The Colors We Choose


The colors we choose to have around us say a lot about our personalities. Based on that, my personality is fractured.

I pretty much wear nothing but black, gray, green, and blue. The colors I do wear are dark jewel tones–navy blue, hunter or olive green. I don’t wear lime green or cobalt blue. I have one pink shirt and one red one. I seldom wear either. Most of the personality evident in my clothes is on my feet. I have some awesome, crazy shoes, yet, the shoes I wear most often are black Converse All Stars.


I have a friend whose wife sells custom blinds. If a person can’t make up their mind as to what kind of blinds they want in their house, she looks in their closet. She says that the best way to determine a person’s personality is by what they wear. I told her that, based only on wardrobe, I’d have black blinds, but if you look at my house, you’d see this:

Orange pigs, purple unicorns, blue owls, pink monkeys, etc., on a backdrop of exploding color. My house is bright and colorful and cheery. All that color and silliness around makes me happy. I don’t dress like I live. Where does this dichotomy come from?

To console my friend’s wife, I told her that, ten years ago, her theory about closets and personality would have been valid for me. I used to live like I dress. My living spaces used to be dark jewel tones. I even had two sets of black sheets. Now, I have two sets of purple sheets. Two apartments ago, I had a dark green wall with black trim. Now, I have a bright blue wall and this is my bathroom:


Why the switch? Well, I’m not sure, but I can tell you that I’m a lot happier with all that color around.

This is what my creative process looks like: messy.
This is what my creative process looks like: messy.

Yesterday, I designed some badges for Nano Poblano. The first one I created was the light one on the center right. But then, as I do, I kept messing with it until it became the dark one in the center. I liked that one, but I also liked the light one. I could not decide which I liked better, so finally, I just said screw it, and posted both of them.

This morning, I went to add one to my sidebar. I tried both, but ultimately, I used the light one because it went better with my light-colored blog theme.  Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have even created the light one, let alone used it.

In a larger, metaphorical sense, a struggle between light and dark is happening inside my brain. Light seems to be winning externally, but internally, that’s a different story.

Does your clothing match your personality and your home?

Nano Poblano Badges & Assorted Business


It’s almost that time of year again where a bunch of crazy people decide to post on their blogs every day in November. Unfortunately, my tenuous work situation will keep me from participating this year, but I might sign up anyway only to fail on day one.

While Ra (who created Nano Poblano) was away last year, I designed some badges:


I was kind of hoping that, now that she’s back, she’d take over that unenviable task, but no, she asked me to design this year’s badges as well.

Since I’ve been slacking on everything else blog related, I figured I better do the badges right away or I’d forget. So, I spent my lunch hour making these:

NanoPoblano2015light NanoPoblano2015dark

I recycled the little hand-drawn pepper from last year, but changed practically everything else. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the light or the dark one, so I’m leaving it up to you. Which one do you prefer and why? An essay of 500 words will be due tomorrow.

Last year, you may remember a silly idea I had called the Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story. I asked Peppers to add a sentence or two to a story I started. I hoped it might end up at somewhere around 1000 words, but it far exceeded my expectations. We managed to keep it going all month long and wrote a whopping 6500 words!

It was a lot of fun, but some people who got tagged didn’t want to participate and still others didn’t get a chance, so I thought maybe there should be some sort of sign up for those who want to participate in the blog hop story.

Eventually, there will be an official Nano Poblano sign up, but for now, if you’d like to participate in the Blog Hop Story, let me know and I’ll add you to a contributors list. That should make it easier to figure out who to pass the story to when you’re done writing your masterpiece.

Also, Mark has a poll for things you can do for Team Pepper. I’m recycling this diagram from last year to help you decide if you want to participate:

Go Team Tiny Pepper!

Rethinking My Comment Policy


If you have commented here before, your comment will immediately show up. If you’ve never commented on FOG before, your comment will be held for moderation until such time as I approve it. I do this so that I don’t miss new commenters. If I didn’t hold your first comment for moderation, it might get lost in the shuffle, as they sometimes do, and I might not even see it. Also, I have a terrible memory, so unless you specifically say “this is my first comment,” I wouldn’t necessarily know if you’re new or not.

That’s how my blog handles real people. But, apart from those of you who are actually reading (or skimming) the words I write, there are the others. The others fall into several broad categories: spammers, promoters and haters.

Spammers are most likely caught by my very smart Askimet spam detector/deflector. Askimet looks at all comments that come in, and if it finds a comment sufficiently spammy, it shuffles it off to a folder where I might look at it six months from now before I empty it. I look in this folder before emptying, because I have had real people end up in there. Askimet is not foolproof.

Promoters are real people spammers, not spambots, who promote some cause or their own blog. There’s a blogger, a real person, who comments on every Freshly Pressed post published with the same generic comment like “great post.” I won’t call him out, other than to say that he is dedicated. He has commented on all four of my Freshly Pressed posts, which is rather impressive since the first one was in 2011.

Haters, well, we all know the haters. They’re the ones who (possibly) read something you wrote in order to find fault with it and comment. They usually scream at least one or two words in ALL CAPS and have nothing constructive to say. They spread hate, and well, fuck them. I’m thinking of changing my commenting policy, because I am sick of the haters.

Originally, my comment policy was to approve all non-spam comments and reply to them. Then, a throwaway post I wrote about tattoo trends went semi-viral–it still gets views every day a year and a half later–and people leave comments on it all the time. Most of them call be a dumb ass.

It got so bad that I added this to the top of the post:

Screen shot 2015-09-29 at 8.47.45 AM

But, no one pays attention to blue author’s notes either since I continue to get vitriol, usually calling me out on exactly the thing I explained in the author’s note. If people took five seconds to read that, they wouldn’t seem like such fly-off-the-handle jerkwads with no reading comprehension, but they never do. They continue to call me an opinionated bitch, idiot, or idiotic bitch, but never bitchin’.

Here are two comments that cleared Askimet this morning.

Screen shot 2015-09-29 at 11.24.29 AM

Well, this is MY blog, where I feel entitled to have MY opinions. Also, please refer to the author’s note, which had you read it, would have answered your questions.

Screen shot 2015-09-29 at 11.24.45 AM

Seriously, so much hate over tattoos? I could see if I got comments like this on any of my atheist posts, but on a post about tattoos? Really?

So, after so many comments like that where I stupidly tried to reply to someone who would never read it, because they were too busy spreading hate elsewhere, I decided that I would approve them, but not answer them. It would annoy me if I had something to say somewhere and it wasn’t approved, because I didn’t agree with the original poster. That’s called censorship.

But, this morning, when I approved that first comment up there, a thought occurred to me. I run this blog. Me. No one else. If you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read it. If I don’t like what you have to say, I don’t have to approve it.

This is not a publicly traded corporation, political organization, non-profit or any other type of business beholden to the public. In fact, FOG isn’t even a business. It costs me money to have an ad-free blog and it hasn’t seen even a nickel’s worth of profit ever.

So, you know what? Starting today, I am not approving uninformed comments. There’s enough ignorant hatred in the world; I won’t have it here. I went back to find that first comment up there and trashed it. It felt good. Then, I trashed a few more. Wee!

Fuck the haters. Haters gonna hate, but they can do it elsewhere.


Do you have a comment policy? How do you deal with haters?

Happy Tribus


Today, we’re celebrating yet another holiday from the mind of my favorite dinosaur about any three things you love. Since I just did a Hate post yesterday, it seems only fair and balanced to do a love post today.

Coming up with three things I love was surprisingly difficult since the #1 thing I love died in March. I had to really think about three things that make my current state of depression and grief more bearable. So, without further ado, I present three things I love with reckless abandon.


I was going to just say “my dog,” but I didn’t want to leave my relatively useless loaf of cat out. He doesn’t do much besides change places to lounge once in a while, however, he is excellent at receiving affection and his purrs are quite therapeutic. So, I thought about putting “my animals” as the header. Then, I remembered the best hour of my day is going to the dog park where I get to pet a million different dogs. I always feel like Snow White in the forest.

Hello Rusty and Benny and Kirby and Lola. Hello Max and Sheba and Flash and Rosie. How are you today?
Hello, my friends. How are you today?

Animals have a sixth sense for knowing when you’re unhappy or down. They will do whatever they can to cheer you up. They are loyal and constant and give absolutely unconditional love. Yes, even my cat unconditionally loves me. He might get annoyed when I take him to the vet, but he always comes around. I couldn’t survive this world without a fuzzy critter around to try to make everything better and I certainly wouldn’t try.

My personal slice of joy and frustration.


My sense of humor has become tarnished and dull lately, partly due to grief and partly from depression, but it is ultimately responsible for my continued existence. Without it, I would not have survived this long. I would have caved under the weight of trauma long ago.

My humor allows me to find the levity in everything, and believe me, there is something funny about everything that has ever happened. You might not find it at the time, but perhaps years later, you will find something bright and shiny buried under even the deepest tragedies. There is always a little silver string of humor in everything, even if it’s only tangentially related.

My sense of humor hasn’t been good at finding the silver string lately. It has morphed from a lightweight samurai sword to more of a medieval weapon like a morning star.


It is cumbersome and unwieldy. It is almost too heavy to lift, let alone use effectively, and sometimes, I hurt myself with it, but it is not gone. It’s not a razor-sharp weapon now, but it can still deliver a blunt force blow. It has not disappeared entirely and thanks be for that, since if it had, I wouldn’t be here.


I’ve been having trouble with those lately, too. They don’t come easily. They don’t flow. I edit like crazy and I still can’t get them in the proper formation; I can only get them good enough. They don’t form in my brain and pester me until I write them down like they normally do; I have to force them out. I have to pull and prod and cajole them into existence.

But, even if I can’t find my own words, you always have yours. No matter what I write, there you are with your own experiences, insight and humor. You help. Once I hit publish on this choppy, half-assed post, which is a mere fraction of what I’m capable, I know you will be there with your own words that will mingle with mine to form a whole. Thanks for that. Happy Tribus.

Also in the running for three things: coffee and music.

What’s your Tribus? Show us your three and link up.


10 Things I Hate: This Week Edition

Sneetches, Dr. Seuss.
  1. The Pope. That is to say, I don’t hate the Pope. He’s never done anything to me personally, he seems like an alright chap for a Priest, and if he wanted to, I’d invite him over for a cup of coffee. Why not? What I hate about the Pope is that, all week, I’ve heard nothing but news on the Pope. This morning, I even heard a “news” story about him driving around D.C. in a little black Fiat. I don’t care what the Pope drives. I really don’t. What I care about is that I have no idea what’s going on in the world, because all I’ve heard on the news this week is the Pope.
  2. The Pope speaking before Congress. I seem to vaguely recall that America has a little thing called the Establishment Clause, which creates a wall between church and state. This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. Granted, the clause has to do with lawmaking, not having the Pope over for a chit-chat, still, allowing the head of a church to speak for seeming hours on end (he was talking when I woke up and he was still talking when I got to work) in front of the legislative body of American government is too dangerously close to trampling the first amendment of the US Constitution for my liking, even if he is technically also a head of state. This morning, when I heard the stupid Fiat story, I actually said aloud, “Fuck you, Francis. Go home already.” Telling the Pope off from my kitchen when he’s not in my kitchen is not normal behavior for an adult human. Or perhaps it is. What do I know.
  3. Yet another freakin’ heat wave. It was 105° (40.5556° C) yesterday. It will be 105 today. It has always been 105. We’re at war with Oceania. We’ve always been at war with Oceania. Seriously, fuck you, heat. Go home already.
  4. Depression. It has been bad lately. Like, really bad. If you don’t believe me, read my blog posts for the past few weeks. I’m trying to work through it, but like the heat and the Pope, it just doesn’t seem to be going away. On top of that, I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had any time to catch up with y’all, making me feel even more isolated. What’s going on in your worlds?
  5. PCs. I’m getting one at work. When my company was sold, the guy who sold it gifted me the Mac I work on. It is my personal property. Since I already had a computer at home and it had all my work stuff on it, I moved it to my new beige cubicle and have been working on it for the past year. Well, someone in IT finally freaked out that they can’t Big Brother my personal property, even though I gave them access a year ago, so now, they’re buying me a new PC. I haven’t used a PC in over 15 years. I work on a Mac, because I am a graphic designer, Macs are still the industry standard for my profession and all the other designers at my company work on Mac. All of them. I have no idea how this will impact my productivity, but I can tell you (and have told my boss) that it will. Also, they will now be able to monitor my internet usage, which means much less time here. Sadface.
  6. Lack of creativity. One thing I hate about depression is that it keeps me from being able to write or draw or do anything creative. I’ve had to expend what little creative energy I have just doing my job, which is normally a cake walk. I can’t make the words flow. I wrote one post this week that was mainly whiny and just over 300 words, and even getting that many out was a struggle.
  7. This idiotic bit of slacktivism called the Black Dot Campaign:

The idea behind the Black Dot campaign is this: victims of domestic violence can draw a black dot on their hand as a silent signal. Once it becomes widely enough understood, people who see the dot on their friends’ hands can approach them and have a conversation about abuse.

The original idea to give victims of domestic violence a silent way to call for help wasn’t an entirely terrible one (except abusers can see black dots and know what they mean, too) but as things do, when it went viral, it got dumb and distorted.

People who are not in abusive relationships used it as an excuse to attention-whore by posting a black dot selfie in faux aid of the cause. It got so ridiculous that they had to go and change the cause:

instead of drawing black dots in solidarity, the campaign is now encouraging supporters who aren’t at immediate risk of abuse to write “Say no to domestic violence” on their hands to avoid confusion.

And the whole thing reminds me of this:

Sneetches, Dr. Seuss.
Sneetches, Dr. Seuss.
  1. Donald Trump. Seriously? Nearly half of the slack-jawed mopes who even care who is the next President of the United States would vote for this bigoted, xenophobic thing with the sentient hair?
    Donald-Trump-for-President-Memes192He’s the Sarah Palin of this election cycle and I wish he would disappear like she did.
  2. I have no sense of humor. I don’t know where it went, but I would like it back. I miss it very much since it is usually very helpful in dealing with nonsense like 1-8.
  3. Male is still dead, which would be a good thing if there was a zombie apocalypse, but since we don’t have one of those even though I’m prepared, it very much sucks. That is all.

More things I hate.

In This World

Getty images

Slowly, bit by bit, everything is being taken from me. I have lost so much, but I have not lost my want of the things I’ve lost. I have not lost my want of more.

I look at the people around me and wonder, is this what they thought being an adult would be like? Is this what they imagined their lives to be like when they grew up? Are they okay with this? Is this really all there is?

Is having a job and a family all it takes to make a regular person content? Does the guy with the brown bag lunch walking into work ahead of me ever think about his legacy? Did he ever want to be President of the United States or did he know from an early age that was never going to happen for him?

I never knew I couldn’t be President. I am not a regular person. I don’t mean that in a conceited way, as if I’m somehow above the regular people; I mean that I am not like them. I do not fit. I never have.

I spent fifteen years opening up to someone–so very close to open in the end–only to have him disappear. My family died. My future died. My trust and love died. And I look at the middle-aged man dropping his middle-aged wife off at work in a beat up Toyota, and I wonder why they can have that and is it enough?

I wish I couldn’t see that there should be more. I wish I didn’t know what the sky looked like so that I could be content simply with the earth. I want to be a regular person with a brown bag lunch getting dropped off at work without a longing for more so fierce that it hurts. I am envious of their untortured souls and all the things they haven’t lost. I feel like I am in this world, but not of it.

The Patron Saint of Butthurt


A friend of mine stopped by the other day with a cigar and some 12 year aged bourbon. We lived together for five years and I’d forgotten how I missed our evening chats. It’s funny how, sometimes, you don’t miss someone until they suddenly stand before you.

It makes me wonder how much I would miss Male if he could suddenly show up at my door with a cigar and bourbon. Then, I think that every neuron, neutron and quark of the meatsack that is me already misses him as much as it possibly can.

Eventually, I won’t even remember what his face looked like without the aid of pictures. The entirety of Male is already fading. I can picture his lips, hands, chest and eyes with utter clarity as if he’s in front of me, but the whole of his meatsack is a little blurrier. I can’t remember his feet or ears.

My friend and I got to discussing another friend of ours whom we’ve both known since she was a teenager, or at the very least, since her early 20s. That is to say, he’s known her since she was a teenager, but I came later. I’ve only been in this group of friends, Male’s group of friends, for about fifteen years since I moved to Los Angeles.

The friend we were discussing used to be cool. She was fearless and fun and didn’t mind fun being poked in her direction. When I met her, she was a virgin. She lost her virginity in film school and she changed. I’m not sure if it was the loss of virginity, the film school or some combination thereof that did it, but she changed.

She became someone who harped on and on about whatever thing she was into without any regard for whether or not her audience cared. She became one of those film school types, a phrase that makes utter sense to anyone who has lived in Los Angeles for more than a minute, but doesn’t mean a lot to the rest of the world.

A film school type is not dissimilar to any other type of person who goes to school–this predominantly applies to post-graduate study, but not exclusively–for one obscure thing they’re really into that the rest of the world doesn’t much care about.

For example, I’ve run into quite a few philosophy major types. They talk a lot about philosophy. I like philosophy as much as the next guy and I’m rather well-steeped in it for an autodidact, but I prefer making my own, not picking a store-bought one from the shelf. I’d rather read an autobiography than a biography.

You’re probably thinking, well, I like films. I even like talking about films. Film talk doesn’t sound as boring as philosophy talk. And, while it’s true that most people prefer moving pictures to philosophy, film school types take it to the extreme. They don’t talk about films like the rest of us, e.g. I like David Fincher movies; they talk about films in technobabble that I can’t even replicate with any degree of accuracy, because it tends to go out the other ear. There is a vast difference between movies and films.

They will point out flaws in your favorite movies so that you also notice those flaws. They will ruin your favorite movie for you. They always have obscure, but awful choices of movies “you need to see.” The movies they like are technically correct, but terrible to watch for anyone who isn’t also a film student. Do not watch a film-student recommended movie unless you are also a film student, in which case, I won’t watch anything you recommend.

My friend with the bourbon and I were discussing our film school friend. He and another friend have given her a new title: The Patron Saint of Butthurt. I laughed, but then I thought about it, and it’s perfect. Film school friend is perpetually butthurt about something or other. A breakup, the destruction of some archival film print, the state of bicycling in LA, the fact that I never call her… there’s always something to be butthurt about in her world.

He said, “We decided that she just isn’t built for LA. She would do much better in some small town somewhere, preferably with lots of film festivals.”

I said, “I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m not built for LA either.” Unintentionally, all the hurt over Male’s death spilled out into my voice.

He ineffectually tried to collect it in his old fashioned glass, “Perhaps that’s true, but I can’t see you in a small town. You need a city.”

“Perhaps a small city. I should light a candle to The Patron Saint of Butthurt for guidance.”

What was unsaid spoke volumes. He and I both know that a change of venue won’t help anything. I’ve tried that twice before. That old adage, “wherever you go, there you are” is entirely too true. No matter where I go, the hurt will follow. The only difference is that there won’t be anyone to try to collect it for me.

The Thursday That Was Friday

HAPKO (Happy Anime Pink Kitty Organizer) (name courtesy of Alex P)

This has been a terrible week; worse than average, but not nearly as bad as some. It hardly ranks in the top 40 of worst weeks, still, it has not been a good week. I have been stressed. I had a headache Monday through Thursday. I have not slept, but I had bad dreams anyway. I have been yelled at. I have cried. I have been sad and angry and humbled. I have not been happy and content and joyful. Nearly every day this week, I found it difficult to find something to smile about.

Yesterday, I woke up thinking it was Friday. It was on my way to work that I realized it was only stupid, no good Thursday, which just made me wither. And then, another few miles down the road, I thought to myself, “Well, why can’t it be Friday? There’s no reason that Thursday can’t be transformed into Friday with a little elbow grease.” Once an idea like that sprouts in your mind, it’s hard to shake, so, by the time I got to work, I made up my mind that it was Friday, dammit.

I walked into my manager’s office with a time off request form all filled out and said, “I’m calling in sick tomorrow. I just thought you should know.” She said, “Well, when you put it that way…”

Having been privy to the badness contained within working hours, which there was a lot of, she bore witness to the fact that I very much, badly needed a day off. I added, “The last day I took off of work was the day I found out my boyfriend died.” She signed the sheet and gave it back to me. “Enjoy.”

I never take time off of work unless I’m actually sick or there’s some reason to. I am pathologically at work. American workers take less time off than most countries in the world. Most Americans don’t even take the vacation time they earn; I am one of them. I am part of the problem. So, today, I’m taking a stand. Today, I put my foot down. Today, I am not at work for no good reason at all.

Normally, I would feel guilty. In fact, yesterday afternoon, during yet another work crisis, because not a day has gone by this week without at least one of those, I thought that maybe I should cancel the day off request. There are things I need to do today, issues that need following up, emails that need to be sent… No! NO, today, we are European. Today we are taking a day off, even if it kills us.

This morning, I organized my desk with this ridiculous new desk organizer I got:

IMG_0467I edited a post and pre-ordered the new Clutch album. I took my dog for a longer walk than normal. I leisurely drank coffee at my home computer instead of rushing out the door with a travel mug. I have given my dog approximately four hugs and scratched the cat’s belly about the same. I am writing a post that says FUCK WORK in it, without worrying about who’s peeking at my internet usage. I am not thinking about being fired or work crises. I’m not thinking about work at all, other than to realize that I should be sitting in a beige cubicle looking at the clock and thinking it’s only a few more minutes before I can clock out for lunch and have a whole hour to myself. It’s funny how, when you’re not at work, time seems to pass differently.

Instead, I’m thinking of all the things that I could be doing today. I could go to the library or visit the ocean. I could go thrift shopping, and I still might, but I’m really thinking that it’s nap time. Someone’s got to take a nap in the middle of a work day; it might as well be me. My dog and cat are saving my spot on the bed for me. Work work work.

Things to ponder while napping: The dog weighs 70 lbs, the cat weighs a whopping 26, so why do they look about the same size here?

Grief Diary: Six Months


When Male first died, I wanted time to pass really quickly. I wanted it to be ten years later, so that the griefhole in my chest would stop trying to suck me through it; so that I could listen to music again without crying uncontrollably and stop smelling his shirts.

Now that it’s been six months, I want time to slow down. I’m not ready for it to be six months later. In another six months, it will be a year and people will expect me to do things without him. People will start saying, “It’s been a year; you need to move on.” I live in fear of someone telling me to move on, partly because I’m not ready, and partly because I think I’ll stab the first person who tells me that.

I want the safety of having only survived one week, one month without him. Nobody bothers you for anything a month after the love of your life, the person you spent fifteen ridiculous years circling the relationship question with, up and dies on you. Nobody tells you to move on after one month.

Nobody has told me that at six months either, but I can see it coming. I can practically see the date circled on my mom’s calendar. Six months from now, she’ll start nagging me to get married again, like she did from the time I was of marriageable age until she gave up on Male and I ever tying the knot about ten years ago. Six months from now, she’ll try setting me up with her friends’ boring and nothing in common with sons like she did before Male and I met.

It needs to stay 2015, the year he died, forever. I can’t handle anniversaries of his death. I’m not ready for a year, but it will be here in the blink of an eye. I’m not even ready for six months, but it’s here. There are certain words that still send me into mini grief fits. There are songs I still can’t listen to. There are movies I can’t watch and books I can’t read. There are stories I can’t write.

Time passes so strangely during grief; fast and slow at the same time and everything else just fades away. 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months… only the age of children and tragedies are measured in such small increments.

The other day, I ran out of deodorant and went to use his. It was dried up. I started crying. He left me dried up deodorant, and in typical Male fashion, a razor handle for one type of razors and an unopened box of razor refills for another type of razor.

I used all the refills I had for the razor he left, so I went to the store and bought a handle for the unopened box. I bought a razor, deodorant, hand sanitizer and something else I don’t remember now. When I laid all my purchases on the counter, being a graphic designer whose job is mostly color, I noticed aloud, “Everything I’m buying is blue.” The cashier looked at me, looked at my purchases, gave me a strange look and rang up my purchases.

He probably thought that there was someone with stubble waiting at home for that razor. It hurt that he didn’t know the truth. I wanted to scream that I’m buying a razor to fit the cartridges that my dead boyfriend left me, because I can’t just get rid of them. I have to use them, because it’s all I have left. Everything I’m buying is blue!

Maybe when I’ve used up all the razors he left, I’ll be ready to move on. Maybe the tears will have dried up like his deodorant. Maybe then, I can move on. All I know is, today, I’m glad that there are thirty of them in that box.



I’ve heard a lot of people belittle their experiences compared to mine. “I haven’t been through even half of what you have…”

It’s true that I’ve been through a lot. An astounding amount of crap has happened to me in my relatively short life. Here are a few of the big things with title case capital letters that I can plaster “SURVIVOR” after:

  • Meningitis
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Drug addiction
  • Prostitution
  • Homelessness
  • Rape
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Mental Illness
  • Cancer
  • Domestic Violence

That’s a lot of things to survive and those are just the highlights.

But, you know what? I have never:

  • Served in combat
  • Lived in a country where I’m not allowed an education, job, equality or freedom because of my gender
  • Been stabbed or shot for my beliefs
  • Lived in a war-zone
  • Thought that my only option for survival was to get on a flimsy raft and flee to another country that doesn’t want me

My point is, no matter what you’ve gone through, no matter how awful you’ve had it, there is always someone going through worse right now.

All of my trauma is in the past. As I write this, I’m not being abused, beaten, raped, shot at, stabbed, or prostituted. I have a roof over my head. I’m not controlled by nor beholden to a drug addiction, pimp, domestic abuser, terrorist government, etc. I can say what I want, as loud as I want. I can get an education in any field of study. I can wear anything I choose and even expose my face in public. I live in a free country. I am free.

No matter who you are or what you’ve gone through, it’s easy to trivialize your experiences and downplay your pain by comparing it to others as I just demonstrated.

Stop doing that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: trauma is trauma. Whether it’s from getting shot or getting divorced, pain is pain. No one’s pain can make yours any less valid. If it hurts you, if it impacts your life, if you carry it around with you every day, it’s real. It doesn’t matter whether you think your pain is less severe than someone else’s; their pain is not yours and vice versa.

We all have our own unique brand. We have different ways of speaking, thinking, looking, etc., so why wouldn’t it follow then, that we’d all have different ways of processing trauma? We all carry our pasts around with us, whether we want to or not.

Your struggle is real, but no matter how terrible it is, don’t forget that it is not everything that makes you you. Your pain is real, but so is your joy and love and sense of wonder; and so are the clouds and stars and trees that gently sway in the afternoon breeze. Remember to look up once in a while.

You have survived all the crap that life has thrown at you so far, whatever it is. By using the gray matter in your brainpan to read and process these very words, you have proved yourself an evolutionary marvel. You have survived everything it took to get here, to this post, this sentence, this moment, where I am emphatically telling you that you are strong. You are a survivor in great big capital letters. If you’re able to read this, you have already won. You are alive. Give yourself a mighty pat on the back and keep it up as long as you can. High five, baby.