Author:Paul Gilmartin

Home: A Guest Blog by Ashley B.

Since I was a small child I have periodically felt a longing so deep and so wide it consumes all of me. Until recently, I’ve never been able to identify the source of this longing or what it would take to fulfill it. I’ve never been able to put words to it, other than repeating over again as I weep the non-sensical phrase, “I want to go home.”

I remember clearly when I moved from Pensacola, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama with my mom and dad when I was 11. I was laying on the fold out couch in our temporary apartment while my mom anxiously attempted to quiet me. I was crying so hard and wailing the phrase to her, “I want to go hooooome!” She thought I meant back to Pensacola and she tried to reassure me that Birmingham was my home now and in no time it would begin to feel like it. But, that wasn’t what I meant. I didn’t know what I did mean but I knew that wasn’t it. I knew wanted home but I had no clue how to define it.

Now, after years of therapy and life experience, I have a better understanding. Home represents to me safety, security, and comfort. It means unconditional love, affection, and acceptance. It means a place to put down roots, to throw out my anchor, so I no longer feel like I’m floating around in space haphazardly, like Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

I did not have that as a child. I did not have a place or person I felt I could count on or cling to when I was in need. My parents were there, technically, but they weren’t my home. My father used and abused me. He perverted my natural needs to meet his own unnatural and self serving ones. My mom, well…she tried. But she was beaten down emotionally, depressed, full of regret. She had nothing to give me. My sister was married and out of the house by the time I was four. My brother went away to college when I was seven. Then it was just me, my abusive father, and my emotionally bankrupt mother.

So what does a child do when the monumental task of growing up is put in their own small hands? Maybe some would drop the heavy thing and run away to play, choosing not to accept the responsibility, come what may. I always wanted to be that type of child; I envied them their carefree fun. That wasn’t me though. I accepted the task in my inadequate hands and I tried my best to carry it. I did what I could. I succeeded and even exceeded expectations in the ways it came naturally to me, like at school, and I just did the best I could with everything else. I did ok, maybe even extraordinarily well under the circumstances, but I still missed a lot.

Now I’m well into adulthood and as I’m finally realizing all I missed, I grieve. Some of it can be made up for and repaired, but not all. I’ll never be able to go back and feel the comfort and safety of being in the embrace of an attuned mother or a protective father.  I cannot go back and make up for all I’ve lost, so I grieve.

But in my grief I also realize, I CAN go home like I’ve always longed to do. I am creating home for myself. I’m creating it within me, as I learn to know, love, trust and even cling to myself. And I’m creating home in my world outside of myself, relationship by beautiful relationship. It’s empowering to realize that not only did I get myself to adulthood intact (mostly), but I am also taking myself home.

To read more of Ashley’s writing.


Heather Marlowe

The writer/performer opens up about being drugged and raped and the pressure she has been putting on the San Francisco police department to process the thousands of warehoused rape kits whose DNA could help catch the predators who remain unapprehended.

Follow Heather on Twitter @HeatherMarlowe  To find out more about her play The Haze go to

This episode is sponsored by Rooted.  To sign or find out more information go to


Terri Hartman

The 54 year-old shares about her battles with fibromyalgia, her physically abusive mother, how her illness affects her relationships, her anxieties and how expressing her emotions helped the intensity of her physical pain.

This episode is sponsored by Rooted.  For more information go to


The Pit of Despair: A guest blog by L Jean Schwartz

There’s a place I call the Pit of Despair, and sometimes I end up at the bottom of it. It’s not a geographic place of course, though that might make it easier to avoid. I could tell my GPS to avoid routes that lead to the Pit of Despair, but I’m working on training my Emotional GPS to avoid those routes, and how to recognize when I’m starting to slip to the bottom of the Pit. Only recently have I named the Pit, been able to talk to other people about it, and learned what I need to do when I’m at the bottom of the Pit: reach out for help.

But that’s easier said than done. I’ve dealt with depression and disordered eating for about half my life (and the anxiety those bring), I cut as a teenager and I still battle self-destructive impulses. I’m lucky to have many loving, supportive friends and family members, I see a therapist, and I still struggle with reaching out for help.  I worry about whether I’m inconveniencing someone by asking for support, if it will send me further down if they aren’t available to help, if they’ll get mad at me for what I’m feeling, if they’ll just dismiss it or tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way.  I think that’s one of the hardest things about depression/anxiety, etc. is that I often know I “shouldn’t” feel that way or wish I didn’t feel that way, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do.

It’d be like there’s a beautiful sunset but there’s a snarling lion right in front of you. Yes the sunset is beautiful, but you probably can’t enjoy it because you’re afraid for your life! If someone says, “Look at the beautiful sunset! Why can’t you enjoy how beautiful it is?” that doesn’t make the lion go away. Being mad at someone for being afraid of the snarling lion or dismissing their fear doesn’t make it go away. Unlike real lions, one of the most helpful things someone can do when there’s a lion in our minds is to be supportive and listen. Empathy can actually be very easy, and I hope it’s something more people can practice and value. It’s healing to let go of trying to seem perfect to each other and talk honestly about the challenges we all face.

I’m a writer/director/comedian and I make comedies about things you’re not supposed to laugh about to help open up these discussions. A friend said recently that he makes films that are like spilling your guts, and I realized I make films that are like spilling your guts and then laughing about how weird guts look. My protagonists are usually oddballs in some way, and I tell stories of them finding other people who are weird like they’re weird and finding a place they belong. That’s catharsis to me, not faking it to fit into other people’s idea of “normal” but finding other people who love you for the oddball that you are. People who will stand by your side whether there are snarling lions, beautiful sunsets, or both at the same time.

L Jean Schwartz is a writer/director/comedian, you can follow her on Twitter @ljeanerator and her film The Average Girl’s Guide to Suicide @taggts_ – more information at


Matty McVarish

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Matty could no longer bear the silence he saw around him, so he started Road to Change and walked 10,000 miles across Europe to  raise awareness and in the process helped change laws in several countries.

For more information on Road to Change go to or visit the Facebook page

Follow Matty on Twitter @RoadtoChangeEU

To donate your time or money to Free Arts, the program Paul talked about that helps underserved kids in Los Angeles through art, visit


Kelly M.

The 24 year-old shares about identifying as asexual and gender-fluid as well as the hurdle of coming to terms with a childhood that wasn’t overtly abusive, just void of connection.  They also talk about Kelly’s OCD, anxiety, depression and love of fan fiction.

To help abused children express themselves through art, support the Free Arts project in Los Angeles.  Visit  You can donate money or see what it takes to become a volunteer.