Thursday, August 24, 2017

You were on my mind

I loved my daddy. I miss the ornery old coot.

It saddens me that he perpetuated abuse with my mother and my brother. I accept that deeply troubling flaw made their and his life more miserable. He also said racist things.

I've had lots of people in my life who said things that turned my stomach and made my blood boil. I value a rational take on the world more than any other viewpoint. Prejudice bugs me.

I challenged myself. It confuses me when other people choose to stay in the shitty family traditions they were raised with. If something fails to serve you and your community, why keep it around?

I lived with a guy exhibited the same kind of armchair racism my daddy held onto. I didn't realize it until he mentioned how uncomfortable he would be living in a predominately very nice black neighborhood. He learned it from his dad.

My dad, my roommate and his dad all lacked the self awareness to change their minds. None of them would be marching or hurting anyone directly. They all would speak loudly and inaccurate about the differences between races. Spouting.statistics completely out of context. I tried to find ways around their racism and failed.

Making changes to one's life has unforeseen costs and benefits. Someone may not see the advantage to opening up to diversity. To do so may set one apart from family.

When I called dad and told him I wanted to come visit him, he asked if my now husband was black. He had enough awareness of my character to know that I would date someone based on their character. I don't think he would have rejected me outright, but it sure would have caused tension between us for a while.

The first way I started challenging my own believes came from realizing that people judged me solely on my lack of pigment in my skin. Kids beat me up and adults praised me all for something I had zero input in creating. I thought that I would be hypocritical to do the same to anyone else.

Later, I started realizing that diversity builds beauty and stability. Nature made our skin different to take advantage of the benefits of sunlight. That's it. Just like nature made the beaks of finches different so they could eat the different food sources available to them.

Speaking of food, where would we be if we didn't have a tasty variety of Italian, Mexican or Chinese cuisine? What about the art and history of far flung nations? I don't believe in god and even I can see the value of Michelangelo's Pieta or David.

I want more compassion and joy in my life. I want more joy and compassion for people who happen to be black, or brown too.

When people start using history to maintain bigotry, I will call that out. My love for my daddy does not give him a pass. It does give me some hope that there are other qualities inside the hearts of people who have hate for people with different skin colors. I failed with opening dad's heart.

I'm gonna keep at it. Maybe something will get through.

Kind comments encouraged.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hey Soul Sister

MyKathey died and I don't know what to feel. When mom went, I felt relief. Not just for myself, but for her.

My sister Kathey came into the world to a teen mom who survived terrible abuse. I'm glad she had my older siblings for company. It mixes up my own feelings because my bond with her seems mostly one way.

I know she said she loved me. When I expressed doubts, she said I didn't know what was in her heart. I will say that is absolutely true. I don't know what is in anyone's heart. I do know what actions they take and Kathey sucked at taking loving action.

There it is. My anger. I guess I do know how/what I feel.

I am angry that she called me on the phone THREE times in my adult life. Once to tell me a cousin I didn't know or remember had died, once to tell me my grandmother had died and finally to tell me my father had died.

I know. None of her failure to bond is really about her. My mother, a deeply troubled woman, raised her first. None of that understanding takes away the pain.

Okay, so now that's off my chest, about my sister... She did take care of me. I had food and shelter and she helped when she could.

She lived a long and decent life. Might be a bit soon at 68, but I'm not in charge of such things.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Am, I said.

I am, I said, to no one there. And no one heard, no, not even the chair. I am, I cried. I am, said I. And I have lost and I can't even say way. Leaving me lonely still. - Neil Diamond.

I started crying when I put the song on to play, because it's so me. I realized several months ago that I want cards to print up. "Professional Victim." That's kind of been a running joke inside my head. I do thrive, all the time and I'm proud of myself for that. Though I talk about a lot of tough things that people don't always want to hear.

Sometimes I don't want to say them. Opening myself up to the memory of the pain, hurts like lemon juice on a paper cut. After a while, a callous forms and I can examine a painful incident as a historian examines the elements of a tragic event.

I am fat, I said. If you know me in person you probably know this. I know this, though, I see myself as big or chunky or curvy until I see a photograph. Then I think, oh, well, there's the elephant in the room.. And it's me.

I view myself as a walking, hulking scar. Millions of unshed tears and unexpressed microscopic balls of anger. They line my butt, belly and arms. It shows the evidence of beating, rape and cruelty. It is me.

I cried and I cry still. I have emotional damage. Why bother denying it? I fear leaving the house sometimes. Challenging that takes more effort than I even realize.

Because I have albinism and am I already "different," I find it a little easier to be whatever else I am when I go out in public. Fat, emotionally damaged and legally blind.

I choose to be present in public places. I use a magnifying glass to read menus, to do stuff on my phone or to look at labels. So, too, have I begun to BE my emotional self more in public.

I claim my right to space. I claim my right to go sit in the car rather than face a crowd. I claim my right to say something weird in reaction to something I don't know how to handle. I claim my right to not poop in a public bathroom because it triggers too much anxiety.

I am acceptable and loveable because of these things. I am a part. I am, I cried.

You are too.

Kind comments welcome.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Rainbow Connection

Someday we'll find it. The rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me. It amazes me how one little story can create so much emotion in me.

I have a lovely trans friend who posts all kinds of things on Facebook and she posted this poignant, disturbing story about a trans guy on a subway wishing to be invisible. I know that place well. Standing out for trans or with a visible diverseability both have hazards that people who can pass for normal may not realize exist.

My confidence belies a past that started in grade school. My white hair and poor eyesight lead to cruel children and judgmental teachers giving me grief. Certainly not all, but the ones who were bad, or even indifferent, made an already troubled childhood fraught with confusion.

One kid constantly kicked me during recess. When I told the teacher, she didn't care. Eventually she isolated me within her classroom, making me sit on the other side of the room alone. Banished to Siberia.

A few years later, another kid started throwing things at me. I happened to catch a basketball before it hit my face and I threw it back. The teacher only saw MY action and I got in trouble.

Later in high school, some guys started running along side my bicycle and taunting me. I pedaled faster and tried to ignore the "my friend really likes you, he wants to go out with you," but the humiliation left a mark on my soul. Undatable, unfuckable, worthless messages rang in my head.

My own mother called me ugly. She thought she was teasing and never got how deeply she stabbed into my soul. So I learned to put up my shields and try and brave the storms.

A memory of riding in the car with my oldest sister sparked a desire to be "just like everyone else." We drove past this house painted up with rainbow stripes and blue skies with puffy clouds. My sister said something about how gross that house was. This broke my little heart as I loved that whimsical display of joy.

I realized then, that it's safer to not stand out. Beauty doesn't save you from bullies.

I want to live in a world where rainbow houses and rainbow people are beloved. I want to find it, the rainbow connection. I want to find them, the lovers and the dreamers. I want to be part of them.

Kind comments welcome.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stolen Innocence

As part of the series on Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), physical abuse seems to be a common complaint. I would say that the severity can go on a scale from spanking to child murder. It seems that most abusers repeat patterns they learned from their own childhood or they have a mental illness driving their hurtful actions. Hurt people hurt people, as they say in recovery.

Here is my ACE:
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? Most definitely yes.

Here is my resilience:
14. I believed that life is what you make it.

The primary physical abusers in my life were both women. The most severe trauma happened at the hands of a guardian my sister and I lived with for about 18 months. I'm left with lasting emotional scars and Post Traumatic Stress because of this person tasked with taking care of me.

Skip this part if you cannot handle knowing what my guardian did to a 6 and 7 year old kid. I'll leave a marker to jump to. 

I'll just list what I remember:
Beating with Hot Wheel race tracks
Hitting while eating and being force fed
Random slapping and punching
Picked up and thrown into a sink, head first.
Required to stand still after a beating (passing out I cut open my chin once on a drawer knob and woke up in a puddle of blood)
Though these are emotionally abusive actions, they highlighted the climate of fear that I lived inside:
Intentional destruction of my belongings.
Policing bathroom habits in public
Encouraged abuse of other children
Policing play with abuse as a consequence to not following her random weird rules
Calling me all kinds of names, but the one that I remember most is "Unmanageable child."

My mother did these things to me:
Pulled me around the house by the hair
Smacked me with the hair brush until I refused to let her brush my hair
Kicked me
Pushed me
Refused medical care when I got injured playing outside (I hope that if any of these had been life threatening, she would have sought treatment, but I don't know for sure.)
There are far too many emotional abuses to list. Suffice to say that my mother didn't want me around.

Jump Here!

Though both my mother and the guardian specifically targeted me, for some reason I didn't believe it was all about me. My daddy helped by before I lived with the guardian, he showed me lots of love. Mom was there, but I didn't bond to her. I did bond to my oldest sister. She was as good to me as she was capable of. I have no memory of her abusing me physically.

I used things like my friend's home life and the Brady Bunch as examples. They taught me that people can be reasonable with each other. Places where parents didn't yell or hit each other or drank to excess showed me a whole new way of life. 

I tried to have conversations with my sisters and even my mother about the abuse. I didn't know at the time that my mother at least couldn't help me heal. As I grew up and got out into the world, I found counseling and support that took only a few consistent meetings to set some major things straight. 

I even bought a book on parenting myself, and others on having a good relationship with your spouse. Unfortunately, I picked a first spouse that didn't respond to my efforts.

I decided from as far back as I can remember, no one will ever hit me again. As I grew, I added to my list of "no one will ever..." and even added a few "must have" items to my list.

I made my life and continue to make things better with learning and exploring about myself. Though I cry easily and often, it's from awareness more than grief. I don't just BELIEVE life is what you make it, I MAKE IT SO!

Kind comments encouraged. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I Will Survive

A rapist asshole got released from jail this week and it sent me into an emotional tailspin. Said rapist received a ludicrously low sentence of only six months in jail and only served three.

I wish I could speak to the survivor and let her know there's hope and recovery. Her letter before the judge told of how she felt irrevocably broken. I know that feeling. I also know that one can find a path where it's just a small part of the feelings associated with surviving such a tragic event.

This upsets me so because I survived a year of my stepfather using my tiny little seven year old body for his own twisted actions. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that my mom told me that she thought of him as an "animal" and she didn't want us girls around this guy. She denied it when I told her after they separated though. That's not unusual for her, as some jokingly say, my mom lived in Egypt.(in de nile)

I have only flashes of memory of what was done to me, so there are some that have questioned my memories. I feel sorry for the callous folks who might think that's a reason to discount such stories. For the longest time I didn't call what happened rape, because I heard rape was a violent crime. I realize now that in can be an act of dominance.

On a child of seven, nothing about it could ever be called consensual. That confused me also, because what I do remember, did involve a physical sensation of pleasure. More like a sense of relief than enjoyment. Like having a good bowel movement or peeing when you really have to go.

Before I lived with my mother and her husband, I lived with a woman who beat me so severely that I have post traumatic stress. My little psyche wanted a caring adult to be kind to me. He used my neediness to use me to satisfy is disturbed urges.

At 12, I started my road to recovery after seeing a woman on a talk show talk about how she drank to cover up her pain from being molested. I decided then and there that I would tell people what happened to me and seek help. This didn't set well with my family.

My sister told me she was molested by my mom's brother and I should just get over it. Mom told me that I should stop dwelling on the past. I didn't want to be a drunk, I saw that had such a terrible outcome on my mother.

Feeling sad and depressed, i was recounting my story to some friends online. I quoted the dramatic statistic of 1 in 4 girls surviving childhood sexual abuse. This guy that I regarded a dear friend denied that number. He told me if it's that high, it is just part of life and I needed to get over it. It made me cry for a couple of days that I had to end a friendship over such denial.

As recently as the last year, I read that my state is devoting $60 million to testing the rape kit backlog. I remember this being a problem 30 years ago, but I'm shocked and dismayed that it's still a problem.

Today I read the story of a woman who survived abduction and rape and the police would not do anything because she had some life struggles of her own. The officers even treated her with disdain and contempt even going so far as to deny anything had happened to her.

Denial helps no one.

One of my counselors told me a story of a client's mother who would get drunk and literally hand over her child to the man who molested her. Though technically, my mother didn't do that, she did know he was "an animal." Instead of getting rid of said animal, she pushed me out and made me go live with my older sister.

Later in life mom told me a story that she didn't blame me for their divorce. She said she caught him in bed with a man. I dunno who had the higher order of sickness, him or her.

Our society needs to stop ignoring rapists. We can start by expecting and if us survivors have to do it ourselves, demanding the testing of all rape kits collected, then using the DNA results to match against the sex offender databases.

We need to stop revictimizing survivors by blaming them and forgiving rapists. Dressing provocatively or being intoxicated does not give anyone permission to commit a crime. If that were the case, anyone convicted of driving under the influence should be released.

I'm not asking anyone who survived to use their name in public, but why should there be ANY shame on the part of the survivor? We don't withhold the survivor of a mugging or attempted murder's name.

How about we teach boys and young men about consent? Lets start with letting them know that not everyone wants their attention and that's okay. Waving to a freind is just as fun as hugging them.


Kind comments encouraged.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hippy Hippy Shakes

As a polymath, scanner, multi-potential or whatever name you wanna call people who have such diverse interests like me, I'll try something new just for the fun of it. A few weeks ago I started a project to tie dye some clothes. Here are my experiences.

I had a bag full of miscellaneous shirts that I'd bought at thrift stores and a few left over gray shirts from our business and because I'm a creative type, I chose to overlook a few flaws like random stains on these clothes. So I tucked them away in the hopes of figuring out how to make them pretty wearable items.

I especially like shirts with unusual collars. I had two from my grab bag, both with a coppery theme. One the main color blazed a brilliant azure or turquoise and the other sported a mainly green hue with copper, silver and gold sequins.

The green one I choose to color block to not detract from the pretty collar. Murry had the idea of using small bungee cords and that worked so well, I'll for sure use those in the future.

I bought some fabric paint, including some pens that looked glittery and some stencils and I already had some art supply stamps from long ago. I didn't end up using these on this go around, but my first tie dye experience didn't work out on every item I tried it on, so I have some tools future creative acts.

I saw some shorts and capri pants on sale at a local store I love to go to and after looking through the selection, they only had my size in white and one yellow pair of shorts. I just wanted them for pajama bottoms so I was gonna buy the yellow ones until I remembered all my used clothes in need of a bit of creative action too. I got one pair of shorts and one capri in white instead.

I had hoped to get a "cheap" package of dye in purple as that is my favorite color. I was kind of hoping they had some dye at the dollar store, but no such luck. While looking at the various dyes, I noticed a tie dye kit for the price of two of the single color dyes. I bought that and made a plan to try it out on my next day off.

Murry helped me set up a table and went out and bought a few last minute things I needed that we didn't have in the house. He's an excellent gofer and he snapped all the photos.

I carefully looked over the instructions and looked at all the various methods for how to do all kinds of neat effects. The kit came with nice thick bands, decent gloves, red, blue and yellow paint in powder form. The instructions said you could mix them for different colors. It said you had limited time once you mix the dye, so I had to tie everything up before I mixed anything.

It's very time consuming binding each piece. It came out really neat and especially great for my first try.

Next time I'll buy another kit and then I can use the old bottles to hold the mixed colors. I saved nearly everything. I'll also buy or find some really thick bands for better ties.

I experimented with clothes pins and maybe I'll use some clamps or something like that next time. I also have to remember to use gloves when rinsing the dye. I had blue fingers for a couple of days.

My boss told me that there's a wash that will make the dye keep it's deep rich colors and I think I will wait overnight before rinsing the dyes.

I might order the dye online and get extra yellow. I ran out of that pretty fast. My boss also showed me a neat effect using ice to make a neat mottled look.

As always with my blog, kind comments welcome! What are your favorite tie dye tricks and tips? I had loads of fun.