Liebster Award

Wow! I am overcome by the outpour of compassion and recognition for my writing. I was  nominated for the Liebster Award by Photo Sociology several weeks ago. I have been hesitant to cultivate a post in response because of the award requirements. That the physical routine of blogging requires immense effort, energy and cajoling my body into cooperation may come as a surprise to some of you. The crafting of my writing and transformation of my words into electronic consumption is exhausting. Therefore, I have chosen to curtail what, for me, would prove to be a rigorous post into my own unique version.

Firstly and foremost, thank you to Photo Sociology for nominating me! I am honored that my writing stirs something within you! Out of necessity, I will be skipping the personal questions and getting to the heart of my love for the blogging community with my nominations.

The aforementioned writers captivated me with their vulnerability, integrity and profound skill. Please take a moment to check out their blogs! For instructions on how to participate in this award process, please go here.

Thank you again for the honor of sharing my words with you all! Your support is treasured!

Daddy Issues, Debunked

Upon meeting again, face-to-face, the other half of my DNA, I was sedated by a surprising lull of indifference. Though long-distance and litigious in nature, his resume of leaving is noteworthy. Equally stunning was his history of evaporating as ether, especially at the eleventh hour of my trajectory. And still, with the human who had shown up for a little else than my conception folded awkwardly atop my couch, I felt a blissful nothingness.

Much to his chagrin, the realization that the dozens of abandonments he had accrued paled when juxtaposed with my battles within my bones. Whatever psychobabble he projected within the confines of his professional and personal circles were negated by my very existence. No, thank you, Freud, I do not have daddy issues. Much to the contrary, it is my “daddy” who has issues.

There are most likely cadres of women brainwashed into believing that the absent father figure has trampled their minds. Issues with their fathers have dictated a cycle of insecurity which is manifesting in their… And so on. While I’m not underestimating the trauma that can occur from abuse or abandonment of a parent, I am calling attention to the notion that such circumstances create a pathology within the child. Many times, I think the internalization of a parent’s mistake is preyed upon by our society.

Instead, I offer a remedy of self acceptance and compassion. It is not a diagnosis of daddy issues quite necessarily, I have come to find. I am comforted by the indifference I feel toward the stranger who helped bring me into this world. I take refuge in my knowledge that indeed, the apple did fall far from the tree.

Without Me, Within Me

It is simultaneously devastating and awe-inspiring the adaptations a body can make in order to subsist. Persistence in thrumming organs untuned to a frivolous disarray of melodies. Not unlike gruesome gashes, the neural circuitry illumination within glows amiss. Each pathway rerouted, detoured in the name of being howls the betrayals etched grotesquely in tongues of pain. The decisions made within me, without me about sacrifice and survival are perhaps among the most primordial yet sophisticated there are.

Despair couples with determination, reaching for safety with grasping fingers. The tiny footprints stomping with metronomic manipulation never let me forget. They always persuade me to remember with rhetorical recitation what I’ve had to give up to be here. Now.

Invitation To Inquiry 

Hello my dearest followers and bloggers extraordinaire. As some of you may already know, I am the proprietor of two blogs. Tick Talk was born from my sole necessity for emotional detoxification. I honestly never intended or expected others to engage in these highly emotional, vivid portrayals of pain and torture. I have been happily surprised by the support and solidarity I have received.

As I have continued to progress in my recovery and re-establish abilities, I have connected with my passion for social justice and advocacy. A few months ago, I poured my passion into the creation of an additional blog where I combine personal experience, my love for sociological inquiry and current cultural events into, what I hope, are meaningful conversations. I invite you to peruse The Wrongs I Must Write so together, we can convert societal wrongs into rights.

The connection cultured through my writing and interactions with all of you is treasured. Please share with me your own thoughts, reflections and visions for a more egalitarian society. We are all in this together.

I’m Not A “CP Blogger”

Labels. They are omnipresent, scratching scars along the flesh of humanity. A series of what some may call catastrophic occurrences throughout my lifetime thus far have oriented me to the damaging effects of labels. Because of my own matriculation in a strange universe where people total my sum in terms of diagnoses and disability, I have become attuned to the ways we categorize others. Even what may seem to be mundane reflections quickly morph into dichotomy. You and me. Us and them. The resulting dehumanization of the “other” is what war, racism and so many other detrimental phenomena are made of.

So, what does this have to do with blogging? Ironically, I consider writing to be one of my sole escapes from the confines of labels. Therefore, I have recently been surprised and perturbed by others thrusting upon me categorization within the blogging community. Please, let me be clear that though I write about topics of chronic illness and disability, I am not a “CP blogger.” I blog outside of the box; I challenge normative expectations by bringing awareness to their existence.

It is my intention that by exposing personal and global examples of the often unintentional ways we separate one another, that we can begin to shift our standpoints. In how many ways today did you think or perhaps indicate with your words that somebody belongs to a different group than you do? I’m not exempt from this process , either. I do my best to be cognizant of when I draw conclusions about others that distance them from myself. Because, truly, what I’m after in this lifetime is togetherness.

King For A Day

I do not dedicate one singular sun and moon to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. I do not flood my social media account with poignant quotes emblazoned upon aging photographs only to have them replaced tomorrow. Instead, I consult the perspective of this altruistic, compassionate leader as though I could reach across the table and cradle his hand in mine. It weighs heavily upon me that not only is this an opportunity I can conjure only within my mind, but more importantly that our society feels intensely the reverberations of his premature absence.

With daily insults from Washington marring the inherent beauty of diversity, the doctrine of MLK magnifies with sacrosanct luminosity in my life. Allusions to his dedication to unconditional love, nonviolent disobedience and the indomitable quest for peace pepper the reel of my internal dialogue. In whatever ways available to me, I set forth intention to notice the invisible, support the silenced and extend compassion when I often am overwhelmed with disillusionment.

As I believe cadres of others also steep in a paralyzing stupor of shock, I hope that in this space we occupy together, we can remember. May we remember our collective humanity, the trajectory toward equality and remember every day can be MLK Day.

My Skeleton In The Closet

Trauma has a way of reincarnating at the most unexpected junctures. As though memories were equipped with their own mischievous volition, upon me they descend. A tricolor of clothes hangers drift lazily along the wooden pole. I finger garment after garment, searching for a forgivable yet incubating shirt. And then, I see it. 

The translucent threadbare green, gray combination churns within me the hunted woman who nearly rolled into her grave submerged by those threads. I feel the remnants of her skeletal starvation incinerate my being as I step back from the wardrobe. Seemingly benevolent and appearing well-worn with what could ostensibly be love, the three-quartered sleeves shift almost imperceptibly within the now ominous emptiness of the closet. Empty as my organs were of nutrition; empty as the doctors’ neurons were of solutions; empty as the reserves of my existence were of time.

The annihilating anthropomorphism ascends the stairway of my spine. I am shoved through a corridor of remembrance, bamboozled by grotesque bones I wore on the outside, with shriveling organs seeking shelter protruding from my angles. That shirt, that haunting collaboration of matter was nearly the last thing to cradle me.


I close the closet. I select another shirt.

Els Van Laethem 

The Beauty Of Absence 

Absence. Sometimes the absence of a thing spins a circle of wholeness. A silver spear plunging into the verdant rivers spiderwebbing across my landscape; forbidden footprints trespassing in rainbow globs along my hide; unyielding faces blurring into kaleidoscopic mouths reprimanding broken bodies; incriminating mirages dragging untellable tales from their graves.

The delicious liberation from these once habitual hauntings I treasure, clutching to me the delicate tendrils of possibilities they nourish.

“Stiched Landscape” created specifically for Tick Talk using mixed media by Jena Pendarvis

People You Die With

Call it morbid, but I am on a quest to find the people I’ll die with. Occupying one’s time with the constant companion of thriving infections induces such ponderings. I would imagine that a person gifted with health and the sweet drip of time like warm honey would engage sugarplum thoughts of seeking company to build with. But she is not me; she’s not at the mercy of this maelstrom circling a sick cycle carousel around and around me. Contrary to the beating life inside of me, the insatiable armies of invaders close in, day after day and many times they nearly succeed in snuffing the pulse that is me, out.

So, in the way that years of survival seem to have left me cocking my head in wonder at the saccharin ease healthy folk parade along with, I tend to approach related inquiries in the same way. Finding people to live with, to expand, savor what simmers within you with dependency would be simple.

But what about a life filled with death? Mine has cultured isolation and palpable estrangement from friends, family and myself. Like the dry retching I’ve spent years recoiling from, the ripples of recognition that those you live with and those you die with may not be the same crowd, reverberate.

To say that I crash from the precipitous ledge on which I hover every single day is not a dramatization. It is only natural, then, I think for me to want someone to hold my hand on the way down. Again and again.

So, lie down with me on this sunny day and be my somebody to die with. Be here with me as I am tossed like a rag-doll, jerked this way and that by the surf. Wade in until you’re eyes deep with me today, tomorrow, maybe for a a while, until the dying is done and the life will begin again.

“Remember Not to Forget,” painting by E.b. Fromkes.

A Prescription For Perspective 

One advantage of telescopic perspective is the opportunity it affords for privilege. Cast a global view from your tiny island and what once appeared to be unyielding boulders, shift like a mirage through the lens of compassion. Though this standpoint has required daily cultivation for me to learn to acknowledge, upon doing so, I have become more empowered. Instead of leaning so heavily upon the crutch of attaining normalcy (whatever that is) before celebrating, I am learning to recognize victory in the now.

Before you roll your eyes defiantly, don’t worry, this is not some advice prescription for enlightenment. Much to the contrary, my reflections I support the claim that there is no such thing. The linear definition of success, happiness, and well-being propagated by a consumer-capitalist agenda leaves little room for individuality. Moreover, the emphasis of production and attainment in an ego-centric environment is quite stifling. The recognition of my own power to re-define what action or accomplishment warrants a warm fuzzy feeling is proving to be helpful.

Extending my thoughts toward compassion with genuine energy is opening pathways. As literal neurological roads are remapping, so too are opportunities to find a more livable tomorrow, today.

Jennifer Steidl