This is for HER
My soul has been yearning to write. I realize that who I am as a person finds great comfort, happiness, and fulfillment in processing my thoughts and sharing them. That doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me. And i'ma tell you right now--this will be long. EVERYTHING I ever write will be long. I refuse to ever apologize for that again, because I LOVE long, detailed, raw, and REAL story. If you don't? NBD. Ain't gotta read it. But I can say with confidence that if you do it will be worth it. I refuse to downplay my gifts and loves anymore, rather to lean into my love of writing and the truth that so often it is a gift to others. Embracing that and honoring that is true humility, not thinking I am a piece of shit who made your day gross by writing something while simultaneously hoping that somehow you'll like it and I won't have to think I am such a piece of shit anymore. Which, FWIW, I have learned never goes away no matter how much positive outside feedback I get. It has to come from within.
I kept thinking I needed to be able to get my laptop and have the physical and mental capacity to write the way I used to--every thought just spilling out on to virtual paper. I haven't been able to do that. I keep trying and I just can't because my physical pain makes it impossible. But I realized, thanks to a sweet friend, that I am probably in the upper 1% of humans who can handle looooooooong ass messages on my phone, so why not write here on the SquareSpace Blog App on my iPhone? I may not have the same control over features (it's so much more finicky on mobile) and routine that I liked but this is me, where I am, right now, feeding my soul. I am in my jetted bathtub--that my husband had to run for me because even that is beyond my capabilities at the moment--and my fingers are starting to numb because that is what they do now. But I am starting.
So let me catch you up. As I shared last October, my childhood was very traumatic. There are things I didn't share that compound the parts I did. But I always thought I was fine, one of those lucky people who just wasn't emotionally affected by my past. Like, yes, it was wrong and I learned lessons but I wasn't broken.
But something was wrong. I had a dreamy first pregnancy but by my third the majority of it was spent on complete bed rest. I ate well but never felt better nor did I ever lose weight. Any attempts at exercise made me incredibly sick. If I did ten gentle squats with careful form I couldn't walk for the next 4-5 days. And I just felt like crap constantly. Like when you have only slept for 3-4 hours a night for 6 months and you feel like you are bent so far backward and upside down that at any moment you'll just break. We kept adjusting meds for my autoimmune hypothyroidism and even when the levels in my blood increased I felt no different. My sleep was atrocious and impossible to come by and the number of OTC pills I was trying just kept increasing to minimal effectiveness. I could go on but you get the picture.
I had lived like this, on a descending trajectory, for about 5 years but just figured it was because I was fat and I wasn't trying hard enough. I thought that I deserved it because I used to eat like a little piggy so these were the just consequences. And TBQH, I have blamed every physical--and many emotional--ail on being fat and just fucking over my metabolism in my 20s.
Then in November-ish I discovered a book called The Body Keeps the Score* wherein the premise is that regardless of the mind's response the body does not forget trauma. So while I felt mentally fine my body was carrying every single instance of trauma and storing it. And suddenly so many medical mysteries made sense. Why I can't lose weight. Why I don't feel any different if I drink loads of caffeine. Why medications and vitamins rarely make a discernible difference in how I feel, no matter the effect they have on levels that can be tested in my blood. And why any attempts at diet or exercise cause my body to go into extremely high stress mode and I get sicker, feel worse, and the only satisfaction I get is mental...though that fades quickly when I feel worse and see no positive results.
And honestly it probably explains why I can gain 4 pounds overnight when I go to a party and just eat my baggie of baby carrots and yet lose four pounds when I say fuck it and eat a cheeseburger and fries. Additionally, this explains why NOTHING has fully worked. Not gastric bypass though I kept every rule--after 110 pounds lost (from 376) my body said, "Oh hell no," and basically plateaud for 4 months. This is why I lost 50 pounds quickly on Ideal Protein and then, again, my body said, "Nope," and I got incredibly dizzy and ill (and eventually uncovered the Hashimoto's disease). And it is why I never felt better, and got so much worse from the stress of all the rules and meal preparation, when I strictly followed Whole 30 and a "Whole Foods" nutritionist's intense diet plan. And sadly, in nearly every situation I was either told flat out that I was lying about how carefully I was keeping the diet, or treated with code red levels of suspicion. And deep down I just figured they were right, and so I tried the next thing and worked my ass off, only my actual ass got bigger and I felt even more awful at yet another failure.
But after reading a few chapters of TBKTS so much made sense. My body has lived in extreme stress mode for 35 years; that kind of intense hormonal and neurological stress does not a healthy, responsive body make for any length of time, but especially not a literal lifetime. And so I decided to pursue therapy/counseling and began in February. I seriously thought that maybe if I talked out loud about my past it would help my body feel less stressed and I would simply get better. Well, I hoped for that, though I was scared to hope because I have tried harder than ANYONE I have ever met to be healthy and NOTHING ever works.
Welp, I kinda got my wish. Therapy broke so much loose. I found out I am textbook dissociative. That basically everything happening in my body has happened to countless others with trauma like mine and victims of incest in particular have been scientifically proven to have much higher incidences of autoimmunity in adulthood, down to immune response levels in their blood, typically presenting in their 40s.
I'll likely delve deeper into these things eventually because I am reaching my limit talking about the specifics. But what has happened in the last few weeks is that I have found out that my abuse was so much worse than I remembered--the aforementioned Alive post was as honest as I knew regarding the incidences of sexual abuse. But now there are things my mom has shared plus just a sense of knowing that there are dark, black things that I could not bear to remember. So, my mind protected me. But my body took the brunt of everything, and finally couldn't keep up the fight anymore.
As such, my physical condition has deteriorated rapidly. Every issue is exacerbated and new ones have presented. And I have story surrounding this that I want to tell, so I will, but for now it's enough to say that I am far, far sicker, to the point that I am essentially bed- or recliner-ridden at all times other than the bare minimum appointments I need to keep so our family can function.
And, being real with you, I am an emotional fucking wreck. It is HORRIFYING to live your whole life thinking you knew the worst things done to you and then to have your entire paradigm toppled into its head and smashed into a million pieces. Because as certain nightmares I have had make sense when my mom explains, "Oh, well remember when this happened?" and I don't remember but in my soul I know that event is exactly why I have this recurring nightmare? Suddenly other recurring nightmares get a whole lot more terrifying because what they may be attached to is just fucking scary. And how I operate is I HATE not knowing. I hate not knowing my own life. And yet it is so awful that I could remember some forms of rape, that I thought were the worst incidences, but apparently blocked others.
So on top of a whole lot of the physical ailments I now have PTSD, intense anxiety, am experiencing triggers, and other stuff I am too tired to remember and list out right now.
All that to say this: this is hard. Hard doesn't do it justice. It is excruciating. Our life with 3 kids, autism, and what now feels like was mild health issues was pretty intense. Now it all is a million times worse. I don't know how we aren't just imploding. This is the fucking hardest thing I have ever had to do and goddamn if it isn't fair. I suffered through so much, and now this? My children have to suffer? My husband has to bear the agony of the wife he loves more than anything ever in his life being completely crushed over and over and over? And do 90% of all the things that have to get done to make a family work? It is not fucking fair. It just isn't.
BUT. There is also beauty in this. Gory, ugly death that I know will bring life. And so I keep pushing on. In part for my kids and husband, because I refuse to give up on me for their sake. I know that how we rise up together through this will make us fiercely loving and united in ways with which an easier path could never even contend.
You know what else, though?
Look at this little girl.
LOOK AT HER.
That beautiful little girl is being raped repeatedly by her daddy. She feels constant friction and tension with, even unwanted by, her mom. Her daddy also mindfucks her and tells her she is his possession and he does whatever he pleases with her; he tells her this is the greatest act of love she'll ever know. But when she angers him he beats her; at this point he already has so violently once that she needed stitches and her scared mom had to make her lie to the hospital staff who attended to her.
And her life is going to get worse. An ugly divorce, and one that spirals her family into poverty. A court system that drops the charges and doesn't believe what happened to her, even though she told the truth. Far more intense and wounding and traumatic physical and emotional abuse. Seeing her mom spiral because she can't protect her children from this monster whom she once thought she would spend her entire life with. Seeing drug abuse basically daily. Bullying at school for all of these things completely out of her control.
She'll have her sense of self-worth constantly beat down into the underneath where she truly believes she is simply an unlovable person who deserves all of the ugliness heaped over her time and again. What else could make sense? And, because he got away with it the first time her daddy, the one person she thought really did love her but was just sick with regards to appropriate sexuality, will hurt her so badly that her mind will decide it never happened and lock it away. So much more pain and ugliness and abuse--including god awful spiritual abuse time and again when she reaches adulthood--awaits this precious little girl. Her suffering will be such that it will be a marvel that she isn't dead by 20.
I can't go back and save her. God, I wish I could. I wish I could be her mama and tell her how incredibly precious and beautiful she is, how the world is simply a more spectacular and wondrous place because every day she wakes up and lives in it. I wish she could have the safety and love that my Juliet has.
I can't do that.
What I can do is honor that all that sweet little girl endured, embrace that all of it is what made me me.
And I can fight for her by fighting for me. Love her by loving me. Tenderly care for her by tenderly caring for me. Be patient with her by being patient with myself.
I get the powerful choice to make her life that she endured one worth living. To make the scars from the chains that enslaved her to an oppressive brand of Christianity--and beat the shit out of her already battered spirit--a reminder that now she is free.
Today I choose, for that beautiful little girl and for myself, to live alive. and free.
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