Saturday, April 15, 2017
I have a lovely trans friend who posts all kinds of things on Facebook and she posted this poignant, disturbing story about a trans guy on a subway wishing to be invisible. I know that place well. Standing out for trans or with a visible diverseability both have hazards that people who can pass for normal may not realize exist.
My confidence belies a past that started in grade school. My white hair and poor eyesight lead to cruel children and judgmental teachers giving me grief. Certainly not all, but the ones who were bad, or even indifferent, made an already troubled childhood fraught with confusion.
One kid constantly kicked me during recess. When I told the teacher, she didn't care. Eventually she isolated me within her classroom, making me sit on the other side of the room alone. Banished to Siberia.
A few years later, another kid started throwing things at me. I happened to catch a basketball before it hit my face and I threw it back. The teacher only saw MY action and I got in trouble.
Later in high school, some guys started running along side my bicycle and taunting me. I pedaled faster and tried to ignore the "my friend really likes you, he wants to go out with you," but the humiliation left a mark on my soul. Undatable, unfuckable, worthless messages rang in my head.
My own mother called me ugly. She thought she was teasing and never got how deeply she stabbed into my soul. So I learned to put up my shields and try and brave the storms.
A memory of riding in the car with my oldest sister sparked a desire to be "just like everyone else." We drove past this house painted up with rainbow stripes and blue skies with puffy clouds. My sister said something about how gross that house was. This broke my little heart as I loved that whimsical display of joy.
I realized then, that it's safer to not stand out. Beauty doesn't save you from bullies.
I want to live in a world where rainbow houses and rainbow people are beloved. I want to find it, the rainbow connection. I want to find them, the lovers and the dreamers. I want to be part of them.
Kind comments welcome.
Monday, September 26, 2016
As part of the series on Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), physical abuse seems to be a common complaint. I would say that the severity can go on a scale from spanking to child murder. It seems that most abusers repeat patterns they learned from their own childhood or they have a mental illness driving their hurtful actions. Hurt people hurt people, as they say in recovery.
Here is my ACE:2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? Most definitely yes.
Here is my resilience:14. I believed that life is what you make it.
The primary physical abusers in my life were both women. The most severe trauma happened at the hands of a guardian my sister and I lived with for about 18 months. I'm left with lasting emotional scars and Post Traumatic Stress because of this person tasked with taking care of me.
Skip this part if you cannot handle knowing what my guardian did to a 6 and 7 year old kid. I'll leave a marker to jump to.
I'll just list what I remember:
Beating with Hot Wheel race tracks
Hitting while eating and being force fed
Random slapping and punching
Picked up and thrown into a sink, head first.
Required to stand still after a beating (passing out I cut open my chin once on a drawer knob and woke up in a puddle of blood)
Though these are emotionally abusive actions, they highlighted the climate of fear that I lived inside:
Intentional destruction of my belongings.
Policing bathroom habits in public
Encouraged abuse of other children
Policing play with abuse as a consequence to not following her random weird rules
Calling me all kinds of names, but the one that I remember most is "Unmanageable child."
My mother did these things to me:
Pulled me around the house by the hair
Smacked me with the hair brush until I refused to let her brush my hair
Refused medical care when I got injured playing outside (I hope that if any of these had been life threatening, she would have sought treatment, but I don't know for sure.)
There are far too many emotional abuses to list. Suffice to say that my mother didn't want me around.
Though both my mother and the guardian specifically targeted me, for some reason I didn't believe it was all about me. My daddy helped by before I lived with the guardian, he showed me lots of love. Mom was there, but I didn't bond to her. I did bond to my oldest sister. She was as good to me as she was capable of. I have no memory of her abusing me physically.
I used things like my friend's home life and the Brady Bunch as examples. They taught me that people can be reasonable with each other. Places where parents didn't yell or hit each other or drank to excess showed me a whole new way of life.
I tried to have conversations with my sisters and even my mother about the abuse. I didn't know at the time that my mother at least couldn't help me heal. As I grew up and got out into the world, I found counseling and support that took only a few consistent meetings to set some major things straight.
I even bought a book on parenting myself, and others on having a good relationship with your spouse. Unfortunately, I picked a first spouse that didn't respond to my efforts.
I decided from as far back as I can remember, no one will ever hit me again. As I grew, I added to my list of "no one will ever..." and even added a few "must have" items to my list.
I made my life and continue to make things better with learning and exploring about myself. Though I cry easily and often, it's from awareness more than grief. I don't just BELIEVE life is what you make it, I MAKE IT SO!
Kind comments encouraged.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
I wish I could speak to the survivor and let her know there's hope and recovery. Her letter before the judge told of how she felt irrevocably broken. I know that feeling. I also know that one can find a path where it's just a small part of the feelings associated with surviving such a tragic event.
This upsets me so because I survived a year of my stepfather using my tiny little seven year old body for his own twisted actions. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that my mom told me that she thought of him as an "animal" and she didn't want us girls around this guy. She denied it when I told her after they separated though. That's not unusual for he, as some jokingly say, my mom lived in Egypt.(in de nile)
I have only flashes of memory of what was done to me, so there are some that have questioned my memories. I feel sorry for the callous folks who might think that's a reason to discount such stories. For the longest time I didn't call what happened rape, because I heard rape was a violent crime. I realize now that in can be an act of dominance.
On a child of seven, nothing about it could ever be called consensual. That confused me also, because what I do remember, did involve a physical sensation of pleasure. More like a sense of relief than enjoyment. Like having a good bowel movement or peeing when you really have to go.
Before I lived with my mother and her husband, I lived with a woman who beat me so severely that I have post traumatic stress. My little psyche wanted a caring adult to be kind to me. He used my neediness to use me to satisfy is disturbed urges.
At 12, I started my road to recovery after seeing a woman on a talk show talk about how she drank to cover up her pain from being molested. I decided then and there that I would tell people what happened to me and seek help. This didn't set well with my family.
My sister told me she was molested by my mom's brother and I should just get over it. Mom told me that I should stop dwelling on the past. I didn't want to be a drunk, I saw that had such a terrible outcome on my mother.
Feeling sad and depressed, i was recounting my story to some friends online. I quoted the dramatic statistic of 1 in 4 girls surviving childhood sexual abuse. This guy that I regarded a dear friend denied that number. He told me if it's that high, it is just part of life and I needed to get over it. It made me cry for a couple of days that I had to end a friendship over such denial.
As recently as the last year, I read that my state is devoting $60 million to testing the rape kit backlog. I remember this being a problem 30 years ago, but I'm shocked and dismayed that it's still a problem.
Today I read the story of a woman who survived abduction and rape and the police would not do anything because she had some life struggles of her own. The officers even treated her with disdain and contempt even going so far as to deny anything had happened to her.
Denial helps no one.
One of my counselors told me a story of a client's mother who would get drunk and literally hand over her child to the man who molested her. Though technically, my mother didn't do that, she did know he was "an animal." Instead of getting rid of said animal, she pushed me out and made me go live with my older sister.
Later in life mom told me a story that she didn't blame me for their divorce. She said she caught him in bed with a man. I dunno who had the higher order of sickness, him or her.
Our society needs to stop ignoring rapists. We can start by expecting and if us survivors have to do it ourselves, demanding the testing of all rape kits collected, then using the DNA results to match against the sex offender databases.
We need to stop revictimizing survivors by blaming them and forgiving rapists. Dressing provocatively or being intoxicated does not give anyone permission to commit a crime. If that were the case, anyone convicted of driving under the influence should be released.
I'm not asking anyone who survived to use their name in public, but why should there be ANY shame on the part of the survivor? We don't withhold the survivor of a mugging or attempted murder's name.
How about we teach boys and young men about consent? Lets start with letting them know that not everyone wants their attention and that's okay. Waving to a freind is just as fun as hugging them.
END RAPE CULTURE NOW!
Kind comments encouraged.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
I had a bag full of miscellaneous shirts that I'd bought at thrift stores and a few left over gray shirts from our business and because I'm a creative type, I chose to overlook a few flaws like random stains on these clothes. So I tucked them away in the hopes of figuring out how to make them pretty wearable items.
I especially like shirts with unusual collars. I had two from my grab bag, both with a coppery theme. One the main color blazed a brilliant azure or turquoise and the other sported a mainly green hue with copper, silver and gold sequins.
The green one I choose to color block to not detract from the pretty collar. Murry had the idea of using small bungee cords and that worked so well, I'll for sure use those in the future.
Next time I'll buy another kit and then I can use the old bottles to hold the mixed colors. I saved nearly everything. I'll also buy or find some really thick bands for better ties.
I experimented with clothes pins and maybe I'll use some clamps or something like that next time. I also have to remember to use gloves when rinsing the dye. I had blue fingers for a couple of days.
My boss told me that there's a wash that will make the dye keep it's deep rich colors and I think I will wait overnight before rinsing the dyes.
I might order the dye online and get extra yellow. I ran out of that pretty fast. My boss also showed me a neat effect using ice to make a neat mottled look.
As always with my blog, kind comments welcome! What are your favorite tie dye tricks and tips? I had loads of fun.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
While watching an episode of Undercover Boss, I saw two hard working people talk about being disowned by their family. One for being gay, one for being a trans woman. I wanted to just hug them and invite them to my house for dinner. I turned to my husband and said we should adopt "kids" disowned for such a ridiculous reason. Thus was "born" the Somebody to Love project.
While no one "disowned" me, I definitely felt abandoned virtually from day one. Mom left me with sister who left me to get married and then my parents divorced and mom left me again to daddy. Then daddy got talked into leaving me to a cruel abusive babysitter, then back to mom, then back to sister, then mom. I feel like a ping pong ball and I'm not even nine years old yet!
When I finally left my family chaos and started adulting in my own world, my sister who took care of me when I was little, sent all these judgmental messages. She didn't approve of my man friend so she wouldn't call me at his house. *I* was supposed to call her.
Oh my gosh, I just realized why I called my other sister all the time. I was following the pattern THAT sister insisted upon. Wow. I hadn't thought of that. Anyway, my mom and oldest sister wanted to hear from me not because they wanted me to have contact and be safe. They just had an idea of what they were SUPPOSED to do. How they were SUPPOSED to act.
In my adult life, strangers often treated me with much more consistent kindness than anyone biologically related to me. Well, my dad loved me. I had that. Only he had his own troubles and flaked entirely too much.
So for lots of reasons, that include not wanting to pass along flawed genetics and flawed experiences, I chose not to have kids. Now that I'm "gramma " age, I feel the urge to have people in my life. Someone to call on their birthday, someone to bake turkey for on thanksgiving and someone to have as a kind sibling to laugh with and share that camaraderie that I've heard other families have.
So I started a group. Come check us out: Somebody to Love
Kind comments encouraged.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Though I must say I have a little bit of a checkered past with confidence. In those down times of so blue I have contemplated suicide, it's a kind of weird lack of courage that kind of keeps me from going ahead. I've never really wanted to hurt myself on purpose. I just want a painful existence to stop being painful. I guess you could see there's a bit of a personality war that sometimes goes on inside my head.
The determined factions want control, but the uncertain and fearful people have the reigns. That's when I get out the pad and paper and write a Pro/Con list. Each part of me gets a turn to put down the things they want to do and what they want to avoid. Everything gets on the list. At the end of the exercise, all parties have a really clear idea where the majority wants to go.
Perhaps a dozen Cons may only equal one Pro. Like feeling a little embarrassed wouldn't equal potential acclaim of speaking in public. Just like in negotiating among family members, I try and get every aspect as much as I can. That sense of wanting to get rid of pain, has a lot of merit. Pain serves as a temprorary lesson, if it's still happening that needs to change.
Even my hurt parts can have confidence that they will get the solution they need. Even if that solution is to wallow in self pity for a while or be angry for as long as is needed.
Sometimes my insides fall into confusion and talks break down. Then it's time to employ the "fake it til you make it" strategies. In her amazing TED talk, Amy Cuddy outlined that we can "power pose" our way to confident. Maybe it only works as a distract ourselves from focusing on the "ahhhh this is scary!" going on inside our heads. In this case, why is less important than try. Not to defy the wisdom of Yoda, but in this instance he's a bit misinformed.
Fake confidence can be bravado or just training wheels. You get to decide.
As always, kind comments encouraged.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
I know they don't mean to bully, they're just uncomfortable with the topic. I've found that life story becomes history on the continued telling. Both the people who are hearing and my own heart finds some major lessons in the accounting. They say in recovery, "the only way out is through."
Surviving abuse has its own set of problems. It is in fact depressing. We have a 12 times risk for committing suicide. Though I am not sure that's entirely a depressive thing as much as a desire for the pain to stop. A lot of us don't realize there are ways to think out of emotional pain. By no means would that ever be called EASY. It's rough painful work.
I often came from therapy wiping away tears. Much of the trauma from my painful past had scabbed over and knitted into large knots of scar tissue. Taking proper medical care of a wound years after that condition causes lots of pain and its own set of traumas.
Us humans cry for lots of reasons. Grief and happiness both produce tears. And people will ask you to stop crying. Though not on this blog.
The joy of therapy or conversations about a painful childhood, comes from the making it be a concrete reality to face. An infected scar needs help to heal. Part of that comes from a simple awareness. "Oh, you have a scar."
I do a number of things when I talk about my past. First, I uncover the wound and see what is going on under the scar. That airing out feels less painful each time. Second, I give other people permission to see their own pain and if they wish, tell their story. In addition, I give people a chance to show their caring side.
One thing abusive people do is confuse their victims. They hurt you and then blame you for the pain. They often use guilt as a follow on weapon. Even going to far as to deny that any harm was caused.
I want to dance in the sunshine of my beautiful soul. I can't do that if it's clouded by denial. How can you help? Let me know you see me and my scar. Let me know that a cloud passing by moves off eventually.
You can be part of the healing. Make a choice to listen for a few minutes. It'll mean a lot to those you know.
Kind comments welcome.