Thursday, September 11, 2014

Victim shaming is shamful.

Recently two very big stories dealing with abuse have hit the news. First the arrest of Sons of Guns patriarch Will Haden on multiple sex abuse charges including the rape of a minor. Then the video of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiance Janay in a pretty brutal elevator fight.

Both stories have shocked their respective communities and the world. Story after story floods my facebook and twitter. A dear friend works in the domestic violence sector and has had almost non-stop interviews.

The thing that has pissed me off though is the victim blaming bull crap. Why did Stephanie Haden stay quiet all these years? She could have done this or that........ Why did Janay marry him? What was she thinking?

Seriously? !? Many victims go throuh a slew of emotions and have a journey they have to travel. They can feel shame, feel denial, disbelief. They can blame themselves or feel like they deserve it. They don't feel safe sharing or don't feel like they will be heard.

It is not for us to judge. It is not for us to force them to tell their stories or accept help. It is not for us to rail at them for making a choice we think we would make differently when we are not walking their road.

I have no real memory of what happened to me. I had years of nightmares. Of being tiny and faceless men. I have the suspicions of my grandmother.  I have my biological mother's police record from the years that followed and her behavior with me that makes those nightmares and suspicions a whole lot more plausible.  That explains a lot of the weird hangups and frustrating issues that have interfered with my life and relationships that took a whole lot of therapy to face. Sometimes I can talk about it but sometimes I can't.  Sometimes the words or thoughts choke me. They press on my chest, they confuse me, they make me feel weak and inadequate.

So please, when you read a story, or even hear something from someone, please just listen and love them no matter what. No matter the path they are on or the choice they are making.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My thoughts on Robin Williams

I tried to think of a witty title. Some catchy phrase or comforting words to convey my thoughts and pull in readers but honestly every article or blog I've seen has covered the gamut and almost all have just felt off. I feel like so many of the pieces I've read have fit into two categories. They either approach things as a tribute and a "he's free" vibe or they bash him as selfish or cowardly.

To me both are wrong, harmful, and so incredibly dangerous. I've battled with depression my whole life. Before my illness had a name and before I had a support system who supported, believed, and encouraged I attempted suicide. Depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other mood disorder is so much larger than a quick fix. It is often a life long battle. I can't know his thoughts, no one can, but I know debilitating illness. The news of his Parkinsons diagnosis I think sheds more light on his motives. No matter what drove him we must be careful in glorifying or condemning. Instead we have to focus on helping others. On his life. Those are the stories I've liked most.

To me the most important part of this is that he hit a point where he felt so hopeless that he made the ultimate irreversible choice and that we must all make sure that we love those around us so completely that they know that no matter what battle they face they are never judged, never alone, and never forsaken. We must listen. We must love. We must be the light in their darkness.

We must also be willing to talk, to seek help, to count on others when we feel lost. I've been in med changes recently and it has brought back some pretty hard core anxiety attacks. At first I was very resistant to even talk about them. I hate adding more issues for the people I love to see. And that just made them worse. I had to count on the people I love, even at 3 AM.

Be a light. I hope I am.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beautiful You.

Lately a lot of media has been about how the media impacts women. Which honestly does not help much. Either we are being shown horrible standards of beauty that are just not realistic or we are being told that they are lies by being shown more unrealistic images as examples of what's unrealistic. It's very rare to actually have an ad campaign that has healthy images or behavior. 

I have spent all my life hating my body. I could fill a book with things that bug me. As I grew up I never heard that I was beautiful.  I never heard that I was amazing. I was told to lose weight, to exercise,  to be active. I know my dad never meant it to be hurtful. He genuinely saw it as constructive criticism.  To a girl though and mixed with the bombardment of media it was enough to build a woman full of self hate.

My husband took that woman though and he built her up. He taught me that I was worth something inside and out. That I have beauty. He taught me I am amazing. To the point where I actually get taken by surprise sometimes when I look in a mirror. The beautiful woman I feel like now gets surprised by the disheveled hair or the stain on my shirt from cooking dinner. I double take when I notice that annoying pimple or flour on my hip. I no longer feel frumpy even if most days I'm in cotton pants and a tank.

I've realized mirrors are a huge enemy. They can suck confidence faster than almost anything. So my advice to you is this: surround yourself only with people who lift you, toss out the mirrors, and give media the finger. Be beautiful you. Because you are amazing.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Sibling Day

Today is National Sibling Day. I have been very blessed in that department. I married into a family of 7. My guy is the middle. I was very close friends with the 6th long before he and I met. So when we married I was added to the fold like another sibling. I talk to his sisters more than he does usually.  And his eldest brother is very protective and great at making me feel loved.

I also have 3 adoptive siblings. They've never made me feel less even though I've lived away from everyone for over a decade. I'm included in everything even if I can rarely make it.

I have 1 biological sibling. He is a couple years younger. Long time readers have seen me boast, fret, worry, and agonize at distance. I've vented when we fight. We're in a place where he has pretty much disowned me. And honestly that's okay. He doesn't understand choices I've made and I can see that. He hasn't seen me every day to watch my health fail. He hasn't been to the monthly doc appointments. He hasn't watched my weight plummet and jump for no reason but that my body is rebelling against me. He hasn't held my hand at heart appointments and hematology workups as we analyze all the ways my body keeps refusing to get healthy. He hasn't held me as I cried because I couldn't climb a hill with my kid or swim the length of the pool. Or cuddle in the same position. Or even stand up.

He has seen me maybe 3 times in 5 years. And those 5 years have resulted in a completely different me. And have meant making horrible choices. Choices to give up work I loved because I just couldn't keep up. Choices to end friendships, to isolate myself more as I poured every ounce of energy into my family. And not even into house work but just into the loving of them. The cuddles and emotional stuff they needed. I had to make hard calls on all sorts of things.

And one was that a relationship with my father was just too stressful to keep fighting for. I love my dad. I genuinely believe he loves me and my kids. I believe he wants the best for us. I even believe he has realized how amazing my husband is. We just communicate in incredibly different ways. And while it isn't his intention I'm often left very hurt by our meetings.  I know that, especially with my health so crappy, I just don't have the energy for that. And I am sorry that hurts my brother and my dad. I know it sucks to be the person cut off. Which is why I don't blame my brother. He is angry and frustrated and feeling protective of our dad. That's a wonderful thing. On days like these I miss who we used to be. Healthy and fun and best friends. And I pray for him often even if he doesn't believe in God.  I do. I believe in him. I'm proud of him. I wish him nothing but wonderful things. I truly hope he has a phenomenal life.

Happy National Sibling Day brother.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2 weeks chem free.

It's been 2 weeks. My hair is soft, shiny, healthy. I haven't really hit any awkward issues except for loss of body and it has been straighter than with regular shampoo. I'm guessing my lack of weird is from already being pretty organic. Scalp is slowly improving in the itch department. Fun times. So far I give the "no-poo" movement 2 huge thumbs up.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No-poo or as I prefer to call it "Chem-free hair"

This is day 1 of my new chemical free natural hair care journey. Most call it "No-poo" but poo sounds too much like poop to me and poop related to my hair is just ick.

Okay to start from the beginning. I liked this idea for 2 reasons. First I have always been chemical sensitive but as my fibro has progressed it has become worse. My skin hurts and burns from deodorant. My body itches from regular soap. And my scalp is an itchy mess. My second reason is the practical side from a prepper angle. If SHTF I hope to still have fabulous hair.

This pick is 2 days in. On day 1 I did a clarifying shampoo for my final chemical wash. It is supposed to shorten the transition time. I finished it off with my new form of conditioner. A spray bottle filled with water, a 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, and 10 drops of peppermint oil.

The second day the real fun began. I used a pointed tip bottle with a cup of water and 1 1/2 teasp of baking soda to scrub my hair. Just squirted the mixture against my scalp and scrubbed. Rinsed. Then sprayed my hair and let sit a bit and rinsed.

My mixtures might change as I try to find the right balance but thems the basics. I plan to blog every week at least to keep track of the progress. Hopefully it makes my scalp better. Others have reported that their hair has thickened, strengthened and the color became more rich. I'm excited to see what happens.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Most useful presents EVER!

The last few gift giving moments have netted me some awesomeness in the useful and fun department. As the time as passed I've been able to enjoy them more and more.

1 gift was my shotgun. Mossburg 500 in 20ga. I adore it and last time we ventured out for trigger therapy we took clays. I had been too nervouse to try then before but my guy is always my biggest cheerleader and convinced me. Oh my awesome.  So dang fun. And I hit more than I missed. My aim without a scope has massively improved since I discovered the whole cross eye dominant thing.

My other fave gift is my Diamond bow. So stoked. It's a youth/womens so the poundage starts smaller which it great for this girl to build muscles up. It's super light weight, pink camo, dual cams. We are going on the bow hunt this year and I can't wait.

Plus both are dang useful in a SHTF situation. Woot.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why talk about being sick?

I take part in a great weekly chat on Twitter (@writerkimwalsh) every week called #SpoonieChat. This week a question was asked by a participant. "Do you write about your illness anywhere else and if so why?" Of course I answered in that little allotted window that I do, to hopefully share my blessings and raise awareness. I wanted to expand here though.

I am sure to some on my fb I probably sound whiny or like a complainer. I honestly am one of the most positive people ever. I have to be. After my diagnosis I joined groups, followed pages, collected links. One thing was clear. Almost every person facing invisible debilitating illness feels alone, unheard, and unable to share their thoughts and feelings.

For years I'd been sick. Over a decade before diagnosis. And I rarely shared how I felt. We had family live with us who were surprised by how awful I tended to feel. I learned to hide it from a dad who brushed me off and a brother who laughed at me. To them I was an oversensitive manipulative drama queen.

Once I saw how similar others felt I knew I had to help that. I am lucky in that the man I married, my children, my inlaws, and my Mom are very loving, understanding, and compassionate. Once I was diagnosed they researched and rallied behind me. So I vowed to be brutally honest about how I felt. To show that 1: those feelings are normal, pain is shared 2: no one is alone 3: you can still be happy despite an illness and 4: to help others see the life we lead is still full, still.

This is a battle we are not alone in. And the more we share with the world the more we realize that as well as teach others understanding.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I'm Christian unless you're an addict, or an Imigrant, or.....

So the title was inspired by a post by Dan Pierce called "I'm Christian unless you're gay." I loved it for it's truth.

I saw a similar issue on Sunday. A couple things happened of note. Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose and the Superbowl was on in all its billion dollar glory.

It was also the anniversary of Chris Kyle's death.

Many on my feed felt that the later should have been all over the news. And I agree. Chris Kyle was a great guy. He was a returned soldier, a father, a husband. He was also more than that. He was a man determined to help others. A man with demons who refused to give in. And that deserves praise and remembrance.

Some took it farther. They bashed a dead actor for being an addict. They bashed the addiction as weakness, as cowardly. Memes were created that demeaned and denigrated.

Then the Superbowl aired. The usual million dollar commercials played. And Coke became the second major target of the day along with the immigrants singing a beautiful American song in their native languages.

I have never seen so much hate spewed in a single day on facebook and twitter. The crule and vile words honestly made me cry. Not for the targets but for us. Because the group spewing the most hate shocked me. We are the primarily Christian center. We are supposed to be the tolerant, the forgiving, the compassionate. We are the ones who carefully research our rebuttles to the anti rights groups. We are the ones horrified when a soldier is treated badly or a family with an autistic child is discriminated against.

Yet on Sunday I watched as addicts were shamed for being weak and stupid. I watched as immigrants trying to show pride were shown racism more expected 50 years ago.

An addict does not choose to be so. No one looks at a pill or syringe and says "That's what I want to do when I grow up." Addiction is a brutal indiscriminate attacker. It goes after anyone, at any time, in any circumstance. And once it has you it never lets you go. A smell, a sound, a taste, a place, a person, a date can trigger you. And then you crave.  If you have already hit your bottom and are fighting to be clean you hit that craving and move on, focusing on whatever helps so you don't drink or use or eat. If you are back in the blur though and you hit a trigger all you do is seek the empty places using brings. The places where you don't crave because you're there, where you don't feel because you're empty.

I know if I were at my bottom still trapped in the blur Sunday would have destroyed my hope. How is an addict to feel safe asking for help if we tell them they are just weak and stupid and deserve death? And what if the addict needing that help is your child, your sibling, your spouse, your parent ? What about the soldier who fought beside you?

Then we heaped on more hate. Telling those who did it right, who worked hard to be here, who are as American as we are, that their pride is worthless because they don't have as many generations born in this melting pot as we do. That sharing their pride in their birth language was dispicable. Yes I agree everyone should learn English. However we should allow an expression of pride in America be however it is chosen. If someone wants to do it in pig-latin and standing on their heads I say we celebrate. Celebrate that they came here honestly to seek an honest often safer and better life and genuinely are proud to be American.

Stop the hate. Stop the degradation. How do we expect to teach the intolerant anything better if we are intolerant? How are we to show our children Christ like values if we ourselves are not Christ like?

I for one refuse to be the Christian living contrary to Christ. I refuse to judge anyone based on their choices if they are living a life trying to be the best they can be. I also refuse to turn my back on those who might need help. To me that is the most exceptional way to honor my faith, my family, and our point of existence.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I'm not perfect.

I am far from it. I hate the phone so rarely call people. I don't leave my house often. I procrastinate.  I avoid confrontation by avoiding people who I feel strife with. I am over sensitive.  I don't seperate my laundry. I hate eating new things. I am overly critical of myself. I am stubborn. I probably am too honest with my girls.

I know these things. I try to work on them.

My view of family has always been that we love, accept, forgive. That we try to keep mean words out of it and if we slip we apologize. For the most part my life is full of this. Full of love and laughter. Full of compassion and understanding,  generosity and pride. I have family that love me, even when I'm the oddball. I'm considered the weapons crazy paranoid hermit. And I'm loved anyway. I have great girlfriends. We can have different views on big issues and still love.

If I make a mistake with them I try to fix it and vice versa.  If I feel like things are off it haunts me. But I tend to not say anything out of worry.

To me family tries. It is about making mistakes and then doing better.  Maybe I have it wrong though.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Feminism is about equality, right?

Recently I read this blog titled "I look down on young women with husband's and kids, and I'm not sorry."  I was honestly stunned. I knew that there were people who felt like that. Choosing motherhood is very often misunderstood these days.

BUT I thought the point of feminism was that women had a choice. We fought for the right to be seen as equally relevant,  equally respectable, equally capable of choosing our paths for ourselves. We wanted to be able to be what ever we dreamed of.

I dreamed of being a mother. From the first moment I could dream I wanted this life. As a toddler my babies went everywhere I went. When my brother was born just before my 4th birthday I was in heaven. A little being for me to love and protect, teach and nurture. And until he was 18 I did so. Even after I tried. For most of his life I was the only mother he had.

When I met my guy I knew. I knew we could be a team. I knew we could make a family. Then our first was born and I had my dream. I was a wife and mother. My choice had always been made. It was made against my family's desires for me, against what society thought. I lost people due to my choice but I knew it was the right choice for me.

As I've grown and shed the disappointment of others and become more empowered in my choice I've realized that is what true feminism is. Making the choice we desire for ourselves, celebrating it, and celebrating other women happy in their choice. It can be no kids, no spouse, no career, all of it. What ever choice makes each individual happy deserves respect, love, and support. We owe that to our sisters in this journey of life.