The Set Up
For as long as long as I could remember, my mother was “on a diet”. On a Diet because she had a big butt and her thighs were fat, the “Engblom Thighs” she called them. And I knew what that meant at a very early age as my grandmother was a short, round woman. My mom has three sisters, all short all round, all complained of fat thighs.
My father was abusive. His explosive temper would come out of the blue so I never knew what would set him off or when it was going to happen.
At the age of 13, I was raped by two boys I knew from my school; in my own house. The afternoon started with a group of friends at my house, as the last friend left I was alone. They started asking me why I wore such tight jeans, then one held me down while the other stripped off those jeans. I screamed and cried and struggled against their hold while they alternated holding me down and penetrating me with their fingers. I pleaded with them to stop. I must have finally said the right thing because they got off of me and left the house, leaving me feeling confused, ashamed and dirty. I knew what they did wasn’t right but I didn’t know the concept of rape at that age.
The next day at school, they spread around the school what they had done to me and that I liked it. I had girls yelling “RAPE” at me in the hallways and other boys asking when they would get a chance. I was mortified.
When I finally mustered up enough courage to tell the school officer, I was threatened by a female friend of the boys. She poked me so hard in the chest that I had a bruise for a week. I was silenced. I stuffed it way down in my stomach and from then on I went on a destructive path. Voices started talking in my head. Voices that berated me with doubt, loathing and violence.
The Destruction of Mind and Body
There was only one person I confided in regarding being raped. He did not believe me. At that point I figured no one else would either so I washed it down with a beer. And in less than a year later I was stealing bottles of liquor from my parent’s cabinet.
I yelled and screamed and swore. I was violent and I ran away. I stole things. The Voices made me put myself in precarious situations where I could’ve been killed; maybe that’s what I wanted. The Voices told me I did. I drank; I had sex; and I began vomiting; in attempts to quiet the Voices. They told me if someone could so easily violate my body, why not let anyone do it, so I did. This was my life, I thought, bumping my way through a fog of alcohol, vomit and self-loathing.
This is when I saw a parade of therapists. Im not sure exactly how many I saw, but I know they were all men. I didn’t trust them and was able to successfully frustrate them all. I either argued about everything or I told them what they wanted to hear, some I flirted with mercilessly; all gave me different diagnoses from Depression/Anxiety Disorder to Alcoholic. None of which I took seriously. I attempted suicide a couple times with pills and alcohol, but that only managed to make me sick, so no one knew.
High School was my most difficult experience to get through. I was having full on Panic Attacks and thoughts of suicide. I wouldn’t have made it if not for a wonderful Chemical Dependency Counselor, named Bonnie. She was the first adult I confided in regarding being raped. She believed me. She talked to me. She asked me the right questions. It was at her suggestion that I shared the rape with my mother, who was obviously upset. I began to address bits n pieces of my Broken Self that were visible. In my last year of high school an ex boyfriend committed suicide. It was weird and overwhelming. I was angry that he went through with what I could only attempted. The Voices got so loud and debilitating that I was no longer able to control my outbursts.
I was hospitalized with my first emotional breakdown the day after his funeral. I learned a lot while on the Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Unit. Some of my issues were addressed and upon release I felt strong enough to go to college. But it wasn’t long before I was drinking again, not only to gloss over my sexual behavior, but to vomit. That way I didn’t have to stick my finger in my throat. Another suicide attempt and another hospital stay.
And so it went for the next decade. Voices, drinking, sex, vomiting. I was raped again, but the idea that it was my fault was so ingrained that I never said anything to anyone.
The Voices grew more and more abusive over time. They made me “Pinch an Inch” (I really hate that cereal campaign, thanks Kellogs). They beat me up about my body everyday. To the point where I almost took a knife and cut off my thigh fat. I had successfully fully internalized my mother’s anxiety over her body.
The Light Bulb Moment
My mother died in a tragic car accident in December of 2006. By Spring 2008 I had lost 20lbs and was in a manic state. Loving coworkers put their hands on my shoulder and told me they were worried about me. It startled me, I was oblivious.
I went to an Eating Disorder clinic and when I told them about the voices in my head, they knew what I meant. Every other therapist looked at me sideways when Id tell them about the voices; I knew they werent coming from the toaster, and I also understood that these voices were not me.
I took their evaluations and the results were shocking to me. I definitely had disordered eating, anorexic/bulimic tendencies, also…psychotic. Which made me laugh because I knew that was because Im Pagan (test assumes taker is Christian)
Throughout my treatment I learned to separate the voices, learned to talk back to them and learned my triggers.
Thirty years of suffering culminated into an Eating Disorder, which is on the Anxiety/OCD spectrum. This is why, I think, a lot of my previous therapy didnt yield great results. Eating Disorder Treatment had the string to tie all my mental health issues together.
I hide no more. I am now a #StigmaFighter with my friends at Stigma Fighters!
I am a 46 year-old grandmother of a beautiful granddaughter
I am Mamma to two Golden Retrievers
I live in a body that gives me great pains me but
I try to use my mind and my voice to make a difference.
Warrior Poet, an Artist and a Genius
“Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech
and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the
function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”
-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941),
Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer