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

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The Recent Disappearance of Jen

I recently suffered five weeks of miserable neck pain that ran down my psyche, my emotional well being, and left me mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from the pain and the lack of sleep. It wasn’t long before I was snapping at people and that old feeling of hopelessness began to creep back.

In early April I underwent new Cervical and Lumbar MRIs that found my back has become worse in the last two years. Thank the Goddesses for small favors though my neck has remained the same.

Only a week before these results were delivered my physical therapist informed me that she fears my knees have plateaued. According to her I should be able to walk and stand for forty five minutes to an hour before the pain in my knees requires that I sit. I laughed when she said that. My neck and back are so bad that I can’t go ten minutes before I have to sit down. She thinks my neck and back problems are interfering with knee recovery. I could have told ya that my entire body is connected and not just a series of independent parts.

This now takes us to my appointment with a new chronic pain management doctor at Brigham and Women hospital in Boston.
Same ol’ story different day. He wanted to do steroid injections and had no other new suggestion. Blah blah. I’ve already tried them and the cost benefit analysis is not in my favor. They made me lose my hair. They fucked up my skin more than it already is. I’m currently covered in a rash that won’t go away and that is making me miserable. I don’t need to be more miserable due to skin issues or other health problems simply because I’m trying to manage my pain. Now that I’m diabetic steroids sky rocket my blood sugar and make me very sick. They run my immune system down and make me more prone to catch every virus and bacterial infection out there. A run down immune system also means that I’ll get more yeast infections than I already get. All of this and I only get moderate relief for six weeks and I can only get the shots every three months. It’s absolutely not a long term solution given how it sucks the bones of calcium and does Goddess only knows what else.

I asked about neck surgery and par for the course he was against it. He felt I wasn’t really a candidate; that my neck wasn’t structurally bad enough. My neck isn’t bad enough? My quality of life is shit. I’m in horrible pain and it just gets worse with every year and no one seems to have any new remedies for me. I’ve been living with pain since I was 14 and I’m only 33 now! I’d like to have a long, healthy, happy life. MY NECK IS BAD! Fucking fix it or find an excellent way to really manage the pain or I’ll take a goddamn knife to it myself!

Obviously I told the Doc no steroids. I want to try Botox injections next. He referred me to a Neurologist who does them. Of course I can’t get in to see her until July 11th. It occurred to me after I left though that she may not even do Botox for neck pain given that she’s a Neurologist. It may not be a good idea to do Botox for neck pain given that I get it for my migraines too. I’m going to do some research and call my current Neuro and this new one.

I was also referred me to a psychologist who does Biofeedback to help control my pain on the mental health side. Of course I can’t get in to see him until June 11th. He reluctantly gave me the name of a surgeon too.
In the mean time I’ve also faxed my MRI reports to a neck surgeon at Mass General Hospital. I don’t even get an appointment with him until he has reviewed the MRIs and decides if he thinks I’m surgical. If he doesn’t think I’m surgical then I get sent to the physiatrist in the office.

Thankfully I heard from Dr. Shin’s office telling me that he wants to see me. I have an appointment on May 17th. Here’s hoping he has some better options for me.

Welcome to the bullshit of trying to manage spine problems and chronic pain. It’s a broke down journey with a broke down body across an endless dilapidated swing bridge that’s hanging on by threads over the deepest of canyons. At least this broke down body is possessed by a woman smart enough to pack a canteen full of top notch vodka and all her trusty meds. It makes the fight across much more interesting indeed.

Coming up in my next posts:
My feelings surrounding the Boston Marathon
Thoughts on running for office as a woman in my position

See you then!

With a Little Help From my Sisters

My morning began with my alarm and an irritating email from my mom. I’ll save the diatribes on my mom for a later date when I have copious amounts of vodka and sedatives. I simply don’t think I can currently stomach getting into the feelings she brings up inside up. Needless to say though our relationship is less than copacetic.

So an hour later I get to therapy upon which I launch into the hour with utter anger of me just bitching nonstop about my mom and other things that have been building up inside me. My therapist commented that usually I’m rather humorous about my problems and pain and that the way I described things often makes here want to chuckle, but she knows better. This reminds me of my father and all of the ways of which this abusive, worthless bastard beat me down in every way you can think of and how I eventually learned to disappear within myself. Over time I learned that the only way I could possibly express any pain, or myself, was through sarcasm. Let’s just say that a lot of unplanned things came out in therapy today.

By the end of my session I felt like a balloon that had shrieked across the room loosing air along the way only to end up shriveled up on the floor completely sad and deflated. It hit me all at once and all I could do was cry. Then all I wanted to do was drink.

I left therapy, ran errands, got myself home to get ready for 5 year anniversary fundraiser for an organization (keeping the name anon  that I am a part of. The org trains and supports Democratic women who want to run for political office.

I finally left my place in an outfit that I wasn’t entirely happy with. I feel so much pressure to try to fit in with these women in politics. I have next to nothing in common with them other than the fact that we want more Democratic women in political office. I’m the only Native woman, probably the only bi woman, one of the few with chronic health issues, so and so forth. I just don’t feel like one of them. I try to talk to them and most of them are white, married, own homes, traditional living and what not. What on Earth do I have in common with them?! So yeah, I was stressed leaving my place because I knew no matter what I wore I wouldn’t fit in.

So I get to the building and get the run around from various people blah blah and finally get to where I’m supposed to be. I’m stressed out and in pain from standing and walking what would be nothing worth mentioning to a health bodied person, but for me was rather awful. I felt like turning around and going back home, but I couldn’t. I made a commitment. Part of me wanted to be there too. Sick, huh?

Being the ever giving good Samaritan I voluntered for part of the event…or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. It became quickly apparent though that it was somehow expected that I’d volunteer the entire event. I never agreed to this. I was bit aggravated by this, but whatever. I’d do my bit and once things had died down I’d enjoy myself. Ooooh except that the event didn’t have chairs. It was a standing room only event. Yes, that’s right, because every person is  totally able bodied and able to stand for two hours without any pain. It was also hot as freaking hell in that room. I spent perhaps 3o minutes in event, 15 of which were spent sitting on a window sill before another women from the org rather rudely tapped my arm and told me to get up, before I had to leave. I was in such excruciating pain that I became nausea and the room began to spin. I didn’t think I could make it out of the room with my dignity in tact. I’d had a glass of wine so of course if I feel of tripped or had the vapors or whatever the fuck you wanted to call it people would right it off as me being drunk. I was in utter agony. I couldn’t even stay and watch Sheriff Andrea Cabral-whom I adore-speak.

During this 30 minutes of ablistic inflicted torture from my progressive Dem women I listened to the speech from a fellow program graduate who currently holds office. She spoke of her fear of running for office and telling her story of having been a homeless, teen mom and survivor of domestic violence and how she still was able to make it into office with the help of her organization sisters. During her speech I kept thinking about how I should be able to run for office, and win, because if anyone understands the various issues of constituents it’s me, but no one supports me. What would my fellow “sisters” think if they all knew I”m one of those so called dirty bisexuals? Where is my advocacy org as a Native person? What about all the times in my life I’ve spoken openly about being a survivor of rape and having had an abortion? What about all of those other things that I just can’t speak openly about? Hell, my so called sisters can’t even provide goddamn chairs to sit in during our fucking fundraising event so I can participate! Who the fuck is going to support me to run for office?!

I hobbled my way out to the registration table where I originally was and there wasn’t a chair available for me to sit in. At this point it was all I could do to keep from sobbing. One of my fellow volunteers offered her chair, but of course didn’t bother to move the ridiculous amounts of crap out of the way from her chair. I was just deflated. I was out of fight.

Eventually I left the event with someone from my graduating class of ’08. We went to one of my favorite spots, the “Last Hurrah, and had a couple of drinks. We never had an opportunity to get to know each other well when we were in the program together, but I can see her being a great friend. I opened up a great deal about my feelings of alienation from the “progressive” world and irritation from the evening. I’m open about my thoughts which I believe often appear to people as my feelings, but I’m rather closed off when it comes to sharing my feelings. I’m guarded. I’ve learned I have to be guarded. I didn’t feel as on edge with her. Today/tonight may not have been stellar, but there was a surprisingly pleasant end.

Here’s a tip for you based on tonight:

Don’t sleep with people in your industry especially if it’s a rather small world. There were two people at the event tonight that I have suffered the misfortune of going to bed with. Neither of these scenarios ended well. Of course these both happened before I realized I’d be involved in politics in Boston, but I digress. Don’t have to spend an evening when you feel like utter shyte dodging two assholes in an room of a couple hundred people. There just isn’t enough vodka in the world for that.

*For that sake of drunken integrity no editting was performed on this blog entry.

**Alright alright I’ll come clean and admit that I did some editting when I woke up the next day. It was simply to protect the privacy of organization that I’m involved with though so any less than excellent grammar and such is still there.