Monthly Archives: February 2015

Introducing…The Interview Series

IMG_20150220_170714It all started with a couple of posts about my experiences of interning as a counselor at Planned Parenthood, and the utter failures of sexual education from parents (and truly, society at large) that had brought women though our doors. A reader confided in me that she had been raised without access to medically accurate information about sex, reproduction, and the human body, and offered that perhaps I’d like to interview her for Candid Uprising’s readership. The resulting conversation, encapsulated in Sex Ed Fail: The Interview was the most read, most viewed post at the time of its publication. The comments thread on social media thanked the subject for openly discussing her experience of being “old enough to know better”, yet under-educated, shining light on an important issue.

Next, I shared a deeply personal account of the last time I was drunk, in celebration of six years without alcohol. I hesitated to publish it wondering if revealing such a sordid, angst-ridden, raw account of myself would be too much, or turn our readership off. I clicked “publish” on the day of my six year anniversary and watched as within hours the post blew up, garnering the most readers, views and shares of anything previously published on Candid Uprising. Comments and personal messages poured in, thanking me for telling my story.

We understood the response to mean you were asking for more stories about real people facing the myriad challenges life throws at us, in a judgement-free, exploratory context. I reached out to our community via social media, asking people to volunteer to be interviewed, their stories to be written up and shared on Candid Uprising. We chose a topic for each person and asked them to elaborate on a facet of their respective lives, free-form. The result was an extraordinary outpouring of human experience, an unexpected level of candor, and in some cases, a new level of understanding reached simply in the telling.

Beginning Tuesday, March 3rd, we are honored to present you with The Interview Series; stories about parenting, entering a new decade of life, divorce, depression, and rape, to name a few. We will post two interviews a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout March, with special guest posts on Fridays that provide first-person accounts on a variety of topics. Please join us for this exploration of stories about people in the Candid Uprising community, and chime in.

Overheard In A Consignment Boutique

ovhrdconsignIt was a wet, dreary Friday afternoon, and I wandered into the boutique after stopping for a post-work cup of froyo with some colleagues. I grabbed a few dresses off the racks to try on, just killing time, really. I was the only customer in the store, and as I disrobed, I heard one of the shopgirls say to the owner, “Did I tell you he got fired from the school finally? But it wasn’t for what he did to me. It was because he wasn’t doing his job.” Suddenly, I was no longer killing time, I was listening closely to my next voyeurism piece taking shape. I listened quietly behind the dressing curtain, grateful for its thin, sound-permeable quality as the young woman continued, “…and he totally texted me today, after all that, still trying to get with me.” Continue reading

Just Because Someone’s Not A Monster, Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Better Off Alone

monsterRecently, I was driving around town with someone very close to me and we were laughing about how disgusting a particular kind of food is. Nonchalantly, I stated, “You know I never say this, but I wish (my ex) was here for this conversation. He could tell some hilarious stories about growing up on that food.”

The conversation continued naturally and progressed into discussions about other topics. Then, referencing my earlier comment about how my ex would have had really funny stories to contribute, the person I was with said, “That makes me feel sad. How you wish he was here to hear our conversation (about disgusting food).” We laughed about how he always had hilarious stories about the topic, and my vehicle companion continued, “Actually, I remember once we all went out to dinner and it was really fun. We were talking and laughing and having a good time.”

My response: “Well, yeah. He was not a complete monster. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him if he didn’t have a few good qualities.” Continue reading

Ribs

ribsMy first full-blown trial in an actual courtroom was the result of a two-month-old baby boy, Mr. T, who suffered from a pair of broken ribs on each side of his tiny, little torso. Broken ribs in an infant are surprisingly difficult to detect, even with today’s x-ray and other bone-scanning technology. Essentially, the ribs are so small and soft that it is nearly impossible to see the telltale hairline cracks that you would otherwise find in fractures of the longer bones of the legs or arms. Or in the ribs of an adult, I guess. Continue reading

Domestic Violence Dynamics

DVThe most eye-opening moments of my graduate program came during my stint as a mental health counselor at Planned Parenthood. It was in the clinic, working with patients where what I was learning in class came alive, challenging me and my assumptions. A perfect example: on my first day I met a patient preparing for an abortion procedure and was surprised to see her wearing a wedding ring. I remarked to my supervisor with surprise, “she’s married!” “Yes, well, married people have abortions, too,” he explained. (Picture me smacking my own forehead over my ignorance and narrow understanding).

Because our patients were from widely varying demographics, I had a chance to counsel many different women and learn about circumstances beyond what I might have imagined, or thought I knew. As I’ve explained in previous posts, much of the pertinent information about a patient’s situation (and implications for counseling) came out during the medical history intake process, a holistic set of questions that included sections on mental health, partner relationships and current living situation in addition to the standards about STI and pregnancy history. Nothing had quite prepared me for the client who marked yes to the questions “I feel unsafe with my intimate partner” and “my partner has been physically, emotionally and/or verbally violent towards me”, who explained that she had been beaten up after hitting him on numerous occasions. Continue reading

What’s The Payoff?

payoffI ask myself this when I catch myself engaging in behaviors I know to be unhealthy, futile or self-destructive. I ask myself this when I see others doing the same. For our big brains, in many ways we’re not terribly complicated. We do behaviors that create rewards. We get something out of it, and we do it again. Unfortunately, the reward isn’t always something positive, healthy or productive (see: chemical dependency; family dysfunction). Creating an awareness within ourselves as to what rewards we’re attaining through our behaviors can help us make lasting changes, give us direction and help us heal. That same awareness will help us be less judgmental of those around us, which can lead to more compassion, empathy and kindness. Relationships strengthen, the community benefits. Now there’s a payoff. But as for the behaviors that hurt us, well, what are we getting out of them? Continue reading

I Sat By The Ocean

329967_3035595809348_483772491_oThe closest thing to a higher power of which I can conceive is the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve been following along, you know I’m a staunch atheist, but I don’t want you to think that means I’m cold and dead inside. I am moved by forces I understand to be greater than myself, I just don’t believe in god. When I’m at the ocean, however, I experience sensations I’ve heard the devout and the spiritual describe. My favorite place to experience the Pacific is at the Washington Coast, though the Hawaiian Islands are a close second. I sit for hours in contemplation, watching the waves break and crash, knowing it’s a phenomenon that’s been occurring for billions of years. The Pacific is constant and massive at almost 65 million square miles. It’s temperamental, ever-changing, never still. It never stops. It could take the likes of me and churn me into bits. I respect its awesome power and worship its extraordinary beauty. In some ways, the time I spend at the beach is like church, or at least fulfills the purpose for which I understand the religious attend. I feel overwhelmed at the shore, yet safe in the knowledge the tides have been going in and out longer than I can imagine, unstoppable. Continue reading