Me too…

CW: sexual assault

My grade eight teacher was particularly strict. We had rules for how to line our paper and we had rules for how to line up before class (in order of height). There was always a bit of a jumble as kids found their spaces in line. This day I was standing a bit away from the other kids when it happened. Lloyd reached over and grabbed my breast in front of everyone.

The teacher came out with the resulting noise and asked what happened. So I told him. He immediately got Lloyd and I then took us down the hall. My stop was first. I got put into the little room beside the science room. It was probably designed as a photo lab but all it had was a stool, which I perched on.

The teacher told me to stay in there and wait until he came back. Then he left. I had no idea what was going on or why I’d been put there. I felt like I’d done something wrong. I sat there, staring at the blacked out window, and wondered what was going to happen to me. All the while I could feel Lloyd’s hand touching me.

Eventually the teacher came and led me back to class. No adults asked me any questions or even mentioned the incident to me. I sat in silence, trying not to look at any other kids.

When I got home, my Mom sat me down and explained how Lloyd was having a hard time. His Dad had died recently, crushed under the car he was repairing. Lloyd was the one to find him. I should have some sympathy for him. He had a lot on his plate.

I didn’t want to here this. I wanted “I love you”, “I’m sorry this happened to you”, “It wasn’t your fault”.

Lloyd was back several days later. I noticed him in French class and made sure to sit as far away from him as possible. The teacher told us to put our finished work on the back table. I placed mine down then a body pushed and ground himself against me. Lloyd whispered harshly, “If you tell on me ever again I will fuck you up the ass.” I’d learned my lesson. No one would do anything. I didn’t tell.

Soon after he invented a song, “Ah Kath-a-leen, ah Kath-a-leen. She’s my honey, my Playboy Bunny. Ah Kath-a-leen”. The song made me feel horrible inside but there was noone to tell. Yard supervisors ignored it and I didn’t think anyone else would care. This went on for months.

I also figured they wouldn’t care about the lies the boys were loudly telling. Claims of what I’d done to them the night before. Some things went right over my head. The rest were horribly embarrassing.

I have face blindness and struggle to recognize people. Which made the next stage of abuse even harder. Boys would walk up to me and touch me somewhere, usually my shoulder but sometimes my backside, and tell me what I was going to do to them that night. Then they’d slip away into the crowd. I didn’t know who I could trust because I didn’t know which boys were involved.

As we all aged the form of abuse changed. Now they had cars. I’d be walking home from school, or just around the neighbourhood, when someone would scream my name and what I’d supposedly done that night with him. I still jump if someone yells from a car and that happened in the 1980’s.

The day before yesterday I watched as my Facebook newsfeed filled with statuses and comments reading “me too”. I’d held this secret for so long, only my ex-boyfriend Lenny knew. But I wasn’t the only one assaulted, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Remember, if you were sexually assaulted, you have value, meaning, self-worth, and dignity. They took nothing from you. You matter so very much and people care about you. I care about you.

They didn’t take anything from you. You are still you. You are still whole. You will recover. We are phoenixes. We will burn into ashes and rise again even stronger.

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The butterfly…

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I was in the hospital for two weeks back in September and it was such a positive difference. Two doctors checked me over and changed my medication slightly. But that slight change made a huge improvement.

The next thing I did was buy a Fitbit Flex 2. I love it. It’s small, comfortable, and waterproof. Plus it automatically logs all my exercise, including swimming. And I’m determined to get my 10 thousand steps in every day. Which is a bonus because I have to go outside to get those steps. Depression and going outside don’t often play together well.

I talked to someone from the Canadian Mental Health Association about getting a therapist and, voila, she had information in her satchel. Not only that but I only had to wait a week. I talked to the therapist yesterday and think we’ll work well together.

Then today I got to meet my new psychiatrist. I liked my old psychiatrist but he didn’t think he was doing much to help me… that we just didn’t click… so he transferred me to a new doctor. And the new doctor and I clicked. We obviously had serious topics to discuss but I left him laughing which seems like a good start.

I feel like a caterpillar now. I’m changing into I don’t know what. All I know is it will be beautiful.

The hard decision…

Emma sees her doctor tomorrow about starting hormone therapy. The thing is, she’s not sure she wants to. Or, more specifically, she wants to but also wants to someday have a baby of her own. And this is one thing I can’t help her with.

It’s a hard choice at twenty to have to decide whether to make yourself infertile. It’s even harder when you’ve wanted to be a parent for your whole life. I reminded her about adoption but she wants to have a baby, not a child. I pointed out that they could go to a sperm bank to impregnate her future wife and got silence in return. And I brought up the fact that hormones work better when you’re younger and got a curt “I know”.

Emma has school tomorrow and I have a social recreation group. We’re going to meet up after both and walk to the doctor’s office. With any luck she’ll have come to a conclusion she can live with.

Update:¬†Emma’s doctor sent us home with information about sperm banks and some places to call. Her next appointment is in two months.

My heart is heavy…

So far today I’ve had one friend say that, as a white woman, Heather Heyer’s death was the least she could do for the cause and another friend freely admit she has no sympathy a man who got mistaken for a Nazi and stabbed in the hand. After all, if men did more before, we wouldn’t be facing Nazi’s now.

I look at Heather Heyer and see someone who was similar to many of my friends. Passionate about her causes and devoted to beliefs, she had strong values and was considered a sweet and kind soul. Dying wasn’t the least she could do, it was the most. She gave up her life. You can’t do anything more after you’re dead.

I don’t know anything about the man who got stabbed. He could be on the verge of being nominated for sainthood or the closest thing to a Nazi. Chances are he’s somewhere in between. The part that matters is his innocence. Someone screwed up and stabbed the wrong person. He deserves our sympathy for that.

My friends are all caught up with punching Nazis in the face and proclaiming that if you don’t then you’re a sympathizer. Which I guess makes both Gandhi and Nelson Mandela sympathizers because I can’t see them walking around punching people in the face, no matter who they are.

I’m not interested in punching Nazis in the face. I think it’s ineffective and will ultimately lead to more violence. But that doesn’t make me a sympathizer and I’m furious with the black and white thinking that assumes I must be. Personally, I prefer the glitter bomb method or spraying them with non removable dye. Let them show up for work looking like a disco ball or like they shoplifted a shirt from the local mall. Keep them from hiding in the crowd.

Emma came up to me earlier and said New Jersey had declared antifa an extremist anarchist group. I shushed her and told her it was nothing more than a liberal group, formed to fight Nazis. Now I’m worried about the path it’s going and I’m worried where it’s taking my friends.

Dreaming my life away…

My bed is comfortable and safe. I slip inside it and minutes later I’m ensconced in dreams. They’re vivid, more exciting than my real life, and disappear moments after I wake.

Thanks to depression, I sleep 12 to 15 hours a night, the twelve is if I set an alarm. Thanks to anxiety, I end up curled up on my bed… and the cycle continues. I slept 12 hours last night then, after breakfast, I took a two hour nap. I could easily go back to sleep right now.

What worries me is I’m dreaming my life away and shortening it at the same time. My life might not be exciting but it’s mine and it’s the only one I have. And, to be fair, most people’s lives aren’t excited. We all have dishes and laundry and floors to mop. There is no glamour there.

With that being said, I’m putting on YouTube and going to wash the dishes. I could go back to sleep until Emma gets home from school but I’ve got my life to live.

You are not an ally…

You are not an LGBTQ ally if you can explain gay or lesbian relatives to children with ease but decide it’s too complicated to explain a trans relative.

You are not an LGBTQ ally if the trans relative’s chosen, real name and pronouns are too hard to remember so you go back to their old pronouns and name.

You are not an LGBTQ ally if they’ll always be deadname* to you

You are not an LGBTQ ally if you accept bisexual people but figure they’re really just confused.

You’re not an LGBTQ ally if you assume bisexual people are natural cheaters

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you figure the A stands for ally

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you complain there’s too many letters. It’s the length of a phone number and people aren’t crying those are too long.

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you figure asexual people are straight but confused.

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you decide asexuals are simply prudes

Go back to grade school and re-learn that a word can have two meanings if you think asexuals have to bud in order to reproduce.

You are an ally if you listen to your trans relative and follow his, their, or her narrative to explain to younger family members.

You are an ally if you use your trans relative’s name and pronouns as often as possible, apologizing if you forget.

You are an ally if you realize bisexual people aren’t any more confused or promiscuous than the rest of society, they simply happen to be attracted to two or more genders.

You are an ally if you learn the acronym without complaining.

You are an ally if you listen to the LGBTQIA community and learn about their various orientations without judgement

You are an ally if you stand up for the LGBTQIA community and correct any misunderstandings you hear.

If you are an ally, I thank you!

Selfie filtered

Emma’s self portrait last summer

* deadname equals birthname

Anxiety…

It’s late and you’re alone watching a horror movie. The music starts. Something is going to happen. The protagonist bravely sets forward. Your heart starts pounding, you feel weak and trembling, your stomach churns.

Except there’s no horror movie, no late night, and you’re probably not even alone. Yet the racing heart, weakness, and stomach churning continues.

That’s what anxiety is like for me. It’s hard to breathe, hard to think, and the anxiety sits there like an unwelcome guest. The most minor chore makes me want to curl up like a pill bug and hide. The major chores are beyond me.

Counting breaths doesn’t help. I end up worrying I’m counting too fast or too slow and end up hyperventilating, which is so not the goal. Reassuring myself helps a bit. Sleeping helps a lot but is a huge inconvenience. And Ativan helps, but brings along a worry of addiction.

I wish I had some amazing ending to this, some great way of alleviating anxiety, but I don’t. In fact, I’m rocking while I write this and thinking about curling up for a nap. What triggered this bout of anxiety? I don’t know. Maybe the fact there’s dishes to wash? But probably not. It just seems to show up like an unwelcome house guest and never knows when to leave.

If you’ve got a great way to decrease anxiety, please feel free to leave a comment below.