Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

I just returned from my voice lesson. A very disappointing lesson. Let me start of by saying I found the best music teachers here in Israel. It is my goal to be able to apply to university to study music next year. This means a lot of work on my part.

I’ve also improved more in the last two-ish months of lessons then I did over the span of a year in Canada. I think part of it is the assertive (aggressive) Israeli spirit. There is a certain lack of tact that is very refreshing (which also took a while to get used to). But when my teacher is communicating (yelling) at me, I have no choice but to listen. And it works, wonderfully.

Today, however, I encountered some difficulty in my lesson. My back’s been hurting, probably due to the oncoming winter and the sporatic torrential rainfall of the last few weeks. I don’t know if its a real pain, or a body memory. For 14 years any change in weather meant increased pain levels and limited mobility. I suspect it is a mixture of both.

Anyways – it is my body that is the instrument. Which means I have to feel 100% in order to get 100% sound. The tension in my back threw my ear off. I couldn’t breathe properly, and I could feel I was forcing my voice too much, and as a result, I was off tone.

My teacher asked me about that. And I didn’t say anything. I didn’t say the truth. It wasn’t until I left and walked towards the bus that I realized why:

I didn’t want to come off as weak. Or like I was making excuses for myself.

So instead, I left my teacher with the impression that I’m working on this beyond my current capability. And I left that lesson extremely disappointed in myself. Doubly so when it hit me that I reacted as if I would be penalized for being in pain. And then I wanted to cry.

So.

I have to own up next week. Because I am capable.

 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjPqsDU0j2I

I spent a few weeks wondering how to continue this blog, mostly because I have nothing really to complain about. No pressing issues either really, that I find I must write about lest I explode.

But then one night I caught up with friend back in Canada, who said to me that there is no word really, for the change that’s happened. Not a victim, not a survivor, but something more. I remembered also the moto (?) of my blog: Learning to thrive… I think I’ve gotten to that place where I can honestly say I am.

So… I’ll continue this blog from there. An update:

I’m almost done the ulpan program (learning hebrew) on the kibbutz after 5 months. I decided to stay here in Israel and apply for citizenship. I’m looking into doing a year of volunteer work (instead of the army, which I’m not obliged to do, since I’m 25). I’ve also returned to singing, and have as a long-ish term goal to study voice in university.

I’m in love. A fact I’ve deliberately kept out of my blog the last few months so I won’t jinx it. He’ll be coming here too.

I also discovered Israel has a winter season. I had scoffed at the Israeli idea of winter. But I’m currently huddled in fleece pjs and sweater. I’m still cold.

I’ve also discovered capability that I didn’t have previously – Its not a big deal to work and learn six days a week. I have no money, and that’s also not a big deal. I’m in a new place, with a new culture and new language and the threat of war.

And I find myself extremely happy.

 

Every night since I was a child, I would cover myself in piles of blankets. I would sleep with my blankets cocooned around my body, pulled up to my ears. Didn’t matter what the weather was, I needed to have at least five blankets over me.

I never really fell out of the habit of needed to keep myself warm at night. My grandfather joked about it a few weeks ago when I said how cold I was at night, even with my sweater and socks and pj pants. I smiled at his joke, but the safety I find in being buried under a pile of blankets goes deeper then a physical need for warmth.

It’s not something I ever really thought consciously about, even during summers when I’d have to cocoon myself at night to the point where a/c didn’t do enough, but I had to sleep with a fan and without clothes and was still hot.

I get it now that I really have no privacy, living with 40 some other people in co-ed dorm-like buildings. Especially since last night I had the best sleep yet in Israel because I had a real blanket, plus sweater and socks and pjs. It was a relief to wake up in the middle of the night because I was too hot. And I wrapped the blanket around myself even tighter.

I was thinking about that last night, the womb-like cocoon of blankets. It’s something I’ve only ever done when sleeping on my own. Cause once someone else is there, the sense of safety has already fled. Imagination can’t be worse then the reality lying beside me. Or something like that.

Bottom line: blankets equal happiness and love and (mental) safety and (mental) security.

The last few days have been extremely difficult for me on an emotional level. I can handle a lot. But I start to lose it when those little things start snowballing. Cause then its like a whole mountain of crap has fallen on me and I can’t find my way out.

Part of it is cause of birthday celebrations. Which sounds so ridiculous. At least, until I remind myself that if someone else was telling me about being triggered by a birthday, I wouldn’t think anything unusual about it. If other peoples emotions and reactions are completely valid, why aren’t mine? Especially cause I’m actually sitting in the dark crying as I write.

Maybe cause by being triggered, I’ve allowed myself to remove myself from everyone else. Which looks snobbish and hermit-ish. And makes the problem worse. Mostly cause I made the problem worse just living with myself.

Cause yesterday the same pains and physical reaction my body had to being raped back in September (right before my birthday) ‘suddenly’ reappeared. Cue panic and anxiety. Then I start brooding. Then I lock myself away. Then I start freaking out about not being any better, and ending up back where I was… Anyways. You get the picture. It snowballs.

But it’s really about birthdays. And whatever unresolved issues I have there. Cause it’s awesome to be alive every day. That should be celebrated. I do celebrate it. I am thankful every morning I open my eyes. For every new day God has granted me life.

I just don’t want there to be birthdays.

I’m better about holidays. Cause its bigger then yourself. There’s a bigger picture. And it’s the same with birthdays, but that’s not the focus.

Dunno.

It’s not something I expect to get over tonight, in the dark, crying.

However,

I do expect me to get over myself. At least just a little bit.

I nearly decided to leave the country. My visa technically expires today, so I was fully ready to get on a plane and leave and admit defeat.

It’s hard, being here. Having passively sat on the sidelines for years, and having my life run on the whims of violent men, I don’t think I really appreciated what a big deal it is that I actually got on a plane by myself and went halfway around the world amidst a culture vastly different from mine. Familiar to me, since I’ve been here, in Israel, before. But not like this, living in the country.

The main thing was that I had to make a choice. Stay, and truly give it a shot, which is why I’m here to begin with – to transform and to accelerate the restoration process I’ve been going through. Or leave, because this is too big a step for me to take at this time.

It was the fact that the choice was all my own that made it so terrifying. Exhilarating too. But mostly terrifying.

Cause it means learning to deal with day to day life. Something I don’t really know how to do.

I had a couple of truly shitty days. Everything from the fleeting thought of being unqualified for anything but prostitution, to misinterpreting innocent words to mean things my exes would say, to being unable to be around anyone. All of which makes me feel like nothing has really changed, and I start over-thinking things, and once again I fear I will be what I was — zombified on drugs, in a psych ward, on the streets (I worked indoors, so of course, the street would be a ‘demotion’, a sign of how much further I had fallen)

I prayed about it. Asked for direction. Which I honestly had hoped would lead me back to the airport.

But God is bigger then whatever problem I am facing (which happens to be myself).

So here I (still) am. And here it seems I will stay.

Funny. As soon as I actually made the choice in accordance with God’s wishes, all the yucky feelings went away.

 

I’m now almost a week in Israel. Which is awesome, and beautiful. And hot. Omg, the sweat. The heat sinks into your skin and clings to you, even in air-conditioned spaces. Worth it, totally. Even if I occasionally wonder why I thought it was a wonderful idea to come in the summer.

I think I’m finally getting the picture for God’s plan for me here. The earthly plan is for me to go to a kibbutz, study and work for a couple months. Which is not 100% precisely my idea of a vacation. BUT! I get why this is such a genius plan for me.

Basically, I need to know I’m capable. And I know, I really do know that I am a capable and functioning person now. This just throws me into life. Putting theory into practice. Cause that was a huge fear of mine for years — that I would forever be trapped in a drug addled mind only able to stare into space and act out in destructive ways.

I proved myself wrong on that front. But 1. I’ve never had a normal job. Was never capable of having one. 2. I tried and failed to go back to school. Several times. 3. I had no sense of worth.

The third point is the most important one. That’s taken care of.

Its the doing stuff that I (now) know in my mind I can do. I’m no longer functionally handicap (by which I mean I could pass, on occasion, for being like any other healthy person for short periods of time and a bit of creative thinking with what I said).

But being here, healthy, is weird. In a good way. But weird.

I went today to a village in the north to see some artwork. The same village where my family wanted to send me to ‘get better’. This was, like, 6 yrs ago. But they couldn’t deal with me. And I couldn’t even being to think of how I would deal with being around other people in a foreign country. I could barely leave my house. So that trip was spent pretty miserably. I thought I hid my rage well. I probably didn’t.

Last night, walking in the dark with my aunt, she asked me in a couple different ways what happened? how did I change? She came to visit my family 3 years ago. She pointed out that she could hardly talk to me, I was so out of it. Totally true. I also remember that at the time I put in massive effort to appear normal (functional). Also a fail.

It’s a really weird question to answer. What happened? I was raped again, moped around, and woke up.

Its the “woke up” part I have trouble explaining. I was made to be chemically brain dead by psychotropics and narcotics.

Yet, this is what I knew:

1. God was there while I was being raped. God loves me. God hates seeing me in pain. For once, I wasn’t angry at God.

2. My mind cleared once I realized I wasn’t angry. The zombie-making effect of the drugs left enough for me to really focus on and grasp the things I was compelled to research, some of which is somewhere on this blog in a rant. Something stuck, and pieces started falling together. I knew how fractured I was, and how, systemically, every part of my body and mind and spirit had been rapidly breaking down.

3. I finally found the will to live. This was different then my willingness to simply remain alive, and if I die… whatever. Everyone will be better off anyways, right? I began to burn with a desire to LIVE.

4. K, so, it took 6 weeks to detox. I was getting off everything at once, which was comparable to getting off herion and/or cocaine. And the psych-meds are supposed to take a couple years to totally leave the body before it’s able to rebalance itself. Six weeks. Seriously. At the same time I changed my diet, so I had the carb-flu at the same time. But I’m fine.

5. Really, God wasn’t there? How easy would it have been to give up, to go back to shit that would eventually kill me but that I was used to. This was before I managed to repair the fragmented parts of myself. Through the worst of my self-worthlessness, I’d remember almost dying, and God’s loving embrace. And the words that it’s not my time yet.

What happened?

Um. Transformation that has lead me here, to Israel. To accelerate an already rapid journey in becoming all that God intended.

As abused or formerly abused women, our self-esteem and our confidence in ourselves takes a dive. It’s important to remember that our beauty and our bodies are a reflection of the Divine. We are made in His image, and in His eyes, we are perfect. It’s not often I will talk from my more religious side, but I feel that it is important in this case. The bible mentions the beauty of women multiple times, yet there is no mention of physical attributes of beauty. God is very specific with other things, going into minute detail about measurements, appearance… Yet beauty remains more elusive. The beauty of biblical times was not the beauty of modern days, where women strive for boyishly slim figures. The biblical woman was more soft, more womanly, and her curves were celebrated. Oils and essential oils would be used to beautify the skin, and things like beetles would be crushed and ground to make eyeshadow and lipstick. The desire to look the way you feel, or use appearance to influence your self-esteem is thousands and thousands of years old.

So I have some easy to do beauty tips that are easily accessible, and take little time to do. I believe that self-care and pampering are crucial to the healing process, as the positive actions towards your body triggers the brain into thinking more positively about yourself (this, of course, takes time). Also, the very act of gently touching yourself, of pampering yourself, massaging your skin and hair and face, is very healthy, especially when one is used to rough handling. It’s a healthy method of self-soothing.

For the face:

1. Oils make fabulous moisturizers. It is a myth that skin needs oil-free moisture, or that oily skin does not need moisture… All skin needs moisture to look glow-y, radiant, youthful (by youthful I mean allowing your inner light to shine outward, after all, the bible praises age and gray hair, saying that is it a crown of glory, and a sign of wisdom :)), and beautiful. Oil actually balances the dehydrated, parched, or dry parts of the face, while balancing out the oily parts — the presence of oil sends a signal to the brain that is no longer has to over-produce oil as there is already oil there! The trick is to only use 2-4 drops, depending on your skin.

I find my own skin needs way more since my skin tends to be very dehydrated, and drinks up anything I put on my skin quickly. However, more oily gals may find that one drop of oil is more then enough for face and neck.

Some oils that are easy and cheap to buy, and are full of antioxidants that will keep skin youthful are oils you find in the kitchen! Olive oil and coconut oil make wonderful all-over moisturizers. You can use them in your hair as a pre-shampoo treatment to increase thickness and promote growth, and both oils are incredibly healthy to ingest (remember that beauty is more then skin deep!). Some other oils I love for the skin, that you can find in the grocery isle for a couple dollars are grapeseed oil and avocado oil.

Shea butter is a miracle worker on the face. True shea butter has a nutty, earthy smell, and is not yellow, but a beige or cream colour. I hate using the word anti-aging (I feel it has negative connotations), but truly, I feel that this makes the best anti-aging and age-prevention cream. It is full of everything the skin needs — vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It has been used for centuries in Africa for the skin (and to cook with), and if you look at pictures of women who work producing shea butter, their faces and bodies are without lines. Their age and wisdom shines from their eyes, not from the visible ravages of time.

Since I am still in my 20s, I cannot speak from that much experience with intrinsic aging (aging influenced by things like genes, as opposed to extrinsic aging, which is influenced by sun exposure, pollution, smoking, diet… thing you have control over). But since my skin became extremely dehydrated my skin began to show fine lines when I smiled, and I developed expression lines around my eyes. Shea butter cured that. The “bounce” has returned to my skin, and the fine lines and expression lines are gone. It took several weeks to work, but since skin takes about a month to turnover new cells, I am not that surprised.

2. Exfoliation: This is a very important step in facial care, and ideally should be done every 3 days or so, but again, it depends on what your skin is comfortable with. Exfoliation helps the skin turn over healthy, vibrant skin cells. Often skin that has a dull look to it is in need of exfoliation. The surface of the skin is made up of dead skin cells, and they will eventually shed on their own, but anyone who has ever had flakey skin knows that that can take forever, and can make you feel self-conscious about your face.

Clay makes a great, natural exfoliant. A good clay for any skin type that is nice and gentle is rose clay. It comes in powder form for a couple dollars, and you add liquid to about 2tsp of powder. I like to add apple cider vinegar for the added exfoliation, and also to make sure that my skin remains free of blemishes. You can add rosewater, honey, plain greek yogurt (this has lactic acid, and is very gentle, and makes a great mask on its own).

An easy toner that is very gently exfoliating is an apple cider vinegar (ACV) toner. The ACV has to have “mother” in it for it to work in an exfoliating fashion on the skin. Bragg’s makes AVC with mother, I bought a 500ml bottle of it for about $3.50, and it will last forever. In a spray bottle add 1-3 capfuls of ACV, and to the rest of the bottle add distilled, purified, or mineral water (you know, like, Evian). If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can boil some water and brew some green tea (or mixed berry tea, like pomegranate, goji, cherry, strawberry, peach…) and add that in place of the water. Shake and use! In between uses, it is better to keep it refrigerated. The toner is a bit smelly, but it is great for the skin. If you want to change the smell, you can add a couple drops of skin-friendly essential oil, like lavender or geranium or ylang ylang.

3. Body aches: This is a little more pricey (relatively speaking), but if you are like me, and live in pain, and your pain meds only help so much, this just may help! I find my pain levels drop significantly when using this body oil. It is very simple to make:

In total I made about a $15 investment, and the body oil will last me a couple months. For me, it works better then any commercially made pain rub you find in the drugstore, and since I used to go through 2 or 3 tubes of pain rub a month without much change in my pain levels, this is much more cost effective. It also eases my mind to know I am using something natural. The skin absorbs about 80% of what you put on it — skin is the body’s largest organ. Just something to think about 🙂

I buy a vial of spruce hemlock and/or black spruce essential oil. This is the most effective topical pain reliever I have come across ever. I add about 1/3 of the vial of whichever spruce essential oil I have on hand (the vial is 10ml — both spruce, black and hemlock, work the same with pain, they just smell different) to 4oz of olive oil. That’s it!

If you want a pain rub that smells a bit nicer, and will help relax tense muscles as well as relieve pain, add some lavender essential oil (I add about 20-30 drops).

{This is what works for me. I am not a professional. Patch test before trying new products!}

Hugs!