Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vist this blog!

It's shameful how rarely I update this, internet community. I apologize. I can't promise that I'll update this any more frequently in the future, but I don't think I have too many readers hanging on my every word anyway.

First, check out this blog. Trigger warnings, as usual, for frank sexual language and sex toys. The blogger is my close friend and roommate, and he knows his shit. He is also very receptive to questions and requests for help, which may be useful to you, because I know for a fact that he has an understanding ear for people who have PTSD. He has held me through more than one flashback (when I could be held of course,) and he has a good understanding of mental illness issues in general. Not to mention the fact that if you ask him anything pertaining to PTSD, he'll have me here as a reference.

The reason I suggest it here is that quite often the PTSD community and the queer, kink, and trans communities overlap. Queer and trans people are a lot more likely to be sexually assaulted or abused than any other section of the population, in part because they are in a position that already marginalizes and isolates them. This position can and often is taken advantage of (and even sought out to a certain extent) by abusers. Kinksters, as well, are a group that tends to think about consent much more actively than the rest of the population. The kink community, in my humble opinion, can be really attractive to survivors because it is so focused on consent and negotiation. The air of healthy sex positivity can also be something very empowering to survivors, depending on what stage of their process they are in. There are times that sex positivity in and of itself can be incredibly triggering to me. Accordingly, I wouldn't say that I am an active member of any kink community, but when I am doing well enough to be sexual and comfortable, it's a group that I greatly appreciate.

I have plans to write a blog soon on the intersection of post-structuralism and PTSD, but I think for now I'll leave it at this.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Moab Is My Washpot

*** Like all posts in this blog, there is a major trigger warning for what follows:

I love Stephen Fry. I want to grow up to be him, crooked nose especially. I've been told that I look like him a bit, to which I've responded by glowing.

My hypothetical and non-existent reader may be curious as to why I decided to write about this in my survivor blog. However dearly I love him, Stephen Fry can be a bit triggering for me. I first discovered this really unfortunate fact not long after I first started accept the fact that I had actually been sexually abused. I read The Liar a couple years ago. I picked it up from a friend to read at work. At the time I was working as a phone operator for a very large company, and I was so good at my job that my call times averaged at less than a minute, so I had some time on my hands. Like most unpleasant memories, I've forgotten the finer points of the plot, but the premise involved a device that could detect lies in a real way, even if the teller was unaware of the lying. There was a lot about how the brain processes information, and how it does it differently with manufactured information. I think why it upset should be fairly obvious. Even on my best, most assured days, I have a lot of trouble believing that I am not essentially a liar. On my best day, if someone were as me if my mother sexually abused me, I would hesitate. I am terrified of any action either way. I don't want anything else to happen to confirm that it happened, and I am even more terrified of being proven wrong.

My first therapist told me once that it didn't really matter when all is said and done. Ultimately, if I feel that my mother sexually abused me, that's my reality; I have to live with it either way. My mother remembers thing differently, or so she says, and both understandings of the past can coexist. To be honest, I was pissed the fuck off when he said that. How dare he? It was in my opinion at the time tantamount to saying I was making everything up, but to this day there is no other statement that can make me feel better on the days when I feel like I'm lying.

Those days happen more regularly when I'm doing better oddly enough. I am medicated and still living far away. In fact, I've been nigh untriggerable lately, so much so that I've been calling my mother regularly. I don't like admitting that. It feels like defeat. I have been having long conversations with her when no one is home, and not mentioning that I was the one who called her or that I kind of enjoyed them. At the moment, I can't emotionally or mentally remember any of the instances of abuse. This happens whenever I'm doing well, which means apparently that I'm not doing well so much as taking a break from doing not well. It's at times like these that what that therapist told me runs through my head daily.

"Moab is my washpot" is a peculiar title, but if it's good enough for Stephen Fry, it's good enough for me. This summer I am yet again at a job that leaves me with a lot of time to read. I'm reading Stephen Fry's autobiography, titled, yes, Moab Is My Washpot, I'm only a hundred pages in, but it's having a very similar effect on me. He writes a lot about lying. He writes about how prideful he was about being a good liar. I can relate to it heavily. I know I'm a good liar. I'm in a lot of ways proud about being a good liar. If I'm as good as I think I am, it is not inconceivable that I am lying about the abuse. When in a better mindset I try to remind myself that this can as easily be a symptom of sexual abuse, learning to lie and believe lies, as much as it can be a reason to believe I was not a abused. Stephen Fry not only reminds me of this internal dilemma, but he gives good reason in my disordered brain why I should lean toward the explanation that I wasn't abused. Stephen Fry writes about lying the same way I in a disordered way feel about it, but he was not abused. He says so directly. He feels that he was in no way abused, and he even goes somewhat in depth as to what the definition of abuse is. He feels nothing that has ever happened to him ever came close. This way of thinking can develop in someone was not abused. I could just be lying. It's not proof, but it's enough to trigger me into thinking it is.

This is in essence the triggering part of Stephen Fry's books. They remind me that the symptoms and behaviors I cling to to prove to myself that I was abused when I cannot remember the abuse itself could just as easily be unrelated or used as proof that I was never abused. My therapist was right, I suppose. I don't think proof exists, not in the concrete way. I don't know if my memory will ever be reliable. My mother's memory certainly isn't. All I have is that I feel like I was abused most the time, and whether or not that did happen, I still do have to deal with it. I still have a gut reaction to reject it. I want to insist that no, actually, I was abused. I am dealing with something real. I've never been one to accept the whole reality as a construct understanding of the world. Things do happen. They happen in context and with translation but under that they happen. Externally to me. That is what I need; external confirmation.

All this hasn't triggered me into any real PTSD symptoms. It manifests in super depression. I will finish the book because the other aspects are lovely and funny. It's these problems that remind that I need to go to a serious therapist, and work through remembering events and processing them. I can't deal with remembering, coping with the trauma of remembering, and repressing again and again forever. I need these memories to exist consciously in a way that doesn't hurt so much that I repress them again. While trying to think of them now only one or two incidents that I've always remember come up. I can think of nothing at all. It's frustrating.

That is all. Sorry for the long absence. I don't have much to write about on this front when I'm in this state of mind. In the interest of continued honesty, and irony, I suppose at this point, I can say now that I've been diagnosed with PTSD. There was a lot less fuss than I thought there would be. I told the doctor my symptoms. He said I had depression and PTSD, prescribed some medication, and I was on my way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There is a lot to be said for what's been left behind.

I called my mother today. If you've read my last post, you'll know that my mother was my abuser, and while there were others, the baggage I have left from her is by far the most significant. Why did I call her? Well, there were a number of reasons-- it had been a few months, I could tell she was getting anxious (the distressed voicemails tipped me off to that one), and though I hate to say it, I miss her. My mother has a number of diagnosed mental illnesses and an abuse history of her own. In my experience not calling leads to a suicide threat or maliciously outing me to the rest of my family. Ultimately, none of the practical reasons to call matter. I have no dependence or relationship with her nor my family any more. The rest of my family disowned me after my mother outed me as trans and gay to them the summer before last, and I have no reason to desire continued contact with her. I miss her or I still care about her apparently. At the very least, I must feel some sense of obligation. I really have no other excuse. I spent twenty years of my life with the woman, many of those years in complete enforced isolation. It's hard to let that go without a few lingering phone calls.

Needless to say, talking to my mom devestates me. She still will not admit that she abused me, and often times she purposefully acts ignorant or innocent to trigger me. I was expecting that when I called. I had a cigarette and glass of wine on stand-by. When she answered she was crying. She had just put my dog to sleep. Fuck. I started crying on the phone, which triggered the hell out of me. I am not nearly ready to be that vulnerable with my mother. I told her I had to go, and sobbed. Thankfully, I had the cigarette and wine nearby. I took a bath (with the wine and cigarette), dried myself, and sat down to write this.

I've been weird lately in regard to my PTSD, which, by the way, I would like to disclaim I have not actually been diagnossed with yet. I haven't seen a therapist or doctor since I moved to Chicago nearly a year ago. It wasn't until after I moved that I started to display more serious symptoms. What I have resembles PTSD most closely, so I use that term in order to more easily communicate what I'm going through. In anycase, I've been fluctuating wildly between super regression/flashback/lost triggered to feeling exactly like I did before I even started to think about any of this, which was a God awful place-- entirely numb, convinced it was either normal or that I wanted it, etc... Reading Freud for my Social Sciences class has certainly not been helping. I have been falling into old habits. This means I've wanted to stay in my room forever, comfort eating, self sabatoging, and whatever semblance of a sex life I had with my SO has fizzled for the time being. I've been purposefully triggering myself by reading horrible incest fics on the internet. Thankfully, I have managed to not have this effect school and my relationship with my SO is still good, but something is going to break and soon.

I'm hoping my dog's death is not the breaking point. My dog's name was Sandy. She was a tan (sandy) colored cocker spaniel. I wasn't very inventive in naming her, I'm afraid. We got Sandy when I was 8 or 9. My time lines aren't very reliable. We got her right before the worst years of the abuse. She was my only friend throughout all of it. I don't know if I'd be alive if it weren't for her. What also gets to me about her death is that I feel that the one creature who I couldn't blame is gone now. Sandy is the only one who never betrayed me with her silence. So many others must have noticed something, but never said. I still have issues today with friends who knew me toward the later years of the abuse, knew what was going on, or knew some of it somehow, but never took that step to tell someone who could help me. I was a troubled kid, and no one ever tried to see what was happening. Teachers, friends, family members, neighbors, no one said a word. I feel like my only friend and witness is gone. It's upsetting. The witness part is throwing me in particular. As my mom is utter denial, there is no one to confirm that I'm not crazy. Of course Sandy couldn't have actually said anything, but she was there. That was always comforting for some reason.

I haven't seen Sandy hardly at all since I moved out of my mother's house. I missed her before her death, and I still miss her. She was one of the many things I had to give up to get out, and now there's not much to go home to, even if I wanted to. She was a good friend, my only for a long time, and a good dog. It is always sad to have a pet die, but I can't help but mix this with my feelings about my abuse, which is why I'm posting my thoughts here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad...

"He cries, 'Unbar the doors and let all Thebes
Behold the slayer of his sire, his mother's--'
That shameful word my lips may not repeat.
He vows to fly self-banished from the land,
Nor stay to bring upon his house the curse
Himself had uttered; but he has no strength
Nor one to guide him, and his torture's more
Than man can suffer, as yourselves will see.
For lo, the palace portals are unbarred,
And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad
That he who must abhorred would pity it."
- Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

I honestly feel like this when I disclose my history of sexual abuse. I do, however, like to think that I am less dramatic than a Sophocles tragedy, but I cannot say that I've never considered gouging out my eyes with a brooch.

So to start I might as well disclose, because this post is somewhat about that process and its presence on the internet. I was sexual abused by mother for more than ten years and less than twenty-one. This past summer I attempted suicide, was hospitalized, moved out of my house, and started having flashbacks (all within a month). It was an oddly productive summer. I'm still having flashbacks. I'm still piecing together the concrete events, and embarrassingly I'm still defining what was abuse. In total I think a lot of the abuse stemmed from my mother's lack of boundaries and her fundamental misunderstanding of who exactly I was to her-- anything but her child it seems. As everything is so new and in a lot of ways I am just now becoming "me," it is ever-present for me. My triggers are so varied and intense at some times that it is impossible to go an entire day without breaking down totally. It is at this point that I usually take a deep breath, light a cigarette and avoid eye-contact when disclosing face to face.

Disclosing on the internet is different. The anonymity of it is actually disturbing for me. Sexual abuse breeds a disposition that feeds on anonymity. I crave it-- I want to keep this a secret, because I've been taught to keep most things secret and it is something I feel dirty for-- and the more I am indulged the more secrecy and guilt I feel. There is no real solution to this, I feel, because anonymity is important for those who are not ready to talk about it with the label that accompanies the information, and some people may never be ready. I understand not wanting to connect your name with this issue. I understand writing anonymously about it on the internet for catharsis. For me, though, being anonymous is unhealthy. With sexual abuse being so present in my life it's become almost an identity. I am an incest survivor as much as I am gay, as much as I am a student. They are equal for me right now. That will probably change someday.

I've searched on the interent for blogs centered around sexual abuse. I've found it mentioned on feminist blogs. I've found it mentioned in current events. I've found feeds for anonymous story sharing. I've not found any real blogs by a survivor. If you know of any good ones, please link me. My significant other has a chronic illness. There are a wealth of blogs and websites for him to read. I'm glad that he can find that. I see how helpful it is for him intellectualize this problem, to read serious critique. He can read Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag after a particularly traumatizing discussion of Kafka's Metamorphosis in our Humanities 2 class. As the partner of someone with a disability and as someone who knows that he has able bodied privilege, I am ridiculous happy that those resources are out there, but I can't help but be jealous that I can only find self-help books on incest and online resources that are related but only briefly and in a different context. I wept for hours after reading Oedipus Rex for Humanities 2.

I have to ultimately ask why? Why after all the self-help books I've read on incest and sexual abuse and after all the bloggers I've read talk about rape and seem to really understand the havoc it can cause in a person's life, why is there such a glaring lack of legitimate examination of the subject? I want to read Incest as Metaphor and follow a blog of some one's healing process. I think a lot of it is the nature of the abuse. As I said, it breeds secrecy. I think it is also that ultimately it truly is considered something shameful. It's sex. It's rape. It's sex with a family member in my case. It is gross. I've thought this for some time. It is gross, but it is anything but shameful. I am not actually dirty. No survivor is. I still feel that Oedipus is relevant. In the Sophocles I quoted at the beginning they cannont bring themselves to even say it. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. This is, in fact, not more horrifying than murder. In my reading of it I always felt as though they were doing him a favor in sparing him the shame of publicly announcing such a thing. I now realize they were doing quite the opposite. I will say it for him. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. He gouged out his own eyes to spare himself seeing the horror of what he did-- seeing himself as such a monster. I know there are mitigating factors in the play, but whether it be abuse or sincere ignorance, it still did not make him a monster. It doesn't make any survivor a monster.


I am going to post a poem of mine as well. I rarely show this and a few others because the few responses I've got have been disgust. It isn't pleasant. That was certainly not my goal. I think posting it publicly may be healthy for me. Here it is:

I woke up to find her legs spread,
wide and moist, and I shut my eyes--
tight to find hers not,
wide and moist.

She told me how it was stuck
inside her, lodged past the opening
I thought I had stretched enough already,
but I envied it, lodged where it no longer
had to see day, where the blood was only hers.

I closed my eyes to answer the phone.
The bed was made and crisp,
and I curled, fetal, which was what
I thought she had asked before she hung up.

It was my duty, sticky, sour,
and shy, but humility, blushing coyness
was illicit to her, or it must have been,
because I was her good fuck, or so she
said when she came rushing through our door,
shopping bags but no groceries in hand.

I obliged, licking when she pushed harder,
stretching when she arched upward, so maybe
I was a good fuck. A good fuck; it was all so
vulgar. She did orgasm finally-- I had read about
orgasm and the clitoris in a book-- and she ran her
fingers through my hair.

Reaching for the dresser, I crawled for the pillow,
a peculiar pulsing between my legs-- that I had not read
about-- and she tried to pound it out of me,
kneading closed knees, shredding composure.

I shut my eyes tight with my legs and woke
to find hers open, wide and moist.
She handed me the tweezers. This was mine
to remove. There was only room enough for

And with that I'm off to drink some more wine and smoke some more cigarettes. This like many things was triggering. I am glad I did it though. I can't think of another way to shake the shame of this sort of thing without disclosing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy!-- Late Night Introduction

I really only had two reasons for starting this blog-- one was a realization that my S.O. was posting things about our sex life in his blog, and the second was a more serious desire to intellectualize and post the events and existential crises of my life. As I considered writing this blog, I was reminded of Allen Ginsberg's footnote to Howl. Everything is holy (hilariously enough "my mother in the insane asylum" is even holy). It's a lovely bit of poetry and a personal mantra for me. I plucked the a line from it for the title. Here it is:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks
of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana
hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!
--Allen Ginsberg "Footnote to Howl"

Some likely future topics for this blog will be my continuing healing process as an incest survivor; gender rants and theorizing; how my school reading has sent me into an intellectual crisis (I'm at a great books college and it is basically designed to do so); poetry; tattoo and body reclaiming theory; my religious practices and theories; general whining; and more!