Don’t Live with the Safety On

Metaphorically Misbehaving I
(self portrait circa 2005)

Don’t live with the safety on.

I did for a long time. My finger pressed so tight against it that even when I would relax, the little round imprint was there to remind me not to stray too far.

I would thumb over it… & then…

like the wind,

like a bullet,

my finger would swiftly shift back to that deep-seated stance. My mind would pin all traces of “unorthodox” thought back up on the wall. The tack would usually pierce the paper holding the story that I am shy.

Until it didn’t.

When I was a senior in high school I got picked up for underage drinking. I remember that night so vividly. That abandoned house we were sneaking around in, the smashing of windows, our chaos echoing through the woods to a nearby house that was attached to the phone line that was used to call the cops on us that night.

There are many details to that night’s story, but I’ll spare you of them because the most important thing didn’t happen that night…

It happened a couple months later, when I had to go on a day tour of our local Boot Camp for juveniles.

I was under 18 thankfully, so I was able to work off my fine & the mark on my record by participating in Teen Court, where I got sentenced with community service & day at this camp.

I worked at my high school cafeteria over the summer, hair net & all.

The day at the camp was horrifically illuminating. When I told Kurt of this experience he chuckled, after serving for 4 years in the military he got used to being told what to do but agreed that the first day was the roughest.

It wasn’t touring the Boot Camp that blew my heart wide open, it wasn’t being made to eat every last & little piece of the broccoli florets on my plate during lunch… it was the experience before we got in the van to go there.

We gathered at the County Jail…

A group of us from around the county, that were recently picked up for this, that or the other thing.

We were peers. We were strangers. We were all kids being charged for doing what most teenagers do, we just got caught.

When we went in, we were put behind bars & humiliated.

I was & still am in some ways, a shy being. It’s something that I have grown to love. At that time though, I was crawling out of the shell of being painfully shy.

Having just gotten out of a horrendous relationship that year…

The Eye of My Heart
(self portrait circa 2005)

I was in the heart of rebellion.

I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, but at this time, after gaining enough strength to say no to that relationship, finally…

With taste of freedom in my mouth…

I just kept chewing & chewing, wings spread, flying right into the face of life.

So, when I was in that holding cell after savoring the flavor of true freedom, the whole of everything hit me like bullet to the chest.

That bullet that I protected myself from for so many years by keeping my finger on the safety.

I gritted my teeth through the physical activity, the push & pull ups. Through the guard’s lips being two inches from my nose, the stench of chewing tobacco spraying my face as he got off on his power…

Feeling fearful & small… tears rolling down my cheeks because it felt just like that shit storm I just rose the hell out of…

But when he told me to get close to the camera & shout that I didn’t love my family…

That I did this because I didn’t love my family.


I thought:

Are you serious, dude??!!?

Fuck you.

Say it, say: I don’t love my Mom : SAY. IT.

Me: Stone face, teeth tight, eyes flaming with anger.

This is all a game. He can’t hurt you. Stand your ground.

No, sir.

Say you don’t love your Dad. SAY IT.

No. Sir. Staring straight forward.

Say it! What about your brother, how about him, you’re setting a really great example for him, what’s his name, Josh?

My brother’s name coming out of his lips was like slamming his open palm down on ALL my buttons over & over & over again.

You don’t get to say his name, I thought.

This is the point where I would have taken a swing at that ex-boyfriend.

*breathing through my nose*

Say it now or the rest of the group will pay.


Me: Voice cracking, No. I love them.

Just say it so we can get on with this already!

My eyes shifted from forward right up to connect with his, slow & filled with anger & dejection, I said:

I don’t love me.

I caught the guard off-guard. My heart skipped a few beats.

He hesitated for a second, all those negative statements he said, the empty shells of his words, hanging in the air, in the heart of the room, came crashing to the floor…



for what seemed like a lifetime, as he stared my young & open heart down.

What about you, he said, to the next person in line, do you love your family?

Yes sir.

I stood there in shock having just blown my truth right out the barrel.

Metaphorically Misbehaving II
(self portrait circa 2005)

For the 10+ years since that moment, I’ve been firing the shit that clogs up my barrel


Sometimes, through phases of transformation (I’ve had many & I sure hope I continue to)…

I shove unneeded stuff in there.

Only to pull the trigger on it when I can really see why it’s really there in the first place, asking myself, how did that get there?

I sort through the smoke that rises. I poem it out. I fall deep in the shell casing. I put my damage on & on the climb back out, the upward scale, I work to shed all that is untrue.

I keep what I need & let the breeze from my lips blow the rest away.


I’ll keep living with my safety off.

I’ll keep firing my truths in array of mediums.

I’m a freedom fighter.

I’ll keep using my gun for good…

Are you with me?

Love & Light & Freedom,

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