Too Many

This blog is one that I wish I did not have to write. Honestly. And it hurts me that there even has to be a discussion about it. I came across this article, which I have linked for you below, only a few hours after it was posted. I spent the moments immedately after reading it pacing and trying to make sure I didn’t vomit all over the carpet. Tears stung my eyes, frustration clawed at my heart and I reached out to a friend. I vented and raved about how I was devoting my entire life to a system so broken that I might as well have been born 80 years ago and asked to go to college.

The Guardian Article
She responded with compassion and understanding, having often mirrored my own horror and concern with the climate of our nation. And then I placed the most startlingly real truth I ever could on a screen.

The statistic for college aged (my aged) women and sexual assault is 1 in 5. Keep that in mind.

I said: If I look at the four women I come in contact with most-who are also college aged, whom I know well enough to know their stories- statistically speaking, there should be one of us who has been assaulted. But of this group of five, three have been assaulted. The cursor blinked angrily at me as I stopped and read over those words again and again. Even after I had already sent the message to my friend, I stared at it.


We believe the statistics because they make us feel confident that we know what’s going on in the world. We choose to believe that if we surround ourselves with enough people, the one in danger won’t be us. And yet, what we believe is a lie. The most terrifying lie I think we could believe. Because we want it to be true. We want to believe that we are safe, that human beings don’t have the capacity to be awful people and that awful people would never come in contact with us-because we make good choices. But that’s not quite true at all. 

I look back at that article and my heart weeps. I’ve located some agencies who train people as volunteers for sexual assault cases and I’m looking at which ones might be the right fit for me. I know that I am one person. But so was that girl in the article. And she went to the system which has sworn to serve and protect her, she did everything that she was supposed to and her lawyer did their job as well. But in the end, the system failed her. And as a future lawyer, who one day will be in the same position as her lawyer, I can only hope that I am met with someone who understands that a beverage is not something which is beyond the realistic interpretation of the law. Because at the end of the day, no one asks to be assaulted. No one.

Three of five is far too many. One of five is far too many. No one deserves that fate.

Hindsight

When I was in high school, there happened an event that has stuck with me ever since.

I was the field commander of the high school marching band. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly. I took my job very seriously, regarding each of the band members and color guard as members of my own family, who I would defend to the death (I was very theatrical back then). Anyway, part of my duties was to ensure safe transport of persons and equipment post game. Our instruments were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So I would holler out “Band coming through!” And other things, like “Watch out!” And “Excuse us!”

 

(This is basically my podium/ladder-basically huge)

 The event happened one home game my first year commanding (I was commander for 2 years-the first in school history, I believe). I was VERY passionate about my job, but also very polite and I was trying to get all the band and guard members into the school without damaging anything or anyone. Carrying my “ladder” (it was a platform I conducted from which was more than twice my size and a workout all its own), I was announcing our departure when a group of our school’s football players came up from behind me and yelled “No one gives a shit about you band faggots.” And I do not think there has been a single moment in the history of who I am that I contemplated murder more seriously. I think I could have wafted my ladder at him (and yes, I know exactly who he was) and it would havebeen a blood bath. Thankfully my director saw and heard what had happened and talked me down. If I recall, I had to stay after the game because he was telling me about how some football player wasn’t worth my future. I fumed about it for days.  And when the football player came down to the band room to apologize to the director (but not the rest of us), I saw red once more. If it had been a band member, we would have been crucified! How dare he just get off with some shitty apology! Make him pay, dammit!

  

But this story doesn’t end there. Fast forward to the last day of the year 2015 (so today-6 years later), that same football player and one of his cohorts is playing Call of Duty with my husband. They know who he is, but none of them know who I am, other than his wife. So my husband (who was in the band as well) asked if they remembered that incident, as well as a couple others. And they did. I held no hopes that they might have changed, fully expecting them to make more slurs and laugh about it. My opinion was so low, even after over half a decade of separation that I expected them to be the same low-life people they had been before. And after six years of holding that grudge, I got my apology. 

  

So, there was enough time in 2015 to see to it that I learned one more lesson. I spent a good chunk of time today thinking about the implications of the entire event. How is it that I try so hard to hide the mistakes I made in high school from the me I am now, so that people judge me (and you know they will) based on the person they see before them and not the one from before-but would not extend the same courtesy to someone I barely knew? Why did I expect him and his friends to not change what-so-ever, but to have seen nothing short of a revolution in myself? What did that say about me?

And as I look at the clock, watching time pass by, I have a smile on my face. I cannot condone his actions, but my own are no different. I had originally started this post as a declaration of how we are all pressured into being unique but also conforming. And what I learned was that those are the struggles which have defined my past. I’m going into 2016 with a keen awareness that maybe I need to do more to be a kinder person, to keep less stereotypes, to open my heart to forgiveness and the pursuit of happiness. Because one of the only things that is more liberating than”I love” is “I forgive”.

  

Time may change me, but I can’t change time.

The Part that Slapped Me In The Face

I made my post earlier, about the things that bother me and I’m going to add a little to it,but also record my experience today. I’m going to approach it all as openly as I can. I’m not trying to prove anything, I just want to write today. I admit, the irony is a little astounding, and I will just say that I am human and sometimes I make mistakes.
The Background:I celebrate Christmas because it’s engrained in my head as something I shall always do. I also celebrate Yule, because I enjoy the solstice. I looked at the clock, after trying in earnest to get some homework done. I  switched gears a little to explore housing for next academic year. And I found some potential places which look wonderful. I shared my finds with my husband, we settled on a couple and  began to dig into them a little deeper.

The Emotion:I seldom feel so defeated as when I look at the cost of things. Like, basic necessity, right to life things. It amazes me how much it costs to live, even when you skrimp and save to afford the basics. Not luxury items, just the bare necessities to get by. So I closed my screen and curled up beside my husband and just cried. I cried for myself, for us both, for people out there who also have to make hard decisions each and every day. I felt overwhelmed, broken down and exhausted. He said “at least we have each other.” I couldn’t even make myself smile about that. How sad on my part. I was so overcome by all the things that were hard.

The Reality:I made up my mind that I hated being poor. I hated that we had to choose our level of comfort based on the electric bill. I hated that we had to show up to our parents’ houses without presents for everyone so that we had enough money to buy groceries. I hated that we were given a  1-foot tall tree (by my wonderful parents) that we couldn’t afford to decorate nor could we afford to turn the attached Christmas lights on, because we need every dollar we have. I hated that we are so close to the holiday season and we can’t give our friends anything more than a smile and a text message. I felt so disheartened. So I got on my phone and looked at the Christmas radio station. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas came on and I was offended. How dare music try to force me into a good mood when I had so many complaints? 

 I still have all of those feelings. It makes me sad, and very much so that I cannot afford many of the luxuries that accompany the holiday season. And in the back of my head, there was a little voice that urged me to please, just believe in all the good things, that there are so many who have even less than you. I’m not sure why people use that line. It’s meant to get you to stop whining, but it honestly just makes me feel like a 1. bigger piece of shit and 2. even more upset for them. I just sat, curled into my blankets crying, wondering why it was so painful, why it was so hard to just live.

The Slap:Why couldn’t I have been born without the need to help people live better lives? Then I could work at a meaningless job and make money and have whatever I wanted. Or if I had to help people, why couldn’t I have been born to a wealthy family who could use their resources to further my ability to help, making it possible to first help myself? But you can’t always get what you want. And I know that. It just hurts my feelings that so many people have loads of things that they aren’t thankful for, and I have so little. And it was that thought, that singular thought that halted me.

Why did I feel entitled to anything more than the body I live in? What really are the basic necessities of life? The universal rights of human beings?

The Resolution:And I decided, over a cup of coffee, that it didn’t matter. I cannot let the world bring me down forever with its injustices and unfairness. If I want the world to be a better place, I am exactly where I need to be. Because if I were rich, how could Ipossibly understand the way that “socioeconomically underprivileged” people felt? How could I possibly relate? So in all honesty, yea, I still hate that life isn’t fair. But maybe that’s why I have to experience it. I can’t know how to help if I don’t even understand why the help matters so damn much.

And for the record, I’m making our ornaments out of a cardboard box, with tin foil and markers. Because:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

A Rant, If You Will

I’m almost 23 years old. I work hard to be the best adult I can be. That means some very specific things to me. (This list is in no way complete. It’s just a snapshot.)

1. Paying bills before buying non-essentials

2. Putting others before myself, but never neglecting myself

3. Being responsible

It is this last one that I need to rant about currently.

  
If you say you are going to be somewhere or do something or behave in a certain manner, you had best do it. I know life comes up, but that is only an excuse once or twice. Any more than that and you are WELL aware that you are not capable. For example. I have a really large issue driving and being in a car in general. It’s PTSD from a bad crash a couple years ago. Therefore, I do not volunteer to drive places. And since I moved to the big city, I am forced to either push my comfort zone or be a shut in and ask my kind friends to come to me. I do not say “Oh yes! I would love to drive!” and then back out, because I am aware of my personal limitations. 

Moreover, I am bipolar. I know this, and now so do you. I don’t use it as an excuse, it is simply a part of me. I have periods of time where it is difficult for meto get out of bed, change into anything besides pajamas, or even brush my hair. I also have periods where I sleep half an hour a day and think that a 20 page paper is no sweat. But no matter which of those moments I am in, I force myself to keep up with my general way of life. Going to class, wearing day clothes, doing homework, doing house chores, answering my texts and phone calls. It is difficult, but I do it because I know that I can’t just let my life pass me by. I am the only one who can live it, and there are a great many things on my bucket list that need accomplishing. None of those things will ever be done if I don’t keep pushing myself.

Being responsible means being able to admit when you CANNOT do something just as often as when you CAN. And it bothers me that there are so many “adult aged” individuals that I come in contact with on a daily basis who cannot seem to understand that. I am blessed with the friends who understand what this word means, and for that I am forever thankful. I just wish there were more people who understood the gravity of their actions. I mean, being an adult is no walk in the park, but if you’re going to try walking with the “big boys and girls”, you had darn well have your walking shoes.