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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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It Is Always Sexual Assault Awareness Month Inside My Head

by Sierra on April 7, 2010 · 36 comments

in Uncategorized

The weather has finally turned towards warm, and we’ve been outside almost non-stop for days. Rio learned to ride her bike, as I may have mentioned. Tonight, she rode it about a mile and a half, to a party at a friend’s house and then home again. That kid just blows my mind.

Serena too. Bumping along home in the bike trailer tonight Serena kept warbling, “I short and stout” like a drunken sailor, which kept cracking me up because my best friend and I have this joke about it being “past your teapot” when you’re too tired to remember the words to the little teapot song.

Anyway.

It’s good. It’s sunshine and water and coloring on the porch steps with chalk for two hours while the little one sleeps in her stroller and the kindergartner shows you how she can write WORDS with CHALK on the STEPS.

It’s also Sexual Assault Awareness month, apparently. It is always sexual assault awareness month here inside my head. I think about surviving my rape every day. It’s like static running through every experience. You get used to it after awhile, but it never goes away.

Lately the background noise is a lot louder. It’s like the film of my life has been double exposed, and in one frame I’m seeing today, here, now, the budding garden and my glorious girls and in the next…you don’t want to know what’s in the next frame. I do not want to know, but I somehow suddenly can’t look away.

This actually started for me a few months ago, this resurgence of all my old trauma. I often feel like I’m in two places in time at once. Not reliving the assaults, exactly, but seeing them happen again, witnessing them from the vantage point of my life now, as a healthy, safe 30-something mom.

I can’t describe how much it hurts. In some ways it’s worse, now, because when it happened in real life it was happening to me. Now it’s happening to this scared, vulnerable fucked-up kid I used to be, who isn’t as tough as she thinks she is.

What’s been killing me for months is that I can’t do anything to help that younger, more vulnerable me. I can only remember. I lie awake more often than I want to admit wishing there was some way I could go back in time and save my younger self all that pain. Or even a little bit of it. I’d settle for that.

Today, I realized there is something I can do to help, and I’ve already done it. I packed up some of the pain and trauma of being raped and stored it in – excuse this metaphor please – a little box in my head, to be opened when I was mighty enough to cope with feeling it. And I am now, and I’m feeling it. It hurts like hell, but I feel a little better imagining it helped me twelve years ago to delay this bit of grief and rage till now.

So sometimes I’m not posting and it’s because we’re playing outside blowing bubbles. Sometimes I’m not posting because I’m feeling too fragile and crowded by memories I don’t want to inflict on anyone. Sometimes those are the same times. This too shall pass.

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  • Carolyn

    *sends her love and many hugs*

    I'm always here if you want to talk.

    [Reply]

  • Paganmama

    Pebble left. Witness borne.

    [Reply]

  • Randy

    I hear you, and I’m sorry, and I’m glad you can do something to help that younger you.

    I don’t know if it’s of any use whatsoever, but in my patterns around my own younger-self (non-abuse) trauma I’ve found that I can actually reach out and comfort that younger self, and that it helps. There’s part of me that’s still reliving it (though a smaller part as I get older) and that’s happening now, not then, and can be comforted and held now, not then.

    [Reply]

  • andrea

    having daughters can make us feel very vulnerable. thanks for speaking your truth.

    [Reply]

  • http://twitter.com/veek Vika Zafrin

    Thank you for writing this down.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.scrivenings.net/ Scrivener

    I get where you are coming from here. About 6 years ago, I went through a similar process where a lot of the abuse from my childhood came rushing to the forefront suddenly and it was incredibly difficult to deal with it all again. It helped once I realized that it was coming to the forefront precisely because I was finally in a place where I could handle it, painful as it was to have to do so. And my own process was very much triggered by the birth of my own daughters and by striving to be a good father, so your final paragraph also resonates with me.

    For me, I found that the process of dragging a bunch of those painful memories up and facing them included upsetting a whole lot of the stability I had created in my life for longer than I’d have liked. But it really was a very productive, healing chaos.

    I hope you are well.

    [Reply]

  • GimliGirl

    As always, thank you for sharing.

    [Reply]

  • http://okayfinedammit.com/ maggie, dammit

    Yes.

    The double edged sword of these awareness months is you almost forget about the people that live it every day. Yes, I want it to be sexual assault and domestic violence and sexual abuse and incest and pedophilia and human trafficking awareness every day. Every day.

    In my own journey lately I’m learning what it is to just sit inside pain, rather than stuff it down or ignore it or avoid it or drown it or fake it. It’s hard. So, so hard.

    Thank you for writing this.

    [Reply]

  • MommyMelee

    I'm so sorry you're carrying this pain with you.

    [Reply]

  • baruchzed

    It makes me sad to read about yet another woman having been raped. Most women I know, it seems, have been raped or assaulted in some way. I'm sorry it happened to you Sierra but I'm glad you have the strength to heal and be creative and share.

    [Reply]

  • moominmolly

    I love your way of thinking about this — current-you helping past-you make it through. It's true, and amazing.

    I'm sorry it all hurts so much. You can talk to me about this anytime, even if it is incoherent grief and rage.

    [Reply]

  • http://decentralyze.com Sandro Hawke

    Beautifully written. I wish I knew how to help more.

    [Reply]

  • Kaz

    I’m not going to say I know what this feels like exactly for you, but I have my own analogs. I’ve gone through something similar and so I think I have some idea of how difficult this can be. I wish you courage and fortitude. :)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.theklarichter.com/ Thekla Richter

    Here with a pebble, listening.

    [Reply]

  • Meg

    This is an amazing summary of what PTSD feels like to me, too.
    I am so sorry that your younger self went through that 12 years ago, and I am so sorry your current self is feeling it, too. I am also unutterably glad, however, that if that pain was going to be in the world, it went to someone with the strength and grace to handle it with respect and with the empathy and skill to share both the burden and the learning of it with others. Thank you for writing this.

    [Reply]

  • http://acupuncturegirl.tumblr.com/ Morgan

    I can’t pretend to know how you feel. What I imagine is horrible, and I’m sure falls far short of reality.

    I am learning that acupuncture — among other types of body work — can complement other therapy effectively for PTSD, at a level that is different than the mind. Probably not easy work, ever. Another possible tool to consider for folks who have had unbearable trauma.

    I love the strength I see in you, after having had such a violation, and still being open to love and marriage and giving birth to two little girls.

    [Reply]

  • http://twitter.com/rebeccaweger rebeccaweger

    Sierra,
    Thanks for sharing this. I've been thinking a bit lately about how the traumas and trajectories of our lives continue to shape us. And you still have choices about how much and which sides of the box you open when. Compassion for self is always one of my challenges.

    [Reply]

  • kimberlogic

    *hugs*

    Thank you for sharing this. You continue to be a source of awe and amazement.
    I hope that writing this down is helpful to you and I hope you know that it helps so many of us when you share your joys, sorrows, amusements, pain. *hugs*
    I've been struggling to explain to someone how, after so many years, the jumble of pain and anger about my rape can still feel so raw, how I can be laughing and dancing and hurting at the same time. This and your link to another's PTSD post were very timely for me.

    [Reply]

  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    I have a whole other post yet to write about how having daughters affects me as a survivor. Or how being a survivor affects me as a mom. It's heavy stuff.

    [Reply]

  • megansneary

    You are insightful, brave, beautiful; an inspiration. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  • megansneary

    I had a boy first and the power of raising a young man to be a lover and defender of women, to honor them without patronizing them, to protect them without sheltering them… it was, and is, a grave responsibility.
    Now I have a girl too. To watch my now 4 year old son challenge her and nurture her at the same time is such a feeling of quiet victory.
    At some point I will tell them both my own story; how it made me both traumatized and strong; how it left me scarred and proud; how it made me ashamed and unafraid. I can't always protect them but I hope I can arm them and make them both catalysts for healing and hope and anger and rage and maybe change for our species.

    [Reply]

  • amadea

    I love you, babe, and I loved that vulnerable, all-over-the-place girl even when I was really scared for her, even when I didn't know how to show it or what to do. I'm sorry all this violence and trouble is coming into your glorious garden. But I'm glad you have such a place, and that it is strong and thriving, and I think the girl I was then would be happy to know that, too.

    [Reply]

  • Sarah

    The background noise metaphor is perfect. I hope yours gets quieter as you process stuff and that you get longer and longer intervals where it doesn't bother you at all. In the meantime, wishing you lots of gentleness.

    [Reply]

  • unalmas

    This kind of growth and healing hurts so incredibly much, even if you do have more resources for it than you did before.

    But – you are clearly different than you were when I met you and I am positive that down the road, you will be even more strong and whole and at peace.

    Let me know if I can ever do anything to help. I haven't been to the same places but I've come back from my own place on the same roads. Love to you.

    [Reply]

  • amberpagewrites

    That box, I have one too. And it is good to have – just remember, when you start feeling too fragile, you can put it away again for when the sun shines in the windows of your mind again.

    [Reply]

  • Erin

    Have I told you lately how much I admire you, for your strength and grace and wisdom?

    [Reply]

  • Martin

    I love you, in all your parts. Sorry you have to carry this load. I am here, glad and honored to be part of the soil of this new garden.

    [Reply]

  • RosaLC

    I've been thinking about you, and this, since we first talked about some of it. It is a wonderful gift you gave your younger self to take some of this on now. I hope the healing continues with increasing ease as time passes. And, of course, any way I can help, I want to!

    [Reply]

  • Christine

    Here's my pebble. We hear you.

    [Reply]

  • Seonaid

    This is my pebble for you.

    [Reply]

  • Christine

    Here's my pebble. We hear you.

    [Reply]

  • Ray

    Sierra,

    How I wish I could carry some portion of your pain for you–barring that, I am here, holding a pebble.

    My mother was raped, sometime before she married my father. I learned about it only through the whispered rumors that passed through my family, just before Christmas nearly six years ago. I have spent so much time since then terrified that it is a horror she relives every day, and that she has never been okay or happy since then. I have always been too afraid to ask her if she has healed some, because I am too scared to know the answer, too scared that I will never be able to make things better, that being raped broke things for her in a way that no amount of love or sunshine or happiness will ever fix, that asking her will shatter what peace she has found. Maybe someday I will be a brave as you are, and … I don't know. No one ever teaches you how to help people with things like that.

    But thank you for writing, and making me think and cry. Thank you for giving me hope–I have no concept of how hard what you are going through is, but if you, in the garden with your beautiful daughters, can confront your horrors, maybe my mom did as well. And maybe someday I will be brave enough to ask my mom myself, and help her in what way I can.

    [Reply]

  • Seonaid

    This is my pebble for you.

    [Reply]

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