Monday, November 21, 2011


I think a lot about the past. The things I regret. The actions I made, the naivety, the ignorance - perhaps forgiving others more than I forgive myself. Arriving unsure of where to place boundaries, when to lend myself a kind hand when others would not. I think of the relationships I severed with otherwise close friends, afraid of how toxic they could be when my own emotional habits remained unchecked - distance becoming my safe house, ever uncertain of where love existed. I think of these patterns - how, for years, I was angry at myself for the assaults against me - how I blamed myself for being naive, loathing myself for being "intelligent," an "empathetic doormat," but not keen enough to label abuse and put it in its place, not courageous enough to feel no self-doubt, self-pity, self-destruction, living in a perpetual nightmare where I was afraid I would wake up alone and unsuccessful, waiting for people to proclaim their hatred towards me, to walk away. I blame myself for things, constantly - as if I were always supposed to be aware, hyper-vigilant, unwaveringly kind and sharp - not the girl who bumbles through flirting, butchers intimacy and boundaries in any form of relationship, blaming herself for not being better/faster/stronger (thinking of close-minded and ignorant blog posts such as "trauma feminist" post, wondering if the world of advocacy could forgive me when I mislabeled myself and shamed others efforts with my own ignorance). Pacing, restraining, biting my lips until the right words come out - I grow more and more aware of my privilege of everyday, and saddened by the fact I have it better than a majority of people in this world and still come home feeling exhausted, regretting things, blaming myself, body-tired mind-heavy, remembering in the thickets of my skull of all those who have less resources than me who work harder/receive less/stick out as a knave in the corruption of the economic and politically oppressive systems.

I do not sleep on nights like this. It's almost a punishment, reminding myself of the wear and tear. It's almost like the series of suitcases in White Oleander. Except I cannot pack myself into these boxes, sleepless over the graves of the future, the past that remains unburied with motives I still question, wondering how the symbols fall into place, when the past will end.

I think of sitting in a mental health professional's office, listening to her tell me my depression isn't severe enough to qualify for inpatient hospitalization, as she remarks "getting into inpatient hospitalization is more difficult than getting into an Ivy League college these days," too stubborn to say the words I would've easily said (and meant) years ago, depression so deep that thoughts of suicidality were pervasive. I somehow stopped qualifying the more I learned to deviate from the past, crudely coping on my own. She tells me she's been working with "women's trauma for years," but will not listen to me as I say I cannot afford that type of time off work that she is recommending for a separate program. She acts as if my job is an inconvenience - she does not ask about my coping mechanisms. She is putting me into a box, ignoring the vastness of trauma, and the reality that "women's trauma" is based on a series of oppressions including economic oppression (insert easily found statistics about how little land women own/how many hours women work/how much less they receive than men). I do not say anything: she is putting me into a box, one where my depression, my coping skills, my identity does not adequately fit into.

I remember not knowing my abuser, what abuse was. Being afraid Child Protective Services would find me. Scavenging homes in the spare rooms and blow-up mattresses and couches of my friends. Cutting so many classes they would almost not let me graduate high school. Over 20 medications. Over 15 therapists. Crunching down to bills and $1 in the bank account. Smoking cigarettes and nude modeling. Being involuntary hospitalized once (and almost again). Being recommended rehab. Drinking so much coffee, taking too much classes, working too many hours that my body would not shut down - falling asleep at inopportune times against my will, 2 hours a slot, dropping down to 100 pounds: hospitalized again. The thumb of economic oppression, waiting to lose all that I had been given because I had refused to lie and accept an abusive reality as one that was okay. I remember feeling nothing the first time I had sex - knowing I was nothing but a thing. Scraping the system, body exposed, scavenging for money amidst mood swings. I could not regret how I didn't feel anything, because most of the time I felt too much. Desensitized through vodka, my memories would not leave me alone. Being told of my greatness, my strength, my talents, my intelligence - feeling none of these things: feeling survival, knowing that others have survived "worse."

I wonder how long it will take me to regret this entry, laying myself down before the internet, vulnerabilities and truth: the fact that I think every night of the people I have deeply burned in my own attempt to survive, the fact that I think walls mean protection. So tired I bottom out below the looking glass. I know my whole life people have been telling me (and likely will continue to do so) who I am, who I'm not, what I should do with my life - trying to stick me into a box, label me, give me an identity. I know they will find a way to make a definition stick. I know that I, too, have engaged in these behaviors. It is my greatest hope, amongst all my mistakes and re-learning, that these identities begin to slip away until there's nothing left except the narrative of truth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Preserving Your Sanctuary: Reality with PTSD, etc.

A lot of things have happened to me within the past few years, even within the past few months - and it's been more than a test of resilience. I find that with, having PTSD, every present moment becomes a test in and of itself - a question of awareness and hypervigilance. Being hypervigilant has a negative connotation, in the sense that it presents an over-alertness and intensified awareness of surroundings and motivations. Hypervigilance is sick - people who are hypervigilant have issues - they don't settle into their skin, they don't settle into the moment, they do not trust things to stay the same, constant, welcoming. I am admittedly quite hypervigilant, and half the time I'm not even aware of how hypervigilant I am. But it should be noted that I work in the mental health field and pursue the methodologies of writing and art with the idea that these otherwise troubling aspects associated with "mental illness" can simultaneously be our best gifts and our most creative assets if used properly. So, in this moment, I am very grateful for my hypervigilance: it keeps me alive, and more importantly, it keeps me from repeating the past. It maintains the progress I've made in looking back at my past littered with various abusive relationships, most of which masqueraded as love and self-blaming inadequacy. I mentioned to a coworker the other day that I don't trust anyone or any company or anything that masquerades as "perfect" or "above the others" or "a fully healing process," an organization or person that presents him/her/zeself as the only solution and best solution and full solution to any problem - those people and organizations trouble me. My coworker joked that this was because I was a cynical New Yawka. I responded that it was because, no, I just learned everyone has flaws and chances are, if you're masquerading as a person or company above and beyond flaws, you have some insecurity complex to work out because no one is perfect, and if you look closely into anyone's past, you will assuredly find one moment they regret or misstep. To err is human.

I may be cynical, but as this NPR article on mental illness and leadership postulates, I am also likely very realistic. In all my life experiences and mood swings and flashbacks, I had to find reality and define it every day - and still do. I learned to gauge: is this the bipolar? Is this the medications? Is it that time of the month? Was what that person said actually offensive - was my personal space and integrity violated and insulted? Is this happiness a fleeting euphoria linked to mania, am I genuinely happy? What does this feel like, why am I feeling it, is the feeling justified or biochemical or linked to memory/situation/projection and transference from trauma?

I get that most people don't live the way I do, or perhaps think the way I do. But this is the way I think most days - and I try to respect the world with the mindset I come in with and be fair to everyone else who has the distinct possibility of crossing me. And I try to treat my clients with the same respect and encourage them to fully consider things both objectively and subjectively, so they can channel their emotions in the proper direction.

And being an individual with PTSD, realizing your triggers and channeling your emotions in the proper direction is infinitely important to me and the way I cope with both the present and the past, respecting both and acknowledging the individuals in both - being hyper-aware and hyper-vigilant of myself and my surroundings helps me preserve the present, enhance my future, and help stifle the past from letting it dominate my judgments negatively when it could actually affect me positively through all the warning signs my life provided me.

In the past few years, noting all the turmoil I went through (mostly family related, but largely focused on identifying abuse and extricating it from my life on every level), I sacrificed a lot of things I love for the sake of what I perceived to be survival. I slowly stopped writing or reading at all. I stopped singing. I was hospitalized in an inpatient facility, and the counselor asked me what I did for fun, and that was when I realized I didn't do anything fun as I was left to stammer out: "I just... work." (As I threw fits about them confiscating my laptop, preventing me from completing academic work ;) ). It continued for at least a year or so even after graduating undergraduate studies - reading, writing, singing, doing the things I love suddenly became anxiety prone and stressful. Along this journey, I learned to sacrifice these things because suddenly, they stopped being about me. I met people, who I'm sure had good intentions, try to lead me one way or the other because they saw my potential in various areas and were very determined for me to follow their instructions that would assuredly lead me to greatness. This happened repeatedly. While this attention is flattering and my talents and intelligence are repeatedly noted throughout the various sectors of my life, it doesn't stop these sort of conversations from suddenly turning into a matter that has nothing to do with your ideas or your actual potential, but rather, what people want to see you do with your potential as it will greatly benefit their plans for you, their happiness, their reality and life choice convenience. Which is to say, the things I loved quickly became an otherwise draining and invalidating pursuit as I frequently found my own thoughts on what I wanted to do with my life, what I found important, and what I loved to do became inconsequential if it did not address the other person's needs and desires. If I did not think or love or care the way they wanted to, I was somehow useless and insignificant and wasting my time. Which sounds awfully like an abusive dialect to me.

Something, thanks to my hypervigilance, I am able to pick out incredibly quickly these days. Notably, I've begun to read and write again in bits the past few months, and have taken up singing here and there - of course, nowhere near to the extent I want to be - but it's a start. And I also notably put up with a lot less bullshit. For disclosure purposes, I can say this post is largely motivated by the fact I've spent the past month arguing with an insurance company over getting coverage for my mental health providers.... and is also motivated by interpersonal conflicts at work, where I realized I was putting in ample efforts beyond my status and job description (and have been doing so for months) and have not been adequately compensated in terms of money or adequate respect. With both these instances, I have been very upset - my immediate response was to feel depressed and blame myself or feel victimized that I live in a world where I am "punished" for trying to obtain what I need for basic survival (emotionally and financially). However, briefly after, another voice bounced in, in both instances, wherein I became somewhat passionately defiant and confident and enraged. A voice climbed into my head and said "I don't need this. I know what I'm worth. Shit, they can't treat me this way. I'm better than this. This was my past. I'm not going back there - I'm never going back there. If they think they're going to treat me this way and get by with invalidating my needs and punishing me for demanding what I'm worth and for what I need, they have another thing coming." Which isn't to say this isn't still at least partially depression - because it is. The important part is that due to years of hypervigilance and assessment of reality, I was able to bounce back substantially quicker than I used to - and rather than blame myself for demanding what I need out of this life (to get by without being substantially stressed each month), I realized that the likely culprits who should be blamed are the individuals who are reacting to my expression for need in such a negative and defacing light, that, for a moment I forgot the difference between the past and present and felt my abuser come into the present and impact my mood substantially, forgetting I had survived that already. Because, frankly, I know a personal life trigger when I see one. And when I see the trigger, I know its place, and I know that those triggers come with certain agendas and that my life intention is to stay far away from those agendas, triggers, and power-manipulating attitudes. I am done with all that. And I've noticed the fact that I'm done with all that is very alarming to a lot of people - that this intrinsic self-worth and the "this is bullshit" trigger radar - are not very convenient for people who would like to see my skills and other wonderful qualities pan out the way would best suit them.

I write this not because the "me who suffered severe prolonged depressions throughout high school and college, who lived under an abusive victimized mindset" is totally high five-ing the "me who can now largely compartmentalize triggers, minimize the impact of stressors, and continue on with her normal ADL skills/life as you know it while simultaneously being aware of her worth and when people are stepping on her Personal Boundaries which should not be disrespected," but because it's important to consider. Preserving the sanctity of your reality from being haphazardly power-maneuvered by individuals who would like to conveniently micromanage your worth into something that benefits them more than you when you are living your own life agenda is something that should become daily meditation. This sort of conflict is the type of conflict I find peace in - because, despite it all, I know I'll find myself at the end of the day (again and again), the more I assert my right to live a life where I am safe, where my necessities are met, where I am not impeded upon by another person's agenda and have the freedom to live out my potential as I see fit.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” - Sylvia Plath.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On "Surviving" and Silence

There are so many complications to it: surviving. "Survivor."

I think of all the ways I've been surviving lately, breathing underwater in a stubborn refusal of reality: can't drop out of anything I've gotten into. Suffocating - surviving? I think of surviving - how I haven't updated this blog in what should be considered an absurdly long time for a writer (although I suppose there's been longer). I think of how many times I've come to a blank page with "nothing to say" - how writing my grad school packets becomes torture. I don't want to reveal to you what I know -

"The real question is about love:" Carol Gillian* asserts, "if I love you, will you leave me? It is a child's question: if you leave me, how will I survive?"

And when I say, I don't want to reveal to you what I know, I begin to really mean, I don't want to tell you of this great pivotal source of pain in my life that pushes so many people away, yet happens to have created so much of who I am. I tell myself, knowingly, recognizing it as fair: not everyone wants to know your story - sometimes, it's just too much for them. It doesn't make it better, but everyone has their limits of what they can handle, and that should be respected.

I work anywhere between 30-50 hours a week, dealing with variously traumatized or otherwise injured populations (mental health services, brain injury services, etc.) - and I spend this time attempting to micromanage chaos and crisis, trying to inspire motivation and healing amongst the mundane, the fights, the stubborn refusal to do anything other than watch television. And in this world, I try to pretend my own struggles don't exist - as I feel, professionally, they can't exist. And in interpersonal relationships at work, I make only vague illusions to "struggle" or "dealing with my own stuff" - I grow too afraid to unravel my history before them, watch people ricochet away from me, say things like "she belongs in our services, she's not fit for the job, she can't handle it on top of her own personal history - how can she help other people?"

I smile, oversimplify: "You know - I go to work all day and deal with trauma... and then go home... and study trauma.... It's hard."

I leave out, "and then there's my own trauma to deal with..."

I survive. I go through the day repeatedly catching my chest constricting, remind: breathe. Take in a gulp of air. I survive. And I spend a lot of time involved in my own silence.

It seeps out in dreams of death, of repeated panic attacks in the middle of sleep - dissociating. It leaks out when all I can find is this barring cloud of silence every time I try to write: frustration. It laughs at me as my paranoia escalates over the most casual of conversations, repeatedly reanalyzing the words I did say as if they were so much more worthy and caustic just because they were said. My relationships tremble before me as I wonder how long they'll last, if they'll last when the person becomes closer to me.

I begin living a life precariously on the edge. I begin splitting off from reality, dangerously. Fantasies kick in again and again, illicit if only for the content. Dangerous for their increasing frequency. They suggest another world - one where I ramble, and people listen. One where I confront others and this confrontation is respected. A world where my love is welcomed and reciprocated. I imagine conversations where I detail the ramifications of all I've been through, the consequences of having had my family and my situations - how my present is a conglomerate of the "if I must..." decisions. In these fantasies, people stagger with the weight of living which I am living - in my fantasies, I have witnesses and willing advocates for the traumas I've been through. In my fantasies, I am living in a world where I am laughing, where people realize when you're overstressed and willingly take the extra burdens off your plate without making you feel guilty about it.

I split off into these fantasies, where I am smiling (for once) at the triumphant conversation or the relationship that does not actually exist, leaving the world that's grounding me for the pleasant alternate scenario where hope actually exists and my voice is vibrant and alive. Where the only consequences of my voice are loving relationships, conversations over coffee, late night rendezvous. In this world, there is no awkward stigmatization and distancing, very little of people leaving - and there is generally an increasing acceptance that we're all flawed. It's a particularly unique form of dissociation and coping.

But I always ground myself again: pruning my thoughts and words, reprimanding myself on time wasted. I try to place myself back in reality, reading my homework or attending to an assignment. I concoct to-do lists that I can only hope I'll fully attend to. I remember to be elusive around people, protect stories. I try to control my focus, which tends to wane over the unrealistic for hours. I try to live in the silence which, in an almost disturbing sense, becomes my safe and realistic option. My silence becomes, what feels like, my essential survival tool.

Despite the consistent fatigue, the hyper-vigilance, the restraint, my body clutches silence in fear that it would all be much worse if I were not silent: trying to save up what little resources it has. It is an action that routinely begs many questions:

Is silence healthy or unhealthy?
As an advocate for sexual assault survivors, what example do I set by silencing myself?
Am I regressing back into my trauma or am I recognizing and incorporating my trauma into reality?
What are the limits of (hearing, engaging with) trauma in our relationships and working place?
How frequently do we stigmatize and isolate those who've been traumatized?

And, if silence is required to keep one's community from collapsing, how does one interpret the meaning of survival?
*excerpt from "The Birth of Pleasure" by Carol Gilligan

Monday, February 21, 2011

what is feminism?

Well, I would say, for starters - a good, basic article to read on what feminism is/is not, would be located here:

Aside from that, I'd say that feminism has a lot to do with the concepts of sensitivity, equality, and the openness to learn. There's a lot of systematic oppression that goes in our culture and unless we are the group being oppressed (sometimes even if we are the group being oppressed), we're not even necessarily aware of it. There's a lot of behavior in our culture that has become normalized that really ends up offending/limiting/marginalizing certain populations, and we have to learn to become sensitive, as feminists and individuals in general, to the possibility that we could be offending someone with even the smallest behavior. We need to increasingly challenge our biases and enhance our awareness by participating in what may be perceived as challenging, charged dialects around heterosexism, classism, sexism, racism, ableism, and etc. Essentially, feminism involves the capability to listen to, and attempt to absorb, the stories of the oppressed in an attempt to not only assist the oppressed and broaden our own deepened knowing, but also to help achieve equality, which is feminism's end goal.

I hope that makes sense?

Ask me anything

Something Unresolved

There is a voice in me lately that seems to continually beg the question, "Who are you to speak? What makes you important? What do you have to give the world? Why does the world need it?" It's been separating me from those around me here (at Goddard College) - those who who are apt to find the strength in themselves to pursue their study topics. And normally, I'd only post a blog entry if I had a resolution to it - something others could gain from my own struggle. But maybe something will be gained from the mere fact that I am expressing that I am, in fact, struggling - who knows? I am not perfect, and maybe that is the first of many candid confessions I need to make. I am struggling with the fact that I need to let a large part of myself go in order to let an even larger part of myself in, a part which I have yet to explore or understand. I'm grappling with the idea of self-progress, of determining "right"ness. I'm continually turning around to visit the perfectionist part of me with the new lens of mine that knows it's time to put the perfectionism away, to let the compassion in. I'm feeling splintered - torn in this rift of unknowing. I struggle with the dichotomies within myself, some of which are a result of personal trauma - while other are results of social trauma (oppression against women, for example). And I know I must recognize that whatever I'm feeling at any moment is okay to be feeling, to settle simply into that moment. It is surprisingly challenging, this idea of finding "home" in self.

[excerpt from a study plan preface, with my study plan still pending...]

If I were to summarize, I write,
I think I've struck all the poetry from my body,
a dull axe swaying
in the forests of being -

I jot down in my notebook: Where is home? I write on twitter, where is home for the sexual assault survivor, for the typical woman - where do we ground ourselves? what is our center? If everything were to come together to a right place, what would that place be? What would that place look like? Who would I be, as an illustration of my home? In relation to body, what does home feel like?

The questions linger, and I know they are the right ones. And I think that I must think like Rilke:

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

And I must ask myself what are the arguments that go on inside my house? What is the story, the dialogue it continually returns to? I must lay myself down before my house, open to the exposure and shame of “thawing out” and redeeming myself to myself, a moment in pride and a recital in self. Do I study the movement of my intentions? Or the intentions of my movement? How do I give voice to the body, and my voice a body in its own right? How do I make love a fence lining all the words in my speech? How do I grow unstuck from the patriarchal patterns I have inherited in my family? What dynamics come unspun by my one movement? My mind repeatedly confronts the question: “who am I and how am I to break this chain? If those before me were not strong enough to confront it, how will I be able to grapple with it? How long will it take?” One body with many voices, all screaming to be one fluid resource for healing.

Breathe in, breathe out, let go deeply. If you were to think of one word of what you’d need right now, what would it be –

COMPASSION: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

What are the voices we internalize as women? What are the voices we internalize as sexual assault survivors? What are the voices we internalize as incest survivors? What are the roles we adopt as family members? What are the voices of the traumatized? How do voices of this dysfunctional family manifest? What about the voices of mental illness? The voices of the progressive education? The voice that keeps struggling for its own definition, the voice that’s afraid, the voice that asks for more? The voice that wants redemption sung out loud?

PERFECTIONISM: a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.

There is a need to address the idea of wholeness versus brokenness, society’s notions of right and wrong –

How do we love ourselves in a society that demands perfection?
How do we love ourselves in a society that demands perfection for women?

: division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.

How do we love ourselves as sexual assault survivors in a society that demands perfection for women – that deems we are already broken? How do we recover from the trauma of dealing with societal perceptions? What is freedom?

any code or set of principles containing different provisions for one group of people than for another, especially an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women. Compare single standard.

I have yet to find the answer(s).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

how does it feel to be starting grad school so soon? what are you doing specifically?

Honestly, it feels stressful, mainly. But I think this is my perfectionist talking - I had a lot of things I ideally wanted to accomplish and catch up with before grad school started. Realistically I also hadn't planned on starting grad school so soon, and lately, I'm even remembering the time I graduated high school thinking, laughably, that MAYBE I'd go to graduate school. Such surreal memories. Things changed and I can honestly say the economy had a large influence on my decision to go back to school - after reading so many Craigslist job ads and fending off monthly undergraduate loan payments, I decided it was the best decision for me to make. WHICH ISN'T TO SAY I won't enjoy and didn't enjoy selecting the program I'm going to attend in exactly ONE DAY. I firmly believe the program I selected was the right choice for me, and that it'll likely be beneficial for me on both a personal and a professional level - forcing me to grow in ways that standardized education ignored and frequently reinforced (see: lack of self-care and perfectionist habits). While I chose going back to grad school for “logical, responsible person” reasons, I chose the school I’m attending for the heart of it – and for the passion in me. If I didn’t find a suitable program for me, I likely would’ve continued floundering with undergrad loan payments every month. Which is to say – I’m also greatly looking forward to meeting like minds and I do have waves of excitement about the whole ordeal as well – they’re just currently bogged down by fear of having to change my habits and pondering if I’ll have enough time to execute everything I want to execute.

What I’m doing specifically is a really good question – particularly because I sent in, and got accepted with, a completely over-ambitious study plan that I’m almost certain will be completely modified even within the first residency I attend (tomorrow). I basically want to further my studies, which began in my undergraduate independent study, where I studied gendered sexualized language dynamics (the words we use to constrain or liberate a woman’s sexuality) and the impacts they have upon a woman’s mind and physiology, her actions. I also want to hone in on sexual assault survivors – and then bring more creative writing to it, as well as some bodywork and a bit more background on the basic physiology of trauma. Lots to do in such little time – I’m almost certain my grad program will fly by me in a very cumbersome, challenging sort of way.

Ask me anything

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Body as Home: A Creative Writing Prompt from an Incest Survivor

I was wandering around Nothampton, MA lately, trying to de-stress, thinking about bodies. I'm not sure if, at that point, "forcible rape" had been temporarily pushed into the HR-3 document, but I know I was definitely thinking of pro-choice arguments. I was thinking of generic trauma and recovery, the body's psychosomatic memories. How important, at the end of the day, all our bodies are - that we respect and encourage them to grow as part of our own wholeness. It's a concept I struggle with on a personal level, so maybe that's why I can't get the subject of "body" dislodged from my head yet. Bodies: it stuck, and continues to stick there as an undercurrent. Bodies - and so, (bodies), as I was walking around Northampton, (bodies) I stumbled across this quote: "we may leave a house, but never its memories, its voices," and thought to myself "BODIES! What if we were to view our bodies as houses? Homes for all our memories? If our bodies were homes, what would the story of their life be? How would our bodies be represented as homes? How would we treat our homes (bodies)? Are we treating our bodies as dearly as we are treating the concept of "home"?

And I took that big, whopping (redundant enthusiasm!) idea and I ran with it (notably my whole passage is tinted at and addressed towards my experiences as an incest survivor). So, down below, I'm going to show you what I came up with as "my house as body that can never leave its memories or voices," the natural trauma state.

BODIES! What if we were to view our bodies as houses? Homes for all our memories? If our bodies were homes, what would the story of their life be? How would our bodies be represented as homes? How would we treat our homes (bodies)? Are we treating our bodies as dear to us as we are treating the concept of "home"?
"we may leave a house, but never its memories, its voices" - Stoneheart and Company (Dianne Hanna)

I catch the precipice of my falling at every windowsill, my unspoken screams reverberating against the white walls of my youth, voice shrinking, cluttered, caught stammering beneath the taut barriers of my skin. The beams are cracked and bleeding, falling apart: these are the vessels of the house, the circulatory system, the things that help it stand. Everything overflows here: the grief doesn’t stop for any plumber (nor any contracted relationship trying to clear it out), no matter how genuine and honest. People come and go, and I remain – and my body remains – and we will be at odds with each other until I can see the floors again, when I stop getting splintered from trying to fix the beams of me: Splintering at the touch – is this what it feels like to continue to renovate a house for years with little to no progress? Useless, the voices hang around me: the criticism creaks up at me as I press against the floorboards – “stupid bitch,” it says – and it used to be louder. It fills up the corridors of my house like a great phantom. Like this, I am haunted, with my past on me no matter where I go, strangling the method of breathing... I feel the tremors in my body, the earthquake lying sporadically alive beneath the foundation of my house: every memory surfacing at its own capricious, haphazard leisure. The fires of my youth pop up and spill as if candles licking curtains, the anger unleashes itself over all the furniture, the places I might sit or rest: my body agitated with the persistent burning and dousing: the cooling and reigniting of self. Never dormant: the house continually echoes. There are animals resting in the crevices of all my thoughts, chewing away slowly, scurrying up the brave limits of my sanity. These voices I know are not my own: but they are inside me, they consume me. I am only a person with walls: walls, walls, walls meant to be knocked down and built up again – but I am so much thicker than walls, so easily plastered in the moment: phrases tacked upon me, feelings framed on my very surface. Age grows on me decadently, carving out my features, decaying the connections. I am regal in all the stories I have grown to tell, every limb slung tiredly over another: my body collapsing into bone. An artifact, a testament: I know the damages of my livelihood and the need for redemption, healing, renovation. I seek the carpenter who knows, by vicarious intuition, the thrum of my body’s honesty as vibrantly as I know my foundation.

So, although my experiences with my "body as home" were written from the perspective of an incest survivor, I know everyone has their own unique relationship with their bodies, and therefore, what they write could radically deviate from what I've written, and address topics such as weight, pain, disability, violence, society judgements, or even aging (see "Crossroads," a beautiful poem on this by Louise Gluck), ETC. And I encourage (mainly because I would love to read) everyone to give this prompt a try - and while you don't have to show anyone (and you can keep it as private and confidential as you want), I know I'd love to read some of your responses. Consider all this, please. In the meantime...

Thank you for treating your body as a home, tenderly and with consideration. Thank you for building up your body strong and unique, soft and considerate. Thank you for living in your body at this time in your life, thank you for considering other bodies. Thank your body for being a beacon of self, an extension of who you naturally are.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

you ever think you talking about rape all the time is triggering to other people? just saying.

I apologize that I may be triggering you - obviously that's not my intent. But, with all due respect, it's a subject I talk about a lot because I feel like it's an issue that should be addressed and discussed. And I make that very open on a lot of different internet venues I use. So, if you feel uncomfortable with that, I recommend you filter me out of whatever online system you use - whether it be blogspot, tumblr, or facebook, etc. We all have different capacities for what we can handle, and if you can't handle my discussion of rape, I would encourage you to take care of yourself and shy away from my various internet presences.

Ask me anything

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Commentary on HR3: the bare bone definitions for diehard republicans

"By now you've no doubt heard that one of the signature bills of the new Republican majority, H.R. 3 or "The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act," seeks to make permanent bans on federal funding for almost all abortions by--among other things--limiting abortions for pregnancies caused by rape to those caused by "forcible rape."
Source: Time, The Non-Problem of False Rape Claims for Medicaid Abortions

So, bear with me: yes, I put off reading articles on HR3 for several days because even the sound of bill frightened and upset me. This will be bare bones, as much as possible, as I try not to get too worked up. I am going to choose facts and definitions here. And I hope they, alone, serve as a persuasive argument against the Republican standpoint that currently stands as the majority in the House of Representatives. First, I am going to discuss the definition of rape - via dictionary definition (two different ones actually). Next, I'm going to point out the exclusions that the Republicans want to place on abortion laws for rape victims, further restricting and shaming the female's body. Lastly, I'm going to give you the tried and true statistics.

Rape, under
1. an act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
2. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
3. statutory rape.
4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.
5. Archaic . the act of seizing and carrying off by force.

–verb (used with object)
6. to force to have sexual intercourse.
7. to plunder (a place); despoil.
8. to seize, take, or carry off by force.

And just in case some naysayers say isn't a reliable source, let's go with Merriam-Webster online, the third definition of rape as a noun:

Definition of RAPE

1: an act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force
2: unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent — compare sexual assault, statutory rape
3: an outrageous violation

While I tend to prefer's version, due to the fact the latter is a little sexist and uninformed, they both tend to serve the point. Rape is inherently, by definition, committed through force. And, if you go through sexual assault advocate training, you usually learn that it has little to do with actual emotion or "wanting someone" and more to do with power dynamics and assertion of hierarchy - but, we'll put that lesson aside for another day. Let's talk about what Republicans want to talk about.

Forcible rape

"The bill hasn't been carefully constructed, Levenson notes. The term "forcible rape" is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill's authors don't offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of "forcible rape," making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.....

"Somebody needs to look closely at this," Levenson says. "This is a bill that could have a dramatic effect on women, and language is important. It sure sounds like somebody didn't want [the exception to cover] all the different types of rape that are recognized under the law."
Source: Mother Jones: The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape

Let me repeat it again: forcible. rape. It's a bit redundant isn't it, like someone forgot what rape actually meant? Like they couldn't actually define what rape meant? Okay, I'm aware my bias is very clear here - but wasn't a dictionary available? I spent 5 minutes or less online, typed in the word rape, and the word "forcible" was very easily in view. In the definition.

So what exactly do they mean by forcible rape?

Even in going back through a handful of articles written about this ridiculous (and I do mean ridiculous, as well as simultaneously incredibly life-threatening) HR3 clause, I can't seem to find a definition. I can find lack of definition. I can find implications. Mother Jones asks of us, "do they mean we have to prove it by being beaten? drugging doesn't count?" Open Congress illuminates that the passing of HR-3 would definitely include the exclusion of Medicare abortion funding for cases of incest that occur for survivors 18 and over, and that statutory rape cases would be treated as if individuals under the age of 18 had all the same rights and responsibilities etc. and etc. as individuals over 18 (more power to the young people, but I'm definitely not leading the life I thought I'd be leading when I was 13-14). All in all, as one great article summarizes:

"Yesterday Debbie Wasserman-Shultz came out swinging against the latest GOP assault on women, calling the new requirement that only those who are the victims of "forcible" rape be entitled to government funded abortion, "violence against women" and she's right. This is a strong element of the abortion debate and it gets to the very essence of the anti-abortion argument, namely that pregnancy is God's punishment for female sexuality. (That's so twisted, it's hard to even wrap your mind around it.)"

Which is oddly enough, a connection I sort of mentioned in a prior post on this very blog. But moving along, now that we've established the difference between what the whole world construes as "rape" and what Republicans construe as "rape" (forcible rape?? SAME THING?!?!?)... let's talk about the statistics of rape, and the real damage this bill would be doing.

FACTS: statistics borrowed from RAINN and CCASA (Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault) Manual (namely being used since I had it in my recent training as a sexual assault advocate last year. The copy of the CCASA manual I have was last updated in 2002, RAINN's statistic dates vary. Bear with me. I will state the most current facts.

AN ESTIMATED 1 IN 4 AMERICAN WOMEN is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. - CCASA
61 PERCENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18: approximately 1/3 under the age of 12, 1/3 between 12-17, and 1/3 ages 18 and above - CCASA
84 PERENT OF ALL SEXUAL ASSAULTS are committed by someone the victim knows.- CCASA
NEARLY 85 PERCENT OF RAPE VICTIMS DO NOT REPORT their rape to the police. Rape is the most underreported and violent crime in this country. - CCASA
Factoring in unreported rapes, ONLY 6% OF RAPISTS EVER SERVE A DAY IN JAIL. - RAINN

Victims of sexual assault are (RAINN):
3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Pregnancies Resulting from Rape
In 2004-2005, 64,080 women were raped. According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%. By applying the pregnancy rate to 64,080 women, RAINN estimates that there were 3,204 pregnancies as a result of rape during that period.
Note: This calculation does not account for the following factors which could lower/raise the actual number of pregnancies

So now that I've stated all those facts about rape, and I'm aware it was a handful of 'em, a part of me just wants to go: "Really, Republicans? SERIOUSLY?" If you know 4 women, one of them has been sexually assaulted. If you factor in the part that 85 percent of rape victims do not report their rape, chances are the actual amount of "one in ___" is higher than the data we've actually been able to receive from various governmental and otherwise funded sources. If you have a family, chances are you have at least 2-4 women in your family, AND I'M BETTING one of them has been sexually assaulted in their lifetime (which is a very expansive term) - not like I want one of them to be, the numbers just sort of indicate that this is a common predicament in our culture. A rape culture. One where rape victims aren't believed and have to prove to society that rape does in fact exist and that they, in fact, have endured it. And ahhh, yes, I think we've gotten to the point.

Rape Culture: a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

I would like to point out the word "attitudes" here and almost wish that definition (the only one I could find) included "language," which I did a whole independent study on. The fact that we have to define rape, the fact that Republicans don't even know the definition of rape and have to be redundant and simultaneously create a hierarchy amongst rape victims by creating hidden implications for what rape is and isn't (as no one seriously seems to know what they're getting at and they won't tell us), and the fact that this whole damn thing is so controversial and taboo when it shouldn't be. Because if we didn't live in a rape culture, we wouldn't have to justify "I was raped, and can't handle taking this pregnancy to full term because it reminds me too much of my rapist and the situation that traumatized me." We wouldn't have to justify the choices of our bodies in general, but we especially wouldn't have to justify the ways we defend ourselves after a traumatizing, violent situation that most woman in this nation unfortunately endure.

I trust women, Republicans, why don't you?

Side fact: research varies that from 1 out of 6 to 1 out of 17 men are also victims of sexual assault (CCASA) and we (or at least I) would just like respect and safety for everyone.

If you are a victim of sexual assault and are searching for a great source for healing and reassurance, please don't consult the republicans, consult Pandy's, which will very gracefully walk you through all the terminology, encourage your own respect for your body, and give you the forums you need to discuss your trauma and learn from others.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

what do i do if i feel hollow on the inside?

Remember that feelings are fleeting. And if they're not fleeting, negative energy isn't worth putting more negative energy into. Motivate yourself to think "ridiculous" - believe in the impossible, skip some classes, call out sick. Take on a task that everyone else thinks is fruitless or too exhausting or, well, "impossible" is a ridiculous word I've heard a lot in my life - and is well-worth challenging. I know I love accomplishing the "impossible" - go. for. that. adrenaline rush.

Find a good book that moves you - that grabs you from the dust jacket, or the back cover blurb. Rent a movie that either entertains you and makes you laugh, or divulges you so deep into your situation that you cry it out and art it out (I fully believe in art'ing it out, whatever your medium). Write about it. Paint a bit, even if you feel you can't paint (been there, done it). Call a friend on the phone. Read up on your symptoms and your body - find some natural herbs or hit the gym to get the endorphins running. Read inspirational quotes. Listen to leadership speeches.

Call a hotline if your feelings feel too overwhelming for you. Knock back a drink of two (if you can). Spend a night where you focus on enjoyment - however you get that thrill or warm feeling. Meditate. Write lists of positive things in your life: force yourself to. Remember that "haters gonna hate." Find ways to make your passion happen - whether that be a school program, or a new job, or a creative project you can start for yourself.

Cook a great meal for yourself or go out for a really freaking good meal. Take a long, hot shower or bath. Look at yourself in the mirror. Feel your limbs - remember that you are alive - and that life begets life, naturally breeding potential. Let go of your grief. Sing.

Ask me anything

why do you persistently refer to yourself as disordered?

I'm not sure I've ever referred to myself as "disordered," in that exact terminology - and the terminology is important. Do I have bipolar? Yes. Have I struggled with PTSD? Certainly. Depression and anxiety issues? You bet. Am I disordered? Mentally ill? I don't know. If I ever say those terms, it's only out of regurgitation that [that] is the way society labels people who suffer through the same sort of symptoms I go through. And when I say "suffer," I do mean suffer - in the sense that sometimes it is very unpleasant to be in my head - neurotic, stressful, and distorted occasionally. It's not something I would wish upon other people. Is it something I think is an overall hindrance? Sometimes. But, I also find a lot of inspiration in my strife - and firmly believe that my "illness" can very well be used as a great artistic source - which is basically the reason this quote is on my tumblr header:

"If I write RATS and discover that rats reads STAR backwards, and amazingly STAR is wonderful and good because I found it in rats, then is star untrue? Of course I know that words are just a counting game, I know this until the words start to arrange themselves and write something better than I would ever know." - Anne Sexton

"Ugly" can very well be found in "beauty" and vice versa.


“Everything great that we know has to come to us from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and created our masterpieces. Never will the world be aware of how much it owes to them, nor above all what they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it.”
- Marcel Proust

Lots of amazing, groundbreaking things have come from people with "mental illness." Just a thought.

Ask me anything

do you still want to be a writer?

Yes, although nowadays, I almost care less about the words and more about the impact of the words. Growing up, my writing was very self-centered and focused on the mere idea of writing (the perfect combination of words)... now my idea of writing is based on "How will this affect everyone who reads it? How can I describe this so effectively that people leave moved, more self-aware, or changed? How can I write a sentence so that other people will gain from it (rather than just my ego)?"

So there's been a lot less poetry and a lot more blogging and memoir. And I'm not sure how long that will last. We'll see :)

Ask me anything

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pushing The Limits Too Hard: Burnt-Out and Desensitized Versus Radical Self-Care

Today was one of those days for me where I couldn't help but think about limits: the limits we have that get pushed too hard, the limits that change and weaken or strengthen every day - either by forces in ourselves, people we know, or society in general. I thought of my tendency to do everything at a breakneck speed. To burn out. College in 3 years. Work multiple jobs. Warnings, anxiety around my natural tendency to speed on highways. Running out into the cold with my hair still wet.

I thought of how I get into a shower every day - waiting for the water to warm up, not too hot or cold - but always, inevitably, what was initially acceptable heat, with length, became too cold. I thought of the mentality I got in where 20 credits became so acceptable that 24 credits was somehow logically self-argued as "manageable" one semester. How I treated every relationship with a guy reverently, every slight improvement in the current dateable's behavior over the prior relationship somehow amazing. I think of car accidents - how, at a certain speed, what could have been a minor accident with a small bump or scratch turns into a massive dent, or even, a death. I think of just yesterday when I was cycling so fast on the cycling machine (professional terminology here) that I was doing over 100 rpm's and my knee accidentally slammed into the machine, scraping it (lots of "ow"s). I remember thinking "this could've been avoided if I had just slowed down." But I didn't. And it didn't stop me from going over 100rpm's on the machine today either.

I then think of movies, and trailers like this:

that serve as a steady reminder that we are growing routinely desensitized to the idea of limits - that we disregard our own limits, we blow-out our limits, we forego self-care, and we forego the care of others. We are shockingly burnt-out. Going too fast. Working too hard. Pushing too extremely.

People try to do more shocking and shocking things to break through the clutter. They resort to violent images or sexually offensive images or demeaning images...

And unexpectedly, I had to grapple with this concept more today as I was triggered for the first time today in over half a year, flooded with memories, every part of me disconnecting so fervently and rapidly, blinking in and out as if you were repeatedly seizing (I would imagine), as if you were deftly and quickly yanking out all the power cords in the house and then putting them back in again two seconds later. Every part of you feeling crusted with panic, electrified with fear.

And then all these rape articles began popping up - about Republicans redefining the terms of my body, about trauma studies showing that people with childhood trauma dying 20 years earlier, of the Peace Corps rape increase, another rape kit story that I'm sure was/is both depressing and outraging. And I had to force myself to not read a single one of them because I didn't want to feel as if my heart was a combination of fireworks mixed with poprocks mingled with Minesweeper gone a-rye. I accidentally stumbled upon Blue Valentine, and spoiler alert, discovered a rape and domestic violence scene in the movie - and although I had planned on watching the movie, I had no intention of knowingly walking into those scenes, only to leave more panicked and scattered.

And I left more upset due to the fact that a lot of those scenes were self-justifying - that it demonstrated that domestic violence between a couple was a societally acceptable way to deal with grief, and although it highlighted the possibility of rape between a couple, it still enforced the idea that men had needs that needed to be met (sex) and they deserved it and should have it (despite a lack of a woman wanting to have sex). I left feeling hopeless, and desensitized to grief, but oversensitive to content.

And as I've lived the last few years as a testament to the fast-track, to the do-gooder societal "pay your bills, attend college, make something respectable of yourself," agenda, I've gotten burnt out on reading, afraid of my own tendency to disregard my own limitations, pivotally thrown out of conversations with the frequency I catch myself saying "but that doesn't make it better," or disregarded the moment I point out abuse (which is societally perceived as normal). I have gained an overall sense of hopelessness and helplessness when confronted with the high percentage of justification for violence, abuse, and trauma.... Which is to say: I've lost myself, and have grown highly affronted upon realizing how many others have lost themselves too.

I think of how fast I went. How hard I pushed myself. How easily and quickly I accepted the unacceptable and traumatic. And I get sad that the world reinforces all the behavior I grew up with, learned.

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde

So, I've spent a lot of time thinking, wondering, how it is that I could possibly love myself. Where I went wrong that I didn't learn how to love myself. And while there's many levels of complexity to deal with, I would like to say that this post serves as a beacon, a reminder that self-care is important. That slowing down could save a burn-out. That mindfulness is vital. That love for self should be equally important to whatever it is that you may be pursuing. That you should be one with the life you're living.

I want to be a testament. And I want to thank you for every courageous act you may have taken in the name of self-love and self-care. I want to thank you for being curious about your health, for learning to adjust your limits, for striving to be aware of what is society versus what is you. I want to thank you for seeking others whom actively encourage your creativity and love.

I want to remind you to love, to truly love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Body Tremors: thoughts on somatics, pain, trauma, and healing

I watch as my client tremors, out of control, disabled: genuinely. A belt wrapped around the waist, my hand is lightly tugging, guiding, holding my client in place – helping move one deliberate foot after the next. I am a vessel to guide her: she is a vessel of movement. I am in awe – I think of all our body’s limitations and expansions. How vastly similar and different we all are. I think to myself of how I have never held or felt life so close to me, the spirit of it – the core of it: I watch as my client is forced to display the vulnerabilities unfortunately bestowed upon the body, and yet, still pushes through.

I think of my own struggles with my body. Of how an ex said he could feel me physically dissociate, as if my synapses were fried to the bone. Every communication between emotion, thought, and body: shattered. I think of how horrified I would be if that were to be on display, consistently. I think of the silence I have walled myself into before: letting phone conversations drop when the words became too heavy to announce. Real life conversations with expectant stares and annoyed tones. I try to imagine someone’s hand tugging at the words inside my throat, one stranded stutter of a grief cry after the next – every sad moment, estranged and wandering helpless without proper support. I imagine that to be the best possible metaphor: my writing as the vessel for my body.

It is in that one moment today that I realize how precious the cliché sentiment is of “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” or “even if your voice tremors, you must speak,” more aligned with the thought that even if our bodies tremor in the face of forward movement, we must trust that there is a safety net – that we can create safe spaces for our bodies.

As I convince myself to go to the gym yet again this morning – partially to offput the weight I’m gaining from my medication, partially for endorphins, partially because “I should” – I know I’m not fully into it. I don’t buy what I’m selling. I don’t tap into my body. I know this. Several times over, I’ve tried to write out my feelings towards my body – it is not a love letter, it’s a hate letter: it’s a “you’re getting in my way” letter, or a “you’re ruining my serenity” letter, or “I blame you for holding all the memories of my trauma” letter. It’s not pretty. The ink runs thick on the page and it feels like a stabbing more than a release. My body would be ashamed of me.

I treat my body a lot like my abusers treated me, and I am ashamed of that – and yet, I still can’t turn my eye towards my body. As I cycle away in the gym (literally), I’m sitting there with my iPod touch, tapping into the internet. Go to facebook, get to twitter, check into foursquare: keep the mind busy, preoccupied off the body. The moment I run out of internet things that I can feasibly check on an ipod, my attention is forced upon the cycling machine, and the numbers seem rude. Calories. Time. It never seems like enough. My body wants out. My mind wants out. I only go in for 30 minutes a few times during the week, and I’ve rarely left the gym going “oh was that it? Time’s up?”

My body says: you push me to the limits. You don’t care about me enough. You put me through sleepless nights and go to work when you’re sick. You push through migraines and nausea. You treat me like an infidel – you ex-communicate me. Why don’t you listen to my needs?

My mind says: you are only the vessel to my needs, the means to an end. You are full of emotion and inconvenient feelings, aches that don’t go away. You are stopping the flow of my potential. You ruin everything.

Ah, there’s the rub.

My mind says, Where’s your safety net? You’re a hazard. People have violated you before.

My body says, You need to let go and trust, let the air form around your body so that it knows what to catch. You need to be mindful of the space you preoccupy.

I drop into the silence in my car - for once, I am mindful of the space I occupy. Peeling off the static layers of “must do’s” and “ought to get around to”s, I compartmentalize in a way I usually don’t – I am a small body in this car, and this car is occupying a small space on a long stretch of highway and I am moving at a speed that is o-kay when I’m not rushing and I shouldn’t be rushing. I should be observant, mindful. I feel my wheels as if they are my own feet, rolling across the pavement: they move effortlessly forward, gearing towards whatever direction I steer them to go. I am mindful of this. I am mindful of this silence. I am mindful of my body. I feel all these layers of existence at once.

And I wonder how many more letters I will have to write to my body that are full of hatred, when the love letters will come. I wonder about the calm, the settling, the balancing. The mindful chaos. Every tremor a justifiable collapse into the relief of future hope and redemption.

And with thanks:
thanks for letting your body tremor into it’s safety net,
thanks for letting your voice whisper despite the roaring winds,
and thanks for daring to breathe despite the weight of your being. And yes,
thank you for moving when moving seemed impossible.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On Valuing Our Bodies: Roe v. Wade 38th Anniversary edition

I've never known the conflict of maternal instinct versus reality - I have never had to confront the decision of "abortion" or "life," or more specifically, my own life with a child's life - or even, my life and then the life of my child in the hands of another mother. I could not grasp the complexity of the situation if you asked me to. I want to make it easy in my head, because I am human - and human beings want to be in control of things, make easy black-and-white decisions. So, I say now, if you asked me, if I were confronted with a pregnancy scare, I would most likely choose abortion. But it's not for selfish reasons, it's not because I don't care about my body or that unborn child's body - it's because I'm petrified of the life my child could live. I'm petrified of a world that teaches us not to trust each other, and I'm petrified my child would inherit some of my own horrible genetics (see: bipolar), and I don't trust myself to be healed enough to fairly take on the weight of a child and give this child the love she would need to live a healthy life. I barely support myself. I think of these things. I think of two of my closest friends who are both my age (21) and are currently invested in motherhood, who are both pro-choice like I am, and chose to bring life to the world. One of these friends is having a baby that was a product of date rape. I think of how strong she is, how strong that baby will have to be, how tough this world is. I think it takes courage to raise a child correctly - to raise a child with love, and not fear. And I'm not ready yet. And I think it's equally courageous to admit your own limits, your own flaws, to make a jurisdiction over your own body and life, to think cautiously. As someone on the interwebs said in response to the Naomi Wolf rape apologist debacle, "I think we need to remind her that although speaking out about rape is brave, not speaking about your rape doesn't make you not brave."

I think we underestimate the intelligence and power in every woman in her knowing her body and her cycles and her life, the more we lean towards "pro-life" under the misconception that women are just using abortion as "the easy way out" as if it were some fad akin to drugs or as the adage goes, "If ____ jumps off that bridge, would you jump off that bridge too?" The preciousness of life scares me, the feeling in a moment overwhelms me. And I know that to pretend others don't feel this way is absurd. I do not know one person who has carelessly made a decision to have an abortion, who has not critiqued her own self before weighing the options. And it scares me that women who make smart choices are being judged based on the decisions they make with their bodies (whether it be to have the child or have an abortion). It's a trauma in and of itself.

I told my friend Amelia that I would work on doing a blog entry for this blog commemoration, and at first mentioned I had no idea what I would say. My expertise and field knowledge is not in pro-choice roe v. wade liberation movement - it's in trauma. I didn't see what I could write about, until I realized how easily one could mesh into another. Which is to say, women are frequently victims of abuse (sexual, emotional, physical) due to a hierarchy that actively seeks to oppress minorities, and give those who already hold power - more power. And I know that the majority of pro-life supporters are Older White Christian Males who have never first-hand dealt with this complex situation before. And I know that Older White Christian Males tend to top the power scale. And I know that in a high percentage of situations women do something that the oppressor's don't like, the sexuality gets assaulted, insulted, controlled, boxed in. The women become "whores," "loose," unintelligent, etc. And the more sexualized and uncontrolled the woman is perceived to be, the less she is listened to. Coincidentally, although I don't know the statistics within the population of women who have had abortions, I'm guessing there's a high correlation between women who have had abortions and women who's sexuality has been insulted or assaulted... if only because pro-choice sets the standard that a woman is in control over her own body and her own sexuality, and that idea is frightening to society. Similarly, a victim of trauma will also find her body being judged for what's occurred to her and what decisions she made - what was she wearing? what time of day was it? was she watching her drink?

And I get furious. And I go back to my academic papers, and shuffle through to find the quote that's setting off a glaring, loud alarm off as I think of all this:
“Whether or not a girl is targeted because of her sexual behavior, the effect is nonetheless to police her sexuality.” - Leora Tanenbaum, Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation

And I think to myself, yes, Roe v. Wade is more than just pro-life or pro-choice, it's about our bodies - every single one of our bodies, and how precious they are - it's about valuing our hearts, our integrity, our intelligence WITH our bodies, it's a movement of bodies that need to be valued, where all lives (born or unborn) need to be valued. It's a movement that says we need to trust that women will make smart decisions about their lives and the lives that will come after them, that women know their bodies and listen to their bodies, that women want to give the world a precious life if they can bear it - rather than risk the lives of two. Roe v. Wade, debates of abortion, are more than just abortion - they're asking if we trust women to be whole as a whole, it's about giving women a life without dichotomy, with both the intelligence and the responsibility of their own sexuality (rather than name-calling and slut-bashing or madonna-praising) so that they can make the choice to respect every body.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Transformative Language: To Live Validating Love (3/3)

To Live Validating Love
More on the Transformative Language Arts conference and what I learned from my corresponding Transformative Coaching Session

(see prior posts here:
Transformative Language part 1
Transformative Language part 2)

Which is to say perhaps it was a struggle of something different – between chaos and order. Between the inaction and action of self. What could be contained versus what was overflowing beyond my control. The recklessness of my own passions, the truth behind every forward motion: I wanted to destroy what had put me in this place to begin with – I wanted to destroy the thing or things, the set of people (or persons) who had made me hate myself, I wanted to tear apart every person who said the arts didn’t matter, I wanted to start a revolution where everything pulsed forward beautifully from even the most horrific corners of my mind. I wanted my revolution to be that of love – I wanted it to make up for my lack of love, I wanted to drain the anger out of my own system, I wanted to show them how daring a caring towards creation could be. I wanted to make an example of their dysfunction manifested in me.

And so, I’m really saying “I hate the system that trapped me into thinking perfection was necessary for life. I hate the system that automatically makes us distrust one another, oppress one another, put one another down for another’s gain.” When I get frustrated with labels, it’s because I’ve frequently found they do more harm than good – because every time someone has given me a label, something as simple as a declaration of “You are 21,” they have immediately standardized me into something I might not be and that’s frustrating. And I hate that I have to use the “oppressor’s tools” to dismantle the oppressor’s house, labeling myself for the convenience of mainstream society – some sort of insurgent anarchist linguist, slowly hoping to change misperceptions they more she says “cunt,” and doesn’t flinch, reminding people that Cunt was once a title of respect, thank you very much.

I want to believe in the better of mankind. I want to believe in the better of myself. And I want to trust myself enough to know that I have my anchor firmly planted in healing and not sinking in the dysfunction of a never satisfied society. These are scary waters to be treading, and I ask myself every day, “are you ready for this?”

My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others…

Breathe in, breathe out – I make sure to take deep breaths when this happens: my jaw clenches, my chest tightens, everything locks inside me. Hold down the fort, don’t let anything else in. Stress. If my rage at this lifestyle, the one society produces and repeatedly reinforces, were allowed to grow – it’d tear down a fucking nation. I get frustrated at my inadequacy, my sole nature of being only one, of hearing so many people consistently shoot down the idealism that comes with wanting to rebel and be happy about it (as opposed to being consistently, and stereotypically, angry and radical). Abby Hoffman is my hero for that. I would and could and have gotten crushed by the weight of people’s bitterness, depression, hostility, and hopelessness before.

My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others…

Transformative: I want to be transforming. Which is seemingly more difficult as I get older and things generally seem to affect me more – learning, absorbing: impact. It involves either the ability to remain in the present moment and treat it with due respect, or the capability to recognize that your daily efforts towards transforming yourself are enough (rather than the guilty voice inside your head chanting ‘more’ may have you to believe). Or maybe it’s both these thing. I’m really awful at both, though.

My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others…

And as I think now about how I’ve dealt with chaos and order, with anger and love, with living one emotion so supremely – it’s generally been when so many things have accumulated in my life that I have no other choice but than to accept, acknowledge, and indulge the feeling. Unfortunately, in my case, I’ve frequently adapted to chaotic change through depression or anger – where the world filled me up with so much distress and heartbreak and betrayal, I felt no other option other than to lash back out at the world. Never love. How do we respond to the world in love?

My life purpose…

I think of an article I read lately on Tiny Buddha that provided a very vivid metaphor for me to latch onto – the idea of our love being tanks of gas. Is your love tank empty or full? Due to the fact I’m really awful at self-care, my “love tank” is almost always on empty. But rather than make time to walk or listen to music or write, like I used to, I find all my spare energy is being put into stress. I refuse to accept the reality I live in: one where good intentions and hard work don’t seem to be enough. And I get scared: because I don’t know how to love myself, and I know that in order for me to create any sort of effective loving rebellion around me, I must first be a beacon of that myself. If I refuse to accept the reality around me, I must embrace the fact that I need to create my own separate reality and enforce it upon the world around me, by just my sheer presence existing under the idea and principle of love.

Love is:
- Being in the present moment
- Being a radical self-care activist
- Learning to listen to the news that may hurt
- Embracing pain as part of healing
- Knowing one’s limits
- NOT perfection
- Taking responsibility for flaws and mistakes, and treating the moment tenderly
- Forgiving yourself and others

“Don’t limit yourself to a particular job,” my transformative life coach (Deborah Howard) reminds, “speak your life purpose out loud every morning, every night.” My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others… For all my caring, I can’t help but struggle with it – with making sure to not see it as a goal to be accomplished, with putting myself first (rather than the bills or what other people think of me), or even in simply accepting the large proportions of the words and what they mean to me. It was easy for me to turn something I love into a “should” (if I can do this, and I have the potential to do more, I MUST BE MY VERY BEST), lock myself into certain career boxes, and generally follow those “you will be successful if…” tips. I made healing a rigorous agenda I attempted to repeatedly beat over the head and demand into submission. Shockingly, my recovery process does not listen to my authoritarian ambitious type-A Alpha Girl. It listens to 10 year old Victoria who, when getting pissed at her father one day, ran away to the library (that’ll show him) and spent all her spare money on candy (even though she had braces). Fuck yeah, candy.

“You can’t be tight and in control, if validating,” she reminds.

My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others....

And the craziest part of all of this was that these words, my life purpose words, were my choices – strung together by my happy, euphoric, fulfilled memories; compiled by selecting words that stung me electric; thrown together randomly, excitably, all active. This is what I chose. And even though it overwhelmed me at first, and seemed like a goal at second time around, it struck me the first time I heard it.

Which voice, amongst all these life demands, is yours? It cornered me. How do you carry this? I asked myself. Where will you take your love, how will you form your love? When can you begin life again?


Always, now.

And so I will end this blog entry in a way that my friend Jen seems to consistently end hers: with thanks.

Thank you for your presence. Thank you for learning, knowing, and healing. Thank you for struggling for life. Thank you for your unique purpose. Thank you for your words.

Transformative Language: An Inner and Outer Sense of Justice (2/3)

An Inner and Outer Sense of Justice
On the Transformative Language Arts Conference, and then some…

(see prior entry: Transformative Langauge part 1)

"Kheuta: an inner and outer sense of justice."
"Where language and naming are power,
Silence is oppression,
is violence." - Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence

"It is possible that I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through
and no space:
every thing is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don't have much knowledge yet in grief -
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master, make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me
and my great grief cry will happen to you."

- Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Robert Bly

In all honesty, I think the poem chooses me, and I’m not quite sure if it’s just a human penchant towards finding meaning where none actually exists, but nonetheless… Rainer Maria Rilke seemed to appropriately summarize what I was going through at that point in my life. And it didn’t take me long to grow entranced with my own discontent there, muddled deep down in the “stuff that matters,” the psychological catch-up. The economic chutes and ladders. I remember walking into the conference, thinking how desperately I wanted a cigarette, and yet I didn’t see anyone else smoking. Exaggerated malcontent. Peer pressure. I noticed the age gap. I noticed how fervently they believed in what they were doing - and in the cynically romantic way I lived in that moment, I didn’t realize that I was living a life where I didn’t believe in anything. I both sought out their guidance and resented their degrees. I didn’t want to keep feeling the need to defend the negligence of my physical age. I felt tired and small, worrisome and overloaded. I felt overambitious and unenthused. I kept pressing my pen to the paper, only to discover the faucet was tapped – there would be nothing coming out. And yet again,

"birds sing to call us back from our many deaths" and Kim Rosen’s voice floats inwards, towards the “psychic,” as the mind is called, and immerses me in the sadness of my own creative expiration, the rejuvenation in the movement of phrases, the hope in simply clicking into the rhythms, listening to tone and accumulation.

Yes, the same old story plays itself out again: artist seeks a community, an abandoned child seeks love, a beaten down woman seeks redemption when even she cannot forgive herself.

the air is charged with unsafe syllables, I begin to write in my notebook,

echo of the children's murder, I continue,

one house wall crumbling beside the next,
brethren in war.
All the mirrors elongate their eyes for
the shoulders that are still searching
for their shadows. How beautiful the
apocalypse of an unexpected moment
To grow up constantly measuring one's feet,
arching backwards, looking forwards,
leaving every surface untamed. The mirrors
hang their heavy heads on the lightposts,
curling around the lonesome tongues
peddling for the scraps of creation. So many
homeless phrases, texts crawling forward from
the sewers, the gutters in our veins. How
desperately we have been betrayed by our
silence, bound by the ellipses curling our
toes. Stumbling forward from the timid
ache of realization, the trauma of
the cold sun that yearns to break the frost.
These children have beckoned the seasons...

Yes, the rare unburdened moments of natural breathing upon paper, my body guiding my hands to write as Kim Rosen slides through her “poetry dive.” My notebook knowingly shoulders the truth I only barely admit:

"How I do not trust the world to provide for me,
the lungs of hypocrisy.
So curious, the strangers of fear..."

And yet, my mouth places the filler in the gaps a few months later: My life purpose is to live validating love, effortlessly helping myself and others….

It’s a tall task, I’ll say on the phone, and I’m competitive – I just want to view it as a goal at first, something that can be checked off a to-do list, accomplished in a liner “if… then” fashion. As if life was that simple, but remember:

“I can’t fake it. I get afraid. I get afraid they’re going to take it all away from me again – that I’m going to let them. I’m afraid of opening myself up for the loss. I’m human. I’m not perfect. And these are scary sentiments for me to admit, no matter how simplistic and obvious they may be. But it’s shut me down.”

It was easy, natural to begin cupping myself into the pockets of my own loneliness - a word perhaps ill-advised for the sentiment. Independent: another inaccurate word. But there I stood like a beacon, pushing everyone out so that I could let the words come in. One night, half-desperate to break my own silence, I huddled in a corner with laptop in hand, alternating between crying and staring into the blinking white screen. People walked by, and I clutched to my silence, attempting to strangle the truth out of it. A forceful liberation for a self-learned abuse. Feeling like they all looked at me as if I was something meaningful (a message of the future of writing, a message of transformation, a message to be dismissed, but a message nonetheless), rather than a younger person grappling with the frustrations of my own healing. I came from the mental health profession in the sense that my own mental health was of utmost importance, and writing is something that has helped this - and writing is a profession that I always seem to swivel back to. And again, different than the majority of people who can consolidate and simultaneously extend.

We must be bigger than the sound, but smaller than the ego." I scribble in one corner amongst all the pieces of paper flung together in my folder. But I do not share most of what I’ve written – the word absurd seems to stick and knead itself into the majority of my experiences there.

Absurd: a lot of my time spent within the conference was divided into the two minds of the modern society - torn between self-nurturing, and the mechanical self-seeking mind that tries to motivate oneself to survive, the careerist. This is to say: I spent a lot of time out of my body and in my head. I divulged the words, the paths, the college, in isolation. I purposely splintered off, living a life at whole, in general, something akin to this: How to Be Alone. I spent my precious moments during the POW (Power of Words) conference searching for, as the video states it, "peace and salvation." And, considering the reflective nature of writing, it was not hard to splinter off and be reflective and let the understanding pool around me. "Lonely is healing if you make it."

"a lovemaking, not a conquering" - it sticks with me, even though I forget who said it. "Most of my dreams are of fear,” I reveal anonymously, hidden amongst the pack of dream-weavers, “distant,” I reinforce, “- I am running away from, falling out of, failing. There is rarely a dream I have that I want to be dreaming. Nightmares."

“Lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite” - and, as Kim Rosen instructs us to come prepared with our favorite poem, to practice memorization, I catch myself proclaiming: “I have been her kind”. Yes, “I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh”


“and my ribs crack where your wheels wind”

so loud, these labels

“A woman like that is not ashamed to die”

I am pumping back and forth on the swingset – age, sex, gender, education, survivor? victim? survivor? victim?

“I have been her kind.”


I am responsible for every moment, every response – and I spend the majority of the conference stuck in my own consciousness, debating these labels as if measuring my own importance by the amount of checkmarks I fail to meet. I could not say anything glamorous about the conference, if you asked me - but, to be honest, I could not fully convince myself to say anything towards any thing with a gushing amount of praise. I could tell you that rather than poetry, I got lost in the linguistics of my existence – the politics behind my presence. I saw what I wasn’t rather than what I was, I saw the ghost of my perfectionism, and embodied it. I moved around singularly, cautiously, jaded - cynical in the sense I believe that to the greater extent, the change must come within me - and as an ex once said to me, "Anything you got out of this was all you."

But I can say that the reason I did attend the conference was to be me, which is to say it was to make beauty from my pain, and it was to remind myself that I have choices - each one of these aspects phenomena within themselves.

Every atom of me wanted to understand why I kept circling towards pain, this conference: another manifestation of my struggling, every moment a seizure-split between beauty and chaos.

Transformative Language part 3

Transformative Language: Riding the Line Between Death and Creation (1/3)

Riding the Line Between Death and Creation

I can’t fake it. I get afraid. I get afraid they’re going to take it all away from me again – that I’m going to let them. I’m afraid of opening myself up for the loss. I’m human. I’m not perfect. And these are scary sentiments for me to admit, no matter how simplistic and obvious they may be. But it’s shut me down.

As I was driving to NY to see my friends on New Year’s Eve (after almost talking myself out of doing the same exact thing), I began fiddling through the radio stations and fell upon this one song:

I remember years ago
Someone told me I should take
Caution when it comes to love
I did, I did

Tell them all I know now
Shout it from the roof tops
Write it on the sky line
All we had is gone now

Tell them I was happy
And my heart is broken
All my scars are open
Tell them what I hoped would be the
Impossible, impossible
Impossible, impossible

Falling out of love is hard
Falling for betrayal is worst
Broken trust and broken hearts
I know, I know”

- excerpts of Impossible by Shontelle

I had never heard this song before – probably because I usually don’t listen to the radio too much – but I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect song to summarize my 2010 experience. Not in the cliché romantic “I lost a great love sense,” but “I gave all the love I had, and the world around me warped it. I had such high beliefs, and the world crushed me. I was so great in all I wanted to give, and was shattered by the same strength of my own ignorance for what the world had in store for me.”

Most people who know me will identify me as one of the most passionate people they know. I use to love this, revel in it – it was who I was – if I was going to be invested in something, I was going to do it fully. Even in high school – a teacher wanted 6 poems in the portfolio? I DID TWELVE. You want a research paper? I’M GOING TO READ ALL BOOKS, RATHER THAN STUDIES. Ambition and passion are qualities that seem to occur in me naturally, but seem to backfire when I don’t know my own limits – when ambition and passion forgo self-care.

So, let me sum up 2010 in all its destructiveness (and out of all the best intentions it may have been orchestrated):

I started the year in the midst of transitioning: from the fall semester of my senior year to the spring one. My fall semester ended with me somehow miraculously getting all A’s and an incomplete, with me recovering from a semester of continuous nausea and migraines that lead to a severe weight drop, where I sat firmly at 103 pounds and could consume nothing other than smoothies and medicinal marijuana products. That’s right, so severe that I had gotten a medicinal marijuana license for it (and even though I’m in a different state now, I still keep it in my wallet, because no one believes me). I then spent my whole winter break divided between working 20 hours a week and working on my 50 page paper for the Independent Study I got an Incomplete in. I got an A on that too. I kept the year of 2010 going with taking 20 credits and working 13-18 hours a week (which is surely downsizing from 24 credits the prior semester). I left school so burnt out that I still don’t write and read as much as I used to. After graduating, all I did was go to work and then go home and watch netflix. I somehow still kept my GPA up, but my passion sure took a beating. I graduated college in three years, despite Fort Lewis being my third college, despite moving from NY to MA to NY to IL to CO, despite personal issues, and still did it with honors. I formed my own major. It would really stand as the definition of impressive if I didn’t hate it all so much. I hated all of undergrad. Even after I made my own major, I couldn’t get invested in my classes too thoroughly. And it was that last factor that was heartbreaking to me. That I was spending all this time and energy on things I was supposed to love – until learning became systemized, until passion became constrained to due dates, until what I felt was important had to be passed and proved in front of an administration who then capped what I could and couldn’t do with my studies based off what they had available and thought was okay. My own vision didn’t matter in my own major. At the end of college, there was nothing left of me: my love, my good intentions, my passion.

My personal relationships fell to shit – 2010 was one bipolar fit after another (literally), and in one existential crisis after the next, I realized I was surrounding myself with all the wrong people. And I lashed out at them for this. And they lashed right back at me. I was not even slightly compatible for the environment I was in.

My body fell apart – after recovering from chronic migraines and nausea, and severe weight loss, I would be hospitalized for severe insomnia. I’d bounce back from that and my migraines would come back and dissipate in waves.

My version of love became hard to get a hold of. I looked towards all the wrong sources. I became so confused – living under the assumption that life just had to get better, that I’d learn things and apply them and never make the same mistakes again, that I’d progress – you know, linearly. I figured I could approach new situations with clarity and some sense of calm neuroticism, being able to distinguish between “do” and “do not do,” and furthermore, “who will be a loving person,” and “who will be an abusive person.” Towards the end of 2009, I discovered a person who I thought was very much a loving person (and treated me the best of any guy I had dated) was very much an abusive person to someone else. This put me in a world of very self-loathing-confused grey for the majority of 2010. That was my new version of “love,” and it was being tossed down right back down the drain.

And no matter what happened, I frequently kept running on energy I didn’t have – I’d take on projects and volunteer for efforts I couldn’t put my all into. I kept trying to convince myself things would just go back to normal now that I was no longer in school. I began working a job with the conviction that it was something I wanted to do until I realized that my combination of neuroticism, passion, and ambition was going to kill me again – I was caring so much about everyone and everything else in my life other than basic needs of my own: such as doctor’s appointments and rest. Burnt out. I’ve lost track of how many older adults I’ve spoken with recently who assume I’m 26-27 just by the way I talk, and what I talk about, and how stressed I am.

"I remember years ago
Someone told me I should take
Caution when it comes to love
I did, I did

Tell them all I know now
Shout it from the roof tops
Write it on the sky line
All we had is gone now

In the summer of 2009, I was so hopeful. Hopeful for my new major, hopeful that I was getting emotionally better (since it seemed I was making better decisions with my romantic life), hopeful about my new apartment, about my senior year. I was ready to make a world of difference. Until the world collapsed upon me. And my feet were sticking out. And someone stole my goddamned ruby red slippers.

"Tell them I was happy
And my heart is broken
All my scars are open
Tell them what I hoped would be the
Impossible, impossible
Impossible, impossible

Falling out of love is hard
Falling for betrayal is worst
Broken trust and broken hearts
I know, I know”

The best way I can come to terms with all of this is recognizing and explaining to others that I feel like I’m riding the thin line between death and creation: both metaphorically and somewhat literally, with every moment caught in the anxious fibers of how to create the next moment. For, the more I do what the typical me would do/would’ve done, I almost feel like I’m setting myself up for eulogizing. I feel like I’m paying tribute to the past that died. Old Victoria did this and Old Victoria collapsed from doing it. It becomes a very dangerous “should.” “I feel like I should go to the art galleries, I feel like I should be writing a blog post on this, I feel like I should be emailing and networking and ahead of the game like I always am.” But New Victoria?

What does New Victoria want? New Victoria gets very scared, as aforementioned above: “I can’t fake it. I get afraid. I get afraid they’re going to take it all away from me again – that I’m going to let them. I’m afraid of opening myself up for the loss. I’m human. I’m not perfect. And these are scary sentiments for me to admit, no matter how simplistic and obvious they may be. But it’s shut me down.” New Victoria looks at Old Victoria and thinks, “You put me through a world full of shit.” New Victoria gets afraid of the amount of responsibility Old Victoria took on, and wonders how Old Victoria got so freakin responsible so young anyway.

New Victoria gets inundated with deep, philosophical, and political questions on formspring that Old Victoria would love to field, but New Victoria thinks “psshh, I just want to live my life, man. Don’t make me some sort of leader. Don’t follow my example – I might break you too, I might hurt you. I could give you the worst possible advice and neither of us would even know it! Why are you people asking me anyway? What is it that makes me so reliable and wise to you?

My dilemma is that I still desperately hope for and want to believe in a world where words can transform us, where social deviance is valuable, where love and respect are vital components of how we treat each other and form our relationships, where disadvantaged and abused populations get the treatment and advocates they need that can support them. I still desperately want to believe in a world that believes, deep down, it’s valuable to give everyone the voice they need to have to live a life worth living. But then I couldn’t find it anymore, that belief – in 2010, it felt like I lost everything I believed in. And now, when I’m on the next playing field in life, about to head off to grad school and start off my professional career, I find myself running on the hope that I will somehow learn to reinvent myself so that I can integrate the passion I used to have with a renewed belief that I have not yet been able to retrieve. And since my old approach backfired, New Victoria isn’t even sure how to go about it.

Which isn’t to say new Victoria isn’t trying. New Victoria is slowly getting back on track, and is at least now able to solidly feel a life purpose. And reads a little bit everyday. And pushes herself to write entries like this. Entries that only begin a mission of self-exploration: Cut and differentiated for length and subject purposes, but all interwoven for a sense of commonality.

Continued on:
Transformative Language part 2
Transformative Language part 3