MarShawn and the Activist that Burnout

On the night of Monday, February 8th Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel blew his brains out on the Ohio State House steps. He organized actions around Michael Brown’s killing in 2014 in Ohio, founded a youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams for Ohio’s homeless and was honored for his commitment to activism by the NAACP and Radio One’s “Hometown Champions Award”. But I’m not writing an obituary for this great activist I’m writing to lamenting the trend for activist to burnout and suffer from mental health problems they are not addressing. I’m writing this to lament activist who waste so much time not loving themselves.

"We waste so much time not loving eachother." a quote form MarShawn written hundreds of time in black. In red, where the bullet sits in the gun the quote is altered, "We wast so much time not loving OURSELVES"

“We waste so much time not loving eachother.” a quote form MarShawn written hundreds of time in black.
In red, where the bullet sits in the gun the quote is altered, “We wast so much time not loving OURSELVES”

The suicide of MarShawn touches close to home, too close. Activism was my life for 4 years in college. I worked tirelessly as a student activist and readied myself for the world of “professional” activism when I graduated. I haven’t really gotten there, instead I burned out. I considered killing myself, suffered depression, and took over 3 years almost completely off from activism. It wasn’t until spring of 2015 that I reentered the world of activism and have been hesitant about my commitment to it in fear of burning out again. I want to do more than data entry for a union, but I’m not sure if I’m ready. I look around and am worried for myself as I see non-profits burn through and burn out activist by overworking them and underpaying them. That’s because activist don’t work a job for the pay or the hours, they work it because of there passion to better the world and non-profits exploit that.

Non-profits intentions aren’t necessarily malicious but the results are the same, burnout. Some organizations are especially bad like Clean Water Action and Grass Roots Campaigns, which both find well intentioned young people who want to change the world and with little training have them knocking doors fundraising, a truly exhausting job with long hours and with quotas for them to meet. This minimal direction and high expectations leads many youth to believe they aren’t cut out for activism. Some organizations act like the fact that people are driven to their work because of passion they should be exempt from paying their worker a minimum wage. Non-profit advocacy group, U.S. PIRG recently came out against a law that will have salaried employees paid overtime for the work they do over 40 hour a week, READ: workers will get paid for all the hours they work even if they are salaried. When arguing against it they even to the extent of arguing they should be exempt because they are “mission-driven” work.

The problem is activists by their very nature are often selfless people driven by the work and are willing to overextend themselves for the work (passion). They are committed to their cause (work) and tend to forget about themselves. Organizations only encourage such habits and encourage working long hours, meaning no one is concerned about activists’ mental health.

It truly hurts me to see activist being so selfless and having so much of themselves taken by their work. We are such devoted people but we aren’t devoted to what matters: sustainability.

I have had conversations and arguments with friends about sustainability in the paid-activist world, it has led us to be hesitant to getting involved. You can’t have a life and work for most organizations committed to change. It seems like you have two choices: make real change and being apart of something that matters or try to live a life that’s sustainable and healthy.

Of my friends that work in activism most have or do struggle with depression, and for some this wasn’t something they had before being a paid-activist. One coworker confided in me that she used to cut herself, another talked about her time at a Intensive Out-Patient facility, and another eluded that her isolation and overwork has caused her and countless fellow coworkers to become depressed. I know for a fact that a majority of my coworkers have suffered from depression (the rest I haven’t heard either-way from them)

These are the people who are working to change the world for the better! How? How can you expect people to change the world they are in when they can’t even be happy and healthy themselves? As an activist and an anarchist I believe that you have to live the revolution everyday. What sort of revolution is it when you don’t have time to enjoy yourself? to love yourself? to take care of your own mental health? That’s no revolution I want to be a part of, to paraphrase Emma Goldman, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution”

6/16: A Day Filled With Despair and a Bicycle Crash as experienced by Jenny

I wake up early at R’s she’s still sleeping. I think about how I’ve hardly gone to work this week. It’s Thursday I should to go today, for the money, and to finish the two projects I’ve been working on. As I lay in bed thinking about this I slowly begin to fully awaken. Eventually I’m awake and energized enough to leave.

I’m at my house before 7am, I shower and shave, dry off and meditate. I’m already half way through my morning routine. I’m relieved because it’s been hard to complete this routine in it’s entirety and I think I’m going to complete it and get to work before 9. I’m on fire! Except when I’m done meditating I don’t have the energy to get up for my meditation cushion… I don’t have the energy to leave my room.

I sigh, frustrated and disappointed I know what’s going to happen now and not much can stop it. I lay in bed half dressed and sleep for 2 more hours. I can’t sleep anymore I can’t really do anything so I just lay in bed. I text R, she doesn’t respond, looks like just me and the bed today! At 11:30 my mom calls to finalize her plans for her visit this weekend. This distracts me enough to get me out of bed. I make breakfast while talking to her on the phone. Egg sandwich and a fruit smoothie. My morning routine is complete as I finish eating my breakfast in bed.

I text R again, she hasn’t responded I hope it’s because she’s actually doing something. I get a response this time, she is also home, she’s also not doing anything. she wishes she could apply for jobs but her computer doesn’t work. Mine wasn’t working last night either but I fixed it this morning. I’m glad that I did because as I text her, “Now it’s easier to kill time.” “I want to kill time dead right now.”

R suggests distracting myself by reading or yoga. I realize I don’t know where my library book is so I decide to listen to a podcast. She’s right it distracts me enough that I find my way out of bed, not yet out of my room but I’m half way there.Then R asks me if I want to donate plasma today. It used to be a ritual of ours every Tuesday and Thursday. but I’ve been deferred recently and didn’t have time last week to donate because of work. I don’t want to donate but I do want to leave the house and accomplish something today.

spots at 4

A half an hour later we meet in the park just as the rain begins. We wait for it to slow in a gazebo. Our appointment is at 4, we have to get there by 4:30 or we aren’t going to be able to donate until at least 5pm. It starts to rain again, R doesn’t have a fender and her ass is getting covered in mud.

When we get off the bike path we keep getting split up taking slightly different routes and them finding each other again before splitting up once more. We’re almost there and it begins to rain harder. The rain is coming down and the wind is blowing. I turn around to see R take a side street, she’s going the back way. I’m jealous and wish I was taking back alleys. I’m on the sidewalk on Western ave. It’s a nice wide sidewalk with no pedestrians and better than my other option to the right, a long line of traffic going the same direction as me. Well at least that’s what they’re trying to do. They are facing that direction but I wouldn’t say they are really moving.

I look ahead and see a silver car’s front bumper emerging from behind a building onto the sidewalk, right in front of my path. I press down on my brakes, but I’m only feet away at the car at this point and combination of the rain and my poorly adjusted brakes only slow me down and I keep getting closer to the car. I stare at the front bumper and decide where to aim. I’m going to aim for the front bumper just to the left of the lights. I’m going to hit it with a slight right angle so I’ll bounce slightly to the right enough that i won’t go in the road but I also won’t slam into the car at a 90 degree angle.

I’m on the ground
I’m standing up with my bike between my legs.
I see the driver get out and run around the back of her car. I hear people asking if I’m okay and don’t know where there voices are coming from. I look to my right and some people in the long line of cars have their windows rolled down.

The driver of the car I hit runs around the side of her car. She’s in her 40s, glasses, black hair in a pony tail, baggy white t-shirt on. She looks like she didn’t really get dressed today. She’s manic right now.

She asks me if I’m okay and if I’m hurt what feels like a dozen times. I stare at her blankly and say, “I’m fine.” one time.
“Are you sure?”
I feel my body moving my arms and legs and briefly looking down at my legs. I have a two cuts on my right knee and a scrape on my left ankle. My arms feel fine, my legs don’t hurt at all. “I feel fine.” I just want to leave, I’m a block away from the plasma place and I just want to go meet R there. I don’t want her waiting in the rain wondering if I got hit by a car.
Someone walks across the street from the bus stop and asks me if I’m alright, I can’t see their face but still respond, “I’m alright.”
The woman asks again, “Can I give you a ride somewhere? I’d really like to give you a ride somewhere, where do you need to go?”
“I’m just going right there,” and point two blocks away to the plasma place, “I’m fine.”
“Are you sure, I’d really like to give you a ride.”
“I’m fine”.
“Is your bike alright?”
I glance down at my bike and try to remember what to check, I can’t remember but I tell myself I checked the handlebars to see if they were twisted I tell myself they weren’t, and then I pick up the front of the bike and kick the front wheel to see if it spins alright. It’s got a slight wobble, the kind of wobble you get if you hit a curb hard or get in minor car crash, fine but needs tuned soon. “Yeah it’s fine.” I reply dismissively.

I just want to leave. I don’t want to be here anymore I’m surrounded by people who are all staring at me I just want to go see R. I don’t like it here. “Are you sure you don’t want a ride? I’d like to give you a ride.”
“I’m fine, I’m almost to where I am going.” I begin to back up to leave. She walks back around the back of her car and before she opens the door I say. “Thanks for stopping to check if I’m okay.” I had to be polite and tell her that, too many drivers hit cyclists and drive away. I appreciate that she didn’t make me a hit and run.

I get to the plasma place and R isn’t there yet. It starts pouring down rain and this wind starts blowing so I wait around the corner of the building occasionally checking the bike rack for R. I’m soaked, and a drop of blood is trickling down my right leg. Finally R arrives and we lock up our bikes.

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The Last Couple of Months

The last couple of months have been something else. I gained friends, lost friends and had many realizations and amazing experiences. I got over some horrible things and I experienced some horrible things.

The first things that happened was a fight between Spaced and I. She took time from me and I began to realize that she is a manipulative narcissist. Since then I have not really talked to her for about two months and because of her closeness to Chem I’ve also hardly seen her. I don’t trust them, I shouldn’t have trusted them so much. I didn’t know what to do about this situation at first, so I just avoided them. I let time lessen the intensity of this conflict. I let awkward encounters happen without explanation, I left text messages unanswered. Today I finally sent an email to Spaced explaining my feelings. I don’t expect to be friends with her anymore, I don’t expect to care the burden of how she treated me anymore.

Instead I’ve found good people to replace them. I have become close with a coworker, Heart who is so dear to me. I wish she had more free time because I love spending free time with her. She has experienced and experiences things similarly to me so we relate on so much. Talking to her is like talking to a good friend that I’ve had for so many years, a friend that just understands. Also her name is heart on this blog because of her openness, a openness and compassion that has freed me to cry and admit how hard it is when she walks in a room. She’s just a good friend. In addition to her I’ve got a couple other folks that I’ve been spending time with that are new and I’ve been spending time with friends I’ve had for a while, like Preciosas (Von).

During this time I was also struggling severely with being molested. I made a drawing that expressed my feelings.

This says "I still don't feel safe." well over a thousand times.

This says “I still don’t feel safe.” well over a thousand times.

It says “I still don’t feel safe” well over a thousand times. And the song that goes to it is Orgy Drills by Tobacco

I ended up posting this drawing on facebook. That was an emotionally draining day, I was super triggered all day. I got lots of messages of support both private and public and it felt amazing about coming out about this. After the hard day I had an even harder evening as I went to meditation and felt like I was going to be attacked from behind. I was so on edge that I couldn’t even attempt to meditate until I changed seats to have Preciosas and another friend both behind me to protect me. That night I decided to stay over at Hearts house because I just didn’t feel safe alone.

Then a huge victory happened. I suddenly was mostly over being molested. It was amazing and empowering, I felt relieved and victorious, I finally felt like a survivor. A few days later I had a anxiety attack. My next demon had emerged and it felt like self loathing. The day following my anxiety attack I cut myself. First with a key which was dull as fuck, then with a piece of glass I found on the side of the road which was also dull and finally I ripped apart a soda can and actually cut myself. I wasn’t in panicked state, I was calm and angry. Angry at myself for who I was and I later realized for not expressing my feelings.

I heard a transman, Bex, on a podcast describing my experience perfectly. He had just made a bunch of big changes in his life, getting top surgery and no longer drinking Despite those changes he felt miserable and wanted to kill himself and even tried to. He said, “Turns out, that when you transition, beforehand you hate yourself and you’re in somebody else’s body and then afterwards, you hate yourself, but you hate yourself in your own body.”

I feel that a lot and I am only starting to unravel some of the problems that have haunted me. I will soon be free to be me. The problem is the road is a hard road to travel as I think I’ve made it clear. I’ve cut myself numerous times recently, I cut myself to end the feelings I felt, I cut myself because I couldn’t feel or find out how to express my feelings. I reflected upon cutting a lot and I had some helpful words from my Mom. I told her I cut and she responded saying, I know from my work that people do that because you are are overwhelmed are having trouble expressing yourself and I understand you’re going through a hard time. Validating and explanatory. After talking to my therapist more I realized what I was doing, and it feels obvious but it wasn’t at the time. I was cutting myself and showing it off in such an open way because I was trying to scream, “I hurt!” I wanted people to know I wanted people to know how hard it was, but I didn’t understand that I wasn’t explaining myself I wasn’t dealing with the real problem, expressing my feelings. I’ve started doing that more, it feels relieving. And understanding why I cut and why I want to cut makes me now how to stop it and not want to do it.

It’s been a roller coaster of a few months and I will always live in despite of these feelings, in despite of not being able to get out of bed I will have fun. The past months have been filled with canoeing and enjoying time with friends, bike rides and adventures. I’ve worked a lot, gone to a bunch of exciting actions for work and taking breaks and worked little. I’ve also found a new friend that was something more at first. I’m not sure where we are going anymore. But it was nice to be touched and loved for the brief time we did. She’s an adventure queen and is always down for any of my half baked ideas. Friend or lover, I enjoy her. Not ready to give her a nickname yet though, soon.

There ya go casbalog readers. The long overdue update. the negative, the positive and I can see the clouds moving away in the breeze, more are coming but there are less than before. I feel better than I have, worse than I have and things are going a good as I could ever have hoped. I’m enjoying my life.

Finding Reality 2016.4

It’s that season, the season where I release my new playlist. This it the third playlist in a series that happened (probably not entirely out or chance) to match perfectly a series of classes being offered at the Shambhala meditation center. I took the first two classes: “Who Am I?” and “How Can I Help” (with correspoinding playlists called “I am Who I am” and “What About the World”). The last class is called “What is Real”, I didn’t take this class but I ended up making a playlist in the theme of it anyway. This playlist for me catalogs a time of a lot of tension and disorientation, a time when the friends I trusted weren’t trustworthy and the reality I was experiencing wasn’t really reality. I’m talking mostly about Spaced here. I haven’t talked to her in about two months. With her I have also lost Chem and other friends. But in return I have gained my reality, it’s not as nice as Spaced’s reality is at times but it’s mine and it’s with me all the time, not intermittently. With that reality came a lot I have regained my trauma’s and problems and have now been able to work through them more readily. And finally I have started to realize I deserve better. I deserve friends who understand me, I deserve friends who I appreciate, I deserve to be treated well all the time.

Sadly there is one song that isn’t on youtube but it is available right here it’s song number 4

1. Harvest Moon – Poolside

This is what Jamie listens to. They have a pretty decent taste in music, especially chillin’ music. This song feels like hanging out in the kitchen on those long mornings when we would chat about our lives and views on the world. This feels like chillin’.

2. Crave You – Flight Facilities

Another from Jamie’s pandora station. A more sensual song, but with a similar feel, just chillin’. I can kinda see Jamie dancing to this song, or at least saying, “yeah dripping in gold.” Honestly these first two songs remind me so much of another memory.

I am in the bike shop on Sunday in the winter over two years ago. It’s snowing, it’s cold, the manager has gone home, no customers are coming in. K puts on some music, Surf music. We listen to this beachy, poolside music while staying warm inside and watching the snow fall. Feels perfect.

3. Seattle Party – Chastity Belt

I got this song from Fia, Cha’s roomie in Asheville. They are super cool and have an awesome taste in music, honestly that is where almost all of the music on this playlist is from, so props to Fia for having awesome taste in music.

This song also reminds me of driving on the interstates near downtown Pittsburgh. I’m not doing too hot, I’m feeling overwhelmed like I want to change everything in my life. Chastity Belt is calming me down, and letting me know it’s gonna be alright.

4. Dear Liberals – Lee Reed

IMPORTANT REMINDER THIS IS NOT IN THE YOUTUBE PLAYLIST FIND IT HERE

This song was passed onto me by one of the BLM activist in the area via fbook. Every once and a while I need a reminder where I am and where I belong. All of the lyrics of this song are amazing and spot on.

“Putting green products in their shopping carts like their spending habits could ever offset the suffering”

“Fuck a liberal”

5. Formation – Beyonce

I don’t really know what to add to this song, but apparently Hillary Clinton Keeps hot sauce in her bag *throws up in mouth.*

6. U – Kendrick Lamar

I am in my room about to go to sleep but I have just come to understand this song. I’ve skipped over it for months but now I feel it. I don’t know who he is talking about but it hurts. His hatred and this person, his love of this person, who is it. I get on rap genius and it hurts so much more.

He is singing about himself. *cue tears*

I listen to this song on repeat and cry myself to sleep. The following day it continues to haunt me and I listen to it driving home from work. I hate myself, I hate myself more than you ever could. I hate myself so you can’t hate me more than I do. I hate me so that you hating me means nothing.

7. Blackstar – David Bowie

This song makes me feel so much. I am a black star, I want to always be a black star.

This is the album that David Bowie released before he died to complete his performance. This is also when I found out very underreported facts about how he statutorily-raped 13 year old groupies, while at the same time we all were getting to know about Cosby’s wrong doing (while much worse he notably isn’t white).

David Bowie was such an amazing, free, fantastical figure to have. I loved his music and his style. He flies his black star flag proudly and reminds all the queers and freaks to be themselves and be proud. Thank you Bowie. I am a black star I will do my best to pick up where you left off.

8. Dirt (with Aesop Rock) – Tobacco

This song reminds me of a hilarious memory. I am half way through my art piece, “Molestation.” then I hear Aesop says, “It’s my duty to inform you,” and I slow my work and begin to focus on the music to hear what he is going to say next, “Honey bunches of oats is the greatest cereal every created by man.” And I burst out loud laughing, I just experienced some horrible thoughts writing “I still don’t feel safe.” hundreds of times and this is just hilarious. At the same moment Heart calls me because I texted her something somewhat disconcerting, and I can’t help but answer the phone laughing.

9. 2 Thick Scoops (feat. Serengeti) – Tobacco

Before I figured out how to download them I listened to them a lot on youtube. I would continually replay this song at work. I remember being in the awkward cubby hole I was shoved in using one of the computers at work. My view of a wall that almost entirely surrounds me and I’m there just replaying this song hidden from almost everyone.

“And dream of changing my name to Zack”

10. Forever Heavy – Black Moth Super Rainbow

This song feels like biking to work, biking home and trying to silence some overwhelming thoughts. Thoughts about Spaced mainly but in large part I just needed a break from all the fucking drama in my life. I couldn’t handle it and Black Moth Super Rainbow would shut it out just right.

11. Still Life – Slow Magic

Much the same this song quelled my crazed and paranoid thoughts, it calmed and soothed. I danced to this song on my bike. Dancing my arms around to the music in the breeze. This song freed me of these problems and let me float.

12. High You Are – Why So Not

This is some more surf, poolside music that is so perfect for the winter time, again via Jamie. This is one song where you have to sway, if not full out dance along.

13. Youth Group – Slow Magic

Slow magic is another band that Fia gave to me.

14. Melt Me – Black Moth Super Rainbow

I spent a lot of time listening to Tobacco, because they rock, and because I had the pleasure of seeing them live at Spirit with Jamie and more friends.

I had to put a lot of Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow on this mix. I’ve been listening to it pretty much constantly since I found them in Asheville.

15. Grease Wizard – Tobacco

This song gets me going every time and I am reminded of the first time it caught my ears at Green Gears. I played it a bunch of times that day and jammed out every time.

16. Orgy Drills – Tobacco

This song is wicked. This one caught my ear when I was doing the planning for my Molestation art piece. When I was listening to it church bells were going off in the background and it created a really cool effect. I knew there were church bells going off but wasn’t sure and couldn’t tell which sounds were them and which were from this song.

This is dark, this is perfect for Molestation that I drew about a month ago.

This says "I still don't feel safe." well over a thousand times.

This says “I still don’t feel safe.” well over a thousand times.

17. Mortal Man – Kendrick Lamar

This song really affected me, especially because he asks a question that I can’t completely answer it, or at least not how Kendrick wants me to, “When shit hit the fan is you still a fan?” I think of how I feel about Bowie when I found out what he did. It hurt, I couldn’t just forgive him for it, I still acknowledge what he did but I’m also still a fan, a huge fan but it hurts me.

“I freed you from being a slave in your mind, you’re very welcome
You tell me my song is more than a song, it’s surely a blessing”

This question really hurts me. These songs will still have the impact they do if Bowie did or didn’t do what he did, if Kendrick does or doesn’t get “framed” for something. But it tarnishes their credibility. I understand why Dominique Francon in the Fountainhead buys gorgeous art and destroys it, why she tries to destroy these wonderful creators. Because this things they create are better, more pure than any human could ever be. People will only tarnish their pure and amazing creations. They create an archetype that is unachievable.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Someone I’ve been going on dates with has really changed my perspective on darkness. Her name is Beanie and she’s a very socially awkward person who love the outdoors and is super cool, really easy to talk to and makes me feel super safe. We talked about making art prior to our first date and she very much appreciated my artistic style of repetitively writing words hundreds of times. On our date she told me that since we talked she had made a piece that expressed her understanding of what was at the root of everything for her, rejection. Instead of choosing to make art to a dark theme such as rejection she decided to make something about the opposite, embrace. This is the opposite of what I do, my art is filled with darkness, dark themes and horrible energy.

I brought this up on our second outing and I talked about how enthralled by darkness I feel like I am. She said she understood and that she often used to think about more dark thoughts but worked to retrain her brain to use more positive thoughts processes. This was the first time I really acknowledged how infatuated with darkness I am. It’s all around me. As I write this I’m sitting in my room surrounded by dark art I’ve made, art about suicide, cutting and self-hatred, and as I write this I’m listening to Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. I’m crying so hard from the pain I’m putting myself through, through the darkness I’m peering into I can’t even read why I’m typing, I hurt, I am staring into the abyss and it is staring back.

I have been seeing this meme a lot and had to use it when I saw this version of it.

I have been seeing this meme a lot and had to use it.

Why is this happening right now? Why am I doing this to myself. I’m happy I had a good day today, I feel good about today. I spent the whole day working on the garden I even got to hang out with Jamie all day. I feel like it was a rewarding, fulfilling day, but it didn’t take much for that to change. I watched a darker episode of Rick and Morty, the last episode of Season 2. It finishes with a sad scene and the song Hurt by NIN. Now I can’t stop listening to it. Now tears are covering my face.

Why do I do this to myself? Why is it that every once and a while I need to cry like this? Why do I need to torture myself like this? I stare into the darkness and tell myself I deserve this, I need this. I look at my suicidal thoughts, at my self-harm thoughts, or just think about being molested and how it leaves me feeling unsafe and out of control and I just wallow in this hurt. For some reason I need that “old familiar sting,” for some reason I think I need to balance the joy with pain.

As I look at how I feel, how I treat myself I suddenly feel myself calming down and slowing my tears. It doesn’t last though, in the next breathe I think of cutting myself, I think of administering raw pain just to keep my sorrow going. I don’t deserve this period of pain, but part of me disagrees, part of me thinks I’ve been too happy this week, part of me has to bring me down. Why? Why is it that when Beanie talked about not wanting to follow negative thoughts did I found that idea ridiculous? I told myself that is where good art comes from, that is what gives you perspective, that is where so many realizations happen, I’m a nihilist, that’s where I live in darkness and sorrow, but why?

I know why. I know a bunch of reasons why, I wish I didn’t. I do it because I need to torture myself, because sometimes I don’t deserve to feel good. I know this is true, because it hurts unbelievably to write this, to say this out loud. I love darkness because self-imposed darkness is safe. It guards me from all the other darkness that has been committed on me. My darkness is more powerful then theirs and therefore I don’t think about the way they hurt me, I think about the way I hurt me. I torture myself to have power, to have ownership over myself. I torture myself because I’m afraid of others hurting me.

This explains so many habits, why when I fall down I go deep, very deep into a black hole of darkness. I have these shrines, these trophies around my room to this darkness, to this powerful, this unbelievably powerful entity, darkness and self-hatred. Because no one can hate you more than you hate yourself. Or as Chuck Palahniuk puts it in Invisible Monsters, “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.”

Short Post

I am going to do a short update right now because I’m clearly having a hard time writing a longer post. I have one in the works but I’m not sure what the conclusion of the story is so it feels weird finishing it. So far I have two different conclusions to the story that are drastically different and I expect another ending to emerge for said story. So instead here is my short update that is vague but will hopefully give you the essence of where I’ve been over the last 5 weeks.

My life recently has been all out of sorts. I’ve had tons of drama with numerous friends and I’m still trying to sort out what is and has happened. I am not talking to Spaced right now, my relationship with Chem feels somewhat tenuous and I had a big fight with Jamie (but we are cool now). Everything I thought I knew about my main group of friends was thrown in the air. And I’ve realized I haven’t been the person I want to be or the person I know I am recently. I was sucked into an alternate reality and during that time lots of things happened that I’m not proud of.

But now I am on my way out of this world. I’m still scared I’ll go back to these bad habits but they feel farther away everyday. I’m surrounding myself with people I trust and people who truly and always have my best interest. I’m trying to get solidity in my reality but it’s hard. That, you see, is the crux of the problem. I’ve struggled with what my reality is for a while. I used to love getting caught up in other people’s reality. I mean, it’s not hard for me, I don’t believe in my reality. In my reality my history makes no sense. I lived 25 years as a boy but I wasn’t one the whole time. On top of that I was molested as a kid and discovering this information has really fucked with my sense of reality. My history all seems invalid and I can’t tell what things affected what has happened in my life and why I am the way I am.

This all feels very doom and gloom but as with all of my posts, and the way I am in general, things are good, things are getting better. I am getting through bad patterns in my life and have begun to rely upon good people in my life. People I can actually trust, not just people that I do trust. I feel much safer and want to give a shout out to Majesty, Vonne and Heart. These three have helped me deeply in my time of insecurity and I feel a amazing trust for them. Vonne has consistently helped me realize my thoughts aren’t that unreasonable and has just always been there and been present in a truly amazing way. Heart has helped me feel, especially in the hard times and is someone I trust. And Majesty, who is my champion. Majesty is the person who I imagine when I’m scared, he guards me from my molester, he guards me from bad friends and he is an amazing voice of reason. He has my back 100% and I love him so deeply.

And beyond being around people life is tangibly better. I enjoyed my birthday for the first time in so many years. I cannot remember enjoying a birthday, my earliest birthday memory is realizing how much it sucks to have your birthday on valentines day and that was when I was a freshman in high school. But this birthday I was self confident, surrounded myself with friends and was the center of the party. I got pied in the face, made people eat pie off my knees and got friends to lift up me and the chair I was in. I had a blast and I went to visit my family and ended up having the best birthday ever. And I got to spend it with two of my favorite people, Majesty and Spaced.

I’ve also decided to broaden my social horizons and try to find new people and just hang out with friends I keep missing. One more super exciting thing, I finally feel confident enough to go dating. So far I’ve been on one date and have another one tonight. I’ve never gone on dates before, I’ve always just dated friends. This is an uncomfortable scary experience, but I am doing it. And I feel good that I’m in a place where I feel comfortable putting myself out like this.

Things are scary, unsettling, hard, stressful, anxiety provoking, rewarding, relieving, exciting, humbling, and my life is moving forward not necessarily as I hoped, but probably faster than I’d imagine.

It’s All About Control

I’m sitting at my desk at work shaking because I feel out of control. My legs are tapping so fast that I my upper bodys shaking. I just listened to a This American Life podcast about pedophiles. This wasn’t my intention, the podcast is called Tarred and Feathered and the first half was not about pedophiles. When the pedophile part came on and I thought I could make it through and didn’t pause it. I wanted to face it I wanted to be okay with hearing about it. And I am in comparison to months ago when much less triggered me to hide in the basement (pictured below). I got through almost the whole podcast before taking a break to cry in the bathroom, I’m still here, I’m still working (sorta), I’m relatively all right.

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It’s hard to look at something so triggering to me, something that is actively haunting me today. I hurt there, I still haven’t accepted how being molested has affected me. I’m realizing how much it makes me struggle with control and feeling powerless, I’m realizing how being molested stole from me my ability to feel like I control myself.

That’s why two weeks ago I cut myself. It’s the first time I really did it after a decade of thinking about it. Over the past couple of months I had run dull objects over my inner to help me concentrate, specifically when making art, I tried a experimental cut with a sharp blade and didn’t like it. So when I needed to feel in control I knew what I was going to try, cutting myself. After calming my paranoid controlling self down I needed to find a security blanket to protect me, I needed to cut myself before seeing my friends.

I grabbed my nail cutters and ran the nail cleaner over my inner forearm numerous times until it started to bleed a little bit. Why? Because I had marked myself like a cattle with a piece of ownership, I cut myself because I was my own property not anyone else’s.

Immediately I feel overwhelmed with shame and guilt about doing this. I don’t want anyone to see this, I don’t want people know what has driven me to this point. I don’t want people to be concerned about me. That is of course what cutting yourself accomplishes most, garnering attention. I showed Spaced, and Jamie found out, we talked about it and now I don’t feel as uncomfortable about it. Instead I feel defiant pride, the kind of pride that says, “Yes I cut myself, do you have a problem?” The kind of pride where I explain the cut as a reflection of the my inner chaos finally being reflected upon my flesh.

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But that’s not why I did it. That’s not why I don’t know if I will stop cutting. I don’t want people to worry about my cutting, I can’t go too deep (because the object is too dull) and cutting is just a symptom. I want people to be worried about the problem, I want people to know why I cut. When saying this to my therapist she pressed me on what problem I wanted them to know. I hesitated and realized that I cut for control. Not just control over my body and situations but that is my problem, control. I need people to know how much being molested fucked with me and disabled me from having control over my life.

I don’t have control in my life, I often just go with the flow and have difficulty expressing my opinions. The worst comes in sexual relationships. I can’t say no. I can’t even figure out if I want to say no. It’s a scary feeling. In these relationships I often just trust the other person on how far or how fast they want to go and mirror their actions. Especially with new people I’m unable to discern what level of intimacy I want. Of course afterwards I know if I went to fast and I end up feeling awful and have numerous times.

It’s scary to watch it being played out with a friend, Spaced. We make sexual jokes back and fourth but at a certain point I can’t discern if she is joking or not. And I’m scared that something will happen and I feel like I won’t be able to stop it. It’s like suddenly the ground is gone from below me and I’m are floating down river with nothing to hold onto, only my trust in the other person. I trust her and don’t think anything is going to happen but still felt the need to make sure she asked for consent before doing anything, explaining that I can’t just say no or stop. And since telling her this she has said she’s going to stop the jokes until “I feel like I have more control.”

[Edit]

While this isn’t technically and edit since It is coming out in the original post I find it important to separate this from the post because this conversation came after the post was nearly finished.

I talked to Chem (who until yesterday had been distant while she dealt with some of her own boy issues) and told her about my cuts and she really pressed me to come up with a game plan when I feel the desire again. I struggled to come up with effective strategies and then finally said what I’d been wanting to ask from people for a while, to expect a call when I feel this way. The only problem was I didn’t feel right putting that burden on another person and felt I should deal with it myself.

Chem gave me a good insight into another couple thing I have going on. She talked about community as a fabric and as with any fabric when someone isolates they affect those around them, which turned my action that I thought of as not burdening people to something that very much affects people. She also helped me better grasp something that Charlie’s teacher in the Perks of Being a Wallflower says, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I understood the part that says we accept the love we think we deserve, but I also have come to realize we only accept the love we think we deserve. I accept bad love from people and I don’t accept good love from people. I’m a great supportive friend and will do anything for a close friend and need to remember to expect and accept more from people.