Tag Archives: shame

Trusting myself

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It was beautiful and sunny afternoon, so I decided to take a walk with my dog.  We got ready and walked for a bit without passing anyone else.  There are walking trails that go all over my new town so we took one of those.  I have safety issues on the trails, but I’m getting a lot more comfortable.

As we were getting near the end of our trip, we got to a place where we would pass a few more buildings, some railroad tracks, and then a golf course would be along the road the rest of the way.  I looked down at my phone to read something and heard a car approach and stop across the road.  As I glanced over, a guy got out and started walking toward me.  Pretty quickly.

As this guy started toward me he said “hey, I noticed you have a cell phone and I am having car trouble, can I use your phone?”  All my safety bells instantly went off and thankfully, I replied without even having to think about it.  I said “nope, sorry, it is a work phone so I can’t let you use it.”  He scowled at me and kept coming, so I said “please don’t come any closer, you can’t use my phone, sorry.”  I had continued walking the entire time, but looked right at him.  He was definitely surprised by my lack of willingness to help.

Now, I’d like to take a moment to explain that I am well aware I have more safety issues than many people.  But I am also 100% sure that as I walked toward the area that guy was not out of his car flagging down people to help him.  In fact, I am positive that he pulled into the driveway and got out and then started coming right toward me.  There is plenty of traffic on the road, it was not horribly hot or horribly cold, and there was definitely no emergency.

In any case, he was surprised that I wouldn’t help him, but when I would not stop looking at him and said loudly not to come any closer, he stopped and started walking away.  I picked up my pace, but I kept my eye on that guy and then when I was too far to be safe looking behind me, I glanced back a few times to make sure he was back at his car.  I couldn’t see where he went.  But what I know for sure is that he didn’t stay at the side of the road to flag anyone down for help.  He was not within my view.

As I walked away, I started to feel guilt and shame!  It took me a little by surprise.  I totally shamed myself for not helping this guy and felt guilty and rather stupid for being so unwilling to help and assuming the worst.  After all, I told myself, this is a small town for gosh sakes, most people would think I was really rude for not helping him and a bit crazy for feeling so nervous.  I felt those things, but I can say happily now that I didn’t feel them for very long at all.

It was like a switch was flipped.  All of a sudden I realized that I can protect myself however I want to and it wasn’t about being nice to some stranger.  It wasn’t about him, my life and safety have to be about me.  And that’s ok!  I trusted my gut, instantly and without question.  Hooray for me!  That doesn’t happen very often to me.  I try to ignore my gut a lot.  This time I went with it.  And I’m really glad I did.

I know that he could have really needed help, but I also know that it doesn’t matter because he could get help many other places from many other people.  What is important is that I felt extremely uncomfortable with the way he was approaching me and I protected myself without thinking about it.  I felt something was off and I didn’t worry about hurting his feelings before protecting myself, and my dog for that matter.

If there is one thing I could do over as a teen and young adult, it would be to stand up for myself more and not worry so much about creating conflict.  If there is one thing I could do over as a mother, it would be to demand that my kids be allowed to voice their own opinions and be heard more by their father.  I don’t think they ever felt their feelings validated by him and because of that, they doubt themselves, they don’t trust their guts, and they don’t feel able to stand up for what they actually think and feel with him.  And with other people sometimes too.

I have worked hard to explain to my kids that no parent is perfect and I made lots of mistakes.  But I also will never go back to how I was, and I feel closer to them now than ever because of that.  They know that I value their opinions and choices.  They know I will always support and listen to them.  And I’ll continue to teach them to trust their guts.

Walking that day and taking control of me without worrying about what that guy thought felt great.  I’ve worked hard to learn that it’s ok to trust myself.  To protect myself.  And that’s what I did that day on my walk.

Trust your gut.

KK

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tequila and heartbreak

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I have written several posts in the past few months and then not published them or deleted them all together.  Because…shame.  It’s been present off and on in heavy doses because I’m making some major life changes and I have extra stress right now.  I’m also fighting feelings of failure. 

Maybe I’ll publish some of the posts that I kept, or maybe I’ll just keep them for myself.  But this one I am writing today because I don’t like keeping this secret inside that reduces me to feelings of shame and failure.  And I really do believe that speaking my experiences has been an enormous help to me in getting through the negative and feeling free to heal. 

I have been called a crazy dog lady many times.  I have an enormous, deep, and unconditional love for all the dogs I have ever had in my life.  I have an immediate love for most dogs I meet.  I would do anything to ensure my dogs feel safe and loved.  And I spare no expense on their health. 

I have been uncharacteristically quiet for the last several months about my dogs.  And that is because I was feeling like a complete failure.  Unworthy of having them.  Full of shame that I was going to have to face a decision I have judged people for many times. 

I am heartbroken still as I write this because I had to return my Tequila to her foster home last week.  

I’m taking a very deep breath as I feel the weight of what some of you will think as you read that.  And because I still cry every single time I think of her and what had to happen.  I don’t have any idea how to stop hurting over the loss I’m feeling not having Tequila in my home where I felt she belonged. 

My dogs were together 4 months before they fought for the first time.  It was terrifying and I didn’t know what to do or if it was an immediate reason they couldn’t be together.  But thankfully, I have great dog-loving people in my life and many great connections from volunteering for the rescue both Fiesta and Tequila came from when I adopted each of them.

I was quickly connected with a great trainer who worked with us in my home in order to bring harmony back to all of us.  And I had my dogs examined by their fabulous vet to ensure there were no medical issues going on that could be causing the aggression.  Their vet is someone I have relied on for many years now and I am so thankful for his expertise, advice, and support. 

I was so relieved that my home quickly became a house of beagle love again.  For awhile. 

Unfortunately, the fighting kept coming back and in the last few months it escalated to the point where I had to face the fact that they may not be able to both be safe in my home.

Then, one day a few weeks ago I put both dogs in the car to go to the park.  And just as I parked the car, a fight broke out in the backseat.  Before I could even understand what was happening, there was blood and I no longer remained calm as I yelled and tried other things that in the past had worked to prevent or stop fights.  In a split second of panicking and not thinking, I reached to grab a collar and got in the middle of them fighting in the way a person never should. 

With my hand.  

I felt the pain immediately and froze in hopes that my dog would let go, which she did.  And then they went right back to fighting with each other as my wrist started bleeding everywhere and I continued to struggle to stop them. 

Eventually, I was able to stop the fight and keep them separate in the car to get home.  They went into their crates and I headed to urgent care.  I was confused and hurt, both emotionally and physically. 

I still have pain and bruising, and it’s been a few weeks. But I was lucky I wasn’t bitten in a way that caused permanent damage.  

The damage to my heart is not healing as quickly. 

I tried to reunite them several times with no luck before I admitted to myself that this recent fight was the moment I knew that I couldn’t keep them together.  Everything I tried to make a safe home for them both has failed. 

I failed.  At least that’s how I felt at that time. 

I know I made the right decision to separate them, but it has been really awful. 

I will say again, I have great dog-loving people in my life.  I reached out to a few and received so much understanding, support, and love.  And I am so, SO thankful to each of you who were there for me in the last few weeks.  You know who you are and I just can’t thank you enough. 

Facing the fact that I couldn’t give both of my dogs the home they deserve is one of the worst things I have ever had to face.  

I know in my heart and my gut I did what was best for both of them.  Tequila is doing great in a place where she feels safe and loved.  She will be cared for by a rescue I respect that will protect her best interests and make sure she finds a great new home.  And Fiesta is relaxed, playful, and happy in a way she hasn’t been in a very long time.  That is good.  That is what they both deserve.

I helped my Tequila girl get through illness and reach her healthy weight.  And that’s success, not failure.  

I’ll have to hold onto that since I can no longer hold her little paws or rub her soft ears.  She won’t be with me, but she will always be in my heart as my dog. 

Miss you, Teq.  Soooooooo much. 

KK  
 

Another disclosure

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Well, as if the anniversary of an assault isn’t already enough in one week, I have my second disclosure tonight in group therapy.

A disclosure I can’t even see in my head at all.  I don’t know how it starts or how it ends or what it looks like in the middle.  I’ve been rather quiet about this round of group therapy.  Mostly because I’m still blaming myself for a lot of the stuff involved.  The group has been helpful in many ways, but I’m avoiding things and fighting myself every step of the way.  And I feel shame.  Blame.  Disgust even.

I’m really hoping to break through those barriers tonight. I’ve talked through the disclosure issues in my individual therapy and I’m kind of a believer in the fact that whatever needs to come out will come out during the moment the facilitator says go.  I couldn’t write it down because I didn’t know what to write.  And reading it would probably mean I would disconnect from the feelings and read it as if it was about someone other than myself.

Parts of this disclosure have sometimes come out in my relationship and I like when I just blurt out something and it is ok.  Validated even.  The freedom to work through this stuff out loud and sometimes completely at random is one of my favorite things about the comfort, support, and love I feel in my relationship.  I have never had that before now.  This kind of unconditional love is absolutely amazing and I cherish it every single day.

Tonight is about the Girl in the Corner.  I hope I can have some compassion for her and provide her with some forgiveness.  I want to be able to see her as a person who is worthy.  I want to be able to incorporate her into myself and accept that she is a part of me.  A part I don’t have to be ashamed of because wanting to be around someone doesn’t mean I asked to be humiliated or coerced or forced to have sex.

Part of me wants to run the other way and not show up.

But I have to do this for that girl.  She deserves so much more love than I give her.

KK

Can you give her a blanket?

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The girl in the corner came up at group this week. I was completely honest about her and had a physical reaction to talking about her–I got warm, my breathing was weird, and my body shook as if I was freezing.

She came up because we talked about fear and vulnerability. And things we avoid.

I absolutely avoid her.

After listening to me talk about her, the room was quiet. The group facilitators always know just how long to let you just sit there with your emotions so you can completely feel what you need to in order to figure out how to get through it. I quietly said that I can’t like the girl in the corner, I can’t give her a break, I can’t absolve her of guilt, and I don’t even like her. I won’t give her any credit and I just ignore her most of the time.

Then, the main facilitator said, “can you at least give her a blanket?”

I laughed. Cuz that’s what I do. Then I sat with that a minute and said, “I can try.”

We created our fear in a project I enjoyed during the last group and this group as well. It really is cool to just follow the instructions given and see what comes out in a project. First, we talked about what triggers fear. Some things for me were right there, almost waiting in the pen ink. I quickly wrote cigarettes, hometown, and high school people/connections. Then, after a pause, I added woods and card games.

I likely should have added the girl in the corner. Because clearly I am scared to have to face her. She’s not to blame and that feels true sometimes, but then all the victim-blaming attitude flows into my head. I try to put it into perspective and I just can’t quite get there. I feel defeated by her and by the idea that sometimes I said yes to this person. That over time, I got used to being treated so poorly by him that it was easier to say yes than no. That I convinced myself what we really shared was love. The kind in ridiculous teenage love stories.

But it was never real. And I can see that now.

And that’s when I punish the girl in the corner. How could you be so stupid? Why would you go along with something that made you feel sick to your stomach? Why wouldn’t you just walk away? Why didn’t you tell someone?

And the worst one, which is so often in the media today: why did you wait so long to say it??

Fear and shame. Denial and disgust. That’s why.

I have a lot of work to do here. I have to face someone I don’t want to forgive.

Myself.

When I had individual therapy before group I told my therapist I’ve been frustrated in group. Distracted. Feeling like I don’t belong there. Like my assault is “less than” because it isn’t the same as the other sexual assault I experienced. It isn’t clearly assault in my head. She asked me to pay attention during group the same night to what was really going on in my body. Am I really feeling distracted? Or am I putting a lot of energy into avoidance and denial, and punishment of the girl in the corner? Am I minimizing the assault because I’m more willing to victim-blame the girl in that corner forever?

It was absolutely avoidance. An “l don’t deserve to be here like the other group members do.” And that scares me. It’s the kind of assault people, apparently me included, want to explain away as not that bad. But it IS as wrong as the sexual assault I experienced in college. And in many ways it is more harmful to who I am because it shaped who I was from age 15 on up to 38 years old.

Enough is enough. I will work harder in this group than I did before because what’s at risk is the real me. The girl I left in the corner. What’s to gain is more of what I’ve been experiencing since starting therapy and that is forgiveness and healing and freedom and acceptance and love.

I can’t hide now that all my therapists know I have been doing so up to now. They’ll help me understand and forgive the girl in the corner. They will help me understand that I am not to blame for what happened, even if I thought I loved the guy.

They will help me heal. And tonight, I promised to try by giving that girl in the corner a blanket.

It’s the least I can do.

KK

Taking on the girl in the corner

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***I kind of feel like this post, and many to come, should have some kind of trigger warning in addition to the fact that sometimes I will add sexual assault disclosure warnings.  But I am not sure what kind.  So let me just say please be self-aware when you are reading this post and any posts going forward for awhile.  This is very new to me and I have not spoken about it with the majority of people in my life or disclosed it publicly.  I have barely been able to recognize and name it and accept it myself.***

Well, here it goes.  I have committed to another 12-week Adult Sexual Assault (ASA) therapy group and it starts a week from today.  It is technically the same group I did last year.  The topic and goals will be the same and there will be a disclosure.

But for me, and I can’t even believe I am saying this, I think it might be scarier this time around for me.  The last group was extremely tough in many ways and disclosing that college rape experience was SO challenging.  However, even though I needed to rid myself of some blame, guilt, anger, fear, and shame, the completely logical side of me lived every day knowing that it really had not been my fault at all.  Getting through the group last year was about making a declaration, shaking off the shame, and recognizing that I have the right to complete healing in order to rediscover the me that was lost and ashamed and terrified. The level of healing that I have experienced from completing that group has been just awesome. I am thankful every single day for that group therapy success.

This time I will tackle some experiences with a specific person from my past that in my head are much more complicated AND that will force me to examine, discuss, accept and cooperate with that girl in the corner.  The one I avoid and ignore and cover with laughter.  And for the last 7 months or so, I have gone back and forth in my individual therapy between being ready to tackle this and trying to convince myself (and my therapist who wasn’t buying it) that it’s fine if I never deal with it because it doesn’t really affect me on a daily basis.  But it does and I don’t like that.

The worst part of taking on the girl in the corner is that I don’t like her and I don’t even feel like she is worth my time.  And I am ashamed of her.  And I sometimes even hate her.  And I don’t feel like anyone will believe her.  I judge her and disregard her.  I call her names and I blame her.

For anyone reading this post who hasn’t followed my previous posts and feels confused, that girl in the corner is me.  A younger me.  Somewhere between 16 and 20 most of the time.  And once in awhile she’s 38 year old me.  And I shoved her in the corner a long time ago, never to be dealt with again.  Or so I thought.

For this session of group, I may be disconnected or distant or crazy or mean or many other things.  Maybe I’ll be fun and happy most of the days.  Maybe I’ll look like I’m listening to you and have to ask you to repeat yourself.  I really have no idea what to expect.

So for now, I just want to say that I have great people around me and you each know who you are and what you mean to me.  If I don’t call enough, or laugh enough, or respond enough, or reach out to you it is NOT because you don’t mean the world to me or I don’t trust you or want and need your support.  This fight for healing is going to be difficult.  Because today, I can’t even talk about the experience as rape or sexual assault without immediately victim-blaming my very own self.

And that is a miserable feeling.

One I am proud to say I am ready to leave behind to continue rediscovering me.

So look out girl in the corner, I’m coming to rescue you and learn to love you again.

KK

What I must say about Cosby

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Every single article that comes out about Bill Cosby irritates me to the point of having to use my good coping resources. It’s not even the articles so much as the responses to the articles. The ignorant, victim-blaming, hateful comments from people who think it is some intentional “destruction of a legacy” is just ridiculous.

Let me start by saying that I was not there, I don’t know him, and I don’t know any of the women coming forward. I can honestly say his personality makes me uncomfortable, but I can also admit that who I see as a celebrity, isn’t always who the person really is in life. But my guts are good, and he’s always given me the creeps.

I believe every single woman coming forward with their stories about Bill Cosby. And I think it is brave and awesome because what I see in these stories is that women are sick of being told to shut up about being wronged.

Rape is in the news and it is freeing survivors from the burden of their secrets and their shame. And that opens them up to love and healing. And the telling of stories brings more women out of their shame until we, as women, will no longer tolerate how the world blames us for the crimes of others.

I love that. I adore every brave woman that comes out of her corner of shame to release that burden and put the blame where it belongs.

I believe the survivors. These women accusing Cosby have not asked for money and are very aware he won’t go to jail for what he did to them so long ago. And to imply they are coming forward for fame is just absurd. All survivors take a huge risk telling their stories and face horrible backlash from strangers, and often times friends and family. That’s not the kind of fame anyone looks for in life.

It makes me so angry that people will defend celebrities to the point of making threats to victims and tearing apart their character. It’s so easy for people to call out the victims for being horrible people who are just after money or fame, but most don’t know the celebrity they defend any more than they know the woman they are dragging through the mud.

You think you know that actor, singer, coach, or athlete just because you watch them on TV?? You think that making gobs of money means someone is automatically a good person?? How awful it must be to have lost touch with reality and the people you can actually connect with in your life to idolize someone who doesn’t care one bit about you and never will.

I don’t get that at all.

I believe the women. Until I’m given proof that they are not worthy of my respect and support, I believe them. Because not believing them is the bigger risk. To them and to all people who are victims of rape.

KK

Asserting myself…maybe

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I’m still avoiding the girl in the corner. Mostly, I think I know why.

It is very difficult for me to talk about it because I never have fully discussed it outside of my disclosure night in my last therapy group. That night, information and realizations came out of me that I had never admitted to myself. In fact, I blatantly ignored the information that I was aware of and denied there could be anything I had not fully recalled.

I buried that girl in denial and shame. And part of me would really like to leave her right there.

Sometimes, you come in contact with people in life and you just wonder what possible good they are offering the world and the people around them. You know the people I’m talking about, don’t you? People who are just mean for no good reason. People who are aggressive or manipulative, or both. People who just say or do awful things without even knowing what they are talking about or why they are doing whatever it is they are doing. This blows my mind.

I was not a nice teenager, and I’m certainly not going to justify any of my bad behavior, but you can excuse teenagers for acting out some or being mean to some degree because they just aren’t fully developed, functioning people.

Here’s what bugs me the most right now about wanting to face that girl in the corner: I am scared of what she will do and say.

I have exactly 2 very challenging people in my world right now. And when their behavior gets to a certain point, I allow myself to think and feel in ways that the girl in the corner controls. I don’t like it. I haven’t learned to control it.

So there it is. I feel like I can’t.

On the logical side of my current self is someone who is well-aware that speaking my full mind to these 2 folks would be all wasted breath because they are not ready or able to hear what I have to say. This logical side is intersecting with the person inside me who just wants to defend myself and explain some things and make them understand and yes, just plain hurt them in return for the things they have said or done that I have allowed to hurt me. But again, that is because the part of me that isn’t done with therapy still feels that sometimes I can control or own other people’s reactions or feelings.

I can’t. That’s a thing that really sucks sometimes about communication.

But now I have new information that is causing me to regret one situation where I did not speak my mind. One situation where I have learned that with self-control and compassion, I could have asserted myself and that would have been perfectly acceptable and would have been just what I needed. I am a couple of weeks into group and last week this realization hit me like a 2×4 across the face. I can BE successfully assertive EVEN IF the person reacts in a way I don’t like or that doesn’t give me an opportunity to feel better about the situation. I have still done what I needed to do to feel good about myself. I have asserted myself. Successfully. Because the reaction of that person isn’t what controls the success of my learning to be assertive.

Bam! I love that realization.

I wish I had that realization a few months ago, but I didn’t, so I didn’t assert myself with either of these 2 jerks. And with 1 of them, that really bugs me. Worse yet, I allowed myself to get talked out of asserting myself. You know why? I sure don’t. That’s not typically me.

Now, my group facilitator would say that I still have the right to assert myself now even though the actual moment has long passed. And I understand that she says that because, again, the reaction of the person is not the successful outcome/measurement to me asserting myself. So who cares if I am a few months late in asserting myself? Well, I did care, but now I am beginning to feel that I cared for the wrong reasons. I let shame and ick from the girl in the corner get in the way of what I need to be happy.

Today I was driving some distance and I do some of my best thinking in the car. And what I learned today is that in the spirit of letting that girl in the corner start to heal, I MUST assert myself. No matter what the reaction. Especially when not asserting myself is holding back my healing.

So look out world, I’m about to rediscover my assertive self.

KK