Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Normalizing Breastfeeding

This is exactly what I want my son to see on TV, in public, in print ads.  I want your kids to see it, too.  Thanks, Buffy, Cody, and Big Bird.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How I Cope with My Anxiety

A new regional park just opened in my town.  It's in the local mountains, includes miles of hiking trails, and is, to steal a word from Buddy the Elf, "ginormous."  Today, I sent my husband and son to this new, ginormous park.

Today, I also had an anxiety attack.  I'm having it now, in fact.  So, I'm writing my way through it.  As I spoke the words, "Why don't you guys go to the new park" I felt my heart start to palpitate.  My mind started swirling with endless possibilities, all negative, all tragic.  There went my heart again.  My face got hot, my body tingled.  I started rattling off instructions for my husband and son.  "Keep your phone on.  Is it charged?  Keep him close to you. Bring water.  Stay close to Dada.  Hey, I love you very much.  Wait, come back.  Kiss?  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.  Have fun."  And I'm hot all over again as they've left and I'm alone to continue imagining mountain lion attacks, falls on jagged rocks, getting lost, and slides down mountainsides.  And now my heart is beating harder, faster.  So it goes.

Why didn't I ask them to stay, then?  Why didn't I stave off my own anxiety attack by merely taking back my own initial suggestion?  Why didn't I immediately change my suggestion to something different, something that doesn't still make my legs feel weak?  Because that's how I deal with my anxiety.  I know, logically, that I'm being irrational.   I know, logically, that none of these things are going to happen, that the possibility is so remote that they don't warrant the type of reaction I'm having.  That doesn't change my reaction, however.  It doesn't change my anxiety.  I deal with it, though, by forcing (hard) my logic to overrule my anxiety.  It took great force, great willpower to shut up my anxious head noises and ship those two out the door.  It took experience to shut up my mouth instead of telling them all the things I was picturing, because I know that would only worry my son unnecessarily, as he doesn't yet understand how illogical his mother's fears are sometimes and only, instead, knows that he trusts her, so will take on the feelings she feels.

Am I rambling?  That's the anxiety.

So I shut up, I said farewell, my body is in a panic-state, my mind is doing its best to quiet it, and I'm writing through it all, because this is how I cope with my anxiety.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Cosby Defenders Pulling the Trigger on My Sexual Assault Memories

This post's main function is personal catharsis.  You're more than welcome, encouraged even, to read it, but I'm here to vomit it all out rather than speak to anyone else in particular.  However, as I learned long ago, as I do this, I inevitably help someone else come to terms with their experience(s), give someone the permission they'd been waiting for to name their abuser(s), open someone's eyes to their asinine victim blaming and/or lack of compassion, and any number of other things that bubble to the surface for others as they read about someone else's hurts.  As such, let's begin.

A couple days ago, I read a post on Facebook that a friend wrote in which she vehemently defended Bill Cosby.  More than that, she accused the victim.  Now, I'm sick and my son is sick, so I put off commenting just to save my own sanity.  A couple other folks commented in a manner I thought was appropriate, so I let them do their thing and I moved on.  Facebook does like to continue bringing those posts up over and over, though, don't they?  True to form, up it cropped again yesterday.  Ugh.  And, of course, the glaring comments were those in agreement with her defense of the repeated assailant...and accusations against the victim.  So, I commented.  I commented with a personal anecdote about my experiences with sexual assault and rape.  I was conspicuously ignored.  (Pro tip: When someone tells you, "Hey, I was raped, I was sexually assaulted and..." you don't ignore them.)  I mentally flipped her off and went to bed.

It was in bed that a memory of another sexual assault reared its ugly head.  It goes a little something like this:

I spent an evening hanging out and drinking with a couple of friends, Brad and Samantha, at their house.  Samantha had another friend there from work.  If memory serves, his name is Miguel.  I got drunk and slept on their couch.  Evidently, Miguel did the same on another couch.  I was wrongly, horribly, illegally, and immorally awakened by Miguel kissing and caressing my body.  His hand was down my shorts, rubbing my clitoris and labia.  His breath was hot and steamy against my mouth.  My eyes were still closed as I tried to grasp what was happening, tried to go from peacefully slumbering to awakened by a sexual assault.  I pretended to stay asleep, hoping he'd either get bored and leave me alone or that Brad and Sam would walk downstairs, see him, and put a stop to it.  The former happened.  He went home.  I told Brad and Sam.  They didn't believe me.  Rather, they believed that he did that, but didn't believe it to be problematic.  It was that he liked me and I was being entirely too sensitive.  Experience stuffed.  Memory locked.  

(*Their reaction is exactly why I've chosen to name them in this post.  I refuse to keep secrets such as this anymore.  Their response is part of the issue and I won't let them off the hook.)   

Cut to yesterday's thread with the Cosby defender (and victim denouncer) which unlocked that ugly memory.  Sometimes, that's how it happens.  Actually, that's almost exclusively how it happens with me.  I've been sexually assaulted three times and raped once.  It took jarring exchanges such as this to get me to recall each one, to open my eyes and mind to what happened to me.  I'm not special enough to believe I'm the only one that ever happens to, either.  It's entirely within the realm of possibility that such things happened with those accusing Cosby.  Those memories don't crop up at times convenient for the law or the fragile minds of vehement defenders and fans.  Statutes of limitations don't take into account suppressed memories, healing that takes eons, or news cycles.  When a victim says, "I was hurt," you believe them.  You believe them no matter how long ago it was, what's going on in their lives now, what's going on in the perpetrator's life now, how much money they have, how much money the perpetrator has, who is famous and not famous, or any other factor you've made up in your head to justify your horrid behavior and mentality.  You believe them, because we're just not making this stuff up.  We're just not.  And it's too damn bad that our experiences are coming out at a time that is inconvenient to you, in a manner you find distasteful, or in implication of a person you think is just too spiffy to do such things.  Too. damn. bad.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Breastfeeding - G'head, Tell Mary and Jesus to Cover Up...I'll Wait

When my son was just over a year old, we ran across this video.  I'm not at all religious, but it struck me nevertheless.  My son was hypnotized.  There were so many babes in arms having "bed" like he did.  It was like he could relate on the deepest of levels.  He watched it over and over again, falling asleep in front of the screen, which was unheard of, as he always fell asleep at the boob instead.  Something about this, though, touched his little self and it has had a special place in my heart ever since.

Enjoy.  Enjoy the full message if you're the religious sort or on mute if you don't care to hear about the Mary, Joseph, Jesus story.  The images are gorgeous no matter what you believe and they speak to my heart and the heart of my son who breastfed like these babes for 4 1/2 years.  They didn't need to #normalizebreastfeeding or raise awareness about #NIP, because it already was normal.  It is normal.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Help Refugees While You Shop

Americans and Syrian refugees
are experiencing two very different types
of camp-outs this Black Friday.
The shopping season is upon us. Coming up is our beloved Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Oh, and there's a massive refugee crisis happening that you can help with during any and all of those days.

Head to Made for Refugees, satisfy your shopping needs (or, more accurately, wants), score unique deals, and do your part to help those in need. It's a multi-fer! (That's like a two-fer but not.)

from the Made for Refugees Facebook page

From the site:

How does it work?
Very simple. Browse our shop. Purchase your items. When we receive the funds, we will donate them in their entirety to the International Rescue Committee.

Oh, and did I mention I'm one of the makers? I am. Check me out. I don't have a lot of disposable income, but I have a strong desire to help those in need, a crafty inclination, and a friend who has friends, so I got to be involved. And now you do, too. Lucky you!

The IRC was carefully chosen and vetted by the Made for Refugees founders, but please feel free to check them out on Charity Navigator (which I recommend doing for all your charities). You'll see they have top status, so your money will be going to all the right places.

Maybe you're an early bird, like me, who has all their holiday shopping completed. (Way to be!) You can still help by donating at the bottom of the Made for Refugees website through your PayPal and/or sharing this blog post encouraging your friends and family to shop and share along with the #madeforrefugees hashtag. Oh, and don't forget to like their Facebook page, too!

It's hard to see the travesty going on around us and feel helpless as so many struggle. We can't all do the big stuff, but we can and should do what we can with what we have. This is our little way of helping.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rage: The Unspoken Symptom of Postpartum Depression

I remember vividly the day I finally learned that rage is a symptom of PPD. I read an article posted by a favorite FB page of mine and it was like the clouds parted and angels sang on high. Until then, I had NO idea that my rage was a result of anything other than my husband being an asshole. Or was he? Was anything as asshole-y as I thought? I couldn't have PPD. I mean, I was so blissfully enamored with my son. I didn't feel sad, cry uncontrollably, feel apathy toward or want to hurt my son. I was pissed off, though. I could've cheerfully choked out my husband most days of the week for the better part of a year. Now, in fairness, this was not the first period of time I was miffed at my husband and it was surely not going to be the last, but my feelings during this time were not the same. The intensity of the rage I felt for him was terribly real and strong.

Upon researching this finding further, I decided to head to a therapist. After the first session, she diagnosed me with both PPD and PPA (postpartum anxiety, which is also not talked about nearly enough) and suggested I talk to my doctor about getting a prescription for meds to help while we continued with talk therapy.

The effects of the Zoloft were almost immediate. No longer did I feel violent urges which I painfully admit I sometimes acted out on in a way I could not control at the time. No longer did I feel inexplicably furious the moment my husband walked in the door after work and every time I saw his face or even thought of him in the other room. The black cloud lifted from me and it was glorious.

Unfortunately, it took longer for it to lift from our marriage. The effects of my PPD on my husband have taken years to heal and fade. Still, there are times when he struggles with wrapping his brain around my rage being an effect of an illness as opposed to me just having been a terrible person.

We must speak about this. It's a silent symptom not because it doesn't present itself, but because we're more ashamed of it than we are of the other symptoms...and that's saying something, since PPD is still seen as shameful, thus we're silent about it. If you're feeling rage during the postpartum period, you are not alone. I am here as a testament to that. I am also here to tell you that there is help. You are not a bad person, you can get relief, you are not being judged.

I ask you to share this far and wide. I ask this not as a means of self-promotion, but in effort to spread the word, to get it out there to that one person who is on the brink of destruction because she doesn't know what she doesn't know. Help her. You can help her.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: Sex is a Funny Word

First things first: GET THIS BOOK.

Ok, now, let me back up a bit and tell you why.

Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU
covers the basics. By basics, I mean such crucial topics as:

- consent
- trust
- masturbation
- secret touch
- sex vs. gender
- respect
- and so much more!

What it doesn't cover is the mechanics of a penis entering an orifice or other forms of copulation. There is another book that came before this called What Makes a Baby? that covers reproduction and a book that will come after which is set to cover intercourse. Without even having to read them, I'm already recommending them. This book is so superb, I'm giving the authors a recommendation on any book they've ever written or will write just because of it.

There are precious few hard and fasts in this text. "There are many ways to be a boy or a girl. For most of us, words like boy and girl, or man and woman, feel okay, and they fit. For some of us, they don't." They then go on to discuss being called a boy, but feeling like a girl, vice-versa, feeling like neither or both, feeling unsure, and just being all right with who you are. Sweet fancy Francis, thank you for this book!

One of the only things they write about for which there is no bend is "secret touching." "Secret touching might feel good like helping touch or bad like hurting touch. It might feel strange or weird or scary, or it may just leave you with questions. But one way you can tell it's wrong is that the person doing it makes you keep it a secret." Me likey.

Everything is frank and direct, which is exactly what I like. "Some people use the term private parts to describe parts of the body that have to do with sex. Because any part of your body can be private, in this book we don't call them your private parts. We call them your middle parts, because they are in the middle part of your body. Just because we choose to keep our middle parts private and covered most of the time doesn't mean they are bad." No shame. You will find absolutely zero shame in this book. Hallelujah!

I could go on, gushing over the stellar quality of the words, message, tone, and graphics on each and every page, I could go on quoting all the fantastic excerpts, but I'd simply end up giving you the entirety of the book, which might peeve the authors ever-so-slightly, so I'll leave you, once again, with a link to the book HERE. Get it. Get it and encourage your library to get it, as well, because this book needs to be in every child's hands post haste.

If all of this isn't enough to convince you, just check out my 4-year-old son reading it to himself after I read it to him the first time and started the second round until my throat literally got sore from reading aloud so much in one sitting. If that isn't high praise, I don't know what is.

Got questions? Hit me.