bemessycomplicatedshowup
Breast Cancer, Life & Parenting

This is me, messy and complicated, and showing up…

Whew. That last post was a doozy. It took a lot out of me to write it. It made my heart hurt all over again. It made me feel panicky and angry. I had written that post long ago. But it took me finally getting pushed over the edge to publish it.

In the days since, a few things have happened.

First, I felt relief. Relief to finally say those things out loud. To get it off of my chest. To say the things, I had been needing to say for a very long time.

Second, the number of women who have reached out to me has been unreal and heartbreaking. There are just too many of us who have suffered through some form of sexual assault, harassment, stalking, etc…

Third, I felt heartache. I know the statistics on sexual assault and they are staggering. It calls to light that statistics are, in fact, real people. Real women. But to see this many people collectively reach out and finally talk openly about it absolutely breaks my heart. I want to hug each and every one of you and tell you that we are going to heal and it’s going to be okay.

Forth, a lot of thinking. A whole, whole lot of thinking.

Which led me to this. Let’s remove the politics from this (for now). Because all either candidate is doing is baiting all of us. Sucking us into their drama. Each party has the marketing and advertising know-how and stats on how emotions play on decisions. And they are using them. Stirring the pot, watching the people react. And repeat. So let’s stop being their puppets.

Regardless of what the politicians are doing, it did open a door. Honestly, it burst it wide open. Because it needed to open and let all of these women out of the prison we had been in. You know, the one where we sweep sexual assault under the rug and “we don’t talk about those things.”

That’s exactly why that last post was a relief for me. It got it all off of my chest. My husband and close friends and family know all of it. They know what happened to me and the PTSD that followed me for so many years. They’ve held me while I cried. Encouraged me when my self-esteem was so low that I couldn’t make my own decisions. They’ve called me before and after therapist appointments in the past to make sure I was okay. They’ve listened and checked in on me when I’ve returned home from my therapist. So I could talk about the session as things were settling and falling into place in my head. They’ve walked with me and held my hands when the seasons change, and the fall of the year alone, could trigger panic attacks. Jason has held me after the nightmares and listened to me cry and be angry and hurt and frustrated and want nothing more than for our kids to never have to know this kind of pain. He has made sure I have anti-anxiety medicine when I needed it to get through those panic attacks.  Those close to me helped me to trust again.

Because of 20+ years of dealing with this, I won’t apologize about the language used in that last post. Ever.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our first that I knew I needed to work on all of this. We take care of our bodies, we also need to take care of our minds. But it wasn’t until after our second was born and post-partum depression hit me hard, that I finally went to see a psychologist.

It was life changing in the most miraculous way. First you need to find a therapist that you trust. Then you have to be willing to put it ALL on the table. Like a 150,000% of you. For someone with trust issues, that wasn’t easy. But I knew it was the only way to move forward.

From those first sessions, not only did I have major break throughs, but I began to find my sense of self for the first time. Going through the process and stepping back and looking at what was changing in me was amazing. Through the haze of insecurity and pain, I found me. Insurance didn’t cover those appointments then. But it was worth every penny we scraped by to pay for it.

We moved, and I didn’t find a therapist. And honestly, I had two wee-littles that took up all of my time. I should have found someone else in our new town, but I never did. When we moved away, it was nice to get away from all of the triggers, my triggers. (Note: “A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” For more info: http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger)

As we moved again, and settled into life here, I did find a therapist. And we spent two years working really hard on things. Some days the hardest thing I did was drive to that appointment. Because I knew we would dive back in. And as hard as that was, it the only way I was able to find peace, to find me, and reset those neural pathways. To settle those memories where they didn’t throw me back into trauma when triggered. Both therapists I saw used EMDR therapy to help treat my past trauma and PTSD. And I cannot begin to tell you much it helped me. (For more info on EMDR, please visit: http://www.emdria.org/)

I was 38 years old when I finally let go of the mental chains that caused me so much fear. When I finally accepted myself and began to love myself. When I truly knew that it was never my fault. And I let go.

At 40 years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That totally sucked, putting it mildly. But you know what? I had already survived so much in the past. I had spent so much of my life working hard to become a better person a healthier person. And all of the things that I went through and survived were what gave me the resolve, the mental toolbox, that I could get through cancer too. Not saying that I knew I was going to be cured of cancer (I’m still well within that 2-5 year range where we are watching). But I had been to hell and back. And I knew that I could do it again if I had to. I knew there was another side to the pain.

Getting through things in life is not easy. Sometimes it’s all you can do to get through. And once you do, you don’t want to go back. But you have one thing that you did not before. You have the knowledge that you can get through anything again.

So to my fellow survivors out there. I hear you. All of you. Even those that are still afraid or it is too traumatic to speak up. I hear you. We are in this together and we are going to change society. Don’t let the negative stuff you read discourage you. We are doing this. We are bringing all of this out in the open. So many are working to make a safer world out there by educating everyone. Collectively our voices have been heard and it’s only the beginning.

Let’s all be here for each other with a lot more love, a lot more compassion and hopefully understanding and change to the society we are living in.

Stay strong sisters. Hang in there. Heal. You got this. It’s going to be okay.

Much Love,
Shannon

RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline – https://www.rainn.org/
800-656-HOPE (4673)

— ps: Thank you Glennon, for being a warrior and showing up and inspiring so many of us to do the same. So much love… Find Glennon Doyle Melton, Founder of Momastery & Together Rising on Instagram @glennondoylemelton

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