Autism + Human Trafficking = Hooked

Tweet: I want my friends to join me in bringing awareness of autism and modern slavery in the United States by supporting the movie Hooked.  Please, right now, go to https://ctt.ec/3fxCf+ and donate or just follow! And then in 2019 go see it in theaters!  Thanks, friends!

Huh??

That’s right you heard me.  But what is Hooked?  Well, it used to be an award-winning book, but now it transitioning into a feature film.  The screenplay has already been honored in competitions and is going into pre-production beginning of July and I am part of it!
Autism + Human Trafficking = Hooked awards

I still don’t get it.

This should help:
Autism + Human Trafficking = Hooked poster

Hooked is the romantic dramedy of a young man whose autism prevents him from recognizing that the woman of his dreams is, in fact, a prostitute.  The film is respectful to those with autism as well as those working the streets.  The relationship between the two characters is sweet and heartwarming while shining a light on human trafficking in America.

Tweet: I want my friends to join me in bringing awareness of autism and modern slavery in the United States by supporting the movie Hooked.  Please, right now, go to https://ctt.ec/3fxCf+ and donate or just follow! And then in 2019 go see it in theaters!  Thanks, friends!

The hooked film production is being sponsored by the 501(c)3non-profit, From the Heart Productions, so that any contributions, whether cash or non-cash, made toward Hooked are tax-deductible. From the Heart Productions has been dedicated to supporting world-changing films for over 23 years.

And just today an individual has offered to match Seed and Spark contributions made to our indie film up to $2500 between now and July 4 so that’s exciting too!  And this is what got me fired up to share this project with all of you! (I guess I have been kinda holding tight to this project and not allowing others in… I wanted it all for me and didn’t want to share.)  Not the wisest move.

Seed and Spark is a pretty cool crowdfunding site.  It is just for filmmakers and they donate cool stuff to films that gain followers (different levels of award based on how many followers we get. )  We can even get free submissions into the film festivals with 1000 followers on Seed and Spark.  Now I think that is totally awesome!  And I am hoping some of you will follow our campaign to help us get there!

And just like other crowdfunding sites, you can earn cool stuff by donating too. Have you ever dreamed of being a screenwriter? With a $200 contribution, you can join a screenwriting workshop with award-winning screenwriter Allen Wolf taking place on Saturday, Oct. 27th. And there are, of course, lot’s of other fun, exciting incentives waiting for you. But I think the greatest reward is knowing that you are helping a movie that brings American human trafficking and bond slavery, as well as autism, to the big screen.
U.S. Human Trafficking map

I want to know more about modern slavery in America!

(Excerpt from Hooked website)

“Our hope is that people who experience Hooked will be inspired to take action against trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children, and 75% are women and girls. The map above only reflects cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016 where the location of the potential trafficking was known. Some cases may involve more than one location.

“Here are 11 Facts about trafficking from DoSomething.org:

“1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.

“2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: Forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.

“3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.

“4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

“5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.

“6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.

“7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

“8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

“10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.

“11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.”

Please go to our Seed and Spark Campaign and support us through follows, donations, or both!  Thank you!

Support “Hooked” movie

Tweet: I want my friends to join me in bringing awareness of autism and modern slavery in the United States by supporting the movie Hooked.  Please, right now, go to https://ctt.ec/3fxCf+ and donate or just follow! And then in 2019 go see it in theaters!  Thanks, friends!

10 Ways to ‘Reach Out’ When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

I’m a mental health writer and advocate, and a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve told people on this blog many times, “Keep reaching out.” I’ve written multiple articles preaching the importance of vulnerability, defying stigma, and owning your struggles.

This is my whole thing, okay? This is what I do.

So when one of my closest friends died by suicide a few weeks ago, I wasn’t just shocked — I was completely gutted.

I thought there was never a question of whether or not my loved ones could reach out to me. But the very person who I’d talked to so often about mental health… didn’t call me.

Not even to say goodbye.

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness 2
The last night I spent with them.

In the weeks following their suicide, my grief took me to dark places. I soon began having my own suicidal thoughts. And even then, when it was my turn to “reach out“? Even after losing my friend? I began to withdraw, too.

I watched, with painful awareness, as I did much of what my friend seemed to do leading up to their suicide. I wrote myself off as a burden. I isolated myself. I got lost in my own head. And despite knowing the danger of where I found myself, I said nothing.

After an especially scary night, I realized something: No one ever explained to me how to ask for help. No one told me what “reaching out” even meant.

As my grief began to snowball, I hesitated to tell anyone I was struggling, largely because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to ask for, and without knowing what to ask for, it felt too complicated and futile to ask.

“Why didn’t they tell me?” is such a common refrain when we talk about suicide or mental health challenges in general. It’s easy to make this remark, because “tell someone” seems like a simple request. But in truth, it’s vague at best.

“REACHING OUT” IS THIS SKILL WE’RE SOMEHOW EXPECTED TO KNOW, YET IT’S NEVER TAUGHT AND RARELY MODELED FOR US.

It’s this vague, hopeful sentiment that people throw around, without ever really defining it. What are we asking people to do or say? It’s not exactly clear.

So I want to get more specific. We need to be more specific.

I don’t know if an article like this could’ve saved my friend. But what I do know is that we need to normalize asking for help and talk about what that might look like, rather than pretending it’s a simple and intuitive thing to do.

Maybe then, we can reach people sooner. We can meet them more compassionately. And we can find better ways to support them.

So if you’re struggling but you don’t know what to say? I get it.

Let’s talk about it.

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

1. “I’M (DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/SUICIDAL). I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR, BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”

Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we need, or we’re unsure of what someone can offer. That’s okay; that shouldn’t discourage us from reaching out. It’s perfectly fine if you have no idea what you need or want — especially when all you can think about is how much you’re hurting.

Let someone know how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by the ways they offer to support you. And if they aren’t helpful? Keep asking until you find someone who is, or seek out a hotline (I know it can be weird to talk to a stranger, but there are some awesome hotlines out there).

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

2. “I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH AND WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING ISN’T WORKING. CAN WE (MEET UP/SKYPE/ETC) ON (DATE) AND COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?”

Feeling helpless or exhausted is part and parcel for dealing with a broken mental health system. But a team approach can make it a little more manageable. Sometimes we need a cheerleader/researcher that helps us explore our options, especially when we’re having trouble believing that we have any.

One thing you’ll also notice is that, for almost everything on this list, I suggest setting a time.

This is important for a couple reasons. The first being that it helps the person you’re talking to understand the urgency behind your ask. It can also be helpful to know that there’s an event in the near future when you can expect to receive some support. This can help us hang in there when things get bleak.

3. “I DON’T FEEL SAFE BY MYSELF RIGHT NOW. CAN YOU STAY ON THE PHONE WITH ME/COME OVER UNTIL I CALM DOWN?”

I know this is a hard one to say. Because we often fear telling someone just how much we’re struggling, and admitting that we don’t feel safe? That’s a biggie. Obviously you can replace the word “safe” if it’s not working for you, but I always encourage people to be direct, because it’s the surest route to getting exactly what we need.

Asking someone to be present might feel especially vulnerable. It might not even feel like, in the moment, it’ll make that much of a difference. But you’re more likely to feel better with support than without any.

And remember, from everything we know about mental illness, depression is more likely to be a liar than a truth-teller (I talk about that a bunch in this blog post).

4. “I’M IN A BAD PLACE, BUT I’M NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT IT. CAN YOU HELP ME DISTRACT MYSELF?”

You do not have to talk about what’s bothering you if you’re not ready.

Opening up a whole can of worms might not be the safest or best thing for you in that particular moment. And guess what? You can still reach out for help.

Sometimes we just need someone to shoot the shit with, so we aren’t stuck in our heads, making ourselves a little crazy. This is a valid and healthy thing to ask for! And it’s a subtle way of making folks aware that you’re having a rough time, without needing to go into detail.

The sooner the folks around you are aware that you’re having a hard time, the quicker they can show up to help you through it.

Early interventions are so critical for our mental health. In other words: Don’t wait for your whole basement to flood before you fix a leaky pipe — fix the pipe when you notice the problem has started.

5. “CAN YOU CHECK IN WITH ME (ON DATE/EVERY DAY), JUST TO MAKE SURE I’M ALRIGHT?”

I cannot say it enough — do not underestimate the value of asking for a check-in. I am such a huge fan of this as a coping skill, especially because it can be super helpful for everyone involved.

If you take nothing else away from this article, it should be this: Please ask people to check in with you. It’s such a small thing to ask for in the age of texting, but it can help us stay connected, which is freaking critical for our mental health.

(If you’ve played The Sims before, remember the social bar? That’s you. You need to fill it. Humans need to connect with other humans. It’s not just about wanting to, it’s that we actually require it to survive.)

And this can happen in so many smart ways. A few of my favorites:

  • “I haven’t been doing well. Can you text me every morning to make sure I’m okay? It would really help me.”
  • “Hey friend. I’ve been kind of sad lately — do you maybe want to Snapchat/send selfies to each other before bed every night, just to check in? It’d be nice to see your face.”
  • “I’m in a funk right now. Do you want to be self-care buddies? Like text each other once a day something that we did to care for ourselves?”
  • “I’ve been isolating myself a little lately. Can you check in with me every so often, just to make sure I didn’t fall off the face of the earth?”

Add emojis wherever fitting if you want it to feel more casual (but really, you don’t need to, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you need!).

Asking for people to check in with you when you’re struggling is just like buckling your seatbelt when you get in a car. It’s just one extra safety measure in case things get rough.

Both can actually save lives, too. Consider this a PSA.

6. “I’M HAVING A HARD TIME TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. I NEED EXTRA SUPPORT RIGHT NOW AROUND (TASK). CAN YOU HELP?”

Maybe you need help getting to an appointment or the grocery store. Maybe you need a cheerleader to make sure you took your meds, or someone to send a selfie to to prove you got out of bed that morning. Are your dishes piling up in the sink? Do you need a study buddy? It doesn’t hurt to ask for support around tasks like these.

Sometimes these things add up when we’re struggling with our mental health. But we forget that it’s okay to ask for a hand, especially at those times when it could really make a difference.

Being an adult is already challenging. If you’re going through a rough time? It’s even harder. We all hit a point when we need some extra support. Don’t be afraid to let folks know directly how they could support you.

7. “I’VE BEEN FEELING SO LOW. CAN YOU REMIND ME ABOUT WHAT I MEAN TO YOU OR SHARE A FAVORITE MEMORY? IT WOULD REALLY HELP ME.”

I used to think that asking for something like this meant I was “fishing for compliments.” And what a lousy way of looking at it…

Sometimes we need reminders that we matter! Sometimes we can’t recall the good times, and need someone to help us remember them. This is true of every single human being on the planet.

It’s such a simple request, too. If you’re the kind of person that feels nervous about making a big ask (again, I’d encourage you to challenge that assumption — it’s okay to ask for help!), this can be a small step in the right direction.

8. “I’M STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW AND I’M AFRAID I’M REACHING MY LIMIT. CAN I GIVE YOU A CALL TONIGHT?”

To be honest, it wasn’t until my friend died that I finally found these words in particular.

Up until that point, I’d never been sure exactly how to raise the alarm. You know, that moment when you’re not at the end of your rope, but you’re getting there? It’s a crucial moment.

Yes, you can and you absolutely should reach out then, even if you aren’t sure if it might make a difference (spoiler alert, people might actually surprise you). I think about how much pain I could’ve avoided if I’d saw that moment for the opportunity it really was.

Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, the one that’s trying to tell you that you’re a little too close to the edge for comfort. Listen to that nagging feeling that tells you you’re in over your head. That’s your survival instinct — and it’s an instinct you should trust.

9. “I KNOW WE DON’T TALK MUCH, BUT I’M GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME AND I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEONE I CAN TRUST. ARE YOU FREE TO TALK (DAY/TIME)?”

I wanted to include this because I realize that not all of us have people we’re close to that we confide in.

When I was a teenager, everything changed for me when I reached out to a teacher at my high school that I barely knew. She had always been incredibly kind to me, and I had a gut feeling that she would “get it.” And she did!

To this day, I still believe that she saved my life at a time when I had no one else to turn to. She connected me with a social worker, who was then able to help me access the resources I needed to recover.

While it’s important to be respectful of people’s capacities and boundaries (and be prepared, of course, if someone can’t be there for you or isn’t helpful — it’s not personal!), you might be surprised by the responses that you get.

10. “I’M SUICIDAL. I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW.”

Raise the alarm.

Raise the damn alarm, friends, and be as direct as you need to be. An emergency is an emergency, whether it’s a heart attack or a self-harm risk. Harm to you in any form is reason enough to ask for help.

I promise you, there’s someone in this world — an old friend or a future one, a family member, a therapist, even a volunteer on a hotline — who wants you to stay.

Find that person (or people), even if it takes time. Even if you have to keep asking.

Give people the chance to help you. It’s a chance that my friend deserved, and it’s a chance that you deserve.

(And if all else fails, I have this resource about going to the emergency room when you’re suicidal. I’ve personally been hospitalized twice, and while it’s not a ritzy vacation, it’s the reason I’m here today.)

PICK SOMETHING FROM THIS LIST. WRITE IT DOWN, EVEN IF IT’S ON YOUR HAND OR A STICKY NOTE. REACH OUT — BECAUSE NOW YOU KNOW HOW.

Hell, bookmark this article while you’re at it. I know I’m going to, because there are times when I need this advice, too.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, let me remind you that it’s never too soon or too late to let someone know.

And it’s never, ever too heavy, too messy, or too much to ask — even if you asked fifty times the day before.

I’d have rather had my friend “bother me” every day for the rest of my life than have to lose them forever. Their life was that precious.

And yes, so is yours.

Author Signature

SAMheart Hey there, friend. Before you go, I want to share some resources with you.

If you’re suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

You can also go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure if you should or how to prepare for something like that, I’ve got an article for that, too.

This isn’t just a generic “here are some numbers” plug, this is a “I want you to stay, we need you here, please don’t go just yet” plea.

Chris Alvaro And Lastly…

There’s a memorial fundraiser in honor of my dear friend, Chris Alvaro.

The funds raised will go to organizations that support trans mental health and racial justice.

This article is, of course, dedicated to them.

Topher, you’re still the brightest star in my galaxy. We couldn’t keep you safe. But I will never stop fighting for a world that could have.

Feature photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash.

©2018-2020 Let’s Queer Things Up!
Republished with permission

Escalation – Love Dies.

Escalation - Love Dies. | Memee's Musings
Photo by Kumar’s Edit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

I wrote before of my friends, we’ll call them Joe and Barb. They were married in May of 2000. He was 30. She was 24. I don’t have to do the math for you. It’s been a long marriage and moderately successful. Long story short, she became very controlling of him, dictatorially so. She grew cold within first five years of marriage and turned their life into a business arrangement. And she cut him off from friends and outside influences.  Then she became verbally abusive.  He finally got fed up and manned-up and told her to get into counselling or he was leaving. If he were a woman we would all be cheering him on for finally taking control of his life, and being proactive for his own happiness. And it is for that reason I must say I am proud of him. A broken marriage that is not fixable, cripples a person. And he is splintered everywhere.

Tonight was hard for me. I cried for him. And I am so very furious with her. Today she went too far and passed the brink of repairing the relationship.

Let me back up. I saw them just a bit over a week ago, 9 days ago, I believe. You see I recently moved myself back to Washington, but needed Joe’s help tightening the belts on my car so I could make it safely and without loud squealing noises following me everywhere. Also, we needed to have our goodbyes. I had a very nice time visiting with her while he repaired my car and added fluids. She had her first glass of wine (I didn’t imbibe that night.) She tried to talk to me about their problems, but I told her that it made me uncomfortable and that I didn’t want to be giving advice. I just wanted them both to be happy (in whatever life had in store). That I was his friend and it just didn’t feel right to me having her try to confide in me. She respected my speaking up and telling her so. She told me of the things she was doing to improve herself. And it sounded like she was finally getting it. It sounded like her counselling was actually making a difference and she was willing to accept and take responsibility for her controlling and verbally abusive behavior.

She was probably on her second glass of wine when dinner was served.  I don’t know; I wasn’t counting.  They have red wine every night. Because I wasn’t drinking I observed them in a way I hadn’t before. Right there at the dinner table things started going south. I’m not sure how or why but the mood changed from fun to uncomfortable to painful. At one point I suggested I go. They both said no, I should stay. And so I stayed. And I watched as their behavior toward one another changed. It was hard. She tries to keep up with him glass for glass. But she doesn’t metabolise the wine like he does. She would say things to him that weren’t necessarily meant to be hurtful, but would come across that way. I would try and keep things from going that way, saying, “I think what she is trying to say is…” I just wanted it to stop escalating. But I couldn’t stop her. I told her that he heard her. That he understands what she is trying to say. But by that point she was too drunk to keep herself in check. And as her words become more critical, more biting, and more hurtful I became increasing uncomfortable.  I felt helpless to the trainwreck I could see coming.  He never raised his voice or lost his calm.  He didn’t snap back at her or return cruel jabs.  He squirmed in his seat with discomfort as he tried to talk her down, reason with her.  Eventually, he excused himself. He gave me a hug goodbye, and I could feel him trembling in my arms as he whispered to me, “That was bad.” All I could do was say, “I know. I’m sorry.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. He went to shower and secure himself in the guest room. She walked me to the car.

At the car she totally lost it emotionally. Weeping and crying and feeling sorry for herself beyond what was necessary. Even throughout her behavior at the table he remained calm and collected, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, trying to speak to her rationally. Asking her to stop. Asking her to respect his experience and expertise.  He played the defender to her aggressor.  And she felt sorry for herself?   I reminded her again, at the car, that I didn’t want to be put in the middle.  Again, she said she respected that and appreciated my honesty about that. She understands that 31 years of friendship with him trumps my one year of friendship with her. She knows I don’t want to choose. She knows I want to remain friends no matter what happens with this marriage. Despite that she couldn’t quit crying and I couldn’t just stand there and let her cry. So I gave in to my compassion and gave her the best advice I could. I spent probably 45 minutes standing out in the cold with her.

I told her that she needed to not drink as much as he does, and why. I told her that he needs her to be soft and gentle, a woman. That she needs to allow him to be a man. She needs to trust in him to know how best to do things that are in his expertise and wheelhouse. She needs to not police him. (Yes, she’s in law enforcement and he feels like a prisoner.) She says, “But I have to protect him.” She doesn’t understand that he is a 46-year-old, 6’2″ intelligent man with a black belt in jiu jitsu (could be some other martial art, I don’t recall. Point is, he’s a master). She needs to understand that her behavior and words strike at his manhood. She is being disrespectful to a man who is kind and helpful and tries to please her despite all the garbage she throws his way. But apparently she didn’t take my words to heart or perhaps she was too wasted to remember them because today she crossed the line.

Mind you, the evidence is all circumstantial but with things I know about her, I’d say she is totally capable of being the bitch that would do this. And I know her accomplice, and she is just plain evil.

1. 11:00 a.m. Barb sends Joe a text while he’s at work. “What will you do if you lose your job?” He doesn’t respond. She texts again ten minutes later, “You won’t be able to depend on me, once you leave, will you?”

2. 1:00 p.m. Joe gets a call to meet with his boss. He is fired on the spot. The reason given, “They received accusations against him by a woman.” No name given. No further information provided.

3. 3:00 p.m. Barb’s best friend posts a meme on a private Facebook group, that I happen to be a member of, tagging only Barb. I see it. Find it suspicious and curious. But then forget about it because I don’t know what has happened.

The meme was of Morticia Adams with a glass of celebratory blood and it reads, “That moment when you witness karma in its full, glorious splendor.”

He comes home and she goes out to dinner with another girlfriend. He is devastated that she’d be so cruel. To ruin this job which (yes, gave him the confidence and financial means to leave her) and sully his reputation in the process. He feels lost and confused, sick to his stomach with agony. He doesn’t understand her need to control him or the idea of a human being as a possession. He is a good man. She was blessed to have such a man. Me, I cried. I cried as he told me all about his day. And then, when we were done talking, I cried some more. I felt his pain.

As I said, I have the misfortune of knowing this new “best friend” and she is pure evil. She’s known Barb for less time than I have known her and I warned him, as did others, that she would be a bad influence on her. I think she was the woman who made the accusation. I think it was a plan dreamt up over cocktails and Barb may have even agreed to it thinking it was a joke. Unfortunately, she did “like” the meme, so maybe she knew it all along. The coincidence and timing of everything is just way too suspicious.

I begged Joe to go to a hotel or a friend’s house for tonight at least. I fear for both of their safety. When she was hysterical by my car the idea got stuck in my head that she could, if drunk and pushed beyond hope, kill him and then herself, Brynn Hartman style. When we had finished up our conversation he was going to shower and meditate and if he couldn’t reground himself he’d leave for the night. I think perhaps he thinks I am more worried about what he might do to her. But really, it’s either of them. He’s not violent. He is a very gentle person. But she is controlling and when drunk, she cannot control her behavior. I don’t trust her now. Not at all. Not after today.

By the time this posts, it will be tomorrow. He has promised to check in with me. I will likely sleep poorly tonight. My prayers are that God is in that house tonight. And that he will hear if God tells him to go. That she will hear if He whispers for her to stop. That tonight Barb will leave Joe alone and give him space, and that things do not escalate further.

(Update: both are still living and breathing and no one is in jail.)  Whew!  My domestic violence history takes me there as an option, always.  Feeling grateful, Lord, for your watching over them at this time of crisis.

Placed in the Middle

Placed in the Middle | Memee's Musings

So it is 2:00 a.m. and finally I am compelled to write something. This is not a post about me and the struggles I’ve been going through for the past month. This is about someone else’s struggles, two people’s actually. My oldest, dearest friend and his wife.

Around eleven a.m. I got on Facebook and found that she had made a post which was very out of character for her. It wasn’t up for long so I cannot quote it, however it said something like, I am totally heartbroken. Sometimes there’s just nothing more you can do.

The women who responded all interpreted it the same way as I did, uh-oh big time marital problems. I didn’t know what to say and I certainly didn’t want to be having a discussion on Facebook. So I said nothing in the hopes that I could get away with “not having seen it.” The fact that she later removed the post certainly helps me with that little pretend.

Tonight however she private messaged me. We don’t text or call each other so this was unusual as well. When we get together we eat, drink wine, and share like sisters… though honestly, I am much more upfront and revealing about my world than she is with hers. We click. We click like we’ve known each other our entire lives although we’ve only known each other in person for just under a year. Her husband on the other hand I’ve been friends with for 32 years. We click too. And in the same way, like we’ve known each other our entire lives. No, actually, that’s not true. it’s like we’ve known each other for a millennium of lifetimes. It’s always been that way. Even when we were fifteen.

We would come together and click. And then, as life does, we’d turn and go our separate ways, but life would inevitable put us back in each other’s paths unexpectedly and without intention on our parts. It has happened four times so far. Needless to say I love them both and want them to be happy.

And so I found myself having this online chat about the marriage problems of two very close friends who I love. I don’t want to be involved or put in the middle of it. And I was confused about her deciding I was the person she wanted to make her confidante, after all I have much lengthier history with her husband. I listened. I’m good at it. People open up to me. Even strangers will tell me their woes, especially on days when I really don’t want to talk to anyone (lol,it’s something I’m trying to learn to accept and embrace as the gift God meant for it to be.) I listened because I didn’t want to turn a friend in crisis away when a friend was needed more than ever.

I listened. I encouraged her to continue trying, and to not beat herself up for the mistakes she has played in the collapse of her marriage, and I reminded her that no matter what happens she is a strong woman and will indeed survive. I believe I did right by her in the conversation as a friend and as a “sister.” When she seemed to begin wallowing in the “I can’t live without him. He’s my life. He’s my soulmate.” I put her in check with that. Meaning, I told her I felt she was throwing salt on her wounds (but I was much, much gentler than that).

And now we come to the reason for this post. I told her the truth as I see it: This is a learning lesson and an opportunity for growth for both of them. They will either come out the other side of it stronger individuals or stronger as a couple… whatever is God’s will. Here’s the thing though. I’ve been witness to the workings of the marriage during this past year, and privy to the problems for several years. She is mentally abusive to her husband and she does not recognize it or take responsibility for it. In my book that there tells me they are not soulmates. If someone is your soulmate hurting them would hurt you just as much, if not more. You just couldn’t be abusive to a soulmate, no matter who you are or how fucked up you are mentally. Of course that’s just my opinion. I’m wondering do you agree with that idea? But then on the other side of the coin perhaps the three of us are soulmates to each other, manifesting relationships with one another in different life bodies and roles.

I know it seems odd that I claim to be a Christian and then I talk about past lives. I just don’t think we living humans have it all figured out yet. I think we agree to a contract before we are born of the lessons we will endure because with each life manifestation we become closer and closer to our god-like selves we are meant to be. I don’t know. I also believe in Heaven. I also believe that when we die our souls sleep and sometimes our souls dream too.

Life is complicated and while living it we never truly figure it out. My views expressed in the preceding paragraph are very dialectical. But you know what, so is life. I both believe I am unworthy of friendships and loving relationships while at the same time believe in equal measure that I am a great catch and wonderful friend. And so I say if I can hold two equal beliefs at the same time in life so too can I for “religion or faith.” God knows me, loves me and accepts me even if I happen to be wrong and even if I am a sinner. And you know what, He loves and accepts you too!

Sorry, I got off track there. I am a stream-of-consciousness writer so it happens frequently. Anyway, I’d like to conclude by saying that I definitely do not want to be counselor to either of them. I tried to make it clear to her, but she kept on and I was patient and kind. Please pray for me that this does not become a pattern for her to come to me. It really puts me in an awkward place. Likewise, I don’t intend to counsel him. I doubt he’ll come to me anyway… this is so much more complicated than past conversations. However, if he does I will tell him what I told her… “Shouldn’t you be telling [her] these things?” Marriage is tough enough and when people begin to drown inside of it, adding an untrained person to the mix is the worst idea ever! Thankfully, at his request, she will begin counselling soon. I honestly hope she learns to see and accept some of her behavior for what it is. There are things he has done as well. No one is blameless and no one is perfect and if they both want to fix it, then I believe it can be fixed by taking one step at a time and having patience and not relying on a non-professional’s advice aka interference to dictate your behaviors.

I pray that the outcome, whatever it may be, is ultimately in the best interest of both of them.

p.s. It is interesting that my entire life seems to be coming full circle. This blog began with my own heartbreak and crisis. If I can survive, she can too (she’s actually much stronger than I.) I have another longtime friend who says his life is coming full circle. Is yours also? If so, let me know… I’m curious to see if this is a universal pattern.

This wonderful photograph was taken by Josh Pepper and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!

Why Valentine’s Day Matters

Why Valentine's Day Matters | Memee's Musings

If you are among those that don’t appreciate Valentine’s Day it may be that you have been looking at it from the wrong angle.  Participating in Valentine’s Day is important. It will enrich your life and the lives of the people around you, so please open your heart to why I believe Valentine’s Day matters.

Life moves so fast and as adults we have so many responsibilities burdening our plates that we can lose sight of what truly matters.  Hint: It’s not the house, cars, furniture and toys.  It is the people that make us laugh and hold our hands, the ones that hold us up when we’re about to fall and who put a happy rhythm in our hearts; the people who hold our secrets and share our burdens; the people who dance when we dance and sing when we sing; the people who pat us on the shoulder when we accomplish a goal and celebrate when we cross the finish line.

Life is hard and we cannot get through it alone.  Valentine’s Day is scheduled on the calendar so that even the busiest of people can step out of their mundane routine and celebrate the blessed relationships they’ve been given. Every single person in our life who adds positivity is a gift.  A gift that it is important and not one we should take for granted. Those that love us and give so much for us deserve to know how they make us feel while they’re still around for us to share their significance.  Valentine’s Day is both a reminder and an opportunity.

Personally, I don’t focus on the day. I use the days leading up to and following February 14th as well.  I reach out to the people who enrich my life.  I tell them I appreciate them and love them and specifically why they matter to me, the difference they are making in my life experience.  It enriches my experience with them.  It makes me aware of how blessed I am in this life and it strengthens our connection. It is me taking one brief moment to honestly acknowledge all they do throughout the year that makes my life worth living.

Valentine’s Day is about gratitude and showing thanksgiving for the people who take it upon themselves to share their time, love, friendship and souls with us.

So please stop and take a moment today, who comes to mind. Who makes your world a better place?  Now tell them.

Thank you for reading, you keep me writing and I have found writing to be very healing for me! Happy Valentine’s Day, Minions!

Love,

Memee

 

P.S. While editing this piece I felt my dad’s hand on my left shoulder. Thanks daddy for the Valentine’s Day gift of a visit. I miss you so!

The image above if a composition I put together. The wonderful photograph was taken by Josh Felise and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out: Unsplash!

I have two blogs. This one is Lovely!

one lovely blog-award
One of my favorite people in all the blogging kingdom worldwide is Carlos.  I didn’t think he could do anything more to make me cherish him as a friend any deeper than I already do. But now look at what he has gone and done… he nominated me, ME as being the hostess of a lovely blog and I am really touched. I don’t get a lot of comments from people on my site and awards are a rarity so getting nominated is big, but being nominated by one of the people who I admire and respect and who inspires me as a human being, well… that’s so swell my heart is now bound even tighter to him!  Please visit Carlos and listen to his Thoughts of a Trainwrecked Pineapple. You won’t regret it, I promise!


The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Display the award on your post of the award.
  4. List seven facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

 

Seven New Facts About Memee:

  1. I am the kind of person that when walking down a sidewalk or across a parking lot or street, will stop to pick up earthworms and return them to safety, in the dirt, beneath a bush where cars and people won’t crush them and birds won’t eat them.
  2. I am the kind of person who instead of screaming at the sight of spiders, runs and gets a drinking glass to take it outside.  (It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I realized the spiders are in the house for a reason… they’ll die of exposure, they’re inside spiders as opposed to outside spiders!  My bad.  Still, they cannot stay so I continue the practice, just adding a scant prayer/hope they’ll find a warm place to shelter (a wood pile perhaps?)
  3. I am the kind of person who will scream at the sight of a tiny mouse scurrying across my path yet at the same time will own, hold and cuddle a pet mouse or rat. They’re very social and affectionate not to mention cute.  It’s just that their movements are so sudden and so erratic it is always startling!
  4. I am the kind of person who will inform your children that they are doing wrong when you are not there to correct them.  I believe as adults it is all of our responsibility to make the world a better, happier, safer place and that the only way to do that is to treat each other with respect, dignity and patience.  I am not disrespecting you by helping your children find their way. I am respecting that your children’s lives matter, their futures matter and helping them find their way is respecting your great love for these little humans.
  5. I am the kind of person that will bend over backwards to encourage you and build you up, and help you see in yourself everything wonderful that I see about you.
  6. I am the kind of person who loves others unconditionally, warts and all, because it is those warts, those flaws that make you the unique and beautiful perfection that you are.
  7. I am the kind of person who is very lonely in this world.

Not the ending you expected? Sorry about that, but this world needs attention. Each and every one of us needs to do more for others and less for ourselves. Our world is changing every moment of every day and I do not like the direction we’ve been heading in. Please make the decision to do better, be better. Everything we do as adults is watched by the younger people in and around us. If you think that because you don’t have children or younger siblings that you’re not a role model you are wrong! Very, very wrong. Every word that you speak, every action that you take, what you post online, what you do in public, how you behave towards others, and how you allow others to treat you, everything, EVERYTHING is being watched, studied and absorbed for future reference by whatever child is within range of you. Even if you do not know that they are there you are teaching them by example. So please choose to be a better example today and tomorrow than you have been every moment before this moment. You will be rewarded.  We all win.  It’s what they call a win-win-win-win-win situation all the way around!

(I will nominate in a follow up post and link it up.)

Be A True Friend. Isolation Kills!

friends

Two quotes for one, though I am not sure I quite consider either of them official quotes seeing as I have no idea where they originated or if they are accurate or are simply memes which have taken hold on Facebook. They’re both very relevant to current events happening in my life of late so I decided to use them for #WCW anyway.

As you know I’ve been focusing quite a bit over the past few months on mental health awareness as suicide seems to keep propping up in the peripherals of my life.  I believe suicide is, in fact, a symptom of mental illness. It may be an acute (in that moment) mental illness (like when someone “snaps” suddenly for a limited period of time, or it may come from something long and lingering like depression, bipolar disorder or any number of other illnesses.  I just don’t believe that anyone who is thinking clearly commits the act.

And I’ve been at that edge. I took a knife to my wrists about 12 years ago (I wasn’t home alone.  I was feeling under attack by my mother and she was chasing me around the house and I went to the kitchen where my then 9-year-old son and 80-something year old grandmother (and soulmate) were.  I didn’t care about them or what they were witnessing.  I just needed the pain and anger of my life to end.  And, prior to that, over 20 years ago, I was driving an automobile, my boyfriend in the passenger seat beside me and I needed to make it all stop. I lurched the car toward a cliff. God intervened… the automobile stalled.   Now I don’t even remember what instigated that (we must have been arguing but certainly it wasn’t worth dying over!) The memory is very vivid (and I’m not a visual person). His instincts were wrong… his legs came off the floor of the car and braced against the dashboard as his hands went down on either side of this seat. God has saved my life by miraculous means more than once.  That was the third of four times that I am aware of.

But, back to the quote because this post isn’t supposed to be about my relationship with God or how he truly works miracles. It is about being a true friend.

Mental illness is not a joke. It is not something to be hushed up or ignored. (Same with domestic violence).  If your friend or family member needs help step up to the plate and help.  Don’t say you’ll be there and then not answer your telephone. Don’t offer hot soup on Wednesday when he is sick with the flu and then cross to the other side of the street when he is being threatened by himself or another person.

It is painful to say but I believe Baily was saveable. I believe that if he had not felt fear of stigma, (which we know he did), if he had shared what he was truly feeling then I know we would have stepped up to the plate and gotten him into the hospital and properly medicated.  As it is, people knew he was having a hard time being away from home and at college but he thought he could handle it. He convinced everyone he could handle it.  The counselor at his university prescribed a medication that is not meant for people his age.  If we knew how dark his feelings were we’d’ve done more. We would not have backed down.  He would have been hospitalized and given the opportunity to find the correct medication.  He may have survived.  He may not have. But it is a possibility.  The isolation of being away from his support system and his unwillingness to share how much pain he was in, that’s what killed him.  And sadly, he hadn’t planned on dying. He went to all of his classes that day.  He took notes.  He asked for something to be mailed to him from home.  But something happened. A trigger occurred and no one was there and now he is gone. Forever.

(I will state here that I am grateful to say I do not have survivor’s guilt though I know his mom is working at overcoming that.)

Before the end of the week was out I wrote to Chris, a suicide survivor and host of the blog Surviving the Specter asking questions. He comforted me. I consider Chris a friend.  He was there for me when I needed someone to talk to even though we had never met. I am glad he is alive. He is helping people every day. And I want to share this quote with you about his decision to commit suicide:

If hopelessness was the mother of my downfall, seclusion was the disfigured child that accompanied Her…was attached to Her. Like some 1943ish sinister Siamese twin experiment. I can’t say that if I was with friends, I would have waited until a time that I was alone to end my life. But I was by myself for the entire day and that made it easier to commit.

So back to the meme at the top of the page. I said I believed it. I believe it so much so that I have risked relationships with friends. One example is that I have a friend, also bipolar as well as a survivor of child sexual abuse, who cuts himself. People who were close to him knew he “used to cut himself back in high school,” but he hadn’t done it in decades. I found out he was doing it again. He’d confessed this to me over the telephone expecting complete privacy. I listened to him and counselled him until I felt confident that he would be safe and then, immediately upon hanging up the phone, I reached out in person to the members of his family that he was closest to. I knew that in doing so I would be breaking his confidence and my word. I knew that it was entirely possible that he would never speak to me again. But this was his life. And his life mattered to me so much I was willing to risk losing him. Later that night he voluntarily checked himself in to the mental institution.

Yes, he was mad. He was embarrassed. But also, he was grateful. We still talk.

To Be A Good Friend | Memee's Musings

Crisis Text Line 24/7: Text “Go” to 741-741 to get started
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

If you or a loved one suffers from a mental illness please visit my other site, Letters to the Mind, and consider contributing. Sharing our stories educates the uninformed. Stigma can only end when we bring the taboo into light and teach the people around us that within our hearts we are all the same.