Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

#hotline

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Lately, I have been very raw and sensitive and emotionally reactive. Being that way comes with effects, which include being oversensitive to damaging others. Things like feeling really gutted for days if I unintentionally hurt someones feelings, and digging too hard into myself to look for subconscious sinister motivation, when I forget or misconstrue boundaries and tolerances (we should do this as recovering abusers, as I am, but I get relentless and shameful in it when triggered or emotionally fatigued — I go back to the habit of digging for the molten core of awful I must be to be capable of being so shitty).

Generally when that happens is when I reach a tipping point where I go into isolation to avoid people. That, I have discovered, is when I usually fall into the pit.

I have been noticing this, and noticing that I have needed to talk numerous times in order to mobilize myself to be functional in the last few days, and even after scrolling over my lists, short and long and public and private, I find I have no one I feel I can talk to in those moments.

This is all self talk, shame, depression, and insecurity. I am blessed with SO MANY people I can talk to. Perhaps they might not understand, and perhaps they might not be the people who are immediately around me. But I can speak without logical fear of retribution to many people in my life. Yet I don’t, or if I do, I am so clumsy and desperate and self critial that I feel bad about it afterwards; I didnt ask well enough for proper consent before talking about something potentially triggering, I took up too much time uming and stumbling to get my words out, and so on.

And well, writing here is triggering more often than it isn’t, to be perfectly honest with y’all.

So I called the hotline again today, while I was stuck managing the anxiety of going to a place I work where someone who violated my boundaries and emotionally abused me also frequents, still vibrating from #metoo triggering. 1 (800) 273-8255. I talked to a person who has already given consent to hear whatever it is I need to say, who is not my friend thus also not my long term emotional responsibility, who can also hear the details of that assault without potentially having personal investment in protecting the asshole who treated me like shit.

1 (800) 273-8255

1 (800) 273-8255

1 (800) 273-8255

A little poop on the stigma, and a glimpse of what a suicide prevention hotine actually looks like:

“I got into this field because when I was a teenager, I was also trying to kill myself on a monthly basis, or cutting myself, or ending up in the ER,” she says. “I finally met a therapist who said, ‘Well of course you want to kill yourself. Your life is terrible.’ And the moment she said this, I thought, ‘OK, now I can fix my life.’ Because before I had been so busy trying to prove to people that my life was bad, and once someone believed me, I could go do something about that.”

That’s why, according to PM, traditionally trained clinicians are not always the best crisis counselors — they first have to unlearn a lot of what they were taught.

“Most counselors and social workers are profoundly uneducated about suicide prevention techniques,” she says. “This can lead to a lot of frustration or even panic.”

On the other hand, “at one of my hotline jobs I worked with a guy who, on paper, looked like a terrible candidate,” she continues. “His last job was manufacturing, and before that he’d been a bouncer at a couple of different strip clubs. But … he was the most sensitive person ever, and he knew how to approach a call. ‘It sounds like you’re thinking of suicide.’ Totally non-judgmental, but puts the topic out in the open so we can talk about it more freely. When he’d hear a person talk about why they wanted to die, he’d be compassionate. ‘Given all that, I understand why you’d think about killing yourself.’ That may sound like a really bad idea, but it’s actually been proven to be really effective: You’re actually hearing them, which makes them feel more open to talking. Then you can circle back to reasons to live.”

Source, with All The Trigger Warnings: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2338-5-disturbing-things-i-learned-working-at-suicide-hotline.html

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Friday, August 18th, 2017

I’ve been observably manic since last week, and my appointment with my social worker was canceled this week. I’ve fallen into the online social justice trap after a successful march on Sunday where I stepped into the opportunity to utilize my skills and street medic, expecting that I would have the aftercare of a therapy session the next day. So often, these small victories in actionable social justice incite me to return to old habits and guilt fueled hubris if I don’t take care of myself properly. I tell myself I cannot stop, because it feels righteous. I tell myself I cannot take a break, because those below me in oppression hierarchy cannot take one. I note others moments of rhetoric to convince myself that no one I am fighting for has any respite, no one I am fighting for ever takes a bath, or a meal, or laughs about the good things in life with friends. With dwindling reserves and increased isolation I maneuver traumatizing, triggering subject matter and personal pain for The Cause, whichever flag it is I wave at that moment, with an unspoken urgency that I must do it all myself, that I must be the one to stand loud and naked and public and brave and triggered, and that what little I am doing by putting myself through these things in the gaze and at the mercy of others matters more than it does. My nearly-lifelong addiction to social media is insidious, and once again I face the maddening dichotomy of what fuels this addiction, so I can dig in my heels and stop before the tide turns, and I find myself latched to 1’s and 0’s when I crash, to once again find I am alone, in the dark, and in real fucking trouble.

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

Monday, June 19th, 2017

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

I’ve been struggling badly with my mental health since last fall. It’s been pretty awful in general, and then the small shred of resource and sanity I felt I had — my van/house/freedom — did what vanhousefreedom things do when they have 204,000 miles on them, and started breaking things.

Expensive things. While I was 3000, 1400, and 800 miles from ‘home’, which is a place I don’t really identify much with anymore, that I can’t afford to stay in, but is the most familiar to me.

I’m broke, in quite a bit of credit card debt, which is rising as I’m trying to take care of my body, which is also really pissed, and enjoyed a ratio of playing shows that leaned toward the ‘really sad empty dive bar’ sorts of ways far, far too often for my tender worrysome heart.

I’ve got pals and a warm place to sleep, which is helping me not completely lose my shit. I’m also spending most of my time manically making slapdash art, or sobbing and paralyzed and thinking about how easy it would be to clip an aertery and be done with this shit.

Every day, though, I do something meaningful to get better. I’m seeing a chiropractor to take care of my spine. I got that horrible inflammatory IUD pulled out, and acknowledged my gratitude for the ten years of effective birth control that little angry shit provided me. I’m on antibiotics for an infection I’ve likely had for about 8 months. And for now, I am living somewhere I can actually stand up in.

For a while, I was taking classes to get my massage license back before recognizing the returns were not sustainable (and, let’s face it, I’d be much better off making sandwiches 8 hours a day than going back into the job of touching people). But I enjoyed the classes and I learned things. That’s what you take classes for, right?

I’m also working edges like usual, one of which being to get better at letting go of money when I spend it, rather than being attached to the notion that everything I spend money on be some sort of investment.

I’m having a particularly hard time working up the nerve to get back into therapy, though, and to get on meds, which I’ve recognized it’s time for me to do. Like, actually do, and go through with, this time. I have an appointment with my primary care person in July to talk about it, but frankly, I’m really worried I’m not going to make it that far.

I’ve attempted multiple times before when it’s gotten this bad, and self harm is becoming a regular thing to deal with the sobbing fits, like the one I am stuck in right now while attempting to get ready for the one damn thing I committed to doing today.

I spend so much effort holding in a wall of sadness behind my face, and when the dam breaks, relief doesn’t come with it. Just more pressure and exhaustion. I think about doing the morning walk-in freeforall at the clinic, or going to the ER, usually multiple times a day. But I don’t.

I’ve been trying to figure out why, after so many years of being capable of getting help after how hard I worked to get there, I’m so stuck now.

I feel like my spirit is broken and no one can help me.

I’m consumed with fear that hopping on a medication rollar coaster will make it worse, and I don’t think I can handle anything more.

It seems I’d rather smack at myself qnd bruise my own face to feel relief than walk outside and pull weeds out of the ground (and risk fucking up my back again, I say to myself. Oh, my back went out while putting my pants on a half hour before a band rehearsal about a month ago. Did I forget to tell you that? Probably).

It’s hard to remember a time I’ve felt so alone.

But even moreso, I am finding that I am deeply mistrusting of the health field now. The last two therapists I had (out of four) had pretty shit boundaries.

Both relationships were helpful in ways, but ultimately the situations were very messy and consisted of a lot of loss, especially the last one, which was long term and complicated and multifaceted and ended traumatically.

There are quite a few things I used to be interested in/enjoy that I no longer enjoy after realizing I had to get out of that relationship. And getting out at all kicked up so many self criticisms I have about my limitations in maintaining close connections, and so often being the one suffocated and scrambling to get away.

When that relationship broke, so did my last frayed ties to the ‘healing community’, my trust in it, and my trust in my abilities as someone who was once a teacher in that realm. It broke my confidence in my worthiness to continue to be any type of healing guide or mentor, too. For the best, maybe, but disorienting all the same.

Of course, as I have created distance, I have recognized where being in unethical ‘healer’ relationships enabled me to be unethical and damaging to others myself in my care practice.
For the bulk of my time in the scene, I was surrounded by and looking up to healers and mentors providing therapy to people they were fucking, providing therapy to people they then started fucking, providing therapy to friends who didn’t ask for therapy, incepting their own notions and beliefs into vulnerable people looking for their help, having unintegral boundries and phasing in and out of roles without communicating or garnering consent.. the list just went on and on. And I belonged there. That’s the kind of shit I did, too. I think about some of the things I chose to do now and cringe so god damn hard.

It was a shitshow and I’m glad to be out, but, I’ve not found an alternative for the positives being in those communities allowed me to receive. The modalities, when respected in safe containers, were very powerful and helpful to me.

My trust in writing, which in the past has brought me a lot of connection and relief in the absence of stable relationships, has also faded. I no longer feel empowered by posting vulnerable shit like this and writing about my mental health struggles here. Or anywhere really.

I no longer feel fueled or that I am ‘helping’ anyone by sharing my stories, after a lifetime relying on that to make finite connections while constantly growing and transforming and leaving people behind who were important in my life but wanted me to stay the same when I needed to move on.

I simultaneously feel like such a loud obnoxious burden, and that I’ve forgotten how to take up space.

I feel like a complete sticky fucked up projectile mess, and also like I’m so constricted I can barely breathe.

But maybe broaching the subject now that I’m onto this will shift something. I’ve got shit to do, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let today be another fucking day I beat myself in the head to stop crying long enough to get it done.

P.S. if you are like I’ve been in the past and have become again and are hurting yourself to deal with your overwhelming emotions, this might help you feel like a little less of a freak about it. It helped me to remember how normal this all is, for all of 5 minutes, anyway.

Well, here we are again.

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

After some time keeping my head barely above water, my hearts busted open into a suck wound of fuzzies and my brain is linking up solutions again. Good night! 

What will I wake up to, though? Ugh, I hate waking up. Maybe that adjustment today worked, but I can’t know until I sleep how things will be when I wake up. 

I need to work on trusting my body more, and relying on my mind less. My fatigue right now probably isn’t physical. I forget that my ballcurled psychic emergency cutoff is to be too exhausted to carry out the plan. I forget that I know how to not spin myself comatose with infinite looping worry when something is wrong with my body. 

Yes, somethings wrong with probably my nerves, and yeah, it hurts. And having my legs giving out on me periodically is not any kind of ok, I’m not gonna lie. 

All the same, I think it’s about time to look into what’s happened in the SSRI world since I visited it last. Aside from being back in a mental place where I must consider that I really could die from this; I cannot accomplish my goals while feeling this way.

Is it valid? Yes. I dont deny or begrudge it. But I’ve got shit to do, god damnit. Shit to do so I can be in a position to handle whatever this is without feeling like I’m waterboarding myself while reciting the most horrible things I can imagine people I love saying about me. 

I trust you, gut. And I can’t right now. You’ll have to wait. 

I’ll get to you, too, but you’ll just have to wait.

I think.

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

If love is wishing for others what you would wish for yourself, if it is protecting others how you would protect yourself, then love is what I am likely to give in most of my moments, and what I have regarded most with in the past.

If do unto others is the basis of love, then the idea of love being any particular quality — that it is only kindness and light, that it is forgiveness, that it is acceptence, that its bones could be universally recognized in behavior observed from outside me — cannot be held authentically in that same space as autonomy.

There was arguably little humanity in how I learned to view my self, my needs, my emotional body. But there is NO fucking humanity in ‘elevated’ New Cage love.

Even Gandhi was a rape apologist and a misogynist.

Stop telling people they can only ever love others once they ‘learn’ to ‘love’ themselves.

Stop disconnecting further by perpetuating the bullshit myth that loving others is possible only once you don’t have any more personal issues with yourself.

I am love.
For better and for worse.

I am love.

Fuck you.


I need my teeth cleaned, a physical, to figure out why it seems I’m always cramping, see what I’ve got for birth control options after this IUD expires.. which might be why the cramping.

Hell, I need a massage, and more safe enjoyable cuddles, too. And I need to relax. I’m so tired all the time.

This place (Seattle/Home) has a tendency to suck me up. I got back here in May for the purpose of healing up, and it is basically October and I’ve done none of the stuff I’d planned to do the minute I got here.

It took me almost 6 months of occasionally irrational, fearful procrastinating just to make an OB/GYN appointment which is now scheduled for the middle of November.

I’ve tried to relax in significant ways, two “vacation” trips so far, and each attempt has brought expressly traumatic experiences resulting in mental and emotional breakdowns, and unexpected labor/expense.

I’ve been doing other important things, and the work I am doing now is expressly healing without me being as a professional healer. My experiences in between these mess vacations has been pretty fucking good.

But hanging out in the dirt cleaning up our human mess with good people isn’t enough. I am hoping my subconscious has been setting me up for a good nest, because that’s all I can figure has been going in this last season, with how much resistance and distraction I’ve had from going in and looking at the state of my shit.

Do you know why you enter into relationships?

Over the last year, I’ve found that my explosion into my deepened relationship with social justice marked another wall I have built up around myself. In isolation I once again have become to me a person of such deplorable character that I do not deserve the care I require to function.

Doing unpaid, emotionally intensive social justice work, which has involved a lot of painful personal dismantling and centering of others, has significantly contributed to my current state of being.

And I think I did it, to myself, on purpose. Because I’ve done so much work resurrecting things from my subconscious, apparently I have this idea that I have some sort of control over it, or something. As though having the tenacity to do that to myself again and again illustrates the instinct and the muse that drive me being fully fledged in this dimension.

But I’m pretty sure I’m still a ghost puppet and that’s not how things actually work.

“Some people need to create a nightmare far worse than the one they came from before they will go back and heal their early wounds. We see this in trauma survivors all the time. They pile hell upon hell, until they have only two choices – die, or heal the wounds they are fleeing.

I used to find this confusing, but I no longer do. Sometimes the first hell was so bloody bad that it takes a far worse hell to uncover it. Bows to those who choose to heal their hells, after so many years on the run. Bows to those trauma survivors who give reality a try before they have any evidence that it will serve them. If that isn’t courage, I don’t know what is.” —Jeff Brown

I wrote at some point perhaps a year or two ago, during Year of the Nee I think, recognizing that I’d begun embracing the work I’d been working to do in my romantic relationships on a world scale.

At the time I still identified as a healer and was in private practice, I was still on what seemed to be the front lines of hashtag activism, and it was still serving to open eyes and create dialogue among my circle. My friends were coming with me where my lovers had failed to walk, and I set out to built a new model for what my relationships looked like.

I’d also recognized somewhere around that same time, that while I do not identify as them, the diagnoses I’ve collected over the years served to assist in addressing behavioral symptoms. But it wasn’t until I entered into PTSD therapy after walking myself into a crisis center that I really began to understand the underlying cause that those diagnosis didn’t seem to be touching quite right.

Those days of blossoms of Social Justice Me from buds of Social Critic Me are pretty long gone, though. More and more I am shown and reminded that my work there is done and that flower has wilted, decayed, and died (happy fall btw). The conversation I was challenging people around me to engage with is happening now, and there are so many activists out there who are more skilled, effective, knowledgable, and deserving of platform than I am.

And yet, I still go to that place to preach and hide, to dwindling response. We are all tired of that, believe me. I don’t want to fucking yell about shit any more. I want to make art, and I want to create public protest performaces, and I want to make music and sell paintings and maybe some day get into a relationship again with someone I want to fuck.

I want all those things and yet my social media presence has turned into the adult version of phuqed.org. It is too often my new version of skinless, toolless, teen angst me pointing and complaining about the state of the world without actually doing what needs to be done for myself.

“Even though I know better, even though I can sometimes see it when it happens elsewhere (IE, Jian Ghomeshi getting the drop on the narrative first), even though I have been shown over, and over, and over, and over again that I can’t trust the narrator, my first instinct is to protect the person being held accountable for their abuse. To spend my emotional labor helping them save face, rather than protect myself by staying the fuck out of it.
This has shown up over and over again in my life. So often I can even name abuse, see it happening, see them doing it TO ME, and I walk right into it, thinking my familiarity with it makes me impervious. Makes me smarter than they are.

It’s true that the level of abuse I’ve suffered in my life has made me incredibly sensitive to the presence of emotional manipulation, gaslighting, and subversive power plays. It is true that I am well versed in these areas myself and I’ve used the tactics both unconsciously and consciously in my life and in my relationships. Knowing that about myself is how I rationalize WHY my first instinct is to put my boots on, go in there, and ultimately, protect abusers.

I say to myself that this is a chance to use my skills to say “l see what you did there”, to hold them accountable, and to get involved in the movement to stop this fucking shit from being what’s normal in our society. And then I DON’T DO THAT. My sensitivity is there, but my sensitivity is often like a rolling compass. My brain works, and it works well, but it does not work when the person who is abusing is someone I view as being in a position of greater social capital than me.

I choke. I get freaked out. I go into compliance. I protect their feelings. I talk myself out of saying things I need to say because they are harsh, because they reflect things I’ve done, because I’m ashamed of having done those things myself.

I give myself credit for having critical thought I don’t have access to in these situations. The work I’ve done has not made me the person I thought it made me. Sometimes I can behave like that person. When I see someone as being on a level playing field as me, I can be that person. But that’s rare. It’s a lot more rare than I’ve let on.

It is true that part of the reason I don’t have better access to this skill I sometimes have is because I have been conditioned and oppressed my entire life, and part of that is having been told that I cannot trust my instincts. It is true that I have patently been victimized by this cultural reality.

It is also true that I do not have access to this critical thought because I am still using these tactics myself. I am still controlling the narrative and running from being accountable for the things I’ve done in my life. I am still using toxic masculinity to protect myself and garner power.

This has become more and more clear in the last year as I’ve stepped into my nonbinary gender identity. When I did that, all of a sudden the sexist femm degrading slurs started creeping back, like a fucking tick. I’ve imagined it feeling like tourettes, though I have no actual frame of reference to assume that. I only know that when I am angry, stressed, or triggered, I feel like I HAVE to say them, like I will fucking explode inside if I don’t say them.
The anger started coming back more often, too, and the association with my masculinity being violence and guns and militant appearances resurfaced.

I am a person who was forged in a way that I have to get ok with the expectation that I will always have to be managing this shit. I am an abuser who was raised breathing and eating and drinking abuse. While I have experienced times in my life when this was not as apparent as other times, this is something that I’ve never fully accepted and embraced about myself.

I am learning that I don’t have the luxury of being the idealist I’ve been trying to be. I expect I can’t be living on a shoe string, floating around in a van, alone, without emotional or intimate support, resources, or even a therapist, and live to the level of integrity that I need to live by in order to be ok with myself and who I show up as.

I’ve tried to name what I’ve been noticing about my personality shifting and recognizing that I’m experiencing setbacks. Many long posts written and deleted, acknowledging that I’ve been slipping. I haven’t really known how to approach it and all of the posts have felt like I’ve been making some kind of announcement as a perceived social justice leader, like ‘here I am, being an example’ and that just didn’t fucking sit right. It felt good, but it didn’t sit right.

I have to find a way to do better.”

I’ve noticed that while my mental diagnosis’s over the years (Bipolar disorder, Attachment disorder, CPTSD, Depression, Anxiety Disorder) have not painted the entire picture, incrementally addressing their symptoms has brought me into better alignment with myself, relieved some of the burdens of keeping myself alive, and given me insight into the deeper and more complex elements at work in my psyche.

In my seeking, I’ve been wanting to move into some sort of somatic therapy, ultimately in an effort to reacquaint myself with my sexuality and safe touch. I am tired of being isolated and touch starved. I want to learn how to allow touch and sex and tenderness and cuddling back into my life in an authentic, whole hearted way.

“I still believe if I go back far enough, if I heal hard enough, if I dig deep enough, I will come to the place in my life that I can remember being.. Not this. The time in my first tiny memories before it all started showing. Before the behavior problems happened. Before people started shunning me because I was violent and reactive and weird, or embracing me because I was a 6 year old adult. Before the suicidal/I wish I was never born thoughts. Before I started running.

I was tiny and there are so few of those memories, but I have them. I’ve believed in them like most people believe in things they hold dear enough to ignore facts: like the one that tells us that memories are unreliable as shit.
But even if I give myself the benefit of mine being accurate, these tiny faded senses of what I was Before, they don’t matter. I can never dig myself back there. What was installed after them was firmware that I can’t roll back, can’t even dig through.

Who I fundamentally am includes a dozen versions later than where I have been trying to go.

I will never have the peace I’ve been searching for.”

Black and White Image: Foggy ocean horizon

Liminality

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”[1]) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold”[2] between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

Experiencing this In Between, where I still notice and attract familiar interlocking wounds with people, but recognize my instincts and veer away before I’ve done the sort of damage I’ve identified with relationships, has been very, very educational. And frankly: Rewarding, in that awful way of people like me who are always moving.

“I understand it now. I know what the compulsive development drive is. I know when I will feel satisfied with who I am as a person.

I am working now to become someone with the resilience and the knowledge and the discipline and the alignment and the tools to stand accountable for the atrocities I committed while being a fucking insecure terror for most of my life.

I want to be able to see anyone from my past at any time and know in my gut of guts that I will survive whatever I have coming to me, and I will hold presence with it in a way that will not cause me more harm, and if it does, not in a way that will ripple out to others.

I don’t know if this is any more reasonable a goal as digging out my psyche to once again experience the perception of my lost innocence but there it is all the same.”

Thus far, I’ve engaged in therapeutic efforts to address all of the diagnosis’s I’ve been given, except one: Borderline Personality Disorder. The impact of accepting this diagnosis as reflective of my personality is devastating to my self image. I’ve done just about every fucking mental gymnastic I’ve been able to do in order to avoid addressing it.

The stigma associated with people who have BPD (a ‘womans’ mental health issue, too, btw, diagnosed 3x more often in women than men) is suffocating. It’s like fucking hysteria was in 1900. Like Sociopathy and Psychopathy, both of which Social Justice Me has been desperately trying to dismantle my prejudice about and stop using as pejorative insults, people labeled with BPD are often viewed as lost causes to be emotionally abandoned by anyone with their head screwed on straight. They are seen as self serving emotional vampires with no hope of being anything else. I don’t see positive comments on the internet about people who have Borderline Personality. From the looks of it even their friends talk shit.

Are my friends talking shit?

I have struggled intensely with the ableism I embody toward mental illnesses such as these. I am afraid of what’s ‘wrong’ with me.

I cannot show up as the person I want to be until I address myself. And I am tired of trying to be someone I am not yet, or the someone I was before and can never be again, while setting myself up to externalize what needs to be my inner work.

I cannot continue failing in this.

I will not continue to make my suffering and profound feeling of hopeless disconnection an integral part of addressing my privilege in society. I release that coping strategy as the waste product it is and look forward to the fertilizer I’m gonna have a year from now when I’ve long forgotten what I wrote here.

I will not continue to abandon myself in response to seeing how our culture has abandoned others. To do so will continue to create an atmosphere where I feel martyred, unseen, and unsupported in the communities I interact with. It is up to me to find my place in relation to those communities, not make one for myself within them.

I will not continue to ignore my warning signs and put off constructing my life around taking fucking care of my mental health. I see that life is pushing me in that direction, anyway, even as I try to resist the change.

So, I am back on the blog. Back on the therapy and accountability track, finally doing what I came back to Seattle, limping and licking wounds, to do.

Right on schedule, I guess, when you think about what my falls and winters are generally like. But I think this metamorphosis will be a big one. I think that perhaps if I am successful, it will be so successful that one might not recognized it’s happened at all.

I am ready.
… I think.

Fuck I am tired.

My Last Spoon

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Inner Voice 1, immediately after taking the first pull in weeks from ther dab rig: “She AGREED to it! How is this NOT her fault?”

Inner Voice 2: “You mean it ISN’T our fault all this happened?”

Inner Voice 1: “Dude. You warned her about what the fucking cat needed. You told her she was indoor/outdoor and you were worried about CJ only having the balcony. You told her the cat hadn’t been around toddlers so you didn’t know what to expect, but that the cat doesn’t respond well to being alone for long stretches of time either so the family environment might balance shit out.”

Inner Voice 1: “AND you even fucking gave her time with the cat before we packed up and fuckin left as a trial run, and she said she absolutely wanted to keep her knowing you’d be gone AT LEAST A YEAR.”

Inner Voices into the mirror: “A FREAKIN YEAR!”

Inner Voice 3: “You even told her that you had noticed that she tended toward men, when it seemed like CJ wasn’t taking to her immediately but loved her husband and son.”

Inner Voice 1: “And not even a weeks time later when we’re already hundreds of miles away she fuckin’ says she can’t hack it, and then dumps the cat off on someone who lives in an urban condo, works super long hours, and is MTF HRT. On top of that all that. That was HER fault.”

Inner Voice 2: “But I still feel so bad. I feel like feeling bad means being in the middle of this now has got to be my fault somehow.”

Inner Voice 3: “It’s because we didn’t speak up about the situation not seeming like a good fit because the person taking CJ in was trans. We didn’t say a lot of what we needed to say because of that, specifically, not wanting to rock the boat or hurt their feelings after being considered. We let this happen because we didn’t want to deal with looking like a bigot or being questioned about why. Even though we had so many other reasons to say no, it is our fault because we’re fucking transphobic!!!”

Inner Voice 2: “Ok now I feel even worse.”

Inner Voice 4: “It’s our fault because we expected someone else to take on the expense of having CJ but let us retain ‘ownership’ and be able to maybe take her back whenever we got home and could have a cat again. It’s our fault because we’re a hypocrite capitalist financial fucking leech and neverending pit of needs and a horrible burden on everyone around us.”

Inner Voice 1: “It’s our fault because our anxiety and fear and scarcity made it impossible to find CJ a home remotely. It would have been hard and finding this person took weeks of exhausting work already but we barely even tried to find her another one once we were on the road! It’s our fault CJ ended up in an even worse position from the sounds of it.”

Inner Voice 2: “Ok jesus fuck now I feel really, really worse and I don’t think I ever even DESERVED a cat. Or money or help or friends or anything nice ever.”

(WEED, having blossomed far enough to intervene, waves a “Sleep” hand like the aliens in Dark City.)

(All the voices, including the ones who were just listening in, curl to the ground comfortably)

(Collective sigh)

Me, calmly petting a large green cat: “As you all know, we have shit to get done, today. Super, super, reasonable, shit. Shit that we are totally capable of doing. Y’all have been at this with one another long enough, driving this bus.”

(Me puts out ther cigarette, only two drags in, like usual)

Me: “We aren’t gonna spend another day on facebook complaining about our feelings and being all caught up in how we’re not a perfect person. We aren’t gonna spend another day procrastinating, reading Everyday Feminism and The Establishment, posting links about personal development and how hard it is to be single and what a garbage fire the world is. And we are NOT going to continue getting into fights with people on the internet for pointing out that they too are also not a perfect person, either.”

(Flat Starvation Stomach growls, writhing uncomfortably. The two raw eggs and glass of OJ are processed. The familiarity of hunger returns. The smell of days of body odor lofts into the room for a moment, then disappears.)

Me: “…while in utter fucking depletion, no less. We are just gonna get. Shit. Done.”

With the voices no longer drowning out my commands, my body proceeds to begin responding to my direct requests. I decide I will start by taking care of packaging the things I need to return to Amazon, some of which are in front of me on my friends kitchen table, along with the return labels another friend printed off as a favor for me yesterday — one they probably don’t know helped me as much as it did. I even have the boxes I need. The other things, like getting food, seem too big. Start small. We’ll start small.

I am slow and forgetful, but I am moving. I walk across the living room four times while leaving to head to the van.

Oop, the keys: On the table. Oop, left the kitchen light on, switch all the way across the room. Wait, we need those printouts for the packages. Wait, before we take the boxes outside, is there packing tape in here?: Check the drawer across the room. Nope, not here, ok let’s get down the stairs, fuck my steps are loud in these shoes. Wait, I just had the keys, where the fuck?: Walk across the room 1.75 times until they’re found. Clip, clap. Clip, clap.

Me: “This is ok. There is nothing wrong here. It is just taking us time and effort to track things because we are coming out of an intense depressive phase. It’s just like any other time when we are sick. This is normal. This is what happens when we are sick. Keep Going.”

Downstairs is the same experience of tracking, fumbling, forgetting, and dropping things out of my head. Tracking the steps of packing and taping and labeling a box is like trying to catch a handful of thrown bouncyballs in my cupped hands all at once. Without moving my hands. Because they are sore, and exhausted, and frozen cold clear through.

As were all the steps of all the tasks in all the world before this one, it would seem. I under stand the sickness. From the sheer stress being noted in my body, that I had been screaming over so I couldn’t hear.

Me: “No Facebook. No laptop. No phone. No worrying. No watching, no learning, no empathizing. Remember your last spoon. This is our spoon and no one else’s spoon. We are gonna use this spoon and we are just gonna get. Shit. Done.”

The van is a different type of challenge, because it’s a van that I live in, and currently a total sty. The packing tape could be any number of places which need to be unveiled by pulling other milk crates and tools out. And now that I am home rather than in a friends house, I am swimming through a jumble of task after distracting task piled up after a weeks long depression while trying to accomplish… tasks.

But it’s a little better. I am outside. Just being outside, is getting shit done. I open up all the van doors. The temperature is nice, and there is a cooling breeze and it’s almost a little bit too cold for perfect when I am not in the sun. I keep my scarf and hat on so I can feel just a little sweaty. I’ve been greasy and unkept for days, but this sheen, feels productive.

I realize that the replacement cheap knockoff drivers side mirror is just as shaky as my newish cheap knockoff drivers side mirror and remember that buying cheap shit that is going to break is a familiar part of my existence, an annoyance which is offset by the fact that now I don’t have to dig out my new toolkit (Thanks Dad!!) from the back of the van and swap out the mirrors. I just have to put this new mirror back in its box.

Inner Voice 1: “You know what would be nice right now? Music.”

Inner Voice 2, projecting an image of Me with ther iPhone headphones in: “WANT! But we said no phone. :(((((“

Inner Voice 4: “Wait. Ancient Sacramento Friend who Works In Tech just spent a ridiculously uncomfortable $847.74 on gifting us that car stereo that took like 5 hours to get installed. Why don’t we use that?”

Inner Voice 2: “I usually don’t like to bother other people with my noise. I want to feel small and invisible and safe and secure and I am better off alon–

(WEED scooches closer to Inner Voice 2 and leans in a little, rubbing at her shoulder with its face. WEED slowly morfs into the shape of the large green cat)

Inner Voice 2, as projection of image of Me with iPhone headphones starts flickering away: “You know what, that’s bullshit. No, I don’t. I don’t want to be invisible! I’m afraid to take up too much space and being seen is scary sometimes but being perpetually unseen does not make me feel safe! Let’s use the radio!”

Inner Voice 3: “I usually don’t want to use it because of the van running and the carbon footprint and the resources and the battery drain if the van isn’t running I mean..”

(The Green Cat rubs at the shins of Inner Voice 3 while sauntering by)

Inner Voice 3: “.. but hey, this is a good place to test my fear of the battery dying. I have no idea if the radio will actually drain enough to justify how much I have been worrying. We can test it! It would be easy to ask a neighbor to jump start the van. This is our hood! Let’s use the radio!”

Inner Voice 1: “I don’t care how, just want music.”

Me: “Ok then. Let’s use the radio. Nice work everyone.”

It takes me less time this time to find my keys. There is a slight spring in my step now as I walk to the side of the van which is getting sun. I remember how cute I look when I am dressed this way, in a tank top with a hat and a scarf and my utility belt — which I just pulled my keys out of which means I just remembered to put them into — around my waist.

I imagine how cute I am opening up my door, putting my keys in the ignition, and turning on the radio of my big white van with paint peeling off and stickers on the back. KEXP is playing Love Buzz, a song that reminds me of a time in my life when I used to play Bleach on repeat for days on end, maybe as long as that last depression was, even.

Inner Voice 4 begins to question the link between how the superficial teachings of a white supremacist herteropatriarchy may have dug a trench that links my feeling pretty with liking myself and begins wondering whether it is feminist of Me to allow that process to happen without examining and critiquing it immediately, right now, and doing it publicly where we can be at the risk of being criticized, bruised and battered emotional body be damned.

The Green Cat meows, distracting them before they can say anything to ignite the others.

I smile a little at the rotten terror of a teenager I used to be and remember for a moment that I actually like a lot about who I am. Because of who she is, still, in me, even; The voice who got shit done when I needed my mama and someone holding me. The voice who convinced Me to take a spoon yesterday when I was 200 miles away from friends and out of them.

Inner Voice 1 side eyes all of Me, the actionable thief. For a moment he looks like a macro image of a spider’s eyes. I love spiders. The Green Cat stuffs itself into ther mouth before he can say anything to ignite the others, as they both wander away to contemplate quietly.

I notice my spoon in my vans drink holder, and how tight the end to Love Buzz sounds.

The other voices, satisfied for now, wander away into the background, to do what it is they do.

It takes me 12 minutes, to package two of three return boxes. I feel just a tiny bit more capable, in general. Almost done!

I stop to take an hour to write this post, because I am a fucking artist. And a narcissist. And mentally ill. The Green Therapy Cat handles the voices who want to dissect it all. I write for myself, truly, for the first time since I updated this blog.

Me: “Remember right now that we are sick. Keep Going. Just get the shit done. Do what needs to be done to get shit done. No more perfect.”

No more perfect.

It takes me 4 minutes to package the last box. I only have to walk back into the house once, before I locked the door, to get the box I needed from the garage.

When I return to the van looking for the tape, I find that I’d actually put it away again before I came back inside to write this.

Now my packages are waiting in my van for me to drop them off later today, on my way to class. Before I come back inside, I think to grab the sachet for the borrowed photography lenses that are sitting on the table, waiting to be returned. I stuff it in a pocket of my utility belt, confident I will remember I put it there.

As I run through my post edits, an email comes in: It’s the translation of the instruction sheet I asked for, for the portion of class I’m teaching tonight about the auto-populating time sheets I created for the organization.

It occurs to me that I should probably start feeding and hydrating myself, to be ready for that. I feel like maybe I have what it takes now to get that done. One more edit. Another hour has gone by.

Now I am actionable hungry. I stand up while I type the end out.

More shit to get done.

NEXT!

A Cart for Your Invisible Horse

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

I started really chewing on class accessibility issues in my work about 6 months after I moved from the Medical Dental Building downtown, to the Pioneer Building in Pioneer Square.

For those who don’t understand Seattle, that’s basically from the hoity toity business and shopping district to the historic bar crawl and stadium area where all the human resources, walk in clinics and homeless shelters are.

For a while, I was my typical entitled self that I was back then, avoiding the beggars on the street, feeling unsafe and deeply inconvenienced by their presence.

Over the course of the years I had my practice in that area, though, I transformed as a person. Some of y’all witnessed that, and know how profound it was.

The last two years I had Artful Touch, one of the biggest road blocks for me was that I wanted my work to be accessible to the types of people who were sleeping on benches in front of my office, not only the types of people who were supporting my businesses existence with their money.

I hadn’t found a way by the time I couldn’t afford, even with help from friends in terms of living situations, to stay in business in Seattle any longer (which, amusingly, coincided with the first year I finally grossed $20k, a long-time goal of mine).

And without my business, I couldn’t afford the office I’d been half living in already, so there went my last semblance of housing as well.

A year ago, almost to the day, was when I packed into the van I’d spent 1/2 of my savings on and left. I’ve spent the last year doing this:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=1Fz43w54SqRabmekWCnNyq4JRY0Y

Before that, I’d spent 6 months living in a friends backyard shed — which, frankly, turned out to be one of the best living situations I’ve ever had.

That year on the road has shown me what a fool I was. And I fear, that in most cases, people tend to remain foolish about this until it or something similar to it happens to them. It’s why it can be so easy to dismiss someone who is houseless for not behaving properly, for not having more than they do.

But I know better now. I know it is virtually impossible to function without shelter, without a place to bathe, without a way to shit. Not just function in terms of being capable and receptive to the type of exploration, trauma recovery and deep work I offered at AT, but just to fucking get the basics covered. Just to make a meal and clean up after yourself. Just to shit into the plastic bag without making a mess in your living room.

I learned this when, after being on the road 6 months or so, and not even actually hurting for industrialized comforts much via couch surfing and guest rooms and room and board via summer job, I understood how much my production rate would have to change now that I did not have a stable housing situation anymore.

I realized I couldn’t belt out the paintings and the albums and the performances like I had been able to in the past. That I needed a lot more sleep, I needed more down time that wasn’t sleep, and I had been too hard on myself for not producing as much or excelling as quickly as I wanted.

And this was BEFORE I started really living in that van, really experiencing what it was like to wake up with a start at 3 in the morning HAVING to shit and having nowhere to do it but hanging my ass out the side of my house and picking up my turd from the side walk. Experiencing the dichotomy of wanting to use sustainable methods of handling my period but having no running water. Having most of my entire world revolving around how to manage the blood when the days came. Sleeping in layers and layers of clothing and not being able to stand upright.

And this was while I HAD a place to retreat to, that was mine, and relatively safe, and warm when I wanted to put in the effort.

I am understanding another layer of this now that I am in a stationary room again for a while, and noticing how I am EXPLODING with patreon updates, the amount of energy I have now, how much less I stress about managing basic tasks, how much less time it takes to accomplish things when I don’t have to set up and tear down hunched over in a living space the size of a couch every time.

I was a fool, thinking that my desire to work with the homeless and addicted represented for me anything much more than the guilt I felt by participating in the offering of classist, privileged healing work.

I’ve stopped wondering how I can transcend a persons need for shelter and food in order to contribute to their development as people.

I get that the houseless don’t need massages or hugs or one of my cow chip cookies to thrive as human beings again. That’s the shit I needed to feel better about what I had that they did not.

It’s not just the social stigma the houseless face, the little cuts of every clumsy swishypants white girl that tries to see them as people but fails, that keep them from overcoming their traumatic circumstances. I mean, I knew that. But now I KNOW that.

I’ve stopped wondering how I can swoop in and create a magical illusionary container of safety for people who have none. Especially as someone who barely has that container for themselves. The houseless need fucking *houses*.

Now, I wonder more about what little thing I could start to do, about that.

Corners Turned

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

It’s too early to tell precisely. But I suspect I may have stumbled onto something I’d like to do for a while, which helps me to feel less powerless in the world, gets me outside, teaches me to grow food, teaches me about land preservation, restoration, and conservation, shows me how to effectively irrigate using reclaimed waste water, gives me ideas I can put into practice in my life right now as opposed to only if I had land of my own, directly helps to feed me, pays me, is helping me heal my scarred relationship with this city (and thus most cities), and does all these things and more in an inclusive educational environment spearheaded by smart, powerful, personable, women.

Whether this is my particular thing for a short while or a long while, I’m recognizing immediately within this experience that I am ready to let go of the stupid idea that the way I will make a difference is linked to my being isolated, insulated, cut off, angry, lonely, and largely disengaged with society.

I’m ready to let go of the idea that I need to sacrifice my own self and make myself fucking miserable reliving my traumas over and over again to express them for the benefit of others, being hungry and making myself poorer and staring at horror all day every fucking day to atone for the existence of capitalism, to atone for my previous place in the predatory self-satisfied tech industry, and for being white. For starters.

But most importantly, I am ready to let go of my simultaneously narrow yet long-game focus on social critique, which being immersed in had taught me and served me well but became toxic for me.

Reality dictates that without an aggressive shift in the appreciation, education and protection of wetlands and insects and amphibians and nutrients in soil (for starters) there won’t be any of us to oppress the other in the first place.

I’ve been feeling this.
I’ve been paralyzed by this.
I am not paralyzed by this any longer.

I am ready to enjoy and continue to further my appreciation of nature that I’ve developed over my first year itinerant, but to consider as I learn and re-cultivate my skills as a group leader how I might create a career around fucking doing something about what’s happening to it.

I am ready to not have to save the whole fucking world and every earth raping meatsack person in it on my own to feel like a viable, worthy human being. I am ready to no longer be tasking myself with reinventing the wheel of society in order to prove myself to be existing rightfully.

Fuck yes am I ready for that shit.

Full moon in Scorpio

Monday, April 25th, 2016

They say the full moon in Scorpio signifies transformation. In particular, they say it will illuminate things that need to be released and let go. They also mention that it probably won’t feel very good.

I don’t know about all that.

But I do know that I’ve felt like massive shit lately. Like, really, really fucking bad.  A few things have come up in the last couple days that I am recognizing it’s high time I left behind me.

My hair, for one. Bzzzt.

The IUD I got inserted 9 years ago, when I was still in full-psycho trauma mode from the worst fucking relationship I’ve ever had, for another.

And I’m also noticing new details about my dysphoria in regards to my identity.

Ideas as to why it’s so horrifying to me to not know who I am, to probably never know that, when over and over again I prove to myself that that’s the entire point.

That’s what I’ve always been as far as I’ve been able to put a finger on it; A person who changes too fast to settle into any solid basis of knowing, and who is too varied to be stable or predictable.

So why have I spent most of my life desperately trying to immortalize myself?

Why do I have 21 years of art, writing, pictures, stories, stored on my websites, dragging me back into what I used to be?

Why do I spend damn near every waking fucking minute of my life trying to show virtual fucking strangers on social media who I am in the moment?

Why am I constantly deleting my posts, constantly fighting with myself to achieve equilibrium between being blown wide open and being socially extinct?

Well, I guess I don’t know about that, either.

But, I am off the social media shitshow, in order to find out. Twitter, facebook, tumblr, G+, done for. I’ve kept patreon, instagram, and the blog.

I am tired of spending the majority of my life compulsively documenting myself.

I am tired of giving EVERYTHING I have away online.

I am tired of doing that on myopic platforms that manipulate what I and others see.

I am tired of feeding gluttonous companies that make me sick.

I am tired of wave after wave of overwhelming advertising and propaganda.

I am tired. After over 20 years of living my life this way, compulsively, addictively, I am tired.

There has to be something more. I don’t know what it is. I hope the result is that I can say whatever it is I am trying to say in a way that doesn’t crush my fucking soul and invent limitless amounts of work for me to do. But all I know for now is that I have to try something different.

This seemed like the right thing.

 

A meditation: New Cage 

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

The door to the original Pony Express Station, Gothenburg Nebraska.

Bipolar disorder, Attachment disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Serious Depression are all diagnosis I’ve received at various times in my life. 

They all added up symptomatically at the time, but there was always something under the surface that wasn’t touched by those theories. I presumed, for most of my life, that was an unattainable evil core deep inside me that simultaneously responded to, and created, the painful circumstances I kept repeating.

Medication didn’t make sense for me, mostly (I tried Zoloft for a couple months after a horrible breakup, with no intention of staying on it longer than it took to break out of the suicidal phase, and it made my brain spasm and was super fucking creepy).

Like most everything in my life, my mental problems weren’t consistent, and for me, I am so very thankful I faced what I did without getting caught up in the medication cycle. Two years later, I’d find suddenly that I had some other disease that was causing my misery. I can’t imagine what a fucking rodeo trying to medicate me would have been.

What was actually happening for me, I came to find, and which exactly zero psychologists pointed out, was that as I healed and became honestly self aware (as opposed to debilitatingly self critical and constantly trying to dig out the evil black core of me and stab it in the throat until it died) the outward and internal symptoms of my traumas changed flavor.

I thought I was a lost cause, a lot of the time, but what I was experiencing was progress. My anecdotal and professional observation is that trauma, especially for people who have formed in many types of it, seems like it should all feel the same, trigger the same set of responses in a nice tidy list (protip: there are no nice tidy lists). But each experience is locked away, and responded to, uniquely.

I really got clear about this in my bodywork practice and with my interactions with clients: If we’re doing it right, the pain moves. It changes once the shoulder girdle is attended to, moves into the ribs, the hips, knees, or maybe the neck. The quality adjusts, the locations shift, and once one thing is addressed another takes the opportunity to ask for attention.

It’s the same with mental and emotional struggle, and we don’t give ourselves room for that enough. Knowing this gives me mixed, conflicting feelings about the mental health industry. Long term, and as my only form of psychic hygiene when I first decided to get help, I found nothing more enabling of my caustic personal vendetta with myself than the brutal, over-intellectualized Western model of psychological therapy.

I am critical of its resistance to acknowledging the disembodied grief we share as a species and a collective, as well.

I had many, many levels to slog through before I got to an actual clearing in my personal work. I ran around in self defeating circles for years, it seemed. Sometimes I still do. Sometimes it’s all I can do. But not all the time, anymore. And that really counts for something when hurting myself was all I used to have.

It all came down to, rather than this cocktail of mental illnesses I supposedly had to blame, an inability to process and complete grief. Grief recovery skills (I talk about it here: http://artfultouch.info/grief-recovery/) and PTSD-specific therapy for the consequences of knowing nothing but misinformation about it for so long, were the key elements that a lot of other very valuable, helpful patchwork experiences were missing.

And still, I struggle. I want to say that having these tools gave me a happily ever after, and sometimes it even does feel that way for a while. But I am an empath, and our species is dying. I am sensitive, and I’ve rarely had a chance to heal from one trauma before another has come. I experience glimpses of comfort which fade, or less ideally, explode in my face.

Sometimes progress is taking a few steps back into the fire after walking into a dead end; a feeling I know all too well. Sometimes progress is never making it to an end goal. Sometimes progress is just surviving a whole entire life.

Stop telling people that no one will love them until they love themselves. That they are broken or inferior or somehow bereft of human connection until such time as their issues are resolved. 

Stop planting the idea in peoples heads that they are unworthy of love due to their struggles.
Stop holding ‘love’ up as the be all end all standard of human existance at the expense of being awake, taking in and processing a whole other spectrum of emotional wisdom. 

Stop listening to these out of touch, privileged assholes

But more importantly, and this is what I am finally feeling some relief from recently; stop saying that shit to yourself about you. 

Stop holding yourself and others to the inherently abusive concept of perfection.

Being incapable of being loved is not the same thing as being incapable of receiving love. 

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.

You are allowed to be both profoundly lovable and profoundly unable to receive that love in its fullness, at the same time.

Love means so many things, looks like so many things, and is so often passed off as things it really isn’t

Learn what love means to you. Accept that can be a life-long task for people like us. As you go, learn to treat yourself with that love

Along the way, others can and will share with you, and direct their concepts of love toward you; for better, and for worse.

There are infinite definitions, and infinite applications of love; You are lovable just the way you are, whether you are content with being that way, or not.

Milestone acheived: A new mantra

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

For the last 6 months or so, my self mantra has been “I love myself”.

I say it to me randomly, I say it to me when I realize it’s been a while since I said it, I say it to me when I’m sick or feeling badly, I say it out loud in the mirror sometimes.

It works well for dealing with depression, too — I still feel tired and need rest and recovery, but being depressed is not an experience in being hopelessly sad as it once was, and I credit my self talk with that.

I also credit that new self talk with my recent experiences of basically never tearing myself down when I’ve made a mistake, the most notable incident being when I wiped my own blog database.

I’ve noticed lately a new mantra emerging. Not to replace this one (I’m keeping it) but to add to it. And it’s a doozy, for me, one that has taken a lot of growth to come to, and has been almost as hard to learn to say — for different reasons, including embarrassment, social conditioning and a deep sense of identity.

It is: “I am not poor.”

Because I’m not. And I never actually have been, actually, poor.

I’ve had to make hard decisions about what my money was going to pay for, and I’ve had to go without things, some of which many people view as integral to a basic life.

But I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t maintain a bank account, and got caught up in the circular scam of high fee check cashing joints and payday loans.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have ID.

I’ve never been so poor that I starved.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have some form of transportation, be it public or a bicycle or a car or a motorcycle.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t get at least a small line of credit, and I’ve never been so strapped that I had to get marred in using that line of credit for basic life needs for more than a small amount of time.

Part of why I’ve never been in those situations is because I’ve had help in those time periods where without support I would have needed to resort to those things, many of which are choices that are incredibly difficult to come back from. Much of that support until last year stemmed from my romantic relationships.

But when I am honest with myself, those situations were a matter of choice, no matter how limited in my options I may have felt at the time. Just like moving into the van and leaving Seattle was a choice, as much as it felt like the entire world was rejecting me and spitting me out of the city.

I was in the position to lean into the support of others to sustain my life not as a need, but as a privilege. A means to live my life the way I am compelled to live it and to contribute to larger society in the ways I discover I am best suited, which often fall outside of the normality of a financial structure that’s become a matter of course for most everyone else I know.

And that has not been easy, by any stretch, to accomplish, or to receive, or to ask for, or to maneuver. I do not live a comfortable life by many, many standards.

But what it really comes down to is that I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, about my situation, about my opportunities, and about my lot in life. Because all that time, from when I was 5 years old and understood but couldn’t hold my dad’s fears of being evicted, his constant struggle with earning and leveraging money, I’ve identified as being poor, as being class oppressed.

I’ve seen and read and experienced some of what poverty really, honestly, looks like. In real life, rather than just on paper as an arbitrary number.

I am not poor.

And I never was poor.

And that’s really just the truth of it.

Achievement: Unlocked

Monday, October 12th, 2015

“Twenty years ago, if you had told me I would be doing what I’m doing now I would have said you’re crazy. There is no way I would have believed you.

We each walk a path that is our own. It isn’t always pretty. It can be painful. Messy. Destructive. And we experience things that shape us for better or for worse. I fought my path tooth and nail for a good chunk of my life. I tried to fill it with things that hurt me. Because I was hurting. I made choices that hurt people. I made choices that hurt myself.

Like many out there, I’ve survived terrible things. Seen things I shouldn’t have. Witnessed atrocious behavior and didn’t speak up.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to be happy and live a life I could be proud of. I wanted more than being a martyr or victim or to suffer in silence. It was lonely and very difficult. Many times I wanted to give up. I don’t know how I made it sometimes.

Experiencing hardship and challenges is what makes many of us more compassionate and accepting. It did me. And it showed me what I didn’t want in my life.

In my culture we call this kind of idea “ciillanguarteq”. To become aware or conscious of the world around us. We have many awakenings like that in our lifetime. It’s up to us to choose how we process and use those awakenings. It’s up to us to continue to evolve or to fight them.

One of the things I promised myself when I was younger and experiencing hardship was that I would become adept at being able to do as much as I could. Enhance the definition of our Yup’ik word: “cavesratuli”-Somebody who knows how to work on everything. I promised myself I would become an expert in as many things and types of work as I could so I would never be without a job or a way to support myself. That desire came from having nothing.

Another thing I promised myself was I would constantly work at being a better person. Learn. Grow. Change. Because I knew that who I wanted to be wasn’t who I was. That’s the difficult part. It means you have to be able to look at yourself critically and see what needs work. You have to admit your weaknesses. To yourself. And sometimes to others. It means you make the things that don’t work in your life obsolete.

What’s really hard about that, is that sometimes…it means you’ll be alone. If you’ve ever changed while others around you stayed the same, you know it’s a lonely thing to do.

I’m glad I chose the things I did. Even the mistakes.” — Estelle Thomson

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

“Beware of people whose spiritual credentials come from “study.” Look to (don’t follow) the ones who are figuring it out through their experiences, not the experiences of others. These people are born leaders, who probably reject the role of leadership. These people know suffering. They know courage. They have seen battle and survived.

Look to the ones who say “I don’t know.” Look to the ones with the scars on their faces. Look to the limping, not the shiny and new. Don’t look to the gurus who got to the top of the mountain by helicopter. Look to the ones who are climbing, dirty and exhausted. They are the ones who know the value of the journey. They are the ones carving a stairway from which they cannot benefit.” — Alison Nappi

bobbing cork in a bucket

Monday, March 30th, 2015

On one hand, my ‘fuck the bucket’ epiphany (and artistic ritual) was really valuable to align myself with a deeper knowledge.

Taking into account that myself, crabs who snip at my heels, and the crabs whose heels I am compelled to snip, were never meant to be in a fucking bucket in the first place really blew the doors off my views of the socioeconomic and interpersonal warfare I witness and am actively resisting.

It also really fucking crushed the shit out of my spirit, I am finding. It wasn’t apparent at first, but I am finding now that it was around that time that the little precursors to my epic nosedive, which I am still exhausted and recovering from, began manifesting.

It was around that time I started becoming quietly overwhelmed by the vast uncertainty in my life. Everything, from income, to vocation, to housing, to location, to intimacy, to resources, are in flux. It’s a time in my life where things I thought were stable are dying, where things I thought I needed are shedding. Things I invested years in maintaining are ending their life cycles, too. Everything is changing.

A friend described himself this morning as ‘Hanging in there. Like a cork on the ocean.’

Man. Do I feel that. Disorienting. Lonely. A little freeing, maybe? A cork on the ocean needs only to continue to do what it does; float. I relate to the frustrating simplicity in the circumstances of a tiny seabound cork. And I rather liked the implication of the impossibility of his drowning in them.

I won’t drown, either. Right?

Right.

Also I want some answers goddamnit. Any time now.

Perhaps they will come later this month, as I bob like a cork in the actual ocean.

Let me get Pretty for you.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

For Zita

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

New mix tape; revisiting the music I’ve performed to as Zita the Aerialist.

http://neevita.net/performance-gallery/

http://neevita.net/category/events/

Thank you, Zita. You saved my life.

(if player doesn’t load, please install/update flash)

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Say Something

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

“Some are quick to use the crabs in a bucket trope, but it’s important to remember that crabs were never meant to be piled in a bucket.” – Ryan Dalton

Fuck your fucking bucket. Fuck your fucking fear. Fuck you for trying to keep me in it with you. Fuck you for trying to hold me down and stop me from climbing out. Fuck you for trying to erase me and minimize me and manipulate me away from my truth. Fuck you for giving me no other choice but to leave you behind.

Fuck you for not coming with me.

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Related: Rock Lobster: Finding Home.

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PTSD no moe

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

EXPERIMENT: Cognitive Process Therapy to address nearly 30 years of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Fin.

Here are the results.

In black and white.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

As some of you may know, part of my Year of the Nee (my year of celibacy and no intoxicants) that I began in May (Half way!! WOOO!) included seeking out a more formalized psychotherapy approach.

In doing so, I ended up at the Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress unit at Harborview with a diagnosis, finally, of clinical PTSD, engaging in Cognitive Process Therapy since June. (They are amazing, and I highly recommend them).

I’ve filled out many surveys, usually every couple of weeks, tracking my PTSD, Anxiety and Depression symptoms. I’ve completed many worksheets and modules, made improvements, and things were kind of clicking, but it wasn’t quite.. complete, seeming. I still felt like my wheels were spinning for some reason, and even with all my supplemental healing strategies, I was water logged.

In my third post in my series about rape culture on Medium (the one that goes into how I am healing from it), I talk a little bit about having to be willing to be lonely. To be willing to cut people out of my life who don’t align with what I’m discovering are my core values.

I’ve had to do this multiple times — when I quit doing drugs was one of the biggest, because at that time in my life, my friend base was based on basing. I had to start over, and it was fucking scary. But.. I found new friends. Good friends. People who are still my friends, after many a transformation since.

What you’re seeing above is my depressive symptom graph. The spike is the sprint time period in which I was desperately attempting to keep engaged with the last of the rape culture intimates in my life. The last throes of my incredulousness as to where he stood. The drop is when I finally picked up my jacket, walked away, and didn’t look back.

Not everyone has the gift of this kind of visual feedback in their process. Even as I’ve felt my fog lift, even as I’ve settled into my sense of self that I have, even with how clear I have been about being done with that relationship, seeing this visually was incredibly profound.

Maybe you’re in a struggle right now. Maybe you’re trying to find your way out of something, surrounded by people you know aren’t good for you, people whose positive traits you’re weighing over your own needs, people you know in your soul are bringing you down and holding you back.

For you, and for those like you, I wanted to post this, in black and white.

You are worth dropping the cement blocks that keep dragging your face under the water.

You are worth that.

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.” – Juliette Lewis

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” – Carl Jung

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“How we call down judgment upon ourselves is simultaneously the most horrific and the most beautiful thing about us.” — Zadie Smith

V

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Sometimes, I remember what it was like to let someone who knew me hold me. Conjugated, wordless.

Someone who watched me churn and struggle with you and cry so hard I choked on myself. Cry so hard my face felt like it was going to fill and burst with blood and fall off.

Sometimes, I remember what it was like to keep someone who knew me as more than my fight with you inside with me. Someone who helped me fathom hope and victory.

Someone who helped soothe me away from you, who offered me moments of solace, a temporary haven from the war.

Sometimes I remember that haven, and the bitterness of it being gone feels like choking all over again, the tears frozen behind the caverns of my face.

You’ve taken all of them from me. All of them. Wanted me for yourself, left no room, no choice, no rules or structure around it. No matter how I have tried to keep them it always comes back to down to you, and me.

You have me now. All to yourself.

You can scream at me, you can rip my insides out, beat me down, and I won’t call on him to help take it away. I won’t drink illusion and migraines to transport myself and make your blows hurt less. I won’t coax another soul down my throat to satiate you and help me forget and remember at the same time.

It’s just you, and me. Like you wanted.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if you have me alone, if you isolate me, you will win. You’re thinking you will again rule us, you will consume me, wear me down, and I will stop resisting, I will stop looking for a better way. I will stop pushing through, stop seeking. I will stop changing.

I thought that, once, too.

But there’s something I suspect you didn’t think through, as you cackle and rise and celebrate, filling my head with pain. Something you’re forgetting, demon, while you loft and billow and pound at your puffed up chest. Fighting and sneering and looming, clouding over my mind. Hurting me. Hurting me. Slashing at me with your jagged viciousness, my fists futilely covering my head.

I’ve taken away the places you had to hide.

And I’m coming for you.

Year Of The Nee: 2.5 months

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Today, I experienced that moment, when you find out you have unlimited mental health visits.

There were tears.

Today, I also experienced the facilitation of my first Grief Recovery Method practice group, an 8 week course I began teaching this evening. I was really stunned at how knowledgable I am about the realities of grief (and the things we need to look at that are in the way of recovering from it), my tempered but genuine passion for the work, my ability to naturally connect with the participants energetically, and how easily I slipped into my own style and groove with delivering the concepts the method is based on.

Yesterday, I began a 6 week self defense class, which was incredibly empowering, and I recommend it to every single woman I know. Due to that first session, I am learning in an experiential sense that the single most detrimental thing I have done to compromise my personal safety (which includes my emotional well being) has been to unconsciously presume that announcing my intuitions that something wasn’t right would be an adequate defense.

The next most detrimental thing has been to take others at their word when they told me that intuition was wrong. Others who often insisted they were trustworthy and yet utilized the subtle behaviors of a predator, behaviors I knew were fishy but I ignored and made excuses for.

I am angry in those classes, but it’s the right kind of angry, the result of having removed the veil of smiley floweriness I once used to disguise my deep anxiety for my bodily safety while walking down a public street alone.

Also, I am learning how to beat the fuck out of people, if I have to, and letting off some bag-slamming “I. *BAM* DON’T. *SLAM* FUCKING. *POW* THINK SO. *BANG*” steam. It’s pretty fucking great.

The day before that, I wallowed, puzzled and pathetic and sad, on the tail end of a rough Saturday, in which I was mortifyingly reminded that even the best of us sometimes catch ourselves having hoped to see a fish climb a tree. When that fish simply continued being the fish it is, I didn’t exactly take it very well.

Being in mourning is frustrating and draining. In this case I managed not to isolate, or apologize for having feelings, and I’m really proud of that.

Before all that nonsense went down, I spent some time after my second Saturday yoga therapy session out of 5 contemplating the distinction between pain and suffering, surmising that one is an inevitable part of existing, and the other, is not.

The day before that, I returned from a 5 day vacation in the bay area with a long-time lady friend of mine, a trip taken in homage to our deep life transitions which parallel in timing.

We drank iced teas, ate desserts, ordered room service, and read a tremendous amount. I frequently played the baby grand piano, sat in the sauna, and got the first massage I’ve had since February after my motorcycle crash. It was an incredible gift that I am deeply grateful for.

Currently, I am doing Yoga therapy sessions, self defense class, Cognitive Process Therapy, and mime lessons every week. I am constantly learning on both a physical and mental level, about myself, my strengths and my potential, by doing things that are new for me on a bunch of different spectrums.

Most of these activities materialized in trades and cosmic circumstances, and though I often feel lost and sad and confused in my child psyche while I maneuver a life that doesn’t include filling the space in my thorax with the wants of (or the [un]conscious search for) someone else, it is clear that right now, I am exponentially supported.

Tomorrow morning, at 8am, I will awaken to Kenny Loggins serenading me into the Danger Zone. And, should I need to, I will face the book with my new-to-me Paperwhite Kindle, which arrived today complete with a badass case, and temporary my little pony tattoos, handed down to me by one of my favorite people to stalk on twitter.

I am, for lack of a better word, blessed.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

“The reason I’m stronger is that I’ve done the work.” – nee