the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


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REBLOG: Masks Aren’t a Precious Asset (mattheweatonwriter.com)

From Matthew Eaton: Writer | Child Abuse Survivor, Writer, Blogger- Finding My Voice One Post At A Time

Masks Aren’t a Precious Asset –.

Matt is using WordPress.org, which is the full-on, DIY, self-hosted WP.  Maybe there’s a plug-in that would allow WordPress.com-style reblogging, but, none that I know of.  If I wasn’t so horridly in pain, I would have done the proper blog thing and wrote up a lovely comprehensive post of my own, instead of using the “Press This” bookmarklet.

Anyways, to my point- someone caught me wearing my mask a few weeks ago.  I waited for things to blow over before making an apology, but, they didn’t, and I was compelled by said person’s spouse to give one.

Please, read Matt’s post, to understand this mask analogy.

 


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Taken out of Context and Other Stressors

English: Example Project Context Diagram

English: Example Project Context Diagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post isn’t going to be as polished as I would like.

But as the title indicates, one of them is being taken out of context.  Dear readers, those of you who are actively reading and communicating with me, please rest assured this isn’t you.  Actually, anyone that has even left a “Like”, I assure you, it isn’t you.

I was given a name, but I’m not sure who it was.  This person, however, felt the need to sound the alarm to an extended family member, hmm, like an in-law of an in-law, if you will, over something I said in one paragraph in a very long blog post.  I gave very few specifics, but this person connected the dots in such a way that they thought a Yellow Alert was needed.

Cthulhu Warning

Yeah, this sums it up pretty well, I think. Image credit: Oscar J. Baeza (as seen at Flickr)

And then our telephone rang.  Cimmy answered it, and even after much wrangling like Abbott and Costello in “Who’s On First?” to figure out who’s tongue started wagging in the first place, I still have no idea whom this person might be.

The weather is still wracking my nerves, and today was stressful enough- much shouting, crying, and such from various family members.  Princess put a few more cuts on her arm.  I told her she should use a clean blade, not a soda can.  Now, now, dear readers… I’d rather she not at all.  I was worried she used one of my shaving razors, but yes, I did say that, explaining I thought it better not to risk infection.

And yes, there’s still a lot of hurdles for getting therapy covered.  I don’t want to force her into anything– no way would I want her having similarly terrible experiences as I did.


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Why!?

Tired. Reblogging something from a Twitter chatmate about CSA within family, and trauma bonds. She mentions Matt Eaton; he & I have discussed this as well. Will write more as energy allows.

The Redheaded Wonderblog

A new (and very supportive) Twitter friend of mine, the @RealMattEaton, and I have an unfortunate common bond: childhood abuse by our family. Matt and I “met” in a Monday night #sexabusechat and have shared a few meandering conversations since.  For some reason, he always seems to be around in the Twitterverse and responds at just the moment when I need to be tweeted off the ledge. After my last therapy session, I was processing a few of my thoughts via Twitter and definitely needed to talk to someone who *gets it.* There was Matt again, ready to lend an ear. I am in awe of and very grateful for his repeated selflessness.

Anyway, as we messaged about my past and my tumultuous relationship with my parents, he asked me a question that, while I have certainly pondered in general terms, have not really been asked or asked myself so…

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Procrastination, Perfectionism and Blogging Perspective

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SanitySign-PP-crossing (Twitter)

I came up with this image to illustrate the topic for Trauma Recovery University‘s topic this week (which includes the #CSAQT and #sexabusechat Twitter chats as well as their Google Hangout video).

I was going to edit it into An Artist’s Journey: Get the Balance Right! but decided to give the image a post of its own, particularly after reading about the Community Pool at the Daily Post.  I figured it would be good to make some space here for bloggers to offer some feedback; I’m still trying to figure out what I must be missing after 11+ years of blogging and several reworks!

A few of you have been very kind to offer some feedback recently, but I could still use some help, dear readers.  Please be gentle; perfectionism and procrastination really is a stumbling block for me- not just in blogging.

What can I do to invite more conversations with you here?

Or am I just lost in my own little world?  (That’s okay; they know me here.)

Please let me know, in the comments below.


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A Survivor’s Journey: The Challenge of Triggers & the Media

Words are not coming easily to me right now.  This is a really difficult subject.  But I know it’s important, so I give you dear readers my thoughts on how media reporting can be very insensitive to abuse survivors, particularly for those still recovering from sexual abuse.

A change of topic

This week the topic for #CSAQT, #sexabusechat, and the Google Hangout on Air for Trauma Recovery University was going to be about procrastination.  That topic has been pushed back a week, and the topic now is “How to cope with news, the media and triggering stories”.

Image credit: gender-focus.com It’s WordPress content, which I think is always a bonus

(Given this acknowledgement, please note that trigger warnings start now.)

I panicked a bit at this abrupt change.  I perceived that the impetus for this change was that a number of people in the U.S.-based chat (#sexabusechat) were reeling from the news stories about Josh Duggar.  I think the article for him on Wikipedia summed it up best:

In May 2015 it became public that when Duggar was between the ages of 14 and 15 years old, he molested five girls, some of whom were his sisters.

I was reassured by Bobbi Parish that topic focus would remain neutral, and that discussion of specific news stories would be stopped, in order to avoid further triggers for participants.

Image credit: wizbangblog.com

Now, I have thoughts of my own in regards to patriarchial blowhards having their dirty laundry revealed, which I’ll get to later.  What triggered me very hard recently was news stories about women sexually assaulting teenage boys– the likes of Mary Kay LeTourneau, Debi LaFave, Linda Lusk, and Shelley Dufresne– and the media revisiting many of their lives, often with a perspective that I find whitewashed.

I also noted that many Twitter users in the UK, including those attending #CSAQT had their own news stories that they found re-traumatizing and difficult to swallow, including investigations of government officials and entertainment figures, including Jim Saville, Rolf Harris, and in particular of late, Greville Janner.

Please bear with me, dear readers.  It is a real challenge for me to articulate my feelings on so much of this, in a way that is not ugly or accusatory.  There are so many thoughts, feelings, and experiences I’ve had– many of them that actually shaped my understanding about my abuse, my recovery, and how so many friends and family around me experienced such as well; sometimes as victims, and sometimes as perpetrators.

Accusations and learning the real nature of rape

Cycle of DV, but it seems to apply here. Image credit: helpguide.org

.In early 1993, I was trying to piece myself back together.  I had been accused of raping my girlfriend at the time, by one of her roommates.  Now I knew that The Roommate was a survivor of incest, because The Girlfriend told me so.  She also had warned me that her roommate was convinced that I would rape her, and we were caught in a compromising position that The Roommate was certain was proof.  She demanded that The Girlfriend call police, which she did, although she didn’t press charges.  What did me in, so to speak, was that I trusted too many of my peers, trying to assuage my pain, and the rumor mill went into overdrive, which led to my church bishop at the school (this was an LDS-affiliated junior college) withdrawing his endorsement, and my ultimate expulsion.  The rumor mill had already been shaming me for my emerging sexuality with women; I have no idea if they were fully aware of my emerging sexuality with men.  (That would come two schools later.)

I didn’t understand everything The Girlfriend told me, but a lot of it started falling into place talking with my youngest sister.  One story she shared was about one of her friends.  She disapproved of her promiscuous choices, but she was sure much of it stemmed from the fact that her friends’ father had been molesting her friend, and that she therefore was confusing sexual activity with affection.  It dawned on me then that much of what The Girlfriend was telling me was indicative that her father had molested her, and I told my sister as much.  It certainly explained the attitudes she described about her father criticizing her clothing and her beauty– and that her roommates were accordingly protective of her.

Another story that my sister told me around the same time was that a friend of hers had been molested by her brother.  She was very upset because there was such a heavy emphasis on her friend “forgiving” her brother, and that said brother was being allowed to serve a mission for our church.  She very much felt that such a serious wrong had not been properly addressed.

At that time of my accusations, I felt that I was guilty.  This wasn’t the very first time I explored intimacy with a girl, but it was the first time it was explicitly sexual, including heavy petting.  But I was repressed enough that I didn’t really know how certain things worked.  At the time, I didn’t know what mutual masturbation was.  All I knew was, “If I have done this to her, why do I feel like I’m dying inside when she does it to me?”  Now, years later, my sister and I further discussed attitudes in our church culture.  She described to me an attitude of “boys just can’t help themselves”, with a heavy emphasis of vigilance handed to the girls.  I told her that I experienced heavy shame as a young man by contrast, that I was deeply shamed for my sexual curiosity.

Now I say I felt guilty because I believed The Roommate’s accusations.  About a year later in 1994, I started reaching out on the Internet, and shared my story with a rape survivor.  My worldview began to change when she told me I was definitely NOT guilty.

The darkness of child abuse

It was almost another 10 years before I really started coming to grips with my mother abusing me- the sexual abuse at age 6, and the many, many years of emotional abuse.

It would be well over a half decade before I realized even more implications.

Please note, dear readers, that the next part I talk about I describe sparsely, because it’s not my story to tell.  But I can certainly empathize a bit with my UK friends.

A few years ago, one of my in-laws was investigated by the FBI, as child porn was discovered on their computer.  Please, dear readers, I ask that you suspend harsh judgment.  I’ve had to make some very hard decisions, along with my wife Cimmorene, on how photos of our children are to be shared on the Internet, and I feel that it has been harder, based on the implications of this issue.  I do not feel danger from this relative (I feel that they have addressed this to the extent that they do not pose a threat), but, I am concerned about other users.  I also have a very difficult time accepting nudity of young boys as art– I very firmly believe that even that should be avoided.  But I can’t force this relative not to view certain media; I can only make rules about photos of my children.  Please understand that I am much more concerned about the company of users said relative keeps, rather than the relative in particular.

I’ve written about fears of pedophilic predators threatening my family on the Internet before.  I won’t link to them at this time.

What bothers me about media portrayals

I think the common thread that I will eventually discuss with others in chat is that the media, as I said before, are not reporting matters of sexual abuse in a way that is sensitive to survivors.

For example, what bothered me about media stories concerning women like Mary Kay LeTourneau and Linda Lusk was that certain media outlets, in my opinion, were whitewashing their stories.  In particular, ABC News and the news show 20/20 revisited Mary Kay LeTourneau recently.  I, Bobbi, and others I know were very upset that Barbara Walters referred to the sexual abuse as “an affair”.

Bobbi summarized her thoughts in Mary Kay LeTourneau is Not a Lover, She’s a Rapist.  To summarize what I said in response (as it appeared on the Good Men Project):

MKLT presented her story as love, not rape.  So many years later, it almost seemed like Barbara Walters and 20/20 chose to believe that narrative– “See, she was right.  It was about love all along.”

But it’s still rape, although it would seem that that when women sexually assault men, their motives and perspective are rather different than that of male perpetrators.  Yet it’s still about power and control, not reciprocal intimacy.

And yes, I do feel like the media all too often serves it up like titillating porn.  There seems to be a double standard here.  If Mike LaFave is right– that women like his ex-wife Debi do it to reassure themselves of their youth and beauty– then the news stories reinforce that idea.  The stories that seem to get the most press show photos of female offenders with well-applied makeup and aesthetically good looks.  Sometimes, they are even smiling.

A selfie by Shelley Dufresne, allegedly from her Instagram account, and believed to be in response to her light court sentence. Probably not wise when under the spotlight of public opinion. Image credit: posture.doonks.com

The final analysis

But as I think really hard about it, one thing seems to be consistent.  Whether the media reports on men or women committing sexual crimes, they seem to reinforce old gender stereotypes.  The male perpetrators are handling the situation, and the female perpetrators are still young and beautiful.  If the male perpetrators are not handling the situation, well, they are old, and their mental health is failing.

For the news sites that still allow commenting, some of the worst stereotypes come out in the comments as well.  Such comments I remember on teacher sex crimes went something like this:

  • “The kid probably initiated it, not the teacher!”
  • “I doubt that boy feels victimized.  He likely feels lucky!”  (Usually, the news story said that that school officials became aware of the incident, because victims were ‘bragging’ to other students.)

Most comments I’ve seen generally don’t condone such ideas, but, I’ve seen at least a few perpetrate such prejudice.

I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is.  Hopefully, I will get some insight in the next couple of days, from chatmates and other Twitter friends.  I suspect that possible solutions will include setting limits and boundaries as to media consumption, and to strategically determine the best times, places, and circumstances to speak out.  It’s possible that some may say that the writing process is one way to do that, as well as a means of coping in healthy ways.

 


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Compassion for the Survivors

I have done a lot of artwork for Trauma Recovery University, to illustrate concepts I am learning about.

In #sexabusechat tonight, someone wrote about wanting to embroider “Knock It Off” and “Made With Love” on a pillow.  Others came up with additional phrases, and I thought they would go well on conversation hearts:

and I remembered that Rachel Thompson had shared a conversation hearts generator some time, back during the Valentine’s season.  So I put a few phrases through that generator, and put it to a collage.  The following was the result:

Collage of Survivor Conversation Hearts. Made with cryptogram.com and collage.com

Now, there is more to be found, but, I figure that it’s just easier to point you dear readers to my Pinterest board.  I avoided Pinterest for the longest time, figuring it was more for moms sharing recipes and the like (like my youngest sister does), but, collecting images on survivorship and recovery from abuse on Pinterest made sense to me, and so I joined.

Oh.  Right.  I guess it’s time to connect my Pinterest account to this blog.  For now, you may find me at https://www.pinterest.com/jaklumen/. The main board I add to is “jak & #NoMoreShame”, but, I do see now that it helps me manage visual content, and so I have a board for Monomyth images, too.

Special thanks to Serins for spotlighting this image

AthenaMoberg-empathyfor 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, and showing me that my artwork can have an impact, far beyond where I initially put it out.

Why Trust is Worth It – With Ze Frank & Cirque du Soleil

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I’m more familiar with Ze Frank’s humorous videos, but he does some serious ones every now and then.

This one hit home for me, very deep.  Trust is hard for survivors, especially when it’s been ripped from us at a tender age and often in brutal ways, sometimes in ways that can’t easily be seen or even noticed.

Please, dear readers, watch this video.  It’s relatively short, but I am sure it will be worth your time.

p.s. I’m still on hiatus, sort of.  I’ll be happy to respond to your comments, but things are still pretty raw and painful right now.  If I don’t get back to you right away, know that I will get back to you, in time.  Thanks for your support, and understanding– as always!


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jak is down for (re)construction

Dear readers,

I am in a dark, dark, dark spot– hopefully the last of dark, before the light.

I feel SO angry.  I feel SO betrayed, SO used.

I don’t know how to explain it without risking alienating some of you, without risking losing your support.  Maybe I’ll be able to talk about it some when I get back.

But I’ve got to go away for a while.  Go away and see if I can get some of these festering inner wounds to heal.  Go away and hope that maybe others will forget, although I will probably always remember, and probably never EVER trust them again.

I know that I’m dealing with cPTSD.  I… don’t expect you to ever understand, unless you’re experiencing this, too.

This is an image I found by way of Google Image search– but it’s from a dear woman named Lilly (https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com) who I’ve talked to some. She is AWESOME. She knows this. She is one who has really helped me understand cPTSD; because she’s been there. I aspire to her courage, openness, and strength.

Goodbye for now, dear readers.  I hope to be back soon.  We’ll see.


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The Wilderness

Please read. A subtext of the Hero’s Journey is Jungian archetypes and reconnecting with the true feminine and masculine. Robert Bly (Iron John: A Book about Men), Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette (King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine), Marion Woodman (The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine, with Robert Bly) and many others have written about this.

Elisabeth writes about taking the Path of the Wilderness, and resurrecting the inner feminine that she had rejected in the face of childhood abuse.

Beating Trauma

boardwalk-142632_1920

As a trauma survivor in recovery, I have spent a long time in the wilderness. It isn’t an actual wilderness. I am not a fan of the outdoors. Nature and my dissociative defense mechanism are not compatible. I am speaking of the wilderness that is often the subject of the spiritual texts. It seems that before most protagonists find their mission or purpose, there is some period of waiting. There is some period of preparing, of letting go of the old.  And it makes sense to me. I don’t see another way. If the foundation is shaky, it cannot be built upon.

But I hate it.

I carry a large amount of masculine energy with me. I rejected that which was feminine many years ago in my attempts to avoid the loathing that my parents spewed upon their little girls. I figured that if the feminine was so easily abused…

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Compassion for the Bullied

So, a 1000 Voices for Compassion marches on.  I’m late as usual– the 20th was my wife Cimmorene’s (@wavemistress) birthday, and I simply did not have time, or rather, the energy, to line up a post that quickly.

I’m going to broach a more sensitive subject than just the idea of simply bullying.  It’s bullying of a sexual nature– better known as slut shaming.956ed-sexualabuse5

I don’t expect any of you dear readers to understand that it happened to me.  I don’t even expect any of you to understand that it can happen to men.  Not even Wikipedia editors seem to acknowledge such very much at all.  But if you figure you’ll do your best anyways, and consider yourselves sufficiently warned of possible triggers, than I invite you to read on.

The tough stuff starts here

Work In Progress v. 2I’ve been busier on Twitter lately, because, to be quite blunt, I have a support network there, and they haven’t recoiled in horror when I’ve shared my story, the way some bloggers have.  They’ve lived the grit and the shit of childhood sexual abuse, and although I’d say a lot of them have had it far worse than I did, they welcome me regardless.  Because of the great stigma men face with this issue, I am overwhelmingly outnumbered by women, but there are a few men, and a few amongst that small section that are quite actively championing the cause of survivorship and trauma recovery.

A supportive Twitter chat friend introduces me to the UnSlut Project

http://unslutproject.tumblr.com/press

Image credit: Emily Lindin and The UnSlut Project, by way of Tumblr. Link image for source

If you’re not familiar with the UnSlut Project, I invite you to go check out the website really quick, and then come back here.  I think the context is important.

A friend from #sexabusechat (Stewart- @gottogetoutof) does all he can to get word out about resources for sexual abuse survivors.  One day he retweeted some Tweets from Emily Lindin and the UnSlut Project.  I was intrigued and decided to check it out.

Once I learned what the issue was about, I felt an impression that I should share my story.  I was reluctant to at first; much like a lot of domestic violence and abuse in general, the issue has been framed as women as the targets/victims, and men as the aggressors/abusers.  Even if men are targeted– fairly rarely is it said that a woman perpetrated the abuse.  Then I got a DM from Emily asking for financial support (since part of the project is a documentary film).  I thought the message was automated at first, but she very sweetly and congenially reassured me that it wasn’t.  I asked her if I might share my story, and she enthusiastically agreed.

My sexual bullying story starts here

I tried to keep things short.  I’m prone to tangents and ramblings.  I didn’t talk about all the instances that women were quite cruel to me in a sexual way.  But I will simply add that I was always bothered– whether it was in childhood or as an adult, in college.  One story is just too embarrassing to share so openly, right now.  So here’s the message I sent to the site, in (most) of its ugly glory:

Dear Emily,

I’m writing with the hopes that when people read my story, they realize that this is not a gender-based issue. It’s not an issue where only men are the aggressors, and women are the targets. Sexual bullying and slut shaming can happen to anyone.

During the middle of my college/university experience a little over twenty years ago, I somehow caught the attention of a sorority girl in one of my classes at a small private college. I was still socially awkward at that time, and her rather energetic nature and interest made me a little nervous. I blurted out, “don’t have an orgasm, now!” after a nerve-wracking conversation one day, which I realize now was totally inappropriate.

But I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of revenge from her sorority sisters. I was harassed repeatedly by e-mail, telephone, and even in person. This continued even when the campus police got involved. It didn’t stop until I left the school.

Thankfully, that experience didn’t follow me to university, but, I remember walking across the street when a convertible pulled up and a young woman leaned out and said, “Yeah, baby. Shake it!” For some reason, that triggered memories of being mercilessly teased in middle school by boys that thought I wiggled my buttocks too much when I walked. Even though I doubt her comment was homophobic like theirs were, I still felt like an objectified piece of meat.

I know that men in our society are encouraged to welcome sexual attention. Yet how can it be welcomed when it’s unwanted and degrading? I think most guys know the difference, and no amount of swagger (or retaliatory insult) covers up the hurt. It’s not cool, and it’s not “studly”. It’s abusive.

A quick thanks to my friends at the No More Shame Project/Trauma Recovery University, who’ve given me courage to heal from childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. Survivors can be vulnerable to this sort of bullying. Please use my real name; I’ve come far enough that I don’t need to be ashamed anymore.

Jonathan/”jaklumen”

I don’t think the story has been added to the site, yet.  I can say it’s a rare one– most of the stories are from women, and one gay guy last I checked.  It frustrates me that society filters this issue by way of gender and sexuality.  Granted, I’m actually bisexual by way of orientation, but, I still don’t think that it directly has anything to do with it– women are capable of sexually bullying a man, just as they are capable of raping a man.  Attitudes and definitions may not have caught up, but, that’s my experience.

Some final thoughts

I don’t expect you to understand, or agree, right way.  I do not expect accolades to my bravery or courage in speaking out.  I do not expect many comments on this post, at all, even negative ones, although I fear someone will come along and reply with smack talk.  I’m not looking for praise, high regards, or any of that.

I’m simply tired of the bullshit and the lagging attitudes, so I’m saying my truth.  It is what it is.

See also Compassion for the Sensitive