Posted in Activism, advocate, fearless, safe

THE TRAUMA OF ME TOO

Regardless of your political affiliation or personal feelings about sexual assault victims or trauma, please consider all the people whose abuse or trauma still hides in the shadows, in their traumatized hearts and minds.

You may not know you are standing next to a sexual assault victim, that you’ve known this person for decades and they’ve never summoned the courage to tell you their truth.

Sexual assault is more common than you might think. People are afraid to come forward for a myriad of reasons. It’s complicated.

You don’t know.

You may not know that you know their abuser and to you, he may appear to be the most faithful family man you’ve ever think you’ve known. You’d never believe it because that hasn’t been your experience with that person. But he, too, has a secret he won’t tell.

You don’t know.

You may not know that when you roll over at night and put your arm around the person you love, that they’ve pushed their pain down so far they can’t even put to words what happened to them, so it remains buried, at least until the triggering event comes along to where everything explodes like a messy science fair volcano.

You don’t know.

All I ask is that you consider your words when speaking of this kind of trauma. You never know who is listening and what they’ve had to, or still are dealing with. I know one too many sexual assault survivors and the last couple of years have been traumatic for them, and this past week has been especially tough.

You don’t know.

To any sexual assault survivors out there still hiding in the shadows, if you need a safe place, let me know, because…I know.

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FEELING WHAT I FEEL

I have been sorting myself out for 45 years. I have found that I have two sides to me that are in constant conflict with each other. Given that my two favorite colors are blue and orange, it shouldn’t be a surprise I view those two sides as fire and water.

I am by no means volatile, but I have my moments as a seething cauldron of anger. I hold that anger in so I don’t allow the lava to burst forth, and usually this anger seeps out in hot, angry tears.  I let out the rest later, in private.

I hate those episodes, especially if the person who threw gas in the cauldron is male. Most men view those tears as a manipulative tool, when in fact, the tears represent all the words I wish I could say but know if I do, more trouble would arise. In fact, I see my tears as sparing the person across from me from a barrage of words, likely a barrage of hurtful, anger-fueled words.  Having been on the receiving end of such barrages, I hold it in, and the tears come out instead.  You’re welcome.

This week, during one of those moments, I was able to reel it all in, sit down and figure out what the real issue was. The two words I took out of the flames were humiliation and respect. I do realize this is about me and my reactions and how another person can make me feel. I take full responsibility for my reaction and my feelings.

My friend David Hayward (www.nakedpastor.com) brought the Feeling Wheel below to my attention.  I have been “unpacking” feelings for years, knowing that behind anger, there is always a secondary emotion (go therapy!). I found this chart helpful. I hope you will, too.

One thing I have taken from this week is I’m not ashamed of my feelings. They are real (though not always right). It’s what I do with them that counts. I am still working that out, but the valve I have in place, though it needs improvement, is working okay for now.

A friend asked me if triggers ever go away. Sad to say, I don’t believe so, but the trigger is no longer attached to a missile launcher, just a BB gun. I’m hoping one day maybe that trigger will be on a rubberband flipper (like I used to make with my brothers).  I have no notions or hopes that most of my triggers will ever disappear, but it is up to me whether that fact is problematic or not.

As always, I am at peace with myself, and that’s what matters to me.

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