You are the problem.

I’ve seen a few posts lately about Facebook being too full of “annoying political opinions,” or “don’t attack Trump for this,” or something else to the effect that we should stop talking about “politics.”
At the risk of being another one of those Annoying Political Posts, let’s walk through this again.
In Charlottesville, on Saturday, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK and very vocal Trump supporter, David Duke, proclaimed loudly and proudly that he and his ilk were “determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”
Let’s be very clear – he’s explicitly saying that he and his fellow klansmen/neo-nazis/white supremacists/alt-righters (because, make no mistake, they’re all the same thing) voted for Trump specifically because Trump was going to “take back the country.”
(Read: get rid of non-whites and Jewish people, by whatever means he may have believed that was going to be accomplished)
After the rally and subsequent domestic terror attack (again, let’s call things what they are) that left counter-protestor Heather Heyer dead and almost two dozen wounded, Trump made a very vague and unconvincing statement, using the phrase “many sides, many sides,” in reference to where the blame belonged for the violence.
In response to that statement, David Duke tweeted a warning to Trump (and remember, Trump hadn’t even specifically mentioned white supremacists yet):
“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”
It wasn’t until Monday that Trump finally called out the white hate groups by name: KKK, white supremacists, and neo-nazis. Suspiciously absent from these names is “alt-right,” the newest iteration of racists, and one of the largest and most vocal (and youngest, whitest, malest, and richest) support groups of his.
In response to being pointed out as part of a group of violent bigots, David Duke (remember that guy, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK? You know, the guys who lynched and murdered black people in the early and mid 1900s? The guys who wear swastikas and advocate for extermination of everyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant?) promptly had a meltdown. In a racist rant on Pariscope, Duke said, in part:
“President Trump, please, for God’s sake, don’t feel like you need to say these things. It’s not going to do you any good.”
On Twitter, Duke said, “It’s amazing to see how the media is able to bully the President of the United States into going along with their FAKE NEWS narrative.”
In a bizarre press conference that was supposed to be about infrastructure, Trump seemed to contradict his condemnation of specifically white nationalist hate groups, and instead, double down on his initial statement regarding placement of blame, saying:
“What about the alt-left that came charging at — Excuse me — What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now.
“Well I do think there’s blame. Yes, I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don’t have doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.”
And, in true Trump fashion, he rambled on and on, saying a whole lot of nothing, and setting up the counter-protesters as being just as bad as the people giving the nazi salute,  carrying flags emblazoned with swastikas, chanting “Hail Trump,” screaming “f*ck you, f*****s,” proclaiming “Jews will not replace us,” and “white lives matter.”
In response to that nonsensical rant, David Duke – again, white supremacist, former Imperial Wizard of a group of white people whose entire reputation is of hate, violence, and murder, who is a convicted felon, who very vocally supports Trump – tweeted:
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about  & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
And yet…Trump has STILL not denounced David Duke or his endorsements, or really made any effort to distance or differentiate himself from white power/nazi/alt-right activities, people, or beliefs.
FOR FUCK’S SAKE, the former executive chair at Breitbart is still lurking around in the White House doing God knows what, but Trump wholeheartedly supports him, and promises us “he’s not a racist.” Who that actually is not a racist needs anyone to say that about him?
If you can brush off people being enraged that the man who claims to lead our country won’t vehemently denounce the alt-right, the KKK, and David Duke as being the repulsive slime that they are, you are complicit in the acts they commit.
I am so exhausted. But I cannot be silent. I am disgusted with the state of our country. I don’t know how much longer we can take this.
If you think this disgust is an “annoying political opinion,” then you need to check yourself. We are literally talking about nazis and terrorism.
I know that in high school, when we learned about the Holocaust, I was horrified. I wondered how one man could build a regime entirely around hatred of something as seemingly benign as people’s nationality and religion. And I always thought about what I would do, had I lived in Germany back then.
We might not be executing a race or religion en masse (yet), but suddenly, literal, actual nazis who LOUDLY call for exactly that have resurfaced, and they cry, “Hail Trump.” So that’s what those people would have been doing then. Those people would have been the SS.
If you can still stand idly by and brush this off as “annoying” or “not your problem,” you are as guilty as they are. You will be grouped with them in the history books. Don’t you dare look back at the Holocaust now and say, “Why didn’t more people try to stop this?” because you would be doing the exact same thing then as you are doing now – nothing.
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I write.

I write this because, for years, I’ve been paralyzed.

Because you put fear into me about what would happen if I were to ever speak negatively about you, especially publicly. I remember the fight we had the day after I dared to say on Facebook that you snored. I took every figurative (and the occasional literal) blow from then on in silence. Just like I shut up about my first physically abusive relationship, I shut up about you, unless it was to laud you as the greatest thing that would ever happen to inadequate little me.

I write this because, for years, I had no inspiration.

Writing was my favorite escape, the thing I looked forward to most, my absolute passion since I learned how to hold a crayon. Being with you drained me of that. We were toxic together, and so were our habits, and I was left empty – completely devoid of the drive to put pen to paper – for six and a half years.

I write this because, for months after we separated, even my best friends and my own mother questioned my sanity and stability.

You were so disgustingly adept at gaslighting me, from the very beginning. And I was the perfect prey, wasn’t I? I was still in high school. I was seventeen, and we met at my very first job. You were twenty-six, and recovering from legal and employment issues (which seem to be a theme in your life, don’t they?). I was green, I was ready to be molded and groomed into whatever version of an adult you saw fit. And I came stumbling out of it all, after almost seven years of crazy-making, not knowing which way was up, questioning myself in every conceivable way.

I write this because I was seventeen and you were twenty-six.

I am finally at the same age now as you were when we began dating, and I cannot fathom looking at a seventeen-year-old sexually. Guys like you, I’ve found, are seen as the butt of a joke at best, and sexual predators at worst. To sane adults, you were an undesirable stereotype. I may have been young and naive, but you were pathetic and deviant.

I write this because of the abuse.

Because of the two times I had to wake you up to go to work, and you were still blind drunk from going out the night before. You responded with physical violence and by spewing vile, hateful words at the nineteen-year-old who was carrying your first child. Because of the time you slammed my arm in a door during a fight and blamed it on me. Because, in every place we ever lived, there was a broken door or a hole in a wall from either your fist or something you’d thrown at me during a fight. Because you threw me down in a hotel parking lot (with a witness) and I finally decided enough was enough and called the police on you.

I write this because, in spite of that police report, we were together three more months.

To say I misbehaved in those three months would be an understatement, but I can tell you that I have (nearly) zero regrets. In those months, I acted with recklessness that is usually reserved for single college students and bored, middle-aged married women in sleazy novels and romantic comedies. My favorite part of this is that you will never know the real reason you kicked me out that night. And I am not sorry.

I write this because you made me feel inadequate.

As a wife, as a mother, as a student, as a woman, as a human being, you made me feel worthless. I may have learned about a subject in class, but you already knew it – and knew it better. I may have gotten up with both boys, every time, every night, for three years, but you let me know you were the superior parent, for whatever reason suited your current narrative. I may have had an opinion, but yours was right, no matter how many times you contradicted yourself. I may have gotten a double-take from a cute classmate, but you closed down the bar with four phone numbers and an offer for a threesome. I may have cooked dinner, but you’d made the dish better before, and I should really let you just handle it next time. I may have gotten into nursing school, but I didn’t get into the one you wanted me to.

I write this because of my sons.

Logan can still remember jumping between us when he was old enough to realize that our fights were escalating, yelling, “Mommy! Daddy! Don’t fight, I love you! Look what I can do!” and that thought alone brings me to tears. The fact that he remembers that will never leave my conscience, but I have no doubt that, were you to ever read this, it would have no effect on yours. I can tell you with absolute, complete certainty that this is why I never had a second thought about staying gone after you told me to leave. As hard as divorce may be on my young children, the thought of hurting them by giving them our relationship to suffer through every day was so much worse.

I write this because I have held this in for almost two and a half years.

I didn’t shed a single tear about our family falling apart for five months after you told me to leave. And the only reason it finally happened was I was suddenly faced with the possibility of losing the first person I can tell you I truly loved, and I spent one night crying about him, and everything else in my life. You just happened to be behind the dam that he blew apart. I have held back from my sons almost every negative thought I’ve had about you, and encouraged them to love you and obey you and spend time with you, because you happened to be the person who donated half of their DNA. I have shielded them every day from our “grown-up problems,” because they deserve to be children. They deserve not to worry, to know only love, consistency, and stability. I continue to do this even on the days when Logan tells you said I was “evil” or “mean.” I did it on the day that Lucas told me you called my husband a liar and a failure, and called us both “shits”

I write this for them. Not for you. Never for you. Nothing of mine is yours anymore.

I write this because this is just the beginning, and I want you to know I am armed, I am ready, and I will never, ever stop fighting for them.

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A “Real” Nurse

**Note: If you find yourself getting offended by what I write in this entry, please refrain from yelling at me in the comments, and remember this: I am comparing myself to myself, not to anyone else. I am comparing past ideas to present reality. This is all about me, not anyone else. Surprising, since I have an entire site full of me talking about myself, right?**

Okay, here we go.

My first marriage (I can’t believe that’s a phrase I say now) was shitty. I know I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating. It broke down throughout nursing school, and finally disintegrated in an utterly spectacular fashion shortly after I graduated. I actually plan to write a novel about the details one day. We’re talking soap opera material.

ANYWAY.

My last semester of nursing school, I worked as a nurse aide at a local assisted living/skilled nursing facility. I had tried the entire summer before that semester to get a job at one of the local hospitals, but nothing panned out, so I ended up there. I picked up every shift I could, but the bulk of what I could get with my school schedule was weekend and evening work. Which was fine, but of course, it kept me away from my family at pretty much all hours. Every night I clocked out at 10:30 and every morning I woke up at 4:30, I reminded myself that there was light at the end of the tunnel. That I was only a few weeks away from graduation. That, once I had passed my NCLEX, I would begin applying for jobs at the hospitals again. I could hold out for a hospital job this time. Hospitals love hiring new graduates and training them, molding them, while they’re still green.

I had a plan.

I was going to become a medical-surgical floor nurse first. That’s the “standard hospital nurse” that usually comes to mind (if you’re not medical). They take care of post-operative patients for knee replacements, appendectomies, and the like, as well as patients with everything from COPD exacerbation to pneumonia to cellulitis. Essentially, if it’s not a specialty floor (respiratory, OR, ER, orthopedic, diabetic, cardiac, etc), it’s med-surg. It’s a great place for new grads to gain experience that covers a wide range of skills and pathologies. It’s usually on a med-surg unit that new nurses become familiar with what they’re doing – as well as with their own preferences – enough so that they can move on and specialize, if they so choose.

I was going to spend two years as a med-surg nurse. Twelve-hour shifts, aching feet, cranky patients, hovering, critical family members, strictly scheduled medication administration, bed baths, catheter changes, discharge teachings, balancing and remembering and prioritizing care for five patients at a time, charting (and charting and charting and charting) – I was ready for all of it. It was the technical, under-appreciated, exhausting work that I had been building myself up for – that I was really, truly EXCITED to do – since I was sixteen years old and realized that medicine was the field in which I was meant to spend my life.

My first two years were, in my mind, simply going to be a means to an end. And that end was the ICU.

My classmates and I spent three semesters of clinical days in inpatient rehab facilities, the state mental hospital, the OR, the pediatric floor, the labor and delivery wing, the mother-baby unit, and several different med-surg floors. And then, finally, finally, in my final semester, I got to spend a few glorious, blessed days in the ICU.

That was it; I was home. I had found my calling. I had found my people (ICU nurses have to have a pretty warped sense of humor to get by) and my patients.

It was the first place I used my CPR on a human being, instead of a plastic torso with sensors in it. The first place I watched a doctor declare a patient’s death. It was where I saw a patient with a fever so uncontrollable, he had to be sedated. It was where I pulled my first internal jugular catheter, where I saw firsthand how carefully a chest tube drainage system had to be maintained. It was where I sat and watched the telemetry monitors that confounded me when I was a CNA on a cardiac unit in Denver, but where I could now differentiate atrial fibrillation from atrial flutter, recognize PVCs, and, with the help of some very experienced (and highly credentialed) nurses, determine which patients had previously suffered heart attacks.

Every patient was a puzzle. Every comorbid condition had the potential to throw a hurdle between the patient and recovery. No two cases were the same. Patients couldn’t be treated and discharged using a standardized plan, as they can after many common surgeries. Each one had to be carefully maintained, their medications titrated and dosages calculated with no room for error. In some cases, certain interventions could harm the patient, but allowing the disease process to continue could mean death. It was constant critical thinking. A balancing act. It meant never seeing the same case twice, and constantly learning new things and acquiring new skills.

After every specialty rotation, we were required to summarize what we learned. Conditions we helped treat, new skills we were able to use or observe, new medications we encountered. Any revelations we had or conclusions we drew, we handed them in the following clinical day.

I will never forget what my clinical instructor said to me when she handed back the summary of my first day in the ICU.

“You’ve found your calling, kiddo.”

I was over the moon. I was on cloud nine. I was beside myself. I was every lame, tired, cliche way of saying “utterly elated.”

For several months, I had been feeling disenchanted by what seemed to be the relative routine of med-surg nursing. I was providing the bulk of the care for, as well as charting on, four different patients on my med-surg days. By the end, my instructor had noticed I seemed “bored,” and threw another one at me. I had maxed out on the medications I could give, the care I could provide, and the skills I could perform as a student. I wanted more, but I was  limited (which, of course, was in everyone’s best interest), and I was getting restless.

I had gotten to the point where, several times, I told my ex-husband that I didn’t truly want to be a nurse anymore.

But after that day in the ICU, everything changed. I had new drive, new focus, a new plan, new goals. I thrived on the adrenaline, having to problem-solve on a second-by-second basis. I loved the complicated cases and the emotional highs and lows and not ever knowing what was around the next proverbial corner.

I knew, from then on, that I was a critical care nurse. ICU, ER, cardiac critical care. That’s where I planned to spend the first ten or so years of my nursing career. Once I had laid that foundation and truly mastered the skills, I wanted to become a Flight for Life nurse. Of course, that was if I hadn’t fallen in love with one of the other critical care units I was in.

I wanted to experience everything. I wanted to learn constantly. I wanted to be challenged daily. I wanted it all.

My ex-husband and I separated in a very abrupt, kind of unforeseen, slightly drunk moment at about one in the morning at the end of January, 2015. One month after graduation, just over two weeks before I could finally take my licensing test, and my world was suddenly – admittedly, by my own doing – thrust into absolute chaos and uncertainty.

This will probably rub some people the wrong way, but whatever, go ahead and clutch your pearls and judge me for saying this: the dissolution of my first marriage (that has not yet gotten less weird to say) was the best thing that had happened to me, to date. You know, aside from my offspring. I was out of a toxic relationship. For the first time in my adult life, I could be myself. Not even that…he had stifled me as a human being so much that I wasn’t ever allowed to even find out who I was. So I started there. It was like a weight had been lifted off of me. I could move. I could think. I could breathe. It was incredible.

But.

It meant that holding out for a hospital position was no longer an option. With attorney’s fees looming in my near future, along with needing a new residence for myself and my sons, I had to take the first job I could get.

The day after my license became active through the Department of Regulatory Agencies, I began training as an RN at the skilled nursing facility I already worked in as a CNA. But beginning then, every night I clocked out at 10:30, I reminded myself that at least I didn’t live with him anymore. Every morning I woke up at 4:30, I reminded myself that at least now, I was making over twice what I did as a CNA. And every second of every shift that made me miss my children’s fleeting waking hours before I had to deliver them back to their father, I reminded myself that again, this was all a means to an end. This was all for us and our little family and our future on our own. This was all for them.

After a year as an RN at that facility, I applied for a clinical nurse position with a local non-profit that serves primarily those who are under- or uninsured. It was one of the several (sometimes many) areas of nursing I wanted to go into, and for very personal reasons. This is my current job.

I adore my job. I work with the best team of people I could ever have hoped for. I have great relationships with the providers I work for, and they respect my (albeit limited) experience and knowledge enough to trust my medical judgment on a daily basis, with a huge variety of patients, conditions, medications, and treatments. I love what I do. I still have absolutely no doubt that medicine is still where I belong.

But then.

I read articles like this one. Or this one. I see posts from my friend who works in a pediatric emergency room about treating kids in respiratory distress. I talk to my friend who works in the emergency room whose job is so in depth, he had to be trained for five months, along with needing at least three advanced life-saving certifications to be on his own with patients. I catch up with my friend who manages home care for a chronically ill child on a ventilator, or the one who now works in nurse education for one of the major hospitals in town. I hear about how hard it is to work night shift full-time, or having a schedule so inconsistent they can’t remember what day of the week it is. I hear about missing out on kids’ school events.

Compared to these people, compared to my dreams of the ICU and the ER and flight nursing…I almost don’t even feel like I can call myself a nurse.

**If you feel yourself getting mad at me for what you assume I mean by that, please return to the top and read my note over again.**

I am not any kind of hero. I don’t feel I’ve earned the right to put myself in any kind of category with those I mentioned above. I just feel unworthy.

Yes, I am proud of what I do. I love my job and my patients and my coworkers and my company. I love the dynamics of my clinic and the small procedures I do get to do or assist with. I love teaching patients about their conditions and how to manage them, I love giving shots, I love the relationships I get to build with our providers’ patients over time. I love seeing chronic conditions improve, and I love seeing our young patients beating obstacles and growing every time I see them. I love learning anything and everything I can, because I have the privilege of working so closely, forty hours a week, with primary care providers. I love – love – providing care for the under- and uninsured.

But sometimes I feel like I’m missing out. My nursing, what I wanted to do, the idea I had in my head of my nursing career was so different.

I have the privilege of having my boys with me half of the time, to include every weekend. Part of the reason I took the job I did was because it was Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. No weekends. No holidays. In a time of uncertainty and tension, as we shifted from a four-person household, into two three-person households, and finally into one four-person household (their father has a girlfriend who lives with him) and one six-person household (I’m remarried and he has two young boys as well), my boys needed consistency. And that, absolutely, was and is paramount in my priorities. I am off work and pick my boys up from my parents (who watch them after school) by 5:30. They have dinner with me and my husband (and his boys, when we have them) every night. I help them get ready for school every morning. They never have to wonder if I’m going to pick up a shift at the last minute and won’t be there to put them to bed. I have every weekend off of work, and I get to spend that time with them. I’m at home with them every holiday they have on my parenting time.

I love being the mother they can rely on. I love being involved and attending school functions because my schedule allows it. I love never having to worry about whether I’ll be able to take a holiday off to be with them. I love having the same hours as my husband. I love having a full family life, in addition to working full-time in the field that has had me fascinated for over a decade now.

But these two are completely at odds in my head and in my heart sometimes. I miss hands-on patient care and the critical thinking and the balancing act of prioritizing four acutely ill people. But I know that what I do is also absolutely essential, and that it is still essential for me, right now, to be present for as much face time as I possibly have with my sons, as they continue to work through the divorce and a new blended family, as well as being in first grade and preschool.

I don’t know, I don’t really have a way to tie this up in a pretty bow and deliver you a conclusion. It was just a thought that struck me really hard this evening, as I scrolled through Facebook and saw nursing memes.

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Words are hard.

Writing used to be so much easier for me.

I’ll rephrase that: inspiration used to come much more easily to me.

When I was in high school, I toted notebooks – yes, plural – around with me. Always. I was never without a pen, blank, lined pages, and the next story brewing in my head.

People who sat next to me in class throughout those angsty years, when we thought the problems we had were THE ULTIMATE in problems, and that, like, NOBODY understood us, can tell you that when the rest of the class was (or at least was supposed to be) taking notes, I was scratching away at my next short story, my next free verse poem, my next novel idea.

There was a book I wanted to turn into a screenplay (and still plan to).

My first (and very unhealthy, abusive) relationship was going to become my first novel.

I had a wild idea about running away with two of my best friends across the country, and that was going to become a short story.

Almost every angst-filled feeling I had, I could turn into a free verse poem, a vignette, a metaphorical or allegorical story with a quick twist to a one-two punch in the feels at the end. Writing was my passion. It was who I was, it was the way I filled every second of my spare time, it was what I wanted to spend my life doing.

Real Life™ caught up with me, eventually, as it is apt to do, and I became distracted. At sixteen, I realized the medical field was the place for me, and I began to pursue it wholeheartedly. I chronicled a lot of my feelings regarding nursing school and where I really wanted my career to head right here, and I can tell you, now that I have graduated and have been working in my field for a total of 7 1/2 years (two years of which have been as a registered nurse), I absolutely made the right decision. In fact, I’m currently even toying with the idea of going to medical school in a few years, but that’s a post in and of itself, for another day.

My passion for writing and my desire to publish never wavered, but the amount of time I had available to write grew shorter and shorter, and my sources of angsty inspiration waned, as I grew up a little more and realized life really doesn’t have to be that dramatic.

Shocker, right?

My first marriage was a train wreck. We yelled. We called each other names. We hid things from each other. We never agreed. We resented each other. Our parenting styles did not go together. Most importantly, though, we were not friends. And a marriage that has no basis in friendship, where you just plain don’t enjoy spending time together, and where, most of the time, you just honestly don’t like each other, is one built on a proverbial foundation of quicksand. That’s the way ours was, at least.

After we split, I felt like a huge weight had lifted off of me. I could breathe. I could move. I could think.

And then I realized how long it had been since I had truly been inspired to write. I realized it had been years since I had written out of passion, out of the sheer need to put pen to paper and get the thoughts, the scenes, the feelings out of my head.

I made a few attempts at short stories based on experiences through nursing school (and the end of my marriage), but when it really came down to revisiting scenes and feelings that I wasn’t quite ready to yet, I blanked. Choked. Whatever you want to call it. I just couldn’t keep going. Maybe one day I’ll go back and try to finish them. I’m pretty sure they’re on a notepad somewhere around here.

I can’t talk about diving back into writing again without the mention of one man, though.

To make a very long, deep, emotionally charged story (which I hope to someday turn into a novel) a bit shorter, I’ll say this: we were an unlikely pair. I was newly single and flexing my muscles, as it were, trying to get his attention. It was meant to be a fling at first, but we connected in a way neither of us anticipated, and we fell for each other. It was the first time I can say I felt something in years.

That feeling all of a sudden, after realizing I had been numb my entire adult life to date, sparked the drive to write that I thought I had just outgrown. In our six-ish months in whatever semblance of a relationship we had, I hemorrhaged, onto paper, every feeling I had at him or about him. Letters, short stories, musings. It all totaled a little over fifty pages when it was all said and done, if I remember correctly. I couldn’t stop myself, just like I couldn’t in high school. It was like waking up. It was amazing.

I couldn’t believe I went six and a half years without inspiration. Without that kind of introspection, without the stories running through my head, without creating these vignettes, without putting pen to paper just because I had to get a scene out of my mind and into the world.

After all of that was over, I met my best friend, and we got married six months ago. We recently (re)watched my favorite show in the entire history of television – Californication. It was my third time watching the entire series beginning to end, and it’s my favorite show because Hank Moody is my spirit animal.

If you’ve never seen the show, David Duchovny plays a cynical, sarcastic, reckless writer who is the author of a novel, which gets turned into a candy-coated Hollywood blockbuster (which he hates), shenanigans ensue, dark comedy all around, I’m in heaven.

Every episode reminded me how much I miss writing. Just putting words on paper was what I was meant to do, and I hadn’t done it in ages.

And don’t laugh, because Scrubs (the TV show) was what inspired me to go into medicine, and here I am, eleven years later, in the field I love. Because of a show.

I missed writing, and I told Justin (Husband) that, and he wholeheartedly encouraged me to get back into it. Even if I only take five minutes a day to journal how my day went, or one thing that pissed me off, or made me happy.

I’ve put off going back to writing over and over, because I feel like I can’t sort out my brain enough to even know how to start. Even now, as I write this, I feel awkward and clumsy. My sentence structures are far less than perfect, my content is completely boring, and my verbiage is not even a little impressive.

But at least I’m writing again. At least I’m doing the thing that I love to do more than anything.

As I said in the paragraphs above, I have no idea what I’m going to do as I get back into this. But I know, for my mind and my soul, I need to.

I miss making the words do the things.

 

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Gut Reaction and Chosen Action

I cried last night as it became clear where our country’s collective values lie. I cried this morning as I got ready for work. I’ve been crying on and off at my desk all morning.
 
How do I raise my FOUR boys to respect authority and the law, to respect themselves and their values and the women in their lives enough to keep their hands to themselves unless invited, when the face of authority in this country has openly bragged about doing just the opposite of both those things? How can I tell them to respect the authority of a man who shrugged and laughed off the label of Sexual Predator, who sexualized ten-year-olds as a forty-something-year-old man, who has regularly made it clear he views his own daughter sexually?
 
I can’t.
 
As I’ve laid in bed at night the last few months, trying to fall asleep, drowning in the anxiety of whatever America we were going to wake up facing this specific morning, I finally turned to praying for wisdom for these candidates, when my base instinct has been repulsion. Knee-jerk hatred. But hatred was the platform on which he built his entire campaign, and look at what happened. Look at the division and animosity it brought to and between the people of this country. As strong as my urge may be to spew hatred and outrage over the results of this election, I have to suppress that instinct, because hatred never bred progress, never fixed a broken relationship, much less a broken government and country.
 
The hatred has to stop. I choose not to tell any of my boys the rage and internal “WHAT THE FUCK” this man brings to the core of my very being. And that is – and will be – a constant, conscious, and very, VERY difficult decision. I choose not to teach my sons to hate.
 
Rather, I will – WE will – choose to hold this man up as the example of how not to treat those different from us. How not to conduct themselves in public or in private. He will be held up as an example of what can happen when we, as a country, let fear and hate rule us, and thus divide us. He will be held up, to future generations, as the cautionary tale as to what happens when greed, hate, power, and money come together with a one-track mind toward a goal this big. It can happen here. It can happen to us. It can happen if we don’t communicate, don’t love one another, don’t work together.
 
It can happen if we choose hate.
 
I will continue to struggle with this, I know. If you know me, you know that I am absolutely not passive-aggressive. I am aggressive-aggressive. And it’s very hard to shut me up when I’m passionate about something (just ask my husband).
 
This is not me quietly conceding that “the better party won.” This is not me accepting Donald Trump as my President, nor is it me accepting anything he has made it abundantly clear he stands for on a personal level. This is me saying that I understand the reality of what we’re getting in ten or so weeks, and me preparing to arm myself to fight against the vitriol that this man stands on. To arm myself against his downplaying of outrageous crimes he and others have and, I’m sure, will perpetrate against any and all minority groups. This is me preparing to spend the next four years fighting – ACTING, not just talking – for what I believe in and teaching the mini humans in my care to do the exact same.
 
So please…STAND. UP. for what’s right. Stand up for those who are marginalized and discriminated against, and will clearly continue to be for the next four years. Stop the hate, because that’s just what he wants to perpetuate.
 
Hate will not fix or unite our nation.
 
It never has.
 
It never will.
 
I have no conclusions right now. Just a confusing, frustrating mix of heartache, fear, apprehension, and, I’ll be honest, deep hatred.
 
God help our country right now.
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This is how you get grabbed by the p—y

I thought about not writing this. Thinking about my story being out there, where anyone could read it, scared me. But given the events of the last few days, given my background, and given what little platform I may have here, I think I need to share.

At first, I was going to simply re-share this article I wrote in 2012, about a guy I dated in high school who was mentally, verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive to me. At the time, I was so scared of the potential repercussions of having my name on it that I wrote it anonymously. Not to mention the fact that in that article, I downplayed the sexual assault (rape) to a major degree.

Since then, I have realized that my staying anonymous did nothing but contribute to the overwhelming culture of victim-blaming and -shaming, and I can’t in good conscience do that anymore. If recent events have shown me anything regarding survivors of sexual assault, it’s that staying silent does nothing toward fixing the problem. And now, a little shaky, a little sick to my stomach, and a lot nervous, it’s my turn to speak up.

What I didn’t tell you in that article was that…

I said no.

I screamed in pain.

I cried.

He held my head down to his lap and wouldn’t let me up.

He threatened to break my wrist if I used my cell phone.

He drove around to several locations, after dark, in a snow storm, to keep me disoriented as to where I was.

He wouldn’t even take me to a McDonald’s or a 7-11 bathroom when I had to go. He made me get out of the truck, in two inches of snow, and squat behind a shrub. And he watched me.

When blood ran down my legs, he said, “Don’t get that on the seat, okay?”

He did this twice in one night. One of the times was in a church parking lot.

Then, when it was all said and done, he mind-f*cked me into believing:

  1. I wanted it.
  2. We didn’t actually “do anything.”
  3. That if I told anyone what happened, his dad (who was a lawyer) would make sure my reputation was ruined.

He left me with the zipper of my jeans broken and three buttons missing from my blouse. But, as is common with the cycle of abuse, and in controlling relationships, I still believed I loved him. I still believed he meant the best for me. I believed we were still going to be together forever. That we had just messed up together.

Now that you’re caught up on what actually happened that night, let’s get to why I’m writing this.

A few days ago, Donald Trump once again proved to everyone that he is a vile, repulsive human being, and an actual sexual predator.

“Lewd” is not the correct descriptive term for this sub-human’s ravings. He is describing himself committing a sex crime and expressly crediting his station and celebrity for allowing him to do so.

Let’s make this incredibly clear, because some people out there are still telling women to “grow up” and calling this “typical locker room talk” (a phrase that has been widely denounced by quite a few professional athletes, most of whom say this talk would get Trump swiftly ejected from any locker room they’d ever occupied): the word “p—y” is NOT the problem.

“I don’t even ask” is the problem.

“Grab” is the problem.

“You can do anything” is the problem.

“I just start kissing them…I don’t even wait” is the problem.

Those words aren’t disturbing because they’re lewd.

THEY ARE DISTURBING BECAUSE THEY DESCRIBE A SEX CRIME. 

Whip out your thesaurus. Replace any word you find “lewd” in his gag-reflex-inducing exchange with a more socially-acceptable word, and you will find that this man is talking about GRABBING WOMEN BETWEEN THEIR LEGS WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT BECAUSE HE IS RICH AND HE HAPPENS TO FIND THEM ATTRACTIVE.

When this audio surfaced over social media, I was equal parts outraged (but not at all shocked) by his words, relieved to see prominent Republicans denounce his comments and some pull endorsements, and…confused…because “grab them by the p—y”? Really? How does one manage that?

So, as is to be expected on The Interwebs, the jokes began. Faux “motivational posters” using his quote surfaced. Pictures of cats pretending they weren’t cats (so as to not get grabbed) showed up in my news feed. “Nov. 8 the P—y Grabs Back” began trending. It became almost a joke, because, if The Donald thinks he can just “grab her by the p—y,” he clearly lacks understanding regarding the female reproductive system.

Except yesterday, I remembered three instances in my lifetime that I was grabbed by the sex organ, by a man I knew…absolutely without my consent.

The first time was when I was thirteen years old. I was in New York City for two weeks for a ballet intensive. An older (about to turn 17) Italian boy from Florida, who happened to be in my class, showed interest in me. I developed early, so he found it somehow okay to say to me during class one day, “Your boobs poke out of the sides of your leotard when your arms are over your head.”

Fast forward through smooth talking (him) and low self esteem (me) for a few days, and there we were…on a break between classes, in a secluded hallway in the hotel, making out. I wore a skirt and t-shirt over my leotard and tights, but just the same, he began pushing his hand under my waist band, grabbing me between the legs. I remember trying to elbow his arm back out of my skirt three distinct times. He did not relent. He then smashed me up against the wall, made an excuse of some sort, and walked away.

The next morning, before classes began, he called me a whore.

The second time, I was 15, and still completely mixed up over the guy from the article I wrote four years ago. This instance occurred about six months after the sexual assault that ended our relationship.

He had begun dating the woman who is now his wife in the summer of 2005, and this was in fall of the same year. One night, we planned to meet up to talk. I’m not sure what I expected then, but looking back now, and having the perspective of time, along with a couple other similarly unhealthy relationships in my past, his manipulation was clear, and to be expected from a narcissist and an abuser like him.

He wanted me, but he didn’t.

He was going to marry his girlfriend, but “I haven’t bought the ring yet, have I?”

“Why did I ever let you go?”

“We were so good together.”

Eventually his words confused and angered and hurt me enough, and I tried to get out of his truck, where we’d been talking. As I scooted toward the passenger’s side door, he pulled me backward by my shoulders so I laid across the seat, with my head in his lap. He held me there and said, “That’s not the Kristen I know.” He then shoved his hand down my pants and grabbed me by the p—y.” I shrieked. I squirmed and tried to get away. As he listened to my protests, arm across my shoulders, he said, right next to my ear, “That’s the Kristen I know.”

The third time happened when I was 24 (and married). After exams one evening, I went out with several classmates of mine to get celebratory drinks. A little tipsy, we all went to a nearby pizza place, and, when I was alone with a male classmate, he began hissing in my ear things he wanted me to do to him. I tried to laugh it off and began to walk away, and then he forcefully grabbed me between the legs from behind. I jumped, hit his hand away, and ran back to my female classmates.

He ignored me or looked at me with disgust every time he saw me for the rest of the year.

As a bonus, very soon after leaving my now-ex-husband, a “man” I barely knew forced himself on me twice in twelve hours, despite my very clear pleas of “no” and “stop.”

The thought that so many people accept the words of Donald Trump as “just how guys talk” not only completely fills my mind with WTF, but also terrifies me as the mother of two boys of my own and the stepmother of two more. It terrifies me that anyone accepts his BOASTING of committing an outright sex crime – because let’s CALL IT WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS, YOU GUYS – as ANY type of normal speech.

Lusting after someone is one thing. It stays in your mind, or in a private conversation. It is thoughts and words.

Putting your hands on another individual’s genitals without their express consent is a sex crime. It is sexual assault. It is a thought that turns into an action that turns you into a criminal, even if you have your own TV show and your net worth is over one billion dollars.

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: normalizing the words (and thereby actions) of Donald Trump is what leads to cases like Brock Turner. It’s what perpetuates the idea that women are lesser, that they exist to be objects of pleasure for men, for men to feel powerful and in control.

At first, when I saw the words from that video over and over and over, popping up in my news feed, I was annoyed. They were ugly words, they lit embers of absolute hatred inside me. They bring nothing to mind but sleaze and entitlement and the times I have been touched without my consent by males who believe they have some sort of right to my body because it’s visually pleasing to them. I hated seeing them, in bold above his face, every thirty seconds. But then I realized maybe that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Please…please…read those words. Read them until they make you sick. Read them until you can’t look at his face without thinking of these words.

Now think about him saying them to you. About you. Think about him saying them to your daughter, your sister, your best friend, your mother. Think of him doing this to any woman in your life. Because if he finds them attractive, he believes doing this to them is his right. He believes nobody will stop him. This is the man he is. This is his character.

If the thought of a celebrity actually committing a SEX CRIME against you or anyone you know or love is too far-fetched for you, read my words, my story, over and over, until it makes you sick. I am an average girl, who came from a Christian home, a Christian school, a healthy, intact family, and a normal upbringing. And it happened to me three times in the same eleven years since Trump uttered these despicable words.

This is the culture his temperament, his words, and his views on women would foster. This perpetuates rape culture. This perpetuates the trend of victim-blaming, and keeps us quiet for years. 

This is not the America I want to live in. To raise my young men in.

I cannot live in the America that Donald Trump would give us.

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Waves.

The sand gave way silently, effortlessly underneath her, one footstep at a time. Over the endless water, where the earth bent to meet the sky, storm clouds were building. Little by little, the dull, slate gray thunderheads blocked out the vivid, crystal blue sky she had always known.

“Poor kid,” she swore she heard his voice say, as she saw the first bolt of lightning dance from cloud to cloud. Seconds later, the thunder followed, shaking her very bones. She pulled her long, time-worn sweater tighter around her middle with one hand, shifting her grip on the glass of ninety-proof amnesia in the other.

You don’t scare me, she thought, letting her mouth fill with bitter gold, and swallowing with a grimace. The foam of the ocean played around her feet, cold and startling. She looked down at her short, pale legs, now covered in goosebumps. The sea receded in front of her toes, pulling away, as if begging her to chase it. She brought the glass again to her lips. The burn down her throat, into her stomach, had become familiar…almost comforting.

The wind began to whip her hair into her eyes, around her ears, and she raked the sea-sprayed, curled mess out of her way, again fixing her gaze solidly on the darkening horizon. Lost in her own thoughts, the next wave caught her off guard, hitting her shins and knocking her off balance. She stumbled momentarily, the now-retreating ocean current having its way, if only for one heartbeat, one breath, bringing her four, five steps toward the vast expanse of water and clouds that were now virtually the same color.

When the next bolt of lightning and crash of thunder happened simultaneously, she shook just enough to spill poison out of her glass, over her fingers. In the static afterward, with her ears still ringing, she heard his laugh.

“Poor, poor kid…”

By the time she’d fully righted herself, the next wave hit her at the waist, strong and unforgiving, and suddenly she was in the sand, disoriented, the tiny white grains of the shore digging into the skin around the bottoms of her frayed cut-offs. She realized her glass had been knocked from her now-trembling fingers. Scrambling to her feet, she shoved her wet, tangled hair once again out of her eyes. Her voice was swallowed by the roar of the thunder and the waves, but still she screamed, feet sinking into the soft beach sand.

“You don’t scare me!”

She furiously swiped salt water – tears or ocean, at this point she couldn’t tell the difference, nor did she care – off of her face. She turned her back to the storm and the sea, and began walking up the shore, toward the last sliver of blue she could see on the opposite horizon. The clouds charged ominously across the sky at a startling pace, choking out almost all of the sunlight that, only hours before, she had been enjoying full on her face, her hand in his. She heard the rumble of the next wave, the next clap of thunder, building behind her. She stopped walking.

This time, she decided, she was going to be ready. She would not run. She would not be taken down, taken by surprise. She would stand.

Turning on her heel, she squared herself to the shoreline and planted both of her feet firmly in the earth. She took a deep breath, and with her lungs filled with damp, salty air, she felt herself focus. It was as if time slowed, and she watched as, foot by dark, powerful foot, the swell driving at the shore built itself to easily twice her height. The crashing of the unrelenting storm and sea fell away, and a slow, eerie calm began to creep through her body.

As the coming wave crested, falling forward on itself and toward the girl who refused to move, she heard the words, barely above a whisper, escape her lips again. This time, though, she truly believed them. The corners of her mouth twitched upward, her eyes dead set, straight forward, her arms held firmly at her sides, palms facing – welcoming – the tempest headed right for her.
You don’t fucking scare me.

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