Warning: raw post, may be uncomfortable and trigger an amygdala response for some.
Extra warning: if you come here for debate, to defend some action you see laid out below, or to be creepily sympathetic, please go somewhere else with that. I’m not sharing this for you, and this isn’t the place for that.
Originally posted August 12, 2020
It takes an enormous amount of energy to navigate life, normal everyday life. Trust must be earned, and it can be broken in a breath. Relationships are terrifying, and comforting all at once. When stress builds, it becomes harder to stay grounded and present. Under the right circumstances, losing grip is not unheard of or really unexpected.
I have a safety plan in place, and I work to anticipate things that may cause me to be unable to handle things. And I take steps to prepare for those things as much as I possibly can. But there are things that, unless you completely cut yourself off from the world, you cannot prepare for.
You can’t prepare for things like a program you counted on suddenly closing its doors without warning, hurting people you care about and interupting a response system you knew was not good enough but took years to put together at all. And being flooded with requests for help, for recommendations, and with pleas to connect with someone that can be trusted who won’t leave you stranded without warning.
You can’t prepare for things like being inundated with messages from people asking why you aren’t doing more to inform parents to not put masks on children, because that makes them more likely to be trafficked (no, it doesn’t, by the way). Or folks thinking you need to know every salacious detail about the latest conspiracy on a trafficking ring which may or may not exist in the first place, and the video of a survivor being untaped (a video that I’m certain was shared without her permission or knowledge, because nothing says “let’s fight exploitation” like exploiting someone). Or folks trying to explain how others can avoid being trafficked and exploited. Folks insisting that being victimized is that persons choice or that victim blaming and shaming, and super disgusting details will only impact you if they share them when you can’t get away from them. Or the folks who think you should be sharing more of what happened to you, because you owe that to the public, because you could “save the next girl.”
You can’t prepare for every phone call, text message, comment on your social media accounts, email, or message. You can’t.
I can’t either.
And these last couple of weeks have been filled with the kinds of things that can’t be prepared for…and it sucks. And it’s hard. And it makes me angry, and anxious, and agitated.
I want to sternly remind folks that I lived it, and I don’t need those details in my face because they have no idea what’s always there every time I close my eyes. I want to curse loudly and tell folks that nobody owns me, and I don’t owe them or anyone else anything. I want to lose my filter and say all the things I hold back. I don’t though. Sometimes I call folks in to the conversation, sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I offer resources and move on as best I can.
Its hard sometimes to move on at all, sometimes its like emotional whiplash and it takes everything to just go through the motions. Folks don’t usually think about the damage they do before they take their good intentions and run with them. I wish more people did. And more than that, I wish more people would own their actions and apologize (like for real apologize) when they realize how damaging they have been… Something I think we all could work on these days. Recognizing when we’ve caused harm, apologizing, and working to repair the damage we’ve done.
One of the things I do for self-care is take pictures. I hold on to photos like the one below for when I need to re-center, for when I need to get away from things I can’t prepare for.
I can look at it, really look.. close my eyes, listen to the gentle crashing of the waves against the sand, hear the seagulls calling to each other as they fly across the blue sky, feel the warm sun on my face. Find a little bit of sanctuary in the middle of the storm.
I hope that you can find sanctuary too, if you need it.