Colin said to me… you dress like you’re always going to battle. And in some ways, I do. It’s honestly the only thing I know how to do very well.
When Colin said that, he didn’t mean for it to be insulting. He actually meant it as a compliment. He himself loves military inspired looks and we actually feed off of each other when layering this way. And you know me, I love military inspired coats, tops, shoes, basically anything with exude strength. And I think the main reason why I dress like this is because I couldn’t protect that little girl before, but now I can. It is as though how I dress today is my childhood manifested in adult form.
Going back to what Colin said, it is a battle and one major thing changed after I saw my parents. I’ve been battling with a particular infection for the last 19 years and something changed after my brother’s wedding.
When I shared my child abuse story, I got a lot of questions from women asking if I had trouble with intimacy. And I’m so happy that we’re able to talk about it openly. And answer is yes. Both physically and emotionally. Emotionally, it’s always a work in progress. Physically, it’s something that caused me years of pain. Every time after sex, I would get a UTI. And I did everything… I drank a lot of water, pee after sex, drank cranberry juice, cranberry tablets, every word the medical pamphlet told me to do. And NOTHING worked. The only thing that worked were antibiotics. Visiting the doctor and going to the ER became a regular routine for me. I was prescribed so many antibiotics and so many different types of antibiotics that I developed resistance to six major kinds. My brother joked and said… if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, you’ll be the first to die because antibiotics don’t work on you anymore.
I tried everything. I had a urologist take a look, had an ultrasound, got blood work done, and they couldn’t find anything. Finally, I went to a pelvic floor therapist. On our first session, she went in and felt my pelvic floor. She said, my regular relaxed response is like someone having a fight-or-flight response. My pelvic floor muscle was always contracted. And working with trauma patients, she needed to stabilize my acute stress response and relax my pelvic floor. So in a way, my body was always battle ready. The pelvic floor therapy did work for a little bit, but it didn’t stop my UTIs completely.
Leading up to my brother’s wedding, I was extremely anxious. And when I saw my parents walking down the aisle and my relatives there, they didn’t look big or larger than life as before. They physically looked smaller than what I imagined in my head. And in that moment, my pelvic floor dropped. I felt a weight lifted and I was able to take complete and full breaths. It was as though, I felt that I no longer needed to tap into my fight-or-flight response. For the first time in my life, I felt safe. And the warrior in me was able to put down her sword and shield. After seeing my parents, I have not gotten a UTI. Being on antibiotics for 19 years, I was finally antibiotics-free for the last three months.
I’m sharing this story, because when people think about trauma or sexual abuse survivors, they usually think about the mental and emotional pain, but not the physical manifestation of that trauma. It’s incredible how the human body works and how it holds trauma. When I was younger and through the criminal trials, my fight-or-flight response probably saved me. It helped me respond to the trauma by keeping me alert and alive. But as I got older, that same protective response resulted in unforeseen aches and pain.
Other than not having UTIs, my stress response has significantly improved. For example, I don’t get as anxious in elevators anymore. During the trails, my parents and relatives rushed at me and my investigator wrapped me under her blazer and pushed me in an elevator for safety. To this day when I’m inside an elevator, I feel a jolt of anxiety when the elevator doors open. That jolt of anxiety is not as bad as before anymore.
I’m so happy that I can dress like I’m going to battle without my body thinking it’s still in battle. Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. Thank you for letting me share. Today and always, thank you thank you.
To all survivors out there, sending you endless love. What you endured as a child was wrong. The emotional and physical pain that you endure as an adult makes this world an unjust place. If you’re feeling pain (headaches, body aches, bladder infections, etc.), a potential source of that physical pain might be from the trauma. I wish you nothing, but the best this world has to offer. Please stay strong.
As always, thank you so much for reading!