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Happy New Year! I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions for a few reasons. It’s primarily because I never stick to them, so I feel like I’m starting the year by setting myself up for failure. I’ll make 4,827 resolutions, which is at least 27 too many, and I get overwhelmed and nothing changes. Sometimes, my resolutions are things that just keep me sick, like resolving to lose weight.

However, I am making some pretty big changes in my life, changes that happen to coincide with this arbitrary measurement of time we call the New Year. This morning (the day before my 21st birthday), I was discharged from a three-night stay in a psychiatric hospital. A few weeks ago, someone I trusted hurt me in a very personal way, and I have not been okay since then. The whole ordeal of contacting the necessary authorities and professionals in the aftermath of the incident was equally stressful, and I do not function well under stress. Within a week, I found myself purging again, and I became very afraid of food. Eating has become a nearly insurmountable task, made tolerable only when I use neurotic food rituals, and I often find myself obsessing about how I’m going to avoid getting caught purging the small amounts of food I do manage to eat.

Even though I had gotten rid of all my razor blades, I was still self-harming. I dismantled household items with which to cut myself, and when that didn’t numb the emotional pain enough, I resorted to banging my head into walls.

I spoke less, smiled less, hardly ever laughed, and carried Ora Nechema, my doll, around

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Ora Nechema is a handmade ball-jointed doll. My best friend’s mom made her for me. Since this photo was taken, she went to the doll hospital (AKA my friend’s mom’s kitchen table) for a makeover and has beautiful, curly red hair now. Ora Nechema is Hebrew for light and comfort. She typically comes everywhere with me (except work because I don’t want her to get broken), and I do get strange looks walking around a college campus with a doll in my hand, but she is very comforting, and I tell her all the nice things I need to hear but can’t yet say to myself. 

with me everywhere because she reminded me that there is something childlike and in need of protection in me, and I am worth the same care with which I handle a handmade porcelain doll. (She comes to AA with me, and she’s quite popular.)

I became more and more depressed until I decided I might as well just go ahead and kill myself. I was scared to feel this way, so I talked to my parents, and we all decided it would be best for me to be in a safe place, so they took me to the hospital.

The hospital has its ups and downs. I’ve been there enough times that I know all the nurses, and I feel safe there. I can’t hurt myself there. I’m under 24/7 supervision, and I can’t have so much as a spiral notebook, so cutting myself is out of the question. The downside is that the hospital is just a crisis stabilization and detox unit. The idea is to get you in, get you some medicine, and get you out. There’s really no therapy, and it’s quite boring in there. So, while I was prevented from killing myself, the underlying issues that led me to feel suicidal are still festering. My elaborate cocktail of anti-this and such-and-such stabilizers are actually working quite well. I was doing okay until this most recent incident happened. However, now that I’m dealing with the aftermath of being hurt, I feel out of control and in need of more long-term help. So, I am heading back to residential treatment.

My parents, my therapist, and I are looking into various treatment centers that deal with multiple psychiatric disorders, and trying to find the best fit for me. I might only go so far as Orlando, or I might end up in Boston. We’re not sure yet. But what I do know is that this is my chance at turning my life around. When I was at the Creek in 2014, I made substantial progress, but then I hit a wall and I was kind of stuck. The treatment team there was challenging me to work on deep, underlying issues, not just my unhealthy relationship with food, but what drove that relationship. I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. I frequently snapped at my therapist there, “I came here to get rid of my eating disorder, and I did. I want to go home.” I did go home, and I did alright for a little while, but within a year, I was unstable and self-destructing.

This time will be different. I am resolving to commit myself to getting better. I’m going to follow my treatment team’s recommendations no matter what. I obviously don’t know how to take care of myself, or else my stomach wouldn’t be empty, my wrist wouldn’t be scabby, I wouldn’t feel like the world is ending if I accidentally make physical contact with a strange man, and my GPA would be higher than a two point something or other. I am turning the care and keeping of Katherine over to the treatment team until I am well enough to take that role back. Someday, I’ll get there. Someday, I will feel like a whole person. Until then, I’ll just continue to do my best.

May you find peace and happiness this year. I know that’s what I’m trying to do.

 

 

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Th(ink)!

I’ve been self-harming a lot lately. It’s not something I talk about much because it tends to get me in trouble, but more than that, I’m ashamed of the adolescent habit that’s followed me into adulthood and turned my life upside down. My bed sheets are covered with blood; I’ve gone through three packs of razors in the past two weeks, as they keep getting taken away by the people who love me. How do I return that love? I go and get more razors, angry at those people for having the nerve to care about me when I don’t even care about myself.

I don’t have a good reason for continuing to cut myself. I don’t think there is a “good reason” that would justify the countless nights spent in the bathroom waiting for the bleeding to let up enough to put on a pair of dark sweatpants that won’t show bloodstains.

Having my body covered in scars, bandages, and cuts is just a way to reflect how I feel on the inside, cliche as that may sound. I feel unworthy of basic care and affection, even when it pours out of those around me. I simply don’t understand why people treat me with the love that I receive, and I don’t know why I can’t wrap my head around their kindness and love. Cutting myself is a physical manifestation of the negative self-talk that constantly beats me down.

I take most of my bad feelings out on my thighs, which are now covered in scars and fresh cuts from years and years of abuse. So today, I decided to do something different with that part of my body. Today, I got my first tattoo. be-proud

The tattoo is partly a tribute to the Orlando shooting victims because my friends and I easily could have been among them. The aftermath of the shooting was an incredibly spiritual experience for me, strange though that may be. Not long after, I started working the Twelve Steps and solidified my connection with God. I believe I was made in God’s divine image, made with care, divine love, and cosmic magic. Who am I to hate something that was made by a perfect Creator? Talk about playing God. Today, I will practice humility and not suppose that I am so great that I can see God’s mistakes. Today, I will practice self-love and take care of my body. Today, I will honor my story of survival and strength by being proud of who I am and loving myself. It’s about damn time.

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Completely Terrified

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I have a mild obsession with Tumblr, a micro-blogging platform. I usually just browse it in between classes and sometimes in lieu of doing homework to look at art and pretty girls. I have an extension on my browser that prevents me from seeing any posts that glorify self-harm, eating disorders, etc., and from seeing any NSFW posts.

As I was scrolling today, I came across this post, and it gave me pause. At first, it seemed like the kind of thing I could relate to. But I realized, it’s something only the old Katherine can relate to. Today, I am proud to say that I am not completely terrified of being who I am for the rest of my life. I am okay with who I am. I don’t love every facet of myself, but I’m working on my character defects, and I know that in time, I will have a better handle on them.

Today, I visited a friend from AA in the hospital. Hospitals make me nervous, and she asked me to bring her a coffee from Starbucks, even though you’re not allowed to bring food into the hospital. (Her nurse had said it was okay for her to have coffee, but assumed I was bringing it from the hospital cafeteria.) I was anxious, but I handled a situation that would have baffled me in the past with ease and grace. God gave me the opportunity to do a mitzvah today by visiting my friend when she’s not feeling well and bringing her coffee. It was a small act, but one that made a difference, and one that I am proud of myself for doing.

As I progress through the Twelve Steps, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the person I am. It feels good to take care of myself and make good choices. I don’t feel like I constantly have to make excuses for my behavior, apologize for who and how I am, and I don’t ruminate on how much I hate myself anymore. In fact, I don’t even feel like I hate myself these days. The huge pit of self-loathing I used to harbor is being replaced with something softer and lighter. It feels pretty okay to be me all of a sudden.

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A God of My Own Understanding

I recently started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and working the Twelve Steps. What an experience it has been. I’ve learned so much about addiction in all its forms. I’ve gained friends of all ages and all walks of life, and most importantly, I’ve formed a strong connection with my Higher Power, who I call God.

Addiction is a funny thing. I’m not even twenty-one, so if I wanted to get drunk, I’d have to rely on older friends to supply me with alcohol. For a while, my friends were happy to get me drunk, but soon they noticed that my medicine doesn’t work very well with alcohol in my system. My best friend Colette said that the fact that my desire for alcohol seemed more like a need than a want was worrisome. When she and her boyfriend were drinking around me, all I could think about was how badly I wanted “just one sip,” which always turned into as much as I could possibly drink. Pretty soon, my friends didn’t bring alcohol around me, and Christin, the girl I was dating when I was drinking the most, often asked me to stop drinking, or at least slow down.

So, even though I haven’t been day-drinking for years and years like many of the old-timers at AA used to do before they got sober, I certainly have “the disease of more.” Besides, as they say in AA, “It’s not the drinkin’, it’s the thinkin’.” The way I think about alcohol (and sometimes other substances or activities) is certainly a problem.

But, there is a solution. AA provides, “A fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope,” with each other to share a common solution to a common problem. You never know what you’re going to get at an AA meeting. AA is a spiritual (but not religious) program, so a lot of the meetings focus on God and other spiritual matters.

Yesterday, I had an absolutely horrible day. A very long time ago, I met an extremely drunk girl at a gay club. She told me that “lesbian drama is too real, baby girl,” and I’ve recently discovered that she is right, even if the drama is all in my head. (If you don’t know what lesbian drama is, watch a few episodes of The L Word, and you’ll get an idea.) I had been around people who were drinking a drink I used to love, and I was “romancing the drink,” thinking about how nice it would be to sit at the table with the rest of my friends and casually sip a mimosa. However, every time I think about how nice that would be, I have to remember that I never “casually sipped” my drinks. I slammed them down and got a refill as soon as possible. By the time my friends were buzzed and tipsy, I was falling-down-drunk.

So, instead of trying to rustle up some booze, I went to the AA clubhouse and sat through a meeting, surrounded by friends and strangers who, in some small way, understood what I was going through. I bring a journal with me that I write in during meetings. Sometimes, I write down good quotes from speakers and readings, but a lot of times, I write down my personal thoughts and feelings while I listen to what’s being said at the meetings.

My journal entry at quickly devolved into, “I hate myself, and I don’t want to be here anymore,” and by the end of the meeting, I was crying. I said the Lord’s Prayer, and then completely melted down when my friend “Mack” asked me if I was okay. Mack is a big, rough-and-tumble, Italian guy who’s probably been smoking since birth, and sounds like he’s made out of sandpaper. He said, “Aww, Katherine, baby, don’t cry,” and handed me off to a woman who talked me down and hugged me.

I stayed at the clubhouse after the meeting and talked to another friend. We just sat around complaining about how hard relationships are. When I got home, yet another friend from AA called me, and we talked for about half an hour about our concepts of God.

This friend, “Connor,” describes himself as a “recovering Catholic,” who has defected to Eastern religions, but is interested in Judaism. It’s so refreshing to talk to someone who has a strong faith in God, whoever that God may be to them. One of the amazing things about AA is that unlike organized religion, there’s no right answer for who God is. I told Connor, “My God is not perfect. She makes mistakes just like me. She’s learning and growing all the time.” I’ve never articulated that idea before, and it felt good to say it out loud.

I actually got that idea from a footnote in my siddur. The siddurim my synagogue uses are full of rabbinic notes and ideas, as well as traditional prayers and modern interpretations of the ancient liturgy. During a service a few weeks ago, I saw a footnote that said something along the lines of, “Instead of a perfect God, what if there is a growing God, a growing universe, and we’re all learning together along the way?” This idea resonated with me. Believing that God is a work in progress just like myself helps me practice forgiveness. Instead of wondering why an all-powerful, perfect God would let something horrible and life-altering happen to me as a child, wondering what I did to deserve such a terrible punishment, and why God would abandon me like I thought She did, I can accept that God made a mistake in my life, that for a moment, I fell through the cracks. I was not abandoned. I was not being punished. I was never, not for a moment, unloved by God.

The first step of the Twelve Steps is, “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable,” and Step Two is, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It’s easy to admit that your life is unmanageable. I was getting home past my curfew, trying to hide my intoxication from my parents, stealing alcohol from Christin, Colette, and her boyfriend, Trevor, and backing out of prior commitments because I was either too drunk or too hungover to function. It was obvious that I was a slave to my impulsiveness and penchant for bad decisions.

But giving up that control to a “Power greater than ourselves,” isn’t as easy. I want to have control of my life. I want to be responsible for my decisions. And in a lot of ways I am. It’s my decision to act in accordance with my understanding of God’s will. God and I are a team, working together to keep my life on track, to keep me sober and happy, and to do mitzvot.

I recently changed my major (again), and I’m now studying elementary education. As part of my class credit for my Introduction to Teaching class, I had to observe for fifteen hours in a classroom. I observed in a kindergarten classroom at my synagogue’s elementary school. It was such an amazing experience. I formed a relationship with every single child in the class, and I came to love every single one of them.

I also got a job teaching Religious School on Sundays at my synagogue. I have a class of five-and-six-year-olds, who are the strangest little humans I have ever encountered. I love them all dearly, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my knowledge and love of Judaism with young people.

Being around those kids gives me motivation to stay sober, to make good choices, and to take care of myself. I want to be an example of what a good Jew, responsible person, and good role model is for my students. I don’t ever want those kids–especially the little girls–in my classes to grow up thinking it’s okay to do the things I have done. I pray that those little girls will walk in love, value and treasure themselves, and respect themselves and their bodies. I pray that those little boys will grow up to be gentle souls, who walk in kindness and understanding.

Now that I have a little bit of time in AA, I’ve gained a genuine understanding of who my Higher Power is to me, and how She acts in my life. Maybe God isn’t for everyone. But I believe that God made everyone in Her divine image, that She loves all of Her creations, and that my faith in Her is going to carry me down the road to happy destiny.

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Some Poems

There is a very small local poetry club that I attend every Wednesday night. Because I now have an audience for my poetry, I’ve started writing it again. Here are a few of my recent ones. (And no, I don’t believe in line breaks.)


I watched our love turn your teeth yellow. I kissed your smoky mouth anyway, and my tongue momentarily stopped searching for messages in a bottle. I sat in the rooms and distanced myself from you, loving a God that you deny, loving Him more than I ever loved you–yes “loved” with a D because if love grows, then love dies, but I was too dope sick to go to the funeral. The clinical term is “substance abuse,” and after all the times the angels spit on my naked, nubile body, I swore I’d never hit anyone, but there were times I saw fear in your eyes, and I want to apologize for becoming a man in your bedroom, when I promised you sugar free kisses and instant coffee that wasn’t too weak. I always tried to put in a little extra for you. I wrote Sappho a Dear John letter, and I wept in our sisters’ arms, but I don’t remember a single tear, just a strand of faux pearls around my skinny wrist, and a man’s hand over my childish mouth. I never loved the way we did. You were my first real teacher, but I’ a truant at heart. I blew off your class for pills and bandages. A rib cage like guitar strings, but I never let you coax music out of me. For that I am sorry. I hope for you. I promise I will never pray for you, and I will no longer play with you–no more games where I make the rules. You deserve to win, and I hope someday, your blessed body crosses that finish line.


The bitch wriggles out of her collar when she feels she does not deserve to be owned. When the man brought me home from the puppy farm, I was just a little thing, made slight by misguided willpower. Black boots knock a young dog around, but oh, was she grateful for that silk and leather collar.

The bitch was treated fairly on the island. The prize pet–all the sirens and nymphs wanted to pet me behind the ears. But grow I did, and I became a mean dog. I bit the fishermen, barked at the, and tried to run them off. One of the carried a knife, and he carved his initials into my haunches.. And oh, I was grateful.

On the island, a siren picked the young, mean bitch to be her favorite. She gave me not a collar, but a chain with a silver clasp. The siren explained that it was a tie not a shackle. I learned what love was, and I rested at the foot of her bed. She fed me handsomely, and the bitch became a dog became a girl became a woman became an abuser became broken became heartbroken became closer to a whole piece of something bigger.

The bitch wriggles out of her collar when she feels she does not deserve to be owned.


I grew up in a noisy house, but it was a loving song of noise. Yiddish and Hebrew thrown around like olives in exotic dishes. Pretty dresses on little girls, and kippahs covering bald spots. The Torah. Behind the glorious ark in all her resplendent wonder with mysteries and wisdom to carry me through the ages. And carry me she did, through losses–Goodbye, Miss Lucille; Goodbye Mrs. Malka–and loving gains–Welcome to our family, David; Welcome to the world, Baby Ben. And all the steps in between. Rolled up in the Torah scrolls are generations of Hanukkahs and Purims, a thousand weddings and a thousand births. I grew up in a noisy house, and when I come to visit, my family sings with me.

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A Peek Inside my Journal

I’ve kept a journal for the past eight years–since I was twelve, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. My journals have come in all shapes and sizes, and I’m currently using a black hardcover notebook with silver polka dots on the front. I like it because it’s small and fits in my purse easily. Here are some of my entries from the past week or so.

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I made this one with some scraps from a well-deserved trip to Dunkin Donuts before a Survey of Biology exam, and some pictures I cut out of a fashion magazine.

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I’ve been listening to one of my favorite bands from eighth grade, Three Days Grace. Thus, I have been writing eighth grade-quality poems. Enjoy. 

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The left side reads, “I grew up in a noisy house, but it was a loving song of noise. Yiddish and Hebrew thrown around like olives in exotic dishes. Pretty dresses on little girls, and kippahs covering bald spots. The Torah. Behind the glorious ark in all her resplendent wonder with mysteries and wisdom to carry me through the ages. And carry me she did, through losses–Goodbye, Miss Lucille; Goodbye Mrs. Malka–and loving gains–Welcome to our family, David; Welcome to the world, Baby Ben. And all the steps in between. Rolled up in the Torah scrolls are generations of Hanukkahs and Purims, a thousand weddings and a thousand births. I grew up in a noisy house, and when I come to visit, my family sings with me.” The other side is about gender identity/presentation plus how much I wish I’d never started smoking.

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I was sad when I made this. One of my very close friends always tells me that she’s praying for me, which I appreciate, but… The opposite side of the page makes me uncomfortable, and I was uncomfortable when I made it. It just makes me feel tense. 

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I had a lot of fun making this page today, but it looks like the fashionable grandma is having more fun than I am. 

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The Small Things

In a perfect world, I would always take care of myself and do what’s right for me. However, I have a self-destructive nature, and I thrive on chaos. Perhaps “thrive” is not the right word because I certainly haven’t been thriving over the past few weeks, but I have a deep-seated need to create chaos in my life so that I will always have a problem to solve. Oddly enough, I don’t usually solve these problems that I make for myself. I stress about them, complain to my friends, worry my family, and let them fester until I end up using maladaptive coping skills and then—what do you know!—I have more problems.
I’m trying to break the cycle.
Recently, Christin and I broke up, and it’s been hard for me. I’ve never had a breakup in which I wasn’t desperate to get out of what was left of a relationship I’d destroyed or that was just not healthy for me. This was different. We parted ways on good terms and are trying to stay friends. We’ve been as open as we can with each other about how we’re doing post-breakup, and we still care about each other, as friends should.
Two days after we broke up, I had a really bad day. I was sad about the breakup, mired in PMS, and did not want anything to do with any sort of positivity. I snapped at my parents, sat on my best friend Colette’s porch and cried to her and her boyfriend (who happens to be Christin’s best friend), and screamed along to my favorite Sleater-Kinney album in my backyard. While I was in the backyard, I received a text from my dad that was intended for my mom. The text said something about how my singing was going to distress our neighbors. My dad was probably right because Sleater-Kinney (like all Riot Grrrl bands) is a cacophonous mess of female shrieking and feedback-ridden guitar wails, and I am quite loud. I angrily texted my dad back informing him that the music made me feel better, and said that maybe next time I’d just do something unhealthy and impulsive to make myself feel better. My dad came into the backyard to say he was sorry, and I took great satisfaction in saying, “You’re only sorry you got caught,” a line that has frequently been directed at me.
However, my dad is a patient, kind, loving man, and he didn’t blow up at me like I was doing towards him. He continued to apologize and said that he and I need to “mend our fences,” because we’ve been distant lately, and when we do talk, I can be a bit of a bitch to him, which is (usually) not deserved, and doesn’t make either of us feel good. He said he loved me, something everyone in my family tells each other frequently, but I started to cry, and he hugged me and said it was okay. We ended up having a really good conversation about my future, school, our relationship, and our family. I love my dad, and I know he loves me. I just don’t show it all the time.
Colette says love is something you practice, not something you have. I am trying to walk in love these days. It is easy for me to tell myself that no one loves me and that I will never be loved, but that is simply not true, and quite melodramatic, I might add.
It’s not just my dad who loves me. I have my brother who took me out for ice cream and compared notes with me on both of our recent breakups. I have my mom who has given me so much good advice in the past week, and is always there for me.

And then there’s Kerry. Everyone needs a gay best friend (or GBFF), and Kerry is mine. On Sunday, I slept in, and my mom woke me up by saying, “Aren’t you going to Blue Springs with Kerry today?”
“No. Why?” I responded sleepily.
“Because Kerry’s downstairs,” my mom answered.
“Oooooh nooooo!” I groaned as I rolled out of bed in my underwear and sought my bathing suit. I suddenly remembered that as I was falling asleep the night before, I’d gotten several messages asking what time I was free to go to the springs, but I’d been too sleepy to comprehend them. I checked my phone and realized that all the calls I’d been ignoring were not in fact from work, but from Kerry and the rest of the gang wanting to know if I was coming on the day’s adventure.
I am so grateful to have friends who go to any lengths to include me in their fun. Kerry is an awesome friend who listens and makes me laugh. At the springs, I happily took in the view of the water and the girls in bikinis, and I was perfectly comfortable (albeit a bit cold) in my bathing suit. I even ate a peanut butter sandwich someone else had made. Peanut butter was once my biggest fear food, but now I just enjoy the protein and delicious flavor it has to offer. No, no one is going to give me a scholarship or a medal for eating a PBJ, but it was a huge accomplishment for me, and I have every right to celebrate it.
After we finished swimming at the springs, we went to a pizza joint, where I devoured tasty pizza and fried ravioli. I didn’t count how many slices of pizza I ate, nor do I care. It tasted good, so I ate it. Eating the pizza was part of the experience of having fun with my friends on a day off from work.

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Breaking up is not fun or easy. But Christin and I needed to do what was right for each other and for ourselves. Things are different now, and I have no choice but to accept them. Once I adjust to the changes, I think I will find that things are better. I’d rather not be in a romantic relationship at all than be in one that’s not working. But that’s not to say I don’t have relationships. I have awesome friends, my family, and my internet friends from summer camp who call me their Big Gay Mama. I’m trying to stay positive, and it’s getting easier every day. I’m making a conscious effort to reframe negative thoughts, and to stay busy. I keep telling myself I’ll be okay, and for once, I’m actually right about something.