In Memory of Michael

CW: sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse.  Post contains graphic descriptions and links.

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Flowers I picked and arranged for him in ’13

He taught me how to play Reversi.

His favorite color was blue.

His birthday was in February.

He was in a great deal of pain.

Physical

Emotional

Psychological

He was cynical.

Logical.

He did not believe in a god, gods, or God.

He was very broken.

I thought I could fix him.

Heal some of his pain.

I was his friend.

Knowingly, or unknowingly, he groomed and manipulated me.  He abused me.

img_0504Sexually

Emotionally

Psychologically

But still.  I wanted his love.  His acceptance.

I changed my hair style for him.

I recorded myself playing songs on the piano for him.

I went through every day thinking about what I would share with him later.

How I would make my day sound interesting to him.

How to avoid topics that would cause him to think I was stupid.

I went to him with my questions about sex.

He was always throwing sexual innuendos around, so I knew he would talk to me about it.

He’s the first person I asked about orgasms.

They had always eluded me, and I wanted to know what I was missing.

He asked me to sleep naked in my bed for him one night.

I did it, despite the fact that I shared my room with a much younger sibling and someone might find out.

My care for him grew.

I convinced myself that I was falling for him romantically.

Despite the fact that I was not physically attracted to him at all.

He offered me a deal.  He said we couldn’t keep messing around.

Either I had to say no, or I could agree to be his sub.

Michael lived an ocean away from me.

We never met in person.

We talked over Skype twice.

I almost said yes.

I remember pacing the upstairs floor of a church building during a dress rehearsal the week before a major musical.

I knew I should say no.

I was at war with myself.

But a little part of me, which gradually grew bigger, wanted to know more.

img_0554Wanted to see if I could be a sub.

Wanted to feel love.

Wanted someone to care about her.

I had a very deep fear that no one would ever love me.

I didn’t think I was beautiful or worth loving.

I wanted to feel.

But I was terrified.

Another online friend listened and helped me say no.

I am forever grateful to that friend.

I said no.

I blocked him.

I didn’t hear from him again.

That was in May of 2013.

Now, in October of 2016, I go searching once more.

Because I want to share this old part of my life with my boyfriend.

So that he will know what I went through.

So that he will understand.

And I find an article.

Michael is dead.

He died in November 2013.

All of those years at college where I had panic attacks whenever I saw anyone who even remotely looked like him.

All those years being terrified that he would show up one day on my doorstep.

All of those counseling sessions trying to work through the poison he left in my mind.

He died of cancer.

Cancer in his lungs and brain.

He didn’t die alone, though.  His father and brother were there with him.

I__________4754916 grieve for him and I am sad.

He was in so much pain.

I hope that he is in heaven.

I hope that he is finally able to accept love.

To know real love.

And to be able to give it to others.

I hope he is finally at peace.

R.I.P.

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So Tired

img_2374I’m not okay. I have depression and anxiety. People from back home ask me (or they ask my siblings/family) how I’m doing all the time. I usually say fine, or I’m hanging in there, or I’ll be writing an update soon. Well now is as good a time as any to write an update.
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My new home is beautiful and I love all the nature and trees and hills. ^_^  And I have a kitten and a boyfriend who are both amazing and whom I love dearly.
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Working in the food industry is definitely not what I want to do long term, and it’s very exhausting for an introvert (even though I love people). My coworkers are great and I (usually) enjoy working with them to serve our guests and keep our restaurant clean. Still super exhausted at the end of every shift.
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I dropped out of college (Moody Bible Institute) because I could no longer handle the culture there. If I stayed one more year I would be an atheist (not a diss at atheists, btw… just not something I’d like to believe right now). Moody was literally killing my faith day by day – both the ideologies and theologies taught, and the ones lived out by the majority of the student body. The racism and sexism didn’t help things. I could no longer go to PCM (Public Christian Ministry) every week and hear how we needed to tie the gospel into every single English lesson. I wanted to help people learn English, I did not want to proselytize them at every turn. I wanted to just love people and give/share what I had with them that they could use. And I wanted to learn from others. With no underlying motivation of converting everyone and saving lost souls.
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Can I just fucking love people?? What is so wrong with that?
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I did not want to hear another lesson on how women must submit, but that complimentarianism was actually equal, just with two distinct roles. Or how you needed to read your Bible every day and if you did, you would have fewer struggles with depression, or sleep issues, or whatever you happened to be dealing with. Just have enough faith. I.E. Try harder, you’re clearly not trying hard enough. Or how everyone was going to hell unless they believed the correct things. Or hear another friend receive negative comments for studying theology. Or see other girls shamed for how they chose to dress or act. Or watch other denominations bashed – especially Catholicism. Or hear all the negative comments about anyone who tried to speak up about racism (because “talking about it is making it worse, it’s not an issue here” – so much white privilege that we were literally drowning in it).
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Or having a guy make inappropriate comments, but when confronted, he said “Oh, I’m sorry you remember that. I would never do that.” And other similar things (such as stalking). Or hearing from a friend that the Dean dismissed his/her report of stalking to her face and asked her questions that pointed the blame solely onto him/her.
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I’m so so tired. Of everything. I’m tired of fighting for people’s rights. It’s exhausting. And I’m not even the one facing most of the judgment/abuse, I can’t imagine how hard it is to live with that day-to-day. The one I face is sexism, which is hard enough (as a woman), but I can’t imagine coupling that with racism or any other -ism. To my friends who do, I’m proud of you. Keep living and being you.:) I support you, even when I’m exhausted and can’t do much more than send you love.
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I’m tired of having to process my entire childhood because of the issues I’m now facing as an adult. And having to re-figure out what I believe about just about everything. I’m tired of gaslighting and speaking down to I received from my former pastor. I’m tired of the secrets, of all the hiding, all the shame. All the judging. I’m tired of abuse – spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, etc.
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I was in two abusive relationships online when I was a minor (both with much older men) and it has greatly impacted me. Yes, I’m seeing a counselor and have in the past, but it still hurts and is going to take more work/healing. It wasn’t a “stumbling block”. It was abuse.
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This is part of why I am so passionate about fighting the mentality that to protect our kids, we must literally sequester them off from society and every danger that is out there. It’s completely ineffective. I was extremely sheltered and yet I still managed to be abused by two men. And find pornography/erotica (I tend to lump them both together under the word pornography).
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I don’t post the articles that I do (on my Facebook wall) without thought. I don’t post them to punish or hurt my parents (or other homeschooling/fundy (i.e. fundamental) parents). I share them because I was extremely hurt by the ideas encompassing those worldviews and I don’t want anyone else to experience what I have. And because every day I have the worry of my siblings over me. I’m not their parents, but they are growing up in the same things I did. I really wish I could make it better for them. But I can’t. And it sucks. I love them a lot and would do almost anything to make life better for them now so they won’t struggle like I am when they are older.
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But I had to move out. I had to get away for my own sanity and healing. And it was really hard. It is really hard. My youngest siblings are not even ten yet. They don’t understand why I left. They also don’t understand why I left their home church over the summer. They would ask me every week if I was going to come to church with them. And be sad when I said no. I can’t go back to that church ever. I’ll post more about it later.
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I was heartbroken when I spoke with my mom over spring break and found out that she did not see any practical purpose to explaining/talking about sexuality with my siblings who are in their teens/pre-teens. At least I had a two minute talk (that explained nothing, but hey, she sort of tried). She doesn’t understand the importance of talking about sex, or boundaries or safe sex (condoms, birth control, etc.). She said that they don’t need to know this information until they are ready to get married (i.e. the only time sex is socially allowed in fundamentalism).
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I’m tired of having to consciously work through my boundaries every single day because my family didn’t have healthy ones. I remember they would try to hug my sister whenever she got angry. I could avoid them because I’d realize when they were about to try, but she usually didn’t. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I do not want to be hugged (or touched) when I’m angry. It does not help calm me down or improve the situation or relationships in question.
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Why weren’t we taught to say no? Why was every little detail decided for us? I could have learned to say no at home. I should have. Saying no is a healthy part of growing up and recognizing what is and isn’t yours.
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My door didn’t have a lock on it. It had a temporary lock for a couple of months, but it was ineffective at best, and destroyed by a neighborhood child when he was playing one day. Children need privacy and space.
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Children need adults who will treat them like people and give them environments to grow and learn in (and yes, sometimes get hurt). They need parents who walk along side of them, not build a wall around them. They are going to face challenges and dangerous situations in life. All of us do/will eventually. Prepare them. Don’t shelter them. Give them a safe place to work through things at home. My home isn’t safe. I never want to go back.
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Living on my own is really really really friggin’ hard. Working for $8 an hour (plus tips) sucks. Paying rent and food leaves me with little to no money left to save. And then the doctor bills for my required visits to get my anti-depressants.  I’m trying to apply for food stamps which I find ironic because my family spoke down of government aid because obviously most people were out to abuse the system. -_- Because clearly asking for help to pay for food bills when you have almost no money is a way to steal people’s money.
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I was taught via shame and fear my whole life. I’ve always loved others, but now I’m trying to learn how to love myself. It’s hard.😦 I want to love myself now. To be healed now. To be able to move on and never have to work through this stuff again. But I can’t.
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I want to know how to read myself well. When people ask me how I’m doing or if I’m okay I want to know how to answer. I don’t want to say “I don’t know” one more time because I know something is wrong but I literally can’t pinpoint it. I was told to not cry when I was spanked. I very quickly learned to hide my emotions deeply due to that and other things said/done. I’m in a lot of pain, but I hide it well. Sometimes I don’t even see it. Other times I’m lying on my bed crying uncontrollably.
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I want to be able to tell my boyfriend that I’m not upset with him or his sexuality. But that I want to feel the way he does when he orgasms. I’ve never felt that. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to feel aroused after the initial feelings of excitement. I know my body is doing what it’s supposed to do (i.e. secreting fluid and stuff), but my brain is completely shut down from strong emotions like pleasure. I’m tired.
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I’m happy when my boyfriend is happy. ^^ In fact, making people happy is a main motivator for me in life. But part of me so deeply longs to feel the same way I know he is feeling. And I don’t know how to. And I’m beginning to think I may never. And maybe I need to be okay with that.
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I’m tired of being sensitive. I want to be able to watch things like Game of Thrones, and Supernatural, and Jurassic Park with my boyfriend and roommate and friends. But I can’t. I shut down. My emotions shut off. And they hit me later. And it hurts so bad. I hurt for others.  I also feel others’ joy which is nice.:)  If I’m honest, I wouldn’t ever give up my sensitivity.  I just sometimes wish that I could do things others who are less sensitive can do.
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I’m tired of being triggered at rape/abuse scenes. Panic attacks suck. Especially since I don’t even know why it’s triggering to me (yet). I think I may be dealing with repressed childhood trauma or abuse, but I don’t know yet.
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There’s so much I don’t know.
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I want to be able to effortlessly just “chill” with a group of my peers. But there is no role in chilling. It’s just being yourself. And everything I did in my childhood involved a role. I’m great with roles. But when those are turned off, I do not know how to act, what to do or what to say. This is something I wish I had learned through normal unscripted interactions in my childhood. But I didn’t have many of those, so I’m socially awkward. I love when I make people laugh (especially with/at something funny I do/say), but I deeply wish I could fit in with my peers (still being my weird self, but minus the obvious lack of social-peer skills).
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When you’re homeschooled, you are told that it’s so amazing that you learn how to interact with adults and children of all ages. And yes, that’s cool. But when you don’t learn to interact with your own age group, I’m not sure that it’s a fair trade off. And when you are forced to be super mature all the time and act like a mini-adult, you lose some of your precious childhood.
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*breathes* Wow, that’s a lot. And there’s so much more I want to say. But I’m tired. And so I will leave this here for you. I love you guys and I hope that we can all find healing from whatever things we are facing each day.
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P.S. I’m also tired of treating others like they are inherently bad and judging myself at every move “am I doing this selfishly?  I couldn’t possibly be doing this with not bad underlying motivation because I’m desperately wicked and sinful.”  Everything had to be a sin.  And it sucked.  It gives you no space to be proud of yourself (being prideful is a sin).  No space to be yourself and just share who you are with others.  I couldn’t see how kind and caring I was towards others, because if I did, then I’d become proud of myself.  And that was bad.

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**I originally wrote this as a Facebook post, but I decided I couldn’t post it because  I’m not yet ready to share a lot of this information with the whole world under my real name.  I really want to.  But I’d have to emotionally deal with the responses I’d get from friends and family, and I don’t have the energy necessary to do that yet.  Also people would want to know more and would argue against many of the things I said.  So that’s why this is written a bit differently than my other blog posts.**

“I Know What It’s Like”

img_2365Those are the words my dad said to me when I tried to explain my depression to him.  “I know what it’s like.  Everyone has down days at some point, and they feel really sad or depressed.”

“No, that’s not depression.  Not everyone knows what it’s like, and not everyone has experienced it.”

He insisted he was right, as he always does, and the discussion ended.  Or rather, I shut myself up and refused to discuss it more.  What’s the point in explaining something to someone who has already made up their mind without bothering to listen and understand?  There is none.

A short heads up: I’ve been on a half dose of my medication (a generic form of Lexapro) for the past week and a half, so this post may be a bit more “down” than my usual ones.  I figured I should write about depression while being in the midst of it so that I could hopefully explain it better.:)  At least, how I experience depression.  It looks different in each person.

Sometimes depression hits me out of the blue with a crying spell.  I just start crying and I don’t know why.  Or sometimes I will start thinking really negative thoughts about my life and myself and then I become so frustrated with myself that I start crying.  I want so badly to not have depression.  To be able to think clearly on my own.  To be myself without need of medication.

The other week, I realized I was in a depressive spiral.  All I was thinking was that I go to work most days, and then I come home, maybe watch TV or scroll Facebook and then once or twice a week hang out with my boyfriend.  And I couldn’t think of anything worth living for.  And I felt hopeless and empty.  Nothing mattered.  I thought maybe I was just using my boyfriend to have some small joy in my life and that I should stop because he deserves better.

Or tonight, a couple hours ago, when I started to feel depressed.  Over and over again I thought about my depression and how it messes up my thinking.  And how awful it makes me.  I was angry at myself.  I was so frustrated that I started crying.  Why?  Because depression tells me that I’m not worth loving.  That no one could ever love someone like me.  That everyone will become as frustrated with me as I am with myself.  I can convince myself that people will leave.  That I should leave them before they can leave me.  It twists my thinking.

Sometimes I recognize when depression tangles up my thinking.  Sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I recognize it, but I can’t stop my thoughts from tumbling in circles.

I’m so thankful to have a boyfriend who is willing to listen and love me even when I’m in the middle of my worst depressive episode or a panic attack.  Who continually reminds me that he loves me even when I don’t love myself. ^_^  And I’m thankful to the doctors who have found different forms of medications to help the chemicals in my brain become more balanced.  I’m also thankful for my friends who are willing to skype or FaceBook message me in the middle of my panic attacks.  They have helped calm me down and have talked me through the worst moments.

For the moment, I have hope.  I know the light will hide sometimes, and I won’t always feel or see it, but it will come again.

 

P.S.  If you know someone struggling with depression, remind them to be gentle with themselves.  And please, please, please remind them of how much you love them.  We don’t want you to have answers to our depression.  We just need you to sit with us and listen and love.  And maybe hold us tight when we break down into tears.  Or hold our wrists when we try to punish ourselves.  Help us love ourselves better, and above all show us love.

You Have Been Loved

img_5758“You have been loved.” Those are the words my grandmother repeated to me as she and grandpa drove me further and further away from my family. Leaving the box. Moving away on my own for the first time.

“Your dad, he has a good heart, he just doesn’t always show it,” she continued. She spent the next half hour giving examples from his childhood to prove it. Later, she shared stories of my early childhood. When I was born (at home), I had Jaundice. At the time, it was believed to be quite dangerous to newborns and the doctor recommended that they take me to the hospital. But my parents chose to keep me at home and use natural remedies (such as sunlight). I was fine, and eventually it went away. Grandma said, “Your parents were brave to go against the recommendation of the pediatrician. That took a lot of guts. They really care about you.”

I remember.

I remember the time my dad found out I was buying a lamp for my dorm room. He gave me a small screwdriver because he thought I might need one and wanted me to have one for future use as well.

I remember the Christmas when the new Les Miserables came out for the first time. My grandparents took us to see it and I loved it so much that I begged my parents to let me go again. My dad took me to see it again the next week.

But I also remember when my dad told me he was taking me out for a surprise. And we drove up to the shot place and I got a shot. That was the day I stopped trusting him. I was eight. He went and bought me colorful cardstock paper afterwards, as a reward.

I remember the time I was sitting in the back of our mini-van as we pulled into the garage. Mom and Dad were in the front seats. Dad made a comment about me being old enough to need deodorant and that I smelled bad. I was embarrassed as I slid open the car door and walked into the house.

I remember the first time I told mom I liked a boy. I was eleven. She told me, on that night standing on the bottom of the stairway by the coat closet, that I was too young to like boys. I never talked to her about boys again.

I remember sitting in the hard wooden pew next to our visiting friend who was an unbeliever. He innocently passed me the communion plate and I, unthinkingly, took a piece of bread. I distinctly remember the intense guilt, shame, and embarrassment that was heaped upon me when dad realized what had happened. And hanging my head as I climbed into our van after church. I was probably six or seven at the time.

I remember hearing my little sister crying after I had been put in bed. I must’ve been two or three at the time. I got out of bed and went to go see why she was crying and to comfort her. Dad found me out of bed and spanked me without asking me why I had gotten out of bed. I broke the rule about getting out of bed at night, and it didn’t matter that I had gotten out to take care of my sister.

I remember being expected to never forget to do things. Forgetting was a sign of rebellion or disobedience (or both). I forgot things a lot, like cleaning out my pet crab’s cage or filling his water dish. But I wasn’t ignoring those things because of laziness; I honestly did not remember to do them.

I remember being held in the middle of the swimming pool by the swimming instructor as they slowly lowered the floor of the pool to a great depth.  I could not touch the floor.  I was terrified of going underwater.  And I was forced to.  The lady counted down from three and then let go of me in the middle of the pool.  Over and over again.

I remember you trying to protect me.  But from the wrong person.  You found out I was emailing a guy online every day and had been doing so for months.  You did not believe me when I said it was a friendship only – not a relationship.  So you insisted I cut it back to once a week and write a terribly awkward note about how I was not interested in a relationship.  You protected me from someone who never harmed me, but you were never there to protect me from the real bad guys who came later.

I remember and it hurts.  I remember and I cry.  Tears of sadness.  Tears of lost innocence.  Tears of hurt.  Tears of a child.  Tears of broken relationships.

I have been loved.  But I have never felt that love.  I am still a child inside; curled up,  crying, and yearning for love, acceptance, and protection.  Wanting to be valued.  Wanting to feel love.

I know you love me, or at least, my brain tells me that you do.  But my heart can’t feel it.  And it has been wounded so many times that I’m not sure it will ever open for you again.  I’m not sure I will ever trust you again.  Even if you tell me ‘I love you’ a million times over.  Even if you say you are ready to listen.  Please give me time.  And hear me when I say, from a very sad and broken place, that I want to trust you.  But I can’t right now.  And if I never do, will you try to love me anyway?

Porcelain Doll

SilkDress
Source: TheDollStudio.com. Image links to source.

I feel like a doll.  A doll with glass eyes.  A doll made of a porcelain head, arms, and legs.  Fragile, hollow, empty, lifeless.  I look out on the world and see nothing. My eyes have lost their sparkle.  I feel nothing.  I see nothing.  I am a porcelain doll.

I am depressed.  I didn’t realize it at first because it snuck in without knocking.  But now I see it.  This is *one of the ways I feel when I’m depressed.

There are some good friends here at school who would (and do) support me.  But most of the time I do not even know how to ask for the help I need, or even what to ask for.  I grew up in a narcissistic family, and as a result, I struggle to care for myself or recognize my own healthy needs and wants.  I am very good at helping those around me and caring for others, but self-care is a whole other world.

I want to get help.  I want to heal my wounds and be able to care for myself when I’m depressed.  I’m grieving the loss of my childhood.  I’m crying for my younger self who should have been nurtured and taught how to care for herself, but wasn’t.  But mostly, I am just laying on my bed feeling emotionless – staring at a computer screen covered in mindless games and TV shows.  Because I don’t feel anything on days like this.  Some days, getting out of bed and eating meals is all I can manage.

Giving myself (and others) grace is another gift I wish I had been given earlier in life.  And love.  Accepting love is really really hard for me.  My family fucked me over (excuse the language).  And they did it without even realizing it, and with the best intentions and all the love they knew how to give.  But it still messed me up.  Even with good intentions, they still hurt me deeply.

This is a tiny piece of the iceberg of issues I am trying to work through in my personal life right now.  It’s been rough.  It’s even harder while being depressed.  But it’s worth it.  Someday I will no longer be a porcelain doll.  I will be a warrior queen who is able to care not only herself, but also able to care for, stands up for and protect others.

After thought: There was a moment today when I was able to feel something.  As I stepped out of the elevator onto my dorm floor, I was immediately hit by the strong smell of chai.  It smelled wonderful and made me feel happy and energized for a few minutes.  It was marvelous.

* Depression looks and acts differently on different days, with different medications, and for different people.  This description is not meant to in any way envelope the entire spectrum of depression.  My own depression doesn’t always manifest itself this way either.