Saturday, August 20, 2016

You Have to Feel it to Heal it.

Warning: heavy language and honesty ahead. 

I came forward publicly as a sexual abuse survivor earlier this year. It was a secret that I had carried with me for twenty years.

Twenty years of silence. Twenty years of trying to forget. Twenty years of trying to imagine it away. Twenty years of pushing down the rising shame.

There was no healing in that time. None. The funny thing about secrets is that they become heavier each year until the silence is so fucking heavy that you cannot breathe underneath the weight of it.

Silence doesn't bring healing. Pushing away the feelings and the shame doesn't bring healing.

Why? You can't heal it if you don't feel it.

Fuck. That truth burns, doesn't it?

I don't want to feel that shit. The reason that I was silent and numbed myself for so many years is because those feelings hurt like a bitch. Those feelings burned so badly that I nearly took my own life in the aftermath of the rape. Who in the hell wants to feel that? Not me.

But numb doesn't heal. It may temporarily protect you but there is no healing underneath the cold, plastic, silent numbness.

So, I've been feeling all the damn feelings. Writing letters to my 17 year old self, allowing myself to remember all the painful details, reaching out to other survivors.

It's been really fucking painful. And, truly healing. One day at a time, Loves.

So, if you are healing from a wound in your life-- whatever that may be, I honor you.

Feel that shit. Heal that shit.

You'll get through this. You will. I will.

We will come out stronger on the other side.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shelter From The Storm

As I drove to work this morning, I passed a farm where a little girl stood perched halfway up a fence, leaning over her horse with a little umbrella to protect him from the pouring rain. That tiny umbrella, bright red against the dreary grey of the storm clouds, of course offered little protection from the cold November storm but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless.

As a sensitive soul, my work in the world never feels like enough to my heart- I always feel like I could be doing more to staunch the pain of others. Seeing a little girl drenched and shivering in order to give her beloved horse a tiny bit of shelter made me see the world a bit differently, though.

Maybe it is enough, maybe even MORE than enough if all we can do each day is to give a bit of shelter and comfort to just one soul in need. Maybe that alone is enough to change the world.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

In Defense of Antidepressants

It's strange the things that trigger our smallness, our anxiety, our deepest fears-- isn't it?

Today a friend posted that she is off of antidepressants. Yay! I was seriously so happy for her. She's worked hard to get to this place.

I commented on her status that I am currently on Lexapro but would like to get off of it soon. It seems frightening though, to try to wean myself off of that tiny white pill.  I only take the lowest available dose, but it keeps the Black Beast at bay and the thought of going without it is frightening.

So, other friend-- a good, kind person-- posted that her husband is off antidepressants, too. Of course she's proud. Their family has gone through so much. But, then came a comment that hit my heart HARD. She said that "it's all about how you work through the bad days." Which is certainly true, we have to learn to deal with the bad days. What my heart, the one that has dealt with depression and anxiety since my early teenage years, heard however was that because I have chosen a few times in my life to take antidepressants-- that I am WEAK. That's not what she meant, of course, but that was what my demons decided to whisper to me.

I just must say as one that has weathered PTSD, depression and anxiety for over twenty years, that sometimes antidepressants are necessary. In fact, they saved my life more than once-- when I was suicidal after being raped as a teenager, and when I had severe postpartum depression/anxiety/psychosis after my middle child was born. I truly believe that I would not be here if is weren't for the assistance of an SSRI(a type of anti-depressant that works well for me). I had a chemical imbalance that needed correcting. If that chemical imbalance were of a medical nature, not mental health, people would come out screaming if I tried to wing it med-free. They'd scream out for me to manage my diabetes, my cancer, whatever it was that were plaguing my body. However, if we take anti-depressants we are deemed weak.

I cry bullshit to that societal untruth.

There are certainly times that people can go without such meds to manage their mental health. And, dammit-- there are many times that they are needed. Clinical depression is so much more than managing a "bad day". Somedays I fight like hell simply to get out of bed and to go out in the world when the Black Beast looms over me. I lose control over my thoughts, my body, my relationships and my life. I start to think about ending it all. It's fucking scary.

So, I'm posting her just to give a voice to someone that needs a goddamned pill to make it through the day right now. I won't be on this med for life. In fact, the vast majority of my life has been med-free. But, I need it right now and that doesn't make me weaker than you because you can weather your bad days without a pill. Depression isn't a "bad day", it's a life-stealer. A demon that can steal everything from you so fucking quickly that it takes your breath away. A chemical imbalance that can turn your life into darkness in a moment. 

I stand here tall and say that I'm living my life with bravery, pill a day or not.

I stand here telling you that Lexapro saved my life.

I stand here asking you to have some compassion for those of us that are fighting to step out of the darkness, one step at a time.

I stand here with clinical depression and anxiety, still choosing to use my life to help others even when the Black Beast wants me to be silenced by the darkness.

I stand here in defense of those who need antidepressants to survive. We are not alone and we will not be shamed.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Wear a Swimsuit: a Checklist for Chubby Moms

Last week I ventured to the waterpark for my 11 year-old’s birthday. My weight has long been something that I have struggled with and wearing a bathing suit in public is a lesson in shame for me each time. For many years I did not wear a suit outside of my own backyard as I was so sure that I would be laughed at. This day, however, I was determined to slip on my swimsuit and be a part of my daughter’s special day.

I am a perpetual people-watcher and always seem to spy what others miss. That day was no different. Halfway through our day, I found myself on a lounger watching with one eye while my daughters and niece played on a play area and with my other eye on the adults around me.  I noticed in particular what I have deemed the ‘Corner Club’, which was a large group of mothers who seated themselves at the corner of the pool to best see everyone and spent the day not in the water with their children but on loungers making fun of other mothers that weren’t deemed up to their standards.  I have noticed this same club with different members at many pools and waterparks over the years, an older version of the same club that once existed inside the hallways of high schools all over the world.

I noticed was that I was I was invisible in my conservative swimsuit. No one seemed to notice me, the chubby Mama in the skirted polka dot suit who covered herself in a towel at all times not in the water. This was a great relief for me. I shame myself enough and to add the shame of others seemed unbearable. I fear that my self-esteem isn’t always great enough to weather criticism by other mothers.

What I also noticed is that those women who are also in the not-so-thin club with me that did not choose a conservative swimsuit were not so lucky. I watched multiple women in bikinis and other smaller suits as they were stared down and laughed at, over and over again. The Corner Club seemed to relish each time that they shamed a fellow woman and that woman appeared saddened. I felt sick to my stomach watching this spectacle.

After watching for a day I noticed a set of rules for fellow thick Mamas from this ‘Corner Club’.

1)Buy a bathing suit that covers as much of your body as possible. If a full body suit is available(a giant muumuu perhaps?), this is your best shot at not being body shamed.

  *       2)Immediately after leaving the water, cover yourself in a large towel or swimsuit cover-up. Head to toe coverage is best.

 3)Do not appear too confident. Head should be down at all times so that the world knows that you are full of shame for your imperfect body.

      4) Do not be in the presence of attractive men. The thin and perfect mothers around you should be the only women to have such people in their vicinity.

      5)Do not eat anything but vegetables and drink water alone. After all, you can just live off the fat of your body and deserve no joy from food.

If you follow all of these rules, you are (possibly) safe from being shamed while you enjoy your day at the pool with your children and will be ignored by the perfect mother’s clubs that have gathered together in groups where they have the best vantage point to take everyone in and judge as needed.

Fuck that. 

My rules for chubby moms going to the pool with their children:

1  1)  Wear whatever suit you feel fucking fantastic in. I prefer a conservative suit with a skirt that hides my bum. If you feel amazing in a bikini, please wear that bikini with pride—you look beautiful in it.

2   2) Cover yourself up if you want or don’t if wish not too. You’re at the pool so soak up the sun and water, no need to cover yourself up all day.

3   3) Be confident. Strut your body—the body that allows you to enjoy this day with your children, the body that may have created those same children inside you and fed them as infants.

4  4)  If you happen to be in the presence of an attractive man, especially if this man is your husband or partner, I suggest a healthy amount of public affection to remind the women in the Corner Club that he is yours. Multiple times, if needed.

5    5) Eat and drink whatever you want. What you put in your body is nobody’s business but yours. This day is yours to enjoy with your children and no one has the right to make you feel badly.

I will no longer be silent when I watch other women be shamed. I am tired of being silent so that I will not also get the wrath of these vultures. We all deserve the right to be with our children without being shamed. Damn all of the “rules” that the world wants us to follow.

I’m off to the pool again, Loves, with my children in tow. I’m still wearing my skirted suit, but plan to wear it with pride. I will hold my head up for I have no reason to be ashamed. My body is my business, not the business of the mothers who live to shame others. I plan on greeting the other members of the Chubby Moms’ Club with exuberant compliments on their choice of suits, because they look incredible in their own skin doing what they love—spending time with their children, haters be damned.

Monday, August 1, 2016


I'm sitting around a campfire tonight, reading and listening to the birds in the trees and the frogs in the creek. 

Earlier this summer we had a veritable swarm of lightning bugs at night, more than I'd ever seen in my lifetime. 

Tonight there is just one solitary lightning bug, swimming in circles in the air around me, punctuating the night with the tiniest beam of light. 

We often think that more is best. Sometimes it is. I was awestruck months ago by show in my backyard by hundreds of lightning bugs. It was magical.

However, tonight this single bug concentrated it's glowing majesty around me in such a way that I couldn't help but feel honored by the universe in way that I never had before.

More isn't always better. One single being can light up the darkest of nights and shine the way out of the deepest, darkest of times.

Be a goddamned light. Especially in times of darkness. Your light is not unnoticed.

Burn, baby, burn.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Like an Animal

When we say that someone is "like an animal", it's not meant as a compliment. It means that someone has lost control and is violent or desperate. 
However, I was lying on my back in the pool tonight, watching the sky. The birds and the dragonflies were flying above and me and I couldn't help but want to be like an animal. Not in the way that the phrase is often used but like an animal in the way that they are in the moment, flying through the air without a care or worry, not thinking about the past or tomorrow. 
I floated in the pool, weightless, allowing the tension in my muscles to float away and clearing my mind of anything but the skies above me. I felt as free as the birds flying over me, like an animal in the best of ways. 
I need to escape my own humanity more often.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We Cannot Always Choose Happy

I’m one of those people that always have positive quotes posted around me. I struggle with anxiety and depression and having inspiration posted around me helps me to keep my mind straight. My cubicle at work, my car, my home, my coffee mugs-- they are all covered in positive quotes, memes and photos. Yes—I’m THAT person.

Recently, however, I have been struggling with a bout of sadness. I have found myself raw with feeling as I navigate working through the mourning of being a victim of a violent crime twenty years ago and finally working through the mess of my feelings that comes with that. I’ve found myself struck with tears at the most inopportune of times and suffering through the nervousness and jumpiness that comes with having my fight or flight system ‘on’ twenty-four hours per day. I am a bundle of uncomfortable emotions, just barely held together enough to continue with my day-to-day life.

I’ve found that in this raw state that I cannot tolerate the false cheerfulness of quotes pasted over a bright sunshine or motivational talks to let go of my sadness and smile. It just doesn’t ring true to me where I am right now, in this place of darkness. I am exhausted by false cheer. There are some days that I must sink into the melancholy of life. 

I have a friend on social media that is always posting the words ‘Choose happy’. She is a lovely person that lives her life trying to help others. However, I had to temporarily hide her posts. I believe that there are times that we can, indeed, choose happy. There are also times that we must feel the shitty emotions-- the pain, the sadness, the grieving-- and not doing so is detrimental to our souls. I cannot at this time in my life deny these emotions that I have denied for twenty years.

This time has been a great lesson to me. In my personal life and in my work as a nurse I have spent many hours cheering people up. I hope to continue to do so. However, I must also allow those suffering to truly feel their emotions and not encourage them to paste a false smile over their raw emotions-- doing so is a toxic mistake.

We have become a society that has forgotten the value of our ‘negative’ emotions. We hide behind pretty selfies and cheerful social media posts when inside we are reeling. We have forgotten how to allow ourselves permission to have bad days and to experience the heavy emotions that can come with life.

I will choose happy another day. However, for today I will feel the crushing sadness, the grief and the anger. I will ignore the cheerful quotes and pretty pictures and instead immerse myself inside the pain. I will allow myself to burn inside the fire that been kindling in my heart for twenty years and has been denied the chance to flame. I will emerge from the fire stronger than ever before. I will be lighter without this burden and instead of pasting on a false smile over my pain; my smile on the other side of this will be true and real.

There is nothing wrong with honoring all of your emotions. I get to choose. You get to choose. There is no shame in not choosing happy for today. Happiness will still be waiting for you tomorrow. True happiness is not the smile pasted over your tears, it is the happiness that shines through after you’ve worked through all of the shit that weighs your heart down. It’s often not an easy journey—I hope you choose to take it anyway.