Telling the Blues

Starting Here

You wouldn’t know it by my writings I am extraordinarily private about much of my life, especially if it is imperfect in my own eyes. I intimated I was struggling in my last somewhat personal writing, here Introversion and the Blues, still, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I find I haven’t had the words, my voice simply silenced by my internal war with depression. I could not find a way to tell the story of my own fear, melancholy and my failure to be compassionate toward myself.

The truth, while this isn’t the first time I have been laid low by depression it has been one of the worst. It was exacerbated by external influences, some over which I had control but chose to push to the limits and others over which my control was limited if not non-existent. I allowed others inside my world, wanting to believe they had my best interest at heart, even while knowing they did not. I dug my hole deeper, shook my soul harder turned myself inward, allowed myself to be hurt, time and again and ultimately doubting myself, questioning myself, my value and my worth.

There were days when the sun came up and I despaired that I had woken with the sun. There were nights, I lay down and prayed for that one last seizure that would stop my breath and heart.

Terrible, I know. Terrible to write the words. Terrible to admit that I felt this for so long. Terrible to acknowledge there are times I still feel this way some nights, some mornings.

The truth is, my blues had gripped me hard this time and initially I had not realized just how hard or for how long they have had me in their grasp. I kept thinking I am out of it, the fog is lifted I am moved beyond this thing but the truth is, I hadn’t. I keep looking for the starting point, that place in time I can put a stake in the ground, in my soul, in my psyche; when did it start where the Y in the road had appeared and I took that path that led here, to this place right now. Honestly? I don’t know. There are so many intersections over the past five years, so many points in time.

I am so grateful there are a few beloved friends and family members who saw my despair and continued to stand by me, shake me now and then, reach into my self-imposed bubble of silence and demand my participation. They did this even when I retreated further into my natural state of isolation. It would have been so easy to stand aside, let me draw my darkness closer and allow me to withdraw further knowing my introversion was simply part of my personality but that this was different. They saw me and saw this was more, this was dangerous and they sometimes kicked the shit out of me and other times just gently prodded me into the world, if even just for an hour or two.  These diehards, who dug in knowing I was closer to the edge than I would ever admit to withstood my rejections, my absolute and outright sometime lies of “I am fine, really”. They threw lifelines and drug me through and demanded I stay in the world, even when my one true desire was to give up when the world seem pitiless and I wanted nothing more than to get up and get off.

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Am I beyond this funk, this fog, this blue? No, really I am not yet. But I know it has been clinging to me and I get that I have been reacting badly, letting too much of my life be taken over by this terrible. I know I have made some horrible choices because I was hurting. I know I allowed others to hurt me because I was hurting and thought they were the most I deserved. I know now I nearly broke myself because I didn’t heed the warning signs, I didn’t listen to my own heart and soul when I screamed. Thankfully, even during this time, I have made some great choices too. I have done some good things for .  myself though I nearly took myself to the brink of destruction and lost it all.

Is it over? No, not yet. I have recovery to do. I have to find those doors to walk through, those steps to take to recover what I have lost. I have to find ways to be healthy, to embrace what I know and allow others to take care of me when I need it. It is time for me to start the slow climb back, emotionally, financially, physically and elsewhere in my life so I can live with all the choices past, present and future. It is time to re-engage the world on my terms, without apology or recrimination. I have to recognize I am subject to the Blues, not let them overtake my world, destroy what I build and be proactive or one of these days I won’t have the opportunity to say no more.

For those who suffer from Depression, I get it. This is hard. It is always hard. We lose so much every single time. Do not do this alone, reach out if you can and if you can’t let others reach in grab the lifelines they throw.

If We Were Having Coffee-Dang

imagesIf we were having coffee I might spike my own but politely ask if you would like me to spike yours. I am good like that. It has been one hell of a summer, I mean that on many levels. I think I will start with a song, do you mind? My friend and frequent inspiration Kim at My Inner Chick left this for me the other day, I added it to my Writing Playlist and now I am playing it as we sip our spiked coffee and chat.

First, how have you been during my absence? Talk to me! I am certain there is much to catch up with in your life, I have been terribly remiss failing to read your words, talk to you and keep up. I have watched all of you, truly I have just failed to acknowledge your outpouring of thoughts on life and the world. For this I can only offer, I will try to do better and ask you to talk to me, before I ramble off into my own little world of chaos.

Before we get started, can I top you off? Well then, let me pour some more into both of our cups. I am tempted to switch to a nice tall Bloody Mary, I think we might both need one.

Last Monday was my fifty-ninth birthday. Yes, I am embarking on my sixtieth year on this earth. Most days I don’t feel that old. Truthfully, I can remember when I believed sixty was ancient, one foot in the grave and ready for the retirement home. Sixty years on earth? Good grief, my mother use to tell me if I kept it up I wouldn’t see past thirty. Do you think I lived this long to spite her?

If we were having coffee I would tell you what frightens me is the two candidates for President are not much older than me and I wonder if they should be running for President, I wonder if they aren’t too old for the office. Should we be demanding new standards for this critical office and all our other government officials, standards that include term limits, mandatory retirement ages and top ages at which a candidate can run for office. Am I being ageist? Yes, perhaps I am; nevertheless, when the Constitution was written Life Expectancy was significantly lower, as in thirty-six, living to the age of seventy and beyond was almost inconceivable, though a few did. I would like to call attention to the ages of those we call our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) who conceived of and fought for our liberty.

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Well, I will tell you no matter who wins in November I am not leaving the country. I love America, I may hate the politics and the politicians. I may hate the state of the nation, our horrifying injustice and our failure to thrive across so many measurements. But truly, I love the dream that is America and believe in my heart we have the ability to do better. Our utter failure to even present acceptable candidates from which to choose is only one measurement of our failure, there are so many others; Donald and Hilary are simply the face of the lethargy and fear we feel right now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am finally working to complete the move into my new home. It has been challenging. Maybe I needed it to be challenging so I didn’t settle on ‘good enough’ but instead worked on the details, looked at the small things that would please me over time and spent my budget wisely, ensuring each expenditure was specific and exactly what I wanted. Every time I unlock the front door, I struggle with what is still needed before I will be happy, yet I sigh with relief knowing it is mine and an empty palate waiting my touch.

To say very little has gone right would be a vast understatement. This entire process has introduced me to a new level of patience, a new level of please just stop dancing on my last nerve, a brand new level of I will not kill a human being today. Yes, this move has taught me a great deal about myself, my desire for privacy, perfection, my own way and ultimately my willingness to bend where needed to achieve my goals.

When I started this hunt for new digs, I wanted a woman cave that encompassed an entire home with every room an extension of who I am. This was the first home I have purchased where there were no children, no husband nobody but me to consider in decorating, I wanted what I wanted; it was an act of pure selfishness an act of self-love. I perused real estate websites endlessly, I watched home improvement and remodeling shows for hours. With each marathon, I had a list of ‘love notes’ of things I wanted, things I loved. Additionally, I knew where I wanted to live; what city in the Metroplex even what zip code.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you all those plans went to hell the minute I walked into the house I bought. It was a 1976 rambler that someone had partly flipped, badly. The Professional Inspector, well let’s say he should have his license examined he missed so many obvious things that are now costing me before I can even start on the fun stuff. Even as I work through problems, contractors are running away, or seeing a woman and giving me bad pricing. Things are going slow or at least not as planned. I thought I would have all my projects done before I moved in; that didn’t happen. Now, I am moving in two stages. This one is hard, but it will get done hell or high water. I had great help yesterday to empty a 10X20 storage unit out, now everything is stacked floor to ceiling in the back of the house as we couldn’t put anything on my newly finished stained concrete floors. I am still in my apartment till next week, I will have to figure out how to move my apartment at that time. Packing throughout the week then moving over the weekend, of course how to get that done without movers will be a different challenge. Budgets are now starting to get challenged!

This week I will be meeting with a new set of contractors, maybe I will finally find some who will paint and stuff. Wish me luck.

I you ready to put your feet up? I surely will be by the end of this coming Sunday. Wish me luck.

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If we were having coffee

 

 

Introversion and the Blues

My silence is indicative of my battle with the blues and my aversion to making it public. Isn’t it odd, I have known for years I battle this insidious and all-encompassing emotional sea. This time, I let the waves take me further out, nearly sinking me. This time, I gave free rein to my nature and thus failed to notice as the blues silenced me and built my walls higher and stronger than they had been in years. This time, I looked out of my already well-built bubble of introspection and introversion, shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘fuck it, I am fine, I am good; I can’t care’.

My silence is indicative of the hurt of the past few years. For far too long I have cared too much for to many only to be told it isn’t enough. It has broken me emotionally, financially and worse it broke my trust in others, long nurtured is finally broken as well. I always believed if I was good to others, it would be returned; I was wrong. Time and again, I was wrong.

My silence is indicative of fear. You might ask me what do I have to be afraid of, but that would show you only know my name and not who I really am. I don’t blame you for this, it is who we are as a people, who we have become. Uncaring, unjust and focused entirely on ourselves, unconcerned with anyone outside of a small circle of ‘just like us’. Unwilling to hear anyone who speaks critically, asks questions, or offers any other voice but what is inside the echo chamber of our own narrow thinking and vision. Willing to lash out at friends and allies of years, name them as enemies and call others to do the same when they question the echo.

My silence is indicative of fatigue, both personal and social. This year-long season of the American Horror Story has worn my patience and my hope thin. There is no critical analysis that can be done in the political arena of today, no justification for what the American public is offered as options for President. We argue over who is worse, not who is best. We have become a laughingstock 20ab55a5576cffe1dce94c2fc4b236b0on the world stage when we aren’t a diplomatic nightmare. Our politics and our politicians belittle the dream of America and turn us into a Reality TV show for the amusement of the world. We have lost our way, our demons are on the stage and we must select which one will lead us into perdition.

My silence is indicative of my despair. Yes, I said it; despair. Despair for all of us that we are falling down a hole of ugly we will not be able to recover from. That we are drawing lines we will not be able to erase for decades. That we are allowing the fringe to speak for all of us, rather than standing up speaking up and screaming ‘Shut the fuck up’ when the extreme ratchets up violence, animosity and nativism without a single voice of dissent. When the extreme causes friends and neighbors to call into question the loyalty of decades and shed those alliances and friendships simply to appear more ‘correct’. Where once reasonable people on all sides joined together across political, gender and racial lines to form alliances for good, now those same people are using the language of the extremes and burning down the houses, without care demanding a return to what once was without understanding the consequence of their demand.

My silence then is the only response I have, the only response I am able to offer in this time of terrible turmoil. My silence and my tears as friends of long standing turn on me and call out for others to do the same because I question within the echo chamber. My silence and my tears, as I come to realize how terribly used I was in my time of weakness and sorrow. My silence and my tears, as I watch the nation burn itself down. My silence and my tears, as I watch the extremes on both sides grab the disenfranchised by the throat and shake mightily until out of the pile of brokenness walks the fury that is seen protesting senseless deaths on the streets of our cities or the Trump supporters screaming ‘Make America Great Again’ as they ignore his casual ignorance, racism, sexism and all other ‘isms.

Will my silence continue? I hope not. I hope I can begin to write again. I hope I can start taking an active role in my own life again, become part of the world again. I hope, honestly, I can start interacting with the world again without simply wishing to curl up and crawl into myself. Each time I have tried lately, it has not been an overwhelming success. This world, well it dumbfounds me. I love it less and less. I pay for my interactions within it on more levels then I am happy with. Nevertheless, I am part of it and should not give in to my overwhelming desire to simply retreat, it is far too easy.

black-and-white-girl-nature-photography-favim-com-356563My silence is indicative of the blues. I understand it is easy when you combine a natural introvert with the blues it is easy to do what I have done. So now, I will try to knock the wall back down. So much of the time I feel so very much alone, so very much as if I have to do this on my own. This I think, this reluctance to open the door and let others in, let others help me, let myself be disappointed again; this is another part of the blues.

I hope you are all well and I will be trying to visit.

Things I Know

Sleeping BeautyI know we have an infinite well of compassion, empathy and love at our disposal. We are bottomless, we are never tapped out. Not ever in our lifetimes do we run out of ‘good’.

We might retreat.

We might close the spigot.

The truth is though, we remain full up no matter how much we give. Truth be told, I suspect the more we give the more we have within us to give.

I know we learn throughout our lives. We learn every single day and through every relationship. Sometimes we learn how to become better people, other times we learn to love in better ways. Sometimes we learn our capacity for love, other times we learn our capacity for pain.

With experience we change, our world view changes. Who we are changes as our understanding of self and our place within the world grows. As we learn we find our footing, we determine where we are comfortable, what makes us tick, what makes us sing, what makes us dance. We emerge as our true selves, like butterflies from our chrysalises.

I know we all have the innate ability to forgive, ourselves and others. Not the forgiveness many of us are taught in our churches, but something much deeper and more intimate. As children we are quick to let go of hurt, fast to return to those we love. It is only as adults we hang on to our anger, plot revenge or simply wrap ourselves in painful reminders building shields to protect ourselves in the future.

We forget, anger and hate are active emotions requiring our participation. Forgiveness does not mean you give someone, not even yourself, a free pass. It does not mean you have said to anyone they are free to do harm again. Forgiveness doesn’t come easily to most of us, it is a hard fought battle of letting go. Sometimes, even as we forgive we also must say ‘no more’. There are times when we must see our only choice is letting go, lovingly and with great compassion, simply letting go.

I know each of us is unique and wonderfully made. We are, each of us, flawed and perfect at once. We are forged within the furnace of our family and later by the fires of society; whether tragic or magnificent, usually both, we are formed. As we walk through our lives both alone and with others we are formed into something distinctive and entirely individual.

So many of us these days try to fit in, try to hide our light in anonymity primarily because there is a certain safety in numbers and shades of beige and gray. We fall into the common thought that ‘fitting in’ will gain us acceptance, get us further in life or even provide us a more comfortable living. Maybe this is all true, perhaps if we work hard to strip ourselves of what makes us distinctively us we will have an easier time in the world, but then we will also have to wake every single day and force our spirit into boxes of conformity that may not fit as well as we like, that may squeeze every bit of life from us and leave us gasping for breath.

I know we are meant to dance in the rain with abandon and joy.

I know we are designed for pleasure and it is not a thing to be ashamed of or to shame others out of.

I know we are infused with the spirit compassion and forgiveness.

I know we are intended to give and receive love without stinting or judgement.

I know the world has corrupted our vision of ourselves as human and humane, who we are and what we should be. We have too often substituted joy for shame, compassion for weakness and love for sex in our pursuit of anything to fill a hole in our spirit and our heart. Far too many of us look toward others to define a reality that isn’t our own and then we judge ourselves as failures for not living up to impossible standards.

All of these things I know in my heart. As I continue to work through what I need, how to free myself and where to go from here, all these things I know.

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Stop Saying That

imagesJust how stupid can you be? Obviously intended as a rhetorical question, clearly all of us agree there is no need for an answer. Right? Yet every single time I ask this specific question I feel as if I have set myself up and then I want to hit my own self in the head with a brick, or a hammer or any handy heavy item.

Truly, I feel as if every single blessed time I ask this specific question I have raised the bar on Stupid, as if it isn’t at all rhetorical but instead as if I am issuing a challenge. What is it that causes people to give me that blank fish eyed stare just before they respond with, “Did I fail the test? Give me another chance, I can do better I can be much stupider.”

I am flabbergasted by the level of stupid alive and well throughout society today. It amazes me every day what people will do and say thoughtlessly. People tend to live in bubbles of entitled ‘me’, heedless of their power to aggravate, annoy, hurt and even at times do great harm to others. Many of us, yes I will admit to my fair share, walk through life with blinders of how our words, actions and even lack of action affect those around us.

Just how stupid can you be?

It is sometimes truly impossible to judge how our actions affect others until after fire rains down on our heads. It might not be our intention to do harm, to hurt but by our inattention to the details we do so nonetheless. Other times, well we simply walk through life with our heads so far up in the clouds, our hearts so encased in the ice of our history we fail to consider the consequences of our words or actions. This is the ‘stupid’ of smart people. We have huge numbers of stupid smart people in the world today, people with intellectual intelligence who utterly fail the emotional ‘smart’ test, for a variety of reasons. albert-einstein-quotes-sayings-wise-stupidity-genius

Then there are the truly stupid, those who simply wake up every day and say to themselves, ‘Val posed the question, issued the challenge and I am going to greet the world with my version of STUPID and then up the ante’. These are the people I truly don’t understand, the people I wonder about. These are the people I drive by on the side of the Texas freeways piled up into each other, the people who during the winter months slam on their brakes across the icy bridges of the Dallas freeways thinking, ‘I have four wheel drive’.

These are the dumb-asses who blow up my phone with, ‘I have a job for you’ but haven’t got a clue what I do, haven’t read my resume and want to pay me $25 an hour less than the market rate for my skills, why you ask? Well because according to them, ‘they can bring someone from (name the country) who would be willing to work for that rate. Yes, I really have had these conversations. Yes, they really do say that to me. Yes, it is insulting. It is especially insulting because this has been going on for years and our rates have already been cut by at least 50% in the past decade for just that reason. download

Then there are those genius asshats who are simply STUPID because they can’t help themselves, they aren’t socially competent enough to exist in the same world as you or I, but they do. These are the people you scratch your head at. I said the other day I am selling my house. I am selling it for a reasonable market price, not expecting a windfall and recognizing there are things that will need to be done by the next owner, because I have lived here for more than a decade. On the other hand, I have also done many upgrades to this house so it is a trade-off. Guess what boys and girls, I am not paying for your desire to ‘upgrade’ or ‘redecorate’.

Don’t be stupid and please don’t insult me. Really I don’t care if you have small children, don’t care if you think you should have ‘better’ carpet than what my offered allowance will pay for, or if you think the fact that I smoke in my office is ‘bad’. The truth is, it is my house, I pay the mortgage here today. I recognize what is required and have offered a significant amount of cash at closing so you can do the necessary painting and carpet replacement, but don’t insult me with an offer of $25K less than the asking price and then give me a sob story and ask for more than double the allowance. images (1)

My answer? Go look at houses in your price range and STFU. Entitled are we? No I would say, ‘Just how stupid can you possibly be?’ Truly, I could go on and on. I could start in on our political landscape and I just might, but not today. I could trip lightly across our ‘reality’ television (oh that might be close to the same thing), but maybe another day. My problem though? Every single time I ask the question, I feel as if I am raising the bar and there are far too many people who want to take up the challenge. What the hell is wrong with people today? Why is it we aren’t celebrating brilliance, reveling in clever? Can anyone tell me why we are tripping wildly down the path of dismal and abject intellectual poverty, please help me understand.

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Alterations

This has been a year of ups, downs, exploration, joy, pain, choices, decisions and change. I have seen my share of sad, okay let me say it outright, my share of down on my knees on the floor and begging for mercy depression. I have spent far too much of my time isolating myself, allowing my introvert free reign, while the rest of my life suffered the consequences. I have spent far too much time, trying to catch up with myself, in too many ways and spent too much of the past year afraid.

 

Afraid of losing all I have fought for.

Afraid of being alone.

Afraid of being hurt.

Afraid of …. Well afraid of far too many things to list.

The funny thing about being afraid, fear absolutely paralyzes you. Fear prevents you from making choices, whether good or bad, fear stops your ability to choose.

I have known for a very long time I needed to make some life altering choices. There were things in my world weighing me down. The first and likely the largest was my house. I don’t know why I have hung onto this monstrosity for so long after my marriage ended. I have spent thirteen years here, longer than anywhere else in my adult life. I do not love it, some days I hate it. It hasn’t been a home in years, if ever. It has been a menace to my health and well-being for at least five of the thirteen years I have been here. It is far too big for one person, by about 2,000 sq. ft., well maybe not quite that much but it is far too big for just me.

So I had to make decisions, for my health mental and otherwise:

Decision #1: My house went on the market 10 days ago.

Decision #2: I am not going to buy right away. Instead I am going to put what I decide to keep in storage and rent for 6 months while I find a new home that pleases me. This will be the first time in my adult life I buy a home with just me in mind, where only my desires, my likes, my wants are taken into account. I am going to take my time.

Decision #3: I am not only going to significantly downsize my home, I am going to downsize my ‘stuff’. This includes letting go of books, CD’s, clothes and other ‘stuff’ I have carried across town, across the state, across the nation and across continents. I will keep what I love, what is meaningful, what belongs in the life I intend to create.

Decision #4: I am paying off 80% of debt (assumes a close to full price offer on house) which will allow me to make different decisions about work and contracts. Only thing that will remain will be 12509264_1549410212015766_3412091072243008118_ncar and student loans (woe is me I will pay these till I die).

So here I sit, in my very clean house. It has been shown a few times since it went on the market. There have been four open houses too. Every morning I wake up and run around like a mad woman, making certain everything is in its place, nothing is hanging out of a drawer and all the animals are in their kennels before I leave the house. Every single day, I hope the odds are with me and someone will like all the upgrades I have made and they will say, ‘Yes, this is the one I want’.

In the meantime, the contract I have been working since last May is hanging by a thread. I am still working but not enough hours. I am looking for the next one and hoping hard it comes soon. I am hoping all the stars align and the house sells, the next contract is one that I have been talking to for a couple of weeks now and will give me a great opportunity to do something really different in a new / old city for 18 months at a great rate. If not this one, well there are a couple of others that might be great also, right here in town. I am hoping all the stars align and maybe one would lead to a full time job where I could maybe, just maybe end my career without any more contracts. Wouldn’t that be better than what I have been doing for far too many years?

So, as I make life altering choices my focus shifts. Some of it hurts. Some of it is simply scary. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and think to myself, ‘what the hell, what are you doing, are you stupid or simply crazy?’ I think all of that, then I simply shrug my shoulders and think, ‘Well, it won’t be the first time you have had to start over’.

Friends, Lovers et. al.

It has been a strange, trying and even sometimes miraculous few years. My world turned inside out, upside down and sideways. I lost myself, struggled to find the way through to a new normal and all too frequently wondered just what in the hell normal really was.

I find, my new normal isn’t normal at all. In fact, I find my new normal is constantly shifting under foot and I am frequently reevaluating to test theories. Just when I think I have it down, when I think I am settled on the answer for what ‘normal’ needs to be I prove myself wrong or slightly off center and must try again. So what is it, is it me? Is it my expectations? Is it the world we live in? Really, what is it? I surely wish someone would let me in on the secret, this constant shifting of the sand under my feet, it is making me dizzy as hell and I am tired.

The past week has proven to me I am not who I believe myself to be, at all. Most days I think I have a larger portion of bitch than most, you know tough girl bitch. Been there, done that and come out the other side, bitch. Not mean girl bitch, simply not going to take your shit, bitch. Then something comes along to prove me wrong, someone meanders through my day and I am pulled up short, set back on my heels and sent searching my soul and asking my monsters, ‘hey, wtf, where the hell did you hide my bitch!’

It isn’t that I pride myself on bitchiness. It is simply life has taught me I need some of this to protect me from harm, from the hurt the world and other people will do if I don’t surround myself with12341638_10208005258989848_2508813082028178841_n a hardened exterior. But I am weak, I am soft. I am figuring this out also. I forgive easily and I don’t like hurting other people. I have a difficult time turning my back on those I love or have loved even when they have broken me, even when they have consistently placed themselves and their desires ahead of me. Still, I have a very difficult time saying, ‘get the fuck away from me’. I don’t do ‘No more’, easily. I don’t draw boundaries easily, I don’t like to feel as if I am the source of other people’s pain.

Now, just how truly stupid is that? Really, how truly stupid can I be that I fail to place boundaries and walls that will protect me from future hurt. Even when those I am trying to prevent from hurting have proven they do not, will not and have not in the past shown the same consideration, the same concern.

Well the other side of this failure, I own my heart and forgiveness often leads to unexpected releases of held pain, even pain I did not know I still held. Despite my natural tendency toward isolation and introversion I reach outside of myself, leaving doors and windows open for people both old and new to sneak inside, around edges and corners leading to friendships unlooked for. Doors swing wide where I thought I had slammed them shut, where I had turned my back and wept my tears of hurt, frustration and pain. At the slightest breeze, the quietest knock I open the door and allow myself to be drawn back, without hesitation or trepidation even knowing how much pain the last encounter caused.

11210400_10207936403708509_5830202822718948331_nAm I an idiot? Perhaps, certainly I open myself to more pain. Surely I open myself to being hurt again. These relationships, these friendships are not always healthy and often difficult to sort out. This is especially true where the relationship wasn’t a friendship but a lover or a spouse. It is hard as hell to change the boundary, draw new lines in the sand and not rehash old hurts. It is difficult not to ask, ‘Why the fuck did you do this to me, do you know how badly you broke me?’

Yes, it is likely the other person knows. It is likely, both of you know the content of the ending. Whether short or long-term, whether lover or spouse one of you left, one of you ended the relationship. It is never mutual, no matter how you might portray it to the public. One of you was ready for it to end and the other was left in pain and wondering what happened and why you are alone and in pain.

Do you wonder what in Hades I am babbling on about today?

I have had a strange week. I am trying to sort relationships. Trying to not hurt those I care for. Trying to regain balance, take back my life and make healthy choices for myself. I recognized many things about myself over the past year, things I needed to understand about what I needed from relationships and from myself. I also realized just how easily I sometimes allow myself to be manipulated, not because I am weak but because I am by nature kind, beyond my kindness though is a history of not standing up for myself within ‘love’ relationships. This history goes back 40 years, is grounded in brutality, fear and force. I realized over the past year I haven’t shed some of my history, it remains rooted inside of me, a dark part of my make-up easily called up and easily taken advantage of; one of my personal monsters I clearly haven’t danced with in the light.

As I have struggled toward enlightenment, toward taking back all of me and all of who I want to be I have also fought to let go of hurt. Perhaps it is simply providence, this shedding of anger and 12507215_10208294405378327_4514737177470774775_nhurt this not holding on that out of the blue as I come more to peace with myself, the one person who had so deeply hurt me reached out to talk. Yes, my ex-husband sent a friend request on Facebook and we talked about God and being better people than we were before. We did not talk about why we failed, I don’t think for either of us it was relevant.

That, that one forty-five minute chat allowed me to finally let go.

So despite I ask my monsters to stop hiding my Bitch, maybe it is fine they leave holes in the wall for people to sneak through. Maybe, just maybe this is how I find myself and find peace. There is no going back, no true second chances. There are though opportunities to learn, to forgive and to forge links in the chains that bind us to the world and our own humanity.

Gratitude in the Blues

Yesterday I read a post from Deb of The Monster in Your Closet, Sixty Things o’ Grateful. This post got me thinking, surely despite my rather long period of blues this year I have much to be grateful for. That my gratitude didn’t just belong in this year but truly extended. I determined I would play by the rules, if I couldn’t come up with at least fifty things to be grateful for, happy about in the allotted time I would sit back and meditate my reasoning, otherwise I would post.

What I found? I have much that I am truly grateful for, much I am consistently happy about, many small things that are a part of my life right now that are making me grow and become more me. Some things are simply a part of my world, I need to remind myself how much these things mean, how much they are of value and how very much they make me happy. Other things, well they are new and vital to my being. I recognize how much I need to tell people I love them, value them and appreciate their presence in my life. How important they are and how much they make my life better simply by being there. I don’t do this often enough.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the Blue Frog at Tales From The Motherland. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise; I will remove it. Aside from that one caveat, there is no such thing as too much positivity. Share your happy thoughts, your gratitude; help us flood the blogosphere with both!

Without further ado, my list of fiftish things I am grateful for in 2015 and more. After I made the list and put it up I added pictures and in some cases an explanation.

  1. Finding love, repeatedly in odd and unexpected places, creating new friendships where I never expected.
  2. A contract that has kept me busy, paid the bills and where the client isn’t entirely crazy as is so often the case with my clients. I expect there is an element with contracting, we always see the worst.
  3. My sons, their wives and children. I am so fortunate to share their lives, things could have turned out so differently when their father and I divorced. But instead, my step-sons and their mother (wife-in-law) have remained a central part of my life.
  4. My latest sister and getting to know her. She appeared out of nowhere, another one of my biological father’s children. Born just after me, also put up for adoption but now we found each other and are getting to know each other, I am both grateful and happy. Makes me wonder how many more there are out there.
  5. Remaining mostly without pain all year.
  6. Letting myself enjoy my introversion without guilt, I think this is the first year since I was a teenager I have simply sunk in and allowed myself this freedom.
  7. Learning to say no without guilt.
  8. Traveling to my nieces wedding in Seattle.One Brother
  9. Seeing my brother more than once this year!
  10. Learning to sleep further in the middle of the bed, as if I own it. Three years of singledom and still I slept on ‘my side’ of the bed, finally I almost sleep in the middle.
  11. Getting rid of fat clothes as if I won’t grow back into them. It isn’t that I am dieting, it is simply I have been doing better about eating healthy and taking better care of myself.
  12. Letting my poetry be read again, without embarrassment.
  13. My friends, reconnecting.
  14. Sunrises on the lake.
  15. Rain, though usually I hate it all the lakes have refilled now.
  16. Gap insurance. Having had a bad car accident this year where my car was totaled, Gap Insurance saved me!
  17. Christmas gift bags, what a great solution. All the Christmas gifts would have been delivered unwrapped this year without Gift Bags, I simply ran out of time!
  18. Extended families and the oddities of hundreds. With somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-three siblings, their families and now third generations; yes, it extends to over one hundred. It is hard but wonderful to watch all the oddballs, geniuses and lovers make their way through this world.
  19. Victim Impact and extending my participation this year to new avenues that have forced me to face my own demons even while allowing me to let them go.
  20. Only one seizure all year.
  21. My tattoo artist James!
  22. My wife-in-law and our friendship of thirty plus years. The mother of my sons has been a member of my tribe for longer than damned near anyone else, she is friend, family and partner in raising our Sons.
  23. Coming home every night from work. After more than twenty years on the road, this is one of the greatest blessing ever.
  24. Dinner with friends during the week.
  25. Fresh flowers on the dining room table. I buy them for myself and they make me happy every single day.
  26. Peace, I finally understand how critical peace in my home is.
  27. My blogging family who have sometimes kept me sane.
  28. Long drives with no destination at all.
  29. Quiet, true and simple quiet when I want it.
  30. Books, stacked to read without interruption.
  31. Growing my hair without anyone telling me they hate it.
  32. Made beds, clean sheets.
  33. Lavender bushes filling the air from early spring to late fall with rich scents.DSC_0152
  34. Kind strangers.
  35. Naps on Saturday because I can. Because I am not traveling Saturday is now a day of rest if I wish it.
  36. Taking myself on a date.
  37. Going on a real date with someone other than myself.
  38. Hugs, just that hugs.
  39. Long hot baths without interruptions.
  40. Criminal Minds marathons.
  41. Butterfly gardens.
  42. The dog warming my feet.
  43. The cats fighting for a place on my lap.
  44. New jeans in a smaller size and feeling good about it.
  45. Having my hair brushed by my grandson.
  46. Hearing ‘I Love You’ and knowing it is true.
  47. Removing drama from my world, even when it hurts.
  48. Becoming more me, finding my center.
  49. Laughter, the big huge from the heart kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes and causes hiccups.
  50. Good deeds from the spirit, done from genuine love.
  51. Messes, because it is fine if things aren’t perfect all the time.
  52. Finishing a project, any project and knowing it is off my plate; permanently.
  53. Letting go of some of the old hurts.
  54. Sometimes, to clear the heart just a good cry is what is needed. I no longer try to hold back.
  55. Raising my arms above my head to brush my own hair! Years ago I couldn’t do this and I cut all my hair off. Now I can, I am growing it back.
  56. Letting my personal demons dance without interruption or fear.RayL
  57. Choosing life. I am grateful I no longer feel dead inside, just walking through the world with nothing to offer, nothing to give and no hope. I am hopeful.

Need, Want & Nature

Everyone wants something; it is our nature I suppose, to want things outside of ourselves. We start as infants being dependent on others, wanting little more than to be sustained in our needs, including being safe, clean, fed and touched. As we mature so do our needs, though truthfully it is really how we fulfill these needs that change rather than the needs themselves. With maturity our core personality come into play so some of our needs might also be more or less at play, specifically the need for touch and safety may be very different for each of us.

I didn’t start with need though, did I? I started with want, I wonder can we entirely separate want from need in all cases? Is it possible some of our wants, our desires are so intimately tied to our basic needs; they truly are what we need to sustain our lives in some form that is both sane and comforting. Is it possible, where we started with basic needs though they change in their make-up, change in how we express them do not in truth change all that much at all.

I want shoes, frequently I see them in a store, on-line or even on another woman’s foot and think, damn I want those. I don’t need them, in fact left to my own devices I am frequently barefoot much to the dismay of the poor young woman who does my weekly pedicure.

I want never to have grey hair, never to have a single strand of grey show on my head. It is unreasonable to want this. It is also unrealistic, nonetheless I want it and I want it forever and ever, amen.

I want to stop the world, now. I want off the merry-go-round and round. I want to stop being jerked around and pulled by my heartstrings by people who don’t truly have my best interests at heart.

I want to stop leading with my heart. I want to stop wearing my heart on the outside of my chest where it is easily the most vulnerable, easily hurt and easily sliced and diced.

I want to stop being taken for rides, where I am the amusement, the shipwreck and the battlefield.

I want to stop pretending it is fine, that all is good, that I feel good about paying the bill when it is presented. It isn’t fine, it isn’t all good. I don’t mind paying my fair share, I don’t mind going dutch now and then, in fact, I think this might be fair. Splitting the bill down the middle, compromising seems only fair and right. So why isn’t this happening? Am I too fast to say, ‘don’t worry, I don’t mind you beating the living shit out of me, I will take care of whatever it is so long as you have what you need or want.’tumblr-broken-heart-photography-broken-heart-3-by-mv79-on-deviantart--photos

I want to come first; every now and then, I want to be first. I want someone to think of me and my needs and put me and them first. Not all the time mind you, that would be selfish; but, every once in a while I want to be first. Not, how bad can I make her feel. Not what can I get from her today. Not how can I make her pay for what I want today, but instead, ‘how can I make her day better.’

I want my safety, my heart, my sanity, my health to be important to someone. Not as a secondary thought after they have considered everything they want and need, but as the first thing they consider when thinking of what is important. I don’t want to be more important, I just want to be as important. My ex use to say to me, ‘if we are ever confronted by a person with a gun I will not stand in front of you, I will tell you to run baby run.’ He thought that was funny, I never did. Now, not only do I think it was unfunny, I think it was sad I stayed in a marriage for so long with someone who placed himself and his own safety so far above mine, you see he wasn’t joking.

I want to feel protected, safe and valued. Not for what I can do for you but for the content of me. I want for anyone who has ever said to me, ‘I love you’ to actually show me by their actions rather than say the words. Words, they have little meaning if they are not backed up with acts of care, compassion, empathy and a giving heart. Don’t tell me you will do something, don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping. Stop stripping me down to nothing left.

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I want someone to hear me. Just listen and hear me. I want them to hear the tears in my voice when I am lonely. I want them to hear me screaming when my skin is on fire from the lack of loving touch. I want them to hear me when I say; I miss being held in the night. I want them to understand this isn’t an invitation; it is simply reaching out to be heard.

I am tired of trying to do everything myself. I am tired of paying the bill when presented. My body is tired, my heart is worn out, my soul is shriveling into itself. I didn’t think I would have to work this hard, maybe I don’t, maybe I simply won’t anymore.

Our wants and our needs, though sometimes they are the same; to be safe, to be clean, to be fed and to be touched. Perhaps we simply need to learn to adjust our expectations. Certainly, I am learning this is what I must do, it seems I am enough to pay the bill when presented but not enough for much more.

I Am

I AM.

Such simple and stark words, I AM. So often we are cautioned to remove ‘I’ from our thinking, from our language, from our definitions of self even. Yet how do we speak to who we are what we are without ‘I AM’. The truth is, until we define who we are as individuals, what we stand for, what we believe it is difficult to move through the world in a meaningful way. We can move like zombies, brainless, dumb to the world around us; but to what purpose? How do we serve even ourselves if we have no ‘self’, no ‘I AM’.

I AM.

Through life’s tumbles and stumbles I believe there is a distinct possibility I know 85% of the conundrum of ‘I AM’. We all ask this question, of who we are and what we are. It is a question we start asking at an early age and continue to ask throughout most of our life. Many of us change our ‘I AM’, sometimes through our life experience and sometimes simply as we search for what fits us best. My ‘I AM’ is a combination of everything, how I was born, what was done to me, what I have done and the choices I have made along the way.

This is my ‘I AM’.

I am human, first and maybe most importantly. No better, no different from any other human I run across in my daily life. What separates me from other humans is nothing but the surface stuff but certainly not our shared humanity.

I am a woman, always. This more than many other things defines me, defines my thinking and how I move through the world.  Vintage_photo_nude_woman_1

I am White of mostly Southern European extraction, though according to the DNA testing we had done some time ago there is a bit of other things thrown in there. It is my understanding some of my heritage is rooted in the Southern European Romany, however this is family lore only.

I am a feminist, not a man-hater but instead a believer in women and their innate power, strength, ability and capability.

I am a political progressive. Not a Democrat, not a Liberal but instead an Independent Progressive. I make no bones or apologies about my leanings; there are certainly some Socialist elements to my political stances. There are components in my thinking that lean outward, toward social good rather than inward toward personal enrichment (Capitalism). My tendency toward compassion, toward helping those of less fortune than I is ingrained a part of my core being, not learned but rather a ‘born this way’ feature of my personality.

I am a person of great spiritual faith and depth. I believe there is something greater than me; I simply do not believe that thing is an Old White Man on a Cloud in the Sky. I am not Christian; I am angry-godwithout a religious affiliation. I was raised in a mixed Christian household, depending on whom you asked, we were Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or other. I have read the Bible, cover to cover more than once. I have read other holy books, thinking there must be a reason people are willing to kill and die for their ‘God’, their faith or their religion. The one thing I have come away with, there is nothing religion can offer me, not one damned thing man can offer me through religion.

I am pro-life. Yes, this is a true statement but it might confuse you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s absolute right to decide whether to end a pregnancy. This is true whether it is the morning after, early in the pregnancy or late in the pregnancy due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances. My stance goes much deeper. I am pro-life, I support any program that enriches, encourages and enables the lives of human beings already born, already living on this earth, we share. I believe strongly we should work to reduce abortion through making contraception readily accessible to all women, make childcare programs available, make sex education appropriate, factual and early enough to count. I believe we value life by ensuring healthcare for all, encouraging education and providing it to all members of society equally. We value life by removing weapons from our streets, making it more difficult to purchase and maintain arsenals, dismantling Stand Your Ground Laws and the Castle Doctrine in our states and shutting down the internet sellers of bullets by the thousands. I believe we value life by raising the minimum wage thus providing at least a ‘living wage’ for families with born children. We value life by insuring our elderly are cared for and their retirement funds are paid through Social Security. We value life by ending the Death Penalty. This is the short list, this is what makes me Pro-Life, anything less is anti-life.

I am a humanist. Yes, I think this is the best description of me. I believe in Human Rights first. I believe it is impossible for us to achieve a civil society without Human Rights taking a step forward. For far too long we have allowed a small cadre of selfish men to march this nation slowly into perdition. We have allowed the Human Rights of many of our citizens be trampled under the heels of kochbrotherthose who simply wished power and riches at the expense of all of us. We were comfortable with the social hierarchy as long as we weren’t on the bottom, so long as we could stand on the shoulder of someone else and point to their disadvantage we were fine thinking maybe we weren’t so bad off. The truth is, we are all the same, the only thing that separates us is the color of our American Express, the size of our bank accounts.

I am a person with a vast capacity too love and a desire to love and be loved. This is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weakness’. This desire to see the best in people, to believe others want what is best for me allows me to see the world through rose-colored glasses and never question motives, to retain a level of naivety despite my experiences and history; this desire and capacity to love allows me to retain an innocence, but it also breaks my heart.

For all my faults, for all my failures, for all that I am still seeking about myself there are some things I am certain of, these are some of them and oddly they haven’t changed in forty years. I have grown in my understanding, but my core values haven’t changed since I was seventeen years old.

Combinination

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