You Are Good Enough

— Whether it was my family telling me I’m too sensitive or that my efforts to manage my life were somehow lacking

— Whether it was CF’s unrealistic expectations of me to manage a household, care for and raise our son, AND work a full-time job

— Whether it was my rapists taking my choice away from me, reducing me to nothing more than an object for their self-gratification

— Whether it was PI telling me I was worthless and pressuring me to keep a job despite how badly I was struggling

— Whether it was KR’s intimidation and aggression fueling my triggers to all of the above, pressuring me to change who I am to suit his needs

— Whether it was PMHC or any other psychiatric facility minimizing my struggles and trauma to some arbitrary method of dissecting personality traits and behavior as flawed mechanisms of survival that must be changed to be a “good,” “compliant” citizen

— Whether it was the 12 Step Program telling me that I suffered from character defects that made me morally bankrupt, only savable by some mythical higher power

— Or whether it was any other religious institution that blatantly tells its followers how weak and pathetic they are

With ALL of this against me, telling me, for all intent and purposes, “You’re not good enough,” is it any wonder my faith in myself was shaken? In my mind, it is truly a miracle that I believe in myself at all.

If you’re not lifting someone up today, don’t bring them down. Words hurt as much as actions. Choose both carefully.

You are good enough just as you are.

We were born neither inherently good nor bad. Every day we get to choose how we treat others — and how we treat ourselves. Make that choice count by believing YOU have the power within yourself to positively influence your own life as well as the lives of others.

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How do you motivate yourself to do what you don’t “want” to do?

Life isn’t nearly as terrifying or exhausting as it was 8 months ago. For those reasons alone, I’m eternally grateful. I’m incorporating a new practice into my journal habit. I’m including a daily goal and 3 positive affirmations each day, not necessarily of the “I am worthy” or “I deserve to be happy” variety, though those are perfectly acceptable if I honestly “feel” them to be true for any given day, but more so the positive moments from each day that bring me joy or things for which I’m grateful. I lost that somewhere along the way. I’ll include those here whenever I have the opportunity to write.

I came up with 5 for yesterday rather than just 3.

  • #1 I am so thankful I found CEASE (a domestic violence and sexual assault support center in the Hamblen county region of TN). I contacted them about 3 weeks ago. After a long phone conversation with a victims advocate there, I met with her yesterday for the first time. She’s the one who told me to create a “Pros and Cons” list of all the positive and negative aspects of mine and KR’s relationship. The cons far outweighed the pros, by the way. She also suggested the journal addition of “positivity” in the manner I described. It feels good to finally be able to talk about everything so freely with another woman. We “clicked,” and that’s a good thing.
  • #2 I’m thankful for Al Anon. I never thought I would say that about any 12 Step program, but this particular group of individuals is far more accepting and non-judgmental. I don’t feel the pressure to conform to the spiritual aspects of the program as I did in prior 12 Step groups. Yesterday’s meeting only solidified my “surrender,” I suppose is the best way to put it, as the discussion was one of the most intellectually stimulating yet emotionally validating experiences I’ve had in this program. These are good-hearted, thoughtful people who I look forward to seeing each week. Even if I don’t say a word, my take-away from these meetings is great; and I’m so grateful for each and every person there for their unconditional understanding.
  • #3 I stopped by Music Outlet in Sevierville (something I wanted to do for a while now). I got to play a Roland electric piano for a few minutes. I should probably add to this one that I committed myself to learning how to play the acoustic guitar I bought 10 months ago. For the last 2 weeks, I’ve successfully practiced daily; and I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process.
  • #4 I’m thankful for talking with a friend from rehab last night. Unfortunately, she relapsed and is still drinking. She was one of my favorite people from New Leaf, so my heart goes out to her. I’m thankful for the talk because she’s a reminder to me that sobriety is freakin’ hard and to never take my success (or failures, for that matter) for granted.
  • #5 I’m grateful I’m sober, 320 days, now.

With all of that being said, I want to delve into where I’m actually struggling at this time and pose a question for (hopefully) some feedback. There are no less than 3 areas of my life where I struggle more than any other: employment, food, and relationships. Why? Why don’t I -want- to deal with these things?

Employment is complicated. The obvious reason I struggle so much to keep a job is that I associate being employed with being raped, being stalked, harrassed, sexually assaulted, and otherwise touched in ways I didn’t ask for because ALL of those things have happened to me at one job or another. There’s also the factor of time and the excruciatingly long, time-consuming process of coping with my overwhelm and over-stimulation from daily struggles, let alone the additional stress of a job. Also, working full-time, or even part-time, leaves me very little time for practicing all of my creative talents, especially when I come home from work so physically and mentally exhausted. The problem of finding a good job that’s a good fit for me — that keeps me creatively and intellectually stimulated yet works well with my mental health issues and sensory problems rather than against them — and that pays enough to survive is the crux of the matter.

Food is a power struggle, control issue — one that came up in every single relationship I’ve ever had, including that with my parents and that with myself. The over-the-top power struggle with KR over food and his shows of aggression related to food preparation only made this issue much worse than it has ever been, save for ’97 — ’98. Food, also, is a time-consuming process; so the above reasons related to time also apply here. Lastly, I’ll be the first to admit, when it comes to food, I’m just freakin’ lazy, hating every minute of the food preparation, eating, and clean-up process. That’s the main reason why I refuse to work in the “food” industry. It’s literally a contemptable disgust, a revulsion that only applies to one other area of my life — sex. (Sex is not an issue at this time because I’m not having it, haven’t had it since September, and I don’t miss it — AT ALL.)

Then, there’s relationships. My problems relating to other people began in early childhood. That much is obvious to me given my behavior, personality, and early struggles to work out other people’s motives and actions as well as to communicate my needs and wants to others. That hasn’t really changed much in 46 years. Now, I have the added baggage of trust and abandonment issues that prevent me from forming secure attachments to other people or any close connection that allows me to maintain a relationship with either family, friends, or a more intimate relationship with a significant other. Too many times in my life I’ve been taken advantage of, victimized and traumatized by the actions and behavior of other people who, whether consciously or not, meant to harm me. Once, I was far too trusting for my own good. I could only see the “good” in other people. Like a dog who’s been kicked enough times, though, I fail to see how that “faith” in humanity ever did me any good. As a result, I’m cautious to a fault, I would rather isolate than interact, and the social anxiety I feel often borders, if not surpasses, paranoid delusion of other people’s ill intent.

I know my reasons “why” I don’t want to do these things. My biggest question at this time is: “How” do I make myself “want” to do these things — get a job and keep it, cook “healthy” meals for myself, connect with other people — to motivate myself to actually accomplish these goals? How do you motivate yourself to do something you don’t want to do?

Sometimes Beginnings Aren’t So Simple

I’m a highly sensitive person. I was born this way.

I’m convinced this is a major contributing factor for why I developed PTSD later in life.

I have a number of gifts: my creativity as an artist and a musician, my empathy, my intelligence. I have a greater number of weaknesses: a slow wit (it takes me much longer than most to process events, conversations, and emotions) and an emotional developmental delay. I struggle to communicate, although writing is easier for me than verbal communication. I have no concept of time (past, present, and future all feel as though they are one moment). Relationships with other people confuse me to the point of paranoia, such severe social anxiety that I would rather isolate. I easily lose focus and get derailed by distractions, and I lack the discipline to maintain the motivation necessary to complete complicated tasks.

The work I’ve done to understand myself has taken me all of my 46 years and was met with resistance by any person involved in my life, whether that be couselors or therapists, coworkers, family, friends, or significant others. The number of times I’ve been told to grow up, just get a job, you’re lazy, you’re worthless, you’re not special, you’re not unique, you’re selfish, or any number of other criticisms that attack my sense of “self” far outweigh the encouragement and emotional support I’ve received over the years. Too often the harsh and critical voices within my own mind were validated by others while the quieter, more positive voices were ignored.

I’ll continue repeating this as long as I have to until someone finally listens.

Today, as I sit reflecting on my life, I have no problem seeing how much I’ve grown as a person. I’ve gone through more than my fair share of trauma in this life. I survived even when I thought I couldn’t, even when I didn’t want to survive. I found the strength to wait out the suicidal ideation just one more day even when I so desperately wanted to give in to the darkness. I continued believing in myself despite all of the emotional abuse and bullying from others. My inability to communicate how badly I struggle is as much a reflection of my own weakness as it is an unwillingness of those I trust to actually hear and comprehend what I’m trying to tell them. Humans are simply hardwired to avoid pain at all costs as a matter of survival, and consciously looking at another person’s pain, let alone our own, is oftentimes too much.

These past 7 months have afforded me the opportunity to gain a little peace and clarity. My mother passed away on December 17, 2017. I returned to my childhood hometown the following day. I’ve been here ever since, living in my mother’s house while my sister and I prepare to sell her belongings and the house, pending the completion of probate. The tremendous sense of sadness over the loss of my mother was compounded by the sadness and disappointment I was already feeling over the loss of my 11 year relationship (18 year friendship) with KR. I have no plans as of yet for what to do after the house sells and all is said and done. I’m feeling a lot of pressure from both my sister and KR to make up my mind and “do” something.

I was on a combination of Lithium, Zyprexa, and BuSpar for several months; but they did little to ease my symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. At the point they began affecting my thyroid, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, I had to make the decision to stop taking them. This was the same reason I quit taking medication back in 2008: the risk of taking medication outweighed the benefit. I did manage to keep a part-time job for 5 months, but I quit that job when the entire management team and several other employees quit. That entire situation still confuses me because it was so sudden, but the level of toxicity in the workplace I dealt with for those 5 months was comparable to what I experienced with KR. It’s one thing to put up with that from someone you love, but for a job? Hell no.

KR recently told me I abandoned him, our cats, and my responsibilities to them by coming here. That hurt. Not only did it trigger the past trauma of my break-up with my ex-husband, but also my abandonment of my son — each of my sons, if I’m really honest about it. Talk about stabbing a knife into an already festering wound. Those cats have been my world for the last 11 years in the same way that my son was my world for the first 4 years of his life (the last 4 years of my marriage). I never meant to abandon anyone, either time. Both then and now, I was only thinking of the least disruption to the innocent party’s life whether that was my son or mine and KR’s cats. I caught myself screaming at KR over the phone in my triggered state in much the same way as I did back in 1998 when I sat in this very living room at my parents’ home screaming at my ex-husband over the phone after he told me the same thing.

I “caught” myself screaming at KR. I took a deep breath. I calmed myself enough to finish out that hour and a half long phone conversation. Days later, I apologized for screaming at him. I was in the wrong for that.

Despite the fact that he was the one who broke up our relationship, KR said he expected me to come back to him and for us to “work out our differences.” When he broke up with me last September, he made it very clear to me that his sexual needs are more important than my sanity, safety, and security. He justified his behavior, in his own mind, by blaming me and anyone else for his problems rather than face his own addiction issues and rather than taking responsibility for his own actions. The only thing that has changed since I left him is that there is 133 miles of distance between us.

Also, as of today, I’ve been sober for 311 days (this time around). I quit drinking alcohol and smoking pot the day KR broke up with me. I did it on my own without the help of AA, NA, a therapist, or any other type of emotional support. In fact, I’ve had NO emotional support system whatsoever here in my hometown since I came back. That’s been incredibly difficult. After that heated phone conversation with KR, I made several phone calls to find support; but like back in September, my desperate pleas for help have gone mostly unheard. I do have an appointment with a counselor at a local domestic violence facility on August 9th. I’ve gone to 3 Al Anon meetings in these past 2 weeks. I have yet to make myself actually talk with anyone in Al Anon, though.

My sister shows little understanding of what I’m going through or what I’ve experienced throughout my life. She’s too busy with her own life and responsibilities to lend a compassionate ear. Her words from years ago when she told me, “I don’t want to hear your sob story,” echo through my mind with every attempt to confide in her. Our last phone conversation a few days ago was no different. I attempted to talk with her about that phone conversation with KR only to be met with her disdain, telling me, “Well, if you’re not going to take your medication, then maybe you should try essential oils,” as if that would be the magic cure all for decades long depression. After getting off the phone with her, all I could do was laugh at the absurdity of her suggestion. I know she means well. All I really needed from her was for her to listen, to acknowledge my pain and sadness, and validate those emotions, not criticize or try to “fix” me.

My depression is warranted in this situation. I’ve lost a lot in this past year – a trusted counselor, my relationship with KR, my mom, even the emotional support of my pets since I can’t have them here with me. I completely uprooted my entire life to stay here and help my sister with this house. The majority of my belongings are still in Sparta, TN. I don’t have the space here for them since this is a fully furnished small home, not to mention I still have no idea where I’ll end up after the house sells. I don’t have internet here, so I didn’t even bother bringing my computer with me. I don’t even have that as a distraction method. Sure, I have my phone’s internet; yet that’s cumbersome, at best, infuriating, at worst. Using my phone’s internet is a nightmare. It’s as time consuming as dial-up and oh, so frustrating.

Shock and disappointment are two of the most difficult emotions for me to face. No other emotion except rage causes me to dissociate faster or leaves me in that state longer. I managed to journal throughout most of this with only minor gaps versus in the past, I stopped writing in my journals altogether. With fewer distractions here in East Tennessee, I’ve had more time to just sit and think, write, and even go back and re-read all of my past journals — something I’ve never done before. So much pain, sadness, and suffering within those pages….

Rather than bring my piano keyboard, which I dearly miss, I only brought my acoustic guitar. A counselor at New Leaf a couple of years ago said learning a new instrument can be beneficial in the recovery process, so I decided it was high time to finally learn how to play that guitar. It’s soothing my broken spirit when nothing else seems to work. A full 25 years later after leaving my hometown, I never expected to come back to East Tennessee. I never even really wanted to come back here, but I suppose it’s only fitting to go back to the beginning when trying to heal the end.

Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple.
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way.

Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple.
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way.

Alone Again, Naturally


While on my Facebook profile this afternoon, I noticed my relationship status looked different. KR’s photo wasn’t attached in the little square beside my status, neither was his name. Confused, I checked his profile and saw this:

Imagine finding out your relationship is “officially” over in this manner. I had, at least, some level of awareness that our relationship is over due to conversations over the last week; but until I saw his “Relationship Status” today, it didn’t feel “real.” Eleven years of devotion, loyalty, faithfulness, commitment, and love (at least, on my part) and 17 years of friendship casually thrown away with the simple change of a status update. I feel like I’m in shock. Even the voices in my head are 95% silent at the moment. It’s an eerie silence given their higher than normal level of activity and considering some have been obnoxiously screaming at me for weeks. These past few weeks have been rough, like suicidal risk Level 4 rough. I’ve coped to the best of my ability; but I remain frozen in fear, unable to remain “present” or focus on anything long enough to find a solution to my present dilemma.

This all started a couple of weeks ago on 9/11. It finally came to a head on 9/17 when KR finally had his meltdown in his usual raging alcoholic mindset of “How dare you deny me of my needs!” He was due for a meltdown, so I was somewhat expecting it, just not so soon. I was guessing the middle to end of October given his usual tendency to become enraged closer to his birthday. For the next week, he behaved like nothing happened which is pretty much the norm until his next blow up; however, he did suggest that we seek couples counseling which gave me hope that he still wanted to work things out.

Things only got worse over this last weekend. On Saturday, 9/23, KR made it very clear that our relationship is over. He told me our sexual differences are too much. He said neither of us are at fault for this but he needs his freedom to basically have sex with whomever he pleases and explore his sexual fantasies with others since I’m unwilling to “compromise.” He said he doesn’t want to be seen as a “cheater.” Afterward, he left to go overnight camping with his work buddy who is also having marital problems. Seriously, I think they’re fueling each other’s misery like men so often do.

Early Monday morning around 4:00 am and after he had already drank several shots of Tequila (he was still so drunk after he woke up that he had to call out of work), he reiterated all of this, telling me about their camping trip where they met up with a couple of women they work with to share an evening of “hanging out without the pressures of a relationship.” He talked more about his past affairs (which he still claims were mostly one night stands), but he admitted that these have been going on since the beginning of our relationship — so the entire 11 years we’ve been together. I was stupid enough to stay with him after he told me about a couple of these in October 2015, only after one of these women contacted him about contracting an STD.

Why did I stay?

At that time he told me he wanted to work things out, and I was terrified of being homeless again. I was and still am financially destitute. I’ve spent the last 2 years since his first admission of this in mostly a dissociative state, disconnected from him and everything around me. Fear of the unknown, fear of being homeless, fear of my own suicidal tendencies when I feel this overwhelmed forced me to stay.

These are the same fears I’m facing today in addition to a state of confusion that feels new. This level of dysfunction is comparable to what I experienced in 2005. My mind feels like a jumbled mess. I can’t think straight. I don’t know how to put “this” into words.

I really don’t.

He said he wasn’t going to be a dick about it and kick me out, that he would help me however he could; but I have to get out — the sooner, the better. I have no choice but to make an attempt to try working again if I can actually find someone willing to hire me after a 12 year absence from the work force and willing to somehow accommodate the severity of my illness. I called Vocational Rehabilitation this past week and left a voicemail with the person I was told to speak with, but no one called back. So many phone calls and pleas for help lately have gone unanswered and ignored that I’m beginning to believe that I’m supposed to die by suicide.

Wait it out, just wait it out.

Everything feels hopeless right now, and I’m fighting that familiar dissociation that prevents me from doing anything. Like so many times before in my life, history is repeating itself. This feels like a flashback — a really bad flashback; and this time I have no strength left to fight for my life. I wasted all the strength and energy I had left in this last attempt at finding supportive mental health treatment. I’ve got nothing left. Since I was discharged from treatment, I don’t even have that support system to help me through this. I screwed that up like I do everything else.

I do have an appointment on Monday with another facility, but I feel so lost at this point that I don’t think anyone can help me. I’m worried about this weekend. I’m so exhausted. I’m so tired of the pressure. I’m so tired of fighting to survive. I’ve called and texted with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other crisis lines more times this past couple of weeks than I have in a very long time. We’re told to “reach out for help” when in crisis. Why does actually getting help have to be so difficult? It’s no wonder so many people die in this way.

Vulnerability

I’m experiencing a hard shut down, triggered by vulnerability. “Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or a unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.” [Source: Wikipedia.] I recognize my vulnerabilities as triggers for dissociation, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares, or any other symptom of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. My triggers for the defense mechanisms that serve to protect me are these vulnerabilities:

  • Specific Trigger Dates:
    • New Year’s Eve — Partly due to losing SSDI and partly due to a horribly triggering event that began this blog
    • January 11 — date my divorce became final
    • January 15 — my dad’s birthday
    • March 1 — my oldest son’s birthday
    • April 11/12 — date of first rape
    • April 14 — the day my dad died
    • April 27 — my youngest son’s birthday; memories associated with giving him up for adoption
    • May 2 — the day I left my husband and son
    • August 11 — date of second rape
    • September 11 — the day we, as a nation, were traumatized
    • September 23 — KR broke up with me
    • October 20 — KR told me about his affairs
    • November 26 — the day I moved in with KR
    • December 3 — marriage anniversary
  • Suicide Attempts (Possible trigger dates):
    1. August 9, 1996
    2. April 12, 1998
    3. October 14, 1998
    4. December 4, 2004
  • Holidays that I recognize as being triggering:
    • Easter
    • Mother’s Day
    • My birthday
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
  • Certain strong emotions, e.g. rage, grief, terror, contempt, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, disrespect, humiliation, frustration, overwhelm, shame, confusion, and shock.
  • Confrontation, arguments, fighting.
  • Harsh or negative criticism and judgement by others, feeling persecuted.
  • Acts of aggression and violence (hostility). I’m horribly sensitive to media coverage that is gruesome or hateful or violent, etc. Coverage of stories regarding rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or even sexual harassment can be triggering for me.
  • Exhaustion — whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or all of the above.
  • Feeling exposed, out in the open, insecure paranoia.
  • Injustice. Feeling taken advantage of or inequality.
  • Abandonment.
  • Rejection.
  • Loss of safety or insecure environment. Threat of homelessness, starvation, or abuse make me catatonic, totally checked out.
  • Feeling misunderstood, unheard, or not believed.
  • Lack of consistency, routine, or structure in my daily life.
  • Change — big or small, I don’t do well with change.
  • Healthcare — mental health or physical health, either one. I still, to this day, have “institutional” type nightmares; and I never stayed at any psychiatric facility for more than one month. I have no faith left in the medical community, no faith in our doctors to actually listen, hear what they’re being told, and understand that I know my body better than they ever will given the brevity of time spent with patients. I have no patience left for psychiatry. I’m right there on that cliff of anti-psychiatry, ready to jump off. I don’t even have any trust left to give to another counselor or therapist. I have absolutely no cause to believe that corporations (pharmaceutical, healthcare related and insurance related) will grow a conscience and do what is “right” for the American people. And absolutely NO confidence in our government to protect us from their predatory greed.
  • Sex — everything about sex is triggering for me, everything. Some sexual acts are more triggering, like oral sex or anal sex (I would rather be tarred and feathered than do either); but even straight-up, vanilla, missionary position sex can cause hyperventilation or dissociation during sexual encounters with my boyfriend unless I focus on my breathing to control the physical and emotional pain I feel (and I mean, really focus on breathing, consciously aware, mindful breathing). The physical pain I feel during and after intercourse is almost as bad as the emotional baggage that prevents me from enjoying it, and sometimes that physical pain lasts for days afterward. It’s not just the actual sexual acts that are triggering for me, but also the pressure I feel to “perform” or fulfill KR’s needs. Any sexual touching triggers my startle reflex even on a good day. Waking up to KR snuggling or touching me in this way is a huge trigger! I can’t watch porn because it disgusts me to the point of dry heaving. I can’t even allow myself to feel “sexy” because in my mind, that would warrant sexual attention that I do not want. Sex was a huge issue for me long before the rapes, from the moment I lost my virginity. The rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment I’ve endured throughout my adult life only further complicated this matter.*

*UPDATE: I plan to continue updating this list of triggers. I’m only now, after 23 years of on-and-off-again-therapy, beginning to recognize what triggers me.

 

The Requiem

Maybe I indulged an unhealthy obsession today or maybe it’s a process of grieving a loss. Either way, the result was a form of obscure poetry that speaks to the pain so many of us feel in the wake of one more light going out in the sky of a million stars. Linkin Park’s music got me through many a dark night when my own suicidal urges were at their worst from 2002 through 2005. Chester Bennington will be missed greatly. My most sincere condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Linkin Park Playlist Includes:

Rebellion
Valentine’s Day
Iridescent
The Radiance
Runaway
Skin to Bone
Lies Greed Misery
Lying from You
The Catalyst
Victimized
Powerless
What I’ve Done
Fallout
Guilty All the Same
In Between
Castle of Glass
Burn It Down
Burning in the Skies
When They Come for Me
Heavy
Faint
Blackout
Empty Spaces
Numb
Wastelands
Forgotten
Wake
War
From the Inside
Battle Symphony
Crawling
In Pieces
Roads Untraveled
Leave Out All the Rest
Foreword
Somewhere I Belong
A Place for My Head
One More Light
Wisdom, Justice, and Love
Until It’s Gone
Points of Authority
Wretches and Kings
Hands Held High
The Summoning
Robot Boy
Drawbar
Session
With You
The Little Things Give You
Shadow of the Day
Tinfoil
The Messenger
Keys to the Kingdom
Halfway Right
Breaking the Habit
Until It Breaks
Cure for the Itch
Lost in the Echo
Figure 09
A Light That Never Comes
Pushing Me Away
Talking to Myself
Nobody’s Listening
Invisible
By Myself
Easier to Run
All for Nothing
One Step Closer
Nobody Can Save Me
A Line in the Sand
Final Masquerade
In the End
Given Up
Don’t Stay
I’ll Be Gone
Good Goodbye
Sharp Edges
Papercut
Bleed It Out
Hit the Floor
Waiting for the End
No More Sorrow
In My Remains
Mark the Graves
The Requiem
Sorry for Now


If you are feeling suicidalplease, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). What you are experiencing, what you are feeling does not have to be fatal. Please, seek help. I know, easier said than done. If you find that you cannot call, wait it out, just wait it out.

The Clothesline Project

Today was an interesting day. As I looked through my Facebook feed, I noticed a post made by Genesis House about an event going on at Tennessee Tech University called the Clothesline Project. After calling for more information, I made the spontaneously impulsive decision to drive to Cookeville to check it out.

I remember hearing something about this last year but didn’t go at that time. Today, however, I was determined.

I went. I walked around looking at so many people’s contributions to the project and chose to make a T-shirt of my own. My hands were shaking the entire time I worked on my shirt. I drank 2 cups of water in the short time I was there as my nervousness tends to manifest in dry mouth and thirst. A nice lady from Tennessee Tech’s Women’s Center provided the second cup and a couple of brownie bites. This made me smile and eased my mind a little. In fact, everyone there was so supportive and encouraging.

Despite my horrible anxiety and nervousness, I think my shirt turned out pretty well:

It felt good to participate. My only regret is that I wasn’t finished with my T-shirt in time to participate in the “Take Back the Night” march around campus. Still, I’m proud of myself for having gone there, for handling the triggers so well, and for making my own voice heard. I’m proud of myself because I pushed myself outside my comfort zone to participate in this.

This was a special and meaningful day for me — very therapeutic.