normal to me

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artists for love

In the words of John Oliver regarding the results of the 2016 election, “THIS IS NOT NORMAL.” Now, I don’t pretend to know what exactly is normal, but I do know the future administration is dangerous and wrong and something has to be done before it goes too far.

This is beyond politics and who ‘won’ or ‘lost’. . . this is about human rights and the willingness of many Americans to overlook racism, sexism, xenophobia, and ableism to choose a beyond-UNqualified person to lead our nation at the highest level. . . it is sad, and it is scary.

Because I care about my own rights as well as yours, and because I care about the well-being of all of my neighbors, I wholeheartedly and financially (when possible) support the following organizations and groups:
• The National Audubon Society, The Arbor Day Foundation, and The Sierra Club because I know our planet’s climate is changing in negative ways and all people need to pay more caring attention to save the awesome world we share.
• The AntiDefamation League for supporting those who have been treated unfairly for generations for their religious beliefs. (I also support all beliefs and religions as long as they nourish kindness and spirituality, not guilt, shame, or profit)
• The ACLU for supporting the rights of all Americans and providing services to those who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves while fighting for justice.
• Planned Parenthood for supporting me during many of my late teen years when I needed routine care and advice, but especially when I (and my partner) made the decision to terminate a pregnancy and their staff treated me ethically, professionally, and full of genuine concern.
• The YWCA for supporting women and minorities by providing safe and secure places that include therapists and sexual abuse counselors who have helped countless survivors of abuse, including myself on more than one occasion.
• The Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor for their support of survivors of abuse and sexual assault by providing critical services and safe spaces and for co-hosting local women’s support groups.
• Gray’s Harbor Beyond Survival and the LGBTQ community for their support of all victims of sexual violence and people from all walks of life. GHBS has been a life-saver for me since this summer as I finally learn to heal from my past abuse and find my way in the future, especially in times like this when it feels like being a woman is a curse. I’m grateful to their staff of advocates and volunteers and to other survivors who have the courage to help.
• And YOU. . . no matter your age, sex, race, abilities, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation, or religion, as long as you behave fairly and kindly towards others and practice rational, logical thinking.

To that end, I am really looking forward to celebrating inclusion and joy this Saturday at the I Will Survive Drag Show to benefit Beyond Survival and their new LGBTQ programs. My heart and my dollars will show how much I care for others and support their struggles, because they are my struggles, too. And that feels normal to me.

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small comfort in sharing

untold story

I never imagined in ANYONE’s lifetime that the major candidates for the president of the United States would argue the severity of both of their mistreatment of women based on their own behaviors AND words. I shouldn’t need a sexual assault trigger warning to watch election coverage and yet, here I am, suffering PTSD symptoms, fighting a stress-induced AI flare, and visiting my local victim advocacy center for support. . .

I have been subjected to this kind of ‘everyday’ sexual harassment since middle school, from both men and women, known and unknown, of many different ages. . . comments by my peers, catcalls, rubs and grabs in crowded places, and relationships where boundaries are constantly challenged.

I am hurt by how flippantly the notion of sexual abuse is being thrown around by politicians and the media, and how easily it’s still being dismissed as acceptable. I am saddened and disgusted by the condoning of these attitudes and behaviors. . . it is NEVER acceptable to talk about any person in such a callous and disrespectful way.

These words and attitudes and behaviors sound exactly like those of MY abuser, who also was given a free pass when the issue was finally addressed because ‘boys will be boys’ among other excuses, and this kind of thinking HAS TO STOP.

I was abused physically and emotionally for most of my childhood and sexually abused and harassed during the first several years of puberty and beyond by an older boy who is close to my family. . . The only people I told were a few close friends many years after the sexual abuse happened and it wasn’t for almost 5 years that I finally told an adult.

Everything that happened after I told adults about the sexual abuse and severity of the physical abuse was done third-party and I was told it was all taken care of. . . but the reality is that it was not taken care of and the harassment continued and the physical and emotional abuse lasted for many more years. . . and no one ever spoke about it to me again.

I have never confronted my abuser about the sexual abuse but many times over the years it was happening I brought his attention to the pain and misery he caused me with his aggression, but he never expressed responsibility and certainly never even hinted at remorse.

Once, nearly 10 years after I thought I’d never have to share space with my abuser again, I had to stay in a house with him for several days and at one point was guilted into hugging him. . . that was when I knew I couldn’t live with this burden any longer and I had to heal the past to take control of my future. It has been over 8 years since that moment and I’ve been working hard, especially in the last few years after being diagnosed with several AI diseases, to feel good for the first time in my life. . .

AI (autoimmune) disease and the resulting chronic illness is a tough diagnosis for someone who has already lived a few decades of hating and not trusting her mind and body, and the recurrence of so many negative emotions from my past during the first couple of years of getting sick was devastating. . . the lack of control, the disgust and embarrassment, the guilt of somehow having brought this on myself, and not knowing if I can trust in anything or anyone.

Since I was young I have had depression and anxiety and have contemplated and questioned everything from my sexuality to suicide and all the dark places in between. I would still be trapped in that cycle of fear, anger, doubt, and self-loathing if it weren’t for the one person who cared and loved enough to help me see good and safe things in this life and want to be a part of it. . . thank you, W, for being my hero.

I have come a long way in accepting limited control of my world and in making peace with my body, but rough times like this can be a frustrating reminder of the difficulties I’ve experienced and the lasting effects of both my past and my chronic illness. Practicing self-care and finally seeking support from those who understand abuse have been instrumental in my healing and I am grateful for the ability to retreat from the world when it gets to be too much.

Please love and take care of yourself and share only love with others ❤

For more stories like mine from millions of women who have decided to share, please take a look at the following articles. . .

NY Times

PBS

NPR

it’s a major award

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prestigious

It’s only mid-month but this prestigious honor is being awarded today. . . to me! I put in three good days of work this week, prepped for weekend guests (family, yay!), and stepped waaayyy out of my comfort zone to start on a path of better mental health.

I’m looking forward to enjoying tonight’s Harvest Moon and the coming of Fall by sharing it with family around one of my favorite dinners, Harvest Pot Roast in the crockpot. . . yum!

after-party

I am finally coming down and waking up from a weekend full of family of friends. . . It’s taken me nearly ten days to recuperate and catch-up after my parents’ 50th anniversary because it was such a whirlwind of hugs and laughter, food and fun, and decorations and hard work!

Every one of our visitors and party guests enjoyed themselves and were eager to celebrate my mom and dad and their love for each other. It was also one of my uncle’s birthday, and it was extra-special for him to recall standing next to my folks at their wedding 50 years ago ❤

We had more family together for this weekend than has happened in a long time, especially for such a joyous event, and I’m thankful my body didn’t get in the way. . . My reserves are drained, but I’m motivated to keep working and creating, after I fully recover from the party excitement and muddle through the next monthly flare. September will be mine.