Life can be serious business.

What It’s Like Being A Mother and A Survivor of Abuse

our landI’m guest posting on Kristi Campbell’s Our Land Series today. I have followed Kristi, at Finding Ninee, since I started blogging. Her Our Land Series is something that I immediately connected with, and am so proud to be among the other brave, insightful writers she has hosted.

“That panicked physical reaction I speak of, steams from the fear instilled in me as a little girl, when my abuser walked in to my room at night. The abuse distorted connections in my brain that appropriately associate things correctly, like love and fear.”

Please head on over to read more:

What It’s Like Being a Mother And A Survivor Of Abuse

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Life can be serious business.

It’s A Shame About Shame.

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Shame has a crushing feel to it. I think to those that have felt or continue to feel shame, it’s suddenly having a spot light aimed on you. It’s the turning of your stomach, like a cement truck, endlessly twisting what’s inside. Shame is that instant jerk of my head, so as not to force another person to have to look me in the eyes. It’s the belief that I am damaged goods, and everyone knows it.

Shame is a burden I have carried most of my life. It seems to come with the territory of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It wasn’t something I identified as a consequence of the abuse. Growing up, I didn’t know life without it. I felt like I walked around with a neon, flashing light on my forehead that said, “Don’t look, I’m gross.”

Shame is still present in my life. It doesn’t consume me, but becomes an occasional reckoning force. Nothing turns that spotlight on as bright as talking about being a mother suffering with depression and suicidal ideations.

When people talk about suicide, it often lacks an empathetic tone. I don’t fault people for this. It’s not my wish that anyone should feel a pit so deep in their soul, that they crave to feel nothing at all instead.

I’ve been in many conversations where the word “selfish” has been used to describe someone’s decision to attempt and/or succeed at suicide. People say things like, “He has a good life – why can’t he just see that?” Believe me, he can. That’s what makes the coat of shame so thick. In spite of everything he may have –  family, money, love – his brain will win every time.

I used to immediately slouch my shoulders and look away from others when the topic of mental illness or sexual abuse would come up. I would feel as if I was burdening others to know they were talking about me. The secret that I am that tainted person, may upset them, so best to just sink in to the pavement.

Shame makes you feel like it is not your choice whether or not you can openly talk about what was done to you, or what was etched in to your DNA. I never felt like I was allowed to let anyone know that I genuinely have felt like suicide was an option. I didn’t know how to not put someone else’s comfort level above my own.

I’ve learned though, that drawing attention to the fact that I can empathetically talk about the subject of depression and abuse actually heals me. Discussing it, has become one of the most effective tools I own. I can help control the conversation when I use the unfortunate knowledge I have, and steer it in a productive way.

It doesn’t come without a strong pull on my chin to look at the ground when I actually do join a conversation. I try my best to fight it. Ridding myself of shame has been like strengthening a muscle inside me. Every time I refuse to look at the ground, instead keeping eye contact, as I confidently discuss a first hand knowledge of something our society sees as taboo, that muscle strengthens.

People talk about fighting stigma but go about combatting it in a processed, packaged way. The stigma exists because of the shame. Lets start accepting that to be worrisome or embarrassed over what you can control, is to be ashamed. Feeling shamed, is what happens when something is done to you. One is always without choice. Understanding the difference is critical and can in fact save lives.

**Originally featured on Crazy Good Parent

Don't take life too serious.

The Forgiveness Culture Doesn’t Work For Me.

If I see one more “spiritual” meme about forgiveness come through my Facebook feed, I just may start flipping the bird to random people.  Encouragements to forgive irritate me.

Our culture is caught up in the idea that forgiveness is a soul cleansing act that will graciously lead you to recovery.  The forgiveness rhetoric is so heavily associated with moving forward and the idea that it will rescue you from harboring ill will.  I don’t buy it.

When things don’t sit right with me, it can have a physical effect.  My gut is far wiser than my brain or my heart.  It doesn’t seem to be as gullible.  As I get older, I tend to let my gut lead more.  My tendency to do so pushed me away from the forgiveness gospel.  No part of exploring the idea of forgiveness felt good on me.  It actually cheapened the outrage I have learned to tap in to and made me feel smaller.

What if I'm not angry anymore?
What if I’m not angry anymore?

Given the extent to which I have been doused with dysfunction and used for another person’s gain, I’m not so sure I am wired to accept that belief.  Furthermore, I think it’s a little bit of bullshit that any person that has had their body and mind violated against should be advised or expected to forgive the perpetrator.  The socially accepted voice that tells me I need to forgive to obtain closure is righteous and lacks empathy.  Learning that has brought me more closure than any failed attempt at forgiveness.

My story is worth holding on to.
My story is worth holding on to.

I could not, and still cannot, wrap my head around telling someone that willingly made a wrong and somewhat lethal choice, over and over again,  that I forgive them.  For me, telling the man that abused me for eight years of my young life, “I forgive you” is telling myself “it’s ok”.  As in, oh don’t worry about, no big deal, I’ll survive.  It’s not ok.  People say when you forgive, you can let go.  Let go of what?  Let go of any part of my story and ignore how I have had to adapt because of it?  No thanks.  I’ll hold on to that.

I didn’t need to offer forgiveness to find the kind of closure I needed.  Without forgiving, I managed to tone down the panic and trauma.  I needed self acceptance and the ability to embrace all of who I am.  Now I just need a shift in our culture so that I don’t feel like I did something wrong or I am inconveniencing someone else’s comfort level by telling my story.

WTF
WTF

I call bullshit.  A “strong” person is one who has found the courage to scrape off the layers of shit and shame abuse glues to you.  The film that needs to be peeled back and eventually removed is a lifetimes worth of work.  For me, forgiveness just doesn’t have a place in that battle.