Don’t talk to strangers. The infamous piece of “wisdom” told to every small child as a precaution against kidnapping, rape, and trauma, but they neglected to tell us that, for the most part, it’s not strangers committing these crimes. It’s the people we already know.
You can be a happy child, in a loving home. Attentive parents who are actively involved in your lives, and still be molested. They prey on the weak, but it’s not exclusionary to the weakest.
You see it’s not always the fearful exchange you hear about on tv, the ones your parents warn you about. They take their time, spending months or years to groom you to be their “best friend”. So that you start to see them as your “best friend”, someone trustworthy and on your side. Not like other adults, but a giant kid you can play with and vent your frustrations about other adults to.
And as that trust grows they begin to ask increasingly boundary pushing requests, but you comply, because you are young and because you don’t understand the risks. You comply because you trust them. Because you have no reason not to. You comply, because maybe your parents even trust them too. You comply, because we are engrained at a young age from multiple sources that adults are to be obeyed and that we do not have full bodily autonomy. You comply because they told you it would hurt them if you don’t. And they are your best friend.
And so you do it. It feels wrong, but you are so desperate to have this “positive” influence in your life, this cool person who cares, who treats you like an adult. Trusts you with secrets. And makes you feel like you are special. Unique. You do it because you think you are just too young to understand and they must know better.
And they teach you how to lie. And they accidentally show up places they know your parents won’t be at to spend alone time with you. Fill your head with valid reasons why we should keep secrets from every body. Because to you, even as a child, this feels like a real relationship.
Not all abuse is what we classically describe as violent. It can take years to even come to the realization that your relationship was sick. That this person has preyed on you. That what happened was wrong, that a 10 year old and an adult shouldn’t be in a partnered sexual relationship. You excuse it to yourself that they were just immature, and you were just mature for you age… and that they truly loved you. You even referred to them as your first boyfriend for more than a decade after your “relationship”. Because you still actually believed that and called them a “good” guy who didn’t mean to do wrong but was just so attracted to you and your body that they couldn’t help themselves. Then you remember that they were attracted to your undeveloped, child body. That they couldn’t resist the charm of a 10 year old. And you start to rethink your position. The trauma is felt. Your entire life is changed by the experience. Your trust for people. Your sex life. Your self-worth.
But remember. Don’t talk to strangers. Because they’re the ones who’ll hurt you.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, people always assume I’m a bleeding heart Liberal. For the record, I’m not. In fact, I hate both philosophies with great passion and cannot align myself to one over the other. I take serious issue with many of their main arguments and question the necessity of their existence at all. I critique literally every politician in existence, because I think we should. Democracy does not begin and end in the voting booth. Critique does not mean they are incapable of good, just that they are an imperfect human, as are we all. It’s how they handle the critique that matters.
Divisions of red and blue. Man vs woman. Liberal vs Conservative. Democrat vs. Republican. Country vs country. Divisions deepened by politician’s rhetoric, sharpened by the media’s tongue, biased by our own ignorance and fear of the unknown, we bleed peace in order to feel like we belong. We divide ourselves into these neat little boxes that are apparently entirely separate entities, when reality is more like a Venn diagram of commonality, with only tiny slivers of difference on each edge.
We all want to have the things we need to survive and thrive, we want a chance at a good life, because not having that, with all the advances and knowledge that currently exists in this world, seems like a system based on pure sadism. We see different ways to get there, and so we should. There is no mould for how to make the world.
Sometimes I wonder if it will take proving the existence of actual aggressive extraterrestrials threatening humanity’s very existence to bridge the global divide. I certainly fucking hope not.
Thing is, representatives were originally so-called because they were to represent the will of their constituents. Instead they follow the party line and deepen the political divides they created to keep themselves in the game. And, oh boy, is it ever a game. They spend more time and money winning elections than writing bills, sitting with lobbyists over constituencies. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Government, in and of itself is not a bad thing. In it’s purest form, it’s people coming together to ensure that those within its reach have a chance to thrive and come together. If it didn’t oppress, but rather uplifted, if it wasn’t stacked as a game of fame and favour, but rather a true privilege and honour to be part of, strongly rooted in a desire to make this planet better for ALL of us, if it was something we all had a true say in, we would see it as humanity’s saviour, and not some cumbersome and heartless entity that’s so embroiled in bureaucracy that it erases the humanity of those it espouses to serve.
Divisions are a political weapon of democracy, deepened by those who don’t want “the people” to actually have a say, and work to keep them in the dark of the true reality. This partied system of democracy is placating the population so that the wizardly oligarchy can do their own bidding behind the screen. I think it’s time to click our heels three times and come back to reality. We’ve spent far too long in Oz.
I was always a healthy child, rarely ever even the sniffles or the flu, but from the ages of about 12 to the present day, I essentially used my body as a car crash dummy. Lining up all the different walls I could crash through to prove the resilience of my car, and I must say, it’s pretty fucking resilient. Sturdy and quality engineering if I do say so myself.
I abused hard drugs heavily for more than a decade and in the process, gave myself a stroke at the age of 16. A truly functional junky if ever there was one. I have a degree I have zero recollection taking, and stamps in my passport from countries I don’t even ever remember visiting. Travelled to dangerous off-track places. Trusted strangers. Hitch-hiked. Took every new drug that came my way. Every experience. I’ve skydived. Bungee-jumped. Swam with sharks. Had more concussions than sense. Broke the majority of the bones in my body with my stupid risks, more metal than brains now, as my dad always says.
Starved my body. Then in severe depression and withdrawal gorged on all the magnificence the world has to offer. As much pizza and whiskey as a body can handle! Relations with every sexy person I could. Exposed myself to toxic waste and several wars in the pursuit of my journalistic career, and contracted more parasites than I care to recount. Oh. And I also smoke.
I shouldn’t be alive at all I suppose. But I’ve always felt that what’s the point of living a life of safety and caution when our only guarantee is that we go? Each experience and pain and bliss is a story and a lesson. An opportunity and a chance to adapt. Without risks life is boring. Without pain and sadness, you can never truly understand joy.
I came home after years of an hedonistic and at times almost sadistic odyssey of exploration and found myself with heavy metal poisoning and leukemia, C-PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, persistent cyst-making tapeworms, dormant malaria, multiple and compound fractures that left my body full of arthritis, metal plates, pins, and screws; and autoimmune responses to the multiple treatments I required.
Thing is though, even knowing what I know now. Having gone through all that pain. I’d do it all again. I am the person I am today because of that experience.
I often tell the parable of my two grandfathers. The chain-smoking, hard-living hedonist, who drank and ate to excess; and the simple, clean-living, clean-eating, moderate who hiked two miles each day. Which one do you think died of lung cancer and which is alive today, at a ripe old age, looking 20 years his junior? I’ll give ya a hint. It’s not the hedonist who got cancer.
Whether you live or die isn’t always up to you. If you miss out on living just to extend that life, what’s the fucking point? I’ll continue to drive into the wall and face life head-on, cause even if I die tomorrow, at least I know that I truly lived.
Each night is a fresh hell brought forth by memories I can never erase.
Since the war, my life has become a monotony of misery. My sheets soaked in sweat each night from panic, tangled and shredded at my feet from the struggle.
I’ve gone through five sets this year alone. And it’s only April.
Palms sweating. Heart racing. Numbness in every extremity. Unexplained, excruciating and near constant pain. Hot then instantly cold, unable to regulate my own internal thermostat. Racing thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. Rocking in my bed, unable to lift my head or even leave the safety of my sheets some days. The constant invisible agony that no one sees.
Each quick turn of the head gives me glimpses of gore. Hacked bodies lying on city streets, machetes headed in my direction. Flashbacks that can over take my whole reality and leave me in psychosis hell in an instant with terror in every direction. You see to me a trigger is only the small part of the gun staring in my face. It has no relation to the things it “should” and people’s coddled affection for my ailment only leaves me pitied and alone in my misery. There is no amount of shielding that will lessen my fate. You see, the smell of cooked bacon, reminds me of their burning flesh, but I can read about rape until the cows come home. I can explore gore without emotion, but spending joyful times with my nieces and nephews leaves me paralysed with dread for days.
You see, my brain has learned to interpret success and joy as pain and trauma. Permenantly etched as the new reality, each new bliss follows hours or days or even weeks of panic and intense urges to flee, run away, hide, or die. Just stop the pain that follows. I can’t go through it all again. Afraid to be happy, feeling underserving, it has transformed my life into a sad misery where every joy is literally pain. Pure torture.
When people laugh and joke that they have “PTSD” after something minorly annoying happens to them, I feel like they have just punched me in the gut and left me breathless, keeling over from worthlessness. Diminished. Like my struggle is worthy of their laughter, and that I am somehow weak for having this viseral physical reaction to the protracted trauma I experienced. I consider if for just one moment they could reach inside my head and feel this type of terror face to face if they’d ever make that joke again. But then, I wouldn’t wish that horror on anyone. Not even for a moment.
My reality looks bleak. There’s a 70% chance I’ll suffer from this trauma for the rest of my existence. You see, I’m a prisoner of war, trapped forever in the hell my own brain has created to compensate for the horrors it could not explain. It’s no wonder most of us just decide to end it. There are enemies all among us, politely ensuring we survive only to endure more horror and there is no one ever coming to rescue us. We are in this all alone, forever.
New poem for slam.
*to the tune of O Canada.
Oh Canada. Our home on Native Lands. Pride built on lies, we were never taught to understand.
That this land was here before Europeans, that we thrived for thousands of years. That the white man’s cultural ignorance led to millions of deaths and tears.
Their primitive colonialism, destroyed so much good. We need to make ammends and fight for equity. We need to make ammends and fight for equity.
Oh Canada. I love you, and all the privileges you have afforded me, but my Native sisters and brothers are suffering. We are dying, disappearing, exposed to racism every day, turned away, denied, locked up, posioned by governments and corporations, and show every indicator of a people in serious crises. High numbers live in abject poverty, unemployment, we die younger, nearly half of the children in protective care are ours, our numbers in prisons outpace every other dramatically.
This is not because we are bad, incapable, unintelligent. It is not because we want to be victims or are too corrupt.
You see, after they broke the treaties, trust, and cooperation, purposefully exposed us to deadly diseases, slaughtered us in droves, quantified our blood to make us prove our status, and beat who was left onto tiny reserves without thought to our nomadic sustainability, they stole us from our families. Until the mid nineties they locked our children up in schools away from everything they knew and beat the culture and language out of them, along with their dignity and self-worth. A lasting legacy.
This continues to this day but in a new form. Capable parents with minor flaws find their babies stolen from their loving arms, placed in white foster homes, repeatedly moved and disrupted, away from their culture, languages, and traditions with little legal recourse.
We all share the history of the Two Row Wampum Treaty. Gushwenta. The belt consists of two rows of purple beads on a white background, where the purple respresent these two peoples, Natives in their canoes and non-Natives in their ships, side by side down the river of life together in peace. Supported with the strings of trust, but each taking our own path down the river, with our own laws and ways.
Our path is still being stolen as we are forced more and more each day to change our course to meet that of the ships. Instead of coexisting in peace, the river has been drained so that only one may pass, our canoes overturned by the waves of the ships, the waters polluted by toxins, and our path diverted by a dam we had no say in creating. Our people drown crying for a life-preserver to be thrown, while you stand lamenting our impending demise, but somehow remain unwilling to lift your arms to make the toss.
Throw us a life-preserver and help us back into our own canoes so that we can continue on our own path in peace. Perhaps one day we can meet at the middle of the river and dock our vessels together in the full flowing water without upsetting the balance. But we can never get there unless all of us make the effort to row in that direction together.
*We need to make ammends and fight for equity.
It doesn’t matter how “good” things get… it’s still the same.
With everything coming up, me feeling passion and spark again, the darkness still pervades. I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. Couldn’t get out this afternoon. Overwhelming sadness and pain and sense of dread.
And now I’m behind in my work. And the stress and pressure I knew would follow are here. I don’t think I can actually do this job. This dream job that I’ve been waiting my whole life for. I’m no longer actually capable. And it’s not because I’m not smart enough. But that my brain only has a tiny capacity to be able to deal with, because it is burnt out from just existing at this point.
All day, all I’ve thought about is dying. How it would legitimately be the best option for me and everyone around me. I wish I wasn’t such a coward. Every day is hell. Every day is pure agony. I can’t take it anymore. My heart feels like it just might explode. My brain is the same. My body is physically exhausted. But I’m just supposed to live in pure agony every day for the rest of my goddamn life so other people aren’t a little fucking sad when they think about me? And they say suicide is selfish?
Fuck. I just can’t anymore. It’s just too fucking hard. I’m drowning, and there is no life preserver. There’s no lifeguard. No one is coming to rescue me, and my arms and legs no longer work.
My therapist, psychiatrist, and doctor all say they are running out of options for me. I’ve tried every therapy they’ve got. Nothing changes. I’ve tried every medication they’ve got. Nothing changes. I’m coping, but I’m barely hanging on here. They are now suggesting trying things I’ve already done again. Hoping the second time around will bring success. I know it won’t. My brain is forever damaged. Everything I try is just a band-aid on a mortal wound. It will soak up the blood, but ultimately, it’s not going to change the outcome.
So things are progressing.
I got offered a new job. Working as a research consultant on an incredibly important project that could make great changes in my community for an extremely vulnerable sector. I had been volunteering with them to get out of the house a few times a week to progress with my healing, and in the process made myself indispensable to them.
Despite my employer fully understanding my illness, offering me as many mental health days as I need, offering healing support, and the chance to take a healing retreat. Despite them saying I can work from home as much as I need, skype in, and trust them with the truth. Despite my feelings of being empowered once again, my passion being reignited, my confidence increasing. Despite the good salary, benefits, and supports offered there. I’m terrified.
I haven’t worked a full day in almost 5 years. I’ve been afraid to have anyone rely on me for anything, because I couldn’t properly ensure I could do the work.
I know it’s the right decision to take the job, but what if I fail?
What if I can’t do what’s necessary?
What if I don’t sleep for a week, and require hospitalization again?
I know it’s going to be hard. My employer has set it up so that I start part-time for two months to get back into the swing of things, and then move to more full time hours. They have told me I can ease into gradually, and gradually accept more responsibilities. They begged me to take the position. Said I was desperately needed.
It feels good. I won’t lie… it feels nice to be needed again. To have the spark reignited of overwhelming passion for a project. But my self-confidence is severely shaken. It feels like I am not capable or intelligent anymore, like I used to be.
I know that this will come in time, so for now. Fake it, until I make it.