The Age-Old Question

No, not does God exist, or is there a higher power in the universe. Nothing about what’s for dinner. I mean this – is it all in my head?

Is this – all of this – in my head?

This illness that they thought was a sinus infection but hasn’t gone away after two different antibiotics – is the pain and discomfort and exhaustion all in my head?

Last year when I had so much pressure in my face and it hurt all the time – was that it my head? (No, that’s migraines.)

My doctor on the phone tonight “I just think this is above my pay grade. You’re complicated.” I’m COMPLICATED.

I had an IUD implanted a few years ago and I felt some twinges in the 4 week resting period. Was it in my head? No. The IUD perforated my uterus and wrapped itself around my appendix.

The terrible back pain – oh it was so bad. One doctor said it wasn’t my back. The next said, of course it wasn’t my back – the MRI clearly showed the issue was my hip. Again, not in my head.

I am sick a lot. I get injured a lot. But overall I’m considered healthy. No identifiable immune issue, allergies, gluten intolerance or otherwise. And right now I am so sick. But still, after all the injuries and illnesses that AWLAYS have an answer, I’m terrified it’s all in my head. I am so afraid I’m making it all up, playing tricks on myself.

Is this all in my head?

But the doctor that calls me complicated will see me tomorrow, and he’ll do what he can do. And if it’s not enough, he’ll find another doctor to do more. He’ll even make sure my insurance covers that new doctor. I’ve been his patient for 17 years. I am lucky to have a doctor that knows me so well and trusts me. Even when I say “but really, I’m starting to think this is all in my head.”

Part 2: #whyIdidntreport

As I begin this post, It’s been less than 24 hours since I published #whyIdidntreport. I’ve had a lot to think about. This evening as I did the dishes, it occurred to me that I missed one.

3. I was 18 and a cocktail waitress. My drink was spiked while I was working. I collapsed on the bathroom floor and received medical attention before my attacker could get to me.

I posted the first #whyIdidntreport to Facebook and Instagram. I made the Facebook post public knowing there would be negative comments. I made it public because I am in a place and time where I can speak and write about the assaults in my life. Not every survivor is. So I speak for myself, and I speak for those that cannot. I speak because we should be heard. We should be believed.

The first comment to the Facebook post was “#WHYIDONTHAVESEXWITHPEOPLEIMNOTMARRIEDTO.”

You read that correctly. I was victim blamed.

This is another reason I’m speaking up about the assaults I’ve experienced. Because there are still people (in this case, a white male, evangelical Christian who happened to marry my cousin) that conflate sex with consent. Several people commented on the post, to point out his errors, to back me up, and to be rightfully angry. I am still enraged. But I am also empowered.

Here is a list of all of the things pointed out to my cousin’s husband that should be repeated:

  • The victim is never at fault
  • A survivors prior or current sexual activity does not have ANY bearing on their assault
  • Marriage does not protect from assault
  • Husbands rape, beat, assault and harass their wives at an alarming rate
  • Sex is not the same as consent
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time
  • Sexual activity before marriage does not have anything to do with assault, harassment or rape
  • The victim is never at fault
  • This is about consent
  • We are never at fault

I am exhausted. But I’m still here and I won’t stop.

#metoo #ibelieveher #believesurvivors #whyIdidntreport

#whyIdidntreport

  1. I was 15 and invited a boy home when my parents were gone for the first time. We started kissing on my bed. He wanted to have sex. I didn’t. He got pushy and I pushed back, sliding out from under him. He left, I called a friend. She didn’t believe me. I called another friend. She wanted to know why he’d do that. They didn’t believe me, why would anyone else?
  2. I was in college and “dating” an older coworker. We worked at a restaurant. We were having sex when he flipped me onto my stomach. I said no, but he penetrated anally anyway. Who would believe me when we were already having sex?

#metoo #Ibelieveher #believesurvivors #whyIdidn’treport

The time I went to Hong Kong

It’s 6:52 a.m. Sunday morning and I’ve been awake since 2:30 a.m. I got back from my first international business trip just before midnight on Friday, which happened to take me to Hong Kong. It is 13 hours ahead in Hong Kong and I can’t begin to describe how tired and awake I am right now. They say time travel doesn’t exist – but I wholeheartedly disagree. When I left Hong on Friday, it was 4:30 p.m. When I landed in Boston, it was 11 p.m. The flights were 17 hours total. See? Time travel. It exists.

But, oh, what a trip. It was so worth the weird semi conscious state I’m in. The work was good, but the time I had to explore the city was phenomenal. Hong Kong truly is where East meets West. The blend of culture, cuisine, architecture and history is like no where else. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. I worked hard to get where I am, but there is no denying the existence in our lives of happenstance, fate, luck, or whatever you call it.

I took a walking tour of Central Hong Kong, ate life changing dim sum, visited a temple, explored Cat Alley, went to the Night Market, took the tram to the top of Victoria Peak and walked down what must have been the least direct way possible, and took the Star Ferry to Kowloon to meander and explore. I’d love to be able to go back some day and spend more time exploring. Maybe with more hard work a little bit of luck, that’ll happen.

Another New Year

2017 was a year. It was hard, frightening, sad, and anxiety inducing, with an undercurrent of love, hope, success and kindness. And here we are, the first day of 2018. Will it be more of the same? Probably. But I’m going to try so very, very hard to bring more attention to the love, hope, success, kindness and even joy in my life. I’ll be trying to do some of that here.

I spent a quiet morning drinking coffee in bed with the whole family – three cats, the dog and my partner. It was just what I needed. I’m heading into a few months of travel for work, and I’m savoring the time I have at home.

I hope you have the time and space to reset for the new year. Here’s to a very Happy New Year, from my strange little family to you and yours.

Watson and bear

Ties

Saw a missing girl post on Facebook 
With ties to Ann Arbor 
Where are your ties? 

What binds you to this earth 
Keeping you from floating 
Away and beyond and farther than we can see 

Is it love 
Is it pain

Or even joy?
But maybe just the school you went to 
In a community you were never a part of

I am tied to this place 
By my hopeless faith in humanity

I think I’ll outlast you all 
And then what 
Tied here to this earth alone 
Because I gave too much credit  
To humans 

The pain of others

How do you carry your pain
All of the slights, jabs, cuts, bruises, broken tissue and bones?
Is it the weight on your shoulders that pulls you forward
Or the drop of your head?
A hesitance to make eye contact.
A resistance to any kindness, a suspicion of all?
Or do you wear it proudly
Bearing it all to show the world you cannot be stopped, cannot be shamed.
I slide my pain into an extra pocket on my heart
Keeping it close so I can pull it out and examine it like the frogs we dissected in school.
Are you there
Do you still hurt?
Is it less or more now that time has passed?
It’s probably the same.
Your edges have begun to fray, an old wound I cannot bury or let fly.
So back you go, nestled close and safe until the next time.