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--"What kind of dancer/martial artist/writer are you?

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  • Bella Dancer

BULLSH!T MANWICH - The Lies We Believe (And What We Parrot Ourselves)

Updated: Apr 8

Continued from:

I AM NOT AN OBJECT - More Rape & Death Threats

CLOVEN FRUIT - Dodging Devils in the Pale Moonlight

DROWNING - When the Rum Runs Through


Today we’re going to dive into the festering depths of the basement. You know, that nasty, stinky place full of spiderweb snares and bear traps that snap their jaws-of-doom around your ankle when you step onto that (seemingly) innocent pile of trash you blindly hurled down there. This is the home of self-hatred. It is Ereshkigal’s lair. In this place, regret oozes down the walls. Shame drips from the ceiling to form toxic pools with all the guilt-ash that has rained down from the volcanic eruptions you swear you must have “brought upon yourself.” (4)


Maybe you did. Maybe you had your reasons, and maybe they weren’t good enough to justify what you did.


Maybe they were absolutely good enough.


Or maybe you’re not to blame at all, but since you were born with this basement, you would never know that, so you keep making worse decisions that reinforce this inaccurate notion until it's no longer inaccurate.


Maybe it's still inaccurate. Maybe accuracy depends upon perspective. Who knows? I don't.


And yes, we’re also still on about all the sexual assault, domestic violence, and childhood abuse stuff. If you’re sensitive to these sorts of things, you might not wanna come downstairs with me today. (1-9)


Of course, if you do stick around for the grand finale of this series, you’ll get to witness one of the most dramatic transformations I’ve ever undergone in my life. While reading my memoirs, it's always important to remember that I’m a Sagittarius. The farther I get dragged backwards, the farther I’ll shoot when I’m released.





I don’t have much to say about Stan. We were together for awhile. It was…fine. In the beginning, it seemed like it would be way more than fine, like it usually does. He and I joined my first SCA household together, which was an exhilarating time of exploration, whirlwind travel, fantastical sights, and memorable characters all decked in medieval finery and armor.


Beyond that, Stan and I didn’t have much in common, and I was way more into the SCA than he was. After awhile, I could feel his interest waning, whereas mine only grew in strength and momentum with every month I played. I was a History Major, after all, and the combination of dancey-fighty-character-creation is the foundational triad of my passionate composition.


But Stan and I hadn’t gotten together because we had tons in common. On my end, it was one part loneliness, one part desire, and three parts subconscious desperation brought on by those night terrors, death threats, and flashbacks.


It happened all too easily. A couple of Hal’s SCA friends had a buddy named Stan. They’d enticed him into joining the Society not long after I did. We all hung out. For a brief fizzle, Stan had dated Kelly, Kyle’s and my best girl. She had been Kyle’s high school sweetheart-turned-bestie that I had snagged as Mine after he moved to California. She lived in an apartment on the floor below mine and we had become inseparable. I don’t think Kelly and Stan even lasted a week.


Well, one night, there he was, crying in his beer and on my shoulder about how things had gone wrong. I cried in my wine cooler and on his shoulder about how much I missed Kyle and how much I dreaded having to move to Pasadena in order to be with him. Blah blah blah. Cry, hug, kiss-kiss…KISS.


Fuck.


Because when I got home from that Cloven Fruit event up in Canada, I didn’t break up with Kyle. Should have. Couldn’t. I wanted to have my Twue Wuv and eat cake, too, but there was no cake to be had in the Los Angeles sprawl. Not for me. Alas, it was the only cake that could satisfy my beloved artist, and I never would have wished him to leave.


Because I truly did love him.


So all week, I kept trying to convince myself that it was just jitters about a new and daunting place. It was nothing more than the small-town girl being scared of the Big City.


Bullshit. I wasn’t scared of LA.


I couldn't stand that place. I hadn’t even enjoyed visiting it. Visiting Kyle? Absolutely. But even he had been different while we were in town before we headed up the coast into the magical wilderness of the Redwoods, just the two of us. I knew the differences weren't a momentary thing I would have to weather in order to enjoy the majority of wonderfulness. He was still wonderful. But these changes were simply who he was becoming as he bonded with his new home, his new life. He had to, in that place of wall-to-wall traffic and too-fast lane-zippers, that smog-choked oppression and the flat, aggressive hunkering of the concrete’s energetic resonance.


I couldn’t breathe in that place, and I don’t only mean literally. So after coming home from my second SCA event, for a week straight I danced and trained and sewed like a fiend. I also drank more wine coolers than usual. I didn’t want to feel it. Didn’t want to see it. Really didn’t wanna do what I knew in my guts that I had to do: I had to tell Kyle that I’d cheated on him for the second time, no matter if I decided to go to California or not.


But I’m not actually much of a drinker. College and my early SCA years were my heaviest stint of that, and even then, it wasn't a regular thing. Perhaps if it had been more consistent, alcohol wouldn't have had such a volatile effect upon my system and therefore my life. But I remained a lightweight. Mostly, I drowned myself in a human, especially after I finally mustered up the guts to own up to what I had done.


Kyle dumped me. Duh. He’s an intelligent guy.


Lying, cheating, and hurting him like that runs so counter to my core being that I had also gutted myself in the process. I could have taken Kyle’s rage, and rest assured, he was furious. I could have even withstood him telling me how deeply I had hurt him--I had known that as I did it and despised myself for it.


But Kyle was Kyle, and he forgave me, even that day when I told him. That’s actually what imploded me--his forgiveness. His kindness. I contemplated suicide. (4) Got really close after I hung up the phone. Didn’t. Instead, I threw myself back into dancing, writing, finishing college, the SCA, and a rebound romance while secretly punishing myself for a solid year-and-a-half.

Ultimately, that seed of Kyle’s love and compassion would be one of the things that saved me. We’re still friends to this day, and I adore the woman he was destined to marry. As for Stan, I suspect he and I can probably take each other or leave each other. I don’t know whatever happened to him.


My next boyfriend, Graham, on the other hand…yeaaah, last I knew, he despises me. I do not blame him. I despised me pretty hard, too. I just had no idea of the extent.


When it comes to sexual trauma, we talk about perpetrators, assigning correct responsibility, and overcoming. We talk about those things a lot, because I'M A SURVIVOR, RAWR!!! And I am. I do a great deal of work to ensure that, and I never stop honing it because: fact. I have been the victim of multiple felonious and unconscionable-but-legal crimes. (1-9)


The thing I’ve noticed with me, once I can get beyond the full-body shudders and the squick, beyond looking over my shoulder at every turn, beyond the nightmares and the flashbacks and all the subconscious decisions driving me away from every version of dark alleys, there’s this other thing.


There’s this guilt and shame cocktail that perpetuates the trauma long after it is done, and for me it’s far crueler because it’s self-inflicted.


I don’t only mean, “OMG, I wore that thing so I must have asked for it. I walked down that dark alley so what did I expect? I walked into his house and I kissed him. I spent all day laughing and letting him help me build my armor and I invited him into my apartment and we were alone, so why wouldn’t he think that--"

I don’t care what I wore.

I don’t care where I walked.

I don’t care how hot my lips were when I kissed him.

I don’t care how many “nice” things I let him do for me.


It gives no license.

NONE.


And.


And he was an adult, so how could I stop being yanked off a changing table by my ankles? Surely I could have mustered up a bit of telekinesis and thrown him into a wall.


I barely reached his knees so how the fuck could I fight him off? Surely I could have Hulked out my four-year-old body and gotten free. Surely?


There’s a huge difference between a naive, sheltered thirteen-year-old girl and a sixteen-year-old badboy, so how could I have had the remotest idea of what I was getting myself into when I told him that cherry was my favorite flavor of lollipop? Wut? It is. Even to this day. Surely I could have mustered up some sort of telepathy to understand, or at least gotten run over by the flippin' clue bus.


I did get run over. The bus’s name was Trent Nyquist.


And then there’s always the fact that this other one was my boyfriend, so “that’s not rape.”


You can’t see me right now, but my lips are pressed together and my head is doing that “oh, I see” lift along with the “uh-huh-sure” eyebrows.


And no. I don’t mean Trent. I mean the guy I dated my freshman year of college--the guy I dated just before Kyle. Lucky-ducky Kyle Kane. You remember the year I couldn’t bear to look at, so I wiped half the memories from my harddrive, right? Not that it’s an excuse for everything I did three years later, but it is a huge factor in every one of my decisions, especially all the ones revolving around sex and romantic intimacy. And communication. And self-defense. And listening to my gut instincts. And…

And I was the stupid one who opened my door, didn’t boot Satyr from my bedroom, then crawled in between him and the wall, praying that he’d continue to be nice--but sheesh!--not that nice. Surely I could have foreseen that he would menace me with rape threats when I said no.


I was the stupid one who told the girlfriend of a biker-gang’s leader that she didn’t have to take that shit.


(Since writing previous episodes of this adventure, I have learned that I didn't breathe so much as a word about Satyr or Theo to my fiancé any more than I confided in anybody else, which tells me exactly what I was doing with the situation. I was trying to dump it down into the basement and forget about it, in the hopes that it would politely go away. How nice of me to help out my abusers with my silence.)


I was the stupid one who drank myself silly one night while I was engaged to a man who lived in California, then drowned my loneliness and depression in a guy whose hips outdid Patrick Swayze’s. The guy's name was Russ. I let dancing vertically lead to dancing horizontally, then got even more stupid when I learned this guy was not single after all. He was the boyfriend of an old friend of mine.


I learned this a few nights later when I came to tell him that I couldn't go there with him again and that I was going to have to tell my fiancé what had happened between us. But my friend answered the door. She was as shocked to see me as I was to see her. That was a bit awkward. The dude literally ran away before facing us together.


Stupid me, surely I could have mustered up that darned elusive telepathy to know that he and his buddies would put out a “kill on sight” order because I threatened to tell my friend the truth if he didn’t. (Apparently that’s a common thing in Minnesota. Assholes, buddies, death threats. Who knew? Does that come from winter boredom? I dunno. Hmmm, as I glance through the internet comments sections. Maybe it’s not just a Minnesota thing…) 🤨 (9)


Moving on.

I was the stupid one who got a job. Dumb me, what was I thinking? I mean, being a female employee with a male boss, looking like I do? Come on. I was sooooo asking for all that shit by the way I copied those documents!


The twisted parts of my psyche want to habitually swear that I did ask for it--must have, otherwise why would they--how could they have done those things?


Cerebrally, I know that I didn't ask for sexual assault, rape or death threats, molestation, or sexual harassment with a single thing I did.


But that's cerebrally.


I wonder…would those feelings be so invasive and automatic, would those self-damning thoughts have such a long-lasting and marrow-deep hold if I hadn’t had those guilt-laden sentiments pumped into me from every direction ever since my brain formed its baby-basic building blocks?


It was right there in the way my family’s religion had gotten twisted. It was there in every question about, “What were you wearing? Where did you go? Did you have anything to drink? Did you come onto him? Are you sure--really, really sure you didn’t consent and now you’re just crying ‘rape’ because you have harlot’s--I mean buyer’s remorse? Because I know, being a slut by having sex out of wedlock carries a heavy burden for a female and I’m sure it’s not enjoyable to reap the consequences of your immoral, immodest, evil, sinful whore-ways so…”


So I wonder how I would feel about every instance of sexual trauma, from the subversive to the violent, if I hadn’t had that guilt and shame crap crammed down my throat from before I could form words or stand up off that changing table.

Or is this simply the nature of sexual trauma?


No clue, because I did have it crammed down there, crammed in there, rammed up there. Heck, I had an energetic infusion of it from the moment my mother’s magical cauldron started brewing me up inside her. The cramming became overt the moment she squeezed me out her birth canal and everybody saw that I, too, possess a vagina. Those trends are going strong in the world even today. (5-8)


For the first twenty-six years of my life, I reflexively ate all those bullshit manwiches because that's what had been put on my plate. That's what I had been taught to fix for mealtimes.


But there were some insidious tentacles infiltrating those teachings from the moment I discovered belly dance at nineteen. At twenty-two, my first dance student introduced me to organic food and meals that were not sandwiches. Then somebody put a weapon into my hand and taught me how to use it.


A few years later, I had a complete mental collapse that turned my world on its head. In my 20th Anniversary Series about my first car wreck, I told you what I did after that collapse. I did The Artist's Way and my first chakra cleanse, which started reversing all that childhood brainwashing. Now that I am approaching the point of equilibrium where I've had just as many years actively working to undo the damage caused by all those societal lies...I finally feel like it's starting to balance out and tip in my favor.


But it takes constant vigilance and devoted diligence. It's a very active project that I also set to "Run In Perpetuity" in the background.


With modern understanding of trauma's effects upon the body and neurology (4), I hope it doesn't take you as long as it's taken me.


So…yeah. Stan.

(Toldja I don’t have much to say about him.)


Those were the operating systems and background virus programs running when I met him. Once Satyr and Theo happened, I didn’t have the guts to jump ship from Kyle’s and my leaky boat until I knew I had a safe place to land, so I did the cheating thing. Then I did have buyer’s remorse because Stan was not Kyle. But I stayed with him.


That is, until a 6’2” combat vet came along. Seeing as how Graham provided a far better shield against the threats of rape and death looming over my head, I jumped ship again. Does that make me a selfish bitch? Well, it sure makes me several unpleasant things.


So Graham...


I needed him. He…wanted me? I dunno, he needed a rent-free apartment with a complimentary maid? Once the customary rabid-bunny-boinking subsided after a couple months, it sure wasn’t about the companionship--not for him. It wasn’t even about the sex anymore. I couldn’t get that guy to boink me for all the video game controllers in Christendom. It didn’t take long before I rarely saw my boyfriend except for the messes he left in his wake or the times when we hung out with his friends and their girlfriends.

I honestly don’t know what it was that inspired him to craft such a dramatic fireworks display of tail feathers in his efforts to lure me away from Stan. My ass maybe? My winsome personality? I’m sure I was loads of winsome in the aftermath of Satyr, Theo, Hal, and Kyle. If I actually managed to pull that one off, it was a clown-act of desperation. For sure, I was loads of ass.

Assholery.

Asshattery.

Smartassery.

Ass-inine.


For my safety and sanity, I eventually had to distance myself from Marlene. I hated letting Theo win like that, and I hated having to abandon my friend and her six-year-old. But I couldn’t do anything for them, and I desperately needed to do something about the threats to myself and my own family.

So once the danger of Theo dissipated, I no longer felt such desperate need for a protector at my side to keep the bogeymen away every night. I also was comfortable enough in the SCA--and comfortable enough carrying my big stick that I wasn’t terrified of going to events alone anymore.


Graham wasn’t remotely interested in joining me, but he didn’t care that I still wanted to go. After the boinking faded, he didn’t really care much about anything to do with me except for the roof I put over his head. After awhile, he didn’t care much about that either.


At that point, I no longer needed Graham, but I still wanted a partner, a companion, a lover. Alas, he gradually resorted to his old patterns once the chemical high of “falling in wuv” had faded--like it does. Month by month, he spent more time playing video games at his best friend’s house where he used to live. Even if he’d had a system of his own at my place, I don’t know how much I would have seen the whites of his eyes. (Having lived five years with someone who had that particular addiction, I can now say with authority: probably not much.)


Most thorny issue of all, Graham hated the fact that I expected him to actually…um…help clean the messes he helped make. I know. So unreasonable of me. Especially since I paid all the rent and utilities. That was supposed to be temporary. It wasn’t. He never once helped me with those bills.


See, not long after we got together, his roommates “heartlessly” kicked him out and I wuved him, so I was supremely understanding about how little his part-time job paid while he “kept applying” for something better. Was he disabled? No. Did he have a chronic health condition? Well, combat-induced PTSD is a pretty significant condition, so I cut the guy a lot of slack in the job department and in the attitude department.


Remember that one.


It's very important to this tale.


Month after month, I patiently (foolishly) paid for everything except his half of the groceries and his gas. He kept applying for a second job so he could pitch in, but conveniently (purportedly), nobody would ever hire him. Yet I still only expected him to continue helping me keep the place not-revolting, like he'd done while he was trying to prove what a great roommate he would be before I invited him to come live with me. Apparently that made me all sorts of horrible things.


Ah, what outrageous levels of spic-and-spanness that I demanded. A floor one could freely walk on? Ridiculous.


Co-washing the dishes that he ate all his meals on, or heck, at least bringing them into the kitchen for me to wash instead of leaving them under his clothes and books and toys and crap that covered the entirety of the bedroom floor except where the box spring sat and the door opened? Outlandish. (Whenever anyone came to visit, I literally had to throw piles of his crap into that back room and shut the door.)


What was I thinking when I asked him not to leave his everything strewn from the front door to the bedroom like a blast zone?


My requests for help turned into insistence, which turned into chronic fighting. Yet every fight that verged toward me dumping him and kicking him out always produced a swath of apologies backed by his remorseful admission that he was being resistant as a backlash to "heavy-handed military superiors and an abusive mother." He said that having me on his back about cleaning reminded him of everything she had done to him and all that time in a war zone.


How could I not have patience and compassion for that?


His apologies, occasionally his full-body shaking and tears, and his requests to help him "do better from now on" would produce a honeymoon phase. Like it does in covert psychological abuse. (1) For weeks, I would be treated to all the promises, attention, affection, gifties, and enthusiastic help with cleaning.


Until my guard lowered. Then we would gradually backslide into fighting over how much I reminded him of his mother and the military's dictatorial policies. And round and round we went.


I understand now that it wasn't only my compassion for someone's rough situation that kept me stuck riding this hamster wheel. I mean, I had always been a sucker for a sob-story and would turn myself inside-out to help someone I cared about. Obviously, with how long I tried to help Marlene.


But after what I had done to Kyle (and a gazillion other underlying facets of self-hatred), I had slapped a harsh sentence upon myself. Deep down, I didn't believe I deserved anything better. Just like I had upgraded my shield against bogeymen when I switched from Stan to Graham, I had also upgraded my subconscious weapons with which to wound myself even further.


Graham delivered like a champ. Because suddenly, there were two of them. Annie Do-Gooder Doing Penance that I was, I allowed his homeless buddy to crash on my couch. It took almost two months for me to make it clear that my apartment was not a shelter for low-income lost boys. I should have kicked them both out.


I only managed one.


In a last-ditch attempt to get it through Graham's head, I committed my biggest transgression of all. I threw a fit, mutinied, and cleaned the entire apartment, except for his side of MY bedroom. That did not go over well. How dare I wash and put away my own laundry but throw his dirty clothes onto his ever-growing mountain? What right did I have to say one friggin’ word about the bugs I found under his nasty t-shirt?


I’m such an unreasonable bitch.


To top it all off, I learned that he had been faking combat-induced PTSD--yes, the whole litany of fictional nightmares, flashbacks, mumbled descriptions of burned bodies and all.


100% MANWICH BULLSHIT.


The truth was that he had been kicked out of basic training for decking his drill sergeant.



CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

UP NEXT: What I did when I finally learned the truth - and not only about Graham. About myself, too. MOVING ON: A Crucifix, Sandalwood, and Lemon Lysol

OR: If I've got a whole slew of posts about learning THE ARTS OF SELF-DEFENSE

--THE NAVIGATION TABLE OF CONTENTS


I am not the person to ask about these touchy topics. The people at the links in RED are.



A FEW LINKS - IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM BEFORE


1) Coercive Control, Boundaries & Psychological Abuse

Covert tactics manipulators use to control and confuse

Coercive Control & Psychological Abuse

The Tactics

Why your boundaries are not welcome in an abusive relationship

Setting healthy boundaries after an abusive relationship


Remember that online activity can be tracked, so make sure you are in a safe place to click on these links before you do:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) TTY 1-800 - 787-3224


2) Neurodivergence, Trauma & Abuse

--Neurodivergence, Abuse & Adult Females

--Toxic/Abusive Relationships and Autism

--What Autistic Women Want You to Know - including why there is a greater risk for falling prey to abusers and predators. (In the past few years, it’s also understood that this manifestation that differs from the stereotypical “Rainman” or “Sheldon” archetype is not merely limited to females.)

--Unsafe, Unheard, Misunderstood - A number of lesser known and lesser understood atypical types of trauma experienced by neurodivergent people. These constant stressors encourage masking, people pleasing, the dismissal of instincts and one’s own needs, and not standing or speaking up for one’s self.


3) The Pathological Predator’s Preferred Prey Personalities

(Can I SQUEEZE any more Ps in there?)

--Supertraits - Beyond Empathy and Codependence in Survivors of Pathological Abuse

--The profile of the conscienceless predator’s preferred prey - Sandra L. Brown M.A and the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction


4) The Traumatized Mindset & C-PTSD


The Suicide Hotline

800-273-8255


Complex PTSD - how prolonged and repeated childhood trauma rewires the nervous system and manifests in personality, self-esteem, and behaviors

8 Signs You Might Be Traumatized

How Trauma & Dissociation interrupt the ability to form memories

—One of the best books I have ever read in my life: The Body Keeps the Score - Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma

—Don't want to read the book? Here's the basic premise of what trauma does to the body and why talking about it, even in therapy, so often doesn't solve the problems: Short Version. Or Long Version by the author himself

—A few of the myriad healing techniques discussed in the book: EMDR, Yoga, Mindfulness & Support Network. These are only a few the book covers.

EMDR: The technique that has given me the most success, both for immediate single-incident trauma (my big car wreck) and for C-PTSD.


5) #MeToo and More Fun Feminine TomFoolery


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) - Including the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE


It’s no wonder men objectify us when our bodies are asking for it

Schrodinger’s Rapist - why women assume the worst about that guy who's "just trying to be nice"

—Schrodinger’s Rapist - yes, we have to talk about this aga

—ALSO: Sexual violence committed upon males hits just as hard--and it's not only done by other males. They're just silenced and stigmatized, which heaps on more damage to male survivors, and it further perpetuates the cultural "boys will be boys" myth that “males are either sexually insatiable and aggressive or pussies; females are weak, pure damsels or conniving, manipulating whores.”


6) #YouToo: A Few At-Risk Populations

Rape Statistics by State 2021

Rape Statistics by Country 2021 - and how difficult it is to get an accurate account. Anywhere. Because not everybody calls rape "rape". Remember once upon a time that wives were considered "unrapeable?" In a bunch of places, they still are, and even in spite of US laws it's still difficult to prove even here.

—Ooooh, and remember that time the United States conveniently labeled Black females "unrapeable" so they could do what they wanted to their slaves? That crap still trickles down into attitudes today:

The legal system has failed Black girls, women, and non-binary survivors of violence.

American Indian and Alaska Native women are still the highest at-risk group for violence and sexual trauma--96% from non-Native perpetrators because the indigenous Nations have been stripped of their authority to prosecute them.

—Another hidden atrocity: People with disabilities are more than seven times higher to experience sexual assault than people without.

7) Women, Sex & Violence

When Women Refuse - a collection of stories about violence inflicted upon women who refuse sexual advances. Even a mere scan is appalling.

Male sex entitlement is killing women

Sexual Violence Myths & Misconceptions

--Violence against women: Where are the solutions?

Did you know your phone has a PANIC Emergency Button?

8) Rape Threats:

Rape Threat

Rape Threats on Instagram

Toxic Twitter: women's experience with rape and death threats

Random Rape Threat Generator (RRTG) - Disarming the personalized terror invoked by the online Rape Threat by showing just how overused, common, and uninventive they actually are. Because this tactic is not a technology problem. It’s an interpersonal problem that has nothing to do with the person receiving the threat.

What the RRTG tells us about online misogyny

A conversation: “Is threatening to rape someone illegal?” My perpetrator did not use “I WILL” language. He used “I COULD.” This makes it extremely difficult to prosecute, especially because I had no physical evidence of the threat, no one else witnessed it, and he thankfully did not follow through with action.

“NO” is a complete sentence. Full Stop.

Additionally.

—🖕Lawnmowers.🖕


9) Death Threats, Stalking & Harassment

--Criminal penalties for murder threats

--Do online death threats count as free speech?

--Do social media death threats count as real threats or just venting?

--The relentless deluge of threats & harassment for female political candidates...

--...And if you speak out about sexism in the gaming world...

--...And so many other places - Brianna Wu appalled at the FBI's GamerGate "investigative" report

--...Or have the audacity to lose a game in sports



**It should be noted that I’ve never been threatened with rape by a guy nicknamed Satyr or had my life threatened by a guy named Theo. I've also never been molested and chased down a dark road by a boy named Trent, or dated a pathological liar named Graham. That makes this tale a work of fiction.


Based on the pieces of my life that aren’t.

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