Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. – Stephen Hawking
I’m surprised by the helpfulness of couples therapy with M and our new therapist. I’m delighted the therapist sees us both as human and doesn’t automatically disbelieve everything I say because I have a black vagina. She hasn’t shamed me for talking about my abuse. She informed me it’s far more common than I ever imagined, and my experience isn’t unusual by any stretch.
It allowed me to recall the fact that during one of my hospitalizations at the VA, there was another woman whose spouse was torturing her. We also both resided in the same town with a population of around 10k. I hate knowing that torturing people is a common practice in American households. At the same time, I’m glad my experience isn’t unique. (It feels too heavy to carry alone.)
I did also note that while we had the same catalyst in crisis, skin color had a tremendous effect on our treatment at the Sioux Falls VA. The doctors and other staff believed her automatically. They could empathize with someone who looked like them. I was silenced, shamed, and told I was no longer welcome at the facility. Later, they backpedaled through snail mail, labeling it confidential, and assuring me I was (now?) allowed at the VA hospital for mental health care. (I didn’t fall for it again. I’m still black. Duh.)
If rape and torture is part of your story, too, please know you’re not alone. There are therapists out there who recognize this is a serious problem and want to help us while we heal. No human deserves physical or psychological torture. It’s horrific behavior perpetrated by predators. Predators choose to act out their rage on the living by harming them, dehumanizing them, gaslighting them, and robbing them of free will.
For a long time, I fantasized about revenge scenarios against all rapists and torturers. I wanted them all to cease existing immediately. I still do. I just don’t waste time imagining how I can help hurry up the inevitable. Every single one of them is going to die—fucking yay. I don’t have to give a shit when or how. I see them as unevolved failures. They can’t even coexist within their species without deliberately harming others.
I’ve heard people say things like, hurt people hurt people, often accompanied by performative empathy. 🤮 Hurt people include every person on the planet. However, every single person on this planet does not commit rape and torture. We don’t all go around treating people like they don’t matter and only exist to satisfy our basest urges. Most of us are decent. Attaching the hurt one has suffered to their potential to harm others is basic shaming.
It’s telling abuse survivors, you’re less capable of healing, less likely to remain a decent person, and more likely to become a predator now than before you were hurt. It’s claiming predatory behavior is contagious. It’s not critical thinking; it’s an alarming lack of empathy. Words mean things. I don’t have control over what predators do to me. I have total control over how I treat people. My suffering did not diminish my humanity.
I don’t care about some people on this planet. I also know my feelings don’t give me the right to hurt others. I know rape and torture are horrible crimes, and nothing that ever happened to me entices me to take it up as a hobby. I will fight to protect myself and others from being harmed. I won’t create victims because I’m angry. I won’t punish those who are weaker than me because I don’t get my way.
I evolved beyond the emotional capacity of a toddler. I understand I’m not the center of the universe. I recognize my actions can hurt others, and police them accordingly. I possess the ability to apologize when I step on someone because I understand they have feelings. I honor free will in others. I’m not trying to force the world to change to suit me. I’m trying to adapt to the world as is, and simultaneously find purpose, joy, laughter, etc.
Beating someone up doesn’t make you tough; it exposes your weakness. Weak people harm others habitually and think it makes them dominant. In reality, it makes them pathetic. People who survive the violent tantrums perpetrated by emotional toddlers get to choose who they’ll become in the aftermath. Nobody else does. 💜✌🏽
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your story. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. – Bird by Bird, Anne Lamotte
Edit: (May 9, 2020) I recently learned some helpful information while listening to Unlocking Us podcast with Brené Brown. The latest two episodes included a discussion with Harriet Lerner, titled, How To Apologize & Why it Matters (part 1 and 2.) It made the person understandable to me. I had no idea about the correlation between arrogance and low self-esteem.
Even though I’m speculating, I no longer feel confused. I now see it from a new perspective and am so grateful. I don’t feel hurt by it anymore. Instead, I feel concerned for the person who misbehaved. I hope they choose to focus on healing. It takes time and effort, but it’s a lot like grabbing hold of a life preserver before drowning.
It’s not easy to hang on to the preserver while climbing out of peril, but it feels so much better than drowning. The only thing I can do is pray for them and hope they summon the courage. 🤞🏽
I debated about sharing this and decided to go ahead. (There’s plenty of evidence to back up what I’m about to share, but I’m withholding the name by choice.) I recently emailed a podcaster who expressed interest in being a rapper or music producer of some sort. I thought perhaps some audio equipment might be helpful in learning and asked if they were interested. (I’m a hobbyist level music producer who is presently obsessed with synthesizers, drums, bass, and guitar.)
I offered to send some Pocket Operators (handheld synthesizers) and books, and they accepted and asked me to email them at another address. (I feel foolish for not recognizing the red flag in the alternate email address. If it registered, I would have realized I was being fucked with and ceased contact.) And then the shenanigans continued. My silly ass emailed the dismissive address, all excited, and in response, I received a physical address to send the equipment.
I only had a medium prepaid USPS box which I filled with six Pocket Operators, already in cases, extra batteries, a small mixer, and cables. I included a printed out page with a photo and a link to this blog. I sent it out Priority USPS (with tracking.) I got a text alerting me it was delivered, and followed up by checking the tracking online. Yep, delivered.
I waited a week, expecting it might take a bit before they could let me know it arrived safely. After that, I emailed again, inquiring as to whether it was received. I had another package ready to go with more equipment and some books but wanted to be sure the first one made it before sending it. I never heard from them again. It’s been several weeks.
I thought I was making a connection with a fellow music lover who was just starting to create. I went in with expectations of a friendly acquaintanceship and ended up hurt, confused, and ghosted. I don’t care about the loss of the items, as giving them to this person was my intention. What bothers me is how I feel about it. I feel foolish like I failed at a coolness test or something.
M said this person gaslighted me. If I failed the test, why did they resume contact at the other address and accept the equipment? It feels like it’s their way of telling me I’m a piece of shit who deserves to be mistreated and ignored. It feels like they rejected me as a fellow human, and went out of their way to hurt me. I have no idea what I did wrong, which is likely why I allowed this person’s misbehavior to upset me.
It took me a bit to forgive them, which alarmed me. I felt like a dork who gave away my name, address, and blog URL* to an ungracious stranger. Nevertheless, I managed. I don’t listen to the podcast anymore. While parenting myself through this unfortunate situation, I learned a bit about performative behavior versus sincerity. It can be pretty subtle, but in this case, I believe it’s too much benefit, not enough doubt. I had to adjust my bullshit detector.
I talked to my (new) therapist, M, and a few friends while processing. I’m grateful for this lesson and information about behavior. Hopefully, the next time I encounter someone whose imaginary self-image trumps decency, I’ll walk run away unscathed. ✌🏽💜
*When I realized I gave my blog URL to someone I no longer want to connect with, I unpublished most of it. I forgive, but I also take notes and measures to protect myself from hurtful people.
I’m having a good week. I’m still floating pretty high from Sheryl Crow being on Armchair Expert recently. She’s funny! She randomly slipped into a few accents while talking to Dax, and Monica, which cracked me up. I knew she was playful from when she once told Oprah that Stevie Nicks said kids would ruin her career (while sitting next to Stevie Nicks.)
Stevie Nicks looked so betrayed and proclaimed, Sheryl Crow! I did not say that! (It was so cute.) Then Sheryl Crow dropped the deadpan, started giggling, and I lost it. Sheryl Crow’s rap name is Low Key Loki. Tell a friend. That alone was plenty for me to smile about all week, but then another event took place. Evanescence dropped a new single, titled, Wasted On You.
Naturally, I listened several times (so far) with different cans so I can hear every detail. I loved it immediately, and the video perfectly communicates how I feel right now with the pandemic. Amy Lee has been helping me express complex emotions since I first heard The Open Door. I listened to previous albums and everything since, solo or with her band. Um. Obsessively?
I have two copies all her CD’s. Shup, I’m 50 and CD’s grow legs. My zombie bugout bag has a hacked iPod with all my music on it and Koss Porta Pro’s. Guess whose entire catalog is a playlist to help me face the apocolypse if I’m still around? Depression Management 101, yo.
I freaking love Amy Lee so much. Her music speaks for me when I can’t find the words or identify how I feel. It held me when Heather passed, and I was sure I was dying from the loss. When I was finally ready to explore the rage I didn’t know what to do with, Amy Lee sang my anger, and I was able to recognize it, name it, experience it, and let it go. I didn’t know people could connect without ever even meeting until Amy Lee.
I’m getting choked up just thinking about what she means to me, so lets pivot. 🙃 Jerry Seinfeld has a new special coming to Netflix on May 5th. 😆
Also, Georgia Hardstark (!!!) was on the new Bananas podcast today. It’s hilarious, and the first episode had Kristen Schaal (Louise from Bob’s Burgers.) Thank you, dear universe. The Force felt out of balance, but things have a way of evening out. (Seinfeld reference. If you didn’t need me to reveal that, you’re fabulous.)
I installed a bidet seat on my toilet yesterday. It went well aside from a quick run to a hardware store. I practiced safe distance, wore a mask, and only talked to the cashier who was masked, gloved, and behind a plexiglass partition. I wore it until I was safely back in my apartment and deposited it directly into the washing machine with a load of towels.
I felt a little bit like I was on a mission for the Army, which helped. I was present the whole time, exercising my new skill. It’s the first time I went into a brick and mortar store that wasn’t a gas station in a very long time. (Hi. My name is Alison, and I’m addicted to Amazon.) I scrubbed up like M taught me, then installed, and test drove my new favorite gadget.
It was easier than putting together a Lego set intended for toddlers. My apartments just had a brass pipe to the water line that wouldn’t bend when I used The Force, so I had to replace it with a bendier one. As a new bidet user, I feel like I just leveled up in personal hygiene.
If you have the means, I highly recommend it. -Ferris Bueller
Jeff Bezos is behaving like a superhero again. Thank you, Jeff Bezos, for the gifts and the example. I’m off to listen to Evanescence in my car so that I can crank the volume. 💜✌🏽
It’s okay if you cry while you watch. I did. (Free To Be You And Me, generation.) There are over 40 minutes of love. When you’re ready, the next video should not be viewed while eating or drinking anything. The actress/writer/comedian’s name is Stephnie Weir (@StephnieWeir), and she’s fabulous.
I hope you’re hanging in there as we all grieve and maintain together from a distance. I’m proud of us. 💜 ✌🏽
I deleted 595 posts from this blog today. I saved a copy offline with the rest of my journals, going back to age four—forty-six years of attempts to put my thoughts into words. To exist in some form outside of my head. To insist, I’m a whole, real person in a world that consistently begs to differ. Being transracially adopted at birth and raised in a virtually all-white community affords a distinct perspective.
My (adopted) family were blindspot-bigots when I was born. (This is essentially the default state of humans, in case you weren’t aware.) The only black person I knew was my younger sister until I was twelve. Many of the parents of my peers were racist assholes. It sucked so hard as a kid who had no adult like me to talk to about it. Their children treated me significantly better, though. I’m still proud of them as they had so few good adult examples, yet still managed to choose decency. 💜
At seventeen, military people saw me as a whole human with a right to contribute and thrive. (It was heavenly.) I can immediately tell when someone sees me as less than. The energy is fugly, and my body goes on red alert. Being a soldier was like taking a decade long break from the constant hateful onslaught of racists. Tolerance for racism was nonexistent when I served because it’s divisive, destructive, and fraudulent. It allowed me to develop a healthier self-esteem and excel.
I don’t look at people until I’ve sensed whether they’re an immediate danger. I don’t know the logistics of how I do it. I just know I must be good at it because I’m still here. I regularly encounter people who, for whatever reason, decide I’m not a person. It still hurts more when the perpetrator is African American. I’m working on killing off any remnants of my proclivity for putting unrealistic expectations on people merely because they look like me. My bad.
I’m embarrassed by how many times I’ve been burned by the brazenly insecure before I recognized the mythology of black unity. The unity was annihilated by colorism and blackness definition police long before I existed. I don’t think I’ll ever stop crying (on the inside) over this painfully ironic revelation. I spent so much of my childhood anticipating a joyful reunion with my culture upon adulthood, only to find out I’m too often not black right. Fucking ow.
(I still fall for it because I’d rather be wrong about how I initially perceive someone and get my feelings crushed than tell anyone they don’t matter. Also, change is reliable.)
I love meeting black people from other states who immediately ask me to pronounce certain words, then belly laugh. They see me and recognize I had a different experience and want to know how it went. They want to discover if it would make life less painful for their children if they moved here. (Often yes, unless you can afford a bubble, but may the universe help your kids if they ever leave that bubble. Prepare them for reality at least as much as you shelter them from it, eh?)
My parents adopted me at birth, and they loved me, raised me, shaped me, and did their best to prepare me for the world. They both evolved into even better people before my eyes as I grew up. I understood these things at a very young age. I grasped the lack of malice behind accidental jabs made them forgivable. (I told Jesus in my head.) I loved my parents, and I am glad I had them. They were terrific people.
Both my parents’ parents were racists. We visited my dad’s parents once. Heather and I were not allowed to get out of the car because “the dogs didn’t like black people.” I was four, and I remember some things about this incident. I remember refusing to look at my dad’s parents. I remember the ground where the car was parked was muddy, and telling Jesus (in my head) I didn’t want to get out of the car anyway, because it would make me dirty. (Also, my crayons melted on the dashboard.)
My mom’s parents disowned her for adopting Heather and me. Her mom died a racist as far as I know. When I asked my mom why we didn’t have grandparents like the other kids we knew, she explained to me the difference between my family and her family. I can’t recall how old I was, but I’ve never forgotten. From that day forth, I knew my authentic family consisted of my mom, Heather, Steve, my dad, and the foster kids.
Her dad evolved, and guess what? We had a grampa as teenagers!
The rest were my mom’s family (I’m the sole survivor of my reciprocal family.) The children she had with her first husband were my mom’s family, too, but it took a while for me to recognize. Her youngest two children grew up with us adopted kids. There was a clear separation between the adopted kids, the birth kids, and the foster kids. I never felt like my (adopted) parents didn’t want me. But I quickly learned I couldn’t afford to invest emotionally in familial expectations beyond my clearly defined, smaller than advertised, family.
No matter how much money you have, you’re still absolutely going to die. Please act accordingly.
I believe transracial adoption has the potential to be traumatic for all children involved. If asked at any point in my life so far, I would have opted to be aborted rather than born and transracially adopted in a heartbeat. Preborn fetuses don’t have options. I think anyone who lived my life so far would heartily agree. (My mom’s youngest birth daughter concurs, and told me so on multiple occasions, most significantly, right after notably and most shadily securing $15k right after Heather passed. Please pray for her if you do that sort of thing.)
Growing up unvalued by most had a tremendous effect on my self-esteem. Being undervalued happens to POC, regardless of who raised us because we exit our homes to experience the world. It happens to people in the LGBTQIA community, and the emotional abuse begins younger than you’d believe. It happens to disabled people and neurodiverse people. You’re within 4 degrees of a child who was killed by a parent for existing while being neurodiverse. (Have a look at just one basic search.)
I think transracial adoption is more sustainable in 2020 than in 1969.
There are a lot of people who, at first glance, may appear to be valued by most but are not. They might have white skin or wealthy parents. Your eyes don’t tell you much truth about people. If you let them be the sole basis for how you judge others, you’re not experiencing life; you’re peacocking. You’re wasting precious time trying to figure out who and how to impress, rather than building yourself into who you want to be. Hopefully, you have time for the universe to reveal your worth from within, (despite the legion of loud assholes* sharing the planet.)
When I was initially recovering from PTSD, my mom got diagnosed with colon cancer. I was there, and she made me promise not to tell anyone else. (I didn’t.) When she began treatment, I think she divulged to her youngest surviving son, too, but that time is blurry in memory. It wasn’t long after Steve died. I remember taking her to treatments and cleaning her house, but not much else.
The news instantly sent me into a deeply dissociated state. I was still raw with the grief that owned me 24/7 for a solid year. Steve was my anchor to this world, and losing him left me reeling in space. I could barely comprehend the concept of losing my mom. Worse, I couldn’t imagine existing without her: no fucking way, man. I was in my early 30’s, and my mom was my foundation in life, period.
I could only function like a robot operating my avatar from a fortress miles away. Even my vision felt pulled back; I was so numb. I remember going to Target with my mom while she was in treatment, and a woman bumped into her with her cart, injuring my mom’s finger. I had to fight off an overwhelming urge to kill the woman on the spot for daring to bruise my mom’s finger by accident. (I was fiercely protective of my family.) I think she saw it in my eyes because she very quickly turned her cart around and moved away.
Not even a twinge of guilt over that behavior. I’m not going to talk myself into recognizing it’s a little scary, either. Don’t fuck with my mom.
I tried to kill myself when I was six because I didn’t want to live in a world full of adults who were overtly offended by my existence. I still mostly only talked to Jesus in my head at that point. I tried drowning myself but was grossly ignorant of how it worked. I thought repeatedly submerging myself underwater until my lungs felt like they would burst would end me. I kept coming up for air, believing a few more times would do it.
I don’t remember how long I tried, or even what I concluded when I stopped. I just remember I didn’t want to be black anymore because it hurt too much. The only way I knew to stop being black was to stop being. I never told anyone about this or the other time I attempted at twelve. The second time, I had a much better concept of death and how to achieve it (phenobarbital overdose with meds stolen from the foster kids’ medicine cabinet. It was close enough to be memorable.)
It upsets me to remember that time at age six because I was too much a child to understand death, but not too young to long for it. At twelve, I still wasn’t mature enough to consider the aftermath of offing myself. I was in so much pain and didn’t have anyone to speak with about it. Even if I did, I didn’t have the communication skills or words. I had novels, and they held me until I could find my voice. And all the times it disappears, since.
I died a little inside every single time someone stopped my mom to congratulate her on being so holy as to adopt two black babies.
*loud assholes are insecure people with no insight who aren’t yet brave enough to work on healing their wounds, but insist on helping create them in others; and have the means to read this. The internet is a tool. Use it to heal and grow. The information is there if you put in the work at applying it. 💜✌🏽
p.s. If anyone treats you like you’re less than a person, call them on it if you’re brave, but let them go (away.) Your value is purely intrinsic. External sources are like an illusion: Fleeting, unreliable, illogical, unbelievable, etc. You can choose authenticity instead. For the most part, life is generally worth experiencing, even though it seems none of us get to play without paying in tears.
p.p.s. The inability to recognize others of your species as a human ever so strongly resembles an inability to recognize one’s reflection in a mirror. Just saying.