My Mother and I.

Was she Toxic? images

I grew up in Calgary in Haysboro a block from Glenmore landing*. I have a brother who is five years older than me named Craig. I don’t have much else in the way of background…

You know, I did a google search, and based on that, I wouldn’t describe her as toxic in the way that articles describe the idea, well, mostly.

Except for the “demands to be your BFF”. Growing up I was her (my mother’s) confidant, for as long as I can remember. She was/is, overly dependent on me (boundaries are better set now than when I was a kid).

When I was a teenager my therapist had to work me through making it clear to her that SHE is the parent, and a child should be dependent on their parent, not the parent depending on the child.

A lot of growing up I was somewhat afraid of her moods, and would always ask “what mood is she in?” to myself. She could be a saint, or an angry demon. She would more often lash out at my father or brother, I was her favourite. But then, I would be expected to always be on her side in any conflict, and if she got mad at my father, she would take me to a restaurant with her (not my brother).

It’s hard because now that I am living with her again she seems to want me to never leave and she said she is going to leave the house to JUST me. (Note: I have a brother!).

She has said, when I try to get her to make new friends, “Why do I need to make friends when I have you?”. She always wants to plan for me to go on vacations with here, she gets tickets to events for me to go with her, without asking me, and I basically can’t say no.

I remember, growing up, I was afraid to tell her how I was feeling because she’d GET SO UPSET. Anything bad hat happened to me was devastating, like it happened to her.

You know, I was primarily raised not by my mother, but a nanny. My mother worked 6 or 7 days a week as a lawyer. But, as an adult, I worked for my mother for around five years (during university and summers) until she retired early for mental health reasons.

I moved back to my parents’ house two years ago after the end of a relationship. So even though I am 30 I am still with them everyday. I believe we get along well.

For the past year I was my father’s primary caregiver because he had an immune disorder, which is now under control (Rheumatoid arthritis, we discovered, eventually. Healthcare is slow).

When all is said and done, I think for the most part I have forgiven her for the past. She did the best she was able to. She wanted to be a mother and did what she felt was best, and I know that I am who I am today because of both my parents.

Yet, when all is said and done, I know that while some of my friends know about my mother, I don’t think people truly understand. I am lucky in that some of my closest friends also have parental issues, although in entirely different ways.

When Mother’s day comes around I’m lucky in that I don’t feel any special bond or need to do something for her. My brother often doesn’t do anything, so I end up planning something for her.

I hear about people having made families. But I feel like an outsider usually and always have my whole life. I never feel apart of social groups or friend groups, like i’m adjacent or an observer. Like I don’t belong in with anyone and never will.

I don’t have any good advice, other than just keep going. Like I said before, my mother did the best she could and that’s what I know.

Anonymously Yours,

Unwrapped.

*Editor’s note; this is a suburb in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

There is no room; For Arm Chair Activism.

Suicide is not your chair to sit on.

In the past month we found ourselves losing two influential artists to our society. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

What followed was a few weeks of various posts, on Twitter and Facebook, that informed people that their friends were there for them. All they needed to do was reach out.

At first I believed this was a good thing. I thought, “Yes. People are becoming aware of the stigma that exists this is good.” And then I started to realize, this is utter bullshit. If you’ve never been in a situation of feeling suicidal, you don’t get to sit on your armchair and tell the world you’re here for someone who is, all they need to do is reach out.
That’s not how this works.

We don’t hear our friends say things like “oh, you have cancer? Have you seen a doctor yet? No? That’s okay. I’m here when you need you me”. Yet, we think that this is an acceptable sentence to say to our friends if their depressed.

So when Bourdain and Spade passed, I kept seeing all these arm chair activists raising their “voice” against suicide by proclaiming that they were “always there for you (friends)”, when in reality, this is not how things work, let alone should work.

Yet, with the rise of Facebook, this is exactly how more of us are thinking these days, and we’re thinking that this behavior is acceptable. Not only being an armchair activist, but an armchair friend.

For the uninitiated, into the realm of depression, anxiety, and any other mental illness, the lines between being a good friend and a great friend is the same.
For those of us who face the same battles every day, between our minds and the navigation of reality, a great friend is someone who is not only trust worthy, but someone who is willing to go the extra mile when you need it.

This means, not sitting on your couch and proclaiming to the world around you that you will be there when your needed. This means taking initiative. Recognizing that your friend may need help but feels like to much of a burden to request it.

So instead, don’t ask, or wait for the invitation. Just do it.

Show up at their house and take them to dinner, or cook their dinner for them. Take the time to ask what’s wrong. More importantly, take the time to listen to what they have to say.

Everyone experiences these symptoms differently, and it’s important to ask and listen and help, not just sit on your phone scrolling through Facebook and Twitter proclaiming your sadness and your willingness to “be there for anyone if they need help.”

In Depression, there is no room for Arm Chair Activism, only Action. So take some.

 

My Shameful Emotions

Trigger Warning: Abortion. Miscarriage. Depression.

Continued from My Shameful Pain.

So you can understand, I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for quite a few years. At my worst, I took a year off of school and moved back in with my parents to get my health in order. I went on several medications and eventually found one that worked well for me. Since then my mental health has been pretty good all around, aside from the odd low feeling day.

I am lucky that my husband was fully involved in all the decisions making that lead up to my TA, and that he was incredibly supportive. However, I think he had a hard time understanding how everything was affecting me because, understandably, he doesn’t know what it feels like to have all of this happening in your own body. Between the TA and my surgery our sex life was at a low, I think he felt unwanted and I had to explain to him quite a few times that the whole ordeal made me feel like I had no control of my body, sex was definitely the last thing on my mind.

Deciding to get a TA wasn’t something either of us wanted but we knew it was the smartest choice. My husband was only working part time, I was finishing my degree and about to start a new program. We were living in a house with several roommates, temporarily, until our finances were better.

We knew that it would be irresponsible to try to raise a child when we were both financially unstable. Both of us want to be able to plan ahead before having a child so we are ready. The first few weeks of my pregnancy I had been occasionally drinking and smoking, both of us were aware that damage may have already been done to the fetus.

It’s interesting to think that while I understood some of what was to come, all the complications that followed are so rare that I didn’t expect this to be such a long process. The TA itself went fine, and the nurses at the clinic were amazing. The aftermath of the TA leading up to the emergency room visit and surgery was much harder and overwhelming. I was constantly concerned about if the bleeding would ever stop, if my future fertility would be effected, etc.

You know, finding out I was pregnant was a pretty hard realization. I’ve always been very careful because I’m aware that an unexpected pregnancy would be emotionally traumatizing. I found experiencing the physical symptoms of pregnancy was very emotional, knowing that the pregnancy was unwanted and would eventually be terminated.

Although, after the TA I rebounded quickly and felt emotionally ok, but after the hospital visit everything changed. I felt very depressed and out of control of my body from the time of the hospital to the surgery. After the surgery and my recovery, I felt mentally much more stable.

 

Since writing this, I am no longer bleeding and got a report from my doctor saying my uterus is very healthy – it’s been a little over a month since surgery 🙂 the doctor also said they didn’t find an AVM in my uterus, what they though was an AVM was just some blood clots, which were removed.

As I mentioned, there was those thoughts about my future fertility and there was some concern that my fertility could be effected if I contracted any infection, and if the infection were to spread to my Fallopian tubes. But, after the final surgery I had no signs of infection, and since there was no AVM found in my uterus, the likelihood of me having any complications with future pregnancy is low.

You know, I feel great now. It’s still really hard when I think about the whole process, and I think I have an irrational fear of getting pregnant again, but I’m on a new birth control now which has been a much better fit for me

I’ve avoided telling anyone that wasn’t necessary because abortion is a touchy subject. Other than my husband, I told two of my closest friends and my mother. We agreed not to tell my father because he’s a big softie and the whole thing would probably overwhelm him and have him extremely worried. I eventually told my manager and the head nurse at my work (I work in healthcare), because on several occasions I had to miss work for a “medical emergency”.

I know that legally I had no obligation to tell them, but I’ve known them for years and are very understanding. Health care workers tend to be very non judgmental about such topics, and ultimately I’m glad I told them. My husband works with me, and my managers know him as well, they’ve been really supportive to the both of us.

In the end, the best advice I could give someone in a similar situation to mine, even someone just going through an unplanned pregnancy without the same medical complications I had, would be to tell someone. Talking about it with my husband, friends, and mother was the only thing that got me through this. Not everyone has a strong support system like I do, but even reaching out to some other resource, like a councilor or therapist, makes all the difference. Keeping all of this bottled up is too hard for one person to deal with.

 

My Shameful Pain

Trigger Warnings: Abortion. Miscarriage.

Part One: Background/The Events.

The following is a two part story, anonymously provided by a contributor. This first part provides us background, and will also feature in a future discussion feature.

A week before my husband and I got married, I had a sense that I may be pregnant. My period was late, which is not unusual for me, but I also knew I had missed a few birth control pills the previous month, the possibility of pregnancy was strong.

The day after the wedding, I took a over the counter pregnancy test, confirming I was pregnant. My husband and I came to the decision to terminate the pregnancy, and three weeks later I had my appointment for a Therapeutic Abortion (TA), via dilation and suction. (This would be having a procedure as opposed to a medical abortion, which is known as taking the “abortion pill”.)

I have never really had any sort of procedure before, so I was pretty nervous and opted to take Ativan before the surgery and was given fentanyl by IV for the pain.

While it may not seem relevant, it will be later on, but the procedure was preformed by one doctor and a nurse. It was painful, but tolerable, and it was over fast. I was told to expect light to moderate bleeding for two to three weeks afterwards.

After the procedure I felt physically fine, I bled for about 3 weeks until it slowed down to just very occasional light spotting. I was given a new type of birth control during the procedure (an injection of depo-provera), which I expected was causing the spotting,
a very common side effect of any new birth control.

About a month later I was having breakfast about an hour before my shift started at work, when I suddenly got the strongest period cramps of my life. Immediately after I started bleeding VERY heavily, soaking through several pads in less than an hour and passing huge blood clots. I knew immediately this was very unlikely to be my period, while depo-provera usually causes extremely light periods, or an absence of a period at all, this was the opposite.

It’s important to realize that I have a condition called thrombocytopenia, in layman’s terms a low platelet count (the cells that produce clotting factors), despite it never having been a serious condition for me, heavy bleeding of any kind is always a concern.
I called in sick for work and my husband and I went to the ER. I was seen immediately, which was my indication that my symptoms must actually be deemed concerning by the triage staff. I was given a PVA exam and sent for an ultrasound. A gynecological resident
and a med student went over the results of the ultrasound with me. They told me that my symptoms indicated I had retained products from the TA.

Retained products is a relatively uncommon complication where not all of the fetal tissue is removed during the procedure. They thought I was a pretty unusual medical anomaly, because the symptoms of retained products pretty much always appear within a week of the procedure, and it had been two months since mine.

They told me that for some unknown reason my body had stopped bleeding, and when the sudden bleeding began it was as if I was having a miscarriage of what was left. They sent me home with a prescription for the abortion pill with the hopes that it would help the remainder of the tissue in my uterus evacuate.
I spent the weekend at home after using the abortion pill feeling crampy and sick. I was still bleeding but it had slowed down. The ER residents had told me that the bleeding should be fully stopped within 2 weeks, and if not to see my doctor.

Two weeks later I was still bleeding so I went to the doctor.

She told me that in all her years of practicing medicine she had never heard of something like this happening. I was sent for another ultrasound and told that I still had some tissue present in my uterus and what appeared to be an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

An AVM is a condition that can occur anywhere in the body although it is extremely rare in the uterus. You can be born with them or they may appear as a result of healing from surgery. They can be quite dangerous because if they rupture they cause very heavy bleeding. For reference, a ruptured AVM in the brain can cause a massive stroke.
Next I was sent to a clinic for early pregnancy complications and urgent gynaecological care. At this point it had been over a month since the ER visit and I was still bleeding. I was on antibiotics after showing some signs of infection. The clinic residents sent
me for another ultrasound, and recommended I come in two days later for a hysteroscopy (insertion of a camera in the uterus) to look for an AVM, dilation, curettage and suction procedure to remove the remainder of tissue in my uterus, and if an AVM was present possibly a biopsy and cauterization to stop the bleeding.

This procedure was done in an OR (unlike the TA which was in a clinic) so the whole thing seemed much more intense. It was a very quick procedure but this time I was sedated (I was out cold, don’t remember a damn thing) and there was a surgeon present, several residents and med students, an anesthesiologist, and several nurses. After the surgery I was high out of my tree so I don’t remember much, but I was told to make a follow up appointment.

I would eventually stop bleeding after the surgery, and all is well now.

To Be Continued;

Part Two. My Painful Shame – The Emotions.

 

“I know what you’re going through.”

The Power of Words; A discussion.

I am in a coffee shop, sitting across from a friend.

While the noise of the place is bubbling up around us, we sit across from each other silently. We can’t hear the world outside of our space. Instead we are grasping each others hands on the table. The face of my friend is in complete agony.

A few months later, I am sitting in his kitchen. There is no noise, no one around us, but nonetheless we are in that bubble. This time it is my face in agony.

In both these instances, no words of comfort were given. No exchange of pleasantries, no words of wisdom, no words of purpose. No pep talk. Instead we sat in silence. My comfort was my physical presence. His comfort was the opening of his door to me, allowing me into his space, allowing me to sit in silence and cry.

“Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all”.

My friend provided me the greatest moment of all. He taught me that sometimes, providing the greatest support, means simply just being physically present, in the moment. Supporting you with all your strength, by not saying anything.

Coming across a TED Talk Article, I realized how valuable that teaching was.

When we go through a rough situation, our first inclination is one of two things, depending on what you’ve learned in the past.

The first is; “Well, at least…” This is not a moment of empathy as we have learned by watching this quick and cute YouTube Video, rather it’s a moment of sympathy. Leaving us feeling more empty, and alone, then we could ever imagine.

The second is; “I completely understand what you’re going through… I went through this when…”

While we might think that this is an expression of empathy, of support, of being a support structure for someone, it’s actually a selfish statement.

But why is this selfish? We’re just trying to help one another.

The answer to this lies in the understanding of the linguistics of English. So let’s take it back a moment.

There is a good scene in a movie called “Waking Life” which discusses the concept of changing linguistics.

Imagine a man and a woman sitting across from one another in an apartment living room. The woman is telling the man that over time our words and language has evolved, but the most striking moment comes when she says something to the effect of the following; “If I say the word Love, you may nod your head and say, yes I know what you mean. Yet in reality, you may be thinking of your past experiences with love, or lack of love. So you say, yes I understand, but really I don’t know what you understand because your experiences and concepts are, different from mine.”

A couple of days ago my personal trainer and I were discussing the concept of the body and the mind. It got pretty complicated at one point, but I mentioned that it was like the sentence, “I think, therefore I am” by Descartes.  He pointed out to me that in English, we have a habit of saying things like “I am hungry” or “I am bored” as opposed to saying “I feel hungry” or “I feel bored”. These sentences end up having us embody the emotion, rather than simply express it, and I came to realize this is a bit of an issue when trying to connect to another human being.

Instead of saying things like “I don’t think I can understand what you are going through, however, I am here for you” we tend to respond with, “I understand what you are going through”, eventually embodying emotions and feelings that really aren’t ours to embody.

lostincrowd-e1402102425537We end up feeling more alone than we have previously, and instead of feeling like we can reach out to someone and be heard, we feel  like a lost and lonely soul in the crowded room.

We don’t reach out again, because we know the result will be the same. We know that there isn’t going to be comfort, understanding and empathy from another individual. It’s either going to be sympathy, or a self-centered empathy, even if it is well intentioned, and that is going to stop us from reaching back out again.

While every individual is different in their needs, I want to ask you, dear readers, what do you look for when you reach out to friends and family, what do you need?

Do you need that sympathy? Words of outspoken truth? Or do you need silence and a comforting hand on yours?

You can tell us through email, at contact@anonymouslyyoursunwrapped.com , or reach us on Twitter or FB @AYUnwrapped. Of course, you can always post below.

We will post some of the answers next Wednesday in our follow up post; “What we strive for; finding light in the dark.”

Sincerely,

Anonymously Yours, Unwrapped.

 

My Mother’s Illness;

Having a Borderline Personality Disorder Mother.

The thing is, I didn’t know she was BPD, and in reality, we still don’t.

It’s never been c0009402821_10onfirmed but she exhibits all the signs of someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder.

We do know that she does have some mental health issues, and growing up with a parent who isn’t mentally stable has made for some interesting challenges within my own life, as both a child and an adult.

When I went through therapy in University, my therapist explained to me that I was the adult child in the relationship between my mother and I.

My mother used me as a confidant. She used me as her best friend.

You would think that this behaviour is normal, who doesn’t want to be best friends with their mother? The problem was, I wasn’t. I was my mother’s mother. She looked to me for help with her life in a way that a seven, eight, nine, ten and up until my teens, should not have to handle. In so many ways, I was the parent, and she was the child.

It’s been interesting to notice as I grow older, that my closest friends, male and female, have all a toxic parent in their life, and it’s normally their mother.

I don’t know if that itself is a good thing or a bad thing, but it allows me to speak to people about my mother without fear of judgement.

I don’t speak about her as openly as I might about my own mental health issues, because people judge both my mother and me if they don’t understand. They also get really judgemental when I explain to them that she is most likely BDP, but because she won’t get herself diagnosed, we can’t ever be sure.

It doesn’t help that people don’t know what Borderline Personality Disorder actually is. They think it’s like Bi-polar disorder, and it isn’t, which people don’t understand either. So when I explain the relationship with my mother, people judge me and her.

They think that I’m making it up, I’m a bad daughter, I was never a good child, my mother just cares, she doesn’t really behave like that, that she calls every day is a good thing.

So I can’t really tell people “no, my mother calls me every day because she can’t get her own anxiety under control and thinks she doesn’t have anxiety, and thinks that I should be able to help her through everything because I’m her child”, because frankly, they just don’t understand.

I don’t know which is more exhausting. Dealing with my mother, or explaining her to people.

The other day I caught up with a good friend of mine, who has a mother like mine, in that she became an adult child in the relationship growing up.

She is having difficulties with her mother and her sister again and it’s draining her. So when I called her to speak she said “I know we were going to catch up about it, but to be honest I don’t want to talk about it right now. The more I explain it to people the more drained it leaves me because people don’t understand, and don’t know what to say or how to react to comfort me.”

She was apologizing profusely about not wanting to tell me, but when I heard this I could only just sigh and nod my head (even though it was a phone call, not FaceTime).

I told her, I understand completely. When I try to speak to people about my mother, I just tend to gloss over it lightly and say “she has problems”. Or when things get particularly rough with her and people want me to share things I just say “I’m fine, it’s about my mother and we’re working it out.” For the exact same reason that my friend outlined.

It’s more exhausting to tell people and realize they don’t understand and don’t know what to say or how to comfort me, than just to keep it to myself and work through it on my own.

I don’t know if there is any true way to break down this particular stigma. While I see so many things being talked about, there are so many judgemental factors that come into play when talking about your parent, their mental health, and the affect’s it has had on their children.

Parenthood is supposed to be this thing that is easy and seamless, (especially for mothers), and when a mother can’t do it well enough, she gets blamed for it. Regardless of her state of mental health.

Then the reserve is on me. I get looked at like a terrible child. I’m seen as a child who doesn’t want to help my mother, even though she only loves me and cares for me. She want’s what’s best for me, so why I am being so difficult? Or, she just needs a little assistance, why can’t I help her?

As I slowly come forward about it, and try to break down the shame and stigma around what it means to have a mother who has a mental illness, I’ve learned that there are some things you just can’t share because people just won’t understand. As sad and frustrating as it is, it’s the truth, and there isn’t much I can do about it.

In the meantime I have my friends who I confide in, as they understand or have some understanding of the situation, and I continue to fight the good fight. Teaching people about my own mental health issues, and being a support to those who have gone through what I have gone through.

Even if it is all I can do, it’s something, and that’s what matters.

Anonymously Yours, 

Unwrapped. 

 

What we don’t talk about; Part 1.

Sexual Assault, Mental Health and Men, a discussion.

To begin, this piece will be referencing the article below, which actually discusses Brendan Fraser and his career. The topic for this article came about because of a specific point in the article which we reference, however, this was not the main point of their article and it happens to be a very interesting read.

Whatever Happened To…

The silence is deafening.

The statistics tell us that the chance of a woman, or a certain class of individual (homeless, aboriginal, individuals with mental disabilities), are more likely to be sexual assaulted in their life time than a man.

But what if, that’s wrong?

What if the reality is that men are at the same risk of being sexually assaulted, with the same background and class, as women and we just don’t know it?

Statistics Canada reports that historically speaking, in the context of Canadian’s, women were more likely to report their cases of sexual assault then men.

Women reported a rate of 37 incidents of sexual assault per 1,000 population, while men reported a rate of 5 incidents per 1,000.

The reports we don’t know could be the commentary we don’t see.

What if we don’t know the numbers, because it’s not socially acceptable for men to talk about being sexually assaulted?

The silence is deafening. 

What about the few who do come forward and try to say something, does society disregard them then like it has women in the past?

Considering Fraser’s experience such outlined in the article, the answer would be a resounding, yes.

If the follow-up question to that is, why? The answer is simple. Powerful people create power dynamics that are difficult to overcome. 

In Fraser’s case, he was sexually assaulted by someone powerful within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and while this man makes reference to the incident in his own memoirs, his recollection is one of a jest, the act of pinching Fraser’s ass, nothing more and nothing less.

 

Fraser’s own recounting is something much more personal and his commentary mirrors the experience of women.

Fraser say’s that one of the reasons why he didn’t speak publicly about the incident was because he didn’t want it becoming part of his narrative, and he blamed himself. These sentences aren’t uncommon to hear when speaking to women who have been sexually assaulted.

So if Fraser’s own narrative is mirroring those of women, it begs an important question; has societal norms stopped men from coming forward about their own experience of sexual assault?

The answer? Again, a resounding Yes.

Before we continue this conversation, we are going to stop here. We’re going to pick this up again next week, but in the mean time we invite you to write your personal thoughts on the topic.

How do you think society has impacted men coming forward about their own experiences of sexual assault and rape? Do you know someone who has a story but wouldn’t want to share? How do you think it’s impacted their personal and mental health?

You can email us at contact@anonymouslyyoursunwrapped.com, or post your comments below. We look forward to continuing this conversation next week.

 

What it takes; to set your story free.

Understanding the power of story telling.

AYU: So this past week I went out with my friends and I realized that both of them wanted to make a contribution, but they were hesitating on doing it.

Molly: Why’s that?

AYU: Oh, many reasons, but it got me thinking, you know… what’s in the power of a story, why should we share them?

Molly: Alrighty Anonymous, you’ve got me curious. Why do you think we should share our stories?

AYU: Well. Human connection is a intricate part of our being. We want to connect to others. We need to. In today’s society it becomes more difficult as technology takes over. We are connecting through text message and the web, and yet this often leaves us with something to be desired, rather than a real human connection.

Molly: You didn’t answer my question.

AYU: I’m getting there. That lack, that inability to connect with one another on a more fundamental level, leaves us feeling lost, alone and struggling. We look for connection in things that aren’t able to give us that fundamental feeling. We stop noticing when others are hurting, because we can’t see it, we don’t know how to anymore. We’re too absorbed in this world that doesn’t exist in front of us, it exists on the web instead.

Molly: But you’re creating a community online, a world online, you’re just driving the opposite point home here. AYU, I think you’re losing this discussion.

AYU: Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s consider it like this, what does a story do? Do you think it allows us to make a real human connection?

Molly: Hmm… no, but I think that it gives the opportunity to step into someone else shoes, even if only for a moment, and that allows us to connect to our friends and family more holistically.

AYU: Great, and how do you think it does that? Connect to friends and family I mean?

Molly: Well… It’s giving us the chance to see someone else’s perspective when maybe we couldn’t before. It allows to understand that everyone suffers differently. It allows us to understand another view point. That in turn gives us the ability to look around us, open our eyes to those around us, and then start realizing that we aren’t alone. I guess it gives us the ability to connect with another in person, while giving us the feeling that we aren’t alone in our own struggles.

AYU: Yes! Exactly!
One of my friends told me that she was able to consider her own struggles better after reading a few blogs. She started to look at herself a bit better.
These stories don’t even just connect us, they allow us to help understand one another better, even if we never know the story teller on the other side.

Molly: Hmm, but then, doesn’t it take courage to set your story free? Courage to share a part of your soul?

AYU: Of course it does. But let me ask you this, if you had a friend tell you about all the times she wanted to walk away from her baby and never return, what would you do?

Molly: Oh easy, I would tell her about the time I sat locked in the bathroom crying with the shower on while my baby lay in her crib crying. She had been crying for two hours straight and I felt like a horrible mother for not being able to make her stop, to comfort her.

AYU: And, would you bring that story up just in general conversation?

Molly: Oh god, of course not!

AYU: Why?

Molly:… well, because, other mothers would judge me for being a bad mother. They would think I couldn’t handle the stress of being a mom and look down on me for it.

AYU: Ah ha!

Molly: What?

AYU: You’ve just hit on another important reason why we should be sharing our stories.

Molly:Okay, I’m suddenly confused, what’s that?

AYU: We don’t share our stories because we’re afraid of being judged.

Molly:Oh, that’s very true.

AYU: Society has a problem. It want’s us to conform like everyone else around us, it want’s us to be like everyone else. So we don’t share our stories. We don’t want to, because we’re afraid of what someone would say to us, how they would react.

Molly:You know, I had a friend who told someone she was on anti-depressants, and they said “you don’t need that stuff, you just need to exercise more.” She stopped talking to them after that, and she stopped openly sharing that she was on medication. She said, “why would I share something that personal, when I’m only going to get shamed?”

AYU: Which is why it’s so very important to share our stories. It allows others to understand, to learn, and to know, to walk in our shoes. It’s so important, and we become so scared of doing it.

Molly: But sometimes we can’t, well not openly. I have a friend who has an incredible story about perseverance, and she can’t share it openly because she teaches school children. The parents would be horrified to find out her story. She has to keep those worlds separate.

AYU: Yes, and that is what we allow for. The ability to share those stories, allow people to step into another’s shoes, to help erase that confusion, that feeling of never being understood. We allow people to share their story without retribution, but allowing for people to step into someone else’s shoes at the same. We are bridging the gap, allowing people to connect on a more human level both inside, and outside, of the internet.

Molly:Alright, Anonymous. I think I understand you know. I get it, I get the power of the story.

AYU:Great! You going to share yours next week!?

Molly *laughing*: Of course. Once a sales man, always a sales man.

AYU: Of course!

If you would like to donate your story to AYU you can go ahead and donate anonymously through our Contact Page. Also, you can email us. We hope to hear from you soon. 

Anonymously Yours,

Unwrapped.

My World; the most, and least important thing

A Gender Story.

First and foremost I want to express that while I am transgender, I cannot, and do not, speak for the community. These are my own opinions, I’m a hard person to offend or trigger, but many others in my position are not and they should be respected.

When I initially started to wrtie this, I thought first about my gender, and my thought process was; “ but I don’t have any problems with my gender”… I say 4 years post hormone replacement therapy, 3 years of talk therapy, and one year after changing my name legally, of COURSE I have no problem with my gender, NOW.

Now that we live in a time where transfolk are visible, where gender being a spectrum is starting to come into the public consciousness. In a world where there will be a nonbinary character in the upcoming “Heathers” T.V. show, as one of the titular Heathers (but that is a can of worms in itself that I won’t address here lovely readers).

I’ve done my wrestling with my gender identity and I am now in a place where I’m mostly content. Gender is fluid, and I am non-binary; one day I feel masculine, one day I feel feminine, and the next I may feel both or neither. I’m very open about it, I love to talk about it and quite frankly I have no issues sharing my “dead name” or what I was assigned at birth. I think being open is a valuable tool against suburban ignorance.

I live in a mental space where your gender should have zero repercussions on your life. It shouldn’t affect what jobs you get, how far you think you can succeed, who you should fall in love with, or whether you like “ pink” or “blue” more. It’s a frivolous thing. It’s a pronoun, a thing we notice so little you probably haven’t realized I’ve already used four in this sentence. It’s not a thing that should have any impact or change how anyone thinks of you. It’s a societal construct, it’s made up! It’s not a biological thing, it’s not even a tangible thing. Gender cannot harm you or anyone else.

But for some reasons at the coffee shop (where I work), when they get my name wrong and point and say “ oh, that’s hers!” it stings.

I don’t understand why it hurts so much to be labeled “she”.  I love women, I relate to women. I was raised as, and presented as, a woman until I was 22. Thusly, I have been through a lot of the trials and tribulations of most women. Women, femininity and inclusive feminism are all incredibly important to me.

So why do I flinch and react like it’s an insult to be grouped with “ she”?

I am sure a portion of it is because I never had a say in that pronoun. I was labeled from birth with it. No one waits until you’re old enough to express yourself to ask your gender. They look at your downstairs when you’re born, doctor slaps you in the ass to make sure you’re breathing, and a nurse puts a pink of blue hat on you. That’s that.

I’m also sure a portion of why being assumed female really rustles my jimmies for the rest of the days where this sort of misgendering happens, has to do with the remnants of some pretty severe internalized misogyny I thought I’d cleaned out a long time ago. But old habits die hard I guess. I’m a work in progress, as we all are.

My gender impacts my everyday life, as it does every transperson. There has not been a day that’s gone by since I was 10 that I haven’t thought about gender and how mine defines me. I use to not have to think about it for everyday situations, the thought was usually “ ugh, why do I have to be a girl”, but now it’s become a little more nerve-wracking.

“Which bathroom can I use?”

“A wedding? They really don’t make formal men’s attire that fits me, but I cannot wear a dress”

“If I paint my nails is my manager going to tell me it’s inappropriate because, I present male here?’”

“I have to look a little more masculine if I want to be able to pull off wearing something feminine to balance it out so not one thinks I’m trying to ‘switch back’”

My philosophies and how I live my life/think my thoughts are at a constant conflict. But yah know what? That’s okay. You can live your life thinking gender is frivolous and still correct people when they call you “ma’am”.

Anonymously Yours,

 

Unwrapped.

 

My Trouble School Years; The University Years.

My Eating Disorder; University.

When the time came to go to University, I honestly didn’t choose which one to go to. I let my parents pick so that they would be happy. That was how I lived my life for a long time, and I was mostly not very happy.

The good thing about being at Acadia, however, was that I was getting another piece of that sense of control and power I had longed for. That definitely did me some good, and it did really help restore my relationship with my mother in a big way. We started to become friends for the first time and that was huge.

Being away for the first month was not only amazing, but it seemed like everything was under control and finally looking up for me. Not only was my relationship with my parents flourishing, I was able to have control, but that isn’t always a good thing, I realize that now.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week I could work out when I wanted. I didn’t have to eat because know one would know! It became an addiction. I started working out before classes and directly after, and I would eat every other day. I’d go three days if I could but I needed to be able to get out of bed. There wasn’t a real trigger, it was more of an enhancement of what I had already been dealing with.

As I was such a routine oriented person my days at University would take on a pattern. I would wake up at 4:30 am and work out until 7 am. I would shower, grab a coffee, head to classes. I finished my classes and headed directly to the gym for another two hours. Then I’d spend the rest of my night on school work.

It was productive in ways. I got really, really good at being a student…but it was so easy to lose weight. I generally went to bed around 11:30 pm, and if I had avoided food I felt like I accomplished something. I did everything I could to isolate myself from everyone to avoid having to eat with people, or be seen eating. The meal hall was horrifying to me. You see I had this belief that anyone who saw me eating would think I was fat and didn’t deserve food and that I was disgusting, and I hated every minute at meal hall for it.

It wasn’t until my second year of study that I realized I was falling apart. I was struggling academically, and I had also met someone in the summer that I was really interested in. This person had children and  once when we were talking, he basically said to me “I can’t have someone wo is really unstable be around my kids”. I had no idea how sick I really was, and so that motivated me to get better. I decided that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing, so I decided to transfer schools and focus on my health.

During this time I had support, but honestly, I had never asked for help. The thing about eating disorders is you don’t really want to get better. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but you are so driven to keep going. It’s really hard to reach out because you don’t want to admit you need anyone. It’s that control thing – you reach out and realize you actually don’t have any control and that is terrifying. You want to be independent and okay, but you also want to be skinny.

Although I did talk about my eating disorder and habits to a few people, I would always lie about getting better. Simply because it was easier than dealing with the awkwardness of people knowing I’m not okay. Nobody really knows how to deal with someone who has an ED. It’s really hard to know what to say or do, because you don’t want to piss them off, or make it seem like you’re intruding on them. Most people have more of a confused reaction, than a positive or negative reaction. A lot of people are surprised because on the surface it looks like I’m a positive, well-functioning workaholic, and I’m not horribly underweight. So it’s perceived odd that I would be diagnosed with an ED. It makes people uncomfortable and I found that with experience, it’s best not bother “normies” with ED issues. However, I think being publicly open about my struggles has been a real help for me, and hopefully others.

Looking back, I think the only thing I would change is I would go back to myself in my first year and tell myself to stop living my life for other people.

That epiphany happened when I was about 23 and met my now husband. He encouraged me to stop trying to be someone and to start living in the moment more, to enjoy things rather than always worrying about what I can’t control. He taught me it’s okay to be selfish and love myself, even if I’m not perfect.

If I were to give advice to anyone, I think back to my thesis and all of the wonderful people I met. I think if I were to actually out myself and give them advice, I would have told them the same thing I had to tel myself. Live your life for yourself, get rid of the things that make you sad. Say goodbye to the people holding you back and don’t be afraid to reach out or to take a risk. Eat the cake, it’s okay. The world isn’t going to end if you’re 150 pounds and people are going to love you for being confident with who you are, not how you look.

Stand up for people. Reach out to people you think are hurting, you never know how much they just might need to talk to someone that’s been there, and that might actually understand them. Just be positive as much as you can. It really will change your world, and may even change someone elses. You never know just how much a small gesture may change someone.

Anonymously Yours,

 

Unwrapped.