Adventure in Breaking/Mending

Eight weeks ago something happened. Six weeks ago something worse happened. One week ago more brush was shoved on the fire.

It’s not a new topic for me, especially in the last couple of years, but try as I might, try as others might, I won’t stop talking about it.

Eight weeks ago, between eating lunch and picking up a comic to take to his next city, I stopped at the home of a person I know. Someone I had spoken with regularly. Someone I considered a friend. In the course of less than half an hour, everything changed.

I was able to take myself out of the situation before it became desperate. But “no” wasn’t a viable answer. “This isn’t why I came over,” was also unaccepted. “I don’t want to redo my makeup” was a good reason. “I’m on my period” granted me enough space to get up and leave, but not enough space to have control to stop things.

I picked up the comic and went about my weekend.

Six weeks ago, I was feeling good. I met up with someone and lost complete control of the situation. I’ll continue to spare you details. I got home in the middle of the night, uncontrollably sobbing. I knew the right things to do. I knew to call the police. I knew not to shower. I knew those are the things you’re supposed to do. Another thing you should do, if you’re able, is take care of yourself, whatever that looks like. So I did. I showered. I took my clothes off. In that order.

I did something I haven’t done before though. I reached out to people immediately. Everyone was asleep, but in the morning so many people were affirming. So many people kept my mind safe. My dear friend, who is far away, encouraged me to go to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. My dear friend, who is down the street, hugged me while I sobbed on him.

I called the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, because I didn’t know how it worked. She said to come in immediately. I asked, “Can I wait an hour? I have a job interview in 15 minutes.” She called me a toughie.

Throughout an hour-long job interview, I held it together. I needed this job. She asked how I handle stressful situations. I refrained from saying, “I haven’t cried once or given pause that something is wrong in this interview, have I?”

My dear friend, who hurried back from out of town, met me at the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. I met with a forensic nurse, a police detective, and a woman from victims assistance. I had a full exam done. I only cried once. She was kind. She was patient. She took my time, not hers. Some times when we interact with people who need kindness and patience, we offer them patience on our own time. She did not do this. She gave me time to breathe. She waited until I said okay. I know it’s her job to act this kindly with victims. We could all stand to work this kindly with everyone.

My dear friend waited in the lobby for two hours. Her phone died. She read every pamphlet. She waited on my time. She was kind. She is kind.

Another friend far away shared my assailants picture. He told the story. He checked with me and then told anyone who would listen. Profiles were removed. People were talking, in the best ways. He shared the truth, not the easy parts.

The next day I had a gynecological exam to get checked for my tumorous cysts. The nurse was kind. She talked to me about her own trial. The RN was not kind. She was cold and shaming. I scheduled another appointment for an ultrasound, because the RN didn’t believe me. It was five weeks later.

I stayed open. I kept talking. I asked for help, for company. I was granted this more times than I can explain. Food was brought to my home. Kindness after kindness.

Two weeks later I had a second interview for the same job. I hadn’t slept in four days. I was certain I wouldn’t get it. It was a terrible interview. I was exhausted. I was beaten. I was destroyed.

The next day I received a call from my doctor’s office. It wasn’t just my fears. Other unwanted news came. Nothing uncommon, just unpleasant.

Three weeks went by, and it became a problem for some people. This made me stronger. My survival and my means of survival were problematic for some people. I vowed to become immortal out of spite.

At four weeks, I wanted nothing, but hugs. I also wanted to never be touched. I was watching as people I knew were having pretty serious allegations brought up against them. I was watching and being pulled in. People were contacting me, as if I’m an authority on consequences. The only consequences I understand are my own, the ones I face every day. I watched possible (albeit likely) assailants keep friends, which is a type of affirmation of those actions. While I was losing people for being dramatic, for causing problems.

Do you know why someone talking about rape seems dramatic? I do. Because trauma is dramatic. Because tragedy is drama. Because truth is dramatic.

This only made me louder.
“I wish I could talk my way out of being raped the way rapists talk their way out of trouble.”
“So we’re clear. A rapist hears the word ‘no’ and expects that to mean ‘yes.’ But when accused the rapist is like ‘I didn’t rape her.’ Apparently only his ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

I started to feel more isolated. It was silly. Weeks prior I was surrounded, literally and figuratively. Friends from all over were reaching out to me. Nonetheless, I began to fear I had worn out my welcome on asking for favors. I’m not quick to ask for help, but this time as a means of survival I knew I needed to. Coming up the stairs at home and collapsing to my knees sobbing, I knew I needed help. I had reached out to someone I was told was a therapist. They proved to be a crazy person that would only escalate my issues.

I felt alone. I was not alone. I felt alone. I felt empty. I felt lost. I felt alone.

Loud noises began to affect me. My parents’ dogs barking made me terrified and panicked. Thunder made me panicked. A dear friend brought me earplugs and other kindnesses.

At a show, I wore my “please-don’t-rape-me” jeans that I bought eight weeks ago. I told my friends not to touch me and to make sure no one else did. I did not keep it together. I left in the middle of the show. Broken. I had stayed because I couldn’t be alone, but the music was loud, the voices were loud.

Week five I was fine again. The dogs and I were fine. I could cuddle my dog again.

Creative 30 for 30 started again, and I could force myself to put some of the things in my head to good use. I started baking again. I didn’t start passively baking. I have no one to give baked things to. I started baking to heal. I started baking more than just that one cupcake Kristen Wiig made for herself in Bridesmaids. I started making full pies. I made pies for healing. I recorded recipes. I made the same pie twice. I improved on pie. I improved on pie to improve myself. I taught myself new skills to show myself I can do more. I watched Moana eight times.

I went to my ultrasound. The tech was kind. The tech took my time. She made six marks on the image of my single ovary. She paused. She asked if I wanted children. I turned my face as tears grew in my eyes. I’ve been in pain again for a couple of months. When I finally saw my doctor she explained I had several cysts in my ovary. They ranged in size from 0.5 cm to 1.3 cm. She explained that they would likely dissipate. She explained that in my case they needed to be monitored closely because of my history. She said it was Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It explained so much about my last year. It explained so much. It still scared me so much. It still does. Of course, it does.

I also made it one whole year writing affirmations. It’s not been a full year since I moved them to this platform, but I’d brought myself a full year on the strength of my own mind. I’ve continued. I will continue.

At five weeks I also found out I got that new job. I found out I’d be working in an incredibly life-giving, safe, and affirming space. I could walk to work again. I could pay my bills again. I could be motivated to fight PCOS simply by doing my daily work.

Six weeks/eight weeks later I started my new job. I love my new job. I’ve been doing research on diet options to make PCOS more manageable. I’ve continued to reach out to people. I’ve broken my own heart this week. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve cried on the phone with someone I haven’t heard from since I told them what happened because I felt abandoned. This crying went unnoticed.

In eight weeks my nightmares have come back. In eight weeks several people have taken themselves out of my life because I’ve been too much. In eight weeks I’ve cycled through peace and pain. In eight weeks I’ve screamed and cried. I’ve gone silent. I’ve pushed myself. I’ve been pushed. I’m not healed. I’m not cured. I am still moving. I am healing. I am mending. Pieces of me are coming back together. (please, ignore that Ashley Simpson reference. I can’t take it out now, but I don’t want it there either).

Some times for no provoked reason, I still fill with all manner of sadness and pain. It doesn’t take new provocation. There’s a lasting provocation lodged inside of me. A provocation I can only hope to learn to cope with. It will live beside me. I will be bigger than it. Some days, I’ll get to a place where I will feed it too much. It must be fed. If it’s starved it will get loud and angry. It must be fed and acknowledged. It is my constant companion. It is my monster. It is not me.

Thank you to everyone who has helped carry me over the last two months and over the last 30 years.

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Affirmation 2/7/17

Deep breath. Slow, even breaths. Stretch out. Release your muscles. Sink into the floor. Feel your pain slip off into the carpet. Let your anxiety drip into the fibers. Let it go. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. You are okay.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 8/5/16

Deep breath. Slow, deep, even breaths. Yesterday is done. You’ve already put it to bed. Let go of its problems, its pains. Today is free and yours. You are not yesterday. You are not who you were yesterday. You are not your past. You are not your pains. You are the beautiful, sum of all that is in you, which contains so much more good than you often let yourself accept. Notice your good. There’s so much. It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 8/1/16

Deep breath. Today may be filled with more pain than you were ready for, more stress than you wanted, more heartache than you anticipated. I’m sorry. Know that you are stronger than all of that. You are able to handle it. I’m sorry that you have to, but know that I know you can get through. Take time to remind yourself you can too. I believe in you. You should too.

I’m glad you’re here.

Adventure in Speaking Up

A little over a week ago a friend came over to interview me for his podcast. I can’t deny this was an odd experience. I do not find myself interesting enough to be interviewed by anyone for any reason. In the process he asked me some pretty good and hard questions. Questions about things I haven’t told many people. Things that will be available for anyone to hear starting tomorrow. Because maybe it’s time for me to start talking about it, or at least stop hiding it or feeling like everything about me is a lie because I can’t be honest about this one thing. So tomorrow you can hear it. Tomorrow I have to be okay with knowing that people I love are going to know, and people I barely know are going to know. People who have hurt me are going to know.

If tomorrow you find yourself wanting to hear it, know that you can. Know that it scares the shit out of me, but you can hear it. You can hear it here.

And if you are someone who has to respond to it, to shut me down or give false pity or who has genuine questions, that’s okay too. And I’m going to work on being okay with that. Please, be patient with me. Please, be gracious. And might I just recommend doing that with everyone you meet. It’s a hard world.

For a preview.
https://soundcloud.com/guerrilla-bio/episode-035-hayley-johnson-preview

Unrelated, I went to Chicago this weekend.

I went to the Art Institute when it opened and alone, which meant I got to spend about 20 minutes in a room filled with Van Gogh paintings all by myself. No one was there. Which also means I cried openly in a room alone. I was transfixed. I could not look away from his eyes. The man could have painted himself anyway he wanted to, but he chose to convey every single ounce of pain he had in him. I looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine. And centuries apart we had a moment.hayley 5 hayley 6

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But then I couldn’t stop staring at people’s eyes. Seeking out similar pains. No one carried quite the same sincere hurt.hayley 8hayley 7hayley 15

I kept expecting her to move. She was so flawlessly realistic. I couldn’t handle it.hayley 13hayley 14hayley 16

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Oh, and it was my birthday.
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And my friends are perfect. Far better than I deserve.

Adventure in Lies as Truths

Admittedly this post is spurred on by two things. 1) service this morning and 2) recent messes

Admission number two, I’m a little out of it today, and was therefore, distracted enough in service to probably only really hear this one piece. If I’m honest, but it was a good thing to hear.

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Lately, life has been good. Things have been steady. Both good and bad have been constant. Balanced for the most part.

Summer, as I’ve mentioned before, is the worst for me. I’m trying so hard this year not to let it rattle me or worse kill me (still likely), but still it tears at me. I feel constantly tired and worn. Around 4:30, no matter what, a wave of fatigue washes over me, and I’m left deciding whether the rest of the day is even worth pursuing or if I should just go to bed. I keep living. I don’t sleep when it happens, but it’s only just mid-June There’s still time to collapse altogether.

With this increase in summer, so comes an increase of all of the rest of the bad in me, including the welling up of insecurities and ineptness that has plagued me these last 27 years. It’s manageable the rest of the year, but it always becomes so much worse in the summer. And I let myself fall victim to it. I’m already sad, and sadness is comforting to me, so why not let my brain take over? Why not let me imagination run wild with things I know to be lies? Or things I know I’m supposed to believe are lies? Or things I’m not supposed to believe because they are lies? Obviously, I’m uncertain on what the actual truth of that is or the proper verbiage.

I let former failings creep back into my heart. I let past and present insecurities roll around and around inside my head. And I do start to lose it. I start to lose any drive to leave the apartment, to see people, to speak, to explain myself. I’m so tired of explaining myself. Maybe I’m being a baby for even letting summer affect me as it does. Maybe I just am a little baby. But then. Ya know, that’s probably one of those lies. All of these lies I tell myself. My greatest truth is who I am in Christ, and yet that’s so hard to hold onto. No excuses, it’s simply hard.

What I do know is we’re all lying to each other. All of the time. “I’m fine,” we sigh when we’re plainly not. “Nothing,” we’ll add when we’re asked how someone else can help us. Personally, I always know how specific people can help me, but one of my greatest weaknesses is not being able to ask for help, even when help is offered.

And for those of you keeping the record, Tom Abels spoke in service today, and the one thing he said that truly hit me. A thing I want to scream at people all of the time, but never know how to say it. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” People say it all of the time. Chapter verse that shit. 1 Corinthians 10:13 right? Nothing more than we can handle? Right?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure.”

Want to look again?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure.”

“‘God does not give us more than you can handle.’ That’s true about temptation. Not life. No one can handle life.” -Tom Abels.

Adventure in Losing Myself

Let’s take a minute and just breathe. I need to. Pulse. Breathe. Pulse. Pulse. This one is a heavy one for me. I’m asking you to breathe with me, because I need to do it, and some times things are easier as a team. Okay. Here we go.

When I was younger, I’d some times wake up not being sure where I was. If I slept in the bed a different way than I usually did, I wouldn’t know where I was. Or if it was darker than normal. Or lighter. or too hot. or too cold. Many factors, or no factors, could contribute to my confusion. “I’m in my bed at mom and dad’s. No. Grammy and grandpa’s. no. Nana and papa’s. No. Wait. Am I in a bed?” I mostly kept this information to myself. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing one’s supposed to share, so mostly, I didn’t.

Eventually, I’d figure out where I was, and my mind would settle.

Last year, it happened on a grander scale. I may have written about it. I don’t remember, which would make sense. Last year one day, I needed to go to Walgreens. There’s not a Walgreens in my neighborhood; I’m fully aware of that. I was fully aware then. Nonetheless, I drove in a circle for over half an hour looking for something I knew didn’t exist. I drove and drove. I let Erica know what was going on in my head. It seemed like someone should know, in case I got lost. Which was possible. I knew I was thinking of the Walgreens near my apartment in Indy, but I drove and I drove. Finally, I ended up at a Walmart, because all roads lead there. I wandered and kept Erica apprised of my actions. Then something worse happened. At the time I was still working at yogurt, and I ran into one of my kids from work. I saw her a few times a week. I knew her. I knew I knew her. I stared and stared and couldn’t think of her name or who she was or why I knew her. I only knew that I was supposed to. I followed her around the store, because it’s what you do when you’re at a store and you run into someone you know. I bet. She left, and I made my way home. I think I bought things. I don’t know why I did that. What I needed was at Walgreens.

The year wore on. Alice increased and decreased. Monday Alice was bad. My brain was bad. Then yesterday happened. I woke up and had no idea where I was. Then, I did something stupid, I guess. I listened to the Arnold Schwarzenegger episode of Nerdist Podcast. That’s what I think ultimately broke my brain. Outside of thinking how amazing his goal oriented drive was, my brain also kept thinking it was about 1990. It was not. I assure, yesterday morning it was not 1990. Not 1988. Not 1992. Yesterday morning it was as 2014 as it is now.

I went to work. “It’ll go away,” I kept assuring myself. “It always goes away.” The day went on. “What day is it?” I stood up twice to say something to Justin. Justin my boss from Indy. He no longer works on the other side of my cube wall, because I no longer work for Justin. I slid my chair back at least once to call over to Devin and show him something. Devin doesn’t work in Indy anymore either. We don’t work together. We haven’t for a couple of years. I went to Target with my mom and was convinced I was at my Target in Indy. “I should stop by that Marshall’s on the way home before it’s gone forever.” It is gone forever. Moreover, I don’t have a car, AND driving to Indy to a Marshall’s would be so inconvenient.

I walked home fine, waging my war against the wind. I could see exactly where I was. I knew my exact position on the planet when I got home, and still the feeling grew. I explained what was happening again to Erica and to Rachel and concluded that perhaps a walk would clear my head. Then I instantly changed my mind because I knew I’d get lost. I went to Henry’s. I sat quietly by myself and wrote in my journal to Joel, forcing myself to try to explain it.

A few pages later I wrote thing. (it’s important to remember that Brian is what I call my brain)

“It’s broken. I thought it was just Alice, but this isn’t Alice. Something is wrong with Brian. Something is wrong with Hayley, and Hayley means me.

It won’t rest. It won’t settle. Make it stop. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. It hurts. It genuinely hurts my head. But it also feels like when a limb goes to sleep. All tingles and pain.”

I wrote myself directions home in my journal to Joel. I wrote directions to walk four blocks. i called Jared back. He picked me up.

Eventually I fell asleep, but there’s no knowing when it will happen again.

I only know that when I woke up today, I knew where I was, but wasn’t convinced that I didn’t simply dream an entire horrible Tuesday.

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