Posts Tagged ‘Survivor’

So I’ve finally finished watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. It has taken me longer than some because of the difficult nature of some of the themes. I had to pace myself with the intake because this is one of those things that makes you feel, no matter who you are, and I already feel a lot on the subject matter. I needed to moderate the intensity for the sake of my mental health.
I will try to get through this without any real spoilers, but if you are thay concerned, maybe don’t read until after you’ve watched or read it already yourself. 

I think it’s incredibly important in this day and age for us to ensure we are still warm blooded, emotion feeling creatures, because we are so prone to becoming desensitized with all the excess stimuli we are flooded with at the speed of information. Furthermore, this show also makes it personal. Whether it’s someone you know, or a few more degrees of separation in between, you can still relate to this on some level. It’s important to say to begin with that sexual violence wasn’t used gratuitously in this show. At the same time though, it also wasn’t diluted. 

Teens all know about the struggles and hardships of navigating social life in high school, while still wrestling with a means of self-discovery and identity. Parents and adults in general forget all too quickly about these things… This show will make you feel closer to your teenaged child than you’ve felt in years. It will give you a glimpse into their life, it will help you understand some of their behaviors and it will explain the tether to their electronics. If for no other reason, you need to watch this show with your child for that.

The harder lessons… It touches on the uglier aspects of this world of ours, from substance abuse to sexual violence, mental illness, and yes, even suicide. These are not nice topics. They are not meant to be nice. They are supposed to make you uncomfortable. That discomfort signifies how human you are. 

As always, it strikes me as utterly tragic that something terrible has to happen before people will start treating each other with respect and consideration. It is ever the tragedy but, fortunately, at least this time the loss is a fictional one, however symbolic she may have been. I think it’s so important for all of us, from teens to parents from poor homes and affluent ones, to victims and survivors of rape, to families and friends of those suffering from depression, to even those who suffer from mental illness themselves, if for no other reason than to understand how not alone they are. This show is so uniquely poised to teach lessons across so many social demographics…it is my professional opinion, as a survivor, an advocate for mental illness, someone who made it out of high school alive, as well as someone working towards being a better counselor than Mr. Porter, that everyone should watch this show, at whatever pace they themselves can muster, because it will change them, and it will grow them, and it will strengthen the connections they have with the people in their lives. Isn’t it those connections, after all, that keep us grounded?

As an aside, I think it is SO important to also watch Beyond the Reasons. It provides some exceptional insight into the spirit behind the book, as well as the show itself, and it also helps process some of the tougher themes in the show. We are told here some of why some of the mechanics were used the way they were.. victims of sexual assault have a very hard time talking about what happened to them. It’s clouded with so many feelings of shame, of anger, of disbelief, of guilt, and a myriad of other things. Victims can’t process easily themselves, let alone explain to someone else. 

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So it’s been a pretty crazy few months. I’ve written less than I should. It’s the tail end of the fall semester, my last semester at a two year school and am transferring to a four year school next semester. I’ve also recently begun working nights after being laid off a couple months ago, and have been struggling in the usual fashion; too much month at the end of the money. I’ve found myself taking pride in my resistance to falling back on old comforts during a trying time, and have even managed to weather this particular storm without the aid of my counselor, with whom I came to a mutual decision to stop sessions for the time being. granted, when the decision was made, the sky wasn’t falling and my day to day was still in tact. Nevertheless, I’ve done alright and haven’t failed myself in the important ways.

Tonight is my first night off after my first full week on third shift, and I have spent it working on the remaining assignments for my classes, watching Netflix and generally pondering a lot of things. I’ve been watching Nurse Jackie in particular, and I laugh a little at myself because the first time I tried to watch it, I couldn’t get into it. In retrospect, I feel that maybe it was because the self destructive attitude the main character embodied in the first season was a little too familiar for comfort. I wasn’t ready then to see that close reflection of myself. I started over a few weeks ago, and have made it into the fifth season.

The thing that prompted this entry was the aftermath of the death of Jackie’s rehab friend.. a just-turned-18-year-old who also happened to be the son of her new boss. I like the way that real life happens to her character, the good and the bad, and she weathers it accordingly. I can’t help but note that some parallels hit really close to home… Jackie says several times in later seasons that shit didn’t start falling apart until after she got clean. I know the feeling; I’ve been of that mindset a thousand times at different points over the last few years. I think maybe it really does seem that way because when one is using, nothing else matters. That is, shit still happens in the world around you, but you just don’t care because life isn’t a priority for you then. She’s so flawed, just like me. I’m not sure if it is a mark of good writing, of good acting, or a combination of both, but I find myself more and more relating to so many facets of this show.

When Charlie, (her boss’ son,) died, Jackie kept calling his phone. They had been each other’s support system, and she didn’t stop leaning on him, even after his death by overdose. Her former boss, Mike, ended up listening to the voicemails she had left on Charlie’s phone. Apparently he hadn’t been able to bring himself to get rid of the phone thus far. He reached out to Jackie, and following a lot of albeit dysfunctional healing, they ended up having a very profound conversation in the chapel at the hospital where she works. He opened up about his grief, and about what he had felt and struggled with following the death of his son. He said that he felt like it made him an awful person that the first thing he felt following his loss was relief, and then anger at himself for feeling that relief. 

Am I the only person who sometimes finds herself offering counsel to fictional characters on TV shows in her head? I hope not. I wanted to tell Mike that it didn’t make him an awful person that he felt relief. I’d tell him that he should first consider what he felt relief for. I don’t think any parent would ever feel truly relieved to bury their child. I do, however, think that most parents would feel a sense of relief at the idea that their child was no longer suffering. I think that any parent would feel a sense of relief that their afflicted child was finally at peace. 

This hardly scratches the surface of the monologue in my head. I believe that while some things might seem simple, they are often more complicated than we want to acknowledge. Complications, after all, take effort and putting forth effort is exhausting, and honestly can be so emotionally draining, depending on the nature of the issue. Addiction, emotion, relationships… these are all extremely complex concepts, ones that humanity is simultaneously afflicted and blessed by. 

How can these things be good and bad? The latter two are a given. The former, however, might be confusing to an indivudual on the outside looking in. Let me explain:

Addiction is a horrible disease, it’s ugly and it is ruthless. I’ve lost a lot in my life due to addiction, both my own and those addictions of people I care for. I also gained my path, my life’s work, in part due to my experience with substance abuse. My active addiction and my ongoing recovery have both contributed in a major way to providing me with the perspective I needed to make choices for myself, for my future. Without the trials in my life, I likely would still just be existing, which is no life at all.

I believe that we are the sum total of our experiences in life. It is the things that befall us as much as the successes we earn for ourselves that mold us into the creatures we are on any given day. By this logic as well, we are not ever the same person we were the day before. The trick, I think, is to make use of the experiences, to absorb the lessons with grace and humility, because experience has taught me that one can never truly know when their own past can help them save a life, whether it is their own or not. I can think of no more worthwhile endeavor either.

So I have been in my head a little bit recently, with all the goings on in the news and just a lot of reality being a little too real for my taste. 

Sooooo I’ve decided to acknowledge myself for a minute, and have a quiet little celebration of self, because I always say the little victories are really big victories, but I don’t always practice what I preach. 

I saw a post about sobriety in one of the groups I’m a part of on Facebook, and it reminded me of this poem. The poem chills me to my core but sharing it always feels like something of a public service announcement because if you don’t know first hand how evil the shit is, the poem paints a pretty accurate picture. 

I’m proud to say it’s been 28 months since the last time I touched the stuff. There have been a few bumps in the road but nothing that could push me hard enough to make me take a step backwards and for that, I am proud. 

I have also leveled up somewhat with regards to counseling. We are meeting approximately once a month now, as I am functioning and coping with the stress in my life on my own. I no longer feel like anxiety rules my life, and PTSD isn’t driving anymore. I don’t feel like rape girl anymore. It’s really a stellar feeling. I still have my issues and scars, but they aren’t all there is of me. I am so much more.

I’m close to buying a home for when my husband comes home next year. I will have earned my Associate’s of Science by the end of 2016, and come the spring of 2017, I will have begun work towards my BS in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology. 

It’s a little bit overwhelming when I consider just how much has happened in such a relatively short period of time. But truth be told, I’m okay with that pressure because I did that. I refused to be a statistic and I accomplished that. I continue to embody that. 

I guess the moral of the story is, no matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve been through, don’t give up. There will always be those who are critical or judgmental but they don’t have any authority over you unless you hand it to them. Hold on. If you’re going through it, don’t stop and don’t lose momentum. You will make it through to the other side and you will be proud of yourself. I’m proud of you too, for what it’s worth.

I have experienced something today that I’m not altogether sure how to articulate, largely because I have yet to fully wade through & identify all that I’m feeling as a direct result of this news and the implications it carries with it. I can identify one thing I’m not feeling, however: anger. For the first time in nearly three years, I don’t have this overwhelming, smothering cloud of rage and indignance surrounding my conscious mind. I had forgotten what this feels like.
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So here we are, on the brink of the new year and I’m feeling very introspective. I’ve seriously slacked in maintaining this blog in 2015, and for that, I’m a little sorry. Truth be told, this blog has served as a coping mechanism for me. It has been a means of expressing myself and fleshing out my thoughts in a meaningful way that allows me to make sense of them. 2015 has taught me that I don’t always require or have the steam for this particular mechanism. The writer in me laments this fact, while the survivor in me understands that it isn’t a horrible thing. I truthfully hope that I manage to be more attentive to this means of expression in 2016, and I have every intention of making every effort to make it happen. Time will tell.

So it’s 10:30 pm CST and I’m vegging out following a much needed shower after putting in two really long days at work. Since my husband’s arrest in 2013, I have found holidays to be the most difficult to contend with. I absolutely don’t begrudge anyone else their happiness and their companionship and celebration on these occasions but I’ve found time & again that I don’t really have a place in them. It’s awkward more than anything, and it’s just easier for me to separate myself from it as best I can. In doing so, however, the cue to maintain caution for another reason sounds. I’m 20 months clean now, and most of the time, getting high isn’t even an afterthought. It’s not even at the forefront of my mind in any sense of the word. When I’m alone though, and unoccupied, my mind wanders to places I haven’t voluntarily visited in quite some time. This is why I immerse myself so enthusiastically in my schooling and my work. Much like idle hands are dangerous so, too, is an idle mind.

I’ve made a lot of progress this year though, in spite of the conflicts inherent with adulthood. I’m in a transitional period now as I try to get situated and get a home, and that has been a little stressful for me. A lot of this scenario resembles some factors of the calamity in 2013. I try not to look directly at it for just that reason. The busier, the better.

I was inducted into two honor societies this year, and am hopeful for some scholarships through them to continue my education after the federal aid dries up. I’ve started a small business, promoting health & beauty products that I really believe in, and it is slow going but it is exciting just to consider the potential it carries. I hope to grow that business substantially in the coming year, and (though I hesitate to even say it out loud,) regain some semblance of financial freedom. Oh to be debt-free again. There is so much potential that it just makes me weak in the knees. I’m not a greedy woman, but I am no stranger to stress and I create more than enough of it myself without the added burdens of responsibility.

On the note of stress & anxiety, I dropped from weekly counseling sessions for 17 months to every other week in the forth quarter of 2015. I feel that denotes some semblance of progress on my part. I’m less prone to post-nuclear meltdown, which is nice. I still have bad days but they are less frequent & I blessedly perceive fewer boogeymen than I have since I was assaulted in 2013. It is a massive relief on a scale I’m not altogether prepared to express. One such development in counseling has been survivor panels. I spoke at three of them in 2015. These panels are an avenue for advocates at the crisis hotline provided by my counseling agency who answer those calls to speak directly to survivors and to get a better idea of what victims need from them. These panels have been incredibly empowering for me and have been pivotal in my own healing process. I’m happy to say that I am already scheduled to speak at one in the first quarter of 2016. I’m looking forward to it more than you know.

April 2016 also has the potential to carry happy news concerning my husband’s incarceration. He is up for parole again and, should the state grant it, he will then only have 14 months to serve in a federal facility before coming home to me. I’m trying very hard to not get my hopes up, as last year’s denial was soul crushing. If not for the amazing people in my life, I might have relapsed. I’ve resolved myself to hope for the best, but brace for the worst this year.

I am on track to finish my Associate’s Degree in 2016, and transfer to continue work on my Bachelor’s Degree. All in all, I am cautiously optimistic about all the potential I see in 2016. I’m eager to see what it brings, and hopeful that it will prove to be the fruition that the transitional period of 2015 brings.

I wish you all a safe & Happy New Year and that 2016 finds all you’ve been working towards and hoping for.

Well here I am in the parking lot at counseling a little early again with a few thoughts to express here real quick. With the holidays being here, it’s been pretty crazy. I’m becoming more and more involved in my inmate wife support groups and am even an administrator on one! That’s pretty cool but the thing that strikes me the most is just generally how much better I have been feeling since making connections with more folks in the same boat as me. I feel more optimistic than ever before and also significantly less isolated which is a pretty huge deal for me. I’m officially a member of TIFA (Texas Inmate Fsmilies Association) and through them I have been able to send some Christmas cards to inmates who have no one and that has made me feel really good too. I helped coordinate a Christmas card exchange between the wives and girlfriends in one of my groups and am just feeling incredibly in the holiday spirit because of the sense of community and belonging I feel. Some of the wonderful ladies praise me for my support and I’m grateful for the accolades but keep telling them that I am the one who is blessed by having found them and the opportunity to know them! As a survivor, it gets pretty lonely in my little world and I feel so much more liberated than I have felt in a long time.

I’ll be attending TIFA’s monthly meeting this evening and will have the opportunity to meet some of these women in the flesh as well as share some more holiday cheer with Texas inmates via our Christmas card initiative. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

I guess to summarize, I am feeling more than fortunate this season, despite our present predicament with him being gone and my ongoing hunt for new icing arrangements. I feel more equipped to handle the normal curveballs of life and that is a sensation that money simply cannot buy.

So thank you, everyone. Old friends and new, and even those of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting: thank you for being you and for making this world a better place simply by being. I am grateful beyond words for you and consider you to be a blessing of the truest and purest kind.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you. May this season bring as much fortune and blessings as it has brought me!

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A finely tuned, carefully honed plan is one of my strongest addictions. I feel damn near omnipotent when I marvel at the finely crafted fruit of my labors. Whether it be time management, budgeting or work flow, I like to have an order of operations for everything. I feel like I am in control and sitting in the driver’s seat with a plan, and I also feel better equipped to handle curve balls and unforeseen variables that inevitably arise in every facet of life, whether it be an urgent matter at the office that needs attending, or a slow leak in a tire that needs patching before it grows into a bigger problem. When I have a plan in place, these things are almost anticipated, though the form they will take is not usually known to me before it happens.

One such plan was my living arrangements. In May 2014, I was approved for my first lease since moving state side. I signed on the dotted line and initialed at least two dozen pages and moved into what I call home that weekend. I was new to Dallas, and my new home was just a short commute to my place of employment. It isn’t the best neighborhood, but it definitely isn’t the worst either. It would definitely suit my needs, at the very least for the 9 month term of my lease.

We are now in December of 2014, and I have received multiple notices regarding the quick approach of renewal time. The first had increased rates that steadily decreased as the length of the terms increased. Last week, I received a “holiday special” notice suggesting that if I renewed my lease for any term by 12/15, my rate would remain the same. I was planning on renewing, but I wanted to find out about the policy on upgrading to the next size up whenever one became available either on my floor or above me, and whether that would be a breech of contract or whether they would work with me etc. My husband had also suggested that I offer to sign the longest lease they have if they give me the bigger unit at my current rate. I was going to discuss all of this with them this coming Monday or Tuesday, as I have those days booked off from work for my finals anyway, and would be around during their business hours. In fact, I was in the leasing office on Monday this week to pick up a package that had been too big for the mail man to put in my mail slot, and while there, I advised the manager that I wasn’t ignoring them, and that I would be in to speak with them next week regarding my renewal. (Unbeknownst to them, I had also planned to discuss the possibility of my husband paroling to this address in the future. If that were to happen, they’d be getting $600+/month from us for the foreseeable future. Steady income is steady income, amirite?)

We are now Wednesday, and I have been to my weekly counseling appointment, and would ordinarily be in class now, however I finished all my course work for my first class this evening, and am not due in my second class until 7. I opted to come home, relax, shower, etc. Well, much to my annoyance I arrived home to find a piece of paper stuck in my door. This piece of paper says there will be mandatory inspections of the units randomly selected by the inspectors tomorrow, and to please have my unit available. Of the 4 doors on my floor, mine was the only one with this paper stuck in it.

Let me step back for a moment and explain why this is an issue for me:

Approximately six weeks ago, we all received a similar notice, citing some bullshit about the city requiring annual inspections. This one, however, said all units would be inspected over the next 72 hours. Now, I have two small dogs, and I live 60 miles away from all my family in the area. Making arrangements for my dogs is easier said than done, especially during the week as I work full time and attend class almost full time as well. I called the rental office first thing the next morning and advised them of my situation and said that I would be more than happy to come home and handle my animals if they would just give me an hour or so notice. The reply to this was “we are not able to schedule time, and the inspectors are out already and may have already hit your unit.” …. Hit my unit? Did I miss a memo where I was mixed up in a fucking heist movie? Furthermore, I am a trauma survivor. I suffer from PTSD and acute anxiety. The prospect of anyone entering my sanctuary, with all my things and my dogs, unescorted, sent me into full blown panic mode. So much so that the following day I was home with a migraine. I called the office first thing in the morning and told them I was there and asked if they would please come do the inspection, since I was here and could take care of the dogs. I told them I would be home until 2pm, before I had to go to my appointment. I spoke with them repeatedly throughout the day, and each time she told me they’d be along, and then when I called (at her request) before I left for my appointment, I was placed on hold for several moments before she came back on the line, advised me that they were finished with the inspections and had everything they needed, as well as thanked me for my cooperation. …. Mandatory inspection, by the city, of all units eh? Well, I guess I’m special. Or they were just trying to get into specific units. Whatever.

So now, back to the topic at hand. I feel like I have been singled out for this inspection and after the fiasco before, I’m not inclined to bend over backwards for these people. My dogs will remain loose and I will leave a note with my number. They can call me if they want in here. Otherwise, I cordially invite them to piss off.

Furthermore, as a result of this one piece of paper stuck in my door, the absolute best they can hope for is a six month renewal. If the stars align and allow, I will give my 30 days notice at the end of this month and be gone before February. If the stars don’t align, I will sign a 6 month lease renewal, and then be gone at income tax return time next year. They can shove the larger unit up their asses and they can have this little one back in relatively short order.

Aside from all of this shit and the personal elements, let me tell you why else this pisses me off. I mentioned this was not the nicest part of town. It’s cleaned up a lot in recent years, I’m told, but it still has a long way to go. In this complex specifically, I guestimate that roughly one third to one half of the residents get up and take our asses to work every day. The rest are here all day long and basically leech off the system. That being said… why in the FUCK are you going to harass and alienate one of your tenants that doesn’t party, that doesn’t have people over, that pays rent on time every time, and that doesn’t cause problems?? And for what? Probably nothing. I will never understand the logic (or lack there of) of some people.

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Whatever, it’s their loss. No skin off my back. I’ll be taking my little caravan shit show someplace else. Thank you and have a nice day.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Fair warning… this post was written to kill time before counseling and I am exhausted. Three cheers for insomnia!!

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I think it’s kind of funny how the older we get and the more we experience, the more our priorities and elements of stress change. There was a time really not that long ago when the biggest worry I had was whether I was going to be able to make an appearance at more than one social event, or what to wear or even whether our guild raid was going to be successful in new content or not. I didn’t really care about bills and if I didn’t make good grades it wasn’t the end of the world. There was always next semester. Nothing really was that urgent. On the flip side of this concept, our motivation changes so drastically too.

As an adult, I’ve always been a little anxious. My performance and punctuality at work have been a high priority for me. I’ve also been very neurotic about paying bills on time every time and just generally making sure all the little moving parts of my calendar day, month or year were attended to at any given time. I would get a little too worked up if I missed something.

Now, since I’ve been through trauma which, as a domino effect, destroyed my credit, my values and outlook are similar in some ways but drastically different in others. I still need to keep my schedule and I still need to get my bills paid, but I’m not motivated by a clean credit score so much as by the simple success of remembering everything. Having sustained a head injury, to say that I am forgetful is the understatement of the century. Any month where I don’t receive a past due notification is cause for relatively tame celebration. I don’t party at all anymore. I’d already grown out of it for the most part but after the events of last year, the only substances I partake in are nicotine and caffeine. I suppose I’ve evolved into an all or nothing kind of girl, in the grand scheme of things.

I still care about keeping my performance and punctuality up between both work and school but I think I’ve passed the point of relating to high school kids or true college freshmen in that I have no “there’s always next semester” mentality. I don’t like kill myself over deadlines but they matter to me. I keep a detailed electronic calendar to ensure I am apprised of all of my obligations and due dates. I really don’t remember a time where I didn’t care if I passed or failed, and my professors have commented that their evening classes and day time classes are as different as they can be. The noon time students cut class and miss deadlines with much more frequency than the evening students. It blows my mind to think about, considering college isn’t free in this country. Somebody is paying for them to be there. Why bother if it doesn’t matter to them?

I’m motivated to do the best I can in all of my classes because it tells me I am not permanently damaged. It tells me I am capable of not only performing, but performing well. I don’t think I would like it if I had to repeat a class.

I’m also motivated by the thought of life after prison. I’m not so naive that I think it is going to be easy, but I do see the potential for it to be good and worth the wait. I take pride in the lifestyle I have worked so hard for that is blessedly drug free and having accomplished this much on my own, I have faith that my man will be able to follow suit. I know he is proud of me for how far I have come in this last 18 months. I really can’t wait for him to become an active factor in this new, positive life.

Having gone without, in part due to my own choices but also due to lack of choice on my part, I find that there is so much in life that I am thankful for. Every ugly thing that has happened in my life has taught me over and over to varying degrees to not take anything for granted, especially the little things. This last is a topic for another post once I am more rested and possessing more coherent thoughts.

All in all, I’m in a pretty good place and while I worry somewhat about exams next week, I feel positive that I’ll make the grades I want. That’ll be another notch or two on the ‘I did that’ list. I’ll take it!!

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It’s not typically my nature to try and throw myself into the middle of a very heated, very volatile topic such as this one, but based on conversations I’ve had over the last couple of days, I truly feel the need to speak up here. Whether anyone chooses to hear what I have to say or not is completely up to them.

For the sake of context, I was raised in Canada. I was raised in a community that was basically colorblind. I was raised in a virtual multicultural mosaic. I was taught that ethnicity did not define a person; action did. Composure did. Character did. In 2012, I moved to Texas. While the social values may be different down here, mine are not. I am still the same person I was. I still judge people based on what they do and what they say, not on how they look or who they love.

Furthermore, I must also point out, again for the sake of context, that I am white. I am a pretty average North American. I’m not privileged. I live in what some would call a ghetto on the road to recovery. I interact with all manner of people on a daily basis.

In July 2013, I was the victim of a violent crime. I was kidnapped, raped and beaten. Following those 4 days I spent in hell, it took me seven weeks to file a police report. I systematically went to six different police agencies with my case, photographs of my injuries, copies of the medical records from when I took myself to the ER, as well as a clear paper trail and pictures identifying my assailant. In the first two weeks of this effort, you could still clearly see the trauma on my body. My face was bruised, I had burns on my neck and finger print bruising on my bicep. Those are just the marks that were visible at a glance. There was significantly more marks of my trauma covered by my clothing. But again, I had photographs of them all. Five independent police agencies basically told me “Not my jurisdiction, not my problem, sorry about your luck.” One officer did his due diligence and made the effort to at least provide me with GPS coordinates to take with me to the next agency. The rest of them couldn’t be bothered with the prospect of paperwork that wasn’t even in their jurisdiction for sure.

At the end of the seven weeks, and at the sixth law enforcement agency, I finally got a police report filed. The deputy was really kind to me, and praised the effort I went to to assemble what appeared to be a solid case. He said that I had made his job too easy. I felt relief, and cautious optimism that I would see some semblance of justice. A couple of months after that, I found out that my assailant had been picked up in a neighboring county and was being held on charges separate from mine. I thought that a little strange, but was just relieved to know he was off the street.

Fast forward another 3 months, into spring 2014. I was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in the county that had filed my police report to testify against my assailant. I didn’t know what to expect, but was once again feeling a sense of relief that maybe now was the time for justice. Maybe now was the time for someone to say that what had been done to me was not okay. How wrong I was.

I appeared before the grand jury, as per my subpoena. I was dressed professionally, and though nervous, I did my best to answer their questions. I had sustained a head injury in my trauma, and a lot of the specific details were blurry, but it wasn’t those details they seemed interested in anyway. These people attacked me. They spoke to me as if I was the criminal. They asked me things like ‘why didn’t you call out for help?’ ‘why didn’t any of the officers you spoke to ask for your financial records?’ ‘why didn’t you run away?’ These are all ridiculous questions. When a man twice your size has a weapon on you, and is threatening people you love, and takes you places away from where you are familiar, your survival depends on not doing anything to further antagonize him. Furthermore, how would I know why the police didn’t ask for my records? If memory serves, I am not the detective. I am not the one trained to build cases against bad guys. I realize it is the prosecutor’s job to find holes in the case that the defense could take advantage of, but nevertheless. I left that hearing feeling like I had once again been violated. I felt like these people were angry at me, and blaming me for what had been done to me. I was hysterical, and in tears. Surprisingly, or really not so much after what I had endured, I called up to the court house the following day to find out that the grand jury had no billed the charges of Aggravated Kidnapping and Aggravated Sexual Assault, citing insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. I was distraught as I could be. Ultimately though, my assailant ended up in federal prison on unrelated charges, and will not be a threat to me until fall 2017. While it isn’t justice, at least it’s something.

You might be asking yourself why I bring this up now. What does this have to do with current events? It has everything to do with current events. My point is, I’m tired of seeing the race card used constantly. I’m tired of minorities segregating themselves and then getting angry that they are segregated. I don’t have a racist bone in my body, so please don’t jump to that conclusion. As I said before, I am colorblind.

The moral of my story overall, however, is this: the justice system is fractured and broken. It is thoroughly, completely and totally screwed up. I’m a young white female and I was dropped through the cracks of justice the exact same way Brown was. People choose to see prejudice everywhere, and choose to use it to justify their actions. There is no context in which that is acceptable. If we are truly going to progress as a nation, everyone has got to stop pointing fingers, drawing lines, and playing the blame game. We are all at the mercy of the law that governs us all. That law is completely and totally twisted from what it was originally intended to be. We have a far better chance of changing that, of fixing that, by standing united in a cause than we do of lashing out and acting so shamefully as to riot and loot. Is that any way to honor that young man’s memory? Is that any way to honor his family? Surely not. That kind of behavior will bring about change, but it is not the progressive change this country, the system, and the people need. It will bring about regressive, backwards change.

I don’t know about any of you, but I have no desire to go backwards, potentially to a time mirroring some of those shameful marks on world history. I have no desire to live in an ugly world fitting ugly statistics. I have no desire to be an element of a statistic. Surely I am not alone in this.

I wrote the following narrative essay for my English Composition class. It was written in MLA format. I have received a lot of really great feedback, both professional and personal, on this piece, and so I wanted to share it here as well.

If it wasn’t already implied, I feel the need to express that nothing I write is seeking sympathy or pity, but simply understanding. I have since discovered that it makes my trials less daunting when I can affect and even help others with my experiences, or open eyes to the struggle of some among them. I share to do just that. If any who have been through some of the same trials as I read anything I write, it is my hope that they should draw solace from the fact that they are not alone, that they are not judged, and that I do stand by them, whether we know each other or not. I want to be a voice of support and kindness in the uglier parts of the world, because some folks trapped in those places are the ones who need it the most.

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There are so many theories as to whether innocence is an element of human biology, or whether it is something of a fluke. Some believe children are born with it, and gradually, as the world gets them in its grips, they lose it. I do not believe we all completely lose our innocence. I believe we have an inherent capacity to maintain some amount of it, proportional to the amount of imagination and wonder we allow ourselves. Like everything else, I believe there are also exceptions to that rule.

I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the spring of 1987. I would be lying if I said I could tell you much about that time. I was raised by a Canadian mother and an American father, in a fairly well rounded home. We were not without our happy level of dysfunction as any family is, but for the most part, it was unremarkable. I am privileged in that I hold dual citizenship. I can (and have) worked in both countries, and have grown a great deal as a person in both countries, as well. I moved to Texas in late spring of 2012 in pursuit of a fairy tale. The man I call my husband now, is one of my oldest friends. I knew him on-line at the tender age of twelve. He was my safe place, my confidante, my best friend. I recall I would hurry home after school, eager to chat with him. Once high speed internet became the norm, he would leave his webcam streaming for me, even while he was at work. He kept a salt-water fish tank, and I loved to look at it while I did my homework. The tank and the creatures who resided in it were so bright, so vivid – it is really a miracle I ever got any schoolwork done.

Time passed as it always does, and we grew apart, as people often do. He was four years older than me, and so we were at different stages in our development. We fell out of touch, going our separate ways to make our separate mistakes and to learn our separate lessons. I would not learn the extent of those lessons until February of 2012. He crawled out of the woodwork, creating a profile on Facebook and adding me. It was an easy reconnection, as if we had never parted in the first place. I caught him up on my life since our last interaction, and he broke my heart catching me up on his. He had been incarcerated for nearly six years. He had just been released a week or two prior to making contact with me. I was stunned. In my youth, I had no idea that he was wrapped up in the ugly underbelly of the world. I had no idea he had fallen in behind his father and submitted to the siren call of drugs. He had gone out of his way to keep those elements of his life from me. It pained me to learn all of these things, but it also steeled my resolve. As a child, I did not have the independence and means to book a flight. At twenty four, however, I did. I flew into DFW the third week in March of 2012. I marveled at the weather. Canadian winters are often still going strong, well into the calendar spring. Texas boasted fair weather, if a little muddy. The grass was already becoming lush and green. It was a far cry from the blinding, desolate, winter wasteland I had flown out of mere hours before.

As all good things often do, my trip passed far too quickly. I was state side for twelve days. The time inevitably came for me to return home. We had decided between ourselves that it would be temporary. We were not quite sure what this was between us, but we were both determined to see it through. I would return home on April 1st, 2012, for the last time. Six weeks later, in the early morning hours of May 16th, 2012, I would load up my car, and I would depart Canada as a resident for the last time. I was terrified, not because I was unsure of where I was going, but because I have never been adventurous. It took 28 hours of driving and a lot of coffee, but I made the 1600 mile drive from end to end of the continental United States of America. I arrived in Sherman, Texas, mid-day on May 17th, 2012. I felt a sense of accomplishment, the likes of which I had never known. I made it. Life was great for the first year. I found work, we found our niche, and we thrived. We were closer than ever.

In the spring of 2013, the tone changed. I was so naïve. I did not know the signs. I did not fully understand my husband’s addiction until it was too late. He was out of control, and there was nothing I could do to alter the subsequent chain of events. He was arrested May 7th, 2013. For a long time I felt guilty for the sense of relief that I felt at knowing where he was, and that he was safe. I truly believe to this day, had he not been taken into custody at that time, he would not be alive today. The ‘drugs are bad’ theme is not the element of innocence lost I referred to earlier though. Less than eight weeks after he was arrested, one of the unsavory people my husband associated with would completely destroy my world as I knew it. Sure, my reality was pretty chaotic already. It was nothing compared to the days following the Fourth of July.

This man took me, took my car, took my money, and all but took my life. I was held against my will for four long, excruciating days. I was denied sleep, and I was sexually and physically assaulted. I was kept off the grid and far away from the people I loved, and the people who loved me. My husband was in county jail and could not come find me. I was not sure I was ever going to see him, or anyone, ever again.

Those days taught me anger. They taught me the potential danger in being too trusting of anyone. They taught me of the extreme evils in this world. The hard truth is that I survived. While I am still working on putting all the pieces back together, I am for the most part, victorious. I will never know innocence again. As if my ordeal was not enough, it would take me seven more weeks and soliciting six different police agencies, to even successfully file a police report, despite the visible signs of abuse on my face and body. Eventually the District Attorney of the county that finally listened, subpoenaed me to testify before the Grand Jury. I was hopeful that maybe justice would finally be served. I learned a great many things about the law, primarily among which is that the law does not like to gamble. It prefers to bet on a sure thing. The DA’s office no billed the charges against my assailant, citing insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. Not only was Johnny Law not concerned with what happened to me, he was also okay with it. He was perfectly content to turn that animal loose.

We teach our children that policemen are there to protect us and to keep us safe. That is the moral of this story. That is the innocence I will never again possess. I am still a happy, pleasant person. I have aspirations and hopes and dreams. I have conquered many adversities over this last year, and I am not finished, yet. The future is bright, and it will be mine. I am no stranger to hard work. My husband will be home eventually, and maybe then this will all be no more than a bad dream. Until then, I am motivated by my anger. I am motivated by injustice not only to survive, but to continue to grow, to become more than I once was. Whatever curve balls life has in store for me, I am ready. I will adapt. I will survive. Bring it on.