Let’s Talk About Rape!

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I can see you cringing on your chair right now. And you must be thinking, “What the eff, Barbie?” But, you know, to this day, I get weekly random hits on my suicide post from Google searches. It’s by far my most viewed and popular post. Why? Because there are some things we just need to talk about, as uncomfortable as it may seem for us. And rape is one of them.

In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Which is awesome and it makes me ashamed that we don’t have something like this in Brazil — or if we do, it’s so under-divulged that in my twenty-five-almost-twenty-six years of  life I’ve never heard of it. Because that’s one of the huge problems with rape: No. One. Talks. About. It.

So, I will.

The lack of talking and information is what makes it such an underreported crime. No matter how much statistics try to be accurate, they’ll never truly be when we take into consideration the amount of rapes and sexual assaults that will never be make known to the world. Or to anyone, for that matter. Not even one’s closest friend. Because not talking about rape makes it dirty and shameful and the victims’ fault. And isn’t it what the perpetrators want?

That’s why we need to speak out. The more people talk about it, the more we make sure it’s okay, the more victims and survivors will talk, and the more rapists will know that they can’t just get away with it — even if they still do so legally. Did you know that 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail? And there are so many reasons for that: one is that most of the time, rape isn’t reported. Victims are afraid  and ashamed to speak. And you know why is that? Because even when they do report, they still have to fight to prove a crime actually happened, which is utterly absurd, because that shouldn’t be the victims’ job.

But it is. It’s  2014, and it’s still the victims’ job to convince something happened to them. It’s perhaps, the most obvious application of that famous “innocent until proven guilty” cliché. Because we live in a sexist world, and rape culture and victim blame are very, very much part of it.

If you’re from Brazil like I am, you’ve surely seen all the controversy around the survey on sexual assault in which the great majority of people claimed that “if women knew how to behave, there would be less rapes”, and if “women are dressed inappropriately, they deserve to be assaulted”. To say I’m ashamed to live in a country that most men and women have this kind of mentality is an understatement. That people still believe that what a women wears has anything to do with the fact that she was assaulted and that she could be in any way to blame for being raped. That she would be, as society views, getting herself raped, instead of being violated.

(If you’re not Brazilian, you can read about it  in this HuffPo link and see our girls’ protest!)

And you wonder why women won’t speak out?

Today, in the United States, is Denim Day, which came from a ruling from the Italian High court that said that a woman couldn’t have been raped because she was wearing tight jeans — so, how could she have been raped? She must have helped the guy take her jeans off. Women are encouraged to wear tight jeans for awareness today. I like these little acts of awareness that, even if people aren’t screaming out loud, they’re showing revolt.

I know talking about rape is hard, awkward and uncomfortable, but if we don’t do it, how are we supposed  to help those who need our help? How do we even know who needs our help, if people are too scared and ashamed to ask for help? Maybe some of you are reading this and thinking, “This has nothing to do with me, I’ve never been raped. I don’t know anyone who’s been raped.” Guess what, fella, you do! Statistically, you do know someone who’s been raped. More than one person, most likely. You just haven’t a clue about it.

I was reading about Rape Statistics for this and I came across an old link, and countries like France and the US had a much higher  number of rapes than South American and African countries. And it made me think of something I always hear, “Wow, there are so many rapes in the US.” As if we don’t have an equivalent (or even higher) number of rapes here. What they have that we don’t is AWARENESS. They have an awareness month, for crying out loud. What about us? They have “more rapes” because more people report it and they have more accurate statistics. In countries in which no one ever, ever, ever talks about rape, a country in which you go to school and barely have sex ed, but rape is not once mentioned, you don’t have awareness, campaigns, sexual assault centers, who’s going to talk about it? Who’s going to be there for people who need it? Who’s going to reach out for help?

So, I speak out in my humble blog, even though it’s not much, it’s still awareness.

Now, like in my suicide post, I’d like to debunk a few rape myths, if you guys are still with me.

Only Women are Raped

False. One in five men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. If you think it’s hard for women to come forward with a sexual assault, can you imagine what it is like for a man? Our society expects men to be “able to protect themselves”, and if a man is raped, he’ll often feel like he failed to do that most basic thing. The rape of men are even less reported, because they’re so filled with shame and guilt, that men feel no one will ever understand how they “let that happen”. The truth is, men are raped, just as women. When someone is in a position of fear, of terror, it doesn’t matter how strong they physically, it doesn’t matter how brave they are, it doesn’t matter their gender, they do what they have to do to survive. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re threatened with weapons and sometimes with physical force. In any, in no case at all, rape is ever the victims fault.

If you feel any sort of pleasure, it means deep down you liked it/wanted it.

False. The human body is a beautiful machine and it does everything it can to protect itself. If someone feels any sort of sexual pleasure during a rape — and this is actually very common — it means two things: their body is functioning the way it’s supposed to by responding to stimuli, and their body is protecting itself from pain. Because by having sexual reactions, the body gets itself ready for sexual intercourse, even if unwanted, to prevent any more pain. That is normal, and it doesn’t  mean it’s willing or wanted. Having a physical reaction during a rape is one of the greatest causes of shame and guilt. But that isn’t anyone’s fault. The body is a machine, and it, really, acts on its own.

If you were drinking/partying/doing drugs/wearing tight clothes, you facilitated your assault.

False. That’s the thing about rape: it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re wearing, how wasted you are, where you are or who you’re with. Unless you’re with someone consensually, unless there’s agreement on both parts, if you didn’t want sex, it was rape, and it wasn’t your fault in absolutely any way. The only person at fault is the rapist and if someone thinks tight clothes or  wasted women (or men) are some sort of invitation for sex without their consent, they’re the ones who have a problem, not you. Never you.

Rape can be prevented.

True.

By you.

True.

If you’ve been the victim.

False. Whoa, wait, what, Barbie? You’re going too fast. No idea what you mean here. Okay, I know, let me lay it out for you. The thing is, rape CAN be prevented. By me, by you, by us as a society, by talking about it, by spreading awareness, by talking to children and teenagers about it, by teaching young boys what’s respect and what’s right and what’s wrong, by enlightening our society of the dangers of a sexist society, of a prejudiced society. But you can’t prevent rape by wearing a certain type of clothes, by not going out, by not doing… whatever. Because rape isn’t your fault. It is the rapist’s fault. And, the way I see it, it’s the society’s fault, for making it such taboo and so difficult to talk about it and reach out for help.

A Few Things I Want You to Know

  • Like with my suicide post, I’m not going to ask any questions or incite comments. What I ask you to do is: share this with your friends, you probably have no idea who needs it. And I truly mean it. Okay?
  • If you want to talk about something, you can hit the comments, of course. You can talk about anything. And if you need to talk about something in private, you know where to find me — if you know me personally :-)
  • If you came here by Google Search and you need to talk about having been raped, there are some amazing resources out there. In the United States, RAINN is probably where you’ll find the most resources. If still, you just want to talk to someone, and you feel you have no one, if you feel alone, I’m no expert, but I can hear you, you can talk to me. My comments need to be pre-approved, so, no one will see anything you have to say and I can get back to you if you leave any information.
  • I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you’re my close friend, my classmate, an acquaintance or a complete stranger. But if you have been raped, I want you to know it was not your fault. It doesn’t matter what happened, when it happened or how it happened. It wasn’t your fault. Never your fault. Hear me? No? Want me to say it again? It. Was. NOT. Your. Fault. I can promise you that.

 

 

 

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Filed under Life in General, Sexual Assault, Women's Rights

The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in God (and other stories)

As a teacher, my job is the most fascinating of all. Teaching isn’t the best part of it by far. It’s the conversations I have with my students, what I learn from them, about them and about life that make me go back every day. I’ve taught  students of virtually all ages, and though children and teenagers are my favorites, I’ve warmed up to some young adults, too. It’s all about the stories I get to hear, the fact that I get to be there for them, with them, to see them grow, as students, as people, as human beings.

Of course, I don’t want to break my students’ trust by any means, and I’m keeping this anonymous. But there are stories I want to tell. Stories only someone who’s been in a classroom hears. They’re beautiful, fascinating, heartbreaking. In each of my students’ eyes, I look for their stories. Maybe because I’m a storyteller, and a reader, at heart.

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From a ten year old, maybe I’ve heard the one I’ve felt the closest to my heart. Not the most important, because I don’t rate them. But the one I could truly identify with, even if our circumstances were somewhat different. Teaching English to E, she told me, among “I dos” and “I didn’t knows”, that kids at school shunned her out. They didn’t exactly bully her per se, but mostly excluded her. I asked her why, and she told me she doesn’t believe in God. I asked why doesn’t she, not as a reprimand, but out of pure curiosity, especially because E went to the same catholic school I went to. She told me her father and her sister don’t believe in God, either, and she didn’t see how it made sense. She explained me very eloquently in her ten year old words, why she didn’t believe in the same thing everyone she knew did. “That’s how they talk about me,” she told me. “You know E? Yeah, the girl who doesn’t believe in God.” And that stuck with me. Because for years I felt left out in my catholic school. Not that I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe the same.

I explained to E that at ten years old, it’s very hard for kids to understand different beliefs and why they exist. It’s very difficult for them to respect and include those who don’t participate in the same kinds of activities. And, even as I did tell her that as you grow up you realize that what feels now to be such fundamental difference doesn’t really affect all your friendships in the future, you kind of always feel a little bit the odd one out when you see the world differently from most people you know. It’s hard to find people who believe like you do. But we’re lucky, I said. We have our families. And once in a while, we find someone, I said. “Like you?” she asked me. “Like me,” I told her.

Twelve year old M told me her mother had told her God was the most important thing in her life. (I’m not following a pattern, I swear. It’s just an interesting story), but she didn’t know what she believed in. I asked why, and she said she didn’t know. I told her what I believe in, which is in spiritual evolution, communication with spirits, reincarnation — in short. She told me she didn’t believe me in spirits because her best friend had died in a car crash and she had never seen her ghost. I stopped short on my tracks, trying to think of a smart thing to say. I had none. I told her I don’t believe that’s how it happens, that seeing someone who passed away isn’t healthy to neither the person who passed to the ones who stayed. But I don’t think it helped.

Once, I told my eight year old student she was very cute. She said, “I’m not cute, I’m ugly as a cow.” I had absolutely no response to that. I muttered an “of course you’re not.”  but I have to confess that’s when I’ve been the most speechless. I debated telling her mother that she felt that way, or expressed herself that way, but I didn’t feel I was intimate enough to do so.

Once, I was sharing a personal story with a student I had befriended — I will do that sometimes — because I happened to be upset that day. She was older, almost my age. Twenty-four at the time. We were talking, but she was the one who told me that when she was a teenager, she got to weight 80lbs and no one noticed. “The hardest thing in life,” I told her, “is living with someone, waking up, going to school, working, coming home, sharing meals, everything, and them not noticing how much you’re hurting.” She cried. And said I was the one who ended up helping her.

A sixteen year old student told me once she wanted to save herself for marriage. I told her she felt that way now, but just wait until she met a guy she really wanted to be with. Chances were, she wouldn’t. She would change a lot, and she would see that saving herself, despite idealistic, wasn’t really a great practical idea. She’s still saving herself (I think!)

I think about my conversations with my students often. They make me a greater person. They make me a greater teacher. I love that they trust me to be part of their lives. (And I hope they don’t mind me blogging about them — all anonymous, I promise, guys!) <3 It reminds me of when I was a student and I shared my life with my teachers!

What about you, guys? Any great students stories you wanna share? What about you guys who aren’t teacher? Ever had a great moment with a teacher? Share away!

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Filed under Education, Jobs, Life in General, School, Stories, Teaching

Do “Cool” Girls Die Alone?

Throughout the day, this HuffPo link has been posted in my timelines more than once:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-turner/cool-girls-die-alone_b_4400215.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

It’s the post from an author called Amy Turner about how she feels “cool” girls die alone. She has an interesting theory, really. Except the problem with her text is that cool there is interchangeable with self-sufficient, well-educated, tough, with  nice jobs. It’s her belief, it seems, that women like that need to be in control. “Control kills intimacy”, she says. And having both things aren’t possible. She talks about buying a home (contrasting with hard-working/well-earned women who have money to buy their own homes) is something that is worth it when you share this home with someone. Can we say “awwww”?

The woman has an idea there, except she’s got it all mixed up. Maybe I’m a hypocrite to be writing about this literally just a couple this after talking to my friend about how I’d end up alone because I just don’t connect to people and how all I’ve ever wanted in my life was a great and satisfying job, but hear me out.

What I’ve always believed — and I blogged about it just the other day! — is that we go through life and we meet people who make us happy in different moments of our lives. There may not be one single person for us, but there’ll be different people who will be there, throughout the years, the decades. And the way we go about life, how we see it, and doesn’t make us unable to meet these people. It just changes the sort of people we are going to be involved with.

Amy Turner talks about buying aprons and making casseroles, as if that aspect of a homey life makes any woman more of a wife/girlfriend material, as if that makes anyone more lovable. Dude, I’ve had two grandmothers who were married their whole lives. One of them never stepped into a kitchen. Both worked out. One was a lawyer/banker/historician (most awesome person ever), the other was an engineer. And this was the 1950s!  They were both loved, cared for, and one of them died surrounded by all the love in the world.

We’re in 2013 now. The idea that being tough and cool and career-focus and in control of yourself and your body and your life keeps you from being sweet and kind and and warm and from giving yourself completely to someone else is sort of unimaginable. I’m sorry, Amy Turner. But you were talking about going back in time and giving up power. You don’t need to give up anything t be loved. You don’t need to give up femininity to have a full time job, or motherhood to work out. You can make casseroles in aprons (personally, I love baking instead), and you can go out and do your job, and come back, and build a home. I don’t see, and I can’t see, why they’re mutually exclusive.

The idea that control kills intimacy is worrisome, and it worries more that is being sold out there. We all need to have control over something. Of course we do. Who’s gonna have control over us, then? Over our bodies, over our lives. That doesn’t mean we can give love, and care, and parts of ourselves to others. It doesn’t mean we can’t make ourselves vulnerable. Of course, some people have issues and can’t get past something that happened and give themselves up. But you can’t generalize it. In this century, most women will work out, have emotional, financial, physical power over themselves and still be able to live full happy lives with someone else.

If not, then what are we living for? Also, ‘control’ means knowing when to keep back and when to give up. Women who have control over themselves are the ones who let themselves go, who are emotionally mature and ready to fall in love, to be intimate. They’re the ones who aren’t being controlled by their past, their failures, their insecurities.

So, I disagree. I think once you have control over yourself, your life, your career, then you’re ready for intimacy, for sharing that with someone else. Someone you can let go of the control and let yourself be. Isn’t that just awesome?

So, what do you guys think? Do you think ‘Cool Girls Die Alone’? Do you think girls who have control have a harder time having intimacy? Talk to me! :)

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Filed under Guys, Jobs, Life in General, Love, Polemics

What if You Could Go Back (and change your past)?

With my graduation just around the corner in three weeks, it’s hard for me not to feel like I face impeding doom, a deep dark hollow , extreme uncertainty in front of me, as I leave University, and have to ask myself: what’s next? Of course, I have a few things lined up, but that will depend on whether or not I’m good enough they will work out, if things will arrange themselves, you know life. Fact is, though, as of this minute, if I were graduating today, I’d have no job, no future, no nothing. It kind of makes you freak out.

And question every decision you’ve ever made that led you to this place, which, apparently, it’s a normal place to be when you’re graduating University. (Except most people graduating are much younger than twenty-five-year old me because they didn’t waste two and a half years at Law School). As you can see, I’m in a bit of a life freaking out right now. Which leads to my post.

In my last vacation, just as these feelings of total despair confusion started to settle, my friends suggested that I watched this tv show, which turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done all year. Possibly in my life, because it completely changed me. The show is called Being Erica, and it’s not only the best show I’ve ever watched (sorry, Charmed, I still love you!), but it’s exactly what I’ve needed this year, as I go through all these stupid confusing messed up growing up changes.

Let me catch you up: the show is about this woman, Erica Strange, who’s thirty-two years old, and about as underachiever as one can be (Hello, instant identification!). She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s beautiful, but she holds a low class job, she doesn’t hold on to a guy, and she’s super insecure. And she blames it in her past choices. Fine. We’ve all done that (right?). In an especially bad day, in which she a) is fired from her job, b) is dumped by a guy she’s dating, c) suffers an allergic reaction and almost dies d) all the previous answers, Erica is approached, a the hospital, by Dr. Tom, a therapist that claims he has the only therapy she’ll ever need: results guaranteed.

(Follow this link NOW and watch this Being Erica trailer and go watch the whole show! It WILL change YOUR LIFE! and if you’re thinking: “But I don’t want my life to change.” That’s where you’re wrong!)

And that’s where she show really starts. Dr. Tom’s brand of therapy is hardly traditional: he does Time Traveling Therapy, which allows Erica to go back in time, revisit her past mistakes/bad choices, undo them, and change herself and her life. But that’s the best thing about the show, though: it falls far away from the cliché, because as Erica goes back in time, changes her past, her actions, her mistakes, her present hardly changes. Very, very little of her  current life is actually changed by changing the past. What truly changes is the inside of her. What her trips to the past truly offer her is perspective on what’s happening, on how she came to be the person she is and how she could change and improve that person. And that’s what makes the show completely amazing. Because if it was touch and go, change and done, there would be little to learn from it.

Also, you have to give huge props to Erin Karpluk, the actress who plays Erica, who’s about the most relatable girl in the world. She’s gorgeous, but not in an Angelina Jolie sort of way, more like, “Wow, if I really took care of myself, I could actually be as pretty as that girl.” She feels so real, and her face has about the most beautiful shape in the world. And, I have to say this, no actress ever cries as well as she does. It’s like she’s feeling everything Erica is. It’s amazing.

So, I watched this show, and as I saw Erica grow  and change, it really inspired me to go after what I want to. But, if you know me, I’m about as insecure and underachiever as they get, too (basically, I AM Erica Strange, without the being gorgeous part and having all the hot guys around me). Of course, when a show had this much impact on me, it’s hard not to wonder, how would I do Time Traveling Therapy? What would I change? What are my regrets?

Maybe that’s the greatest difference between Erica and I. She has tons of regrets, while I have very few. I mean, she has these huge regrets, and and mine are mostly very silly things that would hardly affect the way I view life and the world. Like, the first thing I can think I really regret, from the top of my head, is not going to the Spice Girls reunion concert (in Vegas or Los Angeles) when I was in Reno. I mean, such a missed opportunity, right? But it hardly changes my life. (Although, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for that one. It’s the Spice Freakin’ Girls!)

Still, my regrets are few. Do I regret the two and half years I spent in Law School that stalled my life? I don’t kn0w. If I weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have started Linguistics and Lit when I did, and I wouldn’t have met all my friends and my professors. So, how could I?

Do I regret not being more involved in University from the beginning? Yes. And No. Because I promised myself I wouldn’t go through another University Hell like I did with Law School. And I didn’t find myself in anything at school until my last year when I discovered Sociolinguistics. Being more involved before that would have meant putting myself through something I didn’t want to. So, I don’t think I regret, not really.

I guess what I mean is, Time Traveling Therapy would be an amazing idea to gain perspective from the past, to see how things could have been different, to have gone to that concert!!!!, but, in the end, I don’t know how that would work for me. (Not that regular therapy is all that great either). In the end, what I really did learn with Being Erica was to go after I wanted, to break away from my insecurities, to be strong, be myself, be kind, don’t give into pressure, don’t be so hard on myself, that you can love someone and they may not be the right one for you, that you can be in love with someone, but not sexually attracted to  them, that  family is everything and so are friends, that time and space do matter when it comes to love, and that I want it all for myself some day.

My point is, I wouldn’t change much about my past, because it made me who I am. That’s how the show works anyway. She changes the past, and she still needs to change the present anyway. So, what I need to change, is me. From now on. Here and now. Today, tomorrow and the day after. Next year. Even though I feel I’m going to be swallowed whole by life. And I have no idea what’s coming. And I’m scared as hell.

So, my question for you is: if you could go back in time, do Time Travel Therapy, or maybe just once, would you change anything? What would you change? Do you think changing your past would change your present?

ALSO, GO WATCH BEING ERICA! :)

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Filed under Jobs, Life in General, School, Television

What’s Your Fairy Tale?

As most little girls, I grew up hearing fairy tales, in which the prince and the princess get married in the end and live happily every after. And, from the time I was a little girl, I would see my little friends dreaming about their prince charming and the day he would scoop them up in a white horse, have a beautiful wedding and ride together into the sunshine.

I’m not sure when I realized there was something wrong with me, that I was different from my little friends, but it’s been a long time. While, for most of my childhood years my friends were dreaming about Leonardo DiCaprio and how he was the King of the World, I was thinking about how I wanted to be an actress when I grew up.

Or a detective. An archaeologist.

And then, an author.

But from when I was very little, my dreams never, ever consisted in getting married and having a family. It was always, always about having a job that I loved. And that was something very hard to grow up with. Honestly, sometimes, it still is. I remember having my friends being guy crazed and talking about guys all the time. It’s not like I have anything against guys — guys are awesome, I love guys! I liked talking about guys, too. But not all the time. I definitely didn’t like talking about future plans, because mine were so differently from theirs. Theirs were about meeting the love of their life an having a great family. Mine? I just want a job that makes me feel whole.

It’s not that I want to be alone, of course not. But… I never saw being with someone as something essential in my life. I have this friend — and she knows who she is — who tells me she needs to learn how to be alone. That she’s never been alone since she started having boyfriend at the age of thirteen. She says she feels she needs to be with someone, always. For me, that’s never been the case. In fact, I kind of feel better alone.

Maybe it’s because I’m a product of a “broken home” (I’m using the term sarcastically, in case you couldn’t tell), but I’m one of those kids who never dreamed of getting married, but has always wanted ex-husbands, just like my mom (hers are the best!). I say this jokingly, but this is kind of the spirit.

The way I see it, though, is that A LOT of people I know see life a this thing where you have one soulmate, someone who completes you and makes you whole. I just think that life is a very long time to be with someone. I think there are many people out there who can make you happy. I think many guys can make me happy, for different reasons, at different times of my life. I want to meet these guys. I want to be with these guys. I don’t need to be with one of them forever or have a piece of paper to prove we’re together. I just want to enjoy the time we have.

On the other hand, there’s the job  thing. Of course, when you think about it, there could be a lot of things that make you happy. But could there? The way I see it, when you find something that makes it worth it, you hold on to it. When you find something that makes you wake up every day in the morning, you hold on to it.  When you find something that gives you a burning passion, you better damn well hold on to it.

But, Barbie, you ask me, don’t all these things apply to a person, too? My boyfriend makes me feel that way! I say great for you. But this stimuli  for you to feel this way cannot come from someone else. Not from a husband, a boyfriend or children. It needs to come from you, for you. Or you’ll have a wonderful family and still feel emotionally and personally frustrated. You’ll feel like you have everything, but you’re missing yourself and your passion.

When you have passion, though, you can find everything else. That’s what I believe anyway. You have an awesome job that you love? Your life is made, sister. You don’t need anyone else  to be successful and whole. Once you are, then everything else is just complementing this.

I’m twenty-five and my friends are not boyfriend crazed anymore. They’re wedding crazed now. All they ever talk about is weddings, engagements and everything in between. Sometimes, I feel like the only reason they want a stable job is so they can have  good income so they’re ready to get married.

Me? I’m still trying to get to my passion. To that burning force inside of me that makes me whole. No one else can do that for me. That’s my fairy tale. I wish the movies, the books, the stories would show that more often. One of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen was a romantic comedy in which the girl doesn’t get the guy, she gets the job of her dream, which, to me, is the perfect ending. I can’t imagine a better thing to get.

Now, I ask you: What’s your fairy tale?

Answered the poll above? Awesome! Tell me why! What did you dream of when you were a kid? Did you dream of getting married? Having an awesome job? Both? Did something/someone make you change your mind? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Filed under Guys, Jobs, Life in General, Love, Movies

Let’s Talk About Suicide!

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so, I decided to write a blog post talking about suicide. Suicide is one of those things that talking about it is the best way to prevent it, but no one ever actually talks about it, because it’s such a taboo subject, even though we’re in 2013 and most of us have lost someone close to us to it. Maybe people still feel it’s contagious, that it’s something you can catch by talking about it. Or maybe it’s because it’s often associated to mental illness, which has its own social stigma linked to it. But the fact is, it’s not something groups of friends will just gather around and chat about.

But it’s important, you know? To talk about it, and especially to demystify it.  There are so many misconceptions and so much ignorance when it comes to suicide, which is spread and leads to prejudice, and more not talking about it, and more people feeling like they have no other way out other than ending their own lives. That’s what I would like to do, talk about it a little, clear  some things up. As most of you know, I’ve lost close people to suicide. I’ve had some personal experience with it. I’ve read a lot about it. Will you hear me out?

Let’s talk about the ‘Most Common Misconceptions’ concerning suicide, shall we?

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Write love on your wrist for Suicide Prevention Day

People Who Kill Themselves Don’t Announce It.

False. Bull. Freaking. Shit. I’m sure that in some cases, sure, people don’t go around saying “I’m going to kill myself.” but this misconception leads to the effect of people thinking that people who talk about killing themselves aren’t actually going to do it. And I know this to be false, because both people close to me who killed themselves talked about it multiple times before doing it. And, with one of them, I know for a fact that people in her life thought she would only say it for attention, and she only attempted it before for attention, “because people who really want to kill themselves just do it”. In fact, people who want to die, who feel they’re lost and overwhelmed, often want help and support and care from those who love them. And, sometimes, these people just can’t see how much they’re needed. It’s not their fault, really. We’re talking about hundreds of years of history here, about misconceptions, about personal fear of having someone you love actually wishing to die. So, the person who is suicidal feels that talking about it and trying to hurt themselves is the way to call out to you. No one talks about suicide without actually having it in mind or just “for attention”. If that’s their way to call attention, in the very least, they have some kind of serious issues. If  someone you love is talking about dying, saying they wish to die, LISTEN. Maybe they do want your attention, so, give it to them. It may hurt. It may be scary. But they need you. And, you know what? You probably need them, too.

People  Who  Commit Suicide Are Selfish Bastards

False. When someone kills themselves, especially someone who’s a public person, the first batch of comments will be something like: “How could they do this to their family and friends?” “How could they be so selfish?” Now, I ask you, have you ever had the chance of reading the thoughts of someone who’s committed suicide? I have. A whole journal full of them. The one constant in them was how this person was getting in the way of the people they loved. This is how the mind of most people who kill themselves work. And maybe this isn’t that much of a comfort for those  left behind, but in their confused, lost mind, they truly believed their loved ones would be better off without them. And for those people here, especially those who have never been anywhere near that place of  pure despair  and nothing else, it’s hard to understand that, but for them, this is done out of love, a way of making life better for those who mean the world to them.  When they feel worthless and unworthy and that their life has become a  burden, for them, it truly feels like the world would be a better place without them. This is selflessness. Not selfishness. I know this is hard for most people to understand. Just give it a thought.

People Who Seem Happy And Make Other People Laugh Don’t Commit Suicide

False. You don’t have to walk around moping all day to be thinking about suicide. People often think that even though someone’s depressed or Bipolar or whatever, if they’re fun or funny or they *gasp* laugh and  make other people laugh, that makes them instantly suicide risk free, because, obviously, if you’re laughing it means you don’t want to die, right? I know this may sound ridiculous, but  I swear to you there are people who think that. Again, I think this probably has to do with denial that people they love may be going through such pain, but for some people, as long and you laugh and you’re living, you’re not thinking about dying, which is completely not true. How often do we hear about someone who committed suicide “Oh, they were always making people happy, I wish they could have been happy themselves.”? Way too often. That’s something to watch for. If someone, even jokingly or casually talks about dying, it doesn’t mean they don’t mean it.

Suicide is Preventable.

True.

By You.

False. If you’ve lost someone to suicide, you’ve inevitably felt guilt up to some point. You’ve wondered: “Was there something I could have done to prevent it?” Your mind must have gone through every possible scenario of what ifs, why nots, and what elses. The truth is, suicide, although preventable, is not  preventable by you, not really. When someone reaches the point when they want to take their own life, though they really do need the love and support of their family and friends, they can only be helped by themselves and by professionals. Noticing the signs someone is suicidal, though important, is something subtle and most people will probably miss it, even because we’re surrounded by stigmas and misconceptions and a whole lot of denial. You can’t change the mind of someone who’s suicidal simply by talking to them or telling them you love them or they’re worth it. It’d be lovely if it was that simple. When someone commits suicide, they come from a place of a lot of pain and darkness, that needs treatment, time and effort. Some people are impulsive and commit  suicide on a whim, some people plan it for a long time. But that doesn’t mean you could have stopped them. Ultimately, it was their decision. You have to know that. You have to know you’ve loved your best. You have to know hiding is what they do. I mean it.

A Few Things I Want You To Know

  • Today I’m doing things different here. I’m not asking a question or asking people to engage. I know suicide is an uncomfortable subject and most people don’t want to talk about it. It’s fine. What I’m asking is: SHARE THIS WITH A FRIEND. Maybe someone who lost someone to suicide. Maybe someone who may need comforting words. I don’t know. Just share.
  • If you do want to talk about something, feel free to hit the comments. I’m open to suggestions, comments, if you want to share a story, if you want to say anything, I’m all ears.
  • If you came here by Googling suicide and you’re in crisis, talk to someone. Reach out. There are people who are willing  to listen. I promise. And if you feel you have no one, talk to me, I’m here.
  • If  you know someone who’s suicidal, who talks constantly about dying, about killing themselves, even as a joke, even if  it feels uncomfortable to you, talk to them? Ask what’s up? Maybe they need someone :)

And, last, but not least, thank you for reading. This is important. So, so important. Love. Live. Reach.

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Filed under Life in General, Suicide

The Super Overprotective World We Live In

Yes, I said Super Overprotective.

But, before I get to that, I’m back. I finally have time to blog again after the Semester-From-Hell at University. I want to make this constant and fun and I hope my few  loyal readers haven’t abandoned me :)

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long time now. It’s something that gets to me every time I see any time I see censoring of any sort, every time I read articles on how teachers should interfere with bullying, every time parents say children should not watch this or that because it’s “too violent” or too scary. Mind you, I’m not talking about sexual content here, because, obviously, I don’t think five yeaR olds should be watching HBO produced tv shows. Still… stay with me.

I remember when I was a child, and my school had nap time, during which time, us kids that didn’t want to sleep were allowed to bring a movie from home to watch with the other kids. I went there from about 6-10, and I clearly remember watching, during nap time, with my other kid friends, Child’s Play, Bride of Chucky, Alien, Jumanji, Anaconda, Starship Troopers, Scream. I know there have been more. I also know none of us kids were terribly damaged and traumatized by watching horror movies during nap time at 7 years old.

Chucky

There were blood and guts and we screamed and cried and laughed and played pranks on each other. We’d hide in the dark and scare the hell out of the scaredy cats. When the characters we liked died, we cried. We hugged when the ones we liked survived the spree killing. I vividly remember that. The teachers? They were right that with us, watching the movies and watching us kids. The parents? They were the ones who sent the movies for us to watch — we brought them from home, remember?

I remember when I was a kid  and Candyman aired on tv. I must’ve been 7 or 8. Next day, EVERY KID in my class had watched it. I think we spent every free moment we had in the bathroom gathering up the guts to speak his name five times in front of the mirror in the bathroom.

I come from a generation when kids watched horror movies and saw blood and guts and played with it. They said Candyman’s name in front of the mirror then ran away screaming bloody murder. I come from a generation when we played Power Rangers during recess  and engaged in fist fights and high kicks. And that’s okay, you know?

I come from a generation when kids would stand up from themselves. It ticks me out so badly nowadays, when people make such a big deal about “bullying”. I’m sorry, but back when I was a kid, someone messed with you, you punched them in the face, and it was done with. This whole politically correct thing of “protecting your child” and “understanding your child” only leads to children that can’t stand up for themselves.

It leads to schools doing for children what they should be able to learn to do alone. When I was a kid, we took matters in our own hands, we solved our own problems. At six, seven, eight years old, we had much more independence than I see kids do nowadays. Independence to fight our own fights.

It’s funny, because I grew up watching horror flicks during nap time, and I see  the things kids are exposed to nowadays, and, in a way, it makes me flinch. Not only because it’s oversexualized, but because  he values it brings on to children are these values of overprotection and pseudo-independence.

Me? I’ll try and raise my children on the horror side of things, and teaching them to punch back first and tell the teacher later. Believe me, it works better.

So, what do you think about this overprotective culture? Do you think people are right to shelter their kids from these “monsters”? Or they’d better just teach them to stand up to them? Let’s chat! I’ve missed you all! :)

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Filed under Bullying, Education, Life in General, Movies