Salted Wounds

Content Warning: Sexual Assault/ R*pe

Since February, I’ve been trying to process my own history of sexual assault in a way formerly unfamiliar to me; as a (former) sexual partner to two persons who have caused harm to others.

It was revealed to me through shady layers that a person I was dating had sexually assaulted someone in the past. She told me bit by bit about the encounter, making sure to leave out details that would sway me to be less inclined to stay with her. I realized that she was not doing the work to be accountable or admit fault to her victim, (who had already pardoned another person involved in causing the harm.) And with that realization, I terminated the relationship…after a month of distance and conversation surrounding her responsibility as a perpetrator and partner to someone who had been harmed by others. Also known as- a month of emotional distress.

The unfolding of these events was messy to say the least, and she attached to yet another host within weeks during quarantine by repeating the same non-disclosing behavior with them. Still convinced that I could change the outcome for someone else and change their potential for experiencing pain, I remained friends with her while trying to coax her to be a better partner and person in this new relationship. Once I realized she was still lying through omission to them in the same ways, however, I terminated my friendship with her as well.

Insecurity and paranoia followed me, and I felt incredibly down about my self image. She hadn’t physically cheated on me- we were both polyamorous- but she had rocked my sense of self by also protecting someone she was still in love with through her disclosures. This person is more transmasculine presenting and “passing” than myself, and I found it hard to stop comparing my body and interests to theirs.

I was in the midst of healing from all of this when I recently (Mid-June,) found out that a person I was having a Kinkship with had also sexually harmed someone.

He had not disclosed this to me previously, so I confronted him via Facetime one evening. He acknowledged that it was true, and I spent some time trying to field his victim-blaming assumptions that he expressed to me. I found out that the person he had harmed was someone I knew as well, and became sickened by hearing details about the encounter that mirrored my own experiences as a victim. I ended our kinkship, and after the call I felt entirely exhausted. I sobbed into the arms of my partner, mourning for the person he had harmed, and myself.

The next several days I stayed home from work and laid in bed and on my couch. The world felt heavy- and it still does. I felt defeated, and tired. All the time and effort that I’d put into protecting myself because of my past felt wasted. What was the point of vetting persons for months before being intimate with them, if they could still simply keep information like this from me, with clear conscience? How could I ever find the ability to trust others again?

The trauma part of my brain latched onto these new feelings surrounding old issues, and developed a new worry for me to ruminate over;

What had I done, or what do I do, to attracted not one, but two perpetrators into my intimate life?

I felt convinced to blame myself through the same lobe of logic that proclaims anything bad that happens to me is my fault. (Thanks childhood trauma!) And I felt responsible to ensure that no one else would feel the same ways; by sacrificing yet more of my emotional labor on both persons with accountability education.

Worst yet, is that I felt a sense of guilt- like I was unknowingly an accomplice to the actions they had enacted on others. Because I had only seen them both as persons who were kind and endearing to me.

I even experienced those shadows of doubt I had only heard of; discrediting the information others had given me by holding my own interactions with the abusers as more credible. I wanted to deny and run away from the truths. But they kept beckoning me back to my own memories of hurt and pain at the hands of others.

So instead of running, I sank.

Deep down into my truth, that rang too loud and close to home.

I cannot be in relationship with persons who have harmed others in these ways. It stunts and deters my own growth as a person who has been harmed.

I can still be an abolitionist, still offer resources, still demand accountability- but their guilt is not mine to carry. Their actions don’t reflect my innocence.

I am now back in therapy to try and restore my self confidence and sense of self after these two accounts of betrayal. Both of these persons knew of my history of sexual trauma, and they both chose not to disclose to me before forming physical bonds with me. As much as my brain tells me to blame myself- that blame would be misdirected.

I am allowed to feel hurt. I am allowed to feel betrayed. I am allowed to grieve. I am allowed to be angry. I am allowed to rest. And I am allowed to seek help and resources from others while doing so.

The weight of accountability should not rest on survivors.

It’s not our job to save everyone at the cost of our own mental health.

I am going to do my best to re-build beautiful foundations blocks from this bitterness I’ve encountered. And I’m going to do so with the persons I love and trust.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering.

5-Year Traumaversary

5 years ago I experienced one of the worst events of my life.

Today I am celebrating it. Me, my existence, my resilience, and my survival.

5 years ago I wrote this piece and shared it on my personal social media. To this day it’s still one of my favorites. Not because it is joyful, but because it is true:

On February 28th, 2015, I was raped by two men.
I have realized that most people hardly want to hear the truth I have experienced. They want to hear comforting statistics and justified vengeance. They want to hear glorious recovery and the story of a naïve victim.
The truth is, I could have been stabbed, mugged, run over….and no one would have questioned whether these things had truly happened to me. They wouldn’t ask me to confirm details and defend my reactions to such things. They also wouldn’t go into lengthy discussion about whether I had deserved to have these things happen to me.
It seems that when someone takes your personal dignity, it becomes impossible for anyone else to take your dignity seriously. It becomes impossible for some to take the violent crime done to you, seriously.
They want to hear that the men are in jail now. They want to hear that I went straight to the hospital or police station after it happened. They want to hear that my (ex)boyfriend blamed the men for what happened. They want to hear that I took every contraceptive on the planet because that’s the correct and liberal thing to do. They want to hear that rape culture is not real, and that if it is, it only affects the mind of boys and men. They want to hear that I am ashamed of what happened, and that I take responsibility for what was done to me.
| But all of these statements are false |
The men are not in jail. It took me several days to muster up the courage to tell anyone with authority. I blamed myself, and my ex told me that I “deserved to have it haunt me.” I did not take Plan B because I believe in both the freedom to choice, and the freedom to choose to say No. Through my own personal beliefs, I could not make myself blame the possibility of an innocent life for what others had done to me. Rape culture had convinced me for 6 years that if I only became numb enough and refused to care about what people did to my body- I would have the power to feel that it wasn’t so bad.
| And I am no longer ashamed, because it was not my fault. |
They didn’t expect to hear that I pray for my rapists to one day come to terms with themselves – That I pray for my ex to find empathy for others even when he has not experienced their same situation – That I pray for the elder that told me in all good intention to “be more safe”; because she saw only the error of my ways in my story – That I pray for every man woman and child that has been traumatized and stigmatized by society – That I pray I remain Better, Not Bitter, than what has happened to me.
They don’t want to hear that I have been molested, sexually assaulted/harassed/bullied, and raped before.
But since I was recently raped, I have found that the more I try to speak, the less willing others have been to listen.
I have also found that I have been feeling the need to be heard more than ever before. Here is what I have to say.
To the Survivors: I believe (in) you. What has happened to you is not your fault. Sometimes the people we hope to be there for us, judge us. But that is not your fault either. They do not know what it is like- they are trying to understand. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. You wouldn’t still be here if you didn’t have a purpose. Your assaulters may have temporarily taken your body, and your mind- but do not let them take your soul. Treat yourself. Be kind to yourself. You deserve happiness. You never deserved mistreatment and pain. Be alone when you need to, but do not shut out the world. Someone will need you to believe in them one day, as much as you need someone to believe in you now. Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. You are not evil. What was done to you may have made you feel like a victim- but do not let this mindset turn you into a villain. You are not a victim- you are a Survivor. Do not be ashamed of this. Be proud to have walked through the fire and still be standing.
To the Supporters: If you know someone grieving their sexual trauma through anger, shame, depression- listen. Listen until they can speak no more. Listen with an open mind, an open heart. Be a warm shoulder of comfort. Not a cold shoulder of judgment. Avoid asking “why?” or “how?” questions. You may mean well, and wish to understand more about the situation- but these kind of questions are already answered by one simple sentenced; She/he was raped. There is no logic you can pin to a survivor for what they have gone through, the way they have reacted or felt. Do not tell your loved one that this happened through their own fault. Do not tell them to “be more safe”/ ”fight harder.” Do not insist on safety precautions that involve them changing themselves. This only makes the shame and blame worse. Do not pressure them to make decisions about their body or legal rights before they are ready. You wish the best for them- which is a beautiful thing. But they need air. Fresh air. Unhastened air. Give your loved one the power they have lost through objectification. Give them the power to choose when and where they would like to speak about their trauma. Don’t suggest reporting, taking medication, or seeking professional help more than twice if they say “no.” Their No has been turned on them before- do not be an additional pressure to their stress. Their healing is on their time, not yours. Trust your loved one. Trust them and believe them until they can trust and believe in themselves. Tell them how much you love them, and remind them of their purpose in your life.
I have told myself since February 28th, 2015-
You Are Not What You Endure, But the Endurance Through Which You Survive It.
And I hope “they,” you, and many others find it easier to hear one another.
I do NOT want pity. I want PROGRESS.
Sadly, my reality is a reality that many can relate to.
Please share this so that it can reach someone else in need right now- we are not alone in any of these struggles.
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.
Love, Chelsea

A year later, in 2016, I wrote this follow-up post about my healing process:

A year ago I wanted nothing more than to fast forward several months and be completely over my situation. I thought it was just another bad event to pin in my book of memories and leave to collect dust. Another traumatic issue to bury and try to forget. But its all as fresh today as if it had happened yesterday..again.
I didn’t think then that I’d still be battling fears, anxieties, and sensitivities to this day. I didn’t think I’d have the problem of having people telling me to “move past it” and “get over it” as if it was a small bump in my day to day life. But I’m proud to be comfortable enough to share these issues with my network- Because I know I’m not alone, and I’d hate for anyone facing the same troubles to think that they are, either.
I can promise I will continue sharing this picture when I reach milestones in my journey back to sanity and self-worth:: because someone needs to know they’re not the only one. And someone else needs to understand that person.
These are my milestones so far:
I have become more quiet and contemplative than I used to be- but I have found that it saves me the energy required to take on the waves when they come.
I am slowly accepting the parts of me that will never die- and learning to encourage the parts of myself I want to grow.
I am coming to terms with the change of my pace, and trying my best everyday to not compare “my best” with another’s.
Most Importantly
Throughout this year I confronted all the layers of my past of sexual abuse- the layers that kept me from loving and accepting myself- and have made large steps in working with my patterns of self-doubt. Understanding the origins of them was only half the battle.
I am overwhelmingly grateful to be here to see another year, (let alone another leap year) and hope to continue nurturing patience and understanding for myself in this journey. It makes all the difference.
May you be well
May you be happy
May you be free from suffering

And today, on February 29th, I write this as both a response and reverence to my former and future self:

You’ve made it. You’re still here. Despite what you heard, and continue to hear.
You found grace and forgiveness without religion.
You re-traced your decisions in a moment of crisis and found reason to support and advocate for any person’s right to choose, and their right to take care of themselves first. You realize now that your decisions would have reflected this in a heartbeat, and now prioritize sexual education for all in your work. And that’s a beautiful revelation.
Taking it all in year after year has not been easy. And by far 2020 has tested your trauma in ways you never expected. You discovered gray areas, and those who have done harm without intent. You found your histories and defenses to be all rooted and intertwined in secrets kept unknown. You honed your passions and fueled your fire, and kept your reactions in check. You checked your progress, and monitored your lows to moderate your highs.
You decided that one day, you’d like to work with rapists. That despite what institutions and the prison industrial complex told you- you get to decide what justice looks like for you. You realized that justice isn’t sending someone away from society, but facing them head on and holding them accountable. Holding them responsible to society not within walls but within society itself. You realized that repentance and reparations are real, and that you have been owed. But that the form of those allowances does not exist in the current system- that the system that has failed yourself and countless others. You have learned that your vision of justice is recovery and trauma work with all persons, not only those who have been harmed. And you have realized that you want to hold an active role in not only your own recovery, but the recovery of others.
You have found your voice through work that feeds your soul in the hopes of feeding others who have been starved of visibility and recognition. You have come out of your shell luminous and contemplative. You have lost so much, yet still stand. And that is glorious.
Life was easier when all was black and white. It was easier when you could pray the pain away. It was easier before you realized that the work was worth it. But life is so much sweeter now. Not because of the sugar in your daily life, but because your taste has adapted to love the bitter.
Bittersweet is where I’ve landed year after year. And for once, I’m not fighting it. I’m riding it with opened eyes and perceptions. Still trusting that this is right where I need to be. And that where I’m going is exciting. My final form. The ultimate crescendo to my crisis- a reborn essence of all lost and mourned.
I’m looking forward to it. And I hope you are too.

Touching Vulvas Helped Me Touch My Own

CW: Sexual Assault, R*pe, Molestation, Masturbation, Ableism, Heteronormativity

I finally, at age 26, I have been able to masturbate with my own hand.

I know that this seems like TMI, or some oversharing over- exaggeration of a joke… but it’s not.

As long-time followers who have already read Masturbation After Molestation and watched My Video on the same subject already know; I have been unable to directly stimulate my own genitals with my own hand ever since I was molested at age 2.

I also had other experiences of r*pe and sexual assault/abuse at later developmental ages that made it difficult for me to even fathom coming to peace with my pussy parts.

I always had to depend on extensions of my hand or others to stimulate me. I shamefully had to repeatedly ask for assistance from others when I needed to take yeast infection medication, or when I lost a condom or tampon inside of myself. For all of my puberty, I depended on cis boys and men to give me satisfaction through instruction, as I could not satisfy myself with the feeling of my own hand against myself. (Until I found vibes and toys.)

And we could dig into the psychology of “why” my body and mind responded to trauma like this- how I, as a young toddler, had to make sense of what had happened to my body by deeming my own body as the enemy. How any other unfamiliar hand was welcome to touch, yet any hand familiar to me became something to trigger me into tears…

but that’s not the purpose of this post.

This post is about celebrating my breakthrough.

Because for years I remained in the closet to myself, terrified to tears of coming out into a world that expected me to be able to turn on and tango with genitals too similar to mine for comfort.

For years I found online connections to try and find comfort in others doing things for me and to me that I couldn’t bear to do to myself. And finding small moments to face my fears and anxieties by returning the favor.

The first time I touched a vulva I was terrified.

It looked, smelled, and felt just like my largest fear- my own genitals.

I felt self-conscious and horrified to admit my own inexperience with my body, let alone the bodies of others. It was always the base of all ableist/acephobic queer jokes: “we are better at being partners and having sex because we know what we like, we know how to do it to ourselves, we are more experienced at it…”

I heard these assumptions circulate in my head repeatedly as I also fought against the other trauma-developed compartments of my brain that told me, “to admit innocence is to admit vulnerability, and therefore defeat.” The part of my brain that had equivocated naïveté with harm screamed in resistance at allowing anyone to know, as I navigated sexual experiences, that I did not have the confidence of someone who had pleasured themselves “naturally.” I had, after all, had years of experience in all other ways. So I tapped into what I remembered as pleasurable and added my own preferences and spins to what I attempted.

And it worked. I went undetected as a “baby queer” as I tested the waters and faced my fears of literally going face first into my biggest fear. (Pun intended)

I found that I could please others with my hands in ways that I had always tried and failed to please myself.

I found that although my sexuality insisted that I expand into these waters, my gender still held me back.

I felt revolted by my own genitals, and as if something was missing. In some ways, I still do. And we could split hairs between sexual trauma and gender dysphoria to figure out why- we could argue that correlation doesn’t equate causation, and we could bring down the house in a rampage against those who uphold the gender binary and rape culture.

Or we could talk about how touching the vulvas of others has helped me be able to touch my own.

How learning to love, care for, and cherish the bodies of others has helped me to ease my anxieties over treating my body the same way. How I learned how to rub, flick, press, and caress others before myself. How I have been exceptionally careful in navigating the bodies of others who share the same parts as myself- knowing the ways in which those parts could be hurt. How I knew consent and communication before I knew cunnilingus- and how most persons I experienced had not.

This has come after an 11+ year- process of feeling inadequate and broken for not being able to do what most other sexually active peers deemed as normal. And this has come after 5+ years of actively trying to force myself to be able to do what I had heard came “naturally” to others.

I was never broken, just different in experience. I was never less-than, just more than others could comprehend. I was never weaker, weird, or wrong- but everyday sexual society made me to feel that way. And me being able to finally masturbate with direct stimulation from my own hand will not be that pivotal moment in the larger population where they realize trauma is valid, dysphoria is valid, and that alternative ways of pleasuring oneself is valid…

But for me, it is that pivotal moment.

And it’s a shame that it has taken me this long to realize that, and realize that my own discomfort with my preferences and abilities has made me an enforcer of these same stigmas. It doesn’t matter that it was unintentional, because the impact was clear. I was trying so hard for so long to be what was perceived as “normal”- to force myself to love what makes me uncomfortable in my own body, and to force myself to not love this same body part on others. To feel like my sexuality and gender are invalid because of my choices in self- love has been one of my largest personal disappointments and frustrations… But that is finally shifting.

I am finally finding love for my body; it’s texture, scent, and reactions. And I am going to focus on finding acceptance for myself in not loving my body at the same time; the genitals that have kept me pigeon-holed in a binary, the small breasts that I have felt obliged to enjoy, the body that has been misgendered… I am going to make myself re-examine the larger social factors that make me feel uncertain in any of this. And I hope that if you can relate, you re-examine yours too.

You don’t have to love yourself first before loving others.

Through loving others, you can see what you do and don’t love about yourself.

Not loving yourself or your parts is not an inherently immoral thing, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise probably has an agenda. I’m not saying that self-hate isn’t capitalized on- I’m just not stating the obvious.

Anyone that tries to convince you that you must love yourself and your body in the ways that the larger population does, or at least pretends to- probably doesn’t have the same struggles or identities as you do. You may not even know these struggles and identities are a part of you yet.

Refusing to question the larger blanket “positivity” of self-love with critical introspection is more harmful than feigning contentment with yourself.

Although I am glad to have “overcome” one part of my life that has bothered me, I am still glad to have struggled with self love in all it’s forms; self-esteem, masturbation, self-image… because without that struggle I would not have discovered who I am.

Had I not questioned the status quo of sexuality and gender that made me feel inadequate and “bad” at loving myself, I would not have found my real self.

I have found my love for others with vulvas, and I have found that it’s okay to not always love mine. It will not make me any less of a person, and the same goes for you.

If you resonate or relate- I wish nothing but the best of self exploration for you, and hope that you find your own idea of self-love… and allow yourself to embrace it.

May you be Well, May you be Happy, May you be Free from Suffering

From Having an Addiction to Having a Prescription

CW: drug use, self harm, overdose, mental health

When I was 16 I used prescription meds recklessly to numb myself out to the world. I was in love with downers, and found myself craving them more than sex. (A feat which was startling at that age.)

I eventually gave up that usage and lifestyle, after several revelations. After seeing my mother cry as I blacked in and out of consciousness at the kitchen table. After finding the list of doctors and therapists she looked up for me, and throwing it in the trash. After losing my supplier to an overdose. A supplier that had once been my old friend, who I began seeing as a complex enemy when he didn’t pay me back money he owed me over drugs. After seeing my other friend drooling over a school desk with her sleeves bloody from cutting her wrists in the bathroom. And still having to cover for her during a class potluck by feeding her chips and hoping she wouldn’t choke.

I decided to quit, to free myself from being the self-proclaimed “pill popper” I consider myself. And it was rough. I realized that I had heightened my anxiety I was already living with, and that I now had nowhere to hide. (Besides alcohol and weed and risky-ass sexual attachments.)

From that period of time onward I would grow suspicious of my use of any medication. I would catch myself taking excesses of any pharmaceuticals I was prescribed, even though none would give me the fully numb feeling that I was craving.

So I tightened down harder on myself. I restricted myself from taking any medications more than needed. I even kept myself from taking painkillers that were easy and over the counter. I didn’t want to become someone I couldn’t trust.

I even quit 2 jobs over pills.

I was a medication manager at a group home and found myself serving the same downers I had lusted over, to clients. Every week. And I found myself wondering and wishing I could craft a way to justify getting my hands on them for myself. So I quit.

At another job this year my sleep schedule became wrecked, and I realized I would need medication in order to sleep…and felt terrified. I suddenly felt all of my suspicions coming true as my fear of medications crystalized into a fear of self, a fear of my inability to control myself.

And once I embraced that fear, I began the journey of quitting that job and looking out for myself. Looking out not only for who I suspected myself to be, but for who I wanted to be.

I had tried quitting weed, alcohol, and caffeine at different points in my life to prove that I had the willpower to resist substances. Alcohol already made me sick from how many times I had been assaulted while drunk, and it was difficult for me to smoke once without wanting to smoke the rest of the day/week away. Caffeine made me feel more alive but also made me feel like I was crawling out of my own skin with anxiety…

I would go months with only one substance at a time, and found that I was able to handle it more and more each year…. so I decided to quit them all at the same time. And see what was really lurking beneath all of the substances in my subconscious.

I sunk straight to the bottom.

I found myself facing the fact that all of my demons had finally caught up to me, and that there was nothing to muffle them anymore. I couldn’t sleep, and my paranoia became heightened. My PTSD became unbearable, and I became irritable. Finding any and everything a threat to myself and my loved ones- I couldn’t de-activate my hypersensitivity. It was me, and only me, in my head, and I couldn’t handle it anymore.

(This was also intensified by external environmental factors that were incredibly triggering and ridiculously harsh.)

So I finally made an appointment, barely holding on to the hope that I would be okay with the decision I was about to make… And did two intakes back to back.

I told both the doctor and the therapist about my internal conflict with getting medication for my PTSD and anxiety, and how my sleeping patterns had become nonexistent. I told them how I worried about my ability to control myself and not take all of one prescription at once, my ability to misuse any drug…and my perceived inability to say no if one was prescribed.

I realized as I spoke about my fears that I had also internalized many of the things people had told me over the years- that I was wicked, cruel, manipulative, and bad. That I was a bad person who did bad things.

They validated my fears and commended me on my trials, errors and triumphs in quitting substances and making decisions to lessen my suffering. They underlined how far I had come in what I described to them about my seasons of sobriety. They listened compassionately, calmed my worried, and prescribed me an SSRI.

It’s been 4 months on my new prescription, and it’s something I never thought I’d be able to have, or handle.

I always thought that I was undeserving of medication for something that I “brought on myself” through experimenting and self-prescribing. I thought that because I had mistreated medications before, that I would never be capable of utilizing them for my own good – only for my own demise.

I thought that I would be weak not only because I needed medication for my mental health, but because I would be unable to take it because of my past.

But I was wrong, and I feel more right-side-up than I have in a very long time.

I am slowly becoming able to regularly sleep. The daily night terrors have lessened, traffic doesn’t make me feel like death is seconds away. I don’t fear every sound that I can’t locate, and I am finally able to handle conversations without flaring into a destructive ball of aggression.

The past four months have been an adjustment, but I have found myself more functional and less frustrated with my mental state and surroundings than I ever have been. And I’ve found myself disinterested in abusing the prescription I now have, for anything.

I’ve realized that much of my fear of myself had become ingrained in who I was repeatedly told I was, internally and externally. And I had begun embodying that to the point where I believed I deserved to suffer mentally as a karmic righting of my youthful decisions.

But it’s not true at all. I have changed drastically, and have been putting in the work for years to be able to be someone other than who I have been.

I am not a wicked deceptive person, regardless of what my addictions have told me. I am a person who has learned to survive life and emotions and traumatic events through whatever means possible. And now I am at the point where I can re-introduce those old fears to the new, developed me of the present.

The me who takes their daily prescription and doesn’t irrationally spin into a fight or flight mindset at the slightest sound or comment. The me that breathes slowly and deeply in traffic to quell the mental images of my body flipping in my car again. The me that observes from a distance in social situations where I have otherwise been harmed.

The me that deserves help.

It’s still a process and a journey, and I can’t keep the world from hurting me- but now I can control how I respond to that hurt. And it’s damn liberating.

I hope you believe in the goodness in yourself, regardless of who you’ve been. I hope you find the resources and support you need to become who you know you are.

I hope you survive the fires, and find yourself in a peaceful stream.

And I hope you find the ability to believe you deserve to be there.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

9 Months No Therapy

When I first left Iowa to come back to Florida, I knew what I was sacrificing-

I just didn’t know how much it would harm me.

I used to have free weekly therapy sessions at a center that worked specifically with survivors of sexual violence. I also used to have weekly chiropractic sessions to adjust and work on the ways my trauma has been stored in my body- specifically along my spine.

But I also had to deal with being in the Midwest. A place where passivity and passive aggressiveness are in the majority of other’s coping skills- and where my own coping skills came in sharp contrast against them. I dealt with foreboding feelings of alienation and fear as the politics became ever so clearly divided and binary right before my eyes- between the hills and the corn fields.

I thought that by escaping back to Florida, where I held personal lineage and history, that I would find and feel more at home, more safe, more held in my own ability to heal. And that I wouldn’t need the therapy and chiropractic care that I had become so accustomed to holding me together.

It turns out, I wasn’t prepared for the devastation of losing both of those resources.

I wasn’t prepared to let go of the therapy sessions cold turkey and go back to depending on my own self-diagnoses and internal therapy talks/chats/check-ins. I wasn’t prepared for my back to once again begin to crack and crunch every time I moved or tried to relax.

I had no networks of free or reduced care to land on- and I’ve struggled ever since to even feel that I am deserving of those things. That I am deserving of primary physical care, much less a stable place to reliably go to for counseling sessions.

Part of what held me back from reaching for these services was the obvious- there was no financial means for me to do either of those. I tried again and again to find reliable jobs that promised healthcare and insurance, or that gave me enough money to imagine the possibility of access to care… but each time the jobs themselves have broken me down physically and emotionally, past the point of return. They have cost me more than they have bought me, and ultimately burnt me to embers.

The other part that held me back was the shreds of denial left in me that proclaimed, “I am okay enough, well enough, stable enough, and that should be enough,” over and over. These were the parts that were adamant to be seen, to be heard, and to be glorified over the aching and bruised parts crying for a return to what felt safe, home, and joy…

But instead I’ve felt grief, loss, bitterness, anger, and anxiety.

(In the past 9 months) I’ve lost persons and relationships to death, misunderstanding, and separation. I’ve navigated the transition from the political support I felt amongst my comrades in Iowa back to the red conservative south, and I’ve felt the rage at the bigotry and bias on proud display all around me. I’ve stuffed and snuffed down my bitterness at the isolation of my location- at the indignant feelings I’ve festered over the low pay for my labor… and I’ve developed resentments toward those in places with more access to the resources I miss.

And, cyclically, I’ve felt shame for all of these feelings. All of these thoughts. All of this processing, all at once. The last straw on my meager camel’s back.

And that’s when I really started feeling the emotional pains manifesting in my physical body.

My hip, ankle, and wrist- all familiar sites to me that have given me grief when re-exploring trauma that is held in those locations- all began to fall apart at once.

My chest felt as if it was being repeatedly stabbed, and my left arm began going numb between the points of carpel tunnel in my wrist and the cavity where my heart meets my ribs.

and so,

Finally tired of struggling within my mental landscape with no other guide than my own experiences, I broke down and went to a community center. I had been holding out from going because of the experiences I had had in similar centers elsewhere, where I felt shame at my declaration of Unemployed, Uninsured, and Unsure of where to live.

Against my hyper-vigilant instincts, I called in an intake for primary care and counseling. It felt like holding my breath and gasping for air waiting weeks for the appointment to come. It felt like time was taking it’s time, making me stretch and wait and tear mind muscles over the yearning and wanting for someone, anyone, to hear me with more than just familial ears. For someone to bring a new perspective to my over-mapped self-analysis of my brain- for someone to validate and hear my experiences without loyalties getting in the way of my voice…

I’ve wanted so much for so long to go back to therapy. And I finally did, and will.

It will come at the cost of prioritizing those costs over other expenditures I’ve been looking forward to, but it will be worth it.

Because I’m worth it- in all my mental and physical capacities that have become hindered by all of this.

I’m ready to have someone else help pull me into perspective, help bring me back to center. To bring me back to myself.

Something has got to- because the anger is back.

The anger is back because the pain is back.

(Not like it ever left,)

but it’s back with a vengeance that is demanding a change. So a change I will give it.

To be continued…

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

Multitudes and Memory

I’ve just returned from an emotional trip to Providence, Rhode Island. I went for the Celebration of Life of my mentor, friend, professor, and favorite housemate; Larry. I hadn’t been back to Providence since I graduated 2 years ago.

Providence is a very particular and special place to me; it was the first and last place I remember feeling entirely at home and at peace with myself, (regardless of the raging work hours and exhaustion I endured there.) Ever since leaving I have fought with my memories… not over the validity of my experiences there, but over the sadness of never feeling quite the same since.

When I graduated in 2017, I didn’t know that the very next day I would be leaving back with my family to Florida. I had assumed I would have at least a day or two to say goodbye to friends who had become family, faculty who had become friends, and places that had meant the world to me as I shaped myself within those streets, walls, and spaces. But instead, I left the very next day in a rushed roadtrip; packing all of my belongings and hastening to the car, very nearly missing an opportunity to say goodbye to my favorite person of all; Larry.

He came outside with his dogs who I loved like my own, about to take them on their walk. I tried to say goodbye with a straight face and nonchalant conversation. But the tears began falling and Larry told me to “stop that!” with a grin and a proud hug. We took a photo with tears in my eyes, and I still prize it to this day.

Upon returning to RI this past week, I felt a surrealness I had never encountered before. A homecoming and daydream walk and ride through the areas I had known all too well. The corners of sidewalks, benches, and bricks that I had embedded with fondness and laughter with those I loved. The same sidewalks, benches, and bricks that I cried on and near, bearing my creative process and emotional life with those who no longer have a mainstay in my life.

I felt the rift and the longing within myself to hold onto those memories as hard as possible these past two years- they were, after all, the only kindness to my current situations that my mind could pull up when I was frustrated and alone.

In the days leading up to the Celebration of Life, I retraced and reviewed the old places I used to work, learn, and live. I cried with gratitude for the times I had, and dug deeper within myself to find exactly what it was that made this place so much a home to me… and why I had failed to find those feelings since.

I stumbled upon two key parts of the equation to my happiness my heart had always known but my head had always hidden- the need for both Support and Resources.

Ever since I left both my school and my job in Providence, I have yet to find another place where I have both Support and Resources. I would either have resources nearby or at hand for my creative processes and/or professional pursuits… or I would have support from family and/or friends.

But never both, not in the same place.

And I have finally come to terms with those needs- what they cost me, what they give me, when I have lacked them, and where I have found them.

Another thought that I chewed on was how my multitudes of self are often pulled apart by people’s preferred memories of me. How my different selves aren’t all that different because I am the commonality; and how other’s perceptions of me have caused me to separate them into genres and truths, flaws and strengths.

I specifically was thinking about how the work I made in school was considered “high art” because it was both conceptual and part of a longer, more technically involved process. And how what I do now creatively would be considered “low brow” art- because it is easier to comprehend and digest and laugh along with in easy gait as I speak with verbal and written form in a straight-forward, blunt manner through platforms not traditionally taken “seriously” in the art canons of higher education.

How even in art, I have discovered my multitudes. No singular medium- ceramics, sculpture, performance, dance, writing, spoken word, videos- has ever entirely stolen me from the other. And within each I have found a separate voice- more refined, more sure, or more confident within the audiences I have chosen to share those mediums’ work with. But I have never combined them all at once, onto one platform, onto one intention, onto one project- and I don’t think I ever would.

I chewed and chewed and chewed on these ideas as I consider the kinds of boundaries that I have had to utilize as I have traveled and met all various personalities and enemies. I have had to protect myself from allowing anyone to see all of my multitudes- all of my dreams, worries, wants, and cans. I have had to defend my work against the sting of those who could care less and only wanted to see why I was struggling to make money- those who wanted to see me fail- those who feigned curiosity over callous. I ultimately learned that defending my work only lead me to believe that I owed them something. And so I learned to say fuck it to the naysayers and create what I really wanted- what they didn’t want to see…

my body and my voice.

week by week.

every day,

I re-reminded myself of the power of my body and my voice.

My ability to see myself over and over again and be able to believe that I deserved that visibility. My ability to speak about my multitudes- the parts of me that felt shame, resentment, anger, and doubt. The parts of me that stunk with the rot of injustice, and the parts of me that cried for months on end in solitude.

Because all of my multitudes have always carried themselves in vulnerability. All of my work in all of my mediums always expressed that. Sculptures, Ceramics, Performances, Videos, Writing, Dance- they always found different ways to explain the vulnerabilities in me, the truths in me, and the narrative, racial, sexual, radical, irritable, sometimes unbearable me.

The popular view of me has always been my strengths of resolutions and ready-ness to work. And until this platform, I never felt the pure, brash faith in myself each time I create to make something as entirely myself as possible.

My platform has been an artistic project for me that I needed- a break from the struggles of pretending to want to be in galleries or theaters or on walls. My dearest most creative friends do all of these things and do them well and make me proud. But it has never been my path. Never been what I truly wanted to do, never what truly got me high as when I taught, counseled, connected with another human over art. Over creating their heart and finding their vulnerabilities. The struggle to stay alive and work solely in these ways is the struggle that I choose.

And when it comes to accessibility, I could think of no other way to reach as many people as possible as Youtube (and social media.) Not everyone goes to galleries, to theaters, to arts districts. Not everyone grows up around urban interactions with folx not from where you’re from. Not everyone is privileged enough to travel and find the help they need- find the resources they need. And I’ve felt that.

And if what I do or what I make is needed, I want it to be openly accessible. I want it to be 100% free, and 100% me. Even the money I raise through this project is for the project itself- to create the most me content there could be. To finally create with all my multitudes at once.

When I finished thinking about all of these parts of me that were aching- parts struggling with multitudes, support, resources, vulnerability- I came back to thinking about memory. How I want to be remembered, which multitudes will come up as people recall what I said or did during their lifetime-

And then I went to the Celebration of Life.

And everything made sense. Not at first- but as it unfolded.

I heard music and came to a church for this memorial that did not seem to fit with my idea of Larry. What I remembered of him, what I thought his personality was.

But they continued on to say outlines about Larry’s life; where he grew up, what age he was when he did what… and then they said, “These are just the frames of his life. Now we will hear from others about their experiences with Larry. With these insights we will begin to paint a better portrait and fill in the vision of Larry that we each remember, to represent him most/best.” (Not sure if these were exact words, but this was the message.)

I instantly knew that this was the message I had been trying to pull apart all along.

That our multitudes are just that- other’s memories.

Nothing more or less you- just the versions of you that have been separated by who you are with, inspired by, or in proximity to.

And I realized that I had been grieving so hard for Larry because I had been putting the weight on my own memory to carry all of his multitudes myself.

I had been constantly trying to reassure myself that I could remember every memory with Larry just right in order not to lose him.

I realized I was only holding one of his multitudes… sitting there in that church and listening to that music, as I began to hear stories of others’ unfold about him. About how he had raised his children at that church, and how he had loved the music played by that particular person on the organ.

And oh, how relieved I was in my grief.

My multitude of Larry would always live on, regardless of my memory.

He would always be in the thoughts of others and living through them, too.

And one day so will I.

And I refuse to die without having shown all my multitudes in unashamed, long-winded, blunt, and wildly exaggerated ways, either.

I am privileged and allowed to have multitudes and be able to develop and hone them over this life.

For that I am grateful, regardless of the creative medium i’m choosing- regardless of those I’m around- regardless of who sees value or potential in me.

I am me in all my multitudes, and I am allowed to be without the weight of other’s memories.

After all, they’re only just long-term opinions and observations.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

Making My Own Way/ Re-Routing Integrity

I wrote the following 3 Months ago, before accepting the very job that I wrote (and warned myself,) about. The same job that took up all of my energy and ability for the past 2 and a half months, leaving me too spent to continue my thoughts or monthly blog posts. I quit my job (again,) after the final straws of anxiety and exhaustion broke my back.

I’ve revisited the draft to remind myself of what my intuition was already telling me before I dove into the perils and efforts of over-working myself for the sake of a $10/hr full-time non-profit wage… And I’m continuing the conversation with myself that I started 3 months ago; Trying to discover and uncover the ultimate happy-medium of work and life… whatever that is.

I just had a wave of excitement and inspiration telling me to start my own shit;
I went on an interview the other day and although I felt like I made them laugh and made a great impression, I couldn’t help feeling my anxieties over the shift changes, the irregular hours, the emotional labor involved in the responsibility over the lives of others. I felt the anxiety of constantly remembering the underpaid hours I would spend wishing I was working on my “own thing”, on being unstable and happy and irrational and full of passion for hours on end.
And I’ve been rationalizing the need for stable hours, for regular pay, no matter how low for half the effort of “doing my own thing.” And now, just when I’m comfortable and content living out mediocrity and what would still be my own special mission- I have abandoned ship. been trying to move back in perspective and see the problem as blandly and blankly as what it is- a decision between wants and goals.
I want steady income. I want to help people. I want to have insurance. I want to have paid vacations. I want to have security.
But when it comes to goals, I want steady income that doesn’t tax my body or soul to levels that hurt me. I want to help people through art and expression. I want to have enough health to only need insurance for random illnesses rather than chronic fatigue and physical issues traced to the very job given to me. I just want therapy. I want to be able to schedule my vacations whenever. I want to have the peace of mind knowing every night when I go to sleep, that I have been making and meeting my ultimate goals.
They say not to turn what you love into a job, because it will suck the fun out of it, the creativity of it…but truth be told that already happened when I went to school for it. Having the full time job of school in creativity made it a burden. And so i’ve already been treating my creativity as a job. I just haven’t made the plunge in making my own separate way with what I’ve learned. I’ve just been hoping that someone at some point would show up and offer me the fees I deserve with no provocation. But if I’ve already been having to make that decision and those moves for myself before, what makes this time so much different?
I finally have a stable home, stable food, and a stable sustainable way of life with people I love who love me back, again. Why waste and rock that stability with the addition of so many layers of stress through underpaid work?
Just because I’d be good at something doesn’t mean I was meant to serve that purpose. I need to keep reminding myself of this, constantly. Always. And I need to never forget it. I need to remember that not every opportunity is for me, and that I need to keep emotional balance in mind first and foremost.
And I need to find and remember the integrity to do so.
To demand payment for my labor, on my terms and in my wages.
To find my ganas de vivir in my day to day,
by doing what makes me most happy, every day.
By following in what I do by examining how it best feeds into my goals.
The problem is always the timing. always the timing.
thinking that I’m totally done today with all the yesterdays worries and whining. To remember that there is still much to do that I haven’t even started. To remember that my privilege (is) in (my) ability to live for free at this moment. (That) time is a privilege I need to wield proudly in the direction of my career decisions. To use my ability to survive for free right now in loosening the shackles of my need to have a ready-made job, with all the comforts that I could only afford with sacrifice. I gotta keep that integrity somehow.

And I’m back to keeping the integrity.

After that job turned out to be everything I feared yet everything I wanted at the moment… And I don’t regret it, for a second.

I learned so much about local resources that I could one day use to help others with, and for that I’m so grateful. Hours of training that triggered and re-traumatized me from Domestic and Sexual Violence have helped me be able to maintain my calm in the face of fear and another’s trauma. Hours of gauging safety and lethality in situations have helped me now maintain a steady head and hand in making logistical decisions in my day-to-day life. And I have pages and packets on so many topics that interest and affect me now, that I could use in the future by being a resource to others.

I could be grateful for days and years but it wouldn’t change the fact that the job wore me out and weakened my immune system to the point of anxiety attacks and collapse. It wouldn’t change the fact that I was taking 3 melatonin, holy basil oil, and hemp capsules just to sleep, and then drinking a kombucha per shift to wake up and relax into alternating shift hours. It wouldn’t change the pain and fear I felt realizing I would probably need to go to a doctor to get something stronger to be able to relax, much less sleep. And knowing that the only relationship I’d ever had with medication was one of no restraint and irresponsible dosage, I didn’t know how I’d be able to handle a new medication.

That last fear in particular was the one that tipped me over the edge in my decision; knowing that I would literally sacrifice my personal integrity for the sake of a full-time job was the last thing I wanted to realize.

But in realizing it, I renewed my integrity in doing what I love and nothing less.

Financially and mentally I’m still not ready to “start my own shit” and take on the responsibility of depending solely on myself to develop opportunities; but I’m going to here on out only take opportunities that make me happy and fulfilled.

I am going to use my privilege in shelter and safety to allow myself to not pummel and push myself into another job that only fulfilled 3/4 of my needs, and 1/4 of my goals. I want to be all in and passionate. I want to be fulfilled and full of life again.

And I want the balance and peace I lost over this expanse of time that I’ve been chasing what media and other millenials claim to be our ultimate goal; a job that makes us look like adults and reliable and smart and financially stable.

Fuck that noise.

If you’re out there struggling with your mental health and the demands of others your age and your social media telling you that you’ll never be anything until you are some ideal of stable and grown- you’ll never get there, and never be happy.

I learned that shit the hard way, and ain’t turning back to personal torture for the sake of professional gain- especially when the profession isn’t exactly the one of my choosing.

Cheers and love to all my millenial, debt-ridden, mentally grief-stricken babies out there. We will get it “right” one day. And not right in the way that everyone else is telling us is the one-size-fits-all version of adulthood; the right way for each one of us, personally and professionally.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

A Word to the White Man

This is an open letter not to the white men in MAGA hats that blare bigotry on TV.

This is an open letter to the White men in My Life who have belittled my existence, overshadowed my pain, and taken up my space in ways that I once thought were acceptable.

This is a letter to the studio-mate and former mentor-figure that told me I spoke too many stories and talked about myself too much. Who discredited artists of color and queerness because “people just care about hearing other’s struggles now,” and “that’s not real work/worth/merit.”

This is a letter to the supervisor who told me that formal education was for sheep, and that I was in turn a “cog in the machine” for taking opportunities not normally afforded to people of my identity. Who only spoke of spirituality through turquoise pieces, meditation, and marijuana- but not about his own role in centering his spirituality over the survival of indigenous peoples speaking in “divisive language.”

This is a letter to the co-worker who assumed that a willingness to learn about my culture was repayment for asking me 50 questions about it while I physically worked in front of and beside him. Who asked me if I believed he would ever be able to achieve salvation from his ancestor’s wrongdoings, and told me that he was drawn to me because he could see my (physical) differences that he wished to learn more about.

Each time I experienced each of your questions, advice, demands- I thought it was acceptable. In fact, I either anticipated playing the role of the sage, the underling, the learner, or the teacher for your benefit. I assumed that this was the way the world was, because it was how I had always seen it played out. I had always seen the labor of myself and those who looked like me at the disposal of white men-

and for these white men who showed such intellect, worldly views, and openness to acknowledging that we, I, even existed- I was grateful.

Because acknowledgement of my existence was all that I could hope to achieve, at one point. No matter the level of disrespect, appropriation, or disagreement that it brought me through your privileged lenses.

You came to me for answers to your questions, and I gave them gladly, thinking that I was serving the world. But I was only serving you. I should have been demanding more repayment and less labor. I was not meant to be thankful for your openness- it only passed the weight to my shoulders.

You directed me with your monologues of unity, and I listened dutifully, thinking that I should be grateful for your sharing of knowledge. But my education was not a ball and chain of uniformity like it was for you. I was not meant to be ashamed for my privilege. You were.

You shamed me for speaking about my life, and overshadowing yours. And you succeeded in making me feel like I should be quiet, that I should be like you. But my experience and voice is not a weakness. And had I known you were speaking out of fear of my strengths, I would have used them louder and prouder.

For all those years I thought, “How lucky I am to learn from the White Man. How lucky I am to learn about cultures, schools of thought, religion, art, travel, and culture from the White Man.” And I thought that those experiences through privilege were a kind donation to my mind when you shared them. I thought that should thank you.

I reiterated to myself that I was merely the fly on the wall, the observer, the assumer, and that you each through pigment, age and class were the objective, the ideal, the instructor.

But I was entirely wrong. I was the objective, the ideal, and the instructor. And you each were merely the fly on the wall, the observer, the assumer, of me. My story, my body, my glory.

Not one of you asked me to tell you where our very interactions made me squirm. Not one of you listened when I rebuffed any part of what you proclaimed as “truth.” Not one of you truly cared about me; only your own narrative.

You began to turn on me and tear me down when my work became stronger. You saw me as a threat, so you dug at my essence. You knew that I once saw you as a friend, a protector, a resource. So you tore out all the resources, jabbed at me under your feigning of “friend,” and discredited my artwork for the very matter you lacked; Soul.

You opened doors to my imagination in realms of religion, philosophy, and insight. You refused to acknowledge the benefits of education through the only means your privilege couldn’t afford you- so you made me feel less than credible for learning what I did through someone other than yourself. You tokenized my race and all the races whose practices you absorbed, and used them for your own benefit. You color-blinded yourself under the excuse of “compassion.”

You shared vulnerabilities and insecurities with me to even our social footing. You asked me assumptions and expected easy answers. You were entirely oblivious to your own ethical shortcomings. You explained “blushing” to me as if I was incapable of doing so. You asked me for recipes of “spicy food” when you learned I could cook. You brought more levels of labor to my work, and still managed to make me feel like I was doing myself a favor for doing it for no pay.

I looked at you each as saviors, mentors, and my unattainable goals.

And I didn’t realize where any of those falsehoods stemmed from- because none of you taught me that. None of you withdrew the veil on yourselves. And if you did, it was only to ask me how to fix it.

I am past the point of feeling grateful for learning anything from any white man. I am past the point of looking up to any white man as my goal, my mentor, my savior. I now only see them for what they are- the positive, negative equations of their personhood plus the inevitable obliviousness of a person in power, regardless of their orientation or socioeconomic standing.

In fact, I am more (In)Powered than they ever will be, or ever have been.

And my only true Goals, Mentors, Teachers, Saviors will all be People of Color.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

Found My Worth

It’s been about a month since my last post, and within that time I’ve definitely shifted back into a more affirmative mental space…comparatively.

Within the past month I have been temporarily working within a sector that I love, and trying not to take it for granted because of “a lack of stability.” I have been putting my heart into it, and trying to remember that this was the work I once dreamed of doing for others. I’ve been underlining to myself that I am back in a state of privilege with sufficient food and shelter, and that I can relax into the warm embrace of family that has missed me. Family that wishes I would un-tense my shoulders, take a moment to live/love freely, and earn money where I can rather than with all my might at the expense of my mind and body.

Within the past month I have forged new relationships and lost old ones. I have been both heartbroken and fulfilled- often feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new human contact I have experienced. I have been spending time with more sober people, more socially aware people, and more sensitive people. I have been spending time with people whose larger parts feed my smaller parts, and vice versa. And I have been sharing my concerns over money with them, while they remind me that capitalism is the true failure to society, not me.

I have been enjoying physical intimacy on varying levels, and learning how to accept kindness from others without their request for emotional or physical reimbursement. I have been learning that it’s not necessary to reciprocate affection in the love language of another- and that true love, in whatever range, (platonic-romantic) will always recognize the language of another.

I have been learning that I have a soft spirit, a kind demeanor- and that I am loved for both. I have been learning that there are people in the world who find my tender sides endearing, and my rampantly intense sides just as valid.

I have been told that I’m not “too much,” will never be “too much,” and am not less-than for my level of energy.

And this is news to me, when others have conditioned me to quiet my tone, sensor my stories, and hold my weight still. This is news to me when I’ve been seen as an embarrassment for oversharing, a less civilized person for my manners, and a burden for my need to be heard.

It is news to me that my value and worth are not in what I can do for money or for someone else.

That my value and worth are in how much I can be wholly myself.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

Where’s My Worth

I haven’t been able to write at all since my last blog post.

The blockage has been full of anxiety and fear, procrastination and excuses.

“I don’t have a stable job yet, I must have that before I can waste my time creating without the promise of money”

“I don’t have the right environment yet, how can I dive into the trauma without feeling like I won’t come back again?

“I don’t have enough time, because all of this job hunting and these side projects are more important than seeking closure with my story”

And every excuse written has taken up a cotton wad of space in my brain, letting soft sparks of electric anxiety paralyze my movements; keeping me from the keyboard.

Even writing this is a rebellion against these electric sparks.

I told myself I would not write another blog post until I had written for my book. I could not allow it.

And the voice within my head yells louder than any other sign or institution of authority I have ever encountered. It festers and woes me into tying myself with sharp knots down to my deadlines. It convinces me that distractions are the answer, and to bid my time with fun and play until it is time to be productive. And because this voice carries both of these messages- messages of threat and care- I become confused and trapped in the headlights, careening into a state of motivation stalled like a lost doe.

I have been observing this procrastination warily, as I am never one to wait for action. It’s not in my character. I am much more impulsive than cautious, and anything internally halting my path from completing my tasks always warrants worry. I know that once it grows to this size, the disease it is planting has roots growing far past my ambition.

And so I’ve raked the grounds of my mind meticulously, mindfully, erratically, and impatiently. I’ve paced over and over the same spot, stubbing my toe and then kicking back down on the dirt, packing it harder in place as a way to smite and punish myself for each day that passes without words passing from my fingers.

And I have grown resistant and weary all at once, after doing these actions so many times over. I have decided to give into dismantling one of my self-initiated rules- and to begin writing again, regardless of the purpose.

To allow myself to at least voice these fears and supposed failures I have felt- And to pray that no one responds with overwhelming positivity or advice. Because the worst thing you can do to someone who has lost their faith is to bring your blind faith to the table for bargaining. To expect someone still in the midst of their struggles to clearly see and agree that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that there is hope for them because there is hope for all. I hope to never be as self-serving or naive as that, should I ever encounter someone facing the same steps that I have taken. Once I get past this process of stubbing my toe and packing my dirt, I refuse to tell another experiencing the same that it simply “gets better” and that “there is still time.” These are words wittled by those who still, time and again, will push the blanket of positivity over a wound needing much more real and raw care than catch-all affirmations.

These are the wounds that need realistic advice met at the roots of the procrastination, of the worry, of the shame.

As I have gotten to my knees to pull back these layers I have found, (as with all roots of procrastination,) a fear of failure. But much worse than that, a fear of causing harm to both myself and others. A fear of undigging and displaying the past in a light that will be detrimental to those involved, and understanding that this sense of survivors guilt will always play a part in my story.

In accepting the depth and horror of what I am preparing to write, I must accept that my excuses are much more than shallow veils of easily solved issues. They are legitimate concerns from a metacognitive mind that understands writing this book could send me back into a regression; that I will need resources to help me pull myself back out.

I will not be able to write my story until I have a safe place that is uninterrupted, and dislocated from the location of my traumas. I will not be able to afford or find space like such until I have a job that can give me the freedom of money and ability to travel. And I won’t have such a job until the universe aligns with me “just right.”

I have found these excuses and fostered them well into a source of self-battery, bruising every attempt I make at writing or moving forward with composing my story. But at least I have found the integrity and ability to write, period. Even if it isn’t “for the book.” Even if it isn’t weighed with the meaning of a longer piece. Even if it isn’t poetic justice for an overdue apology to self- and even if others will still try to wishwash my worries away with outstanding optimism that makes me cringe.

This post in itself is a win in itself, against the pressing forces of my mind telling me that if it’s not perfect it’s not worth it. That If I do not have a job, have my own studio, have control of my time, that I am not worth it. That my story is not worth it. That my work is not worth a thing.

I’m trying very hard to overcome these thoughts that still send paralysis as answers to my anxieties in my brain. I’m still trying very hard to not beat myself up over my own idea of success, and I’m still trying very hard to not allow other’s self-endowed wisdom of success to shoot me down, back into the dirt of my roots.

I am still trying very hard to not align my sense of worth with my productivity, with numbers, with capitalism. I am still trying very hard to remember that the point of all of this was to help others- regardless of the money it does or does not make me. I am still trying very hard to learn how to validate myself in my efforts.

I’m still trying, trying, trying,

to find and understand my worth in a world that wants my story dead.

I forget that I am fighting a larger battle with a larger story that I wish to tell, and that this may take years to overcome. But it will be done. Before I die.

Because I can’t imagine dying without having proven to the world that my story, and our stories, are worth listening to.

We are fucking worth it, and so am I.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering