Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

You guys, I am so fucking pissed I don’t even know where to start.

As a courtesy, I’m going to say now that this post is about politics and I’m extremely liberal and I also am not looking to debate right here, right now. If bearing witness to my rage is not your cup of tea, then by all means, please stop reading.

While I am not surprised by today’s news, I am beyond angry. Throughout this process (and that’s using an extremely polite word for the fucking power grab of a shit show the past few weeks have been), I’ve been angry with Republicans. They’ve lied about their intentions and they’ve cheated and they have undermined the democratic process. They do not represent the majority of Americans because they have engineered election outcomes. The people (read: not all Republicans are liars and cheaters) who have done those things don’t deserve to have power and don’t deserve my respect, at the very least. At the most, they deserve to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

But. Today, I found myself en fuego with rage at another group. Senate Democrats, but also Democrats in power. Why and how didn’t they fucking stop Barrett’s confirmation?! Why is it that Republicans continue to steal cookies from the cookie jar and never get the fucking time out from Mom? What. in. the. actual. fuck.

You know what this reminds me of? When I worked as a counselor to children who had just recently escaped domestic violence in the home, most often perpetrated by their fathers and endured by their mothers, do you know who the kids were most often angry with? Their mothers. They were angry because their moms couldn’t prevent the violence, couldn’t stop the violence, and often, in their minds, allowed the violence to continue. Other factors played into this: Their moms were a safe place on which to place their anger, and rape culture/violence-against-women-and-children-culture is SO embedded in the fabric of our society that these kids grew up taking it as a matter of fact that dads hurt moms and kids, so why get angry at something that can’t change?

Before I digress too much: if you haven’t figured it out yet, for me, today, the Republicans are the abusive dads and the Democrats are the victims/bystanding moms. And I feel like the powerless kid, watching everything unfold and having to endure the lifelong consequences and trauma. Fucking fuck, Mom. After so many hits to the head, I just want you to metaphorically kick Dad in the balls and TAKE THE POWER BACK.

I’m sick and tired of Dems posting shit to social media about how we need to dig deeper and don’t stop fighting and, of course, vote them out. These words have become profoundly empty in the cycle of violence we have been forced to endure.

You know what?! I do vote. And I march. I’ve done what I can in a rigged, fucked up system to get progressive people in office. I’ve done my part. And now, IT’S YOUR TURN. You know who is supposed to fight for me and my views? YOU. You know who is supposed to represent me in government? YOU! And yet, I don’t feel my values represented. Since this is coming from me, a privileged white woman, I can only imagine how women of color and other minority groups feel.

Don’t you dare tell me to keep fighting, when you’re the ones we collectively elected to do the fucking fighting. I realize that Dad is ultimately the one to blame here, but for fuck’s sake, he has proven time and time again that he can’t be trusted to govern the household with love, dignity, and respect. Kick him out of the goddamn house and start protecting your kids.

It’s for this reason that shows like The Handmaid’s Tale are so popular. The adaptation of June, the handmaid who gives zero fucks, is the personification of our collective rage. What we wouldn’t give to be able to shove the fucking Commander down the stairs, or run over a shithead with a car, because that’s exactly what he deserves and no one else is going to do it.

I don’t condone violence. My point is that my rage, and the collective rage I feel with other likeminded individuals, is so powerful and so intense that it hurts. There is this primal yearning to see those abusing power to feel just as powerless as the progressive masses feel right now.

It’s getting harder to bear all this injustice, especially when I know that the repercussions of today’s events will stretch out far into the future. It’s far from over and I’m so exhausted. I’m angry and scared beyond words can say.

And I’m especially sick and tired of waiting for people in power to do the right things.

Reminders

I wrote the following post several weeks ago, shortly after moving to the Portland area.  I hesitated in posting it, mainly because of the reaction I was afraid it might get.  But after reading Charlotte’s brave post on her blog Momaste about her own depression, I figured I should go ahead and post, too, regardless of what others thought.

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It’s time to get up, Melissa.

…..what?

You need to get up now.

Not yet.  I don’t think I can.

Take off the covers, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit up.

…O-Okay.

Now take some deep breaths.  One thing at a time.

I am doing my best to listen to the voice inside my head.  The good voice.  That voice who can see the other side.  That therapist voice who always knows that things are going to be ok, even when I seriously doubt it.

It’s so hard to take my own advice.  I can’t count how many times I have told clients to try and provide themselves with reminders about how it feels to climb out of a depression, or how it feels after you’ve just left an abusive partner, how it feels when you’re loving life and you actually have hope.

We need those reminders of what hope feels like, and now I am needing them, because depression lies to us.

Let me say that again: depression lies.

Some of my clients remind themselves by journaling.  When they feel themselves slipping, I’ll remind them to go back and read the entries they made when they felt good about themselves.

Some of my clients use artwork they’ve made as reminders.  Others use music.  Or dancing.  It’s about whatever works.

Step one is to get yourself to actually make the reminder.  Step two, which is the harder one, is to get yourself to pull out the reminder when you need it most.

I actually got this idea from one of my very first clients who used this technique naturally.  She recognized that the abuse in her relationship ran in cycles, that her manipulative ex changed his tactics from time to time, and that she needed a reminder as to why she left him, especially when he was beginning to turn the charm back on, or when things got particularly hard on her own.

She knew just how strong her denial could be, and so she knew that she needed a real, tangible reminder.  Something she couldn’t ignore or explain away.  So she cleared out a drawer in her house, and she filled it with things her ex had broken.  Picture frames, phones, even pieces of a dining room chair.  Every time she needed reminding, she would open that drawer and touch all the broken pieces of a life she had left behind.

I used her amazing example with many clients, and right now I’m needing to use it for myself.

Because sometimes I feel like my hope has leaked out of my drawer.

Now I need you to brush your teeth.

I don’t feel like it.

You’ll feel better afterwards.

…will I feel better, ever?

Yes.

How do you know?

Because you’re still listening to me.

~~~

Tell me, what do you use as a reminder of hope?

I’m bringing joy to the picnic

I get the symbolism, the tradition of making new years resolutions, but what I don’t get is why people keep making them since they don’t work.

I’ve observed that the nature of the most common new years resolutions is often to do something that we “should” be doing already anyway: lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, eat better.  The “should” is in quotes because my immediate response to “shoulds” and “have tos” is “who says?!”  The “should” is a value statement that came from somewhere- friends, family, the media, society, etc. -and a person has to believe in a “should” in order for it to have any meaning.  Very arbitrary indeed.

My assumption is that people who make new years resolutions must be resolving to do something that they don’t want to do…otherwise, wouldn’t they have just done it already?  If quitting smoking was something that you really, truly wanted to do, then why would you wait to begin doing it until the first of the year?

I am rejecting this guilt-based form of resolutions!  I support joy-based resolutions!  I am resolving to do things that I like to do, things that bring me JOY!  One thing I started doing already (because why wait?!) and that is to blog.  Check.  The other is to take my picture everyday for at least the year of 2012.  So far so good.  Another is to continue to read. 

In my attempt to pass on the joy I experienced through reading this year, below is my year in book reviews for 2011.  They are listed in the order I read them, and an asterisk (*) means I had read the book before.  Enjoy!


1. *Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut

I had read this in high school and remembered liking it.  I think I am a Bokononist at heart. I just love the close-to-home absurdity of it all! 

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
3. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson

I just tore through these books, and I think they really highlight the year for me, especially since I followed these with the three Swedish and first American movie versions.

5. Enlightened Sexism – Susan Douglas

Awesome non-fiction about how sexism as backlash is more covert in the media now more than ever.  I like books that teach me how to be a more critical consumer of media.

6. Gone – Michael Grant

The Michael Grant Gone series (more below) are young adult books, and even though they start to go a crazy, far-out TV show Lost route, they are still fun, easy, and imaginative reads.  I look forward to the few more in the series he has yet to write.  Basic premise is that in one moment everyone in this town over the age of 15 just disappears…

7. Bossypants – Tina Fey

Tina, I love you, I love you, I love you!  This autobiographical hilarity she calls a book is well worth it.

8. *A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

I read this one as a child and reading it again made me feel like I was 10 again.  Love the power of books.

9. Hunger – Michael Grant
10. Lies – Michael Grant
11. Plague – Michael Grant

These titles really indicate how the plot thickens…

12. *Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling

I think this was at least my third read.  I had to read it before the last movie came out so that I could properly tear the movie apart for inconsistencies.  The end of all things Harry Potter was and still is traumatic for me…

13. *Tales of Beedle the Bard – JK Rowling

To ease the pain of the Harry saga coming to an end, I read this for the second time.  For this reading, I actually read one story out loud each night to the boyman before we went to sleep.  He hadn’t heard them before, and there was something magical about sharing the stories out loud to someone else.

14. The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman

So this book seemed right up my alley.  I was still mourning the loss of Harry, and I figured this whimsical fantasy with a female protagonist would help ease the pain…but it was soooo slow and parts were boring and I struggled to get through it.  I struggled so badly that I gave up hope trying to finish the series.  Maybe someday I’ll try it again.  And maybe I learned the hard way that nothing can ever take the Harry Potter PTSD away.

15. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

This non-fiction first account of a disastrous trip to the top of Everest was the most captivating and anxiety-provoking book of the year for me.  I could not put this down, and I even had dreams about being in mortal peril in the freezing snow and not having enough oxygen.  I recommend this adventure of a book!

16. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

I remember that at this point in the year, I said that I would choose media devoid of abuse and trauma, so I chose what I thought was a charming, old-timey circus fling.  Sigh.  I still enjoyed it, even though there was some domestic violence and animal abuse thrown in there. 

17. A Stolen Life – Jaycee Dugard

At this point I think my curiosity got the better of me and I threw out my rule about choosing books free of abuse.  This book gets me enraged and hopeful at the same time.  Enraged that someone could do horrible things to someone else for SO LONG before getting caught, and hopeful because Jaycee and her girls are so resilient and kind and determined and not broken in any way.

18. The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Phenomenal book, beautifully written.  This book makes me want to visit the south.

19. The Whistleblower – Kathryn Bolkovac and Cari Lynn

Here is another example where I couldn’t help myself.  This is a true story where Kathryn, a cop, was hired to help prevent and police sex trafficking in Bosnia, only her superiors were sabotaging her work and were consumers of the sex trade themselves.  I love a story where women kick ass and not only take names, but take them to court!

20. Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris

I had heard good things about Sedaris, and so I borrowed this book from a friend.  Full of autobiographical stories of David’s family and life growing up.  He has this dry humor I find amusing, although I expected the stories to be more laugh out loud funny.

21. Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

More stories, less autobiographical.  I found that these stories were either hit or miss for me.  One was absolutely hilarious, and the other was so over the top that it missed its mark.

~Here’s to many more happy, fun, exciting reads for 2012!~