Archive for the ‘trust’ Category

I finally learned how to be a big sister. My brother came to visit me for three weeks, I have not seen my brother or sister in six months. When I heard he was coming, I was at once excited and doubtful. I’ve never been a proper big sister, never was able to be any sort of good example. Actually, the only good example I was able to give was how to stay on the right track so as to not totally fuck up your life.

When I first heard my brother was coming, I had this momentary insane worry over how should I act around him – like the me he knew, or the me that exists now? Problem was, I don’t really know how to act like a suicidally depressed whore, since I’m not that person anymore. I finally decided to simply go with the flow.

At the airport, I wondered to myself if maybe I shouldn’t smile so much. Maybe I shouldn’t act so excited. And while I waited at the arrival gate, I was overcome and wanted to cry, because this felt like a yet another second change for me. He did a double take when he saw me, jumping up and down and smiling. I don’t think my brother has ever seen me genuinely happy.

I forgot my ridiculous concerns as soon as I saw my brother. On the train to my grandparents house, we apologized to each other – it seems my brother did a lot of evolving and healing when I left, he said the sadness remained when I was gone — I simply made a good scapegoat. He also thanked me for being a fuck up, cause it kept him and my sister from staying down the wrong path as well.

It was a weirdly nice change, watching out for my brother, planning interesting things to do while he was here. I had a weird out of body experience as I would pack my knapsack in the morning with an extra pair of socks, sweatshirt, and gloves for my brother (having just come from the Canadian winter, he didn’t really understand that it is winter here in Israel as well). It happened again when I instictively tried to hold his hand when crossing the road.

Before my brother came over, I had been uncertain of the wisdom of returning to Canada for a few months before permanently returning to Israel. My family also thought I should stay here longer. But my brother changed that. I think it gave my family the ability to see more the change within me. And my brother said that I need to come back. To show my family that change is possible. It’s not enough to see the change through skype.

The last few years I always thought my siblings were invulnerable… I always saw them as having a tough shell, and I was envious of their close relationship, while at the same time, extremely thankful for the bond they have together. Any attempt I tried to made at fixing out relationship would end with their hard stares and monotonous conversation, which would start and end at ‘hi, how are you?’. So I was a bit stunned, when my big tough brother came to visit, and I realized he’s the same person I remember being friends with as a kid. A realization that made me tear up and made me feel even more protective of him.

My brother’s visit helped me. It helped repair our relationship, and made me feel better about potential that the future holds. It also gives me hope to mend things with my sister.

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I am struggling with new-found p*ssedoffness right now.

This morning, my brother, while eating breakfast, announces that he and his friends were assaulted saturday night outside a club by a bunch of bouncers, unprovoked. Apparently, the police came, and did nothing (jeez, what a shocker there!), and my bro ended up with a punch to the head (along with other injuries that his friends suffered). They went to the hospital, since his friend needed stitches on his head. But my brother did not seek medical attention, nor did they file a report (neither did the drs. ask if they wanted to file a report… another shocker!).

Of course, I am appalled at what happened to my brother. Of course, I hate seeing him hurt. I hate thinking about what might have happened. I love my bro, regardless of our personal difficulties.

My issue with this scenerio, lies with my parents, and their reaction to the situation.

They immediately sided with my brother, expressing their outrage over what happened to him (and his friends). After the initial freak-out, my mom then called the police to see what my brothers next step should be, offered to take him then and there to the station to file a report, and even looked up the number for the Better Business Bureau in order to file a complaint about the club.

All natural reactions for a parent finding out their child has been wronged.

Or so you would think.

Their reaction to my assault (read: rape), which occurred three days before my birthday (happy birthday to me :/), was a LOT different.

First there was the yelling at me, for waiting to tell them (which I knew would happen, and was why I waited until I absolutely needed a ride to the hospital). Then there was their look and expression of disappointment in me.

Then, when I decided to press charges, it was first their utter lack of support, and then, their actively discouraging it when it seemed like I would actually go through with it, even getting my aunt, the lawyer, to weigh in on the matter (she told them it would not be in my best interest). Of course, in the end, I did not press charges. And I wonder now, whether my decision would have been different had I gotten just a touch of support or word of comfort with my finally standing up for myself.

Then, to make things worse, during one of my mother’s “talks” to me, she laid all the blame on me. Not just for the recent assault, but for EVERYTHING I have been through. Laid it straight on my feet, losing her temper, and completely disregarding and invalidating my feelings and trauma (this is not the first time she has done so, but it was the most hurtful).

So ya, I’m pretty effing p*ssed at them. My mother, for reasons I gave above, and my dad for being utterly passive and siding with my mother. Heaven forbid he actually side with his daughter for once.

I just can’t wrap my mind around the contrast in behaviours and reactions. I “get” that a nonsexual assault from man to man is somehow “different” then raping a woman. Its somehow easier to accept, and thus be enraged about.

But seriously? My brother is fine. He may have had a mild concussion, but I doubt he will have any lasting traumatic emotions. I doubt it will keep him from clubbing again. I doubt it will prevent him from drinking again. I doubt he will look at clubs in horror, and actively avoid them. I doubt he will actively avoid men who look like bouncers. I doubt he will have flashbacks, and nightmares, and panic attacks over the whole situation. I doubt he will shudder in horror at the very mention of clubs, dancing, or bouncers. He appears to have shrugged off the situation, and now wants to make a complaint, and sue the bouncers. Perfectly normal reaction.

(I am not invalidating my brother’s experience, only saying that there is a difference our reactions and the long lasting effects. Of course, it could be that I am completely off base, but from what I know of my brother, I do not think I am wrong in my assessment)

I was molested in a club. Not raped, but “just” groped from behind while I was dancing between my legs and chest. I punched the guy, and he left me alone. But I still avoid clubs.

Not to mention any guy that looks, moves, or acts like any of my exes.

It just feels like a slap in the face. Aren’t parents supposed to side with their children?

Sigh.

 

I think the power of touch can be transformative, considering that we carry so much trauma within the body.

I also think there is a lot of power in our denial of touch– it says a lot about the depth of our hurt that we cannot allow someone to companionably or compassionately hold us, caress us.

I never used to have that problem– denying touch. I would crave it, and I would find it. I never questioned how much my need for touch was actually destroying my ability to be intimate. I went about finding touch in the wrong way– acting out sexually, when what I needed was compassionate and healing  touch.

So I ended up completely abhorring touch, and denying it to myself. And I wonder, is that behaviour any healthier? I am depriving myself of a basic human need.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-trauma-touch.htm

http://culturemagazine.ca/activism/the_liberating_power_of_gentle_touch.html

I have been doing tons of work, by myself, and with others, to help integrate body and mind. It’s been working so well so far, I feel less PTSD symptoms, I’m less reactive, less stressed, I don’t have violent nightmares anymore (or dream at all).

Yet– I know I have to add in therapeutic touch to help give me a boost. It is the one thing I am not working on. I still shy away from other peoples touches, and feel uncomfortable getting hugs. I’m beginning to feel that some focused touch on my back would be particularly helpful, as I store a lot of trauma there, as well as my face, and who knows where else. I think it would be especially beneficial to my detox process. As well as give me the building blocks for emotional intimacy (something that has always made me cringe).

I have a massage appointment in another hour, with the same woman who does BodyTalk with me, so I know for sure she has some experience with (emotional) trauma and it’s physical effects. The idea of a focused touch on places where I won’t even touch myself has me stressed, to say the least. But it’s too late to back out now– I have been avoiding therapeutic touch for several months now, and have never had a massage with the goal of releasing trauma… I would just dissociate for the hour. Not healthy.

So, wish me luck 🙂

Stay safe ❤

{Let me just preface this by saying that this is my opinion only, and that I am only doing what is right for *me*. I am acting with the blessing and supervision of my therapist, and while I am not a professional, I spent a very long time researching to make sure that my thinking was heading in the right direction}

In the last several weeks I have been in the process of reducing and eliminating my medication with the hopes of becoming med-free for the first time in 14 years. Just to put those 14 years in perspective, I am 24 years old. I have been heavily medicated since I was ten.

A couple weeks ago, I was once again upset and resentful about being dependent upon chemical compounds (a feeling that overcomes me quite often). This time though, my thoughts took a different turn —

I started thinking about my development. It really hit me that I had been severely limited by the addition of heavy medications at 10, only to continue taking them for the next 14 years.

It started out because of an injury in school during gym class, a hockey puck to the knee. The swelling and bruising was normal. But the immense pain was not. Tests showed nothing. My doctor suggested I was “acting out” to keep from going to school. Other doctors suggested it was all in my head and that I needed psychiatric help.

Eight months went by before I had a firm diagnosis– that my pain was real, and I was not faking it.

Things continued to deteriorate– at school, I was ostrasized for being different. At home, I just shut myself up in my room and retreated. My parents took me to the “best experts” in the country….

At 10, I was declared clinically depressed due to the chronic pain, and thus suicidal. That I *needed* medication.

Typical of modern-day health care, no doctor ever really tried to get to know me, or figure out what was the cause of my pain (abuse). It was simply accepted as fact that pain made you depressed, and therefore, I was depressed.

I spent several months out of the next few years in hospital getting treatment. Meanwhile, my diet was abismal, consisting of hospital pizza and pasta. So of course my weight weight up, making me even more withdrawn and isolated.

To say nothing of the dehumanization of actually being in hospital.

Fast forward… I was 16, and deteriorating once again, after having a good year. On even more heavy medication. My first serious relationship has been going on for a year, and for a year I have been abused. Both my ex- and I were put on accutane at this time, and he became even more rageful and vengeful towards me, while I turned my anger inward and became completely unresponsive, almost catatonic. My parents brought me to emerg, and I was placed in psychiatric care for the summer.

This started a pattern. I learned hospitals were safe– even with “crazy” people. He could not touch me or harm me anymore while I was locked away. I felt better, I did a lot better. Of course, everyone continued to insist I was depressed (my habit of cutting did not help– again, turning my anger and rage inward).

Fast forward… My parents take me to visit various mental institutions, and there is talk of putting me away. Frankly, I’m not sure I care much. I never had freedom to begin with, so why would being locked away matter? At least I would be safe.

Fast forward… I am diagnosed as bipolar. Something I now believe was result of being placed on so much medication that ruined my gut and brain (plus the shitty diet, I think at this time, I was anorexic, and making sure I got less to eat then people in countries of famine– yes, I actually did the research). Finally, something broke and I became psychotic.

What I never mentioned to any “expert”, was all the abuse, and the abuse I was experiencing before, during, and after this psychosis. After all, it was my fault right? Boys will be boys, and all that crap…

Of course, the “experts” knew I was abused, that is the kicker. They could tell. Some pressed me on the subject, some mentioned it, trying to be subtle. But they all knew.

Fast forward… I am… 20? 21? I have attempted suicide yet again by overdosing on my pills, which I have failed to take for two weeks, having collected them instead. Oddly, while my mind is confused and muddled, it is no worse. I still overdosed. I was not trying to die. Never did I want any of my attempts to result in death. I just needed something to change. And I did not have the tools at the time to fix myself. So I did the only thing I could think of to get to a safe place and recollect.

In psych wards, I was always polite, well behaved, and friendly. I was being looked after and safe. That made me happy.

Anyways, my mental health is not something I like to discuss normally. I realize how my actions looked from the outside looking in. I acted like someone with a serious brain imbalance.

The last several months I have been doing a bunch of research… I have been compiling evidence that someone like me can be healed through proper nutrition (orthomolecular medicine). But since it is only me compelling me to act, and no one else helping me out, I had to actually implement change on my own.

Change happens in an instant, but getting to the momentous shift can take forever with the thinking and hesitating, and analyzing.

On sept 25th, I was raped again. And I used that as a catalyst to change.

I forced my brain to focus on what I was researching. To assimilate the knowledge I was reading and to actually process it. Finally, it started sinking in. And my thoughts, which would usually peter out if getting too complex, actually clicked. The cycle I am in is killing me, my health is failing me, and my quality of life sucks.

So I did an overhaul, I revamped my diet first, started getting more fresh air, put things into play to ensure that I slept at night peacefully. I created a good support system around me. I really opened up to my therapist. I got better.

I started questioning my diagnosis. I’ve long accepted that my fibromyalgia pain is my body’s result to trauma. But could the bipolar be as well? I did more digging.

I found out about damaged gut flora, and how it can create physical and mental problems within the body that can manifest as both fibro and bipolar. (google “GAPS”– gut and psychology symdrome).

I started to believe that my symptoms were a result of nutritional defitency. That my mental state was the result of long-term heavy drugs used to control mood. The side effects sometimes “create” illnesses like bipolar. I also learned that my painkillers could be making my pain worse. I also feel like the real source of all problems is trauma. Help the trauma and I help myself.

Everything built up until I decided to simply wean off. I informed my psychiatrist, told my general practitioner, and explained in depth to my therapist, who completely understands, and is amazed at the progress I have been making.

A week and half ago, I started tapering off oxycontin. Yup, same stuff that people sell in the street, snort, crush, get high off of. I’ve been on it for at least the last 10 years.

I am now on day 3, being completely and utterly medication free. Here are my observations about myself:

I am at peace. My mood disregulation is gone. My complex- PTSD symptoms have all calmed down. I smile randomly throughout the day. My mind is clear. I am capable of complex thought process in a way I never have been before. There is a spring in my step, where as before, I walked about as fast as my cane-using 80 something yr old grandmother. I feel a desire to do things I have not done in forever, or have been too triggered to do (like listening to music).

I actually feel hope for the future. Trying to start a business while being unwell just was not feasible. I’ve now come to discover just how bogged down my brain was due to medication– I could not function as a “normal” person– no focus, no concentration… I have drive, but had little motivation to propel me into action.

I have an appt set up with my p.doc this week, and I hope I sound coherent when I explain my reasons for getting off meds. He has always taken the stance that taking them is up to me, and only me. But it would be nice to have his support, like I do my therapist. I am also doing a 17wk group therapy for abuse survivors. I am doing BodyTalk, where I am connecting mind to body, which is helping me heal in leaps and bounds, instead of tiny baby steps. I have an appt this week too with a naturopath, with whom I hope will guide me in the correct direction regarding supplementation, and diagnostic testing (I suspect some hormones might be out of balance, possibly candida…which of course contributes to the mess my body is in). It’s a lot of specialists I have been committed to seeing, but I figure if I do the work now, I will benefit sooner, and for longer.

I am still in detox from oxy, but the worst is over. The miserableness of the last week and a half has lessened to mild unpleasantness. It is thrilling, because my baseline pain levels are lower then normal.

Stay safe ❤

I was on the bus today, when I caught a glance of the tabloid the woman beside me was reading. The caption on the picture of handsome Johnny read “Johnny Depp says photo shoots make him feel like he’s ‘being raped'”, as told to Vanity Fair magazine.

Umm… EXCUSE ME?!

As soon as I read that, I (internally) flew into an outrage. I could not believe the audacity of this man, who wields so much power and has such media coverage and credibility, would say something so careless and thoughtless!

Rape is an act of power and control. An act of the ultimate violation of body, mind, and soul. It is the violent penetration of a person without consent.

Being raped has made me feel like people are always watching me, and can tell that there is something damaged about me. Like there is a taint on my soul. I feel dirty in a way I can never get rid of, no matter how hard or how long I scrub my body.

Being raped made me lose my sense of boundaries, my sense that there is any justice in the world. Being raped destroyed my ability to trust another person.

Being raped means I cannot be intimate with another person without dissociating – meaning I simply go through the motions but I am not there.

I am left with complex PTSD, severe nightmares, triggers that take me to images of the past. Sights, smells, actions, any little thing can set a trigger off in my brain and send me straight back into the past. I relive the abuse daily. The beating, the rapes, the emotional terrorism.

I tried to kill myself 6 times, and should have died the night my ex strangled me.

This is how Johnny Depp feels?

I think, dear Johnny, you just lost a fan.

Why is it that people often blame victims for crimes they did not commit or consent to?

People want to believe in a just world. This world view makes day to day life easier in a harsh world. After all, good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people… right?!?

Wrong!

So what happens when people are confronted with the reality that bad things happen to good people? That these tragic events could be not avoided once you have been trapped by an abuser?

It is easier to believe that the victim brought on the violence onto themselves, rather then believe that we are not invulnerable, that it could, in fact, happen to any one of us so easily.

It does not help that the “public face” of abusers is often charming and affable. They are typically seen as nice, kind, and caring people. To better hide their evilness, some have good standing in the community, and manage to get people on their side and liking them easily.

When the rose-coloured glasses are shattered, it is hard to believe that such a “fine, upstanding citizen” of the community could do something so horrific to a “loved” one. We do not want to believe that our judgement in another was so incredibly wrong. It is simply easier to deny, and then blame the victim.

This drives the silence that victims tend to keep – out of fear, shame, guilt… If the victim blames themselves, why not other people blame her as well?

In Toronto, a police constable warned university students not to dress like “sluts” if they wanted to avoid rape… Excuse me?!

This is a new type of victim blaming… A sort of victim-in-waiting in which women are constantly supposed to be on guard.

The message that “boys will be boys” is severely damaging as it takes the blame completely off of the perpetrators shoulders. The myth that women are the source of men’s happiness also perpetuates victim blaming.

So what to do about it?

Listen to the person who has been victimized. Be compassionate, and let them talk if they need to, or just let them be, if that is what they need.

Make it clear it is NOT their fault

Often victims of violence will do things that make them feel they will be less of a victim, no matter how irrational the action is.

I cut my hair that used to go down to my waist because I figured it was a liability. Men could easily subdue me by grabbing my long locks, and they did. Cutting it made me no less of a victim, however.

I lost and gained weight to make myself less appealing. However, that also did not work.

Changing the way I dress – same deal.

This shift in perception is called a trauma-based worldview. This means that our sense of invulnerability is shattered, as is any sense that the world is a safe and just place to be. Some of the affects – being less trusting, and more weary of others, more cynical – I do not necessarily think is a bad thing (in small, rational doses).

Being a victim of violence is ALWAYS the fault of the abuser. We cannot control the actions of others. But we can make it clear to those that would blame us that it is the abuser who is at fault.

Speak up, silence is deadly!

Stay safe

I just finished watching an interesting case on Law and Order UK –

A young woman, who spent two years being stalked is pushed down the stairs. Initially the cops believer, but as evidence is scarce it becomes obvious the police doubt her story. She insists that she needs help, has been begging for help for two years, and that if she is not helped, she will be killed. Two days later she is found stabbed to death in her apartment.

What can we learn from this?

Plenty.

Emotional abuse is nearly impossible to prosecute, and it is hard to do anything effective against stalking until your life is in danger.

Emotional abuse will eventually escalate to physical intimidation, sexual coersion, threats of violence, and finally, actually laying of the hands on your person – physically, sexually… All in violence.

There are also honeymoon phases. These phases come just when you need them most, and can be the most psychologically devastating as they keep a victim off balance and feeling as if they are crazy – as if the abuse was just their imagination.

The one thing that is certain is that abuse does escalate.

There are certain red flags to look for, that I’ve noticed seem to be a pattern among abusers (in my experience). For me, with all my abusers, these red flags were always there.

Trust me: Abusers tend to say this a lot. There are key words to look for, sentences like “I’ve been told I know how to treat a woman right…”, “Trust me…”, “I’m always told I’m caring and kind”, “Trust me, I look out for my woman”.

My Woman: This possessive and objectifying term is always used. Listen to the way he speaks to you: are you a cherished companion, or does he seem to label you as more of an object that he needs to look out for an protect (at any cost necessary)? Is he jealous of your time away from him? Does he keep tabs on you during the day when you are not together through text messages or phone calls? Sometimes it is the total opposite – he will ignore you for days, and then contact you and berate you for not initiating contact, or maintaining consistent contact with him.

Mircoexpressions: Deception is something we all like to think we are good at detecting, but it is something we, as women, are more likely to miss out on. Studies show that woman are more likely then (normal) men to smooth over social mistakes. In other words, if we see something in a man’s expression that does not agree with what he is saying, chances are, we will excuse it, not wanting to discomfort the other person. PLEASE DISCOMFORT HIM!!! Look for expressions that leak: a crooked smile (phony!), if he usually talks with his hands, if he is being deceptive, he will likely not use his hands as much (the opposite applies as well).

When normal people feel emotion, it is expressed on their faces first before we consciously realize what that emotion is that we are feeling. In abusive men, this displays as the opposite – it’s the emotion first, then the mircoexpression. Look at body language, tone, voice characteristics. Do his words match his actions?

Eye Contact: These men are practiced deceivers. They know to maintain consistent eye contact with others. It is often victims that do not maintain eye contact – they may look away due to nervousness, disgust, shame, sadness, or guilt.

Brainwashing: Abusers will say things to you like “you are lucky I love you”. But that will not be the only verbal technique used to break you down. He will question your intelligence. Belittle your appearance. Condescendingly speak to you. Isolate you from others by making you feel worthless, and instilling a feeling of clingy-ness onto the abuser – this is because he “lowered himself to be with you”, and thus, you should feel “special”, because truly, all you are is a “worthless slut (insert his choice insult)”.

Crazy Making: He will have you questioning your own sanity. By reverting back into the honeymoon phase, and becoming again the charmer, he will make you feel like you have overreacted, are hysterical, need help, and gosh, aren’t you lucky to have him to help you through this confusing time?!

Changes within you: Do you find yourself acting more quietly around him? Walking on eggshells? Are you fearful? Are you dressing more conservatively, or more provocatively, in order to please him, when it is not your style? Are you gaining or losing weight? Are you forgetful? Sleeping more, or less? Are you anxious or panicky? Do you have this sense of impending doom? If any of this sounds familiar, you are likely in a situation you should examine closely, and get out of.

If you detect any of this type of behaviour, GET OUT! This type of behaviour only escalates over time. Abusers are constantly testing limits. If you forgive him, he will abuse you more, and in even worse ways.

Stay safe!