It Begins with Me

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We are People

“I am a fat person. I am a person that is fat. I am a woman that is fat. I am more than my weight. I hate my weight. I accept that my husband loves me as I am. I wish I loved me as I am. I am a person. We are all persons. Persons are People. People deserve to be loved. People deserve to be people.”

I’m going to try to do one paragraph at the start of each article that shows my mental state and my train of thought.

One of the pervasive truths about me is that I have struggled with mental health my entire life. When I say my entire life, I mean, my ENTIRE life in memory. As far back as I can go in memory, I struggled with mental health, identifying reality, and feeling safe and secure in ME. My whole life.

I was never protected or cherished. I was also in process of struggling for perfection, not only in my own mind but through outside forces, be that my teachers, my mother, my family, my friends, or just my perception of those things. I grew up knowing that love was conditional and could be lost in a moment’s mistake. I cried myself to sleep half the time and the other half I stared at the darkness until sleep finally took me.

It was not a pleasant childhood.

I was subjected to physical and emotional abuse by family members, primarily my mother. I was sexually mistreated and/or outright violated by childcare providers, my mother’s friends and/or boyfriends/husbands, associated people in my mother’s circle of friends (children of said friends, and their friends, etc.), and trusted members of my own family.

I was mentally unstable as early as three or four years old, and struggled with discerning reality from fantasy as far back as I can remember. I had my first psychotic break around 8 years old and again at 14.

I was raised in a form of Christianity that makes most Christians cringe. There is a cult of personality deep within the right-wing fringe groups of Christian faith, who believe in demons and angels, and the very fiber of their faith casts doubt on what is real and what is pure delusional fantasy. It comes as no real shock that I struggled with reality with that knowledge in hand, but it doesn’t change where it left me by the time I was on my own at 15 years of age.

I did survive, obviously. And threw myself into therapy when I was approaching 30 because I wanted children and I didn’t want to visit on them the nightmare that my childhood was. That choice changed the course of my life is likely why I am still alive today, with children of my own and a relatively stable life to live.

Yes, this entire entry is TMI. But it’s important, I think, to understand where I come from and why I hold some pretty determined opinions about certain things, primarily religion and self worth as well as actualized rights of personhood and where boundaries should be placed to keep that intact.

I have what is called “complex trauma” or, more easily known, PTSD. Realizing this, and facing this, was a long path. Originally my “diagnosis” was long and scary, and I thought of myself as permanently damaged and non-treatable. I came to understand that I am more than my diagnosis and with new information over the last few years, I’ve come to see myself in a completely different light.

https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types/complex-trauma

Now that I understand a little more about myself, things have shifted away from self-hate and self-deprecation to self-love and the struggle to see myself as a perfectly viable PERSON that has a right to survive. I never saw myself that way until I started working in social work and met people as damaged as myself, but less able to navigate – for whatever reason. I came to understand that a few well placed shrinks and some inner dialog had given me tools that other people simply never had.

This in turn, gave me a mission – to help those less fortunate and understand that despite my childhood, there were good things and good responses to bad things that had given me some pretty amazing tools to handle the trauma. That’s not saying I didn’t have and don’t STILL have terrible ways to handle my past, but those ways are all in process and being slowly re-taught.

Part of the formula was, in fact, my own innate intelligence. That was one of the more difficult things to see in the mirror – that I was, actually, very intelligent and learned to land on my feet and run to survive, and this is part of why I am “far saner than I have any right to be” (according to shrinks in the past).

I learned to dissociate and to separate from the trauma happening to me, to try to preserve a core self that was actually a good, healthy, kind person. While on it’s face, dissociation is seen as a bad thing, in truth (to a child’s psyche) it is a healthier way than to shatter or break into non-fixable pieces. Instead, I simply “pretended” it wasn’t happening, or I wasn’t there, in an effort to insulate my tender heart and mind.

Yes, these created their own issues, but they are fixable issues.

Learning to see yourself as a person, a normal, everyday person, is a challenge to the damaged. We’re told by society, our abusers, and even doctors and shrinks (sometimes) that we’re not repairable. Psychiatry, in the past, gave us long-worded diagnosis and shoved meds into our mouths, and told us to accept we were less than other people. We were broken. We were damaged beyond repair.

It took a long time for me to see myself as anything BUT broken.

I am not broken. I am damaged, yes, but damage can be repaired. While it’s true that complex trauma and PTSD are lifelong struggles, that struggle puts you closer to normalcy with every visit to the shrink and every little talk you have with yourself that doesn’t end in self hate. There’s hope.

There was always hope. I just couldn’t see it. And now I can.

This is my point of start. This is where it begins. I (finally) know who I am and what I want. And I’m ready to start the fire.

Jaz

Lyrics:
People like Us – Kelly Clarkson
We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it’s our time now

Hey everybody loses it
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey, yeah I know what you’re going through
Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive
Oh, people like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom

Hey, this is not a funeral
It’s a revolution, after all your tears have turned to rage
Just wait, everything will be okay
Even when you’re feeling like it’s going down in flames

Oh, people like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom

We are all misfits living in a world on fire
You’ve just gotta turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

They can’t do nothing to you, they can’t do nothing to me
This is the life that we choose, this is the life that we bleed
So throw your fists in the air, come out, come out if you dare
Tonight we’re gonna change forever


So much for that….

Well, its 2019. For starters. Ha!

I stopped journaling for a while. The whole year, actually.

My weight leveled off in 2017 and then in 2018 began to slowly climb. I’m back to 300 pounds, despite my best efforts and I’ve honestly given up.

Nothing works. Nothing changes. I hurt all over. I can’t get a doctor to listen to me. This is simply how it’s going to be.

But!

I am still working as a social worker type person, and I love my job. It will be 3 years in November. That’s a record for me, folks. I’ve never worked anywhere for that long.

I am still utilizing the diet that gave me back my life. Which is: no sugar, no grains or seeds, no legumes, no nightshades, and no dairy. Well, there are exceptions. I am allowed jasmine rice and some corn (like corn chips, for instance). I am allowed black beans as long as they are refried only (no idea why it doesn’t bother me). I can have molasses and maple syrup, and small bits of sugar now and then. I eat fried potatoes now and then, but keep it as a treat. I can have cheese as long as it’s aged.

How did I decide this?

Well, after gaining back all the weight I lost, and crying, and raging, and fighting and starving, I faced that I needed to figure things out. So I reined back on what I was eating, and decided that if it doesn’t give my guts fits (or gas) that I’m probably okay. SO that’s where we are now.

I have also decided to work on being an artist, and this is where that will take place. So … buckle up folks! I’m changing the focus of this journal. I have a private journal elsewhere, to put the more darker details of my life. This will be for my not-so-private struggles, for my art (writing, photography), and for my political rants.

More later, Taters!

Jaz

Unrest and Everyday Life

Depending on what media outlet you listen to will influence how you view or understand the growing unrest worldwide. This is simple fact – some media outlets are lying to you without a shred of moral hesitation. It’s not hard to see which ones, if you actually pay attention, but the level of ignorance on this point is astounding to those of us who watch and press for answers without hesitation.

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As you can see, your choices for balanced news are pretty limited. Fox news, CNN, USA Today, and Huffington Post are out, along with most “local” television news stations, as are a host of liberal and conservative sites. However, using the central position more toward the top, you can find yourself news that is both balanced and more likely to check sources before they say a word.

So what’s wrong with using a news station that caters to your existing viewpoint? Well, to put it bluntly, they are lying to you for the sole purpose of gaining your advertising dollars. It really isn’t more complicated than that. However, the deeper question should be, why do you need to ONLY hear the news from the slant that agrees with you? Are you that easily led or discouraged that to digest a counter viewpoint is dangerous to that viewpoint? If so, perhaps you need to do some serious soul-searching as to why you are that gullible in the first place, or that happily delusional and clinging to a viewpoint that isn’t either true, balanced, or fact-checked.

Yes, you are part of the problem.

By perpetuating poorly researched news (or outright lies), you spread disinformation and ignorance. Now, if that’s all right with you then we can stop right there. You and I will never get along or agree. However, if you truly do want to understand the truth of it, then you will take a step back and realize you need to re-prioritize your digesting of news sources that are less than reputable.

Early on in my quest for knowledge, I discarded news that seemed biased and/or plain untruthful. I slowly moved toward news sources such as BBC, Wall Street Journal, NPR, New York Times, and The Guardian. I was rather pleased when they came out as trustworthy and have held that position for some time now. While they often have opinions I disagree with, and sometimes their view of the facts challenges my own, I feel overall they certainly come across as less bias and a lot closer to the actual truth of the matter than say Fox News, CNN, or any of the local networks.

Now, what is bias exactly?

Bias is defined as: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. (google)

I would say that, at this point, I am “bias” against the Tea Party. I find them as a whole to be absolutely disingenuous, thug/bully filled, with little to no regard for the actual truth. That’s my bias, and I struggle with that. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why any thinking person would ally themselves with a bunch of prejudice, hateful people such as snuggle up to that side of things.

It might surprise you (or it may not) to discover that they feel the exact same way about “liberals” (which translates into ANYONE that disagrees with them, regardless to alignment). However, it bears discussion to point out that overwhelmingly, the “facts” they believe with all their heart are -easily- discovered to be falsehoods. Once this is placed in front of me, I cannot accept them or their opinions. In fact, over the last six months, the level of flat out bull-hockey that has passed from their party’s lips has pretty much ruined their credibility for me permanently.

I have no doubt that IS is a terrible group. I also have no doubt that given enough power, the Tea Party would happily be just as bad. Extremists are extremists and if history has taught us anything, if you give an extremist power, they abuse everyone that disagrees with them on any point. It never ends well. For all their rage and rant against “sharia law” (Which they couldn’t identify correctly if you offered them actual cash-on-the-spot) and these “atrocities against women and children,” you would be hard pressed to find a single one that wasn’t 100% for taking away rights from ANYONE that doesn’t agree with them and their warped concept of Christianity and government. They are no different.

So given all this, what do we do? With 1/4 of the country happy about our 45th president, and cheering the changes that strip away our rights, our safety net, our protections, and any concept of free press and free market, how do we get through the day safe and sane?

That’s the harder question, isn’t it?

A long time ago, I was what most would call a moderate conservative. That concept is a misnomer these days, now that the Tea Party has hijacked the Conservative Party. I left the conservatives and went Independent in the 1990s and registered as a Democrat somewhere around 2000. I consider myself a moderate and a progressive, but most would simply call me a liberal. I don’t consider the label a bad thing – but I accept that most people I deal with on a daily basis have no actual idea what a liberal is beyond that they disagree with Fox News.

Today, we are a voting populace divided down the liberal/conservative lines. However, emerging from the black and white mindset are progressives and moderates that align more as an Independent than any one political party. The Tea Party is roughly 40% Democrat and 60% Republican (which boggles, but I digress), and makes up roughly 10% of the voting populace.

For such a small percentage they certainly are LOUD, which gives them a boost in the eyes of the general populace as being stronger in power and voice than they actually are. You combine that with their average age and financial bracket, it places them directly in the most well connected group in the USA. They are more likely to have computers and internet access. They are more likely to take part in online conversations than the average Joe, and they are far more likely to attend local, state, and federal protests, groups, and visibility marches than any other party. This has given the impression they have more power than they do,and has given the general population this idea that they are stronger than they actually are.

Now here’s where things get a bit dicey and may be a bit depressing to hear – so hold on to your hat and I promise I will try to put a more positive spin on things once I get it all out.

Recent polls put 51% of the population of the USA as holding prejudice or anti-black, anti-brown people prejudice.

Yikes.

But that does explain a bit doesn’t it?

Now, given that the ones being asked are likely white, middle income, living in and/or owning their own home/land, and over 50, that number shifts a bit.

The percentage of people around 50 years of age (or older) is somewhere between 25-35% of the population.

That means that 1/4 (a quarter) of the country is at or over 50.

Explains our 45th president, doesn’t it? It also explains that gross 51% racist quantity in our country as well. Polling happens to only hit landlines, and only targets home owners. There are roughly 65% of home owners in our populace.

Of those home owners, 71% are white.

A large bulk of those home owners are over 50. Home ownership is on a decline thanks to the crappy economy and low paying jobs, and it’s not likely to improve unless wages go up (but that’s a whole different rant).

The point of this flash of math is this: If you only ask a certain demographic these questions, you’re going to get skewed results.

So, the long and short of it is, we’re not likely AS prejudice as the numbers would like us to believe BUT it’s safe to say that at least 1/4 to 2/3 of the population struggles with racism and prejudice in their heart.

Why is this important?

Well, first, only 50% of the country actually votes. Our 45th president was elected by less than 1/4 of the country. He didn’t win the popular vote and he only won due to the Electoral College giving more weight to votes in rural areas over votes in the cities. it’s a stupid system and it needs to change, but again, that’s a whole different rant for another day.

Since you are more likely to vote if you own a home, see the above demographics. Again, this explains a lot about how the 45th President got to power.

IF you want to effect a change, you need to vote and you need to get your friends to vote and you need to get your granny to vote and you need to give rides to voting locations and you need to hand out voting registration papers and help people fill them out and take them to the registration area.

YOU need to do this. ALL OF YOU.

YOU need to squawk and fuss and make as much noise as possible. Join marches. Join rallies. Join and be heard.

Why?

Because we have to shout out a loud, rude, and obnoxious populace of voters known as the Tea Party. WE OUTNUMBER THEM about 10:1 (ten to one), and it’s time we remind the country that they are a minority, not a majority.

WE have to stop them from controlling the voice of the senate and house IN EACH STATE as well as the federal level.

Get involved in your local political groups!

How to Get Involved!

More: How to get involved!

http://votesmart.org/

Yep, you heard me right. Get in there with both hands and elbow deep and start working. Nope, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. THE ONLY WAY THIS WORKS IS IF WE GET OUT THERE AND GET INVOLVED!

I’m out there. I’m considering running for office. Let’s get our political process back from the oligarchs and corporations and rich men/women who have no idea what it means to struggle.

I want my country back. Do you?

There you go.

Onward and upward. :)

Jaz

vote

Being Me: This is how it Starts

IMG_4537_sm

I took the picture you see, with all the multicolored string. It’s a self portrait of sorts, stemming from a class I took at Iowa State during my time striving for my Bachelor degree in Design.

If I could be anything I wanted, I’d be an art photographer and a writer.

I turn 50 this year and it feels a bit surreal. I don’t feel 50. Does anyone feel 50? I don’t look 50 and I suppose that’s a good thing. When I was young, I was told I had an “old soul” and a wise mind. I never felt old or wise. I still don’t. I keep wondering when that will kick in.

I have four children, one through adoption and 3 from my body. My oldest was adopted in a previous relationship which ended badly and he wanted nothing to do with our son afterward. He has special needs and requires round-the-clock care. When J came into my life as more than a friend, he accepted my oldest as his and became in every way his father. That was part of what drew me to him, to be honest – I saw in him the most amazing ability to be a dad. And he certainly is.

He gave me three children who are now 14, 12, and 6. My oldest is 22 and will be 23 by year’s end. It truly is strange how time passes quick yet slow, and then you blink and it’s 20 years past. I can remember their first steps, their first laugh, their first true tears. I remember it all and watching them grow up has been both a joy and a terrible pain. As I understand it, that is simply how parenthood goes.

I have been many things in my life. I have done just about every kind of job imaginable in the service industry, spanning food service to administration. I have driven trucks and buses. I have run businesses and I have worked for others. I have handed out tools and I have processed pigs into meat. I am a jack of all trades.

I used to think that was an insult when I was young. Now, it feels like a badge of honor. There’s not much I can’t do or learn to do. I am not afraid of challenges. I have lived without running water and I have left signs of civilization behind to camp and hunt. I was taught to take care of myself: I can hunt, sew, clean, cook, and gather. I know how to make soap and I know how to chop wood. I love technology but can walk away from it and just be. I love to drink and I love to be sober. I have always been of at least two minds about everything. I like myself.

I set out as a young adult to be myself. I had no idea what that meant. In the last 30 years of tears, struggles, and triumphs, and quite a few disastrous failures, I have learned who I am and I have proven to myself that I am stronger, and weaker, than I could ever imagine. I am not going to live forever, despite my young assurances to the contrary. I am flawed. I am imperfect. I am a pain in the ass, but I am me.

I am coming to the realization that if I want to change things, I’m going to have to get out there and do it. It’s a terrifying thought that my opinions and what I am driven to say and do could get me killed, but it’s worse to think my children would be harmed. I’ve been living carefully since they were born, walking that fine line between being involved and being too involved. I need to raise my children.

The other night, one of my sons – the 12 year old – said he was surprised I didn’t attend the women’s march in DC. I told him I wanted to, but it wasn’t something that I could realistically do. He asked me why. I said, we can’t afford it and I can’t leave you guys alone that long – what would your father do? He gave me an odd look and said, “Pretty sure we’d be fine. We do fine in the summer when you travel. Maybe you just don’t really want to go and we’re an easy excuse.”

It gave me pause. Was he right? I suppose on some level, perhaps. I realized that I am sending a message by my inaction and I’m not sure it’s one that I want my children to learn. I suppose I will just have to jump in, and land where I can. I worry that my choices will hurt my children, either from action or inaction. I worry constantly if I am putting them first and being a good mother. I worry often that I put too much on my plate and then fall short of my goals, which puts a strain on our finances and on my husband. He never complains however, and has never fallen short in his support of me, my dreams, goals, and plans.

I’m slowly inching toward the idea of striving for human rights and change within the government, running for office and seeking to get face to face with the people that I have spent half my life angry at. I have no money and I am not a professional anything – can I run for office and do any good whatsoever? These are the questions that plague my mind late at night.

In the end, I suspect I will simply be laying the groundwork for my children to strive forward into the fight. There is pride in knowing I am raising good, decent, strong men for the next generation. I teach them patience and compassion. I enforce the idea that they are people and I don’t have a right to destroy their ability to choose, whether or not I agree with them. I feel strongly that these young men I am raising will one day rattle the status quo and challenge the world.

For now, that’s where I am and where I start my fight. We shall see where it goes from here.

Jaz

 

Resolute

Resolute

Rising over 1,500 feet above the desert floor stands the magnificent Shiprock. Shiprock is the most famous landmark in the Four Corners Region of New Mexico. Located on the Navajo Nation, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion and mythology. Locally known as “Tsé Bitʼaʼí” (rock with wings), the rock is mentioned in many Navajo legends. The amazing beauty of this place has brought many film and television productions out to New Mexico to use Shiprock as their backdrop. (Exclusive Limited Edition of Two Hundred and Fifty)

We live in dangerous times for those outside of the “normal.”

Yesterday, I removed all my bumper stickers. Today, I pull down my journal posts and start, once more, anew.

Last night I had a long, passionate, heart-wrenching conversation with three friends, all conservative and all telling me that I have nothing to worry about.

They are all straight. They are all white. They are all male. And they are all mainstream and safe. I tried, I really did, to explain the fear and the reaction to that fear but it fell on deaf ears.

Is the answer to retreat and hide? Probably not. But, I have children and must consider their safety before I place myself into the path of the storm. It isn’t fair to them, and it isn’t safe.

We shall soon see if these worries are justified, or if the people will rise up and fight back in ways that I do not have the luxury to do.

Be resolute, but be safe. I am a safe place for any who need it. I blend in. I can camouflage and that has already begun. I am one of the lucky ones. I was raised Christian and I know the bible and the language. I was born speaking English and my skin is pale – as a white person I am safe in that herd as long as they do not look too closely beyond the carefully laid illusion over who I am.

I lived in the closet for long time and I gave myself a day of mourning and rage but today is a new day. The closet will keep my kids safe, so that casual passersby do not see me as threatening, or challenging. I will remain in the background, fighting quietly, until this storm is upon us.

And it is coming. I just hope it is not too late.

Jaz

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