A Beautiful Poem

I wanted to share This poem © Gabriel Gadfly (http://gabrielgadfly.com):

Survival

The first time
you took off your clothes
in front of me, you slid
the white fabric of your blouse
off your arms and revealed
the pale ladders
of scars.

You never referenced them
directly. You said you were
lost, once. You said you
did things, once, and you
did them because they
helped you survive yourself.

I didn’t say anything,
but you took my hand
and pressed it to the
ridged rows of your flesh
and for every line you left
upon yourself and healed,
I found another reason
to call you beautiful.

My only comment is this poem resonated so much with me and reading it was like peering into my ideal world; this is how I would like to be viewed.

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The Lens I See Through

When you’ve been assaulted, the whole world as you know it changes. The lens through which you see the world changes and the innocence you previously cultivated was all for nothing. Before, when I would walk around the streets, go out to the bars, or interact with men I didn’t know in public, I did not think twice about the quality of their character. But after, I could not scrutinize more and this is the habit I maintain today.

I pick up on subtleties and when the #yesallwomen posts came out, I could certainly relate and if you’re a woman who’s had a trauma at the hands of a man (which is statistically likely), you are shockingly all too familiar with your vulnerability at the hand of gender relations. You know the fear you experience when you walk down a street at night. I always position my keys in-between my fingers, a makeshift weapon. The fact that my relatives got me pepper spray amongst the ramen noodles and bath towels for my “Congratulations You’re Going to College” care package is telling. It’s especially telling when you realize that pepper spray is in no way meant to protect against other women; everybody knows it’s to protect against an attack from a man. Yet, what I find most disturbing about bringing these gender issues into the light is that the more I think about it, the more alarming example I can come up with, the more insidious examples I can recall.

Men are not all brutes and yes, not all men are misogynists, but all men can help to change the ingrained gender inequalities of experience. In fact, some of the instances of men behaving disrespectfully towards women come from otherwise kind and educated men. It’s an awareness, ignorance, and respect issue with them. You do not have to know what it is to be a woman to treat women with respect and I believe just as the gender issues cripple women in their relationships, their walks to their cars, and their careers among other issues, they also cripple men in their ability to cope with their emotions and be more intentional and analytical about their interactions. In order for any of this to change, men have to treat themselves and each other better and I don’t believe enough people are talking about this dimension of it.

We have to teach men that their worth is not determined by sexual exploits, othering women, or financial status and that it makes them more of a man to understand their emotions and respect women. While women are othered because of their gender difference from men, I believe men who speak out against these dynamics are othered by their own gender. And the issues persist because it is human nature to want to fit in and is uncomfortable to be othered.

I feel othered by virtue of my awareness. My world flipped upside down and I have no option to go back to the way life was before; my lens changed. I cannot see the world with such innocence ever again and sometimes I think about the blissful ignorance I maintained so well in my youth and if I would want it back, but I don’t because I believe in progress. So when I have a man over to my apartment and he asks to stay, I fight the urge to apologize when I say no, because I have no obligation to have him stay over and therefore nothing to apologize for. When he asks again, despite my earlier refusal and explanation, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. He is no longer an educated man I enjoy spending time with, but another man living in ignorance of the gender dynamics we all live with.

Even though I believe much needs to change, the painful reality is that I rarely meet a man who does not need to check his gender privilege and that leaves me frustrated, distrustful, and alone much of the time. My disillusionment with gender relations leads to exacerbation of depression and when I interact with men, I have an underlying anxiety about how they will behave and what they will say. I wonder if gender relations improved if my mental health issues would as well, but in the meantime, I cannot ignore the inequalities and objectification. It is not an option for me anymore.

A Collection of Quotes

I’m going to simply post quotes in this entry that I find relevant to mental health issues and that, through reading and reflecting on, are helpful to my state of mind.

“To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”-Jeanette Winterson

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.”-C.G. Yung

“We must be trained to clarify minds, heal broken hearts, and create homes where sunshine will make an environment in which mental and spiritual health may be nurtured. Our schooling must not only teach us how to bridge the Niagara River gorge, or the Golden Gate, but must teach us how to bridge the deep gaps of misunderstanding and hate and discord in the world.-Spencer Kimball

“It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative–which ever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.”-Sylvia Plath

“In older myths, the dark road leads downward into the Underworld, where Persephone is carried off by Hades, much against her will, while Ishtar descends of her own accord to beat at the gates of Hell. This road of darkness lies to the West, according to Native American myth, and each of us must travel it at some point in our lives. The western road is one of trials, ordeals, disasters and abrupt life changes — yet a road to be honored, nevertheless, as the road on which wisdom is gained. James Hillman, whose theory of ‘archetypal psychology’ draws extensively on Greco–Roman myth, echoes this belief when he argues that darkness is vital at certain periods of life, questioning our modern tendency to equate mental health with happiness. It is in the Underworld, he reminds us, that seeds germinate and prepare for spring. Myths of descent and rebirth connect the soul’s cycles to those of nature.”-Terri Windling

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”-Oscar Wilde

“But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”-Haruki Murakami

“When you’re surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.”-Fiona Apple

“I didn’t want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.”-Sylvia Plath

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”-Rainer Maria Rilke

“Everybody pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”-Claude Monet

“Mental illness is so much more complicated than any pill that any mortal could invent.”-Elizabeth Wurtzel

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”-Plutarch

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”-Henry David Thoreau

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”-Khalil Gibran

“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”-Alan Watts

“I was lost in a void of perpetual darkness. Disconnected from myself. Turned inside out. No sign of life. Eventually, the darkness was my light and the void a haven – a quiet place where I could nurse my secret and lick my wounds.”-B.G. Bowers

“My good fortune is not that I’ve recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.”-Elyn R. Saks