I had a two-day meltdown last month, which seems to happen every July. I don’t know what the trigger is exactly, other than that most of the abuse I can remember happened during the summer months. It used to bother me, not knowing why it was always July, and now I think that maybe it’s a mystery that doesn’t need to be solved. Or maybe it is solved and I just want to make it more complicated than it is.
This meltdown was relatively short. It was two days of memories (mental and physical), sobbing, anger and fear that I would feel this way forever. At first there was disbelief. There’s no way these memories can be attacking me again. It must be PMS. Or food poisoning. Yeah, that’s it. I’m coming down with something.
Then, there was resignation that it was happening again. “It” being the reality of the abuse coming at me full force so that it can’t be ignored, not that it is ever far from my mind in the first place. It is a part of me as much as my eye color, my left handedness, my stubby pinky toes.
The elephant in the room was back, except that it wasn’t an elephant. It was a little girl. And she was determined to be heard. So I listened. And what she told me was unbelievable, even though I know it’s true because I was there. It’s still incomprehensible to me that someone wanted to erase me, to bleach me out of existence and who took such pleasure in making me feel alone, superfluous and unwanted. Read More
May 18, 2016
My 92-year-old grandma went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago with a broken hip. She was moved to a rehab facility and then contracted pneumonia. When I visited her today, she was remarkably lucid, even more so than a couple of days ago. Still, I sense that she’s not really getting better and I fear that she won’t be coming back home.
But she’s not ready to die, at least that’s what she told me today. We were talking about my uncle who died over 30 years ago and I said, “You have a lot of people waiting for you.”
She replied with a sly smile, “They can wait.” Read More
When I was young, we lived off and on in a small adobe house with four rooms. It had water running to the sink in the kitchen but no bathroom. We used an outhouse in the backyard and kept a coffee can under the bed for nights when it was too cold to go outside. What stands out in my memory is how tidy my mom kept the house, taking pride in little details like doilies and lace curtains. To anyone looking in, we lived in poverty but to me it was just where I lived until my dad picked me up and took me to his mansion in the foothills.
Well, maybe it wasn’t a mansion but to anyone looking in, it was a nice house with three bedrooms, two baths and a swimming pool. The house was on an acre of desert and since I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all that cacti, I spent a lot of time in my room playing with my Barbies. I preferred the narrow space between my bed and the wall, buffered between the dust ruffle and my imaginary world. Read More
“There is a common misconception in our culture about who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it looks like. A quick Google image search will lead you to believe that the majority of those living with PTSD are men in uniform, when the reality is that women are twice as likely to develop it as men, and it can be acquired in a number of ways. Not all wars take place on the battle field.” – Dawn Daum
This is me and today I’m joining other survivors in changing the face of PTSD. You would never know by looking at me that I’m a survivor of sexual abuse or that I have fought my own personal war against PTSD. I spent years feeling ashamed of the way I reacted to certain situations, by how seemingly minor events would trigger painful flashbacks or memories and by my inability to control my physical reactions. By learning how PTSD affects me, I now understand why:
I sometimes feel like I’m in danger when my heart rate increases, even if it’s caused by something as innocuous as exercise.
I feel trapped and panicked when my kids jump on top of me while playing or when they try to hold onto me in the swimming pool.
While I no longer suffer from debilitating night terrors, I can become easily enraged from lack of sleep.
Yoga can feel like torture because it forces me to be aware of my body.
If all anyone sees when they research PTSD is soldiers and people affected by war, they may not recognize themselves and seek help. By sharing our stories we can heal each other. By sharing our faces, we give other survivors someone to relate to. By using our voices, we can offer hope.
It’s time to change the face of PTSD. Here’s your chance to help! #FacesOfPTSD
There is a misconception in our culture about who suffers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and what they look like. A quick Google search will lead you to believe that the majority of those living with PTSD are men in uniform. The reality is that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, and not all wars take place on the battlefield.
We have seen great progress in the last few years in mental health awareness related to PTSD among veterans. We would like to expand on that progress to include all who suffer with PTSD. It’s time to accurately represent the thousands of women and men of all colors, ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic background living day to day, while doing the best they can to manage flashbacks, constant triggers and the debilitating medical and mental health effects of this disorder. It’s time to change the face of…
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If you put that flower in the ground, it’ll never grow.
Because it doesn’t have a root ball.
Huh? Oranges? No, not a fruit ball. A root ball. That’s how plants get their nutrients from the soil.
Nutrients are…well, it just won’t grow. Believe me.
No, I’m not a hater. We can go to the plant store and then you can grow some things in the yard.
No, not right now. Maybe next weekend.
Sweetheart, it hurts the plant when you pick the leaves off.
Stop picking the leaves off the plant.
Stop. Stop. STOP picking the leaves off the plant.
Yes, that hole is deep enough.
Those leaves look lovely.
Do I think they’ll grow? Well…we’ll see!
Wait! Stop! That’s a really big branch!
Ok…yes…dig a bigger hole. Very nice.
Well, this isn’t really how you plant things.
Yes, like daddy says, you can’t chop your arm off and grow a new person.
No one would want to chop your arm off.
Don’t worry about it.
Just keep planting.
You’re doing fine.
Yes, maybe they will grow. We’ll see, ok?
Daughter takes me to a fully grown plant that was already growing in the yard.
Look mommy! This completely different plant grew from what I planted yesterday. See? You were wrong. I was right. Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I’m 15 years old and I make my own rules! Well, almost 6 is close enough. I’ll be 15 in well…let me check…well, this year, then one year, then 2 year, then 5 year, then 6 year…wait…this year, then 6 year, then……………..don’t rush me!
Getting our taxes done used to be my least favorite thing until I discovered buying a house. What was supposed to be a fairly straightforward process turned into a stressful nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. It’s certainly not life threatening, but it’s not nothing either. When all of your belongings are packed into a moving truck and you have no idea when or where it’ll be unpacked, it’s emotional.
The hardest part for me was the uncertainty. I felt like I was lost in the wilderness and I couldn’t get the right perspective to see the situation as a whole – the forest for the trees. I remember vividly wishing that a grown up would come and save us. And then I realized that we were the grown ups. Oh shit. Read More
Hellllloooo? Is anyone out there? I’ve been away for so long that I hope you all haven’t forgotten me. We are finally in our new house and I plan to start posting again soon. In the meantime, I’m honored to be a part of Kelsey Munger’s thought provoking series on self-care with a piece that I wrote last year. I have a feeling that this is going to be a lifelong lesson for me. Join me over at Kelsey’s and tell me what you think – http://kelseymunger.com/2016/03/25/being-here
To make it even more special, today is my 21st wedding anniversary! Here’s a sunrise shot to celebrate. xxoo
His hand in mine feels so small and perfect. We’re walking and he’s telling me about the strong evidence that Jar Jar Binks is really a Sith Lord and he’s promising to show me all the YouTube videos that prove it. I’m barely paying attention (huh? that goofy Gungan a Sith Lord?) because all I can think about is how he looks the same as he did when he was a baby, minus the chubby cheeks and Michelin man legs. I can’t remember the last time I hugged this kid. Not cuddle on the couch while I’m distracted by Downton Abbey but totally embraced him and felt his spirit reach my heart. And now he’s looking up at me with his Abercrombie model face arguing Star Wars conspiracy theories. It’s the shot in the arm I need to be present in this exact moment because for a brief second I have the terrifying thought where have I been for the past 7 years? Read More
I discovered David Bowie in my dad’s record collection in 1982 when I was 12 years old. I was mesmerized by Ziggy Stardust and listened to that record incessantly. In my daily life I was trying hard to suppress overwhelming feelings but when I heard those songs, I could cry and lament because it wasn’t me – it was the music. It allowed me to express feelings that scared me in a way that felt safe.
David Bowie belonged to me. He was a good secret, not like the big, scary secrets that I was carrying. I introduced him to friends and was pleased when they didn’t love him as much as I did. Loving David Bowie made me feel special and unique. I felt cool and like I knew something that no one else did.
Then, Let’s Dance came out and he belonged to the whole world. Suddenly everyone loved him but I made sure people knew that I was the original fan. I knew him before. I loved him before. My David Bowie mania increased because I had so much to prove. It never occurred to me that countless people before me felt the exact same way. After all, I discovered him in my dad’s record collection. Read More