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Trauma – What?

In the last 2 or 3 weeks I have read through the ENTIRETY of Aunt Becky’s Blog. I laughed, I cried, I sobbed my tiny little heart out.  And now this? More? Good, because I honestly did not know what to do with myself once I was done those 370 pages.

But this site…This site makes me realize, once again, that I really do need help. I was working backwards through the categories, because I am a rebel like that. I click on Surviving, and what do I see, but Trauma Resources. And I was like, okay, let’s read that because I probably don’t need to know about Murder Resources, Military Matters, or Rape.

Emotional trauma may be caused by a one-time event, like a rape, or from ongoing stress, like living with a chronic illness.”

Huh. I have a chronic illness or 10. All mental. Do those count?

  • Depression since I was a child, not a teen or even preteen. Child.
  • Debilitating anxiety that makes it so that I cannot handle any form of outside work, unless it has a well-defined and very soon end date
  • Aunt Becky’s descriptions of her son’s “autistic-ey behaviors” have made me suspect that maybe my mom hasn’t been telling doctors and child psychologists everything about me, because I see a WHOLE LOT of me in the descriptions.

And hey, stress? You betcha. My fiance and I live on about 25 hours a week worth of minimum wage. We had to cut our food budget this year to make it so that I did feel so ridiculously guilty for not being able to give my family anything but the same mediocre homemade jewelry I have given them since I was about 13. My depression and anxiety make our relationship tumultuous, because you can’t really expect a 22-year old with 2 previous relationships under his belt to be able to take a step back and see through my actions and know what is going on. My mom insists on being the EXACT amount of bitchy and annoying to make me feel guilty for wanting her completely out of my life one week, and calling her because I’m sick the next.

Symptoms of Trauma:

  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Anxiety, edginess, racing heartbeat
  • Numbness, withdrawing from people
  • Insomnia, nightmares
  • Muscle aches

Okay, that’s all but one…umm…This is not boding well, is it?

The nightmares? Oh yeah, those have been almost nightly for about a year now. Always different. Sometimes perfectly rational, sometimes not.

Muscle aches? My back causes me constant pain. All day. Every day. Doctors have no suggestions.

But trauma? From what, really? Even I can’t place what I am going through that is so awful, and I am often a big drama queen about my own shit.

There are more pressing things too. Things that I have never ever said to anyone ever. Things I think of that fit in perfectly with my “symptoms” but that I can’t find in my memory to place somewhere on the time line.

Sex hurts. A lot. Like, once I blacked out in the bathroom because we hadn’t had sex in a week or two and so it hurt even more than usual. Doctors have told me nothing more than, “Well he should be more gentle” by looking at where I tell them it hurts. Gentle hurts more because it is longer. The internet tells me that something being in there often enough should make it go away. Not likely, seeing how I have had sex plenty of times and it still hurts like hell. Or with lubrication. Yeah, thanks, but that’s not the problem either. The actual size of the hole is the problem.

It is getting worse. If I go 2 days without having sex, it will hurt every time for a month again. Right now, if I tried, I would bleed. Lots.

For a while we just..stopped. For a few months. Probably 4 or 5, because he is really the most understanding guy out there.

It got even worse. Every time we started to get any form of intimate, even if it was just kissing, I felt like I had been kicked in the crotch. My mind raced constantly, because, yeah anxiety makes me unreasonable. “what if I was circumcised as a baby and nobody told me?” (impossible I think, due to the dreaded “mirror test” and certain feelings it has emitted.)

By far, my only logical explanation is that something happened to me when I was a kid. I don’t remember much from my childhood, aside from small specific conversations and situations.

And that is the part that nobody knows.

I am completely convinced I suffered some kind of sexual abuse as a child. I don’t know by whom.

I don’t know where the question is in all of this. Maybe the question is “what the fuck do I do about this?” because I honestly don’t know.

I can’t talk to friends. I literally have none. I knew one girl who lived in this city, and we haven’t spoken in months. We haven’t made plans since the beginning of the year, or maybe early spring. We were never close enough to discuss this either.

People I know: My fiance, my mom, my family – grandparents, an Aunts, an Uncle, and a Cousin who is 12 years old – and technically a dad, but one who has been ignoring me for several months. All summer, at the very least.

None of these are people I could talk to about this, unless I had some sort of concrete evidence as opposed to this “bad feeling” I am letting disrupt my life right now. I tried about 10 different medications for anxiety and depression. Nothing got better. I gained half my mass in 3 months and am now even worse off.

The same thing that kept me alive last year between this time of year and the end of December is doing it again this year. I can’t kill myself. People have already started buying my birthday and Christmas presents.

What would they do with them if I died?

Prankster, your post breaks my shriveled blackened heart and I wish that I were closer so I could give you a big fat hug. I’m glad that you reached out to us here at Band Back Together. I hope that you can find some peace here. We can love you. We will love you. That’s why we’re all here.

A good lot of us understand trauma in one way or another and I’m sure you have plenty of people nodding their heads at your story. You’re spot on. You do need to talk about this.

As Your Aunt Becky, I take your words about suicide very seriously. I’m concerned. You’re worth more than that and no problems can swallow you up whole. We’re here to fight our dragons, and we’re not going to let you down. You are loved.

That said, there is work that we can help you with and work that has to be done with someone qualified to handle the sorts of traumas you’ve been through. If medication hasn’t helped, talk therapy may be the approach to try. A good therapist can help. Keep trying them until you find one you like.

There is no need to live in darkness when the light is so warm. You can be in the light. I promise.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255

If it is an emergency, please go to the emergency room now. We don’t want to lose you.

Suicide is not the answer.

Much Love,

Aunt Becky (and her band of Merry Pranksters)

Rainbows – To Write Love On His Arms

The following (edited) post was written as a tribute to my friend on what would have been his 28th birthday this past March:

Today is my friend’s birthday. Was. It was his birthday. Or is it “is”? I just don’t know.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I befriended a freshman named John. He was on the swim team with me and we clicked instantly. We had little crushes, but after 4 days of the innocent hand-holding thing, we decided we were better as friends. We spent hours together. We’d share a lane at swim practice and walk for a bite to eat after school. When I started dating a football player my junior year, I’d go to every game and sit right next to the band so I could hang out with John while he played clarinet. He’d make me laugh with his Elmo voice and hear me out on my issues with other girls. He was my best friend. At the end of my junior year, John tried out for – and won – the drum major role for the next year. He was so ecstatic. He had such a love for music and had so many ideas for field formations and songs the band could perform.

On Labor Day my senior year, I was at home, enjoying an extra day off from school. We had friends over to swim. The phone rang, my friend Jamie told me to sit down. She told me John was gone. My heart broke then and there. He’d taken his own life, his mom had found him. The next days were a blur – the candlelight vigil, the wake, the funeral. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat. My world no longer had light. On Thursday that week, our flex schedule should have crossed our paths between 2nd and 4th period on my way to pre-calculus. He didn’t greet me at the stairs. I burst into shuddering sobs, and my friend led me to the grief counselor that had been brought in just for us.

To this day, I don’t know why he’s gone, but I still miss him when I think of him. I think his passing has impacted me so deeply because he was so young. We were so young. We were supposed to be happy and carefree. On the surface, he was. But deep down, there was a sadness I can’t begin to comprehend. How could a 16-year-old think that suicide was the only way? At his funeral, John’s mom said he’d made a mistake. I believe that – that he’d gotten caught up in some dark place and didn’t see another way out. I don’t think he truly wanted to leave. He had too much left to do, too much left to see.

As I’ve grown up, I’m often reminded of the things that John won’t experience. He never got to drive the vintage VW Bug he saved for for three years. He didn’t walk across the stage on our high school football field and graduate. He never had a college roommate or had to endure finals. He never fell in love. But with all he’ll miss, there is one thing he did do that brings a smile to my face and makes my heart clench and my throat burn with pride and happiness through my tears. I’m thankful that he got to lead his beloved band as drum major for the first game of the season, 2 days before he left us. I remember my last hug, and it’s something I hope I will never forget. The game had just ended, and I went running to find him and congratulate him. I told him I wanted a hug and he said, “no, you don’t. I’m all sweaty and hot.” I responded, “I promise I’ll always want to hug you” and wrapped my arms around him for the last time.

His birthdays always touch my heart. He loved to celebrate birthdays, just as I do. He’d bring his friends balloon bouquets at school. I don’t like to think about his death, though that date is forever etched in my mind. I prefer to think of him on his birthday, and remember him as he was when he was happiest: blonde hair, blue eyes, a mouth full of braces, proudly wearing his fire red and white band uniform. It’s what he wore when he gave me that last hug, the last time I saw him. When he was laid to rest, his mom told us that when we saw a rainbow, it was a smile from above, a gift from John. I don’t believe it myself, but every year on March 4th, I’ve seen a rainbow. He’s the one giving gifts on his birthday. He was always so sweet like that.

Brooke Kingston, March 4, 2010


After his death, some of my other friends and I realized that he’d said good-bye to each of us in our own way. He paid compliments, told us how much he enjoyed our friendship, said he’d miss us. We thought he meant he’d miss us over the weekend and though nothing of it. We had no idea he was reaching out, trying to tell us something. We had no idea it was already too late.

But it didn’t have to be to be too late for John, or for anyone. There was somewhere for him to turn, someone who could have been there to listen. To Write Love On Her Arms, or  TWLOHA, as it’s often referred to, is a non-profit organization that serves to provide hope and support to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA’s mission is a thing of compassion and love.

An excerpt: “You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.”

To Write Love On Her Arms works to “encourage, inform inspire, and also invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

It offers a complete directory of helplines and services for those in need. Donations made to TWLOHA help to fund such organizations as The National Hopeline, Self-Abuse Finally Ends, IM Alive, and Kid’s Helpline Australia.

TWLOHA could have helped my friend, John, and many others. It is my sincere hope that awareness is spread about this incredible and compassionate organization so that others don’t have to lose their friend or family member.

I Don’t Want To Be The Bigger Person

Once upon a time I could forgive anyone of anything.

Hell, I forgave my first husband when he tried to kill our then five month old (after he’d completed his jail time, and I’d received counseling).

My best friend had sex with my boyfriend? Everyone makes mistakes right?

My sister drained my bank account. Well, these things happen.

But I don’t want to have to forgive you.

I lived through two years of our relationship and all of the bad things that it caused me.

You left me countless times. I begged you to stay. You finally came home and asked me to marry you. I said yes.  If I’d known about her then, I would have run over your foot in the driveway as I left.

We got married. I didn’t tell anyone, because no one but me seemed to understand that you HAD changed. No one supported this relationship. My own mother didn’t even find out until a few months later.

Eleven days after we got married, you went back across the country to her. You said things were too hard here. What you meant was that I wanted you to work because it wasn’t fair that I had two jobs. She could support you (or rather her daddy could). You could drink and smoke pot all night with her. I expect you to be clean and sober. Yeah, I guess I could see how that would be hard for you.

While you were gone, I lost the house. My mom took the kids back to her house because I couldn’t work 70 + hours a week and still remember how to make lunches in the morning. I cried every minute of every day, and organized a way to kill myself.

Then you called me and said that you missed me and wanted to come home. So I dropped the $350 to fly you back from Seattle. We decided to make a go of it and told the kids that you were home and everything was fine.

And everything was fine. I’d started opening my heart again, believing that you were honest with me and that you loved me and things would work out.

Until she e-mailed me… She’s pregnant. It’s yours. Your first biological child is due on my birthday. How sweet. You told me that you used protection with her. You said it was safe, that she was on the pill.  You SWORE to me that she was out of our lives FOREVER. And now I find out that I have to deal with her and her spawn for the rest of my life?

You say I’m supposed to be the bigger person? How do I explain to my kids that their “dad” has a kid from another woman. Who will be born the month before our first wedding anniversary? How do I tell my son that it’s NOT okay for a man to treat a woman this way? How do I show my daughters that this is NOT what a good relationship is?

Oh that’s right… By being the bigger person and forgiving you.

Silly me, how could I forget?

The “R” Word

Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) is a rare genetic condition that can lead to severe symptoms, including disabilities.

This is her daughter’s story:

“What a retard!”

When you say things like this, I want you to remember a face.


This is my daughter. In this picture, she’s playing soccer. With a Special Olympics team.

You see, she was born with a metabolic disorder that caused brain damage when she was only a week old. She may never read over a third grade level. She still has a speech impairment despite 12 years of therapy. She’s socially inept at times.

Yeah, she’s what some people would call “a retard.”

Only that word is complete and utter bullshit.

Hearing that word cuts both her and me worse than any knife could. There is absolutely no reason to use that word. EVER. Don’t give me the bullshit that it’s a medical term. If you do, I’m liable to scream “shut the fuck up” in your face. Well, maybe not, but I will be screaming it in my head.

If you’re going to use the word retard, you might as well use words like nig****, fag****, dyke, cunt… Oh, but you won’t use those words. Those are bad words.

But retard? Well, that’s not so bad. After all, the only people that’s only insulting the mentally impaired. And they don’t know what is going on, do they?

I have news for you though. They do know what’s going on. Mentally impaired people have feelings, hopes, and dreams just like the rest of us. If you take a few minutes and actually get to know someone who is mentally impaired, you’ll discover that.

This isn’t about being politically correct. It’s about showing some RESPECT.

We Are NOT A Team

You used to clean up nicely. Later, I would be lucky if the t-shirt you threw on wasn’t slept on by a cat.

I hated when you would call me “baby” or “sweetheart.” It always seemed like such a default.

When I realized I was late calling you, I’d start agonizing over what you would say to me this time.

There are times I want to kick myself in the ass for ever getting lonely enough to talk to you that first night.

I tried to love you. I really did.

There just wasn’t anything there.

When I realized that I didn’t have any photos of the two of us together, relief was the resounding feeling.

I expected everyone to say “I told you so.” They didn’t. But they did listen. Endlessly. Thank you.

Every fight, I was waiting, wondering when that first punch was going to be.

Wondering if the punch would ever come was worse than if you would have just gone ahead and hit me.

I cowed down to you for reasons that I haven’t been able to figure out yet.

I stood up to you for reasons I never should have lost in the first place.

Late night, injured, hysterical, drunk phone calls? No.

Stalking my every move that you can find? No.

Just because I left before your fist finally got sick of hitting everything/everyone else, doesn’t mean it wasn’t abuse.

You made me ask for money that you offered me. Promised me. Money that I did not ask for. That I did not want. That I would not have needed if not for you.

Looking back now, a tent on the corner of the street would have been preferable.

You took my friends.

You took my ideas.

You tried to take my identity.

Lucky for me, I’m a stubborn bitch.

You said things, did things, made up things (and continue to do so) that I refuse to waste any more thought or time on.

I walked away from them.

I walked away from you.

With a limp and a smile.

The only time you’re happy is when you’re the superior in the relationship. When you can make the other person feel inadequate.

Regardless of what you think, there was/is absolutely nothing I want to learn from you.

It’s taken me close to a year to get even marginally back to the person I was before I got tangled up in the mess that is you.

I finally see what I’m capable of.

That thread between us? The one and only thing we share? I’m making it my life’s goal that she is never made to feel like or to think that she is nothing. Minuscule. Worthless if not by someone’s side, obedient like a pet.

She will be better than you.

Better than me.

I am making sure that she will never be in the position that I was in with you.