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A Chain of Broken Links - My Life in scattered fragments (beware the swears)

CrackDown29

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Wow Collie! There's so much there! It's so different to my experience I'm not sure I understand it all. My mother left my abusive and occasionally very violent father when 6 month's pregnant with me and I've grown up with just her and me, then a boy's school, boarding from year 7. Consequently I've had to learn to be OK being alone and to be very self-reliant. It would be so wonderful to have supportive siblings! The complexities of your relationships with your parents is beyond me; not that I need to understand any of the detail - just that you're a survivor. Well done!

And your friend so seriously attacked for wearing a mask! That level of lunacy is astounding. It worries me.

Hugs,
-Kenna
Aw, thanks for the supportive words. ANd I can't imagine being alone for so long. Even though I've been in a lot of isolating situations, it's taken a very long time for me to start being okay with long periods of time by myself, so respect to developing self-reliance early on.

Regarding the complexities with my parents, there's a term called "enmeshment" I think, which means when parents/adults pull younger people into scenraios/responsibilities that are really out of their age range. In abusive situations, the minor latches onto it because it gives them a sense of attention/worth. My dad did that for sure with us kids, especially the girls, and especially poor Maya.... I think in some smaller, more insidious ways mom did too.

The anti-mask attack is just insane! Thank god or whatever higher power she's going to pull through and won't need speech therapy or anything from the jaw fracture. The biggest delay is she can't be on a respirator because theyre all reserved for covid patients, so breathing through the injured lung is a little painful. But it looks like she'll pull through...
 

CrackDown29

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Collie, I read with my mouth open for all you have been through. Like Kenna says you are a survivor. My father was an abuser, mainly to my older siblings, but it affected me also. My family was split when I was thirteen, my older siblings being many states away. It left me with an empty feeling, a very sad and lost feeling. Your circumstances were far worse. I guess it became for me, coming to grips with, what was, will never be that way again. It forced me to build my life in another direction. You will build your life from here also. My hope is that you choose positive directions to go in. So many copy the mistake of the people they see in their past. You, are the painter at the canvas of the rest of your life, make your plans and create something of beauty.
"for all you have been through" *cringes in the realization that what I've posted has just been the tip of the iceberg and stuff I barely remember and that the real trauma drama starts in the next couple year segments* AHem, thanks for that 🤣

For real though, thanks. Your words are encouraging. Sorry for your family's split, that must have been really rough. I was lucky enough to have my older siblings for a little while longer, we were never all broken up into foster care or scattered among relatives.

"Coming to grips with what was, will never be that way again" this is something I wish my parents had learned, and accepted. Instead they used us kids as awns in the endless war between them. Simple acts of parent/child time turned into weaponized actss against the other parent to taunt them. For over 10 years my dad's mission was for us to "get the family back together" that was our main prayer request in life, we were not allowed to have any other goals. I wish they had the maturity you had at 13 to learn when something has ended.
 

CrackDown29

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Seven years old. We all had gotten into a scathing argument with mom. I don't remember what about, probably something about why we couldn't see Dad, (and Diane* for that matter, but that's its own can of worms...). Tessie was in the office room, screaming and pounding her fist against the wall. I went up to her and tried to console her, asked her not to pound her fist, but she was too upset to listen. She was also nearly nine years older, that too.

When I knew she wouldn't listen, I went into my bedroom and closed the door. I started shouting and slamming my fist into my wall.

Five minutes tops, Tessie was in there, telling me that I needed to calm down and that things would be okay but this wasn't the way to handle it.

"But you were doing the same thing," I said.
"Well, I'm asking you not to do it, it's not good," she replied.

I smiled slowly, apparently letting her words of comfort sink in.
Plot twist: I wasn't having a breakdown at all. I just knew that me acting really upset would get her to come in and tell me to stop. I was proud of myself for thinking up a tactic that would stop her breakdown.

Looking back, I'm a little surprised that I was thinking that up at seven. But maybe most kids think that far ahead, I wouldn't put it past them. How many seven-year-olds fake tantrums in an attempt to distract their 15/16-year-old sibling from grief, though... I guess there isn't enough data in that study group...

But that event taught me that getting what you want out of/for people often means not acting the way you yourself would normally act.

I guess I haven't really unlearned that lesson.
 

Monica

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I wasn't having a breakdown at all. I just knew that me acting really upset would get her to come in and tell me to stop. I was proud of myself for thinking up a tactic that would stop her breakdown.

Looking back, I'm a little surprised that I was thinking that up at seven. But maybe most kids think that far ahead, I wouldn't put it past them. How many seven-year-olds fake tantrums in an attempt to distract their 15/16-year-old sibling from grief, though... I guess there isn't enough data in that study group...

But that event taught me that getting what you want out of/for people often means not acting the way you yourself would normally act.

I guess I haven't really unlearned that lesson.
Collie, it is clear to me that you are very intelligent. I wish though that someone so young would never have to deal with such situations.
I think to survive in situations like this, you must learn how to handle people to survive. I guess my question would be this. When you aren't in survival mode anymore, will it be something you want to continue? Can you let yourself be genuine with others outside the family without the maneuvers you haven't 'unlearned?'
 

CrackDown29

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Collie, it is clear to me that you are very intelligent. I wish though that someone so young would never have to deal with such situations.
I think to survive in situations like this, you must learn how to handle people to survive. I guess my question would be this. When you aren't in survival mode anymore, will it be something you want to continue? Can you let yourself be genuine with others outside the family without the maneuvers you haven't 'unlearned?'
I'm a little confused by "something I want to continue?" Like if I want to keep using survival tactics?

It's hard for me to think of it as a matter of want because it's a relfex. Like @NicoleT has said before, my instinct when I meet someone is to constantly analyze their energy/expectations, etc. and then mirror it back to them as best I can. If that seems daunting to me then I tend to just make myself invisible~~ which I'm really good at. I've had my family leave a location (family or friend's houses, not really stores often) and not notice for several minutes that I wasn't there with them, because I would hide myself near enough to where they were leaving and just, be invisible and unnoticed. I've pulled it off in public places, right up to when the lockdown first happened in march.

I guess that's more answering the second question of can I let myself be genuine? Sometimes, but it takes a while and even with close friends, I find myself often switching into "caretaker mode" I love turning the conversation onto them because then they won't look at me too closely, or I won't be a burden to them, etc. That doesn't mean I can't talk your arm off once I start (like right now lmao) but it takes a really long time. And things that mean something to me, personally, in a positive way... it's extremely hard for me to be genuine about those.
 

Kenna

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Collie, your insight is amazing! I'm a mental health social worker and am familiar with the concept of enmeshment, but obviously only a tiny fragment of your situation. The more I hear from you the more optimistic I get about your long-term positive progress. Although that's not to say that it will be easy. You're amazing!
Hugs!
-Kenna
 

CrackDown29

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Sometimes, I'm scared my dysphoric feelings spawn from the misogynist attitudes that permeated my childhood. My dad was pretty awful. One anecdote from before I was born sums up his views pretty well.

He was talking with one of my older brothers (who was young at the time, younger than 16) in the kitchen, chopping up ground beef for dinner. In the midst of a conversation about women, dad commented, "well you know, underneath their pretty clothes and jewelry, they're just this."
And he slapped the meat on the cutting board.

I don't think anything else needs to be added to that, except when I was growing up he presented his sexism in more mental, so-called subtler ways. When I was a kid, he hated my mom, claiming my sister Maia would be a better mother... and wife. (some really fucked up implications there :sick:😖), and independent-willed women were the cause of the downfall of society, destroying families by taking children away from their fathers. Once they were away from their husbands, they were more pliable to be under the sway of "liberal men" and "the government."

When I was a little older, he shifted it. Women were the most beautiful creatures God made, more beautiful than angels. A humble, submissive, woman, he amended.

At the same time, when he was complaining once about women (prompted by the scent of strong perfume drifting in the apartment hallways), he remarked, "I'm grateful I don't have pretty daughters so no men will be seduced by them."

He said that. In front of his five daughters sitting on the couch.

Yeah, whatever power decided to give this man 12 children and 6 daughters was weak in the head.

This guy would literally go through movies, Disney princess movies, and cover up the "low collars" of the main characters, and cut out the G-rated first kiss between prince and princess, lest our eyes see such impure filth. I wish I was joking, but I'm not. He trained Maia in how to do it (weirdly though he always cut out language, didn't let the girls do that for a while, idk why), and every movie that we ever purchased or rented was meticulously scrutinized, cut up, and stitched together to ensure that not one single high skirt, low collar, or buxom figure was seen, covered instead by a floating, keyframed black box.

And on the subject of language, simple words like damn and hell were considered horrible swear words. Don't even bring up saying god or jesus, people who did that were evil. So any remote possibility of those was carefully incised out of every film we watched, too. If there were too many high skirts or cuss words in a movie, odds are Maia wouldn't buy it. I say Maia because any form of entertainment had to be screened through her, if it didn't get her approval, you couldn't buy it. This got really frustrating to me later on, when her preferences (she has a horrible sense of humor tbh) got tangled with her moral code, and her edits were law. She cut out all the snarky parts of a character in a movie, simply because she had read the book and the character wasn't like that, so it annoyed her.

Oh, and 9 out of 10 strong female leads were demonized by my dad and in turn my sister Maia, so a lot of those moments were either removed or put in a negative light. Nancy Drew was considered an annoying feminist. (I don't like nancy drew either but that's cuz the mysteries are lame and caricatured xD.)

To put it in perspective, I never watched any Marvel movies until I was over 18. They were considered, and I quote "probably a bunch of superhero filth movies." It makes me realize the amount of pop culture I've had to catch myself up on.

So there were a lot of misogynist attitudes around me growing up. Mom didn't help with that, because I've come to see more and more where she was abusive to me and my siblings as well. But I had a really close bond with the seven siblings I grew up with, and four of them were girls. I never thought they were less, and later on, I liked them much, much more than my dad. In the present, I don't feel like I have misogynistic attitudes. If anything I usually have more resentment and suspicion around men - for obvious reasons. I tend to let down my guard faster with women, which got me in a lot of trouble after I got away from my dad. (TLDR I probably wouldn't have been sexually harassed/assaulted by the renter if I didn't trust his wife so much).

I guess I'll have to see a specialist to figure out how much the misogynist fueled childhood is impacting the dysphoria symptoms. I feel there are more grounds to these feelings than that but I don't know for sure. But holy shit, my dad was a textbook narcissistic, misogynistic, sexist creep. Actually not textbook, I think he went above and beyond the source material.
 

Kenna

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I guess I'll have to see a specialist to figure out how much the misogynist fueled childhood is impacting the dysphoria symptoms. I feel there are more grounds to these feelings than that but I don't know for sure.
Hi Collie, As I was reading your post I was beginning think about ways of suggesting this without being offensive, but you've said it yourself! This clearly affirms my previous post about your exceptional insight and my confidence in your ability to eventually sort out the mess that growing up in that environment has created for you in understanding who you are, your identity (including gender) and ways of coping with it all. I think that it was Kim who gave the very sound advice; find a good therapist in whom you can have trust and who has the right skills to address what you're after. If you're seeing someone who is not "clicking" with you or has no more to offer, they shouldn't be offended if you politely let them know. A portion of all referrals a therapist gets don't work out and they may even be able to help direct you to somebody who could be more in tune with you.
Massive hugs!
-Kenna
 

OzGirl

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Collie, dysphoria comes directly from you brain's gender ID and shouldn't be influenced by your experiences with your father. It is highly recommended you talk to an experienced gender psychologist to work out issues not related to Gender ID.

Hugs,

Allie
 

Kenna

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Hi Collie, While I love Allie, we do differ in the emphasis we place on the what determines gender ID. Allie is very strong on the neurological determinants of gender, regardless of a person's assigned gender at birth. The research papers she can refer to seem to be very binary in relation to gender (which is an obvious initial approach to the research topic) but I've not studied them sufficiently closely nor discussed the issue of non-binary people with her nor read any research that might be available addressing gender spectrum from a neurological perspective.

I'm very happy to acknowledge a neurological influence in determining gender ID, but I don't dismiss other factors. I believe that experiences, especially while growing up may also play a role, but I also think that there's something more, something that I have trouble labeling. "Spiritual" isn't quite right word, but it's something fundamental to our being that is different to both neurological and experiential factors. I believe that all 3 play a role in determining where on the gender spectrum we lie.

In your comments you also seemed to acknowledge this. The trauma caused by your father and possibly also your mother, will undoubtedly have left a mark on you, which in the absence of other supports and your innate strength and capacity could easily have been profoundly disabling. Professional help in dealing with this will almost certainly help you to be happier and even more functional as you get older. I'll disagree with Allie and say that it might also have had an influence on your gender ID, but as you acknowledge there seems to be more, which I think could either be neurological and/or the other factor I have trouble labeling. (That's something I need work on some more!) In time your own opinions on the topic will develop and evolve, but it's not something to get too hung up on; we are who we are.

Ideally the one therapist should be able to deal with both the trauma and gender issues, but it's possible you may need separate people for each. As your journey continues you'll undoubtedly address this, and having completed most of puberty yet still being being quite young you've plenty of time.

Hugs!
-Kenna
 

OzGirl

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Kenna, I'm happy that you have your view, and the research published to date is very binary, but I know research into non binary is happening. We will have to wait to see the results, but I suspect there might be surprises in store! My support of the large body of research findings is because it is the only way I can explain what has happened to me. Suffice to say Gender ID has been found to be a medical condition, and the perceptions of this will have a psychological influence. I don't have an qualified opinion on this so I can only refer to the research papers, and I haven't read any research into a third aspect!

In any case we agree that the best action would be to find a good therapist to explore and hopefully resolve other issues, and concentrate on gender.

Hugs,

Allie
 

Katie

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Given the time period, it sounds like your father was influenced by the ideas of Bill Gothard and his contemporaries.
 

NicoleT

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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, your intelligence and self-awareness impresses me. I really do think you could make a fine therapist someday. Funny thing about most therapists, they have their own therapist. I do agree with both Allie and Kenna. Finding a good therapist would be very beneficial to you, not only in your quest to find your true self but also in dealing with the things you’ve seen in life.

Your summaries of your parents behaviors toward you and your other siblings are quite disturbing. That type of an influence could impair your psychological make up. No doubt you are a survivor. I’m very happy you’re sharing your story and that you’re here with us. Where ever this takes you, we are here to support you.

Hugs
Nicole
 

CrackDown29

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@Kenna @OzGirl Thank you both for the insight and suggestions. Most of me is convinced that there is at least something else going on as well. At the very least for the basic reason that my sister Emmy, who is away from my dad and experienced a lot of similar physical, mental and physiological attacks from my dad and other family members, is about as cishet as they come. We jokingly call her "straight as a board and twice as curvy," and she's as a supportive ally as I could wish for. My point is that she doesn't feel massive dysphoria, or any dysphoria really despite her upbringing in such a terrible environment. So clearly there is more at work here.

Then again, she doesn't have potential body dysmorphia nor has she resorted to self harm or aggressive suicidal ideation. Maybe I'm just more messed up than she is 🤷‍♀️
 

CrackDown29

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Given the time period, it sounds like your father was influenced by the ideas of Bill Gothard and his contemporaries.
That's entirely possible. Plus, my dad had his own levels of abuse growing up. Like, reaallyy fucked up. I'd almost say worse than my own upbringing except his dad was honest enough and said he hated him and didn't play mind games and shit. I think given the time he grew up in, when mental health issues were so stigmatized, he never had the courage or awareness to take the step and reach out for help.

He always ranted at us kids about how evil medical people were, especially those in the psychological department, because they wanted to "turn your brain to mush." Probably he had internalized attitude from when he was growing up.

Sometimes, I almost feel bad for him but then I remember how badly he's screwed us all over and continues to hold four of my siblings in a mental guilt trap, and then I get cold again. My general rule of thumb is I feel bad for someone who's been abused unless they actively pay it forward and abuse others into the present. Then my sympathy stops.
 

CrackDown29

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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, your intelligence and self-awareness impresses me. I really do think you could make a fine therapist someday. Funny thing about most therapists, they have their own therapist. I do agree with both Allie and Kenna. Finding a good therapist would be very beneficial to you, not only in your quest to find your true self but also in dealing with the things you’ve seen in life.

Your summaries of your parents behaviors toward you and your other siblings are quite disturbing. That type of an influence could impair your psychological make up. No doubt you are a survivor. I’m very happy you’re sharing your story and that you’re here with us. Where ever this takes you, we are here to support you.

Hugs
Nicole
Haha I'm pretty sure my psychological makeup is fucked over. I'm just good at presenting like I'm sane. Is that stealth I wonder? 😂

I do have a therapist I've been seeing for almost a year and a half now. I really like her, I'm just scared to tell her about my gender questioning. it's funny how much I repress without even realizing it. Even though I've been seeing her for months, just a couple weeks ago I casually referenced a traumatic person from a couple years ago, and she goes "wait, who is she?"

That person had inflicted on me one of the most (externally) terrifying mental abuse instances of my life. It was the first time I could recognize I was abused. And I had never even thought to mention it to my therapist. More likely I had assumed I already had. So yeah, high levels of repression still going on. (I will prob make a most about that incident separately in its own time lmao)
 

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There are people who experience horrible things, terrible abuse, and go on to do really amazing things. There are those who repeat to others what was done to them. I am not talking as someone who has been in that spot. I believe my father was probably bipolar, and things he did affected us kids. It is nowhere near what you are describing Collie. People on here and Zoom have commented on your intelligence and I agree with that. You are also sensitive and caring and you seem open to figuring things out. So many good signs from someone we haven't known very long, Collie! I have great hopes for you. I see you building your life in a way that will make you happy. Keep taking positive steps! Don't give into the negative you have seen from other people. A therapist I think is essential, especially when someone has faced abuse. They can help with dismissing the thoughts for the past that are untrue and hurtful. When you are ready, I hope you will include the info about your gender. It is something that can be intimidating to do, but if you have a therapist worth their salt, they will not judge you harshly. Plus, it is a part of who you are.
 

Kenna

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When you are ready, I hope you will include the info about your gender. It is something that can be intimidating to do, but if you have a therapist worth their salt, they will not judge you harshly. Plus, it is a part of who you are.
Hi Collie, I heartily endorse Moni's comment on this! No half-way competent therapist will have a problem with your gender issues. If they do have a problem I'd seriously question their professionalism. A good therapist may or may not be able to help you with those issues and if they can't it's highly likely that they'll help you find someone trustworthy to work with you on that. If you eventually get to the point of wanting gender related surgery you'll probably need to see an accredited specialist, or two, to meet the WPATH requirements, but working on your trauma issues is a much greater priority at this stage.
Hugs,
-Kenna
 
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CrackDown29

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So I've been reflecting this year (the first week of it anyways), and I realized something about 2020. When it ended, I felt this overwhelming shock and relief. Relief that it was over, obviously, but the shock of just how much had happened in that year.

I graduated high school, the first child to do so in 20 years out of a family of twelve.
I had convinced my older sister to leave dad's side of the family and their cultic ideals
I had changed jobs twice (one of them damaged my mental health so badly for the two weeks I had to quit)
I performed in two modest plays, winning second place comedic role in a 5 play competition.
I got my hair in a pixie cut, highlighted, and dyed for the first time in my life.
I survived increasing levels of sexual harassment and mild assault and got out of the situation before it escalated into rape
I started a youtube channel (one I have to work on this year!!!)
I got kicked out by my mom
I lost friends, family, my job, and my home


And of course the generic lived through a global pandemic in the same house with people who scoffed at its existence, watched as the BLM movement grew and struggled to navigate the triggering elements while trying to explain to household members the realities of racial injustice, and survived the mounting tension for the election of Joe Biden while living among rabid Trumpites. But that's stuff everybody on here has gone through in one manner or another.

My first thought of the new year was: "Holy shit, how did I even survive?"

I think that's a question we're all asking.
I don't think 2020 is done with us yet. There's still another 2 weeks before Biden's inauguration, and if reports are to be believed, Trumpites may have stormed the Capitol building and are rioting over the election of Senator Warnock, Georgia's first black senator. We'll see what the world looks like by February...


But I realized the biggest emotion I had carried with me throughout 2020...
...was guilt.

I had felt so much guilt over the situation in the world. The pandemic, the injustices, the riots, the killings, the unjust government we were dealing with; I felt responsible for them. Growing up, I had always been told that my prayers and sacrifices were integral to keeping the world in balance. If I ever left, then the quota of prayers and sufferings offered to God would be lacking, and destruction would fall upon the world. I was actively initiated into this before I was twelve years old, and had been following that script for years now.

So when I had left my dad's family less than a year before, and had left Catholicism barely 3 months before, as well as having convinced my sister to leave my dad at that same time, I had subconsciously taken a manner of responsibility for the shitshow 2020 was.

I felt guilty that I hadn't been there to bleed away the virus with fastings and hours-long prayer sessions. I felt guilty that I hadn't been able to blast away the presidential tensions with the white light of energies. And I felt guilty that I was white when all these people of color were being hurt just for who they were. I felt that my sufferings didn't matter, I didn't deserve love and attention, simply because I was white and therefore POCs deserved more attention. I felt that, no matter what I did, nothing would be good enough, nothing could ever fix the fact that I was white and had indelible privileges from that.

I felt guilty that I had to leave my little brother in the middle of a Sunday afternoon with little explanation while our renter screamed at us through the door. I struggled with guilt that I had put my foot down on staying away from the predatory renter (society really does condition us to feel responsible for men's problems...) I felt guilty that my productivity spiraled into nothingness for the last quarter of the year, spending hours staring blankly at my computer screen, playing videogames or laying restlessly in bed. I felt guilty that I had lost my job and couldn't get one due to the hilariously complicated affairs of my life.

And I felt guilty that I was struggling with suicide, self-harm, and questions regarding my gender identity.

Coming to the New Year, I realized just how much I had survived. I had lived through that crushing weight of guilt, uncertainty, pain and overall chaos, and I had survived. Sometimes, I think I might even be a little less depressed, or at least more self-aware.

However small, I have made steps. I have made connections. I need to focus, not on how badly I need to update my channel output, but on the fact that I took the step and started a fucking channel.

I have met people, even if I struggle to keep in touch with them. I have fallen in love online and learned when to leave that love and to recognize it as short term. Even if I feel more battered and broken than ever, I have gotten stronger in some way.

Sometimes seeing the finish line drains you of all energy. I had the nastiest depressive episode yesterday and wanted to end it all. I'm moving into my apartment, the next chapter of my life, in less than ten days. I think I'm terrified of it a little bit. I'm not ready to be in a space where I'm in control. At least I'm not used to it. All I'm used to seeing are the responsibilities of being in charge, not the autonomy and liberty that comes with it.

I will post pictures of the new place when I move in.

I've made it to fucking 20 years old. My first suicide plan being before my 15th birthday, I never dreamed I would make it out of teenagehood. My next goal is to 23 because when I was 18 I told a friend I couldn't see myself alive in five years.

For once, I need to prove myself wrong.


(Jesus that went all over the place! if you made it to here, thanks for reading and know you're fucking gorgeous, okay?)
 

Kenna

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Wow Collie, there' so much there! What stands out to me is your strong feelings of guilt, which I can understand, but can equally clearly see that it's not deserved. I think I can see between the lines that there is also a feeling of well-justified pride. Please celebrate it! It clearly is deserved!

I'm looking forward to continuing to follow your journey.

Hugs!
-Kenna
 
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