One of my all-time favorite moments from church came during a chastity talk. I know. Odd.
This golden moment happened when our straight-laced bishop--like UBER straight laced--started talking about how waiting until marriage was wonderful, blah blah blah. He talked about how we needed to make sure we lived within prescribed lines before we married. But then he got this goofy look on his face, and started to do this awkward dance with his hips and said, “But after you’re married you can get as WIIIIIILD as you want.” His wife was sitting just in front of me in the rows of desks. She turned to me and said, “Oh please, can you EVER imagine the bishop WILD?!?!”
I doubled over and laughed so hard that I was in tears and my sides ached. It still makes me giggle. If only every chastity talk were that wonderful.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Christmastime has been hard the last couple of years. Last year it was because I was on the verge of a panic attack 24/7--if I wasn't in the middle of one. I’d only realized what had happened to me on my mission about 5 or 6 weeks previous to Christmas. I was home, surrounded by love, surrounded by people that cared about me. Some knew, some didn't. Love can really hurt sometimes for various reasons that maybe I’ll post about later.
This year I was flooded with memories of the Christmas on my mission and that made it especially hard. My trainer’s birthday is Dec. 23 and I remember distinctly the full week leading up to Christmas. To put things succinctly and bluntly, she gave herself many Christmas and birthday presents that week, multiple times a day a few times, all at my expense.
She’s a horrible person. HORRIBLE.
This year I decided that I was going to take my Christmas week back. I did things with people that loved me. I hung out (have been hanging out) with friends that care about me, that love me. I have been able to be around my family and feel safe; I have been able to feel love and have it not have it feel like overwhelming hurt and pain. I have felt more like Vanessa this trip home. I’m a different Vanessa than I was before I realized everything about my mission two Novembers ago. My life has been changed irrevocably, and it has been hard--SO BLASTED HARD--sometimes. But when I do things, often it’s because I want to heal. So the Vanessa that I am now is a healing Vanessa.
I have taken time over these last few days to do things that will be new memories. I made it through Christmas. I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get here emotionally. December 26th seemed like a crazy dream. But I was DETERMINED to get to today with a feeling of safety. I didn’t want the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas Eve/Day to be days of mere survival. I wanted them to be days where I could look back with pride, with new memories forged, with my Christmas reclaimed from the horrors of my past.
A few days back a friend asked me a question about something, how I felt in regards to something in my life. My response was, I feel like a victor.
Today, December 26, 2012, I am a victor.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I went to visit a friend in Charlotte Monday night, and then hit up some areas in old Tryon County, NC. In reality, I traipsed around all of the present-day counties in the erstwhile Tryon County.
Why? FAMILY HISTORY!!
So first I went here. I met a woman that I'm distantly related to, like fifth half cousin twice removed. But still. I went to this building and met a relative:
Then I set out to find some of my own family's history hot spots. Took a wrong turn near Cherryville, NC. No worries, found another family name! Eaker! I mean they were neighbors.
But don't fear! I found the main reason why I'd gone all that way:
This picture shows the marker set up on Christian Mauney's land (an Nth great uncle). Here in 1775 my Nth Great Grandpa Jacob Mauney signed his name to the Tryon Resolves. It was a treasonable defense because they stood up against the Crown, decrying the actions actions Massachusetts. It's hard to describe how I felt standing there. I'd be lying if I didn't tear up a bit thinking about it all.
I was the first member of my family's direct line to stand in that spot in probably 220 years.
Uncle Christian donated the property for the site of the old court house. Also Cornwallis camped there? Huh.
I stood there and soaked it in. It was so overwhelming. It has been more than 237 years since the Resolves were signed.
I bumbled around Cherryville a bit b/c my ancestors essentially settled what became the city. Also, I went to the filthiest (in many ways) and most revolting gas station I've ever been to. Ew.
Ew. Ew. Ew.
Then I drove back down the Old Court House Road to go to this intersection. I drove on the Mauney Farm Road for a while, because it was the land of my Nth uncles, the most accessible by car. I rolled down my windows, opened the sunroof and soaked in the area.
I got out of the car to take this picture and a woman stopped to ask if I was lost. I told her what I was up to. Her words, "Oh! My grandma, my mom's mom, was a Mooney!"
Seriously, I have distant relatives everywhere there. She then described things to me, the lay of the land, how many Mooney's there were. She thinks the people that kept the "Mauney" spelling are the snooty, have-money ones. Hah!
Then I drove the nearest I could get to my Nth Great Grandaddy's land I shook head my thinking how he was a tanner just over the way, how he had 300 acres the butted up against the creek that I was at that moment driving over.
I really couldn't believe it.
Could not believe it.
So, you know, all I've got now is to go to Pennsylvania Dutch country, Alsace and Switzerland. No biggie.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
There's the website call 7 Billion Others that I'm enamored with that has videos from dozens and dozens of people, well probably hundreds now, from around the world. The topics are common to the human condition, family, career, God, life after death, etc. It's fascinating to see and hear what the people have to say.
Anyway, that's all.
Posted by Vanessa Swenson at 19:07
Monday, December 10, 2012
...And then Mariah's like, so today we're gonna keep going with this, today is totally gonna be one where we continue thru emotions, not the verbal.
And I'm totally all, yeah, no. Let's talk about guitars. I own three. I'll bring two so you can totes play one. And I'll play another.
And she's like, you totally brought that back to the cerebral and we're gonna keep with the emotional. mmmmmm K.
And I'm like totally pouting.
And then, I mean, we're like totes listening to beautiful music of my choice that moves me, like deep down, ya know?
And I'm soooo crying and drawing pictures of warmth and safety.
And I'm going to be OK.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I never know how I stumble onto things on the internet. Well, it's probably a safe bet to say that tumblr made me do it. Usually it's really funny things that I find. Or things that are really useful. And then there's the awesomeness the internet provides. Or things that are from of Brazil. Important things, too. etc. etc. etc.
The one that I found yesterday isn't in quite the same vein, but it's caused me to think a lot about what I've posted on this blog and how I've posted it--well, better put, what I haven't explicitly said and why.
I found this link and some of the things said resonated with me:
"I kept it to myself because it was an embarrassing thing: I was bigger than she was."
Because society does not widely recognize female-perpetrated sexual assault, women who experience it are less likely to call crisis lines or go to therapists immediately after the assault.
"I had never heard of women doing that, so it just didn't fit into my reality."Yes to all of that. Part of the reason why I had wavered back and for about even putting anything on my blog about the molestation I suffered was because it was by another woman. I was bigger than she was. I was an adult, older than 17. In fact I was 21 and on my mission. The person that hurt me was my mission trainer. I was with her for a bit more than 4 months. Her work on getting me to the point that she could abuse me took little more than a transfer and started pretty much on my first day in the mission field.
It just wasn't in my reality that this could happen on a mission. You know, trust your trainer, she'll help you out, she'll teach you the ropes. She totally power tripped on this, I mean, obviously.
Another part from the website that I found had this statement to which I gave an AMEN:
If we are raped by a woman and are not lesbian or bisexual, we may fear that people will assume we are gay.I was terrified of people thinking this of me, not because I find homosexuality wrong, but because then it would mean that I was complicit. Who would understand? I knew that I was straight. Was I just giving off a vibe and so she acted on it? For years I figured that it must've been that. It was my fault.
I'd already had had a person--a family member--start spreading a rumor saying that I was gay and he even decided to let people know who my mystical lesbian lover was. I've already had to come out as straight once. There's nothing like someone spreading rumors about your sexuality. It all played right into my fear. Obviously I give off that vibe. orrrrr maybe that person was just a selfish jerk (which I realize now). But this was not long after I had realized that I'd been abused. Talk about terrible timing.
It's taken me a long time to be able to post this aspect outright. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I still feel embarrassed about it here and there, that I don't think guiltily, "Well, I was bigger, I should've just pushed her off."
But abuse isn't like that. After she got transferred away from being my companion, she was in a neighboring city and we all went to the same stake center for district and zone meetings. She would corner me in the bathroom and get her quick fix. We would have to spend the night in the main zone city sometimes because of zone meetings or whatever reason. Those were her favorite nights. She'd make up for lost time.
I write this last bit to show that size and distance doesn't matter. When a victim is thrown back into a situation with an abuser, paralyzing fear takes over. I was always terrified that someone would walk into the bathroom, think that I was the instigator, that I'd get sent home. I thought that one of the other two or six sister missionaries would've figured it out and told. I'd get sent home from my mission. The shame and the sorrow. The one thing I wanted more than anything was to serve a mission.
She was transferred away from that area on my half-way point in the mission, the day before my 22nd birthday. Best birthday present ever. I spent the second half of my mission with the goal to serve faithfully, to make up for how I'd obviously blown it. Maybe the Lord would forgive me. Maybe he would be magnanimous enough to let me have the Spirit so that I could teach the people, the people that I loved so much. I love the Brazilians with every bit of my heart, one that they said was like totally not American, but was so completely Brazilian.
I left the mission thinking that I'd failed, that I hadn't done enough.
Now I know that I served a faithful mission. I served and fought thru so much, while believing every day that I was failing. I worked hard every day because I loved the Brazilians and I loved the happiness of the gospel. I knew that Christ loves us so much. My goal over the last months of my mission wasn't to baptize everyone, it was to make sure that each person I talked to felt lighter in their heart, that they knew that God loved them.
For so long I felt like she'd taken my mission away from me. But she never did because I worked every day. I worked every blasted day as much as I could. I will not give up.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Heavenly Father let me know that Luke 6 had some answers for me, specifically the verses that I've copied below. The highlights are mine.
17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
I love the New Testament.