EIGHT years today…
One day you will see this.
My grandest wish, my greatest hope.
And then you’ll know.
How much I’ve missed you.
More than you can possibly know.
Since I let them take you away.
To a better life.
In some other place.
One day you will see this.
And then you’ll know.
How I loved you so much.
More than life itself.
Enough to let you go.
So, I was electronically reminded that it’s been nearly five years since I first started blogging. (Here with WordPress, anyhow.) So to commemorate that fact, and because I’ve been a little remiss in my posting lately, I thought I’d reflect some on what all has happened since and what, why, who, and where I am now.
FIVE YEARS. First, can I just say that it’s been one HELL of a crazy ride these past five years…because well, has it ever. I mean, I’m older…and I don’t just mean that in the literal, age-wise sense. Emotionally, intellectually… I’ve grown so much. If people are right about the whole “having a soul” thing…then in that sense…that too. I mean, I feel like I’ve aged a lifetime in these five years…which is both a mathematical and figurative wonder to me. I feel so old. And not necessarily with my physical body…though I could have certainly done without all the broken wrists, broken ribs, traumatic brain injuries, post-TBI afflictions and drama, near-deaths experiences, etc. I mean my soul (if such a thing were/is to exist, of course). Inside. I never would have thought I could feel so different at 30 than at 25…that it could be possible with dealing with just five years…but clearly, it does and it is. I will give my 25-year-old self some credit, though. I’d grown a lot to then. Was grown. I wasn’t that same naïve, reckless, impulsive 21-year-old girl who fell for anything and allowed herself to be manipulated by both people and the world…that or even that scared and shattered 22-year-old girl who thought that giving up a piece of her soul and her self was the only way to make things right…to keep her secret safe and the truth from coming out. I’m not them. I thought I’d seen and experienced and felt so much…but I’d barely skimmed the surface at that point, at twenty-five. I’ve realized that miscalculation now. I’m still dealing the blowback and consequences…still. I know.
These past five years have been a roller-coaster…a thrilling, confusing, sad, complex, terrifying, but still incredible roller-coaster. It hasn’t been easy. Not at all. Not that I expected or even wished it would be. What would have the fun in that, right? In true fashion, I’ve had some setbacks, for sure. Some hell. A lot of falls. A lot of failure. A lot of disappointment, from and for myself and others. I’ve been to the edge and on the verge of giving up absolutely and completely too many times than I can, nor would like to count (or even think about, to be quite honest). But I’ve also had so much greatness and successes and blessings. I told myself I’d go back to school and finish what I started…and I did exactly that. I proved the haters and naysayers wrong.
When I walked off the campus at Colgate all those years ago, I thought I was doing the right thing. It took me a long time to realize that I was just running afraid, both literally and figuratively. Looking back and reflecting on it all…and I know it probably sounds fucking messed up and ridiculous, but at the time, I truly felt like I was alone. At first, I felt like I was special–only in the worst kind of way. The only people I’d ever trusted with something like that– I left them behind, too. There was no point in telling my family or closest friends what I was doing because I knew that they wouldn’t approve. I didn’t want to see that pity look in their eyes. We’ve come a long way in terms of domestic violence and the stigma of it for women. Even now, it’s not something you bring up in casual conversation. The stats on D.V. should be much higher, but they’re not…due mostly in part to a seriously flawed system that doesn’t always act in the favor of the victim(s). Unfortunately, those stats don’t account for all those individuals that distrust the system and instead choose to not come forward or press charges–usually either because they’ve accepted their being and present situation, or because they’re terrified and can’t handle it. I doubt I was the only girl on campus wearing foundation-covered-black-eyes and broken bones…gifts of their own “wonderful” significant other. Now, if they were/are anything like me, they did a pretty good job of blending in…instead of standing out. Behind closed dorm doors…anything could happen, and everything was fair game. Everything. I couldn’t have been the only girl on campus with the hardcore athlete for a boyfriend with a penchant for jealousy and a deep need to be in control of any and all aspects of not simply just his, but my life as well. I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl who knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of a fist or slap or shove. I have to admit my part in it all…as even though the campus was only just over an hour from home…I still felt isolate. It took me a while to realize that was obviously his goal all along…that that was exactly how he wanted me to feel…isolated and vulnerable. It was easier for him to just bend me at his will that way…to manipulate me for their own sick and twisted gain. Would he have killed me if I’d stayed? Well, he threatened it more times than I want to remember, but I want to say that no, he wouldn’t have…but then, I have no way of knowing that with absolute certainty. Maybe I was wrong. I mean, I never thought he’d hurt me before either… that is, until I woke up on an exam table in a room at the student health center with a concussion, cracked wrist, and a splitting goddamn headache—an hour after we fought over a platonic conversation I’d had with his friend and fellow teammate…just the first of what would be many false accusations and assumptions. Not to mention, more cover ups and excuses. With him, the paranoia was unmatched–always the same — that something MUST be going on and/or that one or both of us were or wanted to split up or who the hell knows. He could have all the “girl” friends he wanted…but I couldn’t even have a 2 minute debate with another guy about the facets of the sport that is soccer without apparently wanting to f**k said guy. In hindsight, I just wish I’d stayed instead of running. I wish I’d stood up to him … and the threats he’d held over my head and used against me, constantly, for so long.. He had complete control over my life… but I took it back. Not that it an easy or mess/pain/blood-less fight…but I did it. I made it. I survived. Well, for the most part.
“You held me down, you took control. Dear Fear, how did I get here? How do I let go when you were all I’ve ever known. So long, Dear Fear, I wasted enough years. I’m scared out of my mind, but I’ll never know unless I try. So this is goodbye Dear Fear…”
I don’t know if any of you heard or read about Alexandra Kogut— she was an 18-year-old freshman at SUNY Brockport) who was beaten to death back in September of 2012 by her high school “boyfriend”, in her dorm room…with her own curling iron–of all things. It was brutal. I think the story made national news and the Dateline show even did a piece on her a few years back. Her story/murder really hit home to me. Literally. She grew up and graduated from a high school not even 20 minutes from the small town I grew up in. I doubt she ever expected the boy she’d loved would ever be capable of what he did…and yet, she’s gone and he’s serving 25 to life in prison for her murder.
It just goes to show that you truly never really know a person…or what they are capable of. We just don’t. I think there’s a little bit of evil in all of us…but what sets good people apart from those doers of heinous, horrible acts and atrocities is, for the most part, that we have a conscience. Most of us have this moral fiber in us that, either knowingly or subconsciously, sort of serves as a guide. For the same reason that we have laws and rules–for without such we’d only have chaos–we have a conscience that intuitively tells us what’s wrong and what’s right. That moral compass, in my opinion, is what makes us GOOD…that makes us human. Naturally, we don’t always get it right. We make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But the difference is that our mistakes generally don’t affect or hurt others, only ourselves, for the most part. The difference is that we (good people) can accept and recognize that little amount of evil that’s in all of us and KNOW how to hold it at bay or compartmentalize/ignore it. Those that are evil simply don’t care about the consequences of their actions. They don’t acknowledge or feel any remorse for the detrimental effect their actions have/have had on others. I think we’re all familiar with the whole “Nature vs. Nurture“ bit…you know, that annoying debate on whether a person is born evil or bad…or if it’s their environment/society that made them that way. The latter is a cop-out, if you ask me. Just another excuse…though sadly, not all that surprising…considering. It’s a known fact that if there’s a way our generation (sorry, fellow Millennials) can shirk accountability or cast off blame off ourselves and to others …we pounce on it. We’re a generation that thrives on convenience. The easier, the better. We may be lazy and spoiled and oblivious, not to mention self-centered at times…but we are (the majority of us), for the most part, good people. Flawed, but GOOD. I believe we’re all just doing our best in a chaos-laced, unforgiving world. We try to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes so that we know better the next time…when and if it’s possible. I just wish we weren’t so quick to pass judgement or to point fingers. But that’s exactly what we do. And we do it all the time. It’s always someone else, or something else to blame–we’re so good at lashing out and laying fault with video games, music, weapons, etc…but those don’t kill/abuse/rape, etc…PEOPLE kill/abuse/rape PEOPLE.
It’s not always black or white…sometimes the lines are blurred. Some people just can’t help themselves. They may be mentally ill or carriers of some degenerative disease/condition that prevents them from being truly aware of their actions. The brain is an incredible, fickle mystery of an organ…one compressed nerve, a shortage of some chemical…and everything goes hay-wire. In that regard, some people may not be entirely or deliberately responsible for their actions…some may not even be cognizant of what they are being blamed for, having been rendered incapable of guilt and/or remorse. I can sympathize with those that are legitimately unwell/unstable. Mental illness is real. But cases like that are the exception, not the rule. Most are just plain EVIL. I hate it when criminals and do-gooders paint this picture of injustice and innocence, and try to circumvent or take advantage of the good in others to get away with their evil crimes and despicable actions.Those sob story excuses of how it’s not the killer’s fault–he just snapped–or the rapist that was abused as a child. I know a lot of people who have had a rough childhood and/or came from a broken home, or something…and they didn’t grow up to be murderers or rapists or criminals of some sort.
In the opposite regard, there are also those that are evil DESPITE a happy childhood and or having been raised to know right from wrong. There are those that have been given so much opportunity, who haven’t had to want for anything and whom have/had everything…you know, the PERFECT life: Two happily married parents, education from only the prestigious and best schools, a guaranteed lifetime of financial security, and not to mention, a whole platoon of friends and loved ones to give them the (and more) support and encouragement any one person could want or even need, for that matter. What that tells me that evil is a conscious choice. Even sociopaths know right vs. wrong. They just choose to embrace the latter (wrong)…over doing what’s right. All we or I can do is be grateful that evil is the minority. Good continues to reign the majority of the time. As it should be.
Anyways (me and my damn tangents, I knowwwww) … Let’s get back to the last 5 years…
I promised myself I would move on and I have…though I’ve yet to quite master the “no-turning-back” part. And I promised myself I would go off and see a little bit of the world and if it the possibility were to present itself, to find myself. Well, I did the first part. I’m still working a little on the other part. But I’ll get there. I promised I would leave this town and go somewhere; find a city or town where I could and would finally feel like I belonged. And I did that. I packed my things and moved to Nashville…even though no one understood or approved or hell, even thought I would. But I did it. Alone. 900 miles from the only people, place, and life I’d ever known for a city filled with millions of strangers…with no real, clear plan of action. I’d decided I would figure it all out once I got there. A risky move, for sure…but also, a fulfilling one. Call me crazy, but I decided to chase my dreams and follow my heart…for the first time in what felt like my entire life, or ever. But it all paid off and was worth it. I found my place. My SOMEWHERE. I found happiness in the unlikeliest and most unexpected places.
I’ve also met/become friends with some of the most interesting, talented, generous, and just overall utterly amazing human beings there … the kind of people who you can just meet and somehow just know and feel like you’ve known them forever. It’s been an uphill battle, testing my limits, finding and diffusing my choice of breaking points. I’ve accepted my weaknesses…AND my strengths. I have them, too. Who knew?
There’s more. For once, I can say that I’m in a healthy, stable (about damn time I stopped fishing out the losers, right y’all) relationship with a great guy — the absolute best (I might be a tad bit biased lol) — a guy that god-knows I probably don’t deserve–but am beyond grateful for. Most days I can’t believe that I was the one to run into him outside that coffee shop nearly 3 years back (… no joke, I LITERALLY ran into him, iced-coffee everywhere…I was a hot mess!)… and not some other girl. It felt like fate…like we were meant to meet. I can’t explain it…just how it feels. It’s no state secret that I haven’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to relationships…some of that is on them…some of it’s on me. I’ll admit, there were times I wondered if I’d ever get it right. If I’d ever stop the running and the self-sabotage when the path took a turn towards serious…when things got real. If I’d ever find someone worth risking my heart and everything for. Relationships were never really my thing. Until now. I don’t know what it is or what changed but it’s going on 3 years now and I haven’t felt that itch to run…not even once. If you read my posts or know me personally–that’s HUGE for me. I don’t know what it means or what is says about him or our relationship or the future, for that matter…but I’m happy. He’s great. I’m great. Aside from the distance thing [he visits a lot and SOON I’ll be back in TN where distance won’t be an issue :)] it’s good. The rest…just doesn’t matter.
So … the past five years …
I’ve learned. I’ve lived. I’ve grown. While I’m not too keen on the whole “thirties” thing… I am looking forward to seeing where the next five years take me. Stay tuned and I guess you’ll find out with me as I go.
Seeing how this is generally my quiet place when it comes to politically-charged op-eds, I thought I’d vent a little here and save myself the digital ridiculousness that will most definitely ensue if I were to post on Facebook or elsewhere.
The recent Valentine’s Day school shooting down in Florida. Yeah. Where oh where to even begin. I wonder what it says about the person I am…or just humanity in general…that it’s getting harder and harder to be sensitive to these tragedies anymore. Not that I don’t have sympathy for the victims, their families, friends, and loved ones…I do. It’s the general aspect of it happening. How does one not become desensitized to the news when it’s happening at such a frequency that you can’t turn on a TV, open a newspaper, or go on social media without hearing of something happening here or there practically every other day? Honestly, I don’t know if there’s something in the water or the air or what…but people are seriously fucked up these days, and more and more. I mean, what the hell. Columbine. Aurora. San Bernardino. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. And now, Parkland. God, where does it end? When does it stop? When are we going to stop killing one another? When are the laws and these idiots we’re electing going to look past the money and the power (or the promise/expectation of it)…their own fucking egos and ambitions, and actually DO something to stop the bloodshed? When are we as a nation going to put the politics and bullshit aside to sit down and figure something out TOGETHER, as one… to reverse this fucking monstrosity, freak-show, SHIT-SHOW of a cycle? WHEN? How many people…how many CHILDREN must die before we say you know what, FUCK the system, it’s broken, something’s OBVIOUSLY not working…and do something. ANYTHING. But nope. Instead we want to keep wasting time pointing blame and fingers, bickering like a bunch of fucking CHILDREN ourselves. It’s un-fucking-believable.
Personally, I don’t get it. I don’t comprehend how a human being can just wake up one morning and decide to kill 17 people…or 58…or 20 first-graders for fucks sake. I just don’t. That goes beyond mental health or some fucking chemical imbalances, if you ask me. Honestly, I think some people are just plain fucking evil. Maybe they’re born that way, maybe that’s the mold society created or pushed them into…I don’t know. I just know that it’s EVIL. Pure and simple.
As a society, we have a duty to our countrymen…to humankind. To ourselves. But we’re slacking. So badly, we’re slacking. We should be doing whatever we can or could possibly do to make sure that what happened 10 days ago doesn’t happen again. EVER. But we’re not doing that. We’re not doing a damn thing. Mistakes were made. Big time. But instead of owning up to it…people are bitching and trying to place blame. Well…the way I see it…we’re all to blame. We as a society FAILED those 17 victims. We failed their families and loved ones. We failed all those traumatized teenagers and teachers that slid and ducked and hid from a spray of bullets. They survived, but their lives will never be the same. Never, ever again. Could we have prevented what happened and saved them from the sounds and images of hell they heard and saw that day? Hell fucking yes we could have. But we didn’t. And so here we are… left to make sense of something that by definition, makes no fucking sense… left to clean up and struggle through and move on…somehow. Left to place blame and albeit in some warped, fucked up way…try to find justice for those victims, families, and survivors. But who(m) or what exactly is to blame? Is it the fault of that cowardly school security officer who waited OUTSIDE for FOUR FUCKING MINUTES while bullets were flying and terrified KIDS were running out of buildings… running for their lives? Is it the fault of the NRA for advocating/promoting the purchasing and prevalence of weaponry that I think it’s safe to say is rarely being used anymore for what/how it was initially intended? Is it Senator Rubio’s fault for taking said proverbial blood-money from that organization (among others) to push his political agenda(s)? Is it the blame of our forefathers for writing that tricky 2nd Amendment that’s causing all this trouble we’re seeing/experiencing now? I mean, surely… they had to have known that it wouldn’t be long before we’d start slinging guns and using them on each other instead of our enemies? Surely, they would have. Is it the fault of that pitiful orange excuse of a President who’d rather spend his days twittering his thumbs away…literally… and jet-setting every weekend to play golf …and making empty promises and ridiculous proposals …than doing something productive or god-forbid—good for the country? Seriously, what the fuck. I get not wanting to piss off the super pacs that helped you (big-time!) get that cushy job and pretty white house down on Pennsylvania Avenue. Do I agree with it—hell fucking no—but I get it. But repealing your predecessor’s initiative on mental-health effective/related gun reform, only to turn around and spout the same damn idea as it was yours all along…yeah, no. And what kind of idiot would even SUGGEST that we arm our educators and turn our classrooms into—essentially—war zones? Seriously…I don’t know what the fuck this guy (TRUMP) is thinking…but I wish someone would just put some duct tape over that idiot joker’s mouth and tell him, for once and for all, to please just SHUT THE FUCK UP. Seriously, President Idiot, shut up.
The legal and moral blame is on that sicko that’s sitting down in that cell as we speak… for sure. I’m not denying that. In fact, I hope he gets everything he deserves and has coming to him. If that just so happens to be a guilty verdict and lethal injection…then so be it. He killed 17 people. Does he deserve to pay for his crimes? Without a doubt, yes. Moreover, those victims and their families deserve justice. If the price of that is his life in return then again… so be it. He owns the majority of the blame, definitely…but it’s not all his. He was a ticking time-bomb, from all accounts. I mean, he was beyond trouble. People knew it. The school knew it. The authorities knew it. Everyone fucking knew, it seems. Hell, he was expelled from the very school in which he chose to unleash his terror upon. He was self-harming and had tried multiple times to kill himself over a span of YEARS… and people knew it. He clearly had issues…BIG issues. He warned people. He was reported numerous times to the authorities…hell, even the FBI had been warned that he intended to shoot up a school and they just ignored it. They did nothing. The system really failed him. Not that that’s an excuse. He knew what he was doing. He rationalized it. He legally bought a gun that no ordinary civilian (or 19-year-old one, for that matter) could possibly need but was allowed to keep it under his bed in the home of the people that had taken him in when his own flesh and blood had put him out. Whether the media is purposely glossing over or unmeaningly quashing those supposed rumors that he’d been mistreated and bullied…but I think there’s something there…and it deserves consideration. There’s the fact that this kid planned for months what he was going to do. Also, there’s the fact that he was obviously targeting one or several targets. I mean, why would he take the time to go to the 3rd floor when if it was just a matter of a body count and numbers? If that were the case, I’m sure he could have had the time and opportunity to do more damage right there on the ground floor of the building he shot up, especially with how many would-be victims would have been running right in his direction for the limited exits. Some people are saying he probably thought he’d have more time to keep shooting if there were three floors between himself and law enforcement…and thus a matter of quantity over quality…and that we probably didn’t care because he likely planned to kill himself before being captured. Now that… I’m on the fence with. He didn’t turn the gun on himself. He completed the attack, disguised himself as one of his peers, and attempted to run…all of which gives no indication that he wanted/thought he was going to be caught. So why make it harder on himself by going up to higher floors? It seems illogical to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning his actions…and it’s inconsequential really whether he had intended targets or not… but it’d certainly clear up some speculation into what I and others, I’m sure, have into wanting to understand/know why he did what he did.
Bullying is at hard-core levels these days. It’s not like the old days where the taunts existed mainly in those halls and lockers and bathroom stalls. Back then you only had to dread going to school… but knew you could always leave it at the door. Kids are fucking assholes these days. Thanks to the amazing invention we call the Internet and social media—there’s no escape. Bullying HELL is 24/7. The statistis on bullying and suicide are overwhelming…and understandable. I mean, of course, when you’re 14 and 15, etc. we all think we’re so damn grown… but we’re really not. Sure, you’ve seen and have probably endured more than those back in the old days might have at your age…but having grown up and been immersed in this fucked up mentality and environment basically from birth…it’s more of a common place feeling than a “special” one. Kids/teenagers these days are being raised by screens and trendy gadgets. They’re being desensitized by video games that reward them for virtual murders and rapes and attacks, etc. I’m not saying it’s the video games…but they sure as hell don’t help matters any. It’s that naiveite that leads to tragedies like Parkland. I’m no medical expert, but even I know that teenagers’ brains are still developing. They’re only just learning at that age how to cope with realities they don’t understand/accept. And sadly, they don’t really have a grasp on time so they literally don’t know how to process the idea that it won’t always be the hell like it is. That one day it WILL end. That high school isn’t forever. They don’t get that and since they can’t see past the very limited near future, they think there’s no way out and choose suicide as a means to solve their problems. I feel so sad for all these kids. I just want to hug them and tell them that it gets better. Because it does. I mean, it’s not always easy. There are some hairy parts and bumps along the way…but it does get better. And it IS worth it. They might not see it or feel like it will now…but it will. I just wish someone could have told all those kids that didn’t make it that. But I can’t do that. We can’t do that. But we can do something today or tomorrow or the tomorrows after that. We can change. We can put down the guns and enact some REAL gun reform once and for all. But we must act quick. All of us. Together. That’s how we do this. That’s how we stop the bloodshed. We open our eyes and we do what’s right…simply because it’s right and not because we’ve been forced to do it. And we have to WANT it. We have to come together for the common good now. For our sakes. For the sake of the children. For the generations to come. Maybe it’ll happen in this lifetime. I for sure would love to see it in my lifetime. But I’m not holding my breath. If that makes me a cynic, well…so be it.
If you’ve been on social media at all in the past week or so, then you’re probably aware of the trending #MeToo campaign. If not, to briefly summarize: the campaign itself is sort of a “call-to-arms” for women to share their personal experiences with sexual harassment and/or sexual assault using the hashtag #MeToo…the goal therein being to show just how commonplace both are for women. Rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment…they’re just three of the many “so-called uncomfortable” subjects that society prefers we not talk about. But thanks to actresses Ashley Judd and Alyssa Milano – and the dozens of other Hollywood elite that have come forward to speak up and out about the heinous sexual atrocities committed by well-known producer and former film studio executive Harvey Weinstein…we’re talking about it now.
Because of the accusations and growing scandal, Weinstein has (so far) been fired by his OWN production company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Once held in high esteem and respected, but no more. Many political and other prestigious figures in the business have denounced him. Even his wife left him. Basically…he’s had a rough week. You almost feel sorry for the guy…until you read all the articles and stories and number of individuals that have come forward…a number that, for the moment anyhow, appears to be on a steady incline. At the very core of it all is the one indisputable fact…that IT’S NOT OKAY. There’s no excuse or justification for sexual harassment or sexual assault or rape. None whatsoever.
The fact that some of the alleged assaults go back decades is a little disheartening, to say the least. It’s sad and truly disappointing that we’re living in one of the most advanced, modernized eras of all time, and yet it’s taken decades for us (women) to really kick-start this conversation—one we shouldn’t have to even be having in the first place. This isn’t the early 1900’s. Women aren’t the property of their husbands and/or society’s invisibles. Women count now. We can vote and hold office, we can have families AND careers (not just either/or) …and we’re finally being seen. It’s been a hard-wrought fight from the start…and continues to be in certain aspects. We’re still fighting “the man”, and progress has been a slow and not-so-easy feat. There are still some archaic aspects…though I expect there always will be. I just can’t understand why we haven’t talked about it until now…why it took 20+ years and scores of assaulted and victimized women coming forward for society to let up and take interest in what we (women) have to say and in our stories…and for us to be believed. We shouldn’t have to sign petitions or lobby for equal footing with our counterparts and employers. Nor should we have to assemble and march in the streets just to be heard. But such is our reality, unfortunately. On the bright side, I guess even a little progress is better than no progress at all…but I believe we can do better. Real change is only possible if we come together, both women AND men. It’s on us.
I’m in awe of the effort to change the status quo and of the bravery of the accusers…but I’m especially in awe of the thousands (myself included) of women that have shared their own stories of harassment, assault, or rape across social media—and all because of the power of a simple hashtag (#MeToo).
Though I wish I didn’t, I have experienced first-hand how hard it is to share such personal stories and truths with the world. It’s been years since my own assault, but I still struggle with talking about it. I can count on one hand the number of people that I’ve told about it…but it’s taken me years to gather the courage to accept it and move on. It’s empowering to know just how many others—even people I know personally—that have been in my shoes, who’ve had the exact or similarly horrible experiences as I have. Figuratively, I’ve always know that I wasn’t alone in my pain…but putting names to faces and seeing it with my own eyes makes it more real, if that makes sense. I spent years pretending it never happened and burying the pain…years convincing myself that it was simple self-preservation, when in fact, it was terror. I was terrified being of judged, ruined, and possibly even blamed for what happened. And with good reason. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve overheard and have personally had conversations with people concerning rape and/or sexual assault, many of which I’ve come back from feeling just so disgusted by all the things people have said. I’ve also had some pretty heated arguments with my mother and my grams about it in which they try to justify sexual harassment and/or sexual assault/rape…and let’s just say, we’ll never agree on certain points…ever. They like to admonish women for dressing and/or behaving provocatively (even if it’s just in their eyes) …basically your run-of-the-mill slut-shaming. I can’t fathom how my own flesh and blood could think as they do…how they can truly justify the length of a girl’s skirt for harassment and/or rape. They’re of the mentality that if a girl “flaunts” her assets, then of course she has to be asking for it. That she shouldn’t have been drunk or out that late at some party. They even agree with the ridiculous dress codes so many schools are enforcing that essentially force girls to cover themselves up and dress in the clothing and way that is the least distracting to the boys in the class—a topic I’ve vehemently disagreed with. They’re entitled to their opinions…I just wish their opinions weren’t so backwards. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they’d feel or think different if I were to tell them the truth of what happened to me. At the same time, I don’t think I want to know. I’ve been disillusioned by them so many times over the years…I’m not sure I want to take another one in faux-stride.
I’ve been thinking of starting up this new site that will basically serve as a forum or place for victims and survivors to just come and tell their story. It’s been such a relief to me—being able to talk openly about what happened to me. It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders that hadn’t even known was there. It helped to write it down. To see it in black and white. It gave me some closure. Maybe knowing and seeing with their own eyes that they aren’t that special and aren’t alone in their pain…maybe other’s will find closure in that, too. That’s the hope. I don’t know…it’s still in its planning stages. I’ll keep you posted!
Soooo it was my birthday last week. And—according to everyone BUT me—it was a pretty big one. (Context Note: I haatttee birthdays, so I’ve decided this will be my last. No more birthdays!) It’s supposed to be this big deal–it being the big “three-oh” — or as I like to call it “twenty-nine plus one”. Not to exaggerate or sound flippant, it truly, TRULY surprises the hell out of me that I’ve actually made it this far, to thirty. Hell, with everything I’ve done, what I’ve seen, and what I’ve gone through … it’s a real wonder that I’m still here, alive and breathing.
If you were to ask me seven or eight years ago, I imagine I probably would have said that would take nothing short of a miracle. But I was so wrecked then, and hurt. Still reeling. Still fighting my way to the surface, bogged down my emotional and physical scars, trust issues, and insecurities that were still new and raw. It was all at-once and just so overwhelming. Before that, I never really factored in or gave much credence to age–and mine in particular. It really was just a number. And thirty–well, thirty seemed far off…I thought I had time. Until I didn’t. I think that, for the most part, I hadn’t really seen myself as being a grown-up or an adult, at least not before then. I was still in that naïve, trusting, utterly oblivious, left-over-from-teenager-dom state. I hadn’t really lived yet, you know? I wasn’t innocent–I’d experimented a little and crossed a few boundaries–but it was mostly just minor things, mixed in with some select, world shattering, major moments. Some of it was fear…some of it was hesitation. In the end, I think I was just waiting for some AH-HA- moment to strike where I’d finally start to feel my age and realize that I was, in fact, an adult. It’s ironic how I spent so much of my childhood and adolescence waiting–albeit impatiently—wanting nothing more than to grow up. For the day to come where it would all just fall into place and I’d finally get the chance to flip that adult switch. The day when I would stop being seen as a kid and finally be seen as an equal among my peers and to the rest of the world. All those years–all that time I spent looking forward, oblivious to what was happening in the “now”– unable to see or appreciate all that time and what I’d had; what was right there in front of me, the whole time. Like most teenagers, I had a narrow perspective and distorted view of what I expected and how I thought it would be. I romanticized it all–maybe a little too much–imagining and comparing adulthood and independence to some exciting adventure. I never could have predicted–nor did I–just how far that adventure would go ultimately.
Oh, how I had big dreams back then. To find success. To travel the world. To see for myself that there really was a whole bigger world out there, beyond the small town that I’d called home my entire life. I was so independent and curious and more than anything, determined to feel and experience everything. Just thinking about it was like a high just by itself–without the drugs and other fun goodies. But as with all highs, you have to crash at some point. Hindsight is 20/20. I wish that I had held on to those years and that innocence I’d managed to somehow keep hold of–in spite of some pretty messed up shit. If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it…exactly the same. Pain is visceral; heartache even more so. And no matter how much you want and try to avoid it, it’s inevitable. Pain exists for a reason…it’s a reminder of what’s real; that we ourselves are real. No one tells or prepares you for it, for what’s out there. They don’t tell you that adulthood is hard and complicated and well, that it’s messy. There are no warning, they just throw you to the wolves and watch the slaughter. You’re alone in the world. With your regrets and your worries and those brutal, hellish lessons waiting to be learned, and all while the universe slowly chips away at your soul until there’s barely any of it left. I went looking for adventure, but fell head-first into one disaster after another. The world is big and mean and scary as hell. It doesn’t have to be, but it is.
I hate that last little push into adulthood—always will. Though it completely sucked at the time—obviously—I can see now that it was a necessary evil. For so long I’d been walking around in this daze, running on good nights and good times with good friends, and sunshine, with this whole you-only-live-once persona (before YOLO was even a thing) and not really learning or growing as a person. If that makes sense. I needed the reality check…or that “swift-kick-in-the-ass” as my Grams would say.
When I think back to my mindset then and how I was essentially in this slow-moving stasis—it seems and feels as if an entire lifetime has passed between then and now. Like I’m a completely different person. I guess, in some ways, I kind of am. I don’t know if that’s a good thing…but I’d like to think that it is. Being young is so easy. You could literally hold time on the tips of your fingertips—or so it seemed. Everything was expendable. School, popularity, friends…the whole shebang. Of course, there were a few edgy, brief moments that made me question my invincibility. Like getting chased by a gun-toting-wannabe-gangster in a rough part of town because your friend decided to deal with her grandfather’s recent passing by getting numb-drunk. And such as it usually was when the Bestie got a tad bit too drunk…things escalated from there. She chose to respond to a somewhat insensitive comment by smashing a beer bottle over the back of said wannabe-ganger’s head. Or like leaving a party at 3am and you happen to stop for a street light next to a car with 4 leering guys and your idiot, drunk friend decides to roll down her window, shamelessly flirt for a full 20 or 30 seconds, and idiotically challenge them to follow us back to where we were going—and despite that challenge being drunk-silly and insincere, they ACTUALLY do it and follow your car 35 minutes (with several failed attempts to lose them), only to be met by several of your macho male friends who promptly crushed their expectations of a hookup of any kind, and subsequently threatened by the sudden appearance of a gun when ordered to leave. See? It really is a miracle that my friends and I made it this far, considering how reckless and ridiculous we were
People keep asking me what I want for my birthday. They, of course, laugh when I answer with “the last ten years of my life back”. They think I’m just being funny when in-fact, I’m dead serious.
Thirty—it just doesn’t seem possible. It feels like it was just yesterday when my friends and I were teens sitting in the quad, talking and joking about how thirty was so far off…how we’d be settled and have everything figured out by then. But here I am, not exactly settled…and nothing figured out.
BUT I’VE GOT TIME.
Sooo, I guess it’s a Happy (LAST) Birthday To ME.
xo MESSIE xo
PS. Found an old photo album earlier… This little gem was in it. (I apparently didn’t like to wear clothes…lol)
Oh, to be FIVE and FUN and FOREVER YOUNG again…
Me & My Sissy. ❤ ( age 4/5ish )
America. The land of the free. Or so they say…
Trust the system, they say. Trust that justice will prevail. But it didn’t yesterday. Hell, that seems to be the case with most things these days. Philando Castile was an American citizen. He was 32 years old and worked a menial job as a nutrition services supervisor for one of Saint Paul’s public schools—a job, I might add, that he’d held down since shortly after he graduated high school. He wasn’t some gangbanger or deadbeat (though it wouldn’t matter if he had been). He was an innocent, up-standing citizen, from all accounts, and aside from numerous traffic infractions, his record was clean. Like so many persons of color and/or minority, he was singled out because of his ethnicity and color of his skin. You can’t tell me any different. Circumstantial and/or lack of evidence aside, he was murdered. A man in blue and with a badge killed him in cold blood…and thanks to Facebook Live, it’s out there forever—imprinted in the minds for those that had or have seen it. It’s sickening.
Like Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, and the dozens of other victims at the hands of the police, he did nothing wrong. He informed the officer of his permit to carry a concealed weapon from the start, just as he was required to do. He did everything he was supposed to do…and yet, he was still murdered. Live. In front of and watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers.
His killer was just acquitted and is walking around free, among us all. Mr. Castile wasn’t given that luxury…because he’s dead. And for what? Because his skin happened to be dark and not white? Because he supposedly fit the description of a burglary suspect with a “wide nose”? Because some officer jumped the gun and pulled the trigger without affording him the benefit of the doubt that is often automatically afforded to individuals that are white?
The system dropped the ball on this. The fact that he shot Mr. Castile on a live-stream—how much more proof do you need?!—makes it that much more fucked up that they acquitted him. Innocent on all counts…but that’s not exactly true, as we all know far too well. He isn’t innocent. He discharged his entire service weapon into the vehicle, seven bullets to be exact, at Mr. Castile from outside the vehicle—while Mr. Castile was still wearing his seat belt and gave no impression or intent of violence. No threats were spewed. No sudden moves were made. But the officer claimed (and still claims) he was in fear for his life? Yeah, no–that’s total bullshit. Even if that were the case, did he honestly need to shoot the guy seven times? Wouldn’t one bullet have sufficed? What’s even more fucked up is that the officer fired into that vehicle seven times with a passenger and a 4-year-old child in the backseat. Who the hell does that? Murder/manslaughter aside, he should still have been charged with and convicted for using excessive force, and endangering the welfare of a child, at the very least. Hell, a man is dead, but his murderer gets off scot-free. What kind of twisted shit is that? It’s not justice, that’s for damn sure. Had it been an ordinary civilian that shot him, he/she would have been charged and likely convicted for manslaughter ASAP. It wouldn’t even be a question or thought. But because that officer has a badge and chose to shoot first, ask questions later…a man is dead. And now, despite those very reasons, he gets to walk away without reprisal or consequence. How is that fair? To answer in simple terms, it’s NOT.
Something—the system, the courts—needs to change. Someone needs to do something. This hostility can’t last indefinitely…this war between the police and civilians must end. We need better laws that protect the victims, and not the perpetrators. This shit with these gun-happy, (often) racially-motivated cops getting away with their crimes has got to stop. And if they don’t do something soon, I predict that all hell is going to break loose. People are rioting and marching in the streets because they’re sick of it all. They don’t trust the police, but then, why would they—especially what with everything that’s happened recently. There’s so much anger brewing between both sides and eventually it must combust. And no one wants to be there for that. I sure as hell don’t.
What pisses me off about all this news and these cases is that it’s only adding the proverbial gasoline to the proverbial fire, making things worse. The marches, the riots…people are demanding action-demanding change. The Black Lives Matter movement is stretched thin and people are on the edge. The movement has strayed so far from its original intent that it’s barely even recognizable. Granted, I think some of it is exaggerated. If there’s a black person(s) involved—in any way—innocent or guilty—it breeds hostility and becomes a case for racism. And that’s not fair. Yes, sometimes it is racially-motivated. But what many fail to realize it’s that that’s not always the case. Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with race, but people make it out to be. I hate that…how quick people are to assume. Most people are good. Most don’t have a racist bone in their body. And still, people like to jump to conclusions based on history from decades before—experiences and injustices that they, themselves, have never even encountered, most of the time. You can’t play the victim card when you’re not really a victim. It’s hard to see through the bitter fog of misery some times, that much I do know.
I’m not even going to get started on the Bill Cosby disaster, but I will say that it’s a bun. The man admitted under oath that he’d drugged and assaulted several women, and now whole onslaught of victims are coming forward claiming the same, and yet…the guy gets to walk. I don’t care if he is a TV icon for persons of color…he’s a rapist. They should lock him up and throw away the key. Let’s wait and see if the prosecutors have the nerve to try him again. Hopefully they will so.
We live in a sad, sad world. Such a shame. All that I can say (ask) is #WhereIsTheLove. Seriously. Where. Is. The. LOVE.
My heart, it still beats. But this pain is forever, and always bittersweet.