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The Core II

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I skimmed back and read the Core entry. it is chilling in its honesty, and in the reality of what I am laying out there. Coming home from florida, I find myself exhausted and small. I stand ambivalent about this battle. I do not want to fight, but rather to give up. I hate that. How can I so easily decide to walk away from so much. I feel weak of character in that moment. Sitting still while those around me shuffle the chess pieces of this life. Watching as they rage against each other while I sit quiet in the midst of this war. I can barely get my fingers to type, the exhaustion so deep, I only wish to close my eyes. I have no thought. My mind is numb and silent. Only the echoes of questions from others reverberate within my skull. I am empty and hollow right now with no emotions.

Floor? what floor

Remember that carnival ride where you entered a circular ride. It would spin, faster and faster. As it reached its maximum velocity the floor beneath your feet would suddenly fall away. It was a sickening moment as you realized you were pinned to the wall solely by the force of the spin. I knew my world was spinning, and I knew there where so many moving pieces in play. I still didn’t anticipate the moment the floor fell away. I am in a lost and sickened state. My head storm tossed and struggling to find a horizon to center my navigation again. I don’t know how to find my footing here. It is rapidly deteriorating, and I just don’t know how to stop the slide. As the seroquel lulls me into a false peace my mind swirls in ugly muddied waters. Roiling and black to the core.

The core

As I sat in session contemplating my relationship with my father, and the huge issues that loom large on the horizon, one simple though struck me. It was clear as day, in the midst of all the uncertainty and the questions of past, present and future. It stood starkly in contrast to all the work we do. I’m not supposed to be here. There was a brief moment when words left my lips when I wished I could rewind and swallow them. To leave them hidden where they linger in plain sight lounging lazily in my deepest recesses. Never moving, and always waiting. I don’t share that, and almost never talk about it. It is the backdrop to my endless loop of an existence. yet, it remains. Beatrice paused, taking in the information I was clearly laying before her. I immediately felt bad. Somehow those few words felt as if I had lain a sacrificial lamb at her feet. I looked away. She asked for more. I wavered then. It was a painful spot. For all the years, and hours spent working with me, I was no different, there deep in my heart. My mind has changed, and I have developed into a very different person than I once was. yet on the most fundamental level I still place so little value on myself. I look to my greatest failure, and wish I could have just done that one small task well enough. I didn’t, and I am still here. Most of the time I don’t want to be. I think often of it. Probably far too frequently. All of this mess would not have been mine to untangle. This vicious battle on the horizon over assets, and money would not be mine to wage. None of this. Beatrice asked me a few question, but the moment hung in the air. Sitting squat and vicious, the very ugly truth. I do not speak about my inner dialog, and almost never about how small and pointless I feel in its shadow. Even in my brightest moments, graduating college, buying this farm, meeting my partner, winning in whatever sport I chose, or completing goals I never thought possible- tough mudder, or the 1/2 marathon, it sits there waiting. Always waiting, and always returning. I doesn’t matter how good it is, the reality of what lays at the core, in my heart overtakes it. It is so ugly, and so awful. there it sat between Beatrice and I. I was feeling a little naked in my honesty. I know it isn’t what she wanted to hear. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to work with someone and try so hard to get them well. After all that to hear them say, plain as day, the biggest regret in their life was not tying a knot right/ or have been found hanging in restraints. To not have ended their life when they tried. Those defining moments forever lodged in my heart as failure. The reality remains, as well as I seem, my inner core remains as dark and dysfunctional as it ever was. We may change the paint, and dress up the windows, but the basement is as deeply scary as it ever was. The most horrifying part, I’m fine with that. As I walked out her door it all slid back into place. I know I will never change. She may well be right that the epic power struggle between my father and I, even as a young child shifted my development. Invited into a game I could never win, though clearly thought I could. We clashed as titans for years. In a steady play of manipulation and power struggle. The stakes were huge, my life hung in the balance. Not my living and breathing, but my development as a human being. There are many that would skim my charts and pull out the trauma as the key to my dysfunction as an adult. They would be wrong. The key lies in the relationship with my father, and to a lesser degree my mother. But my father built this house, and the horrific ground floor upon which it rises. Those dark and nightmarish rooms that house self hate, and judgement were of his design. He alone stands as architect of my psyche. I understand that. I know it is how I was raised, and how over years and years I grew into an adult, that at her core, believes she is worthless. It is easy to discard, or kill what you don’t love. There it is, on the table, the very root of the problem. The hate and self loathing that drive the miserable back drop to my mundane existence. Those qualities only hone the suicidal mind into a sharp and lethal reality. I know I am not meant to survive. Not in the sense that I am weak of body, or mind, but that I am weak of foundation upon which everything else rests. We cannot go back now, we cannot remove the foundation without the structure falling down. I do not hold any hope that it is repairable. I have done extraordinary things, and they do not change it. I told Beatrice, if I were to climb Everest, it would matter little, for the voice would be back when I reached the base. It matters not what I do, or accomplish. I am stubborn, and stupid, willing to get up and try again. It is exhausting, and one of these days I will sit down and refuse to challenge it once more. I would never have were it not for Virgil, and later Beatrice. They taught me to try, even when I did not want to. I do not want to hurt either of them, or somehow have people call into question their ability to treat me (as my family does). It just isn’t fixable. Short of a magic wand to rewind time, and place, and somehow deposit an infant me in some other family, it all remains the same. I do not believe you can learn to love yourself, not after almost 40 years of bone chilling hate. That does not go gently into the good night. it holds on with tooth and nail, snarling while clutching your throat. This is not a battle I can win, or a race I can run. It is done.

Understanding Ohio

I left session yesterday and set off for a long run. The session was weighing heavily on my head and I could not settle. Instead of just finding my breath and rhythm, I was looking around. In the bushes, behind me, anything but the trail. I never found my groove. I had to claw and fight for every last mile. It was miserable. I realized how far outside my norm I was treading. It wasn’t just the running, it was where my head was at. I take for granted how I had trained my body to relax into the work. To lose the world and only run in a blank mindful state. Running in a hypervigilant state disrupts everything. I’m not saying you need to concentrate hard to run, but you have to focus. How much energy is put into each stride, how fast you are going all need the brain to work. Yesterday none of that was working. My run was irregular, and uneven. That takes more energy as it is less efficient. Changing your stride does nothing to help. So I just kept struggling to find that click. Hints of it came thru, but it never stayed. My long run this week was supposed to be 15 miles. That wasn’t going to happen. I could have run that far, but as I got out around mile 6 there were some abandoned buildings and I just said fuck it and turned back, I didn’t think anymore anxiety was going to help my effort. The run back was rough, and my head just would not let go. I actually found myself counting off each 1/2 mile. trying anything to keep myself running. 12.68 miles felt like an eternity.

The true issue was not the distance. It was not my ability to train that day. I can blame the fatigue still lingering from racing the half marathon distance, but that isn’t really it. I’m distracted. Even more so, I was fearful yesterday. It didn’t register as such. Though when I go back and make notes for the training log it becomes clear. I know that the rape case kicked up some dust and that I need to let it settle again. I had not though about why I was reacting to this case. In session we talked thru some of it and it became clear there were some parallels. I identified with this kid. I could not imagine what it might be like now. The day after I was date raped in high school word had traveled far and wide (without the aid of texts and video). I didn’t know it. I came in late, as was often the case when I was hung over. I walked into a school wide student assembly in our large gym. I couldn’t quite understand the looks on my friend’s faces, or the steady hushed whispers of everyone as I walked past. The laughter, and the snickering. row after row after row. I started to understand that I was the brunt of the joke. A cold sweat laced with alcohol was trickling down my back. I made it about as far as halfway before I turned and fled. That got them all laughing. I was running for the bathroom. I sat on the cold tile floor staring blindly at the contents of my stomach. Barely aware of the long sticky string of drool still clinging to the worn old black toilet seat. I could tell you the temperature, the textures and the smells. I was so acutely aware of everything. It is seared into my memory. It was the day I learned what it felt like to be publicly humiliated and shamed. It was worse than any abuse I have ever experienced. Far worse. This was insidious and venomous. It worked its way thru the student body before I ever saw it coming. I was labeled a slut, along with a lot of other ugly words. He was held up on a pedestal. The jock football player who had gone on a conquest and come back triumphant. The victor, and the one they all looked to. But he wasn’t done. He had to talk about it. He had to tell them how awful I was in bed. Well gee it is hard to perform when you are handcuffed and are begging the person please don’t do it. But those were the details he couldn’t share publicly. For then he would be a rapist. Only he and I knew what went on behind that closed door. As the days went on the furor died down. Strangely one of the main reasons was my brother (yes the rapist. the one that pinned me beneath him not 3 years before). He put the fear of god in this kid. I never saw bruises, so I don’t think he beat the shit out of him. He did something because the chatter stopped. Cold. I was blessed in some weird sick way. I had someone to look out for me. That day I sat beside my puke and cried I thought my life was over. I didn’t care. I would rather have died than walked back out that bathroom door. I stayed there. Frozen in place on the tile. My mind rewound that night and it replayed it over and over again. The bite of the steel handcuffs on my wrist as I struggled against them. The smell of his desire. The hush of the room when I stilled against the coming pain. It lasted but a moment before his breath and the swish of the cotton sheets became a dull roar in my ears. It was the loudest quiet I ever heard. Even now if I close my eyes I can hear it. I can feel his fingers yank and pull before they find their way into me. so rough and mean. yeah, even fingers can feel mean when used as weapons. I can feel my eyes snap shut in an attempt to block it all. To think the simple act of closing ones eyes might protect them. There is no reason in those moments. There is only pain and horror. This case came close to home. It pounded on a door long since closed and pushed away. I could not help but respond to the calling. They hurt that girl, but beyond that they humiliated her. Just as I was publicly shamed and humiliated. I could tell you what she is going thru. I walked that path. I can imagine her, wounded and small thinking death is far better than here. It only gets worse to push the thoughts and images away. I let them filter in and skitter away. Trying not to look to hard, or examine each one. To write seems to help. Here will be my place to dump them, cold and hard in fits and starts. If it doesn’t make sense it is because there is no sense to them. Only their existence and the need to put them somewhere.

Run in thought

As I slogged thru a brutal trail run yesterday my thoughts actually strayed quite a bit. That is the exception. I rarely think while running. I think I was struggling so hard with the wet heavy snow my head was looking for any excuse not to remain in the present. It was one of the worst runs I can remember. Guess I was due for one eventually. There are always moments in every run that don’t feel all that great. Today it was the entire run, okay well not the awesome downhill runs. those were quite fun since it was closer to skiing than running. I think I just missed that window when the snow was decent to run on and ended up running some very heavy wet melting mess. Add the weight of the snow, my wool socks and inov-8s and I might as well have strapped ankle weights on. ugh. so back to my mid torture thoughts. My blog entry from the other night hung around. Often I write and the words leave me. As if adrift in the wind and pulled far and wide. They don’t linger and they do not settle in. I guess rape is different. Would be ridiculous of me to think it could scuttle off like a crinkled late fall leaf on a gusty november day. So it has decided to take up residence in my head for a bit. It is not a bad thing. I think we all need to revisit parts of our lives. Do I want to take this wander down memory lane? no, not really. Though I have reached a point in my life where I can track back over them, even in detail without having to revisit it emotionally. Or as was the case early on after the incidents, to actually experience them again physically. Racing heart, anxiety, fear, and panic. These days I don’t get that. Sure, I have moments where my heart will skip a bit, and I get that uncomfortable sensation in my chest. Usually a response to a visual depiction in a movie or TV show. During Girl With the Dragon Tattoo there is a brutal rape scene. right up there in intensity with some of the other memorable ones ie The Accused…I knew it was coming since I had read the book. I didn’t think Hollywood would have gone that far to stay true to the book, but they did. I do okay though. I just check myself and take a breath. Center my mind and be present and all is okay. Given this I do not get anxious as my mind wanders back, slow and lazy over each life changing event. They all are very different. Each coming at different points in my life. One might ask, which was the worst. Easily I would answer the stranger/ sex offender holding me at knife point. The rape by my brother was terrible, but I knew he wasn’t going to kill me. Did her hurt me? yes, on so many levels. But I knew he wouldn’t take my life. That night in Nyack was different. This was a stranger. A man I had never laid eyes on before. I could not determine what might happen in the next second, minute, or hour. As the night unfolded, I had no idea how long it would last. I didn’t know if I would make it to morning. I had no idea what was going to happen beyond he was going to rape me. It was that unknown coupled with the inability to understand this individual. It was impossible to read him. In the dark, with a sharp object pressed against my neck all sense seemed to leave my head. Judgement was skewed recklessly amidst my grey matter. It was near impossible to try and keep my wits about me. somehow I did, and some strange sense told me to just keep on talking when every cell in my body wanted nothing more than to be still and get it over with, whether that be rape or death. didn’t matter in those minutes pinned beneath a stranger. I didn’t care. Least I thought I didn’t. It couldn’t possibly be worse. To let go seemed so much simpler. So much is written about rape, and survival. Few capture the way time grinds to a halt. Within that experience it virtually stands still in the mind. So still and vast it is easy to get lost within it. When questioned by the police about my actions, and the time it took to get to them, I had no answer. From the moment this man made contact to the second I stepped in the front door of that police station there was no time in my mind. Sure one can look at a clock, and precisely count the hours, minutes and seconds, yet they do not exist in my memory. They are gone. Jumbled amidst emotion and terror. Does 11pm mean anything when your life is hanging in the balance? or 12:15am? absolutely meaningless. Our lives are so defined by the watches we strap to our wrists, or the clocks that hang from our walls. Consider just how often we refer to them in the course of our day. In the absence of normalcy, they are useless. When only fear and inability to answer the simple question, will I survive this, they truly lose importance. As I ran yesterday, this was where my thoughts wandered. It was within the confines of that struggle over the steep climbs and heavy snow that I found myself back in time. I was okay with that. It gave me somewhere to be other than the fight to get thru one more mile and over one more hill.

Ohio Case

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I really have made a concerted effort not to follow the coverage of the Ohio rape case, but it has become very much a part of the main stream now. I cannot even fathom how the media has covered this case. Is this our society? Reading the response on FB has been interesting. As has been the discussion between my partner and I. I do not agree with the media releasing the victim’s name. That just took it all too far. However, to take any of the above quotes individually doesn’t really work. It is true they lost their athletic careers (promising football players), or that they lost their freedom (both incarceration, and carrying the label of sex offender), and it may well be true that the girl was drunk. Means nothing. The media gives it weight. What I do agree with is that these kids made a mistake. Teenagers don’t think as it is. They are young, impulsive and reckless. Throw alcohol or drugs into the mix and it is throwing fuel on an already burning inferno. Does that mean they should rape someone? no. I am just stating the obvious. So, while I have watched none of the coverage, I can say this happens all too frequently. It dovetails with the admonishment from my mother for running alone in remote areas, or Beatrice’s concern. We live in a world where we are prey. Sad isn’t it. We live in a world where we look at those around us carefully. Was that glance a moment too long? Is he lingering too close? Am I being followed? It wears at us. Over days, weeks, and years. So many of us get worn down. Fuck it, I’ll do what I want, when I want, wherever I want. It is a dangerous path to stray down, but it is born of frustration not stupidity or recklessness. I spent the better part of a year running alone sometimes in extremely remote woods, never once thinking about the obvious threat. It has just been recently, maybe because of the nonstop press about rape that it found its way into my consciousness. So there I was, way out in the park, lost again, and thinking what if. Not a good thing to be thinking about. Why I happened to cross paths with a guy out there this weekend I’ll never know. I needed it reinforced in my brain, just how alone I am out there. So what is the answer? I’m disarmed, so that isn’t an option. so it is down to pepper spray, since tasers and stun guns are illegal in NY. It is unfucking real. You have to purchase pepper spray from a firearms dealer, and fill out paperwork. What the fuck? Why do you need to know my height and weight to sell me something to protect myself with. Unreal. Anyhow, I am now armed. Does that make me safe, nope. Not even close. Does it make me feel any better? nope. Does it make my mother feel better, yeah probably. It doesn’t change the reality. I don’t think it has anything to do with much beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why did I step out onto my front porch that night to let my dog out, just as a sex offender was walking down my street? There is no answer. There is only fate. Or shall I say ill fate. Why did the man I worked for at the zoo in FL take a weird liking to me? I’ll never know. Why did someone walk into the commissary just as he had me completely pinned against the refrigeration units? Chance. Luck? sure. It was luck. I got away. I learned a lesson and kept myself in proximity with others all the time. He never caught me alone again, try as he might. It was just the way it worked out. In the hospital that night nurse got close enough to stop Stewart. I can still see the look of irritation in his face as he withdrew his filthy fingers. His desire so clearly evident, yet he knew he was going to get caught. It was fate. I wasn’t meant for me to be raped that night. Was I assaulted, yes, but it wasn’t his night. I walked away. Shaken, and terrified. I had learned a valuable lesson about how unsafe hospitals can be. It had not dawned on me yet that it was just as unsafe outside, as it was inside. Truly, in my heart I think it is either going to happen or it won’t. Do I think that means be stupid and take risks, no. But I will not cower and stop living my life. I won’t lie down and take it. I’m sorry. That just isn’t what I am going to do. I have lived thru countless brutal moments, moments I will never ever forget. Moments that shaped my life, and my development. They will not define me. I can say I am a victim. That is true, by definition, I am. I have seen the basest of behavior, and have looked into the eyes of another human being as they stripped me of my dignity, my sense of self, and my innate belief that goodness existed in our world, all to fulfill their desire and need. To stagger from those encounters and find a way to stand back up, is about survival, not victimhood. It wasn’t easy. I can say the nights in the shadow of an assault take on the most endless quality, it teases at your sanity and causes you to question everything your brain is telling you. To be unable to control your mind’s reaction to stimuli leaves you exhausted and storm-tossed. The exhaustion is mind bending as you struggle to keep vigilant. All that is what awaits in the aftermath. It doesn’t matter if you are raped, in the true legal definition, or if you are assaulted. The mind reacts the same. The world becomes unsafe, and it is all about survival. With time, and work, and space there is a place of peace. It does not take away the reality. Those rapes and attacks will be with me forever, but they aren’t WITH me in the sense that they once were. Sure, I still fear a lot of things, and I truly understand the risk we take as women, every time we walk out the door. I could easily allow my past to define my future, and even my present. I will not. I do not agree with Beatrice when she says I could not withstand another round of trauma. I could. I have already overcome so much. I never want to be in that position again, don’t get me wrong. But I will not lay down. I will not stop living my life. TO stop living my life would be no different from spreading my legs. There is a powerlessness when you withdraw. That park is my sanity, and my peace. I will not avoid it. I chose to live my life completely. That is my choice. I am a survivor, not a victim. No, I will not lay down and god help the next soul that looks at me as prey. I can tell you they won’t walk away. I am done being a victim.

planning

Still deciding what I would like to plan toward as my next race. I had a nice easy 7.5 mile trail run. It was a really nice run. The park was quiet, as usual. Came across a mountain biker way out on a single track loop. He was wandering around off the trail. I paused to ask if he was lost. He was just looking for a different place to cross the stream. I don’t usually think about being out there alone, but the last two runs I have. It is remote and secluded. My mother wasn’t too pleased to hear I run alone out there. It is tough. Do I run on the roads, which statistically are more dangerous, or run alone in the vast remote park. Seems like a coin toss. I do mix them, but find the trails are much kinder on the legs. Pavement is just brutal as the mileage gets above 12 miles. I’ll continue my running mixing park and road.
But back to my running plans. I took a look at my running plan and it looks like I have some decisions to make. I could continue with the current training cycle and be ready for a May marathon, or I can back off and prep for a fall marathon. I am undecided, but it would be hard to push this training cycle all the way thru September. There are a couple fun runs that might be thrown in here and there, but my goal is still the marathon distance. I am considering a North Face Endurance Challenge, but it is very technical trail terrain with major gains in vertical feet. I tend to run with at most 250 ft gains. This is a mountain course. I’d have to do some serious leg work to get ready. Sounds like a great course though. They do a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and a 50 mile ultra. I would personally far prefer to trail run, than pound out 26.2 on the road. Lots to think about. So many choices.
Nice to have something positive to think about, and it will give me something to focus on as I get through the next tumultuous phase of the farm, rescue, and family issues.

Dragging

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I dragged myself out of bed this morning after a deep and unmoving night of sleep. All day I just couldn’t get myself going. Didn’t matter what I was doing. It was freezing and windy. Despite a reasonable mood I felt disconnected and weird. I forced myself to ride, since I would have been impossible to deal with if I had not accomplished something. As the day finally wrapped up in the barn all I could think about was climbing into the tub with a book and getting warm. So, tub happened, book did not. I think I fell asleep pretty quick, since the book never moved from the side of the tub. I am one of those odd individuals that can actually sleep in a tub. Don’t ask me how. Been known to happen before. With horses they have the ability to lock their joints so they can sleep standing up. They can become completely relaxed and fall asleep without moving. similarly, think I just don’t move, better than drowning I guess.
Eventually I stirred from my sleep when my body got a little too cold. Still frozen I shuffled past my partner and said I was taking a nap. “Now”? yeah, now at 7pm.
I’ve just awoken from a bizarre frozen shivering sleep. Where is that fucking Airborne…thought I had dodged a bullet since it is coming up on on 6 days post race. Guess my immune system isn’t all systems go right now. That long run I had scheduled in my brain for tomorrow is looking unlikely. If I can get a couple done I’ll be thrilled. Plan for now- sleep. sleep and more sleep. oh, and mom’s 75th birthday party tomorrow night.