To Report or Not to Report: A Review

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Recently, I purchased To Report or Not to Report: Survivor Testimony of the (In)Justice System by Resonance Press. The book is broken into three parts: Survivor testimony of those that didn’t report, survivor testimony of those that did report, and finally, perspectives from professionals.

These stories are heartfelt and cut deeply as I thought about my own experiences. Through the authors’ bravery and openness, I was able to witness some of their pain. These strangers, many far away from me, feel like family. Survivor family.

Part of what made this collection so powerful for me was the third section. The way the editor laid the book out led to the perfect ending. One where hope was left for survivors. Not just hope, but an understanding of just how and why our system is so broken. With that knowledge, we can then work to fix it.

The editor, Emily Jacob, is a survivor herself. Her own healing led her to become a coach, working with survivors via the ReConnected Life Experience.

The ReConnected Life Experience will take you from merely surviving, to thriving. Delivered as an online course, or through one-to-one coaching, the ReConnected Life Experience will take you from a life of self-blame, of feeling out of control, of distrusting yourself and others, of living a small & narrow life; to a life of joy, of variety, of confidence. You will look forward to what the future holds, with a happy, hopeful heart.

This book touched me. I highly recommend it if you’re a survivor yourself or even if you’re supporting one. These topics are never easy to read about, but they are vital if we are to change anything for the better.

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CALL REOPENED: Kintsugi – Powerful Stories of Healing Trauma

This call is reopened until April 30, 2018. While we have many great stories already, we’re looking to make this a print book and it’s still too short for that. We’re also including poems if you’d like to submit a poem. 

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Open Call: Kintsugi – Powerful Stories of Healing Trauma

This is SinCyr’s first nonfiction open call! For this collection, we’ve decided to call it Kintsugi, named after the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or other fine materials. The idea is to take something shattered or cracked and turn it into a piece even more beautiful than before.

What we’re looking for:

Personal stories about healing trauma. For some of you, writing this piece may be your first step to healing. For others, you may have come through great amounts of abuse and found your agency and joy. These stories will vary because abuse varies. How it affects us varies. Because the company is focused on shifting rape culture, body shaming, toxic masculinity and so forth, the stories should fit somewhere into these categories.

Were you sexually abused? Body shamed? Harassed and bullied for your sexuality or gender? The victim of abused power? Did the abuse cause difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships? How has the abuse affected you sexually and how have you healed? Found your joy? Or are you taking that first step to healing right now by writing for this collection?

Transformation is beautiful. Sharing your story is powerful.

Here are some vital details to remember when writing for and submitting to this collection:

  • These stories should focus on healing from abuse. Sharing abuse is necessary to illustrate what you’ve overcome, but we’d like the focus to be on the healing and not the trauma itself. If this is your first step to healing, you might share how you came to accept what happened or what you plan to do to move forward now that you’ve shared and started down the path of healing.
  • For liability reasons, please don’t call out specific people for their abuse. Keep it vaguer. We can’t print anything that calls out someone in too much detail. This includes mental health, as it’s not ethical to print other’s mental illness details. There is also the option of pen names or Jane Doe One, John Doe Five, etc…
  • Polished stories only. Make sure your story is clean. Follow the submission guidelines for formatting.

Submission Guidelines:

  • 12pt font, Times New Roman
  • Double Spaced, no extra line between paragraphs
  • Do not hit the “tab” key to indent paragraphs. Use Word’s margins/ruler to indent.
  • Send in Word doc or rtf. Word is preferred.

Word count: 1000-5000 words
One story submission per person.
Submission Deadline: NEW DEADLINE April 30, 2018

Editor Sienna Saint-Cyr and Leyna Alexander M.Ed.

Photographer: Geekslair Photography

Send submissions to with the subject line KINTSUGI: your title.

Payment – 60% of net royalties split between authors.

“Shifting rape culture one sexy story at a time.”

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What Heartbreak Is and Isn’t (For Me)


Heartbreak isn’t something I’ve historically understood when it comes to romantic love. Though other types of heartache I understood, romantic love felt hollow, so any loss of a romantic situation left me simply shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Whatever…”

My attitude came from early on when my trust (though clearly a misplaced trust) was broken and the expectations I’d come to rely on were shattered before my eyes. It taught me some important lessons–romantic love is fake and I should never let any that close. I built thick walls around my heart and while I could send plenty of love out, I didn’t allow much to come back in.

Over the years, people have gotten past my walls. But it’s hard and not usually in a romantic sense. They might get past because they’ve consistently illustrated trustworthy behavior, kept their promises, and righted the wrongs they’d done to me, but this is rare. What that means for me is that when I hear people talking about how heartbroken they are, I can’t relate. It all just feels so shallow and codependent.

But I’ve been wrong.

I’m sitting here, listening to someone cry their eyes with heartbreak. Crying so hard they’re puking. And it reminded me of something that happened to me recently when I finally started feeling the pain of my first heartbreak. I too was sobbing and trying to puke. It was weird. This was long ago and I didn’t really think about what was happening in my body all this time that I held that in.

Heartache might be about a Twilight–Edward and Bella–type codependent relationship, but it can also be about much more. Things like having your world shattered because what you thought ‘was’ actually ‘wasn’t’. It can be about the pain that comes from wanting someone in a way they don’t want you. It’s rejection. It’s your foundation crumbling under you. It’s about wondering how you’re going to feel when the person you’re used to calling or greeting the first moment you get the chance is suddenly not there to greet. Heartbreak is about many things, most of which aren’t shallow.

Having a broken heart is really about loss. Only a part of me realized this. I’d compartmentalized my understanding of heartbreak so I didn’t need to feel it–ever–when it came to a romantic kind of love. I knew if I ever lost someone close to me that I’d feel it, and that was okay in my mind. But feeling it over rejection or the ending of a relationship… my only thought was ‘hell no, no one gets that from me’.

I now understand why my heart has hurt so long.

So as I sit here, listening to this person cry so hard at their loss, I’m crying my own tears. Some from feeling empathy for this person. Some from the losses I’d never allowed myself to feel. And some from the losses I’ve experienced recently. Not big losses recently, but changes in expectations (or what I thought was). And it’s okay for me to feel this sadness and heartache. It’s crucial to getting the pain out of me so I can continue to trust and be full of goodness rather than pain.

I got a lot of body work done last weekend (thanks to a gracious friend) and the worker kept calling the pain I felt while she worked my body and joints ‘therapain’. The pain one is willing to feel during treatment so that you won’t be in pain later. I welcomed that pain. I released a great deal that day. And now it appears I need to release more. But releasing is what I’ll keep doing.

Eventually, the tears in the person I’m hearing will cease and mine will too. We’ll accept the new normal–because that’s the only way to move forward–and hopefully, the holes left will be filled with new experiences and memories or at least, not be so deep.

It’s ironic that I’m prepping for a test on the human heart today. As I stare at the ventricles and valves and heartstrings, I wonder which part of my heart I’m feeling the pain in. All of it? Is the pain in my head? If it’s just in my head, why does my heart feel like it’s racing?

Last week, on Valentine’s Day, I dissected a heart. If I believed in magic, I’d feel like the entire universe aligned for me to teach me these things. But I don’t believe in that kind of magic. So instead, I’ll accept that this was the time for me to learn the lessons I’ve been learning–without judgment–and the reason I’m seeing these things is that I’m finally ready to.

My lessons learned this last week are that I need to let go of pain. That I’m not as shallow as I thought and I’m capable of having a broken heart. That not every loss means I’m worthless, in fact, no losses mean that. And some losses hurt even when they aren’t full losses, more shifts of what is, and it’s okay for me to feel sad and pain over that.

Love is tricky business. I suspect that’s why so many of us put up walls or have limits to how much we’re willing to invest. And that last part makes me sad. Trusting with the innocence of a child gets us hurt, but not trusting–not being open to one another–hurts us in a far worse manner.

For years, I’ve known I send out more love than I allow back in. This has been a safety measure that ended up hurting me far more in the long run. Now, I’m working to find balance.

Posted in Lifestyle, My Journey, PTSD | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Be Humble, Be Vulnerable


Humans are strange. No doubt about it. Overall, we deny our own needs out of pride or fear or shame or guilt, and we fill our lives with useless clutter instead. When I look at my dogs, they don’t do that shit. When they need food, they let me know. When they need love, they let me know. When they want play, they let me know… And their need for play doesn’t end with youth. It continues until they are old and can hardly get off the doggy bed. Their need for love and comfort when they’re scared or sick doesn’t end with youth either. But us humans, we’re stubborn little creatures. We often don’t like to admit when we need something because *gasp* we might get judged for it. Even if that judgment is only coming from within ourselves.

This last week, I stopped denying myself something I’ve been needing for a long time. I had so much judgment of myself around the need that I’d fought it and fought it. I still have some of those icky feelings–thus why I’m not going into detail right now–but I know they will eventually pass. Because when that need was finally met, it was the sweetest, most wonderful feeling. The experience changed me in ways I didn’t think it could and the more I take part, the more I feel so safe and loved.

Today, I learned that someone I love and respect has a similar need. Not exactly the same, but similar enough that it really got me thinking. This is a person that–like me–doesn’t give in to trauma or fear, or deny their needs in other areas of life. We shared about our struggle with embracing these similar needs, our confusion over needing what we need, and yet agreed wholeheartedly that fulfilling this need was the right choice.

But not many of us make this choice. No many can jump into a place of discomfort in order to become whole in the long run. Not many can trust deep enough to truly make a change and live in a way we’d not be able to otherwise.

Learning this person had a similar need and was also embracing it made me feel comfortable in my own experience.

On Pride

Pride is such a toxic thing. And judgment–while it’s good in some circumstances and we must use discernment–is feeding the toxic side of our pride.

I had another experience last Friday where someone I’d long respected let his pride get in the way of a situation and it resulted in my losing respect for him. Sure, I still respect his work and things he’s done, but I no longer see him as strong or a person of power. He’s done great work for abused children, but to be truly strong and powerful, we must be humble and vulnerable. A thing that I now know he is not.

So I had this one experience of losing respect for a person I’d admired, and then the other experience of gaining so much more for myself and this other person I admire. Because we were open and humble and not letting our pride override the beauty of healing.

The Beauty All Around Me

After a weekend around amazing and talented authors, I was once again reminded of the strength and vulnerability all around me. To be good writers, we must be able to be humble. We must be able to admit when we’re wrong or when we’ve fucked up. We must also be able to see our good, wise choices and actions too. As I saw this in others, it helped me see this overlap I’d not seen before between my writing and my deeper need I mentioned above: both require my vulnerability, my humbleness, and trust in myself that I’m doing what I need to be doing. 

My denying myself what I needed was pride. Plain and simple. And for a long time, my lack of growth in my writing was also my pride. I didn’t want to admit that I was a lazy writer. I wasn’t wanting to put the work in that I needed to because it was too hard. Just as embracing my need was too hard. 

I’ve now come to understand that the moment the words ‘too hard’ enter into my thought process, that’s the moment I need to implement a change.

I had a wonderful weekend full of smart, humble, beautiful people. It was a good–albeit tiring–weekend.

Posted in Lifestyle, My Journey, PTSD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Foolscap Writing Workshop!

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Tomorrow, I’m teaching at Foolscap and I’m quite excited! For my portion, we’ll be working on sex scenes. Naturally! I look forward to working with those that signed up for my portion. See you tomorrow! 🙂

7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Building Sex Scenes with a Purpose
Sex scenes vary depending on genre, desired tone, and the author’s purpose for adding sex into their story. Will the scene reveal deep, emotional aspects of the characters? Is the sex there to leave the reader pleasantly turned on when they close the book? The workshop will address tone, word choice to fit the genre, details vs. fading to black, keeping the scene believable, and how including a sex scene can add depth to a story. Authors will have the opportunity to tease apart the purpose of their sex scene, including the mechanics needed depending on genre and the reason for the scene, then work toward writing their scene.

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F@#k More

These past few weeks have been hell. The one time when I can be sure my depression will come back is when I’m sick. And it did, as I knew it would. But this last bit of ick has also come with a bunch of shit that has helped me grow. So while I hate that I’ve been so low, I’m also glad I’ve come away with new understandings.

Some of those understandings are that I don’t respond to helpless ‘backed into a corner’ anger well. It shuts me down fast. So I’m working on that.

I also learned that I put far too much weight into what others think of me still. Which is aggravating to learn, but there it is. And my own views when I’m down just mimic those that have been unkind to me. So much so that when someone makes a statement that isn’t arguing per se, but talking as though I don’t know what I’m talking about, I question myself. It’s ridiculous. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, then I keep my mouth shut. If I say something, it’s because I know what I’m talking about. Period.

I need to stop allowing this to happen. I need to find my worth based on what I think is worthy. I’ve tried in the past but I’ve had too much imposter syndrome still. And when depression and sickness and people fighting everywhere I turn is prominent, I’ve been going right back to that place of listening to the bad things people have told me about myself.

But I’m over that. I’m just done. I have no fucks to give for others’ opinions.

Which brings me to fucking…

Why the hell are we fighting one another? The world is always in chaos. All over. Right now, the US is much worse than it was four years ago (for example), but it’s also better. How? It’s better because people are speaking up. They’re talking and taking action.

When things are going well, people don’t like to rock the boat. They don’t want to shake things up and turn the goodness into a need for change. They are less likely to acknowledge the shit pile that’s always there because when flowers and sunshine are more noticeable, the pile of shit is less visible.

But now, that shit pile has taken over so much. It’s in our faces. It’s insanity on acid. It’s making many of us fill with rage. Others are avoiding. And all I really wanna do is fuck. Yes, fuck like mad. Get it all out through sweet, powerful sex.

Which got me thinking… Why do we–as a species–move straight to dwelling in a place of rage, avoidance, and depression? People made jokes my whole life about the ‘hippi folk’ and yet, the slogan ‘make love, not war’ was really fucking smart.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for what’s right and protect those being harmed. Quite the opposite actually. What I’m saying is that rather than dwell in rage, avoidance, and depression, we could be letting it out through consensual sex. It can be loving, sweet sex. Powerful and rough sex. Kinky sex. It can be with a lot of people or just one. But sex is powerful. It’s a release.

It’s our core of creation.

What I’ve learned these last couple of days is that I’d rather be fucking for release than dwelling in a bad place. I’ve learned that my worth is determined only by me. And that I’m sensitive–empathetic–and I’m never going to change this about myself. I want to feel it all, even when it’s hard. Because empathy might hurt sometimes, but other times it’s full of beautiful euphoria. 

I just need to love. That’s it. Love myself, love life, love others… even when I don’t want to.

Posted in Lifestyle, My Journey, PTSD | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Consent is Sexy

Consent is vital to SinCyr’s mission. Not just consent, but informed and enthusiastic consent. As a company, we see a lot of stories–and real-life scenarios–that are okay with blurry communication, unclear context, implied consent, pressuring people to the point they finally give in, even rape… and it shows us that our vision of shifting rape […]

via Consent is Sexy — SinCyr Publishing

Posted in My Journey