Can You Hear Me Now?

It has been a while since I have posted publicly to my blog. At times I feel it is best my thoughts remain private, but right now, I only feel I need my voice to be heard.

I don’t know how many tines I have written about the invisible terrors mental illness causes. I have probably spoken on this topic far more than I could count. One thing I often don’t talk about though sexual assault. Now for those who may be triggered or have a hard time reading about these types of things, I do encourage you stop now. I would never want anyone else to relive trauma.

Now, every form of abuse I have suffered still causes me problems in my life. This very specific form of abuse however hurts me in ways I can’t even comprehend.

I want to tell a brief story. There was a young man who came to my work place looking for a home. Now, to everyone else, he probably seemed normal. If anything, maybe he seemed to be a tad bit conceited. To me, he was different. This man’s personality, his actions, & his mannerisms flipped a switch in my head. In my mind, I have seen him before. Even though I probably had never actually met him, my mind knew him. My mind recognized his mannerisms and set off a warning alarm. My body’s fight or flight defenses turned on because all of a sudden, It wasn’t a stranger. This man wanted to hurt me, degrade me, rape me.

I don’t know him and he probably is an okay guy, but from past experiences, my mind and body thought this man was threatening. It pulled to mind gruesome memories and details that I never wanted to think. Now, do you want to know the worst part? It was noon and I still had to work six more hours before I could go home and cry.

One of the worst feelings a sexual assault victim can feel is degraded and unheard. My mind screams internally and my body feels numb. Those same describing words could be used to describe several of the sexual assaults I have survived. I’m fighting this deadly feeling and I can’t say a word.

Why don’t I say something? Well, times like these happen more often than I care to admit and if I said something every time, I would surely turn into the boy who cried wolf. That is why I stay silent. I keep quiet until I get to a time that my body produces a physical reaction: sobbing, yelling, convulsions, hair pulling, etc. I wait until this happens because I know people will see something is actually wrong. They will be able to hear me. They will be able to understand. It’s like my mind is screaming “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!?”

I hate living life like this. I’m in constant fear. I wonder if anyone can relate. My therapist suggested I get a doctors note so if I feel unheard, people will believe me. My everyday life consists of trying to stay calm and trying to remain normal. I practice many coping skills throughout the day just to function.

Sometimes it’s even worse after I go to therapy because it brings things up that I would rather ignore. I have been hurt too much and I’m mad that it’s able to control me. I’m mad it can hold me hostage. I’m mad it can take me away from my work. I’m mad that it effects my intimacy with my husband. My mind is mad and now it’s screaming at all the men who hurt me “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

That is why I wanted to make this public. I want people that know me, to hear me. I want them hear the silent screams for help. I want others who read it to relate or to hear others. Think of the four closest women to you. Now pick one. Statistically one in every four women are sexually assaulted in their lives. Let our voices be heard. Because sexual assault isn’t just a “me too” Facebook post and then let’s all forget. Sexual assault is a monster that devours its victims daily.

So this goes out to those who feel like they can’t be heard. And I ask those around me, can you hear me now?

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Nightmare

I closed my eyes only to see a monster staring back at me.

I have seen this monster before only not in my dreams.

His name is… Hell if I say his name; like Voldemort, it gives him power

My brain has a leach sucking my happiness, my joy

Like a mosquito in exchange filling me with an itch I can’t scratch

I scratch as hard as I can, I claw my brain until it’s left in shreds

You couldn’t tell with the naked eye that I’m at war behind my smile

Assaulted daily by my brain all because I was abused and raped and refused to speak until their was nothing left inside of me

It was all hidden in the nightmare of my brain

I wake and sleep ignoring the noose that is silently lurking by

I’m done I want to scream but I don’t because I’m not that person

Because I’m stronger damn it.

I’m stronger

Waging The War Behind My Face and Above my Throat.

The war for the brain is a fight that is hard to win. For starts, you are fighting your brain by using your brain. How do you fight off the flu using the flu? I’m my case, my mind is constantly under the control of a mafia of sorts. This mafia has one goal, to destroy and kill. The Mafia stand guard at all hours though anyone that saw me wouldn’t know it. Their favorite time to attack is when I’m alone or at night. They see quiet and darkness as their greatest ally. My brain can put up a fight, but after a while the attacks drain me. Imagine being stabbed in the shoulder and it starts to heal a little but then you get stabbed in the shoulder again, over and over, and this open wound never has a chance to fully heal so it begins to fester and get infected. Now the simple stitches won’t work and you need to find medication and refuge to stay away from that damn man that keeps ripping your shoulder back open. The thing about the brain is no one can see the wound, no one knows what’s happening with it, and there is absolutely no way to turn off your brain. Trust me I have tried. I could sleep 18 hours a day to avoid thinking; to avoid feeling. I could distract myself for hours but the second I’m alone, the second I try to take a breath, I’m being attacked in all directions. Depression is not some “oh I’m sad, just get over it” Depression is a war. I’m not fighting sadness. I’m fighting a battle that has left me as good as dead This mafia will not give in until either they are destroyed or I am destroyed. Am I’d be a fool to say this is easy, but I’d also be a fool to give in to the fight. Not this time. No, this time, I have far too much to live for.

Behind the Lens

One thing I often like to do is look at old pictures. Sometimes photos are dug out of old shoe boxes at my parents house. Often, I scroll through the abundance of photographs that I have been tagged in throughout the years on Facebook. Every single photograph captures just a second of time. Often, the photographs fails to capture the complete picture. Only those in the photo could recount the tails that that photo shines a light into.

There are a few photos that captured my attention today that drew me to write about them. One picture I found was of me sitting in a lawn chair at a bbq. In one hand I held my cell phone, the other rested in my lap. I was dressed in bright yellow Sofie shorts and a tee shirt I had cut the side off of. I was smiling bright at the camera. To any other eyes I probably look fine. To my eyes, the girl in the picture is far from what her happy face portrays. Her eyes are drooping slightly and her face is slightly swollen. The shirt is covering scratches and her head was pounding. That’s because that girl in that picture, was raped the night before. Too scared to admit it and to dumb to realize, I let life go on after that day. I did everything I could to pretend I was fine. This photo captured more than my smile on that summers day.

The next picture fast forwards a few years. I was dressed to the nines for a date. The selfie I took captured only what I can describe as a deceiving beauty. I looked flawless but on the inside, a certain depression and turmoil was working its way into my system. I was just about to begin what I will forever refer to as my rock bottom. The date I went on was out of a desperate need to fulfill a hole in my heart. A hole no man could ever fill. In the following weeks I was abused, used, and almost killed. That smiling face won’t tell you that. No, it can’t, but that picture is one that could tell so many stories.

The next picture I noted, is one that was taken of me almost two years ago. I was sporting sunglasses and my hair was flowing in the wind. My smile was almost as bright as my outfit. I was content. That’s because the photographer was the man I’m about to marry. It was taken right before we left on our first official date. He thought I just looked stunning, though I remember not feeling like it at the time. His face lit up when he looked at me and I can only image mine doing the same with him. This picture reveals so much healing, joy, and love. I look at this picture and my heart skips a beat at how beautifully orchestrated our love story is. How God placed this man in my life at just the right time. I see how caring, loving, and forgiving he is. This picture speaks volumes. It not only tells me where I’ve been, but it also tells me where I’m am headed. I’m not an old photograph. I’m not the same person I was in an old photograph. No, I am a new beautiful God-Fearing woman. I have one hell of a story to tell but only to show that healing is possible even if it’s not liner. No picture can capture who I am or who I was, but each picture gives part to a story. And my story may be broken and bent, but my story also has a healer. My story ends not with one man, but two. Jesus forgave my sins and gave me the ultimate second chance, Jerimiah mirrors Christ’s love for me every day. So my happily ever after has already began.

For What It’s Worth

When faced with ones own mortality, the mind tends to reach for something or someone to hold on to.  Now, I’ve stood face to face with death a few times now and I can honestly say, each time, the piece of life I was holding on to, the piece I was going to miss the most, was constantly changing.

Now as I sit back and ponder the fragility of life I feel as if I have a collection.  The hands of my mind hold close together as they are filled now with marbles of meaning. Each marble is a different size and color, but every marble is something that is priceless to me in this life.  These things are what make life worth living.

Now I ponder how the berevity of life effects each and every living being.  We all will, one day, face our deaths.  Movies and Books try to play out immortality as if it’s achievable. Worse yet, they glorify it as if living in this broken world forever would be a great thing.  Now I know that there is an eternity with God.  I also know that there is a much worse eternity.  But I also know that in this reality we face a certain death. Regardless, I still must hold on to this life, these marbles, while I’m here in this reality.

Recently, I was reminded of my mortality. This time, it was out of my hands.  I’m not sure how long this life has for me.  Nobody really does.  I could live another 70 years or I could die tomorrow.  But when I hear something that truely makes me look my life and death straight in the eye, I realize that this is always there.  My death, my mortality, is always lingering over me whether I am consciously thinking about it of not.  And if I truly want my last moments to be filled with meaning and perpous, I know that I have to live every single day like it’s my last… no not skydiving or traveling, but truly catering to the things I am most passionate about.  Because I won’t be on this earth forever, but maybe I can make an impact that will. And for what it’s worth, I’d rather live a short life filled with tons of meaning, than a long life wasted on selfishness. 

Nameless

I want to share with you a little story. Before I start, I will tell you about the events of my day. I went to work and slept for 7 hours when I got home. I ate dinner and finished a painting.  Now I’m going to sleep again.  Think in your head now about that day.  What about that day sounds good? How about bad? What in the day seems out of the ordinary? 

Have you thought about it? If so, here is my story.  Once upon a time a very lost and broken nameless woman found finally found peace. She began doing things that helped her move forward in life. She grew in her love for God and others. She fell in love and got engaged. Everything in her life was beginning to be normal for the first time in a long time. What did normal look like? Well, it meant being semi-social. It meant not thinking about suicide.  It meant holding a steady relationship.  It meant working hard and liking work.  

Slowly, however, she started to question the normality in her life.  She wondered how long she could keep it up. Soon she felt things start to overwhelm her.  She couldn’t be at home without being overwhelmed with thoughts of good, bad, and even meoncholy things. Her brained never stopped working.  It made her physically sick.  Soon the things she once enjoyed in life solely became distractions from the chaos in her mind.  She would work as many hours as she could to not just earn money, but keep her mind distracted.  When she wasn’t working she would sleep to turn off her mind. When she couldn’t sleep she would distract herself by planning her wedding, or painting, or doing her makeup, or taking a shower. She would do whatever it too to stop her mind. Soon she began to wonder what the point of it all was. Soon she began to question her point in reality. She began to question the point of life.

And soon, this girl who thought she had began to defeat depression, was now overwhelmed with a sorrow that encompassed her whole body. Every nerve in her body was in excruciating pain.  She would sob uncontrollably for no reason other than she wanted turn off her brain.  She would die if she knew she wouldn’t be leaving those she loved behind. She knew she had a future, but she feared her future would look like this. 

This nameless girl is one you may know very well. I’ll bet you though, that I know her better. And this story though written in the third person, is the true story of how I have fallen back into depression. I wrote this today as my fiancé reminded me that sometimes the best way for me to get things out of my mind is to write them down. So I’ll admit, I’m sick in the brain. But as a quote from my favorite band that is tattooed on my arm would say, “Our brains are sick, but that’s okay.”

Am I Strong Yet?

I try to forget.  I’m often quite good at pretending it all never happened.  I’m so completely and utterly satisfied with my life right now, I don’t want to take the time to remember everything I have been through to get me here.  It’s Woman’s Day and I as a woman want to say some things that I believe are important for people to know. 

Women tend to be inherently labeled as weak. While tons of examples can be given of strong women, I want to give you all my personal example.  First, let me give you some information about me.  I’m emotional; I cry about everything. I once cried because I wanted Taco Bell in the middle of the night.  I also cry about important things, like losing someone close to me.  I’m silly.  I joke and laugh.  I love makeup because it makes me feel pretty.  Do I sound like a strong woman to you?

Most people only see what’s on the surface and don’t want to learn about the real stuff.  So here is why I am strong.  I was abused physically and sexually for two years and never told a soul and lived my life as if everything was okay.  I did deuga so I could feel loved.  I was raped on multiple occasions.  I tried to kill myself on multiple occasions as well.  I spent the better of two years in hospitals.  I went to strangers homes to engage in sexual intercourse with them putting myself in dangerous situations.  I had to stop going to school because I couldn’t make it out of bed.  Do I sound strong now?

No? Well what if I told you I have been out of the hospital for almost a full year now. That I have a wonderful fiancé whom I love and we love with a mutual respect.  What if I said I have been holding a steady job that I have been thriving in even when it’s hard to get out of bed.  What if I told you I’m happy and taking the right medications so I can stay this way.  What if I said I fought the hardest fight to stay alive and now I’m alive and encouraging others to stay alive.  What if I told you I am no longer a slave to my insecurities or fears.  What if I said people around me joke about rape, suicide, and drug use and I’m able to remain hopeful in the fact that I have overcome.  I can be ridiculed and called names and it doesn’t bother me one bit because I know where to find my worth. What if I told you I have forgiven those who hurt me and I pray for them daily.  Am I strong yet?

The thing about strength is it looks different to everyone.  I feel strong knowing I survived.  Women like me are everywhere and they all have their own story to tell. Celebrate women by celebrating the fact that they are overcomers. It’s hard to remember, but I will never let myself forget.