survivor’s dilemma

I think one of the reasons I’m so tired of hearing about rape culture is because as a person who has experienced sexual assault, I feel silenced in the conversation.  This seems counterintuitive, since I have firsthand experience with its effects.  But what I mean is that as soon as a sexual assault survivor brings up their own story in the context of a rape culture conversation, they are seen as too “emotionally invested” and their opinions can’t possibly be valid (or even considered).  So I resist the urge to out myself, because I want to have a say too.  But I feel like I’m shortchanging myself, other survivors, and those around me by not speaking up about what this feels like and how rape culture means that I have to re-experience my assault oftentimes when I am simply going about my daily life.

More later.

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unanswerable questions

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jon mclaughlin

I was so gung-ho when I started this “blog” but the motivation quickly waned.  Growing up and letting go aren’t as easy as starting a blog.  Writing about those things is harder than I’d like it to be.  I find myself constantly looking for evidence that I’m not ready to grow up, that I’m not strong/smart/confident enough to move on from where I am now.  The littlest things can set me off into a spiral of self-doubt, like my mentor complimenting another student’s work.  That makes no sense, but in my head, it’s interpreted as, “This person is working way harder than you and is way better and I’ve made a mistake thinking you were competent,” which then leads me to doubt my abilities to take the next step in my life (to graduate school).  Am I really going to pursue my PhD as a semi-functioning 22-year old who has hardly the place of mind to remember to shower daily or complete homework assignments at a reasonable hour?  Is this all just a big mistake, disguised as some weird kind of luck?  I don’t know anymore.  I mean, I can look back on the past two years and say, yes, I took the classes and got the grades and wrote the papers and presented at the conferences… but was it ME?  How can I be sure that it was really me and not some function of the support I’m lucky enough to have? A lot of questions that can’t be answered, I guess.  I truly want to believe that I’m well-equipped to enter this next phase of my life, but I just don’t believe it.  And I want to be able to qualify that statement with *yet* but I don’t even feel comfortable doing that! 

The funny thing is, I do think that I’m a generally intelligent person.  Maybe even of above-average intelligence.  My problem lies in my work ethic.  I spent this entire morning fucking around on websites and dreading the work I’ll need to complete this weekend, and doubting my ability to do so (despite the fact that I’ve otherwise successfully completed 7 college semesters).  Growing up necessarily entails hard work and I have this mental block against doing so.  Laziness, maybe?  Burnout?  Self-doubt is likely.  It’s much easier to avoid work and confirm my lazy schema than it is to work and manage the feeling that I may or may not be successful at what I try to complete.   I wish I could spend a day in someone else’s head and understand what working hard feels like to them.  It’s not the actual effort that is problematic for me, I don’t think.  I mean, I have worked hard on things in my life before.  I think it’s the meaning that I assign to hard work that makes it so complex.  That all just sounds so silly and maybe just confirms that I am a lazy person, but more than anything I want to change before it bites me in the ass.  I can’t keep skating by, and even if I can, I can’t keep skating by AND maintain a solid sense of self-worth. 

I guess the next step is to just look at the next few months as a test and try to work hard at everything?  I don’t even know what that means.  Spend less time doing worthless things; maintain a schedule; spend time with friends… the list could be endless.  Maybe I’m in a slump that will pass.  I think growing up does entail a large amount of slumps and ruts that just suck, frankly, but when it’s YOU that’s going through them, they seem unique and isolating and never-ending.  I guess I’ll see if that’s true or just a melodramatic 22-year old phase that I’m going through.  One day at a time.  Well, at this moment, it’s a bit more like one minute at a time.

After loss

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I’ve been working on gaining weight.  I lost about 20 pounds over the past 6-7 months from my already healthy figure… it started out after a medication’s side effects killed my appetite, but morphed into something obsessive as I was pleased by the ever-smaller number on the scales.  I brushed off worried comments, citing the medication’s effects as the cause.  “I’m working on it,” I’d say, chowing down on my one meal of the day, “see?”

Now I’m actually working on it.  I’m following Gwyneth Olwyn’s recommendations on youreatopia.com, because my body is suffering from the aftereffects of prolonged restricted calories.  I can tell– because I’m freezing most of the time, tired most of the time, and can’t focus most of the time.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve embraced my hunger and have even eaten when I really didn’t want to, because I know it’s what needs to happen for me to emerge as my old self again. 

The downside to this is not the weight gain, it’s what the weight gain means to me.  The weight loss helped me feel like something was going right, when everything else felt out-of-control and scary.  That’s what happens your senior year of college– shit gets real, and it’s scary.  But the sense of control was illusory as I realized it began to control me.  

Over the past two weeks, I’ve felt really disoriented.  I’ve felt healthier, absolutely, but I feel lost without some sort of dysfunctional coping mechanism to organize my thoughts and free time.  I can’t quite pinpoint what this feeling is or where it comes from, just that it lingers for most of the time when I’m alone.  I want more than anything to be a fully functional human being, especially as I enter the next phase of my adult life (what I consider the real adult part).  People around me are just as scared and are making it through.  I think we all have some pretty dysfunctional ways of figuring this stuff out, whether it be drinking too much or the classic “senioritis” where you sabotage yourself by procrastinating and skipping classes. I can’t afford to do this, because my addictive personality is characterized by black-and-white thinking:  if I drink too much, it would be almost every night of the week; if I skipped classes, it would be ALL the classes.  I need to graduate, dammit!  I know that those behaviors are simply distractions from the reality of what’s next, a time in life when you feel like you are jumping off a cliff with a parachute that may or may not release in time to catch you.  

What I’m realizing is that I’m the only one who can catch me.  Losing weight, drinking every night, bombing tests… those things won’t catch me.  They’ll make the fall less scary but the landing much rougher.  I want to land softly in the next phase of my life.  One of the things that has helped me the most is complete and total honesty with friends and family, and an openness to asking for help.  Sometimes, as embarrassing as I find it, I just really need a hug, or for someone to assure me that things will work out (and by this I mean that I won’t end up on the street after graduating).  I need to over-share on twitter and realize that people relate to my daily struggles with things like writer’s block and the tiring process of taking a 100-level class with dumb freshman.  I have to admit, the motivation for me to take responsibility for my health and well-being was external.  I got into my dream graduate program, and cannot afford (literally) to blow my shot of succeeding there.  I can’t be too unwell to take my dream vacation to Australia this summer as my graduation present.  I’ve worked really fucking hard the past 2-3 years, and I want to own those accomplishments.  To do this, I have to own my mistakes without letting them define me.  So, I’m sitting here, uncomfortably full from my normal-sized healthy lunch (well, there were chips and a cookie involved…) and a nice cup of coffee, writing this post.  I spent the last hour or so reading chapters to catch up with my psychology class.  And after this, I will hopefully be liberated from my nasty bout of writer’s block and work on a paper that I have to complete in order to graduate with the honors that I’ve worked so hard to achieve.  I have no doubt that something will go “wrong” today.  I’ll lose my motivation to write or study.  I’ll “forget” to shower or do my laundry.  But perfection is the enemy of success, and I want to believe that with all of my heart, which means letting imperfection slip in and giving myself a chance to learn from it.  

I hate writing sappy, happy-ending things like this, but I think “fake it ’til you make it” applies here.  I want badly to break free from what “should” be and to take comfort and pride in what is.  

About

Hello! Here’s my place for processing THE CHANGE:  I’m graduating from college in May 2013, and that’s a BFD (big fucking deal).  Clearly I’m not quite ready to embrace all aspects of adulthood… profanity is a habit I won’t let go of yet.

So, I plan to write the random shit that goes through my head as I try to approach adulthood with some semblance of sanity.  In and of itself, the sanity task will be difficult.  I’d call this a recovery blog– recovery from self-destructive patterns and negative thinking– but I’m not sure the “RE” part applies.  These things have been a lifelong struggle, and I want to break free.  Hence, the “growing up” and “letting go.”