Pumpkin Pie (Trigger Warning)

a cat with silver fur, black stripes, has wide eyes and is being fed a bite of pumpkin pie

Not how thanksgiving looks inside my head

Pumpkin pie, soft, creamy, and since mine is crustless just a wad of soothing and cold chewiness. The scent trickles into my mouth to tease at me, and is the only Thanksgiving day food I can eat without becoming ill. Mashed potatoes are also fine but must be different than the recipes from my family dinners. No gravy, cheese, and almost always something in the food. Turkey, I can barely type the word. I can barely say the word. I will not eat it. I have been forced to by people using that vulnerability against me and I react to it with a mental allergic response. It is not somatic but the PTSD triggers hard and fast.

This is what I expect of Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I remembered something that has given me a sense of relief. Today as I continue to process the revelations I am left staring down the barrel of gender identity issues. I have had gender identity challenges my entire life. They base in my being autistic and as many other autistic women face challenges of being accused of decidedly unfeminine behavior so have I. There is a root with in the numerous and enduring sexual abuse that has dominated my life and was the end all be all of my childhood. From being prostituted to ministers and the supposed holiest people I know at the age of three and raped by my father to the rape at gun point by a high school boy who didn’t seem to understand this was why I stabbed him with a fork at school when he put his hand on my shoulder. I once tried to cut off my breasts to become a boy, and I have never really appreciated my femininity.I am aware there is more to this, including the fact that I am intersexed physically. I have testicles AND ovaries. Maybe if my mother had eaten, I would have been a male child. Maybe not. I do not consider myself to be of one gender in a sense but I am either feeling male or female.

I have spent years keeping this a secret, and in public I might still. Yet I am thinking this doesn’t matter. My carer knows. My best friend knows. My sister of choice knows. I know. To me this is who matters. I dress according to the way I feel, and even my male side is prone to wearing dark red lipstick. It feels sexy. I have fought and clawed my way through life trying to exist, and I have been told repeatedly that girls just don’t fight back. It is a fiction in a bad life time movie that women can ever do damage, we are eternal victims.

It wasn’t JUST the media that sent me this message. Nor was it subtle. It is my nature to fight back when I am in danger. I have very good survival skills. I am fully capable of killing you if you try to kill me. I won’t murder you but I won’t let you murder me. This has been unequivocally a part of who I am and I have wondered if when I was raped for the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend, so Wednesday night on through a Sunday night, when I was beaten and when the fragmented memories didn’t match the normal abuse patterns… did I even try to fight back?

Therapists told me no. If I had tried to fight back then he would have killed me. Except he thought he did and I have very real memories of meeting Osiris the god of the dead in Egyptian Mythology and having him put me back in my body and ordering me to live. I have marks on my chest that match where his hands were. My father wanted me to be dead, and did not try CPR. He thought I was dead. I don’t know about pulse checking and I am very aware that this could be a response to the very serious trauma to my brain from being bludgeoned with a gun, but I was left for dead.

My mother, who a child loves and believes on pretty much anything until Mother proves to be a person. No matter the health of relationship good or bad, Mothers do happen to be humans and thus the teenager occurs. Yes, my mother spent my entire life telling me that we don’t fight back in my family. The men are the abusers and the women in my family are there to be hit. She has said less of this to my baby sister but the message still is there. Women don’t fight back.

I have had mental hospital doctors torture me over my fighting back, I fought them and yet I was not allowed to have fought back against my father when I was alone. My agency was denied as children don’t fight back unless they are penis bearers. My father made it clear that if we fought back we would die but there are other memories of me fighting back. My siblings sometimes declared their hatred of me because my morals got us into a world of literal hurt. Then again they also wanted me to lie and I am still very bad at that.

When I was somewhere between 11-13 and was raped by someone else and I did fight back the police told me they wouldn’t let the boy press charges. I took a bit of rebar to his head, his father’s car, his house and let his dog go (never came back). I was willing to kill him for what he did to me and yet again, the police told me that women just aren’t allowed.

The media does this too. In movies it is extremely rare for a woman to fight back unless she was already a victim with years of self defense, hiding in terror and her abuser finds her and then she either kills him, takes him back and tricks him, or is rescued by the new romance in her life. Not just life time folks but block buster films. It is never with in the intial attack that a woman fights back. In horror movies, the attacks come in waves and it is finally after a breaking point, or the loss of all of the human shields that the female fights back and often still dies. Running away is good, as happens in horror movies with the cliched fall so the bad man can still get you. This is an acceptable reaction and is something I approve of, just don’t trip.

It is the female who is unfeminine in movies that is the villain. Either a caricature of a woman with sexual appetites such as Famke Jansen’s role in a James Bond movie or a woman who is something ugly, othered or is somehow defective. These are our female villains. Any villainous who is beautiful tends to not be acting under her own charms or supposedly it is more scary for a waifish beauty to be bad. Again, by being beautiful she is supposed to subvert the norms of who is acceptable with in a violent situation.

Women become their traumas. This is the other message I have struggled with my entire life. I was reduced not to a bad childhood but this single moment in a trauma filled life. None of my traumas are my identity even if they chipped some of the facets of my personality or left scars on me that changed the outcome of my personal growth to this point. The good moments in my life had just as much impact and I am the result of everything I have thought, read, heard, and learned. Every person I met, every person I did not meet. Every bit of media I have heard. It is not my trauma that makes me who I am. The Brave One, the entire premise of the film, which I linked above for my example, is that the woman is just her trauma.

This is a perception that removes the humanity from She Who Fights Back. You are no longer human but you are Rape. You are not actually a Woman, therefore it’s okay once more for you to be violent. There must be something wrong with you if you are a woman who fights back, this is the pervasive message I have been living with. There have been years I nearly killed myself over the simple fact that I did not fight back. I could not live with the idea that I did not, even as a small child, try to get away.

I remember when I first began to wonder why I didn’t fight back, it was after I was told by a therapist I would be lying if I claimed I had. I sat there quietly for the rest of our session, I was in a mental hospital at the time. The first time. I watched her face and I wondered if she had ever been hurt too, and if she had fought back. She had long plastic nails that she was tapping on her clipboard. I felt like she was angry at me, and my more experienced interpretation of her expression still reads anger. She went from someone I could talk with to a cold wall of rage when I asked about trying to get away or maybe hitting him back. This was just a few months after and I still had pain in my shoulders that radiated from the underside of the joint, and my hands were still swollen. In fact my hands have never fully recovered from the kick of the gun and my shoulder dislocations started then. We had fired guns before as a family, that wasn’t my first time but I never liked it because of the pain and the loudness.

Even as I am writing this I am playing in my mind the moment I picked up the gun. There was no hesitation. Something again that movies show. Women always hesitate with weapons. Men sometimes do, but they have the option of not. I pointed it at him. I remember his face. His eyes betrayed his shock, surprise, and then anger. I pulled the trigger. He didn’t get to mock me first, he didn’t get any lines out like the cliche, “You won’t do it.” He had lunged for me and I fired the gun until the bullets ran out. I have another new fragment but it is like a single frame of video. I see him in it with a police officer, but everything is hazy, I am just aware he is convincing them that nothing is wrong. This is new too, but I had never expected if the police came that they would rescue me. I learned that well before 1992. I just realized it couldn’t be 93, because my brother wasn’t born until AFTER this incident, I was off by a year.

So I have been fighting this for longer than I thought. I have found the most painful idea in my life was that I would just let him hurt me. This is of course not what happened, and no victim EVER lets their abuser hurt them. Even if you cannot or do not fight back, you did not give him permission. My personal battle was learning this. Fighting back is pivotal in my mind as something important. Even if you don’t win, you must try.

I know as an adult fighting back entails more than shooting or stabbing someone. It can be the moment you open the door and smell someone’s pumpkin pie and think “I am free”. Even if that is not true that little moment can give you a hint of the truth for years. The shifted association of foods during Thanksgiving from being all disgusting and triggering based on being raped, force-fed and torn apart with food as the supposed reason I deserved to be raped and beaten even pumpkin pie has confused me. Why was that pie safe? I still can’t eat my mother’s version of mashed potatoes. My father didn’t like green beans so those were safe until the allergies happened but the pie has been as much of a mystery to me as my wondering who I used to be.

I was not reborn in that moment after all, the idea was just a way of coping with the blatant lies I was told about who I was allowed to be. It is amazing to me how many people, in the name of supposed survival, reject the idea that women can be strong at all ages. This has effected my writing, my game play and what I could do. This is not trivial in any way shape or form. The core of who I was did not break, and that is important. My spirit never broke, and who I am is essentially the same on the base level as who I was before. This means perhaps I did not really lose my innocence but instead it was hidden away, so I could survive.

I do not cry much but I am crying now. How can I not cry for I know there are other little girls, women, people in between the male and female who wonder if they fought back. Who are told every day that this is an impossibility. Children do not have the knowledge yet to think critically about if people are lying, this is a skill we learn as we grow. A facet of being nuerodiverse in this world, and everyone fits in there somewhere, is that people learn these skills at different rates. The ability to critically assess a situation or the media is something that must be taught or it must be learned. Not everyone is capable of this and children have to learn from somewhere.

I am left questioning the validity of mental health for women, children, and anyone with chronic pain or PTSD. How can so many therapists male and female believe that women just don’t think of fighting back? Making self defense a taboo or something that is only allowed after a violation is incredibly dangerous. This is a part of the forbidden dialogue of rape itself. We are warned to not talk about rape as survivors. Victims may be unable to do so and a part of this is, even at the age of eight it was hinted that I deserved to be raped. Was eight year old me just so sexy she deserved it? That’s what I have been told. I also came forward with in the statute of limitations and because my father raped me I was told that my case just wasn’t worth the District Attourney’s time. They beleived me. They just didn’t care because I was a little girl. I have never forgotten being told I am not enough of a person, that wasn’t the first time but that was the moment I lost faith in the world itself and knew I stand alone.

Except I do not stand alone. Of all the lies that came out of this worst trauma it was the lie that I was somehow the worst female in the world, worst at femininity, worst at self defense, worst at being loved and that I was alone and no one else would know what it was to want to die, to suffer, or to fear. I was defective. I do not want to kill myself today, and this is the first thanksgiving in a very long time.

I am afraid for the children of this world. The messages that are being taught, the things that even adult women fetishize such as Twilight with its codependant pedophilic necrophiliac abusive manipulative beastiality domestic violence women stay in the kitchen marry for sex and all the other crap that Twilight is REALLY about underneath the sparkling vampires… these messages are the normal for our children not the exception.

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1 Comment

  1. i’m glad you shot him and i’m glad you’re still around and not wanting to die.

    not sure if you can watch the movie “the girl with the dragon tattoo” but i would be interested in your analysis of the revenge/defense (sometimes it’s both) scenes since it has a lot to do with your experience. most people commenting on that movie, myself included, probably haven’t got the background experience to comment properly.


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