A few of my favorite things

I love so many things and I think that’s awesome. I absolutely love music. My favorite genre is indie and most of my favorite songs are from artists I’m not too familiar with! But of course there are some artists I love. I love Rhye so much- ugh everything about their music is just so beautiful.  I love Sticky Fingers, Milky Chance, Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, and Oh Wonder. I love Amy Winehouse, Alanis Morissette and other music like that. Oh my goodness do I love “What’s up” by Four Non Blondes. I will find myself singing that song in public somewhere whether it’s a coffee shop, a bar, wherever, I will one day sing that song to a small crowd! I love music. It’s so calming and makes me feel so nice. Music is wonderful. I love broadway and the art of musical theater. Shoshana Bean and Cynthia Erivo rock my world. I love classical music and I enjoy dissecting different pieces of classical music in concert choir…even if my brain currently doesn’t understand half of the music theory shit my director relays to us. I love candles, especially flower scented ones like lavender. I love lavender. It’s probably my favorite floral scent, it’s very relaxing. I love the color purple. Especially lilac. I love flowers, especially once they’re all dried up. I have two dried up flowers that are probably 4 years old. I’ve taken them with me in their cute little vase from my old childhood house to our new townhouse apartment. They sit on my dresser and I love looking at them. At school, I was given some flowers and I placed them on top of one of the pieces of art hanging on my wall. Now the flowers are dried and they’re even more beautiful! They’re one of the simpler things that I absolutely adore about my room. I love people. I love fighting for human rights and I love being a part of the social justice movement, even if the extent of my activism right now is just starting and continuing a conversation about world issues…baby steps:). I love psychology. I love it so much. It helps me find answers to the world. Answers about my childhood, my mother, my family system, all of the ways my childhood has affected me and all of the ways I need to grow and heal. Growing and healing sucks but I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to work on the betterment of myself if it wasn’t for psychology! I love my therapist. She is amazing, she is what I’ve needed all my life. She has helped me grow tremendously in such a short time, and she has provided me with knowledge and answers I’ve yearned for my entire life.

I love children and I really have a passion for working with children who have special needs. Children are beautiful and innocent creatures who deserve all of the nourishment in the world regardless of ailments and disabilities. Helping people makes me very happy. Funny enough it’s one of my downfalls. I would rather help people than help myself…that’s what they call codependent in psychology. I put other people’s needs and issues before my own and I sometimes care about other people’s problems more than they do. I know this is a fault but I am growing and working and I truly believe there is a healthy balance. One day I’ll be able to help and care for people but not be codependent. I’ll put my own needs first and understand healthy boundaries.

I love friends. I love long laughs especially the ones that make you gasp for air. I love being so hysterical in laughter about the dumbest shit. I love being stoned. Weed is a beautiful thing, when used appropriately. I don’t let it interfere with my work, school, or general life, but the same way people love to drink a beer or go out and get drunk, I love to smoke a bowl and get high. I love writing. I love being able to express myself through words, even if it’s sloppy and messy. As a child I was never given the opportunity to safely share how I was truly feeling, but now I can through writing.

Man, do I love girls..the irony of that sentence is funny. But I absolutely fucking love girls. I love their soft lips and their hair. Whether it’s long and filled with spiral curls, short and straight, or anything in between, I love their hair. I love their boobs, and curves and folds; I love the female body…especially the lower half. I love sex. If you think about it, sex is truly a wonderful thing. I think it’s sad that we’re more ashamed to talk about the beautiful, natural, and wonderful process of sex than school shootings or violence. Why is violence normalized compared to love and affection? If this world could appreciate, respect, and love one other more we would all be a lot happier…but I digress. I clearly love a lot of things, and this list doesn’t even cover half of the things I could go on and on about. Oh! I can’t end this without talking about my love for books. I love words, hearing about people’s life experiences, fantasizing about what reality could be through the art of science fiction; I love new perspectives.

But see even though this list is long and great, I’m missing the most important thing to love: myself. I need to be gentle and kind with myself and I struggle with that. It’s easier to resort to old learned habits of just beating myself up and ripping myself apart, but the body can only harbor so much hatred until it is exasperated. I’m learning that life is about processes. I am a process. I am not an end goal. I’m learning that life isn’t about fulfilling a checklist and being perfect every minute of every day. It’s about being happy, growing, and learning from experiences along the way. I’m in the very early stages of accepting that life is messy and that I am messy. I am not perfect and I never will be. Let me repeat that. I am not perfect and I never will be. I’m starting to understand that recovery isn’t the absence of problems/mental health issues, but instead learning how to cope with them.  That said, I may always have highs and lows, anxious/racing thoughts, worries, etc.  But one day I will get to a point where these issues don’t define me and my life.  My mom has fucked me up in ways that I still have yet to understand and although I wish she didn’t affect me anymore, I still struggle with different aspects of life because of her.  Instead of holding resentment, my job is to learn how to overcome the varying struggles the best I possibly can (although currently I hold lots of resentment..and that’s okay!).

The same way I need to learn to love my psyche, I must learn to love my body for the way it is, not the unrealistic perfect way I wish it to be.  I might always be a little extra sweaty, have some extra tummy fat, have this slight double chin, and big full cheeks. But, my body is amazing! I’ve got a great butt and boobs I never thought I’d have and my eyebrows are full and have great shape. My nose is nice and I really like my nose ring. My hair is strong and resilient..even though I still find things about my hair to complain about. My eyes are a beautiful brown and my eyelashes are long and beautiful. But beyond the physical characteristics I love, my body fights to keep me alive every single day, and that’s what is truly amazing. Everyday, this system I still fail to understand works together to keep every part of my body functioning properly so I can thrive. My body clearly loves me, it’s just time I start loving it back.  It’s time for me to put myself at the top of the list of things I love.

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The Storm

**This post contains subject matter that might be triggering to some.  As always, read at your own risk.  If you need to talk to someone, please call this number: 1-800-273-8255.  There is always hope.  You can also find more resources at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ . **

I’ve slept all day, but I still feel physically and mentally exhausted.  But even though I’m exhausted, I can’t sleep.  If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s okay, because it doesn’t make sense to me either.  I want to cry, but I can’t.  Or maybe it’s not that I can’t, I just won’t let myself.  I’m too scared my roommate will walk in and I don’t feel like explaining myself.  I’m so overwhelmed.  I’m overwhelmed by the possibility of diagnoses I could be.  Currently, the latest one is cyclothymia.  I was terrified of that at first since it’s considered a form of bipolar.  I’ve stigmatized bipolar as I abhor the way my sister acts and she appears to have bipolar, but I welcome the diagnosis now, as it has helped me make sense of my behaviors and feelings.  Out of curiosity, I googled borderline personality disorder, and found myself frantic and scared…the phrase curiosity killed the cat exists for a reason, I guess.  Because I feel my mood swings happen so often throughout a day, I wondered if my symptoms would more closely align with borderline personality disorder, as with cyclothymia it says the period of highs and lows has to occur over weeks or months.  And the idea that I could have borderline personality disorder made me so terrified.  One of my biggest fears is becoming my mother.  Although undiagnosed, my mom meets the criteria for many mental health issues, and I feel borderline personality disorder is at the top of that list.  One of my sister’s ex boyfriends also had borderline personality and bipolar disorder and he was very erratic and unstable.  One time he walked from Route 27 to the neighborhood we lived in at the time, which was on the opposite side of town.  Clearly, it was an extremely long and dangerous walk.  He was always doing wild things and when my sister tried to breakup with him, he would plead with her for her to stay with him, as he said he would kill himself if they broke up.  My ex “girlfriend”…I put quotations because I don’t know how to label it since we never had the exclusive label of girlfriends..I don’t know it was a very very toxic relationship.  Anyways, my ex “whatever” did the same thing to me when I told her I needed space for myself.  After weeks of “Karen” and her ex-girlfriend..but not really ex-girlfriend apparently.. (I know..it was very complicated) screaming at me that it wasn’t fair for me to “leave” “Karen” behind because she was suicidal, “Karen” actually tried to kill herself.  It was the night after I told her I needed some time for myself and that I didn’t even want to continue a friendship at that point.  “Karen” was the manager of the basketball team, and had access to the girl’s locker rooms.  She used her scarf as a noose and tried to kill herself in the girl’s locker room.  It was a very complicated and fucked up situation.  I had people I didn’t even know screaming at me that I was a terrible person and friend and that it was my “job” to be “Karen’s” friend now more than ever as I was lucky “Karen” was alive.  Even though I was the only one who actually notified an adult of the situation, I was made out to be a villain.  I called my therapist who sent the high-school’s counselor over, and I called my coach.  Together, the two of them were able to send “Karen” to get the help she needed.  But I was still told I was an awful friend, person, and just made to feel extremely shitty overall.  I was screamed at for wanting to take space and distance myself.  I’ve realized I’ve digressed and that this has become a totally different post than I originally intended.  Obviously, this situation impacted me deeply and it’s something I should talk about in therapy (and I will).  But the way this relates back to my first point of being terrified of the diagnoses is how I’ve associated past negative behaviors and situations with these diagnoses, and to learn that I could also have the same condition(s) makes me feel very nervous.  I don’t want to be associated with such negative behaviors and I don’t know it’s just scary.  Obviously, this is a part of the journey and I’ll continue to learn to destigmatize mental health issues.  Even though I constantly advocate for others to destigmatize mental illness, I’ve come to realize I heavily stigmatize it myself!  I know it’s hypocritical and not fair, but I’m human.  I’ve associated certain people and past experiences with certain mental illnesses and I need to learn to separate the people from the illness.  Or maybe I’m all wrong and this is all wrong, I don’t know!  All I know is that I’m learning and trying to grow, but I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand.  Mental illness fucking sucks and makes life such a challenge.  It complicates everything.  Not being on the right medication sucks ass and I don’t want to wait any longer to make the switch, but I know that realistically I have to wait until after finals, as it could be detrimental to my grades otherwise.  I hate feeling this way, and I’m so scared I’ll feel like this forever and that I’ll never be truly happy and at ease.  I just want the answers to life.  I want to know who I am and love who I am.  I want to better understand others and the world around me.  I want to be happy!  I know these are all life-long processes, and I suck at processes.  If my old english teacher were reading this, he would laugh.  He was constantly reminding me that everything is a process and that I should learn to enjoy the process.  We would always joke about how much I hated “the process.”  Well this is no different.  Whether it’s hating the tedious process of getting a musical together or getting life together, I hate being uncomfortable and I hate the struggle.  Somehow I need to learn how to be okay with not being comfortable, as usually most growing happens when you’re not comfortable.  But for now, my mind is a fucking mess and I don’t know what to do to calm the storm.

But….

I don’t know what I’m good at.  I’m a perfectionist and I’m always heavily judging everything I do.  I don’t know if I actually have a good voice or if I’m actually good at writing.  I get temporary validation from others after a performance or after producing a piece of writing in which people give me compliments, but other than that, I am super unaware of my capabilities.  I always come up with “buts.”  Yeah, I performed at the White House with my high-school a capella group, but that doesn’t mean I’m particularly good, it means the group is good.  Yes, I was in the Cabaret’s and school musicals, but so were a lot of people.  I even got a supporting role my senior year, but on film you can see how trash my acting and singing was.  Okay maybe my singing wasn’t total trash, but it definitely wasn’t as good compared to the others I shared the stage with.  I’m the only non-music major freshman in my college’s Concert Choir, but the only reason I got in is because I’m lucky.  I can’t sing like the other people in my class, therefore I’m not good.  I can’t sing operas, and I can’t belt, so if I can’t do those things I must not be a proper singer, since everyone in the industry is doing one of those two things.  I love writing, but that doesn’t mean I’m good at it.  I have a blog, but anyone can have a blog.  My friend Sammi says that she can feel the emotion through my writing, but she’s bias because she loves me.  My dad reads my essays and talks about how writing is my “thing,” but parents are supposed to say nice things about their kids and he’s not really too familiar with writing technique and stuff like that.  Well okay, how about Mr. D?  Mr. D was my junior english teacher and is very important in my life.  He never blew smoke up my ass and definitely told me when my writing was not good, but even when he complimented my writing I still felt inadequate.  I guess this is deep-rooted in my childhood, and I’m exploring that in therapy, but it’s a fucking nightmare having this dialogue in my head whenever I’m considering if I’m good at something.  Everyday in choir, I’m scared that the people next to me hear my voice and are thinking, “How the fuck did this bitch get in here? She sucks.”  And funny enough it’s probably very unlikely that they’re thinking that.  In actuality, I’m probably the only one thinking that.  I honestly have no idea how the fuck I’m in Concert Choir because my voice isn’t what it should be.  It’s not classical enough for opera, and it’s not forward enough for broadway.  Honestly, I have no fucking idea what it is.  But I walk around feeling so insecure about my capabilities.  I struggle to understand my talent unless I’m getting positive feedback and validation from others, and to me that’s sad.

Picking up the Pieces

For my high school education, I attended Franklin High School in Somerset, New Jersey.  My sophomore year, I was assaulted during the school day.  Although I am now a freshman in college, the experience of being assaulted in school is something that still affects me to this day.  In therapy, I have been discussing the PTSD surrounding my childhood trauma and how it affects my anxiety levels and behaviors.  Recently, I brought up the experience of being assaulted and how I think it also might be affecting me still.  I discussed the experience and learned more than I thought I would have about how prevalent this struggle still is in my life.  It has been on my mind lately, and I have decided that I need to share my experience…

In this moment I have sharp shooting pain on the sides and top of my head.  I am reliving what happened to me my sophomore year of high school.  I am reliving the pain I felt each time the girl slammed my head into the ground over and over again.  My face tingles and the pain on the side of my head increases.  I try and close my eyes to make the memories flashing through my head go away, but when I close my eyes, it just makes the flashbacks brighter.

I feel like my skull is being bashed into the ground all over again.

This girl had no idea who I was, she didn’t even know my name.  It is so hard to write this.  My body is in physical pain and my anxiety increases by the second, but I need to write this.  I have felt that this attack was my fault.  I have felt that it was a fight and not an assault.  I have felt wrong and crazy and weak; I am not any of those things.  I was gaslighted by my school because they knew they fucked up and didn’t want to get sued.  People need to know this happened.  People need to know that many institutions will go as far as they need to in order to cover up things that make them look bad.  People need to understand that what happened to me is a lot more serious than “a scuffle.”  I need people to understand how fucking hard it was for me to get through that year, and how hard certain situations still are for me as a result of this.   I want people to understand how strong I am instead of shaming me for not doing x or for doing y.  I can’t pretend this is a small moment in my life that doesn’t still affect me, because it does even if I don’t want it to.

After what felt like an eternity, my friend was finally able to pull my arm hard enough to bring me up off of the ground and away from the vicious blows of this girl.  I walked away for the second time, but this time faster than before so the girl wouldn’t grab my hair from behind again.  I remember every second of walking down that hallway.  I remember a random girl coming up to me and touching me, and I remember telling her through my hysterical tears to “get the fuck away from me.”  She responded that she just wanted to help and she thought what happened was wrong.  She wanted to walk with my two friends and I to the guidance office.  I remember feeling like my head was going to explode from pain.  When I went to try and flatten the rats-nest of hair I was left with after the attack, I remember having large amounts of hair falling into my hand.  That made me shake and scream-cry even more.  But above all of this, what I remember most vividly is walking past two security guards in the hallway, making eye contact with them, and being embarrassed, but even more furious they didn’t ask me if I was okay or if I needed anything.  I was enraged they let that girl hurt me and let the crowd of people egg it on while taking video of the entire thing.  After telling the administration that two security guards witnessed what happened, I was given a yearbook and pointed the two men out.  The school later tried to convince me that I was crazy.  “There is no possible way that those security guards saw what happened.”  I was told one of them was outside attending to a matter, and that the other one was “too far away from the scene to see what had happened.”  Both statements are the largest fucking heaps of bullshit I have ever heard.  Where those TWO security guards were standing, they were able to see everything.  Every fucking thing.  That man was not outside.  I did not make this up.  They made me feel silly and terrible.  I felt so bad that my dad stuck up for me in meetings in front of the board of education when I was wrong.  I felt terrible that I could’ve jeopardized these two men’s careers when they were innocent.  For the rest of my high school career, those two security guards never treated me the same.  All of the shit the school fed me was just lies to cover their asses.  I should’ve been sent to the hospital right away, and that girl should’ve been taken out of the high school in hand cuffs.  Neither of those things happened.  The nurse looked at my puffy face, plainly remarked that I had a black eye and that my lip was bruised, but that it was “nothing serious.”  I had a fucking concussion.  I sat through the rest of the school day feeling so sick.  The piercing head pain, extreme nausea, the hair falling out from my head as if I was balding.  I had to walk around the hallways and be stared at by people.  I had to fucking participate in gym class.  Everyone knew what happened.  I now was recognized as “that white bitch who got her ass beat.” Minutes after the attack, my phone blew up with messages from the field hockey group chat.  Girls were asking about what happened and some girls had the audacity to joke about how “Ella got into a fight.”  As I sat in the nurse’s office next to my guidance counselor, I had a panic attack that everyone knew what happened.  I was terrified I was going to get in trouble for getting into a fight.  I knew nothing was going to be the same from this moment on.  I couldn’t pretend like this didn’t happened because the video was everywhere.  Ironically, that video is the only reason why anyone took me seriously.  It is the only reason people believed me when I said I was in so much pain.

I heard how countless people from my elementary school had their own opinion about what happened.  Lots of them made the remark, “Well that’s what she gets for going to Franklin.”  For context, I went to Catholic school from preschool to eighth grade.  Franklin was a public high school, and I was one of the few individuals from my graduating class that went on to public high school instead of continuing on to Catholic high school.  These people who I had known since preschool and kindergarten laughed at the video and they made fun of me.

My dad was away on business, my sister was at work, and I was too terrified to not only go home on the bus, but also be screamed at by my mother for getting into a fight.  So instead of going home after school, I took a one hour bus ride with my field hockey team to our away game.  I wasn’t even able to play in that game. My coach told me I had to see the physical trainer before she let me play and the trainer diagnosed me with a concussion.  I was so distraught that I couldn’t play in the game.  I was a sophomore starting varsity games and I was so upset that I couldn’t do the one thing that I felt gave me purpose.  Eventually, my mom found out about everything that happened.  Initially, I only called and told my dad what happened, because I didn’t want my mom to yell at me, and I can’t remember why I didn’t tell my sister.  My dad didn’t understand the severity of the situation, no one did, and he encouraged me to stay in school because he didn’t want the other girl to feel like she had won (and partially I believe his initial reaction was that it was a fight not an assault…until this video came out, no one believed how serious the situation was).  But, my mom of course found out, as my dad had to tell her he was coming home early from his business trip.  By the time she found out, I was at the away game.  My mom was screaming at me through the phone that she was livid I went to the game, that I should be at the hospital.  She screamed at me she was “so sick” and couldn’t handle this.  She screamed at me for not telling her.  She interrogated me making sure I didn’t start the fight, because if I did she would be extremely pissed.  I lied on the grass behind the bench with sunglasses on to make the pain from the light slightly more bearable and my hair in a bun to hide how much of it was falling out.  The coaches wouldn’t let me sleep but I just wanted to get away from all of the pain.

My head is spinning, my stomach is churning, I feel like I want to throw up, I’m sweating profusely, and I have this awful taste in my mouth.  I need to fight through this and keep writing.

When I got home around 9:30 that night, my sister drove my mother and I to the hospital, as my dad rushed home from his business trip to meet us there.  The hospital waiting room staff just stared at me as I tried to hide the tears running down my bruised face.  This girl from the field hockey team who was my best friend at the time and I guess kind of more than that had her mother drive her to the hospital.  She gave me her varsity jacket and her childhood blanket.  She rubbed my hand and face.  Her homophobic mother demanded that the two of them needed to leave even after the girl insisted on staying, even after my dad offered to drive the girl home.  They left, and I was left with my mother screaming about how we needed to call the cops.  I asked her to quiet down because she was being loud and my head hurt, but she told me that this was serious and I needed to shut up.  That night was hell.  I waited hours to get an x-ray on my jaw to make sure it wasn’t broken.  The only good thing that came from the night was the doctor telling me I couldn’t go back to school until I saw the concussion specialist.  I was super relieved because the concussion specialist didn’t have an available appointment for about a week; I wouldn’t have to go back to school and feel terrified…in the one place that should protect me…

My therapist wants me to think about why I feel it’s important for me to get through all of the video of the attack.  I can never get past thirty seconds.  I think last night was the longest I ever watched without grimacing and turning the video off.

I couldn’t go to Madrigal’s rehearsals and I missed a lot of performances, but I made it to our White House performance.  On December 23, 2015, I sang at the fucking White House with a concussion.  I was in so much pain all day, but I did it.  Despite the intense anxiety I faced the rest of that year, I had the balls to audition for my first spring musical and I got in.  I wasn’t able to play in any other field hockey games for the rest of the season, but despite my setbacks, I was captain my senior year.  That girl changed my life forever that day, but I have been able to persevere.  That doesn’t negate the terrible things she did or the absolutely disgusting way the school handled the situation.  That doesn’t mean I was without pain and just moved on.  I fought back in my own way.  I didn’t have to hide behind punches and ferocity to prove who I was as a human being.  I stood by my morals.  I only threw punches to get her off of me, and when she backed off, I tried to walk away from her; I didn’t want to hurt her.  Turning my back was the biggest mistake I made, but I’ve learned from it.  It was a pure and good-natured mistake.

This was the topic of family functions for the next year and a half.  Everyone had their opinions of what happened and even when I voiced I no longer wanted to discuss the occurrence, they would continue on with their “insight” and “knowledge.”  Once again, how I felt didn’t matter.  It got to be too much, and I went into the room where everyone kept their coats and had an anxiety attack.  When I shared why I was upset with my cousins and sister, I was made to feel as if I was over-reacting.  I told my sister that I wanted to leave and go home, and she told me that if I told Dad it would be selfish because he was enjoying himself and finally had time away from the shit show of life with my mom.

Soon after, me not feeling well got old.  I still had debilitating migraines in January, but since this assault happened in October, it was old news.  The school nurses, my teachers, even my field hockey coach started to understand less and less.  They thought I was dragging this out.  Even my therapist at the time made me feel as if it was something I needed to quickly get over, but wounds from experiencing something like that don’t heal overnight.  Everyone tried to put bandaids on bullet wounds, and reassure me that I was okay and needed to return to my normal life.

I couldn’t walk down the hallway I was assaulted in for months.  I would take the long way to class.  I got a special pass so I could leave class early/arrive to class late so I wouldn’t have to be in the crowded hallways.  My junior year, I didn’t attend the steered straight assembly, as the assault took place right after this assembly my sophomore year,  and honestly after the assault, I was fearful of all assemblies.  My choir director just looked at me and nodded when he noticed I was the only junior who didn’t leave for the assembly.  Senior year when we had an assembly to honor the those affected and the lives lost by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, I had an anxiety attack having to be in the hallway with so many people.  I still get overwhelmed and fearful in large crowds.  I still hate confrontation like I always have, but now when someone raises their voice at me and gives me attitude, my body and mind shut down.  This past summer I was a camp counselor.  An adult raised their voice at me for having my kids in her bowling lane (which she was wrong about).  Even though I remained calm and cordial, she started talking shit with her coworker.  As the situation escalated, it brought me back to sophomore year.  I felt weak and I felt scared.  I asked someone to watch the kindergartners for me, and I went in the bathroom and had an anxiety attack.  Feeling like that woman wanted to hurt me terrified me.  I have a perpetuating fear of walking by myself especially at night because I am afraid of being physically or sexually assaulted.  This experience has convinced me I am weak and unable to defend myself.  Even though I have taken multiple kickboxing classes, I don’t trust my capabilities.  I had taken kickboxing classes prior to the assault, and was unable to defend myself; this is when I have to remind myself it was an assault.  I did not have time to prepare.  I was caught off guard.

My new therapist is phenomenal and she is helping me work through many adversities I have faced throughout childhood.  I know she will be able to help me with the PTSD surrounding this situation.  But, I still wonder if I will ever feel okay and safe in crowds or if I will ever feel confident in my ability to defend myself.  This girl got off with community service that she may not have even ended up doing.  By her nature, she’s probably hurt and beaten other people.  I feel bad for her.  I feel bad that she is hurting so much that she has to harm others in order to feel important.  I am resentful that my school did not support me and tried to make me feel wrong and crazy.  I am resentful for the medical bills my dad had to pay as a result of this.  I am resentful for the mental scar she has left on me, but by my nature, I will continue to heal and grow.  I will continue to push myself and do everything I can to make sure I am a better person today than I was yesterday.  You can beat me and you can leave bruises, but you can’t take away my perseverance.

I am not sharing this out of spite for my school.  I have much love for my hometown as well as Franklin High School.  There are many faculty members from FHS who remain important figures in my life, and I consider many of these faculty members dear friends.  I have been blessed with many amazing opportunities that I may not have received elsewhere.  I am thankful and grateful.  But, the way this situation was handled was truly appalling.  My love for everyone doesn’t negate the disgraceful way I was treated.  Instead of punishing the girl who assaulted me, the school punished me.  I continuously fought and went to meetings to get this assault categorized as “HIB” (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying), but I was told it was no such thing.  I came in with evidence proving that the criteria of what makes something HIB lined up perfectly with the way in which this girl assaulted me.  She attacked me on the basis of my race.  She threw out many derogatory terms involving my ethnicity multiple times.  The administrator I spoke with compared this girl of African American descent calling me “a white bitch,” along with other demeaning names, to two African Americans using the N word.  Not only is that disgusting, it is irrelevant.  I do not agree with anyone using the N word as it is extremely harmful and dehumanizing, and I told him that.  But I also told him that if two African Americans are using that word consensually and are not offended by that word, then it does not classify as HIB.  This girl using my race as a means of belittling me and targeting me, is in fact HIB.  In the video, it is clear to all viewers that this assault was premeditated.  The comment, “We’re about to watch her pop on this white bitch” being yelled clearly indicates this girl was planning to harm me regardless of what I said to her.  It shows they all knew something I didn’t; they all knew this girl was about to destroy me at whatever cost.  They also started recording before I even spoke to this girl; you don’t randomly record a conversation, unless you know something further is going to result from it.  She singled me out because of my race.  I don’t care what anyone says.  I felt it, and there is ample proof.  Countless lawyers would not take this case, because it is too hard to go against a school, as a public school has immunity.  I don’t know the specific details, but on a basic level, it meant that even though the school was wrong, they were protected.  That is not okay.  Institutions should be held accountable for their shortcomings.  School is supposed to be a safe place to learn.  I should not have had to worry about being assaulted in an environment of learning; especially in an environment that had security guards.  The school also denied having any substantial footage of this assault, which brings me to their next failure.  Either they didn’t have ample security cameras that were working well enough to capture this, which is then a major fuck-up on their part, or they had the footage but they refused to show it to my parents and I, as it would prove their faults.  Regardless, whenever my father and I insisted on being shown the security footage of what happened, they refused to show us.  They used the excuse of the cameras being fuzzy and unable capture everything/anything that happened due to the angle in which the cameras were positioned.  They also refused to show us the footage of the location I claimed the security guards to be standing, even though I’m sure there was footage showing the two of them standing there.  The way in which my high school handled this situation needs to exposed.  That day when the school failed to protect me and I was assaulted has affected me immensely, and continues to affect me even as I’m in college.  Trauma like that doesn’t just go away, and it is not fair that for the school, they were able to pretend like it was “just another day at Franklin.”

This has been extremely hard to write.  Even with how long this is, there are some parts I  failed to touch upon.  Not everything is worded perfectly.  But what’s important is my story is out there.  It is cathartic to let go of feelings and memories I have tried so hard to stifle and forget.  Maybe my story will help someone else.  If nothing else, it has raised awareness.

The shit show in my brain: singing edition

*This is from last week.  There are lots of unfinished thoughts and sentences, but I don’t want to edit it.  I’m posting it as is, because it represents what runs through my brain.  If I edited it, it would depict a false idea of what my thoughts look like.*

All I want to do is cry.  I want to hide away from the world and cry until I can’t cry anymore.  I’m so stupid.  Literally people are just trying to better me, but as soon as I feel less than perfect

I’m just so confused.  Most of my voice classes throughout high school were focused on getting me to achieve better resonance in my nasal cavity.  My teacher and classmates would continuously help and strive for me to get out of the “classical” tone where everything was always “falling back” and achieve the tone you hear most commonly on broadway: bright, resonant, and nasally.  I mean who knows if I’m saying it right, but I don’t know how to properly fucking say it.  Just go on Youtube and search: “Just One Step” from Songs for a New World, or “Anything Goes” sung by Sutton Foster.  But now in choir, I’m back to square one.  Even in high school choir, he wanted more nasal resonance??  Or maybe I’m wrong.  But in this choir, everything I’ve worked hard to achieve now seems as if it’s all wrong.  What one director wanted is the opposite of what another director wanted; and now I’m left sad, confused, and frustrated.  Everything I thought I was doing wrong and was always working hard to combat in high school is everything this choir director wants.  This is why I love singing so much but it’s also why I fucking hate singing so much.  I hate being put on the spot and having to sing something by myself in a room full of music education or music performance majors, especially when I’m just this little freshman psychology major who merely has a passion for music.  I feel like I’m mocking their art when I try and sing; and for me to even think

I feel depressed and I know this isn’t healthy; because life is about criticisms and growing and if I can’t understand how to appreciate the growing process then I’m going to be miserable my entire life.  As per usual, I understand what’s wrong with me (on a surface level I guess) but I can’t stop myself from feeling that way.  I have the same old dysfunctional responses and reactions each time and it makes me hate myself more and more each time.  I don’t want to be here.  I mean okay I want to be here, but I want to be perfect.  I only want to be here if I can succeed at everything I do all the time…and that’s stupid and comical to think.  I bet so many adults are laughing reading that because in life people fail shit and fuck up all of the time but I don’t want to fuck up.  I want the 100% on tests and projects, the A+s in every class…except biology, I just want to fucking pass biology at this point.  I want to be a perfect human being inside and out and I’m not..and I know I’m not..yet I hold myself to this perfect expectation and when someone tries and helps me achieve better, I crumble at the idea of someone realizing I’m not perfect.

 

I don’t know how to not hate myself.  I wonder if hating myself has become my defense-mechanism whenever I’m uncomfortable?  Maybe instead of facing change and learning

I feel so inadequate.  I feel like I’m going to flunk out of college.  But that’s never been who I am; I’ve always been a straight A student.  I feel like I don’t belong here.  And I’m not sure which “here” I mean.  “Here” as in college or “here” as in life.  Maybe it’s both.

 

What if my peak was in high school?  What if I’m just going to go downhill in life from here?

I Believe and Stand with Her

I have such a fear of being attacked-physically and sexually. As I wait for my Uber driver, my heart and mind races. I look at his picture and place him into a stereotype of “what rapists look like.” Which is an unfair and inaccurate thing to do, but I can’t help myself from doing it anyway. I feel like this fear is deeply rooted in my childhood, because I always felt I could never protect myself from my mom when she would beat me. I also think it’s largely related to being assaulted my sophomore year of high school. Both experiences, especially the assault, made me feel like I couldn’t protect myself and was weak. I still have the fear of not being able to protect myself should I ever be in a situation where my life/safety depends on it.

Even though I made it to and from where I needed to go safely, I can’t shake off this anxiety.  I had a nightmare last night; I typically have stress dreams or nightmares every night, but last night I had a dream that I was sexually assaulted.  The person who raped me in my dream was someone on the floor of my dorm.  It’s someone who I have gotten to know and have decided I don’t like the way they treat me.  So maybe the reason this specific person was the one raping me in my dream was because I don’t feel safe around them?  Also, after I was raped in my dream, I dreamt that I reached out to the police, my parents, and a few close friends, none of which believed the severity of the situation.  The police brushed it off as they felt there wasn’t enough evidence, and the person who was in question checked out to be a nice and reputable guy.  So it was my word against his and his word won..what else is new in society.

I feel like this is stemming from the whole Kavanaugh case and how countless people, including women!!!, are shaming Dr. Christine Blasey Ford instead of believing her.  This whole situation disgusts me and makes me so repulsed and angry with the current government of America.  Trump and everyone supporting Kavanaugh, especially women who are standing by Kavanaugh such as Susan Collins and Rachel Mitchell, make me want to throw up.  It terrifies me, because if people in power won’t believe and support Dr. Ford, then if something like this ever happened to me, I feel it’s quite clear that I would be shamed as well.  I’m not trying to make this about me, it is not about me in any form.  I’m trying to explain the reasons behind my intense anxiety of being physically and sexually assaulted.  I feel so terrible for Dr. Ford.  She has to experience and relive her trauma all over again in the spotlight, as well as face terrible and undermining statements claiming she is doing this to eliminate a republican nominee and that she is an actress hired by the democrats.  That fucking makes no sense and is just preposterous, but what is even more insane is the fact that people are believing this!!!  Kavanaugh should not be able to be on the supreme court given the testimonies made against him, and the fact that republicans are voting yes for Kavanaugh just to ensure another republican vote makes me sick.  This is about being a moral human being and recognizing the disgusting behaviors of rapists and sexual predators like Kavanaugh.  It is not about being so attached to a label like “republican” or “democrat” that you cannot look past these political party labels to make a decision.  People become so self-absorbed in ego and are afraid of losing a vote for their own party that they will stand by a douchebag at any cost.  I am terrified for myself and for other women because if the government isn’t unequivocally on our side, well then who the fuck are we supposed to turn to when something terrible happens and we need the person held responsible?

This world is making men who think like Kavanaugh feel empowered.  These people have now been reassured time and time again they CAN harass and abuse others and get away with it.  This culture where it is commonplace for victims to be blamed for something that happened to them is repulsive and something needs to be done.  We cannot wait until 2020 to do something about this, because by then it will be too late.  Everyone needs to go to rallies, call their senators, speak up, stick together, and revolt because this country needs change.

Bruised and Battered

I’m in my head. I’m always in my head, but something about the way I’m feeling now is driving me to write. I keep trying to tell myself the way I’m feeling is probably due to my raging hormones since my period should be coming in a couple days. I tried to remind myself to do productive things to combat these feelings, such as reading this self-help book given to me by my therapist, but my brain won’t stop. I caved in and let myself snack on animal crackers but I still feel like shit lol. I can’t get myself to read the self-help book because it’s about healing as a daughter of a narcissistic mother. The book makes lots of sense and so far validates a lot of shit I’ve felt but never could put words or explanations to. But lately I haven’t been able to get the newest diagnosis of “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic” out of my mind, and this book only reminds me of it more. I know I’m not supposed to focus on labels or diagnoses, but this one has been consuming me. It kind of makes me feel better about things I’ve felt, because it validates that what I went through as a child was not normal and was indeed fucked up. I’ve been told for the past 18 years to “get over it” and “move on” but it sucks. And I’m not trying to make myself a victim, but I feel like I’m never allowed to talk about what I’ve been through. It’s hard with my dad and sister because they experienced some fucked up shit as well and we’re all trying to cope. They cope by rarely ever talking about feelings or what happened and they both have their own addictions; my dad with food, my sister with alcohol. I feel so exposed and vulnerable writing this. Strangers I don’t know will be reading this and probably judging me and my family. But I need to write about this and give a voice to emotions I’ve been shamed for feeling for so long. It makes me resent my mom more and it makes me so sad. I’m so sad for the eight year old me that thought it was my fault my mother didn’t truly love me. She used to beat me and scream at me for asking her for basic motherly duties. I don’t remember all of this, but my sister tells me a story of how my mom repeatedly kicked me in the ribs when I was in kindergarten. I do remember being in kindergarten in my spongebob pajamas lying on my dad’s office floor crying after my mom beat me, but I don’t specifically remember being kicked in the ribs. I assume I was though, because the context of what I remember matches up with the bits my sister remembers. She said how she was so upset but she didn’t say anything and just left to be with her friends because if she did say something my mom would’ve made my sister stay home; and my sister never got to leave the house since she was always taking care of me. I remember crying hysterically at night in first grade because my mom prayed to God that she wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want to live anymore and she felt I didn’t treat her as if she mattered. I would cry in bed for hours praying to the God I believed there was to keep my mom alive…and I don’t know if having “my prayer” answered was for the better. I was screamed at if I spelled a word wrong on my practice spelling tests. She’d just scream that I was being stupid and wasn’t trying hard enough; that I lied to her when I said I studied my spelling words. I was always a cryer, I still am. She would do and say things to make me cry and then yell at me that my “tears meant nothing” to her. I was told to stop crying, to stop feeling because it didn’t make a difference to her. Honestly, writing this I feel like I’m making this up. How could my mother or any mother do or say those things? But deep down I know that she did all of this shit and more. It’s hard to “understand and forgive” when I was never allowed to feel that what was happening was wrong. It’s especially hard knowing that things I had no control over are affecting me everyday whether I realize it or not. According to this book it will/has affected my romantic relationships and that terrifies me. All I want is love. But apparently I’ll fuck it up somehow…I haven’t read far enough to know the specifics. My mind is swirling and all of the excitement and joy of talking to this cute girl who I actually think I’m starting to genuinely like turns into panic and dread. What if I’m not good enough for her? What if we end up dating and I get cheated on again? What if I do something really bad and/or stupid and fuck everything up? What if I’m too anxious and too fucked up? What if my past scares her away? My chest is so tight and I shouldn’t even be thinking this deep because our relationship isn’t even that deep yet, but I’m always looking ahead and it destroys me. I also really want to be with her…which is super stupid to say so soon but I don’t know something about her just feels right. But I know it’ll end in heartbreak somehow because I don’t deserve love or am too fucked up for healthy love. I don’t even know what actual love looks-my parents never depicted a healthy relationship, my mother never showed pure love to me, my dad and sister are trying their best but of course due to circumstances it’s dysfunctional. This girl seems so sweet and she’s so beautiful. But I feel like somehow I’m gonna fuck it up. My mind is a tornado and I don’t know how to calm the storm.

Adjusting

Today has been rough for me.  I’m still navigating the routine of college life and adjusting to the way college works.  I had my first week of classes and it went okay.  I’ve learned my professors don’t care about me as much as my high school teachers did.  It’s discouraging going up to a professor after class, handing him/her my accommodation letter for anxiety and then having them make a facial expression that to me represents they think it’s silly for me to even bring up my anxiety.  They then plainly reiterate how I need to schedule my tests through disability services since I have time and half for tests.  Some good news though is that despite being a psychology major and being terrible at sight reading, I managed to be one of three freshman to make it in to my school’s Concert Choir: the most prestigious choir we have, and I’m super proud of myself for that.  I worked my ass off and the director noticed that and commended me for my extreme enthusiasm and desire to be part of the group.  I beat so many girls who were beautiful opera singing music majors just by hard work and dedication and it made me feel really good about the way I approach things in life.  Now that choir has started, I am drowning because my music theory is sub par.  But Dr. T* is being very kind and understanding and I really appreciate it.  All week I’ve been distracted by the new schedule of class and the heavy workload getting piled on.  I had worries, but no time to entertain them.  Today sucked because I had all the time.  I woke up and realized I had gotten my period and was wearing nice lace underwear-since I wasn’t expecting to get my period today- which are now ruined.  I then realized I bled through onto my sheets and through my sweatpants.  I haven’t done something like this since the eighth grade and it felt pretty embarrassing and juvenile.  It was a hassle to have to strip my bed and then when questioned by my roommate as to why I was already washing my bed, explaining the situation in front of my guy friend was not the most fun for me.  It’s obviously not that big of a deal and the mess is cleaned up.  But the emotions and hormones that always come along with my period fucking suck.  Luckily, I didn’t have severe PMS anxiety, but this morning was especially rough for me.  All of the worries and over-thinking I’ve been doing about the relationships I developed intensified into feelings of impending doom.  I’m so concerned that these people will be temporary in my life and I’m trying to determine who will be a long-time best friend like everyone says you find in college.  But I overwhelm myself because I can’t tell if I’m making good friends or shitty ones.  I overthink every fucking thing.  I’m trying to see and plan out the next three months and trying to fit where these people will fall in my life.  But everything is unknown and super unpredictable and I hate the thought that someone I could be forming a close bond with now is someone I may not speak to in the future.  I also hate that I haven’t met anyone here who truly understands my anxiety and brain.  After sitting in the lounge attempting to do homework with “friends” and trying to stifle tears sneaking out of my eyes, I just got up and went to my room.  It also sucks that I truly have nowhere to hide.  There are people everywhere.  Even my room.  My roommate was super understanding about me wanting to have a couple minutes of alone time, but it’s not enjoyable when you have to confine your emotions to a couple minutes because you know someone is waiting to get back in the room.  No one shows or shares deep emotions here and it sucks.  I ended up texting this friend H* I made, saying I was having a really bad day.  I knew I couldn’t talk to the people I was with, because they wouldn’t understand it, but for whatever reason I just felt H* would get it or at least be able to help put me in a better mood; and I was totally right.  She brought up a great point that everyone here is still “surface-level” (as in friendships) so it’s hard because they obviously don’t know what my normal is like and don’t understand the inner workings of my brain, and then re-assured me she understood why I was frustrated.  We did homework together while listening to Tom Petty, and I felt so much better just being with her.  Her aura was comforting and relaxing.  Then we got frozen yogurt and watched Rocky Horror Picture Show.  She was so sweet and I really appreciated her being there for me.  I didn’t even have to say anything she just knew what to say.  I hate not automatically being perfect at something, and obviously this is a flaw…and there’s “no such thing as perfect” but I hate this adjustment period.  I just want to be adjusted already.  I don’t want to have to go through feeling like I’m the only one feeling this.  I also just want to find supportive friends already.  College has been fun so far, I’m just so concerned and worried and I can’t exactly understand why.  I know all will be okay in the end, I just want it to be okay now.

Word Vomit: College Edition

I have 10 (almost 9) days until I move into my first year of college.  This isn’t as big of a deal as I’ve been making it in my head.  This should be exciting, and when going to college was something of the far future and not the almost present, it was an exciting thought.  But now that I have barely over a week until I embark on this new part of my life, I am fucking shitting myself.  I’ve been so anxious these past weeks, and it’s been manifesting in different ways.  I’ve been rude and have acted like an asshole towards my sister and dad, even though I know I’m going to miss them a lot once I’m at college.  I’ve felt really sick and have had to snap myself out of the vicious “oh my god am I getting sick” thoughts; even right now I feel so nauseous and have a headache.  I’ve procrastinated things, such as packing my clothes, that would help alleviate stress and anxiety about the move.  I’ve done some productive things like reaching out to the on-campus nutritionist and signing up for the Women’s Physique Club- a club about finding a healthy lifestyle that includes working out and positive body image.  What really made the anxiety worse than it already was, was getting an email about Concert Choir auditions on September 3.  I did Concert Choir in high school, along with Madrigals, the musicals, and other singing shit.  I’ve sung before, but hearing what I need to do for this audition makes me feel as if I’ve never sung a note in my entire life.  It’s not even hard shit, my brain is just making me feel fucking terrified and super under-qualified.  I need to come prepared with a song of my choice and luckily I had my HS voice teacher help pick a song for this audition back in June.  He ended up choosing “Dividing Day” from The Light in the Piazza.  I’m fairly confident about that, like I don’t know if it will sound good or great but I don’t think it will be a trainwreck…well right now my brain is convincing me otherwise, but I know I need to breathe through this because I know the words, the melody, the rhythm..for the most part, the proper vowels, and I’ve been working on the interpretation.  We then have to sing about a page of Mozart’s Requiem (Sanctus) and it isn’t that hard, like it’s challenging but doable.  I went to my family friend’s house (who also used to be my middle school music teacher) for help because I can’t read music or sight read that well, and she helped a ton and they have alto parts on youtube but I am shitting myself.  I’m trying to figure out how to properly pronounce the latin words and I’m thinking about how each director is different and may want different vowels or whatever and I still don’t have my part down.  And then we have to speak the rhythm for a part of Howell’s Requiem and I fucking SUCK at rhythms!!! suckkkk.  So shitting myself there.  I wrote out the rhythm after going through it with my family friend.  I really just need to take music theory and everything will be so much better but I can’t take music theory before this audition and I feel so incapable and scared that I won’t be good enough.  But it doesn’t matter if I’m good enough or not because it’s not even for my major but I really want to be in the choir and I want to minor in vocal performance so this audition has to happen.  I’m just so terrified of failing and making a fool out of myself.  And I don’t want them to think I’m stupid or bad or both.  Ugh.  But I also don’t want to be in this choir if I can’t handle it because of my skill level so I should be okay with just giving it my best but my brain won’t shut off.  I’m also trying to put together my dad’s birthday gift.  His birthday is this Friday (the 24) and I’m putting together a “magazine” of letters I could get from family and friends about memories they have with my dad and how much my dad means to them.  I didn’t get as many as I’d wanted to, but I still have a good amount and I know he’ll love the thought, I just hope I can execute it as perfect as possible and I’m running out of time to keep adding shit.  And it’s making me think about how I’m gonna miss having him around every night to hang out with or talk about my day with once I’m at college, and that’s making me sad.  I’m not ready for change.  I want change but I suck at dealing with change and coping with it.  I’m so terrified.  And I’m 18 I shouldn’t care if I won’t get to see my dad everyday, I should be okay with this and adjusting better.  But I’m not and I keep crying over the dumbest shit.  And I’m terrified that one day I’ll end up having kids who hate and resent me for my craziness and anxiety the same way my sister and I hate and resent my mom for all of the shit she’s put us through.  Like what if one day my wife just gets fed up with my bullshit and then turns against me and then talks to our kids about how terrible of a person I am and they all hate me and leave me and I’ll just be a miserable waste of space.  I realize how fucking absurd and crazy this is, and how this rationally has no fucking relation to my attitude and anxiety towards college, but part of me strongly believes this shit.  This is crazy, I feel crazy, honestly I probably am fucking crazy.  I need to breathe, and start putting my energy towards tackling shit that needs to get done.  Ugh I’m so scared and overwhelmed.  This is stupid.

Breaking Down

I feel like someone’s choking me. This monster wants me dead and will squeeze my throat and sit on my chest until it asphyxiates me.

I’m a terrible person. I’m not good enough. I’m ugly, fat, disgusting, useless, overly-emotional, and I can never do anything for myself. I’m anxious too often and can’t handle things on my own. It’s so hard to not listen to the terrible things running through my mind because my mind is controlling me in this moment. Lately, this toxic thought-process has happened every night. It sucks having the one thing that should be on my side working against me. It sucks hating every single fucking aspect about yourself to the point where you don’t want to wake up the next morning because you’re embarrassed of who you are and what you look like and don’t want the world to see you. In fact, forget the world seeing me, I don’t want to see the world. It’s not others seeing me, it’s me seeing them and imagining all of the horrible things they’re thinking and if they’re judging my actions or how I’m handling a situation or the way my hair looks or how my face gets a little shiny after I take the kids (I work at a summer day camp) outside for recess and how I’m always disciplining them but maybe not disciplining enough. And in my 2nd week evaluation, I got all “4s” from my boss on a 1-5 scale, 4 being “exceeds expectations” and even though she told me she couldn’t give me 5s because it’s too early and only said great things, I was really upset on the inside and thought about how I should be more and should be the person who gets the 5s even though it’s too early. Which is stupid and childish and the same logic as my kindergarteners but I still want the fucking 5 and feel like less of a capable human being for only getting a 4. I’m crazy, I know this is crazy, and I fucking hate my brain and the way it functions. I hate it I hate it I hate it. I’ve been biting the inside of my lip like crazy at night and it’s so raw and swollen and I obsessively apply chapstick to it during the day and to me that represents me as a whole. I tear myself apart and then later realize I shouldn’t have done that and should’ve taken care of myself, so then I try and take extra care of myself in a short amount of time instead of consistently taking normal care of myself and then rip myself apart again the next night…if that made any English sense. The point is, I recognize my dysfunctional cycle in many ways, but yet I still somehow do not have the power to stop it. Like obviously deep down I have the power to stop it, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I feel I can. I’m so tired of this anxiety bullshit and I hate that everyone makes me act as if it’s not real or I’m supposed to be magically cured because I’m on meds and see a therapist because it has made me to believe that my anxiety isn’t real and I should be automatically cured and deep down I know that’s not how it works but yet I’ve been wired to think and feel otherwise and I can’t do this anymore!