Stop Derek from Being Homeless

https://www.gofundme.com/dereksnewhome

A few weeks ago I received an eviction from the people I rent a room from to be out of here by the end of the month. It was unexpected and unfounded. I’ve been a great tenant, paying my rent on time. I’ve come to find out that they want someone else to move in. Now they’re trying to push up my move out date by a week, which has left me scrambling for a new place to live. As it stands now the only option I have is to go live in a homeless shelter. I’m trying to raise enough money to help pay my rent (for my own place) until my SSI court date in Feb next year.
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I’m disabled and unable to work. I’m waiting for a court date for SSI disability, which will be Feb 2017. I’m hoping to raise enough money to get me through until that date. I’ve suffered from major depression disorder and PTSD most of my life. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t suffered from depression and PTSD. When I have a PTSD episode friends/family become strangers and strangers become enemies. It’s like being in a war zone. My current living situation has pushed me to my limit, as the last few months have been extremely stressful living here.

Stability is something I’ve never had and something I’m so desperate for. Being able to get my own place would bring that into my life. Lately I’ve made an effort to better my life. I’ve consistently been in therapy and on medicine since 2013, as well as seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve recently moved all my services to this county and having to move out of this town would put my health at risk.

I have a new therapist who I love. She’s working on a new treatment for those with PTSD called EMDR. It’s helps the patient to reprogram traumatic events into more healthy ways. I’ve finally taken my life back after four years of complete hell. In 2012, my Mom died from cancer causing me to spiral into a deep, dark depression. It’s taken me four years but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’ve come to terms with my disablity and now realize that I need to treat it like diabetes.

I’ve tried to do this on my own and that doesn’t work. So I’m asking for help. I’m so very scared to be homeless. I’ve made a lot of progress the last few months and I want to keep moving forward. I’ve also started to embrace my art again by working on a new comic book. My passion for art has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Having my own place would give me a safe space to create new works of art.

I’ve suffered for too long and finally realize that I deserve better. I’m taking my life back and I’m determined to get my own place. No matter what is thrown at me I don’t let it keep me down. Every time a hurdle is placed in front of me I clear it. I will keep climbing this mountain until I get a home of my own. While the last two months have been some of the worst times in my life it has helped me find an inner strength that I didn’t know was there. All this time I thought I was broken but I always rebound. Then it dawned on me through all the bad things in my life I’m still here. I’m strong as steel.

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story. Please consider sharing this campaign with everyone you know.

Here are some of my recent sketches of my comic book. Also follow my facebook page for DragZilla! DragZilla is the story of a gay man brutally attacked because he’s gay. He cries out for help and in his hour of need a glimmer of light appears. A goddess like entity, who goes by the name Glimmer, transforms him into a drag queen superhero. He starts off his journey to find justice for his attack but in the process becomes a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community. I’m really excited to have started work on this new project of mine. Having my own place would help me bring to life DragZilla!

Making the Impossible, Possible: The Journey to Triumph

Re-Visions Event in NYC

Creating the Tree of Spectacle Triumph has been a journey from start to finish. Just like life creating the sculpture wasn’t easy by any means. Creating this beautiful tree tested my patience, stamina and will. I jumped through hoops and didn’t let roadblocks prevent me from pushing forward. That’s the message in my story is to persevere regardless of what is thrown at you.

This journeyEdit_IMGL3627 started last fall when I entered my rose sculpture in ArtPrize, an international art competition in Grand Rapids, MI. When registration started for ArtPrize I debated entering due to the registration fee. I kept getting messages that doors would open. The messages started off as a whisper but eventually turned into a roar. I really feel my Mom was behind the messages. Even after I registered I kept getting the same message. A month after ArtPrize ended I received an email about a possible commission for an eyewear manufacturer in New York using eyewear material in the piece.

treeoflifeupdatedWhen thinking about a proposal I thought about what I wanted to create. At first I struggled. Then I thought about this tree I first started to create over ten years ago. It started off as an oil painting where half the tree was alive and the other half was dead. It represented the best parts of ourselves and the pain that we endure. The living part was the phoenix that rose from the ashes. It’s taken me many years to realize that I’m not my pain or troubles. The Tree of Triumph is my best, true self.

The inspiration for the original tree was a lilac bush that grew next to my family home. It was my pride and joy. In the spring the sweet fragrance would float throughout my home. I loved that lilac bush. Next to the lilac bush was an old corncrib. One day my father decided he was going to tear the corncrib down. Not only did he tear it down he set it ablaze. The flame was so hot that it bubbled the paint on the siding of the house. You could feel the heat inside the house. The flames were higher than our house.

Once the flames had dissipated all that was left of the lilac bush was a charred out skeleton of what use to be a beautiful, vibrant living creature. I was devastated. My father on the other hand acted like it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a bush to him, not important. He just brushed off my tears like it was nothing.

I thought all was lost. Spring wasn’t the same without those purple, fragrant blooms. The blackened skeleton was a reminder of the hurt my father caused. What I couldn’t see were the roots deep within the ground. Years later they arose from the ashes and life had sprouted again. It took some time but eventually the lilac bush grew to four times the size of its former self. It took a big portion of my adult life to realize the moral of the story.

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You can destroy my branches. You can knock me to the ground but you’ll never reach my roots. The roots represented my heart, soul and spirit. It was the first time I regained the power that I allowed others to take. No amount of hurt or pain will reach my soul. So it’s significant that the heart of the tree is surrounded by the roots.

I submitted my proposal and patiently waited for an answer. The date given passed and still no word. I had started to think I wasn’t selected. Another few weeks went by and finally I received word that I was one of seven artists selected. I was beyond ecstatic. My sculpture was going to be displayed during an art show in New York City. It was a dream come true. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Creating a sculpture using unconventional materials is a complicated, challenging process. It was my first sculpture of this size. The final sculpture was over four feet tall and four feet long. The next six months pushed me to my limit and tested my will. Creating the bark was a very tedious process of hot gluing small piece of frame onto the skeleton which was pvc. This wasn’t your typical glue gun. It was a professional glue gun that carpenters use with temperatures going past 400 degrees. Due to the intricate aspect of the branches, the quick harden time of the glue and the small frame pieces I had to use my hands to attach the pieces. So you probably can guess what occurred fairly frequently. I’m surprised I still have feelings in my hands.

Creating sculptures out of unconventional materials is very physically demanding and the tree was no different. There were times that my hands, arms and legs were covered in burns, scratches and cuts. It looked like I had been a fight with a cat and lost. Towards the end I had so many cuts on my hand that it became very painful to use my hands but I pushed through. Reaching through the branches felt like I was reaching through a briar patch.branches

There were aspects to the tree that were very tedious. Creating the bark was a very lengthy process. At times it felt like I was never finish it. Imagine gluing small pieces of frame to a large area. It was so tedious that it gave me panic attacks. Creating the leaves were also very tedious process due to the number of lenses needed to fill the space. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take over 3,000 lenses. Most of these were treated and hand painted. I then had to hang each one to the branches and that part took forever.

Creating the Tree of Triumph meant bringing my inner demons into the light. The tree represented my best self and the darkness was ruthless in trying to stop me. There were times I couldn’t even look at the sculpture because there were parts of me that still believed that I didn’t deserved it. I faced the darkness and once again pushed through.

The tough part of creating a sculpture out of unconventional material is that for a big portion of the time creating it there isn’t a clear defined picture of what the final picture will be. It’s not until the end that you start to see the picture. It wasn’t until I started to add the leaves that I was finally able to see what I had envisioned. It’s amazing how quickly the final picture comes to the surface. It’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

The art that I create is very time consuming. I like to create little biodomes. My specialty is creating creatures out of the unconventional materials. A part of the design included a little girl swinging from the tree which was based off my seven year old niece. I also included one of the creatures (the frog) from my rose sculpture. It was my way to honor where the tree came from. If it wasn’t for the rose I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity.

Connie 236The creation of the tree was a family event. My nieces and nephew helped me paint lenses. My seven year old niece was quite the helper. She would come down frequently asking if I needed any help. My sister was my sounding board. Many of the decisions like not painting the bark came from her.  My brother in law was my technical expert and made sure the sculpture was secure during the long trip in a Uhaul to NYC. I couldn’t have created the sculpture without their help so it was really important to make them a part of tree. I had them each sign a lense and put it on the tree. It was my way of honoring their contributions and support. While they couldn’t be there with me in NYC they were definitely there in spirit.

Original Sculpture

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During this whole experience I have felt a strong connection to my Mom to the point where I would turn around thinking she was there. She was one of the person I turned to as a sounding board and I found myself physically turning to her thinking she was there. I strongly believed she brought me this opportunity.

I thought that challenging aspect was done but boy was I ever wrong. Originally it was my understanding that the sculpture would be crated. With over 3,000 lenses the sculpture was extremely heavy, at least over 200 pounds. The shipper just wanted to bubble wrap it and cover it with a furniture pad, and throw it on the truck.

cocoontreeI had spent the past six months (over 1500 hours) in creating this beautiful creature and I wasn’t about to let it get broken. I put my heart and soul into this tree. It had became a part of me because the tree represented me. I became a part of this tree and it a part of me. When I had the idea of driving it to New York City it never dawned on me how rough of a ride a Uhaul moving van is. Thankfully my brother in law came up with a system that would keep the sculpture secure in the back of the Uhaul. He attached it to a pallet and then boxed it in between the wheel wells. Finally he secured it by attaching a 2×4 to each side.

The trip was only suppose to take 10.5 hours. The client wanted it at their location at 5pm. I made sure to leave enough time for stops, etc. I had tried to fall asleep the night before but with the nerves and excitement I wasn’t able to. So I left for NYC with only 4 hours of sleep in 48 hours. I left at 4am. About 5 hours into my trip I started to become very sleepy to the point where I struggled to keep my eyes open. I did everything possible to stay awake including blaring the music and turning the air on full blast. Anyone who’s driven on highway 80 through Pennsylvania knows that the terrain is very hilly and rough. Imagine driving on it when you’re majorly sleep deprived. On top of all the hills there are many drop offs. It got to the point where I couldn’t even look at them as they made me seasick.DSCF8390

Around the fifth hour I was pulled over by a cop. He said I had went over the white line and wanted to make sure I was okay. He ended up being really cool but it just added to the nerves of the trip. Anyone who has ever driven a Uhaul knows it’s like driving a boat.

I had downed a red bull, a Starbucks cold drink and several Mountain Dews in the hopes that it would keep me awake. About into the seventh hour I went into this sleep deprived state where I felt like everything around me was warped. It was like I was on this major trip. It felt like the mountains were coming at me both in fast forward and slow motion all at once.

Towards to what I thought was the end of the trip I started to count down the hours. I counted down the hours to help comfort me. The last two hours I started to become so tired I wasn’t sure I could make it but I knew they were expecting me and I couldn’t let them down. So I continued to push through.

Eye of the Tiger came on the radio and it helped give me the steam needed to finish the trip. I finally got to New Jersey during rush hour mind you. At this point I was so tired that I was wired. I continued to count down the time until Manhatten came into sight.

Finally I could see the city. I wasn’t ever so happy to see a city landscape. It was around 5pm when I drove into the city limits, so you can imagine how crazy it was. The traffic went from a slow pace to a crawl. I was stuck in a traffic jam. I was only 15 minutes away from my destination and only one mile from my next exit which was the Lincoln tunnel. What I didn’t know that there was an accident up ahead.lincoln+tunnel+traffic

It took over ten minutes to move .05 of a mile, if that. Anyone that’s driven in a major city knows that traffic jams are inevitable. About an hour into the traffic jam I started to lose hope in getting to my destination in a timely matter. I had already missed my time to drop off the sculpture. At this point I just wanted to get to the dinner that evening with all the artists but as the time crept by I realized there was no way I was going to make it. All of a sudden I hear this bang. Someone rear ended me. I was like great how can this day get any worse. Thankfully there was no damage to the Uhaul and the only damage to his vehicle was to his license plate which was bent in half on the ground. How does one hit a huge moving truck with the brake lights on and stopped???

Finally after four hours in the traffic jam I was back on track. At this point I thought the plan was for me to go to the hotel and drop off the sculpture in the morning but when I contacted the client I was told that it needed to be delivered tonight. I was told if it wasn’t delivered tonight it wouldn’t be in the show. The next thirty minutes I pretty much circled time square over and over in a Uhaul. I was starting to panic. Imagine driving a huge truck at 11pm at night in Time Square. I was sure I was going to hit something or someone. There were people all over. They crossed the streets in mobs like ants out of a ant hill. Eventually I said heck with it and started driving like a mad man.time-squares-at-night-wallpaper-2

I finally made it. I should have known the night wasn’t going to get any easier. Earlier I had a bad feeling. There was one point during the traffic jam where I almost turned around to head home. When I opened the back of the truck the first thing said was it’s not going to fit. I could also tell they really didn’t want to have to move the sculpture. I have always been upfront with them on the size and weight.

We get the sculpture into the main lobby and I’m dumbfounded when I see the elevator. The door was extremely narrow. I honestly never saw an elevator so small. There was some discussion about getting the sculpture into the elevator. Someone suggested leaving it in the lobby. I wish I had pushed for that. I was informed that they learned the day before that the freight elevator was broken.

My sculpture was at least four feet tall and four feet across. The elevator door couldn’t been bigger than three feet across. I suggested angling the sculpture into the elevator. They got the sculpture in the elevator but getting it out was another story. I couldn’t watch them try to get it out. I honestly was done with the whole situation so I sat in the conference room knowing something bad was going to happen. Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine what I would walk into…

Every branch was broken and lying at the base of the sculpture. They had tried to fix it by shoving branches into the wrong holes. They basically decapitated the tree. It was like they dropped it from the top of the building. I was in complete shock. In just a matter of minutes they had destroyed something that took 1500 hours to complete. Until you see the pictures of the demolished piece you can’t begin to understand how badly it was broken. In a sculpture that size a strong foundation and structure is crucial in securing the piece. Individually plastic lenses don’t weigh that much but when you use thousands of them they become very heavy.

Broken Sculpture

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On top of them destroying something I put my heart and soul into I wasn’t treated very well. One of the employees started to take his frustrations out on me, accusing me of lying about being stuck in the traffic jam. I was dumbfounded by the whole situation. If I wasn’t so out of it and delirious I would have never let them put it in that small elevator. After spending over twenty hours in a Uhaul my night ended with them doing the worst thing you can do to an artist. I was told that they could fix it. I didn’t have a lot of faith. We agreed to come back the next day which was the day of the event.

I didn’t get checked into my hotel until 1am. Thankfully my good friend lives in New York City and came over to my hotel. I don’t think anyone would have questioned if I did have a meltdown but I was surprisingly calm. I obviously was upset but I didn’t let it destroy me. Prior to my Mom passing away I would have totally turned into Chicken Little. I posted on Facebook that the breaking of my sculpture didn’t even make my top ten list of bad things that had happened to me. When my friend left I had accepted that my sculpture was destroyed. I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to show a broken piece.

After I had dropped the Uhaul off in the Bronx I headed to the office. I wasn’t sure what I was going to walk into. I had four hours to salvage my piece. The event started at 7pm. Thankfully one of the employees was experienced with construction and offered to help me put it back together. I had used pvc to build the structure. When they broke the piece they not only broke apart the branches they broke the connecting pieces. So you couldn’t just connect pieces anymore because there was big chunks missing.

Thankfully I had packed my glue gun and brought a lot of supplies just in case. If I hadn’t brought my glue gun I’m not sure we could have put it back together because we used the glue to connect the pieces together. After a few hours he was able to rebuild the structure the best he could. There were still three main branches that we couldn’t put back together which left a lot of holes. I had put a lot of effort in creating the shape of the tree.

When I finished the sculpture I was relieved to be done. I had very little energy left in me. I felt accomplished for finishing it but I was also relieved to not have to work on it again. So once again I was forced to give more than I had and rebuild something that took countless hours to create. I got on the floor and began to work my magic which again meant burning myself with that boiling hot glue.

I worked on the sculpture until the very last minute. I did what I could to rebuild it. Most everything on the sculpture had something wrong with it. The wire butterflies were bent out of shape. The iris was broken, so was the dragonfly and girl. Thankfully the damages to the creatures were minor and I was able to fix them.

We had done the impossible and was able to put back together the broken pieces. The salvaged sculpture was a lot more rough and exposed than before. The shape of the tree was also drastically altered. I was relieved to have a finished piece to show. There wasn’t anything else I could do.

Salvaged Sculpture

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The event was amazing. I met so many wonderful people, many who had no idea that earlier that day it was a broken mess. I wove the whole experience into the theme of the piece. It’s not coincidental that of all the pieces that were broken the roots weren’t touched. I was able to weave what happened into the story of the piece which many of the guests at the event were able to connect to. I talked to many people who themselves also had moments in their life when they felt broken. Without the sculpture breaking I’m not sure the impact would have been as strong.

It was very symbolic that the sculpture was broken. The theme of the piece is resiliency, rising above the difficult times in our lives. There have been times in my life that I have felt just like that broken sculpture. When something traumatic happens we are forced to pick up the broken pieces.brokentree14

While I wouldn’t want to relive this experience ever again there is a part of me that is glad that it happened. It was a major confidence boost. I could have given up. I could have thrown a fit. I could have went home with my tail between my legs but I didn’t. I pushed forward and didn’t let anyone stand in my way of getting what I wanted and deserved. There have been many times I have cowered down in defeat. This wasn’t one of those moments. This was my moment of triumph.

Like the tree I was strong. Stronger than anything that ever happened to me. You can cut my branches. You can cut my bark. You can even knock me to the ground. You’ll never reach my roots and I will always rise from the ashes.

I’m not alone. There are so many people out in the world who themselves feel broken. After my Mom died I wasn’t sure I could go on. It felt so broken that I didn’t believe I could be put back together. That’s why my sculpture breaking wasn’t really a big deal because I had already gone through something a million times worse. This was nothing. It was also out of my control. I couldn’t bring my Mom back, neither could I undo my sculpture breaking.

The sculpture breaking just added to the depth of the piece. It multiplied the strength of the piece exponentially. The Tree of Triumph is confirmation that the impossible is possible. We are never truly broken as our soul always remains in tact. No power or force will ever reach that. So say what you want to me, it won’t hurt or affect me.

So many people have been apart of this journey. This has been the best part of this experience. I have received so much love and support it’s lifted me up from depression and my troubles. It has proved that I deserve so much more. Losing sight of your dreams makes for a very dreary world. This journey has proved that our dreams can come true. Just keep moving forward. Even at a snail’s pace you’ll reach your destination. Our trials and tribulations make us into who we are today. I wouldn’t have been able to handle this journey if I walked down an easy road.

Check out my new artist website:  http://www.derekstephens.net

Progress Pictures

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Depression Fog

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I wish people who have never suffered from depression could just for one day experience the crippling fog that comes from depression. The fog that so thick and dense that you have to take a jackhammer just to make any dent into that billowing, pea soup like fog. It’s not just a fog but an enormous spiderweb as well constantly pulling at your limbs like a spider to a fly.

Just for one day… They could know what it’s like to wake up and feel like you they’re chained to a million bricks. They would hear the voices piercing into their brain one dirty word at a time. Loser. Idiot. Pathetic. Ugly. Failure. Bad. A world where your loved ones become strangers and strangers become predators… Anyone and everyone can cause harm to you… just for one day.

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Just for one day I wish they would have that cloud follow them wherever they go… constantly storming and flooding their world. The tears they suffocate their wounds. Have the sunshine always be at reach but never able to get there.

Just for one day I want them to be surrounded by the naysayers in a tight, stuffy room who constantly yell at them to get over it. Over and over again… Until it seeps into their consciousness. They can hear the thoughts in everyone’s heads thinking things like “oh they’re just lazy” or “they’re doing it all for attention”… just for one day…

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Just for one day may you feel so numb that you’re not able to move. Beyond nothingness. No matter how hard you try to can’t wake up. Deep in a coma but still you’re awake. A zombie just floating on by like a balloon in the sky… You long to feel again… just for one day…

Just for one day will you wish you could be numb again to extinguish all the intense feeling of pain, a roller coaster ride of emotions full of loop de loops. Feelings so deep and raw that you are convinced you’re dying… but alive you remain… May you feel like you’re constantly running in slow motion, while the world around you spins in fast forward… just for one day…

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Just for one day I wish they could feel the deep levels of suffering we feel, from the deep levels of hell to the high peaks of the heavens. May they feel the level of hopelessness and helplessness that feels that’s never ending. May they feel all alone, even when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people. A loneliness that will haunt you for eternity… just for one day…

Just for one day I wish that all they could think about ending the pain and feeling like death is the only solution to their never ending suffering. When they look outside their eyelids may they only see pitch black darkness and a silence that will make you go mad… just for one day…

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Just for one day may they lose everything they’ve ever had and ever wanted… the people they loved and the dreams they had… their possessions, their valuables and their memories… May they have everyone look and treat them differently like they’ve got the plague… just for one day…

Just for one day may they feel like a prisoner in their own home, in their own body. Where everything is danger, even leaving your bed. Their mind becomes their personal cell and all they can hear are the shadows and fears. Everythings a struggle even brushing their teeth. One inch feels like a million miles and the outside is a dangerous place. Everywhere they turn fear is there waiting. Like this red eyed monster waiting to swallow you whole… just for one day…

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Just for one day… will you understand what it’s like to endure life living with this deep, dark fog constantly following me wherever I go. To feel it’s relentless energy barking at your heels waiting for you to fall, so that it can pull you under and back into the dark… just for one day…

Just for one day… I wish I could get away from this fog and live life free… from the pain and suffering of it all… from the chains that bind me… to the words that restrict me… and the fears that hide me…

But I would never inflict or wish this upon my greatest enemy… to know the pain it causes… the toll of it’s loss… it’s unbearable… even just for one day…

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The Difference a Year Makes

It’s been a while since I have wrote on my blog. I just passed my one year anniversary of my suicide attempt and I have been reflecting on the last year. While I can’t say that I’m happy I can say that I’m in a better place mentally than I was a year ago. While I still struggle with depression it’s not as extreme and when I do have a flair up the episodes don’t last as long.

Someone asked me what changed things? I must admit I struggled with answering it and I still do. I think the biggest difference is taking an antidepressant, as well as therapy. I’m in the process of trying to find work and as scary as that is I’m ready to have purpose again. You can only hide for so long before you go stir crazy and that’s where I’m currently at.

I think the main reason I struggled answering the question of what changed is that I’m still in the process of changing as I haven’t got to the point where I’m happy. I must admit most of the time I’m miserable. I hide in my room a lot and I know that’s not very healthy. I miss having friends that I regularly see and do fun things with. That’s the struggle with living out in the middle of no where there’s nothing to do or see. It also presents a problem when meeting someone as most people don’t want to drive that far. Also not having a car puts a damper in going the distance.

I’ve learned once you get yourself in a deep hole it takes time to dig out of it. I’m learning to work on my patience and having faith. Having a job will be a huge step to my happiness. They say money doesn’t make you happy but not having any can make you miserable. A job will lead to a car and a car will lead to meeting new people…

I won’t lie that I still occasionally think about you know what… but it’s usually a quick passing thought when I’m feeling rather down. I’ve noticed lately having this coping skill of taking deep breaths when I’m feeling panicky or rather down. It’s been occurring rather naturally without thought. I also feel a stronger presence to my Mama. When I take those deep breaths I feel like she’s there with me.

A long time ago I learned to disconnect to cope with trauma. When you repeat a pattern over and over, year after year it becomes apart of you. Changing that pattern isn’t an easy task as it becomes hard wired in the clockworks of your mind. I’ve failed over and over but I never gave up. I made the conscious choice to reach out for help when I had the pills up to my mouth. I desperately needed help and that was the only way I could connect to it.

When you’ve been disconnected for a long period the harder the impact when you plug yourself back into an outlet. I’ve tried over the past nine years to get plugged back in but every time I would get shocked and run back into seclusion. Living a heart-centered life can get you hurt, especially if you don’t have a solid foundation and a toolbox of coping skills. That’s been my greatest flaw. I have tried to build a life on a flimsy foundation and an empty toolbox.

This weekend I took a leap of faith by entering an art competition called ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have always been artistic in some form or another. It’s always been my dream to have a career that I can utilize my creativity but I’ve always shied away from pursuing it because I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I put off registering for ArtPrize for days as I was afraid. Afraid of succeeding, afraid of being seen. Being a survivor of sexual abuse there’s a fine line between being seen and not being seen. I think about when I abused I was a happy child full of life and love. I was vulnerable. I catch myself still feeling like I’m that 10 year old boy still. I must remind myself that not only am I an adult now but that was a long time ago. I no longer have to hide because I can defend myself. All these years I’ve been the first to stand up for others but have rarely stood up for myself. I’ve waited a lifetime for others to stand up for me… when it was me that needed to stand up.

Registering for ArtPrize felt like running through the finish line. I’ve forced myself to not only look fear right in the eyes but to also push right through it. Fear is like a ghost. It’s just an illusion and much smaller than it appears. The further you push it away the bigger it becomes until one day that ghost turns into a monster and takes total control of your life. Whenever you try to change a destructive, negative pattern it will alert an internal warning system. That ghost will do whatever it takes to keep control.

So it’s doesn’t surprise me that today has been a rather difficult day. I had the sky is falling moment and my urges were telling to me to abort the mission and run back into hiding. I’ve noticed this determination to not give up. Perseverance to push through the storm. You can only put up with enough misery before you throw your hands up in the air and say that’s enough!!! Well THAT’S ENOUGH!!!

I can have my dreams and live a happy life. I deserve, everyone does. My goal is to live life fueled by my passion and live it through my dreams. I know the pain I’ve endured was not in vain there was purpose for it. I hope to be able to use my art and creativity to inspire and touch those who have been in my shoes. Those who feel lost, down and out…. who feel they’ve been left behind and forgotten.

My biggest challenge will be breaking the pattern that I deserved the pain and the actions that caused it. For too long I believed I was this hideous, unloveable monster. While I can’t say that I don’t see and feel that monster but I’m determined to shed that unwanted skin. I have and will always be a teddy bear. Someone who goes through life with an open heart, not afraid to be a big kid. Sure there are things I need to change in my life and most of it is just shedding away the negativity. There is a lot about me that I don’t need to change and that’s what’s deep within… my heart and soul… Those are gifts, not curses.

I believe the biggest thing that’s changed from last year is that I now I have hope for a better life something I didn’t have before my breakdown. I was drowning in my sorrow, pain and grief. Without hope I had no reason to live as all I could see was darkness. Hope has shined a light back into my life. I must continue to work on letting my own inner light shine.

Light is meant to shine, not hide in a box. Human’s are like flowers as they need sunshine and water to grow, without it they will surely wither away to nothing. I had convinced myself for years that I was a just a weed but now that I’ve brought back water and light into my life I realize that I’m a flower. Now I just need a space to grow and blossom into the rose I was meant to be.

The Voices Inside My Head

So I woke up this morning feeling funny/off. Full of negativity. It’s probably cause I had a realization last night about wanting to move on from my current situation. Anytime I have something positive happen to me it’s usually followed by a negative thought or feeling.

So I woke up feeling worthless. It’s funny how the voices inside your head will do anything they can to keep you down. They fight with all your might to keep you from what you deserve.

I’m in this transition where I still have these innate feelings to hide. It also probably doesn’t help that I’ve had little contact with people in the real world. Tonight I actually have plans to go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the theatre and there is a part of me that wants to tell my friends that I can’t go, even though I really want to go. The voices tell me to stay home, that it’s not worth getting out of my comfort zone.

I have to stop listening to these voices. So many times I’ve taken them as fact, when in reality all they are is fiction. Made up stories that I tell myself.

Yesterday I saw the picture below and it might as well have been me, for this is how I see myself… Not beautiful, certainly not sexy. Hideous is more of an accurate way to describe my body. Voices are like fire, the more you feed them with gasoline the more they spread and destroy. They start of as a whisper until they become a roar.

I’ve been at war with myself since my breakdown in May between my healthy and hurt self. The hurt part of me wants to stay in the comfort zone while the healthy side of me wants to move on. The harder I pull the more resistance I get. I guess I just have to let it be. It’s like when you are drowning, the more you thrash around in panic the quicker you’ll sink to the bottom.

I can’t let these voices win, nor give them a stage. Positive reinforcements via repetition will be the key to overcoming these voices. Replacing them with good voices. Saying to myself these voices are not real, nor do I have to listen to them.

My voices are not my reality. Just because I feel I’m ugly doesn’t make it true and that’s just one example. I’ve built my life upon these lies. I’ve tolerated less because I thought that’s all I deserved. I let these voices control me because I believed them, like a child whose abused.

Some people don’t understand how growing up feeling less can impact you as an adult, even I am just getting to the point where I do. I didn’t just turn into this person who hated himself, I grew into this person. I’ve held onto every bad thing everybody has ever said to me and that negativity has ate me alive.

You can have a million people tell you that you are worthy but all it takes is one person to tear you down. As a child that’s all you know. God is a parent in the eyes of a child and when one of them puts you down constantly you think that’s reality. While my Mother gave me love, my father gave me fear. It’s was like a form of brainwashing.

It goes back to if my father didn’t love me, that must mean I am unworthy of his love and if I don’t deserve my fathers love then I’m unlovable. Certainly my love life has mirrored and reinforced those fears. I’ve been blinded by what other’s fears, insecurities and flaws, to the point where they became my own. As a child I had no way to know that my father’s inability to love me had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him. The same goes with anyone in my life who has hurt me deeply.

I have to remind myself that I am no longer that child trapped in that house of lies.

I can build my own house built on the foundation of love. A place that I can call home.

I must realize that I have my own voice and these other voices don’t belong inside of me anymore. I am no longer a child anymore, no longer defenseless. I have the ability to speak up and say NO, even if I have to scream at the top of my lungs!!!

I must do whatever it takes to drown out other people’s voices, stop allowing them to rent out space in my brain. Stop believing and caring about what other people think, feel and believe about me. I mean who gives a fuck, right? So what if someone think’s I’m fat or ugly, that doesn’t make it true. Some people do a great job of projecting their fears and insecurities onto other people. It’s easier to put someone down, than to feel it yourself.

Well I’ve had it, no more. I’m worthy of love. I’m beautiful. I will continue to say these things until they sink in. I’m worthy of love and I’m beautiful. So are you!

I’m worthy… and it’s eviction day for anyone that thinks otherwise. Voices be gone!

 

Ready…

I’m ready for a new start… something different. I’ve been hiding for a long time. It didn’t just start when my Mom died last year, I’ve been doing it for as long as I have known and it’s gotten old…

I’ve put up with a lot in my life and tolerated less in my life. I have had enough and can’t keep tolerating less for myself. Expecting that everyone will let me down and then allowing those feelings from taking risks and putting myself out there. It’s a fact of life that people will let you down, they will hurt you and nothing you can do or say will ever stop that. If you put people up on that pedestal they will always fall.

A long time ago I put other people as my center and no wonder I crumble every time I am hurt!!!

Either way I am harmed. At least when I am out in the world I am enjoying life but staying in this cave just brings me more misery. I think I continue to hide as a way to punish myself. I think the only way I could rationalize certain things happening to me, like the sexual abuse, is that I deserved it. Like why would God let something like this happen to me and the only way I could rationalize it away was that I deserved it.

So I have lived most of my life feeling like I deserved the bad things that happened to me to the point when good things would come into my life I would go running away like I was on fire.

I’ve lived life like a victim.

Now I feel like I have nothing left to lose. I’m ready to move on from the past and all the bad feelings that go along with it. The biggest lesson has been that I deserve a lot more than what I have lived. I’ve allowed other people to hold me back. No one else but me did that. It was me and it will be me who allows wonderfulness back into my life.

Losing my beautiful Mother in a way was a wake up call for me. At first again I thought God was punishing me by taking the one good thing in my life but I realize now it was my Mother’s greatest gift for me. She always saw the best in me, even when I felt the worst.

I’ve realized that I don’t need my Mama to hold me up anymore because I am strong enough to do it on my own. No one can tear me down any longer and I can do whatever I desire… to my heart’s content!

There’s so much I want to do, so much I’ve wanted to do and I’ve realized I can do it all and then some. I just have to let the energy flow and allow the wind to blow me where ever I’m meant to go.

So I have to be patient and understand that everything is a process and getting out of this cave will take some time. I just have to remember that I’m doing what it takes to get out of this darkness once again and hope that the next time I feel like hiding I will fight with all my might to not allow the darkness to pull me under, once again…

A Heavy Heart

So tonight I have a heavy heart, as I am reminded that there are many sad and lonely people in this world… many of them who are dealing with their pain with various addictions such as drugs, alcohol, etc.

Some may wonder what causes a person to turn to suicide or overdosing?  Often times there are warning signs that people either ignore, don’t see or just play off as nothing to serious. Some people don’t want to get involved or just feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say or do…

What causes people to not take a stand for the people they love? Why has our society gotten away from taking care of each other? Out of sight, out of mind…

Asking for help is just a luxury that many people don’t have the ability to do. It is like drowning in water and not being able to reach for the life preserver because it’s too far away. The same implies to reaching out for support. You either feel you don’t deserve the help, feel like you will be judged or just don’t have the courage to ask for help. The deeper you are in that hole, the less likely you will get help.

I was there four months ago. I knew I needed help and was tired of feeling miserable but didn’t have the resources to get the help… I was also deeply depressed which altered my thinking and rationale. I’m thankful that I have never picked up additions to alcohol or drugs because those who do struggle even more. That’s not to say that I don’t self medicate because I do but my drug is food… and sometimes even sex… Thankfully you can’t overdose on food or sex, though you can find yourself in a dangerous situation with both addictions.

In research it’s been shown that gay men are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their pain, as well as suicide… All it takes is growing up in a non-supportive family for you to grow up feeling less. You constantly find yourself trying to run away from it all but you never are successful from shaking off the pain. So you learn to turn to anything you can to drown out the pain.

Personally for me, it’s never that I want to die… I just want the suffering to stop… and when you don’t think that it ever will end, that’s when you start to become reckless with your thoughts and actions… Whenever I hear about someone committing suicide or dying from an overdose, I wonder could they been saved? Sure there is the thought that if someone wants to die, there is nothing that you can do… but what about before they hit rock bottom? People don’t become suicidal overnight, there are many things that lead up to them killing themselves.

As someone whose dealt with depression most of my life, when you need and want help often times there is a lot of red tape and barriers to getting the help you need and deserve… Being gay can certainly add to those barriers. Unless you live in a big city, there are few options for getting help if you are gay including if you find yourself homeless. Sure if you have insurance and money then it’s easier to get the help but many people who are struggling have neither. It’s sad we live in a world where health and well being are associated with money. I believe it shouldn’t cost a dime to stay alive.

If you see someone struggling, in trouble, don’t wait for them to reach up for a helping hand… by then it may be too late… reach down and help them up… Be their rock. Give them the support they need. Show them love, care and compassion. There are so many people out there that still can be reached. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of this world and we often lose sight of what’s important.

I think the more we try to better ourselves with technology, education, etc we become less human… Individualism is important but so is community. There are so many people in this world who are hurting and feel so alone. Do you stand by and let them hurt/die alone… or will you take action and be there for them when they need someone the most. You may be the difference between someone living and someone dying.

This world needs love… and lots of it…