The Bloody Arms Project

Today the good folk at The Daily Post offered the following prompt:

Tell us about a time where everything you’d hoped would happen actually did.

Well, I’ve been plagued with thoughts about cutting myself for some time now. Mostly lately they come in the form of mental images, rather than as an urge or thought that I should do it. I’ve been interpreting them less as a message about what I could or should do to my body, and more as an expression of what has already been done to my soul.  My spirit. My emotional self.

I’ve been trying to find some way to get these images out of my head, where they tend to hurt me, and into some form I can share with the world. I thought paint would be the best medium, but for the time being I seem not to have access to any. Today I experimented with crayons, oil pastels, and finally modeling clay (plastalina).

Art Materials

Not only was I able to express at least some of my inner turmoil without harming myself or anyone else, but as I was working with the clay I actually felt a sense of peace. Gone were the disturbing mental images and verbal abuse. Thoughts about the process of creating art – even the thought, “Ooh, yeah, that’s beautiful!” – took their place.

So now I have a safe outlet for dangerous emotions and a means of exploring emotional experiences that really do not lend themselves well to words. I can even experience some peace and a sense of accomplishment while I do so. And that gives me a lot of hope.

The images I created are behind the following link. They may be triggering to some people, particularly anyone inclined toward self-harm and survivors of abuse.

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Daily Prompt: Undo – Smash the Clock!

Daily Prompt: Undo | The Daily Post.

If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Discuss why, potential repercussions, or a possible alternative.

I would get rid of the clock. It drives me crazy, especially when it imposes deadlines. I can’t deposit my check because the bank closes at 5. I have to be in class at 5:30 or I’m late – I’ve experienced so much anxiety and self-hatred from that! The best is when something has to be completed by 11:59:59 pm – 1 second can be the difference between success and failure.

Right now I’m feeling depressed and paralyzed because I’m supposed to hand in a hard copy of an essay for my 5:30 Thursday class. I forgot about the essay and didn’t have a chance to work on it while moving over the weekend. If I’d thought ahead a bit I could have informed the instructor of the scheduling conflict ahead of time, as required in the syllabus, but of course I didn’t do that! I was too stressed out by the move, other school-related stuff, etc.

Now I feel guilty and uncertain: should I show up for class late and empty handed? Is it better not to go at all? When should I email the instructor? Is it fair to ask her to meet me on campus so I can hand in a hard copy as requested? Or to send it electronically when everyone else had to print it out? I don’t mind the penalty to the grade for handing it in late – I’d rather receive a lower grade for a better essay than avoid the penalty by handing in something I’ve rushed and am not proud of. But I don’t want to allow enough time to pass for that penalty to get very high, and I feel guilty anxious about how she might react to my confession / explanation / excuse / request that she still accept the assignment!

And there’s the clock, tick-tocking away, mercilessly adding to the stress every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I just want it to stop! If the clock didn’t exist then the paper would be due “sometime around sunset” and I could probably get it done on time. No one would know precisely which minute I walked in through the door; getting to class “in the evening” would suffice. I could deposit my check “during the day” which is now because the sun hasn’t set yet (yay longer days!). Etc.

I know we need some way to keep track of time and to hold people accountable, both for working the hours they’re being paid to work, and for paying employees for their time! My instructor, classmates, and I might all have different ideas about when “the evening” is, making it nearly impossible for us to meet at the same time. Without some kind of deadline I’d never get anything done. And so on and so on. They’re not perfect, but clocks are a working solution to those problems.

I just hate having my life broken down into increasingly minute portions of time, measured and regulated. I get too stressed as a result. It isn’t how my body seems to function. I wish we had a more flexible means of tracking time, determining when a task needs to be completed, etc.

Love for Women Everywhere

This is an ode
To women around the world
Who have chosen this day
To Rise

My sisters who refuse to be seen and treated
As a commodity
Who demand that their rights
To their own bodies
Be Respected

Who have suffered abuse
Raped, beaten
Underpaid, hidden away
Their sexuality and their lives
Taken

NO MORE!!!

This is an ode
To the Women who Rise
And those who are afraid to

Women bound by the chains
Of mental illness:
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders
Borderline personality disorder, codependency, substance abuse
And too many others to name

Women forced into the sex trade
Constrained to motherhood
Kept out of the public sphere
Their voices silenced

NO MORE!!!

This is an ode
To the Women who Rise
And the men who stand with them

Love for women is not
Chocolate, roses, romance
Respect is not a pedestal
Or poetry

Love for women is Rising
Against violence
Hypersexualization
Devaluation
Forced conformity

Love for women is having courage and strength
To question society
And talk about the things
That scare us into complacency

NO MORE!!!

This is an ode
To Women Around the World
Those who Rise
Those too afraid to
And the men who stand with them

onebillionrising.org

in response to today’s prompt from The Daily Post:

It’s Valentine’s Day, so write an ode to someone or something you love. Bonus points for poetry!

Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House – What Cannot Be Replaced

Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House | The Daily Post.

Today, The Daily Post has set fire to my house! All the people and animals are safe and I have time to grab – and save – five items.

I glance around quickly at all the things that will be lost: my furniture, clothes, beloved books, countless nicknacks. My eyes tear up as they fall upon the bead curtain my friends and I have been working on since college. But all these things, as painful and expensive as it may be to lose them now, can be replaced. The air is filling with smoke; it’s getting harder to breathe. I must act quickly.

The very first thing I grab is my viola; if I’m lucky it is already packed, with its bow, in its case. My viola is not an inanimate object, it is a beautiful musical instrument with a unique personality and with which I have a very meaningful relationship. To lose it would be to lose a part of my soul.

Next I grab my guitar, also already packed in its case – which I can sling fairly easily over my shoulder. I knew this was My Guitar the moment I first strummed it. There is no way I could leave it behind.

Choking, I run over to my desk. I grab the external hard drive that houses the only copy of some of my older files, most notably music I composed in college.

Once that is secure, I unplug all the wires from the back of my desktop computer. This baby was custom-built three years ago and my only complaint about it is that my security software somehow manages to slow it down – nothing some extra RAM couldn’t fix. More importantly, it has the only copy of some irreplaceable files on it. There is no way I will willingly leave it behind.

Finally, I am torn as to what my last item should be. Do I try to wrangle the bead curtain? Grab my digital camera, which likely has some pictures on it I have yet to transfer to a computer? What about my sketchbook? It has my unique drawings in it … but the ones I care about most have been scanned.

I check my left hand – yes, I’m already wearing my engagement ring.

The air is thickening; I can barely see. My eyes fall on my laptop. It is one of the most valuable items I own, and it also has irreplaceable files on it. Though I’ve had the desktop longer, the laptop – because I can use it in bed, take it anywhere with me, etc. – feels more like I have a special relationship with it. I grab it and run for my life.

I escape just in time, running from ground zero as my home collapses behind me. Ashes, smoke, and flames billow into the air. Somewhere in the distance, sirens are sounding.

I am so relieved to join my loved ones in safety. We hug, we cry, we tremble, but we’re all here, safe. I think about all the stuff that I have lost … but it is precisely that: stuff. What I really need is what’s around me: Love.

*****

As a hoarder, especially a hoarder who is transitioning between spaces, I find it exceptionally useful to respond to this kind of prompt. It can be so hard to get rid of things. As crazy as the clutter drives me, it’s also comforting. Each item I get rid of is like throwing away a part of myself. It hurts.

But they’re just things! This prompt has me thinking about which of my things are really important, and which I could live without. Ultimately, the answer is that the items I need most enable me to express myself. My computer hard drives contain some of my most meaningful self-expressions.

Yes, I need things like clothes. Yes, I want to keep all my books and other media. But most of this stuff is just stuff. The emotions, the memories, they all live inside me. I can be whole without this stuff! And that means I can let some of it go …

Daily Prompt: My Favorite – Life Without My Twin

Daily Prompt: My Favorite | The Daily Post.

Today The Daily Post asks:
“What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person? Tell us about it.”

In June 2011, Banji had been my best friend for nearly 12 years. We lived about 30 minutes apart and spent huge amounts of time together, often at her house. We enjoyed home-cooked meals, musical duets, study parties that often turned into all-nighters, playing games with family and friends, learning crafts from her mom, watching the same movies over and over and over again, etc.

But that month, she moved 14 hours away to take a job that was way too good to pass up. It was hard for both of us. She has come home for the past 2 Holiday Seasons, and we got to spend a week together in summer 2012 when we both attended a mutual friend’s wedding. So, we’ve had about 6 months between visits for the past year and a half.

It’s been devastating. I’ve withdrawn from a lot of the things I loved, especially music. We participated in orchestras together, but without Banji, I just could not bring myself to continue. I don’t even attend as many concerts. I stopped composing music, riding my bike, reading books for the fun of it, doing arts and crafts. I’ve withdrawn socially, too, spending less time with friends and not really making any effort to make new ones. Where I once considered Banji’s parents a second family, I stopped communicating with them entirely except for when she is present, too.

There are other factors involved in all this: moving to an area that isn’t really right for me, other friends & classmates moving away and living their own lives, focusing much of my time and energy on my relationship with Fox, being a graduate commuter at a commuter school where most of the social opportunities are more geared toward undergraduates. I don’t always make the best choices, and that has made it harder live a fulfilling life. Maybe I would have made better choices or had an easier time coping if we’d been able to see each other more often, or at least made more of an effort to keep in touch between visits. (I’m not very good at keeping in touch.)

However the different factors truly work out, the point is that I miss Banji terribly. That plays a significant role in my depression. When she moved, I lost a huge part of my social support system. It reminded me of previous losses and raised old, painful feelings of abandonment and helplessness. It shattered my self-esteem, especially when I hit obstacles in pursuing my own career goals. Not only was she moving away, she was moving into a new stage of life without me.

We’re hopeful because she is moving again in February to take a new job that is only 4 hours away! It’s not as good as what we once had, but at least we’ll be able to spend weekends together without huge expense and months of planning. I’m also moving back into an area and location that is better for me.