Wednesday, November 03, 2010

And now for a spinal PSA

When I went to the hospital for my most recent back injury, the fact sheet they gave me said that one in four Americans will experience disabling back pain in their lifetime. It´s like a modern plague. Being active sometimes helps and sometimes hurts. It´s easy to re-injure yourself by being too active. Typically, without treatment there will be a series of progressively worse injuries over time.

Happily, I found a great physical therapist, and he gave me a list of ways to know you´re pushing it too hard. If your pain is behaving in these ways, take a day off, then gently get back to core strengthening exercises the day after.

1) Pain that spreads from your back to your buttocks, hips, or legs, or if the symptoms are are already having in these areas become more intense or move further down the leg.

2) Pain that steadily increases to an unacceptable level.

3) Increased pain for more than 1-2 hours following an activity that limits what you are able to do.

4) Delayed pain later that day or the next morning that limits what you are able to do.

5) Pain that increases a little bit every time you do something.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

some most important things

1) The person who sexually abused me was sadistic about it, mostly emotionally sadistic. Fear leaves less obvious marks than pain, and she used our fear in very intentional ways. This was about control. As best I remember, she preferred the unwilling. By a lot.

2) The person who sexually abused me was a child herself at the time. She is now one of my closest friends.

This was not an easy process, and obviously it isn´t always a comfortable friendship, but I think it was the most honest thing to do. I genuinely like her and enjoy her company. She is not the same person now that she was as a child. There was a long time of separation, and then I slowly came to know the person she had become as an adult.

As I write these words, that she is not the same, I wonder at them. Am I being honest? Am I hiding from myself? Am I betraying myself? Do I believe this? She´s not as different as I would sometimes like.

But she is not the same. And I believe in forgiveness; I believe in letting people become something different, if they´re desperately trying to, if they´re willing to behave differently, instead of locking them into what they were in your head. Someone who messed up before they were twelve deserves that. This, I unreservedly believe.

3) As far as I can tell, the response (or more often, lack of a response) and the cultural atmosphere in which I grew up did at least as much damage as the actual abuse. This atmosphere consisted significantly of my parents doing their best to create a gospel centered home. I alternate between being angry at God/Mormonism and wanting nothing to do with him. More later on this.

4) My parents, who I love and respect, were very negligent.

5) I am ashamed of all of the preceding items.

What makes trauma trauma is that your brain can´t quite handle it. You can´t grasp that this is actually happening to you. If it is happening to you, and it really, really isn't your fault, that means it could happen any time and it is completely out of your control.

That weigh is crushing, and frequently trauma victims will completely re-invent themselves to avoid it. I caused this, and so I must become as different as possible to stop it from happening again. It doesn´t work, of course; it can always happen again. And once you´ve accepted the adaptive premise that this is all your fault, the shame is permeating, brutal, reasonless, and nearly impossible to contain.

6) Lastly (again), in Andrea Dworkin´s words:

¨As a feminist, I carry the rape of all the women I've talked to over the past ten years personally with me. As a woman, I carry my own rape with me. Do you remember pictures that you've seen of European cities during the plague, when there were wheelbarrows that would go along and people would just pick up corpses and throw them in? Well, that is what it is like knowing about rape. Piles and piles and piles of bodies that have whole lives and human names and human faces.¨