Five Things to Understand About People Processing Violence



People who’ve survived any form of physical abuse or threat are often left with hard-to-heal emotional scars. The damage can take many forms, such as: sexual molestation, rape, being physically struck or beaten, experiencing danger, and military service. But no matter how personal safety violations are inflicted, any may lead to psychological dysfunction.

Generalized Anxiety Disorderdissociationdenialdepression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are some issues experienced by humans whose nervous systems have been pushed beyond their limits. People who experience assault-based trauma are more likely to develop PTSD, but everyone has a different level of stress they can handle before becoming permanently overwhelmed. Because all humans are different, there’s no way to predict psychological disorders, and no guaranteed cures.

Some common symptoms felt by those who’ve been in threatening situations may include hypervigilance, being easily startled, insomnia, never feeling safe, brain fog, irritability, an exaggerated fight-or-flight response, mood swings, and panic attacks involving dizziness, nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat, tunneling vision, or a sense of impending doom.

Below are 5 things to kindly keep in mind while talking to people processing violence:

1. The Compassion Competition

One of the worst assumptions to make about a person affected by violence is that they lack perspective or don’t understand that somebody always has it worse. Abused people know they’re not the only person to which injustice has happened, and unless they’ve never been on the Internet, they’re aware of life’s many atrocities.

Examples of this might be saying, “Well, at least THIS WORSE THING didn’t happen to you…” and giving an example of something you consider a greater wrongdoing.

This reaction completely invalidates the feelings of the person who trusted you enough to confide, and insults their intelligence. The fact that bad things also happen to others doesn’t magically erase the bad things that have happened to them, no matter where you’d place the abuse on your spectrum.

In short: Pain is not a contest. You can show empathy to more than one person at a time without dismissing the feelings of anyone. Because regardless of how someone was hurt, it always matters.

2. The Dance of Denial

Many victims of physical or sexual abuse find themselves alone with their pain because the topic makes others feel uncomfortable. This can be especially true if the person was violated by a family member.

Families sometimes brush unflattering stories about sexual or physical abusers under the rug because it’s hard to believe a relative is capable of such brutality. But this reaction can re-victimize people by invalidating their pain.

Often, rather than helping those harmed by someone, friends and relatives defensively ignore the issue, allowing the perpetrator to get away with something evil. This lack of justice or support can severely hamper the healing process, because a person can’t heal from a wound nobody will acknowledge.

In short: Abuse at the hands of a stranger -or- a family member hurts, and all forms of abuse are abuse. Ignoring the “icky” can make those harmed feel like they’ve done something wrong, rather than the person who caused the damage. Listen, believe, and strengthen instead of shaming.

3. The Blame Game

If you ever feel like saying, “Well that person is a ____, so what did you expect?” or, “I just accept that they’re messed up, and ignore it. That’s just who they are!” about the person who harmed someone, go ahead and keep that thought to yourself, because it reeks of victim blaming.

You may have the best intentions, such as trying to commiserate with the person who’s sharing their painful experience with you. However, what they often hear instead is: “Shame on you for being stupid. You should have known what you were dealing with, and anticipated your own violation.”

In short: Nobody in a civilized society should ever have to expect violence. Don’t imply that people could have predicted their own abuse and avoided it, because this only makes you look uncompassionate.

4. Downplaying the Damage

There is nothing more unhelpful than someone telling you to “get over it” in reference to anything, including the violation of your personal safety. Unless you have the ability to crawl into another person’s psyche and assess how something has affected them, dismissing their damage can be downright dangerous. Everyone has the right to feel safe, and whether you’ve experienced similar things or not, your decision that everyone else has to deal with emotions exactly the way you do is condescending, at best

Being told you’re “histrionic” or to “put on your big boy/big girl pants” are examples of thoughtless advice, and often given by those who choose to live in denial, rather than being brave enough to deal with their problems. This form of blatant invalidation is heartless and harmful. If someone has the courage to face their personal demons, rather than attempting to humiliate them into silence because of your own cowardice, you might instead watch and learn.

In short: Gaslighting is gross. Stop trying to make people feel like they’re overreacting or incorrectly imagining their own abuse. Everybody’s emotions are valid, and your motives are questionable if you’d prefer people in pain “suck it up and move on.” If you feel this way, why don’t YOU move on… somewhere out of hearing range.

5. No Pity Parties, Please

Most people who’ve been hurt by someone else are furious that they were forced into the role of victim, and don’t enjoy it. Treating them with compassion is lovely, but viewing them with pity can be upsetting. Being helpless is the worst feeling in the world, and nobody who’s experienced it ever wants to feel it again.

The word “survivor” is preferred over the word “victim” by some (but not all – everybody is different) because it implies strength, rather than weakness. Surviving doesn’t have to mean someone has survived a life-or-death situation, either—it simply means someone is trying to accept and cope with what’s happened to them.

In short: Nobody chooses to be abused, and treating people like they’re fragile or broken because of the violating actions of another can frustrate them. Let them know you think they’re strong for moving forward, despite those who’ve tried to hold them back. Survivors of abuse would much rather you celebrate their courage than pity them.


People on the path to wellness don’t appreciate roadblocks created by other humans, well-intentioned or not. If you truly want to help someone move past bad things that have happened to them, listen to and believe them, don’t invalidate their feelings, and try to empathize.

Kindness and understanding go a long way in this world, and by avoiding the potentially harmful reactions listed above, you might give someone the compassion and support they need to heal themselves.


Black Cat in the Storm Drain


My husband says, in a hoarse voice as he leaves for work, “My lungs are thick. I’m going to try to go to work as long as I can,” and I laugh quietly inside, knowing he’ll be home soon. He always says this when he’s sick, and it’s code for I’ll be home soon and I wonder why I know this, but he hasn’t yet figured out there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell he’ll make it through the day at work. He committed to coming home psychologically from the second those words left his mouth, and it entertains me how it always takes an hour or two for him to catch up with his own subconscious.

My son takes his time getting ready for school, making me feel like a nagging, irritating dog nipping at his heels, nudging him through the steps it will take to prepare him for school. We do this dance every day, and I dread it. I long for the day I am no longer his keeper, his pushy life coach, and he can function on his own. I never understand when people wistfully look back on the baby and toddler days, because my child has always been so high-maintenance that I’m existentially exhausted.

Lately, he has taken to languishing in the shower, and our water bill doubled last month because of this, so I open the door and tell him to rinse off, get out, officially the drill sergeant of utilities. Eat the breakfast I’ve cooked for you. Fix your hair. Brush your teeth. Put on your shoes. We leave ten minutes later than planned, but still with plenty of time.

I send him into the school where he’s been violently bullied, saying my usual mother’s prayer for his safety, hoping today kids and teachers will be kind to my neurologically atypical child. Hoping no shooters will enter the building. Please, no phone calls today, I beg silently in my head. Let it be a good day. I drive away after telling him I love him, because I never miss a chance to say this to him, knowing it may be the last I get.

On the way home, I pass the entrance to the gym at the affordable club where we have a family membership allowing my husband to golf, my son to swim in the summers, and a place for me to lift weights and do cardio exercise. I turn in because I was exhausted yesterday and took a three-hour-long nap in lieu of exercise, trying to listen to my body. I’m still very tired, but I can’t live with the guilt of going two days without a workout. I park and use my key card to beep into the door that unlocks when I wave my purse in its direction.

The creepy older man who came up behind me when I was alone in the gym on the treadmill and scared me one day to ask me if I am married sees me and says, “Hello, beautiful!” like he does every time I see him, which felt nice and grandfatherly before he asked if I’m married, but now doesn’t feel as nice. I smile and reply with a friendly greeting even though I don’t feel like it anymore, don’t feel cheerful towards him, and instead feel nervous and sad. I’m relieved when he walks out of the gym to another part of the club.

I run through the strength training machines I like best, finishing with a mildly brisk mile on the treadmill because I read somewhere that twenty minutes of fast walking a day can reduce one’s chance of high blood pressure or diabetes by thirty or forty percent–I’m not really sure of the number–but I know it will help me stay healthy and alive for my kid, so I do it. Through the gym window, I watch the ducks waddling in puddles while I walk, mind wandering down five paths at once like it does, trying not to look at the numbers on the machine.

The cold air feels good on my sweaty face as I leave the gym, heading for my car in the empty parking lot. I unlock the door to my small, fuel-efficient car, and drive home. A few blocks from my house, I notice the black cat that darts into the storm drains whenever I see it. My son and I have named it Midnight after my childhood black cat with the same unoriginal name.

I keep a large bag of cat food in my garage in a tote that I use to refill a smaller bag in my car to feed stray cats. I don’t understand why people have cats as pets if they’re going to leave them outside to be lonely and vulnerable, hiding from predators, collecting parasites, and in constant danger. It makes me angry because innocence should always be protected. We have so little of it in this world, and that makes it precious.

I’ve tried to befriend this black cat for almost a year, but it refuses to come out of the storm drain, meowing loudly while staring up at me with round, haunted eyes, telling me it doesn’t want to be outside and hungry in a cold, dirty storm drain, but it’s too afraid to trust. I relate to this cat. I understand wanting to trust but being too scared, even while crying out for help in other ways. I know what it is to be alone, vulnerable, and unable to reach out.

I pull my car to the side of the road, wondering if the neighbors are watching, thinking I’m weird, and realize I don’t really care. I open the hatchback of my little car that doubles as the trunk and pull out the small bag of cat food. I pour some outside of the storm drain while Midnight cries from below, breaking my heart. I talk to the cat, apologizing for humans who don’t care, telling it as I always do that I will adopt it and give it a warm, safe home if it will come with me, if it will trust me.

I pour some food down into the storm drain, and the meows are replaced with the sounds of a cat crunching kibble. There is one cute meow with a mouth full and then nothing but the sounds of a starving animal eating as fast as it can. I pour more food gently through the slats of the storm drain, and it falls next to the cat. The cat doesn’t even look up or startle because it’s so hungry.

I walk sadly to my car, wishing I could do more, and drive the few blocks to my house. I see my husband’s car parked in the driveway, and know he’s in bed with the illness he was going to work through that I knew he’d never work through but let him pretend because it has to be his choice to stay home. Like me, he’s as stubborn as a cat in a storm drain.

Writing out a shopping list to make chicken noodle and vegetable soup, I ask if he needs anything in particular from the store and go. In the parking lot, I get out of my car wearing a mask because we own multiple packs of them, just in case I’m sick, too. I don’t want to risk infecting others.

A man pulls into the parking lot with his car windows down, screaming, laughing, and singing to a song I don’t hear, and I assume it’s playing in his head. He stares at me in my face mask and I become nervous he’s going to approach from across the lot, but he only pauses for a moment. I look down into my purse and pretend to look for something to seem nonthreatening, but what I’m actually doing is pulling the large canister of Mace I keep in my purse out of the plastic sandwich bag in which I store it should it accidentally go off. I get it into position for easy grabbing, and set it on top of the other items. I give the aggressively manic guy a thirty second lead, then head in.

In the grocery store, a child asks his father what’s wrong with that lady, is she hurt because I’m wearing a face mask, and I want to reassure them both that I’m not showing any signs of illness, only being cautious, but I am too shy, so I move out of visual and aural range as fast as I can, not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable. After finding the items I need to make soup and the comfort snack foods my husband likes that are too salty and processed for my tastes, I use the self-checkout as usual, hoping I can avoid talking to anyone, trying to stay in my storm drain.

The machine requests an employee, even though I’ve scanned the item, placed it into the bag as requested, and I’m forced to talk to another human. I realize I forgot to take my anti-anxiety medication today, which is okay, according to my psychiatrist, because I’m on a low enough dose that there’s no physical addiction, and if I forget to take it, he tells me, that’s a good thing. It means I didn’t feel anxious enough to remember.

The employee has kind eyes and I recognize her from past visits to the store. She adjusts my scanner and screen with a code. My social anxiety subsides enough that I ask her if she noticed the scream-singing, laughing man when he came in a while ago. She tells me she sees all kinds, and he was probably in the bathroom because it happens a lot. I share that I worked five years in a convenience store and a few years in a grocery store, and I remember the unique characters, too. We share a smile over this and I pay, push my groceries to the car, and load it up.

Arriving home, I unload the groceries and spend an hour cutting vegetables and placing them into the crock pot full of broth. I hear my husband coughing from the main bedroom where he sleeps alone because he snores, and my nights in the guest room quickly became permanent years ago when I realized I’m a weepy, emotional mess if I try to exist on only a few hours of constantly disrupted sleep. I call it the Mom Cave, but really, it’s my bedroom. I sleep in a twin bed like a child, hugging a stuffed animal because I’m lonely, also like a child. My life is nothing like I imagined it would be years ago, but it’s fine. I’m safe. My storm drain is safe. I look out from inside sometimes, wishing I could trust the strangers who leave their versions of food for me, and occasionally yearn for more, but I’m protected. Again, I’m safe.

After a quick nap, I wake up and write on my laptop about my day, wondering why anyone would care about the boring minutiae shared by a human with such a truly uneventful existence.  I decide to write anyway because it’s only life, after all, and I’m aware I overthink everything.

I stop writing to pick up my son from the bus stop where the subdivision kids must wait as a group because the schools can no longer afford to drive the kids closer to their homes like they used to, and I don’t trust the mean kids to not bully my son on the walk home, because they’ve done this before. He’s very kind and doesn’t understand it when people are mean to him. I worry that cruel others will someday force my gregarious, outgoing, friendly little boy into his own version of an emotional storm drain, but that’s a worry for many other days.

When we get home, he races inside to use the bathroom because they don’t let the kids do this at school when they need to anymore, limiting them to three restroom visits per semester–something I find repulsively dystopian and disturbing. His stomach is upset every day after school from holding in waste all day, and I’m positive I was allowed to use the restroom whenever needed as a child, so this makes me very mad.

I refill the bag of cat food in my car in case I need to feed another lonely cat tomorrow, and walk inside, closing the garage door behind me.











Fuck You, Flu


I was innocently crossing the street when the Flu Truck hit me last week.


So that last babble-fest about how I took a freakishly long nap, and was still tired? Yeah, that was me being an oblivious dipshit who couldn’t remember the last time I was sick. It’s been years.

I forgot what pre-illness body aches and exhaustion feel like, so I kept blaming my inflammation and pain on my trips to the gym. Or allergies. Or life.

After the Saturday nap of 6 hours that worried the husband, I developed a little cough, a hoarse voice, a sore throat. Again, we can blame allergies. But my knees felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to them. My back hurt for no reason. I didn’t put it together.

I then decided I was fighting something off. By Friday late morning, I was running a 102-103 fever and went to the doctor, where I tested positive for an A-variety of influenza virus.


I spent Friday through Tuesday quarantined in the mom cave (i.e. my bedroom… yes, I sleep alone and I love it) hoping to not share this evil bastard with the my son or husband.

The fever was intense, and I rarely run fevers, even with pneumonia. My lungs and chest hurt, and were making those weird gurgling noises that continue after you stop exhaling, followed by crackling sounds. So gross.

The doctor gave me a refill on my mild asthma prescription because I used up my last inhaler ages ago, and an emergency “in case you’re getting a secondary lung infection” prescription. I wasn’t going to fill it unless needed because I hate taking antibiotics, but my husband was worried, so he filled it on Saturday.

He’s leaving town on business, plus Sunday was my son’s birthday, and we had plans with friends to hang out, so I was pissed off about the timing and missing out on fun stuff and oh, the mommy guilt of ruining my son’s birthday plans by catching a flu. He was sweet and understanding, but the mommy guilt is stronger than anything. The wife guilt will kick in hardcore if my husband catches this right before he leaves town, or while he’s there. Ugh.

Hydration, rest, saline nose spray (I hate it, but it works), chicken noodle soup, tea with honey and lemon juice, ibuprofen, humidifier, and now, an antibiotic that fights a spectrum of bacterial infections to prevent the pneumonia that always tries to find its way into my lungs, and more hydration, and more rest, and lots of sitting up while resting to prevent pneumonia, and more hydration, and rest–these are all the things I’ve been up to since my last writing.

I feel like a worthless slug because I’m not exercising, but I can’t even talk for longer than a sentence before I’m out of breath because my lungs aren’t giving me enough oxygen, so yeah. No workout for me. I also want to sleep all day. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt this sick and shitty, and I’ve walked around with pneumonia and worked jobs with it my whole life.

This flu is not to be fucked with, friends. It’s no joke. I feel like I’m in the two-days-past-workout phase, except permanently, and I’m not working out right now. Achy and hurty and exhausted. Do not like.

I would write more, but I waited too long to write today, and have to go pick up my kid from school because the bus is “too loud.” I’m rolling my eyes, too, but he recorded the sound of his bus for me and I was horrified. He came home with a migraine because the kids were all shouting “WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT?!” over and over again, like for 10 minutes straight. I still don’t understand how the bus driver could drive through that, but they have ALL of my sympathy.

So my dream of being able to take naps has been squashed by having to sit in the hellish car rider pickup line once again, and instead of being the lady who has dinner ready and is able to get through an evening without falling asleep, I’m always tired. But you know. I signed up for this shit. Whining doesn’t change a thing.

Sometimes it makes me feel just a teeny bit better though, so deal with it.

This is kind of my place to whine, actually, seeing how I have no real life friends who want to listen (don’t blame them) and am fairly isolated from other adult humans most days. So here I whine.

Speaking of whine, I miss wine. All I can drink (read: handle because I’m a lightweight) is red wine, and it’s now been weeks. I miss it.

Anyhow. Flu. There are some nasty ones going around. Stay out of public if you can, pals. Stay healthy. Be well. May the force be with you. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Don’t spit into the wind. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Out of sight, out of mind. More sayings. Stuff. I like pizza.




To Sleep, Perchance to Sleep Some More


I woke up like this.


Yesterday, I decided to take an afternoon nap, like I do on the weekends. I don’t get them during the week, so if you offer me a Saturday nap, I’m all over that shit.

My husband woke me at 8:30 p.m. because he was checking to make sure I was still alive. No joke. I freaked him out, and he was just going to check to see if I was breathing, but I woke up. Quietly startled. Uncertain as to where I was or the day, I was completely confused and disoriented. I’d been asleep nearly 6 hours.

He kept apologizing, and stressing that he was genuinely worried about my wellbeing. I told him it was good he’d woken me up–I might have slept until 2 a.m. and woken up completely freaked out otherwise.

I guess I was tired. I got up, ate a late dinner, and after we watched some television, fell back asleep at 1 a.m. I even slept in until 6:45 this morning, which yes, is “sleeping in” for me.

I wake at or before 5:45 every morning, unless anxiety wakes me earlier. I have a freaky-accurate internal clock. I can set it if I look at the time before falling asleep, and then telling myself the time at which I need to get up in the morning. I usually wake up a few minutes before the alarm goes off.

You may be calling bullshit right now, but my biological father once told me he does the same thing. I have also freaked out my husband on many occasions by sitting up in bed right before the alarm is set to go off. He’s even described this as “creepy.” I have never needed an alarm clock to rise for school or work.

My favorite time of day is spent in the early, still-dark morning when everyone else is asleep, drinking coffee in silence. I love the feeling of a day filled with endless possibilities stretched ahead. If you asked me to define hope, my answer would found in the dawn of any given day.

But I annoy people by being too chatty or cheerful in the morning, so I’ve learned to be quiet. Shut up. Hold in the precious early optimism I’ll possess before something or someone strips it away. I’ve had too many non-morning people snap at me (cue my 5 a.m. shift grocery store coworkers: “Why are you always so fucking happy in the mornings?!”) and it hurts my feelings.


Ahem. Anyhow… so yeah, I’m pretty well-attuned to my lizard brain. My instincts are good, and at some point in my late 20s I finally figured out that listening to the little voice inside my head (or gut, as it were) is always the right thing to do.

This may seem obvious to most people, but for women, at least, I can tell you we spend our lives being treated like hysterical, overly-emotional woodland creatures who’ve ventured too far out of the nice, safe forest if we sense and/or react to threat. Unsurprisingly, the wolves are usually doing the talking in this scenario.

I was depressed by the fact that 74% of Gavin DeBecker’s excellent book The Gift of Fear is spent desperately trying to convince women that not only should we listen to and follow our instincts, it’s okay to place boundaries, and also to go on the offensive if we feel threatened.

Not defensive–offensive. If someone wants to hurt you (and if they’re threatening you, they’ve already made that decision), it’s not only okay to fight back, it’s probably the difference between survival or not. And if you must fight, then fight to kill if necessary–because anyone attacking you has every intention of doing the same. There’s no version of attacking a woman in which the perpetrator is planning to be gentle, so don’t hold back.

I already understood this from a young age, and have the PTSD-related abnormal response to threat to show for it, so I read the book impatiently, thinking, “Yes, I get it. Don’t worry–years of rage tamped down inside of me–not afraid to fight back. In fact, give me an excuse, motherfuckers. Now tell me HOW TO DO IT, Gavin DeBecker.” I wanted self-defense techniques. (They finally happen in the last quarter of the book.)

We are trained our whole lives to be nice, nurturing, give everyone the benefit of the doubt; and if we don’t allow those who want to harm us the chance to do so before we can stop them, we’re treated like monsters. Called bitches for placing boundaries. Told not to flatter ourselves by the gaslighting assholes who walk among us when we let them know they’re being inappropriate. It’s infuriating.

I’ve been working on a piece I’ll share here soon about real life examples of sneaky, disguised-as-friendly-banter crossing of boundaries, because I recently had the not shocking to any women anywhere at all experience of 3 versions of this spread out over less than 24 hours. I think it’s a slippery slope, and an area many women, myself included, often forget to include under the sexual harassment umbrella because it’s so subtle.

So yeah, I slept almost 12 hours in the last 20, and I’m about to go take another nap. Because people are wearing me the fuck out. Life is wearing me the fuck out.

I just want people to be cool. Just be cool. Stop being creepy, or pushing boundaries, or being inappropriate under the guise of friendship so you can’t be properly called out for it because you’re a fucking pussy.

Honestly, I’d rather a guy be openly, blatantly creepy than pretend to be my “buddy” while peppering conversations with things they wouldn’t say in front of my (or their) significant other.

So yeah, I’m tired.

I think we all are.




I’ve Been Riding the Naughty Train


This was the least disturbing image that came up when I Creative Commons image searched the word naughty. I don’t know what’s naughty about a rusty old train, but it is an apt metaphor for my brain, so I’m keeping it. Also, never Google image search the word naughty. Just trust me on this one.


Great. I typed “naughty” too many times, and now it looks weird. Ever do that? Try it with the word “word” for a completely meta “that word looks weird” experience.

Hi. I haven’t written like I promised. Just me and eleventy bazillion other bloggers out there making empty promises to nobody reading our crap to write every day. Don’t mind me over here being so original. And naughty. Ugh. There’s that icky word again. Now I hate it a little.

I had a good excuse for the day after the day after New Year’s Eve, and that excuse is that I’m too old to stay up chugging wine and champagne until 3 in the morning without it kicking my ass for 2 days afterwards. I was still exhausted the next day. I took a 5 hour nap that day, got up, ate something, then back to bed. Totally wiped.

The next day the kiddo went back to school, and I literally drive past the entrance to the gym on my way home, so there’s no escaping the guilt of driving past. Plus, I genuinely like the way it feels to lift and push heavy things around. Always have. So I have worked out every single morning, no exceptions, since the end of winter break.

I do strength training on favorite machines, and then at least 1 mile on the treadmill. Sometimes I come home and do a cheesy DVD that offers a really great ab/core and chest/arm free weight workout.

But really, exercise helps my brain. I feel less anxious and/or depressed if I exercise. I also feel less anxious/depressed if I take Xanax. So I do both.

It’s a living.

I’m presently trapped in my living room on the couch with a cat on my legs. My mouth is dry and I’m rapidly dehydrating. I’ve been here for hours and I want to get up, but my cat is apparently cold, so instead of getting a drink, my family will eventually find my dried skeletal remains under a burned-out laptop. The cat will be asleep, and somehow still very warm. My husband thinks she would eat my fingers first, but my money’s on the eyes.

Always on the eyes.

So my excuse for not writing every day is life. I committed to writing daily, and then watched as my body betrayed me by needing extra sleep, as I decided to prioritize my physical health over writing. I seem to be either too busy or too tired to feel like it. I’m still going to try, but it’s been an interesting revelation, watching my daily writing goal clash directly with my energy levels.

I’m diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and extremely, dangerously low levels of vitamin D, which I discovered after blood work and a visit with an endocrinologist last year. My life had devolved into a haze of barely-living exhausted moments broken into chunks by what I called “death naps,” because I woke after 2-3 hours wondering what day it was, where I was, and if I’d been drugged. They were in no way the rejuvenating and delightful naps we adult humans know and love. It felt like I was living with a low-grade flu virus all of the time.

My blood work was great except:

*My thyroid had shit the bed.

So… no metabolism! Girls love having no metabolism in a country with completely unrealistic beauty ideals that render us invisible with 20 extra pounds on our bodies! I’m worthless and don’t matter to men! This is awesome!

*My vitamin D blood number, which they prefer to be 30 or higher, ideally closer to 50, was 12.

That’s right. I basically had rickets. I’m allergic to dairy and have had basal cell carcinomas burned/cut off, so no sun for me. This means I’m supposed to be supplementing with vitamin D, but I wasn’t, so extreme deficiency.

I did some research and learned that the vitamin D deficiency had as much to do with my crazy exhaustion as the low TSH (thyroid hormone) levels. The doctor got me on a prescription for both, and I immediately had more energy.

But I’m wondering if they’ve stopped working because my body adjusted last year to them and they had to be upped. Then blood work again. Then the doc said we were cool, see you in a year.

And over that year, I’ve gone through good phases and exhausted phases. I’m getting my yearly blood work at the end of this month, so we’ll see if maybe the meds need bumping up or something.

Or maybe this is just getting older. Or allergies. We like to blame everything on allergies where I live. That’s a fun game. No, it’s not the avian flu, IT’S ALLERGIES.

The phone alarm I have set to remind me to pick up my kid from school is going off, so this is the end of my extremely important and fascinating typed transmission for today. I’m sure you’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next batch of writing from your favorite flaky liar.

Hey, at least the phone alarm just scared the cat off my legs. I’m free! I’m bleeding from where her claws dug into my legs, but I’m free!

Off to sit in the car rider pickup line, which is a level of hell Dante forgot and a whole other piece of writing (seriously… car rider line etiquette, people… learn it, love it, and then fucking LIVE it).

Happy whatever the hell you want to be happy, Imaginary Reader.










Happy New My Brain Hurts



The above image is an accurate representation of how I spent New Year’s Eve, so I won’t be writing much tonight. Last night, I poured far too much champagne into my mouth hole, and I’m a tired, tired lady.

But it was worth it because I really like champagne, had a lot of fun, and got to hang out with adult humans who don’t want to talk about Minecraft all of the time. There may have been middle-aged people dancing.

I rang in the New Year feeling very happy, and this bodes well. The old saying is that whatever you’re doing on New Year’s Eve represents what you’ll be doing all year, so I guess I’ll be spending 2018 cheerfully drunk and dancing to songs most people currently attending college wouldn’t recognize. Cool cool cool.

I went to bed after 3 a.m. and honestly can’t remember the last time I stayed up that late. I even managed to sleep in a bit past 9 a.m. and can’t remember the last time I did that either. I do remember the events of the entire night, and made a point of chugging constant water between alcoholic beverages, so I’ve got that going for me, which makes me feel like less of a worthless piece of shit.

I spent the day drinking water, more water, Vitamin Water for electrolytes, eating ibuprofen, and also anything that couldn’t outrun me placed upon on soothingly bland Carr’s water crackers. (Saltines are too salty for me, but you have to give them points for truth in advertising, right? It’s like naming a drink Liquidy or Wetness.)

I was going to be cliché and write about my plans and resolutions for the New Year because I am totally here for that tabula rasa shit and all things fresh start, but I’m too exhausted to do it justice, so I’ll have to be trite and predictable tomorrow. Try to contain yourself, Imaginary Reader.

A promise to write something every day was made, and I’m going to do my best, regardless of how little I have to say.

So, hi. I’m writing. This counts as something. Hi.

I’ll end with a cheesy selfie, below, that I took last night before I got all drunk and sweaty, because I always try to take a few selfies when I actually bother to wear makeup or do something with my hair.



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Last night I looked ready to get into trouble… but today I’m ready to get into bed.




The Best Year


I was playing guitar and singing backing vocals in an all-girl grungy pop-rock band in Warrensburg, Missouri, where we all attended college.

I never fit into the band.

The other three girls were smokers who liked junk food, staying up late drinking beer, and sleeping in.

I was a non-smoking natural early-riser who liked to run to the gym in the mornings, lift weights for an hour or so, and ate healthfully. I was so very not rock and roll.

One night, I let the girls talk me into coming with them to a local bar. This was before indoor cigarettes were banned, so the air was gross and my eyes were burning. I halfheartedly had a beer and left amid protests and playful mockery.

I felt like a loser for not wanting to hang with my band-mates, but smoky bars just weren’t my scene. And no matter how late I stay up, I wake at the crack of sparrow fart, so late nights mean painful mornings. I still do this. Naps are my friends. (Yes, naps, plural. I love every single one of those beautiful little bastards.)

I lived within a mile or so of the downtown area, so I walked home in the dark, alone. This was probably not the best idea, as despite being a 5’8″/5’9″/tallish girl I weighed about 110-115 at the time. I would have been easier to abduct then than I would be now. (Did I just find a bright side to gaining weight with age? Fuck YEAH, I did. Less abduct-able! You’re welcome, everybody.)

I was looking at the stars, like I do, and the moon was shining brightly enough to light the sidewalks. I wasn’t afraid for my personal safety, but I felt trepidation about the future. The band and I didn’t make it, and I think this was an early moment of clarity for me, realizing that our group wasn’t a personality or lifestyle match.

Bands are like having a relationship with all of the people in them, in case you’ve never experienced the phenomenon. It’s like asexually dating a group of people, and if there are personality conflicts, the whole group suffers. Very odd and potentially uncomfortable situation.

I liked the music we were making and was enjoying the creative outlet immensely, but all of the girls came from money and were being supported by their parents, and I’d been on my own since barely 17. We had very different worldviews and coping mechanisms. I didn’t understand their easy existences, and they didn’t understand my neuroses.

You grow into a very different person when you have no parachute to pull on should you suddenly fall down out of the sky.

I didn’t fit in. And you know, honestly–I never do–so this wasn’t surprising. But as I walked home, I looked up at the big, glowing moon and the galaxy of stars, and silently asked the universe (or my guardian angels or whatever I liked to pretend was watching over me at the time to feel less alone) what I was supposed to be doing. What should my next move be?

I wrote the song below in my head as I walked. Upon arriving home, I immediately scribbled down the words, and found the guitar chords via vocal melody line.

Later, my boyfriend, who was a talented recording engineer, was kind enough to immortalize it for me. I’m so grateful for this, still. Having your song recorded is like possessing an auditory snapshot from your life that will never disappear or fade away.

I like to share this song on New Year’s Day because it reminds me that I was once a hopeful 20-something with possibilities, and a seemingly endless future ahead. We don’t get to feel that way our entire lives–opportunities stolen or lost fill in the cracks, escape hatches close, and paths are taken that can’t be undone–so it’s a bittersweet remembrance.

But we have smaller versions of these large choices throughout our lives, regardless of age. It’s important to remember every year we still have futures, possibilities, and opportunities, and paths to walk, even if they don’t loom quite so long and uncertainly ahead of us anymore.

I hope your New Year is the best year you’ve ever had in your whole life.


Look at my confused-yet-optimistic 20s represented lyrically below, you guys. Awwww.

I asked the moon tonight for the answers that the stars won’t give me. She said there’s nothing left that I don’t know that she could teach me. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I know that I can answer my own questions if I only look inside. Sometimes I see the angels protecting me in the corner of my eye. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. So now I look up to the sky and everything is clear. It’s like the light from all the stars has burned away the fear. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I tried.


The Old Grey Matter, She Ain’t What She Used to Be



Hello, Imaginary Reader.

You may have noticed I forgot to write yesterday. That’s right. Forgot.

Not only did I forget, but I even got on the laptop, which I don’t really do as often as I used to now that I can watch the world implode in real time on my small rectangle of doom.

Not only did I forget, and get on my laptop, but while I was on the laptop, my son said, “Don’t forget to write, Mom. You promised yourself every day.” Yet I still forgot.

Jesus. My brain fog has brain fog.

I got sucked into Facebook, dicked around there for too long (LIKE I DO), and decided a nap sounded good. Then a shower. Then dinner at closest, dearest friend’s who conveniently also happens to be our next door neighbor. Then a backyard fire pit and some red wine happened.

I had no idea ten years ago I’d become a fire and red wine girl, but here I am. That’s pretty much a perfect night for me at this point. Absolutely loving the fire pit nights. There’s something so primal and soothing about sitting around a fire in the dark instead of staring at a screen. I mean, we have music playing on a little speaker, and occasionally we each take a moment to look at a phone message, but for the most part, it’s as close to “old school” hang-out time as a person can get nowadays without going completely off the grid.

I like it.

I like off the grid. I like alone. But I do I get lonely because I’m isolated and know very few adult people. I have never talked to myself as much as I do now, and I’m pretty sure this is a sign I’m reaching new and not exciting levels of loneliness. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy my conversations. I get a little tired of the lack of spontaneity, however. My answers are so predictable.

So the fire pit nights are giving me life, as the kids say. Even as a total introvert, I recognize I currently desperately need more adult conversation in my life.

I am a non-church-going liberal-minded person, if liberal-minded is interpreted as believing all people deserve the same human rights, that kindness and empathy for others is good, but also, that if you can work for a living and be a productive member of society, you should do so, rather than sponging off everybody else.

But I am unfortunately located in a state where people are very conservative, if conservative is interpreted as only caring about your piece of the pie, lacking compassion for others, and negatively, hypocritically judging people you assume don’t follow the same moral tenets you claim to believe in–yet don’t emulate or demonstrate within many realms of your existence–simply because they don’t go stand in the same crowded influenza room with you once a week to eat Jesus crackers.

Short version: The first question I’m always asked by another mom since moving here has been, “Which church do you go to?” to which I reply, “I haven’t found one I like yet.” This isn’t technically a lie. It’s mostly a really polite way to say: “I don’t go to church, but hey, if it makes you happy, I want you to have it. To each his or her own.”

And then they try to get me to join their church, or write me off as a human. Or both. The end.

Yay, people!

My son suffers because of this, and it pisses me off. Religion and spirituality are very personal, and the way people here use it as a conversational opener is nothing short of bizarre and rude. You might as well ask me how much my family makes per year. Want to talk about how and when I lost my virginity, too?*

People in my neighborhood with kids have also pulled the “drop-by unannounced” maneuver more times than I can count, which has made me pull away from all attempts at friendship. It fucking freaks me out. My house is my safe space. Do not invade my safe space with your children on a whim because little Connor or Raegan got bored and you’ve decided my child is the solution, thanks.

Am I the only one who understands how rude this is? I may curse like a Quentin Tarantino film character, and prefer to relax at home on Sundays–but I won’t ever pop by your house without calling and setting up a mutually agreed-upon time.


I’m feeling a bit grumpy. Sorry. I’d normally call it hormones or allergies because those are the easiest go-to ailments to blame for shitty behavior we don’t want to own, but this time I’m griping and feeling a bit dark inside because a close family member has cancer.

Fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer. Seriously. Cancer, if you’re reading this, go fuck yourself with every metal rod in the world and all the shovels and rakes and every other painfully hard and too-large thing I can think of off the top of my foggy brain. Fuck yourself hard and long, and then walk of shame your sorry ass right back to the depths of hell from whence you came because I’m sick and fucking tired of you coming for so many good people I love.

It’s affecting the person with the cancer, obviously. He’s hurting and I hate it. I want to make it go away and I can’t and this is some bullshit. It’s affecting all of the other people who love him because they also want to fix it, but cancer runs the show. You can’t control a damned thing when it comes to cancer, nor can you predict a damned thing–it can literally go in any direction very fast, very slow, or anything in the middle. Everything is a question mark that starts with the Big C right now, and it’s the shittiest purgatory ever. Dante forgot a level.

So there’s that.


A commercial on television in the next room just used the exclamation “Voila!” except the actress pronounced it as “Wa-la!” and I’m pretty sure the person who story-boarded the dialogue probably wrote it as “Walla!” which is a huge pet peeve of mine. So that’s bugging me now.

See? Grumpy.

I should probably go to bed.

Before I go, here’s an animal nerd fact pulled from my childhood spent reading animal encyclopedias for fun:

The horse in the picture at the top of this rambling mess is technically grey/gray (I prefer the “grey” spelling; both are accepted as correct), even though it looks white. The only horses officially considered white are albinos. See the dark eyes and dark muzzle coloration on the otherwise white horse in the picture? That classifies it as a grey horse.

Stop being so fascinated, damn it. At least I kept my promise and wrote something today.

Goodnight, Imaginary Reader.



*Actually I love talking about sex stuff. I lost it on a bunch of pillows on the floor of the bedroom of the guy I had a mad crush on all through high school who was voted “Most Attractive” by his classmates, age 14. I started kindergarten at 4, so I was a really young freshman and he was a senior–don’t be freaked out. I got my period and boobs at 11 and looked like a woman at 14. Full consent. Also, it hurt really badly and I bled everywhere. Sleep well!





Nobody Here But Us Chickens



Hi, person I imagine reading this. Imaginary Reader. Stephen King calls his fans Constant Reader (a tribute to Dorothy Parker, perhaps?), so I’m going with Imaginary Reader, because he’s Stephen King, and I’m some weird lady living in the Great Plains of America nobody has ever heard of, currently babbling on the internet. Seems appropriate.

I feel the need to apologize, Imaginary Reader, for I have been remiss. I maintain and pay a small fee for this site, yet I stopped updating it at some point. I have not felt like writing here, or occasionally have felt like it, but haven’t been able to move from the “I kind of feel like like doing this” to the “actually doing this” part for a long time. This disconnect has become a constant source of frustration for me, and I’m trying to do something about it.

I went from writing multiple articles a day for an online company for very decent money, to going down a deep, dark rabbit hole when my mom was fighting Stage 4 cancer. I got out of the writing habit, and never managed to come back from it.

In addition to anxiety, depression, and hypothyroidism (which renders one’s metabolism null and void, making one feel like one has a low-grade flu that never ends, with the “one” in this scenario being ME), I have also developed a frustrating case of the “Why should anybody give a shit what I think?”s that has been keeping me from writing.

My last entry was so emo I cringed re-reading it. Ugh. No, actually, scratch that. I mocked myself in my head for a little while, made poor widdle baby pouty faces at myself, and then I cringed. Poor you and your First World problems, Tawni. Poor you. Your life is so hard. Would you like some French cries with your wahhhmburger?

See how mean I am to me? I don’t feel that way when other people write. I like reading other people’s thoughts. I enjoy their writings, emo or otherwise, so I don’t understand why I’m harder on myself than I am on anyone in the whole wide world. I wish I could figure out how to knock that shit off, because it’s really harshing my mellow, Imaginary Reader.

But are middle-aged people even allowed to be emo? (Bonus: You can tell I’m middle-aged because I’m using the word “emo.”) I once knew a woman 5+ years older than me on Facebook who used to constantly post vague-bookish statuses that read like the pubescent poetry section from Seventeen Magazine, and I always thought upon reading them, Please don’t let me ever be the middle-aged lady posting emo statuses.

So I’ll do it here instead! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! *sobs*

As a person I enjoy recently said on Twitter:

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(Follow @MollySneed. She’s funny. You like funny.)

Because seriously. This site/blog feels so Dear Diary-ish and lame to me sometimes, and I get embarrassed and insecure. I used to just fucking write. I’d just shit the words out of my brain via keyboard and not worry about it. But now I do. I worry. I feel uncomfortable right now. And scared. I hate this.

I don’t know when or why I became self-conscious, but here it is, and it’s really starting to piss me off, so I’m writing, damn it. And I’m not going to take it down. I’M NOT.

I have never in my life cared what anyone thought of my creative output, and it’s stupid for me to start now. I’m getting back up on that old inner horse named FuckThem that I used to ride onto a stage when I played guitar and sang in bands. When I was the misfit kid in high school voted “Most Revolutionary” at the end of senior year. When I used to write a dumb piece like this, and post it, and move on. I am creative for me, and nobody else. That’s how creativity works, damn it. So away we go, FuckThem. Off into the motherfucking sunset with us, old girl.

Oh, I’m not worrying about cursing anymore either. Did I mention that? I kind of tried to clean things up around here for a while, and it felt weird. False. I am not for polite company. Deal with it. Or don’t… no hard feelings. But I’m sassy. And I like my sass.

I recently got a bit too drunk after a wine tasting, because I have the alcohol/medication/drug tolerance of an 11-year-old girl (natural redhead), and I didn’t remember what I said the next day. I was horrified by this. I hate feeling out of control. Hate hate hate it.

When asked how I behaved whilst off my tits, which is always a not-humiliating-at-all question for a middle-aged woman to ask of the person who tucked her drunken ass into bed the night before, my husband said, “You seemed happy, funny, and every other word out of your mouth was ‘fuck’ or ‘fucking.'”

I was mortified at first. But then I thought about it, and I don’t know if my true self is happy or funny, but it sure as fuck has a potty mouth. So back to the docks with me.


I used to write songs for years in a city where my guy musician friends would tell me about how other guy musicians made fun of me and my simple little pop rock songs.

But I didn’t know how to write any other way, and most importantly, I wasn’t writing music for anyone else–I was getting things off my soul, and writing for me–so I didn’t care. I honestly didn’t. The songwriting was cathartic and came from my heart, and as long as I was being true to myself, I was proud of what I did. The end. No shame in the earnest game, man.

So I need to find that version of me again. To attempt this, I’m forcing myself to write every day.

No, wait. Not forcing. That makes me psychologically balk. I have a bad habit of doing the opposite when told what I’m going to do, so let me put it differently; I’m challenging myself to write daily. Yes, that’s better. Challenging. A competition with me. (It’s me versus me! Only one can win! Go… me!)

I may write fiction. I may write old-timey Seventeen Magazine puberty poetry. I may write interesting facts about a topic of interest. (Nerd alert: I absolutely love researching and writing about things that fascinate me.) I might review a book I’ve read recently. Open letters are a favorite. Lists are fun. I might share a song I wrote in my younger days and tell you the story behind it like a boring old aunt reliving her glory days. I could even use a random writing prompt of some sort and go all stream-of-consciousness on your ass. But I’m going to write something here every day. Because I need to get back into the daily writing habit and find the self-discipline I’ve lost.

Please bear with me while I bare with me, Imaginary Reader.

(See what I did there?)

(Sorry. I’ll try harder.)

(That’s what she said.)

(Help. I’m addicted to parentheses.)

(I don’t know how to end this.)

(I know! Here’s a picture of a chicken who’s tired of my shit. Perfect.)


World weary, wrinkly, and full of eggs. I know how you feel, side-eye chicken. I know.



Hold Your Own Hand: A Bedtime Story


I’ve felt alone for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t matter how many humans are around, whether I’ve excused myself from the crowd, have a close interpersonal relationship, or not; I am always alone. One hundred people or zero, it feels the same. Rather than a physical manifestation, it’s more a state of mind.

Different, odd, strange–call me what you like–I have existed as an outsider my entire life, sometimes looking in, sometimes feeling trapped and looking out, sometimes not looking at all, but always alone.

It is often said that we are born alone and we die alone, but for some strange reason, people who say that leave out the middle. Perhaps it’s too painful to face the truth. Because the truth is, we’re alone for the middle, as well.

Some fill their time with activities, and their lives with people; surrounding themselves with things they believe to be the opposite of alone to numb the sensation of solitude.

Some stay in relationships that don’t make them happy to avoid loneliness, never realizing that feeling lonely in a relationship is the most painful kind of lonely there is.

I felt alone as a child, during my teenage years, during my young adulthood, and the feeling remains as I enter middle age. I thought by now I might have shaken it, that I might have discovered the secret to finally shedding the cloak over my soul that seems to be keeping me at a distance, but it never happens.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels alone. I also recognize the glorious absurdity of wondering if I’m alone in my feelings of feeling alone.

As a little kid, I would sometimes clasp together my hands while feeling scared in bed at night, pretending someone else was holding my hand, because it (falsely) made me feel safe.

But as pathetic as that sounds, there’s beauty and truth in holding one’s own hand.

Beauty, because even when truth may look ugly on the surface, it’s real and pure inside, and that’s beautiful.

Truth, because even when a different person is holding your hand, you can still feel lonely–you can still be alone.

I sleep alone every night now. I somewhat sheepishly admit to occasionally holding my own hand to self-soothe, but more often, I pretend someone is hugging me as I fall asleep. It helps me fall asleep faster because I pretend I’m safe. I pretend I’m not alone.

I pretend.

We all pretend.

Sleep well.