The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the tag “self-blame”

Confession of a Buried Self-Loathing

I’m sick today so have spent the day sleeping, and when awake, listening to songs that inspire me to choreograph or watching videos of dance. I have always loved aerial ribbon dancing, and would love to do it myself. In order to do this, I need to strengthen my core and seriously lose the rest of the weight. Not a big deal. Right?

Wrong. After my assault I was told that it was normal to lose the desire to be found attractive. That it was a defense mechanism. I swore I would not let that happen to me and worked out like a maniac for about a year afterwards. I was not going to be fat. A year later, I decided to actually begin to feel some of the feelings I had been suppressing and they were overwhelming. I discovered I hated myself. I did not want to be seen as attractive as I did not see myself as attractive. I wanted to make me look the way I felt. I gained weight. A lot of it. The military forced me to toe the line and I was stuck in this yo-yo of hell, constantly losing weight and then gaining it back. I felt terrible about myself, and was throwing myself into row after row of destructive habits. This was only one of many.

It got worse after I got out of the military, as I no longer had to worry about regulations concerning my fitness. I gained even more weight, it was disgusting even to me. I had no willpower though, and the more I resented myself, the more I ate. When I started dancing again, I felt even more self-conscious than ever before. Those pink tights you wear in ballet are not merciful or forgiving on anyone, so if you have fat in your thighs, you’re just screwed. There’s nowhere to hide it. And the black leotards? Oh yeah, black is a slimming color, but when you wear it in a skin-tight ensemble, it can’t help you. I was forced to deal with my body image, and I hated it. I forced myself to stay there though, because the second I walked into that dance studio, I fell in love all over again. I have literally cried, sweated, and bled in that dance space, and it has become my sanctuary. I started losing weight thanks to the hours spent in that studio, and regained self-confidence, but discovered I still had a large dose of self-loathing. All of my self-blame over the assault has manifested itself in this unhealthy fascination I have in keeping myself overweight. I will not let myself get too big, because my self-disgust kicks in and I work my ass off to lose some of that extra weight, but I will not let myself lose all of the weight. It’s as though I’ve decided this is my penance for being assaulted. What the hell is wrong with me? In this respect, I’m a complete masochist, and I’m fucking brilliant. There is no one in this world who can torment me greater than I can. I want so badly to lose the rest of this weight and regain my former technical proficiency in dance, yet I seem so determined to destroy myself, inch by inch. No more.

I am publicly denouncing my self-loathing. It is not okay. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and no reason to continue to punish myself for something I had no control over. I did not ask to be assaulted. I did not ask to be made to hate myself. I’ve always said I wanted to take back everything he stole from me, and this is just one of the many things I need to reclaim in the name of me. I’m hoping that by being this brutally honest via this medium (holy shit, a bunch of strangers could be reading this!), I’ll realize on a daily basis the truth I’m telling myself now: It is not my fault I was raped. It is not my fault I feel this way. However, I can do something about it- I can reclaim myself, and I do not need a self-defense mechanism of being overweight in order to prevent a second attack. I am allowed to be beautiful. Being beautiful is not an invitation to others to harm me.

Fuck you IK. You took enough from me that night, you can not have any more of me. I am not waiting until New Year’s to make a resolution, as I’ve always thought those were silly anyhow. I am allowing myself to be free. I resolve to allow myself to be as healthy as I can be, and in that health, find an inner freedom to be beautiful. I invite any of you reading to do the same, or just encourage me when you think of it. I’m not a fool, I know this is going to be hard. It’s always hard when we tear away the destructive habits we build up around us as a defense. I have to do this. More importantly, I finally want to do this.

Lots of love to all of you in this holiday season, and may you all find happiness and peace, even if but for a moment, during this season.

Another Sleepless Night/Cultivating Mindfulness

Almost 5am, and I still can’t sleep. I think I’ll consider tonight a success still if I can fall asleep by 8am. I also think that the next thing I read from my appointment yesterday, will be the trick to fall asleep. I was silly enough to think that since the appointment happened, I’d be able to sleep. Haha joke’s on me.

Anyways, I read this handout about meditation, being that I’m very much into meditation. I have noticed positive effects when I incorporate meditation into my daily routine. The handout is called “Cultivating Mindfulness: Beginning or Deepening a Personal Meditation Practice”. Pretty much it’s a list of 20 pointers. It’s from the people at Here’s the list:
1) The real meditation is how you live your life.
2) In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it.
3) To be present, it helps to purposefully bring awareness to your moments – otherwise you may miss many of them.
4) You do that by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to whatever is arising inwardly and outwardly.
5) This requires a great deal of kindness toward yourself, which you deserve.
6) It helps to keep in mind that good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, the present moment is the only time any of us are alive. Therefore, it’s the only time to learn, grow, see what is really going on, find some degree of balance, feel and express emotions such as love and appreciation, and do what we need to do to take care of ourselves – in other words, embody our intrinsic strength and beauty and wisdom – even in the face of pain and suffering.
7) So a gentle love affair with the present moment is important.
8.) We do that through learning to rest in awareness of what is happening inwardly and outwardly moment by moment by moment – it is more a “being”  than a “doing”.
9) Formal and informal meditation practices are specific ways in which you can ground, deepen, and accelerate this process, so it is useful to carve out some time for formal practice on a regular daily basis – maybe waking up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than you ordinarily would to catch some time for ourselves.
10) We bring awareness to our moments only as best we can.
11) We are not trying to create a special feeling or experience – simply to realize that this moment is already very special – because you are alive and awake in it.
12) This is hard, but well worth it.
13) It takes a lot of practice.
14) Lots of practice.
15) But you have a lot of moments – and we can treat each one as a new beginning.
16) So there are always new moments to open up if we miss one.
17) We do all this with a huge amount of self-compassion.
18)  And remember, you are not your thoughts or opinions, your likes or dislikes. They are more like weather patterns in your mind that you can be aware of – like clouds moving across the sky, – and so don’t have to be imprisoned by.
19) Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime, and hugely empowering.
20) Try it for a few weeks – it grows on you.

All wording was the original wording and thoughts of the author, with the only additions being I bolded certain parts for emphasis. The things I put in bold are the ideas that resonate with me. “You have to be present for it; which you deserve; do what we need to take care of ourselves; we can treat each one as a new beginning; self-compassion; don’t have to be imprisoned”- these are all things that I think are incredibly important and oh so very difficult to put into practice. I am my own worst critic. I am so severe on myself, and I know it. I blame myself for a lot of things, even things that logically, I know I had no control over, to include my assault. I told the woman I saw yesterday that the very first counselor the military sent me to, was a male military counselor. He very calmly, while sitting in his chair behind his desk, told me that my assault was partially my fault, since I wore a short skirt and was drunk at a beach party. Anger rose, and I refused to see him again. To be truthful though, there have been many, many times when I felt the same damn thing: that it was partially my fault for being drunk and unable to take control of the situation. I’ve shouldered that self-blame in silence for over 6 years. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it wasn’t my fault, yet I can’t help it.

A few months after my assault, I had a miscarriage. I shouldered that blame too. Somehow, it was my fault, my inferiority, my failure as a parent, that Angel didn’t make it to full-term. My body killed her, thus I was obviously to blame. Self-compassion. Something I truly struggle with. How do you show yourself compassion? I show others compassion, but can’t seem to do the same for myself. How do I connect the sides of my brain where one says “It’s not your fault, let it go”, with the other that says “You failure. First you fucked up and got assaulted, now you’ve gone and let your child die. Good job.”? How do I reconcile with myself and move the fuck on?

That’s what I want to know. That’s where I am. I hope all of you who read this, have had a much better night than I have. Maybe I’ll go meditate now.


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