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Who Am I? I Am A Survivor

I'm trying to condense several posts into one post to sort of clean up my blog a bit while keeping some of what I have already said. So if some of this seems familiar to you, that's why...

Not really sure where I should start this. I feel like I should introduce myself, or reintroduce myself, depending on how long you've been lurking and how much you know about me...

My name is Shawna and I'm 38. My birthday is Valentine's Day, yay me! (Not really it actually sucks). I have 4 siblings: an older brother, an older sister, a younger sister, and a younger half-brother. I have 2 daughters. Rachel is my oldest, as of this post she's 12, her birthday is February 13. She's my grumpy redhead. I call her that because she's grumpy A LOT. Abigail is my baby. She hates being called that, she prefers Abby. Her birthday is July 29 and as of this posting she's 10. She's my sensitive, caring little perfectionist. They're night and day. I'm divorced and I'm very happy about that fact. Oh, and I'm scatterbrained, which is odd because I always got really good grades, go figure...

I'm a huge Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy fan. I also love to talk about my children A LOT...so you're almost guaranteed to see a bunch of posts about them. I'm a Christian, but not the kind you're used to hearing about. I don't believe in pushing my beliefs on others, I try to live my life by "judge not that you be not judged" and "treat others as you want others to treat you." Which means that I always try to be nice to everyone no matter what. I support our U.S. troops 100% regardless of my thoughts on war; I'm kind of an army brat, the men and women that put their lives on the lines to serve our country have my complete support. I'm a perfectionist and I'm pretty sure I have OCD. I'm also very dedicated to my friends and the people in my life, I believe you must first be a friend to get a friend. I believe in equality-for ALL; no exceptions. I'm trying to learn to be an activist and am trying to teach my girls to be advocates for others.

I am a domestic abuse survivor. You wouldn't know that just by looking at me, I mean I look just like anyone else does, but maybe you would because I have a hard time making eye contact and I don't have very good social skills. Maybe the only people that can tell by looking at me are the ones that are trained to spot victims of abuse: counselors and doctors, and then again maybe even they can't. I've never asked. Anyway, I've been abused in some way or form for most of my life; verbal, emotional, mental, and yes, some physical and sexual.  It's something I've only recently started opening up about. I was ashamed to admit this part of who I am.

I was also afraid of how the person I was talking about would react. Even as an adult, I find myself needing my mom's approval, wanting her to accept me, needing her to love me. I struggle with the idea of upsetting or hurting her with my truths. As for my ex-husband? Well, I still have to deal with him on a fairly regular basis because we have children together and while I am getting better at standing up for myself, I still fear making him angry. He is a very hateful, scary person when he is angry and even though his preferred method is yelling and screaming at me when he is angry it still scares me...I only really stand up to him when he is being verbally, mentally, or emotionally abusive to our daughters (yelling at them, putting them down, etc.) or is doing something that can or does put them in danger (letting them share a seat belt in his pickup truck, letting our oldest sit in an adult's lap and share that seat belt, or shooting a BB gun inside the trailer). In those moments I don't care how angry he gets at me as long as I am protecting my children. I am learning to tell my story now. I am learning to not be ashamed.


If I haven't lost your attention yet (and I'm guess that if you clicked the link you're still interested) I'm going to try to tell some of my story now...here goes!

I'm not really sure where to start. I've never sat down and tried to put it all on paper before. I've never tried to share my story so in depth before this post. I guess I'll start by saying that I never felt like I was good enough growing up and still sometimes I don't feel like I am good enough. For example, I grew up feeling like my feelings weren't good enough; like what I felt was always wrong. I felt like I didn't have the right to feel what I was feeling. Of course it didn't help that my mom actually told me on several occasions growing up that I "shouldn't be feeling that" and that my "feelings were wrong." I'm pretty sure her telling me that is what originally lead me to start bottling everything up...it's also the beginning of that feeling of not being good enough. My self-esteem took a major hit hearing that repeatedly when I tried to express myself. My self-esteem was so low that when I finally exploded, when I finally got so upset and angry that I couldn’t keep it in and wanted to lash out, I ended up lashing out at myself. I couldn't bring myself to hurt anyone else, I didn't have the right to hurt anyone else. I was worthless. I didn't matter...and so the self-harm began...

I was a cutter for a small amount of time and then I found that hitting myself worked better at relieving my pain. I would hit myself as hard as I could with any hard object I could find; large books, shoes, heavy family size, metal aerosol cans...I started with my thighs. I would hit them as hard as I could, sometimes with my fists and other times with whatever I could find. After a while it wasn't enough and I started hitting myself in the head. One time I hit myself so hard in the head that I couldn't see anything. EVERYTHING went black. I sat there for at least a minute or more afraid that I had caused myself to go blind. My sight came back. I was so afraid that I didn't hit myself again for several weeks. And then I started back up again: in the legs. My thighs became my favorite place to hit again.

I haven't done that in at least 15 years. I don't remember why I stopped but I'm glad I did. I think it was because I learned to channel it all into writing. I write a lot, mostly poems. If you like poetry you can check out my blog dedicated to my poems here at shawnakat's poems. Most of my poems tend to go towards the dark side...this is me trying to get all the negative out. I'm also working on a novel, and if I'm lucky enough, I hope to someday get it published...if I ever get time to finish it.

My ex-husband has tried to use my history of self-harm, depression, and dark poetry against me over the course of our marriage. He tries to say that these things make me unfit to parent our children. I don't agree with him. I got through the years of emotional, mental, verbal abuse from him WITHOUT self-harming myself. Side note: I've found that even after divorce he still tries to treat me the way he used to treat me, but I am getting better at standing up to him, not always, but I'm getting there. Slowly.

I still have fairly low self-esteem, some days I'm not even sure if I have any...as I'm sure you can tell by that statement, I am still trying to heal. I still feel very inadequate. I am working on that, too. I still love my mom and am working on forgiving her, but I don't think I am not completely there yet...I want to say that I really don't blame my mom, not completely. She raised me the way that she was raised. And my grandmother raised her the way she was raised. It's a cycle that I am trying to break. I won't know if I succeeded until my girls are adults.

My history is dark. I cannot hide that. As dark as it is, I know others have darker. My soul may be battered and bruised, but it is not crushed. I am a survivor. I've learned better coping skills and I am still learning better coping skills.

So now you know...

I wrote the following on the inside cover of my book of poems on June 27, 2008, “I've opened a window into my soul. This book is that window. My thoughts, hopes, and fears, I've put in this book. My poems may not be great, may not even be good, but they are an outlet for what is inside me. If you should choose to look inside, if you should choose to read, remember these words.

I spent years bottling my emotions; I realized I was wrong. Once, I exploded in rage, so very unlike me. It was then that I realized that I needed an outlet, a way to get my emotions out. Poetry has become that outlet for me. When I put things on paper, I begin to feel better. So here they are, a collection of my heart, sometimes a poem, sometimes a song.

The point here is to express myself, to let feelings out, they may not make sense to you but they always do to me.”

Even though I wrote that for my poem book I think it applies to this blog, too. I honestly don't know if anyone is reading (no one ever comments) but if you are, know that I am showing you a window into my heart, into my very soul. It's not always pretty, but then neither is life.

I do a lot of thinking. Sometimes it feels like I can't shut my brain off I do so much thinking. I have a hard time letting people in, letting them see what I'm thinking. I really am working on that problem, though you probably can't tell by how often I've managed to keep up with this thing. But honestly, sharing isn't the point of this blog. It doesn't matter if people see or read the posts, not in the long run. It's certainly not why I started the blog or why I keep coming back to it. That doesn't mean I don't want you to read or comment because I do want you to read and comment, it just means it's not my main focus.

So why do I keep coming back even when I'm not sure if I people are reading? It's simple. I don't let people in. I pretend I am fine even when I'm not. I don't often share, I bottle things up until I feel myself falling apart...until I feel myself losing control. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with life, I feel like giving up. I've learned that writing helps me deal with those feelings. It helps me share myself so I can keep going. It helps me deal with all the negative emotions I feel. I used to try to bottle them all in but I finally exploded and it ended in my self-harming. 

OK, I think that covers it, for now. I had planned to go into more detail about my history of domestic abuse but I think I will leave it for another post as this one is long enough. If you've read this far, THANK YOU. And if you are interested in reading more please subscribe. Also, feel free to leave a comment, share your story if you want, I'd love to read it!

A year or two ago I had tried to do online schooling to get my bachelor's degree but during the first semester my depression got really bad. I stopped doing my school work, my girls ate take out every night for months, I lost interest in doing anything. I missed a counseling appointment but couldn't even muster up the energy to call to reschedule, so I ended stopping completely. Which was a bad thing. I didn't pay my bills. The money was there but I just didn't pay anything. I went to work, I went home, and that was that. I sat on the couch doing nothing...on the weekends my girls were at their dad's I literally slept the whole weekend away...I worked through it, or at least I thought I had. But I guess I was just forcing myself to interact.

As of today I'm back on medication for my depression. I didn't realize how bad it was until I started taking it and I can definitely feel a difference. I feel more alert, more involved, better than I have in a really long time. There's no shame in having depression. There's no shame in needing help. #IDONTMIND talking about it. I've pretty much dedicated my main Twitter account (@shawnakat) to encouraging people and offering as much kindness, compassion, and support as I can. It's my way of trying to do what I can to help us all heal.

If no one has told you this yet today, I LOVE YOU and YOU ARE IMPORTANT. ❤

*Originally posted 11/21/16

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