When you remember, life is simple

When you close your eyes and take in a deep breath, you are met with a moment of peace. Life really is that simple.

But I don’t expect you to believe me right away. It’s just too modest a concept to be true! In fact, even now, I have to pause to remember this important lesson from my past. It gets lost so easily in the complexity of thought.

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So instead of asking you to listen in blind faith, I’m going to share with you a story of how I came to this wisdom. In the end, you can decide what you choose to believe. All I ask is that you make that decision after taking your own deep breath:

 

When I was ten years old, I had a medical condition that required constant medication delivered by epidural. We relied on a local compounding pharmacy to deliver the script, and eventually, there was bound to be human error. That error came on Halloween night.

 

Sewn into a witch outfit made specifically for my swelling and casts, I began to feel nauseous. I wanted to trick-or-treat, to join the crowd of ghosts, witches, and cats, but I could feel my head sway from side-to-side. Sweat dripped from my hands and onto my pumpkin candy bag; my palms were shaking in my lap. My flesh was burning and aching with the constant feeling of being stabbed with a flaming knife. Somewhere between nausea, anticipation, and pain, my mom had readied me for bed, deciding my sister would just have to get my candy. She pulled my thin, pink blanket to my chin, careful to keep my swollen leg uncovered, and wished me a good night.

 

The next thing I knew, my mom was screaming at my bed, her body turning to run down the hall. My consciousness faded as I lay mumbling without words, still holding my hand as though I were grasping the pumpkin candy bag. Clicking my tongue to my lips, I nestled my head in my pillow, my body into Egyptian cotton sheets. The peaceful comfort of my bed extended for miles, and I just couldn’t understand what all the yelling could mean.

 

My head began to shake back and forth, but all I felt was wonder. If something was wrong, I wished my mom would just talk to me. When I tried to scream for her attention, though, my attempts were detached, my vocal cords too remote for my brain to control. Everything, even the worry, seemed so distant.

 

My mom ran back into my room almost immediately with two men and a gurney, her voice swallowing dry tears. I felt like I sat up in bed in response, though I know now I didn’t. With the injury and medication, not to mention the seizure, I physically couldn’t. Whatever they were doing, I lay there invisible. They moved at double-speed, while I watched as though the world were moving at half its pace. For every word they said, I could whisper twelve. Don’t worry, I thought to myself, sitting in a silence more vast than any silence I’d ever heard. Slow down.

 

The weight of my inflamed body melted from my bones, and I rose, floating from the bed to the bay window. I had worn a white, ankle-length pajama to bed, one covered with smiley faces on top and an old Egyptian cotton sheet on bottom. It was an original, sewn together by my mom from my two favorite materials that I just wouldn’t throw away. Staring from the window seat at the body in my bed, I wondered how that girl, too, had one of my pajamas. Her hair was the same strawberry blonde as mine, her leg just as swollen and cheeks just as sickly pale.

Realizing what I was seeing, I felt like the proper reaction would be to gulp. But I had no need to react. My mind was at peace.

 

Everyone in the room looked so worried, jamming the gurney to my bedside, calling out numbers. Everyone seemed so frazzled.

 

Don’t worry, I called out, unseen at the window.

 

Looking behind me, I could make out ambulance lights swirling in our driveway. It was all so interesting, so curious.

 

I’m okay, I thought, fading out of consciousness.

 

You’ll be okay.” A man at the head of the gurney stared into my face as my body convulsed in violent thrashes. Tension wrinkled through my forehead, my eyes staying only slightly open as I gasped for more air.

 

I remember worrying about my nightgown – I didn’t want them to tear it. I remember seeing the popcorn acoustic ceiling as we moved from the hallway, through an arch to the living area. And with a final thought to not worry, I forgot the convulsions and let the world fade away.

 

When moving through my days since then, I often forget what I felt sitting separate from my body. But the opportunity to know that feeling is a gift I keep near.

 

When we think life is rushed, I know now, perhaps it isn’t. Take a step back, and we have all the time that we need. When we worry about the worst possible outcome, I think now, to choose to feel calm. Just maybe, the anxiety will fade away.

 

We all have a tendency to complicate matters. We build stress into each day. We look to the future with fear and anxiety. We look into our past with regrets and what ifs. We complicate our lives until we forget that we have the power to take a simple, deep breath.

 

So pause with me a minute. Take a deep breath.

 

And hear me out, because I’m not pointing fingers. I do the same ‘complicating’ thing. But then I remember the girl in the window seat, the girl who chose to sit apart from the worry. I feel her weightlessness and calm. And I ask myself, ‘Girl, what are you doing?!With a simple choice to just breathe, life will always unveil an extra sliver of peace.  

© 2018 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

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Find a splendid way to get lost in the moment!

Today I Love…

Getting lost in the moment of drilling! What is your splendid way to get lost in the moment? Write it. Share it. Embrace it this next moment!

Today, I love drilling ivory. I love watching the beige tusk spin out from a millimeter of depth. How it rolls and collides in a dance of freedom. I love creating that freedom. And I love taking a deep inhale through my yellow mask, breathing in the burning ivory. I love the scent of burning ivory – like the gift of fresh-baked scone. And I love that the ivory burns less every day.

Today, I love remembering. I love wondering how it felt to first hold the drill. Not too long ago. The day when my hand first met metal. I remember, how I was so clumsy. And I love that I was so clumsy! My lines skidding into a path of improvement. I love that I can see such improvement.

Today, I love finding balance, my fingers resting steady, guiding my drill no deeper than dentin. I love the softness of dentin, and how I can create such precision with my hands. And I love that I now know where to place my fingers, when only two weeks ago, I did not. Today, I love learning, and I love how the challenge of the experience becomes just an afterthought.

Today, I love the serenity in the moments surrounding afterthoughts.

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© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Pulling The Shame Out From Beneath The Foreskin of Rape

On one Friday the 13th, a girl was shot at a high school. A concert was playing at Red Rocks. And I was the victim of a rape.

As a writer and medical student, I have had the honor of sharing so many stories from patients and friends. I have written the human experience from perspectives so distant from my own. But in a time of need, when I turned to neighbors and friends for understanding and for a voice of reason, I didn’t find what I was seeking.

Instead, I found responsibility, and I found a pen; I found myself tasked with writing the voice of reason and humor, compassion and understanding that I so desperately sought that lukewarm December night. I can still hear my voice sometimes, as I shouted, “Please. Don’t. Stop.” at my rapist. At the time, I couldn’t hear the irony of of the words that I chose, and the order in which I said them. But that irony shouldn’t have mattered; because, even as a victim, especially as a victim, I mattered. Even as a victim, you matter.

The following article is the original submission of my story to YourTango, unedited to remain authentic to my voice. The final edit is found on the YourTango site. Please read forward with humor and care, and remember how brightly a survivor now smiles this Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

41 Thoughts You Have After A Sexual Assault That No One Ever Talks About

Because it’s time we pull the shame out from beneath the foreskin of rape.

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‘If you are a victim of sexual assault, you are not alone.’ Or so I heard about ten too many times after my sexual assault. ‘Others have been through worse.’ ‘So many men and women overcome this trauma.’ ‘You survived.’ As if rape is a rite of passage into womanhood! 

Newsflash: IT ISN’T!

But what I didn’t hear, what no one would talk about, were the thoughts that come after the assault. And I’m not talking PTSD, panic in the mind and body after. Yes, those exist. Yes, they interfere with sex and self-esteem and life in general. And yes, so many people are out there sharing guidance for those issues, myself included. But what about the sexual thoughts that follow rape? And the thoughts of empowerment? What about every single aspect of life that this criminal has just thrown upside down as carelessly as he threw my body against the car door?  Where are the advice columns for that?

Because, guess what?  What he did to me was NOT okay; in fact, it was a crime! And yet, in losing control, in seeing sex through a demon’s eyes and from behind the blade of a knife, I came to be empowered. I came to speak my mind. And I came to a decision to finally share the 41 thoughts you have after a sexual assault that no one ever talks about. Because, let’s face it: the crime and not the reaction is the real shame.

1. They’ll call you a ‘survivor.’ They will say you are ‘so strong’ for fighting back, for getting away.  They will say ‘there are so many who have been through this kind of trauma.’ And ‘you will get through.’ But they won’t know how to make the ‘getting through’ feel safe. They won’t leave space for thoughts that feel weak. Or dirty. Or gloriously wrong. They won’t acknowledge the part of the assault that wasn’t sexy but made you grow in sexuality. Because, thought number 1, you did grow in sexuality.

2. And listen, you don’t need to hear how ‘so many’ men and women have been through this kind of experience. It’s not a shared gateway to adulthood. It’s not a rite of passage. It’s a crime, plain and simple.

3. Because if rape is a rite of passage, a human experience, where does that leave sexual assault? A half-rite of passage, a half-human’s existence? You are almost a man/woman, but sorry, you escaped a moment too soon. I mean, seriously.

4. Though, sometimes, you do think about the people who went through more, and through less. You think of how many there are.

5. And, let’s be honest. You’re selfish. Because you know how hard it is to explain to someone that you are a virgin, but you have been sexually assaulted, but no, you have not felt a penis inside you.

6. Because you dissociated too soon. Not that it matters, because when you do finally land naked on tossed sheets, you’ll forget where you are. You’ll go back to that night with that rapist with his penis.

7. His penis never really does leave your body. Every stroke of your skin, every touch of a man. Your body remembers.

8. And sometimes, that memory feels good. Too good.

9. So you just say it: an assault isn’t something to ‘get over’ or ‘through.’ It’s over. And you and him are most certainly through. But he never leaves you, or your bed, or your sex life.

10. You have never told your partner, though, that you’re in a threesome– you, your lover, and your memory of a rapist.

11. As long as you feel safe. But when you feel weak, when you feel tired, that’s when the memories matter. When the memories hurt.

12. And you have to be honest.

13. And you have to grow strong. Because of your rapist. You have to.

14. Remember, he called your body beautiful. You are beautiful. He called you ravenous. You are ravenous. And why the hell shouldn’t you believe him? Whatever his motive, you choose to believe he was honest.

15. With his feelings. With his needs. You know every crevasse of his needs.

16. So, despite the lies you told to escape, despite the lies you told to protect yourself in the moment, in the aftermath, you choose to be better than your rapist. In EVERY way. You choose to be even more honest.

17. And release the secrets verbally. Because they really do harbor shame, much the way the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis harbored STIs.

18. If only you were brave enough to get tested for STIs.

19. But there is victory. In remembering. Even though your assailant may have taken your body from you, he didn’t take your memory.

19. So now, there’s a girlfriend who knows every detail of this sad little man’s dick. And you have to wonder if for every rapist, there’s a therapist or friend who knows the details of his dick (or her vulva to be open to options).

20. And, if so, can we make a dick-tionary so police can help find these demons. Or, at least, as a reference guide so women can know one when she sees it.

21. Not that rapists can’t change. Because people can change. You sure have changed.

22. I mean, you still put on the same clothes from that night. You liked the top too much for a slimeball *no pun intended* to ruin it for you. And it was on sale.

23. But, oh boy, has your mind opened to what sex is. And what it isn’t.

24. And why ‘sexually active’ and ‘sexually protective’ are two very different things. When you go asking a doctor for birth control.

25. “I’m sorry, but ‘I want to be ready for when I am raped,’ wasn’t on the intake form as an option, and sexually active doesn’t quite cut it.”

26. Not when the first penis you saw was on a cadaver. Cold and pale, devoid of blood. Sliced open, straight down the urethra.

27. And the second was on a rapist.

28. In fact, calling rape ‘sexually active’ just has a bad aftertaste. There is nothing active about it. There is nothing intentional about lying helpless with a man’s grip around your throat.

29. But you often choose to keep those thoughts to yourself. Because a victim is supposed to be strong. A victim is supposed to move forward. A good victim is supposed to be quiet and meek.

30. And forget that! Here’s the inspiration you needed to hear back in the days after: Speak your mind. Say the truth. Accept every and any little thought you may have.

31. About rape. About sex. About your sexuality.

32. Oooh, but to put yourself and sex in the same sentence. It takes a long time to return to that place. Just a long enough time.

33. And when you get to that place, you know so much more about yourself.

34. And just how much of a right you have.

35. To say no.

36. And say no again.

37. And shout no to the world.

38. Until you are ready to say yes.

39. Not that rape is inspiring. Or glorious.

40. But you know, surviving can be just a beautiful thing!  

If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, please do reach out to your local authorities and support system for help. And never fear putting pen to paper to share the words you needed to hear!
You can find the wonderful edition drafted in collaboration with the editors of YourTango by clicking HERE. Please share this piece with those who need it, and carry forward with humor and care.

Mirissa D. Price is a nighttime blogger and sometimes poet on a mission to spread pain-free smiles. She offers tips for wellness and sprinkles of humor at mirissaprice.wordpress.com, and has publications in The Huffington Post, KevinMD, and more. Though a doctor once said she would live in a nursing home for life, confined to a wheelchair, crippled by pain, Mirissa instead chose to live passionately. Now, as a 2019 DMD candidate and a future pediatric dentist, Mirissa is, in every way, spreading pain-free smiles, writing through her nights, and, once again, walking through her days.

Stay up to date with Mirissa’s writing at mirissaprice.wordpress.com and be sure to follow @Mirissa_D_Price on Twitter and Facebook. You won’t want to miss what she says next!

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

This article was originally published on YourTango.

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