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.

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Giving Survivors a Voice!

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As a survivor of sexual abuse it’s common to feel like you’ve lost your voice. Saying a simple word like NO becomes very complex and difficult. Often times you are so desperate to scream out those words like STOP and only air escapes your mouth. It’s easy to become helpless and hopeless.

Coming out as a survivor is never easy and at times even as difficult as the traumatic act itself because often it’s clouded with doubt and negativity. In a perfect world a victim survivor should be embraced with love, understanding and validation but often the opposite happens. Shame is a common and occurring feeling for the survivor. This is only amplified when other’s discount the trauma you have endured.

For a male survivor this is very true. We live in a world where society tells us that Men can’t be rape or victimized because we are suppose to be strong and invisible. When your abuser is also a male that can really make the event even more traumatizing, especially when you have to tell others what happened. The shame of having another male abuse you might bring you to secrecy to cover up the abuse because what it might mean to others that you allowed another man to abuse you.

That was the first thing that crossed my mind after I was sexually abused, what will other’s say that another male touched me in that way. Honestly I didn’t think anyone would believe me, so I chose to hide it and the longer I hide the abuse the more shame I felt. The shame grew until it was taller than Mount Everest but secrets have a way of coming undone. After trying to climb that horrible mountain I grew tired and weary, to the point where I couldn’t climb that mountain anymore.

The risk of coming out didn’t come close to the pain of holding it in. Just like a balloon I couldn’t hold in anymore shame and finally one day I exploded, and everything came gushing out.

 

Yesterday I saw an article posted on Facebook about Project Unbreakable, an initiative to increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art. As I read and viewed the pictures the tears began to swell up and gush down my cheeks like a river overflowing.

Project Unbreakable has featured over two thousand images of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. As I read each picture in the article I began to think about my own sexual abuse and wondered what I would say in my picture. Instantly I was stumped because my abuser never said a word to me because everything done to me was when he thought I was sleeping.

As an adult I beat myself up for not standing up for myself. I’ve wondered a million times what would have happened if I would have let him know I was awake and why did I return to that bed each night knowing what could happen. I blamed myself over and over again, until it became my fault because I coulda, woulda, shoulda stopped him!!!

For a moment I thought I didn’t fit into Project Unbreakable because I couldn’t write his words but then I remembered it wasn’t his words that hurt me, it was his actions… and then I realized I had every right to be apart of Project Unbreakable. While he never verbalized his words what he did to me spoke volumes and I had filled in his blanks with words he was saying to me by taking my innocence.

“You deserve this!”

“You’re weak!”

“You’re powerless!”

“No one will believe you!”

“I will beat you up if you tell anyone!”

“I’m God!”

“You don’t matter!”

“You’re an object!”

I could fill a book with everything he said to me…

For eight excruciating years filled full of pain, silence, secrecy and a victimization. I didn’t know there was another way, nor did I believe I deserved anything else.

When I came out of the closet about the abuse I was met with anything but compassion. Those eight long years were only enforced that I should have stayed silent. I think how others in my family handled the news traumatized me just as much as the act itself.

My father made it clear of this by going hunting the next day with my abuser. When he found out that I was upset, he told me that I needed to forgive and forget. Here was someone who was suppose to love and protect me telling me that I had no reason to be traumatized and that I should just move on with my life. His words cause me to relive the shame and hurt from the ripping of my soul.

When you are sexually abused the person rips a hole in your soul. It is the attempted genocide of a persons soul. A child without their innocence grows up feeling less, vulnerable and unprotected. They grow into adults without being able to shed that clout of shame, fear and ugliness. How others respond to their trauma can only add to all of that.

It has taken twenty years for me to realize when other’s respond to your abuse with dissent, disbelief and negativity it’s their own shame that they are trying to hide. It’s much easier to cover the abuse up and pretend that it never happened, than it is to face it and bring it to daylight. They are blinded by their own guilt and shame, and the fears what others will think about them. They do everything they can to protect the families reputation. I call it sweeping it underneath the rug.

There is still so much stigma in regards to sexual abuse, making it very important that we continue to spread awareness to help protect others. Bringing the abuse to the light of day will only help the healing process and give survivors the much needed voice. It will also give others the courage to stand up and use their voice that previously they didn’t know existed.

We are not alone. While there will always be others who will try to silence us, doing whatever possible to keep the secret hidden, there will always be others who will give us a platform to use our voices. Those who offer healing, love and understanding.

If you are a survivor and would like to share your story by picture you can send an email to Project Unbreakable.

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Pretty In Pink #RealEqualityWearsPink

So yesterday was pinkalicious success. There were people from all over the country who took to the streets in pink, including overseas! It was wonderful to see so many different walks of life come together to support and stand up against gay violence and hate. Yesterday showed to the world that we aren’t going to take this sitting down, that we have the numbers on our side. Even the mayor of Columbus, Michael B. Coleman, wore pink in support of our cause! As you can see by the sea of pink below we have a lot of pink support! Rock on. Let’s remember to continue this conversation and help to spread awareness that that everyone stays safe. Remember Love always conquers hate!!!

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Take To The Street in Pink Tonight Meet at 6pm at Southbend Tavern

“Hey Facebook Friends! I hope you can join me or send some positive energy out into the world starting at 6pm this Friday, June 14 as I “Step Out” against crimes against the LGBT community. I am walking a total of 5 miles, making four stops at the scenes of four hate crimes. It’s time to throw some positive karma back into our world and let the thugs know that we will FIGHT BACK!”

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I found this on the event PINK FRIDAY page and I wanted to share it to you because I think it’s important to make a statement!!!

At 6pm tonight in Columbus Mark Buckingham and friends will be walking from Southbend Tavern (126 East Moler, Columbus, Ohio 43207)!!!

It would be great to have a bunch of people in PINK walking the streets to STAND UP AGAINST GAY VIOLENCE AND HATE!!!

How To Stay Safe Flyer #RealEqualityWearsPink

Click this image for more information about how you can stay safe!

Click this image for more information about how you can stay safe!

If you would like to print this out and post it in your area, you can find the pdf version here! Please share this with everyone you know, it is important we spread the awareness and keep others safe!

Renewed Spirit and Fight #RealEqualityWearsPink

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I have to admit that this whole experience with the wearing PINK on Friday has really awoke something deep inside of me. This has been an extremely tough year for me with the death of my Mama in September, which caused me to spiral into a deep depression where I hid from the world…

To see so many people (from all over the world) come together to support and rally for David, Christopher A. and Christopher K. It is tragic and a fact of life that bad things happen all the time to really good people, and in this case to three young men who didn’t do anything to warrant being attacked. When people are knocked down it is so very important for others to help lift them back up and our community has surely done a great job of that.

You can only get pushed around so much before you say wait a minute… NO MORE!!! Personally I also have gotten to that point in my life as well, where you say enough is enough. As a survivor an important and empowering tool to use is our VOICE but often times it is something that is difficult to use. For a very long time I have struggled with my own voice, knowing when and how to use it. Wanting to stand up but not having the courage to verbalize it. Feeling so defeated that I didn’t think anyone cared to hear my voice. I no longer feel that is the truth because this experience has helped me see that there are those who need to hear my voice.

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Plus when you stay silent those who promote and spread hate win and I am determined to conquer their hate. I believe our community feels the say way. While at times we may risk our personal safety, standing together united we form a solid barrier that even the strongest hateful force wouldn’t be able to knock down!

Wearing Pink today shows the world that we aren’t going to take this abuse sitting down anymore, that we have many supporters on our side. The great thing about the pink event is that it helps to start conversations and creates awareness about gay violence and hate. These three tragic events were a wakeup call for many of us, that taught us that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

I have to admit that I really wished I was in Columbus now. I feel so energized that I want to be on the forefront making a difference. I also feel rather guilty that I wasn’t able to find a pink tshirt in my size (3xl). Though in the end, as long as we are using our voice and helping to spread the message matters most. You don’t have to wear Pink to make a difference, though it doesn’t hurt! Honestly for as much as I love pink, I am surprised I don’t own anything pink.

Someone on the wear Pink facebook event wanted to know why we were using Pink when it is associated with Breast Cancer. My first thought was to let her have it but then I thought about what often is needed for those outside of the LGBTQ community is education. I believe that is how we will get people to turn to our side is with fact, information and knowledge.

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For those who don’t know Pink has long been associated with the gay community. It started out in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s when every prisoner in the concentration camps who were labeled as homosexual had to wear a pink triangle on their jacket. It is estimated that between 50,000 to 63,000 men were convicted for homosexuality during that time. Even after the camps were liberated at the end of WWII, many of the pink triangle prisoners were often re-imprisoned by the Allied established Federal Republic of Germany. The nazi amendments which turned homosexualityfrom a minor offense to a felony remained intact in both East and West Germany after the war for a further 24 years.

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During the 1970’s the pink triangle was adopted as a symbol for gay rights protest. Some have linked the reclamation of the pink triangle with a publication of a concentration survivor Heinz Hegaer memoir, The Men with the Pink Triangle. 

It was until the early 1990’s that pink began to be associate with Breast Cancer when they started to pass out pink ribbons. Honestly I believe you can never have too much pink and there is enough love to go around for both worth causes!

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While it was originally intended as a badge of shame, the gay rights movement reclaimed it, inverted its direction and made it one of the biggest symbols of the movement! As with the pink triangle, the time has come for us to reclaim what has always been ours. You can’t take away our pride, love and spirit! We are turning something negative into a positive. Love will always conquer hate! Always!!!

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LATRICE ROYALE will be at the PINK Party at Axis! #RealEqualityWearsPink

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Amazing news people!!! Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be performing at the PINK Party at Axis Fri June 14th at 9pm!!! She is donating her time in support of Columbus!!! Latrice is a class act and fitting of the title of QUEEN!!!

So now you all have to be there!!! I would if I still lived in Columbus!!!

Click here for more information about the PINK Party!!!