Missouri and Violence on Women or; When I Get Bored, I Follow Links

So, Nicaragua is considered, by Amnesty International, to have a violence against women issue, and gives statistics that are interesting.

The total ban on all forms of abortion remained in force. Two thirds of rape victims whose cases were recorded between January and August 2009 were under 18. – Amnesty International Source

So at that point, I thought that the number of 1259 was rather low for a whole country, so I looked up their population. 6 million, give or take. So in order for that number to make sense for me, I tried to find an area that was comparable in number, if not in all statistical areas – in other words, it isn’t a perfect 1:1 ratio, but it gave me an idea of people. And the place I found? My home state. The state of Missouri has about the same number of people. Last census in Missouri was in 2010 and there were just under 6 million people, with an estimated just over 6 million for 2016. Nicaragua’s last census shows just over 6 million. So we are talking about the same size population. And so I looked up the rape statistics in our state. And I was floored.

The State Highway Patrol has released the crime statistics in the state. The 2016 rape statistics are 2,543 reported and a clear rate of 1,029. 16.42% of these reported crimes were committed by juveniles only. And the last three years have seen nothing but an increase in reported rapes. According to RAIIN, only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported. Source

So if 2 out of 3 go unreported, we are looking at 5000 unreported rapes. Not 5000 total – 5000 rapes are unreported. That gives a working number of 7500 rapes per 6 million residents. I don’t have a number of unreported rapes for Nicaragua, but if they are anything like our state, we can assume for every rape reported, there are two that are not. But even if we go with reported rapes, we still stand much worse off than a Central American country that has a bad rating on Women and Children’s rights. How is it that a state in the Midwest of the United States, that has, theoretically a better infrastructure, a better legal system, a First World country that has First World problems like lack of cellphone coverage, outpaces this entire country in the lack of care for Women and Children. If this is what Amnesty International thinks of Nicaragua, what in the name of Bob must they think of us? If we were rated as if we were a country, our rating on the support of Women and Children would be horrific. I mean, I don’t even want to try to find maternal death rates as I think it will just depress me even more.

When I think of places that are dangerous for women to live, I list places like Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Honduras. I don’t think The State Of Missouri Where I Live. And if you asked me to break down the rape statistics, I would assume, based on nothing but my own experience, that college towns have the highest rates of rape, both reported and unreported, per capita. Rolla, Springfield, Kirksville, Maryville… Towns that are almost completely shaped around the universities that reside there. And that, during the school year, more than triples what we would consider inhabitants. But I don’t even know that this is true. I am just guessing. And I find that I don’t really want to know. Because my middle child lives in one of these College Based Towns. And they were raped. And they didn’t report it. My child is a statistic upon statistic. And while at the time, we made certain assumptions about their self identification, I now know that “queer” and “non binary gender identification” adds to the statistics. Which aren’t positive ones.

And to think this all started from me reading the tag on a women’s racerback tank top that I ordered online and had been asked to review.


 

So I haven’t touched on illness, mental or otherwise, but believe me when I say it’s always there, lurking in the background. I cannot even tell you the last time I made it all the way downstairs on a day where I am here alone. I go down to do laundry. And my dining room is starting to turn into my depression nest. I am cleaning it, slowly but surely, and separating stuff out for a garage sale, but I am starting to think this is like my friend’s mother who didn’t leave her bedroom for years. And I mean YEARS. I have always been vaguely jealous of her. I wonder what it takes for someone else to accept that you can’t leave a single room in your house. She had a master bathroom, though. I don’t have one of those and if I need to do my hair, like I do right now, I would be out of luck. So out of my room I must come to pee and get coffee and let out the dog and take the kid to band camp and take the cat to the vet and get the kid *from* band camp. I was keeping a pain and depression diary and a planner. And I have totally let that get away from me. And all the things I had planned for us to do, including walking so that I can lose some of this weight and get back to a size 12, sweet Jesus, what I wouldn’t give. But, I digress. It feels like the dining room table, where I have my Cricut and my laptop and can plug in the phone and iPad and diffuser and ignore the world, has become the latest for me in a strange and never ending hide outs from the world. And that was OK when I was still being social. But now that I am not social, I wonder how long it will be until I can’t do anything or go anywhere.

 

And here’s a closing thought. One that I have been chewing on for about a week now. Either you are angry because my illness has made so many things hard on you, but you don’t feel like you can be angry because that then makes you an asshole. Well, I have news – you are being the asshole without telling me why. Which doesn’t translate well. And you should dump outward, not inward. I am the one who has the fucking diseases, so how about you find someone outside of me to dump that shit on. There is a thing called the Ring Theory that I found a while back that comes in helpful when things are starting to go wahoonie shaped. I am in the center of the circle for Sarah’s Depression, Anxiety, Immune System Crashing and Burning, and Drug Side Effects. Individually and collectively. Draw one circle or draw six. But the center for the things that I have wrong with me make ME the center of the circle. The only person I will allow that should be able to inhabit the center of the circle of my illnesses is my 12 year old son. Bear has every right to be in there with me as he is the one who has lost the most in his life with having a sick mother. The following is a paragraph from the original article from the L.A.Times. I have included it to try to give a clearer picture of what I mean. Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

And while I can’t tape this to the refrigerator, as that would be seen as being passive aggressive, I can tape it to my blog. And that isn’t perfect, but it will have to do for today.

Joint pain and range of motion; or Words I Say While Putting on a Bra

I don’t know how to begin to explain the joy that is putting on clothing when you have chronic pain issues. Because you have no idea how all that stuff is connected until one thing hurts. And it can be only one thing. Or many. Either way, it’s a load of fun.

When  people have surgery, they learn quickly what is connected with what. When I had my oldest, there were complications that lead to me basically having to have minor surgery to fix things after. And it was the most painful experience of my life. Or at least it was in the top five. I was still in the hospital when I sneezed. Before I could even start crying, there was a nurse there to put something good in my IV. Because all that stuff is connected And even coughing was profoundly painful. It took me a month to be able to walk fully upright. I have heard from people who have had even laparoscopic surgery that said they had no idea how connected those muscles were until they coughed. Or sneezed. Or went to stand up. And everything, and I mean everything went OHFUCKNO and that was the end of that.

In my case, things are strange. Things that hurt one day, may not hurt another day. One morning I may have full range of motion and then other mornings I try to stand up and hiss in that special way that means “Where the hell did that come from?”. I am lucky enough to have swelling in my sternum due to RA. And that is one of those things that you don’t know how much you flex that area until you flex it and it puts in its two cents worth. It makes using my nose spray fun because sneezing is so painful that I will brace myself on the counter. Which is a bad idea as that is how you hit your head and knock yourself cold. Which is about the most embarrassing thing to do. Especially when there is no one in the house with you and you wake up on the floor with a bump on your head. Not that I would know from experience. NOT AT ALL. I watched Jessica do it. At least once.

So – putting on clothes and how it relates to the rest of my life.

For the most part, we cannot go in public, as women, without a bra on. This is something that can be uncomfortable physically and just socially. But on the days I cannot put one on, what do I do? My husband has given me suggestions about how to put on my bra which makes me want to stab him in the face. Guess who has never worn a bra? HIM! And guess who has no idea how to twist their shoulders and hips and torso to put one on? Well, again, that would be him. Any form of trying to put one on when you have shoulder, neck and sternum issues is amazing. Put it on backwards and turn it around? Still hurts. Put in on with the straps up and over already? Twisting shoulders and torso to get it hooked – still hurts. What it comes down to is – it hurts. It is social and sometimes physical necessity that most people who don’t have to wear one or who *do* have to wear one but don’t have pain issues don’t grok the depth of having to wear one to go out.

So let’s talk about anxiety about leaving the house. Like the bra, there are things that can make me socially and physically uncomfortable about leaving the house. And the “helpful” commentary I get about leaving the house isn’t actually helpful. My anxiety disorder and asking me what “set it off this time” is like asking me why my sternum hurts. Well, I have RA. In my sternum. Why am I having a panic attack about leaving the house? Well, I have an anxiety disorder. There is nothing that “sets it off”. It is something that lurks in my life and some days makes it impossible to do the easiest of things. And continuing to insist that there has to be something that can be done or changed or started or stopped isn’t helpful. My Vicodin helps with the pain a bit, but doesn’t guarantee that I can rotate my shoulders. My Xanax and my antidepressant help with the anxiety disorder and intrusive thoughts, but doesn’t always mean that I can bounce out of bed and run out to PetSmart. It means that I have some chemicals that help to combat the fucked up chemicals that I live with. Not cured. Not fixed. Not perfect. And surely not suddenly explainable.

And much like the weather changing can add to my pain issues, things that change and happen around me can add to my anxiety and my depression. The chemical mix I am on now seemed to be working pretty well. I felt better than I had in years. And then something happened. Something large and angry and was not something that I had any control over. My husband and my daughter managed to have a screaming fight on Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. So what little I had gained, I lost, and then some. When the adults in your life cannot act like they are adults, there is little you can do to make things better. And when the person who is supposed to have been the one who takes care of you and protects you from the world becomes the person who shoves you back down the hill, it’s a hard pill to take. Living with someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart for whatever reason is something that will make a sick person, sicker. It is as if they have forced a weather change and then get angry when your shoulders hurt. There’s nothing I can do to fix my brain. The only thing I can do is get help from the person who is supposed to be there to support me.

Which leads me to wonder about when it has become too much. Most of us who suffer from chronic and/or recurring health issues wonder when we will become too much. When helping becomes something not that the other person wants to do, but feels they *have* to do and it becomes a burden. And in some cases, they begin to sabotage you because it’s the only way they know how to act out their frustration. Which makes you worse and you need more help. Which means they become more resentful. Which makes you worse. Because let me tell you, we can tell when you are being hurtful on purpose. Or obtuse on purpose. Or are shoving us back down a hill on purpose because it has become too much to deal with and it feels good to shove, finally. Helping me put on a bra is an easy thing. But continuing to try to help me stay calm, get things done around the house and get me to go out to do even family things, day in and day out, is way more complicated and exhausting than helping with the pain issues. Add them together, and every day that passes, some of us wonder when it will be done. Or when the help will just stop. Or turn to harm. Or if it already has turned to harm and I have turned a blind eye to it, because what the hell else can I do? It isn’t like I’m a trust fund kid who can just do her own thing. I am dependant on the person who now holds a job. And who is angry that their money isn’t enough. And who is angry that *I* don’t have enough money. Angry about things I cannot fix. I have a child to think of outside of my own health. He has to come first. And even then, it is a struggle to make sure these things are done for him the way they should be.

So I guess the long and the short of it at this point is that helping me put on a bra or vacuuming the living room is easy. Being an emotional support and respecting my fucked up chemicals in my brain is much harder. And in a lot of cases, more harm than help is given. And we can’t even explain that. Because it’s harder for me to explain why what you think is a normal conversation in some cases is pushing me closer to the edge. Just like me telling you that my sternum hurts, you have to take my word for it that this conversation, for example, is making me hurt and I need your help.

Until one day, I realize that the help has ended. And it will. I have looked up statistics on people with chronic pain, depression, anxiety and all the other little fun things I have pinging around my life and I realize that we don’t stay married. Our partners become exhausted. Or we do when we can no longer bring ourselves to continue to explain why our partner is hurting us, physically and emotionally. When we are forced to make choices about what is more important to us – monetary security or emotional support. And then we are faced with the reality that we have neither. That’s when we stop wearing a bra and going out in public. And that’s when we stop trying to become a person who can shoulder it all. We stop trying to become a person. We stop wanting to be.

And we do. We stop.