Courage with a Pen: Fighting Rape Culture with Writing


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By Shermeeka Mason

 

As I write this, my eyes burn with fatigue.

My body is tired, but my spirit and mind are alert, yet bothered by both past and recent events.

It all started earlier this week when I hung out with a friend of mine.  While we were talking, I found out that a local radical we both dated moderated a discussion about misogyny in the Rochester radical community.

Needless to say, I was floored and somewhat sickened by this piece of information.  The guy in question not only uses a well-known community space and political events to cruise for find potential sex partners, but uses poly and labels such as Pansexual and Demisexual as an excuse to sleep with them. In fact, he is one of the reasons why I don’t attend that space.

I knew this because he and I dated for three weeks.  He approached me after an organization meeting and I thought he was genuinely interested in me. I found out over the course of time, however, that he was more comfortable being a “friend with benefits” than my long-term partner.  This was AFTER I shared with him my history with sexual trauma.

Around the same time, pictures, news articles, and think pieces about Brock Turner continuously showed up in my newsfeed. Turner is the former Stanford University swimmer who was arrested and sentenced to six months in county jail for raping an unconscious young woman last year. I went through a plethora of emotions as his blank expression and blood shot eyes stared back at me time and again, burning into a mind already fogged by medication-induced insomnia.  His father’s letter and the judge’s leniency on the Turner further perplexed and angered me due to the gross lack of accountability.

In addition to all of this, a friend of mine spoke up against their rapist, a prominent Black radical in their community.  Though this young man violated them, it was my friend who was banned from Facebook for forty-eight hours for just posting a picture of their perpetrator!  What bothered me was that they were one of many who were sexually assaulted by an activist and/or pillar of the community.

So between this fact, the constant coverage of the Stanford rape case, learning of the hypocritical behavior of the so-called radical I dated last month, and the lack of adequate sleep, I broke down crying.  This recent chain of events pushed me back to Saturday, February 7, 2015 when I traveled to Peekskill, New York to visit Alec and Sharon, a poly couple I met online a year prior.  What was was supposed to be our last romantic weekend together turned out to be one of the most traumatizing.  This couple not only joked about me being dead, but crossed boundaries that involved Alec hitting my body with a crop and threatening to hit me in the face with it.  To this day, I can’t talk about that night without having panic attacks and flashbacks.

Without feeling ashamed.

The shame was one of the reasons why I remained silent about the assault in Peekskill for the most part. In fact, this was the reason why I kept quiet about how I was treated by the local activist I dated.  And I thought that just keeping quiet and going about my life, would let forget what happened.  Forget about all of them.

But I can’t.  My own PTSD won’t allow me to.  The flashbacks, panic attacks, and wave of emotions won’t let them get away with it—won’t grant me the desire to distance myself from the fact that I allowed myself to succumb to my self-blame and their gaslighting.

So as exhausted as I am, I write this passage because I’m mentally and emotionally done with seeing victims of sexual assault not believed by the media and judicial system.  Done with hearing stories about perpetrators in radical clothing lingering around within the community to somehow seek sexual gratification and then have the nerve to occupy spaces not created for them.  Done with domineering sexual perpetrators using the polyamorous lifestyle to traumatize others.

In other words, I am done with rape culture.

And I’m done shielding myself from it.  That’s why I have my pen, my laptop, and my books at my disposal—so these tools can be utilized to at least talk about what rape culture is doing to people and to our society.  I cannot and will not allow my perpetrators and ex-partners to frighten me or continue to get away with how they treated me and possibly others.  Writing is my way of holding them accountable for what they have done.  And if someone reads this and relates to it somehow, then my experiences served a purpose.

 

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What Separates Me from Normal: Surviving PTSD


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By Delaney McLemore

 

A four letter label is what separates me from normal: PTSD—Post-traumatic stress Disorder.

But it’s a misnomer if it’s anything – let’s break it down. Post – the past, something that has already happened. Traumatic – something that has caused trauma, significant damage, pain (be it mental or physical or both). Stress – that force in our lives that constantly makes us feel like what we have and are is not enough, not befitting of our believed possible life. Disorder – the state of being that is outside what is normal, what is accepted, what is right.

So I’m past something that hurt me that shouldn’t have happened and rearranged my life.

But that pesky past…

This week, every possible media outlet is sharing the aftermath of a rape case in southern California. The survivor’s letter that was read to the attacker has been an incessant feature of the news cycle. I have shared it. My friends are sharing it. We’re reading her story with a lump in our throats and our own attacker’s breath on our ears.

The first day I read the letter was the one-year anniversary of when I was last raped by a professor at Oregon State University. On June 4th, 2015, at four o’clock in the morning, I was forced awake by someone I trusted, whose couch I was trying to sleep on, by his hands taking mine in his own and placing them on his body. That part. In my mind, it is foggy, amorphous, blacked out by some force of my defense mechanisms. I wasn’t drunk or high, like the times it had happened before, but my mind isn’t able to clearly see him.

I see me.

And when I read about women like the woman in California, or like Terry Mitchell in Utah, or Larkin Grimm in New York (and on and on; there are hundreds of incredible, vocal survivors), I see myself. Again. Crouched in pain against his entry. Standing in his bathroom as his sperm slipped to the floor. Staring at the gun closet as he told me, “You have to, it’s never been this big.” I see my nurse between my legs, near tears as she measures the bruises on my back, thighs, pubic bone.

I can’t stop seeing this day.

Sometimes, I make it worse for myself, clicking on the articles about attackers willy-nilly, this one in Texas, this one Oklahoma, this one Oregon. The detective in my case suggests books about surviving and I focus on the parts where people tell their stories. They sound so much like mine.

I have an illness that keeps my mind in a place it hates to be, in the past where I cannot avoid the hurt that has been inflicted upon me over and over and over again. I cannot say how many men have raped me. That is a hideous truth. But every time I see something, anything, about sexual violence or rape culture or surviving, I am put back in that space, every time it happened to me. I remember my friend’s brother, pulling out his gun from his waistband. I see the ex-boyfriends who thought they were owed my form. I hear the closest people to me saying, “It’s not your fault.”

And it wasn’t. Just like the woman in the Stanford case. There is no part of this that falls on us. As much as the deluge of stories, think pieces, reports about her experience hurts me, puts me in the worst part of my illness, I know how powerful it is. I’m willing to be triggered for her, to help her. I’m willing to compromise the safety of my habits in order to share what has happened.

I’m mentally ill. It’s completely terrifying a huge part of the time. When I lose control to the dark of my memory, I feel like I am no longer myself, that something has fallen away. I fight the people I love, scream about justice, scream at God for what he failed to provide. And I don’t have the power to say when these moments will come and go, as I can’t control the world around me. I’ve tried. It’s not possible.

I will probably be fighting that dark for several years. There are small acts of self-preservation that I’ve learned how to do – leaving parties, drinking less, taking care of my apartment. I use the tapping method in order to calm panic attacks. I learn something about this illness every day.

What I learned through processing the Stanford case is that there are no limits to the depths of my rage. Anger is a power that I didn’t realize I had. I’ve spent so long ignoring how I felt or wallowing in the sadness that anger never had room to grow, only coming out in lashes towards those who still loved me. I couldn’t see how anger could help me survive.

The woman in Stanford has given me that anger back. And it’s not just to the men who raped me or Brock Turner, the man who raped her. I am furious with the way we have let this become our society. I am furious with the capitulations we have made to toxic masculinity. I am furious with the way that men are still able to rule our lives, to be more powerful and worth more than we are.

Brock Turner is made to be. My rapist was made to be. So was the first that attacked me.

This cannot be the way we go forward.

I think back to the definition of my illness, a point past a bad thing where life cannot be ever what it was. It’s simplified, of course, but it demonstrates so well the way that life after violence is lived. I can’t go back to who I was before these men hurt me.

But I can go forward.

And I will fight.

My Experience with Bi-Polar and Dissociative Identity Disorder


 

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By Marci Redmond

 

My name is Marci and I’m participating in your blog because I’m sure there are others in the LGBT community who have partners or spouses who have mental disorders and I want to speak on my experience.

My fiancé Jasmine and I have been together almost 7 years and plan to get married next year.  She has also been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D). I’m not going too much into detail because then I would have a book. But I will say it hasn’t been easy for either of us. She used to have extreme mood swings where she would be very quiet, very talkative, very silly or very angry and it was hard to gauge who I was with sometimes.

When she was diagnosed, we were able to understand the mood swings better and I was able to tell when she was experiencing a change and act accordingly. Jasmine has alters because of DID so I had to learn when there was a change in personalities coming, the characters of the personalities, how to interact with them as individuals, and when there was a manic episode coming because of the BPD.

Being with someone with Mental Disorders is not easy.  It takes patience, understanding, love and compassion. You have to want to be with the person who suffers because you have to deal with the relationship and the disorder at the same time.  The road has been bumpy because Bi-Polar Disorder and D.I.D are misdiagnosed and often the proper medications are not given, which adds to the problem.

Both Jasmine and I are now advocates for people with BPD and DID and I support her in everything that she does. I hope this can help someone who has a partner or is dealing with a mental disorder. If there’s anyone who would like to reach out to me and talk more my number will be at the bottom.

Thank you for your listening,

 

Marci Redmond

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Watching the News with Spirit: A Tribute to Flora Lawrence


“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”

—Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher

It’s Monday and already I wish the entire week to be over with.

I’m having a slight depressive episode because I will most likely have to find a job because being an author isn’t paying me yet and I’m going to be 35 tomorrow.

But what affects me the most the anniversary of my grandmother’s death.  My grandmother, Flora Lawrence, passed away in the St. John’s Hospice on May 25, 2004—the day after my birthday. She was 100.  The moment she left this Earth is the day I lost one of the most important people in my life.  I have grown up believing her to be immortal—that she and I will be in each other’s lives until the days I myself would draw my last breath.  So her passing has shocked me and, even after all these years, I’ve not fully recovered.

I don’t think anyone would quite honestly.

Since then, though, my birthday has not felt the same to me. In fact, I don’t know how to feel about it, so I do what everyone else does.  On one hand, I’m alive another year and hope to make the best of it. But on the other, I’m here without my grandmother and she has been one of the most important people in my life.  I try to normalize it with a small dinner party and a possible movie, but I often feel strange doing it to a certain extent simply because she isn’t here.

That and the fact that the family dynamics associated with my grandmother’s hospice stay has yet to be resolved. I’m not going to go into detail about everything that has occurred prior to her passing, but for years I’ve felt as if my grandmother’s memory has been dishonored due to unresolved generational trauma.

As depressed as I am right now as I write this, Readers, I want to do everything I can to remember my grandmother the way I’ve always seen her: the only adult in my family who has accepted me as I am—flare jeans and all.  When alive, she has seen someone who has hurt, has been hurt, but also a kid who has tried.  She has seen a granddaughter exercising to Taebo tapes in hopes to shred unwanted pounds to catch the eyes of superficial men.  She has seen me cry tears of depression and uncage bouts of laughter so loud that the boom of my voice sometimes startles her.

I recall her wanting to watch the six o’clock news in peace, but never could because Joyce and I would talk through the reporting.  I’ve seen her drink a can of her favorite beer while watching TV, lounging in her recliner—the one she also slept in—before she drifts off to dream.  I watch her listen to her police scanner because she always wants to know what is going on in Springfield, IL, in the city she has been born and raised in.  I remember the storyteller, the one who has told me about the extensive kitchen work that would eventually cause her fingers to stiffen with arthritis.

I remember the helpings of Bisquick pancakes, Malt-O-Meal and me wondering why I can never make it the way Grandma does.  To this day, no one can make it creamy like she could.  No one can make me feel the way she did when she said she loved me every night before I disappeared into my room to sleep.

Though she left the Earth plane, I know my grandmother is always with me in spirit.  I feel and see with my mind’s eye on a regular basis as she is one of my many spirit guides.  Granted, she has been nowhere near perfect, but I feel that she deserves the respect and honor for giving so much of herself to be of service to others—including the foster children she has raised and the grandchildren who still love her.  Writing this passage is my way of doing so.

Thank you for reading.

 

Love Has Everything to Do with It


I just want to say to women, ‘Be yourself – it’s the inner beauty that counts. You are your own best friend, the key to your own happiness, and as soon as you understand that – and it takes a few heartbreaks – you can be happy.’

–Cherie Lunghi, actress

 

I’ve been trying to find love for as long as I can remember.

In fact, I’ve been searching since the first grade.  I recall a boy in my class named Jeremy blowing kisses at me and giving me pet names like “baby” while I giggle innocently.  The excitement and honor of being someone’s beloved is exhilarating for a seven-year-old kid, given the fact that my parents don’t know about my boyfriend.

Fast forward to my adulthood.  That giddy feeling associated with having a love interest has never gone away.  I still get swept up in the electric intensity that comes with new relationship energy.  When I’m with that person, I think about them, their feel of their hand against my skin, the exhilaration that rushes through my body when their lips touch mine as they smear my lipstick.  The way we exchange glances as if we’re the only two people in the room.

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I love every moment of these encounters, yet hate them at the same time.  As much as I enjoy the chemistry I experience when me and the potential partner are near each other, I know that it will dissipate as quickly as it has started.  Because once the brain settles and the dopamine decreases, reality sets in and I realize that the person I’ve fallen for is a mass illusion.  And I tend to keep it going by becoming some sort of chameleon, molding myself into anything my crush is into at the time—or try to anyway.  Regardless of my discomfort, I would just follow their lead in hopes of getting companionship.

An example of this is me trying my hands at “being poly.”  I would date poly people—usually someone with a primary partner—and pose as a complacent, open-minded secondary.  I’d tell my potentials that I’m willing to work around their time schedule and that of their partner’s.  That I’m ok with seeing them once or twice a week and that it’s perfectly fine with them having partners outside of the relationship even though we’re dating.

The truth, though, is that I don’t even have the patience or mindset to be a secondary partner.  If I’m going to be honest with myself, I am a very much a monogamous woman. By the end of the day, I don’t even see myself with multiple people (when in a romantic relationship with a poly person, they are the ONLY one I’m intimate with).  Despite knowing this fact, I would continue to play this role in hopes that I would get a relationship out of it.  Friends worry about me, telling me that it may not be the best idea to date poly men, but I brush it off and assure them that I’m perfectly ok with participating in this soon-to-be dysfunctional arrangement.

Alas, the typical result is my continuously falling for and chasing after the emotionally unattached poly nerdy guy who would rather dip their entire selves into the pool of poly fuckery than establish an actual relationship with me.  What’s worse is that I’ve become attached to them within moments of them telling me that I shouldn’t have expectations.  Because the feelings are intense on my end still, I do and say whatever I need to in order make them stay. When I don’t get my way, I personalize it, thinking I’ve done something wrong.  Or become envious of the person who has the same type of relationship I desire to have.  Or depressed to the point of having suicide ideations.

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Depression.  Art by Paul Vice Juhlin

This has happened a few times and the situation begins the same: I develop an instant crush on someone who spend their time with me, tell me what I want to hear, imagine myself being with them even if they’re poly. The raw intensity quickly fades on their end when I express that I will ultimately want more, but continues for me.  My stomach is tied in knots as I cry about them not wanting me until a friend acts as a voice of reason, making me snap out of it.

Repeat.

I don’t even know how any of this nonsense started.  I DO acknowledge that this behavior is one of the many reasons why I’ve been single all these years.  I would drag myself to death hanging on to failing partnerships in attempts to make it work. And it hurts because I feel that I’m a loving and very honorable human being—the type who would give my partner the world—and I don’t understand why the poly men have never wanted to take me up on my offer.

At least that’s the story I’ve told myself.

But it’s ultimately not about them but about how I view myself.  I don’t feel…I just want to be seen as a person of worth in the eyes of whomever I’m spending my time with.  Time.  That’s what this whole mess is about honestly: someone’s time and competing for it.  As a child, I would compete with my father’s partners or his need to leave or my mother’s God or her partners. I’d fight as hard as I could, but I’d ALWAYS lose and wonder what else I had to do to make my parents see me. This is no different from me getting involved with emotionally unavailable poly people and swingers.  I have often felt that I was competing for time and affection with the other sexual partners, but walking away depressed after losing yet another battle that reaffirms the false belief that I’m not worth the time, effort, and trust needed to build a successful long term relationship.  These other people are lovable and trustworthly, but I’m not.

I want to shake this feeling of not being good enough as much as I can and as quickly as possible.  Not only do I want to enter a romantic relationship without having unrealistic expectations, but because I’m so tired of this internal struggle to gain self-esteem and conformations from those who aren’t trying to establish a life with me.

Please note, Readers, that I’ve nothing against the poly lifestyle itself, as I’m just speaking from my angle.  I know poly couples personally and it works for them because they are wired to live that way.  I, on the other hand, have never felt authentic every time I’ve attempted it and find that my experiences with poly have been completely shitty because I’ve settled for less than what I deserved in order to feel loved.  But the lifestyle is not the issue, but what it represents for me:  the decade long competition to be deemed worthy.

One that I have to walk away and heal from in order to become truly happy.

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Walking Away.  Art by  Vampire-Zombie

 

Life Without Regrets


“Each of us is merely a small instrument; all of us, after accomplishing our mission, will disappear.” 

–Mother Teresa, humanitarian

 

This has been an extremely trying week.

On Wednesday, April 20, Joan Marie Laurer—also known the legendary female wrestler Chyna—has been found dead in her home. When a friend of mine announces her death on Facebook, I don’t even believe him initially.  In fact, we argue online until TMZ.com release a report confirming her death.

If that hasn’t been tragic enough, the iconic musician Prince has passed away in his studio in Minnesota the very next day.  According to the media, he has canceled two concerts due to being ill and is hospitalized for a medication over dose.  Those who spoke with him prior to his death state that he seems fine, so the news shocks his neighbors and depressed the entire world.

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Unlike many of the celebrities who have left us earlier this year, Chyna and Prince are considered relatively young by today’s standards (the former was 45 while the latter was 57). Both seemed somewhat healthy despite taking medication and have been active up to their last days.  On the flipside, both have been struggling with substance abuse issues that may have contributed to their deaths.

Regardless of how they occurred, these recent deaths now have me ruminating on mortality and my own life in general.  Due to my beliefs in past lives and reincarnation, I do not believe that we simply disappear after we leave the Earth plane. I believe that our spirits move on to either become our spirit guides or to live another life to learn additional lessons.  But our physical bodies and people’s memories of us will remain here on Earth as well as our contributions to the world—whatever that may be.

I will be lying if I told you that I don’t wonder whether my last days are approaching sooner than I hope.  Like any person, I could never view myself as a person who would die, putting myself in situations that make absolutely no fucking sense because I somehow knew that I have been destined to make it out in piece. I would even go so far as to believe that if I were to die, I would do so by my own hands (these thoughts would come at the height of my depression, which I haven’t felt these days).

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But I will thirty-five this year and, though I don’t fear death for the most part, I also understand that I (or someone I know) can die at any moment.  With this in mind, I ask myself this question:  if I am to leave this world today, what type of life do I wish to leave behind?  Or what type of woman do I wish to become while I’m living and breathing?  What will be my legacy in the here and now and what can I do to make the best of the life I have now?

I’m not referring to being remembered in terms of fame and fortune (though that would be awesome).  But what can I do to make a life so epic in my own eyes that on my deathbed I can look back, smile, and think “Now that was dope ass shit right there.”

To tell you the truth, Reader, I’m halfway there:  I have published my own political sci-fi novel, The One Taken from the Sea of Stars, host a radio show called The Bonfire Talks every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. on WAYO 104.3 FM, write two blogs, and I’m now starting to see the fruits of my labor as far as getting my name out there. These are causes I could not even see myself making due to my lack of confidence. However, I know I’m not done yet and have so much to do as far as my personal and spiritual work.  This is one of the reasons why I’m seeing a therapist and stepping up my Nichiren Buddhist practice.

Since I’ve begun doing The Work, I am able to look at why I am the way I am thus far.  Why I have been struggling with mental illness for as long as I have.  There have been various reasons, but for as long as I can remember, I have either shied away from my true power or have hidden it away so that others could bask in the glow of theirs. I’ve wasted time and energy trying to save others, doing for others while running on empty mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I’ve given people my body and allowed them to chip away parts of my spirit.

And there have been times that I have harmed someone in order to get the validation that I am enough.  In other words, I have depleted uber amounts of time—most of the time unnecessarily.

So when I read about the deaths of both Chyna and Prince, I not only think about their contributions to this world, but the energy and time they’ve spent being themselves.  Which is something I’ve always wanted to do just so I can experience life beyond trauma and mental illness. Therefore, I’m making a personal pact with myself:  from this day forward, I will work to step into the glow of my own power and do everything I can to create and live the quality of life I envision for myself.  I will no longer hide my talents but mold and shape them for the sake of being better.

Regardless of my spiritual beliefs, I will make certain that this life is not a wasted one.  I know in my spirit that I am not meant to live a life full of regrets or mourning over my past or erroneous decisions.  I am meant to be happy and to experience the life I imagine myself having.

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It’s Not Worth It: Not Caring About What Others Think


Not caring about what other people think is the best choice you will ever make.

–unknown

 

For years, I’ve carried the burden of caring what others thought of me.

Caring causes me to compare myself and my very existence to my more successful friends, reading their statuses on Facebook and wonder why I seriously haven’t gotten it together enough to obtain stability.  I even suspect that people whom I have known since my earlier days in Rochester are now giving me the side eye because I’ve decided not to work and focus on me and my mental health issues.

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In terms of intelligence, I know that certain people I have friended during my graduate studies no longer talk to me on the regular—possibly because they feel I cannot hold a conversation. I find this to be unfortunate because I don’t have any other people of color to talk to about the issues of racism that affect me daily.

I often feel like I’m walking on eggshells around others because I don’t want to have that conversation about my career goals or personal feelings, fearing judgement if I share my true thoughts (If I seem standoffish and quiet, that’s one of the reasons why).  This fear of judgement also plays into my fears of failure and being forgotten, which is another blog entry altogether.

After receiving a rejection letter from a prominent publishing house, I have reached out to my friend, Pam.  I have met her two years ago when I was writing Star Trek fan fiction and she and I have been friends ever since.  After sending her private messages about how I am not the person I imagine myself to be, she calls me later on in the evening to see how I am doing.

“Pam, I feel that people are judging me because I decided not to work in order to work on my mental health issues.  I even had a friend unfriend me on Facebook for whatever rea—“

She stops me midsentence.  “Who are these people you keep talking about?  Man, fuck these people.  You have to do what’s right for you.  You can’t give a fuck about what other people think and if they are going to unfriend you because of your mental illness, then they were never your friend to begin with.”

After hearing those words, I sit quietly on my bed and wonder why I care so much about what others think of me to begin with.  The truth is that I hate losing friends as it’s actually hard for me to keep them for whatever reason.  In fact, the fear of losing someone bothers me more than anything else—especially if I cherish them dearly. But would feel even worse about myself when they stop rocking with me if they deem me a damn failure. This is the reason why I would often bust my ass in school, at home, at work hoping for a positive outcome.

But in terms of failure, by who standards am I measuring my success?  My overall significance?  The more I think about these questions, the more I come to the conclusion that I’ve been listening to people—family and professionals alike—who either haven’t recognized my efforts or haven’t been aware of the issues I have been pushing aside.  Either way, I am hurting myself trying to impress them so they will be proud of me because I’m fighting for their love and approval.

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To gain the admiration of many, I have placed my mental health on the back burner in order to function in school and life.  I have placed my own trauma on hold to get involved in radical politics. Concerned friends have advised me to care for myself, but I have not listened because—in my mind—I still need to prove that I’m not the lost cause “most people” have written me off to be.  But I realize that actively ignoring my struggles (even though I experienced flashbacks and panic attacks on the low) has caused me more harm than good.  Caring about what other people think and attempting to mold myself into their image not only contributed to my depression, anxiety and PTSD but my suicidal ideations.  Wanting unconditional love and approval is one of the reasons why I would stay in toxic relationships to the point of being sexually and physically assaulted.

It has taken talking to my friend Pam and reflecting on my negative thinking logically to finally see people’s opinions of me for what they are—their fucking problem.  I don’t have to have the fancy job, the man, car, house or the big name in the political scene. What’s more important to ME is my overall sanity and happiness.  I deserve that.  I desire that and there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from the workforce or volunteer work to become healthy.  If people don’t understand that, that’s on them—not me.  And don’t you know that by not giving a fuck for the time being has actually alleviated my depressive episodes?  For the past few hours, I’ve felt like a beast, y’all!

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By the end of the day, this life—my life—is about giving myself the opportunity to heal from all that’s happened to me so I can be a whole.  Granted, I still want to be successful and even memorable. But I’m no longer willing to break my own spirit to gain the world’s approval.

It’s not worth it.