#MeToo, One Year Later

One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.

One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.

It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.

One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.

945 Miles

Nebraska feels longer than Iowa

and Iowa felt like forever

while I was fast asleep.

I watch the miles drop

as I fly by green signs on the

highway traveling west.

Listening to a podcast,

my father sleeping in the passenger seat,

I wonder how long it will take

until I see something new.

Green fields and pastures filled

with cows, semi trucks too large

to fit on the road.

75 mph for almost two hours,

no stopping or terrible weather,

I watch the low clouds drift east as

I slowly wish to be lost in a dream.

Miracle Baby: 25 Years Later

On Saturday, the 25th of August, I will be turning 25 years old. My golden birthday. For those of you who don’t know my story, I’ll give the short version. I was supposed to be born on November 25th. My mom had a liver transplant when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me on July 1st. I was born at 27 weeks on August 25th, 1993. I weighed 2 lbs 2oz when I was born and dropped to 1 lb 7 oz shortly after. I had to spend the first five months of my lifein the hospital and I was on oxygen for the first two years of my life.

Everyone who I have told this story to over the years has responded by saying I am a Miracle Baby. I’ve known this my entire life. It’s a weird thing to live my life knowing all that of this traumatic and scary events happened that I have no recollection of. How I spent the first five months in an incubator. How it must have been for my parents to see me so helpless. How nerve-wracking it must have been to have a child who was going to have challenges beyond their control.  How worried my parents were about my later development of both walking and speech. There were so many things that could have gone wrong.

I know how lucky I am to be here. I know that had it been just a few years earlier, I would not have survived. I arrived at just the right moment where medical technology knew how to help premature babies have a good chance of surviving. Though I’ve developed later than most people throughout my entire life and I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that began as bronchopulmonary dysplasia when I was an infant, I’m so fortunate to not have any serious problems that have stuck with me from being born three months early.

We all have stories and events that define our lives. Miracle Baby was put on me long before I could comprehend anything about life. It’s been a part of who I am. I don’t know what life is like without this story that’s still mindblowing to understand. Every so often, I will stop and think, that really happened. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve been given a unique perspective from what happened to me when I was a baby. Every year on November 25th, I give a little moment to the day that seems so far away from my actual birthday. I think about the person I could have been had I been born on that date. But I’m also thankful for the person I am and for the life I’m so fortunate to live.

On my birthday, I always watch the news broadcast that was done on my early arrival. My mom and dad had a news story on them a month earlier to talk about my mother’s liver transplant while being pregnant. The first few years I would watch the news broadcast, I would think I was looking at someone else’s life because that’s the only way my young mind could comprehend this incredible story. It was only when I turned 12 that I began to process the fact that this story is mine, that little baby that looks like a tiny baby doll is me. This year on my golden birthday, I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last twenty-five years and how all that I’ve gone through has only made me stronger.

Pros & Cons of the Internet

Internet culture has its pros and cons. With sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, you can interact with like minded people without leaving the comfort of your couch or putting on clothes. You can stay up to date with friends and family with the click of a button. You can spend too much money when shopping online for items you don’t need but are 86% off. There are also major downsides for spending anytime on the Internet. Sharing your opinion or life can become personal when someone decides to threaten you over what you’ve chosen to post. People don’t realize that just because their anonymous doesn’t mean anyone won’t take the threat personally. I’ve often seen people say whatever they like, not thinking about what their words mean or say about them. Words words still sting, no matter how they get to you. Words hurt more than people realize. There are ups and downs to everything. Learning how to protect yourself online by blocking trolls and listening to your gut reaction when something doesn’t feel right is key when being involved with Internet culture.

#HowDemiHasHelpedMe

Yesterday, it was reported Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital because of an overdose. Some were reporting it was a heroin overdose. No matter what it was, hearing this news broke my heart. I’ve been a fan of Demi’s for over a decade and her music has really helped in times where I didn’t have strength. Through her songs, I found a place where I could be vulnerable and acknowledge some of my problems I was facing at the time. She gave strength when I needed it. She was a friend when it felt like I didn’t have anyone else. Demi really helped me through some difficult times.

Last month, Demi released a song called Sober. The chorus and the last few lines left me in tears. 

Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore
And daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor
To the ones who never left me
We’ve been down this road before
I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore

I’m sorry that I’m here again
I promise I’ll get help
It wasn’t my intention
I’m sorry to myself

I remember where I was when I first heard this song. I was driving south, the Rocky Mountains to my right. It was a hot summer day in June and the blue sky was almost a teal color with tiny clouds scattered above me. It was a moment where I didn’t feel as though I was focused on what was ahead. I was too busy playing the song on repeat, trying to remember the moment, thinking I would one day write about it. I don’t know why I thought this. And I never thought I’d be sharing this story now.

No one knows what someone else is going through. No one knows just how deep people’s demons can drag them. No one knows what’s going on internally. It’s scary to work through your problems. It’s difficult to ask for help. Sometimes it takes going to the bottom, where you think no one can see you in order to want to begin working your way back to the light. Inner demons can do a lot of harm. Reach out to the people you love and make sure they’re okay. If you see someone struggling, ask if they’re okay or go and find someone that can help. Look out for one another.

Demi’s family released a statement saying how thankful they are for all the love and support Demi has been getting. Life is a long road that can end sooner than you think. Fortunately, Demi is still alive. My heart goes out to her and anyone who is struggling with addiction.

You’re not alone.

 

Suicide: 1-800-273-TALK

Self Harm: 1-800-366-8288

Addiction: 1-800-662-4357

Eating Disorders: 1-800-931-2237

Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-SAFE

Grief: 1-800-395-5755