Because if you read anything I write, you should consider yourself warned it might evoke uncomfortable feelings. It is my intent to do that. It is not my intent to hurt my loved ones and it shouldn’t if you know me and you know you. The discomfort comes from something you don’t want to know. Or, it’s something you know but don’t feel allowed to say because you are constrained. I get it.

My parents worked very hard to stuff me into an appropriate box that all children are supposed to go into. Obey. Speak only when spoken to. Do not emote. Do not be controversial. Play the same sports the neighbor kids play. Don’t stand out. Get good grades. Be good. Be behaved. Be same. Same is safe. Same does not cause embarrassment or require explanation.

I am not same. I could never be and I raged against it my whole life. It’s actually remarkable to have such a strong kid weed her way right through the roots and up no matter how many times you pick at her to go away. If only every child were encouraged to do that. Imagine who they might grow up to be when encouraged by sun and not hidden in shade.

You can’t put me in therapy by the age of six and tell me not to tell anyone and expect me to end up same. It was never possible. Like all parents, it wasn’t I’ll intentioned. It was meant to keep life from being too hard on me or unnecessarily hard on me, I suppose. Didn’t work for my sister, she still wound up gay despite behaving appropriately.

I would argue that growing up with depression, being raped as a young adult, surviving a bombing, struggling with a weight issue, having PTSD and a number of other poor experiences were not at all caused by me being a sensitive kid who didn’t want to play sports. A lot of that stuff was caused by assholes being assholes…criminals in some cases. My emotional shit, some just in my genes and some environmental growing up with an emotionally damaging father. Who I was, who I am didn’t make those hard things happen to me. In fact, I would argue my differences have been my strengths and made me infinitely more resilient than peers in similar situations who are “same.” Same isn’t allowed to fight back. Same isn’t allowed to speak out. Same isn’t allowed to have hair out of place. Same would have killed me.

I see all my loved ones in the form of stories. Some of my friends are same. Some are different. The different ones are faring better against their adult tragedies than the others. I write my truth for all of them in the hopes they find something in what I say they can attach to as safe haven in a world where they aren’t supposed to tell anyone they don’t know how to swim.

I have multiple friends who lost parents at young ages. One of them has made a comment to me about how lucky I should feel to have both my parents. Oh, I know. I cherish them, flaws and all. Losing them will be the end of me. But I can still talk about them and air our dirty laundry and still feel lucky. I don’t have to be told that.

All of my friends have problems. I don’t need to be reminded of that when I tell my own stories. I have not ever forgotten their stories. It’s just I am only allowed to tell mine. I do so in their honor. I bet I even pray for them more often than they pray for me. That’s ok.

I have a friend who was molested multiple times as a child and sexually assaulted as an adult….by the same guy who did mine. In fact, had I not been trying to be same right after, she wouldn’t have experienced that one. In fact, I have many friends who have been sexually assaulted.

I have a friend who lost her one healthy family relationship being her mom. She then Lost her best friend, brother and father all within a year of one another. She has one kid who is always ill. It would not be normal if they weren’t in the hospital once a month.

Another friend – a woman born to be a mom had 2 abortions before being physically, mentally and fiscally ready to have the lovely husband and 3 boys she has now. Those young adult choices were made of the same love she shares with her family now. They were incredibly painful but not remotely shameful. She was right.

Another friend found out in high school her father was HIV positive and she spends a lot of time looking after her mother who is often mentally ill and incapable of leaving her home. This friend’s husband (who I introduced her to) also wound up with one gay parent and also found out about a sister he never knew he had.

One friend was adopted from Korea into a family which later split up, the mother being somewhat mentally incapable of parenting. From what I can suss out, seems like some kind of narcissistic disorder. She has now been adopted by her stepmother and her first adoptive mother doesn’t know. This friend will soon be a mother herself. She’ll be phenomenal. But I think she’s lonely sometimes.

Last year, one friend’s father wasn’t feeling well, went to the doctor and died days later. No preparation. No build up. Not that losing my father will be easier but he’s had cancer 4 times so I have had a slight hint.

I have friends and family members who are gay. I think they are the most mentally healthy of all of us. They also live every day with some level of profound fear the rest of us can’t comprehend. Well maybe a little of those with PTSD. We too go through life looking over our shoulders for snipers even when happy.

Many of my friends have dealt with suicides and drug overdoses. There’s nothing like losing someone you weren’t supposed to ever consider losing. I have been permanently altered by the death of my friend from an OD to the point I’ve had to give in to some level of religious belief because he visits me in such obvious ways. I actually think it would make me crazier to deny than to just admit it. Truth be told, I could never survive being on this earth without him so I have to believe he checks up on me. You never overcome these losses. You spend your life looking at empty furniture differently.

I have a friend whose parents were separated in high school which was a big secret at the time. They got back together but it seems like it was mostly because her mom may not have felt she had other options. Sadly, her parents have been hard on her…judgmental of they way she lives her life. I don’t think they believe a chiropractor deserves the same respect any medical doctor does. My parents would be insanely proud of me if I were this friend so it makes me sad for her. My parents are proud of her and grateful for her place in my life. She’s freaking amazing. She’s a warrior on all fronts. She is my glue. Her father is an alcoholic who has driven her kids while under the influence. Yeah. That’s her story. Its really sad.

So when you read a Facebook post you don’t like, you don’t need to tell me that other people have problems because I am fully aware. I hold all their stories in my heart. I remember the moments they broke. I remember the moments when they got back up and dusted off. I have not judged them. Not ever. I have loved them and collected them in my little pile and hold them safe in my arms even when I am not safe myself.

When I write about me, you are woven into my words. Maybe you can pick yourself out, maybe not. Maybe the fact that you can’t makes you think I don’t think of you when I say what I do. Oh, but I do. I think about you all the time. Some of you I am just waiting to see again when the kids grow up because I’m tired of asking and being turned down now only to see all your Facebook posts on all the other people you find time for. Some of you require an airplane to get to so it doesn’t happen often. Some of you are too far away for a frequent dinner. I get it. But you are always with me, even if you forget me….always.

Late this week I saw a motivational speaker who floored me. One thing she said is that when people attack you, it’s not about you. It’s about them. Something they are lacking which you might have. Something which makes them sad they don’t think they can talk about and they are aching that you can write about your pain and they can not. She compared it to when married friends keep asking why you are single and you think you must be missing out on something until you realize how much you get to enjoy travel, read, go to concerts, have expendable income for whatever you want. You realize you are happier than they are.

They want you to be married like them because then they don’t have to be reminded of what they are missing out on. They wouldn’t trade their families for anything in the world. That’s what they are trained to say and feel in their hearts most of the time. But just a little bit, once in a great while they are wishing they had had the whimsy to try being you before they settled down. They might trade their families in for a few days at least just to experience some of your freedom and joy. They can’t tell you that so it comes out another way…some kind of criticism of you. The way you spend money, the way you date, the way you drink, the way you talk, what causes you stress, what makes you sad or how you handle your own depression and anxiety because they feel they would handle theirs better than you. Yeah, more secretly because they believe the lessons of conformity. My rage against the same sustains me. I am alone. It has to. I have no distractions from myself.

Luckily for me. Most of my friends are actually happy about my travels and fun times. They feel genuine worry and sadness when I experience worry and sadness. They stand by, they wait, they don’t judge….they try to make me laugh. They check in a lot. They make up a part of every day….their presence is there every day…at least one of them a day. They are my tribe. We know each other’s written word, tones, humor, sarcasm, pain. We don’t check out on each other because we are too busy. We just don’t. When tragedy strikes, the group text starts and we pull together. So when I do get hit with a stray bullet, it definitely knocks me down. It’s unexpected and it never comes from the tribe.

Whenever I do get the random online attack, there are 10 texts/emails coming in from the tribe and my sister asking me why I have any friends who attack me because they think it’s odd and uncalled for. And then they remind me to keep speaking my mind because it helps them. And I collect them into my arms too.

I am a trigger warning. I’ve had a hard life. I’ve had a beautiful life. I’ve been blessed with the elite of friendships, an emotionally elevated group of people who bear no resemblance to any of the evils in the world. I’ve also lost some of them too. But just because I don’t speak my blessings out of the other side of my mouth when offering my criticisms and angsts doesn’t mean I am not aware of them in technicolor. You don’t have to tell depressed people they have nothing to be depressed about or that other people have problems. They know. In fact, if they are an empath like me, your problems are tattooed inside them alongside their own. They just aren’t my stories to tell. But I keep them all on my bookshelf when I finish reading them and underlining the most poignant passages.

Plus, be careful telling depressed people what they should and shouldn’t feel. It further isolates them and some may make unhealthy decisions which cannot be undone.

I write my story In deeps and darks. I write it in pen and don’t cross much out. I write it raw and gross. It’s who I am as a person. Truth is my responsibility. I believe that so strongly. Unshakable belief. Sharing my truth saves my life. And once in awhile, it saves someone else’s. I am not sorry for being who I am. I am sorry that your are embarrassed by it or if it shines a spotlight On something you don’t want to see. I fought to be this girl when I was a child. I’m 44 now and nothing has changed with the exception of only getting stronger. I will not apologize for keeping myself alive the ways I know how to. I will not apologize for keeping someone else hanging on either. I will bleed every time. But I will never change. You should never want me to.