Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Monday, 30 April 2012
Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- What Spanking Taught Me Meg at MommyStoleTheSugar explains the spankee's perspective and how it has affected her disciplining choices as a parent.
- A Memory of Spanking Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores her own upbringing and how it has affected her and why she is changing the way she relates to her children.
- Redirecting the Impulse to Spank Amy W. shares at Natural Parents Network about her experience redirecting the impulse to spank, and encourages all parents to respond with sensitivity and redirect anger before it becomes harmful.
- Perspective is Everything Patti at Canadian Unschooler learns to heal from the trauma caused by the childhood death of her sister, and gains a deeper understanding of her own mother's love for her as a child.
- Remembering and Recharging Emily at The Other Baby Blog shares how she refocuses her mindset during high-stress times.
- Does spanking work? Megan at TheBehavioralChild lists the five reasons why spanking doesn't work.
- Love is All There Is: A Spank Out Day Post Tree at Mom Grooves shares her thoughts about needing to find a way to discipline her 5 year old that could give her daughter the boundaries she is craving while still treating her with only love and respect.
- Discipline isn't SOmething You Do; Discipline is SOmething You Have Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children questions how parents can expect their children to show self-control if they, themselves, do not exhibit self-discipline.
- No Spanking, No Yelling, No Time Outs....What's Left? Sheila at A Living Family shares that though spanked as a child herself, she has made efforts towards an alternative approach to setting limits.
- Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us Kelly Hogaboom finds that if we are to raise our children in a humane fashion, we must first recognize our own humanity.
- Dear Daniel, (On Discipline and Love) Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son about the many choices we have in life: how we treat people, how we parent, and how we use our bodies in the process.
- Spanking: A Day to Consider Our Muddy Boots recognizes that some see a difference between abuse and spanking, and maybe today is a day that we can consider some other perspectives and utilize available resources to make different choices.
- Mutual Respect Sithyogini at Very Nearly Hippy learns how mutual respect between parents and children leads to peaceful parenting.
- What Is the Difference Between Spanking and Abuse? You know what is difficult? Trying to explain the difference between spanking and abuse to a child. Dionna at Code Name: Mama can understand the confusion.
- I Hit My Kids and Now Begins The Real Work To Heal The Honesty Conspiracy hosts this powerful, anonymous story about how it's never too late to start on a different approach to spanking.
- How To Talk To Parents About Gentle Alternatives To Spanking Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares some useful ways to discuss the often divisive issue of spanking.
- Spank Out Day: 3 Untruths and 11 Alternatives to Spanking MudpieMama at Positive Parenting Connection breaks down 3 of the biggest myths about spanking and shares a list of effective gentler discipline alternatives.
Monday, 26 March 2012
As I read these posts and the comments that followed, I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness, not only because of the awful comments made by some readers, but even more so because it finally brought me to the place of fully recognizing something: I was raped. Not once, but three times and by three different individuals. So many years have passed and I have no desire to address the individuals who were involved, but I have been going through a great deal of processing, trying to make sense of what happened, and how I came to view these incidents as completely and totally "my fault." I seem to have been enculturated with the same twisted ideas as some of the commenter's on Blue Milk's articles, ideas that sound so ignorant and anti-woman to me now. I was brought up in a culture of victim blame, a culture of excuses, but there is no excuse for any man or woman to have sex with an individual who has not willingly and openly consented to such an act. How I didn't see this before is baffling to me, but I'm glad to know it now, and hope to impart that sense on my own children.
I am so very saddened to think that I, as an intelligent and capable young woman, did not see what any of the men who took advantage of me did as all that wrong. It certainly wasn't right, but who could blame them. It's what men did, I thought. I was flirtatious, I was playful, so what did I expect? Would it have been so wrong to expect respect for my own right to choose when and how I wanted to have sex? How about to expect the men to hold themselves up to a higher standard? I really don't think so. I'm disgusted by the idea that I put all of the blame on myself for the conscious decisions these so-called men made to take advantage of me. My point of view at the time was so very twisted that I even continued to have an amicable relationship with at least one of these men, because it wasn't their fault, after all. I was stupid. I was irresponsible. I made bad decisions.
All of these years later, I can finally see that no decision I made gave another person the right to have sex with me without my consent. No decision I made "led" to unwanted sex.
As part of my processing, I have been going over and over these scenarios in my head, trying to figure out what led me to think and to do the things I did, and to completely and totally let these guys off the hook. I want to know what led me to think that what they did was okay, in large part so that I can protect my own daughter from a similar fate.
The first scenario involved my boyfriend at the time. This boyfriend, several years older than I, knew I had not had sex and that I was not ready to have sex. We had discussed this on numerous occasions. One night, he invited me to join him at a friend's house party, where I hardly knew a soul. The drinks got to me quickly, so he suggested that we should go. I got the sense that I had embarrassed him, and half expected him to take me home and go back to the party unencumbered. His and my apartments were within a four or five mile radius of one another, as was the one where the party was located, so taking me home would have been easy, really. To my surprise, he wanted to go to his place. We did, I relieved that my hip older boyfriend had not ditched me for embarrassing him. I was extremely intoxicated, sick, and out of it, but glad to he still wanted me around all the same.
Before long, I found myself in his bed and we did things we had done before, all of which were fine with me. What I didn't know at the time was that he was planning to have sex with me. It's all so clear to me now, looking back on details from the night, but I didn't see it then. I was enjoying myself, so I suppose I believed that what followed was the logical next step, and that because I had willingly participated in the lead-up to it, I had consented in some way or another. One minute things were normal, and the next I realized that he was having sex with me. I was shocked, since he had given me no warning whatsoever, but believed I had brought it upon myself and made him think that I wanted it, so I didn't speak up but merely waited for it to be over. Very few, if any words were spoken afterward. We went to sleep, and the next morning he proceeded to enter me again, with little to no warning. We never discussed what was actually happening, he never asked my permission. He really didn't seem to consider what I wanted at all.
In the days that followed, I spent a lot of time processing what had happened and ended up convincing myself that I had wanted it. I know that I know that if I had actually been asked if I were ready, if I had been consulted at all, I would have told him I wasn't ready. The fact that our entire social circle had heard the news, and was congratulating me on having lost that antiquated thing called my virginity, helped create and feed this twisted idea that it had been a good thing. But the reality is, he took advantage of me. And I didn't stop him. I'm really not sure which is more upsetting - my passivity or his complete and utter selfishness and lack of consideration. If I had asked him to stop, said no, would he have stopped? I'd like to think the answer is yes, but I don't know. It's this not knowing that caused me to blame myself. I couldn't say he acted against my will, I felt, because I failed to make my will known. I wish I had said no, sure. I could have said no, sure. But absolutely nothing gave him the right to assume a yes and move forward with something he knew that, sober, I hadn't wanted, especially without checking in with me first.
Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in an even more disturbing scenario, for which I fully blamed myself and agonized endlessly over my poor decision. I had flirted with a coworker, not because I was the least bit interested in him, but because I was young and flirtatious. We worked in a social environment where this type of interaction was going on constantly, and it was fun, but didn't obligate anyone to follow on with anything at all.
I went out one night with two old friends who I trusted, rightly. They were kind and gentlemanly and I had known them for years. When the two of us who were not driving had consumed our fair share at the bar, they drove me home and came up to my apartment for a chat. Meanwhile, I had been texting with the coworker, who wanted to come over. Against my better judgment, I decided this sounded like fun, and invited him. I have absolutely no memory at all of his coming over. My first clue came in the morning, when I found a note apologizing for his having to leave before I awoke. I was a bit surprised, since I didn't recall going to sleep beside him anyway, and certainly had not expected to wake up to him in my bed.
A bit later, I went to the bathroom and found a piece of latex inside of me. I can actually remember thinking, "well, at least he used a condom." This was a relief to me at the time, and more pressing a concern than the issue that I had no memory of agreeing to a sex act of any kind. Again, I blamed myself. What had I been thinking!? Looking back now, I know exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking that I wanted to have fun with my good friends, who I had not seen in ages. Because I felt safe with them, and was not particularly good at rejecting others, I allowed a coworker to join us. Beyond that, I can only imagine, but I know that I was in absolutely no condition to give consent. Is it wise to drink to excess? Perhaps not, but as an adult do I have every right to make a decision to do so? Of course I do! Does another adult have a right to use the situation to their advantage and have their way with me? Abso-frickin'-lutely not.
That time in my life was a wild, spontaneous one and it involved many nights of drinking and spending time with friends. There are certainly experiences that are fuzzy, times when my wits were not entirely about me, but I always remembered at least bits and pieces from every hour I was awake, even if only half awake. The fact that I remember absolutely nothing - not a single moment from my time with this man - is very suspicious to me as well, especially since I did not drink that excessively. Either I had already entered a hard sleep, or something else occurred without my permission.
Later on that next morning, I received a call from the trustworthy friends who had been my drinking companions the night before. They called to check on me because they were worried. They had not felt comfortable leaving me with my coworker the previous night, but at the same time had to get home, so trusted that I knew him well enough to be safe. I thanked them for checking in on me, and told them everything was absolutely fine that morning. In reality, I was angry, upset, horrified - but I was also embarrassed, so my response was to pretend like nothing had happened. It was my fault anyway, right? I took one hundred percent of the blame and responsibility. A few days later, when my coworker (who fortunately wasn't working all that often, and who I asked not to be scheduled with again) started texting again and asking for a date, I made up excuses until he gave up. I didn't have the nerve to tell him I thought he was scum, or that I was furious, or horrified. I just made up excuses and waited for it all to go away. I was to blame, after all.
Just days after that incident I was enjoying a game night with close friends at their home. We were all drinking to some extent, so the plan was for everyone who didn't live in the neighborhood, to sleep on the couch or a futon. Sometime later in the night, a friend's brother joined us, someone who I knew by reputation but had interacted with very little. I actually thought he was cute, but too cool to be friends with me anyhow. This was the only person I did not know well and trust, but given that others seemed to, I felt safe enough and eventually went to sleep, with trusted friends nearby. Before long, I awoke to the friend's brother making a move. I was not all that out of it, so I woke fully and for whatever twisted reason took his advances as a compliment. There was some kissing and we agreed to go for a walk.
It was snowy and perfectly quiet in the middle of the night and my new companion was just about as charming as he could be. I enjoyed talking with him and somehow felt comfortable. The whole situation had started to feel like something out of an indie film, so when our walk took us relatively near to my house, I suggested we head there to get out of the cold. I agreed to let him sleep there, but was quite clear that I didn't want sex, especially because neither of us had protection. Still, I was enjoying myself, so kissing continued, and before I knew it he was apologizing. "Sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself," he said. "You're just so hot, and I can't believe you're hanging out with me." I was angry, annoyed, but still somehow charmed (you can see why I'm disgusted looking back. Why did I not send him away immediately? Better yet, why did I not see and call him out for the scum that he was when he made advances toward me, someone he hardly knew, in my sleep?), so I got dressed and went to sleep, allowing him to stay. The next morning, he accompanied me out for coffee and was so outrageously sweet. I was organizing an event at my place of work that evening and he said several times that he wanted to hang out with me, and was going to come by. I actually thought this might be the beginning of something - what a destructive relationship that would have been! - but fortunately he never turned up that evening. I never saw him again.
There is a common thread I see when I look at these three stories together, and that's a lack of confidence - in both myself, and in my rights. It disgusts me that the tiny bit of flattery used in that third scenario was enough to make me excuse such a plain and simple violation. In that situation, I had said no, but the other person chose to do what they wanted anyway. In the first situation, the warm feeling of being wanted likely played a huge role in my silence. In the second scenario, I was too embarrassed to even admit that anything had happened, much less call the person involved out for his actions.
Aside from that I felt a definite lack of power as a woman. The image of rape I had been presented with growing up was one where a woman was in clear danger, and attempted to fight off an attacker to no avail. This image has been a sad reality for far too many women, but it ignores the fact that every woman has the right to choose who she will sleep with. Every woman deserves to be asked whether or not certain actions toward her are acceptable. The opportunist who does not give a woman the chance to say no may be less violent than the men I pictured when I thought of rape, but their behavior is in no way excusable. And yes, women can and do rape men, too. This is no more acceptable, and it saddens me that society paints it as though it's often some sort of privilege for the man.
The bottom line is, everyone has the right to give or deny consent for sex, and no one has the right to take it just because the moment is right. I'm not in a position to say exactly how and what at this point, but a lot of things need to change so that future generations of women and men can grow up knowing this at the very core of their being.
Monday, 30 January 2012
But it's been too long now, almost a year and a half since our second baby was born. The excuses of night waking have gone, the need to sleep whenever I get the chance, the baby is no longer constantly attached to me and not even in the same bed.
I've been over all the possibilities. For a long time I was depressed, but our lives are so much happier now. I wondered - and keep wondering - if I have somehow fallen out of love (or lust) with my husband. And I try and think what I would be like with other men, if I was to be flattered anew by someone different and exciting. For a moment the idea thrills me and then I realise that no, I'd be just as disinterested. I would just be playing a role.
I feel like half a woman. Before children, we had a rampant and intense sex life fuelled by deep rooted love for each other. We talked of having LOTS of babies. I could never have imagined feeling like this and wouldn't have believed it possible.
"What's happened", I ask myself, "What's different? Am I just too exhausted mentally and physically? AM I depressed still?"
My husband has been so patient. We have had our moments of course, but I'm struggling to hide the fact I'd rather be sleeping or just have cuddles. He has issues and insecurities which make it worse, which in turn makes me feel utterly wretched. And yet he doesn't want me to feel like I have any kind of duty or obligation! But I do. How can I not, after all this time?
I just don't know where to go from here. I don't know whether more (some!) quality time with my husband would help or not - I feel it wouldn't make a jot of difference and yet I am feeling more and more estranged from him. Our lives seem to be delineated into being carers, workers and partners in no particular order. And being a partner is just another box, another role to try and fulfil.
I wonder if what I'm feeling is normal in any way, if others have experienced this and how they overcame it. I need to hear that there is a way out of this hell.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
|Image by Getty Images via @daylife|
In tears I made my case to her - it's so embarrassing and upsetting for me to actually talk about it with anyone in person. She looked at me helplessly, halfheartedly suggesting weight watchers and 'getting involved with a group'. I explained to her that I've tried all of this and more, but she didn't really have anything else to contribute.
I needed her to understand how seriously I wanted help. I decided to take the plunge, and I mentioned the D word.
For over 15 years I've contemplated talking to a professional about my depression - something I've never had officially diagnosed, but boy do I know it's there. I have never felt able to ask for help in this. I don't know if it's shame or a feeling that it's 'not that bad' or the belief that nothing I've tried has conquered it so it's unconquerable or just plain discomfort in talking about myself in such a way or something else altogether, but something has always stopped me.
I don't know what changed that day either, but I decided to do what all the ads and recommendations tell you to do - talk to your doctor, right?
I stammered it out, "I think I have depression."
Her expression immediately became skeptical. She asked me a few questions - was I sleeping badly? Yes. Had I experienced any major recent changes? Yes. I don't remember what else but all were answered in the affirmative.
I shamefully added, "I don't even feel as attached to my daughter anymore."
This was gut-wrenching for me to admit.
She sighed. "Would you like me to prescribe you something?"
I almost laughed. "Is that the only solution?"
She went on to again recommend finding myself some sort of support, and suggested I call her in a few weeks to let her know my progress.
My husband had been with me during the visit, and in the car on the way home I cried my frustration. "I just did exactly what I was supposed to do and it was no help at all! Do you have any idea how hard that was?"
He didn't know how to handle it, and he turned on me, suggesting that maybe I just needed more 'willpower' and 'tough love'. It turned into a huge argument for which he later apologized...I think the face of my hopelessness and the response of the doctor was just too hard for him to deal with.
And so it ends. I took the step I'd been contemplating for years, and got absolutely no help at all.
I have no desire to just start taking anti-depressants without even talking to a therapist, and I don't know that I can afford an actual therapist. And while I don't doubt that group counseling is effective, it's not something that's going to happen for me - certainly not in the beginning. I've communicated to all of 2 people in my life that I feel I suffer from depression - there is no way I'm walking into a group of strangers and confessing that.
There is one possible step I see now: a friend gave me the number of a place that provides individual therapy and charges on a sliding scale. It's been on my mind for weeks now to call, but as difficult as it was asking for help the first time, it feels even harder now. I reached my hand out and got burned - badly - and my instinct now is to keep it more to myself than ever before.
At this point in time, I'm not sure. Part of writing this post is a rejection of that instinct to pull it all back. I've never written candidly of this and the anonymity of this blog is the only thing that gives me the freedom to do so - along with the high trust I have in the love and support of the readers here.
I want to call the therapy place, but I know it may not happen.
I mostly just wish it could all be fixed - or over - without me having to ask. Why does it have to be so hard?
Monday, 5 December 2011
|Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/southpaw2305/3415909302/ on Flickr.|
As a young girl I knew I wanted to be a model. I was constantly being told by family friends how beautiful I was and these comments became addictive. I was always so eager to please. I took modeling lessons and entered pageants. Both of which I did well. And being a model was all I ever talked about. During this time my father had remarried and moved out of my grandparents house. His new wife was nice, but just like my grandmother, she was constantly reminding me about my weight.
I loved barbies and playing dress up. My best friend and I would often dress in my stepmothers heels and makeup and play runway down the hall. Then at the age of twelve my father divorced again and moved away. He became depressed and started using drugs and was never home. And my sister went to live with my mom. One day I decided to go on a hunger strike just to see if he would notice.
This is how my eating disorder started. I went almost a month without eating any real food. Crackers if the hunger became too much, and only drank water. My father never noticed, but others did. Other girls would tell me how jealous they were because I was so skinny. And so I kept on not eating. I liked the attention, but I soon realized how hard it is to not eat. Sometimes I would clean or even cut my self, anything to take my mind off of food. After a couple years my dad ended up moving back in with his parents. It was a lot harder to hide around them.
I would wake up early and pretend to have already eaten. Take my food into my room and pretend to eat it there. And sometimes I would just have to eat to not raise suspicion. That's when I discovered throwing up. This was like a god send to me. I could eat whatever I wanted and just throw it up! As I got older and started dating it was always a struggle. I found myself having to throw up a lot more because of dinner dates. I would take dangerous amounts of diet pills, laxatives, and even these pills I ordered that claimed to prevent your body from absorbing fat. I felt sick all the time. I wasn't happy. Food became this sick drug to me. I remember driving to a fast food place and ordering tons of their most fattening foods. Then sitting all alone in an empty parking lot, eating it as fast as I could. Of course not long after I would have to throw it up. I hated myself. My obsession caused me to lose sight of my dreams, and I never became a professional model. I never went to rehab or therapy. I never even told anyone. To this day nobody knows just how bad life was for me.
I got pregnant at 20 and everything changed. Suddenly my body wasn't just mine anymore. I had a life inside me that needed me to take care of myself. Needed me to eat and be healthy. I decided to do the very best for my baby. Be the parent mine never were. I started to appreciate my body. It created life, it was beautiful. And now, two kids later I still love my body. I exercise when I can and try to eat healthy, but I don't care about the extra weight anymore. I am accepting of myself. My body might be soft and not nearly perfect. But when I look in the mirror now, I like what I see.
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
|Photo Credit: Joel Evelyn and Francois on Flickr|
I honor the space you hold here for those of us who need to write and connect about the things that have to get out, but can’t be attached to us. The fear of repercussions is real. The repercussions can be real, as evidenced by many of the anonymous posts here. It is important that this space be available both to free the writer from issues that would fester without being voiced and for the readers to feel less alone when they read something they can’t speak about or when they encounter a new idea that they have yet to wrestle with.
I have contributed here. But, I was careful what it was I shared. There are things I will never post here because I don’t know who is actually reading my words with my identity attached.
Since I don’t know who you are, I am wary of sharing everything. It puts me in a strange space if you know something about me and you read something I wrote or hear something I say that doesn’t talk about the piece I shared here. It can color how I am seen and I won’t even be aware of it. The wondering takes away a piece of safety.
While I honor that you also wish to remain anonymous, it can potentially hold back those who might need to speak, but hesitate because of the unknown people behind the blog.
Thank you for listening.
Always a reader, sometimes a contributor
|Photo Credit: The Advocacy Project on Flickr|