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?