Inviting the Grim Reaper to Lunch: What It Is to Want to Die

Suicidal thoughts as explained by psychology textbooks address the obvious: a sense of helplessness and despair; excruciating sadness; debilitating pain. All viable depictions of a festering mental illness, but lacks the minute details that go unaddressed, misunderstood, and often sought after when it’s far too late. Wishing for death isn’t as much a literal and tangible request as it is a call upon death itself. The chance to face it, to argue with it, to invite it to casual conversation over coffee and croissants. It is accepting death’s friend request, stalking its history, looking for commonalities that suggests a potential kinship and obscure level of understanding. Wanting to die is much, much more than just.. that.

Suicidal thoughts as explained by someone who carries them around like a gothic accessory requires deeper introspect. One must pick apart the most vulnerable section of the psyche to interpret such longings. A gardener understands that to rid of a weed he must pull at the root because cutting down the visible plant will only be a temporary fix. Like this, a (somewhat-functioning) suicidal person knows that to rid of his illness he must recognize all that contributes and address these head on through therapy, medication, or getting it all out by way of word purge via blog. With the latter, I progress..

Wanting to die means growing accustom to the mutt emotion that is bred from melancholy and rage. It is forgetting simple vocabulary and the inability to recall memories or facts. It is eating aspirin for fourth-meal to tranquillize the beast that claws from inside of the scalp, picking toward the epidermis to escape. It is reminiscing on days when skies were clear and “living” wasn’t a verb that received much attention. It is laying in bed, following the path of the ceiling swirls until the mind has gotten far enough away to taste freedom, only to be pulled back into shore when the sound of a slamming cabinet or mumbled conversation reminds you that your passport to depart from reality has been denied.

Wanting to die entails outlining pockets of life that your death would alter: people who would weep for your presence and hurt from your passing; items on a bucket-list you’d never cross off, like traveling to Australia or learning to play Styx on the piano; best-selling books that you’d never get to finish and television shows that you’d never get wrapped up in. It is emotional illness manifesting itself physically so that calling in sick for work is legitimate. It is feeling as though any potential contribution you may have toward a conversation is irrelevant.. and probably unwelcome anyway. It is feeling these suppressed thoughts pace back and forth between the right and left hemispheres, surfing the synapses, trying to outswim the tsunami.

Wanting to die makes meaningless copulation a three-some as it climbs into bed with you after failed attempts to break the numb; it is the morning after pill of self-disgust. It is finding comfort in your exclusive relationship with alcohol-induced blackouts and avoiding those friendships that don’t embrace this significant other. It is superficial conversation that seeped out of the elevator, saturating other aspects of your life that weren’t always forced interaction. It is pedal to the metal driving, flirting with the median and hoping for a semi, not a multi-passenger sedan adorned with any decal vouching for athletic children or an honor student.

Wanting to die travels with an entourage of guilt, shame, and remorse. It is watching a documentary on poverty and cringing at the skeletal figures, born without a chance. It is passing a homeless man carrying a sign that begs for his children’s weekly meals. It is volunteering with Rwandan refugees, an ocean away from genocide and the family members that it stole from them. It is fantasizing about your own lifeless body in a coffin and feeling at peace with this visual but wincing when the camera pans out to those who mourn, those who naively thought people only fall fatally victim to disease, accident, random (or intentional) criminal acts; but never the victim’s own selfishness. It is taking all of this in, realizing someone always has it “worse”, but waving around your Doctor’s prescription as a signed declaration, as your right to hate life anyway.

Wanting to die is the silence that stabs your aorta, and twists into the four chambers when someone you love reaches out for answers, for understanding, for anything. It is when this person who genuinely cares about your well-being, so much so that they are kneeling down as a way to literally welcome the weight of your troubles onto their shoulders; but you can’t explain to them why it will not help, why this weight cannot be distributed.

Most of all, wanting to die is the fear of the unsympathetic who take honesty out of context and morph it into a public display of conceit and a cheap cry for help. It is the harsh realization that maybe there is truth in their presumptions. It is harboring these thoughts alone, cultivating a petri dish of f-cked up that lacks scientific reason. It is feeling apprehensive of unveiling the truth in paralyzing suspense from the consequences that may potentially succeed.

Wanting to live is being stronger than wanting to die. It is being brave enough to introduce this dark passenger to those I have been hiding him from for so long. It is knowing that most won’t understand, many won’t believe, but maybe — just maybe — a few will be prompted to shine light on their own shadow. And in this case, I’ve reserved a few extra seats at brunch.

End of Year Banquet Speech

To my beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, sassy, strong willed, and talented 7th and 8th grade cheerleading team,

As I took some time by myself to write this speech, I very quickly realized how much I do not want to say goodbye to this season. Through my 16+ years of cheerleading, I can tell you without a doubt that this cheerleading season and this team is one that I will never forget. I never expected to become so attached to every one of my cheer girls, and I have found myself loving each of you individually for the person that you are and the woman that you are growing to be. I feel that it is important to note that the reason we are all gathered here today is because of the hard work, the athleticism, the dedication, the performance, and the fun and fond memories that we all experienced as a team this season. I hope that each of you girls know that you are the reason we are all gathered here to celebrate, and I hope in that you all can feel very proud of yourselves and of our team.

It’s crazy to me when I begin to reflect on this season. Way back in August which seems like a lifetime ago, we all met for summer conditioning as a quiet and shy team, reserved to truly expressing ourselves and nervous if we would all become the team we are now. I look around the room right now and I see one big group of 18 friends, bonded over the sport that brought us all together four months ago through a newfound sisterhood that cannot be shaken. Girls, look around this room and think about how much you have accomplished because of your teammates sitting next to you. You have rose together and you have accomplished more than I ever had planned for you, as cheerleaders as well as young women. I could not be more proud to be your coach as I am right this very second.

Some of the best moments of the last three months of my life involve each of you girls. I could spend the whole night telling hilarious stories of each of you, but I don’t want the girls to run away that fast! Some of our more embarrassing moments include setting defense cheers when we were actually on offense, or vice versa, the announcer of the home games saying Maija’s name wrong every single time he calls the girls name even when I write it out phonetically, and not to mention Lissy slipping on the grass each and every time she high kicks or even walks out of place. But, some of my prouder moments include Megan Dole who stepped up as main base in a strong stunt group and went above and beyond my expectations for her as a cheerleader, watching Allison Berry improve as a strong cheerleader, loud and proud at games when doing our cheers, Iliana improving so much as a flyer in her stunt group to the point in pulling her Lib at practice, quiet little Paige calling out cheers as loud as she can at our games, Olivia Vicary coming back to the team stronger than ever after her concussion, Emma Shover stepping it up to be a flyer at practice and then even during a halftime routine after tons of convincing and bribing, and each and every one of you breaking down the walls that is junior high school to become not only teammates, but also great friends with the girls that you are sharing this evening with.

What you have won for yourselves this season is far more than any trophy or gift that I could bestow upon you tonight. First, your hard-earned knowledge, drive, passion, dedication, and sisterhood is its own very special sort of trophy. Not only have you learned more about the sport of cheerleading this season, but I have watched each and every one of you learn your strength and purpose. You have learned how to overcome hard adversity and how to persevere. You have learned how to take risks as individuals, and how to trust each other as you competed as a team on and off the field. You have learned that we are stronger as one group of 18 than we are as individuals. You have learned how to triumph graciously, and how to hold your heads high in the face of defeat. You have all learned that there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish together. By becoming successful while remaining grounded and humble, by coming back to play again after a hard loss or an injury or even an emotional setback, and becoming you have truly learned how to win, not just in sports, but in life. Because of this, I pray that wherever the path of life takes you when you’re not under my wing, I challenge you to take the lead, to make a difference, to lend a helping hand, and to leave the world a better place than how you found it. That is a prize of sorts that will never tarnish, and one that could never be taken from you.

To my seventh grade girls in the room, remember that next year you girls are the mentors of this program and the ones that every young girl in the program will be looking up to. I hope that you learned through your eighth grade friends and teammates from this team what it means to be a role model, a leader, and a good example. To my eight grade girls who will now transition to high school cheerleading, be proud to always look back and say that you were a member of the DJP cheer program. You leave behind long and proud years of accomplishment and a legacy that won’t be forgotten. I hope over all of what we have done this year, this season stands out as your championship moment. You will always be a part of the DJP family, and this will always be your home no matter how far you go after this.

To all of the parents in the room, thank you for your hard work and dedication to the sport this season as well.  Thank you for allowing me to have a small impact on your daughter over the past fourteen weeks, for sharing each of them with me, and for allowing me to get to know each and every one of them. Thank you to the board for supporting me as a young coach and mentoring me along the way learning my ropes of DJP. Thank you to all of you who have volunteered for our program, whether it be concession stands, bringing snacks and drinks to the games, and even helping sponsor this banquet. And to my 18 beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, sassy, strong willed, and talented cheerleaders, I am so very proud of each and every one of you. I hope you all walk away from this season knowing that I love you very much, that I am so proud of each and every one of you, and that I will always be your biggest fan, on and off the field and even when our season is over.

In conclusion, I hope all of you girls know that the true prize of this banquet is you. I urge all of my girls to remember why you play. Play this sport for yourself in order to break your own goals, your own standards, and your own boundaries. Play this game for your teammates, because we always win together and lose together as a strong and successful team. Most importantly, and in the words of Mia Hamm, “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never look back. Play for her.” Play for the little girl in the stands that cheers along with the cheers that we call, play for the girls at practice who watch you stunt in disbelief that cheerleading can be THAT cool, but most importantly, play for the little girl inside of you that inspired you to play in the first place. Always make sure you cherish every season, every game, and every practice; I assure you it will be over a lot sooner than you realize. I will always remember this season because of the extraordinary young women who shared it with me. I love you all more than you guys know, and I cannot wait to see your continued success in the future.

Thank you, and have a great evening!

We All Know A Brock Turner

I’ve met my own Brock Turner.
That said, I’m pretty sure most of us (if not all) have come across a few versions of him at some point in our lives. At best, we know him as a mere acquaintance who “does dumb stuff at parties,” but is “a really good guy at heart.” At worst, we know him as the boyfriend/classmate/relative/friend who does the unthinkable… and either nobody believes that he did it, or they do and nothing happens.
Most guys like Brock Turner never even go to jail. And most girls, like the one he raped, are forced to live with the consequences. 1 in 5 of us, in fact, according to statistics. But when I align that number with my own personal experience and that of my friends, it’s the majority (not the minority) who have been sexually assaulted at least once. I can count on one hand the number of girlfriends I had in college who had never been sexually assaulted in some form.
That’s bad. Really bad. How is that number even possible?
“Firstly, in case you were laboring under the misapprehension, a rapist isn’t a person who hangs around in dark alleys waiting for vulnerable young women. Men who rape are, at least in the vast majority, men like Turner. They have favorite foods, hobbies and friends. Their families love them. They go to parties. Stopping men like Turner doesn’t mean looking for psychopaths; it means addressing how nice, educated ostensibly normal men end up raping women.
“And that means facing up to the truth – all of us, including Turner himself who, in his own court statement, refused to accept responsibility for his actions and repeatedly laid the blame on booze.

“He was willing to slut-shame his victim and absolve himself of responsibility, rather than accept that what he did was wrong. We cannot allow this to continue. There is no amount of alcohol in the world that would make having sex with an unconscious woman acceptable.” – Rebecca Reid, The Telegraph
We picture rapists as strangers attacking women who walk alone at night. But that’s probably the least common scenario.
Most of us don’t recognize rapists as manipulative boyfriends, drunk classmates at parties, or over-entitled guys who think they can coerce their way out of the “friend zone.” We ignore them, make excuses for them, or even egg them on.
That’s how Brock became “Brock Turner.”
The night he raped a woman behind a dumpster, Brock took a photo of her naked breasts and sent it to his buddies in a group chat. Judging from the screenshots that surfaced online, none of his friends seemed to think this was weird.
Dude-bros: If your buddy sends you a nude photo of a woman he’s purportedly just had sex with, what’s your reaction? Do you ask him if he had her permission to photograph her and send it to people? Do you call him out on his behavior? Do you say anything? If you react with a smile, laugh or a “way to go, buddy” – you are part of the problem. I (personally) know too many guys who have sent (or been sent) nude photos of women without having permission. And it’s terrifying.

Humanity takes a backseat the second a human body becomes a thing and not a person. Brock saw this woman as his plaything, not his equal. It’s the frighteningly “normal” perspective of a young college jock who will do anything to impress his friends and massage his own ego.
You probably know a Brock Turner or two. It’s also likely that you know someone who has (or will be) raped by one. Doing nothing, “brushing it off” and egging on dangerous behavior just makes you guilty by association.
Our behavior (and reactions to other people’s behavior) shapes society. And we (as a society) shaped Brock Turner.
Too many victims are afraid to admit (even to themselves) what happened to them. Too many rapists – and their circle of friends/family – refuse to recognize force, coercion and manipulation (with alcohol, guilt, threats or other means) as wrong. By blinding ourselves to what’s happening, we protect our rapists and influence new ones.
If we can’t rely on the system for justice, we have to start with ourselves.

MEN/GUYS/DUDES/BROS/BOYS (and their FRIENDS):

  • It doesn’t matter what your (or their) “intentions” are.
  • Anything other than an outright “yes” is a no.
  • It doesn’t become consensual halfway through, or afterwards.
  • If it doesn’t start as consensual, it’s not consensual.
  • If a “no” becomes a “yes” because of fear, guilt or booze, that’s still not consensual.
  • If it’s not consensual, it’s rape.

Read that again.
Guys: please be accountable for yourselves and your friends. If you’ve crossed the line even ONCE in your life, come clean. If your friends or family have, say something.
Every major social shift begins with an uncomfortable conversation. So let’s talk.
We all know a Brock Turner. What are we going to do about him?
If you’re angry, be part of the solution. Do something beyond simply sharing articles and commenting your outrage. Say something more than “how sad” and “I’m sorry.” Maybe start by saying “I will not allow this by ignoring it anymore.”
Because this is not about Brock Turner or the nameless woman he raped.
It’s about me. It’s about you. [Awareness + Action] x Persistence = Change.
A version of this post originally published on the author’s blog: Life, Unrestricted.

RJ Newell is a young writer, actor, model, and activist in Los Angeles. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and her Blog.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

Dear Sexist Fox News Commenters, Our Daughters Are Watching

The symbolic annihilation of women and women of color has not quieted in spite of the fact that our generation is witnessing a powerful, more diverse group of females compete as impressive Olympians. Even when this year’s group of competing women becomes more inclusionary, racism and sexism still permeate the dialogue. This is especially true when athletes are not white or touched up. Jewish-American, Puerto Rican-American, European-American and African American women who are being coached by Romanian American immigrants comprise this year’s gymnastic Olympic team. Audiences have insinuated and directly claimed that affirmative action is responsible for giving extremely talented black and latino Olympians a chance to showcase their strengths in spite of their obviously great abilities.

Where one would expect praise for successes or criticism for failures, the women winning gold medals are receiving reprisal simply for occupying an untouched up vessel. Their appearance and lack of makeup are at the forefront of sexist Fox News commenters’ talks rather than the greatness achieved within their sport. Various media outlets also undercut and do not provide coverage for many of these women’s accomplishments.

I wish that there was just one slightly problematic comment that occurred as Bo Dietl and Mark Simone from Fox News gave their appalling input. Their comments on the female Olympian’s lack of makeup outraged many. Shockingly, these women were not at the Olympics for their physique to be criticized, for they showed up to the 2016 Olympics with the intent of competing for the sport that they likely spent most of their life training for.

“When you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick’s zits!? Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits?” Bo Dietl

“The whole point of the Olympics, the whole point of this training, for the work to get there, is product endorsements.” – Mark Simone

“Would you put money behind a gal that won the gold medal and looks like a washed-out rag?” – Bo Dietl

This overt sexism is detrimental and destructive as it targets female athletes who are proving their potential while inspiring young girls everywhere. This year’s Olympic team has included inspiring women from various backgrounds, urging children to say, “hey, that could be me up there!” When news outlets attempt to objectify and dismiss these female athletes to be nothing but a body for the male gaze, the entire conversation shifts. To Bo Dietl and Mark Simone: children and young girls are watching. These little girls will hopefully learn to rise above sexist statements like yours, recognize that their skills and strengths are not contingent upon how men perceive their looks.That unfortunately, in a patriarchal society to be gifted and visible does not always acquire praise and frequently men will shame us without realizing it. We will rise above, and we will choose to be seen anyway.

If I Should Have A Daughter…

“If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom,” she’s going to call me “Point B,” because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me.
And I’m going to paint solar systems on the backs of her hands so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say, “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”
And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by Band-Aids or poetry.
So the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself, because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried. “And, baby,” I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick; I’ve done it a million times. You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house, so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him. But I know she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few that chocolate can’t fix.
But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything, if you let it. I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind, because that’s the way my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this.
There’ll be days like this, my momma said. When you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape; when your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment. And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you.
Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the wind in win some, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive. But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

“Baby,” I’ll tell her, “remember, your momma is a worrier, and your poppa is a warrior, and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things. Always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street-corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.”

What It’s Like To Be The Daughter Of A Police Officer

To The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,

I am the proud daughter of a police officer. As a little girl, I felt so much pride knowing my dad was out protecting our city from crime; I’m now 22 years old and that pride remains, but I can’t help but feel fear knowing he’s out there on patrol.

But why do I feel fear, you ask? Because I can’t get on the Internet without seeing someone bash on police officers. I can’t turn on the news without hearing about some new incident or some new reporting. I can’t walk around in my community without the fear in my heart for those wearing the badge.

People say some very scary things, even going as far as, “A dead cop is the best cop.” Do you know what it’s like to read that? It’s earth-shattering to know someone out there thinks my dad would be better off dead.

Growing up in the 21st Century, we are surrounded by numbers. The cold, hard facts are the only point-of-view nowadays; and you are either for it or you are wrong. In the year 2015, there were approximately 1,165,383 violent crimes reported; 63.6% aggravated assault, 28% robbery, 7.2% rape, 1.2% full on murder. Also in the year 2015, according to the “Cop Crisis” Police Brutality Statistics, 1,307 of these deaths reported were allegedly caused by police officers.

1,307- to many, this statistic is enough to take up arms and “make a difference.” Let’s take back our country and band together against the “cruel oppression” of authority, they say. The numbers are right in front of us; the statistics higher than ever before.

So, what do we see when we look at these numbers? A blood thirsty country, looking to get their way no matter the method? A misguided generation retaliating against authority? Authority retaliating against a misguided generation?

I see something different. You know what I see when I look at these numbers?

I see a 7:13AM bagel on the kitchen counter, toasted just how I like it. I’m in grade school with my bright pink backpack on, getting ready to face another day of long division and sight words. I see rough hands grabbing his wallet, gun, badge, and my hand as we walk out the door to leave for school. I see our drive in his car and a quick kiss on the cheek right before I hop out of his patrol car to walk up to my school. I see the sadness and the immediate walk upstairs after school with no hello when the news is blaring about a child who died or a father that didn’t quite make it. I see a grin the next day followed by a story of the miraculous childbirth or the K9 Cops’ biggest bust ever. I see the sadness in his eyes and within his heart when he loses his friends. I see the joy that comes across his face when he gets to help lead his men and solve the crimes of our community. I see the ups and the downs.

I have to listen everyday to the news talk about how police brutality is “affecting the lives” of Americans across the nation. I listen to the protesters and the talk shows and all of the people so up in arms about a “problem” catalyzed by social media and numbers.

And do you know what I hear when I listen to these numbers?

I hear a voice much deeper than my own singing off key to a new country song or an old 80’s song, driving up I-4 in the hear of Florida. I hear the anger in a spectator’s voice, telling the referee that he is “soft” and that the slide tackle “wasn’t really that bad” at my sister’s soccer game. I hear the “I’m-proud-of-yous” and the “I-love-you-baby” every time I leave to go back to college. I see his face when he sees his daughters succeed. I see his smile when he sees himself in his son. I see his sorrow when he sees the same news reports that I do. And I see the fear in his eyes for his brothers on the force.

And our generation feels so angry. “How could they do this to us? Shouldn’t they be protecting and serving? Who is protecting us against them?”

I sit here with my 7:13AM bagel, still toasted just how I like it. My pink backpack has now been upgraded to a college sized backpack, and I do not have to rush to get to school anymore. I still hear “I love you, sis” every time I leave to go back home, and there is not a country song or old 80’s lyric I do not get sent a text about when it is known that I am having a bad day. In those numbers, I see a devoted dad and community member who is in the third generation of a family to take the pledge to protect a community and to make the world a better place by enforcing the law. I see a police officer that I love.

I don’t feel angry; I just feel scared. Because there are two sides to every story, and we seem to have forgotten the cold, hard truth. We all feel as though we need to be protected. But who exactly is it that is protecting the police officers from you?

If 1,307 dogs claim to be a golden retriever, then every dog henceforth is of the same breed. If 1,307 athletes claim to play football, then every athlete henceforth will pad-up and run for the endzone. If 1,307 African-Americans identify themselves as “thugs,” then every African-American henceforth must take up the role as a thug. These statistics sound a little ridiculous, don’t they? But if every police officer is corrupt, in the eyes of our strikers and our protestors, due to the alleged actions of 1,307, should we not hold all groups, in their entirety, accountable for the actions of one?

So, go ahead; take up your signs in protest. Claim that you are oppressed and that you are scared to walk the streets at night. Tell the world that the color of your skin or the group you associate with or the clothes that you wear are putting you in great danger with the authority of the law. But don’t forget- it took you 45 seconds to condemn a man simply because of the uniform that he wears. You didn’t even take the time to consider who he is or what he has done before yoy judged him by the oath he took, the one where he dedicated his life to protect and serve. You didn’t even take a second to consider who he is when he isn’t in that uniform, and all the people who love him and wait for him at home, in fear that he might not ever come back.

So, it is unfair if it is done unto you, but you, as a non-authority figure, can do it unto others? You see the news and you see the numbers and you see a reason to get out of bed and yell about something. But remember that even when you have so much hate for the police, my dad continues to put his life on the line to protect yours. Funny, huh? He doesn’t even know you and every morning, he wakes up, puts on his uniform and sets out to do whatever he can to protect you. Someone he doesn’t know and has no obligation to go out and serve, yet he chooses to.

So, do you know what I see? I see my mother’s husband. I see my brother’s favorite role model and his number one person. I see the man who raised five kids, my first phone call when something amazing happens in my life, and the first person I ever truly loved.

You know what I see? I see my dad.

And if a father is the most important person in a lifespan to 1,307 daughters, then henceforth, shouldn’t the man with the badge that I call my father be the most important in mine?

Make your signs and yell your protests. Take it to the courthouses and shout it from the rooftops. Do what you feel you need to do in order to get your point across. But do not tell me that Blue Lives matter any less, and god forbid, don’t shoot. For you, I want to humanize the man behind the badge. People don’t understand what this life is like. I want you to remember that every time you threaten an officer, you’re threatening my dad, his family, and me.

Because in my world, a blue life matters more than anything else; and that is something that a number or a statistic or a report on the news will never be able to make you understand.

This one’s for you, Daddy, for being brave enough to do what others wouldn’t, for protecting even those who persecute you and for being the best dad any girl could ever ask for.

So, don’t bully my badge-wearer.

Love,

The Police Officer’s Daughter

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You Are Not For Everyone

You are not for everyone. There are poems within you that people will not be able to handle, storms surging through your bones that young men and women will never be able to weather.
See, you have a love inside of you that will ooze from your very veins like honey on a hot day and you will never be able to stop it. You’re going to fall deeply in love with the wrong world – the kind of world young girls dream of, the kind of world where people say how they feel and love whom they love. You will forever be attached to the deep parts of those you tangle yourself within, though they will never get their hands dirty long enough to uncover the treasure that hums within your dancing pulse.

You are going to be misunderstood in the way you care, for you will love people not for what is obvious within them, but for what is hidden beneath their masks. You are not going to revel in their freckles, you will not compliment the hues within their eyes. You are going to live for the way they breathe in the cold December air, watching as their chest rises and falls like your very heartbeat. You are going to live for the way their pupils dilate when they talk about something they are truly passionate about, when their cheeks flush from a compliment or the unexpected brush of your foot against their leg.

No, you are not for everyone. You are never going to be able to stop yourself from screaming your love from rooftops, you will never be able to play it cool. You are the kind of person who will worry about the strangers you see in grocery stores, the kind of person who will stay up at night wondering about your fifth grade crush, hoping that the sun is setting beautifully wherever they rest their head.

For that, I hope you protect yourself.

I hope that you do not let the world condemn you for being too loud, too expressive, too soft; that you do not let it convince you to be perfect instead of real. I truly hope that you celebrate the fact that you are not for everyone, that you are not impressing the kinds of people who were built on the foundations of a sad world. If there is anything you do, please, let yourself rejoice in the fact that you do not fit in, that you think differently, because there is a chaos that laughs inside of you and it is going to change lives. It is going to make even the cynics believe again. It is going to grow love from thorn and glass.