Wishes are not reality

I created a narrative. The narrative was true but not in the correct order or context. So does that make it a lie in its entirety? Or did I just create the one sentence to make all of the other memories easier to bear? I think the latter.
In my mind Nana always said, “I’m sorry that Billy Banks did what he did to you.” That made Nana the one and only person who reached out to me, that I remember, who told me how badly she felt for everything I’d been through. My memory deceived me. That does not at all mean that all of my memories are lies or are confused. I’ve said from the beginning that with repeated ongoing trauma, the time line gets all jumbled up.
Last night I dreamed I had just had surgery for endometriosis. I was on the couch and Nana brought over the fake flower arrangement she made for me. She used to make these arrangements. It was black and white. I am absolutely sure of that because I remember thinking it was odd to give someone who had just had surgery an arrangement of black and white flowers. Where was the color. Where was the encouragement. It just seemed dead. She handed it to me and told me she was sorry that I had been through this. It was true. My dream.
I had awful periods and my mother was sure I had endometriosis like she did which caused a hysterectomy and her sister which caused her infertility. I had surgery of what I thought would be laparoscopic to remove endometriosis. I have always remembered distinctly the feeling I had when I woke up. I heard the doctor, interestingly the same doctor who delivered my brother and me, telling my mother that he had found endometriosis on my uterosacral ligament and that was all. He said he did a D and C to clear out my uterus of any endometrial tissue as well. After I heard this I reached down and under my hospital gown I was lying on a thick pad that I was bleeding onto. I had no idea he was going to be going into my vagina to do anything. Then telling my mother…I felt like I had been raped but I had no idea why I felt this way.
When I was 8 years old I became ill with what doctors now think was a precursor to the disease that had adult onset, which infact started when I was 8. I remember not being able to move without pain. I remember the pain being the same as the pain I have now. I also remember crawling to the bathroom. But that’s not true either. I didn’t crawl to the bathroom until I had the endometriosis surgery. After I came home from that surgery, the gas that they put in my abdominal cavity to move things around and search for the endometriosis, rose up into my shoulders. They told me it would take days to dissipate. If I sat completely up it was excruciating. So I crawled around. Until it finally did go away. Maybe I did crawl to the bathroom when I was 8 years old too. Maybe doing it as a teenager reminded me of that and that is what I remember most. But in my dream, which was a real recollection, I crawled down the hallway after that endometriosis surgery.
It took a long time to heal from it. I was weak.
I had come home from a waterskiing job, lived with one guy for a year, then came back home and I have no idea where I was living but I recovered from this surgery at home until my boyfriend at the time insisted he could take care of me at his house. As soon as I got back to his house, which he carried me into because I still could not walk, I had this sickening feeling I’d left a safe place for an unsafe one. But my house was never really safe. My memory of going back with my boyfriend to his house was that at some point in the relationship his wife came home. I head her high heels down the hallway and opening the bedroom door. I was mortified. I had no idea he was married. He was separated apparently. But that’s not the point of any of this. The narrative is. I had gone back to his house because he said he would take care of me after the surgery. My family made fun of him. He was 30 years old and I was only 19 or so. I always referred to him as “the humper” in my mind. You know how you can watch a dog hump on someone’s leg. That’s what he was always doing to me. Humping up against me. It was disgusting. But I was too weak to protest him taking me back to his house so I went.
At some point I broke up with him after finding out he was only separated from his wife.
My memories. All jumbled up. Very clear in my dream.
Before I was sick at 8 years old I was having urinary issues. So I had a surgery. They put me under anesthesia. Exploratory surgery of my bladder. I’m not sure what else happened in that surgery. I remember waking up and the nurse drawing with a pen on my sheets as to what was done. I remember being on a pad, naked, under a sheet. I remember the first time I peed it was very painful and that was at my Nana’s house but I never told anyone how badly it hurt to pee.
I continued having bladder issues, UTIs and my mother even sent me to her doctor to have urethra stretching done. This doctor put these smooth glass pieces in the urethra to stretch it. Getting bigger and bigger in hopes it made me get less UTIs. It was extremely painful. Is that when I peed at Nana’s house and it hurt too? I think so. It was all very clear in my dream.
I also had gotten a sexually transmitted disease that caused my cervix to have an abnormal Pap smear. That doctor did a cone biopsy to get clear margins. She told me she did not know if I’d ever get pregnant due to the cervical dysplasia and the endometriosis background.
I also had polyps on my cervix that a doctor twisted off. I told her to stop but she didn’t. She kept saying ONE MORE SECOND.
My dream reminded me of how many times doctors had made me feel violated. If you combine what the doctors were doing with the abuse that was going on…well it was pure hell. All of it. Even at 18 I had to see yet another specialist due to vaginal pain…I wonder why….he decided to cut the tissue out of my vagina and study it. I had multiple stitches. I was under anesthesia then too. He also put a cancer treatment on my vagina that swelled it closed so that I could not urinate at all. I had to go to the ER. All in the hopes to cure me. My poor vagina is all I can think. Violated by men, traumatized, ripped off and cut out by doctors.
But in all of this I have always thought that in the MIDST of this STORM of my life, Nana had comforted me. She had been the only one to come forward in the Billy Banks abuse to tell me how sorry she was it had happened.
But I created that. I guess I needed someone on my side in my own mind. I needed to know that someone was there to really know and give me empathy. In all reality there was no one. I was accused of being a slut by the gynecologist for the sexually transmitted disease. I couldn’t tell her it was from abuse. I was told by the surgeon who cut tissue out of my vagina that maybe the pain was from past abuse and trauma to the area. He didn’t know. But that did not stop him from using me as a guinea pig. I was too young to object, know better, or stand up for myself. I was desperate for an answer and a treatment. I never got one.
I woke up from my dream/nightmare thinking about my mother. She always acted like we are on the same team. She had endometriosis so I must have it too. She had a big butt so I had one too. She wanted us to be the same and talked about us as if we were. I didn’t need that surgery for endometriosis. I didn’t need any surgery I ever had.
I had a muscle disease that the doctors were too stupid to figure out. It affected my bladder and other muscles. They just “explored” on me and my bladder and my uterus and eventually I even let the doctors take a piece of muscle from my leg. I needed an answer. I had a muscle disease was the answer but the biopsy atrophied my leg.
Such a cost to me. Such a loss to me. I’ve been tossed in the devil’s den too many times to count anymore.
After waking up, everything makes more sense though.
Between the doctors and the abusers, my body was not my own. It still doesn’t feel like my own.
I thought Nana was there for me in a way that she was not. She was in other ways growing up. She was my safe place. She was a protector.
At least that’s how I remember it.
My memories have no real time line. I know they all happened and I know that I did what I had to do to survive.
I just don’t know if I am a survivor. I don’t feel like I’ve survived anything.
I recently wrote my mother a letter. Her husband’s daughter had told me that my mother spoke of me fondly. I’ve heard this before. Apparently all of my family speaks about me to others fondly. But it’s all a lie. They will tell you that they want a relationship but that I have not reached out. They will tell you that they love me and I won’t let a relationship happen. I believed for just one moment that maybe my mother did. I felt like, since 5 years ago when they all disowned me for speaking the truth about the abuse I’d experienced, that maybe they had NOT really disowned me. They don’t make it seem like that to others. I had some things that had been left unsaid. Some things that I had learned in the five years they had disowned me. I still felt that maybe one of them would come to my door one day.
Then I received my letter back from my mother “refused” circled on it and return to sender. And it hit me. In the five years I’ve been struggling, mourning, they really did just let me go. I had created this narrative in my mind based on what they told other people (lies) that maybe there was a chance my family did care.
I wasted five years.
My family did not just stop caring five years ago.
I’m not completely sure my family ever DID really care. I believe now, with these memories coming together, that I created a narrative where they did care about me. That made surviving the abuse tolerable.
That’s just not true.
I will never know what I was to them.
When you are dead to your parents what does that make you?
When your life has been a series of devastating events where does that leave you?
I am 48 years old with severe complex ptsd and seizures and a muscle disease and a bone disease and a vaginal disorder and trigemenal neuralgia and wide spread pain and atrophy. What will become of me now. What will the narrative of the rest of my life be? I’m the only one who knows the truth of it. I tell it here but the truth has not set me free.
It has made me alone. Would I rather be alone in the truth or surrounded by liars. Seems like it would be an easy question to answer. It isn’t.
I’ve begun to lose hope that there will ever be any normalcy in my life. Now that I am living in the truth and am aware of the truth in my past, I can a tiny bit understand why some choose to live in an illusion.
I can understand why I made Nana say she was sorry about what Billy Banks did to me because it was coping. But it wasn’t true. No one really cared about what Billy Banks did to me. And he was only one very very tiny part in the destruction of my childhood. Why would I ever have thought anyone would ever have cared about anything else.
I can only wonder what my dreams will remind me of next.
I know there is more I have suppressed.
I can hope it will stay buried in the recesses of my mind. But nothing does. The truth always comes whether we want it or not. I wish my truth were better. I wish it did not have so much tragedy. I wish my Nana really would have said what I thought she did. Wishes are not reality….

Eating disorders.

I like this me now. Healthier brain and body.

This me is hard to look at from years in the past.

I was less than 100 lbs when I met my husband. Drinking slimfast for breakfast and lunch and who knows what for dinner. Biking, working out, running stadiums…and not eating.

It took me far into my marriage to understand that I had an eating disorder. It took even more years to grasp why I had it.

It did not start out as a conscious choice. I had to be under 110lbs to be on the top of the pyramid at my job at Seaworld. The more acts you were in the more you got paid. Top of the pyramid paid more money.

That morphed into control. My entire life, control had been taken from me and now I could control how I looked. What I saw in the mirror is not who I see in this photo. I thought I looked healthy. I look emaciated. I’ve found other photos where I look worse.

After the muscle disease diagnosis, and the inability to work out anymore, that need for control got even stronger. But, you cannot starve an already dying muscle. So I started to eat.

I see anorexic women. All the time. And men. I saw one at the park today. I saw one in my neighborhood a few days ago. And I KNOW. And it PAINS me. I want to scream YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF STOP STARVING YOURSELF. But it would not matter. I want to yell I KNOW HOW MUCH PAIN YOU ARE IN AND WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS. But they would not believe me. Sometimes you just have to come to it on your own. When people would comment how thin I was I thought GOOD I will keep getting thinner then! They want me to gain weight, I will lose it because I can and they cannot control me! The thinking is very distorted.

Someone said to me once that they could not believe anorexic people choose not to eat when others around the world are starving. I promise you it is not that simple. It is deeply complex. My anorexia was rooted in the sole focus of my body. Men wanted my body. They wanted to use it and abuse it. Everything was about my body and how I had no control over it. So, I thought I gained control with food. That is how I would get my body back.

That is not how I got my body back. I had to separate what was done to me from who I was as a person. I had to take back what was stolen from my body by loving it and nourishing it. It was very very difficult.

I’ve had people say..oh that’s why you got the muscle disease. Sorry hon…faulty genes gave me the muscle disease. Never blame a person for something they cannot control. It just snowballs and makes everything worse.

Therapy diagnosed me but I decided to tackle the eating disorder on my own. I’ve known many women who did the opposite of what I did, and gained weight purposely for the same control reasons. You just don’t know us until you’ve walked in our shoes. Why we are too thin or considered overweight. You just don’t know why and should not assume. It is a battle! For me overcoming abuse has been the battle of my life! You’d think it would be this muscle disease. Overcoming THAT! No. It’s the abuse that has haunted me.

I’d say I overcame the eating disorder but that would not be fully true. I will be in bed at night knowing that I’ve eating many meals and thinking I’m hungry. I will then try to talk myself out of going and getting food. “You don’t need it! You’ve had enough! Just sleep.” But now I listen to my body that says, “but I’m hungry” and I get up and go get something to eat. There is an ongoing dialogue that I wish were not there but may always be. I look in the mirror and think I’m fat. Then I look at a photo and think UGH I’m so fat and I can’t work out and there is nothing I can do because of the muscle disease. Then I have to tell myself…you are doing the best you can at being your authentic self so lets not put a weight number on that. And then I step away from the mirror and don’t think about it anymore. At some point I got a scale and realized I weighed 135 lbs and I ALMOST slipped. Then I got rid of the scale. I was honest with my family and said take it away! I cannot focus on my body in THAT way. I can focus on it doing yoga, breathing, making sure I get enough protein for my muscles. I cannot look at a scale.

Acceptance has been a huge turning point in all of my biggest moments in life. Accepting the extent of the abuse. Accepting that I have PTSD. Accepting some of the choices I made because of the abuse. Accepting that some of those choices were not as much in my control as I thought. They were abuse choices.

My first meal after I decided to eat was after my decision to be mindful. Mindful of textures and aware of the sunlight on the leaves. I did not eat mindlessly. I ate mindfully and enjoyed and savored every single bite of food. I had never really enjoyed food. Now I LOVE food! And I love that I’m able to love food. Mindfulness has been an opening to healing for me in many ways. It brought me to photography which has truly saved my life!

Just like a smell will trigger PTSD, a comment about how I look will make me immediately make me want to control how I look. People think they are paying me a compliment when really they are bringing back my focus on my physical me. Innocent on their part but what a conflict in my head. “What makes me more abusable? Being thin? Gaining weight? What makes me safer?” Dialogue. Unhealthy dialogue. At least I am aware of it now.

Abuse has LONG lasting affects. I don’t use them as an excuse when I write this but more as an educational tool for someone going through it or someone who knows someone going through it. After abuse the wires get crossed in what survival mode really means. Our mind thinks to survive we must do…Fill in the blank, ,because at one time that served us and maybe saved us. Like freezing saved me during abuse but it does not save me when a smell triggers me and yet my brain doesn’t quite get that. In this country women are so sexualized from such an early age and bombarded with commercials and social pressure that it is a miracle not every female struggles with eating disorders even if they were not abused like I was. I’m thinking more women struggle with it than anyone knows because most of what I speak about has such a stigma attached that it is kept a secret.

That’s why I wrote about it in my original blog Not My Secret because only in speaking the truth can we free ourselves from the chains others and society and abuse have put on us. Stigmas and judgment about eating disorders, ptsd, anxiety, mental illnesses, sexual assault. I will keep talking about it because it needs to be talked about. My old blog was focused on releasing secrets. My new blog is more focused on how I am healing while keeping an honest transparent voice all along the way. In silence, we are trapped. Use your voice and you will find the chains will slip off easier than you think and you will nolonger be tied to the trauma as firmly as you were TAUGHT. You were taught to be silent. SPEAK and start the journey to freedom.

Poetry…trigger warning

Shall I remove my locks?

Cutting away your desire of my flesh

Wasn’t it the flick of my hair

Or did you win me in a bet.

And what if I remove my breasts

No,

When you first touched me

I did not have any

Yet

(Hard words for you to read, imagine them in my head

Imagine me as a child in his bed)

Shall I gain 40 pounds of fat

No,

They should have told me

Weight won’t stop

Them,

From

That.

What can I do to remove you!

You’ve taken so much for yourself,

I am

Without myself,

A shell.

Residues of you

Come in scents and smells.

I am sentenced to a…you-hell.

Shh keep quiet,

I fight the years of grooming,

“Don’t tell. Don’t tell.”

Whether deemed saint

Or deemed whore

You take what is not yours…

Society does not care what is behind closed doors.

Neither do the molesters.

If not me,

Just another girl.

And the blame lies on my skin

Paper thin

From all the men.

So many men.

Yet it is their sin

Which they will repeat

Again and again and again

(No one will ever step in

To save the children from

The predator’s den. I know this,

It’s where I’ve been)

Word of me spread

As just a young child

” She will never speak of it,”

Like fire in the wind for miles.

The demand for youth is high.

But there would have been no demand,

I kept thinking as a girl,

If not for the multitude of detestable man.

You could never understand.

You will never understand.

Which is why I am alone here where I stand

(Or rather sitting in a wheelchair with a pen in my hand)

We call others barbarians!

Other countries

Other religions

But WE are the land of the great

Where little girls,

it is accepted, get raped.

Rich or poor,

We don’t escape

Behind the golden gates.

I watched

As protestors held their banners “Love. Not hate.”

It did not create change

Only action

Not bumper stickers

Could have unsealed my fate.

You say, ” NO! We do not accept rape.”

Then you turn back to your ham and your pie on your dinner plate.

(My story of your lack of action is not up for debate)

“I’ll kill him and they will never find his body,” I’ve heard a man claim, “If anyone were to touch my daughter,” he says in vain.

Words are more easily spoken

And rarely cause a stain.

A man will not risk being detained

But he will shout from the rooftops his empty distain.

And women…the wives…the same.

The cannot even whisper my name.

No one in the town.

No one on the lake

Where everything took place

I tried to tell the truth

But they covered my words in paint.

It would have taken only one.

No violence.

No words.

To give me self worth.

To make me safe.

No one chose me

TO THIS VERY DAY.

“Take her, she won’t complain, we have manipulated her brain.”

“She has nothing more to lose and we have everything to gain.”

The underworld is right in your face

As is the next little girl’s fate.

Your mere faith

Will not help her to be safe.

You cannot pray this away.

” If I only knew.”

You know.

The pain of my youth.

Everyone knows this truth.

It has nothing to do with me

It has everything to do

With you.

It has never been about me

But always you

And you

And you

And you.

So place your napkin in your lap

And devour your next piece of fruit.

Quietly

Pridefully

Chew.

It’s all you’ve ever done.

It’s all you’ll ever do.

I am the proof.