Rewriting Harmful Narratives: Love and Creativity Turn a Trigger into Source of Empowerment

(More pics below, please scroll down and look at the captions!)

A little over a year ago, someone intervened with my mental health by using hypnosis and BDSM to try to have me to adopt a “submissive/slave” lifestyle full-time to help address my “past trauma” after I had expressed an interest in BDSM.

The story in and of itself is a big one, and while I do not wish to delve into the details here, I will say that this is something that I have been working out extensively in weekly therapy. I’ve also had three psychiatric hospitalizations since this person harmed me with his methods. Something I never needed previously.

The point of this post is not to talk about everything this person did or about how dangerous it is to practice medicine without a license (newsflash: it is), the point of this is to talk about the love and healing that came with regards to a specific image this person had used against me.

When I was in a deep hypnotic trance, or highly suggestible state, he used frightening imagery on me. Specifically, he said I was a “gazelle” that he could “sink his teeth into.” This imagery of a lion and gazelle became a huge trauma trigger for me.

A short while after he did this and after he had put me under hypnosis without bringing me out of trance (which is not safe at all), I woke up feeling like a gazelle.

I was scared.

I wanted to run.

I was prey.

Gazelle with Fihankra Symbol by M. Scott Hammond
“Gazelle” with Fihankra Symbol by M. Scott Hammond

My husband was so confused as to what was happening to me. I kept talking about feeling like a gazelle and being scared. I talked about it so much that he even drew a picture of a gazelle with a rock with the West African symbol Fihankra (meaning “safe” or “secure”) to try to alleviate my fears.

As time passed, and after a couple hospitalizations and therapy over the course of several months, a dear friend of mine, Tammy, offered to help me address the issue I had with the gazelle/lion narrative that was still haunting me and my thoughts.

I don’t literally believe in magic per se, but my beautiful friend Tammy is a wizard with her photography. She empowered me by finding makeup artists and dressing my husband and I up as a lion and a gazelle.

But in our little story, it was the gazelle that needed to be feared.

Not the lion.

In high school I took a drama class. I have always loved theater, so this opportunity brought much joy to me. I’m going to share some of the photos from the shoot. Please consider visiting my friend Tammy’s photography facebook page and “liking” it. Her work is amazing and she recently started her business.

Now on to the photos! (Check it! I even made a story using captions on the pics!)

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I’m laughing a little now, because recently, someone tried to bring up the gazelle/lion narrative I had been dealing with as a mean-spirited way of casting ad hominem on me and trying to gaslight me.

What this person fails to understand is that that narrative no longer hurts me. It gives me POWER.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is a prophetic film, and the Magic Book that the characters use to rewrite their realities is, I believe, a real and an available tool within us all. We are all capable of rewriting the harmful narratives that others and (more importantly) we tell ourselves.

Magic Book from SpongeBob Out of Water
Source: http://spongebob.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Book

Also, I love the shit out of my friends, and once a drama geek, ALWAYS a drama geek.

THESPIAN PRIDE FOREVA.

(I love you, Scott and Tammy!)

Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: There Is No Exit

madnessSeclusion

Based on true events.

I stand and look down at my bare feet. I see the scar from my youth creeping up from my toe to ankle, like a meandering snake.

My ankles. They are swollen from the restraints. The restraints they put me in when I was in the hospital. The restraints they found necessary when in my mania I said I wasn’t bound by their rules.

“Let me out!” I scream into the yellowness. This yellow room, reminds me of Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper quite literally. In the walls I imagine the women, creeping around in eternal madness like me.

“PLEASE!” I scream. Scratching at my arms, I beg for release. I can’t escape. The room is locked. Four padded walls and a thick metal door with a narrow window are all I have for company.

Walking up to the window, I plead with the Indian woman at the computer on the other side of the door to listen to me.

“Please look at me! Let me out!” I scream into the window. “Let me out!”

She doesn’t see me. I’m invisible.

I am desperate.

“Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!” I slap my face. Hit my head with my hands. I claw at my arms, seeking freedom from my own skin, trying to let my very essence break free from its corporeal restraints.

She looks at me. “You are a good girl.” She smiles at me.

Hope.

She makes me feel hope.

“Please,” I cry. “Just let me out.”

She speaks soothing things to me. Through the window. My hope grows like a welcome, warm fire.

She hears me. I’m a human to her.

We’re interrupted. Another woman enters the antechamber wearing disdain like a regal robe.

“Stop talking to her.” She says. “She’s just trying to get your attention, she’s probably borderline and just wants sympathy. You need to ignore her.”

“No!” I am crying. “Please!”

The Indian woman, the woman who called me a “good girl,” the woman saying comforting things through the window, turns away from me. She pulls her computer back away from the door.

So she doesn’t have to see me.

No!

She is gone. I am alone again with four yellow walls and two cameras. One in each corner of the room.

I scream. I don’t know for how long but I scream.

I sit on the only object in the room, a mat with a symbolic picture of a man on a bed. It looks like the Tarot card of The Hanged Man.

The Hanged Man.

Submit.

“No!” I scream. “LET ME OUT!”

I start banging on the door. I feel my hands and wrists buckle under the weight of my body as I throw myself against the door.

This is madness. They are making me mad. They want me to be a madwoman.

I don’t know for how long I do this.

Eventually I get tired.

I sit on the mat in cobbler’s pose. I look at my feet, folded open like a book. A book. They ripped a book out of my hands when they put me in here.

The Poisonwood Bible.

They would never return it.

Staring at my feet, my vision grows sharp. I’ve never seen so clearly in my life. Even though they tore the glasses from my face when the security guards were piled on me before entering this hell, I see.

Leaning forward, I rest my head on my feet.

I breathe.

I can do this.

I stand again, and do yoga poses.

I’m not sure what happens next. Flashes of mania and flashes of awareness overtake me.

At one point, I scream at the camera and make obscene gestures.

“Fuck you, Mark Zuckerberg!” I shout a manifesto against Facebook. It seems appropriate.

“My brother is watching all of you! You all are fucked!” And I believe my brother is. He works for the government after all. In my heart I believe he is there, with me, telling me everything is going to be OK. Watching me. But most of all, he’s watching them.

He’ll make them pay.

“There is nothing wrong with me!” I scream at the cameras. “There is nothing wrong with me! I’m a human! I’m who I am and that doesn’t make me any less than you! You have me locked in here but it is YOU who are not free. My mind is free. I AM FREE.”

For a while I sing. I sing songs from Les Misérables at the cameras. I sing I’m Proud to Be an American.

Do you hear the people sing?”

I make the performance of my life.

At some point in the turmoil of events, I remove my scrubs.

I’m naked now.

As I piss myself, the warmth of fresh urine covers my legs and feet.

I don’t remember leaving the room, but at some point I do.

They don’t get a doctor to evaluate me or the bruises inflicted on me by staff. But they put me back in my room with a camera, so they can keep watching me.

Eventually they tell me I was in there for four hours.

That’s not a long time to liberate my mind.

-LH

This story was written for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge “There Is No Exit.”