I Was Brainwashed Once.

I have a rant. You can say what you want, but please, for the love of all things, stop judging.

This rant has been building in me for years. I hope you’re ready.

I have a dog. He has a big head, large muscles, and he is very sensitive. He knows when you don’t like him. He knows when people are sad, mad, happy, and all our other mix of emotions. He will gladly lick your face, clean the inside of your ears, and sniff your feet. He cuddles. He leans on you and uses your body as a recliner. He wants to be with you at all times. When he can’t, he patiently waits for your arrival.

He scared me at first. I was unsure. I was worried that he would turn vicious. I was brainwashed.

Before my dog, I was a volunteer at a humane society. I was one of their dog trainers. They saw a large number of dogs. Some dogs could be saved, some could not. I’ve seen all types of dogs. When I walked into his cage, I was nervous. He came from a bad past.

He sat in the corner and watched as I entered his space. I didn’t make eye contact. I came in, locked the cage, and took a seat on the cold floor. I sat against the cage wall. I sat away from him. I was nervous.

He walked over slowly. He was sniffing. I kept my eyes directly ahead. When he was close, he stopped, then he sat. I always kept a stash of delicious treats in my hand and a training device in the other. When his butt hit the floor, I clicked my device and put a treat next to his paw. I stayed looking ahead. He stayed focused on me. This routine kept until the treats were gone.

I was still nervous. What if all the news reals were true? What if he snapped and went for my throat? What if his jaw locked and I couldn’t break free? The “what ifs” flooded my brain.

His tail wagged so hard it thumped on the concrete. He was staring at me, waiting for my next move.

During his life, humans beat him, shocked him, left him out in the Florida heat, and tied heavy chains around his neck. If there are any “what ifs”, it should be coming from the dog.

He should be wondering if I am going to beat him, shock him, or make him fight for his life. He’s the one who should be nervous.

Instead, he wags his tail. He takes the treats. He waits for me. He watches my behavior. He trusts me. He is still hopeful. He has so much love that he can’t help but be happy even though I might be the next human that does him harm.

I hold out my hand. He leans forward, sniffs, and licks my skin. His tongue can’t help it so he licks my arm. His tail wags harder and he licks my face. I give him a gentle pat and before you know it, we are playing, cuddling, and loving with all our hearts.

It was in that moment my closed, brainwashed heart became bigger. I fell in love with a breed that is hated for how they look. They are hated for their sheer power. They are hated and they are feared. When a human is scared, it is the most scariest place to be.

I love my dog. When I first saw his face, I knew he would be great. However, the media is a powerful thing. My nerves took over, once again. I knew my new love would become big. I knew he would become my greatest protector. I knew his strength would make others and even me stand on edge.

He tested me.

He is two now. He loves, he plays, and he shows people he isn’t what the media says. He isn’t what the scared human creates. He is just a dog.

I saw him change a mind today. He changes minds all the time, but something struck me with this lady.

I come out of my car. She is standing on my steps that lead to my home. She is nervous. I see me standing there, opening a cage, and not knowing if I would leave.

He approached. She asked if he was vicious because “he looks vicious”. I calmly said no. He’s a lover. He licked her hand gently, as if he knew he should. “Here, let me lick your hand so you can know I’m not mean, I just look that way”.

She smiled and giggled.

A wet nose and a soft tongue can make the worst cynic smile. She followed me into my home and while we talked, my dog sat and waited. She commented on how good he was and I said, they all are. We just have to give them a chance.

My rant is fueled by my own previous bias. My rant is fueled by a public who knows only what they read and what they hear. My rant is fueled by all the abused dogs who only want to love. They only want to be friends. They only want to teach us to love the same; without bias.

A large head, large muscles, and a strong will mean only one thing to me now – a dog with a heart large enough to change a brainwashed mind.

I own a pit bull. He owns my heart.

This is Einstien.

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A Little Taste 

When I have time, I write small portions of a book taking space in my head. It is in first person and it is meant to look like an authors account of true events, or rather my life story. When I put it all together, it will be about a woman who struggles to cope with mental illness in a world that constantly judges. She copes in other ways too, but that’s the voices talking.

Enjoy.

When I was young, I would question my existence. I would ponder the meaning of why. Why did we bother to do anything if we were just going to die in the end? What was the point? Why try?
I managed to press through the thoughts. I sought out other ideas, hobbies, and allowed myself to live a little.
Once in a while, the thoughts come back.

When I was younger, I wasn’t aware of the state I put myself in when questioning why I bother to live. What a sight it must have been for others to see me sad; so suddenly.

I’m better at hiding it now. I work, I form relationships, I seek some sort of happiness. It looms, the agony, the dread. But I’m better at pushing through – sometimes. Lately, it hovers longer than I’d like. Often, it clings and I can’t shake it, wash it, peel back its decaying skin. It hangs like the air on a humid day.

I become stuck. I stick to my thoughts. They control my fighting mind; the part of my mind that resists the constant question – why are you still here? Why hasn’t anyone found you in a pool of blood?

I’m not sure, but my resisting mind wants to know why these demons keep lurking around? What is their purpose? Why did they choose me?
When you think of yourself, others don’t find themselves into the equation. Depression, for me is a one way street. Ahh, but that isn’t really true because the anxiety in me only cares about others, and the looming psychopath in me wants to murder every soul I see.
Mental illness isn’t cute anymore. It never was.

I grew up in a time where it was a growing trend of weirdos who dressed in black and were always sad. They made depression somehow glamorous and soon nearly everyone I knew wore eyeliner and combed their hair over one eye. But what about the people who were trying to act normal because they fought real demons? Not ones that pretended to just so they could fight the establishment and in return draw attention to themselves because no one at home gave a shit.
I had parents who gave a shit, they just didn’t know they had to. To them, I was normal. I did normal things, had normal friends, and had a normal mind.
I actually wanted to be normal. Instead, I fought to live. My mind wanted my soul and it almost won, more than a few times. I prayed to die and hoped I wouldn’t make it past 25. In fact, I was certain I wouldn’t live past then. I was so sure, I started doing things to speed along the process. It never happened. When 25 came, I cried until I nearly went into a psychosis. I took some pills to wash away the pain, and I woke in a heavier dispair. I was with someone then. Someone who saw my crazy. They seemed to embrace it and I’ll never know and never want to know why.
At this point, I gave in. I stayed with this person and just became someone I wasn’t – normal. I thought I should so I could at least stop the voices. I had to stop the demons.
But they were still there. In fact they came on full force. I started taking meds. It was a tragic sight. I changed. The voices stopped. The demons stopped licking the gray matter, but the claws never retracted.
I started living. I went to therapy. I was normal. But we’re not really normal, are we? We just turn into zombies.

I made cakes, made friends, cooked dinner, and went to parties. I was a wife. Sometimes I was really good. Sometimes I really sucked.

The demons played sometimes. They broke the med spell and when they played, the voices were worse than before. I would cry until I lost parts of me that I’ll never see again. I broke. After I broke, I broke again and again until the meds were gone and I started to sabbatoge my existence. If I was miserable, so was everyone else. No one was safe.
My unstable life made the voices more active. I had boughs of hysteria,as the old school doctors would say, more often than boughs of sanity. I longed to be institutionalized. I joked about it. That’s what you do. You joke about how crazy you are so you can deflect your problems. People laugh with you and it reinforces the behavior until even you start to believe the lies. They are just jokes, you tell yourself. You’re not crazy.
So you live your life. Like normal people do, but your thoughts are more demented. So you hang around people who are almost the same. It makes you feel better about yourself.
They don’t know the truth. No one knows the truth. When you confide in someone, they disregard you and just say things that they think will make you feel better because in reality you’ve made them feel uncomfortable and now they don’t know how to act around you and you find your list of friends getting smaller and smaller.
Don’t worry, you have the voices.
I do. The demons are nice as well. I enjoy their powerful hold. Their tight, crippling grip of despair. In fact, I’ve grown so accustomed to their presence I’m not sure I’d know how to be without them -which actually scares me to the core.

Assumptions – Extended

I wrote this piece over ten years ago. After an incident at work, I was fumed. I came home, opened the computer, and typed away furiously. Recent events regarding women opening up to media outlets over sexual misconduct, made me write my own piece about being silenced, but also about this bit I wrote about men who assume.

Every word in this piece is relatable, but as I re-read the rant, I thought about the man I portrayed. He is a wanna-be. He is a product of his environment. It is nearly every man I have ever met. They were all the same – young and dumb, always trying to be something they weren’t. What I knew then was, it must be only these types that insult women on a daily basis. It isn’t true. As I have grown older and now with more women coming forward, my perception of the man I portray is also the man I thought would never do such horrible things – leaders, movie stars, politicians (who I always thought were sleazy) – role models. I am wrong. I’ve been wrong before.

It is a man who wears a suit, casual dress, a man who makes any amount of money, who lives with his parents, or who is married, single – it doesn’t matter. This piece is directed at any man who thinks he has a right to talk to women however he pleases.

Another part in this piece is how the woman reacts. When I wrote this, I wrote what I would like to do. In reality, I wouldn’t do either but listen, possibly laugh uncomfortably, or become so annoyed that I just walked away hoping to avoid any of what is portrayed in this piece.

In conclusion, this piece is about how women, everyday, are harassed. We are mocked, shamed, and we are often made to feel as if we can do nothing. When I wrote this piece I wanted to make myself feel empowered. I wanted any woman that read it to feel empowered. So I felt the need to shame the man as he would, and in this piece does, shame us.

The world needs to know. They need to feel uplifted. We can not let men make us feel bad any longer. I do not want to go through any scenario where a man makes me feel like shit because I said or want to say no. I never, again, want to feel like I have to say yes.

(ASSUMPTIONS: Written in 2005 and edited)

This story is for any woman who has ever met a man who assumed he could have his way. As far as I am concerned, this is for any woman breathing.

It is very hard to write about all the presumption’s men make. I really want to narrow it down. So I thought about the most common.

First, is sex.

Second, is what we were put on this earth to do, (cook, clean, give birth – basically stay barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen).

Third, is assuming that we are helpless creatures, (god forbid I have a complete thought).

If I think of anymore, I will write another piece.

My version of a man that assumes he can have his way.

Bob is the kind of person who thinks he is God’s gift to women. You know the type. He walks up to you in broad daylight, while you are busy doing something. It could be anything. Walking your dog, eating lunch, shopping, getting gas, who cares. Well guess what, he doesn‘t care either.

Bob’s attire consists of baggy clothes, tilted hat, and a very gaudy, fake, chain, possibly gold. He has some peach fuzz on his face. Don’t tell him that, he believes it is full-grown goatee. He probably cannot walk very well because his pants are hanging just above his kneecap. If you are not careful, you will get a glimpse of the spider-man boxers his mommy gave him for Christmas. Also, try not to fall for his pimped out 96′ Ford Taurus, with the large speakers in the back. He will have them so loud, that you might be surprised that his ears are not bleeding. Be aware also of his custom spray paint job. Notice I did say spray paint. He thinks it’s a custom job. Therefore, this is Bob. I wanted to give you a clear picture of Bob. Let you know what you are up against.

So, here you are doing whatever and here he comes. Remember, he cannot walk, be aware of your surroundings and quickly move anything he cold trip on out of the way. You do not want him landing on you.

So, say you are eating. Of course, there are always two chairs at a table. Bob assumes that since you are alone, that chair is for him. So, he sits and as you almost choke on your sandwich, he says “What’s up baby.” as he nods his head upward. He thinks he’s a gangster. Depending on who you are and your attitude towards men you either attempt one of the following.

A. Push the chair out from under him and ask him what the fuck he thinks he is doing.

B. Tell ’Bob’ politely that if he does not remove himself from the chair, that you will mace his eyeballs until they melt.

C. Listen to him while he talks, this could be funny.

For conversation purpose, lets choose C.

“I said what’s up baby. You need a glass of water or something. I think you’re choking a little.”

After a few coughs and drying of your watery eyes, you say, “No thanks, I’m all right.”

“You sure, I could get you some water, it’s free.”

Bob is the type of guy who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He will eventually, but only after you yell at him. He has selective hearing.

“No thanks, I’ll be all right.”

You say that while staring at him with very cold eyes, and a hateful smirk. He will get the hint. Do not get confused though, he still assumes you want him, just not the water. We have to take things one at a time for Bob because he has a simple mind. So, you say to him, “What do you want?.”

“Well, I saw you sitting here and I thought ‘what is such a pretty thing doing eating all alone’? That’s not right. Someone like you should have a man beside her.”

You nearly choke again.

“Really? Why do you assume that I don’t have a man? Or that I even need a man. Maybe I am on a lunch break. Maybe my man is meeting up with me.” He rolls his eyes and isn’t really listening.

“If I were your man, I would never leave your side. You’re way to fine.”

Right now, you should assume that Bob has some trust issues and maybe some stalker tendencies. Do not ever think that this assumption is wrong.

“Plus babe, I would never let you work. You’re too fine for that too.”

Here is where a red flag should always come up. Bob doesn’t look like a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or anybody in the hundred thousand a year and above range. Remember when he asked you if you wanted free water. Bob is broke. Bob is a ten grand a year guy. If he is pulling a hundred a year, he probably sells drugs, or stolen items. You don’t want that type of guy anyway. Not that you are looking, but please stray away from the prison hopefuls of tomorrow.

“What if I want a job? Are you going to keep me inside forever?”

“No way babe. You don’t have to stay inside forever. I got to take you out and show you off. You’re super fine. Also, fine girls don’t have jobs. You know what I mean?”

Here Bob assumes that only women that don’t appeal to him can work. He also assumes that you are some kind of trophy. Let us also not forget that Bob keeps calling you babe. He doesn’t even have the decency to ask you your name. He apparently thinks it is okay, that you don’t mind being called whatever Bob deems necessary.

Knowing Bob is a worthless bum, with some severe trust and abandonment issues, you decide to end the conversation. Which we should assume has gone on for too long. So, speaking as slowly and clearly as possible, you say, “Listen, I’m sure you mean well by keeping me locked up. Fortunately, I like to roam free. You know what I mean?”

Bob is now confused. Don’t worry though he is used to being told no.

“I’m going to have to pass. See you later.”

As you say this, look at Bob firmly and do not move. It is like starring down an animal for food. He will eventually know how serious you are and walk away.

Do not assume Bob will leave quietly. His self esteem is very fragile. He will need to redeem it by calling you something derogatory. Watch out for words like bitch, whore, and slut. You get the picture. Do not let this get to you. Remember, Bob has to drive his beat up 96’ Ford, with his awesome spray paint job, back home to his mommy’s house. She probably has dinner ready.

Oh how my perception has changed. However, as I read this over and over, I cant help but think of all the truths no matter what the walk of life.

We have a man who talks to women however he wants. We have an everyday situation. We have a man who has never learned how to respect women.

I have met a lot of men in my life. All of them different. Not all of them treat women in such a disrespectful manner. In fact, I have met some very wonderful men. It is these men, who would never call us names and who make us feel equal, who make us feel like we have a voice, they’re the ones who should lead the way for other men to look up to. If you are that man, and you are reading this, reach out to a lost soul and show them the way.

Thank you for reading. I have so much to say on this topic – thousands of unorganized thoughts. I feel this small piece doesn’t do justice to the injustice I have endured and seen.

Silenced

It’s possible that the above title looks familiar. Perhaps it is something you have read this morning. You should know, I am part of a movement, and I too, will not be silenced. 

Written after reading the article in Time Magazine:

I read Time’s article this morning and became very proud of all the women who took the step forward to incite change. 

A movement I’ve been recalling in my head fo a very long time. We’ve been silenced enough. 

But through these trying months, it brings about all the times I’ve ever been sexually harassed and assaulted. It’s been openening a scab on the verge of healing. Or perhaps, it wasn’t that I was healed, it’s that I was numb. 

At work, a coworker, who’s thoughts should remain just that, produced into the vile protruding from his mouth. But not in a room where no one could hear, but in a room full of witnesses. After he felt he was done, after he laughed, after he walked away feeling a sense of accomplishment, and through what I felt was a sense of pride, I was left feeling disgusted and silenced. I didn’t know what to say and what I wanted to say would provoke more attention than I had desired. 

One coworker, a witness, a man, apologized for what he saw, saying I should never have to put up with that. Well, he’s right. I said, but I do because I’ve “put up with it” my entire life. At the risk of sounding conceited, I apologized, but felt the need to defend my words. So I said them in a stronger tone. I remembered the women taking steps forward so I didn’t have to take a step back. I do put up with it at the risk of losing it all, but I shouldn’t have to. I should be able to go to work and not have to deal with the likes of men who can’t find the decency to respect a woman. 

I remind myself of others. For it is through this movement, that women like myself can feel empowered to do what is right. 

“We can do it!”, rings in my ears. It means more than doing a job a man can do and even doing it better than a man, but that we too can have a voice, a box to speak, a mountain from which to yell, and a moon from which to scream – ME TOO!, and I (we) will no longer be silenced, shamed, ridiculed, or made to feel numb. We will no longer “put up with it”. 

I too will share and hope that my words, my inspiration will do more than spark a fire. I (we) hope it will fuel a raging inferno that burns until all the women find their voice. 

So yes, men, perhaps you should feel scared. Perhaps you should wonder about your actions, your words, your thoughts. Because as a woman, all that cocnsumes me are my thoughts, actions, words, and how they will make you react, and how I use less of them to draw away attention. The tables have turned and you should be afraid that I will never be silent again. 

Hello

I enter this realm once again. Not for you, but for myself. For my sanity. I have neglected what I love, what I am, and what I long to be.

Much has happened during my sabbatical and I hope to return with only one word in mind: change. It is what I have done and it is what I hope to continue to do.

I wrote something today that I would like to share. I hope you enjoy. If you relate, I hope we can teach each other ways to cope because I am so often lost.

Thank you for reading.

I felt really ambitious today – as if I were going to conquer the world. Then it happened, a series of events that would lead to my suffering and ruin my conquest. I wish it weren’t so, but as I type these words, tears flow because I feel defeated and mentally exhausted. The sad part is not the defeat, but the uncertainty of how to cope with the past, present, and future.

The anxiety seeps inside and covers every crevice until it fills every empty space. It takes control. I don’t fight, I flee. I shut down and run. You can’t speak to me, I can’t breath, and my brain beats my skull in pain. For a short while, I am non-existent. I am lost in my own spinning thoughts. My eyes are frozen. My energy is expelled. I feel insane. In those moments, I would stand by and let you commit me to a mental institution. For in those moments, when I am frozen, I feel as though I am lost forever.

It’s brief, but it feels like eternity, and all this for only one brief explanation: too much stimulation.

I can’t process it all. I need time to move from one step to the next. I’ve had a few days in a row of noise – constant stimulation. I didn’t give myself enough time to breath. Because of this, I panicked, in a way. It was quick, but the results last for hours. I still can’t talk and I even forced myself to write.

What I can only hope will be a relief is uninterrupted sleep.

These attacks drain every cell and your only solace is silence – paralyzing silence.

They’ll label me. I’ve been labeled before. Major Depressive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the newly not so recognized, acquired at a young age, Sensory Processing Disorder. Yay. Oh yes, let’s not forget my anxiety – social along with general.

I feel like a badly labeled clearance item. Let’s mark it one more time, maybe then someone will take it.

Losing My Way

I’ve lost my way time and time again.

Searching through the ruble,

wiping the dust from my shins

I often find a clearing,

the light shines through

I start to climb to freedom,

hope fills the air

I reach for a boulder,

to make my last steps

It was an illusion. 

It was never there.

I lose my grip on the vanishing air.

My feet slip below me

The darkness settles in

And now I’ve lost my way

time and time again.

It’s Time

I paused yesterday during my internal struggle for peace and realized I have been neglectful. 

I have been neglecting myself. I preach what should be done and when it comes to it, I fall short. 

It’s what happens, I suppose. We are supposed to learn, fail, and grow. 

I wonder when I’ll succeed. When I’ll stop falling short. But these questions I’m never suppose to know. That’s the complexity of life. We live, try our best, and share our wisdom. 

It’s a turbulent journey. 

When life becomes too much to bear, I have to pause and think about being grateful. It doesn’t come easy. I’ve come to realize, it never will. 

In the tradition of using Friday to think about what I’m grateful for, I’ll give you a list. 

It’s small, but it’s truth is real. 

  • In times where I feel alone, a friend shines through and reminds me they’ve always been there. For this, I am grateful for my friends. I have a handful that really know me, and I love them all. 
  • I am grateful for my parents. They do all they can for me, and I never say thank you enough. 
  • I am grateful I have a job. I often loathe it, but it’s still there as long as they find me worthy. 
  • My niece. She’s amazing, smart, funny, and when you’re sad she knows exactly what to do. She’s a true gift. 

Take some time to pause and be grateful. It can be difficult, but it gives new perspective and sometimes that’s all we need to silence the mind. 

He’s pausing, but it’s possible he’s thinking about cookies. 

The Fight Continues

A continuation of yesterday’s poem…
I know what I should do. 

But I can’t seem to do it. 

I sit down with hope. 

I can’t sift through it. 

Pencil meets paper. 

So thoughts can flow free.

But something is inside

Putting its grip on me.

I have more to give. 

There’s more to be told.

I must release this demon.

I must release the hold. 

Finding A Lost Dream

Today started like any other. I woke, prepared for the day, went to my vehicle, and opened the gate to leave. As I unhooked the chain, my thoughts transcended to that burning, perplexing question, What am I doing? 

I’m going to work. I’m slaving away. I don’t like what I’m doing and I have to change it. I had a vision of waking early, but it wasn’t to pay the man. It was to feed the horses, play with the dog, and write. 

I want to write. Instead, I am focused on making a dollar. I thought about all the excuses I make for not putting pen to paper. I thought of all the famous writers who made time. They made it happen. It wouldn’t just happen for me, I had to make sure it happened for me. 

I’ve had enough of wanting. I had to want it so bad it became a necessity. 

As the day wore on, my mind changed once again. Just because I wasn’t fond of my current job, didn’t mean I had to purposefully make it miserable in order to justify, or rather co-sign, my own bullshit. I had to make my current situation just as wonderful as the thought of my proposed future situation. 

Not only do I have to make changes so I am able to fulfill my dreams of raising a horse, playing with a dog, and writing for a living, I have to make a change within my mind so I don’t sabotage my current situation. 

Who cares if it sucks. And does it really suck? No. No it doesn’t. I just think it does. I make it suck. 

So as I continue to learn and grow, I let today’s revelation transform me. I tell myself to work harder at perusing your dreams. It will never just “fall in your lap”. 

I tell myself to stop making current situations horrible. Even though it isn’t what I want, it’s what I have and I must make the best of it. 

Let this be the year we strive harder, live more, and follow our dreams with the wildest of ambitions combined with a strong desire to see it through because no one knows exactally how to make them true but yourself.