My dearest readers, I am exactly three final papers away from finishing this semester for good. During this time period, a lot of great and terrible things happened, which changed me, for the better, I believe. I learned, for instance, that a full-time course load and working two jobs, plus volunteer/advocacy work is a surefire way to end up exhausted and unable to pour your time into blogging.
On the good side of life, I’ve made a lot of new friends and learned so much this semester. I took my first two women’s studies courses, one on the medicalization of sex (Which covers the ways that mainstream discussions in the medical community often marginalize and seek to control the bodies and experiences of those who are seen as different or deviant, like women, trans and queer folk, the disabled, people of colour, and others) and one course on Indigenous women’s literature. My new friends are amazing. We go to classes together, work out together, write poetry over coffee together, and go dancing together. When you’ve been fed ridiculous myths about how, as an autistic person, you can’t be expected to enjoy a life of “normal” social activities, discovering that you can enjoy them and in fact, look forward to them, when spent with wonderful people, is a great discovery. And of course, my greatest joy this semester: I was published! I now have a semi-regular column up in The Jewish Week’s disability blog, The New Normal, and I love my new audience and the fun of sticking to just one topic, dating.
Some tragedy happened as well, which probably contributed to my lack of blogging. Last month, on March 1st, I was abducted and raped while on my way home from a party. That night, I was terrified and traumatized, and convinced that I was going to die. But I managed to text a good friend of mine who I knew was nearby what was happening, and they came and saved me from being dragged away by my rapist. I’ve been dealing with the police, and trying to move on with my life. Being sexually assaulted twice is painful and difficult to deal with, but I am proud of myself for managing as well as I have. But I am not going to lie, I’ve had moments of severe depression, anxiety, and I feel that my post-traumatic stress has been extremely aggravated.
But, here’s where it gets better: After having an experience where you feel like you could have died, you gain a new perspective on life. The Monday immediately after the rape, I was scheduled to meet one of my heroes, the poet, Chrystos, who was visiting my school. She had come into my life at just the right moment. The day after it had happened, I picked up her book, Not Vanishing, which we were reading for my Indigenous Woman Authors class, and started taking in all of her poems. One by one, I absorbed the words and spirit, until I felt myself growing stronger, more resilient, more willing to get up, survive, and fight back, reclaim my life, and live more powerfully and with greater intention than ever before.
When I met Chrystos that Monday, she passed out a copy of a poem she’d written just for our class, called “Prayer for her Students”. Reading it gave me strength, and made me resolve to tell Chrystos just how much her poems had meant to me. After she’d finished writing her poems, I told her everything. She gave me the greatest gift imaginable- her love, her support, and a request: In five years, she wants me to have a book written and published. No excuses. The promise of one of my literary heroes wanting me to write, for her, is keeping me writing every single day. I will publish that book, for her and for me.
Summertime will be here soon. I have a good feeling about where my life is going. I don’t feel helpless over what happened, or like my life is in any way, over. Instead, I feel like I’ve gotten a new lease on life. I feel like my goals and dreams are more reachable. I’m alive, and I’m realizing what a precious, beautiful gift it is for me to be alive. I will taste the summer peaches, mango milkshakes, buttery corn, feel the sun and sea salt on my face and shoulders, listen to the beautiful rhythms of music and laughter, and know the love of my friends.
So, again, I’m sorry for not blogging as much as I used to. I went through a lot. But I haven’t forgotten you. I just needed to engage in other forms of healing and happiness than blogging. But I feel ready to start again.