a lighthearted look at traumatic abuse and its aftermath

big fat trauma queen

big fat trauma queen
Undercover in the Bay Area, California, U.S.A.
November 08
Defying Gravity
I, like millions of others, am a refugee from some fairly gruesome childhood happenings. I entered adulthood as a selectively mute, unwashed, suicidal, friendless, uneducated, delusional, and sick-fat (as opposed to healthy-fat) young woman. I have been homeless in the Tenderloin (I am prouder of that than I am of my master's degree), and I have spent years in self-imposed solitary confinement. No more. I have morphed over the years into an irritatingly chipper and hyper-friendly Trauma Queen. If you're having a bad day, don't even look at me; my happy little face will just piss you off. This blog is dedicated to all the other Trauma Queens and Kings out there - we of the shrunken hippocampus and the hair-trigger amygdala. We who, in D.H. Lawrence's words, have "passed through the waters of oblivion." But let's not just pass through. Let's make a TSUNAMI...


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MARCH 30, 2010 3:51PM

It Takes A Lot Of Guts To Be An Idiot

Rate: 71 Flag

"No wonder there are so many pedophiles in the world."

This was my friend's response to the  little girl in the booth behind us, who was giggling and bouncing on her seat while I played peek-a-boo with her.

"What?" I asked. I felt as if she'd thrown her ice tea in my face.

"People should teach their kids not to be so trusting. Look at her." 

The little girl had squiggled out of her booth and was running up the aisle toward the rest rooms. Her mother held a baby in her lap, so her grandma got up to chase her. 

"Anybody could grab that kid and be out the door in a heart beat."

According to my friend, Applebee's was crawling with child-abducting fiends,  licking their lips, rubbing their hands, and on high-alert for the chance to pounce on any child who strayed from her mother's lap.

Now, of the two of us, I'm the only one who has actually lived at the mercy of a pedophile. (My childhood was a lot like the movie "Precious," but with better grammar and a front lawn). By her own admission, my friend has never been sexually abused, or assaulted in any way, in her entire life.

But she does watch a lot of television.

Her senses are bombarded on a daily basis by a rushing rapids  of glamourized sociopaths, soulless sex, and casual acts of sadism. 

My childhood was characterized (in part) by chronic  sexual abuse and attempted murder. (It was also punctuated with magical Christmases, happy birthdays, adorable little brothers, best friends, precious pets, and a ton of really really good books).

I was abandoned, betrayed, and violated by those who had an obligation to cherish and protect me. And I am ridiculously optimistic.

Unlike my friend, I don't believe there are "so many" pedophiles in the world. There are obviously too many (one would be too many) but the vast majority of human beings are not pedophiles. Not even close.

 I'll tell you what I really think of us humans: I think as a whole  we are kind, loving, generous, and compassionate. And I think that we, as a species, are becoming more loving every  day.

I've been told I sound like an idiot when I express that belief. But I'll tell you what: I'd rather be an idiot than a coward.

My friend is a coward. All cynics are cowards. And they have very little tolerance for hope. 

But why? What's so scary about something as sweet as hope?

Two words: responsibility and risk.

With hope comes the responsibility to help makes things better - for yourself and for the people around you. And by extension, for the world.

And there is  tremendous risk involved in taking action based on hope. Such actions may lead to getting hurt, criticized, or disappointed.Why bother, when it's so much safer to sit at home, behind double-locked doors, throwing snark-darts at the world? (I do not mean to confuse snarkiness with cynicism - there are plenty of snarky idealists out there and I adore them).

It isn't hate that threatens us, because there really isn't that much hatred in the world. Look around you right now (don't look at the television, actually look around the room that you're in). Do you see hatred around you, or do you see love?

Yep. That's what I thought. Love. Photos of loved ones, gifts from loved ones, your dog, your cat, your children, your plants - we are surrounded by love. Not hate.

Love is normal. But, tragically, so is fear.

People cringe beneath the grubby blanket of cynicism when they're feeling small and afraid. I've seen it. I've been the victim of it. And I've made a vow to never let that blanket smother my own heart.

The cynics' creed is, "Life sucks, people suck, the world is getting worse, and there's nothing we can do about it."

How convenient is that? Cynicism is a one-way ticket out of any responsibility for one's own life or the lives of those with which we share the planet. And, oddly enough, it seems to be adopted most often by people who have never suffered any great loss or trauma.

Immaculee Ilibagiza had her whole family hacked to death by machetes in the Rwandan genocide. She huddled silently in a cramped bathroom with seven other women for 3 months, often a mere breath away from discovery and certain slaughter.  She emerged from that bathroom at 5ft 9inches weighing 65 pounds, her family and a million of her fellow Tutsi's chopped into pieces. 

She wrote a book called "Left To Tell," which promotes the belief in essential human goodness and the possiblity of creating a peaceful world. She has devoted her life to spreading that message.

Somaly Mam was born into extreme poverty in the country of Cambodia. As a child she was sold into sexual slavery and forced to work in a brothel along with other children and young women. She was tortured and raped on a daily basis, and was forced to watch the vicious murder of her best friend as a means of keeping her compliant.

Miraculously, Somaly escaped the hell of sexual slavery. And she emerged from this hell determined to free other enslaved women and children. She started the Somaly Mam foundation, which has rescued thousands of women and children from sexual slavery and helped them to rebuild their lives. Somaly is determined to end the crime of sexual slavery worldwide.

There are countless other examples of people who've lost everything but their hope and idealism.  They are the brave ones, the strong ones, the ones responsible for protecting and promoting the good in our world.

And despite what you see on the 24 hour news channels, the good in the world is overcoming the bad:


* Didja know that, in our country,  the odds of a girl or woman  being raped  has been falling dramatically for decades.   In the last 12 years, the sexual victimization rates among girls ages 12 to 19 fell by 78% and among women ages 20 to 24 by 70%, nearly double the drop among women older than 25.

* The murder rate in the United States has dropped by over 50% since 1991.   [

  * "...between 1989 and 2005 the number of campaigns of mass killing of civilians decreased by 90 percent." 

* The number of battle deaths in interstate wars has dropped from more than 65,000 per year in the 1950s to less than 5,000 per year in this decade.

And you know what's really sad? Cynics tend to be outraged by statistics like these. They don't want anybody pulling off their blanket.

What we allegedly corrupt post-technological people are discovering is that the "noble savage" was more savage than noble (and by "savage" I mean the genteel White Americans in the 1800's who openly and legally bought and sold their fellow human beings. Back then, we didn't have computers, we didn't have cell phones, we didn't have internet porn, we didn't have bottled water, we didn't have global warming - and we were BRUTAL.)

Hope creates energy, and cynicism sucks it away. We need energy to continue moving forward as a species. You think human beings are basically corrupt? Speak for yourself. And please, stop pissing on the world's birthday cake. Crawl out from under your blanket and help us idiots create a world worth celebrating.

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I wish I lived next door to you
What a great post, and I am so glad you are not jaded. I thing 9 out of 10 people are basically good people. But of course, the news is always going to focus on the bad. There isn't any money in spreading the good news!
If I could make you a double-favorite, I would. Your post is a breath of fresh air. I always tell my wife, as she watches her shows, that there are more serious crimes committed in a week of TV than in my actual county. Some blue-eyed blonde-haired girl gets abducted 3000 miles away and suddenly the world sounds like a prison yard. Thanks for seeing the world with clear eyes and telling us about it. (When are you going to write a book about your life?)
I love idiots like you. :)
I agree with your assessment of humans and I'm usually quite hopeful myself. And you're right, when I am feeling more hopeful I am much more productive in the world, and in my work with girls. I do have to dispute the first statistic (from the la times) but overall you're absolutely right, we humans are becoming less and less brutal to each other over time, and its good to keep that in mind. You have the best kind of optimism--it's not blind, but willful & strong.
You are a queen, indeed. xo
excellent post, and as Scanner said 9 out of 10 are basically, good. Its that one weirdo that wrecks it all and that's what we see one the news.
Those are not cynics. They are bitter, angry, ignorant creatures that find refuge in extreme PCness. They justify their existence by telling others how to live, dress, talk and even raise children. They are always at war against someone or something; they live in hell on earth, you'll never catch them smiling.

Excellent piece, well done, rated.
Rated. You are a good writer & I admire your attitude. I agree with what you say and believe that hope is justified, and we're not all that bad. We just need the visionaries (like the ones you cited, and others) to inspire/incite us into doing good. And why is it, as you note, that self-appointed experts in cynicism are always the ones with no actual experience? Having said that, I always find a good mope to be quite therapeutic. Spending a month despondent because the globe is going to warm up by 4 degrees and there's nothing I can about it is ok, as long as I dust myself off, get out of the mope, and focus on making sure it's only 4 degrees and not 10.
Maybe your friend was having a bad day? Can you lead her into hope?
Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

I think I am an idiot like you. Perhaps we are even sisters. Rated.
your happy little face would not piss me off but it might make me want to kiss you, for your hopefullness and love.
brave woman! I applaud you and thanks for writing about this.
Yes! Thank you for saying this so well. I have this discussion almost weekly with somebody who wants to protect children from imagined lurking dangers, and instead restricts their freedom. The percentage of crazies on this planet has not increased. Let's all have fun.
I agree with you 100% about hope versus cynicism. There ought to be more positive feelings in this world...
However....I was not crazy about hearing about the child running up the aisle of Applebee's unescorted. She could have tripped a server or another patron.
Just my opinion.
Great thoughtful post.
Yes, exactly! The key word is responsibility -- and that always comes with Hope and anything better... And we can always tell who has character forged in fire, so to speak. The greatest strengths come from the greatest outrages, often.
Excellent post and well spoken. You can teach your child to have manners, respect, to behave in public, be careful of strangers. You can try to do everything perfect, drive yourself insane by doing so. So all you can do is do the best you can.
Talking to a stranger sitting in the booth next to yours, I see nothing wrong with that at all. I do it all the time, and try to teach the child how to make funny faces. But to go up to a stranger when the parent is not around, and or running around in the stores, or aisles of a restaurant, could not only get them grabbed up, but it can also get them injured by the people who are working there.
Great post..
Gods, I'm so sick of the "the world is so dangerous" BULLSHIT. People are mind fucking their kids to FEAR everything and its disgusting.

Well, sadly I disagree a little in that I think too many people are satisfied with maybe not being evil, and not enough strive for bravery, true decency etc.
But, otherwise i think your take on life and on our current culture of fear and hysteria is very right on and downright revolutionary. Things have become insane - and your voice of reason ,after your own agonizing experiences, is a profound one.
stay safe, penster.
I want to live next door to you too. I've always told my students that joy takes great courage. Awesome post. r.
Greetings soul-sis. Eloquently expressed, as usual. This should be on the cover. Rated.
Wow, 3 months in a bathroom.
How many times can you read the same Readers Digest?

Count me in~ I love this post. Wonderful message...
An excellent post - AGAIN! God save us from the angry few who are hell bent on screeching their terrible sadness and pain cleverly disguised in PC-appearing, polarizing despair. Most folks are essentially decent. Thanks for saying these things so well! ~r!!!
"Hope creates energy and cynicism sucks it away" -- love that thought and oh how accurate it is. Sometimes it's hard to not be afraid but it sure makes life harder for you and everyone around you. Loved this post. Thank you.
You are remarkable.....I know people exactly like your friend and as a parent don't want my children to grow in fear and miss the beauty of other people....I love the way you express yourself...thanksss...wish I could rate this one several times....R
I wish I could be around someone like you are such an amazing, positive human being. R
The cynics' creed is, "Life sucks, people suck, the world is getting worse, and there's nothing we can do about it."

Thank you. A little less of this "cringe(ing) beneath the grubby blanket of cynicism" on OS and we'd all be better off.
As I am very fond of saying, Cynicism is the sophomoric solution.
Count me in as another idiot. Beautiful and excellent post. And you make your point well. You have every right in the world to be cynical and mistrusting. How you survived the ordeals of your childhood only to emerge with an open and trusting heart is astounding, and it speaks to exactly what you are talking about. Loved this.
I kind of straddle both beliefs. The world is dangerous, and prone to random acts of cruelty and violence. Life experience has taught me that.

On the other hand, despite my melancholy, I am an optimist and idealist at heart. I NEED to believe, because if I don't, then circumstance becomes intolerable for me.

I don't like the thought of being blinded by either cynicism or hopefulness, so I try to be cautiausly optimistic. I believe in good, and in change. I work for it and I see it every day and I will almost always err on the side of trust., because I've got a fairly good intuition that knows now when it needs to be wary and afraid.

I don't know about the stats. You can crunch numbers and make them dance whatever tune you like. Numbers are dangerous, because they can lead you into a false sense of fear or security. I don't have faith in numbers. But I do have faith in the fact, that although a good many people are still brutal, a good many will also make the best, and the highest choices.

And I know also, that for 9 years my great-uncle was imprisoned in solitary confinment and then in a brutal prison on a rock in the sea called Bare Island, put there for disagreeing with the state's industrialisation program and that while there being beaten, starved and isolated he wrote a book called 'Joy'
Rousing, Emersonian, uplifting––great post!
I particularly like the juxtaposition of the little girl running around joyously to the dire words of your friend. O pit of the stomach dread, how cheap a shot to strike terror and scare mothers exactly where they can't bear it–– if they are heroic mothers like yourself!
Well said and Rated.
Just another reason why I love you. I am having such a hard time finding my footing on this slope. I am so afraid for my daughter but I don't want her to live in fear. This is a wonderful reminder for me about the goodness and hope in the world. Thank you.
Hear hear! Great post. Thank you.
Well! What a delightful surprise you are! I just love the verve you bring to our group. I, too, suffered the horrifying consequences of much child abuse, yet it was always connected with my family. Astonishingly, while I do cower in fear at times, the moment I hear of any social injustice to others, I tend to rouse the fires of indignation and begin to find ways to replace fear (yours, mine, anybody's) with better thinking.
I think we have gotten away from the point by over-saturating ourselves on meaningless acted-out scenarios of violence via TV and movies. What really counts is our ability to interact with others daily. And that we cannot do via the media. And I mean IN PERSON here. I try and tend a garden the fruits of which are gentleness by staying clear of the media altogether. And I notice my heart to be more at ease.
You illustrate for me the very reason why I get out of bed in the morning. It is good to be glad, and better to find ways through our present difficulty.
The question you help us all raise here to one another is:
What am I able to offer the world before I am ready to pass on?
Wow! you are just terrific. Like Cranky, I wish I could double-favorite you too. -R- for relevantly sane
Excellent post, I am right there with you! But, had I not faced the ugly demons of my past, I never would have made it to that level of clarity and understanding that you explain so well.
I think I'm a skeptic, not a cynic, or maybe a snarky idealist. I like what you said, it's a nice balance between the cynics and "The Secret". And it has inspired me to be more hopeful.
I agree, one pedophile is one pedophile too many, but you're right, the vast majority of the population is just regular people living regular lives trying to do the best that they can. This was a great post, I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for this breath of fresh air!

Oh, and I just have to tell you, I know the context of the whole sentence was actually very sad, but your turn of phrase totally cracked me up: "My childhood was a lot like the movie "Precious," but with better grammar and a front lawn." {r!}
Gosh. You know I love this, but it really touches a chord. I vacillate so frequently between this idea of the human race in general being inherently good vs. inherently evil and what that means as far as an everyday, personal philosophy. I generally stay away from the television, but I read enough to know that people are capable of doing unspeakable things to each other -- I mean, don't you sort of find the very fact that these amazing people who have become crusaders for social justice have had to suffer such inhumanity themselves as sort of sick and twisted all on its own? It's wonderful that they could take that degree of evil and turn it into something good for the world -- truly. But I also know that there are people who, in their victimization, have had their lives permanently destroyed in a sense. When I read what you say, this is like the counterweight pulling me in the opposite direction. I don't think this is necessarily being cynical. It just feels like its being honest.

I'm not saying we should all live paranoid lives, all closeted from each other in fear of the boogeyman popping out of every corner. I get what you're saying. But if you're speaking from a philosophical point of view, or even a spiritual one, I think its about more than just being either a coward or an idiot. There are a lot of in-betweens.

Thanks for the post. It really gave me lots to think about.
Thanks for posting this . It is excellent. A lot of people only want to focus on the bad things that can happen but there is still so much goodness in the world.
So very very true! We have made ourselves a nation of victims. We look at every stranger, with fear and mistrust. Thank God there are people like you!
Like you, I suffered from a pretty awful childhood where I was raped, beaten, sexually-molested several times and almost killed. And yet, I see so much beauty in the world at times, my heart swells up with joy at the thought. I am not as cynical as people think I should be.

I don't want to live in a cynical world, but we don't have a choice. That's why its important to support people and their dreams instead of killing them with our negative attitudes. If you come from a place of YES, you will find more yes's coming to you.

Great post!
All spectacular, but "And there is tremendous risk involved in taking action based on hope." = my favorite line. so true.
I just finished reading a newsweek post about why Americans are so scared to let their kids do anything, and what impact this has on kids...

What you say is so true; I live in a third world country, and even though I am American, I don't have time to worry about all that stuff when I have to worry about having enough to eat and being able to pay my electric bill...
My brain is mush after reading for hours. You have inspired me. Perhaps sleep and eye rest will help me formulate a coherent response. I would like to link this awesome post to my FB. Not sure if I can do that but I sure will share this with others one way or another.