Poetry

Where are you?

Can’t you find your way back to me?

I can’t find my way to you.

I can’t see you through…life.

You held me in your womb.

You held me next to your heart.

You carried me.

You carried me.

Then you let me fall.

Why did you let me fall.

I’m your child.

Doesn’t your soul want to take my hand?

Or will our love be forever tainted by man.

I held my daughter’s hand tonight.

I thought back to a time

When her heart beat along side of mine.

I remember every moment in her life.

I remember.

I will never let her go.

How can a mother let go of her child.

For her

I’d walk a thousand miles.

I’d fight for her until the end of time.

Isn’t that what moms do?

Where are you?

You chose to not come back 

To me.

My heart once beat right next to yours.

Remember

Your Bethany.

Turning back.

Instead of going around the same block today, I decided not to turn. I went straight, into another neighborhood. I stopped at this tree.


I looked at it for a long time. I knew it was dying. One branch had a few leaves but the entire top looked pale and bare. I wondered if they would chop it down. I just sat there looking at that tree for a long time. I took many pictures of it. I then kept going straight down that road. At some point I said, “OK, this is far enough, time to turn back.” I turned back. I came back to the same tree but it wasn’t the same tree! It was in the same spot. It was exactly the same tree. But from this angle it looked completely different.


It was the same tree but this tree looked alive. It was covered in leaves. How could this be???!!! So I went past it and turned back around and looked at it like the first time I saw it.


I took another picture. It looked bare and dying again.

How could the same tree look completely different from different angles? From one view it was dying and soon to be cut down, from the other it was bursting forth with new leaves and thriving.

I continued on my way home. I looked back at that tree a few times. As soon as I pulled into my wheelchair ramp at the front door I decided I wasn’t quite ready to be home. I turned around. Right behind me was the most beautiful sunset. I hadn’t even seen it because it was at my back as I was driving home. But as soon as I turned around there it was. So I turned back the way I had come to look at the sky. I sat in the middle of the road and stared up at the beautiful sky.


The sky was lit up with pinks and purples and blues and orange and a tiny sliver of a moon.

Had I not turned back I would not have seen the tree from a different angle. Had I not turned back I would not have seen this beautiful sky.

Every self help book tells you to move forward. Always move forward. Don’t go back. Let go of the past. Move forward. But sometimes, if you turn back, you may see things at a completely different angle. You may have missed the beauty that was right behind you if you hadn’t turned to look. Looking back from where you are now, things may appear differently. You may find beauty where before you only saw bare and lonely.

It’s okay to look over your shoulder sometimes. Change directions. See things from a different angle. Life does not have to be linear. Sometimes taking a few steps back isn’t always a bad thing especially if you see a sunset that you missed the first time.

Poetry

I wish I didn’t have your nose.

Because sometimes I see you in me. 

I wish I didn’t have your fingers.

Because sometimes I see you in my hands.

I don’t want to look at me

And be reminded of a cowardly man. 

I wish I didn’t have your eyes.

Just another trait that reminds

And won’t let me leave you completely behind.

Your memory is in most of my features.

Which I wish made me proud.

“You look JUST like your dad.”

I know.

I wish I looked like the rest of the crowd.

Any of them.

I wish I looked like me

But I’ll always just see him.

Good job dad. 

Your DNA wins!

Step off your pedestal princess.

Strong Language*abuse* true story…
Her: So how long have you been married?
Me: 19 years.

Her: Don’t you have a 20 year old?

Me: Yes I do.

Her: Oh. Soooo. Oh.

Me: Well if you would have asked me a week from now, we would be celebrating our 20th anniversary, so 20 years, 20 year old, probably wouldn’t have realized which came first.

Her: Well…I chose to save myself for my husband. I was a virgin until we got married.

Me: Assuming my husband is the only man I have ever been with, and the fact that we will have been together for 20 years, I’d say everything worked out pretty perfectly so we are the same in the end. But that’s not completely true because I wish I could have only been with my husband but things did not work out that way. 

Her:  We chose to wait until we were married. We were virgins! We CHOSE that for ourselves and for each other. What we have is perfect and what you did is a sin. 
Insert what I would have liked to have said then:

Oh hell no! First I will not even go IN TO the whole “sin” comment. If that is what you truly believe, keep that shit to yourself. Second, regardless of when or when I did not have sex with my husband is really none of your business. You can have your morals and values and make your own personal choices and I will support them ONLY if having those morals and values does not make you look down upon me with judgment and condemnation. I have many friends who have chosen to abstain until marriage and that is a personal and sometimes religious choice. I support their choice just as I support someone’s choice to be transgender or gay. I support CHOICE. But I didn’t GET to make that choice LONG BEFORE MY HUSBAND. Someone made that choice FOR me! So step off that pedestal princess because you have no fucking clue who you are dealing with here. Someone took away my choice to remain a virgin until I got married when I was just a young girl. I will not apologize for not stopping to think while being mauled by man after man at the age of 11, “Oh wait Bethany, you were supposed to be saving yourself for your husband! You were supposed to be giving him the magical gift of virginity!” Yeah, I didn’t get to have a CHOICE in that matter. I was actually thinking about saving what was left of my vagina NOT for my husband at all! That was the last thing on my fucking mind. I was thinking about sexually transmitted diseases and injury and pain and what lies I would have to tell a doctor so no one knew what was happening to me. My choice to have an intact hymen NEVER EXISTED.  Thankfully I live in the united states so my vaginal status would not be cause for my death even at the hands of rape, but that’s another topic I suppose.  Really, I am happy your vagina got to remain unscathed, untarnished, untouched. I don’t mean that sarcastically. You got to choose what happened to your vagina. I had to, instead, tell my husband that I didn’t come wrapped in a shiny package with a ribbon. My ribbon had been cut long before him. And if HE didn’t judge me, I will be damned if I will let you! Vagina statuses aside, now that your ability to judge so harshly has been brought to light, I can tell you that I have more character in my little pinky than you do in your entire being. So you got to CHOOSE to be a virgin until you were married. You got to CHOOSE to think it through, make a decision, stick with it, stay strong, stay vigilant, stay the course. Good for you. I don’t wish that your choice was thwarted by rape like mine was, I only ask that you shut your fucking mouth for 2 seconds and think about the million scenarios that can affect a woman before she marries her husband before opening it again. And for that matter, a man. What if your husband had been raped before you married him? Would your judgment have fallen on him? Yes, men are raped just like women. Men who would have wanted to be virgins until they married too. Men get their CHOICE taken too. Being a virgin when you got married does not make you better than I am. It is something that is sacred and private between you and your husband. Do you know what is sacred between me and my husband? Ok well my husband and me if you are going to be the grammar police. What we find sacred is that even though both of our pasts were full of tragedy, we found new beginnings in each other. Had he not found me when he did, I would have been face down in a ditch and that is a fact. The man saved my life. He chose me and that saved me. I chose him.  Yet somehow, you get to do the math, and realize that before we got married, we had a daughter, the joy of our lives. The real magic and beauty in life. And you think you are somehow better than I am because of the status of your vagina 20 something years ago when you got married?  Sorry honey. You could not be more fucking wrong. 

What I actually said/did: 

Me: I chose to just walk away. Well. Wheel away in my wheelchair.

Today I don’t feel like a survivor

Abuse history below*

Today I don’t feel like a survivor. 35 years ago I was sexually abused, but today it feels like just yesterday. 11 years ago I was sexually assaulted, but today it feels like just yesterday. Today I feel like a victim of abuse, that just happened. It is as if no time has passed. I feel broken and I don’t know which event or which person broke me. I mean, I survived it. I’m still here. But I don’t feel like a survivor. I feel broken in so many ways. Mostly, broken in spirit. For me, that’s the worst kind of broken. 

I feel isolated and alone in my brokenness. 

I feel helpless and hopeless in my brokenness.

I’ve tried all the meds for PTSD. I’ve tried all of the holistic and homeopathic and imagery and ALL OF IT. I just don’t know how to fix a broken spirit. God’s will? My own will? I don’t have the answers. I can just tell you how it feels to be me right now. I don’t even want suggestions on how to fix me. I want grace. I want love. I want compassion. 

We had a foster dog a few weeks ago. I connected to her on a very deep level due to the scars of abuse that she had on her. I wanted so much to love all the pain away that she had ever experienced and I tried my best to do so. She didn’t want to eat so I lay on the floor and fed her out of my hand. She didn’t want to be alone so one of us held her at all times. I felt her wounds inside of myself. I felt the cruelty that had been given to her that had also been given to me. I did everything I possibly could even at the detriment of my own body, to help her, because she deserved someone that would carry her, lift her up, love her through it. And she, was a dog. It didn’t make her less deserving because she was a dog. But no one got on the floor with me. No one held me so I didn’t have to be alone. No one put their hands on me and tried to pray the wounds to be healed. No one did the smallest acts of compassion for me that I was more than willing to do for a foster dog.  That realization broke my heart. Those who supposedly loved me could not give me an ounce of love that I gladly did for a foster dog. My own mother, my own father, my own brothers, find me unworthy of even a scrap of compassion. And that realization breaks my heart. The idea that someone can be cruel to an animal or abuse a child breaks my heart. But that society will not bond together to heal those wounds, breaks it even further. My family…I don’t think I could hate them more than I do right at this very moment. I hand fed an abused dog and my family does not even acknowledge anything that ever happened to me. Even through my brokenness I hate them. It would have been like my poor abused foster dog, instead of coming to me, going to someone who chained her up to a pole and left her. Because that is EXACTLY what my family has done to me. Think of the healing they could have given had just one of them been willing…

I don’t know if it was the actual abusers or the people who did nothing in the face of the abuse that broke me. I don’t know if it was my family disowning me because I spoke the truth or the knowledge that they were those kind of people all along that broke me. It would be easy to blame my health for my feeling of brokenness. My body is actually broken. But it is not my body’s brokenness that makes me feel like a victim. My broken spirit makes me feel like a victim.

You know how your little toe gets stubbed and you wonder if it is jammed or broken and either way there is not much that can be done about it? So you tape it to the other toe and try to get away with wearing sandals or flip flops until you can manage to put it back into a shoe. That tape gets dirty around the edges and you want to take it off and put new tape on but that would hurt to badly. So you walk around with dirty tape holding that toe straight. Other people will see your toe and nod, because yes, they KNOW how badly a tiny little toe can be. How something so small on your body can cause so much pain! Other people may even comment on why we even have that little toe and what it’s purpose is because it really just seems to get in the way! You can get real empathy for those toes taped together. That little toe gets some real understanding. Even when someone stubs it and rolls around on the ground you can just say, “Yep, been there.Amazing that that little toe can bring someone to the ground!” But not everyone knows what feeling sexually assaulted feels like nor are they outwardly going to give words to validate that pain. There is no common ground here in society in regards to sexual abuse. No one knows what to say. I’m sure there is no rule book that says :11 years after a person has been sexually assaulted here are the best things for you to say. Just know, it doesn’t go away. Time doesn’t matter. And it is not always the words that are said or not said but the ability to give compassion in a moment where it is obvious that someone is suffering. 

Sexual abuse survivors can’t wear tape to show their brokenness is trying to be held together. My experience with sexual abuse is no secret though. My diagnosis of PTSD is no secret. My struggles are not a secret. I shouldn’t  need a piece of tape or a sign around my neck saying “sexual abuse victim” to find some compassion in this world. I often wish I could tape myself to someone else who is strong and let that person hold me up just like the pinky toe gets help from the next toe over. People assume I am strong because I have survived. People assume since so much time has passed that I am ok. I guess that is what they asssume because no one asks. I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel like I have survived. To feel like I survived would mean that I was living and I don’t feel like I am even alive today. 

Today I feel like a victim of abuse that happened just yesterday, or even just hours ago. I don’t know what makes today different. But I have had many days like today along the way. I can remember every moment, the ultimate feeling of violation and helplessness, as if it happened moments ago. 

Today I took my wheelchair around the same block that I have taken it around for 11 years. Which makes it just over 4000 times I have been around the same block. Today, I cried. I cried for my brokenness and my scars and my wounds that are still so fresh. I passed by multiple people who saw me crying. Not one asked if I was ok.Today I could have used a friend. Today, I needed someone who would do the little things for me that I gave my abused foster dog. But no one did. It is not as if I didn’t ask. I reached out to many friends, but they didn’t hear me. I am heard more on my blog than I ever am in my present life, which is why I am writing this now. I know so many are out there feeling just like me and think they are the only one. You aren’t. And the reality of it sucks. I may only be out here in the virtual blogging world for you but I don’t want you for one moment to feel like no one else in the world feels like you do.

I know what it feels like to have more than a broken pinky toe…to instead have a broken spirit, and have no one even acknowledge the pain of that. The depth of that. I know what it feels like to have people turn their back on you as my family did to me. And I can tell you that it is all on them and has nothing to do with you but I can also tell you that that knowledge doesn’t make it hurt any less. I know what it feels like to have the men who committed heinous sexual crimes, walk around free. I know what it feels like to have friends, family, and  society, fail you. I know the isolation. I know the emotional and mental anguish. I know the reality of sexual abuse and its after affects, and they are brutal. I know. I also know how far a simple act of grace and compassion can go and how rarely we get it. Talk about invisible illnesses ….everyone talks about invisible illnesses. I have many! What about how invisible rape is. No one ever talks about that! No one ever talks about that.

Victims of sexual abuse don’t always feel like survivors. We sometimes feel alone and broken. Today was one of those days for me. 

Poetry

I’ve been swimming against the current for so long,

My red towel is bleached pink from the sun.

My body’s strength,

is gone.

Perhaps it isn’t too late 

to turn around.

I’m just 

so 

tired now.

Perhaps it’s past time 

to just 

drown.

I’ve begun to sink.

I know this defeat.

My prayers bubble up to the surface,

Never to be seen

As my body washes out 

to the sea.

Released.

Free.