anarchist elitism. a personal memoir. | June 7, 2011

So throughout my posts, I have been attempting to keep all of my analysis and critiques focused on me and the ways I impact others, even though I have been heavily disgusted by the community I have recently stepped out of. There has been some reference to the 27 center and DABC but not nearly as much as I have been internally processing. I realize how much this group of individuals proliferates my community and the fact that if I don’t speak up and advocate for myself, rumors will saturate and dismantle many different endeavors for many people, so alas.

Initially, I avoided speaking up for myself  because I was told my perspective was crazy and fundamentally invalid and that I shouldn’t even speak because just by doing so I damage everyone around me. Also, I was told I was a threat to security culture. But I have been cleansing and clearing my head and I am still uncontrollably disgruntled. Especially, just by the silencing of it. No one should ever ever be told not to speak up about the ways they are degraded, not to mention psychologically and physically abused.

When this internal conflict initially came to a head, I was told how I consistently interfere in work and contribute nothing. I heavily disagree with this. Even though I have been processing some of the most severe anxiety of my entire life, I offered everything I could, which often came in the form of offering childcare, manual labor like table moving, setting up the letter writing room, cleaning whenever needed, offering emotional support whenever possible, paying out the ass to clear 3 other members of their obligations to a prior communal house(which in hind sight was not at all any help because people “had to move out because of my madness” not because they were spending their rent money on weed which is what actually happened.) I fucking tried within my capacity to do all I could. I would like to highlight the inconsistencies of the 27 center collectives story. I feel my past is being used to justify discrimination happening against me now and I will speak up. I will have a voice.

To take it way back to the beginning, when I began attending DABC meetings, I was coming out of working with fightwithtools, a non-profit organization associated with the flobots. My departure from FWT was tumultuous and heartbreaking for many parties involved. It was my first interaction with any politically active organization and I was making sense of a lot of things at the same time. I had moved to Denver from living on base at FT Jackson and working through a divorce after a 5 year marriage and 5 years of serving in the military as a mental health counselor for PTSD. I jumped from dominant culture to a community that has been studying the negative effects of dominant culture for the past forever. I began attending DABC’s meetings and there was a push for me to become a member. I pushed this off for a long time 1. because I was still making sense of the fallout of me leaving fwt’s and 2. I have no background in anarchy and could barely even interject in a conversation let alone contribute something that would challenge my peers. The theory rocked though and the process was beautiful, I figured that even though I was behind on analysis I would be educated and grow by inculcating myself in the culture. Having no background with anarchists, I also had no background with the elitism that is often present in anarchist communities. Now, I do.

Back in about November I began suffering from severe social anxiety. Began may not be the right word because it actually started WAY before that, but I would say November was when my anxiety started taking on physical forms. I was shaking often but was still able to mask it. I was throwing up from shaking but rarely and I was able to hide it. I asked one of my house mates and a DABC collective members what she thought. I let her know I was worried and that it was starting to feel like my anxiety was something I wasn’t able to control. She laughed and said, “Smoke more weed!”  I smiled because I understand it is hard to know what to do in such a situation. 

I then turned to my partner at the time, Zach, and let him know how badly my anxiety was and let him know I was having a lot of trouble with it. I had let him know that my anxiety revolves around the anniversary of me being sodimized in the baracks by a soldier who was a patient of mine. I told him how I was unable to report the assualt because my NCO(guy in charge of me) was currently propositoning me daily to have an affair with him behind his wife’s back.  He had some better offers for support and we began talking about my IUD and about detoxing my body. He offered that his mother knew an herbologist that might be able to evaluate me. This sounded like a great plan and I was hopeful. At the same time I was attempting to make my appointments I was realizing that the insurance I was covered by was all discombobulated since it was through the military and would take some time to rectify. Because of this we put off the berbal route until my IUD was removed. Another complication arose at this time which was the fact that my mind is also completely disorganized by the physicality of my anxiety. At this time, there were entire days I would stay in my home and cry, being completely unable to function. My entire community was aware of how debilitated I was, but instead of seeing a human deteriorating they saw an inconvinience. No one had enough TIME for this. So I stayed in and offered to watch the children and clean to contribute. One night I was home with my son and my house mates daughter making dinner and cleaning when Zach came home and started talking about going out. Obviously, I was unable to go out as I was tending to things in the house.  He continued pushing his need to go out and I said, “Fine! Cause I need space from you anyhow.” I was upset about him going out because he had offered to help watch the children and doing so is always more fun with more adults. He did not stop and he did not go out. We began yelling at each other and at one point my son walked up and asked us to stop arguing. Zach bent down and told my son that his mommy was a bad mommy. I then asked Zach to step outside and I punched him in the face after about 10 minutes of wrestling and Zach saying, “Do it. Hit me.” and I do not take it back for a second. No one says things like that to my child. There is a ton of twisted psychological shit that was happening there that needs to be accounted for and it still to this day has yet to be discussed. The next day we had an ABC meeting and Josie let me know that if I had been punched in the face by Zach the situation would be much different(We will later realize this is not true.) but I understand the dominent social dynamics Josie was referencing.  I let her know that I felt extremely psychologically abused in the environment I was in and she offered to talk some time.

Through December, my anxiety became much worse, and still I was offered over and over to smoke to get past it. Everyone was busy with their own families and I already know from childhood how low of a priority I am and so I stayed in my house and stayed quiet as much as possible.  I waited on my insurance to be valid. Dave and Josie began saying that they had support to offer but I was afraid to share my story with people I barely knew(rightfully so in hind sight). But when I did realize that no one in my communal house was able to provide any form of support I opened up to Dave and Josie and sat with them to hear what kind of support they had to offer. I went and spoke to Josie about where I was and what was happening and she offered that I disconnect from the people negatively effecting me and find a place of my own for Jordan and I. Something that is easy to say, but takes months to make possible considering 1. we as a communal house had positoned our lives so that financially and logistically we couldn’t work without each other. We had small low hour jobs that covered our peice. We shared child care and often vehicles, which is theoretically a beautiful picture. The problem being half of the house found no obligation to contribute financially or communally. Something I took on myself for the remainder of the commitment when everyone decided we shouldn’t live together, which harks back to how I do actively contribute to my community through everything.

 On New Years night I put on the happiest face I had and was excited at a chance to hang out with people in my community in laid back ways. On the way to the party I sent out a bunch of messages about being excited to see everyone and I recieved replies to pick up beer on the way with no other responses. I started realizing that there really wasn’t much interaction where I felt liked at all. I brought this up to Zach on the way and lost any touch I had with the happy face I was prepared to present. I cried the whole way out and told him I felt horrible. I brushed myself up and was like, “Oh well, at least we brought the beer.” and made an attempt to go inside. Zach said he wouldn’t go inside if he knew I was pretending and I reasoned that there really was nothing we could do now anyway.  Still, my anxiety went nuts. My body shook and my stomach turned. I told him to go in and I’d just leave because I looked like a fool anyhow. Fed up with me, he went inside. I began to fully feel my worthlessness at this point. It sunk in. I began to leave and realized Zach had no ride home. My phone had died and so I drove back and went inside and said, “I realized Zach doesn’t have a ride home and would only be able to ride back with Jim, who has been extremely aggressive towards Zach lately. My phone’s off. Zach do you need a ride?” Meanwhile, the rest of the near 10 adults standing around looked at me blankly and made no movement, even though they were aware of my current struggle and could visably see how hard I had been crying. I went and waited in the car for Zach and cried more. The next morning there was another meeting for ABC. I spent the night on the phone with my son’s father keeping him up to date on my mental status. He suggested I go to the emergency room since no one seemed available in anyway. I watched all of the folks in my house leave for the meeting and kept my crying as quiet as possible as I had been told that the people in my home were flat out not interested in supporting me at this time. I walked myself to the emergency room as I spent most of the night contemplating how to kill myself in order to stop bothering those around me and not pass my worthlessness down to my son. I kept Zach informed of my where abouts and my current state. I pretty much just cried hysterically in the ER until I was told I was being admitted. I sat in a room for hours waiting and then I went through the same bio-psycho-social process I myself had administered several times. Zach finished his meeting and came to try to see me. My other house mates said they , “don’t go to hospitals.” And I didn’t hear anything from DABC. I spent the night in a bed with chains and straps on all four corners. When Zach finally did come in to visit he looked at the place and said, “How could you do this to me?! How could you admit yourself to this cage?!” and the staff asked him to leave and gave me a sedative and when I woke in the morning, I asked to leave, even more ashamed than before. I went home and was in really really bad shape. My son’s father sent my son to my sister’s house because my house was not good for him and it wasn’t. Even beyond my psychological state half the house wasn’t offering rent but they were boarding their friend from back in Detroit none the less. I really didn’t even know how long I could keep my home for my son, on top of everything. Josie and Dave asked me to come over to talk and I found a time that worked for their hectic schedules and went to talk to them again. Dave did not acknowlege me beyond hello and Josie told me about welfare and how I need to get more child support from my son’s father to be able to move out and also reiderated how busy everyone was. I asked her to put out a line in whatever networks she could to find a home for my son and I. I began realizing at this point that offers for help weren’t actually offers for help but an obligation of those that surround those in need. Josie knows me and knows that I don’t actually have access to any social welfare and that Jordan’s father contributes in ways that are appropriate for him and that he shouldn’t have to give me more money because a group of people within our collective had financially screwed me over. I let her know these things aagin and let her know I would continue moving forward in the ways I knew how. Dave’s only interaction from that point forward was awkwardly asking me if I was ok and telling me that I needed a lot of help. At one point while helping put up walls for the community space in the basement Dave said while joking about mussle safety with a nail gun, “How could we ever trust you with a weapon with all the craziness you’ve been creating.” ummmm, what? We had a meeting where the collective suggested mediation between all of the people who lived in my communal house Zach, Cat, Jim and I. Jim was out. Cat and I both refused. I had no time to mediate when I was facing being homeless with a 4 year old(later this decision would be held against me.)

The next month or so included me figuring out the logistics of having a home for my son. Anxiety had no priority, even to myself. My friend Sarah came out from Virginia and spent time walking this road with me. Just finding a place was overwhelming. Seeing the ways my anxiety negatively effected others and the ways it comprimised Zach so heavily I pushed him to move into the 27 center even though he repeatedly told me how this was me pushing him away and attempting to hurt him and that he didn’t want to live anywhere without me. Little did I know that at this time there was a pregnant radical minded woman on her way to Denver to move to the 27 center and have her child, who Josie and Dave ended up “not liking” and so her room was given to Zach. Sarah is amazing and she helped me find a place that has offered me solace during this time. Jordan and I exist in a room with two beds and about 3 feet of walking room, but it works for now. Definatly does not help with my depression in anyway, but it works. When I drove to New York to visit my son at the end of Sarah’s stay, I stopped in Pittsburgh to visit an old friend, actually from FWT’s ironically. This friend is male and someone I have constant sexual tension with. Zach became very worried and had trouble with me visiting him. Nothing sexual happened whatso ever but I told Zach that maybe he should pursue building stronger plutonic relationships and reach out to other women if he felt the need.

After Zach moved into the 27 center he began realizing the magnitude of his mactivism. We ended up falling into a 3some that ended up being “my fault” as well as the abuse I recieved when I asked the activities to stop. I apparently am the only one that made the 3some happen, Zach was an innocent bystander to my debouchery. It all felt wrong and I removed myself from the situation. When I went out to the livingroom to sleep on the couch Zach came out to tell me how I ruin everything. He spoke less than an inch from my face and told me how pathetic I was and I slapped him across the face and said, “Get away!” . This is when he grabbed my wrists and held them over my head, popping my shoulder out of it’s socket. After he let go I grabbed my keys and tried to leave as quickly as possible. He chased me to the downstairs and said I wasn’t allowed to leave. I punched him and ran out the door. It was raining and I had been drinking so I sat in my car. He came out and told me how I should come back up and we should work through it all together. After a little while of back and forth I went back upstairs. When I entered the room the other girl had her arms open and said she was so sorry for ignoring my request and she held me and brushed my hair out of the way.  Zach did not continue any conversation and held her through the night. The next morning we woke and hide any sign of trouble since everyone was already sick of my anxiety. I went to meetings and kept my mouth shut and I waited til later to talk to Zach when no one could see.  We talked and cried and he apologized saying his penis just takes over. I apologized too.  I took pictures of the bruises on my wrists that lasted weeks, but I didn’t show anyone because Zach said I made him look bad.

I spent the time there after trying to speak only of the ways I was improving. Jordan and I were at the center often and I tried to contribute and work within the community in the healthiest ways possible. My anxiety was in really bad shape. I was throwing up almost regularly. I then went out to coffee with Josie who informed me how when Zach moved into the space the community was weary about me being around too much and asked him what he thought. Zach told them I would be around barely ever, even though simultaniously he was moving in toys for Jordan and asking to become a more serious role in coparenting. Josie let me know that Jordan’s presence was too much for Micah and that I should limit the times that Jordan is around the space to help Micah’s development. After hearing this I tried to oblige. I stayed at my house as much as possible. Zach still wanted to see me everyday and every night, which I also wanted. This caused a lot of tension in our relationship. Zach began seeing a woman from a dating site and they were hitting it off. I liked her a ton too. I supported their relationship, even at one point helping save a date with her by helping him figure out where she lived. At this point I was trying to process my anxiety, get more hours at work to cover Jordan and I’s life and investing myself more in DABC to actually contribute on political levels as well as social, and attempting to traverse polyamory so that Zach would not feel suffocated. There had been several dates and nights out with friends and coffee dates and things that I had canceled because Zach wanted to be with me and/or babysitting for me(which I’d call part of his coparenting obligation) was not convinient for him. He told me he wasn’t very interested in Brianna and felt that with my trouble with anxiety maybe now wasn’t the time for him to branch out anyhow. I had plans to get out and relax and a family that I used to nanny for ended up having a benefit for the husband and father of the families cancer. I immediatly dropped plans and offered to sit for them. This translated as an opening for Zach to have Brianna over. When I spoke up and said that was inconsistant with the story he was giving me he canceled on her. The next night Zach was supposed to watch Jordan as well, but the situation with Brianna came to a head and he stayed in and had her over instead. He texted me through the night and told me how he was uncomfortable with her being there and he wished I was there instead. I told him that I was going to read my son a bedtime story and go to bed and that I wasn’t coming over that night. The next morning was DABC’s cakewalk, which I attempted to participate in as well as I could. I woke up feeling good that morning so it wasn’t too hard. I also missed everyone and Jordan was going to get to see Kylie who he misses everyday. I showed up and Zach asked me to walk with him. He was acting extremely emotional, which didn’t make sense to me because our fight the night before wasn’t too bad and last I knew he missed me intensly. The whole cake walk Zach talked to me about marriage and how he only ever wanted me and he tried to kiss me and touch me and clung to my side. It was nice but confusing. When I went to leave Zach asked me to stay but Jordan was already riling Micah up and everyone was getting ready for a punk show which I know nothing about. So I left and as I drove away Zach threw a letter in my car. I got home alone with Jordan and read the letter. I could hardly believe my eyes. After two years of processing what it meant to be in a poly relationship between Zach and I, it was a letter telling me he had slept with Brianna and that he knows he ruined our relationship and then continued to list the ways he has comprimised and disrespected me and how I deserve to be endlessly angry. I began cleaning my house and pre-occupying anyway possible. I got a hold of Zach and kept asking him how he could have left me alone with this with my son. He said he felt no remorse and that he was at a show. I started throwing up first in the kitchen but then made it to the bathroom where I vomited and cried. I had locked Jordan out of the bathroom so he would not have to see me like that but I couldn’t stop and he was done playing with every toy in the house. He sat with me in the bathroom and rubbed my back. I apologized to him and talked to him about how he shouldn’t have to see this. He kept telling me that it was ok but that he was scared. I let Zach know Jordan was scared. Zach was calling but I was vomiting so I couldn’t answer. Jordan answered and I told Jordan to tell Zach that he was scared, like he had been telling me. At some point I had found a knife and was talking to Jordan about suicide and why I felt it was necessary for me at that point. Zach apparently borrowed a car after talking to Jordan and came to the house. By the time he had gotten there I was crying in my housemates bed with Jordan and letting him watch TV so he didn’t have to witness me. Zach came into the house at the same time that Josie called. I told her I wasn’t doing well but kept a lot to myself knowing how she felt about me and knowing how comprimised the whole 27 center felt by me. I did feel like I was pulling it together. I had gotten Jordan food and got him in fornt of the TV. I screamed at Zach telling him to get the fuck out because I felt endlessly betrayed by him. I told Josie I couldn’t take the way he treated me anymore and sent her the picture of my wrists. He left without question. I followed him out and brought a bottle of tequilla and drank half of it in front of him as he drove away to show him that I acknowleged my worhtlessness. I then put Jordan to bed, texted facebook that Zach had fucked Brianna and fell asleep. I woke the next day feeling worse than ever. I contacted Josie and Dave immediatly and told them I needed help. They let me know that that morning they were busy and I let them know it was bad. Zach would only communicate with me sparadically and told me that I should reach out to Patrick who I have little to no background with. I continued texting Zach, Josie and Dave frantically, endlessly. My ex-husband was on his way into town and he brought Jordan and I out to breakfast. I continued vomiting all morning and attributed it to the tequilla. I asked Jeff to bring me to the space to remove all of my belongings. When I arrived, Jeff wasn’t allowed into the space and Josie accompanied me as I collected things. When I asked Dave what time the meeting was that day, he didn’t even look in my direction and mumbled, “Don’t you have your own shit to deal with?” Zach was welcome at the meeting. I went back and asked Jeff to take Jordan somewhere nice and I got in my car with several different knives and I drove somewhere sunny to slit my wrists. I thought, “This is it. This is perfect. Jordan is safe. My community hates me. My partner degraded me in everyway know to man. It’s time.”

and I sat and cried and I pushed the blades into my wrists. I sawed at my wrists right down the vien and it WOULD NOT CUT. No matter how hard I tried. I hated myself for being a failure. It cut only enough to show my patheticness. I told Dave before I started cutting myself that I wouldn’t be going to the meeting. He replied and said, “Whether you come or not, we are having a meeting about you.” From my conversation with Josie while I was cleaning my things I had collected that the meeting would be about Zach and I, if not the same meeting we had planned from before which was a workshop on community(ha.).  After I was unsuccessful in slitting my wrist and realized Jeff would be dropping Jordan off at 27 soon, I went to the meeting. It was the first time I saw Zach since he had thrown the letter in my car. I was shaking and my thoughts were going a thousand miles per hour. Josie came up to me and took time to look me in the eyes and said, “I am glad you’re here.” I really couldn’t even respond to her at that point.  Zach came to sit beside me and I started spasming and moved quickly. I couldn’t look at him without almost vomiting. I wanted to scream, “Fuck you!” on the top of my lungs. I instead flipped him off and gave him filthy looks and shook. Josie led the meeting and said that the plan was that we both have time to say our peice while the other was out of the room. I felt no trust in this process. I felt no trust in anyone. I said I don’t feel comfortable with that and tried to peice together sentences to say I felt backed into a wall and silenced. I was told that everyone was listening and that there was no wall I was being backed into. Whitney said, “Abusers often feel silenced. It’s just suprising that the gender roles are switched here.” Cat, my old house mate, looked at me like a human, which was wild since we had not yet mended our relationship. She said, “If we don’t have time for this now, when will we have time for this?” I finally agreed to what was planned after being told how difficult I was. I went to the downstairs stairwell and cried. I waited a long time and Josie came down to say that Zach had also been asked to leave and that everyone was just planning on diliberating as much as they could on what they already heard. I flipped and said that’s assinign because no one had heard any of what I was going through. Josie then let me know of her abusive past and told me how, as an abuser, I was triggering her and she was at her wits end. (Wait, so you already decided I am an abuser too. This is actually an intervention on how I am the abuser?!) I told her, “whatever”. Really what the hell could I say there? Apparently, Josie went back to the meeting and asked someone else to lead. Also, apparently, a lot of other people’s shit came out, because “I triggered them”. So Zach and I were asked to return and told that it had been decided that Zach and I both step back and get help. Whitney had some “radical leads” that would take a week or so for her to gather. Everyone commited to reaching out to both of us. Dave expressed how sick of this he was and how he wished he could just organize alone to not deal with this. He said how I have refused all help and he was fed up. I later found out I wasn’t really welcome back at the space. I went to work on myself and began seeing a counselor and psychiatrist immediatly. At Jordan’s school I got a counselor and went to counseling with him. I started going to yoga and meditation and actually, well, started documenting my work here.  Which you can browse through at your leisure. I had little to no help with Jordan from this point forward. I got a couple days of work covered by Josie and some other collective members. The same days that were supposed to be covered by Zach in his attempts to become more serious about coparenting. Outside of covering my work shifts there was little offers.  Since I was not welcome at the space Jordan lost all contact with his friends. Days became survival and I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t. I threw up everything and cried in bed for weeks. I lashed out at everyone. It was all I could do. I threw up more. I attempted suicide in everyway I could figure out. I researched it often. I seriously suck at suicide. I didn’t want anyone else to see how worthless I was. Patrick and Clayton met me out for coffee once a peice. You could see the story they already had typed up written about me all over their face. At least they tried. I didn’t feel comfortable going back again. Zach was invited out everywhere and encouraged to meet new people and date. Since he lives in the space he was updated on every meeting there after. He was assigned an accountability partner and they partied often. He would contact me secretly and tell me how much he missed me and that he wished I’d realize how big of a monster I was. He told me everyday how he could see I wasn’t making any progress that he knew I wasn’t even trying. He never made an appointment. He never researched his own mental illness or how to support mine. When he would sneak to my house at night to sleep with me he would tell me how that was a favor he was doing. That was friendship. At work he would be sweet to me and talk about our forever, that he believed in it but it couldn’t happen right now because I destroyed or community.

After contacting Whitney several times, she informed me that her radical lines of support had fallen through, but that she could find a mainstream provider. I told her I was already seeing a main stream provider and I thanked her.

After a morning where I brought Jordan to school and spent literally his entire day at school vomiting, I started contacting Zach telling him I needed someone. That I was afraid. I told him I was coming over for the last few things that were at his place, really I was afraid to go back home alone with Jordan. That is the day I freaked out at the community space. I made no sense. I screamed. I pleaded. I left alone. I kept Jeff updated as always. He came and ended up spending the weekend with us. Jeff is so kind. I still have a hard time putting sentences together with him. I wish it was easier. Dillon called and said he had heard me break down at the space, he said he knew how the collective members could be cornering and overwhelming. I appreciated him.

At one point on the way to work,  Zach talked about how he planned to present his plan to the collective that Sunday and no one minded. I said, “What plan?!” He said, “I don’t actually have to have anything accomplished yet, just tell them what I plan to do in the future.”

I emailed the collective and told them I planned to present too. I was asked not to present. It was the same weekend everyone was supporting Amelia Nicol.

The next weekend I was contacted by Clayton who let me know that the collective wanted documentation from my counselor to verify my commitment to healing. The same counselor who gave me samples of anti-deppressants within ten minutes of meeting her and sat in front of boxes and boxes of others. The same one who said, “These are the same symptoms many soldiers are experiencing. It’s called PTSD and we have anger managment classes.” The same anger management classes I lead myself for 4 years. I told Clayton “Fuck you.” Patrick texted. I told Patrick, “Fuck you.” Clayton listened to a lot of my anxious word vomit and kept saying, “I want to help. How do I help?” It makes sense no one wants to work with you, but I’d still like to be your friend.” I told him there obviously wasn’t help. I didn’t know where to guide him. What am I supposed to say? If you the stable person watching me deteriorate doesn’t know what to do, how the hell am I the person who can barely make sure I take enough showers to be decent going to tell you how to help me?

I kept emailing him my thoughts. It was the best I could function.

No. After nearly 6 weeks of isolation and break down and hard fucking work, I did not want to plead my case to a community who felt I was obliged to hold the role of the abuser.

There was one girl, Abigal. She is bad ass and also processing a seperation, much different then mine, but she never judged me. I could actually speak and be listened to by her. I wasn’t a monster to her.

Abigal, Peter and Shiloh(my house mates) became my life line and they had no idea. I could put some sentences together with them. I kept up with meetings and got books and audio tapes. I am crawling out.

I was going to reference Josie and Dave’s comments but they have already deleted them. I get that I’m a monster.

I don’t want to be worthless anymore.

I kept thinking this was all going to make sense soon. Zach never stopped telling me he loved me and missed me and Jordan. We started only communicating in sexual fantasy through text. Even that got old. He and I just kept getting worse. Last Wednesday at work, I asked him to come to my IUD appointment with me as support since I’d have Jordan and I was paranoid something was wrong with my uterous. He went home with some co-workers and had a little party on the way and was unable to communicate effectively with me but kept saying he didn’t want to hang up, that he missed me so much. At one point he put me on mute out of no where and I heard Dave speaking. He was hiding me from Dave. When he got back on the phone I said, “Dave doesn’t know you’re talking to me?!” and he said, “No one does. I’m ashamed of you.” I told him I was going to tell everyone he was lying and hiding me. He told me he’d hate me if I told anyone, really he already did hate me to be able to treat me that way. I blocked his number the next morning.

All the help I am getting continuously reinforces how the point of break down I am at makes sense. That most people that have the history I have, end up the way I am. I don’t understand if it is so common, why in radical communities we are not researching it together.  I don’t understand a lot of things. I can’t type anymore.

This is my story.


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  1. I also sent this email to the collective on the 7th of may and recieved no reply.
    “Hello Collective,

    As of the meeting tomorrow, it will be one month since zach and I were asked to step back.

    I want to check in for a couple different reasons. First, I am curious what the status is with Zach and I and the collective. What does our membership look like and has there been any talk about a process to re-evaluate where everyone is?

    Second, I would like to fill everyone in a little on where I am at. There have been a couple people stepping up to chat with me over coffee and a couple who have been helping fill in a parenting role here and there. I am endlessly thankful for this. School will be ending for Jordan soon and I have found some nice nanny-like options where everything will be covered. One of the most rage inducing parts of this whole ordeal has been talking Jordan through all the ways he misses ABC and his whole community of friends. It is heart breaking, but the times that people have spent time with him have been helping him as much as me. I personally, feel heavily isolated and at a disadvantage on mending relationships in the collective just because of the obvious reason that Zach lives at the center and has a story that many other people in the collective can relate to.

    Unfortunately, in many ways, I am not doing well at all. I understand that the triggering event here that began all of this is a little vague for most people. It is impossible to get into it here. Either way, I have been sliding downhill to gross extremes. I have little ability to control my rage and feel suffocated and isolated. Today, I spoke with Whitney who talked to me about how my rage is, for a lack of better terms, a turn off to everyone. I comprehend this and I apologize to everyone for that. I have been very hungry for the outside support that was presented as a way the collective can support Zach and I. The little I have heard on it, it seems like some leads have fell through. In the meantime, I have begun seeing a regular main stream provider to help me manage my rage. I have also been trying to contact other people and get out of my house more to give me some space for my mind to breathe. This is rare since my community has shrunk so significantly.

    I have been contemplating the necessity of me leaving the collective altogether as to not interfere with future work and not be a cancer to those that surround me. I struggle with this decision heavily. One, I theoretically love this work and feel I haven’t shown what I’ve got in any way due to many things and I still have a very deep desire to participate. Two, I feel like a large part of this story is not being heard that permeates many parts of the collective’s work. I comprehend and own how my communication style has made it more difficult for this story to be heard but I think it damaging to limit our analysis of our current situation to me. Three, I feel this so much IS our work. I am from so many of the realms we resist against. I am prior military which means I am also prior the biggest capitalist you can find, because military culture is capitalistic culture. I am a mother who stepped away from that to pursue a more holistically empowering life for myself and all those that surround me. I have a really trashy family background. Two alcoholic parents and every form of abuse out there. But I am here. Attempting to not continue that, just like all of you. We need a place in our work where we step back and look at the negative things we are bringing into this work and continuously work towards making them positive. I don’t think any of us are healed from the damaging habits we have been taught.

    I have also seriously considered moving away because of the depths of heart break I am processing outside of the way my own behavior effects people. I am very reluctant because I don’t want to run away. I want this exact kind of growth. That is why I am passionate about social struggle. I want it on a group level too.

    Months ago I spent a lot of time researching collectives and how they process accountability. I didn’t have much luck. I found endless literature on how to intervene when sexual assault is accuring but not much practical day to day practices relating to interpersonal conflict. I read a lot about collectives just deciding to split in different forms. This crossroad that the collective is at feels extremely habitual across the board in society.

    There is a reality to these situations when someone is identified as a pariah of a group. There is a sense of comradery that grows around the dislike of that person. The trouble is, when that person leaves or is successfully caste away, much of the contributing factors that made that position accessible to that person still exist. As much as there is patterns in me that isolate me, there are patterns in this collective that hone the demographic that stick around.

    Ok this is already exceptionally long winded. I apologize. I don’t have time to talk about this much.
    Again, I want to apologize to everyone for the ways I have hurt anyone or slowed our work down with my exaggeratedly negative coping mechanisms. I hope you can see here that I am trying in my own time in whatever ways I can.

    with hope,

    Comment by raven0us — June 7, 2011 @ 12:15 am

  2. For a community who is supposed to be so progressive and forward-thinking, it seems like there was a lot of judgement tossed around. I wasn’t there, so I don’t pretend to have a clear view of what happened, but from what you’ve written it sounds like it was just a group of people who needed someone to demonize. And I really don’t think it is anyone’s place to decide what is going on with you and Zach’s relationship. Specifically, I am talking about you being the “abuser”, because from what you’ve said, it seems more as if youse abuse each other. You two have one of the most obviously complicated relationships I have ever witnessed, neither of you know whats going on half the time, how can anyone else expect to? And even if my assumptions are wrong and you are, in fact, the big bad wolf…you don’t just call someone out like that. That is NOT a beneficial way to deal with someone who is unstable.

    I’m sorry you went through all this, I’m sorry any of you did. I am especially sorry you felt so alone during that time. I hope you’re doing better now, or at least starting to.

    Comment by Dani — June 7, 2011 @ 1:17 am

  3. I thought I might want to follow this blog site for awhile because I felt the writing was good, but after this blog, I kinda lost my interest…thought you should know.

    Comment by KaxantheDragon — June 7, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

  4. Reality number 1: I do not write my blog to be followed. I write my blog seeking open, raw, smack you in the face with genuine responses. So. Thank you for the time we’ve shared.

    Comment by raven0us — June 8, 2011 @ 2:18 am

  5. Lesley….it is so good to see that the truth is finally out!

    You need to take a step back and see the whole forest and your role within that forest, not just the few trees that you have decided are stunting your own growth. When a forest is out of balance, it does not stop producing life, but rather creates a lesser quality of life for all living organisms within it.

    The way that you use your son for emotional blackmail is disturbing, and the knowledge that he is alone with you is deeply concerning. I have seen you take out your agression on him, and all you are doing is instilling your unhealthy coping mechanisms in him. Putting your son in front of a television and believing he is safer there than with you is neglectful. You have said that you feel you are an unfit mother, so stop having jordan in your possession and stop using him to play victim. Please keep my daughters name out of your fucking blog, she is an innocent in all of this and I do not want her mentioned.

    Your story is your truth, and it is good to know what that looks like, since you are really good at lying, playing up to people’s emotions, and apparently conveniently changing facts within your own mind. You are unstable, you are now documented as such (PTSD), and I want nothing to do with you. You are a threat to my safety, and my family’s safety, and as you have so willingly pointed out, feeling safe is a very important factor in all life situations.

    You ridicule and criticize others for not helping you and not just accepting you for who you are, yet you are passing the biggest judgements, you are determining who acted right and wrong, and you are taking it upon yourself to lash out at those of us who put up with your fucking bullshit more than anybody else would. DABC is a collective of people dedicated to prisoner support. Nobody ever pretended to have the capacity to deal with intense internal and interpersonal shit. Just like fightwithtools, these groups of people are not promising you anything. We all love, and we all hate, there is only so much that people can take. If you never internalize these critiques than you are expecting everything to come from an external source, which is simply unsustainable for all parties involved. I have remained silent through much of this, mostly because I felt like I would be wasting my time, and feared that it would result in physical injury to those I love. I see you as a threat, and I can’t really believe that you are continuing with this.

    I did not refuse mediation in the meeting, you solely did that. I did not only tell you to smoke weed, I told you to practice breathing, which wasn’t a viable option option for you. And…amazingly enough, I told you then that I would consider getting off of any kind of birth control. It amazes me that you will demonize the use of marijuana, yet willingly comply with the use of pharmaceuticals. Who is the oppressive force here? I am not going to publicly debate issues that happened within our communal living situation, those who know us both mutually understand, and the slander you produce just makes you seem less and less credible.

    By the way….you were never accused of being an “abuser”, the word used was “perpetrator”…as a person who prides themselves on words, usage, and their meanings, I would have expected you to at least represent that detail correctly. If you were open to public mediation, this all could have been dealt with, but of course, that was not possible because the actual truth may have come out and it might not have painted you as the victim.

    You are the darkest person I know that is not addicted to some heavy drugs, and I honestly believe your conscience is on hiatus…possibly permanently.

    Comment by Catherine Keffer — June 8, 2011 @ 5:06 am

    • Holy shit someone finally spoke!

      Thank you thank you thank you!

      Avoidance doesn’t work!

      Maybe just maybe if for one second you were a real human during our interaction we could have gotten passed this! This is actually the first time you’ve said this.


      and yes, television is better then watching his mother vomit and break down but thank you for completely missing that portion of the story! and if you believe my parenting is damaging MAYBE JUST MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE SHAMED ME WHEN HE HAD TO GO TO NEW YORK AND INSTEAD YOU COULD HAVE TALKED TO ME ABOUT HOW IT WAS HEALTHY AND ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN A FRIEND TO ME!!!!!!

      You refused mediation. You’re a bare faced passive ass lier and you know it. When they asked if we would sit down and talk, you wouldn’t answer. You stared at me until I answered and the said yea.

      Thank you for still to this day judging me for the medication even though you offered NO support. And you’re right Catherine. The collective did not sign up for this! I also did not sign up for PTSD. But YOU did sign up to be my family and make it through everything. You commuted to our house and TOOK all that it meant to be family, BUT GAVE NOTHING.

      I actually specifically don’t pride myself on words. I pride myself on speaking. That’s it. SPEAKING. Having a voice. and I am damn glad I do, because your judgments and neglect and condemnation are written all over this response.

      And I don’t think I have any trouble admitting my darkness, failure and shortcomings. How could I?! lol It’s all that’s been pointed out for MY ENTIRE EXISTENCE.

      Comment by raven0us — June 8, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

    • cat, i wasnt going to be an asshole right back at you but i am feeling too enraged. it wont accomplish anything, but your poison needs to be called out. talk about slander.

      first off, stop all this shit about being an unfit mother and being scared for jordan. when i was staying with lesley you had no problem leaving your daughter in her care, no problem avoiding your parental responsibilities in the mornings so you could stay up late and sleep in. if you’d really believed the things you seem to be sharing here, i doubt you would’ve so willingly let lesley watch your daughter. so what’s the truth cat?

      and youre perfectly right to fear for your safety. but not because lesley was a physical threat to you and your family, but because she threatens your sheltered sense of reality. she called you out on your shit, and we all have our shit. which is why its funny that you point out that DABC is a group that does prisoner support work, that no one ever said anything about interpersonal shit. so you’re comfortable in a group that does something symbolic to support others but not something that actually deals with the traumatic culture we live in and breaks down those walls between us. you feel mostly safe when you can do something that looks cool but doesnt actually address any root problems? makes sense to me, given everything else i witnessed about you. “like fightwithtools, these groups arent promising you anything” what kind of a useful movement is thaT? where is the progress in groups that focus on their cool fucking issues but dont promise any support to the people that support them? sounds like a world of radical automatons that throw around angry slogans and are as bad as the people theyre shouting down. but i get that thats where youre comfortable.

      yuck. as i write i feel the hatefulness you inspired draining out of me. you’re right. we all love and we all hate. there was a time when i was going to write you and jim a love letter, reaching out across what i thought was fear of your own shit, but i stopped myself because i couldnt trust that y’all would receive it with self criticality. what are you internalizing in all of this cat? where can you own your own role? can you own any of your shit? or are you claiming some flawlessness in this?

      thats all i got. its out, that venom, and it feels better. you can bring it back at me. dont worry, i can take your shit.

      sara tansey

      Comment by Sara Tansey — June 13, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

  6. I believe this really says it all.

    “I have remained silent through much of this, mostly because I felt like I would be wasting my time, and feared that it would result in physical injury to those I love.”

    and if you think mental health support, SPECIFICALLY MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT WITH AGGRESSIVE AND DANGEROUS PEOPLE, is not a GIGANTIC PORTION of prisoner support. You’re frankly out of your gourd.

    But good job over throwing the police state and yet running from exactly why people default to it.

    but YOUR family. protect YOUR family.

    Comment by raven0us — June 8, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  7. I don’t know if you noticed, but I don’t want to move forward with the same patterns I am currently living.

    BUT I need people that believe I can do it around me. NOT people who decided I can’t make it and that I am a waste of time and instead talk shit behind my back while they smile in my face and say they’d “like to help”.

    I believe in myself.

    I put all of this out there so that I have to face me. So that we all have to face each other.

    Because all the entire collective has been doing is hiding. Even when we were face to face, YOU primarily included.

    Honestly, me. You are physically threatened by me.

    We should have a controlled fist fight just so you can scale what you are saying back to reality and deal with me like a human again.

    I apologize that I actually came from a trashy ass place where people actually fist fought to mediate and that swinging is a default, but that DOES NOT make me an abusive monster like you are projecting. I do not deserve condemnation. I do not deserve what you are saying and this is specifically why I am blowing the collective up. You don’t treat someone like this, especially when you can’t say it to their face and deal with it.

    Afraid is not an excuse.

    Comment by raven0us — June 8, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  8. Lesley, you are an amazing person. You are a beautiful part of this world. You and your actions impact others more than you could ever imagine. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life. You are, and always will be in my thoughts.

    Comment by shaun — June 8, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  9. Hi Leslye,
    I would like to comment on this part:
    “There is a reality to these situations when someone is identified as a pariah of a group. There is a sense of comradery that grows around the dislike of that person. The trouble is, when that person leaves or is successfully caste away, much of the contributing factors that made that position accessible to that person still exist. As much as there is patterns in me that isolate me, there are patterns in this collective that hone the demographic that stick around.”

    -This is very true in that the collective needs to re-evaluate themselves when they turn someone away. A person in need that was an active member needs to be worked with and not shunned away. If the collective tells people to leave whenever there is conflict, then how are they going to grow from it? It sounds more like a club from middle school. If this pattern of telling people to go get help somewhere else exists, then why do they have a “community health clinic”?

    Comment by Abigail — June 9, 2011 @ 12:12 am

  10. And, how brave of you to share your story, thank you.

    Comment by Abigail — June 9, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  11. Lesley,

    Since you want people to write on your blog, and for my own sake of saying my peace so I can put this ridiculousness aside and focus on what’s dearest to my heart, here is my two cents…

    While I honestly have put relatively little to no effort in following your online shit-talking campaign, I have taken the time to read and reflect on your epic post.

    What can I say about the beginning? That was my first time hearing your story as a survivor and the words cut into my heart like a knife. You clearly have much healing a head of you and while I know you probably don’t believe me, I genuinely wish you peace and hope you are able to stitch the remains of yourself together.

    Your actions beginning around New Year’s and escalating up to this blog post have burned bridges from a group of people who have cared for you. The rest of the blog post, which covers in depth this time period, has reinforced my perspective that your demons have created havoc on your life and many people around you.

    As far as I am concerned, you chose to leave Denver ABC and the community of people involved in it. At no time did we collectively come to the decision that you were “exiled” from us. We made the decision, as a political organization and a community of friends, that we did not want to be dragged into your downward spiral any more. Instead beginning to lift yourself out of that spiral, you chose to follow it further down.

    Our logic around the accountability process is still something I stand by confidently. That logic is this: 1. After what happened that night of the Subhumans show, Denver ABC had to do something to address what was escalating between you and Zach, it was not something we can just ignore. 2. We had, and still have, no fucking clue what to do with such a complex, sensitive dynamic. 3. Thus we, as a group of people who care about you, wanted you to get help from someone much better equipped than us.

    We asked you, as well as Zach, to step back from core organizing (much different from exiling from our community) because we are involved in work that could bring upon very serious consequences when two allies are in such extreme, unstable emotional states. By stepping back, this would increase our capacity to support you because we wouldn’t have our own immediate safety as a concern.

    This leads me to another thread I would like weave in: that we plugged our ears to your cries. Your own post sheds light on just how much we opened our arms to support you. The two most notable moments for me were “I had little to no help with Jordan from this point forward. I got a couple days of work covered by Josie and some other collective members” and “Patrick texted. I told Patrick, ‘Fuck you.’” And you didn’t just text, you texted me “Fuck you” and then sent me several more equally ugly text messages. I am also aware of many instances of us trying our best to support you that seemed to have not made it on your blog.

    However, another important thing I want to let you know is that we have every right to self-care. Dave and Joise have every right to set boundaries, especially in their own home. Denver ABC, as a policital organization, has every right to create a space to deal with the urgent situation of Amelia facing up to 90 years in prison. To place an expectation that we are wholly capable of giving you all the help you need is unrealistic. Not only that, but as someone with experience on being on both sides of a relationship between an addict and someone being abused by them, setting boundaries and taking care of yourself is extremely important. (Which on a side note I want point out the absurdity of DABC being a group just trying to “cleanse” itself from people carrying heavy baggage. In our collective there are self-identified survivors as well as abusers, and we have to navigate this complex terrain on a daily basis.)

    I want to conclude by letting you know that the way you are currently interacting with me, the housing collective, and DABC is fucked up and needs to stop. You are being antagonistic towards us and that not only is a barrier to us reconciling our fuck ups but also to your own healing. Voicing your story is one thing but harassing people through text, facebook, and blogs is entirely different.

    Comment by Patrick — June 9, 2011 @ 2:44 am

    • Thank you for beginning with how ridiculous this is Patrick. Perhaps, just perhaps, my fear of never being taken seriously is valid? Cause I have been called ridiculous every step of the way, hens the elitism in the title.

      “has reinforced my perspective that your demons have created havoc on your life and many people around you.”

      “my demons”? Patrick?
      “reinforced my perspective”?
      Please, acknowledge my hesitance to chat over coffee with you, let alone deliberate on my sanity in ya’lls “planned mediation”.

      “At no time did we collectively come to the decision that you were “exiled” from us. ”
      Actually, from the morning of the meeting I was told I was not welcome in the 27center, instantly, and the 27 center is the community. So you can harp on specific words but I was VERY VERY much exiled from the first second, which I voiced at the meeting and over coffee with you.

      “We had, and still have, no fucking clue what to do with such a complex, sensitive dynamic. ”
      Hey Patrick, just like every other social struggle you engage in, this is not the first time this situation has happened and there is a ton of material to reference on how to deal with these things. You live in a radical zine library and other kinds of libraries. If you weren’t so stuck on dropping this entire situation on my unfortunate “downward spiral” that you “had” to jump from and realized the flawed capacity of all of us and the fact that Zach’s downward spiral was only prevented because he had constant redirection from you all, space to reflect, space to heal, space to be nurished and playful, maybe maybe if you could see those factors and not blame this on some outside bout with hysteria with no relation to things you, Patrick Kelsell, have done. Maybe THEN we could move forward as a group but you decided that this is just some crazy girls problem outside of you. Again, the abile-ist elitism. ALL over the place!

      “To place an expectation that we are wholly capable of giving you all the help you need is unrealistic.”
      No this is actually specifically not what I am saying, I am saying SO LITTLE WAS DONE that I can not be silent about the mass discrimination that has happened and is being rationalized only amongst yourselves without my voice present at all. Again, I would like to point out that I was asked to come to a mediation process at a space that I was kicked out of and I was asked to bring MY PERSONAL MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS. Do you comprehend what was being asked there? How the hell is that supposed to be any sort of safe space to heal? So I let ou all know I feel uncomfortable with you and you asked me to do something that takes way more trust? What about my desire for safety?

      As for the harassment. I blocked Zach from my phone.
      Clear boundary. finally.
      Josie even specifically pointed out that she text me. The only other person I have contacted is Clayton, who asked to continue communicating with me.

      Your harassment piece is another sentiment to how people open up offers of support when they shouldn’t. I have been told over and over to call or text whenever and every single time I have taken anyone up on that I have been told how inconvenient and how big of a pain in the ass I am.

      I am happy and thankful that I have been brave enough to take it this far. There is finally some frank dialogue happening. If only you could have been transparent like this in the first meeting then we all could have known where we stood.

      Watch out for your “demons” too Pat. Perhaps each of your own demons is where all this fear is stemming from. Enough judgment, Pat.

      I am happy and thriving more now that I am also away from the abuse you all, the collective, have dished out.

      Comment by raven0us — June 9, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

      • I also want to make sure that I point out that all of you adimately admit that you have no idea what to do to help me, but on the other hand, you do all do seem to be experts on when you point someone out as a perpetrator and cut them off. You actually all document a lot of experience cutting a perpitrator off. So then, why don’t you have experience with this part of the problem? the healing part? Have you always JUST cut off and not moved past?

        Comment by raven0us — June 9, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  12. You have every right to your truth and your story. We all do. Here is some of my story and my truth.

    Right after all this began I dropped by your house on Cherokee and kept knocking and calling until you answered the door because you had been talking about suicide. I showed up. I tried. Again, there were a number of mornings after dropping my son at school that I stopped by to talk and see how you were doing. I know I tried the best I knew how.

    Zach asked if I was available to talk to you about housing and offer advice from my own experiences as a single mama. I made time to do that the same day. It didn’t turn out to be advice you personally found helpful. I offered from my own experiences of utilizing food stamps to make ends meet. I’ve never received child support and really do believe that parents need to aid in financially supporting their children even when it is due to shitty circumstances. Again, it was my advice you asked for and you could do with it whatever you wanted.

    I think it also is worth mentioning that after you and Zach had you car broken into, the mutual aid fund replaced your window. I believe half of that was paid back. That is what the money is there for, to help folks out.

    I want to clarify a few things you said in this post:

    1. Kristen was never asked to move in or promised a room in the house. She did not move here to be a housing collective resident. She was one of three people who interviewed. The interview process included a decision made by the collective as a whole that we all felt like Kristen was quite likely to move out quickly and we needed long term housemates. Every single collective member at the time agreed on that. You make it sound like we asked her to move in and turned her out, pregnant and new in town, to face the streets. Not true and really unfair coloring of the story.

    Also, during this time we were housing a friend that was pregnant and due any time. We never asked her for rent because she could not afford rent at the time and save for her upcoming baby. Even though she did not pay rent, she was always a full member of the housing collective with the same decision making and responsibility. She too was a part of the decision to let Kristen know it wasn’t going to work out.

    We also told Kristen she was more than welcome to interview again when the next room was available in April/May. This offer was made because if she was still in town, we wouldn’t have had the same reservations. She had already moved to Crestone by then to have her baby.

    2. I did ask that Jordan not be around as much during the days that Micah spends with me. I explained in very full detail why that was and you completely left that out of the story. Micah has his own emotional health issues he deals with. He has pretty severe ADHD as well as Sensory Integration Disorder. I explained to you that was confusing to him that Jordan was here all the time, but was not a roommate. In his mind he saw Jordan’s presence as exclusively for him. His friend had come to hang out! Why did he have to do homework, eat breakfast, take a shower, et cetera? I told you that it would make so much more sense to Micah if Jordan lived here, but he didn’t.

    Micah needs schedules and consistency. This is something I have found out through trial and many an error as his mama. I explained that to you too. When his routines are thrown off, even a little bit, it can send him spiraling downwards for days. He deals with rageful tantrums and anger control when that happens. I told you this and asked, mama to mama, to please be of help in my attempts to create a safe and healthy environment for him. You seemed to really be understanding that day over coffee. I felt like we were getting each other that day.

    3. The night of the Subhumans, after the cakewalk, I was at home with my kids and Patrick. I was laying in bed with Zola and Micah when I heard from Zach that you had told him you were attempting to harm yourself in front of Jordan. I was fucking worried for you and immediately called. I called and asked if you were ok. I said that I couldn’t leave the house, because of the kids, but that Patrick would come over there. We offered to have Jordan spend the night here if you wanted and needed a minute. I offered to stay on the phone with you.

    I heard Zach come in. I heard yelling. Then I sat and listened to you and you assured me that you were not hurting yourself. You said that you were not drinking. I should’ve just gotten the kids out of bed, hopped in the car, and made sure you were okau. But, yeah I fucked that up. I’ll own that. I was afraid to bring my kids into a traumatizing or dangerous situation to be honest. Maybe I should’ve asked Pat to go.

    You told me that night that you couldn’t think of any other way to get Zach over there or to pay attention to you. So, then I was angry and it was specifically triggering to me. I admit that people faking suicide upsets me. Is that fucked? When Dave and I were at our worst, and before his counseling and accountability work, he did that to me a number of times. It is emotionally abusive and manipulative. I should’ve just backed away right then and been 100 percent honest why I needed to back away. My emotional safety is valuable too. My mental health is valuable too. So, I backed away slowly and without fully communicating it to you. Lesson learned, though, I think.

    4. I never called you “the abuser,” or “the perpetrator,” at that final meeting with you. The word got used and several people, myself included, were quick to say that shouldn’t be tossed around here.

    I thought I could handle facilitating that meeting. It was a mess. I tried really hard. I tried to be patient, loving, and calm with everyone in there. I tried really fucking hard, dude.

    You said something about how the meeting was triggering for me because of my abusive past. I want to clarify that it was triggering for me because you had displayed many similar behaviors to the abuse that I was subjected to in my past.

    I know you felt like I didn’t allow you to tell you story that day. No one told their story that day because we felt, as a collective, that the stories being told put us in the fucked position of judge and jury. We weren’t making a verdict. We asked ya’ll both to take a step back and to both take time to work towards wellness.

    Zach was never assigned an accountability partner. He has helped in creating a process to some degree. He has two accountability partners that were just solidified this last week. He is seeing a therapist. He has self identified himself as abusive in your relationship. The person who commented that ya’ll were abusing each other…pretty spot on.

    5. I have to say that it bothers me how many assumptions you have made about my relationship, my family, my upbringing, my class, my ethnicity, and my sexuality.

    I’ll clarify: I’m a 29 year old mother of two that has been homeless at times. I am in a monogamous marriage, married on May 29th, with Dave Strano. We have had an open relationship in the past. It doesn’t make sense for us now, but we’re open to being open one day again if it does make sense. I like and have been with women, but I don’t really feel like I need to wear it like a badge to prove how queer I am or am not. I am Jewish and have dealt with some fucked up shit growing up because of it. I am a rape survivor and proud of how well I have grown past that trauma, though it has taken a long ass time and it creeps up time to time. I deal with a trauma that happened in my childhood that I cannot fully remember, but haunts me and cripples me at the worst times. I grew up all over the place, experiencing what it like to have plenty and what it is like to be homeless. Feasts and famines was the name of that game. I grew up with a mentally ill mother and emotionally/physically abusive parents. I also grew up with a severely mentally ill brother and a sister who nearly died of cancer.

    Whatever. That is my story in a paragraph. A story you never asked me about, but just made hella assumptions about.

    6. I know I sent you angry text messages yesterday. I was extremely frustrated. I am genuinely sorry that I lashed out at you like that. It is not helpful. It isn’t caring, that is for sure. I’m sorry, Lesley.

    We all have our stories. We all have our horrors in life. We all are living in a traumatizing culture. It isn’t a reason or excuse to traumatize others or harm others. I’m sorry if I harmed you. I will say it again and again, I wish that what I could offer you was better. It was what I had.

    Comment by radicalparents — June 9, 2011 @ 2:58 am

    • Josie o Josie.
      if i could reset anything…

      I am not positive where our road block is. There is so many times in our relationship I’ve thought, “She is bad ass. I’d like to support her in anyway possible. I’d like to know her.” And then there are days where all I can think is, “Who the hell is this bitch? Oh no she didn’t.”

      I feel like as soon as I let my guard down, I regret it. You feel two faced and condescending often and it’s as off putting as my aggressiveness.

      “I think it also is worth mentioning that after you and Zach had you car broken into, the mutual aid fund replaced your window. I believe half of that was paid back. That is what the money is there for, to help folks out.”
      Mutual aid did give our house money for my window, which we had to get fixed quickly because Cat and Jim were using my car to get back to Detroit. The best part about you bringing this moment up specifically is that Zach and I asked to NOT get the front of money because we felt like we could mostly cover it quickly, but t cat and jim said they were going to pick it up anyway because it would give them enough money to get something to smoke. Zach and I DID pay it back in full as quickly as possible, which wasn’t long at all. I commend Zach on making sure that was paid quickly and taking care of that.

      The night of the subhuman show you did everything you could. I apologize and appreciate your efforts. That night was the biggest low of my entire life. Yup. I was explaining the rationalities of suicide to a 4 year old, because I was committing suicide. The one flaw I would say is that you would ever EVER decide a human was pretending to commit suicide. That is the most destructive thing you could say to a person holding that as a legitimate option in their mind. To think you can decide when another human was pretending to commit suicide or not is elitist able-ism. You have no comprehension, obviously, of the physical destruction anxiety wreaks on a body. The shaking from the core of ones body to the tips of their fingers and the constant salvation in your mouth of being prepared to throw up often resulting in throwing up. The weakness of no appetite for months. The exhaustion. No, Josie, a person is not thinking, “this is how i get a group of people to do this.” a person is thinking, “how do i alleviate this feeling, now!” This is something you personally need to research if you are going to move forward in your life with any veterans in your social circle because it is a side effect of being programed to be hyper-vigilant. Or any of the prisoners you support.

      “I know you felt like I didn’t allow you to tell you story that day. No one told their story that day because we felt, as a collective, that the stories being told put us in the fucked position of judge and jury. ”
      You told Zach’s story that day(period) You told his story and this is where it gets into shady Josie time. You spent the morning getting Zach’s story with Zach, Dave did as well, and you both directed the entire meeting from the place of Zach’s story. Whitney as well.

      Zach was assigned Cat and Dave as accountability partners 3 weeks after the meeting and they did a LOT of things together. If Zach is seeing a therapist he has literally started in the last five days. Up until that point he has ONLY been partying.

      I am glad he is seeing someone. He needs to as badly as I for sure. I agree with all of that.

      I actually haven’t made blanket assumptions about you. You being one woman in a collective of ALL white, middle class, cisgendered hetero-normative men matters. It matters that the housing collective dominating and monopolizing our community is still dominated by the same demographic that dominates EVERYTHING, it’s a problem. One white woman doesn’t balance that. Especially when there are single women, trans, people of color (insert any other demographic here) suffering in your community and you have ANOTHER white, middle class, cisgendered hetero-normative man move in.


      This is evident in the group think that is happening here. There are way more people suffering in the same way I am that could balance this entire situation but there is no self regulating diversity. Woman’s intuition and voice is not respected in this community, straight up. Masculine hegemony all over.

      6. Thank you. I feel the same way about all of my lashing out. I wish I knew different words and different ways. I wish I could make it all beautiful and smooth. I apologize too.

      Comment by raven0us — June 9, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

      • I appreciate that we’re having a dialogue about things now. Between you and I, at this moment, things feel calm and respectful. I appreciate that a ton. For real.

        So real quick, because my baby is yelling for more blueberries relentlessly…

        I never assumed it was faked. You told me it was that night. It was in a text that I still have. So, I went based off of what I was told by you. Even though I was going based off of that information you gave to me, I still believed you were hurting and needed help. I never doubted that. Not once. I never doubted your pain. I still don’t doubt your pain and hurt. It is real. It is totally being heard and validated that it is real. I promise you that.

        Now that I know the real story of that night, I would not ever doubt it again. If I heard that, I would make sure SOMEONE SHOWED UP. Even if we have our shit, even if I can’t be the one to be there, even if, even if.

        I am sorry if I come across as condescending to you. I am sorry if I ever made you feel less than. I’d appreciate hearing where I did that more specifically. For real. I’m open to hearing criticisms and improving myself.

        I live with a bunch of male bodied and identified people. There have been women who have lived here, but have moved out of Denver for their own reasons. There have been trans and gender queer folks living here too. One moved out with no notice and owing us rent. The other moved out and lives with his partner/fiance now.

        We can only offer living space to people who show interest. Does that make sense? I guess what I mean to say is that we have only had so many people show interest in living at this space. Out of those who have shown interest, we have chosen those who we most wanted to live with. I don’t have to live with people that I don’t want to. Zach was not our first roommate choice. A really badass woman was considering moving in, but in the end realized she needed a space closer to other things she is involved with.

        I am particular about who I want to live with and my first choice has always been, and will always be, another woman. I don’t enjoy having all of my living space be filled with men. It makes me feel a little to much like the house marm. I don’t want to be the house marm to anyone but the people who came out of my vagina.

        I heard your story about the wrists really only in reading this blog. I never heard that whole story until you posted this. I’m sorry. It is not my place to untangle the conflicting stories or experiences. That is work that you and Zach have to do on your own. You both need to untangle and unravel your history together and process through it. I said those same words to Zach last night and meant them completely.

        *Insert giant sigh here*

        I think that it is really important to say to you that I think you’re a magnetic, passionate, and talented person. I hope that your journey out of this dark place you’re in right now is filled with learning and love. I really do. I just have a hella hard time personally being on the journey with you and that has to be okay. It has to be okay for people to draw boundaries with others as a way of ensuring their own well being.

        For real though, girl, best best best best wishes on that journey. You’re clearly strong and if you pour yourself into it, you’ll get there.

        Comment by radicalparents — June 9, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  13. i keep trying to leave a response but then get lost in the other comments again. i dont know what to say. it feels hard to see this dialogue and to know the people, but not to really know them. i could be angry, well i am angry, i could be reactive about cat’s comments. and maybe i will a little, but not tonight. i could be confused about josie’s, because in the little i got i had a similar incongruous experience and i always wanted the woman i hear in point #6. there are other comments i cant even touch. there’s a lot of not knowing what to believe, and so i believe it all. because somewhere everything is hiding a truth. and maybe i want to spend more time figuring out those truths. but not tonight.

    what feels immediately important is the critique on a broader level. it was and remains infuriating to me that we let people down. and whats behind that? someone within our community: whether thats an anarchist collective, an intentional community, a religious community, whatever the bond, someone is in trouble, or pain or struggling or they have needs that seem different from mine. it can be big and scary and we believe the hype, we believe that we dont have the tools or the book learning or the resources to help. and i say fuck that–from a position of privilege, of course. if we can be honest with ourselves and know what it is we need as humans: love, understanding, validation, safety, trust, connection, belonging…on and on. if we can know those things then we dont need any goddamn degrees to help each other. we just need to be human, to hold someone and hear them. to challenge them in a way that doesnt push them into defensiveness. to kick their ass–in a metaphorical way–if they need it.

    so what stops us from doing that? what is the fear or judgment or wall we’re putting up? and i do think we have to look at hegemony, at the way we–even the radical we’s out there–are reproducing dominant culture. because we do. and we hide from that truth. because its hard, or there’s important work to do, or we dont know how. we dont know how. when did we stop knowing how to listen to ourselves and be ourselves? when did we stop knowing how to hear someone else?

    and the important work piece– oh man, this really gets me. so we’re all doing this oh so important, radical fucking work, yeah? and we have our issues: mine used to be climate and energy stuff, DABC’s is prisoner support. look at those two very important, very unrelated issues, yeah? NO. if we were doing more of the work that breaks down the barriers between us, that allows each of us to open to the other, than we’d be working on the core issue which creates all fucked up whatever -ism youre fighting. if we let go of how important our work is, how important we were, and stopped, paused, took a breath to deal with our own interpersonal shit, and helping others do the same, then we’d be getting somewhere.

    there’s more, but this is long and maybe no one will read it. well, lesley will. more to come.

    Comment by Sara Tansey — June 10, 2011 @ 2:59 am

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