Highs and Lows: My journey with self-doubt, anxiety, and assault

Happiness.

What does it mean to you? Is it a specific feeling? A destination? A goal? We all strive for this abstract concept of “being happy.” But what does it even mean?

To me, happiness is about learning to float with the ebb and flow of life’s tides. It is not about the absence of negative experiences or feelings, but rather the acceptance that good does not exist without bad and that every part of our lives is part of the grander scheme of who we are and where we fit into this universe.

Don’t get me wrong: I know as well as the next person that this is much easier said than done, and I struggle every single day in adopting this mindset and lifestyle, but this is the story of why I continue to believe that everything happens for a reason.

I went into my freshman year of college feeling invincible, like I could conquer the world. I was excited for the next four years and to see what magical experiences awaited. I had this idea that college was going to be the best years of my life.

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Dee in Rye, NH

Although I have experienced my fair share of magic, I was completely unaware of the ways in which these next few years were going to tear me down. As I was putting up pictures and decorations to make my dorm room a new place to call home, I was unaware of the depths that life was about to drag me to.

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Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope

The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl by Joyce Hayden


The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl

By: Joyce Hayden


I. Flying Away/Blueberry Lane

At the new babysitter’s house, up past Jane drive, past the hospital-green water tower, in the new section of houses, it will happen. Your two year old brother will tumble out of the car, while you brush your mother’s cigarette ash off your red church dress. A coldness will rush at you once the woman opens her front door. Stand on the stone doorway alone waving at your parents, until the silver Buick disappears. When the woman barks: GET IN HERE AND SHUT THAT DOOR, cross the threshold from light to dark, from known to unknown. Place your hand over the knot in your stomach. Calm your fears that something bad will happen. Remind yourself you’re seven years old. You can take care of yourself. Don’t blink if you can help it. Notice every detail from now until 10 tonight.

When the woman places Michael in a room down the hall and points her finger to the back yard swings, say No. OUT NOW, she will bellow. Tell her you’re staying inside with Michael. Walk backwards toward the room he’s in; don’t let her see you shaking. When you’re in the room, watch cartoons. Let your guard down when he falls asleep. Awaken to a door clicking into place.

Scan the room for your brother. When you try to stand, a heavy hand will push you back. When you open your mouth to speak, that hand will squeeze your jaw. Wonder why your skin is crawling like ants all over you when his other hand works its way under your red dress. “Where’s Michael Where’s Michael Where’s Michael” will reverberate in panicked waves through your brain. It will happen as the big boy’s hand moves up your thigh, then higher. Your throat knotted, the blur of no words will send you outside the body, the way fluffy seeds of milkweed burst their pods, and rise.

Creative Pieces dear hope

Poetry: “Her” by Alessandra Ortiz

Her

**WARNING: Do not read if you are sensitive to or triggered by abusive relationships of any kind including domestic abuse, emotional abuse, or rape. This is purely a fictitious poem hoping to create more awareness regarding physical abuse.**

Her hands shook softly

I noticed that much

And that her innocent heart was just too good to touch.

I remember that night

Very well indeed

She had one too many drinks

And that heart started to bleed.

I carried her weight

From the couch to the bed

Curiously wondering what words went unsaid

Contemplating if I should sleep in her bed

So I crawled up next to her

Hoping I hadn’t misred.

There she laid

Thoughtless and dazed

Her body black

With white lines across her face.

My hands shook softly

But I wasn’t afraid

So I leaned in slowly

And kissed that beautiful babe.

Her curves were sexy

Luring me in too deep

She suddenly spoke out,

“Stop, I need some sleep.”

But it was too late now

And I wasn’t even sorry

This kind of thing was supposed to happen at these parties.

She laid there, still

Tears streaming from her eyes

As I finished in ecstasy

Her purity was now mine.

All thanks to a little dose of red wine

Tequila shots, Vodka, Manhattans and lime.

She staggered to the shower

Stripped of all her clothes and pride

When she turned around and whispered,

“I wished to be a virgin bride.”

But it was too late now

And we weren’t even sorry

Because there was nothing she could do

She had to face reality.

Creative Pieces dear hope