2020- 5 year goals

I’m trying to stop ‘pinning’ things that I do not use, so I am currently going through my pins and cleaning out things that are not used.

I am also trying to use the writing prompts that I’ve saved.

One is “86 lists for the planning obsessed” and the first of the lists is “5 year goals”

Here we go:

  • Have completed seeing every state on the east coast (this currently leaves me needing to see Maine and New Hampshire)
  • Finished grad school- starting over put me behind in my mind, but hopefully, this happens within the next year or year and a half
  • Have streamlined my cleaning routine- currently cleaning our house from top to bottom, at once, takes me 8+ hours
  • Have found what works for my new diagnosis
  • Have paid off our final student loans
  • Have made progress on negative self-talk, and allowing others’ negative talk about me to affect how I feel about myself
  • Have cut down my weekly screen time consistently – currently, we are in quarantine, but with audible, listening to a sermon a day, working out, scrolling social media, etc, I’m averaging over six hours a day and that is not cutting it
  • Have minimalized my social media presence
  • Be on the board of a nonprofit
  • Be at peace with the relationships in my life
  • Learn that a 60+ hour work week is a requirement from anyone in my life but me and slowing down will not make the world fall apart
  • Stop feeling the need to google my answers to things to make sure I am not missing anything, and just be confident in who I am and that I am damn intelligent – I really while writing this googled how to write five year goals to see if there was anything I was missing
  • Have found our church home
  • Meditate at least once a week
  • Be a better friend, like understand that people not texting back is not a statement that means they are done or do not love me, etc, but just be a normal human a little bit
  • AFSP Capitol Days, yearly
  • Be killin’ that funt life (love my nugs)
  • Start pursuing my nonprofit management certification
  • Have taken Caleb to Disney
  • Have gone to New Orleans, Dallas, and to the Price is Right (Logan Smith, Come on down!!!)

To love myself, I cannot hate the experiences that shaped me.

I have not been here in a while. I have written, but I have not posted those thoughts here. However, last week I finished a paper for graduate school. I was asked to think about how my gender or race shaped my life and experiences, and how those experiences shape my thinking. I wrote hard and clear about what hurts, my treatment, and experience as a survivor. I wrote about how life looked alone, with others, and how my experience differs as a woman than it would as a man. If it rubs you the wrong way, please consider that you may very well be someone I am talking about because you have not handled my story that I trusted you with, appropriately. 

There was a lot I left out that didn’t feel like it belonged there but I can briefly share here, including how I do not pursue people anymore because I am so tired of rejection and hurt. How my health continues to deteriorate. How I have lost people close to me since we got married in June and how much it hurts that the people we trusted to stand next to us on our big day, turning away from me for unknown reasons confirms to me that I can’t trust people because this is the way my mind works at this point in my life. How I have panic attacks that find me in the random and mundane because something takes me back to that place: in a TJ Maxx, my bachelorette weekend, in the car, etc. That my flashbacks have grown more vivid in the last year for some reason. Finally understanding my need for overachieving and it’s links to what I went through. Yet also constant feelings of being able to do nothing right- literally nothing, but understanding that constantly seeking validation is obnoxious to everyone around you. Anything about my depression and how close I have come to relapse in the last year. 

Anyway, here’s the paper:

To look back at my life and how race or gender have affected the events and my reactions to these events, my focus is drawn to events that center around being assaulted when I was in high school. November 2019, marked ten years since my assault, and I often find myself looking at events in hindsight and realizing that my assault and my gender have determined how I have been treated, as well as the ways I have acted as a survivor. I have watched for ten years how my assailant and others have exercised the power of my assault over me, whether purposefully or as a result of the socially-constructed rape-culture we live in. 

As a preface, I was assaulted when I was sixteen. I knew my assailant, I had dated him for over a year, although at the time of the incident we had been broken up for many months. It was an openly known fact that my family did not approve of him, so when continuing to see him, I did so without my family’s knowledge; as a newly-licensed driver, this became relatively easy. He assaulted me in a public space, I am petite so I did not have a lot of force to fight back. I did scream when I saw someone passing by, the woman looked in our direction, and kept walking. At that point, I went into “freeze” mode and tried to make myself mentally anywhere, but there. Later that week, I told one male friend, and then I did not speak about it until January 2012. I did hear that my assailant told people he took my virginity and there were some rumors and name-calling when I was not around. This is why to this day, I am really only friends with one person from high-school. The same people who had watched this boyfriend throw me against lockers for speaking to a male colleague during class and did nothing, willingly believed I had lost the most special part of myself to him, and this told me all I needed to know about any of them. I did not know at the time this was the beginning of the different reactions towards sexuality when it comes to men and women. That even though I had done nothing, because it was rumored I had, I was called a slew of names, while he was patted on the back for bedding a cheerleader and beauty queen. In January 2012, I was watching television with the boyfriend of the year, a rape scene played on screen, I told him, “I think I was raped.” Within a month, I had ‘come out’ to my family, friends, and church, and I was seeing a counselor. I also had encountered my first experiences with victim blame and rape culture, my personal favorite being one of my bible study friends saying “Wow, you must have sinned really bad for God to have punished you like that.”

My gender has been a defining factor in the reactions I received from the day it happened to today. I understood within a few years of speaking up, although I never reported it to the police, that survivors are very often blamed, and just as often, not believed. What drove home how many people in my life, and around the nation, did not have empathy for survivors was the testimony of Christine Blasely Ford. It was terribly phenomenal to scroll my social media and read people I trusted with my story discussing how Justice Kavanaugh was the true victim. The election of Donald Trump and the dismissive nature of our nation towards the slew of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct has opened a can of worms in my life that will never be closed. I have learned things about people I love, that I can never unknow. I can say with complete confidence that my assailant, as a male, has never been asked the things I have, like what I was wearing, if I did anything to imply I ‘wanted it,’ if I was sure I had not done it then regretted it, or if we had done it before and now I was just mad at him and trying to make everyone hate him. I have had jokes and comments made about assault in general, and about me specifically, to my face and on social media. All of it has defined who I have become with my family and friends “at home” because if I cannot trust them with the worst thing to ever happen to me, they do not deserve to be trusted with any of the good either. It also makes me very sad to be that cynical. 

My cynicism and my anxiety carry into school, both my workplace and my education. I have been asked to leave a class for a scathing review of one of my professor’s book on sexual assault in the twentieth century, and how he took part in rape culture by writing it. [Sentence removed here for legal reasons]. I had a hard time with the thought of returning to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s campus after the shooting last spring, because new trauma can cause one to feel other trauma-induced feelings. I can find myself in highs and lows in defense of the people like me who live with our specific type of pain daily. I do see how my gender and my experience have positively affected, as well. 

Being a woman, who is okay with feeling her feelings, I have let what happened to me help define the emotions I let myself feel. Without the hurt, I endured that day and every day since then, I would not have the empathy I do for others. I would not care as deeply as I do for my students and their needs. I would not be walking through life with other women who were assaulted in the last year and loving them and telling them it does get easier. I would not have the heart to decide to leave another school, and a master’s program that was almost finished to continue to pursue my heart for education and the kids I get to help raise through it.

My gender has positively affected my experience with sexual assault too because I do see other women who talk about their assault and their feelings. I have women like Christine Blasely Ford, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Chanel Miller, and Lady Gaga to look to. One of my male friends was assaulted before we met, and he never felt like he could speak about it because socially it feels like it is even less acceptable to be a male who has been assaulted. It was hard for me to go through my feelings alone for over two years, I cannot imagine what he feels living through it daily, knowing he does not get to share the burden with others, in all the ways I am able to. For as many adverse reactions I have received, there are also people who are empathetic. There are people who think of me and send an email during the news coverage of Biden and Trump’s growing list of accusations to say they are sorry I lived through that and if I need them they are there, but he does not have that. My gender allows me to talk about it and feel my feelings, being a male who talked about his assault would gain him more negative commentary than my waiting and lack of legal action gained me.

Today, I reiterated my story for what seems to be the three-thousandth time, and I felt my emotions. I decided some time ago to follow Ernest Hemingway’s piece of advice, and to “write hard and clear about what hurts.” Being a woman for me means, I live with what he did, every day. The trauma resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a chronic musculoskeletal disorder called fibromyalgia. Both make sure I am reminded, daily, even if I wanted to forget. My trauma means I live with the anxiety of having children and something similar happening to them. I also wait for the next person in my life to show me why they are not trustworthy. It also means I scream all the louder about the things that matter. It means there is a fire in my belly to pursue my dreams and pursue them fiercely to prove to anyone that I am more than what happened to me. [Sentence removed about perpetrator because of identifying information]. I would never be thankful for him or what he did to me, but I am grateful for being a woman who owns my story and loves myself despite the hard parts. Without my struggle, I would not be me. Without my pain, I would not love so fervently. To love myself, I cannot hate the experiences that shaped me. 

96712709_2537042799896098_1576000724137934848_n*references to textbook were removed.
but I did reference this book we’re using in the course
https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=hflWCgAAQBAJ

 

“Do Better”

TW: Suicide, depression

 

I don’t sleep well on this night.

Tonight I am sitting alone in my new living room, with my cats, with my spouse sleeping in the next room.

And it seems that with each passing second the clock ticking on the wall behind me gets louder.

When it strikes midnight, it will be October 1st.

On this night, seven years ago, I wonder how you spent your final night on this earth. I wonder what your thoughts were. If you had fully made the decision. If you had any caveats, any signs that would stop you. I wonder what texts you sent. I wonder what words would have kept you here.

I imagine you hugged your sweet mama’s neck extra tightly that night. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

None of the people who loved you in the course of your 19 years had any idea.

In less than 24 hours, I would be sitting in a new member education meeting when I received the phone call. A friend who doesn’t call anymore. But the only person I would’ve wanted to share the news with me.

I hugged a wall. I hugged my sisters. I screamed, a lot that night.

The monster that has seemingly has no end. The one that reaps without care of age, gender, race, religion, had come into my circle, our circle.

As much as I wish that night could be taken back. I wish we could rewind. Someone could have stopped you. Hugged you tighter, said what you needed to hear, sat with you all night, done whatever you needed, it’s been done for seven years. Our bodies have completely regenerated since that night. We are completely different people than the ones who got those phone calls, than the ones who hugged you in the hallways, than the ones that can never again hear wonderwall without stopping to think of you.

I desperately wish that night would’ve my only encounter with the monster. Yet, time after time, the phone buzzes, the words are uttered, the heart breaks, the spirit is crushed.

If I never heard those words again, it would still have been too many times, it would still have been soul crushing weight, this night still will forever hold a magnitude as the night before our worlds changed. Because of you. And somehow, I want to find this to be poetic justice, that you must have felt so alone, yet by passing from one world to the next you have affected more lives than I think you probably could have imagined. But there isn’t justice in this world. There isn’t a healing balm. There is no time machine. There is only the movie playing in my head that reminds me of the week of October 1, 2012, and what it held, there is the picture show that repeats every phone call since then, and a voice echoing ever louder with the ticking of the clock, “we must do better.” Im sorry we didn’t for you. 

Learning to Rest

A month ago I made a hard decision. What felt like one of the hardest decisions I have made to date. I had to choose to take a break. I am not good at breaks, rest, slowing down. I measure myself by how much I accomplish. I find worth in my grades, my to-do list being checked off, pats on the back, jobs well done, and the fact I stay busy. 

I ask God a lot to teach me how to slow down. I ask Him to show my heart the meaning of the words “Be Still.” I ask Him to teach my heart the meaning of my worries being taken care of by Him. But I don’t ever really put this into practice. It seems every time I lay down my worries in front of Him, and every time I ask for my worth to be found in Him and not doing ALL THE THINGS, I still pick my duties back up, find my mind running rapid during quiet time, and I don’t ever actually slow down or find myself in Him. 

So as this semester should have been beginning, I found myself on Skype with my thesis committee chair/grad school advisor, in tears. I heard myself utter the words “I advocate for everybody else’s mental health, but I’m not taking care of my own.” As I uttered those words out loud, as this thought occurred to me for the first time, the seriousness of the situation struck me. I asked what the process was for taking a semester break to get my life under control. I heard my brain whispering to my heart that I might not ever find the strength to get myself in order. 

I have depression. I have anxiety. They have returned full force in the last few months. I found (still find) myself struggling to get out of bed on so many days. I take my medicine. I do frequently forget (or don’t feel like) exercising. I pray about my mental and emotional health, a lot. I know I dug my way out of this hole more than once in the past, but I don’t know the way out this time. I don’t know where to begin this time. Asking for help seems hard. The solutions that have been offered when I have asked don’t seem right. The harsh answers that have been given seem even harder to swallow. 

Yet, even in the midst of all of the struggles, and there have been plenty, I have seen small glimpses of grace. 

I also have been, and this will sound different than I mean it to, forcing myself to spend time with God’s Word as I search for His promises of rest. And He’s been teaching me. He’s been whispering to me heart:

Isaiah 41:10

Matthew 11: 28- 30

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Psalm 46:10

Jonah 2:2

Psalm 61:2

Isaiah 42:2

Psalm 91:4

Exodus 44:14

Psalm 147:3

There is a precedent in God’s word for rest. To be still. I’m searching for that. I’ve run. I’ve run hard, in fact. I’ve served (Isaiah 6:8). I’ve prayed and waited. I’ve called upon the Lord. I’ve failed. I’ve trusted. I’ve succeeded. I’ve preserved. I’ve conquered mountains. But, the valley has returned. 

My struggles with mental and emotional health are not a sin. They may better me in the long run. But I’m determined they won’t define me. They may bring me down momentarily but I’m determined they won’t keep me in the valley. In trying to understand myself in these dark nights of the soul, im trying to understand the complexity of my human nature, and that of others. I know I have failed in so many way and I will continue to fail. My heart hurts for the wounds I carry from myself and those I’m still trying to find forgiveness for from others. But, Each step I take that seems to have a positive connotation feels like a big deal. Each day that I get up, make it through another day; accomplish tasks set before me, I am doing my best to remind myself that I am enough, and I am loved. As I try to become more gentle with myself to grow through this and heal, I hope I’ll become more gentle with others. And I hope to maybe even learn what it means to be still. Even if it’s for a few moments, that’s more than where we started.