Assistance Request from fellow Survivors for Sexual Assault Awareness Month – Trigger Warning

September 26, 2014

Hello, Friends –

One nice thing about my new position is that I have plenty of time to plan for SAAM 2015. We have some great things in the works and I would like to ask for my readers help. It will be totally anonymous – but the world needs your story.

There is a relatively new program called the Survivors Art Installation Project. It is designed to do away with the myth that what a person wears causes them to be raped. After all, most of us have heard that we must have done or said or worn something to ask for it. This project absolutely destroys that myth.

What I need – I need a short statement of what you were wearing when you were raped. I know that this is a lot to ask. I am including another person’s description so you can see what I mean.

What were you wearing?
“Running shorts and a tank top. I swung by his place on the way back from my run. He kept saying how hot I looked and I kept making excuses to leave. He wouldn’t let me go.”
(Outfit inspired by a 20 year old university student)

I don’t need any actual clothing – I will replicate what you send me. The clothing is placed on standing boards and displayed with your statement.

On a personal note – I was going through things this past week – going to have a garage sale – and I was going to throw away the last BDU uniform I ever wore. I kept it, you know, I just took it off and threw it in a tote and put it in the basement. Everything is still in it – on it. My rank, my earplug case, a pen still in the pocket. It still has the T-shirt I was wearing. It has had so much meaning to me over the years. Sometimes I look at the tote and just stare – sometimes I open it up and touch it or talk to it. I had just reached the place where I felt that I could let it go – only to find out about this project. What a terrific way to tell the story! What better way to put that piece of my life to good use!

If you would like to participate – please email me a description of what you were wearing, your age at the time and branch of service, if you were serving in country or overseas. NO NAMES WILL BE INCLUDED! enemyinthewire@hotmail.com

I would really love it if you could help me out. We are trying to go big this year – really big!

The whole project is based on the poem – but the poem is a trigger – so just be aware.

What I was Wearing
by Mary Simmerling

was this:
from the top
a white t-shirt
cotton
short-sleeved
and round at the neck

this was tucked into
a jean skirt
(also cotton)
ending just above the knees
and belted at the top

underneath all this
was a white cotton bra
and white underpants
(though probably not a set)

on my feet
white tennis shoes
the kind one plays tennis in
and then finally
silver earrings, and lip gloss.

this is what i was wearing
that day
that night
that fourth of july
in 1987.

you may be wondering
why this matters
or even how i remember
every item
in such detail

you see
i have been asked this question
many times
it has been called to my mind
many times
this question
this answer
these details.

but my answer
much awaited
much anticipated
seems flat somehow
given the rest of the details
of that night
during which
at some point
i was raped.

and i wonder
what answer
what details
would give comfort
could give comfort
to you
my questioners

seeking comfort where
there is
alas
no comfort
to be found.

if only it were so simple
if only we could
end rape
by simply changing clothes.

i remember also
what he was wearing
that night
even though
it’s true
that no one
has ever asked.

Thank you in advance – I know that what I am asking you for is so hard.

Joan

Triggering vs. Liberating!

September 24, 2014

Hello friends,

I have been taking advantage of the free time I have in my new job to start work on Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2015 here at my place of employment which we all know is the place that takes care of Veterans but I am not going to say it here.

Things that are driving me crazy is the topic today. Every year I prepare to hear the exact same stupid, freaking statement; “We don’t want to trigger anyone.”
I hate the word “trigger.” Oh – I know that it happens, it has happened to me on many occasions – but I find that people who don’t KNOW squat about MST like to use the word “trigger” to AVOID talking about the issue.

We don’t want to talk about RAPE – it is truly a 4-letter word. No, it is not a comfortable subject, it is not a happy subject – let’s just talk about happy things here and not actually deal with any issues.

“Good morning – welcome to your appointment – would you like to quit smoking? Do you drink too much? Good – here are your pills…have a nice day!”

Thankfully – that is NOT my experience with my Psychiatrist or therapist – but I know that it is the experience for many people.

For anyone who MIGHT be reading this that is not a Survivor – let me define what a “trigger” really is.

Trigger – an unexpected event that hits you upside the head, knocks you on the ground and leaves you with an overwhelming desire to crawl out of your skin and find a very dark room with a locked door that you can hide in. You want a large pillow, or music or television to drown out to voices in your head that are telling you how screwed up you are – how you brought this on yourself and how much you deserved it. The voices call you weak and crazy and stupid and ugly – they tell you that you are worth nothing. No, this isn’t the official definition – but for me…it fits to a T.

Liberation is the opportunity to say, “I SURVIVED!” I have made a life for myself – whatever that life may be – I have continued to exist…to be…to fight! Every now and again, just being alive is a fight. Every now and again getting up in the morning is a fight. Not beating someone senseless can be a struggle. I AM ALIVE! I WIN!
Celebration of Survival is a good thing. Acknowledging the struggle and the pain and saying, “You are so brave!” is a good thing! For those of us who are advocates, this is the most powerful thing we can do. It is important to normalize the experience of Rape, not because it is okay that it happens, but because in the end we all have the same feelings of anger, hatred, sorrow, disgust, shame and self-doubt. It is the only way to help the Survivors! For someone to listen, to understand, to believe is something that is so rare out there in the world.

People die from Rape every day. They die at the hands of the rapist and they die by their own hand because they can’t deal with the damn voices in their head. The voices that tell us that we are dirty, that we deserved it, that we brought it on ourselves. In addition to the voices is the unique experience of MST, where the very people we trusted who were supposed to be on our side are the same voices we hear in our heads. That is what they told us – so it must be true. We hide away and we believe the same lies that they told us then – the same lies that we hear now – and no one is there to call the liars out. So too many Survivors have given in to the depression, believed the lies and taken their own life.

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman wrote this poem for us – in many ways – the Survivors of this experience called Rape. He even answered the question.
YOU ARE HERE! LIFE EXISTS! YOU HAVE AN IDENTITY THAT WILL NEVER EXIST IN THE WORLD AGAIN! We have the ability to change the world with our voices. Many of you who read this blog are fellow Survivors and fellow Advocates. Your verse is your courage to speak out when others stay silent. The nice thing about cyberspace is that nothing is ever really gone once it is out there. The young service member may find your words 5 or 10 years from now and decide to LIVE!

I continue to lead the fight in my little corner of the world. To teach that we need to CELEBRATE survival, HONOR courage and provide HOPE for the wounded. To teach that we can talk about these things – we MUST talk about these things – that it may cause someone to FEEL something is not a bad thing.

Feeling something is what we push away – we keep it bottled down inside of us and hide it from the world. Pretty soon, you feel numb to your own pain, to other peoples’ pain, until suddenly it breaks like a weakened dam and spreads everywhere. We have to help Survivors understand that it is okay to feel the feelings, to express the feelings and then to let them go. When they come back we start again, feeling the feelings, express the feelings and then let them go. Anything else is just a tragedy waiting to happen. If I have to feel the anger every 10 minutes – say FUCK THEM – and then move on…that is what I have to do. If I have to tell to voices in my head to shut the fuck up every 5 minutes – then that is what I have to do.

Celebrate your Survival! Celebrate your strength, your courage, your resiliency! Most important – Celebrate that you are living your life with HONOR! They didn’t – they gave away their honor the moment they touched you. However, HONOR is something that they cannot take from you! Your HONOR – the most important thing we have as service members – your HONOR is above reproach!

Blessings and Peace,
Joan

Brigid’s surgery went fine!

September 18, 2014

Hi, all –

Just great news…Brigid is still with us and doing fine! Thank you for your prayers!!

Suicide Prevention Month

September 2, 2014

Robin Williams

August 19, 2014

Lately I have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to blog. However, the tragic loss of Robin Williams has led to me talk about his life – and his death.

Genius and Insanity are sometimes close bedfellows – so they say. I am sure I am not the only one on this blog that has been profoundly affected by his death. People on the news talk about his “demons” and other bloggers use this opportunity to bash his failure to get help. They say – He had all the money in the world; all he needed to do was get help! Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation are NOT demons. Money, fame, power, love and family do NOT stop the sometimes terrible progression of depression.

Depression is a disease. Period. Final. Addiction is a co-morbid factor to a disease like Depression. You might as well ask – which came first…the chicken or the egg. Some people who deal with depression also deal with addiction. Sure, they may be different types of addiction, but it is still addiction. No, I have never done cocaine – but I have done alcohol. Although I have mostly stopped I do occasionally consume alcoholic beverages, mainly in a social manner, because I know that I can’t let myself drink too much. I can’t go there again. Of course, speaking of addiction – I stopped in the middle of this to have a cigarette. I hate smoking – and I love smoking…it eases the tension.

I have been devastated by his death because I felt a real connection to him. Not just his ability to do great film, television and standup – but because we had some things in common. His story of being bullied as a child and using comedy to make friends touches me so deeply. I was viciously bullied from kindergarten all the way through my senior year of high school. I sat at the lunch table alone for years. I played alone on the playground. Sure, I would have my one good friend who usually was in the same situation I was. Then they would change schools or move away and I would be alone again.

I wrote to deal with the loneliness and the desire to be anywhere but school. My brain wouldn’t allow me to keep still in class so I had a teacher that introduced me to the wonderful world of writing. When my work was done she would give me a “story starter,” a simple piece of paper with the first paragraph of a story that I could take and work on. I could spend days on a single story. What should have been finished in three or four paragraphs would take ten or twelve pages. She always took it and read it, made notes and wrote wonderful words about my talent or my imagination. She would make suggestions, corrections to spelling and grammar and the next one would be better. I thrived on writing.

In my 8th grade year, three of us wrote a little play called “Doctor Duck” and we won a spot in the school talent show. I was hooked – people laughed so hard! This boy I had a bad crush on (he was a senior) chucked me on the shoulder and said, “Nice job – you’re funny!” Talk about melting. The next year I won another spot doing an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

People who had never spoken to me suddenly wanted to ask me why I wasn’t in the school play. I wasn’t popular enough; you have to be really popular to get a spot in a very small school.
I discovered humor and improvisation. Did speech contests, wrote constantly about everything and continued to audition for the play. The lunchroom became my own little stage as people who usually laughed at me joined me for my lunchtime performance. I was still a target for the bullies – but at least I no longer ate lunch alone.

I took writing classes in high school. One time, a substitute teacher that I adored, gave me an F on a poem with a big note in red pen that said, “SEE ME.” She accused me of plagiarizing from Edgar Allen Poe. We went through every poem written by Poe when she turned around and changed it to an A. She apologized and was concerned because the poem was so dark she believed that it had to be Poe. I admit, I like the dark stuff, I always have. It allows the darkness to come out.
I went on to do Community Theater – including leading roles like Driving Miss Daisy. I loved the spotlight – I still do. My favorite place in the world is a packed elevator – they are, after all, a captive audience.

I admit I had a bit of a crush on Robin Williams; it was his piercing blue eyes. They were so deep and they sparkled; but every now and then, when the laughter ended, I could see the sadness in his eyes. I do the same thing. I will do a routine at work that will have my closest co-workers rolling on the floor. Just goofing around, talking about this or that, whatever strikes me as funny or can be turned funny. I am in no way as talented or as amazing as Robin Williams is – but I know the sadness when the laughter is over.

My favorite role of his was Dead Poet’s Society – I loved him as Mr. Keating. I think it is because he combined two of my favorite things; teaching and writing. In fact, the night he died I sat and watched some of it – just to hear his voice and feel his energy.

I think that what is most devastating is that if depression can take a man like Robin Williams – it can take any of us. So I would say to you, please don’t give up! Words and ideas can change the world – your voice is powerful – so much more powerful than the depression that we live with. So to this end I would like to finish this with a poem by Walt Whitman that you will recognize from Dead Poet’s Society. It is from his Leaves of Grass collection. I believe that it is truly fitting at a time like this; it is a poem about depression about the struggle to live each day – to get up – to walk among people – to maintain faith.

Oh Me! Oh Life!
Oh me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless traines of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the
foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish
than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the
struggle ever renew’d
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I
see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me
intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring–What good amid these,
O me, O life?
Answer.
That you are here–that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Finally – if I may be so arrogant as to post my own verse in the same page as Walt Whitman – my little tribute to Robin.

Captain Jester

Oh Captain, why have you gone,
The farce of your laughter,
The truth of your tears,
The darkness above your door.

The mask you wore,
It choose you.
The brilliance of mind,
And brokenness of heart.

A mask of comedy,
Tears of laughter.
Eyes of radiance,
A heart of tragedy.

Rest your soul now,
In the gentle hands of God
May your sleep be sweet,
And your heart’s song,
Will drown in tears no more.

Peace – and special prayers to Robin’s family.

Joan

The VA Scandals

July 11, 2014

Hello Friends!

I have been gone for sometime – life has been wonderful and busy and crazy all at the same time. My granddaughter is growing and her smiles and giggles remind me what is beautiful about life. I find myself fiercely determined to protect her in all things and nothing in the world brings me peace like picking her up and seeing her smile at Grandma. God has bless me.

However – I have to find time to speak about the latest from the VA. I have been reading, watching C-Span hearings and finding my heart breaking about the newest round of scandals from the VA. Some of it makes me so angry – so of it makes me weep. It was so avoidable.

If you are a regular reader of my blog – you know that I work for a VA Facility. I am proud to report that we were recently informed that – after the investigative team came through – they will not be coming back for follow up of the current concerns. We are good to go. Now I don’t know if that means we are perfect – because no one is perfect – but I can tell you that I have never seen paper lists – I have never seen patients denied care in MY office and I have never been a witness to any of the bullshit that has been reported in the news. I speak this honestly – because had I been a witness to it – I would have seriously raised hell. In fact – I recently bought myself a t-shirt that says…”I will NOT keep calm…I will raise hell and break shit!” I thought it was fitting.

Although this is good news – I continue to fight the stigma of MST in my facility and I actually had an event (with a staff member) that was enough to send me over the edge. So I had to register for FMLA and I am back in therapy. It is okay – sometimes we need to revisit the issues we bury in an attempt to feel normal. So I am currently in the process of hell-raising and I was recently informed that I have a “reputation” in our facility. Well – my answer is Fuck You..to those who have decided that I have a “reputation.” Because I know who they are – they are scumball mid-level leaders that don’t give a shit about Veterans!! All they worry about is protecting their little territories.

I can honestly say that I know how this was all happening in Phoenix, Houston, and other VA Facilities. The “get patients in within 14 days” was elevated to be some kind of a rule – instead of a goal. Therefore, we were instructed to make it look like the patient was seen within 14 days. In other words – if you called and asked me for a routine annual physical (you are not sick) and I asked when you wanted to be seen – your answer might be “anytime is good with me.” I may book you out 3 weeks…but it would show that you didn’t have a clinic wait. This was NOT something I made up – this is what we were instructed to do. However – I will clearly state that this was for routine physicals and never, ever for an ill patient. I have seen the providers that I work with double book or skip their lunch in order to get a sick patient in to see them same day. I work with some outstanding providers.

However – back to my reputation. My complaint of late has been that my rights as a patient have been violated because I am an employee. I had a Dermatology appointment and the male medical student expected me to remove my shirt in front of him without a gown or a chaperone. NOT HAPPENING. Therefore – I had to educated him. I was nice about it – and I also had to educated the female resident who came into the room. “What is MST?” I explained. Why should I explain? I am the fucking patient!! YOU should know! I did go to the patient advocate – who is a really terrific woman here – and she was equally upset.

A very short time later – I had a run in with one of Brigid’s nurses. She is about to have a tumor removed from her brain (it is not cancer – but we are both scared to death – please…pray for her and for me.) I talked to her nurse about her MST status and about her wishes. She said – “that will be up to surgery.” I said, “Okay – I can contact the head surgical nurse.”

She said – “YOU WILL NOT DO THAT – YOU ARE OVERSTEPPING YOUR BOUNDS.”

Overstepping my bounds??? I don’t have boundaries when it comes to Brigid. I am her medical power of attorney. I will do what I have to do when I have to do it and how I have to do it to make sure that she receives the APPROPRIATE care related to both her physical and psychological needs. I will do it in a calm, professional manner until you FUCK WITH ME and then I will wreck your world!! And do not play the employee card with me – because I am a Veteran and a patient who just HAPPENS to work here.

Anyway – I will finish my rant now..because I am not allowed to throw shit and break things at work.

But I am truly broken hearted and suffering from the recent news coming out of the VA system. It tears at my very soul…

Blessings,

Joan

GRANDMA JOAN!

April 7, 2014

Blessing friends.  Just a quick note to drop in and say that I am a Grandma!!  Baby and Mom are healthy!!Image

Joy and Peace!

Joan

Reading, Writing and Senate Committee Hearings

February 28, 2014

Hello, Friends,

As you all know I am getting ready for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.  Many of you who are fellow MST survivors and bloggers have given me permission to use your words and I am thankful.  Your words, our words, will bring hope to other survivors and education to those who treat MST.

I have been reading and reading – your blogs that I have already read looking for the type of writings that people really need to hear.  I find them over and over again.  Even more so, I read your words and I feel your pain, our pain and our journey’s and our victories.  Some of the words hurt so bad I have to stop for a while – come back later.  I am not sharing our most intimate stories of our rapes…the truth about what happened to us is that all of our assaults are the same and all of our assaults are different.  As my role of advocate has increased I have discovered that some people out there just want to hear about the rape – like they are getting some sort of sick pleasure out of it.  I sometimes look at their faces and I wonder, “How many victims have you created?”  So I don’t share the rape stories.  I share the stories of courage, the stories of advocacy, the stories of how we are changing the world.  As I am reading through the blogs I am seeing something that I already knew was there – but I hadn’t really seen before.

Jay started his blog and I found it one day.  His words gave me such courage!  I wrote to him and we began a real friendship in the virtual world.  I then began this blog and I told Brigid that she had to do it too.  That was the beginning of Enemy in the Wire.  Then Myst found us and she began her own blog “One Sailors MST Recovery Blog.”  There are too many out there to list – but most of them are on my blogroll.  We are taking care of one another – where other systems have failed for whatever reason.  We are our own Peer Support Community.

I have spoken about the need for Peer Support for MST Survivors before.  It is because I have been rereading your blogs that I decided to take a crazy step.  Some of which I can talk about and some of which I have to be very careful what I say…

A few days ago I made a “contact” because of something that I posted on a closed access MST site.  This “contact” seems very, very nice and when I say connected I mean connected.  This is a person who can make a real difference.  If you have been watching the Senate Sub-Committee Hearings on MST and treatment you know that the Senate Sub-Committee is doing an awesome job…but in some ways they are talking to the Generals running the war.  They are great Generals – they really, really care – but they are still the Generals.

As we know – the military works this way…(please excuse the Army terms…they are the only ones I know)

There is a War…the President calls the Joint Chiefs and says – “How is it going?”  Joint Chiefs say – “Going fine Mr. President!”

The Joint Chiefs call the General…General says “Going Fine!”

General asks the Base Commander, Base Commander call the Battalion Commander, Battalion Commander calls the Company Commander – “Going great, Sir!”  The Company Commander asks the Platoon Leaders – Platoon Leaders ask the Platoon Sergeants…same answer.

The Squad Leader out on the front line asks the PFC in his squad – “How is it going?”  PFC says, “We are short on water, ammo is running low, we have two casualties and we have a broken vehicle.”  (In the Army it is called the LACE report – liquid, ammo, casualties and equipment)

General comes down asks that same PFC how it is going, PFC says, “Going Great, Sir – I love the Army!!”

Well – I am the PFC that just told the “General” the truth today.  Not to blame, accuse or to point a finger.  I told the truth about how to fix what needs fixing.  I am way…way…way…outside of my chain-of-command.  I didn’t tell anybody about it, except you, because I figure that if there is no knowledge of the event – there is no responsibility for it.  The only person they can blame is me – because I am the only person responsible for what was sent.

I took an oath.  First I took an oath to be a soldier – later I took an oath to be an NCO.

“No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army”. I am proud of the Corps of noncommissioned officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.

Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!”

There are some things you will notice in there – for those who have never read the Army NCO Creed. 

Accomplish the Mission – Take Care of the Soldiers.

Never use my rank for my personal gain

Loyal to those I serve

I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders.

 That is what I did today.  I took action that I feel is appropriate in the form of a situational report from the front lines.  Someone has to tell the truth – for the benefit of us all.  I didn’t say things that were bad – I just made suggestions to make something better – greater…more successful.

However, as we all know – sometimes things done with the greatest of intentions get an ass chewed by a rabid dog.  I think it will be okay – but I have to admit that I am shaking inside.  I’m afraid of what will happen next.  I believe in a good outcome…but we all know how that sometimes goes.

My defense for my choice – my Oath has no expiration date.  When I took that oath – I took it for life.  Not just my life in the Army…but for the rest of my life. 

We who are out there advocating, fighting, praying, searching, begging and demanding for justice.  We are the ones in the trenches, bandaging the wounded, trying to stop the bleeding, trying to get help for them…the medics to the invisible and silent wounded.  We are the ones who bear the battle. 

My oath has no expiration date – I will speak truth – no matter what the cost. 

Peace,

Joan

 

In Our Own Words – Urgent Request!!!

February 19, 2014

Hello Friends,

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2014 is approaching quickly and I am, once again, working on a project.

I am posting to ask for a favor from the MST Community…I need your words.  I would like to schedule readings from various survivors at our event.  However, I won’t use anything on your blog without your permission!!  That just seems like a nasty violation of your privacy.

What I am looking for is not what happened to you…but what your life is like now and how your journey of recovery is going.  Talk about what you need in healthcare – what makes you comfortable or terrible experiences you have had.  These readings will be heard by VA Staff (you will be anonymous) and they are things the leadership needs to hear!!

Please know that I may have to edit for content.  I apologize – but even as I am picking posts from my own blog – I am having to edit my own words.  We all know that when Brigid or I get going we can cuss the keys off the keyboard – we have a right to use those words and say those things…and so do you.  We have the right to be angry!!

Also – if you are a reader of my blog you know that I work for the VA.  I am a low level, bottom feeding healthcare tech but I do serve on and fight for the Military Sexual Trauma Survivors and the way that we treat them.  We are making a difference!  It is not uncommon for SAAM to be half recognized or ignored all together – but this year we will have a display up all month long!!  Our words – our truths – they are making a difference.  With any luck we will get the entire program authorized and that will include the dramatic readings “In Our Own Words.”  Additionally – I am going to go way, way out on the limb.  One of the programs I am trying to get approved for that day is the “Lunch and Learn with a Survivor.”  Yes – that is right…I am going to stand up in front of my co-workers, my leadership and say…”I am a Survivor of Military Sexual Trauma – this is your chance…ask me anything.”  I am hoping that I can bring more awareness to who we really are and what we really need.  We aren’t a bunch of fucked up people who need someone to change our diapers and feed us with a spoon.  We are some of the strongest people you will ever meet!!  I can’t say that I have ever met an MST Survivor that was “weak.”  If we were weak – we wouldn’t survive.  Only the strong survive!

Any help you can give me would be great!  I have already gotten permission from some – if you would like to send me an email with your blog or with readings that you have choosen – you know that I am at enemyinthewire@hotmail.com I will be checking the inbox.

As a final thought – I would love to leave you with a Franciscan Blessing.  This has become my favorite and I think that it really fits who we all are as survivors!  We have the right to hate…but somehow we love.  We have the right to be angry…but somehow we channel that anger into action.  We have the right to say “I”…but we continue to act on the part of “We.”  So this is for all of us…that we may live deeply!!

May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work for
Justice, freedom and peace.
 
May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain,
Rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand
To comfort them and
To turn their pain to joy
 
And may God bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
 
We turn our anger at our attackers into action and love for our brothers and sisters who continue to fight this war.  We lay down our lives everday…we allow ourselves to continue to feel the pain so that we can make a difference in this world.
 
Thankfully – most of us are foolish enough to keep up the fight…even though we are told it can’t be done.  But I know that WE will do it…WE are the generation…NOW is the time!
 
Blessings,
 
Joan

 

Working Out

February 2, 2014

Hello, Friends –

Sorry I have been out of the loop for a while. There have been a lot of things going on here. Please keep Brigid and her family in your prayers and thoughts.

I served with this guy in the National Guard. He was a bit of a Forrest Gump character, not the smartest guy, but he was a good soldier. Actually, if you take Forrest Gump and give him a lot of speed…that was TR.

TR had this trait of always wanting to help out his fellow soldier. He could run like no one I had ever seen! In fact, we all used to shake our heads at the PT Test. He would complete his two mile run…usually around the 11 min mark…and then turn around and start running back the other way. Someone would yell – “Hey, were are you going.” His response was always- “Mark my time…I’m going back for everyone else!!” He did, too. He would run back and bring groups or individuals back across the finish line and then go out for other people. He would encourage them, run with them, push them to pass their test. He was something to behold!!

I have been very frustrated lately – I have also been struggling with my depression. I feel like I keep running back trying to help others out – but the race is hard. The Survivors of MST, we all stick together – but those who can make real change…they refuse to see what is going on.

TR is the kind of person I want to be – the one who never leaves anyone behind. So often I feel that I am going it alone right now. Brigid is always by my side – but getting others to understand the urgency, the need – that is often very hard.

I have gone Congressional on the issue of Women’s Peer Support at VA Hospital facilities. I am now working with two local Congressman. It is so important that Female Veterans and all MST Survivors have access to peer support for MST and for Female issues. I have been trying to stress that the two groups are separate. I don’t believe that a Male Survivor would really want to speak to a Male Peer Support Specialist about rape and sexual assault. However, the leadership at my VA doesn’t seem to grasp how many of us there are and how much we need one another! I was hopeful that by breaking down the two issues – Women Veterans AND MST Survivors – that I might get somewhere. I was told that Male MST Survivors have access to Peer Support. Yes, they do – to Males who don’t have any experience with MST! Knowing one of the people they hired – I see him as more of a Perpetrator that as a Peer.

I want to thank everyone out there doing the same work that I am doing. It keeps my heart warm to remember that there are many of us who are fighting the same fights, feeling the same feelings and trying to leave no one behind.

Blessings,

Joan


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