#WalkAway

#WalkAway: Stay Strong Everyone

When I first publish my #WalkAway story, I think maybe five to ten of my friends and family will see it. I look at it as a “safe” way (oh the innocence of youth) to “come out” to them and admit what I’ve been up to lately.

I decide to cover my bases and post it to FB and Twitter because I have conservative friends and family on both platforms that I’ve deliberately lost touch with. I want them to know that I’m sorry and ready to listen with compassion and respect, but I’m still too much of a coward to reach out to them personally.

One of these people is my own brother. This amazingly funny, musically gifted, devoted father and husband who I cast out of my life for the “crime” of being a lifelong religious conservative. I hope that my message will reach him, we unfollowed each other awhile ago (of course), but at the same time I’m too scared to directly send it to him.

I figure I’ll quietly post it and then wait for the inevitable angry phone call from my mother.

Then, as many stories nowadays begin– Reddit happened…

When I realize my video has been seen by thousands of people, this giant lurch starts to form in my gut because I immediately think of what they’re going to do with my past. There’s some pretty aggressive religious criticism and “hyper-woke” tweets, I’m sure– but it gets a lot messier than that.

I understand not everyone can be open about their struggles with mental health so I feel I have a duty to everyone out there suffering in silence to be LOUD about my fight to stay positive and move forward.

I consider for a moment whether I should take it down or make it private. Then I realize that’s exactly what my critics want me to do.

Strangers are using my love for creative and artistic expression as a way to convince others that I’m lying. They’re using my looks and my ability to speak in complete, mostly coherent sentences to say I must be a Russian bot or an alt-right, paid actor. My 20-year-old suicide attempt and my willingness to speak openly about it are being used as a means to discredit everything I have to say.

The problem? I’m not ashamed of any of it. You aren’t going to make me stop acting, you aren’t going to make me stop thinking, you aren’t going to make me stop speaking by pointing out my issues.  A damaged person that comes out the other side and embraces life is only made stronger by that damage. No amount of abuse hurled at me by strangers online will ever come close to the mental abuse I used to inflict on myself.

I just want to tell anyone reading this who has a past, who dares to say out loud that you’re going to think for yourself, if you’re openly proclaiming that you’re walking away they’re probably going to try and attack your credibility by using anything they can find to discredit you.

I sincerely hope you don’t let that silence you.

MeAndJ

Together with his first child– that baby is 17 now!

And there are happy endings: my mother has yet to say anything about the video. I’m holding out hope for her. But my brother saw it, loved it, and reached out to me. I know that we’re going to be okay going forward and I hope we find ourselves together again soon.

Please keep adding your voice to this collective of people from every side of the political fence that want to return to the days of compromise by engaging in civil discourse. Stay strong everyone, it’s rough out there but there’s light at the end of this tunnel if we keep coming together to support one another. You know where to find me if you need help.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Standard
Random Thoughts

Idols vs. Inspiration

Who are you influenced by? Sometimes the people we look up to let us down, or as we grow, the people we idolize become more human and less mythical.

I struggle sometimes with that juxtaposition— the hero I want vs. the real person. I’m working on letting go of my expectations of others and accepting people as they are.

Sometimes that means accepting that I have to let them go, sometimes it means integrating the real person with the lessons I’ve learned from them, and perhaps separating that lesson from their personhood. I’m coming to understand that I can still benefit from what resonates with me while letting go of what doesn’t, and it’s okay to do so.

Standard

I recently got lost and wanted to do a deep dive into my usual round of self-defeating, destructive behavior– mentally tearing myself apart for making a simple mistake…

I was about to start crying when I told myself to regroup and search for any way I could turn this into a positive experience– literally (and I only use that term when I literally mean it) as soon as the thought escaped my head I drove by The Most Amazing Place I Never Knew Existed.

Thank you, Tony and Jim, I mistakenly say you’ve “been in” radio when I meant “INTO radio” but your joy and acceptance was everything I needed right then. You had no idea what you saved me from, thank you for welcoming me to the National Capital Radio & Television Museum with open arms and for turning a potentially rough afternoon into a fantastic one!

I get asked this question a lot and this promotional video from United Way / 211MD does a GREAT job of explaining just what a “typical” day looks like for me. And I’m not just saying this because it features yours truly! (I’m totally just saying this because it features yours truly.)

There’s no “usual” or “boring” day. Being a crisis counselor and resource specialist is more than just talking people off that literal ledge, it’s being there during someone’s worst moments and helping them realize they can get through this.

I’m really proud to be a part of the United Way and 211 community, to learn more visit www.211.org and www.unitedway.org.

My Personal Reboot

What Do You Choose to Become?

That’s what has been running through my head the past few days after watching someone dive deep into depression and anger over the past few weeks. How long do you stay angry at the injustices you’ve experienced in the past?

victimchoice2The more I start to examine this, I’m starting to believe you are a victim when IT happens to you. Whatever IT is. After IT, that’s the real test of your mettle: you can either stay a victim or become a Survivor.

That doesn’t mean your anger has to go away, or will go away. But maybe it’s more about what you choose to do WITH that anger that becomes important. There are Survivors who work -HARD- to process what happened to them and move beyond it. Move to a place where they no longer judge themselves by IT happening.

IT becomes a (small) part of who we are, a tiny thing that makes up the larger SELF that is thriving and vibrant and moving towards freedom. They take their anger and they DO something with it.

But… then there are Survivors that can’t seem to understand that they’ve Survived. They’re still lost in their victimhood. They’re still fixated on their wrong, and allow their anger over being wronged to drive them forward (when really they’re regressing backward). Never to grow, never to move past IT.

We are a culmination of our traumas and our triumphs, and triumphing over a past trauma is a journey that never seems to end, but can get better and become incredibly rewarding with hard work.

What kind of Survivor do you want to be?

Standard
Random Thoughts

Thank You Universe, for Reminding Me…

Sometimes it’s good to take lessons where we can get them. Today I was reminded that perspective is incredibly important when it comes to my mental health.

Cleaning up after breakfast this morning I was all ready to have the Worst Day Ever after spilling (room temperature) grease all over the counter, which made some of it spill onto the floor.

My immediate reaction was to curse at myself, tell myself horrible things, and generally try to make myself feel even worse after making a mess, par for the course for Vee.

Until my (ridiculously big but still a) puppy ran up – more excited than I’ve seen him in… well maybe five minutes because PUPPY. And he immediately leaped into fix-it mode, providing me with all the assistance I needed (and more) with cleaning up this “mess.”

I put that word in quotes the second time for a reason, because it struck me that my mistake was his gain. What I might have considered a horrible way to start the morning turned into the BEST MORNING EVER (this week) for my seven-month-old Rottweiler.

IMG_20161228_122033_515

Seeing him so happy made me laugh and made me instantly let go of my anger. This is one of the biggest reasons why I love dogs, why I’ll always have a dog, and why they’re so integral to my mental health.

So THANK YOU UNIVERSE, for reminding me that problems need to be put into context, for reminding me not to be so hard on myself, and for letting me be a part of my puppy’s BEST MORNING EVER (until mom spills something awesome again).

Standard