Friday, January 18, 2013

The Psychics

They all told me he'd contact me again. Many said in two or three days. Many said in two months, no longer. Time would pass by and it would still be two days, two weeks, two months, this or that holiday and I waited and wouldn't exhale. One or two said it will take a long long time. I don't remember any of them saying never. I do remember wasting a fortune on such a fool's errand.

Some of them said there was something wrong with him. Some said family troubles. One in the very beginning called the color of his eyes before I knew what they were and then one in the end described him to a tee but told me nothing of any other use than picking him out in a lineup. Most of the rest were more adept at picking up my verbal cues and breathing. I've read articles on this stuff, since I've invested so much in it and so many of them are such good actors that they'll have you believing he still loves you after all this time. And then others confuse his very specific characteristics with someone else's very specific characteristics and you put down the pen you've been writing copious notes with and wipe your eyes and say, 'Enough.'


Or you keep trying and keep spending money because you have no closure. And your friends (including the psychic ones) berate you for sloppily mopping up the chunks of your heart all over the floor as you slip and slide all over your innards and you mentally send him a message that evisceration would have been more merciful. And a follow-up message to wear a sweater when it's cold and a follow-up follow-up fuck you I hope you catch pneumonia.

But then one morning (okay, early afternoon)  you wake up. And you see the same view out the window that you've always seen (seasonal changes aside) and you stop hearing and seeing synchronicities and cease feeling that feeling you get in your heart whenever you think you feel he's with you even if he's never been in your presence and you begin to breathe again. You don't cry anymore when you hear something similar to something he'd often say and you don't fall apart when you see something he's said somewhere that obliquely references you in front of dozens of mutual friends and while it's subtlety disparaging and typically arrogant, you feel this sense of nothingingness except maybe the guilt you feel when a friend says, Okay, enough with the bullshit while the dozens of friends stand idly awkwardly by and that friend feels guilty for being reactive and the ones who had the option to act didn't and there was even one or two who would have disappointed you six months ago and now you just say whatever, I'm over it and you almost....just almost...are.

I'd still call a psychic every now and then and ask. And then over time, I'd stopped or it was in fits and starts and strangely they'd ask me, strangers I'd never spoken with before, but perhaps they have a database, about him. 'Your heart is still connected to his.' 'Like hell it is.' 'Well, I understand you saying that, but it's connected and only time will heal that.' I've had plenty of time. I'm done. What's next? Who's next?' and then they'd talk about karmic debt and I'd hang up on them.

I'd feel so sorry for myself I wouldn't get out of bed for days. Days. I would look at the shower and my pores would moan in protest, 'wash me', and I'd crawl back into bed and cover my head with a pillow or four and every occupant in the house would stand outside my door and draw straws to see who'd ask me when was the last time I ate and 'Look I brought you a sweet tea from McDonald's just like you like it!' and I'd be filled with self-loathing and revulsion at the shadow of the person I used to be and look in the mirror and say, 'Who's fearless now, chickenshit?' and spend another day in bed and look forward to the one day where I could spend an hour and money I didn't have crying to my therapist.

I don't know what day it was. I know there are people who can pinpoint the exact moment they fell in love or what they were doing when JFK died or 9/11 happened but I began to have less months, then weeks, then days, then hours of misery and decided I wanted my life back and it wasn't him who took it from me. And it wasn't that I gave it to him. I took it from myself and was fully responsible and like all the variables and accumulative factors and shit that contributed to me weighing 700 lbs. at one point and realizing that it would take as many variables and factors and shit to lose it if I wanted to be who I wanted to be, I realized that  it would take that much energy to take my life back from numb oblivion.

First and foremost, I'm a fighter. It's immaterial that I've lost most of the fights of my life. The point is that I keep getting back up and fighting. Which is good. Because the alternative is to lie there and continue to be pounded by whoever sees an opportunity to spit or kick you in the ribs or be run over by a UPS truck because time and life waits for no one and no one likes a victim and since when did I become a victim? What the fuck was I doing being a victim? And did I always always *have* to fight? Why couldn't I just walk away and say, 'Fuck this shit. It's/he/she isn't worth it.'?

I had that moment before. A few times. The most significant being the time I chose myself over a bottle of narcotics. Yay me. Well twice or thrice, so Yay me cubed.

So, I began to make a few changes. Like fill up my life with meaningful things. And remove from my life meaningless things, things that no longer served a purpose. That included some friends. That included Facebook, at least temporarily. That included me bitching and whining about being wronged. No more sad or angry or defiant jpgs and song links unless I really liked them and they weren't passive-aggressive messages that only I and a few friends in the know would get but the real recipient wouldn't because they didn't have access to my 'stuff' anymore. That included liking guys who reminded me of that guy and then liking all their stuff and hoping they'd like my stuff and making excuses for them when they didn't and then hating myself for repeating the pitiful cycle. So...out with that bullshit.

I made a lot of changes. I still have a way to go. And I still have a shitload of stuff I need to address, big stuff, not little niggling things like should I wait two weeks to get nail tips so they're fresh for court but now wondering if guitar lessons will be cheaper closer to home and does a Hello Kitty guitar really HAVE to be my first one? And Tae Kwon Do versus Karate......and hey, I can cross my legs now and what's the first thing I'm going to knit when I start taking lessons I signed up for and who's going to be my guinea pig as I learn Reiki energy work and I think after all the freakin boxalopes that Amanda sent me from the Land Down Under with their ridiculous postal costs, isn't it time I sent her at least one freakin thing especially since I shit all over her every time she encouraged me when I was being a whiny snot-nosed brat and Lara and Kitty and Angie had their own crap going on and still touched base and Bridget and Lissa ALWAYS knew when something was wrong and reached out to me and nobody promises you tomorrow. Nobody. There are no guarantees. I won't tell you what to do but I will tell you what I did, which is I had to stop whining and start doing.

So I gave myself a concussion at the gym. Someone who doesn't yet know that he's going to teach me how to drive a stick shift pointed out to me that at least I went and I'll walk six miles this time on the treadmill before I throw up and I'm fucking awesome and brilliant and YES someone is going to adore me and love me and cherish me and be my soulmate. But first, I have to be my own. And that's what I'm doing.

If you see me in a little cafe eating stuffed clams or a Cuban sandwich or some onion rings with a double whiskey straight, you might find me jotting down some thoughts, comparing notes with a server who recommended the mussels marinara or flirting with the guy next to me who just bought me a Belgian White because I really love the orange slices that come with it,  you're not going to see me crying, unless it's for you and you need a hug and a friend.

I'm done wasting time and energy and I've moved on. And you don't have to be psychic to know it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Slept In This Shirt

My recollection, though hazy, is that my sister took it off her warm body and because I was too weak to lift my arms, put it on my shivering body, at my hospital bed.  I treasure it particularly because it came to me at a time of great turmoil in my life and she was one of the few constants. While I was dying, she took care of me. And then she died.

My dad insists angrily that she gave him the shirt and he took it off and put it on me, but the rest of the details are the same. I don't talk to him about how I recall it because he doesn't have much and to discount what he thinks he gave me when he's still putting a roof over my head while I go through this hell (Churchill said, 'Keep going.') and I'm not one to tend to bite hands that feed me although I confess to a nip here and there when someone is spiteful or cranky and take it out on me because I'm in the general vicinity.

Either way, someone who loved me very much gave me the shirt and put it on me.

Also, I remember barely being able to walk, but home from the hospital and going to the wound care center at least twice a week and I was losing weight so fast and in so much pain that it was basically the only article of clothing that was so big it didn't rub me anywhere and it's made of the thickest, heaviest weight cotton and it's got a giant hood and kangaroo pouch and is a pullover, so no zippers to irritate my injuries.

 It was then that people began referring to me in it as a bell, because it was past my knees and I wore black leggings that could easily be pulled up and down as medical personnel worked quickly to assess, measure, clean, cut, cauterize, disinfect, medicate, pack and bandage the holes in my body being ravaged by uncontrollable MRSA, racing quickly like a NASCAR pit-team before the Fentanyl stopped its magical painless wonderland.

 They would see me walking slowly, using the handrail in the hall or sometimes a wheelchair when I couldn't make it and was loopy from the meds or just too weak. I wouldn't let my family see me because my dad was almost seventy and crying, 'My poor little girl' and at that point had already lost my mother and soon, suddenly, my sister.

I would beg my ex-husband to stay the night with me. The anxiety was overwhelming and often, he did but he was exhausted and had to work or lose his job. Sometimes he had to say no to me and I would cry so hard I'd get sicker. Years later he told me he'd wanted to kill himself. It was too much. He was right. It was.

Then the visits to the center became less common and my visiting nurse along with Spouse took care of me at home. I wasn't very functional but stubborn insomuch as I refused a potty chair and no matter how stoned I was from a cocktail of very powerful opiates and muscle relaxants, I made it to the bathroom, even if I had to crawl. Sometimes, though, I didn't make it in time, but mostly I did. There's nothing beautiful about illness. My hair had fallen out. My teeth were damaged from vomiting, and the few times I'd look in the mirror, I saw a monster.

Still, every time I went out, I wore the shirt, a bright red Dickies hoodie, the logo emblazoned across the chest. Sometimes I only made it as far as the front door because of a long bout of agoraphobia. I would stand in the doorway, holding the doorknob, dressed and ready to go, in fact, having made meticulous plans and looking forward to them but break out into a sweat and vertigo.

 I'd cry and be disgusted and disappointed with myself that I couldn't leave, although the door was wide open and it only took a step over the threshold to be outside in the beauty of the day and my whole body would shake in terror. Often, I wouldn't make it. Sometimes I would. And over time, the 'would' became more common and my desire to be part of the world again overcame the fear.

Right now I'm lying in bed, under the covers, with only the light from the laptop. It's been a horrible day and more discouraging than words can convey. Tomorrow I will try again. But right now, I'm in my red hoodie with my red eyes and wet face in the dark. When I was little, it was a book and flashlight, but time and technology waits for no one.

Half of my bed is covered in piles and piles of books and clothing. I like to lay on my side and pretend I'm a little spoon and the pile is really someone warm and loving next to me. A little bag from the pharmacy slips down the pile and a Twix candybar slips out onto my keyboard. I hadn't bought a Twix in years and it was purely an impulsive buy as I hadn't eaten at all today, in my race to accomplish what I could as time and energy would allow. I took the arrival of the Twix as an omen. I take omens seriously especially since I have some prophetic dreams. We should not ignore them. I should eat this Twix. So I will.

Wonton won't leave the room if I won't leave the room, except to potty when she needs to. She won't eat or drink when I'm depressed and I have to force myself to get out of bed and sit by her china saucer and water bowl so she knows it's okay to eat. I have no child; She's my child. When she's done she looks up expectantly and licks her lips. It's time to go back. I make a quick trip to the bathroom. She sits outside the door. If I spend too much time in there, she lets me know she's waiting with delicate and barely discernible squeaking and squawking. 

I return to my room in the dark. My father calls out to me to please eat something but I can't. I lay in bed and I hear a little bell tinkle and feel her scaling Mt. Books About Zen and Many Marble Composition Pads as she makes her way toward me. It offends her delicate sensibilities to walk on my bare legs so she works her way around my personal K2 until she steps onto my rolled up sleeve and kneads my forearm. She licks my bare wrist and begins to purr a melody. I know in my heart of hearts that it's not just for her. She's trying to heal me too.

She's, as my gran describes, a 'one-person-cat'. This dismays gran because she frequently tries to buy her love and Wonton can't be bought. She may eat the delicate morsels of fresh tilapia, but then she winds her way back to my bedroom or, if I'm not home, sits by the door and waits for me.

One would not think she's an affectionate cat. That's because she only showers me with affection when we're alone. In public (ie, the living room), she'll lay nearby or on the back of the couch or chair I'm on, within paw's reach. She searches my face. My father says she's probably hungry. We've been through this before. She's not. She likes the little snackie rituals we have, but she's worried about me. And so am I.

I have big problems. More people have bigger problems. I don't feel I have the right to complain. The problems grow bigger. They can't be ignored. I feel like I'm going to be covered by a landslide. I've been working so hard to work on everything and still they get worse and seemingly beyond my reach. I wrap my arms around myself and feel the red hoodie and the love that it was given in.

Things I have done while wearing this shirt:

Left my husband.

Sat outside with my baby brother in the woods and watched a bear walk up to us from behind him.

Pumped gas into my car for the first time ever.

Had a pic taken of me with my remaining sibling where he has his arm around me.

Argued with an ex-boyfriend over how he thinks it does 'nothing for me' which is code for, 'I can't see your body' and I laughed while he denied it. 

Was told that my brother Donny had died. 

Was told that my sister Lisa had died.

Held my cat Mr Peaches in my arms and wailed when he came to me to tell me he was going to die and then the following day, wore it again, as he died.

Had an epic meltdown after leaving the ex, that made my doctor confront me with the choice of either hospitalization or to see a therapist now. I chose the latter. Best thing ever.

Joined a gym.

Gave myself a probable concussion in the same gym.

Detoxed myself from narcotics.

Lost 430 lbs. over five years. 

Was surrounded by a gang of wild turkeys. I fended them off by laughing at them. 

Slept for three days straight, got up, put on a pair of jeans and went on errands without even brushing my hair. 


Returned emails and texts to people who care about me.

Carried it back and forth to Kitty's house for weekend retreats.

Learned how to use jumper cables in 15 degree weather.

Sat on the deck in the near dark, not wanting to go inside and saw a solitary deer peep out at me from behind a tree.

Played Angry Birds and threw my laptop across the room in rage and frustration.

Had my heart break into a million pieces by a man from another country.

Got over him.

Threw up a hundred times.

Sat on the edge of the bed and sobbed to my ex boyfriend that I had no hope and listened to him tell me not to worry, stop worrying, I'm stronger than anyone he  knows and it would get better and someone would come along and adore me.

Ran outside and got a hot cocoa delivery from the same guy. Who hates the shirt.

Told my therapist that I asked God to forgive me on the way over in case I purposefully drove over the guardrail.

Decided not to refill my Xanax prescription.

Made appointments and plans to continue rebuilding my life.

Ate a Twix.

Thanked my cat and God. In that order.

I slept in this shirt. It's faded from washing, but it's magic to me and I won't stop wearing it even when it's threadbare because it's full of love and hope and the past and my future. It smells like me. It smells like my dreams too. It reminds me of everything I've done since I first wore it and of the few material things left in my life, it's a simple pleasure, a priceless treasure.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

You Don't Know Me

I had spent a lot of late night talking with men online.

I'd been at it for a few years. I was lonely and didn't know what I wanted except that vague, 'to be loved and understood', but couldn't put what were desires of my heart into practice, and words made it worse. I would flounder and end up feeling dissatisfied, hollow and sad.

More than anything, I wanted another human being in the middle of the night to talk to.

A lot of the men were looking too. No...all of them, all of us, were. Are. Why else would we be online if not to connect. Unless....we were doing research. I met a few of them too. They wouldn't admit to it but would slip up somehow...they were doing a paper, they were working on a film, they had a stand-up act, etc.  I was to be their guinea pig or one of several, lucky me.

Thankfully, I caught on earlier so I fucked with them. As dishonest as they were to their motives, they were so superficially comical that I didn't take it personally. It was the friends and potential romantic interests that I felt hurt by the most. People who pretended to like 'my stuff' or worse, tell me they didn't have time or didn't get to it yet but made sure I received multiple notifications and tags of their own offerings. I began to delete with impunity the work of anyone who wouldn't be mutually respectful.

Many of them wanted to talk about sex but sexy talk is so intimate to me that I found it nearly always impossible to interact in this manner with strangers.

Some of them were content to message back and forth on assorted forums and social media. One or two wanted to see me so Skype was the viable option for those I fancied, if distance was a factor. I don't count the streams of men who didn't request but demanded we sex chat, sext, or cam-turbate because I never took them seriously and yes there were one or two I shared a little fantasy with, then logged off and cried, empty, lonely and longing for warm strong arms around me and a kiss.

 How long and how many it took to make me realize the internet wasn't the place for me to find love or even meaningful friendship, not the right fit or medium and the last one in whom I'd seen much more than potential but the genuine admiration and appreciation of his 'now' and he wouldn't be bothered with talking to me without a game or documentary playing in the background or in another window and I felt ashamed and foolish.

I'd broken my own internet rule made after a very public humiliation and had only myself to blame. I cried myself to sleep. Angry that I felt disrespected and unappreciated and undesired by him but enraged at myself for caring what a relative stranger who hadn't even asked me for my phone number, thought.

A few days before, on my late sister's birthday, a holiday, I'd written a letter as a way of getting rid of the old in time for the new year. It was a list of people I needed to forgive, to release and be free myself. My own name was on there. For some reason this man's name strongly came to mind and I couldn't push it away although I reasoned that he hadn't really wronged me. Still, I wrote it down, thanked him for enriching my life and for being a catalyst in revealing further how I didn't want or deserve to be treated, and what I did want in a partner. I prayed and meditated, blessed him and everyone else, burnt it and threw the ashes in the icy lake.

Fast forward a few nights later and we're having our last conversation in which I try one last time to engage him and failed miserably. I finally told him goodnight, that I was uncomfortable and felt bad and I didn't like feeling that way so I'd see him around. He apologized but I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I realized then why his name was on the list. I freed both of us from resentment, guilt or expectation and I was filled with peace.

Two days later, I deactivated my Facebook account.

People will strongly protest that one can only be addicted to a substance that alters brain chemistry and they'd be accurate to a point. However, neuroscience tells us that even our thoughts create neural structures and have the potential to cause (thought into action) bad habits, infinite loops, negative thinking, depressive cycles, etc.  Additionally, our  minds have a built-in negative-bias which means we automatically assume or think the worst and for every negative thought, it must be balanced by five times as many positive thoughts.

Bearing that in mind, my participation on Facebook, was largely positive and I'd chosen over time to surround myself with more and more uplifting, encouraging, positive people and if they weren't as realized as they desired, they were at least trying very hard to evolve into the joyful people they deserved to be.

 I admired their efforts to continue working to better themselves and to do as little harm as possible and they appreciated me. I wanted to attract the kind of person I wanted to be and met via internet, was blessed with, in fact, hundreds of friends and acquaintances, many of whom have touched me deeply with their love and trust, something I don't take for granted.

But I felt taken for granted and unappreciated. Ego aside, we do not live in a bubble of rarified air. We need each other. I felt unneeded, unwanted, unlovable. My friends said, but I need you, I want you, I love you, but they didn't understand that one can feel unbearably lonely in a crowded room.

Part of Zen Buddhism is to let thoughts, ideas and events pass through you, to live in the moment and not be resistant. To even deny a thought was to entertain it, so accept, let it roll and continue to breathe and live and let live.

However, whenever I logged in, I felt shackled to the memory of my mistakes, my flaws and my own hypocrisy. And there were plenty of people who would pounce to remind me of them. Who'd look for any crack in the new person I was becoming. To dissect the hypocrisy in my self-improvement, condemn me for what I'd said and done in the past, regardless of whether I'd renounced or repented.

Reviewing my own actions, I'd noted that every time I felt rejected, betrayed or heartbroken, I'd post sad song links, defiant quotes and inspirational statuses to sooth my wounded ego and I clearly saw the inauthenticity of my own actions and that I was investing too much energy into people or rather the internet persona of strangers who didn't know me any more than I knew them.

Whatever you read here or there (should I return) or in a number of forums, groups and boards, you only see a part of me. What you do see is honest, and funny and yes dramatic and it's all me but not all of me.

If you live with someone for a great length of time like a spouse, parent or child, you'd be surprised if you haven't discovered already by the whole world inside them that you don't know them. You can embrace this truth as something that frees you because it enables you to anticipate learning more, or it imprisons you because you'll never be quite sure and they can always change (or rather, unfold) and that would affect you in some way so imagine what you don't know about the people you interact with in social media and on the internet at large as opposed to people you interact with in the physical world and here I was crying over a stranger's rejection of me.

So I had to stop and reassess. I lessened participation in that which no longer served me. I removed a great deal of what I was able to from those places, like photographs and profile data. I wanted to start fresh regardless of what anyone thought. I couldn't live my life based on the approval of anyone, anymore and that included family, romantic interests, and yes, even friends.

I made lists. What I Love About Myself was a great one. It reminded me of how awesome I am all by myself. Then I made a list of what I wanted to do or at least begin in earnest this new year and then began to act on them. I chose to fill my schedule with as much as time and my energy would allow.

I joined a gym. What a comedy of errors. On the first day after noob class, I got on a treadmill for the first time ever and threw up after five minutes. To my shame I was only walking at 1 mph if my reading the the screen is accurate (very doubtful though). Then, as I was leaving the ladies room, I banged my head on a door and saw stars circling my head and felt the beginning of the lump it would impressively grow to. I left early, making a new appointment for machine training first because I'm driven to keep doing and living even if it kills me.

On the way home, my car overheated. Twice.

I stayed in bed the next day and watched the bruise change colors every time I walked past the mirror next to my bedroom door. I took down the mirror. I felt pitiful and miserable but alive. I'll keep doing because to paraphrase Yoda, '....there is no 'try''.

I miss my Facebook friends. I feel guilty that some have mistaken my account deactivation for unfriending them especially since those particular people who assume are the least likely I'd ever deliberately hurt and I care a great deal about.

There was no big announcement that I'd be leaving because I didn't want it to be perceived as some drama-seeking stunt. I told maybe five people who I knew would physically seek me out, to avoid alarm. It wasn't my intention for anyone to be hurt, to assume they'd done something wrong, because I know acutely what that feels like.

I have to reorganize and take care of myself. There can't be any more tears on Facebook, Yahoo IM, forums, boards and groups, at least, not for myself.

I've overcome a lot in the past two years, and survived a great deal in the past 11. It's no longer a matter of 'it's time' because I've been doing that for a while now. It's a matter of ...Phase II, perhaps. Last year was focusing on inner-health, spiritual, emotional and psychological. This year, that continues but I want to concentrate on fitness, stamina, flexibility, healthy living and participating physically in groups where I meet like-minded people, so I've joined Lightworker groups, meditation groups, am planning a trip to a Buddhist temple, a Universalist church, etc.  I'm picking up guitar lessons and learning to knit and crochet. I want to learn how to drive a stick shift and properly horseback ride. I want to finish at least one book, publish and travel extensively.

I have list as long as my arm and keep finding new things to add. My life really began a year and a half ago. I have court in three weeks and it's going to be a big one and while anxious I also feel unbelievably empowered and it's not just the radiance on the outside. No matter what happens, I'll know that I'm true to myself and growing and changing. I probably will return to Facebook simply because I miss my friends although it's only been two weeks but I had to prove to myself that this is my life and I am what I make of it and not let addictions rule me. I've beaten every single addiction and bad habit I've embraced and won't be enslaved again.

I look at this less as a series of New Year's resolutions that wither when good intentions are forgotten than a period of getting to know me because I hadn't really, for so long.

  This is my life and I'm going to live it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Strange Grace

When death kisses you with icy lips  and turns away, you're left in a void wondering whether you were rejected or spared.

Sometimes you try to get its attention again, flirt and flutter like a moth to a flame wondering fluttering wondering sputtering wondering singeing your wings in futility.

You long for answers that may never come to the question which ultimately and painstakingly is reducted to 'why'.

The longing and pain enmesh into a confusion where there is no fine line anymore. All is vague and gauzy like a veil of only, 'if only'. Of only, 'if only'.

The exquisite pain of a first tattoo, first love, well...many firsts indeed and quite a few simultaneously our last and yet many of them the gateway to more of the same and more and more and harder, stronger, deeper, longing for meaning where there is none except in that vague veil of faithless faith and meaning sought in suffering. Someone said to me yesterday, 'My joy is my tears, they're my oldest friend' and my comprehension needed no interpretation or narrative.  The fire and the ice, tiny bites and gaping gouts of life flowing and ebbing, trying to make sense when in your despair, you seek it but know there is none yet it's better than the numb of nothingness.

We all hide from something. There are no exceptions, only degree and variation. I think for most, it's unfaceable, indefinable, unfathomable, yet enough feel it and recognize it in others' eyes and decide to acknowledge commonality or deny its existence.

Hiding from life, my poison, my method, wasn't easy and, in fact,  replete with bad choices based on worse reasoning. I hid to protect, to insulate, and defend but it made me more of a target and object of vilification and contempt.

I had a little friend (not so little, but young as me, then) who introduced me to cutting, self-harm, self-mutilation. and it brought deep pain to the surface, agonizingly blissful in release. I etched a boy's initials into my forearm. Thirty years later, my friends still remember his name. I dragged a wire from a soiled mattress across and around my wrist, gasped with welcome and fear and now sitting at a bar, in the near dark, drinking something more anisette than espresso, I can still see the faint fine delicate line like the vines I doodle unthinkingly and while I agonize about revealing my scarred body to the next man I may love, this one and a few others I consider an artifact of my history and as artful as inkwork, chosen and rendered by me exclusively, not the consequence of some catastrophic accidental complication of illness. I turned against my body as opposed to my body turning against me. Semantics or control?  There is a strange grace and extraordinary beauty in ritual that transcends reason. does one begin to speak of someone one wishes to honor? Have you ever composed a eulogy for someone you loved more than your next breath? Have you ever attended the memorial of someone with countless friends yet only one attended, their grief was so unspeakable? Have you flirted yourself with the void so the surprise doesn't come as a shock to you?

How do I honor the dead or more directly, the one who some would say committed a most supreme act of selfishness? Even blood relations insist they thought only of themselves, rather than those who would nearly drown in the wake of their act. They can't comprehend which to that one departed soul, life is the more insufferable choice which you yourself have considered. That you will never reveal to them. That it's not romantic or ritual but only release.

My brother was a sensitive. Not emo-sensitive, not an affectation or attention-seeking drama royal. He was an introvert who appeared relatively social to many, even very close to him. One would have to spend years at his side to sense a vulnerability that he hid so well.

His endless stream of friends would tell me what a great guy he was and I'd smile because most of the time, he'd sit on the floor, cross-legged, with a cushion in his lap, rocking back and forth, listening. Thinking on this now, people speak of him having uncommon wit and wisdom but none once noted he spoke rarely. He was content to be present, think, and tinker.

Having a talent for taking things apart and putting them together, working better than when they were new, and with parts remaining, he repaired everything and often did it to unbroken things just to see what was inside and if he could do it. He always could.

He took other peoples' refuse, bicycle parts stand out prominently, and built new ones and resold them for pure profit. I'd find him surrounded in his mini-shop in my parents' garage like a small messiah with a sizable crowd of disciples. He was truly humble and waved away any mention of a gift, wisdom or talent.

If anyone raised his ire, no matter what he said or did, whether he was right or wrong, the other person never failed to apologize profusely and request to reenter the fold they were never driven from. It was a sight to behold. But to his own family, he was as invisible as I was. A prophet in his own country....what is that verse? He was very nearly worshiped except by his own. We understood each other. Without words.

He wasn't always gentle but he was profoundly gentle.
He wasn't always kind but he was genuinely kind.

Even as children I believed his soul was too good for this world and I watched helplessly as it devoured him through depression and drug abuse until he succumbed while still in his prime. He never knew his value. I hope he believed I loved him, at least.

He was so overwhelmed that he needed to dull his own senses. It started with weed. Then he had a friend who gave him something else, then dealt him more, then another friend, and as he began to rapidly lose weight (he was always slight even when chubby) I realized he'd graduated to cocaine.

He was severely injured in an accident in which he was a bus passenger and having lost his job and his apartment, he moved in with our father who was grieving over the recent loss of my mother and sister, so had no room in his heart for love, but only a roof to provide shelter.  There was no peace between them, no solace. There never had been, since the day my brother, named for my father, ironically, was born, strangely. Inexplicably.

My brother spiraled into a depth of depression neither I nor his erstwhile wife could break through.  He too was distraught over the loss of our mother, but my sister's sudden death threw him over the edge and his smiles became rare. He spoke less. He drove his friends away. His lucid moments became rarer too and bursts of angry denial over his abuse of prescription painkillers drove a further wedge into my already crumbling marriage while I was slowly recuperating from a debilitating illness.

One evening, I got the call and realized I would never hear his voice in this life again.

In the mausoleum that is my former home, just inside the master bedroom door, to the right, there is a mahogany jewelry armoire.  It's an object of profound beauty and once contained treasures of profound beauty but now it stands empty save two bottles in the bottom compartment behind stacks of small empty boxes.

The resident of this tomb may or may not recall their presence but they contain relief temporarily, or irrevocably, depending on one's intent. For a time, they allowed me existence without unbearable pain but barely functioning and when my sister died, I forced an end to our easy relationship and stowed the bottles away for........for insurance. For.....just in case.

Then, my idea was if we were to be without insurance or medical care, I could still have some relief but the fog of that relief didn't allow me to grieve for my sister. I didn't know that I'd reach desperately for that relief upon the death of my brother, not even two years later. I didn't know that another event would take place which made me hold a third bottle in my hand and stare in the mirror thinking I had no future but I would indeed. I saw it in my own reflection, in the light in my sorrowful and soul-weary eyes. The light that told me that I would know joy and love and peace again.

I put the bottle down and packed it away.

I left that lonely house with it. Again, insurance, but I never took one again and in fact, as a symbol of faith in myself and my future, I took a heavy can and crushed the pills into a fine dust.

If I like, I can ask my doctor for a prescription or even very easily illegally obtain the same means of relief and release but I've passed through that gate and it has locked behind me forever, for which I'm unspeakably grateful.

I don't know why my brother and my sister left this world so young and without hope. I don't know why I've endured so much as they and find the faith to remain and desire desperately to flourish.

I'm no more defiant than Lisa nor more analytical than Donny that there is a definable reason for it except perhaps to honor them and share somehow that if I can survive, anyone really can yet that seems so canned, so pat, so preachy. But still, if I could.

I couldn't save them but I could save myself. I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I did.

Death comes for all of us eventually. Sometimes it touches us briefly and we'll never know why and sometimes it's to remind us to treasure the now because tomorrow is not promised.

Once I believed it had rejected me, like everyone else I loved most. Now, I see that I was spared and the depth of suffering was not pointless but to enable me to experience and appreciate the beauty of life, no matter how fragile or short. We are all given grace and sometimes it takes the unspeakable to comprehend the measure of it. Sometimes, an entire lifetime.

Wuv Twu Wuv

I didn't know she existed. He'd *just* told an ex-girlfriend of his after I left him that it was best he remain alone because he knew he was fully responsible for the demise of our marriage so imagine my surprise that he was hot and heavy with someone and so soon.

 Not that he told an ex, which was obviously supposed to be communicated to me (I forgot to block her out of all the mutuals my lawyer insisted I unfriend, so at least it allowed me to completely close the breach and I reassessed my security settings as well). But one day I log onto FB and moments later get a notification that some stranger with no mutuals has subscribed to my profile.

 The timing was serendipitous. I thought it was some chick who thought I still played Sorority Life and clicked on her publicly open profile (better fix that, chica) and in ten seconds saw a display of pics of them together in clinches and typical lovey-dovey poses I don't recall ever once doing with him. Ah yes...he hated the camera. Oh and wasn't much into PDAs and uh....holy shit was she ugly as in hit by a truck (no offense to accident victims or trucks everywhere) and lo and behold, larger than life, a jpg of something about her never ever EVER being unfaithful to him unlike SOME people. And I laughed and blocked her.

I felt a little nauseated. He'd been telling people I was unfaithful. I guess he had to dream up something that made him the ultimate victim since he didn't have any gunshot wounds or gaping gouting holes in his head from the pickaxe in the garage but the truth was he was a sociopath as in certifiable. Not only had I been faithful, but he hadn't touched me in any meaningful way in four years and screwing someone on the side, but to this day a year and a half later, I'm still pristine and nearly cherry. Not even a solitary kiss from another.

So I mused on this after blocking this woman and tried to put myself in her shoes. There were photos of me all over the house (I left it all behind, all of it) and she had to be curious. I mentioned her name to a few friends because I was incredulous but I didn't stalk her. I can't say my friends were as noble. They stalk her to the nth degree but I tell them I don't want to know.

I'm not so noble. It's just....she has nothing on me. And I left him. If they found each other in the same dumpster, who am I to stand in the way of wuv twu wuv. Whatever access she has to me (my blog, forums I frequent, etc.) I don't mention her, well....except here, for posterity.  I think that's what she's looking for and my life started for real the moment I left him and she's just a shadow in the corner of my eye.

Now they're engaged. I used to pray that he never have an opportunity to hurt another woman again. Now I hope she has the brains to find a good lawyer when her time comes. Or maybe a defense attorney. Heh.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ocean Between Us

A friend had written me a letter mentioning that they've noticed how much I've changed in my photographs. They asked me about myself, how I was doing, what I was doing and although I've written much of it here, in this blog over the years, I wanted to share my reply because through so much heartache and yet also experience and wisdom, while there is often an ocean between us, we're only only breathes apart.

Dear Friend,
There are a few things about me that you should know if we're going to keep talking. I'm very raw expressing my emotions and thoughts and it can overwhelm people even if those thoughts and emotions aren't directed toward them, ie; I'm telling them a story about my life and it's powerful and makes them think of their own failures, accomplishments, flaws, strengths, loneliness, etc., so I just want to give you that caveat if we're going to continue to chat which I really do enjoy.

That being said, as much as I do share, there is a whole world inside me that I don't because I trust people in increments because of bad experiences. It has less to do with trusting them as it has to do with trusting myself with their reaction and whatever follows once I've trusted them, if that makes sense. Will they accept me? Will they embrace me? Will they judge me? Will they love me? Will they disappear? Will they reject me? Will they misunderstand me? Can I trust them with more? Will they trust me?

I've had to come to terms with the fact, for example, that all I've wanted my entire life is to be loved. I was an abused neglected child. I was treated brutally by family in front of family and no one stopped it for years. I was told to not 'feel' and yet I 'felt' and when I did, I felt guilt and fear too, so there is guilt and fear attached unhealthily to many emotions. I work on cutting those cords and the negativity carried over from my development and then adolescence. I want to feel pure undiluted joy without fear of losing it and to be completely loved without dread of being abandoned and I came to the conclusion that would never reach any of those desires, dreams and goals (and many unspoken here) until I realized a few key things:

#1a You have to love yourself fully first. You may find it very easy to love others automatically but many of us don't love ourselves at all. Love yourself.

#1b You are loved, loving and lovable, no exceptions, ever.

#2 You have the right to exist because you were born and the right to be loved for exactly who you are so go back to #1.

#3 Whatever happened to you when you were a child whether it happened to you or you witnessed it or were immersed in it is not your fault.

#4 Whatever happened to you when you made poor choices, may not be undone but you can find the lessons and gratitude in them and you'll be freed by knowing that some of the most horrible things became gifts. This can be very hard to digest but it's part of processing so it's okay to not be able to handle this one right now.

#5 You can't embrace the future if your arms are full of the past.

#6 It's okay to have feelings, emotions, urges and even over-think and analyze everything. Feel them and think them. Accept that they're a part of you, fully. Embrace them, really. And knowing THAT, move on with the reassurance that you can revisit them whenever you need to or they spring up unexpectedly. Don't deny them because they're part of who you are. Go back to #1 and read it again.

I was born Roman Catholic and when I was about 15, my mother who was very domineering decided the entire family had to convert to fundamentalist Christian. First Assemblies of God, a branch of pentecostalism to be exact. I was the most reluctant in the family as I was more analytical and rejected their very unscientific (to me) beliefs. I was also trying to create boundaries with my mother especially and my family in general because of the past and because they didn't respect me as an individual in ANY way, even the most basic ways. I contributed to the church community in some ways to appease my mother and because they were enjoyable things like running the crying room (church nursery) and singing in the choir, doing specials (solos) during services and performing in plays and musicals.

 My family was deeply entrenched in the church community which alarmed me. My mother was in fact, a board member and they invested a great deal of time and energy into controlling the private lives of church members and participants and their families. I was eventually thrown out by the pastor for not being submissive to basically anyone they deemed was an authority and/or male. I was relieved. I can't say that I felt anything spiritual in Roman Catholicism except the spirit of community and the beauty of ritual and history and in fundamentalism, I enjoyed the music, the fervor of others and in every religion, the beauty of faith.

When I had no faith at all, especially since I left the ex husband at the end of August 2011, I was able to have faith in the faith of others. It was all I could do. It was enough, though.
I would ask people to pray for me when they told me they were a believer or a Christian or even a person of any faith. I was angry at God and told him I didn't know if I believed in him and even denied my belief in him and I raged at him that I didn't trust him, I didn't trust a patriarchal system that made me a second class second thought by virtue or failure of my sex and that I had prayed for a godly husband and was given a brutal cold man and in fact had remained a virgin because I truly believed in keeping my vows even before I would meet my husband-to-be and here I was married to a man who never even kissed me. I was married to a man for ten years who didn't even touch me.

 Oh I hated God.

I laid in bed at night and there was an ocean between us. I asked God to make me a better person, a better Christian, a better wife, a better woman, a better human being, for years.

I didn't know he was a feeder when we married and his intention was that he wanted me to get so fat that I would be so immobile I could never leave him. He admitted it gleefully. I was married to a sociopath.

If I had known up front that he was a feeder, we could have worked it out but that he was sneaky and manipulative about it and took joy in my illness and discomfort was beyond my comprehension. In the same time period, my mother, my godmother, my only sister and my baby brother died. I was so sick with a horrible illness, my ex was told to make funeral arrangements and I was starving myself. I was sick for so long I have no memory of at least six months of that time period.
When my sister died, I stopped taking the narcotics I needed for pain, cold turkey, and although I was violently ill, I wanted to grieve for her. As my head cleared and I became more lucid for the first time in about 2 years, I realized my marriage was over and if I stayed with him I would either die or kill myself.

I would lay in bed at night asking God to free me. Every night, the ocean between us, my husband and I, and God and I too.

On the night before my brother's burial (both he and my sister died suddenly) my husband brutally sexually assaulted me while pretending to console me. I was in shock and pain. I was ashamed that I thought he wanted to show me love after years of rejection so I didn't even think to call the police. Instead, when I went home (we were staying in a hotel near the funeral home) I took a bottle of 120 Percocet and was about to swallow the whole thing when I looked in the mirror and said, No. He's not worth it and I am. I put the bottle down and called a friend and met her at a Dunkin Donuts and she gave me the number to a domestic crisis center and a lawyer and I carried those numbers around with me for a few months as he became more openly controlling and abusive, and now in public. I was a shadow of myself and a friend who would visit to check on me and never gave up on me said that I was like a beautiful butterfly that was losing all her color and fading into dust.

In the middle of Hurricane Irene, I had the flu. We had lost power and I was sick and on the couch and he walked past me and threw a flickering flashlight at me and told me he was going out to hang out with his buddy and he left me alone in the cold and dark, sick and with no food, water or plumbing. My friend texted me that she was coming to get me but that the roads were blocked and I told her that I was leaving him in the morning. The following morning I packed what I could and told him I was going to my dad's for a few days until the hurricane let up and power was restored and I never went back. I've never been back to my own house. I've never returned for my things. I only see him in court (now he brings his fiancee') so he and his lawyer can scream at me why I'm not getting my belongings and how they're going to throw them out on the street. And his girlfriend screams how I'm holding up their wedding and I think about how he's telling friends and neighbors that I was unfaithful to him and to this day I still haven't been touched by another man, to this day, to this day. And he's engaged.

So why am I telling you all this?

To get to the spiritual parts and to tell you that I relate to the overanalyzing and obsessing and baggage, family and relational.

To say I don't judge and in fact you might be reading this and am horrified and now thinking to yourself, Well, crap. I haven't been through anything this bad and now I feel like shit telling her my story, venting and unloading when it's nothing by comparison. It would be a completely natural feeling and I'd suggest you just feel whatever and let it pass. Friends let friends vent and we're friends, I think. Or at least, I consider you a friend.

The point is that if I can reach a point through all that (and so much more) to love myself now and have hope and faith, peace and happiness, anyone on earth can and that includes you. It isn't too much to ask for, friend. It's what I pray for.

I believe there is purpose to our lives and to our existence in this world, this universe. I believe in a higher-power although maybe not so much more of a Patriarch God as a loving benevolent energy that has unlimited abundance and wants us to have it too. I believe that when we feel alone and afraid, it isn't God or Universe or Spirit that's pulled away from us but our own chaos and confusion that makes us feel isolated, even though he or it is right there all the time. I believe in angels, I believe in goodness. I believe that there is evil but that it's an absence or void of goodness and that our love can overcome it.

I meditate. I find truths in all faiths. I find faith in people of faith. I don't idolize or put people on pedestals because it's so fucking lonely being on a pedestal, I know what that feels like. I'd rather be loved, to be honest than to be gazed upon like a painting in a museum, beautiful, genius, don't touch. I'd rather be accessible. I still want love. Now I have the faith to believe it can happen because I trust myself more. I love myself. I forgive myself.

There's so much more I could write but now I feel like maybe I'm venting so I'll end this here now and leave it up to you to message next. Looking forward to it.

And if it is overwhelming, it's really okay. I do understand. It's very powerful, isn't it. It's both a blessing and a curse, I think, this ability of mine to express myself. Kind of like a hurricane.