Affirmation 7/30/16

The world is hard. The world is dark. Remember the world is beautiful. It’s filled with so many tiny and huge beauties. You are among those beauties. Continue to be light the world. Continue to be the light that you are in so much darkness. You’re valuable. You have boundless worth.

I’m glad you’re here.

Adventure in “I’m Glad You’re Here”

Deep breath. Breathing in calm. Breathing out panic. Fill every space with calm. You can do this. I’m glad you’re here.

A few months ago, I started giving myself an affirmation every day. I could feel myself getting better before I started this habit, but wanted to give myself an extra push. I didn’t write them down. I wish I had. But at the beginning of June I started to. I started sharing them on Facebook, because I know I’m not the only one who needs them. Not because my words have so much power, but because darkness does. We could all use more light.

Unfortunately, with the public posting comes a price. It goes uncredited. This particular one was addressed in the comments later, but on something like this people don’t read comments. The person who shares gets credit for the words. I’ve seen other posts going up that include the phrase, “I’m glad you’re here.” It isn’t to say I doubt that they are glad you’re here. But louder voices are taking credit for things I’m doing. I’ve lived my whole life afraid to speak up for myself, and some of it feels like if I say something then it negates the point of thinking positively and affirming anything. But my friend Erica, a beautiful and powerful poet, reminded me, “Standing up for yourself is not defeating the purpose of affirmations. It’s living up to them.” So I’m bringing the posts here as a means to protect myself from things like this.

Here is a recap.

June 1, 2016
You are stronger than you realize.

June 2, 2016
Perhaps this isn’t the life you always dreamed or imagined, but you are here. I’m glad you are here.

June 3, 2016
You are not alone in this.

June 4, 2016
People think the worst thing in life is ending up alone. It’s not. It’s ending up with people who make you feel alone. You are not alone. People are on your side. I am on your side. I’m glad you’re here.

June 5, 2016
Today may not feel like the greatest day. Breathe calmly and deeply. There’s space for you in this world. Plenty of space. Breathe deep. You can do this. I’m glad you’re here.

June 6, 2016
Quit beating yourself up. You won’t take it from anyone else, so don’t take it from yourself. I won’t stand for it. Take a step back and treat yourself well. Breathe. Pulse. You can do this. I’m cheering for you. I’m glad you’re here.

June 7, 2016
You are not your past. You are not yesterday. Today you are here, and I’m so glad. It’s a fresh start. You’re strong. You can do it. We can do this together. I’m glad you’re here.

June 8, 2016
You are the sum of your whole being. You are not made up of the things you’ve been told you should not like. You are made up of tiny details. You are the sum of your cells. I love you down to every cell. Love yourself down to every cell. Breathe deep into today. The world has room for you. I’m glad you’re here.

June 9, 2016
You matter. What you have to offer the world matters. You are a gift, and I am so glad to know you. Don’t waste today on self-pity. Trust yourself. You can do this. We can do this. I’m glad you’re here.

June 10, 2016
It’s a new day, and you are here. I’m so very glad. You have the strength and the power to get through today. That power is in your hands. I refuse to give up, because I haven’t exhausted every possible avenue. I refuse to let you give up. We can all do this together.

June 11, 2016
Surround yourself today with what it is you need. Find ways to fill your day with peace and rest and calm. Breathe deep. It’s a clean, new day. Start fresh with yourself and watch it move into those around you. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 12, 2016
Friend, today may not be your favorite day, maybe you don’t want to face it at all. Breathe deep. Breathe calm. Choose to participate fully in today. Today will be, and may already be, a day to remember. We can do it together. I’m glad you’re here.

June 13, 2016
There’s no point pretending the world isn’t a dark, broken, and hurting place. Tragic and terrible things are happening all around us, to us. We have the opportunity every day to choose to love those around us. We can create safe spaces for each other. Not just our own “kind,” but all of humanity. We can love each other. We can make that choice toward the safety of others. The world is dark. Choose to be light. I’m glad you’re here.

Today, much like each of you, is beautiful. We can do this.  I’m glad you’re here.

June 14. 2016
D
eep breath. Feel the beating of your own heart. Tiny movements hold you up, keeping you alive. Something so small is so sustaining. You are here because of tiny motion inside of your frame. Breathe into that quiet rhythm. Take it with you. Be tiny movements. We can help sustain. We can do it together. I’m glad you’re here.

June 15, 2016
Yesterday was not my best day, but today is brand new. It may be storming outside, or maybe even inside, but I would encourage you to take the time to find your calm. Deep breath. Slow, even breaths. Right your ship. Today is yours, and I know you can handle it. You can find calm today. You can find success today. Remember tiny things. Tiny successes. Tiny victories. You have so many of those in a day that the one thing you see as a failure. Tiny things. Deep breath. I’m glad you’re here.

June 16, 2016
Deep breath, Slow, even breaths. Even if it felt yesterday like things were crumbling around you, this is a new day. You are not the same person you were yesterday. Breathe in calm. Breathe out fear and nervousness. Remember there are so many wonderful things in this world. Good things rarely make the news, but they are everywhere. I know because you’re here, and I’m so glad.

June 17, 2016
You are strong. You are capable. You are more than just enough. You have the power to make this day more than just something you muddle through for you and those around you. Be light in so much darkness. We can do this together. I’m glad you’re here.

June 18, 2016
Today is big enough to hold you. The world is wide enough to carry you. We can carry each other. You can do this today. I’m glad you’re here.

June 19, 2016
Quite frankly, yesterday was far from my best day. But I’m still here. It might not have been good for you either. But you’re still here. You’re strong and powerful enough to live, not just survive. You are not yesterday’s pain or struggles. You can live on beyond yesterday. You’re doing it now. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 20, 2016
You may have had to endure a lot of negative opinions of yourself from other people and from yourself. I hope you haven’t. Know though that you are incredible. You are strong and capable. Do not let your heart and mind be fed by the lies you’ve heard or told yourself. You are worth so much to this world. You are invaluable. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 21, 2016
As the rhythm of life beats on today know that your own pulse is strong. You beat and move in this world with a strength in your heart to take on whatever comes your way. You are powerful. You can handle today. There are people around you who love and support you. You are not alone. We can do this together. Deep breath. Strong heart. Clear mind. I’m glad you’re here.

June 22, 2016
The world is a beautiful place. We forget because there’s so much darkness in it, but I know it is. I know it is because you’re here. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 23, 2016
Take time today to take stock of tiny things. All of the little things about your world, about the world, about yourself that you love and bring you peace and happiness. There’s so much goodness in the world, including you. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 24, 2016
Today is fresh and new and beautiful, and so are you. Be content and calm with both. I’m glad you’re here.

June 25, 2016
Deep breath. Let go of the chaos and breathe in today’s calm as you can. You are capable of handling all life has for you today. I know you can. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 26, 2016
You are bigger and more powerful than the negativity of today. Be a light in so much darkness as I know you are already being. I’m glad you’re here.

June 27, 2016
Let got of the pains of yesterday. Tomorrow will get here when it gets here. All you have is right now. And this is the most now it has ever been. Do everything you possibly can with it, and do your best. Be kind. I’m so glad you’re here.

June 28, 2016
You are strong. You are brave. You are capable. You are valuable. And you are far more than enough. Today welcomes you. You are incredible. Do incredible things. I know you can. I’m glad you’re here.

June 29, 2016
Do your best today in all of the chaos to breathe in calm. It has to exist somewhere. Seek it out in every small space. This is what you have. Make the most of it. I’m glad you’re here.

June 30, 2016
Deep breath. While we seek out the love and approval of others so diligently, we forget to find that in ourselves. Remember to love yourself, approve of yourself. Take stock of all of the beauty inside you, because there is so much. Embrace it. I love you, and I’m so glad you’re here.

July 1, 2016
Deep breath. Maybe a few. Breathe in peace and calm, breathe out chaos and pain. Today take time to forgive yourself of all of your so-called wrongs and all of your mistakes. The past does not own you or define you. Let go of your anger with others, but even more, let go of your anger with yourself. You are valuable and do not need to be held down by darkness. Deep breath, for good measure. You can do this. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 2, 2016
Friend, the world is wide enough for you today. Breathe deep and expand into it. Find your spaces and settle in. You belong, and I’m so glad you’re here. Settle yourself into new spaces. Cozy up to who you are and embrace that joy.  I’m glad you’re here.

July 3, 2016
Take time to do more than notice calm and joy today. Breathe it in. Turn the breath of calm and joy into what oxygenates your blood and makes your heart beat. Let each pulse be filled with blood and breath of calm, joy. I’m glad you’re here.

July 4, 2016
Hi, friend. You are powerful. You are bold. You are strong. You are beautiful. All in greater measure than you realize. Whatever today has for you, I know you can handle, even when you don’t want to. Seek out the good in today and let that fill you. I’m glad you’re here.

July 5, 2016
You are more than the lies you’re told about you. The lies from others. The lies from inside you. You are more than strong enough. You are more than capable enough. You are more than brave enough. You are more than enough. I’m glad you’re here.

July 6, 2016
Deep breath. Whatever today might have for you, good, bad, terrifying, beautiful, you are ideally equipped to deal with it. Only you. Everything about you. Your anxiety is ideal. Your fear is ideal. Your strength is ideal. Your mind is ideal. All that you are is composed ideally for your life. You’re beautiful that way. You can do this. We can do this–together. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 7, 2016
This is important, so pay attention. You are not alone. Even if you are by yourself, remember that you are not alone. Everyone has pain and struggles. Some people have similar pain and struggles to you, someone in your life, someone across the world. You are not alone. You can handle this. You can conquer this. WE can conquer this. We’re in this together. I’m glad you’re here.

July 8, 2016
Friend, I’m sorry you have to live in such a dark world. That we live in a place where our brothers and sisters are not safe. Where you are not safe. Remember that you are strong. Remember that you are powerful. We are in this together. Every single one of us. Be a light in so much darkness. You are capable, and I’m happy to stand beside each one of you. I’m glad you’re here.

July 9, 2016
Everything is weird. Everything is hard. Everything is confusing. But I assure, all that you’re working toward, fighting for, living for, that you are worth it. It’s all worth it. Keep fighting. I’m glad you’re here.

July 10, 2016
Deep breath. Slow deep breath. The world is wide enough to cradle you today. Find your space and cozy in. You have a place here. You can handle today. You’ve done it thousands of times before. This is just one more. You can do it. We can do it together. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 11, 2016
Deep breath. Release the strain you’ve put on yourself. Release the darkness that you’ve let surround you. You’re only competition in life is you. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and grow. You can handle today. Who you are today is exactly built to handle today. Yesterday, you weren’t ready for it. You can do today. I’m glad you’re here.

July 12, 2016
Yesterday is over. You put it to bed hours ago. It’s behind you, and it’s not who you are. Not anymore. You are right now. You are this moment. Don’t worry about the last one or the next one. All you have is this one. Enjoy it. I’m glad you’re here.

July 13, 2016
Friend, breathe deep. Take in the particles of the past. Breathe in Lincoln, Hamilton, Washington, Mother Theresa, Jefferson, Parks, you. Breathe it all out, because that’s over. The past is not what you are made of. Learn from it. Shut out the lies and darkness it fed you and start again. It’s clear and new and made to hold you. I’m glad you’re here.

July 14, 2016
Slow, even breaths. Take them in with calm and release chaos. Let it go as you can. You won’t get rid of all of it. You won’t reasonably clear up your anxiety or your depression or your PTSD or your bi-polar disorder. Those things exist. Accept them and know that you are strong. You’ve lived so many days with these things and pains in you. Positivity won’t fix it, but a little reframing can help. Take a beat today to reframe. You deserve the chance to fully examine your thoughts. You’re worth it. You can handle today. I’m glad you’re here.

July 15, 2016
You are powerful. You are capable. You are strong. You are valuable. You are not your circumstance. You are not your past. You are not the lies in your head. You are more. You are enough.

July 16, 2016
Breathe in strength, calm, and power. Breathe out the chaos and trouble of yesterday. Today is new and it’s yours to make what you will. It may not be ideal, but it’s your choice how you deal with it. You are in control of you. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 17, 2016
You are strong. You are powerful. You are capable. You are smart. You are exactly suited for what today has in store for you. Breathe in calm and let it fill your lungs. Let the calm-infused oxygen pass through your blood and make its way to your heart. Let it pump to your hands, your toes, your legs, your brain. Let your body be filled with calm. You can do this. I’m glad you’re here.

July 18, 2016
You are not alone. You are not alone in this. We live in this hurting world together. Whether you are by yourself or surrounded by people, it can feel lonely. It can. Being on your own does not make you alone. We’re in this together, every single one of us. You’re not alone. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 19, 2016
Deep breath. Surround yourself with what brings you joy and peace. Find people and conversations that bring you calm and rest. Life is some times terrible. Don’t let every moment feel that way. You are in charge of you. Don’t let the ideas of others dictate who you are and how you feel. You are in charge of you. You are powerful. You are capable. You are strong. You are in charge of you. I’m so glad you’re here.

July 20, 2016
Friend, deep breath. You are free. You are powerful. You are strong. You are capable. You are the one that decides who you are, no one else. Let your strength and freedom of yourself be your definition, not the ideas and lies of anyone else. No one dictates who you are, but you. You are free to make changes. You are free to move on from your past. You are powerful, strong, and capable to move on from your past. Let it go. You are free. I’m glad you’re here.

July 21, 2016
You are more than enough. You are not the lies you’ve heard or told yourself. You are not your past. You are right here, right now. You are more than enough. Enjoy every moment. Be in each moment. A minute from now is not the problem of present you. You are right now. You are more than enough. I’m glad you’re here.

July 22, 2016
Deep breath. You are capable. You are bold. You are strong. You are resilient. Your life is not dictated by the outcomes of circumstances. Your life is your choices and your reactions. Your contentment is not based on the things around you. Contentment is your choice. Claim it. Breathe in peace. Breathe out panic. You can handle today. I’m glad you’re here.

July 23, 2016
You, much like the new day, are fresh and beautiful. Claim this day as your own. You’ve got this. I’m glad you’re here.

July 24, 2016
It may be the end of the day, but know that you’ve made it this far. You did it. Deep breath as you calm yourself into the night’s rest. Let go of your worries and challenges today. Focus on what beauty you saw, what good you learn, and let yourself find strength and renewal for the day to come. I’m glad you’re here.

July 25 ,2016
Deep breath. You are capable. You are capable. You are capable. You are capable.You are equipped and able to handle whatever today offers you. You are capable. Breathe in deep. Fill your body with calm. Breathe out the worry you’ve already stacked on top of yourself. You are capable. I’m glad you’re here.

July 26, 2016
Today is wide enough for you. The world is wide enough for you. Find your space and stretch out. Let yourself be content in your space. You are supposed to be here. I’m glad you’re here.

July 27, 2016
You have more power in you than you understand. Breathe into your strength and your power. Breathe deep into those spaces that you forgot you had stored up for when you needed it most. Know that all you need is always there. You are more powerful than you know. You can handle today and whatever it sends to you. I’m glad you’re here.

Now, get out there are show the world how powerful you are! I’ll see you tomorrow. I’m glad you’re here.13517594_706806054379_842601765644558337_o

Adventure in Spelunking

I’ve never been cave diving. But I love the idea of caves, and I’m pretty decent at regular diving. Or I used to be. I can’t actually remember the last time I was in a pool, which feels weird. Not the point.

The thing about speaking up about all of the things that have happened to me is it’s not always great for me. It’s not always empowering. It’s not always helpful. Many people in my life think things are worse than ever, because they’re finally hearing about things as they happen. As I deal with them, instead of never having to hear about them.

Another side to it is a lot of people think that that’s all that I am. I am just a victim. I am just PTSD. I’m not, if you’re wondering. I’m pretty grossly complicated. Pretty grossly broken, I admit. But there’s a lot more going on in my life than living with a disorder. There’s a lot more going on in my life than being a survivor. Not a victim. Maybe I’m more than that. Maybe I’ve read a book or two that isn’t about rape or rape culture. Maybe I have hobbies.

Another side to it is many people co-opt my pain for their own. To tell and retell my story like a folktale that makes them seem like they, in such a distorted way, know someone interesting.

Truth is, while I know there are people in my life that my speaking up does help, I do it for myself. I do it to maintain my sanity. It’s a beautiful side effect that encourages other people to soldier on like the warriors they are.

Right now though, what I’m watching is the gross sides of it, the things above. It’s my story to tell as publicly or privately as I wish, not anyone else’s. So for the time, for right now, it’s going to private again. I don’t know how private. I want to hold it tight to me and bury it again and never let anyone else in. I know that’s not the right choice, but know that it’s what I want. That I feel like shutting everyone out again. It will probably look more like letting a few people in until they feel too burdened, or more likely, until I think they feel too burdened.

It’s time to take a deep look at what protecting myself looks like again, because too many dark creatures have found their way into my mind and my life, and I do mean people. It’s time to shut up the house for a while and only let those who were invited in. Everyone is a vampire until I feel otherwise. I don’t feel safe, but I wear my armor. I wear those that are safe. I keep them with me. IMG_2751

Adventure in Here Comes the Sun

And so come the blues.

Something we don’t talk about a lot, because it makes all of us uncomfortable is death. It makes us think about each other dying. It makes us think about us dying. We don’t like it. More than that we sure as shit don’t like to talk about suicide. Sorry, dudes. I’m gonna. Buckle up.

It’s summer, and what that means is my brain gets tired quickly and often. I don’t like to feel left out of activities, and the summer is a flurry of activities. It’s night after night of me yes-and-ing everyone I know.
“We’re going to the park.” “Yes! And I’m bringing a kite!”
“We’re making brunch.” “Yes! And let’s go on a six-mile walk!”
“We’re going to dinner.” “Yes! And we’re all dressing as the food we’re ordering!”
“Hayley, stop it!”
But my brain needs breaks. I give off all of the appearances of an extrovert, because I’m adaptive. And by “adaptive” I mean “quick to accommodate and a people-pleaser.” Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy the occasional outing. The occasional diversion from my sweatpants. The variation from my porch and beer. But I feel gross if my breaks leave me out. And I feel gross if being out leaves me without a break. It feels childish. It’s a little paranoid. I don’t like being around people, but I don’t want to be left alone.

Let me tell you why.

In the summer I know that left to my own devices for too long my thoughts will wander, and they will wander dark. They’ve done it before, and they’ll do it again. Not because I want them to. Not because I let them. Not because I entertain them. But because I get tired, and I can’t fight them anymore. Because some times it’s two in the afternoon, and all I can think about is the quiet. It’s important to know I don’t want to kill myself. I just think it’d be nice to be dead some times. I think there’s a line in there somewhere. I think a lot of people dance it. I don’t think I’m alone. I just think we’re not talking about it. I’m not telling you this because I want to shock you or I want you to call me concerned in 20 minutes, mom. I’m fine. I really am. I just think it’s important to realize that these thoughts aren’t uncommon, and maybe hiding them is worse for us.

Usually, in the first session with any new therapist they’ll ask you if you’ve ever had any thoughts of suicide. My tendency here has always been to lie. Who the hell is that helping? Not me. Because while I think about, I always have no thoughts of action. No plans. But every day is a decision to keep living. I think it is for most people in some way. Some days for me it’s as a simple as choosing to get out of bed and do my job. Maybe you can identify with that one. Some days it’s choosing to eat food to sustain life. Some weekends it is making myself leave the house and be around people to keep myself away from my own thoughts.

There are people in my life that I tell when I think things are getting too dark. There are places that I go to brighten up my life. There are physical places that I go. There are mental places that I go. There are emotional places that I go. O, the places that I go. There are people I text late at night. I let Kristen know that my brain is getting so sad, and I don’t know how to handle the crushing feeling. Kristen knows that I want to feel as strong as people say I am. Kristen understands what it is to have people put that added burden on you. It’s an extra weight we willingly carry, but it gets so heavy. I tell Hannah. She says something smart followed by a string of jokes to distract me. Alex will read the novella of texts I send off to her and reciprocate. Dustin will remind me how far we’ve come from where we were ten years ago. Brett and Erica will do the same. Jeff will call me if he thinks it’s getting too dark and remind me he can come over or I can come there. That there’s an extra bed at his house. That it’s safe there. Casey would be here sitting up with me if he could. Piper now holds my hand and puts her head on my shoulder during poetry readings. Minelli sends me links to adorable animals. Derek reminds me what my passions are and why I love them. Jason and DJ let me be a little baby brat about my stupid feelings and then tell me I’m not even when I know I am. That’s just the beginning of the list.

I am safe. I know I am. The truth is I’m safer than I’ve ever been. But that doesn’t stop these ideas, these thoughts from creeping in. But keeping them locked up in my head won’t help. So I’m letting you know, that I understand that you have them. I’m dealing with mine too. We all are. I’ve been writing daily affirmations for myself that I’ve taken to sharing on Facebook. It’s just one more way I can stop myself and pull myself out of dark spots. Every day I’m trying to remind myself that I’m here today and maybe that’s enough. We’ve got today, and all we can do is use it to the best of our ability. Loving other people. Supporting other people. You’re not alone. Together we’re a hell of a lot stronger and more powerful than we are apart. Please, speak up and speak out about all of your things. You are who you are. There’s no shame in that. We can do this.

***EDIT***

And this is important! If you are having suicidal thoughts and considering acting on them please contact either someone you know personally and that you trust or reach out to one of two key crisis helplines. Please, either call 1-800-273-TALK (2855) or text “GO” to 741-741. You are not alone!

***End edit***

This is me just doing my best. At life. At summer. Check in come winter when you’re gloomy. I’ll be on the up and probably more useful, though likely less tan.

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Adventure in Coming Home

It’s not unknown that the last two years have been hard and confusing. That I’ve been searching for something to fill that space in me. That space that I’ve been filling with things that I do enjoy. Jokes, laughter, making other people successful, performing things I enjoy, readings.

In February, as with every February, the anniversary of the beginning of the worst things rolled around, but it was also an audition for a show I’ve always desperately wanted to be in. I simply didn’t have the strength to do it. I believed with all of my being I could have been in it, but I didn’t think I could muster my strength to actually audition. The next weekend another audition presented itself. An audition with a new company that was focused on Shakespeare and his contemporaries. After a year of reading and a summer of improv, I decided my injured brain could handle this experience. It was, up to that point, the best audition of my life. I let myself go. I didn’t have anything to lose. I didn’t know these people. I still had comedy to fall back to if it didn’t go well. I could still stand if it didn’t go well, but it did go well. It went well enough that I walked out of there confident that I would get the role I wanted. So confident I went out to dinner with a friend to celebrate that very day, despite the bad news we had received personally between us.

A couple of weeks later I was cast in the very role I was certain I’d gotten, and I knew that meant comedy was going to take a bit of a back seat. It meant that a lot of things were going to take a bit of a back seat. When the break down of scenes came out, and it showed I was in every scene, but two and later every scene, but one everyone was going to lose a lot of face time. I knew that. People were largely understanding. Most people were largely understanding. I didn’t, however, want to stop investing in things I cared about. I would, while I could, make runs to the Let’s Comedy office before rehearsals. Grab a meal and run to the office after work. When one of our guys was in South Korea this month I made a point to run to the bar directly after work before every show if I could to set up the room and then run to rehearsal. I’d eat if I had time, which usually happened after rehearsal some time around 11. This is the life I wanted.

Being busy is one of the most lovely things to me. It can be exhausting, of course, but what it also does is keeps me from letting my depression and PTSD take control. Those two things often just need time to breathe to take over, and if they don’t have time to ruminate then they can’t take over my brain. If all I can think about is how Antipholous is looking at me and how I hope the room is filling up right now for Kinane and whether or not I actually said “else never” or “else ever” and if I remembered to bring my rosary out with me this time or not and did Jensen and I wear our blue socks on the same feet tonight? I don’t have time or space for my brain to get anxious with my depression or PTSD. I just don’t, which is beautiful. I’m not saying it’s healthy. It’s just what’s happening right now.

What has also happened because of this show is I have found my tribe. These people. They are kindred. There was an immediate connection. The woman I am almost constantly working alongside is someone I auditioned with. In the cold reads I threw her over my back, and she just let that happen. We’d never met, but she just let that happen. Her name also happens to be Halee. She also happens to have red hair. She also happens to get lost in obnoxious laughter that is constantly changing. We’ve slowly melded. And we aren’t the only ones. It’s not just her. I went out for drinks with another cast member one night, and we stayed out for six hours talking. It started with silly voices then got very serious then got silly then got serious then got kindred. People who understand that you ask if you can hug someone. A man in a Peanu Keeyes shirt. Kisses on everyone’s cheeks. Everyone is safe. Something about this group of people is different than other casts I’ve worked with before. When rehearsals were first starting, I was leaving my old job, and things were getting less than savory we’ll say. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I knew it was going to be a problem emotionally when it came time for rehearsal as rehearsals were getting more intense. I contacted my director who was 1) immediately indignant with me, and 2) understanding and supportive. Supportive in a way someone in his capacity had not been before. I was home. I was safe. I know I’m not alone in that.

I know because in this cast we’ve suffered losses, and we’ve carried each other. We’ve been injured, and we’ve carried each other and adapted. We’ve been emotionally damaged, and we’ve carried each other. These people are safe. These people are home. In a way I’ve never felt before, it’s going to be hard to walk away from this show on Sunday morning. I’m going to be sad not to see them every day. They are my tribe.

When Sunday hits I will cry. I will cry a lot, I imagine. I will try not to. I will work to distract myself. I’ll probably have brunch with Piper, because I don’t want to cry about how much I miss these people. I don’t cry when shows end. I will this time.

I tell you this now, because I do have a little time and last night we got to just spend some time together. Sure we had a brief rehearsal, but I also got to witness some of that carrying, some of that love and support. But I also wanted you to know you still have time to see this bond. You can still see this show before it’s gone. May 26, 27, and 28 at 8:00 p.m. at the Auer Center ArtsLab at 300 E Main Street in Fort Wayne, IN. Tickets are only $15.0012931081_457003501170169_8199661723697369969_n

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My tribe. I found my tribe.

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Adventure in Still Talking

In the last week several things happened.

First, last Monday I started my new job, and I love it. It’s going to make things so much lighter for my brain. Already I can feel so many burdens being lifted. I can feel myself opening up space for things I enjoy and need far more than stress and pain. Chiefly, this means my brain is open to leave work and go to rehearsals without the burden of loathing. I can go to rehearsals and have a brain ready to create. I can go to rehearsals ready to delve into a thing I love.

Second, I left rehearsal Friday night full of energy. I was considering going for a run, but decided to go to the bar to see if our show was still happening. I haven’t been able to do much with Let’s Comedy, and I’ve been feeling guilty about that. I wanted to be able to be as supportive as possible. Comedy has always been something that I care deeply about, but ultimately it does sort of fill this weird space. It’s a round object in my heart, which turns out is heart-shaped. It fills so much, but not all of it. And here comes theatre again, doing its job, but I don’t want to leave comedy behind because it has taken such good care of me and brought me such wonderful people. But after the show ended I had a bad interaction. I was saying “good-bye” to some friends and noticed someone a little twitchy behind me looking at me and pacing. I decided to cling to my pal a while longer until he moved along and I could duck to the back room again where I made a break for my car. I ran for my car. I drove home. I’ve never run to my car before. Not unless challenged to a foot race I knew I’d lose. When I reached my house I sent texts to several people. To my people. The people I knew could talk me out of the car, because I found myself in my ritualistic spot in front of my house immobilized. “Does he know where I live?” “Did he follow me?” “Why does this keep happening to me?” “Is this my fault again?” “Is it always my fault?” They convinced me out of my car. That I was safe. Inside was safe. Some of them were just down the road if I needed them. I grabbed Gilda Catner when I got inside. I locked the door. I locked it again. I carried her up the stairs. I didn’t change my clothes. I didn’t do anything. Holding Gilda, I crawled into the utmost corner of my bed and sobbed. I fell asleep some time some hours later, Gilda still in my arms.

I woke up with her in my arms. A pounding headache from dehydration. I made myself leave the house. I wanted to blog something completely different on Saturday. I was writing letters. Letters I keep starting, but can’t ever seem to finish.

Because Saturday, third, I learned that Jim Leugers died. Jim Leugers was an incredible comic and artist and human out of Indianapolis. I didn’t know him well enough. What I did know was the effects of him in the community around him. Jim was this big beating heart and like arteries he pulsed this beautiful thing through so many people. So many of them, whether they realize it or not, are intimate reflections of Jim. The ways they take the time to encourage or guide people after a show, kindly or otherwise. The ways they take the time for each other at all. Comedy is such a different beast than theatre to experience, but I think what I love about this particular community is the way Jim impacted it. Because he kept it from becoming so isolating. It’s something that I hope doesn’t get lost, and I don’t think will get lost, simply because Jim isn’t here anymore. He influenced so many people, it’s impossible for that to get lost. Those reflections of him, those kindnesses (surly though they could be), I see them in so many people who knew him well, and I’m not even sure if they know where they learned it. It’s an enormous loss to his family, to his friends, to his community. But he isn’t gone. He’s genuinely left behind so much of himself in so many people. Last night I was driving someone home from a get together that was held in his honor, and he just kept saying, “I can’t believe he’s gone.” And I said, “Nah. He’s not. Just think how stupid it is that you can see pieces of him in even the dumbest people who knew him. He’s everywhere, and that’s the most annoying thing he could have done.” But it’s also the most beautiful. He shaped a whole community in Indianapolis, and who knows how far that reaches? He traveled. His friends traveled. Pieces of Jim are everywhere.

The night I found out, fourth, someone told me to never stop talking about what has happened to me, which is why I’m writing this at all. Because so many of us have been silent for far too long. This is for Spencier.

So fifth. When I was living in Indianapolis, after my third assault, I was reaching my breaking point.I think I reached it. I think I was ready to give up completely. I was done. I was going to give up on everything. Suicide was hard on the table, and I was so silent that no one would have known. I wouldn’t have known who to tell or how to talk about it. Or even why to talk about it. One day a friend of mine friend college who lived in Fishers suggested I just try going to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “Look, you like art. It’s free. And maybe you’re just not getting out enough anymore.” He didn’t know. He couldn’t know. I wouldn’t let him know. But it was a good suggestion. So that Saturday I put my bravest face on, and if memory serves my cutest “I’m going to look at art” outfit, and I went. I wandered, and I wandered. Most of the day. It was at the very least calming. He was onto something there. Then I wandered into a room. A room where the ceiling was covered in colored wires and tiny speakers. There were a lot of people in there talking so I didn’t get it. I walked the room and looked outside. I read the placards. It wasn’t until I read the placard that I realized what was happening. The room cleared of the noisy people. I curled up on the floor in a corner, and I sat silently. I listened. I listened for over an hour. I cried. I wasn’t alone anymore. I changed my mind. I went back to that room every week until I moved back to Fort Wayne which happened four years ago tomorrow. Every time I need to go to Indianapolis, if it is my power I make a trip to that room. It is now $18 to get into the museum, and it’s worth it for me to regroup. I spent almost three hours sitting in there today. When I walked in today, I came in as the whispers of “I love you” began to swell. I sat silently as school groups shouted and ran around.

At one point a woman came in and sat beside me on the bench. We were both just looking up at the speakers. I was crying. I could feel her crying too. As she got up to leave she put her hand gently on my hand and said, “Art can do that. Enjoy your time.”

Thank you, Julianne Swartz. You saved my life.

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Adventure in When It Rains, It Pours

This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever made myself do. I was going to wait until the day of, but I just couldn’t sit on it any longer. That being said, please, don’t try to analyze the situations. Don’t try to decide who the parties are. Don’t seek out your own justice. This is my life. This is my story. This is survival. It’s finally time I shared it, as best as I can.

Six years ago I was raped. There’s no sense mincing words. That’s where it started, not yet 23. Because of the nature of the situation, because of my own shame of the situation. I know now, more than ever, I should have told everyone. Instead I was met with laughter. Two friends met me with tacos. Over the next year I became a completely different person. Whether you knew my situation or not, and most people did not. Largely, no one did. I was different. I was quiet. I was isolated. Deliberately. I didn’t want to be around people anymore. I didn’t trust them. Someone I knew had betrayed me, and people I loved wouldn’t hear me. People I thought loved me.

About a year later, I moved and was living in another town. And my body was rejecting me all over again. Because when your body has a dermoid teratoma (the genetic equivalent of my unborn twin) some times it takes a traumatic hormonal event for it to start growing, even though she’s been living inside of you since you were an embryo. So even though the hospital had streeted me a month before for “lady problems. take some midol and go home.” That night I was vomiting again and in excruciating pain. Despite watching The Last Chance Detectives, a Christian children’s video series, in the basement of Christian college dorm with two of my closest friends. That Saturday night I learned that Little Caesar’s tastes the same coming up as it does going down. They said that it was about 9 centimeters inside my 3 centimeter ovary. They wanted to try to save it since I hadn’t had children yet, and I was so young, just 24. I was sent home early Sunday morning, around 1, and I was to call Monday to schedule an ultrasound and surgery.

I sent my roommate, who stalwart, stayed by my bed, to her own bed. My friend stayed up as late as he could with me as I writhed on the couch. My roommate got up at 8 for church to find me sweating in pain still. We went right back to the hospital. My parents came down. The surgeon was called. The anesthesiologist was called. She bitched in the lobby about how much she didn’t want to be there and hit my bone as she did the epidural. As they finally finished up the surgery to remove the now 10 centimeter mass the epidural was wearing off, and I could feel so much stretching and pulling. I just wanted it all to be over. All because of something that had happened a year before.

I healed on our couch mostly, sitting on the news from my doctor that while he did save my ovary that it would never fully function like it was supposed to. He was going to put me on birth control to regulate my periods to see if he could make things work right, but if I wasn’t trying to get pregnant that was probably just going to waste the eggs I did have. When I could I went back to work. Making my sales calls that I hated. I hated everything. Parts of me still do.

One day a boy asked me out. A boy from my church at the time. We went out twice in one day. And while six years ago, I was raped, this is by far the worst thing that’s happened. He didn’t want to spend time upstairs with everyone else, which I found suspicious. He scarcely let me get a word in, which I took as insecurity. I’m not quick to speak anymore anyway. I certainly wasn’t then, especially if I wasn’t being asked a question, which in retrospect makes me feel remarkably disgusting. Relinquishing so much control like that when I’d already lost all of it. But the second part of the day was worse. Less unsettling and still in a place where I can’t bring myself to say the words out loud. All in all, I’ve said them written out to maybe three very close friends, who I trust more than anyone and who I know understand beyond the telling. It was violent. It was terrifying. I spent many subsequent days lying to the people who had just months before taken such beautiful care of me and hiding. I started spending more time at the house of the guys’ who lived down the street or close to campus. I started pushing at my high school friend and his boss that it was time to hire me and bring me down to Indy.

A couple of weeks later that time did come. With only the explanation of needing out of the job I hated and trying to convince the people that I loved to come with me, I moved to a new city. A new city where I only knew my friend from high school/now coworker and my ex-boyfriend. I loved my job. I loved it. I loved my coworkers. The content was sad, but the work was good. The people were lovely. Some of my friends moved down. It was getting better. I was forcing myself to venture out. I found spaces in the Indianapolis Museum of Art that I knew if I sat quietly would make me feel safe. I found spaces downtown that I knew if I wondered alone it didn’t matter. I found spaces that if I went alone to write or work I could be okay. I saw Jimmy Fallon. I saw the Roots. I was running several miles a day. The birth control I was on was destroying me inside. I found a bar that had live comedy, played hockey games, and while I never found a church that really suited me I was developing my own sort of way. My painting was actually starting to get better. Even though everything in Indy felt transitional I believe I could have adjusted. I could talk to people who lived there 30 years who would say, “Well, we’re just here until the next thing comes along.” And I wanted to shake them and say, “Commit. You’ve been here most of your life. This is your thing.”  I could have lived with that. I could have committed. I can commit to a city. I’ve done it before, and I’d do it again.

But one evening, around 7, not terribly dark yet. I was by myself and on my way to meet some friends. I was pulled from the sidewalk and back toward an alley. It couldn’t have felt more typical. I didn’t scream. I didn’t shout. I didn’t even push that hard. I just started crying and curled up in a ball on the ground. He tried. Don’t think he didn’t. Honestly, I think that he was so confused he just gave up. After a while your will to live just sort of leaves. I sat there and cried a while longer. I wiped my eyes and smudged my mascara under my eyes, believably vampy eyeliner. Met my friends for dinner. More lies.

It all started to catch up with me. One day at work I found myself at my desk with images of me dead a dozen different ways at my own hand flashing through my mind. No plans to do it, just not wanting to be alive anymore. Tears streaming down my face I called every therapist in the area I could find with a picture who had a nice face. Tears still on my face I came around my cube wall and ask my boss if it was okay I went to a therapist. I just wasn’t doing well. He said, “of course.” To let him know what he could do. She was nice. She called me codependent. I had started driving home every few days to see people. Staying home on weekends to be surrounded by more people I knew. Sleeping on floors I knew. I still couldn’t tell her what had happened. Christian evangelicals have made sex so damn taboo to talk about, even if you didn’t play a part, hell, even if you’re married, that I didn’t feel safe talking about it with my therapist.

On the side, I was doing it again. Trying to relocate. Finding a new job. I was moving home. I was determined. I needed to be around more people I knew. Even if I didn’t like all of them, I at least knew what I was getting back home.

It was the right move. Mostly. Except for the time I went to a local music venue and was attacked again. I know at this point you’re all wondering why, I’ve never reported any of this. But when the people in your life, the people you loved the first time around didn’t believe you no matter how you told them, when it’s met with laughter, you don’t expect anyone to believe you again. When you have no details about your assailant. When you know the statistics about having any alcohol at all in the state of Indiana. When you know the statistics at all in the state of Indiana.

Yes, I’ve still found myself threatened and in threatening situations. Terrified at night. Unable to sleep. With a therapy-mandated cat. Hidden away on a dark day every year. Giving up on therapy because she cancelled without warning on my rapiversary. But moving home, I’ve been surrounded. I’ve been lucky. It’s been hard. Life’s been damn near impossible some days. Most days. But I’ve stopped lying. Hell, I’m honest with strangers now. Because it’s not my shame. I didn’t do anything wrong. This is not my lie to carry. It’s my trauma. It’s my hurt, but it’s not my lie. Not anymore.

Here’s the thing about being assaulted. When it rains, it pours. Many of the people I’ve spoken with who have been assaulted have been assaulted more than once, through no fault of their own. Because there is no fault of the survivor here. It’s not “wrong place, wrong time.” It’s not the way he or she was dressed. It’s not how drunk anyone was. The only person who can take any blame is the monster. You are strong. You are bold. You are powerful. You are worth being heard. Those that don’t believe you are not worth of being in your life. You are valued. You are loved. You are not the atrocities of others. You are not the disgusting lies that other people present so they can go on living lies with other people. You are truth. You are your truth. A truth that deserves to be heard and is worthy to be believed. Something disgusting, a monstrosity acted on you does not define you nor is it your shame to carry. Do not let it plague your life.

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Adventure in Teeth Kicking

In my head this is a thing I don’t do every year, but this is absolutely a thing I do every year. So let’s recap the worst year ever, and let’s talk about kicking some serious ass in 2016. Sound good? I think so.

To be fair, 2015 wasn’t all dread. It was hard. That’s true. Some of it was down right shit.

From the very beginning of last year things started wacky and terribly dehydrated. Because as is my custom, I spent my New Year’s Eve making sure everyone else was okay, had not a drop to drink, of anything. Not water. Not booze. I got grouchy, but these kids had a great time. And carried me through the whole year. As you’ll soon see. I think even I’m about to realize 2015 wasn’t as bad as I remembered.new year new you

Then there was the whole panicked month of January. Putting together and directing a show that ends up starring three of your best friends. Your band drops out. You panic. You get a new band. Your best friend and one of your actors breaks up with you. Your show is on Valentine’s Day. And you cry for three solid days including work, excluding rehearsals. Still you find yourself with what feels like the most amazing project you’ve ever produced. Probably because it also came with a bunch of emotions, but also because it came with an absurd amount of support from so many people. I still can’t get over this.ssg 3ssg 1ssg 4

For every month of this that endured. The old friends and new friends. The real discussions and the pure silliness that came out of it. The potions and the motions. The puppy-headed monsters. Proverbs and no-verbs. These monthly Shakespeare readings are keeping my theatre brain alive. Those that participate, whether for pie, friendships, words, or any reason at all, make each month so fantastic.

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An internet challenge brought me 30 days of my own mediocre creativity, but it did force me to create, which was good for my brain. It’s proven even better now. Because while the final products are not the best things I’ve ever produced, I’m still proud to have produced them.art 1art 2art 3art 4art 5art 6art 8art 9art 10

 

This year allowed me some amazing opportunities to see and meet some fantastically funny and genuinely kind comics. Not all of them pictured. But so many incredible people. From the Puterbaugh Sisters who always treat me like a person to Danny and Mike who were just such treasures to spend time with to Bobcat Goldthwait who saved me from my rent being late without knowing it and gave me life advice to Brooks Wheelan who just wanted to talk about Bobcat Goldthwait to playing host to Kate Willett. And diving into improv again and unlocking some emotions that terrify me and suddenly connecting with a good buddy in the process. Comedy has been kind to me. It took a dark turn at the beginning of the year, and some things got lost, but it also forced us to band together and hold even tighter to each other. Which I love. It’s made us stronger. It’s made us smart. It’s made us love what we’re doing even more. Comedy, you keep doing you. You’re healing so many broken spaces.comedy 1comedy 2comedy 3comedy 4comedy 5comedy 6comedy 8comedy 9comedy 10

And a year of a heart-rending break-up. A year of a bone-breaking fall. A year of a head-injuring fall. A head-injuring fall that has caused enough complications, terrifying complications that even I don’t want to live with me, so many people are still here. Still here holding my hand. Holding my hair back. Holding my head in their lap as I cry. Crying in my lap, because I’m not alone in life being terrifying. Because one trauma can awaken trauma. And you’ve let me live, and die. You’re letting me die alive, and you’re letting me struggle to live. And I thank you for letting me fight for that. (not all pictured)

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Because as much as 2015 was terrible, and it was, I survived. 2016 might also be terrible, but I’m determined to do more than survive. I make no resolutions. I stand by my friends, as they have stood by me. 2016 though, 2016 is mine. It’s ours. I’m going to destroy. I’m going to chew it up with my mechanically and expensively straightened chompers and spit it out in 365 days. I’m going to kick its jaw off its hinge. I’m going to rip it asunder. I’m going to make more violent metaphors than I’ll make in my entire life, because 2015 broke me apart and actually broke me. 2016, I will break you.

Plus, lest we all forget, 2016 will bring us another Leap Day, where nothing counts! Because real life is for March.

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