Posted in Abusive Relationships, Adulting, Blogging, Bullying, Family, Grief, Health, Mental Health, Stay at Home Wife, Weather, Writing Challenges

When it rains, it pours…

It’s raining outside today.

The several feet of snow that we have is being slowly melted away.

A few days ago was the 2 year anniversary of my Grandma’s death.

My maternal uncle’s mother died yesterday.

February is now a very bad month for my cousins.

I went to bed earlier than I have been lately hoping to get up earlier… it didn’t work.

As I was willing myself to get out of bed I received a group text.

At first I thought that my abusive sister somehow got ahold of my new number and somehow got around the fact that I have her blocked because the names are listed in alphabetical order, but it was from my Dad.

My Dad sent a group text to me, my sister, my mom’s sister, and his mother.

He was letting us know that my Mom was currently in the ER with a suspected gall bladder infection.

She is alone because of Covid restrictions.

I cannot go and be with my Dad and brother because I am isolating as much as possible while I wait my turn for my vaccine.

I yelled the F word several times after reading the text, texted my Dad privately to be certain it wasn’t visible to my sister and then forced myself to get out of bed.

It was time for my afternoon meds. I grabbed two wrong medication organizers before finally grabbing the correct one and getting my meds in me.

I got my teeth brushed, pulled on a hoodie, got my glasses on and called my husband at work to inform him of the death in the family and that my Mom was in the ER.

I worried over the phone to my husband about the fact that my sister might now have my new number because she was part of the group text.

I needed breakfast.

I opened the wrong cabinet and tried to put my juice glass on my Keurig instead of my mug.

I eventually managed to get my juice in my juice glass, my coffee and creamer in my mug, and my milk and cereal in my bowl.

I ate breakfast and took care of some of my normal daily routines on my phone while eating.

I posted to Facebook about what is going on with my family.

I got another group text from my Dad letting us know that a cat scan ruled out a gall bladder infection. Mom has really bad reflux, still unsure why, but she should be coming home from the ER soon. He’ll update us when he knows more.

I texted my husband with the updated information. I told him that I am still worried about why her reflux is so bad all the time, but that right now the fact that the anniversary of her mother’s death is only a few days ago and the fact that there was just another death in the family might have something to do with it.

I wrote a comment on my Facebook post giving everyone updated information. (Minus my hypothesis as to what’s causing her current reflux issues.)

Now I’m sitting here writing this post because it’s #PepperDay and I didn’t know what else to write about.

I’m sitting here trying to find the motivation to get up and take the shower that I still need to take today.

I’m sorry that my posts have been such downers two months in a row now.

Today, it’s raining outside.

update: my mother is home.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Adulting, Blogging, Bullying, Condo, Family, Grief, Health, Marriage, Mental Health, Relationships, Writing Challenges

4 years (give or take)

Long time readers of this blog will remember that this used to be a place where I would come to talk about big and challenging things that were happening in my life, or big and challenging things that had happened in my past.

And then I changed things up a bit, deleted some old posts due to some changes in life circumstances, hoping that they would no longer be relevant.

And then I stopped blogging altogether for a while, although I still considered myself a blogger.

Fair warning: This post is going to be a bit heavier than the sort of stuff I’ve written about for a while, but I’m hoping to keep it to a fairly short summary of my last 4 years (give or take).

4 years and 2 months ago in November the US election happened, and, although I am a fairly privileged white woman, I was terrified.

4 years and 1 month ago, 2 days after Christmas, my parents house burned down. An electric blanket that my Dad was asleep under caught on fire. My Dad was lucky to escape with only minor injuries.

4 years ago when the fire happened I still lived across the country from my parents. I spent all my time afterwards organizing things online to get them the help they needed, including creating a fundraiser.

4 years ago at the end of April my mother was finally given permission to let me know that my sister not only was pregnant, but had actually had the baby about 4 months earlier on Christmas day, 2 days before the fire. I had not been in contact with my sister for several years because she is abusive, but during the time that she was pregnant I had been trying to reestablish contact and give her another chance. I did not know that she was pregnant when I was reaching out to her. She never responded to my attempts to contact her. She could have told me she was pregnant, but instead I was the last person in our family to find out when my niece was already 4 months old.

4 years ago at the end of April I tentatively reestablish contact with my sister.

4 years ago in May my Grandfather suffered a major heart attack, had quadruple bypass surgery and was fitted with a pacemaker. He was then readmitted to the hospital later in the month because of an infection and has been in and out of the hospital over the last few years because his heart condition causes him breathing issues.

4 years ago in July my parents and my brother were able to move into their rebuilt house.

4 years ago in July my husband, Curtis, found out that the project that he’d been working with for almost 10 years was going to be moving to a different company and everyone would be losing their jobs by October. We had a choice for him to try to find another job within the company or take the severance package and try to find another job in Utah or move back to Connecticut. We ultimately decide to try to stay with the same company.

4 years ago in September Curtis started a work from home position within the same company.

4 years ago shortly before Christmas Curtis finds out that his new position is going away. This time there won’t even be a severance package. We have no choice but to move across the country to live with family. We set up a fundraiser to help us do that.

3 years ago in January we leave Utah and drive a U-Haul truck filled with all our belongings across the country to Connecticut. Along the way we spend one night with my sister and we meet her child for the first time.

3 years ago in January, 2 days after meeting my sister’s child for the first time we are driving through a blizzard in Ohio when I get a text from my sister. She informs me that she will be moving into the room at my parent’s house that was promised to us and tells us that we need to find somewhere else to stay. She is only supposed to stay a month.

3 years ago in January we arrive at my parent’s rebuilt house. We stay a week before having to move in with my in-law’s in a different part of the state.

3 years ago in February we realize that my sister is refusing to leave. We cannot stay long-term with my in-law’s because they rent an apartment. We move in with my Grandparent’s next door to my parents.

3 years ago in March Curtis finally found a job in Connecticut. He is working second shift.

3 years ago in June my sister finally moves out of my parents house. She had been abusive to everyone the entire time she was there. She moved in in January, was supposed to be gone by February but stayed for 6 months even though my parents wanted her to leave. She had a house that she could have moved back to at anytime while Curtis and I were homeless and staying with family who never planned on having us living with them.

3 years ago in June Curtis and I are finally able to move into the room that we were supposed to be living in since our move from Utah. My sister throws a fit when she finds out that we moved in.

2 years ago in February my Grandmother on my Mom’s side dies. She had been sick for a while and eventually slipped into a coma. My family had to make the decision to let her go because it’s what she would have wanted. My sister was around constantly and was abusive towards my mother who was losing her mother. I was unable to truly grieve of be a part of my grandmother’s funeral as I might have wanted to be because all my time was spent trying to deal with the trauma of my abusive sister making everything about her. I was overwhelmed.

2 years ago in February and March my sister finally leaves again and I help my Mom and Aunt clean out my Grandmother’s apartment.

2 years ago in April Curtis starts a new job. We go from going to bed at 5:30am to getting up at 5:30am.

2 years ago in September I self diagnosed myself as being autistic. My brother, who was living in the room right next to ours, had finally gotten his autism diagnosis in his mid 20s. He and I are polar opposites, he needs constant noise and is loud where I need quiet and am quiet myself, but when I realized that autism presents differently in everyone, everything finally made sense. I finally understood why living in such a loud house since we were able to move in was so traumatic for me, among other things.

1 year ago in January I finally start to get help for my extreme anxiety. I go on medication. I go through a few different people before finding the right fit. (Mainly someone who actually believes autism is a thing…) I am unable to continue talk therapy because it is too expensive, I am only able to continue to see the person who prescribes my meds.

1 year ago at the end of January my mother slips into a deep depression when the grief of losing her mother catches up with her. I am left to pick up the slack around the house. She seeks help, gets back on medications (this isn’t her first bout with depression) and is finally starting to feel like herself again when…

10 months ago in March the Pandemic hits. Life changes for everyone. My mom must wait longer before returning to work.

4 months ago in September my husband and I magically buy ourselves a condo during the middle of a pandemic. We become first time homeowners.

4 months ago in September I am no longer living at my parents house and can now officially cut my narcissistic abusive sister out of my life again.

2 months ago the election happens. There is much stress until the election is finally called.

1 month ago around Christmas my body and brain decide that now that we have our own place again I can start to process all the trauma of the last 4 years, starting with the house fire. I have been living in trauma for the last 4 years nonstop.

Just a couple of weeks ago there was domestic terrorism in Washington DC and I seriously began to doubt my brain’s sense of timing.

So, that is an abbreviated (believe it or not) rundown of all the serious things that happened over the last 4 years (give or take) and all of the trauma that I am trying to work through now.

I felt that you all deserved to know what was happening while I had disappeared from my blog. Hopefully my next #PepperDay🌶 post will be more lighthearted.

Posted in Blogging, Bullying, Childless by Choice, Weight

Never having given birth doesn’t make me any less of a real woman…

Or: So, if I don’t have kids, I should be ashamed of my stretch marks?


There’s a quote that floats around Facebook that has always bothered me, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out exactly why. This is the quote:

tiger stripes

The last couple of days though, it hit me. It talks about having earned her stripes, like through pregnancy. And pretty much every time that I’ve seen this shared it’s always accompanied by something being said about how women should be proud of the “tiger stripes” they earned while they were carried another human being inside of them. Or women talking about how they earned their stretch marks through carrying all of their beautiful children and that they are so proud of that and that they wear them as a badge of honor.

I’m all for women feeling better about their bodies, and I have nothing against women being proud of being a mother.

What bothers me about this quote is how it makes me feel as woman who has never had kids and yet has stretch marks. Because what’s implied in this quote is that if my stretch marks weren’t earned via pregnancy I should be ashamed of them and that I am less of a woman because I am not a mother. I do not feel like I am meant to be included with the women who are supposed to feel better about their stretch marks. Because having earned my stretch marks through weight gain and loss is not something that is exactly celebrated in society.

I feel like this is kind of like the “real women have curves” type things that have been going around, and that I have myself shared in the past. I recently realized that if an “inspirational quote” is attempting to make one group of people feel better about themselves while shaming another group of people, it’s plain and simple bullying. I have stopped sharing things that might make other people feel worse about themselves because they don’t fit into what was described.

It feels like there’s a competition as to who is a “real woman”. There’s no reason why it should be a competition. What should it matter if a woman has given birth or not? If you identify as a woman, then you are a woman. No matter what shape or size you are. Or what gender it might say on your birth certificate for that matter. You don’t have to look a certain way or be a mother to be a “real woman”.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Apartment Living, Bullying, Childless by Choice, Family, Marriage, Mental Health, Stay at Home Wife

My (super long) post about religion…

The household I grew up in was Protestant, but not extremely religious. Some Sundays my mom would take my sister and I to church, others we would just stay home and have leisurely Sunday morning breakfasts. My dad didn’t attend church with us very often because he didn’t like crowds of people, but he would come with us some Sundays. I attended Sunday school, and apparently even some sort of vacation bible school at some point based on the certificate of completion that I recently found in some of my stuff. The vacation bible school must have been when I was fairly young, because I don’t remember it at all. I do remember getting involved with the church choir when I was in middle school because I loved to sing and because a lot of my group of friends were in it. To be honest though, it was probably more because of my friends.

Choir practice happened after school once a week at the church, so we’d all take the school bus that went to the Green after school because the church was located right on the Green. We had time to kill before practice started, so we’d usually go the shops that lined the Green. Especially the candy shop. Then we’d hang out either on the Green, the front steps of the church, or if the weather wasn’t nice we’d retreat inside the church itself. We had fun during choir practice itself too, but a lot of the appeal was being able to wander around the Green before.

The youth choir and Sunday school classes also would put on plays for the entire congregation, and my group of friends and I also became involved in that. These were big productions that involved set pieces and costumes and we had a lot of fun performing them.

Like I said before, religion wasn’t ever really a big deal in my household, it was always just kind of there. I grew up just assuming that what I was taught was “Truth”, and that everybody was taught and believed the same things that I was taught to believe. It wasn’t until I was in middle school and one of my classmate’s father came in to show the class something that I found out that not everyone was Christian. My classmate was Jewish, and it blew my mind. I can’t remember what it was that my classmate’s father came in for now, possibly something to do with food, but the knowledge that not everyone believed in Jesus came as a complete shock. I had assumed that everything that I was being taught at church and at home was just more “knowledge” like what I would learn in school, and never thought that other’s might not all believe the same thing. 

When I started high school I was still a “Christian”, but that didn’t really mean much. I had never really had to look at or defend my beliefs. I was brought up Protestant, so that’s what I was. When I started dating Justin I would go with him and his family to another Protestant church a few towns over most Sundays. It was a church that I had gone to as well as the one on the Green while I was growing up because my grandmother lived in that town and attended that church. I liked that church better than the one on the Green because the Minister was more of a storyteller than a preacher. He was funny and he always made his sermons interesting. The church was a old stone church right on the shore, and it had beautiful stained glass windows. But of course the biggest draw was being able to spend more time with Justin. He went to church because he had to to keep his mother happy, and didn’t take it seriously most of the time. We would sit in the back of the room by the doors in a couple of great big wooden chairs instead of in the pews with everyone else. I think it was around this time, that I started to realize that it was possible that not everyone believed in God. If I thought a lot about religion, or why I believed what I did I might have come to this conclusion sooner.

I think that I might have realized that there were a lot more religions in the world than just the one that I had grown up in sooner than this, but I still assumed that everyone believed in God, just in different forms. I had become somewhat interested in Wicca near the end of middle school, but like my being “Christian” never really looked much into it. After Justin and I became friends with John and Lauren, I started referring to myself as being “Wiccan” though. John and Lauren were Wiccan, and it seemed a lot more interesting than being Christian. Not to mention rebellious. I was starting to look into my beliefs some, but not too thoroughly at this point, and Wicca called to me in some way. I didn’t really take any of it all that seriously though.

I went through the rest of high school as some kind of weird Christian and Wiccan hybrid, and didn’t really think all that much about religion again until I started dating the man who would later become my husband. He grew up in an LDS household and I asked him a lot about his church. I didn’t like what I heard, and would have animated discussions with him about how messed up his church was. He didn’t really care all that much, he would defend his church and try to explain things better, but his religion was never really a big deal to him. He went because he was supposed to, and believed what he was told to. His religion only became an issue once in our relationship when he all of the sudden decided he had to go on a mission and dumped me. We talked it over the next day and when I told him that he didn’t have to dump me to go on his mission and that I’d wait for him for the 2 years that he would be gone, we got back together. Only instead of going on his mission he ended up deciding that he didn’t want to go to church anymore and stopped going.

When we got married, we were married by the Minister of the the stone church on the water. We attended that church for the first year or so after we were married. But during this time we were living in his parents house, who were still members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and my mother in law is a very religious person. I ended up asking my husband about the church he grew up in again and this time I was interested in checking it out.  A short time later I was baptized into that church. Part of the reason for this was because I was still ashamed of being arrested a few years earlier and I figured if I became devoutly religious people would have to stop judging me for my past.

Making the decision to join the LDS church was probably the first time that I ever really looked at or really thought about my beliefs. But even then I didn’t really have to think very much about it because the church very clearly told me what I was supposed to believe if I was to be a member of this church. It told me how I was supposed to live my life, and promised me that if I did as I was told, I would be happy. I decided if I was going to join this church, I was going to be a model member. I almost wasn’t allowed to join though, because during the interview process before the baptism ceremony could be performed the fact that I had had same sex relationships in the past came up. I had to denounce my prior behaviors as sinful and express remorse for my actions, as well as claim that I no longer had any attraction to members of the same sex and that these sorts of actions would never be repeated by me. I wanted a chance to see if this church could in fact make me as happy as it claimed that it could, so I denied who I really was and denounced my attraction to the same sex as sinful. In order to become a part of this church my thinking on homosexuality had to change from believing that people were born either being straight, or gay, or bisexual, or anywhere else along the spectrum and that there was no choice involved, to believing that being homosexual was a choice and a sin.

This was just one thing among many that I had to change about myself and my world view in order to be a part of the church. I changed how I dressed, and removed all but one piercing from each ear. I changed the movies I watched, the books I read, the music I listened to. I threw myself into scripture study and learned all I could about church history. Like I said before, I was going to be a model member of the church. I was determined to do everything that I needed to in order to be found worthy of going to the temple, because I was told that if I made it there I would know all there was to know about the religion. That great truths would be revealed to me. And also that I had to attend the temple if I wanted to make it to the highest kingdom of heaven.

Our first apartment was owned by the parents of one of my husband’s friends. It seemed perfect at first, especially when my husband had a health crisis that kept him out of work for a little while and then he was temporarily laid off for the winter season until work picked up again at his job. Our landlords told us not to worry about the rent, that we could pay them back once we got back on our feet. But when my husband lost his job permanently a few months later, they were much less understanding about it. Our landlord, a former Bishop in the church, told us that he wanted us out of the apartment by that weekend, just a few days away. He also informed us that we were worthless and would never amount to anything. He changed his mind a few days later and decided that would be allowed to stay if we could find a way to pay our own rent by the end of the month. You see, we had paid our rent for that month already, but he decided that it didn’t really count because we had had help from the church in order to do so. But it didn’t matter that he had decided that we would be allowed to stay, because we had already made up our minds that we no longer wanted to live there with him for a landlord. My father in law offered to help us get caught up on our rent and start off with a clean slate, and we asked him if he would be willing to help us move instead. We had decided that it was time to get out of New England and start over in the West. We were moving to Utah.

When we made it out to Utah, we threw ourselves into being the best members of the church that we could be. That should have been one of the happiest times of our life according to the church, but instead the stress of all the constant demands on our time by the church caused us to constantly be fighting with each other. But we still couldn’t be honest with ourselves, the church said that we should be happy, so we must be happy. This was also the time when I was constantly being told that all of my mental health issues could be taken away, if only I was good enough and prayed hard enough. And when my mental health issues just kept getting worse instead of better, I blamed myself, because I must have been doing something wrong. Because of my mental health issues, we had some problems with making it to church every week , and because we weren’t making it to church every week I wasn’t being the model church member that I should have been and that’s why my prayers weren’t being answered.

We were also being made to feel like we weren’t a real family because we didn’t have any children. We were pressured to have children, and when I was not able to conceive for whatever reason, I was made to feel like I was less of a woman because of it. We tried for years to have children, but it never happened.  We were made to feel guilty about it, and were told that because we didn’t have children our time was worth less and that we should happily volunteer as much of our time as the church wanted us to.

I started to have some doubts about whether or not the church was the best place for me, but because I was taught that if I left the church I would no longer make it to heaven, I stayed and tried harder to be perfect. I started to regret ever having joined the church, and felt extremely guilty for those thoughts. I decided that we needed to buckle down and do anything and everything that we could to be found worthy to enter the temple. Because if I could just make it there, then I would learn things and life would finally make sense to me and I could finally be happy.

But when we did finally make it to the temple, I didn’t actually learn any new truths. There was just more things that I needed to memorize if I ever wanted to be allowed into the highest kingdom of heaven. Life did not get any better. My mental health did not improve. I had done everything that was asked of me and although I was promised that I would be happy, I was finally having to admit to myself that I was not happy. When I stopped and really looked at my life, I realized that all of my actions for the last few years in the church were motivated by fear and guilt. I was told that if I didn’t do exactly as the church told me, I would go to hell. I was told that if I wasn’t happy, it was because I was doing something wrong and that I needed to try even harder, give even more of myself to the church. We slowly stopped going to church, and then eventually admitted to ourselves that we didn’t have any plans of ever going back. We had not been to church in a year or more, but the thought of actually admitting that we were leaving the church was terrifying. I knew that my life had improved in the time that we had not been going to church, but I was still afraid that we were making a big mistake because I had been told that anyone who decided to leave the church was in the grasp of the devil.  I had been taught that I couldn’t really be happy outside the church, and was very confused with the fact that I was happier outside the church. My husband and I got along better. My mental health had improved significantly. All the stress from all the demands of the church had gone away. Looking back,  I had to admit that the years that I was in the church were actually the unhappiest, most stressful years I have ever experienced. When I decided that I wasn’t going back to church, in order to deal with the fear that I was making a big mistake I had justify my decision to myself. I told myself that I didn’t want to go to their highest heaven because if I wasn’t happy with having to live by all the rules of the church while alive, and didn’t want to be around other members of the church now, there was no way that that was how I wanted to spend the rest of eternity. I reminded myself that their idea of heaven would actually be a kind of hell for me.

After I got over my guilt and fear for leaving the church, I started to do a bit more in depth research into the church. I soon realized that a lot of the things that I was taught were in fact contradictory, and that the church wasn’t in fact true at all. I now no longer look at the the LDS church as a “church” but instead see it as a cult.

I thought that when I left the LDS church I could just go back to the religion I had grown up with, but I realized that I no longer believed in any Christian religion. Once I had opened my eyes and really examined my beliefs, I realized that I could no longer call myself Christian, or even religious in anyway. But because my family and my husband’s family are both still religious it was hard to admit that I no longer believed what they wanted me to. So I would tell my family that after leaving the LDS church I was taking a break from religion for a while.

But now, years after leaving the church I have come to realize that I am not just “taking a break from religion”. I have in fact had more than enough religion in my life already. In the years that I have been living in Utah, I have been forced to live with religion shaping the laws of the state. I have had to deal with being discriminated against because I am not the “right” religion. I have gone from being devoutly Christian to not being able to stomach religion at all. I still have not been honest with my family, but I am now being honest with myself. When I really look at my beliefs, I realize that I am in fact an atheist. I do not need religion in my life to be a good person.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Bullying, Family

Let go of the guilt…


Whenever I get to feeling guilty or upset that my life turned out differently than I expected it to, I remind myself that even if my sister was still in my life, my life still wouldn’t be the way I would want it to be because my sister is incapable of contributing to a healthy relationship with me. All that would happen were I to allow her in my life would be that she would have another person to abuse. There is no reason for me to fill that role. If I’m not there she’ll just find someone else to abuse. Because unfortunately the only sort of relationship my sister seems to be capable of is one where she is in the role of an abuser.

Yes, families are “supposed” to stick together. But family members are supposed to not be abusive as well. I have nothing to gain from allowing my abusive sister room in my life. Keeping up a relationship with her simply because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do is nowhere near a good enough reason to subject myself to her abuse. She’s never showed any signs of feeling guilty for all the hurt that she’s caused me over the years, so why should I feel guilty for not allowing her to continue to abuse me?


Links to more posts about my relationship with my sister can be found on my “My Toxic Sister” page on this blog.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Blogging, Bullying

A post I shouldn’t have to write…

One of  the original reasons this blog was created was as a place for me to vent about things that I read on Facebook. It’s been a while since I’ve written one of those types of posts, but unfortunately I feel the need to tonight.

I read tonight about how some students at the University of Southern California have been told that they weren’t really raped because their alleged attacker didn’t orgasm.

No, you read that right. Some idiot actually seems to think that if a rapist doesn’t actually ejaculate, that invalidates the rape.

Other than the obvious (like how this is just completely fucking stupid…), let me tell some you reasons why this is such a horrible thing to say to someone who is a sexual assault survivor.

As those of you who have regularly read my blog know, I myself am a survivor of rape. The first two times that I was raped happened on the same day, by the same person. And during those two assaults my rapist did not ejaculate. There were many things about those assaults that had me questioning whether or not I had brought this on myself in some way, if there was some way that it was my fault. But the fact that he didn’t orgasm was not one of those things. It was only years later when Republican men all decided that they needed to try and redefine rape that the fact that he didn’t orgasm became another reason for me to start doubting whether or not what happened to me was really rape. But even during the whole “legitimate rape” thing, and all the mess that followed this was never actually said. It was something that I myself thought about after listening to some of things that were being said about what was and wasn’t rape. And I worked through it and once again assured myself that what happened to me was in fact rape, and that I wasn’t overreacting.

And then tonight I see that someone has actually told someone else that an attacker not achieving orgasm makes what happened to them not rape. And even though I had already worked through my doubt on this point earlier, all the shame and guilt and uncertainty came flooding back.  And this was after I had had years to deal with the original self doubt and shame and admit that I had actually been raped.

Now imagine what something like that would do to someone who had just been sexually violated. Someone who had worked up the courage to actually report what happened to them only to be told that what they just suffered through wasn’t really rape because it was missing one element. A technicality, really, that invalidates the rape. Like it’s some fucking court case and not a violent assault on a woman that will scar her for the rest of her life.

But that wasn’t all that I read. I also read about how campus police had the audacity to tell a sexual assault survivor that women should not “go out, get drunk and expect not to get raped.”

Now, I know that this is an old argument made by people who seem to think that the victim is always to blame in some way for their own attacks. But that doesn’t make me any less pissed off about reading that campus police would say this to some poor woman after she had the courage to report her attack.

If this is how people are treated when they actually report their attack, is it any wonder that the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported?

I never reported mine.

We seem to have a situation where women are automatically assumed to be lying when they report having been sexually assaulted. No one should be accused of being a rapist if they haven’t actually raped anyone, but coming at it from the standpoint of assuming that woman doing the reporting is guilty of lying is not the way to go about protecting anyone.

Yes, there are women who lie about being sexually assaulted. Why? Because women are human, and some humans just suck. But just because some women have lied, that doesn’t mean that every single woman should now automatically be viewed as a liar. And I really doubt that the number of false reports that have been filed justifies the number of women making reports who are being viewed with more suspicion than the men that they are making a report on.

Here’s what should happen every time that a woman comes in to report a sexual assault. Her complaint should be taken seriously. An investigation should be done. If you do happen to find that the woman was not in fact assaulted, charge her with filing a false police report and whatever other crimes she may have committed. Make her pay back the expenses of the investigation.

If a woman accuses someone falsely, punish her. But don’t punish every single woman that finds herself in the horrible situation of having to admit to being the victim of a sexual assault by automatically labeling her a liar and giving her more reasons to blame herself for the awful thing that just happened to her. Because I guarantee she’s already got a bunch of reasons why she feels that she herself should be blamed in some way that she is already struggling with. She doesn’t need any help from you in that department.

Posted in Bullying, Family, Keeping my promises, Mental Health

Keeping my promises, part 7…

Previous “Keeping my promises” post can be found here.

I had just been arrested because the police thought I was running a prostitution ring at my high school by a detective who I thought was going to help me get away from a guy that was bad news. Then immediately after being arrested was transferred via ambulance to a local hospital because the police had lied to my parents and told them that I had threatened to kill myself. I waited around for hours to be seen by somebody and eventually was left waiting alone because it was the middle of the night and my parents had to go home and take care of my siblings. I was told to go and lie down on one of the beds that were separated by thin walls and continue to wait for the doctor to be able to see me. That was when the drunk lady in the little bed alcove next to mine started screaming and cursing at the top of her lungs. Nobody had told me that this was not actually the psych ward, it was probably actually more like a “drunk tank” type area, but since I had no idea what was going on I started to panic. Especially after I got up and talked to the lady at the counter behind the glass about the screaming lady and she basically told me to just go and lie down again. I was afraid that right there in that room with the hospital beds in little alcoves and the little waiting area with all the plastic chairs, and my drunk screaming neighbor, right there was where I was going to be forced to stay for some undetermined amount of time. That this was my final destination. I was terrified and nobody would tell me what was going on.

I was so relieved when the doctor finally showed up to talk with me and I was told that I was going to be transferred to the pediatric psychiatric ward of another hospital. I had another short ambulance ride and arrived at the mental hospital at around 3 am or so. I was on suicide watch for the first night and had to be watched by someone at all times. Someone sat in a chair in my doorway and watched me sleep. I was awoken at 6 am (after only have arrived at around 3 am) to go and have some blood tests done and go and speak with another doctor. I don’t remember much about this, it was a fuzzy blur. After talking with the doctor I was allowed to go back to sleep.

When I was awoken again later on the reality of my situation hit me. I had been arrested for something I didn’t do and was now locked away in some mental hospital for an unspecified amount of time. I was told that they were going to let me get away with not following the schedule that day since it was my first day, but that I was going to be expected to start following it soon. I then met my fellow patients. Luckily they were all very nice and gave me a lot of space at first. I was given a tour of the space, and although I really didn’t want to be there I had to admit that it was at least an improvement over the “drunk tank” from the night before. I was taken off suicide watch by that first night and was assigned a roommate. I can’t for the life of me remember her name now, but we had an instant connection and wondered if perhaps we might have met each other at some point when we were much younger.

I quickly fell into the routine and got to know and like a lot of my fellow patients. At some point my parents stopped by and dropped off some stuff from home for me including my toe socks, my Walkman and some of my cassette tapes (this was before mp3s), and some of my stuffed animals. I walked around with a teddy bear constantly in my arms the entire rest of my stay. At some point the doctors informed me that they believed that I was bipolar and that I was going to be taken off of the Zoloft that I had been taking and be started on a different medication. I don’t remember when it was that I found out that I never should have been on the Zoloft in the first place, it might have been later on after leaving the hospital. Zoloft is not meant for people with bipolar disorder, in fact it tends to make people with bipolar disorder worse. And instead of listening to me when I kept telling her that the medication wasn’t working, my therapist just kept upping the dosage. When I got out of the hospital I had to find a new therapist, because my old one decided that she couldn’t be my doctor anymore… I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that she had me on an extremely high dosage of a medication that could have caused me to have suicidal thoughts or actions?

I don’t remember how long I was in the hospital. It was at least a couple of weeks. I can still remember how happy I was just to be allowed to go down to the cafeteria for meals instead of having to stay on the ward. Or when I was allowed to go outside for a little bit after some group therapy sessions that I had been cleared to attend that were held in another area of the hospital. After finally being released from the hospital I still had to attend outpatient group therapy sessions at the hospital for a while. And then I was finally free.

But then the reality of what had happened while I was in the hospital set in. I lived in a small New England town and news of my arrest had spread. Reporters had been calling or showing up outside my house. And the worst part was that even though I was still a minor they used both my name and my picture on the evening news. Everybody knew what I had been arrested for, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t true. Luckily I was given a private tutor in order to try and get caught up on all the school work that I had missed while I was in the hospital and didn’t have to return to school right away.

I had to appear in court before a judge at the same time as Antonio because we had both been charged together. And even though I had actually done nothing wrong, and was trying to get Antonio out of my life when this whole mess blew up in my face we were both given the same sentence. A bunch of hours of community service and probation. I was lucky that I was a minor, because since I stayed out of trouble my record was wiped clean once I turned 18.

The real punishment came when I returned to school though. The kids were cruel. They all knew what had happened to me, and since it fit into their view of me already, completely believed that I had become a prostitute and was trying to lead a prostitution ring in the school. There was a day when in one of my social studies classes (a class about the 60’s) we were watching a video. Something was said about prostitution and one the girls in my class yelled out my last name. The teacher did nothing and I had to go up to her at the end of the class and point out to her that she needed to control her students better. The girl claimed that she didn’t realize that I was in the room, which was a lie, and completely irrelevant. She never should have done it in the first place. This was just one example of what my high school life had become, but luckily I had started dating the man who later became my husband before returning to school. He helped me deal with all the idiots and just make it through the end of the school year and the year after that. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

And I think that I have now finally come to the end of my long and rambling story.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Bullying, Family, Keeping my promises, Mental Health

Keeping my promises, part 6…

Previous “Keeping my promises” posts can be found here.

My junior year of high school was a rough one for me. Not only was Justin no longer in school with me, but he was no longer dating me either. I tried to pick up old friendships that I had somewhat neglected while dating Justin, and for the most part my friends were happy to have me back. They were all happy that I was no longer with Justin, seeing as none of them had liked me dating him from the beginning. They had no idea how hard of a time I was still having with losing him. You don’t have a close to 2 year relationship with someone and then just get over them immediately after you split up. Justin had been my world, and I was having a hard time navigating my life after suddenly finding myself alone again.

I dated a few people, trying to move on from Justin. But none of the relationships lasted very long, and after splitting up with my latest boyfriend I was back to missing Justin and wishing for him back in my life. It was during this time that a new student named Antonio moved into my hometown and started attending my high school. The girls in my group were intrigued by this new guy and he ended up becoming our friend. When he started talking about how he was a “pimp” we didn’t think he was being serious, and we started joking with him about becoming his “girls”. We thought that it was funny and never really thought that it would amount to anything, but we made the mistake of writing him a note (this was back before cellphones) talking about prices for services and joked that we weren’t “cheap whores”. Like I said, we all thought it was a joke and never intended to actually perform any of these services that we had listed prices for. We found it exciting that this guy found us attractive and that he thought others would find us attractive too. We were all sophomores and juniors in high school happy for the attention that this guy (a junior himself) was giving us. I ended up hanging out with him alone after school a couple of times. He had his own car and offered to drive me home. Things started to get weird one afternoon while I was hanging out with him though. He stopped by another boy from my high school’s house and we went inside for a few minutes. There were a few guys hanging out in the living room and Antonio started talking to them about his prostitution idea, and pointed to me as a example of what he’d have to offer. I should have known to run from this guy at this point, but I was not in my right mind. By this point my dosage on my Zoloft had been upped by quite a bit, and my decision making skills and impulse control were significantly decreased. I was probably in a full blown manic state at this point, but wouldn’t know that until a month or so later. So I didn’t run, and when Antonio drove me to a secluded spot and we parked there talking I decided to try and pursue the possibility of having him as my boyfriend. He said that he would not be tied down, but he had also talked about wanting to “test the merchandise” for all his “girls”. So I decided to go for broke and see if sex with me would convince him that I was worth being with and we had sex right there in the backseat of his car.

My experiment didn’t work, and I wasn’t the only one who had sex with him trying to convince him to date them either. We didn’t really have any contact over Winter break, and when I got back from break I had come to my senses somewhat. I decided that he really was serious about his prostitution idea and that my friends and I needed to get as far away from this guy as we could. But one of my friends who had also had sex with him couldn’t be convinced that this guy was bad news. She had fallen for him and wouldn’t believe that he wasn’t going to start dating her. Unfortunately, our discussion about Antonio was happening in a classroom and the teacher decided to send us to the dean’s office to try and help us sort the whole mess out. One of my other friends and I told the dean about Antonio and how we just wanted for him to leave us alone now, and we thought that he would help us out. (My other friend was still upset though, and still couldn’t see that this guy for who he was.) Next thing I knew I was having an interview, without my parents present, with a detective in an office at my school. I was under the impression that he was there to help us, and so I was honest with him. I told him that we had joked with Antonio about prostitution. And that, yes, some of us had slept with him. But we had never actually done anything with anyone else, and that we were never really serious about it. I was the oldest girl out of the group and I told the detective that I felt that I needed to protect my younger friends from Antonio… only I made an unfortunate choice of words at this point… I called them “my girls”. I didn’t realize at the time how big of a mistake this was. But I know that I told both the dean and the detective that I wanted Antonio to leave me and my friends alone, and that I no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. But by that point it was already too late. More interviews followed, and I still thought that this detective was going to help me out. Right up until the day that he was scheduled to come by my house for another interview. Before the time that he was supposed to arrive he called my house and told me that I needed to come down to the station. I don’t remember if he made it clear over the phone that I was going to be arrested, but it was made abundantly clear once we got down to the station. I was being arrested for running a prostitution ring at my high school. You see, Antonio had saved that note that we had written joking about price lists and showed it to the detective. I figure that the detective looked at that, plus the fact that I slept with Antonio, and then decided to misinterpret my having called my girl-friends “my girls” at one point during my interview and see me as some sort of high school prostitution ring madam. Never mind the fact that this whole mess started because we went to the dean for help in getting away from a situation that we belatedly realized was very, very bad. Or the fact that absolutely nothing criminal happened. No sex acts were performed in exchange for money. The system failed.

My mother was the one that drove me down to the police station and I remember her bursting out in tears and me being annoyed with her. I think I might have even said something to her about stopping crying, but the reality of my situation still hadn’t set in for me yet at this point.

It became very real when they brought me back to a room and took my mugshot pictures and fingerprints and then locked me in the little cell in one corner of the room. Then as I was sitting there on the little bolted to the ground stool in the cell in shock they started asking me more questions. I don’t remember all of the questions that I was asked, but one of them was about if I had ever felt suicidal. I was honest and told them that I had been suicidal in the past. They also asked how I was feeling right then, and I answered honestly again by telling them that I didn’t know. The next thing I knew they had decided that I needed to be admitted to a mental hospital. (I found out later that they had told my parents that I had threatened to kill myself. Which was not true at all.) They called an ambulance for transport and I was driven to a nearby hospital where my parents met me. We waited around for hours for a doctor to come and talk with me. We eventually found out that at some point earlier I had apparently accidentally been discharged. The waiting continued and then my parents and I were eventually moved to another area of the hospital to wait for the doctor to talk with me. It had become really late at night, and my parents had to go home to my younger siblings. So I was left there to wait by myself. I was told to go lay down on one of the beds that were separated by thin walls for a while. That’s when one of the scariest nights of my life started.

To be continued…

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Blogging, Bullying, Family, Keeping my promises, Mental Health

Keeping my promises, part 2…

You can read part one here.

Not only did I get in trouble with my parents for skipping school that day, but I also got in trouble with the school. I ended up getting detention after school. It was in that detention that I met the boy who would factor heavily into my life spiraling out of control a couple years later. His name was Justin.

At first we were just friends. We would hang out after detention waiting for our rides home and talk. One time we were talking about what brought us to detention, and I admitted for one of the first times that I had been raped. He was upset about what had happened to me. 

We would see each other in the hallways between classes and stop and talk for a bit, but that was all there was until we started talking on the phone. At some point he became more than just a friend to me and I started to try to talk him into dating me. He was interested in some other girls at the time though, so he was reluctant to date me just then. But we continued to talk on the phone, and one day I went over to his house to hang out. We were in his room, listening to Led Zeppelin on an actual record player and then he kissed me.

You would think that that would be when we started dating, but you’d be wrong. Even after that I had to bug him about being my boyfriend, he still thought that he might have a chance with one of the other girls he was interested in. One afternoon while we were hanging out he finally made a decision though. He had been quiet for a while and I was sitting there letting him think, and then all of a sudden he said “Fuck the other girls, I love you.” And then he kissed me.

From that afternoon on for the next 2 or so years, we were inseparable. If we weren’t actually physically together, we were on the phone with each other, if we weren’t at school or work. I was in love, and I had fallen hard.

Things were good at first. He was sweet and loving, but slowly things started to sour. My friends weren’t happy with my relationship with him, but I couldn’t see why. They felt like I spent too much time with him, that it wasn’t healthy, and that he really wasn’t a good guy. Looking back now, I can say that my friends were right.

It was the fact that he said at one point that he wasn’t sure if he could call me beautiful. Then there was the fact that he would keep track of sexual acts and tell me when I owed him something. And then toward the end the fact that he thought that he could have sex with me whenever he wanted it, no matter what I thought, without even asking first. He was the first guy that I told about being raped, and he saw no problem in raping me himself.

And even with all of this, I still stayed with him. I thought that I wanted to stay with him forever. But he had other plans. He decided that he no longer wanted to date me the summer after he graduated high school. The summer in between my sophomore and junior years of high school.

I had just come back from a weekend family vacation and we were hanging out at his house. Everything was fine and normal, until all of a sudden he tells me that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. I lost it. I cried and begged and pleaded with him, but he wouldn’t change his mind. I remember that he went downstairs to have dinner with his family and left me alone in his bedroom. I don’t remember if I actually hurt myself or not, but when he came back he found me contemplating trying to commit suicide with the only sharp object that I could find in the room, some pushpins. I eventually calmed down some and he claimed that we could still be friends, that we would still be best friends. He even came over to my house the next day. But then everything fell apart.

While he was at my house, we ended up making out and I was hopeful that I might actually be able to convince him to change his mind. And then the phone rang, and it was for him, and he was leaving to go and hang out with some of his friends. And then he was gone. There was no friendship, he was just gone. One day we were talking about our future together and the next he was no longer a part of my life.

I couldn’t accept that he wasn’t coming back though. I was obsessed with finding some way to get him back. I had grown obsessed with him. He left, and my entire life fell apart around me.

To be continued…

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Blogging, Bullying, Mental Health, School Violence

Toxic masculinity and our rape culture…

So, I just finished reading this article that one of my Facebook friends shared. It was talking about the  juvenile court case in Steubenville, Ohio where 2 young football players “carried the unconscious body of a local girl from party to party, violating her in ways you’d probably prefer not to think about.” The defense is arguing that this young girl, who was either fully or mostly unconscious the entire time, wasn’t raped because “she didn’t affirmatively say no.” …Excuse me?! I’m sorry, was the fact that she wasn’t conscious not clear enough?! This isn’t the way this works, you don’t get to just go and do whatever you want as long as the girl doesn’t “affirmatively say no.” You need to get consent. You need to be given permission. You are not entitled to do whatever you want to someone as long as they can’t say no. 

If someone is in a position where they cannot say no, and you “have sex” with them, that is rape.

Then of course there are the people in the community that are blaming the victim. Suggesting that she “put herself in a position to be violated.” … Oh, well then, in that case… that totally excuses the boys for violating her. Because never mind the fact that someone violating someone else is always wrong. No matter what the girl did or didn’t do, the boys should not have done what they did.

No one asks to be violated.

There is no “putting yourself in a position to be violated.” Because if you were violated, it doesn’t matter what you did, the person who violated you is in the wrong. It is not your fault. Do not dwell on “If onlys…”. “If only I had worn something different that day, maybe I looked like I was ‘asking for it’ ” “If only I hadn’t decided to go to that party.” Or any number of other situations. This is not your fault, the blame is not on you. You should be able to live your life not having to worry about “putting yourself in a position to be violated”, because there is no excuse for someone violating someone else.

Don McPherson recently said, “We don’t raise boys to be men. We raise them not to be women, or gay men.”

I am going to end this post with a direct quote from the article. The emphasis added is mine.

“It’s time for a serious intervention in masculinity. It’s not enough to not be a rapist. You don’t get a cookie or a Nobel Peace Prize for that. If we want to end the pandemic of rape, it’s going to require an entire global movement of men who are willing to do the hard work required to unpack and interrogate the ideas of masculinity they were raised with, and to create and model new masculinities that don’t enable misogyny. Masculinities built not on power over women, but on power with women.
This is going to take real work, which is why so many men resist it. It requires destabilizing your own identity, and giving up attitudes and behaviors from which you’re used to deriving power, likely before you learn how to derive power from other, more just and productive places. There are real risks for men who challenge toxic masculinity, from social shaming to actual “don’t be a fag” violence—punishments that won’t ease until many, many men take the plunge. But there are great rewards to be had, too, beyond stopping rape. Toxic masculinity is damaging to men, too, positing them as stoic sex-and-violence machines with allergies to tenderness, playfulness, and vulnerability. A reinvented masculinity will surely give men more room to express and explore themselves without shame or fear. (It will also, not incidentally, reduce rape against men as well, because many rapes of men are committed by other men with the intention of “feminizing”—that is, humiliating through dominance—their victim.)
These interventions start with a “feminine” activity: introspection. What did you learn about “being a man,” from whom? How are those lessons working out for you, and for the people you love and your communities? Taking action can be as simple as men publicly owning their preference for “female” coded things, whether that’s child-rearing, nonviolence, feminism, or anything else—and being willing to suffer the social consequences. It can be more formal, working with established organizations like Men Stopping Violence. As more men take responsibility for the work, it will surely also take on forms no one has yet envisioned.”