My god is tired of my bullshit.
As she sits and exhales slowly,
She looks at me and says
“Kid, get your shit together.”
She has a way with words.
My god is a drag queen.
She performs under the name WhipMe Houston.
And her contouring is always fire.
She lip syncs to Madonna.
And she has the crispest wigs around.
She’s your favorite waitress at Waffle House.
She smokes your grandma’s cigarettes.
She’s late to every appointment.
She watches SVU.
She drinks Mr. Pibb because she roots for the underdog.
Her voice is raspy and harsh, but always drips with love.
Yeah, my god’s tired of my bullshit.
She’s been waiting for quite some time
For me to pull a u-turn.
But I’ve been flooring it south on the interstate
And I miss every single exit.
My god’s favorite color is red like the bandana around her beehive.
My god’s name is Donna.
She came out as a transwoman at age 45.
She has a dog named Jesus.
She chain smokes every evening with a glass of Chardonnay.
She gave me free will because she believes in anarchy.
And she doesn’t have a plan, but she knows what she wants for me.
She guides me in that direction.
She removes my obsession with self.
When I take my will back she gives me the stink eye and blows smoke in my face.
She doesn’t like my taste in music, but she lets me play it in the car.
She talks to me on her smoke break.
She always keeps a pen in her hair even though she’ll never write down your order.
She reads me tarot cards and has named every star.
My god’s tired of my bullshit,
But she always believes in me.
In the last year and a half, I’ve been largely neglecting my blog. The primary reason for my lack of updates has been my increasingly serious problem with drugs and alcohol.
Since the beginning of 2016, my drug use has spiraled completely out of control, expanding from weed and stimulants to benzos and opiates. I was hospitalized last summer following a bout of depression and insomnia that intensified beyond my control as I came down from tripping on Robitussin. During that hospitalization, my treatment team urged me to go to a rehabilitation center. I adamantly refused, stating repeatedly that I don’t have a drug problem, and that I could easily control my use.
I was discharged after a month, and returned to abusing pot and pills that same night. Within a week, I was right back to the same pattern that I had found myself in prior to my hospitalization. A month later, I turned 21, and immediately began drinking heavily amidst my constant drug use. I got high or drunk every day, as many times a day as I could. I woke up after ever brief period of sleep shaking violently with my stomach in knots. I wrote each of these instances off as panic attacks, and rationalized my self-medication to relieve my discomfort.
In September, a series of stressors in my life led to a drunken suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization. Upon my admission, I had to be medicated for dangerous withdrawal from multiple substances. That’s when I realized that the “panic attacks” I woke up in were actually withdrawal symptoms. Again, rehab was recommended to me, and again I refused. This time, I wasn’t discharged from the stabilization unit after a month. Instead, I was transferred to an extended care unit where I remained for four more months. It was during this time that I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings within the hospital. Even amidst others who struggled with similar issues, I strongly resisted identifying myself as either an addict or an alcoholic. Slowly, I started sharing more and more about my habits, eventually evolving my mindset to realize that I had been in denial. I learned about addiction, but held fast to reservations that I was not yet done getting high.
I was discharged from the extended unit with the hope that I would be able to stay clean despite my remaining hesitation towards the idea. Again, I relapsed the same day that I left the hospital. This time, my problem escalated beyond what it ever had been before. I couldn’t do anything if I wasn’t high, and I stayed up and didn’t eat for days on end. I continued to use everything that I had in the past, and I began using cocaine and methamphetamine. I knew that it wasn’t going anywhere good, and I attempted multiple times to sober up on my own. White-knuckling my way through every second, I never lasted more than several hours.
I started to contemplate rehab more seriously than ever before. A good friend of mine managed to convince me to schedule an intake appointment at an outpatient drug and alcohol facility. I reluctantly agreed and decided that I would clean up in time for my appointment. Of course, that’s not how it happened. I used quite a bit of meth and coke in the couple days before my intake, and I couldn’t hold off on the day of either. I went in to be assessed for treatment high out of my mind on cocaine. They drug tested me, and I peed dirty for a variety of drugs. The staff at the outpatient office recommended that I go to inpatient rehab. I had assumed that that would be their response to my current state, but I had not decided prior to my appointment whether or not I would agree to go. With a bit of persuading from a couple therapists, I caved and signed myself into rehab.
I spent 28 days at an inpatient rehab facility. I went through detox, learned more about the disease of addiction, went to AA meetings, and attended many different therapeutic groups. At the end of my stay, I was faced with the decision of whether or not to return to the house where I grew up and was living before my admission to rehab. After a lot of deliberation, I chose to move into a sober living home once I was discharged. I have been living in the recovery house since, attending drug and alcohol outpatient 5 days a week, and going to AA meetings more nights than not.
Today I am 73 days clean.
Today I am a recovering addict.
I can do this.
Please listen to me as I lay my soul on the line,
and excuse me for saying it in this cheap, stupid rhyme.
This wretched body is a cage with bars too thick to see
the silent suffering silhouette of the spirit I call me.
I will tear my chest wide open,
watch my heart pour onto the floor,
and break down the closet door.
I can’t live like this anymore.
Since I was just a little child, I hated being a girl.
I wanted to be a little boy more than anything in the world.
The more I slowly grew, and mind and body began to age,
I slowly began to realize that this was more than just a phase.
My only regret is waiting so long to just be me,
But this quick, simple poem is the first step to being free.
My name is Blake.
I am a transman.
Here I am.
A lot has changed in the last year or so since I last gave a real update. Many major things have gone on in the past year, and the most meaningful and empowering of those things is that I came out as transgender. At first, it was one person who I allowed to peek into my blue, pink, and white painted closet. Very slowly, I have invited more people in. Now, hand in hand with all of them, I am ready to bust out.
I am in the process of requesting those around me to use male pronouns and the name Blake instead of my birth name, Jocelyn. As you read this now, I am humbly asking you to do the same. I have chest binders coming in the mail as I write this, and I will pursue hormone therapy as soon as I am discharged from the long-term treatment facility where I am currently a patient.
I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the fifteenth time in my life on October 1st, 2016 following one of my worst breakdowns. On November 10th, I was transferred to an extended care unit in the same hospital, where I have been staying. Since then, I have been on many eight hour therapeutic leaves from the hospital, as well as unit trips to the public library, which is where I am posting this from now. Within the next month, I should be discharged home, and I am pumped!
Thank you to everyone for your continued support. We’ll get through this together.
I put my earbuds in and pressed shuffle. A song called “The Abandoned” by Memphis May Fire started to pound in my ears. I immediately paused it, not sure if I could handle that particular song today. A few indecisive minutes passed, and I hesitantly clicked the song back on. As a line in the first verse played, I could feel stinging tears begin to sprout in my eyes.
“You will always be my father but I hope you know, it’s your fault that I’ll never know what that means.”
Today is the seven year anniversary of the day that law enforcement and child protective services removed my dad from our home. When I have explained the significance of the date to people in the past, I am often met with “But isn’t that a good thing?” Overall, yes, the intervention was positive in the sense that it helped to free me from his tyrannical parenting and abuse. However, his reign of terror was far from over.
Insensitive police officers, prying social workers, a million questions I wasn’t ready to answer, disbelief, anger, and invalidation from family members that continues to this day. In a way, the consequences that I faced when the abuse was revealed were almost as traumatizing as the actual events.
My case was ruled “unfounded” not because there was no evidence, but because I couldn’t handle talking to the investigators. I had not planned on opening up about my experiences when I did, so I was completely unprepared for the subsequent barrage of intrusive interrogations. It became clear after the initial interviews that I would not be able to participate in the investigation, so it was suspended and then ruled unfounded after one brief interview with a young social worker, an even briefer interview with a cold male police officer, and one video-taped meeting with a child psychologist that lasted a maximum of five minutes before I broke down and had to leave the room. There were no searches and no medical examinations; only three terrifying, triggering conversations with professionals I had never met before that couldn’t have added up to even an hour total.
The definition of the word “unfounded” is having no basis in fact; groundless; unwarranted. As if three detestably short interviews with desensitized strangers is enough to decide that my experiences never happened. It would be one thing if it was determined that there wasn’t enough information, but to use the word unfounded is heinous. No basis in fact? Who the hell are these law enforcement agencies and child protective services that are rife with corruption to say that the emotional, mental, and physical damage that was inflicted on me for 10+ years is not based in fact? I did not imagine the scars. I did not wish the bruises into being on my skin. I did not concoct the flashbacks that force themselves into my head every day. I did not create this horrific past for myself out of anger or for attention. And yet the legal status of my abuse is unfounded.
I can’t count the number of times that people have asked me the question “Aren’t you worried that he will do it to someone else?” I did not choose to not tell my story. I could not handle the magnitude of the criminal justice world that was unexpectedly thrust into my shoulders at age 13. I collapsed under the weight, and the lack of patience and compassion that I faced in the investigation process did nothing but ensure that I stayed down. Everyday I wake up and I am faced with the reality that my abuser is free and therefor free to abuse again. He is free to ruin more lives than he already has because I could not cope with the responsibility of protecting myself and the world from a monster that I still can’t comprehend.
Yes, today is the anniversary of my escape from the prison that my father built for me with the same hands that tore out my soul, but it is also the anniversary of the start of an investigation that remains one of my greatest failures.
You came with a warning label that I ignored. It did not say enough. No one told me that my relationship with you would become more important than any other relationship I had, that being with you would quickly become my only goal, that you would become my life. Then again, if someone had told me, I would not have believed them.
You were seductive, hot, the ultimate romantic. I couldn’t breathe when your fingers wrapped themselves around my heart and you whispered sweet nothings into my ear. I was in a different world when I was with you – a world just for the two of us.
My friends warned me about you. I was told stories of what you had done to others. I saw things about you online. Red flag after red flag. I couldn’t count the number of times that I heard the words “be careful”. I ignored it all. How could something that felt so safe be as dangerous as everyone was saying?
I forgot about how cold life can be when I was enveloped in your warmth. I forgot about the pain when your scent flooded my room. I forgot about the relationships before you when you held me in bed.
It wasn’t long before the obsession began. You stalked me. You crawled into my head and fed me thoughts that I eagerly gobbled up: I needed you. You wouldn’t let me go anywhere without you, and I didn’t want to. In the rare moments we were apart, all I could think about was you. I counted down the minutes until we would reunite.
You shielded me from reality. You served as a buffer between me and the world that I was too sensitive to handle. I perceived it as protection from others when you were really just trying to keep me to yourself.
Our once innocent love burst into flames, charring and shriveling in the fire. I could hear you yelling at me even when things were calm. You choked me. You made me see things of your own creation as truth. You stripped the values from my soul like the clothes from my body. Honesty, compassion, dignity, humor, conviction, accountability, freedom – all casualties in the war that we fought every day.
I tried to break up with you. I shook and cried and pushed you away as hard as I could. My mind and body cried out for you so hard that I thought I was being ripped in two. I couldn’t imagine a life without you. I ran back to you and you welcomed me back as passionately as you had first reeled me in.
Almost immediately, you reminded me why I had wanted to leave in the first place. I was angry the way you taught me to be. I tore myself apart in your lap and you urged me further. You no longer comforted me when I cried. We were together, but I felt completely alone.
At the same time that I wished for death as a way to escape you, I wished for life so that we could spend more time together. I woke up in the morning with the sole purpose of being with you, and I went to bed at night praying that I would die in my sleep and never have to see you again.
Then you almost killed me. After a night of fighting with you, I woke up in a crumpled heap on the floor with dried blood caked on my skin. I could barely move. It took every ounce of energy I had to pick myself up and all I could do was reach for where you stood over me.
I told my parents what you were doing to me. They told me that I had to leave you, but I couldn’t – you were my everything. We got sneakier. I lied to them about what I was doing during the day and I locked them out of my room at night so that they wouldn’t catch us together. I knew that staying with you would cost me my life, but I couldn’t let go. I didn’t care. I thought that if I died with you, I would die happy.
My parents caught on to us and took me to a hospital where I was held for months trying to recover from the damage that you had done to my body, mind, and spirit. I didn’t sleep most nights because I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I shook uncontrollably in my stiff hospital bed as my stomach ate away at itself and my chest split open, my heart screaming for the only thing it had been beating for: you.
I told my doctor that all I wanted was to be with you again, and he said that going back to you was suicide. I did not respond, but I knew he was right. If we got back together, either you would kill me or I would kill myself. Survival would not be an option.
I decided during that hospitalization that I was done. I needed you, but the people who actually loved me needed me more. That was over a year ago.
I still think about you. I still miss you. My lips still yearn for your taste. My stomach does somersaults when I go to the places that we went together. I can’t breathe when I smell something that reminds me of you. My chest tightens when I remember what it was like to feel you close to me.
I know that if I want to live, I can never be with you again. I will never feel your peace again. I will never feel your wrath again.
Synthetic marijuana, I will never bow to you again.
I’ve been away for awhile. Not my usual “away” though; I haven’t been in the hospital. I’ve been away from the blogosphere, but I haven’t been completely separated. I’ve been keeping up with others’ posts and checking my dramatically dwindling stats. I’ve been writing more in recent months than I have in a long time, but I haven’t posted anything in over a month, and my last personal entry was at the beginning of February. I don’t have any explanations or excuses for my absence, and I promise that I’ll write an entry soon with all of the important things that went down in the beginning of 2016. Today, however, there is something else on my mind.
It is April 23rd, 2016. For me, that means two things:
1. Yesterday was my step-brother’s birthday.
2. Today marks three and a half years since my best friend’s death.
For my memoir class, I recently wrote a piece that includes both of them, so I figured today would be a good day to share that.
Through my childhood and most of my teen years, I loved Halloween despite writing a couple pages on why I hated it in second grade.
I remember a couple costumes that I wore back in the old days: a cow, Nala from The Lion King, Padmé Amidala from Star Wars multiple times, a ninja, Sarah Palin, Kate Gosselin.
It seemed like the older I got, the better Halloween became. My parents cared less and less about how much candy I ate the night of, costumes got more creative, my dad stopped supervising our candy hunt (he was too unfriendly to hand out candy at the house, so that was my mom’s job), and, come middle school, the parties started. I wasn’t in the right friend group or school district for there to be drugs or alcohol at the parties, but they were always a good opportunity to get attention, and boy, did I like attention.
In 2011, I went to one Halloween party as Paula Deen. My costume was complete with a box of butter (salted, of course). I attended with my four friends, who were dressed as a redneck, a demonic pumpkin man, Dr. Oz, and himself. My best friend, Isaiah, was the pumpkin man. He was a few years younger than everyone at the party and didn’t have many friends there aside from his brother and me, so he crawled through the bushes and the parched corn field and jumped out at people. I eventually gave him my wooden cooking utensils and itchy white wig to add to the fun.
The night before, Isaiah and I had gone on a frantic quest to collect as much candy as we could in the final 30 minutes of Strasburg Borough’s allotted trick-or-treat time. I didn’t have time to get all gussied up in my Paula Deen outfit, so I grabbed a stick horse and a smiley face balloon, buttoned my jacket up over my head, and set out as the headless horseman. Isaiah was a scary pumpkin man of course.
Eight days before Halloween of 2012, Isaiah ended his life at age 14. Parties cancelled. On trick-or-treat night, a time I always spent with Isaiah, one of our friends and I handed out candy on the front porch of my house at my mom’s request. I watched as tiny power rangers and My Little Ponies walked over the sidewalk where I had seen my best friend’s body bag get wheeled into a silent ambulance on a stretcher. They were giggling and happy, blissfully unaware of the devastation that had happened there just days before. Halfway through trick-or-treat, Isaiah’s pregnant older sister and his two year old niece that he adored walked up to the porch. My friend immediately began sobbing and we had to go inside.
The next two Octobers were spent with my vices and filled with self-harm, drugs, and alcohol. I don’t remember them specifically because I was too intoxicated by substances and crushing grief.
This past year, I decided to focus outside of Isaiah and myself. Halloween is my step-brother’s favorite day of the year. He calls it “October happy Halloween stah”. Cory is 24 (as of yesterday), but simultaneous mental retardation and autism leave his functionality fluctuating between preschool and elementary level. He likes skeletons, pumpkins, the color orange, and anything edible, so Halloween is the perfect day for him. As soon as my step-dad told me that Cory had never been trick-or-treating, I knew what I had to do.
My parents took Cory and me to Party City, the Halloween Mecca. Despite whether or not he understood the concept, Cory said that he wanted to dress up as Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, who he calls “Bigger Sauron The King”.
I grabbed a large golden crown off of a shelf and held it up to my second oldest sibling that was twice my size, “Look, Cory, Bigger Sauron The King!”
His eyes got wider than I’ve ever seen them. He slowly took the crown out of my hands, lifted it into the light, and uncharacteristically whispered, “The King!”
Come Halloween night, Cory ceremoniously donned the crown, a cape, a sword, and a shield. My girlfriend dressed up as Rainbow Dash with a full face of blue makeup, my friend pieced together a Mother Earth costume, and I gathered as many Adventure Time accessories as I could and declared myself Jake the Dog. And so, an antagonistic wizard, a magic pony, an earth goddess, and a cartoon dog ventured into the autumn night with the goal of giving Cory a Halloween experience besides watching The Nightmare Before Christmas by himself.
No one expected Cory to make it past a couple of houses, but we went up and down each side of our street. Sure, Cory charged ahead of us on every stretch of sidewalk, sword raised high. Sure, he may have bowled over a toddler or two. Sure, we had to coach him to say “happy Halloween” and “thank you” at every house. And sure, there’s no real way to tell what he thought about the whole ordeal, but I like to tell myself he enjoyed it.
Cory was allowed to have one piece of candy from his Halloween bag before my parents threw it away. He chose a small bag of pretzels.
Now please, bear with me. I try very hard to keep politics out of my writing in fear of ostracizing some of my readers, offending people close to me, or even losing followers. Unfortunately, in a world where your success is often measured by how many people like your work, writers, artists, and politicians often censor themselves in order to appeal to a wider audience. However, I am beginning to realize that there is a very fine line between “censoring” and lying by omission. And in some cases, being a silent bystander can be nearly as damaging as being an outspoken bigot.
Now, some of you may be thinking, “But Jocelyn, I thought this was a mental health blog.” And you’re right, my darling inquisitive reader, it is. While I usually focus on my own personal mental health, today I will be approaching a much broader set of issues. There is an enormous, terroristic threat facing the mental health of America. That threat is chronic bad hair day sufferer and self-proclaimed multi-billionaire Donald Trump.
When I first heard that Trump was entering the presidential race in June of 2015, I thought it was a joke. After all, I knew him as a rude, fairly creepy, misogynistic businessman with a tendency to get himself into debt and tweet angrily. Thinking back on it, I now wish that that was all he was.
Trump quickly gained support and wide-spread media coverage through a blatant disregard for human decency. His campaign trail has been blazed largely by personal attacks on his opponents, political stances that differ greatly from his well-documented opinions prior to his campaign, and vague, unrealistic plans to “make America great again.” Trump is a master-manipulator whose seemingly thriving political career is based primarily on his ability to propose ideas that soothe his fragile supporters’ irrational fears, which include Muslims, Mexicans, and Obamacare. Trump appeals to the prejudices and insecurities that are rife within a republican party that is increasingly less and less logical. The combination of ignorance, fear, bigotry, and the desperate search for a scapegoat mirrors the perfect storm of traits that allowed Hitler’s rise to power in pre-Holocaust Germany.
Because Donald Trump’s mouth is an eternal volcano of filth, this post could quickly become my longest blog entry if I were to attempt to address every inconsistent, discriminatory, or hate-fueled comment he has made, so I’ll just cover a few.
Upon his campaign announcement, Trump said that he would build “a great, great wall” in between the United States and Mexico, later adding that the construction of the wall would be funded entirely by Mexico. His rationalization for this plan was revealed in a statement in which Trump claimed that the Mexican government is intentionally “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States,” continuing to say that illegal immigrants from Mexico are “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” Now, I don’t think that anyone is pro-illegal immigration. It is, after all, illegal. That’s pretty much the only problem that I have with illegal immigration though. The difference between my views and Trump’s views on the issue lie there. Instead of focusing of the undocumented immigrants’ illegality and the issues surrounding that, Trump chooses instead to focus on the alleged immorality of the people who are entering the U.S. by way of the Mexican border, basing his claims on widely-disputed statistics and individual cases that he tailors to support his “great wall” plan.
Much like the average tween girl, Donald Trump is an avid Twitter user. With 6.6 million Twitter followers, he is certainly no Katy Perry, who has the most followers at over 83 million. However, he tweets incessantly, covering topics from Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship to Obama being the “WORST EVER president”. Trump often takes to Twitter to bash people that he disagrees with. His most recent attempts at middle school-esque cyber-bullying have been directed at Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate that recently spoke out against the business mogul, encouraging republicans to vote for anyone other than Trump. Despite having tens of millions less followers, Donald Trump has posted more than a whopping 31,000 tweets in his Twitter career, which is thousands more than Kylie Jenner and Barack Obama combined. If that isn’t an automatic red flag, I don’t know what is.
In a post-9/11 America, under-educated citizens are quick to point fingers at Islamic religion as a whole, villainizing all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, which accounts for about 23% of the global population. Believing that all practicing Muslims are hateful terrorists because of the actions of extremist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS is exactly the same as labeling all Christians as hateful terrorists because of the actions of extremist groups like the Klu Klux Klan and individuals like Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber who grew up in the Catholic Church and received his last rites from a priest just before his execution). One of the primary goals of the KKK, as determined early on in the supremacist organization’s history, is to “reestablish Protestant Christian values in America by any means possible.” This objective eerily reflects the goal of ISIS, which was described as “filling the world with the truth and justice of Islam.”
During a visit to the largest Christian university in the U.S., Liberty University, Donald Trump promised that he was “going to protect Christians”, claiming that they are losing their power in America, a country that was originally invaded and colonized in pursuit of religious freedom. Trump describes himself as a Protestant; a Presbyterian much to the chagrin of my 83 year old grandmother, a life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church USA. In 2012, Trump said, “I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think that my religion is a wonderful religion.” The second sentence in that statement is key. His religion is a wonderful thing.
If there is one religion that the republican front-runner thinks is less than wonderful, it’s Islam. The irrefutably illogical generalization that all Muslims are dangerous is encouraged by various claims and plans that Trump may or may not stand by if elected to office. Shortly after the ISIS-led terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, Donald Trump declared that as president, he would implement a series of database systems in order to track Muslims in the United States as well as keep close surveillance on mosques. The proposed database system has been compared to the Nazi’s tracking of Jewish people and the requirement that Jews wear patches on their clothing. To up the ante from suggesting that America mimic prewar Germany, Trump also endorsed shooting Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood in order to deter them. And as if that wasn’t appalling enough, Trump has proposed a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants entering the country, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
A Donald Trump presidency is, without a doubt, the most effective thing that Americans can do to ensure anti-Western extremist groups like ISIS a thriving place in the modern world. Ironically similar to the Trump campaign, ISIS relies on pure fear to motivate people to support their cause. This fear is driven by ISIS’s claims that the Western World, the United States in particular, does not welcome, respect, or protect Muslims. No one proves this point better than Trump and his followers. Hate crimes against Muslim individuals (or individuals perceived to be Muslim), mosques, and Muslim-run businesses have as much as tripled in recent months. These attacks include assaults, vandalism, arson, and murders. The spike in hate crimes as well as increasingly disparaging remarks from American politicians, especially Trump, only validate ISIS’s motives and the terror of Muslims internationally.
My main message is this:
On behalf of the worldwide community, if you find yourself in a voting booth about to cast a ballot for Donald Trump, please, turn around, go back to your log cabin in the woods without running water, organize your gun cabinet, turn on some Kid Rock, and make love to your 18 year old cousin because chances are, you are exactly what is wrong with America.