Sunday, 14 January 2018
We struggle with mental illness. At some point you will meet someone, love someone, give birth to someone, parent someone have parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws etc, with a mental illness or a multitude of mental illnesses. Life doesn't stop and you do not get a do over card. The line has been crossed from normal, everyday life to crisis in all of a few moments.
How do you respond? I know as a parent, I did not do well for a multitude of reasons, my own state of mind, my own physical illness and lack of energy, and just having enough to deal with on a day to day basis by having three children within a three year life span. All you moms out there are nodding your heads. You get it. You work full time, have three kids you love beyond reason, you may be struggling with depression and Fibromyalgia as I was, plus you still have a home to run, appointments to get to, school work to monitor and teach (more about that later), family commitments, trying to sell a house and BOOM.....one child struggles and starts acting out, another threatens to run away from home and the third is dealing with his own hell because of Autism.
It was a low, low point in my life. I struggled with anger, frustration, compassion, and right back to anger again. My husband and I both came from abusive backgrounds in our childhoods. Mine more so than his, although abuse is abuse and the effects never go away. Ever.
When we met, we swore if we had kids we would treat them with respect and love and teach them values and have open communication with them. And we did. We had the family suppers (my husband rarely had experience with that growing up), I walked the kids to and from school four times a day, made lunches, and we talked, we had love and hope and things seemed normal. At least to me. We struggled with money (who doesn't) but we never tried to let that affect the kids. We gave them what we could. I took up knitting and sewing to save on clothes. Our house was the house in the neighbourhood that was always filled with kids. We had enormous sleepovers and friends coming through and I thought it was fine. Except it wasn't. I had no idea the the normal teenage hormones and moodiness was not normal, but actually depression. I misread the signs. I thought the acting out, the over sensitiveness, the temper tantrums were a normal reaction to what was going on in the teenage body.
At the same time, the kids grew more distant and relied on their peers for guidance and advice and turned away from us, as parents. Wow, did that hurt. And nope, I did not see that coming. I was under the misguided impression that if you raised your kids right, showed them love and respect, that everything would turn out great. I know from my own childhood of severe, daily chronic abuse, lies, deceit and humiliation, that that was not the way to raise healthy people. So I fought my own demons, while trying to raise our children in a healthy manner. That is where the anger kicked in. Our children had a family that loved and respected them and still it was not enough. Where did I fail? How did I not see the inevitable train wreck that was in the forefront all the time? How did I miss the one moment that could have changed a loving family into one that wasn't speaking to each other? Where was the village to help me raise my child?
The schools offered no help whatsoever. Neither did the psychiatric profession, when we were finally able to access their services. And the police were the catalyst that got my son into a treatment facility. That went okay for about a minute. And then life just spiralled out of control. My depression came back a thousand fold. I could not help myself or my children and I felt like a complete idiot for not knowing what the next step was, or even where to find the damn portal to the next step. I was angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed and deeply hurt.
My husband turned to silence. It was the only way to reign in the anger, because if he spoke, he would lose it. So, instead of causing further damage and for fear of having our children run away from home, we walked on eggshells around each other and them. We hardly spoke, I cried every single night trying to rack my brain on how to fix THIS. But, there was no fix. There was no amount of talking, therapy, medication or intervention that helped. All there was, was time. Awkward, angry, stress filled time that lead to more damage and more ruined moments.
Jump ahead three decades and we are right back to that spot. My granddaughter deals with depression and suicidal ideation, and I feel like I have learned nothing, and I feel like I will never have a normal, happy life. It's all one big train wreck waiting to happen all over again.
The anger came back, the fear, the frustration. I have always said I have wanted to run away more times as an adult than I ever did growing up. And I thought about that daily.
We, as a society have failed miserably over the past four decades at raising strong, healthy people. Our mental health system is a failure. Our Justice system is a failure. And our medical system is a failure, and our education system is a failure. Not to mention our own families.
Growing up in a small town or village, everyone knows everyone else's business. We were like that growing up on military bases living in PMQ's (Personnel Married Quarters). It was our insulation from the world. We had an entire community looking after our kids. And then the PMQ's were sold and became privatized. One connection and link that brought everyone together was now severed.
We moved into civilian life. We went from a social support system to a place where no one knew who we were or cared. The schools placed more work on us by having our already strained times together now a battle field where we, as the parents were expected to teach our children what the schools did not have the time or the resources to teach. Guess what? We didn't either. We neither had the skills or the education to teach what our kids needed to know.
The mental health system could not fix our problems because the acting out and threatening to run away was not a priority for them. And it took months to get any kind of help. By that time the damage had already been done. We did not have grand parents or aunts and uncles to help. We did not have the school support, and now mental health services was no option. What little they did provide did nothing to help the brokenness we had become.
The inevitable happened and things became so much worse. Our children derailed. And I felt like a trauma surgeon in the desert using string and gum to stop the hemmoraging while another patient lay dying on the next table. I felt like the universe was one colossal joke right from the start.
BAM, here have a severley abusive stepfather and helpless, non-existent mother. BAM, get torn from your native land and move to a foreign country, lose your native language, learn English and forget about your culture and lose all your family back home. BAM, deal with severe sexual childhood abuse from the age of three to 18, and have zero support or help, but maintain your grades and keep that smile on your face or the beatings will continue. Run away from home at 17. BAM, here now you are pregnant at 20 (by choice) but now this is going to kick in your fear, flight and fight response into overdrive because of said childhood, but you had no idea this was going to happen. BAM, have a mental illness that you cannot climb out of for any amount of want or wishing. BAM, throw in a military move to the very community where your abusive parents live and they want access to your little girl. BAM, throw in severe post partum depression following the third child.
Life coasted until the kids hit puberty, then the meterites struck once more. BAM, your child is Autistic and will never be a fully functional adult. BAM, your other child has severe ADHD and we cannot help him. BAM, your third child is going through PUBERTY FROM HELL, but carry on. BAM, one of your children is being beat by their partner. BAM, have fibromyalgia, BAM, teenage pregnancy, BAM another teenage pregnancy, BAM, have another child turn to alcohol and become self destructive. BAM, lose your job.......coast....BAM have a brian aneurysm. BAM, son is now in an abusive situation with his partner......BAM, raise two more children after thinking this was your time togeher with your husband......it never ended.
I fought every single day for myself, my children, my marriage and my sanity. I was rushing from one fire to another, one trauma to another, and I felt I was doing it on my own. There was no outside intervention for me. My child who was being abused by their partner was told to have a restraining order. We all know how that works. It doesn't. Every two hours, another women is murdered while having a restraining order in her purse. Every two hours. Around the clock. Thankfully, my child survived that horrendous ordeal. But then my son was in an abusive relationship. He fixed that after years of trying, to no avail, to fix her and himself. Countless hours and time we would have one or both crying on our couch, at the same time they were going through therapy. The marriage ended. He moved on. But he also moveed onto another abusive relationship. I lost him three years ago.
Now, here today we struggle with a 15 year old who wants to die. And it kills me. Every square inch of my body feels like it has been scraped raw with a serrated knife. But something positive has happened. I have learned a lot in the past five decades. I have studied and taken courses and worked with mental health issues to help others. And while I am tentaivley hopeful, I am not 100% safe. I do not think I will ever be safe. Or have a life where I wake up and feel, hey this is okay. It finally took the help of medical science and natural drugs to get to a point where I am no longer depressed on a daily basis, but that was a short lived, three month reprieve. With this new generation of mental illness, I am not depressed, but merely surviving. And waiting.
I talk with my grandchild. Give her coping skills I never had to give to my children, and she is staying with us. We have metnal health intervention...in a month. Wow, nothing has changed. And I hang on by my fingernails waiting for the next meteor to strike.
A few things are different. I am much older and much more tired. I am much stronger. I have many more skills. But I wonder if this will ever become the fairy tale life I envisioned. I am beginnig to lsoe hope. I think my fairy Godmother is drunk, or on Meth. My Guardian Angels are watching movies and binge drinking, and the Universe has told me, quite plainly, that this will be as good as it gets. The good things are my amazing husband, my dogs, I am employed, I have a house, I have food. And I need to remind myself every single moment to never lose sight f the important things in your life. Your love, your kindness, your compassion.
The other side of this though, is the impact on my work/life balance. Because I need to be so hyper vigilant and sensitive at home, at work, I do not have the pateinec to deal with issues and problems in the workplace. I struggle. I do not suffer fools in the workplace. Or excuses, or laziness. I have zero patience for stupidity or endless reasons about why you cannot finish a project on time, on budget and on scope. My life at home leeches into work and I am all out of spoons. I know I need to get a grip on that, and I fight every single day not to give in the "What the hell is wrong with you" speech that I say it in my head.
Fortunatley I had the amazing opportunity to take a course about difficult conversations. It was an incredible experience and will give me more tools to reign in the monster that demands perfection at work, but more so, it gives me the skills to adress important issues without resorting to violence. No, not the stabby kind of violence, but the violence as in sarcasm, frustration, abrasiveness, and low tolerance for bad behaviour. Instead, it allows me to speak to individuals about issues I see, and about accountability.
This is a real coup. Because of the way I was raised, I can smell BS a mile away. I can see behaviours that others write off as benefit of the doubt. I can read the body language of manipulation and, hopefully now have a way to adress it without the other person resorting to the coping skills of their childhood. The benefit of this course is you are the only one that needs to take this in order for it to work. And I think this will pay off in spades. I used it with my grandchild. I will use it at work, and I use it in my practise with trauma survivors.
All I know is we are all alone. We may think we are together and have support systems in place, but in the grand scheme of things I have learned we are born alone, we live with mental illness alone and we will die alone.
Today, I am okay with that.
Monday, 1 January 2018
What is horror? For me it is unlike any other genre of writing. Horror is an emotion. Itis not tangible. It is something felt in the back of your mind, and in the base of your spine. It creeps up on you gently, lovingly, one step at a time. You flinch and it backs off to give some breathing room and then starts the journey once more. It takes you in to envelop you in a cocoon of safety, before you see the fangs, and the darkness hits. No other genre creates such raw, powerful, visceral responses as horror, and that leads me to my second circumspect view.
What is considered horror? Does criminal psychology fall into this category?
Fears? Phobias? Everyday life? My background in studying human behaviour for
leads me to give this question a resounding yes.
Criminal behaviour and psychopathy definitely fits the horror motif.Any normal parent that raises a psychopathic kid will tell you, evil exists.
And yes, the professors and doctors will state emphatically that children cannot be
psychopaths. They are wrong. Psychopathycan be witnessed in kids as young as six
and by the timethey are teens, they are well on their way leaving a path of
destruction and chaos behind.
As a kid I devoured books on vampires and werewolves. I was not a big fan of mummies, but Egyptology held me spellbound for days.The idea of being buried alive next to the King fascinated and horrified me at the same time. I could picture vividly, the dead king tomb,
waiting to die.
Being raised Catholic for six short years really instilled my fear of demons and Satan. Whatever you say about Religion or Catholicism,it can raise the most amount of fear in the shortest time frame. Having extrapolated myself from the Catholic Church by the time I was seven because of the misogyny and patriarchal views, five decades later, I still fear and am attracted to the Rite of Exorcism. The fingers of the Church run deep. I admit, these stories always hold a special part in my heart.
This year’s list has some special people on it; people I love to read and admire and have grown very fond of personally, and to my great delight, people I have never read before.
I started The Solstice List© six years ago. I was new to the Horror Writer’s Association and it always bothered me that only certain authors were getting recognized. I understand the association has their rules, and rightfully so. But I was reading all these great books by unrecognizable people and it bothered me they were not getting the recognition they deserved. Some did not belong the HWA, and others didn’t know about the HWA. And some of these books were published in the past so were not eligible for the HWA.
I wanted a forum to recognize great writers regardless of publishing date, so I created this list to honour those writers. I had a few rules: must be edited and must hold my interest (yup, that’s subjective). I read a lot, and if get caught up in the grammatical errors, typos and plot holes, I lose interest real quick.
What turned me off were writers saying ‘hey I got this book, don’t have time to edit it, but buy it anyway.’ As an Indie book lover, for the love of all that is holy, do not think you are the only writer that does not need editing. For, my love, we all do.
The Solstice List© 2017 The Best Horror Not to Be Missed.
1. ED AND LORRAINE WARREN IN A DARK PLACE: Ray GARTON
The story of the most terrifying case of demonic possession in the United
States. It became the basis for the hit film “The Haunting in Connecticut”
starring Virginia Madsen.
Shortly after moving into their new home, the Snedeker family is assaulted by a sinister presence that preys one-by-one on their family. Exhausting all other resources, they call up the world-renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren—who have never encountered a case as frightening as this…
No one had warned the Snedekers their new house used to be an old funeral home. Their battle with an inexplicable and savage phenomena had only just begun. What started as a simple “poltergeist” escalated into a full-scale war, an average
American family battling the deepest, darkest forces of evil—a war this family could not afford to lose.
2. PIG: Craig SAUNDERS and Edward LORN
A quiet town, the kind of place old folk go to watch the sea roll in and the years roll out.
The kind of place guys like the man in the pig mask can make an easy dime, or an easy
An ancient entity...
An inhuman intelligence crawls up the shore and sprawls over Pointvilla. A thing
capable of stealing bodies, and drawing minds into one, into it - the MIND. An
intelligence pulling Pig Mask inward as others swirl around Pig himself, like he’s a
planet, a force, and the rest are drawn by gravity.
Ray and Bill are kin. The entity might understand loneliness, and the drive to
consume and kill and torment...but it doesn’t understand brothers and sisters.
It doesn’t understand siblings. Some people are tied together by more than blood.
In a town at one with the Mind, survival comes down to brothers and sisters
and old dudes with a penchant for good weed.
3. THE NIGHTLY DISEASE: Max BOOTH III
Sleep is just a myth created by mattress salesmen. Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel
somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is sick and tired of his guests. When he
clocks in at night, he’s hoping for a nice, quiet eight hours of Netflix-bingeing and occasional masturbation. What he doesn’t want to do is fetch anybody extra towels or dive face-first into
somebody’s clogged toilet. And he sure as hell doesn’t want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies. But hey…that’s life in the hotel business.
Welcome to The Nightly Disease. Please enjoy your stay.
4. BURIED IN BLUE CLAY: LL SOARES
Reddy Soames, has arrived in Blue Clay, Massachusetts to write a book about the local urban legends. He's been communicating with several people by email that he thinks are crackpots, with the intention of interviewing them. But soon, the book becomes secondary, as he enters the orbit of a
mysterious guy who goes by the initials HEK.
HEK is something of an underground legend, and it seems like he has a hand in everything that goes on in Blue Clay, behind the scenes. After a while, it becomes clear to Reddy that HEK is grooming him for some future role.
Along the way, the secrets of Blue Clay are opened up for Reddy, as he becomes aware of the truth behind the legends. A truth he will wish he never unearthed.
5. SINKHOLE: Kenneth GOLDMAN
The slug-like Wogslȗk are in your head. Oh, maybe a familiar song might connect you with what little remains of your former self while your brain dissolves on its stem. But in the end the creatures will have you and all your memories too -- and they’ll have your soul in the bargain.
But young Zachary and his beautiful stripper pal, Tiffany, know what lurks beneath the cul-de-sac called Diamond Loop, and they know of others who had discovered the Wogslȗk many years earlier in a small New Mexico town.
They know how it ended for them. Now the Wogslȗk have returned. They’re stronger, they’re smarter, and they’re determined to get inside your head.
Sing if you must. It may seem your last chance.
But it won’t help...
6. THE UNFLESHED: THE TALE OF THE AUOPSIC BRIDE: Lisa VASQUEZ
Young Morrigan, the daughter of a local aristocrat, is full of innocence and life. Angus Wulfe is an eccentric and devious doctor who stalks her while he cultivates a plan to win her affection. Their two worlds collide in a grisly twist of fate when the Plague arrives on the shores of their town.
With no cure in sight, and bodies dropping incrementally every day, the doctor uses his influence, along with his reputation in medical advances - stemming from his clandestine and macabre experiments-to manipulate Morrigan’s father. In return for her hand in marriage, the doctor would save her life. Clinging to life, Morrigan begins to feel a change. Has the doctor cured her, or did her father make a deal with the Devil?
7. LEERY LANE: Lori R. LOPEZ
Have you ever kept a secret from even yourself? On one rainless electric night, Frieda Noff will learn the truth about her past, her relationship with her sister, and her hometown’s darkest secrets. It is All Hallows again, twenty years after she went down that fateful gauntlet of haunted houses as a
Trick-Or-Treater. She’s finally back, perhaps to stay this time.
A young woman is confronted by the ghosts of her demons when she must return to Leery Lane, the dead-end where she lost an important piece in the puzzle of her past. She and her sibling haven’t spoken in two decades, since that terrible Halloween when Frieda borrowed something that
belonged to Francine without permission. She feels that she needs to remember what it was and find the object of contention, somewhere in a row of decrepit Victorians, to repair the rift between sisters. But some secrets are better left buried. A witty blend of Gothic Horror, Humor, Supernatural and
Mystery, Leery Lane is a ghost story to curl up with and savor. Take a walk you won’t be able to forget on the creepy side of town . . .
Look for an Illustrated Print Edition with macabre artwork by the author!
1. BLOODEYE: Craig SAUNDERS
Keane Reid is tired of living. He's bored life ever since the mysterious death of his wife seven years earlier...but when he's called to a routine job at a local pub, he discovers the corpse of a young girl
crucified and nailed to a wall, her eyes torn out and a third eye carved into her forehead. Keane's seen this mark before, and soon his life is thrust between the present and past, reality and fantasy, darkness
and light. As Keane loses his grip on sanity, a long-forgotten shadow begins whispering to him once again, ushering him toward the void, where the ghosts of his past reside, waiting to show him
what truly lies behind the veil.
2. RELATIVE YULETIDE: Martin REAVES
Christmas. The world has been taken over by festive zombies, but even they won’t eat fruitcake…crap, that’s not it either. Oh wait, I remember!
Nick Grimmer and Alex Tinkham have been through a lot. They’ve seen humanity at its worst. But nothing prepared them for what they were about to witness this Christmas. Relative Yuletide will shock you, and rock you to your core, making you question everything you thought you ever knew. Nah, it won’t do any of those things.
It’s a story about Christmas. Interesting things happen.
Look, maybe you should just read it.
3. NIGHT TERRRORS BASED ON TRUE EVENTS: Tim MILLER
Lenny used to sleep like a baby, now he can’t sleep at all. What started out as a slew of nightmares, morphed into a real life horror show. At times, standing over him, or moving just out of the corner of his eye.
That thing you didn’t think you saw is real. He is the Shadow Man. He’s always there, always watching. You never know when he will appear to tear apart your reality. There is no escape and no mercy from the blood he will shed.
This story is a collection of police reports, sightings and Lenny's personal notes and journals as he tries to cope with his Night Terrors.
1. KILLING IT SOFTLY 2
The Best by Women in Horror
The first ‘Killing It Softly’ was just the tip of the iceberg…
Beneath the icy depths of this next installment, you’ll be plunged into a world where 38 female horror writers give you a glimpse of their inner-demons, unleashing the hell-fire they suppress in the ‘real’ world. It will disturb you to discover what really lurks inside their minds, because many of these stories delve into pain that can only be experienced by women—leaving you unhinged as you curl up with them during their darkest hour.
Post-partum depression, hoarding, anorexia, and mental health will be brought to light when viewed through the shadowy perspective of cognitive deception.
Sci-fi, romance, steam-punk, and fantasy intertwine with horror to deliver unsettling, chilling stories; traditional tales of witches, zombies, werewolves, and vampires will be told in twisted new ways that will shock, unnerve, and even repulse you…and within these pages, sometimes new monsters will arise from the ashes.
You may even discover that women can not only write good horror…but in some cases, can do it better.
Part 1 – Another Space, Another Time
The Whims of My Enemy – Amanda J. Spedding
A Moveable Feast – Jenny Blackford
Softly into the Morning – L. D. Colter
Whispers in the Wax – Tonia Brown
The Screaming Key – Lillian Csernica
Framed – Diana Catt
Bloody Rain – Rie Sheridan Rose
The Idlewild Letters – H.R. Boldwood
Kristall Tag – Holly Newstein
The Adventure of My Ignoble Ancestress – Nancy Holder
Part II – Monster Party
The Devil’s in the Details – Stacey Longo
Octavia – Chantal Boudreau
The Skeench – Debra Robinson
Sandcastle Sacrifices – Jennifer Brozek
Unfilial Child – Laurie Tom
Milk and Cookies – M.J. Sydney
Figaro, Figueroa – Karen Heuler
Scarecrow – Vonnie Winslow Crist
A Great and Terrible Hunger – Elaine Cunningham
Part III – Cognitive Deception
Belongings – Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Evil Little Girl – Barb Goffman
Blue – Julie Travis
The Devil Inside – Shannon Connor Winward
Shining Brook and the Ice Moon Spirit – Jean Graham
Damaged Goods – Lindsey Goddard
Project Handbasket – Rebecca J. Allred
Behind the Eight Ball – Lena Ng
A Faithful Companion – Deborah Sheldon
Omega – Airika Sneve
Part IV – The Changed and the Undead
Little Fingers – Christine Morgan
Golden Rule – Donna J. W. Munro
Fifth Sense – Tina Rath
Cycle – Rebecca Fraser
The Hand of God – Gerri Leen
Vile Deeds – Suzie Lockhart
The Holy Spear – Barbara A. Barnett
Skin and Bones – Rebecca Snow
Death Warmed Over – Rachel Caine
2. Zippered Flesh 3: Weldon BURGE
What horror anthology on body enhancements wouldn’t include gross-out fiction?
This book has it in spades. But, this collection of stories goes far beyond that. Here you will also find science fiction, surreal fiction, fantasy, and even a full serving of dark humor. Disturbing, perverse, often gut-wrenching (pun intended) stories—all between the covers of this anthology!
Nineteen chilling tales by some of the best horror and suspense writers today.
Definitely not for the squeamish!
"Hardcore horror that ranges from the socially relevant to the scatologically
repulsive—the shock here is like 'The Scream' made flesh."
— Mort Castle, editor of On Writing Horror:
A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association
"In Zippered Flesh 3, Editor Weldon Burge has done a masterful job of combining
work from well-known masters like Jack Ketchum and Graham Masterton with
newer writers. But it is the original work by newcomers like L.L. Soares and
Meghan Acuri that stands out for me. ... Highly recommended." —
Gene O'Neill, author of The Hitchhiking Effect: A Retrospective Collection
"'Closer by Charles Colyott is a wonderfully poignant and romantic story. ...
'Going Green' by Christine Morgan is so original, timely, and well-written it
deserves special mention. ... Kudos to Burge for putting together another fine
anthology of cutting-edge fiction." — Paul Dale Anderson,
author of The Instruments of Death series
Billie Sue Mosiman — Horns, Teeth, and Knobs
Shaun Meeks — Upgraded
Christine Morgan — Going Green
Jeff Menapace — Worm
Adrian Ludens — Reduced to Tears
William F. Nolan — A New Man
Jason V. Brock — Transposition
Jack Ketchum — The Rose
Daniel I. Russell — Consume
Jezzy Wolfe — All Will Turn to Gray
E.A. Black — Invisible
L.L. Soares — And the Sky Was Full of Angels
Meghan Arcuri — Shopping Spree
Charles Colyott — Closer
Graham Masterton — Dog Days
Jasper Bark — Switch
Martin Zeigler — Hypochondria
Sandra R. Campbell — Gehenna Division, Case #609
James Dorr — Golden Age
3. TOYS IN THE ATTIC: Mary Genevieve FORTIER
Imagine… An old house; one that has stood many generations. WAITING…
You step inside and begin to explore. Was this a good idea? You begin to
doubt, but continue to step deeper within the eerie darkness. Something
stirs above. Should you investigate? Wandering, you reach the second
floor landing. In the center of the upstairs hall, directly above, you
discover a trap door. You know, the one that leads to something so
terrible, you dare not think to touch it, much less attempt to
open the latch! Nevertheless, you are drawn to inspect further.
Something is stirring above… of this, you have no doubt. You stand
upon tiptoe, stretching as far as your fingers will allow, until you grasp the
cord attached to the door. With a loud creaking, it opens, releasing a set
of stairs, descending before you. Gazing up, there is nothing but a black
hole. There! Again! That stirring! Against your better judgement, you
begin to climb. Sweat forms upon your brow with each step, as your
stomach turns sour. Still, you climb. Those few stairs feel an eternity
to ascend. There at the top, nothing. Dark and empty… nothing.
Your eyes adjust… Wait! Beneath the cobwebs and years of layered
dust, stands a long, wooden chest. Is it locked? Hmmm… You
step within the musty room. There, propped against the side of the
chest, an old metal rod. You pick it up, using it to pry open what
should have been left locked away, eternally. Toys! Old toys!
Somewhere in the darkness, a melody plays, soft and haunting.
A music box?
NO! A small carousel is moving beside you, its once colorful horses
bobbingin time. You look about. There are toys everywhere! Old,
broken, forgotten toys fill this attic room. A doll, cracked skull,
hairless, limbs askew, stares from behind one eye, the other an
empty, hollow socket. A rocking horse begins to sway in the corner.
Toy soldiers, their green metal chipped and rusted. How odd; they
appear in battle stance, staring… Suddenly, the trap door closes.
Darkness… the stirring… These toys… You know why they have
been locked away. You stand among evil incarnate. The melody stops.
No one hears your final cries…
TOYS IN THE ATTIC: A COLLECTION OF EVIL PLAYTHINGS is an
anthology of horror like no other. Step inside…WELCOME TO THE ATTIC
4. TOY SOLDIERS: Stacey TURNER
In the world of Satan's Toybox, no toy is ever what it seems, and toy soldiers
are no exception. Plastic army men, GI Joe and tin soldiers offer a place to
work out your aggressions on an imaginary battlefield. But what if the
battlefields are real and the toy soldiers have aggressions of their own?
In this volume, the second anthology in the Satan's Toybox series, there
are nineteen horrifying tales of epic battles, gruesome casualties and a
heaping dose of revenge. From ancient Egyptian warriors protecting
a tomb to Nutcrackers gone wrong, these are not the toys you
remember. So, "Aten'hut! Fall in! Forward March!"
Follow us into the Toybox and straight to Hell.
1. SWITCH: Jasper BARK
2. ALL WILL TURN TO GREY: Jezzy WOLFE
3. INVISIBLE: EA BLACK
4. UNSEEN: Suzanne MADRON
5. SIRENS: Dallas MULLICAN
6. FOR SALE OR RENT: Suzanne MADRON
7. WORM: Jeff MENAPACE
8. UPGRADED: Shaun MEEKS
9. A NEW MAN: William NOLAN
10. SHOPPING SPREE: Meghan ARCURI
1. THE SCIENCE OF VAMPIRES: Katherine RAMSLAND PHD
Are any vampire myths based on fact?
Bloodsucking villain to guilt-ridden loner—what has inspired the redemption of the
vampire in fiction and film?
What is Vampire Personality Disorder? What causes a physical addiction to
another person’s blood?
Are there any boundaries in the polysexual world of vampires?
How could a vampire hide in today’s world of advanced forensic science?
What is the psychopathology of the vampire?
What happens in the brain of a vampire’s victim?
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Horror Guide to Northern New England is a map to geographical locations,
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Saturday, 11 November 2017
I am so worn out by major illnesses and my body breaking down. I am worn out from the pain, mentally, physically and emotionally. So far, the past 8 years have been hell. Lots of great moments, but some very terrible, lost in the agony of screaming on the inside moments, that, I guess, once a year, I hit the saturation point and I am done.
Today was that day. Today, I wanted to kill myself. I told my husband we should divorce so I can die. I thought of my grand children, my husband, my kids and the dogs. I made him admin of all the FB accounts I have so he can tell people, she gave up. I have told him no more dogs, because if I do do it, I don't want to hurt them. I thought about my estranged son, and wondered if it would matter to him.
My son hasn't spoken to me, really spoken to me in three years I think now. I honestly don't know him. I thought I did. He and I were the closest growing up. Yes, I did grow up with my children. And he is the one that is most like me. But I do not recognize him anymore. He is married. And gone.
My mind, body and heart are broken, and pieces of me are scattered throughout world. My soul is in the Netherlands, my heart is in BC, and my mind is lost simply touring the world and wanting me to be whole. I don't think that is possible anymore. I think I will always be the person with the pieces of her soul missing. I don't know if this was the Devine plan, to never feel like I matter to anyone other than my partner and my animals and the odd person. If so, you learned me. Don't know what point is though. I would have rather walked the earth a solitary unit than have a family that is living in the same city that I don't see.
Maybe there is something missing in me. Something that people cannot stand to be around for long periods of time. Maybe I am meant to be alone. I wish I knew. I wish I had the answer to why I am always being abandoned and torn apart. I feel like Prometheous. My liver gets eaten by birds every day, and in great agony, I endure it, only to have my liver regrow to be eaten again.
When is enough, enough? Will I ever beat this demon? I have lived with it so long now, it has become a part of me. My first dance with attempted suicide was at 14, then 17, and then I thought about it more numerous times than I care to remember. Some days life is meaningless and that is okay. It is the days when the soul ripping banshee tears through my mind and body and all I can feel is pain, immense pain physically and emotionally, that I cannot do it one more second.
I have just been diagnosed with cervical stenosis, on top of the fibromyalgia, ruptured brain aneurysms, another brain aneurysm, major surgeries etc.
In my head and heart, I've been wanting to not exist since I was three, the year the abuse started. And I believe the abuse changed the biochemicals in my body to disrupt and destroy my immune system, along with my emotional centres. As I continue to age, my autoimmune system destroys more and more of me, one cartilage at a time.
I went to the orthopaedic surgeon and told him, I thought I was two decades away from this. He didn't say anything.
What does all this mean? I really don't know. But the one thing I am certain of, is without my husband, I would not be here.
Today, I choose to live. For now.
Saturday, 16 September 2017
I walked everywhere downtown. All through Byward Market, Parliment Hill, parks, streets and by homeless shelters. Ottawa has three homeless shelters in the Byward Market area. Yup, there were panhandlers, but they said please and thank you as you walked by. They did not slur drunkenly in my face or became aggressive as I said no thank you and walked on. They did not call me a bitch, they did not follow me and they did not become aggressive in any way.
I walked in the dark, in the day time and in the twilight. I saw homeless people during all of my walks, but not one followed me or threatened me in any way.
Downtown is a vibrant, moving chrysalis of activity at all hours of night. They have great cafes in hidden areas, outdoor markets, fabulous boutiques you cannot find in the ubiquitous malls and great, personal, fantastically gorgeous one-of-a-kind articles of anything you may wish to purchase.
They have fruit and vegetable markets, streets closed or monitored to traffic, pedestrians walking everywhere, dogs on patios and in stores, and, butchers, bakeries, and open window cafes. Sure, there were business buildings there, but they are not the focus. Peope business is the focus. People are the focus. Cafes open 24 hours are the focus. Foot traffic is the focus.
Having a eco-diverse Hydro building? Not so much.
Green space is everywhere. Dogs are everywhere. In one of the many parks there were tight rope walkers, couples laughing and enjoying the sunshine, people reading, or napping under trees and kids playing. In the middle of downtown.
CANADA 150, which I could not partake in because of stupid Brain Splatter Injury (BSI) had free exhibits, moving art, and wonderful tree sculptures all over the area where I was within a five mile radius and it was all FREE. The parliament buildings had a light show every night. Gatineau, Quebec had the exquisite MOSAICANADA gardens which were outstanding and had rave reviews, Byward Market had light sculptures and moving sculptures you could sit in too peddle as the lights told a storey on the screen. All free.
The people are friendly, even if English is not their first language. The culture is really diverse with many ethnic communities represented and sitting in a French restaurant speaking in English is welcomed. I have never seen more fashionable people, people well-dressed, including the men, than in Ottawa. I saw people riding bikes with Yoga mats, just coming from work. I saw young and old people, children and dogs.....I think I mentioned dogs.....
The community is vibrant, colourful, ethnically diverse and interesting. I spoke to my cab driver who was from Africa and immigrated here 20 years ago. He has been to Winnipeg, Calgary and the US. He has no desire to live anywhere else. When he first moved to Ottawa he was terrified of the police, given his culture in Africa where he came from, but after a year realized the police in Canada are intelligent, polite and want to serve their community. He said he would not live anywhere else. He drives a cab for a living and lives in Ottawa, and has no regrets. He says it is the peace and tranquility that keeps him in Ottawa. He walks in the middle of the night along the canal and feels safe.
Say what you will about politics, bilingualism, and taxes. I would gladly give up my house to move to a place that offers me peace and safety. And where I can fly home to the Netherlands.......
Sunday, 3 September 2017
I've always been curious about communication. My favourite quote is "The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place." I use this on my signature block at work because 95% of my job is about communication. All of my jobs or roles: Theurapeutic Healthcare Yoga Instructor, Senior Manager in IT, Peer to Peer Worker, Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter.
Roadblocks One and Two: Cultural and Gender
I was also born and raised in the Netherlands. We have a completely different way of communicating than in North America. It's not better or worse, it is just different. Dutch people are direct. We try not to confuse people by being coy or softening words to maybe tell you that it's time you stopped being a sexist jerk. We state it outright. I know that's weird in North America where women have been told not to say bad things about someone even if they are being ignorant. Bite your tongue, smile, and seethe with rage inside instead. Yes, I am generalizing. And this is where emotion and communication fit in.
In essence, biting your tongue is the typical female reaction to being hit on, patronized, or marginalized. I cannot speak for men because I have not been one in this lifetime, however, I do understand the frustration of asking a person 'What's wrong', and being met with 'Nothing' and end up being in a silent rage hurricane, and not knowing why. For women, this is a defence mechanism or a passive aggressive response in order not to turn a potential harmless situation into a violent one. Violence is a part of our daily lives. You just need to read the paper to know that; the leading cause of death of pregnant women is being murdered by their partner (2001 Isabelle Horon, PhD Maryland Dept of Health and Hygeine, Journal of the American Medical Association); a Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada report from Statistics Canada states that Aboriginal women are more likely to die violent deaths, and homicide rates were six times higher than non-Aboriginal women; women are four times as likely to be a victim of homicide by partner than their male counterparts (Stats Canada). So get it. I understand the reluctance of some women not to speak up, to appear to 'get' the joke and laugh about misogyny, to walk away rather than say what they want. That is one issue with communication. The silence. The building up of anger over being manipulated or being told we are too emotional or too sensitive, or we can't take a joke. Fortunately, as women age, we lose our filters.
But even in a non-violent situation at work studies have found that when women are in a group with men, they will typically not say anything or, if they do speak, are not heard. I used to call that talking in my girl voice again because it happened so often. Working in a male dominant environment, this will only get you pushed around. I saw that first hand when I had a young woman working for me who was meek and soft spoken. She was placed in more and more situations where work was forced upon her and she took it, even though it stressed her and she felt guilty for taking sick days or vacation time. She would work overtime and not tell me because she was not capable of doing everything she was told she had to do because of changing work structure. When I tried to intervene, she would become upset and claim I wasn't being nice or that I was mean. When I tried to understand her work load I was never given a straight answer.
Roadblock Three: Introversion Verses Extroversion
I am an introvert. Always have been. People suck the life out of me. I prefer the quiet, one-on-one deep discussions over meaningless prater and group events drain me completely. Weird, I know! Looking at my non-conformist standard of dress, hair colour and sense of humour, you would think I was a screaming Extrovert. But nope. I'm not. I am an INTJ for those of you that use Myers Briggs, part of the .08% of the female population. I'm a logical thinker, analyser, like to ponder the ways of the world in solitude while drinking organic tea. You people that know me now can stop laughing. I am also super goofy (check out Facebook pix) and I see the world differently than most. I have studied human nature for almost five decades, up close and personal. And I've seen and dealt with many situations that most of the adult population never encounter.
As my son and I were driving home today we listened to "QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Very cool book if you are an Introvert in an Extravert world. I won't spoil it for you, but being an Introvert is pretty awesome and we make terrific leaders. We had a great discussion about communication. He is an autistic person. Communication is tough for him. I remember him as a child and he would never use the word 'I' because 'eye' sounded the same, but they couldn't have two different meanings. English language problems.....
From studying communication, people can become silent when they feel unheard or they can lash out. I used to stay silent and get angry, then become sarcastic (lashing out). I did not really understand why I was not understood. I would try to be as clear as possible, using as many or as few words as possible, and things would still go sideways. Then I would try and analyze where the train went off the rails.
Now, I read as many books as I can about communication and what can happen when communication doesn't happen. The results are not pretty; health decreases, productivity drops, turnover rates increase, the cost of doing business increases having to re-do jobs or projects, morale drops, people become sensitive and hoard information, gossip, and all sorts of angry beasts show up. It can happen as quick as a backdraft in a fire. One wrong word, phrase or look can turn a conversation from productive to destructive.
Roadblock Four: Being on the Spectrum of Autism.
Being a person with autism is incredibly difficult in terms of communication and emotion. As you can guess, not being able to read social cues, facial expressions, or understand sarcasm, can make someone a little gun shy when dealing with people. I am going to post my son's view on communication, with his permission.
How to Express Emotion and How Others Express Emotion by A.F.
I begin with this statement: I'm not good with emotion; I have extreme difficulty interpreting how I feel and interpreting how others feel. I never really know how my friends feel about me on any given day. I never know, without an outright statement, how others feel. I'm completely clueless, so I use a "best guess" mind set: people don't friend people they hate.
The dominate emotion I have is anger. That's the first emotion I feel when overwhelmed or scared. It's the "natural" mindset when cast into a new situation. Fear is a distant second. When I feel myself getting angry or when I am, I think to myself: "what is the actual emotion that I feel right now?" And "what is the cause of my anger?" And then I stop and think about these two things. I'll follow the strand of thought that makes me so upset and try to figure out the source of it.
Normally I get angry because I'm frustrated. This is usually where following that strand of thought takes me. I get angry because I can't stay long when I'm with a group of friends. I become withdrawn, more analytical and less humorous. This is an introversion thing. I cant change that. This is a classical source of frustration and therefore, anger, for me.
One of the first introspective journeys lead me to this conclusion. I would like to stay longer with groups of friends, to stay open and humorous. I used to, and I suppose, still do, become moody, sad, or depressed towards the end of our activity. But since I started thinking along these likes "what is the actual emotion that I feel right now" I can state outright: "Hey, I think I need to go now, I'm getting pretty tired" and that helps mitigate these feelings of frustration.
Knowing that anger is my dominant emotion and that frustration is a cause of anger, I have taken these steps to decrease the amount I feel in daily life. I feel like I am much happier as a result and have developed an positive outlook over all. I prefer this over being moody all the time.
Other feelings are much harder for me to analyze in this fashion. I never really know how I feel about my friends or if I have more intimate feelings for another person. These feelings never exist in isolation of each other. This makes if difficult for me to talk about these matters with other people or that person I like. I simply just don't know.
I feel: anger, frustration, closeness, kindness, belonging, isolation, confusion, when I sit and think about a person I think I like. This emotional fog is persistent and prevents me from talking about anything, I just label it all as confusion and assume friendship and carry on.
How I think others feel about me: annoyance, clingyness, friendly, kind, selfish, controlling, intelligent, dim witted; again, another patch of emotional fog.
I like knowing what's going on before I take action. I don't like being caught off guard by an unknown variable, I like clear and concise planning for everything. I know this is where I get labeled as controlling. But you can always tell me exactly what to do when to do it and why, and I'll be fine too. Basically, I like either being in control of what's going on or being controlled by someone else with respect to what's going on.
I am not selfish, I'm oblivious and absentminded. A selfish person knows the thoughts, feelings and expectations of others but chooses to ignore them. An oblivious person doesn't know the thoughts, feelings and expectations of others to begin with, and there for they act in their own interests or will act with what they think are the interests of others
I don't think people are bad and I don't hold grudges. But there are people who I will avoid because they make me feel angry or they are negative to be around. Other people's emotional state will influence mine, so if someone is negative it will effect me.
In social situations and out in public I look to others for how to feel. I take my emotional queues from the people I'm with. This way I don't need to constantly think about what the heck is going on, who all these people are or if I should feel threatened. If you're relaxed I'm relaxed. This is pretty much how I've gone out my entire life, always with a friend or loved one by my side. I think I've gone out alone maybe 10 times in 20 years. Most of that is buying me food that I need (which I can do because its getting food from the local Extra Foods place)
Overall, I have made the decision to be happy in daily life, which I say literally. Happiness does not come to me, its something that I choose to be. I choose to be around people that make me happy over all. I choose to make these people happy, I choose happy media; songs, TV shows, YouTube series, books etc. Being happy is the way in which I will live my life.
The only way this is possible is to identify how my own emotions work, figuring out what the cause of my frustrating and anger are. Then addressing these root causes and resolving them and finally choosing to be happy once that's satisfied.
This was based from a conversation I had with Malina at the lake.
It's no wonder we are in a state of constant stress and are exhausted at the end of a work day. The emotional toll of miscommunication makes it hard to enjoy your job, or your life, not to mention the cost of business and productivity.
How well do you communicate? Do you think you are effective? Do you understand the impact of your communication skills and how it sets the tone for your marriage? What about in the workplace? Do you know how to listen? Interpret? Are you getting all of the information you need in order to make a decision? Are you interpreting the information in the way it was intended, or are you filling in the gaps with guesses and judgement?
Wherever you are, we all need to understand and be understood.
Sunday, 11 June 2017
Robin Williams was another devastating loss. He had fame, a family that loved him, wealth, friends, and yet, he too ended his life.
They say that money does not buy happiness. I think that should read money does not defeat depression and pain. There are many stages and versions of depression.
There's the blues, the Yorkie (4 pounds) of depression, something you can kick off in a day or too where you feel, meh.
Then there is the Miniature Poodle (15 pounds) of depression; lasts a few days longer but still something you can exercise away when you increase your dopamine levels naturally. This is usually situationally based; loss of a job promotion, breakup of a relationship, different expectations of outcome.
Next is the Bulldog (32 pounds) of depression. This is when you are depressed for more than two weeks and you cannot pull yourself out of it. Nothing matters. You don't clean yourself, you don't get out of bed and you don't go to work. At this point, you need help. Sometimes you cycle a few weeks of the year and the rest is fine. Sometimes this happens once and you are good.
Then comes the Irish Setter (70 pounds) of depression. You are longer in the depressed state than out of it, but you can still come out of it. This is serious depression where nothing matters. Nothing good lives in this state, but you have no control over how long it lasts or if it goes away. You hurt, physically, emotionally and in your soul.
Last is the English Mastiff (150 pounds) of depression. This is the end state of depression where no matter how good life is, nothing can pull you out. Medication is usually tried, upwards of 50 or more, to find the correct one to balance your mood. If you are lucky, you find the right one and you coast. Life is good, you are content, balanced, but you need the medication to live. Then, something catastrophic happens. You lose a child or a partner. You have now bypassed all stages of depression and come to the Dire Wolf of grief and depression.
The pain is so overwhelming that you want to tear your skin off just to feel something else. Anything else. You vacillate between pain and numbness. Basic human needs fall to the wayside. You might remember to eat, or bathe, or brush your teeth. You might still work and grow comfortably numb for 9 hours a day, shutting off the emotions, tramping those suckers down so hard and so deep that you can effectively bury them without losing momentum on projects at work.
But you go home and you think. You watch a movie and you see a face that resembles the person you lost. And you sob, lying on the floor wanting it to end. Not necessarily wanting your life to end, but the pain. The gouging, tearing, ripping pain the clutches at your soul piece by piece. After a few days, you grow numb again. Until the next reminder, or worse, the next catastrophic event like being diagnosed with a chronic illness that will render you a vegetable in a few years time. Then, that is the point when some people say, enough.
No more pain. No more suffering. No more Dire Wolf tearing at my throat.
Robin Williams said "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone."
A lot of people with chronic pain or illness, or serious illnesses end up alone. Friends and family cut you off, and when you need them the most, these people scatter. I have heard story after story of kids abandoning parents, siblings cutting other siblings out, friends, best friends leaving the wounded and the weak, like somehow what's happened is catching.
And it is a Catch-22. Depressed and grieving people want to be alone. They want to disappear in a time and space of nothingness. They need to grieve, sometimes for years. It is difficult being around a person like that. Believe me, if I had a choice I wouldn't be near me either. But the burden that is placed on the partner or the children of the grieving is so incredibly difficult and stressful, and usually these people, these loved ones are collateral damage, because family and friends don't just cut off the victim of the Dire Wolf, but everyone else that stays and supports the severely depressed.
I wrote this in terms so that people might understand what depression can be, for people who have had the fortunate alignment of the right stars at the right time and have never been depressed.
I wrote on FB one day, "If you think you know what depression is, you don't. If you think you know what suicidal depression is, you still don't".
Reach out if someone is hurting. Your words, your sitting in silence, your presence might make a difference.
And if you are the one with the Dire Wolf at your heels, please reach out until someone listens.
And, last, if you know your brother, sister, mother, father, uncle or friend is a caregiver, reach out to them too. You can make a difference.
Suicide Hotline USA: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Hotline MB: 1-877-435-7170....seems like all the provinces have their own.
Saturday, 8 April 2017
I watched the Neflix series in two days while I was at home convalescing after a somewhat serious heart condition. I cocoon and nest when I am ill because I have learned through life the only person I can truly rely on is myself. So I hide. I don't want anyone to see me and I become paralyzed until the sympathetic nervous system finally lets go a week or two later. So, for a week or so I binge watch TV, sleep and read. Is it healthy? I don't know. Does it work? Yup.
So during this time I watched 13 Reasons Why. It was profound, sad, frustrating, and so many other things that I do not have words for it. Someone mentioned on my FB post that his daughter watched it and was angry about it. I wondered why. Why would this story of a young girl being bullied, sexually assaulted, lied about and abused make someone angry.
Sadly, this is high school. It was like this when I went. It was like this when my children went, and I bet it's the same now. There was nothing this girl experienced that a million other girls didn't experience. The difference being, however, now we get photographic proof, or video proof and this abuse follows you home. It's on your laptop, your phone, on every phone in the high school. The proof stays there forever. Thirty years later, you can google and find that video of you being sexually assaulted.
And the whispers never stop. You walk into a room and the room goes silent. You know they were just talking about how you gave John a blowjob in the playground last night. Even though that didn't happen. You haven't even been kissed yet, but John decides he wants to save his reputation from you turning him down, by telling everyone what a slut you are. And remember. You are not one of them. You are the new kid in school, because your family moves every two years. So you are always the new kid.
Then the jocks think you are easy, so they start hitting on you, trapping you in the hallway, the classroom, outside, anywhere they can. And they touch you. You cannot stop it. Then when you cry, they call you a whore, a bitch, a slut and laugh. This goes to all of their friends and their girlfriends, and suddenly you are walking down the hall and everyone is making rude gestures, leaving nasty photos an notes in your locker, and tweeting it to all of their friends.
You are shopping with your family and one of the jocks mimics a blow job in front of your mother while looking at you. You wince and want to die.
You're at the corner store and someone else walks in, rubs himself on you while grabbing you. You can't move because you are trapped by the counter. He smiles and says something funny.
The next time an older guy you like invites you in for a coke. He's friendly and persuasive , and then gets nasty because you won't touch him. He rips your clothes off an rapes you. Then as you leave he says, "Please don't tell anyone about this." You walk off in a daze, blood running down your leg and you feel like your head is in the clouds. What just happened?
A few days later, a friend of your parents is visiting and he is leaving the bathroom as you open your bedroom door. He goes on his knees in front of you and mimics oral sex. You are 14 and have no clue what that means, but it makes you feel dirty and ugly and you feel like it's your fault.
This happens every single day in North America. And now with President Trump saying he can't stop himself from grabbing beautiful women by the crotch I realize what a different world we live in, men and women.
I read the book after the watching the series (the series was better) and I felt so bad for Hannah thinking she was all alone. Hannah, you are not alone. There are millions of you out there fighting off teachers, parents, uncles, step-fathers, cousins, brothers, landlords, and bosses.
Reading and watching this just reinforced how ugly it can be, to be a teenage girl in this predatory world. It makes me angry that we raise boys to think this is okay and we tell the girls "to get over it."
And then we wonder why depression is so high.