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courage

Abuse, Anonymous, courage, Guest Posts, healing

There Are The Things I Remember.

February 26, 2015

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TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or rape which may be triggering to survivors.

 

By Anonymous.

“I felt as if I were already redefining it, already dropping (ahead? behind?) into a state of retrospection.  I was worried that my memory wouldn’t do me any favours; that it would only make things worse… A constant tug of war: wanting to remember, wanting to forget… How was this journey, this movement to be mapped?”

– Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World                                    

 

Memory can be a tricky thing.  Our genetic makeup is clever; if something happens to us and we aren’t strong enough to remember, our mind and body has mechanisms to make that memory go away or to minimize the damage of the memory’s daily impact.

I never forgot being raped.  I had memories of it, but I pushed them away until they didn’t bother coming around anymore.  But my secrets were impacting my insides deeply, and then the memories came back daily on their own, knocking, seeking acknowledgement.

Continue Reading…

courage, Grief, Guest Posts

The Circle.

February 10, 2015

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By Robin Gaphni.

She pulled into the parking space and turned the engine off. “Third time’s a charm,” she thought. The first time she drove here, she sat in her car, watched the people file in and 90 minutes later watched them file out. She never even unbuckled her seatbelt.

The second time she waited until she saw, what she hoped was, the last person enter the building. Then she unbuckled her seat belt, opened the car door and walked across the asphalt parking lot. When she got to the door, she gripped the heavy brass handle and froze. She stood silently there for about five minutes, her heart racing, her hand molded around the door knob, her body absolutely unable to move forward. After a bit she slunk back to her car and drove home.

But today she was determined. She glanced over at the door. It was one of those solid, double doors that often grace the entrances to churches-tall, heavy and formidable. But this was not about religion. She had talked to the leader of the group three times and had been promised it was not religious at all, it just happened to be held in a church.

So before she could conjure up any more excuses for not going into the building, she opened the car door, grabbed her backpack and walked briskly across the parking lot. She pulled the heavy church door open and stepped foot in the airy entrance. It was dim and she couldn’t see well. The sanctuary to her left was pitch black. But across the hall there was a light under the door and she assumed that’s where the meeting was. She walked to the door, hesitating only for a split second before turning the handle and walking in.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it!

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Addiction, courage, Guest Posts, healing

Groundhog Day.

January 4, 2015

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By Marika Delan.

I came out of my hole to see the things that hurt me in the light of day.

I was frightened of my shadow and went back inside to hide.

I’ve been here for so long now, it must be that winter has come and gone away.

Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow and saw his shadow today.

The forecast is 6 more weeks of winter.

. . .

Vicodin, Oxycodone, Percocet, pick your poison — there was no shortage of top shelf pills for the pain. Just make sure to follow the instructions lest you cause liver failure, or worse, stop breathing and die:

Take one to two tablets every 4-6 hours as needed for pain.

Do not operate heavy machinery. May cause drowsiness (and nausea, epic constipation, anorexia, withdrawal that will make you think you are Leo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries, and deep dark soul sucking depression that might explain why people ruin their lives over what doctors are doling out like candy).

Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication.

Pick a shelf, pick a drug, my medicine cabinet was full of whatever you could possibly want because there was nothing I wanted less than to take opiate narcotics. I had seen the true meaning of the word painkillers. I had seen them kill more than the pain.

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Abuse, courage, Guest Posts, healing

Me Too.

December 23, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Lizz Schumer.

There are some things the body never forgets. The sound of my cell phone splintering against the dorm room wall. How my feet felt cool against the cinderblocks moments before it hit, that breaking I felt in my own chest because I thought I could save myself from him.

Those cinderblocks are never clean in my memory. A handprint in blood smears across three, after we wake up the night after carnage, I mean carnal, relations and my body is fetal away from him, oceans of space between two bodies in a dorm size bed.

“Good morning beautiful,” and he smiled that lazy grin I’d get lost in.

If I don’t look in his eyes, I won’t be ensnared.

Valentine’s Day. He sent me a black and white photograph of a heart-shaped ring of stones. “I took this for you,” he said. Only later, I found out it was part of a class project and this was the photographic outtake, the shot with no clear blacks or whites, uneven borders, textbook darkroom failure.

My own photography class taught me what my heart didn’t want to see: Nothing was ever for me.

“You’re sick,” he screamed, moments before my phone hit the wall. “You’re a sick, fucked up slut and I don’t know why I even date you.”

If the tears coursing down my cheeks made sounds, they’d be wimpers, not screams.

I hadn’t found my voice for him. My neck still remembers his hands around my throat, warm where his fingers hit veins. I pulsed for him, in ways my body remembers every time a new man touches me there.

Touches me anywhere. The body remembers what the mind works hard to forget.

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Abuse, courage, Guest Posts

The Seat: On Domestic Violence.

December 9, 2014

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By Candace Roberts.

“Somehow I’ll manage to get through this day, too.” I thought to myself. It was a Monday. I had a full day of blocked lecture hours ahead of me. Ancient Greek History—8:30-10:20a.m., Women and Law—10:30-12:20 and Buddhism—12:30-2:20pm.

“Please, God, let this go by quickly.” I said under my breath. I knew it wouldn’t though and the day’s forecast was adding to my anxiety.

Seattle has flippant weather, sometimes. People that don’t live here usually have a grim view of the Northwest. No thanks to the media, Washington has the reputation of a dreary, depressing, state with consistent downpour. One day I’ll write about the beauties of this weather as they are magnificent and are never given enough credit. But this Monday’s ambience lived up to all of Hollywood’s generalizations. There wasn’t a break of sunlight as it was January and there was a constant airy midst that throughout the day would, at random, turn nasty for a minute. What a little tease, pouring for just a minute. Aside from the rainfall, it was freakin’ cold to the bone.

I looked around and saw that almost everyone, at least the girls anyway, were dressed like me- going for the standard wardrobe pick for Seattle winters. Ugg boots sloshing about, velour sweats tucked in, and a big Northface rain coat with the hoodie tied up under neck. No matter how rough the night before was for the typical college girl, no one really cared about committing fashion faux pas because no one wanted to feel the cold rain. Oh yes, and everyone was bookin’ it to class as fast as they could without looking like that one idiot actually running. Let’s be realistic, we have all been “that guy” before and probably not for the last time either. Whether we were running or not, it was the combination of wet, cold Seattle winter and sweaty college kid that inevitably created a class room environment that was simply gross.

Seated and feeling a hot mess in my unbearably hard, public University, sad excuse for a desk-slash-chair, I realized that the dang chair was actually kind of a problem underneath my bum. Early Greece at 8:30 am was not on my prioritized list of troubles, in fact I don’t remember a single thing that was said in class that day. My body was there…my mind was not. It was traveling methodically through the day that lay ahead of me. This day of scheduled sitting.

“Okay 570 minutes of class—did it before, I can do it again. Forty-five minute commute to work,—same shit, different day…totally do-able. Sitting in my wheelie chair at work for 5 hours— you’re getting paid, deal with it.”

My self-talk that day was not inspirational. It was hardly the usual positive vibe I mentally set myself up with, but it was completely necessary because I needed to distract myself. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing, motherhood

The Tunnel of Trauma.

December 3, 2014

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By Karen Pyros-Szatkowski. 

I lost my son on December 3, 2011.

My sweet, cheerful boy with his contagious grin, ever helping hand, and heart of pure gold was gone in the instant his car slammed into the stone wall. What was left after intensive surgeries was an unmoving, minimally conscious body, kept alive only with the help of machines, monitors, wires, and loud, piercing bells. What was left according to medical charts and the doctors in their own insensitive words, was a vegetable, was no hope, was a severe case of traumatic brain injury. What was left was not the boy I knew and loved and mothered for 17 years. I still had a warm body, but on that day I lost Damon.

Damon’s story, is a story of faith, a mother’s healing love, gut instinct, blind hope, miracles. It is the story of the rippling effects traumatic brain injury has on family and friends. But most importantly, it’s the story of an amazing boy who just refuses to give up, who faces each day with resilience, determination, and a heart bursting with so much appreciation for life.

Damon lives at home with me and his two beautiful sisters who have each played a major role in his recovery. He has made huge strides in his recovery, but still has a full journey ahead. Today marks three years of progress. Three years of loss. Three years of hope. And three more years we have been able to enjoy Damon. Continue Reading…

Abuse, courage, Guest Posts, Women

Why She Stays.

November 30, 2014

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By Carin Makuz 

When the feel of his fist is fresh on her face…

Why does she stay??

It’s always the first question and it’s worse when there’s money involved, the implication being she stays for that, for the lifestyle. Right. The lifestyle…

And the answers,  they’ve been all over social media recently but they’re not new. The sad truth is they’ll still be valid long after we stop listening, stop talking about it.

And so… we should not stop.

**

 

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops

What Fear Looks Like.

November 26, 2014

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By Jen Pastiloff.

This was my status update on my Facebook just now but I thought I would share here since some of you crazy (read: smart) kids are not on Facebook:

Let me tell you about stepping out of your comfort zone and fear and being ballsy and what that looks like to me.

A few years back I started doing these workshops which have since morphed into something else entirely. I have no idea what to name this thing. What to call it. It’s not really a “yoga” thing but I do it at yoga studios and we sit on yoga mats.

It’s not really a writing thing because you don’t have to be a writer or even like writing, but we write.

And we share. And we laugh. And we cry.

And it’s heavy but also really really light.

And like, how do you describe that? How do you say, call up a studio in Chicago and say, “Hey, I want to come do this thing I do there at your place. I can’t really describe it. You’ll just have to see for yourself. People will come. Trust me.”

And I mean, there’s a deep knowing that I will sell it out (but there’s also the other part of me that’s like, “OMG, you have never been to Chicago or Vancouver or whatever city it is. Who do you think you are?”)

But.

I do not listen to that voice for very long. I put on my big girl panties and shut that voice up and carry on with my cup of coffee and hush that little voice that says, “How dare you create something that is not definable and expect people will show up?”

Why do I hush that voice?

Because I did do that. I am doing that.

Is it scary as f*ck? Yes. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing

Still Breathing.

November 20, 2014

By Tara Allen.

I think I started cutting when I couldn’t write anymore. I stopped writing and harbored the demons within, trying in vain to keep them locked up. They crawl around inside me, lurking in the shadows, waiting to show themselves. I thought drinking would numb it, keep them at bay. But the demons had to escape somehow, and since I no longer let them flow out through words, I watched as they flowed out in my blood.** *Just gave away my guitar. Only I don’t think of it as mine, I think of it as his. How he played, how he loved to play. How he created songs for me. I’m sitting here, with a glass of wine nearby, tears streaming down my face. I am a mess. Does this get better? I want to bleed, I want to rage, and I want to do anything but feel this. Am I so fucked up that I am unlovable? Pretty enough to get the guy but not good enough to do what it takes to keep him? Pretty fades. It’s fading fast. I am toxic.

I choose to write my way out of this. To put it out there, how this shreds me. How I’d rather be physically in pain than emotionally.

I bring out the worst in men. I destroy people, I break them. They walk away so easily.
Time to put it on the page and leave it.

** *

“What are you here for?”
“I’m cut and I can’t stop the bleeding.”

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, World Events

On Imagination: The Power of “Pathetic” Responses.

November 16, 2014

By Ebele Mogo. 

Narrative is a very feeble weapon in the face of human darkness and yet it’s all we have – Chris Abani

It seems this year has been a year of uprisings everywhere. A world spinning out of control and crying out to not be ignored. From the developments in Ferguson in response to the yet improperly addressed problem of police brutality in the States, to Ebola in West Africa, to abductions of school girls, to Syria, Iraq, to two disappearing planes etc. It is enough for a melodramatic movie.My old schoolmate and friend said it well on twitter:100 day abduction, MH17, MH370, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Central African Rep, Sudan, Libya, Egypt. The world is rotating anti-clockwise

— Ogbeni Agbabiaka (@ArroYomi) July 22, 2014

Recently a friend and colleague contacted me to co-create a response plan to Ebola here: https://www.engageafricafoundation.org/blog/view/ebola-in-africa-what-are-we-learning

It was a very little response that did take a lot of work from both of us yet nothing compared to the magnitude of the problem. A little creative offering you may that if used would help greatly with containment. Of course we cannot control if it is used but we can reach out to offer it in the hopes that it will be and make it simple enough to be adopted.

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courage, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

What You Will Learn From This: Living With Head and Brain Injury.

October 6, 2014

By Jane Ratcliffe.

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1. Some people will refuse to believe that there’s anything wrong with you. They will accuse you of pretending to be sick for attention, even though you had plenty of attention in your life before the table top that was mounted on the wall fell on your head (or you got in that car accident, et cetera). They will counsel people not to help you, they will explain to them that helping you with your myriad terrifying symptoms is akin to enabling a drug addict; help will only encourage you to fake your illness longer. What you will learn from this: You’ll learn how to swaddle the voice that spends hours (and hours) each day defending itself to your accuser in soft, warm blankets and hold it to your breast rocking it gently like the frightened baby that it is. You will learn how to hear your soul and spirit shouting to you through the (temporarily?) out-of-whack channels of your brain, calling out over the cries of the baby, that your naysayer’s truth is not your truth, no matter how forceful their voice is. You will slowly excavate Your Truth from the dark, neglected chambers of your heart. You will discover how to let others say what they will about you while you’re still sick and heal anyway.

2. Most people will believe you, but they won’t really “get it”—so they’ll drift away until you’re better. Or they’ll get it, but you’re like a drowning person grasping at anything stable—and just because they don’t have head or brain injury doesn’t mean they’re consistently on steady ground. So they may drift in and out depending upon circumstances. This will hurt, but you’ll reflect upon your own life and all the times somebody else’s suffering was too much for you to carry. Or the times you judged someone’s suffering as symptomatic of character flaws—some of which were annoying enough that you secretly considered that perhaps they deserved their struggles, that if they were better people they wouldn’t have these struggles and, really, it wasn’t up to you to fix that mess. And that just as you have been put aside now, so too did you put aside others. What you will learn from this: Compassion. We are all suffering. You haven’t been singled out. Listen. Watch. Study others. No one is without fear. You will learn to hold their fear in your cleaned-up, cleared-out heart, and you’ll discover that the compassion you generate for their fear has the power to dissipate your fear as well. And likewise, the compassion you learn to generate for yourself (because you need it more than you initially realize) makes it easier to be present to another’s suffering which, well, makes it easier to be present to your own. And so on.

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing

Woman, Interrupted.

September 27, 2014

By Lisa Barr.

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From Tragedy to Triumph: 34 years after recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, I went back to the scene of my childhood trauma.

Have you ever done something not because you want to but because you have to? Because “closure” is required. I wonder, can you ever really put a lid on childhood trauma?

They say you can never go back, be it a relationship, an unforgettable experience, or any place that holds too many strong memories. It is never the same, because you are not the same. I think about this as I approach the elevator leading to the Eating Disorders Unit of a prominent Chicago hospital. It has been 34 years since I have been back to what I remember as the “gateway to hell” — where I was once a patient, at just shy of 13 years old, barely 45 pounds and starving myself to death.

Of course I am going to feel different, I tell myself. I am now healthy, thriving, with three beautiful daughters; a life filled with blessings: a wonderful husband, financial security, great friends, and time for myself. Why am I suddenly terrified? Why did I decide to revisit my childhood nightmare?

I don’t have to do this.

But you do, that tiny voice inside me whispers. It’s time to face what was, and give back. By giving back, I am on my way to share my survival “story” with a group of young patients in the hospital who are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. I had gone through a rigorous process to volunteer in this special hospital unit, and tonight would be my debut.

Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, courage, Guest Posts

Cleared for Landing.

September 21, 2014

By Petra Perkins.

“You ready to go up?” I examined my reflection in the aviator shades of an Air Force captain who was to take me for a ‘discovery ride’ in a small airplane. He looked official and solid, like Captain America — wings on his epaulets, a clipboard for a shield. I would go up with him.

“So, you ready?” he asked, again.

I shook my head. “Yes.”

I had fear of flying…  “Aviophobia,” he said.

An airplane accident had cruelly changed my life. I was a nervous passenger before it happened, but afterwards it was painful for me to fly. Long distance business travel was required in my job. I didn’t tell Captain America that my husband and son had been killed in a plane crash.

Here I was at the very airport where they took off together for the last time. This was the last place on earth I’d ever imagine finding myself. Rod, 17, was almost a high school graduate. Terry, my high-school sweetheart, had been my husband for 20 years. They’d built an aerobatic airplane in our garage over eight years and tested it months before they left on a trip — their tragic, final takeoff. The propeller had sheared off on a landing approach. I’d always wondered if Terry could have somehow recovered, though pilots told me no one could have. The question continued to haunt me.

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Abuse, Beating Fear with a Stick, courage, Guest Posts

Why We Stay: One Woman’s Lens Into The Psychological Layers of Suffering Abuse.

September 16, 2014

By Kirsten Ott Palladino.

The country is abuzz about abuse again, and the talking heads and twittering fingers are asking why people stay in abusive relationships. Why is Janay Palmer Rice standing by her man even though he punched her in an elevator and dragged her body out? (And then she proceeded to marry him one month later.) Why did Rihanna have such a hard time leaving and subsequently going back to Chris Brown, even after the world saw her blood-crusted, bruised face after Brown crunched his knuckles into her eye socket? Why did Tina Turner take Ike Turner’s slaps and punches again and again?

Guess what? You’re not the only person to wonder this. People currently in abusive relationships and those who have successfully escaped them ask themselves that very same question. Why do/did I stay?

In order to truly understand the answer to that question, it’s helpful to think of abuse, whether it’s physical, sexual or emotional, as a series of tiny subconscious extensions of permissions. Each time he hits you or she tells you you’re worthless and you—for whatever reason—don’t take a stand right then and there that you will not tolerate such abuse, you’ve made a docile statement that it’s OK to treat you this way. Of course, it’s not OK and you don’t want it to happen—you never did and you never will. But each time it happens and there is no serious repercussion for the abuser, they are granted more permission and you’ve given them more rope to tug you around with, much like a master with a dejected mutt on a leash.

For victims of abuse, the internal question often is “How did I get here?” and one part of the puzzle is all of those tiny permissions.

So there you are, a scared, frightened pup on a leash, right? But that’s not all of who you are. You might be brave at work, pumping your fist in the air and demanding your employees follow the rules. You might never lead on about the troubles at home when hanging out with your girlfriends, and possibly even telling elaborate stories about what a good man you’ve got, how he spoils you like a princess. Or you’ve been so desecrated for so long that you no longer recognize your former spirit and you walk around with empty eyes, shoulders slack, wondering when you’ll have the courage to just walk out into the middle of the street and let a bus hit you because that would be easier than leaving.

Continue Reading…