3 Years

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This is what three years in jail looks like. 

January always marks another year. Another year that my dad has been in jail. Another year that I haven’t seen him.

I wanted to write about this for many reasons. First and foremost, I posted something similar a year ago, and a lot has changed since then.

Secondly, I just think sharing this kind of information is really important. I have an internal debate about this a lot though. On the one hand, I often worry that this type of experience (for lack of a better word??) isn’t relatable enough to the people most likely to read my blog. I worry that no one will care because no one (that I directly know) has been through something similar. But on the flip side, I also feel that this type of content is worth sharing even more than some of the other things I write about because it’s uncommon. I fear that, to an extent, I’m doing a disservice to myself (and others) for not making this all more commonly known.

Most often, I cling to that fear of not being relatable to avoid a bigger issue. In reality, this shit is just hard to put words to. I’ll preface the rest of this post with that. Even though it has been three years, I still have so many contradictory, confusing, and often inexpressible emotions tied to all this. I’m going to attempt to not let that deter me from sharing though.

When you look at the statistics, about 5 million children in America have parents that are (or were previously) behind bars. That’s about 1 in every 14 kids, or 7%. 

Less than 1% of white children have incarcerated parents though. 

My dad has been in jail for almost three years.

**To give a brief background for those of you who are unaware. My dad was arrested in January of 2015. I was living in Arlington, VA at the time. I haven’t seen him in person since Christmas of 2014. I just recently started talking to him on the phone this year. Over the past three years, he has been transferred between multiple facilities in multiple different states (PA, NY, CT). The details of his arrest are vague to me, partly because I don’t want to be involved, and partly because the justice system is extremely confusing and the process takes an extremely long time. From what I know, my dad was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. I also know that, as of now, he is attempting to appeal this for a shorter sentence. **

Each time I try to put words to paper about this, a few things always come to mind:

  1. I often compartmentalize this part of my life which makes vocalizing my experience complicated
  2. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the flaws within the current justice system and accepting the fact that I can’t comprehend how to fix it
  3. My relationship with my dad was very complicated prior to his arrest, which complicates the situation further
  4. There are people out there like me, even though according to the numbers I am part of the <1%
  5. My feelings and experiences are not entirely negative
  6. Incarceration is a loss too, but it’s not final and as a family member you can choose what that means to you over time

Along with that, when I think about my dad, I usually feel overwhelmed with a complex layer of simultaneous emotions. I always, without fail, feel anger, stress, guilt, loss, relief, shame, love, admiration, nostalgia, bitterness, and confusion altogether, every time.

I think that is what often makes me want to refrain from sharing this experience with others, in this way at least. Because my relationship with my dad is so complex, this isn’t just about having an incarcerated parent, it’s about having a parent with mental health struggles too, and how those experiences overlap.

So the way I have coped and the things I have learned are, in a sense, two-fold. Even though most people may not be able to relate to the situation directly, hopefully, what I have to share can possibly be beneficial to others in some way or another.

Part One: Incarceration

To start, I’ve learned to understand that incarceration is a loss, and with that comes grieving. There shouldn’t be shame in that. But there will be. Because the person you’ve lost is still physically there.

It’s not a death, but that’s the closest thing most people will compare it to. That’s the only way most people, who have never dealt with incarceration before, can possibly wrap their brains around the experience and the feelings tied to it.

Unlike a death, people will forget the anniversary. YOU will forget the exact anniversary sometimes. To complicate things, neither you nor your friends will usually know how to talk about it.

You also won’t spend time memorializing the person, not only because they’re not truly gone, but because your loss will always have lingering bitterness and confusion.

Also unlike a death though, you and the person you’ve “lost” will potentially have room to progress together. Your dynamic may change and your relationship may grow. It takes time though, just because you’re not ready at first, doesn’t mean you never will be.

First, you need to process the events surrounding their arrest. Regardless of the situation, I believe one thing will hold true, you will come to learn that no single person is all good or all bad. You will come to see that sometimes you can still love someone, even when they’ve done wrong.

As is true for most things though, the progress you make (both individually and within your relationship together) will never be linear. You will continuously feel like you’re taking 3 steps forward just to take 2 back. That part will never stop, but over time you will accept it as routine.

You will always, always, always be filled with mixed emotions. There is nothing wrong with that. There is no handbook to teach you how to appropriately cope. Even though there are literally 5 million other people out there that can potentially relate to you, you will still feel alone.

Sometimes you will feel helpless that someone you know is suffering, alone, behind bars. You will feel shame and stigma associated with the concept of incarceration as a whole. You will feel guilty that you couldn’t help “fix” them when you still had the chance. You will miss them, even when you think you don’t.

Part Two: Mental Health

In my case, to some extent, I feel a lot of relief regarding my dad’s arrest too. If it wasn’t for his arrest, I don’t think I would ever feel so free from the responsibilities of constantly worrying about his well-being.

With that comes guilt too though. Guilt that I’m finally, in some ways, using this space as a chance to be selfish. Every letter and every phone call is another reminder that I have separated myself from someone who needs me.

My dad, from what I know, struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety. As I think I’ve shared before, in a lot of respects, when my parents split up when I was 18, I became the person my dad turned to.

Until my dad was arrested, I spent almost every day helping to manage his problems that I couldn’t fix and emotions that I couldn’t bear. I did so partly out of love, partly out of fear, partly out of a false hope that I could really “fix” him someday, and partly out of a desire to avoid my own problems.

One of the best things to come out of my dad’s incarceration has been the realization that, at the end of the day, I can’t be responsible for anyone but myself.

In general, sometimes I also feel embarrassed. Sometimes I feel so unbearably alone. Sometimes I feel like all anyone can think about when they look at me is my father. And sometimes I think everyone forgets completely.

I’ve learned a lot this past year though. In many respects, my dad’s arrest has shined a light on all of his mistakes for me. It has given me an opportunity to see what he struggles with, avoid running into similar situations, and live my life completely differently as a result.

From this, I’ve learned that there is no shame in being yourself. In fact, the things you tend to be most ashamed of are the things that you should wear with the most pride. I’ve learned that people will accept you if you accept yourself, and if you wear your experiences confidently, people will often have respect for you rather than judgment.

I’ve also learned to let go of fear. It’s so easy to be afraid of what you have yet to try. I spent over two years telling myself I didn’t want to “live my life in fear like my father”, yet never truly followed through until recently.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t actually hurt that much to be disliked for being yourself. It hurts so much more to constantly try morphing yourself into the person you think people want you to be.

I couldn’t be more comfortable with who I am and what I like than I have been this past year. I am so proud to say that the things that kept my dad living in shame, like his mental health and sexuality, are some of the things that I am most proud to be open and honest about in my own life.

As selfish as it sounds, I can confidently say I would have never gotten to this place if my dad hadn’t been arrested.

Like I mentioned though, it isn’t always easy. It’s usually like sailing into uncharted territory with no sense of direction and no compass to show you the way. Most of the time I’m just guessing and hoping I make some sort of progress as a result.

I don’t have all the answers, in fact, I literally have none, but I hope, to some extent, my lack of knowledge is helpful too.

I think what’s most important to remember is that even the most confusing and seemingly negative experiences can have positive outcomes. And just because you don’t have it all figured out, doesn’t mean you aren’t dealing with your experiences correctly.

Take things one step at a time. Don’t forget to look back at where you started, and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Be proud of who you are, and the factors that have helped to make you that way. And remember that everyone else is going through their own unique experiences too. Have patience, approach others with acceptance, and be understanding. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along. AMIRITE?

Happy 2018!!!!!!!! BE U AND LUV URSELF

(If you have any interest in reading the similar post I wrote last year, click here)

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – LJ

The piece I am sharing today is written by the very talented, LJ. If you read my blog pretty frequently, you probably remember her post from Pride Month. Something about the way LJ writes is so captivating to me. 

As you will soon read, her piece is about her stepdad and his struggle with Parkinson’s disease. I love the insight her story gives to this month’s topic. In my opinion, it’s easy to assume that suicidal thoughts have a direct correlation with mental illnesses like depression, but it’s easy to forget how many other factors can drive someone to want to take their own life as well.

The point of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is to share a variation of stories in an effort to shed light on such a taboo, stigmatized topic. This is LJ’s story.

As painful as it probably was for her to share these words, they are so important. More than 10 million people worldwide are currently living with Parkinson’s Disease. After doing some of my own research, I also learned that, although suicidal ideation is known to be a very serious issue in patients with Parkinson’s disease, there is a lot that is still unknown. Doctors are still trying to figure out a relationship between suicide, age, medical treatment and disease within patients with Parkinson’s.

Having said that, LJ captures his stepdad’s experiences, and how they impacted her family in her words below:

May 17, 2016.

If I had known on this day the events that would happen the next morning, I would have done things differently.

May 18th, 2016 at 8:39 am

I had just finished unpacking my work bag and was talking about my weekend plans with a coworker when I received a call from my mom.

Barely audible and between gasps of breath, my mom informed me that she had just found my step-dad, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

My step-dad’s name is Bob. He married my mom when I was ten. He is the love of her life and he seamlessly became another father figure for my brother and me.

A few years ago, Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. If you do not know, Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain – neurons. While many people associate Parkinson’s with shaky movements, not many realize that the disease also has a huge impact on mental health.

When I think about it now, I realize that I experienced the complete life cycle of Bob’s Parkinson’s. Before my very eyes, I watched this bubbly, adventurous, and energetic man transform into a mere shell of himself, full of anxiety and pain. Parkinson’s had won.

While learning about my step-dad’s suicide was devastating, what torments me still is the impact it’s had on my mom. Seeing the woman that has consistently been the force of strength in my life break down is heart-wrenching. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to fix it is debilitating.

A lot of people say that taking your own life is selfish, but I refuse to accept that dialogue. I know that my step-dad loved my mom more than anything in the world. He would have done anything in his power to ensure her happiness. Parkinson’s destroyed his mind and his will to live.

I strongly believe that if Parkinson’s stayed the fuck away from my family, things would have turned out differently. I wouldn’t be constantly wishing I had called home on May 17th 2016.

Pride Month: Nick

Today’s post is written by my best friend’s friend, Nick. Similar to how I felt about yesterday’s writer, I knew even before I read Nick’s words that they were bound to be great. My best friend Sammy, the person who introduced me to Nick, has always had this ability to seek out some pretty exceptional and inspiring friends. Here is what she has to say about Nick and his words:

“I honestly don’t know how I am supposed to introduce this piece. It’s extremely special to me for multiple reasons. Reason one being that Nick is a close friend of mine. I inherited this friendship through my boyfriend and if you know Nick at all, you want him as a friend. He is smart, cool, incredibly funny and has great taste in music. Reason two is because when I asked Nick to do this, I knew going into it that he is an extreme procrastinator like myself. I honestly didn’t think I would receive any form of writing from him unless I harassed him (which I did). When I opened his email and had a chance to read his words, I found myself lost in them. I almost forgot my friend was the person behind the writing.

When I met Nick, he wasn’t “out” yet to his family and friends. When Nick told me, it was the most natural conversation in the world. To be honest, I already knew. What happened after, has been beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Not only did Nick introduce me to a community that is so unbelievably loving and supportive, he showed me what it means to truly be yourself. To live without fear and to love unconditionally. Nick wasn’t the happiest soul when I first met him. His transformation into the person he is today has been the most beautiful thing to watch, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Pride to me is my friend finding happiness, growing closer to his father, and creating a life for himself that he (and everyone who loves him) is proud of.”

I truly hope Nick’s words impact all of you as much as they have impacted me and Sammy. Here are his feelings on “Pride”: 

Every LGBT person looks at the rainbow flag differently. It inspires the memory and ability to reflect on their own story and the mental battle that took place to accept who they are today. Every story is different, but our love for Pride and respect for what it represents is equal. My story is a happy one, but difficult to cope with (at the beginning) nonetheless.

I came out on my college graduation weekend to my dad (who is also gay), and his partner. I was planning on coming out to them in person, but due to a jam-packed weekend full of graduation events, I couldn’t. I ended up emailing my dad once he arrived back to Massachusetts (pathetic, I know, but I’m over it). I remember shaking before pressing the ‘Send’ button. I would hover my finger over the button and then stop and pace around the room. Eventually, I pressed the button and threw my phone onto my bed in disbelief. That was the first step toward a completely different way of life for me. There was no turning back at this point, and letting that sink in was an unforgettable sensation. Moments later my dad called me, and of course, I ignored it. He left me a long voicemail that I have saved to this day, and plan on never deleting. He ended up jumping on a plane to Denver two days later, and we talked and reflected on our own stories and what it meant to be a gay man in today’s world. You think you know your parents, but this experience gave me a whole different outlook on my dad as a person, and not just as my father. That summer I slowly started coming out to my friends. I experienced a number of different reactions, ranging from long, emotional hugs, to friends saying things like “What?! I thought we were going to make out!”. Eventually, towards the end of the summer, I would just get “Yeah, I already knew.” Regardless, every reaction has been a positive one, and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who think nothing of a sexual orientation different than their own.

My dad’s partner (let’s call him Jon), who has been in my life since middle school, had more of an effect on my coming out than anyone else. My dad could have stayed in the closet for the rest of his life and no one would have known, but since meeting and falling in love with Jon, he learned that being closeted is no way to live. Since they met, both my dad and Jon have lived life to the absolute fullest. They’ve traveled the world, quit corporate jobs that give them no pleasure, and have been proudly gay and madly in love. Seeing my dad reinvent his life this way gave me the confidence to tell people the truth about myself. Knowing that, if my dad could come out at age 50 without judgment, I could do it at age 22. Witnessing that it’s possible to live a ‘traditional’ life with another man, and knowing that it is not only accepted but encouraged to get married, have kids, go on vacations, adopt a dog… Jon is the reason both my dad and I are happily gay because, without his leadership, we would look at the gay community as a group we falsely identified with. Now, years later, I’ve learned how amazing this community really is. A community I deeply resonate with and am extremely proud to be a part of.

So, what do I think of Pride? I think of my dad who came out later in life, and the struggle he dealt with for over 50 years. I think of my dad’s long-term partner, and what an amazing influence he’s had, not only on my dad’s life, but mine as well. I think of my own life, and how fortunate I am to have such accepting and loving people around me, and how not every gay person is born into this blessing. And lastly, when I look at that flag, I think of the heartless, horrible people that view it with disgust. Those who think this celebration isn’t deserved, or see it as harmful to society. Those are the ones who delayed this LGBT progression we’ve seen in the past two years, and those are the ones who will never know how to celebrate life like we do.

MHAM Post #18: Kelsey

With the long weekend that just passed, I wanted to wait to share this post until today, when I knew people would be back to their everyday schedules and more likely to read it (it’s just that good).

The writer of this piece is, again, someone I was introduced to through a friend. Her name is Kelsey and, although we don’t know each other in real life, I feel genuinely connected to her after reading her words.

As cliche as it may sound, Kelsey’s writing truly makes you understand what it feels like to be a part of the roller coaster ride that is her dad’s mental health and addiction struggles. 

My favorite thing about this piece is how well it shows that people’s experiences can impact their loved ones mental health too. 

It’s heart-felt and heart-breaking all at once, and I’m pumped to share it here:  

HERO:
My dad is my hero. He is my favorite person in the whole, entire universe. We have the same humor, we have the same cackle, and we have the same antsiness when it comes to scheduling/agendas. Our hobbies together include: Watching Family Guy, making terrible, bologna sandwiches (drenched in too much Oscar Meyer, mustard) and taking midday naps in a shitty, box-fanned vortex, with our two, unruly Irish Setters.

My dad is a Clinical Social Worker.
And he’s damn good at what he does.

I’ve listened-in on countless, midnight phone calls, convincing his clients to “make it” or “hold on” until tomorrow. My dad would repeat: “Phil, you won’t feel like this tomorrow- It might not be any better, it might only feel slightly different. But I’ll guarantee you: It won’t feel the same.”

Dad would take a few minutes, nodding/listening to the distraught man on the other end, “Phil, call me in the morning. Promise me you’ll be around.” And just like that, Dad and I would continue our movie night, no comments/questions needed. Phil would call 6am tomorrow morning.

On the weekends, we’d go to garage sales so dad could, “Buy Richard a table for his Birthday,” because Richard didn’t own any furniture. We would take a pit stop, on the way to the grocery store, so dad could “Give Janice a pack of cigarettes, and a Snickers, so she’d make it through the week.” Always something.  

He’s my hero.
But he wasn’t always.

THE BEGINNING:
I found out my dad had a problem in 2005, when I was in 8th grade. Through Mom’s crying, through selling our home, and through a short-lived divorce, I found out that my dad had another talent.

My dad is addicted to Poker.
And he was damn good at what he did.

Until he wasn’t.

We lost a lot that year. My parents decided that restarting (again) in Idaho was the best option. In turn, we watched my dad like a hawk, and Dad attended Gamblers Anonymous Meetings (G.A.). Out of guilt, Dad encouraged mom to be a stay-at-home mom. In turn (because her babies weren’t in need of this role), Mom reconnected with her good friend, wine cooler.

Looking back, I never recall being sad. My parents were always dysfunctional. My dad always worked a lot, and mom always drank. Just how it was.

LATER ON:
By 2014, Dad had stopped going to G.A. Meetings, and Mom was Mom (that’s another story, for another time). Dad was working later nights. He was gone more weekends. He was on-edge, stressed from working On-Call at the hospital. I loved my Dad, but he was definitely a different person than he was in 2005. But I understood. Mom wasn’t working. He needed the extra cash. I’d pitch in when I could. I would let him borrow $200 here, $300 there. I’d let him put groceries on my credit card.

Regardless, I was proud.
Dad had stopped playing poker.

Until he didn’t.

In summer of 2014, we found out Dad had never actually been working nights, or going to Hospital seminars over the weekends. Dad was never borrowing money for groceries… Dad’s friend, John cracked one day when Mom cornered him. “John. Where’s Steve? And don’t you dare lie to me.” John whimpered, “He’s at a casino in northern Idaho. He will tell you he’s in Vegas, but he’s not. Someone needs to drive and get him…”

Dad finally called, after ignoring our calls for 3 days. “Jan. I messed up. It’s bad.”

Over the last year, Dad had gambled away an unspeakable amount of money. He took money from my Brother and I to count cards, and he maxed out our credit cards. I thought, “Kelsey…How could you be so blind?”

That was just the beginning.

ACUTE WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME:
We also found out that Dad had been abusing opioids. He had been addicted for the last 7 years. My Brother and I knew that Dad would pop an anxiety pill here and there… but we didn’t realize the dosage, or frequency, or how bad it really was.

Wasn’t it normal to take an anxiety pill, every once in awhile?

With his new job in Boise, insurances/doctors had changed, and Dad no longer had the “Doctor, Homie-Hook-Up.” Dad went off these drugs cold turkey. In turn, Dad went crazy. In 2014, Dad started going through Acute, Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome. (It’s now 2017. He isn’t any better.)

Dad stopped being any form of my Dad. His “Family Guy humor” stopped, his cackle stopped, and he spent most of his time in the room of vortex fans, sleeping. His hands shook. He preferred to sit alone, instead of goofing with his kids.

Recently here in 2017, Dad tried to explain this chemical imbalance/withdrawal syndrome to my Aunt. “It feels like I’m going to jump out of my skin. And I have a hard time with day-to-day tasks. The thought of shaving gives me high anxiety.” He continued with a story: One-day at work (before he realized how bad it was), Dad was counseling a couple. The couple was fighting in Spanish, and Dad couldn’t get a word in. Dad was patiently waiting for them to stop speaking Spanish, so he could help.

Turns out…

The couple was speaking English.

SHIT HAPPENS:
Later in the summer, Dad crashed the Prius. His reply to the accident was, “I wish it killed me.” That day Mom took Grandpa’s guns from the house.

A couple months after Dad fessed up about gambling, and beginning the journey of this new mental illness, Dad lost his job. They were losing the house. My brother broke his arm and lost his job as well. I was the only one in my family with a job, and I was just offered an internship at my dream job, outside Seattle.

One Saturday afternoon, while working in the Boise, Idaho Mall, I had a full-blown panic attack. I fell in the backroom at my store, chest pounding, not being able to breath. How could I leave to Seattle for this internship? “How dare I think about leaving them.”

CONCLUSION:
My boss at the time (now Mentor, and who I consider a best friend), Meghan, found me defeated on the dust-bunny covered, cement floor. I’ll never forget the way she calmed me down. These were the conclusions she lead me to (took me until just now to finally accept):

-I can’t save my parents
-I can’t send them money (no matter how indirectly I’m asked)
-Mental illness is real
-Suicide is real; I can’t blame myself
-I can only focus on me, and my well being

 Because of this mind-set, I’ve accomplished so much more than I thought I could.

-I took my dream internship outside Seattle
-I became a Jr. Marketing Coordinator for the company
-I paid off my car (big win for me!)
-I dropped in on my first mini-ramp
-I received my Bachelors of Business Administration Degree
-I moved to California
-I became a Marketing Coordinator for another, kick-ass company
-I started volunteering for a dog rescue 

NEXT STEPS:
My dad rarely calls. When he does, and I see his caller ID, I think “Is he ok? Is he calling to say goodbye?”  This is the truth I live with.

We lost our house, and my childhood memorabilia, yearbooks, and Harry Potter action figures are stored in my best friend’s garage.  My parents are living pay-check-to-pay-check in a small, rental house. Mom finally got a job after 8 years. Dad is on unable to work, and is applying for disability. I haven’t been home in 8 months, and I’m honestly a little scared to.

However… When days are bad, and holidays away from Idaho feel extra heavy… I think back to when my dad helped Phil, on the phone all those nights…

“Kelsey…you won’t feel like this tomorrow- It might not be any better, it might only feel slightly different. But I’ll guarantee you: It won’t feel the same.”

Something I’ve Had on My Mind

Recently, I had a friend say to me (more or less), “lesbians are gross, like I think vaginas are just gross… I just don’t get it, how can you like that?” L.o.l.

In said friend’s defense, I really don’t think it was intended to be judgmental or discriminatory. What she was trying to express was that she simply cannot wrap her brain around a girl wanting to be sexual with another girl, given the fact that she has personally never felt that way before.

But although it came from an innocent place, that still doesn’t make it okay. I get irrationally defensive and angry about comments like this because I feel so differently about it. I know we’re all entitled to our own opinions……I GET IT OK, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, YADDA YADDA, I KNOW. But I think that when your opinion is negatively targeting someone who identifies as part of a minority group, your opinion is offensive regardless of your initial intentions. Minorities are already historically oppressed, so by spreading more disapproval, you’re just furthering the oppression.

Also on a less serious but still important note, why do you care anyway?????? Is some girl trying to force you to eat her out and THAT’S why you’re so offended by the concept??? Because in that case, you’re going to have to have a nice lil’ chat with that girl about boundaries and consent. Otherwise, from what I can gather, I don’t think lesbians are affecting you in any way? So can’t you just let them live their lives happily and in love just like you want to do? For example uh, I don’t necessarily care for the idea of an orgy but likeeee personal preference, man. Let the people love how they want to love. PLUS, wouldn’t you, as a straight girl, be offended if someone said “I just like, don’t get straight girls…like I think the way they have sex is just gross”??

I don’t know. I guess I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by so many people in New York with such open-minded opinions that I don’t often hear comments like that anymore, so it really shocks me when I do.

Love is love and I sincerely cannot wrap my brain around why that concept is so hard to grasp. Our world is so dominated by this straight, cis-gendered culture and it doesn’t make any sense because its 2016 and we know there is so much diversity so why are we still fighting it!!!!!

FOR EXAMPLE (I’m going to get personal so bear with me), my dad is gay. Or bi…or whatever label to you want give it. My dad hooks up with dudes sometimes. He was also married to my mom for decades so I guess if we’re going to label it, let’s go with bi. Anyways, moving on. This is so massively important BECAUSE in so many ways he was/is so, so ashamed of it. And in so many ways it basically ate him alive and now he will suffer years and years in jail (sort of) as a result.

I only found out my dad was bi a couple years ago when he was already mid-downward spiral. That breaks my heart. Obviously it is something that has been difficult for me to admit, but in all honesty, that difficulty only stemmed from the fact that he hid it. And the fact that he ALWAYS taught me to accept any and all sexual preferences, but he couldn’t even fully accept his own. In a way, his shame turned into my shame, and for lack of a better explanation, it just confused the shit out of me.

I know that “times were different” a couple decades ago. I’m sure he struggled a great deal and I can’t be mad about the fact that it was extremely difficult for him to accept himself. ALONG WITH THAT, I know that it is still very hard for soooo many people to come to terms with their sexualities today…. BUT THIS IS MY WHOLE POINT.

WE, AS A COUNTRY, ARE THE REASON THAT THIS IS STILL SO DIFFICULT. By spreading negativity we’re basically preaching that you should be ashamed of your differences. 

Do I think my dad would not be in jail if our community was overall more accepting? Not necessarily. He has plenty of other issues going on that factor in to that situation…….BUT I do think I would have had a much deeper and more honest relationship with him if he had been less afraid to love who he wanted to love.

To hide part of who you are out of fear is a horrible, horrible way to live. Why are we STILL actively letting people suffer this way? Why do we STILL care about sexuality (and gender) SO MUCH.

I know I say all of this as if change should be easy. And I know, in a way, I might sound like I’m minimizing the situation. But in reality, it really should be that easy. I know it never will be. The world will always be filled with as many opinions as there are people. And I know my opinion may not change a single person’s mind, but I still think it needs to be said.

I still think people should be reminded that it really can be that simple to change your outlook. It can be that simple to accept that everyone is different. You may not agree with their actions, but you can live a life full of compassion regardless.

There are so, so, so many worse things happening in the world to worry about. Quit wastin’ so much negative energy on this topic and fix world hunger or something IDK, GOD. 

So it turns out sharing a little bit of my personal life on here has already had some pretty cool outcomes

alexkrump:

Although these may be little accomplishments, bear with me, because its progress nonetheless. The morning after I wrote that long post about my inability to express my feelings, one of my best friends reached out to me about how she felt like it took a lot of courage for me to share those thoughts publicly. I know its silly, but things like that, even from someone I talk to everyday, feel really great sometimes. 

Sometimes all you need is a reminder that what you’re doing takes guts. It is so easy to beat yourself up and feel like you’re weak and cowardly and incompetent because you don’t have everything (or anything at all) figured out. As cliche as it is, we really are our own worst critics. I am so guilty of that every single day. But positive affirmation from someone can really go a long way. I need to remember to try to share that positivity with other people more often also. 

Today another friend of mine happen to stumble upon my tumblr and that post too. It felt good to know that I have people that genuinely do care, and genuinely do want to listen and want to let me be open and vulnerable with them. It is so easy to automatically assume no one wants to hear what you’re struggling with. At my anxious moments, I work myself up and assume that because no one is asking if I’m okay, they don’t care about my wellbeing. But in reality, how does anyone know to ask how you’re doing if you don’t give them a reason to? 

It takes a lot of courage to admit to someone that you’re not okay. But I try to remind myself that that courage almost always brings a massive reward. It is terrifying to feel like you’ve given this big part of yourself to someone else. Especially because they can literally do anything they want to you in return. No one has to accept and support you, and honestly not everyone will. But I can pretty confidently say that most people will, and with that support you will grow. Those people who do end up judging you will help you grow too. 

Not every day is a good day for me. I actually had a few pretty bad days before this, but I’m thankful for today. I am thankful for the reminder that I have people to rely on, even when my anxiety is trying to convince me I’m so completely alone. With this support I will hopefully start to take more and more baby steps towards allowing myself to be a more honest and vulnerable person. Maybe one day I’ll be able to share these feelings in person with someone! 

It’s also pretty cool that my post last week got 3 likes. I know that is such a minuscule number, but to me it means a lot. It means there are 3 people out there that read that post and could relate to it enough to like it. There are 3 people out there that understand how I feel. 

Maybe one day soon I’ll have the guts to share something more detailed about my dad.