Word Vomit Wednesday - Stop Kavanaugh

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts where I attempt to process thoughts and feelings, usually about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.


CW: Sexual Assault

As with pretty much all the news about our current state of affairs, the Kavanaugh nomination and hearings for SCOTUS have been extremely triggering and stressful. Even before Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her story of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh, this nomination indicated an even darker America to come, as if the one we’re in now isn’t dire enough for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and BIPOC. And, as with so much of the news we’ve been contending with since 2016, I’ve felt a need to pull back from watching it, reading tweets and articles almost ritualistically just so I can take care of myself physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Staying on top of everything going on takes a tremendous toll and I constantly find myself thinking about how the well-beings of marginalized people are constantly looked over and dismissed.

This came up for me again the other night when, after having a pretty relaxed evening watching The Emmy’s with my parents, my dad turned the news back on and that sense of simmering rage and hypervigilance that I’ve learned to just deal with existing as a woman in the world, came bubbling right to the surface. I had to leave almost immediately because that was not the way I wanted to end my day feeling. If I’m going to be active and helpful in any way, even in small ways like writing this blog, I need to be able to sleep at night. But one thing that came up in the few minutes of watching the Kavanaugh coverage that I have not been able to stop thinking about was a quote from someone in the nominee’s camp saying something along the lines of not even knowing the story or who the woman could possibly have been until Ford revealed herself. This narrative is offered over and over again as a way to dismiss women when they come forward in these situations. A narrative that continues to portray women and our experiences as insignificant.

That killed me. The fact that this woman not only went through a trauma where her personhood was never considered from the get-go, has been affected by it for decades, is risking her life for this country (she and her family have since had to leave their home due to death threats) to share her story and make her identity known, to again, be told by men she is not worthy of consideration is devastating. And that seems to be a major key in all of this. Women are not considered. At all. Kavanaugh probably didn’t recall the assault because he got what he wanted out of it. He never considered Ford or her feelings, needs, or wants. He couldn't have cared less. He still couldn’t care less. The GOP, who should care about putting an alleged rapist on the bench of the highest court in the land, but instead made a publicity stunt of having 65 women sign a document (all but two seemingly had no idea what they had signed) that stated they would vouch for Kavanaugh, definitely don’t see a problem if they’re willing to manipulate women to get their man through the confirmation process.

I saw a tweet the other day from @laurenthehough, who shared this sentiment: “You know what would be fucking weird to hear? ‘I did that. It was fucking terrible. I’m sorry. I did years of therapy and soul searching and work and I changed my behavior. I can’t change what I did. But I made damn sure I never did it again.’ Why is that never the statement?”

Why is that never the statement? I cannot tell you how healing it would be if those were the statements that we started hearing. Real accountability. Real apologies. Real work put into an individual’s growth and education. Would those statements start solving all of these problems? No, of course not. But they would at least indicate that these people recognize that the women they’ve hurt are people. And that they understand that they have caused harm, sometimes a lifetime’s worth, to another person. That would create a powerful shift. Because one of the reasons we don’t hear these statements is because these people don’t consider what they do to women to be of any significance. That unless you’re related to a woman by blood or marriage or if you find them attractive, they don’t matter. It’s probably inconceivable to Kavanaugh and his ilk that a situation that was so forgettable for him because “boys will be boys,” had been burned into Ford’s mind. She never mattered to him, he felt entitled to her and her body, and our culture allowed that.

As I’m writing this, I realize that I will be posting it on arguably the most important Jewish holiday of the year, Yom Kippur. Which couldn’t be more fitting for this topic. Yom Kippur translates to Day of Atonement. It comes ten days after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, wherein those ten days are meant to give us time to reflect on the past year. All the great and terrible experiences and the things we wish we did better or hadn’t done at all. What we are sorry about and who we need to apologize to and when Yom Kippur finally arrives we are supposed to take full accountability for ourselves. Now, one day to hold ourselves accountable for our actions (as well as inactions) and how they’ve caused harm and suffering to others and actively make amends is not enough. Especially if the damage we have caused has had a prolonged traumatizing effect on person’s life and livelihood. Going to shul once a year and reciting prayers are not going to fix things or provide the healing that’s actually necessary. But at least the holiday is there to jumpstart the conversation. To hopefully get us thinking outside of ourselves and give the apologies that we wished we’d been given when we’ve been wronged and make necessary and lasting changes.

I’m pretty sure Brett Kavanaugh is not Jewish, probably has no idea what Yom Kippur is, and, like most cis-het white males, doesn’t think he's done anything wrong and that he's entitled to whatever the fuck he wants. But for those men who do genuinely want to make amends and be better people and because we very rarely have a framework for how to get started with that, I’m going to offer a few suggestions (mostly for men to combat rape culture and inequality, though some of these skills definitely apply in many other areas and for most people) on some things to start focusing on that would be incredibly helpful. This is by no means a complete and comprehensive list, and there is no significance to the order, but a few things to get people started.

  1. Listen to women and believe them. We know our own experiences, so please do not come at us with “what if she’s lying” bullshit. There’s a reason men are conditioned to believe that women are liars and that reason is to keep women oppressed. Learning how to listen, really listen, is one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn. When you check your egos at the door, unlearn your social conditioning, and learn to center and hold space for someone else and their feelings, especially when they’re in need, it validates their humanity. We all need support and knowing someone is in our corner who’s not going to question our motives, interrupt us as we process whatever we’re going through in the moment, or lash out at us is basic common decency that we are rarely shown, but (as women) are expected to provide for others. It’s also invaluable for the listener because you will get to understand someone else’s world a little better and hopefully gain more perspective on the one you inhabit.

  2. Start asking “What do you need” and “How can I help you.” Practice those questions so much until they become second nature. No one is asking you to bend over backwards for other people, only you know what your limits are and it’s your responsibility to be honest about what you can or cannot do, but this is another small gesture, just like listening, that goes a long way. On the flip side of that, asking for help when you’re struggling is an important skill as well. People will typically show up for you if you give them a chance, especially if you’ve shown up for them.

  3. Hold other men exhibiting toxic behavior accountable. Show by example how a good man acts and let those who are extremely problematic know that you see them and what they're doing and are not here for it. Men listen to other men (bc toxic masculinity, but that’s a post for another day), so you pointing out that some behavior or thought-pattern is problematic or shameful is effective.

  4. Vote for and support women. Not just the ones you’re related to or find attractive. If you can only make room for the former, you're only performing ally ship and you don’t actually support women.

  5. Men built the glass ceiling, therefore it’s your job to dismantle it. Do not put the extra weight of men’s work on marginalized folx who are already carrying and navigating too much.

  6. Go inward and start tackling your own internalized patriarchal proclivities. Do your due diligence to understand toxic masculinity, sexist/racist double standards, and your privilege and the ways in which you help perpetuate a system that gives you benefits at the expense and suffering of others. Ways to start doing that: go to therapy, get a group of your boys together and actually start talking about and identifying your feelings and asking each other questions, read books or watch films/tv by people who come from very different backgrounds than you. You’ll hopefully learn a lot about yourself and the world. And you’ll learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings in a healthier way, rather than putting and projecting that emotional labor on the women and other marginalized folx in your lives.

  7. If you have realized that you have done something wrong or hurtful or it was brought to your attention that you have, you may want to get defensive. Acknowledge the feelings you're having to yourself, but to the appropriate parties try saying something like this: “I did that. It was fucking terrible. I’m sorry. I did years of therapy and soul searching and work and I changed my behavior. I can’t change what I did. But I made damn sure I never did it again.” If you haven’t done the work yet, don’t say you have unless you do actually plan on following through. And then follow through. These are also great growth opportunities for utilizing those new listening and offering assistance tools from #s 1 and 2.

  8. *BONUS*: Do not, under any circumstances, attempt ANY of the above with ulterior motives. You do not get a gold star for being a “good guy.” This is just how people should be treated. Decently, respectfully, and without any expectation of owing you anything in return.

Obviously, this is a very simplified list but when you start opening the door to one of these items, more and more doors begin to appear. As hard as it may be at times, it is worthwhile work that benefits everyone. Also, if you’ve made it this far, please call your senators and tell them to not confirm Kavanaugh to SCOTUS. We, the people, deserve someone on the bench who considers all of us.

Katie Louchheim seriously doesn’t know how she functions on a daily basis with all this bullshit. CALL YOUR SENATORS TO #StopKavanaugh: 202-224-3121.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Flagged

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

*At the time of posting this, I was and am still partially banned from sharing things on Facebook without any explanation from Facebook.*

Last week I was flagged on Facebook for “hate speech” much to my surprise and to the surprise of pretty much everyone I know. And, if I’m being honest here, I actually felt more inconvenienced than upset about it. I probably should have felt more upset about it because it’s indicative of an enormous and terrifying cultural trend: censoring critical thought and expression while protecting harassment, threats, and bigotry. I have no idea who reported me or what about me or something I posted (I only posted twice last week and I rarely engage with Facebook anymore except to post this blog and work for Female Frequency and maybe “like” some of my friend’s posts) was found to be problematic, which is part of the problem with reporting on social media platforms. No one has any idea what the fuck is going on and nothing is actually accomplished.

I talked to my friend (I’ll call her Viv for this piece) who co-founded and worked for an organization whose intention was to provide support for victims of online harassment. And what she found while working with Twitter and their global trust and safety departments was pretty abysmal. First of all, these are very small departments that employ very few people. Which makes discerning legitimate reportings and enforcing consequences for the hundreds of thousands of claims that come in weekly to be virtually impossible. And because these social media companies don’t want to shell out the money for more manpower on this issue we’re left at the whims of algorithms that end up doing more harm than good. By having bots that are programmed to find keywords and then trigger a ban based on those words removes any kind of discussion about First Amendment rights and protections.

Algorithms have no concept for context and nuance. You can’t define hate speech and symbols without also discussing context and you can’t pretend to care about the First Amendment if you can’t determine what speech is protected and what warrants consequences if there are no people having those discussions while working on cases. By setting up these algorithms you may be able pick up on that Neo-Nazi’s multiple profiles, but you’re probably also lumping people who educate about World War II in with the bigots as if they're in any way equitable. They’re obviously not even close. That's one way in which these social media platforms are doing a great disservice to it’s community members.

While Viv was working at her organization, she had the rare opportunity to personally and directly bring cases to global trust and safety which would expedite the process for her clients significantly. Even then, there were still many obstacles. No two social media platforms have a uniform way they deal with reports and they all require different types of “evidence” from the users filing complaints which users are either not aware of or have no idea how to obtain them. Not only that, but harassment is still just not taken seriously. According to Viv, even after personally bringing forward very serious cases involving death threats it still took 48 hours for any action.

The excuses for not doing more organizationally and even legislatively, is this bullshit idea that the Internet is too fast to even think about putting real protections for people around hate speech, threats of violence, threats to reputation, privacy and consent. Excuse me, but that’s just fucking lazy. So lazy and unwilling to do the work are these social media companies, that they opened up this country to major national security threats (hello, Russia Investigation). And it’s appalling that the people on the Internet who do cause harm and who express themselves with violence are only ever given a slap on the wrist. Why even have a reporting system if no one is going to be held accountable for their actions? Which brings me to my next point. Oftentimes reporting someone (as was in my case last week) is the harassment behavior.

Trolls employ reporting as a harassment tactic CONSTANTLY. My first personal experience with it was last week, but I have seen it happen over and over again to, in particular,  to BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) activists and advocates (mostly women) that I follow on various social media platforms. And it is enraging every time that these people who are either educating, observing, asking, or sharing are policed at virtually every turn. THAT’S FUCKED UP AND REALLY NOT NECESSARY. But because there is no real discussion or real people discerning the difference between hate speech and a truth that may make someone feel some discomfort, reporting is abused and used violently toward marginalized people. Much in the same way all our other institutions are set up to uphold those same white supremacist and patriarchal standards.

If our society is going to progress in any way, we need to get this mess sorted out. Free speech does not mean one is free from consequences. If someone is being abused they should feel like they’re going to be heard when they reach out. When someone has been flagged, they need to be given specific reasons why something they did or said was deemed inappropriate and be held accountable appropriately, not just given a link to the site’s guidelines. And if someone uses the reporting system in a violent way they should not only be appropriately held accountable for that but also have it communicated to them why what they were reporting was not considered hate speech, etc. Fostering discussion and education through healthy communication practices is something we definitely need in these spaces. If these platforms continue to rely on these algorithms instead of having qualified humans facilitate we are never going to have the resources or professional support that we deserve in these spaces.

Katie Louchheim suggests that if an opinion makes you uncomfortable, go see a therapist before projecting your bullshit inappropriately on others.

Word Vomit Wednesday - 1 is Not the Loneliest Number

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.






About three weeks ago my brother got married (woo!). This event also marked the 8th time I’ve been a bridesmaid. I am always honored when I’m asked to be a part of someone’s bridal party. It really means a lot to me to know how much our relationship matters to the soon-to-be-wed person that they would want me in that kind of a supportive and active role in a ceremony that has great significance for them. What it doesn’t mean though, is that I’m the 30-year-old spinster who can’t get my life together (ie: find a husband and “settle down”) who settles for being in a perpetual “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” scenario. This apparently confuses and concerns many people. Especially when I exhibit emotions at aforementioned weddings. I often become emotional at weddings and that’s usually because of two things: 1. Empathy and 2. Being present.

I am an extremely empathic person, sometimes disablingly so. I pick up other people’s vibes and feelings so often and often so unconsciously it can feel like I’m a human Dyson that hasn’t been turned off and has all this shit swirling around inside. Being an empath has made me a more compassionate person and critical thinker. It has also given me a lot of problems with really knowing myself when I so seamlessly internalize other’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs as they typically become so entangled with my own. Additionally, setting boundaries has been a major struggle for me. If I can’t figure out if my feelings are mine or not, how and where do I need to draw the line with myself and others? Fortunately, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work on that and that’s where being present comes in. Learning how to be present has been imperative to my emotional and psychological survival because it allows me the time and space to not only know that I have the ability to turn the empathy vacuum on or off, but to determine when, how much and with whom. When it comes to my experience as a bridesmaid I’ve been able to tap into those to things and allow the timbre of the occasion, the joy, and the heartfelt moments to affect me in a moving way. Also, if I see someone cry you can bet I will start tearing up.

Does all this make sense or are you still waiting for me to start sobbing about the sad state of ruin that is my love life? Hate to disappoint, but I’m really happy with where I’m at. Which is single. What really gets me, though, is people not hearing me when I say that and not believing me when I say that. Whether my expression of emotions is even registered for some people or not, they don’t believe me when I say I’m not interested in marriage. Frankly, it’s offensive. I understand that that may not be the other person’s intention, but impact matters more than intention. In fact, the only time intention is really worth consideration is when it is in alignment with impact. Otherwise, I highly suggest learning how to be accountable for your shit instead of putting it on the person you’re having a negative impact on. When people have pressed me about this topic and not taken themselves accountable, I’m left with so much emotional labor. I usually have to steer the conversation to some bullshit like, “maybe I just haven’t found the right person yet” just to get them off my fucking back because, for whatever reason, they can’t grasp the idea that marriage is not the end-all-be-all for some people.

When I was in second grade, I remember overhearing some of my classmates talking about their weddings and who they wanted to marry. All I remember thinking is, “What am I going to do with my life? How will I make an impact on the world?” There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and have a family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to find your life’s purpose through work and career. There’s nothing wrong with being single and starting a family. There’s nothing wrong with being in a committed monogamous relationship and never getting married. The list goes on and on. There are so many valid and varied ways to live a fulfilling life… and yet. That first path I mentioned still seems to be deemed the only meaningful one. And that sucks. It sucks for someone like me who has really tried with this dating and romantic relationship thing and it all just feels wrong and like a nuisance. I have never not been miserable in a romantic relationship. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s not because there’s something wrong with me, though.

We’re conditioned to this very limiting hetero-normative narrative about what dating and romantic love and marriage is all supposed to be and mean to us. And none of it is particularly realistic and it hasn’t jived with me. So, why am I going to keep engaging in something that I know for a fact doesn’t make me feel good? Why would I spend so much time and energy on that when I can invest in myself and the things that make me feel joy? When I can put love and energy into relationships that already add so much to my life, like my friends, family, and mentors. Those relationships are just as valuable as romantic partnerships. We have to let go of the stereotypes and we have to stop jumping to conclusions about people when they’ve made deliberate life choices. We also really need to stop trying to be “right” about other people’s lives. Seriously, get a fucking hobby and let people be. And if you’re curious because you genuinely don’t understand, ASK THEM. If they agree to talk to you about it, something no one is required to do, LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t try to force your perspective on their experiences. You’re not gonna change their minds and it’s just rude. And if no one wants to talk to you about it, whether you’re rude or not nobody owes you anything, GOOGLE IT. People word vomit their life experiences on the internet all the time (hello and welcome to this very meta episode of WVW) and you’re likely to come across many stories of why people live the lives that they do. Newsflash: it’s not always an indication of being sad and lonely. People’s lives are interesting if you keep an open mind to them!

I could continue on and on about societal expectations on women (they’re fucked up and completely unrealistic so stop it) and talk about all the statistics of heterosexual-identifying people that state that single women are the happiest demographic just behind married men while single men and married women were reported as being most unhappy with married women being the unhappier demo. While this doesn’t represent every single person’s individual marriage, it does make it clear that marriage is an institution that generally only favors men. Because patriarchy. But, I’m not going to go into more of that because I’m not being paid to educate people and it's a great example of a topic you can practice your Google skills on. Try it out!

Anyway, I’m happy where I’m at in my life right now and I’m going to keep living my life based on my values and my intuition whether anybody else likes it or not.

Katie Louchheim hates vacuuming.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Simulacrum

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.




I’m sitting on my parent’s couch with a heating pad hugging my left shoulder blade because I apparently strained it while trying to see around the very tall woman seated in front of me at Centennial Hall. And while Finding Neverland was a very cute and harmless production, it was definitely not worth this misery and I think I’m feeling more sore about that than I am about the pain itself. Couchella 2018 is about as big of a bummer as every Coachella that doesn’t have Beyoncé performing. It’s also forcing me to literally sit and reflect on this past week in Tucson. This trip has neither been all fibro flare-ups nor without stress entirely, but what it has been is bizarre. I’m coming back to a place that I consciously ran away from partly because I didn’t feel like I could be myself there. Or even find out who that was. It was a place where I felt so trapped and afraid of and frustrated by everything. As the cosmic joke that life can be would have it, my healing journey indicated that it was time to go back and dig into the shit I thought I left behind. As I now know, no one ever leaves anything behind. Wherever you go, there you are and sometimes in order to move forward you need to take a few steps back.

Random Kanye West-style philosophical rambling aside, it is weird being back and knowing that I’m not just heading to New York for good at the end of the week. I’m here seeing my family, family friends, and even some friends I haven’t seen since high school and so much feels unnervingly unchanged. Except for me. Every day I have had a sense of anxiety and unease and it’s not about moving back for this sabbatical. It’s more this jarring out-of-body sensation of recognizing a schema, situation, or dynamic and just feeling slightly off within it. I’m taking that as a positive thing. Because while I am not totally at ease I’m also not totally off-kilter either. I feel more grounded in myself and less like I’m compromising my authenticity like I was when I left almost 11 years ago. It indicates growth and a realization that I have more power in situations. But, it’s also a very naked and vulnerable feeling. Feeling those feelings in these situations that recall seventeen years of previous experience in living here is incredibly confusing. Almost every day I’ve been texting friends telling them how anxious I am, how I can’t just sit still and relax, how I’m constantly looking over my shoulder when I’m out in public, how I’m having such trouble sleeping and I just don’t know why. You would think I was under Witness Protection or something.

No matter where I go I sense this essence of a Katie that no longer exists and it’s obstructing my view of the situation. Like the town is haunted by this emotionally wounded child that just doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to pass on. I don’t know if it’s just my memories coming into sharp focus and confusing the past for present reality, but every day there’s been a moment of haziness where the next thing to do, say, or go is either muddled or doesn’t exist at all. So, maybe that’s the job I’m supposed to do here. Picking up my life one place and putting in another is not the challenge. I’ve done that quite a few times already. And I don’t think exorcising or slaying the demons is what’s called for either because, as I am painfully aware of right now, that will probably just cause strain that cannot be helped by a few hours snuggled up with a heating pad. But maybe learning to face them and help them across the vale will help me actually move on too.

 

 

Katie Louchheim is looking into a career in supernatural diplomacy.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Apology

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

Thanksgiving was a little rough this year, which means that for a person living with chronic pain and illness, like myself, a huge amount of time to heal afterward was necessary. I was so stressed out this past holiday that the moment I got back to the safe space that is my apartment, my body turned into a brick and I was unable to get out of bed for a good 24 hours. The following days were spent being in intense physical pain topped off with an emotional state of hyper-vigilance and panic. It’s taken me over a week to “normalize” and feel like myself again. My days generally focus on checking in with myself constantly and making decisions based on what I’m feeling and how much energy I have. It makes it hard to commit to anything because my energy can (and does) change at the drop of a hat. And because there’s no known cause that medical institutions can point to for Fibromyalgia, I end up having to try a million things to see what feels helpful and what doesn’t.

My life is literally in my own hands. And it’s a full-time job. So, below I’d like to share an exercise that I have used off and on that has been really helpful for me on my healing journey with chronic pain (and other wounds) and maybe it can be a tool that you can have in your toolbox too. I’ve used this tool to write to younger versions of myself that needed soothing and understanding and to specific body parts that I’ve historically been angry with. Every time it’s hit an emotional nerve that has led to some form of catharsis and deeper understanding of myself. This week I wrote a letter to my fibro asking for forgiveness and extending an olive branch for moving forward together. I added a new component for myself by writing a response letter as my fibro. This second part was extremely powerful for me because I was able to give voice to a part of myself that had important things to say and needed to be heard.

Here are my letters:

Dear Fibromyalgia,

 

I have been feeling really tested this week. I spend all the time and energy I have working with you and around you. As much as I feel like we’re figuring things out sometimes weeks like the past couple hit and I find that I just don’t know what you want. I know you’re helping me to acknowledge areas of my life and feelings I need to work on, but why does it have to hurt so much? I know it’s out of trying to help me and protect me. I cannot express how eternally grateful I am for that. Especially since, you’re probably very used to being treated so ungratefully from me. I’ve minimized you, ignored you, blamed you for holding me back in life and equated you to weakness. So now that I’m trying to be open to conversation and to building a relationship it can feel like the levees breaking and I’m drowning. I’m trying not to view this that way anymore. Maybe this is more like me breaking out of the cocoon you’ve turned my body into so that I can eventually break free into the form I’m supposed to be. Becoming is not and has not been easy. Or glamorous. Or simple to explain. And it’s taking a really long time. I’m learning to trust the process and I’m learning to listen and take appropriate actions for myself. I’m sorry for not trusting you and for treating you like you didn’t matter. Because in doing that, it’s meant that that’s how I’ve felt about and treated myself. I hope you can forgive me and that we can continue to move forward in friendship, even in times of regression. I will keep in mind that, those times especially, are reminders to treat both of us gently.

 

Your friend,

KT

 

 

Dear KT,

 

Thank you for this letter and your apology. I know how earth-shattering and difficult these past few years have been for you. This has been a learning process for me too. As you’re growing and learning, I’m having some trouble letting go. What can I say? Old habits die hard. I’ve sprung into action so immediately and for so long for you that it’s hard for me to find other ways to help you to manage what life throws at you. You’ve been through alot and I’m extremely proud of who you are and all the work you’ve been doing. I will always be here for you and I look forward to continuing moving forward together. Even if that moving forward sometimes looks like stepping backward. Like you said, becoming is not easy. And I know when you finally emerge from one form to the next you will realize and take ownership of the power you have and lead a life that is meaningful for you.

 

Love always,

Fibro

 

Katie Louchheim is here for the destigmatization of mental, chronic, and “invisible” illnesses and hopes you are too.

Word Vomit Wednesday - 30 Things About Being 30

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself. 

 

Hello lovely people! Today’s WVW will be a departure from the usual content because 1) it’s suuuuuper late (I meant to post last week and not this week) and 2) I turned 30 last week (hence why I did not post)! To commemorate this new decade and because we live in the Buzzfeed era, I’ve decided to do some personal reflection and make a list of 30 of some of the more important things I have learned up to this point. Some lessons took a very long time to sink in, some I had to learn quickly and unexpectedly, and some I’ve always had with me. In no particular order, here they are:

 

1. If you say you’re going to do something, do the best you can. You’re allowed to take your time. You’re allowed to change your mind. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad or flaky person if you’re not always able to follow through.

 2. Manage your damage. You deserve healing and people in your life who recognize you as human instead of punish you for it. It is the hardest, least selfish, and most rewarding work you will ever do. Give yourself that gift.

 3. You have a lot to offer. Don’t feel pressured to only give what people may want of you, but figure out how and what you want to contribute on terms that make sense for you.

 4. The most important relationship you have is with yourself. As cliched and overly-simplistic as this statement is, it’s also true. No one is going to be with you as much or as long as you will be with yourself. Figuring out how to be the best you for you makes things feel a lot easier and can even help make approaching your other relationships more manageable.

 5. It’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s imperative to be selective about who to be vulnerable to. Feeling vulnerable is all about feeling safe and can also very much be about context. Not everyone can or should be entrusted with your heart and your experiences, so paying close attention to picking up on who is safe and who isn’t is an important skill to develop. Which brings us to...

 6. Listen to your body. For pain, red flags, pleasure. You may not understand exactly what your body is telling you in the moment, but it’s important. We get so many messages about how we should be and what we could be doing. While a lot of this messaging is meant to help us to be our “best selves” all it really ends up doing is making us distrustful of our own experiences, instincts, and intuition regarding what is actually best for us.

 

7. Trust yourself.

 

8. People will treat you like shit. Sometimes it’s systemic based on who you are and other times hurt people hurt people. Either way, dump those people and situations.  They will only hold you back.

 9. It’s ok to be angry and to show it. In some circumstances it’s absolutely necessary. Anger and rage are basic human emotions and are not indications of the kind of person one is, but who would know that based on how our relationship to anger is so fucked up in our society. Women aren’t allowed to express it and men are expected to express it frequently and violently neither of which are healthy for individuals or the community at large. Healthy relationships to our anger (and other emotions) can let us know when a boundary is crossed and can give us the energy necessary to assert ourselves.

 10. Be curious. Ask anything and everything. The less mysterious the world is, the less fear is controlling the steering wheel in our lives.

 11. If you can, travel as much as possible. You’ll learn things about the world and about yourself by getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, just going out in your own backyard can be enough of an inspiration or adventure. 

 12. Stop feeling bad for wanting and needing things. Toughing shit out just because that’s what we’re told to do is terrible advice. All you’re doing is suppressing important information about yourself.

 13. Friends will come and go, and with them many gifts and insights into different moments from your life.

 14. There is nothing wrong with you. Even if you’re suffering, it may not have anything to do with who you are or anything you have done.

15. There might be something wrong with you. Sometimes if you’re suffering there might be an underlying condition that warrants investigation.  

16. Take your medical health into your own hands. Don’t settle for medical professionals who don’t actually help you find the answers and treatment you need and also make you feel like shit about it. Your health is more important than their God-complex. 

17. Things that once held the most importance to you may change due to unexpected circumstances. Embrace the change and reevaluate your priorities by putting yourself first.

 18. Mourn the person and dreams you thought you would be and have accomplished by this point. Just because things didn’t come to fruition the way you once imagined they would, doesn’t mean those dreams were stupid or a failure. Those parts of you and the space they occupied deserve to be honored. 

 19. Throw societal expectations out the window and learn about who you are instead. The world, and you, will benefit more from showing up as your authentic self than what you think the world wants you to be.

 20. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.

 21. Use your privilege to make space for other marginalized voices and allow others to make space for you to use yours. But, and depending on what space is being occupied, don’t wait to be invited to use your voice.

 22. You will face very difficult and sometimes traumatic situations in your life. You may struggle with decisions in the moment or for years afterward, but there is no right solution. There is only what will be the healthiest for you, sometimes on a moment to moment basis.

 23. Ask for help. As a being that is human, you have limits. It’s ok to know what those are and ask for assistance. No one expects you to be able to do everything yourself and if you find yourself surrounded by people who do, you may not be surrounded by the healthiest people and/or you’ve somehow infiltrated a robot army. So, back away s l o w l y.

 24. Spend time with the people who are most important to you. This seems like a no-brainer but can often feel like a huge challenge. We come up with all kinds of excuses not to be together: too much work, not enough money, who will watch my cat, etc. Sometimes we really can’t get away, but a lot of times we just need to get off the grind.

25. VOTE AND CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

 26. You may have people you admire and works of art that you love for all kinds of reasons. Creativity can unite us, help us empathize with one another, and speak truth to power. Once a person wakes up to the power structures that affect and oppress us in daily life, they will also realize that no matter how much joy someone, a song, or a film can bring, it does not mean that it may not be problematic AF too.

 27. Allow life to happen, but not too much. Be more proactive in your own life lest you get too swept away in other people’s decisions.

 28. Figure out your boundaries and set them. If others don’t respect them, that’s a reflection of them not you. And take that as a cue to dump those people as fast as possible. You can’t change anyone so don’t continue to kowtow to people who think your feelings/needs are not as valid as theirs.

 29. People will surprise you. Just as you are changing, so is everyone around you. Sometimes these surprises will hurt and other times they will move you to the happiest tears. 

 30. Allow yourself to acknowledge all the good things in your life, everything you’ve accomplished, and the love you get from others. It’s ok to accept and be recognized for your awesomeness without deflecting or self-deprecating. Because you’re great, no excuses needed! 

 

 

Katie Louchheim could not be offered enough money to EVER want to relive her 20s. She has a feeling the best  is yet to come. 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Yup, That's A Lot of Us

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

I’m kind of tired of writing about how fed up I am. This feeling is definitely not exclusive to me. If the “me too” hashtag (which was originated by activist Tarana Burke, a *black woman, ten years ago) that exploded this week is any indication, about 50% of the world population is fed up and tired. But that’s also not news to me and it’s not news to anyone who came out and said “me too.” I also just want to say how moved by the many women who came out and wrote the most poignant, searing, powerful essays inspired by this. I feel like so many have already said what needs to be said and has been saying, basically, forever. I’m not entirely sure what else I can add to the conversation. I’m also extremely grateful to the women that wrote in more detail about their experiences and also what they expect from men in terms of action items.

I’m grateful to these women because 1) I'm not ready to do the former and 2) for the latter: I don’t want to do that. My threshold for explaining things to men, like why I deserve to be treated like a human and not a sex object, is completely full. I can count the men I can have tough conversations with, without feeling like I’m unimportant or on trial, on one hand. My worst nightmare, since I was a child, was growing up and being stuck in a relationship where I have to repeat myself over and over and over again and just have to constantly cater to someone who needs me to ask them to do something instead of them just taking the initiative and doing something because it needs to be done and shouldn’t have to always fall on me. That is my circle of hell. And one of the reasons I have remained perpetually single for thirty years.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for men (particularly white, cis, hetero) to make the effort to change. I’m heartened to know a few individual male people who do stand up, I just wish what they were doing was more contagious. I feel so jaded most of the time. I am optimistic that every time there is a wave of #metoo and #yesallwomen that it deepens the cracks in the proverbial glass ceiling. But can’t we just fucking demolish the glass ceiling already? It doesn’t need to be there. It just takes up So. Much. GODDAMN. SPACE!!! I’m over it.

I’m over being suspicious all the time about what people’s intentions are with me. I’m over developing relationships with people and feeling that deep drop my stomach takes once I realize this person sees me as less than. I’m tired of not being considered. Not being asked what I think or how I feel about something. I’m tired of being called “sweetie” by well-intentioned men who don’t realize it’s only a term of endearment when my father calls me that and otherwise it’s just infantilizing. I’m over Donna Karan and her bullshit. No, Donna, what someone chooses to wear or not wear NEVER indicates "asking for it." Fuck off. I’m over thinking that I’m making friends and then realizing that I stop hearing from folks because they realize that I don’t want to bone them. I’m over the constant reminder that I’m only good for one thing.

I’m really tired of women constantly baring their souls and nothing ever fucking changing. I’m going to conclude with saying that for everyone who wrote a “me too” status, I love you. I support you. I see you. I believe you. And thank you for those who have shown me your support in return. For those who chose not to share, you and your experiences and choices are valid. I love you and I support you. To the activists who are constantly fighting for us and keeping us thinking critically no matter how tired and over it they are, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

*Black women are oftentimes the leaders and originators of our most important social justice movements and are also erased from the stories once white people get involved. It is our responsibility to give credit where credit is due.

 

Katie Louchheim is hopping on another hashtag in an effort for men to take on the burdens of their actions rather than putting them on us. From Liz Plank: “Your shame is not ours. No sir.” #HimThough

Word Vomit Wednesday - Blessed Be the Fruit

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

CW: Sexual Assault/Violence

 

Today was both #NationalComingOutDay and #InternationalDayoftheGirl. While these are important and empowering sentiments to have and keep having, there needs to be more of effort to making society an actual safe and equal place for women and LGBTQ+ folks to live. For anyone who is marginalized there is an obstacle course manual that we’re constantly referencing as we go through life. Living in a white patriarchal heteronormative society requires us to anticipate every possible outcome to survive. (Check out this article from a POC perspective on what that looks like). For some people, the decision to come out or to report an assault or rape can mean anything from the loss of a career, family, money, and reputation or even one’s own life.

In terms of coming out with my bisexuality, I’ve been very lucky to have friends and family that are supportive and don’t think there’s anything wrong with me or that I’m going through a phase until I meet “the right guy.” But, as we know, there is still a lot of hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community here and around the world and many youths become homeless because their families won’t accept them. Brazil is one of the more recent countries to start cracking down on LGBTQ+ communities with a judge approving “conversion therapy” and in Chechnya gay and bisexual men are being murdered in what’s being called a “Gay Purge.” We need to do better.

We also need to do better when it comes to rape culture. I’m so sick of writing about this. I’m so sick of rarely really feeling safe, rarely feeling like I’ll get ahead in my career, rarely feeling 100% comfortable in my relationships (personal and professional) with men because I’m just waiting for them to try something. I’ve been conditioned to feel this way and to try to avoid any situation (which is basically every situation you can possibly think of) because these things have happened so many times to me. They have happened so many times to women and some men I know. They happen to millions of women all over the world every day. So many women are conditioned to not trust men because we’re treated like children, nags, and receptacles for getting them off. It’s disgusting.

What makes this whole thing even more devious is sometimes these men have so much power we’ve been told we just need to “play the game” and we’ll be fine. First of all, that is never true and secondly, it’s abusive as fuck. Here’s a quote from model and actress Cara Delevingne recounting Harvey Weinstein assaulting her:

“When I first started to work as an actress, I was working on a film and I received a call from Harvey Weinstein asking if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media. It was a very odd and uncomfortable call… I answered none of his questions and hurried off the phone but before I hung up, he said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood. A year or two later, I went to a meeting with him in the lobby of a hotel with a director about an upcoming film. The director left the meeting and Harvey asked me to stay and chat with him. As soon as we were alone he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn’t and wouldn’t be for a bit and I should go to his room. At that moment I felt very powerless and scared* but didn’t want to act that way hoping that I was wrong about the situation. When I arrived I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe. He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked if he knew that I could sing. And I began to sing… I thought it would make the situation better… more professional… like an audition… I was nervous. After singing I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room. I still got the part for the film and always thought he gave it to me because of what happened. Since then I felt awful that I did the movie. I felt like I didn’t deserve the part. I was so hesitant about speaking out… I didn’t want to hurt his family. I felt guilty as if I did something wrong. I was also terrified that this sort of thing had happened to so many women I know but no one said anything because of fear.I want women and girls to know that being harassed or abused or raped is NEVER their fault and not talking about it will always cause more damage than speaking the truth. I am relieved to be able to share this… I actually feel better and I’m proud of the women who are brave enough to speak… this isn’t easy but there are strength in our numbers. As I said, this is only the beginning. In every industry and especially in Hollywood, men abuse their power using fear and get away with it. This must stop. The more we talk about it, the less power we give them. I urge you all to talk and to the people who defend these men, you are part of the problem.”(*I made these particular words bold).

This is only one example of the bullshit Harvey Weinstein pulled for 30 YEARS. This was an open secret for 30 years and people just let it happen. How worthless must women be seen as in the eyes of so many to allow this monster to abuse his power and assault and rape women who were trying to make it in their chosen industry. The fact that other women were used as a tactic to make Delevingne feel safe in a dangerous situation is horrifying. The use of physical intimidation and threats is classic manipulation. The trying to rationalize and give this man the benefit of the doubt when her boundaries are so clearly being ignored is incredibly sad and upsetting. The only thing I can compare the actual feeling to is when you’re watching a horror film and you get a sense of impending doom in your chest because you know something bad is going to happen. And she knows something bad is going to happen but feels powerless to do anything about it. On the flip side of the misogyny coin is Mike Pence. I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet try and say that if we lived with the “moral compass” that Pence exhibits then that would solve a lot of these problems. Except it wont because his point of view, just like Weinstein’s, is that women are liars and men just can’t help themselves. Let me make something very clear:

MEN. IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU CAN BE NEAR A WOMAN WITHOUT WITNESSES BECAUSE YOU INHERENTLY THINK SOMETHING SEXUAL WILL HAPPEN, YOU ARE A DANGER TO SOCIETY.  

STOP BLAMING WOMEN FOR TRAUMA YOU CAUSE. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

We live in a society where we’ve brought people up to believe that women are irrational and cannot be trusted. Sometimes to the point where women can be so dissociated that they don’t know how to trust themselves. This makes it difficult to feel safe reporting crimes if you already know you’re not going to be believed. That’s partly why when one person comes forward more people flood out in the open. It feels safer when you’re not alone. And Delevingne is right, we do just need to keep naming these people so that hopefully the justice system will begin to change in a way that will actually serve justice.

Trauma at the hands of men is very tricky. I want to name my rapist and abusers, but I’m still stuck in fear. I believe it is a responsibility to name them, I’m just not ready. I still shut down. I’m still traumatized. And that’s just where I am in my healing journey. I’m glad that these conversations are happening more often and I’m hopeful about male allies are beginning to speak up and take women’s stories seriously. We still need to do better. Our country elected a sexual predator to be President of the United States. We have a long way to go.

For another in-depth take on why survivors/victims don’t come forward, Evan Rachel Wood posted this today.

 

Katie Louchheim is thoroughly disgusted a majority of the time.