Emergency Financial Support to Travel to Standing Rock

Osiyo Readers,

As many of you know I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a journalist. I’ve never used my blog in this way, but my Native community is under attack and we need help. I’m reaching out to you for emergency financial support to travel to the Standing Rock Reservation in Cannonball, ND to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline and to report the news from the ground.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile pipeline that stretches from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois and crosses the Missouri River (MO) and the Oglala Aquifer which is the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The DAPL was originally planned to cross the MO River near Bismarck, but it was deemed a too heavily populated area to risk the water supply so it was rerouted to the reservation. This act of environmental racism and genocide led to the creation of the Sacred Stone Camp and many other camps near the DAPL construction site near the reservation. Since Sacred Stone was created in July 2016, over 4,000 people of over 300 tribal nations have traveled there to protect the water, Native lives, and our way of life. Since then, the ND government and the DAPL have unleashed extreme violence against our people through the use of the National Guard, drones, attack dogs, mace, helicopters, assault weapons, brutality, harassment, LRAD, cutting off the water supply, and many of those arrested have been sexually assaulted by law enforcement through the use of unnecessary strip searches.

The purpose of my trip to Standing Rock is to stand in solidarity with our people there, to help protect the water, but also to provide further Native created media content for primarily non-Native media sources. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been covered well in Native media, but has had little attention in mainstream media, as well as in this year’s election cycle. The coverage that has occurred, has been primarily by non-Native journalists and has been racist or misconstrued. It is crucial that Native People are able to tell our stories to the world in our own voices, especially for Native Women and LGBTQ Two Spirit Natives.

This request is coming on the heels of yet another attack of the people at Standing Rock. On Saturday, the paramilitary outfitted law enforcement of North Dakota maced and used brutal force on the peaceful Water Protectors. Eighty-three people were arrested, including journalists, and one was sent to the hospital due to the police brutality. They threw one of our peaceful girls to the ground with her face buried in the mud. The police have been confiscating people’s phones for weeks so that they cannot share videos and photos of the abuses there. The ND government has not only arrested journalists, but has attempted to charge them with trespassing and rioting and one documentary filmmaker now faces up to 45 years in prison. Native People at the camps are calling for more warriors to come and help protect the water.

As a Native Woman it is my duty to be there to stand with my relations to protect the water and lives of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, as well as those that will impacted by the devastation of the Missouri river, but also to further report the news. Our realities must be told to the world and they must be told by us.

Because I’m a freelance writer I do not have the financial support that some journalists may have. I’m asking the greater community to help me make the trip to Standing Rock, by making donations and purchasing the items on my Standing Rock Amazon Wish List. The majority of the supplies on the wish list will be left with the people at the camps. By helping me you’re also creating further resources for those at the camps, specifically for those with mobility impairments who require accommodations such as cots and chairs.

Any amount you are able to give is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to making this a reality. You can read some of my published work on Wear Your Voice, The Establishment, and Autostraddle.

My fundraising campaign is on YouCaring. I’ll soon have my Amazon Wish List ready to post. Please share my fundraising campaign in your networks. I’ve included my campaign link here, but you can also find me with youcaring.com/jendeerinwaterdapl

Wado!

Jen Deerinwater

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.

Suffering, 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 of political warfare.

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.

Trigger Warning: The Kitchen Drawer I Avoid

I’ve wanted to throw up a quick and dirty post the last few days about some of the positive events in my life, but I simply haven’t had time. I don’t want this blog to be nothing more than a chronicle of my pain and horrific lows, but it’s hard sometimes to find the where with all to write when you’re riding the rainbow highway.

When I’m on an upswing I’m able to put all of my extra energy into my activism. This means I make it to all of the events and meetings that I want to and need to attend. It also means that I follow-up on emails and phone calls and take care of work for events I’m organizing. It means I’m on top of cleaning, household chores that my body can handle, and cleaning up writing projects. When I’m not on that healthy plain though, well, I’m a fucking, goddamn wreck to say the least.

I hit the 50 car pile up tonight. I don’t feel up to, nor do I feel it’s significant enough, delving into the reasons for this crash and burn experience. All that matters is that it happened.

I’ve had a few very rough weeks. Tonight was a rough night indeed. When I hit a low point of pain and/or feeling triggered I go to a place of self-harm. This has and can take many forms, including food restrictions, over eating, purging, drinking too much, abusing alcohol and illegal drugs, cutting myself, and taking wildly unsafe risks. Many of these behaviors I have been able to move away from, but food restriction, abusing alcohol, and cutting have been my constant battle these last few years.

When I’m at my worst, like this last month and tonight, I have to avoid my kitchen because I can practically hear my kitchen knives calling to me. It’s so sick and disturbing and pathetic that I’m 35 and this is where I am in my life. I’ve had unbelievably enormous goals and dreams since I was a mere 6-year-old girl and now some days all I can hope for is that I don’t cut myself. I know it’s years of abuse, systematic oppression, and so forth that have led me here and none of that is my fault, but that doesn’t release me from these horrible trappings and it doesn’t give me the fucking life I worked so hard for. Only an hour ago I found myself in my kitchen sharpening one my knives before I finally dissolved into tears and dropped it back into it’s place.

I’m full of rage and pain with no idea how to temper these feelings. I’m fed up with it all, but I’m primarily tired of being afraid of that one kitchen drawer.

There Simply is No Catchy Title to Give

When I decided to create this blog I told myself that I would not use it as a forum to critique events, political or otherwise, unless I felt that they had a direct impact on me and my path to wellness. This has been difficult for me because I can see the impact on myself in many of life’s events, but I’ve tried to keep this blog in the direct state of I. These last few weeks, however, have left me in an emotional land of limbo where I’m simply not sure if this Alice will ever wake up.

I am still, one month later, in a state of disbelief that not one, but two bombs went off on Marathon Monday. It seems unreal to me that the city that I have always viewed as one of the cleanest and safest of the urban landscapes I’ve called home was also home to people that would cause such destruction and devastation. It’s no secret that there is no love lost between Boston and I, but overall I’ve felt much safer here than in other cities I’ve lived. The finish line area of the Boston Marathon is in a neighborhood that I love and the idea of peoples’ limbs flying through the air and lives taken there is just too ghastly to comprehend. I still have not visited the area.

April 19th was another shocking day for those of us in Boston. I awoke to find out that my neighborhood of Brighton, the neighboring areas, and the city of Watertown were on lockdown due to an early morning carjacking, a bomb throwing and gun fight with the suspected bombers, and the search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This all led to the injury of MBTA Police Officer Richard Donahue, Jr. and the death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and suspected terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The entire city of Boston was eventually placed on lock down with baited breath full of fear. For me this made the memories of 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing come rushing to the surface of my consciousness. I was living in Los Angeles when 9-11 occurred and the planes that struck the towers were bound for LA. I recall LA was rather still and quiet that day as well. I was 15 and living in Abilene, TX when the OKC bombing occurred. Being an Okie though it felt as if the bomb went off in my own backyard. Despite these personal links to such horrid acts of terrorism I had never been directly in the panic zone before. I spent most of the 19th watching the news and giving updates on Facebook. The one positive that came from this tragedy-what a trite, smug, and maddening descriptor to be left with-was that I heard from friends I hadn’t spoken to in ages. Their outreach of concern was a nice reminder that I’m loved.

Eventually the lockdown was lifted and the T-slang for the MBTA system- began to run again. I did not leave my apartment until much later that night.

Part Two to come.