I am thankful for God’s grace and His perfect love.
I am thankful that God didn’t give up on me when I grew angry at the mention of His name, for the things that I’ve been through and saying screaming, “How could there be a God when bad things happen?”. I am thankful for His forgiveness of me and the very forgiveness He blessed my heart on the people who’ve wronged me.
I am thankful that He sent Jamion into my life at the very moment I needed him. And then through him, began the work of God. My husband (then boyfriend) didn’t boast about his Christianity or push it on to me; God knew He had to be gentle with this particular daughter. So he chose my husband to be, the gentle man who was also a gentleman.
I am thankful that God has blessed my husband and I with two healthy boys who also happen to be beautiful. (Yes, I call my boys beautiful)
Our family and friends who have gathered around us like God’s hands would to gather His children for a group hug. I can feel the love. The support.
I am thankful for the person I’m becoming because of God’s focus on me and my purpose. He picked up my broken pieces and put me back together. Although, I’m like a cracked vase that reveals its lines and the seeping glue holding it together…I’m still together. Not perfect, but that’s even more beautiful.
I want to wish you and yours a Blessed Thanksgiving, and to be thankful for your blessings (even the small ones).
“Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.”
I thought I’d give the symptom series a rest for a minute and talk about something else.
So if y’all read my story, you know that I only completed 2 years of college. Nope, it wasn’t a two year college; it was a four year University.Oops, my bad.
So it got me thinking, that’s a part of my life that I could have finished, but chose not to because of that one night in the Fall of 2004. I am so glad I chose not to, hear me out; I’m not advocating quitting college. It just wasn’t the right timing for me, that’s all. I was tossing two majors back and forth; Art Education or Graphic Design. Obviously I still have a love for art; I had a blast designing my Project’s logo. But that’s not my true calling. After my journey and figuring out who I am as a person to who I want to become, I now know what I need to further my education in: Counseling.
I may have made some of you laugh out loud, since I’m currently IN counseling sessions. But I believe that’s the beauty of it; I’ve experienced it. The ups and downs, I’m not perfect. I truly believe I could be an amazing counselor, I have the heart. This is the first time I’ve felt so certain (other than the man I married) on anything. It would be a beautiful partnership with my Project, wouldn’t it!? It feels good to believe in myself.
So, you may be wondering what my thoughts are when I say ‘partnership’ with my Project. I’ll definitely need to talk this over with my lawyer to see if this would even work or not.
I waited almost 6 years before I reached out to a Therapist. For two reasons:
1.I wasn’t ready to talk about it.
2.I felt it was too expensive and it made me feel guilty that my husband’s hard earned money would go towards ‘my problems’.
So I have a solution, for other Survivors who may have the same hurdles. The first is at your own pace but hopefully with me coming forward with my story, it’s inspired you to as well. So then it brings us to two. I don’t want Survivors to have to decline help because of money, so I would like to help Survivors with counseling costs!
[At first I wanted to fund Hospitals for rape kits and then found out that an amazing facility in Kearney, Family Advocacy Network and Child Advocacy Center, that serves 13 counties in central Nebraska has them available. So no need for my Project to step in on that one.]
I’m sure there will need to be some sort of application process for your counseling sessions to ensure that the need for the session is a result from Sexual Assault/and or Abuse. I’ll clear that up with my lawyer as well. But that’s where I could come in as a Survivor myself and with a Counseling degree, I could be the Therapist. Am I painting the picture of ‘partnership’ for you?
So I called UNK and found out I’ve completed 59 credit hours in the two years I was in college, not too bad (haha). I think a pretty nice chunk of it was from general classes that will go toward most degrees, hopefully. I’ll be making a call tomorrow to the Registers Office and actually maybe even the Counseling & Psychology Departments to see what my options are; online classes would be a plus! I wouldn’t even argue night classes; I just would have a rough time if I needed to take too many day classes with my profession being a stay at home mommy at the moment. We’ll see what God has in store for me.
Bodydysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental illness that involves obsessive preoccupation about imaginary or real physical defects. A person suffering from this disorder has persistent negative thoughts about her looks, even if she is endowed with great physical features. She often dislikes her appearance and constantly thinks that her face and body is disproportionate and unappealing. The impact of such exaggerated concerns is usually unbearable and can often lead to severe depression, obsessions about unnecessary medical procedures (cosmetic surgeries), anxiety, distress and social isolation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications are considered effective treatments to help deal with multiple issues experienced by BDD patients. [ehow.com]
The exact cause of BDD isn’t certain, but it might be a combination of biological and environmental factors from past or present. Abuse and neglect can also be contributing factors, as in my case.
I’m still battling this disorder, actually went back to therapy for it and changing medications to see if it makes a difference. I’ve tried very hard to not over analyze how I look or if I gained a pound, it’s draining honestly. If I’m having a ‘bad’ day, when I sit down on the couch I’ll reach for a pillow and have it on my lap or hug it, not because it’s comfortable, because it’s disguising what I don’t want others to see. I avoid mirrors because I don’t want to see my reflection, but when I catch a glimpse then you have to pry me away, because I get so caught up in all my imperfections. It’s very irritating, for me and others.
Some days I don’t change out of my pajamas because I feel like I can’t find anything that will fit right or look right. Other days, I change outfits around 4-5 times. It gets so bad at times that I cancel or skip events because I’m too embarrassed about how I look, any excuse to keep me from leaving the house. It’s awful and can be inhibiting, but I’ve reached out for help, you most definitely can’t handle BDD on your own. It may start out as a little monster within yourself, but it grows over time into something monstrous and it doesn’t fit in your shell of a body anymore. It will consume you.
My therapist did an exercise with me last week that I’ll share with you. It was to help me see what she sees, which are not the same. Anyways, she had me lay down on long craft paper while she traced my body. Before I stood up to turn around and look at it, she reminded me to breath. I looked, and was confused. I felt her trace my body, there was no way she could have cheated. But what I was seeing on that paper is not how I see my body, not at all. The stomach area went in, like an hour glass. That couldn’t be my body, could it? I found myself feeling my sides as I looked at the sketch, trying to make sense of it. She looked at me and said, “This is your body. How do you feel?” All I could say was, “Confused.” I imagined the lines of the sketch would have a much bigger mid-section, as I saw myself whenever I would look in the mirror. I’m still a bit taken back by this exercise. She had me take it home, cut it out and hang it up so I can see it every day. This will be a reminder, to what my body ‘really’ looks like. I still don’t see it in the mirror, but I can see it on the paper, and that’s a start.
I’m starting to realize this disorder isn’t just hurting me; it’s hurting my loved ones too. I can see my husband’s expression when he tells me “You’re beautiful” and I reply, “No I’m not”. I’m trying hard to see what he does, I just don’t. But I’m learning that even if I don’t see it, it doesn’t mean that my husband does not. So he truly does think I’m beautiful. I need to be careful of my replies, because I know it can be harmful to listeners. Let me explain this way; If my husband says I’m beautiful and I reply with the usual, “No I’m not” and my boys over hear this. What message is that sending them? If they see me as beautiful like their daddy does, but then I say I’m not, it 1) Confuses them and makes them rethink ‘beauty’ 2) Makes them have self-esteem issues because if mommy doesn’t think she’s pretty (and I think she is), what does she think of me?
So heartbreaking! I need to own my beauty, even if I think it’s broken and cracked. There’s beauty in brokenness, right? I’ll go with that for now.
I heard somewhere (I believe it was Oprah) that if you verbally say something about yourself, you start to believe it. Even more so than when others speak it.
I hold the power of my beauty and confidence within my own voice? Wow, seems so simple. I’ll start saying nice things to myself, in private of course. I don’t want to look like a crazy lady going around chanting; “I am beautiful, I am beautiful, I am beautiful…”. Haha. Or look like the man off of Saturday Night Live that says; “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”. Hmm, maybe I’ll adopt that mantra.
I was speaking to a man online that I had been chatting with and had phone conversations with for a couple of months. He was living in Hawaii and was flying to Reno, NV that evening for a business meeting. He asked if I’d like to meet him there, but I don’t think he meant it or expected my reply. I said, yes. I lined up my airline ticket, packed my bags within 10 minutes and headed out the door to drive to Denver. It was a death sentence going to meet a stranger in another state, at least, I hoped.
Let me rewind. After the rape, you already know how it affected me with flashbacks and the self-harm that developed; but then it spiraled into a deep, dark depression. I felt worthless and that no one cared about me, no one even noticed my pain. I heard Eric’s voice echo in my head, stuck on ‘repeat’ of the words he spoke to me. I began to think about ending it, my life. How though? I cried when I saw a mouse stuck in a trap, how on earth could I kill myself? I’ve already been cutting to stop my flashbacks, I thought if just one time I could cut too deep. I was too scared. What about pills? How long would it take, does it hurt? I ended up crying myself to sleep instead, thank God.
But another horrible, horrible thought came to mind. I knew how awful this world and the people in it could be; maybe someone else would do it. That’s what led me into meeting a stranger in Nevada. In hopes that he would take the pain away for me.
I realize now how incredibly stupid, scary and crazy that was, and I’m actually embarrassed to even admit it. Thankfully, God was looking out for me the whole time, even when I didn’t want Him to.
Looking back, I feel so bad that I put my family through this. At the time, I called my mom to let her know that I was going to Reno, she was hysterical, as I know I would be as a parent. I wanted her to know that I loved her, just in case things fell true of what I perceived would happen. She had no idea the hopes I had from this trip, she just knew that I was meeting with a stranger that I was speaking to online (which was alarming enough).I picked a flight through Denver instead of Omaha, because Denver is where my brother lived and I wanted to see him one last time too. He had no idea what I was doing, I can’t even remember the lie I made up about meeting some old friend of mine so he wouldn’t worry or stop me from getting on the plane.
This was not me, I’ve never acted like this before. Something got rewired horribly wrong, and I didn’t know how to fix it. I honestly can’t recall the rest of my semester at UNK. The Reno experience was the last thing I remember, then I was moving back home at the end of April. I remember I moved home early, and traveled back for my finals. I don’t know if I was so depressed that I suppressed that time of my life. Maybe God knew my pain and my horrible thoughts, so for the time being, he clipped that memory of life? I don’t know. I wonder when, if ever, the memories will come flooding back?
My purpose in sharing this section of my life, is to open a door for anyone else feeling this same kind of pain to get help. For whatever reason, you feel life isn’t worth it or you’re not worth life—DON’T listen to your demons!! You ARE worth every breath, that’s why God created You, YOU have a purpose! You matter. ♥
Side note: For those of you who say suicide is ‘selfish’, take another look. From my experience and my past mindset, I felt commiting suicide would be doing my family a favor, because I felt I was a burden. The last thing I would want to do is hurt my loved ones, but I was hurting so bad, that I didn’t have a clear mindset and could only see through tunnel vision- which pointed to one answer.
I want to clear something up for some of you that may be thinking it, and the few who have spoken it: “Why are you coming out about this now, after so many years? And why haven’t you turned him in!?”
Obviously, someone who asks such a stabbing question has not endured the pain of rape or the manipulation of someone who can keep you silent long after he’s gone. I did not go into detail about the actual rape, because I have loved ones who read my blog. But in short; it was more brutal than I care to explain, physically and mentally. I was terrified. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was alone. Period.
I honestly didn’t know what to do. My first reaction was to clean myself, but no matter how many showers I took, it didn’t get rid of the filth I felt. I washed my sheets and my entire room, I didn’t want a fingerprint of his in there, I felt like it would still be a way for him to violate me. I didn’t want a single trace of him. It was my way of getting it out of my head, nothing to ‘see’, so nothing to remember. I even threw away my outfit from that night. I shoved my underwear in an empty cereal box, to make sure none of my roommates would see it.
I didn’t think this sort of thing really happened, not in real life, not in Nebraska. Not to me. I blamed myself; I let him into my house and into my room. We were dating; I didn’t think anyone would believe me. And I was right, to an extent. I did try to reach out, to a mutual friend of Eric’s and mine. He was my friend before Eric and I even started to date, so I thought he’d understand and help me. I was wrong. Eric already spoke with him, and told him ‘his story’. I somehow became the bad guy. Apparently Eric dumped me and I was revengeful crying ‘rape’, at least, that’s what Eric said. Unfortunately, he believed him. It hurts to even bring this back up, I was betrayed. It was like I was violated over and over, the nightmare wouldn’t end!
I’m not sure how many people Eric lied to, but I didn’t want to find out. If my friend didn’t believe me, then why would anyone believe me? It put me in a very dark place. I went into a deep depression that I’ll talk more about in my symptom series.
So with no evidence because I cleaned it up or threw it away, and not even my friend believing me, I felt I had no choice but to be silent. How could I possibly explain everything to the police? Would they really believe me? I wasn’t strong enough to put myself through that terror.
Still today, I have a hard time when people say I can still press charges. The statutes of limitations are not up in Nebraska. But, and it’s a big BUT, there’s no evidence. Also, it’s harder to convict someone you were dating of rape. It’s the hard truth. He wasn’t a hooded stranger jumping from the bushes; I was dating him and let him into my house. He tricked me and manipulated me. His claims of breaking up with me and then me trying to get back at him for saying he raped me would probably hold up in court, because he told it so good to have our friend believe him. I had no one to speak on my behalf, because he made sure of it. He secluded me from my friends. I know why now.
I was in denial myself. Even covering up what he did to me, by cleaning everything, to pretend it didn’t happen. I covered the bruises until they disappeared, didn’t want to get in a conversation about those, they would be hard explain. Looking back, he was a master manipulator. He didn’t have to worry, because he knew he had so much fear in me that I would take care of the evidence myself, without even knowing what I was doing.
I am speaking out and telling ‘my story’ now because I’m finally strong enough to do so, I’m bringing justice to my young college self, just by giving her a voice! My purpose is to help other Survivors out there, give them a voice and to spread awareness. I’m not focused on him, I’m focused on me.
Of course, I think about the ‘what if’s’, but I can’t dwell on them. It happened and I reacted. Can’t change either of those, and I’m ok with it. I’m a strong woman as a result, I’m proud of who I’m becoming.
I’m not asking the people who asked these questions to agree, I just wanted to clear my throat with a raised eyebrow and ask them, “What would you have done in this situation?” Because hypothetically, we’d all hope that we’d do what we believe is the right thing, but honestly, you don’t know until you actually experience it.
Bottom line; Don’t be judgmental of a situation you’ve never experienced.
I was working on an assignment at the UNK’s computer lab after Thanksgiving break. It was normal for me to go in during the evenings to work, since their computers had the programs I needed for my assignments.
It was dark out, so I figured it was time to quit and go home. As I was shutting off the computer, I felt someone tug on my hair. I instantly became frantic, and saw Eric. I was screaming and all I could think was, “not again”. I felt a pain on my hand; I looked down and saw that I squeezed my pen so hard it cut into my palm. I then looked up to see one of my classmates; she asked if I was ok because I was screaming. She apologized for tugging on my hair; she didn’t think she pulled that hard.
[Some of my friends found it hard to resist tugging my curly hair as a ‘hello’. I was usually ok with it, but after October 1, 2004; I most definitely was not. Eric pulled my hair when I tried to get away from him, it’s not funny to me anymore.]
That wasn’t the first time I had a flashback, but it was the first time I snapped out of it so fast. I knew why, the cut in my hand. I knew it was unhealthy, but I also knew how realistic and terrifying my flashbacks were…I kept sharp objects in my purse to snap me out of it when I felt a flashback surfacing.
Self-harm (from my experience) is a self coping behavior to deal with something painful, but not resolved. I didn’t know how or who to talk to about my feelings and what I’ve been through so cutting and hitting myself became an addiction for me. It was the only way I knew how to stop my flashbacks and to also have a feeling again, any feeling. I’ve been numb since I was raped. No emotion, blank. Hitting was what I did most, on my upper thighs. I would have bruises continuously. If I hit hard enough, it threw me out of the terror my mind was in and back to reality.
Self-harm is not attention seeking, most people who self-harm don’t want anyone to find out. It’s a reliever, calmer and most importantly, control. It gave me power over myself again, well, so I thought. It led to different kinds of self-harm. I started fixating on my body image. I remembered how Eric told me how fat, ugly and worthless I was. I couldn’t even look in mirrors. I ate food to comfort me then I felt disgusting because of what I would eat. I tried to stick my finger down my throat, but I couldn’t do it. So I would starve myself till I felt I lost the weight that I gained. This cycle would repeat, damaging my health and my self image. I definitely did not have control of myself anymore.
This continued till I started dating my now husband in August of 2005. I told him my story right away, either because I couldn’t hold it in any longer or I wanted him to know what he was getting into before he made the effort to be with me. Well, he stayed. God handpicked us as soul mates because of the long conversations we had and the unwavering support Jamion gave are what healed me of my self-injury addiction. Once I released my secret of being raped to Jamion and had an open dialogue; I didn’t feel judged, I was supported. It unlocked the chains. Most people who self-injure go through years of battling their addiction. God was on my side, even when I wasn’t aware just yet, because I quit when I met my husband.
There are many types of self-harm; cutting, burning, scratching, pulling hair, hitting- the list goes on. I just told you my very brief story to give you a little insight. If you know of anyone self-harming; don’t judge, instead, try to help.