TL;DR: Shit is fucked up, and I’m gonna talk about it.

Originally posted on my Facebook:

Last night I read a piece that comforted me in a really twisted way. It confirmed all of the terrifying thoughts about the state of the US right now that have been circling the drain in my head. The ones I’ve been allowing to trickle out in private conversations with like-minded friends, and sharing watered-down versions of on social media from diligently researched, fact-based, “legitimate publications.”

While my gut told me to share this particular piece immediately, that it was something that should be distributed widely, and read by every single person on the planet, I paused. I hadn’t visited all the links embedded within to make sure they were legit. I hadn’t double-checked the quotes by Trump and Bannon to make sure they weren’t taken out of context (spoiler alert: they fucking weren’t). I hadn’t researched the author. So I decided to sleep on it.

16195669_10158054765950507_707613205936468860_nIt was the very first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning, and I found myself wondering why I paused. Why was I afraid to post it? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I pause all the time. More often than not, I don’t hit that “share” button, even if something resonates deeply for me. More often than not, the things that I desperately want to write never make it out of my head and onto a page. More often than not, I weigh the importance of the subject matter against the energy I might have to invest “debating” it with people who are not interested in understanding, but silencing. More often than not, I retreat into the safety of my privilege when faced with even the possibility of that exhaustion. Because I am afraid.

I’m afraid that people won’t like me.

I’m afraid that people will think I’m some unhinged “SJW.”

I’m afraid that people will think I’m overreacting.

I’m afraid that my everyday experiences as a woman will be disputed and minimized.

I’m afraid that I will feel compelled to argue for the validity of my experiences as though they are not real, with people who do not live them, people who believe that my reality and the reality of others is something that can be disputed and debated.

I’m afraid that one day I’ll succumb to the onslaught of gaslighting, and I’ll start to believe that too.

I’m afraid that people will vomit racism, misogyny, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, TERF and SWERF bullshit, rape culture rhetoric, and other oppressive garbage all over a space that I try to keep safe for myself and people I love.

I am afraid of the doxxing, death, and rape threats that will come when and if the very people responsible for this clusterfuck read anything that I write.

Some of these things that I fear are already true, have already happened, or certainly will happen. That’s OK. Because I’m no longer more afraid of those things than I am of what’s happening to this country.

What I have to remember, without tricking myself into believing that my words and opinions carry more weight than they do, is that people have told me that what I say matters to them, and that I’m sometimes able to express things in a way that they understand.

Sometimes people tell me that my page is one of their first and only glimpses into intersectional feminist issues, and that because they know me personally, they consider my opinions more carefully than they would if they were coming from a stranger.

Sometimes I get messages from men who have questions about “women’s issues,” and want to know how they can better support people whose experiences they are incapable of entirely understanding.

Sometimes people ask me where they can find information about things like privilege, how they can share their thoughts meaningfully (or remain silent and listen to the experiences of those affected), as a white person, in conversations surrounding anti-racism.

Sometimes I get messages from people who have been sexually assaulted, thanking me for my willingness to be open about my experiences, because it provided them with some comfort and validation of their feelings.

Sometimes I get messages from people asking for my advice about addiction, because they know that I won’t try to force a solution down their throat, and they feel like I provide a space for them to be honest about it for the first time.

I want you to know that those are the moments I live for. Those are the moments that any emotional exhaustion is worth it. Those are the moments that I cling to in a culture that tells us that sharing deeply personal things about our lives publicly and regularly is divisive, inappropriate, and shameful. Those are the moments that make me feel brave when I want nothing more than to hide in my apathy, and allow myself be lulled into the intoxicating refuge of denial.

I don’t have even close to all of the answers about any of it (I will never claim to), and I fuck this shit up regularly. I welcome your criticism if I ever share something that speaks to your experience as a marginalized person in a way that is harmful or painful. I welcome any requests for content warnings. Please make me aware of it. I am not an expert on anything but my own experience, and I am learning the rest as I go, right along with most of you.

So if you are here on my page as a friend or a follower, I am going to lay some shit out for you: If you are tired of “political” posts, leftists, PC culture, feminism, “SJWs,” “snowflakes,” or those who have been and will continue to deny the legitimacy of this presidency, and you have been constantly lamenting the “good old days” of Facebook, when your newsfeed was a reliable stream of cat videos and cute babies, then you are going to be very irritated every time you see my name here. For some of you, the things I post *now* are already too much for your fragile ego to bear. This is your formal invitation to unfriend me, unfollow me, or block me, no hard feelings, because it is about to get so much worse. I’m tired of looking at pictures of your dinner anyway.

If you stick around, here’s my promise to you:

I will use this space to get really fucking honest.

I will share the voices and experiences of marginalized people.

I will keep this space safe for myself and all marginalized people experiencing the full spectrum of rage and fear right now.

I will not minimize or invalidate those feelings.

I will never tone police, call for “unity,” request that you remain calm and “civil” when discussing your oppression, nor will I allow anyone else to do that on my page.

I am tired of hiding out in comments sections, groups for like-minded people, and even in my own head, out of fear. I think that things have become far too dire, and it’s necessary for those who have the ability to do so to be speaking honestly and publicly about that. You are welcome to share anything from my page. I will post the majority of it, as I do now, set to “public.” I will, however, do my very best to keep this space a place where people can comment and share without fearing they’ll be gaslighted into silence. That means blocking and deleting as I deem necessary. I give exactly zero fucks about “censorship” or your “right to free speech.” It does not extend here, into my personal space.

We are past the point of “civil discourse.” Anything those of you who are still in denial want to “debate” has already been said ad nauseum, and broadcast a trillion times a day, on every major news network, television, computer, and smart phone from the racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, rapist, fascist you were brainwashed enough to vote for, and the white supremacist entourage currently leading the free world. You no longer have a platform here.

These are unprecedented times. When people believe that facts can be “alternative,” science and research are viewed as irrelevant liberal propaganda, people’s lived experiences of oppression are up for debate and then ridiculed as “divisive,” and a man can talk about grabbing women by their pussies and still be elected president. Fuck. All. This. Shit.

To those who stay here: I hope we can talk about some real shit and find comfort and support in each other. I love you. You are important. You matter. Please treat this space as if it were yours.

To those who leave: I hope the memory of your cat videos is enough to comfort you when the country crumbles, and you realize you were on the wrong side of history. And then I hope you’ll fight with us. I, for one, will welcome you with open arms.

Three Years Without a Drink, and No Shiny Gold Chip to Show for it

Hi. My name is Megan, and I don’t drink anymore. For awhile, I introduced myself as an alcoholic. Then, as a person in long term recovery. Sometimes, when I’m talking with people who know the jargon, as a person with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or Person Who Misused Substances. But mostly, I’m just a person who doesn’t drink anymore, and hasn’t for exactly 3 years today. That’s my program of recovery these days. That doesn’t make me special or different. I simply make the choice not to put booze in my face hole anymore because I don’t want to.

This “anniversary” has been different than the other two. This year, I don’t belong to a “program”. This year, no one called or texted. This year, no one asked where I was celebrating. This year, I didn’t pick up that coveted gold chip. This year, I kept forgetting. The only thing that kept the date fresh is the fact that my partner made dinner reservations, and I love having a reason to get dressed up, wear heels, and eat fancy, overpriced food. This year is better.

Around this time last year, I made the decision to entirely remove myself from 12 step recovery. It simply wasn’t conducive to my emotional well-being anymore. I was confused, anxious, and unable to differentiate my own thoughts from “program” thoughts. I knew without question that I didn’t want to drink, but was terrified that if I left I’d somehow end up drunk against my will.

That hasn’t happened, obviously. Shortly after I decided to stop attending, I came across a blog in a panicked Google search called “Leaving AA and Staying Sober”. I sent an email to the man who wrote it, and he added me to a bunch of recovery debate groups. There, I found a bunch of people from all over the country and world who loved to debate and discuss all things recovery. I found other sober atheists (I thought you were all dead or drunk) who were still attending various 12 step programs. I found people who utilized and facilitated other recovery programs like SMART and Refuge Recovery. I found Harm Reduction activists. I found people who actively questioned what they were being told about addiction and recovery, and weren’t afraid to talk about it. I found my people, and they saved my sanity and my life all over again.

None of them know that today is any different than any other day for me. Most of them couldn’t even give you a general idea about how much time it’s been since I put booze in my face or drugs in my body. I couldn’t tell you the same about many of them. Partly because some of them have learned to use in moderation. Some of them don’t prioritize abstinence. Mostly because we just don’t care. Mostly because we don’t wield the amount of time it’s been since we have or haven’t used against each other as a measure of recovery.

The thing that brings us together is that, at some point, we all used various substances in a way that was harmful or life threatening, and we all have a passion for debating and discussing recovery from that in whatever form that takes. But, that’s far from the only thing we have in common, and our friendships aren’t contingent upon the fact that we agree about how we define recovery for ourselves.

What I’ve found over this last year is that there is no one way to do recovery that works for everyone. In fact, there are as many ways to “do recovery” as there are people. Unfortunately, 12 step recovery still has this particular market cornered, and saying that it doesn’t work for you (and especially that there may be other ways to do things) is often met with fierce hostility and accusations of “potentially killing addicts and alcoholics”. If I’m being honest, the fear of that kind of backlash and assaults on my character or recovery have kept me pretty silent about this issue this year, despite my passion for the new and ever-evolving beliefs that I cherish.

Yesterday I heard someone on a panel for atheist AA members say something that shook me to my core. He said that some in AA accuse him of a “lack of serenity” for being passionately outspoken about his beliefs and his atheism. His response was, “I’m willing to let go of a little bit of serenity as long as I know that what I’m doing is right.” Being honest about my recovery is the right thing for me to do. Especially if there’s anyone that might read this who’s feeling as lost as I was about a year ago. I’m always here. Feel free to send me a message. I don’t have all the answers, but I will always offer my support, honesty, and experience.

Thank you all for continuing this incredible journey with me.

#Election2016 or This Dumpster Fire Will Be Over Soon, But First Here’s Another Think Piece

I’ll never forget the first time I voted in a presidential election. It was in 2004, the first year I was able to. I was so proud that I left the voting booth with tears streaming down my face, truly believing that I had made a difference. That my vote mattered. That I was doing my duty in upholding democracy in the greatest country in the world.

I voted early on Wednesday. Suffice it to say, my feelings have changed. Feelings of pride and civic duty replaced by bitter disappointment and an overwhelming desire to just get it the fuck over with. At the last minute, I changed out of my Bernie shirt because it just felt too heavy on my body. So, I wore my “Vote For Pizza” shirt instead. Several of the poll workers chuckled and said they would vote for pizza if they could. Each time I forced a smile and offered some version of, “It appears to be the only sane option at this point!” Hesitant nervous laughter ensued. I wondered to myself  if they were allowed to banter about voting for pizza.

Several times while I was there, a poll worker would call for everyone’s attention and yell, “We’ve got a first time voter here!!!” Everyone would stop what they were doing and clap half-heartedly. I wondered whether they were as proud as I once was to finally be of legal age to exercise their right, or if they were so horrified by this election process that they felt moved to finally register to alleviate their feelings of helplessness. My deeply sentimental and hopelessly idealistic heart desperately hopes it’s the former. My exceedingly skeptical realist mind implores it to be the latter.

Growing up, I believed that if you didn’t exercise your right to vote, you were not entitled to an opinion. That first time voting, not only was I moved by the fulfillment of what I believed to be my civic duty, but by the persistent idea that my opinions were finally valid and worthy of consideration. If my candidate won, any good that came of their time in office was a reflection of that vote. If their opponent won, I could absolve myself of responsibility for their mess.

George W. Bush won that election. I did not vote for him. So, I spent the next 4 years rolling my eyes every time his smug face graced my television screen. I spent the next four years mocking his idiotic mispronunciations. I spent the next four years focusing on everything that was wrong with GW, and exactly zero time focusing on how I could make any meaningful changes. Because none of it was my fault. YOUR GUY got us into this mess. Don’t blame me. I didn’t vote for him.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Hope. Change. First Black President. “Progressivism”. So, I’ve spent the last 8 years feeling righteous af. I’ve spent the last 8 years grinning ear-to-ear every time his handsome, charming face scrolls across my newsfeed. I’ve spent the last 8 years basking in his charismatic coolness. I’ve spent the last 8 years not criticizing Obama at all, and just reveling in my complacency. Because I’m responsible for getting this badass into office. MY GUY is killin’ it. Things are good. Of course I voted for him!

If this election cycle has taught me anything, it’s that I was wrong. About all of it. Each and every candidate is worthy of criticism when it’s warranted. Each and every candidate is worthy of praise when it’s warranted. And here’s what I’ve found that, for myself, is the most important part: Each and every candidate is worthy of intense scrutiny REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT I SUPPORT THEM, DON’T SUPPORT THEM, PLAN TO VOTE FOR THEM, OR CHOOSE NOT TO VOTE AT ALL.

The truth is, as a white, mostly straight, able-bodied, cis woman with a decent job that allows me to support myself, my life is probably not going to change all that much no matter who is elected. I cannot say the same for the many POC, LGBTQ, Muslim, immigrant, disabled, and poverty-stricken folks throughout this country. Not to mention, you know, the rest of the world that most people would be seemingly happy to bomb into oblivion.

Our collective refusal to hold “our candidate” (whoever that may be) responsible for the ways that they fail in either their commitment to marginalized folks or their overtly bigoted rhetoric is truly shameful and appalling. No one single person is going to align entirely with all of our views. That doesn’t mean that once we decide to support a candidate for whatever reason, we have to stop listening to valid criticism about that candidate and defend them at all costs, especially from those who stand to be gravely affected by their policies, silence, or inciteful hate speech.

And, for me, that certainly has meant checking my privilege, and refusing to shame other progressives with valid criticism about the lack of representation or acknowledgement of their personhood by the status quo into “voting the lesser of two evils”. That has meant refusing to shame anyone who doesn’t vote. That has meant refusing to shame people who choose to vote for a third party. That has meant taking responsibility for my complacency and tribalism over the last 12 years, and admitting to myself and to others that I had a part in this mess as well. Most importantly, that has meant making a commitment to myself to working diligently for causes and candidates that I can confidently stand behind, and also hold accountable when they undoubtedly fuck up.

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. I still #FeelTheBern hard. I hated his reluctance to take a firm stance on gun control.

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election. There are a number of things I can’t stand about her, from her commitment to White Feminism at the expense of WOC, to her reputation for hawkish foreign policy instincts, to her relative silence on things like #NoDAPL and corporate pandering. Not to mention the fact that I believe that Bill Clinton is a rapist, and the fact that she, progressives, and feminists alike refuse to hold him to the same standards they do when other women come forward and speak out against powerful men is truly shocking. “I believe women” shouldn’t be limited to “I believe women when they’re not accusing my husband” or “I believe women when they’re not accusing the husband of the candidate I love.” With that said, I’ll spend the next four years holding Hillary Clinton accountable for the progressive promises she HAS made, and spending my time, money and energy on candidates that more closely align with my views. Also, I give exactly ZERO FUCKS about those emails.

I think it goes without saying how I feel about Donald Trump, but I’ll go ahead and say it again anyway. He’s an overtly racist, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic, Islamophobic, ableist, classist, white supremacist who was caught on tape admitting to sexual assault, and has also been accused of it by numerous women. I believe them. He is dangerously unfit for office, and a national embarrassment. There are genuinely no policy positions I can praise because they’re either completely absurd by literally every measurable standard, he’s changed his position so many times I have no idea where he actually stands, or he simply doesn’t have one. I could literally fill a book with all of the things I loathe about him. But, we all know all the shitty things, whether or not we choose to believe they’re important (Hint: they are).

At the end of the day, if Trump were to win, despite all of the fear mongering among progressives and Democrats that (whether you like it or not) maintains and upholds the current garbage status quo, the only people directly responsible for him being elected will be the people who actually mark that box next to his name. But, today, I’m also taking responsibility, and making a commitment to do everything I’m able to ensure we’re never in a mess like this again.

I have only one goal today.

Today I will press the “publish” button, and I will make this post public even if this is the only sentence I am able or willing to write. Sentence number two. Good start. Currently, in the “drafts” section of this blog, I have 5 saved half-finished ramblings. This is in addition to the overwhelming number of notes I’ve jotted down, entire posts I’ve written and deleted, and the ever-growing list of writing topi12bd7af6edfc40e0681862be2c2152e5cs that are camping out in my head, taking up valuable space I could be utilizing for other things. Like music. Or dating. Or finding the will to put on pants.

In order to clear up that head space, I know I have to get those thoughts on a page. I have to share them and talk about them and read them and re-read them, and most importantly, I need to connect with and find more people who also have them. That acknowledgement is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. It’s relatively easy to share other people’s words and say that I agree with whatever liberal, rage-inducing, topic du jour they are brave enough to share with the world. There’s a profound sense of comfort in that solidarity. We share an opinion. Go ahead and challenge it. When they’re your words, though, that “share” button becomes symbolic of every vulnerability, insecurity, and nagging sense of doubt you’ve ever had. It’s riding stoically into battle and hoping your fellow soldiers will show up, while trying to remain confident that you can survive even if they don’t.

The topics that I feel compelled to write about are ones that, without any further explanation, often provoke a visceral, defensive, sometimes even violent reaction. Intersectional feminism, anti-racism, reproductive rights, privilege, rape and rape culture, polyamory and dating, sex and body positivism, child-free by choice, leaving 12 step addiction recovery, mental illness, and a wide range of other issues that are often perceived as “victimhood” by those who vilify the PC/trigger warning/safe space culture that they somehow feel personally and seemingly endlessly assaulted by. In online spaces, what this means is that those who dare broach these subjects are often met with swift and punishing push back. Rape and death threats. Suspended social media accounts. Endless harassment. I have already experienced these things on a lesser scale without publishing a single blog post. It is emotionally exhausting and intimidating. But, I seem to have reached a point that my drive to escape the isolation of my own mind is taking over, and I’m ready to put it all out there.

So, today, I take my first solo ride. From the time I learned to read and write, people have told me I have a way with words. Articulate. Well-spoken. Intelligent. My sister says I missed my calling as a lawyer. I have never had any trouble articulating my position on an issue in writing. Occasionally, I’m even able to convince someone who disagrees with me that my point is worth considering. I don’t say this to gloat. I say this because there are people who are like me, the ones who can make their thoughts and ideas sound real purty-like, who have saved my life many times over simply because they were willing to endure judgement and ridicule to get their words to me.  Sometimes I desperately sought them, and now I want my words to be patiently waiting out in the internet void for someone to find them, and however briefly, remind them that they are not entirely alone in the universe.

That’s Why I Can’t Not Say Things anymore…and you don’t have to fucking like it.