Friday, April 30, 2010

Living for ME (Vicki- purple)

Adam came by today. I knew he was stopping by and I didn't sleep at all last night because I was all tied up in knots in anxiety. He came by to drop off some of my stuff he had. It was short. A few hollow smiles and well wishes and it was over. He went off in a rush cuz he is driving to Santa Cruz tonight for the summer. I realized that none of this mattered anymore when it didn't bother me (more like punch me in gut) like something like this normally would.

During all of this I am making almond milk for my breakfast cereal and trying to dehydrate the left over almond pieces (without a proper dehydrator) to make almond meal/flour for a strawberry-almond muffin recipe I found. My roommate is in Baltimore for the weekend so I was feeling a bit lonely. I thought about how I have been making a few friends at school (so awesome!.... something so difficult for me because of the bipolar and the abuse). Then, "viva la vida" by cold play came on the radio. I smiled. I guess I had never really listened to the words before. It made me realize how I had lost so much last December but how far I've come and I'm a different person. I realized that I didn't need Adam. I realized that I have let him go A LOT in the past 2 weeks. Even when he put me down on the phone yesterday, twice, it didn't bother me as much. I just didn't care. Sure, it hurt, but I realized I'm not so attached anymore.

And then I smiled and realized that I am happy with my life. Most importantly, I'm HAPPY.

A lot of things really really suck right now. But overall.... I am living my life for ME! Me, no one else. Thats an amazing feeling when you have never done that before. And really, does anything else really matter?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HAIRCUT! (Alex- blue)

So, i finally got my hair cut the other day. I wanted something that would look good as Vickie and Alex. I've been researching mens haircuts for a few months and debating. But then I noticed a style very similar to what I was looking for on a female high school classmate of mine. She was always somewhat of a role model for me growing up. Later, after we graduated I found out she was bi-sexual as well. Well.... now she's got a hair cut that looks FUCKING AWESOME on her.... but is almost identical to the male haircut that I've been thinking about. SWEET!

Fortunately, my classmate has a similar body build as I, so I figured it would work for me too. Got my hair cut and now I am thrilled. I have been frequently been breaking out in giggles because it is fun to play with. I can gel it into all sorts of styles. Flat like Rhianna, a faux-haux, spiky flat top, swirled. And, it makes me feel more confident as a male and want to get a wig for my female side. I have never felt this confident as Alex before (nor happy). Its like an identity verification. What HAS been pissing me off is that since I don't have the materials to bind my chest, unfortunately I fear people will think of me as a butch lesbian which is NO WHERE near the truth. *sigh* One thing at a time and no reason to spoil the fun, right! I have a little victory, it seems (or feels like).

An interesting thing I noticed is that getting my hair cut like this brought up an old memory. I often say that my first memories of knowing I was a boy in a female body was at my house in Lima, NY. But this memory hails from Niagara Falls, where I lived until I was 5. When i was 4-ish, I saw a guy with a mohawk. I thought it was cool. So during "nap-time" I cut all my hair off the sides. In my mind, I was doing it because I wanted to emulate something that was gender appropriate, not just because it was cool. NOTHING I said to my mother make sense to her when I tried to explain. She didn't understand. I liked my hair short. I think this is my first honest memory of knowing my gender didn't match my body. I hated it long, even when she made me grow it out, curling it under with irons every morning before school.

Apart from a fear of being burned by the irons a few times, I hated being feminine, even as a child. When I was in second grade my grandparents and parents re-did my room as a "surprise". The redid it in pink and white with lace, complete with a 4 post-canopy bed. Vickie, I'm sure was thrilled, but for the most part I hated my room so completely that I wouldn't use it any more except when I had to go to sleep. Even then, I never slept well in the room. It felt like an utter violation and I started having terrible nightmares (I'm sure influenced by the molestation as well)and started sleep-walking. Once I was a teenager, often times my room was the only safe haven from emotional and physical abuse in the house. Literally, I think it was me taking "refuge" in a stereotype (being a girl) that I didn't want but had to play. Certainly, psychologically I was that way too as well because I would wear makeup and dresses to avoid lectures and screaming at me. But, it all just made the scar that much deeper because I was stuffing the pain down. Honestly though, I had more immediate issues (rape, abuse, being sick from gluten, etc) that had to take priority, unfortunately, for immediate survival.

Its funny how trying to being yourself can be such a difficult process. YAY haircuts!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jazz (Alex- blue)

Jazz was born into a male body and her parents have been supportive of her transition pre-puberty. Jazz has had a lot of media attention over the past few years and she and her family has become a role-model for American families. This is short, sweet, and to the point. Enjoy. :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Page Updates! (Alex- black/white)

Page Updates! My blog may look a bit different to everyone. I was contemplating a different color scheme and having three columns, but in the end I didn't trust my Html skills enough to risk loosing all of my content (5 years worth, whoooo!).

I'm adding a few things instead and taking a few things out from the right hand column. I am a voracious blog reader, so I've listed my top favorites from the categories that my blog focuses on a bit further down on the right. I also want to give a heads up that within the next few weeks (or months) I will also be starting some light Gluten Free blogging. I haven't decided whether I should do that here, or revive my second blog (most likely the later).

So, I hope you enjoy the small changes. :-)

I also just discovered I can take pretty darn good pictures and video on my camera and send them online or email them from my phone. So expect some regular photography again like I used to!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Distress Tolerance (Vickie- purple)

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about coping strategies lately. i'm sorry that this post is kind of long. Its actually 3 posts that I've been trying to compose in my head for a few weeks.

The past week I have been trying to observe all the little things I do and the big ones too. Its funny how we don't always do what is good for us. This Distress Tolerance program that I went through in DBT has really gotten me thinking. There are two parts to Distress Tolerance. First, Crisis Survival. Second, Acceptance. I've been disturbed to find that the further we have gotten into the program, the more I've realized my coping skills are unhealthy and preventing me from healthy coping mechanisms.

The basic outline is

Crisis Survival
- Distracting mechanisms
- Self-soothing mechanisms
- Improving the moment
- Pros & cons
- Breathing exercises
- Half-Smiling
- Awareness
- Radical Acceptance
- Turning the Mind
- Willingness vs Willfullness

I am pretty good at distracting myself, first of all, in my opinion. At least for better or for worse. Here is the distracting skills when dealing with a "crisis" (or anything that goes wrong)


Activities - hobbies, cleaning, events, ppl, chores, games, go outside, exercise

Thoughts – count, watch something (out window, TV), puzzles, read

Contributions - to someone, volunteer work, surprises, thoughtful things

Comparisons – soap operas, biographies, disasters & suffering, relate to others

Emotions – create different emotions w/stories, old letters, movies, music

Pushing Away – leave situation, block it out, censor ruminating, put away temp

Sensations – hold ice, hot shower, loud music, sex, strong smells, touch things

In an extreme form distraction can be abused to become a form of denial or the starting point of many addictions to deal with unsettling feelings. Beyond distracting mechanisms, "self soothing mechanisms" help bring you back to reality after you have distracted yourself from the initial unsettling event. Using these "self soothing" mechanisms help you reconnect with reality so that you can move on into the next stage of coping. If you don't, your body is forced to express your emotions with your body. This usually means that something malfunctions (digestion--> diarrhea) or starts to hurt (headache) or you become vulnerable to subconsciously hurting yourself (run into a table, twist an ankle, not being as careful to screen allergens in food, etc) or worse, permanent damage/malfunctions of the body or disease because some people are chronic "stuffers", always "stuffing" their emotions down to deal with something. Usually, it is easier to see someone else doing this then realizing you are doing this yourself.

As I have been exploring these coping strategies, it has been overwhelming to see how things in my life have been redefined and I understand why people do the things they do. For example, when my recent boyfriend was upset he would distract himself by working. He loved his work and I loved the fact that he loved his work. I even didn't mind him working long hours for the cause because I believed in the work that he was doing. What was disturbing (and he couldn't see this) was that he would work well beyond his limits as a way to distract himself form something that upset him. Even worse, overworking himself and constantly "stuffing" and distracting himself led him to subconsciously punish himself when he felt guilty, for example, and vulnerable to hurting himself (ie: accident prone or purposely eating things that would make him sick). He couldn't stop working, even when he recognized that he was doing this and wanted to stop. Often I couldn't tell the difference between him just working hard and abusing himself until he was already out of touch with reality and his body.

One of the most difficult things I have been dealing with the last few weeks is realizing that I was enabling him to be this way. I was co-dependent. He was vulnerable when he was like this and he would need me to take care of him because the "distraction" and "stuffing down" of his emotions would make his body finally translate those emotions into getting very sick. This Distress Tolerance program has made me understand why he was doing what he was doing, and also helping me understand how I was dealing with it. I know that I too don't cope well and I react in similar ways to Adam, but with different methods and results, which is part of the journey of healing: learning about yourself. My way of dealing/coping was to spiral out of control with my own ways of denial, stuffing, and addictions.

Not only that though, I realized that I have a history of this with past relationships, but in different manifestations. And even further, I realized that I learned how to be this way from my family. I had my place in my family that made me both witness to co-dependence, a co-dependent myself, and extremely vulnerable to becoming the dependent individual. I know this because I learned that being sick gives a person the "right" for attention and to expect others will make everything better for you.

Two and half years ago I moved to San Diego because I was so sick that I couldn't go to school anymore. I began my healing journey and have put everything second to health (and often sacrificing a lot). The past 2 years I have been focusing mostly on the second stage, "self-soothing".

Self Soothing

Vision – flowers, candles/flame, decorations, art, nature, stars, museums, downtown, pictures, dance performance

Hearing – music, sounds of nature, sing or play instrument

Smell – perfume/lotion, spray fragrance, aromatherapy, clean sheets or bathroom, potpourri, flowers, bake or cook, nature

Taste – good meal, tea/hot chocolate, dessert, candy, new spices

Touch- bubble bath, clean sheets, pets, massage, lotions, hot/cold, comfortable chairs, unique clothing & accessories, head/hair, hugs

Like I said before, self-soothing is in essence, using your senses to reconnect to your body so that you can move on to the next stages of coping (ie: surviving the "crisis" and accepting it). I started pulling myself out of the deep depression and sickness in my body when I moved to San Diego by seeing a therapist specializing in "complimentary therapy" which means mostly taking advantage of mind-body connections in therapy instead of just talking. I started using music therapy on my own to supplement and to start the process of reconnecting to my body (My body actually was numb and I had lost feeling in parts of it. It was the way my body was dealing with "stuffed" emotions.). Via exploring music therapy, I found that different types of western music induced different changes within the body. I came to this conclusion after working my way through the lecture series of Robert Greenberg from the Teaching Company ( and reading the Mozart Effect by Don Campbell ( I now know its all music, but I'll focus on a few examples. I also know that signing actually produces what is equivalent to an "internal massage" to your body that is helpful, but that is too much to talk about now.

What amazed me what that the evolution of music over the last 1000 years in Europe, roughly followed the same process that a person goes through in growing up, or being "reborn" through an awakening of consciousness (via trauma, religion, etc. ) I learned that Plainchant, popularly known as Gregorian chant, is the primary and nearly the only form of music during the Middle Ages. Its is known for fostering rhythms of natural breathing, relaxation, and induces spaciousness. It is good for quiet study and meditation and will reduce stress. Most importantly, it can create a "sanctuary" of sorts acoustically and a safe space for those in a panic attack or experiencing fear to find a safe space to calm down. It is the time when someone is in their distraction/denial/addiction stage OR quiet growth stage before exploring emotions, like a child before puberty.

After the Middle Ages, the Renaissance created new music unlike anything that had ever been produced in Europe before. Music (and all culture at this time) was starting to explore the boundaries for what is possible and experimenting with expressing emotion. Renaissance music is still quite structured like that of the Middle Ages, but it can be seen as a safety net, or framework in which these emotions could be explored in. This genre is wonderful for individuals recovering from trauma or any negative experience because it creates a safe environment to come out of the "sanctuary" and explore emotion. This type of music is also useful in contemplation.

I found myself going back and forth between these two genres often. I started adding in aromatherapy; using different sents to support or soothe, stimulate and calm. Then I started explore with cooking and new spices and going to art museums and taking walks in nature, thus stimulating all five senses.

Then, I found calm music over-layed with a heartbeat. This was an important turning point for me. When I was in Vienna, Austria, I visited a music museum and there was a large exhibit about the physiological effects of the womb-environment on individuals. The book the Mozart Effect also talked about how recreating the womb was sometimes be therapeutic for some people. I remembered the feeling I had in the recreated womb environment at the museum so I tried this on my own with music containing a heartbeat. I incorporated it into my "bag of tricks" I had, in conjunction with my plainchant and renaissance music. The heartbeat was extremely calming in a way that felt like a rope being thrown to me when I'm drowning in water. Today, when I use the heartbeats (I have a little machine that I can overlay heartbeats over any music now) it usually feels like a rope being thrown to me in the water when I don't need it and is in my way, but I guess that only shows how far I've come! YAY!

I've been working in more self-soothing tricks, such as yoga, acupuncture, exercise, colors, soft sheets and pillows, and meditation. These all help me connect with my body. Today, I have feeling in my body again! Not all places are 100% there, but I can now connect with my body enough to fight dissociation instead of being pulled own into a dissociated state, and thus vulnerable to re-traumatizing myself. This is huge for me!

My biggest challenge that I have started on since the beginning of the year is, and ironically, the next stage in Distress Tolerance is "Improving the Moment".

Improving the moment

Imagery – relaxing scene, secret space, alt reality, hurt draining away, protection

Meaning – find/create purpose, meaning or value, spiritualism, positive aspects

Prayer – conversation w/creator, meditate

Relaxation – massage, exercise hard, hot bath/sauna, hot milk/tea, breathe smile

1-thing in the moment – stay focused w/awareness at the task at hand

Vacation – in bed, motel room, in nature, at the park, breakfast in bed, indulge in chocolate or a magazine/newspaper, unplug phone, 1-hour break

Encouragement – cheerlead yourself

It was hard at first to realize that for many of these Improving the Moment skills, I have been dependent on Adam to do for me. It really hit me hard that not only was I co-dependent on him, but now that I am on my own, I'm recovering from co-dependency (which is nothing more than an addiction to stopping an addiction in someone you care about), my own addictions that were reactivated from trying to cope with the co-dependency, AND recovering from being dependent on Adam (him being co-dependent on me). For whatever reason, I don't know how yet, I would end up in a situation where I was trying to cope with something but I couldn't pull myself far enough into reality with my senses (and thus I would loose my connection with my body) and away from my distracting methods and Adam would talk my through or even do for me something that would improve the moment. By him doing that, I lost control of my ability to cope and was instead dependent on him to do it for me and nothing got fully resolved.

Its been exciting to explore this. A huge step is this massage school. It has opened a lot of doors for me not only professionally but in learning about myself. This blog is a HUGE part of improving the moment as well in finding meaning and cheerleading myself. I want to explore hyponotherapy/imagary, which is a new program at Mueller. And I've been practicing taking "vacations".

I don't think anyone really "masters" everything in this program. But it is a learning process and way to be a healthier person. Its been the topic on my mind for weeks, about how my coping skills are faring. Honestly, I think I have stronger skills than most of the people in my DBT group. But I constantly feel that I don't have good coping skills because I feel that if I keep using unhealthy skills it must be because I am too weak. I feel like I'm sabotaging myself. All I can do, I guess, is keep being myself. Keep learning how to love myself. Yesterday I found my inspiration to get over my unhealthy coping skills.

"Love is a passion for life shared with another person. You fall in love with a person you think is wonderful. It's your deepest appreciation of the value of that individual, and that individual is a reflection of what you value most in life. When you love someone else, you love them with all the joy in your life. When you hate or despise yourself and wallow in misery, how can you love another? Love is not to be ashamed of or embarrassed. It can be one of life's greatest rewards." -Terry Goodkind.

Monday, April 19, 2010

:-( (Vickie- red)

Sorry... I don't have many words today. Saturday would have been our "2 year anniversary".

I good news is that I would never have started blogging about these things if it were for the fact that he left me because of these things. So I guess this is in part a tribute. It goes chronologically backwards.

And this is what Adam essentially said to me those last days.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My battle (Bex- yellow)

If I tried to link all the things that I have done in my life under one umbrella term.... it would be:

"saving the world"

The first thing I ever did in my life and honestly the only thing I've ever done in my life that has made me happy and I am proud of is to get out there and help people and fight for causes and ideas. I've had a terrible hole in my heart of despair since Thanksgiving last year. I thought it was losing my job, maybe losing my relationship, or getting diagnosed with a major mental illness. I've thought it was grief over the past, the things I have missed out on in life because of disease or abuse or grief over a life untangling a gender identity. I blamed it on being unemployed, the weather, deserving it maybe, being at the bottom of the social ladder, and little access to help. But its not all those things. Cuz when I went out there and volunteered doing something that I hated, I felt like the happiest person alive. When I was rejected by groups because of volunteer oversight mismanagement, I was more than just devastated.

I have this hole in my heart because I used to spend every day fighting for what I believe in. Even when I had lost hope, I still had my faith. Its the thing that has kept me alive so many times when everything otherwise said I wouldn't be.

I don't know what I believe in as well as I used to. I've never had to stop fighting before and just listen. I'm listening now! I don't want to give up fighting. Right now I'm fighting a lot; a private battle. This is my place. I need to have the patience and peace to know that I will return to the big fight someday. But this is my place now. And my blog more than ever is my battle ground where I fight for myself.

SciAm Psych (Bex- yellow)

Scientific American Mind, which is the psychology offshoot magazine from the popular Scientific American magazine found in grocery stores across america has published an ENTIRE issue on gender. There are some interesting facts on bipolar thrown in there too.

You can buy a PDF version for about 5 bucks. I highly recommend it. There is a good article on "transsexuals" which is the old school term and also still standard medical terminology for transgender. (Transgender is the more politically correct term.) I'm thrilled that the various articles back up a lot of the observations I have been making of myself and talking about here on my blog, even if the articles are not about what my blog is about directly. Happy reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New journey (bex-yellow)

First night of "disrobing" in massage class. Let me say two things.....

First, if you are transgender do you choose a male or female partner?

Second, if you suddenly get a flood of repressed memories and trauma memories, what do you do?

Answer: If you are transgender and have a non-gendered gender, be non-gendered and then it doesn't matter. And if you get triggered by a whole flood of new repressed memories, don't panic and run out the room with your drape (sheet) clutched to you and your backside exposed. Luckily I didn't do that. You know what I did? I used the distress tolerance exercises I learned in DBT! It helped enough that I could counteract dissociating and be calm enough to finish receiving the massage module and wait until the break to talk to the teacher. I'm not sure what is the next step, but my teacher gave me a pile of options. So I'm going to think about them over the weekend before I make a decision.

I've been working through "family of origin" and childhood events. What happened is that I started dissociating and numbing out. So I counted and concentrated on breathing and worked to stay present by noticing details around me. Then my neck tensed up, followed by my biceps, my lower back, and finally my calves. I had the sensation that I was using my right shoulder to block being hit, then my left side of my neck started hurting and I remembered getting injured there when I was beaten once. My lower back had a sharp pain, as if foot-plates were rammed into them, which quickly reminded my lower legs of the similar incidents. My left shoulder went up to protect my neck and side. Then I jumped to another sequence when my upper arms were grabbed to pull me in and down to the floor to be shaken and beaten again. My shoulders tensed up protecting me.

Flashbacks of memories and my body tensing of all these place kept happening over and over. I quickly reminded myself that this was good. I started shaking a little and I wanted to stop it but I let myself shake as quietly as I could without being noticed. Meanwhile the other students are watching demonstration while myself and the first half of the class are on the tables. I reminded myself that I still have to get through class and I can talk to the teacher later, then come home and take a shower, eat dinner, and write in my blog.

It was scary. I knew this was going to happen, but not this soon.

Do I need to reiterate again.... I need a therapist to work thru these things.

On the positive side, Obama just expanded LGBT medical rights. YAY!

Now that I'm home, I'm not as calm as I was in class. That is to be expected but I'm ok. I found out last week that my left shoulder was a trigger. Today I found out I have a trigger in my neck. I knew I was triggered on my upper arms, but i didn't know why. Now I know. When I was in the shower I was thinking about it a bit. Aneeb's favorite part of my body was my upper arms. I never understood that. I think subconsciously because of that I linked Aneeb to these painful beatings. I think this was a powerful way I somehow linked Aneeb to my mother and my family and turned major parts of our relationship into something else. When we broke up it became an emotional event WAY beyond normal for a simple relationship. It was like loosing my family a second time because the whole relationship and breakup re-triggered serious abandonment, emotional abuse and manipulation, and co-dependence issues that had gotten out of hand because of that association.

When Adam and I were together, I never ever let him touch my arms. In class, we only practiced on the left arm. My left arm is worse than the right. The strokes that we were using actually released some of the trauma. I can still feel it in my right side tho.

I'm apprehensive about this journey that I am beginning. I need it. I want it. I'm scared of it. I'm going to take the definition of journey from the hobbits.

A journey is traveling somewhere that you don't know where that somewhere is.

I can do this!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reality (Vicki-red)

I'm having trouble letting go. Accepting reality. I feel shell-shocked. We finished the Distress Tolerance in my DBT group. I learned that I don't tolerate distress well. Do any of us?

The topic of my distress today is an old one. Wooster. I regularly get twitter updates on my phone from people and organizations. There is one person that I follow called Ignacio Rivera. He is gender fluid and multi-gendered and does presentations and performances around North America on LGBT and sex based issues. I woke up this morning to one of his tweets, announcing that he had just arrived in Wooster, OH to do a presentation and performance at the college.

Two things went through my mind. First.... I want to see Ignacio Rivera. Second.... I want to be at Woo. *sigh*

I tried to contact some of my old friends there, but none really responded to me. So I shrugged it off, and got ready for my DBT group.

At DBT we did a mindfulness exercise where we listened to a word being said and had to dwell on the word but not on the meaning of the word. If any thoughts, feelings, etc come up, we were to imagine them floating along on a conveyor belt and landing in buckets (appropriately named) located at the end of the belt. One of the words reminded me of Wooster, and I had a really hard time watching "Wooster" just float down the belt and drop off. I actually fought it. I realized then, that I have never let go. Suddenly I realized why I get so jealous of Adam at UCSD or crave to go to Mesa or SDSU. The disappointment and let down I have had from Mueller College makes sense. How leaving the PRIG's and ultimately California Solar Innovations hurt so much. My rejected attempts at participating in peer groups at my church didn't help either.
I came home and twittered about Ignacio Rivera and put up a facebook post. it didn't make me feel any better. It made me feel worse.

I've been trying to come to terms with who I am and where I am going. It just feels so hopeless. I know I am making great strides. But it feels like I am hitting my head against the wall getting nothing accomplished and going nowhere and there is no manageable end in sight. I feel abandoned in the world. I feel like no one wants me for who I am and not just the person on the surface. Ignacio Rivera visiting Wooster, combined with knowing that PIRG started a chapter at Wooster symbolizes for me the person that I have grown into here and the person that I was there but have lost being out here. Its a reaffirmation of myself at the place that I found myself doing the things I love there too and a viable future to be proud of, DENIED. Its like a slap in the face and then being mocked and laughed at just to rub it in.

I know that a lot of what I had at Wooster was an illusion. But that doesn't help make reality any less harsh. Trouble is, I don't know what i am looking for. Only what I am not.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Puzzle pictures (Alex- black/white)

I'm having a hard time concentrating.

I've been reading a lot lately and everything just clicked together to make sense to me this morning.

I feel like I'm in over my head. Thoughts are swirling.... co-addiction, addictions, self-mutilation, eating disorders, abuse, emotional manipulation, mental illness, ptsd, rebellion, submission, grief, anger, boundaries, abandonment.... I finally have words for the things I have felt and feel. What feels like the final piece fell into place this morning so that I can make sense of what the picture is on the puzzle.

I need help. I need a therapist. I need money to go see a therapist. *sigh*

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growth & progress (Bex-green)

"Are you still in the same place you were last year? Are the issues you wrestle with today the same ones that you were wrestling with last year? If you can identify at least one area of your life, no matter how small, that was a problem at this time last year but is not today, congratulations – that is growth!.... If your answer is no, that does not mean that no healing is taking place. Our deepest wounds often heal from the bottom, so it can be difficult to see the progress until a lot of healing has taken place." - Blooming Lotus

This is a quote from Blooming Lotus in one of her recent posts; one of my favorite bloggers. She modified it from a quote she got from somewhere else. If you want to see her post (very insightful) click here:

It got me thinking. I've really been struggling the past few months. I've been really struggling the past few years. A year ago I was:

- in my first apartment (a studio) without internet and bare bone necessities
- working a dead end job
- dating my boss
- fighting a lot with said boyfriend
- trying to keep my office from being shut down
- starting to work on the health care debate (before everyone even knew it was on the agenda)
- about to get health insurance for the first time in several years
- about to get my wisdom teeth out
- still struggling to learn how to cook for myself
- learning yoga and doing physical therapy
- started getting acupuncture
- still undiagnosed with anything
- in an extremely deep depression

When I look back, I realized, I have moved on with those issues. Some are still there in a different form. But I've changed so much. I wouldn't go back for anything. The biggest difference is that before, I was fighting a ghost. Now, that ghost is real and i know what to call it. Mysteries are unraveling. I don't like what they are, but at least I know what there are and I can choose to do something about it or not.

Some of my biggest joys today are what I have done to master those challenges. We won the healthcare battle and I learned how to be a better lobbyist, community organizer, leader, and political activist & reader. I'm so proud that I can consider myself a leader in my career field. I also now am an amazing cook and my cookbook is starting to take shape. I have enrolled myself in a holistic health school so that I can help others in a way that I didn't get help when I needed it. I have internet now too! AND... TV (via the internet). I finally left my dead-end job after saving it a dozen times (an accomplishment in itself!) and built myself a killer resume. I also am doing many of the things that my boyfriend was holding me back on then. I think I needed to be in that place when I was. I wouldn't change it. But I AM very sad with the end. I still am reminded of him every night as I go to bed and at every restaurant and street corner. I will be for a while cuz he was the person that I learned San Diego with. There never was a time when there wasn't Adam when I went out to explore what San Diego had to offer. And that is just one challenge that next year I will look back on and see how much I have grown.

Every morning I think back I say to myself, hey! look where you were April 2007. I was in Mexico and in the middle of my worse nightmere when I got back home to school. April 2008 I was climbing out of the lowest point of my life still trying to adjust to moving to the west coast. April 2009 was pretty shitty too, as you saw above, but a little bit better than the previous year. April 2010 is still really shitty, but in context, its a whole bunch better. Can't wait for next year!

I firmly believe it only gets better from here cuz I've already been at the bottom of the bucket. Here's for progress!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Planned Parenthood (Alex-blue)

Have you ever had a moment when suddenly everything that ever happened in your life made sense. It was put into a new perspective. And looking forward, everything looks different.

I had one of those moments today. A moment when you realize you have to change your life or you won't ever have the life you dreamed of.

Ironically my bro asked me today, if you were told u had one month to live, how would you live it? And one hour later I am handed with a "one month to live"-like situation from my doctor.

I've never felt so alone in my entire life.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Earthquakes (Bex-green)


I had a bad experience once.

Once upon a time I was sleeping on a dirt floor. It was relatively early in the morning, 7-ish. Everyone else had gone to breakfast and was at the morning church service already. Few people around me could speak my language, nor I theirs. I was half awake, drifting in and out of sleep as I heard the music and dance from the worship service and I contemplated the day before and the upcoming day.

Something was making me terribly sick. The day before one of the nurses was telling me all about her gluten-intolerance. While an interesting theory, I didn't think I had that. One of the girls at school has that and I don't have the same symptoms as her. The air, even at 7am was hot and sticky, not quite muggy, rather just thick and dry. A feint breeze came in through the window above me that felt heavenly. I relished it trying to save it so that when the day got into full swing I could tolerate the heat a bit better. I was partially tangled in my sheets and just in my underwear, even though I was sleeping in the exam room in the clinic. Above me the "whir, whir, clink" of the fan rotated, round and round.

Whir, whir, clink; whir, whir, clink; whir, whir, clink.

I knew I had to get up soon because patients were already streaming in from the town and the villages in the hills & mountains. I could hear some in the hallway already. The ceiling fan above me was constantly annoying yet it became soothing as I let myself sink into the sound of it moving. When it came down to it, it was so god-damn hot, even at 3am that I didn't care. And, I was the only one in the whole town that probably even HAD a ceiling fan. There were 4 girls upstairs where heat rises and gets trapped that were living in a room the same size as this one I was staying in with one small window and no fan of any sort at all.

The previous day i had had a meltdown. I was breaking out in hives. We had gotten back from a village 30 miles into the mountains (but took us almost 7 hours to get there cuz there are no roads in some places) where I had been trying to look after the village children and keep back the wild (and i swear rabid) dogs that lived in the area. I in fact had two rashes and was loosing my faculties at times throughout the day. I was also getting freaked out by the "humanitarian aid" that was being given out that was so very much my idea of what the Spanish conquest of this area a few hundred years before had done. I wasn't aware that this type of humanitarian aid was also part of the definition of "church mission trip" whereas my previous experiences involved building rural churches and mulching paths at retreat camps. Remnants of the first Spanish conquest were still very much evident in these people. Nothing much has changed since then.

These people DID NOT need to go through this again. But it was so much bigger than anything one person could do or prevent. What made me just simply sick is that churches, such as the one associated with the bible college in my town that i practically grew up at (cuz I live 1 block away), were some of the biggest supporters of this. They financed it. Sent people here. Were the puppeteers. My tiny little town. 4000 people. Leading the charge in violence in the name of peace. It is totally Machiavellian: "the ends justify the means".

My body sweltered as it stuck together from the heat and itched from the rashes covering my body, especially between my thighs and behind my knees. I still was recovering from a sunburn that turned me beet red 3 days ago. In some of the worse places my skin felt like a crispy, dehydrated paper that had been soaked in water from sweat, simply burning and stinging and uncomfortable. I tried to fall asleep for a few more moments. I wanted to sleep until worship service was over. I was afraid that my supervisors would get upset for me not being at the service. But my meltdown had made it pretty clear that I wasn't happy with what was going on here and it was in the religious sense. I didn't want to get in trouble. But I was going home in a few days anyway. At a minimum I could spend time with the locals and learn some Spanish or some of the local languages and culture. I drifted off....

.... and the earth started to shake under me. I woke in a fright. My body rattled against the wall. I had no idea what was happening. Cracks in the ceiling and wall appeared. I jerked up and down. It kept going. How long was this going to last? Is this an earthquake? Did a meteor hit somewhere and cause shock waves? What is going on?

Finally is stopped. Then there was a quick aftershock. I threw on a shirt and shorts and stumbled out in the outdoor veranda and hall where a crowd waiting to see us were already gathered. I was panicking. The building could have collapsed on me. No one was around that I could talk to. I wandered upstairs. Found some left over tortillas and beans and ate something. Took a shower. And when everyone came back from service.... no one had felt it. No one.

To this day, I wake up in the middle of the night shaking and my first thought is pure terror that the world is shaking. It happens almost every night. It took awhile (and patience from Adam) before I could override some of that I think logically. My blood sugar gets low all the time and I start trembling. The slight tremor wakes me up. But instead of waking and thinking.... I should eat something, my brain says.... run away! Even being on a second story or higher and the building moves or the floor shakes because something heavy is moving along it, I panic.

Easter Sunday, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake hits less than 200 miles south of San Diego. In San Diego we experience about 45 seconds of rolling earth and 3 obvious aftershocks. A house collapses in North park (about 15 blocks from me). Coronado bridges closes. Part of the highway is shut down because of boulders on the road. Terminal two at the airport is closed because part of the ceiling came down.

Monday night is another (perhaps two- my roommate felt one and i felt another) tremor.

And each time, it takes me at least 30 minutes to calm down enough to return to what I was doing. And I'm waking up in the middle of the night shaking because my blood sugar is low and all i can think about is the fact that a house collapsed.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Old Stories (vicki-red)

I broke a rule today that I have had with myself since I was in 3rd grade. I read some of my old diary entries/personal stories. I used to write stories and poems. This is the second of two posts. I wanted to share some of the essays/stories here with you....

Never Ending Nightmares

If you knew what I’ve been through you would understand me. I am tortured with nightmares of a past unlike my own. It is a fading memory of the night someone visited a train of death; a black train of tortured children on the verge of freedom yet insanity. It ran from one station to the next where it picked up children who had been labeled with bright red stickers given to them from the state, “I need help, I have a problem.” I got on accidentally after wandering too far… too far, too far…. too far into the realm of imagination and dreams. Anything is possible but anything can get you into a whole bunch of trouble and a prison of someone else’s nightmares. Those persons’ thoughts melt into your own in the land of thoughts and dreams and you become them….

Children could get off the black train if they passed the rigorous health tests of the state, but there was one exception to the rule. If you could find someone to take your place then you may leave. No matter how stupid it sounds it was the rule and I did it, too young to understand the consequences.

I met this boy, a little bit older than me and consented to his wishes. It was the last stop before doom and he was beside himself to get off. It was a quick switch of name tags and clothes and I was destined for a ruined childhood. We arrived at the station and I watched him walk off and it was then that I understood what I had foolishly done.

I did everything to get off, I was hysterical. I ran up the isle and into the chubby guy who pushed the food cart. After crying my heart out he confirmed to me that in fact those who take another’s place were foolishly trapped on this train, but if you can pass the health test you may get off. Unfortunately he didn’t tell me one piece of information that made me fail. Not only do you have to pass this mental and physical test but prove you are free from all the illnesses of the person you switched with. I signed up for the test, hysterical from the situation, and immediately failed without being looked at. After peeking at the medical sheet the nurse held, I read “The subject is showing signs of unstableness. She seems hysterical and has been known to be so often.” I knew I was doomed.

We pulled into a station surrounded by a large double fence; within the walls were trees, almost a forest of them. I could see a large jungle gym playground to the side of several red sandstone buildings. As each one of us were given new tags and separated, we were quickly herded to the school buildings and given schedules and lockers. It was the beginning to education within prison walls. At nights we each were guarded and it was not long before I broke. I broke down in a mass of confusion of why I was there and why couldn’t I leave.

The next day in gym, during swimming class, I discovered something amazing. We each had been issued new swim suits and I had a yellow bikini, square across the top and the bottoms were small shorts that sort of gave the appearance of being square across the bottom. Being in them gave me a tingly sensation, like magic was in them. Then, when I dove into the pool, I felt a sudden jolt of sensation and I felt like they were trying to lift me up for a split second and then I splashed down into the water. It was really strange. I decided to stay in my new suit for the rest of the day under my clothes and at recess the suit did it again. So instead of ignoring it I jumped and tried to fly. I jumped off the ground and didn’t come down! I just hovered there for a second before I freaked out and fell back down. It was a good thing that I was in a corner that no one else was. From then on I wore my yellow bikini under my clothes everyday and I practiced “flying” and discovered with a little imagination and belief in myself I could do anything. I started skipping classes when ever I was stressed, to go flying. Sometimes I fell asleep on the clouds. I had to be really careful no one saw me, but, it was when I was getting to comfortable with my new found talent that things started happening.

One day I was flying over the playground and decided to land on top of one of the buildings. The buildings had a lot of stones and rocks on top of them because they were flat. One of the stones rolled off and hit a teacher in the head. I was frantic because she called Buildings and Grounds to get a ladder and find out what was up on top of the roof. I couldn’t stay there and get caught but I couldn’t fly off because no one can miss someone in a bright yellow bikini. When the guy was half way up the ladder I panicked and fled. Off I flew and everyone below was astonished at what ever that yellow thing was. I was really scared of what would happen to me.

It was not long after that I was called down to the principal’s office. Thoughts were running through my head and kept coming back to, did they figure out I was the one who was flying? Scared out of my mind I was herded into the office. The dark haired, stern faced principal started in a deep tone, “Young lady, we have been noticing some strange behavior lately. You have been cutting classes and your teachers have been noticing that you don’t pay attention and seem to be in another world. Therefore we are giving you a guard to supervise you. He will be at you side at all times with the exception of when you are dressing and in the bathroom. All of your personal items will be taken from you also. That is all.”

My emotions ran from thank god he doesn’t know to I’m trapped! The guard led me to my first class, science. I had to ask to borrow a pen and a pencil and was horrified when my teacher told me I couldn’t have a pen because I could blow it up. The guard stood in the back of the classroom watching me the entire period. After class I gave my pencil back to the teacher and she gave me a look of surprise that I actually didn’t steal it and take it with me! During Math next period with my new borrowed pencil I started making a plan of escape. During recess I would climb on top of the highest tower on the playground. I would make to jump off and then would fly away.

What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t be allowed recess in the first place but I would have to sit outside with my guard. I sat fuming that my plan had failed until I realized I was still outside and I didn’t have to be on the playground to make my escape. Running as fast as I could to be as far away from the guard before I took off I tried to pull off as much of my clothes so that I wouldn't be pulled down by the extra weight. My bright yellow bikini was sending strong waves of tingly sensations through me. I took off and flew as high and fast as I could. But, again I didn’t expect what happened next. Before I knew it I was faced with the guards at the towers on the fence with showers of bullets. Bullets that brought the death I always knew would come from this place of endless doom in an endless realm of dreams.

I have always believed that if you can’t be happy in your home, you will never be happy anywhere. But, family is where home is and my family is unlike any other. There are so many differences and experiences that make us unique, sometimes so brutally painful or just honestly simple. When a physically disabled college girl, born with Spina Bifida, met an entrepreneur-ing out of state boy, my dad once told me “there was a connection that just transcended all the physical levels”. They got married right out of college, had two children, and moved to a tiny island off of Grand Island in Buffalo, New York.

I’m the eldest of those two, an able bodied, healthy young girl. My parents have always worked very hard to support us all. Living in Buffalo, I remember happily piling all my stuffed animals on my bed at night and then watching the stars out my windows, windows too high to see out of. When I got in trouble, my stern mother would send me to time out, behind the kitchen door. It was always my luck to be behind the door when my dad got home from work, because I would be crushed against the wall. It was a terrible time for my mother though, being trapped in the house.

Her birth defect, specifically called Myelomeningocele means that there is a hole in her spine and when she was born, part of her spinal column and much of the spinal fluid was in a sac on the outside of her body. Several operations and a lifetime of physical pain is all she has known. I know that when I was five, she got really sick and was hospitalized. With my dad working two jobs and the social workers concerned about my brother and I, we were shipped off to our grandparents’ house until my dad moved our family to a small farming town south of Rochester, near all of my mother’s doctors and family.

For me, I have managed to grow up in a very affluent public school and somewhat sheltered lifestyle. She worked in the school and so everyone knew her and therefore me. But it was a curse for me. Sometimes, having a needy mother makes it feel like I have one parent and two siblings, both taking all the attention. Naturally I lashed out at school, my teachers worried about me, my friends hated me, and my pastor hugged me, until she moved away. We always fought because she always pushed… if she got through her struggle, then my life must be easy and my problems insignificant. Thus, my mother and I are not the best of friends. If I wanted to feign sick or cry to the counselor, I couldn’t… she worked in the Nurse’s office, as well as the Counseling office, and the Main office.

When I was in high school, I realized that my parents and my life were very different then other peoples’. My only real friend had a brain tumor and had undergone major operations. I was a fortunate girl for empathizing with so many people. I even mentored a little girl with deaf parents. But high school drama nearly tore our family apart and my life. Desperate for compassion, I became the victim of an abusive boyfriend and then lost my good friend to the same guy. At the same time, my dad lost his job, and several months later I was involved in a serious car accident that totaled my dad’s car, the most valuable asset to my dad’s new and struggling business, our only hope for financial survival.

Over the past year, our family has learned to live much closer together because we have one car. We each make sacrifices of time and money just to get by. But I have especially started to see a bright light in my future. My experience of life has made me a very unique individual. I have taken what I have learned and become very active in the community and local government, standing up for youth rights. However, besides giving me the most challenging and rewarding environment in which to grow up in, my mother has inspired me to help other people by becoming a doctor.

February 24, 2002

Do you know that point, when someone you love and have known for a long time does something that breaks your trust, forever? It will never be the same. Do you know that point?

A parents’ love for a child is said to the strongest of all.

What pushes a parent to the point of breaking that trust? Or….. completely backing away, no more part of that child’s life. Detaching yourself.

When that trust is broken, an inseparable bond snaps, it can never be sewn back together exactly how it once was. You may get to know and love that person later on more that you ever did, but that little scar is still there.

Today, I mark this day. A bond, a trust, broken.

At first is hurts, you cry. You don’t understand. It’s like you have lost them forever.

I remember the first time.

You only get two chances. Only two hopes. Only two parents. At first you can’t believe it. Denial. Then it doesn’t hurt as much. Even when it happens again it doesn’t hurt as much.

The bond has already been broken.

You don’t remember the pain. You can’t understand why it hurt so much. Then you begin to trust again. But not unconditionally.

It gets better. Sometimes. My first didn’t. I only have one parent now. But now, today, I don’t know. I know one is lost, but maybe I have a chance.

What do I do?

Old poems Vicki- Red

I broke a rule today that I have had with myself since I was in 3rd grade. I read some of my old diary entries/personal stories. I used to write stories and poems. This is the first of two posts. I wanted to share some of the poems here with you....

A dandelion against the shed,

Yellow laboring soundless…

Blithely comforts,

Simply peaceful.

Quietly falls white-blond.

If there are such thing as angels

That save from above,

You are the devil

That showed me heaven

Through the gates of hell.

Saved from every fear

I’ve seen the devil’s cruel face.

Live through it and learn

But never forget

Never regret.





I destroyed myself for you,

Rebuilt myself for you,

Found everything because of you,

And almost lost everything too.

Dreaming gave me what I wanted

While you played with my heart.

Cuz like a cat and mouse

It’s your way

You care.

So, I stand in the wind,

Problems blow away;

I lie in the sun

and they melt into puddles.

Gentle sounds of water

Wash away the fears

And kiss everything below.

Submit to defeat;

Leave behind the mask

painstakingly built,

Because the whirlwind,

A vortex of chaos,



Love, don’t hate…

Forgive and don’t forget,

Never regret

remember that feelin u had,

the one when this evil deed was done

unto u?

think back upon the


u made

to nvr let that happen to anyone u knew.

remember me in your next thought

and how this irony has unfold.

triple it by three...

one for the impact he left on my life,

the memories he boiled out of my locked soul.

And two for the peace you have placed in my heart,

o jesus be gentle with me.

And three, could you ever imagine wut we got

to and where we gone, so dang'rus 'n lust?

now think

how i FEEL!

and on second thought,

is it worth

loosing me

for his love?

Why is this the only reason

I do as you


Fear binds me

To a path I don’t want.

Will you yell at me

For 3 days straight

6 hours of screaming each

4 days of hate

Or drag me by my hair?

I don't want to go to church.

I'm sorry that I didn't do as you said, but

My arm burns

Where he scraped it against the table edge.

I don’t want to find

My self in a corner with a hand,

A foot plate in my back

Or a bed post by my head.

No escape,

Anger irrationally hates.

So today I stay

In my bed,

My room where

I run, but you always follow.

Safe for the first time

Because he is no longer here

And you can’t get in.

Love to obsession;

love turned to rage and


a drowning pool.

Will fear really


Where is my mind,

it echoes…

I hear voices, my past, talking…

Insanity and my past comes alive,

Roller coasters of emotion.

The places where roller coasters echo are not

quiet places.

Trapped again.

I remember this feeling,

This one right now… see my eyes, wide!

My future is to start again…

THE SAME, will it come again?

Don’t push me,

I might easily give in.

Hair as black as coal, straight, too straight;

A saint.

She promises responsibility to God.

her children must know the right path, a godly one.

Her child loves me.

Empathetic eyes full of tears, so sad;

A saint.

She is the door through which entered the Lord.

Her child loves me.

Lighthouses guide more than the lonely, lost boats.

Standing serene and strong.

A lot of love flows from mothers…

and children.

God’s children, forever.



It seems every time


In a wonderful place

It always falls apart.

Afraid of my past

The screaming kills

My heart! My soul!

The insanity!

Hit me

Slaughter me

Yell once more

Put me away


Make more pain

Push me over the line

I DARE!!!!

Schools’ torture

Enraged the crying beast of me.

My only comfort from home

Tossed me back into misery.

I hated them

And they so called loved me.

But then

They turn

They turn on me

They turn on me

It seems.


Left alone to die

To wander in the dark

Emotion running high

The fire destroys my heart inside

From the ashes

Comes alive, a phoenix inside!!!

Come to me

O healing storm.

Jesus be gentle with me.

Let this new place



Of that fear

Of that old me.


Does a strawberry hide


A blueberry’s pride


Indian corn has an


Ocean rhythm