Category Archives: Survivors

I Am Only Me; Feeling Triggered by You


I’ve struggled for the past week and change over whether to post this. I started writing it the day after elections, because I felt as if, like the girl in the image, that my mouth had been sewn shut. (I REALLY needed my therapy session last week.) I rarely engaged in any political discussions throughout the election process, and refused to “unfriend” or stop talking to anyone who supported a different candidate. But felt that if I spoke my mind the way others did, those others wouldn’t be so understanding of my opinions, which differed from their own. But this is MY blog, MY platform. If I don’t feel free to express myself HERE, then I might as well shut down the site, because I will have allowed others to silence me. And that, I cannot allow. I must be true to ME.

I did a lot of research and soul-searching and praying over the final candidates. I believed (and still do) that neither of them were/are the best our country has to offer for its highest office. But I weighed my beliefs and convictions against their platforms, connections and histories, and made my decision. And I stand by it, though it may cause conflict. Even now, as I type this, my heart pounds, my hands shake and anxiety fills me, as I agonize over the effects this post will have. About half of my “friends” and connections are liberal; I’m conservative. Not ultra-conservative (after all, I believe that prostitution should be legalized and voted for medical marijuana in my state…pretty sure that puts me more toward center field), but moderately so. I’m tolerant of views not my own, even if I don’t agree or understand them, and try to be open-minded. I hope you’ve gotten to know me well enough to lend me the same courtesy.

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I am only me:

Jewish

Christian

white

female

woman

a survivor of child sex abuse

a writer

a poet

an editor

a traveler

conservative

lower middle-class

highly educated (multiple college degrees)

living with anxiety

and depression

and ocd.

 

I am only me:

a descendant of legal immigrants and indentured servants

a natural-born American citizen

prejudiced against illegals (why not come here LEGALLY? would YOU be happy if I snuck into YOUR country like a thief in the night and then tried to claim the same rights that YOU – a LEGAL citizen – enjoy?)

prejudiced against immigrants who refuse to assimilate and learn English – the official language of the U.S.A. (yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

a mother

a single mother

of a son with ADHD, and ASD, and ODD

an American who believes in:

a strong and well-funded military

freedom of speech

freedom of the press

right to bear arms

innocent until proven guilty

protecting our borders against illegal immigration

a person who tries to make the best of things

a person who votes her conscience

rather than what the mainstream media tell her to vote

heterosexual, after choosing not to be homosexual or bisexual

open-minded

a loyal friend

tolerant, accepting of views not my own and people who do not look/dress/live like me

 

I am not:

mixed race

an illegal

Muslim

LGBTQ

black

liberal

poverty-stricken

a descendant of slaves.

I am not:

an advocate of abortion

a woman who has had an abortion (though one of my doctors advised that I should)

a skilled foreign worker (isn’t that what the EU is all about? why can’t we have the same restrictions here?)

hateful or a hater

racist

intolerant (unless you refuse to assimilate and learn English if you’re an immigrant to America – yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

a degrader or a deplorable

a violent protestor

a fair-weather friend

xenophobic

homophobic

judgmental (unless you refuse to assimilate and learn English if you’re an immigrant to America – yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

oppressive

offended by opinions, beliefs different from my own

 

I am only me:

am I of no value

because my opinions and beliefs

are different from yours?

I am only me:

afraid of speaking my truths

for fear of retribution

or losing networks and connections

 

I am only me

triggered

and oppressed

by your vitriol.

 

Where is my platform to speak my truths?
Where is the audience to hear my voice?

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Filed under Anxiety, Depression, Emotion, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Poetry, Politics, Real Life, sexual assault, Survivors

Guest Post: It’s Time for me to Rejoin the Parade by C. Streetlights


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

There is a lot of myself that I keep locked away that I usually say is part of my Old Life. It’s not because these things are embarrassing or bad, but my Old Life is filled with all the parts of me that came before I was sexually assaulted and that life was destroyed. It’s the life that was taken away from me and I was forced to redefine.

Sometimes I happen across evidence from my Old Life that I forgot existed. I realize that perhaps I didn’t box up everything as carefully as I thought I did. Like forgotten Christmas ornaments that roll behind the couch, I will find proof of the person I once was – covered in dust and no longer shining.

My 5-year-old daughter asked me this week if we could go to Disneyland and I told her that we could. In fact, I had already started saving up for our trip during Spring Break. I loved watching her excitement at hearing the news and I suddenly felt the stirrings of an old familiar joy that I had buried when it came to Disneyland.

In my Old Life, I made sure our family had annual passes even though we didn’t live in Southern California because we went there at least three times a year. I had an enormous laminated and illustrated map of the theme park for my classroom and my honors English students read Walt Disney’s official biography.

Anyone who knew me in my Old Life (because I cut off ties with most people from my Old Life) would tell you that I loved Disneyland and Walt Disney. That to me, it wasn’t about what Disney, Inc. does currently, it was all about the park and Walt Disney the man. I could walk down Main Street in my Old Life and tell people the story of the names painted on the storefront windows, help people find hidden Mickeys, and why the train is named what it is. My son could find his way around Disneyland from the time he was about 6-years-old, and I cried during the parades.

But really, it was what the park represented to me and who Walt Disney was. I loved and admired the man’s spirit and drive. It didn’t matter how many times Disney faced financial ruin or economic despair, he kept moving forward and I respected that. According to him, the only time he ever contemplated giving up was when Oswald the Rabbit was stolen from him and he had to head home on the train and face uncertainty. Fate intervened in the form of a little mouse scurrying around on the floor and as Walt Disney would say, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started with a mouse.”

paradeWhen I used Walt Disney as an example with my students, I stressed how success didn’t come easy to him. He was a failure in school and bankers refused to fund him for business loans. But he had heart and resiliency. And he worked hard to achieve his own success.

I believed in resiliency and heart in my Old Life until sexual assault taught me that the hard workers don’t deserve success or their dreams coming true. I shoved it all in the attic along with everything else I identified with in my Old Life and began to build a New Life, one that definitely didn’t involve any risk taking that could yield neither success nor failure. My New Life would be beige.

And yet, after telling my daughter that on a whim I began to save money for a Disneyland trip, I’ve been thinking more about how much I once loved it. And I remembered a story Walt Disney would tell his employees that I would also tell my students:

“Remember the boy who wanted to march in the circus parade?  When the show came to town, the bandmaster needed a trombonist, so the boy signed up.  He hadn’t marched a block before the fearful noises from his horn caused two old ladies to faint and a horse to run away.  The bandmaster demanded, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t play the trombone?’ and the boy said, ‘How did I know? I never tired before!’

“… if I’m no longer young in age, I hope I stay young enough in spirit never to fear failure — young enough still to take a chance and march in the parade.”

I’ve started to reread some of my Walt Disney books again, hoping to revitalize this part of my Old Life again. I want to feel this kind of hope and invincibility again. I want to feel the excitement for life I once felt. All of that was taken from me, not just from the person who assaulted me from all the people around me who should have believed me and didn’t.

While some of my Old Life is gone, never to be a part of my life again, there are other parts that need to come home to me. It’s time for me to join the parade.

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cstreetlightsAfter writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took 20 years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her memoir, Tea and Madness, won honorable mention for memoir in the Los Angeles Book Fair (2016) and is available for purchase on Amazon.

C. Streetlights is represented by Lisa Hagan Books and published by Shadow Teams NYC. For all press interviews and other inquiries, please contact Ms. Hagan directly.

You can connect with C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

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Filed under Disney, Family, Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, sexual assault, Survivors, Writing

When Your First Kiss Causes a Full-Blown Panic Attack


By Ryan Moreno

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ryan Moreno

Do first kisses usually cause panic attacks?

I don’t mean a heart-racing-weak-in-the-knees anticipation kind of feeling, either. I mean a full-blown, honest-to-God panic attack.

Thought I didn’t realize it at the time, mine did. The muscle memory is still with me. My heart is hammering my chest just from the memory. I remember the physical sensations, the thoughts that ran through my head and the emotional upheaval as clearly as if it’d happened only yesterday:

Sweat beaded my lip and brow, and ran its cool fingers down my spine. I was so flushed, my body was burning up. I hyperventilated and my heart beat so hard I thought it would jump out of my chest (due to a heart condition, when I’m having a panic attack, I can look down and literally SEE my heart pounding). It felt like I was on a roller coast (I LOVE roller coasters, but I didn’t love this one – it felt more like drowning), and the contents of my stomach were threatening imminent reappearance. This was my first kiss panic attack. I was 15.

It took him hours to wear me down. Maybe days. That part is kind of hazy. He was also 15, but either much more experienced or simply more confident than I. He was persistent and wore me down. That I was quite attracted to him might’ve helped to tip the scales in his favor. Even while we were kissing – French, of course 😉 – my heart ran a marathon. That fight or flight syndrome. I didn’t know what to do, how to handle the sensations running through me. I let him take the lead and he devoured me.

Kissing came easier after that. Until a few weeks later when I became uncomfortable with him slidding his hand up my skirt and attempting to fondle my breasts. He called me a prude. I’d never been called that before and had to find a dictionary. When I told my mother he’d called me a prude, she said I should be proud of that. At 15, I was just as uncomfortable with the idea of being a prude as I was with his hands on the covered parts of my body.

I don’t know if he really was looking to “score” or just wanted to fool around a little. After establishing my “prudishness,” he quickly lost interest. And I became a subtle stalker. I didn’t have the confidence to confront him, so I prank-called his house multiple times, wrote a lot of bad poetry, broke a few of my figurines, and cried. It wasn’t the first time – nor would it be the last – I cried over a male who didn’t deserve my tears.

I hated to say no to him…when I was younger I had that “want to please everyone” personality. I hated confrontation. It made me sick to my stomach. But at the same time, I was willful and stubborn. Great tug-o-war combo. I still sometimes struggle with wanting to make everyone else happy. But I’m less afraid of confrontation.

Something inside wouldn’t let me say yes to him…So I was a prude. Until I was 19. A guy I’d known for several years (my brother’s best friend, in fact), who was a couple years younger than me, said the right words, at the right time, and wooed me in just the right way…I let him in where another male hadn’t been since my CSA 15 years before (I talk about that HERE.) Eventually, this younger guy became abusive and the end of our relationship was a disaster and emotionally traumatic for me…but that’s another story for another time…

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Filed under Anxiety, Blogging, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Survivors, Writing