Cunt.

Most days, my morning starts with coffee.

Other days, it begins with finding myself being equated to a Nazi mass-murderer by some random online stranger, who happens to disagree with me about the need and function of public protest in any functioning democracy.

So, yeah. That.

I wondered, as I stared at my computer screen this morning: why am I the one in this exchange feeling trapped and tongue-tied? Why this stab of pain at witnessing the shameful barbarism of another human’s ill-informed—and ill-intended—imagination?

I have been trying to write about shame for days, y’see. The way it clots the throat. The way it steals intent and stillbirths action.

When functioning properly, shame polices the edges of propriety. It’s the tool our social herds use to cull those whose behavior transgresses the untransgressable. But often when we speak of it this way directly—“Have you no shame?”—we are merely evoking the presence of its absence, trying to summon the effects of a boundary on someone who has long since abandoned our thought-to-be-agreed-upon rules.

Shame is a double-edged knife, sharpened even through its hilt. It cuts in unpredictable directions, as often burying itself in the flesh of the sinned-against as in that of the sinner. More often, perhaps.

Still unsure what I’m getting at? Ask any rape survivor.

Ask if they felt shame.

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Continue reading “Cunt.”

Within Every New Beginning Lies an Ending

 

The story of this blog begins, as all good adventures do, with a quest:

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In May 2012, a woman stops. Already retreated almost to the beginning of herself, she thinks: “Only death could be more silent.”

It is not the first time the careful construction of her days has collapsed. Her life resembles a too-often-rebuilt bridge still resonating at the frequency of past traumas as yet unacknowledged. Always she forges a new prosthetic self, a new stuttering engine of dreams and hope to propel her mind forward another year (or, if she’s lucky, a few) before her life crumbles once again.

She is tired of masquerades. She decides to find her own self instead.

This blog records her journey back into voice.

Into my voice.

Of course, this is simply the telling of the story of the story-that-became-my-blog. Events were actually far less poetic, and far more jumbled and chaotic, as they transpired. In a nutshell, after a year spent wrestling myself into and out of suicidal ideation, and following three serious attempts in one month that landed me first in a psych ward, then in intensive outpatient therapy four days a week, I decided to start a blog.

As a means of proving to myself how Totally Recovered And Fine I was now, y’see.

That first post—written 3 years, 5 months, 13 days, and 236 essays/ poems/ articles/ observations ago—seems faintly prescient now, what with its humorous threading of gender and cultural issues through the weft of patriarchal family patterns and pain. But my most recent post, written already 7(!) weeks ago now, belies every early assertion I made of quick or easy resolution. On that day, I was working through “yet another well of despair…another unresolved pocket of pain and grief.” The essential thing, I reminded myself, was to focus on every positive, no matter how seemingly small.

Uh, so.

Yeah. That was then.

And now? Wellll…

For any of you who read the last pages of a book first, let me spare you the suspense: neither today’s post nor my recent hiatus signals the end of Coffee and a Blank Page! In fact, once I can get back to a regular writing schedule, you may not even notice much difference (then again, maybe you will). But I am uncertain what its function for me will become, over the next months and year.

I’m barely certain what I’ve just become, myself.

Continue reading “Within Every New Beginning Lies an Ending”

Manifesting

Anybody know a writer’s equivalent to the old saw about conquering stage fright by picturing your audience in their underwear? Hmm…

I am deeply grateful to The Manifest-Station for publishing my essay “Body Lessons,” about girlhood, shame, sexual violence, and recovery (revised from a earlier blog post). Also deeply grateful to any and all who read and support my work.

Please know I am picturing all of you in your underwear at this very moment.

After my divorce, I began a long and agonizing journey to reclaim my own sexuality. (continued…)

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The Suspect Has Been Identified. The Suspect Has Been Killed.

It turns out to not be a firearm in the sense that [a firearm] fires real bullets,” Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs to reporters, at a press conference following Wednesday night’s fatal police shooting of Tyre King


According to police witnesses, 13yo Tyre King had a bb gun in his waistband.

According to early reporting, Tyre was a man who had just started 8th grade at Linden STEM Academy.

Children today grow up so much faster.
Black children today grow old so much faster.

*

At 13, I started 8th grade too. Shooting spitwads from the back of Mr. Taylor’s 6th period, were those men? Was Lance Trumble a man the day he drooled into the English teacher’s water glass when she stepped out of the room?

Was I a woman when I laughed?

Adulthood comes unlikely early to those whose fruition is feared.

*

A spitwad is not a bb is not a Glock 9mm.

*

Columbus, Ohio, is the same department that served and protected 12yo Tamir.

Tyre is the second Ohio citizen Bryan Mason has served with a bullet and protected out of life in four years.

According to policy: Office Mason has been placed on paid administrative leave and will be receiving psychological support counseling. According to policy: Officer Mason will be offered leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience.

What support counseling available for the King family.
What trauma recovery offered to Tyre.

Nothing ages a child faster than death.

Home Improvement Project

I’ve reached a weird space in recovery, where I can sense the old patterns of thought and the new, almost simultaneously. It’s like wiggling a switch with loose wiring: the lights flicker on/off, on/off, without the switch ever fully flipping to either one.

Teal_light_switch_8286690578_oOn—and I am flooded with an almost unbearable level of feelings, sharp and bright and overwhelming. Off—and the emotions are replaced with the sensation of razor blades, cutting deep into my forearms or thighs.

On—and I am filled with plans and goals for my future. Off—and I am certain I already wear a corpse.

On, off, on, off, on, off…

Nights are the worst. Nights are when the “on” thoughts are hardest to reach, and once reached, they feel almost unbelievable regardless.

I got badly triggered about a month ago and am still in the process of coming back to ground, which makes a “good night” anytime I sleep more than about 3 hours total. (I’ll leave it to you to imagine how soupy and unreal my days start to feel, after weeks of this.) When I went to bed last night—at a time actually already this morning—I tried to set an intention of committing to the “on” side. Felt more desperate wish than hopeful action; I’ve been here before, after all, and I am bone-tired in more ways than one.

BUT. Continue reading “Home Improvement Project”

Recovery Is A Staircase

[CN: rape, self-injury]


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Nathan’s First Selfie #proudmom

The first time I told the story—or, rather, tried to tell it—was in 2001, twelve years after the rapes themselves. I had a psychotic break afterwards, where I heard a voice in my head telling me it would kill me before I talked again. My left wrist still bears scars of the stitches I required before that day ended.

The second time I told the story wasn’t until October, 2013. Afterwards, I stopped being able to sleep in the dark. For the next fourteen months, the only sleep I got were catnaps at dawn and dusk. Sometimes I tried drinking myself to sleep by mid-afternoon, anything to make the day be over.

In 2014, the morning of April 30, I got a call from the rape crisis center where I’d put my name on a waiting list, informing me that my first appointment would be later that week. Panicked at the thought of telling the story to yet another new person, I ended up slicing my leg open, an inch-deep trough running up the length of my calf. I lost close to a pint of blood.

Tonight, I told a roomful of people an aspect of the story I have never said out loud before. Afterwards, I stood a long time in the hallway outside that room, afraid to come home. Afraid even to move.

And then I did move.
And then I did come home.

Once back at my place, I cuddled my cat. I ate a peanut butter sandwich. I wrote this post to share on Facebook. Then I decided to share it on my blog as well.

I’m calling it:

I did good tonight.

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When he is not the photographer, Nathan bores quickly.

[“Recovery Is A Staircase” is part of an ongoing memory project.
The entire series can be found here.]