Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ending the Darkness: Learning to Walk in the Light

It's hard to even believe I can write this when I think of my life.  But it's easy to realize why I can, once I do look back.  I have never been so happy, because I have walked for years under the darkest of clouds and finally took note of what it is to seek out the light, and walk where one can see life.  I've never been given a free ride, never given an easy way out, and never taken the common path.  Some of the things I've endured break weaker women; so I know to carry those wins, those scars, with pride, because I am alive today to share them.  Today I want to talk about the difference between light and dark, and why they're both worth living for, and recognizing them while you're there. 

There is such a stark contrast between where I am right now, and where I was just six months ago.  In May of this year, I got robbed at the job I thought I would retire from, lost said job, came up on the one year anniversary of the death of a great love, began the loss of a decade long sisterhood, had a beloved friend tell me we couldn't speak anymore, and couldn't have felt like there was less to live for.  When I attempted suicide, I was so incredibly full of pills and alcohol that I don't even remember telling my friend that I was doing it.  But her sister lived a block away, and was at my house in minutes.  I couldn't tell you the conversation we had, I only know that she was there.  For about a week straight, I continued to try.  I didn't tell anyone again.  And I don't remember much.  I just laid there, trying to die, knowing it was the only way to end the pain I would suffer forever. 

After two weeks of this drudgery, I got a new job, felt no different, but got up and went to work anyway.  Some days I went in a less than sober state of mind.  I wasn't clear of my dark sanctuary; I wasn't attempting to be.  I simply stopped trying.  Quickly, anger filled the space of my misery and I was fueled in an entirely new way.  I think of "White America," by Eminem (he filled a lot of my empty time during these days) "so much anger aimed, in no particular direction, just sprays and sprays".  I have typically been able to maintain a certain sense of level-headedness, consequently, my anger manifested in rants to myself, body aches from the masses of tension I kept inside, and facebook posts that never became specific enough to hurt anyone directly.   Some hurt for me, and reached out, which made my anger grow.  It caused me to, however briefly, face the person I had become.  Of course, I rejected the notions and kept on the same. 

During this time I went on allowing myself to feel shame for everything wrong I had ever done, feel pain for the hurt that was done to me, and wallowed in the pity that I developed for myself.  I had the worst life of anyone, ever.  I am not exaggerating when I say, I believed I felt more pain than anyone could ever reach but me.  I began to feel comfort in this dark world I built for myself.  Everything was pain, and pain was absolutely everything.  I expected it, I nourished it, I wanted it with me so I knew how to live.  I was martyring myself.  I can only laugh at the sheer hypocrisy of it all now.  The majority of my pain was self-inflicted; the pain that wasn't, was from causes endured by everyone in life.  But how did they all seem to let it go?  Did I truly believe I felt things more deeply than others?  Or was I just weaker than I thought, not knowing how to survive in spite of it all?  "This black cloud still followed me around."

This went on for sometime.  I withdrew almost entirely from life.  Possibly even, entirely, other than work.  No one wanted to speak to me anyway.  Looking back, I can understand why.  But this anger, this sense of nothingness, gave me a freedom, a gift, I will never lose, and will always keep close in sight.  I began doing whatever in the hell I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it, in whatever ways I wished.  I thought I always had, but in reality, I was only trying to.  And only ever in the negative aspects of life.  This gift gave me the freedom to do all of the good too.  I don't mean it to sound as though I went out and spewed every piece of garbage that crossed my mind. What I mean is that I felt free to tell people the absolute truth, and I do; I felt secure enough to tell people exactly how I feel about them, and I want to!  I say "I love you," more freely because I mean it more deeply.  That's something in all my life I have never been able to conquer.  And it's amazing.   

From here, I spoke the way I chose, to whom I chose, and let go of the stipulation that people had to like me.  I didn't fucking care!  For god's sake, I didn't like most people, why on Earth would I expect them to like me, when I was more outspoken, more deviant, more cross with them than they would ever consider being toward me!?   What that did for me though, I will never in all of eternity be able to articulate.  The idea that you can live your life the way you want, and disregard the pressures and expectations that society has imbued upon you,  and still be a functional, loved, and loving member of that same society, what a concept!  What a perfectly immaculate freeing concept!

From there, things slowly began to change.  When I say slowly, I mean I didn't even see it happen.  It's only in my reflection that I recognize the change.  I continued to mourn Ryan and Sara, daily, without the will to stop.  This was my biggest issue.  I know I focus on that a lot, because it has literally had the greatest impact on the path and direction of my life than anything, any other event ever has.  Two great loves gone.  How did I deal with this new notion that love can break my heart, and I get no choice of closure?  I faced my own mortality, head on, and by choice.  I began to write down my final wishes, plan my death to go my way, ensure that my plans were known to those who might be responsible for seeing them through.  I wrote my final letters to those of whom I had unfinished things to say.  I researched death itself, not in a spiritual or nostalgic way, merely a "what happens to you when you die," kind of way.  I know now that writing everything down the way you want, doesn't even matter.  Your kin, the ones handing over the check, can make whatever changes they want.  I learned that some of the greatest contemplative minds in history had outstanding perspectives on the inevitable.  I learned that it's a pain that never changes.  And I learned that one day, I will be that pain for someone, no matter what I do. 

What an eye-opening way to see the world.  One day, I am going to be that pain for someone, no matter what I do.  So I had better make it count, right.  Sara was the light of your life if she were in it.  When she was happy, you were happy.  Her laugh could out reign any sadness.  Ryan had a smile that was truly contagious.  People say that, and you always wonder if it was true about someone.  But with Ryan, anytime he's talked about, it's his smile that people go on and on about.  Neither one of those things will ever be erased from my memory.  And that makes me blissfully happy.  I have memories of them that are insanely beautiful, and they're mine.  What kind of memory do you want to be for those you love?  It's already going to hurt, because they love you.  I am making the choice, that when they are able, they will have things to smile about instead of a life wasted, to be grieved over.  I will be no one's "what if" story. 

A couple of things I did when I prepared my final wishes was to look at the expert wordsmiths on their descriptions of living, and ultimately dying, and see if anyone could detail the things I wished.  A couple of poems that changed everything for me include Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, as well as Death Shall Have No Dominion, and Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant.  A few songs include Alanis Morissette "That I Would Be Good," Jewel's, "Angel Standing By," and Pink's, "Beam Me Up."  The healthy perspective that each of these gave to me on death, and postmortem, astounds me each day. 

Do Not Go Gentle:  Each type of man nearing the end will know one thing about his life, that it was worth fighting for, even if he didn't do it right.  (Lesson: Everyone wants a second chance; no one will ever get it.)

Death Shall Have No Dominion:  Once we're all gone, we lie together as one, unrecognizable, the same, becoming part of the earth, to breed new life again.  (Lesson:  We are all equals; and only in death are we finally free to become part of everything.)

Thanatopsis:  There is nothing to fear in death, for it comes to us all, kings and noblemen, slaves and the forgotten.  Do not forget mother nature nourished your life, in death you shall nourish her begotten.  (Lesson:  We all have the same fate, and we will end up together, with our mother, continuing on forever, only in death.)

"That I Would Be Good": It is my hope that even in my most hopeless state, that I will be good enough; that at my worst, there will be someone who imparts to me, the grandest love.  (Lesson:  No matter the superficial quotas life throws at us, we all want the same thing, to be good enough for love.)

"Angel Standing By":  Spirits are manifestations of love that never turn to dust; love is at our side in every moment, waiting for when they're needed by us.  (Lesson:  Those you love are always with you, as an angel, waiting only for the moment upon which you call them.)

"Beam Me Up":  Death breaks us all into two separate livelihoods, one staying, wishing for another moment with you, and one which moves into your heart, void of anything but good.  (Lesson:  When someone we love dies, part of us goes with them; we never get it back, nor would we want to.  This is our way to stay together.)

Some of these voices are from many years past, teaching us that death is only an event in our lives that moves us on to another stage where we shall play our part.  Some of these are contemporaries, trying to grapple with the concept itself, teaching us that love and light, while we are able to feel it, are the only things that matter.  Take heed and know, that as we all endured birth, falling as we learned to walk, teen angst, terrifying 20s, loss, love, heartbreak, and all the other stages of life, that we will all most certainly endure the next, in death. 

Whatever the cause of your darkness, be it someone's death, loss of another kind, even a loss of the self, knowing that light is waiting to shine on you as a fact, is one piece of wisdom I can give to you all.  I was in the darkest hole of life, making it my home, comfortable enough for many a year stay.  I had no interest in coming out.  But sometimes it's inevitable.  Life forces you out in its own way, and in light, the new begins to grow.  As I came out for things like work, doctor's appointments, birthdays, etc., I began interactions with people in my new, honest, naked state of being.  The raw appeal I exposed to so many had a way of attracting that new growth in my life.  The right people stay; the weak go away.  The new blessings come from a place unnamed.  All I can tell is that now, in my life, I am surrounded by love and light, and I owe it all to the dark dwelling I carved out for myself and breathed in for awhile. 

When I talk to you about love, what I mean is this; love is an unconditional state of acceptance, of knowing you play a part in the life of an equal, a positive approach to existing for someone else's benefit.  Never in love do you do something with the hopes of receiving a reparation; only in love do you perform the grandest moments, become an utter servant, with the hope of merely impacting the other's life in a movement toward light.  Unconditional.  Look it up.  It is the only true way for love to exist.  It isn't romantic, though sometimes it ends up that way; it isn't familial, though familial love is typically what we relate to the unconditional (doesn't always work that way); it isn't friendly, though it should always exemplify the utmost etiquette.  Love is simply a method for giving yourself away, making sure someone has a part of you, until you are empty of even yourself.  Love is a verb, an act, a way to live, not a noun, not a thing you possess and take from someone to keep locked up selfishly for your own will.  Live in love and life will bring light, and death shall have no dominion over you.   

This blog is my manifestation of having accepted these facts.  My name, manic mortality, allows me not a sense of morbidity, as some have thought.  Rather, I am ecstatic about the fact that I can move on to an even greater stage of living, through death, and I am strong enough to face it head on.  My fear is gone.  I have only hopes that in my life, I shed some light on those who cross my path, and in death, I become part of something even more beautiful; a farmer's garden, a florist's greenhouse, a child's tire swing, a weeping willow, shade for a pet neglected by the mortal and left out in the heat alone.  There are so many possibilities.  On Earth, in life, I will be but a woman, of a certain type, to change and come unhinged from time to time.  In death, I will be endless.  Isn't this a stunning notion for us all? 


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dwelling on Regrets: How to Let Go

In one week, on a very different space-time continuum, I would be celebrating my first child's 18th birthday.  This information will be shocking, personal, and controversial, so I am warning you up front.  But it's my life, decisions I made, and consequences I survive inside of.  Try and remember that. 

When I was 17 and three months away from graduating high school, I fell ill.  So ill that all I could remember was being 10 years old with meningitis, being rushed to the ER, and laying on the couch for days afterward because moving wasn't an option; it was that bad.  I couldn't open my eyes because it made me nauseous; I surely couldn't close them, because the room would just spin like a top.  Crackers and water is all I consumed, and as quickly as they went down, they came back up.  I missed one month straight in school because getting out of bed wasn't happening.  I could just see me setting at my desk with a puke bucket at my side.  Excellent imagry, right?  So, after the blood work revealed my worst nightmare, I seriously considered suicide, running away, homicide, giving up on a good life, and the most amount of prayer anyone could perform, for the first time in my seemingly adult life.  I was pregnant. 

Realistic scenario:  Seventeen years old, living with my grandmother who made $7.05 an hour, I made somewhere around the same, we had, more than once, had our electric shut off because we had no money to pay it and it was the one feasible thing we could go a few days without.  We had gas heat for the stove so we could heat water on the stove to take semi-warm baths.  No one in my family had a formal education.  In fact, I was the great white hope of my bloodline.  The man who had gotten me pregnant was 28 and horrid.  He had one child he never saw, or took care of.  Drove a $200 car and lived with his brother in a place that had a landlord who was in his 90's and literally forgot they existed.  (I have explained to you my taste in men before; I am aware).  He had no job.  No money.  No prospects.  No interest in having a child with what was apparently supposed to be a good time for him with a teenager before he hit the big 3-0.  I had no support system. I had no hope.  I had no clue.   

I'm not setting you up to feel bad for me; I am merely trying to paint a picture that some of you may have never been able to bear witness to as of yet.  It was destitution and poverty and shame.  It was the uneducated, impoverished class breeding more of the uneducated, impoverished class, a cycle I was long trying to end in my family.  I was ready for my spot on the Montell Williams show.  But I digress.

Something I believe many of you also know is that I have never wanted children.  Turns out, they have never wanted me either.  I got sicker, and sicker, and sicker.  I lost weight because I couldn't eat and I was pale as could be, and that's saying something for a tried and true redhead.  When I finally was able to make it out of the house and to the doctor, he basically said, make a choice.  So I did.  At 17, living in the circumstances that I did, it wasn't the hardest choice to make.  But don't take what I am saying lightly.  I have had 18 years to cope with my decision. 

The baby growing inside of my body was depleting me of any nutrients that I was able to consume, which was very little, and at the rate I was going, about 8 weeks in then, we would both die, fighting for our lives.  I could make a choice, terminate the pregnancy, and thrive as a normal individual would.  I could risk it if I didn't believe him, though I was experiencing the difficulties every moment I was awake.  Or I could let the baby take my life, when it wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving anyway, just in the off chance that I might last long enough to give it lungs or something.  That was the choice I faced.  We see which path I took. 

My hope isn't to change your mind on the way you feel about abortion.  No one should be out there pandering to pregnant women to try this method instead, it's great!  That's a ridiculous notion, but seems as though it is a very real image a lot of pro-life people have which I have actually encountered.  Pro-choice and "pro-abortion," (something I believe does not even exist) are two entirely different concepts.  The protesters outside of the clinic that day, yes, it was incredibly stereotypical, were the worst.  Evil people assuming things about me and shouting them across Franklin County lines.  But there I was, facing the door of this tremendous choice, hardly strong enough to stand upright, walking the sidewalk alone.  Those who drove me went shopping, taking advantage of a day in the big city. 

Once inside, everyone was very nice.  The facility was clean, the doctors were very detailed and everything went pretty smoothly.  Except one thing.  Sidebar:  as I hunted for a place to go and have this procedure completed, I was bombarded with nurses begging me to reconsider before hearing a word out of me.  It was a slew of pro-lifers who shoved their way into the clinics in an attempt to change someone's mind, or scare them away, I can't decide.  The place I finally went to asked questions, listened to my reasoning, requested doctor's reports, seemed to care.  About me, the one who was here!  Hours after counceling, doctor's explanations, charts, expectations, etc., one of these women found me.  As she wheeled me into the surgical room, she told me my due date.  My utter disbelief of this woman stops me as I type.  What kind of a person...?

And so it was finished.  I came to in the recovery room, half sedated I heard the radio.  Bens Fold Five, "Brick," came on.  Now for those of you who don't know the song, it's about a young couple who is torn apart by the decision to have an abortion.  With cookie in hand, a slighted attempt to bring me out of sedation, in a room of a handful of other girls, I very vividly remember saying to the nurse, "it's the abortion song on the radio, how ironic," subsequently making them think I was ok and didn't need any follow-up counseling to deal with my experience. 

Digression is a wonderful defense mechanism.  Anyway,  over 18 years have passed, and every detail of that building rests inside my brain as if I have looked at pictures of the place every single day.  The pink warmth of the rooms upstairs, plush couches and comforting paintings on the walls; the steel coldness of the downstairs, shining and clanging with every movement.  I can see the blond hovering over me on the table as she tells me, November 4th.  Bitch.  I lived in Columbus for six years, and every time I drove by, my head turned and I looked to see if any protesters were out that day.  There never were.  Every November 4th rolls around and I think of what I would be doing for that year's birthday celebration, and every November 5th, I let it go.  I am not saying I cry and sob in a mound of guilt over what happened to me.  I don't.  But it's there, in my subconscious, and sometimes it rises up, and I wonder, what if?

Nine years later, I was married to the man whom I thought was the love of my life.  I miscarried for ten days, not knowing I had been pregnant to start.  We had a home, jobs, stability, no expectations.  When I saw the tenth day, physically held the tenth day, I cried.  I cried for two days.  It was the most unexpected thing that ever happened to me.  I never wanted kids.  Like I said, they apparently never wanted me either.  But I felt a little bit of payback, a little vengence being had on me.  When I looked my husband in the face and told him what had happened, he said, "why are you crying, it's not like we want kids anyway," and I suddenly knew the answer to "what if." 

I do not regret the choice I made.  I value my life.  I value the lives of others.  I regret that it had to happen the way that it did, but again, I see no possible alternative.  It's ok if  you do, or think that you do.  It's ok if some people never speak to me again after reading this.  It's a very sensitive topic.  "All those women out there who can't have babies and  you killed one." The outrage!  Yes, I did.  But the system is so overcrowded with already perfectly adoptable children that this excuse doesn't affect me.  I have some of these women in my family.  I feel for them.  I don't understand the motherly impulse to want to bear life.  My body told me I apparently didn't have to worry about it.  I developed a condition later on in life that almost makes having children an impossibility.  My tendency toward miscarriages increases with age and I feel that has always been with me.  It basically rejected two fetus' by the time I was 26 years old.  All I can hope that you take from this is that decisions like this are not black and white.  Everyone says, just give it up for adoption.  Well, a lot of those people don't understand the seriousness of bonding with something as it grows inside of you and the hardships of giving it up at that point.  How many lives get ruined from that botched decision?  It doesn't always work.  This isn't one of those topics that have a catch-all answer.  Every single situation is different. 

I remain pro-choice to this day because I am glad I had the safe, protected, legal ablity to save my own life.  A lot of people don't see this side.  And for those of you who think I made the wrong choice, then the lack of value you see in me, in my life, only tells me the type of person you are.  I don't believe there is a place in this world for the judgement of others.  Empathize for the choices people have to make and just be understanding.  You have absolutely no idea how you will react when you face some of the challenges others have to face every day.  I hope you know that. 

I have shared with you before that I enjoy reflecting on my life to try and see the puzzle pieces coming together and picking up on lessons I may have left behind.  A few I learned from this; 1.  Have sexual respect for myself.  There are serious consequences to being sexually active, and if we don't discuss them openly with people, believe it or not, some will never know.  I know I didn't. And I'm smart!  2. Understand that things happen as they are supposed to happen.  I have to charge myself with a great meaning for my life, or else, my choice may have been made in vain, and I can't let that happen.  3.  With the second loss, I felt a little freedom from my choice, as if it were my body telling me it would not have worked anyway. No this is not an excuse.  After a lifetime of doctors in my ear, I'm pretty certain it's the truth.  4.  Get to know someone before you marry them, as much as humanly possible.  5.  I don't have to regret what I did.  I am on this earth to bear the great burdens in life and explore their interworkings with you all, in an effort to save you from bearing them for yourself.  I have accepted that cross and happily abide by my purpose.  6.  And most importantly, don't let others push you down for the things you have done.  I will get slack for this, but I know my truths, and I know my heart.  No one else, no matter how close you get to another human being, will ever be able to say that about you.  So take charge of how you are treated for your actions.  Be strong and hold true.  It has taken me 18 years to be able to express this time in my life to people.  Until now, maybe a dozen people in 18 years ever knew this even happened.  Not out of shame, but out of avoidance.  I have no reason to hide anymore.  I have only reasons to share, help, and illuminate.  There are so many women who allow the shame of this experience to rule their heart.  I ache for you.  You are stronger than you will ever know for coping internally, alone.  I credit you with some of that now.  Don't live in regret.  Live in the moment.  Know that you will be the person you are meant to be.  Just open your eyes and pay attention to your life. 

One thing I have never told anyone...I always knew it was a boy.  I always knew what I would have named him, Isac.  Six weeks before my due date, my brother was born, to a woman I had spoken to once at the time.  She named him Isac.  I believe that spirits are never lost.  The world resides with exactly as many spirits as there are to hold them.  The same is true in death.  If we believe that we die when it is our time, then we must believe that those who are born, are born when it is their time.  I hold onto that and believe it deeply.  As I have dealt with more death than life, and believe it is harder to cope with, I believe in life's cycle as a system of faith.  There is no control in either direction; we merely must embrace which option is in front of us.

Take my story with you if you need.  Hate me for it if you must.  But know this.  Every November 4th I will have a little "happy birthday" song in my head.  And every Novemeber 5th I will move on. 



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Facing the Truth and Ending the Fight with Inhibitions

As a child, we are often told, "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."  That's a great sentiment, but what about when you get older?  We're told, "be yourself, no matter what."  I don't know about you, but "myself," very often has some unkind thoughts.  So what do you do about it?  Is it a battle we can win?  I say, absolutely.  Let us open our minds and walk through a few scenarios, enter the matrix, take a trip down a rabbit hole, and see where we end up, shall we? 

This may come as a shock to those of you who know me now, but as a child / teenager / wanna-be adult, I did the world's share of lying.  I believe self-reflection has brought me to the point I am at today, being able to see the harm I have done, and provide me with the insight toward the benefits of truth-telling, knowing oneself, and giving only the truth behind myself to the rest of the world. 

Lying as a, we'll go with "teenager," happened for many reasons.  Drugs, as you all are aware by now, were a part of my life for a brief time.  I would come up with fake reasons to need money, lie about where I had been, who I had been with, and of course, what I had been doing.  These types of lies though, aren't really what I want to focus on.  There is an inherent need to lie to people, about nearly everything, through the art of exaggeration, when one is unsure of oneself; insecurity will walk you to the front door of a false life and leave you there to rot.  This type of lying is harder to stop, because it is more complex in nature, at its root, and thus, harder to understand where it comes from, and why it shows up at all. 

My years as a teenager were spent as an "outsider, outcast," whatever you want to call it.  I had my circle of friends, most of whom fit into the same category, and it was with one another that we could be ourselves, as much as it allows for as a teen.  But I have always been able to remember catching myself, as if I didn't know I was doing it, telling the most exaggerated tales on the most insignifcant events, for what appeared to be no reason at all.  I hated myself.  Not for the lies, just in general.  I had believed for years there was something wrong with me.  I believed neither of my parents loved me, the rest of the family split down the middle and only a few spoke to me, and if you can't manage to convince your family to love you, then do you really have any worth at all? 

Of course you do.  And if someone doesn't love you, is that actually even a reflection of your worth?  Certainly not.  Parental issues are always something that embed themselves deep into your subconscious.  We all have them for one reason or another, and I am not using mine as any type of crutch; it is simply a truth we all face at some point.  What parental crutches have you created in your own subconscious?  Have you taken time to deal with them, even yet?  Reflection and serious dedication to the art on knowing your true self is necessary to battle the minions that arise from the sensitivities we envision as children.  The thought that my parents did not love me was absurd, and a notion I've dealt with over the years, details a plenty, with which I will not bore you now.  But couple this notion with the angst of being a teen, then with being an outsider, then with being a redhead, then with being poor, imagine the insecurities one must have.  In addition to that, I have recently discovered some hints of mania I am dealing with, and wondering the ways in which they must have manifested as a child.  All in all, I hold true to the "no excuses" clause and maintain that the term "crutch" is as accurate as I can get.  Everyone deals with something; not everyone makes an effort to learn and move on from it. 

A documentary I watched a few months back noted similarities in many children with mania; outbursts, stealing, rebelliousness, recklessness, lying, paranoia, unrealistic fears and phobias, etc., etc.  It was interesting to watch my life play out on television, as I was in fact, all of these things.  I had deeply ingrained fears that haunted me as a child, and then as a teenager.  (Sometimes I believe they have merely transformed into more "adult" fears for me now.)  But what I realized is, these fears, these insecurities, drove me to exaggerate even the most minute detail of a story in order to seem more appealing to whomever I was telling, in order to convince them, that I was worth their time, essentially, their love.

It wasn't until I entered my second mentally, and first physically, absusive relationship that I faced the one fear I hated above all the rest...I was a people-pleaser, a peace-maker, a doormat.  But only when it came to battles of love, in any realm, friendship, romantic, familial.  Otherwise, I was often called rebellious, deviant, what have you.  I did whatever I needed to do to keep the "love" I thought I had, happy with the person they thought I was.  Ugh, if you could have seen me the day I realized this.  Talk about catharsis.  I laid there, inanimate, for who knows how long, drowning in my discovery.  I was NOT a people-pleaser nor had I EVER been!!! I was so angry with myself; it's utterly indescribable.  My grandmother was a people-pleaser, a doormat; though I love her and see a strength in her not many others do, I couldn't be that person.  I had to fix it, fast.

All the while I was dealing with the battles of who I truly was inside, I was also dealing with a great amount of anger I was unaware of.  Most of us are, truthfully.  The world is in a state of despair and if we deny the injustices, the inequities, the ugliness of humanity, then my only thought is that you must have the abilities of a genuine sociopath, unfeeling, uncaring, living guilt free.  Even if great injustice has not occurred in your own life, a sense of connectedness to the rest of the living will allow you to bear that burden on your own.  And it hurts.  What is more, the partner that typically comes with anger, asking for it or not, is isolation and cruelty.  Though we are angry at the masses for the injustices being slighted all over the world, we are not hesitatant in taking it out on our fellow person standing before us.  (talk about a rabbit hole right?)

How does this all tie together?  Each and every single one of us can recognize that our world is in a state of despair.  And unless you are grouping with the sociopathic in nature, it is safe to assume, you ache as a result of this despair.  We all do.  We all feel isolated, desperate, pained, wronged even, for one reason or another.  Recognize this in your fellow person; make a conscious effort to stop loving just the masses, and hating on individuals.  Each individual is part of one mass or another; we must begin to seem them all wholly, or allow our angst to destroy us from within.

The reason I bring up the "grand state of the world," is because it is only once we recognize our own pains that we can begin to see how we treat one another and why.  Once we see how we treat one another, we can fix it, and begin to love, heal.  It is only when you are a reflective, truth-seeking individual, that you can stop worrying about whether or not what you have to say is nice.  Everything you have to say will come from a place of truth and love.  That is the greatest goal we can seek. 

If you are able to reflect upon yourself daily, whether its through meditation, writing, walking, working out, or some other activity that allows you to center yourself and focus on your core, then you will grow as a human being, into a light-seeker, one who desires illumination for everyone.  There is no darkness there, there is no hate, no hostility, no angst.  It is often a hard place in which to reside, but always worth it. 

Even though I have endured a few battles, I refuse to apologize for who I am and the things I say.  Those of you who know me as an adult, know that I suffer from an almost "social tourettes syndrome," living without much of a filter, and literally having to say the things that cross my mind.  But because I seek truth and humanity, because I believe a deep sense of togetherness and honesty, I accept my truths as openly as they come.  I am a peaceful person who loves love in all of its forms.  It is only in the absence of love that things become dark for me.  I have spent years trying to understand myself, knowing it is a struggle one can never win.  We are always in a constant state of change, alteration, growth, death.  Thus we can only manage to undstand ourselves in the moment.  In this moment, I give to you this truth:
I was not happy when I was young.  I denied myself years of authenticity, and consequently others.  I managed only to obtain superficial relationships and lost more people than I care to count.  I lied, stole, fought, hurt, and destroyed moments for other people.  I live in a state of regret for that.  As an adult, I am blissfully happy, because I have been able to recognize that as long as I live in a constant state of love for my fellow person, understand that at this moment, they are fighting a battle as well, and rest in a place of residual non-judgement, I will always relay love to my fellow person.  I will have nothing of myself to hide.  I will be unable, as love shines bright as the noonday sun.  My control will be lost, and I will pour onto the earth like the rays themselves. 

Love who you are, and see your person, your battle, your despair in the eyes of those around you.  Make a conscious effort each day to think before you speak, and reflect on that which you have spoken.  Ensure you are spreading joy and offering love to everyone.  Not just to those seeking it; we are all in need of love.  Most are simply not in a place in which they are willing to ask for it. 

So when I say, face the truth, end the fight with your inhibitions, I merely mean this.  We are all battling for survival and happiness.  Do not hate one another.  Love the fact that we are all still here.  Be willing to share the truth of who you are with those around you.  If you do not, you are simply wasting time and awaiting disappointment.  Only in honesty can one be truly happy.  Share your soul in this moment, now!  There are many who have yet to even encounter their own.  You may be the light that they need to have shine on their own. 


 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ending Our Fantasies, Facing Reality

There are days I have terrifyingly morbid and habitually sadistic thoughts; other days the world is aglow.  Yes, there is likely a clearly definable clinical name for that, but that's not today's discussion.  Moving on. 

We have all heard some wondrous variation of that quote "letting go of the life you planned is the only way to enjoy the life you have."  This concept is what permeates the majority of my morbidity.  Let me talk to you for a minute about the life I planned.  Maybe not planned; I've never been one for a lot of  "planning," but expected, for sure. Let me tell you about the life I expected.

I told you that at eight years old, I clearly knew I would be a writer one day.  My family, though small and divided, ALWAYS, hammered a sense of worth and exceptionality in me.  Every one of them.  Even the ones who hated each other all seemed to agree that I was going to be something magnificent.  I was beautiful, funny, smart, kind, the world was my oyster.  Well, turns out, I'm allergic to seafood.

Some of the things I expected were: well, let's all picture a hot version of Carrie Bradshaw and a little more money.  Really, that's a pretty good summation.  The high life, writing away in NYC, with my girls on my arm, soaking up the fame, living in a high rise, doing whatever I wanted.  It wasn't going to be hard.  I just had to go.  I never expected marriage, or babies, or the domestic situation to come to me; buying a house, helping with homework, living in the suburbs.  It just didn't jive with me.  But I'm pretty sure I expected love to be in there somewhere.  So me, rich, in the city, being paid to write, loving someone I didn't "have" to be with.  That was what I expected.  The picture was beautiful.  Shoes, so many shoes.  And around 29 hours in a day.  What about that scene is so hard to accomplish?

What you don't get told amidst all of the "you're beautiful, you're smart, you're funny, you're talented," comments, is that life gets in the way of what you want, every single day of your existence.  And that life isn't a shiny ball of handouts pulled in a lottery waiting for your number to be called so you can be given everything you ever wanted.  Life is disgusting, unkind, unforgiving, bleak, morbid, torturous, unpredictable, untamable, and very often, unlivable.  But, believe it or not, a man who changed my entire perspective on everything, ever, Mr. Michael J. Fox, a man who knows about the ways that life can alter your expectations, once said, "my happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations."  We have to let go of the conceptualized life we once had, and learn to live in the life we are given.  It is the only means to attain survival, or at least, sanity. 

But, it doesn't stop there.  Letting go of childhood ideals isn't a marker for a happy life.  We, even as adults, continue to come up with elaborate voyages on which we believe our life will take us, like, every day, sometimes from minute to minute.  You don't have to admit it out loud, but, be honest with yourself.  Perfect example;  I fell completely head over heels for a married man.  Oh my god, I know, I'm a horrible human being.  It's not like I did anything about it.  It's the expectations, stay with me here.  What one of those clinically diagnosable voices in my head actually led me to believe was that if I did everything right, if I was the most aesthetically pleasing, the most intellectually stimulating, the most relatable, the most everything (I'm wearing myself out now with all of my OWN expectations!), was that I would win.  Can you imagine!!! Break down what this truly means........

I, as momentarily and internally as it may have been, attempted to manifest a divorce that was not my own!  I actually wanted that!  I mean it was a brief want, the guilt nearly killed me, but it happened.  I believed in that moment that destroying the happiness of someone else would bring it into my own life.  I was, in that moment, the most selfish person alive.  Expectations were causing me to turn myself into an entirely different person for the sake of someone else.  My logical mind would never allow for this.  We are all perfect the way we are.  If someone else doesn't recognize that, then they aren't meant to appreciate the uniqueness that is YOU. 

Expectations were causing me to miss out on the reality in which I was living.  Reality.  A whole different monster.  Not only is my reality so far off base from any expectations I had about my future, but it is also has caused me more pain than I care to admit.  I have come a long way in accepting that my life is not what I thought it would be, nor will it become.  I am a 35 year-old temp, loved by none, but a cat.  However, I do believe I have a purpose.  One thing I can say about myself with confidence is this, my strength to endure astounds even me.  My life, as you will learn, has been an almost chronological timeline of survival episodes.  One artistic tragedy after another, enough time in between to look back, piece together some reasoning, and move forward to the next.  For the most part, I have appreciated the lessons.  I feel my strength and my ability to see worth in struggle is something most people lack and I have mastered the art. 

My purpose is to struggle.  One of my favorite songs, I swear I bleed for these lyrics when it comes on, "All the Above," by Maino, repeatedly drills in the epic notion we should all embrace, "The struggle is nothing but love."  Through the struggles we face, we find love in knowing nothing can force us down permanently, tear us completely apart, or take away our ability to stand up again, face life head on, and move forward with more.  Not everyone is strong all the time.  I certainly am not.  But I am among the broad backs, willing to bear the cross and struggle through the worst in order to give my best to all of you.  I believe that because I am strong, I am given more to endure, so that I may bear the burdens some others cannot handle, and use my writing to help pass along the lessons I have learned.  My mind simply works that way.  I analyze everything and find out why my path changed its course.  Then I give the map away. 

I am pained so that you may not be.  I accept that reality.  I am slowly facing the fact that I will never be famous in NYC with 500 pair of shoes.  I accept that glamour is largely propaganda and wanting it is absurd.  And I accept that though my purpose may change, and that I sometimes may have to reign in my expectations, that I do, in fact, have a purpose, and that suffices me just enough for now.  There is beauty in pain, simply look in the face of those who survive it. 

If your life is paining you, step back and evaluate what you are currently expecting from it.  Evaluate your needs against your wants.  Try to find a purpose in what the differences are.  What are the gaps and what is the universe trying to tell you from that?  In Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox loses a child, and later finds out that his wife is having twins.  The day I read that book, I was struggling with a great loss, and couldn't understand why I had to go through this.  Fox simply says of his twins, "it is not up to me to question the balance and timing of the universe;" it's obviously much more powerful than us all.  He also said, "there's always failure.  And there's always disappointment.  And there's always loss.  But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums." 

Ending a life lived inside fantasies doesn't meant you stop chasing your dreams.  Rather, it is accepting the means to which you have access, and utilizing those to obtain the dreams instead.  "Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there is a way through it."  -Fox

Find your way through.  It is so much brighter in reality.  (p.s. buy the book; it's life-changing).








Monday, October 19, 2015

Ending the Obsessions: You Know You Have a Purpose Here, Right?

It is utterly impossible to pause the voices in my head and quiet my mind long enough to complete a thought, one, single, complete, thought.  I live a fairly simple life.  I have no children, work one job, live alone, and while I feel I have more than enough friends, I really only explore life with the one's who I find to be a dismembered piece of my soul, so I don't get out much.  And somehow, 24 hours in a day, never seems to be enough to accomplish anything worth while. 

I have shared with you all, that writing subsides in my gut, my spirit, my complete livelihood.  And that I wasted ten years of my life avoiding it. Forgetting it.  Life gets in the way, so easily.  How do we stop the voices, stop the maintenance, stop existing, and start forcing ourselves to live our purpose?  How do we even find out what our purpose is!!! With all of the chaos devouring our moments, eating alive our capacity to imagine our future, and mindfully erecting hurdles at every turn, how can we possibly get through the day without scrapes on our ego, and setbacks in our plans as we attempt, daily, to reroute our mindless drudgery through it all? 

The last thing that I will say, is that it's easy as steps a, b, and c.  Truthfully, I haven't gotten a well thought out, catch-all patchwork that frees the momentum in us all.  I have, at best, a week old, oily grasp on my own.  But the light, oh the light that it shines, is unmistakable.  Once you take hold, the pull from all of the demons in hell on their strongest day in tandem couldn't pull it from your weakest charge. 

I shared the other day that someone I love dearly, reached my dream before I did, and it hurt.  It was deserved.  But it hurt no less.   Possibly more so because I knew how much fault I had in my own failures.  Sometimes, it will take nothing less than a slap so hard in the face to awaken our spirit and get you back on track.  Sometimes, we don't have that luxury.  So the best thing I can do, is offer you the tricks I know to keep you focused, help you end the obsessiveness of everyday mediocrity and move in on your life's purpose.  It's in there.  Deep.  But I promise.

The most important piece of advice I can ever give anyone regarding anything, which also happens to apply here, is to know yourself.  How does one do this?  You would be amazed at how easy it is to lie to yourself, or even just deny the life around you the ability to process into your own consciousness.  Knowing yourself goes beyond simply, "I like horror movies but not romance," or "I'm just not a morning person."  Knowing yourself has more to do with reaction, defense vs. offense, clarity, prioritizing your thoughts, and mostly, raw, ugly, often hard to face, honesty. Are you always on the defense with the people around you?  What does this do to the relationships you have established?  Do you take time to clarify the events that have occurred throughout your day?  Do you look back on the life that has led you to here, this moment, and put the puzzle pieces together, in an attempt to clarify your exact location?  Do you confront your demons when they are stronger than your angels and question their motives?  Do you question why your angels were so weak on that day, that your demons were able to win?  Begin by answering these questions.

Know your own mind.  Examine the pieces as if they were fine Swiss interworking's of a master timepiece and no one is left to fix them if they stop working.  It is the only mind you are given.  You can honor it, or you can allow it to run amuck, building dust, slowing over time until the pieces no longer work together.  Which brings me to my next point.

Never stop learning new things.  Some of us have luck on our side in the event that we know at the top step of our lives, a mere babe, at eight years old, that we will write one day.  But the fruits of my labor browned as I walked the path life put before me instead of discovering my own.  Knowledge is the only power in this world that cannot, with the mightiest army against you, be taken from you.  And the more of it you possess, the more powerful your purpose can become.  Learn a little bit of everything.  In the end, if you liked nothing of it, you can say, at least, that you tried.

Lastly, keep your power for yourself.  So often, (I literally have to pause, gasp, ugh, and painstakingly maneuver my way around this concept), so often, I see people, men and women alike, shifting their power to another, a spouse, a child, a family member, an enabler, a drug, an obsession, a perversion, a thing, a measly thing because it occupies their mind for awhile.  Literally thinking, "oohhh, it's shiny," or "that label will make others think I'm important."  (I know, I know.  I'll catch slack for that one from those who know me because I have been a label whore in the past.  But I've changed.  I'm a quality whore now.  Deal with it).  But the power you have has been building your entire life, through the events you haven't examined, from the knowledge, you haven't let settle in, on the wings of the angels you often weaken with your intent to only exist; that power is inherently, justly, only, yours. 

I sit here, knowing how incredibly strong I can be in the face of the ugliest demons.  And then I check my phone.  No one is immune.  The world has coveted such chaos and misery at times that it occupies our entire ability to be.  Sigmund Freud, once my very own antagonistic reason for being (I acutely thought at one point my entire purpose was to disprove everything he had ever done, until his smallest book crossed my mind's eye), yes Freud, nearly sixty years ago, revealed the magical revelation that would continue to grow, as humanity continued to diminish.  "The irremediable antagonism between the demands of instinct and the restrictions of civilization" can be traced back to his earliest writings.  He noted, and I've used this quote before, because its accuracy is frightening, that "it is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement-that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life...and in making this generalization, we forget how varied we, and the world are."  Civilization and It's Discontents (get a copy immediately).

The world, let's face it, is beyond any control we will ever possess as individuals.  But our world, however, maintains only because it is controlled by us.  Embrace who you are and what purpose you are here to give to the deteriorating world.  If you make a cognizant effort to not only keep your power, but enlist it each day, your world will expose your purpose.  You may only flourish when you maintain your power, your honesty, your dignity and allow nothing to interfere with the light that is waiting to shine for you.  But your eyes must be open.  Your interworking's must be dust free.  And your wings must be strong enough to lift you off at any moment.  Always be ready for that greatness.  You will never be remembered for how many facebook "friends" you were able to get to click, "accept."  But you will never be forgotten for the purpose you drove into the hearts of the friends you embraced on the path you dug out for yourself. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ending the Violence: Know the Laws Around Abusive Relationships

In the state of Ohio, if someone receives mail at your address for three days or more, they are considered a resident of the home; therefore, they must be formally evicted through the judicial system if they refuse to move out on their own.  If you don't have a lease, you have to evict them on  your own.  Thousands of dollars.  Thousands.  If you put someone on your automotive insurance, and try to take them off later, you can't, unless, the other person gets new insurance and agrees to provide you with a copy of their new coverage.  Otherwise, you have to cancel it altogether and start over, losing any benefits you may have had during that time.  If someone threatens your life, legitimately, you have to be able to provide proof in order to get a protection order.  Proven death treats will provide you with a protection order for a maximum of five years, while other "minor" threats of violence deem only three, or less.  After such time expires, you would have to go back to court and prove a continuance to have it extended.  Additionally, the abuser has the right to appear in the courtroom to defend him/herself with you there.  This, along with a plethora of other complicated manifesto's are written into our laws; and this is without the abuser being a legal spouse.

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was enacted by the federal government.  1994!! What this did was take the jurisdiction from the state to the federal government, with some stipulations of course.  For example, if you receive a protection order, and the person moves out of state, then comes back and attacks you, it then becomes a felony case.  States still have priority and the law still stands today. If you show up at the police station in the state of Ohio with visible injuries and name the perpetrator, Ohio will press charges with or without your consent or additional information, regardless of your individual decision to do so.  That shouldn't be a problem right; why wouldn't you want to press charges?  Trust me, the situation is always more complicated than you can ever envision. 

In 2010, I entered into an abusive relationship.  Of course, I didn't know it at the time, but it didn't take long.  It lasted a total of three years.  There were generations of physical abuse in my family, and subsequently, I developed a very strong, feminist personality at a young age, knowing a man wouldn't dare put his hands on me!  WRONG!  It happened, more often that I choose to face, but the memories are there.  The legal documents are there. 

The first severe night was after a family gathering where there had been some drinking.  He wandered off; I went home.  Of course, I called various people trying to find out where he was and if he was safe.  As I am standing in my driveway, talking to his ex-girlfriend, he sneaks up over the hill and knows what I am doing, who I am talking to.  Suddenly the devil himself is standing afoot.  First, went the phone across the driveway, second, my body hurled across the driveway.  The driveway saw a lot of action that night.  Any woman who has ever been put into this situation knows two things; 1. How strong you really are 2.  How weak you really are. 

The best way I know how to make an outsider understand this concept is by what happened next.  I had gotten away, found the phone, dialed 911 and put it in my pocket so he wouldn't see it, hoping the police would hear.  He grabbed me by the neck, pushed my face down the in gravel, underneath my back tire, and was screaming things at me that I can't even remember now.  I began to scream, "you're going to kill me," and I stopped myself, remembering the phone.  I didn't want the police to think he was trying to murder me for the sake of how long he would spend in jail.  This thought actually went through my mind in the midst of all the chaos.  How is that possible?  What the hell was wrong with me? 

Turns out, nothing.  The degree of manipulation and mental abuse that occurs prior to an actual physical altercation is astounding.  And usually goes unnoticed by the victim.  S/he slowly becomes beaten down, psychologically, to the point of believing that the only identity they possess is the one given to them by their abusers.  It is their artistry, their magic, because you never see it happen, and suddenly, poof, you...are...gone.

This is when guilt settles in, protection for them finds a home in you; excuses infiltrate your vocabulary, because there is a huge void inside you, where your actual identity used to reside, and creates a new home for the abused self. 

It continues, cycles really.  But the term, "battered women's syndrome," the severe inaccuracy, bothers me tremendously.  I am a different woman than my mother; my mother is different than her mother; we were all at one point, a battered woman.  It isn't a type of woman who becomes battered, it is a type of man who batters.  But this is not the culture in which we live.  We are victim blamers, shamers, non-relators.  It's so much easier that way, isn't it?

So how did I get out?  Luck?  Timing?  Who knows.  All I know is that it happened, finally.  I was utterly dead inside.  I loved him at one point.  When he held me out of fear of losing me, when he would man-up and defend my honor in public, when we would take walks together and talk about anything and nothing for hours.  But it was rare, too rare.  He began accusing me of cheating, becoming increasingly abusive, stalked me at work, made me lose my job, become financially dependent on him, and ostracized me from everyone in my life.  It is their way.  It is how you get stuck.  But, I had a friend, who, in a space completely devoid of darkness or negativity, believed in me and my worth.  Day by day, my friend continued to build that belief in myself and honor me.  The genuine desire to see someone smile is one of the most potent acts a human being can bestow upon another.       

It was enough to ground me again in my own making.  Next time he left, I packed everything of his, changed the locks and went to begin the restraining order.   The next few months, I lived in fear; but the point is, I lived. 

The restraining order took nearly four weeks to take effect, and in the past two and a half years that it has been legal, I have overlooked multiple opportunities to use it.  Why?  One reason is because it takes time to regain your strength, and I still live inside a little bit of fear, looking over my shoulder, twinge when I think I see him, hide even.  But the second reason, the one I find more important, is because the strength I have gained from this experience, is not one I'm giving up easily.  I have looked him in the face, dared him to tempt me, and walked away.  I have rebuilt my entire life, from each corner, establishing a new center of existence for myself, and that center is stronger than ever.

Know the laws in your state around domestic violence, but more importantly, know yourself, your strengths, your friends, your weaknesses, and most significant, know the signs of one who may be enduring violence against their person.  I stand now, regretting nothing.  Though I wish I could have learned such lessons in a different way, I am quite reassured my purpose has grown, my awareness is heightened, and my empathy has been exaggerated beyond compare. 

If it is necessary, take the hand of a friend you love and ask them to tell them something good about yourself each day.  If it isn't necessary, then take the hand of a friend whom you love, and tell them something magical about them, every day.  Saving someone's life is often as simple as loving them, and them knowing your love is real. 

If you or someone you know is being victimized, contact your local shelter for help, or reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.  It's okay if you are living in a place of shame and cannot yet reach out to a friend.  Other resources have been created to accommodate every battered person's current situation.  Know that you are not alone.  And know that you are not beyond help.  You are worthy of love, and what you are experiencing is the farthest thing from it.  Muster up the strength that you can, I promise you it's deep inside; survival, that thing you do every day, takes the most strength of any act one can perform, and tell yourself you will make it, every day, until it happens for you.  And if you have begun to see the signs, don't risk finding out if they're all in you're head, or if they're real.  Love yourself now, in this moment, and leave.  Never let another person take away your honor, your identity, or your sense of worth.  Even death cannot take away our purpose, for we move on as infinitely as time, and as we live, we are to do so as equals.  No exceptions. 














Friday, October 16, 2015

Who Says You Can't Go Home Again: The End of the Comfort Zone

The first time I moved away from home, it happened so fast I can't even tell you how we pulled it off.  The university called, that I ultimately received my BA from, and said, "Tiffany, we have a spot for you, are you coming, school starts in less than two weeks and we haven't heard from you?"  I had just had my heartbroken, didn't look for my grandmother to even ask, and simply replied a resounding, "yes, ill be there."  Turns out, my family was so excited, I had nothing to fear.  I was 19, I think they were ready for me to go!

My aunt and uncle came from the next city over and began taking a strict inventory over everything I had, everything I could take, and everything I needed.  Thank god because I would have just packed some clothes, shoes, and toiletries and been on my way.  Towels?  Food?  Entertainment?  Who woulda thought! Had I taken the, at the time, Carrie Bradshaw replica-closet I had, my shoes alone would not have fit into that tiny little room they gave me, of which I only got to occupy half! 

But I digress.  After four years in the dorms, and two years in a small apartment while attempting graduate school, I came home.  And while there was comfort, familiarity, there was also contentment, laziness.  Such an anti-intellectual cesspool of nothingness that I felt my brain rotting almost when I crossed the county line.  For the next nine years, my brain continued onto a path of utter lethargy, settling for less and less stimuli, until the point of pure life maintenance.  I got up, I worked, I came home, I slept.  I paid bills in between, found a man here and there, went shopping with the girls, but I was simply maintaining my life.  And not very well I might add.  I gained weight.  I felt horrible.  I had no promising objectives and rarely did I ever think of obtaining any.  This was it right?  This was life?

When I was eight years old, I was sitting on the top step of our house, which, subsequently, was the first step in my room.  I had a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other, and I wrote.  I always had.  But that day, I remember the thought as it drove its way through my mind on its very own course, "I am going to be a writer one day."  From my subconscious it emerged, potentially from somewhere else depending on what you believe.  But I knew it all my life as well as I knew my own name.  It was who I was, no matter where I was, or when it was.  Every day, I analyzed life as a researcher breaking down what I could and could not use, observing others in ways most people didn't realize, keeping mental notes.  To describe to you the way I have trained my mind to remember everything I can, would be an impossibility.  It is just who I am, an exercise I enjoy.  And someone wanted me to know it that day.

What happened though, when I came home again, was that it vanished.  Maybe not vanished, but got derailed, buried, deprioritized under the weight of bills, jobs, boyfriends, deaths, mania, depression, moving more, volunteering, living, OMG IT'S TOO F-ING HARD sometimes.  My writing went stagnant.  Ten years passed since I had written anything significant.  Ten years went past since I had tried.  But, life has an interesting way of intervening.  I took a year off from life. All the extras anyway, no men, a few vacas, time for myself, a sabbatical if you will.  Year ten.  I knew I was lost.  Unloved.  Totally alone.  Without a clearly identifiable purpose.  Year ten. 

A former colleague of mine announced that she was getting published, in a real book, about a real author we all know.  In that moment it was as if my entire being split right in half, straight down the middle; but both of me were crying the hardest cry I'd ever managed.  One half was experiencing the absolute greatest joy and satisfaction I had ever known for another human being.  Indescribable from one end to the other.  Ecstasy.  The other half, began to mourn the ten years I lost while I worked as a maintenance woman on my so called life.

That day, that break, was everything I ever needed to go home again.  Sitting at that top step, telling myself I am a writer, I have a purpose, I am here for some good; so I managed to pull a warm blanket over the now missing half of me and took comfort in rediscovering my home, as it had been there deep inside myself this whole time.  A little tacky, I am aware.    

But truthfully, in the end, what we have is our soul, our own make-up, who we are inside.  Get to know that person as deeply and truly as you can.  Honor them every single day.  In the years I've spent on this planet, my only amazement that I experience comes from the way everything changes, continually, and without warning.  All I have ever truly had is me.  And when I let her wander off, I lost sight of her and never went looking.  Someone else brought her back.  We're not all that lucky.  Sometimes lost stays lost.  But sometimes, you're so uniquely you, that someone else will recognize you and return you home.  You can always go home again, because home merely rests inside of you. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Queens vs. Princesses: Ending the Cinderella Complex

The "Cinderella Complex" was a theory defining women as having a fear of independence, an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others.  Though we have begun to get away from it, somewhat, the ever famous complex has defined much of the path women have taken for decades; that is, in a subservient seat, following directions, to wherever they are directed to go.

The Complex itself originated from studies done on infant children from immediate childbirth, both males and females, and the attempt to establish a pattern of behavior on the differences in gendered dependence, or independence.  Men, as adults, are considered independent, self-reliant, self-made.  Women, as adults, are considered insecure, dependent, and defined by others.  So why the difference? We all start from the same helpless creatures, fully dependent on another's nurturing.

Studies quickly recognized a key difference; male children are often left to sleep in their own rooms, by themselves, from birth, or shortly after.  Female children are typically in the same room, if not the same bed, with parents, for an extensive period of time.  Additionally, when children cry out, males are usually left to "cry it out" alone, and move on independently.  Female children are picked up quickly, coddled, consoled, protected.  And this continues through childhood.  Here we see princess stereotypes begin to manifest in young girls.

I've known a number of females idealizing the princess lifestyle.  I have never been one of these women.  To be maintained, to be wanted because of a look you were given as a birth rite, something you don't control? Don't we condemn this when its used against someone? "You're black therefore you cannot eat here," versus "you're beautiful, I'll take care of you for life,"? Neither have control over the subjective attributes.  It makes little sense to me.

But, then again, before I could talk, I was deemed "Queenie."  And it has never left me.  And I take pride in that.  The world no longer loves me.  Maybe it never did.  Sometimes I reciprocate.  Being lost in this place is murderous on the spirit, though often, I believe this too, is an illusion.  I will never be one of those women reveered for her beauty; I've likely never been loved by a man who has laid with me; no one takes my hand and tells me what comes next, or how to handle life.  This has all come with the crown.

Let us consider for a moment the differences between being a Queen, or merely a princess:
Princess:  a subservient position, cared for by those stronger and more apt than she; allowed to contribute little substance to her society; usually placed on display for physical traits, decorated attributes.
Queen:  one who rules the masses, demands respect, creates and maintains order and diminishes chaos; is reveered for her intellect, power; chooses the course of her life and helps direct the lives of those who revere her; creates the other path on which we walk.

I was deemed a Queen before I could talk. And it has never left me.  Nor will I allow it.  For my sisters raised under the umbrella of the Cinderella complex, let us end the dependency and visualize our own greatness.  Straighten out your tiara, walk off the display platform, and begin to rule your life.  Demand respect, establish your order, enact your power, and be reveered.  You can be a Queen too.  Walk away from Cinderella and create your truly noble path.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We're All Monsters Here: Sympathy for Suicide

Ever meet someone and think, this is all I need?  Ever get that perfect job and think, I'll finally have happiness now?  Ever sit back and look around, even think out loud, my life is perfect now?  And then, something, one thing, the right thing, changes.

When I was young, I was never the one to say, life is easy, life is a breeze, don't take things too seriously.  I have always been the one to point you toward the dark, the depraved, the consequence, the frightening reality that this could indeed, just be the way life is.  Some was nature, some was nurture.  I grew up in poverty, Midwestern poverty, where just enough money remained in the area to put on display what exactly you didn't have.  My first exposure to drugs, ones I tried myself, happened when I was eleven; before my first kiss.  My first drink, two years before that.  Of course, sexual activity came soon after, then grades declined, violence became evident, friends parted ways.  It was teenage years during the 80s and 90s.  It just was.

But depression as a teenager, I mean, how clique.  I was never suicidal.  Sure, I begged for sleep to take me over and never let me go.  Who hasn't had a day or two that took you to that point?  But depression as an adult, that's an entirely different drama.  It's a choice; life continues, or it doesn't.  When you endure depression, real depression, that move to make sure life continues doesn't happen without a little bit of melodrama.  As you go through the motions, the waking, showering, going to work, working, driving, making dinner, watching television, getting ready for bed, planning for tomorrow, you are fought every step of the way.

I've often heard people say suicide is the chicken way out.  There's some bittersweet thankfulness in this sentiment.  It means they have no concept of how it feels to be pushed to the point of staring that choice in the eye, not knowing, this time, if the answer is A or B today.  It's not a choice I would wish on anyone.  Suicide isn't about "getting out of" anything.  It isn't about hiding from life, or deciding you have to run away from it all.  Suicide, for those of you whom are lucky enough to be so unaware of the depth, the ache, the fraught over the choice of it all, is about one thing: you are being buried alive every moment by a mass of dirt being thrown atop of you from this life as long as it continues, and nothing you can do, or have ever done, will stop it from taking you under.  Nothing at all.  You're always five and a half feet down, looking up at someone with a shovel.  When you're staring that choice in the eye, wondering if it's A or B, the only reflection you can see is your grave marker on the backside of the shovel, and the choice is if it is today, or another.

And so today, you choose to go on, one more time.  On the day I lost the man I loved, I began going through the very stereotypical phases of grief.  I look at his picture every single day.  I wonder if he wants me there with him.  Sometimes it possesses me from nowhere and I break; driving down the road, sitting at work, showering.  I never see it coming.  And I take my moment to mourn him, and I move on.  But that death left its charred, black mark on my spirit and its presence never fully disappears from my mind's eye.  I feel it every second.  I hurt all the time.  I seek the comfort of his tomb.  The monsters here, are all human.

When you are suicidal, you only want to stop the hurt.  There is no other variable.  You don't consider the work you may have left to do in this world; you don't consider the pain you will be causing others; you don't consider that anything could ever change your life.  But it can.  I made my choice. I will not be this continual ache in the chest of another human being.  I regret nothing of loving that man. But I cannot conceive of the notion that I cause someone else so much pain.  Love, true love, is worth everything in the world.  But death of a loved one will stop your life in a moment's notice.  Some days I walk around like a zombie, and nothing I do is terribly significant.  Other days I'm mildly functional, but every day I hurt for him, and every day, I have to move on.  I "Cont;nue".  Suicide isn't for the weak at all.  It's for those who are strong enough to end their pain in spite of losing everything they love in the process.  Suicide, I understand you, but I will not give you what you want.  Not today.  I will not be this torture device pounding in the cavity of another lost spirit.  Today, you lose.

If you are not aware of the signs or symptoms of a suicidal person, take a moment and save a life.  Look up "Project Semicolon;" or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org.  Be there for someone; help them make their choice for today.



Monday, October 12, 2015

When to End "Just Sex"

When is "just sex", just enough, or is ending it a must?

In 2015, there is a mass of people who continue to romanticize the institution of marriage and believe that "love" has the mystical powers they need to complete the purpose for their lives.  Of course, this is a predominantly Western notion.  All around the world, this marker in life is part of an innate caste system ingrained in cultures which possess one another, trade for one another, pay for one another.  And not in the Western sense of traditional prostitution.

These cultures provide women with a limited number of options.  Marry, usually as part of some sort of preplanned familial bartering; defiance, leading to what we know as traditional prostitution, which comes with a whole array of violent benefits, up to, and including death; spinsterhood, ahh, the assumed lesbian, my personal favorite, a woman who has shown enough smarts to both gain an education and know to use it only in women's work and keep herself quiet; and the lucky ones, those birthed to progressive fathers allowing their daughters to gain a non-traditional education that they may use, though they are still expected to marry.

Now, why did I feel the need to point any of this out? Because SEX HAS NEVER BEEN AN OPTION FOR WOMEN!!!  An expectation, an act of violence, a source of intimidation and control, but never something a woman would choose as a source of pleasure that would fit into her lifestyle.  Oh it is exciting times in which we live!

So what has changed?  For the past 30-40+ years, women have fought hard to make this very idea a reality.  Women have always been fighting for something, but the sexual revolution is close to our generation's heart more than any other.  Based on the unrest of women who fought and worked in men's work during the war, women created an independent reality for us, that we may be our own person!  One who is depending solely upon ourselves. We no longer had to have fathers pay another family to take us off his hands in order to breed heirs for their business partner.  We no longer had to prostitute ourselves if we chose a life without a traditional family.  We no longer had to be assumed closeted lesbians because we chose to work! (Though I can assure you, with witnesses, this still happens)!

And sex fits into this where?  Basically, the concepts of traditional Western relationships we have grown to know and follow, no longer have a place in our neo-progressive society.  Women work full time.  Women work full time and pay their own bills.  Women work full time, pay their own bills and raise children.  Women work full time, pay their own bills, raise children, and have lives outside of the home, (essentially they're called hobbies and men have had them from the dawn of time)! But, at the end of the day (sometimes) it is hard to deny that a connection, an intimate connection, to another person, is something we often want.

Then if we take traditionalism off the table, what do we require of one another?  Respect?  Always.  Honesty?  Was that a real question?  Integrity?  There it is...this is where the water muddies and people start losing their grasp on a successful sexual arrangement.  If you have chosen to have a non-traditional arrangement with someone, integrity is of the utmost importance.  A sexual relationship assumes the notion that deeply personal aspects of our lives are offlimits.  We don't talk past.  We don't talk numbers.  We don't talk money.  And we don't ask, "where were you last night."  But, for the sake of integrity (FYI, Google has a free dictionary service for those of you struggling with this particular term), Honor, with a capital H, your sexual counterpart with a sense of purity, oneness, awe, and even magic.  Don't be dishonest.  If it isn't magical on some level, then bail.  If you are not in awe of something about her, then peace out.  If, when you two are together, you are not in the moment, your mind is somewhere else, you can't devote yourself to her solely, then, well, you found your way in, you can find your way out.  And most importantly, if you cannot purely, honestly, openly, respectfully, ONLY arrange yourself sexually for her, then get your condom on and go knock on the door of the side chick for whom you can.  It's that simple.

You don't have to say, I won't find someone else one day.  You don't have to stop looking.  This isn't a protest for commitment.  This is a declaration, a demand, for respecting a woman down to the choices to which you are subjecting her physical, living body.  These are life and death choices in 2015.  We all know that.  Make them count.

Having declared my personal affinity for the non traditional, let me say that I understand the names you call me in your head.  Hell I've been called them to my face.  But I speak my beliefs and I know my truths.  I've been called a bitch, man-hater, closeted lesbian, and heaven forbid a feminist.  I take no offense.  Sex can be fantastic.  And people are immensely busy.  Depriving oneself of something pleasantly natural becomes an absurdity.

It's just not that hard to manage.  If you listen with an open mind, you will see my truths as well.  Be aware of what you want.  Ask for it.  Find a dynamic that works for you.  Pay attention to the ways the world tries to maintain its balance of power in the favor of others.  But above all else, and this is the easy part, Never, in marriage, dating, prostitution, lesbianism, feminism, nontraditional sexual arrangements, Ever, Ever, allow yourself to be disrespected, dishonored, or the subject of a lack of integrity on the part of another person.

As I finalize my thoughts today, the utterly fantastic remake by Grace, "You Don't Own Me," plays over my earbuds.  How quaint.  We are no longer our fathers' currency.  We are whomever we wish to become, on whatever day of the week.  And yes, this is largely geared toward women, because, well I am a woman, and men have only been subjected to similar relationship inequalities on the minority front.  Regardless, the concept is equal for everyone.  Be honest and open about what you want, respect the person you are establishing a connection with, and provide integrity during the course of your arrangement.  If not, then, peace out.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Letting Go: When Friendship Breaks Your Heart

At what point do you take it upon yourself and end a friendship?  For what reasons?  Or is there ever a good enough reason?  I say, absolutely.  I've ended many.  For many reasons.  And each and every one of them has, at the time, felt like the one thing from which I would never recover. 

But I did.

My longest friendship to date, has lasted me 30 years.  We argue like cats and dogs.  We go months, and months, without seeing one another.  We live in different cities.   We lead different lives.  But we love one another, unconditionally.  That's the only necessity.  Unconditional acceptance, which comes from unconditional love. 

When I turned 15, I met, who I assumed would eternally be, the best girl friend I ever had.  We "knew" each other, deeply, and early on.  We understood all of one another, with little reason to.  It was a soul mate kinda thing.  And I loved her every minute because she was a miracle to me.  She put me through hell sometimes, but she gave me some of the best moments of my life as well.  Finding someone who makes you feel as though you are actually connected somehow to another part of the universe, is nothing short of a miracle. 

Over time, our priorities began to change, and we took different paths.  We went a few years without talking, during which time she named one of her children after me.  To think, we hadn't spoken in years, and I was still in her heart that much.  As she was in mine.  So one day I showed up at her door.  Nothing bad ever happened.  It all went away in that moment.  And so we continued on. 

To try and explain to you what exactly went wrong, would be impossible, because to this day, I have no real concept of it all.  What I do know; when you must beg someone to come over, it's time to let go; when you must surprise visit to catch them in their home, because you know it's the only way you will get time with them, it's time to let go; when you feel the exact same way toward them as you did in the beginning and every day in between, but you can't get them to answer the phone, it's time to let go. 

So I told her, straight as I could, you have one more chance.  Apparently she didn't believe me.  Our social media connection was the first to go.  When it takes someone three months to realize that, it's time to let go. 

What transpired after she realized it, I will spare you.  However, she was part of my soul.  And I suppose she will be until I die.  Some days, I literally ache inside my gut for one of our ridiculous conversations about nothing that we both understand entirely on the exact same level.  Some days I see clear as thin glass the anxiety that I evade now that I don't worry if she loves me the same.  If on any level, your friendship causes you anxiety, and you try and address it, to no avail, it's time to let go.

Small town endings are hard on a level big city endings can't relate to.  I fear running into her and what will happen.  I break down and message her and tell her I am thinking of her.  I write blogs to try and get out some of the cathartic necessities that still weigh me down.  But, I trust me. 

The way to survive any ending you face, friendships, love, jobs, etc., is trusting yourself.  I know what hurt the friendship had caused me.  I know it is my responsibility to take care of myself.  I once read that a soul mate isn't someone who you love and spend your life with; rather, someone who reflects to you an internal image of yourself, showing you what you are lacking, where you are depraved.  It is your choice to capitalize on that relationship to learn to fill the voids, brighten the depravity, or dwell inside of them.  She showed me voids.  I showed her as well.  She dwelled in them, and I believe, at some point, began to blame me for them.  I chose to capitalize on my reflection, use my newly vacated time without her to work on their sustenance, and making myself a higher quality person. 

Nineteen years I loved her like a part of my own soul.  Nineteen more I will mourn our separation.  I will miss her always; but I analyzed that reflection of what she gave to me, and I made the best of it for my future  Go onward with those who make your lives better.  Not everyone is meant to stay in your life always; many are here to direct you down the road less traveled, the road you would not have taken, had they not taken your hand while going around the turn.   If they let go of it after you make the turn, it's time to let go, of them this time. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Facing the End: Manic Mortality

At age ten, my 16-year old uncle died.  One year later, it was my grandfather.  Soon after, great-grandfather, then great-grandmother, and on and on  You get the idea  At 19, my best girl friend, murdered; my best guy friend's dad, cardiac arrest; my 94-year old Alzheimer Aunt, well, being 94 I suppose, all within 30 days of each other.  Since then, aunt's, cousins, friends, falling by the wayside as if it were inevitable or something.  Yet, the impact on me, was minimal at best.  Then, of course, it gets to be my turn.  No, I didn't die.  But I did get a clinical death sentence.  I was crushed.  I was special, right?  Turns out, what I am, is na├»ve, a little self-centered, and overly dramatic. 

Scleroderma.  I wasn't even sure how to pronounce it.  But there it was.  The doctors never said I would die.  All the books sure did though.  So I spent about two years mourning my own mortality.  Two years! And almost nine years later, here I sit.  Healthier than I was then.  I still have the disease; that will never change.  But last year, a man I used to love, still love, died.  The disease, the aunts, cousins, friends, were all a blur.  A man I love, died.  A man I shared a bed with, died.  A man, who days before, told me he loved me, he was proud of me, he missed me, he wanted to be the man who fixed all the wrongs in my life, died.  He managed to do the exact opposite of what he intended in a day.  And it's been the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

Every day since has been random outbursts of stomach pains, steaming tears, suicidal moments, thoughts of laying on his grave until my body sinks into the ground and I am with him again.  Death is hard.  Loss of love is hard.  And it makes me wonder why we bother.  What is it that drives us all to continue forward, seeking out new ways to hurt each other, unintentionally of course.  We lose every day of our lives.  We lose time, youth, experience, jobs, opportunity, friends, answers, risks, pets, family, sanity, and so much more.  So what drives us to stay here, in this life, every day, knowing today may even be worse than yesterday? 

Anyone who has ever had a glimpse of love, unconditional, authentic love, knows that answer already.  This blog isn't morbid, though it will focus on some difficult topics.  But my ultimate goal is to share with all of you, every loss I've endured, a vast plethora of deterioration and disease, and answer the question, why do I keep going.  We "face the end" of something each day.  I want to talk about how we handle that.

If you have topic suggestions you would like me to explore, please feel free to ask.  I haven't had a plentiful life  But I've had quite a manic one.  I told someone today, I am not one of those people who were put on this earth to flourish, to have a great life; I was put on this earth to demonstrate to others that even when life is shitty and destructive, one can still manage to live it with a little dignity, a little grace, and even be kind to others in between.  I hope you join me in learning some of the ways I've survived.  And by the way, the topics I've mentioned, merely scratch the surface.  No one in my life knows it all.  But its time to share, to face the end of everything, together.