Thursday, January 9, 2014

Inventory

It's been over a year since I last wrote.


I had begun to think that my husband could replace this blog as an emotional outlet and processing partner. And although he is that, he is also a multidimensional person with emotional needs of his own and so our interactions are to love and care for one another, process together and with the help of one another, but also to process apart and maintain our individual emotional health.

Well I've been feeling really down lately and for no reason that I can obviously find (marriage? working great. job? fulfilling and rewarding. school? going to get through it anyway I can.). My husband and I both suffer from severe depression and it gets harder in these Illinois winters. The sun sets at 4:30 and I'm lucky if I wake before 10. The last three days have been the coldest in decades (-17, windchill factor -52). This is the kind of cold and darkness that feels very oppressive.

And so I think I need this space. This non-judgmental, non-biased, non-responsive place to lay my bits out in order to sort them. I did this physically this week. I got out all our boxes of clothes and junk in the garage and spare room and put them all in one place. Once I could see them all, I easily sorted them. I got rid of most, remembered some, and properly stored the rest.

Then, tonight, I did it with my memories.

In my last post I said something about wanting to get a timeline down. I've been running from that task, moving forward and trying to forget the past. It's good. It's been good. But I have ten days until my life picks up again hardcore and I need some healing time. January always seems to be that for me. Cuddle up and do some self care.

I started tonight with a memory timeline. It turns out that our memories are not as accurate as we believe them to be. They can be influenced by suggestion, current bias, and all other manner of mental stimulus. In any case, it's a useful experiment to consider the trajectory of ones emotional life through the current lens. So I lay in bed tonight next to my sleeping husband and puppy and mapped a timeline from when I was 6 or 7 until today. It's all punctuated with family happenings, the various boys and eventually men that would come in and out of my life, yoga training and teaching experiences, school and my participation in it, various jobs and travel.

This may sound bizarre, but tonight was the first time I had ever done that. I'm not great with this kind of thing. I have to think about it when asked what year I graduated from high school, or got married. Time is just not my thing.

But somehow, mentally sequencing my life tonight felt like the sorting that needed to happen. I allowed myself to feel emotions of certain memories and then move forward. It was like the boxes. Once I had it all out in front of me I could easily get rid of the unnecessary, remember the still relevant and properly store the rest.

I don't know what will happen, but I think I will probably be here more often going forward.






Monday, December 3, 2012

I feel better.

I really do.

I feel like myself again.

I keep wanting to write a time line of how or when or why this all has happened, but I'm so aware of the one-dimensionality of words right now that I won't try. My experience is just that. Mine. And the time line I would construct now would be just a construction of my skewed memories and it doesn't really matter anyway. I'm trying to live more in the present; it's going great.

The most cleansing part of moving to Illinois is the time it has allowed me to re-focus. I feel more centered, more free and more healthy now than I have in a long time.

That's not to say it's all rainbows and butterflies over here... for one, pelvic floor physical therapy is extremely hard. I'm told a lot of people quit and I can see why. There are times when I cancel my appointment last minute because doing work down there is just unthinkable. But most of the time I go and see my wonderful and hilarious therapist. She chit chats with me as she stretches me and I respond with obscene language or some powerful ujjuyi breath. I like her. I also work on my pelvic floor at home.*I thought about omitting the graphic nature of my physical therapy but then I remembered what else I've written here and it just seemed silly*. I got this tool. It's called a crystal wand. It's ten inches long in an "S" shape and an inch wide and I put in my vagina every other day and stretch my pevlic floor. It was awful at first, but it's getting better and I'm making serious progress.

Realistically there are some other minor life irritations: work drama, school stress, finances, etc. I don't know if I'm just having a period of clarity but that stuff just seems so un-important in the grand scheme of things. Day to day Isaac and I are living a life that we both love and we're living it with each other, which is the best part. We have some friends and a comfortable place to live and access to information and health care. I don't know what else could matter..

Oh and it's Christmas time, so the smell of our tree and the increasingly steady stream of baked goods I am producing sure help the mood. :)

More soon friends.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My second rape

I was raped. This is not news. I was raped by a stranger in broad daylight very near to my parents house, where I was living at the time as a 20 yr old. But I want to talk about what happened after I was raped. A.) because I finally feel ready to. and B.) because in someways, I think it's more important.

The days after I was raped are not very clear to me, I spent a lot of time sleeping and crying and sedating myself with xanax. But not even a week later, I chose to go back to work. This is where the first bit of bizarre behavior really began (if you don't count not eating...). I wanted to smoke. Aside from some experimenting, this was not a thing I did. I was working at a restaurant at the time and I knew the dishwasher smoked. I asked to bum a cigarette from him and went out back before service began. I did not know how to light a cigaretter. This is how often I had not smoked. The bit about having the inhale whilst lighting the thing totally escaped me. So I spent 10 minutes furiously trying to light it. I ended up curled up on the pavement out back with a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other crying when my boss came out looking for me. Awesome.

The next few weeks I pretended to be doing better than I really was, and although my mom was keeping close tabs on me, she allowed me my freedom (as all the rape survivor specialists were urging her to). It was important that I made my own choices about my body in particular. This was a hard time for my mom, I know. Watching me leave the house everyday must have killed her. Mostly I did fairly harmless things. I stopped eating and drinking water and started drinking wine, and trying to smoke, and trying to drink coffee. These things were so new to my system and without regular food and sleep and exercise, I was becoming pretty frenetic.

I began spending time with my co-workers. Being 20 and not very confident with the fake ID I'd acquired a year before for a concert or something equally innocuous, I began spending time with the only people I knew who would give me alcohol. Looking back, I can't believe anyone having known what I just went through and seeing how unstable I was would give me alcohol, but these guys did. They lived upstairs from the restaurant we all worked at. One of them was my boss and two of them were "friends". After a particularly rough day I decided to go to a concert with this group. I had several glasses of wine before leaving and drank two pretty strong cocktails while at the concert. This may or may not sound like a lot to you, but I was new to this and had not eaten or drank anything really in days. I was a mess. I ended up making out with one of the guys and then going back and having sex with the other. This was not the first time we'd had sex. In fact, we'd been sleeping together for about three weeks. This is not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence, to want to assert the capability to rule your own sexual life, and sometimes over-sexualization occurs from that.

I don't really know whether to call some of those experiences rape. Many of them are hazy to me for various reasons. One was absolutely coercion as I had tried to assert I wasn't up for it and he had challenged me saying I had already done it before, what did it matter now. This specific night felt most like rape to me for whatever reason. After it was done and he'd fallen asleep without a word to me I began crying. This was the first time in weeks when I really felt the depth of what had happened to me and what was happening as a result. I felt completely out of control. I had spent the entire day trying to exert that control that I craved so much and then there I was, at 3 AM in my own personal hell. I drunkenly stumbled out to the balcony where I thought I would jump off. We were on the third floor. Had I jumped I probably would have badly injured myself but not died. It would be funny, me sitting on this low ledge crying, if it wasn't so damn sad. Anyway, I crossed the railing and stood on the other side (thank god for how deep that ledge was, for I was not in any condition to balance).

I had promised my mom and my therapist that if I ever found myself in a position of genuinely wanting to hurt myself, I would call the rape crisis hotline. I did. That wonderful volunteer talked me into sitting down while we talked and then called the police for me. She saved me life, or at least saved me from some very serious injuries. ( This is why when I participated in the Vagina Monologues a year and a half later, our money went to this organization). My brother later volunteered for them a few hours each week, he knew they saved me.

This is where it really became a shit show. I will save the details of the rest of this experience for another post. Because what happened next, with the cops and the psyche ward, deserve their own post. Today I mostly wanted to be really frank about that month initially after my rape and the person(s) whom I now feel, took major avantage of me.

When I got out of the psyche ward I began apologizing profusely to the group of guys whose house I had been at that night, one of whom has become one of my perpetrators. Looking at it now it's hard for me to understand why I would apologize to them and not the other way around, but I was very confused and hurting at the time. This experience was a turning point for me and after another month of intense talk therapy I was able to point my anger for that night in the right directions. I remember one night kneeling on my bedroom floor screaming about how the fuck could someone rape someone who had just been raped, while my mom listened. My brother overheard and I think it took everything in him not to go right to that person's house and hurt them right then. My initial attacker was still anonymous, this one was not.

But here's the real point of even talking about any of this: this experience with this person, who I'll refer to as Jake, helped bring me to the big picture, which in turn helped me to understand Mr. Anonymous better too. Neither of them is or will ever be excused for what they've done in my mind, but because I knew Jake, I knew his background and about some of his pain, I was able to think about all of it less as an isolated and awful incidence and more as a societal sickness and problem that we really need to deal with.

I quit that job a month later and even went out with a bang by telling this person just how wrong he had been in his behavior towards me. He probably got a little more of my fire than he deserved since I never did get to have that kind of one on one with my first perpetrator, but I don't feel bad about that. My therapist calls this time period the moment when I began to fight back. It was crucial because it meant I cared about myself and my life enough to fight for it. And I had to fight hard. Every. Single. Day. Just to get out of bed, but you've heard about that.

Looking back I realize my "friends" who gave me alcohol and took advantage of me were in a similar place as me. They were experiencing a lack of control, depression and in both cases, healing from severe childhood physical and sexual trauma. Let me be clear: this does not excuse my or their behavior at all. But it can begin to explain it, and give it perspective and give us a starting point on how to deal with it.

I've spent the last two years pretty intrenched in information on the topic. At first I thought it was pretty complicated and there was so much to read and know before you can begin to really get it, but lately I've been thinking that maybe it's not, maybe it's very simple. The way we talk about it as a society (it being the inequality between the sexes that I believe leads to things like rape) really had me confused. So confused that I was literally apologizing to someone who had violated me mere days afterwards. I am no longer confused. I did not ask to be violated by going for a jog by myself. I did not ask to be violated by drinking in the company of a male. And I will not apologize.

This type of post is really exhausting for me, so that will all for tonight. But more soon. It is so important to me that I think critically about all of this.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Homesick

I am missing Provo today. Er... not Provo exactly... but the people I loved there, the sense of community I finally found in adulthood, and the mountains, god I miss the mountains. It's not even like I spent much time in them, but just having them around was somehow very comforting. They were a fence in which I lived inside almost my entire life. It's very flat here.. and very cold and very windy. 

Don't get me wrong, I love my life here. Isaac and I are getting to define ourselves anew, create the grounds for our marriage, and grow up together here. That is all well and beautiful. Coming here was a step forward and it's what we both wanted, but we still miss what we had in Utah. 

For me, I finally felt like I had a community in Utah, after several years of adulthood and feeling a little lost in the happy valley. Between activism and yoga and poetry, I met the most amazing people, people I value so much. People whose opinions I want to hear on almost everything! (FB comes in handy on this one)

I miss my brother. We still talk on the phone every week and that helps, but I still miss him. His is the one input I always look for. And I miss my Mom. Which is very weird because she and I have had quite a tumultuous relationship the last few years. I think that's just what happens when a mother has a daughter that is so like her. 

I miss my yoga studio. 3B yoga is so darn special to me it's actually very hard and emotional for me to talk about. I miss my mentor there, and my friends; those beautiful girls with so much love for life. 

Comparing my life here and now to my life in the past in Utah doesn't make much sense, so I'm not going to do that. I've moved forward and that's a good thing. But here's a little gem Isaac told me today. When he left his hometown in Texas, he had many of these same feelings of nostalgia and homesickness. And what he finally realized is that that meant he had a life of value in that place. It's not really the place you miss, it's the person you were there, the life you had. 

So maybe my bout of tears today is a good thing, it means I had a good life there. I had relationships and experiences that are worth missing. And really, most of the goodness has come with me, because it lives in me. And the relationships that meant something have and I believe will sustain themselves. 

But for today, I am missing Utah. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Best Friends

I posted this as my FB status last night:


"Sometimes he knees me while we sleep. I usually knee him back, just so he knows I still love him."


Isaac had been up for about 48 hours studying (he likes to do things last minute, but he also likes to them well), so he crashed at 8 PM yesterday. It took me 5 hours after that to fall asleep and in those 5 hours my little sweetie pie kneed me several times, he also half woke up and gave me cute sleepy eyed smiles every now and again. You see, I've been sick all week and yesterday I spent the entire day in bed resting, hoping to kick this thing for good. I could have gone into a different room, but I like being near him when I can, even if he's sleeping, or kicking me. Maybe we're just enjoying the newly-wed period, but I just can't imagine it being any different.

Last week one of Isaac's brothers came into town and he asked us how marriage was going. Not an altogether uncommon question actually. My dad likes to ask how our marriage is too. I think it's weird. But also, I want to tell you how our marriage is. It's the best. Seriously. I just have this best friend who I get to live with and sleep with and who is always on my team. Life is hard, money is annoying, school and work are stressful, but my marriage: best part of my life, hands down.

I could go on and on about how amazing my husband is, blah blah blah, and how thankful I am for all that he does, blah blah blah. But that's not really the thing. It's not because of anything he does that I love him. It's who we are together. Our vows, which are hanging on the wall of our bedroom as I type this, go like this:


I take you to be my spouse, my friend, my love, and my lifelong partner.

I vow to share my life with you;
 to be present with you in every moment;
to build our dreams together,
while holding the space for you to grow individually;
to support you through times of trouble and rejoice with you in times of happiness;
to treat you with respect, love and loyalty through all the trials and triumphs of our lives together;
and to give you all the love I can give throughout all of time.

 This commitment is made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope and eternally made new.


And all I can really say about Isaac is that he really upholds these vows everyday, and I hope I do too.

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