Archive | June 2014

Princest Diaries

A Middle Eastern “POPlitical” artist called Saint Hoax, known best for transforming world leaders into drag queens, has released a series of posters with the intention of raising awareness for sexual abuse within families. The collection is appropriately named “Princest Diaries”. Hoax was inspired to take action after learning about a close friend’s experience of rape at the hands of her father at age 7. The images show three Disney princesses being forced to kiss their fathers. Saint Hoax explains on his (or her) website, “The aim of the poster series is to encourage victims to report their cases in order for the authorities to prevent it from happening again.” Here are the posters:

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I think this campaign is creating a lot of extremely important discussions. Incest is probably the most suppressed form of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is already really difficult to talk about. But I think that people shy away from incest even more than they do assaults on college campuses or date rape or whatever. Despite making up such a huge percentage of all sexual abuse, it’s still especially taboo. That’s probably one of the big reasons that Saint Hoax felt the need to bring attention to the issue in such a shocking way. It’s a very drastic approach, and because of that, it’s captured the focus of people all over the world.

Something that I think is interesting about the news coverage on the “Princest Diaries” is that every article I’ve read about it refers to Saint Hoax as a woman when in reality, a gender is not specified on sainthoax.com or any of the social media accounts. At first, I really didn’t think anything of it, and in fact, I assumed that these images were created by a woman as well. This assumption is kind of disturbing to me. It raises the question “Are so many people coming to the conclusion that Saint Hoax is a woman because she cares about sexual abuse?” I think that that idea is really fucked up. It’s terrible that we live in a world that trains us to do that. Sexual abuse affects people of every gender identity. It is certainly not just women, and women are definitely not the only ones who care. Yeah, men typically are less likely to talk about sexual abuse. That’s true, and what that means is that men really need to step it up. There is such a large need for validating, compassionate, open, understanding men. And honestly, I kind of hope that Saint Hoax is a man.

I cannot stress the importance of reporting sexual abuse, for people of all ages. I know I’m totally a hypocrite on the subject. When I reported my abuser, I didn’t have the courage to continue talking about it. I refused to speak to Children and Youth and I yelled at and walked out on the police officer conducting the investigation. It’s a terrifying process, and it takes so much bravery to follow through with all of it. I have no idea how young kids and teenagers and anyone for that matter can be expected to go through it. It’s a huge battle, no doubt, but it really does need to be done. Not only for the survivors, but for possible future victims. Abusers don’t typically stop abusing unfortunately. Even if the abuse ends for one of their targets, it’s likely that they’ll move on to another. That’s one of my huge fears in letting the man who abused me walk, the possibility of him abusing others.

I understand the struggle, and I want to extend my hand to whoever needs it. I am always here to help anyone in any way I can, whether it’s in finding the right person to report to or just in being here to talk. And please, if you or someone you know is being hurt or has been hurt, tell someone. You don’t know how many people you could be saving.

Loss and Gain Part 1: The Beginning

“Shame weighs a lot more than flesh and bone.” 

-Portia de Rossi, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain 

I don’t talk about this type of thing in a serious way very often because of the crazy amount of shame that surrounds it. Hell, I don’t even talk to my mom or therapist about it. There is, however, definitely a lot to say, so I’ll be breaking this entry up into two parts to make it more bearable for both reader and writer. Here’s Part 1:

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I’ve never had a very healthy relationship with food or my weight.

Even as a kid, I remember feeling bad about myself. I started ballet when I was 4 or 5. Despite continuing for years, I don’t have a ton of memories from dance. A lot of the memories I do have are memories of feeling inferior later in my ballet career, and it wasn’t even about the dancing. After a few years, changing into tights and a leotard became painful. I felt like everyone was staring at me. I felt fatter than all the other girls. Realistically, I highly doubt I was that much bigger than the girls in my dance class if I was any bigger at all. It still killed me though. When I danced in the studio, all I could focus on was the mirrors and the way I jiggled when I moved. When I danced in performances, all I could think about was how I looked next to the other girls. I thought the audience must have been noticing, singling me out as the fat one, the one that didn’t fit in. We didn’t dance for judges, but I felt like I was being constantly judged anyway. I quit ballet because of the insecurity that no one knew was brewing inside of me.

Even though I felt so repulsive, I ate a lot growing up. I hated eating, but I still did it a lot. It seemed like the more I hated it, the more I did it, and the more I did it, the more I hated myself. People in my family would make comments like “You’re such a good eater!” or “Jocelyn will eat anything!” Actually, I still get that sometimes, but when I was younger, it hurt so much more. I’ve always taken those sorts of things as very backhanded compliments. I don’t know how anyone would think that that’s a good thing to say to a young girl. Eating is such a sensitive topic for people to be making ignorant comments about. I was so self-conscious about food and weight and everything like that. People bringing attention to it and emphasizing it just made it so much worse. I dreaded going to family events because I knew someone would say something about what I was eating or the way I eat, and even if they didn’t, I assumed they were watching me and thinking about it.

Around fourth grade, I started wearing excessively baggy clothes. I felt like I needed to hide my developing body. I wanted everything to appear flat. My breasts and my ass and my hips, I wanted all of it to disappear. I wore layers and layers of shirts and extremely baggy jeans. I wanted to be like the other girls in my grade that were prepubescent and flat-chested and stick-thin. I think that the sexual abuse that played out during my childhood made it a lot worse as well because the more substance there is to your body, the more there is to grab. It’s a really sad fact, but that’s something I learned very quickly. I hated everything about my body, and I wanted to hide it as much as I possibly could both for safety purposes as well as out of shame.

Come fifth or sixth grade, I was dressing in overly-large men’s clothing everyday. By this point, another factor had come into play: my sexuality. I was relatively sheltered as far as the LGBT community goes. I was beginning to realize that I liked girls, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I felt like a freak. I didn’t know that that was okay. I didn’t even know that that was a thing. Because I didn’t understand the sexuality that I was questioning, I began to question my gender identity instead. I figured, I must be in the wrong body. I must be a boy. This drove me to try to cover up any curvaceousness that my body had even more. I wanted to be stick-thin, but this time it wasn’t to be less appealing or to fit in better. This time, it was so that I would look closer to how I felt: male.

In seventh grade, I began skipping meals. It’s a miracle that I made it that far without disordered behavior. My eating had just leveled out and I was about normal weight for my height, but I still felt like the biggest one in every room I entered. My friends would frequently try to get me to eat lunch at school. School was a brilliant opportunity to miss a meal without my mom knowing it. I’ve never been too big on breakfast, so I was down to eating one meal a day. About halfway through the year, I began purging. The first time I made myself throw up, I had just eaten one of my rare, large school lunches. I felt disgusting. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor of the middle school and crying. I tried repeatedly to stick my fingers down my throat with no success. The more I tried and the more time slipped by, the more frustrated I became. I was losing my opportunity. I couldn’t be gone from class very long without people getting concerned. I remember digging my nails into my already cut-up arm. I bit down on my lip to hold in a scream. Letting all of my self-loathing flow into my fist, I punched myself as hard as I could in the stomach.

In the August between seventh and eighth grade, I was hospitalized for two suicide attempts. While at the hospital, I told my psychiatrist about the purging that had become fairly regular by then. She recommended that I go to an inpatient unit specifically for eating disorders. She did not, however, explain to my mom why she was suggesting that. She left that up to me, a mentally ill 13-year-old with no intentions of getting better. I told my mom that the only reason she was making that referral was because I hadn’t eaten much while at the hospital, which was almost true. I didn’t really eat there until my last one or two days, but there was a lot more to it than just that. My mom believed me, and did not pursue the eating disorder clinic idea.

In eighth grade, I stumbled across a pro-ana/mia website for the first time. As you could probably figure out, pro-ana is pro-anorexia, and pro-mia is pro-bulimia. There are huge communities of people online who encourage each other in their eating disorders. They do things like provide support, swap tips and tricks and share thinspo. Thinspo is short for thinspiration. Thinspo is typically an image that promotes or glorifies extreme thinness, usually of models or actresses that have reached a frighteningly low BMI. I was sucked in almost immediately. After reading all of the quotes on as many pro-ana websites as I could find, looking at all the pictures they had to offer, reading all the posts from other girls “starving for perfection” and learning all the tricks, I was obsessed. I weighed myself multiple times a day, I ate as little as I could get away with, I purged as often as I could, and I worshiped the women in thinspo, but my weight was slowly creeping up.

Today, I came across what was one of my favorite pictures at that time, something that I aspired so desperately to be. When I saw it again, my heart stopped:

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To be continued…

Remember Me?

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I approach you

A stranger now

And the more I think about it

I begin to realize

A stranger then too

 

The words swirl in my head

Beating against my skull

Yearning for escape

Fighting with the pills I take

To quell the very thoughts

That threaten to burst out

Out into the world that you taught me to trick

To manipulate

To evade

 

A timid mumble

Escapes my lips

A question posed in fear and hope

Desperate

“Remember me?”

 

No response

I collapse

You walk

 

And as you trek forward

Without the desire to look behind

The dust kicked into the air

From the swift movement of your feet

Brings painful tears to my eyes

 

The words creep into my throat

Again

They shoot from my mouth

Slicing like blades

Tearing me apart

As the strained syllables echo forward

I pray they will reach you

 

This time it’s not a question

This time

It’s resigned

No hope

Just a broken plea

“Remember me.”

Half A Celebration

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This is a picture of my family on the night of my sister’s high school graduation in 2010. It’s funny because this is probably the closest I’ll ever be to holding a diploma and wearing a cap and gown (or just a cap anyway), and by funny I mean terribly depressing. 

My twin brother (who’s on the right) is graduating tomorrow. Needless to say, I’m jealous as anything. I really wish that I could feel happy for him. Deep down, I’m sure I am. It’s just clouded by a whole lot of angst. I will not be graduating with him. In fact, I most likely will not be graduating ever. As of right now, my plan is to drop out of high school and get my GED. I’m over a year’s worth of credits short of graduating. Continuing is just unrealistic. The contrast between Joey and me has never been more evident. Right now, it’s obvious that he’s “better” than me. I know life isn’t a race, but he’s terrifyingly far ahead of me. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to him, but how can I not when there’s a giant “Congrats Grad!” balloon in my living room?

We’re having a little gathering of my mom’s side of the family after the ceremony tomorrow, and I can’t help but think about how awkward and depressing it’s going to be. And that really sucks because it’s supposed to be a celebration. I’m supposed to be celebrating my brother’s achievements, not focusing on my failures. I feel like I’m being selfish. I really am thinking a lot about myself. It’s all about him, and I hate to say it, but that bothers me. It’s his moment when it’s supposed to be ours. At the same time that I wish we could be sharing the attention, I don’t want it at all. He’s the one that’s earned it. Plus at this point, any attention I’d get would be in the form of questions or comments like “It’ll be your turn soon!” That is not what any of us need.

In addition to Joey graduating, so are most of my friends and all the kids that I grew up in classes with. It’s just one huge shitstorm for my self-esteem. Being on the outside of your graduating class is definitely an isolating and disappointing experience. I can really only be disappointed in myself though. I’m taking complete responsibility for my lack of success in the education field. Maybe I shouldn’t be entirely blaming of my character. It’s not like I’m just lazy or anything (although I am kind of lazy). Mental illness completely derailed my life. It’s amazing I made it through as many years of school as I did. Hell, it’s amazing I’m even alive. I guess that’s my big accomplishment this year. I only wish that was enough.

What Am I Doing?

I haven’t been posting recently because things have been so hectic. Well, things have actually been really slow, but it feels chaotic. I feel chaotic. On the average day out here in the world, I’m relatively okay and stable or whatever, but at the moment, everything feels overwhelming.

It seems as though all the major people in my life are in fast-motion. Everyone is moving forward, and I’m not really moving at all. In a week, most of my friends and my twin brother will be graduating. I’m supposed to be up there on that stage with them this year. It’ll be a painful ceremony to say the least. As if that wasn’t big enough, those new graduates will be going off to college in the fall. They’re going all over, and I’m staying here. And sure, not everyone is leaving, but those that are staying around here have jobs that they go to regularly like real adults. In addition to that, my therapist is going on maternity leave extremely soon, and even my mom is rapidly moving forward in her life. Everyone is basically exploding out into real life, and I’m left here in the rubble. So where does that leave me? Is there any room for an angsty teenage girl who still needs someone to drive her around and give her medication because she’s not responsible enough to do either of those things for herself? Hell, this is the most adult thing I’ve ever done:

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Great things are going on all around me.

What am doing?