PTSD: Please Don’t Call Me Honey

There have been traumatic events over the course of our history.  The PTSD that Veterans experience has started to come to the forefront of our awareness.  My son has a friend, who experienced such severe PTSD, that we worried for his safety.  We all know that the suicide rate is high for Veterans with PTSD.  What is it specifically and why am I writing about it?

PTSD.va.gov defines the symptoms as:

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.
There are four types of symptoms of PTSD (en Español), but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.
Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

Now, Luanna why are you writing about PTSD? Are you a veteran?  No, I’m not, but read through the symptoms.  Do you recognize any of them? in yourself? In a friend?  I worked with “At-risk” students for years.  They became my specialty; I could see the best in them, even the days when it was challenging and even when they could never see it in themselves.  Many of the students displayed the symptoms. While most of us have not fought on foreign lands; many people display PTSD.

My abuser called me honey.  To this day, if a male calls me honey, I cringe inside and feel anxious… all these years later.  I dated someone who would call me honey, and I had to close my eyes, breathe, and say to myself, “This is not that person.”  It almost became a mantra, I used to get through a snuggle, for Pete’s sake….. “This is not that person, this is not that person, this is not that person……………

There have been days, when I feel this butterfly in my chest, one, than more…. I want to drive fast, be reckless… I have..  PTSD can be real.  Identify it and get help for it.

Peace…..

Would you like Catharsis?

 

You know from reading earlier blogs, that I obviously love the idea of catharsis.  I’ve not only seen it work in others, but love the technique to clean out my own darkness.  I was doing some research into Catharsis and came across several articles that said the Catharsis, before it was identified as way to clear the mind through writing, painting, drawing, photography etc., was considered conceptual.  The concept was of light being a purifier.  What a great concept!  Think of how the sun bring up our mood and light brightens a room; it makes sense that the concept of light opening up our thoughts and soul would be identified as catharsis.

What do you do for catharsis?  Writing is so cathartic; it helps us cleanse our minds, sharpen our focus, and clears the way for better things, so this is what I’m thinking:

Would you like to guest blog? You can be totally anonymous. The only requirements would be: that you trust me, (lol. not too much to ask?), I need to know who the author is as I can’t publish something on my blog that I’m not responsible for, that you only tell your own story, we can only share what we know for sure, that your writing is not sexually explicit.

If you want to publish under your name, I would certainly love to give you the credit, other than Anonymous 1, Anonymous 2, etc.  🙂  You could write a story, a poem, a song… This is your shot, to say what you need to say.  My e-mail is luanna77@hotmail.com, so if you are interested, e-mail me that you are interested or your “catharsis.”  If I don’t respond back within a couple of days, e-mail me again.  I don’t want you to get lost in my junk file!

I don’t have clue what to expect, but want you to have the chance to let in the light.  Be brave!

Peace…..

I’m the Winner

A family member, who had also been sexually abused said to me once, “Why are you doing ok and I’m not?”  I said to her, “I refuse to let him win.”  It seems like a flippant remark for me to make; I understand that, but that’s my answer. I don’t want to, I refuse to be beat.  Does that mean i always come in first, second or third?  No it sure doesn’t, but it means that’s what I’m shooting for.  You know I’m talking metaphorically..  I get beat many times, I’ve been married three times….divorce certainly isn’t any form of winning.  🙂  I have moments when I call my sister, or a daughter, or a son and talk through the latest crack in my heart.  I’m still in training maybe?

I can’t say that I don’t think about it much, because writing the blog, talking to other survivors, and reading the news keeps it on my mind almost every day.  My daughter said, “You know you can stop writing your blog any time you want?”  I know I can, it would be easier, than I could almost be one of those people who puts it safely away, and never thinks about it again.  But, for now, writing about surviving is part of my purpose; It’s how I win.  Maybe someday…….

I don’t know why some people survive easier than others; I just don’t know.  I spend a lot of time thinking about it.  I look at all survivors of abuse, racism, etc. and wonder how we can all move past it.  How do we forgive and move on?  There is so much hate in the world right now; maybe it’s always been there and social media exaggerates and abuses it.  I look at bullies and wonder, “What happened to you?”  I read horrible, spiteful things on Facebook and wonder the same thing.  This sense of helplessness and hopelessness that permeates our culture, with no relief in sight.  People who have been victimized, who just can’t seem to move away from being “the victim.”  I wonder how to help them, and have tried to help others almost until my own survival was compromised.

Why am I doing OK?, because I refuse to let him win.  I refuse….no one makes me feel this way…I’m in control of my feelings and I refuse.  I give you the right of refusal too.. 🙂 Take it and refuse to let him/her/them win.  Train to be a winner!!

Peace…

We Can Only Tell Our Stories

We all know stories; stories passed down through our families, fables of our cultures, gossip about the neighbor.  How do we know when we can share a story; have a teaching moment, use someone as an example either negative or positive?  This is the deal, unless it’s our story, we have to be very careful.  I like the “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.”  I am pretty open with you about my story, but I don’t tell all.  Maybe I will someday, but that will be my choice…it’s my story.

A friend called me a couple of weeks ago and said, “I want to tell you a story,”. She began to share some family history and after about thirty minutes of discussion, she said “I think I know someone who may have been abused.  How do I get them to tell me?”  Well that’s the crux, you can’t get anyone to tell you anything. They need to be in the right place to trust and to share, and you might not be the person they tell their story too for any number of reasons.

Many people have the ability to bury their abuse and the pain of pulling it out might be too much for them.  We have to respect that.  Survivors are doing just that, surviving and their process is not ours to judge.  I’ve noticed that surviving is like an addiction in a way.  If you stay away from the subject, you’re good, even though it might be lurking in the background, but I can imagine that for some, dipping your toe in the past might cause you to jump in, unable to swim, only gulping water.  Many victims, who haven’t achieved survivor mode, feel guilty and ashamed, because they’ve been told that they are guilty and shameful.  Some have told their story and weren’t believed, or worse yet shunned for their openness.  Many have buried themselves in addiction of drugs, alcohol, food, or abusive behaviors leveled at themselves or even become abusers themselves.  So many stories buried behind covers, that for some reason or another can’t be opened.  It’s so sad.

“What can I do?” was her next question.  What a wonderful person, to ask “what can I do?”  You can set an example of not telling other’s stories.  Be a safe place, listen and be trustworthy.  It’s not enough to say your trustworthy, BE trustworthy.  Have you ever heard that saying that if someone has to tell you they are something, they probably aren’t?  We set the examples; we screw up, but we have to try hard to set the example.  I have had many people tell me their stories, after I have shared mine, or said I was writing this blog.  They feel that if I can trust them, they can trust me back.  I don’t forget their stories and only share them generically.

We we all need to tell our stories when we are ready, and for some people that may be never, but be ready……the person they choose to share it with, could be you.  It’s an honor to be that person.

Peace..

If Not Us, If Not You, Then Who?

Ayn Rand has long been a favorite author of mine.  Today, when I was trying to calm myself enough, to not have every word that I write, be a word of anger.  I need to tell you what I am thinking, calmly and her quote helps me to be successful with that objective.  When I read in the paper, see on the news, the stories of more and more people being charged/convicted of sexual assault, It’s hard not to be frustrated.  Please read what I’m thinking today; it’s so important to someone, maybe even someone you love.

When our sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers find the courage to come forward, they must be believed.  If they come to you, to me, to their teacher, grandmother, mother, father….they must be believed.  I talked to a friend the other day, who had just found out about someone that was being convicted of a sexual crime.  He said to me, “I just am struggling to believe it.”  We all struggle to believe, that’s how they get away with it.  Children go to adults and confide in them and adults can’t believe..  How do you take what you know and love about anyone and balance it with a deprivation that shakes your soul?  How do you come to terms?  How do you pick sides?  You pick the children…. If not us, not you, then who?

Within the last year, I had someone tell me, that my abuser had told their mother what had happened to me.  This person wondered if it was really that bad…  The thought sickens me that 48 years later, the child in me is still not believed.  I never told anyone, aside from a classmate when I was little,  until I was 18, when I told my children’s father.  I told no one for another 12 years.  I thought about it; I looked around my small world and wondered who I could trust?  Who?  I had people that loved me, but to believe something so bazaar, so unnatural, so sick….  I told no one, not the pastor that I admired, not my mother, not my favorite teacher and not even my grandmother..  I never had the courage to tell, so never had to sit in a courtroom, talk to a judge, or an opposing attorney… I can’t imagine that much courage in a child..  that much courage in the parents of that child.

Abuse of children is not racist, is not sexist, doesn’t adhere to Christian or non-Christian lines.  Abuse of children opens it’s arms wide and accepts anyone and everyone; it is like the anti-Christ of the utopia we would like the world to be.

Believe the children; it’s our job to protect them; if not us, not you, then who?

Peace…

 

Feminism? or Survivalist…

Helen Reddy’s song was released in 1971..  I was 12 and have been singing ever since.  I didn’t always understand every nuance of what it meant, but I loved the rhythm and it felt like a powerful song for a woman even at 12.

It’s sometimes easy for me to write personal things about myself; I have few secrets, although every woman needs a couple…  What I do struggle with, is writing and including anyone else in my stories.  The responsibility to write about any one else, in a way, that totally depicts my thoughts can be overwhelming.  I have spent a couple of sleepless nights, thinking how I could tell this story..

I tend to be strong willed, there was a period of my life where I had my control taken away from me, then I over compensated by seeking more and more control (another blog 🙂   My parents would tell stories of me jumping off the barn, of arguing so much my Dad was sure I should be a lawyer, of wanting things to be black and white.  I didn’t try out for anything in high school, unless I felt like I could win, and if I thought I would lose, I wouldn’t try. My mom always encouraged me to do things, that she felt like she had missed out on, but she had little experience to share with me.  She was a woman of her generation, as I am a woman of mine, and even Mom sometimes thought I was too independent.

One dictionary definition of independent:Not relying on others for support, care, or funds; self-supporting.

Relying on others; whoa that is a scary thought, one even now I don’t entertain very seriously.  Years of training to not rely on people, because of disappointments, that I bear part of the responsibility for, have taught me to rely on myself and to encourage others to rely on themselves.  Stop blaming everyone else, take responsibility, flip the switch.   Ok, so I’m stalling..  🙂

Mom and I were standing in the kitchen, of the old farmhouse; she was doing dishes and I was standing 12 feet away.  We were talking about “what had happened to me.”  “Mom, did you know?”  She turned and looked at me and said, “No, I didn’t, but even if I would have, what could I have done?”  My heart broke in a million pieces.

It didn’t break just for me; but it broke for Mom too.  She thought she was powerless; it wasn’t that she didn’t love me, because she loved her children, was loyal and steadfast.  She was raised in a time, when few woman, stood their ground, especially in rural North Dakota.  If any woman was to divorce?  You were a hussy!  Create a scene? You were crazy! Deal with your own trauma? Unheard of!  Go to the police?  Mom was raised by strong Baptist parents, you worked hard to raise your family, buried your head and survived.  She survived, but I choose to survive in a different way.  The shame is not mine, it is not yours.  We survive.. we thrive.. “to make a difference, in the life of one child”, regardless of that child’s age.  🙂

I am teased about how can I be a Conservative Feminist;  I laugh because I am who I am, a complicated Christian, believer in the separation of Church and State, fiscal conservative, believer of individual state’s rights, feminist.  Be who you are.  Whatever brought you to this place, made you who you are and it’s a beautiful thing.

Hugs to my survivor friends and family.  I am so proud of you.  We are going to make the changes..

Peace

Lakota, German, Muslim-our pain is the same.

You are here, reading my blog.  I hope you are able to open some conversations, because of it!  Whether you are a survivor of any kind of abuse, or someone who cares about us; welcome and thank you for being here.  Let’s make it better for our sons, daughters, neighbors children, grandchildren; let’s talk…..

I was searching for articles on forgiveness, insight I could share with you and I found this Native American Legend.  It is incredibly powerful and describes this young woman’s feelings of guilt and how she comes to forgiveness.  I found the legend on several sites, so feel comfortable sharing it with you.

We have shared stories.  Your story and my story may be very different, yet they are the same.  The emotions and even consequences to everyone are the same.  I forget that sometimes, so I have to remind myself..

I hope relating to Black Corn helps your journey as you find empathy with hers.

BLACK CORN
A Lakota Legend
There once was a woman called Black Corn. She lived in a village surrounded by incredible beauty. There was beauty in the forest, in the plains, in the sky above and the earth below. Black Corn was very tall, taller than all of the other women of her village, indeed, taller than most of the men as well. Strong of limb she was and fair to see. Yet deep within were hidden deeper waters, roiling with discontent and….. Well, no one really knew what else, not even she.

Black Corn was very unhappy, she had so much love to give, yet could not seem to find the one to give it to. All she wanted to do is love someone and have someone love her. She loved her People dearly and did all she could for them, even to the point of sacrificing her own wants to help her People.

Many Gifts she had been given by Wakan Tanka, but could not seem to find them when she needed them the most. She was taunted by many for things she could not understand, she began believing, at first resistantly, then willingly that the lies and the actions were deserved. When she would gaze upon her image in the still waters of the pond, she would think “you are too direct, too tall, too strong, too much… well, too much everything! You have too much passion, too much love, too much… well, too much everything, and no one wants what you have to give!”

Yet the love she held inside for all the People was full to bursting within her breast and all she wanted was someone who would accept her love. All she wanted was for the People to accept her love and what she could give them. Down and down she went with no one to love, no People who wanted her love, or so she thought.

Then, one day, after a particularly difficult incident, she awakened as if from a dream and thought to herself “Why is it this way? What did I do that was so awful that I should be treated in this manner?” Deep inside herself she looked for an answer to these questions. Deeply, beyond all of the hurt, all of the pain that had been put upon her, behind the men who had used her without her consent, and eventually, as her self-respect dwindled, with her consent. So many judgments had been passed on her but none so harsh as what she had passed upon herself.

The deeper she looked, the uglier it became, and the faster the anger rose until it was full-blown rage. White hot the rage burned and coursed through her body. Blindingly it raged, but this too was another illusion. Yes, the rage was a deception, a shield to protect her from what laid beneath.

Finally she could hide no longer behind the rage and the sorrow that she had desperately tried to hide over the years. It came at her like a tidal wave and she stood defenseless in its path. She no longer had the strength to fight; nothing left to stem the flood, so she stood helpless in its path, no shield to protect her any longer.

Out she ran into the forest, hearing the tiny voice inside screaming in agony, dying, dying, dying, screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOoooooooo… and she just knew that all she had ever thought that she was slowly dying a painful death. Finally, she could help herself no more and cried out in anguish, clutching at the pain in her breast, feeling herself slipping away. She cried out, in full voice, which held all of the pain and agony, begging, at her most pitiful for Wakan Tanka to take her away from this pain.

“Please, please Wakan Tanka, Tunkasila, I can bear this life, this pain, no more, it is too much, Please, please, take me home, please let me have peace!” And when she had finished crying out these words and prayers, and all of the ugliness that was inside her had been given voice, the sound so awful to hear that not even the animals or birds made a sound out of respect for her pain, she lay herself down on the damp sweet smelling forest floor. Her soul ripped open and flayed a bloody mess before her and before the Creator, she finally saw the truth.

It began when she was 7 summers old; she would go into the forest to play. One day a strange man came upon her and began to speak with her. His words were intriguing and he spoke of grown-up things that she liked to hear about. Eventually this stranger seduced her as a child, and as a child, not knowing any better, had allowed it. Many years would pass before Black Corn realized what had been done to her, and when she did realize, she issued a judgment so severe upon herself that she began to believe that she was unworthy of love. She lost all respect for herself and, indeed, this is what she projected unknowingly to everyone she came into contact with. The voices of the others that would taunt her were really reflections of her own voice within that she could not, until now, listen to.

In that moment of her defeat, laying on the forest floor, she began to see with clarity what was that made the People treat her as they were, and with that knowing, she began to cry, great heart wrenching cries that tore at the very fabric of her soul and thus began the cleansing process from within. She found that while she had forgiven that strange man his trespass against her, she had never forgiven herself for her part in it, she had never taken responsibility for it either, preferring to live in a fantasy in her mind that she had been the victim, all the while feeling the guilt of the participant. There had been one other who had used her in this fashion, a relative, who did not know of the first stranger. But by then, the damage to her soul had been done and, while not realizing why it was so, she allowed herself to be degraded even more by this second man.

After that, there was no room for self-respect or self love, feeling as she did that she was unworthy for the things she had done.

After the sobbing had subsided, Black Corn began to feel differently, having accepted everything that was ugly inside of her, she began to heal. Finally, after all of these years. It took a long time, but finally she was able to forgive herself as well as forgive those who took her unfairly and in bad faith, took her innocence and made something ugly out of it, all the while accepting her own responsibility in it as well. Finally she was able to forgive herself. With that forgiving, there was now room for love; all of the love she wanted to give the People was the love that she had been denying herself. Once she could learn to love herself and accept herself, she could also love the People much more than she ever thought possible, and the People rejoiced!

You see, they had always loved Black Corn, but because she did not love herself, she could not see this, she would not ever have seen it if she had not asked herself “why am I being treated this way”. The answer was within her all the time…. This was Wakan Tanka’s answer to her prayers; this was his gift to her.

Peace.