Don’t look at me!

A long time ago, when I was unhappy… no, downright miserable, I didn’t really care what I looked like. I was standoffish and mean to say the least because my home life was a nightmare… It was hard to see the beauty in things and I certainly didn’t see any beauty in myself. Now that I’m so much happier and content and at peace, I’m a heck of a lot nicer to be around and putting makeup on and doing my hair nicely just reflects outwardly the inside that I care so greatly for. I didn’t start this lifestyle of Paleo and working out to get a nicer outside, I started it to get a nicer inside… but it’s hard to keep the ‘nice’ contained to the inside and so it’s becoming reflected in the care I take for my appearance now. It was never a lie back then that I didn’t care what I looked like… I really didn’t. I was working day by day to just get through the days without losing my mind and there was nothing left to invest in my appearance.

Now that things have changed on the inside, my outside is becoming pretty nice… some days I look in the mirror and see how far I’ve come… and sometimes I look in the mirror and I see how much work I have ahead of me and how long it will really take to wash the pain of those years away… an interesting dilemma has surfaced.

I have a huge secret that I have carried around with me, starting in 2005… and then it doubled itself in 2011… I talk the talk of not carrying shame in something you have no control over… I am an armchair advocate for women’s rights and mental health care for those that need it. I would tell someone till I’m blue in the face that rape and abuse and sex assault is not their fault and that mental health should not carry a stigma with it. Because I, from the seat of my being, believe this to be true.

I was sexually assaulted twice in the last 8 years. Once by someone I barely knew and once by my ex 22 days before we finally ended it. I am in general, not traumatized by it. I made decisions at the time to prevent myself from being harmed more than necessary and while it’s incredibly painful to think about what people with no conscience will do… and I know it will be heartbreaking for people who know me… I’m honestly fine. The thing is tho… that kind of thing… it changes you. It changes parts of you that you wouldn’t think or know it changes until something in your life comes up to show you how you’re different.

The experience has made me quite shy… I’m not usually one to be labelled as shy… in a group of people I know, where I feel safe, I’m not shy… but in any situation where I feel even a little bit vulnerable or out of my element, my personality shuts down and I become painfully shy. It’s taken a very special person in the last little while to see me through my shy protective barrier and pull me out. That same person, who I’ve mentioned here before as a dear friend of mine has also showed me that trust is not always misplaced.

The other thing that my experiences have made me is incredibly self conscious. I’m absolutely terrible at taking compliments… It borders on rude how terrible I react actually. It’s something I am trying to work on… it all goes back to trust then right? Trust the person… trust what they say… trust that there is no ulterior motive. For the last ‘can’t even count that high’ years, I didn’t care what I looked like. Truth was, that was a safe place to be for me. Not that I knew it at the time, because the reason I was wearing so much extra weight was due to other life factors and an emotionally abusive situation. But when the outside started to become affected by the dramatic changes on the inside, that’s when it hit me. People are going to look at me. And I am not comfortable with that. I’m comfortable sharing an anonymous photo of my bikini clad before and after on the internet… I’m comfortable posting pictures of myself online… that’s all anonymous… I’m not comfortable wearing a nice shirt that shows my… ahem…‘assets’ …in a complimentary light and then having people look at me. I rationally don’t think anyone is out to get me and I rationally actually don’t think that anyone would be too interested in me for looks alone. However… the damaged and irrational side of me… that voice in my head tells me to walk faster, keep my head down and go eat some ice cream to get a bit of protective fat back because it’s a dangerous, dangerous world out there. Now the rub… I’m also not comfortable wearing baggy clothes that hide all the work I’ve put into myself. I’m not comfortable wearing too many layers for how hot it is outside and I’m not comfortable pretending that I don’t care about how I look. And there is the situation at hand. I don’t want people to look at me but I’m not going to dress or care for myself in a way that prevents it. I honestly don’t know where to go with that. I wish I could say that the last paragraph of this post was going to be some enlightenment over my dilemma… that I’d made some dramatic association and solved my own problem. I haven’t. The only thing I can give myself is another day and another day loving me from the inside and allowing that to show on the outside. I can only be stronger from my experience and while it would be impossible to say it will never happen again (but God I hope it never EVER happens again), I have to know that my instincts both times were right… and be stronger in trusting them. Because what a shame to be taught a lesson like that… twice… and not to take it to heart and get every ounce of experience and knowledge out of it that I possibly can!

 

NB: It was only recently that I was able to recall all the details from the first assault in a linear fashion. I don’t know if it’s because I was mentally strong enough, because it had been buried long enough or what… (altho no amount of burying it resolved the acute pain of the ‘in the moment’ emotions). I do believe that rape, sexual assault and physical abuse should not be kept in the dark. I believe that the more that people who have experienced it talk about it, the more that we can use our own experience to help teach eachother. That my experience might pave the way for someone else to recognize the signs and help themselves. And to help heal our sisters and mothers and daughters who have experienced it. Every time you find out you’re not alone with your experience is another moment of strength. That takes the dark off the shame and pours daylight on it.

With that said, I do have my experience written down. I understand it now in a way that I didn’t understand it then. Having uncovered it and poured my own daylight on it, I now understand why in some circumstances, I am the way I am. There is nothing gory or perverse in my account. There is no content that you couldn’t read on a computer screen at work. And yet, I go back and forth on whether to post it. Not because I’m ashamed, or scared, or even care that it’s on the internet. More because I am terrified that it will hurt people I care about to the depths of my soul. Do I know that these same people are statistically likely to have had a same/similar experience? Of course. Does that make it easier? No.

I think it would be cathartic to share it. Even tho the majority of the readers here are strangers. Because that’s another ounce of daylight shed on my experience from each person who reads it. I’m still debating. Your thoughts would be so appreciated as to the route I should take. But even if I get 0 or 100 comments on it… the decision still rests with me.

May Days

I’m darn well exhausted. 

I’m a complete zombie and the only thing keeping the secret of my exhaustion is that my skin care ritual is so fantastic that I haven’t developed a puffy face or bags under my eyes yet.

In the last three weeks I’ve gotten MAYBE 4-5 hours of sleep a night, I’ve been still going to the gym and working out as hard as I can and then working a full day, coming home and keeping a clean house and trying to keep the cat from chewing his way out of the house… all the while spending precious time commuting back into downtown Vancouver in the evenings to hang with a friend.

The exhaustion comes not only from not getting my very much required 8 hours of sleep a night but also from processing a lot of mental and emotional data.  I’ve been in one of those learning phases for a few weeks… Self-discovery is actually a really hard job and can be really tiring… the outcome has been great tho and besides being completely exhausted, I’m very happy!

Many many good things have come out of this last three weeks, one of which was a really meaningful experience in my Faith. I have a whole entry I’m writing about it but until I get it all finished up… you’ll just have to wait.

Last night I went out for dinner after work… I met my friend downtown and we decided that we needed to walk for a while to decompress from the day so we headed out toward English Bay.  We first walked along some pretty busy streets but the sun brought every single person in Vancouver out to downtown so we quickly retreated to the side streets and found ourselves strolling along some very lovely neighborhoods. We finally made it down to the beach (where I neglected to take even one single picture of how beautiful it was) and found ourselves an empty bench to sit on… The heat drove us off the bench eventually and we went to a small hole in the wall Greek restaurant for dinner.  It was SO GOOD! The place was packed and they also do huge take out business so everything was super fresh!  After dinner we decided to walk a ways and when I finally got back to my bus stop and my friend to his office, we’d walked a total of 5miles.  I sincerely wish (for both of us) that had we known we were going to walk that far that we had worn appropriate footwear… neither of us did altho with such good conversation and a relaxed pace it was hardly noticeable how far we went.

I have no dinner plans again until next week so hopefully I can catch up a bit on my sleep and spend a little time decompressing… My plan is to gym tonight after work (and by tonight I mean I’ll be home early today so gym at 3ish) and tomorrow after work (again, since I’ve adopted early work hours to accommodate gym in the am, it actually accommodates gym after work if I don’t make it in the am). I have no projects on the horizon for the weekend except maybe making another skirt or two and buying some face cleanser.

I hope everyone is planning on having a great weekend… I heard it’s supposed to be sunny here again so I might find a patch of grass for a mid day sunshine nap.

darcy May 9

I know it looks like I have huge bags under my eyes but I took this pic under flourescent lights in a bathroom stall so… it’s the lighting…

Ssshh! Don’t Tell!

I’m generally an open book… there are not a lot of things that I keep to myself and sure as heck one of the things I find almost impossible to keep is a secret… Well, my own secrets, not ones people share with me.

See I find a secret… something so good that you want to keep it a secret SO EXCITING that I can’t help myself and I just HAVE to tell… and then I tell and tell until all the shiny and exciting bits have been rubbed and worn off and then I wish I’d never spilled the beans.

Keeping a secret is actually an art… one I’m getting much better at.  You see, the rubbing off of the shiny and exciting bits is the part that I don’t like about being a terrible secret keeper and the only way to keep the corners shiny and intact is to keep it to myself.

I have some good secrets going right now… the only problem is that because people expect me to be this open book of gabbery, generic and vague answers are very hard to sell.  I’ve been trying to change the conversation about me and my secrets back to the people who are asking because WITHOUT FAIL, people want to talk about themselves more than they care about the secret.  Try it sometime… when someone asks you a question about something that is unique to you, turn it around and ask them something and they’ll forget they were ever interested in what you were saying…

My secrets lately are of the fun and exciting variety… not to mention that it’s fun and exciting to keep secrets from certain people because it drives. them. crazy!  Yep… crazy!  I don’t think my life is really that exciting and certainly neither do a lot of people but this whole secret keeping craze I’m in right now is really messing with people’s minds!  It’s so fun!