I am a willful person. I have always been willful. I was born that way. Some look at willfulness as a bad thing. Willful people have been described as “type A”, control freaks and hard to be around. Some very willful people have done serious damage to the world in our history. I am sure Adolf Hitler was willful. And in his case, it would be justified to call him a control freak (and many other things).
But there is another side to willfulness. Will may have almost destroyed the world, but it is also responsible for saving the world on many occasions. Will does not have to manifest as violent and controlling. Will is short for willingness. It can manifest as a desire to do something important no matter what gets in the way. I am sure that Martin Luther King was willful … thank goodness.
As I sit here in this beachfront condo and watch the sunrise on the ocean, I can’t help but know that my life is good. So many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. So many people cannot pay their rent. So many people are trapped in minimum wage jobs which require them to work 70 hours per week just to make ends meet. That is not my situation. I work hard for what I have, but I know plenty of people who work hard and still can’t make ends meet. I know that I could lose it all tomorrow, and it may or may not have anything to do with my efforts. I am lucky to be financially secure. I know that.
I also have two beautiful children. Other than soft teeth and one uncooperative eye, they are healthy. They are full of life. They love each day to the fullest and they love me. They are super fun (my son added this point). Most importantly, they are safe. So many people cannot have children. So many people have children with mental, emotional and physical challenges. So many people have lived longer than their children. So many people are unable to keep their children safe because of extreme poverty, homelessness or war. I have not experienced these challenges. I am so lucky to have them. I know that.
‘Vacation’ is a funny word for a single mother of young children. Before having children, the term ‘vacation’ would invoke a feeling of relaxation, but it doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Now it means I will move my exhausted self and young children to a different place, so I can do the same activities with the same unrealistic schedule. Nonetheless, we go to the beach every year.
I pick the beach because it is the least painful of the options. I live within a few hours of numerous beaches so there are no long trips or plane tickets. I don’t have to drag them (and more importantly their stuff) all over a city while trying to keep their attention at tourist attractions that may or may not be appropriate for their age. And to be fair, they love the beach. They start to jump up and down the minute they see the ocean and the sand.
I have spent the majority of my life in various states of anger. For the first thirty years, this anger was mainly turned inward. I didn’t have permission to express anger in my home. The retaliation might have killed me. In addition, society had taught me that it was inappropriate for girls to outwardly express anger. Instead, I just let my anger eat away at me from the inside. This anger manifested in physical diseases. I was sick most of my childhood and early adulthood. But it also caused me to hate myself. I had a deep self-hatred which triggered chronic anxiety. There was no way for me to relax and enjoy myself, or even better, create a life of joy and meaning. There was always an inner voice telling me I wasn’t good enough.
Once I started my recovery, the anger started flowing out in waves. It was so intense that it would be better described as rage. I was scared of it at first. I had seen rage in my childhood and it was usually directed at me. Plus, I had come to the conclusion that anger was bad … all the time. This is what I had been taught. But through my therapy, I learned to accept my anger, and even come to enjoy it a little too much. It seemed powerful to me at the time because I had been powerless for so long. I plotted my parents’ deaths. I visualized a killing spree of every abuser in my life. I fantasized about putting them in prison. I thought of all the statements I would say at their sentencing. I even contemplated their struggles in life after death, and I looked forward to it. I am not ashamed of this anger. It is a normal part of a recovery process.
In the blogging world, there are many fantastic writers who are recovering from abusive childhoods. I enjoy reading what other survivors have to say about the affects of abuse. It is a virtual support group. Surprisingly, I can read articles about sexual violence and be mostly unaffected. I don’t usually get angry because I lived that life, so I have already experienced the anger. And almost nothing shocks me. I have experienced too much to be shocked. With that said, my friend at Behind the Mask of Abuse wrote three little words in her recent post that affected me more than I expected.
She listed some helpful statements when responding to a survivor, and one of those statements was “I believe you”. To most people, this might not seem significant. Most people may think that goes without saying. Most people may assume that someone is going to believe them. Not me. I have always believed the opposite.
I write about parenting often. I write about it because I have experience with parenting. It is important to note that my definition of “experience” is several small victories and a series of situations filed under “what was I thinking?” But I am still a parent, and I have put in my time, so it counts as experience.
Experience is the same reason I don’t usually write about intimate relationships. I don’t know anything about them. I’ve never had one. It doesn’t mean I haven’t dated or been married. I have done that. I am very efficient at marriage. I can get through an entire marriage in just four years. I have done that twice. In case you don’t sense the sarcasm, I am NOT proud of that. Continue reading →
This week has been a big week for the anti-human trafficking movement. I am thrilled with the media attention related to the sting operation. I am also excited that so many of my friends have been interested in the story. I love it when people are talking about this issue because it increases awareness. And awareness means prevention. It is that simple.
That being said, there is something about the extra attention that concerns me. The more people and media outlets discussing an issue, the more potential for misperceptions of the problem. I have read several articles this week discussing how trafficking is not sex trafficking, and sex trafficking is not just about children. This is so true. The media will focus on what brings the most readers, and labor trafficking of adult men doesn’t create the interest. Also, the public is more willing to accept that a girl or boy can be coerced in to sex trafficking. They are less likely to believe that adult women and men could be controlled in that manner. Most people believe that adult women and men are willing participants, which is far from the truth. Continue reading →