"When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.
The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”
All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.
And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.”
I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit - a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person.
I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it. I said yes because I thought I was so ugly and fat that I should just take sex every time it was offered, because who knew when it would be offered again. I said yes to partners I never wanted in the first place, because to say no at any point after saying yes for so long would make our entire relationship a lie, so I had to keep saying yes in order to keep the “no” I felt a secret. That is such a messed-up way to live, such an awful way to love.
So these days, I say yes only when I mean yes. It does require some vigilance on my part to make sure I don’t just go on sexual automatic pilot and let people do whatever. It forces me to be really honest with myself and others. It makes me remember that loving myself is also about protecting myself and defending my own borders. I say yes to me.
“I compare my mental illness to a person with a broken leg. I can get the survival basics down, the standing and walking. But even then I sometimes need support. And people don’t seem to understand: just because I was doing fine with a crutch doesn’t mean I’m healed enough to not need it any more. And then people approach me telling me to run a mile. I can hardly stand by myself, and they’re asking me to run a mile. I try explaining to them that I can’t. Not that I won’t, I CAN’T. But they don’t hear me. “Just try,” they say, “Everyone else struggles too. You need to run like everybody else.” And so I try, just like I’m told. And I hobble for a few steps before crumbling down - the pain in my leg is just too much to bear. And so I sit on the sidelines. Not by my own accord, not because they acknowledged my limits, but because I had to be in pain right before their eyes before they saw my problem. I had to demonstrate publicly the pain I was in before they believed me. And now I sit, ashamed, on the sidelines, everyone knowing how weak I am in comparison. And I had no say in it.”—Broken Minds and Broken Legs (via audrotas)