What life has taught me

What I Wish Some Understood About Sexual Abuse Survivors

We live in a world full of people with as many backgrounds as there are people. No two are completely alike. In this mix, there are abusers, abuse survivors and the unaware.

The category I fit into is abuse survivor. I was molested as a child, harassed as a teen and young adult, and raped as an adult by someone I believed I could trust.

It’s been quite a few years since it all happened to me, and it surprises me to see how it still affects my thinking of myself. 

So, I’m going to address some of those things that I’ve learned, and some of the attitudes I’ve dealt with.

1) Rape and sexual harassment is never funny to a survivor. It’s never a light topic, it’s not something to be joked about. Words do matter— they conjure up memories— sometimes traumatic ones with deep emotions attached.

2) No, we can’t just get over it. Something was stolen from us, trust was violated, our spirit has been bruised. Healing over time happens but, often invisible to the natural eye, emotional scars remain. 

3) We grieve over the robbery of our innocence. 

4) Our body was attacked, and our bodies react to that— often through eating disorders, or even gaining weight in an attempt to self-protect. Stop the body shaming, they probably have some history of sexual abuse! 

5) We are often more sensitive to criticism because many of us have an unconscious belief there must be something wrong with us for someone to hurt us so badly.

As a Christian I rely on God to be my Comfort and my Strength, but sometimes I wish I could rely on my brothers and sisters in Christ more. Relationships aren’t often easy for me to form because I still, even after so many years of God restoring what the locusts had eaten, I still have trust cautions. 

All I hope to get across through this post is to encourage others to become aware. Be kind and sensitive. Hold back on criticisms. 

Reality Check, What life has taught me

What’s Sexism Got To Do With It?

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What does every woman want, universally? Is it to be a “sex symbol”? To be loved by everyone? Is it to be known as the prettiest? The friendliest? How about the smartest?

On the surface, every one of these may fit. But, what’s at the heart of it?

I believe it’s simple acknowledgement of our accomplishments, talents, gifts and hard work. To be taken seriously. To appreciate our contributions. To be loved for the individual we are

Without giving us the “gender” handicap.

With all the Hollywood happenings and exposures lately, my thoughts have returned to my past issues of running into sexism. Whether it was about being a “woman driver“, “too emotional“, treated as if I were “too delicate” to lift weights or as though I were ridiculous to think I could do the “man’s job” the USAF trained me to do, as a civilian– or as though I were a stupid female for making mistakes– I have experienced sexism many, many times, in many, many ways. And– not always from men!

I have overcome it, for the most part anyway, by meeting it head on and challenging those who think I need to be suppressed in my desire to prove I can do nearly everything a man can do– as well, if not better– than men can.

We’ve allowed Hollywood, Hugh Heffner, and Larry Flynt to shape our views on women. They’ve brainwashed us into dehumanizing and minimizing all females into categories of size, looks, and potential popularity– all the while overpowering and/or capitalizing on each victim they’ve chosen.

Hollywood has created this system of failing demand– and we have allowed the land of make-believe to convince us it’s reality.

What is it you love about your spouse, if you are married? If looks and size changed, would you still love them and be attracted to them?

When we watch movies and shows, we are seeing things through the writers’, directors’ and producers’ eyes and imagination. Since we are looking through their biased and skewed perceptions, we may as well be placing scales over our own eyes.

Women want to fight back, but so many are misdirected. It’s not everyday men we need to fight against, it’s the lie sold to them and the people selling the lies. It’s the Harvey Weinsteins, the Anthony Weiners, the perverts changing laws to allow more perversions– like Governor Brown in California. Those are the ones we need to focus on, and then the rest will be small potatoes– easy to ignore and walk away from as we just live our lives and fulfill our vision and God’s vision for our lives.

In the world, there are separations based on all sorts of differences.

In Christ, there should not be.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

 

American, Reality Check, What life has taught me

Survivors Are The Strong Heartbeat Of Our Nation

I am a survivor.

I survived childhood trauma, dealt with it and moved on. -Taught me how to be a better parent for my kids.

I survived life with a mentally ill parent. -Taught me the importance of trusting God for who would father my own children.

I survived nearly dying from alcohol poisoning. -Taught me I got a second chance, life is a precious gift, and there are reasons to limit alcohol in-take.

I survived emotional, physical and yes– mental– abuse in my first marriage. -Taught me to appreciate those who treat me as God wants them to treat me.

I survived divorce. -I learned to pay attention to details about who I married next.

I survived date-rape. -I learned to not be so trusting, and eventually how to forgive someone who did something so horrible to me.

I survived remaking my life choices. -I am a better person today.

I survived Basic Military Training– which for some was no problem, but for myself triggered many raw childhood emotional scars. -Taught me I could do whatever tough thing I set my mind to.

I survived moving to another country all by myself. -Taught me I am capable of adapting to new environments and situations.

I survived being deployed to the Middle East with bomb threats, violent threats towards me from a local man–  as the only woman in charge of men who hated me because of my gender and my Christian faith. -I am stronger and more resilient than I even know.

I survived and overcame PTSD. -I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus Who is my strength.

I survived being laughed at because of my gender as I applied for a job I was qualified to do. -I learned to dust myself off and find a job where I was treated with respect.

I’ve survived unfair and inaccurate slander about me and to my face. -Taught me how to know who I can trust.

I’ve survived unforgiveness for mistakes I tried to make up for with relatives. -Taught me to forgive and do my best to make better decisions, not just out of wanting to help.

I’ve survived unfair judgement. -Taught me people may never be fair, but God’s Judgement is always fair.

I survived being fat-shamed. -I can hold my head up even amongst the small-minded.

I survived anorexia. -Taught me I’m not attached to any label– anorexia no longer “owns” me.

I survived losing loved ones to tragic or natural causes. -Taught me that relationships are more valuable than I often realize.

I’m a survivor of Mt. St. Helens. -Taught me about a volcano near where I lived, and what it’s capable of doing when it erupts.

I survived an attack from a “domesticated” mountain lion– have the scars in my scalp to prove it. -Taught me never to trust dangerous wildlife at any age as a pet.

I survived natural childbirth without any drugs– 3 times. -Taught me how to push through and embrace pain, rather than cringe and try to hide from it. Pain actually serves an important purpose.

I survived emergency gall-bladder removal surgery. -Taught me I didn’t need to rely on drugs for pain so I could again nurse. I valued being able to nurse my baby afterwards even more.

I’ve survived several deployments without my husband, while living in a foreign country far away from family. -Each has taught me I can be self-sufficient when necessary, the importance of schedules for my kids, and how much I value my husband being home with us.

As a survivor of so many things, I in turn have sought to help others as I would have wanted help from someone.

I’ve helped 2 guys violently threatening their own lives with knives, one cost me a hospital visit and stitches in my hand.

I’ve counseled many people, and helped those who wanted help, over the past 3 decades, to find their inner strength– GOD– and turn their focus to surviving and thriving, and to walk away from self-destructive behaviors and thoughts.

I no longer see young survivors that seek truth and the betterment of society. That concerns me deeply.

What’s the deal with all these people who are having a meltdown over a Presidential election?

I survived 8 years of Obama blowing off and ignoring everything that seriously concerned me, and I didn’t have an emotional meltdown. I did, however, have a personal time of mourning the future deaths of so many human babies. I have kept my eyes open and myself informed of important things. I have given voice to concerns and passed on information I believe is important for others to be aware of.

I’ve been a part of the healthy vein of our Nation.

The in-Dems-pocket media force has our young adult generation so afraid, and believing outrageous lies like anyone not with the Dems is for racism, or whatever the current slanderous  word-of-the-day is injected into their malleable minds. There are actual outside forces doing everything possible to stoke and stir-up emotions and irrational actions– some are even paid professionals. That’s been proven.

If these are our Nation’s future leaders, our country is in trouble. These aren’t survivors.  These have been programmed and controlled as puppets of a monster political organization that does not care about them in the least, to have a “victim” mentality. Where is their discernment?

I used to also be a controlled-programmed “victim-mentality” puppet of the Dems. Until I woke up.

I hope they all wake up before it’s too late.

I wish they could see they are being played.

American, An Honest Perspective, An Honest Wife's Perspective, Reality Check, The Past, What life has taught me

Happy Birthday, United States Air Force– What Is There To Even Celebrate Now?

As a veteran and military spouse with 22 years of Air Force experience, what can I say about my beloved branch of service on its 69th birthday?

I was proud the day I stepped out of MEPS with a promised new, exciting yet completely unknown future.

At 24, after a failed marriage to a man who was abusive and mean, I was beginning a new life– one I’d be proud to say I’ve lived.

I think I was a joke to my first recruiter, but I found another recruiter who took me seriously and helped me find my door out of the destructive life going nowhere that I’d made for myself.

To the Air Force, I was a female body filling an empty spot in a predominantly male career field. I had high expectations of learning my job, being trained exceptionally. I trained waitresses before I enlisted, and I expected at least that same level of professionalism and depth. My expectations were not met– it wasn’t even close. I was a female after all– someone to flirt with, try to date, but keep at arms-length in what was, after all, just a man’s job.

I’d faced that challenge my whole life with relatives that mocked my efforts because of my gender, as though I were less than any male.

I rose to the gender challenge in school by taking a car repair class, acing it. I knew my way around a car engine, transmission and a/c– you know, back in the day when things were repaired and replaced, not sent to someone to fix or throw out.

I fought against that whole “weak girl” mentality, and the Air Force decided to throw me into that, once again. I was left at job sites by my supervisor, to figure things out without his help, tools or replacement parts. My 25th birthday was spent alone in my dorm room until my supervisor called me to go on a call at the dorm next to mine. The lighting was nearly non-existent  outside, and as I was walking, I didn’t see a step in the sidewalk, and fell. I got up, and not realizing I had a concussion from the fall, I went to try to stop a broken shower. I had no user’s manual, no training, and no supervisor taking me through the troubleshooting steps to fix it. 45 minutes later my supervisor finally showed up, disappointed that I hadn’t magically solved the problem. I went back to my dorm, finished that birthday by falling asleep. A week later I went to the doctor because my head had been hurting since I fell, and that’s when I learned I had a concussion. God still had plans for me, even if my co-workers thought I was just a waste of space in their career.

I’d love to say there were many high points, but I was constantly held back. One guy even became my supervisor, after being turned down over the phone for a date. I’d never seen him face-to-face, so I didn’t realize who he was until my career was nearly ruined. As soon as I figured it out, I changed supervisors and shops, but he had already said too much negative about me, gave me a bad EPR and convinced me I needed to work on my CDCs rather than drive around to jobs we never had the parts to actually fix. My personal challenge was a ruined opportunity, I’d never make Msgt by 13-14 years. I also no longer cared.

After that, I learned the outdoor part of my job. I had better opportunities at being trained, and hands-on repairs. I learned a lot and I worked hard physically. It was a better fit for me, but my shop boss hated me and I got another low EPR because he didn’t agree with the positive things my new supervisor reported in it. My shop boss never actually went to my job sites and saw how hard I worked, or how good I had become at everything I was given the opportunity to actually do with the right parts, tools, and training.

I received orders, so I moved to another base. I wasn’t hated because of my gender, this time I was too delicate to do my job. I was given jobs like painting, hammering a few nails in, controlling and sitting-in for my commander’s secretary. I volunteered to deploy to the desert, and my leadership nearly had a heart attack! They fought me on it, tried to keep me from going, but no one else was volunteering. So I went. But, not to do my actual job. No. I was an escort for the local nationals. And then, because I couldn’t be alone with the local nationals, because I’m a girl, I was put at the gate for 12-16 hour days, in charge of who was allowed in. Over Muslim men. You can probably guess how good that went over. Besides the fact that I was a girl, I was a girl that drove, told men what to do, and read her Bible openly in front of men. Now, I had no idea women weren’t allowed to read religious stuff, and as a Christian I read my Bible because I needed God’s encouragement and wisdom to handle some difficult people and situations– like bomb threats and air tests, and men who hated me, refusing to follow my instructions without cops threatening to pull out their guns telling them they had to do what I said.

Anyway– that was much of my enlisted experience, though definitely not all.

As a spouse, I’ve endured 18 years of constant changing plans and the results of the spectrum of various leaders my husband has worked for- from awesome to abusive at times. We have been blessed, and most of the time he has had awesome local leadership. Though it often feels like he’s away more than he’s here, we have had it better than many.

His extended leadership has gotten worse, though. Most of the time they’re clueless about what they put their people, and their people’s families, through. They are uninformed, and “yes men”, not professional enough to get needed information or listen to the needs and complaints of the workforce they are near breaking.

It’s not unlike Benghazi, where they are communicating needs, concerns, and asking for more bodies– but being ignored, blown off, and having more work than is even possible dumped on them. I have watched my good-natured husband, who has already put his 20 in, in a much needed career field, be crushed by unrealistic expectations, pushing of regulations, as well as physical and mental exhaustion to the point he falls asleep as soon as he gets home some nights. His schedule is all over the place, he has no time or energy to keep up with the rigid demands of PT because the nature of his job is already far too physically and mentally demanding.

And now, we celebrate the birthday of a force to be reckoned with– by its own people. From leadership that sexually abuses and assaults those lower-ranking than themselves, getting a “pass” from being held accountable, to leadership that has no clue what they are putting their people through– this year, I’m not celebrating the birthday of my beloved Air Force.

This year, I mourn its self-destruction, from the inside-out.

An Honest Perspective, Walking With God, What life has taught me

Fighting An Invisible Enemy

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I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.

My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.

It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.

I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.

It’s impossible to fight this enemy.

In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.

I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.

The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.

When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent.  Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that:  “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.

Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.

God is my strength, and He helps me defeat my invisible enemy. Every time.

Christian Thoughts, God's Heart, The Past, Walking With God, What life has taught me

The Spiritual Damage Of Anorexia

I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.

To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.

The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.

Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.

Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.

When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.

Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.

The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.

Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…

Reach

God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.

Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.

We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.

I have experienced both. I prefer God’s way.

An Honest Perspective, The Past, What life has taught me

Dark Reflection: Looking At The Painful Past

I hate looking at my past. I hate remembering. I have set out so many times to write “my story”, but something always blocks me.

I think it might be “this” me hating the “old” me.

I don’t want to look at it through my memories.

Why would you?

Today my youngest was playing with a rubber band, joking about shooting it at me. Even something as silly and simple as that reminds me, like a scar reminds us of a painful wound.

What is the big deal about shooting a rubber band, right? If you could look into my memory, and “feel” with my emotions, you’d know. You might even hate it, too.

You’d see the man who molested me, aiming then shooting a rubber band at my butt as I laid on the couch watching tv. You’d feel the sudden surge of rage consume what might have been a semi-peaceful moment. You’d watch my leg shoot out, my foot connect to the back of his knee as he walked by. Full rage force. Knocking him off his balance.

The rest of that day is a black hole.

One thing I really want people to understand is that I don’t live in my past. I don’t need advice on how to forgive or heal. I have overcome tremendous odds, and I only have God to thank. My experience has often been that those who hear what I’ve been through assume I need their help, that I’m asking for help or advice.

I share my story because it’s God’s testimony of Him transforming an ugly duckling into a swan– the traumatically-challenged, nearly bitter woman into a trusting Christian.

If this encourages you, I’ve accomplished what I never used to believe I could. If it hits home, I am deeply sorry.

Please feel free to use the comments section to tell how God helped you heal or overcome a troubled, painful past. We all need to hear more about what God is doing to heal the broken-hearted; to set the captive free, transforming us into the likeness of Christ.