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Next Life, NO Kids: May 2015

May 28, 2015

Some of us don't want to talk about it

When I was a little girl, someone touched me inappropriately. It was not the last time I was abused, but one of the most traumatic. So much that I have blurred recollections about what actually happened. What I will never forget are the feelings I experienced, and the awareness that it was very wrong.

When I was fifteen I lost my virginity, and those awful feelings flooded back and consumed me. I felt isolated and small. I felt lost and mentally fucked, so I confided in a very close family member.

I spoke up. I called him out.

Not only was my admission not met with compassion or support, it was met with anger. I was given specific reasons why it could never have happened - why my feelings were invalid. I felt scolded for suggesting that such a thing could ever have occurred, and was told quite matter-of-factly I must have “misunderstood.”

Obviously, that was not an “appropriate” response to what took an incredible amount of courage to voice, but that's what I got. Of course I wish it had been handled differently. Looking back, it is not surprising that later that same year I found solace in the numbing effects of alcohol.

Over the years, with the help of a therapist specializing in trauma, I have made peace with the fact that what happened to me will never be acknowledged. I have even apologized to the person I confided in for causing upset. I concede that these things will haunt me until I die, but because I have had time to process and heal - independently of how others feel - it no longer owns me.

Still, I don’t want to talk about it.

I am very comfortable not talking about it.

I find it very difficult to function in my daily life when I am focused on it. I like functioning; so I do my best to avoid the topic.

This week I find myself wondering how I would have felt if news of my admission and its response had been made public - if the whole world had been invited to offer an opinion. 

I wonder how it would have made me feel, during one of the scariest, most vulnerable times in my life to have my picture plastered all over the Internet labeled VICTIM with my story attached, available to anyone and everyone.

I wonder how it would have affected my ability to heal, the meager yet manageable ways I have, if my story had been exploited; used to make points about how often young girls are devalued in our society. 

I think about how it would feel to know that something so personal was out in the universe, being spoken about and shared by strangers all over the internet - all over Facebook.

Granted, nobody invited a television crew into my home for entertainment purposes. No one signed away my rights to privacy and opened our front door to public scrutiny.

Everyone has an opinion. They’re like assholes or something, right? Sometimes they stink.

I currently have myself on Facebook restriction because so many people want to write and talk about what happened to those poor Duggar girls - how fucked up their family is. I can’t scroll through my news feed without being blasted by the pictures, click-baitable article titles, and “Related” posts. I can’t even mention the fucking related posts. It's disgusting.

Some of us don’t want to talk about it.

Some of us are very comfortable not talking about it.

Some of us can’t function in our daily lives when we’re focused on it. Some of us like functioning, and do our best to avoid the topic.

Some of us have to step away from social media for this very reason; to avoid feeling repeatedly violated and overstrung beyond words by mug shots and articles about pedophiles and the explicit details of the torture they've inflicted.  

Sometimes after even just seeing a post like that it takes me days (or longer) to recover from the imperceptible mind fuck. It shocks my system and I feel all those feels all over again. Suddenly I'm on guard; a raging ball of anxious agitation. If you have never experienced an exaggerated startle response, be very grateful. It feels like being poked with a live electrical chord, and can be provoked by something as benign as someone saying my name in a quiet room. It's fucking awful.

That's my problem though, not yours. 

Some might suggest, given these facts, that I simply remove myself completely from Facebook. After all, why should people have to watch what they post just because someone else might be affected in ridiculously negative ways?

Every time a story shared seemingly for shock value or commentary comes across my feed, I wonder how the survivor of that story might feel about it being shared 100,000 times with comments like,“Can you believe this?”

Yes. Yes we can.

I understand that these things need to be discussed, and that not talking about it is not the blanket solution for childhood sexual abuse. I guess I’m just uncomfortable with the line.

Where is the line between being proactive and discussing these matters without desensitizing them to the point that we might as well be sharing a recipe for apple pie? Where is the line between sharing news and current events without provoking and promoting fear and wretched anxiety? Where is the line between discussing tragedy and exploiting it? 

Where is the line? Is there one?

If we’re sharing posts to get the word out or to be proactive and preventive, let’s do it! I'm on board! I just feel really uncomfortable with the amount of scandalous shit posted every single fucking day just for the sake of outrage. I know I'm not the only one with a traumatic history or reoccurring symptoms of PTSD, and I'm not the only one wishing friends would reconsider sharing certain things.

The process of dealing and healing after trauma is extremely personal; whether it is discussed ad nauseum or never ever again. Having experienced so much in my own life, it hurts my heart to see these personal matters handled in such an insensitive and impersonal way, as if the victims' feelings don't factor in.

Those girls were violated; their lives forever changed. They may never fully recover, and their wounds may never completely heal. Maybe they want to talk about it, maybe they don't, but I can assure you they do not want the world talking about it. I can't imagine this a part of their lives they wanted in the spotlight.

Maybe they don't want to be made the face of injustice, used as an example of the terrible things that happen to little girls, or be exploited to make that point. How can we voice outrage about their human rights and feelings being devalued, while we callously plaster their faces and personal matters all over the Internet?

Please. Tell me.

I understand the ramifications resulting from lack of adequate support and action after a disclosure. I understand and believe that education and advocacy is necessary and useful when it comes to childhood sexual abuse and trauma. I just don't understand how pointing fingers and exploiting the pain of its victims serves anyone.

The next time a tragic story pops up in your news feed, I beg you to think before clicking "share." Ask yourself how you might feel if the story was about you - if you would feel comfortable with hundreds of thousands of people viewing it if it involved your child. 

Please be aware that you may have friends, like me, who may feel horribly triggered by the graphic articles and photos you choose to share on social media. 

Some of you won't mind, but some of us don't want to talk about it. 

Whether you love what you just read or hated everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. Come be social with me!

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May 07, 2015

Alcohol Was Killing Me

On the first day of May in 2000, I wanted to die. That day I wasn't living - I was surviving. I was suffocating. I was self-medicating. I was in pain - the kind of pain I hope to never forget - and experiencing the kind of hopelessness not many people can or will ever understand. 

Alcohol was my best friend and constant companion. The moment I drank him in, I knew that nothing else would ever feel as incredible. I was fifteen the first time we spent the night together.

He immediately invited me into his world, and I felt like an awestruck Dorthy in Oz by how brave and powerful I could be in his presence. He made me feel brilliant and beautiful.  

When I was seventeen, he made me a mother.

I only saw him at night, because I didn't want to be an alcoholic, but I thought of him often throughout my days. Sometimes it felt like I was holding my breath until I could solidify plans to see him again. 

I put up with people I didn't want to in order to spend time with Alcohol. I started hanging out with only people who admired him as much as I did, and simply outgrew those who wished to limit themselves. I began to justify leaving my daughter every night of the week so I could be with him. 

Some people didn't understand this shift, and "worried" about me - my ability to be a good mother. Alcohol assured me I didn’t need those people. He believed they were all holding me back. 

He believed in me. 
Alcohol Was Killing Me - Next Life NO KIds

Slowly, but surely, Alcohol made his way inside my strong-willed and stubborn mind. He befriended all of my insecurities, and nestled himself right between my feelings of intense fear and comfort. 

He began to isolate me - to shield me - from the world, and it made perfect sense that he was just trying to protect me. After all, Alcohol and I had been together long enough, and he had witnessed the ways in which my family and friends treated me. 

At first I tried to argue, but Alcohol never failed to offer enough evidence to convince me that no one had ever really loved me. It was almost as if he'd taken notes to keep track of their indiscretions.  

It wasn't their fault, he said. I wasn't very easy to love - I was practically damaged goods. I had no right to be a mother, and my daughter was better off anywhere I wasn't. He knew that, and didn't judge me like so many others did. 

Alcohol understood me. He was the only one strong enough to see through all of my bullshit, and love me for who I really was. I needed so desperately to feel understood, and it was comforting to be offered such unconditional love. 

Alcohol told me that anyone who couldn't respect and encourage the happiness and contentment I had clearly found with him didn't care about me - they were jealous. He proved to be all that I had, promised to never leave me, and kept that promise.

Even after the abuse started and our nights together resulted in bruises and scrapes on my legs, face, and arms - Alcohol was always there to comfort and hold me.  

I can't remember the first time he asked me to have sex with someone I hardly knew or knock someone down with my fists. I cannot recall the first time I lied or stole or manipulated to be with Alcohol. He made it clear that these were prices to pay for the security he provided me. I knew better. I have never been a weak-minded girl. I did what I had to do in order to keep Alcohol, because I couldn't bear to be alone after what I'd done, without him. 

My relationship with Alcohol became a vicious cycle of abuse, and I couldn't see it. I thought he was helping me cope. I believed he would help solve my problems.

Alcohol had a fierce and terrifying hold on me - the consequences of which were made better only by his ability to take my pain away immediately. No matter what I did -no matter who I was or couldn’t be, Alcohol loved me. I had spent my life searching for that type of loyalty and safety, and I felt at home in his arms - without limits. No matter what he did or who he was or couldn’t be, I couldn't leave him. 

Until I did. 

On the first day of May in 2000, I spent my last night with Alcohol. We had burned yet another bridge together, and I was feeling empty and exhausted. It felt like work to breathe, and I could not bring myself to reach out to any of the friends or family I had pushed away. I could not bear to admit just how broken I felt to the few people I had left, and Alcohol was no longer returning my late night calls for comfort. 

He had no doubt moved on to someone new, someone younger, more attractive and full of life - someone with more to take. I had nothing left.

That night I sat on a sheet-less mattress in a strange place, wrote my apologies in an old notebook, and ingested a hand full of pills I had been previously prescribed. The bottle was full, because I had been urged not to "mix them with alcohol."

I woke up the morning of May 2nd, terribly ill and desperate for change. I had no idea what that would look like, but I was willing to admit that I could not fix my problems without help. It was clear I couldn’t trust Alcohol anymore, and that he was causing more harm in my life than good. It was one of the scariest things I had ever faced, but I knew I could no longer live with Alcohol. I could no longer pretend I was living with him. I was suffocating. 

Alcohol was killing me.

I could never have imagined that, fifteen years later, I'd be sitting here writing about celebrating another beautiful year of life without Alcohol.

It has been quite an incredible journey. I have learned so many things about myself, and examined the reasons I was so susceptible to such a devastatingly abusive relationship. 

Even after fifteen years of sobriety, I find myself wondering if perhaps I was just too young to handle the responsibilities of such a serious relationship back then. Sometimes, I wonder, "what if." Perhaps I could handle him now. And then I'm reminded that I was never weak when it came to Alcohol, he was just much stronger.  

I remember how manipulative and persuasive Alcohol was in our relationship, and how he never really had the power to take anything from me.    

I gave it all away. 

Every year on my anniversary, I celebrate the sisterhood that allowed me to earn it all back and grow into the woman I am today. I think about friends I have had and lost, and I remember those who didn’t get another chance at life. 

I don’t strive for the perfect brand of sobriety or recovery today, and I do not compete with others for the title of greatest sober person. I am not a "spiritual warrior." 

It has taken me very many years of sobriety/recovery to feel comfortable in my skin, and I’m still a work in progress. Breaking up with Alcohol did not solve all of my problems. It simply opened the door I had locked and bolted shut, and allowed the flow of hope back into my world.

Today I am a firm believer that with hope, everything is possible. 

If you are struggling with alcohol or other substances, please know judgment-free help is available. Please feel free to email me, or visit the Sober Mommies Resource Page for a list of many NON-12step and 12step recovery options. 


Whether you love what you just read or hated everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. Come be social with me!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, or on my Facebook Page!

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