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perkreations

Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

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Is This Enough for #Metoo?

When the #metoo movement began in order to raise awareness about how many women and men have experienced sexual harassment or assault I debated whether or not to include myself. How much sexual harassment is enough? How much sexual assault is enough? Does sexual humiliation count?

Perhaps these blurry grey areas are part of the problem. I suppose I have several stories but this one keeps coming to mind. You can decide if it’s enough, if I can say, “#Metoo”.

Long before the age of cell phones and texting, when I was about 19, I headed to a bar downtown with a couple of girlfriends. While they kicked up their heals on the packed dance floor I was on the sidelines avoiding the crowd and allowing myself to be chatted up by an older guy in his late 20s.

I felt witty and pretty and bright as we laughed together and talked all night. When the lights came on I couldn’t find my friends anywhere. I had no idea what to do when half an hour after close they were still AWOL.

The guy who’d been chatting me up helped me look for them. When we couldn’t find them he said he lived close by and kindly offered to let me use his phone. He even said he’d pay for my cab since I didn’t have enough cash to pay for a taxi alone.

We walked along the downtown streets, flirting all the way. Head thrown back with laughter I felt alive and attractive. He seemed kind and sincere so I let him lead the way.

We arrived at his place and his kisses kept me from calling home right away. I lost myself in his eyes and arms.

“Relax. I’ll pay your cab fare later. You can hold off on calling a while longer can’t you?”

I nodded and kissed him back, nerves fluttering deep in my chest. I really liked this guy. He laid me down on his living room floor and began tugging at my clothes. I tried to slow things down and he kept trying to speed them up.

Soon I began squirm beneath him. His weight bore down on me and the butterflys in my chest turned ice cold and I began to panic.

He suddenly pushed back from me, impatience and disgust now glowered at me where I’d so recently seen lust and longing.

“You’re a fucking virgin aren’t you?”

I nodded slowly. I was so embarrassed I wanted to sink into the floor. What had I been thinking as I’d followed him home like a lost puppy?

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

Anger sparked in his eyes, now cold and black.

“What did you think we were coming here for?”

“I… I… I couldn’t find my friends. You said I could use your phone. You said you’d pay for my cab. I thought you liked me. I thought you wanted to get to know me.”

“Whatever. Get out.”

“But I need to get home.”

“That’s your problem not mine. Get out.”

Crying now, I stuttered, “Will you still get a taxi for me? I don’t have enough money to get home.”

“I’m not paying for anything for you cock tease. Get out!”

Humiliation bubbled up and poured from my eyes, “can I at least use your phone?”

“Make it fast. Then get out.”

I called home. My parents and friends were there and relieved to hear from me. I stammered into the phone that I wanted to come home. They didn’t ask questions, just told me to take a cab and they’d pay.

As soon as the taxi was called I turned to the stranger I thought I was getting to know. He glared at me, all interest gone.

“Get out.”

“It’s 4am, I don’t feel safe waiting alone outside.”

“Too bad. Get out.”

I flowed out the door on a river of tears and waited alone, scared, tired, hurt and humiliated. I shivered and cried and wished I could just disappear.

Is this enough?

He didn’t rape me. I wasn’t brutalized.

Does this story count? Were my tears and humiliation enough?

I dodged a bullet didn’t I? Maybe I should shut up, count myself lucky? Shouldn’t I be grateful?

It’s not enough is it?

I’m not enough am I?

I can’t really say, “me too?” Can I?

K

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Ashamed of Shame & laying blame

In grade 6 I got lucky and hit puberty early. For me, puberty brought on a generous helping of acne. It was great because nobody else seemed to have acne yet and because I was so far ahead of the game I got to hear all about it from the other kids.

My grade 6 school picture shows only a bit of acne but there was a whole lot of tears and face scrubbing leading up to this.

I was already a freak because I was constantly reading giant books, writing poetry and short stories, acting in school plays, and generally not trying to fit in. I was terrible at popular indoor sports like; volley ball, soccer, and floor hockey. I was always picked last and constantly ridiculed for playing poorly no matter how hard I tried. I frequently spent the better part of gym class crying in the change room.

The addition of acne brought on some next level shit in the bullying department. I became known as; Zit Farm, Zit Face, Pimple Face and pizza face. I was accused of rubbing grease on my face and told to lay off the chocolate and French fries.

Every day I would go home with a heavy heart and hurt feelings. I just wanted to curl up and cry or go to sleep and never have to face the kids at school again. I was so ashamed of myself because of my acne and couldn’t understand why I was the only one.

My Mom was horrified that I’d developed the angry red marks all over my face.

“I just don’t understand where these zits are coming from,” she’d say.

“I never had acne when I was growing up. Why do you have it? Don’t you wash your face?”

My Dad told her gently and repeatedly that he’d had acne so it was likely due to his genes. He even apologised to me but I still felt overwhelming shame about my face and just wished I could melt away for good.

My Mom made it her mission to rid me of my acne. She bought me various facial cleansers, skin buffs and wipes and spot treatments. She had the best intentions but I felt it hard to hold back tears when she’d pull me in close on a daily basis to get a better look at my skin, ask how I thought the latest miracle cure was working, inevitably mutter that we’d have to try something else and nudge me in the direction of the bathroom with orders to, “go scrub your face.”

As puberty progressed so too did the volcanoes that pushed up through my epidermis and eroded my visage. The kids at school got meaner and my Mom grew more frantic about my affliction. There was no where for me to hide. I longed to cover all mirrors and began to keep my head down, hoping no one would see me, wishing for a safe place.

My Mom kept leveling up from the drug store, to the cosmetics counter, and finally to endless doctors appointments to try bigger, badder, stronger cleansers, creams, toners, lotions, potions and pills.

It was bad enough that I couldn’t exchange my face for another. It was bad enough the kids at school kept tormenting me. It was bad enough my Mom accused me of not scrubbing my face enough, of not caring about my skin, of being ugly. It was bad enough, it was bad enough, it was more than enough and there was no escaping my face.

Mercifully by half way through grade 7 almost everyone’s skin was as bad as mine or worse so the kids stopped teasing. I managed to find a group of friend who thought my weirdness was cool and I finally began to fit in for not fitting in. I discovered make-up and fashion and my Mom eased up.

I still get the occasional pimple but age seemed to be the cure for my acne. I’m still extreamly self conscious though and my self esteem, on a good day, hovers somewhere between crap and shit.

I assume people won’t like me or they’ll mock me or I’ll say the wrong thing. I always say the wrong thing. I’m ashamed of my ugly face, and unwashed hair, and too thick thighs. I’m ashamed that I’m still ashamed of myself. Years of therapy and I still haven’t fixed me.

Most of all I’m embarrassed and ashamed of partially blaming my Mom for my low self esteem. She was just trying to help. She bent over backwards to find me help for my face. Even worse, she’s no longer here to defend herself. I’m speaking ill of the dead and I loved her with all my heart, I still love her with all my heart and I feel such shame for the blame that I feel.

K

Mental Health Super Hero Begins

Sally Semi-Colon helps her first soul and discovers her power to emit epic empathy. Johanna’s cried an ocean when Sally finds her and helps her begrin to heal.

This is the first test frame I’ve developed for my mental health super hero, Sally Semi-Colon. She follows the credo that one’s life sentence can continue with a semi-colon, even after or in spite of dark depression, attempted suicide, or any other mental heath struggle, rather than end with a period.hhb

More information about the Semi-Colon movement can be found in the documentary film regarding high school sexual assault and the devastating mental health impact available on Netflix, Audrey and Daisy. There is also a book called Project Semi-Colon featuring,”essays and photos from the Suicide Awareness Organization that has helped millions, as well as plenty more information on line.

After watching Wonder Woman recently I was struck, once again, by something that’s bothered me for a loooooong time. There is a severe shortage of comic books, films and graphic novels featuring female super heros but no shortage of real world super women.

I understand I am not working for Marvel or DC and the characters I’m working on may or may not be going anywhere but that’s ok. I just feel like it’s therapeutic for me to try to create a Group of female super heros who might begin to fill in the giant gaps in the female super hero world.

What do you consider your own super power to be?

K

Dad’s Sage Advice

The other day I was angry with someone. My anger was based on an age old grudge my Mom, who died four years ago, held for something done to my Grammie, who’s been dead about 15 years. You still with me?

In writing it out I’m barely with me. Lol!😂

Anyway, I told my Dad and after a flicker of anger in his eyes quickly faded he asked me if I was really, truly burning with anger. I replied my anger had dulled to a glowing red piece of coal.

His sage and irreverent advice was thus,

“If a long held grudge has reduced itself to a small ember, piss on it, put it out and be done with it.”

And I laughed so hard I think I must have peed a little because my anger was gone.

K

Mental Health Super Hero

I’m pleased to present my latest creation, Sally Semi Colon!

“What are her super powers,” You ask. She’s gifted with acute senses of empathy, understanding, kindness, love, advanced active listening skills, a great sense of humour, and a light for the darkness.

She can offer reliable therapy on a moments notice and is familiar with all forms of treatment conventional and non. She can offer up tough love if needed or tell when it’s time to relax and recommend self care.

She even carries an endless supply of self care items like; face masks, good books, great music, a selection of herbal teas, word games, art supplies, journals with pretty pens, nail polish, and other sundry.

Sally is a mental health maven bent on battling mental illness, stereotypes, stigmas, and assholes who don’t understand!

More to come…

Sage Advice My Dad Plagiarized

For no compellingly good reason I climbed aboard the Twitter Train earlier this week. I toured around checking out the threads as they twist and tie together forming, what I imagine to be, an infinite, nonsensical quilt from hell.

The more I allowed the quilt to wrap round me the more I felt it fuck with my senses. I felt compelled to comment when I saw stupidity, or what I perceived to be stupidity, and I realized I was often feeling mean.

I trolled Trump a bit and I feel justified in this as it was a, mostly, constructive trolling. I didn’t just call him an ass. I told him how he was being an ass and how he might go about being less assish.

I didn’t expect trolling to feel so addictive. Soon I was sucked in and I realized I wanted not just to troll Trump but to troll those defending Trump in all his Trumpliness. I chose the most asinine ass, as I perceived it, and furiously began pounding out trollish tweets.

Fortunately, through the twists and tangles of the Twitter threads, I heard my father’s voice whispering to me from a glittering time vortex, a mystery in the matrix. I listened closer and I realized I wasn’t wrapped in the blanket of Twitter, I was caught in its wicked web.

The words my Dad whispered flowed out of the vortex, back into my brain. Bam! I was 7 again and I was telling my Dad about the perfect insult I had for a classmate of mine I didn’t care for.

“What would Thumper’s mother say?”

I stared at my father, puzzled for a moment, then it clicked. He was talking about Thumper, the bunny-best-bud to Bambi.

I shook my head, squished both brows inward and upward, indicated I couldn’t recall what Thumper’s mother was talking about.

“Remember how Thumper’s Mom reminded Thumper not to say rude or mean things to other people?”

“Yes”

“Do you remember what the rule was for deciding what to say and what not to say?”

I shook my head.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

My father, as he is wont to do, had corrected the grammar from the original Bambi script but the message remained the same. Throughout my life he has reminded me of this simple rule whenever I’ve expressed the urge to stop being constructive and start being mean.

So, as I tooled around Twitter, noting the tools, the sage recollection from Bambi brought back to me by my Dad, kept me from getting carried away in the Twitterverse. I can see I’ll have to be careful with the Twitter tool as I don’t want to become a Twitter Tool.

Above all I must remember behind even the most asinine of asses tweeting there is a real person. I beg you to suspend the Russian bot jokes. I must assume there is a real person with feelings behind each tweet and as a fellow human it’s better to spread kindness whenever possible and resist resorting to petty insults.

I admit, at times, there is no room for kindness or quiet. Sometimes we have to rise up and make our voices heard but I’m not certian Twitter is an effective place for an uprising.

If you want to promote an event or a brand or follow information about entertainment or community news bites, I feel, Twitter is the place to be. If there is a political or humanitarian issue you wish draw attention to you might use Twitter as a small part of your campaign. If you really want to affect change you must do many things to grow a movement. Write letters, make phone calls, knock on doors.

Above all things, when using Twitter or any other social media platform remember my father’s, blatently plagiarized and grammatically corrected, wise words from Bambi.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

K

You Down With OCD? Probably Not

I am tired of actual psychiatric disorders being used as casual slang when REAL fucking people, ACTUALLY fucking suffer from the following and many more psychiatric disorders!

Here are some real life examples so you know what I’m ranting about.

  1. “Dude’s a total Schizo, he’s was fine one minute and just freaked out like 10 seconds later.”
  2. “I’m so Depressed I didn’t get those concert tickets.”
  3. “Oh my God, I couldn’t find my keys for, like, 2 minutes, and I totally had a panic attack!”
  4. “My computer was fine yesterday but today it keeps going Schizo on me.”
  5. “Don’t mind me, I’m totally OCD, if I see a crooked picture I just want to level it.”
  6. “She’s such a psycho, I heard she bedazzled his favourite hockey jersey after he cheated on her.”

Please Note: some of the above quotes are fake but I feel I’ve heard some version of each at least a few times – Ok, ok I planted #6 on purpose because it’s a brilliant revenge idea, and it doesn’t make one a psycho to take some small revenge if he’s a cheating asshole.

Imagine speaking to someone or overhearing someone use your actual, diagnosed, psychiatric affliction as a throw away term for a bad habit or an instance of unique or strange behaviour.

It’s a really shitty feeling because it diminishes the severity and seriousness we mentally ill people have to cope with in a huge way every single fucking minute of every single fucking day. It makes me feel as though my psychiatric problems are a punchline rather than something that’s compelled me to self-harm and plan my suicide, sent me to the psych ward. Is that something I should take lightly? My depression nearly drove me into the ground.

I’ve cried in bathroom stalls and book stores and and burrito joints (Really – I didn’t fake anything to make the alliteration work but huzzah! For the diversity of human ignorance) because of flip remarks as I’ve mentioned.

I can only imagine what it’s like for children and teens. Kids can be cruel when someone is different. Teens can crush windpipes with a withering look and break the windows of the soul with a minimum number of syllables.

I believe people are generally good. I don’t believe these misused words are being bandied about for the sheer assholery of it. It comes down to stigma and a lack of community education.

Go ahead, call me a bleeding-heart, liberal, politically correct, pinko, snowflake, snob, I can take it. I can take it because I am a grown ass woman and my mental afflictions have decreased in severity recently.

This is why I continue to write this blog. I want to smash stigmas, offer my own stories and observations, and provide hope that someday soon those who suffer won’t feel as though their afflictions aren’t valid or they have to hide.

None of that kumbaya shit though, don’t worry. I enjoy sarcasm and wit far too much. My hope is just that we can all learn to have more empathy toward each other because I believe it’s one of the keys to peace✌

K

Grief From Moment to Moment

I knew grief was coming. I’ve felt grief many times before. It always feels distinctly like grief, yet no grieving situation ever unfurls and flows in similar fashion.

I am speaking specifically of grief felt when a loved dies. One can grieve the loss of a job or a home but those losses, for me, tend to bring forth an entirely different type of grieving.

My maternal grandmother died yesterday. Although she lived two provinces away we were still close. We became even closer after my Mom, her eldest daughter, died in early 2014. We both took her death very hard and struggled a great deal.

Yesterday I felt as though I should feel sadder, be more upset. I cried when I told my husband very early in the morning. He held me as I swiped at my eyes and tried to breath deeply and fully. Mostly I felt glad she’d gone quickly, with minimal suffering and I felt glad I’d told her many times how special she was to me and how much I loved her.

My husband and I had lunch with my father and his lady-friend yesterday afternoon. We laughed and talked and my appetite seemed normal. I suppose the only thing not normal was how guilty I felt for feeling so normal.

Later on I suddenly felt incredibly irritable. I snapped at my husband, immediately apologised, snapped again, apologised, and lathered, rinsed, repeated until I was in tears for behaving so poorly and he was bewildered.

We watched a movie I chose and I complained about how terrible it was the whole way through. I stomped upstairs after the film and shuttered myself in my art studio. I was, at once, angry at myself for choosing such a shitty flick and annoyed at my husband for insisting we finish it.

I decided to take part in a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge suggested by an old friend and fellow artist and participant. I completed a small abstract piece last night and found myself going from soothed to impatient as though riding a pendulum as I worked. I was satisfied with the finished painting and surprised how much the colouring and style reminded me of my Grandmother.

My sleep was wrought with tossing and turning. I woke up really early for coffee but found myself dosing off an hour later and returning to bed for rest of the morning.

For the rest of today I’ve found myself on an un-merry-go-round of irritable, sentimental, guilty, confused, and numb. This is what grieving my Grandmother feels like so far.

I’ve also found myself with a sour stomach, a sweet tooth, shakier hands than usual, and struggling to cope with higher than usual pain levels.

I never would have predicted this would be how I’d feel. I’m doing my best to surf the emotional waves rather than fight them but it’s difficult as I keep feeling as though I’m not doing this right and I know that’s not possible.

I’ve learned we all experience grief differently and grieving will be a different experience every time. So I’ll just keep trying to honour my grandmother’s memory as best I can and honour my feelings as they ebb and flow. If there’s ever a time to go easy on myself and practice self-love and self-care it’s now.

K

My Grandmother is Dying and I’m Really F#*king Sad/Mad

I started this blog to help me deal with that which brings me down and to figure out ways of lifting me, and perhaps others, up. The irony is, when my life is at its shittiest, I stop writing. I figure it’s best not to analyse a storm til I’m on the other side of it.

I call bullshit on myself. BULLSHIT! The truth is, my life is rather messy right now and I do need to write about it.

My maternal grandmother, the only grandparent I have left, my dead Mom’s Mom, is dying and it’s all happening much faster than I want to cope with.

The Ank ring on my upper right ring finger was given to my Mom by her family for her 21st birthday. She wore it nearly every day and since she died I have worn it nearly every day. On my pinky finger is a ring given to my Grandmother on her 21st birthday. My Grandmother handed it down to me on my 21st birthday. I have worn it on many special occasions since receiving it.

Cancer, insidious bastard that it is, snuck in and went to work all over causing my Grandmother pain and neausea increasingly over the past few months. By the time the Drs figured out what was going on they delivered news she’d likely be moving on from our world in a matter of weeks, months at best.

Recently I flew out to visit with her in the hospital for five days and, although it was difficult, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time holding her hand and quietly talking to her about good memories and I made sure to tell her how much I love her.

Now I am home and I’m dealing with some stupid personal health issues on top of the usual chronic pain crap and depression/anxiety thang. So that’s awesome. I’m trying to do all the shiney, happy, lovey, dovey, “stay positive” crap but staying positive can be so fucking annoying!

My grandmother is dying and I’m pissed about it. Sure she’s 89 and she’s had a good long life but that doesn’t mean I’m ready for her to die.

Who will send me birthday, Christmas, and wedding anniversary cards with military precision every year? Who will tell me stories about my Mom? Who will keep me apprised of how everyone in the family is doing even if I occasionally haven’t the faintest idea who she’s talking about?

She’s irreplaceable and I’m sad she’s going but for now she’s still alive. I keep reminding myself of that. I can still call her and I can still make her laugh, thank goodness.

It felt really good to get all of that off my chest. I even feel a little less angry. I’m glad by writing about my Grandmother I reminded myself there’s still time and I need to take advantage of every moment I have left with her.

I’m happy I wrote this instead of continuing to retreat inwards, forgetting about the cathatic gift this blog offers me.

K

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