Review of She Wants It: Desire, Power and Toppling the Patriarchy.

When I received this book to review I really was not sure what to expect. I had no clue as to who Jill Soloway is, I was just interested in the topic. That said, the title of the book is very misleading because this is very much an account of Jill’s life and her struggle with gender identity.

I am not mocking her for this, I am applauding her for sharing her story and the struggles she too has faced. We tend to believe that successful people have never faced the same issues as the ordinary person, so Jill’s book is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the issues surrounding gender identity and even the #MeToo movement.

As is the case with all personal stories, the book was kind of slow in places. There are moments where you wonder what the point is she is trying to get to, but get to it she does.

Having never heard of Jill before reading this book I don’t really have that much to say with regards to how she may have come across in a book versus media personality sort of way. My opinion is that she comes across as strong and determined. That she doesn’t let anything get in her way. Having said this, she does have struggles just like anybody else.

All in all this book is an excellent read. Informative and thought-provoking.

Review of Roar.

This book appealed to me as soon as I saw the title. Thirty short stories by thirty women who were sharing their stories, their voice with the world. I have seen some fairly negative reviews on this book and did wonder if I had maybe picked a book that was not as good as I had initially thought.

The stories in this book are all inspiring, not really in a “grab em by the balls” sort of way, but in a way that shows there is always someone out there who is having issues in their life too.

Having read through the book I found I was disagreeing with the critics, but that doesn’t make their opinion any less valid, on the contrary, it allows us to see that this book is dividing opinions, and therefore it makes it worthy of a read.

I didn’t have a clear favourite story, each time I read one I would think about how much I felt what that particular woman was going through. Then I would move onto the next story and the same feelings were evoked again.

Each story is thought-provoking. Each story touches you somewhere deep inside and stirs up a whole host of emotions. From the story about the woman who feels invisible to the story about the refugee mother who feels fear each time she takes her children to school.

This book gives a voice to all women who feel alienated in one way or another. This book champions women the world over, giving the female population a voice to be heard, allowing our struggles to come forth and challenge them.

It may not be to everyone’s taste, and that’s perfectly fine. My opinion is that I found it very thought-provoking and humbling. I felt a deep sense of respect for these women who shared their stories, albeit through the author.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Cracking me wide open.​

Today was my first session of reliving my trauma.

It’s weird, I have discussed my trauma with relevant people before, but I have never actually talked about the violence that was inflicted upon me. Today I didn’t exactly do the reliving part, because I couldn’t go there. My therapist told me this was a hot spot for me. We had an in-depth discussion about how I was going to move forward, I chose to do everything I could to pick this trauma apart and stop it ruling my life.

During the session I discovered a couple of forgotten memories – one is distressing, the other was wondering what happened to my shoes. Back in the days when I could walk in high heel shoes, I would take them off whenever I got drunk. I’m sure many of you can relate!

After the attack, I knew I had lost items of clothing and this was documented by the police, who, despite me not reporting the crime for around a month, searched the area to see if they could locate my clothing.

My shoes, on the other hand, have been forgotten about until today. I have no recollection of them. My skirt, torn and ruined, I kept for some morbid reason, but my shoes were forgotten about.

After the session I had to go to another appointment before I could go home. Now I’m at home and I’ve had time to process the session I have to admit I feel completely dead inside. Not being able to let the reliving process run through is very normal for people going through this kind of therapy, it takes as long as it takes.

I have pushed the dark, blobby monster back inside and that has left me feeling drained and empty. I guess this is a normal response. I talked with my husband about what had come up in the session and that’s as much as I have managed.

What the therapist did decipher was one reason why my fear is so rooted. My initial reaction to being grabbed was that someone I knew was playing a trick on me, but very quickly I realised this was not someone I knew, but a stranger intent on doing me harm.

I actually believed I would die that night. My blood ran cold and fear rendered me helpless. I was acutely aware of the knife and feared my throat would be cut, or that I would be stabbed. So my initial thought was not that I was about to be raped, but that I was going to be murdered.

The flashbacks that I have are always fragmented and are very much of the attack. With the exception of having to detail the attack to the police and telling my husband, I have never actually spoken about the attack in its entirety.

This means I have never dealt with that fear of being killed. OK, yes, I know I wasn’t stabbed, but being held at knifepoint while a sick bastard defiles you is extremely distressing. That fear of my life being snuffed out that night is actually rooting me in a place of fear, not just concerning the rape, but the threat that was posed upon my life that night.

My therapist thinks that I have never been able to process the attack because of this fear. That makes so much sense, presented like that. The sessions with other professionals I have had have all been designed to make me safe – with the child psychiatrist I was drinking, sniffing solvents, and forcing myself to be sick. She, the psychiatrist, did go over the attack, but I didn’t go into graphic details with her. Besides, she had the police report so it was never necessary for me to go into too much detail.

This is the first time I have attempted to work through these memories and trauma. This is the first time I have wanted to face this shit head on and deal with it.

I am going to spend the next few days being kind and gentle with myself. I may have recurring flashbacks and nightmares now that we have prised the door open, but I will hopefully be able to deal with all of that.

New beginnings.

Readers of this blog will undoubtedly know I suffer from PTSD. Some of you know why, some of you may not.

I was attacked. Brutally attacked. Violently attacked. I was held at knifepoint whilst he invaded my body, brutally, violently, against my will. I had no will. He took that from me. My voice left me during that harrowing ordeal. My power was taken from me.

If you want the ugly truth, I was raped at knifepoint when I was 16 years old by a serial rapist.

I’ve tried to blog about this in away that isn’t harrowing so many times. But the truth is that it is so very harrowing, there is no way to make it less so. I’m not going to detail the attack here, it’s too much. I’m establishing a space for myself as I go through the next part of my therapy – reliving my trauma.

My therapist has encouraged me to write about this process in a way that I feel comfortable with, mostly this will be done in a private journal. As you can imagine, some of what will come up will be excruciatingly challenging for me to deal with, therefore baring my soul to the world in such circumstances isn’t going to be the best thing for me.

That said, as we are here, at a new year, I wanted to share my journey and see how I evolve over the coming weeks and months. I know this is going to be tough, the reason we haven’t started the hard work yet is because my therapist wanted me to be able to enjoy the festive season with my family.

But now the new year is here I am ready to face this challenge.

I’ve had therapy several times before for this trauma. After the attack I spent almost a year receiving treatment from a child psychiatrist. She taught me how to control my flashbacks and triggers. But I think I took her technique a step too far because I switched a lot of my emotions off completely. I also managed to block out huge chunks of that period of time, the attack, the aftermath, the subsequent days, weeks and months afterwards. Yet snippets of memory play out in my mind, mostly when I least expect it. Quite a lot of the time I get triggered by TV and social media and this often brings about another snippet that I have unsuccessfully blocked out.

I’ve had a couple of counselling sessions for issues that were kind of connected to the trauma, but looking back now I can see those treatments were inadequate for the monster that hides inside of me. Yes, we’ve established I have a huge monster simmering away inside of me, who let’s rip every now and then, but gets squashed back down.

The monster needs to be released. The monster prevents me from experiencing life on all levels. I’ve been dead emotionally since 1987. I’ve been operating at a hyper vigilant state for 31 years and I am exhausted. In simplistic terms I switched my emotions off so that I could deal with the trauma inflicted upon me. I became emotionless and hyper vigilant. That meant I was in control.

But we all know what happens when the tipping point is reached. And yep, you’ve guessed it, my tipping point was reached when I had the MRI. This time I couldn’t get it all stuffed back inside, it just wouldn’t fit.

And so that is how I’ve landed on this path, the path that will finally deal with the trauma that almost broke me so many years ago. The path where I have to face the huge, scary monster that lurks within and terrifies the crap out of me.

It’s time to face my demons and slay them once and for all.

I have to admit, I am really not looking forward to the upcoming sessions, what needs to come out is dark and ugly and nasty. But I need to let it out, to release it and let go of it completely. It’s time to heal the young girl inside of me who hurts so badly from what a sick and evil bastard did to her. She’s still writhing in agony inside of me, seeing the trauma, feeling the trauma, reliving it over and over again; she needs healing and only when she heals will I heal.

I need to reconnect that young girl with me, the me in the present. My therapist told me that it’s interesting how I often talk about the young girl as if she were someone else. Logically I know she’s me, but I fear her. She’s hurt. She’s battered and bruised, both outside and inside. She’s afraid.

I fear her.

And so the journey begins………