences out of you, making the transition from victim to survivor is only a hope in your soul. You must endure the pain and fear of getting them out, but once you do it gets easier and the healing begins. Healing is what brings strength, hope and wonderful things. Please don’t get me wrong, I can relate on a deep level…this part of recovery is the hardest, but it is worth it.

When I was 21 I was very lost, probably the most lost I have ever been in my life. I had gotten clean from drugs and alcohol about six months prior but was still very much brainwashed by my addiction, living as a drunk and acting as if I were still using. I was deeply depressed, anxious, angry and instead of confronting the demons tearing my soul apart, I blamed everyone around me. I blamed my biological father for physically and emotionally beating me as a child,  never being there for me or loving me, I blamed my friends for not saving me, I even blamed my mother despite the fact she was the only human being who was gentle and loving towards me and never stopped believing I could be well. I am sure at this point in my life, being around me was a living Hell.

During all of this I had been dating someone I had met while I was in the Marines. He was a Marine too, and had been one of my combat instructors during MCT (Marine Combat Training). When I was medically retired from the Marine Corps after being raped by another Marine and left emotionally and psychologically destroyed, this man seemed to come in and sweep me off my feet. Never in my life had I ever met someone so able to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and not tip others off to his true nature. He had me so fooled. I was damaged by what happened to me in the Marines and instead of protecting myself several of my alters, who until recently were terrified to be alone and equated it with dying were very much in control. The thought of being alone terrified me and all of my alters, we felt as if the entire world had abandoned us and we were willing to latch onto anyone who showed us affection so that we wouldn’t disappear into madness.

This man had been told by his command to stay away from me, that he had already broken military law by having a friendship with me while I was still active duty and they would not tolerate him pushing himself further into my life after I got out. He did not listen to them, even after they shipped him off to Japan for a year. He sent me a cell phone; he sent me cards telling me how much he cared for me…even loved me and wanted my life to be perfect and safe. At the time, that sounded amazing…someone cared, someone wanted to protect me! Of course, me being as damaged as I was at the time, I couldn’t see how false his promises were and how potentially deadly his lies were. I stayed in touch with him, I agreed to date him and I stayed with him even during the frequent obsessive phone calls that consisted of him threatening me, belittling me and telling me no one else cared. He would tell me that only he could truly love me and protect me, that my mom despised me and only wanted to hurt me. His screaming and cruel conversations hurt me, but I believed his lies and stayed with him.

After a year in Japan he came to Michigan and told me we were going to Texas where his family was to be married, and then we would move to Virginia (his next duty station). He swore to me that we would be happy, that he would take care of me…that he would save me from all of my demons. There were two problems with this that I could not see at the time. One, he was lying and two, no one can save you…you have to save you. I ended up marrying him down in Texas and I knew right before the wedding that I was making a huge mistake, but I didn’t know how to get out. I was over a thousand miles away from home or any relative I was aware of and surrounded by his family who seemed to think scaring me with religion would make me be a submissive and perfect wife for him. And many people wonder why I have a problem with Christians who are fanatical. Please understand I am not discriminating, I believe all religions have people like this and as wrong as it is, there is nothing I can do about it.

After we were married we spent a few days in Texas with his family and then made our way to Virginia Beach, VA. Little did I know, Virginia was going to be the location of many horrible and some amazing experiences. Only a few weeks into our marriage I was not only miserable, but I was worse than I was in Michigan. He had me trapped like a beaten animal, controlled every move of mine and made me hate myself to my very core. He reminded me all the time how I was fat and I seriously needed to lose weight. (I had always been underweight, but in the past year from being on fourteen psychiatric medications and one for my thyroid I had gained a lot of weight). He would cook for me, which made our new neighbors believe he loved me and doted on me, but he would give himself a normal plate of food and mine was very limited. If I asked for more or was caught getting into other foods I regretted it. He would yell at me, call me names and make me feel like a disgusting pig because I was still hungry. I would cry and that would only piss him off more.

As if the food debacle wasn’t enough he would force me to look at porn with him, something he knew (and actually, everyone who knew anything about me) upset me greatly. He would pull up pictures of these trashy women known in the porn world and point out to me what was so beautiful about her and how I needed to change so I would be like her. I was furious, scared, depressed and above all humiliated. He drove my car everywhere and forbid me to go anywhere without him. If I wanted or needed to go somewhere he was my chaperon. I was so scared to leave the apartment that walking down the street to the gas station sent me straight into a full blown panic attack. He had basically ripped the wings from my back, bound and then burned them, all the while making me watch. I started cutting myself again and taking more of my medication just so I could numb some of the pain he was making me feel.

I was hospitalized again; despite his attempts at telling me I didn’t need therapy, a suicide attempt landed me in the hospital. The nurses, doctor and counselors all seemed to know something wasn’t right in my home situation, that my “loving” husband wasn’t who he tried to convince everyone he was, but no one could convince me to tell the truth. Now things were scarier…I was very far from home and no friends or relatives where around for me to run to, I was completely trapped.

When I got out of the hospital the medication continued, the physical and emotional abuse continued, I begged to go to therapy and finally got him to cave. He would attend all of my sessions and every time I would try to talk about how I felt he would interrupt me and tell the therapist how he felt instead. I got absolutely nothing out of those sessions. Things continued to get worse. He would want to have sex and I wouldn’t. He made me feel sick about myself and frankly, I thought he was the most repulsive thing I had ever encountered in my life. I couldn’t stand being in the same apartment as him, why would I want to have sex with him? Intercourse was already a very difficult thing for me. Most of my alters and I were very uncomfortable with sex or even sexual language. It all made us think of the rape in the military. We needed someone loving, gentle and patient who understood that we had been through a lot and could someday enjoy sex, but that it would take time and care. He did not care that we had been raped and abused since a young age nor did he want to take his time being sexual with us…it was whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.

He got sick of me resisting, sick and tired of my “excuses”. He started coming home from work on his lunch breaks, pull my pants off of me, have sex with me and then leave. He literally would be there at the house for ten minutes or less. Just to fuck me and then leave. I never said no, I never fought him. I knew better. I just let him do it to me and once he left I would clean myself up, cry and then either sleep or hurt myself. I was so angry at him for what he was doing to me, but I was also angry at myself for letting it happen. It was a sickening feeling. Back then I didn’t realize that he was raping me. He was my husband….so didn’t that mean that any sex between us was consensual? The answer is a big fucking no. It doesn’t matter if the person stealing sexual contact with you is a stranger, a family member, a friend or a significant other. Rape is rape. He knew I didn’t want to have sex, he knew I could hardly stand to kiss him, but he didn’t care. All he cared about was pleasuring himself.

I started staying at a friend’s house whom I had met in the hospital. My stays became more frequent and longer. Finally I found the courage to stay with my friend and her family and tell him that I wasn’t coming back. I was having a lot of problems with kidney stones again and my friend took me to the hospital one night when I was having abdominal pain. The nurse came in while I was drinking the contrast for the CT scan they were about to do and told me to stop drinking the contrast. She informed me that I was pregnant. I was so horrified and yet happy in those next few days. I had always wanted children of my own, who I could love and protect…but I did not want his baby.

I continued to stay with my friend and her family and tried to stay as calm as possible so that my baby would be safe, but my husband, his friends and family blew my phone up daily telling me I was a tramp and a horrible mother to keep his baby from him. The guilt got to me and I went back to him. It wasn’t long before his anger got so out of control that he pushed me hard into a wall and threw my phone that I had been using to call friends for help. The police arrived and asked me if I wanted to press charges, but I was too scared. I left with my friends. That night they took me to the emergency room because I had started bleeding. A week passed and the baby was okay, the bleeding had stopped and yet again out of fear and guilt I went back.

Only a few days after I was back I woke up in horrible, agonizing pain that I can only attribute to a kidney stone passing during childbirth. I was bleeding heavily and I knew that I was miscarrying my baby. My heart was breaking and my body was weak and still all he could say to me was: I have to go to work, drive yourself. So I did. I drove myself 9.9 miles (which was 20 minutes) to the emergency room. By the time I got there my entire car seat and my pants were soaked with blood. I remember getting to the waiting room and then I don’t remember anything until I was in a bed in the ER being asked what my blood type was.

Eventually after all of this, I got away from him, stood up to him and got a divorce. After everything he put me through, the torture, the loss of my baby, the thousands of dollars he took….I am stronger, wiser and sure as Hell never going to let another person take advantage of me or anyone I love. Please know that no matter what the circumstances are no one has a right to hurt you. No one has a right to put their hands on you to hurt you, to say cruel words or make you feel that the world is better off with you dead. You deserve YOUR life. Stand up for it!

Corporal punishment.

 Today’s post is going to be a bit different from posts in the past. I am going to talk about something that I am very passionate about and as of late have been verbally chewed-out for and debated with. I want to talk about using corporal punishment when someone, especially a child does something that you don’t like. I understand that this is a very heated subject as well as a controversial one, but I must express how I feel about this and give everyone an insider’s view. As a child, my father spanked me, slapped my hands and screamed at me when I would do something wrong. My mother, just to be clear, never did. She was spanked growing up and very often it went too far. When my parents divorced, the way my father punished my siblings and I was no longer seen by my mother…of course until we came home. I can’t speak for my siblings, but every time I came home terrified, ashamed of myself and hurting physically, emotionally and mentally. His spankings were very harsh and over the years they quickly evolved to hitting in the face, squeezing of the arms and violently shaking. The things he yelled at me and accused me of because I touched something that was off limits or cried when I was hurting was insane.

 

A lot of people don’t realize that it is next to impossible to spank/hit/slap your children without anger, and anger can get out of hand very fast. Many people usually say, “oh, that isn’t me, I am very much in control”. My response to that is simply, “why do you feel you must lay your hands on a child to correct or punish”? There are other ways that work much more effectively and do not cause psychological damage, as spanking has shown to do. In a recent study showcased in Pediatrics, which is the journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics has shown a strong positive correlation between childhood physical punishment such as spanking and the incidence of Mood disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Abuse/dependence of substances as well as Personality Disorders. The study can be read here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/2/184.abstract .

 

Besides the psychological damage physical punishment causes there are other ramifications. Some children learn that lashing out physically is an acceptable way to handle problems in the future. I have seen this in my own family. I made a promise to myself as a child that I wasn’t going to repeat what I was being exposed to, but unfortunately others in my family did just the opposite. It saddens me to see a specific family member who was a very sweet and loving child grow into a very bitter and physical individual especially when someone does not agree with them or do what they want. Frankly, it is extremely frightening to me as well. Children who grow up not repeating the physically hurtful behavior often do grow up afraid to express themselves, especially when they are hurting. I am living breathing proof of this. I was taught by my father’s beatings and berating that to express myself would result in pain and fear.

 

My question to parents is simple, “if there is an effective way to correct a child that does not require physical harm, would you use it instead”? Then my following statement would be, “there is, so why do you continue to lay hands on a child in a hurtful way”? If a child is screaming, instead of slapping him or her, ask them what’s wrong. Follow it up with asking them if they have suggestions for how you can help them fix what is wrong. You may be surprised, but every time I have approached an upset child in this way, they have matched my calmness and answered me. People, including children have a tendency to match your tone, your attitude and how you approach them. You scream and hit, they scream, hit and get angry. You appear calm, open and caring, they relax, open up and are more willing to solve a problem. Another method I have used in situations when a child has done something that is dangerous like run for the street, I do use a raised, firm voice to call their name and tell them to stop. Which almost every time has worked. I take their hand and crouch down at their level and again, remain calm, open and caring. I ask them why they ran for the road. After they answer I ask them if they know why I got upset. After that answer I then explain to the child on their level why it upset me and it should not happen again. Again, in my experience, this has been very effective.

 

Children are humans, just like adults. They get sad, angry, confused, hungry, bored, hurt and don’t feel well. We don’t spank an adult and yell at them because they are whining about being hungry, so why would you hit a child for crying because they are hungry? It’s much more effective and caring to talk to the child, just as you would an adult (but using words and terms that they can grasp) to ask what is wrong and what you can do to help them feel better. I’m speaking as an adult who has cared for children (other people’s and my own) since I was in middle school and as a person who underwent poor parenting and punishment from my father. I never trusted that my father would meet my needs nor that he cared, only that if I spoke up or acted out on something that was hurting or bothering me, I would get a beating. Do you want your child expecting to be hurt to express themselves, or do you want you child to expect you to care and help them manage their feelings and solve their problem? There truly is no need for corporal punishment, especially in children.

 

In toddlers who can’t always tell you how they are feeling, what’s bothering them and give you suggestions on how to fix the issue, I also have experience. I have a sweet little boy who is just about to turn two and with him (and toddlers I have babysat) I have found a few great techniques that are effective and loving. When a toddler starts to throw a fit, start with the basics. Look for something that may be hurting them physically like something they stepped on, a bug bite or teething pain. If nothing, then check the diaper, see if they’re hungry, thirsty or tired. If none of those are the culprit, hold them, kiss them and speak sweetly to them. Sometimes wanting you to hold them isn’t it either. Yes, this can get a bit frustrating if you are busy, but they need your help managing their emotions, not you screaming at them and slapping them. Sometimes all my son needs if nothing above worked is for me to say, “Honey, I’m sorry your upset.” and I will break eye contact and not pay attention to the tantrum. Every time my son has stopped after two minutes maximum, but usually under thirty seconds. When he is throwing a tantrum like this, I strongly believe that he is doing it to see how I react. In me not lashing out at him, but calmly refusing to put energy into fueling his tantrum, he trusts me and then stops.

 

Another technique I have been using with my toddler is helping him learn different methods of self-soothing. Self-soothing is using your senses to help put yourself at ease. I use self-soothing techniques for myself every day when I start to feel anxious. I have taught my son to run his fingers across his soft hair when he’s upset or tired by doing it to him when he’s fussing. Very frequently now I see him “petting” his own hair, or even mine when he’s upset. If none of the techniques above are working, and your toddler continues to cry and scream, there may be something going on that you can’t see like being ill. Calling your Pediatrician may be a good idea at this point, especially if they seem to be in pain. In my experiences as a parent and a babysitter, using one or a combination of these techniques has been enough to soothe a toddler and stop the unwanted behavior.

 

We are blessed with our babies to love and nurture, protect and teach and to enjoy life with them, not to instill fear and pain into them. There are many alternatives to physical punishment and I hope that this blog entry has opened your mind up to just a few of these alternatives as well as the dangers that lurk in using corporal punishment.