After watching the FYRE festival documentaries, I began to ponder some existential musings about my generation and the concept of social media that I had always acknowledged but attempted to ignore due to my snowflake heart. Most conscious citizens are aware that what people post on social media isn’t a true reflection of the person behind the screen, and just because someone’s life looks wonderful, deep down, we know it’s a façade, the filtered face of a calculated identity. But these documentaries exposing such a gross injustice forced me to think about the people involved—the perpetrators and the victims. Because they all had one thing in common—they were millennials. Older generations are quick to place blame and judge this demographic, but this documentary made me go back, go beyond the stereotypes to the genesis. Where did this generation come from, and why are we the way we are? I decided to turn to my 8-year-old self and see what she had to say. Maybe she could shed some light on this label: Millennial. She quickly responded with two stories for me to assess.
In the US, we are conditioned to believe in a few things from birth:
I devised a plan to see if, in fact, Santa was real. I had a fascination with flying saucers and aliens (no one is surprised), so I created a significantly detailed blueprint of the spaceship I desired and mailed it to the North Pole, undetected by my parents. Needless to say, I never received the gift, so I outwardly asked my parents if Santa was real. They said it was clear I already knew the answer, and we moved on. However, the thread I began pulling would soon be my fall from Grace.
When I was 7 years old, Bill Clinton was elected for his first term as President. I really liked Bill. He seemed personable, and as my parents implied, I was born a Democratic Socialist. I still don’t know what those words mean, but I guess it suggested he and I should be friends. I played the flute and thought it was super cool that this politician played the sax. How much more human can a guy seem at 7?
In 1992, my elementary school informed us about the electoral college and democracy. That November, we became ambassadors for the election. Our school held a faux-election, and Clinton won. The experience inspired me to write to the President. I thought he was so cool, so I wanted to tell him all my thoughts and dreams. I needed to tell him I wanted to be president, too, and that someday, I was going to live that dream. I asked my mom to help me mail it, and off my hopes and dreams went to the most important building in the US—the White House.
Eventually I received a letter back in return. I couldn’t contain myself as I ran my fingers over the stamped seal on the outside. I tore open the letter, and out came two pictures and a typed piece of paper. I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember what the letter said. I burned it. But not right away.
Fast-forward to the Clinton sex scandal. In the final months of 97’ into the early months of 98’, I was in 7th grade, and my existential world came crashing down. How could my hero be a dirt bag? Not only was the ideal I created of this man false, but I was convinced the President would want to speak to me personally. Why wouldn’t he? I’m awesome, and I thought he was cool. However, I was too naïve to realize the disconnect between the public and the government. Us and them.
At the end of the day, I was bummed I wasn’t special. And I was super bummed that, later in his Presidency, he lied. I learned a hard truth that day: The President is just a man. Just a man that, like all of us, is human. Every other kid in America got the same letter, and they also had the same crappy man as their president.
Here’s why I burned the letter: I realized Santa wasn’t real. It was in this moment at 13 years old I woke up, became conscious, and saw the veil of the matrix in front of me. But it didn’t end with politics. I lost my faith. I refused to go to church. I started having nightmares. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But for me, this was a defining moment in my life. If parents, politicians, and society could lie about so many things, and deem this transgression a completely normal aspect of our daily lives, what else didn’t I know? Who else was lying?
I am considered a millennial, a word I despise because it’s been given a negative connotation. We are called dreamers, lazy, unrealistic. We are stereotyped as broke kids living in their parents’ basements. We are labeled privileged, unemployed, and ungrateful. But here’s the kicker: all these adultier adults that hate on my generation raised us. They fed us these lies without question, they voted these liars into office, and they continue to do so. They bitch about the system yet despise change. Then they look to my generation to make these changes but constantly tell us we are doing it wrong. Why do people hate millennials? Plot twist: Because when they look at us, we force them to look in the mirror. To look at their teachings, their wisdoms, their failings and short-comings. This is where the heart of the millennial genesis lies—in all of us.
I think, deep down, we all want Santa to be real, and maybe that’s why older generations are so mad. Because they wanted to believe, too, just like we did. But instead of creating a divide, maybe this is the key to bringing humanity together, through the love of magic and a sense of wonder we all wish to share.
I can’t tell you how everyone else is dealing with their loss of Santa, but for me, through all the ups and downs, I’ve found hope. By watching imagined realities fall apart, I realized I can create my own beautiful world of authenticity. By watching politicians lie to the public and make horrible decisions that do not benefit the masses, I realized I can change the world, day by day, by having integrity. Surprisingly, my fall from Grace landed me in a cloud of optimism, and while that concept may be the ultimate gift and curse, it taught me to persevere, even in the face of false idols and cranky old white men. You may say that I’m a millennial, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us.
Check it out, and let me know what you think!
Last week, I started my first byline writing gig at Healthyplace.com, a website that aims to help anyone and everyone with mental health issues, relationships issues, addiction, and so much more. I am beyond grateful.
I was hired as a writer for the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. Many of you probably don't know about my past abuse. It's something I may speak of in passing when discussing my "worst relationships," but this opportunity is allowing me to dig deep and share some personal stuff in hopes of helping others safely leave abusive relationships.
In our society, it's easy to see verbal abuse as yelling, screaming, and name-calling, but abuse can be passive and sneaky. You may be the victim and not even realize it.
I hope you'll follow me on this journey through the depths of my relationships and take something from my mistakes, missteps, and misfortunes. Today, I get to own all parts of abuse, stand in my power, and help others do the same.
Here's the link to my intro!
Click Here: HealthyPlace Blog Intro
Peace and love
As a teen, I was led to believe the drugs were coming in from other countries, that we, Americans, weren’t the problem. That the rest of the world was causing drug addiction. I was led to believe that junkies were crazy people that shot up in the streets and meth addicts were something that existed far away from Boston, MA. I was led to believe the war on drugs was something our government was fighting against, that they were trying to protect us from addiction and pain and suffering. But then I had surgery.
I was 17, going into my senior year of high school. It was the last summer of being a kid without any responsibilities because the following summer, I would prepare for college life. This was my first surgery. I was terrified. But a tonsillectomy being such a common operation gave me solace. I felt everyone involved must know what they were doing, and they must have my best interest in mind.
After the operation, I felt great because they had given me a shot of Demerol, a heavy-duty pain killer found in hospitals. Come to find out, it was one of the meds Michael Jackson reportedly abused. Once I got home, the pain meds wore off, and I was in a world of hurt. I couldn’t swallow my own spit, and I was puking from the anesthesia. This was a new level of pain. However, the doctor prescribed a large bottle of liquid Roxicet. Its other name? Percocet. The bottle read: “High risk for addiction and dependence. Can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol.” Cool.
I downed the Alice in Wonderland size cup that provided me relief. But it was more than relief. I felt like I was floating. All my problems disappeared. I felt warm and protected and happy. But the happiness soon faded, as the tiny drink would send me into a downward spiral, one that kept me on the streets looking for pills and in nightclubs looking for the next high. A real-life Wonderland.
The addiction started by taking the medication as prescribed every 4-6 hours for pain. After a week or so, the pain stopped. But I didn’t stop the medication. It helped me sleep, and that became my excuse. I learned others were already abusing said medication, so I brought it around them and started enjoying the substance with others. Wow, this was fun! Or so it seemed, until I began taking way too much which always ended up with me puking my brains out. But puking wasn’t even close to rock bottom. It was simply a side effect I acknowledged.
Then the bottle ran out, but thankfully, people in my friend group knew where to get more. This time, it was in pill form. I took whatever they gave me. Sometimes they were free. Sometimes I paid. Sometimes I would just date the person and sex seemed like an easy trade. Nothing else really mattered than insuring I had at least a few pills on hand. Years later, I would come to find out I was taking OC 80s—a high dose of OxyContin. No wonder my life was such a mess.
The next few years would consist of working in nightclubs as a shot girl, a bartender, and eventually, a go-go dancer. The next few years would consist of multiple sexual partners which left me with HPV, cancerous cells and surgery. The next few years would leave me broke, uneducated, and removed from real friends and family. I OD’d in a bathtub. I hung out with big name DJs. I partied at festivals all over North America. On the outside, it looked like a movie. On the inside, I was depressed. I was anxious. I was terrified. I was exhausted. I was scared. I was confused. And most importantly, I was an addict. And I had no idea what that meant.
I can’t tell you how many times I came close to death, looking for that same high that I felt with pain killers. Ecstasy was cool, but short-lived. Vodka made me sick and violent. Adderall’s main job was keeping me functional during the day. I wanted my pain killers, but the next best thing were benzos. I would eat any pill I could find. Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin. Why? Because it took the anxiety away. It took the pain away. It took the withdrawal away. Ultimately, it took reality away. So where did that leave me? A twenty-nothing in a severely abusive relationship who failed out of college twice, who barely spoke to her family, who had no idea who the fuck she was. And honestly, the only thing that kept me away from heroin was my fear of needles.
What did I learn from three stints in rehab and a long climb out of a dark hole? All of my assumptions were wrong. My best friends were shooting up and doing meth. And they were white, privileged, had money, careers, “real lives”. Where did my drug addiction come from? Not Mexico. Not Indiana in a trailer. It came from big pharma. It came from a local pharmacy that I bought toilet paper and mascara from. It came from a doctor who was supposed to have my best interest in mind. What did I really learn from this entire experience? Capitalism will be the second fall of Rome.
Please don’t touch me.
It feels like a simple request. It feels like it shouldn’t have to be said. It feels, ridiculous. And I also feel I shouldn’t have to say please.
But even in 2019, because I am covered in tattoos, apparently, I am a petting zoo.
It doesn’t matter where I go: supermarket, bar, night club, my school. People react to my body by wanting to touch it.
And let me be clear: this is men and women, but I do feel a little less bullshit when a female touches me. And that’s a whole other can of worms regarding safety we can open at another time.
I can’t tell you how many times a man has come up to me and simply reached for my arm, some actually touching it before I could pull it away. The responses I get are incredible. I get called a “bitch” or a “whore” when I refuse to let them touch me. I have men immediately turn the tension around on me with them backtracking and demanding I read the situation incorrectly. Can you imagine that level of privilege? I don’t want to be touched, and because my response is not necessarily polite and/or matching their expectation, I am the one that is then shamed and blamed.
Now, there are people that will read this post and say, “You chose to get the tattoos. Obviously people are going to stare.” Great start. Nope. No, they don’t. They don’t have to look at me. And they definitely don’t have to touch me. And if they feel this way, then there is a level of entitlement they need to be knocked down from. (Quickly, to clarify, the tattoos are not a child’s sensation book. They are flat to my skin. THERE IS NOTHING TO TOUCH.) I’ve also received several, “Obviously you want the attention, or you wouldn’t have done that to your body,” remarks. Again, cool, but no. Not so much, little man. With this current narrative, my choice, my free will, is negated with their anger.
This is where the narrative needs revision. This concept of entitlement regarding a woman’s body. No, sir, you don’t get to stare because I look different. That’s rude. No, sir, you don’t have the right to ask or touch or even engage with me. Engagement is a two-way street, and both sides must consent. I do not owe anyone a conversation, an explanation, and especially, a physical encounter.
As I reflect on these moments, I begin to make connections to other subversive norms. It reminds me of the argument about women wearing scantily clad clothing. WHICH THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO WITHOUT FEELING AS THOUGH THEY ARE AN OBJECT. I grew up with the idea that it is a woman’s fault if something happens to her based on her clothing choices. It is on her, not the other person who may be cat calling, touching, or far worse. But if we continue to allow this premise to be true, then it means everything from touching to sexual assault is a woman’s fault. And I sure as hell ain’t living in that reality.
Think about this objectively: a woman has cleavage, and that gives someone the right to judge or touch or take? A woman wears a dress that hugs her curves, and that gives someone permission to stare and cat call? HELL to the no.
I know this isn’t a new topic. I know many women before me have written and yelled and cried about it. But it’s still happening, so here I am. Now, the solution--how do we rewrite this? One word: accountability. It’s time to hold people accountable, and I am quite thankful for all the women that were brave enough to stand the fuck up and start every movement that brings women to an elevated platform of safety and respect. I am so thankful I have myriad role models, from my friends to celebrities that are showing me I can do the same. I can stand the fuck up and call someone out for their negative behaviors. And I don’t mean chastise them, although sometimes it does come to this. I simply mean pointing out the wrong and trying to help someone find their accountability. With love, peace, and grace. Unless they’re a dick, and my safety is threatened. Then the “bitch” will absolutely come out. Without apology.
What does this have to do with tattoos? It’s all the fucking same. Just because I have them does not give anyone the right to ask about them, touch them or simply judge my character/integrity. If I wear a short-ass skirt, it means the same damn thing. We don’t walk up to people and ask, why do you have that mole? Why is your hair brown? Why are you choosing to wear a collared shirt today? Those are asinine questions. As should be the ones directed at myself and other women on a daily basis. If you disagree, I ask that you dig deeper into WHY you think one behavior is okay and not the other.
People need to start taking responsibility for their actions and acknowledge that a woman’s body is sacred. And no one outside of that woman is owed shit. Leave the pregnant woman alone. Leave the confident-ass female with her amazing boobs alone. Leave the girl with pink hair and piercings and tattoos and fur coat alone. Smile at her, but realize she’s a doctor, soldier, a teacher, a lawyer, a mom, barista, a tattoo artist, a grad student, an addict. She just had a long-ass day at work. She just dealt with abuse at home. She just got a promotion. She just landed her dream job. She just got married. She just finalized her divorce. She is MORE THAN WHAT YOU SEE. And if you want to start a conversation with a woman, it’s easy. Start with “hey,” and ask about something beyond her physical appearance.
To all the women that have suffered this fate: stand the fuck up. If you feel uncomfortable, say it. You are in the right. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That’s old programming.
To all the men reading this: I’m just asking you to take a look at your behaviors and become more cognizant of how you treat women. Maybe you’re a good dude. Cool. Maybe you’ve made some poor choices in the past—no worries; we all fuck up. But stop that shit. And if you’re the dude that isn’t doing this shit, you have the most important role of ALL—negating this perpetuation. If you see a friend/another man doing something like this, tell them to knock it off. If you do and say nothing, then are you not an ally. Remember that. Help us help you!
I’m not the feminist that says all men are bad. I am the feminist that simply wants to point shit out so we can start rewriting how women are perceived and treated. Because EVERYONE on this planet, no matter how you identify, no matter what you wear, should be treated with light, love, and deep-seeded respect.
I used to wear makeup to work. Every day. And it took me what feels like a lifetime to answer the question why? There are the obvious reasons: I want to look good. I should look good. I look more put together when I wear it. I feel better about myself when I wear it. But that rabbit hole starts to get reaaaaaaal dark if you keep climbing down. Wait, why does makeup make me feel better? Don’t I look good without it? But society dictates…and so on.
Why did I stop wearing makeup? Because I fucking felt like it.
I remember when I started to fade out makeup use. I got a lot of, “Ms. C, are you sick?” “You look tired today.” “Is everything okay?”
Cool. This is helping, she said, sarcastically.
Can I blame them? No.
Okay, I absolutely did for a minute. Because wtf. If you don’t have anything nice to say…but that was the turning point—people believe this behavior, these comments, are nice. The question “are you okay?” comes from a place of concern. But really, it comes from a place of subversive norms.
And that’s where the rabbit hole takes you. And if you keep going down that aforementioned rabbit hole, you can see why. In the 90s, all my favorite catalogs, yes catalogs, featured grungy, punk, goth-style females that weren’t airbrushed or covered in foundation. Delia’s, Alloy, Zoe. I miss the 90s…Fast-forward to 2019, and we are living in a completely different marketed world. Between filters on Snapchat/Instagram and every airbrushed/botoxed celebrity, how can a female FEEL good every day simply being themselves?
To be clear—I will never put down a woman for modifying her body. And I actually love putting on/wearing makeup. I’d like to point out I have myriad pictures on this website that are airbrushed and creatively inspired. And I love them. My best friend and I had a blast working on these creative shoots. But what have I learned over 34 years? They are just that—an artistic expression—a moment in time that does not need to be fulfilled every day I get up and leave my house. And that’s the takeaway. I stopped letting it control me. The feeling of “have to.” The feeling that people won’t like me or care about me without my mask. Because that is MY personal takeaway. I was being controlled by an external force, and my intentions were driven by fear.
Sadly, it feels true and is often reinforced on Instagram. I get the most “likes” from filtered selfies. I get the most responses from pictures with loads of makeup. And that’s okay. Now. After a lot of self-work and self-worth.
But to those that are still struggling to find the balance between I love myself/fuck makeup, and I will NEVER leave the house without it, here is a reminder: it’s okay. It’s okay to wear it. It’s okay to not wear it. It’s okay to wear it every day. It’s okay to wear it on a special occasion. But if the conversation in your head is fueled by negative self-talk and societal standards based on fear, it’s also okay to start exploring the why, just as I did.
Check out my inspiration page for some books that can help you feel better about all of your choices, no matter what those choices look like for you. But at the end of the day, no one should feel they “have to” do anything. Especially if that negative “have to” is coming from your own damn mind! Except maybe go to work…we gotta eat, right?
But that’s why I stopped wearing makeup. Because now, I get to sleep in longer and call myself beautiful every day, in a way I never thought possible. Free your mind. Free your heart. And free your damn face.
[If you are the person that needed to hear this, please leave a comment! Even if it’s a simple smiley face. If you hated this, please leave a comment. Even if it’s the middle finger emoji.]