I have big plans for mamaquest, but from talking with friends, I realized the potential hinders on inclusion. So yesterday I announced the start of my new initiative called Trauma to Art (T2A). I’ve asked VERY smart people to contribute their art (poems, paintings, drawings, essays, sculpture). The possibilities are endless, but let’s take this one day at a time. First, read this amazing post from Ms. Sarah Thomas. Two, comment! Three, let me know if you have a piece of art you’d like me to publish. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My favorite Disney movie as a child was always The Lion King. Analyze as you wish, it’s a great story and it has components for all in the audience: peppy songs, love, drama, and even spirituality, an area Disney doesn’t explore much. Lions, though depicted as lazy and greedy in some Animal Planet documentaries–and I don’t doubt they have these qualities–are also considered to be one of the bravest animals in the kingdom. So I am channeling a lioness.
Trauma comes in all forms and to most before a life is said and done. For me it started at six, ended at 14 and involved two close men in my life: my father and my first boyfriend. To be more specific, my father sexually abused me and my boyfriend sexually assaulted then physically abused me throughout the tenure of our relationship. Not terribly uncommon, 25 percent of women will be sexually abused in some fashion in her lifetime, but it was horrific nonetheless.
Like many survivors, I sought mechanisms to ward off the unbearable pain: an eating disorder, depression, disassociation, more defenses than I care to enumerate here. Other typical symptoms such as insomnia, alcohol abuse, and PTSD also reared their ugly head. But I was not to be defeated!
Four years ago, I stumbled my way into a therapist’s office and to her couch I still travel twice a week. I went for my eating disorder, initially. I had told no one about what my father did and it took me nearly two years to tell her. “I didn’t know if it was wrong,” was my mantra. To my surprise, it was more than wrong.
I focused for months and even years on how my “boyfriend” forced himself on me and, in one terrible instance, did succeed to date rape me. To be sure, that is trauma enough. I chose to focus on him because it was “easier” to be angry with him. He was simple. Gambling with him wouldn’t end in ostracism, and it wouldn’t have the same consequences.
There was much to work through regarding the rape. And I did. Then, ominously my therapist and I moved on to the next. The unthinkable. That a parent hurts a child in such a vulnerable, satanic way is unconscionable. But, I still have to own that it happened. It’s a work in progress, really. I own it one minute and neglect it the next.
After about two years of talking about it, dancing around it, thinking about it, and attempting to feel something about it, I still disassociate from the little girl who actually went through it. “It just wasn’t me,” I told my therapist last week. “But it was,” she retorts. “Are we dealing with some multiple personality?” she says with a sly grin. “No,” I say, defeated but relieved that she can call out my deflection. “It was me,” I admit. “I just can’t feel anything about it and I know that’s not normal. It feels like it wasn’t me,” I try to scream.
Boy, am I lucky to have is a smart, take-no-bullshit counterpart in this journey. We have relived my abusive relationship, the subsequent restraining order, and then my breaking of the restraining order, my eating disorder, and the dysfunction afflicting my family. That said, I’ve cried, raged, suffered from insomnia, abused alcohol, and avoided until I could not avoid anymore. By no means am I ready to declare independence from these vices just because I’ve been to therapy, but when I turn to them now, at least I notice the trend and understand the reason.
Sometimes living in a delusion seems easier than dealing with these issues. Then I remember. I remember the joy I didn’t feel. I remember the dinners I avoided. I see a marked difference in my life and friends then and my life and friends now. I consider them all to be angels. I am where I am thanks to the people in my life, especially my therapist. Though there is more to travel, I am channeling the lioness.