Talking Is Overrated

Three trigger dates fell within the same week this year in April. Easter is a kind of “floating” trigger date as it isn’t one of those holidays that’s nailed down to one particular day. I managed. I got through them. As always, I avoided as much as I could, distracted when I couldn’t, and coped when reminders triggered flashbacks or panic or whatever else. I’m told that’s all I can do. I feel numb, emotionless, and detached — not surprising for this time of year, especially not surprising for the month of April.

I’m convinced this is as good as it gets.

The final trigger date at the end of April passed much the same. I was supposed to meet with my case manager that day, but she called the day before to cancel again. I had an appointment with my counselor this past Friday — the day after that trigger date; but I didn’t even mention my son’s birthday. My biggest problem is that I avoid discussing these events in my life even when I know I need to. Rather, I opt to talk about trivial matters or anything else. This causes me to feel even more frustrated with myself as well as mental health treatment (obviously, considering my last post).

“Is there anything else major you think we need to talk about?” That open-ended question is daunting. It fills me with dread and panic, signaling the end of a session. Immediately an inner conflict arises as some parts express a desperation to be heard, demanding with urgency the chance to speak up, while others caution against saying too much. The fatalist cynic reminds me of the pointlessness of therapy as the paranoid social phobic sounds the sirens of compulsive distrust. All within seconds of each other, the final word comes down to the inner critic who demands silence, effectively shutting me up.

What actually comes out of my mouth in response is resigned exasperation of yet another wasted chance to talk with another human being about something more meaningful than the weather. What actually comes out of my mouth in response is the minimization of how I feel. Detracting from the complexity of my inner world protects it, protects each part of who I am from further humiliation.

What I don’t say keeps it locked safely inside, guarded against criticism of being overly sensitive or crazy or weird or any other judgement I’ve heard time and time again throughout my life because I know it sounds absurd. I know it sounds completely insane. Worse yet would be no one believing me should I disclose such an intimate detail of how I experience my life. The conversations within my mind have more value to me than conversations with other people. I’m convinced other people don’t listen anyway, whether it’s family, friends, or those within the profession of “paid-listener.”

I get that it “takes a while” to work through particularly difficult issues like what I’ve faced in my life. I know there is no simple, easy solution to working through past trauma or present difficulties. I need no one to remind me of that. It doesn’t help matters any to be shuffled from counselor to counselor to counselor or having no consistency in a treatment schedule whatsoever. The hopelessness of this situation was triggered at the end of my last counseling session when my counselor suggested that I switch to yet another counselor — someone I don’t want to see, someone I already know I don’t “click” with because she and I have met before.

After our session, my counselor asked me to wait in the lobby to meet with one of the care coordinators. As I was sitting there waiting, the conversation in my head debated wildly about the prospect of having to find a trauma therapist elsewhere. Starting over completely at a different facility entails a bigger change than simply giving up on treatment altogether. I waited until my counselor called her next client back and they disappeared behind the door. Feeling the familiarity of that trance-like disconnect, I impulsively gave in to the argument within my mind.

I impulsively gave in to the urge to flee and simply walked out — left the building, got into my car, and drove away.

Facing An Important Decision

Today, I find myself reflecting on a past decision to leave mental health treatment back in 2008, ultimately the decision that cost me SSDI and Medicare health coverage in January 2013. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a “conscious decision” to leave treatment. A series of events led to a state of overwhelm and dissociation that prevented me from leaving my home — a state of agoraphobia that lasted from mid-2008 up until the time KR and I moved to Cookeville, TN, in May 2010.

I still struggle with this today; but by June 2008, one missed appointment left me in the precarious position of walking away from treatment altogether. I never returned to Centerstone where I received care from 1998 through 2008.

I never even considered the consequences. I just didn’t go back (much like the last time I was employed, a coincidence that only occurred to me today). I was so frustrated with the roller coaster ride that was (and still is) mental health treatment that I simply gave up.

Today’s reflection was triggered by a phone call from my disability advocate. It was over a year ago when we last met to discuss appealing the judge’s unfavorable decision. Honestly, I thought my disability advocate and I had agreed to drop the claim because the entire process was triggering way too much for me. He apparently filed it anyway because I received another denial letter from SSA in regard to that appeal around the end of February. He finally called about that denial letter today.

The only other options would be to either take my case to Federal Court with the help of an attorney, which he basically led me to believe is impossible, or to file a completely new claim.

No.

I’m done.

It’s OVER.

Before we said our goodbyes, he reiterated something I heard him say in the courtroom. He said that I’ve ordered my life within certain boundaries to maintain my mental health; but he feels that I would not be able to consistently maintain employment within those boundaries while at the same time managing my mental health. He knows that as well as I do, as well as KR does, yet convincing a judge of that when my own treatment team doesn’t even believe it… well, that’s another story.

My present situation with regard to treatment at PMHC is no better than Centerstone in 2008. I’ve basically put myself through hell again for the last 4 years… for what?

I’ve made no progress. Far too many of my symptoms have only worsened over these last 4 years rather than improved.

PMHC has me so confused that I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t understand the practices of this facility. I’ve met with the new counselor 4 times. I don’t feel like I’m building a rapport with her. Appointments are brief and feel rushed. This last appointment on Friday barely lasted 20 minutes, and we didn’t talk about anything of substance. My bad. That connection isn’t there. I’ve lost trust and faith in this treatment facility. It’s not like I had much trust and faith in it to begin with.

At the end of that appointment, my counselor told me I needed to meet with a care coordinator.

“Wait, what?”

She explained that care coordinators are there to “check-in” with clients while at the facility. I thought that’s what case management was for! Why is my case manager visiting my house every month if not for this reason? My frustration bordered on rancorous spite.

“Remain calm. Jump through their hoops.”

She ushered me into this nameless man’s office. Neither my counselor nor the care coordinator told me his name — no introduction of any kind.

“Yep, manners are a thing of the past.”

“Lose the sarcasm.”

“Nope.”

I felt stubborn, deciding then and there that I had no desire whatsoever to cooperate and zero patience left for idle chit-chat.

“Short answers. Don’t bother hiding your indignation.”

After he finally finished asking all his questions, I asked if I would be meeting with him regularly in addition to meeting with my case manager. After all, they basically have the same exact job, except my case manager meets with me at home. He said, “Nope, I’m just for check ups,” whatever that means. It feels redundant and unnecessary. It seems like a waste of time and money.

Maybe all of it is.

Throughout 9 different counselors and therapists over more than 22 years, I’ve questioned the process of therapy relentlessly — wondering how is this supposed to work, wondering what exactly am I supposed to be talking about? I need direction from a counselor. I need a little push every now and then. I avoid anything that’s uncomfortable. It’s how I cope with life. Give me homework. Give me art prompts. Give me writing assignments. Give me something, anything, we can actually discuss that moves me forward and helps me face what I’m actually there to work on!

I’m out of patience. I’m frustrated. I’m contemplating walking away from treatment again because I have no desire to continue wasting my time. I know I am ultimately responsible for efficiently making use of my time in the counseling room; but counselors also have the responsibility for directing clients in the most productive use of our time.

Maybe I’m just triggered from today’s conversation with the disability advocate, but I have to decide what is best for me and my mental health. I’m just not sure what that is anymore, and I’m definitely not convinced that the facility where I receive care is even a “good” choice, let alone the best choice.

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.

TV Therapy

At the first of this month, I had the flu — a vicious, stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks-for-a-week-flu. After making its way through the school system in our area last month, this flu found its way into the workplace. Several people passed it around where KR works which meant that he inevitably brought it home to me. I’m still coping with that lingering exhaustion and annoying cough, but I finally feel human again.

Since I wasn’t up for anything else, I began binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Although it seems familiar, I don’t remember ever having watched it when it was on TV, probably because it started during a time period when I didn’t even own a TV, let alone watch TV.

First, let me say, I love this show! Great cast — the chemistry between all of the characters flows so well from the very first episode that I can see why it stayed on-air for 7 seasons, simply fantastic acting by everyone involved in its production. As is so often the case when I find a TV show I actually like, I can’t get enough. The theme song is perpetually stuck in my ever-obsessing brain, trying to work out the nuanced chord shifts so I can learn to play it on the piano.

Last night, I got to Season 2: Episode 21, “Lorelai’s Graduation Day.” The last 5 minutes of that episode was an incredibly emotional exchange between the daughter, Rory, and her mother, Lorelai, after Rory missed Lorelai’s college graduation ceremony as a result of impulsively skipping school to visit Jess in New York. Alexis Bledel’s (Rory) convincing performance was so emotional for me, in fact, that it triggered a flashback and moved me to tears.

Bizarre how something so seemingly random and unrelated like a TV show can trigger emotion in this way and cause memories to flood back into awareness.

It triggered how felt in April ’98 — all the emotions of guilt and shame and disappointment in myself for hurting and disappointing my husband and family as a result of my own inexplicably impulsive behavior for which I still, to this day, struggle to find a rational explanation. That emotional pain is still so fresh and raw as the day it happened. It triggered the memories of trying to explain to other people what happened when I, myself, didn’t understand. It triggered the self-deprecating memories of how I admonished myself for being so irresponsible.

Despite the unexpected trigger in last night’s episode and everything it brought up for me, I made the connection quickly — in that moment. I was able to identify a triggering moment, able to recognize I was having a flashback, in the moment it was happening. For the past 19 years, a triggered moment meant a varying amount of dissociated awareness, an inability to remain present. Depending on what the trigger was, it was only later — after hours or days or weeks or sometimes, even months later — that I could connect something triggered me and left me reeling in overwhelmed emotion or completely numb.

Last night, I remained present. I recognized I was having a flashback. I identified the trigger immediately. And I self-soothed by allowing myself to cry and “feel” the emotion while reminding myself, “This is just an echo of your past. You already survived it. Everything is okay.”

This was a first.

For me, this is huge.

Wake Me Up

When I get scared or angry or even sad, I freeze. I dissociate or depersonalize (derealization?) or simply become so numb to all emotions and experiences that the void of emotion creates a suffocating darkness. Then, I retreat. I isolate and ruminate, seek out silence to soothe my fears and calm my emotions. This may sound counter-productive to some, but this process is beneficial for me as a highly sensitive introvert. The time I take to retreat allows me the space to re-balance my energy and find peace of mind again. Nature hikes, meditation, yoga, and creativity, all give me that space.

I sincerely believe that every aspect of life is directly affected by our spiritual well-being. We are after all a spiritual being of light (energy) taking on the material manifestation of the physical body (matter), having a “physical” experience (life). Looking at it from this perspective, it only makes sense that we would need to take time and space to re-energize. What exactly do you call sleep if not a period of rest or restoration and relaxation? Meditation has helped me immensely to tame my troubled mind into blissful slumber, yet I’ll admit that hypervigilance has made sleep much more difficult for several months, now.

I had most of this post written out prior to the events of the weekend. With Saturday morning’s argument still on my mind, today’s edit makes this a much lengthier post than I intended. Consider it a “mind dump.”

I can understand why KR is so angry all the time. I can, but his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions and behavior that influence our relationship is the caveat that prevents me from trusting him completely and may very well be the deciding factor that ends our relationship once and for all. Unfortunately, I’ve considered this possibility for the last 3 years. It was the driving force that sent me back to counseling.

In all three long-term relationships I’ve been a part of as an adult, I haven’t given up on those relationships without a fight. I’m loyal. However, at some point, even I have to admit defeat when the relationship becomes too toxic to warrant saving. KR and I are at that point. Our paths are diverging. He’s on a path of self-destruction and entitlement — one that demands more of me than I have to give. He refuses to acknowledge the beauty in life or the spiritual connection that is quite literally fueled by our emotions and our physical existence for such a brief moment in time. He would rather avoid emotion altogether until it’s at a breaking point and avoid self-reflection to a point of blind denial.

KR wants me to change who I am to suit his needs, never mind my own. His perspective is that he has been the one to make all of the sacrifices while creating a “stress free” environment for me to work through my issues. He can’t even see that his behavior and attitude are precisely what cause me so much stress and discomfort. KR’s behavior has only become increasingly hostile and aggressive despite my very best attempts to defuse the situation and be emotionally supportive. I fully recognize, understand, and admit my personal responsibility for my own behavior and reaction to triggers where I struggle to cope.

I fail to see how to compromise in our current situation. Maybe that’s my own blind spot, but our differences seem too great to reach a mutual balance.

My experience described in the first paragraph is becoming increasingly apparent, like awakening from a nightmare only to drift off asleep again. So much of the time I feel like I’m coasting through life, watching a movie rather than living my life. Too often I’m triggered into this state, triggered out of this state, then, triggered back again without any awareness of how I got there. Or, maybe, I’m triggered deeper into this state rather than out of it. I’m struggling to remember a time when I didn’t feel lost in the fog. The vague awareness of events beyond my control and even life’s mundane day-to-day complexity only seems to fuel the hazy mist.

Other than brief moments of clarity when I’m either jolted back into the present moment through intense emotion (like Saturday’s argument) or curious awe (mindful hiking), I’m not so sure I have any control over this at all. I’m not even sure if I could learn to “be” any other way. This has been my experience of life since early childhood. I learned by age 5 that the only acceptable way to approach emotion was through independent suffering — unless it’s joy or happiness, then, by all means, share away.

It’s like layers and layers of emotional distress compartmentalized my brain as if by changing the channel on a TV. I know it’s a coping mechanism, but I don’t know how to recognize the moment it happens or how to bring myself back to being fully “awake” — if ever there was a time I was.

KR hates that I’m like this, doesn’t understand it at all, refuses to accept me for who I am and how I cope with life. His resentment is a little too obvious even in this dazed awareness. These past few months have been difficult. Anytime my mental health declines, I stop expressing myself to others. My natural inclination to retreat and lick my wounds, so to speak, prevents me from seeking help from others. I’m at a point of resignation. My own fatalistic attitude these days provokes a sense of helplessness that steals my confidence on a good day, let alone after (at least) 5 months of despairing depression.

KR’s attitude for the last few months, my inability to meet his expectations, the pressure I feel to “change” who I am and how I relate to others despite painstakingly doing my very best to be good enough, let alone the recent obvious triggers of the election, the Gatlinburg wildfires, and this argument with KR — all of this interferes with my ability to accomplish anything other than surviving.

What I need from him is patience. What I need is his compassion. What I need is KR’s understanding that I am coping to the best of my ability and don’t always have enough energy left-over at the end of the day to help him cope with his seemingly miserable life. I’m doing the best I can just like KR is. I’m sorry I cannot fulfill his every sexual need and desire; but sometimes, a lot of the time, I need extra space and time to soothe the broken parts of me.

Reflecting on these past 3 years, as my current counselor prepares to relocate, ending our time spent working together, I’m struck with the opportunity to start over again. I don’t say “opportunity” lightly. Worry and fear are facing early life abandonment issues while sadness and disappointment are mourning the loss. And anger, well, anger isn’t even available at this time. She’s off pouting in the “quiet space” of my brain — a beautiful, picturesque scene of my creation that maybe I’ll explain in a future post.

Getting back to my counselor’s departure, I realized during our last session, I immediately avoided what he told me and changed the subject entirely. After realizing what I’d done (this so rarely happens), I managed to bring the conversation back to him leaving. He explained more and scheduled my next appointment with a new counselor; but right before I left, he told me, “You’re going to be fine. I know this. All the many personalities in your head know this.”

I shut down — I mean really shut down. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to say, “Goodbye,” or to thank him for his time spent working with me.

Why do I do this?

This particular instance was partly triggered by the prospect of a major change in counseling and losing a trusted counselor, but also that phrase, “All the many personalities in your head.” With great care and conscious effort, I’ve avoided referring to the complex parts of myself as “personalities.” Despite internal arguments to honestly explore the depth of compartmentalization that separates traumatized parts from functional parts of me, prior counseling experiences taught me to guard the language I use to describe my experience with mindful diligence, i.e. don’t draw too much attention to my fractured psyche or its influence over my life except in its most abstract form.

I regret not saying, “Goodbye,” or “Thank you.” It would be a good opportunity to practice closure if I were to ask for one more appointment with him. I’ve had very little of that in my life. Too often I either run away when a counselor gets too close or the counselor gives up out of frustration. After 8 counselors, you’d think I would have figured this out sooner.

My case manager did, however, text me to let me know I could continue seeing my counselor at the facility where he’s relocating (in nearby McMinnville) which is roughly the same distance away from me as the facility where I receive treatment now. I hadn’t thought of that possibility.

Why does it seem like all roads are leading me to McMinnville these days?

Starting last year, every time I tried to drive to Savage Gulf Natural Area or Stone Door to go hiking, I got lost and ended up in McMinnville. This happened at least the first 3 or 4 times I went to either place, either getting lost on the way there or lost on the way home. Recently I discovered a yoga center in McMinnville that I visited for the first time on January 7th. More on this in a future post as it was a spiritually significant find for me. Not meaning to sound too hokey or New Age-y, this visit to the Isha Institute inspired a renewed “hope” that I haven’t felt since I lived in Hawaii. And then, finally, my counselor relocating to McMinnville.

Coincidental, synchronistic, or causal connection? Whichever way I look at it, I most certainly cannot deny that the Universe is trying to get my attention.

At this point, though, I worry indecision will leave me paralyzed in fear of making the wrong choice or unable to make a conscious choice at all, which too often is the case. I’ve given the matter of choice in how I respond, choice in how I behave, and choice in which emotions to feed a great deal of thought and come to realize and recognize the importance of me taking back my “choice” in determining the healthiest manner I can possibly cope.

I would really like that to include a more conscious and efficient use of my time.

 

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Great Smoky Mountains

This past week has been brutal. The wildfires in the Gatlinburg area triggered that sense of helplessness and despair I so often find myself in. I grew up just outside Sevier County. I spent most of my childhood and teens frequenting the many tourist attractions of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smoky Mountains. So many of my happiest memories are attached to one place or another there as is the case for most of us who grew up in East Tennessee. I worked 2 seasons at Dollywood after graduating high school and again briefly in ’98 — my favorite job of the many I’ve held. I have a strong attachment to that area.

It’s home.

My heart and soul belong to the Smoky Mountains. As a child, I spent many a summer day swinging on my front porch in the foothills of the Smokies, gazing at those beloved mountains off in the distance. That’s where I learned to meditate, though I had no name for this practice back then. The Smoky Mountains taught me to simply “be” and savor my natural surroundings. It may sound silly to those who have never experienced the “spirit” of a place, but those mountains are truly alive. Still to this day, they take my breath away and fill me with peace whenever I return to them, like a mother nurturing her child.

That’s why these wildfires hurt so much. I’ve cried more tears this week — unstoppable, heartbroken tears as I watched a fiery inferno threaten all that I hold dear. “It could have been much worse.” I keep telling myself that, but it does little to assuage the devastation I feel. The only thing that has helped my sadness at all is seeing communities come together all over the state raising money and donations to help with relief efforts. These acts of kindness restore at least some small measure of faith in humanity to do the “right” thing.

As of writing this:

  • The death toll is at 13 people.
  • 15,653 acres were affected by the fires.
  • “1,000 structures were either damaged or destroyed by the fires.”
  • “4,871 people remain without power in Sevier County” as of 8:15 pm last night.

[Source: “Fire death count remains at 13; searches winding down.” WBIR, 2016. 02 Dec. 2016.]

I can’t even imagine the devastation to the wildlife population without immediately falling into a panic and more tears.

The Sevier County community relies on the tourism industry. These fires could have devastating consequences for many people in that area, especially those who lost their homes. At this time, monetary donations would go farther than anything else. Please, consider giving what you can: American Red Cross.

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

I, quite seriously, feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m back to questioning whether I’m alive or dead. Nothing feels real, so I’m going with the latter. What if I’m the only person who knows we’re all dead and trying to work out our past life’s traumas? All of this talk of moving on is meant to push us into the next life — reincarnate to try again in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

I’m really struggling right now.

I feel like I don’t belong here, like an alien stranded on some strange — very disturbing — planet that’s about to veer off course into its sun. Half the population is creating hell while the other half of us are simply trying to connect the dots, prove there’s a better way to deal with suffering. Progress based in love and compassion is our only way forward. Hate and exclusion moves us backward to repeat past mistakes over and over again. Everything seems so black and white, good or evil, positive or negative. Polar opposites. The balance is teetering on the brink of destruction and each side keeps rocking the boat.

Chaos is winning.

I feel lost. I feel like nothing more than an observer, silenced by overwhelm, suffocating from too many triggers, buried alive under so much hate. I’m “out of my mind.” I feel like I’m experiencing all of this out of my body, lost and untethered, with no desire to bother coming back. Content to watch the world crash and burn, taking my soul with it, I mourn for our planet as much as myself as even she has lost the will to live.

The rape of our planet’s resources is the perfect metaphor for the crushing disappointment in humanity to defend and honor the female population.

What chance do women have in a barbaric patriarchy that treats us like objects to be used for their sick and twisted amusement?

This election and its aftermath left me in a state of shock and dismay. To say I’m disappointed in its outcome would be the understatement of the year. I find myself fighting dissociation, that familiar numb disconnect fueled by a desperation to survive the suicidal ideation triggered by the events of the past few weeks. I’ve had nightmares for at least the last 3 nights in a row. The flashbacks are intense, invasive and graphic memories causing severe panic. KR, trying to be helpful, took me to buy pepper spray. It was a sweet gesture; but knowing my freeze response when I feel threatened, I would never get the chance to use it.

In response to a comment someone left on a link I shared on Facebook, I wrote:

As a direct result of Trump’s language throughout his campaign and that leaked video, every time I see that man’s face come across my news feed or hear another ignorant thing he says, I feel triggered. I know, that’s *my* problem to deal with; and I’m coping to the best of my ability. However, I associate Trump’s face with every man who ever sexually harassed me, with every man who ever sexually assaulted me (grabbed or otherwise touched me inappropriately), and with the men who raped me.

THAT is what Trump represents for me. Half of the voters in this country validated his words and actions JUST by voting for him. I accept the fact that Trump won this election, but acceptance does NOT mean I have to tolerate his hate speech. Acceptance does NOT mean I condone his behavior or validate his twisted beliefs. Acceptance is NOT approval.

What I’m feeling isn’t “fear.” It’s disgust — not just for Trump but also for the 47% of Americans who voted for him, who condone the behavior of a bully and sexual predator. Disgust and contempt.

And that is what all of this boils down to. I’m not usually so open about my private struggles under my “real” identity. I was taught from an early age not to burden others with my problems, especially not family; but this election sparked an unbridled rage within me to speak out that I’ve never felt before. I broke down after writing that response.

I called RAINN’s support line for, ya know, support. I was transferred to an organization out of Murfreesboro, TN. I told the woman who answered, “I think I need to talk to someone.” She seemed annoyed when I gave my reason for calling. I immediately regretted having reached out to a total stranger for help. I thought, “I must be wasting her time over an issue that took place over 18 years ago.” I felt weak for allowing the political climate to trigger such a strong response within me. She took my name and phone number and said someone would call me back.

I’m still waiting 4 days later to “talk” to someone.

could have called any other crisis line; but I chose RAINN because I thought, “They’re trained specifically to deal with issues of this nature.” Right?

I never wanted to be a part of Trump’s reality, but I am. I have been for a long time. Men, who think they can grab a woman’s private parts because… they can? Consent means nothing to a sexual predator. It was bad enough that someone running for our highest office here in the US bragged about this type of behavior, but for that same man to actually become President of the United States?!

It’s not just a slap in the face to anyone victimized in this way. It’s like being sexually assaulted and raped all over again.

No. I’m not okay.

A lot of women are struggling today with these same emotions and triggers as a result of this election. Know that you’re not alone. I know from experience, too often it feels that way. I’m still searching for the emotional support and connection to people who understand what I’ve been through, but…

I’m not giving up and neither should you.