My Story (Trigger Warnings)

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abcdefghijohnnyz

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My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« on: January 24, 2017, 11:43:40 PM »
I am going to try to make this as non-triggering as possible, given that I need to describe some really disturbing events.

PREAMBLE: Childhood

I did not develop C-PTSD in childhood but I think a number of things in my childhood set me up to be vulnerable.

Day 1-- I am born a transgender male. The doctor says "it's a girl." Throughout my childhood, I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't feel like a girl. I don't connect to my body. I always feel awkward and strange.

I am bullied at school, but develop a sharp wit with which to defend myself. Still, I have basically no friends until middle school, when I fall in with some other misfits.

My parents are loving and very open-minded and accepted, but quite emotionally immature. Their marriage falls apart when I am 12, but they stay legally married and keep living with each other "for the kids." They both begin dating other people. At this point, my mother essentially became my child, dependent on me for emotional support.

I am sexually harassed in sixth grade by an adult male teacher. I get him fired for it.

In eighth grade I came out as bisexual and started dating a girl. It didn't really help with the bullying, as you might imagine, although nothing too terrible happened.

Around the time I am sixteen, my mother starts having some kind of psychotic break. One evening she threatens to * in front of me, my brother, and my girlfriend.

I drop out of high school in 10th grade and attempt to home school. Bad idea-- my mother never orders me the textbooks I need for my online classes and never sends in my grades. She is still in the depths of mental illness. I get my GED and begin attending community college. I break up with my girlfriend.

At seventeen, I discover a little thing called 'getting really drunk.'

PART ONE: THE KIDNAPPING

On my 18th birthday, I meet a man twice my age at the Burning Man festival. We hook up. I like him, he seems to like me.

We stay in touch. Myspace messages, long emails, super long phone-calls. He becomes the adult male support in my life, in place of my own father.

Eventually he convinces me to come away with him for a long weekend. I kind of know it's a bad idea deep down, but convince myself it will be fine.

So I go with him to a motel in a town far from my home and family. And immediately, he shows his true face.

While I was trapped with him in that motel room, he raped me repeatedly. He tortured me, hurting me deliberately for his own sexual satisfaction. He kept me literally chained to the bed every night. He humiliated me and forced me into every sex act you can imagine and probably some you can't. He drugged me. I don't know what he did then, but I can guess.

Of course I had intended to have sex with him, which is a part of why I was so shocked by him insisting on doing things I hated and didn't consent to. It was like the thrill for him was all in my misery. He couldn't just have consensual sex, it wasn't enough for him.

I was there for four days. At first I tried to resist or find a way to escape, but pretty quickly the only recourse for my mind was to develop Stockholm syndrome. I bonded with him. I felt like I loved him.

Eventually I persuaded him to take me home, saying my parents would be worried, they might call the police, etc. I didn't tell anyone how my weekend with him had gone for a long time, I smiled and acted like everything was fine even as I was repeatedly going to the hospital for a week afterwards, dealing with bleeding, infections, and finally, an STD from what he did to me. When the doctor asked me if the sex was consensual, I said "yes" because saying "no" was too frightening.

Eventually I did admit that I had been raped. I found a rape crisis center and they persuaded me to file a police report, seven months after the fact. Because it had been so long, the police couldn't do much unless they could get a confession out of the perpetrator. They had me call my rapist and kidnapper, while they tapped the phone. I tried to get him to admit to what he had done, but he was also a skilled pathological liar (and probably a sociopath). When the police called him afterwards, he completely charmed them and got them on his side. The detective on my case told me, and I quote, that I was "begging for it."

PART TWO: TRANSITION

I developed the symptoms of normal PTSD quickly. The insomnia, the nightmares, the hyper-vigilance, the despair. I started to drink more heavily and developed other addictions.

(In retrospect I have to admit I already had some symptoms that looked a hell of a lot like C-PTSD too, in terms of personality changes, and my faith in the world being totally destroyed. But my captivity didn't qualify as "long term" so I dunno what's up with that. Maybe my childhood affected me more than I know? idek)

Around this time I decided I was going to transition to male. I had wanted to for awhile, but I had been convinced that if I came out as transgender, nobody would ever love me. At that point in my depression and PTSD, I literally did not care if nobody ever loved me or if I never had sex again. It's said that I believed those things about being transgender, and that I had to get to such a place of despair in order to live as myself.

I came out to my family, started dressing as male, and eventually started hormones. My mother and younger brother were accepting. My father took longer to come around. My older half-brother was the worst. One night, in a drunken rage, he confronted me, essentially mocked me for getting raped and for being trans, and then aggressively flashed me/exposed himself to me. He'd been behaving in a covertly incestuous way towards me for awhile, essentially doing what I would have called "flirting" if he hadn't been my brother. That was the night I realized he really did have some inappropriate feelings for me. I don't talk to my half brother anymore.

The way everyone was coping with my trauma and transition was not great. One day, I confessed to my mother that I had been feeling suicidal, and she literally followed me from room to room in the house screaming at me until I collapsed in a fetal position on the floor, sobbing and hyperventilating. My dad intervened, and I escaped to my ex-girlfriend's house for the weekend.

Around this time, when giving me a ride home, a family friend of my ex-girlfriend groped my thigh. It was really unsettling and weird.

The new pressures of being trans in a world that doesn't like trans people all that much were getting to me. I didn't fully "pass" as male yet, and every time someone referred to me as "she" or "ma'am," it hurt. It hurt even when they meant no harm and just didn't know any better.

Eventually I started to make other trans friends. That helped, but it also exposed me to all of their pains and traumas, which were, in many cases, worse than mine. Many of my new trans women friends experienced much more aggressive transphobia in their daily lives, too.

Sometimes in public I was mistaken for a trans woman, and experienced the "fun" things that come with that. Men have tried to hit on me, and then become violent and scary when realizing I am a guy. One man forcibly kissed me with tongue after threatening to kill me. These things still happen to me now and then, unfortunately. Most recent incident of this type was about a month ago.

I started dating a transfeminine person, and became engaged to them. (They used, and still use, the neutral pronoun "they.") They were wonderful, but the way people treated me, combined with the way people treated them, contributed steadily to ongoing trauma. My partner regularly received death threats on the internet, and was constantly mocked, groped, and even punched when going to work on the bus. People assumed they were a hooker, and became violent when they refused offers of money or drugs in return for sex.

Our circle of trans friends was as supportive as a group of hurting, suicidal young people can be, but it seemed like every week someone posted a suicide note on facebook and then someone had to rush out to save them. Completed suicides, as well as attempts, were common. Nobody I knew well completed suicide, though.

I was also getting involved in activism, mostly through online writing. I got mildly internet famous for that, which contributes to a later part of my story. Some of my friends were involved in more physical activism, though, i.e. protesting on the street. Some of my trans friends got arrested while doing that, and were subjected to horrible, bigoted treatment while in jail.

Meanwhile, my PTSD was getting worse and worse, my addictions were spiraling. It felt like both I and everyone I cared about were slowly dying.

PART THREE: SIDNEY AND NANCY

Enter the pair I like to call Sidney and Nancy, after Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Those aren't their real names.

My partner and I had a polyamorous relationship. We meet a couple of young, punk trans women, and decided to date them as a couple.

Horrible idea, especially since Sidney and Nancy both turned out to be full-blown sociopaths. They were actually proud of that and openly referred to themselves as such.

Sidney and Nancy both had hard-luck stories. They were homeless, they worked as hookers to survive. It was easy to feel sorry for them and to be drawn into their dark world.

It's impossible to list all the things that happened in the six months or so that the four of us all dated each other at the same time. I think I have actually blacked a bunch of it out. I was essentially gang-raped by Sidney and Nancy once. Another time, Nancy raped me by herself. Still another time, Sidney made me perform a sex act with her in a public park.

Sidney liked to make jokes about killing my cat. Nancy liked to make jokes about killing me. They both constantly groped me, grabbed me, pushed me around, pulled my hair, and verbally put me down. They also abused each other even more severely. One time, Sidney stabbed Nancy in the arm. My partner had to take Nancy to the hospital to get stitches. That was enabling, of course.

They abused my partner, too. One time, Nancy even left scars on them with her abuse. They also abused our friends and family and pushed us away from all outside support. They became our world.

On top of it all, they were constantly spiraling from one crisis to another. Sidney did stupid and disgusting things like trolling the family of a dead cop by making a facebook page in which she had put a zombie filter on a photo of him. That little stunt got her house watched by the FBI for a bit! I wish I was kidding about any of that. Nancy was constantly having panic attacks and needing to be taken care of. No matter how many mental health issues I and my partner had, it was always "drop everything and help Nancy."

One night, during her work as a hooker, Nancy was raped by a client. We had to come pick her up. She lay on our living room floor for hours, not speaking. As terrible as Nancy was to me, and as much as I know she is an awful person, she didn't deserve that. No one deserves that. It was terrible to see. She was also the person I knew who got abused the worst when she was arrested at a protest. The cops put her in a solitary cell and invited the other cops to come and stare at the "tranny."

It was a giant mess. Things escalated more and more. But I was afraid to break up with them because I thought my partner wanted to keep dating them, and didn't want to break up with them too. Also, I did care about Sidney and Nancy, and feel bad for everything they went through.

Eventually, though, we did the right thing and broke up with them.

For a week after the break up, Sidney constantly told me she wanted to kill herself because I dumped her. Bizarrely, she tried to convince me to "beat her up." I told her I had no interest in that, and she said she deserved it. Immediately after that text I received a curt message from Nancy saying "Stop texting Sidney, you're making her suicidal." I never heard directly from them again. Eventually I wised up and blocked their numbers, and blocked them on all social media.

It wasn't over, though. About a year later, Nancy went on the internet and accused ME of being the abusive one. As I mentioned, I was mildly internet-famous at that point, so it created a huge stir. I got lovely messages from strangers telling me to kill myself. I was forced to go public with my story. Some people believed me, some didn't. To this day I still can't use my old pen name because of what happened. It basically destroyed my budding career as a writer.

PART FOUR: THE GUN

Not long after breaking up with Sidney and Nancy, my partner was walking down the street in a rough part of town. They encountered a group of men. One of them pulled out a gun, pointed it at my partner's head, and said, "Let's kill this tranny."

My partner ran. No shots were fired. They survived.

I cannot tell you how much that experience shook me up.

Around this time, I became engaged to my partner. Some transphobes on the internet found our engagement pictures and posted them on a blog, mocking them, mocking our love. More downsides to being internet-famous trans people.

It felt like the only good thing in my life was the least safe of all.

PART FIVE: CRAZY ROOMMATE

We needed new roommates, so we let another queer trans couple move in. At first it seemed OK, but eventually one of them had a psychotic break. They became manic and stayed up for four days without sleep. Then they became angry and started abusing their partner.

One night, they locked their partner out of their shared bedroom, without access to shoes, wallet, phone, or another else that would let them escape the house.

That was the night we decided we had to call the cops. A couple more friends came over, we discussed our options, and agreed that the psychotic roommate absolutely had to be taken to the psych ward for their safety and the safety of others.

The whole time, the psychotic roommate's partner was huddled up on the floor of my room, shaking and mumbling, "Am I the abusive one? Am I the abusive one?" I have rarely seen anyone look so broken.

So it was decided. Five queer anarchists called the police on another queer anarchist, and they took our roommate to the hospital. It was not a decision made lightly, and went against all of our moral codes, but there was nothing else we could do.

It turned out the psychosis had been caused by a life-threatening drug withdrawal syndrome, that the roommate probably would have died without medical attention, but they still didn't forgive us. They started trying to force us to move out of our apartment and leave it to them, and threatened us with lawyers for "lying to the police" (which we didn't). The abused partner of the psychotic roommate turned on us unexpectedly, too, after all we had done to shelter them from the abuse.

Eventually they finally moved out. It was an unexpected peaceful resolution to a month of being threatened with litigation and losing our home.

PART SIX: ROCK BOTTOM

I was on the verge of a breakdown myself. I was erratic, dissociated, sleep-deprived, and did strange things like running out of the house suddenly, with the intent of going downtown and finding hard drugs, forcing my partner to chase me down the street. I didn't realize it, but I had begun to be emotionally abusive to my partner as well, through my self-destructive behaviors and constant need for attention and care.

My addiction and suicidal behavior accelerated to the point where I, myself, ended up in a psych ward. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Somehow being locked up in that awful place made me realize I had to start trying to turn my life around.

I got into recovery.

Unfortunately, it was not enough to fix all of my bad behaviors. My partner and I, through our shared trauma, had essentially turned into our own version of Sidney and Nancy. They did some abusive things to me, but I was far worse. My abuse of them wasn't physical, but emotional and psychological, and mostly it was unconscious. I was just desperately flailing, trying to keep them close to me, and all the while pushing them away.

One night, they broke up with me and asked me to move out.

Around this time, I had another friend who had become sick of my * tell me to just go ahead and kill myself "already." Needless to say, that wasn't a pleasant conversation.

I had failed everyone. I had become the abuser that Nancy had lied and said I was. I had lost my fiancee and my home.

Strangely, the realization that I had become the abusive thing I hated, motivated me to finally turn my life around. I finally saw that I wasn't a helpless victim-- that if I had the power to harm others then I must actually have the power to do good as well. I enrolled in a non-violence program for abusive men, and what they taught me helped me check and unlearn my toxic behaviors. I continued in my addiction recovery. I FINALLY got medicated for my PTSD. My therapist finally said he saw a positive change in me, after watching me flail and spiral for years. The only thing that mattered to me was to not be a bad person any more.

PART SEVEN: NOW

I am still not fully healed. I am still not perfect. But I am better than I ever expected I could be and have repaired more of my past than I had ever dreamed.

I was able to make full amends to my ex-fiancee in demonstrating that I had become a stable, trustworthy, kind and considerate person. We are really good friends now. We consider ourselves a "restorative justice success story." My ex-fiancee is now married to another one of my best friends, who also happens to be my boss at work. Sometimes, as often as possible really, my current boyfriend and I go hang out with the two of them to binge-watch Orphan Black.

When I got three years sober, my ex-fiancee gave me their three-year AA chip from when they had three years. It is the most precious thing I have ever received, symbolizing so much forgiveness, grace and healing that I can barely comprehend it.

I can sleep at night. I no longer use substances or other means to hurt myself. I have been clean from everything for more than four and a half years, and I sponsor others in recovery. I am no longer suicidal, and the people who know me no longer have to walk on eggshells to avoid triggering me. I have a job, a home, and a loving, non-violent relationship. People turn to ME for support now, rather than being taken emotionally hostage by my issues. Sex is fun now, rather than scary and triggering. It's everything I ever wanted, and more than I ever dreamed of having.

I probably haven't explained my experiences very well, and I have probably left some important things out. My lifestyle, my gender identity, and my politics might be hard for some of you to relate to, and I understand.

What is important to me today is to be a kind, stable, brave, trustworthy and supportive person. I do not wish to harm others. I do not seek out destructive people who will harm me, in order to endlessly relive my past traumas. I value integrity, honesty, empathy, forgiveness, and faith (although my faith might be different than yours).

I know that the only way I can live up to those values is through extensive self-care. In my case, the phrase "hurt people hurt people" was extremely true, and I was hurting so badly. I work my 12 steps diligently, I go to therapy, I make time for my art and music and writing, I spend time with the ones I love.

My relationship to my parents is much improved as well. While I still think of them as a bit immature, I am better able to have boundaries around parenting my mother, who is also much less erratic than she used to be. I am pretty sure my mother has untreated C-PTSD herself, her life story is full of trauma and loss. I approach her from a place of empathy. My dad now fully accepts me as his son, which is great but a bit awkward now that I find myself identifying more and more as androgynous rather than male or female.

Unfortunately, some things will never change. I am still trans, although it's frankly much safer to be trans now than when I came out almost ten years ago. I hope that trend continues. Most of my friends are still also trans, and still experience transphobic violence. But now that we are all in our late twenties and early thirties, and have done a lot more healing work on ourselves, we are far more resilient and less volatile than we used to be. We are much better prepared to protect and support each other.

I've written a novel already, so I'll leave it at that. Thank you anyone who read this entire thing.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 09:45:29 PM by abcdefghijohnnyz »

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Three Roses

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 03:21:46 AM »
abcdefghijohnnyz - I'm having a difficult time finding words for how strong and brave I think you are.
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I finally saw that I wasn't a helpless victim-- that if I had the power to harm others then I must actually have the power to do good as well.
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I am still not fully healed. I am still not perfect. But I am better than I ever expected I could be and have repaired more of my past than I had ever dreamed.
These statements are so meaningful, so profound. No, we never do get to  "perfect", and that's just fine with me.

I'm so sorry you had to go thru all that darkness to be able to live in the light you now have. But your eloquence and courage truly are inspiring. A great big cyber hug to you if you will take it! :bighug:

Thanks for your post. I'm glad you're here (I mean that in every sense of the word)!

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abcdefghijohnnyz

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 05:01:21 AM »
Thank you so much.

We have a phrase in AA (sorry I can't help being a 12 stepper)-- "No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others." If I can give even one person some hope and inspiration than it's actually worth it to be to have this experience.

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Wife#2

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 08:06:35 PM »
That is some profound wisdom - and be proud of your 12-stepping identity - they are here to help us get back on a positive track. And it sounds as if it's helping you, so HURRAY!

I am sorry for all the heartache and very real pain you've survived. I'm very glad that you did survive it! Thank you for sharing this much of your story. You have touched my heart in a very real way.

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sanmagic7

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2017, 02:40:48 AM »
wow.  what a journey you've been on.  i can't relate to much of your story, but i can admire your courage of having gone through so much yet deciding that's not the kind of person you want to be.  you took that beast by the horns and wrestled it to the ground, and that's quite an achievement.  all credit to you.

i can relate to being in the clutches of manipulative people, and doing things that really weren't me.  that really sucks.   it's a wonder we come out of some of this with sanity intact.  thanks for sharing.  you are truly an inspiration.  big hug.

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Contessa

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2017, 11:08:08 PM »
Oh abcedfghijohnnyz, thank you for sharing this tremendous story. That is quite the journey, and might I say you are an excellent writer.

I am truly uplifted by how you have successfully redefined your path in response to the negative experiences described. You are a mountain of strength, and I feel that you would be a great person to call upon for advice and support by anyone in the process of their healing.

Thank you again for the inspiration xo

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abcdefghijohnnyz

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Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2017, 12:16:38 AM »
Thanks for all the replies.

I am still coming to grips with how crazy my entire late teens and early twenties were. I realized pretty quickly that the kidnapping was traumatic, and that the incidents with Sidney and Nancy were traumatic, but what was harder to accept was what the toxicity of my daily life did to me. Being young and trans and traumatized and flailing, and surrounded by others who were in the same boat, was so constantly stressful and terrifying, it's really hard to explain. Between the risks of violence from others and the suicidal urges we all struggled with, it just pretty much constantly felt like we were all gonna die. >.<

Re: My Story (Trigger Warnings)
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 02:04:45 PM »
I don't think you will see this, but I just wanted to put it out there I read your entire story, and I think you are an inspiration. I am so deeply sorry for all the pain you have had to endure  :hug: Hopefully you are doing well and thriving in your journey <3 Thank you for sharing all of those personal details, prayers and love  :)