Learning The Hard Way: Why we must move through pain to heal from it.

Jewel’s website, Never Broken, has been the first real access to tools I have needed my entire life. I’m not sure why I hadn’t found them sooner, but I’m glad I’ve found them now. They are life changing, and can even be life saving. This is my story of a lifetime of pain avoidance, and how Never Broken changed that.

As a child, I imagined adulthood to be this magical place without responsibilities or repercussions. It was a place, I imagined, where if you wanted something you went and got it without anyone telling you, “no.” Realistically, in adulthood, not much goes as expected, and it usually hurts in one way, shape, or form. Growth hurts, and so does the unwillingness to grow. As the lyric goes, “Nature has a funny way of breaking what does not bend.”


I distinctly remember the time I watched The Lion King with my Grandma Agnes. The takeaway quote was, “Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” She asked me, “Do you understand the lesson from the movie?” I was puzzled. Part of me knew, but I was a bit young to grasp it. “Not really,” I said, quizzically. She told me, “The lesson is that you cannot run from your problems.”

Now, pause while I tell you, if you don’t learn a lesson the first time, it has a funny way of coming back to teach the lesson to you again and again. When it came time to deal with real problems, part of me deep down inside remembered, “You can’t run from your problems,” and I defiantly thought, “Watch me.” That’s naïveté in action, friends.


I write this as a Minnesota native, residing in Colorado. Was a thousand miles away far enough to run? Decidedly, it was not. After moving to Colorado, I discovered that I had been conned, and quite literally lured into a relationship where love was forged as a weapon for abuse. I had been used by that man to get himself to Colorado, and he was still using me like an infinite resource. There was no end to the financial drain, the energy drain, or the soul sucking. When I realized the situation I was in, I knew that I was going to end up killing myself to get away, or I had to physically leave. One day I just packed my bags & headed for the door. Unfortunately, the abuse already triggered a plethora of illnesses within me, both emotional and physical; anxiety, depression, PTSD and a chronic pain syndrome called Fibromyalgia. Still, I continued to run from my problems.

Here’s the exception: some problems, you do have to run from. If you are being abused, you can’t rely on bargaining with someone to stop abusing you. You can’t convince an abuser to change. You have to leave.

My life didn’t improve immediately. I wasn’t happy, nor did I feel I had improved upon my life at all. I was still suffering from the fallout of abuse. In retrospect, things were better, but the challenges clouded my sight from improvements. I remember reaching out to Jewel on Twitter, commenting on my new respect for her tenacity, and asking how to keep going. She responded, “It’s a mental fight you got to want to win & you WILL.” Oh, how very right she was. The full lesson wouldn’t be absorbed until the Never Broken site was launched.


I was on one income in an apartment I swear to God they shoulda’ been paying me to live inside. In all seriousness, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, there was a family of woodpeckers living in the bedroom wall, creating a special hell for the days spent in bed with a migraine. It didn’t hold heat in the winter, but it sure did in the summer! Ultimately it was still a roof over my head and a safe place that I am grateful for. In the end of my stay at that apartment, the infamous Waldo Canyon Fire got too close and I became an evacuee. I was there on the afternoon it leapt across the last foothill and I still remember the burnt orange glow of the smoke-filled apocalyptic sky as the ashes fell like winter snow on my hair while I rescued some belongings at the very last minute. The announcement of forest fires or smoke in the air still makes my hair stand on end.

Here’s another exception: Forest fires are also a problem you do, in fact, have to run from. Also, don’t do what I did. Please just leave your things.


It really looked like the apocalypse that day.
This was the view from traffic on the interstate.

Even though I was safe from danger, I was still running. I avoided problems and avoided dealing with the emotional wreckage by medicating my anxiety and depression with prescriptions until they progressively made me too sick to work. One medication threatened my hearing. Distraught, with a newly ruptured, freshly bleeding eardrum, and a gripping fear of permanent hearing loss, I swore off prescription antidepressants. This was the beginning of my journey to walk through the pain. This prescription had no guideline for quitting. Long story short, I chose severe withdrawal symptoms in order to save my hearing. In hindsight, all the medications I tried only hindered my healing process. Numbing pain, is not the way. You have to move through it.

Once the withdrawal stopped, emotions came flooding back. No medical professional tells you that antidepressants numb all of your emotions. Nor do they warn that coming off the antidepressants can make you feel even crazier than before! I took about a year to find my bearings with my emotions, understand what was happening, and to gain some semblance of control. Friendships were lost. There is such a strong stigma related to mental illness and no one wants to talk about it. No one really understands that you’re now dealing with emotions at full strength, and how jarring that can be after antidepressants had lifted that burden from you. Mental illness is something our society medicates into the shadows and sweeps under the rug, even though over 50% of us will go through a type of depression at least once in our lifetime. In some cases, these medications are warranted. If you need them, take them. But you also have to balance the risks and find the right medication for yourself. Please do your own research, your doctor does not have and will not take the time.


After experiencing many side-effects, my entire immune system was screaming a resounding “NO” to all antidepressant medications. I used acupuncture, visit a rheumatology clinic, and attend chiropractic visits for the pain. I even found a therapist that helped me with the PTSD. But it didn’t do any good to talk if there was no plan. No one had yet given me the tools I desperately needed.

This is where Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half The Story and the corresponding Never Broken website comes in. Jewel has been a constant in my life since 2001. Everyone who knows me, knows I am a fan to an embarrassing level. (Sorry Jewel, I’m trying to change) When I first discovered her music, it spoke to me on a deeper level than anything had before. Her unapologetic honesty took hold of me and I devoured her music and poetry until I could recite almost every song by memory. I didn’t understand until 2015 why her words resonated so very deeply with me. Reading her memoir, I saw the undeniable similarities on our life paths; the alcoholism growing up and being hit as a child (If you can ask your mom, why you needed to be hit so hard, that’s not a spanking), the mental and emotional abuse later in life, and my own (albeit different) hell of a divorce. I read Jewel’s book, and listened to the audiobook. I find invaluable information in the tone and expression when a writer reads their own words.

One day someone messaged me on FB. “Jewel is going to be on HuffPost Live & they are asking for questions. Go submit one!” Sure, why not? I submitted my question in line with the practices in the back of her memoir, which was presently my most pressing issue, “How do you handle anxiety or panic attacks?” As fate would have it, they chose my question and asked me to appear on the livestream. This was good stress, but stress on top of a panic attack nonetheless. I managed to spit my question out without stumbling over my words and looking like a complete nincompoop (I hope) on a live internet video stream. Whew!

Here’s me on HuffPostLive. heh… it did really happen, huh?

This was before the beginning of the Never Broken website, if my memory serves me correctly. She talked about starting a website or a workbook with the tools that she developed and helped her through the toughest times in her life. This website is a wealth of knowledge. To me, Never Broken is the embodiment of hope. The meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude practices are the best healing I have come across in my search for ways to heal myself. As if being pushed towards these practices, I’ve found more books dedicated to everything in this website, and books on meditation. This is reinforcement that this is my best path to heal.

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It is hard work, and it is an everyday effort. It is the most effective practice I have found towards healing and growing inwardly stronger. I still have days when I feel like I’m about to crumble or die of stress, and on those days I ask myself if I’ve done the work I have committed to. 100% of the time, I’ve gotten busy and have forgotten to invest the time for myself and do the exercises. Start over. Tomorrow is a new day. As a very close friend, Carissa, told me, “It’s called a practice for a reason.”

We are resilient beings, and we can heal ourselves. The hardest part is deciding to take the first step.


“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Emerson


Becoming Never Broken

In my previous blog, I wrote a quick review of 13 Reasons Why and I chronicled my experiences with bullying that were as small as a remark and laughter to something as large and damaging as spousal abuse. Not all acts of bullying were equal, but they all definitely paved the way to the abuse I endured that caused my CPTSD.

I want to dedicate this blog to the steps I have taken to becoming never broken and what I am doing currently to heal.

Understand that you are stronger and more beautiful for being broken, picking up the pieces and putting yourself back together, and in return, becoming never broken.

The first step is to forgive yourself.

Yes, this is a big step. Stop blaming yourself for the things that have happened to you or how you handled a situation. You did your best in the situations that have caused and may still be causing pain. If you could have done more or done better, you would have. So truly, know that what you did and how you reacted was the to the best of your ability in that moment. Knowing that, is key to being able to move forward. Let go of the self criticism and judgement. That moment is gone, and you cannot go back. Letting it control anything now is just harmful to the present moment.

Next you have to move forward knowing that in the situations that you can look back and say, “I wish I would have done better,” there is a better way. So, what are you going to do? When there’s an obvious step to take, you take it. You can analyze those past moments, but separate your emotions from the event. You are no longer in it and you have to look at it objectively. Take your memory and pretend it’s a friend in your place and think about what you would advise your friend to do in that situation. If you still don’t know, ask for help. In the moment, you can’t have access to future you, and you can’t know what you don’t know and there’s no way to find out unless you seek advice from a friend or from a therapist.

Ask for help.

If you see a therapist, there is an objective point of view you can have access to. Don’t let the stigma of seeing a therapist bother you. They are there to help and there’s nothing wrong with having someone to talk to who is dedicated to giving you their undivided attention. How many friends do you have who are going to be honest and tell you things you don’t want to hear? Those are few and far between. How have successful people made it to where they are today? Very few will tell you that they’ve had this innate ability to see teach themselves. They got help. They went to college, they had mentors, or they had some very intense life lessons that allowed them to see themselves objectively.

Perspective matters.


Talking and listening is going to allow you to separate  your emotions and see things from another angle. If you are thinking, why does this person do this? Why did they say that? Why can’t they see that’s hurtful? Stop and realize that not everyone sees the world from your view. Every single person on this planet is living life through a unique perspective that was created through their life events and experiences. Not one person is going to see everything exactly the same. Knowing that people are all living in their own reality helps my own understanding and thought processes. Whether they know if their reality is truth doesn’t matter. If they believe their reality, you cannot argue it just like you cannot dictate how someone experienced an event. How they experienced that is their truth, how they felt, what they saw; that is theirs alone.


I never thought I could advise someone to forgive. I was holding onto so much anger and resentment that I knew forgiveness was something that I could never accomplish. I’m quoting many when I say, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” It’s not for the other person or the people who have harmed you. I always thought, “That’s sweet, but I cannot forgive anyone for what they intentionally did to me.” Forgiveness is not saying, “Oh, that’s okay.” It’s not pretending like it didn’t hurt. To me, I had to redefine forgiveness from the way we learn it as children. It’s definitely not a ‘hug and make up’ deal in this definition as an adult.

Forgiveness became a something new that had nothing to do with condoning the actions of another, I could still allow myself to see the faults in their actions and it was okay to say, “I cannot have you in my life.” For me, forgiveness came in steps and pieces of understanding. Hurt people, hurt people. It’s as simple as that. The kids who are bullies ARE hurting inside, but they are choosing to channel their pain and anger into a weapon so no one else can hurt them. We don’t know what happened to them, we just know they are dealing with it poorly. Those kids in school were ill equipped. There was something missing inside them because of their upbringing and whatever feelings they had caused them to act poorly towards others. The same goes for spousal abuse to an extent.

I believe, though, that in certain circumstances, the person has been buried so deeply underneath layers of abuse, pain, neglect, and being unable to understand it, that they have become ghost of a person and have become more of an illness or a behavioral disorder than a person. These cases are extreme and meant to apply to people who are abusers, psychopaths, and sociopaths. This applies to my abuser. The shell of a person I thought I knew was just that, a shell. There were fragments visible at times, and people can see that there’s a person in there, but the illness always floats to the top. What I found most of the time was an illness. Knowing this helped me to remove blame from him and from myself for getting stuck in the situation.

To me, forgiveness is realizing that we all live through our own filters and world views and not all of us have the education or self awareness to know how to navigate the world we live in. We aren’t born with these tools and we certainly aren’t given them in school. We won’t always know that we have hurt another person, but it’s our responsibility to be accountable, apologize, learn from our actions, and correct them in the future.

We are not taught how to think this way in school or growing up. We think that our homes are normal and everyone grows up in the same environment up to a certain age until we become more self aware. We aren’t taught how to analyze a situation in the moment. Something in our lives has to happen to show us that we need to change.


This brings me to mindfulness. We need to learn how to step back, outside of our emotional reactions, and observe. How does this make me feel? Why is this making me feel this way? How can I react to bring about the outcome that best suits this moment?

This is the hardest part about mindfulness, and it takes real work. The first step, in my opinion, is to realize that you are reacting. Once you pinpoint the situations where you do have a strong emotional reaction, the hardest part is going to create that space in between the moment when you have the emotion and the moment when you react. If you can create that space, you can then ask yourself if the reaction is appropriate and if you can react in a way that will be more beneficial to yourself and others.

Helping identify what emotions need pause is crucial.
If you are angry, or offended, or sad or hurt, you need to ask yourself why. These emotions are not beneficial in most situations. Anger can stay with you forever if you let it. If you’re offended, sad, or hurt, you should ask yourself why. Why should what someone else thinks, offend you? If you are living in a way that is true to yourself, no one else’s opinion matters. Another quote I like is, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” That also circles back to every being on the planet living in their own reality.

I’ve nearly written you all a book, but here is what has helped me the most.



I still have trouble making this a practice, but meditation is not this unattainable thing where you need to sit in a quiet space and cross your legs. Meditation can be as simple as taking a moment to count your breaths. For me, right now, meditation is being mindful of my own breathing and counting the breaths. I have used techniques to keep panic attacks at bay, especially in airports because for some reason I have terrible anxiety when I have connecting flights. I will touch on this more in the next blog, but it has become a daily practice and something I need to revisit regularly. This can create the space for you to pay attention to your emotions and reactions.

Start a gratitude practice.

I cannot emphasize enough how much a gratitude practice has changed my life. I thought, “Yeah, ok. How is this going to help me in any way?” I was a full skeptic on the idea of a gratitude practice, because I have not only anxiety, depression, CPTSD, but I also have some pretty severe Fibromyalgia. But since it was part of a program I had become involved in, I started it. I figured, “What could it harm?” Slowly, day by day, I felt better. Some days were not always a step forward, but more often than not, I felt better about my world. I realized that there are things I can do to feel better and change within my reach. I started making lists of the things I wanted to accomplish in my day because those are things I can control. I started to feel like I am responsible for shaping my reality and I felt like I had a little bit of influence. If I am being truthful, my gratitude practice helped me to see the good in my life. When I combined this with mindfulness, I realized that I am in charge and I can shape my own reality.

I know my gratitude practice is responsible for my attitude. For me, writing it down is the key to doing this every day. I had recently been sick for two weeks and have felt pretty crummy emotionally and physically. I realized that my notebook for my gratitude practice had not been used at all. That realization that I had been forgetting to write it was a lightbulb moment for me. Time to get back at that…

What does a gratitude practice look like? I’ll show you. Every day, I fill something in these blanks no matter how small or little it may seem. These are examples.

I am grateful for:

  1.     having the time off work that I needed to heal emotionally and finish my degree.
  2.     the opportunity gifted to me to use my design skills in a professional setting.
  3.     to have such a wonderful partner who takes care of me so diligently, and friends who authentically care for me.

Daily affirmations. I Am:

  1.   I am capable, I have the skills to do this work today.
  2.   I am learning from mistakes, and growing and improving from that.
  3.   I will be assertive in situations where I need boundaries.

My daily affirmations are usually truths I will tell myself to combat the harmful doubts I am having that day. I can be grateful for the time I give myself to enjoy a cup of tea, or I can be grateful for the incredible gift I have been given to join a charity and give my graphic design skills to. This mindfulness practice and the gratitude practice is what has helped me to find some peace with myself and find a way to view the world from another angle. It’s not always easy work. Some days I just have to know that tomorrow is another day and I start over when I wake up. Part of this is allowing yourself room to make mistakes and learn from them.

I know I wrote a lot, and it’s a lot to take in. This is a long process, and it’s taken years in some aspects, but when I’ve really focused on it, it’s been a matter of months to change my perspective. I hope this can help at least one person.

Next Up: Letting go of what you cannot control.



13 Reasons Why: My Story Of What It Takes To Break A Person.

You may be seeing a lot of these reviews, so why read another one? Why is this so important to talk about? What’s up with my title?

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix Original series that takes a closer look at bullying and the effects it has on a person.

I don’t think I’m giving out any spoilers that Hannah Baker, our main character, commits suicide. As the show develops, we are told a story of each transgression against Hannah on each cassette tape. I have my own changes I would make to the series, and I have not read the book so I am basing this strictly off the Netflix interpretation. I felt it was slowly paced beyond halfway through the show. But we aren’t meant to be entertained. This has a message. I was agitated watching the beginning of the series, but I now also realize that I was apprehensive and resistant to revisit a story about high school, where I was also made a target.

Much like reality and the reactions to the actions of kids who are bullied, the feedback of the show has been sometimes inappropriate. Many have said, “Hannah was so overly dramatic,” or “It’s not that bad.” “She killed herself and blames everyone in the most dramatic way possible.” Hello! It’s HIGH SCHOOL! Some have said that the show “romanticizes suicide,” with people going as far to call for a ban of the show and it’s renewed season 2.

The show is not delicate. It tackles the issues of bullying and suicide head on. It’s ugly and painful to watch at times, and parts of you aren’t going to understand why immediately. It is necessary. Parts of you might not see why these events affected Hannah so heavily. I first wondered if the actress wasn’t showing it properly, but it’s occurred to me that it is supposed to be this way for the viewer. We are supposed to be a survivor, and the gradually increasing transgressions against Hannah aren’t supposed to be apparent. We aren’t supposed to immediately see it through her eyes because people are going to do their best to hide their own pain. By the end of the show, the beginning half of the series seems slow and “not that bad” because Hannah has even hidden her pain from the viewer.

It’s not necessarily a show for those who have been bullied and have contemplated suicide. It is severely lacking in the space it had to address that suicide is not an answer. If you have been bullied to that point, it may not be a show you are ready for. It will bring back those feelings without warning. It’ll rip off that scab and let it bleed without helping you with the emotions it has unearthed.

This is a show for the bullies, for the survivors. This is for those who have never stopped to think about why words hurt. This is a show for those who call suicide “selfish.” This is a show for the people who glided through life without being bullied. It presents the thought, “Maybe you were the bully.” The show begs us to be kinder to one another. The show screams that we need to stop being terrible people.

Anyone who is dismissive of this show, or claims it is overly dramatic, is the problem. That’s high school. Hormones, drama, bullying, depression, self hate. That’s high school. If you forgot that, try to remember.

I won’t spoil Hannah’s 13 Reasons, but I will give you my accounts of bullying over the years.

Here’s something that I want to point out right now. If you weren’t ever bullied you were either a) a bully, b) oblivious, or  c) very lucky. Most likely, you were a bystander or didn’t notice the signs, regardless of which option you fall into.

1: Growing up, I became aware that I was being ridiculed at a very young age. I was never like other kids. I never fit in. I think it started as early as 3rd grade. “Why do you only wear skirts?” Giggles following. Suddenly fashion mattered, in 3rd grade. In my classes, the teachers would take a volunteer to hand out graded homework. This was a great opportunity for someone to be a bully. The same girl who mocked my skirt preference, Mackenzie, once whispered, “If you took the first letter off your last name, you’d be Kate Ox.” I looked at her with a confused face that said, “What the hell?” but it became evident that it was bullying with the giggles erupting from behind me, even from a family friend’s kid, Andrea. 3rd grade. I was probably not the right size, even in 3rd grade. I didn’t know. I wasn’t conscious of myself at all. I quickly removed myself from that circle of girls. This is when I first remember becoming a target. Though, I’m sure it was much sooner.

2: In 5th grade, that was when my school chose to give the first class on sex ed. Great. Becoming so painfully aware that girls were targets for the boys was enough on it’s own, but one of my own friends decided it was a great idea to announce to the world that I had started to wear bras and snapped the strap. Even “friendly” teasing is hurtful. Though, in hindsight, that’s probably the only way she knew to communicate with people. She grew up in a house of boys.

3: Then an unfortunate thing happened. I didn’t think it was at the time, but I soon realized that it changed everything. My family moved. It was only 4 miles away, but I had to change buses to get to school. There was bullying right away, but since we moved in April, summer arrived quickly and I had high hopes that everyone would forget who I was by fall. That was not the case. 6th Grade began and it was the beginning of 6 years of everyday hell. CJ and his buddy along with the Pack of Thurstin Hyena-like children owned the bus I had to take to get to school. Everyone was fair game unless they joined in on the bullying. For a while I ignored it, I stayed invisible. I was happy for it. But my heart couldn’t take seeing one girl singled out and thought there was strength in numbers, so I sat with her. That was the beginning of my hell. I was strong for the longest time. We had our own conversations and ignored what they had to say. It was 7 (or more) against 2 and soon, the harassment became unreal and it didn’t stop even when I stopped riding the bus. I was an easy target because of my last name, Cox.

4: In middle school, boy named Eric soon noticed that I didn’t have money even close to what other girls spend on clothing. I had two pair of jeans at the time, but they were the same brand & style. Soon everyone thought I wore the same pair of jeans every day and the joke was that they were too crusty to take off. Crusty Cox. The harassment was so intense that I couldn’t focus in that class. I would just stare straight ahead until the class was over, many days with tears brimming. He once wrote what looked like a pretty lengthy note, which was a change from the insults passed to me on scraps of paper by him and his friends. I assumed it was just a lengthy and strongly worded insult and got up to throw it away without reading it. He looked insulted. I still wonder what it said. The one tiny taste of justice was that I took his name and used it against him. I gave him a taste of his own medicine. But I became the bully. I started calling him Rhino Butt and my friends took great delight in this and joined in with me. His last name was Rinio, so it wasn’t far off, except he was skinnier than most, so it was dumb and I never thought it could work because it made no sense. He eventually relinquished bullying me and he called for a truce in gym class over volleyball when we were forced on the same team. I can remember the anxiety of just talking to him, afraid it was a lie, afraid that the entire class would be informed of his name for me. My heart was running at full speed and I think I nearly blacked out over the conversation, but a truce. I liked that and he kept his word.

5: Somewhere in there, I was cursed with CJ in my art class. The rotten kids took it for an easy A. I took it because it was my passion. If you can believe it, the focus was taken off of me, because he set his targets on the instructor. I thought it would be a relief, but he still got his abusive words in. Regardless of how little attention he paid to me, I felt everything he said to the instructor and feared it would become about me every day.

Somewhere in middle school, there was a Tabitha who was a relentless bully. it was 1994 or 1995 and I wore a Lion King shirt. She asked me when I was going to stop dressing like a 4th grader. She kicked the back of my seat whenever she could sit behind me. Through the whole hour of class if she could. I’m not sure why I was her target.

Nevermind the endless literal targeting during dodgeball or spiking the volleyball in my face during gym classes. I faked bloody noses to get out of dodgeball all the time. It was always a guarantee that I’d be hit in the face or head, I’d pretend to hold my nose and go sit in the bleachers. One hit and I was safe for the rest of gym class.

Somehow, I don’t remember much of 6th – 9th grades except for these key bullying experiences. It’s blacked out for some reason, psychologically, that usually means there’s worse things in there.

6:  Highschool can be one massive section. CJ never stopped harassing me until graduation, so be assured that was always there. I had to switch a few classes to get away when it was possible.

High School was a massive blur. I took every art class except for a few. There was a lot of drama. I was called “marshmallow girl” by a guy who was supposed to be a friend. He didn’t want to be seen with me when his girlfriend told him to dance with me once during a school dance. I had confessed to that friend that I liked that boy. I don’t know if it was before or after that when she decided to date him. It doesn’t matter. It was kept a secret from me and they let me be a fool and tag along with them in the halls. Years later got my revenge when he asked me to date him and I strung him along with maybes and not yets until I finally told him I’d never date him.

I stopped wearing t-shirts and jeans, but I only stumbled into an acceptable style that I could duplicate into different colors my senior year. I fumbled through the highschool years and it was a blur. I hopped between different groups of friends, never committing to one group. I was not part of any clique. I didn’t belong anywhere. I knew I didn’t belong in that mentality. So it was my senior year when I jumped at the chance to go to post-secondary classes at the college. College was heaven. Not one person knew me or harassed me. I was in love with college. Except only half my classes were there, so mornings were at the college campus and afternoons were High School.

I once spent a weekend drawing. I had to ice my wrist the next day. So of course, here come the jokes. “How’d you hurt your wrist?” with hand motions. Alluding to my last name, once again. I gave them my answer, but they kept asking. “No, really, how’d you hurt your wrist?” Everyone thought they were so clever. That class was an hour of my life where it seemed the entire class was watching, listening to it all, but no one said a word in my defense, but just laughed along. Therese and Seth, with a few minions, led that bullying fest. An hour is a very long time when you are subjected to that in front of a whole class.

7: When I broke up with my first boyfriend, he didn’t want to accept that I had ended the relationship. He latched onto my family. He’s still latched onto my family. He befriended my aunt and they started going fishing together. He still maintains a friendship with her. He was paid as a driver to drive my dad to a couple dr appointments as well. Whether or not he is a family friend was not my decision to make, and it should have been since no relationship was there before the breakup. I asked for it to stop. My feelings were ignored. My feelings and needs held ZERO value. And on this topic, that has not changed.

There were many days where I wanted to disappear. Many times I was convinced the world was better without me. I have no idea what kept me here.

8: I was once groped at my first job by a dirty old man. He grabbed my ass as he walked out of the store. He seemed odd before it happened, but I wasn’t on guard and never expected a dirty old man to move that fast. I waited until the other lady came back from her break and went to cry in the back room.

9: I think it took me until 2006, when I was 23, to become more self aware of who I was becoming and how to make choices to influence how I was treated. I enrolled in College, this time for Graphic Design. I realized that retail jobs and my job at the bank was not what I wanted to do, regardless of how high I could climb with working at the bank. I was barely discovering who I was as a person when the worst found me.

A guy working at the coffee shop with me was friendly enough. He somehow knew just what to do to lure me in and toy with my emotions on strings even though I never found him the least bit attractive. I ended up moving to Colorado with him, marrying, divorcing, and moving on. He is a covert narcissist. I endured some heavy, heavy manipulative verbal abuse and mental abuse from him. I didn’t know what was real or not. All of the bullying in my life, among other factors, lead me to that. The manipulation was so covert, and he was so overtly nice, that I never saw it coming. I was always bullied, and I didn’t know that abuse can look and sound like a compliment. That 4 years is another story, but led me to a fork in the road where I either ended my own life, or I packed my bags and left.

I now live with CPTSD.  It’s PTSD, but it recognizes that it is complex because there were events prior to the trauma that led me down the path to the main trauma. Smaller traumatic events that shaped me. I have years worth of black spots in my memory. A psychiatrist would say that I’m blocking past trauma. Also, Anxiety, Depression, and Fibromyalgia have been diagnosed. But I’m told to get over it & move on when my whole life, bullying and harassment have been an overshadowing presence. Ok. Working on it.

I could keep going onto another event that ripped off the scab of all the bullying and harassment that I’ve experienced. PTSD is something that brings old traumas back when new events happen. Sometimes it’s just an emotion. In this case it was the strength of all the reactions to harassment I had received. I had buried these experiences very deep and still can’t remember all of it. But, to write about that one would stir up too much and fuel more harassment that would be aimed at me today. It never ends, folks. #HighSchoolcliques4lyfe. #sigh

The bottom line is that I am going to be okay.

Somehow, with my Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, and CPTSD, I feel at times that I’m stuck in a highschool brain. I’m often overwhelmed with emotion. I’m told I’m just a sensitive person. Whatever the case may be, what happened to me in my life from my point of view is mine. No one can tell me that my experience is different than it was. I’ve learned that I am different. My emotions are felt deeper than a normal person feels them. My clothing choices are never going to be popular. I’m never going to be in the cool kid group. I will always make mistakes, but that’s how I grow. And at the age of 34 I am learning to love the differences about myself, whether or not everyone else does.

I am me. Unapologetically.

Bullying stunted parts of my personal growth, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still grow. I’ve taken leaps and bounds in the last 6 months alone. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself if you allow yourself room for it. I will abandon the toxic people who hurt me and the mindsets that don’t serve me.

Next up: Becoming Never Broken

Society: as viewed by a realist.

I consider myself a realist. I don’t ever really see the glass half full or half empty. I’ve never known how to answer that question. Thank God it’s rhetorical most of the time.

I do have to say, however, my heart is heavy lately. Humanity seems to have taken a sharp dive since I’ve been on this Earth. But truly, I think it has something to do with my views of the world and how they’ve changed as I’ve grown. As a child, I only saw what was presented to me, or so I thought. Lately though I’ve noticed something about myself. I tend to only notice what I find interesting. So, I guess I have instinctive survival blinders on.

I do think, however, that optimism is a constant effort. And, if I am one, I’m not very successful at it. I say this because lately I am noticing the dark underbelly of humanity. No, I haven’t been oblivious to the news or world events. War has been a constant in the U.S. as long as I’ve been alive. Really, I can’t remember a span of many years without troops being deployed. But this isn’t what I’m referring to.

What I’m talking about is the gradual decline of ethics, morals, and empathy. I’m sure I missed a lot of things in there, but really all adjectives boil down to those. The internet is a place where most of these things I’ve noticed have been seen. Regardless of psychological reasons why people can be meaner online or on the phone than face-to-face, I am always taken aback when I see such horribleness in the world.

I see hate. There’s so much hate out there. I can’t understand it one bit. People hate others without knowing them. And it’s not as if the world has changed, but the internet allows hate to be broadcast, and those who agree with these hideous views to gather. People have been able to see differences since the first human could define beauty, and so the other side of the coin was created. With the ability to see differences, came opinion, and so on.

The internet is plagued with uneducated opinions, and opinions have become more valued than fact-finding. Somehow the right to express opinion has filtered out compassion towards others.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back,” so to speak, was a couple at the Denver Comic Convention. They were each wearing signs with snippy, demeaning remarks towards fandoms. The one that got me was “If Firefly was so good, why was it cancelled?” I won’t get into the terrible marketing that set the show up for failure, that’s another lengthy blog in itself. But more than being offended, I wondered why someone would pay money to go to something they clearly hate to hold a sign all day intending to hurt others they have no hope of changing the mind of? It’s insanity. I mean, I don’t care what they think, if they don’t like it they can watch something else. But why waste your time?

I can’t really say why I’ve only begun to notice the raw evils of the world. Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something. I think it’s this:

It’s time to fight back against bullies. I’ve lived with them my entire life. It’s time to take a quiet stand and whittle away their efforts, not by feeding their comments or giving them attention in any way. To be successful, we need to spread love and kindness whenever we see the opportunity. By doing this, and cutting off fuel to the negative, maybe we can make an impact.

There is a Cherokee tale of two wolves. I’ve seen this a lot lately too. I’d like to share it.

“One evening, an elderly
Cherokee brave told his
grandson about a battle that
goes on inside people.

he said “my son, the battle is
between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
one is evil. it is anger,
envy, jealousy, sorrow,
regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment,
inferiority, lies, false pride,
superiority, and ego.

the other is good.
it is joy, peace love, hope serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion and faith.”

the grandson though about
it for a minute and then asked
his grandfather:

“which wolf wins?…”

the old cherokee simply replied,
“the one that you feed”


As a constant in my life, this Jewel lyric rings true to my soul. I don’t ever see myself changing to a point where this isn’t me.

“I have this theory, that if we’re told we’re bad, then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have. Maybe if we are surrounded in beauty, maybe we will become what we see. ‘Cause anyone can start a conflict, it’s harder yet to disregard it. I’d rather see the world from another angle, we are everyday angels. Be careful with me, ’cause I’d like to stay that way.”

My Personal Interpretation of, “Broken Until Open”

I had a thought driving home today, listening to a song, that may not be so different from what you might be thinking. This may be what a song means to me more than a real organized blog.

“I am being broken”

I’ve been fighting this for 6 years now, pushing this realization to the back of my head. Ignoring red flags of all sorts. I ignored the red flags of abuse in past relationships. I ignored that my current job is such a bad fit for me that it would eventually make me physically sick. I ignored the cries from my soul’s need to make art.

In my ‘breaking’ I have been nursing the wounds with familiar things and places. Familiar souls. I’ve gone in search of familiarity and found it in the EDAs I’ve found online. I’ve been slowly creating the life I want. One piece at a time it falls into place. I realize this breaking process is something that I have to go through. I can’t mask it or ignore it, or push it away any longer. I will have to trust in the universe and know that I will be taken care of. I just need to choose a path and go. As painful as it may be, I have to go through it.

It’s time.

One thing I have realized is that I’ve seen more and more art pour out of me, and more ideas come to me as I emotionally, and mentally move away from the last toxic thing that’s holding me back. I’m going to be okay, it may take some time, but I’m doing it.

Here’s the whole song.

Broken Until Open” by Jewel

“Simplicity, does not come easy
When you’re dreaming of being someone else
And grace you see is fleeting
When you’re bleeding your inner self

Give Mercy to me please
Give Mercy I’m on my knees
I’m being broken again and again
I’ll keep being broken until I remain…..

When we’re locked away, hiding shadows, constant battles,
Trying to feel safe
When your armor starts killing you,
cause it’s drowning you, beneath it’s weight

Call for mercy, won’t you please
Call for mercy, drop to your knees
You’re being broken, again and again
You’ll keep being broken, till you remain…

So feel the pain, give into it
Cry till you crack, that’s how the light gets in
Set your weapons on the ground
till you’re naked and trembling now
And when you think you can’t stand any more

Give mercy, to someone in need
Give mercy, don’t you see
Life will break your heart, again and again
And we’ll keep being broken until we remain…

Don’t you see
Don’t you see
Life will break our hearts, again and again
We’ll keep being broken until we remain…


I have broken…
I am broken.open “

This song resonates with me at this moment more than any other Jewel song ever has.

“Simplicity, does not come easy
When you’re dreaming of being someone else
And grace you see is fleeting
When you’re bleeding your inner self”

This verse, to me in my job. I pretend to be someone else every day. I pretend to be happy and talkative. I do what is asked of me until I can’t do it any longer. And in doing what everyone else wants me to do, I am losing myself, I’ve nearly lost hold of what is me.

When we’re locked away, hiding shadows, constant battles,
Trying to feel safe
When your armor starts killing you,
cause it’s drowning you, beneath it’s weight

Of course we aren’t locked away in the literal sense. But we lock parts of us away that would displease or scare other people. The parts of us that scare us. Depression and anxiety for me is a constant everyday battle. When the depressing thoughts float in it takes a lot of energy to fight them off, and to fight off what they try to get me to do. And this fight is neverending. This armor we place on ourselves to deal with the outside world, not speaking to too many people, avoiding connections because of the pain of losing one. It’s the wall we use to protect our hearts that’s suffocating us.

So feel the pain, give into it
Cry till you crack, that’s how the light gets in
Set your weapons on the ground
till you’re naked and trembling now
And when you think you can’t stand any more

Give mercy, to someone in need
Give mercy, don’t you see
Life will break your heart, again and again
And we’ll keep being broken until we remain…

To me, this says; “Take down your walls, feel the pain because it is what makes us human. Cry, literally cry. It’s therapeutic. Also, it is okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel happy. It’s the only way through this world. No one is unscathed. Quit fighting your battles so fiercely, put away your words which you use to fight with, no matter who it is for or how horrible they are. When you hit rock bottom, and think that you can’t fix anything, give of yourself. Because without community, the human race is nothing. Life will always throw us circumstances that will break us, and our hearts. Keep going.



A Night With Jewel

Saturday, August 9th, 2014 8PM

A solo-acoustic evening benefiting the
Sheridan Arts Foundation & Project Clean Water


I could not have asked for a better weekend to drive to Telluride, CO. The drive took 7 hours or so, and I was amazed at how the time flew by. Never having gone too far into western Colorado, I was excited to explore. Before I knew it, I was in Telluride and able to take a quick rest in my hotel room. I quickly got out to explore the city.

It’s a beautifully maintained little mountain town. Everything seems original, yet restored. You can tell how much this place is loved by its residents. The speed limit there is 15mph. It’s clearly not for driving. As soon as I arrived I decided this not only because of the flower planters in the middle of the streets, because of how safe residents feel in their mountain town. You could tell this by the way everyone allowed their dogs follow closely without a leash. The children were all very observant and waited for their parents to give them the OK to cross the streets.

I had never seen anything like this in my life! The day after the concert, an artist who sells his paintings within the Sheridan hotel (for a mere 20,000 each) could be found painting in the middle of the street between two planters.

I ventured out to find myself a meal after driving all day on granola bars and water. I decided to treat myself to the Elk Steak at the Sheridan. I think it may have been the best meal of my life. If you happen to visit the Sheridan in Telluride, Daniel is the best bartender, hands down. He’ll remember your name after only telling him once, and treat you like a long lost friend. He’s waited on Jewel a few times, but admitted he hasn’t seen one of her shows. I told him he’s going to have to fix that.

Now, after a meal and a drink, I could have used a nap. So I draped myself over a picnic table near the entrance to the Sheridan Opera House. The tiny unassuming doors on the side of the main Sheridan building were elegant and had the name painted in gold lettering. What made me smile inside was the illuminated sign on top of the entrance doors that said, “SHOW.” If you look at historical photos of the opera house, it is a nod to the original sign above those doors when it was built. You can tell how important the historical integrity of this town is to the locals.


While waiting, I saw dozens of people who were disappointed about missing Jewel’s show. One gentleman even tried to buy my ticket. As any EDA would have thought to myself, “When you pry it from my cold dead fingers!” But I was apologetic towards him, and said, “No, I’m sorry, I drove 7 hours for this.” While waiting, I also managed to talk to the arts foundation coordinator, she allowed me to nab a poster from the coffee house around the block. It just happened to be in pristine condition. Yes, that’s going to be framed with my ticket. I proudly walked the poster to my car, safely stowed it away in the back seat… along with my keys. Ever the air head, I could never let something this wonderful go off without a hitch. I sighed. Pulled out my phone and called a few places. I soon decided that the show was more important and took my place in line to wait for the doors to open.

When I discovered where my seat was, it made it worth it. Although I had a seat in the balcony, it was still a phenomenal seat. There were a total of 200 seats in the opera house, and not a one was bad. They began by announcing that there should be no recording of any kind, because Jewel was recording the concert. So, don’t be mad, but I put the phone away. They also announced there would be an auction held at intermission (sure to include items I could only dream of having).

The set list was as follows.

Near You Always

Here When Gone

Without You By My Side

A Boy Needs A Bike

Everything Breaks


Think I’m Falling

Plane Jane

Broken Until Open



Tiny Love Spaces

My Father’s Daughter

Shape Of You


You Were Meant For Me

Foolish Games

Love Used To Be

Who Will Save Your Soul


Chime Bells

Now, the auction went quite well. Everything was upwards of 1,000 starting bid. There were paintings, vacations, Ty was there and donated an autographed belt buckle, lastly, what everyone was waiting for, was one of Jewel’s very own guitars which she autographed. This also included either a voice lesson or a guitar lesson with Jewel herself. There was a bidding war between two gentleman there, ending the final bid at 15,250. I think Jewel was a little overwhelmed, because she joked, “You do realize this is JUST the guitar and lesson, right? We didn’t agree to anything else.”

I have to say, this was the all time, best Jewel concert I’ve ever been to. She seemed comfortable, the way she does at our EDA events. I’m not sure if it was her comfort or the fact that she was recording, but the songs blew me away like never before. Carnivore was so much more emotive than it had been when I had heard it in the past. Broken Until Open was another one I latched onto. Even though Here When Gone is a favorite, and the song that got me on this never ending quest for more Angelfood, Carnivore is what stole the show. Even her stories in the middle of her songs were better! I got to hear a more detailed version of her drug bust adventure with Steve Poltz. We all knew Steve walked away with a ‘gift’ from the Mexican drug cartel, but it had never been told so eloquently before that night.

Now after the show let out, it was 11pm. And I was left without a way to get back to my hotel. Out of place, and out of my comfort zone, I asked at least half a dozen people if they knew how to jimmy open a car door. What was I thinking? People in Telluride wouldn’t know how to do the slightest thing illegal. So I ended up waiting my time for the locksmith chatting up with our friendly bartender Daniel. It was the end of his shift, and the bar was closed, but he allowed me to stay in the hotel’s bar area and waited with me so I wouldn’t have to be alone. Even when something crappy happened, it turned out amazing!

I can’t wait for next year’s fundraiser concert. Thank you Sheridan Opera House, Telluride, and Jewel for an amazing weekend.