I’m Still Learning

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past couple of months. I temporarily lost myself in the wake of everything that was going wrong. I reset my mindset again and again and I found new truths and let go of old ones and found hope and lost it and found it again. What went right I didn’t hold on to and anxiety won out.

All of this helped me to see how powerful anxiety can be. It also helped me to see who I really was and what I wanted for myself. Helped me to finally see myself as Tiana the individual and ultimately see that it’s ok to want things for myself. To be selfish. To want to experience love.

To see for the first time the life I want to lead clearly. To see too that it is possible to get there. That there is nothing wrong with dreaming of it. But, to also realize that the only control I have is over myself and my actions and reactions.

I also learned that I can be a bit irrational at times. That fear can make me create situations in my head that are very unlikely to happen even if I believe it at that time. That sort of delusional state is what caused a lot of the problems I encountered in the recent past.

Since realizing this I’ve done my best to resolve the problems that I’ve been encountering. Inwardly and outwardly. One of the best things that has come from this was from a ted talk I found that talked about regret. I forget what it was called but, I saved a quote from it that I will always keep in mind, “If we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or loose them we should feel pain when things go wrong.”

Our regrets and our guilt are not our enemy. It is what tells us what we’ve done that was against who we really are and who we want to be and it teaches us lessons on how to be better as people. I made some majorly stupid decisions that hurt someone I love dearly. But, the regret and the hurt I feel from the aftermath have taught me something of who I am and who I want to be. I’m stubborn. When things go wrong I panic. I want things to work out with all parties involved and I get scared when things go awry to the point that I make things worse because I’m no longer reacting from a rational place. Then upon realizing my mistake I punish myself mentally because I think “how could I have said that? How could I have done that? I’ve ruined everything.”

Because, at the end of the day I’m not a person that gives up on people I care about. I’m the kind of person that stays. I’m the kind of person who will be there for someone even if I hadn’t heard from them for years. I’m not the girl that anxiety creates me to be. I’m not the girl that depression drives me to.

These past few months I had the lowest point in my mental health journey ever and I came out of it. I faced myself and realized that yes I’ve made some bad decisions and yes I’ve caused unnecessary pain, but I’m still learning. I learned the lesson I was meant to learn and I take pride in the fact that I will never make the mistake I made again.

I learned from the pain what it was to really love and not just love another person, but to love myself. Because, even through it all I have myself to keep me stepping forward through every experience life has in store for me.

The weird thing is that while writing this I feel so hopeful. I feel excited about what life has in store for me. I feel for the first time that I’ve truly seen my deepest flaws and accepted them. Accepted myself even though that’s not what this post is about. I’m stubborn and anxious and emotional and impulsive, but all those things come from a place of wanting to be a good person of wanting happiness for myself and those around me and sometimes that means taking an approach that is wrong, but stemming from good intentions and really maybe I’m not so bad after all.

Maybe it’s not that I need to truly change to be the person I wish to be, but to let go of all the negativity towards myself. All that beating myself up. All that misguided self-hatred for feeling like I’m some sort of menace towards the people closest to me. It’s more like I’ve been a temperamental child that took too much on her shoulders and released all the hurt in any way she could trying to keep myself sane and keep everything going right instead of reacting calmly when things went wrong. For the first time, I feel that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. That there never has been. That all the pain I let build inside all that guilt is unfounded. I’ve suffered enough. I don’t need to continue hurting myself mentally anymore.

I know this post has gone a little off the rails and it’s very existential, but I’ve just had one of the most important realizations of my life. I feel free in a totally new way. I feel like myself in a wholly new way. I feel like I can move forward in my life in the best way possible and take on anything that comes my way because I see who I am wholly and I don’t hate myself anymore, because I did.. I did for a long time, but I can see myself for who I am totally and I can see that I’m just trying to do my best with the cards I’ve been given. Yes, I’ve reacted badly, but I know why I had those freak outs and panic attacks and at the center of it all it was from thinking I could do it all on my own and make things better, but that was not in my control. I see myself now and how badly I want to start over and to just live well and love the people I love and not take life for granted. That I deserve to start over. That I deserve to give myself another chance at dancing through life and going with the flow instead of trying to keep everyone happy. To let myself want. To let myself hit a brand new reset button and fully live life authentically as me and know that no matter what it will be beautiful because I won’t be fighting internally anymore. To finally have forgiven myself for everything. To accept myself with all the pain, anxiety, sadness, and all the good, happiness, and hope and see that I truly love myself. To realize that no matter how hard I’ve tried I’ve never truly loved myself like I do in this moment. To know that I’m going to love myself in this way for the rest of my life. To know that I’m going to be my best self from today onward and I’m going to grow so much and love so much deeper from finally accepting myself and loving myself truly from now on.

Thanks for reading! I’ve been on a very huge rollercoaster of a emotional journey recently and I’ve shared it with all of you in the hopes that maybe something I’m going through can help some of you in some way. This post was cathartic and unexpectedly wonderful for me to write. I feel that this was what had been holding me back from living the life I wanted for myself for so long. To know that I’m over it now means that there are infinite possibilities ahead. I’m excited to see where life takes me going forward.

-Till next time!

I’m not Ready for 2019

As many of you know, 2018 was a year that will be remembered as when my life set on fire. I don’t really have words for the odd twists and turns this year took for me. For how lost I’ve felt I’ve become. The mistakes I made just wishing that I could accept a little piece of happiness in my life.

However, life tumbles on and I’m not ready to tackle next year. I have so many fears. Many of them about my dad. Many of them about the same finical situation I’ve had since the year began. Many of them due to feeling stuck to wake up to the same thing to go to the same job I don’t like and never going out and experiencing little things that give me a sense of enjoyment. I’m afraid of 2019.

I’m afraid of 2019 being the same as 2018 and I’m afraid more so that it will be worse. All this fear in me makes it hard for me to do the things I want to do. It makes it hard for me to write. Makes it hard for me to read. Makes it hard for me to have a feeling of hope. Makes it hard for me to dare to dream.

But the thing about all this is, I have the cards I’ve been felt and they are not going to go away. They aren’t going to change. I’ve lost what I’ve lost. What’s around the corner is coming for me weather I like it or not. I can’t hide from it.

So in 2019, much like every other year, I’m going to try to get a semblance of normal. I’m going to try and heal from 2018’s wounds. I’m going to write like the world is at its end if I don’t. I’m going to do all that I’m going to not close myself off to others. I’m going to let my heart remain open. Open to friendships, open to my family, and open to love. To what may or may not happen.

I can’t stop time from moving on. I can’t stop what’s around the corner for me. But I can try to lessen my fear. I can try to heal. I can try to move forward. Who knows maybe 2019 will be a great year? All of it is yet unwritten.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Using Crisis Chat for the First Time

Yesterday, my mental health plummeted. I wasn’t and have never been suicidal so at least I’m still ok in that way, but I was in so much emotional pain that I felt like throwing up and I could barely eat. The only reason I didn’t throw up was because I hate that more then anything and I will avoid it at all costs. Hence the very minimal eating.

My dad is doing very poorly. Currently, my family and I are on our way to emergency and yesterday once I got off work (I don’t know how I managed to work in the mental state I was in) we went to urgent care and then got his chest X-rayed. However, on top of the already mounting health issues my dad now can barely see. Plus, the way he is talking.. it’s been really hard for me to cope.

Last night, and these past few days I’ve just desperately needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling about the craziness that has become my life. To be open about how lost I feel. How broken I feel I’ve become. How that doesn’t feel allowed for me due to my responsibilities. To talk about how I’m pretty sure I’ve already lost my relationship with someone who made me feel happier everyday.

Everything piled up all at once and I don’t quite know how to handle it. Yesterday I watched YouTube video after YouTube video trying desperately to find any happiness I could. To laugh so I would forget where I was and so I wouldn’t cry. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. All I know is that I need some healing mentally, but I know things seem to only be getting worse and I know that true healing is far away.

Right now, I wanted to talk a little about my conversation. Somehow, I was lucky enough to talk to a counselor who was also a writer! I didn’t find that out till the end, but it was still really cool to talk to someone who also wrote novels, but did something like volunteer to talk to people like me who are under a lot of stress and emotional turmoil.

One thing I noticed was how nice it was to be able to talk to someone who I could tell everything that was going on to. Honestly, I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to, but I didn’t really need to. It just felt good to tell someone what was going on and know that they would listen. I’ve increasingly come to the acknowledgement that I need therapy. There is just too much weight on my shoulders and I don’t want to ever be a burden on anyone. Right now, I feel like a burden. That I’m just going through so much that I’m not only emotionally drained, but that I could potential emotionally drain other people.

My situation feels very unfair, but it is what it is and I have to live this life that I’ve been given. I want to be able to make the most of it, but yesterday I was barely functioning. My mom responds to my tendency toward apathy with a cut it out sort of mentality. Which in a way, kind of works-ish. I have too much riding on my existence in terms of my family’s needs from me to have the ability to completely crumble. Yesterday, I didn’t want to go to work at all. I was having a break down and yet I worked anyway, because it’s not my choice, but I don’t have many choices to make. If it was my choice I would have gone to an actual councilor then and there.

The reason I’m writing all this is because mental health is important to me. Sharing the experience of it is important to me. Being able to connect with others who have struggled and continue to struggle everyday is important to me. To be open in saying I’m struggling and hurting to show it’s normal. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Getting help when you need it is nothing to be ashamed of.

So please, if your ever struggling, please use a hotline or crisis chat.

Here is the link to the crisis chat.

If you need immediate help please call a crisis hotline. Here is a link to different numbers if need be.

Thank you for reading! Thank you all for being with me on my life’s journey. For caring. Many of you know my life has been up and down and crazy recently. I hope that this helps someone. I will continue to write posts like this one as time goes on. Helping someone with my story is all I hope for. Leave your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

A Disappearing Act

Without a word

Without a reply

Without ever knowing why

You’ve

D

I

S

A

P

P

E

A

R

E

D

Into the void.

Left me with empty promises

Left me without a trace

Left me on my own with this poison

I’m now lost in a battle of confusion

Will I ever have this explained to me?

I’m hurting cause’ I thought you would

Have told me if you wanted to walk away

With the magic that you came with you

Sprinkled yourself with some of that dust

And whisked yourself safely into darkness

Yet how can I feel pain when I want to believe

We’ll be ok?

The hope is so much worse then the knowing

You didn’t break it to me easy

You gave me nothing at all

I’m grasping at the straws of sweet memory

Yet even through the hurt

Yet even knowing your gone

I hope that you are doing ok

Your voice is gone

Your music is gone

Yet I don’t have your touch to remember

Are you just another person that’s truly left me

Or is there something that I’m missing?

I don’t have a choice

I may never know

What happened to this love

That now has only bones

My heart still warms thinking of you

But I still know I’m left out in the deep blue

Nothing

Congratulations

You succeeded

My heart is whole and torn to pieces

I don’t know why I still have hope

You’ll never see the mess you made by not properly letting go

But if you hadn’t why’d you disappear so completely..

left me in the dark on what your feeling

Only time will tell me if you’d truly gone

You gave me no choice to decide if you were ever a hazard at all

Are you waiting behind that curtain call?

To hear a standing ovation, the thousands to applaud?

I guess I’ll be here dancing on my own

Waiting for arms that may never come to hold me close

Because you vanished without saying goodbye

Or see you later

So I swallow the first as a pill

believe in the possibility of the second

But I feel I may never know the answer

Thanks for reading! This poem is very personal and it’s filled with everything I’m feeling right now. I hope at least you all can take something from it. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

What Halloween Means to Me

Halloween is a time where children especially enjoy dressing up and getting ready to go grab themselves as much candy as they can. However.. as simple as that is. There is something more to Halloween then that. Especially to me.

Halloween is a time where everything that you are or want to be can come out to play. It’s where your fears come to the forefront and everything that makes your gut twist takes center stage. It makes your darkest fantasies come to mind and play out in front of you in the shadows. That monster under your bed feels very real during this one month.. or day for those of you who don’t engage in halloween festivities in the month leading up to it.

It’s a time when me and my sister feel the closest. We both love Halloween equally as much. It’s our lifeblood. All year we watch horror movies in the house. Yet, this one month we make it a point to watch as many as we can together. Way back when my tiptoe into horror was watching paranormal investigation with my sister. Then slowly I let myself sit down and watch.. really watch.. horror movies. As time went on I learned something about my fear and now I don’t feel it. Not like before. I crave horror movies now. I adore watching people play scary games (especially with a story). I have a blast listening to halloween music. Halloween is something that really brings out my happiness.

You know what else is cool about Halloween? Because anyone can be anything it is a time where EVERYONE is accepted. Anyone can dress up. Anyone can be who they want to be. It’s all in good fun. We acknowledge that we are all human beings living afraid on Halloween. We embrace our fears. Raise a glass to them. Thank them for keeping us alive. From keeping us living from doing something too stupid. Hoping that we aren’t touched by what fears us, but knowing we will be during this time, because that’s the point.

During this one time of the year I embrace the dark. I consider it even. What makes it real. What makes us afraid of it. Then I realize humans are the real monsters and in my mind I take a dance with my own fearful imaginings. Who, but us, celebrates all that is death, decay, bloody, and awful for a whole month? Not any creatures that I can name. It’s just us. Yet, it’s glorious.. because illusion and beauty and pain and fantasy all come out to play. We pay to experience horror and be fooled by people just like us scaring in suits and behind masks. We are good at it too both actor and participant. Because the actor becomes what we fear something otherworldly and dark. Yet we decide for just a little while to suspend our disbelief and wonder.. what if our nightmares came to life?

That is what Halloween means to me. It Letting go and setting your demons free. Embracing your humanity. Embracing the one thing that binds us all.. death.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

My Dad: An Update

So yesterday was an overall great day. I started my Halloween playlist. Went to work, at the end blasted out Disney songs and sang along with my coworker. I even danced a bit (which I do at home more often now, but at work I try not to).

However, how good the day was, was a miracle. Before work my sister told me that through a recent blood test that my dad indeed has cancer. Even if I already suspected. Already pretty much knew. It devastated me.

My dad is 70 years old. His health hasn’t been good for a long while now and I’m afraid that because of how long everything has taken to diagnose that.. it might be too late. I hope that it isn’t, but honestly I know that the whole thing is entirely out of my hands. All I can do is pray. All I can do is try to enjoy the moments I have right now.

My dad doesn’t know yet. He won’t know until probably the next visit. I don’t think it’s going to go well. I wish this wasn’t what was happening right now.

And I can’t stop moving forward. I can’t stop working. If he passed.. I couldn’t stop working. I’m stuck. I hate thinking about these things, but I can’t ignore them. I don’t have much of a choice.

So for now, I’m just taking things one day at a time. Like I always have. It’s truly all I can do. If you can keep my family in your prayers.. or if you don’t believe send well-wishes.. thoughts.. anything really.

Recently, I’ve been really really lucky. I’ve had a lot of good people come into my life. I found the love of my life. I feel more mentally stable then I ever have. In the wake of one of the most difficult times ever I am doing ok. The road ahead is going to be really really difficult, but I am so grateful that I have such a wonderful community there for me through it all.

Thanks for reading! I wish this could have been good news. I really do. The only way to go is forward.

-Till next time!

Let’s Rant: Our Bodies, Not Yours

I got up this morning. Read some blog posts. Ate some waffles. Felt pretty generally happy. Then.. then I went on Twitter and I saw this tweet from Annie-Marie McLemore. An author whose books I’ve desperately wanted to read for ages now and her tweet made my skin grow cold.

Her words.. that’s a reality for almost every girl out there. You talk to any girl and they have stories like this. Even me.

But, what really made me upset was not only her age, but the audacity of the teacher to tell her “Well what did you do to make him do that?” That made my blood boil. It’s an absolutely disgusting mentality to have. She was a child.. and your giving her that mentality that it’s her fault that a guy got the idea in his head to lay claim on her body. That it was ok. It makes me want to scream.

Victim shaming is the single most awful thing I have ever seen. Because sometimes.. sometimes the victim does start to believe it was their fault. When it isn’t. The answer to that awful question is always nothing. No girl ever asks to be touched like that. The only time that any sexual activity is ok is when there is mutual consent. That’s it. No touchy.. feely.. nothing unless it’s what both parties want. I don’t care if a girl decides that she wants to wear the shortest mini-skirt and just a bra to go out.. it does not give a guy permission to feel her up.

The whole “what did you do?” Mentality just gives men a free pass to do whatever the hell they want and not get punished for it. That shit is just that complete and utter bull shit and everyone needs to cut the crap. As much as the “what did you do” mentality suggests that men are animals… they are not. They have brains. They can have self-control. They are not controlled solely by the thing in their pants. They can keep their hands to themselves and show some respect. It’s all a stupid game. It’s this mentality that so many people wear as armor so that they can fool people into thinking that it wasn’t their fault. That they couldn’t help themselves. That they couldn’t register the girl saying no. That somehow the actions that they took with their own hands wasn’t their fault.

I thought I was done with the personal posts for a while, but as it turns out I’m just getting started.

I didn’t think I’d ever share this on here, but I’m fed up and these stories need to be shared.

I have a few stories actually.

The first wasn’t that long ago. Several months ago their was a boy that I worked with. We used to talk about music and whatever else and I saw him as a friend. He was one of those people who liked to give hugs and at first I didn’t think much of it. However, I started to notice that he’d give these side hugs where his arm would go around my chest and then one night I was bagging up food to go into the display and he was leaving and he thought it was a good idea to hug me from behind placing his hands by where my ovaries are. I immediately felt this rush of panic and anger. It didn’t matter that it was quick. It didn’t matter that we’d talked and were sort of friends. Touching me like that.. so intimately.. I was livid. Before he left I yelled at him, “That was the most uncomfortable hug I’ve ever had… don’t ever ever do that again I said… don’t ever think of doing that to any girl ever.. It’s not ok… I don’t know how you could have thought that that was ok.”

He had the sense to back off.. he apologized profusely, but I had my personal space violated. A hug like that is one I want from my boyfriend and from my boyfriend only. It’s a kind of hug that signifies trust and love and intimacy. None of which I had with that guy at my work.. not even close. It wasn’t just me though. He hugged the other girl we both worked with the same way. It’s not ok.

The other.. much longer.. story is this:

In high school there was a boy I was nice to. He wasn’t liked by very many people and when we would pass in the hallway I thought it was a grand idea to be nice and say hi. I would chat with him and treat him like a person and I didn’t realize that it would make him think I wanted anything other then friendship and I was wrong. During summer of sophomore year I took pre-cal at a university so that I could be ahead and take more advanced classes at school. Apparently, this was the same university where this guys sister was taking classes. One day, he showed up hours before pick up and found me where I was eating lunch. I didn’t think much of it at the time since it was simply a surprise to me and I didn’t have anything against him. I had thought of him as a friend. So when he asked me for my number I gave it to him. Except.. every single day after that he’d show up early hours before pick up trying to catch me on my break. So instead of confronting him like I should have I stayed in class to eat lunch. When he called asking to hang out I told him that my mom wouldn’t like it (I should have just told him I didn’t want to). For the next several weeks of an intensive pre-cal class I would eat inside.. run the fastest route to where my mom would wait for me in her car and I blocked the guys number. To this day I don’t understand how he didn’t get the hint. When we were at school again he’d ask me to give him a hug and I’d brush him off and go in a different direction. In truth.. the whole thing terrified me. I lived my life in school finding ways to always be absent from wherever he was. The thing is I was at work yesterday and I saw that very same guy pass by and it filled me with the same dread as I had in school. The thing is.. a lot of people weren’t nice to him, because everyone could tell that he was mentally off. But being me.. knowing what it felt like not to have any friends it was always important to be nice. I didn’t expect for it to end up getting me a stalker. To this day I get all in my head and even though I know I could defend myself if I absolutely had to.. it’s the wonder of not knowing what someone is capable of. I’m not in the business of underestimating someone because I could physically take them on… or because they look harmless.. in this world of knifes and guns and awful situations I can’t help but feel afraid sometimes. I hate that this guy can make me feel that way. That just one look at his face filled me with dread. It’s not even a violation of the sexual kind, but a violation on my ability to live my life freely.. of not feeling like I have to be afraid. Of wondering if someone’s going to do something.. of having spent a lot of time being scarce so that none of those things had even a remote chance of happening.

Then there are the smaller stories.. guys asking me if I wanted a bite of the food they just bought at my work (that’s happened several times and it’s the weirdest thing ever). A guy who called me babe out of no where also while I was serving him food at work. I hate being called babe or baby anyway (my grandmother used to call me by them). Being called babe within a minute of someone looking at you feels so degrading. The guy that saw me walking to work and decided to walk next to me and complemented my eyes and when I finally was inside the safety of my work he stood there for a few seconds staring at me and said that he just wanted to stare at my eyes for a while. All this.. it makes me feel like I can’t be seen as a person. That all a guy can see is my face, my eyes, and take any smile as an invitation. It isn’t.

Sometimes I get it. Two people have to meet somehow, but there are boundaries. A lot of the time those boundaries are crossed. It’s why it’s so important to me that I’m liked as a person first before anything more. That I’m respected. That if I say no I’m respected. That I can trust the person I choose to love. That I feel safe with them. There have been far too many times where others have made me feel the opposite.

One of the most powerful words I’ve heard someone say went something like this “most of the women I know have stories like these.. most of the men I know are good men.. but for every time a pass is made in a dining room 5 of the women in that same room could raise their hand and say me too.” The men that end up thinking that they can touch a women as much as they want tend to be repeat offenders. Most men are good men, but for the ones that take things many steps too far they hurt more the just one women. They touch multiple lives. Taint multiple lives. That’s a big part of why that tweet made me so upset. That boy who touched Annie.. how many more girls would he grow up to touch? What would he escalate to? Especially when he was taught at such a young age that he wouldn’t be punished for it.

Our bodies are our own. They are not meant for anyone, but ourselves. To be shared only with whom we choose to share it with. Our bodies are not meant to be claimed like that’s all we are good for. What we choose to do with our bodies is our choice and our choice alone. To have that taken away from us is a violation of basic human rights.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts down in the comments… I meant to put together my Most Anticipated post today, but this came about instead. I’m kinda glad though. It’s an important subject to me. I think we all should be able to speak up about these things.

-Till next time!

Shake

Let me take all of your inhibitions and shake them around till they chip into fine dust and blend with your fears, your happiness, your memories, and get lost till you can’t find them anymore. Let me absolve you of the pain, the guilt, the tension, the worry. The stuff I want to reach inside and and tear away. The stuff that makes you think your undeserving of love. Let me shake you up and when you don’t know what’s up or down I’d stop and I’d turn you and you’d see the man that I’d see because finally the puzzle would fit and you’d be whole.. not because of me, but because of you. The chains you’d tied into every bit of proof that you were worth nothing.. chained into rocks on the floor.. chained to the walls of your house, chained to the center of the earth.. I will cut away.. cut and cut and heat and pry away until you were free. I wouldn’t let you sleep afraid.. I wouldn’t let you sleep angry, upset, or lonely. Should your eyes close and the guilt eat up and try to hold you in your nightmares I’d wake you gently. A gentle shake for you to remember where you were. Let me jump and dance my feet over the things that fill you with fear till there is nothing left because the gravity and the vibration and the weight of me destroying the weight of your searching thoughts. Let me shake you. Let me shake you.

Thanks for reading! It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a piece of poetry with all of you. All this time I’ve been writing it everyday and yet it took me till now to share one. I used to try and share one once a week. I missed it. I hope you all enjoyed this and I would love to hear your thoughts!

-Till next time!

The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler : A Review 

The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 

Published: April 4th, 2017

Received: I received an e-arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase:  Book Depository

Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”
I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.
From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.
All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.
To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

Trigger warning for sexual abuse*

Musings: 

No book has ever made me physically sick before, but this one, this one did the trick. The horrors that Cyndy had to endure. The grossness of straight the inhumanity of it makes it little better then a concentration camp. I kept trying to disassociate myself from what I was reading in my mind. I tried to keep myself thinking that it was fiction when my mind was continuously screaming at me it’s real, it’s real, it’s real. This book is hard to read. This book is heartbreaking. Yet it captivates you with every single word. 

Cyndy is a hero in my mind. I have to commend her for the strength she showed by writing about something so personal and so tragic. Cyndy will change lives with this book and I know it because in so many ways The Dead Inside has changed mine. I never knew that Straight Inc. was an actual place. That the Just Say No campaign and so many of other movements against drugs in some way created something so sinister. The Dead Inside is the perfect title because that’s what Straigtlings are hollow and dead versions of their former selves. This book has made me want to act out and spread awareness. To find out more about Straight and its sister programs so that I could in turn get others to become aware and fight against this injustice. 

The sort of brainwashing and “treatment” Straightlings received were inhuman. The fact that it made many Straightlings feel like it was the only safe place when they were living in a hell on earth is absurd and it completely angered me. 

However, Straight itself was not the part that hit me the hardest. What hit me most was Cyndy’s years before Straight. Where her stepfather was an evil that destroyed my heart and her mother did nothing to stop any of it. Sexual abuse is something that breaks my heart the most because it the one thing that can break down a human to the point of true emptiness. 

The Dead Inside is a heartfelt survival story of a normal girl forced into horrific circumstances. It will break your heart over and over only to be healed by the knowing that Cyndy made it through because otherwise this story would have never been written at all. 

Thanks for reading! I’m sorry that this got really depressing towards the end. I loved this book and I feel honored to have been able to have read it. I hope you all get to read it someday soon! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

-Till next time!

Can’t Breathe: National Poetry Month


A constriction of air in my head 

A pressure beyond I can contest

An anxiety building out of control

A feeling that is full of undeniable fear 
I pace and rage 

What can I do 

How can I fix

This terrible feel
It burns and hurts restricting my chest 

A fish in water yet can’t breathe none the less

Helplessness and intensity stabs at me 

Ohh how I wish my airways wouldn’t fail me 
Let me breathe 

Clear the path

Calm the storm 

That’s a wrap
Thanks for reading!!! I honestly feel like this way too often. I hope you enjoyed this short poem. 

-Till next time!