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.

I am not Broken (Trigger Warning)

I just went to bed. It’s been about twenty minutes, and I couldn’t stop my brain. Every night it is this way and always has been. I am great at meditating, but, there are times when I cannot focus on the single breath or the space between breaths or my heart beat. I just can’t shut up~!

This explosion of words and flickering images tonight was as usual, about my day, maybe what I read, saw thought, or felt and tried to ignore. I watched the new Sherlock Holmes and suppressed my analytical mind as much as I could, which is to say the movie drove me over the deep end with it’s lack of attention to detail. It’s Sherlock Frigging Holmes, you cannot miss the ligature marks and the color of the nails. That’s the very least of what was missed.

What they did add in however were moments like what I feel and go through when I go and do things. Sherlock was shown doing drugs, he was shown having too much sensory input, and he was shown having racing thoughts, images, a compilation video in his own mind that screamed at him the things he should know. That’s right, things that come from my Autism were shown in Holmes. I declare it mediocre which means most people will like it. It takes an awful lot for me to like a movie, partly because I require that this movie is either flawless, or can at least drown out my brain. Few movies can meet either criteria, and truly the best do both. I don’t have a favorite movie for t his reason, but my default answer is Batman.

The antidote for me has always been to imagine something. Imagine the better. For the last few years the better is always death. The last few weeks I have been afraid to try. Tonight it was a flash of that but I pushed that away and reached for theĀ  better. It was exactly who I am but with a wheelchair and my natural hair color (red) again. It was me. I panicked. How can that be better? Sure I have freedom, mobility, and can resume living. My life is on pause while I fight for the new chair since the scooter died exactly a week ago come sun up. Better is me as I am?

I screamed. I screamed the word No. I tried to imagine something else. The only non me thing my brain reached for was… Barbara Gordon, as Oracle. The only actual change in image? Her computer was better. Same face, same chair, same eyes, same hair, same … ME. I should someday write a list of parallels i share with that character, some of them are astoundingly creepy. The few things we do not share I either do not want or would not be me if I had them (like a decent father). I do not know what this means. I had to talk myself down.

I am fine the way I am. There is no getting better. There is nothing better to be. Does this mean I accept myself? I do try to, but, my reaction to this makes me wonder if I fear accepting myself truly. I fear admitting that my life is this way. I tried to think of anything else but, I am still in that frantic space. I feel the spiders under my skin, and I just want to be .. me. My brain showed me an analogy that I thought may help someone else struggling with this.A fter all I have done so much, and I have changed a lot, yet some of the things will never change right?

A diamond is multifaceted. I am multifaceted. A diamond’s facets must always be a part of the diamond itself. They may touch each other, or reflect into one another, but, the fact is every facet is touching the core of the diamond. With a person this means that as much as the outside changes, as much as the body changes, the mind even… there are parts of the identity that are core to you, and will never change.

That’s when my brain stopped screaming. Another flick of random words and visions, colors, it’s hard to describe unless you experience this anyway, but the daily swirl resumed. It was more like a life montage with prettier colors involved. The time I was shot in the leg, the time I was stabbed, the time… pain happened. Instead of being different though the person was just me. My body as I am, right down to what I am wearing.

Even when my father shot me with a nail gun in the foot to punish me, and told me that the pain would make me better I was still just me. The name I used to use from birth because my parents thought it would work out? That was still me. No matter what name I answer to, no matter what highs and lows I face, no matter what injury, ability, life goals, jobs, passions, and love. I am still me. The things that make me happy have not truly changed much at all. The needs I have,yes, some have but, it turns out I never broke. I merely had a new facet added to my core. I am not broken.

“Happy” Anniversary (Trigger Warning)

Yes, that says “Happy”. I am not sure this anniversary will ever be happy. I chose today to teach a class. I am trying to wind my brain down from the horrors that are the sound of fireworks. I spent the entire day in my room being cranky with myself. I got over that fairly early actually and enjoyed a mental vent session by reading a site called http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com . Eight hours later I am feeling almost normal and great for a stressful PTSD triggering day. This was the first fourth of July where I did not get sick from the smoke.

I am still feeling like the world is made of sand paper against my skin, but, I can control my snarkiness now. It’s in my head, and that has always been the case. I like to think that even Spock from Star Trek actually thought vindictive things up. “Vulcan Blood. I’ll show you McCoy!” If not, well, I am definately not a Vulcan or a Half Breed so it doesn’t matter. I am just human. That has been the theme for the week. I am just human. I am not Super Cripple, Amazing Woman, or even Functional. Just human. In preparing for the class I am to teach in nine hours, I realized I chose this day on purpose.

This is where I pause, and hide the triggering things, so you have to click a link today to get to the rest of the juicy details. Continue reading

The Speech (Trigger warning)

What is below lies a trigger filled attempt at a speech. I am going to give a speech about Rape. I have considered titles which are wholly inappropriate, filled with bravado, and would be more triggering and devalue my own experiences, such as “Rape, it’s What’s For Dinner.” Instead, I think the title may just be, “Rape.” My goal with this speech is to educate law enforcement officials and others about the facts of being raped. I also want to use this speech to reach out to survivors and victims, so that they can begin to heal. I think at this time my updating speed for the blog will be once a week.

I also want each of you to know I could not do this without knowing I have support from my readers. I do, and therefore I know I have a safe place to write. Thank you for that. Between paragraphs I am checking the spam folder on comments, I find it a bit frightening that all of them are for Viagra and Vibrators. Those comments didn’t start piling in until I began to write about rape. I am blessed to have a good spam filter, but, that is a terrifying association.

“Rape”

Rape is often used in the media for drama, there to add tension. The Fear of rape is something that most people have felt at one time or another. Rape can be defined in many different ways. There is date rape, statuatory rape, and then the simple category of rape. The words seem simple, yet, there is a strong reaction to each category. Some people are blamed for their rape, some are told they do not matter, and others manage to fight for prosecution. All of the victims of rape are simply that, victims. Rape could be classified as a hate crime.

What makes a person rape? Most rapists know their victim. The rapists get in close, they are trusted, and often it is an act of domination. It is an act of power. I have been raped. What power does a small child have? I do not know. Perhaps it was the power of life. My biological father was the first person to rape me. He brutalized my body, he tore me to pieces, and then he left me fearing that no one would believe me. My mind suppressed the memories of the worst attacks in order to survive. For years, I dealt with a monster in my bed. I would have rather had the monster under my bed, a figment of my imagination. I did not have the luxury of unfounded fears as a child.

In my journey for healing I began to remember, and due to the law at the time I could still prosecute him. I went to the police. I discovered the horror of being devalued. It is important to support victims of rape, instead of turning them away. The then Albuquerque District Attorney told me, “Your case is just not compelling enough. It won’t matter no one will care that you were raped.” Compelling enough? I still do not understand his choice of words or actions. Why does a case need to be compelling? Justice was lost that day. I was left with the horrible realization that he didn’t care enough about me to do anything. I cried for weeks, for I had wanted to protect other people from my father. I didn’t think he would stop just because I grew up.

I was silent for years after that about being raped. The years of silence festered in my heart. I took the blame onto myself. I presumed I deserved it, because why else would no one else care? It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and began to study law that I understood. My case wasn’t one that would get him political attention. My rape wasn’t important enough to him because he had no basis for what damage could be done. If I had been his sister or mother, he would’ve been enraged. A small and defenseless teenager? He could do as he wished with my rights. I had no way to fight him. I decided then that I wanted to become a lawyer advocating for children, especially those who were sexually abused. Although that has yet to happen, it is still amid my goals.

Another facet of rape came into my awareness as I was forced to confront disability. Bodies that are not as physically able or minds that are not cognizant of the world around them are more likely to be raped with less action comitted to the effort. I have been lucky as a woman with a disability, in that I can still defend myself. I had a “friend” try and rape me a few years ago. I was vulnerable, hurting, and had just found out my back was broken. He made excuses after the attempt. It was only through knowledge that I protected myself. I retained the use of my arms and used the bits of martial arts I could still perform to keep him back. He still hurt me, but, the violation of my body was prevented.

In any country people with disabilities are more likely to be raped. Many people believe the myth that a person with a disability cannot be devirginized, and as the myths pervade about disability and sexually transmitted diseases this leads to thousands of people becoming infected. I have run into the police even locally refusing to enforce any laws that protect my human rights, as a disabled person. They do not listen, and women without disabilities have to fight just as hard to have validation legally. Doing so just after a brutal attack is not just difficult. It is as impossible a task as Climbing Everest.

At the risk of triggering memories for any persons who have been raped I am going to try and describe the emotions involved in being raped. Helplessness. You cannot stop them, you are not strong enough, fear. Are you going to die? There is pain, emotional and physical. The sense of violation doesn’t wash off, even if the evidence of the rape can. You can never wash away the feeling of fingers, hands, and other parts of your rapist entering you. Time might dull that sensation but, the knowledge that you could not stop someone from entering your body is always there. It haunts you, it chases you. Empty rooms, dark nights, and hallways all become places where you might think you hear their voice, or a breathy little laugh that sounds like your assailant. It becomes harder to function, harder to go out. Sometimes it is impossible to stay inside. You want to flee. You want to scream. Some of the victims of rape do. Usually this ends with a brutal beating. Some are too afraid to make sound, and are left to wonder, if I had only screamed would I be saved.

Forever, you carry the burden of wondering what could have prevented this. Some, who know their attackers may not press charges out of fear for their lives. They are left knowing that their rapist is right there, able to harm them again and again if they so desire. Everyday activities become moments where you fear, where you must protect yourself. Even when you don’t know how.

If you are able to try and get police help you must relieve at least a few times the assault, with as much detail as possible. You must allow a stranger to see if they can find evidence inside of your body. You must also wait. What if they do not agree you were raped? This happens often. The police don’t bother with a rape kit, or they decide a person is unrapable. “You are too ugly to be raped.” This sentence is used to justify a denial of justice, to justify mocking a victim, and to justify the excuse that fewer people are raped than the statistics say.

The famed statistic states that one in four women is raped or faces an attempted assault. This might be accurate but with rape there is a huge gap in information. There are no accurate statistics for rape of the disabled, the rape of men, and the rape of women. These statistics try to compensate for those who do not speak up, those who cannot speak up, and yet without actual numbers they fail the victims and potential victims in many ways. The room for error leaves room for disbelief.

The second person who raped me was also someone I knew. I was in Elementary school and this boy decided that he needed to prove to me I was worthless. It didn’t matter that I had no faith in my self or my right to exist. It didn’t matter that we were friends. He pulled a gun out at his fathers house and held it to my head while using my body. I did not handle this well. I was positive no one would believe me. My mother didn’t, I did try to tell her. I had a history of behavioral issues that directly stemmed from the abuses I dealt with as a child. I took my own revenge. I was the one who was punished. I broke the windows in his parents cars, his house, and then I beat him with a metal pole. This course of action landed me in juvenile detention. He never was punished legally. I paid for my crime and his.

I am not finished healing from the experience of rape, but I am sharing with you the facts that I know. If a woman comes forward saying she is raped, she needs the benefit of the doubt. The rape culture in the United States teaches us that she must have deserved it somehow, that ugly women do not get raped, and it teaches us to shame the victim. The media perpetrates this, and despite the best efforts of parents, teachers, and even some of their peers, children do absorb these subconscious lessons.

Rape is a very real crime. It is painful, and it can change the way the victims of rape see the world. Many develope Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their minds taking triggers from even a smell, and plunging them back into the memories of rape. Many choose to push people away, becoming angry. Some decide they deserved it and throw themselves into dangerous behaviors to try and not feel their pain anymore. Every victim of rape is effected. There is no set response to rape. Some victims may be quiet, appearing calm, others may scream and rage, and still many more may choose actions that include suicide.

If you or someone you know has been raped, or you suspect that a child is being abused please support them and assit them in contacting the police and the local rape crisis center.

At this point I will have my Person hand out little cards with the local crisis numbers listed on it. I do want feedback. I will rewrite this a few times, publicly too. I lost the spark part way through due to my cat jumping on me and spilling juice everywhere. He also deleted a page of vital statistics so I am off to find them.

Aftermath (Trigger Warning)

After I wrote the post last night I cried for an hour, I tried to talk with my Person and wound up just asking him to read the post. He understood a bit before, but after he read my words he could not argue with my need to have him seek out the words. I was so drained that I could barely keep my eyes open. I was almost asleep when I shifted and felt something under me. I shifted to try and get off of it, I thought it was a pen, as I often lose them in my blankets and do my work from my bed when I have to.

I couldn’t find the pen. Moving around had woken me up enough to help me realise I had to pee, if I hadn’t then I would’ve been awake in two hours and more off balance. So, I went to the bathroom. My body had a somatic reaction to the memories combined with an existing abcess due to the Hidradenitis Supprativa. To explain, I must add to the details of last night. Part of what I left out was the mention of genital mutilation. My father used my vagina as an ash tray. I have scars from both the HS and his gridning out lighted cigarettes in my flesh. I don’t know if I screamed but if not it was only because I couldn’t physically.

The pen I felt was an abscess that ran the length of my canal and was as wide as one half of my vagina. The size means it was there for a while, but the stress or perhaps the freedom triggered it coming to a head. It hurt. I called my person and asked for medical supplies, then I started trying to figure out what it was. It felt like dough with a liquid center. I ran my fingers up the length of it and at the head the abscess filled my hand. It didn’t burst the first time, but there was blood on the gauze. I did it again, and the mass got bigger. This time it burst.

It took a long while to get it fully drained, but, after the initial pain I felt only relief. Yes, that was a serious infection, and yes I have notified my doctor and we discussed treatment. The treatment is for me to keep it clean. If it fills up again and I can’t keep it drained I will go on antibiotics. We are waiting because of my allergies to all antibiotics, each has a reaction so it has to be worth it for me to take the pills.

While draining this wound I was forced to deal with my femininity directly after reliving the trauma. I never want to be female after, because in my mind it would’ve been somehow better if I was a boy. That justification didn’t hit me, nor did the self hate. I felt sorrow but not hate. I had to love myself to tend my wound. The world didn’t end and I continued to function. We did lock William out of the room due to my flashbacks. He would be in danger. Sprite is able to help me with my PTSD and set right to work once the medical gore was taken care of. She watched from the floor while I cleaned and waited for my Person to shut the door. Even now, she is at my side, resting with me.

There was a dream but it was not a nightmare. I was simply a butterfly fluttering in fields of flowers, the wind playing a song in the trees. Everything was peaceful. I flew up into the sky and there I became the wind and began to sing. Once I blew through the trees I became the tree and I grew. I am an oak and solid, I will be here for generations, I will outlast the injuries and pain. I am rare, I am strong. I then was the acorn, falling to the earth. I turned into a flower seed and fed the butterfly, before I was flying up again, on brightly colored wings. I have some tears that are falling as I share my dream. They are tears of joy. They feel different than the tears I shed in sorrow.

They are soft, and light. They are cleansing. I am looking at my wall, where I have a mural made out of butterfly stickers. They fly up, and up, swirling around a Jonathon Earl Bowser card I was given, around one another. I should finish the mural. I can hang the moon, and they can fly higher. I still feel safe. I feel free. There is more life inside of me than before. The infection is purged. I can keep growing.

I am not afraid to look at myself in the mirror. My person cannot see the scars in my flesh, he only sees the woman that I have become. The child who died that night can finally be laid to her rest. She can finally have her peace. I can finally be whole.

I am not sure when this all happened. Any survivor or victim or victim survivor knows this is a process. I have done this mostly alone, which may have made it harder. The alone was not wise. The alone made it harder. The alone felt safer. I no longer have to be alone. I have so many wonderful things in my life, wonderful people, and it is time to grow.

I have knowledge that is new too. I became a dancer because of that night. I couldn’t bear the stillness. Being injured and paralysed trapped me in fear. I denied the truth, I denied just how afraid I had been of being injured once more. When it happened and I lost everything, I secretly thought he had won. When I saw him after, my terror was not just of him hurting me but of him seeing he had won. He only saw that he had lost. I miss the dancing, but, knowing that I chose that path to spite him I can let it go. Perhaps I will teach someone else to dance, perhaps I will choreograph a dance with women who have survived or who have been victims. To celebrate what we are. It is time to grow.

Sink your roots deep, raise your branches to the sky.

Lessons Learned

Everyone discounts themselves at one time or another. Recently I have faced a lot of self doubt about my public speaking. My wheelchair has given me a renewed terror of public speaking, something I have not felt since my first speech during my years as the Speech and Debate Captain for my high school. This is another reason I went back to Toastmasters. The idea that I of all people could be afraid to give a speech was just mind blowing.

As an autistic I talk too much as it is. I cannot always stop myself, though that is something I am working on. Without treatment for my autism beyond shame, I learned to bottle it up letting my words flow out like the richest cream on stage. Now, I am going to start a new career as a Public Speaker. The difference between what I have done in the realm of Public Speaking and what I am starting tonight is this. I will get paid.

I did not think I was a marketable asset. A part of this is based on what I have heard my entire life. You are too fat, you are too ugly, no one likes pale people, no one likes skinny people, no one likes you. You aren’t worthy, this is the constant message that has been sent not just my way, but towards most children. Any difference becomes devaluing. I was supposed to go to Career Builders tonight to give a speech. I had it ready, polished, and yet two things occured that had me missing the meeting.

My doctor’s appointment ran late. I met my new doctor and obtained my pain medication for the first time in months. I also am going to see a therapist that specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder AND Chronic Pain. My new medication specialist has told me even if this doctor and I do not work out, he will treat me. He didn’t question the validity of my service animal and was understanding about my nearly running him over. I left empowered, yet fighting Reynauds.

It started to snow as we left the office, and we discovered with only 15 minutes to get to the house and drive an hour that I had forgotten my brief case at the house. When we made it home and I climbed up onto my bed to grab it, I just gave in and laid down. Immediately I called the coordinator but, after that I checked my email.

There it was, the reminder that I had signed up for a free online speaking session with Darren LaCroix. It was free, and I hadn’t been so positive I wanted to help Career Builders yet. Key word being yet. So, I clicked the link to the session, locked William out of the room after he crushed my hands and asked my Person to turn up the heat so I could try and stop shivering.

I wouldn’t have given a good speech tonight due to pain, my brain fog, and shaking like a leaf in the wind. I couldn’t remember the opening to my speech and every other word came out as a breathy gasp. I also fell outside of the Comic Book store and my body couldn’t match my brain in fluidity. As I laid down and began to chat with the others in the audience, I woke up inside a bit. I realized a few things as the session wore on. I was left feeling like an asset and not an… well you know.

Some of the information, which I do not want to give in detail here so that you have to go and seek out Darren’s teachings, was pointed and was really just in the form of a question. If you answer it, you have a small portion of what is needed to sell yourself. Other points were broader, metaphorical yet directed.

I am now going to speak for Pay. I will learn how, and the beautiful thing is simply this: I am sellable. I am marketable. It isn’t just being a beautiful redhead, a capable person with a disability, it is also being able to share the information that I have gained through experience and broadening my audience.

I learned a lesson tonight. What is the lesson you have to learn? What will help you find the inner spark? I had lost it this week and now not only is my inner spark found but so is my future goal reset, bigger and brighter than before. I am reaching not for the stars but beyond them, for, I can’t fail. I can only win by trying.

Hidden Abuse Take Two (Trigger Warning)

Abuse is something that is running rampant in our society. I think the “right” to abuse is not just reinforced in some religions, but it is reinforced in other ways. The media often shows women getting hit as punishment, or if male and females are both under assault, the woman gets hurt worse, and it is the man’s duty to avenge her. There are very few deviations from this formula. I am writing a deviation, at least I hope so, for my own novel. I realized that I am exploring what it is to be a survivor in my writing.

I am not going to give the plot away by much, but, there is an exploration of rape, incest, and the confrontation of an abuser in my story. That is a big portion of it’s core. This is a core part of what has made me who I am. I have confronted every abuser in my life, and although it is extremely painful and has ended badly in most circumstance, I was able to show them that I know what they are.

Through this exploration of what abuse is, and my constant thoughts and warnings I have come to see that the media lies. Abuse isn’t just when you are beaten bloody. That is the most obvious abuse. That is the abuse that comes in at the end of a very long escalation. Abuse starts small.

My first abusive boyfriend actually helped me find my name. At times I feel weird answering to Kat, because he was the first to call me that. The spelling and intention is different yet the association sometimes pops up. The abuse with him was the smallest. It started over food. I have huge food issues, and have had for most of my life. He would start out with our food order. I would order something meaty and he’d look at me and say, “That will make your cholesterol high. Don’t you want a salad?” If I refused to order the salad, at first he would just shrug, but then the comments started to escalate, “Well, if you want to be a fat pig for the rest of your life fine…”

I nearly died when I started to give in. I didn’t see this as abuse. It was not as bad as what I had dealt with before, so how could it be abuse? I didn’t understand. He then began to accuse me of things, little things that made no sense to me. “You are one of the Illuminati, You are the destroyer of worlds.” I thought he’d been reading way too many comic books. He hated them but read them to try and make me feel better about him, in some ways that worked at first.

This was one of my longest relationships, I was hiding my relationship from my family per his order. After all they would surely judge me for dating a person of a different ethnicity. Before you ask, no he was not black. I have been blessed to know only gentle men of color. No single ethnic group holds the buy out on violence. Most of my abusers are men of my own color, white.

I began to miss out on time with my friends. He then started pressuring me for sex. I had decided a long time ago I want to have sex with the man I marry. For some reason this was not the same in my mind with women, I could explore them but men were too dangerous and in my mind hated pleasure with promiscuous women. I was warned that if I did not have sex with him, the world would end.

The night we broke up he hit me. I do not remember much, I had a flash back to one of the worst beatings of my life. I also reacted, I don’t remember it but when I came back to reality I had been hitting him with a frying pan. My face hurt, and he snarled at me, “I am going to rape you, kill you, and then I will have your soul forever.” Those words haunt me. He meant them. He wanted to steal my soul, because in his eyes I had too much personal power.

I called 911, he was arrested, and some of the things I found out about him were frightening. He had lied about his name, he had lied about a lot of things. He was a known serial rapist, and had killed more than one person. He went to jail, and although he is out now my fear of him is very small. I doubt he will try to find me. If he does, I know how to protect myself, and I will call the police.

Looking back, I see many warning signs of abuse. I thought these were normal for social interactions however. Any time you are not allowed to share a relationship, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you are not able to meet their friends or family, that is another sign of abuse. It is a bit harder to feel that these are significant with internet dating, but they are in the majority of cases. If you must stop seeing your friends, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you say no, and he takes that as yes? Get out of there.

There are more signs to abuse, but my brain is trying to flash back now, so I need to stop writing this piece. Abuse is not as hidden as it thinks it is. As a survivor of abuse I have dealt with varying layers, finding each time my brain accepts it as normal, until I finally found my way out of the cycle of abuse. It takes years, it takes practice. If anything hurts you, even if it might not feel wrong it is abuse.

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