I Wonder

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I’ve wondered lately if I’m a good person. I’ll say it to myself. I’ll let it marinate.

Sometimes I contemplate it so hard, that I lose track of time.

Hours go by for me without one word uttered. It blurs me in and out.

I never discover the answer. My mind never commits one way or another.

Today, I started feeling the familiar twinge of a migraine.

Light sensitivity, nausea, searing pain, intense fatigue.

It’s one of the many symptoms of this mental illness circling inside me.

It is the curse of thought, self-doubt, and a deep unrest within me.

Am I a saint or a devil? An angel or a demon? Good or evil?

The middle ground has disintegrated around me.

I can only replenish the sadness.

I can’t eradicate it.

I can only chip away at how much I care.

 

This Broken Brain

 

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Part 1:

One afternoon in March, I called the suicide hotline. I had hit my breaking point. My body was completely numb. I was afraid of myself. I needed to be honest about what I was planning to do. I needed help.

The connection established.

I said, “I’m going to commit suicide.”

The person, said “Don’t do that.” An annoyed tone crept up among their words.

“Do you have someone to talk to?”

“No, that’s why I called you,” I said. “I really need you to help me.”

A burning sensation filled my chest cavity. Admitting that was hard.

The person, increasingly frustrated said,”God says suicide is a sin.”

This was my first time calling this line. I was shocked at what I was hearing. How did any god have any say in what was happening at that moment? How was that supposed to help me after stating I was going to commit suicide?

“I’m not religious.” I stated, blandly.

“Well that’s your problem.” they said, pointedly. “You don’t believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, your savior. You wouldn’t feel this way if you did.”

“I’m an Atheist.” I said. I had not fully believed that thought until then.

They scoffed.

I hung up.

I focused on how much I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t sense anything except my burning heart.

I picked up something sharp. I made a tiny nick near my ear.

Nothing.

I watched little beads of red surface in my mirror.

I was tired. Exhausted. Unprepared.

My body fell to the floor.

I  woke up after dark.

Numb.

On Rape Culture

“I thought that by twenty-eight I could stop trying to prove myself and relax already. But this fight just gets bloodier with age.”
― Jessica KnollLuckiest Girl Alive

Ani was a girl of 14 when she was gang raped. Three boys forced sexual acts on her, while she was drunk and unconscious. No one believed her when she told her side, even her mother stating she should have known better.

Things like this happen everyday, every hour, every minute, in real life. People are the raped and the rapers, an eternally grey area in the eyes of the law. We’ve all heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, less will come forward to file a report, and even less will be convicted of a crime. The news plays a scary game when they highlight the false reports, showing all women that they better prove the guilty are guilty, unless they want to be charged themselves.

Jessica Knoll played a game too. In Luckiest Girl Alive, she showed a vulnerable young adult, desperate to be liked, hiding her story, and eventually being blamed for sullying the name of the unreachably wealthy students of her class in the prestigious Bradley school in Pennsylvania. Ani is a girl who readers can love to hate, a character who is relentlessly adolescent. She is an infuriating character, a person who could be set in many different motions, but frustratingly chooses the wrong way every time. She lives in a world where status means everything, ultimately a very demented view of what life might have been like if the characters of Gossip Girl were real. People are mean to each other in this novel. Kids are brutal in ways that seem unfathomable.

And yet, this story could be real. Teenagers can be monsters to each other. They can get drunk enough on power to convince another to kill themselves or that they weren’t really raped. It’s a story I can find on any news outlet at any time of the day, and it resonated with me on how this story could easily be true life to a current teen, just trying to fit in at their new school.

I had a hard time rating this book. The content was raw, and Ani’s character was very interesting to read about. Jessica Knoll does a great job showing the naivety of Ani as a teenager. She doesn’t hold Ani to a morally high standard, inciting the hardness of growing up. It was not a fantastical way of looking at a survivor of sexual assault, and things did not magically work in the main character’s favor. It was a real look at a victim, the guilt that’s felt for being a survivor and the backlash that society spits out. It was unapologetic and enticed me to see how the author chose to unravel the plot. It kept me reading until I ran out of pages.

Ani finds a little redemption in the end, when she starts to realize what her life is truly about while sorting her priorities. But…the novel was based heavily on plot. Personally, I felt Ani could have been developed more, her story so fascinatingly disastrous. Every nook and cranny of this book should have been dedicated to giving her a true voice in this novel.

Sexual assault is an incredibly difficult topic to write about. I found Jessica so brave, especially after finding out she had first hand experience of being gang raped in high school. To open up about a topic that society still flinches over is commendable. That part of the story was done well, refusing to allow any grittiness of what rape does to someone slip away. I empathized with Ani. I know her pain, and I know what it feels like to be called a liar. I know what it’s like to be ostracized from everyone you ever knew, for trying to speak your truth, your account of things that had happened to you. I know what it’s like to have anger pushed so hard at you and to be called the culpable one, the one that deserved what was coming to them. I know what it’s like to be bullied into feeling worthless and alone. Ani was a figure what I remember from my past.

But Ani was also a person who needed people to like her, something I cannot relate to much. I knew from a very young age that people my world would be unforgiving, and that people with my personality don’t do well in society. It’s knowledge that is reconfirmed daily. I live my little life of logic and reasoning, emotions kept private. This is my nature, what has shown through even as a toddler. Ani though, she needed to be accepted. She needed to feel like things would be ok, and to feel what solid friendships are like. She needed a mother who didn’t push her to marry a man for his wealth and status. She needed someone to be genuinely be proud of her.

Even at the end, this feeling wasn’t truly resolved. For a reader looking for a resolution, she won’t be liked. She will be exhausting. Some readers may find her whiny, possibly a dweller of misery. My interpretation though, was a terrified girl, trying to find the right path in a deeply traumatizing high school experience.

Furies

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The strong winds came in from the north. The air shifted as the humidity gathered strength. She could smell it coming. Rain would be there soon. Yet, she stayed where she was, in the moment, letting the gusts whip her back and forth. Around her, wheat was snapping, unable to resist fate. She reached out and touched one of the heads, saving it from being pushed to the ground.

The field was in turmoil. Dust kicked up around her, whipping her face, causing her eyes to sting. She would not cry today, even if she wanted to.

“Are you ready?” he said behind her.

“Five more minutes?”

“The rain is coming and I’ve got to be going.”

“You could stay, you know. Nothing bad would happen if you did.”

“But what about life, friend? What about the future?”

“It can coincide,” she said, defiantly.

He held out his hand to her. Tentatively, he touched his fingertips to hers. He could have been a pianist, if his life had worked out that way. A surge of pain hit her heart, and she looked away from him. The arrow had done its damage.

“It can’t be this short.” She said.

“You know it’s not.” He said.

“But it’s not enough time. I need more to get it right.”

“It’s not for us to determine. Our souls knew each other before we crossed paths. We don’t get to decide when they separate. It just happens.”

“Our souls are kin. How do I move forward knowing that?”

“With courage,” He said.

She crumpled the wheat in her hand. The dust disappeared into the wind, joining its brethren into nothingness. She stared out to the end of the landscape, where the sky and the ground met.

“I can’t leave this place,” she said.

“I can’t stay,” he said.

They looked at each other. He moved his hand further to her.

“Two more minutes,” she said.

“Ok.”

The sky turned darker, and lightning could be seen close by. She turned her face to the responding thunder.

“It’s getting darker.” She said.

“I know.”

She cupped his hand then, squeezing gently. He returned the gesture, and gave a small smile.

“You’ll be ok.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“You will. My soul will always know yours. It will always feel close.”

“That statement makes me ache,” she said.

He looked off into the distance, frowning.

“The wind has picked up,” she said, her hand beginning to shake.

“Yes, and I must go. There’s so much to do, and I’ve stayed too long.”

She gripped his hand hard, pulling him toward her. “Please don’t.” Her voice was barely audible.

He released her hand, and looked at her. He smiled again.

“Remember what I said. Remember our souls.”

A thunderclap startled her. Reflexively, she looked in its direction. She felt the humidity suddenly sucked from around her. She looked down the rising goosebumps on her flesh. She closed her eyes, wishing for a different ending.

“Where did the world go?” She turned her head back to him.

She watched him walk away, the water wiping away his tracks as the sky broke loose its chaos.

 

 

 

 

Forward

Whoosh. January is almost over. Already. At the very beginning of the year, I thought about making public New Year’s resolutions on this blog to try to push myself to be accountable, to get myself on a track of life that didn’t involve hating myself. But I didn’t. Instead, I closed my eyes. I inhaled and exhaled full diaphragm expanding breaths.

I grounded myself into the present and secured my heart in place. I thought about where I currently am, and what direction I’m moving. I thought about the past, and what lessons I was forced to face.

I realized that last year, my heart was beaten. It left 2015 with scars, dings, cracks, and puncture wounds. When December hit, I didn’t know if I would ever bounce back, and I didn’t know if I wanted to anymore. I had been dragged through that year, and the resulting burns seemed too much to overcome.

I’ve felt depression in the past. I’ve felt it work its way inside of me, and bury my heart so far down that it took years to dig back up. But even in the worst of times, and no matter how small it was, I had hope inside that kept the embers of my soul protected. Last year though, hope had abandoned me. Depression hit me hard, and every day was a new and devastating battle. The things that had haunted me came barreling up, with no intention to keep me safe.

I don’t think I would be here anymore if I didn’t have the support system I currently have. My husband carried me for the better part of a year. He dropped everything for me without asking, to help me in my time of need. My friends gave me shoulders to cry on, gave me understanding souls while I fumbled in the black. I admitted what was happening to my family, and they surrounded me with warmth when I couldn’t fuel my own. My counselor found my heart and breathed onto the dormant embers, and helped me light the fire to my soul, to my heart.

They all propelled me forward. They helped me make it to 2016.

At the beginning of January, I made the very big decision to burn the dead off of my insides. To acknowledge my past, and let it all go. My counselor was on board, and is currently helping me navigate what I’ve never had the strength to do before. She’s witnessed me cry, scream, mourn, and accept. She’s watched me change and figure out the hardest things I’ve kept buried. She’s helped assuage my fears as I’ve walked forward.

Eventually, I sat down and wrote down my hopes for my future with what my goals mean to me. I gave myself time to think about what I aspire to be, ever changing forward.

Today, I woke up after missing my alarm. I scrambled to get ready for work and shake off the drowsiness. After kissing my husband and my puppies goodbye, I ran out the door, down the stairs, and into my car.

And after I started driving to work, I realized how grateful I am.

I’m alive today because of people who wouldn’t let me quit.

Thank you.

Thank you.
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“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love