No frills or diatribes. Just an introduction and me performing a cover of ‘True Colors’ for you with some assistance from the kids. I hate singing publically except for karaoke so this is a pretty big deal. Hope you enjoy it.
My stepdaughter Lorelei and I discuss a little more on ‘Wonder’ and why the casting of Jacob Tremblay is problematic. I also talk about a recent experience with someone on a GHS support site that really upset me and is a bigger problem than people realize. Afterwards I play a song on my keyboard. Don’t forget to like and share! You can watch here:
In this vlog I discuss mental health issues in relation to disability… Specifically craniofacial differences. I mostly talk about my own experiences and opinions. Hope you like! Please don’t forget to SHARE.
Second video blog. This one with my step-son, AJ. He is all the cuteness.
Note: The glitch I mention in the video has been fixed! Click on Menu and then ‘Changing the Channel’ to access YouTube videos from Abnormally Funny People and BBC Ouch! as well as my kids. There is also a bonus Tribute to Kingdom Hearts video starring my cousin. If you know of any other YouTube channels relating to disability… Especially craniofacial disorders… Let me know! I am also open to websites and podcasts.
In the meantime try not to melt at all the cuteness that is AJ.
Happy Holidays everyone! I know I haven’t been posting much. Now with being back home in Albuquerque and living with my girlfriend and two kids life is very hectic. Having an 8 and a 10 year old in your life definitely makes for an interesting life! I love being a parent and every day is an adventure.
So… I decided to post today especially to give tribute and thanks to Imgur. For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning you know that Imgur is the site that inspired me to start the blog in the first place. Three years ago I posted a selfie of myself wearing a Doctor Who shirt my mom had bought me because I was incredibly excited. Just to explain, Imgur is an image sharing website where people can upvote or downvote pictures depending on whether or not they like them. There is an unwritten rule among Imgurians that states ‘no selfies’. Selfies are for Facebook and Instagram. I had expected to get downvoted but I didn’t care… I was too excited by the shirt.
However, a few things happened that I didn’t expect. The first is that there is also a secondary unwritten rule that christmas selfies are allowable because well… christmas. The second is that a few people made negative comments pertaining to my face (which I expected) and then the rest of Imgur leapt to my defense (which I did not expect). The post exploded and went viral. People started messaging me personally asking me questions or saying things like “you are so brave” or one that I particular liked was someone who had been facing depression for years and because of my positive example decided they were going to seek therapy because they had more to live for than they ever realized. That was awesome.
Let me make one thing clear right here and right now. I am not brave. I was given a set of tools to deal with what I have to deal with, just as the tools you have help you deal with whatever it is you have to deal with. I am no braver than the person standing next to me, I just have a different set of tools. That doesn’t make me brave… just well adjusted and knowledgeable enough to use the tools available to me. I was lucky in having an upbringing that gave me the opportunities to learn what my tools are in the first place.
So the next year I decided to commemorate the first year by posting another christmas selfie. This time I was dressed spiffy in a red shirt and tie and wrote a little blurb beforehand that caused many Imgurians to laugh. For example I posted “I was born with it but it ain’t Maybeline”. That post went viral as well and had even more upvotes than the first post did. Much the same as the first one I had my fair share of negative comments but honestly I could care less. What is it to me? Every now and then I would comment a kudos on one particularly clever or zing somebody who was attempting to be clever but honestly… it never bothered me.
The next year before I had a chance to post anything a bot did it for me. There is a bot called ‘This Time Last Year’ that reposted the pics that went most viral the year before. Thankfully Imgur noticed and didn’t blame me for that. I did post my annual christmas selfie but I messed up because it was a picture of me acting like Sloth from the Goonies and the featured image was Sloth rather than me… so most didn’t realize that I was posting my selfie.
Here we come around again to this year and lo and behold… This Time Last Year did again! The bot actually reposted its OWN repost from last year! Figures! Yet again my face is on the front page, though I had nothing to do with it. Don’t you worry though! I will be posting my regular dapper christmas selfie in a few hours with this blog post linked to it. Whether you upvote it or not I don’t care. I just want to say thank you, Imgur for starting this and showing me so much love over the years. You guys are amazing.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! (Or Happy Holidays… whatever you celebrate or don’t)
Listening to the cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Jensen Ackles
I was watching ‘Hope Floats’ and there is this part where the daughter, Bernice, is getting bullied at school. Later after she goes home feeling sad she is laying in bed and her mom, grandmother, cousin and friend start dancing and putting on a show to make her laugh. I started bawling because it reminded me so much of my mom and family and friends growing up.
For me, every day was torture. There was never a break or reprieve. School was just awful and I was horribly abused. I don’t like to call it bullying because that makes it sound like less than it was. I wasn’t ‘teased’ or ‘bullied’ or ‘made fun of’. I was assaulted and tortured every day. Some days it was just verbal but most days included some kind of physical abuse. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to kill myself but would have been perfectly fine with fate taking its course and wiping me off the mortal plane.
It was moments like with Bernice that kept me going. My family and friends were always there for me when the pain became too much to bear. They were always willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of dignity and make me smile or laugh.
Our animals played a big part, too. Our cat, Finger, was responsible for my first laugh. We had no shortage of animals that could put a smile on my face. Our old Rottweiler Mikey was a great shoulder to cry on and knew all my secrets. Best dog there ever was.
My mom is truly the one that tought me to laugh at myself. She wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself for long. She was full of wise sayings like “No matter how bad you have it there is always someone who has it worse off than you” and “Confidence counts for more than your face ever will”. Of course, none of that really stuck or made sense until my twenties but eventually I started to learn.
I still see people far into their thirties stuck in that rut of self loathing and I am thankful every day for the love and support of my friends and family.
To those of you in your teenage years struggling to make it through… Please remember this. Confidence can get you everywhere. If you don’t have it, fake it. Wherever confidence doesn’t reach love will get you the rest of the way.
Going to leave you with some poetry.
Every day I woke up, dreading everything
I knew how much pain and fear the following would bring
There was only so much loathing I could heap upon myself
I locked myself up tight and put the key upon the shelf
Every night I would toss and turn and cry myself to sleep
And slowly the melancholy and depression would they creep
Till one day I decided that I had had enough
Of the anger and the fear and all the horrid stuff
I still have the marks and the scars and the memories
But I wanted more than sad and bitter stories
So I took the key and unlocked myself, my soul my heart
And that is when my real life truly began to start
Remember when you hide yourself and lock yourself away
You may miss out on something beautiful one day.
No one can make you feel inferior with out your consent
Now instead of time being wasted it is being spent
To hell with all the ones that would make you hurt
Just live your life and leave those haters in the dirt.
Listening to ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules
(Quick heads up. I apologize for any typos. This was done on my phone. My monitor got crushed on the move back to Albuquerque. From now on I will borrow my girlfriend’s laptop.)
I was gonna sweep this whole ‘regular kid playing a craniofacial kid’ under the rug and ignore it… But a few things have made me realize that would be wrong. I was watching one of my new favorite movies “The Fundamentals of Caring” the other day and my girlfriend Brittany stands there watching for a few minutes and turns to me and goes “Does the actor have Muscular Dystrophy?” and I responded that he didn’t. She made a valid point that “The Fundamentals of Caring” and “Wonder” suffer from the same problem. Regular actors playing a part they will NEVER truly understand.
RJ Palacio wrote “Wonder” because her son reacted negatively to another kid with a craniofacial issue. It inspired her to show what it was like from the other side. This is a beautiful and inspiring story… But is it right for her to make money off of our plight because her son is the type of person who made us miserable as children??? Me as an adult I can look at the kid and understand and say, “He’s just a kid… He doesn’t understand.” But as a kid we don’t have that adult understanding… It just hurts. We get that treatment every day as kids and it puts wounds on your heart that will never truly heal. Sure, I wish my blog would take off and I could make money too… But I HAVE Goldenhar Syndrome. I am speaking on something I have every right to speak about.
Still… It is good that the story is being told, right? That is what the others say. “At least the story is being told.” Told by who? For who? ‘Mask’ starred a regular actor named Eric Stoltz but it was BASED on a real story. The story of Rocky Denis. I can go online and look up Rocky and see the poem HE wrote and see what HE looked like. ‘Wonder’ is entirely a work of fiction off of the imagination of a mother trying to teach a lesson.
When I got upset that the actor was being played by a ‘regular’ kid a woman spoke up stating that she worked for some facility in New York and explained to me about what happened to make RJ Palacio write the book and stated that they had tried to cast a kid with a craniofacial disorder but it didn’t work out and the kids had too many medical issues. This is straight up bullshit. A lot of GHS kids don’t have any outstanding medical issues past age four or five. They may need cosmetic surgery later but nothing that can’t wait. I had Malignant Hypothermia which made my situation much worse and yet still by age six didn’t have any issues except ear infections now and then. I went to school from the start and was a straight A student and did bowling on the weekends. Does this sound like a kid who can’t play the part?
I was going to leave it alone. I am tired and frankly feel like my voice doesn’t get heard most of the time. I work hard on the blog for periods of time and it does nothing it seems like. But my friend Duane messaged me about how upset HE was about all this and it lit a fire under me. I am mad… And I will be heard. I am not just going to throw up my hands and say “at least our story is being told”… Because it isn’t. Do they even have someone with a craniofacial disorder there to advise? To add reality to this good but fictional story? To say “It probably would have been more like this.” I bet you dollars to donuts it doesn’t. We are gonna put Julia Roberts as the mom and the movie will SELL SELL SELL! Who cares about the kid? Who cares about the thousands of us who grew up bullied and tortured every day? When you make a movie based on something you have never experienced yourself either as a sufferer or a parent, have it star a completely ‘regular’ cast and not a single person who can speak on the subject has anything to do with this movie that is not “telling our story”… That is exploitation.
I know I haven’t written in a while. Life has been busy and I have a lot going on. I have also been a bit down lately and under a lot of stress. I have some good friends in Klamath that I am going to miss but I am ready to get the heck out of here. I miss home, I miss my family… I miss my life. I have also been dealing with a lot at work and frankly I’m just tired.
However, I have an audience that looks forward to my posts and I have worked hard to build up my fan base, so blowing it off isn’t good either… even if I am tired. So I apologize. It would help if you guys would get more involved. Give me subjects to write about. I run out of ideas. If there is anything you want to know about feel free to ask. Other than personal information like addresses and such I am pretty much an open book. I am taking on a second job so I am going to be even more stretched, but I will still write… as long as I have a subject. I put it out there today and a friend said “You gotta address Orlando” so I suppose that is what I’ll do. It doesn’t have much to do with me having Goldenhar Syndrome but does have very much to do with the fact that I am lesbian oriented. So here goes.
I am going to start with me and my introduction into the gay community. I came out as gay openly ON Pride Day in 1999. I had met a friend named Penny who had invited me to go to Pride and so I got all dressed up to go. As I was breezing out the door my mother asked why I was so dressed up, so I responded with, “Going to the Gay Pride Parade! Love you, bye!” Later that night my mom looked me in the eye and asked me if I was gay. I responded with, “You know mom… I pretty much think I am.” She responded with, “It’s about time!” Honestly I think I came out of the womb waving some sort of banner or other.
I still remember my first Pride quite vividly. At the time it really only took over the main stage at the fairgrounds. Butches of both genders played volleyball in the corner. Kids ran around laughing and playing and getting their faces painted. There was a circle of booths around the grass. It was so *small*. At the time it didn’t seem that way. It was my first immersion into LGBT society so to me it seemed immense. Here were all these people like me or at least something I have in common with right here in one place! It has grown every year since to the point where it took over main stage, main street, 2nd stage and apparently this year they had some sort of midway. A parade that lasted a few minutes now lasts almost an hour.
I went to the next year’s Pride as well but stayed in the background that year just the same as I had the year before. I was content to sit quietly and watch from afar. A woman I met online changed all that.
I have talked about this before so I’m going to try to breeze this part quickly. I met Linda Davis on AOL back in the old days. (90 Hours Free!) I had a habit of messaging any queer or lesbian oriented women I could find there to try to make friends. Linda found out that I played the keyboard and pushed me to play in a fundraiser. I kept saying no but she was a stubborn woman and finally convinced me to give in. There was no looking back from there. I wowed the crowd of maybe 10 people but also caught the eye of PJ Sedillo (who did a fantastic rendition of ‘Impossible Dream’) who happened to be president of the Pride Board. Suddenly I had both Linda and PJ begging me to play at every opportunity and pushing me to run for Ms. Youth Gay Pride 2001. Finally convinced I ran and won the title, pushing me headfirst into the community. I had to raise $2,000 for Pride and other charities throughout the year. I was lucky in the fact that just a few short weeks after I turned 21 which enabled me to hold shows at the bars. My co-titleholder Karma wasn’t so lucky and so was struggling to raise money. If you don’t raise the money you suffer the chance of losing your title… so after I earned my money I helped Karma raise hers. I’d held a few shows at a Unitarian Church and knew how hard it was to get people involved when there wasn’t alcohol available.
From that time on I was constantly performing for years. After my title year I helped the next year’s titleholders by performing. I joined a gay and lesbian group we dubbed “The Guys and Dolls” which was a total blast until the drama got a bit much to handle. I performed two comedic songs with my friend Carol Spizman at “Funny Lesbians For a Change” which earned money for scholarships… I still got stopped in the street by people who recognize me from that performance. I performed duets with my friend L.E. that rocked the house. I started volunteering for WIMINfest which was a lesbian music and entertainment festival because of my friend Nina Knapp who was just as stubborn as Linda Davis. I even worked at a lesbian bar for a few years because I was out of work and struggling and the owner was a sap that was willing to let me barback on the weekends for money under the table so I could keep my head afloat. I started becoming an activist and phone banking and… and… and…
I say all this because I want you to understand. I have been persecuted for being gay. Absolutely. Most of the time it’s just people screaming “DYKE!” from their card windows as they buzz down central. One time me and a girl I was seeing got called faggots but she made sure to scream back that dyke was the correct epithet. I have had food thrown at me outside those same car windows, sodas, cassette tapes (yes, I am serious) and even a rock wrapped in a string for better throwing power. I know people who have been brutally assaulted in very vicious ways and even mutilated because of their orientation. They are still gay. It’s not something you can ‘change’. Trust me… many of us would gladly do so if there was a switch we could turn to make us ‘normal’. It isn’t possible. Conversion therapy is a joke. We don’t ‘choose’ to be differently oriented any more than you ‘choose’ to be straight.
What happened in Orlando didn’t just make me said… it made me angry. Those faces I see in the article could so easily have been me or any number of my friends. The average person may consider Pride Day to simply be a day where we can flaunt ourselves in your face or parade down the street half-naked and covered in glitter… but it is so much more than that.
Pride Day started following the events of the Stonewall Riots which at this point everyone has heard of… though even that has been distorted throughout history. The original Pride was a march rather than a parade and meant to be somber in remembrance. Those people who laid the foundation for our freedom faced some serious opposition in just simply having a march. They were screamed at, brutalized and had eggs thrown at them.. but they continued on. In the 1980’s there was a cultural shift and it began to take on a more celebratory air as it slowly transitioned into what it is today. It all started because a group of people wanted to be able to live their lives without fear… without persecution. “It’s only love, what is everybody so scared of?”. (Stephen Carter played by Ben Silverstone in ‘Get Real’)
People look on Pride now as a flagrant display… but the roots are much deeper than that. We have Pride because we have had so much to overcome… and obviously still have much more to overcome.
Orlando was a blow to my heart. I used to hang out a gay bar called ‘The Pulse’. It could really have been me… or a friend or loved one. The thing that haunts me the most is the article I read about a journalist who got into Pulse before all the bodies had been cleared away. They wrote about how it was totally silent except the constant ringing of numerous phones as loved ones tried over and over to reach those that had been killed. I can’t help but imagine my mom frantically calling my phone over and over as the news hit, tears streaming down her face as the panic set in.
Politicians are using this as a platform to gain votes and I get angry. People argue about the roots of the attack. ISIS claimed it. So what? I honestly doubt ISIS had anything to do with it and probably just claimed it after the fact because people would believe it. The man arrested was unstable and homophobic. What really matters in the long and short of things is that it happened and we still have miles to go.
I can’t help being gay any more than I can help being disabled. I have just as much control over my GHS as I do over my orientation… and that is none. We aren’t out get you. We aren’t trying to convert your children. We accept our cultures more strongly than others and so yes… we tend to be a flagrant and colorful people… but we really aren’t trying to rub it in your face. We just want to be able to live life and love without fear. If we scare you we don’t mean to… we just want to be who we are.
Negativity spreads. When you judge someone for being gay you spread that and it touches more and more people until situations like Orlando are born. Love spreads too. The more you show compassion for your fellow humans the more it spreads until situations like Orlando can be avoided. We aren’t hurting you. Don’t hurt us.
I also want to spend a moment to recognize LatinX and the fact that many of those who died were people of color. We must not let one matter get swept under the rug because of another.
Listening to “Sing” by My Chemical Romance. I chose this song on purpose in tribute to this post.
It was recently sibling day on Facebook… which led me to thinking about my brother. Thinking about my brother led me to thinking about love and support and I started remembering things in my past that felt important to share.
I have a lot of love in my life. I have a fantastic support system. One of the main reasons I have survived life up to this point is because of love. I think that my life in middle school would have defeated me were it not for the support of my friends and family. It wasn’t until later in my life when I started to see reactions towards my friends because of their association with me that made me realize how much they had to sacrifice to be my friends. I hope you realize how much I appreciate you all.
Here is an example. One of my best friends, Cindy, had her father visiting from Washington. It was the first time I’d met him and we were running some errands together. One of those errands took us to Costco. Now, I was already having a rough ‘I feel ugly’ day. When in the parking lot two teenage girls were walking down the sidewalk and one of them was staring at me so hard she tripped and fell into her friend. Normally I ignore this kind of thing but I was irritated and blurted out the window, “Take a picture it’ll last longer!” Cindy was actually tickled pink because she knows me well enough to know how rare that type of thing it is.
Anyway, when we got into the store it came to pass that another store was selling pianos at Costco so there were bunches on display. Any time I see a piano I take advantage so I sat down and started to play and gathered myself a bit of an audience. After playing a few songs I got a round of applause and then I continued on my way shopping with Cindy and her dad. At some point we were near the freezer section and a woman approached me with her toddler. She started to talk to me in what I now refer to as ‘Kindergarten Teacher’ speak. At the time I was still naive to it so the woman was just baffling the crap out of me.
She came up to me with this big, huge, fake smile and said, “Are you the one who was playing the piano?”
“Yes… why?” I responded.
“Oh My GOODNESS!” She responded with way too much enthusiasm. “I just CANNOT stand by and NOT get to hear you! It is such an amazing thing for someone like you to have so much talent!”
“Someone like me?” I was completely oblivious. I think some small part of me was beginning to understand but was psychologically refusing to.
“YES!” The woman gushed, “You know… you are just so… special!”
At this point Cindy walks up next to me and gives the woman her best glare and says “You do realize she isn’t retarded, right?” (Please excuse the language… this was like a decade ago and regardless… she was upset and the last thing on her mind was being politically correct.) The woman blinks and literally kinda snaps back like she’s been slapped. I look her straight in the eyes and say, “She’s right.. I’m not.”
The woman looked at Cindy, then at me, then at Cindy… and she got an angry face and stalked away with her cart. At this point I still don’t get why she got angry… but needless to say… that is the kind of thing that my friends and family face on a regular basis.
I have gone on a romantic date and had waiters/waitresses take my order and then turn to the person I’m on the date with and ask if it was OK if I ordered what I did because they thought I was mentally disabled and they were my keeper. I have seen people’s jaws drop as I kiss whoever I’m with in public. It is painful and horrid… though sometimes it is funny.
I think my favorite time when assumptions were made was one time when I was with my brother and my friend Kris at Barnes and Noble. I am naturally a goofball and usually so are my friends… so assumptions *can* be easily made. Kris was with his ex-wife who is just as much as a goofball as the rest of us and I was in the process of buying my brother a book as a late birthday present and so I started singing “Happy Birthday” at the top of my lungs before I realized I was in the middle of a book store and was being royally rude. So it kinda went like this. I burst into song at the top of my lungs, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Y-” before and my brother responded belatedly by bashing my in the head with the book. Of course I squealed, “OWWWWW” and right at that moment Kris’s ex saw a poster of some kittens and bellowed, “KITTIES!!!!”
Kris started to corral us at that point and two people actually walked up to Kris and asked him if he needed help because they thought that Kris was our caretaker and that all three of us were mentally disabled and that Kris was taking us out for some kind of evening treat. The most ironic part is we were all really simply being ourselves and we really are that dorky. It took everything Kris had to keep a straight face and let the helpful people know that he had it under control while we left the store.
The sad part is if I hadn’t been with them they probably would have been ignored as being silly. We all make first impression judgments. Even me. I try to think the best of people but even I can fall under that pit. I didn’t truly realize how easy it was for people to make those judgments about me until I was about twenty. It was around christmas and I was out with two friends of mine… or really a friend of mine and a friend of hers. I can’t even remember the second girl’s name. We went out to sushi and then one of them had the brilliant idea of going to the mall during christmas season. We were having a heated argument about first impressions and I kept trying to explain that most people assumed I was mentally disabled until they got to know me. She kept arguing that wasn’t the case. So I said “Watch this” and jumped into a splotch of purple light in the middle of the floor and screamed “PURPLLLLLLLE!!!” at the top of my lungs and started doing a dance in the light. My friend started laughing her head off and actually fell down laughing… a guy standing in an extremely long line turned and said,”Hey! Don’t laugh at her because she’s retarded!” Of course my friend laughed all the harder and I had proved my point.
Or so I thought I had. Of course in retrospect it wasn’t at all funny and regardless… me acting like that in the middle of the mall is going to force assumptions. I thought I had proved something important only to learn later in life that even me just being myself can bring judgment and scorn. I don’t have to imitate anything for that judgment.
Also… A quick inside here. I used to work with the special education team at my high school. All the special ed kids knew me well and knew that I was a safe place. In fact… in a weird way they looked up to me because I was like them but wasn’t. There was this boy Mark who had Downs who used to walk up to me at lunch, kick me in the butt and steal my french fries. There was Nick, who I had known since sixth grade, who worked his butt off to graduate. I respect them so much. I would never do anything I think would make them hurt. Not even close. Not even ever. The one closest to my heart was Danny. He had severe autism. He had a strange affection for the school nurse and loved to visit her at every opportunity. He was a savant in the fact that he actually had a photographic memory… but he didn’t know how to apply it. He developed an attraction to me and that enabled me to keep him in control sometimes when he would have a ‘fit’. Sometimes when he was denied access to the nurse he would go into a full grown tantrum… and then I would be pulled out of class to run over and get him under control. I would get him calmed down and buy him a Sprite and everything would be ok.
I had a work-study class right next to his and every day he would run up to me excited. “Erin! Guess what!?” I would reply with, “What, Danny?” and he would excited reply with, “I got see Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner last night!” I would respond with enthusiasm. Every day and that was our ritual as I would buy him a Sprite for class. He loved Sprite. I of course had his teacher’s permission. I always made sure to have the fifty cents needed for that… no matter how broke I was. One day, near graduation, we were walking along to a class… I was escorting him and he put his hand on my shoulder to stop me. I stopped… baffled and he clapped his hands nervously and literally got down on one knee. He spoke with a stutter as usual but got the words out, “Erin… will you marry me?”
He absolutely meant it… I felt like such a heel. I grabbed his hands and pulled him up and said, “Danny. I love you. You know I do…. but I can’t marry you… but this I promise. I will never be proposed to by a better man.” He was crushed… I could tell… but he recovered quickly enough and gave me one of his beaming smiles and gave me a big hug. That was the last time I saw him.
My point is… despite whatever antics I may take. I would never do anything that I think would hurt my friends. I have often been accused of being rude of some antics in the past and asked if I would do that in front of someone who was mentally disabled. Absolutely. They know I am not making fun of them. I am making fun of people who make silly assumptions. The sad thing is the people who would assume that they don’t realize that they are being made fun of. Trust me… they know. They are not stupid. They just process differently. The even sadder thing is that so many people get so self-righteous in their indignation that they don’t realize they themselves are demeaning those they are trying to protect.
I don’t do such things as often as I used to… because it’s not as funny as it was when I was younger and thought such untasteful things were just hilarious… but I can’t say I won’t do it again. However, I have come to learn that I don’t even have to do anything outward to be considered differently-abled. I think that is what saddens me the most. I don’t have to prove a point anymore.
I wish there was a world where whoever I am with could kiss me without looks of confusion of condemnation… but it is not to be yet. It took me years to realize the sacrifice my friends and family make for me… and I thank you all for the love and support you continue to give me. I love you all… so much. I could say I wish things were different but… I don’t. I am a better person for it. I guess it is somewhat selfish for me to be thankful to look like I do while the people around me have to suffer the consequences… but maybe it makes you better people too. You are just victims of collateral damage… but despite that you have stuck by me. I consider that to be one of life’s amazing things… even if you don’t.
The thing I have learned though… is those that don’t consider it a burden are those that are the closest to me. I have had people in my past who have considered themselves proud to be friends with me or date me… and they have gradually filtered out of my life. It is those that were my friends without a thought that still remain in my life. It wasn’t a prize to be won… it just is.
I guess it took me a while to realize that those who considered me a trophy to be won were not necessarily my friends. For those who loved me for who I am… I love you back. I thank you for your sacrifice… but I know you won’t consider it to be one.
Listening to Blues Traveler, “Yours”
It is often said that ‘we are our own worst critics’. Everyone on this planet falls under that category in some shape or form. Somebody will always be smarter, talented, more attractive or more dynamic than we are. The thing is… this is true. So sitting there feeling sorry for yourself because of it is a pointless exercise. No matter how different you are from everyone else just be yourself. Someone will always have it better than you, and someone will always be worse off than you. If you try to live your life by a pecking order that you can’t fit into… yer gonna have a bad time!
Work on the things you can change. You can change the way you see yourself. You can change the way you treat yourself. You can change the language you use when referring to yourself. I myself am a master at being self-deprecating… but I also appreciate myself and spent many years looking in the mirror finding things that I appreciated about my face and body so that I could look in the mirror every day without flinching or feeling ill or wrong.
Every single one of us is unique. Even identical twins have different fingerprints. They also have different personalities… and different personalities result in different styles, color choices, etc. Rejoice in your choices and your style and to heck with anyone else. No matter who or what you are you will always face opposition in your life. The time it becomes a serious problem is when you are your own worst enemy.
I have stood up to bullies for other people plenty of times in my life. When it comes to protecting someone else I don’t even hesitate. However, back in the day I would slice myself to ribbons in the mirror when I was younger. (Not literally… metaphorically.) I would call myself the same things those bullies would say without even thinking twice.
I was recently watching “The Laramie Project”… a mockumentary about the Matthew Sheppard murder in Laramie, Wyoming. It is based on real testimony but played by actors. There was this Catholic priest… a sweet man who was a bit more ‘earthy’ than your typical Catholic priest. He said,”We cannot stand by and allow acts of violence to happen. Sure, what Aaron and Russell did to that boy was violence… but if I were to call you a fag or you a les or a dyke… that is also violence.” (That isn’t an exact quote but you get the idea.)
We commit acts of violence on ourselves every day. We call ourselves ugly, or fat, or worthless, or stupid… we call ourselves these things until we start to believe them… and when we start to believe them… so does everyone else. The only person who can stop this is you. I challenge you to look into the mirror and tell yourself something you like about yourself. Do it every day for a year. After a while it becomes easier and easier… trust me.. I have done this challenge. At first it is really hard… but it does get easier. Try it… what could it hurt? I leave you with a poem I wrote, recently.
I watched the bully every day
She said such horrible things!
I watched the bully every day
And cringed but did nothing.
I watched the bully every day
Insult this person I know
You wouldn’t believe what she’d say
I just watched and then would go.
They said words that cut and hurt
Like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ and ‘dirt’
I have protected people from bullies all of my life… What is it that is making me shirk?
They say things like ‘stupid’ and ‘worthless’ and are vicious as can be…
But the reason I didn’t stop them is because the victim is me.
But do you know what is the worst kind of irony?
I was looking into the mirror and I was also the bully.
If we would stop someone from saying those things to someone else…
Maybe we should start with ourselves.
Listening to ‘Stereo Hearts’ by Gym Class Heroes