My American Dream Dies Here

It was a good dream. In this dream, I owned a small, modest house in a quiet town. I sat beneath a tree and sipped hot cocoa under the stars. I worked hard as a teacher and served my students well. I paid my bills on time. I helped my neighbors. I pulled on rainContinue reading “My American Dream Dies Here”

Healing Trauma Through, Well, Clothes

Sometimes you’ve known something all along but just didn’t understand it. I’ve always told myself I hate clothes. I dress from a place of frustration and even resentment. I hate shopping for clothes. I hate trying on clothes. I hate buying clothes. I hate wearing clothes. And because my body has so often felt unsafeContinue reading “Healing Trauma Through, Well, Clothes”

Nine Signs You Have a Bad Doctor: What I Wish I’d Known

As my husband and I learned this February, having a bad doctor can be deadly. First, before we get in too deep, I just want to acknowledge that no doctor is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and tragically, even a mistake made in good faith, with the best medical practice, can still result in death. SomeContinue reading “Nine Signs You Have a Bad Doctor: What I Wish I’d Known”

I’m Still Not Here

At 14, I read the entire Bible, front to back. When I attended sleepovers, other kids brought plastic clamshells of eye shadow or bottles of nail polish, clattering in their backpacks like marbles. I brought my leather-bound Bible. I was always the last to fall asleep. As my friends dropped off into unconsciousness and heavyContinue reading “I’m Still Not Here”

The First Steps of Exposure Therapy

The men who attacked me were trying to make me small. They wanted to keep me quiet. I was a reminder to them that strength knows no gender, and neither does intelligence. Regardless of their race, orientation, age, and class, they all shared a contempt for women. They resented any woman they perceived as “withholding”Continue reading “The First Steps of Exposure Therapy”

Four Reasons to Take a Pandemic Vacation

So here’s the thing. I need a vacation. You probably do, too. But we all know there’s no such thing as a vacation from health problems. Whether it’s chronic migraines, PTSD, or any other long-term health challenge, there’s no getting away from it. Wherever we go, there it is. The pandemic can make a vacationContinue reading “Four Reasons to Take a Pandemic Vacation”

Exposure Therapy

I was an exposure therapy skeptic. What I knew of exposure therapy came from abusers. More than one had justified their abuse by claiming it was helping me “face my fears” or “making me tougher.” This is nonsense. Such inhumane behavior will only make someone’s fear less manageable, even potentially debilitating. Research shows fear andContinue reading “Exposure Therapy”

Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy

Impact statements have revealed the many self-defeating, destructive lessons that sexual assault taught me. In the ten years between 16 and 26, I survived four sexual assaults. The assailants were a high school classmate, a man ten years older than I was who hired me as his English tutor, and my own father. At 20,Continue reading “Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy”

Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter

When I began my Accessible MFA last fall, I had two reasons. First, chronic migraines limit my functionality to the point that sometimes I can’t work for days, weeks, or even months. Keeping up with graduate-level coursework and meeting weekly deadlines is no longer possible. Second, I can’t afford it. With the struggle to workContinue reading “Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter”

Trauma Stuck Points

Between my twelfth and thirteenth birthdays, I became a different person. At 12, I was still skipping down the corridors at school, shouting jokes to friends. I was the kid who helped new students adjust. Who tutored classmates when they fell behind in spelling. I was generous, boisterous, and fun-loving. I was also boastful, cocksure.Continue reading “Trauma Stuck Points”