imperfections

Catastrophic Imperfections – Or So I Thought

imperfectionsI’m not one to make excuses for myself nor one to blow my own trumpet. This post could be seen as doing both those things. However my purpose for writing is to help me to be less judgemental of my imperfections. I’m hoping it will also help keep things in perspective for me.

In my previous post I was really upset with myself and worried about the repercussions of not being on top of things. After walking out of Jessie’s previous session I’d been asked to come back in to talk with her counsellor. I was convinced of a catastrophic outcome after previous experiences. Before Jessie was diagnosed I was told by a DoCs worker that her issues were due to my bad parenting. Despite that not being the case, that judgement has always stuck with me.

So after chatting about Jessie and things she had brought up, it turns out that ultimately she’s worried about me. I’ve been getting angry and my patience levels aren’t what they had been. The counsellor was concerned too, as I’ve never walked out of a session before, and we’ve dealt with some pretty full-on things over the 6 years we’ve known her. The expectation of hearing if I didn’t do xyz Jessie would be taken, was getting to me. I had to ask if there was any threat of me losing Jessie. The counsellors reaction was something I want to record as a reminder to my critical self.

She gently told me that if I was waiting to hear those words I would’ve been waiting forever as they were never going to be spoken. I was told the only time she’s ever rung DoCs was when I was sitting in her office many years ago, desperate for help. I burst into tears and she told me how sorry she was I’d had that fear hanging over me. She said she’s never had a concern for the safety or wellbeing of Jessie with me, ever. With Jessie having been sectioned so many times we became well known by the ER staff and the CYMHS team. I was reassured that there has never been a imperfectionsconcern by anyone, at any time.

We talked a little about me not coping. I told her I’m angry with myself because I know the parenting stuff yet I’m struggling to get it right lately. I was also upset because I’ve had so much counselling over my lifetime, yet I can still get to this low point. Counselling was supposed to ‘fix’ you I’d believed. So wtf was wrong with me? Again the counsellor’s reaction was not what I’d expected! I thought she’d remind of what I needed to work on. Instead she talked about the effects of trauma and why I’m feeling so overwhelmed. Instead of my imperfections being highlighted, I was heard and validated. What was highlighted were the positive changes in Jessie over the years which she put down to my parenting and love. Thankfully it’s allowed me to stop judging myself so harshly.

Apparently I’m doing really well, even when I feel I’m not. The counsellor told me that there are families there who aren’t coping with things quite small in regards to what I deal with and on my own. She reminded me that our lot is very far from the norm – we’re dealing with some very difficult and stressful realities. There are things about it which are triggering for me, bringing me to ‘why aren’t I fixed?’

The explanation was so rational it could’ve only been blocked out by my delusions of a tune up and off you go, good as new. All of our experiences stay with us. They go towards making up who we are. Counselling helps us process emotions and thoughts in the hope we can move on. But it doesn’t erase the experience, dammit, and the side effects can be triggered by any number of things, at any time.

imperfectionsJessie’s educated via distance ed and doesn’t have a social life unless friends come here. As the counsellor said, we live in a small space where there’s nowhere to get away, no yard to escape to. It’s not normal to live in such close confines with someone 24/7. Being mum, I’m on call 24/7 as well, no respite. What’s normal in that situation is to become frustrated and less tolerant with each other. I do have a tough egg here, and Jessie’s been home consistently for 2 years now. Having regained perspective, we’ve done pretty okay really! She drives me crazy but I love her to absolute bits! It’s gotta be that bond that gets us through, imperfections and all…

Solution?

A solution…that’s a bit like ‘being fixed’ isn’t it?! We’ll see.

I’d had an idea about creating a roster type thing that would give me uninterrupted time to study, write and do my volunteering stuff. The counsellor thought it was a fantastic idea so I’ve written up a trial timetable. The hours might change, it needs to be practical, but Jessie’s on board which is a positive start.

• We’re also going to see the counsellor each fortnight for a while, plus I can see her on my own whenever I need.

• I’ll also read this if ever I have any doubts about my parenting. I won’t doubt a counsellor who’s known us for 6 years. I also need to listen to those who love me instead of those who don’t.

 

imperfections

 

 

composed

Eventually The Composed Face Falters

Disclosure: Course language  

composureRemaining composed as a parent is like my Nirvana of parenting. It’s what we hear and preach – stay calm, don’t shout, listen, don’t argue, be strong, be patient, be kind. I’m exhausted just writing that!! I know I’m stressed and I’m forever tired, even when I’m not sleepy. So this perfect parenting thing isn’t going so well. Actually it’s going even worse than I’d thought.

Jessie had her appointment with her counsellor earlier in the week that had me unhappy before we even went in. I copped an attitude that’s not unfamiliar, but after a lot of seemingly little things put together, it got to me. Things only went downhill from there. The session launched with a vitriolic tirade about how I had forced Jessie to take her job back despite her having another job interview and despite her hating her current job. We’d had a conversation about her resigning months ago and weighed up the pros and cons. Then it was her choice. This was completely unexpected as she’d been complaining about not having enough shifts this week. And she was hating on me, no holes barred! Way too much, and I got up and walked out. The tears started flowing and didn’t stop for the next hour.

It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, in all these years of some pretty heavy times. Composed? Ha, fuck no! And even though I HATE crying in public I’m hopeless at holding back the tears. I didn’t want them interfering with Jessie’s time, and she should be able to have a place where she can unload about me. I just don’t feel I need to be there. However her counsellor says she can only go so far with Jessie without me there, which I find confusing. I know of other kids whose parents aren’t allowed in, let alone be privy to all that’s discussed.composed

The appointments are for Jessie to help her with her challenges. I’ve always gone in because of Jessie’s age, then more recently to bring up things she forgets to. Her counsellor said she had to stop Jessie talking because the time had run out which was a first. Jessie’s usually keen to get going! We both found that pleasingly amusing. So I actually think it might be good for Jessie to have her own space to talk. She’s told me that there are things she needs to talk about but doesn’t want to worry me. That kinda sux but if she’s happy to discuss stuff with her counsellor, that’s a positive.

So what now?

I have an appointment in the morning to discuss Jessie’s session and to make another appointment with her psychiatrist. No doubt we’ll also discuss my abrupt departure – brought on by not one thing in particular, but lots of little things tied together as I’ve said before. All these little things say mountains about me if you know what to listen for. But once it’s got to this point, it’s like opening up a can of worms. The worms all start piling out and you can’t deal with them all at once like this so you push them all back in and put the lid back composedon. You keep your hand pressed on the lid for a few seconds to make sure that fucker’s on tightly.

The next time, you suit up, ready for battle. You bravely open up that lid again, just enough to peek in and let one worm out. But voomp, there they all are – squished together in an unsightly mass trying to get out through that tiny space. Nup. Lid’s back on. Fuck it!! FUCK!!!!

All this makes life difficult because it’s little things now that are making me annoyed. Angry!! Which then makes me really upset and I bag myself for losing control and letting myself get angry. Swinging… Sounds fun. But it’s really not! I feel quite suffocated and the effort it’s taking to not shutdown into myself is not sustainable. The worst thing is having so much knowledge and knowing the tools to use, because it makes me acutely aware of when I’m fucking up. And when my tank is so low, fucking up is the best I can do. Thankfully I’m assured my level of ‘fuckinguptivity’ doesn’t rank too highly in eyes other than mine, but that’s for my next blog.

 

composed

 
 

pets

Pets Provide the Best Therapy

petsWe love our pets. We have two cats, Meisha and Ji. They’re members of our family – even though they can be naughty. Sometimes very naughty! But life wouldn’t be the same without them. It’s really lovely, Jessie and I each have our own special connections with them both. I feed them and clean the kitty litter, so they know who looks after them. However Jessie likes to play with them and pick them up for cuddles. Meisha usually likes to interact on her terms, but doesn’t mind a quick hug from Jessie.

Meisha is our tortioseshell, and she’ll be 6 next month. A long story short, Jessie refused to hand this little kitten back to the girl at the pet shop, and refused to leave the store without her. (Two weeks prior they’d sold the kitten we were supposed to be getting.) She ended up costing a fortune! It petswas just before Chirstmas and I had an expensive present stolen from my trolley in the commotion that I had to buy again as well. Anyway, Meisha believes she is queen of the house and claims everything as her own. I’m sure she believes we’re actually her pets, and not the other way around.

She’s a cat cat, who despite having lived indoors her whole life, prefers to dig in my pot plants rather than use the kitty litter, and shows all the typical hunting behaviours when birds sit on the balcony railing – or she sees an insect.

Ji is our tuxedo cat who looks very smart in his suit indeed. He’ll be 5 next month, and is finally starting to grow up…a little. He’s a wuss cat, and attempts to imitate Meisha’s hunting prowess which is incredibly funny. He studies her for ages. She has really taught him how to cat. He was only 5 weeks old when we took in these three little petsorphans. We chose to keep Ji because he started purring whenever you even looked at him. At 8 weeks of age his brother and sister were old enough and went off to their new homes. Meisha used to clean him all the time, but he’s pretty much on his own now. Which I think he prefers because she always ends up chastising him by biting his neck or ears! She has become a disgruntled mother, and her patience with him wears thin.

Meisha’s my hot water bottle at night, always snuggled up next to me, no matter which way I move. Quite often I’m woken by her wet nose touching mine, or her stare from up close and personal, willing me to wake up and pat her before she goes back to sleep again. There are times however when Jessie’s really upset that she’ll sleep on Jessie’s bed. Meisha’s very in tune with Jessie’s mood fluctuations and knows when to hide and when to keep her company.

petsPets seem to love unconditionally, and Meisha and Ji are no exception. And although cats are very independent and can seem quite aloof, I realise that ours more often than not follow me if I change rooms and settle down to sleep again, or just hang out with me.

Pets bring joy, purpose and love into our lives. They provide us with the best therapy, being company that is loyal, always happy to see us, and always happy to listen. The conservative notion that poor or homeless people shouldn’t have pets due to the expense is one I’m glad the RSPCA is providing a solution for with their Living Ruff Program. The RSPCA recognises the ‘mental, emotional and physical benefits’ of owning a pet, providing free food, worming and flea treaments, and access to vet services through this fantastic program. Being a not-for-profit, community based organisation they are always in need of donations which, if you like, can be generously made on their site here.

♥ Pets are family too ♥

pets

extreme

An Exasperatingly Extreme Exhausting Existence

teenagersI’m exhausted.  The cause – me and my extreme existence.  I should stop there because that sounds as if my life is full of adventure and excitement!  It has moments of both, but it feels more extreme in it’s stresses.  I’m hoping by writing what’s in my head, I’ll become untangled from it.

There is so much going on that I feel trapped with.  The feeling throughout my body is ‘I hate my life’.  I hate my life.  But that’s a secret.  One I wish had been kept from me too.  But no, everything’s got to be laid out on the table and psycho-fucking-analysed.  Not much is allowed slip by.  No-one is perfect but how many live under such extreme self scrutiny?  Surely it’s not meant to be so intense?

 crazy eyes GIF

It’s the very basic things that I’m fed up with.  Combined with all the little things playing ‘pile on’, I get to feeling like I might explode into a billion pieces.  And I see little peace from life in the near future.

I love Jessie, my family, and all the people in my life, and I enjoy my volunteering and study.  These things give me temporary relief, but as I said, it’s the basic things I’m hating.  Like where I live and the attitude from our community housing provider I have to live with.  I have to suck it up that we live in a place that is not maintained, or cleaned properly.  I reported the extreme stench of our bins, and the fact that the garbage rooms are never cleaned.  The place is only mopped about once a month, leaving the floors smelling worse then the bins.  But I’m told it’s all of an ‘acceptable’ standard.  I wish I could get paid enough to buy a brand new BMW by doing an ‘acceptable’ job.  Or work in the office of Link Housing – they don’t even reach that standard!!

I can never get hold of our housing manager, and she has returned my calls on extremeone occassion only.  Emails I’ve been sending in about a car parked in our driveway adding to the safety hazard – ignored for the last two months.  The last time I was on holidays up north, I’d rung after a leak in the roof had damaged my wall making the paint bubble and peel and the carpet discolour. My request to have it repaired had gone ignored and I was chasing it up.  How dare I!  I was asked by the staff member in a holier than thou tone, “Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have electricty? Do you have water?”!  I made a formal complaint about her.  Didn’t ever hear back.

We have dead gardens and the grassy areas are nothing but weeds.  I told them the gardeners rarely come, and all they do is mow when they do come.  But I’m told we have the same gardeners as another block where the gardens are beautiful, and that they come every two weeks to tend our gardens.  I was the second tenant to move in here, but hey, what do I know?!  I only live here!  We are the newest block in the street, and the most dishevelled after only six years. It’s embarrassing.  But the attitude is that we’re all shitkickers, not entitled to anything better than acceptable, or entitled to a voice – the very thing I can’t stand!!

What amazes and angers me is that it’s so often those claiming to be caring and advocating for those in need, that treat those they advocate for with such disdain and discrimination.  And because I do have a voice, I’ve earned myself a bad extremename at Link.  I could easily write a book with all the stories from living here over the years!  But in keeping with the integrity of Link Housing, when I asked the CEO who their governing body was, he told me the it was their ‘skills based Board’ and provided me the Chairpersons email.  My query as to how they can be governed by themselves has gone unanswered.  I would’ve thought that if a tenant asks, they’d be obliged to give a truthful answer.  I really can’t stand being treated like an idiot, but it comes with living in my world unfortunately.

The chief assets manager did call me yesterday and she’s coming out to meet with me on Thursday with the assets manager and the CEO.  She tells me that it is their responsibility to keep on top of everything here, and they plan to improve their processes, but I’ve heard the second part of that sentence before. We’ll see…

I’m also struggling with accepting events of the past.  The position Jessie’s in is a extremeconsequence of my choice in men. I know all the positive thinking tools. And I know I need to be compassionate and forgiving towards myself to be able to move forward.  However I feel like I’ve gone full circle, and am back at the point of knowing my choices are the reason Jessie has so many problems.  In reality, how can anyone really forgive themselves for their child being sexually assaulted by an ex?  If I was healthier in my mind, she wouldn’t have been assaulted because I wouldn’t have chosen him.

Seeing Jessie so happy after her social get togethers last week, did create a spark in my heart and did give me some relief.  Unfortunately the day to day picture quickly put that spark out.  Our normal is so far off most people’s and I’m finding myself wishing for a different existence.  I feel like I’ve lived in some kind of dysfunction for most of my life.  Things were supposed to settle as I got older, but that hasn’t been the case.

Jessie’s a very intelligent girl, but today she dropped her electives, so is only doing core subjects in middle school.  This leaves her ineligible to go on to Yrs 11 & 12, although she plans on going to TAFE next year.  I’m really worried she’ll struggle with a full workload, as she’s not used to it.  My fear is if she doesn’t want to put the effort in she’ll give it up, and then we’re in trouble.  I know there’s no point worrying about the future, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ve brought a child into the world who is constantly telling and showing me how much she hates herself.  She doesn’t have much care about her cleanliness or appearance.  Her room is disgusting. She’s blamed me, having shouted at me that I shouldn’t have fucked her father.  What do you say to that?!

As her mum I’ve failed to keep her safe and I know I’ll only be able to forgive myself if she has a contented life.

Then there are the ‘pile ons’

I’m owed over $27 000 in child support arrears, and this financial year owed a paltry $8 per week to contribute to Jessie’s upbringing.  It’s insulting. I’d rather not get anything.

extremeI want out of city living, but I know I’ll never be able to afford to move to the country.  That has to remain just a dream.  I want out of Link Housing, but I can’t afford full rents.

People are not my favourite species.  I’m sick of most people.  So many are arrogant, self centred, unkind, cruel and rude.

It’s been two and a half months since I quit smoking but I’m still having the vivid, extreme dreams.  I wake up feeling like I’m ready for bed.

I could go on but it’s all just whingeing.  So many things are aggravating me that I’m deep breathing so much I’m making myself dizzy.  I fear my head’s likely to explode.  Or I could quite possibly go mad…that sounds more fun.

extreme

 

violent teens

Handling Aggressive or Violent Teens

violent teensParenting a teenager is a whole new life experience. Particularly for parents who face aggressive or violent teens when they are disappointed or challenged. If you are one of these parents, believe me, you are not alone. There are many mums and dads struggling, faced with the same behaviours in their teens. It’s an issue that affects families from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Coming to know these truths prompted me to write this blog. The following paragraph from this article in the SMH explains so perfectly what often happens:

“The first act of violence, parents are so shocked and taken aback they don’t know how to respond,” Ms Howard said. “It escalates to the point where parents are too intimidated and scared to stop the behaviour.”

violent teensThe article says that psychologists and researchers have found this behaviour linked to a sense of entitlement and ‘cotton wool parenting’. While I don’t disagree with that, many other factors can play a role as well. For many, mental health issues and the inability to cope with thoughts and emotions are the cause. I’m writing from the latter angle.

In our case, my daughter, Jessie, went from being a confident, happy kid, to being volatile and unpredictable. Her friendships were becoming fractured. Her tolerance for disappointment or discipline was no longer existent. It was extremely shocking and confronting! I couldn’t understand why my violent teenparenting methods were no longer working. Neither did I understand why her reactions were so intense. I was living on eggshells, afraid to parent and at a loss. Jessie was ruling the roost with anger and violence. (No pun intended!) Things needed to change because it wasn’t any way to live for either of us. With support and learning though, homelife is way more peaceful and connected these days.

As a loving and responsible parent, safety for everyone must be paramount. Our boundaries around safety in the home need to be made clear to our teens. Consequences also need to be made clear, and we must be consistent in upholding them. Physical violence and destruction of property need a no tolerance attitude. Police should be called if your teen is acting out in a way that poses a serious risk to themselves or others. As harsh as that may sound, the fact is that violence and physical abuse isn’t acceptable behaviour, or appropriate coping mechanisms. Those are rules of life. Better our kids learn that before adult consequences come into play.

While we are standing firm on the no violence rule, we need to give another outlet. My daughter punched her pillows and screamed into them. If you’ve got violent teenspace, hang up a punching bag that your teen can take their rage out on.

As parents we can do a lot to help as well. By modelling the behaviour we want to see, we show them how it’s done, as well as demonstrating that we are strong and capable of dealing with whatever they bring our way. Teens feel safer knowing we are their rock.

Communication plays a huge role in dealing with aggressive and violent teens. Effective use of it can de-escalate the situation before things become out of control and police are required. Read my article here about communication holding the power for attaining peace. Like changing any habits, it takes practice before it comes second nature, but the pay-offs are well worth it.

What teens are throwing out to us, mirrors what is happening with them. If we can remember that they’re hurting and/or really not liking themselves, and try not to take things to heart, we can provide the best support. I think it’s important we tell them how their words or action affect us, so they learn about others emotions. However it’s most effective to stay calm and don’t react in the same ways they are.

Try and see humour whenever you can, to give you a giggle on the inside. A couple of weeks ago Jessie came home annoyed and yelling at me. When I told her it upset me when she spoke to me that way, and she replied “well I’m sorry you’re the only one here for me to take it out on!!” I burst out laughing (NOT in the good parenting book), so had to take myself off to the bathroom. I still find it amusing. The apitome of teenage thinking!

If you need help:

ReachOut.com Australia runs a FREE, flexible coaching course for parents to help us help our teens, with whatever the issues are. You need a computer and a phone, and 90 minutes for the first session. You can however make use of up to an additional three, one hour sessions. Click here for more info or to register.

ReachOut.com also runs a forum which is a supportive community of parents needing assistance or offering advice, learned from experience. If you’re feeling isolated, you will find others going through similar things, which can be therapeutic in itself. You can check out the forum here.

violent teens

mondayitis

Every Day’s Been Giving Me Mondayitis…

mondayitisMondayitis – this is really knocking me around lately. Nearly every day’s feeling like a Monday; with that strong urge to call in to life sick. I’m sliding through the days with the same amount of effort and enthusiasm as the cat on those stairs.

Time is passing in strange increments. It’s been four days since I was in the city, although it feels like a couple of weeks ago. Thirty minutes can drag on for what seems like hours. Hours can pass in mondayitisminutes. I’ve had splitting headaches and my body feels like it does after a seizure, although I’m having 4-5 aura’s a day. My muscles feel fatigued as if I’ve done a tough workout. My brain is hazy and I cannot trust that what I see is what is there. What is a dream and what is reality is not entirely clear. And no – I am not taking drugs!

Last week was spent managing nerves and anxiety before a TV interview Thursday morning. I had a couple of panicked moments over the preceding days, but was able to get it under control before it all went pear shaped. (No offence to pears. I love pears.) The first pounding headache came Thursday night. My mood took a nosedive and all I wanted was bed. The next morning I woke with that mondayitis feeling, along with an aching head that has stubbornly persisted.

mondayitisMy mind was fighting old thought patterns again. I question everything and get down on myself for whatever is happening to me. My neck and back were so sore, and I’m sure the cause of my headaches. I went to the gym on Tuesday thinking I could work it out. It wasn’t to be, although I did feel the shift of energy and faintly felt my strength scrambling to free itself from under that heavy, dark blanket. Happy hormones 🙂

By yesterday afternoon I could’ve chopped my own head off, so went and had a remedial massage. I’d say 45 out of the 55 minutes were pure agony, dished out by a tiny, softly spoken asian woman. I came home and crashed on the lounge. The soup I’d started cooking earlier would have to wait.

Today my muscles are sore from the massage but the headache is finally gone. The pain is so worth the reward. I’ve only had one aura today. I feel human again! So I know that I haven’t been well. I’m not really sure what happened, but it’s an awesome feeling having the fog clearing.

mondayitis

rape

Rape: Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

rapeI’m being brave. I’m sure some of you will wonder why I’m sharing this. Why would I want anyone to know? Your rape and trauma stories aren’t something you share with everyone. A big part of me agrees with you, for reasons I’ll explain, but part of me wants to challenge that. I read so many blogs where amazing people share openly and honestly about themselves. I admire them so much, and I take something away from each one I read. Yet for me, I have a different mindset.

That different mindset is what tells me these are dirty secrets, shrouded in shame, blame and guilt. After the rape in 1994 I believed it was my fault. I must’ve done something wrong for this to happen. My belief was that everyone would think that too. All it took was one person to ask “why didn’t you…blah blah?”, and it confirmed that belief to myself. It was this second assault that cemented the belief, and made me believe there also had to be something wrong with me.

I’d been diagnosed with Depression after the rape. The PTSD diagnosis was given after the assault. In 2015, Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis, due to a colourful mix of things I’d say!

In 1997 I was held up at gunpoint at my front door. It was late one Friday night, after I’d come home from studying after work. My friends dropped me around the corner and I walked home as usual. I lived in a dark, old unit block, with no light in the small entrance-way. As I was putting my key into the lock, I felt cold metal against the back of my head. I froze. I knew it was a gun against my skull. A man told me not to scream and to open the door. We got inside, and he told me he would shoot me if I didn’t *have sex* with him.

I was in a state of terror and panic, but I was NOT going to allow anyone to rape me again. Quoth the Raven “NEVERMORE.”

rapeNot knowing what to do, I spun around grabbing at the gun. I don’t really remember what happened in the struggle, but I was pushed down onto the lounge. I remember him saying to me, “so you gonna fuck me now”, with the gun pointed at me again. Strangely feeling at peace, I told him no, that he’d have to shoot me. I believed I was going to die. I waited for what felt like forever, however probably only a split second, for him to pull the trigger. When he didn’t, I screamed like I’m sure I never have before.

The next thing I knew the Police were there. My upstairs neighbour who I’d never met, had called them when she heard me scream. What she told Police, and told me later, has stuck in my mind. She’d rung because she’d first thought it was me laughing (I can be loud), but realised very quickly that I wasn’t. She said she knew something was very wrong. I’ve always hoped she’s had some fabulous karma come her way. I’ve experienced humans turning a blind eye. I didn’t expect anyone’s help.

rapeI wasn’t in a good way. I’d been sure I was going to die. But I was still alive. I was seeing faces. I was in a state of shock I think. The Police rang a really close friend who lived a few streets up. My dear friend, the Beer Fairy, came and picked me up and I stayed the night there. She sat up and had a few stiff drinks with me before bed. Work the next day was looming. On Saturday’s I managed the clinic that my friend managed during the week, so she was going to come in with me. I didn’t want to go, but she wasn’t going to allow me to fall in a heap.

Sleep wouldn’t come. Every time I closed my eyes I saw faces. The dark was messing with my mind. Fear took over. I was never more grateful to see the morning light. And never more grateful for my Beer Fairy.

To cut a long story short, it turned out to be another close friend of ours from work who did this. Police searched his house but no weapon could be found. I was advised to stay away from him. Rather difficult when you work at the same college and need to interact with each other. I’d freeze with a feeling of fear and dread whenever he came into the office. I didn’t even have to see him, however that feeling would take over and I knew he was there. I loved that job, and was half way through a Diploma of Homoeopathy, but had to walk away.

Not long before I resigned, I also moved out of my unit. I’d begun leaving my blinds down all the time as I was seeing faces in the windows. I didn’t feel safe there anymore.

20 years later I now understand PTSD. I’ve been putting all my symptoms down to being weak and pathetic for a long time. Jessie’s diagnosis started my education. I can recognise her symptoms. I wouldn’t ever say she is weak or pathetic! Or anyone else with it either. And I thank my fellow bloggers for making me think maybe I’m not either! It won’t change how I live my day to day life, but I certainly understand myself a lot better. Maybe I’ll start being a little kinder to myself. I know why I have the mental struggles I do. I know why going anywhere for the first time alone, sees me waking every hour from 3am, freaking out about going. It’s an effort to push through, and something no-one sees.

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.” – Edgar Allen Poe

I choose to challenge the Raven, like all the other bloggers I admire. Hopefully Jessie will see that she is a lion too.

A lion is stronger than a Raven… 

rape

sex culture

Society’s Abysmal Sex Culture

sex cultureThe motivation for this article on sex culture comes after watching a USA documentary called ‘Audrey and Daisy’. It tells the separate stories of two young teenage girls who were raped and filmed by their male ‘friends’ while passed out, intoxicated. The footage was then shared around. These poor girls were vilified by their peers and on social media. Audrey committed suicide at 15. Daisy survived her many suicide attempts and now advocates for other survivors. This heartbreaking story really made me think about our society’s sex culture and the major flaws in our legal system.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 21 380 victims of sexual assault, including rape, recorded by police in 2015. This was a 3 percent increase since 2014. 93 percent of victims are female. In 2013, NSW alone saw 3,951 sexual assaults reported to police. In the same year 715 people were charged and 315 were found guilty – a 52 percent conviction rate. Out of those 315 found guilty, only 168 received a full time custodial sentence. That equals 4 percent of assaults originally reported to police.

sex cultureThe United Nations report Australia as having one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world. 92 out of 100,000 people are sexually assaulted. However it’s estimated that 70 percent of assaults go unreported. This is most likely due to the fact the burden of proof has extensive requirements to be met. Additionally, court can be a lengthy and harrowing experience for victims. With such a low conviction rate, it’s understandable why so many keep quiet.

Being raped is a soul destroying experience. It strips you of your sense of self and erodes your feeling of worth. You feel shame and guilt for someone else’s crime. You’re tormented with flashbacks and riddled with confusion.

sex cultureIt was after I was first raped that I also lost my trust and faith in the human race. I was raped in broad daylight with people walking by. Not a single one did anything to help me, even after the perpetrator had gone. Feeling the overwhelming need to crawl out of my own skin, and my sickening instant despise for people, I walked all the way home. The bus wasn’t an option. I felt so dirty but showers weren’t cleaning me, no matter how long they were or how hard I scrubbed. Soap and water can’t clean a stained soul. I didn’t report the rape for two weeks due to shame and the unfounded feeling of guilt I carried, that I have since learned is common amongst survivors.

Sexual assault and rape are about power over another individual. Nine times out of ten the offender/s are known to their victims. Not ever is it the victim’s fault. No means no at whatever stage of the interlude. No definitely means no when one person is in no state to give consent. Sadly, abusers and rapists are part of society’s fabric. They don’t stand out as the people their labels describe them to be. Instead they are family members, friends, or co-workers, and often covert nice people.

sex cultureRape and sexual abuse is not a new phenomenon by any means. But the laws around it need a complete overhaul. As the figures show, too many offenders are held unaccountable while too many victims go without justice. Current laws give too much protection to the perpetrators of these abysmal crimes. Humanity needs to grow a stronger backbone and stop being afraid to stand up and help protect our fellow human beings from these crimes. Silence brings with it culpability – we need to teach this to our kids so they grow into adults who understand this.

This disturbing sex culture is more than alive and well amongst our teens. Asking girls for ‘nudes’ seems to be standard practice for the boys. Education is around teaching our girls the dangers of sending such photos, placing the onus on females to be wary of the consequences. I don’t see responsibility or consequences for the boys asking for these pornographic images of minors.

My daughter hopped in the car after tennis a few weeks ago quite upset. One of the boys in her group had been talking ‘rape talk’ she said. She stood up and told him not to talk like that, that it wasn’t okay. He then apparently said ‘aww you don’t like rape talk? Well you better get used to it.’ She told him she didn’t have to. It’s brave to speak up when nobody else does and I’m so proud of her. It’s disgusting that some boys still believe that sort of talk is ‘their right’, and concerning the lack of respect for females. The whole thinking pattern is faulty. And the sort of mindset that we need to change.

DON’T GET RAPED

 

communication

Communication Holds The Power For Peace

communicationWe use communication on a daily basis to interact with others and it comes in many forms. We couldn’t survive without it, but few of us really know how to use it effectively. Fewer of us are probably even aware of that fact. Communication is a learned skill.  Therefore until we become aware of the way we use our words and our motives for choosing those words, we go with what we know. Quite often we’re left wondering why the conversation didn’t go so well!

Emotions in general, ego and fear play a big role in our communication delivery. Being human, the influence of these three factors is difficult to overcome. This is especially true when we are hurt, angry or upset. Our faulty thinking becomes detrimental to ourselves and our conversations.

communicationHow many times have you said you’re ‘fine’, when you’re actually not? Someone told me long ago that ‘fine’ actually means ‘fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional’. Now think back again to the times you said you were fine. Does that meaning make you smile because that’s a bit of how you really felt? …why yes it does! And did that ever fulfill your need/s? …why no! And thank you for asking. Not surprisingly as none of us are mind readers. Being silent about our needs and verbal about our dissatisfaction can only cause discord in our relationships.

The definition of insanity is to repeatedly do the same thing expecting a different result. We’re all mad then – or at least have bouts of insanity along the way, until we change our unproductive ways of communicating.

We get better results if we can converse calmly and clearly, without blame, and while owning our own role. This holds true no matter who we are talking with. If we can teach our kids these skills they’ll have a head start in this big world from the get go.

I’ve learnt some invaluable skills over the last few years which I use with Jessie. They have helped reduce friction and misunderstanding, and have allowed for us both to be heard, which is what we are all wanting. I want to expand that and have those skills as part of my default method of interaction. Raw emotion and fear need to take a back seat to emotional intelligence for me to achieve this. Gulp.

As with learning any new skill, it takes practice and effort. I have a template on my computer that I use with Jessie. It’s helping me express myself positively, and hopefully teaching Jessie the same. The prompts are;

I feel/felt… e.g. embarrassed
when… e.g. you yelled and swore at me
because… e.g. my friend felt uncomfortable and left
and I would like… e.g. for you to have said ‘mum, I need you for a moment.’

It can be re-written until you are satisfied the wording is calm, non- confrontational, and clear.

communicationAnother one to remember, particularly useful when talking with our kids, is to use the word ‘and’, instead of ‘but’. For example, ‘I hear that you’re upset and you still need to get your jobs done.’ If ‘and’ is replaced with ‘but’, any recognition given is instantly taken back. Tying in, a saying I heard recently was “anything after but is bullshit.” Such a simple thing can be the difference between lighting the fuse or diffusing a potential bomb.

Listening without agenda is a learned skill as well. Also a vital part of peaceful communication. Repeating back what you have heard allows for clarification of any misunderstandings. Most importantly it shows you want to understand and you respect the other’s point of view, even if you don’t agree.

My goal is to achieve proficiency in these skills. It starts with thinking before I speak and listening with a quiet mind.

10% of conflict is due to difference of opinion and 90% is due to delivery and tone of voice.

 

me

Who Is This Person I Call Me?

meI believe the answer to that question is ever changing. I think the fundamentals of ‘me’ have always been there. I’m just changing as I’m discovering what those fundamentals are.

I heard something that resounded deeply with me at my first Buddhist teaching. And that was that our true essence is always there – it just gets covered over by piles and piles of dirt which represent the sufferings of human life. As we slowly dig away the dirt, we get closer and closer to our true selves. I love it because it allows for compassion and forgiveness, but most of all HOPE. And hope is one of my favourite things. For me, I find it calming, peaceful and full of possibility. I cherish hope as I’ve lived without it before. I respect its value.

I’ve lived a lot of my life off the beaten track in comparison to my family you could say. Bloody black wool – and I made sure I stood out like dogs balls in my teenage years! My favourite haunt was The Piggery at Byron Bay until it became more of a nightclub than a live music venue. We saw bands like The Violent Femmes, Midnight Oil, The Lime Spiders, Hunters and Collectors, Canned Heat and heaps of others. Unsurprisingly, I’d say my toxic love affair with being in an altered state began around this time.

meI left home at 17, which was probably more like “I’m moving out!!!”, “Great, get in the car, I’ll drive you!!! Don’t forget your toothbrush!!!”! I may have been a little challenging at times…karma has caught up with me! My mum used to say I was like the little girl in the story with the curl in the middle of her forehead. “When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” Although these days I’m not usually as horrid, this has always rung true with me. I’ve become better at dealing with my ‘horridity’ and keeping it leashed. Unleashed it does too much damage and leaves me hating myself. I push people away, and lose people I don’t want to lose.

meI haven’t dealt with traumas well. PTSD and depression grips with its filthy claws disabling me. My mind visits dark, bleak places. Life becomes my enemy and people my greatest fear. But fortunately bad days always pass, and then I see the me I like again.

I try to give more than I take. I’ll help you if I can. If you need me to stand up for you I will. I will fight for the under dog, and house the lost dog. When I’m good, my heart and my home are open.

I love to learn. I want to know how things work and why – mostly people. Psychology is a passion. I love the brain for its complexities. It’s interesting how our experiences can affect the brain, which in turn determines how we think and behave. I like to know what has shaped people, and why  – myself included. I have a huge capacity for empathy and compassion, for myself now too. Trauma and repeated heartache can break a person’s usual spirit.

“The way I am today has nothing to do with what I’ll be tomorrow.”

It’s a spiritual life I’m heading towards. My mistakes and losses provide for learning and growth. Communication is a skill I want to perfect. I’ll keep digging away the dirt and working towards a peaceful mind.

me

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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