Future Focus

From what I have read about trauma recovery, the process can take a lifetime. The damage done over decades cannot be overwritten in a few years. I’m looking to the future with cautious hope. While a new year may not be a magical reset, I am reflecting on my priorities. I want to improve my writing, pursue better mental and physical health care, and continue to heal.

I need a new approach to writing. I generally sit down and start typing without anything in mind. Trying to stick to a specific topic, or starting with a title in mind, is too rigid and I can’t produce enough words. I can write endlessly if I’m free to write about nothing at all. This is lazy writing. I am not challenging myself to better master my only language.

Now that the move is finally over, I am taking steps once again to properly treat my mental illnesses and trauma. I may have uncertainties, but I remain radicalized to the deadliness of the system. Trying to take care of myself has been a fight, and the more I talk to people who’ve found good therapists and the right medications, the more I realize that I have not yet. Since I started seeking care, my housing and life has been so unstable, I’ve had to switch therapists many times. It took me a long time to realize how unhelpful the attempts to get me on track to recovery have been. I’ve only been seeking professional recovery for six years to deal with 22 years of complex trauma, and it is simply not enough to overwrite the damage done.

Someone dear to me has explained that grief turns from a fresh sting to a familiar ache over time. Healing has not been a clear process. I’m not even sure if I am healing, or if time just widens the gap between now and then. The charts say my depression and anxiety and C-PTSD haven’t changed much. I don’t claim to have figured it all out, but I am not optimistic about the world. This is because I look around and see so many people trapped with nowhere to turn.

The people who have power and resources are using it to deprive the rest of us of the basic means to live. People are dying from a failing housing system, a failing medical system, a failing economic system. This is apparently the best it’s ever been, and injustice is rampant. My brain tells me that everything is hopeless, and I can’t help but think that maybe depression and anxiety are proper reactions to the world as it is. I am just beginning to appreciate the fact that maybe my brain is lying to me because the chemicals aren’t working right.

I’m lucky to be able to have a few inexpensive surprises for my loved ones this season, along with the gifts you all have sent from the Amazon wish list. Soon we will celebrate something like Yule and eat something special and exchange these gifts. We don’t have the spare funds to decorate but it will be a festive time to appreciate winter and the safety of a place to shelter in through it. Thank you all for helping to make it possible.

What I Do and Don’t Know

The older I get, the more I realize how inadequate my education was. My writing, my strongest skill, is littered with grammatical errors. I am passionate about the injustices I’ve discovered in the years since I’ve started educating myself, instead of relying on my parents to inform me about the world. When two people are your only constant access to information, your window of what the world looks like is very small. I am amazed every day to the point of emotional overwhelm by the things I learn, simply by watching documentaries about the universe and world.

The place we’ve evolved in is an indescribably tiny world in an incomprehensibly huge universe. In the minds of fundamentalists, this universe can easily be held together by a human-like being who cares about what we do to pleasure each other but not about what happens in war. This has, at least, been my experience. I’m also not excited about January, and I haven’t talked to many people who are. I’m worried, and my anxieties are catastrophic. Perhaps my fears are unwarranted. People from my grandparents’ generation keep reminding me that these things take time. The generation after mine isn’t so sure.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know a lot of things, but I’ve been taught to pretend like I do. That was, in the end, the whole point of competitive Christian homeschool debate: to persuade through performance. That’s why a specific category of human almost always won the biggest competitions. My perception of the world has been altered drastically so many times in my life, that I cannot expect it to remain constant. What I know is that I know a lot less than people who had a standard education.

Writing a memoir about being deprived of a normal life is a complex effort. It is both about writing what I know and what I don’t know. Like I said earlier, the older I get, the more I realize I don’t understand, or I understand at a very rudimentary level.

For instance, the human body. I don’t know much about it. When people refer to organs, what goes through my head is memories of cutting out coloring pages of the organs so my little siblings could glue them onto silhouettes of their bodies that we’d drawn on large pieces of paper. The heart was in red and blue crayon, glued on behind the pink lungs, and below those are the organs I don’t remember very well. Mom read the same books every year, and it was my job to make the copies of the coloring pages so each of the kids could color them in while mom read from a book called “My Magnificent Machine” – a selection of Biblical devotionals about some basic interesting facts about the body that were palatable for children. The people I spend the most time with understand that I need to have common things explained to me every day. I have to be honest that I don’t know what a lot of words mean, and I struggle with conversations about anything medical. I edited this paragraph after some googling because it was more embarrassing than this, too.

While there’s validity in the wisdom of realizing that I ultimately know nothing, I think this problem is also unique. There is genuinely a great deal that I am ignorant about. I feel that the next part of my life looks like writing my way through educating myself. I am uncertain about many things and I want to learn and explore more, instead of trying so hard to recover the past in a way that makes sense to read.

Thank you all so much for reading and supporting me. It has meant a chance at a better place to live, and the opportunity to return to my work in earnest. This month I will be writing less about certainties and more about uncertainties. I’m feeling festive this year, so we’ll discuss seasonal things, like gratitude and depression. I appreciate you all so much.

Creating a Home

Wow. You all have given us so much in helping us move into a new place, and showering us with housewarming gifts. We now have a beautiful collection of kitchen and living room items, and we’re down to a few final needs, detailed below.

I’ve painted a few times since we moved, and this is the work I’m most proud of:

Image: an abstract painting with dark purple forms with white specks over them, resembling stars in space, outlined in white like clouds. Winding through the middle is a pattern of soft light blue and purple. Gold lightning bolts reach out from the dark purple starry cloud-like forms.

Our apartment is small but new and clean. We’ve decorated it with nerdy posters and paintings, and we’ve pinned up the gay and trans pride flags in our entry way. These past few weeks I’ve been recovering. For two and a half months we anticipated this move, and had to delay it multiple times.

I wrote in my last post about some of the generous gifts we received, and I am so grateful. Very soon I will resume my usual existential writings, but I have two last things to ask for help with. Please, if you have the ability to help others, consider helping with these two things:

Ryann’s Fundraiser

While we met our fundraising goal (thank you all so much again for your kindness!), my new roommate, Ryann, still needs to raise another $715 to catch up after the move and cover needs of their own. If you were willing to give to me and my partner, please consider giving to Ryann. They have the income to be on track to cover expenses soon, but this last push will help tremendously with giving them that stability.

Ryann also has a Patreon, and we are both writers. I write nonfiction primarily, while they specialize in epic fiction of many sorts. Their work is superb and deserves many more readers, in my personal opinion.

Amazon wish list

At the top of this list are our remaining home needs. We very much need a vacuum cleaner. We have one bookshelf that can’t hold all our books, and one to match it on the wish list. Also on the list are some pain relief products, holiday treats and gifts including games, and a few remaining kitchen/bathroom/household items. I also added canvases and paints so I can keep creating, and a gift card option so I can buy gifts for the people I care about. To those who’ve already generously given us gifts, thank you so much. For those who would like to explore the wish list, it’s here. (Update 10/4/2021: this link has been removed due to shipping issues)

I cannot thank you all enough for helping us to survive through years of poverty and staying housed in a pandemic, and most recently helping us move into a better place for us. It’s small and imperfect but it’s home. I have a collection of supporters to thank for that, and I appreciate it so much.