Hey, A&E. What are you doing?

Dear A&E,

What the heck are you doing? First of all, it must be noted that I’m not a political person. Politics don’t interest me, and I don’t really care enough to figure out what on earth is going on. However, I do know two things. I do know everything’s a mess, and consequently, 50% of the country is mad 100% of the time. But, this isn’t about politics, except for the fact that it has everything to do with politics.\

I know you all have an image to uphold. But let me tell you, this is one of the best shows on Television. I’d much rather have my young cousins watch Duck Dynasty than Teen Mom, Toddlers and Tiaras, or any other of those reality shows.

I don’t watch the show religiously, because it’s not on Netflix, and I don’t have cable, nor do I have the time. But I know many friends who do. My Dad watches the show sometimes at work, and let me tell you, that man always draws connections back to that show. “This reminds me of that one episode of Duck Dynasty…”

What I do with books and episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, he does with Duck Dynasty. And honestly, I’m not complaining. It’s a good show. It’s hilarious, and it’s wholesome for the whole family. So let me just say…

Second of all, let me emphasis this question: WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?

Phil Robertson is suspended indefinitely from your show after expressing an opinion based on his personal beliefs. How dare he. How dare he have opinions. How dare he express said opinions. Am I right?

Wrong.

How dare you. You released a statement that read, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty,'”- read more

I repeat: What?

They’re Southern Christians, and y’all knew that when you gave them a TV show. Do you even watch the show? If you did, you’d see that his personal beliefs are reflected in the show. Maybe they’re not so quite glaringly obvious, but they’re there nonetheless. Yes, I agree he could have phrased his opinions better, but sometimes what you want to say doesn’t come out like you want it to. And it’s not like you can grab them once they’re said.

This is almost exactly like what happened when Chick-fil-A came out as opposing gay marriage. Wasn’t that a shock? Not for me. News Flash: They’re closed on Sundays! And it’s not just because they can be.

So, why are we surprised here? I don’t know, because I’m not. News Flash: They’re Southern Christians.

By taking Phil Robertson off the air, you’re punishing him for having his own opinions, for believing in the Bible. This is not North Korea.

Third of all, there is a difference between thinking a way of life is wrong, and hating people who live that way. Phil is saying that he thinks being gay is a sin, not that he hates people who are gay. There’s a difference, and if you can’t understand that, let me say it in a way that might make more sense.

I think eating salad all the time is wrong. That does not mean I hate vegetarians. And I hope vegetarians don’t hate me because I prefer a steak over a salad.

If you still don’t understand, consider parents. Teens go through a rebellious phase, and while parents may not agree with everything their teen does during this phase, they love the teen anyway.

Fourth of all, you can’t open the can of worms and then get offended if a long, hairy one crawls out. That’s like diving into shark infested water with a large, bloody cut, and then getting mad when the sharks bite you.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think taking Phil off the show will solve anything. He is Duck Dynasty. He started Duck Dynasty, and taking him off the show will not make more people watch the show. If you’re people don’t get mad at you for expressing opinions, you either don’t share them, or you don’t have any.

I don’t like offending people, so I try to keep my comments to myself (unless it’s night class, and I’m too tired to care). But the lack of sharing does not mean I’m not opinionated, because if you could hear my inner sarcastic commentary, you’d understand. If you need sarcastic comments, I’m your man… or, woman (don’t want to offend anyone).

If you are able to share your opinions on controversial topics without offending anyone, that means you’re telling two different things to two different groups. In High School, we had a term for people like you, “two-faced.”

So, yes. I applaud Phil. I applaud Phil for saying what he believes. I applaud Phil for sticking to his Christian vales, even if he creates backlash.

And I hope you, A&E, have learned three things.

1. This is America. We have Freedom of Speech. We should be able to express our opinions without people trying to silence us. You know what we get when that gets taken away? We get North Korea. I’m content with not living in North Korea.

2. There’s a difference between thinking a way of life is wrong, and hating a person who lives that way. I hate eating salad. I don’t hate people who eat salad.

3. If you don’t like worms, don’t open the can of worms. If you don’t want to be eaten by a shark, don’t dive in shark infested waters.

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What You Learn When You Try to Die

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I learned while writing may come easily, saying goodbye is hard.  I learned it’s especially hard to say goodbye when you’re 15 and the goodbye you’re saying is supposed to be permanent, and you don’t really know how to put what you’re feeling into words, so the best you can come up with is this:

Dear whoever’s reading this,
If you’re reading this, I’m probably most likely dead. And I bet you wish you knew why. I do too. The truth is, I don’t know. I have no idea, but I feel like I’m drowning. My lungs are filled with water, and they can’t take in air. I’m finding it hard to breathe. And I don’t really know where I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going. I can’t live like this any longer.

I’m not sure you’ll understand. I don’t either. But things have happened to me, and I can’t tell you. I’ve never been one to ask for help, and I can’t start now. Because right now, my pain is too much to lay on you. I’m hurting. I’m bleeding colors I didn’t know existed. I’m crying emotions I shouldn’t feel. I’m so filled with self-hate, I can’t feel anything else. The world is so full of ugly, and all I want to be is beautiful.

I’m fighting a war I shouldn’t be fighting. I’m defending myself from me. My mind is a booby trapped maze filled with hundreds of tons of dynamite. My body is a graveyard for all the battles lost. I’ve tried to fight harder and harder,but it’s exhausting to fight without back-up. It’s exhausting to fight at all. My life is a roller coaster that only spins down. And I can’t live it anymore. They’ve won.

I’ve never been good at goodbyes, so don’t imagine it this way. It’s more of a TTFN–ta ta for now. I’m trying to find happiness some place else other than here, a place where I can’t find peace.

I hope one day you find it too.

(I guess technically it should be “dear whomever’s reading this,” but I clearly was too preoccupied to give a crap about who or whom.)

I learned there’s a thousand ways to die, but only one way to live. There are a million ways to stop breathing, but there’s only one way to breathe: in and out, in and out. If you forget how to breathe, it feels like you’re drowning, or suffocating, or something.

I learned taking three more than the recommended dose of Advil won’t necessarily kill you, but it will make you feel more, which might be better than feeling nothing, but not really. Because every heart beat is like the ticking of a clock counting down to total destruction, and every heart beat pounds in your chest as if your soul is trying to break through your bones and make its way home. And all of this is ironic, because you take Advil to not feel the pain.

I learned that I love irony.

I learned sometimes cold nights in the winter are the worst times to love your bed. Because sometimes, the silence of sleep is not your friend. Silence means loud brain means thinking means self-hatred. And sometimes, the darkness casts the strongest shadow of all.

I learned sometimes when you’re ready to end it all, the blood dripping from your skin resembles fresh paint on an artist’s canvas in a twisted sort of way. The heart thumping in your chest beats to the tune of hope, which gives you enough to keep going.

I learned that I love irony.

I learned that looking out at the snowy scene after you throw up the pills you took is enough to travel in time. Suddenly, I’m three years old and tasting snow for the first time. It tastes like happiness and angels. And I guess if I had to describe the taste of renewed life, it would be that too.

I learned that when your father finds out about what happened, he’ll pull you into his lap like you are five years old and you fell off your bike. Only this time, he won’t let you go as he starts to cry. I learned that a mother’s love is stronger than DNA, because love conquers all.

I learned there’s a thousand ways to die, but one way to live. I learned that dying may seem easier, but living is beautiful. I learned that yes, living is hard, and sometimes I’ll forget how to walk because I’m so focused on breathing in and out. Life is snow angels, and irony, and pain. But sometimes, pain is the only way you’ll know you’re still alive.

I learned how to live, because I hate saying goodbye.

 

 

Time Line

Word association time: Time line. time passing. Growing. Healing. Rebirth.

May 19, 2013. 5 years later:

I remember you like it was yesterday. I remember the time and the place because for a few moments, the clock stopped, and everything was chaos, upside, backwards. They say wrong place, wrong time. But what they mean is: be watchful of your surroundings, don’t go alone. As if that makes a difference.

Because I had every right to be there. You didn’t. If my body were the most secure apartment building on the Upper East Side, you were the best con man who lied his way into getting the security key and set up temporary residence within my walls.

But for being temporary, you left a permanent mark. You stained the walls yellow with the smoke of lies you exhaled as you destroyed my once-white walls. Because, white is the color of purity, and you made me impure? I guess. And you rewired my brain into thinking yellow walls are permanent, because no one would sell white paint to someone like me.

Unfortunately for you, my body is not an apartment building on the Upper East Side. It is a temple. And I don’t need to repaint my walls white, because I know someone whose red blood painted me gold. And I know yellow + red does not equal gold, but this guy I know defies the laws of physics, because He died and rose again (not like a zombie rises, but for real, for real, He rose).

 

June 16, 2013 3 years later:

Time heals all wounds, yes. But, time fades all scars. Remember those lies you told me? Well, apparently, repeating lies is self-destructive. Lies turn into self-hate turns into release through a razor, which does more self-harm than good.

Did you know the constellations can be mapped out on your skin? I’ve tried. I think I got to Andromeda before I realized I was Andromedone (I’m sorry. I had to. I use humor to mask some of the pain).

My body is a Temple, but I tried to destroy it, because I thought you destroyed me.

I made myself bleed, because I wanted to be my own Savior.

 

Today:

Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel nothing. Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel everything. And I don’t know which is worse.

I used to get ready for bed with the lights off, because I was only beautiful in the dark. Now, I do everything with the lights on (except for sleeping). Because a rose needs light to grow.

I told you, one day I’ll be a rose. You laughed. But you were a thorn in my side. Rose have thorns.

My Gardner wore a crown of thorns on his head so I could grow and blossom.

Guess who’s laughing now? I am.

I’ve learned out of the ashes comes beauty. And while you said I was ugly and burned my soul to the grown, God said I was beautiful and rebuilt me whole.

Because with the passing of time, I’ve healed. Chaos has become order. And no matter how many times I test gravity, I will always find my wings and fly.

Hey, media. How Dare you!- A Final Project

For my Adolescent Literature Class, one of the choices for our final project was a personal project in which we could focus on a particular part of adolescent literature or culture that is of interest to us. So, naturally, I chose the way media affects society and teenagers today. But, also, we learned a lot about finding your voice, and for a long time, I had lost my voice. For a long time, I had no idea how to tell anybody about the battle that was raging on in my head. And then one day, I started to write. I found my voice. So, I share my story. And I won’t be silenced again.

The media affects society in so many ways–some good, some bad.

 And I know many blog posts and articles have been written on this topic before. I am not the first, nor will I be the last. But, I think it’s important to talk about. I think it’s important to talk about, because we hear things like, “this is how the media affects her…” “this is how the media is affecting our teens…” but, we hardly ever hear, “this is how the media affects ME.”

Therefore…

This is how the media affects me:

“I was raised in a society that taught girls how to protect themselves from sexual assault, but didn’t teach guys how to not rape. Fat lot of good that did me.

I was raised in a society where beauty is found in Photoshop and good lighting. And even though society’s beginning to change, I think it’s too late for my generation.

It’s too late for those who have already starved themselves to the point of hospitalization. It’s too late for those who have killed themselves because the pressures of society were too much. It’s too late for those who have already created enough scars on their skin to map the constellations in the sky.” – Open Letter to Society

That is how the media affects me.

It affects me because I don’t fit the societal standards of beauty. It affects me because I’ve been sexually assaulted. It affects me because I struggle with Depression. It affects me because I’m a teenager, and my mind is so impressionable.

It affects me for all the reasons it should affect me: I’m not a model.

I’m not perfect.

But, then again, neither are the models, neither are half of the people in images we are exposed to every minute of every day. And I know this. I’ve read the articles. I’ve seen the statistics. I’ve watched the YouTube videos of how Photoshop is used to enhance, erase, fix, perfect the imperfect.

And I still compare myself to all the images I see.

I compare, and I lose every time. I want to be them. So, I’ve learned the tricks on how to take “the most perfect selfie.” I’ve learned which way to face the camera to capture my ‘good side,’ by which I mean, hiding the side of my face with the most imperfections. I’ve learned how to tilt my head at just the right angle to hide my double chin. I’ve learned the best filters to use, the lighting that suits me best, and the way to do my make-up just right to make my eyes pop. I’ve also learned the best way to pose for photographs to hide the extra pounds on my body.
But, I also have mastered the way to get rid of the extra pounds: starving myself. And I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one in my group of friends who have felt as though the beauty standards of society were so hard to achieve, the only way to get half-way there is to starve themselves.

I felt that way. So, for five years I nitpicked every calorie. For five years I only ate on days I felt I deserved it–days I deemed myself worthy enough for food–which, let me tell you, were few and far between.

And it did nothing for my self-esteem. Starving myself did nothing to alleviate how depressed I felt about being me. It made me feel worse, because when you compare yourself to fake images over and over again, you will lose. Every single time.

I was having a conversation with a pre-teen friend of mine once. She mentioned how she thought she was ugly, because she didn’t look like anybody in magazines. I told her, the girl in the magazine doesn’t look like the girl in the magazine.

And I realized I need to stop comparing myself. Society can call me ugly if it wants, because if pretty is having flawless skin, zero fat, perfect straight white teeth, and perfect hair, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

I’m not condemning the use of Photoshop in the media, because I’ve Instagrammed the heck out of some of my photos. But, I’ve also taken and posted many photos of me au natural. And I applaud the celebrities who are doing the same. I applaud the celebrities who show their bare skin–imperfections and all.

Because teenagers are impressionable, and they will believe what they are told and shown. We are teaching them, you taught me, that true beauty is found in Photoshopped images where fat is sucked out, scars and blemishes are air-brushed, teeth are straightened and whitened, lighting is manipulated, and eyes are brightened.

Because, yes, that’s one form of beauty. But we also need to teach our teenagers that beauty is also found in the confidence to accept how you look, flaws and all. Wearing make-up and fancy clothes is a choice, and only belongs to the person whose body it affects, whose appearance it alters.

So, no. I’m no model. But I will continue to take horrible, ugly, selfies. Because I’m beautiful, despite what the media says.