Faith

I’m not sure I really know how to have faith anymore. I live in the black and white world of facts. In the realm of the tangible. Where I know something. I don’t feel it. Faith was always feeling for me. It was the grey between the black and white. The mere idea of faith shakes my core, because it’s about not knowing, it’s about believing. Feeling it in your heart that things will okay, and that you will endure. Not planning and plotting how you will survive. 

Faith was more about being. Just the simple idea of BE. Not plotting, scheming, planning or thinking. It’s about turning your brain off and just feeling. Being. The simplicity of it seems almost stupid to a point. Not the concept of believing but the concept of being seems so stupidly simple to me, that you should just be able to do it without even thinking. …. Right? 

The funny thing is, it’s not that simple. Maybe the idea of it is, but the actuality of it, is that it’s more complex then that. Because you’re not fighting and surviving. You surrender yourself to something bigger than yourself. Facts are isolating. Thinking can be isolating as well. But believing? Having faith is so much bigger, and so much more complex then that. Because of that surrender, you aren’t giving yourself up. You aren’t auctioning off sections of yourself to something else. You are giving yourself whole, as you are. Broken, unbent, unbowed. That beautiful mess that all humans are. We give that to an idea or a belief that is so much grander than we are. Faith can be something that helps us even more than just survival. Faith is something that gives us hope on those hopeless nights. It can light our fires and allow us to keep fighting even when it seems like our battles will beat us. 

I had faith as a kid. I could surrender myself to something external. I could believe. I had the capacity for it. Maybe I wasn’t that stubborn then. (I’ve always been stubborn, but less so.) Maybe it’s the flexibility we naturally have as children. That the world hasn’t beaten our imaginations out of us, and we are still able to look at the world with wide hopeful eyes. We aren’t bogged down by fears and insecurities. We are able to imagine great and utterly captivating worlds where we can spend hours in. We don’t get tired as easily, and we aren’t afraid. We are fearless, powerful creatures as children. Maybe that’s what fuels faith. Being fearless. Being okay with the idea of throwing our hearts and minds into something that we have no idea how it will turn out. We aren’t so careful with our hearts. We fall, and we learn the ground is hard because of it. We learn lessons, because we try. We don’t have to plan out everything so carefully that we take away the magic of it. Maybe faith is just magic, and as we grow, we get it beaten into our heads that magic is nothing more than stuff of legends. 

Do we have our freedom taken from us? To try to fit into this box that so many of us don’t really truly belong in? That maybe that stupid cookie cutter box is nothing more than an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes and to blind us from the truth that faith is what keeps humanity going. That being stupid and fearless and free is what keeps our species surviving. 

Creativity requires a massive amount of faith. Often we do it for no recognition, no monetary reward. We do it, because there is some part of us that has to do it. We crave it. We need to exorcise that part of us, that it helps us understand our place in this massive universe. On our little blue marble of a planet, we are so small and so big, it’s a mind-blowing concept. That we are special, and we aren’t at the same time.  Is that why we created religion to help us deal with the comprehension of this concept? That maybe if we were purposely created by something bigger than us, then we are special. I’m not a theologian, and I don’t really understand enough about religions to argue why they were created and why they are practiced so widely, but faith is something that feeds into it. That you need to have faith in order to be religious, spiritual or even a non-practicing secular, or a non-believer. Even the most militant atheist needs to have faith that nothing exists. We have to have faith in something. Whether we believe in a God, a Pantheon of Gods or none of the above. It all comes from the same core. We need to have something to put there. 

The dictionary has a definition of Faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” So whether it’s God, it’s the President, it’s your Mom or it’s YOU. There is faith. Faith stems from trust. From an unwavering devotion that this person or this idea or this thing will not let me down. I think that’s why when our faith is shattered, it’s hard for us to believe again. That once our trust is broken, it’s difficult to let people in. Especially when it’s someone who you had complete faith in. A parent, a spouse, the universe, God, Shiva, Who or Whatever, when that is tested, and shaken, it doesn’t just rock our boats, we feel the rumble of that earthquake to the core of our being. That when something happens, sometimes we can shake it off, and move on. Sometimes we get stuck in the aftermath of the earthquake. That we try to clean up the rubble, but we feel the after math for months, years or even until the day we take our last breath. We can take the broken faith to the grave with us.  

Sometimes we fix our faith. We clean up the rubble, and we patch it up. We build stronger cores, and we are able to be a little more picky with where we place our faith. We are able to forgive, but we don’t forget. You don’t forget an earthquake like that. It’s all so dependent on the person and what they feel capable of doing. I feel cowardly sometimes, because I still like feel the quakes, I like rummaging through the rubble and seeing the aftermath. I enjoy feeling the aftermath of my broken faith. It’s definitely not healthy. And I think it’s very seductive to want to keep poking the bruise, even after it’s healed. Because you learn through broken faith, that your brain somehow makes a new connection of this is what I deserve. And it’s not. It’s not what anyone truly deserves. No one should have their cores shaken and their hearts broken, but we don’t always live in a fair world. I think fair and deserve are tricky words and tricky concepts. Because people will often say that you should treat people fairly, and yeah at a base level, it makes sense. But no two people are truly alike. I’m not the same as anyone else, and I shouldn’t be treated and given the exact same things as other people. Because it’s not what I need. It’s not how I can have faith. I can’t rebuild myself with parts for a broken sink, when I have a broken car. The gesture is nice, but it’s not what’s needed. 

I can’t pretend to be someone else. It doesn’t do any good for anyone, especially myself. It’s very easy to group yourself in with other people. Maybe for a fear of standing out, and people seeing you for what you really are. I can’t pretend to have faith in A, when I have faith in B. It’s not fair and and it’s not what I deserve. See it’s still tricky. Because so many of us will go through life and maybe deny ourselves some of those things that are fair to us, and maybe things we deserve, and we sacrifice a part of ourselves for it. Yes, there are comprises and sacrifices that need to be made as you go through life, but there are some things that really should never fall into that comprise category. I can’t tell anyone what they should do with their life and what choices they should make. I can really only worry about myself. I find this a difficult thing to do. 

Especially when I don’t have faith in myself. I don’t trust myself to do what I have do to. I don’t trust myself to have the strength I need, to stand up for myself when I have to, and to pick my battles wisely.  I don’t have faith that I will ever be happy, or even content. I don’t have faith that I will figure anything out. This is something I need to confront and I need to find the strength to have that faith. Even if I have to fake it til I make it. I have to learn how to surrender myself to something bigger than myself. It’s not backing down and it’s not giving it. It’s not falling down. It’s re-learning that flexibility from childhood. Learning that imagination isn’t bad, and believing in magic is not silly. It’s having faith that the universe is gonna help hold you up, and take care of you, even when you can’t take care of yourself. It’s believing that your words are worthy of being heard, and your voice is worth more than you could ever imagine. Have a little bit of faith in yourself, or whatever you need to get through life. Believe that your hand will be held and your back is protected. That your battles will not overtake you, and that you are worth having faith in.

Ghosts

 

I started wondering about ghosts. Like one of those beings that you can’t ever really see but you can hear from time to time on those Friday night reality shows I watch on Travel Channel. They never show enough to truly get you to become a believer, but it’s always enough to keep you wanting to tune in the next week. I did a ghost hunt in Chicago once. A few voices, which when it sounds like they say your name sends chills up your spine. We had some responses to our questions, and I experienced this very light touch on the back of my neck that would turn it’s self into frozen chills that would run throughout my body. It was definitely an experience you can tell people about, but you can never fully explain. It didn’t feel terrifying, those cold chills, they almost felt comforting. Like they were familiar to me. The names we got that night were ‘Arvid’ and ‘Rozella’ and they had been reunited just recently. If I am to take it at face value that would be the names of my paternal grandparents who had both passed away in the last few years. My grandma just  January of 2013. I was asked to write something for the funeral, and I ended up writing something for both my grandparents. All those things you wanted to say when they were still there, but of course you don’t realize how much they mean to you, or how much you loved each other until they are gone. That was always one of the sadder and honestly, really quite shitty, realities of life. That you never fully realize how much something or someone means to you until it’s gone. Maybe it’s something we’re conditioned to do. It doesn’t mean we’re not grateful for them or that we don’t love them, but most of the time we don’t fully recognize that until it’s no longer there. We don’t tell people how much they mean to us while we can. I know I’ve done it while sitting and talking to their headstone, hoping that somehow they can hear me. Like the Ghost of their former selves is still wandering around and will just happen to hear you purging out everything you kept locked away so tightly in your heart out.

 

My Grandparents had both become ghosts when they were alive. My grandpa had pancreatic cancer, and managed to survive with it for almost a year. He was 89 when he was diagnosed. We watched it start to consume him, and see his transformation to a physical shell of the man he once was. Mentally, he never left. He knew what he was facing, and the mountain he was about to ascend. He knew he was facing the end, and did his best to keep his dignity intact. I never heard him complain about it, but he never did openly talk about his experiences with it. He did his best to keep himself the same as had been before. I think he spent more time focused on my grandma. She had been dealing with significant losses of memory for almost 20 years at that point. She was beginning to lose her grasp on reality. My grandpa did not, which I am still not sure if that made it more difficult to deal with him dying. The fact that he knew exactly what was happening and what was to come. I can’t help but wonder if he could feel the Grim Reaper standing behind him throughout this time, and true to who he was he fought it off. He was a pillar of strength, he fought his way through wars, through life, and through this. He fought off death for as long as he could have. I do remember him saying that he was ready to go, that he had “a hell of a life.” Selfishly, I never wanted him to go, but if he was ready to go, then you can’t stop it. You can never stop it. The last time I ever saw him, was the only time I ever heard him utter a complaint. He was a pain medication, and was strolling somewhere between sleep and wake. He muttered, “I hurt” under his breath. I sat with him, and held his hand for a while, and then got up and told him I loved him. I can still vividly see him in that hospital bed, and I will cry almost instantly at that memory. It stirs up at that pain that lays dormant.

 

My grandma had been a slightly different case. She had Alzheimer’s . Sometimes she had great days, and other times she had crap days. The last 10 years were mostly a black hole in her mind. That black hole was starting to slowly consume everything. She probably had no idea that my grandpa, whom she spent 73 years of her life with, was gone. No one will ever know for sure. The amazing thing was that if you prodded her enough, it would almost wake up dormant memories. She would tell me about living in Japan while my grandpa was stationed there during The Korean War, and how much she loved it. She could recall these details that most people would probably have forgotten in the decades since, but she remembered. Her face would light up, and she would become so animated, you just knew that it was probably the most exciting time in her life. She would talk about her kids, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you knew she loved them. She loved her family, and took pride in it. She was a little woman, just over five foot, but what she lacked in height and size, she made up for in personality. She was fearless, spunky and honest. If you did something she didn’t like, she would have no qualms about telling you exactly how she felt. She was ballsy. I admire her for that. I admire both my grandparents for that. They were honest, and genuine. They were not perfect and wouldn’t even pretend to be. They never let their issues run their lives, they dealt with them most of the time. Their love was endless and completely unconditional. You didn’t have to do anything but exist and be blood to earn it. In my years of teenage angst, I wish I had realized those things. I like to think it would have helped to know that, but of course you never realize it until after the fact. My ghost got in the way of it.

 

These honest, and endlessly loving people are just memories and feelings now. They are ghosts that follow me around, and I’m perfectly okay with it. At their cores, these are people and values I want to emulate in my own life. The love they had not just for their family but for each other, truly tested the vows they took. For richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. They took those vows and meant them until they day they died. That’s what I find myself secretly wanting. I can’t bring myself to tell people that’s what I want. You want someone who will have your back and you their’s, even when you fight and want to punch each other in the face, even when you’re both nervous and sad and over-thinking everything, even in those moments of pure happiness. To accept you for who you are, and to utterly, completely, unadulteratedly and unconditionally love you until you both take your last breath.

 

That’s another ghost I have lingering behind me. I seem to have grown quite a collection of these. There is one that is bigger than the others though. My father. I’m just really beginning to see how things really were with him. He was a ghost throughout my life. Looking back at moments in my life, he was just a figure in the background. He was never a major part of it. I think the part that hurts with that is not that he was pushed out of my life, but that he chose to never fully walk into it. He’s an alcoholic, always has been and will most likely always be one. That was his true love, the bottle. Not his family growing up, not the career he had chosen or the wife he took, or the children they had. It was alcohol. I can’t honestly say that I believe he’s just an addict, and that it’s all a disease. Maybe it is, and maybe I’m just too hurt, angry and sad to say that it is. But in my heart, I can’t give him that out. I want him to be held responsible for what he’s done, and how much he’s hurt others. I found myself just wishing for years for an apology, even a completely insincere one. I just wanted those words out of his mouth. I thought that if I heard those then I could delude myself into thinking he took responsibility for it. He never did, and he never will. I never could fully understand how his parents could be one way, and he could end up being so different. So withdrawn from us, and so detached in his own world. I still don’t understand how he would willingly have a family and not care. This past summer was the breaking point for me. For whatever reason, I had felt that I tried to reach him on his level, and compromised maybe we could have some semblance of a relationship. I told myself that it’s better to try with the one father I get than to just completely shut him out. Honestly for a while, it was good. But I never got a father, and I never got to know who he was. Who he truly was died long before I was ever born. It died when he took his first drink. I don’t even know if the alcoholism is his ghost. It’s too present for him to just be able to sweep it away. This summer he turned from a ghost to a demon, ever present in my face. We fought, I got in his face and didn’t back down. I saw things and sides of him that I never wanted to. He threatened me, and regardless of what the threat was, a father should never do that to his own child. I haven’t spoken to him since. Now I’m left with the ghost of him. Trying to figure out how I can reconcile those feelings I have, what I can learn from it, and how I can let go.

 

I started writing this the fall of 2013, and thought it was done. Today (the 15th) would have been my grandma’s 95th birthday and all I can think of is her and my grandpa. How they were, and what they became. What presence they held in my life, and what they still hold in my heart and in my mind. They never fully disappear. I have spent my day thinking about ghosts. How people can become ghosts. How depression became more than ghost for me, it became a demon. How it has dictated and controlled almost every choice and thought I’ve had since it came slithering into my life, grasping firmly onto to anything it could. That no matter how hard I try to make something fit. Nothing does. No career. No school. No relationship. I can’t figure out if I’m damning myself to a life of indecision of if the depression just wants to keep me all to it’s self. That if I make a choice outside of it then I would no longer constantly feed my demons. That maybe then they would wither away and fade to ghosts that I could ignore.

 

Ghosts are the underlying theme of my life. Things that I want to forget, but can’t. People who have left. Feelings that always linger just below the surface. Everything seems to be a ghost in the right light. All those things I’ve quit in my life because I thought they didn’t fit. Those are ghosts now too. I still can’t put my depression in the ghost category. It’s still too strong and too present to be a ghost. I call that my demon. This grotesque thing that would consume me whole if I let it. I’ve been close to letting it before. There have been times where that call to give in was very seductive, but I didn’t. I’m not really sure why I didn’t give in, I don’t have a real reason for it. It just didn’t happen. It just feels like I was yanked back by some unseen force, making sure that my feet remain on the ground, however shaky that soil is.

 

Here I remain, all these years later surrounded by my ghosts. They manifest themselves on those lonely nights. The ones when I can’t get my brain to stop yammering away. When my guard is down and my armor is off, they come and present themselves as a reminder that they are still ever present. Things I can not ever touch. God, can I feel them though. The fear and anger from 13, the sadness from 15, the hopelessness from 17, the indecisive insecurity of 26. They are strong with me some nights. Those are nights they morph from ghosts to demons. I don’t hide from them anymore. I face them down. I feel them, as wholly as I can. I do my best to tell them to go away, and sometimes they do. But not before leaving that reminder. I am here. I am always here. 

 

We all have ghosts. Whether you believe in their existence and they’re real ghosts, or it’s just a metaphor for our past, and these people who have done good for us, or those who have hurt us, or those we cling to even though we never knew them. I never liked the saying “Skeletons in the closet.” I think we have ghosts instead. A closet always made me think that we could leave these things behind, but we can’t. They follow us around. Our ghosts are a part of us whether we want it or not. At some point you have to make peace with them.

 

Face down those demons, and tell them who’s boss.

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Them Changes

My Facebook news feed is full of inspirational memes, quotes, articles, and what seems to be a never ending supply of “5 signs you’re this type of person” and “10 things you should look for in a soulmate.” We have so many external ways of seeking support for continuing to achieve our dreams and to become a better person. I follow a lot of yoga teachers, great writers, and inspirational websites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. What I notice though is that I’ll read most of what they write, but I don’t really take it to heart. It’s not that I don’t love some of those things I see, and those articles I read. I really do, I love the ideas they present, and the challenges that you face because of them. But I rarely act on the tangible forces they present. 

Am I lazy? Probably. I spent most of my time living in leggings. (Yes, I do know they are not technically pants, but they cover me up.)

Am I scared? Yup! 

This is a recurring theme for my life lately. Changes of any kind are scary, letting something go to replace it with something new is not meant to be easy. Especially when you are a creature of comfort. I do have phases in my life where I am able to leave some of my overthinking crazy self talk at the door and just enjoy where I am. I stop overthinking, (sort of) and just stop feeding my beasts. Those are the best times. Could I do that all the time? Not right now.  I hope I can do that one day. I really do. That’s part of the ‘ideal life’ I’m aiming for. Don’t we all have an ideal we’re shooting for?

I’ve been talking about going back out to California for the last few months, and while I do have every intention of doing it. I do keep myself stuck in the pre-production phase. Some days it’s a great idea. To go and spend a few weeks in one of my favorite places in the world, and get some solid writing done. But then the thoughts come (don’t they always?) ‘It’s a waste of money. You should be saving your money, not wasting it on some wildly stupid trip.’ ‘You know you’re not going to get any writing done out there. You’re just gonna get sad and lonely and get nothing done. You can do that at home for free.’ 

And the big one ‘Why do you DESERVE it?’ I talk myself out of a lot of stuff with this argument. 

Why do I deserve it? You can come with a bevy of answers for that, and they’re all valid. 

Why do I deserve it? Because I’m alive. Because I’m going to do what I want. Because screw ‘DESERVE’ I’m doing it because I can. I don’t have to justify why I do something for the betterment of myself to anyone, especially that dark side of myself. The one with the legs still stuck in the quick sand, ready to start running in place and sink completely into the sand. I can feel the split starting to happen, and it’s been shaking for a long time, it feels like what an internal earthquake should feel like. You can feel the tectonic plates in yourself shift, and make way to something new. Even if it’s nothing major. But it is always major. Every change we go through is major because we are evolving. Change is a necessary thing for our survival. 

I don’t begin to pretend to know the first thing about religions and their philosophies. I lost my faith with organized religion when I was a young teenager, and through my angry phase, it helped me to have something bigger to be furious with. But I digress, I did go through a phase where I wanted to learn about other religions, and I got the basics of a few. Buddhism stood out to me, but that was mainly because their figurehead was a jolly round guy, who reminded me a bald, stoner Santa Claus. 

I stumbled across an article on my Facebook feed this morning that was titled “Everything the Buddha Taught in Two Words.(1)” Naturally, I’m curious. I love the teachings of bald, stoner Santa Claus. The only thing that really stood out for me as I’m still waking up and drinking my coffee is the beginning, and those two words. 

“Everything Changes.” 

I found that after I started to write this. I’m trying to find those little coincidences, that seem like they may be nothing, to be something.   I’m trying to find meaning in the minute details, because I find that after trying to focus on the big picture for so long, you forget about the small things. Those little things that years later can bring you joy. Spending an afternoon with a niece and nephew and giggling like insane people, taking a nap with a beloved dog, just sitting outside without your face jammed in a screen for a distraction. Those little moments are us actually living our lives. Not keeping our brain busy with things that may not even be important or relevant to our lives. Facebook is a great distraction. You see the engagements, weddings, babies, the overall great lives of these people you probably don’t even talk to anymore. While it’s great for them, does it really matter to YOU? I know that it probably doesn’t to me. Does it stop me from comparing my path and my life to other peoples? Nope. Cause they may have what I want, or what I think I can’t have. So then jealousy comes barreling down. 

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”  That quote is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, and maybe ironically, I see it pop up on Facebook from time to time. It’s so easy to sit and compare any aspect of yourself to other people. And then you can sit and say, “Well they deserve it, and I don’t.” But does anyone really? 

Deserve is a word I don’t like anymore. 

Do we actually deserve certain things? Sure. Do we always get them? Nope. 

But what is the deciding factor as to why one person gets a family and another person doesn’t? Is this is a case of a more physically attractive person or a more well rounded human being? I don’t I think that one person is truly more deserving of things in their life than another. But I think we have worked our society into thinking that we are. That some people are just better in general. I don’t know if I can go along with that sentiment. I don’t think that just by being alive, there are people who are any better or any worse than anyone else. At least not at our cores. Our cores come from the same place. It’s our words, choices, actions and everything else that we decide in our lives that help others, and ourselves, define how deserving we are. Which I still find funny, because we will often talk ourselves out of a choice, or a potential partner based on stupid things we did we before. That because of this choice I made, and I learned from, I am not deserving of living here, marrying that person, going back to school, having that car. I do this every day. I talk myself out of trying to live my life, by the argument of not being deserving. It’s done nothing but keep me stuck. I think it has done it’s best to keep me down, because in my head, “I don’t deserve anything.” 

Which is nothing more than a big old sack of lying shit. Whether or not we deserve things, we often get them. Some people receive more love than others. Some have more weight to carry. Some have what seems like an easy breezy life. But as we grow and mature, we see that it’s not always the case. Everyone has problems, issues, joy, sadness, loss, gains, everything. We all have everything. Some of us just don’t share it so openly with the world, or even with those closest to us. Maybe because we think that those closest to us don’t deserve to see the bad, wild sides of us. Those dirty little sections of our personality that even we have a hard time with. Those stupid thoughts that nag and nag us at stupid hours of the night, and odd times of the day. We think that maybe if we share that dark dirty side of us with people, both us and them will realize that we don’t deserve them in our lives. 

I don’t honestly know if I just over-exaggerate my stuff in my head, or if it really is that dark and dirty, but I know I do my best to hide it from people. I like to say that that I lay my crazy out on the table though. But that ‘crazy’ is nothing more than throwing out statement to push people, you test them with those statements. You dip your toe in and you see if they can handle that. But naturally I always do that with people I know I won’t know for long. I think by doing that it makes it easier for me to avoid some kind of superficial connection, because those are just draining for me. I know that most relationships have that in the beginning, but I definitely have been attracting some not so great people as of late, and I think doing that ‘crazy’ bit, has actually made it easier for me to push them out of the way. Which I’m telling myself is a good thing. You have to get rid of the old and the bad, to make way for the new and  the good. That has definitely changed for me. Before I would have clung to bad people and bad situations because I didn’t think I deserved any better then that. I’m working that out. You still have to try stuff on to see if it works before you can discard it. I used to never do that, even shopping for clothes. I would just grab stuff and hope for the best with a fit. Now I’m actually purging stuff I know doesn’t fit, getting rid of those holey clothes that may just be so comfortable but they don’t work for me anymore. Accepting the change, and actually being proactive instead of reactive. I don’t know when the hell that happened, but I’m trying to just go with it. 

After all everything changes, whether or not we deserve it. 

(1) “Everything the Buddha Taught in Two Words.” http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/05/everything-the-buddha-ever-taught-in-2-words/

The Power of Fear

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What do we do when those words of others become our own? The words we repeat, as a mantra, when we look at ourselves in the mirror. Even for that split second, when we can no longer bear to see our face staring back at us. Because we have hammered that mantra in our brains.

How do we break the spell of those words? How do we scrub our minds clean of those mantras? How do we dig it out of our hearts, when it is embedded so far in? 

What happens when the opinions other have of us ends up becoming our own? Does it make us weak? Are we too weak-willed? Too pliable? Are we merely just contorting ourselves to survive? 

At what point do we snap and say enough?

Truth is, I have no idea. I don’t begin to have any kind of answer to these questions. I have more questions than answers, and I have spent my life feeling like I am stuck. And what for? I can give you theories about that, but the truth of the matter is, I have no idea why I have allowed myself to stay stuck. 

Because it’s easy? Sure

Because it’s comfortable? Yeah, but not really.

Because it’s what I know? Definitely.

Because I am scared shitless? Yes. 

I am utterly terrified of being my own person. Of being able to stand up for myself and to use my own voice. Because if I do that, I not only have to stand my ground, but I have to be courageous and fight. I have to become a warrior for myself then. When it has become so easy to just lie back and take it. To just keep taking the horrible medicine I give myself for no reason more than to stay docile. To stay in my comfortable fear. 

Fear is a powerful motivator to stay. You can argue that it’s not hard to stay stuck. That it’s easy to not move. That the first step is always the hardest. Yeah, the first step is hard, but so is the second, and the third, and every step after that, because those are steps you have chosen to take towards whatever goal you wanted or needed to achieve. Sobriety, happiness, anything really. 

It’s not easy to stay stuck. It’s a lot of hard, back breaking work to stay in one place. To keep those thoughts at the same place they always have been. Because we will change. We always do. We are constantly evolving. It’s not always in a tangible way. Most of our changes, triumphs and failures are not tangible. We can’t show them off to the world. Most of the time, we may not even be aware of them. It can be something as small as changing our favorite color to something as big as wanting a family. The only constant we truly have is change. 

Yet, we fight it tooth and nail, and for what? 

Because we know it. 

Because fear kicks in. Fear of the unknown keeps us latching onto crappy relationships, and even crappier thoughts. It keeps us drinking that kool-aid, even after we find out it’s poison. I still drink my kool-aid. On a daily basis. I keep those mantras going 24/7. I keep them going through the day, and well into the night. I wonder sometimes if I have always been predisposed to that. To wanting to keep myself feeling like this, because the idea that I could feel better scares me, and the idea that I could end up feeling worse terrifies me. So I stay in purgatory, living in the grey area between the black and the white. Living some kind of half life, if you even want to call it that. There are days where I will not allow myself a break of any kind, and I will not allow myself to write. I keep myself from letting things out. Because I spent my nights talking myself out of those things I know I could have if I just tried a little. Of those things I want some days so badly I can almost taste them. I tell myself I don’t get them. I don’t deserve them. That if I really want them, and to truly be deserving of them, I’d have to change into a completely different person. That I have to become worthy of them. I have to change to become worthy of even entertaining the idea of them. 

Now, tell me that’s not fucked up. 

But that’s the problem. I know how fucked up it is, and I recognize it, but I do jack crap to change it. Because I am scared. That I could work for it, and try for it and it wouldn’t want me in return. So I stay put in my purgatory with my daydreams of what I want, and this is the irritating part, for me, that I see what I need to do, and I see what could be, but I don’t let myself get it. I taunt myself with it. Dangling it in front my face, like a carrot for a donkey, to keep it going, but knowing that  as long as I keep this going, I will never get that carrot. Because I don’t deserve to eat the carrot. 

Could I bow down into child’s pose, but my hands up and surrender to the universe? Sure. 

Do I? Hell no. 

Surrendering to something bigger than fear is something I don’t have the words for, not completely.  I just know that surrendering feels like giving up, and it’s not. I know it’s not, but I have fought so hard and so long to stay in purgatory. That the idea of even giving up an iota of that to something else, taps into those thoughts I get that run rampant. 

What happens if it goes well? I could feel better! Do I even know how to feel good? To truly feel good, and not wait for the other shoe to drop. I feel like when I do feel good, I’ve always got one foot in the door and I’m ready to run when that shoe drops. But the kicker? There is no shoe waiting to drop. I invent that shoe. It’s only present in my mind. 

Then what happens if it doesn’t go well? I could feel even worse! I’m not prepared to be that far gone again. You never are prepared for that level of anything. I’ve been down there once, and refuse to do it again. I can’t do that. I cannot handle it. I don’t know if I could survive that. I feel like the first time just drained me dry. I don’t have the reserves of strength now, that I had then.  

I watched Episode two of Masters of Sex right before I started writing this at 3 am. There was line when Dr. Bill Masters was talking to a teenage patient who had “darkness” in her. After dealing with her situation and realizing that she needed to get some help, she had the courage to say, “I am not my own worst part.” 

Maybe I need to start saying that. Maybe we all do. 

I am not my own worst part. I am not those hurtful words. I am not my fear. I do get that carrot, and I DESERVE it. 

I am not my own worst part. Maybe we’ll try that as a mantra for a while.

The Currency of Love

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This will be odd for me to type, but I’m beginning to believe this. So here we go.

 

Everyone is capable of love.

 

And I think I just heard my own brain explode from typing that.

 

Love is a concept I have struggled with, if I’m completely honest, probably my whole life. I mean I knew I loved my mom, my dad and my siblings. I loved my dog. I loved my friends. I loved running around outside and popping tar bubbles on the street during the summer break I loved even more. But I also loved The Simpsons, and my Barbies. I loved Bugs Bunny, I freaking loved Space Jam. Did my love for these inanimate objects make my love for the people any less valid, and the other way round. Does loving so many different people and things spread your ability to love around or are you given a set amount of love and each time you utter the word ‘love’ you take some of your stock pilled love away?

 

If we only have so much love to give, would we be more cautious with it?

 

I have been beginning to wonder if love is a kind of currency. Like the Euro, Dollar or Pound. Maybe kindness and compassion are a kind of currency as well. Maybe we create both tangible and intangible things to trade with other human beings so that we can get what we need to survive and to get through this beautiful tangled mess of a thing we call life. Through that we are able to get love. We are able to give and receive love, kindness, support, empathy, sympathy and compassion. Whatever we need in that moment to endure. We are not solitary creatures, but I do wonder if this is something that evolved right along with us as we crawled out of the primordial soup, grew legs and learned how to walk upright. That as we became more evolved and complex our currency did too. That our concept of love may have been just giving each other food and warmth to survive to the complex dating rituals we have now. Even having a family can seem to be complex and overwhelming at times. The rules we have to obey and the currencies that may not be accepted within certain circles or by certain people.

 

Love is a currency. Sometimes not accessible. Not accepted. Accepted by everyone, everywhere. Accepted by a few, or by many. Accepted by only one. Accepted by non. Love is a type of currency we trade, we share, we gift, we receive, we crave, we need, we want.

Love is what can make us better. It can help us, it can hinder us, but in the end, it makes us better. We learn from it, we forget from it. We become sane with it. We become insane with it. Love is not simple. It is not just saying the words and then you’ve given it to someone or something. It is in everything we do. Our words, our actions, our thoughts, our vibrations, our chakras, our prayers, our meditations, our books, our magazines, our yards, our homes, our families, our blood, our tears, our sweat, our souls. It is in everything.  Maybe it’s even in our DNA.

 

Does that make it easy to understand?

 

Hell no.

 

I don’t even begin to understand that currency. How I can fully trade someone my love for theirs. I can give a lot of in my version of the currency, but the full trade of here is my heart, forever and ever, I have no idea how that currency works. I think that’s like the stock market. You can watch the stocks get traded and see what goes up and what goes down. What has had good history of return of investment and what has a questionable history.

 

We play with our hearts like trading stocks on Wall Street. We gamble with them like we’re in Vegas. Sometimes we get a good hand and manage to play it just right and end up winning big, and we know when to walk away with our big return. Sometimes we bet it all on a crappy hand and walk away with nothing, feeling empty inside. Sometimes we keep trying to win big with not to great hands and mediocre stocks that will never be capable of giving us what we need.

 

Sometimes we win big in a foreign currency. We get the jackpot with someone we know is capable of love, but we miss the mark with it. Because we get that love in a currency we can’t use. It doesn’t compute. It can never really align with what we need, or even want. Does that mean we should throw it away because we can’t use it? I can’t answer that. It’s so dependent on the person and the situation. There is no black and white, all or nothing with love. It’s just a big messy grey area that has so many shades of both black and white on top of it.

 

When we win big with a foreign currency, we have the ability to adapt ourselves to accept it. Especially when it comes from someone who we have craved love from. The problem with this is that we can sometimes be selling ourselves short. That we were so desperate for the love from that one person that we would accept it and bend over backwards when we got some version of currency regardless of our ability to use it.

 

So yes, love is a currency that everyone is capable of producing and trading. But it doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing or that it’s a beneficial thing either. It is what it is. Messy and complicated.

 

 

Photo Credit: (Tofu Photography – http://tofuphotography.blogspot.com/2011_10_30_archive.html_

Ramble Ramble

There’s this thing I like to do when I get into one of my moods. (and this is so easy for me to do, and I have done it more than I should have lately.) I watch Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about the Universe. Or I read Carl Sagan, even though most of what he writes goes right over my head, but what they give is both the same. For me, it’s kind of a sit down and look around you, see what is bothering you. Give it a good solid stare, and try to remember why it is bothering you.

It’s easier for me to snap myself out of it then. If I have a bigger perspective than just my own head. Which is a problem for me since I’m there about 99.9% of the time. I live up there in all of those what if’s, could be’s, never gonna happen’s and might not’s, but I rarely see the what would happen if I did something different. I see the bad, I see the negative and I see the darkness because that’s all I let myself see. I got so used to it that the light feels suffocated and blinding at best, at worst it feels like I could lose what little grip I have on myself at the moment. But the truth of all that is, what I’m clinging onto so tightly, that darkness, isn’t me. I’m terrified to have even a moment where I don’t have anything to define myself as. Because that bad stuff is readily available, it’s comfortable. It’s not easy to stay stuck, but it’s scary as hell to take a step out of it. So I stay with those stupid labels I’ve collected over the years, I stay stuck in my muck, my quicksand, whatever you want to call it because I know it. Because it’s what helped me survive before, and I almost feel like I would be abandoning it if I leave it behind. Which is exactly what I need to do.

 

I keep myself distracted. I constantly have screens on or music blaring in my headphones. Rarely do I give my brain a break from a constant intake of stimulation. I think that’s why I have a hard time sleeping, or at least part of it, because that’s when the floodgates open. Those nagging thoughts and those ideas of what could happen, why this doesn’t happen kick in. I have had nights where I slip into those thoughts and before I know it morning has come and the sounds of the birds chirping outside my window snap me out of them. I realize I have given another night and more time to those thoughts. It’s never something that changes in a moment, it is such a process to change your mindset to accept that something else might fit you better. And this is definitely a situation in which I know I can’t do it completely alone, to a degree yeah I have to, because it’s my head and I live there, but you can’t make such huge shifts in your life without some kind of support system. That would be like walking a tightrope with no safety net underneath. Yeah, you can do it, and I’m sure some people are professionals at it, but for most of us, not such a great idea. This is just my way of getting back into my groove. Getting words flowing and getting some kind of a feel of what I really need to do. Because god knows it looks like climbing Mt. Everest alone right now, and it’s fricking terrifying. It’s time, now more than ever, to shed that old skin and find something new that fits. And yeah, maybe I’ll have to wander around like the Emperor in new clothes, (figuratively) naked for a while. That’s scary. But anything worth having in life will be hard work, and that will make it so much better when you finally have it.

Overthinking and Writing.

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I write. That’s (obviously) how I get my stuff out, right? Does that make me a writer or someone who writes? When I was on my trip, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. That it was part of what I wanted to do with my life. It was an empowering feeling to finally say it, and to mean it. As I slip back into reality, (seriously it all feels like some wonderful dream within a dream. Did I get all Inception on my own self?) I can feel the urge or dream (or whatever you want to call it) slip away a bit. I can feel it start to turn around, like it’s getting ready to yell at me that it’s a stupid dream and I have snowballs chance in hell of it happening. I know it’s possible, but when you’ve got a war going on up there, it makes it hard sometimes to decipher between those lies and the truth. Truth is, it would be difficult, and I’d have to deal with a good amount of rejection.

 

The lies are the same as always,

the not good enough

why the hell do you bother? – no one reads it anyways.

you can’t even write for yourself – isn’t that the whole point?

and the ever snobby, you have a horrible grasp on grammar, you don’t edit your writing, and you have to spellcheck in your dictionary. You can’t remember how to spell words. Where do you get off thinking you could be a writer?

 

Those blend in with the depression down talk. No one will EVER love you. You are NOT good enough. You hate yourself most of the time, why shouldn’t other people do the same? Sure you’re polite most of the time, but you’re so detached from people. They don’t care. NO ONE CARES.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I’m damned to having that on replay forever. The horrid thoughts and lies I feed myself. I feed myself almost literal garbage, not because I know it’s truth, but because it’s SAFE. That little bit of the universe I have for myself is filled with garbage and depression. Sometimes it’s so dark, I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. And in the midst of all of that, I wonder why I chose the title ‘Writer’ I’m hardly able to be honest with myself sometimes. How can I expect anyone to read my ramblings? Half the time I just zone out when I write and whatever comes out is what goes up. I don’t like re-reading my own writing. I don’t know if it’s being lazy (probably) or if it’s some demented protection thing I have built up over the years, where if I get it out and acknowledge it, but don’t re-read it, then maybe I get it out and don’t have to re-live those long dark nights of the soul.

 

I’ve been writing since roughly the same time I started therapy. Maybe a little before, and I didn’t start writing anything personal until about 6 months ago.I wrote my poems, that I thought were therapy in a way when I was a teenager, and I wrote my stories, where I’m sure some of my stuff slipped in between the lines. I know those characters have some of my stuff, it’s hard to not let it slip in. Especially when you just day dream and write it down. I was 11 or 12 and wrote, wait for the kicker here, ‘pop songs’. God are they awful. I don’t have it in me to be a songwriter. I need page after page to ramble on, I don’t know if I could condense it down to a catchy hook and 3 minutes. I thought they were good, and obviously that was just the stepping stone to writing dark angry poetry. Even reading some of that now scares me. It literally scares me. Because you almost forget how far in you are, or were, and to see the tangible proof of that moment existing is a reminder that yes, it did happen and yes, you were there. I still have my journal from residential treatment, and I have kept myself from looking at it a lot, because it scares me to know how far I fell and how I still have the capacity to fall in that deep. At one point, during that 8 months, I wanted to be numb, I wanted to be walking skeleton of a person. I thought that would be easier to navigate through life if I didn’t eat, and didn’t feel. I wanted to doom myself to a half life, where ironically I have kind of been anyways since then.

 

I haven’t been participating in my own life. I checked out the day I got my depression diagnosis. Everything after that feels like trying to piece a drunken night together the next morning. I have snippets of it, and can mostly guess what happened, but the feeling is usually one of embarrassment and of guilt. Because maybe I said something that let people see inside a little too far, and maybe I wrote something that was too personal. The personal stuff scares me, and I think that’s why I’m so keen to try to keep going. The stuff before may have been personal, but if it was, it wasn’t completely honest. I always thought I was omitting parts of the truth, rather than flat out lying. Even then, I didn’t think people would like me if I was honest about what I am. That’s been a hard one to shake.

 

Even on my retreat, where I knew I was surrounded by women who were nothing but giving and loving, I still had my moments where I knew I shouldn’t talk, and maybe I was a little too quiet. But my hamster wheel starts going, and then I start telling myself that none of them like me, let alone care what I’ve been through. They’re here to connect and be vulnerable and to be open. How can I do that when I can’t be honest with myself? I skew my version of the truth so that I see that I’m not worth someone taking the time to get to know me and to connect, because I don’t feel like I have anything to offer in return. I felt empty down there, and I knew I wasn’t. I knew there was too much in there for me to be feeling like I have nothing to offer. I made myself feel like I don’t belong, and it was an easy road to go down because I know it so well, and given that I was the youngest one there. That didn’t do much to help me fight off my own stupid thoughts. My brain starts going, and sometimes I feel like it will implode in my skull. The overthinking is something I know too well, and there are days where I am able to stop it, like I did down there, and I did realize how melodramatic I was being over something I invented.

 

Even with the writing I did down there, the second half it was tapping into something I didn’t know I had. I was able to be positive and not feel like a fraud. I could write it down, and actually feel it. I left on such a high, and it has been the best I have ever felt in my life. Because I knew that those things I wanted so badly I could almost taste them, were real, and they were possible. But then I get back into my life and the high wears off. I’m back into my fortress of solitude hating myself routine, but I can feel those embers still burning. I know that I don’t have to fall back into that comfortable darkness. I have to fight it, but I would have to fight to stay in the dark. Somewhere in there, I hope I can get it into my head, that my writing is something I have to do. It keeps me going, even if no one else reads it. I feel better after getting it out onto the page, even if I have to spellcheck my words. I don’t think I chose to write, the writing chose me.

Masks and Re-sh*t-ry.

I woke up this morning feeling like a fucking fraud. I could feel my mask back on. That’s how I like to refer to hiding my depression, wearing a mask. I don’t honestly know if I’ve been depressed my entire life. There are days where it’s easy to believe that I was since I spent a lot of time alone as a kid and even now I still love to be alone. I love it to a very unhealthy degree, like to the point that I have horrible nights and some days, where I would be willing to cut the cord with everyone in the world and just sit in my room and fester and wallow in my crap. Because that is where I feel like myself? I’m not even sure if that’s true. I say or write these things and I feel so true when I say them, but when I go back I wonder “Am I lying? This is even a fraction of the truth?” Some days I don’t even know. I don’t know what my truth is. I don’t know anything other than the comfort of my depression, and the overwhelming sensations of it, where I don’t have to think. I just feel sad, and hate myself.

 

Brain goes off, and depression slips in.

 

It’s not healthy, and I know this. I’ve been in therapy for half my life. I’ve been on anti depressants 5 or 6 times since then, some working and some failing. I wonder if I kept them from working. Like my brain chemistry morphed around it, so that I could still take the pills and continue to be so fucking depressed. I didn’t take my doses everyday, and didn’t give half of those times the proper chance to take. When I did, the depression dulled to a point where I could be somewhat functional, but I couldn’t really feel much other than a slight indifference to the world. I never liked taking them, but I don’t think that’s the point, you’re not supposed to enjoy taking them. They’re not Viagra where you get something fun out of the deal. We get functional, to a point. I suppose you could label that as fun if you really wanted to, but I can’t understand why you would. I’ve taken sleeping pills on and off since I was a teenager. I’ve been on Xanax or Klonopin everyday since I was 19, and the panic attacks came barreling in and only crippled any functioning part of me. I keep myself drowned in the depression and those panic attacks. I know that the depression has made my jaw tense up to the point where I have TMJ, (although my doctors were insistent that it was due to having both jaws cut and moved. My fucking bionic jaw.) but I know that part of it is my tensing up. I get worked up and will literally feel myself tense up to the point where I’m almost scared I would stay that way. Like I made a stupid face at my siblings and then my face stuck that way. I feel like I’m walking around with that stupid face. So I wear the mask to cover it up.

 

It’s not that I’m disingenuous, that I’m not interested in other people or care about them. But my brain tells me to cover up my crazy, to hide that broken person I am from other people because they will run away screaming from the monster that lives inside me. It just seemed to be the answer to not be readable. To hide the stuff inside because then I don’t have to worry about being labeled depressed. There is a lot of stigma attached to it, even in this day and age where people are so quick to think they have it because they have a bad day. And maybe they do. People don’t talk about it openly. From my experience it’s still pretty taboo, which I can see from the looks I get from people when I tell them part of my story. Ranging from the looks of pity to the looks of disgust. I’ve had a few of those. The “Oh that’s what you really are.” I never saw those people again. I give myself that look enough times. Most of the time, I hate looking in the mirror, because then I know I can’t really hide behind that mask. I know what lies beneath, and there have been moments where it’s absolutely terrifying, because I know that if I let my guard down for a minute, it could overtake everything and I fear that I would never return.

 

See even that, I know there is some truth to it, but I think I stumble around in the dark for ways to explain how I feel. I feel like  like such a fraud sitting here and writing about my experiences, not because they aren’t happening, or because they aren’t real, but because I still don’t think that I deserve to be heard. I’ll share my writing with people, and they’ll like it and tell me how they can relate to it and in that moment it’s great. It’s an amazing feeling to be told that what you think you’re shit it, someone else thinks you’re great at. That external reassurance can be a good thing sometimes, to get a boost from someone who sees you so differently than you see yourself. Often times what you see and what they see are day and night, the truth is somewhere in between. But that reassurance is an addicting thing. I find myself scouring my Facebook page and my blog, checking the stats and seeing who’s commented on it, and I realize how stupid I’m being. It’s an addiction I have. I want to see that people see me. That they read my words and they hear my voice. Because sometimes then I can say to myself that you do exist. That you are a real person that can survive outside of your depression cocoon. But that thought relies almost solely on what others say, which is something I need to realize can feed you for a moment, but it’s not a way to sustain yourself. You have to be able to sustain yourself. I think that requires self-love and confidence. Two of the many things I don’t feel competent in. I feel like I missed those lectures.

 

I sit here and feel so narcissistic writing about my issues. I worry that the Narcissism that runs through my family is coming out in me, and again look for others to tell me that it’s not. Just like I worry that I could fall into the bottle like my family. Those cycles that could very easily continue, and I want so badly to not be that. But I worry that I’m not as strong as I feel sometimes, that I’m really too weak, that I’ll cave and be just like my dad. I’ve heard directly from his mouth, that I’m “just like him.” Which made me want to vomit. He is a complex man, and we have a complex relationship. I’m currently the only child of his three that talks to him on a regular basis and I feel like I’m doing it because I’m too weak to walk away. Because he’s my dad. I have plenty of reasons to walk away, and to tell him to go fuck himself. He has been some semblance of kind to me, then crueler than anyone else I’ve ever met, and so dishonest and disinterested, that again it makes me want to vomit. I have spent my life looking over my shoulder for what he couldn’t give. He couldn’t love me, at least not in anyway that I could use. He can love himself just fine. I think his idea of showing love is financial. Which is fucked up. Buying me books doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t fix the abandonment I feel, or the fact that I don’t believe anyone can love me. Nor does it fix the idea that I am nothing more than my depression in a human form. I used to think that we’d be able to sit down and talk about all of this stuff, and that we could apologize and have it all be recognized. I realize now that it will never happen. He’s too far gone to realize what has been done, and I think I was expecting something that doesn’t exist. Like a unicorn farting out rainbows. It doesn’t exist.

 

I’ve made some peace with my mom, and at least she’s willing to be open with me. I think there are things we will never tell the other, and that’s fine. We don’t have to be completely honest with each other. There is stuff that neither of us will let go. I wonder about that especially since people have told me to just let it go. I wonder if I am capable of letting stuff go. If it is possible for anyone to fully let something go like a balloon into the wind. At this point in my life, I don’t think we do. I think it gets talked about and felt enough that we can dull it to a point where it’s not front and center, but it will ebb and flow with a trigger to bring it back. But we learn how to adapt and how to fight those ebbs and flows back into our lives.

 

This is a depression day. I woke up and depression took over. There will be days like this, and I’m not going to lie and say that I’m okay with it. Because I hate my depression. I hate that it still has the power to take over. I’m sitting here wondering if I should take my mom’s suggestion for intensive therapy and go back on medication. That maybe the writing I’m trying to do isn’t working and it’s just a waste of time. It did help, but I wonder if I’m trying to bite off more than I can chew and I feel like I’m kicking anyone who’s trying to help or support in the face. Because I get into that kick of I don’t need people. They don’t need me, so why the hell would I need them?

 

My trip to Costa Rica and the vulnerability and openness of it now feels like a dream. My re-shit-try (thought that was a great word for it) has been well shitty. I’m sitting in a house I don’t feel is a home anymore, I’m not feeling capable of reconnecting with the life I have here, but I also don’t have the gumption to seek out anything new. Because I’m in my safe place. I’m in that place where I don’t have to if I don’t want to. I could isolate myself away from life forever if I really dedicated myself to it. But I know that I can’t do it anymore. I’m exhausted. Utterly exhausted in every way I could be. I’m in my weird sleeping schedule again and I’m being curt when talking to people. I try to reach out, and again feel like a fraud because I don’t know why. The whole I’m not good enough thing?

All I know at this moment is that I’m in my depression, and I feel like I’m in the Ether. That I’m here, but I’m not really here. That my brain is hazy today because I’m stuck in my brain versus being in the real world. I’m in those comfortable shoes that I know so well, walking the path I know like the back of my hand. I’ve got my mask on, and I hate it.

Digging.

Digging.

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“Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun….”

 

I have never really been very into poetry. I’ve had my phases where I’ve found solace in the words poets. Robert Frost when I was at the ripe old age of 13, and I had my fleeting love affair, like most angsty teenagers, with Charles Bukowski. But I never understood it. I could relate to some of the passages and with bits of them, but as a whole, it was completely outside my realm of comprehension. Then I discovered this man from the green hills of Northern Ireland. Where even to this day, I would swear part of my heart lies, even though I have never stepped foot onto it’s soil. (I was close, but there was too much snow and I was too tired from parading around Europe alone for two months.)

 

I have always, and I mean always, been obsessed with the United Kingdom and Ireland. Anglophile didn’t seem like a strong enough term for how much I loved it. Even now, I still yearn for this probably very heavily romanticized version I carry around in my head and my heart. Of drinking Guinness in the local pub and watching football on the telly. I have gobbled up music, books, films and everything about it I can get my hands on. From the obsession with the Tudors (I hate that TV show) to the obsession with the Sex Pistols, John Peel and Good Vibrations to imagining living a quiet life with grandchildren in the country many years from now. You name it I’m sure I’ve envisioned that life and wanted to live in that city. It probably seems silly, but that daydream life was something that helped though those dark times. I knew that it would probably never come to fruition, as I was born and breed in the Midwest, but  you can’t blame a girl for dreaming. I’ve never felt my heart truly belonged here. Maybe in the beaches of California. Maybe in the mountains of Montana. Or maybe in those green hills were that man came from.

 

I always landed in those green hills. I think Seamus Heaney was the reason I landed there. I believed for a while that finding him was a sign for me to live there. So I had my heart set on Belfast and Queen’s University where he attended and graduated with his degree in English. I was going to do music rather than write. I have tried many different things in my life. I attempted art school, which lasted for a whole 6 weeks, and then off to music production, then music business. Which definitely could have worked if I had the gumption to push myself to do it. But no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t really fit. I found myself getting disillusioned with the industry, seeing only the bad aspects of it, and realizing that there was a very real possibility of losing my main outlet. Music is, and hopefully will continue to be, my therapy. That’s my solace in those dark times and my rejoicing during the good. I end up with music, and with writing. I never thought I had the ability or the talent to be a writer for a career, but I kept doing it. Because I found that I have an easier time articulating my feelings and thoughts through it. Even though I write fiction and attempted, very badly, to write poetry, I still found a way out of my head. I have only recently begun to write those personal things. Those things that live and fester in the dark corners of my mind. I have begun to shed light on those demons that for so long seemed like they would overtake everything I hold dear. I have been in traditional therapy for so long, and while it did help, I think giving myself a voice and reaching out to others to realize that yes, I feel alone and unworthy, but seeing in bright bold neon letters YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. That others have similar demons haunting them, has been such an eye opening experience.

 

I went on a Manifestation Retreat with the utterly amazing (there are no real words for how amazing she is) Jennifer Pastiloff in Costa Rica. I got home a handful of days ago, and I can feel myself flip flopping between the old and the new, who I was and who I will be. I have been so blissful and felt the best I have ever felt in my life. Then I have been so agitated and felt so suffocated. I can feel the old trying to choke the new blossoming ways out of my mind and my body. I can feel them fighting for my soul. I don’t entirely know what happened while I was down there. But apart from being so open with the most amazing, loving, giving and supportive group of women I have been blessed to meet in my life, something major shifted. That dark matter that resided in my belly was dug out, and the fire in my belly began to spark again in ways I have never felt. She holds the space for us to do this, to be open and so vulnerable that it could break your heart, but it doesn’t. Our hearts mend together to create this space for us to bring out our darkness and to confront it and say, “I rule this body, this mind and this soul! You don’t own me. I do!”

 

I went down there to dig. That word “digging” has never been far from my mind (I even want to get it tattooed on my arm), even as the years pass from the first time I read “Digging.” I never fully realized what he meant by any of it. How by saying he “had no spade to follow men like that.” he wasn’t meant to follow in the footsteps of the men before him. That he was to carve out his own path. That he was to dig with his pen. That he was to dig this way through himself and through the world with his words. It was amazing to me to find out that he was all of 27 when he wrote that. That he had his moment of this is what I am meant to do at an age not much older than my 25. That he didn’t have it all figured out until then. That was a calming moment for me. I have scrambled through life believing that I have to know my path NOW. Not years from now, I have to know everything right this second. Truth is, I know a few things. I have a few things that I would absolutely love to have happen, but they may not. I went through my digging in Costa Rica with the wish for a family and some peace, maybe a smidge of self-love thrown in there for good measure. But I fixated on family. The calm and ever loving family that I didn’t have, and still don’t really have now. The family that I could do better and be better in. The family where we aren’t passive aggressive and let things fester over the years, where anger and depression and all other feelings run rampant and rule over the possibly of an unconditional non-judgmental ever lasting love. The family that I would daydream about in the country of Ireland (Either North or South. I’m not picky). The one with the mass amounts of children and grandchildren running around, playing the mud, and howling laughter. With my husband and I sitting and just feeling calm love for each and every one of them. Where I could finally have those demons under some kind of control and not over-think myself into a mess that doesn’t exist. When I slip into that bliss from the trip, that future doesn’t feel so far away. It feels possible in some way. I can feel that peace of mind. I can get my brain to shut up for a while. I can get the words flowing again. That is the truest form of bliss I have been granted in my short life. Getting that hamster wheel of brain to stop running in circles that go nowhere but drive me insane, to halt to allow those words of Mr. Heaney to enter. To use that pen snug as gun between my fingers to dig. To really dig to the point where I can almost feel those words as earth between my fingers. Where I can visualize my words being pulled out of the hole in the ground where I lived for so long, and allowing these things to see the light of day so that I can thank them and realize them. I am trying so hard to release them to best of my ability, as I know remnants will always exist, but to dig the majority of it out and let it be gone. So I can stand guard over it, and decide what I will allow back in. I will never completely control it, and there will be days in which the old stuff slips back in, but if I can be at a point where I can deal with it, and not shy away from my tough stuff I will be good.

 

 

I went to Costa Rica to dig. And dig I did.

 

 

“Between my thumb and my finger

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.”

 

 

May there be many more years of digging ahead of me.

 

 

Thank you for your words, Mr. Heaney. Even his last words, “Noli Timere” (Latin for Don’t Be Afraid) are a source of comfort. A beacon of light in those dark times.

Making Sh*t Happen.

I’m about to go on a Manifestation Retreat. Where I will spent a week in the jungle at a beautiful place with amazing people. Before that I’m going to spend 3 uninterrupted days in Santa Monica. I haven’t been able to spend as much time there on my previous trips to LA. Circumstances that were out of my control happened, and well frankly, Shit Happens. I’ll be spending time with my cousin, who after a long time of not being close, we have reconnected. I am grateful for that connection being strong again. She was there for me during a period in my life when I felt like I had no one and even if we aren’t in each others lives in the future, I will always be grateful for the guidance, support and love she has given me. So needless to say, I’m really fucking excited about having three solid days with her. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for about 6 or 7 months now. It’s a big event, and a potentially huge trip for me. It has the potential to be life changing if I really open myself up to it. I can walk out of it a different person. I like to think I have a decent intuition, and it’s been going crazy with this trip. Like I have the sensation that something big will shift and will change. I really really hope that feeling is right. I’m ready for a change.

 

I’ve been thinking about manifesting. I’ve been reading articles about it and trying to wrap my brain around what it is. I suppose the basics of it is that you wish (maybe not the right word) something into your life. You welcome this presence of something, whether it’s a better job, a relationship or more money. You can manifest whatever you want. I’ve been struggling to come up with something to manifest. Whether I should want to try to figure my life out, or finally figure out what I want to go back to school for. Or if I should even just manifest the idea of knowing what to manifest for. In one of my late night brain scrambling over thinking sessions, I got to wondering what I would really want. I mean REALLY want in life. What the one thing is that would make my life worth something, give it some meaning it doesn’t currently have. I got to thinking about family. About the family I have, and the family I want. How I spent a lot of time hating my family. Hating the blood in my veins and where I came from. I viewed my family as a diseased dysfunctional resemblance of a family. We were just people who were related by blood, we aren’t family. For some reason the word family never really struck any kind of a chord with me. Growing up everyone in my immediate family was on different pages and while I knew that in some way we all loved each other, it never really felt like my friends families did. Where everyone knew what was going on with each other, and knew each others favorite colors and television shows. Those things that might seem trivial but in reality can bind people together.

 

I got a box of my grandpa’s genealogy research. He had always been very into it. When my grandparents lived in Texas, my grandpa had a wall dedicated to it. He had the family tree on his side, as far back as he had been able to go back, and he was always ready to talk about the people on it. He loved our ancestors, and the stories that came with them. I like to think in those later years of his life that he truly loved the idea of family. Not that he didn’t before, but maybe that growing older had softened him to a point where his years as an Army Officer weren’t front and center, where his emotions were a little more readily available. I wish I had listened to those stories better. But I was a kid, and honestly, didn’t give much of a crap about it. I listened as well as I could and remembered bits of it, but only now do I realize how cool it was that he had taken years to find those people and those photos. The research he had done hadn’t come out of thin air. He loved family. I know I have a tendency to idealize him, and to view him and my grandma through rose colored glasses, but despite the flaws that were there. They were good people. They did love their family and they managed to love each other for 73 years. 68 of which had been spent married. That’s such a rare thing, and I’m proud of the fact that I am a byproduct of that in some way. That because these two people loved and continued to be together through good and through bad times they stayed. They didn’t run at the first sign of trouble. Because of that they created a family. It was not perfect, not one family is, but at least to me, they managed to create something that was unconditional love. That’s what I felt from them. Even when grandma was starting to disappear into her Alzheimer’s and grandpa succumbed to his pancreatic cancer. They still fought and loved.

 

I find myself wishing that my parents could have been that. That they could have made it work like Grandma and Grandpa did, but it’s not a fair comparison. They’re very different people, and they had very different circumstances to overcome. Now, I am grateful that my parents didn’t stay together, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. While the aftermath of it all was the beginning of the most painful and difficult part of my life, it was the right thing, and it made it us better people. I was very resentful towards everyone after my dad left. I still can’t bring myself to say anything but that. It felt like he left like a thief in the night, and while I have talked to him about it and can understand his reasons behind it. It hasn’t lessened how I feel about it. I’m not going to try to alter my feelings to make it easier to understand where either parent was coming from. I felt that way for a reason, whether or not it’s right, it’s how I felt, that the only justification I need for it. I was angry after that, and hated the idea of family. I hated happy families. I hated sad families. I hated families point blank period. They all could fall off the face of the earth for all I cared at that point. I’m happy to say that I don’t feel that way anymore. I think if anything that whole period has now made me more grateful for family. Even though the extended family I have isn’t really close. They are still my family.

 

Through the thinking about what I want to manifest. I think it’s that. I want a family. I want that family that I craved when I was in the pits of despair. The family that I resented for being close and knowing each other, for supporting each other. I think, maybe for selfishly, I want the chance to break some cycles that I know I have the possible capacity to continue. I want to be able to right some wrongs, and to be able to give my kids what I didn’t have. It does sound like stuff that a lot of people say, that they want to give their kids what they didn’t have. But it’s not about giving them a better education or giving them better toys or being stricter than your parents were. I want to give my kids the chance to live their lives without looking over their shoulder wondering when the other shoe will drop. I can’t protect them from the demons of depression and the grip of self doubt. I can give them a better foundation. From the bottom of my heart, or maybe my toes, (that’s how deeply I feel this) I want them to never ever EVER have to question if they are loved. I want them to know every single second of every single day they live and breathe that they were wanted and they are loved, forever and unconditionally. That the only thing I want for them is to find something that makes them happy and gives them joy, to do that. Not to have to spend their lives feeling alone and isolated, wondering through that veil of darkness, if they were an accident. I would even be so bold as to ask for a partner to have this family with that has the same want. To have that family that never stops loving, never stops caring, never stops supporting, even through the shit. I would wanting to have a love like my grandparents to it, but that feels like a very tall order. It’s probably not, but my brain will tell me that it won’t happen. That I don’t deserve it. That I’m not good enough. It’s the fucking trickery of depression. I have my brain wired in a way that it will probably always try to tell me that I only deserve to be alone and miserable. At a young age, I resigned myself to the idea that I would be alone forever and be sad. That my only companion would be depression and that fucked up comfort I took from it. I’m starting to see that it’s not the case. That if I can get myself to a point where I’m ok with myself and I recognize that while I’m not the best, the richest, the prettiest, the smartest, or the whatever you want to put there, I am so much better than I give myself credit for.

 

 

So maybe that’s what I’ll try to manifest while I’m on my retreat. Recognize how good you are, how much better you are than you give yourself credit for. Maybe I’ll even give manifesting for that family a try. Whatever I put into it is what I’m going to get out of it.

So I’m gonna put on my big girl pants, break down some walls, and take a huge leap of faith. I might have to crumble a little, but out of that big things can be born.

 

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Let’s make some shit happen.