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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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.

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

“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.”

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.

 

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!

Unplug, or you might get Stuck

I thought I would divert from the political climate for a bit and talk about another issue that seems to be pressing: How much time we spend “plugged in” to our devices and games. I began really marinating on this topic when Sony announced Playstation VR, a futuristic headset that allows anyone who wears it to become immersed in the game they are playing. I know that there are other VR headsets out there, Samsung being one of them, but since I am a Sony Playstation fan girl, I really only feel the need to speak of that particular headset.

I can’t help but think of movies like Wall-E when it comes to this particular topic.

Then I really start to delve deeper into my thoughts, and remember that there have been countless dramas warning us about the potential harm of VR. Though I hate to admit it, the show Sword Art Online comes to mind…

Now I am one of those rare people who is actually on the fence about this show, joining my favorite YouTuber Arkada, I love the first few parts of it but hated the latter half of the first season and didn’t even bother with the second. So I’m just going to talk about the parts I watched and enjoyed.

Here’s the synopsis from Crunchyroll:

n the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.

Now I did leave out one key plot element of the story: If the players die in the game, they in fact die in real life. I won’t go into the fact that they completely screwed this up and didn’t use it to it’s full effectiveness as the show went on, but in the beginning they used it very well. Death as we all know is permanent and they really made this fact weigh on our protagonists in the beginning.

I believe that shows like SAO and Wall-E are, much like Brave New World or 1984, cautionary tales for the twenty first century. See we spend SO much time on our phones now, I won’t lie I’m guilty too, that we tend to put these blinders on and only see what we want to see. We don’t really appreciate things as much; things like a hand written letter instead of an email, or a flower growing in between the cracks of the sidewalk (something I always thought was a great metaphor for nature vs industrialization). We are too busy playing Pokemon GO to realize that there are actual animals out there we can go see (though I wouldn’t recommend throwing things at them), sure it got people outside and off their butts, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem that we spend way too much time plugged in.

I know that it’s hard to not be plugged in. After all this world is fast paced, and just about everything is digital. Hell I wouldn’t be able to do this blog post without being plugged in. But my point isn’t to just drop everything and become a goat-herder in the Alps for the rest of your life; it’s to realize that there are much more beautiful things out there. Think about the last time you saw a sunset, or felt sand between your toes, or went on a stroll through the woods; what did you feel then? Chances are you didn’t feel the weight of responsibility that our digitized society places on you. You were in that moment, mindful of everything around you: the feel of the breeze, the smell of the ocean or earth, and the way the sun danced on the horizon.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is an author that I discovered a few years ago. His book Wherever you Go, There You Are talks about mindfulness and meditation. The practice of mindfulness has helped me immensely in my struggle against depression and anxiety, and it’s something I encourage all of you to start practicing. The great thing about mindfulness practice is that it can be done anywhere, from your cubicle to your car.

Be in this moment. This world is fast-paced, and people will run you over. But remember that there are things in this world, beyond your screen, that are worth your attention. Those things are precious, so don’t loose sight of them.

A love letter to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth Theory

Joseph Campbell, you have inspired me for years and I am only just now realizing that it’s your Monomyth Theory that has captured my imagination and it’s one of the many theories that has given me a critical mind.

First let me start by explaining the Monomyth, the theory presented in his extraordinary work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I recently saw a video that explained it beautifully, and I just had to share with the world.

What do some of your favorite modern day heroes (Katniss, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, etc.) have in common with the heroes of old (Hercules, Odysseus, etc.)?

monomyth

First of all, let’s think of the above diagram as a clock:

12 o’clock: Status Quo – What is the Hero’s current status?

1 o’clock: Call to Adventure – The Hero receives a mysterious message, an invitation? A challenge?

2 o’clock: Assistance – The Hero needs some help, this is usually from someone older or wiser or both.

3 o’clock: Departure – The hero crosses the threshold from their normal, ordinary world and enters the special world.

4 o’clock: Trials – Heroics is hard work. The Hero solves a riddle, slays a monster, escapes from a trap, etc.

5 o’clock: Approach – It’s time for the Hero to face their biggest ordeal–usually their worst fear.

6 o’clock: Crisis – This is the Hero’s darkest hour, they face death–possibly even die, only to be REBORN.

7 o’clock: Treasure – As a result, the Hero claims some sort of treasure–special recognition, power, etc.

8 o’clock: Result – This varies by story–do the monsters bow down before the Hero? Or do they chase him?

9 o’clock: Return – The Hero returns to their ordinary world, crossing the threshold once again.

10 o’clock: New Life – This quest/journey has changed the Hero (for better or worse), they have outgrown their old life.

11 o’clock: Resolution – All of the tangled plot lines are straightened out.

12 o’clock: Status Quo – Upgraded to a new level, nothing is quite the same once you’re a Hero.

Okay, so why is this such a big deal? Why does it matter that Katniss and Odysseus share more than just a Greek name?  Because the hero’s journey isn’t just Katniss’s or Odysseus’s journey, it’s your journey. See Katniss was a normal girl thrown into an extraordinary circumstance–a circumstance that seemed way beyond her capabilities to overcome. Yet through the sheer strenght of her will, she did it, she did it because she had something and someone to fight for.

In the cave you fear to enter, lies the treasure you seek.

What is the treasure you seek?

 

For more information on Joseph Campbell, check out the Joseph Campbell Foundation:

http://www.jcf-myth.org/

Thanksgiving

When I think about this past year, it’s hard to not get discouraged. I’m talking about my own personal struggle–not the political turmoil and rampant depressing events that occurred this year (though some of that played a part). My mental health has been the forefront of this year, especially towards the latter half of it. I struggled with suicide and deep, dark bouts of depression and crippling anxiety. I questioned whether or not it was worth even continuing this life that I was living, and a small part of me still challenged that thought but it was exhausting and I was beginning to lose hope.

I enrolled in the Partial Hospitalization Program to avoid a full term hospitalization where they would keep me for god knows how long. The PHP is a program that helps people who have been hospitalized for mental health issues get back on their feet, and it serves as another way for those who are on the precipice of a hospitalization. I was there for two and half weeks, I won’t go into detail of the therapy or the medication changes–but it helped me immensely.

I say all of that to give a background as to how important my friends and family are to me. When you’re going through a depressive episode, you can be very reclusive and isolate–because you don’t want to be a burden to others, or you feel scared that they won’t love you anymore for whatever reason. I pushed people away, people that I shouldn’t have, people that I love dearly, and would rather die than hurt them.

But my family and friends persevered, they knew that it was not me but the illness that was doing this. They loved me, they called me, they kept pushing against this wall that I had built until it came crashing down. I wanted so much to just fall off this precipice, to make the pain stop but they kept pulling me back. They never gave up on me, nor did they allow me to give up on myself.

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. It is hard sometimes to remember them, especially when I’m falling back into depression. I remember them, I remember the coping skills that I learned, but most of all I feel that love searing through my veins. It keeps me grounded when I want to fly off the handle, and it keeps me sane when I want to curl up in a ball and give up.

I want to let you all know that you matter to someone, more than you ever know. You are their entire world and you are important. Someone is thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends.

Taking a Tough Look at Myself

“I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.”

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto

Maya Angelou introduced me to that particular quote by Terrance, a Roman playwright and philosopher and ever since I saw her talking about him, I’ve done my best to try to internalize it. But unfortunately I am human and I tend to forget it, forget that I have all of the components in me to be the next great inspiration or the next element of destruction.

As human we tend to forget that we are indeed flawed and there aren’t many differences between you or I. I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that I have never said anything racist or hurtful, I won’t pretend that I am perfect. That would be stupid and haughty.

A very dear friend of mine and I met for coffee yesterday and I always enjoy talking to her because she is everything that I believe a person of faith should be: understanding, empathetic, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and accepting. She considers herself Christian, but she is not radicalized–I absolutely cannot say how much I respect her.

We talked about several things, the main thing being about the results of the election–if you want my thoughts and feelings you can click the said links. Both being self-proclaimed feminists, we feel about the same. We talked about how hate crimes have run rampant since the election of Donald Trump, and how people are one way in front of a crowd but another way in front of their peers. I referred to a particular photo I saw on Humans of New York’s Facebook page (here is said photo), it wasn’t the photo that really captured me, but the caption underneath:


“I think a lot of people live on the borderline of racism. I work in a machine shop with about thirty older guys. I don’t think there is one bad guy in the group. You’d like them if you met them. All of them love their families. But I’d say that I’ve heard eighty percent of them make racist comments of some sort. A lot of the older guys drop ‘n bombs.’ But if a black guy walks up, they’ll be friendly. They’ll even go out to lunch with him and share a meal. I honestly don’t think they see themselves as racist. Every one of them will deny it. They’ll point to the black guy that they’re friendly with. They won’t point to the things they say when he’s not around.”


It struck a chord with me–but I wasn’t really sure how to process it. I was ignorant to think that I hadn’t been guilty of doing that myself, but I wasn’t ready to face it. Then my dear friend sent me this video:

I realized that I had been guilty of saying racist things and condoning racist behaviour.

I also realized that a lot of my racism was simply born out of the environment that I live in (super conservative, narrow minded thinking, small town that meets all of the stereotypes), and being young and stupid. Before I became the person I am today, I was a super radical christian who was on the precipice of a mental breakdown because I also had a strong sense of justice. I chose to be that way because it was the only way I thought I could be, I was a naive kid who had just lost her mother and was looking for anything to make the pain go away. I don’t condone my behaviour, looking back now I know why I was that way but I’m not going to say it was right. I am rather ashamed of it because I abhor hypocrisy, and I feel like a hypocrite. However I also realize that I can’t really focus on that now because it is in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change it now. I can only focus on being a better person today.

I want to be a force  of good in this world, I want to use my talents to make it better–even if it’s just a little bit. To do that I need to constantly look at myself and make sure that I’m practicing what I preach. I also have to be gentle with myself, remember that I am a flawed human being and accept that I will make mistakes but I must learn from those mistakes an be better.

I think we all can learn something from each other, if we just take the time to sit down and talk. We can be a force of good–and I intend to use my talents constructively instead of destructively.