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?


Raise a Glass to Change

Have you ever looked back a year or two and thought about all that has changed? I think a lot of people do this.  Some see change for the good, others for the worse.  Ragardless, change is bound to happen with time.  Noticing change as it happens harder to recognize.  Usually it happens so slowly, or so suddenly, our brains don’t even process that a change has taken place.  It’s only when you look back that you can see a full picture. 

In the age of Facebook and the newer feature “memories” looking back and see everything that has changed has gotten a bit easier.  I usually look at my post from 7 years ago and shiver in disgust at the annoying teenager I appeared to be.  Facebook mainly captures such shallow memories, however, that it is harder to see any real, valuable changes.  Of course I was annoying 7 years ago.  I was an immature high school senior who thought she knew everything. Of course I have matured since then.

We all mature in different ways.  Our mental ability to navigate in this world usually grows.  Social cues and behavioral norms usually become more learned as we grow older.  Today, I saw a type of change in my life that is a harder one to see.  My regular therapist was recently blessed with a baby boy, so I was placed with a temporary one until she comes back from her leave.  Luckily, the person I was today was a familiar face.  The woman who walked through the doors to call me to her room was recently hired into the office I go to.  Before that, she was finishing her PHD while interning at the inpatient mental health center of Holland Hospital.  How do I know this? Well, she worked there during the many months that I spent during the very dark days of my life.  

Today all of those memories of suicide attempts, addiction, horrible abuse flashed through my mind.  I thought for sure that this is what she would remember me for.  I wasn’t wrong about that, she sure did remember that woman in which she did psych evaluations on and even a case study.  She didn’t treat me like that woman though.  She knew I wasn’t who I was a year ago.  Through our conversation, simply by telling her what’s happening in my life now, she was able to show me how much progress I have made.  She revealed to me the true extent to how much I have changed.

I expressed to her me fears of becoming that woman again. I told her how I didn’t want to fall back into a deep depression. I ranted about the fears I have of the mania that may consume me and turn me back into an addict or worse.  She showed me again, how much has changed.

Since stepping back into real life I have been able to build a life worth living.  That is a life that I don’t want to end.  That is a life that I don’t want to manipulate and destroy.  It’s a life I want to live until completion. I have so much to live for. My family, friends, job, passions, and dreams are all so important to me now.  More than ever, I want to succeed.  I want to help others succeed. 

Today, I had a glimpse of my old self and realized how much I and my situation has changed.  I have worked so hard over this past year and for the first time, I can say it has payed off and I’m proud.

So raise a glass to change.  In this life, we will live.


Dear Addiction,

I don’t love you anymore.  My life has been revolving around you for far too long.  The moment I saw you, I was tempted by the look in your eye. At the first kiss of my lips I was captivated.  You brought me into your world and echanted me with all of your riches. When I was with you, I felt the whole world was at my finger tips.  You made me happy, you made me smile, you fulfilled me.  Until you left.  When you were gone I was lost.  All I could think about was you.  I wanted to feel your warm embrace.  I needed you to make me happy, without you I was lost. So I found you again.  You welcomed me back, this time with a heavy hand.  The riches you gave were just an illusion. The joy I felt was fake.  Your smile was filled with lies.  The eyes of a used car sales man with a mask on. You captured me, but cheated me out of true happiness.  The longer I was with you, the stronger your hold.  You held me captive with your strong arms.  When I finally left you, you wee all I could thing about.  Inception took place in my mind.  I close my eyes and I dreamed of you.  I remembered everything you had to offer. I almost forgot how you destroyed my life.  Once I was free, I would still think of you. I’d think maybe if I went back I wouldn’t have to stay long.  I knew that’s not how you function though. You prey on those who are weak.  You infect them with a craving that only you can satisfy. Then you steal everything they have until they are left with a life without dignity.  I hate you.  You stole so much from me that I can never get back.  I am stronger though.  I have overcome your flirtatious stare; I reject your promise of great things.  You no longer control my life.  I am the author of my story and I left you in the last chapter. So here I say it, dear addiction,  I will not let you hold me again.