Healing 2

[cw emotional abuse, animal abuse]

If you are experiencing or have experienced emotional abuse please reach out to those around you. There is nothing shameful about this experience, despite what our (my own included) self-talk says to us.

This is absolutely not our fault.

Insofar as I can tell this person who targeted me actively targets people with specific traits, and said targets tend to fit the following approximate typology:

  • intelligent (ideally with the support of a strong mentor/mentor group),
  • research interest or focus in media analysis (specifically comic book, video game, and film analysis),
  • empathetic,
  • previous experience/s of abuse,
  • previous experience/s of mental and/or physical illness (but usually both),
  • a love for dogs (yes, actually).

This person with whom I was in an abusive relationship has an established pattern of abusive behaviour. Approximately, in my experience and based on the experiences of others who have shared with me, it goes…

  • perform reluctance at becoming friends,
  • disclose that their previous friend/friend group was traumatizing,
  • ask you to remove said people from your life,
  • be hyper-critical of you/your work one minute and unbelievably supportive the next (ie. display grooming/honeymooning behaviour),
  • lie to you about what others (including mentors, faculty advisors, friends, etc) are saying about you,
  • ingratiate themself into any current social group you have,
  • further attempt to isolate you from said social group,
  • if there is a dog involved they will abuse/neglect said dog and blame you for it/attempt to convince you that you’re the abusive/neglectful one,
  • stop speaking or elsewise communicating with you over an extended period of time,
  • will threaten you into not speaking with them (ex. I’d hate to think of what would happen if…, I value our relationship so much I’d hate for something to happen if you don’t do x/y/z…, etc),
  • when confronted with their behaviour will double down on their actions,
  • will proceed to yell or scream that you’re actually the abusive party (in my case it was on National PTSD Day, and they accused me of talking about my symptoms too much/accused me of yelling back at them and further triggering their behaviour),
  • will either then repeat the cycle or remove themself from your life almost entirely,
  • “almost” entirely because you will then become the traumatic and abusive one, which may further isolate you.

It is my belief that this person is required to be the most intelligent, most physically and/or mentally ill, and the most cared about person in any room. Negative attention is still attention, and many of us have felt/did feel guilt for not being able to support them and provide the attention to them they appear to require.

While this is a very bare-bones post I already have abouts 1400 words written in a pseudo-memoir form explaining my specific experiences. Until or if I post my abuse narrative I am comfortable with people reaching out for clarification with the understanding that I may not respond. Thank you.

Note: I don’t really know where to go from here in order to have myself feel safe again. With that said I want to stress that I don’t believe punitive justice helps anyone, and that in order to make actual change transformative justice is necessary. I am absolutely not sharing my experience in the hope that this person is punished for what they have done to me and others, but rather I am sharing in the hope that this person gets the help they need. This is in order to aid them in not repeating this pattern of abusive behaviour moving forward, and to thus not abuse others in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about what transformative justice is/looks like please read the Transformative Justice Handbook. While the focus of the handbook is on childhood sexual abuse, in my opinion as a victim of CSA as well as other forms of interpersonal and systemic abuses it’s laterally relevant to most–if not all–situations of abuse.



[cw emotional abuse, bullying]

As some of you know I’ve recently found myself out of an emotionally abusive situation with someone who I considered to be:
– a supportive fellow student
– a considerate roommate
– a generous best friend
– a loving zucchini

It’s hard for me to admit that not for the first time in my life I have tolerated, accepted, and enabled emotionally abusive behaviour against myself. In fact it wasn’t until I reached out to a former mutual friend of mine and theirs that I discovered the behaviour which I wrote off as one-off things and bullying I was deserving of/one-off situations between this person and others spurned on by their maladaptive coping mechanisms were actually parts of a LONG pattern of abusive behaviour. In looking back our near-2 year friendship I can say that every moment and situation I can recall only served to either further ingratiate themself into my life, or to elsewise further/exert their control over myself or someone else.

I honestly don’t know if or how I could ever share all of the small incidences which built this pattern of abuse, but I’d like to share an email I sent to this person near the end of our relationship in hopes that it showcases my own experiences of the last few weeks particularly:

[name redacted],

While things have been becoming difficult in our home for a few weeks, this last week has been especially so. I am writing this letter to you not because I am angry, but because I am truly scared and deeply saddened by the events of this past week. While I understand that you are currently struggling with your symptoms of mental illness, due to my own experience of mental illness I am not able to support your actions any further. In such a short time I have exhausted all of my energy and patience due to the way in which events have transpired, and I am writing this to you now as a last-ditch effort to save our roommate arrangement. As such I’m pleading with you to please read this entire letter and take it into consideration.

I am sorry for belittling your pain and your experiences with [personal information redacted]. It was never my intention to do so, but I understand and appreciate that my actions have affected you nonetheless. Moving forward I will not be speaking to you regarding my experiences with chronic pain or PTSD. I will remove my assistive devices (canes, walker) from shared spaces as soon as is possible, and will keep my therapy reminders in my room only. I will additionally not share or comment on any posts, Tweets, etc you make on social media regarding your symptoms or experiences of mental or physical illness.

I do not trust that Sushi [my dog] is safe in your care, and as such will continue to keep him in my room at night, and whenever I leave the house and anticipate strangers (to him) will be here. I will additionally be installing a lock on my door. That said: dogs are not meant to remain kenneled for longer than 4-5 hours at a time, and because of that I have missed out multiple times on spending time with my friends and family. This is unacceptable. Moving forward I need at least 24 hours notice if people are coming to the house so that I can make appropriate arrangements for him, and subsequently plan my own life accordingly. I will additionally provide that information to you in kind.

When we moved in together we shared with one another that being yelled at was a mutual major trigger. While I dissociate when I’m being yelled at and appear to be passive and calm, in the aftermath I have experienced panic attacks and nightmares–as well as increased episodes and severity of dissociation–as a direct result. The dissociation specifically is difficult for me to deal with, as currently it is rendering me uncommunicative whenever you’re in a room with me. There is absolutely no reason I should feel this scared (or scared at all) to live in my own home, and thus this kind of behavior is unacceptable. If you ever, under any circumstance, yell at me again I will be giving you 48 hours to pack and move your things.

To summarize my feelings of the past week into bullet points:

  • I have lost any and all trust in our relationship.
  • I feel lied to and disrespected.
  • I feel unsafe and trapped in my own home.
  • I am experiencing increased symptoms of my own mental illness.

I genuinely hope we are able to find a way to make our roommate arrangement work out, and that you take my words into consideration.


Not everything was bad with this person, and in fact so much of it was actually fantastic and supportive that it made it that much easier to ignore/explain the red flags, and is also the reason I gave this person the benefit of the doubt in my email. In speaking with my therapist I now know that this is a common tactic in emotional abuse: by making things seem good on the whole it becomes easier to control others. Never before have I been scared by the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I’m so sorry for everyone who has been affected by this person’s behaviour. Especially, however, I am so sorry to anyone who was also affected by this person’s behaviour in my time as their friend, because I now realize I enabled this abuse toward you by believing their lies and excusing their behaviour. I can only hope that you eventually find healing.

No one deserves this.

Note: I don’t really know where to go from here in order to have myself feel safe again. With that said I want to stress that I don’t believe punitive justice helps anyone, and that in order to make actual change transformative justice is necessary. I am absolutely not sharing my experience in the hope that this person is punished for what they have done to me and others, but rather I am sharing in the hope that this person gets the help they need. This is in order to aid them in not repeating this pattern of abusive behaviour moving forward, and to thus not abuse others in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about what transformative justice is/looks like please read the Transformative Justice Handbook. While the focus of the handbook is on childhood sexual abuse, in my opinion as a victim of CSA as well as other forms of interpersonal and systemic abuses it’s laterally relevant to most–if not all–situations of abuse.

Edit: Also I cannot thank the people in my life enough for their reactions over the last few days. Especially though I’d like to thank my parents, my therapist, my suppotters, and my professors/mentors for their kindness and tact. My gratitude knows no bounds.

A day in the PTSD life…

I wrote this on my Facebook a few days ago, but figured it would be appropriate here!

[cw explanation of PTSD symptoms]

Hey friends as many of you know I was diagnosed with PTSD in January. Because June is National PTSD month and June 27th is National PTSD day (in the States, but we can recognize it up North here too) I wanted to give y’all a bit of an idea of what my day-to-day is like living with PTSD. Right now I have some other health issues going on (that I’m hoping to gain some more insight to with an all-day-test-day this Friday!), and that definitely informs how my PTSD symptoms present. A lot of the time people want mental and physical health to be separate beasts, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Because of that I’m not going to specify which symptoms inform which, as I don’t see that as a useful way to metric things.

But without any further preample: A Day In The Life! (this is actually taken from a few days, but none more than a week ago because my memory is shot lol)

0000 Been in bed for 2 hours, still awake. Had a rough convo with a friend and I can’t stop thinking about a single phrase they used, because it’s a phrase my abuser used to use.
0100 Having bouts of dissociation that roll into a panic attack that roll into dissociation and back again. I feel unsafe at night to begin with, but it’s especially bad when I’ve experienced a trigger.
0200 Still not asleep. I might try playing an app game, watching a YouTube video, or petting Sushi but they’re only temporary distractions.
0300 I honestly begin wondering how expensive it would be to replace my door with something that locks. In fact, I wonder HOW MANY locks I could possibly fit on the same door. I’m handy! I can install a bunch!
0400 FINALLY I fall asleep. Unfortunately I experience nightmares every night, and night terrors more often than not, so falling asleep is more bittersweet than anything else.
1600 I wake up! I’m still absolutely exhausted!
1700 I need to go pick up prescriptions (because I’m totally that person who anti-med people warn you about, and I take a fuck tonne) and lo there’s one of my major triggers at every pharmacy. Because of that I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with Sushi before I leave the house (he’s a relaxing guy!), and this is usually when I decide to do his brushing/walking/etc.
1800 Shocking to no one the pharmacy trigger is still there, but despite my best prep I’m still caught having a panic attack in public. Because I could anticipate this would happen I’ve already mapped out where the closest bathrooms are in case I start crying in public.
1900 If I have the money I’ll grab myself a Starbucks or something for the way home to distract myself from the fear of having a panic attack in public. If I’m broke (like I am right now because I can’t work lol) I’ll flip through Sushi pics.
2000 Maybe I eat, maybe I don’t. Because I’m nauseated pretty much always my appetite is shot, so sometimes I forget.
2100 This is usually when my limbs get too heavy to move, so I’ll go lay down with an audiobook. If it’s been a trigger-heavy day I’ll re-listen to something I’ve heard a few times before so I can anticipate my reactions.

And then it repeats the next day!

I tried to pick situations that are fairly standard/average, so even though I’ve based this mostly off of yesterday/today for those in-the-know you’ll see that I’ve actually made this hypothetical day a lot easier than the last few days have actually been lol I hope this gives a bit of an idea of what PTSD can mean though (for me, anyways).

Wanna help me save up for my service dog? https://www.youcaring.com/briealmoireabhtetlock-1120298

Remember: not all disabilities are visible. Be kind.

Surprise! Pearls with the Shucking Mama | #shuckyeah!

Making money while in university is tough. Making money while in university with disability? For me it’s been near-impossible. I’ve always known that freelancing is/would be the best fit for me in the long run, but when my mum and sisfriend approached me with an idea for a Facebook Live business I was still wary. Shucking oysters live? It honestly sounds ridiculous (maybe because it is!), but eventually I agreed to come in with them as a social media admin.

Let’s start with some introductions first!

Who are we?

Existential contemplation time (jk but kinda not).

My sisfriend, Deanna, is the Shucking Mama!

Deanna wearing a single pearl in a swirly heart pendant!

With 3 kids going on at home Deanna super enjoys the flexibility being her own boss affords her. She’s able to wear Elliott for the most part during shows, and Jordyn and Ryleigh have made guest appearances on the show when they’re not too busy playing! She also loves the community being built around our shows, and really enjoys seeing the same names pop up on her screens week to week!

My mum, Annette, is the Shucking Grandmama!

My mum wearing a single pearl in a cube pendant (also just generally lookin’ super cute with my dad)!

Mum especially appreciates the flexibility offered to her as well (see the theme forming?). Being able to pop on and off tasks as she has the opportunity is lovely, because it makes more time to hang out and play with the grandkids! With two kids already raised of her own being able to sit back and relax with her grandkids is one of her favourite things to do. She especially loves to see how excited people get over their pearls!

I’m the Ban Hammer!

Brieal (me!) wearing 4 pearls in a tube pendant!

Working for myself, with family, has been so rewarding. Even on days where I can’t seem to get any editing work I know that I can throw a message into our Shuck Squad group chat to renew my resolve for the coming Tuesday. Because I’m always responding to messages and comments in-show I’m so appreciative of the community that’s forming around our shows! That said: because we’re an entirely independent business the part that I’ve struggled with the most is getting people to really understand what exactly our business is all about!

So what do we do, exactly?

Short-form: Deanna shucks oysters over Facebook Live, and people get to keep the pearls!

Long-form: We work as a team to tailor a consistent experience of fun and community around the shucking of pearls over Facebook Live where people order lovely pearls and pearl cage jewelry!

One of the many unconventional projects that Deanna’s taken on for Surprise! Pearls.

We’re an entirely independent business which means that all of our planning, ordering, photographing, messaging, inventory-ing, sorting, shucking, etc is done by one of the three of us. While other people choose to go the MLM route through a larger company we wanted to be entirely our own bosses! While this has resulted in some extra work (… A LOT of extra work) it’s been worth it for us because we can tailor our business to meet not only our needs but also the needs of our fanbase!

Because we’re a Facebook-only business all of our show preorders are done through Facebook messaging. This means that one of us needs to have our phone on us at all times in order to keep track of inventory! Although I work as the social media admin due to my school schedule the person who most often responds to messages and makes posts throughout the week is Deanna, while my responsibilities are primarily in-show. My mum, Annette, works hard to keep track of our inventory and book keeping, and works as Deanna’s assistant in-show! She makes sure that Deanna knows who gets their oyster opened next, and keeps track of shipping everyone’s orders! But all of that would be for nought if Deanna didn’t shuck oysters Live! Right now we have a weekly show every Tuesday at 7pm PST/8pm MST during which Deanna shucks individual and giant oysters to reveal the awesome pearls inside!

All that said: our positions are made up and the points don’t matter! We all work all of the positions based on our abilities and time available. Everyone has done everything at this point, regardless of if it’s their wheelhouse or not!

How do we get our awesome pearl colours?

A lot of the fun of our shows is that you never know what colour you’ll get until Deanna shucks the oyster. Every oyster contains a pearl, so the only risk is colour result! This also means that although there are jewelry options for pearls a lot of people end up collecting the pearls as-is.

A great example of just some of the colour options available!

A couple people on Facebook wanted to know more specifically about how our pearls get their colour as well! Our single pearls are beautiful Akoya pearls. This means that each cultured oyster is implanted with an irritant or two (a graft of mantle shell–otherwise known as the pearl nucleus), around which nacre forms evenly to create a fairly consistent round pearl. We also sometimes order oval shaped pearls as well! This method of culturing means that we’re able to get pearl colours which (perhaps obviously) don’t exist outside of this method.


We additionally have begun ordering cultured giant oysters! These huge oysters hold 20+ natural ivory/cream/white pearls! Because of the number of pearls being implanted and cultured at once we’ve stuck to the natural colours as the “rainbow” giant pearls are implanted with coloured plastics as opposed to mantle grafts. This results in a less resilient pearl, which doesn’t hold up to our high standards (yet! anyways).

Why does all this matter?

We LOVE being our own bosses, and are so looking forward to taking our business further! As people just starting out we’re striving to be as upfront about ourselves and our business practices as possible! We’re three people who have come together to work hard, and we hope that others are interested in said hard work!

The entire Surprise! Pearls team!

I hope this has cleared up some of the more common questions we get about our business! If you figure I’ve left something out please don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook!

What is #endometriosis?

[cw for medical narrative, and talk of gender dysphoria]

I don’t remember when my pain went from being only during my period to being a semi-/daily occurrence.

Continue reading “What is #endometriosis?”