Why do you pretend to be something you are not is the question that echoed out within my head as I laid there in the cold. It was clear that they had discovered that I wasn’t truly who I was and all the things I did were just luck. And just as luck fades so did my great feats of intelligence. They faded out leaving me blank and in a haze of panic.
Continue reading The Imposter
By Stacey Lehrer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.
The summer I visited Unique in a rural Appalachian town was the first time I went to see her on my own. There were some indications that the agency wasn’t the best or safest, but Unique said that things were okay. Later that summer I started having trouble getting in touch with her – every time I called, the staff would tell me she wasn’t there. I eventually found out that she was in the hospital, her first psych hospitalization in years. It was the beginning of a very different phase of her life. The next few years were a constant cycle of hospitalizations. She was chronically suicidal, desperate to find a way to end the pain she was feeling. I got really good at tracking her down, and at getting the staff in various psych units to let me talk to her even though I never had the magic “code number” at the start of each new stay. She was in one rural psych unit often enough that the staff recognized my voice and didn’t even ask for the code number anymore. She started saying things that didn’t quite make sense, talking about the agency administrators bugging her phone and stealing her belongings and stalking her. The agency was shut down not long after, so it’s not too far-fetched that there was some sketchiness happening and her brain was trying to find a way to make sense of it.
Continue reading Unique, Volume 2
By Stacey Lehrer
Unique always used to talk about writing a book about her life. She worked on it off and on for years, often telling me about a chapter she was working on or what part she planned to write about next. It’s been years since she had a working computer; I don’t know what happened to her writing. But I do know that she wanted people to hear her story. I can’t speak to what happened in Unique’s life in the time before I knew her, although I’ve heard enough about it that I feel like I have a pretty good idea. But I can tell her story as it connects with mine, in the 14 years since we met. I’m leaving out some of the more intensely personal details, to respect her privacy, but hoping to share her story (and, in part, our story) as she wished.
Continue reading Unique, Volume 1
By Kitt O’Malley
EDITOR’S NOTE: I think we all hate Facebook messenger at this point.
Email and direct messages, especially Facebook direct messages, intrude. I do not feel safe in the secretive world of chat. I need witnesses – others protecting my back. I prefer communication public – on my Facebook timeline or as comments to my blog posts.
Continue reading DEAR READER: Boundaries, Intimacy, and Trust
by Darick Taylor
Looking back on 30 years, most of them spent in isolation, it often takes my breath away. Time flows in one direction, and I will never be able to recover what has been lost. Living in the microcosm of my mind. Reaching desperately for meaning. If I go outside they will see—in the tension of my face and the perpetual downturn of my eyes. They will know that I am ugly. They will see the poverty and ignorance. A sixth-grade dropout. Agoraphobic. Neglected and fallen through the cracks; raised in trauma.
Continue reading Outside