I'm done with 'trying'

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I'm done with 'trying'

Post by earthhorse » Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:21 am

Hi everyone,

This is just another piece of processing I am going though. Taking back my identity and truth, from abuse…

[mods please let me know if this is the right forum, happy to change if you think so...]

I must admit the idea of 'trying' is quite triggering for me, the word is very triggering. I don't want to try, I am. And I want to feel enough, not prove anything.

Despite everything I've lived through I managed to do a lot, but at great cost, because it wasn’t ‘doing’/ being, it was “trying”. When do I get to just be me? I don’t feel like I want to prove anything anymore. I don’t want to be better for you or for even me. I just think there’s a moment when that kind of thinking has to stop. It’s not the point.

I didn't get much chances, even though I was always told I had it all by my mother. I have had to take up space constantly where I do not fit and am not welcome. These two ideas of what has been asserted as what I am and have, and what in fact is real - has led me to stretch myself thin, so there is nothing left of myself or for myself.

What follows is a bit of rambling reflection mixed with memory, about being an outcast and being outcast because of developing "mental health issues", for being a 'girl' or being alive, or being bi whatever... I wasn't welcome and I did not fit…

That was always the irony for me, to be in a world or even live in the house that I did, but to always be experiencing deprivation. It was not because my parents couldn’t have taken care of me, but because they refused to because I was a ‘girl', because I was 'me; or so the story goes according to my parents… it was part of how I was groomed. My mother hated girls; my father hated girls. And my sister and I especially. My mom me especially because I was conceived out of wedlock and she sees me as the source of her entrapment.

I would watch my brothers get clothes, toys, be helped with learning, or bought books. My playground was my fantasy world, an old cupboard to hide in, the forest, my toys my inventions, I would make gifts out of recycled objects, lucky bags full of special treasures, like Anne Frank.... but I didn’t get stuff, and I didn’t get care. I often didn’t have underwear… my mother would send me to school in a short skirt without underwear… I was a kid who looked like they were from a well-off family, ( my fathers drinking and gambling constantly threatening to shatter the illusion)., because of our house, and the family land, but besides having a roof over my head, and sometimes cousins to play with and my sister and brothers (which admittedly is very rich), I think it pretty much stopped there. What I had was always for show, it did not belong to me. My mom was really clear about that…

When I went back to my old country for instance when I was 22…

I had just pulled off a major exhibition and installation for a festival which lasted a month, with good reviews, a massive installation and transformation of a building I lived in over the last six months, helped launch a big event with artists from all over the continent, opened an experimental art gallery was still in school, and had co-created a play from scratch which premiered at the same time everything else did-

On top of that, directly after and during these events. one of the people I had been living with , a guy called K. had turned really nasty, he harassed me very badly, because I had started after being celibate for a while to have lovers. Even though he had a girlfriend and I was not involved with him intimately, he felt I too should be his, and forbade me relations with other people. Again, I was forced to flee my home.

When I was distressed about the harassment again my father said to me, I deserved it because I was a b***h, and he treated me and spoke to me with utter contempt, then took one of my best friends paintings, which had been a gift to me, and smashed it. I could never get angry at my dad, I could never see that she was not ‘good’, I couldn’t feel this until after I started recovering and processing child sexual abuse. .. his savage violent sexual abuse of me…

So I was very tired and I got sick again the way I do, frozen, loss of concentration, motor functions, not able to sleep at night, not able t o structure my life....

My family in the old country they are millionaires now, rich from family land and influence. I was meant to stay with my aunt for recovery – I had turned to my parents for temporary shelter, ( hard not to cringe at this! How could I be so foolish?) and this was my fathers idea… I was told by father that she ran a kind of wellness spa, I would be hostess and be able relax and do yoga. He had set me up. How could I ever have believed him? He had asked her to 'reform' me, to turn me into a good catholic girl and force me to lose weight. I was okay, I had put on some weight with the depression and sleeplessness, But I was fine… her first words to me, you're fat, we’ll get that weight off you.

She turned me into cinderella, I did all the cleaning work for her large B&B, I wasn't allowed in her side of the house... so I stayed in a small dark room, next to the kitechen and the cleaning closet. She had me working for starvation wages half mimimum wage, she starved me too, I had no autonomy, no transporatation, no way to access or navigate the area aroudn me. I would go for walks, which she only allowed as a kind of physical exercise. She would verbally and emotionally abuse me constantly. Eventually, I just had to leave, get out, having much less than what I brought with me, my labor adding up to nothing, which was mean tto help me travel, barely covering any of my costs. I didn’t have a thing or a penny to my name.

I remember really starving for three weeks there, not having any food or money, been really sick and frozen. Needing to squat a filthy farm house right next to where the rest of my family lived-in their big houses with beautiful views- to have somewhere to live, that my aunt arranged for me. I would have loved it under other circumstances, lovingly restored it, taken care. But I was very tired, and the intention of placing me there was to degrade me. It was the worst and most desperate poverty I have ever experienced in my life and it was among the millionaires of my family.

They lived across the road, in houses on the same street... I had to escape there to begin to have anything of my own, because of who or what I was, I was abandoned... the irony there was that I had left a very loving community of friends in the art scene -and gone to one of the most emotionally sterile and hostile places I have ever experienced and it was my ancestral family home, and my extended family...

Becoming an architect it was also about being enough for them too. Proving I was not trash ya know? Not trash like they treated me. When I left my aunts hostile space, she put my clothes in a black trash bag, and dumped them on my doorstep without even calling or knocking. And this was the place I was meant to go to recover???? Because artists were trash in their eyes, people with mental health issues were trash too, me being sick was contemptible, people who had tried to kill themselves were sinners? Or because I deserved to be hated, because soemthign in me was just so awful? nah I don't think so. They were bigots and there was a lot invested in keeping me under their control.

My grandfather had a book of grandchildren, my aunt she had kept it after he died. On the one occasion she invited me to join her in her part of the house, she opened this book and with a very smug smile on her face, she pointed to where presumably my name should be, and said "your granddad disowned you and blotted out your name." I didn't know why, she didn't say, I was scared to ask why. I didn't know if it had been because I tried to kill myself or because my father had found out I liked girls too and had told my grandfather. Because being bi that was a sin too. And to discuss either with this hateful and poisonous aunt was not an option.

I was not a "bad" girl. I was always super responsible, always working hard... I didn't act "out" - I found subculture because I didn't fit anywhere else, but I didn't go 'wild'. I didn't do this rebellious buckling, because no one cared what happened to me. I never used hard drugs - even though I experimented a bit with psychedelics. I just got sick ya know - I just got that kind of sick combination of dissociation and depression. So, there was no ‘real’ reason to disown me…

It was just that this is how it worked with me and my father. He hated me. My father for the umpteenth time once again disowned me before a trip back to the old country when my Grandfather was still alive. I was in a phase where I was exploring my sexual identity and in the first serious relationship with a woman. I took her to my parents’ house... (oh gosh when I think of it now I could I go to such a horrible place?) ... outside on the patio we unconsciously pecked each other on the lips. My father saw, and he disowned me, kicked us both out of the house the night before he left... It was so embarrassing my friend; she was an upstanding and accomplished woman and my father he treated us like gutter trash...

Growing up, especially as I got older, I didn't even have clothes, I didn't have any form of safety. I had to take care of myself from very young, I didn’t have anyone helping me with school or to make sure I even got to school. No one cared - I went to a massive faceless, public primary school, with 40 or more children in the classrooms. The school I went to when we immigrated was similar a meat processor for children, not a school where children learn and thrive. My sister she didn't even make it past the first year of high school, my parents they did nothing to help her get an education, my father he hated the idea of educated girls...

but my brothers, they bent over backwards for them. My mother, when my brother became a serious meth. addict, even did his homework and course work for him to get him through school... they allowed him to deal, grow weed, run prostitution form his room in their house! It was only after his girl friend developed a brain tumor form the level of the addiction they had. That they temporarily asked him to leave to straighten up. He did. But then promptly my parents took him in again. He used to beat my mother, brother and sister. While I lived there he beat me...

Anyhow, massive digression but I think it sets the scene a bit. My mother once said this thing to me- you know, my father he just hated on me, and it was always like if I could just be better that he would stop hating me and stop holding me in contempt - well she said, "Oh EH you know your father knows you try!" And for some reason this has just really stayed with me through time. The feeling of deflation and humiliation. Of never being able to live up to anything.

I hate trying. And I refuse to try for anyone. I want to live. And I want be valued and seen and loved and recognized now, not for some future achievement or better self or who I could be.

Developing profound disability is hard. I have masked things, dressed it up as phases, perhaps it is simply this or that… What do you call your cognitive and motor functions shutting down and losing the power to executive function? I have wondered if it is autism. As this develops differently in different genders... But it is not something I have done to myself, not because I was bad or made bad choices, and it's not something I am. I have kept "trying" to get "better". But I don't know. There is no secret real me, that is 'healthy' under it all. “And behind the next door here who/how you 'should' really be!” If you just stopped bringing yourself down -

Oh yeah, another thing my father said, when I asked him to stop putting me down, because he was destroying my confidence. He just said to me, this was just before I left to my aunts, when I was super tired and sick again... "You hurt your own confidence because you don't do what you know you should do." I was so unsafe because I could never even get angry at my dad. I couldn't because, I had dissociated his abuse. And he could only be 'good' daddy.

I did nothing to bring me down. If I internalized the onslaught of hate I experienced, that is not even on me. I couldn’t protect myself from r*pe or sexual harassment, until I was able to recall the childhood sexual abuse. My only way to protect myself was to self-isolate and that was so painful for my extroverted self. And that is not on me either. And it is not about will. I have tons of it.

My will is simply not enough when I get so unwell like this. It's not even about habits, or healthy living or whatever. Because believe me I have done and tried and do every self-help trick in the book. No what I lived through maimed me - how I was taught to see myself maimed me. And now I am challenged with facing the world not being normative. Not being able to be. I have never even been able to 'pass'. I think my strangeness as a child was written off because I was a child...

I choose one of the most normative profession you can imagine - why? I tell myself it's because I wanted soemthign to live for while I recovered and dealt with cPTSD. A big part is about trying though to be seen as a 'valid' person. There is very little diversity in archictecture. and engineering, by definition very narrow standards/roles - tons of peopel who study it never get a chance to practise, drop out rates are high all the way through. It pushes peopel out who aren't very priveleged. I know it's important that diversity is nurtured there, that outsiders make space. But I don't even know how to begin to truly navigate as I am. I started a movement at my university to try and find that space. It cost me a lot. I did a lot of ground work that people much more fortunate than I am were able to benefit from. It feels like the game is rigged. Because I am still trapped in ‘trying’.

I am very good at fronting, because there was never any permission to be vulnerable or way to ask for help. People often without even knowing me or having a conversation they develop strong opinions about me. They project a lot. However, this front has also made it possible for me to gain a lot of support and advocacy, to have others invest in me... but it also means that people don't believe that I can be ... how to say this? Broken? That I live with disability... ( feeling uncomfortable with the term disabled…. Even though that’s what it is sorta, injury feels better...)

So yeah. I'm done with 'trying'. I deserve respect. I feel like saying by golly and I am going to demand it. But some other part of me just, sees and feels and knows I am valuable - even more so I would say as I suffer, as I get 'sick' again, it is so brave to dare to exist like that, it takes immense courage. I have a lot of respect now from people around me. I feel a need to tell a story, a more truthful story about how oppression works, about how not being normal is valuable. But I also just feel like my life is my own now. And I own it with reverence and gratitude.

"One kind word can warm three winter months"

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by coconuts » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:15 pm

Wow Earthhorse,

"Listening" to the frustration and anger and just "doneness". I am happy for you. For your recent realizations. Your freedom from continued oppression within yourself. This amazing transformation.

Your family were awful people. I would like to believe people like that don't exist but they do and we know it all too well. And they are masters at breaking people down. Sometimes I wonder if they saw the strength there and just felt the need to break it because they couldn't handle someone being better or stronger than them.

Your evaluation of the word trying sorta smacked me in the face. It was good for me though uncomfortable. It helped me see what I do to myself ALL the time. I always say " I'm trying" I think I say it every single t session. And I just realized and thought about what it means when I say this. What am I really saying. And I think you are very right. For me when I say I'm trying it's like apologizing for my inadequacy. Like " I'm so sorry I'm not being good enough for you no matter how much work I've put into it" and it is certainly laced with feelings of never being good enough for anyone else. For always falling short of everyone's projections of what I should be. It's like admitting to my own inadequacy and apologizing for my continued existence.

The truth is we will never be " good enough" for our families. I could be the most successful person ever and I would still see their sneers. And hear their petty insults.

Coming to a place where you are okay with being you. And that is good. Not just good enough. Being able to see your value and worth outside of what other people think. That is amazing.

You are strong and amazing. I have learned so much from you and from watching you. It gives me hope and courage. It's encouraging. And I'm very much going to evaluate where that phrase is coming from when I say it and probably take it back ( since I frequently say it out if habit).

Cheers to the marvelous you just the way you are in all your beauty and imperfection.

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by dancingfish » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:53 am

You have a beautiful way with words earthhorse, even when you're relating a tale I so wish you hadn't had to live through. You should never have been treated the way that you were, somehow dismissed as a lesser being - but you know you're far from that. :) You're bright and beautiful and have a kinder soul than they'll ever feel. Also what you wrote showed how far you've come, how brave you've been. :) I'm glad you're here with us, and thank you for sharing this part of you!

Your thoughts on "I'm trying" also caught my attention! You're right, and as coconuts said, it's a phrase easily adapted into thinking that what we are right now isn't whole and good enough. It can feed into that dialogue that takes away a lot from us, without perhaps barely realising. (If I'm not quite in sync with your original thoughts please excuse me, I read your post first on the weekend and have been kind of processing it on some level for a few days!)

I realised I also have another meaning for "I'm trying", though. For me it also describes the efforts I make to say "no" to what was expected of me, to those who would abuse and control me. What I'm trying for is to be able to go out and enjoy the things I want to do, and to take the time and learn the attunement to know what it is I want to do. When I'm trying, I'm trying to live and reach out and embrace all that is living and good. It's hard because it is not my habit, and it's always a simple trick to follow the well-trodden path and bury myself away. It's also taken a long time to reach this point, though - I think first you need to find a place that's like a rock, where you can sit and take a breath. Then another breath, and another and another. A safe place, that you learn really is a safe place. Where it's okay to be just who you are, and at whatever place you've reached in the journey that carries on.

Good for you for seeing what is good for you, and where you need to be with yourself. Sending you a whole bunch of warm sunny love and good wishes! May kind thoughts be with you as you do what you need to for you. :)

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by dancingfish » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:39 pm

Just a belated addendum: I realised my words about what "I'm trying" might mean for me could be seen as taking away from your realisation, and in fact your whole discussion, and perhaps this was not an appropriate place for such. Or at least, could have been worded better.

Thank you for sharing your insight, I do hear you and am listening. Indeed you are living your own life now, it feels like you are. :) With the greatest care and respect, and also thankfulness that you take the time to share your processing and experience with us. Much warmth and caring to you. <3

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An idea.

Post by EasyStreet » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:02 pm

Earthhorse, please forgive me if this is not helpful. It's kinda coming from left field, but from the heart.

If trying is dragging me down, I know I need to "be" more. Be in the present moment, be here now.

This is the whole "mindfulness" thing, which I imagine you are aware of and have some opinions on.

It just came into my mind. Yoda said "there is no try only do", but he forgot that I can always "be", expanding my awareness of the present moment.

During abuse, my awareness of the present moment was very real and intense and infinitely deep. Today, I experience many present moments that could be beautiful if my wounded psyche were able to process them properly.

So I try to "be here now" as much as I can, because I'm a survivor and and things are imeasureably better than they were when I was in grade school.

I'm no meditation hero, by any means, but it helps me. Just breathing and now. That's all it is. Soooo gooood.

Be well, this is from the heart, and I'm sorry if I'm violating any boundaries or revealing my ignorance about you.

With love for all of us,
Thanks for being.

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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:12 pm

Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by earthhorse » Sun May 05, 2019 12:00 pm

Oh coconuts.

I know you don't like touch but I really feel like hugging you. So just in a way that feels good and safe and respectful for you. I embrace you. Maybe it is just a feeling of someone smiling with you with all their heart.

I am so sorry it took me so long to get back here. I think I overwhelmed myself a bit the pain of and in those memories.

It' always does my head in. I mean having memories of torture and trafficking, and then memories like this of just been seen as human garbage for the person I am by people I had always been taught to admire, love and respect. My family... At the moment these memories are hurting me so much. I feel like crying all day. I was thoroughly rejected and humiliated. Why was I so bad at putting up the front that would have allowed me to be accepted and supported by my family? And then conversely why did I ever hope for this and have I betrayed myself so much that I don't even know what is good for me?

Even though nothing I did could make up for it/ make me acceptable. Or undo all the shame they held me in. I just always had this feeling like it's because I can't do the right things right. Like why did I get sick like that... I feel so angry at myself because I wasn't safe. How could I get sick?

Maybe it's more important now to ask, why was I not cared for? And to assert I deserved to be supported and cared for.

Yes I think it's so important to allow ourselves to matter. For who we are right now and our processes to be important to matter and to be enough right now. We don't need to try to be good enough, we are good enough.

I think the trying thing for me, its about there being a goal, or way of being, that are better, but not me yet. So it makes it hard to approve of myself, or feel myself. The crazy making feeling of doing your best, but knowing that is not enough and never will be - so the extra, extra mile is always built in, and it has been a self defeating cycle for me. To try and win love from someone who will always hate me... even as they say they love me. It feels like self abandonment. Giving others, well especially my father, a lot of power over me. Not ever being able to trust myself...

I tried (hahaha there's the word) writing back to you when you first posted to me and I lost my post. In the initial post I had a very strong feeling, that is was not so much my mothers destructive onslaught that is blocking me. But my fathers constant disapproval and hostility. The person I 'should be' but amn't. And it struck me I haven't been able to process this yet and it all feels so fresh and new... emotional healing is so slow!

It's really hard not having my T. around right now. My partner P. is working all the time. I share a bit with him and a little with friends. But if I am being honest - I am dying inside. I am isolating. I feel like an avalanche of pain.

"One kind word can warm three winter months"

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by earthhorse » Sun May 05, 2019 2:50 pm


I really want to apologize for not replying sooner. I was really feeling you and wanting to connect with you dancingfish and I am so grateful you are here. I was not able to come back to this thread straight away. because I am grieving. Because My face is a waterfall of tears and snot... sorry to be so graphic... I just don't know how to cope with all the feelings, it always takes me by surprise the depth of pain that suddenly emerges after years of numb familiarity.. so it's taken me a while to 'be' here again on this thread...

You are such a beautiful person and I love your perspectives you share, it's like being given room, space to breathe, or reminded of another way to think or see that feels genuinely welcome and comfortable. Thank you so much for your validation and recognition.

Thanks also for being so kind to me about being an outcast. And being so strong in who you are! Your strength in mattering in being here, it makes space for me too. I hope that is okay to say. It's just that with people like you to look to, it gives me hope that there is a path that will fit.

I think the hard core rejection I expereinced is why I feel so much with other people who are treated as subhuman, and why it is so important to me that we become sovereign, exert our rights, claim space... but on the other hand what is intimidating me so much right now is how hostile things are. How much my families humiliation and rejection is also something that is reinforced by many of the dynamics in the society I live in, and my chosen professions, and even the struggle to take part in those on my own terms.

Some of us we just aren't 'meant to live', and by way of our very being, or experiences, are already disqualified. The world is not 'for us' and just being alive or 'trying' is a radical act - we always have to prove ourselves, because are cast out of any recognition of innate 'goodness' and must earn that. The fight to survive is so overwhleming. The sheer struggle... The constant gaslighting... and the cost of compromise - only access here if you are prepared not to be you ( if one is lucky enough to 'pass' in the first place)... or not to talk about how much that hurts, and how much things are hurting you. To pretend it didn't happen to me, that it didn't happen... so that those who are most comfortable in the space can remain comfortable... and me being 'good' is making sure their needs are met, not mine, to appease them to protect myself. Because if I step out of line I am the troublemaker... if I step out of line I will no longer have access, or permission to create. And often worse and often, deliberate hurt and punishment.

“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”

― Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems

I think for instance how much it cost me to be away from the creative/fringe/queer community when I entered architecture, ( a community I accidentally fell into because there was no other place for me to be from very young). It's not that queer people weren't there, it's just that there was no place for being queer - (not saying queer people and spaces were safe either and my queer relationships, before recovery of CSA and trafficking, were often also predatory...). It's just the starvation that comes from trying to fit into to a hostile environment. A place of silence , oppression, repression, suppression. The cost of not being able to be myself of not having any mirrors. Of not having permission.
I realised I also have another meaning for "I'm trying", though. For me it also describes the efforts I make to say "no" to what was expected of me, to those who would abuse and control me.
What I'm trying for is to be able to go out and enjoy the things I want to do, and to take the time and learn the attunement to know what it is I want to do. When I'm trying, I'm trying to live and reach out and embrace all that is living and good. It's hard because it is not my habit, and it's always a simple trick to follow the well-trodden path and bury myself away. It's also taken a long time to reach this point, though - I think first you need to find a place that's like a rock, where you can sit and take a breath. Then another breath, and another and another. A safe place, that you learn really is a safe place. Where it's okay to be just who you are, and at whatever place you've reached in the journey that carries on.
I think this is a totally wonderful place to be at dancingfish, it's one that does not center who you need to be to fit in, but honoring what you want and need from life. Struggle not for acceptance and recognition of others but for that for yourself , and not just that affirmation of your needs and desires. It's more than just not giving up. It's living. I love this kind of trying.

I am in a weird space. I really badly burnt out. I had all the worst physical symptoms. So I really could not concentrate anymore, panic attacks, I have gotten by on will alone for a long time, then I lost the ability to executive function and could not leave the house. This is sort of familiar for me, it's a pattern over and over since I was in my early teens, and is accompanied by major depression. The capacity to fill my cup, wearing down... not that cup was not full, but full of things without nutrient, and no way to remove the blockage to put the right stuff in. This last spell has gone on for two years, and symptoms started becoming irreversible as early as 2013! so it's a long time of feeling like I am breaking down/ burning out, certainly the longest in my life. maybe my whole life has been breaking down to get here. I have cPTSD flaring up in my early twenties- whether high functioning or no functioning...

Painfully slowly, over the last two years, those more acute burnout symptoms have begun to improve. Being so unwell, it reminds me of being unwell in childhood/teenagehood/early adulthood and how unsafe that was.

I am still highly sensitive, and I wonder if this is the burn out, or just me being able to feel how it is for me all the time for once, and not ignoring my lived reality in order to keep performing - sounds, other people, being in the world it overwhelms me... and I get hyper-arousal symptoms - highly irritated, angry, self destructive, utterly exhausted,- if something takes too long, if I am social for too long, if I try to be outside on a sensitive day...it seems like I just need to turn down the whole world and slow everything down - not have any expectations for my days, except seeing how it goes step by step. I still can't structure my days easily, I am chronically avoidant, I am suffering from a lot of anxiety and I am hiding myself away.

Every effort to make space to be more self expressive or allow myself to do the things I want to do, I have not being able to live up to. I mean I love painting, creative writing, design, organizing, dance, yoga, meditation. But I am so tired, and so anxious, so impulsive I can't even show up for that... and I easily tire, I find myself sabotaging my appointments to show up for myself. All I manage to show up for right now with any regularity is therapy... and well I cook a nice meal for my partner in the evenings...

The spaces where I can have a studio for instance, they are very competitive spaces and very triggering because I can not be 'sick' there. In fact I was rejected recently from my last studio collective on the pretext I am now burnt out... and not able to live up to others expectations of productivity... (it's also a complicated story, because it wasn't so much that just being a scapegoat for changes that happened... ) But very reminiscent of childhood.

And then this reminds me that every space, I have been in as an artist or an architect I have experienced abuse and that it has been a hostile environment. In arts spaces especially sexism, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, in working as an architect especially sexism, sexual abuse and sexual harassment... but not just that not being okay to be poor, or to have distress or injury as a result of trauma... and well being used by people, in the same way I was used in my family, being everyone's carer but also the person who is seen as subhuman, innately flawed and unworthy of regard or support... and while I can draw some solace form the idea that I am not the only one experiencing that, and other people have been struggling too, it is overwhelming how prevalent and obstinate this rape culture/ neoliberal logic is...

So I am in a place of genuinely not being able to. And needing to struggle for what I need, but not being able to meet those needs and not having energy for the struggle. I just see the hostility of my childhood, teenage hood and early adulthood as everywhere in everything... and though I have not given up, I am crushed.

So I need to come to that safe place you are talking about. And that is one right now, where I need to give my permission not to try. It doesn't mean giving up... at least I hope not, I really do not want to live in fear, or more accurately I do not want to let fear inform all of my behavior, as it seems to be doing now - and if I am honest is why I came to halt, this needed to change, I needed to understand and feel how scared I am. I just need to be curious and accept myself, acknowledge how I feel. How much I am hurting, how fearful I am. And be okay with things not being or not going or not doing or not achieving... because the harder I try the more stuck I feel, the harder has been to recover, to show up for myself, to believe in what I want and who I am. And over come the fear...

"One kind word can warm three winter months"

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by coconuts » Sun May 05, 2019 3:10 pm

Oh Earthhorse,.

I understand that pain. I've felt that. It's so hard to realize and understand how unloved you were and to process it correctly.

Perhaps they loved us in their own sick twisted ways, I'm not sure. But I think they didn't know how to love regardless.

And unfortunately we once again put ourselves in that position of blame and shame. As if it is our fault we were unloved. The truth is It's not and never was on us. As children we should have been loves and adored and cared for not because we were cherubs of wonderfulness but because we were their children. Their flesh and blood.

Yet I feel the rejection so physically. An ache in my chest, tears pressing against the backs of my eyes. The confusion. In my mind. What is it about me? How could I draw such anger and contempt and lack of care from people even from infancy. My mother walked away. She didn't leave for a few hours on even for just a day. She left for days. There is no way you don't understand the ramifications of leaving an infant alone for days. My survival is a miracle. But then I wonder what for? So I could continue to be tortured for the rest if my childhood? Of one theme that runs through every sort of abuse I endured from the neglect, to beatings, to forced labor, and trafficking, I was never enough. But that is their goal. They need us to believe that. Because if we ever realized how strong we were we would ruin them, we could escape, we could tell!

The difference is ive seen the other side . I am a mother to 8 wonderful, beautiful little souls. I don't deserve them. But I love and adore them. From the first moment I held their tiny fingers clutched around mine. From wanting those first smiles so badly, and watching them take their first teetering steps. To sending them to school for the first time, watching them perform in school Christmas pageants, helping them with homework, being there for the first break-up, watching them play soccer, and basketball and track. Taking such pride in every one of their accomplishments. Being so proud if them. Or so hurt for them when the world isn't fair. Has it been perfect. No. Ive deal with surgeries, ambulance calls, colicky babies, the pains of carrying twins, of childbirth, of almost dieing in childbirth, of frustration when they don't get the grades, or they stay out past curfew, or refuse to do their chores. But NOTHING I could do could ever cause me to treat them with such contempt and hatred as I received. They were loveable from the moment of conception. In fact most of my children are surprises. Results of failed birth control. And upon finding out I was pregnant again there were sometimes tears or swear words. But often within moments there was a protective love and devotion that overcame me. And no fetus or newborn could ever do anything just right or just wrong to invoke mistreatment. It could never be their fault.

And that has shown me how messed up our parents are. We fully deserved their love and devotion and care. It was not our fault we didn't get it. It was their faults. They are the monsters.

You my friend were innocent of this. There is nothing you did or were to make them not love you. That is all on them.

And I know, despite knowing this, and being told a million times, despite everything. We will still wonder in our core. What is wrong with me? But friend if I could hold your little you. I would wrap my arms around her, and put her gently on my lap and softly stroke her hair and tell her how absolutely beautiful and perfect she is. I would sing her a gentle, comforting lullaby and how much I hope all her most wonderful dreams come true. I would tell her all the wonderful potential she has inside of her and all the dreams and hopes and wishes I have for her. For her happiness in this life.

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Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by earthhorse » Sun May 05, 2019 3:23 pm

Hi Easystreet,

That's it exactly. As cliche as it can be. Being here and staying present. With permission not to try. I think it's core.

Yes things have improved immensely since my chidhood/teenagehood/early adulthood that's true... feeling a lot of anger though right now at how hard it still is. Fighting disappointment and disappointment in myself. But nonetheless I remember that I am grateful too. And how gratitude is also a practice that soothes me deeply.

What is feeling 'safe' for me right now, kinda also feels very restrictive and unsafe... like I know I am suffering for it, actively greiving loss of every moment I am here in this restricted life style, my body crying out, my spirit screaming and wrestling for release, but some thing in me, something very powerful and complete and absolute, jealously guards the need to shut down like this... I really need to validate and witness what is happening. Not run from it, hide it or try to change it.

Being curious like with mindfulness of my current state.

When I initially burnt out, when I could move again. I started Yin and restorative yoga - I would go nearly every day for a couple of hours. This was extremely helpful... social anxiety has been a killer recently, since a trigger last summer that sent me further into withdrawal. So on the pretext of a knee injury I stopped in January ( the injury was real, but it was getting harder to be there before that). Found myself wanting to start off again this month. And the first two lessons I booked I lost track of time and had to cancel, being too late... such behavior fills me with despair. With gentle patient self compassion I will get back there!

Thank you very much for kind, intuitive and thoughtful reply.

"One kind word can warm three winter months"

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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:12 pm

Re: I'm done with 'trying'

Post by earthhorse » Sun May 05, 2019 3:57 pm

Just want to thank you sooooo much coconuts!

Thank you for your generosity, empathy and kindness. Your children are very, very lucky to have you. And you are an incredible affirmation of life. I am very lucky to call you my friend. And my little ones are just stunned that someone like you can even exist. I don't think they ever met someone so strong and so caring for little children.

There was and is nothing 'wrong' with you. You are right it was just these faulty people, and maybe beyond that a cycle of abuse that no one until you had the strength to change.

I read today an article about an indigenous Canadian woman dealing with intergenrational abuse. Her words could have been yours in come places. I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you?
Inter-Generational Trauma: Indigenous Resilience in the Face of Abuse
- By Mary Black

"My grandmother was placed in residential school at the age of 6. For the 10 years she lived there, she would be given a number instead of a name, and be called that number for the next 10 years.

I heard all sorts of horrific stories about the school. She told me how a little girl spoke her language and had her head smashed into concrete repetitively by the nuns, she remembers seeing blood everywhere. The little girl was only 7, and she was 6, witnessing this. She told me about how the nurses claimed she had Tuberculosis – when in fact, she didn’t, and she was placed on bed rest for 6 months at only 10 years old. She was not allowed to stand up, walk around, or basically move. My grandmother told me that the doctors would take skin off of her body, do experiments on her, without medication – and that the nurses would intentionally place sick children with healthy children, to get them sick. She told me about this one boy, who had been on bed rest for something crazy like 10 years – and how one day, he went mad, got up and jumped out of the window and killed himself.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to grow up in an institution like the residential school. The only thing I know is how inter-generational trauma is the foundation upon which my life was created – how, even before I was born, the stones of my life had been laid, environments filled with addictions, violence, abuse, and suicide, representing the glue holding the stones together. Through inevitable trauma and tragedy, I would watch the houses of people around me whom I loved, crumble and fall time and time again – some turning to dust, some trying to rebuild. Again and again, the houses would fall, and I would eventually find myself standing in a haze of dirt, rubble, grief and loss; an ocean of suicide, tormenting and unforgiving.

It wasn’t just me that these schools affected – we are talking hundreds of thousands of people who were directly or indirectly impacted by inter-generational trauma.

Inter-generational trauma is deceptive. It is unrecognizable to the untrained eye, and disguises itself as depression, mental and emotional disorders, selfishness, among many other things. Let me tell you about inter-generational trauma.

The children who went home after being in the schools, some never having visited their communities at all and having lived there for 10 years of their lives, were disconnected from their communities, families, parents. Most of them had witnessed violence, they had been starved, beaten, raped, sexually abused, dehumanized, told over and over again that their culture was devil worship and they were going to burn in hell if they didn’t accept God and Jesus as their savior – they were taught in the schools to be silent, not to speak about their feelings, so they turned their anger inward and began behaving in self-destructive ways such as drinking alcohol and doing drugs to cope with their feelings, and the cycles of domestic violence, addictions, and inter-generational trauma was created. When they became parents, they did not know how to express love – many people did not even know what love is, because they had not seen it or felt it in such a long time. The nuns refrained from hugging the kids or showing affection of any kind, so for some of the young adults, they hadn’t been hugged in 10 years, some for their whole lives. Anybody who studies human behaviour would know that humans are very intimate and connected beings. As babies, without touch, connection or love, human beings can die. Even if they are fed and have all of their basic needs met, they will not gain weight, they will not grow, and they can get diseases and get very sick and die. That is how important connection is for human beings – without it, we are nothing.

We had a whole Nation of people suffering from intense trauma and they did the best they could with what they were given. Unfortunately, our parents were the first to experience inter-generational trauma, with a lack of love and affection, being exposed to addictions and domestic violence, a Nation of people running from their emotions and their pain, drowning their sorrows in alcohol and blind rage.

Those that were lucky, were able to break those cycles and prevent them from continuing. But the majority were not. The children of the residential school survivors suffered greatly.

Our land was poisoned with a sexual sickness which was birthed in those schools, and invaded our communities. Molestation and sexual abuse at a rate which we have never before seen or experienced; rape being a normal word to use and be thrown around, even by children. The sickness spread like wildfire invading every family in one way or another, poisoning the minds of the babies and the children, stealing the childhood from anybody it encountered. I remember being 7 years old, and my cousins (who were the same age as me) got into an argument with another little girl, and they screamed at her:

“At least I wasn’t raped by my dad!” Yes, they were 7 too.

Sexual abuse has been a part of my life since my very earliest memories. I was anywhere from 2-3-4 the first time I recall playing sexual ‘games’ with a grown up, though I can’t recall his face or who he was.

I remember some of the kids I grew up with knew these games too. So we played them together. It took me a very long time to realize that sex was something children were not supposed to know or do, and later on in life, I carried an immense amount of guilt, shame and hatred for myself. I felt dirty all the time, I felt used, I felt like that’s all my body is good for, and because I was sexually abused, raped by people that I thought loved me, nearly killed – I felt like I was always going to be worthless.

This is another dark secret that haunts our communities, lingering in the closets of every family, always present – everybody knows it’s there, but nobody wants to talk about it.

And then there was us. The children of the children of the residential school survivors.

We are very lucky to be in a position that no other generation has been before us. Though we are immersed in a society surrounded by violence, drugs, alcohol, suicide and sexual abuse – we are living in an era where Indigenous people, as a collective, have a stronger voice than ever before. We are living in a world where the true history of Canada is being revealed and we are being recognized as the powerful beings we are, to have overcome genocide and still be standing. When I was in school, I learned exactly ONE PAGE about the residential school. It was Canada’s best kept secret, the evil truth, hidden by the education system, the legal system and the government – keeping racism and ignorance alive and thriving for decades upon decades.

Breaking those cycles was the hardest choice I ever made. When I made the choice to end the cycle of addiction, I decided to fight a battle every moment of every day, for the rest of my life. Alcohol will always be there, and so will pills. Ecstasy. Percocet. They will always be there, through every storm, through every heartache. When I decided to break the cycle of domestic violence, I had to turn inwards and look at myself. Find the broken parts of myself and decide that I was going to do anything I had to do to fix them – which meant crying, screaming, mental and emotional breakdowns, and allowing myself to truly process the traumatic events in my life which shaped me into who I am. I had to learn how to love myself. Because of the residential schools, I never had ceremony, I never had my language or the Ojibwe way of life – I had to seek it, and the first time I sat in a lodge, I knew exactly why they call it ‘the womb of the Earth’. I was reborn within that lodge, and I found a Sacred space within myself that I never knew existed – a place of safety, of harmony. A place of purity, and true happiness.

Our People used to be as the Buffalo – they would stand shoulder to shoulder, together, and be there to support one another as they entered the blistering cold storms, with so much snow they couldn’t see their next step. The important thing was they had each other, and they had the courage within them to walk headfirst into the darkest, scariest storms. Their strength came from their support, love and connection to each other.

But we have become like cows. Cows fear storms, so greatly infact that they often lose their minds, bumping into each other, knocking each other over when a large storm approaches. Except the way we run as Indigenous people, is by destroying ourselves with substances and destructive patterns of behaviour. We knock our loved ones over with our alcoholism and addictions, and they are injured by our fear, especially the young ones.

When I decided to break the cycles of inter-generational trauma, I decided to stop running away with the cows; and to turn around and enter the storm head first. The storm was my pain. The rape, the abuse, the domestic violence, the fear, the addictions, the suicides, the sexual abuse. That’s what the storm was, and that’s what I was afraid to face.

Sometimes the storm is light and manageable and sometimes, I am blinded. I can not see where I am going, but I can feel the warm bodies beside me, the love around me and the strength within me to take that next step forward. Some days are challenging, some are nearly impossible, and some days I feel like my days of addiction and abuse were a whole lifetime ago.

I am surrounded by other Buffalo, who are facing their own demons and we are walking side by side, through the storm, together. I sit in the lodge and pray, I belt out my rage and sadness with the drum and with music – I find other ways of expressing those feelings, instead of numbing them with alcohol, drugs and destructive patterns of behaviour.

My abusers tried to taint my light, but they couldn’t. I am whole. And after what seems like a lifetime of pain, I have finally learned how to love myself, to respect myself, and to realize that there is nothing wrong with me – I have forgiven myself for my mistakes, as well as forgiven those who have hurt me.

The hardest thing I ever did was forgive people who weren’t sorry. But I found that sacred place within myself to release that anger and move forward – with my ancestors behind me, my spirit within me, and the love I have been blessed with all around me.

My children will never see a man raise his hand to me, or feel the fear within their hearts when I am struck to the ground. They will not have to see me stumbling around in a drunken stupor, destroying things out of rage, and they will not be hit by me. My children have the gift of a mother, I will never leave them. As Creator is my witness, I swear that it would take an entire army to tear me away from my babies. I chose to give them the life I never had, to break those cycles of inter-generational trauma, and to find the love within and around me in a world full of chaos. I chose a path of Healing. I am pure, I am beautiful, I am whole, and I am worthy."
You are magnificent coconuts and the world is so lucky to have people like you in it. You are what is right with this world.

"One kind word can warm three winter months"

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