Trigger warnings/ my darkest shadows, and my path to healing

                                       Photo of me taken by a friend of mine.

The words of the song Quiet by MILCK have been playing in my head as I post this: “But no one knows me no one ever will /if I don’t say something, if I just lie still /Would I be that monster, scare them all away /If I let the-em hear what I have to say /I can’t keep quiet, /I can’t keep quiet,  /A one woman riot,  /I can’t keep quiet /For anyone /Anymore”

Three years ago I started this blog after a relationship had ended with a big love of mine. Did you know that you can cry so much that you get dehydrated and need an IV? Having my heart broken actually caused me to be sick, and I started this blog as a way to empower myself while it was snowing outside and I was sick in bed. Almost three months ago after another relationship ended I found out that heart break activates the same part of your brain as stubbing your toe. Losing a loved one and having your heart break can cause physical pain. Two months ago I decided to put a coast between me and my heart aches to finally start to heal. My last break up opened my heart to every hurt and trauma I’ve ever experienced, and I decided that this is it, it’s my time to take back my power. I’ve thought of starting a new blog, but for now I just need to get this out there.

Friends, family, whoever is listening- I need to stop holding this inside and let go, as it’s been eating away at me and preventing me from fully healing. I’ve been told that writing will help open my throat chakra, and trust me, it’s been closed tightly for a long time now. They say that souls choose what they are going to experience before they are placed inside a body. There’s a part of me that hasn’t wanted to believe this because I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anyone and hoped my soul wouldn’t have chosen this, but I’ve also known that my experiences help me relate to other people and be gentle with them and I’m learning to be gentle with myself. I’m here to tell others that you aren’t alone, and I know that I am not either. Give me strength to share this now, because I’ve started writing things like this many times, and haven’t gotten myself to share it. Before I do, I want to say to people who may recognize their words, that while I have been deeply hurting I do not blame you. I truly love you deeply and know that you were doing your best, have meant well, and did not mean to hurt me.

I’ve experienced so much trauma that even I find it hard to believe sometimes. Because of society and some things that people closest to me have said, even I have felt like I’m crying wolf. For those who don’t know, I’m a survivor of multiple kinds of sexual trauma, starti when I was sexually abused when I was 11. I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at the the when I was 16, have Some other moments I can’t quite categorize over the years, and in the past year to two years I’ve been raped and sexually assaulted four times. The first thought that comes to a lot of people’s minds when they think of rape or sexual assault is people who come out of allies, happen from date rape, and strangers in bars. In my experience and from what I’ve heard this is not usually the case. These kinds of traumas happen most often with people that you know, including family members, teachers, people who you work with or you meet at dances and other social gatherings. I’ve had to ask friends, school nurses, and obgyns what they considered rape and sexual assault as I’ve struggled to come to terms with what has happened to me, because I was in shock and in denial, and while I felt like some of the people who I hold closest to my heart were not there for me. I’ve felt like my trauma has put great strain on my relationships with my family, and I’ve been deeply hurt feeling like blame has been placed on me for speaking about my trauma and defending myself, as well as learning when it is necessary to have boundaries and be independent.

Sometimes our best intentions do not come out the way that we meant them. While everyone does and means their best people have not been taught what to say to people who have survived trauma. I’ve had my trauma thrown in my face when I was in shock and not ready to come to terms with it yet. The world has put blame on survivors instead of blaming perpetrators, asking what the survivor wore, and if they were drinking. Our expectations of gender and how dating and relationships should be are highly unrealistic, and it takes a lot of work to realize that life is not how it is shown in the movies. Our society has defined gender roles in such a skewed way, saying that men should be dominant and take what they want, while women should be submissive. Sometimes it’s easier to look away and put blame on those who challenge our expectations or make us feel uncomfortable.

I’ve been victim blamed and gaslighted, told that boys will be boys, that my clothes were too short and were attracting attention, that I couldn’t cuddle with grown men without them taking advantage of me. That you have to teach boys and school them when they are doing something wrong. That its in their culture, and what did I expect? I’ve had my trauma be called drama. It’s time to challenge and change the dialogue that surrounds survivors, trauma and gender roles. It’s time to start speaking out, to say that the way I and so many other people have been treated is not okay. It’s time for me to let go, and to forgive myself and others. The world is filled with so much hate and twisted illusions of reality, it’s time to counteract those ways of thinking while filling the word with love.

I know firsthand how trauma can affect the mind and body, I’ve had pain that started as physical injuries turn chronic and hard to heal because of my trauma. I know how it can affect relationships, and how hard it can be to heal from these traumas. It haunts my dreams, gives me panic attacks, makes it hard to breathe, to eat, it has caused me a lot of discomfort in my own skin and made me question who I am. I’ve had the majority of my sexual experiences with other people leave me feeling depressed, withdrawn, in shock sometimes for weeks. And I’ve felt like this was normal, like sex just made me feel that way. Sex shouldn’t be normalized as making people feel that way. I’ve had my nos taken as yes and my maybes taken as yes so many times I’ve been afraid of saying no, and I have a hard time saying yes when I want something. I feel scared a lot of the time and constantly on guard, at times finding it hard to trust others. I’ve been on guard every time I’ve visited my family’s home because of people in the neighborhood, and I spent a year in my dance community terrified of and having panic attacks every time I saw one of the people who assaulted me, before I stepped forward and said something. I’ve learned that anxiety and depression can be symptoms of trauma. That childhood sexual abuse has a large affect on who you are and how you think. It’s taken me a lot to be around men, I constantly have to tell myself I’m not going to be hurt and to try and calm that flight or fight instinct. To hide how scared I might be feeling. It’s taken me a lot to date, have certain friendships, to even dance in close embrace, to even be able to be in a room filled with lots of people, many of which who are strangers. I’ve changed my hair and pierced my face in hopes of scaring people away, since I have attracted so much unwanted attention and had so many people ignore my nos. It’s taken a lot of work to rewire my brain, and there is still a long journey to come. I’ve gotten involved with and made myself vulnerable to people I shouldn’t have, because I feel like people should be able to respect and not take advantage of each other. I’ve blamed myself for people inflicting trauma on me, while defending and trying to find the good in them because I try hard to believe that people do not mean to cause suffering. I am still learning that it is okay to say no or I don’t know, and it is okay to want something.

My last relationship ended abruptly in part because I was haunted by everything I’ve been through and it was too much for the relationship. The traumatized part of my brain has thought, “if I only I had slept with him more, if only I could have gotten past my trauma, maybe I would still be with him.” Logically I know that this wasn’t possible, and would have caused problems if it had been true. I honor him and myself too much to have even tried that. I wasn’t ready for a relationship and the only committed one I feel I should be in right now is one with myself.  It’s time for me to fully learn how to love and be alone with myself. Because as they say in Rent, “you’ll never share real love until you love yourself”.

I’ve been blessed to have experienced such big loves and to know that I am capable of being loved and giving love in return. There was a point in my life where I felt that I could not be loved if people knew the kinds of traumas that I have been through. I felt like I was broken, used goods, and that I would not be wanted. I now have faith that somewhere down the road I will experience romantic love again. I also know that I don’t need someone to complete me, and there’s something wrong with the idea of another half. I do not want to be a half, I want to be so full and whole and filled with love that I will attract a person in kind, since we attract what we put out into the world. I want a love so bright and pure it lights up a room and makes me giddy. I want someone who not only can be with me on my brightest days, but who can be there on my darkest days, but first I’m working on loving myself and being able to be alone. I’m grateful for those in my life and those who I am meeting or have not met yet who are there for me on this journey. Putting something like this out there has taken me many, many years and I am still worried how it might affect some of my relationships. But I know for my sake that it is a necessary part of me healing. I know that I am meant to help others, and part of my healing work will probably be with helping other survivors.

I hope that there will be more resources for how to categorize things as rape and sexual assault, and to learn how to differentiate between that and consensional, mutually agreed upon sexual encounters. That people learn to ask when touch is okay instead of grabbing someone, because it is not okay to invade someone’s boundaries and assume they will be okay with being touched. For us to challenge how society depicts gender stereotypes and dating, that people learn how important it is to get consent. That people are encouraged and learn how to say no, and that people respect their no. I hope that people learn that their worth is not in how much sex they have or attention they get, but instead in how good of a person they are and how they treat others. 

That we learn to talk to and comfort survivors better. For us tolearn how to listen compassionately instead of actively, instead of only paying partial attention because we are already thinking of how we are going to respond, choosing to fully listen. That we do not place blame on survivors, but instead learn how to sympathize. Even if you do not fully understand, it’s best to listen without judgement. To say, I am so sorry for what has happened to you, it is not your fault. Sometimes our instinct is to try and cheer someone up  when the best thing that you can do is sit with a person, and tell them: I am here for you, you are loved, I support you. Things may seem hard now, but you will grow and heal and get stronger. You have survived every one of your hardest moments and you will get through this too. My hope is that we are more conscious to try and ease each other’s suffering instead of adding to it. That we are more aware of our words and the affect that they might have. May my words bring awareness and challenge people’s ways of thinking. May they be a source of comfort and strength, you are not alone. I see you warriors, I hope that you learn how to be vulnerable as well as how to recognize how amazing and strong you are. I am with you, as so many other are. Thank you for being here on part of my journey. The light in my loves the light in you. Nameste.

Until next time,

-Hannah

Advertisements

Dear whoever you are/what it’s like to love me

Version 2

10/28/16

To any potential partner of mine,

As they say in the movies, I’m like a walking time bomb. Or a complicated labyrinth. A car that needs time in the introverted shop to do tune-ups and recharge my batteries. This means that I need quiet time and headspace to think of things and take care of myself. It doesn’t mean the end of the world, that I don’t like you or don’t want to see you again. Though if that were the case, you would know. It means that I need alone time right now so that I can take care of myself in order to be able to socialize and take care of others. It means I can’t talk right now, but I will get back to you soon. Unless I don’t, then you would know.

I can come off as hot and cold, and have been told that I’m needy and demand to be in control, but if you knew how many times people have taken control of my body, taking my maybes as yes and my no’s as green lights, taken permission to initiate sexual contact when I did not want it, maybe you’d understand. Or at least hopefully realize that you don’t know what it’s like. And depending on your gender and situations, maybe that’s what it’s like to come from a place of male privilege. Though statistically speaking men get sexually abused and raped too. More often than not at the hands of another man.

In other words, I’m a survivor. You might think I’m bubbly and fun at first, but the brightest flames hold the deepest shadows. I can be serious a lot of the time, getting lost in my own head, but can also have the most fun. If your impression is that I have a calming presence and make people feel better, which I have been told in rare moments, know it takes a lot of turmoil and work of me trying to make things still to do so. Know also that if it feels like I can sense and feel how you’re feeling, I probably can. That’s what being an empath and needing a stronger shield is like.

If I was a romcom it would be How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days. Let me put all my “crazy” on the table ahead of time to see if you can handle it. Because if you can’t, it feeds into the belief that I’m too much to handle and can’t be loved, and take a sick satisfaction in proving that. I know that some of my ways of thinking do not serve me, and that I am working on rewiring certain things I have told myself for most of my life. Maybe I’ve missed out on some potential matches. Or maybe it’s a skill I’ve developed to weed out the people that can’t handle me.

Those who stick around will find that I love fiercely, loyally, will always keep you guessing, laughing, keep you thinking, will bare my soul and feel yours in return, and will know what you’re thinking and feeling a lot of the time without you having to say. And if you don’t, I know that the person for me hasn’t come along yet, and I’m working on loving myself because you are the only person you have that you are with your whole life.

Dating a survivor who is also an introvert (and occasional ambivert), has anxiety and depression isn’t easy. But every coin is duel-sided. To darkness there is light, to sadness there is great joy.

To all my potential partners: good luck, you’re going to need it. I will be here to tell myself I’m worthy of love if things don’t work out. And if they do, we could have one hell of a love story.

-Hannah

My body

11/30/15

All of my love
I give to my cat
Because I do not have to fear
that he will leave me
if I’m being clingy
I can be vulnerable
without fear that he’ll judge me
I joke that
I don’t need a boyfriend
because he greets me
when I get home
because when I sleep
he is in my arms
I am not alone

My walls have backups
that spring into place
I wonder
how much of my shit
you will take
before you leave like the ones
in your wake

I always joke that I want to be with girls
if I want my heart to break
and guys
if I want to be bored
I am the girl who pored
over romance novels
and listened to love songs
A fling without feelings
is not where my heart belongs

I withdraw into myself
because of all the times
I’ve been wronged
I’ve said yes to sex
when I should have said no
I couldn’t answer if it
was for him or for me
What I know is that you felt the need
to remind me that I’m pretty
when you admired the curves
of my body

I would say that being kind
wins more points with me
But I am hesitant to trust
the kindness
Coming from your lips
that I stifle with a kiss
Beauty is a tragedy
and I don’t know if I am wanted for me
or the way that I look
Please don’t praise what you see
because I know the words
like a well-worn book
The last time a man whispered
sweet nothings in my ear
I cried
because creativity took a nose dive

If I pierce my face
will it make me less pretty
will the men that I attract
be less shitty

My apartment is a cave
in which I hide
My body is a cage
and I’m trapped inside
My larynx is the gatekeeper
that holds the key
My voice is beginning to be set free
with it I demand respect
Because as a woman
I know I haven’t gotten it yet.

Benchmark

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.25.09 PM

So, this happened last night. I hit 100 followers! I wanted to thank all of my readers for sticking around, and those of you who are passing through. I know I only post occasionally so it’s a nice assurance when I do that people like and can relate to what I have to say. I have a dream of my blog being discovered or submitting it somewhere and writing as a columnist or romance/advice person somewhere. The movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days makes writing for a magazine look really glamorous (yes I know, that’s because it’s a movie). But writing as a career is up there in my dream jobs.

I met a guy at a get together on the 4th of July who writes for part of the New Yorker. He’s written fiction but if I remember correctly switched to writing about his life because he knows it best. Which is similar to what I do. When I was a kid I loved writing fiction and filled books with it. I was also dedicated to keeping diaries (there’s of boxes of them somewhere) so it makes sense that I blog. I think part of it is because people are so caught up in memorializing their lives, through photographs, ticket stubs, writing.. etc. Another reason is that writing makes me feel better. It gets the thoughts out, and gives me a place to speak my mind.

I want to know how other people blog. I’m impressed by the people who put out three posts a day, or a few a week, and wonder how they balance that and life. School, work, traveling, kids, pets, relationships.. and maintaining a blog. As I’ve mentioned before I don’t post as often when I’m going through change or am coping with depression and anxiety, though I know I feel better when I do. I’m trying to pick it up at least a little more often than I have in the past. Anyho, thanks again to all of you who are following me. Will be posting more soon!

Update

I do it all the time. I write, I feel better, I fall silent. Repeat. When anxiety hits and my heart starts racing I tell myself that everything is okay. I’m in a better place. I no longer live where I’ll be greeted by an empty apartment I had gotten with my partner. I have roommates to greet me and pets to cuddle with. I like my new school, and I’m making friends. Nothing is really wrong.

Still, I wake in the night with increasing anxiety, and the thoughts won’t stop. Conversations I’ve had, things I should have said, what I have to do. Flashes of moments I’ve overcome surface in split seconds and leave me breathless. Me standing in a cornfield alone at night after getting groceries. Crying because I didn’t want to go back to school. Being sad to leave my family. The dorms I’ve lived in. My ex’s eyes, or face. The brief stab that comes with thinking of him over a year later.

“It’s okay, everything is okay.” I tell myself. Soothing like the way I’d talk to another person or animal. It’s my first semester of junior year in college and it’s said to be one of the hardest at my school. The training wheels have come off and we are left to make art, exploring what kind of artists we are. I’ve been experimenting with what sculpture means to me, and working with a combination of materials that are new and familiar. Sewing, painting, playing with wire, working with caulk..

I’ve been struggling with being torn between writing and art, and wondering if I should have gone to school for writing. What it would be like if I had. Questioning, “what’s the point? Why am I here?” Feeling worn down and not liking that my life revolves around school. That I eat and sleep less. Trying to work through having depression and anxiety. I’ve been meeting a group of girls who have similar experiences, which is comforting to know that I am not alone, but also troubling that so many people I’ve spoken to recently feel the same way. That they’ve thought about giving up and dropping out of school but we’re so close to finishing that we shouldn’t. I read an article recently that said how there is an increase of people in universities who are being seen for mental health, which is reflected in the people I have been talking to.

Since I’m torn between writing and making art I figure I should be posting more often.

Fall

It’s that time of year again.. A repost.

12/4/12

Fall:

The crunch of leaves underfoot is always the worst. When the first sign of color highlights the trees, it is celebrated. They then turn brown and are shredded from the passage of too many feet. It makes me want to preserve them when their colors are still fresh. I always used to like dipping them in paraffin wax when I was a kid, especially when I got to dunk my hand in there until the wax would harden around my fingers.

I light a cigarette. Fall wouldn’t be so bad if I had someone to share it with. We could get hot cider, and go on long walks in the woods, then return home to sit by the fire, drinking wine to celebrate that we have each other. Or rake leaves into a pile so that our kids could jump in them while our dog runs around the white-fenced yard. That wouldn’t be so bad.

Instead, the only thing that embraces me is the stale scent of too many smokes and the occasional pang of loneliness. Blowing on my gloved hands, I decide to get some cider. If I can’t keep someone else’s hands warm this season, at least I can warm my own. With fall and the weather getting colder comes the nagging desire to find a mate. By winter I’m shivering my skinny ass off and cursing myself for being alone, instead of having someone in my arms while the first heavy snowfall falls gently outside the window. I curse myself for not having the guts to ask that certain someone out, and instead pretending I was okay with being just friends. Worse, I curse them for not showing up, except for in my imagination. What if I will always be alone? I don’t know how many recurrences I can take of being alone as it gets cold outside.

As I walk the streets unacknowledged, unnoticed, I find myself imagining being the other half to a solid unit. It’s nothing new for people to ignore me I’m pretty average. Plain hair, plain eyes, plain face. I watch the pretty wife with shoulder length blonde hair and blue eyes, holding the hand of her blue eyed, blonde haired son. That’s one hell of a rock on the hand that’s holding her little boy’s, someone must really love her.
I could be the guy who can always be counted on, to pick up his family after a long day of work. Hey honey, how was your day? Hey kid, how was school? My days would be complete just to welcome them home. The guy who picked out that perfect ring, for his perfect wife.

But I am no one’s other half. Cigarettes, a decent job, and a dingy apartment are all I have, along with the colors of leaves in fall as a reminder that I am alone. Maybe I’ll get a dog, they’re always there to welcome you as long as you feed them.

(Inspired by The Stranger by Albert Camus).

-© Hannah L. Farmery

The womb

There’s a place I like to sleep
with curtains drawn tight
Glowing in the magenta light
Covers tucked under my chin,
the mattress cushioning my side.

Some say the way we sleep
mimics the womb.

Similarly,
When going through change
I get antisocial,
Shutting out most
talking to a select few
While I burrow,
and make a nest.

I’ve been changing
taking information and processing it
Ready to work through
the events that make me, me.

The big topics are
the hardest to start writing about
and have the most impact.
I’m working to express myself
instead of withdraw.

But even butterflies
go through a period of change
Before they come out on the other side.

glass walls

Think of the girls living inside of glass walls,
Who have no privacy,
Who are watched from the halls
Some may live there for many years,
Their mirror images, their only fears

Come on girls, now take my hands
Let’s spin in circles
And dance in the sand
Why have we let things get so far?
Trapped inside of the walls you are?
One day, may you all break free
And realize everyone has beauty

We see you,
The girl who stands in front of the mirror and says:
“I’m too fat”
Your ribs are bulging,
Your face is taunt,
What happened to those curves you used to flaunt?

Come on girls, now take my hands,
Let’s spin in circles,
And dance in the sand

There are people who care about you,
Who worry about the things you do,
Remove the tubes,
Replace the glass,
Don’t waste away, or you won’t last

So if I may,
Take the time to say,
“You’re beautiful,
inside and out.”
________________________________

It’s corny and an oldie but the message is what matters. I had heard a story of someone I used to know who was sent to a rehab center for being anorexic and bulimic. I was heartbroken at the idea of girls (and guys) with eating disorders being sent to a place where they’re watched behind glass walls. I think it’s sad and interesting that even if a person is skinny or a normal weight for their body they will see themselves as fat or unfit. The mirror sees one thing but they don’t believe it because they’re seeing another.

I think a large part of it is because of how the media portrays what the ideal person should look: flawless, while the truth is: they have been photoshopped. It’s been said so many times but beauty is in the eye of the eye of the beholder, and there is no specific definition.

I really wish that I could do more for these people. I at least hope that my posts have an affect on my readers. Again, comments about people’s bodies even if they’re joking might hit home. You may not know what they’re going through and how deeply your comments affect them.

© Copyright-All rights reserved- Hannah Farmery

a secret you don’t have to keep

And for some people,
There’s hurt.
Like dark secrets that weigh down on you,
Many people you want to tell them to
I share in this world of secrets and pain
Yet I chose not to remain.
Don’t ever say, you don’t have a choice
For you have every choice to use your voice.

Like many, I’ve been dealt cruelties and secrets
Which I think about telling but have kept.
Yet I thrived during all of these years,
Though I’ve shed unwelcome tears.

And for some,
There’s hurt.
The many secrets that try to weigh you down.

-Hannah Farmery