Something I need you to know…

If I may. None of you awesome people would be grooving on All These Quiet Places if Chris Krzeminski hadn’t written this book for us. That you, who’ve reached out to us, are able to respond in the manner that you have is a testament to that man’s outstanding ability to take you there through his writing. I know you guys have hit some rough spots while reading. It’s necessary, you must. You must submit, he commands it of you. He holds your hand while he sits with you in this mad, chaotic world of this messed up human being who only wanted to understand how to fix things. That’s Davi Ross. You care about her because you are her. And the only reason you’re feeling a sense of triumph and relief in an easy, soft way, knowing when all is said and done as she pours that fucking milk in her coffee, just stirring it and thanking fuck she owned up to her shit, in super chill fashion, no excuses, no more preventable harm will come to her, and she knows it… is because Krzeminski never let go of the reader’s hand. He stands back, just far enough so you think he’s out of reach. Just so you can really feel Davi’s horror as well as her bliss and everything in between. You’re not inspired by me, my friends. You got there because of Krzeminski’s skill. And I got that monkey off my back. A burden I never dared to ask for relief from. I thought I was fine and managing quite well, it’s true. I’ve been killing it out here for years now. I’m not sitting around asking for shit I didn’t earn. I’m beyond grateful I survived. There’s no way I’d waste any more time not loving each and every moment I’m inside of. I’ve wanted for nothing. I’m still delighted as hell most of the time but I must say I feel like I can rest easy now, like all the way. Krzeminski gave you what I never could but always wanted to. I wanted you to understand what I learned. I wanted to give you the joy that I feel which is specifically due to what I now understand. Krzeminski did that for me. He’s that good.

Thank you for your time,
Jennifer August

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How Not To Care What Anyone Thinks Of You

I noticed a tweet from someone that I happen to adore. She asked millions of us how is it that we can truly not care about what others think of us. At first, I just wanted to hug her because that’s what I do but then I thought, how did I finally accomplish that? I realized it had been a tough road loaded with disappointments and great discomfort. A path that I insisted on taking up having grown fatigued by it all. Tired of everyone’s two fucking cents about how I think, behave, or generally live my life.

Back then I had decided to carve way down to my very core to find out who I really was, how I truly saw the world, and what the fuck I wanted to do with the rest of my days here. This process is dense with rewards but I won’t lie, it takes real commitment, hardcore perseverance, and the willingness to not take yourself too seriously. The latter being necessary for when you bump into shit about yourself that you swore you would never change. And the coping methods that you believe help you through adversity will need honest analysis as well. You have to break your own balls, really. You’ve got to be willing to use your own harsh judgement on yourself. But the garbage you’ve accumulated in your head regarding others’ opinions of you, that you hold on to in order to continue abusing your self-worth… you need to drop that shit. Immediately.

Here’s why. No one knows you like you do. No one cares for you the way that you do. No one’s love can be as valuable to you as the love you know you need to have for yourself. And until you have it, you’re going to be chasing it. You’re going to look to anyone who gives you even a bit of attention for approval. It’s going to make you feel like shit sometimes. For a few of you, it’s going to feel like shit a lot of the time. Because you’re leaving it up to someone else to decide if you’re worthy of acceptance. Read that sentence again. Looks pretty meshuggeneh doesn’t it?

So work on you liking you. Find out what you like and don’t like. What you find acceptable and what you don’t. What you’re willing to tolerate from those in your intimate circle and what sorts of behaviors will end up with them on the outer most perimeter. Be okay with the changes in others as they respond to becoming acquainted with your alterations. With this level of focus you’re bound to change a few things.

You need to see that you and you alone are the person you trust most to take good care of you. There’s nothing that can compare with that understanding. You won’t be presenting with fear and insecurity because you’ll know, you got this. You’ll feel more like you’re sharing space and time with people. Less like a person who’s visiting everyone else’s lives.

So get in there and get dirty. Face your shame. Face your mistakes. Face your regrets. Be honest about it so you can clean that fucker out completely. Correct the things you can and forgive yourself for the things you can’t fix. You’d forgive someone you love wouldn’t you? That’s what I’m saying.

Then take that honesty and look at all the things you did with the best of intentions. Look at all the shit you overcame right up until this moment. The obstacles you figured your way through when you weren’t sure if you’d succeed. Make yourself look at all the good choices you’ve made. Reach back in your memory and see the faces of those who have smiled because of something you said or something you did. I’d bet you’ll say to yourself, oh look, an individual who does their best and fucks up sometimes. Welcome to being human.

Finally, you have got to get off the bizarre loop that constantly flashes mental pictures of how and why you don’t measure up. I ask you, who made the rules for what’s okay and what’s not?

*crickets*

That’s what I thought. So you see, there’s no logical reason to seek approval from others. On anything. Just be sure you’re truly okay with yourself. Keep yourself in check. Stay fulfilled and hungry. Set your bar high according to your own standards. Be cool to those you love and make sure they’re cool to you.
You know what to do.
Keep in mind, you started out liking yourself. We all did. Then we threw ourselves out into the world and somehow everyone else’s perspective became more valuable than our own.
What a load of horseshit that is.

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No Such Thing As Easy

For several months I have been hitting a wall of writer’s block that I would obviously prefer to be scaling. Finally, and thanks to a tweeter who had the courage to contact me, I can feel that wall starting to crumble. He said something that opened my mind to a route of thoughts which led me to realize that I wasn’t climbing high enough. He mentioned ‘casting his net’ to find his way toward a more complete recovery from past trauma. Although I’ve enjoyed an amazing recovery myself, I feel I can ‘cast my net’ much wider.

While working with Chris Krzeminski as he writes All These Quiet Places, I continue to find places in my mind that were previously unexplored. They certainly aren’t comfortable to visit but what worthwhile growth is?
I take the hits as they come and do my best to understand them so I can lay them to rest. Daunting to be sure, but absolutely necessary. The nagging tug of slanted perspectives is something I find more than annoying. It commands me to find a solution and ultimately a more accurate, healthier perspective.

I’ve been surprised at the things I never bothered to analyze yet I know this level of rigorous excavation isn’t common and I’m grateful to have these considerations brought to my attention. There’s no doubt in my mind that this had been pushing me into a lack of output due to all the internal work that’s been required. The only thing that really bothers me is the stranglehold this has had on my creativity, nevertheless I know it will eventually return to me.

The physical symptoms that have manifested are a true pain in the ass as nervousness, frequent activation of my gag reflex, and sleeplessness haunt me day in and day out. These are familiar although I haven’t experienced them in years. I’ve been very fortunate that way. Understanding them better this time around makes all the difference in how I cope and work to maintain my everyday activities alone or with others. This work belongs to me as does the responsibility of bringing myself to a new normal while I integrate all I’ve learned with all I had previously accumulated.

Today I feel less suffocation. Today I know I can trust myself to achieve a level of understanding that will benefit me and anyone who may get something from my future writings. There’s no such thing as easy and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’d like to offer a big thank you to the tweeter who had the bravery to share his thoughts with me. I owe you one.

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All These Quiet Places

Here is the back cover blurb for the book project All These Quiet Places written by Christopher Krzeminski, based on actual events recounted by Jennifer August (that’s me).

 

Davi Ross was once an independent and strong-minded woman with a promising future awaiting her, and those prospects only seemed to improve after her marriage to the handsome and quiet Victor Wallace who doted on her lavishly with thoughtful attention. With several years of marriage behind them however, Davi lives in a much different future than she had expected. Now, Victor has convinced her to stop working and going to school, she finds herself groomed to accept regular and intense abuse at his hands, and she has lost touch with her closest friends and family. Isolated, exploited, and lost, Davi is holding onto the smallest shreds of her identity and coping with the ever-escalating toll of damage through a thick fog of prescription drugs, holding out hope that the woman she once knew still exists somewhere inside her. Based on actual events, All These Quiet Places tells the story of her determined emergence from madness through to her ultimate rebirth, but before she can complete that journey, she will need to reclaim the strength and confidence she had once prized so dearly, confront past demons, and fight to understand exactly how everything had gone so wrong.

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It’s Not Over Until You Walk Away

So you push through
And some days disappoint
Others are better.

What are you looking for?
Are you sure that’s what you want?
Or was that planted in your head
Long ago?

You best figure it out.
There never was a plan.
You imagine it, you create it,
You bring it to fruition.

No more excuses.
Being scared is irrelevant.
Everyone’s scared.
Toss your hat in the ring anyway.

Simply treading water
Keeps you in the game.
Disregard discomfort.
It’s of no consequence
And it will never go away.

Release from your mind
The harshest of all possible realities.
Stick with THE reality.
Work your gig from there.

It’s not over until you walk away.

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Focusing On Empowerment

Spending years working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in various capacities added so much to what I had already learned from my personal experiences with both. For the last thirteen years, most of my head space has been dedicated to finding better ways to serve that population. One of the more effective positions I held was facilitating a seventeen-week course called Pattern Changing For Abused Women. I was a student of the course at first, following my departure from the abusive situation I had found myself in. I was amazed at what the authors of this rebuilding technique were able to pull together. It was so comprehensive and truly had the potential to alter behaviors of survivors, driving them toward a future void of likely victimhood. I say potential because the work required to obtain substantial change in oneself, while well structured and communicated, must be completed by each student in order to reach that potential. Many simply weren’t motivated and felt more comfortable staying with what they knew. They found themselves right back in the cycle of violence that had brought them to the class initially. Yet there were a few, myself included, who demanded real change from themselves. They weren’t going to repeat the same mistakes as before. It was my personal success combined with that of a few in my class which motivated me to become a facilitator of the program. That position, working with local police on their Domestic Violence Response Team, being a member of a county-wide Sexual Assault Response Team, and serving as a domestic violence shelter Resident Advocate for the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse, enriched my understanding of what we as a society aren’t doing. Add to that my endless hours of researching academic studies on which specific psychological and emotional mindsets serve to lure one into a world of violence. The totality of this information pointed to one common denominator. Accountability.

It’s very easy to dismiss accountability with a quick well-liked phrase such as victim-blaming. Tossing this term out at anyone who has discovered a true and viable way to impart enough knowledge to a survivor, so that he/she can find their way to empowerment and independence, is the perfect weapon for shutting down a different way of discussing the issue of violence against women. By the way, domestic violence and sexual assault have male victims as well. Ignoring that because the reported instances aren’t high enough to garner attention is a dangerous and certainly absurd choice. That dismissal simply adds to the division between genders and points toward women being deemed more worthy of protection. It’s hurting us as a society and it lends more chaos to the movement toward equality for all. We’re not helping ourselves with this perspective. Meanwhile, many women are still finding themselves feeling powerless as they continue the use of a coping mechanism termed ‘learned helplessness’. This takes me back to the idea of altering lifelong patterns of behavior that lead many into a place of dependency and complete lack of the concept of accountability. The Pattern Changing course I mentioned above is just one way to address reconstruction in behavioral patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another. Some may have the gumption to make these changes on their own. I know plenty who have done it precisely this way. There’s more than one path to independence and empowerment.

My determination and perseverance held the hand of my willingness to take responsibility for my participation in making my life a living hell for many years. When I was ready to be honest with myself, while getting fully involved in rebuilding my foundation, I found out what true self-reliance and accountability could afford me. Complete empowerment. There’s no greater gift one can give to themselves. Putting all of this in place changes the course of one’s life for the better and likely for the duration of their existence. To withhold this information is unethical. To withhold it in response to societal pressure is a cop-out.

Having come this far and seen with my own eyes the benefits of conveying this information to others over the years propels me forward whether anyone wants to hear what I have to say or not. I don’t care that the majority needs to maintain the use of terms such as victim-blaming, rape culture, and the like. Those who feel the need to call themselves ‘activists for women’ would serve those women better if they offered them something that would lend itself to removing the potential victim from the grasp of intimate violence. There is accountability to be owned by the activist as well. And I’m going to be sounding off about it. Should this make me the target of those resistant to hearing the truth, so be it. My choice has a worthwhile payoff. That being, there are many people who would like to make real improvements leading to the removal of the violence we are all touched by.

Teaching survivors and victims that they can alter their future behaviors, become more independent, and feel true empowerment is not just a nice thing to offer, it is the best thing to offer. Without making changes to their current behaviors, survivors will once again find themselves as victims. Not necessarily or only to the same perpetrators of the violence they specifically suffered but victims also of the consequences that come from doing the same things over and over again. We owe each other more than protection after the fact, we owe each other the truth. The truth that developing self-confidence, improved self-concept, and taking charge of one’s life, really owning it, will bring a level of empowerment which will reap significant benefits not only for those who get their hands dirty and do the hard work of rebuilding themselves, but also for their surrounding communities and society as a whole.

If there aren’t any victims to prey on, those who have become so entrenched in their own aggression will have no one to feed on. This philosophy isn’t cold or lacking in empathy. On the contrary, it is the most compassionate and responsible thing we can do for ourselves as members of humanity.

So consider rethinking your stance on what it is to spout out politically correct terminology in order to maintain your place as a quasi-activist. Maybe take just a few moments to imagine a society without available victims to satisfy the horrifyingly dysfunctional predators. Whether you can imagine it or not, I can see it, I’ve been living it, and I’m damn well going to share it.

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You Were Wrong

You thought that chipping away at me

Would remove my core.

You thought if you stole my beauty

I’d never be loved again.

 

You thought that scarring my skin

Would find its way to my heart.

You thought that stealing my sex

Would mean I was yours.

 

You thought that cutting me off from the world

Would make me lonely.

You thought holding me captive

Would mean I wasn’t free.

 

You thought beating me down

Would make it so I’d never leave.

You were so sure

But you were wrong.

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