Sunday, November 5, 2017

We are family, Manson family

Most days being an abuse survivor doesn't even come up. Especially after years of recovery work and a great mental toolkit. Then there's today.

Today events conspired to push me toward the edge of a massive freak out. To a "normal" family (as if there is such a thing), death will create sadness and other emotional reactions. Sure there's anger in the stages of grief, I just think mine is pretty much the only feeling.

I wrote about it with my sister's dying a few months back. I was/am angry with my sister. Even still, I wish her peace. Mixed that. Angry Peace.

So when my mother died, I got all this paperwork about her estate. My sister was in charge of dealing with all that and it was pretty clear that she left only debt. I guess my sister kept doing something with their business because she started sending me tax partnership paperwork for it.

Like, my sister didn't contact me to say hello or share a moment of reminisce, but she sends me tax paperwork.

Now she's dead and I get an email from a law office trying to get my contact information so they can send me more paperwork regarding my mother.

I wanted to scream "GO FUCK YOURSELVES!" Instead, I emailed back that I want nothing to do with any of my family and they reply that they have to send me something to sigh to that effect. After I calmed down, I replied that I would NOT sign anything having to do with any of this. Still thinking "go fuck yourselves."

It all feels like somehow my family is going to try and screw me over again. Abuse doesn't stop with the death of the abuser. Abuse culture strikes again.

Yesterday, the attorney who began emailing me somehow got my phone number and called me. He left a frustrated voicemail and asked me to call him back. I figured I should get myself calm before I talk to him. I am going to try VERY HARD not to tell him... you know.. go fuck yourself...

So I didn't swear, I did express my own frustration at the whole situation. He must have taken some mad communication skills in college cuz I hung up the phone feeling heard.

It's still upsetting.

Writing it out helps. Singing "I Will Survive," at the top of my lungs helps. "I should have changed the locks, I should have made you leave your key, if I thought for one second you'd be back to bother me. Now, GO, bar the door! Turn around, you're not wanted anymore! Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die? OH NO NOT I! I WILL SURVIVE!"

Angry. Peace.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#metoo

I posted this to Facebook and that's for friends only, I'm hoping this will reach a wider audience. Yet another #metoo story and mine has kind of a twist. I kind of forgot about it until my journalism adviser made a post commenting on her own timeline.

To say I forgot may be going to far. Indeed I do acutely remember the incident and my whole feelings about it. More accurately, I put it out of my mind as being "not as bad" as plenty of other events in my life. I thought I might be overreacting.

Two adult male students called me vile names that no one should ever call women. And they did it in an email.

That's the problem with #metoo. Women chalk up a lot of events to not being a big deal. No one showed me their penis or invited me to their private room or chased me.

I could say that in one way this was kind of worse. It attacked me inside my house with all my doors and windows securely locked. It brought up all the mistreatment I suffered at the hands of the perpetrators that were just minor skirmishes on the very real "war on women," in the society as a whole.

And it's "just an email."

A brief background for context, I went back to college at 31. I took a magazine writing class and while I did learn some valuable things, the best part was meeting a sweet linguist in her 60's with a passion for words. Felecia dragged me into taking more journalism.

I didn't like newspapers and I didn't want to work for one. I liked magazines and she asked me to take a class on that at the same time. That I LOVED.

I also really liked the journalism instructor for her no nonsense approach to teaching. I wrote a couple of stories for the paper as part of the class and made good grades.

I signed up for the newspaper class with the intent to see how I could do something with the Internet. In 1996, not that many newspapers were online. I almost dropped out in the beginning, but the adviser asked me to stay and work on the web aspect of news.

I came up with a plan for a free page and started publishing about a month into the semester. The publication site had a feature to add more data for $5 a month and my journalism instructor thought that was worth the money. I had to take the pages home to upload because there wasn't student access to the net at that time. I spent several hours on publication days collecting stories and eventually photos and arranging them for web based publication.

I started asking for the print page editors to make sure to leave their disks behind so I could collect the stories without having to hunt for the information. Some editors resented this. I also asked to be put on the masthead as web editor and pushed my way onto the editorial board. Also tense.

I hung around the newsroom on print production day to help with copyediting (looking over stories for errors) and to remind editors to leave their disks. One male page editor griped at me so harshly I left the room in tears. I don't remember what topic set me off, but I do remember it was something about my competence.

All the women in the room chased after me including the instructor. They all told me that kid had made every one of them cry. I still feel bad that "I let people get to me like that." Like I'm weak (I'm not), but that's the feeling.

 I don't think I have ever really thought about how this all went down. Working on a college paper is like trying to bail water out of a leaky boat. It's crazed and maddening under the best of circumstances, add a handful of testosterone addled males with a shitty attitude and it just sucks.

Three of those semesters I edited the opinion page from a computer in another room. I am thankful for that separation. I'm also thankful I wasn't trying to create the web publication on the same day.

Keep in mind I taught myself every single aspect of web editing. I had some help with print page editing from an awesome fellow student, but none of them could tell me out to move a story from the desktop publishing software to a text file. I was on my own.

Once I figured out how to make a text file, I had to solve a confounding mystery that they would crash the web editor every time I copied the text onto them. I figured out the desktop publishing software inserted a new paragraph code and so I had to remove them with a plain text editor before using the story. Even with search and replace, 20 some files had to be opened, searched and saved.

I asked students to help, but they rarely showed up. At one point, one of the photo students came in to help scan photos and that cut a big chunk of my time. Lovely young Asian gal, I wish I could remember her name.

So here was my day on average. Arrive 10 a.m.. Collect disks or search computers for the page files, download stories to my own disk naming them to the order, page 1 story a etc. takes about 45 minutes. Strip codes & add title and byline an hour. If I have to scan photos, 5 minutes each to scan, crop & add caption canvas to the image. Even if it's just a tiny image on the page, it still takes all those steps.

Oh, and the scanner is on Mac and the web editor is on PC. Back then, I had to make sure the file name was done precisely, no spaces, or the PC wouldn't read it. After I had the images, I would take them to the PC make the caption canvas part of the image black in color, add captions to it. This took another hour. We're about 4 hours in and haven't even opened the web editing software.

About another hour to move all the text into the web editor and get it in order and connect images to stories. Then I go home and upload and test and adjust.

Okay, typing this all out, I'm super pissed off right now. I worked my ASS off. Virtually alone and those kids had the FUCKING AUDACITY to question my competence. Two years of my life I spent and I came in summers and did it for NO CREDIT.

So the end of my last semester, I have a conversation with my adviser about who will take over the reigns of the web page and how they want to do it for next year. Some of the students had complained that I wouldn't let anyone "help" which was a bold faced lie. My adviser suggested that I invite them to come in on the last day and learn how it's done and I did that. No one showed.

She told me that they would have to work on their own and I agreed.

I wasn't even taking any journalism classes the next semester. I started writing for a local weekly and got a cover story. Things were going well.

I don't recall what was going on, but the college wanted to stop paying the $5 monthly fee to the page hosting site and move to a different server. I emailed the instructor that they'd lose the archive and she said she'd look into moving the old stories. I was busy doing other things and I didn't pay much attention to the issue.

I believe it was even Halloween night I see a strange email and I was way more trusting back then, I decided to open it. Someone from the journalism department started out saying I'll be found out for the horrible a person I was. How I'd fooled "Mrs. B"(journalism adviser). They were gonna make sure she knew. Then they used several vile words, the tamest being bitch.

I did a search for the email address and traced it to the mother of one of the students who constantly harassed me in the newsroom. My guess that he and his buddy (the one who made me cry) got drunk and were pissed off at me over the loss of the newspaper archive.

I printed a copy and took it to the journalism adviser, the photo adviser and the head of the student's services department. Mrs. B's anger surprised me with it's ferocity and she took it up with campus police. I just wanted someone to talk to those guys and maybe give them some kind of reprimand.

The college's excuse was that it was sent to my private email. So nothing was done other than a little hand wringing.

One of the guys disappeared for the rest of the semester, but he came back the next. I went to Europe to study so I just let it alone. Even when he got selected to be editor of the magazine I edited twice. I let it alone.

A few years ago, the guy who made me cry sent me a friend request on Facebook. I'm not sure if I actually messaged him or just thought it, "You're fucking kidding me right??"

#metoo for realz.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Because of You

A few months back I posed about "rape culture" with several examples of why I feel we live inside one. Notably at the time a rapist received a very short sentence and the judge and his dad spoke of him glowingly.

The survivor, on the other hand, felt destroyed.

Today someone on my Facebook timeline suggested we live in an abuse culture because people disparage and or make fun of college kids for asking for "safe spaces." They suggest that kids don't get safe spaces in childhood. Is it any wonder they practically demand them when they get old enough to voice an opinion.

My first thought was, PLEASE NO! DON'T LET THIS BE TRUE! Then I cried. Then I opened this blog window and started to find a song to put as a title. The first thing that came up was a PLAYLIST of abuse songs.

FFS, there's a whole LIST of abuse songs. For fucking fucks sake! I live in an abuse culture and I write a blog abut abuse and I didn't realize it until today.

I'm going to throw up the caution tape here. Don't read if you are easily triggered by stories of abuse responses.
I felt pain because of the abuse I survived as a child. As I grew up I didn't want to suffer in silence so I tended to overshare with anyone.

Though I still do this, I'm still smarting from some of the SHIT people told me. So much of this makes me sad, but just as much made me ANGRY. There's a new word term that I've adopted.. Sangry. It has a little S for the sad part and the whole word angry.

Here's what happened. I told a male friend during an online conversation that I'd seen a statistic that about 1 in 4 girls get molested as children. He doubted that was true. Even though I said I thought it was higher because most of my girlfriends reported something happening to them. Then he suggested it must be "part of life."

My shock freaked me out. I was in the very early stages of my recovery and very sensitive about it all. I did have enough presence of mind to end my association with that guy.

Another time another online conversation with a male somehow the topic of rape came up and a guy started talking about how he'd love to be raped. To say I lost my shit would be an understatement. Again, I never spoke to that person again.

As a child, one of my teachers ignored me when another kid hurt me. She even abused me herself. Many times my pains were ignored as "growing pains."

JUMP HERE


I don't want to live in an abuse culture anymore than I wanted to live in a rape culture! I don't want to live in a world that has to have places that "stand out" for their care of kids.

Many people have experienced some trouble in their past. Some people use that as an excuse to end discussion. John Bradshaw says that all the birds can be flying in the wrong direction. That doesn't make the direction "right."

Several organizations now work to help children and adults adapt to flying the wrong direction. Usually they start with accepting the reality that people were harmed, intentional or not.

None of us can change the status quo until we understand the debth of the problem.

It's well past time we #endabuseculturenow

Kind comments welcome.

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.

Peace.

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.