Posted in Uncategorized

Freedom from Shame

For years I have wondered if I even had the courage or strength to write this. It has been a heavy burden on me, filled with doubt and anxiety—should I dare? Would anyone listen? Would anyone care? What makes me so special? These, and many more, doubts and fears have plagued me. So I kept silent, not knowing that part of me was withering away and tending to a festering wound that was slowing killing me.

I say now with complete confidence: Time is up.

I now have the strength to say that Wayne Heflin, a science and Bible teacher at Holly Grove Christian School, sexually abused me over the course of a summer, five months after my mother died in 2001.

It disgusts me to say, see, and type his name, however, he must be revealed for the monster that he is. For seventeen years I kept silent, only telling those closest to me and various therapists and psychiatrists. I’m shaking as I type this now, but I physically and emotionally cannot stay silent anymore. I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable, or angry, or if you think I’m lying—this is my story and you have no say in it.

I will first start off by addressing the abuser.

Wayne Heflin,

Do you have any idea what you have done to me? No, and likely you are denying it. You have made it almost impossible for me to have a normal relationship, you have caused me to look over my shoulder in bars or restaurants, I cannot stand in line at Starbucks or a grocery store when there is a man in front and a man behind me—I have to get out of line. I have flashbacks of all the times you touched me, whispered in my ear, and then had the audacity to pray for me. You have made it impossible for me to ever trust any member of a church.

How many others have you done this to? How many little girls have you violated?

You took advantage of my grief and confusion over losing my mother, you manipulated me into thinking that you were a force of comfort and grace. In reality, you were a predator sizing up your prey, waiting for the right opportunity to strike. I cannot go to that park in Pocomoke, your essence still resides there, your voice echoes in the trees and in the water. That was your plan, right? To take me to desolate areas so that nobody would know that you’re actually grooming me? Deny it all you want, lie to everyone, I know what happened and you will not silence me anymore. You have lost your power over me, your grasp on me has ended. I heard recently that little girls don’t stay little forever, that they turn into strong women who come back and destroy your world. Now I am a goddess, a world eater, and you are nothing—a small, insignificant man who’s only power was to manipulate and take advantage of little girls—no more.

I know I will not get the justice I deserve: to see you rot in prison and pay for your crimes. This is something I will have to endure, however, I will not endure it silently anymore. I will take away your power, and I will crush your reputation. You do not deserve to wear the banner of “Christian” or “man of God,” I will strangle you with that banner, and make sure that the world knows what kind of vile, repulsive man you are.

Now I will address the institution that enabled this predator.

Holly Grove “Christian” School,

It has been seventeen years since this incident, you have probably changed—last I heard you were accredited or something. If you are seeking congratulations from me, don’t hold your breath. To me, you will always be a cesspool of lies and deceit.

I was fourteen years old when this transpired, now I am thirty and I am much more capable of standing up for myself—and I intend to do just that. People are wondering “What did the school have anything to do with it?” My reply is quite a bit.

I came to you in hopes that you, a Christian institution, would stand up for me, and hand this predator over to the authorities. You did not. Instead, you warned him about what was happening and let him go. You did not cooperate with Social Services, nor did you offer any comfort to me or my family. In doing this, you showed me that you did not care what happened—all that mattered to you was your precious reputation, not the students inhabiting your walls. Mr. Bess, Mr. Johnson, you were in charge of this institution. You had the power to do something about this, you were supposed to be men of God, you were supposed to stand up for those who were too weak to do so themselves. Instead, you enabled a predator and simply brushed the entire situation under the rug. Do you realize that in doing this, it was basically like being abused all over again? That you silenced me, you made me feel ashamed—that it was my fault this happened to me. Mr. Johnson, a few years later, when you became principal after Mr. Bess left, I was visiting the school to see my sister—you called me into your office to talk to me about a post I made online about how unfair your treatment of my fellow classmate was. You had the nerve, the audacity to say to me: “How could you have said all this? We’ve done so much for you.” I would like you to tell me what exactly you have done for me. Because all I remember is this: you and your colleges shamed me and made me feel like my voice and story was meaningless. You caused me to doubt everything that happened. You enabled a predator to walk free, and you then pretended as if nothing had happened. That’s what you did for me, and I will never forget it.

I have no idea who is still at this institution, or how much it has changed. Quite frankly I don’t care. That does not erase or condone what happened to me and who knows how many others. I will never have any respect or admiration for Holly Grove Christian School.

I know that many of you are wondering “Why now? Why bring this up after seventeen years?” My answer is this: I will not be shamed into silence anymore. I will not allow that predator or that institution control my life anymore. I have kept silent about this for too long. It is time to open the curtain, to show what is behind it and show why I am the way I am.

If you are angry and think I am lying or over-reacting if this offends you or makes you uncomfortable—well I don’t really care. This didn’t happen to you, you were not the victim of it. It didn’t happen to Mr. Bess or Mr. Johnson, it didn’t happen to my classmates, as far as I know, this happened to me. This is my story, my voice and I deserve to be heard. I am not saying any of this to destroy anyone, this isn’t some mission of a vendetta—this is not for anyone but me.

I used to believe that I would never be anything more than a victim, I know now that is not the case. That is what that predator and that institution want me to think, to be silent and pretend as if it never happened, to “move on” with my life. I know that this is a part of me now, but it will not define me—nor will it have power over me anymore. That little girl inside me was dying to cry out, yearning for some sort of kindness and understanding—instead, she was silenced and met with cold indifference. Now I have given that little girl a voice and would like to sincerely apologize to her for how long it took. I would like to hold her and tell her that she is worthy, even when “men of God” tell her she is not.

To those of you who are suffering in silence, who have been shamed into it, I want you to know that this is not easy for me at all. I am still shaking now, even toward the end of this impact statement. However, even though I am scared, I have gained my power back. I want that for you as well, whatever form it may take—whether it be a statement such as this or some other way. You deserve to have a voice. Your story matters because it is yours, and how you choose to tell it is up to you. I have taken my destiny back, my past will not define me anymore. I have the courage to stand firm in my story, despite what naysayers do, despite what “Christians” may have me believe.

As I said before, I don’t really care what anyone says, does, or believes to be true. I know this happened, and while I am still struggling to believe that it has to be enough, I know in the future I will come out of this stronger. To those of you who have believed me, and have been there for me throughout this journey: To say thank you isn’t enough, to tell you that I appreciate everything you have done isn’t enough. I will never be able to express how much it means to me that you simply believed me, and stood beside me.

If you are still reading this, for whatever reason, thank you. You have enabled me.

1/21/18

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Posted in anime

Homosexuality in Anime

This article is written from the point of view of a heterosexual woman, I do not proclaim to know everything about what it’s like to be treated differently because of one’s sexuality. I wanted to write this because there are so few articles that deal with LGBT and how it’s portrayed in anime on “mainstream” sites. This is just an opinion piece and I’m not trying to convince you to see my point of view but to just get a conversation going. I will primarily be focusing on anime that I have seen and mentioning a few that I haven’t.

Let us begin, shall we?

If you were to trust the average person who doesn’t watch a lot of anime, they would assume that it doesn’t touch the topic of sexuality. There are probably some anime fans who think the same way, or they’re just in denial. The truth of the matter is that anime is beginning to change to reflect the changes in Japan. Let’s start with Japan itself and what it’s like to be gay in Japan today.

In an article (by an author known only as Aliasis) that I discovered while researching the subject, I found that while being an LGBT person in Japan isn’t really shunned or hated, it’s not necessarily talked about either. “Homosexuality is frequently kept silent. There is still no religious basis for discrimination, but gay people struggle to face Japan’s strict family and gender roles…At best, it is usually a subject kept under the table ” the article stated. As some of you may know, Japan is known for its strict gender roles: men are the breadwinners and women are the housewives. As I stated in my article about fan service, this particular dynamic is changing due to the booming economic power that Japan has gained in the past several years. Women are becoming more independent and challenging those gender roles. Despite this, the LGBT community in Japan is finding that they don’t quite fit in the so-called “normal” social makeup. Aliasis explains:

In my experience, almost all Japanese LGBT people I met while living in Tokyo were shocked when I asked if they were out to their families. Often they are only open at gay bars and events. I tried to be honest about my own sexual orientation when it came up in an effort to spread awareness, and I can’t count the number of awkward silences I endured after answering the infamous “do you have a boyfriend?” question. One young man even claimed to me, “We don’t have gay people in Japan.”

How the LGBT community is portrayed is also an issue, “Largely, gay and transgender people are portrayed as comedy acts on TV, often by straight comedians, and sexuality is frequently at the butt of jokes. Gay characters do on rare occasion exist in movies and television dramas, but it is rarer still to find a portrayal that is not stereotypical and comedic.” Aliasis says. So basically, because it makes people uncomfortable to talk about, it’s made fun of. At least in the “real” world, it is. Enter the wonderful, glorious world of anime.

For the most part, anime has portrayed the LGBT community in a positive light. That’s really the focus of this article: the positive things that anime does. Because it’s not really seen as “real” it is able to tackle issues that other outlets would rather just leave behind and sweep under the table.

Now, let’s get to probably the most famous LGBT couple in anime: Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus.

SailorUranus_SailorNeptune

WHAT.

If you didn’t watch the Japanese version or read the manga, then that’s your initial reaction. And if you watched the English version, and that’s all you’ve ever known, then you would be in your own right to have that reaction. The English version was edited to fit a hetero-normative view of the world that was the case a few years ago. Hetero-normative is denoting or relating to a worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation. The pair was introduced as “cousins” and I remember watching it, even as young as I was, and thinking “You know that’s not what I say to my cousin.” They were always together, affectionate with each other and even were willing to die for each other. I mean I love my cousins…but I’m sorry not enough to do what they were willing to do for each other.

Sorry Cousins.

With the dawn of the Internet I soon discovered that they were not cousins but in fact lovers, and because I was too young to understand sexuality I just sort of brushed it off. As I got older and my social circles grew I began to realize how progressive and how important it was for the LGBT community, even though it didn’t promote a huge change—it probably did give someone who was struggling with their sexuality a little bit of comfort.

Let’s look at the characters themselves: Sailor Uranus provides the rougher edges of the relationship, being more dependent on using her strength as well as providing a no-nonsense viewpoint, as well as a bombastic problem-solving approach. Sailor Neptune is her opposite, more feminine and reserved and that sometimes may come off as cold. These two just fit. They balance each other out and are not portrayed as some sort of ideal relationship.

 

One isn’t portrayed as the “man” or the “woman” of the relationship, they’re human beings. They both have feminine qualities and they just happen to be lesbian.

Sailor Moon sort of opened the door for other anime characters to “come out” and be proud of their sexual orientation. Here’s just a brief list of a few:

  • Isabella Yamamoto – Paradise Kiss
  • Alielle Relryle – El-Hazard
  • Daley Wong – Bubblegum Crisis
  • Anthy Himemiya, Utena Tenjou, Juri Arisugawa – Revolutionary Girl Utena
  • Miyuki – Yu Yu Hakusho

I hope that this has opened your eyes to something: That anime is for everyone, no matter what your gender, sexual orientation, or skin color. It’s constantly evolving with the times and it’s there for people who feel like they’re different from everyone else. That’s what anime is. I am a firm believer in that. So remember, next time you’re watching your favorite show that someone else sees it differently than you and that’s okay! That’s what makes us all amazing.

Let’s talk. Who are some of your favorite LGBT characters? Has anime helped you in any way? Let’s discuss!

 

Original Article: Being Gay in Japan: The Ups and Downs

Posted in Uncategorized

Breaking up with Writer’s Block

Dear Writers Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. I have become lazy and undisciplined about my craft. I have allowed you to think it was okay to stay here when really, it’s not good for me. I should have told you sooner, I know but my sloth-like behavior got the better of me and I became comfortable with you being here. I have several projects that desperately need my attention and your presence here isn’t really helping at all, it’s hindering. My problem is my brain, it used to be set up perfectly for writing—now it’s a fog of racing thoughts and overwhelming doubt.

As I said before, it’s definitely me. I think I allowed you to become an easy excuse to avoid these projects (one of which I’ve been working on since I was fucking 16—talk about procrastination..) because I guess I’m scared to finish it. What’s next? What if it doesn’t amount to anything? Why did I spend all that time and all those years obsessing over every detail? I have never done well with the future, it gives me anxiety—I don’t know what’s going to happen and that scares me to the point of procrastination. I figure if I draw out the process it will give me a chance to predict what’s going to happen, which is dumb because the universe is, in it’s very nature, unpredictable. I know I have the talent, I know I’ve worked my entire life at this, I know that I can do it but the ringing voice in my ear is like trying to have a conversation at a death metal concert.

I want to write, I want to create, this is what I live for—but fuck it’s scary. I now know why so many artist struggled with depression and other mental illnesses—and why they drank so much. It’s because the very act of creating is a trial by fire, a battle within the soul, and you’re relying on nothing but your passion to guide you. I can’t do it while you’re here Writer’s Block. I need to do some soul searching by myself and I need to clear the fog within my mind. I don’t think I see us getting back together, I can’t say we won’t have a one night stand every now and then but I don’t wish to continue this relationship. I hope you understand, I need to create, I need it to survive. I need it because I want to write like I’m running out of time. I wrote my way out of you, now it’s time to write my way out of my fog.

Posted in Uncategorized

To the little girl who always dreamt of this day.

I had always hoped in the deepest part of my heart that I would get a chance to see Wonder Woman brought to life on the big screen. I never had any idea who I wanted to play the role, but I did know that I wanted a woman to direct it. Hollywood being chauvinistic, I didn’t think it would be for a quite a while.

Then it happened. They announced it. Wonder Woman was coming to the big screen. My heart soared and I proceeded then on with cautious optimism. That is, until I heard that a woman was directing it–then I knew it was going to be everything I could want.

But why? Why does it matter who directs it? I’m glad you asked.

fullsizerender

When I first heard these words spoken to my 11 year old self something stirred in me, I was 11 so I had no idea what but for years it never left. Several years later when the TV series became available on iTunes, naturally I bought every one of them, I was able to revisit this feeling.

Men are tortured by this awful demon called masculinity, this causes them to look down on women because that is what their forefathers did, and their forefathers. They have to be strong, brave, and tough. So for a woman to take up the mantle of strong, brave, and tough–this throws off everything they have been taught. Superman saved Lois Lane, not the other way around, Gwen Stacy couldn’t save herself from the Green Goblin she needed Spider-man to do it for her.

When the 50’s came around female representation became that of the housewife, no more Rosie the Riveter because the men have returned and want their jobs back; the women didn’t need to be independent anymore they had their husbands. Wonder Woman was stripped of her powers, and became more interested in fashion rather than stopping Ares.

Enter Gloria Steinem.

A woman who basically saved Wonder Woman from being completely removed from comics. She fought for her to get her powers back, and with lots of wading through patriarchal bullshit she succeeded.

I could go on and on about how I worship at the alter of Gloria because of what she did for my girl Diana, but I digress.

Female representation is important because it benefits everyone. There’s a balance in this world, and instead of being divided because you’re a man and I’m a woman, lets try to even out the seesaw. Feminism isn’t about women ruling the world, enslaving men, or becoming the superior sex; it’s about equality and love and acceptance of everyone. That’s scary because it throws off this toxic masculinity that everyone has come to accept as normal. Change is scary, change means that everything you know is going to become something other than what you’re used to. I get it, I personally am terrified of change when it happens. But when you accept that it’s something that is out of your control, when you allow yourself to sort of bend with the wind instead of fighting against it–wow, it feels so much better than constantly trying to be a wall.

So to every little girl who is going to see Wonder Woman, know that I was there with you. I looked upon her with admiration and love (still do!). Every single person who has played her I respect and occasionally fangirl because damn did they get it right (I’m talking to you Lynda Carter and Susan Eisenberg!). Now we have Gal Gadot in the ranks, and I can honestly say that wow, did they hit the nail on the head with that casting. Wonder Woman is a warrior, but she’s also a humanitarian and a politician. She is the embodiment of love, peace, and strength. Gal Gadot just gets it.

Wonder Woman has always been a special part of my life. My mother was my real life Wonder Woman, when she died I only had Diana Prince and she filled a little bit of the aching void that was left behind. Wonder Woman showed me that I am more, I am enough, and my gender shouldn’t matter when it comes to doing what I want to do.

So thank you to the cast and crew of this exceptional movie.

But most of all, thank you Wonder Woman.

giphy

Posted in Uncategorized

“And she lived.”

A lot can happen in two months….

I sit here in a dear friends house in the outskirts of Pittsburgh. I have taken back my life and I’m in a place now where hope doesn’t seem so far away.

Around this time in January I began to feel myself spiraling back into depression. I wasn’t happy with my situation, and I felt so powerless…I thought that I would remain stuck, that I would never truly find contentment. I cried, a lot. I wasn’t sleeping, and I was starting to get scared. What if this time I ended up in the hospital instead of just in outpatient? I didn’t want to go back to 3 South, but I felt so hopeless and lost.

Then I called my sister. My sister has always given it to me straight, she has always comforted, but never coddled me.

She told me “You’re not happy here. You have a chance to change everything, to go somewhere else. You’ve been sitting on this opportunity for a long time, and it’s time that you’ve taken advantage of it.”

She was right, I had a gateway that I had been avoiding because of one thing: fear. Fear had kept me prisoner, even with all that I had learned, all that I had accomplished, I was still afraid. I was afraid to take a chance, I was afraid of doing something without my mom there. I wanted freedom, but I didn’t want the risk that came with it. Fear is a demon that came with my depression and anxiety, it had wrapped itself around my heart and was beginning to take root. I had to take a chance or I would wither away.

So I began my journey by taking baby steps, then eventually I began to gain the confidence I needed to fulfill my goal, which was to get the hell off the Shore. Now I don’t hate my hometown, but I found my heart there and it was broken there. I needed to find a place where I could begin again. So with the encouragement of my friends, and my family I packed my car and I drove to Pittsburgh with a feeling of hope and happiness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I’ll let my poem tell the rest:

Purple-pink sunsets dot the sky as I load the last suitcase in the trailer.

My whole life packed in the back of a U-Haul attached to a grey Ford Escape.

Escape…

Is that what I’m doing?

I turn,

And I see my entire past before me–

My entire world painted on a canvas

That is battered and torn as I slam the door on my past.

“There’s nothing for you here…”

She says.

“This place is like quicksand.”

This Shore, this is all I have ever known.

The pungent smell of marsh,

The taste of salt;

The soft cattails and marsh grass that tickled my feet.

My childhood was built upon the foundation

Of sandy beaches and marshy ditch banks.

Maryland is in my blood–

Yet I have cemetary dirt under my nails

And an unwanted voice in my soul.

No matter how hard I scrub

(Out, out damned spot!)

I cannot remove the grime of her passing.

No matter how much I will it

I cannot erase his stain

From my body.

Maryland is in my blood,

But the past hangs over me like

Vampire bats in their lair.

The Shore raised me,

And the Shore broke me.

Now,

I take my broken pieces

And try to make some sense of my life up to this point

Through gnashed fingers and hands.

For thirty springs,

Thirty summers

Thirty falls

And thirty winters

I have endured–

I have survived.

Surviving is overrated.

You’re not living.

I want to thrive!

I want to breathe the air of release.

I want a day without the barrage of

Reminders of the cemetery dirt

And the stain on my skin,

Of the forked tongue spilling lies

And the groping hands, unwanted, tracing my skin.

The bats,

They will follow me.

However instead of vampires they will be insectivores!

Cleaning my infected mind of moths and insects

That cloud my future.

For you see the past is a chapter,

And I am the book;

I am the author.

I will write my narrative from the road–

I will take in all of it’s glory.

This chapter is complete, it is time to close it.

By the time the ink dries on this page,

I will be gone and the line will read:

“And she lived.”

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Say a Million

I recently collaborated with the amazing Molly Likovich in writing and performing a slam poem. Please check out the video! I’ll post the text version of the poem following the video. Check out Molly’s website, and support her on Patreon because she’s amazing and deadly with the pen.

 

Come the tan-faced, the brown, the black, the white, the cream, the coffee, the beans and the burn of it all. Come over the rainbow with a chunk of it in your pocket–you are the pioneers

now. Come the vulvas, the uteruses, the unwanted organs. Come with your registry papers and your languid convictions clutched in your
sinews–you are the pioneers now.

Come to the alabaster seas and let their honorable hands find
fruit, let the flaxen-haired mongrels find washed-up woman–
hood. Let them know you’re mouth is made of lilies and hemlock–now

you’re the pioneers. You are the daughters of un-burned witches. You are salt and gritty bones. Come you who can drown oceans. Washington
has no lifeboats–you are now the pioneers.

There will be no time to turn back. You inherited this wild
west. The souls need action–you are the pioneers.

January pavement, you ache to walk
in a room–talking to Maya Angelou.

Feasting on pomegranates, you know no one
will sing for him. Yellow-starred, and pink-triangled.
We get there together, or not
at all. We are the pioneers now.
Do you dare disturb everything?
Daydreamer, and lollygagger. No more hitting send.
Now, you walk, pioneer.

 

Posted in Personal Post

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance

To the women who marched on Saturday, I would like to take a moment to offer my heartfelt thanks.

You see I was unable to march because of a cold, my doctor strongly advised that I stay inside if I wanted to get better. I was planning to attend my local Women’s March in Ocean City Maryland, but I chose to abide my doctors orders.

I want you to know that you marched for me, you marched for my rights. I love you for that. I love each and every one of you: Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Arabic, and those who wish to not conform. I love all of you both gay and straight, transgender, and non-gender specific. You took up the banner for me, a complete stranger and carried it willingly.

Why does it matter so much to me?

Because I am a survivor of sexual assault.

Because I have been discriminated against because of my gender.

Because I have made less than a man does for doing the same job.

You marched for me, you marched to make my voice heard so the least I can do is thank you for doing so. You stood at the Alter of Gloria in triumph!

Now, I will do my part.

I will take up my pen in solidarity with you. I will used my power of the written word to strike down those who say this is nothing but a phase, those who would demean our movement. I will write my local representatives. This is what it takes, this is what our battle looks like. So I will take up my weapon and ready it for war with you my sisters.

To those who say they don’t “need” this march, I say this: You do not get to decide what is good for other woman. That’s why we march: to decide for ourselves what is right for our bodies.

Thank you my sisters, thank you from the deepest part of my heart. I truly respect and honor you. Let’s keep fighting.

Posted in Uncategorized

Advice from a Young Writer to a Younger Writer

I’m far from an expert, I’m of the mindset that I will constantly be reaching for that goal because there is always something new to learn about writing.

I could save us all the time and simply give the advice that I was given when first starting out:

WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It’s a valid piece of advice, after all a craft needs to be kept at its sharpest if one wishes to become an “expert.” However there are those that can’t simply sit down and write for five minutes, sometimes people need prompts or a little boost to help them get their creative juices flowing. There are times when I am one of those said people, some days the brain just doesn’t want to wake up or it just feels like it’s scraped thin. In which case there are dozens of resources at your disposal, I’m going to name a few of my favorites.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany is quite possibly the most essential book that any writer should have. It has concrete, challenging, and engaging exercises that give your mind the freedom to wander. It’s a work out for your brain, making you think about things that you wouldn’t normally think about and challenging you to stay within a word limit. The exercises cover various topics like Point of View, Time, Imagery, Humor, Travel…there’s no limit to what this book can do for you. Some people would consider this a book for those who are a little more experienced writers, but I think that most writers can use this book and get a lot out of it. There is also a follow up book (which I do not own yet) called The 4 A.M. Breakthrough to whet your appetite if you so wish.

The San Francisco Writers Grotto became known to me when I found 712 (More) Things to Write About. This is a wonderful diary to keep and the exercises aren’t as time consuming as Breakthrough’s. These exercises can range from the serious to the wonderfully ridiculous. They don’t take much time, and very little effort in some cases; the book was designed (in my opinion anyway) for the writer who is always on the go, the writer who has a day job, and the writer who just needs that five minutes to escape.

My next piece of advice is to change your setting once and a while. Sometimes sitting in the same place leads to stagnation. You’re looking at the same wall, the same desk, and perhaps the same people. It gets boring. So if there’s a coffee shop or even a bar nearby see if that offers a host of new inspiration. People watching is the greatest form of inspiration. Set up in a corner with your laptop or notebook and let the show begin.

Another thing that I do is that I talk to myself…a lot. If you’re a fiction writer or even a poet, think out loud. When the place is appropriate of course…I wouldn’t recommend talking to yourself in a public space, unless you’re whispering or something. Even then I think you’d merit a few stares to say the least. But talking to yourself in the voices of your characters sort of solidifies them, makes them more real. Walking around your writing room muttering to yourself may merit a label of insanity, but who will have the last laugh when you hold that Pulitzer Prize for Literature?

Finally, I have this to say:

Write every day. Be humble, accept that your craft is ever changing and there is always something new to learn. Did I mention write every day?

Now get out there, grab a pen and a notebook, and start writing!

Posted in mental health, Personal Post

Shelter

My first post in the new year is going to talk about a short that I discovered last year that impacted me in such a way that I am just now coming to terms with how much this piece of art is important to me.

This short tells the story of Rin,  a 17-year-old girl who lives her life inside of a futuristic simulation completely by herself in infinite, beautiful loneliness. Each day, Rin awakens in virtual reality and uses a tablet which controls the simulation to create a new, different, beautiful world for herself. Until one day, everything changes, and Rin comes to learn the true origins behind her life inside a simulation.

Now why would something like this impact me so? Why should you care? It’s quite simple really: It all goes back to my mental health.

If you haven’t watched the short, do so now. I will be venturing into spoiler territory beyond this point.

Rin’s journey, is my journey. I lived in a world where I thought everything was fine, repressing everything that I was feeling and running from my past. I was trying to create a world where I didn’t hurt, where I was safe. It was like a trying to paint over a black wall with white paint and expect it to not bleed through. Eventually no matter how much paint you add, your wall will always be black.

When Rin finally learns the truth, that her father sacrificed himself to save her, she is devastated. The memories are painful, they wash over her like the ocean waves.

That’s how it is with me.

See I have my own share of painful memories, from my mom’s death to being sexually abused by a teacher at my high school. Those memories haunt me, and even though I can’t fully comprehend my sexual assault yet–it’s still there, like a dormant volcano. The memories become overwhelming, they hit me like a truck and knock me in the mud, then they drag me through said mud and leave me there to rot. That’s when the depression hits, that’s when my demons come out and tell me I should just end it all and escape from this ocean of pain and misery.

The thing about the ocean though, is that it waves to and fro, the waves always recede back to the ocean. That’s what I have to remember, is that those memories are a part of me, they formed who I am, but they are not me. Those memories of my mom give me strength, they’re what keeps me here–they are responsible for that tiny dollop of hope that I have in my darkest times.

Even if those memories make me sad, I’ve got to go forward believing in the future. Even when I realize my loneliness, and am about to loose all hope, those memories make me stronger. I’m not alone…because of you.

As I type through my tears, I want you all, all who are struggling with something, to remember that it is worth it. I know it sucks, it hurts, and it doesn’t seem like it. But, to quote Samwise Gamgee, there is something good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.

Whatever that good is, fight for it. Find shelter in it.

Posted in mental health, Personal Post

Farewell my Princess…

I don’t think I’ve been this upset about an actresses death since Liz Taylor and Lauren Bacall.

NPR broke the story for me, it popped up as a notification on my phone. I had to pull over and cry. Luckily I was on my way to my therapists appointment so she understood why I was a little late. See Carrie Fisher meant more to me than just Princess Leia, just like Lauren Bacall and Liz Taylor I related to her. I adored her. I grew up with her.

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I can’t really remember how old I was when I first saw A New Hope, maybe 6 or 7, but I remember vividly my reaction to first seeing Princess Leia. I was enamored by her! At first it was “Wow she’s so pretty!” then I saw her kicking ass and taking names with the Stormtroopers and I was done. It impacted me in such a way that I only now realize, Princess Leia taught me that gender didn’t matter when fighting for what was right. She taught me that I could be that little girl who saved the galaxy. Let’s face it, Han and Luke would’ve been lost without Leia. Han probably still frozen in carbonite and Luke falling towards the Dark Side. You know it’s true, don’t deny it.

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Not only was Carrie Fisher a bad ass in movies, but also in life. She was unapologetically outspoken and in many ways, mirrored Leia’s personality on and off screen. She didn’t care who she offended, if you couldn’t take it leave. I loved her for that.sub-buzz-350-1482868843-3

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But as I grew older, I began to realize that I loved her for a much deeper and more meaningful reason: Her strong, outspoken stance against the stigma surrounding mental health.

See Carrie Fisher struggled with her own mental illness for most of her life. She was an alcoholic, and suffered from bipolar disorder…which probably lead to the alcoholism in the first place.

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Now I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD, I’m not bipolar but I have met people in my journey who have suffered from it and from what they tell me, it’s basically like a roller coaster ride from hell. That’s simplifying it of course, but I can’t in good conscience talk about something that I have no idea what it’s like. I know what it’s like to feel like you have this demon on your back constantly telling you how worthless you are, how stupid you are, how you are not enough no matter how hard you try. I know the crippling fear one faces while they’re in the midst of an anxiety attack–the feeling of gasping for air right as you’re about to hit the floor but you never do, it’s that feeling of falling without any resolution. I can imagine that both of those fall into play with bipolar disorder, and dealing with it takes immense strength and courage.

To speak up as a woman, and take no shit for it means you’re always under scrutiny of some kind. Carrie Fisher didn’t give a flying fuck about it, she was as real as they came. That is why I’ll miss her, that is why I love her. My life was impacted in a positive way by Carrie Fisher.

I’ll close with the first line of her obituary–as she would have wanted it:

Carrie Fisher found dead in moonlight, strangled by own bra…

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May the Force be With You, General Organa.

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