Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Church Issues

It's been a few years since I left the Mormon church. I don't regret it and I know it was the proper decision to make for myself. I was ignorant of a lot of issues that have surrounded the church since its inception and I think that actually made the issue of leaving/staying much easier for me than it might have been otherwise if I had been enmeshed in a great debate. In the end, it came down to a question of logic. Is the church true? I don't know. Is the Book of Mormon true? Archaeological and genetic evidence points to no. Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Well, maybe, but his dubious history led me to suggest otherwise. Based on those two points, I concluded the church wasn't true. It was fairly easy to then reach the logical conclusion that I didn't want my name associated with something I didn't believe, so I resigned. Since then, I've been able to keep in touch with some of the other issues that have gone on and had gone on in the church. I became more convinced I had made the correct decision, but more importantly, I was able to connect with others who were having frustrations about the church and the doctrine involved. I've loved that because I do love to know the truth about things and I am connected to the church in the sense that it's my background and I don't hate it. I never felt much anger towards the church on a personal level. I never felt betrayal and I never really had many bad experiences.

Today I heard news that sent me reeling. I don't cry very often, but I was sitting in my car in the Target parking lot on the very brink of tears. I still haven't recovered. Two notable activists or, to be more accurate, figures in the church are being faced with a disciplinary committee. They will very possibly either be disfellowshipped or excommunicated. For those who don't have any acquaintance with the church, this means that what they consider to be ordinances or acts necessary for salvation or forgiveness of sins will be denied in one form or another. They may be kicked out of the church and essentially cut off from their family in the after life. For a Mormon, these are both very serious issues and concerns. To my knowledge, something like this hasn't happened in 20-some years and I am incredibly disheartened and discouraged. These people have either been trying to help Mormons fit into the church in some way and come to terms with their differences to do so, or have been advocating for change from within, not mass apostasy. More gender equality. More acceptance of others who feel different or that they aren't valued. I had truly hoped that this would have worked. I wanted so very much for the church to be more inclusive. I would still have wanted to be apart from it, but I would have welcomed it as a very positive change and something I could be more proud of or at the least less ashamed of.

I can't help but feel that no matter the outcome of these disciplinary councils, there will be an intense backlash. Already, I know someone who is contemplating leaving just from these actions. I'm sure she isn't alone. I feel that local leaders may feel empowered or be explicitly instructed to discipline members that they know sympathize with or downright support the positions held by these figures. I'm incredibly concerned by that.

I worry about the sense of loss these people will feel and the increased sense of a lack of belonging that the church's actions have caused. Just a few words from a dear friend made me hurt inside. "IS there a place for me in this church?" Is there a place for someone who questions? Someone who tries to fit in and who has a different take on things beyond the accepted version? I don't know. Is there a place for a feminist? For gays? Trans? I truly don't know. I've been increasingly dismayed by the reaction of the church to a group of Mormon Feminists. I feel they've constantly tried to bat at them like a pesky gnat that just won't go away. I feel that the message that they've tried to get across is that they're simply not wanted. They've been told that they're apostates and they don't adhere to the words of their prophet. These women (and men) have wanted to have more dialogue about ways that there could be steps towards greater gender equality. That's a good thing! It addresses the concerns of thousands of women and their male supporters. In some ways, this latest action feels like the final signal and the final blow. Finally saying that there is no room for someone who questions or doubts. Someone who wants more fulfillment than the church is willing to give them. I can't help but mourn with these women. I feel their anger because I know what it's like. I know what that feeling is and it hurts deeply. It pains me to see these people who are questioning and dealing with the very real struggle to decide to leave or stay to be told they're turning their back on God and his church and leaders or that they're going to lose blessings because of their decisions and other such things. There is nothing less helpful than words like those. If they're struggling with a sense of guilt, those feelings will only be further inflamed. If they're struggling to feel accepted, this will only make them feel even less so. Unconditional love and acceptance. Come or go, either way, you will be cherished. That's the message that needs to come across. I know that because I've been there. I've been afraid to tell family members I love dearly that I had left because I didn't want them to think less of me or to feel sorrow because I had disowned them in the afterlife. I felt so relieved when my brother asked me what my status or feelings were towards the church and after I explained, he said he understood where I was coming from. No judgement. Nothing conveyed that he thought less of me or was worried for my salvation, just acceptance. I felt free to discuss my concerns, which, in turn, made me feel more validated and loved.

I don't know how things will turn out and I want to believe the best and think that the church will decide to let these members remain, but I also know that they're doing this as a show of strength, so I find that an unlikely outcome, sadly. I'm hoping for the best and we'll see what will come of it. In the meantime, I'm still hurting.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Privacy Issues

I had a little breakdown last night that made me think about some things from my past and how they've impacted me in my current life.

With all the flooding that's been going on at my place, the connecting door that was between my kitchen and my landlord's living room is gone. In addition, the bottom 6-8 inches of drywall in my bathroom, which shares a wall with the living room is also gone. This has been the final straw for me at this place. I've mostly handled having flood waters and no safely running water. I've dealt with sudden interruptions from my landlord trying to fix things. I've been sleep deprived and stressed. But having that final semblance of privacy stripped away has done it.

I haven't felt comfortable going to cook meals or even going to get a drink from my kitchen, let alone taking a shower since this happened. I can see the kids watching TV when I go to get ready in the mornings. My landlord has walked into my bathroom while I was putting on my makeup. I could crawl into the living room from my bathroom. I feel exposed and, in a sense, violated. These were *my* areas. My private sanctum. I could putter around the kitchen wearing whatever I did or did not feel like wearing. Now I have to make sure that not only am I clothed, but that it's in a way that wouldn't be offensive to the parents of the kids that might see me. Or in a way that won't make me uncomfortable if the kids or parents saw me. Last night, I was finally going to take a shower because it was late and I assumed everyone would be asleep. But when I headed towards the door that connects my living area and the kitchen/bathroom, I could see the light from their living room and I just couldn't do it. I wanted to get a snack because I was hungry, but truly didn't feel comfortable. I would have had to change into something presentable, but I still wouldn't have felt comfortable. I feel like they have a little peep hole into my life and my world and I'm truly uncomfortable with that. I rented this place because of the privacy I would have. The ability to run into my kitchen naked if I so chose and grab a snack or make dinner. Instead, I have a potential audience.

I also feel exposed in my bathroom. I know that sounds paranoid because you would have to be on your hands and knees to see into it, but I've always felt very uncomfortable with the potential that someone could see. Even as a kid, I had moments where the male parakeet looking at me while I was changing made me a bit uncomfortable. I know Napoleon wasn't a perv and he was a bird, but still. This isn't what I signed up for when I moved into this place and I just couldn't take it last night. I really just couldn't. I was going to start writing this last night, but it was late.

Growing up, my personal privacy was very rarely ever respected. Personal boundaries were crossed repeatedly. My mother would knock on the bedroom door. Twice. Then entered. I tried locking my door, but that really didn't help anything because she always had the key on her, so if she didn't gain immediate entry, she would just unlock the door. If I put anything in front of the door...well that didn't turn out well either. She would pester me if I was in the bathroom too long even though I would stay in there longer because I was too anxious to come out and deal with her. I didn't have any sanctuary from her. She would come into the bathroom when I was showering. She would insist on going into changing rooms with me over my strenuous objections because it wasn't anything she hadn't seen before. She constantly trampled my personal boundaries that I tried to set. Because of that, I think I've grown to set a very high premium on personal privacy.

When it comes to people I'm comfortable with, I don't mind sharing my personal space. If needed, I don't mind changing in the same space with friends. I had no qualms about having my friend pierce me in places most people wouldn't be comfortable having someone else see. I felt that level of comfort and I didn't feel exposed or even slightly strange. It just didn't phase me. But when it comes to people I've lived with, I want my boundaries very clear. I remember when I was renting my first place, I didn't have a full bathroom of my own, only a partial. I was so uncomfortable with the woman I rented from that I don't think I ever took a real shower for the four months or so that I lived there. I took them other places, but not where I lived. I didn't have that level of comfort to relax my personal zone. I couldn't feel comfortable enough to have the vulnerability to be naked outside of my sanctuary of my established area. The second place I lived had the misfortune of being in a place where my landlord crossed boundaries with me or gave me a vibe that he was interested in me. To add to that, his son asked me very inappropriate questions and he and his friend tried to look into the bathroom when I was getting ready to shower. My third landlord would go into my bedroom and bathroom when I wasn't there to berate me for not having a perfectly neat area when I had a tiny space to live. I didn't feel comfortable and tried to restrict that level of vulnerability for when he was out of town to avoid interactions. After that, I had a period of relative calm. I had a bathroom on my own level separate from my landlord or even in my own room, which was amazing. My last place and the place before were either filthy or I didn't feel my belongings or bedroom were safe if I left it since they had stolen from me.

Boundaries are very important to me. When they're violated, either by a roommate using my things without asking or having a landlord come to my place at 11 at night to fix things or by having my living area exposed, it's incredibly stressful for me. On top of all the other stressors I have right now, this is something that has changed that I really am struggling to deal with right now. It's something I don't quite know how to articulate. I don't mind my landlord's family except that sometimes I think we have a language barrier. But I want to be able to interact with them outside my place in passing. Not across the room from me. I'm grateful that I have a door separating my living area from the kitchen/bathroom that is so exposed or I don't think I would be able to deal with things right now. I need somewhere that I can feel secure and safe. I only cooked dinner yesterday because I knew my landlord's family wasn't home. I only felt comfortable doing the dishes because they weren't home. It says more about me and my upbringing and experiences than it does about them, but it's still something that stresses me out considerably. I just want to pee in peace, knowing there are solid walls between me and my landlord's living room. I just want to shower knowing no one can see me. Knowing that I can leave the bathroom door open since we don't have a fan.

At this point, I really don't know if I can deal with renting from an individual again. Not like this. I need to be separate from the landlord. I need my apartment to come through. I need that peace and security right now. I don't have much hope that I'll be accepted into the apartment complex at all. My credit is crap. But I need it.


I feel rather frustrated. I've been shuffled from one agency to another and I still haven't found any actual help. Firstly, I was sent to an agency who provided names of therapists who were either way too expensive for me ($190/hour?!) or I didn't technically qualify because I wasn't a current victim of abuse. Then they sent me to a different organization who then sent me to another because, once again, I wasn't a current victim. Then they sent me to a place that gave me a bunch of other therapist names. I have to give them a call and see if they're taking any patients. I feel drained. Every time I contact any of these people, I have to go back over my past and it's really a stressor for me. I have so much going on and it feels like trying to find help is just making things more difficult for me sometimes. I would still have to find a way to work the potential therapy around my work schedule, which could prove problematic. I don't know if any of these people offer evening hours. I know my therapist growing up did, but I don't think that's actually very typical. Especially if they're willing to work for free or on a sliding scale.

I haven't been to the gym or worked out in weeks. I'm more exhausted than usual, which is concerning to me. I'm always tired, but this has been more so than usual. I think I'm depressed and stressed. I don't know how to fix that, but I'm frustrated. I finally got up the energy to make dinner yesterday and do the dishes afterwards, which was a lot for me. I know the only reason I was able to do that was because I went out and got Starbucks, though. I spent my Saturday sleeping. I was awake for only a few hours. I know that I was drained from going out of town last week. I was hoping that sleeping so much would have helped me this week. I think it did a little bit, but not a lot. I wanted to wake up earlier than usual and at least put on some makeup so I felt more put together, but that didn't happen. I didn't go back to sleep, which was progress, but I also didn't have the energy to get up and move. I want to say that I'll be able to go to the gym tonight, but I doubt I'll be able to. In theory, going to work out would be good for em and my mood, but at the same time, I can't get the energy up to do it.

The other issue with working out is that sometimes when I'm on the treadmill, I sometimes get bad flashbacks. Sometimes the emotions I'm trying very hard not to deal with can bubble up and it overwhelms me. I don't like that, but I do love my cardio. It's like being able to go for a nice walk without the weather. I like the feeling of pushing my body on the treadmill, but I also don't like the chances of having flashbacks or dealing with things that I would rather not have to face, especially in such a public environment.

I remember after Grandpa Sisson died and I was dealing with so much at "home" and work and then with his dying suddenly, I had to hop off the treadmill because I was about to burst into tears. Or I would ask Jimmy to show me how to use the heavy bag and then when he started, I just had to run away before I started crying. The gym and all the elements there are both calming to me and tend to bring up emotions I just don't want to deal with. In a way, it's a good thing I can't manage to get up the energy for it.


The past few days have been pretty crazy around the office and that's actually when I do most of my writing (despite having a laptop at home....).

I did the intake and they passed me on to another organization that they said was free. The only problem is that the program is only for *current* victims of abuse. They said I do clearly need some help and they gave me the names of some other programs or therapists who bill on a sliding scale. That concerns me as well because they'll see my income and wonder why I can't just pay the whole fee. Because I make sooo much money... Yes, I'm a bit bitter about that. I'm going to try to give these places a call today if I have the chance and hope that I can finally get some help.

Marcia came over to me today and asked if I was doing OK. I thought she had heard my conversation with the last person who called me. She said she hadn't, but she knew I was upset and she had thought it was maybe just because the office has been so crazy. I tried to tell her I was OK and she just gave me a look. I told her that I was dealing with issues from growing up and my parents. She thought it was that I miss them or that they'd been calling me. I clarified that it was just emotions coming up that were from the craziness of growing up. She told me that I handle everything beautifully and questioned if I was having issues with the Paxil I'm on since I had mentioned today that I take it. Her mother is on it and recently stopped cold turkey, so I brought it up.

I felt strange mentioning it to Marcia because I know that she has enough on her plate as it is. She still worries about Bill's cancer. She's worried about the business and about her mom. She confided that her dad used to beat her and I said I know what that's like because my mother used to beat me. So, she knew there were some issues and I didn't feel the need to go into more detail that would just make her more concerned about me. I don't want anyone worrying about me because in comparison to a lot of the times in my life, I'm handling things well. I'm not going off the rails, I'm still mostly functional at work and I haven't been deeply depressed. At least not in comparison with other times. I am still depressed and more so than I should be since I'm on the Paxil. My function at work is suffering. I'm not as active or proactive as I should be and yesterday I was a mess. Granted, it was insanely busy and hectic here, but usually I don't crack under that pressure and I did yesterday.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Intake

I can't stop shaking. I went through the intake process and it went well, in general. It was fairly basic, just asking about the history of abuse and whether anything was ever reported and if I had been in therapy before. They asked about any substance abuse and whether I had ever been suicidal and if I was currently suicidal. They asked about my income and I honestly was also nervous about that because I always hear that I make too much money for any assistance and that is stressful for me. If I could afford the $190/session, I wouldn't be calling this place. 

They said that they would be calling me back today or tomorrow after my file had been reviewed by a clinical specialist. I don't quite know what that means, but I assume they're looking at my history to see what sort of therapy would be the best fit for me. 

I know I'm going to take flak at some point for not reporting a lot of abuse. I didn't report it when Tim raped me and I didn't report it when I got taken advantage of at Stephanie's wedding reception. It took me months to realize either of them were rape and that's a problem. But I don't process things quickly. Even if I had reported either of them, it wouldn't have gone anywhere. I honestly feel like if a woman reports abuse, she gets screwed over and scrutinized and the guy is off the hook, all while the woman has to relive the trauma over and over. I'm not OK with that and I don't think that it helps anything. I'm angry about that, but I'm also angry that I didn't process anything sooner. I guess it made it easier for me to try to work out the aftermath of leaving Tim. It wouldn't have been easy to try to be conciliatory if I thought of him as a rapist instead of just the guy I didn't love. The likelihood that they would even have prosecuted him was slim to nil anyways. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thoughts Before Starting Therapy

I'm supposed to hear from someone in a few hours to try to get me set up with a therapist. If I'm being honest, I'm very afraid. I'm afraid to dredge up so many emotions that I've carefully hidden. I'm afraid that I'll turn into a non-functional puddle. That's what has happened every single other time I've had these emotions bubble up and I can't handle having that happen again. I think that's what drove me to seek out a therapist. I could see that this was coming and wanted to head it off if possible. I'm still trying to pinpoint what I'm dealing with. I don't know if it's Andy or my mother or Tim. I think it's Andy. This all started last month around the anniversary. I usually get funky around then, but this year was worse than usual. I could barely function at work. Since then, I've been feeling off and on more depressed. When I was calling around to find a therapist, they ask you what kind of issues you're dealing with and I had to explain that I'd been raped by my brother and then that led to being abused by my mother and then that I was raped later on by my fiance. I felt so shaken and upset. I started sobbing in the office. Not actual tears, but I felt that my entire body was being wracked with sobs. Like my soul wanted to burst out of my body. Anguish. I felt anguish. Everything I have tried to repress is bubbling up. I've done so very well at coping. I've been able to emotionally detach from everything I've gone through to the point that I can easily discuss what has happened to me without actually feeling the emotional impact. That's a double-edged sword in many respects. It's allowed me to function and to cope, but at the same time, it means that I've never really dealt with any issues. I don't know how to do that on my own, I only know how to cope. That's gotten me through so much, but I know it isn't a long-term solution. I really don't want more issues to be dredged up, but I know I have to have it come out so I can deal with it. I also worry about the level of therapy I'll get. I've never had a good therapist, so I don't even know what to expect. The last one had me drawing stupid pictures when I was 18. I never got any sort of benefit from her. It didn't help that she was intimidated by my mother. But my mother also had unrealistic and harmful expectations. She just wanted me to be "normal" so she thought if I went to therapy, I would remember what Andy did and then suddenly be fine. Because remembering your brother raping you wouldn't somehow fuck you royally... One of my concerns is that I don't process things like a lot of people do. Support groups are helpful for some people, but I don't feel alone in this, particularly. I know that many other people have been through what I have, and been through worse. I know that I don't have anything to be ashamed of, and I feel like I would be trying to be the support for others instead of just participating. I also need to stop putting myself in the therapist chair for this. I have a decent understanding of therapy styles and of psychology, to the point where I might know where the therapist is going. I need to put that on the back burner for this. I've spent a majority of my life being the therapist. This is supposed to be about being the patient. This is time for me to talk about what's happened to me and deal with it, not being there for other people. In a sense, that feels selfish to me because I also rationalize that others have been through so much worse. I'm too rational and I can step back from almost anything and take emotion out of the equation. I think I'm also worried about diagnoses. I don't want an official PTSD diagnosis. I know I have it, but I don't want that label. I don't want to be blocked from anything in the future because I have flashbacks or because of the stigma associated with it. I also have quibbles about self-harm. Technically, I do self-harm. But it doesn't negatively impact my life. It's more like a self-comforting action than anything, or a nervous habit like someone else twirling their hair. I don't cut, I never have, even when I was suicidal. I don't think that there's necessarily anything wrong with cutting, even. I don't have patches of hair missing anymore and I don't have visible scabs. I've stopped pulling out my hair, for the most part, but I still pick at scabs. But I don't wound myself to create them, just take advantage of what's already there. I've never gotten an infection and the scabs clear on their own. For me, it's as natural as getting dressed or taking a shower. It's just something I do. It doesn't mean I'm troubled, it's just a tic. I don't relish the thought of revealing it to a therapist because they take a very dim view of things like this and I simply disagree with the perspective that it's a "bad" behaviour. I've known too many people who just liked the pain or the relief. They didn't want to kill themselves. I don't even fit that category. It's just something I do. I have 45 minutes before the intake, so let's see what happens. I'll probably update again afterwards.