Mountain – A Poem

20170406_182751Our love is a gentle breeze

I am a mountain, tall and solid

From my soil grows all types of fruit,

Warm and ripe from the summers sun

From my ground—sharp rocks, jagged edges

You cut your feet when you try to climb me

Your hands reach for the delicious fruit

Hanging there on branches like slender arms

Your blood soaks into the earth of me,

Wet and dark

The ground is fertile like the lining of a womb

The rocks are a boundary raised from

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes; things that injure

And kill

And our love floats up to me,

Where the white snow covers my highest peaks

It sings to me, asks me to allow you inside

Every crevice and cave

Allow you to pick any fruit you desire

Taste its sweetness

But I shake my earth like a quivering woman

In rage, in shame, in storm clouds and rain

Red fire engulfs the trees, the birds, all things

Alive and beautiful

I am covered in ashes, black as onyx stone

I cannot accept your bleeding feet, your outstretched arm,

Your longing song you sang to me

And yet, beneath the ashes of my rage and pain

The tiniest of sprigs pushes itself stubbornly

Through the hot earth

Its leaves are the newest green, soft and supple

Like the breasts of a young woman

And then it stands taller, grows wider, takes up more space

Soon I am covered in these proud plants

Then trees, and their strong branches

Where birds come to nest and raise their young

I am alive again

The mountain breathing

My lover comes again, here you are

Your feet have healed and my rocks

Don’t

Cut you

You are patient in your climbing,

Holding onto earth and tree

You find me in the quiet solace of

My highest peaks

We rest together in the comforting snow

I hear the song you sing to me

And I begin to sing it too

We live together

And the blood-soil you gave me

Has become a sign for

New things

To come and grow here

 

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Spiritual Journey with a Personality Disorder (Part 1)

(This is the first in a non chronological series on my religious journey and experiences as a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder)

This is a hard post to write. How do I express in words the sighing of my heart? How do I explain the winding roads, narrow paths, mountain tops, and valleys of belief? David writes in the Pslams “as the deer pants for water, so does my soul thirst for you O God”; and for most of my life I have thirsted for God. Yet, after spending my 20s steeped in a Christian faith, I am now in a place of uncertainty.

Uncertain. One of the most uncomfortable feelings for me. Faith kept me from the unstable waters of my personality disorder. Faith gave me the answers. Faith told me who I was, and what to do. Faith grounded me as a young adult, when previously I was totally unmoored.

 

I remember moments of panic when doubts would arise. I felt as if my feet were on shifting ground, and my identity was a house of cards. Doubt was the strong wind threatening to blow it all down. And then, what? Back to uncertainty. Confused. Lost. Even worse; addiction. Death.

I couldn’t handle it. I went back to the Bible, back to prayer, back to the safety of belief. Yet, when my husbands bipolar reared its ugly head and burned my life-as-I-knew-it to the ground, my faith was also a victim of its flame. And that hurt. After years of striving for righteousness, I failed the test. I went back to old behaviors. Went after men who would hurt me like I knew I deserved to be hurt. I even, for a brief moment, dabbled in drugs.

 

I was able to recover myself quickly, but the damage to my faith was done. I couldn’t think of Jesus without crying. I left my Bible shut. My Borderline Personality Disorder was in full effect, swinging me wildly in every direction.

Then, my husband came back. I was scared to take him in again. I guarded my heart. But, our love is too strong to resist, and soon I was carrying our 4th child; our first boy.

And then, my faith was returning. I open the Bible. I released my anger and pain. I asked for forgiveness. I came back.

But, it just wasn’t the same. I tried to get that devotion that I once had back again. I tried so hard, but something wasn’t right anymore. I felt like an actor. I felt unsure again.

I was feeling tempted and confused over my attraction to women. My faith told me this was wrong, but I missed that female connection so badly. I wanted to be with a woman, and I started to drift from my husband. My PTSD was really bad, so sexual contact with my husband was triggering to me. I felt like I would be safe with a woman instead.

This conflict between my desire for a same sex relationship and my beliefs that said it was a sin became too much for me to bear. One night, I poured out my feelings and desires to my husband and I allowed myself to go deeper into that desire. I spoke about my doubts, and they grew. My faith was tested once again; I failed the test.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I was hung over. Was last night real? Did I really let go of my convictions so quickly again? I felt a heavy sadness, and I felt lost again. I tried to revel in my newfound freedom to be with women. I sought someone to be with, but at the same time I felt my Borderline confusion getting worse.

Who am I? What do I want? What do I believe? Borderline Personality Disorder. It really hurts to be so confused over such basic aspects of identity. Am I gay? Bisexual? Am I a believer? Agnostic?

It was August 2015 and I was planning on getting baptized at a Hebrew Roots congregation, but instead, I was deconverting again. It all felt rushed, and disorienting. I didn’t leave the faith for a really discernible reason, which made it even more difficult to understand.

This year, I have tried to find my footing again, this time without religion. I have tried to find myself. I am focused on my children, and my passion for midwifery and as a doula. But ever since childhood I have had a yearning for the divine, and I can only suppress it for so long. I feel unfulfilled, yet I do not know how to fill this need.

I can only keep going, and trust I will find I answers I need.

(The next post will go over my childhood atheist upbringing, and my search for God as a preteen and teenager in Hinduism, Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity) 

 

 

No Safe Words, 50 Shades of Abuse

There is a lot of attention being given to so-called BDSM relationships since the 50 Shades of Grey series came out. The subsequent movies have only brought more people into an awareness of this type of sexual relationship. Many women have found themselves interested in finding a man like this main character, and have sought out these men online.

The problem is that anyone can claim to be a “dom”; a person who is dominate sexually over their partner. Some of these men (and women) are respectful and decent people, who do enjoy sadomasochistic sex, but they honor boundaries. You can enjoy BDSM while respecting your partners hard limits.

A common way to address this issue of boundaries is the use of safe words. A safe word is a word that can be used at any time during a scene or sexual encounter, and as soon as it is said everything stops. Using your safe word is a way to say “I’m serious. I want this to stop now.” Most people use the word “red” because it is commonly understand to mean stop. Some people choose to also use the word “yellow” to indicate that they want the scene/sex act to continue but at a lower intensity.

For example, if your tied up and your Dom is spanking you, and you suddenly feel overhwelmed and want it to stop; you can say RED and it will stop. Or, if your in the same situation but you merely want the spanking to be less intense you can say YELLOW and your Dom can slow it down.

If someone tells you that you dont need a safe word, do not listen to them.

I made this mistake.

I have been involved in BDSM since I was 17 years old, and I am now 28. I was in my marriage for 5 years and we had a period of separation. I was in a very mentally unstable place. My mental illness was in full swing. I found a man who, I believe, took advantage of my mental state. We did not have safe words. He did go far beyond my limits. I was not able to escape because I lacked the emotional strength.

As a woman who has suffered sex abuse for most of my life, I fell back into old survival habits of “give in”. People who are not sexual abuse survivors may not understand it, but I was incapable of getting myself out of this situation until my husband and I reconciled. I felt strong enough knowing that my husband was there to protect me to break off this brief relationship.

The damage that was done has not gone away. I have gotten better though, and I am no longer plagued with flashbacks.

I want to share what happened the second time I ever saw this Dom we will refer to as “M”.

“Look at yourself,” his words barked into my ear.

Following his command, I slowly moved my eyes forward, and stared at what my big screen TV reflected at me. My thin, naked body in front of his. His arm was across my neck in a choke-hold. My toes were desperately touching the ground, my heels being lifted upwards. My hands hung uselessly onto his muscular forearm.

My thighs bore bright red streaks against my pale skin, still burning from the cord whipping he gave me.

Next thing I know, air is getting away from me. His arm is tightening. I try in vain to breathe a little air. Then, I feel weightless; darkness.

I hear buzzing in my ears, and everything feels light and confusing. I feel him slapping my face with his free hand. Where am I? What’s going on?

I am still in a standing position; his arm is still around my neck. I realize where I am again; my apartment. I realize who he is again; my newest abuser, who I just met through a dating site. I realize that I have just been choked unconscious.

I feel scared. I don’t want to pass out again.

I don’t have a “safe word”. I trusted him. I was naive. I was vulnerable. He knew this.

I didn’t even want him here this night. I was almost asleep in my bed when he texted me earlier in the evening. I told him that I was exhausted, the children were sleeping, and I needed to get my rest. He told me that he was not asking me, and I had better let him in.

My spirit was not strong enough to say no. I couldn’t emotionally handle resisting him. I surrendered. I probably deserve it anyway, I surmised.

But now, he had choked the air out of my lungs. Now, he was dragging me still upright through the hallway, into my kitchen. Now, I understood in sudden terror that I was at the mercy of a sadist I hardly knew.

My children are sleeping upstairs. Please, don’t let them wake up to a dead mother.

He has me in the kitchen. He is tightening his grip around my neck again. I gasp, “please don’t”. He loosens his grip, “what did you say?”

“please…don’t…don’t do that again”

“why not?”

“it scares me. Please, I don’t want to pass out again.”

He is silent for a minute, it feels like an hour. Then, he laughs to himself quietly and tightens his grip again.

My hands are pulling at his forearm, but I am acutely aware of how impotent I am against him. Still, my fear will not allow me to stop trying to keep myself from passing out again.
Air is getting harder to take in.

My mind feels fuzzy, like I’m going into a dream.

I feel my consciousness falling away from me again, but just as I am about to go out—he lets go.

I gasp! Air! I’m awake.

Next, he pushes me onto the floor of my kitchen. It’s hard, and cold. His body is on top of mine now, pushing my hip bones and spine into the hard floor. He has sex with me, and it hurts.

Everything hurts.

Eventually, he leaves. It is close to morning and I have not slept but I say a silent prayer of gratitude when I shut the door behind him. He is gone. I am free, until he calls again.

I walk upstairs, stunned.

I open the child gate and check on my children, still sleeping; utterly unware of the abuse I just endured below their rooms. I am so thankful to be here for them. I am so thankful for their ignorance.

I crawl into bed. I feel lonely. I can’t sleep.

I go into my bathroom and examine the damage done. Bloody streaks and raised red lines across my back, buttocks, and thighs. My eyes look tired, circles under them. I turn around and cringe, my back is killing me from the kitchen floor. I know I will be covered in bruises soon.

I cover the evidence with my clothes. I spend the rest of the night justifying what I allowed to happen. I tell myself that I am testing my endurance, reaching the strongest parts of me through pain. I am lying to myself.

The bruises come, and go. The red lines come, and go. But my heart’s hidden wounds cannot be so easily healed.

I wish that I could have just said no, but when “no” was ignored for so many years it become an impossible protest for me. I just couldn’t say it. I just couldn’t speak up. I just gave in and accepted it, did my best to survive.

My sadness is remembering that night, and so many others like it.

My pride is knowing that if it happened today, I would so say no—defiantly and proudly and without hesitation.

My healing has begun, because I have finally deemed myself worthy of peace.

If you have found yourself intrigued by the world of BDSM for the first time, or if you are a veteran of the S/M scene; please use safe words and lets play safe, sane, CONSENSUAL.

Trauma and Memory Recall

Memory is a strange thing for the traumatized mind. Some memories are nothing more than apparitions of smell, emotion, and touch; try as I might to put flesh on these ghosts, they remain as formless as mist rising in the morning. Other memories are clear on the big picture yet lack details. I remember his size, the tenor of his voice, the time of year; but his face is an empty and blurred image, as if I can only recall the outline of what happened and who he was. And still others, more strangely, are incredibly vivid and detailed. I can recall the color of my shirt and the exact size of his member on me. I remember the lunch I ate, and the cigarettes I smoked. I remember his face; he isn’t a blurry image I struggle to recall. I can still see the lines on his forehead and the way his lips drew together in rage against me.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and think “ok…I was very cold and wearing a jacket so it must have been Fall or Winter….yes, it was because the soup kitchen gave us Christmas dinner…” and that is how I put some things together. It is like tracing lines, connecting dots, until I can place a certain event in the timeline of my life. “Was I 18 or 20 when this happened? Well… didn’t meet my husband yet so I wasn’t 20…” and on it goes.

Why are some memories so detailed, and others so far away? They were all traumatic. I was high during some, and sober during others; but it makes no difference in my ability to remember. Why, oh mind, do you insist that I remember the drug dealing pimp from Harlem who raped me but will not reveal the face of a similar man from East Orange? Why, oh mind, do you allow me excruciating memory of shame and secrecy during childhood but will not permit me his name? What is this game of ours we are playing?

There has got to be some reason, no? I just cannot figure it out. This memory puzzle, this strange collection of blurry and clear snapshots in time.

That man from Harlem, I don’t want to remember him. I want to forget. Yet, my mind insists on not forgetting him. But then, I wonder why on earth I am trying to coax details from the misty memories of my mind. Surely they must be worse? But are they? I don’t know.

I am my own puzzle, and my brain has stored the pieces in various places in different ways.

I suppose the most important thing is to resolve the feelings. That is what I focus on now.

If I cannot recall what I want to at will, then I will focus on healing the wounds they left behind. I will work with what I have available to me, and trust in my mind’s way of storing these events long left behind.

As long as one day, I am whole again. Free again. Me again.

Trigger, Trigger. (PTSD)

Where does this despair hide itself from the rest of me when life is going smoothly? Does it seep into the corners of my mouth when I smile? Does it retreat into the shadows of my insides? How can it escape notice from the very person it inhabits? Until—a nightmare during sleep opens me up and the despair that was hidden comes squarely before my face.

And it laughs at me. Taunts me. Turns my gut into twisted pieces.

Causes me to doubt everything that I am, believe, and wish to be.

I carry this endlessly deep space of despair around, it suffocates my heart and fills my belly. I force my body to move the way it is supposed to. I make myself walk around like a human being, like the person I was before the latest trigger. I can’t cry. I can’t think. I feel as if I am being stalked by this shadow enemy.

Just. Leave. Me. Alone!

I don’t want you here anymore. I don’t want to face whatever horrors of my past your trying to foist upon me. I have a present, and a future that I love living; stop dragging me down with those claws. Those claws of despair that pierce me, cut into me, slash my heart in two.

I question everything. And I know this is all a show. I know how it ends if I follow you down this rabbit hole. I have never been able to survive it. I have never been able to be strong. I always fall apart into a thousand pieces and then after you leave, put myself back together (yet never quite as together as before).

Is there a way to swim through this ocean without choking on the pain? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I feel emptied out. Terrified, again.

The sick thing is, as soon as this storm passes…all I see are clear blue skies. And then I wonder, what was I scared of? Why was I so lost in this emotional war? It all seems so..obvious and simple.

But then these triggers come and cut me open again, exposing that hidden despair. The same old cycle. I just have to hold on and let it tear through me. I have to be inert and unmoving. I have to allow it to run its course without choosing any actions, without thinking any thoughts. Then, I survive it without destroying myself. Then, I stand under the clear blue skies and realize the insanity of the storm.

But, is this the only way? Is there a way to stop these emotional tempests and finally have lasting peace and calm? I don’t know. I only know how to survive. But survival gets exhausting sometimes. I want to have that peace. Please, let me have that lasting peace.

And the storm is rolling over me….

The Lies of the Enemy vs. The Glorious Truth

I have been very busy lately with the end of this semester fast approaching, along with life’s other obligations. I’ve been able to spend some time praying though, and it has brought up a theme for me; resisting temptation and the lies of the enemy.

This is in stark contrast to the promises of Yahweh, and what he can offer us to sooth our weary souls.

For those us with mental illness and/or addiction, we tend to experience emotions in a BIG way. Often we are just overwhelmed by them, and hence we seek out a way to ease that pain. The enemy tells us “I have these drugs, all kinds of drugs, pick one…it will sooth your suffering and take it all away”. Or maybe it’s sex, gambling, taking big risks; anything that takes us out of the pain and brings us a rush.

But as we know, this never lasts. In fact, when the high wears off we are much worse off than when we first started. Not to mention the trauma, the family rifts, and many other consequences of our using that we now have to deal with. The enemy lies to us, and by the time we realize we are trapped in this cycle of addiction and pain, we face a huge struggle to climb back out.

But we don’t have to do it alone. The entire time we were searching, searching, searching for that fix—that high—that thrill, He was waiting with his arms outstretched to us with real hope.

The enemy tells us, “Go ahead, indulge yourself and feel better”

“Go ahead, follow your own desires and thrills”

“Go ahead, I can make you feel better than you ever imagined.”

When this fails, when we end up doing nothing and sacrificing everything for that fix/that false cure—we end up often considering suicide. Imagine how the enemy feels when he tricks us into following his way, and then takes our very life from us? That is exactly what he wants to do; steal, kill, and destroy.

You know how horrible it feels when a young person dies, because that had to feed that addiction? Or a middle ages person dies and leaves their children and spouse, questioning and devastated?

It is as if we can see how things could have been. In an alternate universe, in a world where their life had a difference ending; we can see how much was lost for this addiction. It is so breathtakingly sad. It was almost my fate as well.

This is a song by R.E.M called “Country Feedback”, and I listened to it a lot as teen. Part of the refrain goes like this;

“It’s crazy what you could have,
Crazy what you could have had,
I need this…I need this…”

I used to cry so hard at that, because it cut to my soul. I knew I could have another life. I saw a future that could have been mine; college, love, children, etc. but I needed my high so badly that I just couldn’t have it. I could feel that other future, and its loss (and my inability to stop myself) was so gut wrenching.

Of course, my future is not what I believed it would be but ONLY because I have resisted and fought and clawed my way out of that abyss.

Yahushua (Jesus) tells us that we must hate even our very own life to be his disciple. What he means by that is, we must put him first and follow him no matter what.

We used to put drugs first, which leads to death…

We used to put risk taking first, which leads to death….

We used to put sex first, which leads to death….

We used to put cutting/self-injury first, which leads to death…

But now,

Oh now we have something glorious!

We put HIM first, which leads to LIFE!

HalleuYah. Amen.

We all struggle, if you are being tempted please remember that no temptation will overtake you that you cannot overcome with HIM. He always gives us a way out, he always shows us the narrow path that leads to life and bids us to walk in in—with Him.

I wish healing for you all.

Shalom.

Not Transphobic, Just Another Female Survivor of Sexual Abuse.

Forgive me while I empty myself of contents under pressure.

Women deserve private spaces. We deserve places where only females are allowed for our safety and privacy. We deserve to be protected and not have our concerns dismissed. My PTSD has been off the charts this week because of all these laws supposedly about equality for transwomen (men who feel like women, yet what does it “feel” like to be a woman? what exactly is a woman brain like? hmm?). I have no interest in hurting anyone’s feelings, and I can see why a “trans” person would be uncomfortable using a bathroom that doesn’t “fit” their idea of who they are or look like. However, I am sick to my stomach of being told that I am bigoted simply because I do not deny biological realities, and reject the idea of a man being born with a “woman’s brain”.

I don’t “feel” like a woman, I AM a woman. I am female and hence a woman. I get the difference between “gender” as a social construct but trans ideology says gender is innate and supersedes biology. I am really hurt over the snide comments of “oh these people are obsessed over where people pee”. NO. That is not it! Do these “transwomen” and activists/supporters know how it feels to be completely and totally overpowered by a man? I do. I know how it feels to realize that I am defenseless against someone because their BONE structure, MUSCLE mass/distribution, and height surpass mine like the majority of men in this world compared to women.

I have a right to be concerned over my safety when ANY MAN who says he “feels like a woman” can walk into a restroom that was previously (for..well..forever until now) a FEMALE only space. I have a right to be concerned about how EASY it would be for a male predator to take pictures of women and girls in various stages of undress (this is happening folks!). I do NOT want my 5 and 3 year old daughters to see a grown man naked in the YMCA dressing room (like has happened in another state where this law exists).Their own father doesn’t shower and undress in front of them, yet I should just deal with it because some man “identifies” with “womanhood”? If that happened at a park, he would be arrested and charged with a crime.

Why do we have sex segregated bathrooms and changing areas if it suddenly doesn’t matter anymore? The same people always yelling about “rape culture” are telling ME that NO MEN will take advantage of these laws to easily access women and girls who are partially or totally naked. I don’t believe you. I do not believe you. I am SO tired of women and girls safety and mental health being put LAST, again. I am SO tired of men forcing themselves in OUR spaces.

I am not claiming all “trans” women are predators, and some are actually speaking out against these laws because they realize that female’s deserve female spaces. I am sure they are struggling with intense issues and I hope they receive compassionate help for that. I do believe that there are “trans” people who truly have honest intentions with these laws, but I refuse to once again put my safety and right to privacy and comfort put last. And over my dead body will my daughter’s live in a world where their safety and well-being is put last without me putting up a fight. If I lose friends, fine. If I am called a transphobic bigot, fine. I know how often male sexual violence occurs against girls and women and I refuse to be silent when laws are passed that erase womanhood as a FEMALE lived experience attached to our biology and place FEMALES (and only females) at risk.
I can not sleep well. I am having panic attacks. I am having intrusive memories. This affects real women, please stop pretending it is just people caring about “where people pee”. Men do not know what it is like to be a woman, and I take offense at the often porn-ified and empty version of womanhood propped up by cross-dressing men (some who transition fully, some do not, most don’t).

Our voice doesn’t matter. Our comfort doesn’t matter. Being silenced by society over laws directly affecting me and my daughters hurts tremendously.

Do you know how easy those bathroom doors are to break down? My mind keeps going over it in detail. The door breaks, he is standing there, I am already partly undressed. My heart pounds. My mouth goes dry. I want to cry, scream, fight, run, vomit. And this is NOT some unimaginable and will-never-happen nightmare of a woman who who has endured trauma. Women and girls *are* sexually assaulted in bathrooms and changing areas. Men *sneak* in, and are not caught right away and are then able to attack unsuspecting women and girls.

Well if it already happens, then the law wont make it worse right? Wrong! It makes it easier because now he doesn’t have to hide. He can walk right in, and if a woman complains that a naked man is standing in the women’s changing room SHE will be the one who is told “too bad”. He has the legal right to be there because the law has erased the meaning of femaleness that includes biology. He is a woman because he says so.

And if women and girls don’t like it, THEY can leave. That is what we are told. Either accept getting naked next to a person with a penis or you can go someplace else. But when we suggest a private “gender neutral” space for trans people we are castigated as uncaring bigots who are hurting their egos and sense of self.

WOMEN must leave our own spaces, unless we accept penises. That is really what it is. We have to believe that the man with a penis is *just as much of a woman* as we are. I do not accept that, and you possess zero evidence to back up this rigid dogma beyond the feelings of a minority of men.

I have a reasonable reason to be afraid, given the statistics of rape and sexual assault against women, those of us with vaginas. I can defend myself against an aggressive woman much more easily than I could ever defend myself against a man. And a woman lacks a penis to rape me with, so there is that.

Women are not allowed our spaces. Our fears are mocked. Transactivists call for the death, mutilation and rape of “cis scum” as we called. And now, we not even allowed to describe our own bodies as female.

“Not all woman have vaginas” they say. Therefore I must censor my speech and use only language sanctioned by males who insist their penis is female.

Did you know that a man pretended to be trans in order to be placed inside female shelters for homeless women? He sexually assaulted two of them in two separate places. One woman was escaping domestic violence. Are we allowed no safe place?

Yet, “these laws don’t put women at risk”. Tell that to the women who should have been safe in a female only shelter. Tell that to the women in a female prison who are housed with a violent male sex offender who decided he was actually a woman after all.

This post is kind of disorganized, shattered, here and there.

Excuse me while I go calm the raging anxiety inside of me, while society legally defines womanhood as a feeling and marginalizes females and their safety. While they march toward a meaningless and ever shifting definition of OUR lives and bodies.

Excuse me, as I go quiet my rage.

Excuse me…excuse me…

There I go, always asking to be excused. Always shrinking. Always apologizing.

So female.