So, we’re at the halfway point between Christmas and Christmas. It’s hard to believe how quickly the six months have passed…and also how slowly they’ve passed. I’m frustrated with how little progress I feel I’ve made. But then I have nights like last night, where I found myself lying awake and thinking about last Christmas. Remembering my mom yelling at me after she told me that she’d disclosed everything I’d told her to my dad, particularly after I’d begged her not to at the recommendation of last summer’s therapist. Remembering her yelling at me like I was a friend who’d betrayed her, or some former acquaintance who’d done something unforgivable. “What do you want me to do? Divorce him? Pack my bags and leave him? He’s my husband!” Last night I found myself wondering why, as her daughter, I didn’t deserve the loyalty and protection she showered upon the man who abused me for years, the man who radiated such joy while inflicting pain on me. So many instances over the past thirty years where I shouted and cried for help and was told to quiet down, to stop screaming. And even if she was going to defend him, regardless of what had happened, why couldn’t anyone in my family support me in the aftermath of the sexual assault and abuse by my ex-boyfriend? They pretend that none of this happened, that I made it up, and any fraction of these events that they’re willing to acknowledge, they acknowledge only as something for which I’m responsible. I should have fought back harder, defended myself better, or just accepted their excuses for their behavior.
I’m not looking forward to this Christmas.
“What we are taught when it comes to rape, over and over and over again, is that ‘No means no.’ And, of course, that’s true. But what so many people don’t seem to understand is that there are many shades of gray when it comes to rape, that it can be confusing. That doubt, that constant need to defend and reaffirm my experience even just to myself, is one of the worst parts of my recovery.” (See Unbreakable.)
Hey, it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month!
I suppose it’s appropriate then that I’m struggling with an overwhelming amount of doubt. As an analytical nerd, I think it would be interesting to wear my running heart rate monitor when I’m not running and see what happens as my thoughts drift all over the place (and occasionally settle into memories of the traumatic events I’ve been trying to work through over the past year or so). I’m very thankful for my snuggle-bunny cat these days — he certainly makes it easier to fall asleep at night, and when I wake up in the middle of the night, upset over the dreams I’ve been having, he makes sure to snuggle in closely to comfort me. Everyone should be so lucky!
- After a quasi-philosophical lunch discussion with two of my favorite coworkers, the one who’s a Rosicrucian and believes he was Russian in a past life loaned me the book Journey of Souls by Michael Newton. I asked him what he thought about karma, if it follows you from life to life, and said that he believes it does. Then he said, “I’d probably get in trouble for saying this at work, but I think that people who are abused in this life were abusive in a past life.” What a comforting thought. I felt my face flush, and I don’t remember how I responded. Most likely with a “Hmm…yeah” and the hope that he didn’t read too much into my reaction. (I’m having a hard time getting through the book, by the way. For some reason, as I read it, I just start crying. I’ve been needing to cry for a while now, but usually can’t…unless I read a few pages of that book. I think one of the main things it’s triggering is the unexpressed grief I have over my grandpa’s passing three years ago.)
- Another favorite coworker (okay, I have a lot of favorite coworkers) was talking about one of his dogs the next day and how it had been abused by a previous owner. With a look of resignation, he said something to the effect of, “With a dog like that, you know they’re just never going to be quite right.” (On a related note, Runnerboy once told me he’d never adopt an abused dog. The guy in my therapy group told me to dump him right then and there, that I shouldn’t waste my time with someone who thought that way. WISE WORDS.)
- When saying goodbye to one of the (60-something year old male) employees I met at another plant site, as we shook hands, he winked at me. Ick.
- When working on the production floor on Friday, I caught one of the union guys staring at me for a bit too long. I hate the fact that I’m hyper-vigilant about this sort of stuff.
- When driving down the highway to my soccer game this past weekend, while wearing my super-sexy 18-year-old Umbros, a truck driver honked his horn as I passed him. It’s been years since I’ve gotten the truck-driver-honk, but it still makes me feel gross.
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts about the Penn State stuff this past week – unsuccessfully, I’m afraid. I know most people are sick of hearing about it, but I just can’t stop feeling so sad about it all. Sure, there’s the Mighty Institution aspect of the situation, and as someone who was raised Catholic in football country, I completely understand that. It’s one of the things that has fostered resentment (and feminism) in me. But then there’s the whole idea that the people in charge, the people who were supposed to protect these kids, ignored the events and basically sent the message to these kids (and the parents that went to bat for them) that they didn’t deserve to be safe. Who knows what the real motivation was for these people in the position to do something, but as human beings, how could they not protect these kids? Are people really that closed-off or afraid to not show each other that they are worthy of love and safety? These kids were from dysfunctional families, and still some of them had parents that tried to do the right thing and protect them. Maybe that’s what devastates me the most and is so difficult for me to think about: that these kids had people who were willing to do what they could to protect them…and in my case, my family refused to do the same.
(And this is the part where the readers who know me are going, “Wha-?” I may share more later on. Bleh.)