A Year After Survival (Trigger Warning)

It was a year ago that I was sitting in that place, full of filth and disease. It was a year ago that Anthrax threatened my flesh and my mind was as damaged. It has been a year since in desperation I misdialed the number that lead me to finding my current apartment where I met my case manager who shares my name, where I escaped not just the first but the second bad carer, and where I began to heal. It has been a year.

It has been a year of utter devastation in some other ways. It has been a year of great loss. Death has haunted me my entire life from being forced to help my father kill on to the loss of every pet Grandma ever took in to shelter for us or my mother helped rehome, the death of my best friend, the death of Nymph, and the deaths that I felt uncomfortable mentioning. That would be the deaths of allies in advocacy, some of my heroes, but death has been here. In some moments I feel death is mocking me for living by taking everything that is important to me. I think that’s grief. I know it isn’t the actual facts as death is merely a part of life but my feelings do make it ache.

It has been a year of distance. I have started to step away from people that would perpetuate the year of Torture, people that do not understand this is not normal or healthy. Or family that does not respect that I damned well have a right to live in peace without being treated like a monstrosity for not doing things their way.

It has been a year of tears. I have cried more in the last year than I have in most of my life, yet this is a wonderful thing. Though it means I am wounded and grieving, when have I not been? I cannot remember any moments without pain until the last few years of my life and this year has held a majority of good.

It has been a year where I have admitted I am in love with someone. I have been for a very long time, albiet against my will. I love myself. I love Sprite. I love Rose. Still. Death doesn’t cancel out love. I adored and loved my little Nymph friend. I love M my friend. I love. I love. I love.

It has been a year of hope. I started to dream again, not the literal way but the hopes and dreams of a life beyond struggling to make ends meet, a life beyond this desolate place where I have never been able to leave. I hate New Mexico, and I always have. it has been a year of great achievements. Partly because I am still here and kicking.

My 26th Birthday is approaching and I am going to have people over to celebrate. I feel strong enough. I feel safe enough. I still want to flee this place. Yes it has been a very hard year. What year isn’t going to be hard? I have a laundry list of illnesses and disabilities, I have a mind that just won’t shut up, and I honestly cannot imagine life without a challenge. I truly think it would be boring.

This year I have learned some things about myself…

1. I have a very interesting life. More so than many people have. My life could be a great work of fiction, it would make a great movie series because each year holds enough action to make Harry Potter wish he had my level of danger, daring, and doing. I would still not wish this life on anyone but I also wouldn’t change it. My life has never been boring. I cannot say I haven’t been bored, but it’s been a very long time and that’s why I stopped enjoying school that first year.

2. Love. I has it. (Imagine a lolcat saying that if you would please.) I have always been capable of great love, like all my emotions when I love someone animal or human it is with all of me. There is only a set of extremes inside of me, so my love is extreme and comes with a side package of loyalty and trust. You can of course get rid of parts of this but I will always love you once I did before. I love my father. The evil bastard. I am still glad he is dead. I love my mother. The pathetic damsel in self imposed constant distress. I am still not going to invite her in, as that’s the rule with vampires of all varities. I don’t love my grandmother. I never have. She has always been a caricature of torment to me, even when torment was normal and acceptable in my world of Hitler fanatic parents and abuse. She’s always been worse than my father. I will sadly always love my exhusband. The thing is, I will love who he appeared t be not who he is. I will love the love of my life who knows who they are. There are no caveats there. I will love them and there is nothing anyone can do to stop that, even myself. I did try… I will love Sprite forever. I find the idea that she is my furry wife or soulmate, the wife thing starting as a joke about the supposed women’s duties which she does. She feeds me, clothes me, holds me and satisfies most of my needs but not the carnal ones is accurate. I glanced at her just now sitting in my new wingback chair and she looks so sad right now, and we both are because… I will always love Nymph. Even though she is gone and even though I had to let her die, I will always love her. I will probably always love the next companion Sprite gets. That happens sometime this month.

Yes, a year of love. I will always love myself. I didn’t used to. Even through the years of survival and struggle, even being “better” than the text books tell you someone with my level of PTSD, disabling, even with Autism, even with taught body hatred (fat, not blond, not able enough, just not good enough for anyone (Thanks Mom!)). Yes, Even then I never quite got the hang of looking at myself and seeing a person of value. I came close, a few years ago I started to get there most days. For the majority of this year I have loved myself. When puking from pain and or illness? Check. When unable to shower for two weeks because it hurt too much so I ended up wanting to claw my skin off to make myself clean? Check, that’s why I didn’t let myself lose my flesh to my fingers. Even when I felt it was my fault irrationally and that somehow I deserved being penned in a room and starved and raped? Yep. I still felt beautiful and at peace. That one really threw me for a loop. I haven’t felt that the abuse is my fault for most of the time since this started. The nifty side effect is, I don’t see ugly people anymore. The majority of people outside my door or online or people who aren’t movie stars are all stunning to me. Movie stars hate themselves usually, they abuse themselves and that does uglify them to me. Self hate isn’t pretty.

I love.

This has been a year of food. On my birthday I am going to make (with my carer) a food I haven’t let myself have for three years. The last time I ate it was when my ex was a fiancee. Penne Rosa. This decadent dish is my favorite. It pwns lasagne. I didn’t even notice I had deprived myself of it. I did so out of anger with myself, so I must forgive and eat the deliciousness. It’s expensive to make and very rich food. It’s something I learned about when I was a chef. Yet despite depriving myself of Penne Rosa without acknowledging it subconsciously I have eaten very well this year. This last year has the advent of Meat Cake into my life, the flavor is very rich, it’s not salty but it isn’t plain. It’s meat cakey. It is the most delicious savory food I have had in a while. I consider pasta’s sweet. I have reclaimed the Quesadilla. Despite living on them for a year, two months ago I found they no longer make me want to puke. So snake food is a go. I have had the advent of the Dilly Bar into my life. Butterscotch or cherry please? Some of the changes are based on the local area discovering Gluten Free, so I now can have bread or pizza at my whim (and ten dollars total ingredient cost, not twenty for cardboard). I also started only eating food that tastes good. THis happened in January.

This has been a year of the evolution of appearance. I stopped hiding under horrible black hair. Black hair is great on other people, and I can pull of the sickly goth look with it but despite being Goth, looking like I am dying isn’t something that feels right. I like being on fire, not literally since we’ve been there before, but with my red hair, my fierceness showing in my eyes and rich red lipstick. I figured out that anything I wear is goth. I am a goth. I am wearing it. Still not a fan of blue though. My war against only wearing black was lost. I feel comfortable there, I feel sexy. I still do wear other colors, mostly reds and greens. Still. Despite trying to listen to what other people said my fashion identity won out. Some of the evolution is the loss of ballgown length skirts. Wheelchairs don’t like them. They like to eat them. So I must streamline my tastes. Alas. Alack. It’s a bit fun actually. I also started wearing black eyeshadow more often. I am still waiting on that corset, it apparently was lost in the mail and the company I am working with is not getting repeat business. That’s been going on for over a year now. When I get it, I still want to take those sexy photos. Unshaven lets are sexy.

This has been a year of creative goals. I haven’t been alive enough in recent years to write music, act, create, share. In the last year I have written several audio dramas, some are still in need of work. One is being produced and I have a voice acting role in it. I’ll share when that comes out and it will be free. I am composing a soundtrack for something that should air on most radio stations nationally, potentially internationally. I am writing a book on PTSD. I have had requests for a book on Autism, as I explain both in a way the Nuerotypicals understand, without them thinking (at least supposedly and this is my goal) that everyone with this label is the same. I am writing period. I am considering writing three books at once but for that my head may explode.

This has been a year of discovery. I am discovering it’s okay to not like TV. Sure, I had roommates with TV addictions and that contributed, but TV doesn’t work well with the way my brain works and that’s JUST FINE. I don’t have to be a big TV watcher. I also no longer want to write for TV, because TV and I just aren’t a match. Frankly, that’s a stress relief to admit. There is a reason that after becoming a TV/Movie critic I broke down for a while and had to quit. TV is TORTURE. I get physical pain, and I can’t see for crap so why bother? Audio dramas are more suited to me though some still fall prey to those isms that annoy me, anger me or otherwise fill me with epic disappointment… more often I find that the writers are more independent in their creation, and therefore they get a more “open” piece. The editing work I have faced with mine has been mostly grammatical errors. If there is something that I am told to change because being a wheelchair user who can kick isn’t real, I also learned I can say “I am a wheelchair user and I can kick like a donkey. I just fall over afterwards” and explain the whys, the editor accepts this and lets me know. It’s an open dialogue. Much better than the editors I had when I wrote as a kid. Then again I am an adult now, so there is a lot more respect for me instead of incredulity at my age etc etc etc.

I discovered a wheelchair that fits your needs means if you can walk a bit, you do. I am more physically active with my wheelchair than I was without it. It’s exhilarating. I am also mentally freed of unnecessary pain. I am not sure unnecessary is the right word, perhaps it is treatable pain that isn’t treated? That felt too long and needed qualifications. I have discovered that living alone is best, so even though I am in love and would marry said loved one if it was merely a matter of mind and heart that marraige won’t work unless we get a house with two kitchens and two bedrooms (well… three, Sprite needs one too). I have discovered that people get my jokes, even the bad ones. If I list all my discoveries my word count will be in the millions.

I have discovered that I like my dreams being nightmares for others. Today I dreamed I lived in a sitcom world, in fact I moved in with the family from “Family Matters” though some of them were from “The Fresh Prince of Belaire”… it was great but I was scared. I was scared that they would figure out I wasn’t belonging. I was scared that being not a TV type would get me ousted. I am not sure why my mind selected those shows, perhaps because Will Smith was a childhood crush? Perhaps because Urkle’s awkwardness made it safer? I was still scared and in my dream even wondered if my consideration of what a nightmare is, is different than others. A nightmare means you are terrified. I am not afraid of hoardes of demons but I am afraid of Uncle Phil telling me I am just not good enough. Also stairs but then, I can’t get up them.

I have discovered I dislike most comedy films, as their humor relies on othering people and as an outsider it hurts instead of humors. This of course is well known to many. I have discovered Twilight worries me for the safety of Stephanie Meyer. I suspect she is in an abusive relationship or will be, as her inner soul shows a romanticism of very dangerous things. I have discovered that when Sprite is sad she cries loudly, and I cannot. I don’t “boo hoo”. Just as when I fight physically I am quiet. It’s not ninja as some have accused me of but it is the knowledge that being loud means you get hurt more. I am trying to cry with sound now.

I have discovered that mathmatically based on the sale ads my friends in California have sent me food may be cheaper there than here. Also, the foods I can eat are more plentiful. I secretly dream of fresh strawberries that won’t rot before the week is out. I have also discovered that housing is so expensive there it is beyond my ability to actually comprehend it. There is a literal disconnect in my mind.

In this last year, I have embraced my dreams. I have begun to not fight them, but to let them flow. I learned at a young age to control my dreams, and I wish I had not despite it being fascinating to be aware I am dreaming. I wish I had known I sleep better if I let myself dream about stabbing someone to death. The person is always evil, and I am always saving the defenseless. It is not murder but romanticised heroism. It still scares me, and I wonder what others dream about that they feel is wrong. I have had more sex dreams too. I no longer interrupt those but ride the passions out to see where they go. Usually? Orgasms. It has been a year of sleep. I still face insomnia but I am less tired, less angry, less cranky, and more able to face the world when I sleep and dream.

It has been a year of thought. I have not stopped thinking in my dreams or awakeness for over a year. I can usually sleep through it but as I wrote about before, sometimes it is so bad I can’t sleep. I have always been this way but I no longer tell myself it means I am crazy. Well, I am but I think it’s a good thing. Non crazy people tend to be very dangerous and terrifying.

It has been a year…

So what will this next year hold for me? Will I die before my next birthday (27)? Every year a doctor tells me I will… so far they’ve been very wrong. Will I go a whole year without someone trying to hurt me? I really hope so. Will I write seventeen novels and leave poverty behind and build a castle outside of LA with two kitchens and a cat kitchen? Probably not. The novels? Okay maybe one or two… The Castle? Give me a few years.

Will I start my band? Yes! We’re up to two other musicians now, which is real progress. Will I make my CD? Yes! Will I keep blogging? Yes! Will I get another cat and love it even though I really don’t want to and didn’t even want to get Ny because I was afraid she would die and am doubly afraid now for Sprite and future cat? Yep. Will the cat die? Probably not. Will I ever have that damned yard sale I have been trying to have for a year? Nope!

Will I survive another year? Yes. In fact, I believe in this next year I will thrive. I know for a fact I will begin making jewelry again. I already have. It’s super slow based on my limits but I will make it. I am learning to make chainmaille, and I will have a chainmaille shirt (not made by me, I want it before I am 70), I will go out after dark sometime too. I will have sex. I will buy a glass dildo. Possibly to use during sex but I may be selfish and not share that toy. I will keep going on and on.

I admit sometimes I wonder if I will even know when I am dead because I haven’t stopped. I am a clockwork humanoid in some ways, ticking on and on. Yet the rest of me is in fragments of my imagination. Sometimes I am a barbarian warrior woman, somewhere between Red Sonja and Xena. Sometimes I am just a princess, with the means to protect the people who don’t have enough and cannot fend for themselves. Sometimes I am a demonic seductress. Sometimes, I am a butterfly. Sometimes I am just myself and I am somewhere else.

When I seek out peace, I find it in my mind again. It has been a recent return to that quiet garden in my mind. Now there are new roses growing and new butterfly bushes too. It is still quiet there, this is the only place a lack of music is not a worry mentally. I have missed my secret garden, and I find though I did not tend it, I never really have. It has always tended me. It is here that my glass hearts grow and often break. It is here that my mind is a mix of vines and flowers, towering trees and hollow logs with new lychen and moss growing over them. It is here that the outside world and inside meet. This is my subconscious and it is where I often look at myself, and I wonder. This is a place where Sprite cannot follow. This is a place where I once mistook Heaven. This is a place I have not had for more than a year, and perhaps it was a memory from never.

In the last year I have unrepressed a hoarde of memories. Perhaps they are the demons I slay each night? I am aware of multiple murders by my father, both very similar. I am aware. I have acted. It is a pain, but this is the necessary pain. If I leave these memories buried they will poison me. The little girl that screamed so long is not screaming anymore. She still cries but she is now sheltered in that garden and at times she laughs and plays with the other people there. All of them are me. The orphan girl. The innocent one. I never really knew her before. I know talking of my past identities this way is also what caused people to try and force me to think I had fractured my mind and was dealing with multiple personalities. I finally understand that doctor’s diagnosis. Even my mother knew it was wrong and argued with her, which speaks volumes. Yet, I am aware that each trauma that locked a part of me away killed the previous identity.

In this last year I have been reborn. You have witnessed this birth through my writings and I am aware now that if any flower represents me it is the lotus with it’s many layers and blossoms. I am on a journey through each of the lotus layers of my life. My sensei told me that once and he said that he could not explain it to me but i would understand it one day, perhaps when I was very old but he hoped that I would do so before I was “ancient as the stones”. Remembering him, I remember why I am who I am. He did not act alone in the previous years to shape me but he set this foundation of fine stone. Without him, there would be no Kateryna Fury. There would be no person here. There would be no memories left. I would be dust and ashes long forgotten or remembered only with my mother’s hatred. There would be tear stains and bloodstains at most, no one would notice I was gone.

a hispanic woman stands naked in a black brace a severing wound goes down her throat and torso revealing an ionic column that is fractured in multiple=

It has been a year of Survival. Yes, I survived. Yes I fought harder and harder than I thought possible. I did not fight alone for the first time in my life. I did not starve. I did not hate myself. For the first time that I can remember I do not feel like Frida Kahlo’s broken column. My pillar is whole. It has been rebuilt, not replaced and not forgotten. It still has cracks, yet it is stronger than it has ever been before. I may live alone, but I am not alone.

I also know this is visible to others, though I didn’t think on it or expect that this would be so. I look alive. I no longer am carrying the burdens of forgotten crimes or crimes that i didn’t need to carry. That alone has set me free. Though I am sad at this moment, I am not shattered. My heart is reborn. I am the Lotus. I am the Warrior. I am the Writer. The pen is not mightier than my sword, but it is as double edged and I carry both.

Mental Gluttony and a Year Like No Other. (Trigger Warning)

Today I expected to not function. I couldn’t sleep last night until so late that the sun had started to rise, but this is very normal for me. I woke up a bit early and I felt… refreshed. I knew I would still have to nap a bit extra today so I dealt with things. My caregiver called in sick, and I am telling myself she’s just hung over because I worry about people. The agency failed to send a replacement which means my home is filthy. Normally this level of mess makes me feel a panicking sensation in my gut, because I know it will never end. I know I cannot fix it. I am going to die with half eaten pizza and cat toys all around and no one will love me. I am wo- and that’s where things are different this time. I am not a worthless being that is going to die, but I am me.

Maybe it was my discovery and consumption of Claymore alternated with Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. Maybe it was the fact that for the first time in my life I let myself do something that I know is only wasteful, no ifs ands or buts about that, and I have no regrets and found the waste is far less than I anticipated. Maybe it is because I spent time to prepare mentally for today and focused on reminding myself that this is MY indepedance day. However many years ago I was eight, I said No for the first time. I stood between a little boy and a person that is also the monster in all of my dreams.

I was willing to die so that someone else could live, I was so terrified, and today, I am alive and I feel peace. I am crying as I write this but I think these tears are tears of happiness. I do not remember most of the previous years experiences with today or yesterday (The Fourth of July). I just have a mush of gray fog and all of the pain of my childhood on all these days. There is even a bodily symbol that was unexpected, as my mental chains are broken.

Even though I can remember the pain, I remembered something that bothers me more than pain. A moment of true love from my mother. A moment where my father in his rage that his possessions were injured let his true face show to the entire church, street, and a moment where I was aware for a split second that someone outside my family knew he was not right.

The boy was older than me, he was as old as I would be when I said no. I think he may have been seven instead of eight. I know now from the adult perspective, something else that PTSD often prevents me from using, that he was jealous of my ability to spell. He was jealous that I had both my mother and father in my life, because all children should percieve all parents as good. His father I think had died, but it may have been a divorce. I just know he was “a big fat meany head” as the echoes of my childhood state. I feel myself forgiving him as I write this. He was my best friend’s older brother, our brothers had the same name too.

I had never seen a sparkler before, I think I was four, and I saw the other children writing their names by flicking them in the air, or bad words. I wrote out my then full and legal name and then my firework died out. I dropped it because the sudden change startled me. He told me if I picked up the end that was glowing red I could relight the other end. I believed him because at this point I had yet to concieve of a lie. In my mind a lie was just reality changing it’s mind, because of course everything still feels sentient to me. I think this is the effect of Autism, I treasure everyone and everything because they are all alive to me. So I picked up the hot end and my pointer finger and thumb burned.

I remember trying to hold it and trying to not scream. I remember the look on this boy’s face when he saw I hadn’t dropped it. I don’t know who screamed first. Probably me. My mother made me let it go. My fingers released but my skin was gone, my hand hurt. I remember thinking, “Why does something else hurt? Only daddy makes things feel like this.” I felt like my world had cracked apart and I screamed.

The boy screamed, and he ran for help. He didn’t run away. He went and got every adult and told the truth immediately. I remember wondering why he didn’t lie. I didn’t understand lying until that moment, because he was in serious trouble. I thought he was going to die. It was that same feeling that surged up in me when my father attacked my step brother those years later. His face held that same wrath. There was that same crispness in the air.

I tried to lie and say I was okay, because I didn’t want the bully hurt. I remember a moment of silence from everyone before he put the mask back on, but the mask had cracked. With in the next year everything would change. He was going to go to a mental hospital, he was going to be divorcing my mother, and I would be set on my path towards saying No.

I have taken for granted that this No came with in a few short months after he raped me on Thanksgiving. I have taken for granted that he had torn my soul out or at least tried, and that I had yet to find myself. It was a moment that I cannot regret. I never have regretted saying no but I have been unable to escape, until this year, reliving every moment of terror associated with fireworks, associated with my father, and the smell of hotdogs. I think they smell like burning hair, which brings up other threads.

I looked at my hands yesterday when the second big shake came. It was when I first woke up, there was one Friday and I called M thinking it was yesterday. Time was really weird then but I was pulled back. Once I was aware that the thunder and the fireworks sounds were real I was okay. I studied my hands, because my hands have always born the scars of my choices, the scars that bother me the most, and my hands have always felt the most pain through my childhood. It wasn’t until a handful of years ago when I broke my back that my back began to hurt so much that I needed to acknowledge it. However every day of my life my hands have felt like stiff claws and have hurt. I think physical abuse and forcing my body to work did them in. My hands are still working

My hands are capable. I saw this instead of the scars. In fact, the burn scar from that first moment with fireworks, which has lead me to fear them for a long time, a reasonable fear that I do not think should be changed as fireworks are explosives and therefore I really shouldn’t play with them. I could drop one in my lap or something, and have other burns. It isn’t paranoia, my hands aren’t good at holding things anymore. Yet the brown marks of skin burned so deeply that it took on color for somewhere around twenty four years? Those are gone.

I looked at my hands the same way last year. I look at my hands a lot when I am trying to find something to grab onto mentally to help me not get sucked up in a mental tornado. In November, that brown line was on each my finger and my thumb. It has faded away. I don’t know when, which is a good sign as my hands have changed a lot in recent months and if I didn’t notice this going away I am doing much better with my PTSD. The spot is now white. It’s not a bright white where others will notice it but it is there where I will.

The pain is also gone from the burn spots. I have always felt a pain since my hand was declared healed when using my finger tips. My thumb and forefinger are the most used fingers of each hand, it was unavoidable. The pain is gone. Maybe it is lost in the other pains of arthritis, damaged tissues and strain but I don’t think so. I think finally as my mind has healed my body was able to heal as well. I didn’t let go, I healed.

A year ago I was upset by noises for the entire week of the fourth. There was no time without someone shouting, explosions, or sirens. People were throwing fireworks at my apartment. I was also in mortal danger of my life. I remember most of it. I remember learning I could call the police for fireworks. I remember barely making it through but last year was an improvement. This year has gone so well that maybe next year I will socialize before the food is cooked.

I was invited to several BBQs this year. The people that I expect to stop inviting me to holiday events never do. My friends always show me they care. My neighbors too. I have a friend who lives here and she came specifically to make sure I at least had food. R was disappointed when I told her I couldn’t eat the food, but I did also tell her I was glad to see her. I like conversing with her and I find, in this place my fears are not so abnormal that even if I need to leave a gathering early it is okay.

I always want to move, I think no matter where I land that is the case. Perhaps it is my need to learn. I am wondering if I do move, will I be able to be satisfied? When I think of moving, I do not see myself planting roots. When I think ofthis home, I see that for the first time I have roots. I may loathe my state, but I don’t think I could leave it for many reasons, financial ones especially. Yet in this neighborhood I belong. I belong. No, I don’t just belong, I am wanted.

I also found a goal yesterday. I know I will not be able to do work in the traditional method. I know that I will also never be able to stop learning. I found myself wanting something. I always like poison jewelry. I dislike the name although I enjoy my mother’s reaction when I ooh and ahh over a poison ring or bracelet. There is something fascinating to me about the compartment. I actually have a poison ring, it is so heavy however that it damages me to wear it.

I decided to see how affordable a bracelet is. The answer is, nope. The ones that I would actually wear out of the tiny selection I found are all expensive. Actually, all of them are expensive. I began to wonder, could I make one? Could I find the pieces and do this myself? I have wanted to learn silverwork for a long time, and I decided to see if there was a class. There happens to be a class. There is also a secondary follow up class for the more advanced students.

My goal is to save up for the tuition next year. I am going to take these classes. Between here and there I have to confront my fear of solder. This means I must resume building things. I love to do so. I found myself starving for school yesterday. I know I will not take the normal classes of a college student, because those classes do not suit me. I will however take part in furthering myself through art classes. Perhaps I will also reach a point where I feel I can teach. I noticed that the classes I desire are taught by experts outside of the college standard.

What class would I teach? It would be about Gluten Free cooking. I would teach others how to modify their meals. I am not sure I could really do this, but it is a goal. At the worst I can write a book about gluten free cooking without everything being from scratch. I haven’t let myself want anything that was an obligation or an expectation for a long time. I slowly began to build towards this over the last year. I think my giving in and composing music helped. I feel ready. I also feel afraid.

In one year by living alone and not letting any of my needs fall through the cracks, by asking for help from others, by fighting for my medication, and most of all by living I have changed. I can turn and look in the past and the image I see is not one that mirrors my heart today. I can go outside. I can enjoy my food. I can enjoy. I am alive.

I let myself sleep today and the first thing I have done is write this post. Once the sunsets on July 5th I tend to be pretty darned good. Today, I did not have a flashback. I had the warning signs, I had the extra irritability, and I let myself. I thought it would mean giving up all these years, if I allowed myself to flow. Yet that is the very thing I do during a flash back. I try and move with it, staying with in a boat of thought. Once a flashback hits I float. I have found this works for many things and today I decided it would be okay.

I put Nymph in the bathroom, because sometimes I punch and kick during flashbacks and she was wanting attention. It wouldn’t take much for her to be hurt and I would regret that. So I tossed her toys in and closed the door after she pounced them. She didn’t notice she was trapped for at least five or ten minutes, and by then I had laid down in my bed, closed my eyes and gave myself permission to go.

Time went weird, but this time there was silence, darkness, I was just breathing in that place outside of time and space where I haunt myself. It lasted for a half an hour or so, my watch said about fourty five minutes had passed. I was exhausted so I went and prepared for a nap, I nabbed Nymph from the basket of underwear and socks which I have incase the need is worth the lack of skin, and she curled against me warm, soft, and purring.

I set her on the bed and she looked up at me, meowed softly and then curled up on Sprite. I folded myself back under the covers then, and closed my eyes. I did not sleep immediately, but instead was awake long enough to feel the cats together, tucking the blanket around me. Sprite hasn’t tucked all of me in for a long time. I think it was November the last time she did this. I am asleep before they finish. When I wake the sun is setting and I feel them, warm and soft. Nymph is closest to me, tucked into the corner my knee makes when I lay on my side. Sprite is against my thigh, he eyes open and staring into mine over the blanket. I can see her eyes even without my glasses, though I rarely see much else.

I know there is no victory when it comes to PTSD, it is something more potent. When trying for victory that implies that all you have to do is have one day like this where things aren’t as bad as they have been. That is not true. Intead, I would say that this last year has shown me it is more important to forgive myself. I am not angry with myself today. I am not angry with anyone. I have let myself cry. I have let myself be.

In fact, I think I should’ve been triggered by the Anime Claymore, which I watched in the last two days. The central characters are all lost little girls, wounded children turned warrior out of a need for defense, safety, and a need to fight back. Their foes are demons and to do so they become half demon themselves. They can be lost to this demonic self, forever losing their humanity. For a long time I thought I would be lost to the abuse, that I would have to become the abuser to survive.

That’s the thing… I have survived. I have thrived. I am not just alive but I am reaching for more. By letting myself be frivolous, I have let myself be. I own a watch for the first time in many years. My pocket watch is one that if it breaks I will not mind, as every watch I have ever owned has died with in twenty four hours of wear. The record was 72. The record is now four days and six hours. I think my magnetism issue is either solved, or the things I have done to preserve my phone work on watches too. My cellphone is a year old and is working. It looks as good as new. So maybe my watch will last. If not I may just have to get a bunch of others. I like pocket watches. I feel good with them. They don’t have to tug down on my arms, they can be tucked away or shown off.

My pocket watch is the latest release for the Full Metal Alchemist watches. It looks as good as it runs, and it works for costuming if I so desire. Maybe I can learn to make a pocket watch! I am going to feed my mind, it’s hungry for more knowledge and I know where to find some.

Rogue Agent (Trigger Warning)

RageOMatic asked me a question on my last post that I had not been able to answer. I was trying to find the answer, and for the last week or so had thought on this daily. Tonight the answer hit me.

First here is the comment that he left:

How do I step out of the cycle on this one, Kat? If I start crying for all the abuse in the world, I’ll never stop crying again. (Ultimately, I think I don’t cry for the same reason you don’t scream…no compelling reason to stop.) How am I supposed to feel? What should I do? How do you need me, an able bodied, white male, to respond to you?

I think the most profound thing you have said to me, so far, is “I am a rogue agent in the cycle of abuse”. Abuse reshapes your soul to either be sheep or wolf, the abused or the abusee. My grandparents, my parents, my older brothers and sisters, all got the same “training” I did to avoid being harmed by being the harmer, but I stepped out of the cycle.

When I read about the pain you are in, emotional and physical, the wolf wakes up. I want to find the abusers and abuse them. You are not my only friend who carries scars on her body and soul from abuse. I want to find people, and choke them. I want to see in their eyes the look they have so frequently caused in others: the moment when one realizes no fight, no strategy, no inner strength, no god, no anything, will save one…only the whim of the abuser.

I know that’s wrong…so I push those thoughts away. Now I have to fight the sheep. the first thing the sheep mindset says is what you describe is only horrible if its true. If you are lying to get attention, then you become someone lying to get attention. That’s disturbing of course, not nearly so disturbing as the truth of what happened to you. It’s so much easier to believe a woman was only abused enough to lie about the abuse, and not so abused as to be accurately describing its toll on her. Then, the second part of the sheep mindset…well even those parts that are true aren’t that bad…because abuse makes you stronger!

And with a snap, I’ve minimalized your pain, and said you are lucky to have it. All three ways, I’m agreeing with the abuser: (1.) Abuse is a good way to motivate people. (2.) It’s the victims moral flaw and not the abuser’s. (3.) It’s good for victim anyway.

First I want to respond to this comment because this comment is so multilayered. Then I will explain how I was given the answer by M, my dear dear friend who often lights the way on my path when I am confused.

First, Abuse does not make you a sheep or a wolf but instead a victim or a predator. Often both. The Sheep and Wolf metaphor is a part of the mind playing into the lies we are told and sometimes tell ourselves to cope with abuse. It’s okay to just be a person, even if it means you are a person that has been hurt.

Stepping out of the cycle of violence is the most dangerous act a victim can make, and frankly I don’t believe that a person who has taken on the role of abuser can stop, because then they are letting go of a mispercieved “power”. This is an opinion I hope is wrong but it is based on my experiences and some of the challenges I faced when I tried to be the abuser. I did make that choice and those memories and choices are the few things in this life I actually and actively regret.

I understand wanting revenge. In fact, I will be upfront with you on this, if I ever meet my exhusband again I will kill him. If my father rises from the dead as a Zombie I am sure as hell going to take him out. If my Grandmother ever speaks to me again she will meet the wall of silence that I have decided is all she deserves from me. For her that is a fate worse than death. Revenge can be a great motivator for changing patterns. It can be the carrot, if I am alive, living well, this torments them.

Revenge can be a reason to not die. It has it’s purpose but revenge cannot be the only reason you live or you start to poison yourself. Eventually you have to find something past it. In fact my statements above are less about revenge and more about protecting myself. I am not going to seek out my exhusband, because that would be self abuse. I will defend myself and if he dies in the process which I beleive would be a necessity, then I am in the right. My father as a zombie? Off with his head. He’d be eating brains, so since I have one, again self defense. With my grandmother, this choice is difficult because I am aware it causes her pain. I decided that minimizing my pain and regret factor is worth her suffering, because in reality nothing I can say or do will stop her fear of dying alone and the cycle of abuse that follows when she realizes that someone may just want something from her, her other fears feeding into her personal cycle.

Another element to wanting to seek and destroy the abusers is two fold. 1. Having been a victim, it protects you from being victimized by them. 2. An element of this is wanting to protect other people. Neither of these things is actually bad, but when you are raised in a world where self preservation is something “sinful” and you are taught to fear it, you will lie to yourself about the why. I still do and have to actively catch myself and correct the thoughts. Knowing someone is hurting at the hands of others hurts because of the human collective. This is why I cry when I hear about bombings, murders, and child abuse. It hurts me emotionally.

In fact I believe that the factors I listed above actually are the cause of this current war in Iraq. The emotions of the people in my country were played with so that abusers could go and hurt people in the name of protection. 9-11 was actually around the time of my self awakening, and I believe that the abuses and lies by the US government played a part in this, because they were the same sort of lies my father told us about other people (specifically people of color or other minority factors).

I don’t think you want to see their pain so much as you want to prevent it, but I may be wrong. However, that was my personal truth, and it may take some digging through the layers of feeling masks to find out what your personal truth is. When feelings are forbidden, it is natural and “healthy” to put a mask on. It’s a survival instinct. It stops being healthy when the situation goes away. Some people perpetuate the abuse because they don’t know how to function without it. Some tell themselves they like or deserve it and seek it out. Then another set of Victims and Abusers come into play.

This is part of stopping the internal cycle that is hard. No one can see your thoughts but you. I had to retrain my reactions to people. On top of this I had to learn to deal with PTSD, and I had to learn things that I know now are basics for small children. No hitting. No biting. Sharing. I still am fairly awful at sharing. I wasn’t just developmentally delayed or socially delayed but my parents emotionally stunted my growth without thought of what this would do for me socially. Social skills are something abusers take away and I am still mastering some of them. (The Autism plays a part in this, but not as much of a part as most people think.)

What you call the sheep mindset is a response to programming. I always called it trying to eject the tapes, because I noticed for me the voices in my head were of my abusers. The lies that I told myself were mine, belonged to my parents. As Victims we first learn to minimize our own pain, and the post you questioned me on was an excercise in not minimizing things. I still did to a level and may someday write part two of that post but I am not there yet. Instead of punishing yourself for “Agreeing with the abuser” try relabeling things. When you think a thought you know is toxic tell yourself to stop and state the truth.

This is a method I think I found in one of my mother’s many self help books. Most of them to me were worthless but I remembered either reading or hearing about this method and it seemed reasonable. I don’t know what I read but what I did was carry around a small notebook, a tiny pen, and I would make a page for every day, then I would make a line for each bad thought I had to correct. The first day I used four of those tiny notebooks at least. Every thought I had was really repetition and regurgitation of abuse. I had to give myself a goal to do this because it is hard. So I told myself that once I went a week without having to correct myself I would get a soda from the school vending machine. Admittedly I had to steal the money to do it so it wasn’t a perfect scheme but it was a goal.

I then had to make the goal realistic and aimed that I would only use one page in a month. It took years. I actually left the school I was in before then, was sent away to a mental hospital, kicked out of that mental hospital, sent to an exclusive school for broken children (my mother’s words), and was allowed to return home before I managed it. That means it took me over two years.

I didn’t realize until last year when I was writing one of the many unpublished things I putter on that I had really taught myself how to think. The cycle of abuse works because we become afraid of thought itself. Thought shows on your face, it brings up those feelings that make the pain come, and so you must only think safe things. Add in an omnipotent being that has hated you from the womb, something you and I share, and you have no reason to actually think or learn or do anything but what you are programmed to do. This is brainwashing. Admitting that makes me want to cry a little, because it’s something else that I know falls into that spot where I want to dismiss it.

Your statement of steps is active abuse, even if you don’t share it and don’t act on it. I will state you are the victim and abuser when this is all in your head, because it hurts you. If I am unaware that you had these thoughts and even with the awareness I am not actually harmed or the harm is much less than what you have as you have then entered your own self hate and punishment cycle, if I am guessing correctly. I still do at times. I am practicing not giving in there, and though I no longer carry around a notebook I still have to stop myself at times. If I am alone sometimes I will shout at myself in the mirror, arguing with those tapes. sometimes seeing that I am really a person and not a valueless fleshpile makes it easier to stop them.

I also want you to keep in mind that the tapes are a part of what makes PTSD work, and I don;’t know if they can ever go away. You may sheer the sheep but wool grows. This is a life long goal and fight.

Now the truths about the lies that you asked about

1. Abuse has never motivated anyone. If anything that omnipresent sense of dread that is in all my memories up until my adulthood and sometimes thereafter made me want to not move, not breathe and live. Abuse is the best demotivator.

2. Sometimes the victims have yet to speak, this would mean that everything is morally bankrupt, and with good people in the world such as you, even when you don’t believe it or M who keeps me from forgetting I am a person on my worst days this cannot be true. There would not be cats like Sprite, there would not be disability benefits, and there would not be medicine if everything was flawed and evil.

3. If it were good for the victim it wouldn’t break people and have people die. This does not mean those victims were weak but instead that they just broke.

Stepping out of the cycle here is possible. I think this is the hardest part of the cycle of abuse. I had to learn to love myself. I could think for myself once I knew I deserved to do so. Not just that I deserved my thoughts but that my thoughts are things of beauty even if there is a bit of tragedy with in many of the experiences I have had.

You are supposed to feel as you feel. Feelings simply are. Anger is not a bad emotion if you do not weaponize it. Anger simply is. My favorite emotion is Joy, and even as I am writing this I feel joy, because by asking these questions you are freeing yourself. You may have to do so again and again but you are trying, and trying is the only way of doing there is. I think the reason I cannot cry is why I don’t scream, but there is a reason to stop. I am just not sure I would know how to do so. The reason to stop is because of life.

And on the last question you ask, respond to me as a person above all. For that is simply who I am. That is who you are too, so remember that. People are fallible, and you will have days when you cannot stop making tick marks, days when you lie about it to yourself and make less than you should, and days when you run out of paper. Then there will be days when you don’t think the toxic thoughts about your worth, and when you can see other people around you through your own eyes.

M helped me find the answers because we were talking about a Patsy Cline Song, and Jonah Hex. Jonah Hex is like us. He is the product of severe abuse and cruelty. He is trying to make the world better in his own way but he is actively stuck in his personal cycle, and has no help getting out because of the judgement of others that take a scar on his face as a sign of his internal wickedness. A scar made by abuse.

When I read Hex I listen to Country Music. The Patsy Cline Song A Church A courtroom and then Goodbye is for me a reference now to my wifetime. My marraige was short, but before it became bitter it was sweet. I really did and DO love my exhusband. I love the parts of him that were good, the parts he chose to throw away.

He tried to devalue me and instead showed me a part of the abuse I was still in. In my life the only nice things I let myself have were investments in the future, so that I could save money in the long term. So my computers are always expensive but they last a long time. (Five years is a looong time in technology and I can jury rig things for a lot longer with this one if I just don’t save anything to my main HDD.) In fact, I so rarely bought anything new for myself and then it was an item of need.

My nice new clothes he took away? I needed them because I had nothing to wear LITERALLY. I am actually about to go buy pants because I need them and again have almost none at all. My shiny new Batgirl statue is a symbol of my being deserving of want. I deserve to want things. Instead of that being a dreadful affliction, a sin, or something bad… it’s okay. I may not buy everything in the world but as with food deprivation, depriving myself of the things I desire causes me to binge.

I can throw away the sales ads from the stores now. I no longer have to try and fit new trash in with old. I am still working on unhoarding my home but it is clean, the only things on the floor are furniture, wheels from my wheelchair, and cat toys. There is no filth, no piles that I have to climb over, and even better? I don’t hate myself for wanting and for the things I have.

Furthermore I also have something for you and everyone that reads this my dear Rageomatic. Love.

Love is a constant. It is not a weapon. It is not harmful. The idea that love can hurt you is silly. Not everything that has been called love is actually love. If something is called love and it hurts, it is something else. Pain is not beneficial but is a warning of something harmful. It is a sensory antibody. I love. I love everything and everyone. I admit even to loving those that hurt me. Love itself does not mean you have to open the door, open yourself to more pain, but instead the love of yourself is why you can step away from the cycle, and why you are not alone.

When you can love yourself and admit it to yourself, you can give yourself permission for joy. Joy doesn’t fade either but sometimes other feelings occur but that makes the return of joy all the greater.

This is my gift to you, and to myself. Thank you for asking your questions.

Freedom (Trigger Warning)

I have a lot of freedom, compared to many persons with Autism or mental health issues. I have a lot of freedom compared to many disabled persons. I had to fight for my freedoms but I am often left wondering, how much of this do I take for granted?

I eat when I want. In an institution this is not true. I do not take this for granted very often, but when I am ill I take this as a greater virtue. I always take my freedom to prepare my food in a safe environment as a blessing. I still have nightmares about being institutionalized and most center on the food or humiliating moments related to food that I experienced.

This is just an example of course. I have been looking into the way others with Autism who are adults live, partly because I am a late comer to the diagnosis. Most of what I am writing right now comes from inspiration that was caused by Kowalski. I consider Kowalski a friend despite the fact we have never met and likely will not meet in person, yet we have in depth discussions based on our mutual advocacy. I do not know if Kowalski identifies as an advocate yet her work has assisted me with my adaptation.

I know my talent for advocacy has given me a good deal of freedoms that people who literally cannot speak (and therefore often do not have a voice) do not have. I have my own home, I have my pets. I have the ability to choose who takes care of those pets when I cannot. My pets medical needs are met. I do not have to admit people to my home.

I have a very good caregiver, as I mentioned before, and that is another freedom. Every day that Jo comes over and I do not feel fear, or the fear I feel is not related to her presence and she is understanding that I cannot control these fears is a day that I am free. I had to self advocate when I was starved to the point that I could barely think, I couldn’t speak or bathe because my body was also over stimulated after fighting and clawing literally. I had to prove I needed to let go of what is considered more freeing, to hire and fire my own caregivers.

I was unaware of a freedom that could be in too much measure a trap. Letting someone else decide something. For the first time in my life someone else has a say without a court order. Having been institutionalized, in jail (assault charges, I was guilty and a minor), and imprisioned in my home by multiple abusers, I know the pleasures of freedom. I know how rare it is too. I was so terrified of letting an agency handle anything, that I trapped myself.

I feel safer with my caregiver because I can say No. I cannot say no if I am The Boss because then she could quit and I am left without a mediator to get through the weeks or even months until I hire someone. If there was any doubt of my need for caregiving, that was burned away by K and the neglect that I faced from myself after she was fired. The neglect was not conscious but was a result of having no agency and the lack of ability. I can want to do something all day but I cannot always perform.

The freedoms I miss due to disability are numerous. I miss being able to just get in a car and go somewhere. I miss going for walks. I miss working, because I miss to a degree human interaction. I do not miss the false facade I put on to survive in society but I do miss getting to study the behaviors of those around me so that i could try them on to see why and how things worked.

I miss the freedom to explore myself as well, as if you do not go out and do there is little that makes you grow. I am grateful for the internet as this adds opportunities to my personal growth but it is still a difficult path to walk on. All around me I see things that to me are obvious but others are blind to, and I miss watching someone find that oft missed moment.

I am grateful for my freedoms, but, I hunger for more. I secretly wish for the freedom of knowing about my disabilities before I was an adult. Most of them were diagnosed, just left untreated because I was not seen as a worthy candidate by my family. I understand, treating my disabilities is an expense. I just wish I had been worth one expense. Today i told Jo a bit about my childhood, it came up in the context of why I do not let my family visit very often. I left out the part that they rarely ask, because that is hurtful.

I did tell her about my sixteenth birthday, I told her things I rarely tell people but she needs to know. I was sent to several institutions growing up for just being different, and I know this saved me from being without a personal moral compass. I have borrowed moralities and tried them on to see what fits. This leads me to a strange belief system far from the beaten path but it is something I can use to guide me.

I remembered too, these institutions enforced medical care. I would be dead if my mother hadn’t decided I was just not happy enough. Yes, this lead to overdrugging me for most of my life. That lead to self harming behaviors such as not taking pain medications unless I am about to faint. I do take my pain medications regularly now but that is because I am always ready to faint. Still, a tumor in my intestine and gangrene, both caused by abuses at the hands of my parents and my significant medical disorders would have killed me. The institutions gave me the surgeries I needed to LIVE.

The last one, was in a ranch setting and was also one of the places I learned I wasn’t crazy. I have a rare talent with animals, and there I was given the respect of a crusty old cowboy, because I could tame a “wild and raging” animal. There I was also given a specific freedom that I will forever miss. My medical issues made me late for manditory horse care, and I was so afraid of the horses. They are big, I am small. We were not allowed to opt out of riding unless our feet were gangrenous and freshly operated on, and the infection had yet to come to light. I grabbed my saddle, the bridle, and the helmet and was told “Grab a horse and catch up.”

I missed the part of the class where we were told to leave the specific horse I chose alone. I remember his coat, a rich reddish brown color, his scars left black stripes. He was abused too. He had no eyes, which scared most of the others but I just felt sad because I could see the scars there too. Someone had torn out his eyes. This horse was dangerous, even the horse master, a man who had tamed many horses and specialized in rehabilitation of horses did not think he could be ridden.

I was often ignored because I didn’t cause much trouble around the horses. They scared me after all. So i walked over to him, this horse named Gator because “he is as mean as an alligator.” I talked to him while I was saddling him. I didn’t know what to say I just didn’t want to scare him, and so I introduced myself. “Hi Horse, my name is Kat. I don’t really want to ride you but I have to. I just want us to work together, because I think you want to get to run, and maybe it won’t be so bad if we get along.”

I had the horse saddled and was ready to mount up before the staff saw my horse. This was the first time anyone had touched Gator that he wasn’t kicking or biting at them. They had determined he was too dangerous to keep around the ranch but I could ride him. I refused to ride another horse, and because he was calm this was allowed. Gator was my horse. Out of all of the residents male and female, the staff, and the horse professionals that visited only I could ride him.

I was told I am a horse whisperer, but, I can do this with dogs, cats, and other animals. Not birds, because my fear of them is too great. I just tell them what I want them to do and we work together. That was the first time I did it, however. I remember how scared I was. Horses are tall. Obvious I know, but I am extremely afraid of heights. Gator didn’t move at all as I got on him, which confused everyone who knew the horse. He was a gentle ride and I had fun.

We went slow for most of the trail, the group let me set the pace which was probably the equivalent of a ten mile an hour car in a sixty mile per hour zone. We climbed a big hill, I mostly just clung to the horse and talked to him to distract myself. I swear, sometimes it seemed like he laughed at my jokes. No one complained about my babbling for once, no one seemed to care or notice. Then, we reached the top of the hill.

There was a field there, and there were these little yellow flowers in bloom. I let Gator run. The blind horse and the nearly blind girl who had no business on that horse. He was fast. It was magnificent. I let go of the fears, I let them melt away. We raced around the meadow, he trusted his hooves and I trusted him. It was a three hour ride. I didn’t feel the pains in my body until we made it back to the stables and I dismounted. After taking care of Gator and putting up the tack I was told he was mine as long as I stayed. He would have to find a new home when I left the facility but, until then I had my very own horse.

I took care of him every day for a year. I was being released from the program, I had learned how to blend in. I had learned how to heal the emotional wounds I had enough, I even made friends. People friends. I learned how to dress, how to walk, and how to talk like a Nuerotypical person. I faced disability for the first time, but missed diagnosis considerably. This was also the time when I had some malpractice issues with a dentist that made my mouth always ache. Yet it never mattered when I was with my horse. I think I was more his person.

Gator killed someone, my last week there. A staff member. He injured six others. You see, this woman saw me ride the horse and said out loud (obviously this is paraphrased because this is nearly ten years ago. I now feel way old) “If that girl can ride him, I can.” He threw her off because she kicked him. I never once kicked Gator, or did anything in anger near him. Everyone agreed she was too rough with him, and she had waited until she was the only adult around. He dragged her for a bit and trampled people, because they tried to catch him. Gator never found a home, and I never got to say good bye. I think the administrators feared I would relapse back to the dangerous behaviors of bludgeoning people over food.

I admit I do not mourn the human that caused his death. She was warned repeatedly that he was dangerous and chose to believe she was better than a child, and then she was violent with him. This does not mean I believe she deserved death but she did not behave in a safe manner. Horses are dangerous. All horses are. The children and adults that were harmed trying to save her? Those people I mourn. Pain and fear were introduced to both them and my Gator.

I try to avoid remembering that part of my time with Gator however. I will never ride a horse again. Before I broke my back I was saving for a week at a retreat with horses, because I missed the feeling of moving with an animal. I never felt the saddle, I never felt the ground. Gator and I flew. Of all the places we rode together, that meadow was the most wonderful place. My favorite memory of freedom is that meadow riding full tilt with my horse, at sunset. It was a cloudless day, the light was perfect, and I had only one thought. Faster.

I know a lot of rational people refuse to have dieties or an afterlife. I am not completely rational. My IQ implies I should be but my personal experiences prevent that. I talk to animals, they reply in their own ways and I understand. Gator trusted me because I promised him I would never hurt him if he never hurt me. We made a pact through a universal language.

My truest freedom is something I would not have without that horse. Trust. The horse master? I trusted him AFTER I met the horse. I had no one else to trust before then. My trust is more rare than a diamond. It comes on a spectrum as does all life. Sanity, thought, gender, sexual preferences, humanity? We are on a rainbow spectrum. My best friend M, who is the only man I trust implicity and is the only person I have ever loved unconditionally? I would never have been able to trust him without Gator.

I owe that horse so much. I cry when I think of that betrayal. I can still feel the coffee cup in my hands, I was eating when we found out. I had just gotten back from the doctor and was given my diagnosis of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian disease, disproving cancer. It was good news and I was reading up on both disorders. I remember the entire room pausing, everyone in the dorm that I stayed in coming in. They already knew. That same weight I felt before when I lost something came, because their faces told me.

I don’t remember those words, I just remember feeling the dark feelings that I always was told were bad, and knowing my mother was wrong. I wanted to die for a few moments, because if i was dead I could be with my horse. I remember something else however, as spectacular as that meadow. The girls, the new girl replacing me on the bed count even, they all gathered around me. No one touched me because I hate touch, and they knew that. Each one just waited for me to respond. I said something but it was lost to me. They said things. We talked. For the first time during an emotional crisis I had someone there.

A lot of someones. I didn’t have to deal with it alone. I have had to deal with most everything alone in life. From leaving that facility on through meeting M, I was very alone. Without Gator I would never have known I didn’t have to be. That was the final lesson of many he taught me. Gator did not accept just anyone, he was sent to the facility for care but was never supposed to meet with any people. They were assessing him to see if he merited saving. I gave him another year of life.

His life was brutal. He was six years old when they put him down. A part of me always felt he needed a trial, after all it was self defense. Still, as an adult I understand that he hurt a lot of people, and the only reason he lived was dumb luck. If I had been five minutes earlier? He would never have met me. I wish I could have seen his eyes, I wish he could have seen mine. I dislike eye contact, it makes me want to vomit on my good days but you learn a lot from eyes.

I wonder if he ever meant to hurt anyone. I wonder if he knew he hurt the man who hurt him. See, Gator was considered dangerous because he stomped his abuser half to death. I found that out after I was already on his back for the first time, and I remember thinking, “I wish you could do that to my dad horsie.” Sometimes, in my dreams I ride off on Gator to escape the villains. Every dream has villains again. I only had a few months where there was time for tea with Batman. I don’t have a batmobile, I don’t have a jet plane. I have a horse.

This is what I think of when I think of lost freedom. It isn’t needing a caregiver, it isn’t the use of my legs or being able to walk to the toilet without pain and concentration. It isn’t being hungry. Those are all things that have always been there. The lost freedoms were his not mine. Gator gave me his freedom.

I am sure it could be a story in a movie somewhere, a little girl and her horse. Gator was the first time I felt grown up. I was trusted with his life, and he trusted me before the humans. He wasn’t the only horse I rode there, I was attatched to another who also died in my time there, but Gator is the one that taught me how to run.

Freedom isn’t running away from the things that hurt you. Freedom isn’t being able to do whatever you want. Freedom is having a moment to be truly alive. You do not have to be with people, you do not have to be alone. You just have to be. Every day that I am alive and I am not in an abusive situation, I am free.

The V Word

The V word is Victim. I wasn’t really expecting to write about Survivors and Victims but a post was put up over at Feministing and it made me think. I often use them a bit interchangeably for myself, but I shy away from the word Victim. I was always told to be a victim let the attacker, abuser, or generally bad person win. You have to survive. You have to be more than they tore you down as. You must be better.

Victim, it is a nasty word, but only because we are told that. I have, in some of my writings the term Victim/Survivor. I tried once creating a new word but none stuck. Victim. When I wear that name tag my heart is open, bleeding with agony. I feel my tears pouring over my flesh, I feel the pain of the beatings freshly, I feel the open wounds in my body, and I feel the grinding finality of impending death that never quite comes. That is why I cannot be a victim. If I am just a victim, I cannot stop suffocating.

When I wear the name survivor I sit up straighter, my eyes dry out and grow cold. I am a hawk, I am a warrior. I am armed to the teeth and have armor with few chinks. I am the great defender of Victims everywhere. I wear Survivor when I advocate. Survivor is strong. It is not a false strength. It is the tempering that comes from fire. I am not steel, I am a +10 Anti Bad guy Blade of Honor. I am the magical weapon that can win the battle. I am everything I need.

So what comes then from the dual title? I think that is when I am merely myself. I am not having to fight so hard that I cannot acknowledge that pulsating vulnerability, but I am not so bleeding out emotionally. My emotions are not overriding logic. I am just me. Survivor/Victim. Victim/Survivor. It is the best title, for it is the title I wear when balanced.

At times I question my right to either title. What right do I have to be a victim when someone else is hurting worse? When someone else has had more pain? That is when I remind myself that my pain is valid. I have been through enough that I shouldn’t have to ask myself that yet, I think every Victim/Survivor does. It is a part of the human mind set, or it is something we are taught that we must never be either. Survivor is better, it is the socially acceptable title but it is the hardest one to live with. Being a survivor often means rejecting your history. That is not my term for it, but that is the terms of the agreement that society has shown me. I never signed that contract. I did not enlist to be abused. I didn’t say, “Hey why don’tcha rape me today?” I didn’t ask for it.

Survivor is often a term used to excuse the victim blaming in the media. It is a term lobbed at people who aren’t finished surviving. Did you know I survived my disability? I am not a victim of my disability but I am not done with it yet. I will never survive my disabilities. They will be with me until I die. Neither title fits then. Both are misused. With the Rhianna/Chris Brown thing I have heard and read that she is a survivor. Why are we labeling her a label that she has to give herself?

I really doubt this woman is ready to be a survivor. She is still fighting, she is still being a victim. Being a victim doesn’t end the moment the abuse/rape/tragedy does. It ends only when you begin to heal and only if you choose to stop wearing the label. It only ends when you are ready. No one can tell you to stop being a victim and start being a survivor. No one can tell you that one word is worth more than the other. No one can tell you what you believe about them. You are the only one who can choose. That is why I will always be a victim. That is why I will always be a survivor.

My mother used to warn her daughters about playing the victim. If we complained too much about my older brother hitting us or pinching and poking, we were playing the Victim. The word became forbidden. She didn’t mean to wound us. She did however leave a wound. It became something that was wrong, it was wrong to acknowledge abuse. That was the last thing she intended yet, that was what my brain did with it. It wasn’t okay to say no to a man with whatever he wanted. I had to just take the abuse. I had to say I was a survivor but I wasn’t.

It also destroyed the potential relationship I wanted with my brother. I wanted to be like the kids on TV, the Brady Bunch kids or the Full House girls. I wanted to fight but always get along while fighting. We don’t get along. We can’t be in the same room with one another. Something happens when we do, and it isn’t pleasant. He sees me and doesn’t understand that I really do hurt. It isn’t something he understands. I have always ‘played the victim’ in his mind therefore it validated his behavior. It validated his right, in his mind, to poke me in my spinal injury. It validated his poor jokes. It validated his right to bash me for gaining weight.

Rights he doesn’t really have. The Victim Word is often used as a validation for why the abuse happened. Victims just as for it right? Being a victim is hard. It is harder than being a survivor in the reality that the pain is active in those moments. Neither title should be wanted. I do not think any person wants to be a victim. I cannot heal with my brother until he is ready to see beyond what we were taught about victims. I cannot heal with him until I am ready to risk him being unable to do so. I am still a little girl in parts of my head and heart. I am still hearing my mother snarl, “Stop playing the victim.”

I pick up my sword then, don my armor and try to not cry. I cannot cry most of the time either as victim or survivor. I only cry when I can wear them both. I only cry when I can wear the title of One who Lives. It is longer, it is also the simple act of living and existing that gives it to me. If you are either a Victim or a Survivor this article isn’t meant to bash you, it isn’t meant to bash anyone at all. It is my answer to Victim or Survivor.

I am both.

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