Christmas Murder: A Family Tradition (Trigger Warning)

I wanted to write something cheery, about how good I am doing. I really am doing well. I am going to a friend’s for Christmas, and while i am not religious and they are, they respect this and its about communing and being together, unlike most of the other invites I have had. The things to give people and kitties is in a stack taller than my tree, with some bits on the couch since I just ran out of room. I am still fighting the endless battle of finding a caregiver agency that doesn’t remove the caregivers I get along with, because we get along but I am not grasping by a single thread and falling down a cavern of despair and fear. I am still okay.

I wanted to write about the Iraq war being over, and how apathetic I feel about this and the whys. The too little too lateness, the fact that just because we decided oh hey we’re done doesn’t negate the consequences, the disabled veterans who are now going to be struggling. I wanted to. I only have one article’s worth of energy tonight, and the others may happen later but this article demands my attention. You see I just had a serious flash back because I was skimming the news and I ran into my first murdered child holiday story this year. I had managed to dance around them for a lot longer than normal.

I am not certain if the effect on me was so much stronger than normal because I am doing well and my brain could focus, because the snow outside in the second obnoxiously white blizzard has me aching and everything already felt a bit raw, or if it is because I got a package from my mother today and it contained not only presents that she clearly put thought into and that I liked but some Xrays of my neck when it was broken the one time this hit as an adult. Not snapped but cracks in the bones show up. In my gift box. That this is the only abjectly weird thing in there actually impresses me, but with Grandma changing her number to get around the call block, texting daily despite my lack of reply (even telling her to stop fails), or any other confluence of events this link which comes with a serious PTSD warning made my brain go off into the dark spaces.

My mind whirled through every holiday where I expected to die. That means twenty five years of expecting to die. My wedding, with my sister and her lovely poison muffins which were so very nasty no one even pretended interest, every beating, each time my mother just went to bed, each time I was afraid because I just wasn’t ever good enough for these MONSTERS. My family. My serial killer father. My molester older brother who still whines about how I didn’t let him abuse me. My older sister who decided that its my fault she threatened my life, technically kidnapped me and crashed the car. These WONDERFUL (that is sarcasm) people? Each time they threatened me was right there.

The time my father murdered me for Thanksgiving was right there. The reasons I began to question religion. Right there. In the name of holiday statistics, people die. The part that really hit me was, this will be amplified in a year because of all of the people too blatantly stupid to use their critical thinking skills. The world really does end 12-21-2012 because of all of the people who will murder in the name of apocalypse. We see this with every cult, every Harold Camping, and every other failed prediction. Every single one has huge points of logic, like the Mayan calendars not being prophetic, but people still buy in to this garbage. Same as with their gods. There are reasons to question faith always and by refusing to do so, they demean their religious choices.

I am totally okay with people believing in whatever, so long as it isn’t just because they were told this is their option and never considered asking why. I am okay with people believing in the end of the world as long as its not an excuse for murder. Someday the sun is going to explode and incinerate people. In a billion more years. This is a scientific fact. So someday there will be an apocalypse. In that eventuality we can always hope that there will be a single child launched in a space ship to a distant habitable planet with a yellow sun, and he shall rise up to become Superman. Until then, every year, ever holiday, and every fauxpocalypse people get murdered because someone just needed an excuse.

I do not believe in crimes of passion. I do believe in self defense. If someone dies because they tried to hurt me, that’s cool. Means a threat is eliminated. It means that I will also be horrified to feel blood on my hands again. I will question everything in my life. I will cry. I will scream. I will thrash against it. I will also have survived. Too often in these Holiday Murder stories there is a component of pity offered for the murderer. Just as there is in any murder of the disabled or elderly. It is as if by putting Christmas lights on the murderer they become somehow pitiable more so this time of year. That woman murdered her child and her father. There does not need to be a why. She killed herself. Obviously there was some sort of problem. Its not okay to use that problem as an excuse for why she murdered the child.

It isn’t okay either for people to presume that the Autistic person at their holiday gathering who is withdrawing out of a desperate need to escape sensory overload just needs to stop ruining the holiday gathering, because of course a melt down is so much FUN for us Autists. We really want to be in so much agony that all we can do is scream and cry. Every autistic person who melts down, I fear will die. I fear it.

I see the traditional tree, the gleaming ornaments, and I feel fear. The gothmas tree being black and decked out with my own brand of decoration isn’t just because Black Trees are prettiest to me, and silvery black ornaments look cool on them. It is because I wanted decorations that didn’t leave me with vague sensations of fear. So I modified my tree to suit my needs. The need to not wonder in the slightly stuck in PTSD mode by the omnipresent holiday if mommy or daddy is going to love me this year. If I am the only one who hears rape in the song “Baby it’s cold outside”, if I am so evil because I think hitting is bad. I regress I suppose to the small child who was hungry, desperate, my entire childhood was one big act of desperation, and wondering if I am expendable enough and which of the adults in my life, and as I got older my siblings, was going to be the one to kill me.

My mother was the only one who never said “I will kill you” with words. She still said it with her actions. Choosing my step father over me. She loved him more than me, and warehousing me was more convenient than murder. I got lucky. If they’d thought about it and figured out that at that point no one would’ve even noticed if I was missing, I think I would be dead. My mother may not have had the stomach for it but the rapist she married surely did.

In this moment I recognize why I have eschewed the holidays even with friends for the most part. The family traditions my family has end badly. They end in bloodshed, violence and tears. I cannot stop crying as I write this because I know each keystroke is another child somewhere in this world who is living as I did, or dying as I thought I would. My choice to believe in Santa was a conscious one. I always knew he was fictional but I wanted to believe in the goodness that he represented. I wanted to believe that there was someone somewhere who brought pleasant things. I wanted to not spend my holidays afraid for my life, or any other day. That is what the holidays are to so many people, and myself.

The holidays mean family and togetherness. Family and togetherness mean being tied up in a closet, lying awake at night waiting for one of the adults to get mad and demand the ritual beating. I mean literally the ritualized holiday beating. You knew it would come, the question was not a matter of that but if you would survive. Then you had to endure pretending nothing was wrong while making offerings to the parents, and hoping they were good enough. In my case there were offerings to the people around me for a lot longer. This is why I only buy Christmas gifts for people I want to. There is no obligation now, to survival by having managed a nice enough present. I reclaimed gift giving into something of joy.

Yet I cannot reclaim that little girl, who suffered. I cannot give her grandfather back his last moments and make them pain free, horror free. I cannot give voice to every child who is being abused in some way right now. The amount of violence and hatred that spirals up during the holidays, isn’t because of alcohol. That is an excuse that enables domestic and other forms of violence. It is because we all take time off to be together. This means the victims have no out of the house refuge from their abusers, and a smart abuser uses this to their advantage.

There is no excuse for the Family Traditions I have. There is no excuse at all. I look over to my Gothmas lanterns, my tree, and it still makes me happy, its a creative outlet after all. Nonstandard tree means a lot of customization. I look back in time and remember praying I wouldn’t drop the ornaments as we pretended to be a happy family, praying I didn’t bunch them wrong, praying I did the tinsel right. Praying that this year, God wouldn’t tell my father that I was evil. Praying that this year my mother would let me come home and that I would feel like I belonged. Praying that when people showed up to visit, or claimed to, they either would show up and if they did would not act in a way that hurt me. Praying.

I only miss prayer when I have no power to at least reach out to someone and gift them with my understanding, with the knowledge they are not alone in their suffering.

With the article I linked, I cannot overlook the clear premeditation. The gun she obtained without record of obtaining it. The sending her husband away. Did she just love him more or was it less? It was one or the other. The fact she chose the basement, which would’ve muffled the sounds.

This is the holiday season. Readers, if you are feeling depressed, please remember you can always write me. I may not write back immediately but I will try to. you don’t have to be alone. YOu can also find your local crisis line, and anonymously vent.

If you are an autist, advocate for your need for quiet. Even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for an hour, take the time you NEED to get away from the overload.

If you are alone, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Go help the people who have less than you do, because you can.

If none of that applies, or if all of it does, make a new holiday tradition this year. Do something to either reclaim your holiday from similar circumstance or to share love and joy in new ways. WHile the holidays are arbitrary the need for human companionship, comfort, and to celebrate is not. These are important things and should be done without violence or fear.

You aren’t alone, I am with you and you are with me by the simple act of living. We are alive, and that means you are my new family. Happy Holidays if you celebrate them, and if not, stay warm this winter, enjoy the light displays with their pagan roots and remember the primal need for companionship winter brings out is normal.

The Losers Movie Review

The Losers Review (Spoilers after the jump)

The Cast of the Losers Zoey Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaeneda

Right, first off I don’t think I can review this movie without some Spoilers. Flat out though, I am trying to do this without comparing it to the comic. Over all it was easy since it’s been forever since I watched the film.

This movie has a strong opening, it gets you emotionally invested quickly. You also get a feel for about how gimmicky this film is going to be. I want to say this movie has a bit of Rambo, Die Hard, and Iron Man mixed in. (Just a hint on the tech for Iron Man).

The cast is strong, though I have some concerns about the health of the females involved. I don’t think anyone should ever be so thin that their ribs show and Zoey Saldana appears to be being effected by the unattainable perfection of Hollywood. I don’t know if any woman could work in the Industry without the pressures, since I felt them when I tried. That said she acts rather well, and is mostly believable though her character is written most transparently and is a token female.

This movie tries to be edgy but falls mostly into the realm of clichés. These clichés involve a villain with scarring, a black villain/traitor with scarring, tokenism with women, fat bashing, a hint of homophobia though far less than I expected for a movie, and then every action cliché I can think of from explosions to running around with guns held awkwardly.

One issue on the suspension of disbelief for me is running and climbing with bullets in you. Shock happens even to the well-trained. One actor handled the acting of being shot better than the other. I won’t say which because I don’t want to give away everything in this movie. Neither did a superb job.

There were some great one liners in the film but they did not detract from some pretty tight writing. The ending had some issues, though not as many as a non comic book movie. I think that this is a pretty good film. I didn’t feel it wasted my time.

I just wish that there was more creativity. My favorite scene in the comic book was filmed to perfection yet I was busy being distracted by counting the ways that the writers and film makers are disconnecting their audience via cliches and isms. Though this film had a large cast of people of color, all but one and a half of them were VILLAINS. There was also a large need for white man to rescue brown people.

Another white hero. Yawn. The villain with the scarring also is an openly misogynistic (censored) who manages to fat bash, abuse women with non challance that is never addressed, and his many evils are so blatant that they include racism and disablism. He goes out of his way to make everyone around him feel like shit. This may be great for a villain but I felt it was heavy-handed and again it made me uncomfortable about watching this film.
Spoilers begin here:
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The Institute and the Adult (Trigger Warning)

I just wanted it to be in my head. I realized after losing a caregiver because the caregiver broke down mentally that I wanted the problem to be me. I was crying, struggling with the feelings that come with being vulnerable and endangered, struggling to get food, and the pain that comes with moving my body in ways it cannot really handle. I wanted it to be in my head.

If all the problems were in my head and were not real my life could be as it once was. For a moment I had everything, I had love, happiness, my health was improving for the first time and then… it was snatched away. I was starting to feel whole again. Then, I was snatched once more back from the brink of success. Even personally success in this world is a struggle for most people. The minority that masquerades as a majority has made it this way. I just wanted to go back to that place, I imagined it all.

Some of this comes from how much easier it seemed on the surface when all my disabilities were fragments of my mind, that nothing was really wrong with me. I just had to stop making it up. I just had to get a better grasp on reality. As I think in music and color rather than words, the thoughts surrounding that are truly discordant violin notes, the colors brackish. It’s a sensation of mocking. That life was a mockery of life. I was ill, and as long as it was in my head there was no hope of recovery.

If the issues with a caregiver turning violent were just in my head, then, I would still be in danger. That urge to put it all in a neat little package is dangerous. It’s a form of denial, though this denial is socially acceptable. It stems from my being medicalized at a young age. Nothing can just be, it must either have a cure or be a figment of my deluded little mind. Delusion can be comforting. Delusion means that there is nothing I can do about it but stop thinking. Reality requires action.

I am tired of action! I am still haunted by the sensations of my day. That prickling fear as I heard the first crash. I let it go on for a half an hour before I confirmed it. I let myself think it was just me being “jumpy.” Jumpy is code for triggered. I couldn’t ignore it when Sprite began to scream. Sprite, even when she signals things to me is a very quite service cat. She tends to use her paws and a soft flittery meow or a purr instead of a yowl. She yowled. The sounds in the other room were growing louder.

I had to choose. Do I risk my safety and my service animal’s saftey in order to retain this idea that every time I am afraid I am just being delusional? How many times did I do that with my ex-husband before I accepted that he was hurting me? I can’t be sure. However, today I didn’t let it get past once. I had to give up my delusions. I chose life.

Life is never easy. I suspect the main reason that the temporarily able bodied among us want our lives to be inspiring is they cannot concieve of happiness with a disability, as most of them are not happy. They spend their existance toiling for the gain of others. This is less so in countries outside of the US but, it is still a blatant reality. Some of these persons may also be in that same delusion about their ability, or other issues such as sexuality and gender. They waste their reality on delusion.

Since I became aware that therapists are not all knowing, and that my Mother has been desperatly wrong, I have faced delusion many times. Still it can over ride my own instinct to surive. I sit here in a room with the acrid odor of cleaning products, something that is avoided when they are used properly. The antisceptic odor makes me feel almost as if the institution is right there. That is the entire core of it.

If the issue is in my head, then I am outwardly safe. If it is in my head I can handle it. I can control it. If it is real, and no one believes me, I am at risk of being locked up. The core of my terror in speaking out today was in losing my freedoms, because a caregiver has more power than I do. After the agency head Robert spoke with my now ex caregiver today, he confirmed that she admitted she was over reacting to the situation. I don’t know what her future holds, but, I worry for her. I worry too, for anyone in danger that will stay there for fear of the instutition.

Some of the people who come across these words will state, “It can’t be that bad.” I still have nightmares, usually around the times when I have to fight the hardest for my right to merely breathe about the institutions. The place I was was actually not that bad compaired to many. Still all the labels thrown at me, the drugs that made my brain numb and my body bleed? Those were terrifying too. The threats that I would have electroshock therapy used on me if I didn’t behave a bit better. The behaviors that they threatened? Those all consisted of things like avoiding things that made my stomach hurt at lunch, having trouble sleeping, and having nightmares.

Some of the staff were wonderful. I remember their faces in flashes, and the comfort they brought. I remember the coldness of the beds, the tiny windows with bars, and the high fences where the only bit of reality I could see was the top of the bank building where my Aunt worked as a lawyer’s assistant. I remember more the cold showers, being watched. Not being allowed to pee without being watched. I remember the male staff with those. It was never female staff.

I remember the mean staff the most. I had to think hard to survive around them. Some locked me in isolation for tripping. Some punished me for not knowing a new rule that no one had bothered to announce. One in particular made fun of me for gaining weight when I started to eat again, after being a small child with an eating disorder. I managed to conform so they wouldn’t drug me by force. I took all the pills, even the ones that made me sick and lose time. I did my best.

I remember each tour of every facility. Once my mother was gone we got a second tour. We were shown the isolation room, the one with the bed and straps. We were shown their needles. We were told added rules. There of course are always the secrets and ways that a kind person in there may share on how to survive. Each place had it’s special etiquette. Yet always, in each one I was watched while bathing.

There was the one place that is technically an institution that I do not count as such. This is the only place that helped me. The difference there is I wasn’t treated like a waste of flesh but I was a person with needs, responsibilities, and the ability to help someone else.

It is thoughts of the institutions that hurt me that I think of when I must tell someone in authority a truth they dislike. It is threats of such places that keep me struggling to be somehow better than my reality. It is a terror that comes with knowing that as an adult the institutions are forever, and they are far worse than any I had as a child.

It is with that in mind that I wanted my fear to be something caused by a personal insanity. If that is the case, then I never have to speak up. I never have to say a word. I never have to fight. I don’t have to find a way to call for help. I can just mourn the loss of supposed sanity and keep trying to live on the “outside”.

The last place I left, I was told I would be locked up again with in five years. I was told I could never function as an adult in society, that I was hopeless. This was said by a therapist. This was the one institution that helped me. My mistake, the thing that earned me this ruling was telling the therapist, “I don’t think all my pain is somatic and I think it’s okay for me to be afraid I will fail.” My mistake was in believing that something was not a mental health concern, and in believing that I merit feeling what I feel.

I almost was not let free based on that conversation. This was also one of the better therapists of my childhood. Today, I declare myself free. None of it has been in my head. None of it will be. If something is in my head as a fear related to post traumas, depression, it does not mean I have to live in a cage. I promise myself now that I will not exchange freedom for a lie because I risk being caged. I am caged by those lies more effectively.

Mourning

After writing my post earlier I left some voicemails with handy men, my friend M said he will pay for it so I can get my bed. I am tired, more so now but as I felt like I was going to scream and couldn’t find peace in my heart I needed to move. I felt pulled, and so remembering I had a ramp decided to risk the scooter breaking down leaving me out in the world. I took my cellphone, my keys, and left the cat at home. I went the way of the pulling sensation, and wound up outside of a beautiful temple. This Buddhist temple is just a block from my apartment. I sat outside and looked at the Lotus blossoms and butterflies, and realized, I belonged. I find that Buddhism has helped me keep calm and not give in to the darkness that pain makes so tempting. Buddhism is not a religion but a path and a way of living, as I was taught. It is compatible with my beliefs.

I sat outside for a half an hour before I decided to go in, and the Abott himself greeted me. He asked me why my heart ached and we talked. I had secretly hoped he would give me permission to continue my relationship with my mother but, “The poison of the heart can poison the soul. Such a pain as you endure was preventable. The poison of the heart will spread. You must remember that your heart is yours.” It wasn’t a way of saying to reject her but a reminder that it is my life and I must come first. Something I knew all along.

I was asked to please come again, as often as I wish, and to bring the cat next time. I ventured out and found the peace that I couldn’t quite grasp. I charged the scooter again while we talked, and decided to risk Walmart. Walmart is a half an hour with these batteries and once there I had to park and charge again. I had another encouter with englightenment. A world war two veteran saw my unique chair and decided to ask if I knew how to get one. I could see his pain, he proudly told me he forgot how old he was and we laughed a bit. I gave him guidance on how to get his wheelchair, as for any of us to admit we need the help of a chair is hard. He told me I reminded him of someone he met long ago in the war. My face, my eyes, but he commented that she had red hair. I didn’t tell him my natural hair is red, and felt a longing for it again. This is twice that I have longed for my hair back at the vibrancy of it’s nature. The black lets me feel safe and I know I look beautiful either way. It is merely difficult. She was a nurse, and he was injured. She was injured as well but hid it so she could continue to serve, her time with him was spent building a trust and she taught him to understand that the enemy wasn’t seeing us as we saw ourselves. It was an interesting story, frightening in some ways but he found comfort in me, and I in him.

I did some shopping, I got a copy of the key to the gate so that my caregiver can actually get in (oops) and a pair of padlocks for my gate. My batteries held so I looked in a few stores and found many things I need, so I took pictures of them with their prices. I bought the nail trimmer that I desperately had to get William, and found two jacket style harnesses one pink and one black on clearance. I sprang for both, and they rang up even cheaper than they were marked. I also got a bit of halloween decore, a little sign that was three dollars and made my entire day. “Wicked Wanda’s Witch Shoppe.” It’s green and a light orange. I named the stuffed witch I got at the dollar store Wanda and she is also green and orange. It’s too perfect to deny. So far this is also my most expensive decoration!

I feel good, if sore. The side walk only has two in accessible areas, one on each side of the road between the shopping center with a grocery store that carries gluten free food, three discount stores, and has everything I could need or want accessibly. I even found the curtains I want for the price I can afford.

I did notice a difference in this neighborhood, normally when I go out I feel invisible and in danger. This time drivers made sure that I knew they were there, and that they saw me. One man stopped when the scooter almost died on the way home and asked if I was alright, since it was going so darned slow. He watched me to the gate of the complex so that I could get home. Normally I wouldn’t want that but I cut it close because I had to backtrack for the gatekeys. Oh I also got some gummy bears. I just needed a small treat and my entire day became such.

Thank you all for supporting me, it gives me strength I cannot find with in myself. I may fear, I may mourn, but I will never surrender. This neighborhood seems very much handicapped friendly, as I found special access points for wheelchairs in areas where it may be more dangerous for a chair to be in the street or normal foot traffic. I’ve never even heard of these things! I dreamed of them. I know better ways around some of the rough spots for next time, though I will wait until the scooter is repaired, I shouldn’t have pushed it. It was stupid, and a mistake. I also feel way better for it. It seems doing what I want is a rarity, and that must change.

When Life is a Trigger Warning (Trigger Warning)

I wrote over 7000 words and WordPress ate it. I’ll try again later. I am really really not okay with this turn of events.

A Time and a Place for Silence

I was trying to explain the blog to someone, and the subject of silence and abuse came up. I have seen several things, in my life that taught me that violence and abuse mean you must never talk about it. I still have trouble saying the word abuse outloud. However, this is not true. The victim’s silence often lets the abuse go on and on and on.

How dare I write these words? How dare I break the traditional silence of abuse? Do I have any idea what I am doing? Absolutely. These were not questions that my friend brought up, indeed he agrees that although there are times to be silent, this is not one of them.

Some of the hate mail I have received on this blog is unintelligible. Some of it is based in fear. Most of it is based in the need to put me in my place, to control me, to try and take away my voice and my power. I remember being told as a child, “Women are to be seen and not heard.” Not children but the female species. I too was assured by my abuser that no one would believe me. All of this horror that I faced? I thought I was alone.

That is why this is not the time or the place for silence. Silence when you are being abused is often deadly. You know those women who are beaten to death? Those rape statistics? Neither should happen. Silence lets them happen. I am sorry if this upsets you, oh wait… no I am not. The point of this blog is to set my people free.

Any person is one of my people. Skin color, intellect level, ability level, none of this matters. If you are alive, you are one of my people. I want to unlock things for you, I want to give you the life you deserve. If someone is hurting you, do not stay silent. Open your mouth, say it loud. If you are aware of abuse, or if a child comes to you and tells you they are being hurt. Believe them! It is not for you, unless you are the police, to investigate the crime. It is for you to believe the child and get them the help of the police who investigate.

Our world often teaches us that bad things only happen to bad people. Bad things can’t happen to you. This is a lie. So, I am breaking my silence to stop the lies. Silence gives your abuser power. Does this mean you have to write about your issues? Does this mean you have to open yourself up to personal attack and the sense of danger? No. It merely means you need to be honest with at least yourself, that yes, this really happened.

Not every survivor or victim of abuse can write or talk about what happened. Sometimes, those of us who can forget this and at times our words might be harsh. I am sorry for those times too.

Silence

Silence is not golden
Silence to that I am not beholden
Silence is a poison
Slowly seeping my life away
Each blow I am silent
I do not cry when it hurts
I am merely silent
Not seen
Not heard

I break the silence
It crashes loudly
I scream
I cry
I shout
I am free.
Life flows back into me.
I speak for my silent sisters
I speak for the silent children
I speak

You listen.
I speak
I sing
Let life flow out from me to thee.
Break the silence.
Break the cycle

This poem is dedicated to those who cannot yet speak out, those who never will, those who die from the silence, and those who survive, and speak up. This is dedicated to you my Sisters. My brothers. This is dedicated to the innocence lost daily. This is dedicated to even those who send me hate, fearing what I do.

This is not dedicated to those who want to take away my power. Those of you who tell me to stop writing because it is not my place? Find your own place and stick your head in it. This is my place. This is my purpose. This is my freedom.

This is not a time and a place for silence!

Hidden Abuse Take Two (Trigger Warning)

Abuse is something that is running rampant in our society. I think the “right” to abuse is not just reinforced in some religions, but it is reinforced in other ways. The media often shows women getting hit as punishment, or if male and females are both under assault, the woman gets hurt worse, and it is the man’s duty to avenge her. There are very few deviations from this formula. I am writing a deviation, at least I hope so, for my own novel. I realized that I am exploring what it is to be a survivor in my writing.

I am not going to give the plot away by much, but, there is an exploration of rape, incest, and the confrontation of an abuser in my story. That is a big portion of it’s core. This is a core part of what has made me who I am. I have confronted every abuser in my life, and although it is extremely painful and has ended badly in most circumstance, I was able to show them that I know what they are.

Through this exploration of what abuse is, and my constant thoughts and warnings I have come to see that the media lies. Abuse isn’t just when you are beaten bloody. That is the most obvious abuse. That is the abuse that comes in at the end of a very long escalation. Abuse starts small.

My first abusive boyfriend actually helped me find my name. At times I feel weird answering to Kat, because he was the first to call me that. The spelling and intention is different yet the association sometimes pops up. The abuse with him was the smallest. It started over food. I have huge food issues, and have had for most of my life. He would start out with our food order. I would order something meaty and he’d look at me and say, “That will make your cholesterol high. Don’t you want a salad?” If I refused to order the salad, at first he would just shrug, but then the comments started to escalate, “Well, if you want to be a fat pig for the rest of your life fine…”

I nearly died when I started to give in. I didn’t see this as abuse. It was not as bad as what I had dealt with before, so how could it be abuse? I didn’t understand. He then began to accuse me of things, little things that made no sense to me. “You are one of the Illuminati, You are the destroyer of worlds.” I thought he’d been reading way too many comic books. He hated them but read them to try and make me feel better about him, in some ways that worked at first.

This was one of my longest relationships, I was hiding my relationship from my family per his order. After all they would surely judge me for dating a person of a different ethnicity. Before you ask, no he was not black. I have been blessed to know only gentle men of color. No single ethnic group holds the buy out on violence. Most of my abusers are men of my own color, white.

I began to miss out on time with my friends. He then started pressuring me for sex. I had decided a long time ago I want to have sex with the man I marry. For some reason this was not the same in my mind with women, I could explore them but men were too dangerous and in my mind hated pleasure with promiscuous women. I was warned that if I did not have sex with him, the world would end.

The night we broke up he hit me. I do not remember much, I had a flash back to one of the worst beatings of my life. I also reacted, I don’t remember it but when I came back to reality I had been hitting him with a frying pan. My face hurt, and he snarled at me, “I am going to rape you, kill you, and then I will have your soul forever.” Those words haunt me. He meant them. He wanted to steal my soul, because in his eyes I had too much personal power.

I called 911, he was arrested, and some of the things I found out about him were frightening. He had lied about his name, he had lied about a lot of things. He was a known serial rapist, and had killed more than one person. He went to jail, and although he is out now my fear of him is very small. I doubt he will try to find me. If he does, I know how to protect myself, and I will call the police.

Looking back, I see many warning signs of abuse. I thought these were normal for social interactions however. Any time you are not allowed to share a relationship, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you are not able to meet their friends or family, that is another sign of abuse. It is a bit harder to feel that these are significant with internet dating, but they are in the majority of cases. If you must stop seeing your friends, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you say no, and he takes that as yes? Get out of there.

There are more signs to abuse, but my brain is trying to flash back now, so I need to stop writing this piece. Abuse is not as hidden as it thinks it is. As a survivor of abuse I have dealt with varying layers, finding each time my brain accepts it as normal, until I finally found my way out of the cycle of abuse. It takes years, it takes practice. If anything hurts you, even if it might not feel wrong it is abuse.

Super Cripple #2- Secret Origins Special!

I have spent several years being Super Cripple, I learned how to act like I was perfectly happy even when beaten, tired and exhausted because of a neighbor. This is another one of those happy attempts, yet it is also colored by darkness. I did not even remember him for a long time, my brain shutting down too often, trying to erase my biological father from my life. When I remembered him, it all came back and I cried. I did not just cry but I cried for days, mourning the years without the knowledge of what made me become better than I could have been.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. The clouds were thick in the sky and a blast of lightening caused a loud clap of thunder. I dropped the glass of milk in my hands and spilled it. The cup was fine but I knew my father was going to hurt me. He worked for himself, which really meant he slept all day and all night. I was making lunch and had been going to serve it to him on the couch. I had burned myself during cooking but the food was not burned so it was fine, and I knew that my father would be angry if he found out about the milk. I tried something new. I refilled the glass, carried the plate and cup to him, and then went and cleaned up the spill. Then I told him I had spilled the milk.

The end result was just as violent as the other times I had spilled something. I was also locked outside, because of course telling him meant I had to be hiding the spill, I must have done something worse. I remember being relieved that the tears blended with the rain. My neighbor came home, his car was a bright blue with green accents, a classic 1957 Chevy. I always loved watching his car, imagining what it must be like to ride in it. He stepped out of the car and looked over at me sitting in the rain.

His steps were uneven, he limped and huffed a bit, it sounded as if he hurt. He crouched down and looked me in the eyes. I remember his voice being the first that I had heard which held an accent that did not match the one my own has. I was curious. I was also afraid to answer him. His voice was soft, warm, and inviting, “Are you locked out?” I just nodded. “I can open door?” I shook my head no and squeaked out, “I’m in trouble and he’ll kill you!” I was afraid my father would hurt the nice man. He smelled like candy. I also thought he was as old as the God that I believed in at that time.

He smiled, and I remember noticing how many teeth he had. I thought all old people lost their teeth. He was elderly, he was 74 and I was merely 4. He stood up and took my hand, “We won’t tell him you came with me. When do you get back inside?” I answered, knowing the answer from practice, “When my mommy comes home I go to the back door.” He nodded and we walked to his house. His wife wasn’t home yet, so it was just me and my Sensei. I do not know if I ever learned his name but, I did learn other things.

That first day he did not call me any names for being wet, to him it was logical, a girl is outside her feet will be muddy and she will be wet. Instead he wrapped me in a thick towel that was soft, my skin didn’t burn after touching it. It too smelled sweet. He helped me get my shoes off, taking his own off. “In my house we go barefoot.” I thought this must be heaven. I had died, the lightening and thunder had to have squished my brain.

It was real. He took me into his living room. There was no television set, just an old radio and a lot of books. “You read?” I nodded yes, and he asked another question, one few people think to ask. “You like to read?” I hesitated and answered with words, “Only if I pick, but I am not allowed to pick.” He frowned and left the room. He brought me a yellowed comic book, the cover had a yellow sky, a man in a weird costume with a cape and a pointy headed mask was hanging on a rope, choking someone. “You read this. You not like, we will find you something else.” I nodded and opened up the issue of Detective Comics #27. Not only was this an original and nearly mint copy of the issue with Batman’s origin but he handed it over without hesitation to a sopping wet toddler.

Detective Comics #27 Cover - Batman Swinging on a jump line, guns aimed at him, a bad guy in his grasp. Total awesomeness

Detective Comics #27 Cover - Batman Swinging on a jump line, guns aimed at him, a bad guy in his grasp. Total awesomeness

I delved into the story, and I was hooked. Batman had so many lessons to teach about healing from trauma, even in the Golden Age. Also, suction cups are still awesome because batman walked up walls with them. He interrupted my reading to ask if I liked tomato soup and cheese sandwiches, I had no idea so I shrugged. He smiled and carried in on a silver tray, in fine china bowls with silver spoons two bowls of soup and two sandwhiches without their crusts cut into halves. He had even added some cheddar cheese to the tops of the soup. I put the comic down as he handed me my share and asked him, “Why do you talk funny?”

I was forgetting to be afraid. He felt safe and I liked it here. I did not want to ever leave. “I am from Japan.” I had never heard of Japan and as I ate my soup, which became my favorite thing in the whole world, it still is and remained so even through the suppression of these memories, I listened to his story. It was not happy and yet, it shaped him into the kindest soul I had met.

“I was born in a small town outside of Tokyo which is a very big city. My brother had come to the United States a long time before I did, he had a house and wife, and talked often of how Japan sounded on the television. There was also forced enlistment in the army. I would have to leave my wife. I did not know if I could live without her. She and I were forbidden to wed but did, our parents punished us for it by disowning us.” He paused there to explain what being disowned meant, to me it sounded fabulous. “So, I came to America. The war had started, just after getting on a boat to flee my country, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.” He had pulled out a map and was showing me the different locations. I hadn’t even heard of Hawaii before. “American Citizens who might be Japanese were locked in camps.” I knew about concentration camps, my father often referenced how much he wished he could gas us. I hugged him, my very first time hugging a stranger. He held me and finished his story. “One of the soldiers watching our camp, it wasn’t like the other camps in Europe,” Another bit of map pointing for my benefit, “He gave me his son’s comic books after the boy was done. He shared them with us to try and help us endure. I learned to read english, as did many children. This was my first comic book. I still read them.” This man had kept the comic books through an internment camp, through a long life of struggle.

I knew they were valuable based on that. He ruffled my hair, which had dried out and asked if I wanted another sandwich. I did but was afraid to say yes so, instead of lying I just shrugged. He brought me another sandwich. “You are allowed to want more, if you are hungry. I want to share.” I smiled. I don’t know if I ever had before, but, it felt strange. I finished the first issue and a second, he then went to find a third but it was late and my mother’s car drove up. We wet my hair in the sink, it was still raining, and he helped me through his back yard, it was a paradise of flowers, and despite not wanting to leave I went to the back door.

My father had no idea. In my mind as he helped me climb the fence, I was bat girl. I didn’t know batgirl was really in the comics yet, but, I imagined I was swinging through Gotham city which I was then pronouncing Got Ham… Before we parted ways he told me to come back when I needed to. I ate my dinner, and went to bed in silence that night but I had something to imagine. I imagined fighting crime. I imagined how it would feel to be a grown up and a crime fighter. I suddenly wanted to be a cop.

The next day, and the next, I would sneak out when my father took his nap or I would go for refuge if I was punished. Every day he fed me a bowl of tomato soup and we read comic books. Eventually he apologized to me for not having any Wonder Woman comics, because he gave those to his daughter when she entered college. Despite his heritage, the teachings of his culture, he treated me as a human. There was no sexism I could see. His wife had a job, he was retired. I believe he was a teacher, but I do not know. Sometimes we would dress up, the soft bed linens he used would turn into capes and we’d go through an imaginary Gotham City arresting teddy bear villains.

He asked my name many times and I never wanted to tell him. I was afraid, because my father and mother tended to only use my name when I was in trouble. That was often, as I never could please them. My mother was working three jobs, trying to feed us and my father just found fault with my existance. My Sensei, as I began to call him taught me more than just comics or how to imagine and play. He also began teaching me Japanese. He helped me to master the art of chopsticks and gave me etiquette lessons. He taught me to dance as well, sharing things with me from the world he lived in. Giving me glimpses of a golden age of love.

I too recall his hands. They were knotted with arthritis, now I know the rain likely pained him yet it rained often in those years. He never showed his pain, he was always well dressed, kind, and never yelled at me. Not even when I tore a page in Batman #1. He never made me pretend to be Robin, and always liked pretending to be my Alfred. Those hours of kindness turned into days, then years. In that time, I did share my name but instead he gave me my first alternate name. I was to call him Sensei, as I liked the word and gave it to him as a title. He was happy, and held me close telling me he was honored to be my Sensei. I was his Little Lotus. I asked why.

“You are a flower, all children are. A lotus has many layers, it has many petals. Never let anyone tell you what you are or what you can be. Like a lotus you are special, you are good and kind. You are smart, and you will be someone important. As long as someone loves you, and I do Little Lotus, you will be important to the world.”

I never asked again, but I cried. He loved me. I loved him. I was six years old when we got caught. I had already endured rape, molestation and trauma. My neighbor, a teenager, had violated me as had my father. There were times I wanted to reveal that I had my very own Batcave. I kept it a secret. I was afraid, as we sent one man to jail, that my father would send another off to prison.

I testified against the young man, I imagined I was batman, putting a criminal away. It was the only reason I could do it. When he was out on Bail he came and knocked on my window, sticking his hands under to lift it up and tried to get in. I pretended I was batman again. I slammed the window shut and screamed. This was the only time my parents acted as parents should. My father did this to hide his own crimes, my mother out of the true pain she felt at seeing her babies endangered.

The day we were caught was one where my mother came home from work early. She was either fired or just sick, and I did not hear her car. I had fallen asleep with the latest issue of Batman, finished superman and my Sensei was making tea in the kitchen. I woke to hear my mother’s voice screaming, “WHERE IS SHE!?” My name yelled out. I did not think, I thanked my Sensei, slipped my shoes on and went outside. There were accusations, my father grabbed me by my hair. I then saw who was truly Batman. My Sensei came out, removed my father’s hands from me and said quietly, “Little Lotus, go inside.” My parents were shocked, my father sent my mother inside as well, though she tried to follow me.

I locked the door and peered out the window, watching and listening. I could hear every word. My father accused him of being a rapist, a pedophile, and a monster. My sensei pointed out that due to his age he would be unable to rape anyone, and that he enjoyed teaching me how to be a kind and caring adult. He insisted our afternoons continue, stating that we had done this for years. My father went sheet white at that revelation and called him racially unjust terms. He lifted a hand to hit him. My sensei defended himself, blocking the blows and not retaliating. “She is a good girl, you treat her poorly. I see the bruises. I see them. I have reported you many times to DCF.” It was true, no one knew who it was that kept the government coming but I had lied every time.

The argument went on for an hour, in that time my Sensei’s wife came home, finished making the tea and sat with me at the window watching. She was just as influential as my Sensei, and I will always remember how she smelled of Jasmin and how I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world, her long hair mixed with greys and black always was styled nicely and she dressed not for others, but for her own comfort.

That was not the last afternoon of my super hero afternoons, it was merely the only time we were caught. Until we moved away, my parents marraige in tatters I saw him almost daily. We shared the comics, other books, and he continued to teach me how to live. Without him I would have been in more pain. He too taught me ways to heal. Things that stayed in my soul when my mind deleted them to survive.

I started out as an imaginary side kick, and often when I am exhausted I imagine too the sounds of a cape in the wind, the feel of my body dancing with criminals. I am a Super Hero. I am Super Cripple, and this is my origin story.

*Side notes*

DC comics owns the rights to the image used in this post. They are also the inspiration for the post title. As you read this, there may be some comic book references that are slipped in. I am a comic book geek and proudly so. I hope you enjoyed the Secret Origins Special.

Violence (Trigger Warning)

I keep rewriting this post. Violence is bad. We all know this. Violence is often celebrated in our culture. In the US most of the television shows, even for children, include some sort of violence or attempt to teach children what boys do and what girls do. Girls like fashion, pink, and hair. Boys like to fight, are great leaders, and work. Bull pucky. The media also rarely illustrates that women can be violent.

I am capable of killing. I am not capable of murder. I know that if I had to kill someone to defend myself or the ones I love, I could. I discovered this when I was young. I am very loyal, it is a part of my nature to protect people. This does come from my history with violent abuse. If I could take the pain then I could save my sister or brother. They used to do that as well. Each one of us did our best to be the only one in pain. I am capable of killing, but, I never have.

I have had run ins with so many things, my life sometimes reads like a fiction novel. I never used to think about writing nonfiction, so afraid of being told I had dreamed it all. My biological mother and I talked on the phone today, partially about violence. The violence of doctors.

When I was eight I began to see a psychologist. After the first meeting they handed my mother a prescription for Zoloft. The pills made me sleepy. I hated taking them, because I couldn’t think. My father was still around, and taking the pills at his house always meant more pain. My reflexes were already slow, how could I fight back? I mentioned this to my doctor and the threat came. “If you do not take your pills you will be locked up with the other worthless children.” This doctor was a man, I remember falling silent, wishing to tell my mother. He threatened too that if I told her that she would be sent away, abandoning the others. I took the pills.

This man is no longer a doctor, he tried this on a competent adult a few years ago. There was a scandal, it made the papers. This was just after I fired him. He was the first doctor I fired. I spent years after that taking more and more pills. At one time I was on six antidepressants, an anti psychotic, an anti epileptic medication that they thought would make me not depressed, birth control pills to try and force my body to have a period, and a few other things.

When I threw up, I had to take a second dose. Doctor’s orders. There are chunks of my life lost not just to suppressed memories but to my brain shutting down from the constant overdose. Most of the medications I was on were not approved for children, just adults over the age of eighteen. I reacted to most of them. Being allergic to so much, that is no surprise. Throwing up, bleeding with each dose, and hallucinations weren’t big enough side effects to be taken off of the drugs.

I was more violent during that time, as they tried to fix a chemical imbalance that did not exist, due to the drugs. They are not the only reason I lashed out at the world. Abuse does that, it teaches people to strike before they get hurt. I barely remember assaulting my best friend in High School. She touched my sandwich and teased me for it. I remember the anger and seeing her on the floor but not the act of hitting her in the head with a chunk of wood.

This was caught on film, there were witnesses. I went into a psychotic rage over food. I have some serious food issues, and I thought she was going to take my food. The fear of being deprived was so strong, that I had to protect myself. This was what I knew, I never knew people could share. I was a beast, primal in my reactions. She did not suffer permanent damage but was hospitalized for it. This lead to the only psychiatric hospitalization that benefited me. Hospital hiding the institution, feeding on itself and drugging children. Teaching them first hand who Nurse Ratchet was.

The reason being I finally needed help. I was shunted around the state, with my history and diagnoses no one wanted to treat me. It feels familiar at times with doctors, sending needles into my heart. I was misdiagnosed with mental health conditions. One to explain every disability. I was accused of things, such as self mutilation that came from my disabilities. I was lazy, I was stupid, I was just not good enough. Years of that, a decade in fact, of being told how worthless I was by doctors and I did not trust them.

I was sent to an experimental facility. The Ranch, as my family calls it, was a peer support program. We did see therapists, and we did have medication given to us but we lived in a boarding school environment. The program depended on it’s recipients to function. This made a difference, as I found people my age I could talk to. This was a first. I also learned I was not alone. At the other facilities you were shoved in until you behaved for three days or so, then went home. In and out like a yo yo.

Each of the children at the Ranch had been in and out as well. Most were not from New Mexico, but a few of us were granted access to keep diversity up. There was violence there, though there was also nature. The Ranch is the only place I have ever been able to drink the water. The water came straight out of the ground. The first thing the doctors did was take me off all of my meds. They gave me two months before they started me on another. They came so close to freeing me from my shackles of medication. The medicine they put me on did change things, it seemed to reverse some of the damage to my brain from the drugs that came before. I stopped losing my hair, I gained some weight and lost some girth. I even began to smile sometimes.

I also met horses. I was one with nature there. There was silence at times, and there was bonding. That was where I learned I could love. The fact is, my father was a diagnosed psychopath. Even knowing this these “great” doctors did not seem to consider that my behavior was environmental. The ranch is where I learned about PTSD. It is also where I learned that flashbacks were not just my burden.

One of the other dorms, full of boys, found a dog. I was triggered when the dog came to us bleeding. The flashback lasted for six hours. I relieved my father killing people’s pets because I liked them. I still cannot go into detail on those horrors without triggering myself. This poor dog was hungry, lost in the middle of no where, and then was assaulted. When he came to our dorm, my brain left. I woke up, and found that the world had for once stopped for me.

This was my turning point. It wasn’t being threatened with institutionalization in the adult hospital, it wasn’t the new drug. It was coming back to myself and finding that every girl had stopped what they were doing, had sat in a circle around me and the dog to which I was clinging and waited. When I stopped screaming, apparently I had been, my roommate asked what happened. When I told them, no one told me I lied, no one told me it was my fault. The first time in my life, someone hugged me and cried with me. No one punished me for needing help, a first in my life.

I was on the cusp of adulthood when this finally happened. I was about to reach a point of no return, trapped in the system. They saved me from my violence, and I saved them in turn. I love each of those girls still. Someday I may cross their paths again, though I do not plan to admit it to them if I do. We each deserve the right to deny our childhoods to an extent.

I spent my childhood dying daily. I am certain that not every therapist was bad, I do not remember them if they were not. I only remember the incidents of threat, of lies, and of burden. Child psychologists often can get away with crimes and breaking the rules of conduct that their profession has. Not all of them do, but, an adult has power over a child. A psychologist is alone for at least an hour with a child, and some of them abuse this power. I had one who found out I would turn on her like a dog hit one too many times. She spent the sessions telling me about her husband’s erectile dysfunction, and telling me I was fat. The male doctor who gave me the pills threatened me each time with different torments. One of the other psychologists took part in encouraging the children at my school to burn me at the stake.

It is no wonder that I hated the world. Until the ranch only a few teachers had ever shown me adults could manage to not hurt me. Each of them saved a part of my soul, saved a fragment of hope from the violence. My mother did try, but, it seemed hopeless that any of her children would turn out to be a healthy adult. How could we? She wasn’t. We only knew violence.

Perhaps the violence I know tempered me? I doubt it. I believe it was the small bits of love I could find. I do not believe the Ranch did all the work in saving me, I think instead they unburied the ground work set by another.

After Toastmasters I will write of my first Sensei, I will tell you of my time as Little Lotus and how the Batman was my father until I was six. It sounds silly, and the fantasy was. It still held violence but my Sensei taught me ways to thrive, not just survive. I will also write about my experience with hate and nearly being burned as a witch.

We, the subjects of oppression are forbidden anger, we are forbidden violence. Even when it is used against us, violence is often attributed to us. Those with mental health issues, mental disabilities, and physical disabilities are vulnerable to violence in unique ways. When defending ourselves we are demonized. Women who show anger are told to simmer down, they are told that their anger is inappropriate. Some are raped to control their power, to try and punish them for anger. Persons of Color of any gender are also forbidden anger. The stereotypes tell how violent they are, and yet when a man is shot down for his skin color and people get angry, the murdering cops get away with it because the people get angry.

Violence is all around us, it is on the TV, it is in books, it is in my beloved comic books. Violence is in our history. It is sadly in our future. I mourn for all the children and those who once were children who know violence. The kiss of violence is the scar of fear, the spectre of disillusionment, and the taste of bitterness that shatters dreams.

Violence is the most horrifying entity that has ever been introduced into society. Violence is not a part of human nature, it was taught. We learned it from somewhere. Violence is not never ending. The cycle can be broken. I have broken the cycle in my family. Even when attacked I try to protect myself without violence. How do you survive violence? How do you endure?

Anger is violent. Violence is a poison. My antidote for violence is to sing, to write, or to create something. To be violent is to become what you fear. Fear can turn to anger, anger turns into violence. The cycle swirls around. I created this post not just to educate, but to share. I want to share my peace. In order to do that, you must see my pain too. I fear these words most of all, therefore I offer them up to transform and fly into the universe like butterflies, unlocking the caged minds of others. I write these words not with anger, but with sorrow for who I was, mourning for the death of innocence as I knew it, and with love. The love is not just for myself, though I truly love myself. It is Wishing Love, I wish love upon each and every person in this world.

I wish love upon you, for whoever you are you do deserve love. I may know you, I may not. I embrace you with my soul. I offer you a haven of knowledge, a haven of peace, and a haven of change. I am a butterfly. Here you too may learn to fly.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Advocacy (Trigger Warning)

In conversation with one of my young friends I had a revelation. This was about thirty seconds ago. Sometimes advocating triggers flashbacks while I am trying to function. My mind lept then to other people who have to self advocate through PTSD symptoms. It isn’t always a flash back. If you do not have PTSD it might be harder for you to understand being jerked around by past trauma. Therefore I am going to explain, and this is why there is a trigger warning on this post. Sometimes reading about PTSD or other issue related things can trigger people.

This is not from the DSM (Diagnostic Manual thingy) but is from my experience. I may leave things out that apply to you or tell you things that don’t. The problem with labels is they are often not enough to truly explain what something means. Lets say someone shoots a gun. My first impulse is to be very still, not breathing, and praying that my father won’t make the shot. Even typing that sentence my head went into the land of fuzz and my chest is tight. I am taking slow breaths to focus and clear my mind. The trigger is not always a gun but just a loud pop. My brain is stuck on certain points of the abuse I suffered, it has a programmed loop that it likes to play. I have warning symptoms for my flashbacks now, and can often circumvent them.

My reality is in jeopardy from these loops. the weakest symptom is a tingle, intense fear, sometimes I start randomly bleeding. Why do I bleed? One theory a psychologist offered is somatic symptomalogy. Basically my body remembers, and it reacts so strongly to what my brain signals, that it thinks it is injured. This adds to the pain I feel. The pain from invisible injuries is far from phantom. I feel it. The next step after that is the sensation that I am floating, I disassociate and can see the entire world, but I am not connected to it. Usually I then go back in time. I see and feel at the same time, from multiple vantage points my father with his brand new gun, me and my siblings on the couch. I feel the cold metal of the gun pressing against my forehead. My nose stings with the tears I cannot shed.

The loud bang comes, I feel the heat of the bullet, my skin is burned by muzzle flash and I feel a horrible pain as the bullet grazes my temple. I don’t move. I don’t scream. I just stare up into that black hole, smoke pouring out of it and avoid looking into my father’s eyes, knowing he is going to be angry that he missed. I hear every word he screams again, how worthless I am, how I should be dead and must have moved. My sister starts to scream, my brother too but I can’t move. I look into his eyes and I see the blackness.

I still do not remember what happens next, though I have been told he decided to shoot at my sister, but I pushed her aside. I just know he tried to shoot his children, sitting on a couch that smelled like pee, and nearly killed his neighbor because the bullet went off. The cops were called but I took the blame. I said I was playing with his gun when it went off. I lied, to survive.

When I come back to myself I always want to vomit. Instead I focus on breathing. If the nausea is really bad I will take some Rolaids. Sometimes now, after years of effort, I let myself cry. Usually I manage a tear but my brain has yet to grasp the concept of tears. If I am not at home, it is worse to recover. At home I control my environment, I have a bed to curl up in, two soft fluffy cats, and my Person can go elsewhere more easily giving me the time I need to recover.

When I am advocating and flash back, I never know what to do. I try different things, and usually they work but the vulnerability can be debilitating. I flashed back my first time having to seriously advocate to that scene. That is why I chose to relate it to try and explain what PTSD is like. I wish I had simpler words but none can encapsulate just how much there is to it. Sometimes the flashes are different, sometimes I am still an adult but I am trapped, it is worse in some ways because I still feel the pain but I am completely aware that my world has vanished. I am never certain if I am going to hurt someone. I have before, but it has been a long time.

That first taste of advocacy was so bitter. The cops came, and one fondled his gun and my brain shut down. I was afraid, in pain and exhausted. I was being yelled at and deprived of my prescription because I needed my service animal. The cops even saw Sprite follow her training. When I flash she has three tasks, beyond her instinct to comfort me. First, she signals to my Person for help. Sometimes a conversation can end it. So she chirruped at the person of the day, and I had to form the words, “I need you to deal with them for me. I can’t.” Then, she helps me to sit. I had to wait fifteen minutes for a chair, I wanted to scream at them but I tried to stay calm. I was hyperventilating, they took this as my being dramatic. Then, she moves to my shoulder. Her instinct is to sit on my chest, but she might get flung there, I do not handle pressure on my chest well even when not panicking or flashing. Her instincts tell her to purr, to rub with just her face against mine. This grounds me.

The police threatened to arrest me if I did not leave the facility. I knew enough to know they couldn’t but they refused to acknowledge that I had rights. I couldn’t fight, but I had to. I chose then to repeat the law over and over. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t see their real faces for half the time. All I saw was my father and his eyes that reflected no light.

What can you do if you have PTSD and are an advocate? Here is the how to portion.

Step 1. Before you get to the point of advocating, have a support structure. This is a difficult process, because not every person can truly understand what it is to lose your reality. You need to have someone you trust availible, at least to call.

Step 2. If you have medications used to treat the symptoms of your PTSD in an emergency make sure to carry them with you, to keep a back up dose with your support person, and to keep your doctors number handy.

Step 3. Create a kit of items that help forestall your flashbacks. Nothing works for me beyond my cat. I can give her the signal she is trained for when i feel the warnings coming and ground. This is all I have right now, beyond my Person. No meds, just those two.

Step 4. Remember to breathe. Sometimes if you focus on just breathing you can help yourself.

Step 5. If you flash back during advocacy, try and focus on the responses that do not match the memory. This has worked for others, pulling them out.

Step 6. Advocate anyway. I did get the illegal policy over turned at the Pharmacy where I was threatened with arrest. I had to fight for a long time to do it, but, they relented. It is worth it even though it you might feel endangered or might BE endangered by your flashbacks.

Step 7. If you have to, stop. This opposes Step 6. Not every incident can be worked through. You might need to call your therapist, you might need to let your support person advocate for you. This is not a failing, this is merely the team network that advocacy should be.

I am glad to write this how to. I never considered how important it could be, but, in my mind my broken back, my asthma, and my failing eyes are not my most dangerous disability. The worst disability I have is PTSD. At times during flashbacks I have hurt myself, my friends, and reliving the painful memories can also cost me emotional, physical, or mental progress.

Keep in mind the time you are most fragile is just after a flash back. Some people can be triggered more easily, often it is easier to react in rage. Do not minimize your pain either. It is okay to cry, scream, and sometimes to just walk away.

I have done all of the above. Not every incident with advocating will cause a flashback either. Most of my time advocating I am left with memories of victory. My first taste of advocacy is as sweet as it is bitter, because I still succeeded, despite my unabiding terror of these men. My greatest cause was also revealed to me. I am actively fighting to get the local police trained in how to deal with enforcing the ADA. I want my rights protected, I do not want to fear being put in jail, dumped out of my wheelchair and my service animal being put into Animal Control’s care.

That was the threat, and so often is. My heart goes out to any other advocates who suffer from PTSD. I know each person’s PTSD is varied, some may not flash back, some might just panic. Others might not be able to stop their flashes. You can still advocate. Just prepare yourself as best you can.

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