#RawrLove for Rara

Today is Rara’s Birthday. The team here at STMND decided to put up a little post telling her happy birthday, and we decided to add a contact form so others could send in their birthday messages as well. The outpouring of love and support is so very monumental that we’ve decided to share those messages with you, before we send them to Rara.

First, here are some numbers that we’ve amassed because of this post, and indirectly, because of Rara. (All numbers are at time of posting and will be updated.)

“Likes” for the Birthday post – 66 79

Page views – 201 210 (new record!)

Countries that have visited – 16

United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Africa, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, France, Malaysia, Ireland

Reblogs – 10

Today we also hit our 100th “Like”. We are very excited and very thankful for all the support and #RawrLove for Rara.

Now, here are the messages we’ve received thus far. (These will also be updated as they come in)

Happy Birthday Rara! There is a world of blogging love that is being sent to you today because you deserve every single bit of it. Your presence has been missed. You are an inspiring and imaginative blogger. I mean, who can beat how you revived Carmen Sandiego for the blogging world? And then took a debate idea and turned it into an online Tug of War? Seriously, I was in disbelief at how you even come up with these ideas. You are outstanding and I’m sending all the positive vibes and thoughts to you possible, as I’m sure many other bloggers are. ~ Kim


Happy Birthday, Rara ! =)
Your blog brought a smile to my face every single time I visited and you always had kind words to share with us all !
You are such an amazing woman, fantastically talented writer and friend to all who are lucky enough to have been graced by your presence…
Be safe, be well and know that not a day goes by that all your friends are eagerly awaiting your life to once again become wholly yours.
Much love… ~ Tish =)


happy birthday sweet rara! you reached out to me in the blog world and really helped me feel connected. a little over a year ago you send me a friendship bracelet in the mail. i tied it on my ankle that day and it is still there! i think of you each time i glance that way, and send a little positive energy into the universe for you. i really enjoyed writing to you, and look forward to getting your new address so that we can continue our correspondence. i miss you! much love on your birthday!

Laura (aka phrogmom)


The interwebs is not the same without you! Happy birthday Rara! ~ The Vanilla Housewife


Happy Birthday my dear Rara!

As you celebrate in some small ways, as I know you will, I know you will feel the love, admiration and acceptance flowing your way from all your dear friends in the blogging world.

I remember when I first started following you. I was a late comer to the rara party, but you were always so welcoming to me. We became fast friends just through comments and the odd email.

You called me your little dragon sister, because we all know dragons are just dino’s with wings.
I miss and love you my sister. Stay strong. Feel the love. ~ JackieP


The first blog post that I read from you was comparing the reader writer relationship to the vampire blood donor one. I was like, wow, this girl is Crazy. I never missed another post of yours after that. Everything you were doing was so original, and so kind. I remember a time that you invited all your readers to leave the links of their favorite posts from their own blogs in your comment section so that we could see each others best material. I was floored by your reinventing the way that we relate to each other in the blogosphere. I admit that with every post that I put up I always looked to see if your dinosaur face appeared and that one like would define for me the success of the post. Thanks so much for being there for all of us. Can’t wait until your back, bringing your magic to our world again.

Too much love, Sreejit


Rara, you were one of the first people I ever followed, many moons ago. Your unfailing positivity, creativity, generosity and sheer energy never fails to impress me. We’ll see you soon back where you belong and I’m thinking of you.

Happy birthday, little Dino.

Love, drali.


Rara,

You are the only blogger that has ever had patience with my many blogging identities. You embraced me no matter what name I was currently wearing. I appreciate that more than you know.
You are such a role model as a person. You really embrace all walks of life and I have never seen you have a moment where you have lost touch in your blogging fame. You keep it real, and fun and beautiful and that is a rare gift, my friend.
I really look forward to your return. I miss you. And Happy Birthday!!
xoxo,
Sarah aka CombatBabe


Happy Birthday Rara, i am sending my hopes out there that you can get into a work release program. Without your light… the blogoshere is a darker place. We think of you daily. Sending hugs and love. xo ~ Dani Heart


Dear Rara,

Unlike everybody else, I don’t quite recall when we met. But I was always amazed by your ability to be so very many things in the ‘sphere. You blogged about everything from friendship to technical advice to silly stories. And we all loved learning about and from you. And we all fell for your gentleness, your positive nature. Your goodness.
May you soon get the birthday wish that we all have for you — freedom!
Much love and peace to you,
Elyse


Hi, Rara,

We’ve never met in person and had a very brief discussion about flossing…. and it was lovely.
So many people think of you and will be waiting for you to come back to the sphere and beyond. Happy Birthday. I look forward to meeting you in person. Your shiny light makes me want to shine, too.
Eva


Every eejit needs a little green friend, and considering I hail from the Emerald Isle you would think it would be a leprechaun right?! But no I found a Rarasaur with a world full of wonderful stories and creativity.

Always smiling and always welcoming, that’s what I like about you.
Happy birthday Rara, hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon :) x ~ Eeijit


Happy Birthday Rara, I wish the best for you. Irene


Happy Birthday. Light will ALWAYS triumph over darkness.

Sending you light and Aussie ancient magic from Australia.
Aunt Sharon.


Dear Rara

Happy Birthday, such as it can be. I hope that all the messages from your dear friends serve to help bring some cheer.
And let me add mine – a small message from a stranger; I’m still gutted about that…selfishly, for I’m sure you, of all people, would rather things were different. But I just want to say how much I enjoyed meeting you, very briefly, just before this awful thing happened and you were shut away. I very, very much hope you make your way back.
But in the meantime, it matters to me – you matter to me – and it was a genuine pleasure to catch even a glimpse of your incredible spirit just before your light got hidden under a bushel, and I still think of you.
The other reason I’m so glad of you – even if it’s mostly in a second-hand manner – is Samara, who talks of you often; of your magic, your generosity, your indomitabilty, your reading and reading and reading, and the way in which you had time (and gentleness) for everyone. You have made a deep and wonderful impression on her, and in the time I have become friends with her, she has been kind enough to try to teach me some of the lessons she’s learned from you.
I’m a slow learner, I’m afraid, but she’s bearing with me. I think it bears saying that you have something *incredible* about you to have gathered so many stellar people around you, and to have made such meaningful, genuine friendships. You are an inspiration, and like a pebble thrown into a still pool, your impact ripples ever onward and outwards.
Sending prayers and wishes for ‘medium’ for you.
Lizzi (The Considerer) x


Rara, I think of you often. You are a shining light in a dark and weary world. Happy Birthday, and stay strong! Deb


Rawr,

Take care of your sweet self and hope they take good care of you inside. I’m sure you have infected people with your zest and positive attitude. We will be here and Kozo will keep us up to date.
BTW, Greenland do exists and i have it on my map. And I manage to get one from China. That was a tough one. Woo hoo…
Perpetua aka Seeker.


Rara, here’s to another Birthday wish from me to you.
Happy Birthday Rara :) You are beautiful, you are wonderful and you are loved as how you always love those around you. May your angels, guides and the light and love of all those who have you in their thoughts and prayers be with you always :) And may the sparkling light that is within you always shine bright even when things appear dark. *hugs* ~ shreejacob


I’m not sure who found who. But that little Rarasaur showing up in my emails with a post or a comment always made me smile. There is something reassuring about her presence. Kindness and acceptance and encouragement all wrapped up in a beautiful soul. Thank you Rara’s parents for the gift of your child to us! Happy Birthday Rara!!!! ~ Chatter Master


I actually just found out about Rara’s imprisonment the other day. I had my head in a hole these last months, and when I read her husband’s post I started crying. I barely know Rara, but I was in awe of her – all that she did as a blogger in such a short time. Brilliant and shiny, that’s how I think of her. Too bright for bars. May you have a wonderful birthday and feel all the love coming your way.

Much love and peace to you,
Sharon


I happened by a blog one day and saw a link to “Rarasaur.” The name stuck and I hopped over.
Loved. It.
When Rara started “Prompts for the Promptless,” I was hooked! Her wit and brilliance always brings a smile to my face. I miss her regular web presence for sure, but imagine her bringing smiles to those around her.
Happiest and most blessed of birthdays to my favorite Dino-chick. Keep your head up. We await your return. For now, I hope you feel us sending hugs from afar…
AR Neal


While it may be difficult for you to really ‘celebrate’…never-the-less I do wish you a Happy Blessed Birthday and that you may realize there are many who are thinking of you today… that you are special and this is your special day…. Diane


Dear Rara,
I love you. I hope you have occasion to smile today, at least once. It’s easy to forget to smile – in the throes of thought, in a moment of despair, during a rainstorm – but do remember to do so as much as possible (even if you do not feel like it; that is when it’s most important to do so). It is how sunshine gets into our souls.

You matter, my dear. You are loved.

Melanie (Isy & Niko, too)


 

 

rawrlove

big_green_baby_dinosaur_poster-d2283152213265648328phc_500

Happy Birthday Little Dinosaur

We are patiently waiting for you to come out of your cave. While we wait we’ve decided to celebrate your birthday with some Stories about you that will live on forever.


One day, a dinosaur appeared in my fishbowl. She was wildly drawn and breathing fire, but I wasn’t afraid. She dropped an insightful comment and left. I poked my head into her domain and found a wondrous world full of creative and awesome things. I followed her immediately.

A few months after we met, she asked me to guest post on her blog. It was my first guest post. I was nervous as hell, even though, at that point, I didn’t realize what a blogging celebrity she was. I posted what, in all honestly, is one of my most half-assed posts since I had the flu at the time, but her audience was kind, just like Rara.

For the very first FOG Mad Lib contest, I had only a few entries until she wrote about it on her blog. Suddenly, the entries poured in. I met quite a few people who are still my bloggy friends that way.

Rarasaur, my brilliant friend, you are the most selflessly thoughtful and genuinely nice person I’ve met online. You radiate guileless wonder with a sense of playful mischief. You bring joy to the world in a way Santa Claus wishes he could. You are unique, brilliant, funny and terribly missed.

I miss reading your blog. I miss seeing your little dinosaur on mine. I hate that this is the kind of world where someone like you is visited by injustices like mine. I want to protect you from all that in the way a mother wants to protect her child; not because it’s her duty, but because she wants to see that innocent beauty shine unfettered. There should be more of that in the world.

Happy birthday, my dino friend. Here’s hoping next year will free you from the bad birthday club. ~Goldfish


I saw Rara (you) before I started blogging.  You sent TwinDaddy a blogcard for Holiday 2012.  I was intrigued.  As I read you, I was inspired by your positivity.  TD posted the Lemonade post and the Jealous Blogger post.  The latter made me furious because you were a bright spot in the blogsphere and people were going to be mean?  I read your BBW post and thought that it was gutsy…I most remember one of your last posts.  You said it was inspired by Samara.  It was a lesson that I will never forget.  I hope you come home soon.  Happy Birthday, Rara. ~ 1Jaded1


Rara, I thought you were a guy. For some reason, I see Godzilla as a male, so when I saw your avatar, I assumed you were a male. When you finally posted a picture I was shocked that you were a beautiful woman of color. Half-Latina, Half-South Asian, Artist, Nerd, Blogger. You are still one of the most unique souls I have ever met. Over the next year and a half, I fell in love with you, your family, your cats, your husband, and your spirit. I am so grateful for the day you were born. Happy Birthday, my dear friend. Love, Kozo.


I hope you have a Happy Birthday, my friend.  I can’t imagine that “happy” is often a word associated with time in jail, but for every bit of sorrow I feel for your current situation, for how dark our world here is without you shining your brilliant light, I know that you are still shining that light, you are still the amazing you and spreading your frightfully wondrous brand of knowledge and joy to those fortunate enough to share not just your birthday, but every day of the next year (or so) with you.  I wish you all the bloggy love I can muster.  I wish you all the RawrLove we can conjure out of the blogosphere and send your way, and, because I know you wouldn’t want it all for yourself, to everyone around you as well.  I wish you peace.

When our families find each other again, we will swap stories, laughs, and tears, we will celebrate your birthday, your freedom, your life.  Until then, know that there is a whole world of people who love you and sending happy thoughts and positive energy to you on your birthday and every day.  Because you deserve it.

Happy Birthday, Rara.  – Matticus


Happy birthday, chica!

I hit my blog-a-versary recently, which means we have been friends for two years now.  We “met” when you wrote a post about video games and love (or something) and I knew I had found my quirky,proud to be dorky, soul sister.  I couldn’t hit “follow” fast enough.  Since that initial discussion about gaming and guys, we have formed bonds over aura and color, grief and isolation, haircuts and self-confidence, legos and dorkiness, insomnia and awareness and so much more.

That list is only going to get longer too, as the years continue to bring us closer together.    You brought sunshine to me in some of my darker hours.  Actually, some days you still do as I look back over our emails.  I hope to always be able to return that favor and be there when you need it, even as the darkness fades and you emerge back into the world that seems so much more colorful because of you.

Love to you my dear friend.  I hope to see you soon, on or offline.

Your Slightly* Older Sister-in-Spirit,

NAPR

*hey, I had to make you laugh somehow, right?


It wasn’t an accident that you were my first blogger in the Year of Bloggers this year, at least I don’t believe it was. Something prompted me to choose you as the first, and those prompts were confirmed as magical after you read the post. The scripture that I decided to add, 2 Samuel 23: 4, is the same one that is engraved on your favorite bookmark, which come to find out I reckon you use it quite often. I especially love that scripture. It reads ~ And (s)he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. ~ I added the (s) because I know this is talking about you. You are the light for each of us, and especially for those around you now.  The day when we meet face to face will be one of the happiest of my life. Enjoy this day and remember, no matter what – I’ll always be older than you.

Love, BroJo


My little dinosaur friend is one of the most special and rare people on this Earth.
When my little castle first started stacking its cards, there was a small but loyal following. No one really said much, but that was soon about to change.

One day, a bright, vibrant, little creature popped into my puffy, clouded world. During that moment, something magnificent took place. Someone that is quiet, a bit shy at times, and not always the friendliest, made a friend. I was amazed by her genuine kindness. The tiny dinosaur with a huge heart told me how my artwork made her smile. She spoke of another peaceful land how this art would fit perfectly there. It was then that I met Kozo, another one of her fantastic friends that welcomed me into his world with open, loving arms. It wasn’t long after she pointed me in the direction of many wonderful others, including a golden fish who’s pain was so similar to my own, but yet so beautiful.

My little dinosaur showed me it’s okay to let people in again. I’m forever grateful that we have crossed paths.

Happy Birthday, you magical being. As I told you before, this is just another tiny adventure.

Love Always,
Daydreams


Rara-

On my very first blog post your little dinosaur gravatar appeared and left a page long comment! You were a blogging superstar, and I had just written my first post. How did you ever find me?

It was fate. That’s how. You doing that for someone you didn’t even know is just part of the Magic that is Rara. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship as you helped me navigate my way through the blogosphere. You had so many beloved friends in your life, yet you made room for one more. I never saw someone give so unselfishly of themselves before. Everyone in the ‘sphere seemed to turn to you for love and support, and you never ceased to come through.

You, with your crazy hours and your California time zone, were an East Coast insomniac’s dream come true! You stayed up all night with me on more than one occasion. Those middle of the night talks bonded me to you in ways only we know about. Thank you for being my friend when things were at their absolute bleakest.

Happy Birthday, Rara. You embody all that is good in people. You are Unconditional Love, with room in your heart for everyone. I have been inspired by you to be the best version of myself I can be.

I miss you. Please come home to us as soon as you can.

Love, Samara


If you would like to share a thought, story or anecdote about Rara please fill in the form below. We will do our best to make sure she sees it.

***Sorry For Any Confusion*** 

If you use the contact form below your comment will NOT show up in the comments of this blog. It will be emailed to us, ensuring that all of them are together, making it easier for us to keep track of them to present to Rara. 

Impending Loss

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted anonymously

————————————————————————————————————–

 

Hardwired Heart Hand

I think most people will agree that the Blogosphere’s a wonderful place to connect and discover like-minded people. Few who read this will dispute that the relationships which can be formed online are anything less than real. The friendships which can evolve, either through sudden, thrilling eruption, or a slower-blooming-but-equally-sweet manner, are as real as the friendships of the offline world.

In fact there are those who would subscribe to the idea that the friendships here can (in ways) be more real. They are unfettered by physicality and the need to undergo the minutiae of a person In Real Life; rather they allow bared souls to form bonds without the requirement for things like watching someone eat, noticing their hairstyle or discovering that their tuneless whistling annoys you.

And that’s where, on occasion, problems arise.

When your real-life friend has a crisis or hurts themselves or needs you, you can be there. You can go to them and look after them – do what needs doing, be it hugs or housework or bringing them a meal or offering them sanctuary – you have the privilege of being the actual, physical shoulder they cry on and lean on, and you can help them back to a place where the world is shiny and good (or at least, as much as it’s possible to be).

When your online friend, with whom you’ve bonded and built a friendship, has a crisis or a problem…you’re stuck. You got nothing. You’re a lump of useless at the end of the screen, unable to offer anything more constructive than pixelated encouragement and a figurative listening ear (unless you’ve got WhatsApp or Skype or whatever – then you can talk, but you’re still a million miles away and can DO nothing).

And that hurts. Sometimes more than is bearable.

So here’s the thing – I’ve fallen in friends with someone wonderful. She’s funny and sparky and makes me laugh with the way she pronounces words. She’s a deep thinker with a wonderful mind. She’s had an incredible life, she writes poetry and can talk about philosophy and dog poop in the same breath. She’s incredible. She also has end-stage cancer.

She had it when I first got to know her – in fact, she’s had the cancer for most of her life, and considers herself lucky to be alive. She wrote recently about how the slower-moving, less destructive form of the cancer she has, had upped its game and turned nasty. It turned nasty about a year ago. I plucked up the courage once, to ask her how long end-stage lasts.

My heart went cold when I read her response. Apparently the doctors give two years as an outside estimate. Which means we’re halfway through. Or further.

Her poetry more frequently reflects her weariness with treatments; her anger at her disease; her exhaustion.

She’s not around as much as she used to be.

She has ‘good days’, where before, the state of the day never needed to be mentioned.

She once wrote a beautiful and utterly heartbreaking poem about how sick she was of being sick. How much pain she was in. How difficult each day was to face. It sounded as though she were at death’s door, and I immediately fired off an email to her to check in. Then spent an hour or two with tears pouring down my face, re-reading her poem and talking to other mutual (internet) friends about how terrified I was that she wasn’t responding, and we all agreed that for THIS, the internet sucks.

Eventually she checked in.

But I know that at some point, the emails and messages will stop. Her blog will go to seed. There will be no more responses on WhatsApp. No further replies.

Ever.

I will be faced with the undeniable truth that she’s gone…

…and I don’t know how to handle that.

I am an unseasoned survivor; ill-equipped to handle the grief of losing someone who sent me a photo of my name in a heart in the palm of her hand in response to the one I sent her. By the time I hear about her funeral, it will likely be over and done with. I have no framework for this. No former experience to draw upon. It will be deep pain of a cruel and isolated kind.

Herein lies the folly (and wonder) of allowing yourself to care for people so far removed. And even as I sit, choked, trying not to imagine the agony of that day, I can’t help but marvel at the innate and incredible determination of the human spirit to build connections and forge warm relationships, with utter disregard for geography and the thousands of miles in between friends.

So in spite of the distance, I know that she’s right here in my heart – which one day soon will be broken.

 

 

The Unseasoned Survivor

 

I fell and grazed my hand today.

Gauged striped across the palm

Where sits your name

Still inscribed

In faded, hardwired heart.

 

And as I wiped the blood

And washed my wound with tears

I trembled and hoped for no omens;

No portent in this circumstance.

 

And yet I know

That portent or not

The day is coming

(The time so precariously borrowed)

And the axe on its horsehair

Begins to look heavy

I see you quaver

Stumble

Try once again

To lift your head and face life

As you usually do.

 

And suddenly, I am swept away

By the raging of my impotent, unseasoned-survivor soul

As it tries to break the world with keening cry

Of twisted, deepest anguish: “Please don’t…”

 

I

 

…realise I can’t even say the word

 

That hateful word

(Though it belongs to us all

Someday)

Of shattered heart.

Of loss.

Of lives undone by grief.

Of us – the survivors -

Learning to continue

Too soon.

 

And so I sit

With tears wrenched forth

From bitter soul

And know that once you’re gone

My world, no longer whole

Will carry on.

No travesty intended

Yet ever changed

For knowing –

And missing –

You.

where-there-is-love-there-is-pain

The Worst Pain

I’ve stubbed my toe on the couch, end tables, walls, door jambs, appliances and even shoes. Once, I went floating down the Comal River with my brother and some of his friends, the end result causing me to have to wear sandals to work for a full week because of the sunburn on my feet. This was an office job. Speaking of the office, I mustn’t fail to mention all the paper cuts.

Growing up I would often suffer from migraine headaches, usually causing me to become sick. Later on in life alcohol would cause me to be sick, then lead to headaches. A hangover headache can be pretty severe all over, but especially behind the eyes.

In my advanced age I take naps regularly. Seldom do I come out of these midday slumbers unscathed. Crick in my neck? Yep. Stiff ankle? Sure thing. Frozen back? Why not. A pain in my knees and elbows that makes me wish they would fall off? Good. Night.

At the tinder age of twenty-one I developed kidney stones. It started with a slight discomfort, like I had to use the restroom. Over the next hour if moved from discomfort to totally unbearable. I ended up driving to my mom’s house and having her take me to the emergency room. Looking back it would’ve been quicker to go myself, but I’d never been through anything like this before. I couldn’t stand, sit or lie down, nothing made it better. It’s the worst pain I’d felt, up until then.

Pain is a tricky thing. It’s inevitable, necessary,  essential, imminent and unavoidable. Pain isn’t always bad. Without pain we wouldn’t know what pleasure is. Every yin must have its yang. This doesn’t keep it from hurting us though. I could take all the instances of pain listed above and put them in order from least to worst, but the list wouldn’t be complete. Nothing would come out on top as The. Worst. Pain. That’s because The. Worst. Pain. is Love.

Love comes in all different shapes, sizes and categories. Here are some of my love-pains.

A grandfather who will never make the greatest tasting spaghetti sauce, ever again.

An aunt who is slipping further and further into dementia.

The brother who has PTSD, and knows it, but still might need some help.

A grandmother who will never comb and braid her very long, grey hair again.

The buddy who definitely has PTSD, and almost ended it all.

The girl who lived happily ever after, with someone else.

There are many more, too many to list. The thing is, I’m still here. I’m still alive, I’m still moving forward.

The pain hurts, but it passes.

As Shawn Mullins would say – Everything’s Gonna be Alright, Rockabye.


*Featured Imagine Credit: The image was taken from a blog site that is no longer in existence. If you know where credit should go please say so.

 

I Bleed Therefore I Am

wanna die

When I was a girl I was terrified of my mother.

She wasn’t a malicious person. She was just completely ill-equipped to live the life fate had created for her. She had no education past the 8th grade, didn’t know how to drive, and had no marketable skills. Her 46-year-old husband walked out of the door a healthy man and dropped dead of a heart attack a few hours later. He left her with 6 children, aged 2 – 12.

She was an orphan who grew up in a group home. There was no love there, only beatings. So she relied upon corporal punishment to discipline us. I have long forgiven her, because as Maya Angleou said, “You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

She worked 3 jobs, 70 hours a week and was rarely home. So, if you provoked her anger, sometimes, she let you know that you were in big trouble – later.

That was the most terrifying part. The beatings were never as bad as the emotional agony of anticipating one. I wondered what her hands would grab – her shoe, a spatula, once a cutting board – because it hurt her to use her bare hands. I have inherited her narrow hands, and long, slender fingers. Only mine have never been used to strike my child.

I was 11 years old and cleaning up the dinner dishes. I had lost a brand new pocket book that afternoon. Brand-new anything was hard to come by in our household, and I knew I was in trouble. The fear manifested as pressure in my hands and I squeezed a glass. It shattered. I’ll never know why – but I grabbed a shard of glass and dug it in my palm.

Relief.

As soon as the blood dripped out of my hand, the excruciating precognition leaked out of my brain. The immediacy of the physical pain took precedence over all.

That was the night I got knocked in the head with a cutting board. My oldest brother, who raised me, brought me to the hospital and held my hand when they stitched up my scalp. I remember him looking down at my hand, saw him seeing the gash. But he said nothing. Not that time, or any other.

I stopped cutting in my early 20’s and replaced it with a narcotics addiction. And as I got older, I found positive ways to combat my inner turmoil, and relied neither on drugs nor cutting. However, my worldview was built upon a damaged foundation. I’m still in the process of renovating, and it becomes sturdier all the time. But occasionally, the faulty misalignment at the base of my existence wavers, and the life I have built weaves precariously out of control. If I do cut, it’s always predicated upon an experience that dredges up childhood fears.

Recently I had a falling out with someone I see as an authority figure. I started the argument. I was upset and behaving irrationally and he became furious. Unfortunately, there was no time to resolve our dispute and the discussion was tabled until the next day. And I was left with the knowledge that I had angered him tremendously, but there would be no closure that day or night.

I fell completely apart.

I entered a time warp and sat in my childhood bedroom, awaiting my fate. My skin didn’t fit. I couldn’t get comfortable. No matter how I sat or lay, my body kept bumping into the sharp angles of my own pain and there was no impending sleep. I wandered into different rooms, seeking a place to settle myself. I needed to release some of the emotions flooding my body. I felt like a bomb, suspended in the forever right before it detonates.

I cut.

I cut, therefore I bleed.
I bleed, therefore I am.

It was not pleasurable. It never is. It is the absence of pain. And the absence of pain is a beautiful thing.

When I cut, whatever turmoil I am experiencing gets pushed onto the back burner of irrelevance as the reality of open flesh and blood take precedence. From an aesthetic perspective, the deep red visuals dominate the delicate landscape of skin.

And I feel in control now. In control of my own pain. I get to injure myself. I’m in charge of what I feel, not you. Your words can’t hurt me. Only I can hurt me.

Self harmers are given advice on how to avoid this behavior. We are told to wear rubber bands around our wrists and snap them to create a sharp sting, to eat pungent foods like jalapeno that burn fiercely. To create the same neurological pathway of pain stimulus, without actually opening the flesh.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I don’t even try. I just cut.

I rarely cut anymore. This was an anomaly.

I have a lingering irrational fear of my friend. I feel terrible because he is a kind person who, if he knew about this, would probably be upset. He had no idea that our unsettled turmoil would trigger this maelstrom. I try to resolve all conflict, especially of my making, as swiftly as possible.

I cannot have unresolved anger towards me live in my body. I need to know that I am forgiven and loved, despite what I have done.

The cuts are almost healed. The friendship will take a bit longer, but I’m hoping my soul is as resilient as my skin.

And my misaligned foundation is getting balanced and strong; so strong, that there are days – where I am almost magnificent.

Do you know anyone who self harms? Or copes in other destructive ways?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

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S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES®

Phone:800-DONTCUT®
800-366-8288
Email:info@selfinjury.com
Web: www.selfinjury.com

The Clock Won’t Stop While We Dance

Brother Jon:

With the latest news going around the webs we offer this story from Card Castles in the Sky. Please have a read…

Originally posted on CardCastlesInTheSky:

In the wake of a tragic loss, the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams something has come to light. Suicide and depression are no longer topics to be avoided. This is something I’ve stressed both here and on Stories That Must Not Die. It is a shame it takes something like this to get people talking (and more importantly doing something.)

I was hesitant about posting this fiction before. Now I know I must.

WARNING: The following fiction deals with mature subject matter. The characters deal with an immensely dark side of depression. There is a heavy load of triggers. 

The Clock Won’t Stop While We Dance

“I know it’s no fun to be weak.” It was a moment in time. Perhaps it was too truthful, raw, and much too real. We all have our weaknesses. Some can be felt more than others. Coping is a dance we do to fit in, and most of…

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Together, But Alone

This post was submitted anonymously.  Please note, it is not related to any earlier posts on this site.


There are so many ways that sexual abuse and rape effects and robs a person. It doesn’t just happen and then it’s over. Those of us who’ve lived through it pay for it every single day of our lives, in one way or another.

Sure, we can heal and become survivors and not victims, but it doesn’t mean that we’re over the abuse. It just means that we are learning better ways to cope with the effects it has on us.

It scares me to write about this, but my hope is that if I do, others may not feel so alone in it like I do right now.  I need to share one of the ways this affects me and my life.


Sexual abuse can cause a person to resort to extreme behavior.  Survivors can end up living a very promiscuous lifestyle as a direct result of the abuse. They tend to look for love in all the wrong places.

That’s what I did in my twenties:  I mistook sex for love. I was born into abuse so I didn’t get the love I needed from my family.  Saying “no” was considered “bad”, so I never learned how.  Men ruled, in all areas, and if they didn’t get what they wanted there would be hell to pay.  Physically and emotionally, but not sexually.  One way or another you did what you had to in order to keep “him” happy.   Whoever “he” may be.  I carried that message with me past childhood, leading me to be victimized further.  I fell into that very promiscuous lifestyle. I’m ashamed of that. If I could go back in time and warn my younger self I would.  But I can’t.  None of us have that option, unfortunately.

Remember I mentioned extremes?  Today my life goes in the other direction.  I am married to the love of my life, yet I have absolutely no sex drive.  At all.  I didn’t choose this, I hate that it’s happened and I feel lost.  The one person who loves me unconditionally, who doesn’t deserve to deal with this struggle of mine, is the one who has to live with my lack of sex drive.  My heart hurts with the thought.

I often wonder if this is because he is the love of my life?  Everyone else would use me and leave me; this one loves me and stays. That concept is foreign to me, and I wonder if my mind has trouble processing that, it screams that sex isn’t safe and love is fake. Men don’t love, they just want sex. All messages from my upbringing as past.


Unfortunately, when I do compromise and give in to sex, I’m constantly struggling with triggers, flashbacks and even dissociation. I don’t usually let him know when any of that is happening, because I don’t want to wreck the moment further for him.   Knowing this is likely to happen also has played mentally into my lack of desire.

Then, there are my husband’s feelings.  I know what he is going through, and I feel powerless to make it better:

  • He feels guilty for desiring sex because he knows I don’t.
  • When I do consent, he feels like he’s raping me because he knows I have no desire and he never wants me to feel pressured.
  • It makes him feel undesirable. He wonders why I slept with all those others but have no desire to make love to him in the intimacy of marriage.
  • It’s confusing for him to understand how it all works, and hurts him in different ways.

Please understand that my husband has never pressured me or made me feel like I must submit to him. He has gone out of his way to make sure I know it is OK, encouraging me to say no when I need too. The problem for me is that there isn’t a “yes” when it comes to sex.  It’s all me, not him.  That’s not fair to him, at all.

Yet, the word “no” has so much guilt tied into it for me. I think it’s the single most difficult word in the English language for me to use. It’s even harder when I’m saying it to the love of my life.  As a result, I don’t often say it, which causes more struggles. My husband never knows if my “yes” means yes or if I really mean “no”.  I want with all my heart to mean yes. I try to convince myself of that.

Can you imagine the ongoing confusion and internal battles for us both?

I’m so sad and I hope that it won’t be forever. I’m in therapy dealing with the years of sexual, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse that I lived through. Healing from that is a long drawn out process. It takes time to undo all the brainwashing, false teaching and survival methods of the past. My therapist says the lack of sexual desire is self-protection. I wish that I could let my brain know that I’m safe now, that I no longer need to protect myself. My husband is not using me, he truly loves me.

There is another word…love.  Another one that is hard to understand with my past.

Still, I long for the day when I will know what it’s like to desire sex, to look forward to making love to my husband whom I love and cherish with all of my heart.   I never thought this would last so many years now. I long to be able to feel his love for me. To believe it.

I don’t wish this on anyone but I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this. I feel so very alone in this battle.  Is there anyone that can relate?

A Simple Plan

Trigger warning for suicidal thoughts. 

 

It was a simple enough plan. It made perfect sense at the time, June to December 2011.

My son would turn 18 on August 20, 2014.  At that time, his biological father would have no claim to him legally in matters of custody or upbringing.  He would be out of high school and  likely living with his “dad”, aka former step-father by then, given his love for the mountains and that region of the state.

That meant I could plan on killing myself after August 21, 2014.  Or thereabouts.  No later than Labor Day.


 

I can write this out now, not even three weeks out from the date I thought I would be gone, knowing that I will be here (God, goddess, Fate or Spaghetti Monster willing).  Not even three years ago, it was a clear plan in my head.

Before I got to that point, things had been going pretty well.  Or so I let myself believe.  After my divorce in 2007, I had met someone and gotten engaged, found my dream job and was “going in the right direction”.  Yes, I was still depressed and still going through the motions of the bulimia binge-purge dance, but nothing too hard to handle.  The ugly divorce, losing where we lived and so much of more would still be there, moving further and further into the past.  I thought I had gotten along quite nicely without any help, thank you very much.

Then, the fiancé left me for his ex when she decided the grass wasn’t greener on the other side of the bed .  The perfect job turned into a nightmare that still shakes my professional confidence to this day.  My occasional binge-purge periods turned into daily rituals with ulcers,indigestion and throat bleeding to show for it.

The depression was the worst though.  I could not get through a day without crying.  I didn’t think I would stop crying at times.  It was the worst at work.  My boss already made it clear she did not like me and hadn’t wanted to hire me (another story for another day), so I didn’t really give a damn if I broke down there or not.   Better to break down in front of someone who I no longer gave a damn about, professionally or otherwise, than at home in front of my son.

Yes, through this all, I was still being the primary caregiver to my child.  I did my best to be a good parent during that time, but looking back I know I was lacking.  How could I not have been?  Still at night I wonder if my deep dive into the darkness kept me from seeing even the earliest signs of his mental health issues, that I drove him to the depression that caused him to make an attempt on his life.

I did what I could to keep things together at home, while looking for a new job.  The latest-ex was still contacting me, going on about how he would have married me if the better option hadn’t become available again.  In his mind we were “friends” and he could say such things.  I was powerless to tell my job to back the hell off, I was doing what I was told to do by them, and too heartbroken to ruin any “chance” I had by asking the ex to stop calling me.

The crying jags got worse, plus I was now sleeping days away and cutting off contact with people, offline and online.  I ignored messages from friends, had my phone off more often than on and set all my social media to “private”.  This time is when I started to think that my child deserved a better parent, but my options were limited.  I wasn’t getting better, so what else could I do?  The stepfather he adored had no legal ties to him so if I were to die, he would go back to the biological father who ignored him for ten years.   My family could intervene, but that was also precarious, given their opinions on my decision to even have him from the beginning.

One day I decided, if I could just get through the next few years, it wouldn’t matter what state I would be in, now or by then.  I could plan everything out so that the process would be “easy”.   He would inherit my life insurance through work plus my retirement accounts; I had learned over the years that our plan did pay out for suicide.  I would get rid of as many of my belongings as possible so he wouldn’t have to go through cleaning or dismantling a living space.  I could even start payments on a cremation plan to offset the costs when the time came.

I would set everything up for him to have a better life, without me.  Starting over without having a mentally ill mother to worry about.

Yes, it made sense at the time to plan my death, by suicide way in advance.  I was determined that I was no longer going to be here.  I didn’t want to hurt anymore, I didn’t want any more pain.  I couldn’t keep living like I was, literally making myself sick.  Nothing else had killed me so far, so if I was still here when he came of age, I would finish the job.  I had no plan to get to 38 years old or beyond.

Then it got worse still.  My lowest point, I said to myself things would work out, he would be OK, I would go on my 35th birthday.  This was the December when I was 34; my birthday is in March.


 

So, what happened?

I really don’t know what it was, but one day at the hell-job, I decided to just see if anyone would be willing to help me.  Not able, medically or whatever.  Just willing.   Because, honestly, who the hell would actually care?  I called my Employee Assistance Program, who got me in touch with a psychiatrist and a therapist, which is where I have been ever since.  That call that day literally saved my life, then and up to today.

I got into therapy and have kept that up as I can with the schedule I have.  I started medication and got on a regimen that seems to be working.  There have been a lot of up and down times since those days,  but I somehow have managed to get through by actually using the resources available.

Today is the first time outside of a mental health practitioner’s office that I have been able to admit that I was ever anything more than passively suicidal.

Why mention it now, when I am doing better?

Because while I am much better, I am still not great.   Not even good on some days.   I still have those moments of being low.  I still have doubts about what I am doing in life and why I am even here.  The difference is now, I can recognize those times.  I know what there is available to me for help.  I can recognize that stage in between being OK and planning my funeral so that it doesn’t come to that extreme.

Knowing that I am not alone and letting others know that they are not alone in situations like these; that those are what the resources are there for;  that we won’t be judged or shamed for having these thoughts makes all the difference.  That is why I write about my experiences, including this one now.  It took me too long to ask for help; I spent time planning my funeral when I could have worked on wanting to live instead.

Three years ago I had everything planned out to die.  Now, I don’t know what I have planned for tomorrow, much less three years from today.   Thankfully, plans do, and always can, change.


Do you need help? Please do not wait.  Reach out now, someone will be there for you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Things Are Never Usually What They Seem

This post was submitted anonymously.


“He’s been rolling in the f*cking mud you stupid tw*t!”

I was desperately trying to stop him from continuing to hurt the family dog who had made the mistake of simply being a dog and rolling in the mud during a walk. It had made him angry because now the dog would require cleaning up and so he took it out on him. Our dog was so frightened and cowering in the corner of the shower and I was yelling at him to stop, and as I’d had the nerve to stand up to him this was what was being screamed in my face.

I left for a few hours. I couldn’t stay to witness what was going on and I was frightened. I don’t know what happened after I had gone, but when I returned the dog was simply sitting and staring into space. It took him a few day to recover.

I will never, ever, forgive myself for doing nothing that day.

When adverts appear on the TV that focus on child abuse, the children that are depicted are often dirty, malnourished and looking extremely unhappy. My sisters and I weren’t any of these things. We were raised in a large house in the suburbs of a small town. We were well fed and clean, we participated in lots of activities, we were doing well at school. My father, as well as having a full-time job, was a local politician and head of our school governing board. My mother was a PA. It was a quintessential 2.4 family that those on the outside looking in would deem to be a great team.

I didn’t tell a single person the truth about what my life was really like until I was about 19 years old.

My father was a nasty, vicious bully with a violent temper, and he liked to show this with his fists and feet. To my knowledge, he never hit my mother, but he more than made up for it on my sisters and I, and the family pets. He and my mother were in a desperately unhappy marriage, and he blamed us for being in debt, being tired all the time and having no life of his own. He never wanted three children to begin with, that was my mother’s idea, and as we grew older his aggression increased. Repeated smacks on the back of the legs developed into punches in the arm and head and kicks in the bottom and stomach. He would beat the family dog, a beagle at the time, with the pole of the vacuum cleaner if she stole food, once hitting her so hard that he damaged ligaments in her leg and she needed vet treatment. I was called names like ‘b*stard’ and ‘tw*t’ if he felt I had done something wrong. I accidentally slapped him in the face once – it certainly wasn’t intentional – and all I remember was hanging onto the door as he repeatedly punched me in the shoulder so hard that I thought I was going to pass out. It was impossible to predict when this would happen – sometimes he would fly into a rage over nothing and sometimes it would be a prolonged state of anger that would last for several days.

My school found out what he was doing after he attacked my sister and contacted social services. He was placed on a register for a few years. Instead of changing his attitude, he simply kept her off school the next time he did it and threatened her that if she told anyone she would leave. We kept quiet, we didn’t want him to go.

I never told anyone because, to me, this level of violence was normal. He hit us.  My sisters and I hit each other. I was used to the sick feeling in my stomach that I would get when I knew something was going to happen. I was being severely bullied at school and would return home to be severely bullied by my family. I blamed myself, and I blamed my youngest sister for the situation, as she had started to rebel and get into trouble, which made his anger worse. I was so stressed that I would have random nosebleeds on my way to school.

The ironic thing is that as I became a late teenager, he and I became friends. I was too old for him to regularly beat me, and we developed the strongest bond out of any relationship within our family. When I moved away to university, he would come and visit me and we would spend the day in various music shops and eating lunch at the pub. I would ring him when he was at work to say hello. I enjoyed his company.

During the summer holidays a year later it emerged that he had been having an affair with the mother of my sister’s friend for a number of years, and so my mother kicked him out. For a while, I defended him, until he rang and threatened me, telling me “you know what will happen” when his new partner lied and said I had been to her house. I hadn’t, but that was the turning point. Despite developing a friendship, nothing had changed. He was still the bully I had grown up with, ready to lash out if he disagreed with a situation.

Enough was enough. I told him never to speak to me again, and that from this point on we were no longer related. I started to talk about what I had been through to close friends. When I told my oldest friend, who had stayed over at my house many times as a teenager, she cried.

I stuck to my guns. I refused to have any contact with him. On my 21st birthday he sent me a cheque for £25 and a letter explaining how the situation was my fault. A month later, on Christmas Day, he arrived at the family home and attacked me by grabbing me by the throat because I told him I didn’t want a present from him. My sister pulled him off me, hitting him so hard across the face that she knocked his glasses off.

I called the police, who cautioned him. Of course, in his opinion it as all my fault. Something changed in me. I realised that it wasn’t my fault. None of it was, and this sort of life was not normal. I haven’t seen him since, and that was 13 years ago. For a while, it destroyed me – my family broke apart and for the last decade I have had to fight for everything solely on my own. It’s been tough but it has been absolutely worth it – what’s mine is mine alone and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved.

I’m at peace with everything that happened. I haven’t forgiven, and I haven’t forgotten, but I have been able to assure myself that nobody will ever lay another finger on me ever again. There will never be another day where I will stand back and do nothing.

What if…?

This post was submitted anonymously.


I don’t even know how to start. Should I go for the sensational: I want to rape my wife. Should I ease into the subject first: Understanding different libidos and how it can impact your life. Should I just start typing and see where the words take me: I don’t even know how to start. We’ve established that already.

It would be a major understatement to say I like sex. I would be content to never leave the bedroom (for simplicity sake, I’m leaving this to one room in the house) if not for those minor annoyances needed to stay alive: food, work, cleanliness. I like the connection of it, the intimacy, the quiet moments before and after, the exploration, the act, the feelings, the emotions. I like sex. Yes, that is an understatement and I’ve said it anyway. Does it really need to be quantified more specifically than that?

Our society seems to have a crush on it as well, since it is prevalent in everything we do. From billboards on busses to advertisements next to articles, it is in our face, and in our heads all day long. It is inescapable, which makes it difficult to not dwell on continuously. It is nearly to the point where it should be added to the constants of this life: death and taxes and some sort of media selling something via sex. Spend five minutes channel surfing, or flipping through a magazine, or listening to music and sex will come up.

And when it does, it makes me think of my wife. Which means that whatever they are trying to sell they haven’t because rather than focusing on the product, I’m thinking about having sex. Wanting it. Looking forward to it.

And, yet, not everyone seems to be as affected by it as I am. They seem to go through their day to day life ignoring the images and ideas and pressures. They don’t care about sex. They don’t want it. They don’t need it.

My wife and I have very different desires here. I would have sex every day if I could. She can go months without ever wanting it.

I don’t remember the first time she gave into me and I realized that she was only going along with it because she knew I wanted it. It was long ago, early on in our marriage. Sadly, I didn’t realize until later what had happened. She wasn’t into it. She didn’t want it. She’d said yes, but… it felt like rape all the same. I’d pressured her into saying yes. I’d made her feel like she owed it to me. How many times had that happened before and I’d missed it?

I can’t describe accurately how horrible that felt. And I vowed immediately to never pressure her again. I could wait until she was ready. I could be patient until she wanted it as much as I did.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve broken and renewed that vow. More than I’d like to admit. More than is reasonable.

Is there something wrong with me? Am I addicted to sex? Should I see a specialist of some sort? Should I be on medication? Am I terrible person?

We’ve had honest conversations about our different levels of desire, our different libidos. But these discussion don’t solve anything. She is where she is, and I am where I am. And I’m not sure there is anything wrong with that. We’ve made it work so far and it is truly such a small part of our relationship, who we are as a couple, and what we mean to each other, that it shouldn’t matter. Sex does not define our love.

However, in those moments when my sex drive kicks in and she has no interest… Once she has said no, I would never actually do anything, but the thoughts are there anyway. Sometimes they lurk on the edge, and sometimes they hit me full force. It troubles me that the thoughts are there at all. What if I should lose control? What if I were drunk at the time? What if…?