poetry · self help · society · support · Uncategorized

detaching

I wanted to be the sad poet but I couldn’t handle it anymore
This drowning myself with my own grief
This taking every weight upon my back like it was mine to carry
Like finally crossing the finish line would amount to anything but my own demise
Making art from pain is healing
But only making art that hurts is a form of suicide
I was destroying myself for the greater good
Sacrificing my innards for the sake of art and what beauty it brings forth
But all I ever caused was the release of more pain, urging these tortured artists to keep being complicit in their own suffering.
I can’t stand by idle as my body degrades and my soul tears off a piece every day
No piece can justify my death
No lived experience is worth re-living, if it brings me to my knees and drags me closer to the ground
Where I convinced myself I belonged, amongst the insects and the roots that ground to the earth more beautiful things than me
Does any artist realize how important they are?
How humans need art, to revolve around, to live in the shadows of, to bow to and to be taught to surrender?
Does any artist allow themself to detach from their art?
To measure their self-worth in other ways, like their positive interactions with friends who don’t read their works but care about their journey
I’ve been read by some and not read by many
I’ve been read by myself the most, by far
I’ve been torn apart and fallen back together, naturally. Like the creation and destruction of the seasons.
It’s a cycle.
But I must liberate myself before my passion becomes my vice.
Before my oasis becomes my prison and my words become my weapons.
I am powerful, whether I harness this searing energy or not. I can create just by being, who I am, where I am, at this very moment and taking a step back to breathe in what I’ve made and assess if it is what i need to move forward on a path that speaks of progress
And not burying myself in a wealth of trauma,
I said poetry was my lifeblood and it very much still is
I said I give birth to poems, the only children I’ll ever have
I hung onto my own words-
And hung myself
I sacrificed myself for my children.
But poetry cannot be the end for me it is merely a place to mark my words and I can’t keep moving forward if I keep recording and re-reading the past like my obsession. I have more to offer. There’s more to hope for then turning pain into beauty.                                                                                                                             Sometimes pain isn’t beauty.                                                                                                   It’s just pain.

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challenge · diversity issues · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · society · truth · Uncategorized · writing

On being oppressed and problematic at the same time

I am a queer woman. I am not always unproblematic.

I am a white female middle socioeconomic status college student who identifies as pansexual. I hold some privileges, and lack others. The reason I’m writing my truth is that I want people to understand that just because you belong to an oppressed group doesn’t mean you never participate in that oppression. Black cops kill innocent black kids. Women argue against the rights of sex workers. Gay and lesbian folks are often transphobic. We’re all socialized in the same society, so not one of us is immune to the biases that are ingrained in our culture. That’s why it’s impossible and pointless to call someone racist or not racist, sexist or not sexist, homophobic or not homophobic. We all have the capabilities to think in oppressive ways, even towards ourselves; however, what matters is that you learn to stop this thinking before it starts and actively resist oppression. I learned from the brilliant Beverly Tatum that most people are either actively or passively racist. To most, passively racist people would not be considered racists because they don’t wield Tiki torches or publicly harass people of color- but this is not the case. Passively racist people consist of a majority of the population, and this mindset includes behaviors such as laughing at racist jokes, locking car doors as a person of color passes outside, not trusting people of color in high up positions, and not dating people of color. Passively racist people may have POC friends, may have voted for Obama, and do anything they can to not be seen as racist. But it’s not that simple. I used to be passively racist as well, and I didn’t see a problem. I was internalizing all of the things society told me about people of color, but I wasn’t directly harming anyone, right? It took me getting to college to realize that you can be racist without realizing, that it’s not simply a matter of racist or not racist, and that to really not be racist you must be anti-racist. You must work actively every single day to address your implicit biases and work against what society tells you about people of color. This can be incredibly challenging. Most people, especially liberals, would never consider themselves to be racist or have racist tendencies, and that’s a huge problem. Unless you live in a different country that was never colonized and doesn’t operate under white supremacy, you have racist tendencies and you must do all you can to stop them. This includes educating yourself on racial oppression, reading the works of POC, unpacking your implicit biases and noticing every time you fall into them, listening to the experiences of POC, joining the movement for equality as an active participant in fundraising, marching, and advocating, and taking any comments of how you’re problematic seriously and changing yourself accordingly. It is a tough process, but it is necessary if we will ever build a formative enough nation to ensure equal rights for everyone.

The fight continues on all fronts, and I’m writing this post to admit that, although I am a progressive social justice activist I still make mistakes. I still internalize my own oppression. I only recently recognized the oppressive thoughts I’ve had about women and queer folks, which is bizarre considering I identify as both. But that’s how oppression works. It’s sneaky. I only recently decided to openly talk about my sexuality, and still am struggling to be more open about it. Why am I scared to come out about being queer? Because I’m scared of the stigma. Being pamsexual in a hetero relationship, I’m someone no one really would consider queer. They either think I’m confused, or experimenting; I’m not gay enough to be included in queer spaces but I’m not straight enough to feel comfortable in straight spaces. It’s a weird feeling. There’s a lot of discrimination within the queer community. Biphobia is a huge issue. I saw a meme that said if a man is bi they consider him actually gay and if a woman is bi they consider her straight but confused, because no one can accept a sexuality that doesn’t revolve around men- and that really stuck with me. I’m nervous to be open about my sexuality because people have only seen me with men and I fear they’ll think I’ve been hiding something or I’m actually just straight. Just because I’m in a hetero relationship doesn’t mean I’m not queer. I feel like I have to somehow prove my queerness, like post a photo kissing a woman, just so people get it through their heads that queer people come in all shapes and sizes, and, yes, you can know someone your whole life and never know they’re queer. I am learning to be less problematic. I’ve always secretly and silently felt some discomfort towards masculine lesbians and trans women and I’m unpacking why that is. I believe it’s due to my underlying lifelong fear that I would be stigmatized as severely as they are. I resent their confidence despite their oppression. Deep down I want to dress more masculine sometimes but fear being categorized as a masculine lesbian, even though I know this isn’t a bad thing in the slightest. The bias comes from the messages I’ve been exposed to: women should be feminine, but I know this isn’t true and I am working to stop believing this.

As a woman, I’ve messed up too. I’ve judged women for being attention seeking, for the way they dress, for the way they talk and act, and for embracing traditional gender roles. I’m a feminist, and I’ve still fallen into the pit of sexist thinking. This is what I mean when I say no one is immune. It’s how you handle it that matters. I’ve learned to question my automatic thoughts if they support oppression and get them out of my head. I’ve learned that there are many people in these communities who support their own oppression and do great harm to themselves unknowingly. Unlearning what society tells you is a process, but we all need to start now. Wherever you do and don’t hold privilege, learn how you can be less problematic. Just because you don’t hold privilege in an area doesn’t mean you’re not problematic at times! All oppressions are interconnected, so we must address all our biases against all groups of people (including non-human people).

I know how exhausting and defeating living under this system is, but we must take personal responsibility to do the work to take this system down. You will make mistakes, but if you take all feedback from others to heart and improve, you will be helping create a more equitable world. Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve been problematic; this is a lot more genuine and helpful than denying it. Sitting on the sidelines and staying silent won’t do anything for social justice- use your various privileges to amplify the voices of oppressed folks and actively join their efforts. I’m proud to finally embrace another aspect of my identity and I will continue learning about systems of oppression and becoming a better activist every step of the way. It’s not a matter of being problematic or not; as humans, we all are at times. It’s a matter of making amends for any harm you may have caused, learning better, and doing better, and doing your absolute best to be the least problematic you can be. As an activist, that’s all I demand, and I hope you demand that from yourself, your peers, and your communities as well. Let’s turn everyone from passive supporters of oppression into active advocates for social justice.

challenge · experience · inspiration · life · love · poetry · positivity · self help · society · truth · Uncategorized · writing

let’s not figure things out

Don’t ask me what my plans are

I’m still figuring them out

I’m still rearranging the ideas in my brain that dictate how I live my life

Convincing myself that each day it is okay for the future to change

I am not a liar for never doing those things I said I would

Because they turned out to not be what I wanted

It is okay for my idea of love to change from one to many

It is okay to see where everything goes before committing

Giving precedence to my mind’s health and the nourishment of my soul

It is okay to live according to the sun’s rising and falling

Following my natural impulses like an awakened cavewoman

Because all too often we ignore our impulses and follow the lead we are expected to

To convince others we are successful, we are where we are supposed to be

But maybe where I am supposed to be on a Friday afternoon is crying in the bathroom

Because my heart is bursting with love

And all of the feeling has returned to my body, all of the bliss that others bring me has boiled up,

And spilled over,

And I’ve spilled over,

Reminding myself I am human, not a people-pleasing machine

I am more than my ability to make others happy

I am more than the physical connection or listening ears I provide

I am a being simply because I am being,

My being does not depend on my utility to others

I am not just a tool for accomplishment,

Whatever that means to society

My idea is different,

More feeling comfortable and confident wherever I am,

Spending my time just how I would like to, and not how I feel obligated to

I believe in the inexplicable beauty of love.

Let’s not define things,

Let’s not stress or worry, or force our anxiety to act up

By convincing ourselves we need to do more, be more, live more

Let’s honor the place we are now and continue on the path that brings joy to our face

A warmth creeping up the corners of the lips, reaching out through the limbs of the body

Enabling us to love, naturally, freely, without obligation

Let’s not figure things out right now.

It’s better to live in this uncertain moment, and worship its divine possibility.

advice · challenge · experience · inspiration · life · self help · society · truth · Uncategorized

Getting Real about derealization

I know what it feels like to be dead while I’m still alive. I’ve lost my sense of self and connection to this world more times than I can count. I want to share my story in case anyone out there has experienced the same thing, and we can support each other.

As long as I can remember I have experienced depression. I grew up in a very chaotic, stressful, upsetting, and damaging environment and I cried myself to sleep a good amount of it. I was constantly surrounded by emotional abuse, whether between my parents, or my other family members, and it turned me into an adult with a strong outer core, but a crippling mess on the inside. I have never fully processed everything I heard and saw as a child, and because of it I have anxiety about random things like spending money and loud noises, recurrent depression and loneliness, and a fear of abandonment. The year I turned sixteen was the worst year of my life, as my mom was forced to leave our house and she moved far away with her boyfriend at the time. I was lost, heartbroken, and an emotional wreck. My older sister was always at her boyfriend’s house and my dad worked at night, so after I came home from school I cried a solid six hours daily, collapsing on the ground and struggling to breathe while my dog stood by my side in confusion. I could barely sleep, and every night I laid in my bed praying an airplane would crash through the roof and kill me. Luckily I was too scared to kill myself, but several times I tried to choke myself and scratch my arms bloody. I had too much pain deep down in me, and no one to talk to, as my sister was never home, my dad and I had a broken relationship, and I didn’t feel like I could go to my friends for support. I suffered in silence, and I regret that everyday.

When I moved away for college, I felt like I was pushing away all of the family problems that were waiting at home, but whenever I came home for the weekend they came back. My family relied on me as their emotional backbone, and every problem had to go through me before getting resolved. As a result, I lived under extreme stress and when I had to go home, I often sobbed either on the drive there or back. Added into that was the fact that I received no financial help from my family since I was sixteen, so the $40+ in gas to come home gave me a mental breakdown. I have worked so hard since I got my first job at sixteen, but my money has dwindled away so I could buy the necessities like food and school supplies that my friends’ parents all provided them. I grew angry towards my family, for cursing me with financial and emotional instability and I knew I had lasting mental health issues from the years of untreated pain. When I was bullied by my first-ever roommates in college and contemplated dropping out of school, I finally sought help from the free counseling at school. It was nice to talk to someone, but overall I do not feel like these services provide anything revolutionary. The next semester was better, and I stopped the services.

My sophomore year in college was the worst of my college years for mental health. Because I have two majors, I had a 19-credit semester and an 18-credit semester, and those coupled with my numerous involvements on campus meant I left my dorm at 8am and did not return until 10 or 11pm Monday through Thursday. My roommates were often laughing and enjoying themselves when I got back and had yet to start my homework. My sleep suffered, and I did not feel like myself. I spread myself way too thin, and I learned my lesson. It was also in this year that I stopped smoking weed after a traumatic incident where I got too high, had a panic attack, almost called 9-11, and felt high for weeks after. I think this may have triggered the main topic of this post, derealization and depersonalization (DR/DP). This year I again sought out counseling services for the tremendous stress I was dealing with, and I also asked to do an assessment for bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety, of which the tests determined I had none. I tried to talk to my counselor about DR/DP, but she told me it was all in my head. I felt invalidated and tried to pray it away.

My summers have involved traveling for the past three years now, and that is always good for me, because being in my dad’s house on breaks brings my depression back full force. Old family pictures feel awkward and unfitting, and our large house filled with old things no one cares about and not enough love to go around brings me to the brink of sadness. My relationship with my parents is a lot healthier now, but for me nostalgia is like a ton of bricks dropping on me: it has weight, and it comes with a lot of pain. Things were decent when I was really young, but most of my memories aren’t positive. Every time I travel to a new place, I feel DR/DP for a while, until I’m adjusted.

My junior year I spent the first semester abroad, which was incredible, but I was also in a committed relationship, so it was very difficult at first. I was too attached to my romantic partner, and found myself hyperventilating and bawling my eyes out for the first month, until I made myself numb about it. The second semester I came back and thought the pain of missing my partner would be gone, but my attachment intensified, like I wanted to keep him close so that would never happen again. I became distant with many of my friends from before I went abroad, and my only source of happiness was my boyfriend. I sought a counselor for codependency, and he gave me some techniques for grounding and ways to create a healthy relationship. I continued to struggle with DR/DP, and didn’t even bother to mention it to this counselor.

This brings me to today. I have been stuck in this episode of DR/DP for over a week, which happens quite frequently and which I have never been able to defeat. It defeats me. DR/DP makes me feel like I am high, but worse. There is no joy, there is no love, there is no happiness. Bodily sensations like pain, having to use the bathroom, and hunger seem distant, and I can ignore them if I want. I would starve myself when I’m in an episode, but I fear I’d get too sick and throw up. The worst part about it is that life doesn’t stop. I have to go to work, keep plans with friends, drive places, etc. even though I feel like I’m asleep.The only thing I want to do when I’m like this is sleep. I could stare at something all day. I’m not myself at all. I can’t smell, taste, or feel emotionally or physically. It is, in an essence, being dead. I imagine it is worse than death though. There is no meaning to life when I’m in this state. Sometimes it lasts for days, sometimes for weeks, but it always comes back and there’s nothing I can do to make it go away.

I’ve sought online support, and it has helped validate this and let me know that many, many other people go through this too, but I have yet to find a professional who can help me. School counselors are either unknowledgeable or unqualified, and everywhere else is too expensive. DR/DP is caused by extreme anxiety, or a traumatic panic attack, and it could be both for me. Recently I have dealt with anxiety more than ever before, and panic attacks for no apparent reason. My mind is a dark and twisted place, and I cannot figure it out. I tried to seek help in Los Angeles, but because my health insurance isn’t from this state, I couldn’t get free counseling. I don’t know where else to turn. Mental health services should not be this hard to come by. People die slow and painful deaths due to mental illness, and if this continued to go untreated, I will be in the same boat. I have so much passion for life, but having an unexplained and untreated mental illness takes every ounce of passion out of me and convinces me I am a machine that lives my life on autopilot. That’s the reality of derealization and depersonalization. It sucks the life from you. My DR/DP is worse than my depression and anxiety combined. It’s like living in purgatory with no way out but to silently suffer. I have only dared to tell a few people about this, because I’m scared many will think I’m insane. Even a counselor thought i was over exaggerating. But I’m tired of having to pretend like everything is okay when I talk to friends. I want to help end the stigma of mental illness by being completely transparent about my lifelong struggles with emotional instability. This won’t help it go away, but it will give me a sense of freedom to not hide what I go through on a daily basis. That’s too exhausting, and not fair to myself.

I truly hope I can find some treatment for anxiety, which will hopefully cure my DR/DP. There are many success stories online, but everyone is different, and I’ve been going through this so long that I have no hope. I will keep looking though, and I hope everyone suffering inside does the same. Don’t give up on yourself just because it feels like everyone else has given up.

If anyone thinks of me differently now, then they must accept the fact that this is the real me. We can’t pretend to not suffer, because it encourages other people to stay silent too, and suffering in silence is self-destruction. If someone can’t accept that lately I have had more days with panicking, crying, numbness, confusion, and sadness than without, then they can’t accept me wholly.

If anyone out there is going through something similar, don’t hesitate to reach out. We must care for each other in this society that treats mental illness like a burden.

 

Rapper Logic has opened up about his struggle with derealization disorder.

challenge · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · love · poetry · positivity · self help · society · support · truth · Uncategorized · writing

Lifted

Some would say I’m floating on a cloud

Because convention means nothing to me

I will save every penny

So I can afford to live my fantasy

Every day is a brick to build my dream house

And I am tired of hearing that

My youth dictates my naivety

That all of my experiences amount to nothing

Because I don’t have a trail of debts following me

That life will suddenly catch up to me

And I will find myself in your shoes.

But with all of the intentional decisions I have made-

Why do you think I will suddenly lose my autonomy

And forsake all I have worked for

To live a life of safety?

There is nothing within me begging for comfort

I force myself into discomfort so that with squirming I grow

I scare myself straight so that nothing may scare me

I experiment with life so that I find what feels right

Trusting my instincts in the path that I take,

And knowing that nothing is enough to be the end of my fate

Nothing is so threatening that I will succumb

To the societal forces that drive others numb

There is no living on a cloud when you come to accept

life is built from dreams when you take concrete steps

towards passion and purpose and a generous path

in which you unfold with joy and others can laugh

sharing in how life rarely goes as planned

but if you continue seeking better, in a paradise you’ll land

with contentment and success in the deepest sense

not a pawn in the mundane game, but forever blessed

embodying the living in life and accepting nothing less

than the fruits of your labor and lovingness

for all aspects of living a life of cold truth

that may pain you to follow but to which you must commit

that’s why I’m vowing when I’m young to never submit

to the easiest path of instant gratification

my dreams are worth more than an occasional vacation

I will build my dream life so there is no need for escaping.

challenge · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · love · poetry · positivity · self help · society · tips · truth · Uncategorized

On forgiveness

There is more to be earned from forgiveness than from bitterness.

I was once a burning-bridges type of human

The one that feels the sting of rejection and malintent

And cannot forget it.

And cuts ties to reduce the persistent pain.

But I have learned there is much to lose from not forgiving.

Even if I have loved more, given more, been more for the other person,

They may still have something genuine to offer

It is enchanting: the power of pushing away what has proven difficult

But what bewitches me more these days is the idea of not how others can improve

But how I can improve, for one

Doling out more chances for imperfect humans

To provide some sort of shelter for us both

Sometimes the strongest bonds are also the most volatile

And other times, if a mountain of energy is gifted for little to no return

It is time to let them go.

But one should know

Only after trying, really trying,

To form something real-

Because deep below the surface, profoundly, within all of us, exists

A desire to connect and an obscured ability to do so

So maybe all our comrades need is a reminder

That the effort is worth it

That their humanness means something to you.

challenge · experience · inspiration · society · Uncategorized

The case for more conscious rap

**Trigger warning: sexual assault**

Conscious rap is a term that describes rap that aims to impart knowledge on listeners and has a higher meaning than other rap. For some, it’s a preference. I believe it is necessary.

As I explore more rap, the more I discover its damaging aspects. First, there’s the misogyny. This is so much of an issue that there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to it.

Tied to this misogyny is the disgusting usage of rape as a joke. Tyler the Creator rapped about raping a pregnant woman in “Tron Cat.” Eminem says in “No Favors,” “I sodomize like an ass-raper.” These two artists continuously promote sexual assault and abuse with their lyrics, and it’s not something we can laugh off.

Sexual assault should not be mentioned in a song unless it’s to raise awareness for the alarming rate of it. (See: Lady Gaga’s “Til it Happens to You” from the Hunting Ground)

As rap becomes more popular with young listeners, the more damaging its overt talk of drugs, crime, and sex becomes. For young men, it’s encouraging. For young women, it’s threatening.

I don’t have a problem with explicit lyrics, but I do have a problem with misogyny and the glamorization of drugs and crime as attributes of success.

I will be the first to admit that I do listen to problematic rap. My favorite rapper, Kanye West, while “conscious” in many ways, is also famed for his misogynistic lyrics (“I made that bitch famous”). I still believe the rap world needs more conscious rappers. Rappers like Kendrick, Logic, Raury, and Cole address social problems and use the attention they receive to educate the public on things that matter. And while they aren’t without their flaws, I recognize their efforts to address social issues and use their art to promote a positive message. I worry that other rappers have strayed from their original intent to do the same.

Rap has been a heterosexual male-dominated genre since it originated, and time is well overdue to bring justice to women and LGBTQ+ individuals. It’s already hard enough for anyone other than straight men to succeed in the game, and to succeed female rappers typically must either masculinize themselves enough to be on par with male rappers, or sexualize themselves enough to receive their validation. Justice is long overdue for women and queer folks in music. The continued exploitation of sexual assault in rap is threatening to their well- being and provides an overall unwelcoming environment for their success.

It’s time to open the world of rap to more social consciousness. As more and more citizens become engaged with social justice, they will no longer tolerate ignorance in their music. Artists needs to catch up to the times. I don’t believe all rap needs to be conscious rap, but all rap should be free of blatantly irresponsible lyrics. If you’re going to rap, say something worth listening to that doesn’t demean anyone.

While conscious rap is on the rise, with albums like All Amerikkkan Badass by Joey Bada$$ and Everybody by Logic addressing the current political sphere, there remains a large portion of rap that continues to perpetuate not only negative, but destructive ideas. Rap may be free from clean language, but it should not be a free-for-all where all ethics go out the window. Rappers receive ample attention and fame, and they should use their influence to advance knowledge. When they promote negative ideas, their artistry is trashed and the name of rap is defamed. Rap has deep roots in protest culture and pride in one’s identity. A return to this will not only appeal to more listeners, it will help empower the public to continue fighting for justice.

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Conscious rap selections, from top to bottom: Logic’s Everybody, Joey Bada$$’s All Amerikkkan Badass, Childish Gambino’s CAMP, and Vic Mensa’s There’s A Lot Going On