Dear Clarity

Dear Clarity,

I love you and the kids with all my heart. Nearly all of my energy over the past 20 months feels like it has been dedicated to healing you and the kids. It’s been rewarding and satisfying to watch your growth. It hasn’t been sustainable or healthy for me. As it continues it also doesn’t seem healthy of helpful for any of us.

I got to watch the littlest child come out of her shell, watch middle child emerge from the boy she was, watch the oldest begin to verbalize his emotions in a way that few adults can. And, of course, watch you grow immensely as you shed years of trauma and break through old patterns as you begin to remember the real you. You all are hardly the people I met, it makes me cry tears of overwhelming joy and hurt to think about it. I think I can confidently say there isn’t much I would trade for that.

All the while I have pushed and pushed myself to do my best, better than my best to show up for all of y’alls healing. This has caused me to deteriorate. Suicidal thoughts and self harm was nearly gone from my life but has now reemerged and is stronger now than it ever has been. I spend hours some days unable to move as I collapse on the ground, feeling like there is someone standing on my chest. Irritable, depressed and apathetic, I’m starting to see the kids trying to avoid me, trying to get away from my angst. I am starting to see this not only as unhealthy for me, but unhealthy for everyone involved. As I snap at you, as I distance myself from you, as I am unable to show any love towards the 4 people I love so much. Instead I feel myself growing increasingly irritated with you, and increasingly view y’all as burdens.

As I take a step back I realize just how overwhelmed and stressed I am. I step back and realize how unhealthy this is and how I have immersed myself in your family’s world to the point I feel like I have almost ceased to exist. This isn’t a new struggle, it’s an old one that’s tied in with being trans. It’s a clinging I did and still do to other people and getting lost in them and their problems.

I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do this anymore. I wanted to be everything you needed to help you grow and get better, I wanted to want to be a caregiver, a parent, to have 3 kids and a dog. I wanted to want all of these things I was given and all of this security. But I don’t, I just want me, I want my life back and I want you to be in it, but not be it.

It’s not about holding out for the next time we move, or the next routine we develop, or that break through in therapy or that new job. It’s about me needing to be Jenny, a person that has only existed in name for 4 years. I am not ready to be a parent. I’m not ready to have 3 kids a wife and a dog. I have so many dreams of my future and what it looks like. This life feels suffocating and I don’t want to have people I love so dearly feel like they are just burdens suffocating me. I want them to bring joy and desire to see them, I want to have glee playing with and seeing y’all. This is something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Now, I’m sure you want to talk logistics now that I got my feels out, you want to understand what I’m even asking for. I don’t have a solid grasp on a healthy and thoughtful way to make this transition work for everyone but I know what my soul needs and I need a break before I can plot out long term logistics, otherwise I’d be planning based on my current desires to be around y’all. My end goal is to be an auntie and a nanny at times. I love you all so much I can’t imagine being happy not seeing y’all.

I know I’m going to be needing days instead of hours. I know I desperately need to heal to feel like a person to have time to connect with my people. I don’t want to disappear. I want to step back and become less involved. I think that would be the healthiest thing for all of us. I don’t have a timeline, but I do know I want to live elsewhere within this year.

I hope you understand how much this has torn me apart thinking about how I do and don’t want to do this. But I know in my heart that this is what is the best for me and what i have to do. I think this will also be great for y’all though it’ll definitely be hard at first but it’ll allow for a lot of much needed growth.

I want to talk more about this and can whenever you’d like. I was hoping to share this info last Monday at our group therapy since that didn’t happen I had to write it out. I will always love you in a way in a way I have never felt before.

Love, with all of my heart,

Jenny

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The Day

The day I want to kill myself
it isn’t the day I have a crisis
it isn’t the day I cry for hours
it isn’t the day I cut myself
it isn’t the day I am angry, miserable and filled with rage and hurt

That’s the day I want to scheme
to tie a noose
to make sure it fits over my head
to find a spot
to make sure it’s hidden from sight
to find a stump
to make sure it’s easy to knock over
to write a note
to cry and scream in frustration and hurt when I realize today isn’t the day

The day I want to kill myself is
when I feel the cool breeze over my face
when I can hear the birds chirping around me
when I feel calm and present in my body
when the day has gone well and there isn’t a thing in the world making me knock over that stump

That’s the day I want to kill myself
a good day a happy day
a day where I say that was a full life
a day where I say that was a good time
a day where one tear escapes my left eye and runs all the way down my cheek until it reaches my chin and then it hops off to land on and be absorbed into my shirt
a day where that tear has to run past a smile before I knock over my stump.

What a Luxury

I have come to a lot of new understandings in the past year due to changing experiences and perspective aka, being poor and having 3 kids. These aren’t the things I want to share, they aren’t the joy, the love, the compassion, the growth, the power, the strength I have gained. No these are the ugly, the horrible, the depressing and the crushing I have experienced. I share this here because I have nowhere else to share it. No platform, no time, no people except y’all. Thank you for lending your ear, err your eyes.

And remember, I am currently the best person I have ever been, I’m struggling, sure, but I’m growing. Growth doesn’t happen in times of happiness and joy, but through hardship and challenge.

Luxury is so very perspective based but whatever you deem luxury feels luxurious.

When I was a kid luxury was a bar I couldn’t achieve. Over time it lowered and a few years ago luxury felt like a watermelon, and fresh cooked corn on the cob. Now my bar for luxury is much lower. Peeing alone and undisturbed is a luxury, having 3 dollars on me feels like luxury, having time to write, make art, putting up insulation in my room in the attic feels like luxury, having the ability to ride a bike or a long board or even just go on a walk feels like a luxury. Heck, having a adult conversation feels like luxury.

The luxury I failed to fully comprehend though I acknowledged it was the luxury to dumpster diving. There was so much joy there and the bounty was just that, a bounty of luxurious goods. But this luxury no longer feels like one though, my bounty has begun to feel like a burden. That’s because food from the dumpster feels much more liberating and exciting when you don’t need it to be there. It seems to be how you come at it: without expectation. Meanwhile I jump in these cans questing for a lunch, I have 5 pennies in my wallet and $8.55 of my ACCESS card and I plan on using that to buy something for the kids. These frozen donuts feel like my salvation. Yet they crush me when I realize their importance to me.

Immersing myself in emotions, while normally these were negative emotions, cutting, suicidal thoughts, depression, now feel like luxuries too. I long to feel my hurt, to have the space and the energy to have them consume me. I currently feel a dark cloud that I used to call nihilism and depression. I keep it at arms distance most of the time, but I call upon it when I have a chance to feel it’s overwhelming pressure. I can conjure up tears sitting alone for just minutes now. Time has become so much more valuable and much more well used.

I even have a fucked up day dream along that same line. When the kids are older and the time is freer, I desire to go on a journey like the journey’s I once had and often dream of. A journey of nothing, no destination or point, no resources or burdens. A wandering journey where I just go. A journey where I have my bags and my transportation. Maybe I sleep in a tent outside, maybe I sneak into a hiding spot in a building somewhere. I use what there is around, I just walk a lot, sit a lot and ponder and explore. Then when this time comes to an end, when I am off the map alone and lonely for a few days or few weeks, I disappear to hang my last moments from a noose or dead in a ditch.

I hope to be back to write more for ya’ll. I have a poem called “Bloody Fists” coming out next week or so.

Winter Solstice 2017

The first time I missed winter solstice in 7 years was December 21st 2016. Here I am sitting cross legged on a crushed Domino’s pizza box on a cement-floored, covered porch pressed in the corner against two cold brick walls of a house. Clarity, my platonic partner, is standing feet from me taking puffs from her cigarette and occasionally turning to blow them outside of the covered porch area we are in. She’s waiting for me to be present again, to talk to her. I’m absorbed in my phone frantically typing into the search bar of my web browser, “winter solstice 2016 time and date.” I press enter and the page promptly loads displaying a page that clearly says at the top of it, “Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 At 5:44 am EST.” It is currently Wednesday, December 21st at 12:18 pm EST.

I should be sleeping right now after staying up all night. I should have covered my windows with blinds, curtains and sheets to keep out the sun. The sun that came up because I stayed up all night with only candles to light my surrounding. My hands should be finally warm after a long brisk journey adventuring outside to see the sun rise from the top of a tree covered hill in the cemetery near my house.

But here I am sitting on a pizza box cursing, “fuck, fuck, fuck!” I didn’t stay up all night. I didn’t wish my friends “happy winter solstice.” I didn’t even know the date or time of Winter Solstice. Why, why, why, why, why!?

Because I am a mom now. Because I suddenly and abruptly have 3 small children. Because I have a house that needs cleaned, clothes that needs washed, dishes that need done, food that needs cooked, mouths that need fed, voices that need to be listened to. I may sometimes call myself their theraputic support staff, other times Clarity’s platonic femme dyke partner, but what I really am is a mom.

I am a mom to 3 kids, I am a partner to Clarity. They drove across this country and the country north of here to be in this city, my city, her city, our city, a place where she hopes to finally feel safe, a place where they are all finally free of his abuse. A first stopping spot where she will raise her kids in a safe environment where they can be who they are and not be mentally or physically abused any more.

And here they are starting to feel safe, starting to explore themselves more, starting to tell us that some of them are girls. Starting to get enough attention and not having to worry about words and fists being thrown. Instead we all are growing into the magical beings we are. And I am here as an essential part of this, part of them all processing what has happened to them. Giving them all the attention and support they need to overcome and finally cure generations of abuse that has happened to these 3 native kids and their amazing mother who has been through more than I can grasp.

Two of the three kids I care for

Two of the three kids I care for

So here I am on winter solstice thinking about how this is a time for reflecting, for staring into the darkness and seeing the sun rise out after 14 hours of darkness. I didn’t reflect on winter solstice, I didn’t even realize it was winter solstice. But here I am watching a family emerge from the darkness, watching myself emerge from the darkness. I may have watched the sun fall or rise, but over the past 3 months and more I have been watching 5 magical beings including myself emerge from darkness. We all been emerging whether it be from an abusive home, a male identity that isn’t ours, a controlling an abusive relationship, a shitty job, shitty friendships, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and self harm.

We are all emerging from darkness to become powerful beings. And as I stand back and take time to reflect I can feel my chest filling up with strength, puffing out and taking up space in a way I never have before. I can feel my power bubbling up. I can feel my emotions and see others feelings with a new clarity, I can even grasp emotions that I don’t yet have words for. As I lift my arm I feel energy shoot out of it across sidewalk moving the leaves on the ground and shaking the trees. Energy flows from my head to my feet and into the earth as I ground myself on command. I am not just a person anymore, I am a being filled with magic, compassion, anger and love. And on this winter solstice I can’t say I saw the sunrise, or that I stayed up all night by candlelight, I can’t even say I knew when the solstice was. But I can say I am growing, I am reflecting. I am becoming Jenny, I’m not a flighty spaced out tranny who is insecure and unsure of herself. I am a magical being who has powers that few can grasp, call me awakened, call me an indigo child, or call me crazy. But I am Jenny and I move worlds, hear me roar.

Thoughts of a Suicidal Person Who is Loved by the World

H: Jennyyyy.
J: Hearrrrt.
H: It’s so good to hear your voice.
J: I know doesn’t just about everyone want to hear my voice at the other end of a phone?
H: [Contemplative pause] I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to hear it.

I’m loved by my friends, I’m loved by acquaintances, I’m loved by total strangers. Not everyone but those people are exceptions. I have fed off this love for so long, I still feed off of this love. I have pointed to it for why not to kill myself countless times. I’ve changed so many people’s lives for the better. Yet this knowledge sometimes leaves me feeling hollow? Why does making someone else feel amazing leave me feeling empty.

When people try to kill themselves there are a few common argument against it. By thinking about how much you have bettered peoples lives. How good of a person you are in the world and how much you are loved and needed by others. And I know I am very loved and feel needed and wanted by lots of folks in my life I’ve changed countless people lives for the better. This knowledge and these feelings has never brought me down from the edge.

The thing that kept me most from the edge is something much different from this. My first time feeling suicidal to the degree of jumping off a building was 2008 and it scared me. After some googling I came to understand that suicidal thoughts are the logical step when you run out of coping mechanisms. Your dog dies, you’re sad but you can handle it. One of your friends stops talking to you, you’re sad but you can handle it. You start feeling isolated from the world, it hurts but you you can handle it. But compound these things and your sad, you’re filled with sadness and you hurt, you can’t handle it, it’s too much. What do you do?

If it’s too much to handle by definition you can’t handle it yourself. You have run out of coping mechanisms you have run out of ways to deal with it. This is when I stand atop a tall building. This is when I look over the edge. I can’t handle the stresses of life, I don’t feel like I belong I don’t feel like it’s going to get better, I don’t think I’m ever going to deal with it, It feels like it’s never going to end and I’m going to feel this forever. That’s why I look over the edge. That’s why I peer down and prepare to jump. I prepare to jump to make it go away. I don’t want to jump now, I didn’t want to jump 7 years ago when I got the closest I’ve ever been. I just wanted to know it was going to all work out, I just wanted all the hurt to go away because I couldn’t deal with it. I just wanted to know if I really needed to I could escape from all of my problems.

If you tell me I’m needed, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I’m loved, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me you love me, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me the world will miss me, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I’m strong, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me to follow my passion, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I was an inspiration, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me it’s all going to be okay, I’d still want to jump. I’m not at the top of a building because I want listen, I’m at the top of a building because I can’t handle what’s going on because it’s too much.

I’m not standing at the edge because my day went well, I’m not standing on the edge because my week went well, I’m not standing on the edge because my life is going well. I’m standing on the edge because I’ve been slowly descending here. Because I’m slowly losing hope, slowly unable to handle my daily stresses. I will look at your messages and they will make me feel better, it’s nice to be needed, loved, and an inspiration, but it doesn’t fix my problems. I feel bad saying this because I know you’re only trying to help, I’m just trying to let you know it’s not going to help, not now, maybe earlier. But don’t worry it’s not your responsibility it’s mine. I feel alone and detached from the world. I’m having a hard time and I’m sure you are having a hard time in your life as well. I wish I could cope with it I wish I had asked for help earlier. It’s too late. I can’t. I need to stand atop a building and look down to make my problems small, smaller than the 8 stories I’m looking down. Small enough so I can step back off this ledge.

This is a story by Jenny where she is speaking more about her feelings historically than about her suicidal feelings currently. When she stood on that ledge and readied herself to jump her problems did get smaller, they did get small enough that she could step back off that ledge. She has since learned how to ask for help a little more and started to learn how to accept help. She is happily seeing a therapist and psychiatrist who are both monitoring her mental health closely.

Also check out this previous post where she talks more about her artwork that addresses this topic.

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”

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.