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

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.

Kind words and grattitude

very-inspiring-blogger-award

Ever since the Writing 101 challenge I have grown to truly love the blogging community. Our community. When I started blogging before that I felt alone and unsure of how to get connected. The blogging challenges are a great way to get advice, and find a wide range of sweet, kind, caring, brilliant writers.

When I got nominated by Ronovan of Ronovan Writes, it felt out of the blue. We hadn’t had much contact before then, though I’ve been reading his posts closely. The night before I saw that he was liking my posts, and then a very sweet comment came that he had nominated me for an award. I didn’t know there was a Very Inspiring Blogger Award before I got this… I think it’s a great idea. To give a shout-out to people that inspire you, and for them to then nominate other people.. Like Pay It Forward.

Ronovan’s kind words:

On my blog:
Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.34.41 PM

and.. then I was nominated!

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.33.18 PM

I’m grateful to be given this from someone who I admire, and that I’ve been thinking the same thing about. Ronovan writes in a way that I cannot, while I feel like I occasionally lack the words or don’t say in the right way what I’m trying to. I admire how he delivers his content.

Yesterday, I was stumbling through my feed and saw that the lovely Roser had also nominated me! And, my post had gotten to her when she was having a bad day:

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.45.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.46.15 PM

Roser of Believe Love Share and I have been back and forth on each other’s posts since the 101 challenge. We seem to think in similar ways, and it’s nice to know I have people who think like me. I’m moved to have delivered good news to her when she was in need of cheering up, and love how she describes my writing. Also that I’ve inspired her to write poetry, something she felt she could not do in the past.

These are two bright people who I admire. I feel like I don’t have the touch that either of them have, while they feel similarly about me. I’m grateful for both of you. Thanks again, so much.

Best,
Hannah

More content coming…

A date of mine last night (more details to come on that) said that he felt like he had learned so much but was only just beginning to scratch the surface of what I’m really like. I giggled, I confused him, I was touched by the amount of stuff he guessed about me.. But that stuck in my head. I have so many angles I’m not sure how it’s contained in one person sometimes. As I told him, there are only a select few who know what I’m really like (my friends and family, and -a bit less but- my followers) and I feel like even they don’t know everything.

I’ve been newly digging deeper in exploring what I’m really like, and expanding and growing in lots of different ways. At first I was worried that my blog is all over the place and my readers wouldn’t want to read some of it, but that’s how I am. I write, I sculpt, weld, make paper, want to play an instrument, am mysterious, shy(ish), quiet, observant…too many things to list.

Ronovan inspired me by posting a picture of his photography and saying that he’s no photographer:

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.51.10 AM

(I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this)

and I replied who’s to say that you aren’t? Him and the guy from last night inspired me to add more content to my blog, which I will be beginning the process of soon. I’ve been meaning to add more of my visual art and photography for a while, because like a lot of things, I’ve been quietly a photographer for years, I just haven’t shared it yet.

More to come very soon,
Hannah