It’s Not My Fault

Today in therapy I had the realization that, after thirty years, I still blame myself for being sexually abused. Behind that blame is a lot of shame. While I knew there were still part of that blame still within me I didn’t know how deep and raw it was. I also didn’t realize how much remained after all these years. The last time I worked on blaming myself was in 2004. I spent almost two years working hard on the trauma. Prior to that time I had never really dealt with the abuse. During that time guilt and blame was something that I dealt with in length. I thought I had moved past it but I couldn’t be more wrong.

There were certainly signs but it wasn’t something on my radar.  Lately I’ve struggled with flashbacks. I haven’t been able to hide from the abuse. Each year my Mom’s family would go on vacation up north in Michigan together. Usually that meant sharing a cabin with my Grandmother who raised my cousin. I can close my eyes and i’m in the cabin where I was abused at. I can feel the walls of the room. The couch I slept on each night after my abuser took what he wanted from me. The shower where I couldn’t wash the shame. The band that was playing next door. I vividly remember it all. My memory is horrible but that week is crystal clear. I remember and can feel the guilt and shame… the fear of not knowing what had happened but knowing it was wrong.

Walking up to my parents door, ready to knock, to tell them what happened but turning away when I feared that they wouldn’t believe me. Not knowing how I would tell them that my male cousin had just sexually abused me. Instead I turned to that aqua blue couch with the old fashioned cloth. I can feel the patterns and how uncomfortable the couch was. I remember waking up in a panic early in the morning fearing that my family would question why I wasn’t sleeping with my cousin. How could I tell my parents that I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed? So I went back into the lion’s den and waited for my cousin to get up. The next night I thought maybe it won’t happen again but it did. I would wait for it to happen… and then wait for him to go asleep… I would shower and sleep on the couch until the sun came up. Somehow I knew when to wake up. For the next week I repeated this pattern.

You are probably wondering how any victim could blame themselves and unless it happens to you it will seem illogical. My brain knows it wasn’t my fault but the other parts don’t. Guilt is a common occurrence for sexual abuse victims. It’s even more complicated when you are gay and your abuser is a male. Abuse is welded into pleasure and self-worth at an early age. When you reinforce these early beliefs for decades it becomes extremely difficult to pull apart that spider web.

It was during puberty that I became an object and my adult years confirmed that to be true. When I was abused I didn’t even know what sex was. I use to think that a woman got pregnant by touching feet with a man. That gives you an idea the frame of mind that I was in. My sexuality from the start was tainted. The abuse was the only thing I had to go by. I didn’t get to go through the typical thing teenage boys do. When something painful becomes pleasurable it becomes a vicious cycle. That’s where the guilt and shame stems from. If you find it pleasurable then you must have wanted that. Society does a good job of victim shaming. My family did when I finally told them eight years later. If enough people repeat these message then eventually sinks in. I was right to not trust my family the first night, which just made me feel even worse. Though I will say my Mom was different. She never doubted me and supported me fully. The rest of the family, including my father, were different.

My cousin was the star of the family. I was the black sheep. For eight years I held this dark secret and was forced to see my abuser often as he lived down the street with my grandmother. I grew up believing my family didn’t love me because of how close they were with him. My father loved my cousin because he hunted and played sports. I did not. I wasn’t worthy of his attention or affection. My grandmother didn’t drive which meant my Mom had to drive him everywhere he wanted. It killed me to watch and not be able to tell him. Many nights I cried myself to sleep.

The day after I told my father that I was abused he went hunting with my abuser. When he found out that I was upset he told me that I had to forgive and forget. All of this just furthered the dialogue that I deserved what happened.

This might sound fucked up but my cousin was my first love interest. I was groomed to fall in love with him. I didn’t ask for it. He took my heart. When he was done with me I was left with rejection, shame and guilt.

I blame myself because I didn’t stop it. That’s the problem with trauma from your childhood, it stunts your growth. So while my body and mind grew up the hurt part of me didn’t. Inside of me is that ten year old boy. So while I can verbalize it’s not my fault to my therapist, I don’t believe it.

I don’t want to believe it. I wish I didn’t. That belief has affected every aspect of my life. When good things happen to me I believe I don’t deserve them so I run away from them. My two years in Chicago were some of the best days of my life. I had my own place and a good job with benefits. I had the most friends that I had ever had. I was involved with the LGBTQ community. I had all of this and it wasn’t enough. I didn’t deserve these wonderful things so I self destructed. No amount of therapy could stop that and I had an absolutely wonderful therapist. I didn’t deserve her either. I tried really hard to be a productive citizen who didn’t have a mental illness and I failed miserably.  While my time in Chicago was some of the best times it was also some of the worst. I was hospitalized twice. I had never stuck with any job longer than a year. My job in Chicago lasted 1.5 years but I was on short term disability twice. Life became too much and I returned back to the only thing I ever known.

I was groomed into accepting the bad as the truth. The darkness is comfortable. It’s all I have known. What will it take to overcome these beliefs? I’m not sure. There is a part of me that wishes I could just put the lid back on pandora’s box and pretend like nothing is wrong. Unfortunately that’s not possible. Once the abuse is out in the open it takes a long while to process. The flashbacks are troubling and I can’t control them. I wish I could deal with the trauma without them. It’s not as easy as wishing them away. It’s not a thought that you can make go away. A flashback is so much more than a thought, it’s an experience that uses all the senses. Very quickly you are transported back to that time. Every door you open leads you back into that room.

Others might think that I’m falling apart but honestly I’m doing great considering what I’m going through. In the past this type of awareness would have meant hospitalization. So far I haven’t had to go. I certainly have had moments where I was close to that but I have been able stabilize myself. I don’t think I have had this level of awareness. What makes this time different?

I think for starters I have stopped comparing myself to others. At least to the point where it prevents me from moving forward. I’ve stopped trying the person that others needed me to be. I will never be the typical person who works full-time. I have tried that for the last twenty years and I have failed every time I tried. I have started to take my mental illness serious for the disease that it is. I must manage the symptoms like someone with Diabetes. Each time in the past when I would try to work full-time I would crash into a downward spiral of depression. Workplaces only allow so many sick days before you’re fired. They don’t understand that with PTSD that there are just some days you can’t be convinced to leave your house. Each job that I lost would cause me to lose my insurance and housing. The instability of the last twenty years has also contributed to the deterioration of my mental health.

So what is different about where I’m at today? For starters I have medicaid which allows me to receive continued treatment. I won’t lose this for not working. I know that many people won’t understand my decision to go for SSI disability but they’ve not had to live my life or endure what I have. I’m trying really hard to break the cycle. Going back to work would be a short term solution that would end with me quitting from a nervous breakdown. The next one could be my last and I can’t risk that. If I lose my insurance then I was certainly have another breakdown.

I’ve been in therapy since 2013 and have been on medicine since then as well. This is huge for me. I have never stuck anything out like this. It’s honestly my lifeline. Being on SSI disability will allow me to become more healthy. I won’t have to worry about losing my healthcare (that’s if Trump and the GOP doesn’t take it) from not being able to work. No matter what I know that I can go to therapy and get my medicine. Those two constants have become my stability. SSI will just add one more aspect. I’ve never had stability. Honestly I don’t think I have ever been this stable emotionally.

I have a therapist now that I really like and trust. I have seen various therapists the last four years and this is the first time I have been able to trust someone enough to talk about the sexual abuse in length. Today’s session was tough and I was able to get through it to the point it did put me in dangerous water. So that’s definitely progress.

My stability has allowed me to open up more about the trauma. Being able to recognize that I still blame myself is huge. I just need to continue what I’m doing. Keep moving forward. My therapist in Chicago told me that healing is like an onion, there are many layers. I really feel that I have hit the core or at the very least really close. As tough as it is to be aware of the abuse and the trauma it’s allowing me to heal.

I am able to verbalize that it’s not my fault. A month ago I didn’t even realize that I still blamed myself. Awareness is half the battle and I’m one step closer to believing that I deserve good things. I will continue to process the trauma until I don’t have to anymore.

I was a boy. The responsibility is not mine to own. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. I was groomed. I deserve love, respect and happiness. I have to stop letting my cousin and others control my body and happiness. I’m not an object. I wasn’t meant to be used or have things taken from. For the very first time I’m taking care of myself and able to see things more clearly. It’s allowed me to have some difficult realizations about myself and admit that I never really stopped blaming myself for the abuse. This was a huge step today and hopefully will allow me to heal. I’m one day closer to believing that I didn’t deserve the abuse, that it’s not my fault. It never was.

It’s not my fault.

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Please Rescue Me From My Homosexuality!

UPDATE: Take a moment and report her Facebook page as hate speech, including her posts. Maybe Facebook will remove her. Hate doesn’t belong on social media when so many children use it and will be affected by it.

https://www.facebook.com/theactivistmommy/

The other day a petition came across my Facebook feed about this woman who goes by the name Activist Mommy who has a facebook page where she spews her sugary coated hate. Her name really should be the Anti-Mommy or the Anti-Christ Mommy. Seems more fitting than to be labeled an activist. She’s also anti a lot of things including science, abortion, etc. She’s all things ridiculous.

I signed the petition and moved on. Then today I discovered the new rainbow reaction on Facebook and I thought I should find her page again to share some rainbows with her. There is something about trolling bigots posts with rainbows that tickles me. You won’t ever reach these kind of people and usually it’s best to just ignore them but sometimes you just gotta stand against that kind of hate. Kill them with rainbows, I mean kindness as they say.

Then I read her post about the Columbus Pride parade advertising that she was going to save some homosexuals by saying that she’s “looking forward to interviewing many of my homosexual friends in Columbus, Ohio.” In the post she further states that she’s going to interview and befriend all the homosexuals. I wonder if she will be like Kirk Cameron and bring a camera crew? She loves homosexuals and doesn’t care if she makes some enemies (from the people she says she will become friends with) that they need to hear the truth she thinks she’s speaking.

6days

This woman has mastered passive aggressiveness. Someone should give her a PhD in it. The Anti-Christ, I mean the Activist Mommy insists she loves us gays. I mean why else would she use the term homosexual to describe us? No ally in the history of queer allies has ever called their friends homosexual. Only people who feel uncomfortable by gay people or even worse are bigoted.

She doesn’t understand why she’s getting trolled with so much hate. All she’s trying to do is Jesus duty to save us from eternal damnation. I mean how could anyone think that had anything but a loving touch to it.

Anti-Mommy… gosh I’m having a hard time using Artistic Mommy… does the typical compare homosexuals to sex addicts, the fornicators, the adulterers, the porn addicts, etc.

We’re the petty, small-minded ones because we’re calling out her sugary bullshit. How dare we imply that she hates homosexuals. Why else would she troll us at the pride parade telling us what we need to hear.

Honestly I’d rather have someone call me a faggot to my face because at least they’re honest about it. They don’t hide behind a sugary coverup. You can pour a dumptruck full of sugar onto an ounce full of shit but you can smell the stank.

The stink they’re trying to cover up has nothing to do with homosexuality. It has everything to do with their own fears, insecurities and hate. To keep all of that negativity at bay they anchor themselves to a false idea of what God and Jesus is. The only way they will feel good about that choice is by convincing everyone else that their way is the right and only way.

I know all of this because I lived it for so many years. I grew up in a family full of people like this. People who felt it was their god given duty to save me. My father is one of these people. He’d go up to strangers telling them that they needed to accept Jesus Christ in their life or they’d go to hell. It didn’t matter the situation either. One time at a funeral he cornered my sister’s friend trying to save her.

That kind of hate destroys, including the sugary coated kind. I grew up hating myself because I was brainwashed in believing that I was going to hell for being gay. It almost destroyed me. You just don’t get over having your own father tell you over and over that you’re going to hell. While strangers and other family could escape his wrath, I couldn’t.

Children, teens and even adults kill themselves over this kind of hate. The age of Trump has brought out all the bigots. He is their king and now they feel even more justified in spreading their hate like shit on crackers. So I’m torn. I believe in free speech. I don’t know what the appropriate action is for someone like this lady. Ultimately she deserves love and she needs it. She’s lost and delusional. She has two young children and I can’t imagine what they’re having to endure.

Yes people like this are a dime a dozen. I think what upsets me about people like this isn’t about the hate they spread but the damage it does. I know countless people are enduring the pain I did. It breaks my heart that I can’t rescue them. They are the ones who need saving and I don’t mean by berating them.

Some will say to just ignore people like this and for the most part I do. There’s the argument that while her speech is vile it is still free speech. I believe in free speech but I also believe in standing up. If you’re going to spread your hate in a public forum expect that others will stand against you. There are consequences to hate. Now while I think speech should be speech that doesn’t mean I believe we should give them the stage like some universities have done for people like Ann Coulter or Milo what’s his name.

At what point does silence turn into acceptance and tolerance. When you stand up to people like this woman you’re standing up for those who can’t do it themselves. When she shares her sugary hate on social media it will eventually show up in the feeds of teens who are struggling and getting bullied. How many children have to die from bullying both from other children or adults before people wake up.

Did you know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24? Here are some other facts about teen suicide.

• Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. [2]

• In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. [3]

• LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. [4]

• 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. [5]

• Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. [6]

So that’s where I draw the line. I refuse to sit by and let this hate destroy others. Having to grow up in this kind of hate doesn’t ever leave you. So while many survive these horrific situations they grow into adults who struggle greatly. It’s taken me twenty years to heal and I’m still processing layers.

I’ve struggled to cope as an adult. It was easier for me to literally escape from that hate including my father. All these years I knew the hate that was out there in this world. I didn’t need to look any farther than my own family. I thought I escaped it but in reality I’m still living in parts of that house still. I was reminded this the night that Trump took the election. I was devastated. I knew what was at stake and the lives that would be lost from his hate.

It was surreal seeing all the people go through what I did for so many years. People not realizing the kind of hate that’s out there. It’s one thing to know your family is filled for of bigots but it’s another thing to know there are millions of them. It almost scared me into the hospital from suicidal thoughts. It was this gigantic flashback.

For the next two months I was paralyzed by my fear. I wasn’t just reliving that night but all the nights from when I was a teen. I live in a rural area and I would find myself questioning (in my head) others who I would encounter in public. Is this someone who voted my rights away? If they find out I’m gay will they verbally chastise me or worse attack me? I’m 6ft, 400lbs and have a big beard and even I feared being found out. I didn’t hide like so many years, well after a while.

Another dangerous aspect of hate speech is that it’s usually attached to some belief of discrimination. It’s one thing to believe whatever you want to but another thing to vote away my rights… or take them away… or deny service to me… So hate speech is a double edged sword.

Most in our country were awoken to the level of hate out there in our world. There was some relief to that fact knowing that you weren’t alone. It’s so easy to think that is all that’s out there. When you grow up surrounded by hate you get tunnel vision. If the people who are suppose to protect you and become the ones who hurt you how else is a child supposed to know anything but that.

You get to a point where you don’t trust anyone. It’s this weird state of living between the world of a victim and survivor. Which is why something like gay pride is so important. There is safety in numbers. It’s not just to have a good time. I still to this day find myself weary in places where heterosexual men are like sports bars. Instantly I become that scared child having to endure my father’s hate. So it was just easier for me to stick with people I knew were open minded.

I saw time and again people posting about removing facebook friends because of Trump and his army of hate. I didn’t delete one person. I had weaned these kind of people out of my life long ago. Maybe I’m missing out by not being as open to different ideas but it’s how I stay safe. It’s easier said than done to be accepting of all ideas when those words are stones to you. I also don’t think it applies to ignorance or hate. People are literally scared for their life and many have died because of this hate. There are those of us who don’t have the luxury of taking these risks.

So I think there is nothing wrong with eliminating people in your life like this or limiting your time with them. Sometimes you have to love people from afar.

I’m a strong believer that good things can come from bad things. It can be extremely tough to see this, especially if you’re living it. After I got over the shock of Trump I started to see all the wonderful supportive people coming out of the woodworks. There were way more of the lovers, than the haters. Just recently I saw a picture of a pride section at the Kroger in a conservative small town. That’s progress. You don’t know what that does to a person who has grown up hating themselves. It’s a bright light in a dark world. To many it’s just cardboard and paper, and others an abomination.

I’ve always lived life with the philosophy of doing good. You can be the person who lifts someone up. I’ve always been open with my struggles. Some have questioned why I’ve shared so openly. I don’t do it for them. At the end of the day if my struggles can be a lighthouse to someone else I will feel better. If I can save one person I know my life will have been meant for more than all that hate, misery, tears, blood and pain.

I won’t lie I’ve not got my life figured out. It’s a lifelong battle. I’ve struggled with dark days of depression. I fight daily with these demons. People like the activist mommy are not my demons, nor do they affect me. I’ve given people like her power for so long. They’ve rented space in my mind for most of my life.

The activist mommy speaks of freedom. To read her posts and the comments supporting here reminds me just how free I am. That I can read her posts and not feel any pain. I’ve had a lot of practice and I still get caught up occasionally.

For so many years it was easier to hate my father and be angry. It wasn’t until my Mom died five years ago that I realized how much destruction the anger has caused and how much he still controlled me. I say past tense because recently I cut those ties after some realizations. The grief softened the anger and I discovered a world of hurt. Through that hurt I wished for the father I always wanted and deserved. I even thought he had changed. Years ago he apologized for how he stated, the way he approached Jesus to me.

My mom was my lifeforce. She was my rock and when she died I went floating into outer space… so I grabbed onto the closest life force I was born with. I had my heart broken all over again recently. I had seen his posts on facebook about all things alt right. Anti this, anti that. A total trump lover… So it started to wake me up again. It was directed at me this time but it still stung. Still I thought maybe he wouldn’t turn on me this time. Maybe this time would be different.

Since my Mom died in 2012 I’ve struggled to survive. It’s been nearly five years and I’m not even 1/4 back to where I was before. In the last year I’ve almost been homeless three times. Through it all I fought through the grief and I’m finally on the outside looking in. For someone with PTSD that is extremely difficult to do. While I might not be emotionally unstable all the time I still struggle daily.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in a world where I no longer have the one person who was there for me. The world seemed to dark and scary for me. I had a lifetime of pain, suffering and misery that I almost ended it all in 2013. I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted relief and didn’t think I would ever get it.

It’s so much easier to judge someone else than it is to have empathy for what the person has endured. I think that’s what bothers me the most about this kind of hate is it reminds me of the kindness I wished I had more of. Often times I feel like a fuck up. The person who can’t be stable. Some days I don’t hate myself and those days are wonderful. I’m starting to have more of those happy days but I have enough of the others to mess with my mind.

I’m the end result of this hate. So many grow up into flawed adults who’ve never had the chance to heal and cope with the pain they’ve endured. It’s been twenty years and I still can hear my father’s voice yelling that I was going to hell and telling me that I was going to die alone in the hospital of AIDS. Those are words you never get rid of. You learn to detach the power cord but they’re still there.

Sometimes I just want to yell bloody murder. Will someone see me for who I am? and not the person they want me to be. For too long I didn’t think I deserved anything good, including love. So while I might still hate parts of myself I now know that I deserve wonderful things including kindness and love. I still struggle with believing I will find it but that’s just another thing I’m dealing with.

I wish people like the activist mommy could see our pain. See all our tears. I have to leave the situation knowing that they’re flawed and can’t see anything but their fears.

How do you combat someone like the activist mommy? Say what you want to her. Troll her with rainbow reactions but do something more than that. Reach out to someone you love who is struggling or even not. Someone in your life who is lgbtqai. They’ve probably just as scared as I am with the world we live in and could use the support. Just a simple I love you and I’m there will do. That’s what pride really is about. It’s celebrating our freedom from this hate and celebrating what being gay is all about… love and fabulousness.

I’ve never really questioned whether I was gay or not. For the most part I have loved being gay, it’s what makes me special. Though I’ve not always seen it as a gift. There was a time I tried to hide my fabulousness. I had guys make me less because of my femininity saying things to me like you’re too much like a girl, like that was a bad thing. So I tried to fit in. It was easy to do in the bear community with my size and facial hair. It wasn’t until I dressed in drag that I finally felt in touch with the person I was born to be. It was the first time that I had ever felt beautiful. Honestly I feel more like a woman than I do as a man. I recently have been describing myself as queer. It’s been rather liberating.

I’m learning to embrace who I am. So if you’re reading this and you’re going through something similar… hang on… weather out the storm. There are kind people out there. When you see people like the activist mommy remember like Glinda the good witch says, they have no power over you. If you’re living in this hell reach out to someone at school, a friend… A great resource is the Trevor Project if you can’t find anyone locally. They will help anyone including adults. You can always send me a message here as well too.

I’m with you and some many of us are. I will fight for you until I die. I’m learning to fight for myself but I will always have time for you. We’re worth it.

So activist mommy you have no power over me and others like me,  so be gone… <throws a proverbial bucket of glitter>

Huggs

SOURCES:
[1] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) {2013 Aug. 1}.  Available from:www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars.

[2] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[3] James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.

[4] Family Acceptance Project™. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics. 123(1), 346-52.

[5] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[6] IMPACT. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health. 100(12), 2426-32.

 

The Fear is Real

If you’re on facebook or any other social media the days after Trump won (not fairly) the election you saw your fears come to life. If you were half of America (or at least those who voted for Hillary) you knew what was at stake. That’s why so many of us were shocked because we couldn’t believe in a world where such a hateful person could become President. So when Trump kept winning states you saw your fear grow. For me, it grew to the point where I was in the middle of a massive panic attack… full meltdown mode.

Having lived in a world full of hate growing up I knew what was at stake and what it would mean if Trump was elected. I had first hand knowledge what that kind of hate does to your soul. It rips you apart like a forest fire. That kind of hate leaves nothing behind but a blackened skeleton. That’s what many of us are fearing from a Trump Presidency.

The day after the election it was very clear that our fears were justified as the news of people already being at the end of hate from the supporters of Trump. From swastikas spray painted on buildings in NYC to actual physical altercations with Trump supporters. On Wednesday,  a female student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was beaten, robbed and had her hijab ripped off by two men. Trump winning has given his supporters validation that their racist, discriminatory beliefs are just and apart of making America great again.

It’s only four days and we have enough examples of hate in action to fill up a book. Gay people are being harassed more. Anyone who might look hispanic is told to go back to Mexico. Disabled people are being called the R word. Muslims are being targeted, so are African-Americans. Anyone who doesn’t look like a Trump supporter is a target. Trump winning gave them an excuse to remind everyone that they’re going to make America great by going back to a time where black people were segregated, women belonged in a kitchen and gay people were forced to stay in the closet. How far back do they want to go? Back before women could vote or to the days of slavery.

We live in a time that’s more progressive but this election is proof that there are millions of people stuck in the 50s. They feel they’ve been left behind when in reality the one one to blame for being stuck is themselves. Change is a part of life and if you don’t move with it you’ll get left behind. Those who want to make America great again have felt out of control seeing all the changes that they don’t approve of, that go against their God/religion. Marriage equality was the last straw for these people. So of course the only choice was to vote for the man who’d save them. They’ll quickly learn that Trump was never on their side, he just used them. What will they do when they find out that he’s not going to build a wall or doesn’t reverse marriage equality?

It goes much deeper than fearing for our safety and lives because a Trump presidency will make our lives much harder. We might be safe for now but the laws that Trump passes will make many people miserable including his supporters. I know a lot of people are saying that not everyone who voted for Trump are bad and that’s probably true but the fact remains that millions of people voted for Trump in spite of all the bad things he’s said and done. They were so willing to look past all the bad and what it would mean to minorities in order to not change their world. When in reality Trump isn’t the savior they’re looking for. Trump is like the dragon version of Republicans. He was loud and fiery but he wasn’t much different than most Republican politicians. Trump was created by the Republicans he’s the effect.

Trumps followers were led by fear like the pied piper. I know what it’s like to be led by fear. I grew up in a Southern Baptist family which was all fire and brimstone. Being gay was an abomination. During my teenage years I had this reoccurring nightmare of the end of the world and my name would never get called to go to heaven. This is what fear based teachings do, they brainwash you into believing whatever is told to you. So if you grow up in that world it’s hard to overcome it especially if you’re one of the black sheeps.

Fears are based on falsehoods. The longer you hold the fear, the larger it grows until you become the monster. My family is full of them. They have this way of thinking where the path to heaven is only for the few and if you don’t live life the right way you will burn in flames forever. Talk about being scared out of your mind as a child. The bigger the fear the person has the more they try to convince everyone else that they’re right. My father is a prime example. Growing up he would use to corner people trying to preach the word of God to them. It didn’t matter what the function was he’d go out of his way to save someone. At my cousin’s funeral he preached at my sister’s best friend. Yet if you looked inward to his own life you’d see that he wasn’t living by example.

Still to this day he’s the same way. He’s the typical Trump supporter. His facebook wall is full of hate. I recently had thought of giving him another chance. He even apologized to me a few years ago about how he approached Jesus with me. I was foolish to think he had changed. Seeing how he went on about Trump just reminded me why I stayed away from him. He’s toxic and it only means pain for me. He’s just one of many in my family. The election this year has been extremely triggering for me because the people Trump spoke to was my family. Family is suppose to protect you and lift you up, not vote against your rights and safety.

The greatest satisfaction has been knowing that I was able to get away from that hateful world. I have worked hard the past twenty years to get away from it and it hasn’t been easy. During my darkest days I had to remind myself that I had gotten away from that bad place. So to have it come crashing back around me when Trump won the electoral votes just devastated me. It felt like the ultimate defeat that hate won. The world became very scary knowing that millions of voters didn’t care if I had my rights and safety taken away. It’s bad enough when strangers do that to you but when it’s your own family it’s especially devastating. So not only did I grow up in a family full of hate I now had it validated by Trump’s supporters.

As scared as I am and stunned that I live in a world where he could be our President I can’t let that get in the way of my fight. The difference between now and then is that now I have this inner strength that I didn’t realize I had. I’ve had so much taken away that I’m willing to give anything else away anymore. I have this fire in me and I will fight anyone who tries to take away my rights and the others around me.

So bring it on Trump and his army of hate. I’m ready and so are the rest of us. If you think you’ll have it easy you will learn very quickly that you shouldn’t have messed with us. If we don’t fight for what’s right they will really win and we just can’t let that happen. America is already great because of the diverse population.

Just because when they go low, we go high it doesn’t mean that we won’t fight for our rights. So my brothers and sisters the time is now to prepare for January. Keep on letting your voice be heard. I know so many are wondering how they can help. One way you can help is by attaching yourself with the organizations that will come at risk during a Trump presidency like the ACLU, Sierra Club, NAACP, etc. by volunteering and donating to them. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

We need to keep up the protesting. My hope is that they will grow and take over more cities. We need to send a clear message to the world and the haters. A lot of people are scared including the rest of the world. Trump will be bad for everyone but the rich. If there isn’t a protest in your city/town form one. All it takes is a group of people gathering in public. We can’t give up now. The fight has just began. It’s going to be a long four years.

There are protests being held all over the country including overseas. A lot of them are organic and just happen at the spur of the moment. I’ve created a website to help mobilize the movement. To find protests visit:

http://www.lovealwaystrumpshate.org

https://www.facebook.com/lovealwaystrumpsh8/

If you know of a protest that’s not listed please let me know and I will add them. Hang in there everyone. Love will always prevail. While we might have lost the battle we will win the war. We have love and light on our side. Don’t ever forget that!

Huggs

I’m Unbreakable!

I had a light bulb moment today, rather bright one too. As I was walking home from my appointment this evening I had thought about some of my tough times. Walking for me isn’t easy. I’m 408 pounds (down from at least 425, probably closer to 450) and my knees aren’t in the greatest shape. So anytime I walk it’s rather painful. Often times I have this feeling of that I can’t make it. Feet turn into miles and I get these hallway moments like you see in the movies.

Tonight I pushed through that uncomfortable feeling as I knew I had to walk almost double what I normally do one way. I purposely planned on doing my assessment for therapy and psychiatry services at the end of my appointment to get blood drawn, as I knew I could walk home afterwards. So rather than have the medical transport driver take me home, I had him drop me off at my appointment. Initially I thought about doing on another day, which meant walking there and back. I figured I was less likely to go as the assessment was just a walk in. So having something scheduled would make me complete it. For someone with a mental illness, not having a therapist is problematic. I had struggled to find a place that took my insurance and thankfully my primary care doctor recommended this place.

It wasn’t until after 4pm that I finished the assessment. I hadn’t ate since 10pm last night, so I was starving. So I decided to walk to the Panda Express which I thought was closer than it really was, which made my walk home even longer than I originally anticipated. I will be honest, my first thought was to take the bus home. As I was eating in the nice air conditioned restaurant I saw the bus stop. It was hot out and I really didn’t want to walk home. Well the bus gods were not on my side today, as the last stop had come and gone. So I reluctantly made the truck home. Thankfully I had a soda to keep me refreshed and I just told myself that I would take a lot of breaks. I don’t do very well in the full sun, it drains my energy very quickly. Fat people aren’t meant to be out in the sun, we’re much like vampires.

I normally walk to the local grocery store, well at least the two times I went walking. One way it’s about a half mile if I don’t take any shortcuts and I usually do. Each way I have to take at least two breaks. By the time I’m home I’m usually pretty beat. So going home tonight I had to go twice as far one way. My first thought was take take a bunch of breaks. It helps to make the trip not so daunting but then I saw the time and it was getting close to the time I meet with all my neighbors. We sit around talking about everything. I call it the meeting of the minds. It’s really my highlight of my day. I wake up looking forward to it. I wasn’t going to miss tonight or be late. So I decided that I was going to cut my breaks in half. It was kind of a challenge to see how quickly I could get home. Each stop I barely sat for two minutes and off I went. By the last stop, which was almost 1/4 of the way home, I was exhausted and wanting to quit. That just wasn’t an option for many a reasons. I started to feel defeated again and then I thought about the hard times that I had endured throughout my life.

That’s when the light bulb exploded. Through all the suffering, pain and hard times I was still here. All those moments that I thought I had broken in two were just an illusion. Feeling broken isn’t something new for me but this last time felt definitive. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to come back from losing my Mom. It was the ultimate defeat. I thought I was broken for good and I mean completely severed in two broken. Even in the toughest time in my life I was still alive and well, then it dawned on me…

I’m UNBREAKABLE!!!

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It was the greatest energy boost I could get. The rest of the way I just booked it home. It felt like I was running a marathon and was on the last leg to the finish line. I was determined to get home in time for the meeting of the minds and I did. As I made it to the lawn on the comlex I collapsed on the ground and just stared up into the blue sky and felt great. I took a deep breath and got up to go inside. The person I was two months ago would have never went downstairs to do some more walking in order to socialize with others both due to physical and mental reasons but today was different. I took another quick break in front of the chair. I got freshened up, grabbed my lawn chair and my water and I was out the door within ten minutes of getting home.

I made it on time too. We usually meet around 6:30 pm and  that’s when I got there. I was the first one. 7 pm rolled by and I was still alone. Then a few minutes later one of the residents came by and sat with me. I was so relieved. I thought I was going to be alone and that made me sad. When I don’t get to have my visits it’s a major bummer. So we sat and for an hour and talked. It was really nice. It feels great to be apart of the community. This complex I live at is unlike any other apartment complex that I’ve lived in before. Once a week on Tuesdays the complex has a coffee and donuts gathering in the community room at 8:30 AM. I’m not a morning person at all so today was the first day I was able to get up in time to make it, which was torture seeing all those donuts and not be able to eat them due to my lab appointment at 2 PM. So I took two of them home. It took all the willpower I had to not eat them. I put them aside and took a quick nap before my appointment.

All I could think about today was getting to have a donut. I wasn’t thinking about not being able to eat until evening when I scheduled my ride for so late in the afternoon. So I was starving. Finally after a long, productive day I was able to eat my donut at 8 PM and it was delicious! This football shaped long john donut felt like the reward from my marathon win and I enjoyed it.

Back to being unbreakable. Yes, I’m long winded, this I know. It was a huge revelation to have. This week hasn’t been very easy, well since Friday. Honestly it’s probably been the toughest few weeks in regards to my mental health since 2005. For a survivor of sexual abuse and one that has PTSD having flashbacks is a very common thing. As common they are each one is just as unsettling and jarring as the last one. Last Friday was the four year anniversary of my Mom’s death. Not thinking about what day it was I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for that day but I didn’t think about it until I was in room waiting for the doctor. Each minute that passed that room began to turn into my Mother’s hospital room. Even the nurses desk reminded me of the nurses station in the ICU unit my Mom was in.

September 9, 2012 was the day a hole was punched through my heart. I spent the last 21 days in her ICU room, rarely did I leave the room. I slept on the small couch in her ICU room, well slept isn’t really what it should be called. Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time with a loved one in a hospital room knows what it’s like. Still to this day hearing the beeps from the machines send me panicking. The day she died was the worst day in my life. It was also the scariest and most alone day too. She had a rare form of Cancer and we had to travel to Nashville for anyone to help her, which was over nine hours from home in Michigan.

My Mom had stabilized and things weren’t looking good but we still had hope. My sister had just left to go home for a few days as the kids were starting school. Her stats has improved slightly.  There was no indication that things would go the way they did. She was stable and we held onto hope that she would recover. The next day I was awoken to my Mom being surrounded by Doctors, nurses and medical staff. Her one good lung (and that wasn’t the greatest) had collapsed and they had to put in an emergency tube into her chest to inflate the lung again. I was rushed out of the room not really knowing what was going on. They finally were able to stabilize her and I was relieved.

The next morning at 5AM I was awoken again to her being surrounded. This time things were much worse. Her kidneys were failing. They told me that they were going to put her on dialysis and that if things didn’t improve in four hours that she wasn’t going to make it. Again I was in shock but I held onto hope. Four hours passed and she didn’t improved. There was nothing more that they could do and wasn’t sure how much longer she’d live. Here I was in a foreign city, alone and eight hours away from home and everyone I loved. I never felt so hopeless and alone. I had no one to turn to. No one to help me. Normally my Mother was the person I ran to when I needed help and this time the woman who was always there for me was dying in front of me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop it. I sat behind the nurses station in shock. I felt like I was five years old again. My Mom’s last 21 days of her life she was on a breath machine so she was never awake after she went in for surgery. Never did we think that the words she spoke when she was taken in for her second surgery would be her last but they were. I wish I remember what she said…

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The last moments of her life was probably the most peaceful moment in my life. When she was taken off life support there was no movement or even a gasp. She laid there still as I watched her flatline. It wasn’t like you see in the movies. It felt like I could feel every last heartbeat. It was slow, almost eurythmic. She was gone. I felt so horrible for my sister who didn’t make it back in time before she died. Call it plausible deniability but up until the last hour of her life I still had so much hope. It never dawned on me that she could die from the surgery. I’m the biggest fear of death and I thought it would have come up prior but it didn’t. We anticipated a long road of recovery for my Mom but that wasn’t the case.

The next day we left Nashville but my heart/soul stayed in that hospital room. For over a year I spent every day in that room. I could close my eyes and I would end up back in that room. Even sleeping I would still be in that room. I almost thought I was never going to find a way out but eventually one of the doors was a way out. I was constantly in a flashback. Things got so bad that I had to be hospitalized and that helped me out of that room through therapy and medicine. I’ve worked very hard to stay out of that room and it’s been one of the toughest things for me. PTSD wasn’t something new as I have it with the abuse but this time it almost did me in… but it didn’t. I have spent a good portion of my adult life in and out of the hospital with depression and the PTSD but this time seemed final.

I thought I was broken for good and no amount of tape would put his humpty dumpty back together. I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be fully there for the rest of my life. I had gave up and didn’t want to fight anymore. I didn’t want to die anymore but I didn’t want to live either. So for almost three years I was a zombie. I lived in the land of the inbetweens. This year has been quite different (some by force) as I have this resolve and determination that I haven’t had before. A kind of fuck this shit attitude and I don’t mean the kind that you just don’t care about anything. The kind that you do care so much that you’re not willing to put up with the shit you use to. I’ve done my fair share of settling. I guess that’s what I was, I was settled into the fact that I was going to be half a person for the rest of my life.

Well not anymore. I have this willpower that’s intoxicating. I feel like I have on these boxing gloves that won’t come off. I’m kicking butt and taking names. I’m determined to build a better life for myself. A world with stability built on a solid foundation. So tonight I was reminded of all this. Through so many hard moments I was still alive and well, and still kicking. All this time I thought it had KO’ed me but it didn’t… not even close. I didn’t realize this until tonight as I was hot and tired, feeling like I was going to give up. I thought about my current pain and the pain I’ve endured the past thirty years and it didn’t even measure up to what I’ve went through.

I’ve been kicked down so many times, treated poorly and told I was worthless. For thirty years I’ve listened and took it to heart. I’ve believed everyone who has hurt me especially the ones who were suppose to love and protect me. I thought they didn’t love me because I was lacking something but all this time it was them and not me. These moments, those teardrops were all a reflection of them and who they were as a person. They were the ones who were without.

So Friday was a really tough day. I was stuck in this hospital room in a PTSD bubble. I was in full trigger mode. I could feel myself floating out of the room. I wanted to run as fast I could but I had the strength of mind to know that I needed to stay there in order to get the help I needed. So I pushed through. I was put through even more obstacles with the new doctor as he didn’t have the greatest bedside manner. I was already out of the room by that moment and I could feel myself go further away. I started to do some grounding exercises. I started to tap my leg repeatedly so fast it felt like I was in the middle of Kentucky Derby. Thankfully the student doctor was a woman and was very kind. She helped me gain exposure. I was in the middle of a major panic attack, probably the worst one in ten years. Panic attacks weren’t something new to me, as I have had them throughout different times in my life. Though up until a few months ago I hadn’t had one in a very long time. That was part of the reason I was there to see the doctor was for my anxiety. I had started to flashback about everything and I mean everything. Every bad moment in my life was being played back like I was in a movie theatre full of people.

Not only did I push through, I stood up for myself… which hasn’t always been my strong suit. I will take care and advocate fiercely for other people but my own. The Doctor was dangerously uninformed with the LGBTQ community and HIV/AIDS. He had referred to being negative as being clean… which is a huge NO NO as it’s deeply degrading. You get clean in a shower, not when you’re negative. I let him have it and I even wrote a complaint on the organization’s website. He was also very uninformed with the drug PrEP. It’s sad when the patient knows more about something than the doctor. I had also been fasting as I was hoping to get a glucose test completed because I’m prediabetic. My appointment was at 2:30pm and the doctor didn’t even get in my room until 4pm. So I had waited almost an hour in that room, in a panic attack and deep in a PTSD cycle. It was tough but I did. They kept me waiting so long that I missed the lab hours by thirty minutes as I didn’t get out until after 5pm. So I had fasted for nothing. I was triggered, angry and starving but I didn’t let it defeat me. I just pushed on and did what I had to do. That’s what I’ve always done. I might not be good at many things but I’m an expert at surviving.

Usually when I have a PTSD episode it can take me a week to come out of it but that night I was outside sitting with the residents like nothing had happen. That was new for me and it felt great. I still wasn’t close to 100% but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying my nightly visits with the round table, that’s what I call it. While I was aware of a lot that day it didn’t dawn on me that I was still full in the PTSD cycle. When I’m triggered friends and family become strangers, and strangers become enemies. Nothing and no one is safe. It’s like living in a war zone. It’s a horrible place to be. I have had episodes where I have hid underneath my desk at work, or barricaded my door.

Writing for me has always been a great release. It’s like journaling for me. Often times I don’t have anyone to talk to, so blogging helps with that. Therapy is the one time I have to talk and I don’t have that right now. Hopefully that will change soon as I did the assessment today and have the intake on Thursday. As I had said previously lately I’ve been having flashbacks about everything including the sexual abuse. The last ten years the sexual abuse hasn’t been on the forefront of my problems. I knew the pain was still there but it didn’t cause me a lot of problems, well at least not indirectly or at least I thought. Recently I’ve realized that monster has always been there, it was the puppet master directing me all this time. For the past ten years I didn’t want to talk about the abuse in detail. I could tell people it happened but I couldn’t go into detail it was just too hard. My latest therapist I saw her for one and half years and I never went into detail with her. Trust is huge when dealing with sexual abuse and that takes a long while.

Here’s the thing about trauma and pain, no matter how hard you try to hide it eventually the pain will seep through the cracks. My latest living situation reminded me of some bad times in my life, the early years. So it has triggered the sexual abuse, the mental abuse from my father and the loss of my Mom, and everything hurt in between. As I was writing my last post I began to open the gate and I was flooded by emotion. It felt like I was drowning.

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Very quickly my room turned into the room where I was molested. I was transported back to that time, very much like the other world in Stranger Things except the monster was my cousin. There was no escaping him and when I returned home just like Will I was never the same. So at 5am Monday morning I was back at that cabin on Long Lake in Michigan in the year 1986. I relived every scary, dirty moment. I mean everything. It was like it was happening for the first time. I reached out and could touch the walls. The other times I’ve been so triggered it ended with me being hospitalized. I was almost there but again I pushed through. The next day I felt horrible I didn’t end up getting to bed until noon but I made sure to wake up for my nightly visits with my neighbors. Again I pushed through the pain. It was tough to push through and remind myself that these people weren’t strangers, out to hurt me but I did it!

In the past, after a major PTSD episode I withdraw from everything and everyone. There have been times that I haven’t left the house for weeks. Everything goes downhill. I stop caring about anything including my personal grooming habits. I become more depressed until it gets so severe it snaps me out of it. That’s the worse thing about PTSD often times you don’t realize you’ve been triggered until weeks later. The last bad episode in May of 2013 I was in the middle of a month long trigger and I almost killed myself but yesterday was different. The past two months no matter what’s been thrown at me I’ve dodged every attack and jumped every hurdle. The more that’s thrown at me the stronger and more willful I become.

Tonight I was able to look back at the past four days and see all the strength in between all the bad moments. It’s never been not being strong enough. It’s always been not realizing how strong I really am. Looking back I just saw how strong I always was. I wasn’t the shadow, I was the tree… strong rooted in the earth and fuck anyone who tries to tell me otherwise. I don’t believe them anymore. Thirty years of deep suffering and pain, and I’m stronger than ever! It’s taken thirty years to discover that I’m UNBREAKABLE!!! So watch out world, I’m coming for you.

I will do what I’ve always done, get shit done. So if you try to stand in my way I’m just going to jump right over you. Obstacles don’t have a hold of me anymore. It’s not to say that tomorrow isn’t going to be easy because I know that healing takes a lot of hard work. Setbacks are normal and expected but the key is to get back up. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, just as long as you keep doing it you will be golden. It would be nice if I could say tomorrow won’t be as hard as the last but I know that’s not how life works. I have to open back the wounds and heal some more. To get to where you need to go sometimes you have to travel back through the place that scares you the most. I think it’s important to remember that no matter what you endure in the future you’ll never be back to that moment in time. It might feel like you’re stuck in the past but really that’s just a lie. Nothing can hurt me any more deeply than losing my Mom and the abuse did. The flashbacks are bound to happen again and it might be just as severe if not more but I now realize that I have the tools to fight them. I have my sword and shield to battle all the demons. Plus I have my Mom who is now my guardian angel.

So the moral of the story is we’re much stronger than we realize. We wouldn’t have gotten this far if we weren’t. Surviving is the hardest thing in this world to do and once you’ve done enough of it you become a warrior. We are warriors. I’m ready for wherever the universe wants to take me and I will do whatever I have to in order to be happy. Everyone deserves that.

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Escaping the Lion Den

TRIGGER WARNING for those survivors of sexual abuse/assault I talk about my childhood sexual abuse in detail. I also talk about sex in general, so if that makes you feel uncomfortable you might not want to read any further… 

 

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As I listen to Sia’s new song, “The Greatest.” I thought about how I felt yesterday. A prisoner of the sexual abuse. For too long I’ve been a prisoner of something that I didn’t do. It might have happened 30 years ago but I’m still chained to that cement block deep within the pits of hell. Stuck in the lion’s den waiting for it to clinch its sharp teeth into my flesh, ripping me from limb to limb.

I find myself in these situations where I do things that I don’t like. I force myself to do them. I wondered why that is? What is it about myself that I put myself in situations that are ugly or at least feel ugly. I’ve really tried to dissect the reasoning behind it. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s like I relive those days over and over. Am I trying to control the past? Do I think I can fix it? It’s not something you can fix. My mind knows this but my heart doesn’t.

Maybe the why’s don’t matter but I’d like some insight in order to gain will power. I don’t like to be in those situations. It’s pretty common for sexual abuse survivors to have a complicated and complex sexuality, especially if it happens when you’re a child and/or teenager. It’s especially complex if you’re in the middle of puberty. The abuse becomes hardwired into the person you’re blossoming into. So by the time you hit adulthood you’ve based your world on a lie. That you’re worthless and an object for men to use and abuse… however they see fit. You don’t matter. As an I adult I know that’s a lie but as a child I didn’t. I created a universe where I wasn’t worthy of love both platonic and romantic.

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For a good thirty years I’ve let the abuse weigh me down. I’ve become a prisoner to it. The abuse metaphorises into various aspects of my left. I’ve settled so many times that I built a house upon that shaky foundation. A house filled with bars and no doors. A deep pit with no way out. Life has always been complicated for me. I’ve struggled more times than not. Until recently I was bogged down by it all. Tonight I started to go down that road by thinking something negative. This time it was I can’t do this but before I could even finish the sentence I stopped myself. Not today Satan I said. I can listen to those voices anymore. They’ve always led me wrong.

This certainly hasn’t been the first time in my life that I’ve struggled but I’ve noticed this conviction that I didn’t see before. A kind of fuck it attitude. When you stop giving a shit (about the bad stuff and the people hurt you) you release their control on you. So when a new hurdle is thrown at me I clear it easily. Each climb up the mountain I become stronger. Nothing or no one will keep me down. I haven’t always felt that way.

Coping skills are something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always had the toolbox but I didn’t believe I deserved to use them. If you’ve been put through enough in your life you eventually have this WTF moment and say wait a minute. I don’t deserve this. It’s when you become so miserable that you can’t stand yourself. In the past when someone hurt me I would take it personal like it was reflection of who I was and my loveability.

The sexual abuse was the first time I personalized something that someone else did to me. It wasn’t my choice. Being gay and a sexual abuse survivor also presents many complications especially if you’re love life has mirrored that first violent act. Being a victim and an object became apart of my personality. It taught me to give myself to those who don’t deserve it. So it’s not surprising that I’ve gravitated towards those are unworthy of my love and attention.

Acting out sexually isn’t something new for me. I went through a very dark period of my life where I was very sexually promiscuous. Sex became a compulsion. I can remember exactly when I started to go down that dark path. I had fell in love with this man who just used me for sex and put me in harms way. I stayed with him even afterwards thinking I could get him to love me and it never happened. That act reinforced the abuse. When you’re gay and your abuser is also a male it really fucks you up. Love and sex are cemented together. You’re first rejection is your abuser, or at least it was for me. He groomed me to fall in love with him then when I was hooked he rejected me in a violent way. I still have the scars.

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I was forced into puberty before I was ready. It was a violent non-violent act. I guess in a way I was raped. Wow, I had never thought about being forced into puberty. I was ten years old if that. I didn’t even know what sex was let alone an ejactulation. Back then parents didn’t have those kind of conversations about the birds and the bees or at least not that early. I didn’t have the luxury of time. I still remember the first night and the pain I felt. Becoming a man is a right of passage but when the first time is forced upon you then it becomes a nightmare. Prior to that night I never had any sexual feelings whatsoever.

You can imagine not knowing what was happening to your body. I thought I was dying. I wasn’t allowed to have self exploration to decide what I liked and didn’t. Actions turned into words, words into feelings. After he was done.  I waited for him to fall asleep then I went into the shower and tried to scrub the dirtiness off. While I didn’t know what happened I knew it was wrong. There wasn’t enough soup in the world to wash away the shame. I finally gave up and went back into the lion’s den, the bed we were sharing.

You might be asking yourself why would he go back to that bed??? I’ve asked myself that a million times. After I got out of the shower I went towards the room my parents were sleeping. I even went up to their door to knock but I stopped myself. I thought they’d never believe me that my male cousin did what he did. I didn’t even know how to put into words what happen. My family had a tendency to not believe when I told them something, so I thought why would this be any different?

Actually I skipped a step. I didn’t go back into that room right away. I went to sleep on the couch in the cabin we were staying at. Every year my whole family would go on vacation up north in Michigan. Sometimes we would share a cabin. This summer was one of those occasions so that meant kids sharing beds. I can remember that cabin very distinctly like I was just there. Everything from the hallways to the kitchen. I can close my eyes and I’m there. The room especially I remember. It’s probably because that’s what I concentrated on when it was happening. I hid underneath my pillow praying for someone to rescue me but no one came to save me. I remember this small window with white sheer curtains. I can feel how rough the knotted wood walls were. I can see the upright small shower with my tears in the drain. I see it all.

 

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This isn’t the sofa but it’s close. It was firm and not comfortable at all. It has that weird pattern that a lot of furniture had in the 80’s.

I remember the color, pattern and feel of the couch I laid on until sunrise. As to not be suspicious I went back to the monster bed. I had no excuses to give whey I was sleeping on the couch. I woke up like nothing happened but it had. My soul was forever altered. While I remember everything about that night I don’t even remember what happened thereafter. Well until the next night when I had to go back into the lion’s den. I knew my parents would question why I didn’t want to sleep in that bed so I went back. I had thought maybe it won’t happen again but it did. It was like that night was on repeat. I would lay down pretending to sleep, hiding in my pillow and it would happen.

Again I’d wait until he was sound asleep. I would quietly sneak away like a mouse to try to shower off the filth so much that it burned. I would lay back down on that couch letting my tears turn into rain. Somehow I knew when to wake up in time to go back to that room. After that night I lost track of when the abuse stopped. Sometime in the week, as our vacations only lasted a week. Each night I would repeat the steps until they became an instructional manual of who I was.

I hid that secrets for over three years. I told a good friend when I was in 8th grade for the first time. I didn’t tell anyone else until I graduated High School in 1995, seven years later.

The bed is suppose to be a sanctuary of rest and relaxation but for a sexual abuse survivor who was assaulted in their bed that turns into hell.

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Thirty years and it just dawned on me that I’m still doing the same thing. I keep going back into the lion’s den because that was what I was taught to do. Yesterday as I was in the middle of a sex act I looked at the person and thought this wasn’t what I wanted. I thought to myself what in the world was I doing. My mind knew this was harmful but I keep doing it. I would initiate the victimization that I was doing to myself. I’ve been reliving that night over and over for the past thirty years.

For the past four years I wanted very little to do with sex. I was rather repulsed by it most the time. I either go from not wanting to be touched to wanting to have sex all the time. There are no inbetweens. Now that I live in place where I can have people over I have the opportunity to act out. Loneliness leads to desperation which leads to sex and usually bad feelings. A good portion of my sexual experiences I’ve showered afterwards just like I did that week. Each time it would never wash away the shame, guilt or dirtiness of it all. More than half the sexual partners I’ve had I haven’t enjoyed nor found the person attractive. I would get myself in the situation and want out but didn’t feel obligated to end it. So I gave the person what they wanted. For a long while I was always in control with the sex but I was still the victim. Two tortured souls using each other. It was still doing the same thing. Repeating the abuse over and over until it resulted into bloodshed.

While I’m not in full sexual compulsion I’m on the outer edge and that frightens me. Those days were some of my darkest. During 2004-2005 most sex acts ended in me being suicidal, and in two circumstances ended with me being hospitalized. I was self destructing in the way of unprotected sex and useless sex. I was giving guys what they wanted. I thought if someone I love was going to use me I might as well be the one giving it away, then no one could take it away from me again but that’s just as harmful… giving it up.

I’m still giving it up. Giving the person what they wanted even if it means harm to me. It usually means giving the person what they wanted in them wanting to get used. I become the monster in their nightmare but they don’t even realize that it’s a nightmare as it masks itself as a wet dream. So many gay men have been hurt and are reliving it daily. So desperate for love that they resort to the next best thing which isn’t.

Love for a survivor is also complicated because at an early age you get an altered view of what love is. I became attached to my abuser so much that I would find myself trying to get myself in the same situation that caused me so much pain. So not only do you have the shame of the abuse happening but the shame of enjoying parts of it. The sexual abuse was all I knew about sex, so therefor I thought that’s what love was. So I wanted the attention and affection that went along with it. I went from complete agony from what happened for the first year to fantasizing about it when I truly hit puberty. I wasn’t allowed to fantasize about the things gay youth do both because of the abuse and being in a homophobic family. So all I had to go by what happened to me. So that just added to the shame. How could I fantasize about something that destroyed me.

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I was a child I didn’t know better. I was groomed to behave the way I did. Even when I grew into my teenage years I still didn’t have sexual feelings for either of the opposite sex, other than my abuser. Each time I would you know what I would feel the same kind of shame and dirtiness I felt when the abuse happened. Each time I prayed to God saying I wouldn’t do it anymore and I would always fail. I took the blame right away when it wasn’t mine to carry. As I grew older the shame and guilt grew with me. It wasn’t until 2000 until I started to deal with the abuse deeply. It was during this time that I began to realize that I wasn’t to blame.

It wasn’t then that I came out about the second part of the abuse where I’d go out looking for it. That I had never told anyone. For many years I harbored so much shame and felt like I was the monster because I wanted it. The first time I tried to get in the same situation with my cousin was when we were a few years older. Our families were on vacation together, this time everyone had their own separate cabins. I desperately tried to find a reason to sleep in the same bed as him. I don’t know how I did it but I did. All I wanted was to be close to him. I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. Again I woke to him pleasuring me but this time orally. Again I didn’t know what in the world he was doing. I didn’t know what oral sex was. I tried to get him off of me but he wouldn’t budge. Again I was scared until ejaculation happened then it was this intense pleasure.

The next day I felt the shame. I was for sure that I had AIDS, that’s how misinformed I was about sex. I mean I thought people had babies by touching feet for the longest time. I didn’t know any better. I would continue to get myself in similar situations the next year or so. Situations where he’d pretend to be sleeping and he’d perform oral on me. I didn’t realize until an adult that he wasn’t sleeping. All that time I thought I was forcing myself onto him. It wasn’t until my therapist told me that you can perform oral when you’re sleeping. I really thought he was. The first time it happened I didn’t initiate it at all, he did it all on his own doing but after that I was the pursuer. I held a great amount of shame and guilt for that part, I still do.

Once he started High School he was done with me. It was the first time I had my heart broken, how fucked up is that? He got me hooked then he threw me away as I was nothing. I was nothing. What pleasure I had went away very quickly, after the rejection. The personalization of the event grew deeper as I was forced to live in his shadow. Chad was the star of the family and our High School. All the girls wanted him and all the boys wanted to be like him. To my family he could do no wrong. He lived with my grandmother down the street from me. My grandmother didn’t drive so my Mom drove him to wherever he wanted to. It killed me seeing how my own parents were with him. I grew up thinking they loved him more than me. Eventually I believed they didn’t love me at all. That they’d rather have him as a son than me. I barely could get the attention I so desperately needed from my own Father yet my abuser earned it freely from my Father. I wasn’t like my Father at all. I didn’t hunt nor did I play sports but my he did. I cried myself so many nights feeling unloved.

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Growing up I was always bullied, especially on the bus. It was like I was his property coming to my aid but then turning it back towards me. It was like he didn’t want anyone bullying me but him. He had this cocky, better than though attitude. I remember one day he noticed that my fingernails were growing out a bit and he scolded me for not cutting them. To this day if anyone says anything similiar to me I get triggered horribly. I always worry people are judging me on whether my fingernails or toenails are too long. Just yesterday I was hiding my feet from my neighbors as we sat besides the pool talking. They weren’t even that long but they were long enough for me to be embarrassed. That’s how an abuser gets inside your head. No matter how hard you try to untangle the wires inside your mind you always get trapped in them.

I had started to discover that I was gay in my junior year of High School. I didn’t know my attraction towards other men meant I was gay. I remember finding a straight porn advertisement pamphlet on the street and getting excited by the men in it. After then I would try to find anything with naked men in it. I would find the artistic male model magazines in bookstores like Barnes and Noble and stare at their bodies. I was fascinated with their figures and it wasn’t quite sexual feelings. I didn’t really start having those until I was in my 20’s. I would call these party chat lines and listen to the guys talk. I found comfort in hearing their voices and again it wasn’t sexual for me. I longed for the affection again.

Eventually I couldn’t take the lying, hiding and being something I wasn’t. My Mom found the numbers of the chat lines. I remember she confronted me about them before our trip to Disney. She asked me what the numbers were and I acted like I didn’t know. She dropped the issue and I had thought she had forgot about it until we got back from Disney. She confronted me and asked me if I was gay. At that time I didn’t even know that I was so I said no. I then pretended to be confused about girls, which I had never any thoughts about girls in that way but to get her off my back I acted like I was insecure with them. I remember one night pretending to go on a date with a female classmate as a cover. Instead I went to a 50’s restaurant by myself.

The following year my Mom would ask me about how things were going on the girl front and I pretended to like one of my good friends. When I graduated High School I used the money I received from my open house to buy a computer. Living in a rural area I wasn’t exposed to much culture or anyone like me. Being able to get online opened me to a brand new world full of people just like me. It was then when I realized that I was gay. I was also able to find support with other male survivors. I remember this one penpal I had who I had a huge crush on. I never saw his picture but I still remember how his letters made me feel. Finally I was talking with others who had experienced the same thing as me. Up until that time I thought I was alone.

Well my parents began to question why I was online all the time. Again I was confronted with questions this time more sternly. I couldn’t take it anymore and burst out that I was gay and had been molested. The dam had broke and the emotions flooded out. Well that didn’t go well at all. The abuse to a backseat to being gay. I had my internet took away, including my phone. I was forced into isolation and I was shut out of the new world. Shunned, scared and alone. That event just reinforced what I had felt the four years prior with my parents not loving me. I was treated horribly and shunned for who I loved. I was told the friends that I had made online weren’t going to be there for me when I was dying from AIDS in the hospital all alone. My father also told me that I had always wanted to lose weight and that I would by getting AIDS. I was called abnormal. Told I was going to hell. My mother cried for weeks.

If I hadn’t been fully broken that ripped me in half. 

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Originally I wouldn’t tell my Mom who it was that abused me. The next day she forced it out of me. While my Mom wasn’t supportive of me being gay she was finally with the abuse. My Father was a different story. The day after telling them what my cousin did my Father went hunting with him. When my Father returned he saw how upset I was and he told me that I needed to forgive and forget. I still remember that moment as it happened today. It still hurts me just the same. Twenty years and it still pierces my skin, cutting me to the core.

Coming out about the abuse I became an outcast in my extended family. I was the black sheep. In our family we didn’t talk about the sexual abuse that happened to most of the cousins in my family and we had a big family. The adults let the monster walk around in open like nothing had ever happened. My cousin wasn’t the monster. The mastermind of all the abuse was one of my older cousins. Who molested most of the cousins except me. Everyone knew what he did but they did nothing!!! They let him come to family functions and he paraded around like he was the shit. The one other time that someone spoke out about the abuse was my Mother years before I did. She confronted my Aunt (his mother) with what he did to my sister. My Aunt wouldn’t talk to my Mom for over a year afterwards.

Being gay was worse than being a child molester in my family. Now that’s fucked up but that was my reality but I couldn’t hide anymore so I had to live as lepar. It was my cross to bear and they nailed me to the cross. I was the monster for speaking out. How dare I bring shame to the family. I was suppose to be a good little boy and sweep it underneath the rug. My worst fears came true as many didn’t believe me. How could our poster boy for perfection do something like that. I must be lying. My relationship with my Grandmother ended as well and she cut me out. She was another person who was suppose to love me and treated me horribly. My Aunt laughed it off as boys will be boys, like we were playing in a fucking sandbox. What the fuck does that means??? I still can’t figure it out. Child Molesters are okay but being a democrat you’re the evil one to her. You should see her facebook wall littered with so much negativity it would turn Mother Teresa into a sinner.

I finally have the strength to realize that they’re the ones with the issue but it still hurts like hell. Even tonight I started to go down that road looking at her wall. I quickly closed out of the browser saying to myself that was all her, and had nothing to do with me. It felt good to be able to say that. My Father is the same way. It’s hate this and that. How can people live their lives like that. I don’t know how they sleep at night.

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Whenever one of the hurt souls tries to swim to swim to the surface towards the light all the other hurt souls desperately try to pull you back under. They don’t want you opening your wound as they fear they will have to open theirs. That’s how my family treated me. Why couldn’t I be like everyone else. They had to suffer in silence so why couldn’t I?

I use to hate my cousin. I still don’t like hearing his name, nor do I like seeing it written out. I avoid anyone with that name. I don’t trust them. I’ve forgiven his boy self but I’ve struggled to figure who he is as an adult. I realize that he was groomed as well by the main perp. Who still to this day has never had to pay for his violent sins. He destroyed so many lives. I blame the adults of the family just as much. I now blame him for my pain. I still have so much anger. I’ve let go of a lot of it but it still poisoned my blood. Another thing I need to work through.

All these things just reinforced that I was worthless, unloveable and an object. It also told me that I didn’t deserve anything good or pure. They taught me that I deserved less. When you are forced to live in hell you believe that’s all that’s out there. Everything is scary.

So I continued to search for others like the ones who caused me harm. Dating was no different. I went for the guys who were emotionally unavailable who discarded me when they were done, much like my cousin. I was rejected by most of the gay population for being fat and those who did find me attractive only wanted me for my body. Neither wanted me for my heart and soul. It slowly ate away at my soul until I had very left to give. Just lay there and take it. That’s all you’re good for. So I gave the men what they wanted.

I still find myself falling into that trap both inside and outside the bedroom. I don’t think I ever had stability in my life. I can’t run any longer as I’m too old and worn out. I’m so desperate for stability I can taste it. I’m tired of settling but growth takes time. You don’t build a world on lies then expect the new world to grow overnight. It doesn’t work that way.

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Lately my current living situation has mirrored many things in my life both with the sexual abuse and the dysfunctional dynamic at home. So much I’ve started to flashback about everything and I mean everything. It jars you, no matter how many times it happens. In a matter moments you’re transported back to that time and place. You can feel, hear and smell how everything was. Just a little bit ago I could smell the cologne my cousin use to wear. It was strong and unsettling.

You can’t control flashbacks, they just happen like dreams in the middle of the night. Last night was the worst flashback I’ve had in over ten years. The last time I had a flashback(s) this intense it sent me to the hospital. Thankfully this time it didn’t but it felt like I was close. I’m fearful that they’ll continue to grow. All I can do is wait at the battle line with my sword and shield. Flashbacks are very much like a battle in war. When the bomb is detonated you’re left to pick up the pieces and it can take days, sometimes weeks to adjust.

The sexual abuse hasn’t always affected me so deeply. I’ve gone periods where the beast was hibernating. While it didn’t affect me directly it was behind everything that caused me pain. It was the monster pulling my strings. The last ten years I didn’t want to talk about the abuse at all. Even in therapy recently it was a subject that was off limits for me. I could say it happened but I couldn’t give any details about it. This is the first time in ten years that I have opened the wound back up. Tonight was a sign that I have more work to do. I’ve uncovered a big heap of pain.

Now I see why I continue to lay down in the lion pit. It was how I was trained to be. I was told that I was meant to be torn apart by the lion. I was the meat, the prey. Well fuck that. I refuse to lie down any longer. The next time the lion comes to rip me apart I’m going to take my sword and pierce it’s heart.

“I’ve got stamina. 

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier”

derekredhair

If you’re a male survivor there is a great website for help/support:

http://www.discussion.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=cfrm

Support for sexual assault survivors (I’ve never used any of the websites below but found them on google and thought I’d share in case they’re helpful to someone). I wish I had a recommended site for Women. If anyone knows of one leave me a comment.

https://www.rainn.org/

http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/

http://www.aftersilence.org/forum/index.php

and a list of recommended books:

http://www.pandys.org/recommendedreading.html

You’re not alone. There’s a huge network of survivors in this world who know what you’re going through.

If you feel unsafe please consider calling The National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255) , 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

 

How to Become Un-Broken

This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately. How to fix what’s already broken. I’m not talking about a vase or mirror. I’m talking about the human spirit. Now some would argue that a human’s spirit can’t be broken but when you’re at that low point it’s hard to see outside in.

Life is full of ups and downs. You get knocked down and you get back up. Each time you’re knocked down afterwards it becomes more difficult to get back up. It starts off as a pebble and before you know it you’ve got a gigantic boulder. A boulder so heavy that it feels impossible to get back up.

After my Mom died (almost four years ago) I was kicked to the ground. It was the first time in my life that I’ve gone so long before getting back up. Losing my Mom wasn’t the first time I was knocked to the ground but it was a KO punch that’s kept me at the bottom. Most of my life I’ve felt broken but I’ve always mended the wound. I guess I’ve only patched the break but this time there was no denying I felt broken.

For me, the key will be not expecting to be put back together the way before the event because that will only set myself up for failure. There are just some things in life that can’t be fixed like my Mother’s death and the whole that was punched through my heart. No amount of therapy and growth will ever completely fill that hole. It’s a gaping hole that I need to cope with. Like having diabetes I have to manage the symptoms.

So rather than trying to fix what’s broken I guess I just need to start building a new model of myself. Start from scratch and build the life I want to. That’s not easy as I’ve got a lot of digging to do. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t see a clear path to happiness and freedom. I have an idea of who I want to become and what I want to do but nothing confirmed. Like I know I want to do something artistically related where I can give back to others.

Today I was reminded (again) of my impact on this world. Often times I’ve wondered how in the world can I help other people when I feel so broken? I’ve since realized that there is no time but then to share yourself. We live in a world full of hurdles, mountains to climb. I know that I’m not the only person struggling in life. So I guess I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and have faith that things will work out for me.

Having faith hasn’t always been my strongest quality. I struggle with it daily. I’ve failed a lot of times and it’s never easy. I’m tired of being disappointed. I recently watched a video of Oprah (who I love) and in the video she talks about failure. She says, failure is just there to point you in a different direction. It really opened my eyes about the failures in my life. I’ve always been a strong believer in good things can come from bad things. That doesn’t make it easier but there is some relief to know that the disappointment and rejection will propel you towards what you deserve and need.

After I came back from my art show in NYC last August I expected my life to change but instead I came home to a lot of emptiness both physically (as I gave away something very deep and precious to me) and mentally. In many ways life became more complicated afterwards, not easier like I thought. Each hurdle I jump I ask myself when will life get any easier. In my mind the experience of creating the tree and traveling to NYC for the show would propel me towards a life where I created full time. When that didn’t happen (yet) it became a reminder of my failures. That’s the difficult part when you’ve failed a lot, is not allowing past failures to add to the weight. I’ve struggled with overcoming it and it’s not a skill that I’ve quite mastered but I’m not giving up.

Each failure will lead you closer to what you need. I have to remind myself of this. If I didn’t get something is that it wasn’t meant for me to go down that road. There is something better out there for me. That’s where having faith comes in handy. It’s facing failure and knowing that it’s only a detour to get you back on track. I also think it’s important to remember that no many times you fail there’s never a point where you stop succeeding. You just need to keep putting yourself out there. Wave your arms about like a crazy person if you need to. Scream to the universe that you’re ready for whatever is out there.

So I guess that’s where I’m at today. I don’t quite feel as broken as I use to be but I still don’t feel I’ve moved much ground. I’m still unsure and uneasy. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% again but I have to keep trying. I won’t lie I’m beat. I’m worn out. I might be moving slowly but I still am moving. Even if it’s a snail pace, as a dear friend once told me, you’re still in motion.

Some days are harder than the other but I refuse to give up. It’s just not who I am. I’m tired of the rejection but I won’t let that stop me from living my dream. I just hope it happens sooner than later. I deserve to be happy and whole again, as we all do.

Depression Stigmata

I wish… that depression didn’t have such a stigma attached to it. I wish people wouldn’t question my symptoms because they can’t be seen like other illnesses. I wish I didn’t have depression but I do.

It’s easy to get trapped in thinking that you don’t deserve anything good especially kindness. Depression grabs ahold of you like cheetah to an antelope and it won’t let go until it’s gotten the kill.

Many times in my life I’ve felt weak, more times than not. Recently I was faced with something very difficult and the depression flood gates were opened wide up. The waves could have taken me under and washed me into sea but I stood still.

It’s not been easy. In a few days time I was transported to three years ago when I stuck in Nashville faced with the death of my sweet Mama. No matter how far I run I can’t see to get away from those two days. With the snap of my fingers I’m instantly transported back to that scary place. Where I’m alone and scared.

Even today I feel alone and scared but I refuse to give into the pain. I might end up homeless and alone but at least I’m still standing. No matter what is thrown my way I will survive it.

When you’ve faced depression head on for so many years you begin to rack up the scars. Look at them one by one and all you can see is the pain but if you’re able to look at them from afar you realize they’ve turned into armor.

The future is unknown. Even tomorrow is unknown. What I do know is that I deserve kindness. I deserve to be happy. We all do. I am not my depression. I’m so much more than that. So if you know someone struggling and you’re unsure how to handle the situation just show them kindness. We don’t expect anyone to solve our problems but a little kindness goes a long ways.