Category Archives: Random Thoughts from the Edge

At Odds with Iyanla Vanzant

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about little-me and present-day-me.  For all I know, there are more me’s than that, but I really don’t think so.  I don’t have any of the symptoms of someone who has alters that take control, cause the person to have no memory of current day events, that sort of thing.

However, the chasm exists.  And part of me has a huge deal of frustration with little me, and just wishes I could walk the fuck right away from her.  I don’t want to deal with her shit, and I want a life that is free of the whole incest gift basket that I was the lucky winner of.

Part of me wants to kill her.  Just be done with the whole damned thing.

One book I have that I have read over and over is “Yesterday I Cried” by Iyanla Vanzant.  It’s really a great story of her own triumph over some horrid freaking things, including rape by her uncle.  Like me,  she didn’t  just have sexual abuse, she got the Trifecta of Abuse, or Quadfecta, as K called it in regards to my situation.

Anyhow, the one aspect of her story is that she “stopped” being Rhonda, and became Iyanla.  It’s been awhile since I last read the book, so I can’t recall the specifics off hand.  I do know that she went through what sounded like a beautiful ceremony with her friends.  Though I think that the ceremony was tied in to her becoming a…minister, for lack of better word, I think it also had to do with the re-naming.

When I very first read the book, I thought that all Iyanla described on her journey was incredibly powerful.  I still do.  I also think that the choices she made were perfectly right for her, and the spiritual progress she has made is undeniable.  I am truly happy that she has found comfort and peace.  She certainly deserves it.

But the next time I read the book, and the time after that, and all the times to follow, I tried imagining myself taking a similar path.  I’ve thought a great deal about re-naming.  I’ve thought about symbolic re-birthing. (not that that is any other kind I am aware of 😉 ).  I’ve thought of so many different things, and when I cut to the core of them, it boils down to me wanting to be rid of little me.

To me wanting free of the living a life in the scratch and dent corner.  To no longer live on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Right or wrong, I am guilty of having looked disdainfully at little me.  I’ve wanted to obliterate the notion of her.  To wipe out the reality of being defenseless, unprotected, powerless, and backed into a figurative corner, with no one to rely on for my life other than 9 year old me.

I certainly have drank enough alcohol and done enough drugs to kill her, myself, and a small village.

But in the end, I have come to believe that she represents some of the best parts of me.  So what if she broke off from the rest of me?  Walk a mile in her shoes, and most adults would freak.  And is it a surprise that she doens’t trust people?  Or that she doesnt know how to value herself, or a host of other things?

So the fuck what.  She got through it.  She’s a tough little thing, I’ll give her that much.  She’s resourceful too.

And while I still have…and may always…have difficulties in “feeling” that she and I are one in the same, I intellectually know it.

I also know how brutually unfair that would be of me to just ditch her.

Undoubtedly, whichever part of me that is clinging to old ways of getting by is going to have to get with the program.  We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, and the things that saved us then are killing us now.

She fought so hard and coped with so much…there is no way I can just say

“see ya”

and not only abandon her, but try to kill her off for good.  Not when I have more clarity than I ever have had.  To do so would be willfull and premeditated.  It would be murder of the soul.

I can’t do that.

I won’t do that.

On top of it being vastly unfair, I believe it is not in my best interest to do so.  She holds the key to everything.

Sure, she knows all the terror and despair of what happened.  She knows it on a level that the me of today does not.

I know that it happened.  She had it happen to her.

But in addition to remembering how it felt and was to live in hell, she is the child from before the descent into the unimaginable.

She knows how to do the things that I want to re-learn.  The things that I have had the pleasure of holding in my palm for awhile from watching my sons and being their mother.

Things like joy and barefeet in grass and the smell of springtime and clean light and innocence.

I want to give those things back to her.  For I will gain them myself in return.

So while I’ve no doubt that Iyanla made the right choice for her in regards to Rhonda, I don’t think it is the right choice for me.  At least not at this stage of my journey.

Though the pull toward a cleansing of the spirit…a re-naming…a re-birth…a re-awaking…the pull toward those things is strong…

but if I do them, it will be little me and me doing them together.

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I Don’t Like the Word Survivor

I fuckin’ hate when people say “I am an incest survivor”.   Or “I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse”.  The word is like nails to the chalkboard of my mind.

Survivor is so….it’s like getting a C on your report card.  It implies the bare minimum, or at least to my ears it does.

Granted, I get that sometimes surviving is the best you can hope for.  Yes Siree, I sure  ’nuff can put my mental paws on that critter.

But when the word is used, it most generally always is used to refer to something that has occurred in the past.    And a phrase like…

I am in incest survivor…

if you really listen to it, the balance of power in that sentence belongs to the word incest.  The word survivor seems pretty neutral in comparison to the ‘taboo’ word.

And that, boys and girls, is why I don’t like it.  I’d rather people say that they are a victim of, rather than they survived.

Survival is like….I dunno…you are here, you exist…but nothing else…like a world of vapid blandness and some mushy food like oatmeal, except that I like oatmeal.  So let’s say grits.

It’s bland and it’s grits and it’s that white paste used in elementary schools and it is the smell of wet newspapers.

It is a word that

trivializes

what happened.

I think the word “triumph” is much more apt.

Because if you lived through incest or another form of childhood sexual abuse, and you are around to tell the tale today, then you, my friend, have triumphed.  I don’t care how fucked up in the head you may be, I don’t care if you’ve got 23 Sybil personalities, I don’t care if you have such a skewed view of your own self that a cockroach has more value in your eyes, I don’t care if you are unable to trust, love…anything…

it doesn’t matter.

The simple facts are that something in you so very strongly wanted to overcome your reality.  Something in you wanted desperately to live.  If not, you’d have found a way out.  Suicide is an equal opportunity employer, after all.

But you didn’t.  Whatever coping mechanism you developed, you played the cards you were dealt.

So fuck a whole semi load full of being a “survivor”.

The fact that you are here today means you triumphed.

Disclaimer:  If you have grown up and become a molester, then none of the above applies to you.  You did not triumph or survive.  You became the monster that consumed you.  I’d like to be able to have pity for you, but I can’t, so fuck you.  There are always choices, and you made the wrong one.

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Minimizing or Protecting?

I, like a lot of other people in the world, have felt sorrow at the recent passing of Michael Jackson.  His music and dancing was a positive thing that I remember from my youth, and God knows, there are not many of them.  I’ve read reams of words and watched tons of videos.  One line out of all those read words struck me to the core, and to recall it gives me mental shivers.

I can’t remember where I read this, and this is not an exact quote.  But the gist of it was this…

“In remembering Michael Jackson, we must understand that sometimes…a child’s soul…too ill used…never finds it’s way back home”.

And in combination with that, I was spelling checking another entry, and typed the word molestation into the search bar, and subsequently went to visit the wikipedia entry about it.  Granted, wiki’s aren’t absolute, and are prone to error due to the open nature of it.  However, some of the stuff was just like…mind reeling…is the only term that I can quickly think of.

Some examples…

Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.

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Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life.[9][22] Psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects include depression,[5][23][24]post-traumatic stress disorder,[6][25] anxiety,[7] eating disorders, poor self-esteem, dissociative and anxiety disorders; general psychological distress and disorders such as somatization, neurosis, chronic pain,[24] sexualized behavior,[26] school/learning problems; and behavior problems including substance abuse,[27][28] destructive behavior, criminality in adulthood and suicide.[11][29][30][31][32][33]

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Long term negative effects on development leading to re-victimization in adulthood are also associated with child sexual abuse.[8][27] Studies have established a causal relationship between childhood sexual abuse and certain specific areas of adult psychopathology, including suicidality, antisocial behavior, PTSD, anxiety and alcoholism

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Sexually abused children suffer from more psychological symptoms than children who have not been abused; studies have found symptoms in 51% to 79% of sexually abused children.[31][39][40][41][42][43] The level of harm may also be affected by various factors such as penetration, duration and frequency of abuse, and use of force.[9][22][44][45] The social stigma of child sexual abuse may compound the psychological harm to children,[46][47] and adverse outcomes are less likely for abused children who have supportive family environments.[48][49] The risk of harm is greater if the abuser is a relative, if the abuse involves intercourse or attempted intercourse, or if threats or force are used.

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This one made me especially chuckle…

Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories.[52] The level of dissociation has been found to be related to reported overwhelming sexual and physical abuse.[53] When severe sexual abuse (penetration, several perpetrators, lasting more than one year) had occurred, dissociative symptoms were even more prominent.[53]

Child sexual abuse independently predicts the number of symptoms for PTSD a person displays, after controlling for possible confounding variables, according to Widom (1999), who wrote “sexual abuse, perhaps more than other forms of childhood trauma, leads to dissociative problems … these PTSD findings represent only part of the picture of the long-term psychiatric sequelae associated with early childhood victimization … antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and other forms of psychopathology.”[6] Children may develop symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder resulting from child sexual abuse, even without actual or threatened injury or violence.[54]

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Because child sexual abuse often occurs alongside other possibly confounding variables, such as poor family environment and physical abuse,[55] some scholars argue it is important to control for those variables in studies which measure the effects of sexual abuse.[22][35][56][57] In a 1998 review of related literature, Martin and Fleming, state “The hypothesis advanced in this paper is that, in most cases, the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child’s developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality, and that many of the mental health problems of adult life associated with histories of child sexual abuse are second-order effects.”[58] Other studies have found an independent association of child sexual abuse with adverse psychological outcomes.[7][22][59]

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Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.[72][73] Various studies have suggested that severe child sexual abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development. Ito et al. (1998) found “reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence in abused subjects;”[74] Teicher et al. (1993) found that an increased likelihood of “ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms” in abused subjects;[75] Anderson et al. (2002) recorded abnormal transverse relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis of adults sexually abused in childhood;[76] Teicher et al. (1993) found that child sexual abuse was associated with a reduced corpus callosum area; various studies have found an association of reduced volume of the left hippocampus with child sexual abuse;[77] and Ito et al. (1993) found increased electrophysiological abnormalities in sexually abused children.[78]

Some studies indicate that sexual or physical abuse in children can lead to the overexcitation of an undeveloped limbic system.[77] Teicher et al. (1993)[75] used the “Limbic System Checklist-33” to measure ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms in 253 adults. Reports of child sexual abuse were associated with a 49% increase to LSCL-33 scores, 11% higher than the associated increase of self-reported physical abuse. Reports of both physical and sexual abuse were associated with a 113% increase. Male and female victims were similarly affected.[75][79]

Navalta et al. (2006) found that the self-reported math Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of their sample of women with a history of repeated child sexual abuse were significantly lower than the self-reported math SAT scores of their non-abused sample. Because the abused subjects verbal SAT scores were high, they hypothesized that the low math SAT scores could “stem from a defect in hemispheric integration.” They also found a strong association between short term memory impairments for all categories tested (verbal, visual, and global) and the duration of the abuse.[80]

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Children who received supportive responses following disclosure had less traumatic symptoms and were abused for a shorter period of time than children who did not receive support.[92][93] In general, studies have found that children need support and stress-reducing resources after disclosure of sexual abuse.[94][95] Negative social reactions to disclosure have actually been found to be harmful to the survivor’s well being.[96] One study reported that children who received a bad reaction from the first person they told, especially if the person was a close family member, had worse scores as adults on general trauma symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and dissociation.[97] Another study found that in most cases when children did disclose abuse, the person they talked to did not respond effectively, blamed or rejected the child, and took little or no action to stop the abuse.[95]

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Have you read all that?

Good.

Now read it again.

When I read it, I instantly get an attitude of ‘why the fuck even bother’.  Why go to the time and the expense and the sheer pain-in-the-assness of it all, if stuff like this is true:

Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.”

I have read this in other places besides wikipedia, so it’s not like I doubt the validity of it.  And if we accept that such is true, then WHY THE FUCK BOTHER WITH TRYING TO GET FREE OF ANY OF THIS?

It’s not like going thousands of dollars in debt and spending countless hours struggling with it would make any difference.  We can’t un-do changes to brain development.

So, while I think that, without a doubt, I do minimize it, and say ‘other people had it worse’ as part of my dissociation, I also think it is because to think otherwise is just too fucking dauting.

In other words, if I think it was as bad as it was, that means that I have to acknowledge all those nasty after-effects.

And if I have to acknowledge them as true, then the task at hand is simply too not doable, the up-hill-battle just too steep to climb.

What would be the point in fighting demons that you KNOW full well going in are going to win?

So when I say ‘other people had it worse’…

am I miminizing, or am I protecting the part of me who wants to triump?

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