The Center of the Earth

I’ll warn you now, this is not the type of post you’ll want to read if you’re triggered by trauma related topics, specifically, sexual trauma. If you choose to read this, know that it’s full of detailed revelations, not details of my experience. It only looks long but I assure you, it reads easily. That said, here we go…

Many of you are aware of the sexual assault that happened to me when I was 6 years old by a man 70 years my senior. We knew him, he was like the neighborhood grandpa, but that all changed one afternoon. For a very long time, even in this moment, I take some sort of responsibility for this happening. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but is it really? I can argue with you all of my reasons but it won’t change your opinion or mine.

I went to therapy today after work and we have been scratching the surface of my sexual assault. It has been something I have wanted to talk about for a long time in therapy but whenever the subject comes about, I put on my avoidance pants and take a sharp turn toward Nopesville – population: me. It’s not deliberate but it happens every time. My therapist (thankfully) called me out on it today and said that next week we really need to start focusing on that. My request to her was to jerk me back on track when I pull the avoidance card. She laughed and reminded me that avoidance is one of the most significant symptoms of chronic PTSD.

Here’s where this blog gets sticky. Where I feel excessively vulnerable. Where I’m afraid to say what I’m about to say publicly. So why bring it up? Well, for one thing, I know that openly speaking about this means that I am ready for a change – as scary as it might be. For another, I know too many of my friends that are right here with me. I’m giving myself a voice but I’m giving them one too. Here’s your last chance to peace out.

Compliments make me very uncomfortable. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. I’m very good at looking a certain way on the surface but feeling another underneath it all. It’s hard, practically impossible, for me to just accept the compliment and move on. “Why would anyone say something nice about me? They must be just trying to be nice.” Those were the top two lines that ran through my racing mind whenever someone says something nice about me, especially my appearance. But I realized something much deeper today and it’s something so deep that I could only imagine it as being like the center of the Earth. Hard, on fire, nearly impenetrable. Impenetrable. What a disgusting word for such an awful blog topic.

I believe that my sexual trauma is the core of who I am, for the most part. The trauma responses I have to many things, my chronic PTSD, my feelings about myself and the self-sabotaging I’ve done, and the appearance that I’m trying to hide behind. Subconsciously, I believe that if I look a certain way I won’t be found attractive, which is a huge reason why I am so overweight. If I’m not found attractive then someone won’t desire me in the ways that I was desired when I was only 6 years old. “Don’t look pretty, don’t wear that, don’t maintain a healthy weight, don’t put yourself in a position that will draw attention to your looks…” All of those thoughts race through my mind about 10,000 times a day. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with someones size unless we’re talking about the fact that I subconsciously chose to look this way as a deterrent to attention. In my twisted mind, I figured if I was fat, nobody would want me and I would be safe.

I struggle with this because, just last week, I got my hair cut and colored. For two days leading up to the appointment, I thought maybe I shouldn’t go. “Don’t draw that kind of attention to yourself, Aubrey, you don’t want what happened to you before to happen to you. It’ll be your own fault…again.” I went anyway because the side of me that’s advocating for my best and healthiest self won the argument. “I deserve to feel good about myself. I deserve to go have some me time. I work really hard and I deserve to have something that nobody can take from me.” Off I went. I love how it turned out and, for the most part, my new do has been well received, but I didn’t do this for anyone else. I did it for me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when people notice and compliment but thinking about the internal struggles I have with compliments and self-image, I’d be okay if nobody said anything. At least then nobody would make me argue with myself about whether or not I should let that compliment sink in and feel good or if I should push it away and run from it. It’s always such an internal struggle. I’m so tired of arguing with myself about whether or not I should be allowed to feel good about me.

What I realized today is that if I’m told I’m beautiful it makes me vulnerable and scared. “If that person thinks I’m beautiful, is there a chance I’m going to be assaulted again???” I’m so fucked up. Only Aubrey can take a simple compliment and turn it into some sort of sick, delusional, statement. Full disclosure, I realize how emphatically dramatic I sound. I’m even rolling my eyes at myself. As I type this sentence I’m thinking, “Maybe you shouldn’t make this post” but now my mind is shifting into thinking, “…but what if someone else out there feels exactly the same way and they just need to know someone knows what this feels like and that they aren’t crazy, they’re just sad.”

So here it is, folks. I’m sure there will be more on this later, if I’m not too afraid to talk about it. My writing is therapeutic for me. I know I haven’t come back here since the twins left, but many of you know how things are going in my life since this blog typically gets posted to Facebook anyway. I’ll circle back later and talk about my new favorite thing to talk about – my kids! As always, your questions, comments, etc are always welcomed but if you’re going to be a dick then move along.

xo,

a

 

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The End of Week 2

So it’s the end of my second week at my new job. You can read about where I work here. I’m the assistant to the Chief of Resident Treatment. Basically, my boss oversees all of the clinicians at the facility. Because she has a big job, I have a big job. I have quite a few different areas I’m responsible for and it’s nothing like I have ever done before. I really like it!

My Criminal Justice degree is finally being used and the extra work I put in to earn my specialization in violent offenders is paying off, as I knew it would. The fact that I can carry on an informed and educated conversation with people who carry a PhD makes me feel really good about myself, but the fact that I have an understanding of the resident population that I work with makes me feel like it was all worth it. When I was in school, there were a lot of late nights and early mornings, many sacrifices, and it was all worth it. It’s exciting to know I still have the opportunity to learn a lot and I’m loving the work, so far.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they hate the commute. Admittedly, it’s not the most convenient route to work but it’s not as terrible as I feel like it would be to drive to Seattle every day. You have to make sure you’re at the Steilacoom Ferry dock, parked,through the security checkpoint at the dock house, and on the boat by 7:20 AM or else you’re going to wait two more hours for the next boat to come. Our boat only carries McNeil Island employees to/from the island. We don’t pay for parking or the ride over since it’s owned by the facility itself, which is nice because that would add up quickly! Personally, I enjoy the ride over to the island. The water is beautiful and I get to watch the seals, see the porpoises jumping in and out of the water, and if you’re lucky, you get to see the bald eagle. I use the boat ride home as a way to leave all of the “icky” stuff I might hear, see, or read about at work behind. The distance between the island to the mainland is plenty of time to let my day drift off of me so I don’t get burnt out by what could become challenging.

Other than the obvious, one of the unique situations is that you can’t have your phone on you at all. I have to leave mine in my car, so I don’t see or hear from anyone till I get to my car at 4:45 PM. Then I have to drive about 30 minutes home. So I’m seeing 97 Facebook notifications, 29 texts, 3 missed calls, 2 voicemails, 7 Snapchat notifications, and God only knows what else popping up on my phone. I have to admit, it’s kinda like Christmas to see all of that at the end of the day. Even more, I’ve noticed how nice it is to not be distracted by a phone at work all day. And in a place like that, you need to remain alert.

Overall, I think I’m feeling positive about things. I like the people I work with and they seem to like me, I know I can learn and grow professionally there, and I get to be on the water twice a day. For me, that’s a treat, but I’m told will wear off – we’ll see about that. So many of you have been curious to know how things have been going so I thought I’d make it easier to send out a blog post to update everyone. I would love to hear your questions since I didn’t really get into specifics. I’ll answer anything I’m allowed to. Thanks for reading!

xo,

a

 

Pushing Through 

Violent. Sexual. Predators. 
The interview offer came yesterday and the interview was today. I reluctantly accepted after misinterpreting my own boundaries. I was nervous all day yesterday, had nightmares last night, and was terrified today.

I went anyway.

The interview was out on McNeil Island where there used to be a prison. Technically, the prison is still there but it isn’t being used but if you go on the north side of the island you’ll find their compound that houses violent and non violent sexual offenders that have completed their prison time and are being further screened to be sure they are ready to return to civilized society.

Having been a sexual assault victim, I believe I had every right to feel terror about going. Nobody knows what I live with on a day to day basis and I sure as hell wouldn’t want them to. So why go? Trust me, the idea rolled around in the pit of my stomach since the original interview offer came through. Some said I should strongly consider not going, some couldn’t understand why I was scared to go. And then there was my opinion. The only opinion that mattered.

I went because if I let myself cower down then the men that did (or tried) to take advantage of my body still win. I went because I have a degree in Criminal Justice with a specialized focus in Violent Offenders that I spent years of late nights busting my ass to graduate with honors from. I went because it was my way of winning; my way of saying, “Fuck you for the anguish you have brought upon my body, mind, and spirit.” I went because it was my chance to have a say in things. I went because I owed myself the privilege of getting to tour an intriguing and secluded location that many wonder about but few understand.

I was a bit of a mess as I got to the dock to ride the boat. I fumbled through getting my visitors pass. My mouth was dry and my eyes bulged. I smoothed my hair about 10 trillion times. Finally, we set sail and it was a beautiful ride across the Puget Sound. I think it calmed me as I have always been drawn to the water. The more time I spent on the island, the more at ease I was. I needed to see what it was like in order to make an educated decision as to whether or not this was somewhere I would want to work every day. I needed to go for me.

xo,

a