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Working/Writing Through It

August 8th, 2010

After finishing my book, after a kazzilion edits and rewrites, I really thought I was done with my whole history and wouldn’t need to dive deeply back in ever again. When I coach and speak, I do talk about my history, but I don’t really dig deep into the feelings behind the story because it isn’t necessary for that work.

When I was asked to write a screenplay based on my book, I considered it carefully because I knew I would have to get back in. I would have to climb back down the well and get into those feelings again. But the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. This would be a way to help spread the story further to more people and hopefully get them talking more about mental health. And help remove the secrecy and stigma. Always that.

What I didn’t realize was how different the writing is. Not only am I writing about it again, but in a whole new way. Writing for the screen is so much different, which I knew on one level having written other things, but not enough to prepare for how this is.

Thinking about how the camera will view it pushes me to write the action much more precisely. When I get to every abuse situation, I write it out so graphically that no one would ever be able to act it, let alone film it and watch it. So after I get done writing it out so completely, I then have no problem going back and editing it into something much more appropriate. I get the abuse across without making it an XXXX film.

But first, I have to get so thoroughly in it that it hurts. It’s taking a toll on me. I take breaks for days at a time. On the other hand, I’ve never worked through these feelings and experiences on this deep a level before and it’s healing. It’s good.

There is sex after sexual abuse

June 3rd, 2010

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I wasn’t sure that I would ever be able to fully enjoy a sexual experience as an adult.  For a long time, I didn’t know what to enjoy it even meant.  The side effects were shame, guilt, panic, and suicidal thoughts.

The first time I had sex, I was drunk.  That set the theme for me from that point on, I couldn’t participate in any type of sexual activity unless I was drunk or on some type of mind altering drug.  Even then, the “ick” came through at the end of the experience and sometimes lasted for days.

Then, I got sober and EVERYTHING became harder to carry out.  I was used to functioning high during the day and drunk at night.  I was in a relationship at the beginning of my sobriety and it wasn’t going so well at the time.  Within the year, we would have broken up for the last time after many attempts over a five year period.

Between that time and me being five or six years sober, sex usually meant I would have some type of panic attack.  Before, after, during.  A lot of times during and I would cry.  I tried to warn my partners that sometimes I get a little weird and cry.  Most of them seemed to understand and were compassionate.  (I now know that this is a common experience for most women and even some men.)

Around three years sober, I found myself wanting to die more than I wanted to live and I went to get some help.  For the next three years, I saw this therapist and she guided me through the Courage to Heal Workbook.  I hated almost every hour of it, and would frequently cancel appointments with her.  We did some major work in that whole area and I thought it was going to kill me.

In one of the early sessions I asked her if she thought I would ever be able to move beyond the problem, she told me I would if I did the work.

I believed her.

She said it would always be a part of me, but if I did the work I could rearrange the reactions and find coping skills for the parts it left behind.

No one had ever said that to me before.

During that three year period with her, I was single and celibate.  It didn’t help that I gained a bunch of weight and basically didn’t care much for my outside appearance.  This is a typical side effect when you are working through major stuff like that.  It won’t last forever.

It was a really, really fucked up time for me and I knew I was transforming myself for the good, but afraid of what I would end up with.  It would prove to be one of the most important things I could’ve ever done for myself, and beyond my wildest dreams.

I would’ve liked to just fast forwarded to the good part (being able to enjoy sexual relations) but there wouldn’t have been a good part if I hadn’t trudged through the bad part.

Oddly enough as I got better towards the end of the three year work, I started losing weight without even trying.  I started cleaning my apartment, getting rid of things I didn’t need and my life seemed to almost get itself in order.

This would prove to be a benefit for doing the actual work in therapy, one I hadn’t anticipated.

As for my sexual situation, that got better too.  MUCH BETTER.  I tried things I’d never tried, I was fully present, and I finally got what people were talking about, and I wanted to make up for lost time.

I’ve wanted to write something like this for a long time, I want people to know that we can recover in a way that allows us to enjoy certain aspects of life.  By no means am I “cured” and I’ve had flashbacks here and there (depending on what is going on in my life at the time) but it doesn’t paralyze me anymore and I can talk myself through most situations.

It does not paralyze me any more.

We all deserve a healthy sex life, and I’m certain that all of us on some level, whether you were abused or not have struggled with sexual issues.  I blame religion for a lot of it.

It’s a taboo subject (much like mental illness), and the only way I have found to heal is by discussing it with a trusted source that helped me to find my way back to the present in order to enjoy so many things we never dreamed of actually enjoying.

Sex is CAN be good and it CAN be your friend.

Five Year Cycle – Part Two

December 8th, 2009

Part One Here
By Muriel Lipke

Part Two

My life evened out pretty quickly following that episode and the start of therapy. I was diagnosed with “situational depression” and “anxiety.” I worked for about a year to process the death of one of my abusers and compartmentalize it so that I could go on living my life in as normal a fashion as possible. In the spring of 2005 I finished therapy and wasn’t on drugs anymore and was generally feeling pretty good…

Flash forward to the spring of 2007. I was under a great deal of stress, working at a new job, in a exceptionally demanding field. My boyfriend (the love of my life) had broken up with me in 2005 (before I finished therapy, even) and we were still friends. Since that time I had begun dating someone new — who ALSO broke up with me — right after I started the high stress job. Like seriously, the day I started the damn thing…

I floated along, doing okay for a while – though I was clearly withdrawing from my friends and family – and, starting to spin out of control. I was drinking a lot – I mean, I’ve always liked to party – but, it was becoming a pretty regular habit. And, I didn’t like that. So I balanced the party out with excessive exercise, running three miles in the morning, every morning and another couple of miles on my elliptical trainer after work every night. I was working about 70-90 hours a week.

Sometime in April I noticed that I would occasionally hear this weird humming or ringing in my ears. Shortly after that I began having toothaches. I went to the dentist and he told me that it looked like I was grinding my teeth. My hands – which had always shook a bit – were so unsteady that I couldn’t hold a pencil or pen and perform anything that required fine motor function outside of typing. I began to get headaches – lots of headaches. In general, I was feeling pretty poopy.

At the end of May, over Memorial Day Weekend, I ran a half-marathon. I then went out that evening and partied to celebrate with my friends. I actually called it quits pretty early and hadn’t consumed that much booze, because I remember thinking I was pretty damn sober when I walked up the stairs into my apartment. I went to bed and slept fairly well until about 5 am when I woke up because my heart was pounding in my chest.

I was – for some reason – exceptionally frightened. I was having irrational thoughts and my hands were clenched at my side. I laid there for about an hour, trying to calm myself into going back to sleep, when finally I realized that wasn’t going to happen I decided to get up and go for my run. I flipped on MSNBC (as I did most mornings) and started the coffee pot which I had set up the night before. When the coffee was done I pulled the pot out of the cradle to pour myself a cup and couldn’t hold it. My hand couldn’t make a grip and the pot slipped out of my hands and crashed on the floor at my feet, splashing hot coffee all over me.

At the same time, a shooting pain went up my left side, through my torso and shoulder. I suddenly couldn’t breath and I began to have tunnel vision.

I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to get into my bedroom and called my Mom. I told her what was happening and that I was really scared that I was having a heart attack (because that’s what I thought it felt like) and that I wanted her to tell me what to do.

“Go to the hospital,” she said, “Right now.”

I called a cab and took myself to San Francisco General Hospital where I was seen by a doctor who told me that I was not having a heart attack, but a massive anxiety attack. I talked the doctor out of calling down a psych consult and took a cab home. I called my Mom and told her what they had told me at the hospital. And, I told her that I thought that there was something else wrong with me and that I felt like I couldn’t deal with it in San Francisco on my own and that I wanted to come home.

She agreed with me and two weeks later my friends had helped me pack my apartment into storage and I was on a plane headed home for the summer.

The first month or so that I was home was so fucking frustrating. After that breakthrough anxiety attack it was like I was a huge raw nerve just hanging out into the world. Everything and everyone set me off. I didn’t want to eat or sleep or see my friends or family… I just kind of sat in my bedroom at my parent’s house waiting for the medication that I’d been given at the hospital to do something.

One day while I was at my parent’s vacation house with my Mom, I decided I wanted to give myself a pedicure. It was a disaster: First I spilled an entire bottle of polish remover on the carpet while trying to take my old polish off my toes. Then I couldn’t form a steady grip in order to paint my toenails. I tried and my hand shook so badly that I smeared polish all over my foot. This happened three times before I lost my shit and threw the open bottle against a wall. My Mom came upstairs when she heard me sobbing. She found me slumped down in the hallway, crying hysterically, over something as stupid as painting my toenails.

“What’s the problem?” She asked.

“My hand won’t stop shaking enough to paint my toes,” I cried to her, “And, I spilled polish remover and then I got mad and threw my nail polish at the wall.”

My Mom was really shocked, though she knew that there was something seriously wrong with me, this was the first time since I was a teen that she’d seen me break down like this… She got me calmed down and took me downstairs where she painted my toes for me. It was comforting and humiliating at the same time.

My boyfriend (the love of my life) called me several times that first month and I talked to him about what had happened. He helped me come up with a list of questions to ask the doctor when I was able to see one. I ended up going to see my family practitioner who ran some tests on me and told me that he thought that the problem was that my brain wasn’t making enough serotonin to be healthy.

Eventually the medication combination that he gave me kicked in and I started to feel a lot like my self again. At the end of the summer I was ready to go back to San Francisco and resume my normal life.

Five Year Cycle – Part 1

November 23rd, 2009

By Muriel Lipke

Part One

Shortly after I moved to San Francisco in 2004 I received a phone call from an uncle on my biological father’s side of the family telling me that my paternal grandfather had died. I remember sitting at my desk and asking my uncle if he had called to tell me anything else. When he said “no” I hung up the phone without even saying goodbye. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t cry – why would I? My grandfather, along with my father sexually abused me from the age of four until the age of thirteen. I hadn’t even seen the man since I was 18, when I confronted them both as part of my therapy, demanding that they admit what they had done to me as a child.

For that matter, I hadn’t seen father-dearest since I was 23 when he told me that I was an “ungrateful child” whom he regretted was ever born. That was around about the time that I was in the middle of my first and only divorce – having married a man a few years previous who was just as abusive as my father was. I think that my father liked my ex-husband better than me because he saw himself in him. I know I saw father-dearest in my ex and that horrified and frightened me so much that I could barely move. Getting out of that marriage was the first step in many that I took for myself in order to get well.

Or, at least be better than I was.

Deciding to not have contact with the people who abused me and/or facilitated that abuse was the second.

So father-dearest got banned.

My boyfriend of several years was laying on our bed reading a book when I got the news of the old man’s passing. As I put the phone down in its cradle he asked me, “What was that about?”

“My grandfather died,” I said with no emotion in my voice what-so-ever, “You know – the one – who did those things… he died.”

“Good riddance,” he said, “Are you okay?”

My boyfriend was (is) a social worker and he’d been maintaining since he had met me that he thought I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to my abuse as a child. I probably was, in addition to suffering from the clinical depression and anxiety that I knew about already, but I was stubbornly resisting going back into therapy. I thought that my work there was done after several years of weekly therapy (five years previous) and a drug regimen. I considered my “issues” compartmentalized and put away where they appropriately belonged and wanted to get on with the business of living my life without having the stigma of mental illness – situational or genetic – tacked onto me.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I said.

That night I had to take a sleeping pill for the first time in a year so I could fall asleep. I am and was a restless sleeper. That night my inability to fall asleep was particularly bad. But, after an Xanex I eventually drifted off.

I dreamed that I was back in the house my Mother and I had lived in before she divorced father-dearest. I was five when we moved out of that house, so it’s rather remarkable to me that I remembered it in such detail in my dream. It seemed to be my birthday. I was my actual chronological age in the dream – 30 – but, I was dressed in a frilly party dress that I remember from a photo of my fourth birthday party. There was a party going on behind me, my friends and family were all there, celebrating. However when I turned around, towards the front of the house, I got tunnel vision and saw that my grandfather and father-dearest were sitting together on a plaid sofa in front of a bay window. I could see through the window that it was snowing outside. I turned to go back into the party and saw that the area behind me where all these protectors – my Mom, my brothers, my uncles, my maternal grandparents, my boyfriend (who shouldn’t have been in a dream where I was four, as I’d only known him for a few years) – had disappeared. The room had turned cold and grey and it seemed as if the walls were crumbling down.

I tried to wake myself up, saying over and over again that it was just a dream, to no avail. Then like by black magic, something grabbed me around my waist and pulled me towards that plaid couch, until I was standing right in front of father-dearest and my paternal grandfather. Father-dearest stood up and looked down at me with his eyes filled with anger and hate – it was a scary look – sadly, not one I was unaccustomed to. He pushed me onto my knees in front of my grandfather, keeping his hand on my shoulder so I couldn’t get up. My paternal grandfather looked at me, then leaned forward to hiss at me in his whiskey and liverwurst scented breath, “You’ll never escape me!”

I tried to scream, I couldn’t – I tried to get away, I couldn’t – I begged him to let me be, he wouldn’t. Then father-dearest forced my head down onto the couch and sat down on top of me. I was suffocating and screaming and crying and begging for my Mom to wake me up…

The next thing I knew my boyfriend was shaking me awake, but it wasn’t as if I had left the dream, only that he was there with me. I was terrified and it took me several minutes to recognize that we were not in my old house, but my new apartment in San Francisco. I still wasn’t convinced that father-dearest and my grandfather weren’t waiting around the corner to hurt me – I made my boyfriend get up and search the apartment, armed with my tennis racket. I followed close behind him and once we’d cleared all the rooms I allowed him to put me back to bed and feed me another sedative. Though I made him promise that he’d stay awake until I fell asleep to protect me.

I was completely irrational. Because I was sick, I was always sick, I just didn’t want to admit it — because, let’s face it, who wants to be mentally ill? My own mental illness was mild in comparison to my brothers – he was a full blown voice hearing and hallucination seeing schizophrenic – and where I could recognize his illness and advocate for him with doctors and lawyers and the general public, I could not admit my own disease or advocate for myself.

The next morning my boyfriend told me that I had woken him up because I had punched the wall next to our bed and was screaming at the top of my lungs. I had no memory of that what-so-ever, although my right hand was bruised and swollen. It was then that he put his foot down and told me that if I wouldn’t go get help for myself that he couldn’t continue to be in a relationship with me.

Given that my boyfriend was (and is) the love of my life, that was a powerful motivator and about a week later I went to San Francisco Mental Health Access where I was hooked up with a therapist and a psychiatrist and put back onto the medications that I had worked so hard to wean myself off (under the care of a different doctor) years previously.

Part 2 & 3 coming soon!

This Place

October 21st, 2008

Tonight, as I walked in and sat down in the last available wooden chair I began to feel the creepy crawly anxiety creeping it’s way up my legs, into my stomach, and back down again.

What about this place makes me so uncomfortable?

The chair I sit in is hard and slanted, almost like it’s trying to push me out of it’s lap. I look around to see if perhaps I should just sit on the floor.

I remember the last time I was there, I was in a comfortable yet slightly broken recliner.

It’s not my seat, maybe it’s the guy sitting next to me shaking so much I fear he’ll come apart before our eyes in the crowded room where people are sharing their experience, fear, and hopes.

I look around and feel unsettled, again with the sliding feeling as if I’m being pulled gravitationally down to the floor. I look at the floor for a nice spot, and notice it’s dirty and dusty. Why would that matter to me? It’s not like I’m wearing nice slacks. My yoga pants and a fleece jacket were the best I was able to put together. Even before I arrived, I was uncomfortable about going, not knowing until I was there. In the slanted wooden chair.

I push the chair back, I cross my legs. Shortly after, I uncross them and cross the other way. No, it still isn’t working. Surely people can detect my anxiety. Perhaps they understand all too well that this chair, the last open one is not a welcoming chair but a menacing evil ride that has no intentions of being an actual chair.

What happened at the time the wood was chopped down? Could the tree have resented being chopped away, and then striped, sanded, and painted into something a person would use only to put their fat butt into? I can’t blame the chair, I’d rather be standing tall in the woods myself. Not piled into this cramped room with dirty floors listening to the inner thoughts of injured people.

Focus on the topic, focus on why I am there. Focus on why this room makes me uncomfortable. Focus on that. The people? The set up? The chairs? Maybe I could re-arrange the room some time before any of the others showed up? Put a little feng shui on it, make it more inviting and comfortable.

I would definitely vacuum the floors and wipe away the dust. and put out a diffuser to help create a peaceful smell. Diffusers are safer than the candles that burn, or incense. Lest a person forget and leave them burning, burning the place to the ground. That would be bad.

It’s my turn to speak, I have nothing coherent to say so I pass.

Everyone speaks and there is still time left. Before I realize what is happening words are coming from my mouth. Nothing makes any sense. I wrap it up, knowing that I’ve managed to speak words that are of no value.

The last person begins to share.

I finally realize what the problem is with the room. It’s not the people, the dirty floor or the dust.

The room resembles a room from my childhood. The one located at a church that the older men would get together in and watch the latest “game” on television. The room was lined with recliners but much bigger than the room I was currently in.

One day, I happened to have walked into that room taking a break from the church chorus. A man waved me over and greeted me. My back to the wall, hidden from anyone else. He puts his hand into my shorts from the back so that no one could see.

I stand there frozen, unable to move and not understanding what I’d done to allow this to happen. Panic, anxiety, fear and anger are swirling around in my six year old head. Why is he touching my privates and how did I end up in that room? Why did I ever think it would be a good idea to walk into this TV room? I have no idea who any of these men are and this one, acted as if he knew me.

As a predator, he did know me. He saw my sadness, the stamp on my forehead. He knew that I was one that wouldn’t tell. They always know.

Thirty three years later, it still makes me uncomfortable even in a room with others that would understand.

My only hope that the man in the recliner is resting peacefully, twelve feet under in a wooden box his remains being ravaged by worms and insects.

Opening the fiddle case

June 3rd, 2008

In December, the lovely Diva wrote me a guest post that snagged a mention on Five Star Friday and also caused some controversy with some of the Internets because of its sexual nature. The controversy was focused on the issue of whether my blog is pornographic or merely risqué.

I found this question intriguing, because over the past year, sex has started seeping into my writing, and yes, at times, it is a bit risqué. However, you may be interested to know that in the early days of my blog, sex was never mentioned. (You can check the archives if you want, but consider yourself warned: nothing racy going on there.)

The reason it wasn’t mentioned is I felt uncomfortable typing anything remotely suggestive on the screen. I’ve always been a very sexual person, but for many years, I struggled with how to express that side of myself. I felt trapped in the middle of the virgin/whore dichotomy, full of ambivalence about my sexuality. I flipped between wanting to be seen as “the good girl” and acting like “the naughty girl.” Somehow, I wanted them both. But how do you walk that line?

My relationship with my sexuality is made even more complicated by the fact that I was sexually abused at a very young age. Sexual abuse changes who you are. It changes the way you experience your body in every possible way: the way you see yourself in the mirror, the way you feel inside your skin, the way you relate to other people, personally and sexually.

And if that weren’t enough, I was also raised by an overprotective religious fundamentalist mother. We never spoke about sex in our home. When my brother and I asked where babies came from, we were given a long talk about the female menstrual cycle and how the sperm and egg came together to make a baby. If we asked how the sperm and egg got together, the lecture was repeated once more with no further details.

To make things even more uncomfortable and unhelpful, from the time I was 10 years old on, every time I left the house, my mother called out, “Keep yourself pure.”

Because that shit is not going to fuck you up. At all.

Yeah. Good times.

The message I got from my mother, literally on a daily basis, was sexuality is evil, unless you’re married. So, until then, it might as well not exist, unless you want to burn in hell for eternity. Combine that with a lack of sexual education, and you end up with a very confused and anxiety-ridden adolescent gal.

I remember the first time I masturbated. It was completely unintentional, since I had no idea what masturbation was or how my body worked. I was 12 years old and I was having problems falling asleep one night, so I just started touching myself out of boredom. Hmmm…haven’t really touched that before. Next thing I knew, there was this explosion of light and my body was convulsing, out of control. I was terrified. Something was horribly wrong with me. Why was my body doing this?

But it felt kinda cool, so I did it again, and again, and again. At 12, I became a compulsive masturbator, taking extra time in the bathroom, sneaking off to my room to “read”, and making sure that there was always a blanket on top of me when I was watching TV with my family. (Oh, yeah, I totally did it with other people in the room. That’s how hooked I was. They had no clue.)

Sounds like typical pre-teen sexual behaviour, yes? Well, the difference is each time I did it, I felt immense guilt and was convinced that God hated me and I was going straight to hell. Afterward, I would bargain with God, beg forgiveness and promise I would never, ever do it again. Until the next time I felt powerless to resist the urges. Whenever anything bad happened, I was sure God was punishing me for my horrible, horrible sin. This continued throughout my teens.

Some women who were sexually abused and/or raised by religious fundamentalists turn into real rebels. Others withdraw and comply with their parents’ religious beliefs. I fell somewhere in the middle. Part of me was afraid – in fact, I went through a phase (years, really) where I saw penises as weapons – and part of me was very sexual and just wanted to cut loose and be free.

I have always felt pulled between those two extremes – fighting against the repression of my childhood and struggling with others’ perceptions and judgements when I express myself.

A few years ago, I found this quote in a Katherine Mansfield story that has become a sort of mantra for me: “Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle?”

Now that I’m in my 30s, now that I’ve found an amazing man that I trust and love, it feels like it’s time to open the case and play that fiddle. I don’t want to be ashamed anymore. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I just want to be.

And while some people may not be comfortable with it, this is who I am. This is how I write on my blog. I am neither a virgin nor a whore.

I’m just Savia.

Originally posted as a guest post on I Am the Diva on May 30, 2008.

Wished for death, glad it didn’t come.

May 6th, 2008

Last Friday, one of my son’s classmates lost his father.

The boy is a kindergartener, having only recently turned six years old. I read the letter the teacher sent home and I immediately began to sob. I do not know much about this boy, other than he frequents the principal’s office, and is well known for his antics.

That isn’t all he is, he is well known for his big and beautiful heart. He shares, he is loving.

As I am wont to do, knowing he was prone to trouble, I want to know more about him. To try and see inside his world, to determine if there is something more that should be addressed other than his negative behavior. It took me some time before he would really talk to me, this isn’t usually the case since I love kids and I always vie for their approval. Over the past few months, he’s warmed up to me.

Through the whole weekend, my thoughts kept turning to this boy and his loss. I am not sure that he will fully understand this situation for a few years. I worried if his Mom had other family, insurance, or anything to help ease her burden. These are times in which I wonder if I think too much about other people and if it really is none of my business. I subscribe to the quote, “it takes a village to raise a child”, and I fully believe in it’s power.

A few years ago, my daughter’s best friend lost her Mother when was only 9 or 10 years old. Her Mother was a friend of mine and we’d just spoken the day before about grabbing sushi at a new restaurant that had just opened in our area. She headed for the bathroom that Sunday morning and an aneurism burst in her head and she was gone. My daughter and her friend began to drift apart after this and we rarely ever see her. I miss her Mom every time I drive past their house.

All of this got me to thinking about my youthful dreams of wishing my Mom would die. I know how terrible this sounds, and I wince a little now when I think about it.

I would design horrible accidents in my head that she could be killed falling down the stairs, driving home drunk, whatever. When I got older and discussed this with my siblings, they too had wished for her to die. She was mean and she beat us. Who wouldn’t want the person who beat them dead? The woman she used to be, is not the woman she is now. She has become weak, fragile, and only has select memories. I am learning to make peace with this, she was always the pillar of strength and self control in my youth.

Putting these scenarios together side by side in my mind; my wishes for death, and the children that have actually had death at their door. I can say that I am glad that my deadly wishes never came true.

These quandries have always intrigued me, turning them all around in my head for years trying to unlock the secret of the why.

Why do the families that actually want children, are capable to raise them and give them a loving home cannot get pregnant? The parents that beat and destroy their children, live on so that the child is constantly reminded of their pain and suffering into adulthood, knowing that the truth will never be revealed.

Why do the good parents die, but the bad ones live? I’ve never solved this, but I have adopted a theory that our children choose us. Even if those children did not come from our own wombs, they choose us.

To make peace with the abuse that happens every day to children, even in my own neighborhood (and yours) I have to believe that on some level the children choose their lives before they are born. For me, it is how I make peace with the fact that I cannot save every child that I come into contact with. Throughout my main healing process, I was always told to watch children to “really” see them and how beautiful they are. This was designed to help me to understand that the abuse was not my fault. A six year old does not “want” to be touched by a grown man.

There were people along my path that reached me, inside where the pain lived when I was a child. I remember them, I remember their kindness and I believe on some level it gave me the hope I needed to rise up out of my experience, not to regret it, and heal. This is why I try to “see” children, to let them know that they are important and beautiful.

That there is more out there that will be revealed, they are not alone, they can survive and then pass it on to those that come after them.