One persons Courage…

You hear about it in the news, inspirational articles, and in the whispers of people discussing someone’s life. Sometimes you hear it to your face. “You are so courageous.” I have been facing my fears lately and there has been some courage yet, most of what people tell me is courage is merely a will to live. Is the Will to Live what makes us couragous? Does this invalidate courage?

When I hear about someone being courageous, brave, or something along that line the picture in my mind is a bit gender normative and sexist. It’s a brave soldier in a black and white movie with bombs exploding behind him rescuing the little woman and running away from gunfire without breaking a sweat. I am well aware this is a very skewed image that remains in my mind. I use this image to invalidate my own experience often.

How can I be courageous? I just didn’t give up. I didn’t notice it until tonight. Giving the speech about my Thirty Seconds, I was reminded it is courageous to save a life. I found myself afraid of those words. Why fear courage? I think it is the responsibility to be something more than human that the media shows us courage is. Batman is couragous. He’s a super hero. I am just a small and broken woman at the end of her endurance trying to make it through every day.

I am trying to teach myself what courage can be, beyond the black and white John Wayne dreams. I am trying to teach myself that courage is simply living. Transgendered people who have the courage to go through the change, to live in the sex that fits their minds and not their bodies are courageous because it is their will to live. They can die for being who they are.

How terrifying it must be to have to pee in public. How terrifying it must be to go clothes shopping, to go out and feel that fear… what if someone figures out who they are and in their ridiculous hatred they attack? That is courage. It is also horribly sad that we live in a world where it is not a hate crime to attack a trans individual. I didn’t know that until recently, I thought that it was a hate crime. It should be. Living without a legal saftey net, living without basic human respect, and living without the ability to be accepted by any other minority (except for some of us who actually do care) takes courage. There are trans persons who are unable to live as they wish, because it is too dangerous.

It takes courage to live at all. It takes courage for the college student to go to her late night class, because she hears all the warnings about rape. It takes courage for the woman who was date raped to speak up, risking victim blaming and slut shaming. It takes courage for the teen mother to take pride in being a mother, bucking against the stereotypes about teen mothers. It takes courage for the disabled man to go up a flight of stairs on his hands and knees to see if his able bodied friends and family are alright after hearing a gunshot. He couldn’t escape if there was a killer. That is courage.

To revile the word courage is to revile the act of living. It takes courage for our students to go to school. We live in a world where the terror of school shootings is very real, where the hate that a disabled student feels can destroy their minds and their souls. We live in a world where there is no safe haven. It takes courage to raise a child with disabilities and to love them. It takes courage to admit that you are disabled.

It takes courage to say that you do not want to see a movie because it is full of sexism. It takes courage to be a Womanist. It takes courage to be a Feminist. It takes courage to be an advocate. It takes courage to write. It takes courage to cry. It takes courage to go out, knowing discrimination is waiting for you. It takes courage to date a person who is of another color. It takes courage to love someone who is of the same sex.

In a world as full of toxic messages, it is cowardly to defame courage. To hold the power to inspire one person is enough to change the world. To inspire countless thousands? That is a gift unparalleled. Forgive me for feeling that I was unworthy of the word courage.

I have been courageous. I am courageous to write about my time as a Victim. I am courageous to have ideas and to share them. I am courageous to start a business during a Depression.

You are courageous too. I am sure you can list ways you are courageous. I would like the comments on this post to be dedicated to your courage. What have you done that is courageous today?

Today my act of courage is to start planning the wedding ceremony for two young women in love. My acts of courage in life will include officiating their wedding ceremony. I do this with pride, and to honor their love and the courage it takes to stand up and proudly say, “I am Gay, I am Pagan, and I am in Love!”

Thank you for your life. Thank you for your courage.

Agent Double Oh Carrot and M

The internet is great for anonymity. I have several user names out there, including the play on the word Anonymous: Anon the Mouse. Over the years I have picked up friends online. Some people scoff at the notion of friends you have never met in person. I used to think it was silly but I have truly bonded with some of these people. I am also aware of their humanity, the text based nature of the internet can dehumanize, leading to bullying. It can also lead to the shy person, or the person with a speaking related disability, or even muteness communicate with equality.

I have a friend, who we will call M. M gave me permission to write about him. Every day we have conversations that are full of little things from his parents all the way to mine. We talk about everything. M also has helped me stave off starvation, homelessness, and has yet to pester me about the money I owe him. He is one of the people I consider great. Great men do not always lead countries. The last eight years taught most Americans that.

M is an Immigrant. He lives over in LA, and is of Indian descent. His parents left India, went to Canada, and he came here. A very lengthy journey. M is shy, he at times questions why he feels things at all. Some of this is a reflection of the stigmatization by the psychiatry industry to feeling at all. Feelings have been medicalized, diagnosed and it gets harder every year to find anyone who doesn’t qualify based on religion, personal food preference, or how often they sneeze as a headcase. (The term headcase is being used here for shock value, and also to illustrate my lack of belief in the psychiatric system.)

Despite my experiences with therapy and torments, I still see some value in even the conversational aspect, though I am anti medication. Few people actually need antidepressants. Most can make enough progress to no longer need the medicine. M and I discuss these sorts of things. For the last few years, which feel to me like a pleasurable eternity, M has been fighting some painful issues.

Everyone has issues. Everyone needs help sometimes. M is very insecure. Every day he has to fight a malignant thought process, he constantly devalues himself, and he relies on outside influence to determine his self worth. I am not the best friend to have if you are dealing with those issues. I can be rather harsh about things when I disagree, even when I do not mean to be.

His parents raised him with Traditional Indian Values. Often, when he comes to me needing help coping I offer the exploration of why this is a problem. Does this solve the problem? Not always. M sometimes cannot handle the discussions and will tell me so. In our five or six year long friendship we’ve rarely fought, even when we disagree. Our conversations started over something utterly anti feminist, objectification of the body.

That objectification was mutual, and did not last long as we discovered the intellect and wonder that is personality. The internet is great for that, if you use full words. Netspeak annoys me, and M doesn’t use it. If he does, he hasn’t with me. I love him for that.

He recently began therapy, partly because of our conversations. We discussed heavy topics, and after a time I no longer felt it was my business to help him. He needed more than I could offer. He has a great therapist and has begun to grow faster than ever. I watch him change, even if it is merely reflected in our conversations.

Year 1: Conversations centered aruond the superficial, and mutual interests.

Year 2.: The first loan of money to save me from starvation came, still owed to this date. The exploration of psyche began. I turned to him when I learned about my broken back, and he helped me to cope. He helped me to accept the permanence of my disability and never once shamed me. A first. He began to reveal his insecurity with women, his fear of failure, and his pain.

Year 3: We had our first argument. I think it was about Wonder Woman. It was silly. I started to become aware of feminism. M coddled me when I would cry about discrimination, he encouraged me to not give up, and when Sprite nearly died from anaphalactic shock due to her poultry allergy, he did his best to help me pay for her medical bills.

Year 4: I began to write again. We exchanged periods of fearful whimpering, expressing our doubts, fears of judgment, and he revealed an inexperience I had not expected. His issues were effecting his ability to thrive. His past and lack of education on how to cope, his experience as a person of color, and his constant stigmatization based on his body were revealed more fully than even I have managed here, as he tried to figure out how to live. He was being disabled by the confusing messages of the White Patriarch and the painful messages his parents gave that also came from the WP.

Year 5. He began therapy after finding a great doctor. This has encouraged me to try and find a therapist I can trust. (Still looking) Our conversations over the previous year and year 5 evolved rapidly from simple coping skill discussions on to political issues such as Obama’s election, feminist theory, self respect and the influence of where you live on your mind. I discovered Ms Wheelchair USA’s program, and was again encouraged by my friend to enter the competition.

Year 6: We are now in year six, and still we grow. Each day holds new pearls of wisdom, he shapes my future as I shape his just by knowing. He reminds me to try and enjoy the little things, and, often manages to cheer me up even in my bleakest moods. Our future is certain in one way, we are life long friends.

M and I discussed this morning the mistake Obama made, for I discovered it shortly after M’s very own version. We discussed how much ablism runs amok in our world, how it seems so acceptable. Everything can be lame, and if you are offended you are a “tard”.

We discussed the influence of self hatred in his family. Self hatred is something taught in many cultures, especially once the people are conquered. India and their hatred of their own natural colors made me aware of this. I remember sitting in the library, I was very small, and reading about Bollywood. It was newer then, and one actress was being touted for her pale flesh. Confused, I wanted to understand why her being white was more important than her ability to act.

M is Indian. So often our conversations are about body acceptance. He has what I see as an average Indian frame. He is also shaped like my Person. They are both moderately tall, IE average. Both have a good deal of body hair. I find that delicious. Hair should be everywhere. Both have large pectoral muscles. Often the chest of a man, if not flat or followed by a six pack is demeaned, “Oh my gawd he has MAN BOOBS.”

M today related to me tales of being groped because of his chest. He hates himself because the otherness was slammed into his mind again and again. He was assaulted by others in his life, still as an adult this happens, all because his body shape is not flat.

It is times like this, when revelations hit, that I wonder if the media expects us to all become paper dolls, two dimensional cut outs with no personality and the ability to be mass produced. M is my best friend.

Without M, I would never have met my Person. I needed someone like M to come along, to teach me how to trust men. That first year now seems overly long, with conversations that were kept shallow. I was learning to trust. I had never really had the option of trusting someone before M. Everyone else was in my life by the whim of another.

M came along just when I needed him most. I had just broken my back and I was still homeless. He didn’t know that until today,when I asked if I could write this. I am crying when I write again, because I just visualized my world without him.

I would be with the abusive people, trapped alone in my room. I would have no internet, no hope, no Sprite, no wheelchair. I do not think I would be alive. Knowing M opened my life up. He never once did anything to hurt me. When I was afraid, I could turn to him.

I remember the first time I came crying to him. I felt as if I was going to explode. I couldn’t breathe. I was crying and couldn’t stop screaming. I was no longer homeless, but had yet to receive my diagnosis. This was the conversation where I realized he was a friend. I wanted comfort. I wanted someone to trust. I didn’t tell a soul how much I hurt, ever. I told M.

I expected him to tell me how worthless I was for hurting. I expected him to tell me to suck it up. I expected him to tell me how stupid I was for being in pain. Instead he told me this, “It’s okay. You have me and I will be right here. Just cry, do what you have to.” I remember word for word because I held those words in my head and heart for days, I chanted them when each step made me want to puke, I whispered them when I wanted to cry but someone was around. When I cried, those words sometimes made it alright.

I will write about M more often, usually with a tigher focus but first I had to introduce you to him. He is often insecure, he fears being alone, but he never will be. He has me. I love him. He is closer to me than my siblings, he is trusted just as much as my friends who are offline, in some cases more. Without him I would have never let myself date, I never would have found the courage to go back to that first store that discriminated and put them in their place legally. I never felt alone, I knew if I had to vent, cry, or needed a safe space to mourn. I had M.

Every time he comes to me with a bit of pain, I cry for him. Not always literally but I mourn the fact that he hurts. When he forgets to love himself, I do my best to hold up an accurate mirror. M works in the movie industry, he works for a graphics company and they make some of the best modern films happen. He has worked on Batman Movies, he has worked on the Golden Compass. He has dibs on future Academy Awards. M even has movie credits. He fascinates me, he is very unique and I always wish he were here in person.

Even on my bad pain days. M and my Person are the only two in the world I would let see me cry. I hope you find an M. If you have someone like M, then, treasure them. Everyone should be as intelligent, beautiful, and charming as he is. Everyone should be as caring. Everyone should be as willing to learn.

If more people were like M, and many really are a good deal like him, the world would have more equality, more love, and likely no Isms.

Now, just to explain the Agent Double Oh Carrot moniker, that is mine. I play games and one of my online identities is Agent Double Oh Carrot, a rabbit themed super spy. This video is of a 3D program called IMVU (The link is not a referral link, so if you join I get 0 credit. If you are a member feel free to drop me a line, my user name is Anon the Mouse).

I am in the villain’s base, with some of the rabbit themed villains and we are doing the Caramel Dansen. In this game the Villains are turning out to be the good guys.For a HQ variation with some of the same characters, you can check out the video responses.

Emotional Agony

So often, I find myself belittling my emotions. This is another practice from childhood, and it can defeat me. It sets me up for failure, infects my heart with discord, and leaves me acting as an Angry Cripple. It is a challenge to fight the urge to tell myself how little my pain matters.

recently I have been displaying some of the life long bits of my soul here, many of which bear bruises and scars. This is painful. There are over 100 posts that have been written but you will never see, because they hurt too deeply. Some have been rewritten, to remove the deepest secrets, hiding them.

I realize this is not something that is unique to me, and is instead very common especially with Women who have disabilities. A disability is anything that interferes with functions of daily living, and therefore I do count mental health issues as disabilities. Not all disabilities are so severe that you alter your life and build it around them, but, that does not mean your reactions to those “minor” disabilities have any less validity.

I am writing this post, because I have heard five times in the last two days, read it twice, and tried to deny a growing anger that these words cause this lovely statement, “Just looking at you, I realize how little my pain matters.” This is crap. This sort of thinking and self devaluement leads you down the path towards self hatred. Self hatred is usually just a mask for inner pain, layered with anger and other poisons. Stop it.

I know, my body is a very good example of what you do not want to live in. My body is not your body, and although my pain is epic to me, there is someone out there who has it worse. I can name names, I know of faces, and there are people who walk, that still have it worse than I do. My pain is equal to yours, not less, not more. Equality in Pain is a concept that I learned about when I met a girl in the mental health ward. I was actually addressing the issues of my sexual abuse, and, she tried to empathize, revealing why she was there.

To me, the reason, not revealed because of confidentiality and respect of this person, is small. It is insignificant in my estimation of abuse. To her, it was earth shattering. Her world exploded. It took me a lot longer than my stay in that facility to understand the concept offered there. What we experience shapes our views. I cannot show you what I see, but I can try and paint a picture for you.

There is no reason to compare experience. Identical Twins rarely share the same outlook in life, every person is as unique as a snowflake or a butterfly. None are identical, despite outward appearance. It is rude to devalue them or yourself based on your own experience. This brings us of course to racism, ableism, and sexism.

When you say that racism does not exist, it is not truth. It is perspective. You deny someone else’s experience and that wounds you both. You might not understand their anger at your words, and they might lose respect for you. They may not understand too a lack of experience. This does not justify your denial of racism, but, the caveat is that you can learn from the responses to such statements.

Equality is in my estimation impossible. I am an idealist however, and fight for the ideal. Someday, I might just be proven wrong. I do not remember the author though I think it was Vonnegut, but I once read a science fiction story where everyone was made equal by devices that made everyone see, hear, and think at equal levels. They even ate the same food, very bland, all people were the same. This world was horrible, everyone was in pain, tormented, and unable to function.

This was normal for those characters, until one could not be contained. He was above average, so far so that the devices could not contain him. He became violent, lashing out to try and wake the people up. It did not end well. I think of this story often when I forget why people are different.

I do not want to be just like you, and you definately do not want to be made physically equal to me. I would not wish this body on anyone. I also wouldn’t trade it for yours. I couldn’t function with another body or mind, this is what I know. Your pain is pain. Your anger is valid. Your tears, your joys, all of them have as much importance as mine.

I have said this outloud to people, before. Trying to make them stop. Sometimes people devalue their pain in an attempt to pity me. I need no pity. I am a brilliant star burning in the sky, and I know it. No person needs pity. Those who pity are merely blind to the simple fact that everyone is valid, necessary, and capable of something important.

Before you protest, stating that people with cognitive disorders cannot be productive in society, let me correct you. Autism counts as a cognitive disorder, though, it makes my world absolutely brilliant and colorful. I couldn’t trade up, just down. Downs Syndrome doesn’t make a person invalid. Every person with Downs I have met experiences more joy than I can comprehend. You point out that those in vegetative states do not add anything, and, I say bunk. What they did before their brains were injured counts. Every living person has a right to fair treatment, health care, and love.

Emotional equality too, prevents the need to debase someone, to be better than they are. It merely exists, as we do. I exist. You have the right to exist. I am angry for those who cannot see it. I mourn, for this knowlege is powerfully freeing. I dance with butterflies, I sing with the birds, I exist merely as I am and can be nothing else.

You are valid. Go love yourself.

Racism and Comics

I see it everywhere now, White Privilege. Comic books are extremely guilty of demonizing women and people of color. The Golden Age of Comics, overlapping the Second World War, had a bevy of white heroes. I cannot name any non white heroes off the top of my head, and the only female for those early years is of course the example of perfection and bondage, Wonder Woman.

I picked up a title without seeing the cover, I do this often, and I thought I had picked up another chapter of the Captain Marvel series with DC comics. Instead, I had picked up the Blue Marvel with Marvel comics. This short series deals with Jim Crow laws, racism, and the fears of white people. It does not justify for them, and although there are serious flaws, denials of privilege are actually addressed.

The Legend of the Blue Marvel introduces a super hero who uses Anti-Matter as the base of his power source, he is shadowed with a white man who was his friend, and becomes insane after gaining the same power, he wants equality so badly and cannot handle or cope with the challenges he sees his friend face. He decides genocide is the answer.

Genocide and Eugenics are a common theme in Marvel comics, the Xmen race allegory is even used just as that, with a pointed tip stabbing into the reader’s mind. The art is also beautiful. The Demonization of characters is given with an almost heavy hand to the white people, yet only as much as was with in the realm of reality. The Government commits shadowy acts, crimes against the Blue Marvel, out of fear of his skin color.

The comic spans time from the Sixties up until our current time, it references cultural change, and leaves a gaping awareness too in the change that is still needed. I was surprised with this title, and finished the five chapter series rapidly. The ending too leaves room for the Blue Marvel to either obtain his own Book or to return.

Rarely are guest characters in comics so well rounded, so human, and yet so superbly granted power. The most powerful man in the Marvel Verse is a man who was not born white. I see this as a huge change. Comic books are almost 100 years old, and although they have been wonderful additions to my life courtesy of my Sensei, there has been a lack in them.

I noticed it as a child, and even asked my Sensei why the men who looked kind of like him were always scary in the stories. He explained to me the concept of hate in a new way. “Sometimes, Little Lotus, people are afraid of difference. Difference is not bad, and hating it is. You must fight against being taught that I am bad because my eyes do not appear the same as yours. The world is a very bad place, but it is harder for those not born with white skin.”

Years later, I still grapple with the concepts that he taught me. I found out his name today. My mother was hospitalized for Pnumonia, and she will be fine, but going to visit her we began to talk. None of the topics were light, however, I learned that my Sensei’s name was Ben Chang. A part of me mourns that his name is Americanized, yet, I also understand the quest for acceptance in a country that is boiling with racism.

Comic books, just as the real world, have a long way to go. Change always needed, yet, now they are trying. The writers of The Blue Marvel Miniseries, Kevin Grevioux, has written many things I have read. I enjoyed Underworld, which too inspected race relations. He is an actor, and has even worked as a stunt man. I would expect that his personal relationship with prejudice, something he was born into by not being given white privilege, has inspired some of his amazing writing.

I am not certain how old the comic is, my copy has no dates on it, but it is also altered to help me surmount my visual disability. I will write more about that soon. Find a copy. I hope that the people at Marvel Comics put this out as a Trade Paperback soon. This creation is one of the best that has come under their umbrella since the inception of the company. Who knows, maybe they will  steal some of my loyalty from DC if they keep learning, educating, and of course the undeniable quality.

The Rape of Innocence (Trigger Warning)

Literal. I lost my innocence, as defined as physical virginity to my father. It was rape. It was never consensual. Incest is bad. Typing these words is extremely difficult but my day has already been one full of tears, therefore, I am going to go with it. His excuse for rape, his reasoning that made it A-Okay to violate, subjugate, and to hurt me sexually was this. “You look just like my mother.” I was four years old. Today I was triggered. This isn’t an easy thing to admit, and I feel uneasy each time I come across things that remind me of him, and at times my PTSD is triggered by a harmful thing. Today I was already in a bad way due to pain, some of it is residual effects of my abusive childhood.

Some of it comes from feeling violated at having to see another doctor, since my service animal makes me unworthy of another. Some of it comes from this post on Feministing.com. I do not care that this game came from Japan originally. That does not make it better. I do not care that their society has a history of subjugating women, so surely all of their rape fetish bull is perfectly acceptable. Not to me. I want to reach out to the women of the world, for an uprising. It is in this moment that I state I am a feminist, in the definition that states I am pro women’s rights and equality, I am pro disabled equality, and I am pro mental health equality. I want to be healthy, I do not want to feel the edges of Victim burning at me again and again when I skim the internet, go outside, or even sometimes when I try and think of a happy moment. It is always there.

I am not the cause of my own rape. How can I be at fault for it? Yet games like this propagate the victim is at fault mentality. I remember when I turned my neighbor in. He was molesting me during the same period when my father decided to rape his mother allegory. I remember being asked by the prosecutor, at the age of five, if I wore short skirts to turn boys on. I didn’t even know what that meant. I remember, however, the after effects. I rejected my body, myself, and I tried to become a boy.

This attempt at maleness included trying to cut off my breasts when I was thirteen, shaving my head repeatedly (and discovering that my head is very lumpy) as well as rejecting my identity. I could not be Rebekah. I had to change my name. I did, as an adult. I found a name that fill sme with the sensation of security, health, and the desire to be happy. I do not cringe when I hear my name anymore. I never out grew the after effects of being raped. I was repeatedly assaulted through my life, and this was also used to overshadow real medical problems.

When I was eight years old my mother and father sent me away for hypochondria and Bulimia. It took adult hood to realize I never was bulimic. I also have a great deal wrong with me, and none of it is in my head, except what neglect and trauma put there.  All of my current illhealth cannot be attributed to the childhood neglect, but, a majority can. I am an advocate for anyone who needs it because there is so much to choose from. How do I choose between mothers and their need for proper nutrition, childhood health awareness, Celiac Awareness, Rape is Bad Mkay awareness, and the awareness that as a wheelchair user I need a door that is wide enough for me to not scrape through.

I am in tears today from pain, physical and emotional.  I am a woman. I am 24 years ago and it has been 11 years since my father last raped me. I have since seen him and he cowers with fear, he actually pissed himself when he saw me using a walker and fled in terror. I am not someone who causes fear but, I am a survivor. I was a victim and when I tried to say something, when I found out I should, I was denied that right. The district attorney felt that my case was not compelling enough because I was a mere child and had been sent away by my rapist for not being exactly what he wanted. I was denied justice, and I know my assailant is out there.

Knowing he is afraid of me doesn’t take away from being afraid of him. It does not take away from the sensation of the little hope I had being crushed because I wasn’t worthy of the time to take a bad guy off the streets. It doesn’t make it alright.

I hope whoever reads this finds either peace, awareness, and the understanding that if they themselves are a survivor of rape, abuse, or anything at all, that they are worthy. I understand as an adult why so few women report rape, when it is always the Victim’s fault. Eventually I will write more on my experiences with the mental health system as a child. I will write about my diagnosises, and the secrets that I am not sure my biological mother wants shared online. Someday she will google me and will discover that I am not the all accepting child she still perceives me as. I do not take the burdens she places upon me. I leave them behind.

I was about to submit this when I came across this in the comments on Feministing.com, another link. Amazon pulled the english version of the game, though it is still availible elsewhere. I am shaking with relief and rage. How do we protect our children when things like this pervade? What is to stop this from normalizing rape in our world? It might. It might not.

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