On abuse and recovery

I was abused.

That’s really difficult for me to admit. It’s so aggressive, so blunt, so smack-you-in-the-face. I want to soften it, to minimize the impact. I want to rewrite it, maybe “I was an abuse victim”, oh, but the word ‘victim’ is so loaded today, maybe “I was in an abusive situation”. By the time I open my mouth or hit “post”,  it reads “I had a rough childhood”. In person, I then add a self-deprecatory little laugh, like, “oh, let us reminisce on our youthful folly.”

Why is it so hard to admit? I left the situation (and my home, and everything I’d known in person) at 18 and never really came back. For the next few years, my recovery was really rough. I couldn’t shake the idea that deep down, I really was defective, and it felt wrong to blame my abuser for pointing out how utterly pathetic and worthless I was. Even when I plastered a smile over it, I was sure I was lying to everyone, and if someone looked close enough, my putrid, rotten soul would be visible, and everyone would know I was a liar who pretended to be decent but was secretly awful.

But that’s the kind of thing abuse does to you. That’s not real. I’m not defective or broken, I was abused, and I internalized that abuse.

As I started to really recover, I remained hesitant to flat out say that abuse was involved. I’m not a professional, maybe my reading of the situation was wrong. Maybe it was just a bad situation. When is it abuse? What’s the threshold? Better to hedge my bets so I don’t come off as accusatory. Better to soften it, to deny the severity of the situation.

The other day, my abuser apologized for how she treated me. She admitted it was a bad situation, that she was in a terrible place in her life, and that she’s well aware of the devastating amount of damage she inflicted on me and wishes she could take it all back. In essence, she admitted to being my abuser, to abusing me. How can it be that she admits she abused me but I can’t admit I was abused?

Part of the problem is that I and my support network are handling this alone. I can’t bring myself to visit a therapist; the last time I tried, I had a huge panic attack, and then was told I needed to “grow up”. When I enter a therapist’s office, my subconscious remembers well the lessons I learned when I was in that horrible situation (see, the softening?). To visit a therapist is, to my mind, some horror-movie gamble, in which I risk my freedom, my life, and everything dear to me against my ability to lie. I found myself fighting to give correct answers to the most basic of questions, like “How old are you?” — the urge to lie and lie and never stop lying was overwhelming. Everything triggered my anxiety, from the bookshelves to the desk to the small potted plant every therapist seems to have. I was sure they were judging me, probing my story for weaknesses, for holes, for proof that I’m not actually an adult capable of handling my own life and instead a crazy person who needs to be locked up.

This might be because I was, at one point, told that I was incapable of handling my own affairs and needed to be locked up until I could be properly medicated. But you know. It might not be. Hard to tell.

I guess the point is that I’m not sure what to do now. I feel like a lot has changed since I last attempted to visit a therapist, and maybe I should try again. But maybe it’d set me back, like it did last time. Maybe I need to read more books; the last one I grabbed a sample of started talking about how you can learn to love yourself because God loves you and God will give you the strength you need and I just can’t get behind that. I need to build my recovery on the axiom that I’m strong enough to recover, not on the axiom that some external being is going to be the source of my strength, so that disillusionment won’t break me down entirely.

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Genesis of Flatland

 This is the account of Mankind and Mathematics: when they were created, and how they were destroyed again for ever by the folly of Woman.

In the beginning, when the first Man and the first Woman were naked in the garden, God took upon himself to teach them, for they were his children and he was responsible for their education. And so he began to teach them the holy forms of Geometries and of Algebras; yea, even Calculus did he teach them. Man and Woman were favored of God at this time, and so they readily understood what he taught them, even though their brains were fully developed and they lacked the plasticity of children.

One day, God said to Man, “Lo, behold this illustration. Seest thou how there is but a two-dimensional plane, upon which are figures such as you have become accustomed to regarding: the square, the triangle, the circle. Picture now how this figure might appear to them, for it is but a one-dimensional line, with line segments and points upon it.” And the Lord God did explain further the conceit of the two-dimensional land, until Man and Woman understood it.

“I see now how the point may no more easily turn and traverse in two dimensions than the square might lift himself from the plane and traverse in three,” declared Woman, and God approved, and it was good.

And the Lord God explained how his creations were in three dimensions, as limited as the two-dimensional beings in their own three dimensions. And the Woman saw that it was a pleasing analogy, and a desirable means of gathering wisdom. And the Man, too, saw the use of such an extension, and set about wondering what might be created in the fourth dimension, for he was of a practical nature, and longed to create something that would please his Father in Heaven.

The Woman preferred pure Mathematics to the more practical arts of Engineering, and she continued to extend the experiment in secret. Soon, she discovered that God dwelt in the highest dimension, the infinite dimension, where all things were known and knowable. And the Lord God was pleased, and it was good.

One afternoon, after the lesson had concluded, the Woman was sat beneath a tree when a serpent approached her. “Is infinity truly the highest sum?” he whispered to her. At first, she dismissed his words as nonsense. Of course Infinity was the highest number there was. Wasn’t that how Infinity was defined? Still, the serpent continued to whisper to her. “Imagine a table with infinite place settings. At each place setting, there is one knife and one fork. Therefore, there are infinite knives, and infinite forks, and exactly as many knives as forks. Those infinities are equal. But if you then place two ripe fruits onto each plate, is the infinity of fruits equal to the infinity of knives and forks?”

And the Woman wrestled with the question for a long day and a long night, and eventually she was forced to conclude that there were infinities that were greater than the Infinity she had been taught. And she wondered if there was a higher order of infinity than the Infinity of dimensions in which God resided.

Troubled, she called out to the Man, inviting him to partake of the thought experiment of the infinite fruit, but he could find no solution, and indeed, he too was troubled by the implications. For if there was infinity above Infinity, then was there a being of even a higher order than God himself?

The Lord God called to the Man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid, so I hid.”

And the Lord God looked upon their scribblings on their clay tablets, and he recognized them, and he grew angry. “Who told you of transfinite cardinals and uncountable infinities?” he demanded.

The Man said, “The Woman was explaining it to me.”

And the Woman said, “The serpent enlightened me, and I learned.”

And thus it was that Man, Woman, and Serpent were expelled from the Garden of Knowledge, and since that day, all three have had to scrape together what bits of learning they can from the world around them.

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I appear to have offended the gods

Today:

  • my arm still hurts from straining a muscle over the weekend,
  • despite having 10 pairs of socks a few weeks ago, I only appear to have two in my laundry hamper full of clean laundry,
  • someone had left the thermostat too high so it was hot and humid,
  • my bluetooth headset snapped in half,
  • my car wouldn’t start,
  • the guy who they sent to jump my car ran out of gas and had to send a second guy who supposedly had the day off,
  • and while I was waiting for him to show up, I got an email saying the servers were down at work.

If anyone knows what deity I offended today, I’d be glad to offer the appropriate appeasement gift >.>

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Bitten: Grief (Chapter 12)

Nope, I still don’t intend to get into why this is so late, but don’t expect any sort of regularity anytime soon >.> I do have the TV series on Netflix, so I’ll be covering that as well.

Warning: This might get triggering for those recovering from abusive situations, as well as the usual amount of rape and rape culture for this book.

Last time, on Bitten:

“Because obviously human killing is different than wolf killing, because with human killing, you intentionally take the life of another living  being, but when wolves kill, they actually just generate rainbows and fluffy bunnies and unicorns, so it’s totally the opposite. “

“Do not date this man!”

” They head back to the car,  where they run into Logan, who Clay is jealous of because Elena actually likes him. Unfortunately, he’s dead. End of chapter!”

Clay somehow gets Elena back to Stonehaven, as she’s in a grief-coma herself, barely aware of her surroundings. Which is A-ok! People often react this way to grief, and it was quite a shock finding her friend’s body like that. Elena wants nothing to do with Clay right now, which is also understandable,  but he won’t take no for an answer:

“Let me in, darling. I want to be with you.”

Because in Clay’s world, that’s all that matters. When she continues to say no, he takes out his rage on the walls and objects:

His bedroom door slammed. Then another crash, something larger this time — a nightstand or a lamp hurling into the wall. In my head, I followed the path of his rampage, seeing each piece of furniture smash into bits and wishing I could do the same.

This is not ok: he seems to be angry because she wouldn’t let him into her bedroom, as this only started when she denied him access. Smashing up your property in a fit of rage is juvenile at best, but I can’t help but read this as a warning sign for their relationship.

Back to the overarching moral of the tale: Elena does not smash things because she has a moral compass, while Clay reacts on base instinct and breaks all his things.

[Smashing some china statues] would feel wonderful, but I’d never do it. I’d remember how much time Jeremy  had put into picking them out for me, how it would hurt him if I destroyed his gift.

Instead, she lays in bed wallowing in her grief. Again, a perfectly fine reaction, but I wish she had someone she trusted nearby to help her rather than suffer alone.

Random question: how does Elena know exactly who is standing outside her bedroom door each time she hears a knock? Do they smell different enough through the door to her when she’s in human form? Does she have detailed intuition about how each one would knock in this circumstance? Or is it just lazy writing?

Jeremy comes to Elena’s room, locking himself in and sitting on the bed, touching her, without saying anything. That creeps me out a bit too — how does he know she’s okay with his presence right now? But consent means “not yelling ‘no’ in precisely the right way” in this series, so it’s to be expected. Little things like this help erode the idea of her body and her space belonging to her.

Elena has daddy issues, and sees Jeremy as a surrogate father-figure who is too “moral” to love her. Her tragic backstory includes her foster mother being basically raped in the middle of church service, which probably adds to her desire to excuse Clay’s repeated rapes of her as being her own fault for not saying ‘no’ in precisely the right way.

At least she gets a chance to visit Logan’s grave and get some closure. Honestly, Elena’s grief is portrayed very well in this chapter, at least in my opinion. It’s not as melodramatic as Bella’s blank pages to represent an empty life, but it does pervade her thoughts and narration, tainting everything that happens with her listless sorrow.

Clay reacts to Elena’s crying at the graveside by becoming angry, yelling and disturbing her while Jeremy at least attempts to be quiet. Elena has to interrupt her own grieving to look after Clay because Jeremy apparently told him that going for revenge this very minute was a bad idea but didn’t expressly forbid him from going. Clay’s “special needs” clearly rank precedence in Elena’s mind over her own ordinary needs, and she hides in the truck so that she can come along and be his leash.

Elena has always suffered from irrational rage, which makes her afraid of herself. Good — that’s the kind of instinct that ought to lead her to seek help from a professional rather than shacking up with a bunch of immature men prone to violent rages as well.

Since it’s broad daylight, she suggests killing time by finding out how the town is reacting to the rave from the night before. Clay literally doesn’t understand the point of asking what a bunch of sheep humans think about an event,  but Elena convinces him that werewolves could be outed and he’s apparently realized that would be bad. I guess he’d have to, since that’s the only think separating him from a rogue at this point. They decide to buy a newspaper and keep their ears open while waiting for dark.

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Songs About Money: A retrospective

Number 1 single, 1999:

Always talkin’ about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass
[…]
Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no I don’t want no

Number 1 single, 2000:

Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills
Always 50/50 in relationships
[…]
How’d you like this knowledge that I brought
Braggin’ on that cash that he gave you is to front
If you’re gonna brag make sure it’s your money you flaunt
Depend on noone else to give you what you want

Number 1 single, 2001:

Think you gotta keep me iced, you don’t
Think I’m gonna spend your cash, I won’t
Even if you were broke
My love don’t cost a thing

2009, the market crashed and the US entered the Great Recession.

Clearly without having to pay for ladies, men have no work ethic whatsoever and will destroy the economy :)

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Tea Diary: Week 2

Monday

I didn’t make tea Monday. Monday was a blur; by the time I came home, I was falling asleep behind the wheel. I went to bed as soon as I’d eaten in the hopes of getting some much-needed sleep.

Tuesday

I decided to experiment on Tuesday to make up for Monday. I dug through my samples and grabbed a Masala Chai from Destiny Rescue Storehouse Tea, with a donation to Destiny Rescue (I was originally confused by the packaging on the sample). This is a certified organic fair trade blakc tea, claiming 60mg of caffeine; I believe I bought this at the local Farmer’s Market, since their address puts them in my area. I brewed with 3 heaping teaspoons (I measured properly this time), which is a little more than they suggest, and brewed 4 minutes after washing the leaves, as always. It tastes…. like not a lot. I poured a little into a mug to experiment with how much milk and found that my usual vanilla soymilk easily overpowers the flavor :/ I managed to figure out how to get it palatable using sugar and the tiniest bit of soymilk, but it mostly tastes like sugary soymilk anyway, I’m not getting any of the delicious chai spices I expected. The tea smelled wonderful, and there were whole spices in it, so I’m not sure what went wrong. Perhaps I should try doing the proper chai method: boiling milk on the stove with tea + spices in it rather than brewing like a black tea, despite the directions not insisting on that method anyway.

Wednesday

Today I decided to brew the last of my Firebird’s Child Chai from Dryad Tea. I did the same procedure as for the Rescue Chai yesterday, but I didn’t have time to taste-test as I was running late, so I just guessed about the same milk as yesterday. It’s given me what I wanted: a smooth, flavorful tea with a bit of bite to the end of the sip to wake me up. I definitely need to order more of this stuff.  I bought it at the Steampunk Symposium, where Dryad Tea had a booth; I’m loving the spread of tea culture, as it gives me the chance to buy teas in person from someone knowledgeable about their blends rather than mail-ordering some unknown blend from an untried vendor. I told the woman at the booth I usually drink chai and she suggested this one, as well as informing me that Dryad makes a point of blending teas so they taste like they smell so the customer won’t be surprised. I’m definitely happy with the two teas I bought then :)

Thursday

I was in pain and my roommate Kae was up, so he offered to make me some tea. I had him do an experiment for me: Tazo chai concentrate mixed with soymilk as per the directions. The tea is described as:

Black tea takes a Saturday drive in a milk-and-honey mobile through an exotic marketplace. The essences of sweet cinnamon, spicy ginger and fragrant cardamom float in through the open windows while black pepper flirtatiously grabs the steering wheel – just to heat things up a bit.

What I taste in my mug, however, is more like

Honey floats lazily down a river, teasing the tongue with thoughts of corn syrup before reasserting itself as honey after all. Then, suddenly, tragedy strikes: Black Pepper, having stowed away on the riverboat, detonates into an explosion of spice boosted by detonator cinnamon and accelerant ginger, obliterating the peaceful afternoon. Tea is listed in the closing credits but was cut from the film.

I told Kae he can have the rest of it, and I’ll brew loose-leaf again tomorrow.

Friday

Woke up super sore. I brewed Dryad Tea‘s Spring Court, but I wasn’t sure if I should treat it more like a black or an herbal (it smells so strongly of flowers when I scooped it) and ended up making a mess of it. My cup ended up cloying and bitter at the same time, and I wish I’d taken the time to taste-test a cup and figure out how to fix it before I took it with me. I’ll definitely need to have afternoon tea this weekend and experiment. It seems like a good tea if I was awake and mobile enough to make it work.

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Tea Diary: Week 1

Monday

My husband left at 9am this morning for a summer internship two states away. He always makes my morning cuppa for me, to go, in a travel mug, so I’m going to have to learn how I like it all over again. I was horrified to find out he’d been steeping bag tea this whole time and I’d barely noticed. So much for being awake in the morning! I decided to keep a diary of my tea drinking choices so I could chronicle the learning process.

I have the day off, so I sat down in the afternoon and made myself the first pot of loose-leaf I’ve personally brewed in months. I used Twinings Orange Pekoe in my 20oz teapot, which made several cups in my small, polka-dot teacup. I used 3 and a half spoonfuls of tea in my pot; I rinsed the leaves before steeping (pouring hot water, waiting about 30 seconds, then pouring the water off and re-filling for the actual brew), and I steeped the tea 4 minutes. With milk and sugar it tasted nice and smooth, but it left a bitter and somewhat metallic aftertaste that annoyed me. Part of the tea? Or something else?

I didn’t really know what to do with myself with no husband to bother me and no work. Good thing I have work tomorrow! I ended up cleaning the kitchen out of a sheer lack of knowing what to do with myself.

 

Tuesday

Everything hurts when I wake up. Ugh. I’ve far overdone it the night before, cleaning and helping to cook because I was so excited about the coming week. I brew the same tea again; I’m concerned that I might have burned the leaves the first time, so I let the water cool off while I hunt for a candy thermometer and ultimately fail to find one. I also added the tea to the soymilk and sugar, mostly because I was in a hurry. The aftertaste was lessened in my first cup, but still present. I resolve to add more milk and sugar to my to-go mug, just in case that’s the problem.

I am no longer pleased to have work today.

By the time I get to work, the tea is 100% bitter, no smooth taste at all. I cannot drink it, the bitter is overpowering. Did it continue steeping while I left it to keep warm in the pot? Did the milk cause the bitter taste in the first place? Did I not add enough sugar? Ugh. At least I got here okay.

Wednesday

My husband suggested that soymilk turns bitter when it’s starting to go off, so I braved a thunderstorm to buy fresh soymilk. Today all I can taste is the soymilk. I steeped it the same, so either I’ve added more soymilk today or it tastes stronger when it’s not going off. I had to give up after half the cup as the bitter taste returned. Definitely needs more sugar today. Maybe I used a smaller spoon for sugar?

Thursday

Today is going to be bad, I can feel it in my bones. I woke two minutes before the alarm; got up, peed, and then somehow it was six and I didn’t have time to shower. By the time I’m making my tea, everything aches and I’m finding it hard to catch my breath — some kind of allergen has set off my asthma. I use extra sugar in my mug so at least I’ll have that.

It’s so challenging to figure out what could have gone wrong. Minute temperature differences? A few extra seconds in the rinsing step, or not quite enough? Maybe the spoon I used is a slightly different size? The more I try to measure, the more daunting the morning cup of tea feels. It’s just tea, why bother? I stare ruefully at my pricier blends, but ultimately decide on the Orange Pekoe again. If I can’t even figure out this one, why waste the nicer tea?

Friday

Exhausted this morning, but more optimistic. I figured out how to set my kettle for 200F instead of setting it to 212 and letting it cool, which will help, but it doesn’t beep or anything so it’s hard to tell when it’s done. Tea was better today, so I drank more of it, and eventually got a bit of paper-like tea leaf on my tongue. That might explain the bitterness, if it’s continuing to extract. Maybe I need a better strainer?

Saturdays I buy tea when I go out to breakfast, and Sunday I’ll probably stick to herbal or bagged tea, so that concludes this week’s tea diary.

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