Taking a trip down memory lane, an unexpected frustration, and disability reflections

So, I have to be honest here about something that’s frustrated me recently: the fact that I’d had a few paragraphs written for this blog post and accidentally deleted them!! So as I’ve said here before, I typically write my entries in the notes app on my iPhone; but for some reason, I accidentally deleted the multi-paragraph blog post. Thankfully though, I knew exactly what I’d written and I was able to recreate that a second time around. But sheesh, I seriously hope I remember that this has happened so that I don’t do this again. Because honestly, I was so frustrated when this had first happened. Like, I felt like it would take me awhile to recreate everything I’d written…and I dreaded going through that again. But then I quickly became proactive and thought about exactly what I’d written. And once I’d calmed down, I was even able to come up with additional content that I could tie in with what I’d already written. All in all, I’m glad that this writer’s worst writing nightmare is over.

Just because I find it fun to reflect on things, I thought I’d talk about how different therapists I’ve had throughout my life have affected me. So honestly, the very first therapist that comes to my mind, is one that I had when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I don’t remember much about her, other than that I was afraid to tell her that I had suicidal thoughts. I was afraid to be honest with her, given what a traumatic upbringing I’d had. But also, I was hesitant to tell her the truth because I suspected that she’d put me in a psychiatric ward or something. But yet another therapist I remember having a similar experience with, came into my life after I’d been sexually asaulted in 2009. I remember that this therapist treated me in a shitty way; she told me something along the lines of “you’re coming into my office like someone who isn’t confident in herself.” Duh, lady, I’d just been sexually assaulted!! And in addition to that particular comment she’d made, I just knew that she and I weren’t a great fit for one another. She wasn’t supportive of me in any way, shape or form. And ultimately, when I became more confident in my own ability to get myself through this particular hardship, I sent her an email letting her know that I wasn’t going to continue being her patient anymore. I said something in my email to her like “I realize that it’s time for me to put my big girl pants on and figure out how to heal myself from this specific traumatic event.” That was it; the only thing that was a bit complicated about this whole thing, was that I needed to be given permission by someone I trusted, that I wasn’t obligated to continue seeing this woman. Because deep down, I knewn that this decision was the right one for me to make; but part of me still felt I was wrong for having these feelings. But once my journey had ended with that particular therapist, I didn’t go to a therapist for nearly a decade after that. I felt too traumatized by those shitty experiences I’d had with those therapists, even though they were years apart from one another.

So the next time I started seeing a therapist, was in the fall of 2017. That particular time in therapy is one that I’ve referenced a lot on my blog, as it changed my life in such meaningful ways. I had three therapists in my life at that time. One of them was my one-on-one therapist and the other two folks were leaders for a trauma-processing group that I’d agreed to be in. But starting with my one-on-one therapist, they were great about helping me learn to trust myself. So the first few times that I’d gone to their office, they showed me from the door of the building, how to get to their office. And then from their office, I learned how to get into their specific room from the waiting room. Learning how to navigate that situation was a great confidence boost for me, honestly. This therapist was also good at helping me learn how to come up with my own answers to things, rather than allowing me to give short and vague answers. They’d ask me questions that would lead me to my own conclusions which was incredibly empowering. Whereas the trauma-processing group I was in at that time was mainly group-focused. This particular group only had two other people in it besides me…but we all made the most of our time together. The therapists who lead that group were great about holding space for whatever we needed or wanted to discuss…and that was something I truly needed at that time. Whereas now, the current therapist I have is someone who basically just listens to whatever I tell her. At least, that’s been what the majority of our time together has been like. Although, they do also support the things I’m doing with my life. They also support the decision I’ve made for myself, in terms of creating my tribe of people who will be in my life long-term. And TBH, I’m perfectly happy with that.

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about Ms. J, a teacher I’d had in elementary school who had a profound impact on my life. I’ve written about her on my blog at least a couple times before…and in doing that, I also contacted the schools in San Antonio that I’d gone to, to see if they could find her for me. But that being said, I knew that not having Ms. J’s full last name or her first name would most likely work against me. And unfortunately I was right about that. So I’m writing about this now, to say that I’ve literally done everything in my power to try and find her, given the limited information that I have about her. And at the end of the day, I’m just thankful that the memories of her and I can’t be taken from me; she truly was a loving presence in my life.

On my personal Facebook page, I sometimes like to read the memories of mine that come up. But being that I’ve been blogging for over two and a half years now, I can’t possibly remember if I’ve already logged the things I post on FB that are great pieces of writing. So I’m putting this piece of writing here that reads:
Letting go of people can sometimes be difficult for me, but what makes letting go of some people cause me to not even be sad or empathetic that I chose to let them go is when people don’t respect my boundaries. First of all, when someone sets a boundary with you, you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to accept it…but you should respect the person’s wishes regardless of how you feel or what you want. Secondly, I’m studying to be a social worker so it’s essential that I get my own shit together and be a living example to people of what healthy relationships look like. Third, yes I’ve chosen to cut toxic people out of my life for the past year or so…and one thing I include in people being a toxic individual is…you guessed it!!! NOT RESPECTING MY BOUNDARIES! I had a recent situation where I set boundaries with the last man I’d dated and immediately received two text messages from him…disrespecting the boundaries I’d just set with him of “do not contact me in any way. We need to be out of each other’s lives completely.” Now, if you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you; on that note though, I’m sick and fucking tired of men in particular making it about them when a woman like me asserts herself and says that a certain thing needs to stop. We as women need to call this shit out as I’m doing right now, and we should…because we deserve to be respected. When we say stop, we need to call people on their harmful shit!! In case anyone is wondering, my ex and I could have remained friends if he’d been kind, respected my space/not still been touchy-feely towards me even though every indication I gave him told him back the fuck off. I’m not a mean person…but Chelsea Tigress does come out for war occasionally! So for any person who may need this, your boundaries are yours, let them be precious to you. And men who don’t respect boundaries…grow the hell up and learn that not everything in life that happens is, or should be made about you!! For anyone who wants to tell me not all men…or…women disrespect boundaries too, I know this. I’m just relating this to my specific situation.

Within the past week, I read something that a Facebook friend of mine had posted, about a survey that wants to examine how people with disabilities feel when religious folks pray for them, for us. And so not surprisingly, I completed this survey as soon as I saw it. But just to give people an idea of what its questions were, one of the statements in the survey was something along the lines of “it makes a positive difference when people pray for folks who have disabilities.” And from that point, the survey-taker tells whether they strongly disagree with that statement, strongly agree with said statement or if they fall somewhere in between the two sides. I of course strongly disagreed with that particular statement. But that being said, there was a section at the end of the survey where I put additional comments that I had. And I said something in this section like “I think that religion of any kind poisons the world. But I also think that it’s important for this type of thing to be examined, as awareness needs to be presented to the world about the harmfulness of people praying for those of us who have disabilities.” And honestly, that brings up another point which I didn’t think of when I was completing this survey: this idea among all religious folks that I’ve ever known, that human beings are broken individuals. I hate this idea, mostly because it’s an awful thing to tell someone. And TBH, when I try to think about why anyone would say such a thing, I can’t make sense out of it, no matter how much I try to.

But on a somewhat similar note, I think it’s fitting for me to talk about the numerous traumatic events I’ve experienced throughout my life, where religious nutjobs have prayed for me without my consent. So the very first instance of this happening, that made a huge impact on me, happened in 2009; more specifically, this happened right around the time I’d gotten sexually assaulted. And given the amount of trauma that that particular event caused me, I was going to work with one of my aunts every day for a couple weeks or so. And during one of the times I was at her place of employment, a total stranger came up to me, asked if I’d forgiven my rapist…and then proceeded to touch me without my permission. And the thing was, back then, I had no idea that I could even tell this lady to fuck off. Instead, I just felt what I felt internally, doing everything I possibly could to convince myself that I was being unreasonable. And the thing was, I can remember my aunt telling me that she saw the horrified look on my face right as this was happening to me. But she didn’t speak up about it, either. That was also frustrating as fuck for me. But a few years later, in summer or fall 2015, I decided to find a church to go to in San Antonio. Because I’d just gotten out of the hospital and I felt like the only reason I was still alive, was because of a higher power’s existence. So needless to say, I found a church to attend; and in fact, this was the very church where I was in that Bible study group of ladies who didn’t respect my boundaries, that I’ve told the story about on here pretty recently. So anyway, many folks who’d attended this church, whether they knew me or not, would pray for me regularly. They never asked my permission, and I never told them how I honestly felt. And lastly, around this same time in 2015, I met some religious nutjobs at a Jaci Velasquez concert I attended. But I honestly didn’t even know that these people would literally scare/traumatize me the way they did. But what happened, was that I’d hung out with them the same day that the concert had taken place. I actually stayed with some of them at their house that night, as I felt like I’d be safe doing that. And so, the next morning when they took me to their church, I got a rude awakening. These assholes touched my face all over…and honestly had me thinking about how I’d laugh hysterically if my glass eyes fell out onto the floor or into their hands. These assholes even hugged me without my consent; and as I’ve already said in this blog post, I never spoke up to anyone at that time. And to make matters worse, my phone was completely dead!! So I couldn’t have called for help, even if I’d wanted to. So I was literally stuck with these folks who were traumatizing me, until they finally took me home. And TBH, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be back home in my life. I learned a powerful lesson, though…and that is to never go to church with anyone, without knowing how they conduct themselves. Well thankfully, I have nothing to worry about now, as I’d never go to a church unless someone whose music I love was performing at one…or if someone I cared about was getting married or had died. But still, religion is awful, period.

So I haven’t talked about what school is going to look like for me, given the chaos that our world is experiencing right now. Because I wanted to have a fuller update besides just saying that I wouldn’t go to school this upcoming fall semester. Because as you readers may remember, I did register for a communications class for the upcoming fall session, hoping that said class would be easily accessible online. But of course, as my luck would have it, I ultimately discovered that the class I’d signed up to take wouldn’t be offered online after all. And honestly, I was more than fine with that news, as I’m not a fan of Zoom (the website/online platform that allows people to video chat with one another). And the thing is, most people seem to love Zoom to pieces. And I get that, in the sense that I understand that Zoom is an easy way for many people to get that social interaction that’s mostly missing from their lives, due to the current global crisis that’s going on. But for me, there are a few reasons why I haven’t used Zoom yet myself; one reason is because the internet where I live is hit or miss when it comes to using FaceTime or another type of audio or video chat. Like, the internet will allow me to connect to audio or video chat for a few minutes’ max before it stops working…and then I’m forced to reboot my Mac if I want to get back onto the internet again. And quite frankly, I’m not going to sit there and let that happen again and again, just to say that I’ve been able to socialize with my friends. But in addition to the shitty internet situation that I’m currently in, as I’ve said on my blog before, I’m taking this time to recharge and disconnect from people. It actually feels like making this decision has been a great one, mostly because I’m letting my body/soul do the talking. Put another way though, I trust that my body/soul will let me know when it’s time to change up what and how I’m living. I’m listening to my body happily, rather than doing whatever I can to fight the different energies that just naturally come up for me when I calmly respond to whatever vibration I’m experiencing at a given time.

In a recent episode of the TED Radio Hour podcast, its host Manoush Zomorodi discussed spaces and how different spaces can have different affects on us as individuals. Like for example, being at the Jaci Velasquez concert I’d mentioned before, was a very different space than these folks’ house was. And these folks’ house was a very different space from the church they attended. And that church was an incredibly different space than my apartment was. And similarly, as someone with disabilities, my fucking body is regularly treated by society at large like I have no rights as the fellow human being that I am. More often than not, people who see me in public automatically assume that I have no idea where I’m going, much less that I know how to get to where I’m going. And honestly, this particular part of my journey has also been interesting. Because my attitude has changed over the years, in terms of how I allow people to handle my body, without my consent. Like, when I was younger, I was very quiet…and too polite, even. What I mean by that, is that I’d nicely ask people to take their hands off of me or off of my white cane. But as I entered into adulthood, I realized that I had the right to have my boundaries respected, at least when it came to people not being allowed to touch me just because they felt they had the right to. I realized this truth when I was a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) and I started speaking up regularly when it came to the way people viewed my body. But unfortunately, that attitude adjustment in me, didn’t change people’s attitudes about the bodies of people with disabilities. But the older I get, the easier it becomes for me to tell people to fuck off and to stop touching me or my mobility aids without my permission. But sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see a day in my lifetime when the bodies of people with disabilities are no longer treated as being accessible to the public to manhandle however they choose, 24/7. And sadder still, is the fact that the majority of the world doesn’t seem to comprehend why many of us with disabilities become so infuriated when they violate our personal space. It’s frustrating as fuck to have that be your regular lived reality, that’s for sure.

But going back to this particular TED Radio Hour episode that discussed spaces/how we humans move through the different spaces we encounter, one of the stories that resonated with me on the episode, was about a man who’d recently learned that one of his parents had a terminal illness. And along with that information, this relative of his supposedly didn’t have very much longer to live. But then something amazing happened: this guy and his sick parent started working together on the house that they lived in together. They had a certain vision for the way that they wanted the house to look…and doing that work was what ultimately gave this guy’s dad a purpose. Because every single day, from the time they’d started this project, the dad looked forward to keeping up with their work every day. And in fact, the dad even lived much longer than his medical team had expected him to. And so ultimately, this man talked about how spaces can sometimes become healing for us. And yet another story on this TED Radio Hour episode that stood out to me, was about a musician in the entertainment industry; he was actually in a group that’s called The Talking Heads. And I’ve never heard that group’s music that I’m aware of; but I wanted to write about this group’s name, as I think it’s a funny name for a band to have. But anyway, this man discussed how music can sound different in different places, just as it can sound different when different people are playing the instruments. I found that quite interesting, being that I hadn’t thought about that before, in that specific way. And as if that weren’t enough for me to think about, there was also someone on this episode of the show who was a designer for assorted kinds of setups. And this person’s words resonated with me, especially being that they talked about how everyone that’s involved in the process of creating setups for bands, or setups for movie festivals…or any number of other things one can think of, everyone is partially responsible for the great creations that are in our world. I could relate to what this woman was saying, being that I’ve been participating in live theater for most of my life. But I could also relate to what she was saying because I know that in order for live theater productions to be amazing, there are tons and tons of folks who help make that happen, whether those folks are behind the scenes or on the frontlines, doing the acting or stage work.

In a recent episode of Hidden Brain, the host Shankar Vedantam told a story about how a person of color unexpectedly inspired a white person to tell the story of the person of color. But as we the listeners hear this story being told by Shankar, we learn that the person of color was apparently fine with their white friend reinventing their story. And honestly, that surprised the fuck out of me, as I have a very different perspective on this issue. And my perspective on it is that there are stories that it isn’t OK for me as a white person, to tell. For example, with the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ll say that I support people of color that I know/other folks of color in this continuous fight for equality. But that’s the extent of things; I won’t ever blog about that particular fight any more than what I’ve already said I would do here. Because I’d feel uncomfortable just knowing that I was speaking about something that I have no personal experience with.

I recently heard of a podcast that’s called Blood Ties; it’s a dramatized story, is how I’d describe it. So what that means more specifically, is that there are actors who play character roles in this story, along with sounds throughout the story. And honestly, this podcast is done really well; but I still feel like there’s something hugely missing from it. And I think that these feelings of mine are because most of the reason why I listen to podcasts, is because I want to be made to think about things. I listen to podcasts because I want to reflect on myself and discover new ways that I can become a better human being. And so, even though I enjoy listening to the audio drama that is Blood Ties, I think that subconsciously I’m comparing it to being in live theater myself, or watching a live theater production myself. Because as someone who’s been a life-long actress as I have, it’s damn near impossible for me to disconnect from the world and get into the world of Blood Ties. But that being said, when I hear this particular audio drama, it makes me feel great to know that people are creating podcasts like this one. I definitely want to see what happens as this particular podcast continues releasing episodes; and I hope to find other audio dramas in the form of podcasts, that might be enjoyable to me. But all in all, I wouldn’t recommend that people listen to Blood Ties.

But now, to tell you dear readers what this audio drama Blood Ties is about, it’s a story about how a brother and sister’s life unexpectedly changed, when both of their parents were thought to have died in an airplane crash. But as this mystery unfolds, we the listeners learn that there’s a lot more to the story than the explanation of these folks’ parents being dead. But the thing is, there are so many twists and turns throughout this show, that I’m constantly wondering what’s going to happen next. But unfortunately for me, this particular podcast is ongoing. I say unfortunately because there isn’t an end to this story yet. And I’ve been thinking that the story probably won’t end soon, even though there’s only a few more weeks of season two taking place.

Another podcast that I’ve heard of recently, is called Talk Description To Me. One of the people who hosts this podcast does audio description professionally. And there’s also another host of the show who’s blind. And honestly, I think it’s great that a blind person is on this show, as she’ll have awesome questions to ask the sighted host, questions that will bring out thought-provoking things for the two of them to discuss as well as for us as the listeners to think about. And given that this podcast is so new, I’ve listened to all of its episodes already. And one of the things that the hosts talk about, is one of the videos that’s been going around of George Floyd’s brutal murder. So for example, the sighted person explained how the officer who was literally kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, was a white man. And not only that, but this officer had his other leg resting on George Floyd’s back, holding him (George Floyd) face down on the ground. There were also other police officers standing by in the exact area where this was happening. And those law enforcement folks were just watching the officer I’d mentioned previously, as he killed George Floyd in a cold-blooded manner. And the thing is, now that I’ve been made aware of such brutality, as a blind person, I’m wondering how the hell anyone in their right mind can claim that George Floyd deserved to be murdered. As a blind person who now knows about the contents of at least one of these horrible videos, I’m also wondering how the fuck people can claim that the cops are not the aggressors in these types of situations, most of the time. Because you cannot say that someone who has their body holding someone down, wants that someone to remain alive. Because the thing was, in this particular instance, the officer in question held George Floyd’s body in this particular position for more than five minutes. Clearly, this officer did not intend to let George Floyd get himself away from this shitty situation.

In similar news, I wrote a review on the App Store for the podcast Talk Description To Me. What I wrote as my review reads:
This podcast will definitely go down as being one of my favorite shows out there. I’ve been legally blind since birth, but never in a million years would I have thought that podcast creators would intentionally reflect on the fact that blind people frequently get left out of discussions around current events in some ways, as we as blind people don’t even know what we don’t know. I appreciate the thoughtfulness it took to create this podcast and I’m hopeful that we have it in our lives for years to come!! Thank you so much for doing what you can to help change the world for good.

I recently finished watching a show on Netflix called Love On The Spectrum. But given the last few experiences I’d had with Netflix shows about people with disabilities, I wasn’t sure what to think of Love On The Spectrum at first. But thankfully, upon doing some Google searching, I learned that this show was indeed about actual disabled people’s interest in dating. The show is based in Australia though, so there can be times throughout said series when people’s Australian accents are difficult to understand. But overall, I love how this show closely follows people on the autism spectrum; I think it’s important to get the message into the world that no matter what one’s disability may be, having a disability doesn’t mean that people with disabilities (PWDs) don’t want to date and have sex, like many other folks in the world do. I’m interested to see if this show will make a comeback at all…and whether there will be a whole new cast or updates on the cast that we’re already familiar with.