Photo by unsplash.com/@ninjason

I have been learning a very valuable lesson the last few days. It’s a lesson that I hope I’ll be able to use to help women inmates, and it’s this – most people don’t believe me when I tell them this is happening since the passage of SB132 in California.

  • They don’t believe that any male inmate can self-ID as a woman and be transferred to a woman’s facility.
  • They don’t believe me when I tell them that they are being housed with women in the same cells.
  • They don’t believe me when I say there doesn’t have to be any prior treatment for transitioning – no hormones, no therapy, no sex reassignment surgery, no living as a woman prior to incarceration.
  • They don’t believe me when I tell them about the CDC handing out condoms to the men when they arrive,yet they change their intake paperwork to “female.”
  • They don’t believe me when I tell them that sex is illegal while in custody but the condoms have now been made available.
  • They don’t believe me when I tell them this is not an “anti-trans movement”, but an “anti-predator of women” movement.
  • They don’t believe me when I tell them that the female inmates are disciplined if they file a complaint of sexual harassment and/or assault. They get punished for asking to help and protection against a predator.
  • They think and say I’m a bigot.
  • They think and say I am racist.
  • They think and say I hate trans people.
  • They form mobs on Twitter and harass me.
  • They are doing this to all of us. Not just me.

So, I learned that people only know what they want to know and if you come along and disagree and try to explain and educate, you’ll be ignored at best, or attacked. Either way, the wrong thing to do is go silent.The recent mob on Twitter actually made me chuckle because it’s composed of old Google Plus trolls that still have not moved onto productive lives. I almost feel sorry for them, but not quite. Being a worn-out troll really isn’t a good look for anyone. Sort of along the lines of a 50+-year-old still dressing as a 20+-year-old. It just makes you look older and haggard.

This is the verbiage from SB132:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as “The Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act.”

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:(a) The term “transgender” is broad and inclusive of all gender identities different from the gender a person was assigned at birth including, but not limited to, transsexual, two-spirit, and māhū. “Nonbinary” is an inclusive term used to describe individuals who may experience a gender identity that is neither exclusively male nor female or is in between or beyond both of those genders, including, but not limited to, gender fluid, agender or without gender, third gender, genderqueer, gender variant, and gender nonconforming. The term “intersex” is a broad and inclusive term referring to people whose anatomy, hormones, or chromosomes fall outside the strict male and female binary.

So I decided to publish the list – directly from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) – for you to see with your own eyes.CDCR has provided a copy of the Listing of Incarcerated Individuals (CCWF & CIW) 07.14.2021 OR Report.pdf and SB 132 TRACKING LOG (07.12.2021).pdf.  These reports provide the number of incarcerated individuals transferred to a female identified institution, based on their gender identity and completed approval process for transfer. 

In response to your request for “their charges as well as if they are convicted sex offenders.” Below is a listing of the various commitment offenses for the 21 identified incarcerated individuals housed in a female institution, based on their gender identity, as of July 14, 2021.  Four of the 21 incarcerated individuals are convicted sex offenders:

•           Murder 1st 
•           Murder 2nd
•           Attempted Murder 1st 
•           Bringing a firearm/explosive/weapon to a prison
•           Robbery 2nd Degree
•           Robbery 2nd with use of a firearm
•           Burglary 1st 
•           Carjacking
•           Arson of Property
•           Arson of Inhabited Structure
•           Arson causing Great Bodily Injury
•           Kidnap/Ransom/Extortion
•           Driving Under the Influence – over legal blood alcohol content
•           Continuous Sex Abuse of Child Under 14 Years
•           Manufacture Controlled Substance
•           Possess Drugs w/Intent to Manufacture
•           Adult Engage Oral Copulation/Penetration of a Child 10 years old or Younger
•           Assault by Life Inmate/Victim Killed (In-Prison Offense)
•           Rape with Force/Violence/Fear of Bodily Injury
•           Lewd and Lascivious Victim 14/15 Years Old and Age Difference of 10+ Years
•           False Imprisonment
•           Lewd and Lascivious Child Under 14 Years
•           Lewd and Lascivious Child Under 14 W/Force/Violence
•           Mayhem
•           Assault with a Deadly Weapon
•           Cruelty to a child
•           Possession/Manufacture of Deadly Weapon by Prisoner

CDCR has included the memorandum and corresponding attachments for “Senate Bill 132 Implementation” dated December 18, 2020, as it relates to the “criteria use to determine eligibility for such transfer.”

And there you have it.

We’re not lying.

We’re not transphobic.

We believe women are human and are entitled to the same human rights as everybody else.

We believe in same-sex space and you cannot change your sex.

We believe we are all being played and women are being harmed and killed because we’re collateral damage in the fight of genocide being done on our sex.

If you would like to help and have your voice heard, please sign the attached petition, share it and any other posts you can, and support our work. https://www.womensliberationfront.org/california-sb-132-a-disaster-for-incarcerated-women Thank you.

When women communicate, silence is often demanded and enforced afterward.

I had been off the Medium platform for over a year or so. I had been a member and paid my monthly $5.00 to have full access to all the writers and to hopefully make a few bucks. The $5.00 was like petty cash to me as it just came out of my Paypal account. Hardly noticeable and of no consequence to me.

On a good month, I broke even, but that was rare. It was and is never about the money. It’s always been about communication to others, the giving and receiving of communication. The money was always a way for a reader to help if they could and wanted to. Not everyone could and not everyone wanted to. It has always been fine with me either way.

I wrote for one of the feminist publications because I wanted to help and give a voice to the voiceless – female inmates.

I am well aware of the inclination and practice of most of society to lock people up and keep them out of our minds. “Out of sight, out of mind.” I get it. There are those that are a continuous danger to society and should remain in jail to keep the rest of us safe.

But that’s another topic for another time.

I wrote it and it was published. I kept my name on it as I needed to step up to the plate and take whatever hits would come my way.

There were some hits, but like all things on social media, it had its 15 minutes of fame and the mob moved onto the next shiny object.

Shortly after that, the publication was removed from Medium and the account canceled, along with the revenue stream.

This pissed me off big time. I canceled my account and began working more on my Patreon site and my blog.

I learned to never plant my flag in someone else’s garden. Plant it in your own and protect it.

Time goes by. The pandemic continues around the world and working from home has become normal for me. I even picked up more work and my life carried on.

I kept getting notifications from people reading and liking my Medium posts. Odd, since my last post was that I had left and wouldn’t be back.

After getting my 50th email about the traffic on my deserted Medium site, I thought maybe it had changed and improved. After all, everything had changed over the past 18 months; maybe Medium had stopped censoring women, so I signed up again and posted my latest blog.

I got the following email from Ev Williams:

I read it and decided to see what would happen if I responded and clearly stated my point of view, so I sent this email:

A couple of hours later, I got this email:</figure><figure>

I canceled my account and got the standard email of sorry to see me go.

I suspect if I had not responded to the “Welcome” email in the first place, I probaly wouldn’t have been nailed, but I’ll never know.

Here’s the post that got me silenced on Medium:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/56633513

You just can’t make this shit up.



I got called a TERF today,” I said as my friend sat down across from me in the booth. We were having dinner mid-week because we were both sick and tired of being at home.

“A turf? What kind? Bermuda? I’m more like crabgrass, I think,” she said.

“What? No, not turf, TERF,” I said. It made sense to me.,”T.E.R.F. You never heard of it?”

The blank look on her face answered my question.

“it’s an acronym for ‘Trans-exclusionary radical feminist’. It’s supposed to be a slur, I think. At least that’s how it was meant.” I sipped my iced tea and chuckled. I knew it was meant as an insult and at first, it stung for a moment, and then it made me smile.

As a writer, I had hit a nerve. A nice way to get paid; a reader responding is the whole point.

“The whole J.K Rowling thing is when I first heard about it. You know, she had the nerve to say that sex is biological. Can you even imagine?” I said.

“Oh, yeah. I heard a bit about that. Is it because of your work with women in prison?”

I nodded. “Yep. I knew it would eventually happen and I’m taking it as a badge of honor.”

“That’s good. Everyone is too afraid to say anything,” she said.

Our food arrived and we dug in and got caught up on the latest adventures, or lack of them in our lives.

I knew she was right. I knew I was sticking my neck out, but I didn’t care. It’s not as if I am anyone important or even well-known outside of my immediate life. I had a few followers online but rarely does anyone engage with me. Rarely did I engage with anyone else and I’m fine with that.

Until now. Now, I want to be heard and I want women to be safe. I don’t like that we women are aggressively being erased and told we aren’t real. When you tell someone, they aren’t real, you are saying they don’t exist.

No one has that right.

The hardest part is the amount of insanity that is being called logic and science and therefore truth. The “truth” is that anyone can change their biological sex just by saying so and we all must accept their reality and their truth.

The funny thing is, I’m fine with someone thinking that and feeling like that. I have no problem an individuals making changes that are closer to their own truth.

Somewhere along the line, the stance to keep women safe is equated as saying you hate trans people.

Like the time I said I hate liver. That doesn’t then mean I hate people who eat liver or any meat. It simply means that if liver is anywhere around me, I want to throw up.

A word is not the thing. Words represent the thing you are talking about.

2-sided logic. Reactive and not logical. Don’t like liver? That means you hate meat-eaters.

Do you want to stop males from housing with women inmates? You are anti-trans according to the “woke” mentality. 

The truth is, being an anti-predator does not mean anti-trans, and how that came to be thought as true is beyond me but here we are.

It’s lazy, sloppy, and does not see they are not equal or similar. Absolute values of right and wrong, yet there are thousands of shades of gray on right and wrong.

Neither one is an absolute yet 2-sided logic says that is all there is.

What’s unfortunate for me is I like to talk with people and discuss all kinds of topics, but I know that it is almost impossible for most on this topic.

I received a DM from someone that they were shocked at what I was posting. This is where I got called a TERF and she happily announced she had unfollowed me. I was going to respond and thought better of it, so I blocked her.

She immediately posted this and of course, the pile on started. I ignored it and went on with my day.

But it made me a bit sad because I would have loved to talk about it and explain that anti-predator has nothing to do with anti-trans and let’s all work together to make this a better place for all of us.

Staying silent gives them power. 

So, for those that object to 51% of the population (women) being raped by male prisoners  and degraded by them, this is why I and many of us are fighting for same-sex spaces, to allow women (and men) to have our own space, free from the opposite sex from interfering – the following are just a few of the men that are currently being housed in women prisons in the United States:



Jakob “Dakota” Neves – Massachusetts. Jakob is convicted of sexually exploiting two children under the age of 4, 1 count of distribution of child pornography, 1 count of possession of child pornography.



Jordan “Sora” Kuykendalic – Illinois. Stabbed his 17-year-old girlfriend to death.



Jose Smith – Iowa. Convicted of multiple (15 minimum) of child sex crimes, ages 1-13 years old. 



Miguel “Michelle” Martinez – Wyoming. Convicted of two counts of sexual abuse of a 10-year-old.



Water M. Moore “AKA Nikki Petrovickol – Maine. Murdered 41-year-old Connie Gagliardi.



Louis “Lisa” Massei – New York. Convicted of gang-raping a 16-year-old, attempted murder, sodomy, unlawful imprisonment.



Mark Campbell AKA Nicole Rose – Wisconsin. The repeated rape of his 10-year-old daughter.



David Josef Lovejoy AKA Kendra Michelle Lovejoy – Minnesota. Four decades of attempted burglary, sexual assault, sex offender registry violations, battery, disorderly conduct. Five counts of child pornography.



Luis Morales AKA Synthia Blast – New York. Raped and murdered a 13-year-old girl. The child was decapitated, dumped under a bridge, and set on fire.

If fighting for the safety and welfare of women makes me a TERF…well….thanks! The fight is just getting started.

I also publish at my Patreon site. If you are inclined to help support my work, you can subscribe there. It’s not necessary and I intend to keep doing the work regardless of payment, so it’s cool. I appreciate your support and following along. https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis

Photo by Denis Oliveira on Unsplash

Imagine having made a horrible mistake or two or even three. You know what you did was wrong. Like everyone else, you had your reasons. Maybe they were good reasons. Maybe they were stupid reasons, but you did what you did and you got caught.

You weren’t violent or if you were, it was to defend yourself or your child or a friend.

You were stupid or strung out on drugs or thought you could get away with it.

But you didn’t.

You got caught and now you’re in jail. You commit yourself to being better, to doing better, to take this one chance to change your life.

You don’t know where your kids are because they were taken away from you. Put in foster care because you didn’t have anyone in your family who could take them in.

Worse yet, they are with a family member you know will harm them, neglect them, use them as punching bag and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You messed up and your rights were taken away from you.

It’s your fault. You know this.

Maybe you’ve been homeless, living in your car with your kids.

You weren’t happy but at least you got away from him. You hope he doesn’t find you so you move your car every night and pray the weather doesn’t turn cold.

Maybe you did what you did because he made you do bad things.

I’ve heard just about every excuse for someone behaving badly and I’ve never bought any of them. We always have reasons, excuses, justifications for what we do.

No human being has ever been wrong. Just ask one. Ask yourself.

So there you sit, in a cell with other women. You find an endless amount of help available to you:

  • AA
  • Anger Management
  • Vocational Programs
  • Academic Programs
  • Substance Abuse Programs
  • Career Education
  • Pre-release Guidance
  • Community Bettermet Projects

You’ll run into and meet plenty of volunteers like me, who offer to help and demand you do the best you can do. You’ll meet us because we believe people can change if they want to. We believe we can get you back to who you are.

The facility is responsible for your safety and welfare, so you use the time to improve yourself, get clean and sober, dig deep into yourself and vow you’ll be a better person every day.

Then one day, the staff tell you “You know how to scrap, you know how to fight, so defend yourself.”

Why are they suddenly telling you this as they turn their backs and look the other way?

Photo by Skyler King on Unsplash

Because male inmates are now in your facility, in your cell, and in your showers. Suddenly convicted sex offenders have decided to self-ID as a woman and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You have to take it. You have to ignore his leering while you use the toilet. You have to look away when he has an erection while he watches you sleep.

You now sleep in shifts to prevent getting raped or assaulted. There’s no help from anyone anymore.

If you complain, you’ll be disciplined and he won’t. He’ll get away with it because YOU’RE the one with the problem.

You’re transphobic.

You’re a prude.

You thought you had a voice? You need to take it, put up with it, sit down and shut up.

Just like you always have. Not only has your safe space been taken away from you, so has your voice.

The staff tell you they are afraid of a lawsuit, so they look away.

Your government has told you that you don’t matter and never did.

And we wonder why recidivism is so high?

They are someone’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt. granddaughter. They matter and we need to speak for them since they have been silenced and tossed aside so predators can prey on them.

These women matter even if the government says they don’t.

Violation of anyone’s human rights is a violation of yours and mine.

So what can you do?

Plenty. We’re not going to stop fighting and protecting women until our hard-earned rights are restored to all of us.

Failure is not an option.

Please visit this site, watch the video and sign the petition and share, share, and share some more. https://www.womensliberationfront.org/california-sb-132-a-disaster-for-incarcerated-women

Richard Masbruch was convicted in 1991 of rape, sodomy, false imprisonment, torture, and burglary. He was sentenced to 2 life sentences.

Jason Hann beat his 2-year old son Jason to death, along with his 10-month old daughter Montana. Their bodies were found in storage containers. His third infant child showed signs of abuse but survived. He was sentenced to death.

David Chester Warfield stabbed, shot, and murdered 2 women and their adopted son. He is awaiting trial.

Rodney James was convicted of kidnapping and murder. He was sentenced to 17 year without the possibility of parole.

Jeffrey Norsworthy was conviced of second degree murder and was sentened to 17 years to life.

What do all these inmates have in common besides being violent predators?

They are all being housed in women prisons in California. Yes, biological men are being housed with female inmates in California. California correctional facilities now join those in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York City and Massachusetts in allowing gender identity when housing inmates.

What does that mean?

All it takes is a biological male saying they self-ID as woman. From that moment on, nothing further is asked, their records are changed from “male” to “female” and they are placed in women facilities, housed with women, shower and sleep with women and no questions are asked.

That’s all it takes, thanks to SB 132. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB132

I honestly have much more to say about this and will continue to write more, but I wanted to first get the work started to educate people about this travesity and ask you to read, sign, and share the petition below to have this reversed.

What struck me at first glance was this has come about because of the violence against trans people in jail. No one should ever be harmed, but why hasn’t anyone spoken up for women? Why is it that as soon as men become the target, we now need State and Federal law to step in? Why wasn’t this important before?

Because as soon as men were being affected, then it became a problem, but violence against women inmates has been going on since the beginning of incarcerating women.

Where is the protection for them?

The solution is not to take away the safety and security of women by housing males in women-only spaces.

The soulution is not to take away space where women can recover and heal.

The solution is to ensure that ALL inmates are protected while in custody. That is where the reform needs to take place and not by taking away the rights of many to secure the rights of a few.

Women are continuing to be erased, but there is something you can do.

You can speak up and let your voice be heard.

If you know of someone who wants their story told, feel free to send them my way. I’ll speak for them if they can’t or don’t know how. Comment here and I’ll reach out to you.

Support those of us who are speaking up. Share the petition below and tell others what is happening not only here in the US, but Canada and England as well.

Don’t let your rights as a woman be taken away.

Don’t allow yourself to be erased.

Demand same-sex spaces be yours and mine and demand that the transferring of men into women spaces immediately halt.

Please write to your Federal Representative. You can find out who this at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/CA

I disagree that sex and gender are the samething.

I disagree that I am being forced to give up my rights and those of women just to “play nice and be quiet.”

I disagree that violence towards anyone is to be “handled” by redirecting it towards another group.

Enough is enough.

https://www.womensliberationfront.org/california-sb-132-a-disaster-for-incarcerated-women

Speak up!

Opening the box of books!

Posted: March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

I was so excited when I finally got my copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul – Believe in Miracles. In fact, the box sat unopened for days because I didn’t want to open it alone (that’s just sad!) and I thought it would be good to video and start the promotion of it. My dear friend Lori did the video and you know what? It’s not an easy thing to do. None of it was rehearsed as I want to have some sense of reality, so to speak.

But unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t like the video, so I’ll post a picture from it.

I’ve been using this picture because I don’t hate it.

Then a funny thing happened – I wrote a piece for a feminist magazine on why women inmates must be protected from male predators. I mean, talk about stating the obvious, but we are talking about the criminal justice system.

We are talking about being PC and not rocking the boat and upsetting anyone.

We are talking about feelings being more important than the safety and well-being of women.

Anyway, it was a lot of work and I learned how to research and compose my writing so that it communicated well, made my point, and opened up the conversation.

Well…the platform (Medium) that it was published on, banned the editor of the publication. In just one second, “Poof!” it was as if she never existed with no reason given.

Just…gone.

This was quite an eye-opener for me. I realized that as long as I publish on someone else’s platform (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.) I am giving up the control of my writing. It means I have to follow their rules and not write about important things – feminism, gay rights, trans rights, and God forbid if you have any type of a conservative point of view.

Trust me, it’s no longer tolerated.

It was just the push I needed to get my ass back in gear and resurrect my Patreon account and publish what I want, when I want, and not have to worry about being censored or banned.

My current target for this month is to get an additional 20 patrons and start to build a platform that will not only help me financially to write more, but to not have to worry about being PC or whatever word we are using to call censorship.

We live in a world now that does not like free speech and I’m just not going to accept that. I refuse to be careful about what I say if I feel it is the truth. We’ve lost the idea of having civil conversations and working towards greater understanding and now just seem to demand agreement, no matter the cost.

If you are able to pitch in $2.00 per month, that will help me keep up the work I started and continue to work on Human Rights without the fear of not only being censored, but being financially forced to back down.

https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis

You would think, wouldn’t you, that speaking up for inmates safety would not only be welcomed with open arms, but that it would be supported.

Right?

Yeah, that’s what I used to think until recently.

Now it’s about saying and agreeing to what the “Thought Police” say you should.

I’m not buying it, so thank you for your help and support.

Love you, mean it!

They arrived.

The books.

The books from “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

I’m finally getting published in a major publication. I’m trying not to freak out but it’s a wonderful and surreal feeling.

I’ll be 65 this year and I started writing about 7 years ago so definitely am a late bloomer. Sometimes I think I could be the poster child for never giving up but that’s not quite true. I’ve given up too many times to count.

But it’s the ancient Chinese proverb that says “Fall down 8 times and get up 9.”

I haven’t opened the box yet because I’m going to do that with a friend. There is just something very sad about the idea of me doing this all by myself without somebody there. It’s too important to me. So instead of opening the box by myself, I had a drink and got a bit tipsy. I think I earned it, especially on a night where I have to go to work in the morning.

I’ll open the box later. I just can’t do it alone. I need someone there to cheer me on and tell me I did good.

Tomorrow morning I’ll get up early and start driving with Lyft. Then I’ll go to my full-time job. I do it so I make enough money to pay my bills and to be able to keep writing.

I wrote about my brother’s forgiveness in the upcoming book “Believe in Miracles.” It was definitely the most personal and gut-wrenching thing I have ever written. But I wrote it because, after his death many years ago I remembered my mom saying she never wanted him forgotten.

I carried her words with me for over 30 years before I could do something about it.

So now I’ve made sure that he won’t be forgotten.

It’s not about the recognition or the accomplishment of getting published. It’s about never forgetting about my dead brother. Now he won’t be.

From here on out the book will continue and the story will be told and if that’s all I ever accomplish with my writing career, it is more than enough for me.

Don’t give up. If you’re doing what you want to do and it’s hard, that’s OK. It’s hard for most of us. Keep going or get back up if you’ve fallen down and curled into a fetal position. I’ve been there. Just don’t stay there too long.

I love you Jeff and I love you Mom and I hope you’re happy with what I wrote.

**The book goes on sale on Feb 4th, 2020 so I’ll happily post the link when it’s live. Would love your feedback on the book.**

Actually, nothing. At least not at the time.

I barely knew who he was when that bullet slammed into him in 1968 while he stood on the second story balcony in Memphis. In fact, I don’t think I even knew he existed until it was on the news that night. I was 12 years old with more important things on my mind.

First and foremost, I was obsessed with a boy named Ted Ballard. I had been in love with him since I first saw him in 4th grade. We were the same age and in the same classes, year after year. There was a bunch of us that all went through the school system at the same time, so we knew each other because not only were we neighbors, we were all going to the same tiny school down the street.

It was the only one for miles. So, that’s where we went. We walked down the street, through a field, and then back onto another paved sidewalk. You followed that for a block, down a hill and there was the little school. It had a black top, a couple of buildings for our classes, a small playing field. It was fenced but not locked. We didn’t need locks in those days because everyone knew everybody. God help you if a neighbor saw you misbehaving; they would be on the phone to your mom and you knew you were in trouble before you even had time to close the front door when you got home.

Back then, neighbors watched out for each other and the children.

At that time, San Jose had just made it onto the Rand-McNally maps. When we had moved there from Fresno when I was 8, it literally was not on the map. My Dad had to figure it out as he moved us. You just headed towards San Francisco and tried to remember that little exit off 101 that would get you to that one-horse town called San Jose.

In 1968, Viet Nam was in our living room daily and very night. Every day we saw what was going on. We heard the bombings and the gun fire. We watched through our fingers as we covered our faces in hopes we didn’t see one of our own being blown to bits. We listened to the bull shit Lyndon Johnson said as he pushed and pushed and pushed for the war to continue.

The United States must not lose a war! Not now and not ever! To do so would hurt our pride and we never lose.

The Civil Rights movement was in full force. Again, I did not know who these people were and why they were so upset. There were marches and speeches and dogs attacking people, and fire hoses being used on them, but I was more concerned about what Ted was doing and what I should wear the next day to finally get him to see me and realize I was alive and perfect for him. I worked hard every night, trying to write the perfect love note to leave in his desk.

The notes only made it to my waste paper basket in tiny shreds in case one of my brothers found them. I would have died if they — or anyone — knew of my unrequited love.

(Years later, Ted finally noticed me as I was walking out of the bank. I didn’t know who he was. He was bald and apparently had not had an easy life, but that’s a story for another time).

By the time I was 16, I was a full-blown hippie. I had the hair and the look and I loved the idea of speaking out and going out of protest lines — even though my parents wouldn’t let me — I still loved the idea.

Feminism was arriving and the idea that I might actually have a choice about my life made me happy and scared and confused.

I mean, really, what the hell does a 16-year old know?

Absolutely nothing, but don’t tell them that. At that age, everything is possible.

I took a “Black History” class in High School and read books like “Soul on Ice” and had discussions about discrimination.

I had no idea. I had no clue that there were people out there that didn’t have the life I had. I just sort of assumed we all had it good. I learned that some people weren’t liked because of the color of their skin and some weren’t liked because of their gender.

I was not allowed to take auto mechanics simply because I was a girl. I had to take Home Economics (economics, my ass). I needed to learn how to cook and clean. I had to take typing (which, of course, now I’m really glad I did) and sit there, with my back straight and my hands posed “just exactly so” over the keyboard of the Royal typewriters, going clackity clack with 25 other girls. If you were going fast enough, the sound of the slamming back of the typewriter carriage to type the next line was almost poetic. Like a well -timed symphony.

Dr. King had only been killed about 2 years before I entered High School, but his influence was there. Us white kids comprised 99% of the attendance. Non-white kids were known — mostly Hispanic — to us and we all knew who the 2 or 3 black kids were.

We liked them well enough and they liked us. I wanted to ask them a million questions about their lives, but they weren’t dissimilar to mine.

Or so I thought at the time.

As I grew up and became an actual adult — which takes more time than I ever realized and I’m not fond of it — I started to walk in other people’s shoes. Some that had it better than I did, but mostly those that did not. Hookers, drug addicts, convicted felons, and the like.

I had to come face-to-face with my own prejudices that I didn’t know I had.

I often had large doses of humility when I would hear myself complain over the increased cost of Netflix while counseling a woman who had lost all her children to foster care. Yes, she had royally fucked up, but her heartbreak and wailing of the loss was often deafening. She couldn’t turn back the clock and she knew that. My job was to get her to see, with little baby steps, what she could do to turn her life around and get them back.

I had to swallow my pride and ask for help when I was just about to lose my house and end-up homeless. Fortunately the people that helped me, didn’t judge me.

I learned that if bad things could happen to me, who had it so much better than so many others, then maybe it wasn’t so much of a character flaw as it was just a difficult and almost impossible planet to survive on.

If it was hard for me, how hard must it be for the people that didn’t have the opportunities I had simply because of the color of their skin and/or where they were born?

I began to really look around me and see people everywhere, all with their fair shares of burdens and worries.

I began to feel disdain for those that had it so well and bragged about it. It wasn’t that I wanted what they had — no fucking way — but I wanted them to see how they could help, someone, anyone, and pay it forward.

I may not have much and I may have made huge mistakes in my life, but I began to feel compassion and empathy for those around me who always carried on and daily fought the good fight.

Through the internet, I began to learn more and more about Dr. King. I re-read some of the literature about the civil rights movement that I had smugly tossed aside in High School.

Forty years later, I grieved for the loss of him.

Forty years later, I admired his strength, compassion, intelligence, and perseverance.

Forty years later, I wished for his return.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~ MLK

I may not be able to change the world today or tomorrow or ever, but what I can do is continue to work for justice in my home, my work, my neighborhood and when I vote.

I can speak out more and write more and learn more.

I can honor Dr. King for the work he did by learning more about the suffering that others have that I never did and work to help them lift themselves up.

It’s the least that I can do.

Photo by Elyssa Fahndrich on Unsplash

Don’t Be You

Posted: November 28, 2019 in Self-esteem, self-respect
Tags: , ,

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I was really surprised when my friend Amy invited me over to meet someone, a blind date. I dreaded that more than getting poked in the eye with a hot poker. But I acquiesced because I hadn’t seen her in a long time and I was also out of food. I didn’t have money to go food shopping and I was hungry. I wasn’t going to get paid for another three days. I had enough money in my account for gas to get to and from work, so I agreed to come over even though I knew it was to meet some guy that was recently widowed.

“You know it’s not a good idea to set him up with anyone right?” I asked her. “It’s probably too soon for him.”

She is the first person to tell you how happily married she is whether you asked or not. She’s even more assertive about this point if you’re single. She must have some sort of an odd genetic need to make sure all her single friends got married. It didn’t matter that I had been divorced a couple of times and wasn’t interested in dating, let alone marriage. She had made up her mind that this needed to happen.

I figured it would be fine and she was a great cook and I really liked her husband. He’s a very sweet and someone I respected as someone who had overcome great obstacles growing up. He was a successful business owner and obviously adored Amy. This was each their third marriage so they seemed to be a good match. I figured since she had threaten to kill him rather than divorce him, he went along with whatever she said. It wasn’t any of my business but I found her threat of death something I had never considered as a foundation for a relationship.

Maybe she was onto something.

She told me to dress very casually, which is sort of pointless since that’s the only way I dress. Having given up high heels recently because I could no longer wear them, all I wore was flats and in my mind and my fashion sense, anything that goes with flats is casual. That to me was the hardest part of growing older. It wasn’t the menopause or the hot flashes or the sudden belly I had when I always had a flat one. No it was an inability to wear high heels without wanting to scream 30 minutes later. I had ruined my feet after decades of wearing them and I miss them. I did agree to wear clean clothes and put on some makeup and maybe run a comb through my hair. I vowed I would put a bra on even though it was Saturday night which I usually spent with my dog, in my pajamas while watching Netflix and drinking Amaretto.

She gave a nervous laugh as if she wasn’t sure if I was kidding or not and I actually wasn’t sure if I was either.

I did put on a bra with blouse, clean jeans and a pair of my black flats. I did run a comb through my hair and managed to put on some mascara and lipstick.

I was as ready as I would ever be to forage out of my house on a weekend.

I wasn’t particularly nervous that night as I drove over. My biggest concern was where to park because they lived on a street that was packed with cars for several blocks. I knew if the husband’s truck wasn’t parked in the driveway I could pull up behind him.

But if the driveway was open it had to stay that way for when he got home. I understood. A man puts in his 18 hours a day and the least he can ask for is to park his own damn driveway and not have to park blocks away where his truck could get broken into and his tools stolen.

I pulled up and saw the bright red truck in the driveway and for a moment my life was happy and made sense. The planets had aligned and I arrived on time with a place to park and not having to walk six blocks and then forgetting where I parked my car.

I rang the doorbell and Amy answered. She gave me a great big hug. I brought a bottle of wine even though they didn’t drink. I had no idea what kind of wine I got but it was expensive so I figured it would taste good and I would drink most of it. A bit selfish on my part, but I had gotten dressed and driven across town, so I felt fine about paying for it. It had been a long week and I was about to be fed and maybe meet someone who didn’t annoy me.

Mike, the man I was to meet, wasn’t there yet. I almost felt sorry for him even before meeting him because I felt this could be the scenario of a lamb being led to the slaughter.

Amy pulled me into the kitchen after putting my coat and purse away and we chatted a bit. Then she said “There’s something I have to tell you and since we’re good friends I’m sure it will be okay.”

I didn’t like the sound of her voice and all of a sudden there’s a very serious vibe in the kitchen and it was making me nervous.

“What?” I asked. “Is there something in my teeth? Is there snot coming out of my nose…”

“No it’s just a little thing that I wanted to say and I’m sure you’ll get what I’m saying.”

I put my glass of wine down on the counter and leaned against it, braced for God knows what.

“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

“Well,” she said and put down the knife she was using to cut to the tomatoes for the salad and turned to me.

I felt myself stiffen and wanting more wine.

“I just need you to not be you.”

I laughed and actually snorted.

“No, really what is it you wanted to say to me?” I asked.

She had a blank look on her face and it suddenly hit me that that was what she meant.

She wasn’t kidding.

“What the fuck are you talking about, Amy? What do you mean ‘Don’t be me.’ Who am I supposed to be? What’s wrong with me? What the hell are you talking about?”

I felt my hackles rise. I could see she was serious. I know I have pretty thick skin but this cut deeply and quickly.

“See, I don’t want you to get upset or offended. It’s not like it sounds. I just mean…well… you know maybe not be so…I don’t know…loud?”

I raised my voice and shouted “YOU MEAN LIKE THIS? SURE I PROMISE NOT TO TALK LIKE THIS! I PROMISE NOT TO SHOUT AND YELL AND SCREAM!”

“No that’s not what I mean,” she said, “Just don’t be too demonstrative. You know how you’re always talking with your hands? Mike is a very soft-spoken man and very introverted…

“Hold on a second Amy,”I said. “You mean you want me to meet someone that is quiet and introverted and now you’re asking me to, what? Keep my opinions to myself? Smile and nod at everything he says? Tell you what; why don’t I just fucking sit on my hands and you can feed me through a gag or something. I’m sure David has some duct tape in his truck. You could use it to tape my mouth shut and put a little slit in in so I can eat.How does that sound?”

I was furious but hurt more than anything. Her words cut me but I did not want to show it though I think I pretty much failed at that. I picked up my wine glass and slurped it as loud as I could and then belched as loud as I could. I put it down on counter without breaking it.

Photo by Alfonso Scarpa on Unsplash

“Oh I bet I shouldn’t do shit like that, right?”

She said she was sorry and that I wasn’t understanding her but I knew that I was. I understood her perfectly.

I was too much me but the problem was that was never going to change. Actually, using the word problem isn’t correct. I should say the way I am is the way I am a little bit like Popeye “I yam what I yam.”

I know not everyone is everyone else’s cup of tea but I always assumed a friend liked me for who I was.

I left it at that because there was a knock at the door and Mike came in and we met. He was a very nice man but he didn’t have a chance with me because I was fuming and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Part of me just wanted to get up and walk out but the food looked good and I didn’t want to be rude. I just figured I would bitch slap Amy later.

I left earlier than I had anticipated with only half a glass of wine. I was tempted to take the open bottle home with me but now I was just being petty. I said my goodbyes and left.

By the time I got home I was sobbing and my makeup was running down my face. It took me weeks to acknowledge how badly her words had hurt me and in hindsight, that was the end of our friendship.

I haven’t seen her since and I’ve never brought it up to her because there was nothing left to say. A “friend” who is telling you not to be you isn’t a friend.

A “friend” that is trying you to be who they want isn’t a friend. They are someone with a hidden agenda. You are a means to their end. They don’t have your best interest in mind; they have theirs.

In an odd way I was upset about being upset, if that makes sense. It was like I was that fat ugly girl with acne playing alone in the playground again. I couldn’t believe how quickly those feelings came smashing in and how hard it was to get rid of them. I was still that girl that didn’t fit in anywhere yet liked everybody. The neediness in me came back and the strong desire to be liked and admired which goes against everything I believe

I find that our wounds don’t so much heal as much as we think. I think we learn to live with them. Some of the wounds will dissipate a little (or a lot) and we can think the scars are gone, but the hurt is always there.

It still bugs me that she said what she said, and for months afterwards, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt fake and insincere because on some level, I felt what she had said had some truth to it.

It didn’t, but it threw me off for as long as I gave her words validity.

That was on me and therefore something I could change. I admit her words still sting, but now they motivate me to work hard of my sense of self-worth and value.

I don’t recommend learning your true value this way, but if there’s someone in your life who doesn’t like you just the way you are, cut your losses and run.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash