Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Seeing Your Partner in a Positive Light

Some of you might remember my post on how we perceive our children: Seeing Your Child in a Positive Light. It's a post about how I was doubting my child and assuming she couldn't be a kind, caring person unless I forced her to act that way.

Are we quick to think the best or worst of people?
Do we act too quickly on negative thoughts?
Do we make things complicated by trying to figure out the situation on our own, instead of keeping it simple by engaging the other person, speaking directly and using honest communication?

I don't know about you, but I'm far from perfect. Every day is a new day for me to try again. And I've been guilty of all the above questions. Here's my most recent life lesson.

For the last 2 weeks, I've felt a little distant from my partner. Did I let him know about my feelings? No. I just pushed them away and ignored it.

Then I saw some money missing from our account. And he seemed really detached. I started to notice little things to feel bad about. He spent too much time playing videogames at night (IMO). Was he telling me he doesn't care to chat? He forgot to start a load of laundry. Was he telling me he doesn't care about our house?  I want some attention! Except instead of communicating my needs to him, I said them in my head.

Then I got a little angry. What gives?

I asked him where the money went. He refused to tell me! HOLY MOLY!

Fear. Anger. Insecurity. Anxiety. What's going on? Why is this happening?

I started digging around. Notice how I haven't kept it simple? What I needed to do was call a time-in with my partner, get on his level, reconnect and communicate with him. Instead, I was trying to do things on my own from a negative standpoint. Unconditional parenting is all about assuming the best in a person, but I wasn't applying that to my adult relationship.

Aha! I found some purchases for fast food. He went out to eat! I start to think rude, judgmental things. He's using up money to eat junk food? Suddenly, I'm getting silly about it, stewing in my own head...perhaps he has a food addiction! Is he depressed? What else is he lying about?

Tonight, he gives me a little envelope. What for??? My birthday.



What's in it? The money to pay for a Placenta Encapsulation class. "Happy birthday! I believe in you! You will be a wonderful birth supporter for many women."

It's hard to see through the tears. So much anger and fear...created out of nothing. Next time, I hope I can follow my own advice:

Keep it simple.
Keep it direct.
Keep it honest.
Keep it open.

Assume the best from your children and your partners. Give them the benefit of the doubt. You might be pleasantly surprised.

If you liked this post:

You no good jerk!

Unconditional Partners

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Boundaries for the Attachment Parenting Sexual Abuse Survivor

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this summer is BOUNDARIES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on boundaries in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
*******************************
This post is on the topic of dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse (or related encounters). It might be triggering and too sensitive for some readers. Please continue with caution.

 © Guggie Daly

I inadvertently stumbled over the sexual abuse topic earlier this month when I asked an anonymous question for a reader. I realized that the topic of abuse is not commonly discussed in the natural/crunchy community. But it needs to be talked about because the intense experiences of trying to conceive, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and beyond provide ample triggers for survivors. The sensations, emotions, loss of control and loss of privacy that come with being a parent can be very difficult for survivors to navigate. As a SAS (Sexual Abuse Survivor) myself, I realized it was time to talk about this topic
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to attachment parenting is the issue of boundaries. For an SAS, boundaries are not just about social grace or respect, but are often necessary for basic mental and emotional functioning. The painful experiences began by having boundaries violated by another person, so a boundary is in a sense the first line of defense. Cross a boundary and the mind and body will set off blaring alarms.

Obviously, this presents a tricky situation in the parenting realm. Seeing as how we start growing our children  inside our bodies we are talking about some big boundary crossing. Suddenly, our bodies begin making huge changes without our permission. 



Childbirth


Some say childbirth is about submission, about letting go and giving in, but within the context of sexual abuse, does that sound like a fun experience? Instead of feeling the power of our bodies and the beauty of childbirthing, it could easily turn into an uncontrollable, overbearing nightmare, triggering memories, smells, sensations and all the negative emotions that come with it. Add in a dose of cold, authoritative medical employees and routine interventions done without care and suddenly you have another traumatic experience on your hands.

How can you begin setting boundaries during your pregnancy and during labor/birth?
  • Research the birth field to decide what makes you feel comfortable, and what might be a trigger. For some women, they feel comfortable in the hospital. For other women, they feel caged and vulnerable. Learn about common birth practices and think about how they might fit into the context of your previous experiences. How do you feel about being told to strip down for a stranger? Is it okay for a doctor to do a cervical exam? Do you want your legs held down or touched while pushing? Remember: you absolutely DO have a choice in ALL of these things short of a catastrophic emergency. So do not leave a stone unturned, thinking you have to accept anything that triggers you. You deserve a safe, comfortable, positive birthing experience. Write it down and carry this statement with you if you need to.

  • Consider being upfront with anyone you want present during your birth. Tell your midwife, doctor, doula, photographer and especially your partner. Make sure they understand what sexual trauma is and how it relates to childbirth. If your provider is unaware, consider a new one. If you love your provider, make sure he or she gets informed ASAP. If anyone is unreasonable or dismissive, get away from them quickly. Someone who is not supportive now will be downright dangerous during your birthing experience.

  • Develop safe words or gestures to make sure you receive the support (or space) you need during labor. If a touch is triggering, for example, your support team needs to know that shaking your head means to move away from you and stop touching immediately. Other gestures I've heard of women using include waving the hands, turning away from the other person and ducking the head. Think of something simple and clear as it can be hard to communicate during labor. 

  • If you know a particular topic is very sensitive for you, discuss this ahead of time and prepare for it with your birth team. For example, if freedom is important, make sure no one inadvertently tries to hold your hand too tightly, hold your body down, push your legs, lock the door, block your way while you are pacing, etc. If modesty is important, make sure everyone knows not to use certain words to ask you to undress, consider purchasing a laboring outfit, have a designated room or even a partition to go behind if you feel too exposed, etc. Don't feel shy or demanding. Make your preferences clear now so things are not rushed or misunderstood while in labor. 

  • Feeling a loss of control can be terrifying. Losing control over the way your body reacts and the sensations you feel can bring you right back to your previous trauma. Spend time learning about the stages of labor and the reported sensations. Draw these feelings towards you and own them. Remind yourself that you are in charge of your body and that you give your body permission to move forward in this process as it sees fit. If letting go is framed as a conscious decision, it can feel empowering. I know it can, b/c I walked that journey in my births. You can find that peace, too.
Read more about sexual abuse and childbirth herehere, and here.


Breastfeeding

The act of breastfeeding might or might not cause memories and emotions to resurface. For some women, breastfeeding has no connection to their previous experiences or does not trigger them. For others, it can be a harrowing trigger.
  • If you already want to avoid breastfeeding completely, please reconsider. If you haven't experienced it, try to give it one chance. Breastfeeding can be a challenge, but it can also bring feelings of empowerment, confidence and healing. It's about reclaiming your body and then choosing to give yourself to your children. This is a powerful message.

  • Make your nursing sessions comfortable every time. Do not treat this as trivial. Feeling trapped can be a big trigger. If you know it's a trigger for you, then prepare ahead of time. Make a "nest" in your home. Choose your favorite room. Pick out a comfortable rocking chair or a pile of pillows. Make sure you have your favorite beverage and a tasty snack available. Bodily sensations connected to letdown might be triggering. Give yourself various forms of entertainment such as books, magazines, chatting on the phone with a friend or surfing on the internet. Don't let yourself fall into the mindset of feeling trapped and caged. 

  • You might have set an expectation that the beginning will come with some pain and discomfort, but be vigilant. Too much pain or continued discomfort might indicate other issues such as a disorganized latch, a baby with a sore neck from birth, thrush or a tongue tie. Seek guidance immediately. These issues could unnecessarily jeopardize what might be an otherwise positive experience. Don't write them off as normal; follow your gut. Nursing should not be unpleasant!

  • As your child grows, set clear and consistent boundaries. Nursing children sometimes like to poke, pick, pinch, prod, squeeze or otherwise twiddle with various body parts. Some researchers theorize that twiddling the other nipple or patting the breast while nursing stimulates a let down. If you suspect your child is trying to get a faster dinner, you can help by pumping first or doing breast compressions. You can also wear a colorful, fun nursing necklace so your child can hold onto it instead of you. Consider investing in some cute tops to layer so if your child wants to pull up a shirt, this doesn't bare your midriff. 

  • Most importantly while breastfeeding: don't grimace and keep going. If something feels wrong, don't bury it. Address it promptly. Breastfeeding under stress can quickly turn into a long term situation of resentment and anxiety. If you begin to feel triggered or trapped, sing a cheerful countdown, such as the ABCs or a nursery rhyme. Let your child know that at the end of the song, he gets to play with his favorite toy or eat a yummy snack b/c you are taking a mommy break. Unlatch, take deep breaths. Acknowledge your needs. Try some yoga or pilates to recenter. Ignoring these feelings while breastfeeding will not make them go away; in fact, they will amplify and can become a constant thorn due to the hormonal connection. So take care of yourself; you deserve it and your baby deserves it!

Learn more about breastfeeeding and sexual abuse here, here, and here.


Bedsharing

Again, like breastfeeding, the act of bedsharing might or might not cause memories and emotions to resurface. Bedsharing represents having a person next to us during a vulnerable, intimate time. It also means being disrupted at night, usually by physical touch first. Some survivors find bedsharing to be very comforting, while others find it very triggering.
  • If you already want to avoid bedsharing completely, you still have other options available that promote the breastfeeding relationship and healthy infant sleep. You can try connecting the crib to the side of the bed (or purchasing a product built to do this). This is helpful if your concerns are about physical touch, b/c this creates a boundary. If it's still too close, you can keep the crib in the room, receiving the benefits of easily responding to the baby and keeping baby safe during the night while maintaining a boundary for your needs. 

  • Make use of a nightlight, unless this is triggering, too. Being roughly awakened in the dark by a thrashing baby who begins to scream can cause a lot of fear and adrenaline, making it harder to go back to sleep, let alone tend to the baby. 

  • If you have a partner, agree ahead of time on who will do what. Something as trivial as feeling trapped by being the sole care provider at night can trigger feelings of abandonment and resentment. Address these issues honestly and consider writing down an agreement so everyone feels acknowledged. Additionally, remember that some things might increase the potential triggering such as night time nursing or night time diaper changing. Make a gameplan that will address your individual needs so that nothing happens as a shock. 

  • Get enough sleep. No, really. Don't accept the excuse that parents are destined to be sleep deprived. If sleep deprivation amplifies your negative emotions or leads to increased episodes of feeling triggered, then make sleep your top priority. Sleep in every day. Go to bed early while your partner does the bedtime routine. Sleep during the baby naps. Hire a babysitter to sleep. For some survivors, sleep deprivation alone is a terrifying trigger. If you agree, then you know how important it is to get enough sleep. This alone can make bedtime parenting painless.
Learn more about co-sleeping (not much within the context of sexual abuse) here, here, and here.

Due to length, unfortunately, I didn't address other situations, such as feeling overwhelmed as the primary caregiver, public play dates, the restricting trigger of babywearing, etc. But the general ideas provided above can help in those topics, too. The main thing is to remember to immediately acknowledge your feelings and then work to resolve the situation. It's easy to try to stuff the feelings down and just keep going, but this will not work when it comes to the 24/7 needs of children.

As a survivor, nothing is taken for granted, and nothing is as simple as it looks. Even the most trivial thing can become unbearable, bringing back unwanted memories, emotions and sensations. Survivor Parents might find more triggers when responsively parenting, but with clear communication and careful preparation, attachment parenting can also be an extremely rewarding, peaceful and healing experience. Reclaiming your body gives confidence. Experiencing things such as childbirth and breastfeeding are very empowering, showing you that your body is beautiful, good and certainly not broken. For survivors, responsive parenting can bring peace to everyone in the family.


Reclaiming and giving



If you liked this...

Protecting Children From Abuse

Survivor Confessions
*********************************
Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor who Wanted Love


The following post is a confession series submission on the topic of sexual abuse. Drug abuse and death are also mentioned. This post might be triggering. Please continue with extreme caution.

2012 Submitted Anonymously

"Love and affection are craved by every child. And our responsibility as parents  is to show our children appropriate boundaries. Unfortunately, my mother was a single mom doing all she could to provide, so she entrusted that “chore” to my aunt and uncle who were a seemingly happy couple and recently married.

They took us in when my father ran off and were more like parents than extended family. As a small child, I always wanted somebody to be in bed with me as I fell asleep. It was almost tradition. We’d snuggle up and once I fell asleep, they’d leave to their own rooms. This was normal to me and I never knew these special snuggle times could be robbed from me and replaced with inappropriate touching and fondling. Once my cousin was born, I had a hard time seeing my role as “baby” replaced, so I demanded that snuggle time would continue every night. When my mom was away working at night, my aunt and uncle would split duty and I’d always have one of them laying with me.

I developed rather early at around 7-8yrs old. During these late night snuggles till I fell asleep, my uncle would fondle my breasts, and kiss on my neck while he touched himself. I never realized that was inappropriate because he was the only male in my “home” life. I thought it was just special time where all the attention was on me.

As a pre-teen, I became very promiscuous but the breaking point was when I wrote a note to a little boy in my class telling him what I wanted him to do to me. Again, even at 12 yrs old I had no idea this wasn’t what everybody who “loved” you did. I thought if this little boy loved me, he should touch me and I would touch him like I did during those special snuggle times I used to have.

By this time, it wasn’t happening at home anymore since we had moved in with my mom’s new husband. I never understood why he wouldn’t come to my room and “love” me like my uncle did. I thought my new step-dad hated me so I tried to find that affection through other boys at school. As I grew up, I learned what ‘rape’ was from a sexual health class. I thought and thought but came to the conclusion that I WAS NOT raped, since there wasn’t actual intercourse but almost everything else. I refused to face the facts that I was in fact molested and a victim of sexual abuse. I felt shame and guilt because on TV, rape victims were upset, mad and hurt;. While I actually enjoyed my “snuggle” times and wanted to feel that way again. I wanted the feeling of warmth, closeness and love.

When my mom and step-father divorced I went to him and thanked him for truly loving me. He was very confused but after telling him that for years I really thought he hated me because he didn’t “love” on me like my uncle did, he soon realized what I was saying. I begged him not to tell or do anything because at that point I was not ready to face the truth. I knew what he had done was wrong but I loved my aunt so much that I didn’t want to tell her.

At 17 yrs old, after 6 months of being in an abusive relationship both emotionally and physically, my aunt sat me down to “talk." Her first question was “Why don’t you care about yourself enough to leave him?” My response, “Why should I care about myself when you didn’t for so many years.” I broke down and told her in tears what had happened and asked her why she never stopped him when she was just in the next room. She looked at me with such disdain and basically said it was my fault because I dressed so slutty. Then said, we’ll talk about this later.

Well, 6 years later and we have still never discussed it. We went for almost 3 years pretending nothing had happened because I needed her in my life too much to bring it up. My mom was recently divorced and acting like she was my age, partying and dating. I was living on my own and trying to just keep my own
life together, while taking whatever affection I could get from whoever would give it to me. I am not proud in any point of that life but I had to escape, I had to get out of that cycle.

I became involved with an older man, who was only a couple years younger than my uncle. While he was never physically abusive, he was controlling and belittling and made me feel like I needed him to live. I endured almost a year of that relationship, laying next to him every night and feeling so much disgust I would often cry after he fell asleep.

At almost 21 yrs old, after leaving my “old man” relationship, I had a nervous breakdown. I locked myself in my car, convinced my uncle had sent the cats and dogs of the neighborhood to spy on me and torment me. A very good friend checked me into the hospital, where they gave me meds. No amount of meds in the world could make me forget or forgive. A year later, in 2011, I found out I was pregnant and married my boyfriend at the time.

At that point, I had not been to therapy since I got out of the hospital. I just didn’t want to deal with any of it. When we found out our baby was a girl in May 2011, I cried on and off for almost a week. I could not imagine a worse thing because I knew I couldn’t protect her. I mean, my own mother trusted her sister and my uncle with her life and me, but look what happened.

It has now been over 3 years since I’ve spoken to my aunt and uncle. I have a beautiful 9 month old baby and a wonderful husband. I have everything a girl could ask for in life. Everything except closure; I don’t know if I will ever get it. It took me years to even realize I was abused, let alone take the time to deal with it. Limited people in my life know about the abuse.

This issue caused a huge rift in my mom’s side of the family, since she still talks to my aunt and my grandma does, too. My grandmother never understood why I quit coming to family functions. My mother finally told her and she’s having a very hard time believing since to her my uncle has been the best son-in-law she could ask for. I rarely talk to anyone on that side because I am filled with such shame, guilt, and anger.

I see the effects of this abuse daily in my life; my trust in others, my trust in myself, my protectiveness of my daughter, and just my general attitude. I try to connect with my husband intimately but other than just plain sex, I don’t want the snuggling and fondling. It’s just too similar and disgusts me. My husband craves intimacy, not just sex. I don’t know how to give him that, and I feel I’ve been robbed of the ability to truly be affectionate with him.

As a Christian, I believe things happen for a reason, and I know that I must forgive my uncle. I try my best not to let it affect my relationship with my own daughter, but it’s made me so overprotective, I fear she may end up anti-social and mistrusting. I hope my story helps others know that it is OK to be confused about feelings. It is OK to wonder why. It is OK to be angry. BUT, it is NOT OK to feel like it was your fault. I do struggle with guilt over my “enjoyment” of those times. But after therapy, I have realized I was a child, he was the adult and it was inappropriate. Bottom line, it was not true “LOVE.”  Most of all: You do not have to be raped to be a victim of sexual abuse!"



Have a story to share? Submission details here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Vaccination

The Vaccination
By Patricia Crutchfield

His trusting eyes looked up at me
He smiled his sweetest smile.
What a precious gift from God he was
My son, my first born child.

The nurse came in and weighed him,
Put a thermometer briefly in his ear.
Then she told me to take off his diaper
And expose his plump little rear.

I did as I was instructed
For I knew the procedure by now.
It’s time for his next vaccination
This time I won’t flinch, I vow.

The syringes and vials of the serums
Lay benignly on her sterile steel tray.
And though I try to watch her,
I find myself turning away.

His scream at the prick of the needle
Sends a bolt of pure terror through me.
Its animal like pitch was not normal
And I turned around quickly to see.

His beautiful body went rigid
Then spasmed again and again.
What’s happening to my poor baby?
And what can I do to help him?

I could sense the nurse’s pure panic
As she called out to the doctor to come.
The seconds that passed seems like hours
And where is that screaming coming from?

I open my eyes in a room filled with light
The silence a deafening roar.
My husband is standing beside me
He says everything's fine, but his tears tell me more.

I try to sit up, but I’m weary
Another needle pierces my arm.
I drift off once again into darkness
But my mind beats a steady alarm.

Two days and two nights I am sedated
Until now no one tells me why.
Then the doctor appears with my husband
And immediately I start to cry.

My most precious gift has been taken
He’ll never again be mine to hold.
His body once so warm and loving
Now lays on a slab icy cold.

I’m sorry, says the good doctor
A reaction we couldn’t foresee.
Please accept my sincerest condolence
I guess it was just meant to be.

Our son now plays with the angels
And my heart breaks anew everyday.
It's the angels who tickle his tummy
And it’s in their arms not mine, he will lay.

A statistic, one in seventeen hundred
That’s what they say of my son.
But I say one child is too many
To die from a vaccination.

So mothers do not be so trusting
Hear me before it’s too late.
Don’t lose your child to the “program”
Investigate before you vaccinate.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The New Face of NFP

Tired of dealing with the constant myths and misrepresentations of NFP (Natural Family Planning, also called Fertility Awareness Method)?

Tired of people asking if you're religious?

Tired of people mistaking scientific progress and information for the old calendar method?

It gets old, answering the same questions about the same myths.

You'd think NFP/FAM would be huge in the crunchy, hippie and feminist movements. Charting your fertility is all about taking responsibility for your body and your choices. It's about education, being informed, giving full consent, knowing the risks/benefits of any decisions you make and monitoring your own health. It's about keeping synthetic hormones out of your body and choosing to keep your body running as nature intended.

It's about getting rid of the medications, the surgeries and the barriers and finally taking charge of your fertility.

Thankfully, there's a new site up and running that is modern, secular and scientific. 

Go head, check it out. I promise you won't get an email from the pope.


If you liked this post...

Not Fertile

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor: Iced Mudd Guest Post

The following post is a confession series submission on the topic of sexual abuse. Drug abuse and death are also mentioned. This post might be triggering. Please continue with extreme caution.


2012 Submitted by Iced Mudd to be republished:

"Life seemed limitless. Summer days were spent in the sun and dirt with untamed possibilities. Noon would come and go without so much as a hello. Those days are vague in my memory. Not because many moons have passed, but because those days were soon replaced. You see, my tale is one that needs to be said. The words have far too long sat in my mind and wounded my heart. It is, with a heavy sigh, that I begin this knowing full well that by the end I will have cried every tear again and felt every pain once more. I just hope that somewhere along the way that my hurt can begin to heal and somehow ease the ache inside me.

The year is 1988. I'm yet a toddler, still unable to speak words though I remember those spoken to me on this day. It was an unremarkable day, in my life anyway. That is, until the moment she yanked my arm and said "Let's go!" I cannot tell you for certain the events of this day. I do, however, remember as a child huddled in the floor of an old car how I felt. The moment was terrifying. I was unsure what the yelling and cursing amongst me was about, but I knew that I should be scared. This was the day, the very last day that I would see my father as a child.

She drove me to a bar, a place where I knew she went to drink. Back then, there were no car seats for children in vehicles. I sat on the floor. She was angry, no, furious, over something. She leaves me in the car and goes into the bar yelling, but who was she yelling at? Oh, now I see, it's my dad. But why? Why would she yell at him? It's over too soon for me to understand. I'm sitting behind her seat, crying because I am scared. She turns around to drive in reverse, sees me in tears, and says "You're never seeing him again that piece of shit!" I cry more tears. Her words sting like a million bees all at once. I'm sad to see him go.


The year is 1991. My sister, who watched over me while she was gone, leaves home this year. She graduated from high school and high-taled it out of town. Who could blame her? I cried so many times to go with her, but I knew that I couldn't. This is the year I became familiar with drugs. Did I use them at such a young age? No, but everyone who lived around me did. Once my sister left for college, my older brothers took over watching me while my mother was out. She was "out" quite a lot. Either at a bar, drinking, or out of her mind on whatever substance was available. I have three brothers. The older two would take me on drives in my mothers old Ford pickup. I sat in the middle while they passed their white powder between themselves getting high. I was just happy to be with them. I didn't know they were slowly killing themselves. It became my job to empty his pockets out at the end of the day. It was like a rainbow inside. Red pills, green and white pills, powdery pills. I never knew when I would find every color in the Crayola box.

One evening he came home. His pockets were particularly full this night. Something was not quite right. Was he angry? No, that wasn't it. After pocket cleaning, he sat at the kitchen table eating smashed cornbread in milk. It was his favorite. The tranquility soon faded and became replaced with yelling. She yelled, he yelled, they both yelled some more. Happening so fast that I couldn't comprehend the actions around me, I was in the truck racing across the bridge and down the road before I understood what it was all about. Something wasn't right. I was scared.
We arrived at her boyfriend's home. She called him. No answer. The next few hours are a blur. I'm not sure how I returned, but I was back home. There were lights everywhere. Screaming. What had happened? I was crying. Someone was holding me. I looked through the window of the door. There was red everywhere. A gun. I saw a gun. He was there, only it wasn't him. His face was missing, or not missing, just splattered on the wall. Everything was black. Was it day? Night? I'm not sure.

The funeral was closed-casket. There was a photo of him in a white button down shirt. He was smiling, happy even. His death was the first I experienced related to drugs, heroin I believe. Those smiles slowly faded away and were replaced with glassy eyes and empty stares. He became a shell of the once vibrant person his life had begun to blossom into. Replaced, instead, with a closed box too gruesome for grievers to view, and pieces of skull embedded in walls in the home we returned to. No amount of scrubbing could ever wash away those stains on one's memory. They're permanent, there for all the days of my life."


Click on the photo to read the Survivor's entire story.
Start at the bottom of the post list and go up for chronological order.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor Who Keeps Trying

This is a submission for the July confession series on the topic of sexual abuse. This topic might be very triggering for some people. Please continue with extreme caution.

© 
2012 L

"I have to be in a certain frame of mind to be able to speak about this. I have to be raw and open, perhaps almost broken. I am willing to bring myself there again because each time that I do, each time that I share a little of me, I become stronger.

Sometimes I need the reminder of where I have been to see that even though I am not completely healed and even though my brokenness shows through in places I wish it would never touch, I am strong. It shows me that I can choose to be happy. I can smile. And I do. I can say that right now, I am in a place where I can smile about overcoming this. I can be happy, I know I can be happy, despite my past. I have a future worth embracing.

Nonetheless, I wish that what happened to me didn't affect me the way it did. I wish that my marriage and my parenting were not affected by this. I attribute the misery I felt my whole pregnancy to the one thing my dad, the abuser, said to me when he found out I was carrying my husband's child. "ARE YOU PREGNANT?!?!" As though he owned me. It makes me angry. ANGRY. How dare he say that?! It's unbelievable. 



After that phone call, I couldn't orgasm during sex with my husband  for a very long time. I felt bad and dirty. Sometimes I still do. I am angry about that. He intruded on my life in a place he should never have been. Imagine what that does to a marriage. We conceived our son, our only child, right after getting married. I took the pregnancy test one day shy of our one month anniversary. Our marriage was rocky from the time I had that phone call with my dad until less than a year ago. 


Our six year anniversary is this November. So, 5 years of misery because I had trouble coping and he didn't know how to and couldn't help me. It took a blessing in disguise to snap us both out of it. My husband and I have decided that we should only have one child due to the pregnancy and postpartum period being so horrible. I cannot say that my abuse has nothing to do with that. 


I remember when I started to notice that my dad was drawn to my breasts. I was about 12 or 14. He is an alcoholic. I don't ever remember him acting that way while sober. My parents divorced when I was 12. I can remember my dad bent over in a chair, with his head on my hip (I was standing in front of him), his arms around my waist, just sobbing. That was abuse. He should not have had his head so near my female anatomy. It's a memory that haunts me. 


I remember seeing a picture of my uncle, me and my dad, standing in that order, on the day he got married to his second wife. His arm was around me and in the picture it was VISIBLE that he was grabbing my breast. I am pretty sure I shredded that picture. That was the point when I started to realize that I might not be imagining things. I continued to lie to myself for about another 10 years, though. Does anyone want to believe they've been abused by their father? 


When I was a young teen, purses where the strap draped across a girl's chest were popular. He saw me with one of those on and told me, and I quote, "Sis, your boobies are sticking out." Incredible. I still cannot believe the things he has said to me. I used to have my husband "block for me" when we had to go to a function that included my dad. I would have to plan what I wore so as not to draw any attention at all to my chest. Hoodies were my clothing of choice. It took team work and quick thinking to avoid the drunken hugs where he would always find a way to graze my breasts. I once saw him pull down my half brother's pants and put a dog in them. It was a pomeranian puppy. My brother was about 2 years old. He has a fascination with the inside of children's pants. I am pretty sure I should probably say something. 


Seeing that, I am probably not the only one but I was and am afraid to tell anyone. I tell myself I can never say anything to him or my mom because they are weak. They couldn't handle it. Others might not believe me, or worse they might say something to him or someone else. Really, all of this is so unbelievable to me. How could anyone else believe it? 


I was determined to breastfeed my child. My husband, knowing my past, knowing how protective I am about my breasts and my body honestly didn't think I could do it and he told me that he didn't think I could do it. I am proud to say that I nursed my son until he was three and I appreciated it until he was about 2.5 years old. 


Child led weaning was what I really wanted, but I knew I was doing us both more harm than good trying to reach that goal. I struggle daily with my inability to properly handle being touched by someone who doesn't know boundaries. Children don't know boundaries. I fear that I am scarring my child. Children need to feel safe and loved and sometimes I just don't have it. Telling your child "Don't touch me!" and "Get off me" or "Get away from me!" "GO! GO away!" This is not good and I know it. I try to make up for it in other ways. 


I tell myself that nursing him for as long as I did helped him because even when I didn't have it in me to give him love, he got it anyway through the contact of nursing. I pray that I haven't ruined him. Honestly, I don't think that I have. I know that I have boundaries that cannot be crossed without me completely losing it in an unhealthy way so I try to work around that. I make sure that I am not often in situations where I could get to that point. I fail my child everyday but I tell myself to keep it balanced, keep it in perspective, keep trying. 


He will never have to go through as bad of a situation as I have. I will protect him to the best of my ability. I will give him all that I have. It has to be enough. I often think about how things might be different if I had waited to bring a child into this world, if I had waited until I had healed a little more. Then I realize that I don't know of anything else that could have been a catalyst for healing the way my son has been for me. 


I have been diagnosed with PTSD from his birth, which I am certain was really triggered by my abuse. I have only recently been able to accept that I was abused. I am still trying to convince myself that I don't have to protect him, (the abuser). I am not there quite yet. I am working on it. Anger is the stage where I am at in my healing. 


I go through most of my days joyfully but I am quick to anger. I am quick to protect myself and I do not trust most people. I am learning about myself all the time. One day I might get there. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take another step. There were things that I needed to say and I don't often have the opportunity. Please know that I am trying. Know that I honestly want what's best for my son.

To keep going, I have to believe that what I can give him is good enough. I have to believe that where I fail, others can pick up the slack. It kills me to dwell on how someone could reach into my life and affect my son. I wish I could draw the line.

 L, 24 years old"







Do you have a story to submit? Submission details here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Confessions of a Circumcised Teen

© James Stewart 2012

"I was 16 when I first learned about circumcision. I learned about it while in a child development class. As soon as I had a semi-clear understanding of what [routine infant] circumcision was, I immediately became disgusted at the fact that there were people that would have it done to their children.

And of course it only took about a couple seconds for it to hit me: The realization that this was done to me. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t imagine that my parents would ever do something so obviously cruel to me and right after I entered this world, but there was no denying it.


After that painfully obvious realization my disgust was dwarfed by the most intense anger I have ever felt. I felt violated. I felt as though I had just learned that I was sexually assaulted as a baby. Which is literally what it is as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never seen it as anything different. I still don’t understand how anyone can see it any differently.


As I felt all these emotions, I looked around the classroom. To my horror, nobody else seemed to be bothered by this, everyone sitting quietly as the teacher continued casually explaining it as though it were any other lesson. It was like something I would see in the Twilight Zone. I have never been so disappointed in people. How could everyone be that blind?


I went on feeling as if I was the only one, stuck in the Twilight Zone for two years. I thought I might actually be the only one in the world that felt this way. Then when I was 18 years old, I decided to Google the topic. I knew there had to be others who felt this way. The first thing I saw was a video on YouTube of a girl expressing her feelings on the subject. It was relieving. I saw many other videos like it. Each one I watched made me feel better. After two long years I was finally able to get it off my mind and I was able to find my faith in human kind again. "



James is a young adult currently attending college. He reports that he is, "Quiet, philosophical, lively, honorable, rational, silly, serious, intelligent and argumentative."



Have you felt you were the last sane person on earth when it comes to the topic of circumcision? The following pages and blogs are run by men who oppose routine circumcision:

Boys Deserve Better:http://www.facebook.com/BoysDeserveBetter

End Routine Infant Circumcision (ERIC):http://www.facebook.com/EndCirc

Circumcised Fathers, Intact Sons:http://www.facebook.com/chooseintact

Restoring Foreskin:
http://www.facebook.com/RestoringForeskin

Joseph 4GI:
http://joseph4gi.blogspot.com/

If you are a man who opposes circumcision and you have a website, blog, page or community and would like to be added, please let me know!

If you liked this post...

Confessions of a Circumcised Man

Confessions of a Circumcised Son

Sign the petition:

http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/sabine-leutheusser-schnarrenberger-protect-children-s-rights-to-bodily-integrity-age-restrict-circumcision

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor Who Worries About Mothering

This is a submission for the month of July on sexual abuse. This topic may be triggering and painful to some readers. Pregnancy loss is also mentioned. Please continue with caution.

 © 2012 Karissa Marie

"Being taken advantage of by someone that I trusted has left me a fractured mess in some aspects. Things that are supposed to be enjoyable are sometimes terrifying. People who are supposed to be comforting often drive me away. And gestures meant to put me at ease sometimes make me feel uncomfortable.

After being sexually abused as a child and having a marriage where I was only wanted for my ability to please someone else, it is probably not surprising that I have some issues. I’ve participated in a lot of therapy and have put a lot of years of distance in between myself and the abuse, but in some regards I will always be damaged goods.

What scares me the most is not fear of the past, but fear of the future. Despite meeting the love of my life, I fear being unloved. Despite being valued and respected, I fear a repeated loss of dignity. Despite wanting to create a life outside of my own body, I fear that I won’t be able to protect that life, because I have failed in protecting myself in the past.

Recently, I experienced a miscarriage and I found myself feeling guilty because I didn’t do enough to protect the life within me. Before I miscarried, I worried incessantly about if I could handle the physical sensations within me or not. The sharp hormonal swings of pregnancy scared me and my suddenly overactive sex drive flooded me with shame.

When the pregnancy symptoms began to subside and I knew the fate of my baby, I felt dirty for holding something inside of me that should no longer be there. I was almost glad to not be a mother yet and I challenged my own ability to make decisions. I seriously considered taking birth control.

Thankfully, that idea was short-lived, and I am again trying to conceive, but now I face the challenge of sometimes being intimate with my partner when I don’t really want to, based on the ovulation timing of the month. I sometimes have to remind myself that there is an end goal that I wish to attain and in order to attain it I have to do certain things.

I feel guilty that I react so negatively to something that should be beautiful. I feel a child should be conceived in love and bliss, not fear and forced apathy. When I am able to start my own family, I fear the limitations that I may put on myself and on my future children, all in the name of safety. Everyone says that safety is so important, but I’m afraid of going too far.

Overstepping boundaries in an attempt at protecting another is still a violation; will I be able to draw an appropriate line? Despite wanting a family so badly, I fear that that family will never be happy due to my own paranoia."






Do you have a story to submit? Submissions details here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor Who Weaned

This is a submission for the month of July on sexual abuse. This topic may be triggering and painful to some readers. Please continue with caution.

© 2012 Submitted anonymously:


"When I was a child, my mom was more interested in me being her friend than she was in being my mother. She told me vivid details about her sex life and generally spoke inappropriately.

For example, after talking to me about my birth and breastfeeding me, she would continue with vivid details about her sexual experiences. She would even include details about my father- who, though they were divorced, I was very close to.

My most concentrated number of memories of this behavior was around age 12, when I fell headlong into puberty. I felt so violated by her confidences and behaviors that I started to feel sick when she would hug me or otherwise try to be affectionate. And to this day, I cannot stand the way she smells.

When my daughter was born, I developed severe PPD (Post Partum Depression). I was flooded with terrible memories and thoughts that made me feel ill every time I nursed my daughter. I attribute many of those feelings to how innapropriate my mother was with me. I would sit up at night and cry, wanting to give my daughter my milk, but being horrified by the contact I had with her during the nursing session.

I weaned her from the breast when she was two weeks old and began taking heavy duty depression meds, along with seeing a therapist. It took a long time for me to deal with my post traumatic stress, depression, repressed anger and disgust. All of these things were connected to what felt sexually abusive to me, but they involved a woman, my mother... not a man.

Years later, I had a son. I felt none of the same feelings and successfully nursed him until he weaned himself. And then years later after that, I had a second son and felt none of those feelings. Each time I became pregnant, I would hope for a son, because I was so terrified of feeling those feelings again while nursing. I attributed those emotions to being the mother of a daughter. The feelings were impossible to shake, but gut wrenching and heart breaking, because I was unable to give my daughter what I wanted to give her, due to experiences in my formative years."



Resources on breastfeeding after sexual abuse:

http://one-of-those-women.blogspot.com/2008/08/breastfeeding-as-survivor-of-sexual.html

http://www.lalecheleague.org/ba/may98.html

http://nativemothering.com/2010/08/breastfeeding-after-assault/

Do you have a story to tell? Submission details here.

Vaccine Article Quick List


I just put this list together for a friend, so I figured I might as well copy it to here in case it is wanted by anyone else. And I don't think my search bar works well on the blog anyways. All links open in a new window so you can click on them and keep reading.

I have pro/anti links summarized here:


I have a longer article here that asks questions to guide you:


I think every parent should read this link no matter what they choose:


I took a pro-vaccine article and flipped it:


Some personal thoughts:


The first vaccine a child receives:


And the studies to go with it:


Pertussis:


Polio and Measles:


Chickenpox and Shingles:


Meningitis:


Tetanus:


Gardasil:


Hib:


Can you honestly do this and still vaccinate? 


#1 doctor tactic:


The truth about religious exemptions:

http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2012/09/lying-to-obtain-religious-vaccine.html

Thimerosal:

http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2010/07/get-record-straight-on-thimerosal.html

Main vaccine page:
http://www.facebook.com/standagainstvax



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fluffy Wishes HUGE GIVEAWAY!


The long awaited Fluffy Wishes Giveaway and Twitter Party has finally arrived! We have tons of great prizes to give away, and all for a great cause. Many sponsors and bloggers have teamed up with Fluffy Wishes Cloth Diaper Closet and My Cloth Diaper Stash to help host this giveaway! 

Fluffy Wishes Diaper Closet is a cloth diaper lending service serving Southwest Michigan and newly expanding to Indiana! Fluffy Wishes provides cloth diapers to low income families who can not afford to diaper their children, or have to make the choice between diapers and the basic necessities in life. Fluffy Wishes runs completely on volunteers and donations. There is no cost to families who are approved for the program. 


 

GRAND PRIZE (Ribbons n Stitches):
1 Bumkins Pocket Diaper
1 Bumkins Cover
2 FuzziBunz Elite's
2 Kawaii Heavy Wetter's
1 Thirsties AIO
1 Thirsties Fitted
2 Best Bottom Shells
2 Microfiber Inserts (1 Medium, 1 Large)
1 Changing Diapers Book
FuzziBunz Hanging Diaper Pail
Cutey Baby Wet bag
Rockin' Green Sample
Jar of Mother's Love

RUNNER-UP PRIZE (Hop Scotch):
1 Original Ergo Baby Carrier (Black/Camel)
SECOND RUNNER UP PRIZE (Jack Be Natural):
4 Bububibi Bamboo Pocket Diapers
1 Go Green Champ 2.0


OTHER PRIZES INCLUDE:
Glow Bug Cloth Diapers - Cloth Diaper
Buttercup Baby - Incredibum Bamboo Cloth Diaper in Raven
Pure and Simple Baby - Dandelion Organic Diaper Bag
Boba - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize
Rockin' Green - Bag of Laundry Detergent 
The Balm - $30 Gift Card 
Rumpkinz - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize
Super Lotion - Pure Joy Pack, (5) Happy Packs, Super Happy Pack, Lip Balm
Lollido - Green Pocket Diaper
Diva Cup - Size 1 Pack w/wash & Size 2 Pack w/wash
SoftBums - Omni Solo Cloth Diaper Pack
Fluffy Wishes - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize (HINT: Econobum) 
Green Baby Goods - $20 Gift Card
Greenie Beanie Bottoms - $20 Gift Card
Ecobloomers - $10 Gift Card
FuzziBunz - 2 Elite Diapers (2 Winners)
Bummis - Cloth Diaper Starter Pack
Jack's Choice - $15 Gift Card
Kissed by the Moon - Hanging Planetwise Wet Bag
Scents from the Moon - $15 Gift Certificate
Kalasz Krafts - $15 Gift Certificate (handmade baby items)


Some Notes About this Giveaway:
  • Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. There are no mandatory entries, but the more entries you have, the greater your chances of winning. Remember that there are tons of prizes to be given away, so that increases your chances even more!
  • In order to be eligible for the Mystery Twitter ONLY Party Prizes, you still must enter on the Rafflecopter form below, but you must also tweet at least once during the twitter party on July 24th (9-10pm)
  • All prizes will be announced at the Twitter Party. All winners will be contacted by the e-mail provided on the Rafflecopter form.
  • Open to US and Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Scars

When you think about it, well, it's almost laughable in an insane, sad-to-the-point-of-tears way.

Here we are, a group of people who are lacking.

Yes, lacking. Own it. Here we are, we who carry deep scars, who carry loss... and we are trying to make more out of ourselves.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

I meet women who have spent their entire lives being filled with fear over childbirth. Every image, every word, every reference and memory in their lives has told them that birth is scary, painful, dangerous and that their bodies are defective, misshapen and unpredictable. And somehow, they are going to "trust birth" and "try for a home birth."

I meet women who have NEVER seen a child nurse at the breast. They read about it in books, and nowadays they look at photos and videos online. Their moms were formula fed, they were formula fed, and everyone around them was formula fed (or hidden away) and now, they are going to breastfeed. Not only breastfeed, but they are going to overcome myths, false medical advice, harassment, nosy relatives and all the many other boobie traps in our culture.

 Most of my friends who protected their children from circumcision have never even seen an intact penis until their sons were born. And they are going to raise these intact children. They are going to go through natural retraction, and deal with fiddling relatives or touching pediatricians who try to push surgery every step of the way.

Why do you think vaccines are so popular? Parents don't even know what the vaccine name stands for, let alone what the diseases are, how they are transmitted, how to identify them, how to treat them and how to prevent complications. And now they aren't vaccinating.

People are scarred, perhaps physically as well as mentally, emotionally and spiritually, by the parental discipline they received. They learned to obey or be hurt. And somehow they are supposed to have deep, permanent, intimate relationships with open communication?

Collective, human knowledge was wiped from our culture. And somehow, people are going to continue forward. Are we crazy? Is this possible? Are you already feeling anxiety, growing in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel the edges of darkness pushing against you, the whispers of doubt, telling you it's futile?

Here's one of the many reasons I dislike receiving praise for my work on here. I grew up in a completely different culture. BTDT (Been There, Done That).


I'm not a rockstar for birthing at home and raising intact children. I'm not a crazy genius for spotting an illness and treating it before it becomes serious. I'm not a supermom for feeling laidback or knowing what to do in parenting scenarios.

No, you women who are creating something out of nothing, who are paving a way without any support, or food for the journey so to speak, without that mother to guide you or that internal reference and childhood memory to direct you...no....you are the women who are amazing. You are the women who are courageous. You are the women who are rockstars and superheros.


I grew up caring for intact children. I grew up experiencing and learning about vaccine related illnesses. I grew up watching breastfeeding and homebirthing and bedsharing.


On here, I feel as if I'm in an odd place. I carry scars and yet I've been given something. I come back to this, unsure of what I'm supposed to do with it. My mom punitively parented me for several years before she grew and changed, creating love out of nothing. I had a traumatic birth. I was injured by vaccines. Formula fed. All that random stuff. And then everything shifted.


I watched my mom create something out of nothing. I watched her breastfeed when she had never seen it, when no one around her permitted it. I watched her raise intact sons when everyone else despised her for it. I watched her learn about vaccines in a world that shunned information.


I come back to this one moment.


My dad was down the hallway, in the bathroom, washing his hands. I was by my mom's side when she birthed, alone, trusting her body. I sat in the corner of that room, dark, quiet, late. I listened to her whisper for comfort and strength. "Hail Mary," she whispered. "You are the Mother of God," she said, her lips barely moving. "Please, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where I'm going. But I'm going somewhere away from all this darkness." My mom, without a mom (at least on this earth) to guide her, without supportive friends or a helpful culture or an evidence-based doctor or a parenting guru who sells books or the internet and Facebook, found her way. She found her way to happiness, peace and love and she brought her children to that place.


And I'm standing here today to tell all of you that no matter how deeply your scars run, your ability runs deeper. No matter how dark it is, you DO know the way out. My mom found the way. I watched her. I know.