Google PlusFacebookTwitter

Showing Scars #2: My Everyday is Never “Normal”

By in A Survivor's Life, Rape/Sexual Abuse, Single Mom, Trauma

Scar #2: My everyday is never “normal.” It’s recovering from or responding to the latest crisis or setback. Take this last week: I go to physical therapy (for vertigo/balance issues), pleased to be feeling better. I walk on the treadmill, look to the left, and throw up. Twice. Not feeling better. For five days insomnia steals nearly all my energy and patience. Another family member’s insomnia compounds the misery. The one night I sleep normally, my most-hated nightmare drags me back into my personal hell. It takes two days and therapy to shake the constant feeling of being raped. Therapy with EMDR helps me distance from the nightmare’s effects, but memories from another rape surface and trigger a panic attack. Once I realize I can breathe, exhaustion descends: time to count the hours until bed. I can’t sleep, wondering which nightmares will appear...

Showing Scars #1: I’m Afraid of the Dark

By in A Survivor's Life, Bravery

Everyone is messed up; some people’s scars are just easier to hide. In the interest of living naked, I decided to show some of mine. When I compare notes with other survivors, knowing I’m not the only one facing this or that helps me keep going. Let’s start (relatively) small. Scar #1: I’m terrified to sleep in the dark. It began after the amnesia, when memories would return through nightmares. I discovered sleeping with the lights on helped keep the bad dreams away. Sometimes.* What is something you don’t talk about but need not be ashamed of? *I may or may not also have a stuffed elephant (from my dad) who often ends up as my...

Why China Taught Me to be Brave

By in Beauty, Relationships, Suffering

Overseas travelers may agree with me that few things equal misery like having food poisoning on a fourteen-hour flight halfway around the world. But they may also agree that few things equal euphoria like immersing yourself in another culture and having once-in-a-lifetime adventures. For me, southern China equaled minimal sleep, infrequent food (that would stay down), and more love than I could possibly absorb. Teaching English was both standing in front of a fire hose and hovering at the top of a mountain all alone. Overwhelming. Achingly beautiful. Mind-boggling tragic. So hard I still feel nausea at certain memories but would take the first chance to go back. If you think I’m being dramatic, you’ve never been to East Asia. Memories. 记忆–or Jiyi–in Chinese: Late-night dance parties. Getting sick on the food–over and over. Running like a little kid all...

3 Realities of Singleness Ignored on Valentine’s Day

By in God, Relationships, Single Mom

Confession time. I gave in to curiosity (some would call it temptation): I allowed myself to sample the prevalent Valentine’s Day Facebook posts. After catching myself mentally rewriting this piece for the fourth time, I realized there are 3 realities of singleness usually unmentioned on Valentine’s Day. Allow me to drag them into the open and ruin the post-V-day warm-fuzzies. Why? 1. I’m single. At least, I’m not engaged or married; I spent most of the day with my son. Many Valentine’s posts are wives writing that even though they’re now married, they remember what it’s like to be single. Fair enough. And encouragement from any friend is often welcome. But let’s be honest. When I’m single I want to spend Valentine’s Day with other singles, not hearing from wives. Married women. Of all times to write to singles about their...

Why I Wanted Suicide But Didn’t Kill Myself

By in A Survivor's Life, Bravery, Depression, Suffering

A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured. – Andrew Coyne Much has been said about assisted suicide in the last few months. I don’t write from the perspective of one currently facing unwanted, imminent death, but as one who has suffered in other ways and battled seasons when I wanted to choose death. My multiple stints in psych wards weren’t gained apart from some level of belief that: My pain was senseless and unbearable I shouldn’t have to endure it I wouldn’t endure it any longer It’s not difficult for me to grasp Brittany Maynard’s perspective on death with dignity. A part of myself could agree–if all that mattered were rights. And if it were really possible to separate suicide into categories of acceptable and unacceptable based on circumstances. But ultimately death with dignity’s mindset...

Why I’m Against Calling Anyone “Broken”

By in A Survivor's Life, Abuse, God, Suffering

I’m on a mission: to battle against the use of the confusing, misused, harmful Christianese term broken. Part of the danger with the word broken is that everyone who uses it may mean something slightly different. Broken is not like the word apple. It’s an ambiguous, spiritual-sounding term; it willingly molds itself however context requires and covers a multitude of mental and emotional weaknesses–and errors. I know what most writers probably mean. You mean that even though you aren’t perfect and have issues, God will use you. But that’s not what you say. Instead we (it may even be on an old piece on this site…though once I find where I’ll quickly nix it) dramatize things with the word broken and, maybe without realizing it, cause harm and judgment that some never break free from (perhaps too cliche as well? Help!).  The damage comes when...

Want a Glimpse Inside the Head of a Survivor?

By in A Survivor's Life, Depression, Suffering

Stumbling through the day. Depression’s darkness bleeding into daylight. Try harder. A monster project for work. The weariness seeps to the bone. Push through. A genuine smile is miles away. But it’s time for church. Fake it till you make it. [Insert your choice of expletive communicating disdain and scorn.] Sometimes you have to dig in and fight forward, teeth gritted. But not always. There’s a place for retreat, for saying “I just can’t,” for letting the darkness show on the outside. At heart, I have always been a coper, I’ve mostly been able to walk around with my wounds safely hidden, and I’ve always stored up my deep depressive episodes for the weeks off when there was time to have an abbreviated version of a complete breakdown.  ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation It’s not a cop out. It’s living in reality. It’s...

When I Learned Motherhood Hurts

By in Beauty, God, Relationships, Single Mom

I scribbled the below in my mom’s Mother’s Day card at 4:30 am when my son decided to start the day early in celebration. It’s still strange to be sharing Mother’s Day with you, and for the fourth year. As my son is no longer a baby, I get it–at least a little. I see that what hurts me  hurts you, and the pain is not just a generic sympathy any decent person might feel for another human’s suffering. It’s different. Blinding, agonizing, different. I’m realizing what it’s like when that part of yourself that you carried, birthed, and who you love to distraction pushes against you. I’m learning the grief and pain that comes when that precious person who is a part of you is angry at you and rejects what you know they need. And to then have to watch them hurt, slog along. But I see it only on a small scale. You’ve seen it all; how do you do it? You...

Receive Email Updates

New resources and options for survivors, the latest writing, and news on upcoming projects. No more than one update per month (no desire to overwhelm you!).

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest