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But I took a BuzzFeed Quiz!

Oh mannnnn, but that quiz TOLD me I’m 100% Empath!! Of COURSE I am! I’ve seen an overwhelming number of “but I’m an empath!” posts soon followed by “but why aren’t we talking about this?!?!?!?!?” posts and I’m about to hit the roof, because I fall directly in the middle of both. First, we will discuss the toxicity of the empath-cop-out, and then how dangerous that is when dealing with our traumatic culture and times.

Friends, I’ve got some truths coming your way, and I can guarantee that a good portion of you will not enjoy hearing this. In this age of “new age religion,” especially as so many of us who grew up in semi-traditional Christian, potentially even obligatory Catholicism, are embracing in adulthood, it is tempting to want to immediately imagine ourselves as part of a secret sect of individuals with highly-tuned abilities. We’ve expanded our spirituality well beyond “traditional” religion. And within that, includes many categories that are not traditionally accepted or witnessed in Christian sects, particularly. I’m not saying you’re not an Empath. But the magnitude of what a true empath is, is much broader than “20 signs you might be an Empath.” I’ll note that I appreciate that they say “might” haha like a little wink that says “you could totally possess all these qualities and actually be a raging narcissist so, good luck.”

We all possess narcissistic “skills.” We’ve all used them to win an argument or get our way somewhere. Someone might be a veritable saint and still be a raging narcissist. Lets face it though; most people fall somewhere between the two, usually a healthy combination.

There are levels of “being an Empath.” All too often, so many people accept their intuitive empathy as empath skills and allow it to bowl them over in an insanely unhealthy manner. It becomes a crutch and an unfortunate excuse for having absolutely zero self control and even lower boundaries.

True empaths often come from very traumatic pasts. There is some debate that an empath is the opposite of a narcissist and empaths also attract narcissists. In my opinion, most of us are struggling with deep-seated traumas that we have not made any effort to tackle and resolve. Building healthy boundaries is crucial.

Now, let’s examine the hair-on-fire culture that seems to expect us to be absolutely screaming about every topic, ever.

Right??? Doesn’t this sound absolutely absurd? It IS absurd. That’s why it sounds and feels incredibly unreasonable! When, in recorded history, could anyone ever be obsessed with every issue, ever? They can’t. That’s the answer. In the digital age, we have this instant access to alllll the information. Our job is to decide what is valuable enough to enter our bubble. And its more difficult than ever, when we scroll through our social media platform, noting people absolutely screaming about eight million different things, all insanely offended that everyone isn’t also screaming about them too.

Look; bottom line, there are absolutely some issues that should be elevated more than others. Especially when it comes to human rights, being violated right in front of our faces. That’s not just my “personal preference,” either. Every person is welcome to get wound up about their own topics, but the absurdity of expecting everyone else to jump on board… as they say, “the audacity.”

Friends, this is where these two topics intertwine. Empathy is paramount right now. Embracing and utilizing it makes life bearable. We are collectively experiencing a whole new level of WTF right now. Don’t be a mask bully, protect other’s health, save children, don’t be a racist, figure out what to do with your kids when you have to go back to work, the list goes on and on. You can absolutely be worried to death about a smattering of everything. But, in case I’m the first to tell you, it is incredibly unhealthy to live consumed with stress all the time.

Figure out what is important to you and run with it. But do not shame others if it is not their passion too. Not everyone will be overwhelmed with vigor for the same topics as you. Bottom line: you cannot force or manipulate people into caring. And if you should happen to win, they will burn out rapidly. Be aware of how you’re handling everything. Allowing that “I’m an Empath!!!” trope to overwhelm you and be your excuse for not drawing distinct boundaries will literally destroy you. Create boundaries. Its not too late. Its not too hard. Its not impossible. It is vital. Create yourself a conscious life that values peace but is also highly capable of being activists and allies.

Much love & light ~ Jess

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All the Closet Racists in da house, Yell “Injustice!”

Friends, I am FIRED UP today. The world is a screwed up place right now, perhaps more than ever. I’m going to warn you right now: this post may very well include some cursing and some extremely sensitive, triggering content.

Let’s cover the facts first.

First and foremost, a little boy was murdered. Incredibly tragic, pointe blank range, on his own front lawn. Literally, a family’s worst nightmare. May Cannon rest in peace, as his life was absolutely taken too soon. There is little more horrifying to think, than a child, murdered, on their doorstep, in front of their siblings. Absolutely unthinkable.

Next fact; a neighbor committed the crime. It is absolutely important to how this is being spun, notably that this is a young Black male. Select (read: small number) reports are noting that he was not mentally stable, which is extremely important, when considering how the story is presented. Consider the dramatic disparity between “Black man shoots white five year old” and “young man who shot up a church is treated to Burger King on the way to jail, and was ‘mentally unstable.’”

Third, this man was apprehended and charged in HOURS. Not days, weeks, or months (like Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, who were only apprehended months after video surfaced of their unspeakable acts). He’s held ~without bond~ meaning that without some wild twist of fate acquitting him, this man was apprehended, unharmed, almost immediately, and cannot be bailed out on the good graces of a relative, friend or any individual who has more money than brains.

Now, lets cover the “Facebook conspiracy spin.” This is a horrifyingly racist, white-centering, biased, meme-filled coverage of topics that are used to promote topics in a harmful, divisive way.

“A black man killed a white child, and the media is silent” (meanwhile 50% of their posts are about how they don’t trust the MSM… what did I miss, they’re suddenly the beacons of truth and light??)

“George Floyd got a televised funeral and a gold casket, what did this little innocent child get?”

Maybe you’ve noticed this recently – I know my wise friends and I have. Someone shares a post that is actual, factual gaslighting. Highlighting a story, twisted in a manner that fits how they want it to sound. Its a horrifying trend, manipulative as hell, and it means information is skewed and emotional responses are forefront. Emotional responses are precisely that: zero consciousness. Just emotion. No actual thought. No discernment of bias. Just a spin on a story that is juicy as hell, in the moment.

The little boy, Cannon Hinnant, is mentioned, by name, over and over again, while the aggressor is rarely identified by name, but merely referred to as “Black man.” For the record, his name is Darius Sessoms. Essentially every news outlet in the country has covered this story, despite what your chaotic facebook friend may want you to believe. One of the greatest “disparities” that these gaslighting posts chooses to misleadingly focus on, is that “there’s no outrage, no coverage, no protests and riots, just a black man shooting a white child,” and “George Floyd, a drug user who rapes women, got a gold coffin and four televised funerals, while a white child is murdered by a black man.”

I’m sorry… did I miss where Sessoms was immediately apprehended without the opportunity to bail out?? Did I miss the part where he was on the lam for days on end? Where it took civilian or security footage to be released to the public to finally convince law enforcement to move in on him?? It IS tragic. But there has been precisely ZERO delay in justice. This family is enjoying what white people generally refer to as “justice” but are so willing to overlook the lack of it in other ethnic communities. White people have the expectation of swift, fair justice and are practically always afforded such.

On March 13, 2020, 154 days ago, Breonna Taylor, an innocent woman, was murdered while sleeping in her bed, by officers executing a no-knock warrant on the wrong home. The officers still walk free as of August 14. George Floyd perished at the hands of an officer; guilty or not, he was apprehended and overly aggressively restrained, and killed. It took four days of protests and outrage for Derek Chauvin to be arrested for this disgusting street-justice. Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman was quoted to say, “this is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer.” Is that not absurd to you that an officer is allowed to liberally dispense their own justice, and is simultaneously above being brought down by actual justice? On February 23rd 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging around 1pm – the middle of the afternoon – and was shot by vigilantes in the neighborhood because he was “suspicious” and they were not arrested for two and a half months (two on May 7th and one on May 21st) just days after viral video surfaced of the murder. These are just three, high profile examples.

Here is the dramatic disparity: the murderers have been (or not been, in Breonna’s case) arrested only after significant pressure from the public. Cannon Hinnant’s murderer was apprehended the same day as the violence occurred. Held without bond. Not murdered by “street justice.”

This white family will enjoy swift justice against this man. They don’t have to wait months or years for him to be located, nor apprehended. They didn’t have to plead to the media. They didn’t need protests for their voices to be heard. There was no delay. There was no judge, lawyer, prosecutor, etc standing in the way of holding Sessoms accountable.

This is the difference. Breonna’s family is waiting for justice nearly four months later. Ahmaud’s family waited over 3 months. George’s family waited several days.

The last topic I want to address is community. The stark difference I’ve noticed between these situations is how the community has reacted. This is where the closet racists come out in blazing color. In the black community, people rallied. They surrounded the families, lifted them up, and sprang into action. Petitions were started. Crowd-funds were started. Emails, phone numbers, social media contacts were gathered. The media was notified. The family was taken care of in every way possible. The black community is used to a lack of justice. If that is not the most shattering thing I’ve mentioned, then you are not paying attention, and I’m frankly, not doing my job. This community not only takes care of its own, but knows it has to, because no one else will. George Floyd’s family didn’t single-handedly pay for a gold casket and tremendous media coverage. Breonna’s family hasn’t received the support and attention they’ve received because people sat around and waited for it to happen. In the white community, we abhor so-called “hand-outs” and simultaneously become irate when they aren’t immediately offered to us in crisis.

I’ll draw a comparison to my own life experience: my husband committed suicide in 2017. It was an incredibly trying and surreal series of events. A handful of friends snapped into action. By handful, I mean, I had between 5 and 10 friends show up at my house within hours – I don’t even know the full total. I’m incredibly grateful. You all know who you are. Then, I came to find some months later, that one of those friends was actually mad that another friend was starting a GoFundMe for my son and I. A little background – my husband left us with nothing. I came to discover that not only were we not legally married (I do have a certificate from the county, so in that sense it was legal, but to claim my survivor benefits, I’ll have to retain a lawyer), we were several months behind on the rent and the landlord was attempting a 10 Day Quit when he realized Matt had passed (you read that right, they were trying to evict me and my 3 year old autistic son, notifying us about 4 days after my husband died); I was left with literally the money I had earned that month in my MLM business to find a new place to live – first, last and security, keep food on the table, make sure the essentials were covered (electric, phone bill, etc), oh, and my credit was trashed still.

I am still insanely grateful to everyone who kept us from drowning. I will never not say that, and I do not mean to turn a nose to any one of you angels in our life – please don’t interpret it that way! Of the $10,000 “goal” of the GoFundMe and the money raised during a Cut-a-Thon at a local salon, less than $3,000 through all sources, was raised for us. I thank god every single day for that, because it got us through till the next month, when I could earn more through my business and my son’s survivor benefits were paid out. At the end of the day, I was left to fend for myself. No one put me on the news. We weren’t provided with HUD (still haven’t heard back from them, 3.5 years later). Even my parents said “it wasn’t a good idea” that we live with them until I figure out how to “adult” on my own. It was enough to get us by. Friends helped us move. The money raised helped pay first, last and security on our apartment. We got connected with different local resources. We didn’t technically need more, but would our lives have been dramatically easier if we had been blessed with more? There’s no question. And would I still have busted my ass to earn my trip to Cancun less than 2 months after this all transpired? Not a doubt in my mind. Caring doesn’t make people weak. It doesn’t ruin people to make sure they have what they need to survive. Sometimes there are no bootstraps to tug.

I know that I have gone on longer than my usual post here, but it felt incredibly important. This is micro-aggressive, closet racism, to be mad about the swift justice and the untrue assumption of lack of attention for a white child killed, and comparing it to the community response of a community used to a severe lack of justice and attention. The real bottom line here is this: if you are SO outraged by the treatment of Cannon’s family, then you have the moral obligation to do something. Why would you expect an organization focused on dismantling systemic racism against black persons to jump into action on a white family’s behalf? Its not their mission. It would be great for them to contribute; the real difference is that they literally do not have to. Justice is being carried out not even 24 hours after it happened. Get off your couch, get off Facebook, FFS, and make sure that little boy and his family have the future they deserve.

Much Love & Light ~Jess

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Evolving, Slowly

I’ll start out today by apologizing that its been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to sit and write. School has been kicking my butt, hard. I am absolutely thrilled though, that in a few days (10), my semester is over (not that I’m counting) ((10 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes)). After spending 6.5 years fumbling around in college, I’m leaving this spring semester with my first degree – Associate in Sciences, Health Sciences. Apparently, if you keep coming back to it, take enough science and math courses, you eventually get some kind of degree out of it. Conveniently, I needed all of these classes for Nursing school, which I’m starting in the fall!

Fret not, I won’t be discussing my personal Corona stance; my brain is exhausted, I have read too much, witnessed too much, and I am not up to discussing it beyond my best friends and therapist.

Today is April 26 – 3 years to the day that my life went from average to unimaginable. I once had a friend tell me “I don’t ‘do’ dates. I just don’t ‘celebrate’ them, and then they won’t bother me. I just ‘forget’ about them.” Convenient, right? Just set my brain to “delete.” Sunshine of the spotless mind, I’ll just never recall the day my husband killed himself! I can’t believe I never thought of that! Purposely forgetting wreaks havoc on the brain. Ask me how I’m still dealing with the mental fallout from three decades of “purposely forgetting.” If I sound a tad bitter… well, I won’t deny it. One of the things I want most for my friends is to EXPERIENCE and PROCESS their emotions. Stuffing things down in dark chasms of your soul does nothing but guarantee that they will surface at the most inopportune moment.

So, I want to use this unfortunate anniversary to really talk about PTSD here. No, not like a veteran who hears a firework and is instantly transported back to a warzone. I’m talking about post-traumatic stress as it pertains to a lot more people than you might think. Trigger is such an overused word. Its used to mock sensitive people. Its used especially to mock people who think that a person should be prioritized over money. Its overused to warn people to turn away if they’re sensitive to topics or that they might find offensive.

But here’s what it means for me: out of no where, I might have a sensory experience (one or more combined of the five senses) that transports my brain somewhere. You might be familiar with the experience, but hopefully good ones. For example, smelling a campfire takes you back to an idyllic summer with friends. Baking cookies, back to grandma’s kitchen. A certain flower takes you back to your favorite aunt’s garden. If you aren’t acquainted with the dark side of these memories, let me demonstrate: I once bought him a jacket. Just a simple windbreaker, but it was very distinct; navy blue with yellow trim. Nautica. I don’t even know where that jacket ended up. I didn’t have to handle it. About a year later, Nicky and I were grocery shopping and I stopped dead in my tracks: standing about 10 feet from me was an older gentleman, approximately the same build, but in no other way similar to him at all, except he was wearing “the jacket.” I was instantly sweating, the room was spinning, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think straight or logically, at all. It took me a few moments to ground myself and regain focus. It wasn’t him; he couldn’t hurt me, he wasn’t alive anymore.

Let’s take another less sensory-related example. Trust is quite possibly the most difficult thing for me to genuinely do. Sure, I can gab with a friend about “personal” topics. But over time, I have learned to never trust anyone with all of the information. Loose lips sink ships, right? Every. Single. Person. I have ever trusted with every part of me has betrayed me. I learned that my sensitive soul was never to be entrusted to anyone, because no one would care for it. I learned too late, as usual. Now, its taking hours and hours of therapy, self-work, and self-care, to make use of this damage. Note, I call it “make use” not “undo.” Just like blogging and sharing my trials is therapeutic, in the hopes that someone will read this and begin to help themselves similarly, there is no part of my lessons I want to “undo.” I could do without the pain, without the deeply seeded, sharp triggers, but they have propelled me into a wildly self-sufficient badass that I never thought I could be.

Having been essentially “single” for three years, I have discovered this painful truth about myself: I have virtually zero idea how to just exist in a relationship. I’d say “anymore,” but I don’t think I knew how to do it effectively before. Thus far in these three years, the longest I shared time with anyone was 6-8 months, and we’d see each other one, two times per week? Everyone is busy. Somehow I always get entangled with either a) the busiest of busy people or, b) the person who lives at least an hour away, or c) both. None of those things help you to actually learn someone. And even so, I am still trying to wrap my head around the concept of “one day, someone will love me so much, that they will not only love me wildly and unconditionally, but will also love, tolerate and want to help raise my wild animal of a child!? When you’re entangled with a biological parent of your child, its pretty natural to just say “it’s your obligation” because, well, it is. But perusing excuses for men who can barely care for themselves, expecting them to be able to handle a child who is chaos-embodied and an overtly and undeniably, opinionated, driven, responsible, overthinking, never-take-your-foot-off-the-gas, Gemini… wow. All I can say is, I never thought that I was offering much. I have learned that, despite my harrowing flaws and struggles, most parties I have dated just were not evolved within themselves enough to cherish everything “Jess.”

Then I find myself stressing bizarrely over things that have not yet materialized. What is it like to be with someone who supports me constantly? What is it like to never fear that my partner will never leave me with no home, no income, and a shit ton of questions? What is it like to *live* with someone?? Is that weird? I’ve lived with my son; I lived with my husband; my husband and his parents; my husband, his parents, his kids; my husband and his kids; my husband, his kids, and our son, and finally my husband and our son; and yet I’m sitting here after three short years going WHAT IS IT LIKE TO HAVE SOMEONE WHO COMES HOME TO YOU EVERY DAY, or vice versa? And simultaneously wonder WTF is wrong with me, that this is suddenly so foreign, that it terrifies me that I will have to adapt. Its not that my habits are so horribly offensive. I have never been able to depend on someone to care for me in the way that every single person deserves. Mentally, physically, emotionally.

I’m about to enter nursing school; obviously, I’m no freeloader. I’ll have a beautifully stable career, no matter where I go. I always know that if the bottom falls out, ya girl got herself, you know? But how do I trust someone with the rest of it. The sticky, black, dense hurt. The tangled triggers that send me recklessly over the edge, overthinking, trying to fill in blanks that I obviously need the other person to fill in for me, but my brain can’t wait for. For now, I struggle to stop myself when the swirling, drowning, temptation to come unglued happens. I notice it sooner, but I still find myself consumed with catastrophic thoughts and questions. Its improving. I catch myself sooner. I know when I need to work something out. The most we can ask of ourselves as we sort out trauma and heal is to allow ourselves grace and pray that we are presented with the right people to handle it with us. And that seems to be constantly evolving, but I am thankful. The right people have found me, and I am grateful. Everything has changed and it has been much akin to a violent car wreck, but it has put me on a path I wanted, but never thought was attainable. Three years later, I’m still echoing prior years; I am grateful, and I know I’m headed exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Much Love & Light,
~Jess

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Redefine it

I have heard “it needs to be redefined” so many times in the last few months, I could scream. Let me explain. Ever do something you love, lets say bowling, with someone who you really care about, and then you break up, or they die, or some other catastrophic event, and then bowling is dead to you? Or you traveled somewhere with someone, and when they aren’t around anymore, you couldn’t even consider returning, even though you still love the place?

This is where redefining comes in. For me, a metric crap ton of things have been ruined. And I am simply exhausted by the expectation that I’ve placed on myself, that I can’t enjoy stuff anymore, simply because I enjoyed it with someone prior. Its silly, at the end of the day. There’s no reason why I couldn’t continue to do things.

Many of you know my story. I am a widow of two and a half years; my husband and I were together for over 6 years total, so we shared many things in our time together. When he chose to take his own life in April of 2017, I was lost. My life had been completely directed for so many years, I barely knew where to begin. I say “directed” because manipulated, dictated, held hostage, don’t feel genuine to me. In reality, though, they would be the best descriptors. I was manipulated into staying. I. Was. Stuck. I’ll bet that someone is reading this and shaking their head, “yes I know how that feels.” Check out my most recent post on narcissists, if you’d think you might be stuck with one, too.

Long story short, I was diagnosed with PTSD, finally diagnosed with anxiety, and regained the “depression” tag. I was mad as hell! Mad at myself for “allowing” it. I was more mad that I was left here, not only picking up the pieces of our life together in their entirety, but now I had to put my own head back together and find the woman I had never become. Slowly, I’ve been purging things that make me feel less than, and redefining things for myself that I’ve loved, but need to re-embrace.

Well, today, 10/19, is our 5th anniversary.

One of the things that has been in my closet, driving me slowly nuts, at least for the last two and a half years, if not since the day I wore it, was my wedding dress. We had a small ceremony, small, calm reception; it was exactly what we wanted. I had very few friends and had invited literally anyone who I was close with at the time. This dress, as many women will relate, bears an intense amount of weight; emotional, often physical, and in my world, headspace (and closet space). I’ve been talking about doing a “Trash the Dress” photo shoot forever now, but it felt disingenuous. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to value the fact that it wasn’t ALL bad. I wanted to honor the part of myself that was willingly a part of that life. More than anything, I didn’t want to be a gross American who just wastes the most expensive garment I’ll ever own (sorry Gucci). The energy imbued in this dress was overwhelming and I absolutely could not bring myself to do anything with it, except hide it in the back of my closet, while all that negativity and sadness was attached to it.

I came up with the “in between” option; I decided to gather my best girlfriends and do a ritualistic cleanse of my dress. One of the most powerful parts of the process is the mental release, of course. Not just entering icy cold waters of Jordan Creek, splashing the frigid water over my head, and dipping into the water, while the chilly autumn breeze is already nipping at my bare shoulders. Telling all that negative energy to beat it; it serves no purpose to me anymore. With my best girls (not all of them, of course, but close), my strength when I can’t pick myself up, some who have been there for me for years, but have taken on even more critical roles in the last few, some who have just blessed my life for the first time more recently, but have been vital to my success and stability, we cleansed the dress, the moment, the date, of all of the heavy, toxic, unnecessary weight.

I recommend this process to anyone who is struggling; redefine it. How is that negative energy serving you? If it isn’t, stop carrying it around. It’s heavy, isn’t it? Its not necessarily an overnight process. Not everyone can just dip into a frigid creek and have the same symbolic experience. Maybe you haven’t reached that point. This is a finality for me; I’ve worked a long time to get to this point – it didn’t happen overnight. Its been a lot of tears, a lot of thinking, even more beating myself up for things I can’t control. I have given myself the permission to let it go. And I think that everyone deserves that, and some incredible friends too. Stop letting these things control your life. You deserve peace, just like everyone else. Give yourself that grace.

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on”

Criss Jami

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Much Love ~ Jess

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D̶i̶s̶-Abled

Some of you may have caught my recent Facebook post where I implored local haunt-enthusiasts to please skip Pennhurst Asylum’s haunted attraction.

Pennhurst lacks no evidence of its otherworldly activity. The weight of sadness that patrons experience can be overwhelming. Countless “ghost hunts” have taken place on the historical premises, documenting thousands of events. And long before the facility closed its original operations, this heartbreaking documentary was filmed:

In this article by the Inquirer, you can see a detailed account of just a fraction of the institution’s horrifying history. Not that long ago in our history, persons who were deemed “less than” were stowed in facilities like this. They were considered an embarrassment, a burden, and not fit for society. Parents were encouraged to place disabled children in homes where they would be appropriately cared for. However, that was rarely the case. Facilities were dramatically overcrowded, understaffed and what staff was present was poorly equipped to care for anyone, let alone medically complicated patients. Doctors routinely performed experiments. Patients could be restrained constantly.

credit: thehorrormoviesblog.com

Some of the articles state that patrons of the haunted house attraction aren’t put off by it because the “atrocities didn’t happen in the areas they’re walking through.” That’s like saying its ok to be disrespectful in a courtyard of Auschwitz because the atrocities didn’t happen right in that area!

Pennhurst and other “schools” and “homes” for disabled, criminally insane, mentally unfit, and the like, speckle the history books with an embarrassing history of mistreatment. Mental health is a waning taboo in 2019, but is still a touchy topic that requires sensitivity. The real issue at hand is that there is someone capitalizing on this mistreatment. I won’t sit here and be some ridiculous mouthpiece for reparations or some other penance. A preserved, respectful memorial to those who were mistreated and lost their lives would be well more than enough.

Credit: Antiquity Echoes

In the discussion the other week, it was mentioned that, despite astronomical profits topping over a million dollars a year, none of it was donated to further services for the disabled. When facilities like Pennhurst began to close due to understaffing, overcrowding, and general misuse, the burden was again placed on the families, with little support offered. My own family has benefited from Early Intervention and Intermediate Unit services, but it doesn’t truly offset the heavy responsibility of caring for a child with any type of disability. Since I worked from home, I was not eligible for any type of respite care – one would think that a mother who is solely responsible for a child 24/7 would be the first to qualify for a break, no? Apparently not. Childcare services require you to be below the poverty line. Daycare’s require one-on-one aides that you have to conjure up (good luck with that; we are still waiting 5 months later). Leaving your child with someone requires an inordinate amount of trust in someone to understand your barely-verbal child. Friends who’s children have meltdowns and outbursts require caretakers who have mountains of patience and who are equipped to handle these incidents. Institutionalizing my son would have absolutely never been an option for me, but I can certainly understand the societal pressure to do so.

Now, all of that said, if the current owners of the Pennhurst grounds were to donate at least a large portion of their profits to improving services for the type of patients Pennhurst once housed, I could stomach the profiting off this tragic era much better. It still wouldn’t sit completely right with me, but I would feel better knowing that perhaps the entire state of Pennsylvania’s special needs care system would fare much better, as a tribute to its tragic history.

More reading on Pennhurst Asylum:

Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance

NPR: Haunted House Has Painful Past as Asylum

Philadelphia Inquirer: Thrills or exploitation? Pennhurst Asylum open for haunting season

Trigger warning on this article, but very well written piece by someone on the spectrum: PAranormal (and True) Crime

A&E To Premiere Record-Breaking Special On Pennhurst Asylum