Fuck this privilege!

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately much of which I’ve been submitting for publication. To my surprise my writing has been well received. I’ve already had 4 stories picked up out of the very few submissions I’ve sent out. Granted, I’m not being paid very much at all, but still, I haven’t been at this even a month and if I were to take a guess at the amount of pitches and completed stories I’ve sent out versus what’s been bought thus far I’d say I’m 70/30 in my favor right now. I’m also sending out some of my poetry which I don’t have high hopes for being published, let alone being paid for, but the fact that my voice and the communities I represent are valued so much that I’m being paid for any of my writing at all is awe inspiring and the fuel to the fire that I’ve really needed to keep me going in this dumpster fire of a life I’ve been living.

With all of that said though I am seriously enraged that it took 5 1/2 years of undergraduate and 3 years of graduate education for my voice to be important. That was $250,000 worth of student loan debt. Thankfully, I say ironically, because of my debilitating disability my federal student loan debt has been wiped away now. However, my private student loan debt is forever there until the federal government decides in their infinite wisdom to get off their asses and give private student loan debt relief to those of us who need it-unlike those motherfucking asshole banker dickheads they gave that shyte to. In the meantime there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it. The mafia would be kinder in their interest rates and payment plans than these motherfucking private student loan lenders. Yet it took all of that education and debt for my voice to matter. Without it I highly doubt anyone would have taken me seriously. Scratch that. I can say with absolute certainty no one would have taken me seriously. As a Tsalagi (Cherokee)-member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Bisexual, Disabled, Poor Woman I had to work 1,000 times harder than every white, able bodied, straight, American, woman, and man I encountered. That sadly even includes some  Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color because of the Biphobia and Colonialism that we Bisexuals and Natives experience at the hands of Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color is fucking intense and holds us down at all turns. I’ve lost out on jobs and have been denied healthcare because I’m Bi, Disabled, and Native and it hasn’t always been white, able bodied, and het people doing the discriminating. I guess my long winded point is that education is a right for one and all, not a privilege and not one that should weigh down and ruin our futures.

 

I was also thinking earlier about the oppressions and privileges I’ve had throughout my life from childhood until now. One of those privileges as a child was that while I didn’t grow up with an “educated” family with money who could guide me through my higher education and career, I also never had to worry about being evicted from our home, where we’d sleep next, the lights going out, or going to bed hungry. That’s some fucked up shit right there! Those aren’t privileges, those are basic, bare bones human rights! What kind of a fucked up, oppressive, hate fueled, capitalistic world do we live in that a child of abuse who has grown up to be a Native, Bi, Disabled, Poor Woman who’s legally homeless, living below the poverty line, and has spent almost her entire life being abused and yet she can  say she’s “privileged” because she didn’t go to bed hungry at night as a child? Seriously? This is the best we can do in the so called “land of the free?” This is it? The land of milk and honey where Trump and Hillary are our saviors to right the wrongs that so many of us suffer from? That’s some just fucking straight up laughable shit!

I say this as someone who worked for roughly a decade in liberal, mainstream (white) Feminist, and Democratic Party politics. By 2014 I was on my way to being a so called party insider, but I had seen and experienced too much. The racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, saneism, ageism, elitism, bi/trans/homophobia, and so much more that I experienced first hand or saw others experience working in that environment was too much. I couldn’t keep going in that world. I left for a reason. Once upon a time, even though I ultimately felt that the system should be torn apart and built anew by those of us who have been oppressed by it, I still thought some good could come from working in it. A decade later and I knew different. I didn’t become this far left Radical out of nowhere. My revolutionary beliefs didn’t spring up overnight.

Sadly, we’re (currently) stuck with this colonizing, hate mongering system that has me thinking about how I was privileged to not go to bed hungry as a child, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. We can change this system. It won’t come through Trump, Hillary, Jill Stein, or any other white, able bodied, hetero, wealthy, cisgendered, American, colonizer or settler privileged, status quo candidate. Change comes with us standing up and challenging this corrupt system now! Remember this when you get beaten down and worn down by the system: Privilege isn’t having $250k in student loan debt so maybe people will take you seriously! And Privilege isn’t going to bed hungry!

 

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.

Starving for Relief

I’m keeping this short, sweet, and to the point.

I have a lot to write about, but I’m not yet ready to share it. It’s highly painful, infuriating, disempowering, oppressive, and so on. I’m hoping that next month I can share it with the world, but for now it’s my painful burden to carry on my own.

The horrific pain in my life that has swallowed me whole has come to a head. I know revel in physical pain that I can control. It’s so sick and disheartening to me yet I’ve lost almost all hope as to how to handle it all. I’ve barely eaten today and I’m so hungry that I feel horribly sick yet it’s a pain, emotionally and physically, that I have control over (unlike every other source of pain in my life) so I find some pleasure in it. I recognize all the various ways in which this is so unhealthy and fucked up, but years of asking for, pleading for help have led me nowhere. I’m truly beginning to wonder if I might be better off cycling off my psych meds and getting the hell out of therapy.

I came to terms years ago with my need for meds, but I’m so disgusted with the Western, white, male, patriarchal, racist, colonialistic, heternormative/sexist, ableistic, elitist clinical model of psych care that I’m just done with it all. If one person tells me that I’m bi because I was raped or fetishizes me because I’m Native or ignores my medical needs as a disabled poor person, or threatens to institutionalize me because I have the audacity to talk about, and ask for help, regarding my PTSD, I might loose my mind! To hell with these oppressive assholes! They know not a damn thing about what’s best for me or anyone else!

I don’t know the answers to anything anymore nor do I have much hope in how to cope with my life. I just know that for now being so hungry that I’m in pain simply feels right.

Self-Destruction, Speaking Out, & Political Warfare

The last year and a half have been some of the more difficult years I’ve had to face in some time. Due to this I haven’t had the emotional, mental, or physical energy to write for this blog, my book, or most other pieces. I’ve occasionally had a poem come upon me that I felt was appropriate to post, but bringing for the where with all to write deeper and with further explanation has simply never happened. Obviously there is a great deal that has occurred over this period of time, but I’m going to keep it as short as possible.

I was in a relationship that turned out to be very dishonest, manipulative, demanding, and emotionally abusive. Under normal circumstances I would’ve left a relationship of this sort, but I simply couldn’t afford to move out of the apartment we shared. My health problems have become so severe that they have placed great limits on the type of housing I can live in which of course significantly raises the cost. Rents in the Boston area have sky rocketed over the last few years, my health care costs are insane now, and my income stream is abysmal compared to these current costs. I was forced to stay under the roof, due to my disability and finances, with someone who mentally and emotionally tortured me day in and day out.

As one can imagine this led me down a very dark path. I fell apart and without a proper support system I was at a loss as to what to do. My mother, whom I no longer speak to nor do I ever see myself speaking to again despite my deep love for her, knew of the situation and offered no help. The irony in this is profound given that she was once in an abusive marriage and that several of the women in my family have also been in abusive marriages.

Things reached the point that my pride broke and I began looking at shelters. I told my ex that I was going to contact the police if he continued his behavior. He soon moved out after this with the promise that he would pay the rent on the apartment until I either moved out or the lease ended. Like all words that escaped his lips, this was a lie.

Two months later I came home to find under my door a notice to appear in court for an eviction hearing. The apartment management company never called me once nor did they ever follow MA law and send me all of the paperwork that comes before the eviction hearing notice. This was now the end of May 2014 and I had been looking for a place one month after we moved in together which was July 2013. The cost of apartments, my physical needs, the extreme biphobia in the Boston area (the minute potential roommates would hear that I’m bi they were no longer interested in me), and the housing shortage that left many of us scrambling to pay $800 to live in a closet in an unsafe house with 5 roommates no where near the train or life necessities left me unable to find anything. Thankfully I found the horrific place I’m in now at the last minute. I still had to go to court and deal with the mess though and of course my ex, nor his family, could be bothered to attend even though we were all legally obligated to be there. The one bright side of all of this is that I never have to see him nor his loathsome family ever again.

I had a few professional difficulties arise during this time. I have never been a fan of the area I live in. Over the years I’ve found it to be very gender conformist, racist, especially towards us Natives, pro-colonialism, horrifically biphobic, elitist, ableistic, puritanical, self-congratulatory, arrogant, stand offish, cold, and rude. This is not to say that I haven’t found some pleasures of living here, but it’s never been home. Despite this I’ve tried to be socially and politically active, but this came to a breaking point for me, like many things, in the spring of 2014.

I found myself disillusioned with the politics, parties, and the way social and political issues were addressed, if at all. An issue came about that caused great difficulty in my life. I found myself dealing with a set of -isms that were too blatant for me to ignore. After years of suffering out right abuse in “liberal” politics-being called an “injun,” hit on at work, told that I’m bi so bring in sexy bi girls to get the male donors, not being paid for my time and reimbursed for my expenses, told I don’t deserve time for a meal break during a 14 hour day, being told “If you don’t shut up I’m going to throw you through a wall” etc-I simply couldn’t take it anymore. While this situation was not that volatile it was still bad and indirectly told me that I was worthless. I left the environment and was soon threatened with a lawsuit. There were no grounds for the suit, but because of my financial state I couldn’t lawyer up. The same day the eviction notice came was the same day I was threatened with the law suit.

One week prior to this I finally snapped and tried to kill myself. The day I left behind unhealthy professional environments was the day my mother finally went too far with me. I have dealt with years of her emotional neglect, dismissal, and denial of the many abuses I’ve suffered over the years. I choose not to rehash them now, but they are great and they are painful beyond belief.

When I told her that I left this particular situation and why (over a text message because she never called me on any day) instead of giving me support and love or even saying a simply “I’m sorry” her immediate response was to say that her and my step-dad couldn’t give me money. I never said one word about money as a concern of mine let alone asked for money. This is a woman who once told me that I was only angry at her and my step-dad for not giving me enough money. Meanwhile I had just told her I was beyond hurt and angry for things such as her ignoring me telling her when I was only 14 that my boyfriend had raped me. Two months after that I tried to kill myself because I couldn’t take the nightmares and the other symptoms of PTSD any longer. She still denies this to this day. I think she doesn’t even believe that I was raped. Yet she has the audacity and the heartlessness to think that I’m shallow enough to be angry because they won’t give me money. This is one of many examples of heartache my mom has caused me.

I read that text and something in me just broke. I went to my liquor cart and grabbed my bottle of Jack, mind you it was the largest bottle of Jack you can buy, and I started drinking. I drank 3/4s of that bottle. That alone was enough to put me in a hospital. I didn’t stop there. I went to my pills next. Given my health problems I have my own pharmacy. I started mixing them all taking handfuls. I made sure to mix in a nice batch of the narcotics so that they would combined with each other and the alcohol and stop my breathing. I was also careful not to take so many pills that I would be sick and loose them all.

Apparently thanks to my worthless, broken body having health problems that goes back to my childhood I am now like an elephant. It takes large animal size tranquilizers to take me down. I didn’t even get one day of relief from my life. I woke up 6 hours later! I was a groggy, disoriented mess, but I was still awake. I never went to the doctor nor the hospital. I simply drank a lot of water and slept it off.

When I finally decided to tell my therapist and psychiatrist about it they naturally were worried, but sadly not too surprised. My shrink pushed for hospitalization, and then out patient day treatment, both of which I refused. I went through those horrors as a teenager and I’d sooner die then go through them again. [If asking for help means being forced into hospitalization I simply won’t ask for help. That’s how bad my experiences were as a teenager and how much I know about the US mental health care system (not that it deserves to be called “care”) as an adult. I’ll go it my own before I suffer that abuse again!]

After hearing everything I drank and took that night my psychiatrist said in so many words that I was lucky to be alive. I was furious I was alive! I stayed angry for months after. Some days I’m still angry about it. I’m not sure how I didn’t do it all over again, and for good measure slice wrists up like a child making paper dolls, when I received the court notice and the lawsuit threat. Believe me when I say I’ve had the thought many times since. Writing this now has me thinking about it.

I hate that I feel this full of pain and I wish I had the solution to make it all go away, but I’ve spent the bulk of my life trying to hide it all because when I asked for help no one cared. I can’t say that too many people (there are some and they are amazing, loving human beings!) seem to care still, but I refuse to be silent. I don’t give a damn anymore if that means lawsuits or if it hurts my career kissing ass to a bunch of self-righteous, self-congratulatory suits that don’t really care about those of us who are suffering in whatever manner that may be. I could care even less if it makes people “uncomfortable.” Too damn bad! If just hearing about my realities makes you uncomfortable then imagine living them? I am doing everything within my power to care for myself, to better myself, and to have the future that I so desperately want and so rightfully deserve.

In the mean time, I try to remind myself of something that two amazing women have said. One is my fabulous, Indigenous friend, Elyse. She has told me a few times when I’ve felt low that not only am I loved, but that our continual survival as Indigenous women is an act of resistance against colonialism and the powers that want to do away with us. I’ll admit that the few times I read that when I felt so low I wanted to cut myself, starve myself, drink myself into an oblivion, or even kill myself, I wanted to tell her to go “fuck herself.” Elyse is amazing person and I love her dearly, but those words don’t mean a lot in when you’re at one of your greatest moments of suffering. I always told myself though that she loved me enough to say that to me and helped relieve some of the pain.

The second woman whose words ring in my ears are Audre Lorde. I’ve always loved her saying “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Recently though an amazing revolutionary lovin’ man in Boston, Eroc, posted on his Facebook page another Lorde quote that I try to remember: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

My actions that make people so uncomfortable and angry with me that they go so far as to threaten me with unfounded law suits or personally attack my character are my form of self-preservation and that is my resistance against the colonizing powers that want to destroy me and this is one of my acts o

Ableism: The other -ism to Bitch Slap in the Face! Part Two

Tucker Max I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell Promotional Posters

Alright so I promised Part Two would come the day after Part One. I do apologize, but feel free to blame my neck. She’s a cruel mistress that I’m desperate to bound and gag and certainly not for any kinky kicks. Next time I’ll start with the beer and my weeks long neck flare up will be swirling down the drain *read previous post*

So here we are at the concluding part of my Ableism piece. Last you read was the definition of ableism and how it impacts disabled peoples’ lives in everyday discrimination and invisibility up to larger institutional oppression. I also began the discussion of the stereotypes that disabled people face and the two in particular that are personally enraging for myself: paternalism and desexualization, fetishization, and victimization of disabled women. In Part Two I’ll be delving into the later three. Buckle up readers, it’s going to be a furious ride.

Women=Sex. Right? Isn’t that what we’re told everyday through a variety of ways? Well not all women equal sex. If you’re a disabled woman then some make the assumption that you’re not up for the task. If you are physically able to have sex then you probably won’t be any good at it because of any limitations you suffer from. Women are devalued to the worth of our sex abilities, but as disabled women we lose all value because we are seen as unable to sexually perform well if at all.

I was on a bad date-shocked as I’m sure you all are-a few months ago and after a brief description of my knee surgeries the gentleman had the audacity to ask if I still had my “mojo.” Yes folks, my “mojo.” Not only was he enough of a cretin to think it was his right to ask this question, and on a first date no less, but we apparently time warped into the 1970s when a word like “mojo” was used. I was so taken aback by this that I wasn’t able to form a pithy come back and instead sort of sputtered a “yes” and changed the subject. Despite my attempt to move onto another topic he kept at it. He then went on about how he needed to have sex often and he just wanted to make sure I was up to fulfilling his needs. Yes, you read correctly, his needs. I soon said it was time to call it a night. During our goodbyes he invited me to his place and after being shut down flat he then repeatedly invited himself to my place. He went home to play with his “mojo” solo.

After my first knee surgery I was stuck at home for quite some time. I spent the first month primarily fading in and out of consciousness with brief moments of lucidity to painfully hobble to the bathroom, have a bite or two of food, and pop more pain pills. Around week 6 I was finally able to hold my head up on my own while still taking my all meds. As you can imagine it wasn’t long before I was pretty stir crazy. I had sparked an online conversation with someone and once I had the green light from my surgeon to go out and I felt ok enough to take a cab somewhere we made a date.

Upon telling my mom about the good news, leaving my place being the first and the date being the second, she instantly told me to be extra careful with a bit of an ominous tone to her thickly Okie accented voice. This wasn’t something she had said to me in a long time. At this point in my life she’s usually more of the vain of a plain ol’ “Be careful. Love you” than a somber warning. I followed up a flip response and asked her what the deal was. She replied that I was especially vulnerable because of my knee surgery and that he had a better chance of hurting me if he wanted to. Of course this didn’t need saying. As a woman I am aware of my vulnerability to rape and sexual attacks, and as a woman with disability said vulnerability increases greatly. There are many who would take advantage of this. Coincidentally, it was after my first knee surgery that my PTSD flared up and I began having nightmares every night again. If any woman didn’t need a reminder of her vulnerability it’s this one.

The women’s vulnerability issue of ableism feeds directly into rape culture. Anytime a woman is seen in a compromising situation society deems it appropriate for her to be taken advantage of. She’s not attacked, she’s not raped, she’s simply getting what she wanted, deserved, and asked for by being vulnerable. The promotional posters for the wretchedly misogynistic movie I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is a glorious example of ableism meeting rape culture. The posters had the tag line “Strippers Won’t Tolerate Disrespect (Yeah Right). Blind Girls Never See You Coming.” I’m going to save my comments about the stripper sentence for another time and focus solely on the blind girls remark. Let me start by saying “WOW!” These posters might as well have had a picture of a blind woman holding a sign saying “Rape me; I’m easy prey.” This is both fetishizing and victimizing.

Rape culture defines women as less than human and nothing more than a victim responsible for her own demise. Ableism defines disabled people as less than human and childlike due to their illnesses or low mobility. Through the meeting of ableism and rape culture we disabled women are seen as nothing more than easier prey than the average woman. We’re easier to attack and based on the ableistic and misogynistic notions of our culture people would not believe that sex was possible and as a result rape would not possible. Our government, schools, media, and residents cannot even decide on what rape is or if and when it’s possible for able bodied women even when it is clearly videoed, Facebooked, Tweeted, and texted in front of their faces. Even in the aftermath of such vividly clear wrong doing our media displays empathy for rapists rather than the woman who was attacked as we saw in the aftermath of the Steubenville case. If our ableistic society believes that disabled people can’t have sex and our society can’t decide on what rape of a woman is then this clearly leaves disabled women in a highly vulnerable place.

Another notion that we disabled women battle is the societal belief that no one would rape us because we’re undesirable. If we are believed when we bravely and publicly tell of our ordeals then we are met with the twisted idea that we lowly disabled women should be happy that someone cared enough to rape us because we are less worthy than an able bodied woman. The thought of being less desirable than what society deems as a so called normal woman is quite often a disgusting form of double misogyny and fat phobia that fat women face when they’ve been raped. The idea that anyone would rape a fat woman is so far fetched because culture has deemed her unattractive because she’s fat that no one believes she was raped. In the off chance she is believed then there is the sentiment that she should simply be happy someone did find her decent enough to rape. It is as if she won the big prize of a pity rape. “Dear Diary, I was finally raped today. I feel so much better about myself!”

Desexualization, fetishization, and victimization of disabled women are all part of a larger system of ableism and sexism that form together with misogyny to perfectly fall into line with America’s rape culture. Throw a dash of paternalism into the above mix and you have the perfect recipe for ableism stew. The most infuriating aspect of ableism for me is the literal and figurative invisibility from the world, including other disabled people and my so called leftist, feminist, bi, etc family. I don’t appear disabled, but I am. I cannot, we cannot, be pushed aside into disabled ghettos and forgotten. If one suffers then we all suffer. I’m suffering and I know that I’m not the only one. This is a fight for the many, not merely the few.

I’ve attempted to write with both the clarity and ferocity that these issues deserve. I’ve also attempted to channel my own personal pain and the resulting rage into two constructive posts that hopefully have given my readers further insight into the issues of ablesism and how it crosses paths with other -isms and oppressions. Obviously there are a great many more facets to ableism and the multiple forms of oppression that the many 1 out of 5 disabled people in America face everyday. I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on these issues in a respectful manner that is empowering to those of us who have disability. Now get off your ass, learn more about the issues, the policies (today Obama’s budget called for $400 mil cut to Social Security. SS pays disability!), and begin advocating!