My story continues....
After being raped, I became very secretive. I didn't want to talk about it, as I was scared. There were times when my secret was almost exposed. There was the Midwife at the OBGYN office that attempted to expose my secret, though she was not 100% sure that she knew my secret. Actually, she had her own opinion that I had become sexually active with a boyfriend and was just afraid to tell my mom. Back then, teen-aged girls did not have the same privacy within the doctor-patient relationship that they have now. It was my first time seeing her, and I had only scheduled an appointment with her because it was an acute appointment and my doctor was unavailable. She called my mom in to the room after I was seen for pelvic pain. She went on to tell my mother that she did not believe that I was a virgin, and that she thought I was lying. She then told my mother that I should be started on birth control pills. My mother allowed me to start on the pills, but because my actual gynecologist, who had seen me months prior, had stated that I had large cysts on my ovaries and he though it would help. Not because a grumpy midwife told her that I was sexually active behind her back.I had no plans to ever experience anything related to sex ever again... at least not until I was married.
There was a suspicious rope burn on my wrist, yet it looked nothing like a rope burn. I had a bulls-eye shaped mark left on my wrist from where the ropes had rubbed. It was where the square knot that had been tied was pressing in and rubbing. Once it began to heal, you could not tell it was a rope burn of any sort. It had sat against my wrist, tightly pressed in because there was duct tape on top of it. I originally though the guy were just being complete jerks, but once I realized they were serious, my fight took on a whole new level of intensity, and their knot tying was placed to the test. By wrapping duct tape over the rope, that issue was quickly solved for them. We lived in the country,and my mom saw the bulls-eye mark on my wrist. Off to the doctors we went. I was tested for Lyme Disease. My mom was pretty sure I was bitten by a tick. The blood work came back negative. Once it began to fade, it was no longer that alarming to my parents, and I was known for getting rashes, scrapes, cuts, and scratches, as I was a tom-boy.
Abdominal pain would soon become a part of life. We found out I had endometriosis at a young age, but I also was dealing with a lot of stress.
I am now going to go in to parts of my story that my husband doesn't know all of the details to yet. He will in the next few hours when he reads this. I haven't kept the details from him, but he said that unless it was really important for me to do so, I need not bring up every memory from the past. That he loves me, and what had happened to me does not change his love for me. I had already told him the gory details and per him he didn't need more unless I felt it would help me in some way. The rest is part of my journey in to healing.
What really was hard for my husband to hear was the fact that long ago I had forgiven the male "friend" who was one of the 3 guys. He was just caused pain by hearing my story to the full extent. This woman, whom he knew as a teen, and whom he now loved, just told him a story of how she was raped, and it had happened at a time when he was an influential young adult in her life, and he felt that he had done nothing to help her. It wasn't his fault because I had not let him in. I had to explain to my husband that I didn't reach out for help. I swore our mutual friends to secrecy, and I didn't let him in. I would go to Youth to Youth conferences, plaster on my smile, and only would share with those that I thought I could truly help. His opinion of me mattered too much... so he only heard rumblings after I told bits of my story in small groups, he never knew the full truth.
When I began to tell Joe of the forgiveness I had for this individual he just couldn't wrap his head around it. I didn't know the other 2 males, and I forgave them too. I only knew their first names and nothing else. Joe couldn't handle any more information after I explained that I had already forgiven and moved on. I had prayed and I forgave. He told me that it was a fresh wound to him, and he couldn't forgive. He said that he couldn't understand how someone could hurt me in the was that I had described. He felt guilt because he knew I was struggling for a while at Youth to Youth, but didn't know why, and if he had known why, he would have struggled with how to help. So what I write now, will be new information to my wonderful, caring, and supportive husband.
As for my male "friend", I have to see him after the rape. While I didn't want to see him at first, I accepted the fact that if I wanted to sail, I would see him. The first time I saw him he avoided me. He did his best not to run in to me at the small sailing camp. He had been younger than the other 2 males. He had been heavily influenced, and the last to participate. I am offering him NO EXCUSES, but I honestly feel, had the other 2 males not been who they were, this would have never happened. He made the choice, however, and he hurt me. He took something that I could never get back, and left me with scars. He was the hardest to forgive. He may not have had the power to save me, but he could have tried. Instead he joined in.
I explain to my children that their choices are their own. It doesn't matter who committed the "crime" first, that if they participate than they are just as guilty. Any one who knew the friend that had hurt me would describe him much differently than he was that day. He was outgoing. He was friendly. He wasn't a follower. He was a follower on the afternoon, however. He was weak. I would have never described his as weak prior.
We spent the first few days back at sailing camp avoiding each other. Eventually, late one afternoon, after a full day of activities, I ran in to this individual while no one else was near. I literally ran in to him. I was rushing inside to grab something requested by my sailing instructor, I turned the kitchen corner in a quick jog to get back out to the landing, when I ran right in to him. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "I am so sorry." and I knew he wasn't talking about stepping on my toe just then. From there we nodded at each other when we saw each other. I would tell other's that I felt he had an "ego" if they would say he was cute. Young girls swooning over older guys, and here I was making excuses why he wasn't that great. You would think I grew an extra head with the way they would stare at me.
I had planned on telling someone I had trusted. There was a sailing instructor, Dan, who had become my "rock" at sailing lessons. When I started there as a very young girl, I couldn't swim. He helped another instructor teach me to swim in private sim lessons that summer. By the time I was 10 years old, I had a full-blown little girl crush on him, only to have a crush on someone different by the time I was 12 years old. He was the one instructor that remained important to me though. I still wonder at times if he remembers the fool I made of myself when I was 10 yrs old, with that crush. I am the type of person that usually has to let her feeling known. So, I was shy and embarrassed, but I told him that I liked him. I think he was slightly confused as to what I meant and brushed it off. What does an older teen boy say to a little girl that just professed her love for him? I smile just thinking about it. When the kids threw the instructors off of the dock on the last day of sailing, I was there to participate. The instructors would usually try to grab a kid or two to take down with them. Dan grabbed me, and quickly realized the mistake he had made when we had hit the water. I was still scared of water over my head and could barely swim! He held me above the water as he went under, and then he surfaced to swim me to the side, apologizing as he did. For me, as a 10 yr old girl with a crush, it was a hero move.
Anyway, as I grew older and learned more about Dan, he became some one I really looked up to. We had many of the same Christian values. I trusted him and respected him, and as he went off to college he would write me. He would also call me, and allowed me to call him. I would get his advice. He would ask me questions, as he was planning to work as a youth pastor, and valued my input. He became a very important friend. He never realized that I often used him as a shield. I felt safe near him, so I avoided the person that had hurt me by sticking close to Dan. While I felt like an outcast, in most situations, when Dan was around he put my anxiety at ease.
After the rape I avoided the Racing program at sailing camp. There were just too many teen-aged boy trying to show off, and it left me uncomfortable. I became uncomfortable with all competition. Even today, competition, or any sort, gives me anxiety. The day I was raped it was a competition among two very aggressive college-aged males. They goaded some one that originally was not OK with their actions to join them. They bullied and threatened him in to submission, and used his younger age as a strong-hold over him. I didn't want to be around a group of young males with huge egos, and only on to two females who also had larger than life egos, and felt the need to prove themselves among the guys. The sailing camp too notice that once I graduated the last program before racing, I chose to repeat that program again instead of race. I made it known that I never planned on racing in the small boat racing program, and they then created a big boat racing for me, and others like me. A program that focused on sailing as a team. Dan became the instructor. He had been my instructor a couple different times, and this was very comfortable for me.
I wrestled with the thought of telling Dan what had happened many, many times. I wanted to tell some one badly. Especially some one who I felt could pray with me, who could help me with forgiveness, and also guide me if things took a turn for the worse. I know that Dan took notice of the way I would often seem to be "dreaming". If I didn't have an assigned task I would often sit towards of the bow of the boat, toes dragging in the water, belly to the life line, and there I would stare off to the horizon, and I would think of how to tell him. A few times he came and sat beside me and tried to crack a joke, or ask me what I was thinking. The jokes would distract me, and I would smile and I would return to the real world. When he would ask what I was thinking, I would stay quiet and shrug my shoulders. He would sit beside me for a bit, then crack a joke (as this was his personality) and get back to the sailing task at hand.
Once I had finally decided that I was going to tell Dan the whole story. I made up my mind. That was the one and only time I had ever thrown up on a sailboat. It took every one by surprise. I was perfectly fine, until I made that decision. The boat was set to tack, I turned to duck under the boom and slide across the boat to the windward side after the tack, and I vomited. I vomited all over the lines, the down haul, everything that was in front of the hatch, but behind the mast... it was all stained with puke. It was a pretty wavy day, so Dan said that the waves and rough sailing had to be the reason. He grabbed a bailing bucket and splashed the deck, and allowed the waves help to carry it away. The other guys thought it was slightly gross,and then they recovered. I was teased the rest of the day. I never got around to telling Dan. At the end of sailing camp, he pulled me aside to let me know that he wouldn't be returning as an instructor the following year, and my heart broke. Dan continued to write and call. We lost touch when I turned 21 years old, but between his last day at camp, and when we lost touch, I still attempted to tell him. I was never successful.
Every time Dan and I spoke on the phone, he just seemed so happy. I wanted to tell him about the rape. I wanted to tell him about the boyfriend that I now had that was abusing me. I wanted some one to give me an opinion, but not some one who was too close to the situation. There was one time, when I was 17 years old, when I had finally decided to call him and talk to him. He was so happy I had called. He told me about baking brownies in the microwave, and about his sister, and about his BIG news. He asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she said "yes". I was so happy for him. My joy and excitement was overflowing for him. I listened as he told me stories of how he knew she was the one. I remember him telling me that she loved to lay her head on his chest as he told her about his day, because she loved the sound his voice made rolling in his chest, and how it made her feel so safe. I remember thinking how amazing that must be. Joe is now that to me... I waited a long time to find that feeling.
I continued with sailing camp after Dan was gone. Before he left, Dan had encouraged them to create a "cruising" program for those who just wanted to cruise and relax on big boats without racing them. He was so excited the last day of sailing, when this announcement was being made to me. He knew it is what I had wanted. Dan had also had the camp create a new award, one that had never been given out in the past, a leadership award, given to me that summer. Dan left, but he left me with more confidence.
I was left to face the man who had raped me without my "security blanket". I was nervous at first, but I had been staying strong for so long already. It came naturally. I ended up feeling pity for my attacker. I began interacting with him. I saw parts of him that were once that of "my friend" before the rape. I allowed myself to talk to him, laugh with him, and even share food with him. I forgave him. I don't know how I did it, but I did. I no longer saw him through the same eyes. I now saw his weak side.
One summer my cousin and I brought materials to put hair wraps in campers and instructors hair (they look like friendship bracelets only they are wrapped around the hair). We happily put these in any one's hair who asked. He asked. I wrapped his hair. I was sitting close and personal with someone who once caused me a great deal of pain. My hands were in his hair & along side his cheek. I could have slapped him, but I had a big heart, and had already determined that he was weak, that he needed forgiveness more than he needed to be publicly ridiculed. I had to sit close to wrap his short hair, so my leg was pressed against his, and I was facing him. He looked me straight in the eyes, and he said, "I am sorry" and I nodded. That was it. I spent the rest of the afternoon completely at peace, because I knew whether or not he was truly sorry, I had forgiven and healed. I had already spoken to a school counselor, and I had spoken to some of my friends, and I had healed. I started to speak about the rape more openly at Youth to Youth conferences in order to help others. I felt a weight lifted.
I don't expect any one else to forgive as I have. The fact that I have forgiven, does not mean that I will ever forget. It is just no longer a hurdle, a wall in my life. It is not a moment in my life that defines me. It happened to me, but it is not who I am.
I feel so annoyed when doctors open my medical charts, and go through it, looking at me, with all seriousness, to ask me the same question. There is a question they want answered. They feel that it is the route to every bit of anxiety I suffer. Perhaps, this is it, this is what has been causing her stomach issues! They all think they have found the Holy Grail.
They take a deep breath, and they all scoot their doctor stool really close, they look at me straight in the eyes...
But first, prior to asking, they all want to kick my husband out of the room. He just cannot be present. There is no way that he could possibly know about my past, right? I mean, why would a man want to marry such a damaged woman. Joe knows. He knows about all of it. He knows more details than he probably wanted to know. He married me despite the truth. The last time he was at the Emergency Department with me, my surgeon spoke to both of us, stating that he wanted a female doctor to speak with me next. I just wanted someone to help. I was a little taken back when one of the top Colon Surgeons, who just performed surgery on me weeks ago, sent in a female Primary Care Physician to speak to me. I was there because I couldn't move my bowels for 3 weeks, had intense pain, and was vomiting uncontrollably for 16 hours straight. She looked at Joe and said, "I am sorry Mr. Calabrese I am going to ask you to leave". She was so serious. I turned to her and asked why. Joe was quick to respond with, "I am her husband". The doctor told me she had to talk to me about some personal matters and felt it was best if he wasn't present. I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "Are you about to ask me about being raped? If so, he has known the details for a long time. I share everything with my husband. He is my safe place." I saw she was taken back a bit, but then spoke to both of us. Wanting to know what treatments I received and whether this could all be stressed induced. They want to remove my husband from the room to make sure that I am also not still a victim of abuse. Many people who were once a victim, remain a victim, only to new perpetrators. I have to explain over and over that my husband is my best friend, my safe place.
I have come to expect the conversation. I haven't thought much about the rapes in years and years. Since my abdominal pain and bowel issues have become worse, suddenly it is the topic of conversation, and I am forced to revisit that part of my life every single time I see a doctor. You see, anal sex, forceful rape (vaginal or anal), sodomy, etc. can physically reek havoc on a rectum and colon. Trauma of any sort can lead to depression and anxiety, which can lead to digestive disorders. So basically, they all feel that perhaps my symptoms are due to unhealed past trauma. They all ask, "How do you feel now about your rape, and molestation, and sodomy that took place when you were just a young teen? Have you sought out counseling?" and I just once again shake my head and smile. This makes me stressed. I know how much I have healed. I know how I have moved forward, how I have forgiven, how I have found strength. I had my breakdowns long ago. I am now with a supportive husband. He was a friend first, before he was my lover, and we are so much stronger because of that. When I first visited the Cleveland Clinic, they were actually glad that Joe could not stay, and I would be attending my second day of doctor appointments solo. They used that as an opportunity to schedule me with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist then reported to the pain doctor in my presence. The way she emphasized the fact that I felt my husband was not controlling me, that he was "just the right amount of concerned, not too relaxed and not overly concerned", that he was not abusive, and that he was honest with me, kind of left me feeling annoyed. I understand that many, many women are in need a of a safe place, and need to be able to express honest answers to these questions, but it almost felt as if I was not being heard. I am annoyed that humans need to have these conversations at all, that people can not respect each other. That people hurt each other and betray trust. Personally though, I feel like no one sees past the "VICTIM ELISA" to who I am today. When it was time to leave, they kept telling me, that if I felt different, to make an appointment with them. No, my husband is not hitting me. No, I am not being the victim, and I am not crying out for help by fainting, bleeding, puking, and not pooping. Thanks!
When I was really young, I only went deep in to detail with a few select, close friends. One of my guy friends knew all of the emotions I went through. He knew all of the details of what had happened. He probably remembered things that I am forgetting even, and he took those details to the grave. We lost him a few years ago to illness. I slowly told more and more friends. I opened up to those who became close to me, partially because I was scared that if they found out the details from someone else, that they would only get partial truths.
Joe knew some of the details, and the moment we became a couple, I flooded him with the rest. I just never wanted to keep anything from him. I told him the important things, like: Where it happened. Why I was alone with these 3 individuals. How it unfolded. How scared I was. What they did to me exactly. I also went on to tell him small details, the "too much information details" like: How the rope felt when it cut in to my wrist, and that the rope was actually the line used for a main sheet on a laser sailboat. I told him what was said to me and who did what when. I told him what I was wearing, as every one wonders this. I had on a two piece tankini covered by jean shorts and a sweatshirt. We just got done racing sailboats all day long. I told him the way the floor of the van felt against various body parts (my back and stomach, and my knee when it was smashed in to it). I explained the way the air smelled, like sweaty men, dirty lake water, rust, duct tape and apple trees, and the aluminum smell of small boat masts. I also gave Joe permission to ask any question that came to mind. I promised him that it was OK to ask, and that I would answer honestly. I don't think he wants to know more. What he has heard has been painful enough for him.
I was raped in the back of an old van. It was a long van, with no seats other that the front seats. It was a van that originally had the 3 rows in back. The back windows were mostly covered by built in shelves, or hooks, and the supplies that were on them. The middle was empty, like an aisle where we would maneuver to get stuff or sit. They also stuck a laser sailboat kind of tipped on it's side in there at times, when only two people were riding in the van, so that they wouldn't have to tow it. The van was used for towing small sailboats on a rack trailer, and was full of everything needed for sailing, and small boat repair. We would all pile in and ride in the back. On the way to the race I sat in the back with a guy I had just met, and a female friend whom I had known since I was 9 years old. The two in the front seats were both males. The other girl that rode there with us, abandoned us when she ran in to one of her college friends, and decided to head home with them. I was left with the 3 guys. One I knew, the other two I had just met that day. This was before the days of cell phones. I was 14 years old. The van was full of center boards, rudders, tillers, rope and line of multiple thickness, cleats, duct tape (fixes every boat leak), and lots of other junk. After this, I could never bring myself to join the Racing Program at the sailing camp I attended, even though these guys were not part of it. They parked the van off of a dirt road, near the lake, among the apple trees on one of the guy's property. That is where everything changed for me. This is when I began lying to my parents. This is when I felt God had absolutely made a mistake. I never felt like I fit in among my family, or extended family, or school. The only places I felt like I belonged were at Youth to Youth conferences and when I was Sailing. This stole the sailing from me. Now that I have healed, I miss it deeply.
Some people comment on how brave I am for opening up. I don't feel that way. Everyone acts as if this should be kept a secret. If we make it safe for rape victims to open up, it will make it more difficult for rapist to get away with such acts. Perhaps they will question whether it is really worth the risk? I was victimized as a little girl, molested at the age of 5. I was a rape victim as a teen. That is what had happened to me. It is not who I am. It does not define me. It hasn't left me with unhealthy views of sexuality. I have healed. I think sex is a beautiful thing in a committed relationship, and I can appreciate the gift that we give to our partner by choosing to be open and intimate with them.
If you were a victim of rape, find your voice. It doesn't have to be a huge audience. Speak to a counselor, and then a close family member or friend, but just find your voice. Hiding the truth will only eat you up inside.
There are times, despite the pain, that I really look forward to just enjoying a normal life with my family. Due to my uncertain bathroom habits, my pain, my nausea, and my feelings of fatigue and syncope, I just don't leave the house often. I say "no" to a lot of invites, because people just may not understand.
On Mother's Day my husband wanted to take me to our traditional Mother's Day Brunch. I don't get to have my step-son with me on Mother's Day, as I must share him with his own mother, so Joe started the tradition of taking me out to a really nice buffet brunch, which isn't something that the boy would find to be that much fun, but our 3 girls LOVE to get dressed up for. The chandeliers, china, stemware, and flowers makes them feel like princesses. I was really looking forward to a nice morning out.
I enjoyed myself. I couldn't eat everything I wanted, but made sure I had a nibble of all of my favorites. There was prime rib, salmon, quiche, salads, omelettes, and so much more! There is always a very expansive dessert table. I had a few bites of apple pie and a chocolate covered strawberry. The girls love the cannolis, red velvet cake, chocolate cake, cream puffs, and the list continues...
I was only out of the house for 2 hours. I was making memories with my daughters and my husband. Every second of being with them was joyous.
The result: I was bed ridden for the rest of the day, and all day Monday, but it was worth it. I was tired, nauseated, vomiting, and in so much pain. By Monday morning I was so fatigued that I could not stay awake and I was falling over on the couch like someone completely drunk. I could not function. After my husband, Joe, got the kids off to school, and himself off to work (he had a difficult time leaving, but the phone was close at hand) I passed out asleep on the couch, curled up in pain. I woke for the first time around 2pm to vomit and go back to sleep. I could not eat a single thing. My husband took care of dinner and the kids after school and work. I was unable to function at all that Monday. I eventually crawled in to bed. Tuesday morning I was still in a lot of discomfort, but I was not fatigued as much. I was able to walk, and sit, and drink fluids. By the afternoon I was able to function a bit more, though I still had no energy to write, read, or do many physical activities, such as climb up and down the stairs.
A few hours of fun may result in days of recovery. I have to weigh my desire to leave the house versus the aftermath. I have to look at my calendar and the activities of the entire week, and not just that one day, because choosing to leave the house on a Sunday could leave me completely disabled for days after.
Mother's Day with my beautiful daughters was completely worth the days that followed.
I often hear how I "don't look sick". I get it. People only see me when I feel well enough to be seen. I rarely leave my house right now because I am too tired, too nauseated, and too emotionally drained. My body stands in my way.
I am asked so many questions over and over.
Perhaps this will answer some of them.
This past November I had my Sigmoid Colon removed in hopes to help with the health issues that I deal with daily. Any typical day I can have a whole slew of symptoms.
I have had multiple surgeries in my life time. I am only 37 years old. I have had laparoscopic surgeries due to ruptured ovarian cysts, endometriosis (needed to be scraped), and for exploratory reasons. I had an Appendectomy. I had knee surgery on each of my knees. I have had hernia repair surgeries when I was 11 years old. I have had a stick removed where it pierced though the bridge of my nose between my eyes, and became lodged in multiple pieces (Tom-Boy accident). I have had endoscopy and I have had colonoscopies (not counted as my surgeries though). I had a hysterectomy at the age of 32. I have counted my surgeries. I have had close to 20 of them.
I right now am dealing with a colon that does not want to work. My muscles are not doing what they should. They tighten when they should relax. They spasm all of the time. I have a bowel movement usually only every 14 days on average. This past month we hit day 30.
I am making trips to the Cleveland Clinic to seek help. In June they will try using botox injections in my rectum and colon to see if it brings relief.
I had a local, well-known, Colon Surgeon attempt to help after my previous surgeries did not (2 rectocele repair surgeries). I had imaging done prior to the other surgeries, in which certain results were over-looked. The fact that I had intussusception of the lower colon was not addressed. The entrocele I had was not addressed either.
The surgery in November was going to provide relief, or so I thought. The doctor went in, removed my sigmoid colon, did a rectoplexy to repair the prolapse of my colon and rectum, repair the intussusception, and repair the rectocele, and then he also repaired the entrocele.
The symptoms did not get better. They got worse. I began having new symptoms.
Each day is a giant QUESTION MARK. Will I be able to...? Will you feel up to...? What would you like to eat? What can you eat? Will you vomit today? Will you poop today? Will you faint today? Will you be able to leave the house today? Will you be able to leave your bed today? Will you feel well enough to attend your child's concert/art exhibit/birthday party/etc. today?
I spent my Birthday at the Cleveland Clinic, in another state, without my family, going from appointment to appointment. I have had to travel to the clinic multiple times, alone, to have tests done. I have missed so many fun and meaningful moments. This has left me felt torn.
I am left feeling like a failure because I cannot work. This, and missing my kids' activities, leave me feeling depressed.
Looking at the scars that are covering my abdomen, pelvis, and various other body parts, makes me feel self conscious. I have 15 scars in my belly button alone.
I married my husband this past August. He married me knowing how broken I am. I feel like the "World's Worst Wife" when I am hurting, when I am sick, when I am unable to walk, when I am unable to help. He loves me anyways... I had thought about postponing the wedding when the health issues became more severe. Back then it was mostly just pain daily. He wouldn't hear of it. He had me take some pain medication to help in the morning, and then by the time of the ceremony I grinned and bared the pain. Then after I said "I do" came the wine, another pain pill, and the love and support of my family and friends. I tried to hide any discomfort while I took the dance floor. I knew it may be a long, long time before I would be able to live like that again.
I often get asked, "WHY?" as in, "Why do you have all of this going on inside your one body...?"
Well, due to the endometriosis I had a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can sometimes lead to entroceles. Rectoceles can happen due to birthing babies naturally. Both of my babies were over 8 lbs, but I had the rectocele since I was a teen. Another cause for such could be trauma to that area. As a teen I was raped and sodomized by 3 young adult men during one single encounter. There was a lot of trauma after. So, the original rectocele may have been caused by that, while the severity may have been increased due to the births of my girls. The intussusception and prolapses may have also been caused by the trauma.
I am most likely vomiting daily, because food cannot pass through my system as it should with my colon not doing it's job. And the syncope is most likely due to blood flow changes when my body dumps, and also due to the fact that my body is not getting rid of toxins like it should.
I get "dumping syndrome" once to twice a month on the days that my bowels finally relax and allow me to go. You see, every day I take enough laxatives for a colonoscopy prep. They do not help. They build up in my system behind the solid stool. When the bowels finally relax, because I black-out, the solid stool is emptied. If you have ever had bowel prep you know what happens... hours and hours of liquid stool... which is what happens next for me. It is a horrible way to live. If I don't take all of the Miralax and laxatives, my bowel never fully empty, and then I feel worse and get even more backed-up. I cannot win.
No one knows for sure, 100%, the reasons I am dealing with all of this. I just want to figure out a way to fix it. I want to LIVE again, not just survive day to day.
Next time you want to say, "You don't look sick." Please stop yourself.
Today I pulled an "Elisa". There is no other way to describe the moment. I was working in the backyard. I was working on the garden, and Joe was was working on the patio pavers not far from me.
I am known for being a bit klutzy. OK, very klutzy. I like to think fall gracefully. Lately, with my stomach issues my balance is even more "off" and I am making a bigger fool of myself quite regularly.
A while ago I realized that every time I hit the hack while curling my balance was severely compromised. I would "fish tail" out of the hack, and then the last time I curled, I fell every single time I pushed off out of the hack. This was complete with a Bambi sprawl one of the times out of the hack. I had to clear my head and overcome how embarrassed I was to be falling on the ice. I have anxiety, and it was building up worse and worse. That was the last time I curled for season. My doctor may have recommended an hour or two of physical activity a day when pain would allow it, but there was no was I was going to do such in front of others again.
Now, back to the garden. Earlier this week, I had a moment where my stomach and back pain were manageable and I just wanted to feel productive, and get outside. I never know how much time I have with decreased pain, so I use it to the fullest.
I had decided to pull out the over-grown ivy vines that had been planted on the back of the house, long before my husband had purchased the house 8 years ago. They were left to grow wild, and grew beyond the rocks that bordered the little garden area, down the hill, and overtook much of the grass on the hill. I had ripped at those vines until I had no strength left.
Today, my husband bought me rose bushes to plant inside that rock walled garden, and grass seed to spread where the grass should be. I had a few remaining vines to pull free before either could take place. Some we quite large and deep. I pulled and pulled. My husband was near by, earbuds in his ears listening to a podcast while filling the spaces between the patio pavers with sand. And then it happened... a complete "Elisa". The root broke and I flew backwards, head over heels down the hill, over the downspout of the gutter, over the little red bush (breaking one of it's branches) and flat on my back.
My husband glances up when he hears the commotion that was beyond the sounds of his podcast. He doesn't make a move. He pulls out one of his earbud, and asks, "Are you ok?" half-heartedly. I remained there laughing. He stuck his earbud back in, and with the shake of his head, went back to work. I laughed harder. This made me think...
This man, has been come so accustom to my clumsy ways, that he barely responds at times. This is not because he does not care, it is because he realizes I am OK. I am just being me.
The other day when I dropped my amazing KitchenAid mixer on my big toe, he came running. He heard the bang, and my cry, and he didn't waste a minute. The 15 lbs of solid metal mixer made a nice large "THUD" has it hit my toe and then the floor. Joe grabbed me an ice pack and took care of me. I told him that I needed some space due to my pain and embarrassment, he left the kitchen calling: "Are you sure you will be OK?" from the living room where he had retreated to give me the space I had requested. My husband is amazing. My mixer is amazing too! It still works.
Today, I brushed myself off, noted that my butt felt bruised, and then returned to tearing out the remaining vine roots. I then began to dig the holes for the rose bushes, thinking about what had just taken place. I kept laughing, reviewing the whole scene in my head. Joe kept glancing up at me, shaking his head. I laughed harder. Heck, I am laughing now as I type this. You see, I kept thinking that this silly, silly, wonderful man LOVES ME! He truly loves me. He has known me for over 20 years, and a year ago we joined our families together in to a beautifully blended family of 4 children and 2 adults (4 adults when his parents visit for the summer). Joe has known all about me. He knew about my health concerns. He knew about every detail of my past, my childhood traumas, rapes, and abuse by my exes. He knew my dreams. He knew my annoying habits, and he knew about all of the these silly quirks, and he still chose to marry me. All of these things annoyed my ex. All of the things that made me ME drove my ex crazy. I am 100% comfortable with Joe, and where I would be embarrassed in front of anyone else, in front of him I am myself. I am comfortable. I am able to laugh. Joe loves me in a way no one else possibly can. He loves me beyond my many, many faults.
Another man would look at me and be embarrassed by me. Another man would see me as broken. Other men have seen me as damaged, and not worthy. My ex had even said, "If you deserved love and affection, you would receive love and affection" more than once, leaving me wounded and feeling worthless. Joe has made an effort to get me to believe the opposite, showering me with love, just because... not because I did anything to deserve it. Joe sees me as strong, and even seems to be proud to be my husband.
At times I question how I possibly could deserve a partner like him. But then I hear him eating a pretzel rod on the couch beside me, and realize, I love his quirks too. Where any other woman would criticize his little "annoying" habits, I find them to be cute, and only love him more. Even when he is munching on a pretzel rod, or loudly gulping his drink. I love my unique, handsome, sweet husband more every single day! I am blessed that he chooses me every day. In the words of Joe, "This is how it is supposed to be".
What My Heart Longed For
Once you were just a feeling, a hope.
That someone out there could love me fully, even after seeing my scars.
You were a past memory, a time in my life that was long since gone.
We revisited the past time and time again, sharing our memories, and then we went our separate ways.
But then you saw me, you truly saw my dark and ugly, but saw strength instead.
And you gently touched a few of the scars that I allowed to be public, and said "allow me".
Allow me see all of your scars, even the most private ones.
Allow me to show you your beauty.
Allow me hold your hand.
Allow me be your strength when you are weak.
Allow me walk beside you.
Allow me laugh with you.
Allow me be your best friend.
Allow me hold you when you cry.
Allow me to keep you secure as you are screaming out in your sleep.
Allow me to scare away all of those nightmares.
Allow me to help you.
Allow me to LOVE you.
Allow me to have the road map to your soul.
Allow me to know your dreams, and help you try to reach them.
Allow me to show you the definition of "husband".
I can give you this, and more.
I have been blessed since the day I said "yes", and allowed you to do all of that and more. In return, you have allowed me so much.
You allowed me to:
Be your one and only.
To hug you any time, anywhere.
Find security beside you.
See all of your scars.
Touch your physical scars, lovingly memorizing their borders.
Gently handle the emotional scars, taking away some of the burden you carry.
Care for you.
Be your strength when you are weak.
Wipe away the rare tear, and kiss your soul.
Hold your hand.
Submit to you.
Be your wife.
Be your dream come true, and every fantasy.
Walk beside you every day.
Find the missing parts of me in you.
You are no longer just a "feeling" or a "hope", or a long-lost dream.
You are real.
You are mine.
I am grateful.
I am blessed.
You are no longer my past, you are my future, my every tomorrow.
No one really knows the pain that others may be hiding. We look at one another, and make judgments. They are made based on what a person is wearing, where a person is from, or the way a person walks, talks, or interacts. How often do we stop to ask ourselves why a person is the way they are? Why is he so confident? Why is she so self-assured? Why is she so shy? Why does he seem dark and gloomy?
I have always been known as perky, bubbly, and happy. Friends didn't understand that I could relate to their pain, and their fears. Many friends shied away from me when they felt their pain was beyond my comprehension. No one knew what I was hiding. I was labeled as Naive, even as an adult. When I went back to nursing school, I was seen as a know-it-all and way too perky. I hid behind "perky" and buried my pain in "bubbly".
The first time I became shattered, I was 5 years old. Boys in my neighborhood decided to use me like a toy, and then break me. The only reason I made it through was because of prayer, and my forgiving nature. It changed me. It scarred me.
There was a boy that was older. He lived across the street from us. He lived with his mom. We would often play together, and when we went to his house his mother was supposed to keep an eye on us. What could go wrong in the backyard? Behind the garage? He was supposed to be my playmate, my friend. I still get a chill with the name, "Bobby". Sometimes older boys would also come over to hang-out and play in Bobby's yard. At times they would also come over to our yard, but my mother seemed less than thrilled to have them there, so usually they would just talk to us in the front of the house or at Bobby's.
One day my sister was not with me, and I was in Bobby's yard playing. Bobby's older friends were showing off. The group of boys led me behind the garage. We were out of sight. I was 5 years old. With me standing there, they began to explain to Bobby what boys are supposed to do to girls. I remember them teasing Bobby, telling him he is not as "developed" as they were (in not such polite terms). I was confused about what was being said. They blocked my only path out of that small enclosed place. I was 5 years old. I remember the things they did to me that day, and the times that followed. I remember the way they acted out sexual intercourse, dry-humping me through my clothes. I remember the tallest boy putting his hand down the back of my shorts. I remember all of the touching, kissing, and pain that followed. As the boys became more confident that they would not get caught, future interactions would be more invasive. They would keep pushing their limits, and hurt me more.
At the end of that first interaction, one of the boys pressed a lit cigarette against my right upper arm. I was told not to tell. It was his way of warning me that this could never be spoken of. I still have the scar. I was given more scars at later dates. I was told that my family would get hurt if I told. I was told that they would kill me dog if I told. I was burned with lighters, and cigarettes at future "play dates". I was threatened with a blade. The marks on my body didn't even come in to question by the adults in my life. I was accident prone. I had a habit of getting hurt. They looked like my many other wounds of play. I rarely complained about cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
My mother had no clue this was happening. I remember my mom taking us across the street to Bobby's Birthday party. It was in his backyard. Adults were present. I remember trying to go across the monkey bars. I remember his mom and my mom standing close, talking. My brain was that of a small child. This time I went untouched, so I thought that maybe things were different. No, it didn't end. That day was just a day of false hope. The boys would continue to come across the street in the future, take my hand, and take me back behind the garage. I was taught how to touch them. I was told instructions that I had to follow without making a peep. One of them was always keeping an eye out, and an ear open for a parent to walk over or call out our names. I suffered pains. My young brain was taught about sex before it was capable of processing it all.
I tried to tell my parents, without actually saying the words. Around the age of 6 years old I attempted to write a letter. I wrote a letter to myself. I put it in the mailbox like regular, every day mail. My dad found it. I remember him telling me that mail cannot go out without a stamp. I don't even know if I was able to write or spell very well at that age, but I remember what I had tried to express. I remember that I had wanted to write about kissing, and sex, and the penises I was forced to look at, touch, and do multiple things to. I wrote about pain. I did not have a word for "rape" yet. I wrote about nudity. I wrote the letter as if one of those boys had written it to me. I knew if my parents saw a letter to me containing such vulgar subjects it would have to raise questions. The letter must have been unreadable, just a bunch of child scribbles with words missing letters, because when I saw that letter in my dad's hands, instead of it being my saving grace, it was a lesson on how to send mail properly.
I never tried to tell anyone again. My cat had been shot in the head by a BB gun. Most likely, it was unrelated, but as a kid, I thought it was because I had tried to tell. They had told me they would kill my pets. I became very fearful of the dark, and of being in my room alone. They told me that they could see me when I was in my room. They told me that they watched me in the dark. When I would get sent to my room for misbehaving I would cry. I was so afraid. I would sit and stare out the window, even if it was pitch black. I would swear that I could see demon eyes in the sky, or ghost. I would begin to pray, and I would just sit there, frozen, staring in to the night. When I would go to bed at night I would make sure my blankets would completely cocoon me. I would make sure not one bit of my body was exposed. Something would surely grab my feet, or my hands. Something would surely hurt me in the dark. I was terrified of dark rooms, and walking past dark doors. My confidence was shattered. I was scared now of everything. We moved from the city when I was 7 years old, and Bobby had moved prior, but the fear never left with him.
I found strength in church, and in prayer. When I would get more and more fearful over the years I would play my christian music, and hide beneath blankets. I would pray out-loud, and I would pray in my head in silence. When I would be in a social situation, I would talk. I dealt with the anxiety that I would feel building up in me by talking, and by being perky. Soon people identified me as a perky, happy person. This seemed like such a positive, so I always tried to be the perky, happy girl. People also got annoyed by me though, because I talked too much.
Who would I have been if I had not experienced such a horrible thing at such an early age? Would I have such low self-esteem and live my life hating everything about myself? I looked in the mirror and saw a Plain-Jane. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated that I wasn't athletic enough, or smart enough. I became fearful of playing my trombone out-loud outside of a large group. If someone could single me out in the crowd, I was terrified. I was never pretty enough. I was never enough. I was only 5 years old when my whole future would be effected by a few horrible boys. I was only 5 years old when I felt a large part of who I was begin to die inside. I was now left to move forward with big, ugly scars. I can barely see the physical scars that were left on my arms (I will show them to you if you ask), but the scars on my soul are there. I can feel them. They are some of those breaks that were repaired with gold that I spoke of in "Beautifully Broken".
I must keep in mind that each time I was broken I was made stronger! This was only the first of many painful moments. I am stronger because of each and every one. I see the ways that I am a strong woman. I also worry though that learning to survive at such a young age dulled some of my emotions. I had turned off some of my reactions to horrendous situations. At times, when I watch the news, I feel that I should be more emotional than I am. At times I feel that I give off the wrong reaction at the wrong times. But I survived. I continue to survive. I have just begun to really live. This is why I am like I am.
My earliest memories are from when we lived in our house on Garfield Street in the City. This was before I was forced to grow-up too fast. This was before my school days began, before I had memories of little brothers, and a dog named, "Peppy" and anxiety.
I remember that half-house that we lived in. It was ugly. I remember the yellow, rusty guardrail that was lining the parking lot across the street. I recall playing on the sidewalk. I received a mini, plastic "big wheel" style bike for my birthday when I was 3 years old. I remember how much I loved it. It was shaped like a turtle. The handle bars were yellow and came out of it's head, and the seat was the shell, con caved in the wrong direction. It was a poor pitiful turtle now that I think about it. In the wild it would never have survived. I loved that turtle bike even past my being able to ride it. I was jealous when I outgrew it and my brothers used it. They wore the eyes off, and eventually it cracked, and it broke, and away to the trash it went.
I was always a dirty child. We were poor. Sticks, stones, and mud could entertain for hours. I was always dressed in hand-me-downs, but was not old enough to care. I still like getting dirty. Hiking,Tough Mudder, gardening, ATV riding... dirt is good for the soul. Almost every picture of me from childhood has me in dirty, stained clothes, with an even dirtier face. My mom saved the dresses for church and holidays...but boy could I get dirty!
I remember the neighbor lady. She was someone's Grandma. She just had to be. She was kind, just like my great-grandmothers. I remember her because she gave us something that was rare for us to have in the house. She gave us snacks of fresh fruit. Fresh fruit was expensive. We usually only had apples and bananas (and grapes if they were in season and on sale). I no longer like fresh apples, I rarely eat bananas too... I had them so often as a kid. I still remember the day she held out fresh peaches to my sister and I. She offered us each a HUGE freshly washed peach. It was such a treat! I was able to have a whole peach, and bite right in to it's fuzzy flesh, juice dripping down my chin, and add more beautiful stains to my already dirty shirt. Oh, how wonderful! For that, I have never forgotten that neighbor.
I remember Cheerios in Tupperware cups in the mornings. I remember watching Sesame Street until Mommy woke. I remember climbing over the baby gate to sneak in to the kitchen with my sister, where we would put paper cups of orange juice in the refrigerator to freeze in to popsicles. Surprise, Mom! We made our own treat! We most likely made a mess too, being only 3 & 4 years old.
I remember the bedrooms and bathroom. I remember cutting myself on my dad's razor when he left it out on the sink one day. It was a white pedestal sink. I remember my mom scolding me for touching it. I remember the bunk beds that were against the wall with the window. Those bunk beds were solid wood, and very sturdy. They became my little brothers' beds 2 houses later. I remember that my parents' bedroom was incredibly small.
I also remember the window where I got my hand stuck, resulting in my first X-ray. My father was an X-ray Tech at the hospital, and often worked evenings and overnights. I went to look out the window which was propped open with a board. It was summer, and A/C was unheard of, and we were poor. I placed my hand too far to the side, knocking the board out of the window, which slammed down on to my other hand. It was an old, heavy window. My mother had to search and search for a crowbar to pry the window off of my hand, as I remained there stuck and crying out. My dad took the X-ray. I remember thinking "they are putting my hand on a plate". I was so young that the bones were still so soft that they did not break. My hand appeared bent out of shape, but it was not broken, and it healed.
That same window was where I saw the "ghost". I woke one night. I was sitting up in my bottom bunk when I saw a figure pass through that window, straight to my bedroom door and out it. I froze. I sat there in my bed, frozen, for a while, until I was sure it was gone. I then ran screaming and crying to my parents room. It is the only time I can remember sleeping in my parents bed. My dad walked the house, up and down the hall, down the stairs and back up. With each step he continued to pray. I can still hear the sound of his voice praying. Praying over the house, and praying over our safety. Til this day, I pray over my home. When I can't sleep at night, I often walk through out the house praying from room to room. I pray for my family's safety, for guidance, for healing, for whatever is on my heart... but I make sure that every corner of the house is covered in prayer.
I remember my dad coming home late and waking us up to make us milkshakes, chocolate milkshakes, while mom slept. He worked a lot, and took college classes, so time with us was rare. I remember back then, feeling loved by my dad. I realize now how stressed he must have been, and that as we got older life was more difficult for him. But when I was little, I remember the good times. I remember him playing with us. I remember that he loved taking pictures of us, and he would have us smile nicely, followed by goofy faces of his choosing, whether we had our tongue out, or growl faces, kissy faces, or whatever.
I have been broken. I have been broken many times over, and at times I feel as if I might shatter completely.
The World has not been the friendliest of place for me. I have had my moments where I have felt worthy, and loved, and human. Those moment seemed so few until recently. I had always thought the good moments should outweigh the bad, that life should not be continuously uphill. I believed that the journey should be more flat, with some hills to climb up... I am still climbing.
If it weren't for my amazing husband, I would be falling apart. He holds me together. Before him, I am not sure how I made it this far.
Today, I sit here physically broken due to health concerns. Yet, that is not what is on my mind. I take that back. Health Concerns are ALWAYS on my mind, as the pain doesn't go away. The symptoms don't stop. Yet, today, I have been attempting to push all of that to the back of my mind. I have been trying to figure out how to formulate that last 37 years of my life in to a blog. How does one use her life stories to help others? How does one put in to words every thing her heart feels daily, and has felt in the past?
I was falling asleep last night, feeling sorry for myself. I felt weak once again. I got out of bed and slipped off to the bathroom. There I stood and looked in the mirror. I started touching all of my physical scars, the ones I could see. I ran my fingers along the newer ones, the ones that still itched daily, and cause me so much discomfort. I looked at the redness of some of the scars, and the purple screaming neon signs of the rest that state,"you are imperfect". I AM IMPERFECT! We all are. My body is covered with scars from countless surgeries, and yet I am still physically broke.
Emotionally, I have had a lot of healing to do in my life time. I am probably the strongest I have ever been emotionally at this moment. I have a thousand struggles every single day, but emotionally, I am in a better place that I have been in my past. I fight each battle daily with my Knight-In-Shining-Armor, Joe, by my side.
I examined my emotional scars last night before drifting off to sleep. I noticed something as I peered closer at them. I had been broken a million times over. I have been the victim of abuse, rape (more than once), bad relationship, financial hardships, bullying by countless people, poor self-esteem, poor choices, miscarriages, a dysfunctional childhood, loss, and so much more. I have been BROKEN. I have been knocked down, shoved to the ground, stomped on, and put down. I have been BROKEN. My flesh has been literally torn and left bleeding. I cried out for help and no one came to my rescue when I was young, and emotionally that left me more broken than just the acts of my abusers had.
Look closer though. Look at all of the areas in which those breaks are visible. Look. Do you see? I am not put back together like one would put the handle back on a broken coffee mug. There is no glue dripping down, leaving an unsightly scar. I am not weaker from being broken. I am STRONGER. I am more beautiful. I am not glued back together with some cheap glue, hastily grabbed from a junk drawer, just to get the job done. Every piece of me that has been broken is put back together with gold. That area of my soul is stronger, more durable, than ever before. Those broken pieces have become the most valuable pieces of who I am.
Those broken pieces have taught me to be a loving mother, attentive to my children's emotional health, physical health, and every one of their dreams. Those broken piece make me a better wife. My first marriage broke me, but I was put back together with gold. I have learned how to give to my second husband in a selfless way, he is then able to see my commitment, love and devotion daily. I am able to make my husband feel like the King that he is. Together we have created a strong marriage, which may not have happened if I had not once been broken. Those broken pieces have made me a better friend, giving more of myself. I am empathetic and sympathetic. I am sensitive, yet strong. My past broke me, and made me stronger for it.
God knew that life would have to have some rough patches in order for me to shine his light. When I shine his light, it glimmers off of all of the gold that pieces me together. I did a little research today, knowing that once I had heard of pottery being repaired with gold. I found out, that in Japanese art, broken pieces of pottery are often repaired with gold. This is called Kintsugi. Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, that each object has a story to tell. Because of this, breakage and repair is not seen as something to hide, it is something to be celebrated. The history of the object adds to it's beauty. I am BROKEN and REPAIRED with gold.
Time to purchase my own Kintsugi from my Amazon store! I need my daily reminder of what beautiful is!