Denial

It’s such a comfortable place to live. I know from personal experience. I spent a good part of my life living in denial. I think that to some point, we all live in denial. We conveniently ignore the not so great bits of life – the state of our climate, how our meat is slaughtered, and who made our clothes.

We don’t really like people who push us out of our comfort zone. Our comfortable little space of denial. We start to feel a little indignant when someone tries. We squirm a little. Change isn’t something we humans enjoy very much, especially when it means changing our behaviors or confronting a tough issue.

Sometimes, when we are forced to confront a problem, we diminish that problem. We hear about child labor being used to make the shirts we wear, and we quickly find a way to make that problem seem like a less of a problem. We tell ourselves that well, there really isn’t much we can do, is there? We can shop at the right places and hope those companies are honest and good. And really, is it our fault if a company uses child labor? You’re the innocent in this, of course. 
There. Problem solved. Remove yourself from the equation, carefully putting aside all blame. Wash your hands of the issue.

I saw my therapist last week, and we talked a bit about denial, and why people choose to stay in denial, even when it’s hurting others.

For example. You meet a man. He’s sweet, and kind, and steadfast. You are one hundred percent sure he’s the man for you. You marry, settle down, and have a child together.
You love this man. He’s nothing but amazing to you. You feel like soulmates, and you seem to know each other so well. You’re aware he’s human, and sometimes humans fail, but your husband is just too good of a person to do anything really bad. Too upright. Not that kind of guy. 

One day the police show up at your door. You’ve been married for a while now, and you have a great house. Your child is excelling in school, and your financial needs are being met. In fact, your family might even take a vacation in the Caribbean that year! The police standing at your doorstep are an unwelcome surprise.

The police sit you down, and tell you that your husband has been collecting and distributing child pornography.

Right then and there, you feel your world fall apart. It can’t be true. Your husband? The sweet guy who cried while you were in labor? The man who woke up early and worked hard every day to provide for his family? The same man that bought you a beautiful ring for your anniversary is also a..pedophile?

It can’t be true. Is it? You think about it in the weeks that come. You spend hours going from blindingly angry to sure that he must have been framed. You wonder – did he touch your child? You’re a wreck. A mess, wondering how could this person that you thought you knew, do something so terrible?

You visit your husband in jail. He tells you it was an accident – he just came across it on a  porn site. He looks so innocent, so sad. He cries. He tells you he misses you, and how this is all a misunderstanding, and that he’ll be home soon.

You’re now sure it was a mistake. You sleep next to this man every night. You smiled to yourself when you heard him singing in the shower. He’s just so sweet, so right, so normal. He can’t be a monster. You refuse to believe it. Everyone else just misunderstood. They’re liars, out to get you and your family. They want nothing more than to destroy the life you’ve built.

So, rather than admit the fact that your husband can be completely human, completely normal, and a predator, you decide to build your own reality.

Denial. Because if you didn’t even know the man you married, who are you? What does this say about your judgment? Your values? What about the family you two had spent decades building? What will people think?

Denial is simple. It’s easy. It provides a way out of your mess. Rather than admit that there is something wrong, you diminish. You dismiss. You ignore. The denial is so concrete in your brain, that you become almost angry when anyone dare to tell you you’re wrong.

By choosing denial, life can go back to normal for you. You have your house, your kid, and your money. All is right. All is in its place. You do what the rest of us do. We go about our daily lives. We smile, because we’re happy. Nothing is wrong.

You can go to the super market and buy bacon without a second thought. The curtain has closed – all you see is a clean package containing layered meat. You don’t need to shield your eyes about what was going on behind the scenes, and you very easily ignore the quickly pooling blood. Just step over it. Smile.

 

on growth and some ramblings

For a good portion of my life, I was pro life. I was pro life because everyone I knew was pro life. It was a blind belief. There was no other option.  I saw the pictures of aborted fetuses and thought that only a monster could do something like that. All women who sought abortions were painted as god hating sluts who had their baby sucked out of them while they laughed – or something like that.

There was never a thought as to why someone would choose abortion. There was this pervasive thought that everyone experienced the same life we (fellow pro life people) did, therefore they had the same opportunities. There was no thought given to different life experiences or thought patterns.

Growing up, I knew of a few women who had chosen abortion. They were spoken about in hushed tones, with disdain – even hate. They were painted as selfish, ignorant women who slept around. Thinking back, I feel a large amount of shame for not stepping outside of my box for a second. For not trying to see things from someone else’s perspective. The ignorance and hate that surrounded the topic was all consuming. These women, who had told their stories in confidence, were mocked, derided, and ostracized.

I grew up a little bit when I left home.

I discovered that I had been living in a tiny, ignorance filled box. I saw other’s lives, and their choices, and the reason behind their choices. I learned that the world is a big, big place, and not everything was as black and white as I had been told.

I had access to a wealth of knowledge now. I could look up anything, read anything, and talk to anyone who was willing to speak to me. I listened and learned their reasons for why they believed what they did.

I felt like (to borrow a popular Christianese phrase) the scales had fallen from my eyes. I felt cheated, yes. Angry, even, at the wealth of knowledge that had been kept from me. I delved into science and research. I read everything about philosophy I could get my hands on. Some things I discarded as unnecessary, or just plain silly. Other things I kept. Some others I’m still mulling over. I learned how to apply logic and reasoning to situations. I was raised to ignore logic because it was “worldly”. I was told to deny facts and evidence because they were “from Satan” and only there to lead me astray.

I think the biggest thing I discovered was that the world is not out to get me. The world is not out to dictate my thoughts and feelings. There are no tricks. There are no devils hiding behind every door. I was raised to live in fear. Fear of losing my religious rights -even though the doomsday predictions never came true, and Christianity remains the most catered to religion in the US.

I learned that I cannot force my religious beliefs on others, no matter what my beliefs are. 

Growing up, I was surrounded by people who bemoaned the state of our nation. People who claimed that their religious rights were being trampled on – while they thought it was perfectly find to tell others how to live their lives. 

The judgment and the self righteousness was such an ugly thing I carried. We were special. We were different. We were “chosen.” We weren’t like those sinners, aborting their babies and choosing to leave god behind.

This otherness, this “we’re special” attitude was toxic. We separated ourselves and declared our reality the true and only reality.  That reality was and still is full of hate and ignorance.

I think we all want to be special. We want something more. We need something more – why else are we here? We need some big purpose. You can see it in our movies and books. There is a special one, the chosen one, the one better and more important than the rest. Destined for something better than everyone else.

I had to step down from my imaginary pedestal as Special, and Best, and Chosen, and admit that on the cosmic scale, I am just a tiny speck.

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” -Carl Sagan

I also learned that I still have value. I didn’t need an imaginary god to tell me I had value, or that I needed him to find value. Me, that tiny speck was, as far as we knew, one of just 7 billion specks in a vast, immeasurable universe.
I developed a deep love for space – the universe as a whole. I would watch space documentaries and weep. Everything in me -down to my bones, was created in the belly of some ancient star. A star that exploded and spread across empty space, to one day make up me.

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” -Carl Sagan

One morning, not long after I left home, I stood in front of the mirror and looked into my eyes and said,

“You are not sinful.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You were not born corrupt.
You are not in need of saving.
You are not dirty.
You were lied to, and these are the truth:
You are whole. 
You are pure, from the moment of birth until now.
You have intrinsic value, and no one can ever, ever take that from you.”

This is my mantra. I’ve said it to myself many times since then, and every time I believe it more and more. I am able to discard the brainwashing and conditioning from my youth and revel in my beauty and importance that exists without a god.

Sometimes I get so excited at the opportunities I have. I feel like a child, with a wide open world in front of me. I don’t have to live in fear, I can choose to live in love, and life, and truth. I can be accepting of others even if we’re not the same. I don’t have to cut myself off from The Others. The Sinners. I can listen to a Christian friend, or a Muslim friend, and stay firm in my beliefs, because they are not threatened.  I no longer have to shut myself off in fear of being “led astray”, because we are all one. We are all doing our best.

I feel much more connected to the world. I love the planet I live on. I want to preserve it and give something for future generations to enjoy. The depth of a blue sky, the sharp, earthy smell of a forest after a rain. The white capped waves as they throw themselves onto the shore.

It makes me emotional, honestly.

I’ve been standing at the edge of the water
‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go
Though I long to be
See the line where the sky meets the sea it calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go

-Alessia Cara

baby

something brave in me

there’s something brave in me
something strong built in the center of my soul
i was always the rebellious one
“the angry one” they’d say
to relieve their guilt and call themselves guiltless

i did try
i tried to be quiet and complaisant
i nodded and said “yes sir” like the best of them

but there was still that fire
the iron in my heart
the fierce desire for independence
freedom. truth.

i just needed that opening
that push
the nod from the universe
to break through my coffin
and stand up through the dirt.

born again
a second life so much deeper than religion can explain
i raised my fist

“you don’t tell me who I am
i tell you who i am”

the ground shook
the storm rolled in
my rebellion wouldn’t be tolerated

“this re birth is evil
they decreed
the girl child doesn’t know her place”

“send fire!
i cried in return
send the rain!
send your best. watch them fall.
i’m built of something so much stronger.”

i took the punches
i endured the lashes.
i ignored their words, filed sharp to kill
i smiled the entire time
the fire in my heart burning stronger

bloody and bruised
i climbed the mountain
i was never much afraid
i was never broken
i was whole

the guards trembled as i walked by
muddy feet and bloody face
the king cowered as i snatched his crown

“i am the daughter of
the witches you could not burn.”
i told him
“this fire burns stronger in the rain.
i’m already molded to perfection.
who told you that you could change me?”

​I close my eyes

And I’m in space.

The void that

in fire and light

birthed the planet I call home

is enveloping me 

holding me 

whispering in my ear

that it’s alright.

The cold and the dark

that

normally would suffocate

squeeze and destroy 

is cradling my body.

My hair floats free

electrified and warmed

by the nearby sun.

I can feel the earth below me

the pull of gravity

a blue green marble

swirled with white

and the moon

cold and dead

stares at me

unblinking.

You are part of us

a nearby asteroid whispers 

as it streams by

and I can feel

in my bones

down to my cells

quivering with life

the explosion

the death that was birth

the flash of atoms

the beginning of it all.

I am the cosmos

A peace, a knowing

unlike anything I’ve ever experienced

fills my brain.

Dreams

I’m on the moon. The dirt is red for some reason, soft and light between my fingers. I’m climbing the side of a cliff when I fall. I land on my knees, hard. When I look up, the earth is rising over the horizon. It’s a brilliant blue and white, so crisp and clean. Stars shine behind the blue marble, little specks of light in a pitch black space.

 

It’s the end of nightmare. I’m weary and fearful but also relieved. I beat the monster. I left it behind me, and I’m home. Home is a shack in the hills of Wyoming. Old tires and a broken down bus sit outside, faded and cracked in the hot summer sun. I’ve lost my cats to the monster, and I feel a deep grief welling up from my chest. A friend appears beside me and points to the mountains in the distance. I look up. One of the peaks has turned coal black, and above it floats the skull of a elk. Its antlers are tangled high above its head, reaching into a pale blue sky. I feel instant relief, and my cats come racing through the grass, whole and alive.

 

I’m in the back of my parent’s old blue station wagon. We’re driving to my grandparent’s house. I watch the city lights disappear, and the heavy blackness surrounds us. I can see tall grass in the headlights as we race down the road. I push my head out of the window and look up. The sky is beautiful. Full of stars. They twinkle and shudder. I have to show my boyfriend! I think.

 

I’m in a trailer park, similar to the one I grew up in. I’m frustrated and angry. Trapped. My parents leave, taking my siblings with them. It’s time. I run through the trailer home, looking for my phone. It’s black with a pink and green case. I know it’s here, and I grow frantic as I search for it. I have to escape. I’m not safe. I’m crying and screaming until I finally find it, shoved under my little sister’s mattress. It’s scratched and the front is cracked. I plug it in – nothing. I tap the home button over and over, and it lights up. Shakily, but enough. My heart is pounding as I punch in my best friend’s number. She picks up, but the connection is fuzzy. You have to come pick me up! I cry to her. Please, come get me! 
She can’t. I can hear her mom in the background. Angry. Fine. I tell her. I’ll walk there myself.
I’m angry, but determined, and I leave the trailer park, wearing nothing but a dress. My feet are bare, and I can feel the rocks and burrs stabbing my feet. I can feel my anger outweighing my fear, my determination strong enough to last the miles ahead.

 

I’ve moved to a new house. It’s small and the walls are covered in dark wood paneling. I carefully stack cups on the counter. A punch bowl sits nearby. We’re having a party. Faceless people mill around, laughing and talking. They’re dressed in costumes – it’s Halloween. I start to feel woozy. Uncomfortable. I try to tell people that something’s wrong, but it’s like they can’t hear me. I see my ex boyfriend walking towards me. Something’s wrong. I fall to the floor. I can’t swallow.
He laughs at me. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Nobody is listening to me. I plead the guests to help me, and finally someone drags me to a back bedroom and leaves me on a mattress. My limbs feel heavy. A woman comes into the room. She’s holding the hand of a little girl. Your daughter wants you, she says. The little girl is dressed in a pink princess gown. She smiles when she sees me, and rushes across the room to lie next to me.

I am not beautifully broken

I am not beautifully broken.
I was shattered
twisted like old plastic.
Bent

There was no kintsugi
no gentle piecing back together.
I held all the broken parts of me tightly
so tight they cut through my skin.

My broken pieces are held together with red tears
skinned knees
my determination.

I am not beautifully broken.
I am a stomped flower.
A torn page.
Cake crumbles

I’ve just learned to live through it
Around it
like a stubborn vine.
A weed.

speak up

“I made a choice that I didn’t want to be controlled, and in walking away from everything, I learned the value of listening to the voice in my head telling me what was wrong and standing up for what was right. Being the lone voice of dissent is hard and almost always inconvenient and there isn’t usually instant gratification. However if you don’t speak up, you will most likely regret it and will have to live with the results. In my experience, often, the only reason that the church was allowed to get away with its abusive behavior is that people failed to say no. Saying no is difficult, even brutal at times. But, in the long run, many others will appreciate your courage, even if silently, and someday it may lead to them mustering up the courage to stand up for themselves.”

-Jenna Miscavige Hill, from her book Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

christmas eve

i woke up this morning, peaceful. I had dreamt about camping next to a rushing river. i had a plate of pancakes on my lap, hot and smothered in syrup. i decided i wanted  a pancake breakfast, complete with bacon and eggs.

i cracked the eggs into a cup, then added some cheese and salsa. it’s pineapple salsa with a touch of heat, and i love it. it’s the first thing i get every grocery trip.

i carefully lined a pan with bacon, then set to getting the pancakes ready. Half way through, a childhood memory came into mind, and i decided i wanted waffles instead. There’s nothing quite like a crunchy, syrupy waffle.

Now my plate is in front of me, warm and steaming. The house smells like bacon, and it’s raining outside. i’ve got the windows open – i set off our smoke alarm while cooking. it’s always such a jolt, hearing the alarm go off, but i knew what i was getting into when i asked for the sensitive alarm.

Snow is usually what people want for Christmas, but it’s supposed to be unseasonably warm this weekend. i think i’ll go for a walk tomorrow. The neighborhood will be still. The magic of Christmas.

For the first year after leaving home, i was lonely. It’s an adjustment, going from a planned holiday to having to plan it yourself. This year i decorated the house, and planned a simple, calm Christmas with my boyfriend. i hid away the gifts i got for him, and made a list for Christmas breakfast.

The moment to rest is now. Time to relax my shoulders and enjoy the fire crackling in the fireplace. i’m happy. i’m at peace.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

I’m 25 today!
I’m so grateful for the opportunities I was given this past year. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to some lovely people and my own determined spirit. I was always told I was stubborn and rebellious, and they were right! I’ve turned what was meant to be hate into a firm foundation that I’m building my life on. Stubbornness saved my life. My rebellious spirit shrugged off chains placed on me so I could fly.
I went from cowering and crying to standing tall. I’m taking risks and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Growth is the only path from here. I can’t wait to see what lessons this year will bring!

Noises closing in from all sides
Warning all the ways to die
They say “you’d better give up
You’d better give up”
I say
“I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up”

I’ll be an army, no you’re
Not gonna stop me getting through
I’ll sing a marching song and
Stomp through the halls louder than you
-White Flag by Joseph

me

How to get over an ex

We’ve all been here. It’s difficult, yes. But with a little bit of work and these few tips, you should get over that girl easily!

1.) Stop stalking her on social media.
This seems to be a no brainer, but sometimes the temptation is overwhelming, so you end up blocking her and then unblocking her on Facebook every two days. You’re confusing the poor girl. One week she can see photos you tagged her in years ago, and the next she can’t find entire albums! It took her a second to figure out what was going on, but she knows now, and it makes you look like a little bitch.

Don’t visit her blog every few days at 2 in the morning, going over and over her posts, especially that one with her photo in it. She more than likely has a tracker on her blog, so why risk it? Plus, it just makes you look like – you guessed it! – a little bitch.

2.) Take a step back and think about who you were as a partner.
Did you let your friends bully her and you, and then did you defend them? Did you not have your own brain, and had to run to mommy and daddy for everything? Did you claim to care about social change, but continue to cave to peer pressure and be an asshole? Did you make excuses for assholes who were – and definitely still are – using you? I could see how that would be a bit of an issue in any relationship. It’s difficult to be your own person when you’re still attached to mommy’s/female friend’s apron strings.

3.) Stop thinking she misses you.
The only time she thinks of you is when she sees you’ve been on her blog again. She didn’t cry after she broke up with you. She completely forgot when your birthday was – was it March or April?
Never fall into the trap of nostalgia. I can guarantee she doesn’t. She remembers very, very clearly all the times you fucked her over. She remembers her diploma being stolen, her shit hatefully tossed into boxes. Her valuable childhood mementos treated like trash because you are still suckling at mama’s tits and she fights your battles for you.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking she has even sort of amicable feelings towards you. Don’t think absence made her heart fond again – it didn’t.

She’s changed, boy. She’s not that innocent young girl anymore. You were lucky to get her in the beginning. She was always out of your league. She’s a goddess, and you never deserved her. That’s why you lost her. Suck it up and move on. I’m sure there is some girl with low self esteem who will put up with you and your friend’s crap.

Now, go on and cry to your friends about what a terrible person your ex is. Maybe you could give out the right address out this time? Gotta make sure the person who threatened her has the correct location this time (God it would suck if your ex filed a police report, amirite?).

A special song, just for you. ❤