Rape, Trauma, Money: The Economics of my Mental Illness

www.bettysbattleground.com-I will not be silenced anymore.

How surviving rape and developing PTSD has kept me poor-bettysbattleground.com

Even if I don’t exactly remember the day, my mother has told the story enough times to imprint what looks like a memory into my mind. We’re at my elementary school playground. It’s a mild, overcast day, because it’s Seattle, and yet everything seems to glow, as if drenched in sunlight, because it’s a memory of my childhood. I am seven…no: eight years old. My hair is still blonde, my eyes a grey-blue that will turn hazel brown within a year or two. In my story-memory, I am wearing a frilly white dress; pleated skirt, pink and yellow tulips stitched across my chest. In reality, I was probably wearing something more like pink sweat pants and a green sweatshirt with some kind of smiling cartoonish animal printed across it.

I run over to my mom from the playground, cheeks ruddy from play, eyes glittering. I have something to tell her, something important. I wait a moment, pause to catch my breath, then lean toward her, voice low and conspiratorial, and confess, “Mom, I think I’m going to be famous.”

Kids are notorious wild fantasizers. Hearing a child declare her future fame is not uncommon or particularly noteworthy, but when I said it, I really meant it. I believed in my future fame. It wasn’t completely unfounded. I had my first poem published when I was eight, in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Reviewa magazine to which established poets aspire for publication. I made my first $100 off writing that same year, and for several years I was the chronic first place winner at the Mercer Island Books youth poetry contest. I’m not telling you all this just to brag. I’m telling you this because I was not born a failure. I had every reason to believe that I would grow to be, if not actually famous, a successful writer. Or at the very least, not poor.

My mother, who once loved to recollect the story of my self-predicted fame, has stopped telling it. Last week, I missed therapy because I had to go to the Department of Human and Health Services to apply for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Otherwise known as Food Stamps. I hold two writing degrees, and still receive compliments and offers for publication, but I am also unemployed, my credit is an abyss I will never crawl out of in this lifetime, and I struggle to maintain tenancy in a roach-infested rundown apartment owned by Seattle’s most notorious slumlord.

Why? Why does someone who once held so much promise, whose claims to future fame were believed not only by herself but everyone else too, who could incite middle school kids to forgo recess to rehearse in the plays she had written; why is she living chronically poor on the brink of homelessness?

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Fiction Fridays: The Little Girl And The Copier

Fiction Fridays on www.bettysbattleground.com

It’s #FictionFridays number 6, hooray!

As promised last week, I am not going to write a rambling prelude today.
Anyway, this story*is* new..I stayed up way too late last night writing it so be sure to check out this fresh-hot-draft!

I appreciate all the support that I have received since launching Betty’s Battleground last January. Truly, it has been incredible, and meaningful, and helpful.

Fiction is my baby. It’s the thing I loved before I loved any lover. It’s the dream I had before my abuse. Writing these posts is my way of making one day about something I chose for myself, instead of about the choices my abuser made for me.  Because of that, it is really important to me to have the comments focus on the fiction..either the winning story from last week’s prompt contest, my story, or something about the prompt itself. This is why I ask that if you leave a comment on Friday post, please make it related to fiction. That is the best way to be supportive, on FF posts :). If you truly have nothing to say about those things but feel compelled to say something, then please share the post somewhere that will help it be seen by potential contest entrants, and then leave me a comment letting me know where that was!

If you want to comment on one of the stories, but don’t know to give feedback, the “compliment sandwich” is a great guideline. This is how you do it:

-Give a compliment about the story. I like to go specific here and leave a comment about an aspect I liked, ie: “your dialogue is very realistic and convincing.” Try to avoid things like “it was good” or “I liked it.”

-Now, dole out your criticism. Criticism is helpful, but be respectful. A great way to ensure your criticism is helpful rather than rude is to avoid judgmental language (no “that sucked”) and to provide a way to correct the problem, ie “I was a little jarred by the flow of the narration. Try changing up the sentence structure. It may help to read it aloud to yourself.” If you truly have no corrective suggestions, then at least try to be as specific about your critique as possible, so that the writer can gain something from your feedback.

-Last step! Give another compliment. It can be about whatever you genuinely liked,but, again, try to avoid general statements like “Good story” or “I like your writing.” Those are great ego boosts, but they aren’t ultimately very helpful. I like to go more general here and say something like “I loved how varied your vocabulary is; you have a great command of language,” but that’s just a personal choice. The basic structure of this is “compliment, critique, compliment.”

Super easy! Personally, I have been writing for a long time so the “compliment sandwich” suggestion is mostly to help you feel comfortable providing feedback. If you’d rather give me a litany of helpful critique, that’s fine too. Keyword: helpful. I will still get annoyed if you just say my story was boring or something and give no corrective suggestions.

Finally, Here’s the Fiction Fridays 5 winning story and author!

Fiction Fridays 6 winner on bettysbattleground.com

 

Awesome Blossom loves to read, write, and code. Visit their blog at blossawe.blogspot.com.

Look At The World With Eyes Of Wonder

He woke up grumpily at the sound of the alarm and got ready to work. When he was making breakfast, his 3 year old kid came running to him and hugged him-or specifically his leg with all fours. That hug jolted him and he dropped some sauce on his shirt. “Great, now I have to change my shirt” he thought to himself and got his leg out of his kid’s grip with great effort. He got the kid ready which was a great feat in itself- getting the kid out of his clothes, washing him while he relentlessly moved everywhere in the tub, drying him, getting him into clothes and grooming him. He first fed the kid and then stuffed himself with some breakfast. He was already running late and he still had to drop his kid at day care. “It’s hard being a single parent” he thought. He walked his kid to daycare which was 2 blocks away from his home. All through the way, the kid kept jumping around and pointed his tiny fingers in every direction his brain got attracted to. The man only saw the road, traffic and his watch just kept ticking away. Finally, they were at daycare. He dropped his kid and was about to go, when the kid demonstrated his hugging skills again with even more energy. That breakfast was working well for the kid. Suddenly something clicked in his heart, he probably remember his childhood- when he was free, when he looked at everything with wonder. He was having a black and white day, but the kid saw his favorite person, had fun in bath tub, enjoyed every bit of his breakfast and discovered several things on the way to his daycare. The kid was living every moment, absorbing everything he saw and listened to. The man realized that however routine our life can turn into, one should always look at the world with the eyes of wonder. He hugged his kid back heartily, lifted him up and kissed him. He went to office smiling and spread his infectious smile.

The End

Aaaand here is my story. Don’t forget to look for this week’s prompt and contest instructions at the bottom of the page so that YOU can be featured next week!

Fiction Fridays 6 on bettysbattleground.com
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