Thursday, May 27, 2010

energy conservation

I'm a big fan of conserving energy, I really am. I have my computer and printer plugged in via a power strip that I turn off when I'm not using it; I unplug my cell phone charger, fan, and lights when I leave every morning so no extra electricity is getting sucked out.

But I'm an even BIGGER believer in conserving emotional and mental energy.
Think of the last time you were completely mentally or emotionally exhausted and were left feeling a little used up and unhappy. Was it because of someone you spent time with? Was it the evening news? Was it a crappy conversation with That Really Bitter Co-worker? (C'mon, we all have one, and if we're self-employed it's probably our cat.)

What if we could conserve our energy in another way? You see, when I wrote a few weeks back that there were big changes coming in my life, I didn't just mean confronting one person. I meant changing the way I deal with everyone and everything. And yes, progress is small, because it's supposed to be - the only change that sticks is the change you make one day at a time, one step at a time. Anything bigger or more radical and you end up bouncing right back to where you started, because that's just not how people work. (Not for my lack of trying, rest assured.)

Lemme give you an example: I have a lovely friend named Sara. Actually, she's my friend because she's dating one of my ex-boyfriends, but that just means her fabulous taste in men is yet another thing we have in common. Anyways, Sara is a lot like me - feisty, opinionated, and likes to be caught up on political and current events.

So there's this asshole douche-bag somewhere out there in the blogosphere who is claiming that men raping women is merely "equalization" - that, because women have affirmative action, the violation of womens' bodies is merely equalizing the power shift and that men should not be condemned for such actions.

Well, you can guess Sara's reaction as, oh I don't know, a member of the human race, unlike this piece-of-work blogger who probably climbed up from the same primordial ooze as the Westboro Baptist Church, those classy kids who protest at the funerals of military servicemen and servicewomen because God hates the United States due to the fact that we haven't branded The Gays and locked them up in concentration camps yet. (I think the question What Would Jesus Do? is a tad hypothetical at this juncture.)

The truth is, a couple weeks ago I would have been right there with my friend, all offended and worked up and pissed off and wanting to give this guy a piece of my mind (and no, I'm refusing to link to his blog, I will NOT give this guy more blog traffic)...

but I didn't care. It was energy conservation at its finest. He wasn't worth my time or energy. This blogger's point, coming from a place of ignorance and a button-pushing attention-whoring, was deemed unworthy of even the slightest glance backwards. I didn't read the blog my friend linked to. I just simply told her that it wasn't worth it for her to even pause in her life for a millisecond to get worked up about it.

This is evolution, my friends. Evolution of an attitude and perspective shift that is so powerful it can take the smallest moments and make them victories. We don't have to throw any more emotion than we want at people or places or events. We get to choose - that's why we're adults.

When I told my therapist about this incident, she clapped with such an amount of force and glee that somewhere in Neverland entire hives of faeries probably came back to life.

Conserving energy works the opposite way as well - sometimes the world is a bad and scary place. Instead of standing in the face of what is wrong in the world and freaking out at it... why don't we just turn on a light? Doesn't it take less energy to light one tiny little candle than it does to curse the darkness?

So here's where I turn the microphone to you guys, and you can answer anonymously if you want (it's not just for leaving snarky comments with no repercussions! Who would have thought!) - Do you have something, or someone, in your life that takes a lot of emotional energy out of you and leaves you feeling kind of crappy? If so, what can you do about it? I wanna hear all about your own efforts at energy conservation - because I'm digging how much happier this is making me and I can't help but want to share. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

speaking of nothing to do with that

(photo credit: I stole it from here, a website that has some of the yummiest visuals I've ever found)

Over the past week or so I've been feeling all sorts of love from you guys - for which I am truly, truly grateful. You have no idea (or maybe you do) what it means to put something really vulnerable about yourself out there for the blogosphere to weigh in on and have so many supportive, purely fantastical people jump on board with the warm and fuzzy and insightful comments.

I'd say about 5% (on bad days, maybe 10%) of me is defined by what has happened to me in the past, and the other 90-95% of me and my crazy life is defined by what I love the most - exploring Los Angeles, being outdoors, humiliating myself in front of ten year olds, spending time with my friends and family, learning knife and sword fighting, acting and modeling, having hilarious conversations with my mom, dressing up like only nerds do, and taking photographs, just to name a few. And, of course, blogging about all of it and reading your guys' blogs too.

I know the last few posts have set a different tone for my blog and while I'm nothing but gratified with my decision to do so, I don't want to spend the rest of the time I have with this blog dwelling in the past; nor do I want to move ahead with it by pretending I never wrote about the challenges I've overcome. The balance is in there somewhere and although I've always been more than slightly crappy about finding balance in my life I'm trying my hardest to do so with this blog. I want to keep it uplifting and inspiring while not shying away from the days when I am crumpled on the bathroom floor and not having the best time of it ever. I want to keep my blog authentic and honest and not lie when I'm in a great mood or lie when I'm in a terrible mood. Most of all, I want you guys to turn to this blog because you know that whether I'm doing well or doing not so well, I'm gonna respect you and treat you as a friend who just asked how I was doing - and I'm never gonna simply answer, "Fine."

How's that sound? :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

to love and to be loved...

One of the comments that struck me the most when I wrote "Riot Proof" was Eric's. You can go back and read it if you want but the gist of it was how hard it is to be a man in love with a woman who is a survivor of sexual violence. I don't really think that these men get enough credit for how hard their job is - to love someone who has been so deeply hurt and betrayed in such a physical way. So I'm writing this post for those men.

This one's for you, Eric.

The first thing to know, guys, is that you aren't the doctor OR the wound; you're the nurse. This means that whatever is going to get healed, it's the woman's job to heal. You cannot heal her wounds - she must learn to heal and to find her own power and strength again. If you do that for her it's not going to work. Trust me on this one - I spent a good couple boyfriends putting any hope I'd ever feel normal again on them. So not fair.

As much as guys long to fix and save the women they are with, women who are survivors have to learn to rely on themselves. So, guys, you're not the doctor who heals a patient - you're the nurse who can make things better by listening when she tells you what hurts, being supportive, and assisting with the first-aid when there's an emergency.

Nor are you the cause of your partner's wounds. She might try to make it seem that way - but no, not all men are equal, and you loving her and wanting to be intimate with her does not make you a lecherous, insensitive dickhead. It makes you human with a pulse. Congratulations.

The two things I hear the most from guys who are with women who are survivors are: 1) Why can't I fix it, and 2) I feel really, really guilty for wanting to have sex with her.

I've already addressed #1. It's not your job to fix her, heal her, or save her. It really, REALLY isn't. She's on her own path towards recovery and you don't have to carry her down that path; just hold her hand like she's your equal, not your project. She's not the bathroom tub. She's a living, human being who might be a little chipped and cracked here and there but she is not broken. (I am of the opinion that it is physically impossible to break the human spirit.)

#2 is harder. When you love someone, madly, deeply, Shakespeareaningly (totally coining that word), you want to be close. You want to be intimate and you want to feel like the two of you are the only two people in the entire world, regardless of how thin the walls of your apartment may or may not be. I get it. I've been there.

It's important to remember that when you're dating someone who has had sex turned on them as a weapon, to be used for the purposes of control, power, anger, or force, instead of love - that you have to start over from the beginning. You have to give these women intimacy in the form of love, kindness, gentleness, patience. You get to show how unalike some men really are from others. For this reason I advocate cuddling like there is no tomorrow. And guys, I mean cuddling with no expectation of sex ever happening. Cuddling while watching television, cuddling while reading books with each other, cuddling while eating ice cream. Cuddling while paying the bills. Whatever.

For a girl to simply be held, with no expectation of sex, is to feel safe and loved. It is a huge, huge step for girls who have been violated in the worst way to feel safe in your arms. And it's an incredible turn on. Try it sometime - and this is for everyone, including women - try just holding your partner in your arms and brushing your fingers through their hair and nuzzling their neck and telling your partner that it's not about this ultimately resulting in sex, it's about being in love and showing how much love there really is.

It's a game-changer in a relationship, it really is. And it breaks the spell. Because here's where the pain of what happened really lives: that a woman at some point or another cannot always distinguish between the people who have hurt her and the people who mean her no harm. It's not always clear in our heads; sometimes everything is gray and everyone is suspect. And we feel horrible that we can't see the difference between our predators and our partners. But that's not your fault, guys. And if you stay patient, if you listen, if you love us the way we need to be loved, everything can change.

I'm living proof. As are a lot of my friends.

Monday, May 17, 2010

the kids are alright

I know that last week I wrote a deeply personal post about what I'm going through right now and then just sort of left people hanging - I didn't mean that to be the intention, but sometimes, when something FINALLY gets out of your system, you just sort of sit back and let the arrows hit what they must. As a result of my post my family is now going through some pretty dramatic changes, none of which I feel the least bit sorry about. It was change that needed to happen because it was the sort of change that happens when the truth is revealed, and too many families with experiences similar to mine drown under the weight of what is not being said, what will never be said.

A couple people emailed to ask how I was doing, and my very honest answer is: I'm doing great. I'm doing better than great. I feel freer than I have in ages. And I have many of you, both my personal and blogger friends, to thank for that, as your support and love and kindness and understanding has traveled through the wires and onto the keyboard and into my heart. Thank you, each and every one of you: thank you so much.

Although I would like to ask some of you who called me amazing and incredible and strong and beautiful that you know I once closed the refrigerator door on my head, right? Right then, moving along. Nothing to see here.

Some of your comments were so incredible, in fact, that I am writing another post in a few days just so I can directly address them. But I wanted to write a quick "Hi, I'm alive and well" post first so y'all didn't worry.

Before I take off, quick anecdote on how to tell if you're an A-Type like me:

I got food poisoning late Saturday night (did you know that you're not supposed to eat a bleu cheese burger with mayo after it's been left in a hot car for four hours? Why didn't anyone tell me this? Sometimes I'm such a guy) and as I'm leaning over the toilet, knowing that I'm about to lose my stomach any minute, I notice...

...that my toilet is way too dirty to throw up in. So (and I am not making this up), I grab the toilet brush and promptly scrub down my toilet and then clean the seat with some moistened toilet paper to get it all pristine-

- before promptly throwing up in it. A girl's gotta have standards, people.

I'm feeling much better now!

Tracy: 1 Mayo: 0.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

riot proof

Well, here we are.

Apologies to all of you who, when I wrote that I was prepping for some serious change in my life last week, were thinking, ooh, haircut, yeah! while I was thinking more along the lines of ooh, unveiling my emo drama that I don't even talk to my closest friends about...yeah.

I'll just come right out of the gate with the fact that I'm much, much, MUCH better now.

I came to a realization a few weeks ago that I was Very Not Okay. I suppose you want the back story; I suppose you want to ride along with me on the journey. That's okay, today I can do that. Not many days can I let myself take people's hands and say let me show you all of it, the whole big mess, but today is different and the sun is shining and last night I fell asleep feeling brave. Today I have strength enough to outshine the stars.

I am a victim survivor of sexual molestation. It started when I was young, very young, long before I knew what words to call it but the wrongness of it still settled in my tiny body and troubled my small heart. It continued on and off during my teenage years with a relative of mine, until my situation changed and that relative no longer had the same amount of access to me. It took me until my freshman year of college to call it by its true name and start learning to take the anger and numbness that had built inside me like a wall and start dismantling it, brick by grieving brick, and turn it into tears. It took this girl physically taking me by the hand my senior year of college, after three years of public meltdowns and panic attacks and nightmares, to get me professional help. Lira, thank you. You saved my life.

I am not on any medication. I exercise 2-3 times a week to keep the darkness at bay. Most of the time the endorphins are enough. Sometimes they are not.

I have confronted my abuser, who is now getting on in years. Each time I tell him what he has done, he is humbled, he apologizes, he says he is a changed man, and that he is deeply shamed. I do not doubt the genuineness of his remorse, but what I doubt is the capacity for this man to change. For here is where it all goes even more wrong.

Each time we have a conversation where I inform him of what he has done to me and then politely and respectfully ask him for the only thing I have ever asked of him in my entire life - to simply be left alone to live my life in peace - a couple months of silence go by. And then the phone calls, emails, and letters resume. Why aren't we talking? they all beg. What did I do wrong?

Turns out, this person wipes their memory clean of any conversation we had regarding what was done to me. I relive, again and again, my loss of innocence while my abuser conveniently forgets what part he played in it. Again and again, we did our hellish dance, abuser and survivor, me reminding him, him apologizing, then him forgetting and picking up right where he left off, trying to get me back into his life, the never-ending persistence of phone calls and heart-broken letters.

So I ended the dance. I stopped responding, I stopped playing the game altogether. My sanity was at a breaking point, my heart was heavy, my appetite non-existent and my sleep occupied with terrible, terrible nightmares. In order to survive, I chose me over him. I've never regretted it.

But I still protected my abuser - from himself. I stopped confronting him and instead let him name the terms and try to step over boundaries while I turned myself into a ghost, drifting this way and that to avoid the inevitable confrontation that gives no closure, only opens the wounds that cannot heal because he will not ever let them close.

I am done with that too, now. Because what drove me to the edge and parked me on the cliff, what made me stare down into the deep, dark pit of what I'd created for myself, given my non-existent ability to say no and to keep letting others walk all over me, is that my tormentor found my blog.

And he began reading it and sending me emails commenting on it and telling my family about the pictures he saw of all of them on it. Every time I sat down to blog I felt like a piece of tape was over my mouth, knowing that whatever I wrote he would read, and I would feel violated all over again - hunted, trapped. Angry. Very, very angry. Fucking furious, you might say.

And here we are. Backed into a corner yet again, I contemplated flight, I contemplated shutting this blog down permanently, I considered turning it private (with Blogger that's a pain in the ass) and I considered moving to Hawaii where no one could ever find me ever again. (Okay, not that last one, but that's because of my budget.)

Or I could stand and unfold myself. Because here it is, here's the huge thing I was missing, the perspective I was so badly lacking:

I am not a child anymore. I am not backed into a corner because there IS NO FUCKING CORNER. There is only huge sky and I'm the one with wings, not him. Trapped down there by his own limitations with his limited view of the world, stuck in the past ... I'm not down there with him unless I choose to be. And I choose not to be ever again.

Childhood trauma hurts us in so many ways, but the way in which it hurts the most is that we can be 47 years old, eating cereal one morning, and someone can say one thing and suddenly we are four years old and helpless all over again. The trigger is pulled and the gun goes off and we are so, so small and wounded and helpless and angry about all of it. And that feeling doesn't go away until we let it. But we are never trapped with those triggers, nor do other people have power over us, even if they once did. I used to think that only death would give me peace.

I got it so wrong. Love gives us peace.

Love of self, love of others, love of this stupid gorgeous world and how incredibly beautiful and ridiculous it is. I have never sought revenge, never meant to hurt this person anymore than they set out to hurt me, but it is not my job anymore to take care of him at my own risk.

So I'm changing the way I look at things. If I'm not trapped in ANY thing I do, how much power do I really have? I don't have to be in relationships or friendships that suck... I don't have to feel trapped by a job or a certain situation... I don't owe anyone anything except to take care of myself.

I just got that. I just got that for what feels like the first time in my life a couple days ago, and I feel so old and so young at the same time because I want to laugh and cry.

It's all going to be okay, people. I promise you - it's going to be okay.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

ohhh....we're halfway there....

"You were happy once; you were sunshine and smiles and a brightness that radiated. You may be cloudy now, you may not want to sing. You may just want to fold inside of yourself, on the oldest couch you can find, by the biggest window, and watch it rain.

You used to find that little things made you happy; now you can’t even find the big things. Somehow, along the way, you lost yourself.

One foot in front of the other, sweetheart, and you will find your way back."

- working on it, kids. Change is a foot (get it, get it? Double entendre FTW) and I'm going to be making some big decisions soon about how I've lived my life...and how to move forward and live MY life.

Stay tuned...
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