a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: anger

Dreams

Looking at my desk and walls reminds me of an art piece displayed in Lord Hall at UMaine created by Yvette Tardiff a few years ago:  a round kitchen table full of espresso cups with varying levels of fullness, with a wall full of sticky-notes behind it. I don’t remember the title of the piece, but it was something along the lines of “American Dream”.

I remember standing there staring at the installation and thinking:  Damn. That’s me.

It still is.

My desk is full of tea mugs that need to find their way to the kitchen and my desk, walls, and planner are full of sticky-notes reminding me of things I need to do.

What is the American dream to you? I asked a group of students this once as part of a unit on The Great Gatsby. I got a range of answers, but each one included being happy and healthy as part of it. It never occurred to me, until now, to examine my personal dream and how close I am to achieving it.

When I was in high school, and a half-hearted at best practicing Mormon, my dream was to have a modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love coming and going throughout the day and year. This vision of life included being married, having a handful of kids, and being completely immersed in family life.

And thinking about it now, my vision hasn’t changed that much. I still want that modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love. Unfortunately, the kids part won’t happen, at least not out of my body without serious intervention that is not certain to work.

A few months ago, after experiencing serious pain in my pelvic region for several days straight, I called my doctor in Maine. I told him what I was experiencing and asked for a reference closer to me in the North Shore area. I ended up spending a few days in southern Maine being poked and prodded and imaged. As if I wasn’t already sore enough. But it was necessary.

I waited and waited and finally the results came in:  between cyclical ovarian cysts from the time I was 14 and the damage my reproductive organs sustained from repeated sexual assault, I am unable to have kids. The pain was from a cyst that burst through years and years of scar tissue build-up. My organs are too scarred up to become pregnant without medical assistance. And the PTSD would make being pregnant and giving birth likely to change the chemistry of any child born of my body.

Even though I had already come to (mostly) decide I didn’t want children anyway (I’ll get to that later), having the choice taken away from me due to years of assault and a medical condition that often develops in people who have been sexually assaulted hurts.

I am still dealing with it.

And more than that. I have been feeling hurt and angry the last week because I am remembering what happened and realizing just how much it has affected me and how much it continues to affect me. How much someone else’s actions has changed how my brain and body functions, and how much has been taken away.

Looking around at these sticky-notes full of reminders and mugs of tea makes me wonder how close I am to that dream, and how far I have to go to overcome and tame these demons to get there.

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Perspective and Anger

I’ve been thinking a lot on the experience I blogged about previously. I realized it wasn’t so much my colleague gunning for me as I’m overly sensitive to people questioning me.

This is another childhood hang-up with a story.

My family moved around a lot as I was growing up. I think I counted once that I had moved 16 times before I graduated high school, most of it during my formative years of grade school. I had very few opportunities to learn how to navigate the social waters and all the rules and regulations of interactions for I never lived in one area long enough for me to bother establishing any relationships. I tried it a few times early on and learned that it wasn’t worth it.

And on top of this, my parents fought all the time and were emotionally and physically abusive. When questioned by people, at first I would be honest with them, but then the wrath of my parents would fall on me:  “why was I lying to all these people about what was going on?” they would charge. Soon I learned that I must be mistaken and began to really lie by not telling the truth.

I developed a severe complex. All throughout school I would find myself lying for things I didn’t even need to because it had become such an ingrained habit. There would be times when I would lie about the origin of a bruise (I’d blame sports or being a klutz) or there would be times when I would lie about why I misspoke (instead of simply making a mistake, I tried to make myself seem cooler by saying my Russian pen pal was teaching me her language and I goofed trying to say one of the words – totally transparent). It was bad.

When I graduated, I realized the extent of this and stopped the behavior. I flipped and instead of lying a lot, I became brutally honest and blunt. I also developed an intense sensitivity to people calling me a liar because I used to lie so much. I’d wonder, “Am I? Am I telling an untruth? Am I still doing that?” And instead of standing my ground, I’d back off and end the conversation; totally awkward.

And I realized earlier today that that’s what happened the night of the play. It wasn’t so much that this colleague was trying to trip me up, she was asking a clarifying question and I took it the wrong way.

I have been so angry this weekend. I am so upset that after all these years of healing and therapy and writing and knitting and talking it out that the way I was brought up is still affecting me adversely. It’s so frustrating. Here I am, nearly 27, a professional in a very public and social position, and because of my childhood experiences, I seem incompetent because of these hang ups.

I’ve also been wondering if I should go back to counseling. It didn’t do me any good when I was growing up (yes, I went to counseling for YEARS and YEARS as a child as my parents thought I had a deep-rooted negative memory from childhood, what it was, they would never say, and that’s why I was such a mess). But I wonder if it would now that I am an adult in a very stable and supportive environment?

All I know is that this has got to stop and I don’t know how to make it. I can’t continue being so sensitive to people and situations. I can’t seem incompetent in my job because of my awful childhood.

A Lesson Learned

It seems like every few weeks I learn a big life and or professional lesson. And this week, it’s how to navigate small town politics – keep your mouth shut and talk only about the weather.

You see, I’ve been sick the last few days and was out of school all day Wednesday and Friday. I really honestly thought I had a stomach virus. That is, until tonight. Tonight it dawned on me that it’s a long-term health issue that flared up for the first time in months, close to a year. And this illness, when manifest, mimics the flu.

Well, tonight I went to the play my students put on. And I ran into one of my colleagues. My colleague asked how I was, and forgetting small town and small school politics, I mentioned that come to find out, it was another health issue, not a bug. She looked at me like I was a liar because she has that condition, too, and she never had that. I had to explain that there are various manifestations of this illness and that mine is different.

I’m a little upset about this, but lesson learned. Smile pretty and keep my mouth shut.