Posts Tagged ‘life after abuse’

I’ve debated what to do about this blog for the last year. I’ve told myself it’s because I am too busy to write – which is true to an extent. I’m too busy living. Too busy discovering. To busy finding myself in the most incredible and amazing places with amazing and incredible people.

I’ve found a world open to me that never was before.

And so I forget.

I forget who I used to be because I tell myself it’s irrelevant. That’s not who I am anymore. It’s not how I think about myself. My inner change has been reflected in how others perceive me and treat me and trust me. The respect I am shown is sometimes mind-blowing and I can’t wrap my mind around it so I don’t think about it too much.
I am hard with myself. I often feel like I don’t do enough or give enough of myself in work or in school, and then I have to run an inner dialog that goes something like ‘Remember, two years ago you could hardly walk. Two years ago you had never worked a real job. Two years ago the thought of volunteering someone a few hours a week to get out of the house was too overwhelming.’

And then I run a quick mental checklist of what I have accomplished:
Drug free
Living on my own halfway across the world
Recovered from chronic pain and mental illness
Working and studying full time
Learned a new language
Learned to have fun and let go
And I learned that men are human too

In my studies we spend a lot of time on inner reflection and exploration. Which can cause mini-breakdowns because you are ALWAYS with yourself in really intense and intimate ways.

Then the parts of me I’ve worked so hard to put aside suddenly rear up and I feel the huge disconnect. The things that I’ve done and that I’ve been through – things that made perfect sense to the drug and abuse induced fog I was under for so long – make zero sense to my now rational mind.

And I have no outlet for these feelings because no body knows the real details and I don’t really want to talk about it, because its not relevant, right?

But as a result of all of the inner reflection I’ve started to see the bigger picture, and started making sense of all the irrational things that happen. I can see, vaguely, how it got so bad. And in an irrational way, it makes perfect sense to me.

My memory comes and goes. Which I will always be thankful for, because it means when these inner clashes happen, I am not confronted with the full reality – just tiny bits and pieces, which after the initial shock and turmoil, I can begin to sort through.

One of the things I recently remembered was a conversation I had in a restaurant, years ago. I was in a restaurant with my ex. I remember the cold and darkness, not necessarily that it was winter and night, just the impression I get. It was probably after we went clubbing. I remember telling him that my suffering has a purpose.

And I remembered other instances as well, when those words would randomly fall from my lips with doctors, therapists, violent exes. I remember thinking it when was maybe 12 or 13. In a wheelchair, wanting to die, and drugged out of my mind.

Maybe thats why I never died, despite the effort I put into it, and despite the almost-successful attempt made on me by the same ex I said those words too.

Now more the ever I feel the truth of it. And though I have an almost paralyzing fear of people knowing,

I’ll continue writing.

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.

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.

 

I hate uncertainty. I need clarity in all things. With that in mind, I hate even more when I allow the filters through which I was taught (brainwashed) to see the world to influence me. I know where those lenses came from. I know why I think this way. So why can’t I stop it?

While I feel free here in Israel in a way I never have before, there are times when I pause in terror of conflict or potential conflict. This includes times when I’m asked where I want to eat, whether I want to do something or not, what do I think of (blank)…

Then there are the bigger things. I’ve finally loosened up to the point where I can not only interact with others, but I’m actually having fun. And then I feel like shit for having fun. Like its so exhilarating, it must be wrong. I half expect some sort of punishment to fall on me.

Fun has come in the form of dancing mostly. This week drinking also, since I’ve realized if I’m not set out to destroy myself, it’s okay. And drinking doesn’t mean drunk. Drunks freak me out. But so do clubs.

Anyways. I avoided clubs and dancing for the longest time. My experience of going out to dance included seeing how many guys I could lure at the urging of my ex. This was when I was recently exited, and had turned down stripping jobs (as if that would have eased me out of the lifestyle. NOT). He knew all this. That’s why he got a sadistic kick out it (just like he did when I broke down crying cause I didn’t want to work anymore in any aspect of the trade). Not to mention being molested in clubs by drunks. Which my ex thought was funny.

So. Dancing. I went dancing before I left for Israel. It was a transformational experience. It had nothing to do with seduction, pretense, performance. Just feeling the music. Was amazing.

I don’t think I’d be able to go out now if I hadn’t that night. The only thing I care about is the music. No one else matters, nothing else exists, it doesn’t matter what I look like.

This is intensity. Reaching the moment where I am so overcome by the beat that I lose my Self in the moment. I dance smiling like an idiot cause it’s the greatest high.

Unfortunately, I later come back to myself. And with returning self-awareness there condemnation and doubt, even though I know there is no reason for it.

But I think to myself of the way I have gone out of my way to avoid people who party or drink in any way. Avoiding, but not judging. So why do I judge myself? What am I judging myself for? What is harmful about enjoyment?

I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, doing things I would not have been able to do months ago, even. Its amazing. And terrifying.

It’s a learning curve that feels more a twisted maze.

It’s now been six months since I detoxed from psychotropics and narcotics. I actually had to count out the months.. It feels like a lifetime has passed. And really, I have my um, birthday rapist to thank for all the positive changes I’ve gone through. I brooded for two months, then decided life as I was living it was completely unacceptable to me. So I changed it.

Six months on and I know there are still plenty of things that need changing. Mainly my ability to relate to other people outside of a sexual context. I’m being pretty forgiving towards myself in this aspect. Here’s why:

I’ve been mostly isolated for years, I cut out positive friendships because I didn’t feel I deserved them, and gravitated to those who were more damaged then me, or who affirmed my belief in my worthlessness. I cut all those people out too. But was too scared to make new friends. Plus, how do you create a friendship when the only friendships you’ve had for years would be created out of sex?

So I find myself in a weird position now. My beliefs have changed. My actions have changed. The way I life has changed. But I’ve only really been confronted with having to positively interact with others very recently.

So I find myself having to adjust while around people I’m trying to or want to befriend. Which is really weird.

I guess I would call this stage confusing. I’m breaking old patterns and I’m breaking through the brainwashing.

While the last six months (and longer, actually) have mostly been me by myself, that’s no longer the case. I’m actually trying to connect with other people in a positive way.

Which leaves me… unsettled.

I’m trying to find a new normal. And it’s working. But then every so often I’ll do or say something that reflects the person I used to be, and not who I am now.

I was trying to figure out why I kept acting on this compulsion. Cause I don’t do things believing I deserve nothing better, or to objectify myself intentionally.

I’m just trying to adjust. Which is hard. And could also be a sign that I have to stop placing myself in situations where I’m vulnerable to acting stupid.

To which I can say to myself, “duh”.

Anyways. It’s something for me to mull over.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4G4IaCOglE (warning: it’s loud!)

Stay safe ❤

 

A question was posed to me last night by a new acquaintance. Basically, he asked whether or not I was the architect of my own demise. Well, it was more like, do I feel like I brought everything onto myself somehow.

Now, usually when someone has the balls to ask me something like that, 1. the question is asked by someone totally ignorant of the dynamics of abuse, 2. it’s a form of victim blaming. Usually at this point I’d usually either completely shut down or become defensive.

Since the question was more philosophical in nature, I actually gave it some thought. And I was thinking about it today while I was swinging in the park next to my house (I believe in nurturing my innocence).

So here is my thinking: the answer is yes.

Going on the premise that my thoughts and feelings create my reality, I see how I manifested various abusive situations and wound up a prostitute.

Since I cannot remember most of my childhood, I’ll disregard that for now. Suffice to say that by the time I started dating, I was finding myself with men who confirmed my core beliefs.

Those beliefs being that I am unloveable, I am worthless, I am an object to be used in a sexual manner, and that I only serve purpose as a trophy.

It didn’t really hit me that I was proving those things to myself with the relationships I wound up it until the last couple months.

Take the guy I lived with last year –

That was my experiment at a normal relationship. I had a stable guy who cared about me and loved his family. I should have been happy, all the ingredients were there for me to be happy. But… I would overreact to inappropriate things and create drama where there really wasn’t any just to create some excitement. So of course the relationship failed. It was more then that though. My beliefs in myself were confirmed – I was worthless because I didn’t get validation through sex. And I was unloveable cause I revealed some things about me that he didn’t deal well with.

I wasn’t objectified by him, which lead me to feel worthless… what do I add to a relationship if I’m not able to satisfy him?

Anyways.

So I’m thinking now, how do I work with the tentative new core beliefs I have about myself?

Namely, that I add value through my character and intellect, I am lovable exactly as I am, and that I have just as much worth as anyone else.

Frankly, I’m not sure. Cause like so many things, everything seems to circle back to sex. And since I feel pretty great, but lack an outlet for my energy… well, I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t do something constructive, I’ll start acting out just for the excitement.

 

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!