It has been some time since I last used my blog space. Frankly, I’ve been exhausted.
When I am not taking calls all day, I am going to meetings all day. When I am not going to meetings all day, I am responding to messages, texts and emails all day. When I am not doing all of that, I am attempting to be a good mother, wife, daughter, friend – person.
When I am not doing all of that, I am wondering how I am going to stay healthy, creative, informed, connected in my soul on this schedule.
I am not a unicorn. That is to say, my problems are not that unique. I don’t feel like my struggles are special on their own. But I have to consider the position I have placed myself in. Within all of those interactions, one truth continues to rise to the top. I am here as an outspoken survivor of child sexual abuse.
My job has become a constant reminder of that fact. With every phone call, every meeting, every message and every text – I am reminded of how I became this person. With every grant I write and every appeal I mail off, I am asking people to heal children that have sexual violence in common with me. Sometimes people say no or they say hurtful things without realizing it.
I do not regret where I am today. I do not regret the choices I have made to fight child sexual abuse and to heal what I can. But I do have to admit that when the going gets tough this shit is fucking hard.
Being the out survivor in the room often means that people will condescend to you about your obviously emotionally driven, hysterical response to the world. It means that they will decide that your opinion cannot be valid because you have emotions.
It sometimes means that I am triggered, emotional and hysterical. Which also means that sometimes I have to have conversations with my husband, my best friends, my therapist, my family and those I admire to talk myself out of being triggered so that I can respond with my full self. That full self includes emotional righteous indignation, practical self-evaluation and even (barf) objectivity.
It is true that sometimes fellow survivors, those within the movement to end sexual violence or allies/bystanders will elevate my voice. They will boost my signal. They will use me and my story to make the point they have been trying to express in many different ways.
There is beauty in that. However, the crown jewel often resembles a bullseye placed right over your heart. The same broken, healing, injured heart you seem to be placing in full view of humanity is now a target. That heart is discussed, analyzed, criticized and dissected without your permission and regardless of whether you happen to be in the room. And if you are me, you are often in the room asking a wise counsel to help you discern which way to go. Still. It is painful.
Even when the response is positive or validating, you are still vulnerable. Even when you get what you’ve asked others for, you are still vulnerable. You are still standing in a crowded room naked with all of your scars in full view. There are people who will talk to you about your story at the grocery store, in the playground, at your office and in the parking garage because they will know your face. They are kind and loving. They are supportive and they want you to know that you’ve moved them, helped them, shown them something about themselves.
And I am so, so grateful.
But I am now the person who often lies when I am on vacation when people ask me about what I do. I need people not to know me. I need them to think that I am a writer or a stay-at-home mom or that I work at a nonprofit that helps kids in the most nondescript way. I need to be able to breath as something other than an adult survivor of child sexual abuse.
I don’t know what I am saying to you because this is not a request for you to not see me. It is not a request that you don’t tell me the things you’d like to say. It’s not even a post about how I don’t like those things. I want you to boost my signal if it will help us all end sexual violence or bring someone to a space of healing.
I think I’m just saying that I am tired. I’m saying that this is a lonely place. I’m saying that even with all of the privileges and militant self-care I practice, this is still the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. There are not enough bubble baths, long walks, good plates of food to deny that I am still in a constant position of vulnerability. I have to be so gentle with myself while recognizing that I have work to do.
And I want you to know that I am an amazing gardener. I can fill a place with growing things. I can nurture a sunflower taller than me. I love spiders and their webs. LOVE THEM. I dry things and make magic in tea cups. I tell bumblebees that they are safe with me.
I sing. Not often enough but I have a pretty good voice. I love the water but I don’t love to swim. I just want to be near it. I want to hear it and dip my toe in it when I get too hot. I love the things that come from the water. Waves, sea glass, bulbous seaweed and the smell of wind that spends its time dancing across lakes to find me at the shore. It tells me that I am near enough.
I am the silliest mother with the lamest jokes. I am responsible for the laughter, whimsy and downright irresponsible behavior in our home. I encourage bravery, responsibility and accountability. My family thinks I can make you love your most hated food in my kitchen.
This is a strange post filled with whiny words about the life I chose. I choose this. I will always choose this but damn. You guys, I am super tired.
And yes. I will accept cheese to accompany my whine. Thank you for offering.