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Out Of The Belly Of The Misogynist Beast By Sourceress

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Out of the Belly of the Misogynist Beast

by Sourceress

(Back story: The author was shot 3x at pt blanc range with a .32 in 1980. She was 22. Three bullets lodged into her jaw and neck. She clawed herself back from the brink of death and immediately got on with her life, never looking back. By never dealing with the emotional scars this left, the oversight has compounded until, three decades later, she is flooded with anxiety, in almost constant pain or discomfort, has to keep company with a booming in one ear from a snaking vein that compensates for no carotid on the other side, and with a voice within she skillfully ignores, that is constant, loud, mean, angry, dark and often dishonest.

She has raised children to adults, acquired a degree, married and divorced. The exit from the marriage destroyed what was left of her safety, and a year of homelessness became a downward spiral of panic, disaster, suicidal thought and hopelessness. Amazingly, she has pulled herself out of that tailspin, moved to a quiet gulf island to be close to her daughter and now has a small studio in safe space, she calls home, while she heals.

She is just entering into counselling at long last, to address the issues that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has rendered upon her life. She is me.)

Free at Last

The astonishing revelations of my first session with a counselor couched in PTSD has left this be the week my world finally feels like it's turned around. The information I have gleaned about my physiology has given me the missing puzzle pieces for many things and I have isolated myself for the next indefinite period of time, so I can withdraw back into my safe womb (the wound that bleeds but never dies, the 'source', the well of life) that is my little corner of a king size bed under a crisp and cozy featherbed.

I have been looking at how my past relationships began and how they existed. I have turned the lens on how it might have been different, had I known what I know now about my fragility, about my responses to threats to my safety, about my decision to have children even...

The discovery that I experienced when I began university was one of the saving graces when I was in my blindness about the syndrome that I function within. Because of my finding out that in spite of my internal dialogue constantly running a vicious commentary behind the scenes, behind my eyes, of putting me down and making me feel less than, I could now see with my own two eyes that I was high functioning with a capacity for intellect that astonished me. I discovered that there was a body of work, a feminist sociological body of work, that addressed this beast that was my world, the patriarchal culture I was at the mercy of, and that information became a pool I swam in, voluntarily, on a daily basis... and when I wasn't ingesting the philosophies of feminist minds, I was applying the analysis of what I'd read and learned to the world around me.

Little did I know, I was drowning myself in triggers.

I mentioned to N that I was having a difficult time reading without getting nauseous. Other than what I read on my laptop, which oddly, doesn't make me react, every time I pick up something and attempt to focus on the topic it's portraying, my stomach responds with flipflops and a tightening of my throat.

She asked me, 'What are you reading?'

That gave me pause. Why would she ask that? I had been thinking that I needed my eyes checked, never associating it to the big elephant that lives in my room 24/7. I thought about it. I read autobiographies, murder mysteries, feminist discourse and the interwebz. All but the latter have lately made me so ill to my tummy that I have been putting the book down within minutes of picking it up.

N said 'You have been in the belly of the misogynist beast and now you're out. Why would you immerse yourself in triggers about the beast in your recovery?'

Then she explained that the flood of fight or flight endorphins make my gut go acidic and that causes the immediate nausea as my stomach counters the input of gastric acids. It's not just 'in my head'. Imagine that.

What a way to close a session, huh?

I went home and couldn't get that phrase out of my mind. The belly of the misogynist beast.

One Sourceress's Feminist PTSD Analysis

#1) Relationships

I look back at relationships that were created out of my desperate need to not be alone, to not be solely responsible for my children and my ability to make lemonade out of anything life throws at me. I looked at the choices I made regarding relationships and know that had I been better grounded, had my own income and home, I never would have GIVEN THE TIME OF DAY to people who I wound up determined to love and trust, and not only that, but trust with my children.

I look at how one of my exes, who was the one who gave my son the father he so desperately sought, would feminist bait me all the time, and make fun of it. To him, feminism was a joke, and now I realize that when he wanted to get the upper hand and to assume control, he would lean on my triggers, which would give him a withdrawn woman who gave him no challenge. This included yelling at me with slurs and profanity even though he was always just 'telling me what he said to someone else' (but made me feel afraid anyways, witnessing the pointing finger an inch from my nose and the angry, loud, raging seemingly out of control man in my personal space), and it included cigarette smoke in the house... he would light up and I would go away. He would turn on the tv to a loud movie or violent show and then turn the sensurround speakers up so that the startling crashes would come from behind us as well as from the tv. I would withdraw into my own mind, I couldn't tell you what those movies and storylines were about, I was too busy trying to keep my mind from imploding from the panic.

Little did I know, that these were constant calls to my body to pump more fight or flight endorphins into my system until that pump NEVER turned off.

For the past 30 years, I have been living in a constant FLOOD of countering fear in my gut. Dread follows me like a bad debt.

Through the years of raising my five kids, I thought that it was just my mother instinct that caused me to experience the sensation of constant trepidation. Now I am learning that I have a physiological response to the sum of all the abuses I have suffered in my life and its taken its toll on me.

Thank heavens, I am out of the belly of the misogynist beast at last.

I have been instructed to read books that don't contain triggers, to identify what triggers me and then to seek to remove that from my world. I should watch movies that don't contribute to the trigger response. Do you know how hard that is? TV is triggering me within 30 seconds of turning it on because of its hard line on murder as normality.

I am realizing that there needs to be a feminist PTSD discourse. We need to couch the language of the beast in our own terms.

But, right now, I am not going to be the one to initiate this. I've been told to step away from that belly for now. I am free. Let others pick up that gauntlet as it is spring in my world. There is a garden to plant and sunny skies to walk under and I am getting the help I need.

No jangling phones, no angry men, no diminishment, nada. Stay out of the trigger zone, my sistas. I got out. When I must deal with authorities who seek to belittle, I will do it with my army of support and not take it personally, putting someone grounded between the affront and my tender, fragile psyche.

I am going to do yoga, meditate, get massage, investigate other modalities that help me centre and ground and counter 33 years of living unaware that I was being an amazingly resilient survivor who didn't have to be coping alone.

I'm out of the belly of the misogynist beast.
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