*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
I went out with some friends last night. An older man came over and started talking to me. I have talked to this man before and he has said some things that are just on the verge of inappropriate. Last night, he told me that he broke up with his girlfriend and attempted to tell me sexual things she enjoyed that he did to her. I told him that I didn’t need to know any details. The rest of the night, the man essentially blocked me in my chair and kept moving closer to me, even though he was standing there talking to my husband.
I was so angry with him because he was invading my space and telling me things I had no desire to know. I actually felt like I needed a shower. It was just so disrespectful and I felt violated.
Then I got mad at myself because I don’t know him well and I tried to convince myself that I was just overreacting. He’s just an old man. He didn’t mean any harm. Blah, blah, blah.
Whether he meant it or not, I found his comments offensive and then I blamed myself. I have been so conditioned in my life to blame myself that even when I was angry with the appropriate person for his bad behavior, I got angry with myself for being angry.
I’ve done so much work to heal that it is frustrating when I find myself falling into old, bad patterns that were so ingrained I didn’t even recognize them. I was just a child when I was abused and didn’t have enough experience or power in life to know that anything could be different.
Now I am an adult. I don’t have control over every situation, but I do have control over how I react. I was angry with good reason at a man I don’t know who was acting in much too forward of a manner. He may not have laid a hand on me, but his words and movements were unwelcome and unwanted.
The other thing that really bothers me about this man is that he professes to be so Christian. He tells me about his church and how much money he contributes every week. Then when he’s not in church, he’s making inappropriate, sexual comments to people he hardly knows. Those are the types of Christians the church could really live without.
Most of the time, my intuition is pretty tuned in to people I feel are creepy. Most of the time I pay attention to it and I may not ever know if I’m right about the person or not, but I have learned to trust my instincts. This man sets off the creepy alarm less than some, but there are certainly warnings of discomfort.
I did not ask for his comments and I don’t believe he would have backed off if my husband hadn’t come back to our table just then. And chances are, that next time we go in there, he’ll be right back in my face again.
So how will I act differently next time? I’ll sit in a different place in the bar. I will pay attention to my creepy meter. I don’t need or want his attention. I could stay home, but then I have to give up an evening with my husband because of some old man who is old enough to know better, but just doesn’t care. I will continue to stand up for myself and tell him to back off if he continues to be so forward. I don’t deserve or want his attention.
It also makes me angry that I am the one who has to change my behavior. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I am the one who has to change and think about how I behave and react. It seems like he should be the one who has to change.
It isn’t a great situation and I really hate that people have to be so thoughtless and inconsiderate of other people. If people in general were more thoughtful of others and thought about how their actions impact others, the world would be a much different place. People could all live in a world in which they were respected. No would would ever be raped or abused.
As I often do, I’d like to close this post with a song. It is “I Think About You” by Raye Collin. Please read the words and then listen to the video. The emphasis is mine, but I think about every woman and man I know who was abused when I hear it. The language in the song only refers to a girl, but I know both men and women are abused.
Every time I see a woman on a billboard sign I think about you Saying “drink this beer and you’ll be mine” I think about you When an actress on a movie screen Plays Lolita in some old man’s dreams It doesn’t matter who she is I think about you
When I see a pretty woman walking down the street I think about you Men look her up and down like she’s some kind of treat I think about you She wouldn’t dare talk to a stranger always has to be aware of the danger it doesn’t matter who she is I think about
Chorus: You eight years old big blue eyes and a heart of gold when I look at this world, I think about You and I can’t help but see that every woman used to be Somebody’s little girl, I think about you
Everytime I hear people say it’s never gonna change I think about you Like it’s some kind fo joke, some kind of game I think about you When I see a woman on the news who didn’t ask to be abandoned or abused it doesn’t matter who she is I think about
You eight years old big blue eyes and a heart of gold when I look at this world, I think about You and I can’t help but see that every woman used to be Somebody’s little girl, I think about you
The year is drawing to a close and I wonder if we are in a better place that we were last year. And there are so many ways in which we can take stock in our lives. How are our finances, our relationships, our feelings about ourselves and others. We are still in that bleak period of time, now only with the weather, but with the holidays and all the emotions that surround them.
Before Christmas, I was having a pretty rough time. We went to Texas and fought with everything we had and it felt like we came home empty handed. We still don’t know the outcome, and like so many things, I think it will be a long time before we know anything.
I know talking about the ripples from one stone thrown in the water is trite. But I believe it all the same. I have learned to be cautious of people and the world in general, but my first instinct is always to try and love. I think if you spread kindness in the world, a little bit of it is bound to come back to you.
As with so many other things, though, I get tired of waiting. I try to be nice to every customer that comes into the store where I work. Most of them are very pleasant and I enjoy working with them. Sometimes, though, people are having a bad day or didn’t get what they wanted, or for whatever reason are having a bad life and take it out on me. I try to smile and not tell them to go to hell. So far, I’ve managed never to do that.
Sadly, I’m not always able to leave my stuff at the door either and it comes out as frustration with people who wait on me. I try to apologize and tell them it’s not them. For the most part, taking out frustration on someone who doesn’t deserve it doesn’t help anyone in any way.
The ripple story may be trite, but I think there is one thing we forget. The ripples we send out don’t always come back to us, but they affect the world. We may still have a hard time and bad things may still happen to us. Being a good person does not guarantee that we will always get good things back, but I hope we can still try to pay it forward.
As a survivor, I don’t think this is easy. I want to trust people, but I really struggle with that. My ability to trust others was broken so severely that I could barely trust myself. I didn’t trust the people who were supposed to love me and protect me because they had shown that there was no reason to trust them. I didn’t trust strangers because I learned no one was trustworthy. I always wanted to trust people, and have had more than one broken heart because I did.
As I have grown older and worked through some of my trauma, I have learned to trust again. I am still cautious about it but I feel so much more whole now that I can trust people again.
This New Year, I wish you all hope, trust, and love. Try to trust when you can and try to love yourself. You may have been taught that you were unlovable but it simply isn’t true. You are totally worth love, trust, and respect. People can tell you that over and over, but until you can believe it for yourself, it will probably only feel fake.
On the way home from work the other day, I heard the song “Little Miss” by Sugarland. the one line that really struck me was, “…sometimes you gotta lose til you win. It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright. It’ll be alright again.”
So I dedicate this song to all of my friends and fellow survivors as 2010 draws to a close. It may not be alright right now and we may have to say it is, but it will be alright again. Love and blessings to all of you who sometimes still see the world through the glass darkly and those of you who have come to know the light as well.
I just got back from a trip to Texas. I took the train on this trip and sat with a woman named Corinne. She was a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. During our conversation, it came out that I work with survivors of sexual abuse. She said, “I never experienced that but I made it through Katrina. How do I survive that?”
I told her to keep talking and keep crying and find people who understand. That is no good advice, but it was all I could come up with at the time.
It would be fantastic if there were a one size fits all solution for survival. My fear is that it would be something like the solution in Stepford. We’ll make you into a robot, but you will smile and be happy all the time and never feel any pain. Your life will be perfect. There have been days when I would have asked where to sign.
It hurts to be a victim. It hurts to heal and become a survivor. There seems to be no end of things from which we have to survive. I am constantly awed by the tenacity of the people I meet and the life force in them which helps them continue to survive.
The down side of that is that they sometimes work so hard to survive that they never learn how to thrive. And how does one do that? I wish I were an expert on that. Then I could write a best seller and focus more on what I want to do than working to pay the bills and squeeze in what I love on the side.
I can’t even give you a direct map of how I’ve survived. There have been points when I honestly just didn’t think I would make it. I know I’ve said it before, but I really attribute my survival to my friends. There is a force within me which refuses to give up, but it has been so battered at times that didn’t think I could go on. My friends were always there to hold me up until I could continue on my own.
“And I’ll be there, yes, I will. You’ve got a friend.” I have always loved this song because I have found friends throughout my life who proved they really would be there. It wasn’t just lip service. They listened to me and did not turn away from my pain. For someone who is used to being ignored and put off, that is a powerful reality check. My friends taught me that I was worth the time and the effort. I couldn’t understand why, but they didn’t turn me away.
It took me a long time to figure out what people saw in me and why they cared. I sometimes still struggle with that because it has to be about me and I’m not good at dealing with things that are about me. I’m good at dealing with other people and listening to them, but I struggle to find the place for me.
There used to be a Saturday Night Live skit that featured Stuart Smalley in which he would say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Of course it was fictional, but there has been more than one day in my life when I’ve had to say that. Sometimes, I’ve had to say it more than once a day.
So, here’s the bottom line. Take the time to heal. Talk, yell, scream, draw, write, speak, pray. Do whatever it is you need to heal. You are totally worth it.
I’ll close tonight with a poem I have always loved by Dylan Thomas.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
It may seem easier sometimes to just be quiet and not make a fuss. As you do that, the spark of life within you loses strength. It is worth the pain to heal. Rage against the dying of that light.
I’ve been neglecting my blog. I haven’t written for weeks. As the holidays approach, I have to wonder why am I neglecting it. Is it that I’m just so busy that I don’t have time to write or is there some other reason I’m not ready to address?
The holidays are a rough time for lots of people, for lots of different reasons. The economy makes it difficult because we are supposed to be able to afford to get our friends and family the presents they need and want.
For Christians, this is supposed to be a time of celebration and anticipation. This is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. Births are supposed to be good things. The stress and anxiety associated with it can be overwhelming. That’s how many survivors feel about Christmas.
I think, emotionally, I’m in a better place about holidays than I have ever been. I’m still feeling the drain. There’s been a lot of things going on in my life and I’m just feeling drained. There may be some things to celebrate and I know there are. So I’m trying to focus on those, but also remembering when Christmas was hard. Thinking of spending time with family and seeing people that would ask about my father was hard. Thinking about how I was supposed to be happy was hard. I’ve grown exceptionally good at smiling even when I don’t feel like it. I have to stop and think sometimes if I’m really happy or just smiling because I’m supposed to.
When I was a kid, I was excited about Christmas. I loved the excitement of it, and of course I loved the presents. Mom always got us a new pair of pajamas that we opened on Christmas Eve and would wear to bed that night.
My sister and I usually woke up very early in the morning to open our presents. As part of the family agreement for waking my father up early, we were not allowed to change into regular clothes. We had to stay in our new pajamas through opening presents and breakfast. It was an invitation for my father to see us in our pajamas, in a way that always made me feel vulnerable. The pajamas weren’t revealing or inappropriate, it just made me feel exposed.
For years, when I would go to a friends’ house and spend the night, I would not put my pajamas on until I was in my room, or my sleeping bag. I didn’t want to feel exposed by just walking around in pajamas. I would also leave my shoes on until it was time for bed. I never knew when I’d need to run away.
As the Christmas holiday approaches this year, I’m just not feeling the excitement. I haven’t gotten the tree. I have bought zero presents. I’m thinking that perhaps I’d just like to skip the whole thing. I won’t skip it and society won’t let me forget, but I hope other survivors are fairing a little better with Christmas than I am this year.
If you aren’t, please know you are not alone and just be gentle with yourself as we progress through the season. Spend time with those you love and who love you, and know it is ok to avoid the family gatherings in which you do not feel safe or loved.
I’m kind of stuck in my own bog at the moment and not looking out at the world around me. I hope you can find a little light to your soul.
I wrote a post about the TSA screening procedures. It was pretty good. I had links to the Early Show and the Martin Niemoller poem about remaining silent. And you just have to take my word that it was pretty good. Since the computer ate it not once but twice, I’ve erased what was left out of pure frustration. Ugh.
So I’ll move on to the topic at hand. It’s late in the day on Thanksgiving and I wonder how my survivor friends are doing. Holidays should be about spending time with family and relaxing, enjoying each other’s company. For non-survivors and survivors alike, the mere thought of getting together with one’s family is often depressing, if not completely overwhelming.
For survivors of abuse, it often puts us back in the same room with our abusers. We are forced to smile and look like we are enjoying our selves. Sometimes we are even forced to pose for pictures with our abuser and look like we are happy to be there.
Holidays are tough for a lot of people. Saying that, I found this blog that says a lot of good things for survivors. There are a lot of good tips here. Please read them and add your own.
You have seen through the glass darkly, but there is light and you are not alone.
I don’t order many books, but I love Amazon.com. I love the variety of books and products that I can buy. I also love that I can buy used books. I don’t always like using other people’s books, but I like saving money.
It isn’t acceptable that a world wide bookseller would allow a book to be sold which encourages criminal behavior and tells the correct way to have an encounter with a child. One blog I read called Mischievous Muse listed fictional titles for other books she wondered if Amazon.com would list. At first I didn’t realize she was being sarcastic and I thought they were actual titles listed by Amazon.com. That was how realistic the titles were and how appalling the concept of these books are.
Amazon.com has said they do not believe in censoring the booksellers on the site and they believe in the author’s right to free speech. For good or bad, people are allowed to write whatever they want, but it does not mean that retailers have to sell it. Amazon.com benefits financially from each sale of the book. It seems that they may wish to be more careful about what it posts. There is already talk of a boycott, which would hurt them financially as well.
I agree with freedom of speech, but I think we take it too far. I don’t know how to propose censorship, but when the work is encouraging people to commit crimes and gives specific instructions on how to commit that crime and not get caught, that is too much. No, I do not have to read whatever was written and in this case, I refuse. But other people will read it and in this case, children will be hurt and have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Isn’t that a good enough reason to say, no we will not allow this book to be sold.
With the wonder of the internet, I know the author will just find another way to disseminate the information. There is almost no way to stop information from being available once it hits the internet. However, I don’t think places like Amazon.com or any other global book seller should promote anything that encourages hurting children, or animals, or women.
One man interviewed on the Early Show stated that pedophilia really meant a love for children. I love children, but I am certainly not a pedophile. It is so disturbing that we have learned to speak about illegal and immoral things, like pedophilia, in terms that make it seem not so bad. It is the ultimate dangerous downplay to say that pedophilia is just about loving kids or that man boy love is acceptable because it is teaching the boy how to be a man. As the man said on Oprah the other day, it is the stealing of a soul, not the nurturing of one.
As with all things, I want people to be free and I want to have the freedom to do and say what I want. But I think we have to think about throwing around the words free speech without thinking about the implications of that speech. Whatever someone says, someone else can object to or find offensive, but we also have to think it through. There is a line when free speech becomes hate speech. And then, once again, we have to use the voices we have found to stand up and say, hold on. This is just abusive. It is nothing that even resembles free speech.
I just did a couple things I never do. I never watch shows online and I never watch Oprah. Don’t get me wrong, Oprah has done and continues to do a lot of good things. I think I’ve just gotten tired of some of her shows, and there are some things I just don’t care about. BUT her show from last Friday is one that anyone who knows a survivor of sexual abuse should not miss. Since we all know a survivor of sexual abuse, whether we know it or not, I guess we should all watch the Friday, November Fifth, Two Thousand and Ten’s episode. If you haven’t had a chance yet, here’s the link. It is totally worth the forty minutes.
The show stemmed from an episode where Tyler Perry admitted that his life as a child had been a living hell. He admitted that he was sexually molested by several different perpetrators during his childhood. The Oprah show last week featured Tyler Perry and one hundred and ninety-nine other men who were molested as children. Most of them had multiple perpetrators. All of them lived with the silence, the shame, the self-doubt, the constant daily struggle so common to survivors of sexual abuse, both male and female.
The pain of the men on the show was palpable, even through the small video screen on my computer. Obviously, I am not a man, and did not have to grow up in a society as a boy who had been sexually abused. I am a woman and did grow up in a society as a girl who had been sexually abused. Many of the feelings the men described were as familiar to me as if they were my own. That leads me to believe that we live in a society that allows horrible abuse of its children to occur, but has no adequate way to deal with it or stop it. That is a frightening realization, but the survivors I know who have found their voice have done it for themselves and to help heal the world.
My friends, Ophelia de Serres and Chris de Serres, are speaking out. Chris was one of the men on stage at the Oprah show last week. He and Ophelia have also started a project called the My Name is Project to put a face to survivors of abuse. We’ve all heard the statistics, but seeing a survivor makes it real and makes people more likely to care. If I get up the nerve again to ask my mom for pictures, I’ll submit mine to the project as well. I just really hate saying, “Hey mom, can I have some pictures of me at about age seven so I can post them on the internet and show the world the age I was when I was abused?” It’s never a good conversation starter and it hurts so much to look at the pictures.
There were a few quotes from the show that struck me with their profoundness and wisdom. One man said, “The shame goes so deeply within your soul. It just becomes intertwined with everything.” Another man named Paul said, “I thought he cared about us. I thought he cared about me. He stole my fucking soul.” I think of sexual abuse as soul death. It takes a lot to recover one’s soul, and some parts of it are gone forever.
During the show, Oprah reflected on a former guest’s definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a sticky subject for me and for other survivors. I’ve always felt forced to forgive my father for what he did and just move on. I couldn’t forgive him then and I’m not sure I have yet, but I have forgiven the little girl who couldn’t stop an adult from doing what he wanted. Oprah said, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different and moving forward.” Beginning to move forward is the first step to moving on with the rest of your life; not as it could have been, but as it is, realistically now. You are in control of your life now, even though it may seem like you aren’t. You are no longer a child who had no control and no choices.
The last quote from the show that struck me was also from Oprah. She said, “It’s time to end the shame…Today is about becoming free.”
Today is about becoming free. If we are making choices that aren’t the best, there’s always tomorrow. You can make another choice. As an adult, you have the option to do that. As a little kid, you didn’t have that option. You deserve good things and have the ability to choose them.
If you are a survivor, thank you for all your hard work. If you are a supporter, thank you for your love. If you are a victim, please know it will get better. You aren’t alone in your suffering. Hang in there. The survivors who have gone before you and are still around know what it is like. The supporters are there for you and wish you nothing but good things. Hang on, reach out, and know that there is real love that doesn’t hurt. Just keep looking for it.