Archives for the month of: August, 2013

Dear little girl inside, everything is fine
We got through all the pain and even got to keep our minds
Sometimes we still get crazy, but not the way we used to
When the love that you know now is nothing you were used to
Sometimes you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself
And love You, that way you can teach anybody else
And if it’s pain that you were feeling, you release it till it stops
Or else it will get stronger and just beat you ’til you drop
You’re a lot smarter than you’re ever given credit for
Live like a simile, lessons are a metaphor
I hope one day you’re strong enough to break free from the cage
And that everything inside you is the reason I be great

— Angel Haze, This Is Me

In a bitter twist of irony, the six-month mark (or half anniversary) of my second rape, and the one-year-and-one month mark of my first rape is on my twenty-fourth birthday. As it approaches, I find myself thinking a great deal about how I’ve processed and recovered from all this up to this point. 

This summer hit a kind of slump point for me, in terms of my recovery. I felt numb, and the timing meant that many of my friends went away to visit their families, find jobs in other towns, or went on vacation. Even though it wasn’t meant that way, my trauma-addled brain could easily interpret that as being abandoned, So, in that time period, I picked up an insurmountable amount of bad habits which I am only know acknowledging and beginning to uproot. 

Among the most prominent are sulking and attention-seeking. I’d always been prone to being dramatic and expressive about my emotions, but sulking was the wrong kind of expressive action to pick up; rather than allowing me to clearly articulate what I desired and needed from the people I loved, sulking wrapped me in a bitter cocoon. All it did was further my self-created feelings of abandonment and isolation, by emotionally isolating me from people who loved me and wanted to help me. 

The other face of this poisonous behaviour was the attention-seeking. I still wanted to experience love, affection, and compassion from people I was close to, but, again, rather than articulating my loneliness and desire for contact and conversation, I engaged in attention-grabbing behaviours. Any attention, really, it didn’t matter what kind of emotions were attached to it, only that I had people’s eyes and focus on me. I still didn’t get the care and affection I needed, so I continued to lash out in these two ways. 

I’m recognizing that now, so I’ve been working on rebuilding healthy, helpful ways of seeking what I need from people. It can get all too easy to get caught up in bitterness, isolation, sorrow, and anger when you’re recovering from something as traumatic and painful as rape. I commend my loved ones and friends for being so patient with me as I cycled through this. But I want to take control of my own recovery, and that means acknowledging and fixing when my behaviour is self-destructive or counter-productive. I feel powerful knowing that I myself can take back the experiences and emotions which make me happy and feel good about myself. 

Today is is Black Ribbon Day, which mourns the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a clandestine agreement which allowed Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to violently and illegally seize all lands (and the people) situated between the two. This pact resulted in horrifying, deadly consequences for the people in nations such as Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Estonia and Finland.

Keep the lives lost in your hearts, and remember the terrible price associated with such disregard for the sovereignty and autonomy of these nations, and remember all victims of Nazism and Stalinism, who lost their lives, their livelihoods, their families, their dignity, their freedom, and other things those of us who didn’t go through that can’t even begin to articulate or imagine. 

It’s been a tough summer, folks. I’ve gone through a lot of suffering and a lot of pain, owing to my frustratingly slow recovery from sexual assault, dealing with the police, dealing with a collections company harassing me for not paying a bill from a hospital visit the first time I was raped, having an unplanned pregnancy end in a sudden miscarriage, frantically trying to keep my grades in summer courses from slipping, and dealing with financial trouble that’s left me with no money until my student loans come in in September.

This has left me, twenty-four days from school starting in the Fall, completely burned out. I don’t want to do advocacy. I don’t want to read books or papers. I don’t want to listen to the news, I don’t want to know what’s going on in my local community. I basically feel like the part of my brain and heart that cared about making the world a better place and had the drive to do so has completely shriveled up.

Lacking in money means that my options of mental hygiene routines are limited until September 4th. Mostly, I’ve been stimming ferociously, reading a great deal of pleasure reading from the library,  pinning pretty things to my Pinterest, taking long hot showers, writing in my journal, drawing pictures with markers and crayons, enjoying afternoon naps, engaging in cheap/free DIY beauty routines, and, when I get the resources to do so, baking treats. I’ve refrained from blogging too much, since I needed to save my long-term mental powers for surviving my class essays and projects.

Most important of all, I listened to my heart and mind to figure out the correct balance of needing loving support and care, and needing alone time for me to contemplate and work through my own emotional journey. I’ve had wonderful friends who have both given me space and let me come to them when I needed love and contact with another person.

In another two weeks, I will have time for a vacation from classes, homework, and tests before the new school semester starts. I’m going to spend it doing more of what I am practicing now, while slowly easing myself back into doing regular schoolwork. Part of the reason summer has been so difficult is that I’m in classes where I am out of my element, since summer course offerings are limited. As an autistic person, I feel much more at ease when I am in classes where I can really get excited about the material and can dive right into my passions for research and study. I feel that this will be a significant way of reconnecting with part of my “self” that has been somewhat neglected, but I want to do it correctly, so I don’t bite off more than I can chew. To prepare myself, I’ve been reading small offerings from my old courses, and doing recommended readings from scholars in my field, balanced with my pleasure reading.

I am also, obviously, getting back into regular blogging, slowly. My previous blog, which some of you may have followed, proved to not be the best place for honest self-expression, after some relatives of mine found it and took umbrage at my honesty about myself and my life experiences. So, I started this one to give myself a fresh chance at exercising one of my favourite forms of self-expression. But part of the damage I’ve experienced as a result of the trauma from sexual assault and the aftermath is doubting my ability to express myself with confidence and strength. So I refrained from blogging, because, in my darkest moments, I was convinced that I had nothing worthwhile to say or think any longer. But I am slowly working on regaining the confidence to write with honesty and conviction.

Above all else, I’ve also learned that I do not need to set a time limit for myself on when I am going to recover or what milestones I will reach as I take care of myself. I don’t have to be angry at myself, or guilty, or frustrated, for not recovering over the summer, or recovering by the time fall classes start, or recovering by the time I turn twenty-five next year. Taking the necessary time, space, and resources to get well is not indulgent and it is not wasteful, it is a method of survival, and I’m proud that I’m strong enough to take it for myself.