Florida rain

It is currently 12:30 AM in Florida and there will be no sleeping here until this storm calms down. The thunder you can feel while in the bed. It vibrates everything! It is a good thing I have the opportunity to sleep in. I am posting a video my daughter just took. Florida storms are NOT always soothing and calming. 

Backstory

I realize after writing this blog post yesterday, you can find it here, https://bethanykays.com/2017/05/19/but-mom/, that it was more of a stream of consciousness type of blog post with no explanation. I thought perhaps I would give some background. There is a trigger warning on all of my posts as my blog is about overcoming abuse…

The man who abused me when I was a child used to chew Big Red gum. He would often smack that gum in my face when I was forced to sit on his lap and have his hands all over me. I thought, naively, as a teenager, that smelling that gum were the only repercussions to his acts. I had forgotten about the gum but I shared it with my daughter years ago. I told her that she couldn’t buy that gum because it reminded me of a very bad time in my life. Last night she was looking through lip balm and I was going to choose this cinnamon flavored and she very perceptively said, mom, you may not want to get that, what if it smells like that gum. I had forgotten about the gum! That reminder made me realize why the cinnamon my husband bought last week made me feel like I was going to throw up. I threw it away not knowing exactly what it was about it that made me sick. It was too close to the gum smell. 

I layed in bed that night and thought about how a simple thing like the sell of gum can be such a triggering thing in trauma. It was the only trigger I knew that I had. And I had completely forgotten it. But my body remembered it. I thought that my PTSD symptoms did not start until a few years ago but just that gum reminded me that I have always had symptoms. I just didn’t know what they were. 

One man who abused me ate onions before he abused me, I hate the smell of raw onions on breath.  So my husband orders food with no onions. One man who abused me had on strong cologne. I try to keep men’s cologne away from me. It is almost impossible. Around every corner are triggers to memories that I want to forget but cannot. There are situations that trigger memories. I cannot control any of that as much as I would like to and try. If it is not an outward trigger then I fall asleep at night and have nightmares. Those nightmares bring back everything. I wake up with this haze over me. I cannot control what happens when I sleep. 

My back story was childhood abuse, date rape, other rape, abusive relationships, and 10 years ago, as an adult I had another sexual assault by my best friend’s husband. I know that sadly my story is not unique as I have listened, heard, shared stories with many who have had multiple abusers. 

Last night I read through my entire email list of blog followers.


I know many people must just click like, like, like.  I understand because over one thousand messages is a lot. And i can’t always read all of them. But i don’t ever click like unless I’ve read it. Because if you’ve taken the time to write it, I will honor that strength by reading it.  I read each and every word of these blogs. I couldn’t sleep. I was bothered and unsettled within myself so I read all day yesterday and all night last night. I read of the bravery, the honestly, the pain, the agony, the monsterous acts, and the victorious fighters. I read all of your blogs. I do all the time. I hear that the things that happened to me also happened to so many others. And I am just so sorry that those things happened to each of you. The bravery it takes to face, write about, is so admirable. And reading made me realize, that most of you all “get” me. You know the feelings that I battle with. 

I am currently living the perfect storm of events that would bring to the surface these past memories. I am facing them. I am going to trauma therapy. I know there is a LOT I have no control over. But I am working on releasing what I can. I am working on boundaries. I am working on my protective bubble and placing people who have hurt me outside of that, even if it can only be through imagery. I am also seeking joy wherever I can find it. Today I was feeling particularly melancholy. I HAD to find something!

This is what I found. 


Puffy pink flower, a beautiful sky, and a gorgeous horse. I also found a friend who prayed for me a deep and profound prayer that my daughter and I can have restored health.  I seek and I find moments. Good moments. I try to hold on to them as long as I can. Some days, those moments are only one moment. Then the bad floods back. 

My journey to healing did not start until 2 years ago. I wrote a letter to my father. You can find that on my blog here. https://bethanykays.com/2015/08/08/details-of-the-abuse/

Their denial led me to my own truth more than I ever thought possible. 

My family subsequently cut me off. They made it very clear their disdain for my truth and after many hurtful painful messages I have not heard from them since. Well until my brother recently tried to manipulate me and hurt me again. The blog post that I wrote a few days ago that has led me to this back story post comes from the pain that I still feel. I thought that getting past the smell of chewing gum an abuser chewed was my only battle. I had no idea what was in store for me yet to overcome. I have anger towards my family for hurting me and letting me down. A child abuser was not my only battle. The chewing gum blog was about how badly I hurt. So badly. 

I am battling lyme disease, a rare muscle disease, osteoporosis, and heavy metal overload of copper and ferritin. I am battling the past that keeps coming up in my brain. I am battling emotions I feel towards a family that hurt me. I have to let them go. I know this. It is something I am working on in therapy. There are some things that I know I have to let go. I’ve created a little ring of angels surrounding me and one by one I am putting the pain outside of it. But the weight is heavy. It will take time to  process, grieve, and let go. Some things I will never be able to consciously let go. That will be up to my brain. For some reason my brain has decided to remind me of things I wish I never had to remember again. 

The bubble gum post was my deep deep pain being put down on paper. It was a plea. “God, I thought this would be easier. I thought this was as simple as gum. But I need your help to heal. I need your help to release the hate I feel for those who have hurt me. I need to be healed.” I am in pain. Physically I am in pain. Emotionally I am in pain. Spiritually I am pleading for help. 

My blog is my life story. It continues. I will write it as it continues. Hopefully the backstory will help those who are new to my blog understand some of what I am going through, some of what I have gone through. My last few days have been filled with flashbacks and sleepless nights. My last few days have been filled with anger and grief over the choice my mom made to stop being my mom. In these few days I have still broken through the bad and found light in the darkness. As long as I can seek the light, then for me, there is hope. Thank you for reading my words, supporting and encouraging my truth and life. I truly appreciate all of the people who have chosen to follow my blog and taken time to read and comment. 

Kevin Kantor – “People You May Know” (CUPSI 2015 Finals)

This touched me to the core of my being. I know these feelings well. She expresses them in a way I think anyone could relate to.

Self-Care After Rape

“When my rapist showed up under the ‘People You May Know’ tab on Facebook, it felt like the closest to the crime scene I’ve ever been.

That is if I don’t count the clockwork murder that I make of my own memory every time that I drive down Colfax avenue.

Still, I sit in my living room, I sift for clues.

Click ; I see myself caught in his teeth.

He’s dancing with his shirt off in a city that I’ve never been to.

Click ; he is eating sushi over a few beers with friends and I am under his fingernails.

Click ; I know that alley.

Click ; I killed the memory of that t-shirt.

Click ; this is an old photograph. It’s a baby picture. There’s also an older man, presumably his father, they are both round and right and still smiling.

Click ; he is shirtless…

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But, mom…

But,  it was just supposed to be the Big Red Gum, mom.

That was all of the lasting affects that I had imagined. I just had to stay away from the Big Red Gum and I’d be ok. 

If I stayed away from that gum then I would forget. 

How naive I was to think avoidance of gum would be all I needed. 

How naive you were to think that taking me to doctor appointments and making me dinner would be all I needed. 

I needed my mother. I needed a mother that I know you once knew how to be. 

I remember that mother. I saw,  pieces, of her in your selfless moments of trying to make my life easier. Moments.

You so desperately want to stifle your own history and our own mistakes at the cost of loving me. 

Did you think that you had put in your time?

Did you check off the boxes in adult hood as you saw fit?

You left your daughter!

Every time my daughter gets sicker I hate you even more for that. 

Every time she cries, I hate you more. 

Every time she suffers with this illnesss, I hate you more. 

Because you should have been here. She deserved to be loved by a village. 

I hate you for not being able to love me enough to love her too.

Is your heart shrunken to fit just the man who currently fills your bed?

Is your heart shrunken to just the sons you have captivated and enamored by your superficial ways?

You left your daughter. You left me knowing I was deteriorating while trying to care for my own child. 

You didn’t allow me to feel. 

You didn’t allow me to express my pain.

You took the easy road.

I hate you for that. 

Is it easier for you not to have to think about my suffering?

Is it easier for you to be angry at me, and blame me, than accept me?

God how naive of me. I say this TO God and not in vain.

I thought it all was as simple as staying away from Big Red Gum.

I didn’t know a mother could break her daughter’s heart just as much as a child molester could.

Who knew it would be more than just the gum.

Tips to help you get through a dentist apt with PTSD

I think if I took a poll on how high anxiety was, 1-10, when going to the dentist was even mentioned, most people would range in the 6-8 range. The what if’s are high at the dentist. What if it hurts. What if I have a cavity. What if it is something worse. And more. In my own experience, going to the dentist is very triggering. I honestly cannot imagine why it would not be. You are laying flat with someone over you with total control. At least it feels that way and always has. When I say triggering I mean I am often so full of anxiety and helplessness and fear that I am pushed straight into a seizure. I am triggered deep down inside myself to not a memory exactly but just a feeling that I don’t like. Perhaps it is because I am laying down with a person over me and I am filled with unknowns. Today I changed the dentist experience for myself and I hope by sharing my experience it can help anyone that has been through trauma, has PTSD, or just plain does not like going to the dentist. 

In the past I have noticed my entire body is tense. Sometimes I have been sore for days after going to the dentist. I have even noticed my hands were clenched. My first task was to find something for my hands. I thought of something soft I could rub between my fingers but that didn’t really connect me to anything. Then I remembered my first trip to the beach in 15 years. That memory is one of the most peaceful I could think of. I posted the pictures below. I threw in the obligatory “foot beach pic” because for some reason everyone has one. I took it to be obnoxious to myself!! I posted it here just to make myself laugh.  But my point is…the shells are what I chose to hold in my hands.


That was back in December 2016. I picked up some shells on that trip. I chose to bring the shells to the dentist. I put one in each pocket for each hand. I wanted them in my pockets so I could pull them out when I needed them. I held those shells and rubbed them and brought up the images and sounds in these pictures when I felt anxiety. 

I drove my scooter in the office and kept it right next to me. My scooter in and of itself is security for me. Right outside the window was a magnolia tree that I focused on. I really wanted to keep my focus on the present and so anything I could find to stay focused would help. The magnolia worked perfectly, until I was upside down and then I focused on my shells and my imagery. 


The hygentist came in first. Due to my instant PTSD triggers to cologne, I came prepared with a garbage bag to put over the top part of the chair and then a jacket to cover that. I know they wipe down the chairs but I still smell the cologne. I researched dentist chair covers and they are relatively inexpensive but I didn’t come up with this plan in time, so a garbage bag had to do. I told the hygentist I didn’t want to get any smells on me and she was perfectly accommodating to my draping of the chair! She put a little gauze with numbing in my cheek and here is the lovely photo I took of myself leaning against my jacket. ALSO, they put that bib around you with a chain to hook it. That chain smelled badly of cologne so I immediately tossed it on the counter and just tucked the bib in my shirt. The chain you see is my medical alert necklace. 


Wow that is just a lovely picture of me isn’t it!!!! The square above my head would be my inability to take a picture on my cellphone! I rarely use a cellphone so I don’t know what I did wrong. The point of the photo is to show that a jacket with the hood draped over the headrest really isn’t that big of a deal. And to show that I am willing to post a very raw picture of me with no shame. 

When the dentist came in I was very honest. I told her that I had PTSD. I told her that I had been sexually assaulted and abused and that I had some fears that I was hoping she could help me get through. And she was AWESOME!!! I told her that I needed her to tell me exactly what she was doing before she did it. I didn’t want any surprises. I didn’t want any noises or smells or movements without knowing what they were ahead of time. I didn’t wantto feel out of control  We came up with a signal if I needed her to stop and I needed a moment. That brought back the control. She was not only accommodating to my request but gave me compassion. Told me how sorry she was that I went through that and that she would do everything she could to help me get through this filling. And she kept true to her word. I was brought to tears at her empathy and follow through of her promises. She even held my hand and comforted me. And my appointment was over. I got more understanding and respect from that dentist that at least a hundred people throughout my life. All it took was an extra 5 minutes for her to be willing to listen. And her ability to show that my feelings mattered. 

1. Do you trust your dentist. You absolutely have to be able to trust that you can set up some safety measures and your dentist will accommodate them. I told my dentist what I needed to calm me. I needed her to tell me what she was doing before she did it. 

2. Have a signal for your dentist that you both agree means stop.

3. If you have smell triggers then bring a towel or bag or jacket to put over the back of the chair so no potential smells will get on you and you won’t have to smell them as you are laying there. 

4. Put a scent you like in your nostrils. I happen to like orange and so I just get a little bit or orange lip gloss and put it on my finger and put it in my nostrils. 

5. Give your mind and hands and body a plan of what they can do instead of laying there tense. Hold anything of your choosing in your hands that you can rub or touch that can take you to a place in your mind of peace. It can be a stone, or a squishy ball, or a piece of cloth. Find something to focus on. Stare at it. Tell yourself in your mind everything about it, the texture, color, etc. 

6. Breathe. Put a dot on your hand or a heart or something that everytime you look at it, it reminds you to breathe even deeper and relax. 

7. I get cold easily. I wore long pants and a sweater so I didn’t start getting shaky. 

8. The most important part of having a successful, non anxiety provoking, triggering experience at the dentist, is to know that you can communicate with your dentist and you will feel heard and respected. 

9. I chose a woman dentist. I was most comfortable with a woman being over the top of my face. I have never had a woman dentist before. I felt it to be much more comforting than I anticipated. 

I have had unpleasant dentist experiences ever since I was abused. This was the very first dentist experience that I have ever had  where I felt that my experience mattered. I had to speak my wishes. My dentist had to respect those wishes. Both of those things happened. In the past it came down to my inability to tell the dentist what would make me most comfortable and would give me the least amount of anxiety. My last dentist was a man who wore cologne and got it on me. It was a set up for a fail to begin with! I had to be my own advocate and choose what was the best for my situation. It’s is hard to know what I want and what I need without being aware of my own body and mind. I had to really reflect on what would make me the most at ease and make a plan to make that happen.  I want better things for my body and mind. I am it’s protector. I have to speak the words that will give me the security that I need to get through experiences that would otherwise be potentially triggering. I hope my dentist experience can give you a few ideas to help you through your next. 

Our glorious day

Yesterday was just an awful day. I’m going to skip it! I moved on to today and we went to the prairie and beyond. Here are some pictures to show what joy we felt living in the moment: