Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't feed the Beast.


 Today is a sad day. Our world got a little smaller, a little more broken and there is an overall sadness at the loss of yet more young lives. I understand the anger, the helplessness and the despair. I can feel the trap of frustration and rage beaconing me. I must resist. All the feelings of pain will not change anything. Feelings of loss, of powerlessness are natural at times like these. Yell out if you must. Cry tears of rage and anguish. Fall to your knees with the weight of it all and then, get up. Wipe away the tears and ask yourself "what can I do?" How can I channel these emotions and make something good? Rage is a wildfire that cannot differentiate between that which is worthy of our wrath and that which is not. We must acknowledge our feelings and then craft a way to make things better. Please do not let your words cause more hurt or pain. Hate, when fed doubles it's yield. Love when nurtured will give back tenfold. Choose to love. It is not easy. Nothing about life is easy. I will mourn with you. Those who where lost are worthy of that honor. I will pray and reach out to my own children and to my friends. I will try to be more gentle in my responses to those whom I do not always agree with. I will work harder to love more. Because what happened today, this horrible tragic deed, is bad enough. I will not add to that. This is not a gun control issue. Do not place your soapbox on this bloodstained ground. Move along. Light a candle, say a prayer. Do something positive. I am seeing far too much hate on both sides of this debate trying to co-op this event. Stop it. If you cannot simply give support to those effected, say nothing. This is not about your belief's. It is not about an agenda. It is about children whom will never  open the presents, lovingly selected and beautifully wrapped under twinkling Christmas trees. It is about parents and spouses whom will not be at the dinner table tonight or any other. They are gone. We are less for their lose.

  This was not the blog I had planned for today. But, I am moved to speak to this. It is with sorrow in my heart that I learn about each and every victim. It would be so much easier to turn away. To say it is too much. Too sad. That I cannot stand to know any more than the vagueness of numbers and places. That would be easy. It would however not be right. Because these sacrifices to one man's crazy mattered. These souls that now flash across my TV screen are important. And I understand the desire to be angry. I have been there. It is too easy to wrap ourselves in anger, as if it is a great comfy blanket. Letting it muffle the true feelings of grief and pain. So great that it feels like it will swallow you whole if you do not cover your heart with anger. But that protection all too soon turns into a prison. I have lived there. Wasted years of my life feeding that ugly beast. I have puzzled at the desire to snap at slow cashiers and give a snarky remark to a surly attendant. I have embarrassed my family with a quick flick of my tongue. Dripped venom on the world and been surprised when I get the same back. I was on autopilot. Answering every encounter with a false indignant air. I have harmed and hurt so many. Strangers and family alike. So comfortable had I become in that tent I had pitched in the valley of anger. I had made a little home there. Planted flowers that could never grow there. Everything dies in that valley of darkness. Anger is a cancer that will eat your soul. Please believe me, this I know.

  Turning to anger when you are hurt is like placing a puss filled maggot invested dressing on a fresh wound. It will not heal. It can only become infected and vester. Until it controls your life. Let yourself mourn. It is an honest emotion, and oh so necessary. Acknowledge your pain, whatever the source and then just as you would a leaky pipe, fix it. Stop the rusty water, before it soaks your life through. If you cannot remedy the injury on your own, reach out. You are not alone. And if it will still not stop, turn off the source. Whatever is feeding your pain, let it go. It is not what you need. Anger is insidious, a black mold that will invade your life until the only solution is to burn it all down.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Mystery Called Faith


                                                A Mystery Called Faith

  So, I have been thinking of this for sometime. I so want to make sure I get this one right....let me try

   I have been thinking a lot about what faith is. What is hope and how do you find it and more importantly hold on to it. You can not buy it. However, many try to attach a dollar amount to it. Hawking it like a snake oil salesman. I have seen hope packaged in jars and pills in books and in those past days tapes. It is always the same "do this and you will get that".  It is a falsehood a counterfeit.
Hope and faith are not found outside of you anymore than happiness is. It is within you. I can feel you balk. I know. I have been where you are. So sad and broken. Lost and surely forgotten that I just knew there was no way out of this mess that had some how become my world. So different from what I had planned and dreamed of. I was obsessed with how I had gotten it so wrong. How had I ended up HERE? I have asked myself that so many times, with no answers to be found. But now so far from that shallow port of regret I have my answers. I drifted in the current. I let myself be drawn off course, and then pleaded astonishment when I washed up in despair.  The truth is I had to take that journey. I had to spring a few leaks and do a little bailing. It was in those times of frantic chaos that I learned I was in command. That this life was mine and I was firmly in control of it, or not. That it was all up to me.

  I think I was born with an extra dollop of  faith. I have no idea where it came from. I just know, I always know that whatever it is it will change. Life will turn my way. It has to. I will accept no less. You are not defeated until you choose to be. I look at what I have available. A warm afternoon, a good book, a dear friend and loved pet and I hang on to all of them. I look at my broken life one piece at a time and just like a puzzle, one of those really hard ones with lots of pieces, I start fitting them and refitting them. Piece by piece I rework my journey. Because it is a journey and I will not stay on shore. I must go out to find my dreams. My hopes are not to be found in a lotto ticket or a long lost relative. No, I must do this. It is exciting. The possibility of it all. The idea that I can live as big as I can dream as long as I participate. As long as I seal up those holes with wax and ride with the wind. That is a key. A special secret that no one taught me. I learn everything the hard way it seems. If the wind keeps blowing you off course, it you cannot out pace the storm, turn around. Look at your map. Ponder your course. Something is not right. Something must be changed. Everything that has brought me to this place, HERE with you, has been for a reason.

  I could not understand other's pain and struggles if I had not had my own. I would be some vapid useless being living in a self involved world with no advice or knowledge to impart. What could I possibly know? I am at peace with my life. With where I have been and where I am going. There have been things mourned and things lost. That is the way of life. Everything has added to shaping who I am. Who I choice to be. That is hope. That is faith. I do believe in a higher being. It matters not to me what name you give for it. It's power does not come form a name. It comes from the very fact that it is so. I would not wish to live in a place where I am the highest form of life. When this is the greatest level to be achieved. And so I hold on. When life gets hard, I have always held on. Knowing that whatever it is will pass. That there is a solution to every problem and that the sun will still shine warm on my face.

  It is hope and faith that bring me through. Every time my head says quit, it is too hard. You cannot do this and my body bends from a pain that no medicine can cure, I feel it. It starts very small like a small itch just beyond my reach. It will not let me fail. No, it says. You cannot quit.. It reminds me how far I have come. It does not line up my woes. No, it knocks them all down and says "they are gone, now what excuse do you have" And that inner voice that is fed on faith, sustained by hope says more. It calls me a little girl, which has always been the best way to get me on my tiptoes to prove I am big enough. That voice knows just what to say to get me to take my eyes off myself and to remember that I am no one's victim. That I am not a quitter and I deserve love and happiness, but that I will have to work for it. Going through obstacles is what we are here for. To learn new skills and to hone the ones we already possess. To change what we can and to make the world better for us being here. There is no talent in running a tally, a mental inventory of every flaw or misstep in other's. In shooting out darts tipped in poison, in an attempt to lessen the toxic pain in my own heart. Sharing your hurt only doubles it, but in sharing your love, you triple your return. Invest wisely. You will reap what you sow.

  Be still and listen. Find that small voice inside you. The one that says you can. That you will. That child that still dreams and nurture them. Encourage them, love them. You will be rewarded. Faith is very easy when things are going your way, it is when things get hard. When you hit the bottom so hard you skin your heart and your tears run like blood. That dear reader is when you pull out hope and faith. Faith in yourself, faith in others and grab hope too. They travel together. Hold on tight. Invite them in and bid them stay. Make them welcome. Give them no cause to leave. Do not listen to anyone or anything that says you can't. It is a lie. The negative thought is always a liar and a thief. It will steal your dreams, your hope, your life. Do not allow it. Make it hard. Put up a fight. And when you have no more battle left in you, look for that child's heart we all have and hold on. Stand firm and believe. Everything changes. You can have your dreams, you must simply get up and go find them. No one hand delivers them in this world. So, clear your thoughts, wash your face and look at the child you once were in the mirror. Give them a smile, they are counting on you. And see the possible looking back in those child's eyes. They are waiting on you. Love is a balm to heal, faith is an undeserved grace and hope? Hope is the magical voice that whispers " all things are possible. Get up. You have things to do."

 Love to you dear reader. I hope you catch my meaning with this one. YOU are greater than you know and unless you push on, you will never have all that you desire.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Just Breathe



  If you are on my facebook page you know this has been a surprising and a little scary week for me. I had planned to write about wonderful things. And I still will. But first I must release these words that have been swirling around in my head for the last few days. My wonderful daughter and I had planned a day of shopping. It is that time of year and I love to go see all the decorations and get into the Christmas cheer. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. I have had this chronic on again off again cough. Enough to be annoying, but I have never really worried about it. Then I noticed that my hands had a blue cast. I thought I must have rubbed up against something and washed them and did not give it another thought. That was sometime last month. When the blue of my hands appeared more often, I did what anyone would do. I googled that nonsense. So, it appeared that I must have Rayuand's Syndrome. Nothing serious. Just keep your hands warm and move on. My doctor agreed and when I mentioned my cough, she said it must be post nasal drip and sent me away with a prescription for a cure. I went off to a small vacation in Florida and never thought another thing about it. Until I started getting bluer. I mean purple. It was embarrassing. People would notice my hands right away and I would try to make light of it. I really just did not want to talk about it. I knew it wasn't Rayuad's by now and I was pretty sure what it was. I have always had issue with my lungs. First it was called asthma and bronchitis. Then pneumonia. Every two years or so I would get good and properly sick.

  I knew the way of this and it irked me. I tried to push it away. To not see what was right in front me. Just like a small child I thought if I refused to acknowledge it, it would not be so. But of course, just like that child and their wishful thinking, reality was waiting for me. It caught up to me during that shopping trip. What should have been a fun day of shopping and lunch turned into a chore. My steps were heavy. I was so tired and blue. Very, very blue. I was light headed and out of breath. I had a banging headache I could not shake. I so wanted that day to wonderful. I love spending time with my children and now, with our grandson, but I just couldn't shake this feeling of fatigue. It was a medical intervention. My husband, who was out of town called to check on me. We were driving to another store or something and he rang me up. I put him on speakerphone and listened as he and my turncoat daughter plotted against me. There were stern words and may be a few well placed threats. The gist of it was simple. I was going to the ER. And for once I did not argue. I hate hospitals. I am not a fan of the medical field. I whole heartedly believe that YOU should go whenever need be. I however, do not feel that that sentiment should apply to me. I believe a warm bath and a nap can fix most things and when it comes to my health, I live in denial.

 No more. I am not going to recount all the tests and bloodletting. It was a tiresome enough ordeal the first time around. I have no desire to relive it here. The results were not great. I have emphysema and my blood vessels constrict, which is what is causing my headaches and also some heart issues. I cannot tell you the inner turmoil and anger I am trying to process. You see I have lungs of a heavy smoker and yet I have never taken more than a drag or two off someone eles's cigarette in my whole life. No, I was never a smoker. My father was, he was a four pack a day chain smoker. Benson&Hedges Menthol smoker. He would drive around with us in the car, a vintage blue pinto and puff away. Never opening a window. No, he believed in getting the full affects of his smokes. I am angry. I must work it through. I am no one's victim and I must process this information and find a proper mindset. My mother called me, while I lay in a hospital bed. Between breathing treatments and coughing fits. With a blazing headache and purple digits and I did not answer. I could not. I still cannot. I am hoping writing this here will help. I try never to stay angry. It is pointless and destructive and it causes me to be someone I do not want to know.

  I will find another way to look at this. I will. I will read all there is on the subject and go back and read some positive uplifting words and I will get through. I cannot fix this. I cannot make it better and someday it may be the end of me. I do not mean to be maudlin, but when I decide to face the truth I do so with no half measures. So, what can I do? I can write to you my lovely friend and say, do not smoke. Please if you do now, stop. I know it is difficult, I do. But you know what is a greater challenge? Trying to draw breath with the air seeming to be either too thin to reach your lungs or worse yet, so thick and heavy it feel like you are taking in syrupy liquid. It causes a kind of anxiety I have never felt. There is a large weight on my chest and I cannot get out from under it. I wake up coughing and gasping and feeling claustrophobic. I am not the fearful type. I am the charge ahead, do not bother me with your facts kind of person and I will be with this as well. Hopefully very soon. First I must mourn. Mourn my parent's choices. Their indifference and unyielding need to be self indulgent. I will figure this out. I will make something good out of this. And in a step into that direction I say again, please stop. And if you cannot, do not do it around others. Smoking kills people. Innocent people whom never chose to be a party to someone else's poor decisions. I know it is hard. I know there are withdrawals. I understand. But you know what is harder? Trying to breathe when your lungs have been compromised by someone else's choices.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Night Watchman



  I do not know when I first realized my mother did not like other females. I remember when I was five a pretty blonde woman moved in next store to us. She was tall and thin with long, flowing hair. I was enamored. I never spoke to her, I was not allowed. Looking back, she must have been in her mid 20's b and my mother hated her. She called her "that stupid broad".  I did not understand it at the time. I do not believe my mother ever had a female friend. None that I can remember. Every female was met with the same hostile apprehension. It was about my father,  I know that now. He could not be trust around any female no matter her age. It must have been exhausting, the keen eye she was constantly compelled to impose on herself. A sort of night watchman constantly making the rounds. Endlessly casting a jaundice eye upon other women. Clearly she wore blinders. There were things she simply refused to see. She simply refused to accept the reality of her world. She made herself inwardly small as she grow outwardly large. Never seeming to connect the two things, her marriage and her weight. And her never tiring suspicions. There is a part of me that even now, feels a sadness for that ghost mother I barely remember. The woman child who had a rough and tumble start and just kept tumbling. Everything she grasped seemed to slip away and she hurtled on into the deep well of despair where I cannot reach her. I am sorry for who she became and who she could have been. She limited herself, folding herself over and over. Sacrificing her children, her happiness and I think her sanity to the ideal of a perfect love that never was. And so in that slap dash editing of reality there simply was no place for friends. Friends could not be trusted. They may steal from you. Because that is what people in her world did. First one daughter and then another taking from her. That is as far as I can possibly peer into that deep hole that my mother occupies. I can not comprehend the  thought process that brought her to that dismal conclusion. My ship can not venture into that place. And in truth I have no desire to understand that land so filled with puss and fevered thought. When I do ponder her life though, I doubt she ever had many friends. Growing up the oldest of six and responsible for her mother's brood. There could not have been time. And of course her early voyage into motherhood only set her further apart from her peers.

  Being a pregnant teenager in the 1950's must have been akin to having leprosy. When my first, then husband and my own pretend friend betrayed me, it hurt. It was very hard for me to take in the treturous acts of those whom I had placed the most trust in. I did not give trust easily and for a time I too took up a watchmen's post. Thank goodness this was before cell phones and text messages. There was no internet to further send my own suspicious mind reeling. I spent a year or two marking that path. Watching the clock. Constantly working out the time needed to get from his work to home, from the house to the store. Allotting ten minutes to get in and out with milk in hand. It was jarring. In the end I simply could not do it. The constant side glance and listening at doors. I became angry. Not just with my then, husband, but with myself. That is not who I wanted to be. I was changing myself, sneaking and lurking and in the end I just was not up to the task. I let him go and I vowed I would never, never allow another person send me on that path to unrest and mistrust again. I still get a little twinge now and again. For a moment here and there I wonder about motives and other's intent and if I can not find peace within myself then I let that person go. It is a very easy choice. I can be miserable alone. I do not need someone else to make me feel less than.

  I ran into a little trust issue this weekend. All in all my small vacation was full of opportunities to try and hone my skills in dealing with others. Which is something I am constantly working on. My first challenge came in the guise of praise. Beware those that give praise too freely. Their lavish use of language lets you know exactly how little they value words. A new reader found me here. I do not know the hows or the whys, she just dove in in the middle of our tale and rummaged around. This happens sometimes, someone will peer back at all those blog entries and just decide to pick a random spot and move forward. When they message me, and I know most will, to ask how this happened, or who is this person? I always send them back to the beginning. It is far easier on both of us. And so just like before, I thanked this person and sent them back to the start and waited. She quickly messaged back. She was excited and fairly glowed at her wonder of my story. I started to get uneasy, but I thanked her and appreciated her kindness. But, she was far from done with me. She messaged again, my story needed to be told. People NEEDED to know this. I explained my process of nipping and tucking and learning to make this simple blog into something more. She wanted to help, she wanted to share me with her readers. That is right, she too was a blogger and she had an audience. I asked her to send me what she thought she would like to post, as she made it clear just pointing her readers here was not enough. Of course she would. She wanted to help me. Now, I got that last message at dinner on my phone and it worried me. I prayed for our entrees to hurry and get served because I knew I needed to get back to my laptop. This was supposed to be a nice dinner. My husband and I had looked forward to it, but I could not concentrate on the warm bread and candlelight. The crisp linen napkins and fresh flowers only irritated me further. I tried to act interested, to enjoy the company of my best friend to no avail. I shared my concerns...I pulled at the clothe in my lap. First wringing it and then smoothing it flat.

  Peng tried to make me feel better. Assured me it would be fine. I was worrying for nothing. I had never felt this before. I am not territorial by nature and so I tried to hold on to this wise man's words and just breathe. Sometimes when you have the feeling that something is not quite right well you are unfortunately correct. I passed up my Husband's offer to do a little shopping in order to get back to our hotel. I had my laptop booted up in no time. Instead of the message she had promised, there was a notification that she had posted to my facebook wall. I little annoyance crept into my mood. Just a flicker at first. This was not what we had agreed upon. But I clicked on her little link and went to her blog. Reading aloud to my husband. My mind racing over my life presented in someone else's words. Except, they weren't her words. Now, let me just cop to the fact that I do not read and reread my blog entries. If you have been here long, you know that. I write it and may share it with my hubs if he is around and then I hit post and move on. I have more things to say. So keeping that in mind, looking at this rewrite of a blog I had written over two months ago, probably 40 entries ago, I got the feeling This was too familiar. There was too much of my own phraseology in her story. And then there was a short paragraph which was word for word my blog. I was uneasy. I messaged her and then I commented on the blog. I gave a link to my blog. And I stewed. I read and reread her blog. I reread my own. I was not happy. I asked a few trusted readers to give their thoughts. I may be overreacting. I did not wish to be rash. That little spot in my brain, which most assuredly had been shrunken could not be trusted. I need a consensus. It came quickly. With a loyalty and a love that I am as yet unworthy of I received messages.

  My readers were no more happier than I was. In fact a few were even more angry than I had been. And so I sent another message. I explained to this blogger that I appreciated her exuberance and passion, but not her execution of my story. I had already written it. I was not looking for a rewrite. She seemed to hear me and i thought that that was that. I tried to settle into this mini vacation my husband had given me. And yet I could not. I went back to her blog, one last itme before going to sleep and there it was. More of my words this time chopped up. Sandwiched in between stock photos of strangers . Sentences had been moved around facts reversed. I was angry. Beyond angry this was my life. It had taken me years, decades to pour this all out and someone had stolen it and reworked it? And there at the bottom of her entry that was all about a version of me a counterfeit copy of me. Was her plan. She was going to write an entire section all about me. I was too stunned for speech. Words that I usually find so easily would not come. That is always bad with me. It means there is a storm ahead. And indeed there was.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Naked

 
                                                             Getting Naked

  Many things have been going on lately that have both tested my new found resolve to change my ways. That is to be expected I suppose. If it were easy, I would have been doing it all along. Somedays, very slowly I creep back into my victim role. That cloak of despair I have worn so long. It is frayed at the seams and tends to drag on the ground behind me. Picking up dirt and bad moods as it goes. It is almost a comfort. That robe of shame and misery fit so well. I had come to think of it as apart of my identity. And wondered who I would be without it. An outer shell that kept the world at bay. Yes I wore that dingy piece of clothe as if it were a work of haute couture. Letting it flow around me as I moved through this world. It was a warning and a symbol of martyrdom. It was all that I had achieved. How sad of me. How incredibly limiting. It took so much time to see it for what it was. I cannot believe how the years have flown by with me clutching it's stifling cocoon of fear and blame. Someone had done something to me. I was a wronged party. So ready was I to take up that label of victim that at the mildest of slight I was off on a rant. Looking over my shoulder at that reeking heap of ill fitting clothing, I cannot believe I ever carried it with me. How could I possibly have a happy healthy future if I did not let it go. It had become itchy and torn, smelling of anger and vindictiveness.

  No, I would have to let it all go. I would not donate this cape of victim, I will destroy it. Burn it in a symbol of my moving forward. There are going to be days when my feelings get hurt. When things do not go as I planned. So it is with everyone. I am still so new at venturing out into this world and dealing with others. I am still learning to navigate relationships. I must stop thinking like a victim. No one does things TO me. They express themselves. They are on a journey as well. I must remember that. I am so used to thinking that I am the only one off kilter. I tend to fall into the mindset that everyone has had a wonderful life. That things have gone well for them and that they do not wear their own mantel of blame. I am learning to take myself out of the equation. To look at others words and actions and instead of seeing how they affect me, I am noticing what is says of them. What flick of truth can be gained by a few spilt words. The ones that were dropped in anger. Those that rain down to create a pool of hate. I do not have to go wading in them. I can choose to walk another way.

  So I stand here and wonder, what do I have? I must lay down my armor and now my cloak. What does that leave me? I have been pondering this for sometime. Looking at things to achieve after you are issued your platinum victim card. And slowly, it came to me. I must strip it all away. To move forward into a better life, I must take those painful things and lay them down. They go on the mound with so many other things that hold me back. My temper, my cutting words, I must put them all on the funeral pyre and light one more match. It will be a glorious fire. One to put the burning man to shame. I can close my eyes and imagine it now. So much hissing and spitting coming in waves. The last attempt at clinging to me as the flames vanquish their power. I must remember this exercise. Draw on it as need be. I have always thought these things made me strong. The quick wit that I so easily let rule my life. The sarcasm and joy in pointing out other's flaws. They made me feel better somehow. To see that others where no more happy than I. Misery does indeed love company and I seemed to be the hostess of the Grief Gala. Oh yes, I loved to hear of another's misfortunes. It underlined my belief that this world was not for me. That is was bad and wicked and that I should stay as far from it as I could. I barricaded myself in a self made cage. I lived in a darkness that I had constructed. And in this mental state, it seemed to me that everyone was out to get me, to do me harm.

  I was always looking for the catch, the string that when pulled would reveal a person's try motives. Such a painful sad time I had. It was my own doing, I created this land of shadows. And only I could leave it behind. My list has changed. I have always carried hope, we talk of that often, but what else? Clear vision, would be needed. So that I can tell when someone else is in pain. When I could be the casualty of another's biting remarks, instead of slicing back in my own defense, I must see them as they are. A soul who feels they still need their armor. I will give them safe passage. If I can not lighten their load, I can certainly refuse to make it heavier. I wish you well today. Know that people will hurt you. Some intentionally, but more often it will be an accident. One misplaced word rubbing up against a tender spot, yet to heal. Let it be. See the scared child behind the grown up face. We are all trying to get through life. Many of us have no charts and only a leaking boat to get us there. I must remember that. For me to be the person I have in mind and to get to that place I still search for, I must first be naked of all forms of defense. And I must help others mend their sails. The secret to happiness it found in helping others find theirs. Such a magical discovery. Try it. Pick one or two people and inundate them with praise. Give love with no expectations and we can change this world. I know we can, we are doing it now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The "F" Word



   Years ago while still married to a vision of a man who did not exists, holidays were awful events. It would alway have me in tears at some point. It did not matter if it was a birthday or Christmas, the tears were sure to appear. Like an uninvited guest they would lurk right at the brink of falling, coloring my day in heartache. My then husband went out of his way to bring them on. He could not seem to help himself. Or rather, he refused to try and control his own anxiety and took it out on those who loved him. I had always loved this time of year. I was captivated by the promise of what was to come.  I think that somehow mad him worse. I would start playing music Halloween night and I kept it going through Christmas night. I loved the packages and boxes. RIbbons and bows were always magical to me. I have very few memories of Christmas growing up. Or really any holiday. My parents were not the holiday kind of people. When we were very young and lived near some of my mother's sisters we would spend the day with them. It was a trying ordeal. The sisters would fight and be catty. Each of them worried more about the behavior of the other's children and not at all interested in their own brood. This created tension, as first one child and then another would be called out for something or nothing. An attempt for each sister to show the other's parenting skills were not up to par.

  We all just tried to stay out of the way. Presents were compared and I remember so clearly at the age of five my aunt taking away one of my gifts because her daughter had not received the same one. She put it high on the mantel promising I could have it before I went home. Well being just five, of course I was crushed and later forgot that special toy behind. I woke up the next morning and realized that it was gone forever. Mourning that Makeup Barbie Doll as if it was a life long friend. I knew it was gone. And indeed it was. When I asked my aunt for it on our next visit, she said it had been lost. The one item my parents had chosen to bestow on me and it had been taken away from me. I would come to see presents or the lack of them as a measure of how much I was or was not loved. Birthdays were incredibly painful. Any time that gifts were to be given I would try to shore up my feelings. Raise my armor high. Because chances were very good that there would be nothing for me. My parents just did not believe in spending money on such things. And so when I married, of course I chose people who continued that long line of pain that comes from the realization that you were not important enough for a special token of love. I tried to bury the hurt in the creating the perfect events for my children. I loved to make their birthday special and would go in to debt to make sure that they got whatever they wanted.

  I would cook for days. Flitting around in a world held together with hope and denial in equal parts. I knew I could have that dream life. The one where I was loved and needed. Where my husband was kind and there was plenty to go around. A place where there would be enough. Of course, it always feel apart. I would plan and plot, working on making that perfect Hallmark holiday and reality would break through all my carefully constructed pretend world. My husband would forget to get me anything. Or even worse, run to the grocery store and bring back random cheap gifts. A plastic jug of milky bubble bath that smelled odd and refused to produce suds. Or a pair of tacky slippers which were three sizes too big. He would hand me the plastic bag that they came in and walk away. That was his idea of Christmas or birthdays. I decided that I would much rather have his words, so I started asking for just a card and a few thoughts. Again, it was too much to ask for. And I always ended up feeling forgotten. My children however were marvelous gift gives. I got breakfasts in bed and the most wonderful hand written cards and notes. I kept them all and when times are hard, when days are just too long I reread them. Pulling love constructed of colorful craft paper with glitter and ribbons. They would remind me of what was important and that the best gifts come from the heart not from any store.

  When I was in my twenties, I still tried to maintain the semblance of a normal family by going to my mother's or sister's for brunches and dinners. It was horrid. I would be filled with anxiety and walking on egg shells. There were always fights and I rarely escaped unscathed. I was so determined that I was not going to be treated poorly. I had had enough bullying and mean remarks and I went looking for excuses to cut down others with my words. I brought a great supply of ammunition for the war that was sure to take place. One of my sisters had been married to a very mean man. I cannot do his capacity to be cruel justice here. He would call my sister fat and lazy, stupid and ugly and I would watch her bow her head and tremble with my rage. I would take a long swing at him with my own weapon of choice. I would remind him he was unemployed and also fat. My sister had just had a baby. What was his excuse? No one else ever intervened on her behave. It was as if we were living a continuation of our broken childhood. My father had been replaced by an equally abusive person and no one seemed willing to remind this new attacker that his behavior was not to be tolerated. I would get blamed for stepping in. For standing up to him and for not just ignoring it. But I could not. I would look at my sister, older than me and yet not. Looking at the floor. Trying to hide the tears that flowed down her cheeks. I just could not stay silent. My child had instilled in me the need to protect others. The need to avenge those who could not defend themselves. It made me the warrior I became. And there always seemed to be a battle raging. After just such a run in while warming the car to leave my oldest sister's house, it came to me. My son asked me why we came to family get togethers. We were all miserable and could find no joy in the day spent in a house full of strangers who just happened to come from the same gene pool. I could not give him a good answer. I did not know why we had to do these things. And that settled it. We made a pact, my children and I. We would not come back. We would make our own special days. We made our own traditions. Special days were spent with those we loved and who loved us in return. When my son was six or seven he started binging me a card and kitkat for every special day. Now, at 24 the Kitkat is larger and the card is store bought and I treasure them greatly. There is something about this man who is still so much my child handing me chocolate and an envelop that says simply mom with a heart that just makes me smile.

  I always thought, back in those years of too few dollars and too many expectations that money would cure my sadness. That if I could just buy fancier things or better food then all would be well. I was oh so wrong. It is not the size of the tree or the presents under it that matter. No it is the love around it that matters. Who we spend our time with and what we chose to say. That is what makes the holiday season special. And family, that most dreaded "f" word, is whom you chose to include into your life. Whether they are there by marriage or birth, friendship or neighbors they can all be part of your family. I pick and choose now. And I have never been happier. I wish for you peace and happiness this holiday season. And if like me, you are filled with apprehension at the very idea of dinner with your family, change that. You have the power and control and you decide what your world looks like.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Your Soul Print


                                                           Your Soul Print

  I have spent my morning pondering a new though. An idea that may not be so novel, but it is a very recent way of seeing things for me. With all the attention being given to what we are thankful for this month, I began to consider those that have most greatly affected my life. There have been big things and small. People I know so well and those I only catch a vague glimpse of, before they pass on in their own journey. And so I began to say thank you. Writing a few words down to show that I saw them. That they mattered and they had changed me in some way. It has been a wonderful exercise. It has reminded me how rich my life is. How grateful I am to so many who may have no idea that their quick, unguarded kindness touched me.

 And as I began this trek of the thankful, I realized I was leaving something in my wake. I had not intended to. I was merely giving what was due. I started to hear back. Little messages echoing their own thanks. And I started to contemplate the footprint I leave. I am used to hearing about my carbon footprint and ways to lessen it. I have good days and bad days in my efforts to take up less. To have a lesser impact on this Earth. But not, on this world. I must leave as big of a soul print as I possibly can. I am still learning that I can change things. It is part of victimology that lead me to believe that my voice did not matter. I felt I had nothing great to offer. In short I felt extremely small and powerless. That was not a great place to be. It is a limbo sort of no man's land of despair. So, I had to find a way to change that. To own the spot that I inhabit. It is what I was made for. What we were all created for. To leave as small a ripple in the well of sorrows and as large a watermark on the world. I try everyday now, to pick a few people and tell them that they are special. To tell them the things we all deserve to hear. And the greatest thing has happened. My spirit is lifted. I am at times overcome with love. It reminds me of another time. When my world was always dark. I was always angry. That boiling rage that could not be reasoned with. The place that is so raw so deep that it scared me. I remembered those shattering moments where too much was destroyed far too quickly. A wild. burning forest fire. Leaving blackened, smoldering devastation behind. I had somehow found the mirror opposite of that emotional storm. I had found a spiritual peace.

  I have never had this before. My life is not perfect. There will always things that need to be improved. Some on the inside and others on the out. But I have fallen magically and deeply in love with the idea of trying to fill as big as space as I possibly can with love. With kindness. That is what we are here for. Now, I am not always sunshine and light. And every time I leave my house it seems that this new found love affair with life is put to the test. Today was rainy and grey. Our skies have been made of rippling steel these last few weeks. Cold and damp. That always affects my mood. Edgar and I started out to run a few errands. I stopped in a drive through. A quick lunch on the way to important things. It should have been so simple. As I rolled down my window I was hit with cold rain and an unfriendly wind. And...nothing... I waited. One minute, two minutes....I said hello? A snappy voice hollered out for me to "hold on!" and so I waited. The water coming in and my good mood being drained out... there were no other cars ahead of me and the parking lot was nearly empty. I fleetingly wondered if they were being robbed. Then I wondered if I was being punked. A full ten minutes and counting I spoke up again. And as that same cranky voice bid me to wait, I watched another car that came from another lane behind me speed in front of me. I was stunned and then yes, I was pissed. WTH? I am sitting here with my left side soaked waiting for this disembodied voice and she had taken another order and then had that person pull up ahead of me....really? I gave over my order and finally closed my window. I pushed up the heat and tried to muster up my very best eye of evil.  As I pulled up to pay this voice with a death wish. And I had to talk myself down. Yes I was hungry. Yes I was now drenched but this was not going to affect my long term life. I really was fine.

  This was a first world problem on the highest order. And so, I put the bitch away. I handed over the cash and gave a friendly smile. It was not returned. Whatever had caused this teenager who owned that cranky attitude was not changed by my attempt to be kind. Even Edgar could not coax a smile from her. And so I passed on. I left her and her bad mood right there and I did not carry any of the irritation she had raised in me. I let it go. A dark mood is a kind of virus. You can catch it so easily. I am highly susceptible to this particular ailment. And so I must use care. I must practice this new mindset until it is second nature. Until the day comes when my first response upon dealing with a difficult personality is "I wonder if they are okay?" instead of "don't be such a bitch to me".  To see it as an issue with them and not an attack on me. Then I will finally stop thinking like a victim. I will own my life outright. Everyday is a new chance to practice this new skill set. A chance to love with abandon without expecting anything in return. To treat others gently. We are all travelers. Nomads looking for our own version of Nirvana. Some more successful at finding our destination than others. I must learn to remember to just let them pass by. They do not need one more hole in their leaky boat. The biggest challenge, the greatest task is to love regardless of circumstances. To fly the flag of peace and simply sail on.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Get Your Finger Off My Trigger


                                            Get Your Finger Off My Trigger

   Many years ago, when I was married, still trying to fit someone else's version of who they thought I ought to be. There were difficulties. Now, this is not remarkable. The world is filled with such things. But, this was me and I am nothing if not a pleaser, a fixer. And as I tried to solve this group of issues that were plaguing my then marriage, I was stymied. I could do nothing to make things better. I am not one to take failure easily. And so, first we, my then husband and I, talked to friends. Couples we looked up to. The answer was simple....I was not the problem. I was the trigger. The issues were not mine, but my than husband's and he was reacting to things that I did inappropriately, because there was something in his past that needed to be addressed. Now, the person I was then, the one who was fearful, who felt everything that happened was because I had done something wrong, could not be placated by the idea that my husband's temper that was taken out on me, was not also caused by me. It was a time of magical thinking. When I thought if I just followed the right pattern, stayed true to the prescribed recipe, happiness would be mine. In short, I had to be responsible. Now, there is a touch of the victim in that kind of thinking. But what there is far more of is a desire to control. That mystical thing I had never had, or rather never realized I possessed.

  And so, we took our friend's advice and we went to counselors. Good ones and bad ones. One after the other. In succession. In an effort to stop the turbulence that ruled our home life.  Everyone, all of our friends and each counselor gave the same useless proclamation. I was not the cause of my husband's unhappiness. I was merely the trigger. I grew to hate this phrase. I was not willing to see beyond how his behavior effected me. I was stuck in a victim mode. I did not care that he had triggers, whatever that meant. I cared that he was mean to me. That is what needed to change. He needed to be nice to me. It was a very selfish mindset. My then husband would say that his parents had ignored him. I countered back with, "I wish my parents had ignored me." I could not relate to his issue and I had no desire to. It was all I could do to keep myself afloat. To take care of my children and my husband. I had nothing left over for this man's struggles. Well, time went on and little things became big things. A trip of a trigger lead to the death of a marriage. Taking so much hope and so many dreams with it.

For the longest time, I learned nothing. The autopsy was inconclusive as far as I was concerned. Oh, there were underlying causes...indifference, cruelty, abuse and abandonment. But the thing that had set it all in to motion, I had yet to identify. Looking back now, it is plan to see that there was no other option than a painfully slow death. There were no support systems, no fail safes, merely a haphazard pile of fears and emotions. Longings and lonely feelings looking for a salve, some healing balm. Each of us thought the other held the cure. The solution to our long drawn out illness. We were wrong.

  The key, the cure was within us. We are all given the answers to our own special puzzle. We must seek them out. We each, are the greatest mystery that we will ever solve. No one else can do it for us. That is the secret. No one can be all things, fulfilling all needs. It cannot be done. We must learn ourselves. Learn our triggers. Instead of lashing out at those that trip them, we must neutralize their power to send us reeling into past that never changes. A place where we always lose.  I had to learn so much, about my own sensitivities. My own soft spots and to acknowledge that other people had them too. I had to look past myself. If I so chose, I could blame that myopic vision on my parents as well. While it was true my father was indifferent to everyone else and my mother was a platinum victim card carrying extraordinaire. This however, would not do. I am responsible for who I am. For what I do and how I treat others. I may have not been given all the tools needed to naturally adapt to other's needs. I may not be able to identify triggers in others. That however does not give me a free pass. And waving the victim card carries not weight in such instances. Oh, I could delude myself if I so chose. I could make everything about me. When clearly it was not. It is part of that victimology that we all try to overcome. That need to make everything that happens around us, about us. After all, it effects me and therefore it must be about me. Such a flawed circular think. It is a very childlike way to process the world around me. To see everything only as it related to myself. I am almost ashamed at my self-centeredness. My ability to make everything about me. But it was the realization that the world as I perceived it needed to expand was what helped me  remove most of my own triggers. Those little land mines that I would stumble across in my daily life. A raised voice, someone standing too close to me, hearing a child cry out. These and so many other things could ruin my day. Send me into the dark place of my memories. If was breath taking, how easily I could slip back into that place. That time where I was so small, so broken. It was amazing. Exquisitely painful the details that came rushing to me. Things I had not known or remembered a moment before, were now seared into my memory. In all those occasions of floating, I had been tricking myself. Thinking that if I went somewhere else, left my body behind, that things could not touch me. I would be unharmed. I was hiding within my deepest self. But those things still happened. Refusing to acknowledge them did not make them less real. And so they seeped out. Slowly, taking over my mind space. Stealing my peace and leaving me forlorn and depressed.

  I had to give them their due. I must acknowledge what was and to accept them. And in doing so, any power that they had fell away. The linchpin was broken. That which had held my experiences now to those in the past became separated. I can experience the present without the echos of the past invading my mind. The things that have happened to us have only as much influence as we allow them. This is one of the secrets of solving our own special puzzle. Mark it down. Remember it. And the next time something or someone sets off a chain reaction sending the past careening into your present, take a breath. Realize that it is only an echo. A shadow that once had meaning and is now obsolete. It cannot touch you. Unless you give it permission. Do not give it purchase. As always sail on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The blame Shifters


                                                            The Blame Shifter

  I have been spending some time talking to other survivors. Those who are still unsure of their journey. Afraid to head out and full of self blame. It breaks my heart. To hear over and over their willingness to take the shame of the acts committed against them. That somehow, children are responsible for adult's behaviors. I remember so well, my mother's jealousy and accusatory stance. I never really bought into the fact that I was bad, or that it was my fault. I did believe that I was not lovable. But I never really thought that I controlled my father. Indeed I realized early on that I had no control. It can cause such a self loathing. This idea that we cause these wicked things. It is an absolution of the abuser and a condemnation of the victim. There by completing the victimization of the child. What a perfectly evil thing. To do life long harm to an innocent and to make them believe that they were the cause. That it was their fault and that the boogeyman is helpless in the child's presence. It is so exquisitely diabolical. A time bomb set to go off continually. Destroying that one small life, over and over again. What a rich and exacting poison. Slow acting and long reaching. Laying waste to all that is good and pure.

  You must cauterize the wound. Stop the seeping blackness that will creep into your entire life. Denial is no cure. Throwing up walls and barriers will not stop it's momentum. No, you must see it for what it is. Lies. Lies and slander. It matters not who the messenger is. Mother, father, priest or friend. The label that would be placed on you is not yours. Let it fall at your feet. Step beyond it and ask why? Why is this person telling me this thing? Usually, it is to divert their own guilt. To assign blame to another. Pointing fingers at the weakest. Taking the victim and making them the villain. So perfectly evil and self serving. It is so exactingly cruel. I have been repeating that rosary of faith.."you are not to blame, you are not bad, you are not alone..." There was a time that this would have made me angry. Indignant with the abuser who still found ways to inflict damage so long after they have last preyed upon their victim, the damage still echos on. My anger would be absolute. Someone must pay...I was a one woman boogeyman hunter. And there is still a place for that. There is still a need to bring them to bay.

  But the harder thing, the thing that takes the light right out of the world somedays, are the victims. The story tellers. The truth seekers. To look at the damage inflicted. To take stock of the sheer brutality of the fallout and to try and convince a bent and broken child, caught up in the body of an adult, that they are not to blame. They had no control. It wears me out sometimes. It is a simple truth and yet so hard for some to accept. I suppose it must be similar to when children blame themselves for their parent's divorce. Somehow a need to take responsibility for the failures of others. I struggle with finding the right words to help them see the truth. The correct technique to it. A blanket set of words that will illuminate the obvious flaw in their thinking. Many times I hear how adults blame children for another adult's behavior. I personally experienced this myself, so I should not be surprised and yet I still am.

  These pedophiles, these vampires who suck out all the joy of children and replace it with a seething venom. It colors everything. Age does nothing to dissipate it's potency. In fact it seems to distill itself with time. To ferment into a deadly mix of self loathing and loss of worth. No amount of words seem to help. There needs to be some kind of transfusion. A constant IV drip of love and acceptance. A continual dosing of esteem. A prescription, an antidote to the evil laying siege to a child's world. There must be a way. A solution to this life altering mindset of condemnation. It is as if the very fact that they were children was part of a crime. That they are such puppet masters. With the ability to cause grown adults to do the most heinous of acts upon them. This of course, defies logic. But emotion and logic can be strangers living under the same roof. Never acknowledging the other's existence. It is something left over from that tortuous childhood. This desperate clinging to a guilty verdict passed down upon oneself. A child's mind that believes in magic and make believe.

  A grown up would know better. If it were all laid out, they would come to the natural conclusion that the monster hunted the child. And not the reverse. It is as if, in a bid to feel something other than powerless, they take ownership of crimes against themselves. In a child like circular think, they refuse to relinquish responsibility for their own abuse. I have heard so much of this lately. "If I had not talked to him" "if I had not been naughty" "if I had not let myself be alone with him".....Victims who would rather paint themselves as villains, rather then admit that they were helpless to protect themselves. Helpless to stop their abuse. I wonder at it. Why? Is it so much better to believe that they harmed themselves then to realize they had no choice. It is a sad puzzle. I will continue working it....picking up one piece and then another...trying to find the right combination that will help others see the shame shifters for what they are, soul stealers. Preying on the innocent.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spring is Coming



  I woke up to the sun this morning. It was supposed to rain all week. Well, I am so happy to see the grey is gone! I am filled with love today. Everything is not perfect in my life. There are things I am still working on and projects I need to tackle. Things I need to do better. But this morning reminds me Spring is coming. The grey of Winter will pass and there will be a time of rebirth and growth. I have decided to start early. I will make this the Spring of my life. I will exact change and move beyond my comfort zone and venture out to expand my world. If you are feeling down, if things are not going your way, take heart. Stop repeating the hopeless litany of problems you have no answers for. Life is not a complicated equation. An unknowable formula based on a theorem. No, it is not. If you allow yourself to believe you have no control. If you believe you can change nothing, you will be filled with despair. You may not be able to change the big things today. Start smaller. I challenge you today to uplift at least one person. One person who needs a kind word. A strong shoulder. Now, some of you will think "that is so easy for YOU to say. You have no idea what I am going through....Or who will lift me up? When is it MY turn?" I understand that thought pattern. I have been where you are. The first thing I will tell you is that when you help someone else, when you lift someone up, you also ascend out of the gloom. You too, get a blessing.

  I believe this in my soul. I have been so low I could not lift my eyes too afraid of the devastation I would see. My life in such tatters and so forlorn that I just knew not existing would be better than the pain I felt. My soul did not even have enough hope to call out for help. That is bottom. That is Winter. And if you hang in there. If you find a way to hunker down and just get through, Spring will come. Winter is the hard time. The mean season. Where your heart is desolate. When the days are long and dark. There is no sun to warm your face. No sign of growth or change. You can become tricked into believing that this is all your life will ever be. That there will never come a time for your worried mind to rest. Trust me. It will come. Your Spring is coming. Under all that cold ice and bitter cold, hope lays slumbering. And because it is so quiet, because it does not glow in the barren landscape, you think it has passed you by. That somehow, you missed your only chance. For love, for success, for happiness. You are wrong. Put your hand flat against your breast. Stay that way for a moment. Do you feel that. That steady rhythmic beating. That is your reminder. you are still here. As long as you are here you can change your life. You can have more. You can be more. You can succeed, where before you have failed.

  I received an email today. A response to my query letter. My very first reply. It was three short lines. That is all. A very nice agent, at least her note was nice, told me no. That my story was not quite what she was looking for. And then there in that last line she lifted me up. She told me to keep trying. To keep at it. Not to quit. Now, of course I would have loved for her to take one look at my words and fall in love with my message. To find value worth perusing. I wanted a Hollywood story. But of course that did not happen. And you know what? That is just fine. I am so surprised that I was not down. Reading those words only made me smile. Why? Because it meant I had tried. I had set a course and started my next adventure. I may be hundreds of no's away from that one yes. But today, I am one step closer. I am one no down from the last one. Because I will not give up. I will not be deterred from my goals. No one is going to hand me my future. I must go out and make it happen. And because others have done it, I know it can be done. And if it can be done, then I can do it too.

  If you are in your Winter, and you can see no light in the distance, If you and hope have become strangers, reach out. Find something, anything, that will give you joy. I am not talking about winning the lottery joy. No, I mean the always assessable kind. It is in the smell of babies. It is finding extra money in your coat pocket. Start there. And know that every day brings you closer to your own Spring.  What doe your days  of sun look like? What would you love to do? Do it. Start now. Every day to one thing. One thing to bring you closer to who you want to be. No one will hand it to you. No matter what you have been through. No matter how hard life has been on you, you are going to have to do it. It is not a matter of what you deserve. It is a matter of how you believe in ourself. And with that in mind, tomorrow I will construct another query letter. A better one. Crafted better. I will make my case. Because, somewhere in between the very first day I clicked on publish that first time and now, I realized....I am a writer. I will be an author. I do not know the hows or whens just yet, and that is fine. I will keep leaving you things here. I will keep sending out little arrows of promise. And someday I know, one will hit it's mark. The sun is peeking through and I can see green beneath the frost. Spring is coming. I can feel it in the air. Can't you? Spring is coming. Get ready.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Rosary of Truths


                                               The Rosary of Truths

  I have been puzzling through something. While writing this down, I have met so many new people. I have been added to groups all over the world. I am humbled and honored that someone would read my words and think enough of them and by extension me, well...it is awesome. I had been invited into some wonderful groups for survivors of every kind. And I had witnessed people in all stages of healing. I had talked to some who are still in the shadows. Afraid to be seen. Believing they were no better than they had been treated. I had talk to those who believed somehow they caused their abuse. That they were bad. That they deserve to be treated poorly. It breaks my heart. I tried so hard to coax them. I would say all the things. The truths I knew. Like a rosary of beads made of my words. One round, smooth orb for faith, one for innocence. Another for love, for hope. I ran my hands over my keyboard. It was almost a ritual by now. I knew what I would saw without thinking. I had it down to rote. A never ending message of absolution. I issue no Hail Marys. No, I stuck to "You are good, you deserve to be loved. To be protected. You are not alone. You were a child. You had no control and always, always, it was not your fault." It wrung me out sometimes. Trying to reach through space to a broken soul. I wished I could hold their faces in my hands. pull them close, so they could see my eyes. Until they believed. Until all the hurt and pain and lies had been blotted out.

  I, as always, am going to have to find a balance. Some live so far away. On other continents. In other time zones. My days are their nights. They wake to message me, as I am thinking that it is past my bed time. I cannot ignore them though. If I hear that tell tell sound of a private message coming in, I reach for the phone and then the laptop and so another morning is ushered in. With me squinting at a glowing screen washing over my living room. I sneak upstairs so as to not wake up Peng. And I ponder. How do I say it differently? How do I switch it up? What combination of words will hit home for this lost child. In the beginning I would just post a link to my blog. One that fit their needs. And I realized just how many entrees I have created. How many words I have sent out. It has been such a blur. I look for one and am reminded of three others. But as much as I plead, as often as I try. They want more. They want my personal words just for them. And they don't realize I set them down here for them to find. I left a map. But they want a GPS. Turn by turn directions on their very own journey. I fell for it at first. I became the navigator on so many boats. Hopping one to the other and back again. it became dizzying. To try to remember, the who and the what. Was it their stepfather? An Uncle? A boyfriend? Frantically I would page through their messages. Trying to fix in my brain what were their circumstances. Balancing on a tightrope. Over a large body of water, teaming with sharks, looking to make a meal of my misspoken words. I feared I would be called out. That they would remember what I had told some other sailor drifting too far astray.

  I became frustrated. And at times slightly annoyed. It was not their fault. They were exactly where they had been abandoned. Like a derelict vessel, waiting to be scuttled.  I would spy their flare in the dark. I am just one. I handed out life vests and extra lines. Read this. Repeat that. I was becoming an encyclopedia of survival. A living "How to" manual of the art of the rescue. I went from my own little boat to a Coast Guard vessel. Trying to cut through waves and gales. To break sheets of ice that where deep as their years were long. I knew I was missing some. I would glide by so quickly. Trying to scoop them out of the surf and place them back in their own boat. To get them to remember that they were the captain. That this was their journey. I tried to mend sails as they cut the rigging loose behind me. I handed out paddles. Oars. Some would not move. They were crashing on the jagged rocks near the shore and they would not be saved. What could I do. I would leave little missives. That seemed to all start the same way..."Listen....Please LISTEN" Laying out the case to set sail. Thinking that they had agreed. They said that they had. But no, in a day or two I would spot the red light slowly arcing in the ether. And double back again. Pull out that strand of knowledge that had become my manta.

  I must accept that some will not be moved. They are stuck too firmly in their own conviction of the child who will not heal. So blinded by the certainty that they are not worth saving. Condemned in a world of no hope. It breaks my heart.  As much as I believe that it will get better. It can always get better. We can all move on from self loathing and blame. Erase them from the map. And hate, vengeance, self abuse and despair. As much as I try, bargain, beg...I cannot hasten them along. So, what have I learned from this? How am I going to sail forward while still helping others? I am still grappling with this. I will keep sending out messages in bottles. They will float here. Waiting for you. For the others. Reach out and take what you need. Pass on those that you suspect are destined for another. I must reconcile this truth. I can only rescue me. I will try to leave the right provisions. The ones to see them through. I will try and make this into something more. Accessible to anyone who might send out an S.O.S. But in the end, you must find your own sea legs. Take your own wheel and set sail to your own destiny. Come sail away.....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Watch Your Step


  So I was out and about today. Running errands and being productive. While I was taking care of some paperwork at a help desk in a store I frequent often, I came across a clerk with such a sour attitude. You know the kind. She was radiating unhappiness and a bad temper. She was snappy and gruff. Asking the same few questions and not listening to the answers. Caught up in whatever was causing her turmoil. I took a half step towards the bitch that lives inside me. She peeks out wanting to get involved. To set this woman straight. But I did not. I took a deep breath and let her spin. I used patience, I do not always have and I bit my tongue. My temper was not needed. My ability to be a bitch on a grand scale was nothing to be proud of. And it would certainly not help this situation. I smiled as I handed her the forms. When she tersely asked for the money needed to finish our business. I calmly, with a nice smile pointed out that she was already holding it in her hand. I had given it to her with the paperwork. She said nothing. Just continued in her bad mood and I let her. I thanked her for her help and wished her a good day. She did not smile or answer me. And I left it at that. I do not know what dark valley she is standing in and I cannot bring her out. But, I do not have to shove her down. I do not have to add to her  mean season.

  I am growing. I can tell. I have always been quick to take up armor. The first to slice deep into an aggressor. I used  to say often. " I am not going to let anyone out bitch me" I had been through so much and I was not one to take a passive approach. I am not known for letting someone else attack me. No, I am usually the one who would say "you work in costumer service, act like it." Or some equally abrasive thing. But there is no great gift in returning in kind another's rude behavior. It is nothing to be proud of. And those few short moments when I would have felt vindicated. That I would have smiled inwardly for thumping her right back, are not enough. You see every time I land a blow, no matter how well deserved, I feel guilty. For days I will chastise myself.Angry that I let someone change my behavior. Upset that I stooped down to give a smack. Even as it may be warranted, it is wrong. That is not who I strive to be. that is not who am.

  Now, last week I had another chance. And that time I failed. I said something that was misinterpreted. By a few people who I thought knew me better. I tried to explain my meaning. But to no avail. I got hurt and then angry. How could I be so misunderstood? I was upset that someone would think so little of me as to even think what I was being accused of was even remotely possible? I was offended. I felt attacked and hurt. And then a few people, the really smart ones that I know, they gave me support and wise words. I knew they were right. I had been faced with a person who do not know me at all questioning my motives. Accusing me of a very mean thing. One that had never crossed my mind. At first I took their opinion and tried to think how they could ever believe that I could don that itchy, ill fitting personality that they had picked out for me. Coming from the place I came from, I seem to take everything to heart. I had t regroup. To remember no one else defined me. That the image they are projecting is a reflection of them. Where they are, what they feel and that it has nothing whats so ever to do with me.

  I am still working on things. Everyday is another chance to hone my skills. To be kind when it is not easy. To stay calm and not get drawn into a disagreement I do not wish to have. The hardest thing to do is to control the one thing we can control, ourselves. I am learning to walk away from conflict. To not  attend every argument I am invited to. That is a very hard thing. I have been fighting my entire life. What does a warrior do without a battle to wage? I must become that peacemaker I always wanted to be. I will keep my armor at arms length. I do not need to wear it always. I do not need to protect myself from those that I love. It is a very big "tell". That constant weight that draws my shoulders down. The pain is right there. So easily seen. That in it's self is reason to lay it down. The one thing that every abuse victims strives for is to blend in. To hide that scars.

  So, I will keep at it. I will try harder. I will not look for conflict. I will give more leeway. These are the things I must practice. I must become an expert in the art of peace. I am fluent in the language of war. It is no great talent. Wielding my words, so sharp and cutting. Comes so simply to me. But words have power and while I can damage so quickly with them, I do not have the power to heal up that wound. The one I create with a careless lob of ridicule. A badly placed remark. They can ruin so much. I am always astonished at the effect they have. I will walk more carefully. Gingerly picking my way through this world filled with so many others who are hurting. I must be careful were I place my feet. We are moving forward. Walking into a new day. One with less pain and more love. I hope you will come with me. All I ask is that you too watch your step. There are so many ways to misstep. Lets have an adventure, shall we?
 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baring Witness



  My heart is filled with sorrow today. I am watching the devastation so far from where I live and yet so close to my heart. While I have yet to visit New Jersey, I fell in love with New York the moment I saw that beautiful place called Manhattan. I had tole myself that I would not. I was not going to be one of those tourists that wandered aimlessly, moon eyed by all that they encountered. I have never been more wrong. The beauty of it all, the food...oh goodness the food, the people, the shopping, Time Square, Broadway. I was a goner the moment I gazed upon that magical place. And so, as I stayed up much too late to watch the water pour in, carried on an unforgiving wind, I cried. I watched the water rise and the lights go out. I could do nothing. I prayed. First, under my breath and then as I became overcome by the images, out loud. I was tired and wrung out when I finally laid my head down. It was well after midnight when I tried to shut it all out and find a peace in such hard times.

  Upon waking, I was back to it. All the TVs blaring the news 24 hours a day by now. I could not stop myself. I could not turn away. It reminded me of Katrina. That horrid wicked beast. Who has swept through the Gulf Coast leaving no one untouched. And again, I felt the sense of helplessness. There was nothing I could do but to bare witness. To look at all the damage. Acknowledge the pain and the loss and mourn. I stayed that way for sometime. Overwhelmed by what my eyes beheld. Unable to think of what I could do. Wishing for powers no human possess. And so, I felt lost, hopeless, for a time. But as always happens, eventually, I turned my mind away from those things I could not do. The things I could not change. I moved on to what I could do. What we can all do. Reach out. Reach out to those in need and to give what I could. My words, my time, my money. Since it is all I have, it will have to be enough. I will do whatever I can to lift a little weight off someone else's shoulders. I cannot wish it all away. i have no mystical words that will put it all back together. Oh, how I wish that I did.

  But that is beyond me. I am also reminded of that day in September, so long ago. When again, there was nothing to do but bare witness. To take it all in. To number the lost and the broken. Sometimes that is all we can do. As calls and texts came in, different people checking in to say they were fine. That they had lost a car, a house, a neighbor, we listened.  It is a terrible feeling, when you realize how small we all are. How precious this life is and all the wonderful souls that are in it. I am still here, listening. Watching and praying. Praying for strength, for peace, for safety for miracles. I know it is not over. Long after Sandy has left, the devastation will continue. This will take years, decades to repair. And of course, so much lost cannot be mended. I am unused to sitting in the rubble, looking at so much loss and not being compelled to DO something. We must all do something.

  I do not know your circumstances dear reader. I have no idea your blessings or talents. But please, take a few moments, send up some prayers and if you can, give to the cause. You know that rainy day you have been saving for? It has arrived. With a torrent of rain and sea, it is upon us. Look in your pockets, check the couch for change. Rob the piggie banks. Look in all your hiding places. Where you tuck away a few spare dollars. Take up a fund in your neighborhood, your community, your church. Come together and give. It is the least we can do. I have lost nothing. I have more than I will every need. I live in a world of abundance. If you have a roof over your head, and food on the table, then you do too. Forego that pack of cigarettes, that latte, one mani/pedi. Whatever it takes. Let us all stand and lift those effecting by this natural disaster. I hope you are well dear reader. I hope life is treating you gently. That you are loved and that you love. That you know, you are never alone. And with that certainty of knowing that all is well in your world, you step out of it and help those who need you most. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sailing on. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hide and Seek

There may be a trigger here.

  The seeds are planted when we are young, In those first moments of fear and a washing over of dread.
Even before we have any idea what is happening, we know it is wrong. We want it to stop and we cannot make it go away. We are small. That is the beginning. Along with that beast of anger that is given charge of us, comes something more. Something far worse. A growing sense helplessness. We are powerless and we know it. It matters not if there were threats or force. The out come is the same. The level of brutality of taking what we are too young to give is the unforgivable thing. As an adult, we may find a way to forgiveness. And grace can be bestowed. But the child who was made to feel less than, they have no say. No, they have been hidden away. Locked behind steel doors. It was not done to punish them, This self banishment. No. It was meant to protect that broken souls. The child left behind in the ashes of their innocence. We do it to keep them safe. So that we cannot be touched. Oh, our bodies, we have no say over. We learn that very quickly. No we cannot rescue all of us. So, we split the difference. We take what we can carry. What will surely not be missed and we barricade the doors. Deep in our minds we retreat. We learn to hide, never dreaming at how hard it will be to find our way out. To bring these two parts of us together again.

  We will travel down many of the wrong roads. Take journeys that are destine to fail even before we start out. We will try to substitute others. Trying to look for the other half. The one that we lost track of. And when we feel hollow, when we cannot take the loneliness in our own voice, we reach for others. We grapple with emotions and we tap down fear. We sacrifice all of us, just to not hear the echo of our own thoughts. But no one can take the place of that child. No one will suffice. I know this, all too well. My children came oh so close. I could almost see her. I could catch her shadow in my daughters eyes. I could hear her in my son's joyful laughter. But I could not reach her. I had ignored her for so long. Almost forgotten that she existed. Almost. Oh, I tried so many things to keep the pain of losing sight of her at bay. Nothing could take her place. How could they? I was looking for myself. I had lost touch with the child I had been and the woman I was meant to be. The one with dreams and goals. The one who smiled easily and trusted. Where had the gift of trusting gone off to? I had lost so much to the Bogeyman. How could I get her back. How could I learn to ferret out where I had left her. Had she wondered off? What if she had died? Alone. In the darkness of my mind.

  Would I know? Surely, I could tell? But there was no clear sign. I had worked so hard to hide her. To keep her save. I had hidden her so well, I could not discern where she might be. It took so long. To find what needed to be found. For it to be safe again. First, I had to deal with the beast. She would not be drawn out as long as the beast roamed free. So I put a muzzle on my anger. I did not ignore it. I tamed it. I used all those years of experience in controlling myself. Those years trained up in hiding emotions. Of wearing that stone mask, so smooth and cold to the touch. I used those skills to round on my temper. To snuff it out. Yes, I could start a wild blaze. I would always have matches to spare. But, you had to be careful of the backdraft. Fires can burn beyond your control. Flames can lay claim to your humanity and make you the Bogeyman. You are on notice. Use caution. It is written right on the box. Everything is flammable when you have an angry wind. It can blow through you. Leaving nothing but a husk. A lost soul. No, there will be no fires this time. We must look for other means. We will use the strength we have. You do not believe we have strength? Oh, yes it is there. The amount of effort, the sheer will it takes to get from there to here. From the hell we came out of into the light. We will use that. We have gotten so used to wielding it like a weapon, sharp and violent, against ourselves. It is what makes us stand still, quiet. Always be quiet. When the Bogeyman comes near. Shhh...yes, you feel that? That quickening of your spirit. That rigidness in your limbs. There is strength there. Untapped.

 Go and find it. You have more than you know. You do not come through the badlands without it. You could have never made it this far. So, gather it around you. Go over everything. Every hurt and pain. Mark it down. Take the sting from the barb. Let it all go. Drain it all out. Leave not a trace behind. We have no use for that here. It is a poison we have suckled on too long. Let it go. Move on past all of it. Every bad thing. They do not own you. They have taken too much. When it is safe, when the waters are calm, she will come. I know it. We will play hide and seek and I am sure to win. I know how to find her. That child that I was. I can see her in the face reflected in the mirror. In the laughter that is not forced. That tumbles out unexpectedly. She is there. There is no more need to stash her away. She no cause to fear. I can protect us. She is me and I am her and we are one in the same. Finally, we are one in the same.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Bogeyman


Please be aware that there may be triggers in this entry. 

  Halloween's fast approach has me thinking of monsters. Not the cute kind like the ones on Sesame Street.. No, I mean the real ones. The ones that walk among us with little to no notice. They have learned to assimilate. Something their victims spend a lifetime trying to master how to do. To hide the blackened brand. The mark placed upon us by these cruel creatures. It is very common for them to go unchallenged. Free to molest the minds and bodies of the unwitting. It is just as common when the monster is named, called out, that others come to their defense. Proclaiming the victim an instigator.  An attention seeker. they do not wish to have their pristine apple cart turned over. To have to look at that fruit closely and realize what they thought was good and healthy, has a rotten core. I have no idea what makes a monster a monster. Is it lack of feeling? Lack of empathy? A thrill at the thought of bringing pain to another? To be master and dictator over the victim. I do not spend much time in that arena. I have little care as to the why. My concern is the who.

  The disenfranchised. The broken. Those that walk in the shadows. As a small child, I was fearful of the Bogeyman. A shapeless, mysterious dark force, meant to do me harm. I do not know where I learned of him. It was too long ago. But, I grew up looking behind doors and searching dark corners. Waking up in my bed late at night, disturbed by some half heard noise and holding my breath. Laying in the dark. Too afraid to lift my head. Listening. Was he here? Did he see me? As all bogeymen do, mine grew more menacing as I grew older. He became more defined. He was so different than I had imagined him in the beginning. I was shocked, heartbroken when I realized my special bogeyman looked just like me father. And unlike so many times before, when I woke in a fit of night terror, I could see him and he surely could see me. I had wished so hard that that was all he could do to me.

  Many times the monsters hide behind well crafted masks. Years in the making. They take such care. Invest so much, all to make sure that they blend in. That no one will notice them. They depend on it. And so when they are called out, when some brave soul dares to speak up, they are very often not believed. Why would they say such a horrid thing? What was wrong with them? And the victim becomes the accuser. Somehow, the aggressor. And it is such an exquisite trap. So easily laid. Clearly they are troubled. This name caller. This evil act insinuator. And just as if it was scripted, they act out. They cut, or they drink, drugs or sexually provocative behavior. They are angry. They do not sleep. Heads are shook and hands wrung. What can be done? They are clearly broken. And the monsters go on. They feed unabated in an orchard of fruit. They became tenders to the crop. Waiting for their chance. Waiting to take what is not theirs. They eat freely. Hungrily. And they will not be stopped.

  They will ravage whole fields of the bounty before them. They labor over the reaping. Sacrificing everything to an appetite that cannot be satiated. Unless someone cuts them down. Unless someone looks behind that well placed mask. It is the only chance to save the saplings. Those still untouched and those that have been trampled. They must be propped up and staked with care. So that they can grow. So that they may reach up and catch the light. The warmth of the sun. The soothing drops of a rain that washes the soot from their leafs. So that they may go on. So that someday we finally stop them. These viscous creatures that loom in the shadows. Nodding and smiling. Watching the yield.  Counting their numbers and waiting. Always waiting.

  So be wary. Always be sure, your crop is well tended and if by chance a well meaning being offers to take your shift. To watch while you rested. You are tired aren't you? You do so much. If they beseech you to let them lift that load off your back. Say no. Beware the fruit picker offering their service. They are shape shifters. Teacher, coach, boyfriend, husband, father,preacher, doctor.........They come in so many varieties. So many masks. So keep watch. Light your lanterns and hold them high. Cast out the shadows and look with clear eyes. The Bogeyman is out there. He is real and he is unfed. He must be flushed out. Starved out. Pointed out. He must bare the label. It is his alone. The stigma of thief, of taker, of murder of hope. He must be caged and bound up. Locked away. With no view of the grassy hills and the orchard beyond. The Bogeyman is coming....he is real...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Filling in Holes





It is a sad thing when I come to realize that the person I thought I knew so well, is nothing at all as I had imagined. And that is exactly what had happened. I had imagined them. I filled in their details, their facts and habits. I made them better than. Shiny and bright. Witty and smart. Kind and generous. I would rush into one friendship and then another. One marriage and then one more. Thinking that I had chosen better. That I had finally got it right. We see people through a foggy lens of what we want things to be. It is a hard thing when those details that we have sketched out are all wrong. Of course, there is the other end. Those people who are assigned negative attributes in order to strengthen our own dislike of someone. I am stuck here today. in that place when I realize that what I thought was one thing was actually another. It is such a bitter pill and I hate it's stinging taste. Dry on my tongue. it is a hard thing to walk away from someone whom you looked up to, not for who they actually were, but who they actually are. It is a thing I bring from my childhood. If I know this thing, whatever it is, I must not ignore it. I must act upon it. It is probably connected to that shrunken piece of my brain. It will not let it rest. Once I know a thing is wrong I must either try to fix it or leave it behind. 

  That little paragraph there, the one you just read, left me sad for two days. Stuck in a sad spot I did not belong. And that was the key to getting unstuck. I was somewhere I did not belong. Had allowed myself to let that string slip. The one tied to my wrist. I had tried to carry too much. I had tried to stay in one spot and go forward. It could not be done. I had wanted to wait. For some to catch up. I wanted to take them with me. It was not mine to do and so I naturally failed. And that brought me low. I could not make them see. They had their own boat and their own journey to take and we had come to the point where choices must be made. To go this way or that. I thought and thought, paced and pondered. How could I go my way and yet not leave them? How could I show them my chart? If only they could see what I saw, I knew we would set off together. But is was not to be. They had their own map and were set that their way was best. And so, I have taken up anchor and set my sails. I will remember the good and acknowledge the bad. I cannot stay in the shallows too long. 

  It is a hard thing to learn that not everyone wishes to change. Some wish to stay near the hazards. Letting their boat hit up on the rocks. Damaging themselves as a trade off to venturing too far out to sea. For them the world is dark and the way long. Instead of an adventure, they see life as a struggle. To be endured, not overcome. Not all lifelines are welcomed. And not all cautions heeded. It took me time to learn this. To acknowledge that you may not see what I see. For me it is not enough to know the problem. I must then, solve it. I am not helpless. I am not small, unless I allow myself to be. I am so big I fill up my life. I will live every minute. Have purpose and direction. I will not float through things that I should be engaging in. If you too float, you know how difficult a task that is. To take your defense mechanism and lay it down. To go in without your armor, so hard won and safe. I know I will still forget sometimes. I will stray from my course and get lost in the shoals. Hopefully not for long. I must ask myself what have I done? How did I improve things today? Was I kind? Was I helpful and unselfish. It is a tall order. I sometimes forget. I get caught up in my feelings. I allow those who's opinions do not matter to effect my own thoughts. And I take back up my weapons. The ones that inflict the most harm. I throw words back at them. I point out their failings and errors. But that is not my place. It is not for me to try and correct their course. My responsibility is to myself. To be better than. Better than I was yesterday, as week ago, a month. I must grow and change and learn all the things I was not taught. 

  I must acknowledge what I lack and then try to master that skill. I must hold myself accountable. I did not come all this way, through so many storms to languish in harbor. No, I belong in the ocean. Feeling the wind and the rain. The salt and the sun. While the port maybe safe, it offers nothing of sustenance. I can take nothing from there. It is not my home. I want to do more. To be more. I will not make myself small to fit into someone else's image of what I should be. I will fill my own hollow places. With those things I treasure most. First there is love. Because love is like air. We all need it. Then, grace. Because I ask to live in it everyday and so I must allow others the same accord. Forgiveness, when need be. For myself and for others and just like Pandora's box, the last thing I carry is hope. Things will get better. Old wounds will heal. I will set out once again. I have made some changes. And more are to come. I hope you are well. That the world is treating your gently. Whether you venture out to sea or stay in port, I wish you calm waters. May your way be easy and your vision clear. 

  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Price


                                                                The Price

  I knew when I was very young that everything in life has a price. Something I had to pay, to sacrifice for those things that I needed. My parents instilled it in to me at an early age. There was a give and take and the price was steep. I spent most of my life believing the only way I could be loved, that I could be happy, was to barter my way through. And many people reinstated this belief system. Nothing good was free. I look back now and feel so sad for that little girl I once was. When you are a child there is very little you have to trade. And because I learnt that the only thing of value that I had was my body, I went on believing that was the way of the world. I had no self esteem and certainly no sense of value.
How could I? I did not value my body. In fact, I almost hated it. it had brought all this trouble. If I looked differently, if I was not ME, these things would not be visited upon me. It is ironic at the time we have the least control, we often blame ourselves as if we had orchestrated it all. And of course,  the people that I allowed in my life were happy to have me believe it.

  When ever I got down, when life got hard, I would reel off the many things I had caused. I started with my parents. My father's behavior, was clearly my fault. And the fact that my mother could not love me, blamed me for her own unhappiness, I took that on too. I was the most powerful five year old to ever life. When my father left my mother, well that was on me too. My first husband was unfaithful, I had driven him to it. I did not know how. But it had to be my fault. If it was my fault, I was in control. In charge of my life. I would rather see myself as at fault, then to admit the truth.That I controlled nothing. I developed OCD. I cleaned incessantly. I monitored my food intake I ran a tight ship. I gave myself no leeway. I was harsh and rigid. Cruel to myself. I had many rules for myself and could think of none for anyone else. I made excuses and overlooked. I kept forgiving and overlooking to the point I was nearly blind for not wanting to know the truth. I simple told myself, I did not need a faithful husband. I had no need of respect. I could live without affection. I gave so much of myself and asked for so little. Actually, I asked for nothing. Feeling myself unworthy. Not wanting to push my luck or to make demands. I kept writing those checks. Giving away more and more of myself. With no hopes of a return.

  I could subsist on so little. I always had. I look back on those years and I am breathless with how small I became. I kept myself so. If I was small, I could fit into a small corner of someone's life. And hope against hope that I could somehow make them love me. I did not know what loved look like. Not until I had my children. I began to realize that there should not be a bill to be paid in order to receive love. I had sold myself short. It is a hard habit to break. I still struggle with it. It is all part of that tired, old game of "If I do this, you will do that".  It was a losing game. It was rigged against me. I was bound to fail. Because, the day would come when whatever was required could not be done. When I fell behind in my payments and love would be rescinded. Our contract null and void. I would once again be alone. With nothing but me. And I knew I wasn't good enough. Not on my own. I needed someone to lean on to look to for all those things I had never had. It was a hole I was filling. A deep well, born of loneliness and despair. Of knowing I was not good enough, but never being able to puzzle out the why.

  So, it was my children that taught me that I should be loved just because. My parents should have loved me because I was their child. My husband should have loved me, because he had promised to. And most of all I should have loved me, because I was good enough. I was always good enough. it took so long to see it. And still to this day some will try and collect a toll. They will put a price on friendship or love. Taking more than they give. I refuse to pay. This is me. I am flawed. I am imperfect. I make mistakes and I too cast stones. But, I am just who I am meant to be. I grow and I change and I choice to love. I ask no sum to enter into my life. Only, that you are kind. That you are honest and that you not demand payment. My ledger books are closed. My debts have been paid and my accounts are laid bare. I give of my heart, of my time but I will not lessen myself to please another. I pray you choose the same course. You are worth far more than you know.