Tag Archives: survivors

Workin it out

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Not much makes me feel more awesome than a good workout. I love a variety of workouts, but these days I spend most of my time in Body Combat, Butts & Guts, and working with a personal trainer. I also love me some Turbo Fire and Taebo.

Having some sleeping issues lately. I’ve got worries. Not a ton of worries like I used to, but stuff keeping my mind too busy to relax. The more I workout, the more I’m too tired to stay up all night. So that’s a benefit, in addition to the fact that I feel healthier, I’m losing some inches and fat, and gaining some strength and muscle.

What I thought today while working out is…it’s the same as my healing. It’s just me and my mind and my body that have to get through it. My trainer doesn’t ultimately care if I meet my goals. Meeting those goals is on me. Just like healing. I still go to therapy and I completed some groups and those things are terrific. I have awesomely supportive people in my life. But none of that is any good if I don’t work on my mind and my body to push through the memories and the muscle tension and the moments when I completely shut down.

I made the decision a few years ago that sexual assault would no longer rule my mind and my body and that I would make big changes that honored who I am. I’m so proud of the big changes I’ve made and the new patterns I’ve created for myself. But I get lazy. Just like sometimes I don’t wanna workout, so I make excuses. I guess the main thing is that I always come back to the hard work. I keep plugging along, workin it out.

I can do it. But it is hard sometimes, you know? Really hard.

I took a big risk this year by asking to be 1 of 5 survivors picked to talk publicly about our healing journeys at an event in April 2018. And I got picked! I’m so excited!! But also terrified. I need it. Somehow when I attended the event this year I just knew that I needed to do it. I have been a spectator at the event the last three years. It is powerful and awesome. And I decided while sitting there this year that it’s exactly what I need to push through the last step in my healing journey. Sure, I’ll always have some work to do to stay on track, just like going to the gym. But this goal will keep me from being lazy.

I gotta keep workin it out. To be me. At the gym and for this event and for the rest of my healing life.

KK

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Maybe it is all me

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I read a Facebook post once that was called You’re Allowed to Leave and it had many statements in it that I really value.  Statements that have been so important to the last 6-8 years of my life.

Statements like

  1. “You’re allowed to leave someone you love if they’re treating you poorly, you’re allowed to put yourself first if you’re settling and you’re allowed to walk away when you’ve tried over and over again but nothing has changed.”
  2. “We sometimes look at leaving as a bad thing or associate it with giving up or quitting, but sometimes leaving is the best thing you can do for yourself.”
  3. “Leaving allows you to change directions, to start over, to rediscover yourself and the world. Leaving sometimes saves you from staying stuck in the wrong place with the wrong people.”
  4. “Leaving opens a new door for change, growth, opportunities and redemption.”

And it made me miss writing and paying attention to the blogs I follow.  I need to remember those things more often to stay present in my life.  To remember how far I’ve come in rediscovering myself and growing.  To remember that it’s ok to change, it’s ok to ask for change, and that where I am now is so much better than feeling like I am to blame and I am broken.  So much better then believing that my ex was right in saying “maybe it IS all you” when I commented that he wasn’t taking marriage counseling seriously because he was just waiting to hear that it was all my fault.

I can always tell when I’m getting complacent with my mental health.  Because I start to think about all the things I decided I would do when I left my marriage, some of which I didn’t do.  And in every conflict I feel like “yep, it really IS all me.”

I know that’s not true, don’t I?  But I go right back to it when things go wrong.  And then I wind up here, where I start thinking that it MUST be true, it is me who is not capable of healthy relationships.

And then I remember it’s ok to protect myself first.  To love myself first.  To remind myself of my value.

And that still feels great.  I really do know that I am not to blame for everything and that I am not broken.  I know that I own my feelings–as a victim, a survivor, a mother, a friend, a coworker, a girlfriend, and all other things I identify as in life.

I have written lots in the last couple years, but published none of it to this blog because I started to want to hide again. Not because I’m unhappy, not at all. I just started to wonder if I needed it.

I do. Not for recognition, but validation. And accountability. If I publish the things I think, then they feel real and I read them again and again when I need each reminder.

And because guess what? I am doing some really awesome things in my life.

I’m in a relationship that I value deeply and when we go through tough stuff, I know that we will get through it together. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to.

I am good at my job and I like it. I feel valuable and I love the people I work with and the people I serve in my role.

I’m still in therapy. I need it like some people need meds. It’s what makes me process and understand things without just laughing everything off and never being vulnerable.

I’m getting my body healthy. I took my body down with stress. I saw a naturopathic doctor and it changed my life. She looked at me as a whole and found ways that I could become healthy and not struggle with the same things and just be given med after different med. and I work with a personal trainer. I’ve lost inches, gained muscle, lost fat, lost weight, gained weight, and I feel like I finally found a way to be happy in my body. Not every single day, but most.

When you’re a survivor, you can sometimes despise your body. It’s a struggle for me. But I’m so close to putting that struggle behind me, and so I took a huge leap this year and said “pick me.” And they did. (I’ll probably tell ya, don’t worry.)

All those things happening in my life? I made those things happen. I am making those things happen every day. And that really IS all me. That’s a good thing now instead of being a phrase that felt so negative to me.

If I had never left, I wouldn’t know the many things I know today. And that too really IS all me. I left. I own that. I needed that.

And I’m ok.

KK

Moments of doubt

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Moments of doubt come at me when I least expect them.  Sometimes without me even knowing that it is doubt.  These moments feel like many things, none of them very pleasant.  I get tired of these moments.  I get frustrated and lazy and anxious.  I get unreasonable and crabby and negative.  I want to do nothing and just wait for the moments to pass.

Sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t pass very quickly, but fade into the background of my days.

I love to laugh and even on my worst days I can normally be found making jokes or having a good time.  But I still may be feeling lost inside.  Struggling.  Lacking the vulnerability that allows for full healing.  I ignore the moments and hide them in hopes that they will pass quickly.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many days like that for awhile and that is really nice.  The disclosure still comes to mind when I think of how far I have been able to go toward healing and not having to go back to certain doubts and certain thoughts that keep me from rediscovering the full me.  That disclosure seems so long ago and also seems like it was just yesterday.

Seeing The Monument Quilt was powerful for me.  I’m certain that it was not a mere coincidence that when I found out about the quilt, it was only weeks from being displayed in an area that I could travel to very easily.  An area that had additional anxiety and healing qualities for me.  It would be displayed on the very campus of my assault.  It never crossed my mind ahead of time that the location would keep me from going to see it.  I never felt a moment of doubt leading up to that day.

And then it was the very day I was to see it.  And then the doubt and the tears came as I decided I didn’t know if I could go.  But more of the fight inside me took over and I went.

I read stories and looked at the designs people made to release themselves from some of the burden of being a victim and becoming a survivor.  It is always difficult to read other stories.  I find myself thinking that some have suffered so much more than me and, at times, it is difficult to see other stories and not let the terrible doubts of rape culture creep into my head as judgment.  A terrible feeling and one I don’t allow to stick around for long at all.  It is so easy to pass judgment, on myself and on others, but in those moments it is SO important to remember that all suffering is terrible.  ALL trauma is true for that victim and I absolutely believe in every one of those people and their stories.  Our stories are no worse or no easier than others, no less rape and trauma.  The mind is so complex during trauma that many leave a situation not even fully understanding that what they experienced is rape.  THAT is why it is so important to believe someone if they tell you they were assaulted.  And to stand by someone who may be turning to you for support if they aren’t even sure that something happened or that what happened really was rape.  The feelings a victim experiences are so full of guilt, disbelief, shame, and so many other things, that many deny that it happened at all.

I believe.  I support ALL survivors.  And I was honored to see the quilt.  I’d like to reconnect with my group members to make a quilt square, but I’m not sure if I will or not.

I’m glad to have overcome my moment of doubt to see it.  There were squares for each city where it is being displayed and on those squares were blank fabric where anyone could write.  Part of my message was this:

It happened here and I will leave it here.  

And I am glad that I could do that.

KK

Success, Healing, Connections

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My group is over this week which is really difficult to believe and a little sad in some ways.   I can’t believe that 12 weeks has gone by so quickly!  I wasn’t sure I could get myself to go and now I am looking at the ending of the process and the beginning of renewed hope and healing.

We will have a celebration and wrap up for the last time together and it is really difficult to imagine not seeing these amazing women each week.  There is no way I can describe just what these women mean to me and how much I admire each one of them.  They are beautiful people, courageous, strong, and inspirational.  They have touched my heart in ways I can never thank them enough for even if I have a lifetime to do so.  They are no longer victims, but survivors and friends.  People I will think about often and cheer for even from afar.

We all began this group worried and feeling defeated by our stories, by the victims inside of us.  We pushed against the process and tried to get out of the toughest parts of facing our pasts.  We made it!  We pushed past our fears to our disclosures.  We owned our stories and released the shame from ourselves to give it back to the criminals who deserve to carry that burden.  The shame is not ours anymore.  I am so very proud of each and every one of us.  The power in the room each week as we reclaimed ourselves and took control of our lives and our stories is something I will never allow myself to forget.  The support I received from these women as I began to rediscover myself without the burden of the sexual assault shame will remain a powerful force for me each and every day.

I have begun to heal in ways I never realized I needed to and in ways I never imagined were possible.  Healing has opened my heart in a way that makes me feel completely ready to trust and love myself and others.  I don’t wake up anymore with the heaviness that I have carried for over 20 years, and that is absolutely the best feeling in the world.

This week is a big ending to an emotional process, but an even bigger beginning to the rest of my healing and the rest of my life.  I love that group therapy was placed before me and placed on my heart as something I was ready to accept and trust.  I love that I understand healing now and that I understand that I am no longer a victim, but a survivor.  I love that I can now leave the shame behind me for the most part and move on to the rediscovered me.

KK

Major Meltdown

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Today feels like it is all too much.  Today I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.  I feel anxious, I feel scared, I feel unprepared to move forward.  I feel to blame.  I feel like I should have DONE something.

I don’t know what.  I kept myself as busy as I could, but now it is night.

My group therapy has reached the point where we will begin disclosures.  This is the reason that this weekend was a major meltdown weekend for me.  I don’t want to do the disclosure.  I don’t understand what I should say.  It can be whatever we want to say.  What I need to say for healing.  I’m terrified to say any of it out loud.

It is so risky.  It feels so heavy.

The last time I had to say any of this out loud was on a witness stand.  It did not go well and was all over the tv and print news.  I testified in front of a packed-to-capacity courtroom where the judge had to stop the proceedings several times to ask people to act appropriately.  A courtroom where some people made sexual gestures at me and were warned that they would have to leave if it continued.  Why in the world was that behavior accepted at all??  The judgment I faced that day feels like it will be present for the disclosure.

On some level I understand that it will feel so different in a room full of people who understand many, if not most, of my emotions.  But that isn’t helping me want to go through with it.  If I don’t do it, I don’t successfully finish the group.

I WILL finish the group.  I just don’t know how.

KK

I am…whatever

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I’ve had 2 sessions with my new therapist.  As I said previously, it is no fun to start over.  However, this is going well so far and could possibly be something I wish to continue even when my other therapist would be available again.  I’ll deal with that when the time comes, I guess, for now I’m just happy that after 2 sessions I feel this comfortable.

I am somewhat stubborn.  I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, I’m open to other ideas and enjoy learning new things, and I really am ready to become the best me.  Still, I am somewhat stubborn.

I need a therapist who will push me to face certain things.  Without inappropriate laughter or justifications.  This woman is quite possibly that therapist.

Today, after only hearing me talk a bit about my week, she completely unpacked what was going on in my head that I was NOT saying.  Well done, lady.  Then she handed me Examples of Cognitions.  Oh boy.  The idea with cognitions is that we all have them, positive and negative.  With survivors of trauma, many of the cognitions are negative.  The lists of negative and positive are long.  When a person decides to do EMDR therapy, cognitions are discussed at length because the goal is to have the negative thing a person believes irrationally become untrue and replaced by a positive cognition.  I’ll give some examples from the list.  There are many more on the list.

Negative

  • I am not good enough
  • I cannot succeed
  • I am not in control
  • I am stupid
  • I am a disappointment
  • I am ugly
  • I cannot trust anyone
  • I should have done something

Positive

  • I am a good (loving) person
  • I am fine as I am
  • I can trust my judgment
  • I am significant
  • I did the best I could
  • I am lovable
  • I can be myself (make mistakes)
  • I can choose who to trust

When the therapist handed me the list, she asked me to look only at the negatives and choose one that feels the most true at this moment.  Unfortunately, many rang as truth in my head.  I started to physically shake while reading them (she wrote that down).

I should have done something.

That is the phrase that most represents my head most days.  In my day-to-day, logical state of mind, I fully understand that I am not to blame for being assaulted, ending my marriage all by myself, or ending my first serious relationship.  But I have absorbed all the blame and turned it into “I should have done something.”

The worst part of that ringing so true in my head is that I can’t quite follow the phrase back to where it began, but I really need to think about it more this week.  I will try desperately to make myself too busy to think about it during the day so I can do my life.  But at night, that is often how I feel going to bed.

I should have done something.

You know what the facilitator in my group therapy said when this came out as how I feel?  “That must feel very heavy.”

It really does.

So as heavy as it is, I am going to keep doing something until it isn’t so heavy anymore.

KK