Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Realities of Sexual Violence

When Bruce Banner shows up to the crazy scene in the Avengers movie, Steve Rogers says, "Now might be a really good time for you to get angry." Without missing a beat, Bruce says, "That's my secret, Captain, I'm always angry" and immediately transforms into the great green Hulk. 

My secret is not that I am always angry, it's that I am always scared.  Like Bruce, I do a good job at holding that strong emotion inside and only allowing it to be evident at certain times, but the truth remains: fear is always there. When fear takes over, I don't turn into a great green guy with super power; I shrink into a small camouflaged girl with super anxiety.  I don't join the fight; I run from it. 

When I am in the grocery store and someone stops behind me, I freeze.

When I am alone with a guy, I am frozen.

When it's just me and two or more guys, my insides are panicking.

When a guy stands too close to me, I'm freaking out.

When a guy puts his hands one me, my whole body shuts down.

When a guy is angry, I am scared he's going to hit me.

When a guy is calm, I am scared he's going to touch me.

I don't wear short skirts very often because when I do, my fear response is heightened dramatically.  I don't wear low cut shirts for the same reason. I am incredibly self-conscious and I will do what I can to not draw attention to myself... or my body.  This is likely the reason I am such a jeans-and-t-shirt girl; it's the safest thing I can wear.

The question is, why?  Why am I always scared? 

I am the 1 of 3 women who will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime.  Think about that.  I am describing what 33% of the female population possibly feel.  I know I am not alone in my fears, which is both a comfort and a sadness.  Everywhere we go there are women who are scared but yet put on a tough exterior to hide their fears.  

It's sad we do that instead of talking about it.  

It's sad that there is likely only one or two places where we actually feel safe.

It's sad that there are so many of us.

It's sad there are so many people who don't understand why we can be so jumpy, so anxious, so guarded, so hyper-vigilant, so scared. 

It's sad there are so many women who need counselling but will never receive it. 

It's sad that so many of us will be re-victimized. The first time I was sexually assaulted was at 13 years old (I had 2 close calls before that - but for the grace of God).  Since that time, I have been violated in some way or another by ten people, one of which is a woman. 

I'm not writing about this to get a "poor you" response.  Please, don't pity me.  Like I said, I am one of many, many, many women who have been sexually violated.  I am speaking for all of us.  

We have been victimized, but we are not victims.  It's not our faultWe didn't ask for it, we didn't choose it, and we didn't want it.  We are strong women who have survived some awful things happening to us.  We get up everyday and go about our lives, often acting as though we are fine.  We are learning to set boundaries.  We are rebuilding the door to our property that was violently broken down (see that post here). 

We are rising from the ashes.  What are living proof that what was meant to harm us is now being used for good - to save many people from loneliness, isolation, defeat. 

Is everyday a struggle? Yes, it can be.  Thankfully, I am working hard on my recovery.  I have support people, support groups, a supportive counsellor, and an internal drive to not live as a victim.  

My prayer is that all of us who have been violated (guys included) will find a safe place to begin the healing process and safe people who will journey with us. 

Stand up.

Speak out.

You are not alone.

We need to hear your story.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Being Distracted from Being Present

Distractions.  They keep me from being 'present'.  I have noticed lately just how 'not present' I have been in many situations.  My mind is going here or there when I am supposed to be listening to instructions for something, I'm scrolling mindlessly when I am supposed to be paying attention, or I am wandering around doing this or that when I should be focused.  I constantly think about the next thing instead of enjoying what is going on in the moment, I continuously have to bring myself back to the 'now' during some conversations (something I have never struggled with before), and when I need to be taking care of something that's pressing now, I find myself skipping ahead and to something that's not as urgent.

Yes, I am dealing with a lot of emotional stressors right now, which undoubtedly is a factor in my distractions, but I really don't like that I have to work so hard to be present and to enjoy the here and now.  

This propensity for distraction is not going to bode well with me once I start back to school.  I already notice that when I am reading I am thinking about checking my social media platforms.  I need to break myself of this habit!  I need to stay focused.  When I am grading papers, I can't be wondering about what so and so just posted on Instagram or what the latest trend is on Twitter.  I need to get back to a place where those things don't matter to me anymore. It's not healthy for me when the first thing I do in the morning is check who posted what on Facebook overnight.  I have to let it go.

Needless to say, social media has to go.  I'm not going to deactivate my accounts, but I am going to delete the apps from my phone.  I need to utilize self-control in this area so I can get the most of my time and the most of out of my relationships.  I am enjoying one-on-one interactions so much more lately, and I want more of that.  I am choosing to be completely engaged with the people around me.  I choose personal connections over social media.

I will check emails on a regular basis.  Emails are personal, written to me, and I enjoy connecting with people that way.  I also respond to texts since they, too, are personal to me. 

It's time to focus.  

It's time to engage.  

It's time to be present.  

After all, the present is a gift... it's time I enjoy it. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Busy is Coming (but so are the sweaters!)

There is something about the crisper air that sets my spirit ablaze.  It makes me come alive.  I am a fall-girl at heart: there's no doubt about that!

Some of my satisfaction and joy comes from the accomplishment of reading two books over the past couple of weeks. One was a fiction book a friend suggested from the church library,  and the other was a book of interest lent to me by a friend, and it wasn't laboursome.  Grammar, to me, is never laboursome ;) [It was Eats, Shoots & Leaves]

I stopped in at the College today and I got even more excited about fall than I was already.  It is only one more week until students arrive! I am going to be there that day to welcome them and connect with them. I can't wait!  I also said hello to a few friends there, and chatted with one of the profs I will be TA'ing for this semester.  I absolutely love being a member of the Heritage family!

With this next season also comes a lot of work.  I am taking 3 seminary classes, auditing 1 class, and  the Teacher Assistant for 2 classes.  I also work 2 part-time jobs, attend a weekly Overcoming Abuse group, attend and lead at Celebrate Recovery every Friday night, see a counsellor once every two weeks, am a full-time single mom, and somehow try to maintain my sanity.  Thankfully, these are all things I have chosen and I want to do. Nonetheless, it will be an intense semester. 

I probably won't be blogging much over the next few months, for obvious reasons, but then again, I may just need to use this outlet to help maintain that sanity I mentioned earlier :D

Whatever comes, I am so incredibly grateful to be living this crazy life.  It is filled with incredible people who enrich my life.  Thank You, God, for choosing me.  Help my life to reflect Your goodness. Amen.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

My Passion is Different (and that's okay)

It's okay that weight loss is not my main priority.  Do I want to be healthy? Of course.  However, it's okay that I don't live every day with my main goal as losing weight. 

I follow a lot of people on Instagram who have weight loss, exercise, and physical health as one of their top daily goals.  And, that is great for them.  They spend their lives motivating others to be healthier, and I commend them for that.  They have found their calling, or at least part of it, and they are living that out.  I think that is amazing, and I learn from them.

The thing is, we can't all be fitness people. Nor are we all called to be fitness people.

I have to give myself permission to be okay with the fact that I am not one of those people.  Yes, I will always work on my weight and health, but not to motivate others, per se.  I can be so hard on myself, thinking I need to be posting my workouts (when I actually go to the gym), the healthy meals I eat, and what my weight is.  But, that's not me.  

I did try that once.  I signed up to be a Beachbody coach.  I enjoyed the shakes, I took pictures daily, I worked out at home every morning.  It was a good lifestyle for a while, and I saw changes in my body.  But, I wasn't invested in it.  And, that's okay.

I do my make up every day, but I have never posted one make up video.  For some, that is their thing, but, it is not mine. 

Some thrive on clothing styles and brands and build a business around it.  I need those people so I know that what I am wearing is at least somewhat in.  If I posted my daily outfits, it would be mostly jeans and a t-shirt - or some combination of such.  

Some are passionate about a particular product and use their efforts to bring awareness and make sales.  I will sometimes buy the product, but I have no desire to sell the product.  And, that is totally okay

There are many passions out there - teaching, coaching, talking, designing, creating, cooking, etc.  The list can go on and on.

I used to believe that since I struggle with my weight, and I am working on being healthier, then I should be sharing that journey.  But, my passion is something completely different.  

And, that is okay

Let's embrace our uniqueness!