Day 24 – She’s Guilty!

After my abuse came out and my Uncle was arrested (see day 23), he was released in less than 24 hours. But that wasn’t the end of it.

He was never prosecuted, but I was. Let me tell you what happened.

In those days (1980), the victim had to prove a crime was really committed.

His story was that I approached him (not true) and that I was promiscuous. (Also not true).

I’ll never forget my first of many interviews with the State’s Attorney.

The questioning went something like this. “So, I understand you and said party had an affair”. I had no idea what the abuse should be called. So I said, “Yes sir”. The next question was something to the effect of me making advances towsard him. Also, I had used provacative language to entice him.

I sobbed and sobbed. I had no answers. I was frozen. Stuck. Terrified. After a bit of that, they decided to postpone the questioning to another day so that I could be coherent and believable.

The second time I went, I was extremely medicated by my doctor. At least I didn’t cry. But again, they ask for the questioning to be postponed.

The third time I went it was pretty much a repeat of the last. I was then asked to leave the room while the State’s Attorney told my parents he didn’t think we had a case. My parents chose to drop all charges against him.

I was relieved. I thought maybe my family would love me again. But the damage had already been done.

I can’t explain what it feels like to try and explain what you don’t understand. I never knew it was child abuse. All I knew at that point was that everyone, including my parents, was telling me how I had wrecked the family and made everyone so unhappy.

I was ashamed. I knew they were right. I was an awful 12 year old. I probably did seduce him. I did keep it a secret. I probably did “enjoy” it. (In the words of my Mother).

The shame apparently has never been resolved. This year of PTSD has caused me to feel every painful moment of being a “bad girl”.

Those labels are in my everyday life. Those labels are on my job. Those labels are in my dreams.

As I start to recover from this awful shame, I find myself still trying to prove my innocence. I was on trial. Not him. He lived happily ever after.

I’m trying to forgive that little girl and give her a re-trial. I’m trying to allow God to defend me against that monster. I’m trying to be released from captivity.

I don’t know how to forget those days, but I’m desperately trying to write a happy ending to my story.

Know this Mr. Pedophile – she was NOT GUILTY.

Until next time – I am being MJ ever day.

Day 23 – No Where to Hide

At the age of 15 (almost 16) the abuse finally came to an end. That in itself is a story that seems unbelievable.

My last abuser (my uncle) was arrested but free not even 24 hours later. He was never prosecuted. In those days the victim had to prove that the perpetrator was guilty. (Enter more shame and guilt).

Anyway, fast forward to the age of 21. It has now been over 5 years since I have seen anyone in the family including him.

One day, my husband and I were out shopping and there he was. In broad daylight. Smiling. Talking to someone.

The last words we exchanged were threats and I was more than sure that he would kill me that very day.

So there he is. I literally froze. Turned around and ran for my life. My husband, not knowing what had just happened, is trying to catch up to me.

We made it to the car and I couldn’t even speak. At home, I went straight to my room and got under the covers. I was shaking. Trembling. Crying. My heart was exploding. I stayed there for two days. All day Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, I tried to go out and was terrified. For 6 months, I could barely leave the house. And when I did I got very sick to my stomach. That started many years of panic in public places. I have had to leave big open places many times. Even at home it seemed like I wasn’t safe. There literally was (in my mind) no where to hide.

During those days, I wished I could build a cave or bunker and hide until I died.

It’s so disabling to never feel safe.

I now can go just about anywhere without panic but since my perpetrator lives in the next city, running into him or his family is always a possibility.

I am free from him physically and no longer worry about him harming me. But the emotional destruction was done long ago. Each day, I have to come out of his emotional grips and try to trust myself.

I have to push his hands off of me in my mind. I have to forget his smell in my mind. I have to know that God always has my back. I have to know that I no longer need to hide.

If I ever see him again, I will stand up brave and tall and tell him that he can’t scare me anymore.

I have to lie to myself every day until I believe I am strong enough to fight him. I have to depend on my armor and my Heavely Father to keep me safe.

So know this Mr. Child Abuser. I am like Schwarznegger. I WILL BE BACK.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 22 – Rebuild It.

About a mile from my house, is a large building that imploded last year when Hurricane Irma came thru.

I had already seen massive destruction in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.

I’m thinking, as I’m driving to work each day, that I really don’t need to see this reminder every single day.

But yesterday I started to look at the building and felt like I could relate to it.

We both imploded a year ago. We both have collapsed with little or nothing left on top of our foundation. We both had very high walls that no one could see in. We both cannot rebuild from the shattered materials that have been tossed around.

The only thing that can help us now is to tear ourselves completely down and rebuild brick by brick.

This means that we will need new bricks. We need new wood and nails. We need new electricity and plumbing. And lastly, we would need new paint and landscaping.

This year I’ve been picking up new bricks and removing the old bricks one by one. I had to find bricks with love and forgiveness in them. I’ve had to find new wood and nails made of strength and courage to rebuild my walls. I’ve had to repaint and refinish my outsides because it was time for me to remove the old faces of pretending to be someone that I wasn’t.

These changes have taken a lot of self-talk and removing labels from that little child who keeps finding blame in herself. Hearing only the words that hurt so badly time after time.

There are days when the rebuilding is so exhausting. There are days I want to let it all fall back down. At least then, I would already know what to expect since my structure was never really secure anyway.

I’m have a team of carpenters to help me rebuild. And my foreman (Mrs. A) will make sure I complete my project inspite of any more bad weather.

What I have to do know is rest and believe in the rebuilding of my life. Putting together a new heart and soul. One that made of trust and love for myself.

Only then can I rebuild it and make it what it should have been from the beginning of me.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 21 – It’s Not Over

I really felt like my happy story was ending in 2009 when I lost my dream job in Miami. The economy was in a slump and being laid off was not uncommon. I had to return home to Lakeland and move in with my son. It truly was one of the worst times of my life, or so I thought.

I had no idea that I’d be laid off two more times shortly after. After finding a permanent job and getting three promotions over the last 6 years, I thought I had finally made it to my happy place. I figured the rest of my life would be smooth sailing.

Then my brother died. Again I went thru what I thought was the worst time of my life.

Once again, I bounced back to smooth sailing thru life.

When I was stuck in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, I couldn’t wait to get home and forget the sights and sounds of devestation.

After returning home and starting to have this symptoms of PTSD, I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe that there would be a reason for me to have anymore pain or trauma in my life. I thought after a week, I would return to my smooth sailing, every day routine way of life.

Never, ever did I dream that a year later I would still be struggling to keep my head above water.

It’s hard for me to feel like I will go back to smooth sailing. And maybe I wont. Maybe I’ll be a different person now.

I’m trying to believe that the new me will be better and stronger. The new me will worry less and trust more. The new me will cry less and laugh more. The new me will sleep a whole 8 hours. The new me will live life with passion and love.

I want to believe that the new me will stop having nightmares of being abused. Hopefully the new me will never think of suicide again.

Whatever the rest of my story looks like, I hope I am able to tell my story and give hope to others who have suffered trauma and abuse.

What you should know about my new life is that my story isn’t over. So, I’m going to keep trying to make my story have a happy ending.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 20 – Falling Forward

Yesterday I stumbled.  I wanted to quit this journey I am on.  I wanted to stop trying.  I wanted to go back to one year ago, and be my normal, numb, strong self.

The only thing I could think to do is to go to sleep.  They say things always look better in the morning.  That is exactly what I did.  I was in bed by 8 pm.  I fell asleep and woke up many times during the night.

I woke up the last time around 5 am and tried to encourage myself to have a better day.  I had to remind myself how many times I had fallen and was still able to get back up and move on.

Babies learn how to walk by falling.  They crawl first and after a few hundred falls, they eventually figure out how to balance their little bodies.

What I have to learn is that even while I’m falling, I am falling into my purpose.  I am falling into a new path.  A new direction.  Even when I fall directly on my face, it is still falling forward.  The most important thing for me to remember is that I have to be the one to pick myself back up.  If I fall 10 times, I have to get back up 11 times.

I used to think I had mastered life. Now I’m figuring out that I may always be a student.  I may always need to learn new things.  I may always need to learn harsh lessons.  I may need to experience grief and loss.  I may need to do things that I don’t particularly like to do.

I’m frequently lost in my feelings for my current situation.   I forget that I do deserve to be happy.  I forget that I do deserve good things.  I do deserve peace.

The problem is making myself vulnerable.  Now I’m learning that I will be most powerful when I learn that I don’t need to be in control or powerful over every situation in my life.

Growing is always uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable doesn’t have to mean a negative end result.  Things often seem impossible until you have actually done it.  But sometimes when you have difficulty believing you can do it, it holds you back from growing into the purpose that is meant for your life.

When you are traveling down an unknown roads, there are bends and turns.  If you fail to make the turn, you never get to the end of the road.  Some of the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.  Usually windy, steep, mountainous roads lead to the most beautiful scenery and views.

The biggest thing I am learning these days is that God’s plan for my life is far greater than any fears I could have.  I limit my own growth with my fear.

The toughest soldiers are the ones that are sent to the biggest battles.  The soldiers with the greatest strength are the ones carrying the heaviest weapons.  I definitely am fighting a war.  A war with explosions and loud noises.  A war that causes me to grieve frequently.  But I have to keep fighting in order to be victorious in this journey.

I have to remember that I can fall forward and still win this race.  The finish line sometimes is only one fall away.  Winning this race will teach me to appreciate even the smallest of victories.  Each step is a victory.  Each breath is a victory.

So, I may keep falling, but I’m falling forward.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 19 – Bear Blanket

I have a blanket on my bed that I have had since I was 8 years old. Almost 46 years.

This blanket has seen so many things and has been so many places.

I recently carried this blanket to therapy with me for what I knew was going to be a difficult session.

Until that day, I never realized that this blanket had a mother panda bear with two babies on it. I always just called it my bear blanket.

It actually made me sad to realize that I had the blanket instead of my mother’s love and acceptance.

Generally, this blanket stays folded neatly on the corner of my bed.

That’s what I’ve done with my pain all these years. Just kept my feelings folded neatly in the back of my mind. Sort of preserving them I guess.

Today the feelings are unfolding along with the memories and hurt just as clealy as they began 40 years ago.

I’m debating if I should destroy this blanket when I’m feeling stronger or if it should be with me until the end of time?

For now, and until I’m feeling safe, I’ll keep it on my bed to remind me of how far I’ve come and what I’ve survived.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 18 – This is Heavy

A few months ago, I purchased a weighted blanket. This blanket is specifically designed to help with the symptoms of PTSD.

At times, it seems very comforting.  But some of the time, it triggers memories.

At the age of 15, after being sexually abused by an Uncle for over two years, I knew that something was wrong.  I tried to reason with him that this wasn’t normal, and that none of my friends were doing this. (I was always taking responsibility).

At that point, he became very angry. He felt threatened that he could not manipulate me anymore.  Every time I discussed the idea of someone finding out or stopping the abuse myself, he would threaten me and say that no one WILL find out.  Some of the times, he would suffocate me with a pillow.

Since having the weighted blanket, I was reminded of that feeling of not being able to catch my breath. Obviously It’s not the blankets fault (LOL) but more of a memory that I never talked about or dealt with.

The feeling of someone being in my breathing space has always been a problem.  Hugging can be a problem.

The weird thing about PTSD is that normal things can trigger an over the top response that doesn’t seem appropriate for the situation.

If I overhear someone disciplining their child in what I consider to be mean or inappropriate, I immediately go into dissociation.  I cannot feel or think that a parent is being mean to a child.  It just devastates me.

One night at church, I parked in a spot that apparently was reserved for someone. (No sign, I was just supposed to know).  A man came out and asked me to move my car, but sort of talked down to me like I was supposed to know.  I immediately felt like I was the smallest, most unintelligent person in the world. I went into church in tears.  After 15 or 20 minutes into the service, I was sobbing and had to leave. I was so embarrassed.  I went to my car and literally fell apart. I had to sit there and compose myself before even being able to drive.  Then I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Not to mention the headaches and crying hangover the next day.

Why do insignificant things trigger such over the top responses?  It makes you feel so out of control and so abnormal.

I’m working on trying to be more aware of the things that trigger me and how I respond.  It takes retraining and removing old labels that I have put on myself since I was 5 years old.

When I’m in therapy, I’m reminded of my negative labels and given suggestions or what to replace them with.  I have such a hard time with positive self-talk and always expect more of myself.  I’m always letting me down.  I’m always feeling like I can try harder or do more.

Giving myself a break or receiving compliments, etc. is my new goal.  Trusting that I’m a good person and I am ok seems so far away. One day, I will believe that I am the person that God has created me to be.  And that I’m okay.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.