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.


krista said...

hell to the yes.

Wine and Words said...

Wonder Twin powers....ACTIVATE! (you're probably too young to reference that one!)

Good for you! Can I get off your couch now? Been sitting her awhile wondering how you're doing. My butts gone numb :)

drollgirl said...

ohmygod. i am glad you have found peace and a way to cope and be happy in life. you have been through so much. and i hope that terrible person leaves you alone. there is no earthly way someone could tolerate the situation of reliving the abuse over and over again like you had to. i am so glad you put an end to it. and i hope that motherfucker fucks off and dies.

Miss Anne said...

You are amazing.
I am so proud of you.
like SO proud.


B. Nagel said...

( ((
\ =\
__\_ `-\
(____))( \----
(____)) _

Thumbs Up

B. Nagel said...

Well . . .
That didn't turn out so well. But I think you know what it was supposed to be.

(The label helps)

Lira said...

I am so proud of you.

Maybe God picks the ones he likes the most and says, "You. I will give you a voice. And I will give you a reason to be heard."

And we are all listening to you Phoenix.

Happy Birthday, TODAY. You've been reborn.


Robin said...

You blow me away all of the time. What amazing perspective you have. You are so right in everything you said. You do have all of the power. I am so proud of you and your choices and your bravery. If I could I'd give you a big hug!

Bathwater said...

I am proud of you hon, this is your place no one should be able to take it away from you.

I am sorry this happened to you, but glad you have the strength now to talk about it and overcome it.

You are one wonderful person. Who's sense of style I'm sure is not stale ;)

Marion said...

Phoenix, you are a strong woman and it's great that you can talk about this and quit carrying it around...that only gives HIM power over you. I'm glad you've decided to take your power back from that criminal. I know so many women who have been molested that it blows my mind. (My sister is one...for some reason, I escaped the step-monster's filthy hands.) My mother left him when she found out, but did not have him arrested...he went on to molest many more girls we found out years later. Most molesters DO NOT STOP unless they are jailed. Sad, but true.

I'm glad you're feeling better. Sending you my prayers and good vibes. Love & Blessings!

Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

So sorry to have this happened to you. Thanks for your honesty...I do believe the healing process begins with forgiveness. Continue to move forward & not dwell in the past. BIG hugs to you beautiful! You deserve all the best life has to offer you!

Dave said...

I'm gonna have to go with drollgirl's last sentence. There are some sick twisted people walking this earth, and while Jesus may love 'em, I kinda wish they'd just trip in front of a buss. I'm a big guy, but I don't think I'll ever be as stong as you.

Annje said...

I am so glad you shared this. You have done the right thing, that little girl would thank you. We have some of this in my family so I have seen it and I know...

Jmarls80 said...

Yes, friend Yes friend YES!!! I'm breathing with you and so grateful for your spirit and I see that something in you has changed forever and that is so beautiful.

Heather Taylor said...

Tracy, you are such a brave and beautiful girl. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. All I wanted to do when I read it was jump into a time machine, run in, and drive you to a safe place where things are peaceful and good. Love does give us peace and security and you will always have our love as well as mine, and encouragement.

Kristin Quinn said...

You are brave. So brave and strong. And amazing.

Ashley Yazzie said...

Thank you for being brave enough to share this. When you sound your voice and address the scars of the past, it gives others strength and courage. Know that you are appreciated and honored by your readers.

Virtual Bear Hug,


Radical Bradacal said...

I love you to the end of time and back again.

Purple Cow said...

This is probably the most moving and deeply personal blog post I have ever read. Bear in mind that you may not be the only one he has done this to. I am glad that the chapters on change helped you. Because stories help children sleep but adults wake, here’s another about two wolves:

“A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, ‘I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.’ The grandson asked him, ‘Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?" The grandfather answered: "The one I feed.’”

Just keep feeding the Phoenix that will not accept such bullshit from anyone and stop trying to please others. If you do things for yourself than everyone around you will be happy.

Take care. Hugs to the little girl who had to put up with such wickedness. Glad she turned out so fine regardless of this.

Elisabeth said...

It's hard to know what to say, Phoenix. I resonate with your struggle.

Your writing here is such a wonderful example of the ways in which the experience of writing - and being read - can help to transcend the savage effects of trauma.

I have been working on this issue for some time now,in more ways thsn one, including my taking a good look at the effects of childhood sexual abuse as one example of a traumatic experience that can induce a state of shame, rage and what I elsewhere describe as a desire for revenge.

I stress desire, because as you show clearly show here, you may have felt these feelings but you have not acted upon them, other than to try to hide your pain and confusion.

In time you tried to address it directly with the perpetrator, which I find extraordinarily brave. Not many could tackle such a situation and you have tried, again and again to your credit.

Finally you write about it here, in a final gesture of salvation.

Do not be silent. It is not your shame, it is another's. And it's high time you stopped bearing it as if it were yours.

There's so much more I could say about the infiltration of our blog, but this will have to be a start.

I am so glad that you have elected to speak out. And as others here say, we agree, you are brave.

Anonymous said...

Phoenix...the name says it all.

Love you, and have FULL faith in you.
I'm so glad you decided to open up and acknowledge what the trauma has been for you in your life. Awareness is key...something I've only recently learnt.

Anonymous said...

Well, you blew my blog about this out of the water!! This is incredible.

I know I don't need to tell you how incredibly proud I am of you for taking this huge step. You already know. You are a beautiful, wonderful, strong, brave woman. No-one, and I mean no-one can take that away from you.

From one SURVIVOR to another!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

I'm glad that you found the strength to confront this horror head on. You are a courageous woman! I am in awe.
Also, I agree with Drollgirl's final sentiment.

Eric W. Trant said...

I'm amazed at how few women don't have something like this in their back pocket.

I was married to a woman with a story. We paid the price for that pain.

See, I treated her like all the other women I'd been with. They're different, the survivors. We were at counseling trying to avoid the end and the counselor said, "You've been raped."

It wasn't a question. It was an observation. Abducted by a stranger and taken to a secluded beach and raped at knifepoint, not knowing if she'd live afterward, or if she wanted to.

At sixteen.

Yeah. They're different. Make sure you find a guy he realizes that.

I didn't mean to break her, but I sho nuff broke the hell out of her with my rugged hands and thinkless heart.

I will say this, though, and I wrote a freaking book on this topic I believe it so hard: Survivors feel more deeply. They love deeper, they hate deeper, they live deeper.

That searing pain opens up nerves the rest of us never realize are there.

Thank you for sharing, Phoenix.

- Eric

Indigo said...

(Hugs) I knew we were twins in spirit long before this somehow. I don't talk about it on the blog I have now, I did often in subtle ways on my former blog.

I left home at 16 and never looked back. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers that are mere strangers after 28 years. I'm the oldest. Honestly, I couldn't work it out of my system so I tried killing off bits and pieces of myself. Abusive men, alcohol, suicide...I've run the gamut.

At 38 it all came flooding out. I had reached the precipice either I learned to live with the scars on my childhood or I finished once and for all. As you can see I chose to live.

That doesn't say there are not days of revulsion and pain. There are far more days of kindness and compassion for the child within me than not.

Thank you for sharing what I know from experience is a hard edge to scrape against. (Hugs)Indigo

P.S. You were so valiant sweet friend, here is but a portion of my own story. This was the result of me trying to destroy myself:


Jo said...

You are so brave, and I am so honored to have read this.
Thank you.

Gwen said...

My friend. God has truly given you a voice and we can hear him through you. Your courage and strength inspires so many and I thank you for taking a stand against your abuser and continuing on. Love you girl!! XOXO

Okie said...

Wow...that is an amazing and horrific story. It sounds like you've got a good support group around you and you've got the resilience of spirit to get through this. Sorry that you've had to go through this and that it continues to hang over you, but it has given you strength and will continue to strengthen you as long as you're able to keep the perspective you have and keep pushing through.

Best of luck. And congratulations on your successes thus far.

Dionne said...

I am so sorry, hun! I am glad that you are moving forward and are finding peace. Check your Facebook messages, by the way.

Barbara said...

I am furious. What a terrible thing he did ( and continues to do) to you. It is horrible, unforgiveable. I am a nasty bitch and would have gone to the police. Still would go to the police. Right away. Record phone calls and save emails etc. Get the bastard.
Why am I the only one who has suggested this? Have I missed something?

Phoenix said...

Barbara - no, you haven't missed anything. I think there are several factors at hand that make this more complicated; one, that it happened a long time ago so it would be "he says" vs "she says"; two, that it was with a family member so the all of my family would get dragged into the debate, making it even more painful for them; three, I know for a fact that he has not done this to another child because I have kept tabs on him; four, because he is getting on in age and would probably not survive incarceration; five, I have no interest in making him pay. He's paying the price with his loneliness.

But you are right, it is infuriating, and if this man were a repeat offender and violent or possibly dangerous to himself or others I would not hesitate to report him.

Robin said...

I tagged you on HERE'S TO YOU THURSDAY. I hope you like your footage:-)

tenure.track.mommy said...

That is BS, but not surprising given what I know of your family member. I am sorry you have had to continually put up with this person's crap. You are stronger than anyone I know and are clearly weathering the storm. Hugs to you, Tracy. Wish I could be there.

Scarlet-O said...

Hey. Hey. I'm rooting for you. We live in the some horrible city. And we both follow Gabby. <3

Maggie May said...

i am sorry i hadn't read this sooner. just because i am so proud of you, SO PROUD OF YOU, for the way you live your life, and for your response to this kind of darkness. my own panic and terrors like yours threatened to overtake me and i know how hard it is to look toward love. i admire you and i'm so happy for you that you are finding this freedom. XOXOXOXO

Darcy said...

This post is so powerful.

Sending you love and peace and courage in my prayers. (Just sending you more--you have a lot already!) You are so brave.

Joker_SATX said...

Kudos to the strength within you!

Hugs to you!

Iva said...

omygod. I am so glad you are ok and strong now. A survivor indeed!! I hope he never contacts you ever again and leaves you alone to grow your strength.

Lori ann said...

oh tracy.

i'm so sorry for everything. i can understand all you've written except for the part about how you came to be so wise and brave at such a young age. i was that 47 year old you talked about. it took me forever to learn what you have now.
i too am so so proud of you,big huge hugs and lots of love,

Carissa said...

hi Tracy,

I'm a little late in reading this post but I can't not comment on a post like this. I'm sure everyone has already written this but I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. you are so incredibly brave to do so. truly you are. and I'm glad you are finally standing up for yourself, in a sense. choosing you over him. you deserve nothing but love and happiness and security and this person has stolen pieces of that away from you for far too long. you are right, you are going to be okay, not just because you are strong but because you are choosing to be okay, choosing to be strong, choosing to let love heal you. I hope you know how loved you are and how many people you touch and inspire on a daily basis. you are an amazing woman. thanks again for opening your heart to us.

xoxo~ Carissa

Kris said...

Good for you. Push this fiend out of sight and mind. DO NOT RESPOND!

Taylor K said...

WOW. I am so glad that you wrote this post and that we are blog friends. I am glad that you went to bed feeling brave and that the feeling didn't go away while you were dreaming. I am glad that you are you and that you have decided to speak about this. I think that others will heal from your bravery. Well done, you.

Ida Nielsen said...

Phoenix, I don't know what to say other than you're an amazingly strong woman and I feel so humbled to read something so personal and painful!


Juliana said...

P~I have been very behind on posts and I just spent some time reading your blog back to this post and sit here with tears streaming down my face. You are an incredible survivor...just incredible

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