The Scene, The World, The You

Most of us Americans have the luxury of thinking about philosophy, culture, and morality because we have full stomachs and a roof over our head. If you’re on a phone or a computer right now, you are one of the lucky ones. With this new chapter in human history, we get to flip the script on how we treat humans.


I’ve noticed internet comment sections go red with rage because of simple disagreements. I have watched as people repeatedly defend their own long-ago learned opinions about the world to the point of knee-jerk insulting those that challenge them. It seems that we are lacking compassion and the ability to learn.

I imagine a world where every space is safe and welcoming and considerate. I imagine a world in which we take responsibility for our feelings and our perspectives and are able to communicate from a point of trying to understand one another rather than trying to prove one another wrong.

I bring that imagining to life every single day. Even on the internet, where it might seem less important (but totally is not).

Recently, I was going down a social media time-hop rabbit hole (thanks facebook) and had a wave of emotion. I didn’t delete the posts and comments from forever ago. I made some of them private and saved screenshots. I keep lots of screenshots in case I ever have to go to court. Now, with the Louie CK reveal, I feel like I did the right thing.

 

When I first started comedy, a comic made a graphic masturbation joke about another woman on the show.

I called him out and was shocked that she didn’t defend herself (in fact, she admitted that she thought it was funny and that it was okay for men to talk about her like that on stage because women in comedy should be able to take a joke (cries)) and a slew of older, middle-of-the-road comedians hit me with different variations of “that’s the way the world works” and “that’s how the scene is if you want to be a comedian”.

 

There was this stink of, “This is the price you pay to be a part of this scene. Suck it up.”

 

You mean, the scene that excuses your shitty jokes and celebrates your mediocrity and inappropriateness is the very same scene that can’t be changed no matter what we try? Really? There’s nothing you can do to change it? Nothing? Not even admit that it benefits you? And maybe that affects your judgement around it?

Okay. Sure.

 

I was a month and a half in and knew that was bullshit. It has nothing to do with comedy. It’s about human beings. They had an image of the “comedy scene” that I didn’t yet have. They insisted that jokes like these were just jokes and comics can say whatever they want. “Hey, the crowd’s laughter is how I can tell if it isn’t good.”

 

Which on a psychological and well-tested level is literally wrong.

Those were dark times.

 

I’ve seen a similar rigidity around compassion and common decency in political discussions on the internet. The previous example has to do with not being professional or respectful to people you share a stage (job) with in addition to being a super sexist creep. With politics, there’s a grander assumption that human behavior is so influenced by a system already in place that poor human behaviour gets to be excused.

 

“That’s how the world works. You work hard, make money, make more money, step on people to get to the top. You earn your wealth and it belongs to you and your family and then you get to influence the political system in your favor for generations to come. That’s how you win and that’s how the game is played and I’m winning right now so, no, we can’t change the rules. That’s not allowed.”

 

I know you heard a trusted adult tell you that your entire childhood, but they were hurt and now so are you and I’m so so sorry that happened. We all share a common ancestor. The bloody men that had to literally fight and kill to survive and the filthy, shaking women that had to hide to stay protected. We are no longer those people.

We are wielding technology and connection.

We get to spread this luxury to people all over the world.

 

So for now, make the choice to do the nice thing. Even if that’s not how the world works. Even if that’s not what you were taught. Even if it feels like a contradiction. Even if it might change the world to include others in the joy of being alive. Even if you have guilt around your old self. Even if you’re mad at the media, parents, and institutions that gave you false information before you knew how wonderful you are capable of being.

 

The world is us. The way we work is the way it works.

 

Trigger is Real.

Mental illness, emotional trauma, and even regular old feelings have been so stigmatised and so deeply silenced that many people don’t really know what they are or have a misinformed and watered down view of them. Content and trigger warnings get regularly mocked and used ironically.

This intentional ignorance is oppression at the most basic level.

The only way we have continued to preserve this nearly imperceptible kind of oppression is by celebrating it. When older white dudes compare their current call-outs to racism or sexism or abuse, they directly exemplify that they have no clue what the fuck they are talking about and have not taken the time to learn.

Trigger is real.

Physical reactions to words (not even actions, but words) occur often. More often than one might think. I’ve watched it happen in people that didn’t even know what was happening to them. Lack of education about mental health and emotional trigger has led to an unsafe environment for people that already feel chronically unsafe.

So, in light of that, here’s how I got triggered twice in one week after going about a year without an episode. One of them occurred online, so I felt it was important to include.

By the way TW: emotional abuse, rape.

 

Somebody made a really apt Facebook status about emotional abuse that I reacted to with an applause gif. My abuser commented “this is awkward” right underneath me. He had admitted during our relationship to abusing me but for him to publicly post something so incriminating was a shock. Especially since I thought that I had blocked him.

It started when I saw his name.

My body started to shake like I was really cold even though the temperature still felt warm. I could see, but my vision didn’t take in any information. It was like looking at rain drop glass and focusing on it instead of what was beyond it. Everything looked like nothing.

I felt like I was going to throw up. My stomach became sick and I kept trying to get up to go vomit in the restroom but my body would rock back when I tried to move away.

After a few moments of this, I’m unsure of the amount of time, I grabbed my phone and sent a text. Looking back later, I saw that it was my neighbor (trusted friend and hero) but I didn’t realize that I’d sent the text until after I’d hit send and had a little back and forth with them.

Tears were in my eyes and my body continued to shake, but they talked me down and out of it. Talking out loud was an excellent escape from the episode I was in and, eventually, I was able to get out of it.

 

A few days later, a similar trigger occurred.

The next (1) paragraph is really rough, if you want to skip it.

A comedian went on stage for a crowd of about 10 people and told a very graphic rape joke. In the joke, he acted out raping a woman and held an imaginary woman down to rape her. The “joke” was supposed to be that her pussy was so good that he’d probably get caught because he would keep going back to the scene of the crime to continually rape her. He described how good the non-consensual pussy was and moaned and humped the microphone stand. The joke was about 2 minutes.

Maybe the joke was longer. I got dizzy and my eyes did that looking-at-nothing thing. I was 2 drinks in and I feel like the alcohol saved me from having an episode right there in my seat. I stood shakily and walked loudly out. I was followed by a few friends.

There’s a term in comedy called “walking the crowd”. That means a joke or set causes audience members to leave. If that had been my show, I would have taken the microphone out of his hand or unplugged it, honestly. The only control I has was leaving the situation.

The physical reaction was only delayed for a while. I got the idea that I, comedian and rape victim, could talk to him about the joke and tell him why it was not only really bad comedy but also super wrong to exploit rape victims for laughs unless he himself was a rape victim. I determined that he was not by calmly asking him, “Are you a rape victim?” to which he was like, “No.”

He continued to defend himself. It ranged from him wanting to start a conversation about rape so society could talk about it to him being an oppressed black man and having every right to tell jokes about rape??? He told me I could tell racist jokes if I wanted to, which I declined. Why would I tell jokes about being victim or racism if never had experience it? He did not see the parallel there.

Things got messy and I started to get dizzy again.

I walked away and found my way to my car and cried, shaking and screaming, for about an hour without stopping. The shaking caused my teeth to chatter, a leftover symptom of fear that happens often during panic attacks.

Eventually, the physical symptoms started subside and I was able to get human help.

Meanwhile, he venue representative handled it to their best of their ability by talking to him in a professional way. The rapey comic was not banned, but he received a warning about the content of his material. That’s fine, too.

Both of the examples I’ve listed are reactions that occurred due to emotional abuse trauma that I suffered as a child and rape that I suffered as an adolescent. I know this because I attend several different kinds of therapy and research myself thoroughly.

One day, this will all be a memory of when I got out of a terrible, abusive relationship or that phase in my life where I did stand up and I was constantly having to call out (over and over and over again) people that thought "you can joke about ANYTHING" was a valid excuse for being a horrific kind of person with so little self-awareness that they thought what they were doing was joking.

These examples are specific to my experience but outline a far larger implication. The things that people say and do can hurt other people and now is a great time to start fucking acting like it.

Boo! I'm a Ghost!

Ghostwriting and content creation are just some bedazzles on a resume. A thing I can do is write. I’ll do it for cheap and, because I have no education or reputation, I’ll let you put your name on it. It’s lying, but we’re cool with it. We’re in the age of the Icon. Not even politicians write their own speeches. Not even actors write their own books.
 

It makes sense for web sites to outsource content from people that they don’t care aren’t experts or authorities. They have to keep content flowing for consistency and brand awareness and whatever else. What that leads to is a lot of misinformation on the internet and lower standards for what we consider truth.

 

What about the ghosts, though?

I’ve done a lot of reputation management pieces. I’ve written away bad deeds and unethical business decisions 600 words at a time more times than I can count. I’ve told people how to use honey to it’s maximum effectiveness. I have given advice on how to fix cars and refrigerators. I have given detailed real estate climate descriptions for towns I never even heard of or visited. I have made pennies at a time for all kinds of articles, blog posts, and product reviews.

 

One thing threads all of these creations: They’re all bullshit.

 

I can no longer consume content on the internet.

I have written fake news. I have written those “studies show” fluff pieces that take one piece of newly discovered data and blow what “scientists could think” way out of proportion. Knowing what I know about internet content, I am truly thankful for print publications.

 

There was no vetting process for me. The people that buy and commission this content are not worried about validity. Maybe it goes to a room with a fact check department, maybe it goes to the inbox of a stranger that will literally copy and paste it (drunk spelling errors and all) into a wordpress that will get clicks.

 

When I see those “I made thousands with my online business!” ads, I gag. I have worked for 1 cent a word on articles that might have made that person hundreds of dollars. There is no ethical consumption blah blah blah.

 

I started writing content when I was 14 years old. I was asked to submit a few sample articles (which is a red flag, but I didn’t know that) and then I was granted access to an anonymous network of orders. I didn’t know who I was writing for, I was just writing. For years, I’d log in and crank out some garbage for barely any money. This was technically my first job.

 

If I said I was good at it, I’d probably be lying. I learned a lot when I was writing content, though, and it kept me interested in coming back. I’d research things I knew nothing about in order to sound like a leading expert in whatever the fuck.

I usually wrote for content mills. There would be topics and then lists of orders and then descriptions of what the client wanted. They had a little internet username that had nothing to do with the thing they wanted written. While most of my orders were anonymous, I would occasionally get private messages from people I’d written for asking for more.

 

When I was 18, a mommy-blog direct messaged me. I read her stuff, learned her voice, and wrote as if I was her. That was my first and only long-running private client. The only time I had deadlines and rewrites.

 

I was pretending I’d done these amazing things that day. I was pretending I made crafts and spent time with my kids and was giving cleaning and cooking and childcare advice. All things that interested me and I had some polished opinions about so it was actually quite fun while it lasted.

The truth remains: It was me.

I was a ghost writer inhabiting the body of a real person. The people reading that blog will never know that an 18 year old run-away wrote to them from her tiny, messy, sad one bedroom apartment. They might never know they were lied to.

 

I have a huge problem with something I never would have thought about. “Content Culture” has destroyed my trust in the internet and pretty much every other way one can consume information because I was a part of this culture. I am a part of it and a victim of it. It is a new head on the dragon of capitalism that is eating truth and trust alive for the sake of money.

 

It puts me in an ethical conundrum.

 

I am an online resource and I am almost always making it up.

Meet My Depression

Something has really been popping up for me. It is my depression. Suicide and depression are mentioned often in the media and there’s this phrase that kicks me in the gut every time.

“They just seemed so happy.”

We get a lot of illustrations, dramatizations, and romanticisms of sadness, depression, and even mania. They help express some of these feelings for people that are experiencing them and they also offer those that might never understand mental illness a window into what it might look like.

I have belittled, covered up, and ignored my own mental illness due its lack of representation. I am not blaming representation, but I am now aware of how sick I felt and how honestly I believed that my depression wasn’t real because it didn’t look like anybody else’s.

For me, it doesn’t look like laying in bed all day. I still do that sometimes, but that's not my depression. For me, it doesn’t look like crying in the bathtub or rocking back and forth on the kitchen floor. I have done those things, but that's not my depression.

My depression looks like 2 new projects and 10 more hours a week at work. My depression looks like going out to new bars and connecting with strangers so I don’t have to open up to my friends. My depression looks like sleeping on the couch so I don't have to clean my room. It looks like fast food drive thru because I'm too "busy". It looks bloated. It looks glittery. It looks loud and excited and happy to be here.

When somebody asks me how I have been, I tell them that I’ve been depressed. It might surprise them, it might not, but now they know what my depression looks like. It’s not all sweat pants and top knots. It can look any number of ways.

The only thing that validated my feelings of depression was seeking help. Even when I was suicidal, I didn’t think I was depressed enough because I wasn’t bed ridden and crying. It wasn’t until my dad’s death that I considered therapy and it might have actually saved my life.

The lesson is this was a lesson I could take into the rest of my life: Just because it doesn’t look “right” doesn’t mean it isn’t real. My goals. My desires. My illness. My abuse. My childhood. My homemade vegan cheesecake.

It is real and valid and looks just the way it supposed to for me.

So, Are You Ready For a New Relationship?

I got to the moment in the conversation with somebody where they asked me if I was ready for another relationship right now. Frankly, I wasn't even ready for that question but here the fuck we are thinking about it.

Until recently, I had filed away a very cute man that reminds me of my ex-husband under "Affectionate Friends That Cuddle and Kiss". Recently, I got heart eyes for him and, though I could go on and on about how perfectly I've idealized this person I hardly know, I got really really scared.

This fear woke up and identified itself when my meta and I leaned our heads on a couch back at a karaoke bar and she delved deep into me in a soft way. Her asking me how I felt about this stuff reminded me that I had a lot of feelings about this stuff.

Fear is not an unfamiliar feeling in my body. It is perhaps the most common feeling I have, actually, and it is a good sign that there is something underneath that could use some attention. Yeah, I'm afraid of men because I got abused, like, four months ago. Duh. But I don’t have any physical fear of abuse from this person.

I imagine that plenty of people feel anxiety when entertaining the idea of a new partner. I imagine ideas like, "I don't want to be abandoned if they don't like me," or "They will leave me when I least expect it," are common. I tried on the fear of “being left”, but it didn't fit right.

I realized (and, oh shit, it hurt to realize this) I have been the leaver my whole life. Why's that?

I remember early on in my adolescence responding to men in the way that I had been taught by direct instruction and by watching others. A way of having them believe I was the one that wanted to use them. A way of overpowering and hijacking their desires. A way of not asking myself what I wanted before anticipating what they wanted. Giving myself away and callously leaving the scene of the crime as if it hadn't happened.

These patterns gave me safety from them using me physically and gave me attention from men on my terms when I needed or wanted it without much vulnerability. I do not regret those behaviors because they protected and fed me.

So, what did I have to be afraid of?

 

I can distill it down to two common messages I got as a child:

1) Men want sex from you and will probably take it from you.

2) Men will take care of you if you treat them right.

We could probably spend a few blog posts (and you better believe I will) unpacking what it meant to me over the course of my life to "treat them right". But right here and right now in this fear of starting a new relationship with a person, there's a glowing red line that connects my behaviors when starting a new relationship to my fears around number one.

This especially loud in my life because I do not want to have sex right now. Like, not even a little. That makes me feel valueless as a person. It makes me feel embarrassed because I “don’t put out”. It makes me feel like my sexuality belongs to others and I have to follow their instructions about what it looks like. It feels bad, okay?!

I very vividly remember fearful thoughts as a young girl around being the one that got raped but I was still attracted to them and wanted their approval (see #2). Instead, I'd convince myself to want it. There was this mixture of "this is how I get them to like me" and "this is how I keep from getting physically harmed by them". Countless times with countless adults that must not have known any better, I deployed this survival mechanism that is as old as I am.

The rawness in revealing and revisiting that brings up fear in the form of my hands shaking. There's a voice in my head that says “shame”. An even louder voice wishes that somebody would have represented the way that fear can manifest itself in relationships and, for this season in my life, that is the voice I choose to listen to.

What I found on this deep dive into my childhood was freedom from this anxiety. I mean, I can still feel it but it does not overpower my desire for deep love and connection.

I can't say that those will be the same thing everybody finds, but I can say that if there is an inconsistency in the way you want to act and the way you are actually acting when entering a relationship, looking at what you have been told to expect or give is a great way to find out why.

Once I was looking at my long-ago learned "truths", I was able to put into practice the way I wanted to handle relationships. I alleviated anxiety by asking my potential partners what I wanted to know.

"Do you want to talk to me again after tonight?"

"Are you looking for or open to a long-term partner?"

"Will you let me know what amount of communication you're comfortable with?"

I will be the first to admit that these are hilarious, alien ways of communicating with a person but the reason they look so silly after a first date or a spontaneous hookup is that we have all been taught how to fall in love wrong.

Getting high on uncertainty and getting foggy in the midst of a power exchange is all well and good for some incredible sex or dinner conversation but it is not the way we dig deep into each other and find a meaningful connection. It can turn into that, sure, but is not sustainable as-is.

I can truthfully admit that I was addicted to the idea of being an addiction and I no longer want to be ruled by this false perception that men can only treat me safely if I appease them with sex. It is not a fair way to define men and not a fair way to define myself.

So, yeah, I think I am ready for a new relationship. 

The Quiet Girl

One of the greatest insecurities of my childhood and adolescence has been my volume. I’m sure a lot of women can relate to that feeling of being judged or quieted when they get excited and loud. Even the looks can be incredibly embarrassing. They can teach us that ladies do not talk that way. They can teach us that ladies do not talk at all.

Lately, I have been lucky to work with artists and passionate activists around rape culture and pedophile culture. It seems impossible and painful. While it gets surface attention in the form of blog posts and outraged Facebook statuses, there is a far deep root that has been touched for me.

It may be hard to immediately see the correlation between the volume at which I speak and rape/pedophile culture but the thread revealed itself to me as I worked through my recovery from emotional abuse. It became amplified when I started dating again and took fresh looks at my kinks and romantic desires.

I was unconsciously role playing the little quiet girl. I envied the girls that were naturally quiet and shy. I saw the kind of attention they got and it seemed to be disproportionate. The fantasy of the girl that doesn’t talk back. The fantasy of the girl that is naturally the prey to the predator.

Looking back and working through my past relationships, I was able to see a pattern. The truth of me is that I am fiercely independent, require a lot of alone time, and love being in front of, leading, and teaching people. I love to listen and learn but struggle to do so without giving feedback or validating the speaker.

These are truths that are present and evident in my friendships and professional relationships but have only recently popped up in my romantic and sexual ones. Where had those truths been hiding?

Recently, I went on and enjoyed a date with the kind of guy I would historically do that with. A dominant, well-read, tall, and sociopathic guy with a taste for saying what was "true" without any “sugar coating” (which is code for an unapologetic jerk). I noticed that in his presence, my voice was totally turned off. I patiently listened and quietly received information with little to no feedback. I did not feel myself at all.

As soon as I noticed, I kind of started calling him out on things that weren’t tasteful and making it a point to express my opinions. I even caught myself being a little bitchy. I’m not proud of that part, but it definitely woke me up to that fact that whatever this part of me that was acting out was needed to be taken care of.

I used to have an automatic submission to men I was attracted to in a way that totally changed my behavior. If that’s what I wanted for horny or kinky or really any reasons, that would have been fine. What I found, though, was that I was doing it out of a perception that they wanted me that way. Where did that perception come from? Not my truth- that’s for damn sure.

It came from a place that told me that men wanted a quiet little lady. A society that valued an image of the strong, dominant man and the sweet, powerful woman behind the scenes. I teased the sexual charge of this image apart from the damage it was causing in my mind and relationships. I noticed that there was a common theme in the men I had been attracted to. They did not feel smart or attractive or manly, but they sure wanted to feel that way.

Even though I could see their insecurity, I was delighted to play the role of the girl that they conquered and taught things to. They knew what a man was supposed to look like and they needed a woman to build that image on top of. I was quietly and excitedly that woman.

As I grow and explore my identity in a way that I am proud of, the things I am not so proud of really glow in the dark of my past. The way I would shut down and dissociate during sex and relationships is something I would gladly forget about myself. The thing is, I still fucking do it. Until I recognize and process those parts of me, they’ll keep happening. I am a prisoner to those old patterns. Changing and healing are not separate processes.

I was perfectly happy to not be present for partners. I was happy to believe the lies I had been told as early as I can remember:

I am an object.

I am there for sex.

I am there to keep men company.

I am there to impress their friends.

I am there to serve them.

I am not attractive when I am passionate.
I am not attractive when I am loud.

 

All of that is super hot in bed, sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but internalizing those messages destroyed my sense of identity. I am lucky to see it and now make choices about who I spend romantic time with. I walk like a newborn giraffe into conversations that I now understand I have a right to share an equal voice in.

I once feared that I would make partners jealous if I was more successful, smarter, or more capable. I feared they wouldn’t want to be a part of a relationship that they weren’t the leader of. As a loud girl constantly teased, gossiped about, and judged, I can finally step into my identity with pride rather than shame. I can also bring my full self into relationships and leave behind the relationships if my full self is not invited.

The Lost Generations of Women

There is interesting thing I have noticed about women in the generations before me. I cannot paint all women with the same brush, but it is something I have encountered personally and have defined in my family and social circles. 

I have been lucky to know and be a part of so many different communities of people and seen something in women that used to bother me but took a sharp turn recently. I used to have a feeling that they lied about the truth or they minimized their own struggles and mine. 

They have disassociated from the hurts. They do this to run households, hold down careers, or be emotionally present for their children, spouses, and self. They lie, conscious or not, because they have to.

 

Denial
Denial is complex and terrifying but seeing it when it comes up can help you discern the denial from your reality. It cannot be turned off. It is the most primitive psychological survival mechanism in humans and has helped all of us survive.

Denial kicks in when your parent is the only person you have to survive, but they treat you really poorly. It kicks in when there's a bear that you have to fight. It kicks in when your trusted partner rapes you.

The only way you can protect yourself from the psychological damages that these situations would cause is saying, "It's not that bad."

If you really have to confront the weight of fighting for your life or being betrayed by somebody you love, you may not be able to make it out of the situation. You'd be too busy crying, screaming, and processing the emotion. So, our mind plays a trick and tells us it isn’t that bad. If we knew how bad it was, we wouldn’t have the energy to fight, run, or keep it together.

 

The Lost Generations of Women

The Lost Generations of Women highlights the survival of millions of women that were born into and survived a society that was literally traumatic.

This idea first came to me when I was having a session about a female relative and I came across how similar we were. Her old friends told me about her long legs and her flirty and promiscuous personality. I’d seen it, too. Her personality outside was so different than at home. It was sweet and sultry. Just like mine.

She constantly feared I’d be kidnapped and raped. She warned me incessantly about how certain she was that if I dressed in a certain way, talked to boys, or even walked to my car I was in very real danger.

I carried that fear with me until it manifested as panic attacks (and sometimes still do). The fear is a false reality I was taught: You will have to escape for the rest of your life. When a guy says hi at a bar or when a co worker stands too close I am in danger. I had gotten the message that guys only wanted one thing from me and I took it as a truth.

When I realized this fear hurt my relationships, I was angry. My session helped me realize there was another layer. The woman that put those messages there believed them. I had to confront that there was a reason she believed those things. It might be because those things happened.

 

“Free” Love

I often wonder what a woman like me would have gone through in the 70’s. The “free love”, birth control, and drugs decade that was a sexual revolution seems like a fun place for a promiscuous girl but it wasn’t.

We have only in the last 10 years been able to solidify that wanting sex doesn’t mean wanting sex with everybody and even still there are some hold-outs. The perception of women that dress in a way that shows off their body is often used in examples of rape. “She was asking for it,” is only recently no longer an excuse (in most places).

What was it like for her to have to tell herself that her freest expression of self was an invitation for sex that she didn’t want? How many times did she have sex that she was too high, drunk, or scared to consent to? How many times did she tell herself that she deserved it because there were hardly any people around to tell her she was worth more than that?

This is a trauma perfectly covered by denial. The truth: Nobody deserved to be objectified or touched in any way without enthusiastic consent. The protective lie: I can escape those traumas by changing myself and so can you.

It’s a sweet sentiment that illustrates a whole history of women in severe denial. Their childhood was “fine”, their dad “had a temper”, or their mother “did her best”. These women may never know these are lies that they have been telling themselves and others. They may know it is a lie but think that these lies are how we make it in life. They see the denial and befriend it.

 

The Found Voices

This realization opened up a huge well of compassion for all of the patterns women have been burdened with or acted out of in my life. The women in my life have been amazing to me. They have sacrificed and nurtured and taught me so much. They also have gashes running down their hearts because they have not taken care of themselves.

These Lost Generations of Women are a thing of the past. Psychological advancement, civil rights movements, and creative activism have liberated women in a way that is more than a salary bump or equal representation. There’s still a long way to go, but now women have permission to do something they have previously been looked down on for: Suffer.

Consent culture is rising in popularity and fucking THANK GOODNESS because blurred lines of consent have ruined lives and created preventable hurt. The resistance our culture has to shift from an economic view of marriage has left the residue of what it was like then.

Women were property, men owned everything, and the girls shut up about it. Things may not be completely different, but the dialogue features more female voices than ever before. 

We can feel and cry and speak out. This is hard and still sometimes punished but we also get to complain about that. The movements toward a more authentic live experience and a more genuine interpretation of it are freedoms that are unprecedented.


 

I am lucky that my hurts are valid and that I get support to realize that. I am lucky that I lived through what I did and it made me who I am. I honor the women that cannot say how hurt they are because it would hurt too much.

How I Honored My Pregnancy During the Abortion Process

A desire to be a mother has touched every part of my life for years and certainly was exploited by my abuser. When I was younger, I married my first love with the intention of having a family right out of high school. That’s the life I wanted and very nearly got.

Through some learning and living that (thankfully) that first attempt at a family didn't work out, but I had in my mind that I wanted to be a mom so badly that I would make a child at home in my life when ever one came to me. My desire for motherhood was greater than my desire for a life with a successful career or freedom to go out at night and sleep in. There was nothing I’d love more than to sacrifice that life for motherhood.

I was two days out of an abusive relationship with a sociopathic narcissist that had torn me up for months. I found out I was pregnant. My choice was immediate, but the grief was overwhelming.

There was a loss of a child I desperately wanted and the loss of a man who had pretended he would be the perfect father. Once I saw him for who he really was, I escaped. Now, there was a thread to him that could tie us together forever. A thread that would mean I would never escape.

I’d seen what had happened to his children and how he treated them. Outside of a manipulated haze, I could see he was totally unfit to raise children no matter the capacity and I knew he wouldn’t let me cut him out.

The last trauma he put me through was the greatest trauma I’d ever experience. I had the tools and had committed to take care of myself so I honored every moment of it.

Honoring the Baby

I mentioned the pregnancy and choice I was making to those that I thought would honor it. My greatest joy was when a mother that I love and respect so much placed her hand on my stomach. One woman I was sitting with laid her head in my lap and I burst with pride.

When I was in place with good people like Ecstatic Dance or Authentic Relating Games or The Clarity Center, I’d let it know that these were places to hold in high regard and try to remember in life. These were sacred places in a time where there were few left. I know I was hormonal, but I cried when I was in the car telling my uterus how important McDonald’s was to society and what it represented. 

The night before the procedure, I dedicated a ritual to a spirit that I couldn’t feel. I had tried to connect with the potential spirit but it either wasn’t there yet or didn’t want to talk to me. I had a strong feeling part of the Karmic Cycle of this life was to lose a life before living it. At my altar, I told them the story of the father and I told them what would happen the next day in detail so they wouldn’t be surprised. I thanked God for my fertility and my ability to create a life.

It felt silly at first but it was worth it to heal some serious grief for myself.

They tell you in the ultrasound that you don’t have to see it if you don’t want to, but I did. There was no heartbeat yet. I said, “Awe, look at the baby,” and the nurse said, “Well, that’s mostly the sack, it’s not really a baby -even an embryo.”

Oof. That hit me hard. 

Honoring the Body

Nothing has ever slowed me down or hurt me as much as this pregnancy. I was totally zapped of energy and experiencing severe cramps every day. I don’t get period cramps so this was the worst. I would wake up with the sun with morning sickness and have dizzy spells that kept me in bed for hours.

From what I hear, that's pretty normal. Well, shit! The pain and spotting are the only reason I knew so early but it was still a huge adjustment. 

This change in my energy was a huge reflection of the energy in which it was conceived. Manipulation, lies, control. I could feel the intent behind the conception and the relationship I was in.

I didn’t explicitly invite this specific child to come back later “when I was ready”, as some helpful people had suggested because I didn’t trust that it was healthy for me in this life. It felt like a device of what the father had tried to do to me and I didn’t trust it.

Because of this, I forgave it. I didn’t push myself. I took baths and showers and rested. I welcomed the pain and let it scrunch my face and slow me down. It did not feel like punishment but it did have a neutral energy of “consequence”. A karma long passed down and lived out for both my body and myself.

Honoring the Father

While I had done enough healing to realize he’d only been masquerading as a spiritual person, I wanted to offer him the opportunity to honor the pregnancy as well. I am not the first partner of his to have this specific experience with him (which should have been a red flag, but ya know how trauma bonding goes) and I wanted to offer him grief or connection or authentic healing or one of those things he’d pretended was important to him.

I know in my mind that he is a sociopath and none of this mattered to him but that does not change the truth of me. There was a short window and I asked if he wanted to touch me before something he helped create left the world. His response was terrible, of course. He used a phrase that had been triggering for me in the past- something that was typically a device of his abuse.


The inner child that would have been deeply hurt by that was not invited to the conversation, though. Instead, I was feeling deep compassion for his inability to live up to the spiritual, loving, and divine man that I knew he had pretended to be but could not be. I did not float back into a place of reactivity that he continually invited me to.

This meant that our last interaction was something I could be proud of. I did not become a mess he’d intended. This justified my decision to save a child that we would have together from his traumas and the traumas that he would continue to create in me. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I hadn’t asked him to participate in the transition but I am so glad he declined so I didn’t have to risk seeing him.

 

Honoring the Mother

I was confronted with this: Does my desire for motherhood supersede my safety and the safety of my future family? Was I willing to raise a child in conditions that could physically harm both of us? Was I willing to spend my energy and risk trauma in lawsuits and restraining orders and poverty?

The sad part is that I totally was willing to do all of those things to be a mother.

It was the most selfish and dark feeling I’d ever faced in myself. I was putting my desires above the reality of what that life would really look like. I was damning a child for my perceived benefit. I was attempting to control the situation. I would tell myself ways that it could work out and they were all dangerous lies.

That maternal shadow, if I’d never seen and worked on it, would have affected any relationship I had with my future children no matter what the family looked like.Confronting that was one of the most important journeys I've ever been on.
 


I have learned more valuable lessons in this experience than I’ve learned in my whole life. It is a shame that we learn the most in suffering but it such a wonderful gift to have that knowledge through it all. From the perspective of the Heavens, it must look even more beautiful.

It Happened to Me: How a Powerful & Independent Force Became a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

If you already know about narcissistic or socio/psychopathic abuse, my story will sound a lot like the rest of them.  If you don’t know what this brand of abuse is, this video does a great job of explaining it.

You can read my favorite study conducted here and this chart can help you see what circumstances can be found often in people with personality disorders.
This blog post is just my story but that data is where you can equip yourself with information to spot red flags before you fall into the pile of cow shit I did.

Well, you still might but holy shit I hope you don’t.

Like many other victims, I was raised by a narcissistic abuser. I didn’t know any of the terms or the signs until after I left my romantic relationship. Once I did, the floodgates opened the hell up. I felt used, ashamed, and useless. I had to recover from that and then dig into my past to do some early childhood recovery.

Great for my spirit, because I get to work on that old stuff, but not so easy for my little human heart.

When I met my abuser, he offered all I needed and then some. My dad had just died, I was in the horrible habit of doing stand-up comedy, and I was fresh off a few “emergency moves” (which is never a good way to have to describe a move).

I didn’t even know what “holding space” was before I met him and here he was holding some for me. That was a feeling that he would channel for the rest of our relationship to keep me in the abuse cycle and an image of him I would cling to when I tried to leave.

This was his opportunity to learn my insecurities and fears to abuse for months to come. From where I stood, though, it was the support that I refused to accept elsewhere. It also fed into the messages that I needed a man to take care of me and that being in a partnership was the only way to get by in life (gagging sound) which was a forest I could not see from the trees.

So, how the hell did a brilliant, smart, and strong woman turn into victim putty in the hands of a blatant narcissist?



The Disconnect From Women

The messages that our culture perpetuates about jealousy and competitiveness in women had been reinforced my entire life. This made it easy for me to treat my failed friendships and family relationships as a gauge for how women would always treat me. It kept me from forming meaningful friendships because I honestly could not trust women.

While these images of women were viewed through the window of a misinformed child, they manifested in a really obvious way in my adult life. I would be drawn to men and open up in my relationships with them. I would allow them to offer support that I’d never ask for or expect in a woman. Even when I dated women, I’d shut off an emotional vulnerability to them due to my lack of trust.

Healing my poor relationship with the image of women by working through what it looked like in my childhood helped me see that it was damaging my life. Friendships are a great place to give and receive healthy support. Being able to build a network that supports me and that I can offer support to has healed some wounds easily picked at by abusers.

 

The “I Can Do It Myself” Pattern

That old story that a lot of us have will rear a nasty head in times of grief and trouble. In my case, I had gone a long time without making a request for emotional support. My history had taught me that sort of thing was either unavailable or an imaginary need. It is true that we will need it and we will need to ask for it, but it is also true that for some of us it is difficult or impossible.

When my dad died in November, I was in desperate need of help and support. Due to my inability to directly ask for it or seek it out, I was handling amazing amounts of grief alone. Boy, I thought I was so strong. This pattern runs so deep for me that I would reject help when it was offered. Except when it was offered in a romantic relationship.

Healing this inability to ask for help has changed every aspect of my life. I asked a group of women if I could text them when I felt like texting my abuser to help maintain the ever difficult “No Contact” rule for disconnecting with a sociopath or narcissist. So many women stepped up that I couldn’t even text all of them.

All I had to was ask and it probably saved my life.

 

The Image

To separate how we see ourselves and how others see us from the truth of ourselves is one of the greatest challenges we face as human beings. We build a whole reality out of perceptions and cling to them in order to survive. This hurts us spiritually and emotionally but is a part of the human condition.

When I met my abuser, I had very little confidence. I felt terrible about my body, my intelligence, and my value in the world. That’s a hard thing to admit because in those same moments of self-hatred I would try to show the world that I loved myself. A lie.

Narcissistic abusers can smell low self-esteem from miles away (12 miles on a dating app, to be exact) because they are composed nearly entirely of the stuff. My lies to myself were fuel for his insults, jokes, and belittlement from day one. My inability to be honest with myself was a huge contribution to his ability to manipulate me. I thought those things were the truth of me and he brought me a to a place that validated that lie.

 

The Caretaker

While my personal caretaker pattern is rooted deep in family trauma and early childhood experiences, there is a general blanket of this pattern that covers all women. We as a gender are expected to do emotional labor in a relationship because men “can’t”.

The lies that men don’t have feelings aside from anger or they “just don’t get it” are just that: Lies. They invade our culture so immensely that even men themselves forget their own truth. While that is very sad, it is not a woman’s job to compensate where society has failed us.

My belief that my “job” in a relationship was to take care of the man emotionally lead me down the path of explaining away his abuse and taking care of him when he hurt me. Now I have an understanding that emotional labor should be equal among partners. That is something I wouldn’t have learned if I had not nearly killed myself by taking care of the traumas of an abuser.

 

The Ego

I thought I was a powerful feminist that had it all together and had all the answers. I kept all of my relationships superficial and found comfort in my emotional solitude even when it really hurt. I knew that if I was being abused I would leave.

So why didn’t I leave when I knew I was being abused?

I didn’t consider any of those awful things abuse. I considered them what I deserved. I was confident in my ability to leave a man if he hurt me and I was confident that I’d know when I got hurt. That “confidence” was rooted in all of the other things I’ve listed above. My ego was so firm while my intuition was screaming for me to get out of that situation.

The ego had been in the lead for so long that my intuition was easily ignored. I once needed an abuser to survive. I needed them to feed, protect, and put a roof over my human body. That is why my ego knew how to make it survivable for me and the only way we can survive that is to ignore the inner voice. And so I did.


 

Every story is different but there are many of them. They are everywhere. When I began reaching out for support I was met with many responses from many people. It was shocking. Even I had the story in my own home growing up and I had no idea.

Stories are powerful. They are warnings, ways to connect, and salvation for so many people. The light that my abuser helped me discover is the light that he would dim with jealousy, abuse, and attempts to isolate me from my passions.

As one of his ex’s said: “There is a rainbow on the other side of this man.” She is right.

I offer everybody the opportunity to reclaim their light from those that do not understand or appreciate it. I offer readers the opportunity to discuss openly what their hurts have taught them. I invite abuse victims to reach out for healing and answers. 

We are not alive to endure relationships. We are alive to celebrate them.