Beyond the Outward Appearance

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A picture I drew at 12am, in the dark, upset and couldn’t sleep.
June 2012, Kris Hannah

One year ago, I hit a devastating low that I never thought I would ever reach. No one knew the turmoil I was struggling with, as I hid it from everyone around me. Many knew some details but couldn’t handle or comprehend the depth of my struggles. I was in an abusive relationship, dealing with being raped in my past, and trying to take care of my little girl while holding down a job. We had just moved to Wyoming, where I was isolated from everyone and had zero support. When I hit that low, I had no clue where to turn or what to do.

After begging my husband to take me back down to Texas for a week, he finally drove me and I went into the hospital. I was super scared. I went to the Emergency Room at 5pm on Friday, was going through intake Saturday at 2am, where they searched everything and took whatever was prohibited, and by 5am, I was in my bed crying myself to sleep wondering if I had made the right decision. I didn’t wake up until Monday morning. I didn’t want to go to group, and only woke up long enough to speak to my doctor. Things felt hopeless.

I was only inpatient for 10 days but it felt so much longer. They had activities scheduled for most of the day. Group was 2-3 times a day, activity therapy, one-on-one therapy once a week, and we could choose to do family therapy if we wanted. Every morning, we filled out a sheet on how we were feeling and what we wanted to accomplish that day. And after lunch, we had journaling time for an hour.

The problem was we weren’t allowed pens, and the pencils they supplied were smaller than 3 inches. We were allowed to use markers, but they were worn out and run down or went missing. Even though journaling was encouraged, the circumstances weren’t ideal for anyone who truly wanted to journal.

The best moments inpatient were when I was laughing and coloring with the other patients. I realized that many were also depressed, just like me. When I went inpatient, my parents saw me as weak, but in actuality, the strongest thing I could have ever done was get the help I needed. This was the first time I was allowed to not pretend to be stronger than I felt. As I started reaching out for help and journaling, I finally felt a strength I hadn’t felt in such a long time.I flourished and finally found something enjoyable for myself. I took notes in every aspect of therapy, journaled like crazy, and even started drawing again. I went through FOUR composition books and my pages looked like rainbows. It felt great doing such a ‘childish’ thing.

I know many people don’t understand what would send someone into a mental hospital, but it is time to break down those walls. The people in my unit were not mentally insane. They were not crazy or psychos. They were seeking help in the best way possible. Just because their troubles were not physical, it doesn’t make them any less. Just imagine how many don’t get help and choose a more permanent solution. It saved my life and helped me get out of my abusive relationship.

When I left, I vowed that I would help future patients in the same way I was helped. I never realized how significant those markers and composition books were in my recovery, but they were. And I hope that by donating what I can, others can feel that also. Each month, I would love to be able to deliver washable markers, composition books, coloring books, and a set of resources for those inpatient.

If you have any suggestions or would like to help, please let me know by commenting or emailing me at krisahannah @ gmail.

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Choosing to Move Forward

It’s been a while since I have been on here. Guess it’s time for a little update on my life.

  1. Started therapy in September
  2. Reported my second rape in October
  3. Separated and filed for divorce in November
  4. Been trying to deal with my first rape.

victim decide to survive

Months ago, I decided that I needed to stop playing games and choose to move forward whether it be with my family or not. As I am sure I mentioned, I spent the Summer in the hospital because of suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t escape. My life was going nowhere and I felt so trapped. I wasn’t in a good place at all. Once I started therapy in September, I realized that this was my time to fight. No more getting walked on, no more hiding my pain, no more “playing nice”. I needed to become healthy and that includes healthy relationships.

When I decided this, I thought I would lose my mom as she was toxic, but I soon realized that my husband was more toxic. Every time I would take a step in the right direction, he would pull me back 4 steps. This was no good. The constant circles and the bickering were killing me inside.

I remember sitting outside in my car so determined to finally report my rape. Days later, another argument about things we talked about for a whole year and a half. That was when I decided that my marriage came second and I came first. I was more worried about losing myself again than losing my marriage. Maybe my husband could see that because that was when things just started crumbling.

I honestly cant remember when or how I went to the police station to report but I did. The women’s center lady came with me and it was done within 30 minutes. I still haven’t heard back from them, but I am not so worried about that right now. At least it is filed. I have been trying to do that for a year and have been kicking myself for not speaking up for 8 years. So it was about time.

To be honest, I think that my marriage ended the way it did because I would not have sex with my husband once. I have only turned him down twice in 5 years, and both times he threw a fit saying “Let me know when I can touch MY WIFE” and proceeding to leave or sleep on the couch. If anyone has been a victim, they know that sometimes flashbacks and nightmares mess things up in your head. He couldn’t understand that. All he knew was that he spent all this money and did all this stuff for our date night, only to get no sex.

I see my therapist every Tuesday and most of the time we are and were talking about things that happened within our marriage. I have realized a lot wrong with my marriage and things I need to work on. But I have also realized that I deserve better and my husband is unwilling to do that, no matter how many times he NOW begs to get back together, after HE filed for divorce (which he blames on his sister).

But besides that, every now and then, I am able to speak of my first rape. We had some issues where she pissed me off at one point, but we got past it. And in the last few days, I have been dealing with the blame I still have in my first rape. I am still not quite sure how grooming works and I am working on it, but it is very difficult.

{If anyone has found any good articles on Grooming, I would love to read them.}

Today, my brother been on my case about how I deal with my rapes and divorce. Eh, maybe I will create a whole new post on this topic as it is still on going and I am not exactly sure what he means by my current divorce affects how I blame myself with my first rape. Interesting concept, right? We’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll go into more detail later about things, but this is more generally what’s been going on.

Anyway, thank you for reading.

Update, Hospitalization, and Progressive Health

Been a long while since I have been on this blog or any. Actually, I haven’t been on the internet in like forever because of what started at the end of May. I got to a point where I wanted to beat my husband up in his sleep, crying myself to sleep every night, major anxiety, and so much more. My husband confronted me at my work because he happened to see that I was talking about partial hospitalization on fb. I told him I was serious. He understood after reading about wanting to beat him up. I just couldn’t handle this “normal” (fake) life anymore. I was hurting and no one cared. Even my cousin (the only one in the family I talk to) told me she was tired of talking about it, and we only talked about it maybe 4 times within a year. Anyways, so off to the hospital I went.

I uprooted my family from one part of the country to the other with my wanting to go back to where I grew up to make sure I got the best care, since there were no trauma therapists or support groups within 2 hours of where we lived. Hated that town anyways!

I went into the ER at 4:30pm, brought to the Mental Hospital here at 2am, and finally laid my head down on one of the inpatient beds at 4am. I slept that whole day or two. I was that depressed. My husband had to go back and work but I was inpatient for 10 days. The best 10 days I could have ever gotten. I really do recommend people going and getting help if they are thinking suicidal or that depressed.

(On the way to my hometown, I wanted to jump out of the car, but I turned my music on and went to sleep for the 23 hour drive.)

After inpatient I was outpatient in the PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) there while I slept on my dad’s couch. Once my husband drove back down we got a hotel for Hubby and Cupcake (*Not her real name, our daughter). The suicidal thoughts started coming more frequent when interacting with my husband and daughter. If only I was dealing with my past rapes. Rape started a long process of unhealthy relationships for me.

Since they wanted to get me reevaluated again, I got sent inpatient for a LONG 5 days. It was unexpected and very aggravating. I made the doctors think everything was fine. It was easier that way because not having jobs or a place to live and my physical health was more important to me.

Now I realize that, yes, I am living my life after rape, but I am not defined by anything. Not MDD or PTSD or anything. I am me and all I can do is me. I took very colorful notes inpatient and outpatient and have finally been released from the programs. I wish I could stay there for those who are just now coming into the program and be an advocate for them. It is so essential that they realize it is more than just sitting there in the groups, but soaking up the knowledge the therapists and doctors are giving them. I feel like I did all I could do there for my own personal growth.

Now that I am out, I am still journalling from time to time (with markers in composition books) and looking into DBT. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses on Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness, which the inpatient therapist tried to go over with me. Thinking more rationally than emotionally minded when it comes to situations where I perceive distress in relationships. I feel like I have lots of resources and help and I will gladly pass them on to others who need help just surviving LIFE, let alone abuse.

Strive for PROGRESSION, NOT Perfection. I want to surround myself with progressively healthy people than people who are stuck and unhealthy to what my needs are.

Think I might coin that phrase if it already isn’t… “PROGRESSIVELY HEALTHY” or “PROGRESSIVE HEALTH”

Silenced No More

This weekend, at my family’s Christmas / Birthday party, I told my mom about being raped. I didn’t know what she would say or react to it, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold it in much longer. I had already told my father, an aunt, my cousin, and my brother’s girlfriend, but the rest of my family, including my mother, hadn’t known about it. The last time I tried to let them know I was dealing with things was last year, but without me sharing the R word (as I still wasn’t at a point of calling it that) they were quite confused and I suppressed it for another 6 months. It has been seven years of pure silence… from the world and from my own self. I’ve noticed that the more I open up to my past, the easier it is to cope with. Granted, I have those people who cannot handle talking or thinking about the subject at hand, but for those who can, it definitely helps me break the silence a little more each time.

When talking to a friend, I mentioned how the silence kills. And it truly does. For the last seven years, I have blamed myself for that night. I couldn’t tell my mom, as I let him in my house. I couldn’t tell my friend, as she wished me luck before he came over and I couldn’t understand how she could ever understand the magnitude of rape (I know I couldn’t). I couldn’t tell a school counselor, as my school didn’t have programs like the WAR Program in a Florida school does. And the morning after, I couldn’t even break up with him. If he would have just raped me and that be the end of it, things might have turned out differently. But the morning after he raped me, I was being told by a girl I barely knew that I was called his stalker. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he confirmed it with long conversations of me begging him to stay with me. My virginity was always a special thing to me, so when he took it, it truly destroyed me. I felt broken and used and no matter what I did, I could not get my virginity back. That’s a very touchy subject I stay away because I cannot always handle the emotions that come with that right now. One thing at a time, I guess.

Anyways, after being silenced for 7+ years, I have come to a point in my life, in my recovery, that I have to speak out. I have to release this blame that I have allowed him to hold over my head for too darn long. In my head, this is not my problem anymore. I did nothing wrong and I deserve to have people know the real me, and I shouldn’t have to pretend to make others feel better. Granted, I probably will still, but at least they know and they can either decide to support me or go on their merry way. Sorry, I’ve just come to the realization that I cannot please everyone and this is my time to heal. It’s almost like I’ve been conditioned to not have my own voice or feel like I am allowed to have an opinion. I have always been a kind-hearted person. I like that about me, but I can no longer be someone’s door mat. I struggle. I won’t hide that. I have a lot to deal with and I hope as each therapy session closes and more steps have been taken in my recovery, that I can have the life I deserve… one that is happy. I am determined to not be his victim anymore. I will be nobody’s victim, if I have my say.

A little bit about my story…

When I was fifteen, I was raped by my first boyfriend. I was naive and stupid and thought that I could trust him and he would respect me. After seven years of suppressing and denying what happened, I could no longer hold it in. In June 2011, I was watching a rerun of Law and Order: SVU where they were talking about sexual assault statistics. For some reason, I told my brother’s girlfriend about the incident, and from there I realized that I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I started writing all of my feelings and thoughts and memories out trying to work through them, but I still felt so lost. He raped me seven years ago, but I am a happily married woman with a beautiful young daughter. How could I bring this up after so long and wasn’t I happy? Yes, I was, but at the same time, I wasn’t… because I never dealt with being raped. It had affected my life and my reactions, but I never realized it. Plus, after dealing with the rape and talking about how I was bullied as a young child, a repressed memory was triggered by a joke my husband made… one I would prefer to forget. I was 12 and assaulted by a girl bully who pretended to be my friend. Dealing with same-sex assault has been the hardest challenge I have faced, and one that I have placed on the back burner for now. Not trying to repress or suppress it, but trying not to overwhelm myself with too much, as one attack is hard enough. This process started six months ago, and I have come so far from that first night. I still have a long way to go, but I am now in therapy, my husband knows my whole story, and I have  online support that has been very crucial in my beginning stages of recovery.

Just thought I’d share a little bit about my story before I started talking about what else is happening in my journey (i.e., my therapist appointment yesterday and my decision to report a rape to the police). I’ll leave those for another post though.