Monday, November 25, 2013

Survivors Voice- a long ago Thanksgiving blessing

This morning a long ago memory came back to me as I was thinking about this weeks holiday.  After I had disclosed the sexual abuse from my childhood to my Mother (in my late 20's), the year rolled around and Thanksgiving was approaching.  Our family tradition was that my Mother, Brothers and I take the Thanksgiving meal to my Grandparents home to be together.  My Grandfather was the perpetrator against me.

At this point in my healing, I couldn't even conceive of the possibility that 'we', or even I didn't have to make this trek.  I thought that my world would unravel if I did not keep it spinning as usual.  Part of what was so awful for me over the years was this and other visits to their home where I had to pretend everything was 'normal'.  My Mom and I had not yet disclosed the abuse to my brothers so they were unaware of the tension that was brewing for my Mom and I as Thanksgiving approached.

I was terrified, Mom was filled with rage,  but we packed up the turkey and off we went to Apache Junction.  That day my Mother was my hero.  She could have out performed any linebacker in the NFL.  She maneuvered herself throughout the house and throughout the day putting herself between him and me and my Grandfather never had the opportunity to lay a hand on me.   No welcome hug, no kiss hello/goodbye... nothing.

I'll never know whether my Grandparents or my Brothers noticed anything odd that day, but I got through it because of my Mother.  I don't know how she did it.  It's true that years before, my Mom missed the fact that I was in danger when my Grandpa was arrested for 'bothering' some neighbor children and she didn't keep me safe.  But, she was there for me that day and indeed every moment after I disclosed the abuse to her.  And for me, as a survivor, that made all the difference.

That was the last time any of us ever set foot in their home.  Not long after that, we did tell my Brothers and the news did not tear the fabric of our family as I was so sure it would.  It's funny (odd, not funny ha ha) what we make up in our heads as kids about what will happen if we tell.

I give thanks for the courage I found in myself through the telling of my story all those years ago.  Stand in truth of your life friends it feels amazing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In the flow... Synchrodipity

Lately I've been absolutely marveling at the 'coincidences' that have been popping up in my life.  Some, small and seemingly insignificant, others larger and more meaningful.  I suppose everyone experiences these things at different times in their lives.  These kinds of moments are known by many names, synchronicity, chance, happenstance, serendipity.  I decided to look up some of these definitions today and they all have different meanings, but all are sort of in the same ballpark and people tend to use them interchangeably.  When I was poking around the internet, I found this combination-- synchrodipity and love the definition:

Synchrodipity--A delightful unfolding of events or manifestation of intention that seems to be evidence of a benevolent Universal intelligence or inter-contentedness of all things.  Also, the sense of well being that results from the common experience of being in the Flow.    (Slade Roberson)

As I celebrate my 48th trip around the sun today, I'm keenly aware of being in the flow right now and I'm filled with gratitude.  Here's to another year.  God willing, I'll be more open to the flow, to love and to being a better human being each day I'm here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Survivors Voice (possible triggers ahead)

I've been feeling lately like I've not been doing enough in the survivor community.  So I decided that I'm going to write a series of blog posts speaking in my survivors voice, sharing my story.  I write not for your sympathy, but to shine a light on the issue of child sexual abuse.  I write so that you can understand the dangers.  I write so that you will understand that it is possible to survive, heal and go on to thrive in life.  I write so that you will talk about this issue with your kids, your friends and your family so that it is no longer a taboo subject.  So, I ask that you not avert your eyes and look away.  Read, ask questions and speak out.  There are children who need your help right now.

When I was about 5 years old, the sexual abuse began.  The perpetrator was not a creepy guy at the park or someone hiding in the bathrooms at the mall.  My perpetrator was my beloved Grandfather.  He continued to molest me until I was about 12 when for the most part I grew adept at avoiding situations where he could get to me in private.  Even that strategy wasn't foolproof as he was pretty brazen and would attempt to put his tongue in my mouth in front of others when saying goodbye as my Grandparents got in their truck to head home from a visit.

My Grandparents were dedicated to my brothers and I.  We traveled all over the state camping together from the time when each of us was a little baby.  I absorbed the family lore that my Grandpa was the worlds greatest and I was such a lucky girl.  I never said a word to anyone.

As I grew up and into my adult years, there was not 15 minutes in my day that I did not think about it, about what he did to me.  When I look back through my old journals, they're full of me trying to say 'it' didn't matter, that I needed to forget about it.

When I was 24 my life and my secret began to unravel.  Something I saw on television triggered me and I was unable to keep quiet.  When I say unable, I mean it was like trying to hold back vomit one night and I said to my Mother, 'you know how you always said how lucky we were nothing bad ever happened in our family?' and she said 'who was it?'  It all came tumbling out. When I was finished, she said 'it's not your fault', and then 'you're not the only one'.

It turns out, that my beloved Grandfather was a classic pedophile (by my calculations, having upwards of 10 victims I know about for certain and probably many more).  He had in fact been arrested years before for molesting numerous neighborhood children.  The adults in my family knew about the arrest, but had been shocked by it, didn't believe it and didn't really question the safety of me and other girls in the family.  It was a different day back in 1978.  That forgotten arrest came back to my Mom as soon as I disclosed.

That confession was marked the beginning of my healing.  The knowledge that I wasn't the only one, was extremely powerful and in fact was a gift that many survivors don't get.  It was proof that my story was true, and validation that those kids all those years ago were telling the truth then.

I did heal.  It didn't take forever.  I lead a normal life, seldom dealing with the after effects, but once in a great while something does come up.  In future posts I'll share more of my journey into healing and wholeness.  I hope that somewhere out there someone finds strength in my story.

Our secrets are what destroy lives.  I don't know that we're ever going to rid the world of this horrific epidemic, though God knows I'm a warrior in the effort.  But I can stand in the truth of my past and use my voice to help others understand the real dangers that threaten the safety of our children.  The better prepared adults are of the reality of this issue, the safer kids will be.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Something I read in the Huff Post got me thinking today.  Before I'd even finished the blog post, I'd decided to create a new life management system, sort of a 'Care and Feeding of Timalee' plan.  It's been a long time in development, but then all the best systems have.  Like Weight Watchers, there may be a slightly new version out every year around 'resolution' season.  It's a plan I can live with and re-join anytime if I fall off the wagon.

1- get enough sleep
2- strive to be fully present in all emotional states (not just pleasant ones)
3- reach out on more days than not
4- eat foods you like, and choose real food more often than not
5- be thankful for the body you live in, you only get the one
6- find ways to move the body you live in that you enjoy and do it often
7- zero tolerance on crappy self talk (body related and otherwise)
8- stay proactive about nurturing my marriage
9- drink lots of water
10- good sex, coupled and otherwise (thanks Huff Post for permission to say that!)
11- take risks, especially when afraid to do so
12- nurture creativity
13- manage the drudgery of household tasks so that weekend time is for fun
14- live within my means
15- minimize mainstream media's influence in my life
16- listen to music I love every day
17- check in with my body before, during and after eating to fine tune to it's needs
18- schedule and take regular getaways with my hubs
19- regularly partake in reflective practices

I've been saying for a long time, that I know intuitively how to care for myself, I just need to find the 'give a damn switch' and flip it.  Something deep inside myself feels like I just did.  How odd, that after waiting years for it to happen again, it should happen on a random quiet Saturday afternoon after waking from a nap, house quiet.    Or then again, maybe not so odd.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Women you should know... Hedy Lamarr

           (salon photo)

'If you use your imagination, you can look at any actress and see her nude.  I hope to make you use your imagination.'-- Hedy Lamarr

Quick, for what was Hedy Lamarr best known?

Born in 1913 in Austria, this beauty was part of the golden age of Hollywood.  She was a box office sensation sharing the stage with the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. 

What you probably don't know about her is that in 1942 she and her friend, composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea that was originally hers.  It was a method of radio signaling that would eventually make way for spread spectrum and frequency hopping, necessary for the wireless communication we enjoy today.  

The pairs intention was for the US Military to use the technology to interrupt the path of torpedo's in wartime.   The Navy met the idea with opposition and did not pick up the technology until 1962.  In 1998 the pair received some recognition for their work.

The next time you pick up your iPhone or iPad... you can thank this amazing woman.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Measuring beauty

The other night at a community event my sweet husband said something that was a compliment, was intended to make me feel good and ended up giving me something to think about as I observed a range of inner emotions for the rest of the evening.

He looked across the crowded room, saw a woman we both know- a woman that is by media standards, a beautiful woman... a woman I consider to be a physically beautiful woman.  After a few minutes of conversation, he glanced back at her, turned to me and said 'overall, you're really more attractive than she is'.

My instinctive, instant reaction was 'Aw, honey... really?  Thank you!'  For a few minutes I was riding a high.  I imagine that all women love to be told their partners think they're beautiful.  Then another thought began to creep in.  'Who is he to measure one woman's beauty against another?'

I spent the evening paying attention to my thoughts.  I wondered how I can gently move my man toward enlightenment about the destructiveness of this kind of thing.  I thought about the part of me that was instantly delighted at first at the suggestion that I might be more attractive than this other glamorous woman who is thin and willowy.  I didn't come up with any answers though.  I just gently observed and kept all my thoughts to myself.

Then, the next day the Universe gave me an even bigger thump on the side of the head to get my attention.  At a gas station, I said to my husband, 'take a look at the cashier... doesn't she remind you of (another woman we know), only prettier?'  Doh!!  Me.  I said that.  And he called me on it.  'Honey!', he exclaimed, shocked.  I hadn't meant anything mean or destructive any more than he had the night before.  But I had to own it.  Who am I to measure one woman's beauty against another?

Now who's looking for enlightenment?