Mentally Ill Forts

It was like dropping off a kid to build a fort. Yesterday.

The drive was surreal. My mom had purchased him a backpack. My brother in law had given him jackets. My sister and I had been purchasing him massive amounts of medical marijuana over the last month. I gave him a blank journal, a pen, and written all of our phone numbers in the journal. The last two gifts were a bag of marijuana brownies, of which he hate 1.5 immediately and my partner gave him a container of weed, a pipe, and rolling papers.

We had been getting him sober off heroin for the last month- the weed was his medicine. But it remained clear that he was never able to reach the heights he desired with it. It also remained clear to us that mental illness and living on the streets for nearly the last 10 years was not something you can love away.

I remain sickeningly angry at his dad. His dad who got to create this mentally ill man with the use of iron fists, baseball bats, a lifelong infiltration of his mind with strict ideas on conspiracy and a latch and key heart that ties my brother’s poor mind to the idea that the 60’s and 70’s were so much better than today- so much so that it is part of what makes it impossible for him to survive in this world today.

My mom retrieved him from a hospital in Texas one month ago.  It was a relief that he had broken his hip. My mom is accustomed to the hospital calling because he has overdosed again. Because he has flown too high on human wings and almost left this world, yet again. But this time it was physical- still a result of drug use as he was hit by a car because he was doing karate in the middle of the street at 2 am. My sister wrote a beautiful plea to humanity and a story of how we hope this time we can save him- from himself.

But are we trying to save him from himself? In my mind, we are still trying to save him from his now-dead father. A sociopath. The person who beat him so badly his whole life that few can imagine. The father who held a gun to son’s head once. Hit him with baseball bats and golf clubs.

We are trying to save him from anger that gurgles from his veins at every chance. Anger that he has never ever been willing to talk about. We are trying to save him from true mental illness. He can’t think like we can. He can’t process consequences. He can’t see himself as a little boy even though that is exactly what he still is. Whether by brain damage caused by all the beatings and being thrown across the room so often like he was a rag doll or by genetics or by both and all and everything- he cackles loud laughter at inappropriate moments, he lurches his body at random and grips his sides with a grimace and makes punctuating noises to the thoughts that fly through his mind, he jumps up from his chair and paces the house with no purpose. He wants the music played as loud possible.

But we can’t save him from his mental illness- we just wanted to save him from the street and heroin this time.

He stayed with our mom for a month and I took him one night a week on the weekends. He was grateful when he arrived in Colorado, but then it went downhill. As it always does. Keeping him high was helpful, and we spent at least $300 a week on marijuana. Friends donated to help us. But no amount of anything will ever keep the amount of anger he has inside at bay. Because he refuses to talk about it. Refuses, of course, to cry. Refuses to talk about his dad in any other way than uplifting. His dad had money, cars, houses- all we had for him was love and that love NEVER saved him- so we are still the weak ones. 

We are still the ones he is angry at. My mom ended up with the maniacal man we know a couple of weeks after she picked him up. Screaming, saying horrible things to her, demanding whatever he wanted in that particular moment- which was mostly that he wanted to be dropped off in downtown Denver with $20. 

He won. Or really his disease won. We’ll wait it out and see if the drugs win. He doesn’t win at all, ever. Because there is no containing him. The people who he believes failed him his whole life can’t fix him. And he must have some understanding that to be “fixed” he would have to walk back through his childhood. In order to survive everything he experienced, he had to leave it immediately.

I will never forget my mom’s story of being in the hospital with him when he was little and the doctors leaving the room and him turning to my mom to ask, “What will we tell them about all my bruises (from dad)?” His heart has been broken a million times over and it’s broken all of our hearts. And his father’s legacy is that he gets to die and we are left with his heartbreak still. A walking monolith to another man’s madness.

A broken little boy lives in the body of a 32 year old man and walks the streets and asks women for money in parking lots. He brags about how he can turn on the charm to women in parking lots and tells them a lie about being kicked out and he gets sympathy and kind words and some change. And it occurs to me that that’s the only love he can handle now. Little bits of love from strangers who don’t trigger his real memories. He’s been screaming to my mom, my sister, and I, “I just can’t BE HERE WITH YOU ANYMORE!!!!” We ask him why and he repeats himself. He cannot because we are movie screens of beatings and put-downs. Our cells smell like broken bones and bruises to him. Our skin feels like sweet honey before a monster comes around the corner and tears him from safety. 

It was like dropping off a kid to build a fort. I drove with my brother, a backpack, a blanket, and 3 McDonald’s sausage biscuits to find him the spot where he wanted to make his way the right way. I showed him the area where shelters are. He didn’t want to be there. I showed him Broadway and he said this is the ticket while he mumbled out stories of life on the street and how he needed to get himself some crack- some “stones” he said. He cackled out stories of snitching on other homeless people just to get them off his corner. He chortled on about screaming FUCK YOU to the cops and how they could put him in jail for 12 hours and he didn’t care because he would win his corner- he would be right back on it. He was excited for me to let him out of the car.

“Oh OH, Court, LOOK! There’s a mattress against that dumpster and a pallet I can tear apart and use! Oh YEAH! Right here, leave me right here.”

We got his things out of the car, I stuffed his blanket into a bag. I smiled and hugged him and told him to call me (he has no cell phone so he asks others to use their phones, I always hope someone will let him.) I watched him walk behind the 7-11 at Broadway and Alameda. A neighborhood I actually hang out in frequently.

ryan leaving

 

He is king of himself on the streets and he’s never been that before. He’s never done anything for someone to be proud of. He literally can’t. His brain doesn’t know how to do any of the things you or I will and he will not willingly see a doctor.

If you see my brother- a blue eyed man with a chiseled perfect nose and a slight limp from a healing broken hip- please give him something. Please love him for just a moment, because you can. Please ask him to call his mom and his sisters.

I drove away sobbing.

 

 

Concessions to Cancer

See this talk on Youtube

 

​This world has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. I’ve watched it happen. Many of us cringe at what is the “new normal.” Many of us remember when cancer was a strange thing for a family member to get and when we could lock our kids outside to play and that was an acceptable way to parent. Many of us remember building things out of reclaimed wood before real hammers and nails were deemed too dangerous and kids too irresponsible. I remember when red food dye was found to cause cancer and, for a decade, ​M&M’s had no red ones in the bag! They weren’t even using the same kind of red dye that was in question, but because consumers were actually scared of cancer, they just stopped with red M&M’s so they wouldn’t lose sales.

Please think about that. In 1976 people were concerned about getting cancer and they did what they needed to do for themselves and their families to AVOID GETTING CANCER. What do you hear most often now? “Everything causes cancer!” with a dismissive wave of the hand. Please stop and think. Stop. And think. A very large company took an ingredient out of their famous candies because they knew that some people would stop buying their candy and even, possibly, because they were concerned about public health. This is absolutely unheard today and we need to do some serious introspection about how we got to place where, literally, it is truth that, “Everything causes cancer,” and we just sit back and let it.

Through the desensitization of the public, companies have no reason at all avoid cancer-causing ingredients. We are completely naïve and bordering on suicidal if we believe that corporations or the FDA are protecting us. If they were protecting us then parabens, BHA, all types of SLS (sodium laurel sulfate- a surfactant or soap), food coloring, and chlorine (one of the most well-known poisons) in our drinking water would have been banned by now if even ever been allowed into our consumption ring.

I am not dramatizing the dangers of these chemicals, either. All of them are well-documented as cancer-causing. No science has denied that. What has been denied, and the job of the FDA comes in here, is how much and often the general public consumes these chemicals due to their prevalence across the board in such a myriad of products. If anyone recognizes this, it’s the FDA. But is does not take rocket science for any of you to walk down an aisle at the grocery store and read labels (you do also need to know the “other” “new” names of these chemicals because they are very often called different things on different labels). You can very easily see that a person could end up with an entire cart of 1-5 known cancer causing chemicals in every product. The main argument for many of these chemicals is that they are at “safe” levels in our food and water. But “safe” levels do not account for them being in every food and in every single soap on the shelves.

Really, the absolute most important question here is- why are ANY cancer causing chemicals ALLOWED on the market?? Why??? I grew up in the 70’s and it was not some disgusting dirty germ-filled world where food was full of bacteria and spoiled quickly. Because that’s what these chemicals do. But we truly cannot say that the chemicals we have allowed have improved any quality of life whatsoever. Again, stop and realize that adding cancer causing chemicals into our ring has not changed life at all. Our food supply is truly no more safe, our soaps don’t work better than they used to, and there are not less germs and bacteria in our world.

Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think that picketing outside of anywhere is going to change the world or even one company. So I ask that you change your consumption. I ask that you find what we found in the 70’s unacceptable to be unacceptable again. That cancer should not be common and does not have to be. That poisoning our children through blasé attitudes about what they are exposed to just stop. Stop and care.

I began this article because I wanted desperately to write about the extremely frightening rise in skin cancer just since 1992 in our country. I wanted to write about all the possible chemical contributors in your soaps and lotions to this 77% increase in the incidence of skin cancer. But then my research and my anger got the best of me and this just became about all of our societal concessions that we’ve made since I was a kid.

Perk up. Stop conceding to cancer. And expect another article from me

Courtney Henslee

www.brazenbeebeauty.com

One Mom and the World

brazen family

This dream is one of deeply rooted passion and love for humanity. This is about changing lives and holding onto hope.

Courtney Henslee has been in herbology for 20 years, a mother for 17 years, a student always, and has been called a witch since she was young– a good witch, of course. She’s been reading nutrition and herb books like they were novels since she was 19 years old, birthed three kids at home, raised them all with natural methods and no western medicine (except that time Zia ripped poison ivy out of the ground and had it in her mouth and eyes- steroids are approproate sometimes!). She produced and hosted a natural parenting/feminist radio show for 3.5 years on one of the biggest listener owned station in the United States.

She was the local herb doctor in Houston and Austin among her friends and always had the right things in the cabinet for what ailed the community. If you didn’t have the money to buy, she delivered it to you at no charge. Health is wealth, and people living paycheck to paycheck without insurance don’t have time to waste when it comes to getting back on their feet. Courtney’s roots in social justice never fail to show themselves when she is looking someone else’s need in the face.

Courtney started making her own skin care products and never thought to sell any of them, but just gave them away to friends who had skin issues.

Courtney’s Website Here

mask face

“Even being a super-hippie feminist, getting older started to get to me when I hit 30. I can tell everyone else that wrinkles are beauty and to love all they’ve been given, but here I was secretly buying $50 eye creams and stressing out about what would happen in 10 more years. I made this weird green powdered stuff to wash my face with and I never thought anyone would want to pay for it. But they did! The first week I went online with it, I brought in $1,000 to fund moving me and my girls to Colorado. ”

The dream has kept on and Courtney opened a real online store and has focused on that for 3 years now. But now, now it’s time to open shop and make a home for Brazen Bee in a place that is known as the witch capitol of Colorado. It just makes sense.  Manitou Springs is where Courtney gets her spring water for several of her products, and thousand of people visit this tiny mountain town each week. This means a high exposure for Brazen Bee and success for Courtney and her children.

brazenaurora

Youngest Daughter taking her mom’s business seriously😉

Please donate to this next step in creating a business off the grid of greed.  As Courtney says, “When you are making purchases , take a pause and ask yourself if you know anyone who makes this. Or ask your friends if they know anyone.

Then you’re not giving your money to a black hole of economics. You are directly feeding and clothing and housing someone. DIRECTLY. When you stop at a farmer’s market, an art show, buy directly from another human online- you are taking that bit of money out of The System and putting it in the rotation of humanity, you’re taking it off Wall Street and putting it on your street.”

Brazen Bee is a whole-plant, whole-life philosophy. It is not only a purely natural skin care company that refuses to use extracted single chemicals from plants, but also creates formulations that have healed issues that even dermotologists had given up on. Courtney simply does not quit… ever. She is known for her tenacity when it comes to fixing problems and has worked with some clients for months until the perfect formula is found. “This is a case where OCD and perfectionism really work for the good of humanity! When someone contacts me with an issue, I simply can’t stop thinking about it until I know I am actively helping. I have to have an improvement and what I want is to cure it.”

Get your internel wallet out. Put $10 in the pot for this radical woman, get a package deal with some heartfelt skincare that actually has the results it says it will, pass this around, lets put her in a shop!!!!!

https://www.gofundme.com/ke3p27t4

Gay Colors: Why are we not together?

gaycolors

This is, indeed, a momentous time for our country. Let us not forget that our Gay Agenda should refuse to leave anyone behind. I said it yesterday, and I will try to be the voice of conscience again.

Black and Brown bodied people are still in a huge struggle. Black and brown queer people even more so. Black and brown transgender people even *more* so. Many people have attempted to liken the LGBTQ struggle to the civil rights movement in this country. Is is not the same. While I can see it can be beneficial to find a connecting point, we, as a minority group, have slammed and forsaken the very people who started our march toward equality. It was not white gay men with money who threw things at police for harassing them. It was trans women and low income queens who began the brave rise that we celebrate as PRIDE every year.

They showed us all a kind of fortitude and willingness to fight that the gay community had wished for up until that moment. The civil rights movement did not forsake their roots, did not leave MLK or Sojourner Truth or Nina Simone or Malcom X behind. Their words and actions were integral. We, however, snatched the action up and left the activists behind in our quest for equality. The beginning of the marriage equality movement, as an actual movement, purposefully left out the trans community for a long time because we decided that to bring the societally “least” acceptable among us meant the rest of us would not get what we wanted.

This is absolutely equivalent to white women’s suffrage specifically leaving black women’s vote behind because they didn’t want to struggle *that* hard for suffrage. This is equivalent to someone standing in front of a bullet for you and you forgetting their name.

We have apologies to make. I have apologies to make for my people both on a scale of being a white activist and an LGBTQ activist, for the things my movements have done. But we have GOT TO CHANGE the *way* in which equality for *anything* is sought.  We have got to both pay homage and let our peers and children not forget where we began. Our movement began in bars and cafes in late night hours where we were relegated to be most especially if our gender was questionable. The most horrifically marginalized among us were the bravest ones. Those of us who did not want to rock the boat because we could pass through our lives in just enough comfort did not get this bus moving.

And now we have obtained a right that has many many implications far outside of marriage. These rights will assist us lessening outright discrimination, in letting us hold hands with less fear, in moving forward with our lives with a bit more security. In that “more” of security, please turn your awareness to the fact that suicide rates are highest amongst our trans community and even higher in the black and brown queer community. Why? Because a minority of a minority is an extremely dangerous emotional place to be in this country. How do we eradicate *that*? I don’t know that I know, but the discussion needs to be started, wisdom needs to be sought from the people who are experiencing, and it all needs to be taken very seriously.

We’ve taken up a cause and we won, but we won with a white face across 99% of every marriage photo in the media. Why? Do you think there are fewer black gay people? No. But why are they not out celebrating in the same numbers that we are? Our movement is extremely white-washed and extremely cis-gendered washed right now. We need to better understand the struggle of those who could be standing beside us. But why would someone stand beside us when we seem to refuse to represent them? Seem to refuse to acknowledge that we are a vastly monochrome movement.

I am not forwarding any directive here, but I am asking us to at least give commemoration to the Stonewall and Compton riots that set us on the footing we just gained. I am asking to make concerted effort to especially end racism in our community.  Even at my age, I grew up in the gay community where lesbians and gays didn’t consort with or respect each other. Lesbians felt left aside by gay men and we were ostracized from many bars and felt an even deeper level of stereotypes and shame. For lesbians are the first level of a minority (women) of a minority (lesbian).  We started having the conversation around why the hell we couldn’t fight *together* just 15 years ago. We started to finally put our heads and hearts together and look where we got. But shit, look, we *still* left huge parts of our community behind.

So stop it. Stop trying to be mainstream to get by or get more. Be braver, be more reverent of our roots, be more open hearted to the trials of those of us who even deeper in despair. Take someone’s hand and start a conversation, be meek of your own misunderstandings and ignorance. It’s a tough road to hoe to recognize you’ve done something wrong when something so right just happened. But hell if I want to continue to perpetuate the mainstream. I am not mainstream.

You are not mainstream, so fuck it, be all out, y’all. Please. For the lives and hearts that were left behind. It’s like seeing your friends play in the street with joy and you’re still in your house scared because they didn’t think about your access and their privilege. It’s heartbreaking. Stop breaking hearts and let’s work on healing even deeper than we imagined. Let’s work on our community and show those bastards in charge that we actually do poop rainbows and glitter because we are willing to work on the hard stuff.

When you wake up realizing you need $1,000

This life throws
Vomits at us
Undoes safety pins
Pokes us with them
Mows down
The grass we planted
Lights fires
That destroy forests we love

We feel better after we throw up
Acupuncture is good for you
Grass regrows
Fires make a nutrient rich soil

Constellations

I want to lay all over you like it were nothing
Strewn, my arms
over slopes of skin
like it were nothing
more than my common ground
i want to be like simply roots
grown, my legs
between your earthen legs
like it were mysterious facts
that we grew cells near each other
until we became inseparable

2:20 am
i awake. fell asleep writing
these poetry lines in my head at 10:29
and they knock me back awake
i lay beside you
tasting ink in my saliva
feeling sheets beneath us like
paper blank aching for lines

i

am in dark
laying and relaying and setting and resetting
maps
of all constellations
over high points
where light
kisses moments on your skin
you
must be stars
and there must be a map of you
in the sky
i will find it
i lay and relay
constellations over you in the dark
of my room

Summation

You invaded my dreams
of last night
I awoke crying
on beautiful breasts
Full of guilt to be having
feelings
You were everywhere
flaunting yourself in my face
At family gatherings
at streets unknown
I told you how you had hurt me
and you stared blankly
smiled
kept talking.

I am exhausted with your
you
Was exhausted for trying
to make you happy
Exhausted for not fitting
into the threading of selfishness
Exhausted for weeping on the floor
before you begging
for small attentions
Why how. Unfathamable.
This pain should be gone.
I have love in my life.
And you not seeing clearly.

Not cleaning up messes.
The story of us.
That’s it.
You. Not. Ever. Cleaning up messes.

Exacerbating them with blindness.
I cannot afford to buy you glasses.
None fit the metal threading
Around your heart.

My belief in the importance of historical data is waning. That two people should build great buildings of love and hope and rocking chairs. Of libraries and debates. Of memory and knowing and triumph. Of tenderness interlaced with struggle.

But rape of the heart is the simple drop-sound of all those things let go from fingers and the falling is as slow as a feather. The sound so difficult to hear, but so loud to my ears. The taking. Away. Sound. The sound of disregard. Is so quiet. And I am wishing for clanks and bangings of enormous metal on metal. The sounds of buildings being demolished. The warning beep of backwards bulldozers.

But it is light as a feather and the slow-free fall is aching me.


Courtney Henslee-Kresha

38 year old mother of three daughters. Courtney is witty, truthful, daring, and sexy. She now resides in Denver, Colorado. Her youth was spent in both Houston and the Texas Hill Country. This lends her raw Texas appeal alongside intense intelligence. For three years, she produced and hosted a popular show on KPFT called WholeMother where her following ranged from young alternative mothers to cowboys looking for wit and a mothering voice. From street smart to rural smart, she drives like a maniac and writes with a passion.

The Days Roll By

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