Yes Can Mean No

Late post today, I know!

The day is almost over, but I keep feeling pulled into a specific topic direction. It involves a personal subject that I was vague about in a previous post. I have never really spoken on it openly before, but I do know I am not the only one it’s happened to and there is not much awareness out there; so sharing would help way more than not sharing, although it puts me in a super vulnerable position.

Everyone has heard of rape, it’s something we have always known existed yet recently it’s been widely emphasized and many more people now have a much better grasp on the subject. Everyone is taught “no means no” we all understand that, but no one ever mentions when “yes” can also mean “no”…sounds confusing and made up, but just hear me out.

Have you ever heard of the term sexual coercion? This can take on a violent form such as several types of rape, but it can also take on a non-violent form. There is not much awareness with this as there is with rape, but I have read that it can affect some people (mentally and emotionally) in similar ways as the more well-known rape. People who have been subject to sexual coercion can suffer from anxiety, depression and even PTSD. I don’t want it to seem as if I am comparing it to rape, because although both are horrendous acts, I personally find rape (especially violent acts of rape) to be much more traumatic. I also do not want to seem as if I am down playing sexual coercion in any way either. When I share these blogs, I never desire to be seen as a victim in any way. I want my experiences to speak to someone else in a similar predicament and offer them peace and understanding. I already feel the anxiety trying to creep on me for attempting to write this, but maybe that’s just a sign that someone is trying to stop me and I should go forward and not be afraid.

I wrote a post and mentioned how ignorant we can be when we’re younger and naive and think we have a better grasp on life than we do. When we’re younger we tend to follow feelings instead of following our hearts. We sometimes find ourselves in situations that we know we shouldn’t be in but we’re there already. When I was younger, I found myself believing I “loved” someone and was willing to alter almost anything about my personality or my appearance to draw attention from this individual. It’s ridiculous, sad and pathetic…things I’m not, but for some reason allowed myself to be. At a time it seemed as if maybe I had caught the attention of this person…believing maybe it was just me getting older or the time I foolishly put in trying to be “good enough” but I thought I had reached that point. I was very wrong. We talked, we hung out, seemed like the norm for our age, but was maybe leading to the more formal “dating” where maybe you’d finally gain a title of girlfriend…or so I was led to believe. I was invited along to a movie one evening and how excited my younger self was believing I was maybe good enough for someone to be interested in. I went to this movie, even after receiving emails prior to basically setting out “expectations”. In my mind I thought if I agree I can go on the “date” and if I don’t feel comfortable with my decision I can always change my mind. I shouldn’t have gone out at all, but I did. My dumb decision. After this movie had ended, I was driven out to a secluded area where I guess would be more private. We all know what was expected of me that night. Leading up to that night I was sent messages such as you better not be lying to me about what you said would happen; if you don’t do what you said I will be mad, I won’t forgive you and I will never talk to you again. A lot of pressure was put upon me, especially leading up to that night. It was basically do what I’m telling you to do or asking you to do or we won’t be friends anymore, we won’t talk anymore, we won’t date at all and it would go back to acting as if I didn’t even exist. This person knew good and well how to manipulate, that was clear. What angles to work to achieve his goal. Sadly, out of fear and what I felt as obligation, I consented although I didn’t feel comfortable and I am absolutely sure this individual knew I really, truly did not want to go through with anything. I would have assumed the individual would have respected me enough to just stop the whole evening and take me home…then again, if he had respected me, he never would have sent all the messages he did trying to keep the pressure on and use manipulation to get his way. All of this from someone I thought was a friend. You can see why that betrayal cuts even deeper. In cases like these, when consenting out of fear or repercussions of things either said or implied you are now subject of sexual coercion. I always felt everything about what happened was wrong and something was off, although I tried to hide it or play it off as no big deal, I knew in my heart and mind that it wasn’t right. It’s not about regretting something later on, this was an entire process. This was a scheme. To add insult to injury, all the things that would have been taken away had I not agreed, they went away any way. Although I consented out of fear of what would happen if I didn’t, it happened any way. As if I was a ghost. Again, all of this from a so-called friend.

Although I never talked about it and how it affected me emotionally,  or events leading up to that situation, I knew something was just off about the whole experience…before and after. I never would have said it was rape, but after a routine check up at a doctor, having him ask if I was ever raped due to the way my body can react it was a bit eye-opening. I started researching because I often just blamed myself for letting it get to that point, for putting myself in that situation but the more I read the more it became clear that I was sexually coerced. I know many people go through similar circumstances and never say anything because “technically” they have no case because they weren’t “raped”…so we are left to sort out the emotional and physical effects on our own. If we talk about it we are viewed as trying to gain sympathy or attention and we are “playing victim” and trying to place blame. That’s not at all what we’re trying to do. We are trying to understand the issues we have as a cause of that instance or with some people instances. Sexual coercion, just like any other abuse or harassment, is wrong. We all know “no means no” but maybe now maybe you’ll think twice about telling someone they consented because they simply complied. If you don’t have all the facts, don’t assume that just because they may have shown interest in the person or “liked” the person, that their going through with anything was because they felt they wanted to.

I pray for anyone who has gone through similar circumstances and felt they couldn’t talk about it at all can find comfort, peace and healing. I pray you have courage to confide in someone you trust and I also pray for anyone affected my any type of abuse or harassment, especially those shrugged off or not believed. The more we talk, the more we bring awareness and the more we can all heal, together. Much love and God Bless xo

8c8809cf05c5f1153bb86116f5cfdf77.jpg

 

“What Ifs” and Worst Case Scenario Mindset

I’m sure this can correlate with my fear post, but totally unintentional.

I can tell you I live in the world of “what ifs” and I am always thinking ahead and trying to plan for the worst case scenario because, to me, it WILL happen. This can most definitely go hand in hand with the anxiety and panic disorders, but I know others without those disorders who also relate.

Avoidance is one of the worst things you can practice when it comes to anxiety and panic, it only feeds that fear or anxiousness more. You want to familiarize yourself with your fear and in most cases even doing whatever action scares you or causes these “what ifs” and worst case scenario thinking. I will need something as simple as groceries, but I tell myself I cannot go today because my husband isn’t with me and what if I get into an accident on my way. My husband will want to take the interstate to get somewhere faster, but we can’t because some type of Final Destination-type accident will occur. I’ll think one of the semi trucks will hit us or a gas truck will explode near us or when we go over a bridge we’ll go off the side and how will I get both my sons and myself and possibly my husband out. It truly can be a vicious cycle…if you let it consume you and dictate where you will go and what you will do. I myself am still very much a work in progress, so please don’t feel like I am speaking as someone who is “over it”…you’ll never be over it, but you can be in control of it. There are just so many examples I could throw out there…avoidance of dental work because of what may go wrong (but most likely never will), avoidance of doctor check ups because you may find out something is wrong, avoiding going certain places because someone may go on a shooting spree or a bombing may happen. It’s stuff we worry about more so now because we see it on the news ALL the time. Should we let it control our lives though? It goes back to us wanting to be in control, convincing ourselves we’re in control, but we aren’t. That’s the truth, not one of us can control what happens to us. In some cases we can be, to a point, but only God truly knows what will happen before it happens.

Here’s a nice “what if” question…what if, in your avoiding accidents and the worst case scenario, you actually cause the worst to happen when it wouldn’t have? So many times this happens; something worse happens trying to avoid something that probably never would have even occurred! We focus so much on avoiding potential danger that we don’t live and experience. It truly seems like a waste when you sit and dissect it, doesn’t it? How many people are out there have serious illnesses with no cure or have serious disabilities yet they are living more than people like me, or maybe even like yourself?

I know I am so adamant on my children not learning from my anxiety, my fears, my avoidance, my worries etc. That gives me a special drive I wouldn’t have without them. I do the best I can to mask myself at certain times, but when you’re a stay at home mom and home schooling mom as well, the kids are always with you and sadly there are times they see you at your worst. In some of those moments I try to explain to my oldest about what’s happening and what are some ways to help someone else if he ever knows anyone with anxiety or the other conditions we have discussed. I don’t want to completely shield them, because maybe one day they can help someone who needs it. Maybe they will have that extra patience, empathy and love as their father does. However, I do not want them to fall into the same patterns. I wish for them to recognize and break the pattern. I want them to live without letting fear or anxiousness guide them.

It’s not only avoidance. There are times I can sit and be lost in thought of something bad happening to someone so close to me. I envision these horrible accidents and even death. It’ll bring you to tears, but it’s a bit like torturing yourself. It’s something that just happens, I’m not sure why, but people with a mindset like me can fully understand and relate.

Why do we let these thoughts in? Do we not have control over our own thoughts and mind? The beauty is, we do! We can choose to not let our thoughts drift to the doom and gloom. We can recognize it happening and turn it around, get our minds busy and refocused on something else. Much like with anxiety, refocusing exercises can be so helpful! I often pray in times that my mind starts to go over to “the dark side” and ask for my mind to be filled with things more positive and uplifting, knowing that He is working for me and has my best interest at heart. It can be like a boulder being lifted off your shoulders. Rejuvenating. You can also practice yoga, meditation, coloring/drawing, writing/journaling, going for a walk outdoors, exercise…something that refocuses your energy and helps you re-center. It can be easier said than done, but give it a shot and maybe not immediately, but over time you will start to see a difference. It’s very similar to trigger recognition in anxiety and panic; you start noticing the start of things that cause you to spiral and you can more quickly reverse them as you learn more about them and their origin.

My prayer for all of you today is that you all find solace in God and any one or all of those activities to refocus and re-center your minds. I am a huge advocate for the power of prayer; it has helped me tremendously, along with my faith and I cannot stress enough how without them, I would not be here today! I want all of you to live your lives to the fullest every single day, without letting your fears, your what ifs, your worst case scenario mindsets to dictate your days, weeks, months or years. I desire all of you to have confidence enough to step out of your comfort zones and explore the world around you, even if it means exposure to a fear or avoidance. Baby steps start off small and shaky, but as time progresses they get stronger and more steady. Please feel free to comment and let me know a fear/avoidance that you chose to face after reading this! I would love to hear about it! Much love and God Bless!

106dc96c1fd3df6be80aee65cab17019

FEAR. The underlying culprit of many conditions!

FEAR.

Fear is something I will most assuredly discuss off and on for as long as I have this blog running. Every single person out there has at least ONE thing they fear or are afraid of. For some of us, like myself, we have a plethora of fears. I know there are people out there who claim not to be afraid of anything; they fancy themselves immune to fear. But here’s a question, what does fear look like? I can guarantee that when asked about fear, most of us think of phobias…spiders, darkness, snakes and it’s usually either childhood type phobias or all that is creepy and crawly. What if I told you fear is less obvious than your basic phobia. What if I told you it was the underlying culprit to many conditions?

I have anxiety, but more than that, I have anxiety disorder. I have panic attacks, but not just panic attacks, panic disorder. I have also endured depression, which anyone who has depression knows it doesn’t magically disappear, but it can go dormant as I refer to it. Just to reiterate, I don’t make posts like these for sympathy, I make them for one simple reason: to help others. Now, with that said, I want to touch on something for a moment before continuing on to fear. Over the last few years I have noticed many people saying they have “anxiety”. While they may feel the “normal” feeling of nervousness or uneasiness associated with your average person, the simple fact is it’s not consuming them. It’s not debilitating to them. It doesn’t affect their daily lives and paralyze them. It doesn’t morph them into a person whom they can’t even recognize in the mirror. I am not trying to judge another in any way, but when you actually have anxiety and panic disorders, it’s easy to recognize the authentic from the ones who nonchalantly throw the terms around. I’m very confident in the near future I will blog further about my experiences with anxiety and panic disorder, but let me get back on track to fear. The reason I brought up anxiety, depression and panic is because they all stem from fear in some form or another. In my case, lack of being in control is also a factor. Think about it for a minute, those of us with anxiety and panic disorder have many fears. We fear losing control/going “crazy”, others being able to tell something is wrong with us, things happening to us that are out of our control, having some sort of serious illness, no one believing us and our feelings and the list goes on. For myself, at an extremely bad time with my anxiety, I was like a zombie…lifeless. I sat there with no emotions on my face at all, no matter who talked to me or attempted to, I just looked off and never even acknowledged their presence. I wouldn’t eat because I believed I was allergic to anything and everything. I feared going outside of the house because all kinds of things could potentially happen to me. I missed many days of work because I feared leaving the couple of people I deemed my “safe people” who I found some sort of comfort in. I thought every day was my last day. I hardly slept at night because I was convinced I would die in my sleep. My body would go into uncontrollable shakes which weren’t as severe as seizures, but resembled them in certain small aspects. Fear plays a significant role in panic and anxiety disorders. Depression, in many cases, can be caused by fear. Some fear speaking up for themselves or speaking up about their past traumatic experiences and that can cause them to fall into depression.

I was asked, “What if you woke up tomorrow and all your fear was gone, what would you do?” My answer was, “I would live.”

It seems like an odd answer, considering I am literally alive…but often times I am not living. Many times I am controlled by fear; I let it dictate my life. It tells me where I will go, what I will do. In certain times it becomes all-consuming and I lose myself. I become a shell of a person, unrecognizable to those who know me best and love me most. When you’re in those hours, weeks, months or even years, you can become so discouraged. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re “crazy” and “broken” and you’ll “never be the same” and you’re not “normal” (whatever normal is!) kind of look at that last one as a positive 🙂 None of those are true statements. You have the ability to come back from all of it. I don’t want others to live in that constant struggle every single day. It’s like having to be a fighter every single day, whether you want to fight or not and you have no choice. It gets to a point where you just say, “I don’t want to fight anymore” and that is when you start to lose yourself. It’s not easy at all and it’s not “all in your head.” I quote movies A LOT and when referring to anxiety and panic I will use a quote from Titanic, “All the while I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even looks up.”  People feel like if they cannot see physical signs of your condition, you don’t really have any issues. They are conditions that others cannot fathom because they have never truly felt them.

The most important message I want to put out there is that there IS hope! You can come back and learn how to control your fears. I am not saying you will be “cured” or you won’t have times where you revert back, but you’ll have more confidence in your fight and in the end you’ll be the one still standing. Personally, I would not be where I am today without my faith in God and actually, I would not be alive at all. God has protected me through so much in my life, and it’s amazing to look back on certain situations I have been in and realize I made it out. God does not want us to live in fear, but to come to Him with anything that is troubling us.

I’m not sure if any of this was very cohesive,  hopefully it made some sort of sense 😉 I would urge all of you to think about you fears and how big of a role they play in your life. Try to learn more about the triggers of your fears and work on getting to know yourself more. The more you learn about yourself and your fears, the more you’ll be able to work on them more effectively. I believe in the power of prayer as well. Take time to bring your worries and fears to God and watch how He works in your lives and uses you to help others. Much love and God Bless. ❤

 

fear.png