Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Watching little girls cry.

How do you speak to someone broken by the deepest pain imaginable? What words do you pick to echo across their canyon of wounds? Can you shout over the noise of their waterfalls of grief without sounding like you're yelling? Without deserting them to merely self-comfort through paperboard platitudes, awkward jokes or the abandonment of a change of topic?

These are the questions rattling around my mind as I try to formulate a useful discussion about the treatment of victims of rape as reported in the media lately. If you don't know the recent stories, here is a summary:

Many girls and women (and boys, and sometimes men) are being been raped all over the world. In two cases, some teens and some adults reacted by not just minimizing, nor even merely blaming, but actively threatening and attacking the teenage victims. In response one young girl committed suicide. Another younger girl tried, twice.

It's hard, formidably challenging, to express the depth of injury and pain caused by rape to someone who has not experienced it. Words can't frame the concept easily. This survivor art from Survivorsartfoundation.org does a good job:

Chains, Candyce Brokaw

The Infant, Leslie Kursh

Pauline in the Thorn, Rebecca Lange
If you are a victim of rape, you have probably thought about suicide. Maybe even tried it. Or you may have instead (or also) sought slow-death, like drinking yourself into liver-failure, driving drunk, shooting heroine, licking X tabs from strangers, having unprotected sex with numerous risky partners, eating compulsively into obesity, living on the streets, cutting. 

This may have been because, as soon as the rape was over, part of you immediately knew how bad it was. You knew you were on a long road. You knew your rape wasn't just a physical injury, like a bruise or cut that would quickly fade. It left a mental scar. Somewhere inside of you it created a rip that wouldn't close up. Like a skin tear, left gaping, that easily accumulates infection. 

Even if your conscious mind "left" (via unconsciousness or dissociation) your body knew, recording the attack forever. 

Clinically, rape is a trauma that triggers the animal trauma response in baser parts of the brain than the conscious mind. That trauma response, if prevented from completing (by the continuance of fear, shame or other overwhelming emotions) can lead to post traumatic stress. That stress, that tear, if left untreated over time (especially in children) can become chronic and elaborated into dissociative disorders like DID; anxiety disorders like phobias or OCD; mood disorders like depression, manic depression and rageaholism; and sexual disorders like nymphomania. Rape can severely diminish victims' capacities and quality of life for months, years, sometimes decades after the event. Sometimes for the rest of their lives.

And this is not a subject for debate. The only people questioning whether rape is harm are men who've never been raped. Their musings are about as valid as mine on the demands of dancing at the Bolshoi Ballet. 

A broader problem is society's wonderings about whether rape is really that harmful. Whether the harm done to perpetrators or those accused of perpetration with all this sorrow is, perhaps, not worse. The Onion recently ran a keen spoof video on this. This line of reasoning is, itself, very painful for victims. Victims already know, powerfully, that they alone cannot always protect themselves. When suddenly everyone in the world appears to join a perpetrator's "team," a victim can feel profoundly abandoned, helpless and vulnerable.

So why does this happen? Why do bystanders to rape so often react this way? 

Well, without writing a Wikipedia page on the topic (though it may be too late to avoid that), first (IMO) I think this happens because, ironically, people focus too much on whether harm is done. Let me explain.... If we think the severity of our crimes is dictated by the amount of harm we inflict, then we will think that if our victims haven't experienced too much harm, then our crimes aren't that bad. We don't think about us, the kind of people we are, who we are becoming.

If we stay in this line of thinking, our desire to be innocent, to avoid consequences or to shy from the discomfort of acknowledging horrific crime can naturally propel our logic into its next step.... If we are only as guilty as our victims are harmed, and if their potential lack of harm means we're not guilty, then maybe there's a way to see them as not that harmed. Maybe it really wasn't that bad. And so maybe we're not that bad. In fact, maybe they're the bad ones for telling us we are. 

And then this becomes a cultural thought.... It would be awful if people could be hurt so badly. And if people can be hurt so badly, then that means people can do terrible things. And if people can do terrible things, maybe we can do terrible things, or at least maybe we consented to them, or could have prevented them but didn't. Maybe we could have helped, but failed. But then maybe people aren't really harmed that badly, and so maybe people aren't really capable of inflicting that much harm. And if that is true, then we haven't failed to stop anything, or help anyone who really needed it. Maybe everything's okay. And in fact maybe it's the people who claim things are not okay who are really in the wrong. 

But everything is not okay. And thinking it is okay is how little girls die. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Playing with inspiration.

Monday again right? Crap.

I'm declaring Monday "Brain Candy Monday," or Bracamoday (brah-cah-MOW-day) for short. Welcome to Bracamoday ya'll! Come on in. Curl up into the fetal position on the floor below your desk, or lean your head right on up against your warm, soft monitor, close an eye and sorta-dream of when you can drool-sleep through Duck Dynasty tonight, and cock one ear towards these soft, soothing words of the sleepy-wise.

There's a lot of bad karma and "what in the what?" going on in the word right now, like more school shootings, the antediluvian terribleness of people's inane comments on rape (Trigger warning on that. It will be addressed by CuriCura later.) and whatever the Dionne Warwik this guys is talking about. And there's probably a lot of God-end-the-insanity-or-at-least-help-me-shred-my-pillow-into-a-pile-of-fluff misery going on inside you too. These struggles all must be discussed. They have to be massaged back into joint by loving words and hands, or at least have the sterilizing UV light of Truth shone on them.

But not on Bracamoday. Not when we're all too tired to hit the keys appropitately and are thus one twitchy, over-caffeinated second from that accidental reply-all of morbid workplace doom.

Mondays are for serotonin booster shots and lots of rubber padding. (Because who hasn't texting-walked into a lamppost on their morning commute?) And we have to keep it healthy. No Tijuana Sunrises or binge foods here. We want real joy. The kind that lasts beyond The Tired into motivation.

And this, apparently, is why some brilliant genius poofed up Recitethis. Recitethis is a nifty site allowing you to instantly transmogrify your favorite inspirational quotes into pretty nice looking photocards. (It's like the adorable lovechild of a fortune cookie and Instagram: it has neither its mother's styrofoamy mystery, nor its father's A-lister pride.) I just used it to make this:

What's great about this is that it's an easy but creative way to utilize the chasse-enchufla-free spin step stuffed under the risers of all 12 Step support groups called "the slogans." And you don't have to be a 12 Step program member to appreciate the handiness of ever-present, self-selected reminders of who you want to be, all abridged down to convenient commercial-break size. (They're like your soul's ToDo list.)

And though these can be scrawled on bits of scrap paper and lint-covered Post-its, and scattered across used car front seats and bathroom mirrors, it is kinda important to make these tidy. Here's why:

Our recent post on sacred places elaborates. Basically, beauty is square. It is mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually effecting. This doesn't mean everything needs to look like a Strawberry Shortcake T-shirt. We should just all be getting our daily dose of verbal and visual inspiration.

So what healthier way to tap out the rest of your Bracamoday's wee brain-cell power than with a couple of hours dreaming up endless permutations of this classic:

I'm sure your boss won't mind.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

On how to be a giant.

You know how, in Gulliver's Travels, the Lilliputians greet Gulliver by tying him down to the sandy beach with dozens of threads that crisscross his body and twine off little tufts of his hair? And then they crawl all over him, raid his pockets and jab tiny spears into his nose? Small people are always like that.

Yes we're all small. We all have weaknesses. We're all broken. But some of us can't admit it. Instead we get hard, like little rocks, trying to prove how big, strong, and unbreakable we are. And then weirdly our puffy, overblown bigness warps into a quashing gravity field that actually contracts us down into a more compact smallness.

Our need to be more makes us seem less. 

And this is the sad little truth about pushy, controlling, self-centered, abusive people. 

Just think of the people who've hurt you. And not exclusively those who beat you with a chair leg, used you for sex or told you what a worthless little (expletive-of-the-day) you were (everyday for seventeen years). What about those who smile when your heart breaks, sideline you so they can star and boast they're the "best" and "most" yet say not a word when you succeed. 

They're small. And you can see it. 

Despite that they seem enormous, panoramic in full, HD sinkhole-of-a-nose-pore obscenity, that's only because they're pushing themselves right up into your face. If you can get distance, the mental distance that Windexes your mind's eye, you can see them for what they really are.

They're little people who never grew up, never got big, and can't. So they try to make you feel small. 

And the trick to getting them out of your face? Be like Gulliver. Stand up. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

If a victim cries in the forest.

In heaven there is a pastel air-continent where warm enswaddling blankets, soothing lullaby-like (but not Kenny G-like) music, and soft tear-soothing hands descend automatically around you when you enter. This is where you go when you've been assaulted, and admitted it, only to be disbelieved.

Denial is a cruel thing. Like medieval torture. It can often hurt as much as the assault denied.

Because deniers at least (sometimes) start off really seeming like "good people" with "values." Every time you walk around the darn corner just to buy your toothpaste you get blunderbussed by one of them, wearing a sweater vest and a smile, with Gotye Almighty instructions to forgive and forget. And who hates forgiveness, right? (Cause me, I loathe Ghandi. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Ya'll suck, you, you heroes you.) But when these generally admirable people say, "I don't believe you. That couldn't have happened," it's kinda soul-crushing.

And you know there's actually a soul-crushing process built into your lower cranium? (It's like the opposite of an emotional can-opener):

Step 1) Part of you immediately takes the noble deniers' word and retracts inward to inquisition all your pain, asking, "You got that angry? They said it's not that big a deal. You believed this happened? They said he would never do that. He loves me. What's wrong with you?"

Step 2) At the, "What's wrong with you?" stage, the question becomes a statement. And the statement gouges into your being.

Step 3) Conceding you're wrong, you start remorsefully mentally packing up all your now unacceptable hurt and outrage.

Step 4) You condense all that down with the garbage compactor of your mind into these tight little cubes of shame and fear that are magnetized to your soul for the rest of your life.

Step 5) These slowly accumulate more of themselves over time like stalagmites.

Step 6) You live on the dirty floor and can barely move or breathe.

Luckily, knowledge is power. And freedom. Just ask Frederick Douglas.

You can unclinch yourself from the vice-like grip of disbelief with deep knowledge that denial is a reaction to trauma. Hearing that a husband, son, friend (or, sigh, favorite football player) is a pedophile, wife-beater, car-jacker or terrorist is kind of a traumatic experience (except for the football player part; that's just stupid). Alright it's not like getting hit in the face with a bus, but the spontaneous demolition of (or severe injury to) a primal love can wound anyone as deep as a stab to the kidney. Just take the pitiable, grief-stricken musings of Zubeidat Tsarnaev:

While it's probably bad karma to pry too deep into her mindset (and all charges against her son are still, technically, allegations), her sad story is a good example of a prevalent problem: People will actually fail to believe what hurts too much to believe.

This sucks. But if seen clearly, it reveals that denial is not about your truth. And that's the wonderful truth.

Disbelief does not disprove the crimes denied. Nor shrivel the veracity of accusers. No one really thinks those pressure cookers were shooting red crayons.

While trauma-reaction denial does not cover all the myriad miserable ways that disbelievers let survivors down and kick us around, it does often inspire the most decades-of-therapy-and-maybe-even-a-vodoo-doll-or-two-worthy rejections. Like those from Mom, or Aunt Martha or your little brother.

Even if the entire world claims you're lying (or, at best, have False Memory Syndrome), your truth is your truth. And someone in heaven sees it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trauma Tiger: Part One

One of the most evil phrases ever spoken is, "Just let it go."

This erudite (and helpful!) instruction is often issued pushily by those who've never actually been gripped by the said "it" the letting go of which they propose. These pushers aren't trying to be evil (usually). They just sincerely think their experience of, say, not getting their dream first car, translates easily into your experience of being raped when you were five, or of being barfed on by your black-out drunk mom, or of being beaten with a dictionary for your whorish interest in Party of Five.

"You just have to get over these things," they might say from across the table, while you secretly shred the napkin in your lap into tiny, dismembered threads. And weep inside.

And they don't know that their (however-unintentional) suggestion that you are at least partly at fault for your pain (such suggestions are embedded at the slimy cores of all "let it go" nuggets) spirals you into compulsive fantasies of how you might feasibly get away with hitting this helpful friend in the head with a baseball bat without any baristas noticing, or hours of  scream-crying just to avoid actually acting on the violent urge.

They think their gripe equates your trauma. But it doesn't. And neither does "normie" healing equate trauma recovery.

A normie coping strategy can often be easy peasy, accomplished by saying something like, "Oh well, I guess I should focus on happier things," and followed up with a bit of retail therapy (I love Home Depot as much as the next hipster).

Trauma healing, on the other hand, is typically a scosche more complex, often featuring desperate, strung out struggles to just not geyser out random spasms of unspecified rage at the grocery store, or not shrivel up into black, cavernous hair-cloaks of self-loathing at work.

One of the best books (IMO) ever written on the unique nature of trauma healing is Peter Levine's Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.

In his prologue, he underscores what differentiates trauma from ordinary pains:
"...the body reacts profoundly in trauma. It tenses in readiness, braces in fear, and freezes and collapses in helpless terror. When the mind's protective reaction to overwhelm returns to normal, the body's response is also meant to normalize after the event. When this restorative process is thwarted, the effects of trauma become fixated and the person becomes traumatized."
Notice, he says here twice the body. Not the brain. Not the character. Basically, he's saying trauma is a not a head game. Healing trauma is not a mental decision. Failing to recover or recovering slowly is not a moral failing, or a sign of obstinacy. Trauma can not be disgorged at will.

Even if you've never had a bruise or a scar (though many of us have), trauma is a physical injury, something like a blown circuit breaker, or fried surge protector, or over-heated hard-drive that won't shut down squirreled away in the nooks of your hypothalamus. Healing trauma is thus also a physical process.

So let us return for kicks to the untoward table of "just let it go" despair, and flip things: Your friend feels bad because he or she can't lose weight. Well, what does any sound-minded individual say, but, "Just let it go." 

"What?" your friend asks, looking all askance at your scategorical response.

"What?" you say in reply. "Have more will power. Just let it go."

Yeah. Because will power incinerates fat internally. Just ask Susan Powter.

Assuming that fat can be evaporated at will from the lovely love-handles we all accumulate (because vegan peanut butter brownies are that nom), is as logical and kind as assuming trauma can be processed the same way. If ever anyone suggests to you that you are somehow at fault for not "letting go" hard enough ("squeeze it dammit!" they may scream), know it's not your fault. Know it's a process. A process that, ironically, just has to be let go.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nanobots are cursed.

Craigslist can be an excellent way to clean out your juju.

Have you ever had that moment when you walk into a place (ex., your cube, your bedroom, your parent's house, your car, etc.) and all of a sudden it seems as though a squadron of nicknack shaped nanobots are on a covert spec-op to suffocate you to death? 

"What's wrong?" your mother asks when you come for dinner. Oh nothing, just that lamp from alcoholic aunt Barbara. Just abusive Grampa's old watch. Only that picture of me and (insert name here) who got me drunk and dumped me after sleeping with my best friend. 

"Are you okay?" asks your well-meaning but gossipy cube-mate. No, sure, I'm fine. It's just this pile of papers from that manager who screams at me, this email from the stalker in the copycenter, these running shoes I left here to self-motivate but haven't used in seventeen months (but which still manage to smell). 

"Are you crazy?" you ask yourself when you walk in your front door, and your shoulders tense and you suddenly feel all barfy because your amygdala caught a glimpse of the mug you got on that binge trip to Tijuana eight years ago, or the blanket you used to cuddle in with your ex, or the coffee table you inherited from your pedophiliac uncle. 

Humans create sacred spaces. Usually our sacred spaces are filled with objects. Objects with comforting, inspiring significance. Take this dreamy pic I snagged while creeping some random person's public Pinterest

It's like living here would transform you into this super suave, Bond-ian person, who knows how to surf, and has an epic art collection, and is (still) a voracious bibliophile, and yet somehow makes orange shag carpet look like the most wondrous thing anyone could ever have. 

However, the weekly trauma of Hoarders also proves we're awesome at creating unsacred places. We build swarmy nests cobwebbed with reminders of regret, anger and pain -- Or so clogged that the voluminous passels are injuries all their own (these pictures give me the heebyjeebies).

We have this habit of thinking something like this: "Her feelings will be hurt if I toss that Lisa Frank sweater she gave me in seventh grade," or, "What if he finds out I sold the necklace," or "I bought that car at my high. It doesn't matter what I did with it." 

But it does matter. And it's her business if her feelings are hurt, not yours. And if you're scared of him, why would you keep something he gave you? 

For some reason it's a crazy-high hurtle to surmount, believing you have the right to control and build your own space. To make it someplace that's good to you, and good for you. To believe you're allowed to remove what hurts. 

This is especially hard if you've endured abuse. Because people who push you down make you believe you deserve it. They're just doing what's right. It's wrong of you to say no.

Life will never be painless. But we don't have to say, "Thanks, pain, that's so sweet," and then dust off pain's memento and put it on the mantlepiece. 

We do have the right to cleanse, and create. And it is worth the effort. When the nanobots don't attack, all of a sudden you may feel safe. Maybe even, sacred. 

Note: An awesome, hardly-used lamp and clock set is on sale on Craigslist now!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Climbing out of a dumpster. Tips and tricks.

Sitting on a bed in an inpatient clinic, watching an orange sun set through unbreakable plastic windows, listening to chair-throwing, guard-running, alarm-heralded patient rages through which your heavily sedated roommate sleeps dozily can give one an inflated sense of competence.

You can feel as though you've got it together, if, say, you can read a September 2006 copy of House Beautiful with fervently earnest interest while others around you stumble half-dosed with Zoloft looking for the nearest exit port, and others more weep over the grilled cheeses accidentally served for breakfast. You can think, "Yeah, I've got this mental health thing down."

But you don't really. And you know it, deep down, in the place that still hurts.

It's really scary to admit you're stuck, broken and need help. Especially when you've seen how impotent, shattered and helpless people can be (like, for instance, when they're being strapped to a padded bed because they felt too strongly about the distance of the nearest bathroom). You don't want to be like that, so you don't want to admit there's a part of you that kind of is.

But that's how you get stuck in dumpsters. Let me explain...

You can't climb out of the dumpster you're in if you won't admit you're in it (and, speaking as one who has many a time thrown out my substance-of-choice with zealous, recuperative dispatch only to find myself fifteen minutes later sifting through the drippy, pestilential dregs of said dumper to restore my forsaken Precious, this is truth). And even if you admit you need a way out, you won't get out easily if you refuse to admit you need help (you know, those moments when you think, "Sure, this coat hanger will make a super escape ladder." No, it really, really won't.)

Take this cutsey-poots video making the rounds on the interwebs as an illustration:

Who doesn't love bears, right? And what Gilgameshian ego can withstand the acidic burn of such vociferous cuteness long enough to reject grasping even one little stray bear-hair of wisdom from their awesomely MacGyvery escape? The mama bear sat around all night worrying and hoping they'd escape. And though they caterwauled and rambled around all night in their junk, they couldn't do it alone. Not until someone dropped in a ladder. And they used it. 

What's great about this is that the rescuers here just leave the ladder. They don't dive in and get mauled trying to lift the cubs out. They don't knock the dumpster over with their Dallasey truck, maybe freeing but probably disjointing some wee baby bear parts. And they don't call in Animal Rescue to have everyone tranqued and drug away dreaming of pastrami wrappers. They just drop the ladder. The bears figure the rest out themselves. 

That's what it's like, recovery. You need a ladder. And, often, you need someone to drop one. But then, the rest is up to you. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Infinite brain candy.

So Mondays right? Blech. Who's tired? This one, right here, for sure.

If you're at all like me (and you know you are; don't be frightened), some days suck more than others. You know the days I'm talking about. The ones where you want to curl up like a snail in your shell, shriveling oozily into warm dreams of rotting fruit (that's what snails eat), and hoping that if your fragile, snoozy carapace is crushed by busy life as it trundles over you, at least you'll dream right through it.

That's Mondays for some, I'm guessing.

Life's hard when you're recovering. When you struggle to cope with disease, addiction, trauma, loss and pain, your insides can feel like they're cracking open, all the time, everywhere. The base of your skull can throb like a pulsar. Your trapezius muscles can seem as if they're strangling you to death. And when this break, the brokenness inside you, bleeds out like this, it can take every ounce of will and courage just to breathe spasmodically yet consistently through the shuddering breach.

And you're supposed be someplace at 9 a.m.? With a suit on? And with prepared thoughts, about things no less, things irrelevant to anything seemingly consequent, such as "Where the hockey-puck is my Prozac?" and "Why the fudge-ripple-in-a-can must I jog down the block just to smoke?"

On days like this I cling with desperation to the wisdom of "Infinity." And no this is not some new yogi mantra... though it may already be an old one. This thought-provoking painting by Jerod Kytah is a good illustration:

Infinity, watercolor, by Jerod Kytah
I like this painting because it literally shows what is meant by "the wisdom of infinity" (I like to imagine this echoing in the voice of James Earl Jones). In each of us there is a part in the shadow and a part in the light. One part hurts, really bad. And another is okay, knowing everything will be all right.

Living successfully in recovery requires cycling through these parts. Like walking. One minute you're on your left foot. Next you're on your right. You don't get very far hopping along on one foot only. If you try, you could get numb-footed, half-atrophied and, eventually, bloody-nosed.

The same goes with life. You can't thrive only in the part that's "okay," tight-fistedly rejecting any hint of the more shadowy part (or, at best, assuming the shadowier part can fix itself just fine without any uncomfortable assistance from you). Nor can you thrive only in the dark. Perpetual, purgative catharsis is no good (believe me, I've tried). Just give pulling on flowers a whirl. No matter how well-intentioned your yanking, it aint going to make them bloom.

This is where brain candy comes in (mmm yum for serotonin). We have to wash our faces, do our jobs and meet the world with some semblance of self-sustainability. There's no getting around it, unless we are blessed with a complete, financial support system. On days when our spines crack with grief and woe, our shadowier sides have hard times of this. They need help -- help that does not come in the form of self-harm (a.k.a., insert your addiction of choice here). And what better help is there I ask you than web memes that make you smile?

Buzzfeed has this good one, but it's old. So queue this adorable article I StumbledUpon this morning, listing children's definitions of love. The last is my favorite:

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. 

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. 

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. 

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 

"Nothing, I just helped him cry."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weird gratitude for crazy people.

Note: Since this post was first published, all charges against the suspect in the Ricin letters case were dropped. References to the suspect have hence been revised to refer to whomever, it now appears, may have framed him. Stay un-cray cray people. ~ The Curator 

So horrible things happened this week. And not just the big things we know about.

Boston was bombed. And shot at. And carjacked. And locked down. And bombed again. And shot at again. And then won.

Texas blew up. Someone in Mississippi wants to kill Washington with rancid beans.

And all the while, anyone with a mic or a phone or a Reddit account scrambled to sleuth out the answers and thereby confused the heck out of already enfrenzied masses everywhere. (And everyone with a blog blogs on.)

And yet, things like this happen in slow-motion everyday. Thousands of small tragedies were already happening and went on happening quietly in the background, while we all watched these big ones go down in aghast awe.

Silently, people were murdered. Houses burned down. Family members betrayed one another. They did last month, ten years ago and will tomorrow.

More likely than not, you've suffered a personal tragedy, a shocking loss, a shaming duplicity that wrecked your life. This week may have brought it all back. The events in Boston, Texas and Washington may have reminded you of your nightmares, your grief, your shame. They may have made you feel powerless, worthless, numb, hateful and sent you spinning. Or you may not have cared at all, and that may be a problem all it's own.

How do you react? When something terrible but distant (or, even, innocuous but somehow troubling) stirs up your worst inner pain and fear, what do you do with it? Do you numb out? Do you turn to your favorite addiction, diving into that Snickers or vodka or bong or lover with consoling gusto? Or do you get angry? Scream at the driver in front of you for his or her heartlessly insensitive road-hogging in the midst of national tragedy? Or mock your politicians for blatant corruption inviolable to the most urgent national need? Or blame the Muslims or Republicans in your area for consenting en mass with violence?

Or do you do good with it?

See, what I take away from weeks like this is, weirdly, gratitude. Gratitude, in a way, for those two sad brothers, and some disgruntled Mississippian. Let me explain....

I've known some severely crazy people. Even been one myself. And the crazy people I've known have done some very, very bad things. The kinds of things we could have easily heard about this week on the news.

Often, when these people splayed their harmful crazy before me, as the Tsarnaev brothers and whoever hates Elvis that much did before us all this week, I've felt deep in my bones one strong, reverberating terror: that could be me.

I have the capacity to hurt you. And I've used it. So do you. And so have you. Especially when we've both been kinked up in fear and pain.

We lash out, we humans. We beat each other down and blow each other up because we feel bad and we think that if we can make them hurt as much as we do, we'll feel better. Everything will be all right for us if only the bad people are gone.

But we never feel better. Everything is never all right. And so we lash out again. We keep trying and trying and trying to punish others into taking our pain away.

Until we stop. And often, it's only fear that stops us. Fear we'll end up just like those we hate. Fear we'll end up on the news.

Nothing can ever make up for the terrible losses suffered by so many this week. Nothing can ever put the pieces back exactly where they were before everything blew apart. Those who've lost limbs and loved ones in Boston and Texas are marked forever by evil and tragedy. So how can we honor them? How can we do anything to show that we feel what they've lost?

One way may be to feel gratitude for everyday, every moment, that we chose to be unlike the Tzarnaev's. We can be grateful every time we chose not to do harm with our pain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Welcome. So what.

It must be asked at the start of any new blog, why the H-E-double-hockey-sticks would anyone write another blog? Because there aren't enough already. And they're all so edifying.

Well, to answer that yawningly terrifying question, I will present our purpose... and explain the awkward applicability the royal "we."

CuriCura is short for Curious Curatio. Curious, literally translated, means "eager to know." Curatio is Latin for "healing." Hence the subhead. This means that CuriCura is a blog about awful things. Rape. Addiction. Suicide. Mental disease. Incest. Compulsion. Anorexia. Obesity. Despair. But it also means that CuriCura is a blog about wonderful things. Triumph. Healing. Community. Love. Self-acceptance. Cleansing. Freedom. Innocence. Empowerment. Strength. Courage. Hope.

At it's best, I hope CuriCura will inspire you. If you're stuck. If it's dark where you are. I hope CuriCura will help you find the light that shines on you always. If you're confused, and if you're searching, I hope CuriCura will show you a path forward.

In every post, I will present a piece of useful wisdom gleaned from the experience, bravery, struggle and love of seeking survivors across the web and the world (and maybe, sometimes, this old leather chair) for the purpose of helping you. Topics will range widely, from "How to Respond When the Inpatient Clinic Windows Won't Shatter and Other Anger Management Techniques," to, "No Sally, your Words With Friends opponent does not think you deserve to die. A Self-Esteem Primer," to touch the broadest audience while remaining focused on the goals of seeking survivors of abuse, addiction and disease.

And that's why I presumptuously assert we are a "we." Because this is not a blog about me and the random, intoxicatingly interesting nuggets of grey matter that drop gooily from my brain to hit these keys with loud, resonating thuds. It's about you. It's about what you need. And why you are reading.

Best of all I'll be brief! Yay for seed-starting short attention spans! Now what was I saying?

Oh yes, it's all about you. But enough now about you, let's talk about me.

Who the heck am I and why am I screen-bombing your coffee-break? Well, let's mysteriously dub me The Curator. Picture me lurking in corners wearing a tail-coat and cravat to surreptitiously shift and dust your collectible figurines. That or, consider me the collector, editor and distiller of all the vast, wonderful, healing information there is out there to be had for those of us who seek it.

And why am I doing this now? Well, I've been a seeking survivor for more than fifteen years. I've overcome childhood incest and rape, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorder (non-specific), and  a near-fatal eating disorder. I now live with health, freedom and joy - so much joy, I have plenty to share. Want some? Read on.

Except there's nothing else to read today. Awkward silence.

Except! Please note the helpful Resources and Good Blogs links at the bottom of the page. These lists are are not meant to be comprehensive (and are obviously new, hence, short), but rather highlight those organizations and communities found to be the most commonly helpful. The lists will continually update as needed. (Suggestions welcome!)

So with that, I send you warm love and hope for your healing, until we blog again.

~ The Curator