Tag Archive: domestic violence


fasten your seat belts, blah blah blah. Yep, things have been tough, feel free to send chocolate. 😉

Whenever I am so silly to believe that things are on the upswing, I’ve been duped again. I feel like Murky Dismal in Rainbow Brite, the dude who tries to take all the color out of the world. And … the best part, is that’s how I describe my father. I don’t even have time for daddy issues right now.

I don’t know how I still go to school. It requires every ounce of effort I can scrounge up to drag my ass here. I’m not sure where the extra effort comes from for studying, and the other things an adult needs to do every day. My brain feels like it’s going to explode. I feel like I’m going to vomit. Eh, I likely will. The vomiting thing, not the head exploding thing. I have stomach ulcers. There’s a shocker.

I seem to have lost the sparkle that was me. I go about every day and survive and get through it, but I lost the zest, the (ironically) joie de vivre. I gain more attachment to the planet, less times where my mind throws up bad crap at home, in public places, other things die down, and I am swimming in a pool of pessimism. I have been severely depressed before, this is no surprise, but the pessimism is astounding.

Things were going relatively well for a while, but then I got the decision back from the administration saying they’re not going to do shit about “the incident”. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would likely spiral at least a lil out of orbit, but I seem to have become consumed with foul, angry thoughts, and very little else. A few weeks of this and my non-trauma friends are still hanging in there. I talked to a few of them today about “the crap” and by crap, I mean how I’ve been feeling and behaving. I’ve tried my darndest to not spill all over the place and make my crap become theirs. But it’s more than hard to go through this alone. Especially since I’m fortunately or unfortunately feeling so much more every freaking day for the past year or two now. I must say, I’m not a fan. Feeling SUCKS!! But, if I want to engage with the rest of the planet who does not live in my inner solar system, I better get used to it. Learning to feel is an atrocious experience. I highly recommend children and anyone younger than me learn to feel your feelings while you can. Before it’s a few decades later and they smash you like a brick. But, really, our minds did what they could to protect us at the time. And being dissociative was just as normal as some kids playing outside, having sleepovers, swinging on swings without a care in the world…

So moral of my story, feelings hurt like hell. They cause me visceral body pain. It hurts to hurt like that.

Although I’m seeing almost every aspect of the world through grey goggles recently, my friends have graciously and without prompting reminded me that, I’m not always like this. And to me, if they can even see that, that’s even more evidence that this too will pass. It just sucks hardcore right now.

My stomach is having a blast at the moment and I’m in a lot of pain elsewhere. I’m gonna go take care of my stomach, and then attempt to eventually eat and take care of myself.

I hope you’re doing well. And if today’s not such a hot day for you either, you’re not alone. And… likely tomorrow, or soon, things will start to look up. Every time I think they won’t, they do. I think it’s just to prove me wrong. 😉

Peace n safety,

Joy

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It’s been a hard days… month, or two

**Trigger Warning: Re: Sexual assault and s/h**

These last 6+ weeks have been kinda hellish. Med school in itself is fairly hellish. Being raped by a fellow student, pretty awful. The legal process which offered NO justice, at LEAST as violating as the act itself. But, I’m still here. (Which reminds me of one of my favorite poems, which I’ll post a little further down)

I can’t concentrate on much of anything, nevermind schoolwork. I haven’t managed to fail out yet, and I’m not sure how. I guess I’m catching enough to keep my head above the water. But the anger at what happened, my disappointment and anger in myself for my inability to magically get it together, use my skills (most of which I feel I’ve forgotten even though they were even more routine than breathing up until it happened)… is really affecting me. I have not self-harmed in 8 months and 9 days. Yes, so if anyone was still wondering, I am still self-harm free. I don’t know how. It has taken almost every ounce of my strength on some days to not self-abuse. It sadly comes so naturally. It’s an old pattern that I brought into adulthood, because I didn’t know how else to cope with pain other than to assault myself. Logically I know this is not the way one should be treated. However, I have been really triggered lately and feel quite often that I need to be “punished”. And I don’t, I just feel and think that I do. Unfortunately there is no fairy dust that I can sprinkle on myself to get me immediately back to where I was emotionally a few months ago. Luckily, there is similarly no fairy dust to get me back to where I was a few months before then and the many moons before then… because those were a scary time. Things are still frightening, but I have made a lot of progress. Considering what happened, I know that “on paper”, I’m doing very well. But my heart aches from the many feelings I have about the incident, nevermind how I feel it’s impacting my life. Things do get better every day, but they are still really rough. I can only logically acknowledge the progress I’ve made–I don’t feel it yet. I just want to feel it SO desperately.

My self-harm urges are more vibrant and intrusive than they’ve been in months. I think the stronger I fight not to, even though a huge part of me wants to feel that brief instant of relief… the stronger the thoughts and images are in my head.

I have made plenty of friends at school. And I have several really wonderful friends. But, I just don’t feel it. All I feel is loss. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life who I miss tremendously right now. The guy I was interested in is too sick (read: depressed and not making enough effort and strides to work with it and get better) for me to be in a relationship with, even a casual one, or friendship. His consistent inconsistency is entirely too painful. I do care for him, more than I ever wanted to, and you can’t help who you love and care about. I can, however, monitor my behavior and interaction with him though. We haven’t spoken in about two weeks. As deeply as it hurts, I think this was a very smart and healthy move on my part. I didn’t want to be further emotionally damaged by the people I allowed in my life, including him. It’s not his fault, I am an adult and I allow toxic people into my life. I’ve let quite a few people go in the past month and it hurts. I miss them, even the toxic parts of them. Perhaps MORE SO their toxic aspects. So while it hurts so badly that I can hardly breathe at the moment, in time, this will pass. Just like every flashback, the pain will stop and it hasn’t killed me yet.

I think some of my current pain comes from the strides I’ve made and the disappointment I feel as I am drowning in a riptide of depression. Depression at this point is totally understandable. But, I just really resent feeling so pained. I just want to live. I want to study and concentrate. I want to cook for myself and take care of my basic needs. As always I put on a really great “show” but I’m not ok. I have to be at peace with not being ok right now. And I’m not. I think it’s this resistance that is causing me so much anguish. I have so many feelings and thoughts to challenge, I feel really overwhelmed.

I don’t really know how pray tell to get my game face on and piece myself back together. I don’t think I’m supposed to. I think I’m supposed to take it day by day, and moment by moment… but that is not exactly my forte.

And the poem I promised:

Still Here by Langston Hughes

“I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between ’em they done
Tried to make me

Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!”

Love, Joy

****TRIGGER WARNING****

I am getting pretty close to snapping. As though the stress of being raped on the third day back at med school, starting school, moving, still unpacking, studying and feeling like there are 2 million fireflies fluttering around my head distracting me at all times, having to see his nonplussed asshole self every day because all med students have the SAME classes together at the SAME time, and the fantastic re-traumatizing process of the legal system ALL weren’t enough, I think he gave me an STD. When I was last checked, I was STD-free. I have the pleasure of finding out the culture and blood work results early next week. He has “no idea” if he used the condom that was on the floor. I took Plan B during the rape kit, along with other prophylactic antibiotics for bacterial STDs. But, I was told that there were no prophylactics available for viral STDs.

I have been having a really hard time to begin with. I am dealing with school as best as I can. I’m doing better grade-wise with every passing week. But, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m satisfied. However, I couldn’t stand pretending like nothing happened and like he didn’t violate me. I knew I had to report it either internally to my school or to the authorities. I decided on the authorities after I heard from someone else from school that (even though I was extremely vague w details) that he had “heard my story of what happened before” and that he “knew who it was based on his behaviors”. I questioned him and didn’t give any information away. I asked like 5 demographic questions to which I got all the right answers. I stood up and screamed in the room we were in. I asked my friend how he knew… and he said it was because he had heard my story before from someone else who knew my rapist before med school started.

I finally crawled into the police station and made my report. I tried to escape the prosecutor’s office and statement, but the female officer had her own agenda because she had been raped at 12. I managed to escape having to do the interview and taped statement with the prosecutor’s office that day because no one was available. I went back after I heard that he had potentially done this to someone else already. I had a feeling, but I’m not omniscient. He doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. That’s a whole ‘nother story, though. I can’t even go there right now.

I have had the pleasure of walking into class to find the staff of the prosecutor’s office at my school because they couldn’t track my rapist down at home. I hid from him for 2 days after I knew he was interviewed. I am the victim, I was violated, and yet I was cowering. It is MY school. I shouldn’t have to hide. He should be ashamed, scared, and intimidated by me. He raped me, and I am fighting back. I may not get far legally, but I am speaking the truth, which is empowering (and horrific, and humiliating, as well–but I am proud of myself regardless of the outcome).

And now I have the pleasure of waiting a few days to find out my STD status. I went to the doctor yesterday. I didn’t investigate anything on my own prior because I didn’t want to obsess about it, especially while I’m trying to stay tethered from the planet and not totally tossing in the towel over school. However, I spent time last night and this evening investigating what I think I have. I have very classic symptoms of a primary infection in females. It has gotten progressively worse since yesterday. The only thing I can do is make a paltry attempt at being mindful and not letting my worries and the potential diagnosis consume me. Emphasis on paltry. Every time I think I’ve calmed down I start crying again. I just want to be able to dissociate on command again. People have stuff to say, but it’s mostly crying, and “we’re damaged forever”, etc. However, who I want to take over won’t. I can’t be on the phone with my friends, my mom, a rape counselor 24/7. I have nothing more to say.

~Joy

Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. Therefore, I’m using today as an impetus to share with you my own experience with self-injury (aka self-harm=s/h). Please do not read this if it will trigger you. Also, I want to make it explicitly clear that I do not condone self-harm as a coping skill, however do not judge myself or others for resorting to it when we feel as though nothing else will assuage our pain (or whatever other things trigger an urge to self-harm).

My first incident of s/h was when I was 7. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. All I recall is that I explained (and lied) to my step-mother and told her I was trying to shave just like she did. Needless to say, when it did come time to shave in my early adolescence I was not permitted to do so. I have no idea why. Especially since I was apparently very convincing when I told her it wasn’t on purpose.

I then began sneaking hard liquor (and refilling what I had consumed in the most brilliant way an elementary-aged child could) from the liquor cabinet until my parents gave up drinking quite as much. Then, since their liquor required less space, they relocated it to a cabinet that was well out of my reach (then and almost now).

As I look back on these experiences I can recognize that they were ways for me to drown out something, what? At the time I had NO idea.

I achieved my first degree black belt when I was 16. I used these skills to s/h in a way that I was pretty sure no one would know about and no one would question. I continued this from middle school through college. I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain; that I couldn’t get rid of. All I knew is that my parents didn’t love me and it made me feel like my heart was slowly dying. Nothing I did won their approval. No amount of good deeds at home, the meticulous attention to my chores (which included EVERYTHING while my brother, of course, had none), my excellent grades, my involvement in the community in various ways… nothing. So my Catholic school girl self abused herself in the only way I knew how without getting caught. I had such enormous pain, and severely repressed anger, hostility, shame; I could go all day with what I had stuffed in my “little box”. I was a breakdown waiting to happen. I believed I had to be perfect in every aspect of my life, stuff all the pain away, and put on my (apparently slightly scary) fake-smile.

The year before I started medical school I had an extremely abusive relationship with my first girlfriend. I had previously been treated like gold by my boyfriend of 5 years. We had some major PTSD-related issues in our relationship now that I can look at it in hindsight, but he was the least abusive partner I’ve dated.

I slowly descended into madness during and after this relationship. I ended it, I simply couldn’t take the tumultuousness of our relationship anymore–I knew I was about to snap. And I did. But, I apparently was still able to put on a fascade that I was “just fine”. I did well in medical school while the symptoms of complex-PTSD continued to ravage my life. I was finally diagnosed with C-PTSD in medical school after a litany of misdiagnoses. I continued in the s/h behaviors I had long used, and introduced more. These new ones I was terrified by, these new ones had to be so minor that no one could see them or “everyone would know”. Que dira de la gente… what will people say? That was my only concern and the only reason why I kept my s/h superficial.

I took three weeks after the summer of my first year to seek out trauma-specific treatment. Every summer since I was a sophomore in college I had spent doing research to bolster my resume. I took a little bit of time from this for my treatment. I figured three weeks was plenty of time to figure out what the hell was really wrong and how to quickly fix it. I was adept at most everything else I did, therefore I approached intensive trauma tx with the same tenacity.

Apparently, my PTSD didn’t give a crap about my timeframe. Beginning trauma tx was like ripping off a bandaid on my fullbodied wound. My flashbacks got worse, my s/h urges became totally unmanageable. I tried using some of the skills I had learned and they were ineffective. I resorted to the only thing I knew would help alleviate some of my pain.

I used to (and still do) restrict access to certain rooms in my apartment in order to avoid s/h and to see if I could tolerate the pain until it ended. Sometimes, some days I was successful. Others I was not. Going to the ER with a self-inflicted wound got me nowhere. I did a good enough job tending to my wound that it was not necessary for the ER to intervene medically. And since I was no longer suicidal, my psychiatrist who happened to be on call that night, told me to “step up the individual tx and step up the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)”; and I was sent home. That was the first time I had actually scared myself by what I had done to my body.

After almost two years of therapy programs, I have come to realize that I no longer need to physically abuse myself. However, that did not stop my s/h. I would do it in the same place so that no one would question it should they see. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t rock my skills which I knew and practiced like it was my job. As I explained to my mother yesterday, the pain of my flashbacks or other PTSD-related pain is about a million times worse than any physical pain I’ve ever had. The other day she saw me, and I was barely able to walk because of undiagnosed rheumatological problems (I have been to the doctor several times to try to pin down why one day I can run a mile and others I have to army crawl to the bathroom).

I have used s/h when I saw no other options to reduce my pain/suicidality, or when after going through the most effective coping skills (for me), several times, I was still in intolerable pain. I am in no way glorifying my s/h behaviors, but as I said before, nor do I judge them. It was all I had at times when I was emotionally grasping at straws and knew that I didn’t want to permanently terminate my existence (even if it hurt so bad that I obsessed about it). Everyone who s/h’s does it for their own personal reason. This was mine.

I have not purposely taken any action against my body in 50 days as of today. It has not been easy or pretty as I have said several times elsewhere today. Am I proud? Yes. Has it been hell not resorting to self-abusive behaviors? Absolutely. I will gladly share some of my favorite coping skills in the next few days. But for today, I wanted to share a part of my journey to recovering from child abuse. And I also want a keychain, coin, or gold star to recognize my efforts to end my addiction to s/h. 😉 I cannot for certain say I will be able to continue to abstain from s/h as I continue in my recovery. But, I never thought I’d be able to abstain for a significant amount of time any time in the near future, and the 50 day mark is a pretty damned promising start.

Wishing you peace and safety this evening,

Joy

I was there (*Possible trigger*)

I was there when my mother dragged me down the street by my hair because I forgot my report card in the classroom.

I was there when she slammed my four year old body into the hard, unforgiving furniture soon after I had back surgery.

I was there when she extinguished cigarettes on my thighs.

I was there when she didn’t give me the amoxicillin during the week to cure one of my many childhood illnesses.

I was there when she neglected to feed me because she was anorexic, self-consumed, and otherwise mentally ill (NOS!).

I was there when I got the chicken pox and she went to the beach instead of caring for me.

I was there when she alternated beatings when I was 12 between the tv remote and telephone.

I was there when my 2 year old half-brother weighed a pound more than I did at 7 years old.

I was there when I blocked my faced when she beat me with objects and she told my grandparents I was hitting her.

**********

I could go on forever and a day on things that I was physically and emotionally “there for” when my mother had custody of me from birth to 8, and then again at 12 that are much darker and more painful in all ways than above. While I do have feelings about what she did, I don’t have feelings about her as an abuser. I seem to either have magically forgiven her or have dissociated away enough of the feelings to have an actual relationship with her.

She denies everything. She has conjured up lies to cover up what she did, why she lost custody, etc. “My father had more money”, “He had a better lawyer”, “They told so many lies”. “I went to boarding school,” seems to be her favorite excuse as to why I was not around during middle and high school. She’s not sorry. She honestly doesn’t think she did anything wrong. Every therapist and psychiatrist has excused her behavior because she “was under a lot of stress”, “was physically unwell”, “was molested by her two female cousins”, “my father was abusive to her” (they divorced when I was two), I could go on and on. If they saw her enough times, and/or diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and/or held her accountable for her actions she would discontinue seeing them.

And yet, here I am in Las Vegas sitting beside her visiting her for 2 weeks. I am 27 years old and I have essentially ignored my mother’s abuse. I am aware of the reason I even allow her in my life. I know that she loves me. She came back into my life about a decade ago; when I no longer needed parenting (for the most part), of course. It was easier for her then. Perhaps she was never meant to be a parent. Some people are not. She was 28 years old when she gave birth, and therefore, the same age as me when she became pregnant with me. She had no maternal instinct. The hospital wouldn’t even release my full-term 2lb. 11oz. self to her when I was born. I was in the NICU for the first month of my life despite the fact that I was 37 weeks. I was that weight because she apparently thought that maintaining her figure was more important than the life in her belly, and therefore gained only 11lbs. during her pregnancy.

For some reason when she was ready to return to my life as a parent, I welcomed her with timid, but relatively open arms. I suppose it is because I would welcome any nurturing, as I had tried to do my entire childhood (and part of my adulthood!) from any adult who would give it. My mom was thoughtful, honest, and became my confidante. She believes what my grandfather and father did to me; and wishes she could take away my pain. She blames herself for not protecting me, and that is the one thing she holds herself accountable for. I needed a mother for almost two decades, but I was willing to take what I could get. When it came to safe, nurturing, parental love: I was NOT willing to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Points With Purpose

A portrait is being created for 100,000 hand-drawn dots, each one representing a rape/sexual abuse survivor. Check out the site to see the progress of the portrait and/or to add yourself as a dot in the portrait as a survivor or supporter.

**You’re invited to be part of a photo shoot this Friday in NYC.**

As per the TWLOHA twitter account: Due to weather, NYC photo shoot has been moved to Friday (11/13). The plan is 1:30pm at Washington Square Park. Meet at the Arch!! You must contact TWLOHA in order to get the release form (nyc@twloha.com).

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Photo courtesy of TWLOHA Day 2009 via Facebook

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

To Write Love On Her Arms Day (a week from today, Friday, November 13, 2009)  is a day where anyone can write the words love on their arms, to support those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to recovering. I participated in this movement last year and it had some phenomenal results. Please join in the fight, whether it’s for your own life, or a loved one’s. As for me, I do it for both.
Jamie Talks Woodie Awards from To Write Love on Her Arms. on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

ForeverLove

I found the following very interesting article linked to VoiceinRecovery’s Twitter page. It is titled: One Word: Deconstructing Three-Hundred Years of Female Images by Carolina Medelin, a student at The University of Tampa. Following please find her intriguing piece:

“In 2004, Franco-Colombian feminist-activist Florence Thomas wrote a column on beauty pageants and the depiction of women. In her article, she only listed words. Nearly 5 years after, I can now understand what she meant. After seeing the way women were dressed during Halloween, I was inspired to write this. Sometimes, the right words are enough to describe the role women play in society nowadays. Only words. Those are my words; this is my protest.

1800’s. Home. Housekeeping. Marriage. Children. Father. Husband. Son. Corporal punishment. Marital Rape. No Voice. No Vote. No School. Financial dependence.
Submission? Submission.

Susan B. Antony. Elizabeth Cady Staton. Lucy Stone. Henry Blackwell. National American Women Suffrage Association.

1900’s. Work. Workforce. Job. Underpaid. Boss. ‘Men’s world’. School. College. ‘Not-like-men’. Pregnancy. Kids. Raising Kids. Leaving School. Leaving Work. Social Role. Social stigma. Miss. Mrs.
Submission? Discrimination.

Margaret Sanger. Birth Control. Right to Vote. Eleanor Roosevelt. Betty Friedan. The Feminine Mystique. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Divorce. Equal Pay Act. Title IX.
2000’S. Sex. Abortion. Object. Ads. Beer. Cars. Object. Body. Boobs. Ass. Legs. Hair. Image. Object. Mirror. Looks. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Barbie Doll. Object. Gym. Calories. Diet. Anorexia. Bulimia. Cigarettes. Object. Tight Pants. Short Skirts. Small Dresses. Object. High Heels. Make-Up. Sexual Image. Cosmopolitan. Sexual Object. Slut. Hook-up. Morning-After pill. Object. Temptation. Object. Eve. Apple. Eve. Object. Object. Object. Object.

Submission? Slavery.

When is our fight going to end? I want my dignity back.”

*****

Although I have a lot to say about this article from a women’s studies perspective, I feel compelled to share something more personal than the litany of things I could say about gender roles, etc. I found it particularly poignant that Ms. Medelin repeatedly referenced the word “object” in her description of the role of women in our new millennium. I feel like a sexual object, although no longer necessarily that of a man’s. I have always felt this way. It has less to do with the actual physical acts of sexuality than the fact that I do not exist unless I am part of another. I have an insatiable need to be desired sexually and for companionship, or I feel empty and without purpose. I have been struggling with this concept since I became aware of this incongruent belief about two years ago.

I am an intelligent woman, I have a delightful presence, warm & yet witty sense of humor [all of these are qualities I have been told, if they are true, it’s still hard for me to swallow]. I have a lot more to offer the world than simply my body. Yet, because of the incest I was victim to from age 3 until, I’m not sure when (thank you repressed memories-I both love you for protecting me and hate you for many other reasons), I feel as though my primary role in society is to give my body unto, whomever. I think it is tragic. At 27, I am trying to learn how to exist in my own skin. After several years of therapy (sans my parents!) which I started when I started medical school, I have come to finally accept that I do deserve the space I “take up” in a room (which isn’t so much physical space as much as intangible space needed for my personality if you’ve met me). I have learned to respect myself enough to establish boundaries with other people, friends, family, intimate partners alike–because I MATTER. I have at least a morsel of self-esteem. And, to be honest, it frightens me. Changing my definition in the world from silently suffering (and smiling) victim/pawn to my own person is a grand leap from the programming I was fed for a quarter of a century. So I sit here with tears streaming down my face because I am losing my  identity as “object” and actualizing into “person” who deserves self-respect, and I’m scared of my “newest label”.

Relationship Sabotage

This so reminds me of how I am in relationships. I’m like an intimate relationship sabotaging monster. I have gotten worse since my first abusive relationship. In the beginning, it was her who could’nt be pleased… and for whom nothing was good enough for. And…. now it’s me. =(

“Not Meant To Be” -Theory of a Deadman

It’s never enough to say I’m sorry
It’s never enough to say I care
But I’m caught between what you wanted from me
And knowing that if I give that to you
I might just disappear

Nobody wins when everyone’s losing

[Chorus:]
It’s like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do you’re always mad
And I, I can’t change your mind
I know it’s like trying to turn around on a one way street
I can’t give you what you want
And it’s killing me
And I, I’m starting to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be

It’s never enough to say I love you
No, it’s never enough to say I try
It’s hard to believe
That’s theres no way out for you and me
And it seems to be the story of our lives

Nobody wins when everyone’s losing

[Chorus]

There’s still time to turn this around
You could be building this up instead of tearing it down
But I keep thinking
Maybe it’s too late

[Chorus]

It’s like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do you’re always mad
And I, baby I’m sorry to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be