Do you know?
Updated: Jun 3
Becoming the Hero, Written Series
Do you know what it's like not to own your own body? To have family members and a family friend violate your body before you had even an inkling of what sex was? To have urges and desires brought forth that adults tried to drown in shame without ever understanding why you were bad?
To have young boys use your body to explore their own budding masculinity and have it terrify you? To be tackled, kissed, groped, chased, and then quickly discarded and shamed with taunts and laughter? To ask for help only to be told that, "That's what boys do. They must like you."
To have moments of bliss and dancing only to be reminded that, "Only whores move their body like that. Don't dance like that. Do you want people to think you're a whore?" To not know what a whore is but to fully understand and hold the shame that came with those comments and then no longer have the freedom to love the actions of your body? To be confused about why this happiness and freedom is bad? Why am I bad?
To try to hide? To not raise your hand in class for fear of attracting any attention to yourself? To be horrified as teachers call on you and insist you participate while your adolescent brain freezes? To have other girls claim you're stealing attention from them when all you really wanted was to somehow become invisible and have friends at the same time? To go from group to group trying to find even one person who got how scary life was without ever having to mention it, all the while making sure the outside was pretty and clean so that no one would know what a monster you were? Not too pretty though; that brought uncomfortable attention that further confused you about your body that was both too feminine and not feminine enough, and not nearly masculine enough to just be a boy?
To have a body that starts developing at the same time your mind starts wanting freedom only to discover that your body is the only thing that seems to matter? To find freedom and joy in movement and activity once again; to find peace and happiness in performance; to have moments of sheer ecstasy shatter around you when groups of boys yell at you about the things they wanted to do to your body? To have your body grabbed without permission so you decide that maybe following their shouted instructions will bring peace and acceptance, yet you find that when you attempt to have a "relationship" with the boys that are shouting at you, they want absolutely nothing to do with you? To hear rumors of things you've "done" with boys who won't even acknowledge your existence? To live in a constant state of confusion and just want peace so you try to keep performing and attempting to have friends while also trying to be invisible again, and literally walk around not knowing if you have friends or if anyone likes you at all?
To go to church and be taught fear of sex and "you must be abstinent" in order to be good, but adults have sex and as far as you know from overheard conversations, your peers are having sex, and you want to ask questions but you've been either called a "whore" or been told not to be a whore so many times that even asking a question feels whorish? To be attracted to your female peers as much as you're attracted to your male peers yet have no idea what that means other than being bad? To want a penis to go along with your vagina but know that even admitting that would be a sin?
To try to disappear completely from school and find solace in the church dances for college students because somehow sex was more accepted even though it was still shamed? To find boyfriends who actually wanted to do the things all the boys at school shouted at you yet wouldn't do so you find yourself in scary situations with "men" who assure you they feel just as guilty about doing the things you're doing as you do and you've finally understood all those urges and desires and now somehow can't seem to quench them? To go from experience to experience and partner to partner seeking validation that you are lovable only to realize that you're not the girl they take home to mom, you're the girl they flaunt like a trophy; the girl they have fun with until their eternal companion comes along? To find a handful of nice guys that want to get to know you only to cut and run before they realize how disgusting and unworthy you are because that's what the other guys have told you?
Did you have an awakening where you finally started to feel like you could find happiness and a great future with great friends only to look around you and realize you were alone and isolated in a huge group of peers and no one knew you other than your titles of teacher, missionary, member? Did you also realize you didn't know them? Did you come to realize one day as you stood surrounded by your male "friends" that they treated you the same as your high school "friends" yet were more discreet about it? Did you realize that they touched you and looked at you with hungry eyes yet never asked to date you?
Did you run into someone you'd known for years who told you they'd "wanted to marry you since the moment they saw you" in Middle School; who put you on a teetering pedestal and then would mock you for feeling good about yourself; who you wanted to be chaste with yet they pushed you physically to places you felt uncomfortable with and when you said so they would somehow throw shame and your history in your face; who raped you on your honeymoon; who told you it was your fault because you were molested as a child; who continued to rape you over and over throughout your marriage with the reasoning that he had to "teach your body how" to love his; did you ask for help only to be told that "Men need to blow off steam."?
Did you make it through a grueling divorce in which you were told that his sexual, physical, and other abuses did not matter and that you MUST forgive him and forget about the things that he did? Did a group of attorneys and a judge throw out the criminal case against your abuser without even a phone call or word to you? Did you sit and hold the police report in your hand and read his confession and replay that day and your conversations with the officers while your head swam with thoughts of, "Why is this happening?" Did neighbors and "friends" surprise you with things he was saying about what happened and how sick you were? Did family stand by your side the first little while and then when you didn't heal and act the way they wanted, did they gossip about you all in the guise of "how worried they were?" Did you lose friends because you chose to fight rather than roll over and let him figuratively "rape" you again?
Did you commit yourself to healing and betterment only to find yourself alone and the topic of everyone else's conversations? Did you work your ass off in therapy and education to come out a fierce warrior? Did you build a fortress around yourself so that no one could hurt you again only to find that while you were busy living your life men still felt it was appropriate to grab your body, follow you, and make comments of the sexual acts they would like to do to you? Do your male friends still feel it's okay to tell you what is appropriate or not for you to do with your body?
Did you find yourself among friends one night when all of a sudden you can't walk or stay awake? Did you reach out to one of your friends for comfort because you were freezing and lying on the floor? As you were passed out on a balcony did you hear several of your male friends arguing over who was going to take care of you? Did you pass in and out of consciousness as you were moved to a spare bedroom? Did you later "wake up" to puke into a pot that someone had thankfully set next to your head, see your friend from the patio sitting there, ask him to please come lay by you because your body was convulsing with cold? Did you "wake up" two more times with that friend's hands under your clothes, grabbing your breasts and vulva? Did you push him away and pass out again only to "wake" again with your hand now holding his penis? Did you start crying, roll over, puke more, realize you were still shaking, and then pass out again only to wake up in the morning with him gone and you trying to piece together what had happened when you KNOW you had had one shot and hadn't even finished your first beer and the evening had just started when you got sick? Did you drive yourself home and shake and vomit for days no longer feeling safe, even with friends?
Did you hide the secrets about your body for almost four decades out of fear of losing your soul? When you finally came out and started openly living your life with your truths did some of your friends and family turn you away? Did it hurt? Did you get called a "token trans" because you chose to use your body in an art activism piece about vaginas? Were you told your opinion doesn't matter and that you were partly responsible for the violence happening to your trans sisters? Did it confuse you? Did you question if you were trans enough? Do you question if you're queer enough? Did you question if you were good enough?
Have you shared your stories of discomfort, confusion, harm, rape, and abuse to be met with "you should've _________"? Do you find yourself once again climbing that mountain of owning and accepting your own body? Do you find yourself angry? Do you find yourself wanting to scream from the rooftop that things are not okay in our families and neighborhoods? Do you have days where you want to become invisible again but know that it never helps so you fight the nausea and anxiety and raise your voice again? Do you have moments where the fight seems unending and you're exhausted so you hole up in your safe spaces and give your soul some time to heal so that you can go back out and live? Do you cry? Do you carry your tears with you out to battle? Do you face your demons daily and drop into bed exhausted only to have them meet you in your dreams?
Thank you Cat Palmer for allowing me to participate in your recent activism project: Keep the Politicians Out of Our Vaginas. The link will take you to her page where you can find more information on the project and watch a video in which Cat, myself, and others explain why we are involved, and find out how you can participate. The photos pictured here are her work and are part of this series. My partner, Barry Walter is also pictured.
#heroesandart #alisamay #ptsd #ptsdrecovery #rape #domesticviolence #sexualassault #healing #warrior #battle #demons #nightmare #becomingthehero #catpalmerart #KeepthePoliticiansOutofOurVaginas #feminist #pussy #powerful #vaginasforchange #nastywoman #nastywomengetshitdone