Monday, August 23, 2010

Emotional Barbed Wire

"We love you but right now we don't like you."

This could be the single most confusing thing I've heard in my life, and it is one that I have consciously tried to understand for years.  I still cannot.  It baffles me.  It confuses me.  It makes no sense.

I understand
loving a person and not liking their choices, but this statement always had me believing that love was an obligation and that liking someone was more of a character judgment, a choice.  The obligation of loving was somehow expected and desired, required even.  

However, being able to say I love you was mysteriously separate from actually liking that same What?  Let me wrap my mind around this, if I can, that you can 'say' you love someone but then be also able to 'say' that you do not, in fact, like that person.  What sort of twisted mind came up with that bit of emotional barbed wire?

For anyone who doesn't really know much about it barbed wire is a terrible thing.  Once you get tangled up in it the harder you struggle to get free the deeper you get cut and the more you bleed.  People and animals have died from being tangled in barbed wire.  The only way to get free is to carefully disengage each barb, cut each wire where you can and gently pull yourself free.  

HOWEVER...this is the hardest thing to do when you are actually tangled up in it!  Emotional barbed wire is just as deadly, just as wounding and just as likely to kill you.

The "love but not like" lie is a whole rotten, rusted fence line of emotional barbed wire, and although it has been said since I was a little girl I still don't understand it.  I don't think it is something that is really understandable because it was only meant as a means of control, of power.

Love is something that is given freely, love is something that shouldn't have a string or price tag.  You don't really have to love everyone you like.  That would weigh a lot!  BUT, can anyone who truly loves say there is love in their heart for someone they don't like?

There are people in my life that I love dearly and we don't always agree with or like the choices that the other makes.  If my little boy makes a bad choice, do I tell him he is a bad person? NO!  I still love and like him the person, his choice is something else.  It is a choice to agree to disagree, it is not a judgement call on them as people.  I have many people who I genuinely like and a few I deeply love - seems simple to me that when I don't agree with their choices (and some have been shatteringly bad choices) I still care for them as people, I still value them as people, I still hold their person in my care and in my prayers.

Emotional barbed wire is everywhere, and when we are recovering our lives, when we are finding out what life is like as a survivor, there are rolls of it everywhere! Rusting on fences, shining on rolls, tangled in the bush, draped over our doorways and beds...emotional barbed wire ready to tangle, twist, cut us and make us bleed.

I wish I could give you a pair of fencing pliers, some side cutters, a hacksaw for heaven's sake so you could cut yourself free when you feel the barbs digging in.  Do you know the signs of emotional barbed wire in your life?  Once you do it is easier to avoid, and easier to untangle from.  It has taken me many years to untangle this lie from my life. 

 I promise myself, every day, that I won't be stringing wire.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How Many Stand Silent?

How Many Stand Silent? 

How many stand silent,
Watching as you quietly die?

How many stand silent,
Watching as you are abused?

One, a dozen, the whole world.
What if no one spoke for any of us?

Would you speak if the hand raised,
was raised against you and yours?

How many stand silent,
Knowing who deals death
Just beyond their door?

How many stand slient,
Knowing cruelty lives and thrives
Just beyond their door?

One, a dozen, the whole world.
What if no one looked at any of us?

Would you cry out or would you cower away,
if the cruelty was coming through your door?

How many stand silent,
Waiting for someone to speak?

How many stand silent,
Believing the lies, "I've changed"?

One, a dozen, the whole world.
What if we stopped believing them?

How many stand silent...
How many stand silent waiting for...
Just one person to say, "Stop! Enough!"?

How many stand silent...
How many stand silent waiting for...
Someone else to make the world change?

copyright Shanyn Silinski 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When the bullet hits the bone

"Where am I to go now that I've gone too far

So you'll come to know

When the bullet hits the bone
So you'll come to know
When the bullet hits the bone."
Twilight Zone, Golden Earring

Have you ever been shot at or had a gun aimed at you?  I have.  It's a feeling that tells you that you are utterly exposed, naked, that you are soft flesh, weak bone, blood and spirit.  It tells you that nothing will ever be the same again.  It can tell you what you are made of deep inside.  It can tell you what parts of you matter most.

"Sexual abuse is like a bullet that's never been removed." - Ksenia Oustiougova

What happens when you cannot remove the bullet?  What happens if it keeps moving deeper?  What happens if it stays and builds up a scar, tough and hard?  What happens if it infects and poisons you?

When I think about sexual abuse I think Ksenia's quote and I understand that when someone uses trust to hurt you it is like being shot.  And worse than being shot with a clean through and through, it is a bullet that never gets removed.  

It stays, burrowing deeper, building scars, cutting and making you bleed.  No medic, no doctor, nor surgeon can remove it.  It stays and unless we can cut it open and reach inside to pull it out into the light, it stays.  It stays.  It stays.  

It scars over, it leaves a faint mark on the outside.  Inside there is a trail, a wound track that follows the bullet from precious place to precious place.  Abusers use their power to shoot us.  The trails of their bullets scar our trust, our memories, our feelings.  They rob us of safe places and trusted people.  They leave us wounded, bleeding and sometimes they walk away.  Sometimes they stay and see us in pain and fear.

When we start down the path to healing, when we see ourselves as survivors, we start to understand the bullets we feel that no one can see.  Sometimes we move the wrong way, sometimes a person will cause us to flinch back from the cold steel and sometimes we hold our hands over the wound, trying to feel it again, to prove it was real.

You made it through the impact, past the blood and tears, the smell of your own fear and the taste of your own sweat and tears.  You survived the shot, the hole, the wound...only to find that when you are ready, really and truly ready to share, there are those who would dare to ask you why you still think about it.

They ask, "Was it that bad?" "It didn't really hurt that much." or they cruelly say, "Oh well there are others much worse off than you."  It isn't them carrying around a bullet, a wound to your body, mind and soul.  But they, who have only ever done the shooting, dare to question those who have the holes from being shot.  Those who carry bullets never removed, never dug out, never touched very often shot by shooters who carry no shame, no blame and paid no earthly price.

For those of us who carry bullets, count, calibre or range isn't what matters, I honour your scars, I celebrate your being amongst the survivors.  I proudly tattoo around my scars, I write about my bullets and I sing the songs that were stolen from me so long ago.

Join me and my sister survivors as we blog weekly on a on the links below to visit:

Chicks with Scars
Sugar Patch
Ye Old Crone's Gazette

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fat Slaves and more...

"Better to starve free than be a fat slave." - Aesop

I was that fat slave, truly and really not only getting larger by the day but also more and more enslaved by the day.  That was in my old life with my abusive ex (and his family), before that my body image was constantly assaulted by family who expected big boned girls to be petite, that being strong made you look unfeminine and that you really should be able to wear someone else's clothes because they want you to.

Even if I could I wouldn't show you what I looked like then, in my slave days, because those images although burned in my mind have also been physically burned to cleanse my spirit.  I got rid of the reminders of my slavery.  My psychic chains were dropped overboard when I made my escape.

Today, I would rather be alone and free than to be fat and enslaved by anyone or anything.  That is not universally understood or even accepted.  Some people will always think that the right thing to do is what the majority or those in 'control' wish for you to do.  It is not.  Not for me.  Not for you.  Not for our children, our friends or our family.  

Slavery of the mind, body, spirit or emotions is wrong even if you are a well fed slave.  A slave is still owned, a slave is still put in chains, a slave is still someone's property and is theirs until they say differently.

Freedom can be lonely but it is sweet - to paraphrase some of my favorite lines from my freedom singer Melissa Etheridge.  She and I spent, and still spend, many hours together - her singing  and me listening.  Listening with free ears, not sneaking a song here or there like a slave.  To afraid to speak up, too scared and scarred to make noise or waves.  I didn't sell my soul for freedom, although it felt like it sometimes. That was until I realized that it wasn't my soul that I sold but my chains, my slavery, so intertwined with who I wasn't felt like my soul because I lost so much of who I was...I had to lose it all to get it back again.

For the first time in my life I was able to, last night, be truly and honestly fully facing my feelings about family, relationships and the past.  I was, for the first time, safe in my freedom enough to reject their slavery, their control and understand it for what it was.  A trap.  A lie. An easy way into losing yourself.  A way to relinquish who you are for what they want.  

Ever notice that?  That the WHO is lost when we become slaves because we are no longer a WHO but a WHAT.  I am free, who I am is free.  I was enslaved, what happened was slavery, I was a person enslaved.  Slaves are not people, they are objects and property.  

We are not objects, we are not property, we are persons, we are alive and we deserve our freedom, even if it costs us some of the false security of slavery, some of the poisoned meals, the fabric covered chains and sweetly scented threats.

When I started healing, really healing, and getting strong I started to see things differently.  There are some things I won't tolerate, some things I cannot abide by and some things I will quietly or loudly fight against.

I still sing to Melissa, I still have to stop myself from thinking like a slave in some situations and I have to remember always, especially in mid-July, that my own independence day was the sweetest, hardest, bitterest and most incredible thing I had done and that that path I started down has been hard, loving, wonderful, savage and led to so many wonderful's a long road but worth it to walk it in freedom.

This town thinks I'm crazy...They just think I'm strange

Sometimes they want to own me...Sometimes they wish I'd change

But I can feel the thunder underneath my feet
I sold my soul for freedom...It's lonely but it's sweet
Melissa Etheridge, Talking To My Angel

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Chicks with Scars

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I don't have to say sorry when I'm right!

Yeah, isn't that the kicker?  When we are in a situation of abuse being right can be the worst thing to be, and when we are healing  sometimes we feel we have to be dumber than or apologize for being right in order to keep those new people in our lives happy with us.  We have not learned that it is okay to be right, even if it is right for us or just for right now.  When do we get to the place where we can say, "I'm right, and I don't have to say sorry for it"?  It took me a very long time to find that place on my travels on the Survivor Trail where I didn't have to say sorry for who I was, for when I was right or for when I had my own thoughts and feelings.

Let me give you some background - in my family if you think you remember something and you share that memory you will be wrong.  No matter what it is, no matter how recent or distantly past, no matter what it was someone will not only dispute you but they will tell you that you are wrong and expect you to be sorry for your mistake...even when everything in you is screaming that you are not wrong.

I know sometimes I've been right, but I have not only been forced to back down but also to say "I am sorry" because to them it was not possible that I COULD be right.  It was never based on fact, it was never based on knowledge - it was based simply on the belief of those in  a place of dysfunctional control that there is no way you can independently correct or right.  

So here I am, thinking back upon the visit of a week or so ago - and thinking that there were times I was so certain that I was correct in a memory or fact.  And it was still argued, still I was expected to be wrong and I was still expected to be sorry for being wrong.  I didn't let myself be pressured into that  this time, but it was hard!  Flash forward to today - working on a call for my job. 

My job, where I am responsible for being if not right, on the right track or finding the way to it,  can be both challenging and frustrating.  When I'm challenged I'm learning that it is often because of someone's lack of knowledge, understanding or common experience (and make no mistake that someone can be me!).  I don't say I'm sorry for being right.  I don't say I'm sorry for knowing what I know.  I am not a threat because I know something they don't.  I'm an asset, I have value.  Do you know what that feels like?  Scary, terrific, horrifying and somehow so right!

When we survive being right we feel like there is a weight lifted off our lives...the first time I told my Dad that he could not only be wrong but that at the same time I could also be right I thought I was going to be smoted.  

I feared the world would end, and in a way it did...because over 8 years later I'm still right.  I still won't say sorry for being right.  I embrace and love the blessings that I have because for the first time in my life, in my 30's I was able to say, "I know I am right, it is conceivable that you are wrong.  I am not sorry for being right."

Today I am standing my ground, without apology, because it is my job to speak up for those with no other voice speaking for them.  In my volunteer work I advocate and educate.  In my family, I encourage finding our way without blame because it is the path to knowing that is more important than just knowledge. They both have value but the knowing is the heart, the knowledge the mind - and we strive very hard not to value the person based on one or the other in isolation.

Never say you are sorry for knowing your own story, your own scars and your own life.  Never say you are sorry for being right, because I'm confident that we wouldn't use our 'being right' as a stick to beat up on another person.  

This is my story, and I understand it is not yours, but sometimes we find common links and shared paths...and I'd like to thank you for sharing this part of my journey with brightly blessed, always and in all ways...