I’ve been coming to grips with some stuff about what I’m studying lately, which is largely that 1: I really enjoy machining, but 2: I do not believe that I am capable of being a manual machinist in a traditional shop and I don’t see that as my future.
It’s a weird sentence to write, sitting at a table in the student center waiting for my next class, but I haven’t been able to convince myself otherwise. I don’t have the physical stamina to operate heavy machinery, or the emotional stamina to be the only trans person in a shop. It’s hard enough being the only trans person in my english class.
I’ve stopped and asked myself a lot over the last three semesters What am I even doing here? Why am I doing this to myself? What’s the point?
I asked these questions before therapy today and then talked about it a bit at the end. Why do I keep going if all it seems to be doing is dredging up pain and trauma I haven’t dealt with and didn’t know about?
And the answer is because the only way I can heal from the lies I was told about my worth, my abilities, about college and school, about learning, and teachers is to expose myself to it.
The only way I can recover is to face the terror every day and learn through experience that everything I was told for so long is bullshit.
I’m at school to learn what school is like, to learn how to learn, to learn how to navigate organized education, to learn that not every teacher is my mom reincarnated. I’m here to force myself to face a field of unknown mines and survive it.
If I’m lucky I’ll finish my certificate, I’ll get an associates in something eventually, a nice perk would be placating capitalism.
But I’m here to heal myself through exposure. Apparently.
I don’t even know where to begin. You’ve grown and lived and thrived and your life journey is a beautiful work of art, it almost feels wrong to bring up Quivering Daughters even just to say thank you. But I’m not speaking just for me, when I say, sincerely, thank you for writing through your journey, for taking care of us as we left our families, for writing Quivering Daughters and leaving the blog up. Your tender heart and kind words were the gentle encouragement we needed to start moving forward ourselves. You didn’t judge and yet firmly confirmed that abuse was happening, that we weren’t wrong or broken for feeling how we did – you opened up the doors to healing for so many more of us than you know.
And I just really, truly, with all the warmth in the depths of my soul want to say thank you. Thank you for being the big sister so many of us needed, even though it was and is heart wrenching and hard and messy and exhausting. Thank you for moving forward in your own journey towards healing and showing us that it’s okay to embrace ourselves and make our life what we need it to be.
You are a beautiful human being and Quivering Daughters and now your art + life journey, mean so much to me, and so many of us.
Thank you. Thank you for being gentle and kind and healing. Thank you for lighting the way for so many more people than you realize.
There’s a not so small part of me lately that just really needs people to understand how much breaks when your parents abuse you.
And not just when they abuse you as your parents, but later, when they decide to cut you off because you’re not living how they want you to live as an adult.
I need people to understand the thing that seems unfathomable for people who have pretty okay relationships with their parents.
I spend hours at night trying to draft thought experiments for people to understand the loss, the pain, and the confusion of being disowned.
And here’s the thing. It hurts me. I can’t be the one to explain it. I can’t carry that weight, because when I do, I re-live, over and over the abuse my parents put me through as a child, and the fallout and confusion of their rejection of me as an adult.
I want people to understand that I’m not just whining or blaming my parents they way they say teenagers do…but being abused, and being disowned…..destroys a lot of you, and it takes a really long time to undo the damage of 19 years and one email that completely turned your world, your confidence, and sense of self upside down.
And I feel like it’s weakness that my parents held that much of me. That as a 19 year old who knew their parents were abusive fucks, their abandonment still shook me to the core and upheaved the very fiber of my being in ways I’m still learning and ways I don’t like to admit.
It’s been almost five years and I still don’t understand. I understand it’s not my fault. But I don’t understand why there’s been so much personal fallout. I feel like it’s a key piece of me that I need to explain to people for why I’ve grown and changed the way I have.
But it hurts.
I need people to understand how much breaks when your parents are your bullies, your abusers, and then, after spending years beating you down, decide they want nothing to do with you until you crawl back to them for more abuse. The overnight orphanhood is almost a relief, but then everything they told you that you brushed off to survive comes back a million times louder. Every comment about your hair, weight, appearance, voice, friendships, abilities…it’s all there, staring at you, suddenly holding weight that you have to decide what to do with.
Suddenly, you have to decide, all over again, from square one, without history, without parents….who you are.
While at the same time reconciling that your past happened, your parents disowned you, your parents abused you, and would do it all again in an instant.
You have to find your truth by yourself, and it’s really hard when the only source of information you ever had until you moved out was the source who just decided it would be better if you didn’t exist.
I want people to understand how much that breaks you. But I have to continue to put myself back together first.
I don’t want to make everything all about me and my pain, but sometimes that’s all I can feel.
If I’ve learned anything over the last week it’s that as nice as hiding from everything sounds it’s not necessarily helpful, or useful, and it doesn’t stop me from internalizing all of the things.
Sometimes problems get so overwhelming and I think avoiding them will help and it seems like a great idea, but what happens is I just end up having a mental breakdown and needing someone to help pry me open so I can talk about things and actually process them instead of just letting them build and pretending it’s not happening.
So Wednesday night I crashed and I was like I don’t know, I don’t know what’s wrong or why, or how to fix it, and Alex has spent the better part of our relationship learning how to interpret and pry open the Kiery, because sometimes I don’t know even how to start expressing myself (thanks childhood of completely shutting down), so that I can deal with life again.
I think I need to be asked (multiple times) because I need to know it’s safe to talk and that it’s safe to be honest about how I’m doing and that sticking to pleasantries (and convincing others of their true-ness) isn’t necessary. So that way I’m sure that if I’m honest about how I’m feeling I won’t be adding (too much?) weight to the person who’s asking.
For me, a lot of times I know things are bothering me but I don’t know what; it’s a vast overwhelming void of everything and nothing and I couldn’t describe anything if you just asked me. So a lot of my process involves pulling on threads and seeing which one unravels the skein. It still ends up being a lot of everything and nothing but at least it’s identifiable, at least then I can work through it and feel like my head’s above water for a little bit.
I’m doing better today, and I was doing better yesterday – sometimes I just need help because I can’t traverse my brain all by myself, which sounds stupid, but there you go. I can’t articulate so I shut down and internalize and I do it so much that I can’t escape without aid. But now I know (again), I guess, so all of the things that bother me still bother me but I need to process them instead of shutting down and absorbing.
Over the last couple days that I’ve been feeling okay:
I’ve been working out and started a new tumblr with mara, upped my step goal to 5k steps a day instead of 2k
I drew Humorotica this week! And I didn’t hate my drawing, and I doodled today and also didn’t hate that either.
My hiking shoes and combat boots came in and are awesome
I discovered leggings.
I had a thought about KieryGeek that wasn’t just guilt for the first time since July.
I have a lot of disjointed thoughts and feelings on gamergate and when I’m honest, I kinda reallllly hoped it would just go away already but it’s not and I feel like I need to talk about it and draw a comic about it, and maybe even make a vlog about it.
The huge thing is, I can think again, and I feel okay again, and I have about as much of a clue about why I suddenly feel better as I did about why I felt bad (which is to say, I don’t know), but I think acknowledging that my avoid-everything strategy lead to absorb-all-the-sads-and-keep-them-there helped. Realizing that things do affect me even if they don’t affect me directly is kinda crucial, and you’d think I’d figure that out, but at some point I just lose myself and I’m like NO I MUST FEEL ALL OF THESE, AND YOUR FEELS, AND YOUR FEELS, AND THEY ARE MINE NOW, GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, and it’s not something I need to be doing (but it’s almost impossible to not do because empath), and especially not something that’s healthy for me to hold on to without processing – because it piles and it piles fast and triggers become more intense and…anyway, I lost my point.
I guess I’m just trying to say, I feel better after Alex talked to me and tried to help me make sense of things and then all of the things had names again and now I’m not drowning in an ocean of depression today, and that makes me happy.
I was going through the files on my laptop looking for something specific and I ran across a picture that I saved from 2007. I won’t post it here, because it makes my stomach turn, but content note: graphic descriptions of infections and medical neglect.
My parents stopped taking us to doctors before I was 10. They believed that god told them doctors were evil, to go to doctors was to not have faith in god’s ability and will to heal the sick. Along with that, came the belief that if you were sick, it likely had something to do with sin in your life. Both of these came from James 5.
So, anytime we got sick, we did that. We’d have dad pray for us, literally anoint us with extra virgin olive oil, and then make sure we didn’t have any unconfessed sins. Ex: a cancer sore we could have because we “talked back”.
Because my parents didn’t believe in doctors, they also didn’t believe in medicine, because there is a greek word called Pharmakeia which is where the word pharmacy is derived from, but also means witchcraft. My parents made the jump to then decide that any medication, including ibuprofen and tylenol is evil, because witchcraft.
(side note: just writing this all out now is making me feel sick. First, I can’t believe I remember these arguments so well, and secondly, I just, I can’t, it’s so stupid)
We had one bottle of children’s chewable aspirin on hand, they reasoned THAT was okay because it’s from bark, not chemicals, and because one of my sisters was prone to migraines that resulted in vomiting – but that was only for dire emergencies.
My mom had “natural” remedies, like tea tree oil, oil of oregano, and wurther’s hard candies (for sore throats << that one I’m not complaining about, actually, it was candy). Stuff that 1) doesn’t actually make sense and 2) is not located anywhere near the pharmacy area in the grocery store.
(side note: it took Alex so long to get me to take ibuprofen for migraines because of this.)
So, when I was 16 and a half, I had this horrible horrible infection on my leg. I could not move. It was swollen and oozing and painful, any movement at all was excruciating (and no painkillers), it swelled so much that my thigh didn’t look like part of my leg anymore, it was some weird mutated…thing.
My parents believed it was boils, like Job had (Job 2:7)
So, they prayed for me, anointed me with oil, asked about my sins, which I couldn’t think of and then….the fun started.
Remember: no medicine, no doctors, nothing. My mom decided we had to keep the infection clean (makes sense), so, she would push and squeeze the abscess until puss came out of it (so. fucking. painful.), then she would put oil of oregano in and around the wound because it was a “topical pain reliever” and “antiseptic”, I’m pretty sure hydrogen peroxide happened too. Basically I just remember my siblings complaining that I smelled like spaghetti (maybe that’s why I hate it so much).
It was deep, and there was a good bit of blood – it was blue and swollen around the..head? I still have a visible scar from that first one. And the second one.
This went on from the time I was 16 and a half until I was 18 – it didn’t start fully clearing up until I left home, though it had gone down in intensity.
The second one, was right below the first, had two heads (which I think had more to do with my mom PHYSICALLY SQUEEZING THE ABSCESS than anything else) each wound was big enough you could put a pencil eraser in (I still have that scar too), and there was like, a flesh bridge between the two holes, so they were connected /open at the bottom/inside the wound, but on the top there was a little bit of skin that kept it from being a fucking gash.
After the first one though, my parents were less concerned, and I managed to move – while still in excruciating amounts of pain with no recourse – and do chores and go places and manage.
As time passed and I continued to get these and they continued to leave scars and I continued to function in large amounts of pain, my mom started commenting on how my legs looked.
Because, due to the scars – and random abscesses, they looked polka-dotted. So, I wore only jeans or ankle-length skirts (or tights) so as to hide the hideousness of my infected legs. (This continued well into my marriage, in fact I think it was around a year before I stopped wearing exclusively jeans and wore skirts/dresses that were above my knee, because of that reason.)
I walked for 10 hours in boots with an abscess on my knee (it was not fun and towards the end of the day I was having a really hard time walking/keeping up with the group, but being carried was not Teenpact Appropriate). Some of my skirts had stains from them.
I passed up an opportunity to intern with Teenpact after that trip because of my legs and knowing I wouldn’t have the stamina required to wear heels and walk all day.
They were frequent but became smaller – I started to be able to get to them before they developed into something bigger.
This whole time though, over a year and a half – no one thought anything of it, no one thought to maybe get it checked out, this infection that didn’t go away – this thing that we’re calling boils and figure it has something to do with god, and not providing any kind of relief from the pain, I just had to suck it up and deal with it, and I did.
Our second year together, my legs and scars were healing and I was wearing shorts and short skirts and my parents would always comment on my legs – “oh, it looks like they’re clearing up!” which actually just reminded me that my legs might still be unseemly and polka dotted.
I realized, yesterday, after digging up that picture on accident, that my infection, much like my teeth, was something that they had the power to stop and chose not to. Instead they chose to shame me about it and give me the bare minimum of help (if oregano oil and being made fun of because of it counts as help) because of their religion.
The first two scars are shiny and feel weirdly smooth, but are fading.
It’s worth mentioning, in 2010, my parents all but disowned me and I spent 2 weeks crying, in my room, with the lights out, dealing with an amount of intense pain that I had only dealt with once before – in 2008 when my parents told me that I couldn’t see or talk to my husband anymore. This time, they cut off my relationship with my siblings. I came out stronger on the other end, but that reminded me, acutely, of my previous bout with near suicidal depression and thankfully, I wasn’t suicidal this time, because I was (for the first time) in a loving relationship with someone who cared.
After getting off the pill (health reasons) in 2011, my hormones started raging and I had horribly debilitating bouts of depression every 2 weeks (thanks, ovaries). I was angry and volatile and mean (which I’m not usually) – it started affecting every detail of my life and how I interacted with the people I most cared about. I tried every herbal supplement I heard helped with PMS and hormones. I eventually came to the conclusion that I had PMDD (like PMS but with depression and on steroids) which, upon thinking about it, and my relationship with myself – especially my menstruating self – made sense.
I struggled for a year, taking herbal supplements every day with no help. I talked to self-proclaimed herbal experts who said progesterone was a good bet – it wasn’t (but I did get one lotion that smelled nice and helped on that level).
Last August I’d had enough. It was hard – working up the nerve to talk to my doctor about this weird phenomenon was really hard, I was terrified. I’d been told my entire life that doctors were evil and that they just handed out antidepressants like candy, and also, those were bad. But I couldn’t keep living with that, every two weeks being trapped within myself, being a shell, and trying to not hurt the people I loved because of things I couldn’t control.
So I talked to my nurse, I told her about how debilitating my periods were, how I hated myself, how I felt it hurting my relationships, and she suggested wellbutrin, she said it may be a drastic step and I said, no, I’m ready to try medication.
Shortly after that talk with my nurse, Wil Wheaton wrote about his depression on his blog – which really helped normalize it for me. Because for the first few weeks following the start of my medication I felt a little afraid and a little ashamed because of the stigma that comes from treating depression/mental illness and having it. The shame from my past because I was one of “those” people now.
Wil Wheaton’s story helped me feel better about it, then Hyperbole and a Half’s Adventures In Depression was so spot on (so is part two), I realized that I wasn’t alone. That it’s a real thing (not a spiritual one) and that it’s okay, and that also, I don’t have to live in suffering like I thought for so long.
I didn’t realize that I had been depressed since puberty, with bouts of really really bad rounds of it, until I started taking antidepressants and was introduced to actual emotions and feelings. It was overwhelming at first – I had so many emotions, all of them, I didn’t know what they were, how to name them, or how to deal with them. I just had to sit there and wait and learn what they were.
I feel things now.
People think that if you’re depressed you just feel sad all the time. But what happens is you just eventually feel numb, melancholy – you miss the actual feelings, and negative ones stick and make homes in your brain and never go away.
Now I know, when I feel sad, angry, or depressed even (yes, I still feel depressed sometimes) that they are only emotions and they. will. pass. I will feel happy – actual happiness, and then I’ll feel normal – which is not melancholy, but a perfectly okay everything is fine feeling.
The difference between my emotional and mental state now, a year later, and last year is huge. I can’t start to describe how many ways it’s changed, helped, and made me feel more in control. It’s just so nice to be able to live outside of my head, to not feel trapped inside of my brain, or inside of my body.
Help is worth getting because you matter. intrinsically.
I’m going to be doing a series of posts about depression (my depression). I could do one long post but it’d be a small book…
I’ve struggled with depression since puberty. That’s about as far back as I remember anyway. At the time, I had no words for what I was feeling/going through, my parents dismissed it as “adolescence”. I thought it was normal – normal to hate myself as viscerally as I did and continued to (on new deeper levels as time went on), to completely shut down my emotions and stop feeling, to live in a constant state of melancholy and numbness.
I didn’t understand mood swings because I didn’t have any moods to swing from. I alternated between meh and grumpy-meh. NOTHING moved me, nothing made me cry. As time passed and I went through more changes, I began to loathe myself more, I began to believe that I was worthless, didn’t deserve to be human or treated as a person or with respect, I was nothing more than a tool in my parents toolbox – a tool that would never please it’s operator.
When I started my period, and I was “fully a woman”, I added shame to my already hated existence. I hated that [bleeding/fertility] about myself – more biology that I couldn’t fix. Biology that would haunt me forever, end my life as I knew it [because children, eventually] – the debilitation (after I moved out and was no longer running on adrenaline) added so much negative to my already non-existent body image, and self worth. I would lie in bed for a week, and just fantasize about plunging steak knives into my uterus and ripping it out.
When I was 17, I was borderline suicidal for 6 months. I thought death would be better than continuing my existence at home – my shameful, guilt ridden, broken, worthless existence. Because of friends (and knowing that killing myself would defeat the purpose of my impending escape) I managed to stay away from self harm, and ultimately, suicide. I had a gun (16th birthday present), I knew where it was, I would imagine using it, but I never took it out, I never tried anything, I just liked the thought.