A Message of Hope for Survivors

If you have experience dv or sexual assault or if you know some one, this may be worth you reading. I am writing this because you are not alone. There are many people around the world who have experienced similar, who are also thinking and feeling similar. Except we all don’t know each other, therefore you feel isolated and alone. I am one of those people. When writing about things like this, I often wonder whether I am the right person to be sharing my experience and this message of hope? Every day I feel like hiding under a rock, yet my passion to talk about this and empower other women drives me out from under that rock. I have mentioned in other blogs that I was molested by a family friend on and off between the ages of four to twelve. I think it is appalling and absolutely unacceptable behaviour by any one that does that to a child. Yet I’m also aware that there are many other people who’ve had much more horrific experiences than me. It’s not an uncommon thing for people to have their own family not believe them. I’m lucky my parents believed me. I may have been bullied at school but it was mainly name calling, exclusion and I was slut shamed at the same time I was taking the man who molested me to court, but there are plenty of kids out there who are brutally beaten up every day by other kids. I was in a dv relationship from 2002 to 2007. It was mainly verbal and emotional abuse, intimidation and there were a few physical incidents but we didn’t have kids and I didn’t have horrific injuries. There are plenty  of women who experience horrific injuries, who fear for their lives and they also have kids to worry about. Last year I was raped, it was by some one I knew but it wasn’t a violent attack in a dark alley with a stranger. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who may be in a better position to write this but I think what I have to say is worth sharing. There are many forms of abuse, physical and sexual are just two types. There’s also emotional, verbal, financial, social, not to mention stalking. My thought process about down playing my experience is probably similar to many other people who are survivors. I don’t particularly like to go around calling myself a survivor but at the same time I also don’t think of myself as a victim. We  tell ourselves that other peoples experiences are worse, that we should have done things differently and that it shouldn’t be affecting us so much. We not only beat ourselves up but the rest of the world tells us we should be over it by now. We are constantly blamed for what we did and didn’t do. So we carry this burden with in ourselves and become careful who we share it with. We have learned the hard way that people find this type of thing terrible,  they are aware it happens yet it is often too confronting for them to think about it any more than just having some sort of awareness. Often people don’t know how to react when it is some one they know. They don’t have the skills  to support the person and there are many common misconceptions. Yes it’s very frustrating when it seems so many people seem to judge and not understand. It’s easy to feel angry for what happened and angry at the world but often people can’t truly understand what they haven’t experienced, especially if they aren’t very well informed. It’s perfectly reasonable and human to feel anger but it is unhealthy, a waste of time and energy to live in that state. The only person anger will affect is ourselves. It’s not going to make any difference to the perpetrator or any one else. Perpetrators are usually skilled at doing things behind closed doors or when no one is around. Often they are well liked people and there fore it’s difficult to believe they would do such things. It’s much easier for people to believe the person they put on show to the rest of the world than to accept they are a predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

You may already know this but your experience is real. How you feel is valid.  There is no time limit on healing from these experiences. Trauma may last weeks, months or even years. You were abused, there is nothing wrong with you. Normal human beings don’t go around hurting and destroying other people. You haven’t done anything wrong, they are in the wrong. In fact, you have the strength with in to heal and rise again. When you rise, you will be a much better and stronger version of yourself. These unfortunate experiences don’t define us. As you read these words it may be hard to believe you can get past where you are now. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it takes time. Do what you need to for you so you are in a better space. Whether it be counselling, journaling, art and craft or joining a support group. I’m doing all of the above but my support groups are a couple of Facebook groups, message me if you would like to know what groups they are. There are plenty of people in the groups who have similar experiences, thoughts and feelings. The groups are very well moderated by admin. I’ve found it good to connect with people who understand. Honestly I’m still not entirely over my experiences but I’m fighting to be a better person and to help empower others who are have experienced similar.  A blog and joining a local committee might not be much, but I’m doing my best. We are all doing our best and as I always say ‘our best is enough.’

I thought I might mention here that this also happens to boys and men. The majority may be women but it does happen to men. They are also in need of support. Violence and abuse is awful no matter who it happens to.

(note: I found the wording to this image on Instagram via tinybuddha.com)

Entering the Void

Have you ever felt you are in ground-hog day and on autopilot? Sometimes it is too easy to get caught up making sure we do the basics and keep on top of our responsibilities. Life just gets so busy and we forget to our own inner work and examine how we are thinking and feeling. Why do we think the way we do? What are our values and what is it we want out of life. May be we know these things but don’t take any real me time to reflect, process and be creative. When we get so absorbed in our busy modern life, we lose touch with ourselves.  That is until everything comes crashing down and we are stopped in our tracks. It may be our body that caves in and get sick, it may be our minds that have a mental break down or difficult life events happens. Things such as death, separation or illness. Often it takes a life altering event for us to wake up. For me it was more of an internal event than an external event. 

 

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Picture by Blaize Pacall  http://www.pascallphotography.com/blog/

One day I woke up and it was as though I had been numb, shut down and asleep for years. When I awoke I felt I suddenly had all this energy and was finally able to be there person I had never been able to be. Before this I  just plodded along and had never questioned my marriage. We didn’t talk or connect much, it was as though we were just existing in the same house but  it still was a rude shock for me when I could no longer see a future with my husband. I no longer felt for him like a wife should feel for her husband. I wondered why I had never realised that before but I how could I realise anything when I had for so long been so busy, disconnected and practically just a physical body who wasn’t there in any other way. I really did not know what to do because despite knowing marriages don’t always work out, I had this deep seated belief that marriage is for life and there should be a pretty good damn reason if it doesn’t work. A reason such as domestic violence, gambling, cheating etc. He was a good person but I felt being with him triggered my anxiety and brought out the shut down in me. Were these good enough reasons to separate? Was I putting my needs above my kids? Was I being selfish? Should I have just stay ed and forget myself? Does it matter if I felt dead inside? All these thoughts went over and over in my head. What I felt deep inside and what I believed were two completely different things. I was so conflicted and I didn’t want to hurt my husband either. Deep with in my gut I knew  had to go to truly be me, the better version of myself and therefore a better parent. . It was very difficult on him but since leaving my day-to-day anxiety has decreased, I am more myself and I feel I am a better parent. We also get on much better now. I won’t rule out getting back together one day, but for now it has been a good move and I am not ready to be with any body.

Recently I had another experience where it was as though a light switch had suddenly been turned off and I could no longer see my goals, purpose or where I was heading in life. I questioned who am I, what am I doing? I could not answer those questions. It was as though there was nothing and I wondered where it all went. The experience was very unsettling and uncomfortable.  I wanted to grasp onto something just to get my bearings but what could I grasp onto? It’s too easy to fill the gap with going back to my ex, jumping into another relationship or drinking too much alcohol.There are so many ways we try to fill that void. It was such a bizarre experience and reminded me of the red pill, blue pill scene out of ‘The Matrix’. Do I hold onto who I thought I was, everything I thought I wanted and all my current beliefs? I could have just taken the blue pill and continued living in illusion but instead I chose the red pill. I realised I didn’t have to fear the void I was in but instead to trust  and embrace it.  It was as though everything that was no me had to be taken  so I could see clearly. It was  opportunity for me to let go of everything that isn’t truly me so I had the confidence to be my true authentic self, find happiness with in and as a result be a better person, a better parent. The void forced me to be honest and get real with myself.

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Matthew 19:7

A Buddhist Rice Bowl

 It’s Something To Think About. . . .

“In Zen Buddhism, there’s a concept called ‘zen mind,’ or beginner’s mind.’  They say that the mind should be like an empty rice bowl.

If it’s already full, then the universe can’t fill it.

If it’s empty, it has room to receive.

This means that when we think we have things figured out, we’re not teachable.  Genuine insight can’t dawn on a mind that’s not open to receive it.

Surrender is a process of emptying the mind.”

                                  ~ By Marianne Williamson, “A Return To Love,

Reflections on the Principles of A Course In Miracles

 

 

 

What anxiety is like behind closed doors

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Photo found on paperhi.com

Heat, incredibly hot and sweaty

Worried you actually smell from sweating

Emotion, intense emotion

Randomly bursting into tears

Bleeding out of you like you’ve been cut open

And you can’t contain the wound

Struggling to keep your head above water

Feeling like your drowning

Gut wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach

Churning, being torn apart internally

Which causes all sorts of stomach issues, including nausea

Nerves, trembling fingers

Tension throughout the body

Fatigued, exhausted, drained, yet can not rest

Needing to sleep for a week

All the while plundering along as though every thing is ok

Trying to be a good parent, colleague, person

But really just wanting to go and hide under a rock

Reading into everything, thinking people are talking about you

Your mind says they are not, but anxiety says otherwise

Sometimes just having to evacuate because it’s all too much

And hoping no one notices how bad a state you are truly in

That you are so unfocused and just not present

On the surface all seems well but anxiety is truly behind closed doors

It is silent, it’s lonely, isolating and it’s deceiving to the outer world

Gathering the strength to say ‘hey I’m not ok’

And trying to believe I’m worthy

I’m a normal human being who’s just going through an anxiety bout

It’s killing me but I don’t want it to define me, to control me

I want to raise awareness and for us all to support each other

I don’t want myself or any one else to be so burdened with shame and stigma

#itsoktonotbeok #nostigma #mentalhealthawarness

 

My Version of 13 Reasons Why!

Me when I was thirteen years ol

I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why. Every one seemed to be raving about it. I’m not usually one who is interested in what every one else is watching. I usually go for more sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural type of shows. How ever I had trouble finding something to watch, so I thought I’d give Thirteen Reasons Why a go. To be honest, at first I didn’t know what all the fuss was about at first. I can really resonate with Hannah’s story.  At first it seems a bit to high schoolish for me and initially her reasons may even seem petty but they are not petty at all. Each time she is treated with disrespect it contributes to her loss in self confidence and loss of hope. The snowball effect of bullying in high school is real, it keeps accumulating until the person can’t bear it any more.  I know because I’ve been there. Hannah and I have a lot in common. We were both bullied at school and had false rumours spread around about us. We were both treated badly by guys and also girls who were so-called friends. We both had experienced sexual assault and attempted suicide. However Hannah was successful in committing suicide and obviously I wasn’t because I am still here and now glad to be here.

The sexual assault I experienced was by a family friend. It started when I was four and the last time was when I was twelve. There was a gap between eight and twelve years old because we moved away and we didn’t see them until we went back for a visit when I was twelve.

At the beginning of year seven I had my first kiss and the boy spread rumours around the whole school that I bit him on the lip. He also said I was a slut. I had become known around the whole school for being a lip biter. That was the beginning of my reputation as a slut.  It was my first kiss, so I thought well maybe I did bite him on the lip. It wasn’t until a year later that I found out from another girl who that boy had done the same thing to her the year before in primary school.

My friends kicked me out of their group and said I could no longer sit with them. It was partly because of the snowball effect of the lip biting rumour and also because I talked to a girl named Rebecca who they thought I shouldn’t be talking to. She wasn’t so-called popular, however Rebecca was a far nicer person than they were and I’m glad I spoke to her because she has now been my best friend for twenty-four years. If I had been successful in committing suicide I would never have experienced good friends.

At school girls would walk behind me chanting ‘slut, slut, slut’ or ‘cow.’ When I went into classrooms ‘Kym is a slut’ was written on the desks.  The slut shaming happened at the same time I was going through the court hearing for the sexual assault I had experienced. Some how the sexual assault became known around the school which added to the slut shaming. I had one girl call me a slut and I said ‘how can I be a slut if I’m still a virgin’? She said ‘I know your not a virgin because you’ve been raped’. I don’t know how she knew that but she had the details wrong. I was sexually assaulted multiple times and he did attempt to rape me when I was four years old but I was still a virgin. I saw the school counsellor a couple of times, she had a word to some of the girls who were also former friends but it didn’t seem to do much, I think it made it worse.  The last time I went to see the school counsellor she seemed uninterested, quickly cut our time short and sent me back to class.

Later in the year I was sent on a school camp for kids who were having trouble. There were kids at the camp from years 7, 8 and 9. A girl from year 8 had asked me if I’d have sex with one of the year nine boys. I said ‘No’ but then when we went back to school he told every one that it was me that asked him to have sex with me. This further contributed to my reputation as a slut. I am just so thankful there were no smart phones or social media back then, it would have been even more horrific if there was. Sadly a lot of kids who are bullied don’t get to escape when they go home from school because social media is a 24/7 thing.

During this time my Mum had a huge argument with my Dad which resulted in him yelling ‘She’s not my real daughter, go and find her real father. Mum says she told me he wasn’t my real father but I can’t remember. She may have told me when I was younger but I must have been too young to understand or remember. Sleep paralysis was another thing that began while all these things were happening. Of course I didn’t know it was sleep paralysis at the time. It was very frightening to wake with a loud ringing in my ears, not able to move or speak. I also had hallucinations with the sleep paralysis and the things I saw weren’t very nice things at all. I thought I was dying or that I was being attacked by demons. I don’t seem to get the sleep paralysis any more.

I began self harming, in some weird way the self harming felt like a release, it felt good. When I was fourteen I actually did write a suicide note and drank some Betadine from the medicine cabinet. I didn’t do anything though, I didn’t die. So what happens after you unsuccessfully try to commit suicide? Well I ended up changing schools and I was no longer bullied. If I had been successful in attempting suicide then I never would have changed schools and made new friends. I was still damaged though, experienced depression and also was binge drinking. Although the drinking is not highly unusual for teenagers. I did up end hospital once from drinking too much. Smoking pot was also a big social thing for a lot of kids at my high school. I acknowledge that marijuana has medicinal benefits however it can be quite damaging to those  who have anxiety or other mental health issues. Pot made me extremely paranoid, gasp for air, twitch and once I even saw weird, distorted faces everywhere. The other kids made fun of me because I couldn’t hack it. As much as every one else enjoyed smoking pot, It was something that was very damaging for me. I now realise that my anxiety is the reason why marijuana affected me so badly.

I left home just before I turned eighteen and moved to Sydney.  Whilst working in a café in Sydney I was stalked by an older man, so I left that job. I had a couple of relationships that didn’t turn out. I was so insecure and had such a big need to be loved and accepted that it resulted in poor relationship choices. I was searching for something and went through a born again Christian phase in my early twenties. At twenty-four I married some one who could be quite controlling at times. I also experienced physical and emotional domestic violence in that marriage. The one time I called the police on him, they took him away in the paddy wagon and released him straight away. That was before all the recent domestic violence awareness. When I left my marriage, I left with nothing except my personal belongings. I didn’t get anything from the house and also left the pets behind. At the time I was very upset about losing my cat and dog.

I’ve now re-married, we have four beautiful children, I have good friends, hobbies and feel a lot better about myself. I won’t lie, my marriage is far from perfect, we are having a lot of issues at the moment but he is a good person, a great father and I will never regret getting married. I never would have experienced these things or would have seen the good in life if I was successful in committing suicide. I have had many good experiences including working at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, working as an extra in the move Moulin Rouge, studying and travelling overseas. This is why I’m passionate about awareness and being involved with issues such as mental health, domestic violence, changing attitudes and empowering women. I know what it’s like to be hurt and alone, I also know that it doesn’t last forever. I still do struggle but every day I remind myself I am good enough and I am doing my best.

If you are struggling, I want you to know that your difficulties won’t last for ever. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before life gets better.  Life is worth living, it won’t be easy but all the difficulties in my life have helped me to grow, learn and become an even better person. If you are struggling I want you to know you are important and the world needs you. We are all beautiful in our own way and have something unique to offer this world. As long as your doing your best, then that is enough. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Other people being arseholes is a reflection of them, it isn’t a reflection of you. You deserve to be treated with respect, you deserve to be loved and you deserve to live a good life. Please never forget this, even in your darkest moments always remember that all the love is with in you, all the strength is with in and all the happiness is already with in you. You won’t find it outside of you, all the power is already with in you. Don’t ever let any one else dim your light or take your power away.

#saynotobullying #suicideprevention #mentalhealthawareness #believeinyourself #13reasonswhy

Overcoming Anxiety

Firstly I want to say thank you to all my friends any family who have always loved me, accepted me and stood by me ❤ This is pretty deep stuff, especially for me to put on Facebook the internet and social media but I hope it helps others who are having similar experiences and it’s only a snap shot of the book I hope to write one day.
I have always been a  nervous, overly sensitive person, even when I was child.
Abuse as a child, bullying in high school and domestic violence as an adult didn’t help with the nervousness and anxiety
I spent my life never feeling good enough.
Never truly being able to be myself.
People would say don’t worry, so much, you need to let go and it doesn’t matter what others think.
Yes that is true and my rational mind always knew that is doesn’t matter what others think.
But I could never feel it. My thoughts and emotions  about self inadequacy consumed me.
I was so hard on myself that I couldn’t handle any additional criticism from any one else.
Perpetually being in this state affected me physically with bloating and muscular tension.
Social media was the worst for triggering anxiety.
I have always known social media it is not the real world but it was still a trigger for anxiety and made me self conscious. There were many many times I read into things the wrong way.
I’d always post things and delete because I’d get insecure about what I’d posted.
It was a state that affected every inch on my being and every cell in my body.
I just didn’t know how to be any other way.
So the easiest way to shut off the intensity was to keep busy, quietly go into my inner world and shut off.
But in shutting off, I shut off from really being myself, from really experiencing life.
I shut out the opportunity to get to know people and for people to truly get to know me.
Spending my life like this was exhausting and I didn’t want to be like this any more.
So I’ve over years I put in effort to try and make myself better.
At first it was with drinking and smoking.
In more recent years it was always being busy, binge eating sugary things and binge watching Netflix to escape.
However none of those thing solved the underlying problem.
On and off over years I have focused on diet, meditation, exercise.
They became a big focus before I had kids, especially the meditation and changing my thinking.
The meditation did make a difference
But became less and less after each baby.
It was after my third child I feared for the safety of my kids,
I nearly crashed the car a couple of times.
I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror.
So naturally when I became pregnant with my fourth my anxiety hit the roof again.
I couldn’t let myself get as low as I did after I had my third baby.
So I made a real effort to make things different.
After many attempts of trying to eat better, think better, exercise better and even relate to people and the world better.
I finally did it and over a period of time became more an more energetic, less and less tense.
More and more able to be myself and let go of little things that would tie me up in knots.
Then a  couple of months ago it was as though I had this awakening.
I felt excited for life and I felt the confidence to truly be myself and do the things I haven’t wanted to do but had always held back from doing.
I  had finally awakened from being asleep.
I used to wonder why it was so hard to be a human being and if people actually enjoyed life and were happy.
I often thought maybe my space ship would turn up one day and take me away.
But now I know it is possible to function as a human being
It is more than possible to enjoy life and be happy
It’s taken a lot of hard work but it’s all been worth it
For the first time ever I am  more confident to be myself
I have never felt so empowered
I have learned to love in a different way and not love out of need
This is such as massive and exciting thing for me
Yet it has its costs because the old me no longer exists
I am different person and the way I related to the world is different
I am becoming who I was always meant to be but never could be.
I think it is so important to believe in yourself. Every single person is unique, beautiful and has something to offer.