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Bethany G. Paget

Midwife of words

Month

August 2014

I will stand

 

I write this for my friends who have been sexually abused or assaulted and are afraid to talk about it and the shame it brings.

I write this to tell you that, that shame is not yours to carry, this isn’t your burden. You carry it yes but you did not put it there.

The person who perpetrated against you put it there.

That fear of going to the rape crisis center because you don’t want to talk about it, I walk next to you because I am there right now.

I write this for those who don’t have contact with their blood families because of generational lines of abuse.

I write this for those who have experienced their children being sexually abused.

I write this for those who feel the justice system failed them.

I write this for those who have seen their abusers go to jail.

I write this for the ones who still cannot walk away, because the abuse doesn’t feel or abnormal.

I am sitting with you, you who are still being abused and don’t know what to do.

I write this for those who continue to be abused, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. For those who aren’t sure if what they are living with is abused.

I write this for those that now struggle with chronic health problems because of what trauma does to the body.

You who like me, takes a handful of medications every morning, noon and night just to keep the pain at bay.

I pray for those who are not able to go to therapy.

Those who go weekly and sit on a couch and cry, I know those tears.

I hold the hands of those who have spoken out because they know that bringing it into the light will bring healing.

I also hold the hands of those who don’t want to tell anyone because they are afraid of losing the relationship.

I will walk with you truth bearers, light bringers and those who walk in hope.

I will walk with those still afraid. I will hold your hand as we walk together in through those doors where hope will be sitting at a table of other survivors.

Fearful ones stand up because you are not alone, Not for one minute. The person who hurt you can no longer have that power over you.

I will pick up that sledge hammer with you and knock down those walls of fear that we both carry.

I am with year dear one as you wake up with sheets soaked from nightmare sweats.

I will walk with you, hold your hand and sit on the floor with you.

You are not alone.

As Always,

Bethany

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Not Many Understand This Pain

I have tried to start this post several times.  When writing about such a sensitive topic as suicide one has to be careful with their words.

I have had much experience with suicide.  This first was a good friend of mine in middle school.  He was 13.  I struggled so hard with his death because that was the beginning of my own mental health struggles.  I experience suicide at 12 years old tends to shape your worldview about the subject.

I began my own struggles a couple of year later and my first attempt at 13. If I had parents other than mine they would have known what I had done.  My mom however said “wow looks like you got sick in the night”

Nothing about the empty pill bottle or my withdrawn mood; if she knew she never said anything because in my family things get swept under the rug faster than dust bunnies.

When it came to my mental health there were so many things that were done based on the symptoms I displayed.  In my situation those symptoms stemmed from severe abuse but no one ever went to that place with me.  I had a bottle of medication shoved at me and had to go to therapy with some of the worst clinicians I have ever experienced. 

In high school suicide became a regular thought for me.  I would plot and plan inside my head about what I was going to do and when.  I was scared though and don’t really think I wanted to die, I just needed someone to see an outward experience that explained what I was feeling on the inside.  I needed the people in my life (my parents) to see how much pain I was in and that I was desperate to make it stop.

I should stop here and say that at this point 75% of my abuse was buried so deeply in my subconscious that I didn’t even know it was there.  Everything I was experiencing I thought was normal so it was never questioned.  Plus as a young teen the clinicians tend to listen to the parent first and the child second. 

As I got older and the attempts became more serious and closer together it somehow became my parents’ job to make it stop.  I honestly think the reason that they were so adamant about medicating me was because my struggles were making them look bad and they needed me to be better for them. 

I tried to get better, I really did yet when I was living in constant chaos and fight or flight mode it was difficult to really focus on what I needed to do.

Things didn’t change until I was correctly diagnosed and put on the right medications.  I also found a therapist who works with trauma victims and so far I have made several changes and certain things have gotten easier to handle.

But in the ten year time period I had several suicide attempts, hospitalizations and trips to rehab.  To me, living in those moments chaos was the only way I knew how to live.

It wasn’t a good, healthy abundant life at all and that includes after I became a Christian.  Actually becoming a Christian made my mental health struggles worse because of the severe ideas in several camps about mental health, medications and suicide.

When I look back over the years and think about all the people who took their own lives I cannot help but be grieved at the death of Robin Williams.  He has been such a figure of greatness within the entertainment world. 

When a celebrity commits suicide it suddenly becomes a thing where everyone has to know everything.  It could be a form of rubber necking.  There are people who choose to speculate as to why or make asshole comments like he took the cowards way out or that depression is just mind over matter.  I want to throat punch those people because their ignorance spreads and leaves the door open for other people to believe the same thing.

People that have never been there can be supportive, loving, empathetic and gracious when in a relationship with a person struggling with depression.  There are so many ways to help also.  Making them dinners for their family, helping to clean and do laundry.  Take their kids for a couple hours so the persona struggling can rest.

When spending time with someone who is depressed (in my experience) the best thing to do is sit by their side, no matter where they are sitting and listen.  Sometimes offering advice is hard because there really is no right thing to say.  Offering trite Christian sentiments and “promising that God has better plans for them” certainly doesn’t make the hurt better.  In my experience it makes it worse.

One of the biggest reasons why I left the church was because of their stance on mental health and medications.  I have heard that therapist’s are tools of the devil and that medication means that you aren’t putting your full trust in God; tends to make things worse.  That was my personal experience in one of the first churches I attended after becoming a Christian.  I was being mentored by a woman in the church who told me that mental illness isn’t real.  I have been told that I lack faith or just need to try harder.  All the while I am suicidal again and now it’s affecting my daughter.

This is why I take the death of Robin Williams somewhat personally.  Even though I did not know him, I can understand the struggle that would lead him to take his own life.  Each of our struggles with mental illness are different there is a strand that binds us together.  That’s precisely what this community needs right now is to band together.  To love people that we know are struggling and even those that aren’t.  Support, love, and knowing you’re pain is seen and heard can go a long way.

I am so open about my PTSD because I know there are others that need to hear our stories and also because I have been able to let go of the shame I used to carry.  Mostly because of the stigma that’s attached to MH struggles.

Standing beside our people and being willing to just be there is huge.

And to those who are calling him a coward for taking the easy way out, or saying that it’s just mind over matter or that they should just choose happiness – I say to you now shut the fuck up.

Unless you’ve been there or walked beside someone who has, your nasty thoughts will fall on deaf ears.  Watch it when you speak about, on the freakin news peoples struggles because it’s likely you have zero idea what we go through on a daily basis and why sometimes suicide feels like the only option.

I am no longer suicidal; I haven’t made an attempt in almost 10 years.  That doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with those thoughts but I have grown enough in therapy to learn coping skills.  I also have an amazing therapist who walks with me and has shown me a new way.

As Always,

Bethany

Silence

I’m a talker; anyone who knows me knows that.  Even as introverted as I am when I get around people I get loud. I have a naturally loud voice as it is but when I am around people I love to talk, hear stories and sometimes commiserate.  Being silent isn’t a strong suit of mine.

I adore it sometimes though,  especially when I’ve felt overwhelmed or over stimulated by my surrounding.  As hard as it is to embrace silence sometimes I realize that I needed it more than I thought I did.

So when I pulled the silence card out of my topics jar I didn’t know what to think, how to write about silence when it’s so difficult for me to embrace it sometimes. 

Going off the grid looks different depending on what I need at that moment.  Usually it means taking a break from social media, spending more time writing and journaling and being a more attentive mom.  Sometimes A takes a back seat when “I need to check the Twitter.”  She’ll get mad at me when she sees that I have been on my phone for awhile and even say something (I give her props for that.)

I took a writing course last summer where we had a week of silence to meditate and reflect.  Going internal can be a really good thing for me; when I allow it to be.  I am not inundated with bad news, drunk twitter and conservative articles by scary Christians. I feel like I am able to process my day at a greater level when I don’t start the morning out by checking all my social media sites.  As much as I love my coffee and twitter mornings I usually don’t have as peaceful of a day if I start out checking on everything.

Silence also means holding things back sometimes.  I have realized over the last year that I don’t have to put everything out in the open.  I am a pretty open person and I don’t typically hold things back.  I have learned through my own process that even though I have no reservations about being honest; I don’t have to share every detail, every event or the hurts they caused.

I need silence in my life right now.  My brain is constantly filled with chatter.  There is my own chatter and that, which I take in by being on the phone all the time.  I am over stimulated most of the time and all the noise gets extremely overwhelming.  I try to set boundaries for myself to stay off my phone at certain times or days.  It doesn’t typically help at times because I somehow always find a reason to pick up my phone and see what’s going on.

It’s a coping method for m.  When I am absorbed in my groups or twitter or checking out other peoples Instagram accounts I don’t have to be absorbed in my own life and struggles (I do the same with TV) It’s easy enough for me to get distracted by other things. 

But when I am distracted and not fully there I can’t be the person I want to be in my day to day, skin wearing life.  I don’t play with Abigail as much, I tend to push my art aside and, my writing suffers.  I need silence in my house too.  The TV is always on, or there’s a little girl who sings and talks as much as mom.  Silence hardly ever describes the atmosphere in my house.

There’s good news though.  Abigail goes back to school next week and I am going to tighten things up at home.  She’ll be gone all day and since I’m still not working I’ll have the day to just be with me.  Silence can happen when I want it too and it won’t involve getting mad because I want to turn off the TV.

My plan is to only be on my phone when Abigail is at school.  It’ll mean boundaries for myself and being diligent to stick them.  I also know that doing this will help my relationship with Abigail because I won’t be as distracted.

I also know that a lot of wanting things to not be quiet is that when I am quiet allthingthings come up and I want to keep tuning them out.  Continuing to work through the hurt will help. 

Being silent is about more than just staying off of my phone.  It’s also about going deeper within and allowing my heart to be opened to the quiet and not be scared of what might happen.

Silence can indeed be golden.

As Always,

Bethany

Things you never knew

I feel like I have been writing a lot of incredibly difficult stuff lately.  Even though it’s good for my soul to process those out through writing it tends to weigh down my heart too.

I decided I wanted to mix it up a little so I am going to do a list of 25 things that you might not know about me.

Hopefully this is more fun and offers some comic fodder for you, my readers.

  1. I am afraid of cotton balls.  Esp the ones that come in medicine bottles.  The texture freaks me out and sometimes I use scissors or a knife to get it out.
  2. I had a mega, MEGA crush on Tom Cruise when I was little.  I mean come on, it was Top Gun.
  3. I’d rather be barefoot than wear shoes, but I also love shoes and buying them.
  4. I have a badass boy voice when reading stories out loud to Abigail.
  5. I broke my nose at Water World just walking up the stairs.
  6. I wanted to be an ophthalmologist when I was in 7th grade.  It started after we dissected a sheep eye.
  7. I had my first surgery at 3 to repair a hernia.  The second at 9 after the broken nose incident.  The last one was at 31 when I had brain surgery.
  8. I won a writing competition in 5th grade and got to have my story read at the ceremony.
  9. I was a cheerleader for five years.
  10. When I was in 6th grade I begged my parents to send me to Barbizon, the modeling school.  I went, that’s when I learned how to smoke. 
  11. I smoked from 11 until I was 24 and got pregnant.
  12. I had been to rehab at least 15 times before I got pregnant and really got clean.
  13. I can sing the entire opening song to The Golden Girls…… “Thank you for being a friend”
  14. I am addicted to cardigans and scarves.  So much so that in the winter I sleep in them.
  15. I had hammer pants in 4th grade.  I thought I was badass.
  16. I haven’t spoken to my father in five years.
  17. I love sending snail mail so if you want to be my pen pal let me know.
  18. All of my best friends live in other states.  We all met either through Twitter, Facebook and a writing course I took last summer.
  19. Phineas and Ferb is actually one of my favorite shows.  I’ll watch it even when Abigail is not home.
  20. My favorite sandwich when I was younger was grilled cheese with peanut butter.
  21. I started reading Danielle Steel books at 11, mixed in with The Babysitters Club :0
  22. I love to color in coloring books, and not just with Abigail.
  23. I have never had flowers sent to me.
  24. TOMS are my favorite shoes, so much so that they have become part of my identity.
  25. In high school our English teacher asked a friend of mine to house sit for her while they were on vacation.  We promptly used the key to have a party.  She found a couple beer bottles we hadn’t thrown away and busted us at school.

I could probably list more, most would be serious stuff.  I love making lists like this, especially with other people.  It’s fun to get to know the random things about people that aren’t necessarily a part of our everyday conversations.

I hope you enjoyed and feel free to write your own and post it in the comments section on my blog.

As Always,

Bethany

Waiting

Weary

I lay my head down

I wait for you

As I was told to do

 

You never come though

This god I thought I knew

I’m alone in the dark

I am still waiting

 

My quiet breath and tear stained cheeks

I cannot hide my wounds

The ones you said would heal

I am still waiting

 

Grief weighs my heart down

The one that should be filled with joy

That the book says would be made new

I am still waiting

 

Let go and let God

Were their parting words

Joy and healing will come

I am still waiting

 

Wait no longer

Sitting back does harm

I move forward with heaviness

I am waiting no longer

 

As Always,

Bethany

 

 

Don’t you Ever Say I Just Walked Away

The lyrics to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” perfectly describe our relationship.

**************************************************************************************************************************

His parents are coming to visit for the weekend. They want to stay in touch with their granddaughter, the one her son walked away from. I am happy for her that she’ll still have grandparents to spend time with. Sometimes there is nothing like grandma and grandpa. It’s a relationship not based on the actions of their son, they truly want to be a part of her life and for that I am thankful.

I on the other hand have not heard from him in three and a half years.

Nothing

No contact, no child support, no visits.

She still forgets his name even though his absence has left a visible, emotional wound in her life.
For a long time after I left and after Abigail was born I would push the thoughts of him and our relationship aside. I figured I was over him and had forgiven him. I even sent him a bible before he started to contact her again after another absence. I highlighted verses and wrote him a letter about how much I wanted him to come to Jesus (my uber Christian days.) I figured if he could just get saved that everything would be okay.

*shakes head*

He never wanted to be a father. His response to the positive pregnancy test was to go get a six pack of beer while I was throwing up in the bathroom. I tried so hard to make our little “family” work. I wanted so badly to be together and have this baby and eventually get married.

Like he promised.

He promised several things to me. We were facing homelessness for the first time and his thought was to send me back to Colorado. I told him I would never leave him and his promise was that nothing would ever tear us apart.

Several things did however, the number one being drugs.

We started doing drugs together as soon as we left the parking lot of the rehab he had picked me up from. His uncle lit up that joint before we hit the highway and by the time we made it back to Topeka I was as high as a kite. When we were high our relationship was great. There was no fighting or arguing about, well everything.

Drugs kept us together for 2 ½ years and then they turned around and drove us apart.
He knew what he had to do to be a part of his daughters life and he chose not to do it and rather to walk away from his flesh and blood. It was the hardest thing I had ever done (up to that point) walking out that door. Although I knew our relationship was over when we left Kansas and moved to Florida but I didn’t have the motivation to leave until I was pregnant, because it wasn’t just about me anymore.

We were supposed to get married and spend the rest of our lives together. This was our drug laden desire. Even his friends would ask me what I was doing with him; I would always look past his behavior and remind them that he was love of my life.

He was; for a long time.

Now he only shows up in my nightmares. His abuse forever changed me, though I tried several times to refuse that he was abusive at all.
I thought it was normal behavior in a relationship to demand every cent of change back after grocery shopping, including giving him the receipt so he could make sure I hadn’t bought anything for myself. He was certain that I was his property, that he had the right to have sex with me whenever he wanted. I didn’t know that abuse until six years after I left and the haze had dissipated.

It is terribly hard to admit that now, eight and a half years after leaving that I am still struggling with leaving,our relationship and his choices. It feels hard because part of me says that I just need to get over it. I can’t just “get over it” though because every time I look at Abigail I see him (physically, the rest she’s all me) I am reminded that his DNA courses through her veins. We created a child together and I cannot just walk away from that.

I know that I made the right choice to leave. I would never go back and change what I did that day I walked out with nothing but my phone and my medications. I didn’t know that night that it was the last time I would see him until Abigail was born. Even then, when he came to the hospital his unwillingness to step up and be a dad was so evident. When he didn’t come back the next day to sign the birth certificate it was pretty sealed in my heart that I was on my own.

Now that Abigail is older she has started asking me questions and wondering why her dad isn’t here. It’s incredibly difficult when she sees her friends with their fathers because she doesn’t have that. I avoid father’s day like the plague because it’s just too much for both of us. When I have dreams about him I wake up gasping for breath. Even though he isn’t here physically his presence is still here and the both of us hurt over it.

For different reasons obviously; she doesn’t really know anything much about him or why he isn’t a part of our lives. Most of the time I tell her that he is making poor choices and that he wouldn’t be a healthy father. She accepts that about 50% of the time and the rest of the time she blames me for his absence. I know that is a typical childhood response yet it’s too much for me sometimes. I still think about his abuse, his angry words flying in my face along with his fists. I have to tell her, when she asks if she can call him or write him a letter that I don’t know where he is. Other than he is still in Florida which leads her to ask if we can visit.

I don’t want to be the mom who trash talks her child’s father in front of her. I want her to be able to make her own decisions (when she’s appropriately old enough) about who he is. It’s difficult to do that though because I want her to know who he really is. I want her to know why I really left; not what see thinks in her hurt heart.

This is the lingering ache of completely absent father; it doesn’t change with time going by. I wonder if it will ever change, if I’ll ever be able to truly forgive him and move on.

Right now I just can’t.

There is no neat way to package hurt so I can get it out. This story doesn’t have a pretty pink arrow that points to the cross where I tell Abigail that God is her real father (I hear this ALL THE TIME) so she should move on from her physical father’s absence.
Nothing makes me angrier than that statement. She’s a child, that concept is difficult enough for adults to grasp, let alone an eight year old.

So we will keep on avoiding father’s day and I will keep gasping for breath after a nightmare until the moving on enters into our lives.

As Always,

Bethany

Bethany and Jeffrey

*New Years Eve 2004*

I have to say

I have to admit something.

It may cause some grief and isn’t something I feel lightly.

It’s not something I would say to just anyone or anywhere, but you dear reader have been here with me through this last year so this feels safe.

Sometimes I resent being a mother and resent my daughter.

Whew, deep breath. That was hard to write.

I love my daughter, I mean she came to me at a time in my life when dead was where I was going to end up. I often say she saved my life and in a way she did. I am starting to realize that is heavy weight even unknowing to put on her.

Cliffs Notes on my story. I was a drug addict (crack and meth) when I found out that I was pregnant with her. Her father, my boyfriend of three years decided he didn’t want to be a father and I left. I moved into a crisis pregnancy home, run by the local evangelical church. I got clean and became a Christian in a week.

Here I was four months pregnant, clean for the first time in SEVEN years, pregnant and alone for the first time in three years. I put a lot of weight on being a mom because it was my chance to do things different and give her a life I didn’t have.

But I went from being a drug addict to a new Christian/mom in four months. That’s a lot for anyone. I didn’t have any time to be healthy and be alone and sometimes I wish that I did have that time.

I don’t believe in accidents though when it comes to parents and children, even with my own. That’s been a hard truth for me to come to but really I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for them, abuse and all. My life wouldn’t have taken the turn to drugs that it did and I don’t believe I would have wound up in the same spot had I had parents who were nurturing, supportive and not abusive.

It’s one reason why I love my daughter so much because she really did come at a time when something had to change, when I needed to see and feel love in a way I never had. Loving her and being her mom has given me the unique ability to love my own childlike self that never received those things.

That’s why it makes it even harder to admit that there is resentment in the way.

I wouldn’t change anything (ok maybe some things) about the last eight years. Becoming her mom and the avenues I’ve walked have blown me away. I have learned about boundaries, nurture, empathy and GRACE.

But it’s really hard to be a mom. Any mom knows this. It requires so much giving of ourselves that usually at the end of the day there is nothing left for me to give to myself. Being a single mom makes some of that even more difficult to navigate. With hardly any breaks and constant “stuff” I find myself weary very fast.

This is why I believe I realized that I resent the fact that I didn’t get to be drug free, a believer in Jesus, and going through the healing work alone. I’m so tired sometimes that I don’t have enough to even give the cat let alone myself.

This is why I have to incredibly diligent now to get those things, no matter how small they are into my heart.

Time alone.

Time to write.

Time to read.

Time to breathe.

I do realize that she’s in school full time and I am not working right now so I do get time alone however binging on TV all day does not count for heart filling time and I need heart filling stuff A LOT.

I had a come to Jesus meeting with my therapist on Friday. I sent her a text Thursday saying I didn’t think I could parent anymore. Yet this was spoken out of exhaustion, pain and the normal frustrations of raising an eight year old. I know that I CAN parent her, she was given to me on purpose. I think I feel overwhelmed right now of the responsibilities of being a single, non working parent with no car.

I know those things are circumstantial and what I feel is a part of me that has to heal. I know that no matter my circumstances that I have feelings and hurts to heal. However the last two years have been really, REALLY hard and those things seem to compound the hurt.
I know it won’t always be or feel this way. I believe that my own hurt will be healed and I’ll have room to breathe in all facets of my life.

That for me includes parenting and increasing my ability to give my girl the things she needs most.

To know she’s loved

To know she’s seen

To know she’s heard

I don’t believe that Abigail was given to me only to change my life, I believe her life will be radically used, we are just on this journey together and it’s hard right now.

But hard is beautiful sometimes and when she snuggles up to me in the night and grabs my hand………

It’s not so hard.

As Always,

Bethany

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