One woman's journey and dawning realization of the slow destruction of her spirit while trapped in the jaws of disability.

Disability is at first an affliction of the body, then a state of mind and finally a shackle upon the spirit.

Lydia M N Crabtree, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shame I Name Thee

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog has graphic descriptions of childhood incest and physical abuse as experienced by this author. Out of respect for those among you who may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I am warning you. I believe, however, that the point I make could outweigh the discomfort you may experience when reading about the abuse. Although, I encourage you to only read what you feel you can mentally, emotionally and psychologically handle. No one will ever know or judge you for the choice you make. Tomorrow or some future day, you may come back and be ready to read this. That will be just fine, too. There is no judgment for you here. There is no condemnation. Whatever you decide is the perfect thing for you to do. Go either way with my deepest respect for your journey and Divinity’s blessing on your healing spirit.

In previous blogs I have named my shackles Shame and Guilt. Only today did I realize that these entities are constructs that are spiraling around and around throughout my life for the purpose of smacking me in the head and asking me, “Did you get it yet?”

My personal belief system is that we are part of the spiral of life and the lessons we encounter ride upon this spiral with us. If a lesson that we are trying to learn is not learn or perhaps has come to be thought of as learned by a student,  it is an absolute that lesson will return to you again and again until you find a way to banish that lesson from you own personal vortex. Shame is this large piece of debris in my vortex, large and unwheilding, smacking the back of my head every time I spin around.
Today I sat across from my counselor and watched him break down for me the things that create my shackle of Shame.

It was an arduous conversation. One that was difficult to hear and sit through. One of those conversations that haunt you as you go through your day, your mind is taking care of all the necessary things: breathing, walking, interacting with others.  Your being is quacking and shivering in excited fear that some piece of the puzzle might be falling into place and will require bold and decisive action on your part to bring lasting inner change.
I have ranted and raved and showed “extreme anger,” according to my therapist, in regards to my perception of how others view my disability. I feel that religion and some spiritual paths inadvertently lay blame at the feet of those who are sick, disabled and abused.

The best example I can give is the idea some people have in relationship to reincarnation. There is a belief that as you rest in the Summerland waiting to be recycled into your next active life, you sit with those ancestors who have pre-deceased you and with the parts of the Divine you are connected with. During these leisurely conversations you enter into agreements. These agreements can be anything from agreeing to return to the next life with another person so that you can interact together again. Or you can agree to undertake some task the Divine has set before.
Some who hold to these beliefs go as far as stating that those who suffer from disability, recurrent illness or even sexual, mental, physical and emotional abuse chose in the Summerland and with agreement with the Divine to walk that path in this life time.  Upon hearing about my sexual abuse at the hands of my father a spiritual friend said, “Obviously you wanted to learn something from him because you chose him as your father before you came back in this life.”

I have sat with this concept and even attempted to rationalize it to be palatable for myself. I told this spiritualist that I may have said I would like to find great courage or I would like to feel empathy for those who have souls filled with pain; therefore, the Divine chose a quick route to do that. That is to say gave me to my biological father to beat and rape into those places.
It is necessary in this moment to note, my therapist is disabled. I have never asked what genetic disorder he suffers from that affects his ability to walk and talk. He has a brilliant mind and has worked at high levels of the government teaching military pastors about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how to treat it and other war related mental illnesses. He worked for the Government at Ground Zero after 9/11 ministering to those who had lost loved ones and more importantly helping to mentally strengthen the first responders and workers on the ground. He took to private practice when traveling became something he could no longer accomplish.

After discussing with him the idea that one might choose to be disabled or choose to be sexually assaulted, my doctor’s muscles twisted by disease, transformed into a mighty rage
“No one would choose to be disabled,” he growled, his usually jumbled words incredibly clear, “No one would choose to be raped.”
Then we sat with those words in the air around us breathing them in like a slow acting antidote letting them sink into our pores and flow down into the darkest depths of our souls where they could attempt to penetrate Shame.

I sat still and held my breath. I do this sometimes when I realize I am awakening my being to some fundamental realization that will change my view forever. I sat there and as clear to me as the surety that Divinity exists, everything clicked into place. When my doctor started to speak again his words poured into this suddenly freed space in my soul and I soaked it up letting its surety and knowledge soothe a festering putrid wound I have had all my life.
He talked about the nature of Shame. How Shame is insidious and infects the global community with misconceptions about abuse and suffering. He broke down how often Shame is unintentionally fostered by persons who mean well.

When someone says to me, “You chose the parents and situations you have come back in this life to.” My heart fills with Shame and I hear, “You chose to come back this life and be brutally raped repeatedly from your earliest memories until just before your first menses by the man who should have protected you.”
If either of the above statements is true, then every violent crime victim’s worse fear is true.

The violation of their body is THEIR FAULT.

When someone says to me, “If only you would meditate on the mind body connection, then you would be well,” the voice of Shame says, “It is your fault.”

Because if the above statements are true when my hands shake uncontrollably or my mind fails in a conversation and makes my mouth stutter, I could have made it not do these involuntary muscular responses caused by a defect in my genetic make-up, if I just meditated more or in the right position or with the right inscense or in the right place or had a stronger faith or......
And where these well intentioned words are meant to bolster and encourage a person, they only serve to discourage.  They inspire the afflicted to hide defective flaws and lifelong wounds and try to pretend that Shame isn’t slicing them open day in and day out with a warped truth about suffering and how I am complaisant.

So where am I in all this? I am a person who was raised by a child molester and rapist. He was an explosive abusive. I lived a childhood of stretches of general calm and well being disrupted by broken noses, fingers and cigarette burns. The molestation and rape was always the backdrop of the life I had. I was given long sleeved shirts to hide bruises and burns and made to wear long skirts to hide belt marks upon my legs. For years just the site of a belt was enough to rip me from the current time and place and force me to relieve the horrors of my childhood in crystal HD 3D clarity.
As an adult, my mind has large gaps of missing time in my childhood. I can distinctly remember as a teenager finding cigarette burns and having no recollection of actually haveing recieved them. I have nightmares often. Some are about me being forced to live with my biological family. I am not allowed to leave and all the while my biological family doesn’t understand why I am desperate to leave. My husband often wakes me patting my back and saying, “You aren’t there. You are here. This is our bed. Dia and Tony’s bed and they can’t get to you here. Wake up and remember that.”

He learned the hard way to touch me as little as possible when I am afflicted by these nightmares or he risks his own broken nose or black eye.

If he isn’t in bed, I wake to my own voice screaming, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” Just like I was taught by the psychologist who trained me in lucid dreaming to try and help me find some relief from post traumatic stress induced night terrors.
The worse dreams, the ones I don’t tell anyone about are the ones where I am have sexual intercourse and am enjoying it. When I turn my head or the light catches my partner’s face and it is him. I am assaulted again with the smells and the clarity of who and what he is. These are the worse because when I was a child, "NO!" never stopped anything. So I am left to thrash about violently just like I did as a child. Silent protest in the only way I was permited because from birth I had been groomed to be shamed and to know it was my fault.

And here I am again. I am in a situation where I am not in control of everything that is happening to me. My body has become a stranger I don’t understand, over wrought by involuntary muscle movements and quirks of the entire autonomic nervous system that embarrass me. They often make me feel stupid because I can’t remember the word for that thing that I use every day and need someone to hand me but I can’t name it. I know it but it is as if it no longer knows me. I sometimes can't control my bowels with horribly embarressing consequences. And just like when I was a child, I am faced by some who would say, directly or indirectly this is my fault.
So one of my shackles is Shame, I name thee. Names are powerful tools in magic. Knowing the name of things helps us to properly confront them. I, however, am finally one up on Shame. Because this blog has taught me something, Shame cannot stand in the light of revelation. The more I share, the more I tell, the more I let my words flow and think someone is reading these words and may be encouraged or gain insight and understanding into a person who is disabled or has been abused, the smaller Shame becomes.

I also understand something else. These shackles aren’t going to fall off me. Shame is going to get smaller and smaller and eventually it will be woven into the very fabric of my being as is all the events, words, people and deeds in my life. And I am not a child. I am learning to use the loam that creates the fabric of my being and I can keep threading revelations and honesty over this Shame and it will become a place that is strong despite the cigarette burns in my being.
I have written these words graphically on purpose. I do not want your sympathy, pity or condolences. I may believe that the Goddess did not deliberately place me to be abused, raped and disabled. I do believe that She is working with me to shape and weave and shrink the things in my life that are not for my greatest and highest good. She is also helping me shape and weave and grow the things in my life that ARE for my greatest and highest good.

I have shared deeply personal, intimate things that I rarely have the courage to literally speak of because I want you to think about something for me. When you hear of a person that is an adult survivor of child abuse, don’t ask them why they didn’t tell or get away or find some way to stop the horrible things that were done to them. They were children. In a relationship between an adult and a child the incongruity of power is something that adults facing a similar situation would find difficult to overcome. Think a bit on lab coats and shock machines. Don’t tell them they chose this life to work through some karma, even if you believe this. You are only planting seeds of self loathing that grow out of the evil idea the real person responsible for pain is person and not the perpetrator.
Find some unconditional love, ask them what you might do to help them better deal with their trauma and if they talk about suicide take swift decisive action on their behalf. Learn what it means to minister and then minister. These aches, pains and welts of left over belt licks won’t be eased or erased by a belief that ultimately is nothing more than salted sandpaper on a wound. If you can’t do these things, then just don’t speak. That is better than to add damage to an already broken human being.

And when you come upon someone who is disabled, do the exact same thing. Check your judgment before it comes spewing out of your mouth. Don’t condemn them for their eating habits or their lack of exercise or the vitamins or herbs you think they should be taking. Ask them what you could do that will encourage an improvement of their condition. Sometimes a simple act could actually make a significant difference. Maybe they can’t walk or work out alone because they might fall or injure themselves and you could be a partner to walk with them.  Maybe they need a little help with house work and you agree to just come over and do the dishes once a week. Maybe you bring a meal once every two weeks and clean the dishes after, a gesture born out of love and friendship. The time you free up to allow them to rest coupled with the act of love you demonstrate can be far more healing than any drug they may have to take.  Maybe you just stop by sometime and play cards or get someone home bound to the movies. Maybe you post thoughts of love on their FaceBook page. Again, if you can’t do these things, hold your tongue.
I have also shared this because I often tell people who worry about being outed of the broom closet. “If you hide something, then you must be ashamed of it. If you are ashamed of it, then it must not be something you should be doing. If it is something you shouldn’t be doing, then it is bad, wrong and open to be interpreted that way by others.”

My name is Lydia. I have Neurocardiogenic Syncope as a part of my Dsyautonomia. I am an adult survivor of incest, physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse. The abuse was so consistent and long lasting that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which cause night terrors and sometimes day time flash backs. And although sometimes I feel like these things are my fault. They are not. I am diligently working to improve my mental, emotional and physical health and that is all I can do. My genes caused my disability and a biological father I have disowned was my rapist, jailer, whipping man and the cigarette to me as ashtray. None of that I chose. None of that Divinity wished for me.
Take that Shame.

I am Lydia Marcassa Nettles Crabtree. My mother’s name was Cora and the closest thing to a father I have is a man named James. Cora died two years ago but I still have my sisters Crystal and Sarah and a host of extended family of brothers and cousins that have adopted me and I have chosen. I have Tony and my beautiful, strong, handsome young man who was once my babe. This is the blinding illumination I am being bathed in now. Despite who I was, what was done to me, whether I am sick or well, I have the Divine and I have all of them.

Take these elements of elucidation for I have come to know, you cannot grow within it. You are reduced to a quiet ping on the back of my head.  You, Shame, are a shrinky-dink in the oven of their love.

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