Survivors are Everywhere!

Latest Me Too movement and running into other survivors in my daily life.

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This week has been a flood of Me Too statuses on Facebook and retweets on Twitter. I’m used to the somewhat common outreach from the Start By Believing campaign. I’ll see the occasional billboard around town or posts on Facebook by them, so that’s expected. What was not expected was seeing friend after friend on posting Me Too as their status. Friends that I never knew shared a similar horror as myself.

When I was a scared 12 year-old girl crying in the school counselor’s office with a large male police officer staring at me, I felt alone. In that moment, it felt like my whole life was a lie and I wasn’t sure how I would survive this ordeal. I didn’t know (or thought I didn’t) anyone who had been sexually abused.

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Until an hour ago, I didn’t know what sexual abuse was or that it was even something that could happen. In that moment, I felt hopeless and alone. I spent the next 2 years feeling even more alone while the court system forced me to talk to doctors, therapists, and lawyers. None of them reassured me that they had been through the same thing and it would get better. At no point did someone tell me that they knew what I was going through because they had. I know now that 1 in 4 children will be sexually abused before they legally become an adult. With those odds, someone I talked was a survivor as well.

For example, I went to get a professional massage. It’s the third one I’ve ever had and I always put on the paperwork that I am a sexual assault survivor. I put it because I don’t want to startle them too much if I emotionally lose my shit on their massage table. I don’t owe them an explanation, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s far less confusing for them if they know in advance. She read over my paperwork and didn’t mention it. I’m used to it, the topic makes people uncomfortable.

I do still get a bit nervous, so I have a tendency to nervously talk the entire time. We talked about my built-up tension in my shoulders and neck, and then how I relax. Essentially, I don’t. I work my day job full time, and when I’m not working, I’m usually working around the house or writing. This led me to discussing the headache of trying to publish my memoir and what all it entails. At some point, I slipped up and instead of being vague, said that a marketing plus for a publisher would be that survivors find other survivors encouraging. I wrote my book to share my story with other survivors in hopes that they could open up and start talking about their own. Without a pause she added, “Talking is what helped me deal with my own.” We didn’t need to get into details. We didn’t get uncomfortable. Actually, at that point, I relaxed a considerable amount.

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Think about this next time you are in a room or group of people. If there are more than 3 people in that room, chances are 1 of them was sexually assaulted at one point in their life, or 1 of them will. Looking up the statistics is frustrating and confusing. Every site has statistics have varying numbers. Part of that is because SO MANY victims and survivors never report their assault. How can you accurately quantify a crime that is only reported 25% of the time?

3 different men abused me without knowledge of the others. I didn’t know I was being abused until I saw a video explaining what abuse was. I accidentally reported 1 of my three abusers because I had a breakdown right after the video at the school. It was a year later before I remembered the other 2 abusers, and I didn’t report them for fear of not being believed. When I told my mother, she believed me immediately, but I was still terrified that people wouldn’t believe that 3 separate men had done the same thing to me. Now I know that it’s not uncommon for children to have more than 1 abuser, but as a child, I felt alone. I personally have a 33% rate of reporting abusers.

Survivors can be anywhere. We can live normal lives and not reveal ourselves unless we choose to. We have husbands, wives, and children. We can work all kinds of jobs and have all kinds of personalities. We don’t have a type. We can unite in the knowledge that we are not alone and continue to fight to survive. We are Survivors.

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Years later I discovered that I already knew survivors. Several in fact. A year doesn’t go by that I hint at it during a casual conversation and the person I am talking to is a survivor as well. So many times, I have said something, and they have agreed. In that moment, we both acknowledge each other. A silent agreement to persevere and reassurance that we believe. Many times they have never admitted it before; never had the courage to tell someone. Because of the fear from the other person not believing, denying, or even accusing them. We can find support and a kind of camaraderie among other survivors.

The fear of messing up..CPTSD

my child within

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Those of us who experienced abuse as children are absolutely terrified of messing up. Although making mistakes is a huge part of learning and of life, in an abusive home we got punished for things we didn’t deserve to be punished for and the punishment was directed at our core as a person. It wasn’t the usual discipline that healthy families use.

We were called names such as stupid, slow, dumb, sensitive, bad, unworthy etc. We were emotionally abused over and over again which led us to develop CPTSD. Now as adults we suffer with emotional flashbacks. Every time someone is disappointed in us, we are flashed back into the emotional state of our childhood. We feel small, defenseless, vulnerable, helpless and devastated.

The reason I am writing about this, is because I had a bad day at my morning job on Tuesday. My friend hadn’t told me she wasn’t…

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At a Loss for Words…

I took some time off to discover what I really wanted to say.

I’ve been rather quiet for a few months and haven’t posted anything. I’ve simply been at a loss what to say. When I started this blog, I had a lot of ideas about what to do, how to do it, and how to keep up with other blogs. I think that was my first mistake. I’m writing about topics that I felt like I should write about but not exactly what I WANTED to write about. A lot of my writer friends write about writing.

Who better to write about writing than writers?

Not this writer.

There are blogs upon blogs about what you should or shouldn’t write – how to avoid a passive voice, how to avoid cliches, how to… how not to… – you get the point.

When I first came up for the idea of this blog, before I moved to WordPress, the whole reason I wanted to start a blog was to share information. Yes, there was a bit of a promotional intent, but I wanted a chance to say things that I didn’t get to discuss in my memoir. I wanted my memoir to flow and that wouldn’t be possible with all the topics I wanted to cover. A blog lets me discuss all those other issue that relate, but don’t fit in with my book.

I wrote a memoir about surviving sexual assault. The memoir is about what I went through and how I overcame it. This blog will let me discuss topics that didn’t fit within the story. It gives me a chance to update, to talk about how I handle situations since the book, and seeing into the everyday life of a survivor. When I discuss sexual assault, I always make a distinction between sexual assault as a child and as an adult. While everyone’s situation is unique and just as important, I know and want to stress the difference of how such a horrendous act can affect a victim differently as a child than an adult.

I did a lot of reading of memoirs of other survivors and kept running into the same situation. Most of the memoirs at the library where focused around adult victims. I read 6 memoirs, 4 of them were victimized at adults, 1 was victimized as a child but involved being abducted by a stranger, and 1 was victimized as a child by a known perpetrator. I’m not going to get into the statistics (I tend to start overloading the reader with numbers and sources), but the majority of children that are victimized are by a perpetrator that is known to the child. Usually in a place that should be considered safe. There needs to be more awareness about the most under reported crime against children. That awareness starts with survivors sharing their story.

Soooooo, to sum it all up. I’ve been quiet lately because I needed to get the nerve up to write about what I want to say, and I am at the extent of my courage today. I will finish off this article and try to find my inner calm. Stay strong.

The Art of Procrastination

Now I’m writing this article about procrastination while I procrastinate…

What is it about Procrastination that is so appealing? It’s not that we set out to procrastinate, but while we are doing it, it can feel soothing. And yet, so amazingly stressful. It is fascinating some of the excuses we justify just so that we can continue to procrastinate.

“It won’t take me that long to actually do it, so I can wait a bit longer.”

“I’ll start right after I finish…”

“It’s just not the right time to start yet…”

“I’m just so busy right now…”

My current procrastination project is my Memoir. I’ve worked on this book for two years now. I put off writing it because it was highly emotional, which I admit was some procrastination, but it was also that I really wasn’t ready for people to read my story yet. It took me a month to actually write, thank you NaNoWriMo. I spent 3 months pretending to edit which was me telling myself that I would get to it, but I was too busy with any number of things. A few times I told myself that it would wait because there wasn’t actually a deadline. Then Camp NaNoWriMo came around and I decided that it was time.

Now that I’ve revised it and edited it multiple times, I put off deciding how I wanted to publish. I did a lot of research, but even after I made my mind up, I kept putting off working towards publication. That was about a year. I know exactly what I want to do and how, but even with all the resources out I need, I still keep procrastinating. I’m currently working on:

  1. Making a list of Literary Agents
  2. Writing a query
  3. A last edit polish
  4. Finding Beta Readers

I find myself with prospective beta readers and I still can’t seem to get myself into gear.

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Now I’m writing this article about procrastination while I procrastinate… Talk about avoidance. What is it that makes us put off something that is clearly important to ourselves?

It could be that due to the high emotional nature of my memoir, I am just not ready to put it into print. It could be that I’m having some self esteem issues now that I have a beta reader and don’t think my writing is up to par. Maybe I feel that my story isn’t important enough for other people to read. Or better yet, maybe my fear of rejection has stopped me in my tracks and is filling me with excuses. I can’t be rejected if I don’t try… right?

So while I am being honest here, let me admit to what I find myself doing instead of getting my memoir finalized.

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  • Cleaning detailed things that could take a long time
  • Cooking unnecessary and over-complicated recipes
  • Over researching pointless or useless information
  • Starting new writing projects
  • Reading books
  • Starting new craft projects

I’m hoping that I will pep talk myself with this article so that I can get myself moving forward.

What have you been putting off lately and why? What tactics and excuses do you use to justify it?

This post was featured on Voice of Literature e-zine.

Unicorn Swirled Happiness?

Did you get a chance to try the Unicorn Frappe?

I had to break down and give the Unicorn Frappe a try. I know! It’s not even coffee! I don’t go to Starbucks just for coffee though. I love their non-coffee drinks a good bit. So when I read that this drink was more like a Mango Milkshake with some pizazz, I knew I would be one of those people lining up for a taste of the magical color swirls.

To start off, the colors were fantastic! The bright colors made me feel a little magical inside. I know the lengthy complaints of what they had to put in that cup to make those colors, I’ve been hearing them since the release. Unless you research and monitor everything you eat and drink, then it’s not going to be much different than what you are already consuming. Next was the taste. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I received that first sip on my taste buds, but it blew my mind. To me, it tasted like those orange creamcicles that I would eat as a kid. You know the kind, they had to thin orange layer on the outside and were white on the inside.  It tasted EXACTLY like those. I gave the straw a swirl so I could see what the blue swirls were about. Apparently I didn’t do enough reading before purchasing. It was a sour blue raspberry powder. I gave it an A+ for shock value. There was a moment of regret, mostly because I really don’t like super sour stuff. After a happy squeal in my car, I swirled the straw around some more and took another drink. If you let the drink get a little melty, it starts turning from pink with blue swirls to smaller blue swirls with purple radiating away from the blue. It was pretty fun to watch.

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Needless to say, the drink was MAGICAL! I was super disappointed that they were SOLD OUT of every location in the Denver Metro area near me by the next day, so I only got the one. I’m really hoping that Starbucks will decide to bring them back, and hopefully give their poor overworked employees a raise the week they re-release it. Of course I posted pictures on Snapchat and showed everyone the magical happiness that I was gulping down. First question was if it was good, then what did it taste like. A few of my friends did point out how much sugar it had, but that didn’t bother me too much. If you get any of the sugar loaded drinks, it was comparable. See the picture below.
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This is a side by side screen shot from http://www.starbucks.com showing nutritional information of 2 drinks. One is the Unicorn Frappuccino Blended Creme and the other is the Java Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee. Both are non-customized size Grande. The drink on the left has 59 grams of sugar while the drink on the right has 66 grams of sugar. While I left the labels off the screenshot, there is one clue as to which nutritional fact page belongs to which drink. The Unicorn Frappe is a creme blend while the Java Chip Frappe is a coffee blend. If you look at the bottom of the picture, you will see that the drink on the left with 59 grams of sugar has 0 caffeine, while the drink on the right with 66 grams of sugar has 110 milligrams of caffeine.

The Unicorn Frappe actually has less sugar, carbohydrates, and calories than the Java Chip Frappe. Now, this isn’t much of a surprise because it is a well known fact that Starbucks loads it’s blended drinks with sugar, but it might be a surprise because the colorful drink actually has less sugar (not by much) than the coffee drink.

 

Did you get a chance to try the Unicorn Frappe? How would you rate it? If you didn’t get a chance, would you try it if they brought it back?

To Memoir or Not to Memoir…

A lot of people question whether or not they should write a memoir about their life.

A lot of people question whether or not they should write a memoir about their life. I just finished writing a memoir myself and I have a lot of people tell me that I’m too young to write a memoir. So let’s talk about what a memoir actually is. A memoir talks about a specific aspect of the writer’s life. So it could be a specific event that spans a very short time, or it could be several years but still pertains to that specific event. There are a lot of misconceptions about memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies, even for those in the writing/reading world.

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For example: A person is deployed overseas, sees action, and struggles with C-PTSD. If the writer limits the book to their deployment, wartime action, and the struggles they endured afterwards because of the deployment; that would be a memoir. If that same person’s book started when they were born until current day, that would be an autobiography. If a writer wrote a book about that person, studied their entire life, and wrote the book from birth until death – that is a biography. In theory, a teenager or even a child could write a memoir. Age has no correlation to memoirs.

I recently finished my memoir about surviving childhood sexual assault (CSA). It was limited to the time that I was being abused, the Complex – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) I suffered through for years afterward, how I overcame my C-PTSD, and then the re-incarceration of my abuser when he was convicted of recently raping another child. My memoir focuses on how that abuse affected my life and the cycle of abuse. It does not talk about my life before the abuse or aspects of my life that were not affected.

When it comes to reading, I read all types of books, from memoirs and biographies to most genres of fiction. It can be hard for people to change genres or from fiction or non-fiction, but sometimes it is nice to read something from the norm.

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Do you read fiction or non-fiction? What person in history would you like to read more about?

After defining a memoir, would you ever consider writing one? Have you already written one? If you would consider writing one, what would you like/need to write about?

 

History of Coffee and How it Came to be Linked to Writers

The history of coffee is a fascinating one. It all started out with over caffeinated goats in Ethiopia before or around the 10th century. It then made it to the Arabian Peninsula around the 15th century when it’s popularity grew into local cultivation and trade. As it made it’s way to Europe, it was declared a Satanic drink by some of the local clergy. The outrage built until Pope Clement VIII gave it a test and certified it to be Satan free. The story goes on from there, check it out here on the National Coffee Association page.

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Throughout history, coffee has been associated with education and writing. In England “Penny Universities” were places where patrons could purchase coffee while enjoying stimulating conversation. Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying ” Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” It has also been a coveted drink by many American Presidents and many notable writers such as Honoré de Balzac. While tea was preferred over coffee in America, it was the Boston Tea Party that forever put coffee in higher favor with Americans than tea.

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A lot of creative minds drink coffee (or tea) to help them focus because of the caffeine. Many writers (or creatives) enjoy a wandering mind, but when it is time to focus and be productive in a more linear fashion, caffeine is the key. Chemically, it has been found to cause your brain to respond in a specific way, backing up the belief that caffeine helps focusing. Neuroscience aside, writers are known for their rituals. Many seek out a place that is comforting to write while ensuring they have access to drinks and snacks. Coffee is a warm and comforting drink that stimulates initiative and confidence, and coffee shops give you a prime people watching environment. Listening to snippets of conversations or flashes of a person’s appearance can give a writer inspiration.

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Since so many writers use caffeine to stay alert when inspiration strikes, it grew to great popularity. It’s no wonder that coffee and writers go hand in hand. I want to go on a coffee adventure, to taste a variety of coffees and drinks.

What is your go to coffee beverage? And let’s throw out a controversial question, hot or iced? Let me know what you like to drink.

Check out the first post in this series.