Life: Entry 1 – Happiness

As of late, the fragility of life has been at the forefront of my mind. I’m not ready to delve into the reason behind that quite yet, so until then, I’m going to write about various aspects of life. I’m not sure how many entries I will write about life, but I’m starting here, with Entry 1 and it’s going to be about happiness.

For some time now I’ve thought about my life and whether or not there been periods of my life in which I was genuinely happy? Certainly I’ve had moments of happiness throughout my life, but have I ever had a stretch of time (weeks, months, years) when I was truly happy? In times when I’ve reflected on my life, in regards to happiness, I never seem to be able to come up with a significant stretch of time when I was truly happy. Yes, I have many memories of happy moments, but that’s it, happy moments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all of those happy moments and memories, they are wonderful.

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness in life over the last couple/few weeks. This time, I haven’t necessarily been thinking about my own happiness so much as I have been thinking of another’s happiness.

Tonight I was standing in my bathroom looking at myself in the mirror (this is a very uncomfortable thing for me to do. It’s hard for me to look myself in the eyes. I assume it’s due to shame and guilt from past trauma); so I’m looking myself in the eyes and thinking about another’s happiness, as well as my own, when this realization sort of came to me.

In order to be happy, we first must decide if we actually want to be happy. For some this may seem like a strange thought, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy? Let me explain, as best I can…

If you have suffered prolonged trauma, especially at an early age in life, you probably struggle to find significant stretches of happiness in your life, much like myself. If you have ever and/or still do hold a belief about yourself that you are not good enough, or worthy enough, or loveable, or smart enough, or like you even matter…you likely struggle to find significant stretches of happiness in your life (side note: if you hold those beliefs about yourself, they aren’t true, you are good enough, worthy enough, loveable, smart enough, and you fucking matter!).

For those of us who have suffered prolonged trauma, it is hard for us to believe that we are even deserving of happiness in the first place. However, we still long for it, we hope for it, we want it, and we love to subconsciously self sabotage the hell out of any possibility of real happiness. True happiness sounds great, but for those of us with trauma filled lives, we have no idea how to handle real happiness. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. When we experience real happiness we start to convince ourselves that it’s too good to be true, it won’t last, it can’t last, somehow something is going to happen to fuck up this happiness. And so we become self-fulfilling prophecies and subconsciously sabotage our own damn happiness.

I think we often times tell ourselves that we want to be happy in life, but then our actions and decisions tend to counteract that (self-sabotage).

So, in order to be happy, we first must decide if we actually want to be happy, or maybe more accurately, if we are ready to be happy. Once we finally decide that we want and are ready to truly be happy in life, we then have to be courageous enough to accept happiness when it comes our way. We have to be willing to let it in, as terrifying as it might seem. As strong as the urge to run from it might feel, we have to be willing to embrace it. We have to start living in a way that allows and invites happiness into our lives. Because the truth of the matter is this, we do deserve happiness, we are worthy of happiness, our happiness does matter, we matter!

Life is fragile. It is temporary. That past is the past and nothing we do or say can change it; the future is not ours for the taking, it is not promised; all we have is here and now, this moment, that’s it. Life is so short and can be gone in an instant. We always think we have more time, and that is the biggest human misjudgment of all time. We have to start living like we are running out of time, because from the time we are born our time in this life starts ticking down, and none of us know when the time stops ticking; and then it’s too late. So, lean into fear, say the things that need saying, do the things that need doing, love the way you want to love, love who you want to love, take the chance, throw caution to the wind, risk it, do what makes you happy. This is it, this is your life, right here, right now, it’s yours. Be an active participant in creating your happiness; accept it, embrace it, allow it, invite it in, be happy in your own life, because life is too short for anything other than love and happiness.

With Love, Light, and Happiness!

#MeToo

#MeToo

You don’t have to look long or far to find a #metoo post on social media these days, unfortunately that’s a sad reality, and yet I find comfort in every #metoo  that I see.

For anyone reading who doesn’t know what #metoo is about, let me fill you in. When you see #metoo it is a victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, in some way or another the person who posted #metoo has been sexually violated. This is to bring an awareness to the magnitude of women who have been sexually violated. It seems as a society we find it easier to turn a blind eye than to acknowledge the disgusting behaviors that take place daily.

As well intended as this has been, I feel we need to include all sexually violated people and not just women. There are plenty of males who have also suffered the indignity of being sexually violated and they are just as ignored, overlooked, shamed, and victimized as women are.

I have seen differing ideas and opinions on posting #metoo. I’ve read claims that by posting #metoo it is suggesting that all men are perverse in their behaviors. I’ve read that by posting #metoo we are somehow making ourselves a target to be ridiculed by others. I’ve read that being sexually violated is a private issue not to be displayed for all to see. I’ve read conversation about flirting and whether or not that’s acceptable and to what degree is flirting acceptable?

This is what #metoo means to me:

#metoo = Sexually abused from the age of 3 or 4 until about the age of 10-12 by a close extended relative. When it all finally came out I was victimized all over again because nothing was ever done about it. Most people didn’t believe me. Many who did believe me didn’t seem to care while others who believed me didn’t seem to know how to handle it. I still carry the effects of all of it with me to this day. Feelings of not being good enough to bother doing anything about it. Feelings of being unworthy. Feeling like somehow I had done something wrong because nothing was ever done about it. Feeling like somehow I had been dishonest because he lied and said it didn’t happen and apparently his lie was more believable than my truth, than my reality.

#metoo = Somewhere between the age of 8 and 10 I was inappropriately touched by boy who was several years older than me. We were in one of those plastic kiddie pools. I never told anyone about that incident but it’s stuck with me for all these years.

#metoo = At the age of 12 maybe 13 I was the victim of an extreme sexual advance by a much older man, who was by all rights a sexual predator. I was one naive decision away from a terrible life altering event. I won’t go into detail on this one for personal reasons, but it was definitely one of the scariest moments of my life, even to this day it ranks as one of the scariest moments of my life. This event triggered an investigation that resulted in a restraining order but should’ve resulted in much more than that. Another instance of the victim being victimized again, this time by the system.

#metoo = 13 – 15 years old at a 4th of July celebration in my hometown. A creepy guy offers to buy my friend and I alcohol while we’re there. We thought that was pretty cool, even if the guy was pretty creepy. The guy did what he said, he bought us alcohol. We sat near where the band played but far enough off that no one would really notice us, we drank and listened to the band. At some point I was dancing with the creepy guy. I still can’t stand to listen to the song to this day, “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” by Meatloaf. There was some kissing that took place as well.

A few days later, I found myself with a bunch of my friends in this guys apartment (what the hell are the odds of that?). We recognized each other right away. I didn’t want to be there but I was with my friends and apparently this creep was a friend of theirs. I sat down on the end of the couch next to my friend. The creep sat on the floor next to me. Before I knew it he had his hand between my legs rubbing on me. I wanted so badly for him to stop. I wanted to jump up off of that couch and run out of the apartment. But I didn’t, I just sat there, almost frozen, like I didn’t know what to do.

I saw him a handful of times after that day. He never touched me sexually again. Quite the opposite actually. He threatened to kill me and told me he had people out to hurt me. See, it had come out that this guy bought alcohol for us and the police got involved. I was the one he held responsible for the jail time he got. I was not the one who let out that this creep bought us alcohol. In fact I wanted nothing to do with this man ever again after leaving his apartment. I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken about this incident either.

#metoo =  16 or 17 years old. I was brought out to a dark dirt road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter. The choice I was ultimately left with was get out of the vehicle without a coat and figure out how to get home in middle of winter Minnesota temps or have sex with this guy and when he is done he get home. I go into more detail in a previous post about this incident, so I’m not going to go in to detail here. Granted, I didn’t say no, but I also didn’t feel like I had a choice. Had I said no, he would’ve taken what he wanted anyways If I just gave him what he wanted it would be easier to live with and cope with than if he took it with force.

These are most of my #metoo stories. I don’t share them to gain pity or empathy. I don’t share them to dehumanize men. I don’t even share them with the hopes that something will change if enough of us post #metoo.

I share them so that other victims know they aren’t alone.

I share them in hopes that maybe my #metoo stories might help, even if it’s just one person.

I share them so that others might feel more comfortable sharing their stories, not because the world needs to hear it, but because they need to tell it.

I share them because so often we stay silent out of shame and guilt. By sharing my stories I am letting go of the shame and guilt I’ve carried for so many years. The shame and guilt that were never mine to carry. I share them in hopes of inspiring someone else to let go of the shame and guilt that isn’t theirs to carry.

I share them because I am not what has been done to me. I’ve been knocked down a hundred times and I’ve gotten back up a hundred and one times, not because of what’s been done to me, but in spite of what’s been done to me.

I share my #metoo stories because my abusers didn’t break me, they don’t own that kind of power.

I share my #metoo stories because too many people expect that we shouldn’t talk openly about our #metoo stories.

I share my #metoo stories because those same people that don’t think we should speak openly about being sexually violated get uncomfortable when we speak openly about being sexually violated, and to that I say, #fuckyoutoo

I am a victim of sexual violation. I didn’t want to be a victim. I didn’t ask to be a victim. I was made to be a victim. People often talk like being a “victim” is somehow a choice. Newsflash, if it were a choice we wouldn’t be victims, would we?

I am no longer ashamed of being a victim of sexual violation but I do get a little pissed when it’s assumed that I should be.

When does playful sexual banter cross the line and become a form of sexual violation? When it’s unwanted. When it’s not reciprocated. When you’re told to stop. When the person starts avoiding you. When you have to question if you’re crossing the line.

Not all men are sexual predators, there are plenty of women predators and enablers out there as well.

Is it easy for those of us who have been victimized to talk about it, to tell our stories? No, it’s almost as hard as living through the abuse when it happened.

Is it an uncomfortable topic? Absolutely it is.

Is the magnitude of sexual harassment, abuse, violation as great as we are saying it is? Yes, as much as people may want to believe otherwise, the reality of it is overwhelming.


 

#metoo for all of the men who have been sexually violated

#metoo for all of the women who have been sexually violated

#metoo for all of the teenagers, boys and girls, who have been sexually violated and those who may currently be living in the nightmare of being sexually violated.

#metoo for all of the children who have or who are currently being sexually violated, and most likely by someone whose job it is to keep you safe.

The shame and guilt you feel is not yours to own. Let that shit go, give it to it’s rightful owner.

This is what you need to know…You deserve better, you are worth more than you know, you are stronger than you believe yourself to be, you are lovable, you are so much more than good enough, and you are not alone.

#metoo