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It’s official- I’m back!

This little plant, surviving on its own among rocks and dirt, with its green spikes and its delicate purple flower? This plant is my role model.

Ugh.

Life is messy.

There’s this idea that we are supposed to grow up, get a degree and a career, find a husband, make some babies, and live happily ever after.

I did it wrong. No- differently.

I dropped out of college, married as an escape from an abusive childhood, had beautiful babies, grew up and began my life.

I’ve just turned 42 and I’m only one year out of University and LET ME TELL YOU IT’S BEEN A HELL OF A YEAR.

Because another thing about Life is that not only does it come in whatever order it comes in, but it likes to throw curveballs, too.

Immediately after university I found a part time job tutoring junior college students in writing (and oh man it was like my FAVORITE job I’ve ever had). I intended to use the other part of my time to grow SOAM.

But here’s the thing.

Turns out I’m neurodivergent. I’m seeking diagnoses right now but I’m confident that I have ADHD and likely autism as well (grown women discovering this about themselves in middle age or later is a Whole Thing).

I’ve watched over the years as bloggers who were just beginning at the same time I was succeed well beyond me, but I’ve felt paralyzed all these years because I don’t understand how to move forward. How do I write a book? How to I create and launch new projects? Etc. I’ve spent literal years saturated in my own shame for not succeeding but I didn’t know what else to do. I came to believe I was just “bad” at being self-employed.

I now recognize this as executive dysfunction. And I know it’s not my fault. My brain is just built differently. Having this information is key to moving forward in literally every aspect of my life. It’s absolutely a positive thing, but it’s also a huge thing. With understanding one’s own neurodivergence later in life comes the need to deconstruct one’s own psyche, learning how it works, what it needs. It takes time to rebuild it. Right now I feel like I have pieces of my psyche, my soul, littering my living room, like a car’s engine in a hobbyist’s garage. It’s a lot.

But that’s not all that happened last year.

I also found out my bones are dying and, later, that my hormones are trying to kill me via PMDD.

Like I said. Hell of a year, I tell you what. (Hank Hill voice)

I tried to go into my tutoring job one day in November and before I even clocked in, I began sobbing out of nowhere. I couldn’t stop. In fact I didn’t stop for a whole week until my stupid period started. I had to leave my job behind.

This all comes on the heels of three years of dealing with my child’s disability which has been wildly unstable at times.

I am burnt out, y’alls.

I am seeking disability payments, but that is a Whole Process and can take years. I looked into cash aid, but they would take my other income from me and now allow me to make more (and also not give me more than I currently get. ??? Vogons never make sense).

So I am shifting gears again. I tried it in the “real world” and the Universe not so gently nudged me back here, because it knows that this is where I belong.

Understanding that I have problems with executive function not only lifts years of shame off my shoulders, but it also allows me to know that I need to seek resources and what resources to look for. I’m excited to re-begin my career with this new understanding of myself; I can’t wait to see what I am really capable of – what SOAM is really capable of!

Back here to SOAM, back to where my heart is and where my psyche is nourished. Working a flexible schedule allows me to support my body and mind in my healing and growth, and to support my children in their various needs (and disabled kids have SO MANY appointments) while not further stressing myself into a world that was built for neurotypicals and not neurodivergents. This is my path to healing myself and my family, but also to do the good work in the world that I am passionate for.

Future goals for SOAM are (and have always been) to create more online community and education through webinars, book clubs, Q&A, and more. I also hope someday to create more irl community through talks, classes, and conferences. Most immediately I am creating a body positive message board for my Patrons (more on that below).

Beyond SOAM, I’m also working on a memoir about my childhood in a hoarder home, a novel about a midwife navigating a post apocalyptic world, and other writings to be published in various places. All of my work comes from an intersectional feminist perspective and you can read some samples (more coming) at my website, BonnianneRatliff.com.

As a part of my recommitment to SOAM, I’m re-launching my Patreon with the hope that I can find some financial stability doing what I love to do and what I am good at doing. If SOAM has meant something to you, consider becoming a Patron for as little as $5/month.

This past year has been a wild ride but I want nothing more than to use all I’ve learned to continue to grow my work in our world. All difficulties and stressors aside, I am genuinely glad the Universe pushed me back here. Let’s stand together and make the world a better place.

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News
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I’m back kinda! Long story very short (more later), I’m disabled enough right now that I cannot work full time so I’m currently planning to bring life back to SOAM both in its historic form of honoring the mama body, but also in new ways. One of my favorite things is history so here is the first in a new series of posts about underrated badass bitches from history. It seems appropriate that I should choose a badass black mama for this first one as it’s Black History Month. Let me know what you think and who you’d like to know more about in the future!

-born a slave -outsmarted her slave owner and got her children sold to their (white) father to protect them -LITERALLY LIVED IN A TINY CRAWL SPACE FOR SEVEN YEARS WHILE SHE WAITED TO FLEE THE STATE -In a time when few slaves were allowed to learn to read or write, this queen *wrote her own fucking memoir*

Today I’m thinking about Harriet Jacobs. Look. This lady was a fucking badass. She was born a slave and wound up as a young girl in the ownership of this real fucky fucker named Norcom. She was pretty so Norcom fancied her especially and began building a home for her so that he could keep her to himself. Fucking scary.

So she starts a relationship with this other white dude who, iirc, was like pretty decent for a white dude at the time. His name was Sawyer and he was fairly influential at the time. She gets pregnant with his baby and, as punishment, her owner’s wife banishes her and threatens to kill her, so she lives with her grandma while she has two kids with this halfway decent white dude, Sawyer.

So Norcom, her abuser/owner, won’t leave her the fuck alone even tho she’s got this other white guy. He comes to harass her at her grandmother’s after she has her babies. He likes to remind her of his position as owner of her and now of her children. So when she’s just 21, she fucking runs away. Sorta.

Ultimately she winds up- and this is the fucking superhuman bit – SHE LIVES IN A TEENY SPACE UNDER HER GRANDMOTHER’S ROOF. LIKE 9x7x3. And she lives there FOR SEVEN GODDAMN YEARS. Her uncle had some mad carpentry skills so he built a little trap door that was nearly invisible if you didn’t know it was there. She’d come down in the dark of night to stretch her legs and do her business and then she hid away again.

Her babies were so young that she couldn’t let her kids know she was nearby in case they let it slip so they had to believe she’d gone. Harriet would peek at them from her crawl space during the days and watch them play. I can’t even imagine the kind of heartbreak she must have had to live in during this time. To watch her children grow up before her eyes, but without her.

Her abuser/owner got a little pissed off and figured he’d revenge her by selling her kids and her brother. BUT NEVER FRET because this Sawyer dude was waiting there to trick Norcom into selling them. He hired a slave trader to make the offer and Norcom didn’t realize Sawyer was behind this trick. There is some bullshit slave law crap about why you can’t just like buy people and then set them free so it was the best option at the time and the kids were able to remain living with their grandmother.

Eventually Harriet was able to leave not only the attic space, but also the state. She settled in New York and worked to free as much of her family as she could. Since she had been lucky enough to have been taught to read and write, she was able to write her own memoir. Which is fucking rad just FYI and you should read it. This is all the very short version. There are many more twists and turns in her book. She writes of her struggles to balance the Christian morality ideals (ie to not have sex outside of marriage) with her reality as a slave (being that sometimes you gotta bang a dude to save your life). She struggled openly and honestly with the very simple concept of bringing children into slavery at all:

“Sometimes I wished that [my son] might die in infancy. God tried me. My darling became very ill. The bright eyes grew full, and the little feet and hands were so icy cold that I thought death had already touched them. I had prayed for his death, but never so earnestly as I now prayed for his life; and my prayer was heard. Alas, what mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life! Death is better than slavery” (p 80).

Harriet Jacobs was such a skilled and honest writer that I hope you choose to read her book. In fact, you can read it FREE at Project Gutenberg. Click here!

Pictured: Cover of Harriet’s book, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”

Slavery is over in the US (well. that’s debatable) but the effects are still present today. Reading narratives directly from the minds of black women and men throughout history is important work.

Harriet is a woman I hold in my heart when things seem impossible. I hope she means as much to you as she does to me.

(One last thing- if you do decide to read her book, note that she uses fake names for all the people in her life in order to protect them as best she could from retribution. In this post I’ve used their real names.)

I’d like to do more of these posts in the future. Who are your favorite underrated badass bitches (or dudes or anyone except cis straight white men bc they have enough spotlight)? Leave me a comment and I may choose yours!

Categories: Badass Bitches From History, My Own Ramblings
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A Sad Announcement

My hips. They are dying. Literally.

As many of you know, these last few years have been a challenge for my family. As a single mom of two kids with special needs, I have been worn thin for a long time. Managing health care in the US, particularly for those who are low-income such as myself, and especially managing mental health care, is draining in and of itself. I am so tired, you guys.

But this summer I added a new diagnosis to the list. A rare disease where my bones are dying. Literally. (And I mean that “literally” literally. It’s called avascular necrosis.) I was immobilized for nearly all of July from the pain. The flare seems to be over so I am able to move physically again, thank goodness, but the disease has added a new fight to my life. Because it’s rare, even specialists don’t necessarily know how to diagnose and treat it and I have spent too much of my very little energy this summer trying to get appropriate care for this disease. I have not yet succeeded.

You can see the AVN collapse here.

Anyway. All this to say that I had hoped to spend time and energy after my graduation last December in growing SOAM to something new. I have to set that aside indefinitely for now.

Poverty is a very real trauma and I am so tired, you guys. So very tired.

SOAM will stay up and active as long as I can manage it. Please submit your stories! If any media wants to do interviews, I’m still open to that! But as for the in-person classes, parties, workshops, and events? That is a dream that I must lay aside for now.

This summer I was not working (I work during the school year as a tutor) but I had planned to do other work to cover the lack of income. Unfortunately that did not happen due to my new diagnosis and its flare up, as well as some other shit the Universe thought would be fun to throw at me (I see you there, Universe, and I am not amused). So we are behind on so many things financially, including some essentials like, you know, mortgage and HOA payments. If you can help us during this difficult time in our lives, I would be so grateful. We have a gofundme you can contribute to, if it you prefer, you can ask me for my Venmo or Paypal. Feel free to share the link as well.

Thank you all for everything through the years and for everything that will be coming to us in the future!

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News
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