A Lesson On Christlike Love and Bullying in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints





I have never spoken in great detail about this, but I feel it’s a story worth telling and learning from. Growing up in this church has been hard for me.I love the gospel and I believe it with all my heart, but since the day I moved here when I was five years old and made friends with this little boy who everyone judged and hated and mistreated I was too. It felt like a slap in the face for my entire childhood and adolescence until even now. Other kids excluded us, talked bad about us, made us feel worthless and unimportant, and made sure that we knew that we were nothing to them.

On Forgiving Yourself: Leaving Past Mistakes in the Past




I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. Especially this past Sunday morning when I was having a nice conversation with my mom who at a lull in the dialogue sighed in frustration and said “ugh that tattoo. It's all people see. I know it. I want it removed!”

What's Written On Your Body and What's Written On Your Heart




Tattoos! I've always thought they were so cool! The idea of being able to display something important to you on your body in a beautiful and creative way intrigues me. Unfortunately, my religion regards tattoos as sinful, and because I have grown up and decided that it is the religion I want to follow, I do my best to obey this rule.

On Simultaneously Accepting and Improving Ourselves


My spirit animal is that one girl in Mean Girls who stands up when they’re all confessing at the microphone and says, “I just want us all to get along and be friends” and starts weeping. And then someone shouts “you don’t even go here” and Tina Fey looks over and says “you don’t go to this school?” And then the girl says, “No I just have a lot of feelings” and starts crying harder.

Suicide Prevention: I Am With You. We Are With You.




“Communicate. That’s the biggest and best first thing you can ever do. Whether it be with a teacher, sibling, friend, parent or even a counselor. Being able to communicate is the first step to your life getting better. It doesn’t have to be even talking; it can be a letter or email or text…let people know what’s going on in your life, your thoughts and emotions.

Quick Remedies For a Heavy Soul




Sometimes it’s hard to find your way out of the hole you’re in, but that’s why today I’ve put together a list of the things that I do to remedy a heavy soul. So, if you or anyone you know needs a pick-me-up today try a few of the things on this list and you might just find something that helps!

Where The Hope Is





It doesn’t have to be in religion, it can be in humanity, it can be in forgiveness, it can be in science or love or anything you want it to be. There is hope to be found in everything, you just have to choose to see it.

The Chains I Choose



(A slave to the succor of silent tears)

 (my bones ache in the way only heavy-laden heroes's do -)

On Being Both Soft-Hearted and Strong



It's okay to be soft. You can be strong in different ways, the ways that truly count. You don't have to be hardened and stoic. There is a difference between being strong and being callous.

An Open Letter to Ex-Cutters: It's Okay to Miss Cutting



Self-injury. It scares people. At least in my experience, it does. Cutting is a scary thing. It probably even scares you yourself, but you still feel that you need to do it.

Chemicals


A stand-alone piece dedicated to a dear friend.



Wildfire


Something about the Wildness of the blaze

ignited a ferocity in my very spirit,

Creation


Somewhere far off there is a roaring crash,

the sound of mighty celestial beasts destroying one another;

Poetry of the Flesh



I put my pen to stark white paper
Spelling love with crimson ink

I Wear Words


I wear words like a new coat of paint

On my wall of regret and infinite blame,

Made To Love





It is now, in the windy summer haze, that I find myself falling for him. On the cusp, barely breaching adulthood it occurs to me that a boy who never faced adversity as nice as he might have seemed is incomparable to the man who stands before me now.

Underage Tattoos




I made a dumb decision when I was fourteen years old. I've made plenty more since then, don't get me wrong, but I mean god this one was one of the dumbest of the dumb: I got a tattoo. A little one on my ankle that even today I really do like. Needless to say, it didn't go over very well with my family. Deciding not to wait until I was an adult has now cost me years of criticism and has been the ammo in my family's metaphorical guns ever since then. Now, let's delve into the details, shall we?

I was fourteen years old, struggling with massive amounts of anxiety and depression, not thinking clearly at all, hurting myself, hurting others, and because of all that, sometimes I was, what one would call, a bitch. That wasn't how I liked being perceived and it wasn't the way I wanted to act but I just couldn't get myself together at the time. I was the black sheep. I didn't look like everyone else or act like everyone else or agree with everyone else's opinions. And it was then that with my mind in a state of constant duress, I decided to get a tattoo. Based on my actions leading up to this point it was clear that my mind wasn't focused on the consequences of my actions, it was focused solely on the present moment and what I selfishly wanted to do in that moment. I know now that healthy living requires a happy medium, or general balance, between the two, however, I digress. After getting this tattoo (which is a black ink semicolon located on my inner right ankle) I felt pretty awesome. It had a meaning to me, it was simple but elegant, and I was satisfied.

Now that the events surrounding the tattooing incident have been explained a little bit, I'd like to fast forward to when my parents discovered it was an actual tattoo and not just a sharpie drawing I had been repeatedly sketching onto my leg. They were livid. There were tears and screaming and endless looks of disappointment and shame. But I was the black sheep. Or at least, I thought I was. Looking back on this I can understand my parents point of view, confused and angry and upset at me for acting out because they didn't understand why I was doing the things that I was and unfortunately, it's unlikely that they ever will.

Religiously, my parents raised us in a faith that has labeled tattoos as disfigurement of our bodies and mistreatment of them. I do not hold any arguments against this, and I understand that viewpoint even today. I have not gotten any more since that time and do not plan to do so again in my life, not because of the judgments of others but because of the understanding that I gained as I grew. I don't want any more of them because of the faith that I have made the choice to live by, not because of pressure from family, friends and strangers alike.

At this point in my life, I have come so far from where I used to be, though I still have a long ways to go. I am proud of the person that I am, but I still have to figure out how to move forward when the past is permanently visible for all to see. I have to learn how to accept my mistake and continue instead of letting mistaken judgments shake me. I have to learn how to be unwavering even when everyone around me is not. It's hard being the black sheep. Though that title means something different to me now than it did before.

I don't want my younger siblings to look at the tattoo and aspire to be like that - one of them has already stated this to be the case - I want to be looked up to as I am now. Strong and sure, capable of hard things, hard working and kind, and most of all I hope, good. I do not feel right about having the tattoo removed or hidden. It's a symbol to me of constantly working to become better, while still being satisfied with who you are. It's a reminder to me of everything that once was, and everything I know now. I am facing pressure on all sides to have it removed or covered up but I refuse to refute my gut feeling.

Finally, I want to make it known that I am not endorsing underage tattoos, nor am I claiming that I regret having it done. I'm a huge believer that everything happens for a reason and that everything I have done and everything that has happened to me has made me into exactly who I am supposed to be, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

-Much Love,
Marie.

Dealing With Alcohol and Drug Addictions




In life, there are right ways and wrong ways to deal with problems. For example, when dealing with a mugger, throwing bacon at them is considered a "wrong" way. So here I’ve got some of the right ways for dealing with Alcohol and Drug Addictions.
In my teenage years, one of my best friends' older sister, Sara, struggled very badly with a cocaine addiction, in addition to being an alcoholic. Her life was like a soap opera because of it, leading her to marry a drug-addicted and abusive man and be unable to take care of her young children. There were many times when my friend found herself entrusted by a sober Sara to hide the cocaine from her in the future. Needless to say, my adolescence was full of examples of ways that drug and alcohol addictions were mishandled, and I'd like to share a few of those ways with you now, as well as the solutions that would have been the better way to handle them.
1. Bailing them out of trouble
When we were young, my friend's parents consistently babied Sara about the addiction, and because they had money they were endlessly bailing Sara out when she got herself into trouble. If you find yourself or someone else perpetually bailing out a loved one with an addiction, this is not a productive way to deal with the issue. You don't have to allow them to fall into a pit of despair or become criminals or anything, but you do need to get them to understand that their actions have consequences and that they need professional help with their addictions.
2. Making them feel embarrassed or ashamed
Sara was often ridiculed and some of her brothers and sisters really tore into her about her addiction and made her feel extremely embarrassed and unwanted. One of the worst things you can do for someone with an alcohol or drug addiction is make them feel worthless, embarrassed, ashamed and unwanted. Those feelings are often what caused the person to make the initial jump into taking drugs and alcohol and making them believe they were right to have those feelings only shoves them deeper into the rut, and contrary to the opinion of some, does not "embarrass them into snapping out of their addiction." Instead, the best course of action is to uplift and love them - do not condone their actions or addictions, but let them know that you are there and are willing to do whatever it takes to help them through their hard times.
3. Not being afraid to get authorities involved if the situation becomes emergent
Sara's addiction led her down some difficult paths in her adolescence and young adulthood. She eventually married a man who beat and abused her, was an addict himself, and it became painfully clear that neither she nor her husband could take care of the three young children that they had together. At this point in Sara's life, her loved ones should have contacted professionals including the police or at least Child Protective Services. Because her family did not contact anyone, they allowed both Sara and her children to continue to suffer abuse and severe neglect much longer than they should have had to. The situation should have been handled by the family not being too afraid to call authority figures or professionals into action when they knew something was so wrong.
To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact me. Thanks.

Grief Is Not Something That Happens To You, Tragedy Is.


Recently while flipping through the world wide web I discovered something that didn't sit correctly with me. The online dictionary's word of the day: grieving. It told me that the definition of grieving is "to suffer grief." Now, this is interesting to me because I've always thought of grief like any other emotion (i.e anger, sadness, fear) and it's not typically thought of as something you suffer from but as something you feel. Grief is not like the flu, or a cold, nor is it like cancer or amnesia or schizophrenia. Grief is not a condition, it is an emotion. In the same way that it is unhealthy to bottle up sadness and anger, it is unhealthy to bottle up grief, lest it morph into something much more sinister.

In my experience grief manifests itself in countless different ways. Personally, I have found that it often comes and goes in waves just as anger and sorrow and joy do, though some I know have shut down until they feel they can process the shock, others have cried briefly and then carried on with daily life. Others have refused to confront it until years after the fact, and still others dwell on it for such a prolonged period of time that they lose themselves in a spiral of perpetually worsening depression.

Grief is the heaviness associated with the absence of something or someone important to you who has moved on, passed away or been lost. Therefore, grieving is allowing yourself to feel that emotion; not the other way around. It is the process by which humans - who have been rattled by devastation - begin to heal again. Whether it be on a global scale like the loss of Prince or Johnny Cash, a national one like the September 11th tragedy or a personal one like the loss of a parent or a friend, grief is an emotion; grieving is an act. Grief is not something that happens to you, tragedy is. And while tragedy is painful and debilitating, it is not an end all be all.

While wounds that are fresh may be difficult to talk about, oftentimes the act of recounting the experience and working through the pain with a friend or even professional makes all the difference. However, if you feel comfortable enough with yourself and are willing to work through the tragedy on your own through healthy coping mechanisms this is a valuable life skill that enhances your ability to effectively grieve later. For example, last year when a fellow athlete of mine died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart issue in the middle of a meet, my shock and devastation led me to a long process of learning to grieve effectively and to cope with that loss in my life. I recognize now that that moment in my life was a defining one, and it taught me the importance of reaching out to others for support in the wake of a tragedy.

However, allowing one's feelings to unravel you like a stray thread sticking out of a sweater or sock is not the proper way to grieve. We've established that everyone grieves differently, and while this is accurate and the way people deal with tragedy should be respected, if your grief grows out of hand and causes you to lash out at others or yourself, begin to hurt yourself or others, or interferes with your ability to continue to function and live then you should consider reaching out for grief counseling or therapy and finding someone with whom you can speak about your suffering.

If you or anyone you know is feeling grief so extreme that you are unable to live your life normally and/or function I urge you to contact counseling services or contact me, or if the situation is emergent to call the helpline at 1-800-273-8255 (talk).

Top Seven Things I Personally Do To Stave Off Depression





I've found myself in the depths of depression more than once before, and I've started this blog as a way for people to connect with both myself and each other and to find friends and refuge from those who do not understand what it's like. In this post, I've compiled a list of the top six things that have helped me during these times. So, without further ado, let's dive in!

Support Systems: For those suffering from any kind of depression or mental illness, a support system is a necessary part of managing and coping with that illness. I know that it's difficult or perhaps even seems impossible, but everyone needs people in their life that they can count on and allowing your depression to convince you to isolate yourself is a recipe for disaster.

Exercise: Exercise is a great and scientifically proven way to get the endorphins flowing. Start small at first, take a walk around the block or down to the street corner. Maybe find an exercise partner and do some light jogging or go to the gym.

Go Outside: One weekend I was at home gardening with my mom, when she put down her trowel and started digging with her bare hands commenting, "I heard that having skin contact with the dirt while your working or gardening for a few minutes is a natural antidepressant." I thought she was crazy at first, but after following her lead and doing some research on studies about it afterward I'm convinced. You don't have to stick your hands in the dirt if you don't want to though. A strange as it sounds, the simple act of going outside and getting natural light and air has proven to have a powerful impact on our mental and emotional well-being.

Find an Activity that Forces You to Fully Engage, then Do that Activity: I've found that reading or playing a musical instrument works very well. I'm a bit of a nerd, but as I learned in high school, doing some physics has always helped me to engage my whole mind in one thing and it has worked wonders in helping me to focus and to forget about my mental illness for a while.

Do Yoga and/or Meditate: A friend of mine works at a behavioral hospital in Houston as a yoga and meditation instructor for mental illness and has offered some free lessons outside of work which I have attended and been very impressed with. As a person who has struggled with anxiety and depression since my early teens, I found it very helpful for remaining calm and focused.

Make a List of Everything You are Grateful For: I know you're probably thinking, "Marie, I can't just be happy on a whim like that, you know that's not how depression works!" But just hear me out. I'm not telling you to be happy, I'm just telling you to name a few people, places or things that you are glad exist and I promise that simply having those things in your mind takes a bit of the edge off of mental illness.

See a Professional and Discuss Your Concerns With Them: Seeing a therapist and having a guided conversation about your emotions and concerns is valuable and I would recommend it to anyone who feels strangled by the weight of their mental illness. For some people, a combination of medication and therapy is the best choice, for others just therapy and for still others, there are more options out there. Probably the most important thing to remember about this is that you should not let anyone else's opinion make you decide what is and is not right for you. My whole life my mom hated the fact that I was on medication and she disliked my decision to continue to stay on it, however, I knew what it was like with the medication and what it was like without it and I knew my own body well enough to choose the treatment that was right for me regardless of what she thought about it.


Thanks for reading, and for more tips and information, or to talk more about this, or anything else, please contact me. Thanks.

X Marks The Spot


My cable knit sweater sleeves mask my history,
My body a map of places I've been and will be.
My mind a haven where wild things go,
My heart an uproarious sea.
My hips, a siren-like call to flee
before the x-marks-the-spot is seen.
My lips, a lingering warning to all
That there is no treasure in me.

Sunshower


It is a rare and beautiful thing

    When our two worlds meet,

If only but for a moment

   Their colors blending at my feet.

Today I Am A Sparrow


Today, I am a broken-winged sparrow,

Barreling at breakneck speed

Toward no discernible target.

Catapulted off course by a snag in my side,

Unable to breathe for even a moment

I am aching against the aerodynamics,

Destroying my already injured wing

And rapidly unraveling my perfect flight.

I am choked where most birds would sing

I am aching

Because I should have control,

And I do not.

Today I Am A Coil

Today, I am a tightly wound coil,

Insecurity clenched in my crippling grip.

Any minute now,

I am poised to snap,

And the pain to which I am tightly bound,


Will find its release through the cracks in my rapidly rupturing armor,

No longer attacking just the beating heart within my own chest,

But also preying on the people that glow most within my darkness,

And I fail to articulate my desire to find a means to an end.

And all I can do is watch,

As my internal flame flashes,

And hope to god I'm remembered

As more than embers and ashes.