MisTweeted & Identity Crisis

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You Guys

I am having a complete identity crisis.

As revealed earlier today (in a private tele convo, so you are just hearing about it now, unless it was you I was speaking to), I could hardly tell when I was having fun in a situation until I was probably 30.  This factoid might enlighten you as a precursor to my current crisis.

I am calling it a crisis, because defining/redefining myself is having a HUGE impact on my ability to function.  Wait, maybe that’s the indicator for needing professional intervention.  Anywho, it is what I am currently experiencing.

I am unemployed

I am existing solely as a caretaker for my son

I do not have a profitable passion

I am not sure that I have any passion

I am not even sure if I like the tea that I am drinking

 

And now, after a few weeks of Twitter silence, the Pakistanis have returned to insult me.

Not really me, of course, because they do not know me.  They think I am some old male controversial Pakistani political celebrity elder statesman kind of person.

I have been ignoring them for months.

Typically what happens is that a Pakistani tweets something ‘@’ ing me, thinking they are connecting with the politician man.  Then someone else retweets, someone else adds comments and retweets, and their friends retweet and their friends retweet and so on.  For a few years, I would even be tweeted by news outlets as if I were this Pakistani man of political influence.

Yes, this has been going on for years.

Yes, I know that I can change my twitter handle.

 

Are you still with me?

 

For a long time, I used these ‘@’ tweets as my own personal entertainment.  Not to mock the feelings of the people tweeting their passionate political views, but more so to challenge myself to find tongue-in-cheek ways of responding that I clearly am not the person the tweet is intended for.

I would reply to the individuals who started the threads, and enlighten them that they were tweeting the wrong person on the wrong continent/time zone/interest level etc.

Then Brooke Shields did that Funny or Die with “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” I added that as a hashtag to most of my replies when I was mistweeted (poor mistweeted me!).

For example (handles changed to generic @soandso’s for them, and @me for me – words otherwise copied exactly as tweeted)

A Pakistani tweets:

@soandso @soandso @soandso He @soandso has also started rat race of inducting men loyal to him rather then party like @me

I tweet:

@soandso @soandso @ soandso @soandso it’s MY party and I can cry if I want to #wrongsoandso #checkyourself #beesrbuzzin

If the ‘@’ tweets turned scary or inappropriate, I carefully went through the threads and blocked the tweeters.  Sometimes this would take me days (500+ re-tweets).

After a few years, there was a tipping point where it seemed like most people recognized that I am clearly not a controversial Pakistani elder statesman.

One time, maybe three years ago, some men that I corrected in a mistweeted thread, even sent me notes back with some Insha’Allah’s, and a prayer.

On a few occasions I have included women’s advocacy links in my responses – where it seemed appropriate.

 

My family are all terrified that I am now on some government watch list.  Whatevs.  Maybe they can figure out who I am and report back.

 

A very few times on twitter, I have also been mistaken for a Canadian museum society.  Unfortunately, I do not speak or read French, so my potentially amusing responses really failed here.

 

The point is, I do not know what the hell I am doing.

I am not even clear on who I am.

 

Obviously, though, I am not a Pakistani elder statesman or a Canadian museum society.  So there’s that then.

THIS is what PTSD does.  This is what abuse does.

 Take good care of yourself and your neighbors.

Love, Ms. Herisme xo

I (don’t) Have Mail

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My mailbox was broken

 

I am not sure what happened.  But, it looked like someone had to have parked and left their car in order to pull the entire top off of the mailbox, and throw it to the ground.

 

Kids being kids – right?  Driving on a rural road and smashing mailboxes.

 

Except, mine was the only mailbox destroyed on my street.

 

So, maybe a wacky neighbor or still some kids who were worried about getting caught, so they left before they could do any more damage.

 

Maybe

 

Or, maybe it’s a sign from Mr exH that he is getting bolder and preparing to come back and murder us, as he said he would.

 

Or, maybe, it’s my friend’s estranged and mentally unstable husband, who I saw yesterday evening in a parking lot and refused to respond to with conversation, because he too is scary as hell right now.

 

This is my life.

 

Where I want to brush off the mailbox as the windy storm last night, kids, or wacky neighbors with bad behavior etc.  I cannot afford the luxury of ending my conversation about the mailbox there.

 

I want to.  I really truly very much wish that I could.

 

But, for now, I will sit in my house, listening alertly to every creak, with my alarm system on, doors and windows locked, driveway alert on (I have a long driveway, and the alert gives me time to peek out the window and call 911 if needed), and talk myself through all of the triggers the sad broken mailbox has effortlessly resurfaced.

 

The patrol officer thinks it might have been the storm.  But, even he was unsure how a storm could lift just the top of only MY mailbox off.

 

This is my life.

 

I’d rather be in Italy eating watermelon and picking out potential originating countries of tourists as they pass by. You?

Score, again, for disassociation!

Love, Ms Herisme xo

That’s what she said…

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http://metro.co.uk/video/embed/1255221/5466392

(these are not my words – Another Flaming Elephant, from last week’s news)

“Someone call me when the social media outrage of the week (read: rape this week) is over. I cannot handle this weekly outrage, keyboard warriors, meme posting nonsense.

Our system, in particular when it comes to rape, is very very difficult to manage. A woman goes to a police station with enough courage to finally report a rape and the first words she hears is “do you think he will be able to obtain an attorney?” regardless of the amount of evidence, then told it is likely she will go on trial more than the perpetrator, if it even gets that far. Does she want to pursue this? Is she sure? No. She’s not sure. She wasn’t sure when walked in, broken, scared, and vulnerable.

So let’s pretend now that it makes it past the initial cop’s report, to a detective (who takes another report), and then to a DA.

Does the DA see a lot of work involved to get a conviction?

Is it an election year? This isn’t Law & Order SVU, friends. This is someone who has a job. It’s their job to keep the numbers up.

Does this fit into their box?

How much time is it going to take?

Are they *really* a public threat,

or only a threat to the one person, the victim, and therefore not worth the time?

Now they’ve pressed charges. Ok. Now comes the negotiations. The families are pressured into plea agreements. The prosecutors often explain to the families that it’s better this way for all involved. It’s easier this way. A slap on the wrist is better than nothing, right? Besides, a trial is long and emotional.

Do you really want to have to keep reliving your nightmare over and over for months, maybe up to years? Better this way.

And then, if it even GETS to trial, the sentences are reduced. The poor guy has already sat in jail for quite some time. I think he’s learned his lesson. The little lady didn’t cry enough, or was in some way promiscuous, asking for it…

or even better, by the time of the trial the dude has now gone through treatment for his drugs/alcohol/anger issues/etc and won’t do it again. Promise.

No need to tarnish his reputation and ruin his life for one little mistake.

Guys, if you think this case is unique, you are kidding yourself. Each one of you knows someone who has been the person slapped on the wrist, or you know the victim who didn’t find justice in the justice system. Don’t be naive.

Wake me up when you’re ready to do something about it. Or go post another meme. I hear they do wonders.”

From an anonymous Friend of Ms Herisme xo

ps.  What can you do today?  Go here – go everywhere and keep yourself informed.

 

Excuses/Abuses – Tale of a Gut Hater

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(My heart is, our hearts are, in deep pain for our world today.  Please pay attention to, and take good care of, each other. Please and Thank You)

Before my Situation (so, ‘BS,’ for short), I never understood why why why anyone would put up with being abused by another person.

Why would you be with someone who hurts you? 

What kind of person puts up with that?  Prostitutes?  Drug addicts? Uneducated people?  People bound by misogynistic cultural norms? 

Who were these adult people choosing to live these lives? 

I could not comprehend abusive relationships at all.

 

Now, After my Sorry Situation (so, ‘ASS,’ for short), I cannot understand how to develop a relationship that isn’t abusive. I just do not trust myself anymore.

I know so many people, people in my BS and ASS communities, who are in or have been in, abusive relationships (and also, healthy functioning relationships, but they are foiling my post and will be disregarded for this post).  It is hard for me to imagine how to be in any relationship.

I do not know how you functioning couples do it.  I am not saying that in a trite way.  I truly do not know how you do it.  I admire you, as one might admire a first class trip around the world, or a George Clooney Italian Villa – it’s so lovely to imagine, but so out of my reach or reality, that it appears like a magical fantasy.

How did I go from BS to ASS?

Honestly, while I knew that something was not right with my marriage, I had no idea that I was being abused.  I did not know that my husband was abusive.

 

The Police explained it to me.

The Sheriff’s department explained it to me.

Detectives explained it to me.

Domestic Violence Shelter Counselors explained it to me.

Multiple Private Therapists explained it to me.

My Physician explained it to me.

 

My Family and Friends explained it to me.

Church Officials explained it to me.

My Attorney explained it to me (and referred me back to my Therapist, many, many times)

 

I still did not know that I was in an abusive marriage.

 

I thought that I was the problem.  If only I could do this, he would be happy and not threaten our son.  If only I would do that, he would show us respect and kindness.  If only I could do this, he would stop hurting me.

There are days now, still, where I am consumed by guilt and remorse, that I was unable to do more, to help him better, to find the right Dr for him, to provide the right life for him to sooth his worries so that he would like us.

 

On these days, I have to force myself to read some of my notes for/from my attorney, in order to remember the facts of what has transpired, rather than my own feelings.

 

This is a painful, but necessary, process. 

 

Mostly, because in my case, if I lapse and allow my feelings to guide my actions, I would be placing both my son and myself, into lethal danger.  As I type this, I know that sounds like a crazy person.  After all that has happened, WHAT kind of person would subject themselves to that kind of peril?

 

Unfortunately, it is me.

 

And many other well-educated, loved, supported, life-engaged women (and men).

 

We are not stupid.  We are fiercely compassionate.  We are intelligent.  We have a hard work ethic.  We are devoted, dedicated, and honorable.

 

So much so, that our determination to be all of those things, blinds us to our own reality.

 

If something is not working, we set our minds, hearts, and souls to problem solve and correct whatever issue is set before us.

 

We believe we can help and resolve, through love, hard work, and devotion, any obstacle which is presented to us.  Our compassion for our abuser knows very few, if any, limits or boundaries.  We see someone worthy in there and we work our hardest to comfort and support and lift that worthiness out.

 

What we do not know, is that we are worthy enough of recognizing our abuser for who they are.

We are worthy enough to expect the same fierce compassion we exhibit, from our partner.

We are worthy enough to decide when to walk away from a situation that is not healthy or working for us.

We are worthy enough to deserve to feel safe in our home, in our bedroom, in our garage.

We are worthy enough to be treated the way we would want our sons and daughters to be treated in their adult relationships.

We are worthy.

 

It took my entire community over a year to convince me that Mr exH was abusive.  I was afraid of him.  I was confused by him.  I was incredibly painfully sad for him.

 

I was shocked when it was suggested that he was an abusive person.

 

I fought for him to get help, to get support, to get medical care, to have his pillow, to have his special toiletries, comfort items and clothing…

 

He continued to abuse me, and I still fought for him, like some caricature of the definition of an abused spouse.

 

What saved me from all of my excuses for his abuses? 

 

At one point, I was so deep into trying to do “the right thing” for my husband, my attorney called me in to her office (btw, this is never good news) and asked me if I trusted her to represent me in court.

I was having a difficult time understanding exactly what the process was that we were involved in, and what I was supposed to be doing.  My attorney spelled out for me that she was there to advise me, to guide me, and to advocate for me in court.

Even if I could not understand what she was doing, she needed to know if I trusted her as a professional.  I responded that I absolutely trusted her.

It was at that moment I realized

my thinking was based on false assumptions. 

While I was still unable to pinpoint exactly what my false assumptions were, I understood clearly at that moment that my thinking process and beliefs must be flawed.

My attorney has 20+ years of experience and a stellar reputation.

Family and friends had interacted with her multiple times by this point, and all were impressed by her.

Something clicked in me and allowed me to see that even if I did not agree with my attorney, even if I could not see what she was seeing, if I trusted her, I had to believe that she could interpret the situation correctly and knew what to do.

I was in crisis, after years of spiraling toward crisis.  I had no experience.  I reasoned with myself all of the way to, “how could I know what I don’t know?”

I had to trust that my attorney knew.

 

At the same time, my therapist was also gently introducing me to the idea that I was abused.  I did not believe her, but, again, I trusted her to know what she was seeing and hearing.

 

It is hard to follow your gut and not your heart,

when your mind is screaming at you.

 

Mind says, “You are an idiot/slacker/lazy/incompetent/evil/selfish/awful person for setting this situation up”

 

Heart says, “He is in so much pain and distress.  How can I take care of helping him, so that we can all be well?”

 

Gut says, “Listen to respected resources. Get a Safety Plan. Tell trusted people.  Trust your trusted people”

 

My gut saved us.

 

My gut that hates me, because I have treated it so poorly, saved us.

 

For everyone going through similar situations, I want to encourage you to listen to your gut – not the core of your heart, mind, and soul – your gut.

 

Because you are worthy of not accepting or making excuses

 

Because you are worthy of not accepting abuses

 

Your heart, mind, and soul will be revived, comforted, and nourished to where they need to be, through counseling and other support networks.

 

Right now, you need your gut

 

I am praying for you on your journey too.

 

Love, Ms. Herisme xo

How to Make a Safety Plan

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First rule of Safety Planning:

If you believe that you (or a loved one) are in immediate danger –

forget the safety plan

CALL 911

go to a room with a quick escape

or, make yourself into a very small ball and cover your head with your arms

 If you are not in immediate danger, or if the danger has momentarily passed (and you are alive and able to physically function), take advantage of the “down time” or potential “honeymoon phase” in the cycle of abuse, and make your safety plan.

 Even if you do not feel like it or you are scared.

 MAKE YOUR SAFETY PLAN

If you are witness to a loved one in an abusive situation, help them with their safety plan.  Being abused is very stressful and confusing, which makes it hard to concentrate on more than basic survival skills.  Be patient with us.  Be gentle with us.  Do not allow us to forget that you care.

 Help us MAKE OUR SAFETY PLAN

 Stash Some Cash

No matter how short or long-term the plan is for extricating from an abusive situation, you are going to want some cash for gasoline, food, and possibly a hotel room.  The important part of this step is to make sure that you have some cash (not credit card, not in a bank account, not checks – actual physical cash).

Hide the cash away for yourself in a location or with a very trusted person, known only to you.  If you need ideas on where to hide cash, message me and I will help you.

 

Copy Everything

Get copies of all important documents

                        All Driver’s Licenses of any driver in the home

                        All Passports of anyone in the home

                        All Social Security Cards of anyone in the home

                        All Birth Certificates of anyone in the home

                        Passwords for computers/Wi-Fi/Phones/accounts etc

                        All joint and individual Credit Cards (front and back)

                        Recent Bank statements

                        Recent Tax Returns

                        Recent Mortgage statement

                        Recent Investment Accounts (including retirement accounts)

                        Recent Credit Card Statements

                        Recent Utility bills

                        Doctor/Dentist/Pediatrician/Therapist/School/Attorney  information

                        Medications of anyone in the home (take photos of the labels)

                        List of medical conditions of anyone in the home

                        List of Emergency Contacts (extended family, trusted friends, etc)

                        Pet information

            You can earnestly begin making a “Home Management Binder” to begin collecting this information into one location.  It’s useful to have it together in case of any emergency (not just a safety plan for an abusive situation).  If you cannot gather all of this information, start at the top of the list and work your way down through what is easily available and important to you.

 

Pack a Bag

Be very careful.  If an abuser gets a “heads up” that you might be preparing to leave, this may escalate the abuse into a very dangerous situation.  When the abuser is not around, find a small bag and pack some essentials, just in case you need to make a quick get-away.

            Clothes and toiletries for a few days for each person fleeing (you and possibly children) plus important document copies from above

            A comfort thing for each child (small stuffed toy, little blanket)

 

Know Where to Go

Map out where you might go (Domestic Violence shelter, trusted friend, trusted family member, etc)

Prepare an emergency email (if your account is absolutely secure) to send to trusted family and friends, which includes why you left the home and how they may contact you.

Write down your Safety Plan and give a copy to your trusted friend/pastor/family member/therapist.

Do NOT immediately disclose your location when you leave.  Even trusted family and friends will have a difficult time through this situation, and may inadvertently compromise your safety by trying to “help,” you.  Especially if they are not witness to the abuse (frequently they are not), or do not understand the cycle of abuse.  They may encounter the abuser in their contrite, charming, reformed phase of abuse and believe them to be safe.

The abuser is NOT a safe person. 

The abuser will NEVER be a safe person for you. 

NEVER EVER

Think of it this way.  If you had any control over the abuser and their actions, then they would not be abusing you – right?  No one would choose to be abused (I’m not talking about consensual role playing).  An abuser will always be abusive to you, it’s just a matter of degree.  That is your relationship with them – abuser and victim.  If you are looking for a different kind of relationship, you need to find a different person to have it with.  Likewise, if you want your abuser to stop abusing you, you have to leave and allow them to find a different relationship where they might have the potential to not be abusive.

With you, they are ALWAYS going to be the abuser. 

ALWAYS.

 

Don’t worry if you cannot accept this last bit.  I have many days where I still have to remind myself of that hard truth. That is another whole post though, dear reader.

 

So I’ll leave you with this:

Safety Plan

            Call 911 if in immediate danger

            Stash some Cash

            Copy Everything

            Pack a Bag

            Know Where to Go

 

Take good care of you.  The whole world is counting on it!

 

Love, Ms. Herisme xo

 

I am not a credentialed expert.  I am speaking about this through my own, and others I know, personal experiences.  Please call the National Domestic Violence hotline, or your local Domestic Violence Shelter for more information.  For other Safety Plan information, click here.

Ally McBeal

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Did you watch Ally McBeal, back in the day?  Revealing my age, or generation, I suppose, that I was old enough to watch it and understand most of it, at a time when some of you were toddlers – or, * gasp * , not yet born!

Pardon me while I spiral into misspent youth and peering into the grave thoughts…

Anywho, if you watched Ally McBeal, you know, like a retro thing on Nextflix, such as myself (let me live this right now), do you remember the episode where Ally visits an old professor whom she really admired?

Ally’s professor was dying of cancer in a hospital.  The professor wanted to be maintained in a drugged state of sleep throughout her end-stage cancer, until she died.

Of course, Ally could not understand why her awesome vibrant professor would just “give up” on life.  The professor explains to Ally that her entire real life was full of regret, lost opportunities, dreams unfulfilled etc.  But, when she was asleep, she had dreamed up this entire fantasy life where she was married, had children and grandchildren, and was leading a life full of balances of good times and hard times, surrounded by love and support.

The professor wanted to be allowed to die without the deep pain of regrets, with knowing she was surrounded by love, inside of her fantasy life.

That episode of Ally McBeal has haunted me for my entire adulthood. 

I remember immediately feeling that I was going to end up like that professor. 

 I still suspect that is where I am headed.

I don’t want to be the professor.  I just don’t know how to not be the professor.  I cannot imagine how to be where or what I want to be or do.

I keep hoping that I’m going to swim out of it and leave the professor behind.  It does seem that my choices in life continue to push me more towards being the professor, though.

 

This is what trauma does.

 Trauma tricks you into replaying every previous trauma, and combing all of those emotions into the current trauma.  It also tricks you into believing that every challenge is a potential trauma, sign of a trauma to come, or deserved for some reason.

Trauma’s trickiness is so good, that you long to be the professor, just for a moment, to experience that sense of extreme comfort and rightness with your world.

Knowing this leads me to completely see why people turn to certain, potentially destructive, coping behaviors, during trauma.

My coping behaviors tend to be hard-core disassociation and extreme stress suppression (which equal physical health issues, in my case).

I’m so good at those skills that I have completely ruined my gut, affected my memory, carry unhealthy weight, and attempted to be married and parent with an un-empathetic, abusive, mentally ill person.  I’m not attempting to be derogatory towards Mr exH, he is who he is.  He has always been who he is.  I completely own that I made up the bulk of who he was to me.

I suppose, in some respects, I have already been the professor.

That didn’t work for me.

It is hard to figure out how to move through trauma, other than wanting to be the professor, when it feels like you are a failure if you are not living as the professor’s fantasy life.

It is hard to know that trauma happens to real people,

and one of those people is you.

You can’t hard work trauma away, you can’t dream it away, you can’t medicate it away, you can’t wish it away.

The best I can hope for, I believe,

is that my trauma ends up being a piece of me,

instead of a definition. 

Maybe that can be the difference between me and the professor.

Maybe (?)

Love, Ms. Herisme

5 Things to do…

Do you suspect that your friend is in an abusive relationship?

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From my perspective and experience, these are five things you can do for your friend:

  1. Let her/him know that you are there for them and how much you care about them.
  2. Send them a note/text/msg periodically to remind them that you care for them.
  3. Tell your friend that you are worried about them, and why.  “Herisme, I am worried about you because I hear the way Mr H is unusually uncomfortably angry about the way Son plays with his toys.  Son appears to be playing fine to me.  Is everything okay?”
  4. Ask your friend if she/he is being abused.  “Herisme, are you okay?  Are you being abused/hurt by Mr H?” BE PATIENT with their responses and do not take anything personally.  You can always apologize for misreading the situation, if necessary.
  5. Gather community resource information so that you are prepared to guide your friend when they are ready.

domestic violence shelter information

how to make a safety plan

inform another trusted friend, pastor, priest, rabbi – you need support too

As tempting as it seems to be, and as well as you think that you know the suspected abuser, do NOT ever confront the abuser without professional advice, support or guidance.

I would not be alive today if people in my tribe had not done these things for me. 

They did these things a lot. 

They did these things, even though I know that it broke their hearts to do it. 

They did these things even when I did not believe any of it. 

They did these things and I am forever grateful to all of them.

These opinions are my own, based on my own experience.  I am not a credentialed expert.  Please call an expert in your area if you suspect abuse is happening.

Love, Ms. Herisme

(picture from StoryPeople)