Monthly Archives: August 2016

Happy Little Life

I know, I know, this title is contradictory to last week’s title, but what can I say? I contain multitudes. Today’s post will be short and sweet. Thank you for respecting my wishes, for hearing me without demanding answers. Thank you for the love you have poured toward me, the undue kindness and restraint you have shown, the quiet support which I have seen even in the most unexpected places. I am so grateful.

I wrote about the Big Three because it’s important. I tell sad stories because they’re important. I run this blog because it’s important, if only to me. But you! You have come and sat alongside me, swallowing my words, digesting the tales and heartache and discovery just as fast as I can write them out. You are so good to me. Thank you.

Today I am off on an adventure, but before I go, I want to remind you that I am curating a beautiful, happy little life – and I could not do it without you.

Have a beautiful Sunday.

with love,
K

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Queen of Sad Things

I’ll be the first to say it: my body of work is largely depressing, a sea of sad stories that stretch far beyond the horizon. It isn’t often easy to read, nor is it meant to be, because stories of bodily assault should never be easily tolerable. Their very nature insists on being difficult, tragic, scarring.

As a species, we tend to deal with trauma in a few specific ways. We can let it engulf us. We can swallow it. Or we can cut off its head and parade down the streets, blood dripping on our shoes as we refuse to stay quiet.

There is no right way to do it. I have tried staying silent. I have tried being swallowed. Only now, in this age of unrest, do I feel comfortable demanding to be heard.

I was eight and her name was Andrea. I was eighteen and his name was Niko. I was twenty-one and their names were Audrey and something I didn’t quite catch.

I was in school. I went home with him. I was at a party and everyone else was drunk.

I went back. I went back. I burnt everything down.

And now I speak – no, I shout. I scream. But why?

First and foremost, I write for myself. I write to process what has happened, to glean meaning from the wreckage, to find peace in the aftermath. Writing is a wonderful and healthy alternative to being dead, so I write. Additionally, these events have shaped the manner in which I interact with the world. To ignore them is tantamount to erasing my past and, without this context, you will not understand how incredible my existence is today.

I share my writing for four reasons.

  1. I didn’t know women could be perpetrators of assault. I did not know a woman could hurt me this badly. When I was first assaulted in a classroom at school, I didn’t even realize what had happened. I didn’t have the language for it. For years, I felt like I was a monster, like there was this consuming darkness in my lungs. I felt like it was my fault. When I was researching data for my thesis, I couldn’t find much about female sex offenders – and if I can’t find it, that means other victims can’t find it either. It is vital that other survivors hear me. Being able to articulate your experiences cannot happen without vocabulary, without language, and I am here to scream for them, too.
  2. I am not a ‘good’ survivor. It is important to be seen exactly as flawed and imperfect as I am in conjunction with my experiences – because the police asked me why I went to Niko’s house alone, because people told me I shouldn’t have gone to Audrey’s party, because people keep finding ways to tell me that the assaults were my fault. “you shouldn’t have… you could have… you didn’t…”

    No more. I am not a ‘good’ survivor. I didn’t follow the rules that people rubbed in my face afterward, and by no means does that translate to fault. I want survivors to know that. There’s nothing you can do that justifies sexual violence against you.
    It was never your fault.

  3. I want to be more transparent with my mental illness. There is so much stigma around people with PTSD – how we function, what we look like, what we’re capable of. We’re not all soldiers returning from war, but my diagnosis is just as valid as anyone’s. I want to reframe the conversation about mental illness. This past Tuesday, as I sat in a training room, the speaker told us how to deal with ‘brain sick’ patients. They spoke to us as if no one in the room could relate to a man dissociating in a lobby – as if we had never had nightmares we couldn’t shake. And I felt such shame in that moment, like my illness was always going to make me an Other, like I couldn’t belong here. They can’t tell that I’m sick, but only because they have a very clear idea of what sick should look like. I’m here to tell you that, unless you live with a mental illness, your perception of the mentally ill is probably incorrect. I want to change how we are seen – I want to change the limits people think we can reach –  I want to excel and grow and become successful enough to educate the masses: we are sick, but we are capable. Furthermore, I want other survivors to see that it really does get better.
    {I promise.}
  4. There are still assholes in my life who make rape jokes – who make PTSD jokes – who spread rumors about my sexual promiscuity to excuse their flippant disregard of my safety – who told me I deserved it – who basically make time to announce to the world that they are trash. I write to remind them that I am ill, that I am conquering, that I refuse to be quiet in the face of their cruelty. I write to stick in their brains. I write because the next time they open their mouths to say they totally raped a guy on a video game, the next time they expect me to laugh at a joke where I am the punchline, I want them to picture me as a child.

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    Picture this little girl crying herself to sleep – refusing to sleep alone until she was eighteen – throwing up in the dorm room showers for three hours afterward – entering a psychiatric hospital barely a month after turning nineteen – spending years wanting to die. I want them to see me. I want to be inescapable. I want them to feel guilty. If you picture and you choose to make that PTSD joke anyway, I hope you fucking choke.

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And now, a brief note for those who know me outside of my blog. Please do not ask me for details about the assaults. If I want to talk to you about these situations, I will initiate the conversation. Otherwise, let me be. Do not ask my other friends and family for details. If you’re worried about me after reading this post, please know that I am healthy and happy. My life is exceptionally beautiful right now. I am okay.

If you read this post and you recognized Andrea, Niko, or Audrey’s name, absolutely do NOT talk to them about me, do not ask them about me, do not share this post with them, and do not talk to our former coworkers about my assault. I did not include their last names for a reason. I do not want to speak to them, I do not want to speak to you about them, nor do I want to be spoken about to them or to anyone. My assault is not a circus act, it is not a gossiping point, it is a tragedy and they have taken enough from me. Please respect that. I take my safety very seriously and so should you. If you cannot, you will be cut out of my life so fast that you’ll get whiplash. If, however, you have also been assaulted (either by these individuals or someone else), and you want to talk survivor-to-survivor, then I am absolutely here for you.

As always, thank you for reading.

It really did get better. Really.

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Chicken or the Egg

Listen, there’s no beautiful way to say this: I’m not sure which parts of my personality predate my chronic illness and PTSD. I’m not sure which pieces of myself have always been here and which parts are symptoms turning outward.

 

I’m not even sure if it matters at this point.

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia and post traumatic stress disorder since I was seven. This year marks my fifteenth year of being sick and sad and crazy – but, as I’ve stated before, I’ve never been happier to be alive. So why can’t I let this go?

As a Sick person, so many aspects of my daily life feel out of control. I can’t control my body, my pain, my exhaustion. I can’t stop strangers, friends, and family alike from explaining to me how I’m using my body wrongly. I can’t go out often with my friends because I’m too tired to function.

This illness has taken so much from me.

As a Mentally Ill person, I feel a lot of shame for the way my disorders manifest. I require a lot of reassurance. I worry that I’m constantly being manipulative. I’m so afraid of men that I carry a hunting knife in my purse at all times. I left my last job because my boss told the staff that I was too much of a slut to be afraid of men and that I didn’t deserve to be protected from the asshole behind this post. That situation created a deep anger and anxiety around being misunderstood and mistreated.

This illness has taken too much from me.

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by everything that I don’t even try. I don’t pretend to be well in any way. My door shuts quietly, I take meals by myself, I don’t answer the phone. I am not a full person on these days. I am a half-being, sick and sad, eyes wide as I try not to cry. It’s true, these days aren’t happy and they aren’t fun but they feel more honest.

In this way, I need those half-days.

I need time to be ill, to shed the mask of health that I wear every day. You wouldn’t believe how heavy that disguise can be – its weight makes my arms ache. But who would I be without my sicknesses? What kind of person would I be if my body and mind were better balanced, more functional, less damning? Who could I be without near-crippling fear, pain, exhaustion?

Is this the most genuine version of myself? And, more importantly, does it matter?

If there’s no way to return to who I was before being assaulted, before getting sick – if I’m stuck in this sick body – does it matter that I could’ve been something different?

I wish I knew.

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