#AM I NEXT

Hi loves,

Before I say anything else I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped me with this post, I really and truly couldn’t have done any of this without you. It means the world to me that you all took the time to share your thoughts and experiences with me and everyone else reading this.

All artwork in this post can be found by clicking on the images.

 

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I’ve been incredibly privileged to have my comment section be a lovely space from the time I’ve started blogging until now and I trust that it’ll stay that way. I don’t tolerate trolling or hate and this post is no exception. Please be respectful and kind. I assure you that I won’t hesitate to call you out for anything other than that.

Trigger Warning: This post covers topics like rape and rape culture, if either of those are triggering to you please don’t read any further. Resources can be found at the end of the post for anyone who needs them.

Some things to note:

Rape affects everyone FULL STOP Rape culture affects everyone FULL STOP

If you aren’t going to read this post with an open mind you might as well leave now. That being said, if you want to share your problematic thoughts go ahead, I’m trying to learn from more than just my own opinion.

A/N: Check out @redrockproject notebook open on a page entitled 'Safe Places To Go' with the street, bars, parties, friend's house, clubs, family member's house, restaurants, shopping centre, cars, ubers, buses, taxis, my house, my apartment block, police station, church and post office crossed out in red
ARTWORK BY @sweerinart Note: check out @redrockproject notebook open on a page entitled ‘Safe Places To Go’ with the street, bars, parties, friend’s house, clubs, family member’s house, restaurants, shopping centre, cars, ubers, buses, taxis, my house, my apartment block, police station, church and post office crossed out in red

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noun (mass noun)

  1. A society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault or abuse

Examples

-victim blaming-teaching people how not to get raped instead of teaching people not to rape-rape jokes-catcalling-locker room talk

o r i g i n

Rape culture was a term first used in the 1970’s by feminists to describe the normalisation of sexual violence in society and has been used by the media and public since then. However, rape culture has existed for centuries, some well-known stories of rape culture in society include the story of Medusa, Leda and Zeus and Helen of Troy.

Medusa

tells the story of a womxn who is raped by Poseidon(God of the sea) in Athena’s (Goddess of wisdom) temple. Athena punishes Medusa by turning her hair into snakes and making her so hideous that anyone who looks at her turns into stone.

Zeus

throughout Greek mythology, Zeus is highly praised for his sexual encounters with womxn. Many of these stories include sexual violence.

The Rise of Alexander The Great

Pausanias, a bodyguard of King Phillip II was invited to a banquet by the King’s father in law, Attalus. At the banquet he is raped by the King’s servants and after the King refuses to punish them he kills the king. This paves way for Phillip’s son, Alexander The Great

Helen of Troy

the Trojan War was a result of Helen running away from Menelaus(her husband + king of Sparta) to be with Paris (the son of Priam + Trojan king). In an attempt to get her back Menelaus ignites the Trojan War. Throughout the story Helen is seen as Menlaus’ property.

“I started becoming very aware of my surroundings in grade school. The hyper-sexualization of a child meant that I had to defend myself from grown men honking their car horns and calling out while my friends and I would walk across the street to go to school. I was constantly paranoid of men we’d pass by. I’ve listened to my cousin blame herself for being sexually assaulted by a guy who was interested in me. I’ve heard so many jokes about how women need to adjust their behaviour because somebody else has entitlement to someone’s body. I’ve had a partner choke me without consent, sending me into a panic attack. At one point, I thought I was fortunate to have never had anything regarding rape culture happen to me until I realized how saturated my life is with it. They were every day behaviours that I had internalized as normal as a child. All those moments of fear being around strangers or men were not nothing. So no, I don’t want a massage from a classmate. I didn’t ask for hands around my neck. When consent is rescinded, there is no consent. I am tired of having to carry a pocket knife with me wherever I go because I can not trust other people to remember that my body is not theirs to have”

S t a t i s t i c s*

Screenshot_2019-09-12-19-46-52-1.png
ARTWORK BY @ailiebanks ‘VIGILANT BITCH’ Womxn in pink walking down a sidewalk being followed by someone, their keys are between their knuckles. A missing person’s notice is stuck to a wall behind her. Two people in different windows look down below, watching as well as someone else on a skateboard.

*It’s important to note that most cases of male sexual assault don’t get reported, something we’ll be getting into in a bit

LGBTQ+

73% OF LGBTQ+ college students experience sexual violence. 51% of LGBTQ+ students who suffer sexual violence in K-12 attempt suicide. Transgender students are at a higher risk of sexual violence. Bisexual womxn report higher levels of rape than heterosexual women. 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience sexual violence.

South Africa

Over 40% of womxn will be raped at least once in their lifetime. In 2017/18 alone more than 40 000 new cases of rape were reported. Only 1 in 4 womxn will file a report against rape. Of the cases reported only 6% end up with a conviction

North America

1 in 5 womxn will be raped. For every 1000 rapes, 310 are reported. 57 reports lead to arrest. 11 cases are referred to prosecutors. 7 cases end in a conviction. 6 rapists will be incarcerated. Approximately 32 000 womxn per year are impregnated from rape.

“It really makes me question what makes humans feel it is acceptable to treat any human in this way. I don’t have any experiences like this personally, but I do know the fear too well of hopelessness. Whether it’s walking alone at night and thinking that a tree shadow could be someone following me, or going to the toilet in a club and thinking someone could corner me, or the anxiety of wanting to dress nice but knowing that it could provoke a negative reaction from the opposite sex. It’s a scary world we live in where sex is often so different for women than it is for men. For a lot of men it’s about power and dominance, and for many women it’s about a positive and enjoyable experience. I don’t understand it, and I especially don’t understand how men can use and abuse women when they have mothers and sisters and daughters who could be in the same shoes as their victim someday” @caitharnett

‘sick of this shit’ written in front of a hand clenching keys between its knuckles
‘sick of this shit’ written in front of a hand clenching keys between its knuckles

 

 

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myth

i heard it’s only rape if someone has the injuries to show for it

fact

sometimes people who are raped sustain internal and/or external injuries

and sometimes they don’t.

Many people who are sexually attacked are unable to move

or speak from fear or shock or because they are incapacitated

myth

Men are less affected by sexual assault than womxn

fact

rape and sexual assault can be traumatic for anyone who experiences them.

Gender has nothing to do with a person’s reaction.

Myth

Anyone can avoid rape by ‘fighting off’ the rapist

Fact

Many people who are sexually attacked are unable to move or protest

due to fear, shock or because they are incapacitated.

People react to sexual violence in many ways and none of them are wrong

~

“as someone with low self-esteem it’s easy to live with these advances because it made/makes me feel ‘wanted’. I was sexually assaulted as a teenager when a partner kept going even though I wanted to stop- for a long time, and sometimes even now, I felt like it was my fault because I didn’t fight him hard enough. But what if he hurt me, and took what he wanted anyway? I was too scared/inexperienced to risk it, so I let him. It took a while for me to process what happened as an assault but all these years later, learning about consent and how important it is, I realise what it was.” @anonymous

“The hardest pill to swallow for me is definitely the fact that rape culture was heavily
normalised for me at home, more so since I’m the only girl child in my family. I never
understood why my brother was allowed to walk around the house shirtless when we had female guests over but I wasn’t allowed to wear my sweaters with leggings when we had male guests, or how come my brother was allowed to leave the house for a few days
without as much as a text but, at my age of 23, I have to be home by 9pm or my mom might call the cops to report me missing.

Living in South Africa is quite something in comparison to how most of the world does
things. We’re taught that a man must keep pursuing you until you cave in because it shows his persistence and level of admiration he has for you, we’re taught to ‘submit’ to our husbands or boyfriends (if you’re not yet married) as a level of respect for the head of your relationship/ household since men apparently know better… if you want a more relatable take on rape culture in South Africa from the eyes of someone in their 20s who isn’t married and hates it when men don’t take no for an answer (seriously, I’m not Aaliyah—if at first you don’t succeed, please leave me alone): some men go to night clubs to spike women’s drinks, some go with the intention of buying women drinks to guilt trip them into leaving with them, the celebrities use their names as some sort of magic word to make girls feel lucky to even have them breathe in their direction, and when all is said and done and a girl changes her mind about who she’s going home with, 9 out of 10 times, the man’s friends will pretend not to notice it when the girl’s being shoved into a car because of entitlement and bruised ego issues on the man’s part, or when he calls her derogatory things because she stood her ground and/ or changed her mind.

Rape culture is so deeply engraved in our upbringing, it’s almost become normal for our
male population, especially within the black community, I feel. I’ve been followed around by men who wanted to talk to me, I’ve been threatened because I didn’t greet back when a man said hi to me, I’ve had guys hunt for my number to text me that they like me when I don’t even know them, I’ve been groped without my consent… I’ve been raped. I worked at a night club in 2018 and prior to this, my understanding of rape culture was standard. I understood it but not the intensity of it because of how normalised it’s become in our communities. During this time, the excitement of constantly being around famous figures may have clouded my judgement once or twice, but the longer I stayed in that environment, the more I had lots of “hang on a minute” moments that made me question, each night I had a shift,

if a) these were the types of people I wanted to be around in the media space I saw myself working in someday and b) if 500 bucks a night was worth the
blatant disrespect I experienced both personally and in passing in this popular night club.

When you work in a space that’s heavily alcoholic, knowing your values and sticking to your goals is very essential. I knew I was there to serve drinks in a sparkly dress, sway my little hips while holding a flare up for whichever guest, and smile like theirs was my favourite table even though I’d done this same routine 20 times over in the same night. I knew off the bat that I’d never compromise myself by getting involved with any co-workers or celebrity guests who found me attractive—just make my money and take a cab home as soon as 3am hits. There was one co-worker in particular who had a thing for me beyond friendship. Did I find him attractive? Absolutely, but not enough to risk my pocket money and be another name on his list since I always saw him with some girl every other night. He made it clear that he found me sexually attractive—it was in his jokes, in the innuendos he threw in when we’d be outside smoking together, in how he looked at me when I said hi and in the compliments he gave me. He even noticed the smallest things like when I’d gotten my nails done, when I’d gotten new shoes or if my makeup was done differently. Of course I was flattered. I’d been out of a relationship for some years at that point and a bit of ‘good’ attention does things to a girl’s ego but he knew I wasn’t interested in anything he had to say to me beyond the friend-zone because I’d always shut down his advances.

On my birthday that year, I’d gotten treated with a table of drinks on the house for my
friends and I and I was so excited because I’d spent all year watching other girls have their parties thrown at the club with a beautiful cake, some balloons and VIP treatment and this was finally my time. I’d gone and done my hair, my mom had gifted me outfit money and I was in a mood beyond excitement as I’d already affirmed all year that 23 would be the best year of my life. I had my drinks with my girls and danced about the club and I went outside for my usual smoke routine with my co-worker in which, as per routine, he started with the compliments and innuendos. Again, I had to remind him that I was fine and happy with how we were and I’d assumed he’d accepted it, but a few drinks later, I was laughing with him and, before I knew it, we were going out for ‘air’. I’ll spare you the details—most of which I thankfully can’t remember because of my intoxication—but I woke up at my friend’s house feeling so dirty and shocked above everything, I didn’t even stay for breakfast; the moment I got out of bed, I gathered my belongings and headed home to ‘nurse my hangover’ and shower thoroughly.

For weeks after this incident, I was depressed. I didn’t eat much and each moment I spent alone was the perfect one to cry and scream and blame myself for giving him signals that I might have been interested—maybe I laughed too hard at his jokes, maybe I smiled too much, maybe I somehow communicated that I was keen while drunk, maybe the skirt I wore that night had been too short or my breasts were too exposed. My mom didn’t notice a thing about my changed behaviour or depression. When she was at work, I was getting all the crying done and when she got home, I’d force myself to sit with the family and laugh as if everything was okay. In all honesty, I didn’t even want to leave the house—it made me feel physically sick, just thinking about being around so many people, part of the fear being that maybe they could smell it on me because there’s this belief about rape in my community that if it happens once, it’ll most likely happen again because the perpetrators could smell rape victims. One time my mom got off work early and asked me to meet her at the mall… I had to get my crying done prior to putting my makeup on to pretend to be okay. I’ve never shared this story with anyone I personally know because it embarrasses me that this happened to me—that I allowed it to happen to me. I, the victim, feel embarrassed about being victimised when my rapist is still at that club, probably doing to another girl what he did to me. I often wonder if he acknowledges what he did? Is he sorry? Does he know that I feel violated to this day?

Does he wonder about me and ask himself why I stopped going to work after that night?

When I read stories online about girls being raped and someone brings up alcohol and outfits to defend the rapist, it breaks me; I literally feel guilty and that’s probably why mystory will only ever be shared in writing on the internet until I get to a point in my life where I’m no longer ashamed… sometimes I feel like the day that men take accountability for their actions will come sooner than the day will forgive myself but I try not to think too much about the pain; I try to focus more on the fact that, in some ways, I’m speaking about it. I experienced it and, as I write this, I’m realising I’m still hurt but, guess what? This is no longer something that I allow to take up a bulk of my day. I’ve carried on as best I could and I’m ready to fight for any woman who’s gone through this ugly experience.

Rape culture to me isn’t just the act of rape. It’s the subtle jokes a man throws at a woman that he pairs with beautiful compliments that he hopes will have her cave in. Rape culture the entitlement of not taking ‘no’ for an answer. It’s when a man goes as far as paying attention to the little things she does or says—pretending to care that much—as to play the good guy card so she can fall for him and give him what he wants. Rape culture is in the fact that he’s still got his job and someone knows he has flings with girls there, but they let it slide. Rape culture is the silence around the various forms of rape and this irritating, hurtful conditioning that drunk sex is always consensual. So many people, especially in the night scene, have witnessed some act of rape but it’s become so normal for men to feel entitled to our bodies that people mind their business instead of checking on the possible rape target. Instead of society conditioning men to not rape, they police women on how to not get raped, and that’s where my anger is directed—the fact that I may never express to my friends, family or partner that I was raped because of where and how it happened to me.

As a result of my experience, I’m more self-conscious about what I wear—shorts go with
stockings or a sweater around my waist and if I show legs, I have to cover my upper body and vice versa, I take my time letting any man in and, with the recent rise in femicide statistics in South Africa, every man is guilty to me until proven innocent. The bright side of my experience is the amount of time I’ve given myself to heal and rebuild myself. Yes, I’m still ashamed and hurt, but beyond that, I’ve discovered my beauty beyond the physical because my physical self doesn’t matter much to me anymore—I want to grow from the inside. I’m more of a warrior for women and children and try to get involved in as much work based on them as I can, and in terms of my love life and dating, I’ve become better at detecting red flags and I’ve come to take my time in getting to know someone.

To say it gets better over time is literally the only hope that rape survivors have going for us. It’s a day by day task, having to convince ourselves that today will be better and that today we have to be part of the world and not feel sorry for ourselves for once. Some days I have to take a day off school to collect myself in a public place, just to remind myself that people aren’t out to get me or judge me or attack me… that people don’t care (and it’s ironic because at one point, I wanted them to care but now I find peace in knowing that I can go out for a cup of tea and sit by myself and they wont bother me). My biggest challenge as someone who has recently gotten back into dating is trusting someone enough to let them take me out and let them pay for the food/ drinks on our date because, at the back of my mind, I’ve told myself that I don’t want to owe anyone anything, and it bothers me a little that I’ll laugh at his jokes but my phone’s tracker will be on. It’s a process. On the rough days, I literally feel like I’m in a shell, merely observing my day play out with no control over it, but on my best days, I’ve forgotten about the hurt for a moment and I’m the strongest
woman I know and I love it!”

F a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t i n g t o r a p e c u l t u r e

Sexual Objectification

When you teach girls that their worth is determined by their ‘attractiveness’ you are contributing to the harmful ideology that we exist to only be consumed, that we exist to please. 

My mother didn’t carry me for 9 months so I could be your McDonald’s happy meal, get a grip luv. 

If I want to wear the shortest skirt on the planet and show off my stomach because it makes me happy then I should be able to do that. I should be able to walk to the mall without plotting escape routes. 8 year old me should never have been catcalled. 9 year old me should never have had to be told that she couldn’t go to a sleepover in case she got raped. 12 year old me should’ve been able to go for a run around the block because I liked running. 13 year old me shouldn’t have had ways of fighting off an attacker memorized. 14 year old me would like to go to the mall just once and not have to tell guys more than twice my age to f*ck off for catcalling me.

I don’t need to know I look sexy. I didn’t ask you.

The System Supports It

Every time the topic is ignored or normalized. When you don’t teach your children about consent. When you try to teach people not to be raped instead of telling people to not sexually assault others. When you slut shame or make rape jokes or teach girls to always apologize. When you make excuses for behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated. You are actively contributing to what at the time may seem like nothing, but really is more harmful than you think.

So who benefits from rape culture? I think this quote on Reddit perfectly sums up my thoughts:

“…Although not all men take advantage of these benefits, they do have the possibility if they wanted to. I think that counts as benefiting from rape culture. Whether they use the power or not does not change the fact that they have it.” Reddit 

 

Which leads me to my next point

Need for Power

Some questions to think about: Who has power? Who doesn’t? Why? How far is someone willing to go to get it?

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survivors you may know

o r i g i n

Men Are Trash was a concept brought to life by womxn in South Africa in response to the lack of action from men with regards to fighting rape and rape culture, after Karabo Mokoena was burnt and killed by her boyfriend. The hashtag aims to illustrate violence and inequality.

'Dear men step the fuck up' written in pink on a cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles‘Dear men step the fuck up’ written in pink on a cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles

t o x i c m a s c u l i n i t y, b o y s w i l l b e b o y s

& a c c o u n t a b i l i t y

toxic masculinity

  1. a social science term that describes narrow repressive types of ideas about the male gender role, that define masculinity as exaggerated masculine traits like being violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive etc. also suggests that men who don’t exhibit these aren’t ‘real men’

examples:

-the idea that real men always want sex- the idea that violence is the answer to everything- the idea that any interest in a range of things considered feminine would be emasculation- the idea that men and womxn always have to be competitive instead of cooperative-

“it is hard and frankly ignorant to deny that females are often set to a disadvantage in comparison to men”@tom

i s #menaretrash m o r e d a m a g i n g t h e n b e n e f i c i a l

“I’m a genderqueer trans man, raised and socialized as a woman. I always had the feeling that I should be able to dress how I wanted, and I’ve reclaimed that since then, but I regretted it for a long time. Men would put their hands or their phones up my dress in public. Men would follow me downtown at night. A friend invited me over to cook a meal together and catch up on a show we were watching, and he pressured me into sex until I turned non-vocal and he just took what he wanted. It got around in my friend group that I was a good lay, and didn’t interact with anyone outside of a theatre group and some online friends. I had to learn to love myself again. Now that I pass as an AMAB(assigned male at birth) person, I’m constantly shut down when I talk about rape culture, because it’s assumed I haven’t experienced it. Which is harmful in multiple ways, in that both men DO experience rape and sexual assault, and it also shows not many take into consideration the intersectionality of being an AFAB(assigned female at birth) trans person.”

“I think hashtags like #menaretrash are rooted in responses to misogyny, and that isn’t the core of why men don’t speak up. I was raised as a woman and transitioned in my early 20s, but I’ve experienced a lot of toxic masculinity as I’ve transitioned. I think at the end of it all, men are told to keep quiet when it comes to difficult circumstances, and rape/sexual assault falls into that category. Men are also generally regarded as people who are supposed to be strong and dominant, so to be put in a position of weakness or disadvantage is embarassing and humiliating.”

“Men see generalisations as an attack rather than what they are, a generalisation. We(women) never know which man is safe and therefore to us all men are risk because they could show their true colours anytime. Men don’t seem to get that though.”

w h e r e i s t h e a c c o u n t a b i l i t y

-A question we should be asking everyone

'No means no' printed on a person's lips in white in a black and white photo
ARTWORK BY @peterdevito ‘No means no’ printed on a person’s lips in white in a black and white photo

w o m x n vs m e n

or

c o m m u n n i t y vs r a p i s t s

There’s no denying that society has a long way to go in terms of addressing rape culture, but how focused are we amplifying the experiences of more than just womxn in conversations about rape?

Hear me out.

I don’t think we should stop calling anyone out. I do however, think we need to call out everyone who’s problematic. I think now more than ever it’s important to address the culture we’ve come to accept as normal. I don’t think we can do that without having actual discussions, without actual communication between everyone.

I hopped onto social media and asked the questions:

“do you think the conversation has became womxn vs men(69%) or community vs rapists”(31%) and “do you think womxn rapists are given the same energy as male rapists.(Of which 55% said no) Here are some of the responses:

“The movement causes problems instead of uniting people.”

“No not at all. I feel often times they’re given a pass and seen as heroes. A teacher from my high school was arrested for having sex with an underage student a few years ago, and the comments on social media were all praising her for taking advantage of him. Like it was some kind of fetishized game. Other times I’ve seen it said that women can’t even rape, so the men are just lying/complaining/seeking attention.

There have been flyers posted around my town recently about a woman who was having a lot of unprotected sex with young men and they were contracting HIV. She’s being accused of doing it on purpose. The flyers name her and give a general description, so people can identify if they need to be tested. I don’t agree with keeping this all under wraps. If a local man was purposefully spreading HIV around to young women, I feel there would be an uproar.

When asked if they called out problematic men, 100% of voters said yes. When asked if they called out problematic womxn, 28% of voters said no.

So why are we so quick to call out men and not womxn, and are we really making the kind of changes we need for movements like #timesup to succeed if we’re not addressing the issues within them?

I think the exclusion could be down to understanding and kind of awareness or education on the matter. I also feel like people’s response to the movement causes the exclusion(in some cases)

Everyone’s perception of it completely changes what the movement ends up being about

Are you lost written on a signpost
‘Are you lost’ written on a signpost

“Teens don’t have to join the stereotype that this messed up world has created for us”@Sarah

“Consent: A Bad Feminist Essay
I have only ever been in one relationship. I was kind of coerced into
this one relationship, too. When it started, my friend and I were out
feeding horses one night. For some reason, she knew what was happening.
The guy wanted me to go over to his place to ask me something. My friend
hinted at what it was, and I started refusing. I didn’t want to go. I
have never been a relationship girl.

I was the one who chased him. I like the attention. In fact, my senior
year of high school showered me in candies and gifts and attention
because I had control over those situations. I didn’t have to do
anything more than what I wanted (which wasn’t much, really).
So, sometimes I sit here wondering why I let myself go into a
relationship that I didn’t really want in the first place. I liked
making out. I liked the attention. I liked the air of mystery that
surrounds it. It helps keep the boys under my thumb.

But that doesn’t mean anything outside of what it was. There were never
any promises in those kinds of relationships. Slapping a label on it
meant work was involved; work I wasn’t familiar with. I didn’t know how
to handle it. All I knew is that it meant I’d have to give more. So, I
did.

On some level, I must’ve wanted this relationship. I think. I’m not
blaming anyone for it, because it was good while it lasted. I think. But
there’s something that has been bothering me for a while.
It’s a really fuzzy memory because I was on a medication that caused
short-term memory loss, and I don’t want to remember it. I remember how
I felt though. I know how I feel now —

And I feel incredibly guilty for letting it go on without saying
anything.

I’m not a professional. I can’t tell you for sure that my ex has Nice
Guy Syndrome. I am only sure, in my own head, that he does. He is a nice
guy. But he thinks he’s better than he is. I realize now that my
reactions of lashing out later on during mini “break-ups” in our
relationship was just a way of getting him to feel the way I felt when
this situation happened. I am tired of feeling like a bad feminist for
protecting his ego.

But I was scared of offending and starting a losing battle.

I lost it anyway.

What I remember is laying on my back. I don’t know what we were doing; I
can’t remember. We were in bed. Fill in the blanks, because I can only
do the same. I remember his hands going around my throat, squeezing. We
had never talked about this before. Consent! Consent, consent, consent.
Yes, we were in a consenting situation, but we had never discussed
hands-around-the-throat-choking. And I remember the sense of panic,
snapping me out of whatever was happening. I remember forgetting how to
breathe.

Because I did not consent to being choked. It was scary. I didn’t know
if he’d know when to stop. I didn’t know if he knew that I did not like
what was happening. I didn’t say anything, just pushed his arms off me
after a little while of being shocked out of my own brain. I didn’t like
it. I didn’t like it, and I don’t know if I’m still able to fully
process the stark lack of consent that was happening.
But I never said anything — and that’s what is bothering me the most
today. I want to cry knowing that there were three years I had the
chance to educate him. But that’s not my job. As the Nice Guy, he
should’ve known that a conversation was required before his hands ever
went around my neck.

I spent the next couple of years with this thought in the back of my
head, always slowly concerned that his hands would go where they weren’t
wanted. There were nights when he’d lash out in anger because I was
being annoying, where he’d hit me. There were times when I’d be so mad
that I’d slap him. Maybe it wasn’t healthy, but the times where I
retaliated against him were my ways of trying to punish him for choking
and scaring me. Because I was scared. I was terrified of what was
happening in that moment that it’s all I can remember from that
situation.

And sitting back, hearing so many of my friend’s assault stories, it
makes me mad that I never said anything. I have tried to be the
encouraging voice, the ear that listens, and the friend who loves and
supports in these situations. I educated my ex in getting tested for
STD/Is (another thing I am mad he put me at risk for), so why did I not
educate him on what he did was a disrespect of my consent? And why did I
physically retaliate?

Because as a scared woman, it is not my responsibility to fix a man. I
see two therapists and a psychiatrist. I have my own issues and demons
to work on, and now this is one of them. I’ve been told that I am not a
bad feminist, a title that I have bestowed upon myself. I had three
years to educate my ex on what he did, but I chose to protect his ego
because I didn’t want to hurt him.
Sitting back now, it wasn’t my job. I didn’t have to fix him. I have one
job, and that is to protect myself. Yes, being vulnerable is a skill to
learn, but I don’t have to be at risk. Here’s my lessons:
1. It’s not my job to fix you.
2. It’s not my job to educate you if you want to be considered an ally
3. It is my job to protect my body.
4. Consent comes before and during. Silence does not equate to yes.
5. It is not my job to fix another person.
6. Not fixing you or correcting you does not make me a bad feminist
7. It makes me a victim.
8. Being a victim does not make me powerless.

It doesn’t matter what relationship you are or are not in. If you do not
like what is happening, you have every right to “offend” the other
person for your own safety. And that is the lesson I am taking away from
being a bad feminist and not educating the boy who hurt me.” @Alex

6Being a man is not about hiding your feelings or struggles and not talking to anyone about them. It’s about taking your responsibility to yourself, your family and your community to fight back and get better. I recently met some guys who are making sure that no one has to do that alone.

They’ve risen out of the darkness and that takes more strength than keeping it all bottled up inside like the stereotypes tell you to. Just like having the strength to carry on is often braver than having the guts ending it all. To carry on is a decision you make every minute of every day. To end it all is one decision and one action. Solutions need to be found and these people I met are doing just that. They’re starting peer to peer support groups where men can come and talk to people who understand and care without judgement.

They’re not breaking taboos because it’s trendy. This is life or death. On one hand coming together is a choice, a choice that takes strength, and in the other it’s not, they would fall apart without each other.

But together they’re strong. Together they’re determined to get their lives back into their control. And those men, those men who let themselves become vulnerable are the strong ones, the ones with a future.

The importance of education

Disclaimer, maybe I don’t know enough about this subject to comment, but I’d just like to share these thoughts based on my own experiences and what I see around me. I apologise from the bottom of my heart if I misunderstand or offend anyone. Please let me know so you can explain your point of view and I can listen and learn. Thank you.

I’m a firm believer in people being held accountable for their actions and having to face the consequences, but I also think that society screws people before they’ve even had a chance in life and although that NEVER makes their behaviour acceptable, we need to start at the root, start EDUCATING people and start empowering them to believe in themselves and in others.

We need parents to teach their kids that rape jokes are not acceptable (neither are jokes about suicide, abuse, mental illness or anything else that is NOT A JOKE, that has the potential to destroy another person inside or belittles them and their experiences, also things you have no. understanding. of). We need people, especially boys and men, to wake up and see that glorifying sexual abuse or anything related to it is not cool and that standing up against that, standing up for your friends, for your family and for your fellow human beings is. We need to start teaching sex ed in a way that’s honest and accessible, not patronising, not over-complicated, not glorified. We’ve got to smash taboos like we smash targets, start talking about things in a way that emphasises empathy, respect, understanding and works towards a way forward. Only when we break down those barriers that are enforced by fear and ignorance, can we start to create change.

So education. Maybe if you’d taught that boy that girls are not an object to be sexualised when he was young, he may not have grown up to rape one. Maybe if you hadn’t messed up people’s heads with glorified violent ideas fed to them through popular media that are only amplified amongst their peers because their parents never taught them better, they wouldn’t be behind bars now. Or worse still, still free because their victim is too terrified to speak out. Maybe if we stopped shoving this narrative of ‘men are tough, men don’t show their feelings, men don’t cry’ down the male gender’s throat then they’d all be less confused. Maybe if we stopped forcing people into boxes, we’d all be freethinkers. Maybe if we stopped victim shaming, if we started seeing everyone in this messed up world as a product of a messed up society, we’d have somewhere to start.

It’s starts here, with you, with me, with everyone. Talk about this in school. At home. With your friends. Where you work. Don’t make fun of it. Don’t whisper and laugh. Don’t make assumptions. Listen and learn and play your part in making a better world. @Gracie

Things to read/watch

The Gentleman’s Guide To Rape Culture

 

7

things to look into:

~trauma centres

~EMDR therapy

WEBSITES

Sisters of Colour Ending Sexual Assault(SCESA)

Psychology Today

SGU Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi

The Breathe Network

Assistance Dogs International

Art Therapy Blog

SUPPORT GROUPS

1in6 (men)

Male Survivor(men)

Forge( trans/nonbinary people)

INSTAGRAM PAGES

@_dinahsvoice

@honeyorg

@whyikeptquiet

@projectunbreakable

@rainn

TWITTER

@NoMoreRapeMyths

VIDEOS

I’m Taking My Body Back-Rupi Kaur

Locker Room Talk -Alexis Jones

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ghostin’

Hey loves,

I haven’t written a really vulnerable kinda post in a while and it’s weird if I’m honest. This isn’t even all that emotional but it’s also the most I’ve shared about my feelings in a while.

Writing on this blog used to be the easiest thing in the world. I’d open up a draft and blurt some emotions on paper then make sure I hadn’t made any atrocious spelling errors before posting it.

I overthink everything now. A huge part of my semi-hiatus is because I’m really trying to teach myself that there is more to me than my mental illness and my problems. Being sad 24/7 is exhausting and boring and by the time I finally feel up to writing a post it’s the last thing I want to talk about but also the only thing going on.

I’ve written maybe 20 posts by now about the semi-hiatus I took a while ago. They all say the same thing in about 50 different ways: ‘I’m lost. I’m sad. Breathing is exhausting. Thanks for putting up with me.’

I’ve been listening to Ariana Grande lately. Like more than I ever have in the entirety of my life. I may or may not have cried to a couple of songs too but I feel like that’s just a part of finding new musicians to listen to.

You never really understand the hype until you’re crying to Needy at 2am and then dancing to thank you next through the tears a few minutes later.

It’s been a bizzare kind of year. It started off really great with Friday 6pm and then went downhill so quickly from there.

There’s a special kind of sadness that comes from knowing that the reason you’re sad is because the people who should care about you don’t.

That pretty much destroys you.

School has been horrible. Like yes my grades are okay but we now have tuition 2+ times a week, mountains of homework and I’m still dealing with mental illness.
I’m not about to fail or anything because I’d legitimately rather stab my eye out with a fork than have to stay an extra year here but I want to do well and I don’t see that happening…

I just don’t care.

At all.

And it’s so much harder than just telling myself I have to do well. I have zero concern for my future whatsoever. I can’t even bring myself to pretend I do.

It sounds kind of morbid but it’s kind of as simple as my main priority is making sure I don’t die, algebra can take a seat.

Pretty much nobody other than my friends understand that and I cannot possibly begin to explain how how hard that’s been.

Yes this year has been horrible but there were also so many amazing things that happened and I wanted to include them all in this post so my depressed ass can read it when I’m sad and think ‘I really am that bitch.’

some highlights:

1) FRIDAY 6PM 💛

-had the privilege of getting to know a bunch of incredible people and their stories

2) GOT A NEW PIERCING 💛

-this helped with my self harm so much because I didn’t get it to punish myself and did it as a reward.

-i now want several more piercings and nobody is willing to take me to get one because my parents don’t even know about the navel one. i’m also so very sneaky and know for a fact that I’ll definitely be getting more either way. (sorry mom)

3) BECAME A BRAND AMBASSADOR ×2💛

-the first being To The Bone

a collective started by Reagan Calwise to empower womxn

-the second being TheCramm

a news outlet started by Olivia Seltzer that makes news more accessible to millenials and Gen Z

4) #AMINEXT

-granted this one isn’t out yet but it is my second big project of the year and I’m proud of myself for working so hard on this after having such a rough time with my mental health

5)ADVOCACY

-if you don’t already follow me on IG then you should know that my stories are mostly angry and informative rants on issues around the world but I’m also working harder to be better at addressing issues and finding ways to make positive change

6) FRIENDS

-I’ve made so many new friends this year both through blogging and Instagram pods and it’s been the greatest thing ever especially as I went through a period where I had particularly bad social anxiety

So that’s where I’ve been, trying trying to not be sad.

“…and his hands? his hands keep turning into birds and flying away from him. him being you? yes. do you love yourself? i don’t have to answer that. it should matter. he has a body but it doesn’t matter…”

“I’m a girl with a whole lot of baggage”

All my love,

Adria

i’m a sad little apricot

That’s it. That’s the post.

I’m kiddding. Bad joke, I know but I feel like you can make an exception for your sad little apricot.

I’ve been in a slump for a month, nearly two. Don’t get me wrong I can tell it’s coming, the sadness and all, because that’s just how it works, I get super happy and excited and inspired and then I crash.

But it always sucks.

I dissociate, on average twice a year. It’s never been as long as it was this time and it’s never had such a huge snowball effect on my life. It started off with me feeling uninspired and lost and completely detached from my feelings and then the next thing I know everything’s too vivid to be real. Fast forward a month later(around June 12) to me posting this, because I couldn’t deal with the thought of not writing any longer and then to two days ago where after nearly two months of not feeling anything I had a breakdown.

Oh how I love my life.

Totally not appropriate sorry!

But to go from not feeling anything:

Here is my heart. Place it right in front of a wrecking ball and take a swing because I can’t feel a single thing.

Here is my heart.

Place it front of a wrecking ball and take your best shot. Make it go splat against a wall. I just need to know there’s something inside of it.

I need to know I’m not losing myself.

To feeling everything in an instant, hurts.

It was one of those major breakdowns where I immediately sent out an SOS to a couple of my friends and they responded back almost instantly and they were lovely and kind and supportive and understanding. And then I felt horrible because I still felt bad after everything. You know that scene in Mean Girls where Regina George gets hit by a bus?

I’ve never felt more like Regina George.

I didn’t want to classify this as an if we were having cheesecake post because whilst I do write about some sad stuff there, that’s not why I started it. I wanted cake humor and life updates and oh dear me, I must be cake deprived.

So here’s a very boring update for you in a few sentences because I don’t think I can write much more.

I’m sad and exhausted and uninspired. And none of my coping tips are doing much of anything and everything seems topsy-turvy. And did I mention my laptop is broken too?

If any of you have any tips for getting out of a rut or passion project ideas that I could do whilst I ‘recover’ from whatever one would call this, please let me know.

xxxChips

because i continue to disappear for months at a time (see also:does it still count as a sabbatical if I’m not Dr. Bailey??)

~🌙🌹~

champagne kisses and whispered promises shared between tangled limbs//you taste like everything i could never have and yet gazing at the cotton candied sky i’ve never been more convinced that stars can be people too//in the summer we run through the vineyard and soak up the sun it’s the kind of life that’s easy to lose yourself in//weeks feels like years that melt into forever but time slips through my fingers lately


In case reading that wasn’t a major clue, I don’t have a poetic bone in my body but I’ve been forcing myself to write for the past month.

This is the part where we pretend I didn’t disappear for a month.

I might change the title at some point (or not) and I might explain my disappearance(maybe not) but in case you were wondering I’m still here.

xxxChips

Friday 6PM ft. Cait

Get To Know Me Questions

 How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Author. Blogger. Bookworm trying read absolutely everything!

 There is a fire and you can either save your book or the last slice of cake in the world. Which are you saving?

Probably…my book!? Which might be a bad decision because I can’t eat it later…

  What some books have you read/ movies you’ve seen that have changed your life?

Despite feeling like a cliche, I truly have to say The Hunger Games! It really changed how I wrote, encouraged me to really hone my own voice, and it also opened the doors to Young Adult fiction for me. And then I had such a book hangover after it that I went looking for those lists of “what to read when you’ve finished The Hunger Games!” and that’s where I was introduced to Maggie Stiefvater, who is absolutely my favourite author. So I owe a lot to The Hunger Games!

  What are some of your biggest pet peeves?

I am super peeved when people hate on others for loving harmless things! Just let people be happy!

  How many siblings do you have?

I have five — four sisters and one brother.

  What made you want to start blogging?

I actually have to blame my oldest sister…she suggested starting a blog. And though my first reaction was “what’s a blog lol”, I did start and obviously it kickstarted a huge part of my life for me!

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General Mental Health Questions

 How do you tell if a book has good rep if you don’t struggle with mental illness?

The best thing to do is ask the opinion of someone who also has that same illness — or read their reviews! I look for other markers too. For instance, if these problematic tropes pop up, I get concerned that it might be bad rep:
(1) is the character with the mental illness built purely on stereotypes?
(2) is the illness represented only by the villain?
(3) is the character only loved after they’re cured? or are they “cured” unrealistically?

When it comes to noting if it has GOOD rep, I often find the story really loves and cherishes its mentally ill characters! If I can, I also look to see if the book is #ownvoices (ie: the author has the same illness and is writing from experience).

  Advice for bringing up the topic of mental health with a friend who is struggling?

Sometimes it’s easier to reach out through a text instead of in-person. Instead of cornering someone into telling you “what’s wrong”, make yourself available (if you can) to be a listening ear, a support. Often those of us with a mental illness feel like massive burdens, so belay that fear for us.

  My family and ‘friends’ don’t care about my mental health, what advice do you have for that?

If you’re able, find an online community to support you! I’ve met amazing people online who struggle with similar things that I do, whether it’s depression or social anxiety. Books are also a safe haven to find comforting messages. But absolutely know, no matter what, you’re not alone. You’re not a burden. And you thoroughly deserve the best life you can have.

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Autism

  What is autism?

It’s a disability with such a huge spectrum that it’s rather hard to define! But it’s usually classed as having social and communication difficulties as well as very definite sensory sensitivities. It’s something you’re born with and, no, you can’t “catch” autism or develop it.

  How old were you when you were diagnosed and what impact did your diagnosis have on your life?

I was diagnosed at 21! I’ve been autistic my whole life, but a lot of the autistic diagnosis markers are based on boys, and girls present differently. My life was really starting to unravel after highschool, a common thing for autistics who don’t transition well (like: from highschool to adulthood), and my family and I pursued answers…which turned into an autism diagnosis. Suddenly so many things made sense. It was a relief for me, a lightbulb moment. I had the information to find tools to make life easier for myself.

What is the biggest positive of being autistic?

Things I love: being intensely creative and seeing the world from a different angle. Taking such deep pleasure from small things. Being passionate and good with details and being easily accepting of other’s differences. When you’re different, it makes little sense to judge others!

 What is the biggest challenge you face being autistic?

For me, it’s overwhelm. Too many people, a change in routine, a deadline, things being too loud…my ability to tolerate them is very low and throw more than two at me at once and it’s a recipe for disaster.

  Have you had any negative reactions when people have found out you are autistic. What advice do you have for that?

The worst was being caught in an online conversation about eugenics where someone said to me that autistics shouldn’t exist. Being told you’re “defective” and the world would be better off without you is an actual gut-punch. Sometimes I think it’s best just to walk away from things like that and take care of yourself first. But if you feel able to, and have the tools, speak up. I wrote an article back, taking apart their flimsy thinking. But the whole thing did leave me shaken.

  How do I support my friends/family members with autism?

Ask them what they need! For example: the expert on my autism isn’t a book, an article, or a psychologist. The expert is me. But I’m not the expert on the next person’s autism. So let the autistic have the voice, in any way they’re able to communicate. Also read lots of memoirs by other autistics. Never act like your autistic friend/family member is broken.

  What are some things people don’t usually know about autism?

I honestly think most people know next to nothing about it! Which is why we need more accurate representations in books and media (preferably lead by autistic creators!). I find people get surprised at how many ways autistics stim (these are like self-soothing repetitive tics that we could do for hours). Usually you think autistics just flap or rock, but we have so many ways to safely stim and we love it! Touching textures, smelling things, listening to specific music, fiddling with things, dancing, finger movements, jumping.  

  How can society make things easier/ more accessible to autistic people?

Because autism is such a huge spectrum, it really depends on the individual. One thing I have deeply appreciated while beginning my career of being an author, is how my agent and editors have made communication accessible to me. I’m not great at speaking out loud, so we skip phone calls and work solely by email. Things like this make the world of difference. Don’t shut doors because you think an autistic “can’t do something”. Find another way to open the door.

 Finish the sentence, “To everyone with autism, I want you to know…”

…you’re absolutely not broken and you are epic the way you are.

  Finish the sentence “To everyone without autism, I want you to know…” 

…autism isn’t an epidemic and it’s not a bad thing and the world is made fuller with us in it!

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Writing

  Do you have a writing routine? 

I tend to write in marathon-sessions instead of everyday. So I don’t really have a day-to-day routine! Just basically: I take a few months to write an outline, then I whip up a first draft in a few days, take a break, then spend months revising.

  Advice for moments when I don’t have motivation to write?

Make sure your creative well is full! It’s hard to write if you’re only giving out creatively and not taking in.

  Favourite places to find writing inspiration?

I do so love listening to music and going on long walks.

 When did you first decide you wanted to write and why?

I blame all the books I read! My childhood was made up of piles of books and my parents encouraged creativity, so it was natural that I turned to making my own stories.

  Does it ever truly hit you, the fact that you’re a published author with fans worldwide who are inspired by you and your journey?

It’s still totally surreal! Every time someone says “Oh I loved your book!” my reaction is still, “REALLY!??!” Haha. I’m so pleased to be able to share my words and actually be able to hold my books and see them in bookstores! Never going to get over the magic of that.

  How important is it to you to talk about the experiences you’ve faced in your writing?

In my latest book, The Boy Who Steals Houses, I did write about anxiety and autism — in ways that showed the characters weren’t broken and deserved loved. That was super important to me to be able to say.

  Best tip for aspiring writers?

Keep going! It seems like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but the truth is: the more you write, the better you’ll be. So despite rejections and failed projects…always keep writing something else. You’ll get there!

  How has writing helped you manage your mental health?

Sometimes it’s been therapeutic, like when writing about anxiety. And I do love disappearing into my worlds of magic and mayhem as a break from reality.

  Do you have a preferred point of view when writing and reading?

I do like 3rd person the best, I confess!

  Do you think it’s harder to write from the point of view of the opposite gender? What changes? What stays the same?

For me, it’s not really harder? I just write people and my aim is always to get into that particular character’s shoes and figure out how they’d seen and react to the world. I feel that’s less about gender than about personality.

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The Boy Who Steals Houses

  What inspired you to write TBWSH? 

My story inspirations always come from a huge collection of things! For this one, I wanted to write a genderbent Goldilocks retelling. I also love going for long walks and since I pass by a lot of seemingly empty houses, my author imagination started to work and ask, What if a teen broke in, not to steal, but just to live while the owners were away? It fit solidly with the Goldilocks tale so I meshed them together and The Boy Who Steals Houses slowly came into existence.

  Are any of the characters in TBWSH inspired by people you know?

The De Lainey family dynamics are inspired by living with a big family myself…but I don’t pull particular characters to be inspired by real people! I would feel so awkward doing that haha.

  If you had to pick your favourite quote in TBWSH which one would it be?

“We are the kings of nowhere. We only need us.”

  What were the hardest and easiest parts of writing a #ownvoices novel?

Hardest: The pressure! Not wanting to make mistakes or badly write something that means so much to you.
Easiest: Knowing what you’re talking about! And falling into sync so easily with your characters because you know what they feel.

  Did you have any fears when writing TBWSH?

I always am scared my books are secretly horrible and will explode into a poof of dark smoke as soon as they hit the bookshelf. Just, ya know, the normal fears.

  What are some genres other than contemporary that you’d like to write in the future?

I’d love to write magical realism someday!

  What are some of the biggest influences on how and what you write about?

I’m definitely influenced by what I read, the authors I admire, and what’s happening in society.

  If you could have a sleepover with Sam, Beck, Avery, August or Moxie, who would you pick and why?

I think August would be the absolute best person to be friends with. She’s so kind and welcoming, will fill any awkward places with a smiles, and has zero judgements about anyone. She was one of my most loving characters to write and I adore her!

                                  

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy A Thousand Perfect Notes)

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Waterstones | Booktopia | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy The Boy Who Steals Houses)

Cait’s Blog

Cait’s Instagram

Cait’s Twitter

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

Lets chat (4)

xxxChips

civil war

Trigger warning:mentions self harm and suicidal ideations

On my best days I scream from rooftops. On my worst I become a shell. The opposite of everything I want to be. I wallow in my thoughts, flounder in my tears, allow myself to become prisoner to my illness. I smile and say ‘I’m okay’, I laugh, I flirt, I am the definition of beautiful madness. And then when everyone goes back to their lives I turn off the lights and bury myself under bedsheets the same way I would be 6 feet under.

And I convince my brain that I’m not okay, that I need to try my coping mechanisms and so I run my hands under cold water and draw on myself with markers till I look like artwork. The world’s definition of beauty. But my eyes betray me. Red not from hash but from war. I am fighting my own mind.

It says Drown. Recovery says Swim. I compromise Float. In between both.

It says Cut. Recovery says Colour. I compromise, Both. I cut anyway tinting my skin red.

It says Stop Breathing. Recovery says Deep breaths. I give short panicky painful I- Can’t-Breathe ones.


“The Civil War!”

“The war we fought against ourselves.”

“You actually studied this?

“I’m living it.”

a million little pieces

15/01/2019

01:46

I don’t know if I’ll get better. Or if I’ll live long enough to finish my before I die list. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friend like Leonard or meet someone who makes me feel the way reading Tigerlily does. I don’t know a lot of things.

But I do know I want to hold on. And I hope that I am strong enough to. I don’t know how long it’ll take for the scars to fade, or if I even want them to. But I do know that I live in a world where people like Leonard exist and that gives me hope.

I know nobody is planning on swooping in and saving me, for two reasons. One, I’m not a damsel in distress and two, the only person who will ever save you is yourself. I feel like that’s the only way I won’t relapse,getting better for the right reasons.

I don’t really know how to feel about a million little pieces but I know that it did something for me, and I don’t think I can quite put into words something I don’t understand yet.

But it was special, in its on way. Not like The Catcher In The Rye or Tigerlily or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, books which mean everything and more to me.

It has it’s own special place in my heart.

I want to get better. I want to get better. Fuck. I want to get better.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough.

And it’s too late for a quote stolen off of Pinterest to save me now, or maybe even for love letters to myself. I think I need to accept and move on and be analytical and firm if that makes sense?

 My mental health is still being figured out and I’ll probably be recovering for the rest of my life but I do know what I need to do to get to the point I want to be at. And if I get there and I’m not happy then maybe I’ll give up. But for now I’m holding on. Partly for myself, partly because a part of me feels like I owe it to Leonard, a man I never even knew.

But I find it cool how you don’t even have to know someone and they can change your life. Impact you in ways you didn’t think were possible. I will grit my teeth and I will slug it.

I will take the bullshit if that means someday I’ve got my own apartment doing whatever the fuck makes me happy and that list gets completed.

I will pick up the million little pieces of myself and put them back together. Differently this time. I’ll do it my way. A million little pieces, and I can be whatever I want to be.

There is no blame.

Just a choice. Yes or no. A decision, I’ll have to make over and over again. To get better.

And I hope I choose yes.

I hope I choose to hold on.

For myself. And for a man I never knew.


I finished reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey a while ago and I got the urge to write this the second I finished it.

I’m fine… I think