1990s Jen to Now

Osiyo readers!

“Osiyo” is “hello” in Tsalagi or as many of you know us as: Cherokee.

So I am still around. I’ve just been all consumed with my move to DC and my new career as a journalist. I’m now all settled into my new place with more articles being published every day so I thought since insomnia is plaguing me I’ll write a little something here.

In an effort to unwind and get to bed at a decent hour for myself I decided to make myself a martini and listen to some music from the 90s. This of course led me to think about my high school self which led me to think about my college self and then down the rabbit hole I went.

The music from my late teen years brought to mind the movies and fashion which naturally led me to think about the body image issues I had. Grunge was easy for a chubby girl like me because I could hide behind big tshirts, flannels, and jeans. It was the late 90s crop tops that became an issue though. My eating disorder switched gears from hoarding food, over-eating, and trying to make myself vomit, and ultimately failing and hating myself for failing to severely restricting my diet. The later would continue on throughout my adult life. It still plagues me to this day.

I spent part of my high school years being the smart, cute, funny, chubby girl that boys were friends with and would talk to about other girls and secretly date to eventually being the thin, hot girl that they had zero interest in talking to. Both situations fucking sucked. Frankly, dating men isn’t much different. Yes, there are men out there that are into women for who they are and blah blah blah, but they’re few and far between. Yes, there are men that are into larger women, but many of those men are fetishists and still wouldn’t date a fat woman openly.

Anyway, I digress. I eventually began to think about myself at my thinnest point in college. I was a size 10 and 156lbs. I know that doesn’t sound small, but I was really freaking skinny. It was bones holding my skirts and jeans up. I looked like I had a giraffe neck. I would double up from pain because I was so hungry. The only thing that probably kept me from looking sickly is that I worked out often and had well rounded workouts so I had muscle on me. By senior year of college though, I was throwing up. During the summer between junior and senior year, I had a horrible drunken night because I was upset about some asshole, undeserving man. When I came to the next morning on my friend’s couch I instantly ran to the bathroom and prayed to the porcelain gods to make it stop. As absurd as this may sound to some, throwing up felt cleansing to me. It felt like all of the pain that I was carrying around inside of me was everyday was leaving me. I couldn’t make the nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and panic attacks from being raped and a survivor of domestic abuse and childhood abuse go away, but I could make myself feel better by puking.

Jump ahead a decade or so and I’ve finally mostly made peace with my appearance and was finally getting help for all of the abuse from my past and that had occurred since college. I won’t say all was well in candy land, but I was trying. Then my existing health issues became a problem. I’ve had health problems since I was very young, migraines since I was 13, and chronic pain due to knee and spinal problems since I was 14. This wasn’t new, but the intensity and frequency was.

These health issues have presented so many problems for me, which I’ve talked about here, but what it also did was present a new reason to hate my body. I had finally begun to accept my body for its size and shape, but now I hated it for all of its limitations and how it was ruining my life. It has triggered my eating disorder. I’ve been struggling with severely restricting my diet since 2012 which is unhealthy for even the healthiest of people. For someone with my health conditions it’s downright dangerous. My last PCP, Therapist, and myself were constantly working to find ways for me to manage my health, in particular checking my sugars (I’m diabetic) without triggering my eating disorder, as well as how I could safely take all of my medications even if I didn’t eat.

Believe me when I say it’s a difficult balance. What I intellectually know my sugars should be versus what my disorder tells me my sugars should be are two very different things. Fear is a powerful motivator. The thought of losing more of myself, more of my freedom, my autonomy, my life, my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my ability to fight off potential abusers, is too much to bear. Sometimes I don’t eat when I know I should.

So there you have it. One martini and a little music from the 1990s and I have all of this, and a whole lot more, speeding through my mind. I intended for this to only be 3 paragraphs. My brain works an awful lot.

If you’re interested, and you should be, you can read my work on Autostraddle, The Establishment, Wear Your Voice, Medium, and the Matador Network.

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Erasure, Hatred, & Data for the Masses/But We Live On

I’ve finally begun pursuing publication for my writing and lo and behold I’m actually finding success. I’ve already had one article published on Autostraddle and am currently working on another for The Establishment. Yay for finally getting off my (disabled) ass and sending my work around! Really it’s that I now have enough stamina to work for a couple of hours most days hence why I’m now able to pursue my dreams of being a published author. It is rather overwhelming though on many fronts. Presently, my current writing project is really draining me psychically, emotionally, and physically.

Without giving away the details of the article I’m writing I’ll just say that I’m digging into a lot of very heavy data on violence against Native women in the US. Most of it isn’t new to me. I’ve read, and shared publicly many times, the studies and statistics. I don’t know a single Indigenous woman that hasn’t suffered multiple forms of violence throughout the course of her life, usually at the hands of a white man. I’m no exception to this. Most sexual assault is intraracial-the predator is the same race as the victim-but we Natives are the exception. Even our men have horrifically high rates of sexual abuse and it’s also predominantly interracial. This should come as no surprise given our history of boarding school abuses and the current abuses our children, women, and men suffer in the foster care and criminal injustice systems.

In the last hour alone I’ve read that more than 1 million  Native women have experienced sexual violence in our lifetime. According to the 2015 US census we only comprise 5.4 million of the total US population. This is including those that self-identified as mixed race and Native. While I don’t believe blood quantum and tribal enrollment are the signs of a true Native (these are the tools of the colonizer after all), but there aren’t 5.4 million federally enrolled tribal members in the US. According to the National Congress of the American Indian we comprise 2.9 million, 0r .9%, of the total US population. If we’re only 2.9 million people and more than 1 million of our women have been victims of sexual violence that basically means that almost all Indigenous women in the US have been assaulted in some fashion at least once in our lifetimes. From what I’ve experienced and the stories I’ve heard, from many Native women, one time in a YEAR is a miracle. If you’re Two Spirit, Queer, Bi, or a Disabled Native woman then your likelihood and occurrences of abuse only increase.

I’ve had to sit for days with this heavy data and the extremely hateful and racist rhetoric of some of our Amerikkkan leaders and try to dissect it in a way that is intelligent, understandable, and gives a heartfelt and impassioned cry to the overwhelming non-Native readers that will see this article so they will hopefully get off their privileged settler asses and be our allies and fight for our rights. Needless to say, it’s eating at me. Last night I went to the anti-police brutality march in Roxbury, MA in solidarity for the Black lives that are being slaughtered by the police, but I also used it as my PTSD wellness break from my work. It says a lot about the state of Amerikkka when a Disabled, Bi, Native woman with chronic pain who can’t stand for long or walk great distances and feels panicky in crowds and near the police goes to a protest and march that has 1,000 plus people and is littered with police so she can get a break from her research. But hey, it’s the land of the free, right?

I can understand how it would be easy for many in America, and abroad, to write off some of what I’ll bring up in my soon-to-be published article. It’s easy to brush aside the hateful and ignorant comments of some people because they behave like jackasses so why would anyone take them seriously? But the thing is, when it comes to us Natives, people do take them seriously and it’s never just one jackass in the spotlight. It’s Victoria’s Secret hypersexualizing Native women and culturally appropriating war bonnets which are sacred to some Plains’ tribes. It’s the white hipsters at music festivals that also wear headdresses or Pharrell Williams, a Black man, who posed with a headdress for British Elle. It’s the Colonial Bros and Nava-hos frat party. It’s me as the only Native in a room full of so called Massachusetts’ progressives who repeatedly ironically ask “You’re Indian? That’s so neat! Will you speak at my child’s school for Thanksgiving?” Meanwhile, I’m Tsalagi. That’s Cherokee to you colonizers. I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. When the pilgrims came, my people were in the Southeast nowhere near present day Massachusetts. It’s the Wampanoags that had to deal with those British wankers.

It’s me at the Boston LGBT health center with me feet literally in stirrups waiting for my Woman Of Color (WOC) doctor to replace my IUD, which I’ve already told her is incredibly painful, and she asks me “So your last name, are you Native American?” It’s the resident at my chronic pain management clinic, who I assume is Southeast Asian, asking me as I’m writhing in pain on the table after having several very large needles stuck in my spine “So you’re Native American? What tribe are you? Tell me all about it!” as if it’s any of his business, my job to teach him my history, or that he’s not taking advantage of his power in that situation and making me feel unsafe, and that it wouldn’t cause him pain and rage when people force their racist and colonizing microaggressions upon him.

And the one that’s really sticking in my craw right now is this: It’s me on a date with a white man who calls me “exoctic” and “Pocahontas” without the slightest irony that he’s the exoctic one because this is our land and that the story of Pocahontas as he knows her is a myth. Pocahontas’ real name was Matoaka. She was approximately 10-12 years old when she had the misfortune of encountering John Smith. She was soon taken captive by the British and “married” to John Rolfe, forced into Christianity, and then dragged across the Atlantic to England where she was paraded around as the so called noble savage until she died at the age of 22. Despite all of this I’m supposed to be turned on, bat my pretty exoctic eyelashes, and be ready to open my red legs when some asshole, racist, colonizing, misogynistic, rape culture loving white man calls me “Pocahontas.”

I could really go on for months, possibly years, about all of this because sadly our abuse and injustices run that deep, but despite all of the colonizer’s best attempts to wipe us out, we’re still here. I’m still here. I, a Bisexual, Disabled, Poor, Fat, Native Woman am still here. We’re hurting, and I’m most definitely hurting, but we’re still here. I may need a lot of PTSD breaks and I may not produce the same amount of work as the colonizer does, but I’ll keep writing. I live on through my ancestors. Our voices are strong and we will be heard. I will be heard.

 

Pride, Dignity, & the Failing of Section 8

*I apologize for the bad formatting, but WordPress refuses to properly post this and I refuse to wait for this program, or any other, to give me the space to express myself through grammatical correctness.

I’ve had a lot of questions and suggestions lately regarding my housing search with my Section 8 voucher. I thought I’d take the time here to explain how this program works, or rather how it doesn’t work.

There are a variety of housing vouchers and public housing options with continuously changing program stipulations that are impossible to keep up with. I have a Section 8 voucher which means I can, in theory, move where ever I’d like. I pay 30%, or up to 40%, of my income in rent and the housing authority pays the rest. I can’t go above 40% of my income in my portion of the rent because then I’d be rent burdened and Section 8 is supposed to help eliminate that.
The housing authority that issues a person their voucher is dependent upon what city they live in. There are a set number of vouchers available for disabled people, the elderly, families, and single, able bodied people. The wait lists vary a great deal based on which of those labels are applicable to you and on what city you live in. Brookline has a 10+ year wait for a voucher. Somerville had Section 8 vouchers available only to disabled people. It took me approximately 3 years to get this.
Now on to the rental details of this ineffective and soul crushing program. Everyone is issued a Section 8 voucher for a specific number of bedrooms, not a monetary value for rent. My voucher is for an one bedroom apartment. All voucher holders have to adhere to what is referred to as “payment standards” that are set by each municipal housing authority. This is essentially a cap on how much rent and utilities are allowed. The payment standard for an one bedroom in Boston is $1387 and for Somerville is $1261. Anyone who lives in Massachusetts knows that rent costs a great deal more then this and salaries don’t come close to covering it. That’s why you have so many adults living with roommates in this area. Given that we’re currently facing a serious housing crisis in Boston the unrealistically low Section 8 payment standards create an even larger barrier to safe and affordable housing for disenfranchised people.
So you can’t spend over $1387 in rent and utilities for an apartment in Boston so get a roommate. Makes sense, right? Except you can’t. Anyone who lives in the apartment is considered additional household income and then that counts against me and the services I receive. Why don’t you lie to get around this? Because you can’t. The voucher can only cover the set amount of bedrooms in an apartment that it’s issued for. I can only use my voucher for an one bedroom apartment. I still can’t have said apartment go over the payment standards. You still can’t lie to get around this? How will the housing authority know? Because they inspect the apartment before the voucher holder moves in and they receive a copy of the lease. Having a roommate doesn’t help me in finding a place they’ll approve of, nor does it impact how much I’ll directly pay in rent. It merely increases the likelihood that I’ll lose my voucher for not following the program rules.
Coincidentally, I’m only allowed a guest to stay a total of 22 nights in a year. That’s isn’t 22 nights per person. It’s for the entire year. Let’s say I’m dating someone and we want them to sleepover 1 night a week at my place. They can’t because I’d then risk loosing my voucher. I could also risk loosing my voucher for using medical marijuana in the apartment because while it’s legal in Massachusetts it’s still illegal on a federal level and Section 8 is funded through the federal government. I can use oxy (with a prescription) until my heart’s content, but I can’t use weed which helps my pain a great deal and has far less side effects then narcotics. These are two great examples as to how Section 8 further polices the bodies of the poor and plays the role of the institutional Daddy that is there to make sure we do right because we can’t possibly be trusted to make the best decisions given our situations for ourselves.
Moving along to the inspection. In theory, the inspection makes sense. It’s to ensure that Section 8 voucher recipients are living in safe homes that meet health and sanitation codes. However, it takes one to two weeks to have the inspection completed and the apartment must be empty when inspected. This means that the property owner is going without rent for part of a month in the hopes that they’ll pass inspection and they can rent to the voucher holder. They also have to fill out and submit a great deal of paperwork including some of their financial records. How many landlords have you had that would do this? I haven’t had a single one in Massachusetts that would go through this. When going to see apartments there’s almost always someone living in the apartment at the time of viewing and they usually move out the day before the new tenant moves in. Landlords here don’t even take a day to clean, make necessary repairs, and paint. The inspection then creates one more barrier to finding an apartment with Section 8. There is also of course the discrimination that voucher holders experience, but I’ll leave that for a later discussion.
Don’t some buildings have low income units? Yes, buildings that receive certain tax subsidies do have to put a set number of low and moderate income units in their buildings. The problem is that they don’t have to put in many of these units. In Boston, and many other large American cities, the only housing being built are high rise condo and apartment buildings for the obscenely wealthy. Many of these units begin at million and go up in cost. The developers become wealthier on the tax payers’ dime while creating a greater housing disparity that creates housing instability, higher rates of homelessness, over crowding in housing, and rent burden. The government of course plays their part in allowing this to occur.
I have a list of approximately 500 buildings in Boston that currently have these low to moderate income units. Can’t you apply for one of these units? How does this work you ask? It’s a long, tedious, time consuming, and soul crushing endeavor. The list shows 20 to 30 property management companies that manage most of these properties. It makes sense that you’d call the management company to find out about the units they have in all their properties, right? In case you haven’t figured this out yet this system doesn’t work on common sense and a stream lined approach to housing. You have to call each individual property to find out if they have units available. They’re also primarily open only Monday to Friday from 9 to 4. If you can’t make the multiple hours worth of phone calls in that time period then too bad. You’re simply out of luck. To add to this frustrating and draining process many of these sites don’t answer the phone and only have an option to leave a voice message, but they never return phone calls.
Isn’t there a website you can go to to submit an application or inquire about availability? No, there isn’t. When I have been able to get someone on the phone I’ve often been told they’d email or mail me applications, but that more often then not hasn’t occurred. Some properties require applicants to send self-addressed stamped envelopes for an application or to apply in person. Not every voucher holder has the means to apply in person due to a variety of factors such as disability. work schedule, and cost of transportation. Poor people also don’t have the money to buy numerous stamps and hope that the applications will be sent to them. Many of these applications are also 10 pages long so one stamp on a letter size envelope won’t work.
If these units exist why are you complaining about how difficult it is to find housing with your Section 8 voucher? Because the units are always taken and the wait lists, if they’re even open, are 1 to 10+ years long for an unit. I called one property last week that has had their wait list closed for 9 years because they have such a backlog of people in need of an affordable unit. One property management company that I’ve spoken to has a company policy not to tell Section 8 inquirers how long their wait lists are. I suspect that this is an attempt to appear as if they’re helping the community while really they are only pillaging.
10 years is a long time, but isn’t it better to just get yourself on these lists and try to wait it out? Think again. Waiting out a dire situation of poverty and rent burden leads to homelessness, abuse, and the growth of personal health issues and disability, as well as public health concerns. It’s also inhumane, elitist, and an unrealistic option to tell people to wait it out. To add to the emotionally, physically, and mentally crippling problems that poverty leads to for so many of us there is also the issue that vouchers expire. A Section 8 voucher holder has 60 days from the date of issue to find an apartment and sign a lease. If after 60 days you don’t have an apartment then you can file for a 30 day extension. If after those 30 days are up you can file for one more 30 day extension. In total, voucher holders have 120 days to find an apartment that meets the completely unrealistic demands of the Section 8 program.
I’ve opted to fill out applications for buildings in the Boston area that have a wait list of a year or less while hoping that I can find something in the now 3 months I have left on my voucher. Let me tell you about some of the questions that are asked on these preliminary applications. I’ve been asked my gender, age, race, eye color, height, weight, and if I have a criminal history and if so the details of said record. But discrimination in housing is illegal you say. Ha! I say to you. Even before I began my housing search with my voucher and I was employed full time I was told by landlords that because I’m a single woman they won’t rent to me if my father doesn’t co-sign the lease. As we all know we women can’t possibly handle our finances ourselves without a man involved and we all have fathers to fall back on. I’ve had landlords ask about my sexual orientation and dating practices. I’ve had landlords make racist comments about the fact that I’m Native. And on and on and on. While this is all illegal that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur and the applications that most affordable housing units use are full of bigoted questions that can lead to housing discrimination, as well as the complete breakdown of one’s self-worth which is already difficult to maintain in the face of poverty and oppression.
Let’s move along to a possible happy outcome. You found an apartment! Let’s celebrate! No my friend, not yet. Now you have to come up with the financial resources to secure the apartment. The housing authority only pays the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent is only paid in your last month in the apartment. They don’t help with deposit nor do they put a cap on what the property owner may ask for. There’s also the matter of the non-refundable one month realtor fee because so many landlords in the Boston area use realtors to advertise their property. This is also not regulated by the housing authority. Even with a Section 8 voucher I could still be looking at anywhere from $3-5,000 that I have to put upfront to move into an apartment. I have Section 8 because I’m poor so I don’t have that kind of money.
Aren’t there other government programs or charities that can help with moving expenses? In theory, yes there are, but like the Section 8 program itself these programs are few and far between and have many stipulations that most people don’t meet, even if you’re poor and disabled. Because I’m disabled I have a much higher cost of living due to my health and life needs and I don’t have the luxury of moving with a Uhaul and some friends. I have to hire movers which increases the amount of money I need to get into a new apartment. Thankfully I can pack myself so I don’t have to hire packers, but that’s still incredibly painful and difficult for me to do so it’s a slow moving process that keeps me from taking care of other issues in my life, such as maintaining my health, applying to jobs, or writing. I might also mention that many of the charities that do supposedly help poor people are incredibly misogynistic and bi/trans/homophobic such as Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. I finally swallowed my pride today and called both for help, but was told that Catholic Charities had no money to give-because the Catholic Church is so hard up for cash-and no one answered the phone at Salvation Army.
Let’s say that by some small miracle I was able to save the amount of money that I need to move into a new apartment. Here’s where the system really fails me and countless others. The fact that we’d have that money is counted against us in the services we receive. Any money that I save means that my food stamps, disability, health care services, and Section 8 can be drastically cut or eliminated all together. Even if I were able to save money, which I’m not because I’m given so little that I can barely even live, I would have to keep it in my sock drawer or a coffee can because I can’t have it anywhere that the government can see. This is one more way that the system keeps poor people from being able to save and invest in order to get out and stay out of poverty.
Just to add to the ridiculously out of touch nature of government based social services student loans are not considered in your cost of living breakdown. As we all know us poor people are uneducated, lazy, and stupid. We couldn’t possibly have pursued, or hope to pursue, a higher education. (Full time students are not allowed to live in many affordable housing units). I can’t file bankruptcy to eliminate my student loans and because I have private loans I can’t even have the interest rates or payments lowered or deferred. Every time I apply for a service or fill out any of the countless forms that keep my current services in place they don’t count the nearly $600 monthly student loan payment that HAS TO BE PAID as one of my living expenses. If my mom didn’t co-sign those loans then I wouldn’t have been able to get my education which has proven to be utterly useless and detrimental to my financial health. As many know my relationship with my family is tenuous at best and outright toxic and abusive at its worst. I believe that if my mom wasn’t financially obligated to pay my loans  then she wouldn’t help me in paying them. As a result I would default and the government would most likely take that money out of my monthly disability check to make the payments.I then would be without a doubt homeless. Thankfully she is obligated and able to pay them so this is a concern that I’m able to put on the back burner for the time being. Of course having excessive student loan debt doesn’t help my credit score so it does impact my current state.
There you have it. This is a basic breakdown of Section 8 and its many failings. I’ve come to the conclusion that pride and dignity are privileges only reserved for those with some measure of financial stability and mine are being chipped away more and more with each passing day. I currently am at a rent burden rate of about 80%, live in an unsafe house where I’ve hurt myself twice on the property due to my landlord’s negligence, and am unable to have many of my health care and life needs met and am without the resources to climb out of poverty. My depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are only growing worse throughout this housing search process. I honestly don’t believe that I’ll continue to fight if I lose my voucher. If this occurs I’ll mostly likely be one more statistic of an Indigenous, bisexual, disabled, woman that’s a rape and abuse survivor that found the system and society to be nothing more then a serious of humiliations and abuses that were too much to bear.
After years of studying and working in politics and now being on the receiving end of so many government services I can confidently say that the system is not working to help people survive or thrive and move into a place independence; it is set up to keep the oppressed down so that we can never rise up and take what’s rightfully ours.

Advice Needed

I need some serious advice. I just found out that my roommate has been charging me $175 more a month for the rent. Our rooms are the same size. We both pay half the utilities and oil bills. I don’t use any of his belongings. He does NONE of the cleaning. This property is falling apart and is so unsafe that I’ve hurt myself two times because of my landlord’s negligence and my roommate won’t do anything about it or allow me to. There’s also no lease so that’s not even an excuse he could use as the only person on the lease.

$175 isn’t much for many people, but it’s a great deal for me. It means the difference between going without enough food, and healthy food at that, and having my diabetes become worse and putting me that much closer to blindness, losing limbs, kidney failure, and heart disease. Two of those are already issues in my family. It’s the difference between me having enough money for the T, The Ride, and cabs so I can get places I need to go. I’ve missed doctors’ appointments because I didn’t have enough money to get their or the physical energy to take the T. It means being able to join the Y so I can have access to a pool so I can get in better shape and have my chronic pain be that much better. It means being able to send out my laundry on occasion rather than having to limp to and from the laundromat and having to take extra pain pills as a result. It means not having the horrible side effects that come with pain pills and not exacerbating some of my health issues. That amount of money could also give me the tiny cushion I need so I can put some energy into things I enjoy and want to accomplish like writing, getting published, starting the reproductive justice organization that I so desperately want to form. $175 makes a huge difference in my life.

I only moved into this place because after 10 months of searching it was all I could find. No one in the Boston area wants to live with one of us so called dirty, diseased, slutty bisexuals. Yes, I’ve been called those things multiple times by both straight and lesbians and gay men here in so called progressive Boston. I’ve had a roommate call me a squaw and think it was just hilarious to talk to me that way. Even if I can swing the rent for places I don’t have the thousands of dollars to put down that landlords require now. I’ve lived in roommate situations where I was so scared for my safety that I moved furniture in front of my bedroom door. Then there are the numerous costs associated with getting housing that meets my disability needs.

I moved into this shitty house because I had no where to go and was trying like hell to get out of an abusive relationship with little to no help from anyone. I had to fight just to get paid by the “progressive” candidate I worked for at the time. I was at the point of looking at women’s shelters because I was so desperate. Meanwhile I had to go on living life as if everything was ok because I couldn’t possibly tell all the productive and successful people I know that I was currently being abused and needed help. I reached out to one person for legal advice that I thought was a close enough friend and she simply told me to figure it out on my own because it wasn’t that complicated. She’s now a City Councilor and only reached out to me last spring when she decided to run and needed money and volunteers. The hypocrisy of the people in politics in MA is unbelievable. And people in the political world here wonder why I’m so angry with the MA Democrats and “progressives.”

Things got so bad that I tried to kill myself. My psychiatrist was shocked I was even still alive after I finally told her and my therapist what I had done. If I wasn’t pumped full of so many fucking drugs on a daily basis then I might have been lucky enough to have this miserable excuse of a life finally end.

Every day is a constant struggle just to keep myself alive. I’m so upset that my roommate is one more person that has significantly added to the misery I suffer through day in and day out. I have no where else to go and no one to turn to that could help. My own mom can’t even be bothered to call me on Christmas or my birthday.

I don’t know how to handle this and right now I feel like I’m going to have a complete meltdown. I was already having a hard day because of a night full of horrible nightmares and sifting through the over 20 prescriptions I take daily so I can possibly figure out what’s helping me and what’s making my health worse. I hate my life so much that almost every day just feels like a futile exercise of survival that only brings agony. I’ve been trying for three years just to get some in home help with domestic chores which the MA government has the ablistic audacity to refer to as “adult foster care!” Apparently being disabled and poor in MA means that I’m little more than a child. Even the case workers, therapists, and doctors I have can’t make the services I need happen.

I seriously need help and have no idea what to do. I don’t know what could possibly be suggested that I haven’t already tried, but throw any ideas my way. Please.

The Recent Omission of My Truth

I recently removed several of my posts because I’m job hunting and applying to graduate school. I know that this blog will cause great detriment to my chances of being admitted to my graduate program of choice and receiving the necessary funding as well as being offered employment. I’ve had so much taken from me over the years that I can’t bear the thought of loosing more so I gave in to the -isms of the world and removed my reality with the hopes of moving forward. I’m now on my third week of mind numbing pain that has now kick started my depression and I say “fuck it”! This is who I am and this is my life and if an employer or graduate school is too blinded by their own ableism to see my intelligence, dedication, and worth then it’s simply not a place I want to be. My previous posts are going back up.

Another note, I’m now seeing a Rheumatologist. My hands and wrists have decided join the chronic pain party. As a result of this and other health issues several of my doctors suspect that I may have an autoimmune disease. Yippee. One more obstacle to overcome. As if I needed more.

In the meantime I’m searching for part-time, temporary jobs, studying for the GRE because my scores from my previous test are now invalid, applying to policy grad programs and funding streams, am an Organizer for an anti-racist group, and am now on a programming committee for a local abortion doula organization and am half-way through my doula training.

I’m fighting like hell to keep going as if my life isn’t over, but there are some days when the pain is so intense that it’s impossible to find a shred of hope. I suppose that continuing to write openly and honestly is one of the ways in which I do that. No one will take that away from me.

I will not omit my truth for you

Pulling the Plug Before It’s Too Late

May and June are very emotionally charged and gut wrenching months for me. Mother’s Day, the anniversary of my very close friend’s suicide, the last time I tried to kill myself, my mom’s birthday, my Degee’s (my maternal grandma who meant/s the world to me) birthday, my birthday, Father’s day, my father’s birthday, and a few other painful memories to boot. I don’t think even the healthiest of people could make it through two months of those horrible days and their associated miseries without contemplating their death. Since I have chronic health problems-my mortality, short, and long term well being are always on my mind, but it’s especially prevalent right now.

It hit me just a few moments ago that if I don’t kill myself at the right moment in time then I could easily end up a shell of a person. Not only would I be dependent upon someone to completely care for me right down to wiping my ass that I might also not even be able to speak. That last bit never even occurred to me until now. What if I was just a person stuck in a body that didn’t function in any real livable way, but it never died? What if I had to suffer literally unspeakable abuse for countless more years?

I’m loosing my body with every minute of every day, but I’m doing all that I can to keep my mind. All I have left is my mind and my spirit which has been ripped away from me bit by bit. The fucking drugs I take are eroding away my intelligence. My memory is a joke and my focus is shit. Of course none of my doctors want to own up to this. I’m not an idiot though. I know that some of the same meds that keep me going are the same meds that are making me fall apart. I accidentally stumbled upon the fact that the 175mg of Wellbutrin I was prescribed on top of all of my other meds was on were contributing to my sleeplessness (not getting to sleep until at least 5am), my DAILY migraines, and depression. If anyone doesn’t need any of these issues made worse it’s me.

I (I say “I” with emphasis) weened myself off of Wellbutrin and I’m doing better as a result. I’m far from good, but I’m better. My 36th birthday is next week on the 12th and I’m a mess though. I’ll spare all of my sadness, anger, disappointments, and so forth with where I am in my life and just say that I shouldn’t be worrying about when and how to end my life. At (almost) 36 my concern should be how to keep my life going and how to do it with the most joy possible. Instead I’m hedging bets about whether or not my mother will even send a card or a text (Forget calling. That takes effort she’d never put forward) and am terrified about when my body will be so dilapidated that I won’t be able to kill myself for relief from all of my life’s pain.

Happy fucking birthday to me.

Owning My Pain Induced Fault Lines

I’ve recently come to some hard realizations regarding my past and how they are impacting my present. This may be the only time in the immediate future that I can get this out so I’m taking the plunge without editing so that I won’t erase the honesty of my situation.

I’ve thought that my mental illness presented itself when I was eight years old, but now I think it was childhood abuse and trauma that was coming through. I was standing in our ugly shower that’s the color of unhealthy bacteria laced phlegm sobbing with my mom’s disposable pink lady Bic razor against my wrist. I have no idea what upset me and how I learned that cutting one’s wrists could end one’s life, but there I was. For the last few years I’ve thought that that was the beginning of me becoming crazy and fucked up. I’ve viewed it as the start of me being damaged goods, but the reality is that it was the abuse in my house that led me there. I can’t even remember anything but bits of pieces of my childhood before the age of eight and I don’t have constant memories before the age of ten. This is also something I’ve only recently come to understand and grip the gravity of as unhealthy and abnormal.

I was raped when I was fourteen by my then nineteen year old boyfriend. I’ve always known that that I was young and just a kid when that happened, but because I had been through so much already and was smarter than average I never really thought of myself as a child. I didn’t see it as childhood sexual abuse. I never saw myself as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. That’s what it was though.

I’m not sure why seeing this all for what it was has been so difficult for me. Maybe it’s my own internalized self-blame and hatred. Perhaps by seeing myself in the role of more of an adult I was able to give myself more power when it was all taken away. I’m not sure, but I know that this has been unbearably painful and has rocked my sense of self-worth and ability to further cope in my current shitty life circumstances. There are things that have been a part of my life for the past several years that I can’t publicly speak about for a variety of reasons, but they only add to the trauma that I face. They add to the alienation I feel from people. This is all such a large part of why I’ve further pushed people away. Granted, I haven’t found many that are understanding and patient for me to let in, but the few that have come my way I somehow kick out of my life through a series of tests. Only a few people have had the understanding and compassion to stick by me through this all.

I don’t blame those who I don’t understand and it’s too much for them to deal with, but this is a small taste of what I’m going through. Every minute of every day I’m in pain. Between the fact that my body is a worthless hunk of junk that has continually let me down (now I have a lump in my right breast to contend to) or the trauma that I carry in my soul without any relief or comfort I simply don’t know how to let people be close to me. How do you let yourself open up to the idea of being loved when the overwhelming majority of your life you’ve been told time and time again that you’re so unworthy of life that you deserve abuse? Seriously, someone tell me how because I really don’t know.