brain

 

When my therapist advised me to check into a treatment center, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be to go somewhere restful and sleep abundantly.

It’s exhausting fighting for every second of your life.

“Treatment center” is therapist jargon for “mental hospital.” I prefer the romance of “loony bin.” It comes from the word “lunatic,” derived from “luna.”

There’s something comforting in the antiquated notion that I, like vampires and werewolves, am simply the victim of changing phases of the moon.

 

I have an ongoing fantasy of electroshock treatments cauterizing the endless loop of chatter in my brain. No “and how does that make you feel?” for days and months and years. Instead, flip a switch; fry my brain cells; I am healed.

 

I long to spend a month in bland, sterile surroundings which provide no distractions. There, I can knit together all the holes poked into my psyche by the circumstances of my life, and the even bigger ones torn raggedly by the self-destructive ways in which I coped with those circumstances.

But life relentlessly beckons. I am not able to take a month off from the very same daily minutiae that I find crippling.

Instead, I’m doing intensive outpatient therapy, four times a week. Two individual sessions and two groups.

The course of treatment is 8 months; maybe longer.

Yesterday, despite it being November 1, I wore my Harley Quinn costume all day, including to group. As I entered the building, I wondered if the need I had to wear it an extra day; to the gym, supermarket, work; constituted being crazy.

 

Yes, probably longer than eight months.

 

 

I didn’t expect my new therapist to be so adamant regarding my diagnosis, and even more so about how much treatment I needed to address it. Our first session she told me I was PTSD embodied in human form. She was surprised I don’t short-circuit even more than I do.

She listed for me the major causes of PTSD, aside from active duty in the armed forces. Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, rape, domestic violence, sudden death of a loved one, childhood abuse and neglect…

On paper it scared me to see how many of those things I was able to cross off an anti-bucket list of things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

 

Before finding her, I did the responsible thing and typed my symptoms into WebMD. I either had PTSD or systemic yeast overgrowth. I went with PTSD. I located a support group through an online network.

This is how I found myself, one Saturday morning, in a smoky room filled with grizzled war veterans. It was as if Pippi Longstocking had mistakenly stumbled onto the set of “Platoon.”

I told the story of my brother’s brutal murder two decades ago; his brains and blood splattered all over his LA apartment. As I spoke the room grew eerily silent, the kind of silence that only happens when people aren’t shifting in their seats or even breathing. The stoic faces around the room softened with the one thing I cannot tolerate – pity.

Afterwards I fled, never returning.

 

 

Last fall, my mother and a different brother died the same week.

I imagine I will die alone, since I am opposed to marriage. But I hope not to die alone surrounded by uncaring strangers in a bustling airport; clutching at my chest and dead before I hit the ground.

It was in this way that my brother died; ironically, on the way to my mother’s funeral. His death was so unexpected that I went into rigorous denial. I invented exotic stories to explain his absence.

He was on an archeological dig in Papua, New Guinea. He was hiking the Peruvian Andes. I eventually floated so far away from the truth that I no longer felt connected to my own body.

One day I watched my disembodied hands typing at the keyboard and poured boiling water all over the right one, charring it with a third degree burn.

When I was younger, I self-harmed because my world view was derived from a damaged foundation. I’m renovating it, and it becomes sturdier all the time. But occasionally, the faulty misalignment at the base of my existence wavers, and I weave precariously out of control.

Now I go to therapy four times a week to somehow make sense of the unfathomable.

 

 

I have a steel cage around my heart. I dare not hope for love for fear of being deeply, painfully disappointed.

I date many rather than loving one. I float giddily from date to date.

I am no longer the ugly bucktooth kid left to rot in a group home. I’m not that awkward, teenage misfit. I’m the motherfucking prom queen.

I slip out of their houses in the wee hours to avoid the harsh reality of morning in the presence of another.

Sometimes I need someone to hold me so badly I think I might die.

My fear of abandonment is like a bomb suspended in the forever right before it detonates. I build walls to keep people out, convinced that once in, they will only leave, and days I am the cheeriest are usually the ones I feel most dead inside.

 

 

And thus I dream of the sizzle and snap of electricity rearranging twisted neurons and giving me a start as fresh as a child’s.

We are but specks in the infinite universe, finite and limited, but every action we take is to somehow create meaning despite our own brokenness.

Broken dishes, shattered lives. The world was not meant for perfection. I am tragically, beautifully imperfect.

Despair and hope are yin and yang.  One cannot exist without the other. Hope without despair is hollow and dishonest. Despair without hope is bleaker still.

And so I stumble forward.

 

Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

My Short Dress

October 6, 2016 — 99 Comments

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My short dress is not an invitation. It’s not a political statement. it’s not feminist; it’s not slutty.

I’m not even sure it’s fashionable.

My short dress is one of the only dresses I own. I’m not a ‘dresses’ kind of girl. I prefer jeans and rock tees and clothes that align my outside with my inside. My clothes are wearable art.

My short dress is perfectly comfy. It’s made of the softest fabric ever. It’s loose and flowy and billows out in a way that allows me to eat and drink whatever I want and never feel constricted. My short dress feels like FREEDOM.

My short dress is black, like most of my clothing. It’s not body conscious enough to be considered sexy nor frou frou enough to be considered a sundress. It’s kind of rock and roll and kind of funky and hard to categorize. Like me.

My short dress has a black lace trim all around the bottom. I love wearing it with combat boots; the juxtaposition of the lacy hem with rugged boots. Feminine and tough, all at the same time. Rarely do I get to be both simultaneously.

My short dress shows off my legs. They’re almost always covered up in jeans. So it’s an occasion when I show them in a dress – “THERE they are!”

 

My short dress does not say “come fuck me.” The clothes I wear in public do not communicate a desire for sex. Or a reason for you to expect it from me. It doesn’t mean I am “asking for it.” My short dress is not the reason why women get raped.

While we’re on the subject, women don’t get raped because of clothing. Or lack of it. Or flirtatious behavior. Or alcohol.

Women GET RAPED BECAUSE OF RAPISTS.

 

 

My short dress is not meant to stir uncontrollable lust in a man, creating in him an overpowering urge to yank it up and slam me against a wall. To suggest that is demeaning to men.

It’s also a flaw-ridden concept. How can we possess this inescapable power over men, wielded primarily through our bodies, and yet find ourselves subjugated through most of history?

 

My short dress was not worn to flaunt my body in a sexual way. I have moved beyond the desire to show you my tits and ass.

It’s easy to show you my tits and ass. I want to show you my intelligence, my wit, my courage, my compassion, my vulnerability. I am worth infinitely more than the sum of my body parts.

My short dress is not worn in the hopes that you will find me desirable. I won’t self-objectify, simply because the media has lied to me about what TRUE beauty is. I will not spend my days fixating on how sexually attractive I am. This leaves me with far less mental and physical energy to pursue what really brings me happiness.

My short dress is not an easier way to reach my pussy, although you said that while you pawed at me. You groped at my crotch through my tights and told me that was why I REALLY wore that dress, wasn’t it?

 

My short dress was not a reason for you to slut-shame me on Facebook, although you most certainly did.

slut-shaming

 

My short dress is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. It’s a choice I make.

My short dress is not attention seeking. My short dress is about comfort, visual appeal, mobility, my emotional state, the fabric, the cut. It’s an homage to my icons and an expression of whatever I was feeling when I reached into my closet.

My short dress does NOT say, “I’ll wear what I want, whenever I want, where I want.” That’s as extreme a viewpoint as “she was dressed provocatively, and that’s why she was attacked.” Both ends of the spectrum oversimplify a complicated issue.

My short dress was not meant to weigh in on that issue. It’s just a dress I feel good in.

 

My short dress does show my body, but it should not lead to judgement, pain or dehumanization.

It shows the line of my calves and the strength of my shoulders and the soft skin of my chest, but don’t overcomplicate my motives.

My short dress is a simple celebration; a reminder that I was blessed with one life, and in that life, a perfectly functioning body.

My short dress is not for YOU. It is for ME.

 

Have you ever been shamed because of what you were wearing?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

The Phone Call

September 23, 2016 — 67 Comments

phone-call

 

“So, basically you just said anything so you could fuck me, is that it?”

He answered without hesitation.

“Yes. Of course!”

His blunt honesty dumbfounded me momentarily, the way an oncoming headlight blinds you. Disoriented by his unabashed admission, I blurted out a rhetorical, “But why?”

“Why do you think?” he said. “Because that’s what men DO. We tell you what we want to hear so we can have sex with you.”

I wanted this to not be true, despite the fact that I believed it was. I should have hung up on him right then. But now I felt like I had stumbled upon a tunnel into a secret room where All The Questions would finally be answered truthfully. And I am a truth seeker.

“All men, all the time? Or just you, because seriously, you were relentless!”

“Oh, you were definitely work,” he said, “but I knew if I kept feeding you what you wanted to hear, I’d get you eventually. But yeah, all men, all the time. Married, single, whatever. We say what we have to say so we can get laid. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to work.”

I needed air.

I cracked my car window open and the cry of cicadas suddenly filled my car in surround-sound. They were louder than usual, and harsher, as if their haunting vibrato was the audio manifestation of my inner despair.

I was in my car driving home from open school night when I had called him to tell him that no, we weren’t going to be seeing each other anymore and that I didn’t like the way his behavior had changed. That he had gone from months of constant dogged attention to a more disinterested and sporadic communication.

After we had sex, that is.

Now I was pulled over on an unknown street, my car idling in the dark. Up ahead, I could see the lights of the stores still open on Route 9, and I fought the intense urge to drive to a nearby 7-Eleven and buy cigarettes. I hadn’t smoked in years, but suddenly I really, really needed one.

“So that whole first conversation we had, when we were on the phone for hours – was everything you said designed to get in my pants? I wasn’t even going to meet you, but you convinced me to have dinner with you that first night with all the shit you laid on me, about how women are emotional and sensitive and men need to be strong and supportive for them.”

“Yep. I knew that’s what you wanted to hear, so I said it. We had a great dinner didn’t we? We must have, because look where it led. I thought of it as an investment.”

“Dude, that is fucking cold! I mean, I’m jaded as fuck, but really?”

“Really.”

Fuck cigarettes. I needed tequila and opiates.

I said to him, “I don’t even want a relationship! Not a romantic relationship, but just friendship. So when I told you that I couldn’t commit to a relationship, but that I did want a man who would be there for me as a friend, you said you wanted to be that man just to fuck me?”

“Yep!” He laughed. “Why does this surprise you?’

I hated the way he sounded. Cold. Detached. The cruelty tingeing his voice gave him a hardness that didn’t even sound like the man I had spent time with.

“It doesn’t surprise me, ” I answered. “It’s just disappointing. Despite the fact that I think most people suck, I still want to believe that there might be a few decent human beings left. But this is exactly why I don’t get involved. This.”

“I thought you said you wanted to have this discussion in person,” he said. “Why don’t you come over?”

“Come over??!” I was aghast at his inane suggestion. “Because my kid is waiting for me at home, and also, I’d punch you in your face now if I came over!”

He chuckled. “I doubt that. How tall are you? I’m 6’4.”

“Are you drunk? You’re just shy of six feet! What, did you suddenly grow four-”

I stopped.
“Who is this??” I demanded.

“This is Michael. Who is this?”

I looked down at my phone.

I had dialed the wrong number.

 

Did you ever dial a wrong number and have a wake-up call?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. For real, I am NOT leaving my house!


missing-person-1 Continue Reading…

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I grew up white in a black world, and my childhood was rife with turmoil.

I was an outcast, taunted and beat up. I was vilified because I dared to love the black boy upstairs. By the time I was 11, white people called me “nigger lover” and black people ostracized me.

I belonged nowhere.

We were together for years – until that one day in junior high school, white boys chased us down deserted train tracks. My screams for help echoed sharply off the metal rails, as they beat on his arms with a crow bar. Until one broke.

We were never together again.

We have kept track of each other our whole lives. The scar tissue around our hearts preserves a wary distance between us.

Still, I dream of being reunited with him someday.

 

The great love of my life before I got married was a dark brown man I spent many years with.

He was undeniably gorgeous. Far better looking than I was or will ever be. One evening, on an overcrowded D train, a young black woman screamed at me for daring to be with this beautiful man, ugly fucking white bitch that I was.

Trapped in that subway car, I had no escape. He tried to subdue her, but she only screamed louder, said uglier things. I folded into myself, rendered mute by her attack. I was ashamed of my skin color. Again.

I stared down, hot tears dripping into my lap.

We broke up soon after that.

 

My childhood in a black NYC housing project has left me with a paradoxical mix of emotions and loyalties.

Although I grew up fearful of being persecuted because of my white skin, I also developed a fierce allegiance towards African-Americans, an allegiance that informs how I live my life today.

I loathe racism.

When I drive into Newark for my community service project, and people remark, “I wouldn’t even park my car there,” I SEETHE.  They are not saying that based on statistical data on street crime in Newark, which may even indicate that car jackings happen frequently there.

They just mean, “Newark is full of black people.”

 

I was sexually assaulted twice in my life. Once at a college frat party, and once in a seedy New York shooting gallery. My personal mythology tells me that heroes and villains come in ALL colors; that an Ivy League white boy is just as likely to rape me as a black drug dealer, and you will NEVER convince me otherwise.

 

My painful memories are valid. But I have not spent my entire adulthood fearful that I will die for the color of my skin.

I have had several skirmishes with police over the years, more than I care to think about. Yet, I never had to worry THAT I MIGHT NOT MAKE IT HOME ALIVE.

 

Recent events have left me completely paralyzed in my ability to write anything.

This is not writer’s block. I have lost my belief in the power of the written word.

I’m plagued by the thought that not just my work, but all creative expression, is in vain when the world suffers such tragedy.

What do my stories even matter, in the face of these larger, horrific events?

 

I am an inner city project girl at heart. I have the fear, rage, defiance and survival instincts of a project girl, and always will.

And yet, I am undeniably WHITE. To even suggest that I understand what it means to live life in black skin is offensive. I was able to shed my project girl past.

And I am alive, largely due to the color of my skin, whereas most of the people I grew up with are dead today.

 

For weeks I have walked around uneasily, with a cold knot of fear in my stomach.

Everyone is ranting on, and no one is listening. People are quoting statistics as if it matters whether one, or one million, dead bodies lie on slabs.

The Civil War was caused by racism. And I know it’s going to happen again. Right here, on American soil, we will be a nation divided, and make no mistake about it –

There will be blood.

 

I’M SO ANGRY listening to self-aggrandizing politicians drone on about change.

I AM TIRED OF THEIR WORDS.

I want to don army fatigues, dash into the fray like a warrior, and physically put my body in between black men and bullets; between policeman and bullets.

But I am a coward, just as I was 35 years ago, when I stopped loving the black boy upstairs.

 

 

 

The music of my childhood was 70’s R&B. I have loved and lived with dark skinned men. My first true love was black. My first best friend was black. The first house parties I attended were all black.

Black culture feels like home to me.

I’m going to get CRUCIFIED for saying that, because of my white privilege. How DARE I appreciate the positive aspects of a culture without suffering from oppression? If I talk about my love for rap music, dark-skinned men, soul food, cornrow braids – I’m appropriating a culture.

The world has become so divisive on the issue of race, I’m afraid of expressing my love of black culture. I feel shame, again, because of my white skin.

I am not entitled to love Black America because I am not willing to die for her.

Yet try as I might to deconstruct this, to make it more politically palatable, I cannot. I cannot stop loving black culture anymore than I can stop loving my son. It’s embedded in me on a cellular level.

No matter how angry it makes you, you can’t take that from me.

 

And so now I am finally AWAKE. And I will fight.

My weapons will be to speak out against anyone who says something racist and ignorant. I will forbid adults to spew their racist rhetoric in front of my child, ever.

I will speak out on social media, instead of hiding in desperate avoidance.

And I am moving my family out of this white washed, homogenous suburban neighborhood. I will raise my child in a culturally diverse neighborhood, because he deserves better than this.

 

 

I wrote this despite my overarching belief that right now, creative expression is useless.

I wrote this because until I did, I could write nothing else.

I wrote this because although I am afraid, I must do SOMETHING. And this is all I have.

I wrote this because I KNOW that fear is built into the racist society in which we live, and used to control ALL of us.

I wrote this because although I may not be racist, I enable racism EVERY DAY by participating in a racist society. 

I wrote this because maybe, MAYBE, someone else who has been asleep will awaken now, like I finally have.

I wrote this because despite all my fear, inaction and shame,

there is a speck of hope

for the possibility of change.

 

Click below if you’d like to hear my spoken word piece, “White Girl.”

 

Talk to me.
We all need desperately to start talking, and I’m REALLY listening. 

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