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. Becca, 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 Becca’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 Becca. 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.

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.”

What About The World? 2016.1

Here is my first mix of the year! I had a lot of free time, listened to a lot of music and popped this out a little earlier than I had hoped. In the last mix stated I am who I am, so the next obvious question in my mind was well what about the world? This mix answers that question, promptly.

1. Worst Behavior – Drake

Memory: Saturday is a hard day to motivate myself to do much of anything. I spent the last few Saturdays trying to go shopping before having panic attacks. Today is much the same. I feel the world crushing me, hating me, gawking at me so I don’t leave the house. Finally I realize I need to get out and go somewhere. I get dressed up all fancy, I put on Spaced’s green dress, a brown skirt over top, and knee high tan boots on. I get in the car and drive to REI listening to this song on repeat screaming, “Mother fuckers never loved us.” My hatred of “normal” people is overwhelming, I guess you could call this confidence but it felt more like hate. Either way I strutted my stuff and loved myself despite the world. And I am reminded of Kendrick Lamar when he sings, “I know you hate me just as much as you hate yourself.”

And in another positive note after realizing how defeated I often feel I did one of my rituals. Get all prettied up and go shopping. A big "fuck you" to the society that gawks at me.

And in another positive note after realizing how defeated I often feel I did one of my rituals. Get all prettied up and go shopping. A big “fuck you” to the society that gawks at me.

2. Tell Your Friends – The Weeknd

This guy is a dickhead, but he hates everyone and does whatever the fuck he wants. I like his style. Fuck everybody and go ahead and tell your friends about it. I’ve cared too much about what other people think about me.

“I do shit like I want, don’t need no blessing”

3. Hold On, We’re Going Home – Drake

Thanks for calming me down there Drake, I was getting pretty revved up. I listened to this guy for a good while, I would’ve put the song Hotline Bling, or Energy, or Started from the Bottom but this one caught me the most.

4. Borders – M.I.A.

M.I.A. challenging us on all of our shit. Ask yourself, “What’s up with that?” The video features Syrian Refugees and is stunning to watch.

5. How Much A Dollar Cost – Kendrick Lamar

Memory: Walking home with my longboard on New Years Day I’m feeling this song, I’m singing this song on repeat. Then someone yells, “Walk of shame baby!” I uncontrollably turn towards his direction and have a strong middle finger pointed his general direction. This only increases my passion in singing. And it reminds me,

“You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehova, the higher power
The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit, the nerve
Of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God”

All the freaks, the queers the homeless people are god. You shit on me and you are costing yourself a spot in heaven. Embrace your loss, I am god.

6. Black Me Out – Against Me!

Memory: I’m on a long overdue backpacking trip. It’s been months since I’ve gone and I’m feeling super anxious and struggling hardcore with depression. I wake up on the first morning, make my breakfast, struggle to eat it and then I lay my body on my knees. I feel a 400 pound weight on my back. I can’t move I can’t do anything even though I’m in the beauty of nature. Eventually I find the energy in me to go back to bed. I’m laying on my sleeping pad trying to find the motivation to wake up and it’s just not there. I turn on my phone and since I’m way to close to Johnstown I have service so I peruse instagram. Then I text Morty lamenting the situation I’m in. Finally I put on some music in hopes that will stir me. Two sam raging arongs later I ound the camp site screaming this song. My depression has turned to pure hatred and I’m so pissed off. I dance through the campsite to this song a few times before getting on my way. I’m depressed, but I admit it, I’m pissed off but I felt it.

7. Tellin’ The Mind – Delta Spirit

I love this guys. I spent some time going through all of my mixed cds and making sure I had a backup of them and I realized just how many songs by them I had on various cds. That’s when I finally acknowledged that I really like them as a band, and I feel glad that I didn’t brush them off as Christian Hipsters as Mustache did before he deleted them from his computer.

Memory: Standing on the balcony of Union Transfer I looked out on the band. This was my first real concert, this was my first time getting out like this and having a good time in a while. I’m standing next to a new friend of mine and I’m so happy she invited me, I’m so happy to be living again and being happy. I felt lost in Philly post “divorce” but now I’ve found friends and some happiness.

8. Scott Get the Van I’m Moving – Cayetana

These ladies rock. I listed to them a lot when making art, and even made art specifically based on their music. This song in particular sticks in my head because I made a piece of art for Cha’s going away present to this album. I showed her it as it was dripping and played her this album. A bunch of others enjoyed it as it finished dripping and then this song played. Someone pointed out that this is the perfect song, and it was.

DSC_0080

9. Your Lips Are Red – St. Vincent

This song takes me over. I can feel myself shaking right now to this song. I can see my mental state quickly changing as I navigate through Giant Eagle to this song. Suddenly everything is much more harsh, I feel obstinate towards the world. But then I remember, “your skins so fair it’s not fair, your skins so fair.” And I calm down. Also important to note this is the song that helped me finish the piece called, “Suicide Note” featured in the last post.

10. “Heroes” – David Bowie

This song is significant in two ways. This song is the song that Charlie, Patrick and Sam listen to when going through Fort Pitt Tunnel going into the city. Sam is standing up with her arms out stretched and Charlie says, “I feel infinite.” I watched that movie this month, as a freshman in college I read the book 6 times. I related a lot to Charlie with my friends who were seniors, having been friends with druggies but not doing drugs, but I had forgotten he was molested. I watched the movie and cried through the whole thing. I found myself realizing what I had yet to face. I was distraught and found myself obsessing over the movie for the rest of the day until. Spaced talked to me that night and I slept on her couch. It was a hard day but I got it out. (And yes, that day I drove through the Fort Pitt Tunnel with this song blaring)

The second memory is to a different version of this song, it’s the Philip Glass Remix that is excellent. In it I’m a junior in college and I’m with Smiles, one of the two people I’m seeing. I introduce this song to her and dance and sing along while it is playing. I’m having the time of my life, I’m immersed in this song. I point out the lyrics, “Nothing will keep us together,” because it makes me feel free and amazing it also speaks to the nature of our relationship. “We can be us just for one day”

11. Later – Dr. Dog

This song feels like Philadelphia. It feels like the Schuylkill River bike path. It feels like wandering the streets in Philadelphia. It feels like Smiles. Reminds me of the pushover I was and still am, cause “I’ll sit around and wait for you, I guess I really will, sit around and wait for you.”

“It never works, you said you’ll call me later
And then you never ever do
I just can’t sit around and wait
Can’t sit around and wait for you
Now I’ll just have another cup of coffee
I’ll sit around and wait for you”

12. 8 Good Reasons – Sinéad O’Connor

Memory: I am having a difficult night and having trouble getting to sleep. I am distracting myself on the internet when I stumbled upon the news that Sinéad had tried to kill herself. She left a message on facebook saying she was going to do it and she was found in time to save her life. Then I felt compelled to listen to her most recent album and found this song. It hurts every time I listen to this song I can’t help but think about how she tried to kill herself, it puts this whole song in a much different light.

13. Asleep – The Smiths

This song is from the Perks of Being A Wallflower. I could never listen to it before because it was too sad. But once watching the movie I found it irresistible.

Memory: I have just watched the Perks of Being a Wallflower and I’m balling, it was hard, it hurt. I’m driving around town and I am listening to this song on repeat. It’s funny because at first I don’t realize that it’s a suicide note of a song at first. The song makes me sad, but it more calms me down and becomes ambient music in the background. It’s a soothing song, a song I listen to when I can’t get to sleep, a song I cry softly to.

14. Wild – Beach House

This song is the perfect picker upper after Asleep. I spent days listening to this album and this song soothes me into a dance turning around my downer mood to a content one.

15. Amor Fati – Washed Out

And finally a equally soothing even more upbeat song to get you on your way.

Suicide is it Just a Coping Mechanism?

Suicidal thoughts, I’ve been plagued by them for years. I first felt them in 2008, my sophomore year of college, since then they have become a regular part of my life. The idea of not having suicidal thoughts is unfathomable, I mean what thoughts do you have when you’re really stressed? But after staring them down via art I’ve realized how hollow they are, how they are just decoys to distract me from the real fears I have. This had left me feeling relieved and light but with the knowledge that now I have the real boss ahead to fight.

The piece that helped me explore suicide is called, “Suicide Note.” It’s text in the shape of a building, on the right side it says, “Jump to freedom.” and the left side has a story about the time I got closest to actually jumping off. Finishing the piece was very difficult, I got half way through my first attempt with the help of whiskey and then didn’t touch it for a month before starting over. During the second attempt I took my time, I carefully drew the outline, I slowly wrote the text, taking breaks to distract myself from the theme I was staring at. The story I wrote is an embellished version of a flashback I wrote in my journal in 2012 to a time I realized I actually wanted to jump off a parking garage. Prior to that I would simply go to the top of parking garages and look down and everything would become real, this time the idea of jumping is what became the most real.

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If you click on the picture and then on the next page click again it again you should be able to actually read the story.

The story at first argues that my suicidal thoughts were just a coping mechanism, but then it ends with the time I scared myself by actually wanting to jump. I showed it to Spaced and she liked it a lot, though she disagreed with my conclusion. She pointed out that my fear of jumping made it clear that I didn’t want to do it, that from her vantage point this was also coping. I had just needed a even more real coping mechanism than simply staring over the edge and having my fear of heights kick in. I needed to actually hold my life in my hands because when you are feeling completely powerless what act is more powerful than saying to yourself, “I have control over something, I can take my life.” I wasn’t ready to delve into these thoughts at the time, I was crying out the reality that I just stared suicide in the face and I think I won.

Since then I have started having self-harm thoughts, when I get overwhelmed my mind goes to cutting myself and how scary that is. It was really not good after I watched the Perks of Being a Wallflower. I loved the book in freshman year of college and read it at least 6 times. I related a lot to Charlie and being a wallflower, but I forgot the major theme of the book he is realizing he was molested as a kid. This was very triggering and I spent the whole movie crying and then immersed myself in the movie culture afterwards: driving through the tunnel he drove through (it’s filmed in Pittsburgh), rereading the book, listening to the music from the movie on repeat (namely Asleep by the Smiths), and thinking about cutting myself. I talked to Spaced that night and she said I give this stuff too much power, suicide, cutting, n’at.

She’s right, I do. I do it because my mind finds those things and freaks out about me possibly cutting myself or jumping off a building instead of what I’m really worried about, essentially it’s misplaced fear. So I looked straight at thoughts of cutting myself and realized how hollow they are, suicidal thoughts held weight, I’ve had those for years and needed to work through them but cutting myself was completely hollow, it was a substitute for suicide but without the personal connection. Then I looked and it was glaringly obvious what I was afraid of. I sighed and admitted that I still haven’t accepted that I was molested by Diane, it fucks with me too much, it wrecks my history and takes away too much from me. I know it happened I know it’s true I believe it, but I haven’t accepted what that means.

That’s my current journey, no more distractions, no more getting caught up in worrying about killing myself or cutting myself. I’m not actually scared of doing either and I have a support network that is fucking amazing, both in Pittsburgh and beyond to support me in actually dealing with my shit. Knowing and embracing the fact that I was molested, possibly for several years, that’s scary, but it’s something I can handle. Remembering that I just got past suicidal thoughts that have haunted me for years, that’s a good feeling. That’s just the momentum I need to take on my next challenge.

So happy to have grown so far and to be strong and ready to grow more. I must pause and be humbled by my support network and by my progress. Looking back I am reminded that 2015 was the best year I’ve lived, and 2016 is looking like it’s going to be so liberating.