Saturday, March 1, 2014

February's Most Read Post: Surviving in Numbers

a repost --

Earlier this week I posted this as my Facebook status --

Number of abusers: 6 / Years since abuse stopped: 22 / Years since I first told anyone: 13 / Years married to a wonderful supportive man: 28+ / Children: 2 / Blog posts read: over 80,000 / Friends who support me daily: innumerable 

It was the result of having looked at this Surviving in Numbers post via Tumblr.

After posting my status I got that old feeling again. The one where my body starts telling me I've done something really bad. My head begins to hurt. My shoulders round over my body. My stomach beings to grumble. My breathing becomes shallow.

I kept looking back at my impromptu list, and thinking I should revise it. I should have given it more thought before throwing it out into the universe. I should have explained certain things. 

And that's when I saw it. The "shoulds" had returned. 

I used to live my life based on a very long list of "shoulds". Most of them had something to do with what others might think about me or my family if I expressed my feelings. 

I saw those lists of numbers that other survivors had posted and it made me think about my experiences in a numerical way. The first number that popped into my head was the number of abusers. When I started this journey, I believed there was 1. One person who had made me do some things I wished I hadn't done. Years of talking and journaling have led me to understand that that one person abused me. I had no choice or control in any of it. All that work also made it possible to recognize other people and events as abusers and abuse. 

The next number that popped into my head was how many times it had happened. The problem with that number is that I have no idea. I think I "should" know, but I don't. There is a part of me that wants and needs to catalog each episode so that I can categorize and order them, because that will somehow help me understand them. Wishful thinking. Maybe even magical thinking

At that point I stopped thinking and just started typing. Realizing that the list could go on and on. 

Number of therapists I tried to get some help from: 8

Number of years since the abuse started: 48

Number of journals filled with writing: at least 10

Number of magazine articles written: 1

Number of groups I've spoken to about abuse: 4

Number of blog posts about the abuse: over 200

Number of degrees obtained: 3 (high school, college, masters level)

Number of years of mothering: 24

And that's the point at which I understood what the Tumblr post was really about. It's not about the abuse. It's about what I've done in spite of the abuse. For me, the abuse has provided a platform, but it's a platform that has led to so much more than dealing with abuse. 

I am a survivor, but more importantly I am a wife, mother, librarian, writer, reader, cook, artist, and child of God. The only things that really matter.


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