Not a Post About Crochet (Only)

The past few days I have been working on something special.

I was going to log on and write a post about it the other day, but what I ended up with was The Other Things I Am. Needless to say I was exasperated that day… motherhood is really trying sometimes.

One of the things I had meant to say with that post was that, in addition to writing and a bunch of other things, I crochet as well. Like writing, I haven’t crocheted in about a decade, until recently. Working with yarn has a tendency to reduce stress, so I took up knitting and restarted my crochet habit around February time.

I first made one of these special things I mentioned a couple of months back, using a free pattern from one of my favourite magazines. I altered the pattern slightly and used different yarn and a differently sized hook. What it made was a larger, monotone version of the stuffed toy, for which I designed some clothes. Namely, a ballerina costume and little ballet slippers. A picture of it even made its way into my favourite magazine and won me a ball of yarn. Woo!

While I made the toy, I had a friend in mind.

This friend of mine has been trying for four years to adopt. She doesn’t even want to adopt a baby, which are a more popular choice for hopeful parents, but a girl who is older and has been orphaned for some time, of which there are plenty. For a while she was trying to adopt from Russia because, at the time, it was her most promising option. Then her country legalized same-sex marriage. And that was it; all her money wasted (because adoption is not cheap), emotional rollercoaster ride back to square one. (Russia says “NYET” to any country which allows same-sex marriage, regardless of the sexuality of the hopeful parents.) She was devastated.

Now she is trying from another country, as there are no matches for her in her own country, and so far that’s looking promising. I have the highest hopes for her that she will finally have the joy of being a mother (even though it is such a challenge sometimes) and while she was visiting most recently, I gave her the toy I had made.

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The bear has now gone overseas to go live with my friend, and hopefully soon, her new daughter.

Another friend of mine saw the bear before it was given away. The other day she called me and asked if I’d make one for a local charity event whereby the bear will be in a big jar and donations will be raised as people guess the name of the bear to try to win it. Saves counting jelly beans! So I got right on it, and have finally finished the last little ballet slipper today.

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As I was making it, I thought of the first friend again. As I’m sure most of you have heard, the US recently legalised same-sex marriages. While I am pleased for the people who have been waiting a long time for this, and would like to join completely in their joy, I can’t help but think about how many parents-in-waiting are out there, and how many Russian orphans are out there, who have not been able to be matched because of Russia’s rules on adopting to places where same-sex marriage is simply legal.

I should clarify, the ban for adoption to US parents came into effect late 2014, not the other day. I am not sure of the exact reasons for the ban, maybe just a bit of animosity between the two countries who aren’t exactly friends, but as several states had already legalised these types of marriages, it would not be far-fetched to say that Russia didn’t want its children around same-sex marriages. This feels wrong.

It would be easy to say “Well that’s Russia’s problem,” and not be entirely wrong to say that. But there are children not at fault for simply being Russian, and parents meeting every other criteria for adopting from Russia who are not at fault for simply being from a country which has legalised same-sex marriage. The US is a leader in most political trends, and I would bet many countries will now follow in its steps.

I wonder what Russia’s problem is with this subject. But Russia and the adoption fiasco are just one example of divided opinions about who should be allowed to marry. One doesn’t even need to leave the house to see how divided people are about this. And maybe you think I’m going to give a strong opinion one way or the other…

But I don’t know what the correct answer is on this subject. I can see where people are coming from when they say it’s destroying the family unit, not that I agree with their opinion. And I can see where people are coming from who say “love is love,” not that I agree that same-sex marriages should be legalised. I see how people say that heterosexual marriages are not so great themselves, how divorce should not be legal, and I see there are plenty of same-sex couples who have been together longer than hetero couples.

I’m not a psychologist and I don’t know what exactly children need and how different genders of parents affect their development from a factual scientific perspective. I do know that growing up without a dad sucked. My mom wasn’t gay, but I can’t say whether another woman around would have been harmful, in fact it would probably have been beneficial. I know a lot of gay guys who are excellent around kids. I know a lot of terrible heterosexual males who have failed miserably at the “dad thing.” I know both gay and straight moms who have failed and succeeded in raising good kids. I have had quite a few homosexual friends throughout the years who have been excellent friends, many times even better than the heterosexual ones.

I am also well-versed in the Bible but will probably never attend church again. I still haven’t covered my thoughts on religion and won’t get too far into that today, but I will say this:

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

There are a lot of innocent people who are adversely affected by the legalisation of something which makes so many others so happy, and what I’ve learned throughout my life is not to get caught up in any sensationalism about anything political. Politicians can be tricky, clever bastards.

I do not wish for my homosexual friends to be denied the right to marry. But I feel that marriage these days has too many legal implications to be just about the marital union of a couple. There are other things to consider: Who gets to be the recipient of the life insurance pay-out once one of them has passed? Without the legal recognition of the relationship, insurance companies can keep all those thousands they’ve collected in life insurance premiums. That seems unfair. There are exponentially more roots to this tree that many people, including myself, do not see.

What I do think is that for people preaching religious principles, I sure hope they’re respectful with their words at the very least. I think the best way to put people off the message you are trying to convey is to be rude about it. For people who are jumping for joy, I sure hope this is as good as you think it is. And just like all the people who have commented on my posts wherever they’ve been seen, saying that I “just need God,” not knowing one way or another what my relationship with a deity has been throughout my life, I hope people know that being gay is not something church can cure, just like depression and anxiety and PTSD are not cured by a preacher.

How ironic is it that one of the biggest reasons I have PTSD and that a lot of undesirable things have happened in my life is because of a preacher in a church who was married and had a heterosexual family?

What I’m trying to say is, there is no black and white answer to this, or to many other things. But there are innocent children affected by adults everywhere because of their opinions and actions. And I am almost positive that having two parents, or even one parent, regardless of whether they’re heterosexual or not, is better than being stuck in an orphanage somewhere.

This adorable, innocent bear, reminds me of all the kids waiting to have parents. And it reminds me of all the people repeating opinions, regardless of whether they are the genuine beliefs of that person or concocted by the media and politicians, fighting against one another over this. What I see is people fighting one another, innocent children denied parents, and amazing potential mothers and fathers of all sexualities desperate for a chance to show children a loving family experience, denied this opportunity.

I’m really not sure which is worse, or what the solution may be, but just like I hope my friend gets to be a mother soon, I hope everything works out for all the right people and for all the right reasons.

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The Other Things I Am

I am a negotiator.
I am a referee.
I am a diplomatic lunatic wielding the baton of power called “Mother.”
My hair is turning grey, sneaky strand by sneaky strand.
I have a drinking problem, which is to say that I can’t get the drink to my face without it going all down my front in various quantities.
My voice is the loudest, and the softest.
I go between “put that down, please” and “get your fingers out of your face” repeatedly.
I am the singer of the bedtime songs and the voices of the bedtime stories.
I am the head chef, the driver, the personal assistant.
And at the end of each day, I am tired.

But I am other things, too.

I am a magician.
I am an engineer.
I am a storyteller, typist, editor.
A confidante and sage to those who need one.
A soul-searcher, an observer, a boil-it-down-and-give-me-the-truth seeker.
A craftsman, a tailor, a designer, a yarn-worker.
A singer, a musician, a collector of sounds.
An artist with perhaps too many artistic pursuits.
A lover of all things intrinsically beautiful.

But this evening, it is nearly six o’clock and all I am is…

wanting some goddamned peace and quiet.

ROLL ON, BEDTIME.

My Name is Emily

Emily’s Story

“Most people don’t understand anxiety, depression, and PTSD. They don’t understand why you can’t just “get over it” or “just calm down.” It’s basically a lifestyle, but not one that you choose. It’s something you’re born into. Destiny.

There’s nothing extraordinary about my family, really, we were a typical white family living in the middle of nowhere in the US. I didn’t find out until my grandmother died when I was ten that my mother had mental issues. It’s like she was holding back her entire life and then suddenly my grandmother died and the flood gates let loose. She was angry, bitter, and blamed me for everything. She was paranoid, depressed, anxious, and sought an outlet in her high school sweetheart, thinking that he could “save her” from the internal torment. My father didn’t realize, or didn’t care, until it was too late and she kicked us both out. I still don’t talk to my brother.

 

I was twelve, I had my own mental shit going on, and suddenly I was taking care of a full grown, depressed, and angry man who was heartbroken because his wife destroyed him financially and emotionally. He’d tell me that if I hadn’t come to live with him, he would have killed himself by now.
I knew then that I wasn’t happy, but I put all my garbage on the back burner to take care of his needs. He finally met someone, my stepmother, and as she tried to pick up our broken pieces she didn’t know it was too late for me.

 

I saw my own blood more times in those two years than I’d like to count. My grades slipped, I became a loner, I dated the wrong guy, I didn’t sleep, got into an anorexic mindset, and I saw the lines across my forearm as evidence that I was as flawed outside as I was inside.

 

Another student figured me out, and saw my self-inflicted abuse. She reacted by telling the school, who told my dad and step-mom, and they threw me into therapy with a flourish of “we didn’t see this coming, here, take some drugs”. I was on suicide watch. Therapy was irrelevant and pointless, and the drugs just hyped up my anxiety more. The PTSD from my mother being psychotic in the last months that I was living with her kept me up at night with horrific nightmares of faceless things coming for me. I was somewhere between 15-17 years old.

 

I wish my parents had understood that they just needed to love me. I shouldn’t have had to start becoming an adult at 10 years old and taken care of two mentally unstable adults. I was my mothers mental punching bag and my fathers therapist. It wasn’t okay.

 

I wish my friends had thought to do something more than ask if I was okay. I needed help, I needed someone to at least try to understand what I was going through instead of pretending it was typical teen angst. I needed someone to talk to, instead of holding it all in for years.

 

Now, I’m in a stable relationship. I’m happy more times than I’m sad. I write to relieve the pressure of feeling like I’m still not good enough or deserving of love, and to tell parts of my story to other people that might need to hear it. I want to inspire people, and reach out to them so maybe they’ll see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,  and not just more darkness.

 

This poem describes what it looks like in my head now:
You were scared, I knew
because you shook.
You paled in comparison.
You wrote clichés.
You dismissed happiness in a promise
that it was unattainable and futile.
But look. You grew.
Learned.
You went against the waves of oppression
that sucked every ounce of creativity out of you.
Your failures actually made you try again.
You granted love a sixth chance.
Your happiness was illuminated
as your hate faded between the lines
of your next written masterpiece.
Then, you wrote this poem
amidst a time where
“Never again”
slowly seeped into
“Yes I can”.

 

What I wish it would look like:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Silence.
 
Because I hope that someday I’ll stop having to remind myself how far I’ve come,
and how I’m really going to be okay.

 

My name is Emily, and I deserve better than this.”

 

If you would like your story featured on this blog as part of Project: Better Than This, please click here, read the guidelines, and email your story.

Reader Update 25th June

Hello!

Readers, new friends, everyone… Thank you so much for your continued support.

Firstly, is there anything you would like to see from this blog? A change in some kind of format to navigate the site more easily? I’ve been trying with this updated About page. It has a list of all the posts and brief descriptions. Or you can read Why I Chose to Speak Out for a more detailed introduction, though it doesn’t contain all the posts.

An archive won’t really do as it hasn’t been a month yet so if you click on ‘June’ you just get the whole blog. Oops.

Secondly, I apologise for all the tears as some of this stuff (okay, most) is really heavy. I haven’t done many light-hearted posts yet, but I promise there will be some more on the way. If you don’t want to cry, try the “Light-Hearted” or “Poetry” category from the menu at the top.

Next, there are a few posts going under the radar I think need a bit more love.

  • The Bird and the Birdwatcher is really important. It’s a fable I wrote and it is really close to my heart. It started as a vision of an image of this bird breaking out of a cage after a comment a friend made to me. It shows how anyone can be trapped by an abusive person but it doesn’t have to be the end. When you take the hidden meanings out of it, it’s just a really good story. It’s something I’ve read to my kids and will continue to do so until they get the message, because even though they’re boys, therefore less likely to be subjected to Domestic Violence relationships, grooming of children is a pretty big and scary issue these days. This story, I believe, could save lives. It’s about a 20 minute read but worth every second. Read it, share it, spread it around.
  • Finally He Claimed Me is about my relationship with my dad, a narcissist, who was absent most of my life. When I met him he continued to let me down. Then one day the penny dropped, and I realised something very important. Apart from being a pretty good read on its own, if you have ever been on the receiving end of verbal abuse by someone who was supposed to care for you, like a parent, this might help.
  • Keep Going (My Conversation With the Un-Dead Part 2) and its predecessor, My Conversation With the Un-Dead, are important for both people who have lost someone to suicide (the latter), and for people struggling to keep going (the former). They are also just pretty good reads.
  • I Thought I Said “No” is, I know, a difficult one. It is about rape, but no violence or uncomfortable language (in my opinion). Just the other day I saw yet another reminder of just how much people blame rape victims these days. This is such a problem. I could talk about so many parts of this subject but for now this is all that’s up there and I really hope people read it and understand so we can stop telling the world “She’s just lying because that’s the kind of thing women do” and other ridiculous things like that. Not to mention, this event is referenced a lot in my stories as it was a major turning-point in my life.
  • Karmic Heebie-Jeebies is a funny story, to which parents will be able to relate. Contains creepy-crawlies.
  • Dear Sarah is the newest, but also important. It’s a letter to my late sister. It was really hard to write. I don’t talk about her much in relation to me and how I feel about her passing. I usually talk about her kids, their dad, my mom… everyone really, but not me. So I wrote this last night and my eyes look like I was punched in the face, they’re still so puffy. I won’t say much more about it, but please, seek out your loved ones and give them a hug. You’ll want to anyway after you read this.
  • Project: Better Than This has hardly been viewed at all. Maybe because it’s a page and not a post. This needs participants. Go read the page and see if you’d like to contribute. You could find yourself on this blog.

I may recommend some more in the future, but this is what’s important to me today.

Also, if you have a blog, don’t forget to add it to the Let’s network post and reblog it. There’s a lot of good blogs on there already, I encourage you to have a look.

And thank you, thank you, and thanks some more for all your wonderful comments and for just visiting my blog. To have such a great response so quickly from all the things I’ve let roll around in my head and keep me up at night for so long, your time spent meandering around my ramblings is actually making a physical difference in my life. Your interaction keeps me writing and ultimately, I hope, my writing will make a physical difference in the world. And that’s what it’s all about, healing, mending, changing.

So much love to any and all of you who need it.

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Dear Sarah

Dear Sarah,

I laughed nervously while talking to the neighbour today, it sounded like your laugh. I said something and I can’t even remember what it was, because I was too busy thinking how much I sounded just like you. As I gave a half of a grin I could feel that my face was doing exactly what yours used to do. Upper lip raised on the right side, eyebrows doing that thing. Remember when people used to guess we were twins? I never got that. You were two inches shorter than me, two sizes smaller than me, two shades darker than me, twenty-two months older than me, twenty-two pounds lighter than me. I used to agree more with the people who said we couldn’t possibly be sisters. Yet, here I am thinking I’ve heard your voice coming out of my own mouth.

Remember when we used to draw pictures of floor plans and say that we were going to live in a duplex with a door that connected the two places? Yet there was that year when we didn’t speak to each other even once. You told me I was going to go to Yale someday, you thought I was really smart. But one whole year out of the only twenty I was going to get with you, wasted in silence, seems pretty dumb to me.

Remember how we used to sing together? We would pretend to be stars on a stage, singing Little Richard’s version of Itsy Bitsy Spider and the whole of Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album. We were always singing. Why didn’t we sing more when we grew up?

Remember how you taught me to ride a bicycle? You took my training wheels off my Strawberry Shortcake bike and said you wouldn’t let go. I turned around to see if you were still holding on and you weren’t. I got mad, but then you told me how I didn’t need you holding on anyway, I’d done it all by myself. I never forgot that. Your confidence in me always outweighed my own.

Remember all the trouble we used to get into? That night we were in Adam’s car racing Mom back to the house on the back roads, only Mom didn’t know it was a race. That was so funny at the time, but so reckless.

I remember going to homecoming with you and your friends. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have gone. Even though you said at the time I was only tagging along, and it hurt my feelings, I know now that you wouldn’t have taken me if you didn’t want me there.

There were times I hated you. And because I feel everything with such passion I remember once when I was fifteen swearing I wouldn’t care if you died. I’m so, so, so sorry I said that. I thought for sure you’d be there to welcome me into my twenties and thirties just like my teens, with your footprints always being two steps ahead of mine, but I didn’t know your timer didn’t have as much sand as mine. Yet that time I was sixteen and said I was going to kill myself (and thought I meant it) you stopped everything and called Dad in to yell at me until I got out of bed and kept going.

I let you down, Sarah. I was not as good as you. You might have been way more of a trouble maker than I was when we were kids, but when it really mattered, look who was the angel then. But me… I think I took you for granted.

I wish I had called more often. I wish I had spent more time with you. I look back now and I don’t know what I was doing wasting what time we had with so many people I don’t even speak to anymore.

I wish when I called home, your number could be one of the ones on the list. I wish you and I could get lost in daydreaming once more about how our futures would pan out, in juxtaposition because we’re sisters, and because of all the times we were all each other had.

I wish when friends talked about the day they just spent or the conversation they just had with their sister, I didn’t have to feel a blade of jealousy and sorrow piercing my chest.

I wish the new experiences I had with you weren’t confined to what happens when I’m asleep. But I don’t mean to be wishing those dreams away… I love them. I cherish them.

Like that dream where you were piloting a helicopter and you came and picked me up. You showed me the beauty of the city lights and the land and instead of taking it all in and laughing with you and your little half-grin with raised eyebrows, I turned to you and said, “Why did you leave me? Don’t you know I needed you?”

And all you did was look at me with that familiar facial expression that I knew was saying, Well, what do you want me to do about it? It’s happened now.

It’s happened now.

It’s…

happened. Past tense?

But don’t you know you’re not just something that happened?

You are part of me, Sarah. When my lip raises and my eyebrows do that thing, I can feel my face becomes yours. When I do that nervous laugh, that’s your laugh.

For all the times we played together, made trouble together, daydreamed together, laughed, fought, stood together… those were the things that made me.

I want you to come and hold this bicycle again. But even though I’ve been riding for the past six-and-a-half years on my own, and I know you think I can do it, I’m still mad. There’s no more of your footprints in front of mine.

But there are supposed to be two.

If you were here I’d sing with you. I’d do all the reckless tagging along you wanted. I’d do whatever it took to build that home we drew.

I’d appreciate you.

I’m smarter now. I don’t hate you, I just hate that you’re not here. Except for where you are. And I love that.

I love you. I miss you. You’ll forever be my star.

-Baby Sister

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What PTSD Means to Me

It’s PTSD Awareness Month, so let’s go over what that means.

I am one of many who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a.k.a. PTSD.

I say this to someone and most of the time they reply, “What?”

It means a trauma happened, and even though it happened it the past, the footprint it left in your mind is so severe that any time conditions appear to be the same as during that trauma, usually described as “when a trigger happens,” your body undergoes extreme stress and expresses that stress in a physical and/or mental reaction. Sometimes even having to recall the events unexpectedly can be all the trigger you need.

The mind is a beautiful, crazy thing.

If you still don’t get it, think of this: Ever spoken about something attached to any kind of strong emotion and felt that same emotion almost exactly as when the event happened? How about remembering how it felt when you tasted straight lemon in your mouth? Men: how about watching another guy get kicked in the groin?

If any of these evoked physical reactions from you as you read about them, such as your mouth watering at the thought of pure lemon in your mouth, or wincing at the thought of a groin injury (sorry, fellas), then you can begin to see how PTSD works. Your brain, in all its splendour, has stored a physical memory of that thing. Everything in life that we do has a physical and/or emotional memory attached to it. If we haven’t done that particular thing before, we are reminded of a time we did something similar. When these memories occur, we can often feel very physical reactions to them.

At this moment, I am typing. I am typing at the rate of about sixty words per minute. I could not do this if the physical memory, muscle memory, of all the practice I’ve had was not in my brain, at the ready. This is an instinctual thing, part of growing up and being human. Similarly, as part of humans adapting to protect ourselves from harm, we involuntarily store memories of dangerous situations for future, protective reference.

So the soldier who has gone to war and seen all kinds of awful things, will often come back “shell-shocked.” It happens more often than you think. There is a really good representation of this that is currently in the process of being created. I found the trailer really interesting. check it out below, or at http://www.burdenoffreedomthemovie.com

As you can see in this trailer, the returned soldier is no longer at war. But the trauma from the experience has left such a lasting impression that they can’t help but feel like they are right back in that situation, again, and again. It can be so tragic, turning people who were once just as normal as the next person, into altered versions of themselves with undesirable reactions to things that don’t seem to be bothering anyone else. I’m not comparing my PTSD to what is shown in the trailer. But regardless of severity, PTSD is PTSD.

What PTSD means to me is that if I’m minding my own business in my house and the phone rings, my heart races, I get sweaty palms, and feel immediately scared and on edge. Of what? Well, there have been times that I have picked up the phone and had abuse hurled at me. I would block the numbers of the people, they’d call from private numbers, I’d pick up the phone and have a nasty surprise. The verbal abuse and associated behaviours of the people that used to do this was so bad, and lasted for so long, I now hate phones. Especially when they’re ringing.

Here’s an example: after losing absolutely everything in 2008, I had bill collectors calling me. I had no money whatsoever. I had lost so much there was no way I could work. I was a wreck. I was only twenty, I didn’t have savings, my family was not rich in the slightest, yet here were these bill collectors calling me and telling me to “grow up” and pay this bill that only resulted because I had forgot to cancel a gym membership for a gym I attended twice. I had nothing, and they were literally calling me all kinds of names and reducing me to tears as I tried to explain to them why I couldn’t even begin to pay them for this. It was really awful and I never want to experience that again, so I avoid the phone and avoid calling anyone unless I absolutely have to.

If I hear someone closing their car door outside, I look around to see what kind of car it was. I peer through my curtains, trying to be invisible, to see if it’s the car of someone I don’t want at my door. Every time. And it’s because I’ve told people in the past not to come to my house, and they still have. I’ve been stalked before by people who have caused a lot of harm in my life, and I live in constant fear that they’ll find my new address and show up at the door. And if they ever do, I’ll probably have to move.

If I see a car that looks like the car of someone I used to know but don’t want around me ever again, I panic. I could be driving and suddenly be very paranoid that the car I’ve spotted might be following me. I continue to panic until I see that the driver is a stranger and not someone I should worry about. For these reasons I memorise licence plates.

Once when I heard a car door outside, and had lately been stalked by my narcissist mother-in-law, I actually passed out. My heart raced, I sort of fainted, and the person who was there at the time actually thought I was dead. I came to suddenly, with an instant feeling like I was burning, confused and disorientated. I heard a popping and fizzing noise in my ears, and my skin was hot all over. Because of this incident, panic attacks are that much more terrifying, as I truly believe I could have gone into cardiac arrest that night and actually died.

If my doorbell rings, or someone knocks, I hush the children and try to pretend no one is home until I can peek through the little peek-hole and see who it is. If it’s a friend who has shown up unannounced, I will still only reluctantly open the door. And even then I’m a bundle of nerves for a few minutes until I can calm myself down and tell myself it’s okay.

Confession: With the exception of one friend who has known me long enough to be allowed to surprise me at my door, showing up unannounced is almost like a black mark next to someone’s name in the book. Once is an accident. I’ll probably try to hint that showing up unannounced isn’t the best idea when dealing with me. If they do it again, we’re probably not going to stay friends. They could be perfectly wonderful in every other regard, but I can’t have people showing up at my door without notice. It can cause a panic attack and all the feelings associated with the nasty people who used to do it in the past are then associated to these unsuspecting people, and when I think of them in the future I begin to feel bad feelings toward them.

One of the first things I remember occurring due to PTSD, was when I was about ten years old and was on a trip with a group of kids. I had fallen into a hot tub, and had bruised my leg so badly there was a huge lump on it. I could hardly walk. Because we were there for a competition and I was in so much pain, the male chaperone tried to give me a children’s Tylenol. (This is a chewable acetaminophen (paracetamol) with a strawberry flavour.) I lost my mind over it. I was hysterically crying, refusing… they could not have prised my mouth open to give me this thing. Finally the guy shouted at me “Quit bitchin’!” and I was so intimidated I finally took it.

To them I was just throwing a fit for no reason. But I was not the kind of child who used to throw fits for anything. And I didn’t know at the time why I reacted this way. But years later when I began to have certain flashbacks, I finally understood…

I had been in a daycare that was run by an evil family parading as children’s pastors. The wife would give us “vitamins” that were children’s chewable Benadryl, strawberry flavour. This is an antihistamine with a drowsy effect. It would put us to sleep and the husband would abuse us. They would show us movies where people were being maimed and said that if we ever told, our mom would suffer a similar fate. I was almost three years old at the time, but this period of time has affected me throughout life, most specifically when being around men or pressured by men. And to this day I will not let medicines touch my tongue. I put water in first, then pill, then swallow with more water.

PTSD means to me that when I am unexpectedly asked to recall events from the past that were traumatic, I am filled with sorrow. I cry in public a lot. I blame part of this on my American-ness, because apparently Americans express emotion a lot more freely than the British, but a lot of it is Post Traumatic Stress. Having to recall events suddenly can put me in a funk and I will stay in that funk for days, which brings me to perhaps the most important point of this article:

The reason(s) why anyone is suffering PTSD is none of your business. Don’t suddenly ask them about it.

I mentioned in Why I Chose to Speak Out that I am not working at the moment. This means that I occasionally have to go for a review so they can deem whether I’m ‘disabled’ enough to qualify for benefit. During my latest meeting at the JobCentre, the woman assessing my case was asking me all kinds of questions. Keep in mind, my doctor has told me not to work right now. Several other support agencies have told me not to work right now. I have been through a lot in the past year alone that is enough to deal with, now compound that with a lifetime briefly described in the article cited in this paragraph.

The woman asked me what I’d been diagnosed with. I told her PTSD, anxiety, depression. She said, “And what do you think the PTSD stems from?” I was shocked.

A bit bewildered, all I could begin to say was, “Uh… my life?”

I had to sit there, in this office full of people waiting on chairs, people behind desks, people everywhere, my youngest son at my side, and find a way to answer this woman. I strongly felt that she had no business asking this question, but she was sitting there typing away on her computer into the system holding the records of my life and the power over my keys to living it, and so I tried to answer her. I immediately burst into tears.

After fumbling an answer (which was really a list, because it was no one thing but several and I was otherwise lost for words) she eventually agreed that I shouldn’t be working right now. But I can’t shake the feeling that was a bit of a sadistic thing to do. Either she likes to make people suffer and watch their reaction, or she didn’t understand at all what PTSD implicates.

PTSD means to me that if someone tells me that’s been their diagnosis, I say “I’m really sorry” and I do NOT say “That must be hard” (because we don’t need to be reminded or told how to feel), or “What do you think that stems from?”

If I have a friend with PTSD, I ask “What do I need to know about this?” and let them tell me what to avoid when interacting with them.

You would not serve your vegetarian friend a rare steak. So don’t ask someone with PTSD to tell you why they’ve got it.

To ask them to explain why they’ve got it is to ask them to recall the incident that caused it. That is most certainly a trigger. Like serving a vegetarian a bleeding piece of meat and forcing them to eat it, this is cruelty for someone with PTSD.

Their reactions could be so much more than just crying or getting sweaty palms. You could find yourself in a dangerous situation very quickly if they suddenly suffer a dissociative episode (black out) and go into survival mode.

If not danger for yourself, it could be dangerous for the other person. This stuff is no joke. Panic attacks are not fun, feeling out of control of your reactions is not fun. (Yes panic attacks are real, no they are not made up, and it could happen to absolutely anyone.)

PTSD means to me that because a trigger could happen anywhere, at any time, I don’t go out much. I don’t socialise much, and if I do, I have to put on a brave face and force myself to do things. Because people in everyday life don’t understand, and can easily label sufferers of PTSD “crazy,” the best option for many is to shut themselves away. The lack of understanding of this condition, the same as with most mental health issues, is ultimately delivering a death sentence to those of us who have these conditions.

We are being forced into cages, we who were once just as normal as the next guy, because of luck of the draw, because of ignorance, because of the stigmatization of something that could strike any one of you suddenly and without warning (though I really hope it doesn’t, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone). In these cages we cope day by day until we cease to exist. Is that really living?

PTSD is like a mental scar from an occurrence that caused a mental wound. In order to reduce its similarity to a death sentence, it would be wonderful if everyone took some time to educate themselves on the condition. Especially those who might come in contact with people affected by this. If not, I hope this article from one person’s perspective has given enough of an introduction to the subject, with a few key points to consider.


Video clip used with permission of Burden of Freedom.

Let’s network- add your blog here.

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Hello everyone!

Inspired by someone else (forgive me as I can’t remember who you are) I would like to leave this space for you to add a comment and tell everyone:

Your blog address

What kinds of things they’ll find there

Anything else you deem important

(Please keep your posting of links on this blog exclusively to this post unless the content is highly relevant to the original post.)

I’m new to blogging and when I first started using WordPress I had no idea how to find other blogs I might like. I started following everyone back who followed mine but now my email inbox is blowing up. A lot of the blogs I subscribed to are not at all relevant to me or what I like to read. Now that my follower count is up there, I can no longer follow every blog that has followed mine. But I’m really thankful for all the support and want to give back to you folks.  I also want to subscribe to some more blogs, but mainly ones that are applicable to my interests. So if I can’t follow you personally, maybe someone else seeing your comment will.

Then reblog this so your own followers can have a list of a bunch of cool blogs.

Ready? Go!

Being Poor

I was that girl in school.
The poor girl.
The one whose uniforms weren’t like everyone else’s. The one whose clothes were only new if the store was closing down and had an 80% off sale.
The one who, when all the kids had their names called on the day school portrait orders were delivered, never had her name called.
The one who never got to go on the school trip unless it was subsidized.
The one who always took seconds in the lunch line if there were any extras.
The one who was ridiculed for having greasy hair because her family could only afford enough water to bathe once a week.
The one whose experiences in life were exclusively limited to which ones had a special funding program for people who couldn’t afford them.
The one who stole food stamps from her mother’s pocket when she was asleep so she could buy a candy bar every once in a while because her mom always told her “no.”
The one who, knowing how much it sucked to be poor, sometimes gave those food stamp dollars to the vagrants on the street that looked more hungry than her.
I was that girl, who has never quite understood or got over how anyone could take the backpack she carried on the first day of fourth grade and rip it to shreds along with the expensive floppy disks and school supplies inside, which would mean a sacrifice to replace.
I was that girl who, while everyone labelled her an “over-achiever,” was taking the most advanced mathematics and science classes she could in the hopes that if she tried hard enough, she would get a degree one day and have a job that would mean that when she had a family of her own, they wouldn’t have to know what it meant to be “poor.”
And who, when she fell pregnant at age fourteen, didn’t press charges against her rapist for what he had done to her, but because she didn’t want him to do it to anyone else; Because she had already been shown for so many years that she wasn’t worth much anyway.

Being poor is so much more than how much money you don’t have in your bank.

Whatever

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching…

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Dear Lucy 3

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    Dear Lucy,

         Today is Father’s Day. Do you know how awesome your dad is? He takes you hiking with your brother, takes you to church, gives you hugs…

If you’d have stayed with me you would have never known this man. I could probably have never taken you hiking. You’d have had a brother, and hugs, but the church you get to go to is so much more fun than any where I lived. And I’m almost certain you’d never have had a dad.

When I grew up I didn’t have a dad around. Sometimes I didn’t mind, but when I got older I was able to see how important dads are. I didn’t want that for you, what I had. I wanted better for you.

When you were in my tummy, there were a lot of things going on. A lot of sad things. I knew that if you stayed with me I would be so sad that I couldn’t take care of you and your half-brother, who was five at the time, properly. I didn’t have a big family and a lot of help. We were alone and didn’t have much. Not even a house to live in by ourselves. I was scared and wanted to do the right thing.

This is one time that my dad was around. He was usually mean, but this time he did something nice. He gave me a way to talk to your mom and dad. Because of this, I was able to get to know them a bit, and knew that they were the right family for you.

With them, you’d have a home. A big family. You’d still have a big brother. You’d have more than just a mom to give you hugs, you’d have a dad to do so much more than that. You’d be safe. And happy.

Love Always,

Birth Mom


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What is Dear Lucy About?

Dear Lucy 2

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Dear Lucy,

As I write this to you I am several thousands of miles away. It rains a lot, but not the warm kind of rain I remember in the summers when I grew up.

When it would stay light outside until late, like it’s doing now, we would sometimes have thunderstorms. The clouds, full of rain, would be purple against the bright pink sky. I’d stand in the puddle in the gutter with just my bare feet and let the rain water rush past my toes. I’d be soaking wet, and I didn’t even care.

It’s a wonder I didn’t get struck by lightning all those times I stood out in those storms, but maybe it’s because the trees in front of my house were so much taller than me. Watching the lightning in the storm-clouds was one of my favourite things to do. I wish there were storms like that here.

We had a lilac bush next to our house when I was little. The flowers were light purple. I looked forward to the spring and summer seasons when they would bloom. Their smell remains my favourite smell to this day. I get really excited when I see lilacs.

I lived next to a baseball stadium. In the summer we would always hear the announcers talking about the game over the loudspeakers. I didn’t much like baseball, but I’d be listening as I’d play outside with my jump-rope and hula hoop. I had roller skates, too. My sister and I had matching pairs. We were always playing outside. She even taught me to ride a bike.

Sisters can be pretty cool; I’m glad you have some. Did you know, my sister gave me the idea for your name? When she said the name I almost cried. It was beautiful and it was meant for you, I just knew it.

Love Always,

Birth Mom


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What is Dear Lucy about?