Monday, April 24, 2017

hidden messages

Throwback to a poem I wrote 1/26/13:

there were warning signs
but I didn't yield
he said jump
and I flew to him

with his eyes
on my eyes
I'm invincible

truth as dark as sunlight
glaring every day
but our time was full
overflowing with laughter

his voice gave me strength
he said I was all he wanted
but then joyous news brings pain
such a blessing begets such loss

he was the best I've never - cliche
the only I'll always wonder- typical
such a damsel
such a princess
but he gave me wings
such silly things I'm thinking

maybe he'll see this
and he'll know what I meant
I would fall for it, fly to him
every day - any day

praying for the strength to see
when my pleasure eclipses the ache
when the happiness is all I feel

he'll soon be the man he should be
husband, teacher, coach, father
the man he's meant to be

I only feel joy, pride
but I see the red veins
little cracks of lightning
thunderous applause pounding

solace is my bed
in the blankets, the pillows
his voice telling me
"I want you"
over and over

clinging to my sheets like they're him
if we were close enough to touch
mascara stains on my pillow
like his shirt if he would hold me

he was the best I've never - cliche
the one I'll always wonder - typical
fairytale believing, rom com watching
jane austen reading silly little girl

craving to be the exception
always the one that "got away"
got tossed away
got thrown away
got pushed away more like it

a plump grape dying on the vine
our connection, the sweet wine
never to touch our lips
always imagined overflowing
actually bone dry

signs behind me read Dead End
so I turn, make a new choice
try again
hoping someday this road leads us back

all I have is cliches - typical

Friday, April 21, 2017

My history with depression and counseling.

::Trigger Warnings:: Self harm, depression

When I was in high school I kept a journal. I spent hours on Xanga finding those little square icons and collaging them onto the cover and the pages between. I found poems, quotes, and lyrics that spoke to teenage soul. I wrote about school, friends, boys, and my overwhelming sadness that didn’t have a name. I searched for relief and some of my friends told me they found release in cutting their skin. I went home and wrenched about the cheapest razor in the house until I was holding just the blade between my fingers. I tentatively, carefully hid it within the medicine cabinet of my own private bathroom. It stayed there for weeks as I spoke to my friends about why they did it, how it felt, if it helped. I took all their information and when I could - their razor blades and pocket knives. I threw their weapons in the trash. I would come home and run my fingers along my little contraband blade. I would write furiously about how I hated myself and no one understood me. I would indulge my deepest darkest thoughts, plucking them out of my head and onto the paper. I wanted to be free of this weight, this heaviness.

One night I cut myself. I just wanted to see if it would help. I remember it hurt. I didn’t feel release or calm, it just hurt. I started wearing a sweatband bracelet from Hot Topic more often. I cut myself more nights, but they were always shallow and scared. I just wanted something to be different. Some people talk about the feeling of release, seeing their blood spill, but for me it was something tangible. I couldn’t explain the darkness inside, but if people saw my scars they would know. A sign that other people could see to know that I was hurt. If people knew I was broken, maybe sitting quietly in the corner would be enough.

I loaned a friend my journal so she could copy a poem. There was no email access, no texting, no Facebook walls. There was paper and pen. She wasn’t on the bus the next day. In first hour, an aide gave me a note to go to the counselor’s office. I went, confused. When I walked into her office, she was thumbing through my tattered journal. She was casually holding my soul in her hands like it was a Big Mac; I felt cheap and greasy.

She told me my dad was on the way to get me. A security guard had gathered my things from class and brought them to me. I remember seeing my friends through the counselor’s window walking across the parking lot to go the homecoming assembly. My friend’s mom had found the journal and thought it was “disturbing”. Everyone was in the auditorium but me. It needed to be determined that I wasn’t a threat to myself or others before I could come back to school. The counselor pointed out a few quotes - “oh, this is nice.”

The rest is mostly lost. My dad came and got me. I remember my mom looking under my wrist bands, but not her reaction. I remember writing a letter saying I would never do it again even dating it. I remember feeling frustrated that I had to leave school, hoping I wouldn't get grounded from the computer. Later, all three of us, we went to the psychiatrist's office. We sat down and she immediately offered pills. I will forever be grateful to my parents for turning her down and leaving with me.* Next stop was the counselor. We all sat together and discussed my situation. My parents talked to him alone. Then it was my turn. I was left alone with this stranger, Mark. He was holding my journal. I immediately felt anxious.

“So, your parents gave me your journal. I want you to know that I haven’t read anything in it. If you want to share it with me, you can, but I want that choice to be up to you.”

He handed me my journal and neither one of us knew it, but in that moment I was forever changed. He instilled a sense of trust in him, in therapists, that I am forever grateful for. In my 15 year old body, to be shown so much respect and autonomy as a person was remarkable to me.

Going to counseling at a young age, changed the entire course of my life. Through my work with Mark I not only learned how to cope with my depression, but also that it was not a weakness to need help. Armed with that knowledge, I have moved forward in life in ways that I could not imagine. Of course, that does not mean that I never have bad days. In the last 10+ years I’ve had some very bad days, even bad months. What Mark taught me was that it’s not forever. When I’m in the moment of the darkness, I can recognize and articulate the fact that this is a fluid feeling.

I have depression. And yes, I say that possessively because it is indeed a heavy sack I carry with me daily. Some days I wake up and I feel like I don’t know who I am. I feel like a stranger in my own body. Things that once gave my life purpose no longer have any meaning to me. My life is crashing down around me. But not as violent as those words make you think. It's more like snow falling. Gently, slowly, silently, but flake by flake all I've ever known blowing around me and falling away. I literally can't get a hold of any of it, just melts in my hands.

I can identify the feeling now, but I still fall short. In the heat of it? When I’m in the middle of feeling like an alien in my own skin and bones? I retreat to my bed. I don’t answer phone calls or texts. I lie about how I’m feeling. It’s never an easy thing to explain being upset without a quantifiable purpose. It’s an emptiness without a face.

Even with the best most supportive framily, you can still feel completely alone and misunderstood. Sometimes it feels easier to just not get into it. It gets old crying and talking about the same feelings you can't stop feeling even when you know logically they're false or irrational. They're there - heavy and bouncing around in your brain - but you know they're not real. It's my brain tricking me, I know that. It doesn't always make it easier.

It doesn’t always make it easier, but how much harder would it be if I hadn’t met Mark? How much harder would be if I couldn’t recognize what I feel? How much harder would it be if my parents hadn’t followed through on the school’s request? I’m glad I don’t have to know.

Until Next Day,
post signature

*not because medicine is a negative thing, but because through the power of therapy I learned that my problems are manageable without pills. Some people cannot/do not wish to manage without medicine, that is a valid way to handle mental health as well. It’s all very personal.

Friday, April 14, 2017

SAAM 2017: Consent 101

Sexual consent is the active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sexual activity with another person (or people).

Every person involved with the sexual activity needs to be actively giving consent. All participants need the autonomy to make and voice any choice without being forced, manipulated, or pressured. Moreover, if an act is illegal, no consent can be given. Example: If an adult has sex with a minor, that is an illegal act. No matter what the minor says, they cannot give consent to an illegal act.

Rules of Consent

  • Consent can be revoked at any time.
    • Whether you've been with someone one time or 100, nothing makes consent automatic.
  • In some situations, consent cannot be truly given.
    • These situations include being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, being asleep, being unable to understand what one is consenting to, etc. Good rule of thumb - if you have to wonder "is this okay?" and they can't answer, don't do it.
  • Nonconsent means stop.
    • If someone is not consenting with words or actions, that means the other party/parties must stop.
  • A lack of no does not mean yes.
    • Silence does not equal consent.
What is not consent?
  • The way you dress.
  • Flirting.
  • Being drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • Kissing or any other sexual activity is not consent for every sexual act.
  • Pressuring someone using coercion or threats.
  • Anything that's illegal - Head to RAINN to find out more about the Legal Role of Consent.

Until Next Time,
post signature

Monday, April 10, 2017

Shopping While Fat

Alternatively Titled: Reaction Blog to Shopping the VBxTarget Collection

Yesterday, Sunday, April 9, Victoria Beckham for Target, a limited edition fashion line at Target debuted. Target has done many collaborations with designers before, but this is the first time Target stocked plus size pieces from their designer collaboration in their brick and mortar stores. If any of you tried to buy anything from their Lilly Pulitzer collection, you’ll remember they previously were only available online. So, not only was this a collection I was looking forward to, but I had extra excitement knowing that I wouldn’t have to take a bunch of risks online. Typically when shopping online the frustration is that you have to front a lot of money to buy things that may not fit. Plenty of women yesterday told me they purchased things in multiple sizes because they didn’t want to risk missing out on some pieces by buying the wrong size!

When asked about her line back in October, Beckham had this to say - "I want to design for women no matter their budget, age, or size," Beckham told Refinery 29. "I want to empower women and girls, and make them feel like the best versions of themselves. The fact that I can offer plus size is really exciting, it's a first for me, and it's something important that I'm proud of."

After seeing the bright colors, fun structured garments, and how body positive this campaign was - well, needless to say I was just giddy when I got to Target with Myke yesterday afternoon. We walked around the VBxTarget section, which I was surprised to find mixed - straight, plus, and children’s sizing all in one area! I was also shocked at how much I had to choose from in plus sizes! I ended up taking seven things back to the dressing room and I was being picky! Myke suggested I do a small try on haul for my Instagram, which I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of myself! I headed back to the dressing room with my plethora of clothes and told him I’d meet up with him later.

I left the dressing room feeling happy and excited that I had found two dresses that I felt comfortable and confident in. When I met up with Myke I expressed how wonderful it all was and how some of the 3x’s were even a little large! That’s a big deal to me because sometimes with “collaboration” lines like this they do “junior plus” sizing so the 3x is actually only equivalent to a 1x. The sizing being a little large means that it’s even more inclusive even though the tag sizing only goes to a 3x. I gushed about how this is going to be a great way to show other designers that fat woman want to be fashionable too and are ready to spend their money! Such a great step in the right direction.

We finished our shopping and headed to the register. I decided to only buy one of the dresses and Myke offered to take the other one back for me. Waiting in line to check out, I thought of how to describe the line best for my try-on post. I thought about how years ago if I had gone in that dressing room and had half the things not fit me it would’ve ruined my whole day. I thought of how cute I was going to look in this new dress!

Myke came back and I could see fire in his eyes.

“I just screamed at a lady.”

Now let’s pause. For those of you not familiar with my boyfriend, he is not a screamer. He is friendly, funny, and easy to get along with. I literally have spent 30 extra minutes standing in line because he makes new friends everywhere we go. So, of course, his statement gave me pause.

His words came out fast and frenzied.

“I had just hung up that dress and this lady is in the section holding up an orange dress. She started laughing and comments to her friend - ‘why would they even make this in a 3x?’ I said to myself ‘Myke D, you gotta let it go.’ I continued walking toward the front of the store and just as I’m standing maybe 5 feet from her she says ‘no one that needs a 3x should be wearing anything like this.’ I stopped walking, turned and pointed directly at her and said ‘you’re being really fucking rude lady!’

She looked at me with shock, then said something snarky like ‘what’s it to you?’ and I said/shouted ‘Different people are different shapes and that’s why they make different sized clothing!’”

Myke went outside to cool off while I finished our transaction.

I have to tell you guys, I have never been so in love with a man before.

We spent the ride home talking about fat-phobia and the importance of the body positivity community. We discussed why this woman was so offended by the fact that they make different sizes in clothes. Why this woman felt the need to be disgusted by the idea of a fat person in a particular dress, not really taking into account that a 3x can look different on different people and more importantly, it shouldn’t affect you what other people wear. How she so flippantly decided to police other people’s bodies.

We mused if I had been the one to take the dress back. I admitted that I don’t know if I would’ve been brave enough to stand up to her. We wondered if there was someone else who overheard the interaction. I pointed out that if I had overheard her, I would’ve felt really shitty about her and myself, but hearing him stand up for people in general would’ve been inspiring. And that’s the point I want to make here.

Myke wasn’t standing up for me, his girlfriend, who had just found a beautiful dress she felt super cute in from that exact same section. He was standing up for anyone who’s ever had a shopping experience where something didn’t come in their size. He was standing up for people and their right to exist and be clothed however they want. He was standing up for the girl crying in the dressing rooms because none of the clothes in the store fit her.

Adding plus sizes to your brands does not affect your straight size customers. That woman was not inconvenienced by my size, 3x being there. But that 3x being there? MADE MY DAY. To walk into Target, everyone knows this place, and see bright colors, structured pieces, and fun patterns in a range from XS-3X ON THE SAME RACK? I wish I could be 15 again!

I thought it was important that we share our story because I need Target to know how important is that they’re including fat people in the conversation and the fashion. It’s so important because people will say “no one’s paying as much attention to yourself as you are” and in the same breath criticize a stranger’s weight. It’s important because some people don’t realize how fucking hard it is to exist as a fat person and to be able to walk into a well known store and feel valid is EVERYTHING.

If you’d like to see my try on pictures, head to my Instagram. And I want to hear from y’all - Have you seen the VBxTarget line? What pieces are you loving? I’d love to hear from people with different body types about the fit and comfort!

Have you ever experienced this kind of bullying? How did you respond to it? (Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t know if I would have been as brave as Myke was. There’s no shame in not confronting a bully; your mental health and safety is always top priority.)

Until Next Time,
post signature

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Guest Post: A Year Ago

Today's blog is brought to us by one of our readers, Rhea. She reached out to me and asked if I would share this poem on my blog. You can find out more about Rhea below, including where to follow her.

February 23, 2015

There aren’t many things that I think about on a daily basis. But you’re one of them.

It was a year ago yesterday.

A year ago, I got the news that you weren’t with us.

A year ago, I didn’t know how to cope with you not being here. Sometimes I still don’t.

A year ago, our family went from tolerating each other to complete hatred.

A year ago, I watched my own mom break down like I’ve never seen before.

A year ago, I was sitting in class, mind blank, because I didn’t have any days away from school to

process your absence.

A year ago, I hugged you for the last time.

A year ago, I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to you.

A year ago is when I last saw your daughter.

A year ago, and one day, was the first day that I noticed that I wouldn’t be called Pigglett and given

some spare change the next time I saw you.

A year ago was one of the most difficult days of my life.

A year ago, I missed you then and I missed you now.

People say that they think suicide is selfish. I think it’s the people who think suicide is selfish are the most selfish of all. I believe that someone contemplating suicide is already at the “point of no return.” The point of return is already being gone, mentally and emotionally. The only thing left of a person is their physical shell; the shell that everyone sees with the fake smile but the sad eyes. The point of no return is basically being dead already. You are your own ghost. Not like the traditional ghost you think of, but the ghost walking around with a heartbeat and it looks like you. It’s the ghost that haunted the person and it’s finally taken over and no one sees it until the ghost has devoured you, mentally, physically and emotionally. Once the ghost has devoured you, you can’t escape it. The ghost starts to tell you exactly what it wants you to do and when it wants you to do it. It’s not like schizophrenia where you actually hear voices and do them. The ghost slowly takes over your thoughts and actions. It slowly starts to tear you apart and you don’t notice until it’s too late. It starts to tell you that you’re sad and worthless. It starts telling you that the world is better off without you. It tells you that over and over and then you start to believe it. Then you start to listen to the ghost. The ghost is suddenly you. You’re suddenly the ghost. You’re suddenly a shadow that people see when they miss you. You’re suddenly a memory. 

Hi, I’m Rhea. This is something I wrote when I was in a dark place after a family member is a victim to suicide. I strongly believe that you are not taken by suicide, you’re a victim of it. PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE NUMBER AT 1-800- 273-TALK. Mental illnesses are just as important to take care of as physical illnesses.

~It’s just a bad day; not a bad life~

Instagram- @KeepingItRhea

Until Next Time,
post signature

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2017

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year the battle cry is Engaging New Voices. They are specifically highlighting - greek life, parents, coaches, faith leaders, survivors, and community members. The campaign calls on new partners and community members to help expand sexual assault prevention efforts and ensure the next generation fosters attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month calls attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in this community.

Rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment harm our community, and statistics show one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives (Black et al., 2011).

Child sexual abuse prevention must be a priority to confront the reality that one in six boys and one in four girls will experience a sexual assault before age 18 (Dube et al., 2005).

Young people experience heightened rates of sexual violence, and youth ages 12-17 were 2.5 times as likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault (Snyder & Sickmund, 2006).

On campus, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time in college (Krebs, Lindquist, Warner, Fisher, & Martin, 2007).

You can download SAAM flyers, social media banners, and coloring pages HERE or view all of the 2017 campaign information HERE. And for more information, keep reading!