Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Things More Embarrassing Than a Bird Shitting on Your Head

Yesterday, you had a bird open up his ass on your head. Rude! And disgusting. This has never happened to you before, ever, and you hope it never again does, until the end of time. Like a normal human being, after this happened, and after you went running back to work to wash up before making the half-hour walk home, you immediately thought to yourself, "What could be more embarrassing than this?"

Let’s go:

1. Your mom comes running down into the grade-eight band room in the middle of rehearsal and yells, "NATTY WATTYYY! I'll be outside in the parking lot."

You forever hate when people call you that.

2. The first time you take the city bus, you don’t know that you have to step down the steps to get the back door to open. You just stand there, looking perplexed and terrified while people yell at you. You think they are yelling "SIT DOWN!!!" So you do, dejectedly, not knowing how to get off the goddamn bus and go home. Turns out they are saying "STEP DOWN."

Your hearing has only gotten worse since.

3. The time you get your period while driving to a yoga class. You are wearing light gray tights, and it is maybe the only time there is a disproportionately larger amount of men to women there. Also, you are supposed to be the teacher for that class. 

4. The time you are makin’ time with a gentledude in the shower, but then, again! Your period shows up to crash the party. Not to be outdone, you also later get dizzy, almost pass out, and have to sit down in the shower. But because he is a gentleman, he sits down with you.

That last part is actually very sweet and endearing, even if it does kind of remind you of the scene from Bond where the chick sits down and cries in the shower while Daniel Craig holds her, except you're neither fully clothed nor crying.

You like him a lot for doing that, the gentledude that is, but also Daniel Craig.

5. The first time you get really, stupidly drunk, and remember absolutely nothing. Your roommates on the other hand, remember everything. You wake up to find a garbage pail beside your bed, and you wonder how and why it got there. Everyone living in the barracks with you is surprised to see you alive and chipper the next morning. They say with bewilderment, “You mean you DON’T remember???” You don’t. Not any of it. And you feel fine. Apparently, you had gotten wobbly, so they put you to bed. But then you kept getting out of bed and threw up all over the hallway, the bathroom, other people’s rooms, etc. They said this happened half a dozen times. You sort of think they're making this up, but then all 34 people confirm the same story.

6. You're on a first date with a guy, and it's going really well. You had been walking around outside for a while, though, and it is a cold night. You have really, really, probably-shouldn't-be-human poor circulation, and when your hands get cold enough, you sometimes lose the use of them. As in, they kind of stop functioning in a normal way. You go to use a washroom, but because your hands are so cold, you are then not able to do your pants back up. You spend probably upward of 20 minutes in the washroom, desperately trying to grasp the top button on your jeans. As this is happening, you are fully aware that you have been in there for a suspiciously long time, and are mortified that your date probably thinks you:

a) ran away

b) are completely evacuating your bowels

c) were kidnapped by washroom ninjas

None of these are good options. So you casually stroll back out once your pants are safely back on, and just say, "Sorry, that took a lot longer than it should have. I feel it's important to tell you that I wasn't taking a massive dump."

You explain the hands-of-death situation, and he still goes on more dates with you.

7. You are maybe eight years old. You go to a slumber party at a popular girl's house. Your parents are maybe closet hippies and teach you things like “your body needs to breathe at night,” so you don't wear underwear or pants with your oversized t-shirt pajamas. They neglect to mention this is something you should only do in the privacy of your own home. The other girls notice this and spend all night and the next morning teasing you and running over to pull your t-shirt up. The girl’s mom eventually gives you pajama bottoms so that they will stop.

As an adult, you feel most comfortable sleeping au naturelle. Fuck pajama bottoms.

8. You're out with girl friends, and you get pretty drunk (surprise!?). You spend some time talking with a generically attractive guy who is a friend of a friend of a somethingface or whatever. Feeling brave and not at all like your decisions are influenced, you ask the guy to dance. His friends who are standing beside him let you know that there is no dance floor. You look around, and turns out they are right.

Undeterred, you are also feeling lonely and like you want some kind of intimacy, like you just want someone to touch you in a caring way. So when one of your girl friends, who is also drunk, suggests you ask generically attractive guy to go home with you, you think “Great idea!” It was not. He shoots you down, thankfully. You go home, become ill, and throw up for a few hours.

9. You are getting busy with a man friend for the first time since it happened, and you suddenly you have to tell him to stop, because you are scared, because you remember. He does, but you’ve already been pulled into the memory of the time when a guy didn’t stop. When you prayed it would be over quickly, and you hated yourself for it. You know that you’re not still in that moment, but you feel it all over again, and you start to cry hysterically. He holds you, lets you cry, and he is the first person you tell everything to.

10. Every time you are intimate with a guy, and again you remember, and they leave you there in the bed, crying. They not kindly tell you to get it sorted out, and to go to therapy. You feel like a leper. No one wants to touch someone like you.

11. Every time you cry in the years you spend in therapy.

12. Every time you sleep on your bathroom floor because you feel worthless, shattered, disposable, and like a piece of rubbish.

13. Every time you tell your mom that you're okay, but you're not. You sleep, at most, four hours, but sometimes not at all. You have become someone you don't recognize. You isolate yourself from your friends, because you don’t want them to know, and you don’t want to have to lie. You lose a noticeable amount of weight, but most people compliment you for looking so skinny. You become unreliable, often having to cancel work. You are overly emotional, and start becoming weirdly paranoid about things. You are prone to violent outbursts in the privacy of your own home. One day you destroy your bathroom, ripping shelves off walls, smashing bottles, breaking everything within reach. You feel like a monster. You want him to see what he’s done. You want him to finish it.

14. The night you spend in the hospital, after swallowing a fistful of anti-anxiety meds that are not yours.

15. The time you are at a yoga workshop, and the teacher, who may just be an angel, or in the least, a completely wonderful human being, holds you in a yoga pose that makes you want to run and hide and move away as fast as possible from all the uncomfortable feelings and memories and things you wish weren't a part of you. She tells you not to run, she tells you to stay with it, to sit with it, and that on the other side of fear is everything that you want. She tells you to let go, so you do.

There, in a room of 60+ people, in a yoga class being recorded for an audio CD, you full-on openly weep.

But suddenly you don't feel embarrassed. You realize that all these things, all these moments that make you want to hide, or turn off, or appear cold and unmoved and unphased, all these memories that you wouldn't wish on anyone else — they have taught you things you never would have realized without them. They have made you stronger, even if the process of getting to that end result was completely and inappropriately fucked up. You grew and changed and evolved and became a better, kinder, and more compassionate person because of it. And no one can ever take that from you. No one can ever hurt you with it, because it is yours to wear like armor. You know that even sometimes when you feel alone, lost, disposable, worthless — you are not. And you know that sometimes, shit happens. But hopefully, it doesn't ever again happen on your head.

Natalie Bell went home and washed her hair three times, but was still paranoid that she could smell bird shit. She also took to heart the advice a dear friend gave her about writing when he said, "The only stories worth reading are the ones that are honest. Honest stories are sometimes stories that shouldn't be written. The fact that they are is what makes them special." But more on him later.

You are cordially invited to read more stories at nataliesianbell.blogspot.com

194 Comments / Post A Comment


16. Starting to cry at your desk over an internet article that begins with a bird shitting on a girl's head and takes a dark turn at point #9.


17. Planning your comment about an amusing embarrassment anecdote around point #3 and then realizing at point #9 that this is not going to be that thread.


@iceberg yes, exactly both of those two things.


@iceberg Yeah, I lost my composure at #9 as well, and didn't clear up the tears until the end. Jesus.


@iceberg I had to go close my office door.


11. Every time you cry in the years you spend in therapy. i have no more words to say @y





@paddlepickle I KNOWWWWWWWWWW! I had many more feelings than I expected to while reading this piece.


@paddlepickle I know, whoa! I wasn't really prepped for that. Excellent piece, but I wasn't at all prepared.


@paddlepickle Yeah. I feel like we need 2 separate comment threads. One for ridiculous, embarrassing childhood events, and one for the 2nd half.


@paddlepickle EXACTLY!!!


this is beautiful.

the thing i love about eastern religions is that they seem to embrace the difficult emotions, because it somehow seems to create a capacity for beautiful, breathtaking emotions.


Aaaaand the crying. Damn. I was not expecting that at all.

This was a beautiful, beautiful story, though, and with a very powerful ending. Thank you for posting it.


@Scandyhoovian Exact moment a sob rose in my throat: "...you full-on openly weep."


The resolution to this piece was beautiful and unexpected.

(On a lighter note, it also made me very thankful that I've never had embarrassing nicknames or surprise onsets of my period.)


Ditto on the latter! Everyone seems to have an embarrassing period story but me!
As for embarrassing nicknames... Flashback to year 8 and my nickname "BraBra"...


This is some brave and beautiful writing!


"Oh, my god," I just said to all the boxes surrounding me in my new place. Because I took a break from moving to catch up on the old 'Pin, but now I cannot read anymore (or move anymore), because I am too busy crying. Thanks for this.

No, I mean it.


I just realized that several of my most embarrassing moments involve the same group of "popular boys" from my elementary/middle school. UGHUGH.

I may have shared this story on the 'pin before (so I apologize in advance), but here goes:

In 8th grade, for my 14th birthday party, I had a boy-girl party in my basement. My new boyfriend at the time was there, and at one point during the party, he shoved me backwards onto the couch, climbed on top of me, and jammed his tongue down my throat. In front of everyone. So not only is that pretty embarrassing as it is, but someone took pictures on a disposable camera, which my best friend got developed. She brought in the birthday party pics to school the following Monday and handed them to me discreetly during our math class. One of the aforementioned "popular" dudes saw, grabbed the stack of photos, and conveniently pulled out the ones of the horizontal makeout sesh. He darted across the room while I looked on, horrified. My teacher was like, "What is going on?" so he HANDED HER THE PHOTOS (side note: I was/am a huge nerd, so I was in honors math, and I automatically figured my teacher would equate the scandalous picture with me being dumb, and being dumb was my greatest fear). Instead of putting them in her desk or something, she goes "Oh my goodness!" and then the class was all "What?? What??" so she WALKED AROUND THE ROOM SHOWING THEM TO PEOPLE LIKE A GRAPH OR SOMETHING. And then she made a math pun about the picture based on a poster on the wall that said "Math is about >i>making connections." I dove under my desk, huddled up in an upright fetal position, and cried. Which was possible even more embarrassing than people seeing the photos.

Sigh. I will relive that day in horror for many years, and that was 10 years ago.

ETA: Now I feel bad for threadjacking the author's beautiful and touching realizations about her "embarrassing" moments. The sleepover moment she wrote about just brought back all of my feelings about embarrassing grade school stuff. Anyways, I really am touched by the piece, especially the maturity of it, and I hope I grow to feel that way about awful things someday soon.


@olivebee D: There is nothing anyone did in this story that is okay. (Except you crying under the desk, because oh man I would've been there with you.)


@olivebee Agreed with SarahP, I am HORRIFIED by the behavior of basically everybody except you in this story.


@olivebee I hope your teacher was ashamed of herself. That's not professional, or compassionate -- and I feel like 8th grade might be the worst year for girls in general (I consider all of middle school a wash for me personally and have tried to block it out as much as possible).


@olivebee Everyone is horrifying, but I am most horrified with that teacher. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THAT TEACHER!?


@olivebee That teacher is a sick fucking asshole.


@olivebee This was like the OP all over again for me because I was thinking, "I had a boy-girl party for 14 with my first boyfriend, too! Twinsies!
...Oh. Wow."

That teacher is messed up, and I'm so sorry that happened to you. Talking about junior high years later, several of my friends (and me, now that I think of it) turned out to have awful stories about our teachers that we did not know were happening to each other at the time. Stuff we can't believe we didn't tell our parents.

I always thought our school just had a really scummy group of teachers, but I wonder if it's the age that attracts such terrible people?



You know, now that I can look back safely at this long-ago event, I can see just how wrong it was, and that that behavior by a teacher is reprehensible. But I wish my 14-year-old brain had not reacted to the trauma with fight or flight (flight) and had instead pointed that out to her. Because, oh my god, people in positions of authority over people that are in their most fragile and turbulent years should be doing everything in their power to STOP crushing emotional blows from happening.

I started going to therapy that same year (a few months after that event), because if there is any time period that is just a Molotov Cocktail of things that would contribute to poor mental health, it's definitely middle school. Middle school and maybe our 20s.

Natalie S Bell

@olivebee I am SO sorry this happened. That is an awful experience.

But it happens, right? And now who better than you will understand and be able to empathize with someone who may have had a similar experience. Maybe not the same circumstances, but the same emotions and traumas that arise from it, and you'll be able to stand beside them and say, "I get it. I'm here for you, and know what it feels it, but I also know you're going to get through this."

Pain is pain is pain, and it's so fucked up that any of us have to experience it. But I think if nothing else, it shows us that we can overcome, we can persevere, and we can survive.

And now before I get too emotional, hugs to everyone!


@Natalie S Bell You speak the truth. I admire your courage in writing all of those moments down and sharing them with the world. When I went through my darkest period (late high school/early college), I wrote gads of fiction stories where the main character was basically me, going through the things I was going through. I never shared them because I was too embarrassed.

And to your point in your comment, I have been semi-seriously considering going back to school for either elementary education or school psychology so that I can do just that (i.e. tell them [the kids], "I get it. I'm here for you.") Now I am considering it in full force again, so thank you.


@olivebee I hope you don't beat yourself up too much about not standing up to your (reprehensible, shitty) teacher. There are a lot of mature adults who wouldn't be able to do that, much less 14-year-old eighth graders! You did the best you could with an awful situation, and should pat yourself on the back for coming through it and being so awesome.


@olivebee It seems to be really common for kids that age (not to mention adults) not to say anything about these experiences. Sometimes it's really sad to me how much difference one teacher can make for a child, like, what were the other adults even doing then? It's awesome that you're considering doing that work-- I am quite sure that you will be that good, important adult for a child if you do.

Natalie S Bell

@olivebee I hope you do! You will be wonderful.


@olivebee I am a high school teacher who barely survived high school. I was an angry girl in a polite prep-school environment, on a scholarship no less. The teachers never let me forget that I came from nothing, and that I did not belong. They told my parents that I lacked character, that I might be "better suited for public school". To this day (15 years later) I plan what I would say to them if given the chance. Your story hit home, because someone whose job it was to teach you, to encourage you, to protect you, scarred you instead. On behalf of teachers everywhere, I apologize. She should be ashamed of herself.


This is amazing.

On a totally unrelated note, I once had a bird shit on my hand. That was in third grade. You don't forget that er.. shit.

Tuna Surprise

@emyh Agreed on the amazing point.

But to help lighten the mood, more bird shit stories are in order. My ex-boyfriend was waiting for the bus with a group of people who were all standing against a nearby building to keep cool. A bird came by and shit kamikaze-style on a half dozen people with one dump. He said they all looked at each other and busted out laughing. Moral: being shit on alone is mortifying; being shit on in a group is hilarious.

The Lady of Shalott

@Tuna Surprise Once a bird shat on my mom's head while we were having a picnic lunch in front of the White House.

Also, the only time a bird has ever shat on my head was as I was waiting for a bus preparing to go out to dinner with my best friend's parents. But they were very understanding as I spent the first twenty minutes in the restaurant with my BFF in the bathroom trying to wash bird shit OFF MY HEAD.


@Tuna Surprise One time a former student was hitting on one of my fellow teachers in front of our building (I work at a college, so this is legal, but she wasn't into it). She was trying to find an out from the conversation when one of our many neighbor-pigeons took a slow dive and pooped right on the guy's head.

My friend, being a compassionate woman, took that opportunity to run like the dickens (once she stopped laughing).


@Tuna Surprise A month ago, my bf & I were sitting on steps next to a river, and a bird forcefully pooped above us. It hit my bf's head at an impressive speed but instead of landing there, sort of bounced from his head to my shirt.


@emyh I have had birds shit on my head multiple times, from the age of maybe 4 (?) to the most recent time a few years ago, when I was on my way to look at an apartment to rent, and I didn't realize that the liquid that plopped on my head from an overhead tree was not water but BIRD SHIT, and therefore it remained on my head all through the appointment and all the way home. I guess I'm just lucky!


@Tuna Surprise I grew up near the ocean, where the school campuses are rancho-style and the seagulls reign supreme overhead. Seagulls, the rats of the sky, the birds with the most heinously large shits of all time. I think the worst (best?) one for me was senior year of high school-- in the middle of the huge outdoor quad with friends, lunchtime, people everywhere. I throw my head back and laugh. SPLAT. Mercifully, nothing went in my mouth, and I was wearing giant sunglasses that covered most of my face, but getting shat upon like that. Whoa.

miss buenos aires

@Tuna Surprise I used to have a boyfriend who had a real problem with being late everywhere, and it drove me crazy. I was once waiting for him on a street corner for 45 minutes, and somewhere in the middle of that, a bird shat on my forehead. I was so furious with him that when he finally showed up (acting like nothing was wrong, which drove me even crazier), I rolled up the magazine I'd been reading and hit him about the head with it, like you're probably not supposed to do with puppies. In retrospect, a little embarrassing.

Roaring Girl

@miss buenos aires I feel like all these stories are the reason why it used to be unthinkable to walk out of the house without your hat. Hat = bird shit shield.

miss buenos aires

@Roaring Girl Excellent point. There also used to be a lot more birds. (Pours out a little water for the passenger pigeon.)


@Tuna Surprise
I was under the Eiffel Tower in the midst of a large group of international tourists (mostly Italian teenagers). A pigeon dropped a gross green poop on my white scarf and I freaked out a little... until, as my luck would have it, a family nearby (American or Canadian) offered me wipes and a ziplock bag (for storing my soiled scarf). Now I know what I'm throwing in my backpack/suitcase the next time I travel!


@miss buenos aires They darkened the skies with their wings! They lightened the hairs of the human population with their shit!


@emyh My bird-poop-on-my-head story is one of my most heartwarming! I was walking home from work and there were crows everywhere, and suddenly I felt this liquid dropping on my head. I stopped dead in my tracks and without even thinking pulled out my phone to call my best friend (who I am lucky enough to work with) and started screaming A BIRD POOPED ON MY HEAD!! She didn't say anything except STAY THERE and next thing I know she is tearing down the road armed with a water bottle and paper towels. According to everyone at work, she suddenly started running around the office in a frenzy to get the supplies, just shouted LORABEE-BIRD POOP and then ran out the door. Friends are amazing.


@Tuna Surprise A seagull once shit on my face, behind my sunglasses, and over my eye. Like, none of the poop was even touching the sunglasses, just on my eye. That bastard had great aim.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

My poop-on-head story takes place at my childhood friend's home, wherein he was showing off his pet bird. We're, like, 12ish? Apparently the three kids liked to let the birds sit on their heads and walk around like that, because I don't know why, kids I guess. So he offers to include me in this wonderful(?) experience.
Me: Oh, um, no thanks?
Shawn: C'mon! Just for a minute. [puts bird on my head]
Me: Shawn, I do not want this. It's going to shit on my head.
Shawn: Oh, don't be silly. That's never happened.
Me: Seriously, get it off my head, I AM GOING TO HAVE BIRD POOP ON MY HEAD.
Shawn: Haha, VMISTM, you're so paran---um..... oh. Oops. [The bird had just pooped on my head. I cannot feel it so he then has to tell me he essentially forced bird crap on me.]

tea tray in the sky.

@Tuna Surprise My boyfriend had his best suit shit all over by a bat at a wedding.

Hot Doom

I am in the middle of feeling like 13 all the time (like now, on the train and getting misty thinking about it) and I started looking for help with it today. It's a freaky feeling, and I gotta say, overall, it's worse than getting shat upon. Well, by a bird, that is.
This was a great piece though, and it reminds me of how not alone we are, no matter how much it feels that way sometimes.


"...even if the process of getting there was completely an inappropriately fucked up."
This is perfect and true. It resonates with me in a way that "everything happens for a reason" never does. Recognizing the good on the other side of suffering and fear doesn't have to mean accepting that the precipitating awfulness was right or OK. Thank you, Natalie.


@emeegee yes! it's not that "everything happens for a reason," it's more that "when you are an awesome human being you can pull amazing things out of even the most fucked up situation!"


@madge This is such an important distinction to make.


Whoaaaa whoa whoa whoa.

Also, um, I don't think I can ever try yoga, because people keep talking about it doing these amazing things for them and clearing all their brain problems, etc. etc., and I just KNOW if I ever tried it, that...wouldn't happen. It would be crickets in my head.


@frigwiggin When I do yoga, it is just crickets in my head, but it is AWESOMENESS for my arm/leg muscles.


@SarahP yes! and honestly, head crickets provide a wonderful vacation from the chaos that is my ever-churning brain.


@madge Yeah dude. I'm in it for the crickets.


@frigwiggin for sure i have never had any feelings happen when i do yoga except for amazing silence (and/or head crickets) and good stretches. i think people are in it for what they get, and it's totally cool to not get emotional release but really like the head crickets.


@bibliostitute Yes. I picture clouds to ignore all the pain from being in a ridiculous and compromising position and to avoid beginning to think about my grocery list. But crickets might work, too!!

rianne marie

@frigwiggin Clearing brain problems in big revelatory bursts is something that happens sometimes to some people, but it is not the reason to do yoga for most people.
On a good day I get silence. On a hard day I get running monologues about anything and then get annoyed at myself because I'm a yoga teacher damnit, I should have more calm than this by now, and then give myself a mental smack and start listening to my breath until the monologue starts and the whole thing loops.
Been doing yoga for a decade and I got a magical brain explosion once. And it didn't even come with an exciting realization, just lots of tears and shakiness.


@frigwiggin I'm afraid of yoga farts.

I've never done yoga, but friends tell me that sometimes you're yoga-ing and you're really into a pose or you're relaxed or soemthing and you fart.

See, 'cause I fart a lot. And they're loud and smelly. So, yeah I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But, uh. The other problem is that I laugh at farts. All the time. So not only would I fart but then I would laugh, and then I would get embarassed (more about the laughing than the farting) which would make me laugh more (out of embarassment).


@frigwiggin I don't even get head crickets. I get head noise like "is this where my arm is supposed to be? I doubt it. Maybe a bit more to the left? Maybe? How long are we holding this?! My arm is starting to hurt. Ok, now it's really hurting. Holllllld it. Don't be the lame person who can't keep up with the middle aged ladies, just hold your damn arm up. Wait, did I fill in that expense form right today? I don't think I did. I think I missed that field..." and on and on for pretty much the whole class. I'm kind of envious of people who get deep calm and emotional revelations.


@ReginaSavage Apparently there's a thing for laughing yoga? (I heard of this on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me) If ever there was a time for farts, giggles, and yoga crickets, that seems like the answer.


@PatatasBravas I have definitely just... stopped the asana so I wouldn't fart. Pavanamuktasana, why are you my enemy?! Never name something passing wind pose!

Because then I would die, just shrivel up and die. So know that you can totally be in the zone and then tactically remove from the zone and then later, in less compromising poses, return to the zone!


@rianne marie Hmmm, I have running monologues and mental grocery lists basically all the time, so at the worst it just wouldn't be any different?

@MilesofMountains See, this is how I felt when I was taking tai chi in college (had to switch out of the same professor's fencing class because I got ringworm on my face from my friend's cat)...it was awkward and stiff and I never felt any of the special stuff that the professor kept talking about. This is my fear with yoga.

@all You guys have actually got me kind of interested again (my casual interest keeps rising and waning without me actually doing anything), and there IS a studio that's a fifteen-minute walk from my house...hmmmmm. I don't think I would mind farting, I am a constant farter anyway.


@frigwiggin I've only ever had an "amazing" brain-clearing experience with yoga once. I was in the middle of a very confusing relationship, and I was jammin' along doing fine in a yoga class. Suddenly, at the end of the class, the teacher said something, and *instant* tears started streaming down my face; it was all the confusion and pain and unhappiness that I'd been repressing building up and somehow making its way out of me in that class. It was lovely, but also kind of scary.

I've been practicing yoga for four or five years now, and that is the first and only time it has happened to me. Usually I get either crickets, or at least the ability let go of the stuff running through my head, which is something that is usually pretty difficult for me.

I'd give yoga a try, if I were you. Can't hurt!


@frigwiggin I was just beginning physical therapy for an injury to my leg and didn't know what to expect. To get a better angle, the therapist climbed up on the table with me and I went *flashback* and started sobbing. I wanted to run out of there but she convinced me to stay, then shared that she'd been attacked, too. It was so comforting to talk and I was thrilled that she trusted me with her story. The whole thing underwent a healing for both of us.


Wow, LOL to wah wah wah in a heartbeat. This was so good, and now I'm doing that blinking back tears thing at work because, wow. Thank you for sharing.


so lovely. the thing that gets me is why do WE feel embarrassed when OTHER PEOPLE do awful things to us? it's the smirking little cherry on top of the shit sundae that makes the whole thing just 100 times more terrible.

thanks for writing, so beautifully, about what's on the other side of that.


@madge Ugh yes. Like the creepy coworker that has been squicking you out for a while and has taken to creepily whisper-saying your name as he walks by your desk, only he thinks your name is actually a very similar name, so it's not quite as creepy because it's not quite your name, but you've worked in the same office for months now and you don't want him to know your actual name because it will make everything 1000 times worse.

this happens to everyone though right?


@iceberg If someone, even a very creepy someone, walked by my desk every day whispering "Kara," I'd probably start dissolving into giggles every time I saw them.


@SarahP ...but I don't mean to make light of your situation, which does sounds unpleasant.


@SarahP No, it does make me laugh in a way that it would decidedly NOT if he would get my name right. You just can't find a good quality stalker these days, amirite?


@iceberg i can't even fathom what he is trying to achieve. does he think whispering (not) your name is endearing? what does he want? i am kind of fascinated by your sub-par stalker ...

RK Fire

@iceberg: Maybe you could just creepily look him in the eye, and whisper his almost-but-not-actual name in response?

"My name is Tim"

(I realize that this might only encourage him and that what you should really be doing is tracking the time and number of occurances he does this to you in order to share with HR)


@RK Fire Whispering, "Whateverrr" in response every time he whispers her (non) name sounds perfect.


@RK Fire acquire so much data


@RK Fire I laughed at this "whatever" part.

But I would also fully supporting this creep show to HR because ew harassment ew.


@PistolPackinMama et al... Thanks you guys! Everything this guy does is juuuuuuuuuuust this side of harassment, like, it makes me feel creepy but it's mainly vibes/demeanour as opposed to actual words or actions that could be pointed to. UGH.


@iceberg Oh yeah. Master manipulator harasser guy, right there. Staying just this side of the line, and doing something you don't know how/want to tell other people? CLASSIC.

If you're okay with things as they are, that is cool. Carry on. But you can seriously blow the whistle on this motherfucker. People like this thrive on the silence of their targets. A good supervisor will tell him in no uncertain terms to knock it off because HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT.


@PistolPackinMama Ehh, it's creepy, but more annoying than threatening. I have zero fear of escalation, and as long as he doesn't know my actual name I feel somehow protected? However, several male friends in the office know his game exactly so I have witnesses of a sort if needed. ;) mainly just need to be able to vent about it.


@iceberg Other plan: get your male friends to stand around near enough to him to snicker, just loudly enough to be heard. If it comes up "oh, we heard you've been creepy-whispering at [ice floe (not your real name)] only you've been using the wrong name and calling her [ice dam]. Heh. You're not just a choad. You're a double choad!"

*mean cackle*

Banana dance

Unfortunately/fortunately, I can completely relate. Except for the cathartic yoga session. Its been 10 years of waisted energy and bs, time to start yoga again :(

25. Crying on the bus on the way to a meeting that your boss is bringing you to, where you will meet the CEO of a large company for which your firm is general counsel. Thanking God you didn't wear mascara today. Feeling lucky that you have a good therapist, and that your bathroom wrecking days are behind you.

Still feeling ragey toward people who hurt you years ago.


@S. Elizabeth Here is a hug; climb in it right now!

@Xanthophyllippa <3 u Xanthie!


I need to have that last paragraph tattooed in my brain.

Also, openly weeping at my desk. Thank you.



also #6 may have happened to me once or twice before.


This was really beautiful--thanks for sharing it.

A pigeon once pooped on my head, and I couldn't do anything about it for hours. My aunt told me it was good luck (very possibly a lie to make me feel better about poop in my hair, but I chose to believe it). So, you're in for at least 10 years of good luck.


@dtowngirl It totally is good luck! There's a saying in Lithuanian which is basically "I'm so pleased to have met you, I wish you all the best" but the literal translation is "Nice to meet you--shit on your forehead!" Because this belief is so ingrained in my family (paternal side is Lithuanian), every time a bird relieves itself on me, I am simultaneously overwhelmed by feelings of disgust and pure joy. It's very strange.

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@Katheringasaga Shit on your forhead and twins for you tomorrow!


What about 12 birdcraps and a batcrap too? Because that's what has happened to me in the last 4 years. 12 birds and a bat have shat on my head. On two occasions, said craps occurred TWICE in one day, hours apart. MAKE IT STOP.


@Jodi Oh, goodness! I don't think I would ever leave the house again, if I were you.

sarah girl

@Jodi You might consider removing the bulls-eye from the top of your head?


@Jodi SO does bat crap in your hair mean that you get, like, little pellets of undigested bone in your hair? Or is that just owl scat?


@ba-na-nas It's kind of tough since I've transitioned from lawyer to travel writer! However, I definitely cower when there are birds overhead. And stand next to tall people who can serve as excellent collateral damage ;)


@Sarah H. I always think of that Far Side cartoon "How Birds See the World" - that's me, no? People always say 'oh! it's good luck!" but it can't be good luck anymore. It's a vendetta now. And then the bat, and I was freaked out that it would be a slippery slope from birds to mammals and that's just totally unacceptable.


@Xanthophyllippa No bones, just goopy smelly guano. Mmmm...guano.


But I'm at work and I can't full-on openly weep, I just can't!


@themmases I've been on the edge of tears all day for work-related reasons (and brain-chemistry-related reasons too) and this may send me over the edge.


@anachronistique Ugh, I'm sorry. Having all the feelings at work on top of the problem itself is the worst. I hope it starts getting better for you soon!

Grace Anne Boucher@facebook

This is amazing, and wonderful, and heartbreaking.
Something bad happened to me once, and I'd been holding it in for years, and it was shaking me apart. Then I met a person like your yoga teacher! She said I had to sit with my pain, and fear, and sadness. I had to let them flow through me, because on the other side was their opposites. The other side of fear is peace, the other side of pain is triumph, and the other side of sadness is joy.


@Grace Anne Boucher@facebook
All The Thumbs Up for you, my friend. All The Thumbs Up.

fondue with cheddar

Wow. This was touching and amazing and ended beautifully.

That said, the shower thing reminded me of an embarrassing story from my past, though I was not the embarrassed party: So you're a dude, and you're making out with an old high school girlfriend. You'd never had sex while you were dating, but it's clear that that's what she wants to happen now. You really want to (you always wanted to), but you're intimidated by her confidence and forthright manner and have a hard time getting it up. So she suggests you hop in the shower together. You both strip naked and she soaps up her hands for a lathery handjob. You're so nervous that you urinate on her feet.


@jen325: I love this. Life is terrible.

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@laurel The poor guy was mortified. I actually got back in touch with him many years later shortly after I separated from my ex, and he was still bothered by the incident and kept apologizing. I assured him that I had fond memories of that day, and that it wasn't a big deal. And then he came over to spend the weekend with me, and he definitely made up for it. ;)


@jen325 And I went from giggles to tears to full on guffaws.

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Oh, and yes...fuck pajama bottoms.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@jen325 Seriously. #7 is my whole life. Bed is a sacred naked zone.


@jen325 Amen, sister. #7 actually happened to me when I was seven or eight. Why wouldn't my parents think to tell me that one should wear underwear at other people's houses?

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@sudden but inevitable betrayal The worst thing about living in a dorm was having to wear pajamas! I mean...a short nightgown or oversized t-shirt is better than anything with pants, but even tops are annoying as hell. The only reason I don't sleep completely naked is because I have to wear undies to keep my pubes from tickling my thighs.


@pearlforrester The exact same thing happened to me as a kid, too! Except I think I ended up hiding in the closet, crying, while everyone carried on with the teasing. Seriously, WTF, mom?

But it's kinda nice to know I'm not the only one who did this. Too bad we weren't all at the same slumber party so we could have made fun of all the dumb people wearing underwear.


Oh dear, why did I read this with sigur ros playing in the background. It is SO DUSTY in here.

Thank you for this beautiful beautiful piece.


A bird shat on my head last week. And I still get panic attacks when I'm in a parking garage by myself (two years ago, I was sexually assaulted in an empty Metro parking garage the middle of a bright Spring day).
Thanks for sharing your story. I'm very glad that we're openly talking about rape, sexual assault, and other terrible things that we sometimes wrongfully feel embarrassed about. For too long we've pretended like these things don't happen, so we don't realize how frequently they do.


@slanket I'm so glad you are here today. Also, I now park on the roof of garages, as that's where the cameras work best.


@Myrtle On the day I was assaulted, I actually drove up to the garage roof to park because it's always empty, and I'd never parked there before. But then I saw that the elevator was out. I was all "fuck this, I'm not climbing up 6 flights of stairs after work today," so I drove down to the 4th floor and found a spot. Had I actually parked on the roof that day, that empty roof with maybe 2 other cars, I wouldn't have been able to call for help to the man idling in his SUV checking his smartphone.

Unfortunately, DC Metro parking garages don't have cameras on every floor.

But I'm glad you're here, too!!


@slanket Just here, thinking about your reply. Bless that man.


In re: #15: you think it's a weakness, showing intense emotions in public (and on the record), but it's really a strength. You are amazing.

(I think you'd be able to handle it if a bird shat on your head again.)


My number 15 moment was when I was sitting on a beach in Alexandria watching the sunset, and the student I was traveling with told me about how one of our classmates had shared that she had been sexually abused as a child. My travelmate was vehemently swearing that "if something like that happened to her, she would rather be dead". I was already annoyed with her for sharing something that the original person had probably not wanted liberally passed on, but that did it. I immediately pictured everything I had experienced lately, felt the sandy beach (oh god this is so cliche), and just got really angry. I think all I said was "No, you wouldn't."

You pretty much exactly explained what I thought: You realize that all these things, all these moments that make you want to hide, or turn off, or appear cold and unmoved and unphased, all these memories that you wouldn't wish on anyone else — they have taught you things you never would have realized without them. They have made you stronger, even if the process of getting to that end result was completely and inappropriately fucked up. You grew and changed and evolved and became a better, kinder, and more compassionate person because of it. And no one can ever take that from you. No one can ever hurt you with it, because it is yours to wear like armor.

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@MissMushkila It's so true. I've been through some fucked up things, and although they were difficult at the time I value the wisdom I gained from them.


@MissMushkila The only people who swear that they'd rather be dead than go through a harrowing life experience like rape or sexual abuse are people who: (a) have never actually been through anything that harrowing and (b) have never actually been dead. Thus they are arguing from a position of complete ignorance and should be shot down, as quickly as possible (as you did).


@Bittersweet It is a kind of a death, though. Like living through your own and then trying to restore something of who you were. You can get back what was taken from you, but what's restored will never be the same again. You might be better, you might be worse, but you'll definitely be different.


@bashe I absolutely agree. You are definitely different on the other side of any traumatic event, and you can view that as a sort of death. But it's not really being physically dead. My criticism was for people who say they'd rather be dead, in a very facile, tossed-off way, without actually understanding what trauma or real death look like. I have nothing but respect for people who experience trauma and live through it.


@Bittersweet Absolutely. What's kind of amazing is that once you've lived through it, the LAST thing you want is to be dead. Maybe that's where the rage comes in, like a kind of fierce and horrible force of life that just keeps you going.


Natalie, First of all, this was beautiful. Secondly, I went to your website and read your piece on letting go and, holy god, how that resonated. I am *still* in the process of letting someone go, something which I continually try to ameliorate, which keeps it rounding back to zero. I'm literally walking around my office feeling blue, thinking, just stay here, stay in this, you have to go through this to get through this, and I came back to my desk, read the above and then read about letting go. So, thank you and also, everything.

Natalie S Bell

@hairspin Oh god, thank-you! Truly, thank-you for such kind words. Truth- letting go is stupidly hard, and I'm only marginally good at it on the occasional Tuesday.

Let's just make a Skype group where we can all watch Project Runway together and turn our thoughts to how impeccably dressed Tim Gunn always is and how we wish he could personally pick out our outfits every morning and then chitchat over coffee at the breakfast table. He would also maybe walk my dogs for me, but they would be ridiculously well-behaved because he is Tim Gunn.


@hairspin I just read this comment and then went to read that piece, all with a feeling of terrible trepidation in my stomach, and, yep. Resonance. I'm waiting until I go home til I read it again and feel everything I want to feel - but til then, it's nice to know there are at least two other people who can relate.


@Natalie S Bell Yes, Natalie, thank you so much. Letting go is very hard to do. Sixteen years is not enough years, sometimes. Not enough years to wear a turtleneck and not have it feel like hands around my throat.


@MoonBat I actually meant, letting go of a traumatic experience. I hadn't read the story "Letting Go" when I wrote that. But now I have, and it is beautiful as well! And, thank you for the "Conversations I'm sure that my dogs have", because I needed the laughs!


I hate to be all tumblr 'omg trigger warning' about things, but this was kind of an upsetting bait-and-switch.


@Whitney@twitter I think that's the point though.

(eta: not trying to be dismissive of your reaction here, but "trigger warning" up front would take away some of the impact I think? Possibly the author went through her own bait and switch in the process of writing. I think the structure of the narrative adds power.)


@redheaded&crazie Yeah, I recognize the intent and a lot of the problems with the whole trigger warning phenomenon. But, you know, I pretty much was not in the mood to spend the rest of the afternoon thinking about sexual assault, so I felt I should register my complaint.


@Whitney@twitter RH&C is right about the impact, but I'm sorry that this piece of writing did that to you.


@iceberg @Whitney@twitter So am I.


@Whitney@twitter No worries. I had a hard time with that, too. I also think it was a beautiful, necessary piece of writing.


I just created an account after a whole year of religiously lurking just to let you know how beautiful this was. Thank you so much for sharing. It was brave, moving, and eerily exactly what I needed to hear after just returning to work from a #11 moment and trying to hold it together like I just took a regular old everyday lunchbreak. I wish I could hug you, and maybe be your BFF. Rock on.


Thank you for sharing.... you are inspiring for those of us that have to get through it as well.


I really don't want to have to stop reading the 'pin because I'm triggered. It's happened, like, twice in the last week.



@thatgirl: I'm with you there. :/


@thatgirl Me three.

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Stories like this are always weird for me, because I was sexually assaulted by a close friend and I'm actually okay. I did block it out for several years and didn't remember until after we stopped hanging out, and the one time I saw him since I had a visceral reaction (he didn't see me). But I'm not traumatized by it. Why is that? How is it even possible? I feel like there's something wrong with me if I can go through that and not really be affected by it. I mean, when someone you used to call your best friend uses trickery to force himself on you and then acts like nothing happened, how can you still trust people? How can you hear stories of other assaults and not have them trigger unpleasant and unwanted emotions? Sometimes the way brains work (or don't) just doesn't make sense.


@jen325 Oh, no. No, you just go through things the way you do.

It's okay that you feel okay. There is not one thing wrong with you. You are not an emotionally naive or unfeeling person or whatever.

I've heard other survivors say this, and so you really aren't the only person who has this feeling.

Also, a thing I heard a social worker say about kids who have been fostered and are adopted, about their behaviors, which can be a thing sometimes: Your mind and body are good at surviving. Sometimes what it has to do to survive don't work outside the state of trauma and crisis, and that you work on. Sometimes, you mind and body does things that you can carry forward as skills that transfer.

Both are fine, you made it and you are here and that is what matters.

However, I will run that dude over with my grannie bike, you know, just because. Miss Marple could use an outing.

And, I am so sorry that happened to you.


@jen325 It may be a protective thing, that your mind just encapsulated and sealed off any feelings of fear or anger, so that you can keep going.

Edit: Or, what the lovely PistolPackinMama had already said, much more eloquently as always!



Also- that question "I trust people, but others don't, how can I do that?" Is a really compassionate way to have that response. "I don't have this feeling, but I see and understand why other people do." It doesn't matter that it's different. It just matters that both ways are.

fondue with cheddar

@PistolPackinMama Yes, please run him over with your bike. He is a terrible person in so many ways, and I was so young and naive I didn't see it at the time. But it's so obvious now. Besides what he did to me, there were numerous red flags. He was definitely attracted to underage girls (he knocked up/married one), but as far as I know not prepubescent ones. He tried to get with me when I was 14 and he was much older (19 or 20?), and since he was respectful when I told him I wasn't interested I didn't see it as creepy.

@MoonBat Maybe that's it. My mind sealed off the whole thing for a few years but eventually I remembered. I guess it's possible that it could reveal some of it and seal off only the most troubling emotions. The panic I felt the one time I saw him, walking across the parking lot a mere 20 feet away from me as I sat in my car...that was difficult to bear.

fondue with cheddar

@PistolPackinMama Thanks. I do understand why people feel differently about things, and when I don't I try to because I think it's important. Yeah...we're all different because our experiences are all just so different. I may have an easier time living with being assaulted than the next person, but there are other ways in which I am weak where that person may be strong. And that's good, because if your strengths are my weaknesses (and vice versa), it means we can be there for each other.


@jen325 Amen to this last one, Jen325. You couldn't say it any better than: "because if your strengths are my weaknesses (and vice versa), it means we can be there for each other."

Also, I'll go put the spikey tires on Miss Marple. Don't fuck with the avenging interfering auntie.

That dude... so lucky to have escaped statutory charges. Goddamn.

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@PistolPackinMama Yeah, well she came from a bad home and her parents didn't give two shits about her, from what I understand. The perfect girlfriend/victim, right? Ugh. A small part of me hopes I run into him again so I can tell him all the ways in which he is unfit to breathe the same air as the rest of us.

Being there for each other is the best. :)


@jen325 Lots of demons, lots of red flags with that one. A history of aggressive behavior towards relatively defenseless women? Scary. And the panic, I'm sorry, honey, I sympathize completely. You're amazing and strong and have a huge heart, and none of that can be taken from you. I admire you for sharing your story with us. Big hugs to you!

fondue with cheddar

@MoonBat Oh, there are a lot more red flags than that...you have no idea. I don't know that he has a history of aggressive behavior, and honestly what he did to me might not even be considered aggressive to some (it didn't to me at first; it was just upsetting and confusing). But he was definitely manipulative. He was disrespectful toward women under the guise of being the exact opposite.

I sort of want to tell the whole story (because telling personal things to strangers-who-are-not-really-strangers is oddly liberating), but I'm not sure this is the place for it as this post and its comments are an emotional rollercoaster for some.

Thank you for your kind words and the hugs! I cringed at your use of the word "sympathize" because it suggests that you've been violated, too. I'm so sorry. It's horrible that it happened, but we're better people for it, right? Hugs!


@jen325 Yes, dear heart, but it was many moons ago, and there's no panic left now....just a deep appreciation for the people in my life who AREN'T manipulative or violent, but giving and loving instead. Also, a strong drive towards teaching my sons to respect and protect women, which they do, to a fault!

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@MoonBat Amen to that. That is why my relationship with my boyfriend is so good; we've both been mistreated, albeit in different ways, and we have an immense appreciation of each other because of it. He calls me his angel, and it's not just a term of endearment—he truly believes I saved him. Not only does it feel good to hear him say it, but it inspires me to continue living up to it. And even being with him means my life is unpredictable and drama-filled (he's still battling with his abusive ex over their children), I'm thankful to have him because he's so good to me (and for me). Hooray for wonderful people. And good for you for raising your sons right! The world needs more people who respect others. You're a hero in my eyes. :)


@PistolPackinMama Tangential to your comments, but naming your bike Miss Marple is the awesomest. And hugs to everyone coping with abusive exes! <3


@jen325 Not a hero, girl, but thank you! I was fortunate enough to have an AMAZING father, who set the standard for the men I want in my life, including the ones that I am responsible for delivering to the world.

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@MoonBat Depends on how you define "hero". ;) What you are doing is making the future world a better place, and I thank you for that.

I had an amazing father, too! It took me many years to see it because the things I admire about him now just seemed dorky and sentimental in my youth. But he is great, and if I'd had kids I would have raised them the way he raised me.

My brother is also a great guy. When my marriage ended, I didn't meet any long-term prospects for a long time, and I worried that I might not find anyone good enough. I did NOT want to pick the wrong person again. But when I looked at my brother and saw how great a man he was, how great of a husband he was, and eventually what a great father he was, he was not only an example of what to look for but also a reminder that there are good guys out there. He met his wife through an online dating site, and I figured if he was on there then chances were there were other good men on there too. It was very encouraging.


@jen325 I think the ones where you don't quite realize the extent to which things are happening/being violated is pretty terrible. It took me literally YEARS to figure out that what happened to me was Not Okay. But it helped explain the major issues I was having with guys once I was able to name what had happened to me.

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@packedsuitcase I'm sorry your experience gave you issues with guys, but I'm really glad you were able to make sense of it and see how it affected you. And most importantly, to begin the healing process. *hugs*

"I think the ones where you don't quite realize the extent to which things are happening/being violated is pretty terrible." That's SO TRUE. It's so easy to recognize that a stranger dragging you into an alley and raping you is bad. But when that person is a good friend or someone you're in a romantic relationship you've already let them in, and certain behavior has already been deemed acceptable. It's hard to know where to draw the line, and sometimes you have to put some distance between you and the incident/person before you can see how wrong it was, or that it was even wrong at all.

If you can't handle an account of molestation (adult, nonpenetrative and nonviolent), please don't read the next pagraraph.

In my case, it started out as a back massage. I'd been very close friends with this guy for years, and physical gestures of affection and nonsexual touching were normal. We would give each other neck or back massages sometimes, no big deal. Well, this one day I was at his house, and we smoked some pot. He asked me if I wanted a massage and I said yes, as usual. We usually did it sitting, but there wasn't a good place to do it in the room where we were, so I laid on my stomach on the floor and he straddled me. After a few minutes, he asked if I could pull my shirt up because the fabric was in the way. I figured that was fine because I was lying down and my boobs were against the floor. So he started rubbing my bare skin. A few minutes after that he asked if he could unhook my bra, and I hesitated but acquiesced because again, my boobs were inaccessible so I didn't see the harm in it. And besides, he was a good friend and I trusted him. So I unhooked it and he kept rubbing. It definitely felt better not having the bra band in the way. Next he was asking me to unbutton my jeans so he could get my lower back (this was back when jeans came up high), and I said yes even though I was starting to get uncomfortable. But he was a good friend and I trusted him. It took me awhile to realize that my underwear was down and that he was humping my bare ass. I'm not sure because it was a blur, but he may have been massaging me while doing it so I perceived his motions as related. I didn't really figure out what was happening until he started moaning, and I was really confused. I didn't mean to lead him on but I thought maybe I did? He's my friend and would never do something like that unless he thought I was into it, right? But I wasn't and I wanted him to stop. I wanted to get out from under him, but I was pinned. He weighed more than twice as much as me and I was on my stomach, so I was pretty much useless. When he finished and got up, I fastened my pants and bra and told him I had to go. I remember him saying something to me, probably an apology, but it's a blur. I remember him calling after me as I walked from the front door to my car, but I kept walking. I remember driving alone, trying to make sense of what the hell just happened. And then my brain closed it off. I don't think he ever mentioned it again. I actually stayed friends with him a few more years, until life sort of forced us apart (maybe his wife sensed there was something between us). Anyway, it wasn't until years later that I remembered what happened. I feel terrible that I never confronted him about it, because I acted like it never happened, which implicitly condoned it. I'm not sure if I hope or fear seeing him again.


@jen325 I'm so, so sorry. Especially familiar is the shutting down, closing it off, and not even remembering for months until something triggers horrible memories. And then you're like, why am I falling apart and crying all the time and having nightmares and so, so angry when it was months or years ago? Surely, I'm not that badly affected? But no.
And your rapist doesn't even know he's a rapist.


@jen325 I'm sorry, so sorry, girl. That's devastating on two fronts; being violated by a trusted friend, and feeling powerless at the hands of a man. When PPM finishes running him down on Miss Marple, I would like to park my 4-ton diesel on his ass, let him feel pinned and helpless for a change.


@Y'all-- for once, I haven't really got anything to say.

But you know. Fist bumps to you for being BAMFs who are doing the best you can with what you have in front of you.

And gin + Victorian lemonade + lime in the shower because sometimes you just have to say it with alcohol.


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@bashe I know, it's so horrible. It seems like it was a lot worse for you than for me. How are you with it now?

I don't even remember what the trigger was, but it just sort of slowly came back. At first I didn't know what to make of it. I thought, "Is this even real?" But the more I thought about it the more vividly I remembered and the more it made sense.

And your rapist doesn't even know he's a rapist. Yeah. Sometimes that's the worst part. I mean, he's technically not a rapist but figuratively he is. He raped our friendship, that's for sure. It's a wonder I don't have trust issues considering how badly he and other men I care about have violated my trust. But I know that for every rapist, there are a whole lot more good men out there. There are a lot of good people.

@MoonBat Thanks. And yes, that would be absolutely lovely.

@PistolPackinMama Nothing to say? Really? ;) Seriously though, thank you. Life is pretty hard to handle sometimes, but if it weren't we'd all just be pools of jelly. But now we've got hearty bread and badass crunchy peanut butter holding us together. And we've got more flavor. :)


Man, laughing to crying in 0 to 60. This was absolutely beautiful.

"No one can ever hurt you with it, because it is yours to wear like armor. You know that even sometimes when you feel alone, lost, disposable, worthless — you are not." Natalie, I can't even begin to explain how much these words will help carry me today. Thank. You.

Natalie S Bell

You guys! I am crying from reading these comments. Thank-you.


@Natalie S Bell <3


@Natalie S Bell

Natalie, I don't comment that often, but this was a really wonderful piece of writing, and I just wanted you to know. Thanks for putting it out there.

p.s. I posted it to my FB wall and it looks like you've reached quite a few of us today. Again, thank you.


@Natalie S Bell this is the only way i know how to say this: this was my jam today. really.

@Natalie S Bell Today you get ALL the love! <3333


@Natalie S Bell Yes, thank you. It is a wonderful piece.


beautifully written and a wonderful affirmation at the end. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever the only one to break down weeping in a yoga class...


@junglbear Mannn one of the instructors at my studio always talks about his various yoga breakdowns, and I'm kind of jealous! I think it'd be nice to work through issues in a way that links the physical and mental/spiritual! So go on with your yoga weeping!


Thank you so much for sharing this.


It is your 10th birthday. Your dad lets you know that he'll be coming to pick you up from school.

He arrives, right as everyone is leaving, in his beat-up, aqua-marine VW rabbit, which has now been DECORATED with poster paint and balloons. Yes, it is Loudly Proclaiming itself to be Ophelia's Birthday Bus.

You are totally mortified.

20 years later, you are planning to this to your own children some day.


I would like to take a moment to distinguish between "things that are embarrassing when they happen" vs. "things that can be embarrassing to talk about," because everything before #9 is the former and everything after #9 is the latter. Because I absolutely love that this post is of the species that helps other people feel less embarrassed about their own experience and calls attention to stigmatization of certain experiences.


Also, today's thing that's more embarrassing than a bird shitting on my head: bursting into tears in my office because my bestie leaves town for three weeks today and then not being able to get myself back together even an hour later and knowing I'm going to carry on for a while.

(Seriously. She's, like, helping out her parents for a while and will be emailing and phoning and duh, coming back! WTF?!)


@Xanthophyllippa I felt this way when my best friend left for student exchange to France for 12 months just when I was starting my final year of school. LOTS of holding it together at school and then long showers with lots of crying. I couldn't cry at the airport saying goodbye to her because I was blocking everything.


I would love to know which specific asana brought on your emotion. So I can try the same one. Thanks!

Natalie S Bell

@tweenymama It was pigeon. If I'm going to ugly cry, it's usually going to be in that pose.
And as a teacher, if I want to make people cry, I will hold them in that pose. Haha! Just kidding. But for reals, there's a ton of stuff that pigeon brings up, and if you're looking to explore the emotional/psychological side of the practice, that one will give you lots to work with.
I highly recommend any of Seane Corn's classes/workshops/DVDs or whatever you can get your hands on, because she is my girl. Also she has really pretty hair.


Love to you, Natalie Bell.


This is a wonderful, open and honest piece of writing. What your dear friend said about the stories that are worth reading is absolutely true, and this piece is a shining example of it. Thank you so much for sharing.


I just have so much respect and love for all the survivors and those who love them on this thread. Love you all, 'Pinners! And Natalie, thank you so much for sharing your story, and conveying that blinding rage so eloquently. It feels so, so scary, but leaning into it and walking through it is the only way to be free, I think. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Raymond Hoser@facebook

Well we were at a reptile partyrecently and a kid had a snake poo all over him. Later the mum had a python poo inside her bra!
All the best


Amazing. Seriously.

Also, you may have a new follower on your blog. Because, ummm, yeah. You are kind of amazing.


I wasn't expecting this to turn out as dark as it did, or that it would resonate with me so much. Great piece.


Oh, lady. Wow.


@MissMushkila - what is it about Alexandria? My first crazy-cosmic-vibrations healing experience happened while I was in Alexandria. I arrived to find out that my new roommate (who I only knew through a mutual highly ambivalent friend) had been molested as a child by a family member. I deduced this because she used exactly the same euphemisms I'd been using to explain various intimacy issues to various boyfriends for years. And yoga was a big healing element for her, and the two of us were very intent on practicing yoga twice a day, mostly just to deal with our paper-thin mattresses and daily stresses, and now she is a yoga therapist.

I thought it was kind of amazing that the city where I considered the possibility of being groped every time I walked out the door was also the city where I finally began to get a handle on some of those earlier violations.


Oh my god, #7! Only minus the hippie parents, and also there was truth-or-dare at said slumber party and my dare was to do a handstand...
Yeah, didn't really think that one through until it was too late.


I registered in order to comment. I admire the courage you've displayed here.


That--took a turn. I'm actually rather pissed off. Literary sucker punch.

I get why it would undermine the writing to have a trigger warning, but I still think it's kind of fucked up. The title, and the tone of the first half, like we are a more clever "YM: Say Anything" and then nightmare.

And I am sad about the shame that rides on the hurt that is strapped on us.


Natalie S Bell... I sent this to my very own Natalie. She is my yoga teacher (actually BFF and doesn't teach yoga but you know what I mean). You are wonderful with words and I love pigeon! Thank you for sharing..and the best thing my Natalie ever said to me was "You are walking on hot coals and it sucks and you are standing in the middle of a tornado..nothing can be the same after a tornado.
Yes, it will be different but it will also be better. I promise."
She was right.


I know this thread is way over, but Natalie, I just wanted to say that I read this, and I didn't cry. I realized I should have. And then I thought a lot about some things, mostly about my feelings, and I made an appointment to go back to counseling.

Thank you.


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