Old Blog Posts from March 11, 2012 to May 9, 2012

*Please note – This is a copy of posts from my old blog.  The old blog was redesigned to point to this one, but not before I got all the old posts transferred.  What is here and the next few posts to the “Posts from The Old Blog” are copies of what I did thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and many thanks to Tracie Nall at FromTracie for telling me about this.  The links probably do not work and the pictures may not show up and to my dismay, the comments are lost.  I will try to reconstruct the links, but I apologize for these posts.  ~Jackie

Relearning Care

Many survivors I have met care deeply for other people.  They will give up anything to help out another.  We give and give and give, and if we aren’t careful, there will be nothing left.

With my ex-husband, I was so close to giving up myself.  I gave up everything for him.  My self was the last step.  I was right on the verge of losing it all; and the worst part of it was I thought I was doing it for a good reason.  I wasn’t.  I was just being stupid and blind and stubborn.  I put up with a lot from him, but the worst thing and the final emotional straw was when he told me I was selfish.  The remaining sense of self I had screamed in my head that it wasn’t true.  I did not leave at that moment, but it was shortly after that I did.

How could I be selfish?  I had given up jobs for him, friends for him, opportunities for him.  I was making bad choices, but I was not selfish.

The sense of self is a curious thing.  It is fragile.  It can become overinflated.  It can be shattered.  It can be rebuilt.  It can be oblivious to others.  It can be oblivious of others.  And it can change quickly.

For me, I was taught for so long that my thoughts and opinions didn’t matter.  But at the same time, I cared so much about other people that I really began to believe that what I wanted was not important and my only purpose in life was to make sure others were happy.

I used to apologize (sincerely) for everything.  It didn’t matter what the other person said or what happened to them, I apologized and felt responsible, even though it usually had absolutely nothing to do with me.  I felt responsible (and guilty) for everything.

From my experience, I’d have to say I’m not alone in feeling responsible for the problems of the world.  Many people cannot separate themselves from all the bad things that happen.  Some things, like natural disasters just happen.  No one is responsible and no one caused it.  But there are still lots of people that feel they could have stopped it or made it less harmful in some way.

Many abuse survivors feel they are responsible for what happened to them.  “If I hadn’t worn that, they would have left me alone.”  “If I’d been a good boy, he wouldn’t have had to punish me.”  “If I hadn’t liked it, she wouldn’t have done it again.”  The abuse totally warps or destroys our sense of self.

Many survivors are hyper-responsible and seem to have an apathy of care.  We care so much about others, but lack the knowledge to care for ourselves.  But it doesn’t seem to stop there.

For me, apathy of care means that I don’t know how to react when people care or try to care for me.  My fiance is a wonderful man.  He is such a good person and he cares so much for me.  And that is sometimes hard for me to understand.  He always asks if I have enough money.  He opens the car door for me and He puts gas in my car.  He worries about me and the stress I was under in my last job.  He does all of these things because he cares.  He doesn’t want anything from me.  He isn’t trying to control me.  He just loves me, exactly as I am.  Sometimes I poke him in the shoulder with my finger to make sure he’s real.  To my surprise, he is always real flesh and bone.

A basic understanding of what it means to receive care should be one of those things that is just part of human nature.  Someone should be able to offer me human care without me flinching or wondering what he wants from me.  That is not my experience, but I am learning just how wonderful and amazing that can really be.

Jeff and his dad collect antique tractors.  He has frequently said to me that for the right person, he would have given them all up, but the right person would never ask him to give them up.

The right person who truly cares about you will never ask you to give up who you are.  They won’t be focused on trying to change you.  And you won’t be trying to change them.  The partner who is right for you loves you as you are, just as you are trying love yourself.

“Never confuse someone caring about what you can do for them with them actually caring about you. These things are not the same.”

There are people in the world who only want to use you.  But there are some who do what they do just because they care.  Protect yourself and your heart, but don’t forget that some people are genuine and true.  Be true to you and never forget that you matter.

Stepping Back In

I went to my friend Christopher‘s concert last weekend.  It was so much fun and so nice to reconnect with a friend I haven’t seen in many years.

And the best part was that Jeff went with me.  We got to go together.  I have grown so used to doing things by myself.  It was almost strange that Jeff not only wanted to go, but that he drove, and didn’t throw a fit that we were doing something I wanted to do.  He didn’t fight with me about it.  Didn’t try to change plans at the last minute.  I asked him if he’d like to go and he said he’d love to.

Over the past few years, I gave up what I loved for someone else.  I was used to it.  I’d been doing it my whole life.  Since I was a little girl, I was constantly shown that I didn’t matter.  My father only wanted to use me.  My mother loved my sister more than me.  Other people tried to give me other messages, but the ones I learned the best were the ones I received at home.  I ate up the messages with cereal in the morning and pork chops at night.

And why?  Why couldn’t I hear the other messages from my teachers and friends?  Because the voices and the pain I felt at home were so secretive and so consuming, I couldn’t hear anything else.  My brain was actually reprogrammed because of the trauma and abuse I experienced.

My friend also preached the day after the concert.  Jeff and I went to that too.  Christopher sang a song at children’s time that brought me to tears.  That isn’t too unusual because a lot of songs bring me to tears.  Christopher said that he wanted to sing the song because a friend of his sang it and wanted every adult possible to hear it.  Every child needs to hear it as well, I think.  Perhaps you need to hear it too.

If you have a few minutes, please take the time to listen to it.  You can read the lyrics, but to play the song, just click on the play button next to the title.

how could anyone from Splash! (new 2010 edition)

How could anyone ever tell you You were anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you You were less than whole? How could anyone fail to notice That your loving is a miracle? How deeply you’re connected to my soul.

Credits:

Written by Libby Roderick

My father never told me I wasn’t beautiful, but he gave me the message every day that I didn’t matter.  He didn’t have to tell me I wasn’t whole, but he broke me.

I have finally gotten to the point that I can believe I am a beautiful person; or at least that I have a beautiful soul.  I have come to realize that I am not a burden on others (though this is still hard for me to say.)  I have worked extremely hard in therapy and in learning to trust people to become whole again.  It is a miracle that I survived, and that so many people survive so much tragedy and heartache.  And you are connected to my soul.  Your healing is bound up in mine and while I understand boundaries and setting them between myself and others in a healthy way, we are connected.  I feel much closer to healed, but I hope each time I write, or talk to you, that I am reaching out my hand to help you move forward in your healing.

Since I left seminary, I have stepped out of my connection with others.  I was tired in many ways and needed a rest.  I was also not in a relationship where I was supported.  Now I am.  And I have also gotten a rest.  I have been writing and have been part of a group for survivors, but I was on the edges in many ways.  It is time for me to step back in.  And I have been thinking about it.  Now it is time to stop thinking and do something about it.

I am filling out the application for CASA – court appointed special advocates – a group of volunteers who support kids through the court process if they have been abused.  My friend and I are working on a book we want to write.  I am doing what I feel I need to to reconnect with other survivors.  It is time and I am stepping in.

Posted in Survivors | 3 Comments

Love Thyself

I got my hair trimmed yesterday.  That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in my life, it has often been a big ordeal.

My father loved my hair long.  My hair is thick and heavy; and while pretty, it can be a pain.  It is hot and heavy, and when I was younger, more than one piece of gum got thrown into my hair.  My mom had to cut it out and it was quite traumatic to get it taken care of.  I got my hair cut at some point before my father had to leave our house.  Dad was furious.  I’d done something without his consent and he didn’t like it at all.

My father also loved the color of my hair.  It is almost the same color as his.  He used to tell me if I ever dyed my hair, he’d kill me.  I waited until he was in prison until I dyed it.  My friend Liz dyed it for me and I waited, holding my breath, expecting him to charge in and finish me off, even though I knew he was safely locked behind bars.  I dyed it a lighter shade of red. I have never felt the need to dye it again.

Last year for my birthday, I wanted nothing else than to get my hair cut.  It was down to the middle of my back and was very heavy and took too much care and time. to dry.  I made the appointment and tried not to let my ex-husband know that because I knew he would try to bully me out of getting it cut.  He had done it before.

When we lived in Illinois, there was a place where I used to love to get my hair cut.  I made an appointment and my ex found out.  He badgered me until I let him cut it.  No surprise, it looked terrible.  I had to go and get it cut anyway.  The man who cut it said, “So, what happened to your hair?”

I knew I made a mistake when the phone rang the day before my birthday and I answered it.  It was the salon calling to confirm my appointment.  After I got off the phone, he asked if I was planning to get my hair cut.  I said yes, that was what I wanted for my birthday (even though I was going to pay for it.)   Again, he began the badgering.  He finally “agreed” to it, as long as I got no more than three inches cut.  I got it layered in the front, so it was about three and a half inches shorter in the front and he threw a fit.  It was the next day that I left him.  My hair wasn’t the reason, but it was one of the last reasons.

Shortly after I started dating Jeff, I asked him what he would do if I cut my hair.  He looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.  He said, “It’s your hair.  You do what you want to with it.”  I believed him, and got it cut very shortly after that discussion.  He loved it.  And he loved it even more because I loved it.

I have often felt that being sexually abused killed my soul, or at least shut it down so tightly that i would never be able to nudge it to life again.

Yesterday I left Jeff a message that I was getting my hair cut.  He called me on the way home and was not belligerent or nasty about it.  He was excited.  And when he got home, he thought it looked great.

Jeff loves me just as I am.  Short hair, long hair; a little heavier than I would like.  He loves me just as I am.

He loves me in part because of who he is, but he also loves me because I have finally come to a place in my life that I love myself.  I deserve this relationship.  I no longer have to keep myself small or hold back who I am because I respect who I am and Jeff does too.

Life has a much different outlook when you love yourself.  I don’t feel ashamed of who I am anymore.  I don’t feel like everything is my fault.  I do the best that I can every day and don’t regret what I can’t do every day.

I used to feel guilty for everything.  It wasn’t my fault, but I was told so often it was that I began to believe it.  And I believed it for a long time.

Some things are my fault and I do make mistakes, but I have learned to take responsibility for my own actions.  That is all I can manage.  And it is all anyone should ever have to manage.

Take responsibility for what you have done, but even more important, learn to love yourself as you are.  That will open amazing doors for others to love you.  You can be who really are and people will have the opportunity to love the real you.  And if they don’t, you probably don’t want to be around them anyway.

Namaste

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