Tag Archives: responsibility

**Trigger Warning**

2 Feb

Over on his blog, the ever-fantastic Chuck Wendig is currently hosting a comments-based discussion (brave one, he is) on trigger warnings when it comes to written material. Not every book is exactly “safe to handle” for every reader. But is that the reader’s job to gauge? Or the writer’s job to present up front, like an STD in a potential lover? Should books come with sets of trigger warnings?

For those who don’t want to read the N paragraphs below, I’ll tell you my personal opinion up here: No.

If you’d like to know the credentials behind that opinion and the whole long rambling comment I left in Wendig’s discussion, then, dear reader, venture on.

I pretty much promise there are triggers.

* * * * *

Context on me as a commenter: As someone who grew up with abuse of many kinds, eating disorders, and depression and who spent most of college in and out of treatment, residential and outpatient, for the lasting impact of all those things, I talked and was taught a crap ton about triggers. My therapists and I and the other lucky people in treatment discussed triggers around food, triggers around weight, triggers around body image, triggers around physicality and sexuality and self-esteem. There are about a *makes up really funny-sounding humongously big number* triggers out there. Some of them might stir feelings in me of wanting to not eat for a week, or puke up anything I do. Some of them might make me want to tear my skin apart. Some of them might send me flying back into a near-hallucination of memory-based, stimulus-galvanized panic attack where what’s real and what’s not becomes really slippery and I have to tell myself over and over and over again that the floor is real, the wall is real, the door is real, the friend beside me is Person X or Y and they are there to care and not to hurt me like my brain is trying to say there are, conflating them with so many person Z’s in the past who have. Triggers can be loud, concussive noises that send my adrenaline bursting. Triggers can be soft, gentle, well-meant and goddamn *wanted* kisses. Triggers are songs and sentences and slantwise jabs from strangers. tl;dr – triggers are everything.

But they are not everything *always.* What could poke at my emotions or my sanity one day might be something cathartic and beneficial another day. If the entire world is a trigger, then, as I have been told in so many group sessions again and again, it is not my job to censor the world. That’s not feasible. And that’s not fair. While I am not responsible for what’s happened to me, I am responsible for how I deal with it. If I want to do any semblance of living, it is my job, now, to figure out warning signs and preventative measures and people to throw in my safety net and what to tell them about different scenarios and breathing techniques and focusing techniques and fighting techniques and no, it’s not fair that I have to do all these things, but that’s just how it is. Because that’s how I get better. That’s how I fight back the triggers and pick off their numbers, one by one. Neural plasticity is a wonderful thing. But if I continually hide, never ever deal with the thing that hurts me, never practice coming up against it because I’ve cloistered myself from any possible sharp thing, then I am never going to change. I am going to remain crippled and afraid and hiding. And that’s when everything that led up to these triggers wins.

Yes, flashbacks are damn painful but I’d rather navigate my way through them than never be kissed by another human being ever again.

Yes, reading about suicide might make me remember my own attempts, but it also reminds me that hey, there are people out there who have experienced these things too, or who at least understand them well enough to write about them this way. And that’s way more valuable, how much less alone that makes me feel, then reading about rainbows and sunshine all day long. Because really that’s only going to make me nauseated.

There’s a difference between seeking out specifically triggering material and reading material that might crop up some stuff. I know not to go reading pro-ana or pro-mia stuff. That’s just intentionally triggering. And dumb. And not well-written, really. And on a day when I’m teetering back and forth across the line of sanity, I know that maybe I should pick up a Harry Potter book instead of Forman’s ‘If I Stay.’ But on days when I am angry at the world and what it has done to me, IS doing to me, then it’s those days that I really, really need Miriam Black and Palahniuk’s cast of psychopaths and N.K. Jemisin’s gloriously unsafe Nahadoth. I need characters with dangerous thoughts and dangerous emotions because they make me feel unalone in mine. They make my existence feel justified. They make me feel like I’m not just some aberration amongst the rest of the human race.

It’s up to me to know when my brain can play nicely with them, or meet them, if I’ve never perused their pages before. That vigilance is not your job. The only amount of warning you’re required to give me is a synopsis on a book jacket. Anything more, and it’s really just cheating.

—–

The only kind of trigger warning I want:

trigger warning

The economic meritocracy is broken. Let’s ditch.

15 Nov
I here the internet likes cats and infographics.

I hear the internet likes cats.

The world can’t be a meritocracy; the reward system isn’t even.

By which I mean, there’s a whole lot of disparity in the way that the world’s resources get distributed. Where “resources” means food, water, shelter, medicine, money – and pretty much everything else.

Guys, this is not ok.

So, call me a crazy anarchist hippy, or whatever political term of undearment (yes, spelling is intentional) you prefer, but generally, I think that people should pretty much be able to do whatever they want, as long as it’s not hurting other people (or, you know, themselves) in the short or long term. Yes, sure, go out and spend your money however you want, as long as you’re not buying mass amounts of mercenaries or heroine or something.

But, well, purchases are not made in isolation. And unfortunately, it appears that how we spend the resources of the world around us is currently a zero-sum game. Which means that while you’re not directly hurting anyone by buying your second mansion – or second latte – there are other people who because you made that purchase instead of giving the money (or the resource it could have bought) to them aren’t able to get their kid’s dinner, or their wife’s medication.

Now, I’m not saying “go out and donate every fucking chance you get.” There are waaaaay too may organizations out there, for just about every cause there is, for donating to every single one of them to do much good. Not all organizations are made equal, and not all money goes straight to funding what you thought it was. And besides, I get that not everybody out there has spare change to give. It’s okay for people to want to maintain a reasonably enjoyable standard of life. This is not entirely a “people don’t give enough money away” problem – it’s a corruption and inefficiency and societal structure problem as well.

But… still, on a pretty fundamental level, it is a problem with the way people spend money. There are tons of people out there who far surpass the “reasonably enjoyable standard of life” level. Millionaires. Billionaires. Hundreds-of-thousands-aires.

And then there’s our government. Oh god, our government. I’m referring specifically to the one that sits around most of the day in an air-conditioned building in Washington, DC (except for when they, you know, decide they don’t want to talk to each other anymore for a few weeks…), though what I’m about to say is probably true for pretty much every government. The US head haunchos collect so much fucking money every year, largely in the form of taxes from the lower and middle class, and is absolutely terrible at spending it. Because instead of funding domestic aid programs and poverty-prevention programs and welfare options for women fleeing abuse and higher salaries for teachers and a whole bunch of other things that might actually help relieve a lot of the poverty and homelessness in this country, it’s somehow more necessary that the government buy even shinier weapons for our military (because apparently wars are won through an our-technological-dicks-are-bigger-than-yours contest or something…), even as we by and large forget about the actual military people after they’re done shooting guns at non-Americans.

But anyhoo. That’s a really long rant, and there’s still a slightly different direction that I’d actually prefer to take this.

Let’s discuss a solution.

Vaguely.

Now, what I’m about to propose may sound like heresy. And yes, I understand that it would involve massive global reform, all the way from the level of the government down to local NGO’s, but with the understanding that I’m taking the spherical cow physics problem approach here, let’s move forward.

So – what if we just finally sucked it up and decided that we are in fact living as a collective pool of humans with a collective pool of resources, instead of a bunch of individuals who just don’t give a fuck about anyone we don’t actually have to deal with, as long as we can have that second latte every day?

I know it may sound like “raging dangerous communism,” but what if we had a “third party” (NOT our government, which already sucks at just doing its own job) decide who’s getting taxed how much and how all of that collective money is being spent (I know, I know, oh god, all the logistics), and see if we can’t do a better job of spreading around our polio vaccinations and PB&J’s?

“But I don’t need the government telling me how to spend my money!” Oh how many times I’ve heard this one. I understand. Yes, you have worked hard for that money. And it’s not optimal that someone else would take some away. But you did not make that money in a vacuum. And because all the collective money-spenders of the world haven’t seemed to do much besides make things worse while they’ve been running around without anyone really telling them what to do with all their dollars and cents, it’s time someone steps in and tells them how to clean this all up.

Think about it. How similar does this all sound to a belligerent teenager with a messy room? Yes, he knows his room is starting to sprout its own ecosystem, but it’s Friday night and there’s a party, and he’s worked hard on his homework all week, so doesn’t he deserve to go out and have a little fun?!

You know what that teenager’s mom is going to do? She’s going to tell him that he already had a little fun at that other party last week, that she’s been asking him to clean his room for weeks now, and since he still hasn’t done it, she’s freezing his assets – a.k.a. the car keys – until he’s learned to show proper respect for the rest of the people living in his house and not let his room turn into the source of a house-wide mold infection – or at least get rid of whatever rancid pizza box is causing that retched stench. And – if the teenager’s got a particularly vindictive mother – that mom might even tell her son that hey, his sister hasn’t been able to use the car for three weeks, so it’s her turn to have the keys anyway, never mind that he’s paying more towards the car insurance and gets better grades than she does. Because we were all supposed to learn share back in, like, kindergarten. And when you live in a collective, whether it’s a family of four or a world of almost seven billion, you base resource distribution on the recognition that there is another human being standing before you, not on what kind of “productivity value” has been arbitrarily assigned them by the luck of the draw that is existence. Because think about it in terms of a family; if members were given resources based on how much economic productivity they contributed to the family, live-in grandpas and hospital-bound newborns would be shit outta luck.

Because again, you can’t make the world a meritocracy when its reward system is broken. In the urban US, working 50 hours a week might get you enough to pay for a nice studio apartment, eat out a few times a week, and take a yearly vacation. In rural Pakistan, working 50 hours a week will get you a sore back, a sunburn, and oh man, your kids didn’t starve to death! Though oh hey, your medication-less wife did still die of a totally treatable infection…

So, how about until we’ve managed to become responsible global teenagers and cleaned up the world’s resource disparity, we freeze some people’s assets, reallocate what we have, and create a mother figure (you know, crowd-sourcing knowledge is a thing…) who can tuck in all the respective governments for a nap until they stop throwing hissy fits and learn to share better? Sound like a plan?

Yes, I know, it would be almost impossibly difficult.

But then again, people said that about airplanes too.

Did I mention that I just bought tickets for a flight on Monday?

 

 

Feel like shouting yet? The awesome Harry Potter Alliance has a plan (Hunger Games-based, brilliantly enough) to make some noise at our own Capitol about how we feel about all this economic inequality:

http://oddsinourfavor.org/

On a Long Week and Adulthood

14 Nov

This has been a long, odd week, lovely readers. Monday felt like Tuesday, except Tuesday apparently hated me and was even worse than the perennially detested Monday, and then Wednesday came in and decided that it could outdo Tuesday in the emotional writhing and logistical blows departments. It’s been fun. Where “fun” actually means “can I please rewind to Sunday and then press the ‘skip scene’ button so I can just move on to the weekend?”

I’m not sure how I feel about Thursday yet. I was the first one to the office (hoorah campus job), and considering ALL of my supervisors were at least 15 minutes late, it meant I got to be the one to handle three other people’s jobs until they showed up. But I did see a hummingbird while outside, waiting for security to come and unlock the building for me. And I think seeing a hummingbird is enough to make it a good day.

So, can I just go back to bed now?

Responsibility is tough. I don’t particularly like when I have to be “real world” adult. I’m not talking about being all grown up and taking care of myself and having to go work and pay bills and whatnot – I’m generally of the opinion that one can go out and do all those things, even be professional about it, but still come back home at the end of the day and build a fort in your bedroom. I usually find that the most well-adjusted adults are the ones that can still stick their tongue out at people and have tickle fights.

No, what I’m talking about is not the responsibility that I have as an adult to take care of myself and clean up my own messes. I’m talking about when I have to clean up other people’s messes because they’ve hurt me, but done absolutely nothing to the other person.

Like frantically calling my psychiatrist’s emergency phone number all night because my pharmacy still hadn’t filled my antidepressant prescription from three days ago and informed me that the medication was in fact on backorder, which is manufacturer speak for “god knows how long it’ll be till we get this to you.” Or like having to fill in for people, or run their errands for them, because they don’t have time and I forgot about the word “no.” Or like having to negotiate the sometimes conflicting expectations that other people have about my schedule when it comes to my being a volunteer and an employee and a student and a person.

This is the complicated part of being an adult. This is the part they don’t tell you about when they talk about preparing for the “real world.”

I’ll just go hide in that fort now, thank you.