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Twenty Two.

That is how many drafts I have sitting in a folder that I can’t finish, can’t publish, can’t get quite right.

I want to write something joyful. I want these words to not always read so dark and deep. Sometimes I wish my mind, or heart, were lighter. There is no doubt I am grateful for my life, my children and the many blessings I have. Those are the things I think of first. That’s how I start my day, grateful.

But today, being back at work during this time, is strange to say the least. The office is empty compared to normal, and there is no-one to talk to, and if there were we still wouldn’t due to social distancing protocols. The café we normally use is half operational at best. There is sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Everyone is walking away from you instead of toward you. At first it was good to catch my breath, have some adult time. I needed to have time to sit in peace and quiet to actually get things done.

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to getting back to work today. Two weeks felt like two months without my routine. And while today I feel more grounded than I have in weeks, I wish I could sit here and tell you what an amazing day it’s been.

That I am feeling great, things are great, life is great.

But I don’t want to lie.

I needed to run errands on lunch since I haven’t been able to get out to the stores being that I have at least one of the boys with me at all times. The thing is, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point over the last several years I developed a fear or going out alone. I have mentioned it before, but today it was worse than it has been in a while. I have been on lockdown for two weeks. Maybe it only took that long to go back to being the scared little girl I started out as this summer? I don’t believe that, no. That can’t be.

I’m thinking more likely that the anxiety over current events has my regular fears heightened, escalated. It amazes me how real they feel. A quick trip to Home Depot and the Grocery Store had me lightheaded and clutching my chest to breathe by the time I pulled back into my parking spot at work. If it wasn’t absolutely essential that I get what I needed from the grocery store I would have put the car in drive and high tailed it out of there. Instead I put my head down, clutched my keys in my hands and quickly walked in and out.

I don’t always know when it’s going to hit. I freaking love the hardware store! Go figure! I know in certain environments where there are a lot of men and a lot of eyes, I will ultimately be more uncomfortable. But the thing is, I haven’t been out in the world alone in a very long time. It is so easy to forget that my ex and I did everything together. I barely left the house without the crutch of her being there. Then I could be comfortable. Then I could be in our little world and never even notice anything or anyone around me.

I hadn’t noticed the people around me for nearly a decade. And now it’s like someone walked into my head, took off the blinders, and turned the volume all the way up past ten. I can’t stop seeing people. I can’t stop hearing words I don’t want to hear. I can’t push away the uncomfortability no matter how hard I try today.

Not for long anyhow.

It always seeps back in as if it were just waiting for me to step outside of my bubble.

Nothing was that bad. 

I’ve heard it, and believed it, my whole life.  

And save one or two incidences, no maybe things weren’t that bad. For someone else.  But for me they created a world of cumulative experiences where I knew I could only be loved if I gave someone what they wanted.

Otherwise I was a bitch.

I’ve never had the self-esteem to walk away from that.  I had to fix it.  I had to make sure you didn’t think something negative about me. I had to be liked and loved.  And that’s how I learned what people wanted from people like me.

It wasn’t the rape that destroyed me.

It wasn’t the sexual assault by a state trooper that annihilated me.

It wasn’t the inappropriate baby sitter.

It wasn’t the hospitalizations beginning at 14 years old.

It wasn’t the boys who wouldn’t be my friend if I didn’t do what they wanted.

It wasn’t the girls who had those exact same expectations, though I thought I’d be safe.

It wasn’t the Sexual Harassment on an almost daily basis from the time I started working.

It wasn’t the countless nights I didn’t know what happened but could surmise.

It wasn’t even the fact that all these people could do these things and walk away with zero consequences, when the price that got paid came out of my pocket: My self-worth.

Now, add them up. 

Add each instance, from each column up.  

What you are left with is a person terrified to be back in the outside world. Skin crawling, self-loathing, can’t breathe mess of a woman.

Petrified of things that should not scare me. But they do.  They do because it all adds up.

A row of bushes lining the sidewalk?  I can’t walk past them alone.  I will walk in the street before I walk past a towering hedge at night.

If I am alone my back is to the wall, I will not allow you to touch me when I can’t even see you coming.

I can’t walk down a sidewalk and have someone else be coming up it.  I need to step aside and wait, I can’t take the stress of wondering if you are going to try to kill me.

I speed up when I pass construction workers, cops, men, groups.

I go into full defensive shut down at the doctor’s office.  Don’t touch me, don’t ask questions, move away from the terrified lady on the table.

No, maybe none of it was all that bad.

But for me, I think it just all added up.

 

 

No More, Not This Time

Walk into a room and before any words are spoken, you know they all hate you.
Somehow from out of the crowd of people hating you, comes a friendly face.
By now though, you already know what comes attached to that face.
A want, need, or desire that you do not intend to fulfil.
You want them to befriend you.
They want to use you.
Maybe they do decide they like you. But for something unsustainable.
Then, when the pedestal they put you on shatters, they leave you.
98% of my relationships are conditional.
Am I pretty enough to parade around?
Am I too loud with opinions, or feelings for you?
Am I shocking you by not wanting to bed you?
I wish the bubble thing that you can stay inside of to protect yourself was real.
I wish my first instincts weren’t usually correct. I wish I didn’t almost always know what you want before you even mutter a word.
Here’s the thing though. I do know. I learned far too early what people want.
I’ve spent years proving to myself that I am more. That I have skills and assets outside of what a person wants from me.
Slowly but surely, I am learning that I am enough, even when the masses want more.

 

Parent

I’ve never known what I wanted to be when I grew up. At least not in the typical sense. But for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom.

In my wildest, most vivid dreams I could not have imagined this life I have today. There were days, years even, that I couldn’t see past my own two feet. Let alone clearly enough to care for a family.

While going through my own trauma, I had no idea I would one day need every ounce of that strength to help me see my children for who they are and what they need. It isn’t that I think our experiences are the same, but whatever it is that I need to be their mom, I have. I have it, because of my own journey, my own lessons.

This isn’t easy though. Not by a long shot. I’ve noticed though, that to be good at something does not have to mean it nessesarily comes easy to you. It is okay to struggle, because for me, that is where the growth is.

It is natural for me to think I know what is best, and that noone else could possibly provide it for them. That I alone can protect them and keep them safe. This is ego talking to an extent.

The reality of this parenting thing is that much like most other things, I can’t control what is going to happen to them. I can give them every last shred of what I have, and every pearl of wisdom I possess. It still might not be enough. They are still going to get hurt, fall, screw up and honestly, suffer.

I have to chose to believe that if my suffering was worth it, theirs will be too.

Do You Know Who You’re Sitting Next To?

I can put up with a lot of things.

As a woman who is Gay, Bipolar, and a victim of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, I have sat at many an uncomfortable table in my day.

I’ve had to listen to my friends and acquaintances throw around words like “crazy”, “ugh, I wanna slit my wrists” and my favorite, “so-and-so belongs in a mental hospital”.  Ignorance must be bliss.

Many times, especially lately, with current events as they are, I’ve sat through parties, lunches and dinners where they are callously and ignorantly tossing out hate speech about “the gays” and “trannies”.  Both abhorrent.

What I can’t do, is sit at a table and listen to people blame a woman for being raped, assaulted or harassed. Let alone these people blaming little girls for the same.

This has happened to me twice in the past week. Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was associating with people, women even, that find a way to blame a woman’s short skirt, or online dating for her being a victim of assault.

I can’t hear that. I can barely read it on my news feed, let alone hear the sentiments uttered aloud.

Fourteen years and an exorbitant amount of therapy later, I still blame myself.

Listen, I’m smart. I know logically, factually that I didn’t cause my assault, but in my heart and soul I blame myself.

If only I wasn’t drinking.

If only I was wearing something else.

If only I had done this or done that.

Screw you, I didn’t ask for this.

If a man can’t control himself around a drunk girl at a party, maybe he isn’t quite ready to dorm at college anyway?

If a man can’t control himself around my 19-year-old self’s jean skirt, maybe he has not business being a cop?

Let’s all do the world a favor, and stop talking about things we know nothing about, eh?

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