Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Goodbye Men, Hello Me!

At the end of each year, I like to take time to reflect and ask myself these two questions:
What has been my biggest challenge to overcome?
What has been my greatest blessing to receive?
I didn’t start 2018 anticipating this particular obstacle; I thought it would be fully eliminated sometime early in the New Year. I started 2018 wanting to see a status change from single to “in a relationship.”
I was dating someone in January 2018 and things seemed to be going quite well. February 25 2018, I was given the unsavory news that our dating relationship wasn’t going to progress to a public status change. Somewhere in our four-month-meet-and-greet-and-date-relationship, he failed to inform me that he already had a girlfriend overseas who was pregnant and expecting his baby just two months away.
The challenge I set for myself to overcome after February was to stop dating and lead a fully content and fulfilling life as a single woman.
My entire adult life has been spent in the pursuit of a dating/marriage relationship. “You complete me,” was a much-anticipated mantra I always looked forward to giving and receiving from a soul mate. “I was lost until I met you,” was another desirable common theme.

icture by Mina Beck
After the last breakup, I accepted that NO ONE could guarantee me “the one” in my future. Every time I embarked down the single path, it was with the assumption that it would/could change for me at any moment. I decided I didn't want to walk around the rest of my life feeling as though something was "missing" or seeing myself as "incomplete" because I didn't have a husband or a boyfriend.
First thing, I had to change my view of my relationship with myself. I had to stop believing I needed or worse, DESERVED to have a soulmate partner in my life. This meant seeking and building my own separate identity within myself, for myself, by myself, and only for myself. I had to tear down and rebuild my dreams and castles in the sky, originally envisioned for two, now fully intended for one person: ME!!
As a result, my greatest blessing in 2018 has come from my biggest obstacle. With the focus off dating and other people, I was free to fully turn my attention onto myself. This intensive self-care has allowed me to really get to know myself and given me energy to explore new passions where I would have otherwise been completely distracted.
I founded Makeupless Monday, my own skincare and lifestyle practice. (https://www.makeuplessmonday.com) I began fulfilling my life purpose of sharing my personal story to inspire healing in others. I renewed my focus on my children, which included successfully improving communication and co-parenting tactics with le ex. I finished 50% of my MBA program with a 3.85 and simultaneously walked in my B.S. graduation Cum Laude. I finished my first year on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit organization and accepted a second volunteer position at my local Senior Center. This past month, I completed my NIA White Belt course and became a certified NIA fitness instructor.
2019’s challenge is already set in place: Exploring my spiritual self. Recently, I’ve been greatly drawn to Tarot and Crystals, practicing both in my daily life. Tenants of Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism are crossing my path along with Paganism, Shamanism, and Wiccan, as I wrestle with my deeply rooted Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Just as I took everyone on a public, yet deeply personal journey seven years ago when I began sharing my hidden past and mental health struggles, I’m about to take everyone on a public spiritual journey.
During the past month as I slowly realized my challenge for 2019, I have felt fear and trepidation, self-judgment and doubt. The truth is I am not likely to return to Christianity and it bothers me that it will bother some of you. Yet my spiritual journey is just that, MY journey, and I’m ready to travel and see where it takes me.
I’m excited to see what truths I discover for myself in 2019. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A day in the life of self-hatred, anxiety, and self-care

Sometimes, anxiety attacks sneak up out of nowhere and WHAM!! I am down for the count.
I still struggle with "I hate myself" inner messaging. There are days I will STILL blurt aloud, "I hate myself and I should go kill myself," but then my OTHER inner messaging I've been programming into myself usually kicks in right away and I discard the "I hate myself" message instantaneously as a result.
So it really threw me today when I woke up and immediately blurted aloud upon waking, "I hate myself" and really mean it. I mean like, really, really meant it. This emotion was really confusing, frustrating, and it made me really angry, mostly with myself. When I dug a bit more inward, the reason for my self-hatred really shook my core and I felt myself falling apart. I think there's a long road of some rather difficult self-work ahead of me. I know it'll pay off in the end, but this self-discovery makes me recoil from everything and newly discovered PTSD triggers are firing in fine form.
Here's why practicing self-care and coping mechanisms are SO important to me, especially when I'm NOT feeling wiped out. My tools have become automatic habits that kick in when I need them most. This decision for daily practice came during my last hospitalization last year.
The habits are now ingrained and I am so grateful.
I took a hot bath. I followed my meticulous skincare routine. :) I went to therapy. Alright, this session was already pre-planned but I was glad for the timing. My poor therapist. I taught her things she'd never, ever heard about before.
I talked to many people today. My phone practically blew up with friends calling with good news about themselves after THEIR heartbreaks and these stories renewed my hope. I called two friends and poured out my woes.
I climbed the highest peak allowed at Garden of the Gods and stood barefoot on the rocks, power-posing like I was taught earlier this week in my favorite podcast. I utilized Tai Chi movements I've learned from NIA and just breathed and breathed and breathed. This was a new tool I've never used before. I worshipped the unobstructed view Pikes Peak and the front range of Colorado Springs, drawing energy from the rock beneath my feet and calling upon every power of the earth to help me. The skies were blue and the sun was bright and shining with warmth.
I gathered my children close and we went to the mall. Albeit, Caleb's shoes DID literally fall apart at school today but it was a good reason to get back out of the house and simply move. I've learned that movement really does help me keep my inner balance.
I'm still wonky inside but I know it'll subside over time. I'm still wrestling with hating this part of me, but I'm working on it. This is gonna require some serious baby-stepping and hard work for me.
Sometimes I get angry with myself feeling I've gone backwards instead of forwards in my self-work. Earlier today, the attacks were threateningly debilitating but they are decreasing in intensity and frequency. However, I'm wiped because they've gone on all day.
Finally, last coping tool I often utilize is blogging and writing when life is getting a bit rough, if y'all haven't figured that out by now. :)
I realize not everybody has the luxury of taking a day of self-care for themselves that I have done today. My kids were in school and since I'm a parent caregiver, I'm not at work when my daughter isn't with me.
However, I also know my coping mechanisms in the good seasons really pay off on highly-charged, anxious, BUSY days too.
My anxiety isn't gone yet. But it's been manageable and I've remained fully functional without shutting down. I'll take that as a win for the day.
Another win was my nature experience. Going out to hike isn't exactly a new tool as nature is a HUGE go-to instinctual place to hide, process, and heal. But being ritualistic in the experience itself was an excellent tool and that was a place I found myself the calmest.
It's been doozy-day but I think I faced the demons down pretty well today.
Thanks for reading. By the way, if you didn't know - - I've started my own YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, and website. It's a lot, I know. You'll find the information down below! Don't forget to subscribe!! :) YouTube: Makeupless Monday Instagram: makeuplessmondaymom Twitter: makeuplessmom Website https://www.makeuplessmonday.com

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Why I Didn't Report

It may be considered "too late" for those of us who've come out years and years after our assault to expect any sort of investigation or legal recompense. I didn't come out publicly about my sexual molestation until 2012 and it began in 1994. However, I'd been privately reporting it for YEARS prior to 2012.
The civil lawsuit against Ken Copley was dismissed NOT for lack of evidence but for being outside the statute of limitations.
However I DID inform legal authorities while WITHIN my CRIMINAL statute of limitations and the Indiana District Attorney STILL declined to investigate my case. (Please note, an investigation is different from deciding to prosecute. I wasn't asking for prosecution - - I asked for an investigation).
I informed medical personnel on several separate occasions during TWO separate hospitalizations about my sexual abuse in 2004 and they failed to inform law enforcement; they failed as mandatory reporters in their duties to me as their patient.
By the way, as mandatory reporters, it is not *just* the responsibility of a sexual assault victim to report. When informed, it becomes a mandatory reporter's legal duty to report, regardless if the victim chooses to do so.
I filed my report with the Indiana Police Department in 2006 when CO mandatory reporters filed during my third hospitalization. The police did one follow-up at my parent's house and I never heard from them again.
I reached out in 2012 and spoke with the police investigator of my case. She said, "I remember your case.
I remember leaving your parent's house and telling my team there was something really, really wrong there.
Your family haunts me to this day." She pushed my case forward to the DA who still declined to further investigate.
So even when we DO report abuse in what LEGALLY is considered "timely" it STILL goes uninvestigated and ignored.
I have followed all my legal channels -- both civil and criminal, appropriately and still received a big, fat zero.
I did report.
This is why women don't report.
#whyIDidntReport

*********************************************************************************************
(Originally released by me on Joe Sand's Blog, Incongruous Circumspection June 03, 2012)

Sometimes, good people do bad things.  Sometimes, evil people pretend they are good while fooling everyone around them.  Some have experience with the former; I have personal experience with the latter.

On the surface level, most believed my family epitomized the ideal Christian family.  Over the years, we never missed a service.  My dad was a pastor and later became a well-known name in Biblical Counseling.  He specialized in family and marital counseling.  He led the largest Sunday school class in our church.  He became a published author  and was invited to Kenya, Africa to teach pastors.  My mom was an Awana leader and a church choir member.  Nearly all of us kids took yearly awards in Awana and other activities.  I personally joined the Awana Bible quiz team as a child and took multiple awards for Christian Service and Bible Memory as a teen.  I became one of the church pianists. I also sang in the church choir and was the youth group pianist.  We had family Bible reading every day followed with prayer.  Bible memory was a daily activity.  We stayed away from movie theaters, refused to listen to rock music, and watched ourselves carefully for modesty.  Anywhere we went, people knew our name.  So surely, my parents desired to follow the Lord in all areas and desired the same for the children, right?
I was born in Seoul, Korea as Su-Yong Park.  My family lived in extreme poverty and at one month of age, my father placed me into Korea’s adoption system.  Five months later my overseas adoption was approved and I was placed with a family who last name was Bible, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They decided to re-christian me as Julie Anna Marie Bible and I became part of their family.  While I could spend hours dissecting what went wrong within their home, it’s easiest to simply state I had behavioral problems and they decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with them.  From what I’ve been able to piece together of my earliest years, eventually the Bible’s contacted the State and asked to have me temporarily placed with another family when I was around three years of age.

Kenneth Copley, an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Pastor at Normandale Baptist Church, in Bloomington, Minnesota, and his wife Elizabeth, a stay-at-home mother to their three biological children, were part of a new religious movement called The Advanced Training Institute of America. Incongruous Circumspection has written copious articles about this program so I will not go into great detail about ATI and Bill Gothard.  For reasons beyond my understanding and knowledge, they were also approved as foster parents by Minnesota and it was to their home I was redirected.

For some reason, everyone involved decided I was better off staying with the Copley’s than the Bible’s, so after months of being moved back and forth between their homes, the Copley’s were awarded full guardianship and my second adoption was finalized when I was five.  Once Ken Copley told me I had run to the Bible’s and told them, “They pull off my pants and underwear and spank me on my bare butt,” which was true.  How I wish someone had listened instead of blowing it off as a “good thing” to happen to me.  I was terribly confused and frightened during those days.  I remember each night asking myself, “Who is my mom?  Do I even HAVE a mom?  Who’s gonna be my mom tomorrow?  I thought mom was “forever” but now they’re telling me that my old mom is NOT my mom and this new woman is my mom.”  I was a very scared and uncertain little girl.

Once my adoption was final, my name was changed a third time to Ruth Esther Copley.  And thus began a nightmare from hell over the next twelve years.

Severe Physical Abuse
Not surprisingly, my behavioral problems did NOT stop with my second adoption, but rather increased ten-fold.  Both of my parents were extremely demanding and expected instantaneous, unquestioning, complete, obedience.  For me, in particular, this type of exactness was a far cry from what I experienced in the Bible’s home.  My parents believed the “rod” was the ONLY form of correction and they used it often throughout the day.

My first spanking I can remember was for dancing at age four.  I wasn’t even dancing, per se, I was sitting on my knees and wiggling in time to music on the radio.  My mom grabbed me and beat me for disobedience.  I supposedly understood CLEARLY at age four that dancing was a forbidden, evil activity spawned from the depths of hell itself.  I never danced again.

My parents decided I needed even MORE discipline in my life, so they gave my two older siblings age 9 and 7 full parental rights over me.  This meant if they saw me doing anything or “disobeying” rules, they had the right – no, the obligation - to beat me, as well.  And if THEY decided to beat me, they had to report to my parents so I could undergo a second parental beating as well.  If my parents went out for the evening together, my sisters would conjure any reason to spank me and then my parents would return home late, yank me out of bed and sleep, to reinforce a nine-year-old’s call to spank.  I do not blame my siblings for their behaviors as they too were simply following the rules and they would have faced the same discipline if they HADN’T followed through on my parent’s guidance.  They are not responsible and once they reached an age where they realized they were wrong, they stopped their behavior and later apologized voluntarily to me.  

My parent’s fully believed that spanking would fix any and all problems with me.  As I grew older, the spankings became longer and more brutal.  While they spanked each of my siblings, (eventually they had seven biological children) I underwent the worst and cruelest of them all.  It was my father who decided bare-butt spankings was the most effective way to spank.  He also began to pray before each spanking asking God to “give him strength.”  My parents also believed spanking should continue INDEFINITELY until the child “cried softly” and the cry itself had “changed” to prove “brokenness of spirit and a genuine desire to repent.”  This meant I was routinely given 30-50 swats.  Sometimes, I was given two spankings back-to-back.  The first spanking was for the infraction, the second spanking was to reiterate the fact I was NOT TO CRY LOUDLY and they would continue to the second spanking to make their point.  On two separate occasions, my mom bloodied my mouth by striking me across the face mid-spanking to make me stop crying.

Homeschooling

During this time my parents were also homeschoolers which meant I was taught at home by my mom.  I was absolutely terrified.   I wanted to vomit the day she announced I was to start my homeschooling with her the next day.  By this time, I was so terrified of her that whenever she would ask me any sort of question, I would completely freeze up.  Concepts I understood just moments before would escape my mind as she would relentlessly hammer problem after problem into my head.  And yes, I got spanked my first day of school for not being able to find and circle every “A” on the page.  


By this age, the spanking implements my parents used had advanced.  At first, it was just the wooden spoon.  We had a running joke in the home that my mom couldn’t keep wooden spoons around because my dad would often break the wooden spoon across any child’s bare butt in two swats.  Then, my mom broke a wooden pant hanger on me.  They used metal kitchen spoons, belts of various sizes and thicknesses, and eventually, my dad settled on 1x2, about three feet long.  This became the spanking implement of choice.  It’s also interesting to note my siblings were never struck with anything more than a hand or a wooden spoon.  Not to belittle their experiences, but I’m simply stating the fact my parents utilized measures with me far beyond anything they tried with their biological children.

School became a nightmare.  Flashcards scared me the absolute worst.  It became the norm on a daily basis that for each missed wrong answer, I would be spanked.  If I got the answer wrong, I was to immediately stand up, pull down my pants and underwear, and bend over the arm of the living room chair.  Each subsequent wrong answer was met with another spanking.  And another.  And another.  Eventually, I became so terrified I couldn’t retain anything taught from the day before and everything felt out of control.

One afternoon, my mom asked me to read an analog clock.  I looked up and answered “1:00.”  “No.  It’s one minute before 1:00.  What’s one minute before 1:00?”  Because I had gotten the answer wrong, I went into instant freeze mode and couldn’t come up with the correct answer.  And thus began my afternoon from hell.

From 1:00 until nearly 4:30, my mom beat me with the 1x2 until I finally came up with the right answer.  For those skeptics who say it couldn’t have gone on that long, just know this:  my mom developed such deep splinters from the wood that she had to wrap her end of the stick in a towel because she couldn’t grip the wood anymore.  Eventually, I was forbidden to even pull up my pants after each spanking and thus stood, pants and underwear around my ankles as I shook and gave random, wrong answers.  At one point, I must have guessed the right answer because suddenly she grabbed me and pulled me out to the living room.  She called an older sibling into the room and asked me, “What is one minute before 1:00?”  I couldn’t remember.  Back to the bedroom until I finally guessed the right answer, and this time, I made SURE I ALWAYS knew what one minute before 1:00 was.   I remember her having me show my butt to Ken Copley the next day and having her proudly comment on all the coloring and deep bruising going on.  My dad praised her for “hanging in there” with me and my mom noted she “should’ve called [my dad] home so he could’ve taken over the spankings for her.”  She was exhausted, but pleased she had driven “rebellion” from my heart.  

After this incident, this treatment translated into nearly every single aspect of my life.  Failure to be able to make a complete round on the monkey bars resulted in me going outside every night and getting a spanking each time I fell off until I finally learned how to be able to go BOTH ways on the monkey bars. It became part of my daily routine to go outside after supper and spend the entire evening getting spanked until bedtime. I learned how to ride my bike in this exact same manner.  At each meal, I had twenty minutes to clean my plate.  If my plate wasn’t empty after twenty minutes, the clock was set to five minute increments and I was spanked every five minutes till the plate was empty.  I learned how to clip my fingernails using the beat-until-learned method.  My parents made it very clear they both supported each other with these methods because the Bible told them I was rebellious and God promised spanking would fix me.

Sexually Curious

Fast forward several years to age 9 and 10.  At this age, I was undergoing Copley-forced separation from my younger siblings; my older siblings were “serving God” at Bill Gothard’s Indianapolis Training Center, (ITC).  By this time, I had three younger siblings and I shared my room with one of them. I taught her to shoplift and eventually my parents found out and decided I wasn’t fit company for them.  Ken Copley jerked me out of bed one night and told me I was never to be alone with my younger siblings and unless my parents were in the room, I was to always leave.


“Sex”, and anything about my sexuality were “bad” words never to be uttered.  No one bothered to teach me anything about myself; I guess they figured if they never said anything, I would never DO anything or wonder about anything. WRONG!  Curiosity got the better of me and before my parents separated me from the younger ones, my younger sibling and I had started experimenting and looking at each other’s bodies and private areas.  I’ve since been informed by multiple friends and therapists that what my sibling and I engaged in was “normal childhood behavior.”  In my parents’ eyes, I was now a child molester.

Although I was already separated by the time my parents discovered this and the activity had already stopped, my dad gave me fifty swats with the wooden spoon and promised me 100 swats if experimenting ever occurred again.

Eventually, the ban was lifted and I was allowed to play with siblings again.  This only came about AFTER I made a second confession of “faith.”  Apparently, accepting Jesus as Savior was the missing link and now that I was “saved” I was fit for fellowship.  

My dad accepted a position as Staff Counselor with the Indianapolis Training Center and we moved in March of 1994.  The first few months were good, but I messed up again.  I was 11 and still no one had talked to me about puberty and sex.  The only thing I knew from my mother was “bleeding from ‘down there’ will start someday and I will grow hair.”  That was it.  So when the sexual urges started in, I groped a different sibling through her diaper and slapped her bottom.  

My parents found out and I was given 100 swats and separated once again from siblings AND the rest of the family.  We lived in an apartment but the ITC gave my parents two extra rooms across the hall.  The first room was where I spent a year alone.  They would send my older siblings to me with a plate of food.  I ate alone.  I played alone.  I wasn’t permitted to go outside.  The only “outside” activity I saw was through the window and walking to the car on Sunday mornings.

Pedophilic Grooming

During this time at the ITC, my dad started exhibiting strange behavior.  First it was simply cuddling while he cupped my butt.  Then he would hold me and rub himself against me over and over and over again.  He’d make me stand up and wrap my arms around his waist while he held me close and gyrated against me.  Then he received keys that allowed him access to any empty room at the ITC.  


Occasionally, he would enter the room and have me follow him down the hall to a separate, locked room.  Once my older sibling asked him what he needed me for and he said he was praying with me down the hall.  He wasn’t praying, he was holding and groping me through my clothes.  But he insisted he was counseling and praying over me to anyone who asked.

Once, he woke me up in the middle of the night, took me across the hall to an empty room that only he had access too.  He sat down in the chair and begged to see me naked.  He promised he wouldn’t touch; he would only “look.”  I started crying and refused.  He took me back to my room and had me lay spread eagled on my back while he pulled my underwear down and caressed my pubic area while murmuring, “You’re so beautiful.”

I didn’t know this was molestation.  I didn’t know this was sexual abuse.  I didn’t know I was being groomed by a pedophile.  I didn’t even know for sure if what he was doing was WRONG since HE was the one who beat me and separated me for doing far LESS than what he was doing now.  All I knew was that I wanted to kill myself.  I didn’t want to live separated from the family for the rest of my life and I didn’t want my dad touching me.  So I started to fantasize about cutting my wrists, overdosing, or throwing myself off the thirteenth story of the ITC.

During this time, I began to over eat and steal from family members.  This made my mom hate me even more.  She told me things like, “You should never have been born.  I wish I had never laid eyes on you.”  Then of course, to make everything she said “godly,” she would iterate, “And if you lived in the Bible times, we’d have you stoned to death.”  Great.  So on one hand my dad is molesting me while my mother is saying that by God’s mouth and if it was legally possible, I would be put to death at age 11 and 12.  Nice.  In the meantime, my dad was leading me in all sorts of prayers for demonization, giving ground to Satan, and generational curses as means to stop behavior that resulted from his hand.

Child Molestation


Because of my stealing and lying tendencies, my dad decided I shouldn’t even live with them anymore and while traveling on the weekends to different churches all over the country, began to ask people if they would give me a new home.  He even told me he asked from the pulpit if anyone could take me in that didn’t have any children since I was dangerous to them.  At one point, it almost became reality as I was sent to stay with another family as a “test trial” run.  It didn’t work out.


My parents decided to leave ATI and the ITC in September 1995.  We moved to West Baden Springs, Indiana and stayed there for a few months.  My dad was constantly traveling to find a new position for himself so I erroneously thought the worst was over and he would leave me alone.

He received the opportunity to join with Jim Logan and Mark Bubeck and open a non-profit Biblical Counseling Center in Carmel, Indiana.  He named it the International Center for Biblical Counseling of Indiana (ICBCI) and we moved to Carmel in December of 1995.  We had a large house and I was given my own room since I still wasn’t allowed to even speak to my siblings without a parent present.

He began “grooming” me again a few months later.  He used forbidden movies as one way to attract me.  Nearly any movie was “bad” so the opportunity to get around my mom’s rules and watch PG-13 movies was too much for a 13 year-old.  He would go out and rent movies like Terminator (my first R-rated movie), Grease, and the Highlander.  He would come to my room after my mom was asleep and tell me to meet him in the basement because he had a special movie to watch with me.  I’d go down to the basement and he’d have me cuddle up to him.  This was the only “positive” attention I received, and I went gladly.  

Eventually, he’d begin to move me closer and closer, rubbing my leg and moving his hand up my thigh.  Eventually, he would start to play with my breasts and developed the courage to touch my vaginal area.  He would ask me things like, “Does this feel good?”  And would continue to rub and touch till I came to an orgasm.  Then he would say, “Oh, that was nice!  I’m so glad you did that for me.  That was really special.”  Then he’d feel guilty and force me to pray with him.  He would “confess” his sin to God and ask forgiveness.  Then he’d send me off to bed.

His prayers never seemed to work.  Every night at two o’clock he would enter my bedroom.  I would be wrapped in my blankets and I would fake sleeping hoping and praying he would go away.  He never did.  He would pull the blankets off me, remove my clothes, suck on my nipples, and stick his tongue down my ear.  He never tried to force himself on me and never actually raped me, but by this point, it didn’t matter.  The damage was done.
Suicide Attempt #1
Naturally, my day-to-day behavior was getting worse.  I was stealing from gas stations, libraries, parents, siblings, etc. etc.  I was lying a lot too and home-life was splintering quickly.  For whatever reason known only to him, my dad abruptly stopped coming into my room and molesting me once I began working for him at age 15 as a secretary at ICBCI.

Even with my dad’s lessons of orgasm and masturbation and R-rated sex-filled movies, I still had questions.  I knew I couldn’t ask anyone so I decided one afternoon to Google “sex” on the computer at work.  I learned a lot that day.  I had heard the terminology “oral sex” and “homosexuality”, so it was mainly these terms I searched for.

In January 2000, my dad found out because a coworker had checked the internet history and discovered my searches.  I denied this vehemently and that night he declared there would never be any hope for me or my future.  My mom had been telling me this for years, but my dad and I were strangely close and I trusted him, even with the molestation.  I mainly trusted him because he always made himself available to me and paid me positive attention. He had never fully verbally belittled me, or at least it was very mild compared to my mom’s verbal abuse.   He was the only adult in my home-life that was nice to me and listened when I needed someone to listen to me.  He was like two different people.  “Night time dad” was bad but “daytime dad” was a safe rock and refuge.  But knowing that BOTH my parents were in agreement and believed there was no hope for me, I swallowed a whole bottle of Tylenol and left a suicide note.

Religious Hypocrisy
Of course my parents found the note and woke me instantly.  Instead of taking me to the hospital and admitting I had a serious problem, they decided to handle it themselves.  That night they poured an entire bottle of Ipecac syrup down my throat and sent me off to work with my dad the next day.  Even his coworkers were concerned as they could hear me continuously vomiting all day long and my dad refused to send me home because I was sick.  I called my Youth Pastor’s wife from work and told her the story.   She told her husband and he called my dad that evening with the request to bring me in for counseling.  My dad refused and forced me to admit to my Youth Pastor that I “hadn’t tried to commit suicide.  I was only trying to get attention. Nothing is wrong with me.”  Afterwards, my dad informed me I was being sent away to Northland Baptist Bible College (NBBC) in two weeks.  I was 16.


I enrolled at NBBC one month shy of my 17th birthday.  Once my roommate walked in and found me counting pills and laying them out so I could swallow them.  I eventually told a couple of students in whispers that I believe I had been molested and told them about my dad.  This was the first time I found the courage to say, “Something bad happened to me.”  

By this age, I knew something of sexual sins.  I was aware of the term rape, but I was bit uncertain about molestation and abuse.  To me, abuse was when you had black eyes and your parents weren’t Christians.  I thought beating meant you had marks everywhere on your body when of course, under Biblical spanking, you should only mark the butt.  I believed molestation to be an act of violence ending in rape.  It took me several years to accept the fact I was molested and not every child molester leaves marks or rapes their victims.  I didn’t understand that pedophiles and their victims can actually have a “good” relationship.  It took me several more years to recognize the fact my parents didn’t “spank”, they beat me brutally and just because you strike a child on the butt instead of the face or arms doesn’t mean there isn’t abuse taking place.

College money ran out and I returned home to live as an adult in my parent’s home.  My mom and I had an unspoken agreement to simply stay out of each others’ way and it worked.  We became…very civil and polite, like strangers.  My dad and I were still close.  However, hearing his porn through my door each night (I lived in the basement now) and seeing his girlfriend (whom I knew as one of his counselee’s from ICBCI days) riding in the car each night my dad came and picked me up from work was too stressful.  So after a year at age 19, I moved out.  The affair was discovered several months later and Ken Copley resigned from ICBCI.

Attempt at Justice

Eventually, I was able to get away completely from my parents, but not from my past.  I was a full-fledged cutter by the time I reached adulthood and suicidal thoughts and idealizations were never far from my mind.  


Finally after three hospitalizations for suicide prevention, law enforcement was contacted in November 2006 and a minor investigation ensued to make sure my younger siblings weren’t being molested.  I made the mistake of calling my dad to warn him he was under investigation.  Here is the conversation we had.

Me: “Hey dad, I’m out of the hospital again.  Ummm….I don’t know how to say this, but do you remember what you used to do to me?”

Dad: “Yes.”

Me: “Well, I told them about it and they filed a report.”

Dad: “Why would you do something like that!  Do you want the kids to grow up without a father?  I should’ve seen this coming.  I should’ve known you would do this to me too.  I should’ve known you would seek to destroy me.”

Me:  “Why did you molest me?  Why did you touch me when you punished me for doing less than that with the kids?”

Dad: “I molested you because you molested my children.  But in my defense, I never inserted my finger into your vagina.  I NEVER took your virginity.  And besides, I prayed and confessed to God.  It’s your sin for not forgiving me now.”

Me: “Well, I just wanted you to know.  Goodbye.”

Indiana CPS and police moved against my dad and interviewed my younger siblings.   Although I am within my statute of limitations to press charges,   Indiana has declined to even conduct an investigation into my claims based on destruction of evidence and passage of time.  

Letter to Governor Mitch Daniels
Ruth Burger

[Address Redacted]
[Email Address Redacted]
[Phone Number Redacted]

10 April 2012

Dear Governor Mitch Daniels,

My name is Ruth Burger.  I am a former Indiana resident and an Army Veteran of the Iraq War.  In March 2004, I was admitted to Community North Hospital for suicide prevention.  During my week-long stay, I informed the mental health staff of sexual abuse committed against me by my father.  I also reported minors living within the home.  In September of the same year, I was re-admitted for a two-week stay at Community North.  While there, I once again relayed my story of physical and sexual abuse.

After moving to Colorado in 2006, I suffered yet another mental health relapse.  Cedar Springs accepted me into their mental health facility for a week-long stay.

During my hospitalization, I once again shared my history.  This time, Cedar Springs mental health professionals contacted the Indiana Hamilton County Police and filed an official report on my behalf.

Upon release from Cedar Springs, I was instructed to participate in a video interview for Hamilton County.  House of Hope conducted the interview and forwarded the information back to Hamilton County Police. 

I was never again contacted by Hamilton County and simply assumed my statute of limitations had run out.  

In January 2012, I was informed my statute of limitations had not expired; I have until I am thirty/thirty-one to press charges.  I immediately contacted Detective Lana Howard of the Hamilton PD and informed her I was interested in pursuing my case.

Detective Howard forwarded my information and details of my case to the District Attorney.  In mid-February 2012, she informed me the District Attorney has not only refused to prosecute, but has refused to further investigate my case.  She also informed me in August 2011, they [the police] destroyed my evidence and interview(s) due to “lack of interest.”  She said the investigation she conducted in 2006 included my video interview and an interview with each of my younger siblings.  It was these interviews that were destroyed by the Carmel Police.  To my knowledge, no one else has been questioned personally, including my older siblings, my mother, or me.

I have contacted the Indiana Coalition of Sexual Abuse.  ICSA is currently advocating on my behalf.  Nearly four weeks ago, I asked permission to speak with the District Attorney personally so I may hear his thoughts and express my concerns.  My request has been blatantly ignored.  ICSA has also requested to speak with the Hamilton District Attorney.  As of today, none of her emails or phone calls has been returned.

Governor Daniels, gross negligence has occurred regarding the reporting, investigation, and handling of evidence in my case.  I am appalled that Indiana would move to destroy evidence and interviews before the statute of limitations passed.  It is distressing to know that my right to justice has been so severely stymied from the day I first sought help.  It is completely unacceptable that Community North mental health counselors, doctors, nurses and other professionals fully abdicated their legal obligations to file and further protect other minors from my perpetrator.  

I feel Indiana has handled my case with carelessness, neglect, and disrespect.  Is this the message Indiana wants to pass on to every woman who finds the strength and courage to speak out about their abuse?  Why would Indiana destroy evidence prior to the statute of limitations being passed?  Is this how Indiana routinely handles sexual abuse cases?   How can Community North get away with gross negligence regarding the handling and obligatory reporting of sexual abuse with full knowledge of minors still living within the home?  How many more patients have passed through Community North with unreported abuse? 

Please encourage the Hamilton County District Attorney to re-open and conduct a thorough investigation into my claims.  Because my perpetrator has moved himself into a position of authority as a religious leader and counselor within Indiana, I strongly urge you to take action on my part.  He is a danger to society, a danger to the community, and a danger to every child he comes into contact with. 

I eagerly look forward and expect to hear from you in the immediate future.

Sincerely,

Ruth Burger

Monday, August 13, 2018

Boundaries and Vulnerability

"Glass Skin" attempt to minimize the appearance of pores and
create a clear, dewy, luminescent glow not achieved through
going makeupless! LOL
I've never read the book "Boundaries" by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend, but I've been exposed to various boundaries concepts over the past six or seven years.  Boundaries was a new word in my vocabulary but I started hearing it everywhere.  It became part of everyday language from TV talk shows to conversations with friends.   While I've used the word myself, it's a life tool I'm still wary about utilizing in my life.

So while I have not read the book, I have spent several years observing, watching, and conversing with hundreds of people about boundaries and vulnerability, their purposes and reasons for necessary existence in our lives.   I'm sharing some thoughts, words, and conclusions that are still being formulated within my mind based on these experiences.

Boundaries

A boundary serves two main purposes which are to protect oneself and establish limitations of access to outsiders.  We utilize physical, visible boundaries such as our house or car.  Some boundary lines aren't visible but are established all the same such as property boundary lines.  If someone violates your property line, you have legal right to take certain actions, including killing, the violator.

Emotional and relational boundaries, though much more difficult to see, operate much the same way.  These boundaries exist to protect yourself and they empower you to control and take any action necessary should they be violated.  They are erected for your personal safety and comfort and violation of those spaces are similar to physical violations of your space.

I see them most often erected to protect from pain experienced from someone else's words.
I have heard this story from many people, "I've been hurt way too many times so I've learned to put up boundaries to protect myself.  Very few people ever get to see the real me."

While on one hand, I can understand that boundaries are for self-protection and self-preservation, I have personally found myself arguing against the need to erect boundaries because they seem so contrary to my lifestyle of vulnerability, a far less mainstream ideal, I believe.

Vulnerability

How can you be vulnerable and maintain boundaries at the same time?  In my self-love journey, I have deliberately chosen the path of vulnerability during this time.  I've concluded that a boundaries lifestyle teaches me, "If you love yourself, you'll take the steps necessary to protect yourself from others who hurt you and through this process, you will create a healthy community of people who are safe and loving." 

My vulnerability lifestyle says the complete opposite.  I say, "If I truly love myself, I can confidently reveal my true, imperfect self to everyone, regardless of being hurt or unaccepted by others." This mentally gives others the choice to stay or go of their own volition; said choice is influenced by their own acceptance or rejection of my true nature, and not based on some image I tried to conjure before them.

Whether it is boundaries or vulnerability, everyone in my life either does wind up somewhere within "the circle of trust" or outside it.  I cast a wide circle of trust that truly leaves people in varying degrees of closeness, but the difference is boundaries are me controlling what people are in/out of my life whereas vulnerability makes it their choice.  I rarely find myself casting people completely out of my life.  As I make my life choices and simply choose to live openly and honestly about who I am and what's going on with me and myself, the people who are supposed to stay, stay and those that aren't meant "to be" eventually do walk away on their own accord.  The boundary I maintain for myself is if they choose to leave, I must not pursue.  

This shows there really is a balance required between the two.   To live a lifestyle solely based on boundaries creates a lonely, distrusting, isolated existence.  A lifestyle of complete vulnerability leads to reckless, poor decision-making and devaluing of oneself.  But it's important to know not all boundaries are healthy boundaries and I believe they should be examined and tested within regularly.  My current boundaries determine the behaviors and actions that I will or will not accept within myself,  -- they are rarely about restricting the behaviors and actions of others towards me.

MakeuplessMonday

This is why I go makeupless on Mondays.  I love makeup.  It can cover up a lot of skin issues and create quite an illusion when expertly applied.   Being makeupless exposes my weaknesses, not just to myself, but to others who can also more easily see them and identify them.  I am no longer looking polished, sexy, doe-eyed, clear-skinned, and dreamy.  My acne scars and pimples, reddened nose, sparse eyebrows, short lashes, and oily, enlarged pores come boldly to the surface.

#makeuplessmonday
No filters, makeup, contacts, or hair style.
Going makeupless can make me feel vulnerable when I'm out in public.  I'm vain.  I DO care about how I look to others.  I LIKE presenting my best face to the public.  Yet being makeupless on Monday mindfully reminds me why I choose vulnerability over boundaries.

Without the makeup, I can more easily work on actually clearing up any skin issues through my skincare routine.  At the end of the day, makeup, like clothes, is only a cover for skin; you have to get naked to do the hard part of healing and repairing yourself.

Being makeupless but without skincare leaves me more likely to pick at and focus attention on my own dislikes about myself, both within myself and on my face.  When I choose instead to get to work on myself, utilizing the appropriate tools necessary to bring healing and restoration, I am empowered knowing I'm truly working on my issues.

When I choose vulnerability but not self-care and self-love to accompany it, I leave myself wide open to being seriously damaged by others pointing out my flaws and using their tools to fix me.  In the meantime, I'm usually busily tearing off my own layers of skin unnecessarily, trying to pinch and squeeze my skin inflictions away when all I'm doing is causing everything to worsen.  These are dangerous relationships to foster.

Both makeupless and vulnerable living require careful mindfulness and hard, intensive work.  Stripping off the mask is often hard enough but the true healing lies in the self care and the skin care routine.  Both require careful, daily, deliberate practice.  Patience and much time is needed as results are not always immediate.  There's a lot of trial and error in the process.  Self care and skin care are kind, loving, careful, mindful, gentle practices.

By going makeupless, I learn to accept myself wholly, weaknesses and strengths.  I develop inner strength and resilience from embracing both my inner and outer characteristics, both good and bad.  In this way, when people seek to harm me through their words, I can more clearly identify the truths and the misstatements about my character. 

I often find if someone's words hurt me, it's because their message is somehow a confirmation of an already closely-held, painful self-belief.  It doesn't mean these people spoke truth but rather an indication that I'm accepting them as truth and I need to determine for myself why I'm believing them.  Sometimes, their words are true and I'm hurt because they identified issues before I was ready to tackle the myself.

The truth is, neither vulnerability nor boundaries are going to wholly protect us from attacks from the outside.  Pain is a guarantee in life.  I've learned to accept that fact and am working to face it head on when it does occur.  True protection lies within the strength of the relationship with our own self - - how well we treat ourselves and how vulnerable we are with ourselves.

Vulnerable living requires standing with arms outstretched, willing to experience both the pain and the pleasure of life, wholeheartedly and unflinchingly.  It's learning to love ourselves, no matter how flawed we believe ourselves to be.

When we do fall, we face the discomfort of working on ourselves and our failures and we fight to rise again, arms outstretched, stronger and more deeply rooted in our place because we stand more confident in the knowledge of who we are and our personal purpose in life.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Meaning Behind #makeuplessmonday

Every Monday, I make it a non-negotiable practice with myself that the entire day be spent makeupless.  Interview for work that day?  Makeupless.  Sexy first date?  LOL.  Yep.  Makeupless.  No matter what.

Although I'm not the first person to use the term #makeuplessmonday, I received inspiration and developed my own lifestyle practice and concept from this phrase.

Since I was thirteen years old, I've worn makeup.  Growing up in a house of only three males but six females (parents included), makeup was everywhere.  I spent thousands of hours in junior high and high school studying makeup techniques and had my personal live barbies (my BFFs) on whom I practiced makeup application.  In my early teens, I made a silent pact with myself that went unbroken until I left for Army Basic Training.  Upon graduation, I resumed this daily practice.

Never leave the bedroom/house for the day without putting on makeup.  I needed makeup to make me believe I was pretty.  I believed in the confidence wearing makeup can bring to a person.

So taking a break from makeup was a literal lifestyle change.  Since I felt deprived of my makeup, I decided the savings I received throughout the year that would normally be spent on makeup would be reinvested into skincare and I delved into creating a skincare regimen for myself.

My #makeuplessmonday blog was launched in May 2017 shortly following a mental health hospitalization period earlier that same month.  I had actually started the makeupless experiment a few months earlier, but I was experiencing a breakup which left me deep in the throes of  painful self-discovery.  Being makeupless left me feeling physically naked in public.  Being dumped yet again left me nearly suicidal privately. 

The makeupless practice itself ran for nearly six months.  I was determined not to wear makeup until I felt wholly secure, not insecure, without it.  During the journey, I began noticing patterns and similarities between being makeupless and my inner journey.

I recognized my healing journey required me to embrace the vulnerability, not guard against it.

When I resumed wearing makeup, I did so with refreshed mental and emotional approach to makeup that also jived more closely with my newly formed self-discoveries and lifestyle.

I still love makeup and teaching others how to apply it.  I enjoy wearing it.  I own truckloads of it.  I have my favorite beauty bloggers I follow and my own makeup secrets to share.

#makeuplessmonday isn't about being makeupless forever.  It is about being real and honest with oneself.  The practice for myself has been about taking off the mask and truly seeing myself exactly the way I am, good, bad, and in between.  It is consciously practicing vulnerability within and without and learning to embrace the discomfort it brings.  Through this process, I've learned and continue to learn how to care and love myself while continuing to work on myself.  With these lessons, my makeup and skincare focus isn't about disguising weaknesses but rather celebrating one's strengths.

So every Monday, I take all the makeup off and get back to the basics of bare skin.  It is a day dedicated to both inward and outward reflection.  Every Monday is immersed in self-care and intensive skin care, no matter that it's a working/school day.

Monday is now dedicated to being a minimal, mindful, makeupless day.

I often go makeupless other days of the week but Monday is my day dedicated to being makeupless.  It is a lifestyle practice with personal life lessons and purposes I have begun sharing with others.

There is a new chapter launching for me.  I will continue to share and tell my story through writing, but I'm also prepping to launch into the beauty blogging world where I will marry my mission of telling my story with my love of skincare and makeup.

Stay tuned for more coming soon!

Sincerely,

#makeuplessmonday


 

Monday, July 30, 2018

I hate myself. Go kill yourself. I love myself.

Sometimes, I think we fall in love with catchphrases without really taking time to understand what it is we're really saying.  Or maybe we do know what it is we're trying to communicate but it comes across as a some really obscure response.

For me, that phrase is "Love yourself."

Love yourself.

We have songs dedicated to this theme.  It is a message given from therapists to self-help books to well-meaning friends to internet memes.  "Love yourself" is spat blithely and tritely as the catch-all-answer to all life's problems.  It is interpreted by many to mean a life of total self-acceptance that requires no true effort of self awareness, responsibility, or change.

Love yourself.

What does that mean?  What-in-the-mother-fucking-love-of-god-sense does that really mean? What is loving yourself supposed to look like when you're the girl who etched the words, "I hate myself" from elbow to wrist into her left arm?

I hate myself.

Love yourself.

Talk about opposite sides of the same coin.

There was a time in my young childhood that I remember making the conscious decision to be hardest on myself.  That way, there was not one thing in the world anyone could say to me or about me that I wasn't already considering about myself.  This was a deeply profound decision that would wreak havoc on me for nearly a lifetime thereafter.

I hate myself.

I said this to myself every. single. day.  I would mentally tell myself, "I hate myself.  You should go cut yourself and kill yourself," literally hundreds of times a day.  This thought pattern became so deeply ingrained into my psyche that these words became a nonchalant, automatic, knee-jerk reaction to every situation I encountered and deemed myself lacking.

For twenty three years, I struggled with suicidal ideation on a daily basis; they began when I was eleven years old.  Suicidal ideation doesn't necessarily mean one is actively considering taking physical, immediate action towards these thoughts.  For myself, suicidal thoughts were just a mainstream part of my everyday mental programming. 

Feel embarrassed about something?  You should go cut yourself.  Make a mistake at work?  You should go kill yourself.  I hate myself.  These were me my literal life mantras.

Then there are the times when the ideations stop being ideations and instead, become really good ideas.  They become serious considerations that make complete sense.

Being suicidal is the most terrifying and utterly lonely experience I have ever encountered in my entire life.  I can write an entire book on the effects of child abandonment and parental separation.  I've lived in extreme isolation - - an entire year in near solitary confinement. Although suicide is a self-isolating experience, it is done with what is the most normal thought process imaginable to a suicidal mind.

Let me try to explain my own process.

The logic is astounding, even to myself.  I cannot, right now in this moment, logically bring myself to believe the world would be better without my presence.  I literally cannot.  When I am suicidal, it becomes the most logical conclusion.  It is a horrifying, excruciating nightmare  for a suicidal mind to truly believe everyone, even though they would grieve and might even hate you for it later, would be better off without you.  I cannot explain the pain that belief brought to my mind and soul.  It is mind shattering.

The first time I tried to commit suicide, I was sixteen years old.  I later told someine in secret that I'd tried to commit suicide.  "Do you know what I think of people who commit suicide?  I think they're selfish.  They're the most selfish people in the whole world."  This was the response I received to my suicide attempt.

Those words did nothing but confirm my belief system.  Being labeled as supremely selfish showed me the world would truly be better without me.  They weren't uttered in malice or anger; they are an honest opinion of an painfully nuanced type of situation.  This is simply how I internalized this reaction and interpreted message thereof.

I went untreated at age sixteen for my suicide attempt and later underwent four hospitalizations.  Some were for active suicide attempts but the latest was for early intervention and stabilization.  I was rocketing towards active suicide and I'd learned my own triggers well enough to seek out help in advance before I became seriously dangerous and unable to seek my own help.  However, it has taken me years and years with failed suicide attempts and multiple interventions in between to learn what triggers my suicidal episodes and my symptoms.

My latest hospitalization was in May 2017.   During that hospitalization, my three-year-old son suffered a serious injury.  His caretaker neglected to seek medical treatment and it resulted in him waiting until I was released from the five-day-hospitalization before his injuries were treated.  He had to have his tooth emergently extracted.

If there has ever been a "come-to-Jesus" moment in my life, this was the moment.  My children truly suffered when I broke down.  I did the right thing in seeking treatment and I would make the exact same decision today, broken tooth and all.  I also knew if I didn't take care of myself, no one else was going to do it for me.  My children's wellbeing literally depended on me running in tip-top condition, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  After that experience, I made a decision to seriously confront my suicidal tendencies and demons.

Love yourself.

I knew just as I had made a conscious decision one day as a child to hate myself, I could make a conscious decision as an adult to love myself.

But blech.  Seriously.  I made a good decision but I still had no idea what loving yourself looked like.  I'd been told a million times that I needed to love myself, but no one ever stopped to ask or explain what that looked like to anyone.

I decided if I could learn to hate myself with such abandon, then I could unlearn and replace those thoughts.  I went back to therapy and counseling.  I utilized EMDR techniques both in therapy and at home.  I practiced meditation and deep breathing.  I began exercising.  I changed my eating habits.  I drank lots of water.  I made sure I had plenty of sleep.

I've stopped judging myself for having "bad" thoughts.  I used to punish myself whenever I said, "I hate myself."  I practiced listening to those words in a non-judgmental way, acknowledging their presence and giving myself room to continue having those thoughts.  At the same time, I practiced placing emotional distance between their power in my life and my current reality. 

I've learned that loving myself means listening to myself and deeming myself worthy of being the one to meet my own needs.  This doesn't mean I do it "all by myself."  My friends can tell you I am definitely NOT afraid of reaching out for help when I need it.  But I tried to treat myself as I would want a child to be treated in the same situation.  This was really hard to do and required a lot of mindfulness towards myself. 

Loving myself meant meeting my needs first.  "I" came first.  Not my children, not my finances, not my job, but me.

Love yourself.

I was taught that when I love someone, I also desire to meet their needs in some fashion, many times above my own.  So that meant to love myself, I had to identify my needs and then find a way to meet them.  By hating myself, I learned to distrust myself and I had to rebuild that relationship entirely from scratch.  I had to learn to forgive myself when I made mistakes.

Loving myself meant identifying the parts of myself that needed changing and working to change them.  It meant taking responsibility for myself, admitting my wrongs, and examining the woman I truly am versus the woman I believed myself to be.  It meant confronting the truly ugly parts of myself and learning to accept them while acknowledging the need to work on them.

I still blurt out the words, "I hate myself" sometimes.  But now, instead of them gnawing at me for the rest of the day, they're followed with the reaction, "Really?  That's interesting.  Why do you feel that way?"  Then I talk myself through the emotions and find the hateful emotions dissipating.  Other times they're immediately met with, "No, you don't.  You love yourself."  And I believe it.

Loving myself meant really getting to know myself.  It wasn't always hard work.  I've given myself a lot of freedom this past year to really explore hobbies, adventures, travel, food, arts, sex, etc., etc.

As a single mom, by learning to meet my needs first, (notice I said needs, not wants) this enables me to better meet my children's needs.  I've learned how to manage my own energy tank because I reap the mental and emotional health benefits of loving myself.

As a result, my anxiety and PTSD attacks have seriously diminished in number, frequency, and severity.  The suicidal ideations, instead of being a constant, daily barrage, now number days of nonexistence at a time.  Serious triggers that would normally spin me out of control are now being met with emotional resilience and strength.

I love myself.

Loving yourself is not a complacent act of self acceptance and self indulgence devoid of personal responsibility.  It is active, hard work that is a constant, ongoing, daily, mindful practice.  The journey is different for every single person.  This is simply my own unique experience that I share with the intent that others may conceptualize and begin their own loving journey.