19 January 2007

why i speak out

i think that we all have our reasons when we do, why we do. sometimes, we've just had enough. sometimes, getting it out is only way to keep ourselves from turning back on ourselves. and sometimes, you've learned the hard way what silence can do - not just to self, but to others. there are two kinds of people in the world - those that will say nothing and hope that someone says it for them, or those who speak at every opportunity when they see that something is amiss. ok. three. there are also those that want to speak, but are afraid. ok. maybe four - those who don't even know what to say...

i want to preface what follows with this - whatever has happened up to this point in my life has made me who i'am today. so be it. you may feel inclined to say that you're sorry - but that isn't what this is about. this is more about taking that and doing something in the name of human evolution and change. for each other. as ani difranco says, "this world owes me nothing. we owe each other the world."

i want to talk about fear and silence and lies. the deafening kind of silence that can destroy you. the fear that others instill in us. the lies that keep it all going...

“People are so isolated, and so alone, and so suspicious, and so competitive with each other, and so sure that they are about to be conned by their neighbor, or by their mother, or by their sister, or their grandmother. What's the use of having fifty percent of the world's wealth, or whatever it is that you have, if you're going to live this pathetic, terrified life?” ~arundhati roy

there is something wrong with YOU if you experience any of the following things, in no particular order.

fear. anxiety. depression. happiness. yes, even happiness. i've lost count at the number of times that someone asked with a sneer, "what're you so happy about? i want some of what you're on!" yes, somehow, i manage, in the face of all the horribleness to achieve a level of happiness. and i laugh. a lot.

i took an online quiz the other day, just for kicks, knowing that i would have whatever dis-order the drug company who sponsored the quiz was making a drug that could cure me.

do i ever feel sad? do i often cry? do i sometimes have a lot of energy and then sometimes do i not?


uh, yeah, i do! there's a WAR going on, for crissakes - one that is KILLING a whole lot of people and destroying a country or two for no good reason. there is talk of more invasions into other countries, which will result in even more blood spilling. the founding document of my country is being shredded. people all over the world are hungry, though there is enough food for all. AND there are all of these faceless, nameless people out there that want to kill me because i'm an american. or destroy me because i'm a woman. some are foreigners, some are here. whatever. i could go on, but you know already.

there was even an option for me to print my results out and take a copy to my doctor for proper diagnosing.


all i could think was, of course i feel a mixture of these things regularly. because i'am alive. because i'm living in a country that uses fear as tool on many, many levels - a contrived fear that in and of itself creates depression and anxiety AND combines it with doublespeak - hey! you are different and special! BUT in order to live a relatively peaceful existence, you are to conform and look exactly like everyone else, say what everyone else says, talk about television shows ONLY - or, at very least, aspire to be this ideal. because all of things that we should never do to harm one another are said to be bad and illegal, yet nothing is ever really done to stop those things from happening in the first place.

turn on the t.v. and quickly flip through the channels- you'll see what i mean...

is something that i became intimately acquainted with at the age of 4 when my innocence went for a long walk and never came back. he was an old man. someone that was trusted. mommy always felt bad that daddy didn't have anything to do with us, and thought that this male presence in my life would be good for me. he was a caretaker for the property we lived on and rented. the three times that i went with him to Feed The Animals And Look At The Garden would indelibly change me. he told me if i ever told, that he would hurt my mommy - that it was a secret. do you know how to keep secrets?

the day my mommy accidentally drove a sickle into her leg while ridding our yard of weeds - the day that there was blood EVERYWHERE - in the kitchen by the phone that was left dangling after mommy called for help, making a sticky red trail into the the bathroom tub that seemed to be covered, mommy's flip flop shoe that had to be thrown away when we got home form the hospital... i thought that she had found out the secret somehow and now she was hurt because of me...

the fourth time He came to take me to play, i told mommy no, that he scared me - and i ran and hid under my bed. he never came back. when mommy would ask, i'd say i didn't like him. i never told the secret. she never knew.

that's when i started grinding my teeth in the night when i'd sleep. and sleepwalking. and feeling very anxious and sad. and having horrible nightmares that lasted into my twenties. i felt this way - intensely - for years. 19 of them, to be exact.


i carried this secret with me, wrapped away like the dirtiest thing i could ever imagine until i just couldn't anymore. the year that i was voted class clown in high school, i was driving home each day thinking of the easiest way to end it all - suicide. a semi-truck in the other lane would find me considering just turning the steering wheel a few inches to the left. it would be over like that. i began drinking heavily on the weekends.

fear and self-destruction.

i was all over the place in my head, and no one had any idea. i would cry for hours and then laugh for just as many. it was chalked up, i suppose, to being a teenager.

then my rape. a frat boy that repeatedly told me we wouldn't do anything that i didn't want to do though my repeated saying of no. he didn't stop. and the moment that i realized he wasn't going to, i froze. i left my body and watched it happen from the corner of the room. then i ran again, this time hiding in my car, after he got up and left the room.

i can talk about these things now openly because of the many many brave others who came before me to speak up. one such person is an inspiration to me today. sicily sue has written at great length about her own experiences. her latest post is here. she is still fighting, still feeling, still speaking her truth, no matter how horrible it gets.

but i digress...

whatever i had thought i was holding together shattered instantaneously after i was raped. i knew i needed help. had it been all the rage to hand me a bunch of meds back then, i'm sure i would've qualified given the criteria that exists today. but it wasn't, at least not with my therapist. he was amazing. when our time together came to an, it was when i left for college - only to find that much of what he had helped me through still wasn't put to rest.

on my own for the first time, my self-destructiveness did creep back in. so did fear. so did anxiety. so did depression. working in restaurants didn't help with the cash i had on hand. i drank to erase it all, to forget. i drank every night that i wasn't working to the point of passing out. i did this for years. after taking a horrible tumble down some bar stairs and messing my arm up but good, i decided that i needed to stop drinking. i did. a whole lot of things fell into place around that time. synchronicities. i realized that i needed to re-channel this negative energy into something positive before it destroyed me. to focus it where it belonged and to stop blaming/beating up myself for what others had so viciously done to me. i became active. i began to piece together, as best as i could, where exactly this all was coming from. and while i feel those emotions still, fear/anxiety - they aren't even near as intense as they once were.

i'm telling you all of this because i seem to be surrounded by people that think all of this deviant behavior on the part of the culture, society and government at large is normal - a reality that must just be lived with. and today, if you can't take it, if you begin to exhibit symptoms (a body and psyche's way of telling you that something is WRONG), there are pills for that.

i defy that.

and this administration's brand of fear pales in comparison to what i have known and lived with.

don't get me wrong - there are very real reasons to be afraid. they just typically aren't the threats that we're told about. there are also very real reasons to feel anxious and depressed. they surround us. the problem is this for me - that by only medicating - here comes the broken record - the emphasis is removed from those creating the problems we face and only focuses on the end result that really isn't even a lasting solution. it sends a messed up message that the trouble lies in us. for me - no amount of pills will ever change what is inherently wrong in a culture in which sexual abuse and rape are still allowed to happen, where the use of force is smiled upon. where violence reigns supreme. the pills may actually do more harm in numbing one to the point of inaction - not to mention that no one has any idea how the chemicals will affect anyone long term. but the bottom line is this - nothing can make right the act of killing to show that killing is wrong. there is nothing noble about bombing a country simply because they've bombed you. we should be far past the days where weaponry and force and violence are used as means to settle international and personal disputes.

meanwhile, there simply are too many of us carrying pain in this culture, paying penance for the misdeeds of others.

and i'm back to fear.

in the past 6 months, things have been awfully strange 'round here. our neighbor awoke at 3 a.m. to find a random man standing in his kitchen. he ran out when the dog came after him. they said he was some "homeless" guy. how they know that, i'm not sure. maybe he was just looking for warmth? for food? maybe he was there to cause the resident bodily harm. who knows?

this summer, there was a prowler making his way around our house, trying to gain entrance into our back yard on several occasions. same deal, who really knows what he was up to?

the businesses up the street have also been targeted in the way of hold-ups and late night break-ins.

while taking walks with bebe, i have been cat-called and verbally assaulted on more than one occasion by a group of men that come to get a meal at the church across the street. they wait out on the front steps until it's serving time.

it doesn't take much to reawaken old wounds and fears and i feel far more vulnerable with a little one at my side. my heart starts racing. and then i immediately think, "hey! this is my street too! this is crap that i should ever feel this way in or near my home!"

so lets just assume that all these men were/are up to 'no good'. perhaps instead of hand-wringing, we could instead address, truly address these issues of homelessness and poverty that are spurring these acts. the old ways aren't working and nothing is being done to help get to the root of why these things happen.

on a larger scale, i think we all know that something is horribly wrong, on every level of our existence. people are suffering and being exploited - the same people that make our clothing, that pick our food, that enable us to live these incredibly wasteful lives, compared to the rest of the world. they are suffering. the planet is suffering. every last one of it's inhabitants are suffering. and the ironic thing is that a good many of us are suffering in turn. then you add war into the equation and the idea that leaders are sending people off to die for the most bogus of reasons...

if one doesn't feeling the strain from time to time, perhaps even daily, then something is wrong.

the kicker is - it doesn't have to be this way, yet we go on and chalk it up to reality. but is it? is it really?

it doesn't have to be this way.


so i speak out and i always speak my mind, for better or for worse. here, there, everywhere. i can only hope that it makes a positive difference...

i speak for that little girl inside of me that couldn't. that wouldn't. because i can. and i will. i believe in freedom. with every inch of me. i won't ever be feared into silence again. i simply can't take the chance that silence could destroy me...

the state can’t give you free speech, and the state can’t take it away. you’re born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. the degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free” - utah phillips

the target market of those with ability to create change is too busy collecting each new edition of girls gone wild and believing that someday those that control the wealth will part with their money and they'll get a big chunk. they may even believe that the american dream isn't a myth. whatever. this is what they do instead of actively participating in this so-called democracy and using their voices. perhaps it is fear that keeps them self-medicating with everything but the issues we're faced with. perhaps they even believe the lie. but our voices are one of the few things that we have. they are ours alone. and often times silence can and will destroy. history has shown us that it can even kill.

i clipped this out of the newspaper many years ago, as it immediately struck me as one of the most powerful things that i had ever read. it is still taped to my computer, all torn, ratty, and yellowed. i can't throw it away. i found it before i began to use my voice. it has been with me a very long time...

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Martin Niemöller

trying my hardest not to throw stones and failing at this time,

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