Breaking Radio Silence – My Different Experience

Recently, I said out loud that I had a different experience at the same time as someone else. In the past, I would have immediately tried to walk that back, or downplay it, or worse, spin it until I turned it into a lie instead of told the truth of I’d really done. Now there was no discussion as to why this was and I didn’t push for it but the fact that I said it out loud and didn’t walk it back meant a lot to me. It made me feel like I’m ready yet again to write my book, ‘Breaking Radio Silence’.

Ever since I started this project, I’ve known I have had different experiences from most people, vastly different experiences at times. It’s taken me a long time to accept that and not hate myself for it, or be resentful and hateful towards other people for their experiences that were different than mine. But I want to say this right here and now:

I’m not sharing my experiences as some sort of act of revenge or any bullshit like that. I’m not doing it to shame or guilt-trip anyone who has different experiences from mine. And I’m not doing it to be an attention-seeking martyr. If someone ever tells me that I’m just an attention-seeking martyr, I’ll tell them to fuck off before the ‘ask yourself why’ bit I’m fond of and that’s because the attention-seeking martyr bit is a complete and total lie that is designed just to hurt and silence people. If you have difficulty accepting someone’s experiences are different than your own and you lash out, shut your mouth and ask yourself why you feel that way. Because lashing out or trying to shame or guilt-trip someone or turn the conversation to you and kick the other person’s side to the curb is not right. This happened to me a lot and therefore I was silent more often than not. Not anymore…

All my life I’ve been told I’m different, and the message behind that wasn’t always the best. In fact, I’d say it was pretty shitty at times. I will freely admit here there have been times in my life when I’ve been angry at people and resentful of their experiences that I wanted to experience, too, and yes, I have felt hatred at people who were judgmental and critical of me when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But I know anger, resentment, and hatred are poisons of the mind, heart, and soul, and if you let those poisons seep in deep enough they could kill the things that truly matter: compassion, empathy, and conscience. I have spent a lot of time in the past few years learning to work through dark feelings like anger, hatred, and resentment and instead, embrace compassion, empathy, and conscience. Anger is something I’ll always feel but I know that it has to be controlled and managed.

For a long time, I thought my experiences, no matter if they were different or not, didn’t matter. I had no confidence in my knowledge and because of that, I had no confidence in myself and my abilities. This was horribly taken advantage of eleven years ago this month when I returned to a company I worked for previously and had only been away from for just a little over one year. I knew there had been changes in the year I’d been away, but the basic systems and protocols hadn’t. In training class, I tried to help my classmates who were all totally new to this. One day, my instructor took me aside for a one-on-one meeting and basically raked my ass over the coals and told me to keep my mouth shut. I was shocked, hurt, and I said nothing other than I would do what she told me to, which was just keep my mouth shut. A little while later, one of my classmates asked me why I was so silent in class and not sharing my knowledge to help and I told him I’d been told by our instructor not to do that. I asked him to stay silent about that and I apologized for not being helpful to him.

At that time, like I’d always done before and after that, I felt enormous shame and guilt because I felt like I had done the wrong thing in sharing my knowledge and experience. Even though my intentions were always good ones, to just help people, I’d say eight of ten times it inevitably didn’t go well. Now I realize that people like my instructor, were just very insecure and lacked confidence in themselves and their abilities and had turned into well-meaning (not a good thing) egocentric asshole. s

Now there is a silver-lining to the story I just shared because in 2013 I left that job and my first instructor at the new job was someone I had a good feeling about. But I stayed quiet and kept to myself until she took me aside one day and asked me why I was silent. I told her of my previous experience of being raked over and ripped up by my previous instructor at my previous job and she was floored. The first thing she told me was that she didn’t feel that way at all about me. She did admit that she was a bit worried about me when she saw my resume and experience, that I’d be egocentric but when she saw I wasn’t, she asked me to help her. Later on, she become one of the best managers I ever worked with and though I’ve lost contact with her, if she ever reached out to me for a favor, she’s got one coming. Because of her, a seed was planted inside my mind (though I didn’t realize at the time), that my knowledge and experience mattered, something I’m forever grateful for.

So the takeaway here is this: your experience and knowledge matter even if they’re different from someone else’s, which will always be the case 99.9% of the time. Also, don’t feel anger and resentment towards other people whose experiences were different than yours, like if they were having the time of their lives and you weren’t. Most of all, don’t project your shame or guilt over your experiences to someone else. Deal with that shame and guilt on your own.

Ask Yourself Why

If you’re a regular reader of mine, or if you’re here for the first time, I want to explain why I say this quite often:

Ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, though I will warn you, you might not like the answers you find. And sooner or later you will have to deal with them.

I usually say this when I’m talking about bad human behavior, like people who are cruel, hateful, or insensitive, people who rationalize alienation and ostracization when that’s not needed but simply because they can. I came up with this saying ‘Ask yourself why…’ to stop myself from ranting and raving and saying things I would regret. Because nothing is accomplished from ranting at someone and calling them names and such, even in the heat of anger. I know it sure as hell didn’t work on me other than making me feel like shit about myself when I didn’t do anything wrong.

But I also tell myself ‘ask yourself why…’ a lot, too. In fact, it started with me asking myself why I thought and felt the way I did. I started doing that in order to learn why I thought and felt the way I did in order to learn how to make better decisions in the future. Yes, it’s turned me upside-down and inside-out, but it was worth it. It helps me rein in anger and rage and also control pain and responses that don’t work well.

Most of all, it reminds me and anyone else reading my words that I can’t change anyone’s mind or way of thinking and feeling. Or as I also say, I can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. Yet this also brings me to a thought I’ve been dancing around for some time, one that’s still a bit hard to deal with: I’m not responsible for someone’s reaction to me telling them my experience of a certain time was different from theirs and not a good one at that. That’s not harsh or mean because I am working my ass off not to engage in blaming other people for making me feel bad when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’m working my ass off to understand why I reacted and still react the way I do to things that have been said, or are said now. This is why I tell myself the ‘ask yourself why…’ bit almost on a daily basis.

Another thought that comes into my mind every so often is this: maybe it would have been easier to stay silent, to stay the way I was: agreeable, appeasing, willing to try and ease and just bury my own feelings. But I can’t go back to that, and I don’t want to because being silent and appeasing did not stop people from projecting their own negative feelings onto me or lashing out at me. And this is because I have come to realize and accept I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings past a certain point. I’m responsible for my words and actions, and I’m responsible for taking responsibility for my mistakes and doing everything I can to repair the damage and learn from them. Most of all, I have learned that when I put words onto emotions and give voice to my thoughts then I can work through those thoughts and feelings and heal.

At this point, I’m sure there may be a reader here who wants to ask me: what if someone told me they had a different experience of a time we both lived through and their experience wasn’t a good one? I would say to that person I understand and accept their experience was different from mine and would offer a space for them to talk about it. This is in turn leads to another question I have been wrestling with for quite some time: would I be willing to listen to someone tell me why they lashed out at me and said cruel and hurtful things to me, or tried to alienate me from others and ostracize me for things that weren’t wrong?

When I first heard that question in my mind my answer was no because I didn’t feel like any explanation would change what I went through and have worked through since. But now I understand it would give me insight into why I reacted the way I did and also show me where I made mistakes back then. But I would only listen if someone didn’t speak in the way they did back then, with malice and hatred, or if they tried to gaslight me into questioning or denying the truth of my experience and feelings. Or as I like to put it, if someone has done the work and wants to talk about that then I would listen if given the opportunity. Because I do believe I do believe I have a right to say that something is hurtful or cruel and without truth and to stand on that.

I felt like simply saying out loud my experience was different and not good was a huge break in my silence. Even though I didn’t elaborate on it any further, I didn’t walk it back either. And now I realize I’m ready to talk about it and listen to others talk about their experiences.

In the time of the twelfth Doctor on the television show, ‘Doctor Who’, there was a line that was said many times: “Silence will fall when the question is answered.” (written by Stephen Moffat).

For me, I would say silence is broken when many questions are answered.  

Writing as an Act of Defiance

WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.

This blog entry is prompted by a question I have asked myself a lot over the years:

Why can’t I write when my stress and anxiety levels go up and come up hard?

The answer to this question comes from something I learned very early on about women writers: we’re really good at keeping our writing out of sight and sound from people in our lives.

From Jane Austen hiding her manuscripts under a desk blotter in the sitting room anyone someone came over, to Margaret Mitchell and Danielle Steele writing in their laundry rooms with their typewriters on top of the washing machine, to Nora Roberts and Jackie Collins writing on spiral notebooks in the carpool line waiting to pick up their kids, and to countless romance writers I knew and read about who would get up early or write after everyone had gone to bed… I learned that my writing was something I had to keep out of sight and sound.

Why?

Because women, whether they’re married or single (like me and Jane Austen), take on a lot of responsibilities and the busybody-assholes as I will now refer to them make sure that if it looks like we might be thinking about slacking off on those responsibilities (which we would never have done), they made sure to let us know we were the bad guys for wanting to have some sliver of a life for ourselves. In my twenties when I was a caregiver living at home, I felt like I was under constant scrutiny and that if I stepped out of line enough the shit would have hit the fan.

I’ve written here about how my parents asked me to stay silent in the face of busybody-assholes trying their dead-level best to butt into my life and shit all over me. I understood why they asked me to do that but thinking about that now I feel like they denied me something I should have been able to do, and that was to stand up for myself. I should have been able to tell people who wanted to butt their noses into my life and try and run it for me this:

Back off and deal with your own fucking shit.

Because I feel like people who butt their noses into other people’s lives and try to dictate how other people should live are trying to avoid dealing with their own lives and yes, their own shit. And no, I’m not being a bitch here for saying that even if someone reading this may be feeling more than a little butt-hurt. I say this because I was doing my dead-level best back then like I do now to stay out of everyone’s life and not tell anyone how to live their life. And most of all, I’ve been working my ass off to deal with my own shit as I’m fond of calling it.

No, this is not an attention-grab or any bullshit like that. This is for anyone who has ever felt like they’ve had to hide a part of their lives from everyone around them.

I look back now and feel like if I had kept writing through the worst of the shit-storms I went through in my twenties and thirties, I wouldn’t have had near the amount of shit to work through, and I wouldn’t have had to box up so much crap from back then to deal with now. I look back and think I should have been able to keep writing through all that and if anyone had found out and said something to me I should have had the freedom to tell them to back off. But I was not defiant back then like I am now. Back then I was terrified I’d set off a shit-storm if I pushed back or gave anyone anything they could use against me, and yes that would have included any writing like a journal or diary that I could have used as a therapy source back then.

Prince Harry recently said his family’s motto was always, “Never complain, never explain.” I think that motto is for tons of people and families around the world and yes, I will apply it to my own. Because I’ve been told to my face in the past not to complain, that I had NOTHING to complain about even though in reality I wasn’t complaining so much as trying to explain myself. And that’s what I’m doing now: explaining and not complaining. To me, complaining is running your mouth and expecting people to go along with your high-handed bullshit and if they push back then they’re the bad guys. Explaining is talking things out and trying to find understanding in how you think and feel.

Writing is my way of explaining and trying to find answers to questions about why I think and feel the way I do. I think writing is about finding truth and that’s not a popular thing with some people in this world. Because if your truth doesn’t align perfectly with theirs then that’s when the shit could hit the fan.

To any writer reading this who feels like you can’t write, or shouldn’t write when your stress and anxiety levels skyrocket and things come at you fast and hard: I understand your feelings and it’s okay to have them. But you don’t have to give in to them either. And if there are people in your life who feel like they can dictate when you write or should write or any bullshit like that, feel free to use my rude-and-crude response: back off and go deal with your own fucking shit.

For me, luckily I’m working in a vacuum and that means as of right now I’m not getting any direct communication telling me I’m an asshole, bitch, or that I should just shut the fuck up. And every time I think of this, I hear my father’s voice in my head telling me that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with and to keep doing what I want to do with my life. The old man is right as always and I would do well to listen to him as I think other writers should, too.

Royally Breaking Your Silence

WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.

This morning I watched the interview Prince Harry did with Anderson Cooper on ‘60 Minutes’ this past Sunday (you can watch here You Tube) and my take on what Harry is doing by giving interviews and publishing his memoire is this: he’s breaking his silence. And I am totally with him on this as there were several things he said in the interview that really showed the healing journey he’s been on, a journey I’ve been on along with a lot of other people around the world.

Prince Harry said the Royal Family’s motto has always been, “Never complain, never explain.” I think that’s a motto for a lot of families, and I feel it was something I grew up with. I felt like there was an expectation of me to be very independent and self-sufficient from a very early age and that also meant that I had to pick myself up and keep going. I internalized that people were horrified to see me cry so I tried not to. I tried not to show I was sad and hurt whenever I was because I had not been comforted when I should have been. And that lack of comfort continued on in my life and that does a shit-ton of damage to a person. For Prince Harry it meant he didn’t cry or really talk about his feelings at all and that at times he turned to adrenalin as he said in the interview when he joined the Army and served in Afghanistan in combat. He also talked about how used to drink heavily and that he did use drugs to numb out his feelings. Luckily I never drank or used drugs, but I numbed myself out with silence instead.

Harry was always called ‘the spare’ as in ‘the heir and the spare’, the heir being his older brother Prince William. And a ‘spare’ is like me being a middle female child, which means you’re the outcast in the family simply because you fill a position with a role that others define and you don’t. Growing up like that means you feel like you never really fit in and nothing you do will ever be good enough. It’s a role where you’re expected to just do what you’re told, take responsibility for others, and not step out of line. For the longest time, I felt like the world just didn’t know what to do with me and never would. But now I call bullshit on that because there is NO need at all to treat someone like an outcast simply because of some bullshit things like birth order and expectations that are supposed to go with that.

In the interview Prince Harry talks about his wife Meghan and the horrible treatment she received and that she was accused of ‘changing’ him. Harry then said without a second’s hesitation, “Well of course I changed.” In another interview with Harry, I remember how he told a story about how shortly after he and Meghan began to see each other how he tried to pick an argument with her. She stopped him by going, “Harry, what’s wrong?” He was shocked and surprised by this question and she told him, “This isn’t about me.” She realized he had misdirected anger and unresolved grief from his mother’s death. And I think what was happening also was that he was in a good place with her and therefore his mind went, okay, now you’re ready to deal with the things you locked away all those years ago when your mother died. Harry’s wife Meghan has an extraordinary gift of perception in helping him see that, and it was because of her that he began to deal with his grief and other emotions he’d silenced for so long.

Yet that wasn’t a popular decision. Between that and Megan being an outsider to the Royal Family like Harry despite him being born into the family, things weren’t going to go well for them. I give them a lot of credit for sticking with it as long as they did and for how hard they tried to communicate and make things work. Sadly, in the ’60 Minutes’ interview Harry revealed he is not on speaking terms with his father, King Charles, and his brother Prince William. Harry said how he hoped to mend those relationships but at the same he also said this, “The ball is in their court.”

I will freely admit here I have pulled back from people but in explanation I will say it’s because I took tiny steps long ago to try and make myself available to others and it didn’t go well. In the ’60 Minutes’ interview Harry said he’s told his family that if he and wife did things wrong to just be told what those things were so apologies and amends could be made if possible. But Harry says his family refuses to tell him and I think it’s because maybe he and his wife really didn’t do anything wrong, or they didn’t do things that warranted any of the horrible experiences and words they’ve been subjected to. If I’ve done something wrong, I want to know so I can take full responsibility for it and do whatever I can to make amends. But until those answers on the table, the silence will remain at least on the side of his family, and I will remain in the vacuum I’m in.

Harry has been getting a fair amount of shit in the press, especially in the British press for doing these interviews and for publishing his book. He has said he’s doing this to set the record straight and so that his family can hear his side of the story and in his own words and not shit-filtered through the Press like they choose to communicate. I’m sure he’s been told like I’ve been told in the past to just shut up and keep going, and also to just get over your shit and let it go. But that comes off like being told that your feelings and your experiences don’t mean shit. Wounds don’t disappear and the past isn’t changed or erased just because someone doesn’t want to talk about it or be with someone who’s been hurt. That’s why I think my father used to say, “Sorry doesn’t get it done.” I think an apology is meaningless without an acknowledgement and acceptance of what happened along with the damage it did and what it takes to heal from that damage and pain.

I’m breaking my silence in order to help other people do the same. Because for me, putting words onto feelings and giving voice to unspoken thoughts is what has brought me healing as it has to so many other people. Because when you find the words for your thoughts and feelings, then you learn how to deal with them and heal the wounds. And no, that’s not a popular decision with some people because it changes you and it makes you find your own way in the world. Most of all, you find happiness and peace that other people refuse to work towards in their own lives and that in turn makes them lash out in anger and insensitivity.

Writing like this hasn’t been easy for me since I renewed my commitment to writing here daily about what’s on my mind and going on in my life. But like anything else, the more you do something the better you get at it. Because like Admiral Kirk said in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’: “We learn by doing.”

And I believe we can start learning about ourselves and how to heal by doing the work, and breaking the silence.

Moments of Clarity – Looking Back and Looking Forward

Image by Kanenori from Pixabay

WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.

As we begin a new year, I looked back and asked myself, what I have learned?

The first answer that came to my mind was I’ve learned things about myself with a depth and a clarity I’ve never had before. Over the last eight and a half years since I turned forty in May 2014, I’ve had what I call ‘moments of clarity’. A moment of clarity for me is when a thought comes to my mind with perfect sight and sound. These moments come like the calm after a storm, lifting weights of shame and guilt off of me that I had no business taking on in the first place. And in this past year, they’ve brought healing to me, something I never believed was possible before now.

In the past year, my moments of clarity came to me as I asked questions and found all the answers I could. Then I dealt with those answers no matter how painful they were sometimes.

So here are my key moments of clarity that have come to me over the past year:

From the question, what holds people back more than anything and its answer, other people, came this moment of clarity:

Not every single person is going to like everything I say, write, or do. And I’ve accepted that even as I believe people are free to say or do what they want in response to me. But I’m also just as free to respond to anyone in any way I choose to.

This moment of clarity came from one prior to that:

I’m not responsible for pulling someone’s head out of their ass. That is not my purpose in life nor is it anyone else’s. If a person has their head up their ass, it’s up to them to pull it out.

And that moment of clarity dovetailed into this:

I’m not responsible for appeasing someone’s butthurt feelings if I’m not doing anything wrong, or being cruel, insensitive, thoughtless, or acting without conscience, empathy, or compassion. If I’m not doing something wrong and someone has a problem with that, it’s not mine to deal with.

In the past year I feel like I’ve been living and working in a vacuum. I haven’t had a lot of feedback on what I’ve said or written, and I have wondered if it’s because of the ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe I’ve honed to perfection. If so, then that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with. And again, I’ve accepted that and am now moving forward in my life.

Now before I go any further I want to share something my late father used to tell me a lot:

The vast majority of people in this world are good people. Don’t let the few assholes in this world ruin things for you.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to be everything to everyone and failing miserably because that’s not possible. I’ve spent too much time trying to appease people to try and keep them from hurting me more than they already did. Appeasement and people-pleasing are not possible, and I’ve accepted that. And to anyone who has ever told me that if I live my life on my terms I’ll end up all alone I will say this: no one knows what the future will be for anyone.

All my life I’ve been told I can’t do things before I even attempted to do them by people who said they had my best interests at heart. My father was one of them though he also used to say to me, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The thing was these people were talking from a complete lack of knowledge and experience. Or as I like to say, they were talking out of their asses. And as to why that was doesn’t matter at all and isn’t worth thinking about in any way, shape, or form. Because as I read somewhere recently, if you don’t know something you can learn about it.

And at this point if you’re reading this and your back is coming up and you want to lash out at me and say I’m just out for pity or sympathy, or I’m just trying to be seen as a martyr: ask yourself why you and think and feel this way and keep asking until you find all the answers you can. But I will give you a warning: you might not like all the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them. I don’t say this in order to hurt, just the opposite. I say it in the hope that it will keep someone else from being hurt like I’ve been.

Accepting that I’m not perfect, that I can’t be everything to everyone, that I can’t spend my life appeasing people, and most of all, accepting myself as I am- good, bad, ugly, and anything in between lead to something I never thought was possible: healing.

For me, healing is finally feeling pain easing off. It’s knowing I can learn and grow as a person, and that I can weather the storms of life and inside myself and come out in the light. It’s accepting that good can’t exist without bad, and that pain can’t exist without happiness. The Universe likes balance and when you find that balance then you can truly move forward in your life.

So. for the coming year I will be learning and growing, taking life one day at a time, and working towards my goal of living and working from the road.

And this is one from the road…

Breaking Radio Silence: Pride Is Not Silent

Over this past weekend, some very sad news came that singer-songwriter-actress Irene Cara passed away at the age of sixty-three. My deepest condolences to her family and friends as for many, including myself, she was a beautiful inspiration and an incredibly talented woman we will all remember forever. In 1983 she won an Academy Award for co-writing the song ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling)’ and I’m grateful I found that song again after so many years away from it. Because that song is where the title of today’s blog entry comes from.

In 1983 when the movie ‘Flashdance’ came out, I was nine years old, painfully shy, clumsy as hell, and I just wanted to be left alone. Most of all, I hated Physical Education (PE) class at school more than anything. Because I was fat, clumsy, and shy I did not do well in that class at all. That school year we always did our exercises to the song ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling’)’ and by the end of that school year, I learned how to hate that song because for me it was a reminder of being at the back of the class, picked last for any team, and feeling like a complete and total fuck-up in every way possible. Worst of all, I fought like hell to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself though I didn’t always succeed with that. And for over thirty years after that horrible school year, I would NEVER listen to that song.

But one day in 2018 that all changed. It was thirty-five years later and I was a grown-ass adult creeping into middle-age when one morning in heavy traffic the song came on the radio and I decided to give it a listen (and also because of the traffic I couldn’t take my hands off the wheel for even a second to change the station like I normally did). As I listened to the song for the first time in thirty-five years these lines in the opening verse jumped out at me:

All alone I have cried/Silent tears full of pride

Songwriters: Giorgio Moroder / Irene Cara / Keith Forsey

Flashdance…What A Feeling lyrics © Cloud9, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

When I came home after that morning run, I cued up the song again with my headphones on and when those lyrics came on, I broke down and cried for the first time in so many years. I cried for the little girl I was all those years ago who felt so alone, and for the adult woman I was whose silence was cracking every day and on that day, it broke.

The reason it broke that day is because all my life I’ve heard the reason I don’t ask for help or share my feelings is because I have a shit-ton of pride stuck up my ass. THAT IS NOT TRUE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM! I put that in all-caps because I’ve wanted to scream that out loud for forty years, and because it’s the truth.

Pride is not silent. It can be encased in silence as I have done so since I was very young but an overabundance of pride, which I will call egotistical bullshit, is never silent. It’s not pride that keeps people like me from asking for help or sharing my  thoughts and feelings. It’s fear, fear of being shamed, humiliated, alienated, and hated simply for breaking my silence. I’ve said this before, but I’ll keep saying it until the day I die. Because those silent tears that Ms. Cara sang about all those years ago were tears of fear, fear that if I showed any pride in myself or my abilities that I would be hated, humiliated, and alienated. And that happened more times than I ever want to think about.

The first real crack in my silence happened about four years before this when I turned forty and told myself, “You’re not so bad after all.” I told myself then I wasn’t as much of a fuck-up as I always thought I was. That thought was a tiny kernel of pride coming to life inside me though I didn’t know that at the time. At the time I thought it was just a little affirmation I gave myself, the beginning of learning how to be kind to myself when I hadn’t been.

Pride is not silent. Pride is being kind to yourself. It’s about acknowledging your skills and accomplishments, and giving yourself encouragement to do more in life, and to reach out and try new things. In the past, I would have buried all this in silence, but I won’t anymore.

Pride is not silent.

To Younger Voters (voters under 30)

To all the younger voters this past week, thank you. Thank you for turning out in record numbers and determining the outcome of so many races. Thank you for organizing and standing in line for hours on end to vote. And thank you for pissing off every right-wing Nazi pundit for voting like you did.

As I’ve said before, I think all of you younger voters know exactly how hard life can come at you simply because your first memories in school weren’t learning letters and numbers, but of doing active-shooter drills. You voted against a party (the Republicans) who have made you do these since you can remember. You voted overwhelmingly against a party that has tried to destroy the public education system, ban and burn your books, and make you economic slaves to their greedy capitalist bullshit.

I’m proud of y’all. But I want to put something out here that I’m sure you’ve thought of: will your hope and anger die off and you’ll become the people you hate?

In the past, I would have said that was a strong possibility. Now I will say that’s nowhere near as much of a possibility because I know a lot of you wonder if there will be a habitable planet for you to live on by the time you reach my age. I believe it’s nowhere near a possibility now because younger people are rejecting organized religion, especially neo-Nazi non-Christian evangelism in record numbers. And that many labor union movements in the last couple of years have been founded by young people.

I believe that young people are stronger than ever before. An example of this is the activist group March for Our Lives founded by the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These young people have had numerous death threats against them and their families and have been harassed and threatened by members of Congress (look up the evil bitch-from-Hell Marjorie Taylor Greene to see what she’s done to them). Despite these threats and harassment, these young survivors continue to work for change and to save lives.

I’ve seen young people leverage technology like no other generation before them. Young people migrated from legacy platforms like Facebook and Twitter to Tik Tok and others and have used social media to wreak havoc on the right-wing Nazis hell-bent on turning them into goose-stepping soldiers. Most of all, people under the thirty don’t consume right-wing media in any significant numbers other than your less-than-ten-percent who y’all run off your college campuses when they try to spout their neo-Nazi bullshit to you.

Don’t give up.

And don’t ever go silent.

You’ve all stood up to the loud-mouth raging Nazi lunatics, but I want to remind you that you need to stand up to the well-intentioned hand-wringers as I call them. These are the motherfuckers who will come up to wringing their hands saying they have your best intentions as they try to silence you. I gave in to these people way too much in my life and just have a shit-ton of mental and emotional scars to show for it. I think you’re pretty good at telling these motherfuckers to go to Hell but if you haven’t done so, do that if anyone tries that well-intentioned hand-wringing bullshit on you.

Know that there are more older people on your side than you might realize. A lot of us are breaking our silence like I am, and a fair number are also pulling their heads out of their asses and getting their shit together to join the right side and not be conservative assholes. But younger people have the numbers and that’s what has the right-wing assholes scared shitless and trying to take away all your rights and freedoms like they are now, such as raising the voting age to twenty-one and establishing a right-wing dictatorship simply because they know best.

Believe every single thing these right-wing neo-Nazi motherfuckers talk about doing, whether it’s abolishing Social Security and Medicare, banning books, shutting down the US Department of Education, or anything they talk about. Because like the Nazis of Germany in the 1930’s, they will do what they say if given the opportunity. Don’t give these motherfuckers one opportunity to put any of their plans into motion. They’ve already done enough damage over the last fifty years with gerrymandering and the right-wing media apparatus along with thoroughly corrupting organized religion.

Finally, take care of yourselves. Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. I believe in you, and I care about you along with millions of other older people. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t go silent.

And to quote a book of your generation, ‘The Hunger Games’: “May the odds be forever in your favor.”

Breaking Radio Silence: No Feedback Needed

Recently I read something that really hit me like a lightning bolt (in a good way): it was from Dr. Nicole LePera who is on Facebook and Twitter as The Holistic Psychologist: it was from a Facebook post she did about how to undo ‘Good Girl’ conditioning, and this was the lightning bolt:

“I’m not looking for any feedback right now.” (link to Facebook post here)

This hit me so hard because all my life I have felt like I have been the recipient of so much unsolicited, unwanted, and unnecessary feedback. I’ve had so much of my life, so many of my decisions, and most of all, so many of my failing and short-comings questioned and judged that I felt like nothing I ever did was good enough for anyone. That even my silence wasn’t good enough, nor was striving so hard to be a ‘good girl’ ever good enough for anyone either. And yes, I have asked myself why I’ve been on the receiving end of all this bullshit.

The answer to that question is a bit complicated but I think a lot of it has to do with my late father. When it came to me, my father was divided over how I was to be and live my life. On one hand, he told me I could do anything I put my mind to. Then on the other hand, he told me I couldn’t do this or that because it was too this or that. When it came to me, he had a protective streak that was ten miles wide and fifty miles across, and that made it visible to everyone else around me. And that’s where I think a lot of people got the idea that I needed damn near constant feedback and to be ‘protected’ and held back from doing so many ‘normal’ things. And just the thought of me wanting to do push back against that charged the situation around me to an emotional high it should NEVER have been at.

But here’s the thing: when the shit came down I was left alone to deal with it. I think because I had retreated into silence, into massive appeasement, and into trying to be the ‘good girl’ I thought everybody wanted me to be, I was left alone to deal with my thoughts and feelings. In turn, this silence made me look like a cold, unemotional bitch when I was anything but. This in turn led people to lash out at me when I wasn’t at their fucking beck-and-call, or when I tried to push back  against their selfish shit. And worst of all, all of this isolation and bullshit-spewing was directed at me as ‘feedback’.

Over the last six years I’ve learned one big thing about myself: I don’t like being told what to do by people who haven’t done what I’ve done (or what I do now), or who think they have the right to tell me how to think and feel. If you have knowledge or experience that will help, offer it as such. If you don’t want to deal with someone’s thoughts or feelings, shut the fuck up and walk away. And most of all, don’t EVER think that because someone is closed-off and silent they’re cold and unemotional. People who are cold and unemotional don’t hide that at all- they just spew their bullshit at every opportunity. And I’m not here on this Earth to deal with that kind of shit from anyone.

So from this point forward, if someone does decide to try and offer me some unsolicited and unnecessary feedback I will say this: “I’m not looking for feedback right now.” That’s the polite response and I hope it works. But if it doesn’t I’ll probably resort to just a plain ‘fuck off’ instead.

I’m a middle-aged bitch who has lived on her own for close to twenty years and in those years I haven’t been arrested, assaulted, had my place broken into, or my heart broken so I think I have some pretty good basic life skills. Yes, I’ve lost things along the way but they’re just things. And getting unnecessary feedback about those lost things won’t bring them back nor help me out in any way so I’m not going to let anyone spew that feedback-bullshit to me.

For me, this isn’t so much about setting a boundary. It’s about keeping people off my ass but not through silence like I used to. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to say this in person, but I hope I do. I hope I can find the strength and the courage to stand up to unsolicited and unnecessary feedback once and for all.

And despite what my late father might have thought about me, I don’t need anyone to be over-protective of me. Being over-protective of anyone is wrong and does more damage than anyone realizes. It’s something I’m learning how to deal with and yes, that’ll be a good chunk of the book, too.

Breaking Radio Silence – Lost and Found

Last night I wrote a piece that’s still a work-in-progress about a topic I’ve never been able to write about without it becoming a raging torrent of anger, rage, and profanity. There are multiple reasons why this piece, which is about what I call ‘bad behavior’, came out the way it did and why it has given me a foundation to build on. But the main reasons it came out without the torrent of anger, rage, and gross amounts of profanity is that I have true self-confidence and self-esteem now.

When I started this journey six years ago to sort out my mental and emotional baggage, if you asked me then if I would come out the other side feeling self-confident and not thinking of myself as a worthless piece of shit, I would have told you that wasn’t possible. I would have said my self-confidence and self-esteem were lost along the way, ripped apart and destroyed many years ago and that I would never find either one again inside of me. And I would have said that back then because I used to think I was an asshole-magnet. I honestly thought that if I showed any confidence in myself, if I showed I actually cared about myself and didn’t think I was just piece of shit taking up space where I wasn’t wanted, that people would just come at me and mentally and emotionally kick the living crap out of me.

Now I know I’m not an asshole-magnet. Now I know I’m not a worthless piece of shit just taking up space where I shouldn’t. Now I know I can focus on what I want to do with my life and not give one single shit about what ‘someone’ might think about me. How do I know these things? Simple: so far no one has had the tits or the balls to come at me and tell me otherwise. But if that does happen, which I think is a matter of when and not if, I’ll be ready.

But I don’t let myself think about that last question in the above paragraph very much anymore. If that thought comes into my mind, I kick it right out as hard as I can.

Truly believing that I have self-confidence and good self-esteem has been liberating and healing. I’ve begun to feel like I’m healing from all the garbage and pain I’ve worked through. I’ve worked through the absolutely-wrong idea that my writing is nothing but me calling out bad behavior and not doing anything about it. I am doing something about it by writing because my writing is to show other people they can work though mental and emotional crap and come out the other side. Yes, I believe people can change for the better if they’re willing to do the work. And I’ve done the work, I’ve realized. Now it’s just time to put it all together in written form.

I’ve come to realize my self-confidence and my self-esteem weren’t taken from me, or destroyed but instead, I hid them away in silence. I hid them away to keep people from using them as a weapon against me. I hid them away to try and keep people from telling me I was an egocentric bitch know-it-all for showing any ability to do things or take on responsibility. Putting my self-confidence and self-esteem into silence was a coping mechanism I developed in order to keep going and fulfill my promises and responsibilities. But coping mechanisms eventually fail because they’re not meant for long-term use. And I don’t need to cope, or stay silent anymore, and I will not give in to any demand to stay silent.

Because as I’ve said before, I’m not sharing my story to get even with anyone or as an act of revenge. I’m doing it in order to help people who have been through things like I have and are trying to work through the wounds and heal them. Yes, this does involve talking about things that some people might not be comfortable with, or worse, things that might make people feel guilt and shame when they don’t want to. I’m not responsible for anyone else’s feelings, and I sure as hell am not responsible for pulling someone’s head out of their ass for them.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you have no real self-confidence or self-esteem, you do. Those two things might just be very deep inside yourself in a safe place because you didn’t want to be hurt or have them used against you. But you can take them out and put them in their proper place, and you can deal with people not liking that. You can be calm and respond by telling people to ask themselves why they think and feel the way they do. Or if they try to weaponize your emotional and mental strength against you, you can tell them to ‘fuck off’ and walk away. I used to be scared of either reaction because I’ve always been afraid of burning bridges. But if a bridge is burned simply because I believe in myself and my abilities and I’m doing nothing wrong with them, then that bridge wasn’t mean to survive.

I didn’t think healing was possible, but now I know it is. And now I’m truly ready to tell the story of how I reached that conclusion and belief in myself.

Breaking Radio Silence – The Look of Shame

This will eventually end up in the book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ in longer form but here’s a shorter version.

One of the very first things I learned in life was the meaning of the word ‘ugly’ as it applied to me and it was a bad thing because I was fat and clumsy. When I was eight years old, my spine began to curve but everyone thought I was just slouching and lazy. Five years later, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, curvature of the spine but it was too late for non-surgical correction. So since I was eight years old (give or take), my body has been fat, misshapen, and lumpy. Because of my scoliosis, my physical activity has been limited in addition to me having damaged body parts due to being out of alignment. At this point in my life, I honestly don’t give a shit if someone thinks I’m ugly or if they even tell me because I’ve heard every variation of that and I’m still here. But the wound is there, and it always will be.

In the last six years, one of the things I’ve have learned to do is to reject shame and guilt I had no business feeling or taking on in the first place. It has taken me the past six years to understand the shame and guilt I have carried over the way I look and how to let go of it. One thing that has helped me is a memory I will always treasure:

One of my earliest memories is of my mother looking at me with enormous love in her eyes and a beautiful smile on her face as she said to me, “You are a beautiful girl.” I heard that all my life from her and I know she meant it with every fiber of her being. I remember all the times we went shopping together for clothes and how we always had fun together doing that. Because when it was just the two of us, it was all about having fun with no shame or guilt. That ended when my mother had her mastectomy, the first of many surgeries she would have after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to multiple, horribly-scarring surgeries, first and second-degree radiation burns, chemotherapy treatments, hormonal imbalances that made her gain and lose weight, and hair loss were enormous feelings of shame and guilt over what was happening to her.

And my mother only broke down once with me and cried over it. It was one afternoon when we were alone and she told me how she was so afraid my father might leave her because of her cancer and what was happening to her afterward. All I could do was hold her and comfort her as best as possible. Now that thought never entered my father’s mind though if he had left her my last words to him would have been, “You are dead to me.” But he always tried to comfort her even I did the opposite: I gave her a space to vent, to speak honestly and truthfully, and to say things that would make most people very uncomfortable. I won’t go into any detail past a certain point about those conversations, but I knew how people looked at her, with pity and revulsion, or worse, trying to bullshit their way around the ugly truth she lived with every single day until she died.

In the last decade of my mother’s life, I learned just how terribly she’d been raised. She’d been raised to have no self-confidence, no self-esteem, and worst of all, to believe she was ugly and worthless if she didn’t at least try to conform to some bullshit unattainable beauty standard. My mom spent most of her adult life on a perpetual diet, following exercise fads, and gaining and losing weight. Yet she never, ever forced any of that shit onto me. She always looked at me with love and acceptance, told me I was beautiful, smart, capable, and kind. She gave me the self-confidence and self-esteem she never had despite a lot of assholes in the world trying to take that from me. In her eyes, I always felt like I was good enough, like I was worthy of love and respect. I did my best to try and make her feel that way and I hope she felt that from me.

I would love to tell her I’ve learned to let go of a lot of shame and guilt over how I look and a lot of that is because I remember the way she looked at me. I have made a commitment to do my absolute best to look at people as they are and accept them as they are, and to try and be compassionate and accepting. Now that doesn’t mean I have to take shit from people because people who are mean and cruel, regardless of whether it’s thoughtless or thought out, deserve to be held accountable for the pain they inflict with their cruelty. I know can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. But I can stand up for myself and for others and say this: there is NO shame in how you look. Ever.

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