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.

SuperCripple VS Advocate Woman! Issue#1

Sometimes you have days that feel like everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Other days everything goes right, even when you least expect it. Today I had a day of Advocacy. I felt compelled to advocate not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. Each atttempt at advocacy costs energy, so, I am considering taking an epic nap right now. Instead, I see this as an  opportunity to discuss advocacy once again.

I found myself waking up to the phone and I actually answered it. I am antitelephone, and since ours does not have a speaker phone option I get pain when I use it. I still felt the need to answer and found myself being told that tommarrow at nine AM I was due for my mammogram. I had some questions, and was reminded the value of questions. Here is a sort of rewrite of the conversation.

“Don’t wear any make up, powders, deoderants or parfumes. These can cause false positives.”

“Great, I have some questions for you. Do I have to lay down during the mammogram? I am concerned about positioning.”

“Uhmn, you have to stand ma’am.”

“I am a wheelchair user, what is your accomodation for this eventuality?”

“Well the technicians can hold you up?”

I felt anger at that response. I should not be forced to stand during a painful proceedure. I consider mammograms painful, due to the fact that they crush your breasts. I will find out how painful on Thursday.I took my deep breath and responded with this.

“Ma’am that is wholly unacceptable. Not only could that damage my body further but it puts me at risk for passing out. I find the notion that you can just hold me up until you are satisfied humiliating as well.”

“Please hold.”

I was put on hold for disagreeing with her, though it wasn’t for very long. I hadn’t even decided what to feel about her thrusting me into Hold Limbo. This was good, I dislike being on hold and forced to listen to cheesy instrumentals of current pop hits. I once heard an instrumental of some Eminem music. That was just weird.

“Ma’am I see here you are not over fourty. I am cancelling your Mammogram, you can just get an ultrasound.”

“No, my doctor and I discussed the need for a mammogram. My doctor knows what I need, and you are not a doctor. You are a receptionist. It is your duty to follow the orders given to you by doctors. You can cancel the appointment, but, I would like the number for the head of radiology please.”

I was wide awake now, and having dreamed last night of a future when I was fighting for the rights of others on a National Scale, I felt inspired. In my dream I was the next Civil Rights Leader for the disabled community. My voice was the voice that pushed for training for the police, that pushed and pushed until finally equality came. It was a good dream and pushed me into action. I was put on hold again. She came back and said something I found shocking.

“I don’t have the head of radiology for our hospital.” What? Why not?! Instead I took a breath and asked, “Then, is there someone else I can talk to?” She was quiet for a moment then said, “I think the Women’s Hospital can accomodate your need.” Not only is the Women’s Hospital my neighbor, but, I love that place. When I need an ER I can get in, almost immediately. She did give me the number for the head of Radiology for the Women’s hospital.

I called and made my appointment, and then I left a voicemail for the woman who runs radiology, expressing my concerns and my challenges with the Mammogram. I wasn’t even ready to drag myself out of the bed yet. This takes time and my body wakes up paralyzed. She called back before I had even managed to scoot to the edge of the bed. We’re meeting on Thursday to discuss accessibility with in the confines of her hospital, and to discuss a plan to raise awareness for other hospitals so that women can get their mammograms. She agreed with my statement that a woman should not be denied a medically necessary and preventative screening based on her ability.

On Thursday I will be in a nonchair, but I will not be standing and she promised options for adjustability in seating to protect my body from the risk of fainting. There will also be extra nursing staff incase of the inability to accomodate that. This is challenging, at times my wheelchair isn’t adaptable enough. This was a victory. I negotiated for what I needed and am in return going to fulfill a need for others.

After getting dressed I was going to grab Sprite to take her with me for my speech, because I miss her working and she has finally begun to regain her Meow. She had a temperature. Instead of letting her come out, I had to let her stay in. This either was helpful or harmful, a mixture of the two most likely. Right now she is so glad I am home, that she is curled up on my knees with a little kitten grin. I need some blood work done, and after fasting and making myself drink only water (makes me queasy) I went for it.

My person unloaded me and my chair, and while he hefted the ramp back into the car I went on my merry way to sign in, that way I wouldn’t have to wait. I did not make it in the door. The curb cut was blocked off by a car, a woman sitting inside waiting for someone. I considered my options and decided for passive protest, waiting to educate the miserable soul who could be so inconsiderate. Out came a man who wore a hat declaring he fought in World War Two. He is the first veteran I have not thanked for their service to this country. I feel slight guilt at that, but only in the form that I could not undermine my own rights.

This converastion was full of his hatred of the disabled. His wife had just broken her leg and couldn’t walk to the car. I understand needing to use the curb cut for a chair. Instead of making sure anyone else who might be in a chair could use the curb cut and go inside, he felt the need to take fifteen minutes of my time with his selfishness. He felt the need to make it appear that it is my fault I cannot go over a curb, and that because he fought in the war he gets a free pass. I did my best to keep a calm tone, and success was had. He was not happy when he left, though I did try to accomodate his need to enjoy his able bodied superiority, his white priviledge and his manliness. I did not want to upset him, I wanted to educate. Here is my conversation summary there.

Him: “Move. I can’t pull forward with you there.”

Another car had come up behind him after I had made myself cozy blocking him effectively in his spot.

“Sir, you are breaking the law. You left your car illegally parked. blocking me in the street. Not only did this endanger my saftey but it is a federal crime. ” I then started to move out of his way.

“So what? I needed to put her wheelchair back inside. She broke her leg.”

“Sir, there is a parking spot less than three feet from us. You should have used it. Next time, please make certain that you are not denying persons access to the emergency room.” The ER is right across from the medical lab. I found myself at that moment wondering if today was ADA Awareness for the folks at the Women’s Hospital courtesy of yours truly.

“Well I fought in World War Two.” That part made me want to snarl at him about rights, priviledge and why he fought. I wanted angry discourse. Instead I took a deep breath and responded with this.

“I do appreciate my freedom, but, that does not give you the right to violate the federal law. My civil rights include access to this hospital.” I was out of the way of his car now, and he had begun to snarl. I lowered my voice, just a bit, “You should be aware that I could call the police to have them enforce the Americans with Disabilities act, having you fined. Instead I chose to make you aware of the law. ”

“No one reads the ADA anyway, you’re the only wheelchair person who has.” This man was using the ADA for his wife, so that she could have a reasonable accomodation of transport to their car. The ADA protects his right to medical care for service related disability, as do other non ADA laws.

“Sir, I am afraid you are misinformed. Most disabled people discover the value of knowing their rights, so that when people discriminate they can educate. You should try reading the ADA, you might be surprised at how much it effects you.”

He finally got in his car and snarled at me, “No one cares about you gimps.” It was difficult to not give him a rude gesture. Instead, I smiled and said, “Sir, I am not a gimp. I am merely wanting to go and get a blood draw. I need my cholesterol checked.” He turned purple. When people turn purple I always want to see if a purple people eater is around. This makes me relax, internal laughter at their overreaction feels good. “Have a nice day sir, if I see you doing this again I will call the police so that you can pay the fines. The minimum, I believe is about $500.”

I was reacting to my sun exposure at this point. My right ear was throbbing, as it had been for some time, and my back ached. I signed in for my blood draw, then began to see about getting my sleeves up. My good arm for blood had developed a giant sore right over the spot where the needle had to go. I have two spots to draw blood, one in each arm. Everywhere else is not an option. This meant that even the small children’s needles aka Butterfly Needles were not only necessary but any deviation could result in my bleeding. I have the hemophiliac gene and often display symptoms, though, my doctors assure me this is not true hemophelia. I agree with that diagnosis as I do not always bruise easily. At times I am injured and no bruises appear in my flesh.

My next and third for the Women’s Hospital opportunity to advocate came as soon as I went back with the tech. I reminded her of my need for a butterfly needle, and she went off to gladly accomodate me. She was great, and it turns out a med student. First, I had to argue with her teacher about the butterfly. They apparently keep them locked up now, to cut costs. This means if she is not there, a person needing a butterfly cannot get their blood drawn.

“Ma’am my student tells me you are requesting the butterfly needle. We reserve those only for people who actually need them.”

“Without the use of the butterfly needle I bleed enough to require hospitalization. Also, most of the time I then require six or seven attempts at penetration.”

“Are you a hemophiliac? You don’t look like a hemophiliac.”

Slow deep breaths. I had left my person out in the waiting room. I may be terrified of needles but I am not about to have him hold my hand when I can control my terror.  “That is discriminatory. Not only do I suffer from excessive bleeding, as I stated to your technician, but, declaritive statements that try to diagnose ability based on appearance are disabling to this hospital.”

She made a face and said, “I’ll call the head of security and have him escort you out.” Disagreement means I cannot have my blood test? I put on my inner Mule and let my stubbornness guide me.

“I’ll be contacting my local ACLU to sue this hospital. In this economy this hurts more than just you. I do not want to have to sue, and yet, people like you perpetuate the stereotypes of disability. Calling security merely proves your need to dominate the wheelchair user who knows her body. You will provide her with the butterfly needle, you will also apologize for your bigotry. I do not care if you actually mean it, but, if you want to discriminate, I will fight you. I will fight you so hard that you memorize the ADA just to survive the onslaught. I am just one woman, who has made a reasonable request. I have a speech to give in the next hour, and I would rather do that than bleed out in your hospital over your under educated notions.”

This was a bit harsh, but, being straight out nice was not working. I said this mostly tonelessly, trying to not let my anger win. Yes, I threatened to take legal action. This is my right. I have the right to sue for action when I am being discriminated against, denied proper medical care, and I also know the power of my words. She apologized, gave the tech the b utterfly needle and walked a few feet away to watch the student work. Her apology was a muttered thing that I barely heard, but, she relented. Before I tell you about my educational moment with the tech, I will say this. She stopped me on my way out and asked me where she could read the American’s With Disabilities Act. I wrote out several URLs for her. She will not make the same mistake again, especially as she is now educating herself.

The tech was curious. She asked me how I knew what to say and do. She also discovered that aloe allergies exist. I watched her reaching for the green gloves, the name on the box actually clear enough for me to read.

Me “Do those contain aloe? I am allergic to it.”

She grabbed another nonlatex glove, “Really? Sorry about that. I never considered allergies beyond latex. Do you have a lot of allergies?”

“Yes, I have enough that I have to be on constant guard against them.”

She nodded then and asked, “So,  how did you learn about the ADA?”

“I was told I was healthy as a child, but crazy. I was told I hurt myself because of the sores from one of my genetic conditions, supposedly rare. Hospitalization trained me to try and hide everything wrong with me. As an adult this challenged me to accept my diagnosises. The doctors had been wrong. I was treated for hypochondria.”

The H word caused her to roll her eyes, “So, you really didn’t need the butterfly then.”

“No, I do. I have medical documentation for the need. Hypochondria does not exist.”

“Ten percent of the US population has it.”

This made me smile. I love the statistics game sometimes, it can be an easy win.

“Okay, how many people have hard to diagnose, rare conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrom or Fybromyalgia?”

“Uh 30%.”

“So, with these numbers increasing daily, people suffering for years with their invisible illnesses and the like, what would you guess the percentage to be for undiagnosed illness?”

“40%.”

“Well, if Hypochondria is in just ten percent of the population, then, that covers your instances of hypochondria. It does not exist. I am in this wheelchair because my pain was not allowed to exist for so long, that my invisible illnesses became visible.” She was quiet, and finished the draw before she said.

“So, what other disorders of the mind aren’t real?”

I shrugged then, and answered honestly, “I do not know, but, statistics cannot accurately guide you or any other medical profession. They can only analyze the data that is present.”

This was the fourth chance to advocate. I am not counting the usual advocacy for safe food at fast food resteraunts. Dairy Queen had an employee who didn’t comprehend about no bread and no pickles. Her manager is going to read the new ADA ruling, I gave her a heads up that more people with food requirements will venture out now, and she should be prepared because when her employees tell someone to just eat paper and ruin their food, it will hurt her. Some advocacy and education comes from the strangest places.

I made it in time for my speech, the first speaker, Don Dubois, is an advocate for Lupus. He gave an educational seminar on how to negotiate. I learned from this, and had some of my own self discoveries reenforced. I picked up new techniques I will try, and, I got to see a great speaker. His disability melted away as he worked the room.

My speech, Wordabration was hard. I admitted for the first time outloud to a nonmedical group that I have suffered abuse. I admitted the challenges behind why, and honored the words that lead me to my freedom. I explained my wordabration, and recieved a standing ovation for my speech. I am so happy to return to my Toastmasters Family, that I used the words. I even remembered my closing.

I never use notes for speeches, I panic if I forget something, and then I ruin my flow. Everything felt like a scene from a movie. Everything felt wonderful, safe, and I was awarded the best speaker award for this week. To me, for my first speech in six years, this is a great honor. I am going to evaluate a speech next week and volunteered myself to work more speech contests.

I came home to a half dozen voice mail messages, and ran out of advocatability today. I had to have my Person make some calls for me. Walgreens automated system had gone insane, trying to deny the prescriptions, deleting one, and filling one.I also had my right earlobe explode. Apparently, since mid December when I last wore earrings, I had a growing abcess. It hurt, and now I have five holes in one earlobe. I am certain I just lost the ability to wear earrings.

This is a fairly average day, when I think on it. Every chance to educate must be taken. I feel at times like the world expects me to be SuperCripple, flying my way around their bigotry. Instead, I aim for Advocate Woman, Advocating her way to JUSTICE!

Hot Dogs

In Washington domestic abuse victims now can protect their pets. A part of me felt utter elation for a split second before the futility of this struck me. If my cats are home alone, and my abusers magically find me, a piece of paper is not going to protect them. Yes, violence against animals is a huge problem, especially when small children are victimized by the terror that Daddy or Mommy is going to hurt Bowzer because they were bad.

I have been there. I spent years trying to eradicate my ability to love any small animals out of fear. This sudden dejected response brings me up to a point of realization, we need better protection for our humans and animals. If I had felt that I could have safety, options, or that my existence as a woman without children would have not meant another tour of danger where my life was forfeit able to convenience by the shelter system locally, I would not have spent four years with hidden abuse.

I do not like to talk about these topics, but I feel I must. How can I deny the truth and expect other people to see the way out? I was shown, or I would be far worse off than I am now. From some aspects that notion is laughable, after all how can my health get much worse? I can answer that question. I also look at my mind. My mind is strong, free from suicidal ideation for the most part, and it is able to reject the idea that a bullet is the best pain killer.

That does not mean that I should have to feel fear. It is an awesome thing, the hallelujah godliness sort of awesome, that our animals are finally being acknowledged as impotant. Often, if food was not enough to make me obedient, all I had to do was think of my cat and her own special needs and I would do what was asked of me, even if it was torturous to my body. Give up the money I need for clothing and food? I’ve done it. As of right now I am fighting back from a waredrobe of two shirts and four pairs of pants.

Does not having clothing seem silly to compare with being hit or your animals being burned alive? In some aspects it does, yet, being forced to wear clothing that is not appropriate for the season can be dangerous. You risk exposure, overheating, freezing, sunburn. Not having enough clothing to merit doing laundry or to make it worth the time to change out of the outfit you have on for a week is also depressing. Many women are controlled in their relationships by their lack of finance for fashion, it becomes a third rate priority and eventually that can impact their jobs, their social lives. This impacts their ability to be taken seriously and to feed their children. If they are not taken seriously during a crisis, either medical or one where they make their break for freedom, this can leave us with another statistic, instead of a survivor of abuse.

Should it? Not at all. So, as we celebrate this new law in WA, lets look at other ways we can try and help people to rise above. I look forward to the day when a Utopia exists. Man, Woman, White, Black, Asian, American, Mexican, none of these words will matter. Violence will be a memory, not forgotten but taught about with utter honesty so that history does not continue to repeat.

I have a dream, a dream for every woman who has ever felt fear, for ever child who has waited to see if Daddy was going to get mad because they sneezed. I dream that these women and children find freedom and grow into well rounded adults who are secure, able to advocate to protect the weak and the innocent. I dream of a day when domestic violence is a faint memory, a shameful one, and is no longer an option.

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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