Wednesday, December 2, 2020

In the can.

CPTSD is a strange thing to grow up with. Even stranger to live with once you know you have it.

For Example:
My latest InstagramPost-

There it is the manuscript for Book 4 in the Unhomed series. Still debating titles. I do like to stick with one word – but this particular word is proving elusive.
Despite that this manuscript will be placed into a drawer to ‘marinate’ for a year, at least. I’ll come back to it in Jan 2022. Provided I’m still here.

You might be wondering what is so ‘typical’ of CPTSD in that little post above. I’ll point out the last line. Now, while it may be very appropriate in 2020 to not take making it to tomorrow for granted it goes a bit deeper than that.

From Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving I pull this quote from the section on “Toxic Shame and Soul Murder.” (If that isn’t a powerful phrase I don’t know what is?)

Quote: When our emotional intelligence is restricted, we often do not know what we really want.

~ Pete Walker

I don’t think I can convey how estranged I was, and let’s admit still am, from my feelings. I can see that emotional emptiness echoing back through my life. With it I can follow the ambivalence I had about life.

One of the questions I have always struggled with is “Where do you want to be in ten years?” Or even five. Hell, I don’t know where I want to eat lunch let alone what I want to do with myself in a year. Never mind ten years.

Learned helplessness is a survival tool. Additionally, it is a phrase I absolutely loathe. But, love it or loathe it, learned helplessness is a firm part of my past. I still wrestle with it.

I never really planned for anything because promises were broken, plans were ignored, asking for something was too much. I became able to be grateful for what I was given and not to expect or hope for more. This is the core of learned helplessness. There is nothing you can do to improve your situation, so you learn to endure. Later when the cause of the suffering is removed the mind is still locked in the role of the abused and cannot see that circumstances have changed.

How does all that relate to planning for tomorrow? For me here was no planning for any future. I dealt with what was given to me. My future was to fulfill the expectations of my family. I didn’t think about my future. I didn’t get to.

So, although I have every intention of revising, editing, and publishing the book above, I know that nothing in life is promised, not even tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Paradox #3 : joy and fear

Yesterday was a remarkable day. So many people felt as if they were coming up for air after fighting to breathe for years. The announcement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being elected as the next president and vice-president of the United States was literally celebrated around the world.

All the aspects of life that bring my CPTSD into full bloom were central at that moment; change, relief, uncertainty, hope. I was caught between feeling the moment too much or not feeling it at all.

That first instant of glorious relief was cut short by the fear that this was an illusion and would not last. As I watched the celebrations erupting around me the only thing that passed through my mind was, How long until we find out this is a lie?

I couldn’t dive into the celebration. My brain, my past, kept telling me that this was a mirage. Don’t trust it. Wait until you see if it sticks. Don’t let go. So, I kept that death grip on myself that I call rational self-control.

Change can bring such relief. It can also throw everything into the air indiscriminately. With change I wonder will it stay? How long? Can I trust it? What are the rules for survival now?

Folks with CPTSD often live with the knowledge that what you have been given can just as swiftly be taken away. So many parts of me were echoing with past experience last night that I felt ready to fly to pieces. The memories were jumbled and pressed in from every direction. This was the moment of the backlash or the crushing blow.

This was the moment when if you allowed yourself to believe the world contains goodness you invited disaster. Happiness only exists in milliseconds because inevitably the hope is smashed, the toy broken, the dream shattered.

With CPTSD you try to remember that this moment can’t last. We guard our feelings so closely because we have been taught that to show emotion is like placing a drop of blood in the water. To demonstrate a moment of happiness is the same action that summons the monsters which will destroy it.

Hope. Hope is the most treacherous emotion of all. That is the driving force that makes you pull yourself over the glass time after time. Hope is so often an illusion, untrustworthy. For those of us who live with CPTSD hope is a double-edged sword where both sides can wound.

So, last night, with the world celebrating around me, I clung to my husband unable to breathe. I lay there feeling the muscles around my eyes tighten, my jaw clench, my throat close, my chest contract. Afraid to breathe, I was waiting for the blow to come.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Unhomed Video Trailer


The post at the top

Thank you for reading my work.  Seriously.

  Thank you.  

I've decided to tackle this post early on to think through how to handle things before they arise.

There are some rules - basic stuff. Please take the minute to read over them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Very Short Story About Beer

It is a typical summer evening for my husband and I. The cicadas are humming in the trees, the occasional addition of frog song chimes in. The windows are open and a lazy fan turns on the ceiling as if it is protesting the heat as well.

As the evening light fails, I can watch the sunset from the window of my office. One cat is curled on the pillow of my desk the other is slowly batting at the poodle's tail in sleepy distraction.

From the kitchen below, I hear the rattling of pans and the opening of the fridge. The cats both perk an ear towards the sound, but both return to napping when the sound doesn't end with the squeak and pop of my husband opening the plastic container of sliced turkey. It's too hot to move for anything less than - the good stuff.

I agree with them. I would much rather be outside on the porch trying to catch the ghost of an evening breeze. Instead, I have a deadline to meet and I have to keep cranking out 'product'.

The peace of the evening is shattered by my husband's yell. It's only a single word, but I know that tone.


There is some disaster afoot. I abandon my office and pelt down the stairs, remembering to skip the fourth because it is loose.

Must remember to fix that tomorrow.

I put the thought aside with the hollow promise that I will surely remember it. As I skid into the kitchen with the poodle trailing at my heels, I see my husband standing at the refrigerator.

The icebox door is wide open. He's standing there with a beer in his hand and a look of utter confusion on his face.

"What's wrong?" I'm envisioning a lost finger or tooth. Or some calamity that is going to require us both to spring into action.

My husband simply holds up the beer bottle.

"I can't believe it," he says.
"Look at how small it is?"

Now, I see what the 'problem' is.
The beer bottle is indeed smaller than the usual 12oz. It's about half the usual size.

"Why did they do that?" he asked putting the bottle on the counter between us.

I didn't have time to ponder the marketing strategies of a Mexican beer company. I had a deadline to meet. Snatching the bottle from the counter I started back to my office.
"What's the problem? It's a single cervesa."

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

You're telling me what?


Let me get this straight, 

I spent my childhood

building all these defenses

and now I'm gonna spend my

adulthood undoing 

this fuckery. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

A brief letter to the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service

 Dear Sirs,

It is no exaggeration to say that the USPS is now the sole guardian of American democracy. You represent and are the last defense of the Constitution. Without the ability to hold impartial and safe elections the U.S. will go the way of so many other 'democratic' nations where a vote is not a choice but is instead compelled. How you serve the Constitution and the nation it stands for will be remembered by history. Choose wisely. Sincerely,,,,,,

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A letter to someone who is struggling with CPTSD and recovery.

First off. You are enough. You are worthy of love.

Secondly. Things can get better. And, no, not everyone will leave.

Thirdly. I could have written this post a while ago - and it isn't out of the picture that I might do something like it in the future.

I also have CPTSD. I also never thought I would live to see 30. And yes, I have felt that unfairness, I have railed against it.
I don't know what I can offer you. I wish I could save you, but we both know that filling the void that exists at the very center of our being is something only we can do. I can cheer you on. I can tell you my story, but you must do the work. Which, you already know.

I can tell you this much.
You are still climbing because despite all that crap, despite everything you experienced and suffered, despite all the feelings of loss and emptiness - there is something within you that is stronger than all of that. It is tiny, but that does not mean that it isn't there, nor that it is weak.
You are digging, fumbling to find it. Keep going. It is there.

You may not know it, and you may not feel it, but you have made progress. How can I tell that? By the things you say. You know you have CPTSD. You know your past. You know you want help.
Those are NOT small things. They are a mountain range within themselves. So, don't dismiss the progress you have made by only looking at how far you have to go. You have already run a marathon. Give yourself credit for that.

I'm going to ask some questions. I don't need to know the answers, but they might help.
Is your therapist trained in working with CPTSD?
Is your therapist trained in EMDR?
Personally, I found that EMDR helped - although I felt intensely silly at the time.
If talk therapy (CBT) isn't working - perhaps there is a different type of therapy that could.
And, importantly - there are forms of therapy that do not need to retraumatize you. They are worth a look.

I still have ups and downs. But, now when I have those downs - I can sift what is emotional flashback and the CPTSD talking from my real reaction. That is a huge step forward for me. I'm learning my triggers. That is another important step. I talk about my journey and the bumps and setbacks.

Hang in there.
And remember, seek and you will find.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Such a tiny thing, which can seem so very dangerous

Facebook, how you bring all my insecurities to light.
I could hate you for that.
Or I could embrace you.
 I'm not sure which. Check back in an hour.

For me, Facebook is a place where I frequently find instances of "Oh, I still need to work on that." It is, usually, not a comfortable place for me. Like this morning.

Yeah, I stumbled into one of those mental/emotional roadblocks. Well, into --> through --> and down the cliff on the other side. They put those warning signs up for a reason, dontchaknow.

It was a minor thing. Tiny. Inconsequential for any normal human being. But, when you bring the #cptsd into it, things aren't quite so simple. As we are all very aware. 

So this was the little 'game' going around FB this morning.
 Put this as your status (if you want to) and see what people love about you.
 I love your ______

That seems pretty innocuous, right. I was reading what other folks had said to friends, and liking, and laughing and saying 'oh, yeah, right.' Enjoying the exercise.

Then a little voice in my head said: Why don't we do this?

I wasn't ready for the wave that followed that thought. It was almost equal parts, fear, shame, disgust, pain, and avoidance. I wasn't expecting that. As you can tell, I'm still trying to figure it out.

I did it though. I'm terrified of what people will say. I want to crawl away ad hide so that I can let it all roll over me. I'm so afraid that people will say hurtful things - or worse, that they will say nothing.

At this moment I am officially a mess. Trying to be brave and holding all those wounded parts close. Tears still running down my cheeks. The tightness in my chest that will open into a hole.
You know the one. The one at the core of our being that is empty, echoing, and vast beyond measure.

I'm curious. Would you have asked for such a tiny thing, which to someone with cptsd seems so very dangerous? 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Mashup of Thoughts on Kanye, Mental Health, and Something My First Therapist Said That Blew My Mind.

This might not be my most coherent essay. 
It's more some random thoughts that all got mashed together. 
So, the first item is a discussion that I had with friends over on Facebook about Kanye
Let me give you a recap:
Friend 2: He is. So, why doesn't he do something about it? 
Friend 3: He has the resources and money to get help. I would kill for that situation. 
Friend 2: Honey, do we need to talk? 
Friend 3: Oh, no, I wasn't being literal. Geez. I'm taking my meds. 
Friend 1: Yes, it would be nice if Kanye got help, but you can't force people to seek help. 
Friend 2: But, there is a distinct difference between supporting someone and enabling them. 
Friend 1: Why do you say he is being enabled? 
Friend 3: It's pretty obvious he isn't being helped by the people around him. 

So here we get to the next item. Personal responsibility and mental health.
This is an idea that I bump into pretty regularly. 
A common scenario is when someone behaves horribly and then says 'oh, I was off my meds' or 'I didn't know I was so messed up. I'm in therapy now.' Essentially, when mental health is used as an excuse to justify bad behavior. 
I won't argue that sometimes we have bad days. I have a stack of 'oh, wow, that wasn't good' moments in my past. Thankfully there was no internet in my youth. I'm sure we all have moments that we can look back on and see how our mental illness influenced a situation. 
So, I employ the 'innocent' man rule. I assume everyone is NOT casually using 'mental health' as an excuse. That is until I have evidence to the contrary. Because I would rather support/ attempt to support anyone who was having a mental health issue, even if that means there are some posers in the group. 

Another point in this knot of thoughts is: 
What responsibility do we have to the mental health community to seek treatment?
Bear with me. 
I don't think it can be argued that in the past mental health was very misunderstood. And, that the mental health institutions of the day were pretty horrific. The mental health system was also abused as a place to confine those who opposed the social order. And we, the mental health community, still bear the brunt of a mountain of stigma. 
So, what do I owe to other people, not just myself, to understand my issues, my triggers, my tools for handling flashbacks? 
I think I do owe something to the mental health community as a whole to demonstrate that even though my brain is wired differently, I can still operate within society. Even though I carry the label of 'Neuroatypical' (I hope I got that right.) I see it as a way - a responsibility - to help break the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. 

This brings me to the third point. When I first began therapy all I knew was that I was depressed out of my skull. I also had a sense of being permanently stuck. I think I described it as 'paddling in eternal concentric circles.' 
Sometime in my first few sessions, my therapist hit me with an idea that I found mind-blowing.
She told me, don't laugh, that I was responsible for my own happiness.
I'll admit I feel a little silly looking at that now, because, honestly isn't that something everyone knows?
And yet, the idea was new to me. I was always the dutiful one. The good one. The reliable one. The invisible one. The one that never caused trouble. The one that never needed, anything. 
I was maybe 20 at this time, and I was just putting my foot on the mental health path. At that time the knowledge of #CPTSD had not trickled down to where I was.
I spent another 30+ years trying to root out the problem, to understand myself. In those 30 years, I accumulated a lot of wreckage in my wake. The ability to understand myself and to look back over my past is both gratifying and horrifying. But, in both the good and the bad I can see how my mental problems influenced me, or trapped me. 

To tie all this up with a neat little bow, I'll circle back to Kanye. 
Sometimes our mental health, or ill-health, is all we know. It is our 'normal'. I understand that he is bipolar, and I will readily admit that I have no experience with being bipolar. But, I do understand what an untreated mental health issue can do to your life, your relationships, your goals. For that reason, I hope he can make the commitment for himself to pursue some help before the wreckage he leaves behind spans decades.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Image that Sparks a Rethinking of Symbols

It's interesting. I've seen many reactions to this image.
And what I am hearing is at odds with what I think the intended message of the piece is. Folks I have seen react to this are all focusing on the body given to the DT figure.
I admit the thing I see that disturbs me the most is the child that the figure is holding. It is in such distress. Blindfolded, squirming to get away from the poison it is being fed.
I understand why friends and folks I know would take issue with the depiction of the female form in this very negative light.
I think the artist has diluted or subverted the impact of the point he was trying to make by the choice of his portrayal. Instead of sparking one conversation on the abuses of DT administration on this nation, he has elicited - a defense of the body shape and a conversation on body shaming.
I think he was trying for political commentary, but without thought, he stumbled into social commentary.
So, question - Do you think the artist was aware of the current social potential for response? Or was he (I'm assuming a male here) was just tone-deaf and working from a place of privilege?

More to come on the topic of symbology. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Positives that we have learned from CPTSD

Weird title, right?

I saw a thread over on Twitter, some of you all may have seen or participated in it as well.
What it was about was looking at the positive side of the traits of CPTSD that we have. I was skeptical at first. It struck me as rather 'wishful thinking'. But, I stuck around and listened and I realized there was something amazing happening.
Folks in the thread were giving examples of the parts of CPTSD that they struggle with, and sometimes another reader would turn that struggle into a positive. Sometimes the person who still struggled with the trait could express how it influenced their life in a positive way.
It was, for me, a lightbulb moment. So I started thinking: What is one of the biggest things I struggle with or a trait of CPTSD that I still cling to? And has that had any positive outcomes in my life?
For me, a trait that I know I still possess is the inability to ask for anything. Which results in a distinct pride of being able to do without, or do with less. To make do. I've been called Spartan in the manner that I live.

The positive side of that is that I have skills that are quickly vanishing from the 1st world. I can preserve food, I can mend just about anything, I know basic carpentry and electrical work, and I'm thrifty.
And those are some worthwhile skills to have.
What is it for you? Give it a think. Perhaps you can see the positive outgrowth of some of your traits. Please share them so that others who might be struggling with something similar can see that there are some useful/positive aspects that we can dig out of the mud of our past.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Unicorn Farts and Lollipops

I saw this meme this morning and it just made me cock my head to the side to take another look at it. And I thought about it. Probably too much. And, I realized I was having a feeling. A pretty strong one by my standards. I mean, I actually noticed it.

Here - let me show you the meme.

For those who may not be able to read it allow me to tell you what it says.

It is not what happened in the past that is hurting you now. It is your interpretation of what happened that is hurting you now. Change your interpretation of what happened and you change how you feel about it.

Pardon my language:   I call BULLSHIT.

Let me make a couple of statements -
First, I am looking at this through a lens of CPTSD. And perhaps, this meme is not intended for me as its audience. I can fully accept that possibility.
Secondly, I'm going to talk about my reaction to this. If you want to tell me how it makes you feel that's cool. Any comments telling me I am wrong will be trashed.

Let's break this down, line by line and idea by idea.
First line - It's not what is in the past that is hurting you now.
To some extent, I will say this is true. As a child, I had lots of bumps and scrapes and those are in my past. Also, true those injuries no longer hurt me.
But what about those injuries that leave a mark?  Cigarette burns? Broken bones? Neglect?
Even here I can see wearing those marks not at a source of shame but as proof that you have survived. And yes, that is dependent on how someone chooses to interpret the mark or damage that is left.
However, we haven't addressed another type of result from events in the past. Neural remodeling. Or, in the case of very young victims brain development. Of those of us who walk around the world with CPTSD many of us have a fundamentally different perception of the world and ourselves. This is hard-wired. Our brains were literally changed or diverted from normal development.
In that sense - yes the injury is still with me. I function in this world with a brain not developed for this world. It's work.

Second line - It is your interpretation of what happened that is hurting you now.
While I can envision that this meme is not made for the CPTSD community I must admit that I don't know who it is intended towards. It makes no specific reference in the meme and the words are rather broad and inclusive.
The first thing this sentence says to me is "You are WRONG."
Wrong in your interpretation.
Wrong in your memory.
Wrong in wanting to move through the trauma.
And, what the Hell, just Wrong in general.
That is what that sentence makes me feel. My interpretation is wrong.
(A long string of deleted explicatives.)
Talk about a classic example of devaluing a lived experience.

Let me talk about this from a different angle. CPTSD is a condition resulting from long-term repeated trauma where the victim has no opportunity for escape. So think, child abuse, think sex trafficking, think POW. This form of PTSD is the result of extended durations of trauma. It's not a single event that is captured in the definition of PTSD.
My personal experience is being a child and growing up in a severely dysfunctional household. There are several hallmarks of CPTSD. As I mentioned above there are changes in brain development.
There is a fundamental lack of self-value. Commonly there I a feeling of being worth less than everyone else. Of being permanently flawed and unlovable.
These are not things we interpret. These ideas are what shape our selves. They are integral to who we are. They are not conscious thoughts or interpretations. This is, for us, our reality. It is not who we 'think' we are. It is who we are.

That brings us to the third line - Change your interpretation of what happened and you change how you feel about it.
Well, if that just isn't a load of unicorn farts and lollipops I don't know what is.
Here we come to another interesting way that CPTSD can affect a person. Like PTSD there is the experience of the 'flashback'. The flashback in PTSD transports the person back to the moment of their trauma. It is not a memory. It is a re-experiencing of the event.
For someone with CPTSD there is likely no single event. For someone like myself who has very little memory of my childhood, there is nothing to flashback to, no single event or even group of events. What some of us with CPTSD suffer is the emotional flashback.

Walker in his work Complex CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving describes the emotional flashback this way:
Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions to the overwhelming feeling-states of being an abused/abandoned child. 
Read that again. It is not memory but instead a feeling-state, an emotion. And for folks who have little childhood memory, or where the abuse or neglect started before the ability of the brain to create and hold memories was developed, the emotions are what overwhelm us. When this happens, unless you are aware of what an emotional flashback is, there is no reasoning with it. Any or all of the physical symptoms of an overloaded vagus system can surface. Shaking, muscles tightening, hyperarousal of the senses, etc. It is not something that can be reinterpreted. It is a physiological reaction to an emotional response triggered by something in the environment.

As we recover from CPTSD we can identify the situations and events that might cause us to experience an emotional flashback. Then we can learn to avoid these triggers until we are ready to conquer them.
And I can see folks saying - well isn't that exactly what the meme said? Change your mind and you'll feel better?
That could be argued. But, it is a gross oversimplification of a process that will take some people years. By minimizing the process of recovery the meme perpetuates the idea that mental illness, or traumatic events are somehow controllable. Or minor. Or a flaw in a person's character. Essentially, we are just Wrong.

And that thought is so far from the truth. So I will end with these words.

You have value. You are, in fact, irreplaceable.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Minefield - Meme

I don't know when I discovered that not everyone had a family like mine. But, I do remember the shock. The disbelief that other people didn't have to hide or make themselves invisible rocked me to my core. I always thought my childhood was good. To admit that my family had problems and that those problems affect me to this day was one of the most painful parts of moving from denial into healing.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Address on Independence Day That Our Nation Needed

My Fellow Americans,

Thank you for joining me here this evening to celebrate the creation of this nation that we all love. We stand together tonight beneath the presence of four of our former leaders. In the celebration of our nation and our history.

And that is how we Americans like to view the history of our nation, monumental, larger than life, and as permanent as a mountain. That collection of beliefs is part of what shapes the American myth.
Monuments, as grand as they might be only relate a fragment of the complexity of the humanity and events that they attempt to capture.

We call these presidents hewn into the stone behind me ‘great men’ and we hail them, preserve them in stone as the shapers of our nation.

They did that, among many other roles they played in their lives. But, this is how we choose to remember them. All of them, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln, emerged from riot, rebellion, and war to create this nation, to hold it together, and to heal our republic.

They are not great men because they conquered, or won. But, because they were gracious in victory. Punishment is the hallmark of a tyrant. Grace is the hallmark of a ‘great man’.

We are a nation born in rebellion. That fact has informed the myth of America that we all carry.

The America we celebrate today was only achieved by disparate groups working together with one another toward a common goal. And in those struggles, we embraced one another and our allies. Those nations of men and women who shared our values and our hope of independence.

Without the help of France, America might never have emerged from the colonies.

LaFayette, our favorite fighting Frenchman, to borrow a line from Mr. Miranda’s “Hamilton” is only one of the first of a long line of great people who have shaped America by giving of themselves. Sometimes, even to the cost of their own lives.

Those who have fought and died for this nation create a line through history from the Revolution to the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and the global conflicts of WWI and WWII.

To take a page from the annals of WWII, we know our ally's names. Churchill, Montgomery of Britain. DeGaulle. Added to those are the scores of nameless patriots who formed the Resistance movements across Europe.

Together, as allies, we fought to preserve freedom against the horror and brutality of the Nazi regime.

That is a fact. It is history, not myth.

For there is a difference between myth and history.

Myth makes us feel better, it justifies and validates our actions. But myth is something removed from reality, which we create by picking and choosing from history. We choose from the facts of the past what we find important or meaningful. And, it is the nature of myth to overlook or to ignore that which does not fit or complement the narrative.

And myth, while it persists through the generations, is malleable. Each new group of children faces a world different from that of their parents. And they add to the myth with what they know, and what they find important.

Who would we choose to memorialize today?

John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Sitting Bull.

The mythology of our nation grows and changes, even as we do. The Great Myth of America is not captured in stone. It is constantly evolving as we change as a nation.

History, while historians may re-interpret them, history is based on facts. And the full story of history is unafraid to look at not only the successes, the victories - but it also embraces the facts which today might seem unpalatable. Or which we might not agree with. History includes our failures and our near misses.

For example, many Americans have the idea that the United States stepped into WWII and stopped it.

This view - which is blurred at the edges and seen through a rosy filter, is an attractive and comforting myth of our own prowess and strength.

If asked who our allies were you would hear the answers - Churchill’s England, DeGaulle’s France.

How many will choose to remember that Stalin’s Soviet Union was also our ally?

That is history. That is fact.

And that is only one example of how myth differs from history.

Myth looks through a lens that softens the edges. That selects carefully what it will see.
History is clear-eyed. It recognizes that our nation is capable of great things and that we also carry the legacy of our imperfect past.

Myth proclaims us a paragon, offering stories, analogies, and yes, the occasional fact.
But history extends its roots down into fact and is not afraid to hold up a mirror that shows us our errors. History challenges us to do better.

Blindly accepting myth, without evaluating what historical facts it offers, is building a castle in the air. Without foundations, one puff of wind will disperse it into nothingness.

The myth that we as Americans hold close to our hearts is of a nation of freedom, of fairness, of grit, of opportunity, of tolerance and determination.

It is the belief that we are the shining beacon on the hill.

It is a worthy ambition.

To achieve that ideal we must build a foundation rooted in the no-nonsense facts of reality. We must not only speak of those ideals, but each of us must also embody them.

So, on this July 4th, when our nation feels fragmented, isolated, and under attack by disease, falsity, narrow mindedness, and fear. I would remind you of the qualities that when they are held together by the citizens of this nation: tolerance, fairness, honesty, innovation, and determination -

That is when America is at its best.
That is when as a nation, America is great.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Guest Post: from Carrie About Anxiety and Masks

On Facemasks

I keep seeing people complaining that they can't breathe in face masks. They describe feeling light headed, they fear that they're not getting enough oxygen. They describe feeling tightness in their chests, tingling in their extremities. They feel confused and claustrophobic.

Baby, that's not oxygen shortage, you're just having an anxiety response. Welcome to the club. We have a handshake... you just hold out your hand... and it shakes.

You're not going to die. It feels like it. It's scary. You don't like it. There are actual scientifically proven ways to deal with and overcome these feelings.

When you see someone who is going off on an anti-mask rant, slip them a DM with this link.

Don't mock them in public, or show them the proof about why they're not dying of oxygen deprivation.

They're just experiencing a new mental health challenge and since they've never had any patience for any mental health stuff, they're totally not equipped to deal with it.

Why Protective Face Masks Make You Feel Anxious and What You Can Do to Cope

A good friend posted this on FB and with her permission, I'm passing it along.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I was waiting for someone to point this out.

I wish I had said this, but this is perhaps the most comprehensive and cogent information I have seen.
If you have a link to this person's blog entry, please share it. I want to link directly to the blog.

On Viruses
From J.Wade via FaceBook

Chicken pox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you're older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system, and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
So far the symptoms may include:
Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:

How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as "getting it over with", when literally no one knows who will be the lucky "mild symptoms" case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30 year olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don't yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it's "just a virus" and we'll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Hamlet Revised

I wrote this in 2015, but I've been trying to knock the rust off my programming skills. This seemed like a good candidate for a slideshow. 


Friday, June 12, 2020

Goodreads - A short note

Hi folks.

I realized today that my writing over at Goodreads is not exactly what I would define as 'readily available.' So, to prevent myself from needing to look for the link, and waste 15 minutes in the process, I'm parking the link here.

Most of these stories are exceedingly short. Snippets, things that fell out of my brain. But, some of them are fun too.

And, to my future self.  See, I knew you would need it.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ever Wonder...

Ever wonder how a piece of writing gets from the brain to the finished product?
This is one example of how a scene initially tumbles out of my head.  I'll admit, this is a really good example.

A scene from Book 4.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

New Meme: The Gift

Essay: The Gift

There are moments recovering from trauma where the mind connects two unrelated things.

That revelation is enough to double you over.

You fall to your knees as the unleashed feelings pour over you.

It makes no difference where you are, kitchen, bedroom, or street, you are struck immobile as the mind seizes this new connection.

You barely breathe as the mind traces this new idea through your life.


Slowly other parts of the brain begin firing.
Car horns.
The asphalt under your hands.
You right yourself and continue on, clutching this new revelation tight to your chest like a gift.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Perfect Nerd Date

Perfect "nerd date" with hubs last night.
Alexa - open internet. Find "Pathfinder 2e character elf"
And - it worked.
So hubs and I spent the night reading through the changes from Pathfinder 1e to 2e cuddled together on the couch.
Like I said.
Perfect nerd date.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Just Don't a new 100-word Essay: Defined

I like to think I am relatively 'easy going'. I've had folks tell me that I was a pleasure to work with. Huzzah. And I like to think that not many things send me into a point of anger. Of course, that could just be the CPTSD and the fact that I have virtually no emotions talking. But, hey. It's chill. I'm good. 

But then I meet folks who want to redefine my story of my life. They sit there and explain to me how my representation of my experience is 'wrong'. Yeah. I ran into one of those recently. Oh... I really wanted to 'rage post', but my interior editor stopped me. Thank goodness for that titanium trap in my mind that usually keeps me from uttering something that might later be - ahem... unfortunate. 

So, instead, I sat down and wrote this 100-word essay. I hope you enjoy. 
And, just as a tip. When someone is divulging their truth to you, do not attempt to invalidate their experience in any way. It makes us grumpy.