I’m tired. My day job is too exhausting and I’m too angry at a sketchy gamer I made the unfortunate mistake of befriending, trusting, and letting in really really far, only to realize 3 years in that he’s a scam artist and also see his fiancée may help him.
They say successful writers succeed because of 10% talent and 90% hard work. I probably have the 10% talent, but I have a lot of debt and bills I need to pay. I have a young child I need to put through college in 8 years. My job is exhausting–I come home and vegetate or fall asleep. Even when I’m off in the summer I’m so exhausted from the previous 10 months all I do is sleep and vegetate then too, just by the pool. It’s less tiring to read other people’s hard work than try to make my own.
So. I’m going to quietly pack up my writing dreams of 20+ years and just tuck them away in a deep box in the back of a closet. I’m too tired and jaded and angry and heartbroken.
i have things i want to write about, things i want to say. i’m not sure how to organize them in my brain enough to do a very coherent job of it though. these are things about people. people i know and love and respect tremendously. people i don’t know at all yet respect tremendously, or don’t respect a single bit. people i’ve known and loved and now do not and never will again.
i have things to say about the way people are, and how they can be, and what that can do to you. things about how strong you have to be to keep going and not give up in spite of what these people do to you, can push you and push you to do until you do it, and it is something that isn’t you. things about what these people can turn you into.
i have things i want to think about out loud, things about the kinds of people who will tell you they love you…even as they admit to pushing you into doing things they know aren’t good for you. or right. or even very fair. and then i want to think things out loud about those kinds of people and how toxic and cruel they can be to the very monsters they helped create. i want to write things about the hypocritical nature of people. their masks. how they hide, even as they sneer at other people for hiding.
i have things i want to put into words about how some people create the very storms they claim to fear. things about how people only see each other from their very limited, egotistical, narrow points of view; that these points of view are always self-serving, helping them to keep their masks on. to hide. to judge. to not really see themselves. to avoid the reality of their lives. to continue surface living – to play the role of mom of the year. or kind and generous person. or party girl. or cerebral caustic. or literary genius. i want to write things about our labels, those we give others as well as ourselves. i want to write things about how when you try to help someone remove their label, they lash out at you. they fire anger in the wrong direction. they deceive, they manipulate, they hurt, they destroy. to preserve the label. to preserve the lie.
i wish i could find a way to put into words the things i’m feeling about people who condemn this group of people or this person but not that other group of people or that other person, and how they do this because if they really saw the world, their lives, themselves as is, they’d have a mental breakdown they’d never recover from because they simply aren’t built or equipped to handle reality or the truth, no matter what they tell themselves, no matter what they scream into the wind.
i want to write things about how some people are trapped in a movie they desperately wish will come true for them, things about how some people want to exist in a fairy tale that isn’t real. i wish i could cohesively put into words, in a way that would reach these people, that love doesn’t fix or save anyone but especially people who cannot exist without blinders. i want to write things about how duplicitous some people are, how they view love and reality as a game. how people are pawns to them, in their quest to have their fairy tale movie life.
i have things i want to write about, about the nature of honesty versus lies. about how some people talk a lot about freedom being the most important thing of all, but then go on to work themselves to death to help other people get richer. i want to write things about how money is so necessary now that even people who have found a way not to work to help anyone else get richer have to ask for money from others who are working for other people’s enrichment. i want to write things about how sometimes people are so focused on not helping others get richer they forget and end up preying on people who are doing that. they enter relationships that aren’t happy, because they need to pay the mortgage. they beg the internet for money. they use sickness and love and tug on heart strings to pay the electric bill. i want to write things about the evils of money. about how it traps us, and makes us people we aren’t. i want to write things about how fame can do that, too.
i want to write things about the predatory nature of human beings but particularly men, how some men are predatory in non-violent ways. i want to write things about how men who like the hunt will search out women who are vulnerable and struggling with self-esteem, then mark them for their personal ego gratification. i want to write things about how these kinds of men say anything, do anything, to keep those women on the fringes of their lives…through the use of quiet manipulation, outright lies, the abuse of love. i want to write things about how someone can find a very lovely human being and pour gasoline on them over and over until they have no choice but to light themselves on fire…to get away, to save themselves. i want to write things about how manipulation isn’t a sustainable way to have a relationship with another human being. nor lies. nor cheating. no, not even utopian concepts like polyamory.
i want to write things about pain. about how easy it is to give into it, to keep going back and touching the wounds though you know the only way to let them heal is to give them to the air, and maybe god, and that the only way for air, and maybe god, to work is for you to stop touching them.
i want to write things about how hard it is for someone to watch a person they love touch bleeding wounds over and over and over and know they can’t stop them from doing it, this is just what they have to do until they learn. until they learn.
and i want to write things about how some people never learn.
i want to write things about how hard it is to be here. how hard it is watch people you love leave and not be able to follow them, or even to text or call them again. i want to write things about how hard it is to grieve someone you murdered yet is still alive. i want to write things about how hard it is to be able to watch them through a glass darkly, though gossamer threads of technology. i want to write things about how we can know someone so well, so thoroughly, and when we finally see them without their mask know: this is not who i thought, this is pain. i want to write things about how we can watch someone through a glass darkly and know about karma, and how people are just not as happy or as okay as they put on their timelines or their feeds or even in their blogs. things about how we can watch them still, waiting. waiting. waiting. for what? i want to write about those things. and why we’d even want those things. for people we once loved, or claim to love still. i want to write things about how even monsters can be beautiful, and not completely terrible.
i want to write things about working in careers that are not really your passion, but help you pay bills so you can cook food and clean the toilet and drive your child to dance class and have technology to watch other people through a glass darkly. i want to write about how exhausting it is, and how there doesn’t seem to be much anyone can do about it. for now. i want to write things about debt, and the people who make money off of other people who go into debt. i want to write things about what true freedom looks and feels like, and how that most likely doesn’t involve a job or money or debt or looking through dark glasses of gossamer technological threads. i want to write things about how most of us are so very conditioned to help enrich the richest that we would simply not even know what to do with real freedom if we truly had it. i want to write things about what true freedom actually looks like, feels like.
i want to write things about bodies, and how these feel like traps. things about industries that make fistfuls of money from people feeling trapped in and unhappy with their bodies. i want to write things about sex, things about industries that make fistfuls of money from people who are addicted to it, who use it to fill voids, who feel entitled to it, who are willing to risk their worlds and self-respect to have access to it…even if it turns out not to be fulfilling at all. i want to write things about women who make money to pay their bills and raise their children by using sex, things about how that’s always been a thing and why is that?
i want to write things about people – men in particular – who seem to be obsessed with this idea that we are, at heart, just cave people still. men like to hunt, women gather. men want to spread their seed, women take care of the cave and its children. i want to write things about the misogyny at the heart of that faux science, the pain it creates in general but also to specific lives. i want to write things about polyamory, things about how sometimes ideas are good in theory but incredibly impractical given human nature.
i want to write things about how misogynistic men can cover it up – even to the point of fooling themselves they are not even slightly misogynistic, in fact, are champions of women – by using love concepts to get what they want. i want to write things about what creates this, about what mothers can do to their sons and fathers can do to their daughters, and vice versa…what mothers can do to their daughters and fathers can do to their sons. i want to write things about how we pay other people to listen to our things, hoping that getting it off our chests will lead us to find solutions, fixes. i want to write things about how sometimes things just are, that there are no solutions, or at least not the solutions we were hoping for. i want to write things about paying others to listen to our things, and how that only works when we tell the absolute truth about ourselves, and our things. i want to write about how so many of us rarely do that because the masks are so comfortable, so safe. we prefer the lies. the false dreams. the illusions.
i want to write things about how darkness seeks out light, to consume it. things about how bright light has to be to fight the darkness, and that – even when it does – light is often dimmed for a long time by the shadows in darkness, shadows created by all of the things i just wrote about wanting to write about it, and how it takes such a very long time to find the light again, because the shadows are so shadowy, and the darkness is so dark.
i want to write things about how easy it is to hate other people, to hate ourselves. i want to write things about how important forgiveness is, and that forgiving ourselves is actually far more important than forgiving other people. i want to write things about how finding the ability to forgive – ourselves or other people – can take years, decades, a lifetime. i want to write things about how forgiveness is somewhere in the light, but the shadows feel safer. i want to write things about how important it is to claw your way back to the light, away from the shadows, but that is a fight for your life and you are defeated more often than not. i want to write things about how defeating that feels. i want to write things about how there is a true you and a false you, and that anyone who tries to tell you thinking that way is distancing language is not someone who knows anything about love or how to live authentically. or in the light.
i want to write things about how many things take a very long time, sometimes much longer than we have here to do them. i want to write things about how limited our time here is, how important every second is, how dark gossamer threads of technology steal those seconds; and i want to write things about how draining it is to keep fighting everything the world brings us, and how the shadows like this, that this is why shadows exist in the first place. i want to write things about how everything i want to write about has always been true for human beings, and i don’t know how to write about things that are that hard.
i want to write about shadow things. i think that was my point to this. i wish i could write about things that aren’t touchable, yet feel as solid as mountains.
I’m going to be real (I like to be real, and not waste people’s time): this has been a summer. Last summer was a summer. And the summer before. And the summer before. As I go into the home stretch before my life gets very, very scheduled and quite hectic and very exhausting (5:00 AM alarms, y’all), I like to reflect at the halfway point – how’d it go? Am I okay? Better than when I started? Or worse off?
I had some lovely days. Truly, very lovely days. Almost an entire week by the pool by myself, reading a good book. One whole lovely day in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a very very blue lake. I got my closet cleaned out (finally), and my daughter is sleeping in her own bed 90% of the time (this has been a major Thing since she was 2 years old…long story). I finished one whole, wildly good book (highly recommend: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore – so much wisdom, simply and entertainingly told via fiction…with some deeply disturbing scenes, and these are disturbing simply because they are just not that far fetched to imagine happening today; humans are basically terrible things. If I were to sum up this story, that’s what I’d say: humans are terrible things, though capable of huge love). I’m reading The Passion of Mary Magdalenby Elizabeth Cunningham currently. It’s not for people who like to read the Bible literally, or believe Jesus of Nazareth was God Incarnate. I do not do or believe either of those things, so I’m willing to consider Mary of Magdalen could have been born a Celtic priestess, educated by Welsh druids, enslaved to become a whore by the Romans. Whatever, it’s a wild story and I’m only on page 112 of 620. Wild stories are the best kinds.
But I’ve also had some crap days. I didn’t start eating healthier the way I wanted to…too many fun days with friends and family. I didn’t start a work out program the way I’d intended…too much staying up late and sleeping in. I didn’t write as much as I wanted to…too much intense anger that created lack of focus. (I have been really, really, really angry. For a long, long, long time.) I’ve had some reckonings this summer. I’ve given some other people some reckonings too. I don’t care whether it was my place or cruel to do it or not. Sometimes you be cruel to be kind. It’s my new motto.
But it doesn’t leave me feeling very good about myself. Or other people. Or the world.
My daughter and I have had some knock down, screaming fights. That’s really why I’m writing this. Let’s have a hard, honest, heart-to-heart talk about what it means to be a single mom raising a girl, an only child girl at that. In the 21st century.
And I’m going to share some really private information not to be an attention ho or a crappy mom (trust: if you want to call me a crappy mom, I’ve literally got about 10 other things I’ve done or said or not done or not said to her that far outweigh everything I’m about to share here). I’m sharing because I KNOW I’m not the only mother on the face of this planet who deals with some or most or all of this.
First, she’s nine going on thirteen, desperate to be twenty-one. Part of this is YouTube and the Internet. But even if I outlawed and obsessively monitored every single website and thing she was exposed to on the Internet, I couldn’t save her from other kids whose parents haven’t been obsessive. I’ve had other parents, other teachers, other people judge me about this, subtly try to shame me, and whenever I think about it, really think about it, I’m fucking livid. Because this is how people are in the 21st century. They have all kinds of opinions, based on their own political or religious beliefs, or one or two things they’ve seen on TV or read on the Internet, or have experienced, and they jump to conclusions. They don’t ask; they just insinuate. And my job makes it tricky for me to go full mama bear on any of these people, which I absolutely would if I were in a different career. So there’s that part of parenting. But even if I obsessively monitored her Internet activity, there is still even just regular TV. The kids on today’s TV shows are smart-mouthed. The adults are bumbling fools. The kids are cool, the grown ups are clowns. Essentially, this is the crux of all of my fights with my child: I am not a clown, YOU are. Because you are nine, and think you know what you’re talking about, and you aren’t even fully developed abstract thinker right now. Piaget said so. I have a college degree that included three classes on what child development experts learned by studying your kind, so stop arguing with me.
And there’s peer pressure. I personally don’t want my child to have a phone – a smartphone – until she’s in middle school. Really, I don’t want her to have one until high school, but I’ll acquiesce and get her one when she starts 6th grade. Meanwhile, all the other psycho parents are getting their KINDERGARTENER smart phones. Seriously, what the hell does a 5 year old need their own data plan for? (FYI: I’m about to be a hypocrite in three more paragraphs because I’m totally judging here, and later complaining about being judged). My child sees other children with these things, and feels left out. We argue about it. She negates Piaget. I tell her she’s wrong. She argues again. I say NO. She screams. I say NO. A door slams. My blood pressure rises. Rinse. Repeat.
Also complicating my parenting stress: I’ve never written about it, but she also has a condition called premature adrenarche. She started having adult-type body odor when she was 2 and growing pubic hair, then was diagnosed at 4 with it after we finally took her to see an endocrinologist. Girls, ethnically, develop like this (not every girl, but generally speaking): African-American girls go into puberty first, then Hispanic/Latina girls, then Caucasians, then Asian girls.
With premature adrenarche, she’s going to be first of the first. I’m not sure that it has anything to do really with her ethnic heritage (ethnically, my daughter is a mixture of African-American, Caucasian-European, and Native American), but it’s just something we’ve been aware of since she was four years old and told: she’ll hit puberty young, possibly in 3rd grade.
And here we are.
She’s also extremely tall for her age; her dad is 6’2″ and I’m 5’10”, so this makes sense. But right now, screaming fights with her get a little scary for me – she’s not as tall as me, but the top of her head reaches my forehead. And she’s muscular. And she’s pretty much in puberty; womanhood is simply not far off for her. We are dealing with an amazing amount of hormones, in other words. And not the good kind of hormones; the kind of hormones I have dealt with my entire life: hormones that make her weepy then enraged then weepy then enraged, and the amount of rage is stunning. On top of all of THAT, she’s opinionated, headstrong, dramatic, and beyond stubborn (omg I wonder where she gets THAT from????).
So I’m envisioning, in my brain, what’s going to happen, oh, three years from now when she hits 13 and the TRUE parenting fun begins. And I know I need to cull it and reign it in NOW, before doctors start telling me she’s of age and they can’t tell me anything without her consent (I’m not kidding: I’ve been told this is a real thing in the state of Georgia when a child hits 14).
She’s an only child. This is part of our problem. Because she doesn’t WANT to be an only child. She wants what she sees other people having (and omg where the heck did she get THAT from, I wonder??): two parents and siblings.
No matter how much I explain to her: two parents doesn’t equal happy, and siblings are a pain in the ass, trust me I grew up with one…she doesn’t care. And my level of guilt about this is gigantic, you guys. Gigantic. Because one of the perks of having at least one sibling is (a) you have someone to run to when one or both of your parents is driving you nuts or worrying you – your sibling grew up with this person or these people, they know; and (b) there is a comfort in knowing when both of your parents are gone, there is someone in the world still who’s a connection to them, to your childhood, to that life you once lived.
On the other hand, siblings generally don’t stop being a pain in the ass until you’re no longer living under the same roof. And speaking for myself, I love my brother immensely, but I’m kind of closer to his wife my sister in law at this point. She calls me more. (Love you, Chad! MWAH!)
So we’re trying to come up with ways to help her have the “feel” of having a baby sibling, but for me not to have to (a) put my body or exhaustion levels through that process again, (b) not have financial help in raising a baby then a child then another pre-pre-teen alone, and (c) not to have to put my body or exhaustion levels through that process again. A and C are the most important. Right now, she’s decided she’d like to babysit. The problem with this is: she’s not 13. Thirteen seems to be the Magic Age. This distresses and angers her. I mean, SUPER angers her. Yesterday I sarcastically apologized for having the gaul to birth her in 2008 and not 2005. (We settled on pet sitting and dog walking, but I had to stay on her to feed our cat today, and the litter box is still not emptied, so we aren’t off to a great start.)
The other part of the problem is my child is an extrovert. I am not. I am decidedly not. I’ve made a sweet new friend at work who is, and I’ve had to break her heart several times this summer by saying No to some outings she wanted my company on. She understands, and is sad because (I quote): “Amy! You’re such a delightful person! I just love your humor and laugh and spirit! I wish you liked to be around people more!” This woman has known me only a year, and has basically summed me up in about three sentences.
But I can’t. I just can’t. I can once in awhile, but not all the time. I cannot. People drain me. After I’m around a lot of them, or even just small groups of them for extended periods, I need a good day or two of decompression. I get weepy and weird. I have to lie on my sofa and read or scroll through social media feeds or watch TV. Had I known when I picked teaching as my profession how I was, and how much peopling it truly involves, I would be doing something else today. I’m okay Monday through Friday, but Saturdays are my decompression days. Every Saturday. That’s one reason I make no apologies for taking summers off; I have peopled enough, end of July through end of May. I have peopled enough. I typically take all of June JUST to decompress from August through May.
My child is the opposite. She wants (and needs) friends and play dates. So I don’t mind hosting friends over once in awhile, but two things happen: first, I get annoyed when the other mom doesn’t reciprocate, and I’m sorry that’s not how life works. I took one of her little friends out to the movies once, spent a ton of money on both of them, and that family never even invited Miss M over for an afternoon play date. I don’t care if that comes across petty; there’s an unspoken but understood Universal balance to play dates and that family’s weighing down the seesaw. Nope.
Second, I just don’t want to hang out with these moms. They’re usually not the kind of people I’d choose to hang out with. I’m cool chit chatting at pick up and drop off, but I don’t want to spend the afternoon with them. We have the exact kinds of conversations I abhor: we talk the weather. We talk about chit chatty, small talk things. And we typically have to do this thing I call The Mom Dance, where I have to be careful and she/they have to be careful to make sure we look like great moms, but we all know we aren’t. I prefer moms who are open and honest about how they really mom: they stress eat and drink, they cuss in front of their kids, sometimes they let them have ice cream or cereal for dinner because they’re too damn tired to cook, they lose their shit a lot more than the world wants moms to lose that, and occasionally, just occasionally, when they’re alone and exhausted and just really really really done with everyone else’s shit, they wish they could get in their cars and just drive and drive and not come back. They love their children with their entire beings; they do not regret having child or children. But they question the sanity of having children in today’s world – not just with the crazy politics and stuff going on, but with crazy PEOPLE. The judgments. The other day on Twitter I put up something that said something like if I’d known what was going to happen in the USA by 2018, I might not have had a child. I found it really fascinating that at least 3 men kind of jumped on me for saying that. I didn’t say I regretted having a child; I said I wouldn’t have had a child had I known.
Men are full of all kinds of opinions about women, though. I find. Even the good ones. Even the ones I love a lot. We’ll just blame the Y chromosome and leave it at that. I do like men; I’m not going to be an asshole to a man who’s just expressing concern over a child. But unless you’re in my life and in my house, you, Mr. Guy, don’t know what I deal with. And you don’t understand the level of worry I lie awake in bed at night with. Life is very different for you as a man.
Tonight I am tired. This was a rough day. We’ve had a lot of Come to Jesus moments this summer, she and I. Today was a big one. Because one of the OTHER things I’m worried about is breaking her spirit. I WANT a child, a young lady, a grown woman who will scare the SHIT out of men – not all men, just the kinds who really really need to have the shit scared out of them. I want to raise a girl who knows it’s okay to march to your own drum, it’s okay to play the drums, and dresses and heels aren’t even remotely comfortable; wear pants and go barefoot when marching and playing your drum. I’m raising my daughter to stand up to people and say goodbye to friends who show her they’re not good friends, actually. One of the friends I said goodbye to this year was someone she actually adored, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was talk to her about why he was gone. She asked: what if I run into him somewhere, will he be mean to me? And I had to consider that, because I don’t know…he and I ended on a really toxic note. But I also don’t want to destroy her innocence about the world or for her to wrestle with some of the friendship stuff I do, so I just told her no, no he thinks the world of you and his and my problems aren’t yours. He’d be very sweet to you, and very kind. He’s not all bad. Just bad for me. Because I want her to be able to see people for who and what they are, before it’s too late, but also not to grow up afraid of getting close to other people. It’s just one of the hardest parts of life I’ve had, and I’ll be honest and just say I really have no idea how to help her with it, except to be honest with her: this is hard.
And being a mom is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Ever. Ever. Whether you’re married or with a partner, or single with a great co-parent, or single with an absent ex-partner…being a mom is deeply, incredibly, heartbreakingly hard.
But it’s also really cool! Because you have a selfie partner so you don’t look TOO narcissitic-y. And sometimes I watch her talking or laughing with other people and I just love her. The other day she was in her room laughing at something on television, and the joy and love I felt listening to her was completely and utterly overwhelming. I know what life was like prior to her existence, and I do long for those days at times – cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a door slammed in my face this summer, flipped her off behind that door, and walked away muttering: Good. Stay there, bitch. Yes, I did say that. Yes, I have called my child the b- word, and you can go right ahead and call the police on me if your meddling, judge-y ass feels like it and then I’ll get to flip you off and call you the next step word, the C-dash-dash-dash word that gives 99% of all Americans (except this one) the vapors.
Because I say it is okay to admit your kid can be an asshole and NOT go to jail over it. Know why? Cuz kids can be assholes. Piaget said so. And back in the day, about 1975 or so, people actually said that to kids’ faces and did much worse – I once had my mouth washed out with soap for some word-related infraction. So I think we’re fine saying it to doors they slam in our faces, especially if it’s true: they’re being a jerk. (We’ve talked about that too; we do not slam doors in parents’ faces…we do not refer to our parents words like “dude” or “woman” or “bro” or “sis” or “yo”…we do not tell our parents “no” and argue with them about how terrible they’re making our lives…we do not…we do not…this list goes on for five more paragraphs.)
But I’ve also had sublime moments of pure joy this summer. I love that she’s sleeping in her own bed now, but last night she had a nightmare and I woke up at 3 AM to find her next to me. I’m okay with this – everybody needs comfort at 3 AM when they’ve had a nightmare. And she earned her mermaid fins for working hard to bravely sleep in her own room (though we did have some supreme arguments at 2 AM when I refused to let her in my bed…she’s not used to me being mean, and there’s another long story about why I’m just now being very very very mean finally). They came this afternoon and watching her transform into the mermaid she’s always wanted to be was delightful. It was one of the best parts of my day.
And maybe that’s what parenting kids just is: some days are great, some days are crap, but find one best thing. I don’t know. If I knew, I wouldn’t have written this not-cohesive or concise blog entry about it.
My angry-at-men story was shite, as the Irish say. Imma put it aside and work on it another day. Maybe.
You know what I figured out today, though? There are actually a LOT of men I can take my angry-at-men-two-men-in-particular out on. These men all worship Donald Trump, and sometimes they decide they’re gonna show ME on Twitter. Gonna show me. ME. Like that’s actually a safe and smart plan. Clearly they haven’t been following my life the last few years.
I LIVE for these people. They give me a chance to flex my feminist muscles AND get some negative energy out ON the negative energy in the world. It’s really a win-win: they get to pretend they’re super clever, I get to slam-shame them into tiny pieces AND try out my most creative cuss combos, then I block them because they’re clearly psychos and possibly Russian operatives, and we all go on with our lives, bada bing bada boom, WORLD PEACE, Y’ALL.
Also, it’s cathartic. And cathartic is ALWAYS good. Ask Sophocles and Shakespeare.
I didn’t write tonight. Or I did, but I did a hashtag game called#secondcivilwarletters. Apparently those of us who do NOT support or like Trump are to start the Second Civil War tomorrow, July 4, 2018. Alex “Why Am I Not Hospitalized And On Anti-Psychotics Yet” Jones of InfoWars said so. Which so surprised me, because MY personal 4th of July plan was to just eat a hot dog and drink a Budweiser. Maybe light a few sparklers. The sparkle lit ’round the world. I guess? Far right conservatives are weirdos. But okay. Second Civil War it is. For YOU, Alex.
Anywho. I think I’m going to work on my dark fairy tale. It’s closer to being finished, and it makes more sense. I’m not giving up on my anti-user men tale; I’m just taking that idea and letting it sit for a bit til I cool off some more.
Also, I have to go to Whole Foods. I hear all Democrat Socialists are gathering there for a strategic planning meeting on how to send a mass shipment of pork butt to the White House. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is War, and War is hell.
These are my contributions, aka my writing process for Tuesday night, July 3 (aka The Eve of the Second Civil War):
I’m going to start a story. I’ve been working on it in my favorite location, which is my sofa, IN MY BRAIN. I was going to outline some stuff, and I may before I start actually typing. I can’t sit and outline the story arc PLUS the characters PLUS the plot twists and whatever. (A) that’s too disciplined, and (b) I’m not disciplined, I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet or not. So I’m just going to start. I have the working title (“Repeated, Intense Stress”) and the basic gist of the story I want to tell. I probably should at least get some main characters, figure out what they want, and what is stopping them getting it. There. That will be my outline:
Main Character 1
Main Character 2
Begin typing, tally ho and away!
This is pretty much how I approach every single thing in my life. Which may also be why every day I go: I’m going to get up early tomorrow and lift weights. Then I go to bed at 1 AM and sleep til 10:30 AM and can barely make a pot of coffee before it’s 3 PM and I’m already trying to figure out how to pull myself the couch and at least empty the dishwasher. (I’m joking, it’s not that bad…except on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every rainy Sunday.) (Also: I make ZERO apologies for how I spend my summers. I fit 12 months of work into 10 months, and half of that is front and back end loaded on the end of my work years, and really I don’t know how it’s gotten like this but if anyone can figure out how to make it stop I’ll gladly work a regular work year and only whine a tiny bit less about it.)
Man I’m angry. Listen. Don’t try to interact with me on Twitter if you’re there to judge me on any level, be an arrogant jerk, or apologize for some man accused of some heinous thing. I no longer have the patience for it.
Also: don’t try to interact with me if, two years or two months or even two hours ago, I unequivocally and very clearly with great and tremendous force told you to stay the ever living hell away from me. For. EVAH. And don’t whine to me about forgiveness of YOUR sins. If I’ve stopped interacting with you, punching at you with my words, etc etc and so forth, trust me: you’re forgiven. But it does NOT mean you and what you said or did are forgotten. I don’t care WHAT you have to say about MY actions. Focus on YOURS. Take care of YOU. I don’t care how many women you’ve convinced you’re a great guy. I don’t care how many spiritual people you quote or how much lip service you pay to goodness and kindness, how much you talk about how you’ve changed. Are you kidding me?? I’ve got gigantic files saved on a flash drive to remind me of what you did, lest I start to get stupid again. I don’t keep these to be an asshole, I keep these as insurance policies, to protect myself. I now understand the nature of selfish men. You know what you did. So if I’m not going after you to publicly ruin you, then you’re forgiven. But forgiveness does NOT mean I have to EVER interact with you again. In any way, ESPECIALLY if your intent while interacting with me was to take advantage of me, use me, prey upon my vulnerability and lack of boundaries, and just generally use me as your personal hump toy. You are a bad man. Go away.
So don’t like my tweets, don’t encourage your latest social media friends to follow me, don’t interact with people you see me interact with frequently, don’t even LOOK like you’re trying to get one of your little toes back in my door. When I get to a point I very angrily and publicly tell you to GO AWAY, and start calling you names, a door has been slammed, locked, bolted, with several 2x4s nailed across it and a gigantic piece of metal welded on top of all THAT, for good measure. This is called theINFJ Door Slam, even though I officially always come out INFP on those tests. I do have some INFJ in me, quite a lot actually, and I’m wondering if the two are just really kind of interchangeable. Or maybe I’m sun in INFP with a moon in INFJ. Either way, the INFJ Door Slam is a real thing, and even though the INFP in me is begging the INFJ in me to please not be so cold and hard-hearted, my INFJ feminist has put in her ear buds and is currently blasting Alanis Morrisette’s You Oughtta Know until her eardrums beg for mercy.
That’s how I work.
Speaking of…I got to hear from an old friend about two weeks ago. He texted, then he called me. It was a good and a bad conversation, in that I was able to apologize in person for going after him very publicly for hurting my heart. He did try to do the right by me, and I acted like…well, I acted like an entitled little bitch. Which I am not, but in that time period, with what I was dealing with and going through? I was. So I told him he hadn’t deserved a lot of what I said about him…but then he said a bunch of things that made me go: hmm. Maybe you DID deserve at least SOME of it.
The last conversation we had via text basically was him being very cutesy, and me going: get in touch with me if you want to have a REAL conversation and be FRIENDS. Because unlike the two men I’ve INFJ door slammed on, I did not INFJ door slam on B. Which makes me sad. Because I genuinely kind of adore B and think he’s funny and has got great man growth potential. When he’s not being a perv.
Which is also part of the story I’m about to write. Kinda. Sorta. Just…Men, please don’t use women. On any level. Not sweet women at least. If you’re old enough, you know the difference between a sweet, nice, good girl versus a female version of you. I’m sure there are chicks out there who are just out for the sex. Please go find them. Please do not find sweet, good girls on the Internet and use them. Just please don’t. Because what happens is, you wreak havoc and damage and then whine and get upset when it comes back on you. I will NOT apologize for any horrible thing I have said or done to ANY man I’ve met via Twitter. Ask those two guys. They may not tell you the whole truth, but I guarantee if they read this they know exactly what I’m talking about and why. They know what they did.
Guys are all weirded out and upset by the #MeToo stuff and our extreme anger. Are men seriously saying they reeeallly don’t understand and are shocked why some girl they really thought was very sweet would suddenly go ape shit angry on them? After being physically and verbally abused by men in the past? And then told she was basically just a convenience? REALLY.
Go do some self-examining. YOUR past actions, YOUR past choices. You wanna get mad at us for being upset you used our bodies for your needs? Then don’t do that. You wanna get mad at us for ruining your “happy” home life by taking out a wrecking ball (YOU handed to us) and becoming whistle blowers? Then don’t cheat. Plus, while you’re so upset about the repeated, intense stress that caused you, does it ever occur to you that you, yes YOU, caused repeated, intense stress for the women you were so gleefully hiding right out in plain sight? You think that was fun? You think deciding to be a whistle blower is fun? You know what happens to whistle blowers, right? Go look it up. They don’t have fun lives. Look at Edward Snowden.
So yeah. I’m pretty ticked. I don’t have a lot of patience for male tools on the Internet OR the apologist, simpering women who gang up on the women for them…the chicks who don’t get what’s going on yet. I probably don’t punch the women as hard, and that’s probably because I used to be in their ranks, and I know why they are the way they are. But Internet dudes? Oooh. Y’all. Y’ALL. Just. Make wise choices. Please.
Anyway. I don’t know how this story will turn out. I’ve read different opinions: don’t write mad…write mad!! Don’t write while drinking…write drunk, edit sober!! Don’t write fictionalized real life narratives…write what you know!! So screw it. I’m writing a fictionalized real life narrative while mad and drinking. (which, contrary to what you may be thinking at this point, I have actually not started doing…yet.)
Here’s an excerpt I worked on the other day. I was texting a friend about some stuff she was dealing with, and I literally looked at a paragraph I’d typed to her and went: that looks like it should be part of a story. And off I went.
And just so no one thinks I’m completely lost, please know I have GOOD men in my life. Steady men, men who bring my heart a lot of happiness, a lot of peace. And I even have men I interact with online who are GENTLEMEN. Sweet, good guys who I think will make lovely friends for a long time. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’ve scared them shitless. So we cool.
today is national writing day so i felt like i should finally pay attention to this blog i’ve paid $40 per year to have a domain for, with no ads. i just painted my nails so i’m reducing the amount of keyboard clicking by not hitting the shift button and also i just don’t feel like hitting the shift button today for capitals…punctuation only, and i’m mulling over writing the rest of this blog sans that, too.
i really don’t know what to write about, i’ll be honest. other than i’m having a rough summer with my 9 year old. kids are exhausting, particularly girls. and it’s hard to be an introvert who’s just fine reading or watching tv all day to be raising an extrovert who needs people around her to feel okay in the world. on the one hand, summers are supposed to be boring. kids can and should be bored sometimes; the world (and their parents) aren’t here to entertain them – in fact, i say it’s the other way around: dance, little kids, dance. amuse us, minions.
last saturday miss m and i helped potential new american citizens apply for citizenship. i learned a lot. things like…the application is actually a book. the second 50 pages is the actual application; upon which you – the application filler outer – must write the 9-digit green card number in the right hand corner. ON EVERY PAGE. the first 50 pages is teeny tiny print of all the restrictions, red flags, requirements, and expectations the united states of america makes of its potential new citizens. if only it had these for its natural citizens! there would certainly be no president trump, i assure you. for example, one of the requirements is to have no tax fraud for the whole time they’ve been here. i’m just going to leave that little subtle accusation right there. argue if you like; he refuses to release his tax returns. i believe nothing til i see ’em.
i helped two little old couples. neither spoke much english, but there’s an exemption for older citizens who’ve been legal permanent residents for at least 15 years. the first couple qualified – the grandpa was a tall, stately looking mexican gentleman. i promise he may have been zorro at one point in his life. his wife was a tiny, sweet lady whose body somehow carried ten babies full-term in her younger years. bless. i had one, and while i actually enjoyed being pregnant, i think about the birthing process itself, what she did to my body, and what she’s doing to my mind currently and just…bless.
the second couple needs to come back in about 4 years to apply so they can meet the exemption. i had to ask each person why they wanted to be a citizen, and each replied: because it’s time. but because of what’s going on, i did wonder: are they also here because they’re scared? they want to make sure no ICE shows up at their door for no reason and sends them back? if you aren’t a natural born citizen, these are scary times. my god, i’m a natural born citizen and i’m getting a bit nervous.
at any rate. i really don’t have much more to say or write about today. i wish there were no borders. miss m’s dad refuses to put down those divider things on supermarket conveyor belts; he feels they’re unfriendly and not neighborly. i mostly agree with him, but i use them anyway because one time i wasn’t watching and the person behind me let me pay for 3 of their things before stopping the cashier. i went ahead and paid because they were little things, i’m too nice, and i used it as my random act of kindness for that day. but i have my suspicions, to this day, that kind of person does that a lot.
….but then that’s me being donald trump isn’t it? we just help our fellow people, and if they take advantage of us, they take advantage of us. we can always get on social media and shame the crap out of them for being anuses. be sure to have written or photographic evidence on a flash drive somewhere because anuses always like to go: i did not!! when, in fact, they always did.
i have story ideas floating around in my head, but no focus to write them but i’m going to try tonight, for YOU, national writing day. for you.
what happens with me and writing is, i go: before i write today, i need to clean the kitchen and do this load of laundry and deal with the clothes on my bed that have been sitting there for almost a month and i’m tired of sleeping on the sofa even though i think all of this has re-trained my kid to sleep in her own bed and room. but i need my bed. so i make plans to clean the kitchen, while washing clothes, and doing laundry. then i end up shopping or at the pool for three hours, and when i get back i’m pooped. so i sit on my sofa for a bit looking at twitter getting worked up over politics or whatever. then it’s time to make dinner, then clean the kitchen. i did not get to the laundry, i did not get to the clothes. it’s late, i’m tired, and there’s the tv and my phone (televisions and smart phones are of the devil, and the devil is laughing because he knows we need them – i need them…i need the tv to keep my kid occupied and i need to phone so the outside world can reach me as i have no landline anymore). and once more, i go to bed having done no real writing. anne lamott made me feel a bit better about this yesterday on twitter. apparently, her writing day yesterday involved a lot of laundry, too. and she has a lovely house. i hope it smells like lavender and patchouli. (that’s my house smell goal. i want to have a lovely home that smells like lavender and patchouli.)
or i don’t write because i get icked out by some jerk. (a jerk from my past “liked” a tweet of mine the other day, and it sent me reeling into enraged PTSD…life was pretty cool not knowing where he was on that website, and i actually pretty much forgot he’d even existed…now here he is. he’s latched on to some sweet woman who has no idea what he is, and he is still very much the creep he was two years ago. the more things change the more they stay the same.)
how do real writers do it? how do they write with laundry to do and wayward children to raise, with horrible things going on in the world, and horrible people reminding you they are still horrible? i don’t know. i don’t know.
i have nothing further or productive to add to the national writing day convo, and i should probably at least shower. also my nails are dry so I’M ENDING THIS USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FOR BALANCE.
Once, when I was 5, I woke up from a nap and couldn’t find my mom. I was devastated. I convinced myself she died, and found a photograph of her, a pair of her earrings, and I think maybe a handkerchief. I quickly erected a Mommy Shrine and sobbed, because I’d never see my mother again. After 3 minutes, I wept, and laid my smiling, beautiful mommy to rest. In my sock drawer.
Eventually I went to the garage. My dad was cleaning it out. He went, “what’s wrong with you?” And I broke down and wailed, “Mommy is gone and I’ll never ever see her again!! She left me! All alone!!” And started crying uncontrollably. “What?! What are you talking about?? Your mother went to the store. She’ll be back in an hour. Get out of here. Go play in the basement.” Said my easily annoyed dad. (It was 1977, that’s just how people talked to their kids. My 2 year old brother was often tied to the swingsset on a leash. For example.)
I’ve always told that story because it makes me laugh now – and thus a lifetime of anxiety was born. But I also remember how beyond utterly devastated I was, for 10-15 minutes, thinking I’d never see my mom again. That I’d never find her. She’d never tuck me in again. No more hugs. No more home cooked meals; I’d never seen my dad cook…how would we eat??
She was gone. It was terrifying and my 5 year old mind literally didn’t know how to process it.
I’m thinking about that, with these children who are separated from their moms and dads, with no way of processing what’s happening. And no dad to roll his eyes and tell them to get over it. And no mom to come home eventually and go, “That’s silly. Of course I’d never leave you.” And no hugs. That happened 41 years ago and I still remember it like yesterday. And I have resources and have had therapy. That’s how horrifying it was…I wasn’t being hurt by my country, I wasn’t begging asylum out of fear for my life…my mom came back and made dinner and we watched M*A*S*H. I can joke about it today, I’m okay. But it devastated me in that moment so much it’s stuck with me, the real deep fear, for the rest of my life.
I think about that and what these babies are experiencing. I don’t anticipate jokes or relief in their futures. I don’t.
This is not okay. It’s not. THIS IS A BIPARTISAN/MULTI-RELIGION NOT OKAY. it is NOT. Okay.
My doctor consistently tells me I’m low on the D. Don’t make sexist jokes, I mean Vitamin D. Okay, fine. Make your sexist jokes, because those are occasionally funny but usually get you blocked. My point is: I’ve realized, since sitting in the sun a lot these past few weeks, I actually am feeling less cranky. Less judge-y. Less jump-to-conclusions-y. More able to let things roll off me. I still have a lot of sarcastic thoughts and Are You Flippin’ KIDDING Me??? feelings about what happened March through the beginning of June as well as leading up to that period, the sheer gall of some kinds of men (and women) in the world. The need to deny the truth, to enable certain behaviors and stay in certain patterns, because that is what’s known and it’s not safe but has the illusion of safe, which I’m now learning is more important to many people than freedom, even people who talk a good game about being free and giving and receiving love; they just aren’t really able to walk their talk.
I’ve had a terrible time with some people’s lack of self-reflection and awareness, which are the foundations of hypocrisy, but their ability to do a good job of pretending to have it and having to watch other people high five them for things that are not the truth. I have such a hard time with this.
But other than that…mostly? I’m pretty good, and fairly confident I’ll be able to stay in this lane with maybe only a few slides here and there but no more sharp wrong turns. No matter what happens from here on out. I’ve got a couple of story ideas I’m going to flesh out…one I think is going to be a very very short story, and the other I want to keep short but maybe flesh out later into something longer. And I’ve gotten distracted (by GOOD things, like pool days and time with my family and a day trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains to see someone I think the world of)…so I haven’t gotten around to printing out my fairy tale so I can edit and flesh that out. I will.
My sweet friend Angie (the person I think the world of) was slightly worried about my last blog post. (Please go read Angie’sblog, too…first, because she writes better than me and second, she has far more important thinks about the world to share). I think my uncle’s (natural) death followed on the heels of two high profile suicides just threw me into a really pensive, melancholy state. I apologize if I worried anyone else…I’m not going to lie: I do struggle with dark moments. I take risks with being really open about it, because I know other people do too.
I often wish I were more of a person who just la-dee-dah-ed her way through life, skipping gaily along, pointing out the pretty wildflowers to all the pouty weeds, but I am not wired like that. I see people on social media just posting cutesy, happy things…only positive happy happy. There was a point I just couldn’t look at any of it without sneering. I’m sorry, but I sneered at your stuff if you are one of these people. It didn’t mean I didn’t love you; it was just…the shadows were heavy, and my sneering was strong. I like cute and happy. But I also understand the emo posts. In fact, I feel them a little bit more pointedly. Dancing with Shadows is something I’ve done a lot throughout my life, and the Light portion of my soul automatically reaches out whenever She sees someone else dancing with theirs. The trick, I think, is to dance for a little…then convince the Shadows it’s time for bed. The Light is coming.
There was a woman on Twitter the other day who posted THIS about how important it is, in healing, not to bypass the darkness and shadows; that these are just as essential to spiritual growth as our love and light. I think about the story of Jesus of Nazareth wandering the desert, being confronted by Satan, and there’s such a deep metaphysical truth in that story – it wasn’t until Jesus fought the darkness and the shadows, got to really know and understand their nature, that he was ready for his purpose here. It’s not fun, sitting in the darkness. It’s not fun, the psychic pain the shadows poke us with. But it’s important. It’s important to know and understand yours. To be strong, which grows the empath muscles in our souls.
I hate the word “empath,” because like “narcissist” it’s just thrown around so much…and like narcissists I suspect there may be a spectrum to empath-ness. Everybody is on the narcissism spectrum and everyone is on the empath spectrum…someone like, I don’t know, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? He’s someone who probably was way low on the narcissism spectrum and way high on the empath one. Then there’s Donald Trump, Dr. King’s polar opposite.
But I’m fine. One of the things I love about Angie is her deep faith and connection to God. I can’t remember if I’ve written about this on this new writing location, but as a child I used to have long, one-sided conversations with God. I can’t remember about what now, but I do remember singing some Christmas carols to God once, just because I felt like God would like those.
I often forget God. I get so wrapped up in whatever stress I’m working through or major WTF?! experience I’m having that I forget: oh yeah…I can go to God and say, “Here, God. This is too much for me. You do it.” And God will.
I once went to a psychic named Marion who knew a lot of stuff about me, and predicted a lot of things about me that came true. She didn’t advertise; you had to know someone who knew her to ask for a reading from her. We taped it, but I’ve lost the tapes now. And the notes she took as she talked to me and gave for me to consider after. Marion told me I’d meet someone from St. Louis one day, a dark-skinned friend I’ve known for longer than I realize, and we’d have so much to talk about. (Miss M’s dad is dark-skinned and from St. Louis.) She knew my first job would be in Arizona, and that I’d end up in Georgia. She knew I’d spend a lot of my life translating for people. All have come true. She said I also have a gift, and that I should write, that one day I would write something that would be very good. That has not come true, except on blogs. And not the very good part.
At any rate. Marion was of God. She said we all have the ability to connect to God, but we don’t. And we have angels. (I have two who stick with me – a young man and an older woman – both, she told me, were in God’s family…the young man is especially protective of me.)
I think there are people with gifts like Marion’s (not me, and if she’s correct and I do have it? I don’t want it, thanks). We use only so much of our brains; what if portions of it are able to tap into physical aspects of the world we aren’t aware of? I think 99% of people who claim they have some sort of ability are charlatans and/or crazy – I was once friends with one, is why. But you occasionally may run into the real deal. Or even have a brief moment of tapping into some portion of your brain you aren’t familiar with, and have an experience yourself.
Therein lies God, I think. Or the Universe, if you prefer that. Or the Great Maw. Whatever.
I don’t have a problem with atheists in general, as long as they’re not gigantic twats. I’ve met very very religious twats and very very non-religious twats. Think and decide for yourself, whatever you want. Just don’t be a twat. Is my motto. I’m not going to tell an atheist they’re wrong about what they have to say, because most of them are quite logical (which I appreciate) and very funny (which I also appreciate). But please don’t laugh off my experiences and feelings with a big “whatevs.” That’s not how we connect. Ditto all you fundamentalist whatevers out there – just because that’s how YOU see God doesn’t make it true. Arrogance bothers me. A lot.
I think what’s mostly true is that we all have problems. We all have fears, longings, wants, needs we can’t meet for whatever reason, disappointments, hurts, bad experiences, mistakes we’re still beating ourselves up about. And we all have things that make us laugh and people who remind us the world is okay, we are loved despite ourselves. At least I hope everybody has people like that. At least one.
Therein lies The Universe. In those things.
So. I’m thinking about God today, and what happens to us after…this. Not because I want to find out, but because I miss my dad. And I’m feeling nostalgia for what could have been but was never meant to be. I’m reflecting on some of crappy choices and how I handled it, and wishing I’d said some things I didn’t and not said some things I did. I’d ask, at this point, for a big gigantic eraser for it all, but then I think that’s missing the point.
It’s been a long journey, since I packed up and moved to this apartment I’m typing from. Three years as of Friday, and I just signed another 13 month lease here, so that’s one more year in this small home, one more year I’m going to figure it out some more. This year will be good, because I **think** I’ve extracted the bad influences, finally. But wow. Three years..Miss M was 6 years old when we moved here, she’ll celebrate her 10th year on Earth here. I’ve changed jobs, for the better. I’ve had some really happy, fun times here – lovely, good people with positive energy in my home…and I’ve had some really touch-and-go moments, some nights on my living room floor in the fetal position, moaning for psychic relief. Three years. I’ve kicked three people out of my life for good. I’ve been taken advantage of, lied to, but also…learned quite a lot about myself, the nature of people (particularly men), and just generally been woke. To life, and what matters. Three years. (Three is a mystical number – Pythagoreans believed it was the first true number. It represents past, present, future…birth, life, death…beginning, middle, end…father, son, holy ghost…Jesus rose from the dead on the 3rd day…in mystic Kabbalah, the soul has 3 parts…there are 3 paths to salvation in Hinduism…ancient druids believed the Goddess had 3 forms: Maiden, Mature Woman, Crone…across all human religions, 3 is the number of the Divine, in other words. FINGERS CROSSED. I wish I had the ability to cross three fingers.)
Even the most painful, rage-filled moments can be blessings. (This does not make me less sarcastic about them, or make me not regret my choices when it comes to certain people I’ve tossed out. I don’t throw away people…until they show me they’re rotting.)
Does this post feel like it’s all over the place? I feel like it is. Love, love, love…then: it’s okay to throw out human garbage. Dance with the shadows…oh but choose Light. Mystical, divine…but crap some people suck. Listen: I’m a work in progress, not God. But I think I’m going to start having some more talks to God. Note I wrote “to,” because God never answers me. Which is good! Because then I might be schizophrenic. But I also think I’m going to meditate. This is easier, as everything is, when Miss M is at her dad’s for a few days.
Speaking of dads, Happy Fathers Day. There are really, really good men out there. We’ve been blessed with several…imperfect, flawed men. But men who tell the truth, don’t take advantage of other people, are who and what they say they are publicly and privately…all things that are integral to having integrity and living a good life as gently as possible, without too many horrible things befalling it. Which is the best way to live, I’m finding. Knowing famous people or being one isn’t it. Having a lot of money would certainly be nice in terms of less stress, but knowing you’re truly loved and wanted is better.
I don’t know. Maybe it just comes down to how much Vitamin D you have in your system. God is in sunshine, and sunshine has Vitamin D, and so maybe just get as much sun as you can, and make sure you’ve got plenty of vitamin D in you. God is a vitamin. Maybe.
So. I’m going to start writing about dads and uncles and death and other sad things, but I promise this ends on an uplifting note.
Father’s Day is around the corner, and I usually do think about my dad a lot that day, his birthday (October 23), and his death day (February 12). I think about him in between, too, because sometimes in my really sad or WTF moments, I ask the Universe to please let my dad come visit me. I like to think his presence is around me, listening, and quietly guiding me.
Quick background for those who don’t know me or this story:
My dad died in his sleep one afternoon while we were all at work. He’d been working a job as a night shift manager for a technology company and he’d come home as usual about 8 AM, made himself something to eat, checked email, and then went to bed with the History Channel on. He had congestive heart disease, was on gobs of medication for it, and had just had his regular check up about a week earlier in which he’d been given the thumbs up; everything looked great. But everything was not, because his heart stopped while he slept. He was only 54 years old.
At 9:30 that night when he still hadn’t gotten up, my mom went into his bedroom to wake him up and immediately knew. I was upstairs writing, and she asked me to try to wake him up. This wasn’t a fun task, because my dad was not a fun person to wake up (by the way: neither am I). When I walked into the room, I also immediately knew. It was just too quiet. There was activity but HE was too quiet.
I’ve had a lot of traumatic things and people happen to me in the years since, but I don’t think anything will ever compare to that moment. It’s been almost 20 years now, and I think not only am I still grieving him, I’m still recovering from that moment. It’s not just the loss of my father I grieve, it’s the loss of what could have been. All that needed to be said and never was. All that we needed to fix and didn’t.
My dad was a complicated man, but he was a great storyteller with a big laugh and a funny way of sneezing and a very gruff and strict personality that hid a very gentle, big heart. He missed his calling as a lawyer – his degree was in political science, but he’d have made a terrible politician; the necessary evils would have eaten right through his soul. Because he taught me integrity. I think that’s the biggest gift my dad gave me: a very deep sense of right and wrong, and integrity. I know when I’m doing something that’s wrong, that lacks integrity because the guilt I feel overwhelms me and everything I do. I spend a lot of time overthinking and over analyzing, over focusing on the thing or the person I’m participating in the integrity-less activity. I get really, really judge-y, of myself and the other person if another person is involved. I get angry. I feel out of sorts. Off kilter. The only way to stop is to remove that person from my life. So I can re-balance.
My mom and dad struggled in their marriage because of my dad’s anger and drinking. Mostly his drinking. It’s something I’m hyper aware of – how much I drink. At certain times in my life, I’ve turned to alcohol as a self-medication. Something that blurs the sharp edges of whatever it is. But I’m painfully aware of my family’s history – my dad’s father and all of his brothers except one were what we’d probably classify today as alcoholics. Calvin, the one brother of my grandfather’s who made it out of his 50s alive, always said it was because he chose not to drink. He spent his life being ostracized a bit by his brothers; not out meanness or pettiness, but simply because he’d be a drag…they liked to drink, and he didn’t so they didn’t invite him anywhere, not realizing it hurt.
My dad’s brother Joey died this week. That’s probably why I’m writing this…Joey’s death plus the deaths of two people I never knew. Joey lived far away and I wasn’t close to him. But a few years ago, he started calling my brother and me, and I couldn’t…I just couldn’t talk much. Partly because like all men on that side of my family, Joey liked to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk and talk and talk. But mostly because on my end of the phone, I’d be in tears. I could hear my dad’s voice in his. When I saw him on a 2010 visit to the Poconos, where my dad’s family is from, I could also see my dad in his face, his eyes and facial expressions. I wish I’d talked to him more now…today, having been through what I’ve been through over the last 3 years? I would have talked to him. Or at least texted.
Joey struggled with alcoholism as well. Magically, he made it to his 60s. But still died too soon, too young. But he also had a huge heart, a heart of gold. When I was little girl, I was shy around him, afraid of his beard. Today, I find it hard to resist a man with a beard…but my dad didn’t have one, and I think his just freaked me out – 1970s Uncle Joey was a bit of a hippie. But I can’t think of a single man on my dad’s side of my family who doesn’t melt around little girls. They’re tough on the boys. But they melt around little girls. (Patriarchy…but I’m letting it slide, because I’m a bad feminist.)
On my 2nd Christmas, Joey gave me a big stuffed dog. I named him Luff Pup Pup, because the tag on him said “Love Pup,” and apparently that’s how I pronounced love and he was a Love Pup pup. It made sense to my little brain, and that’s all that mattered. At any rate, Luff Pup Pup is still with me. His eyes are gone, except for one white button that I sewed on as an eye replacement (because I couldn’t find black or brown buttons in my mom’s sewing kit and he looked blind but at least he had eyes again). His ears chewed up by my dog Sassy, who’s long gone yet has left this legacy behind as a touchable memory. He had a belly button, a tail, and a big black nose, and a red tongue in 1974, but by 1984 these were all gone. Ripped off, chewed off, loved off. Luff Pup Pup is my Velveteen Rabbit – he’s real because he’s loved. He’s soaked up buckets of my tears, patiently laid beneath my sleeping body or head, or in held tight in my arms. He’s been shoved under beds, into closets, into attics in boxes. He’s lived in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Arizona, and Georgia. Traveled to Florida and other various states. Now he belongs to Miss M, who often asks for him when she’s scared. That’s his magical gift: helping scared and sad children feel better at night, so they can sleep and not feel alone.
So I’m thinking about my dad and my uncle. How they’re all together now. With their parents Joe and Hannah. And their little sister Kathy, who died when she was 2 or 3 – she wandered down the lane to my great Uncle Calvin’s farm pond and fell in. By the time Calvin heard her and got to the pond, it was too late. It may be why the men on that side of my family have such soft hearts around little girls. They feel the need to protect and save them.
Now, none of them need to be protected or saved. No more sadness, no more pain. Just quiet and peace. It sounds lovely, yes?
I think my dad struggled with depression – my mom found him in the bathroom once with some disturbing items that indicated he was making a really hard decision. I’m so thankful he chose to stay, even though the way he eventually left has left holes in my heart that will never really fill.
Depression isn’t bad. It’s very very normal; in fact, I have talked to and read and heard so many stories from so many people who struggle with it, that I actually think it’s abnormal NOT to have depression. Depression is simply an imbalance of brain chemicals, that’s all. I take two medicines every day to regulate my blood pressure; why is that not a stigma but anti-depressants are? This is odd thinking. I struggle with it. I anticipate Miss M struggling with it. I look at people who are always positive and happy, and I wonder about them…if it’s real, how blessed they are. But I often wonder how many people just fake it for the world. Because they’re afraid the world will reject them if they’re honest.
Anthony Bourdain died, of apparent suicide. Yesterday I ended what I wrote with a reflection on Kate Spade’s apparent suicide. Today it’s Anthony Bourdain. I liked this person’s spirit so much, and I wish he could have liked his spirit as much as I did. Because when I saw this news, I cried. I felt sad about Kate Spade, but I cried over Anthony. It was too much. Too much. Because life is really rough and hard, with a lot of sadness and pain. But there are also such good moments to it. When someone really makes you laugh or feel incredibly loved. Watching or reading a story or listening to songs that let you know you aren’t alone, this is all hard but also normal. When you find someone who sees you, really sees you. And likes you just as you are – you don’t have to change anything about yourself for them. They don’t want to fix you, they just like to be with you.
There are people in the world who are Luff Pup Pups, you just have to find them…or wait because more often than not they’ll either find you or you will both stumble upon each other.
I watched the movie La La Land last night and wept at the end, and at the part where they both say they’ll always love each other. And they did. That’s what real love feels and looks like: you’re happy for someone, you want them to have their dreams come true and be happy, even if you’re not part of it. That’s how I know I love D and not the man who hurt me and pushed me into doing something and being someone I’m not. I’ve been reflecting on that for the last couple of weeks…I thought I loved that person, but that wasn’t love; that was need, and need is really really fucked up. Don’t ever get so attached to the idea of someone you need them more than you love them. I would like D to be happy and safe, no matter what. That’s how you know. The mere fact someone exists in the world, helps you feel more safe and less sad, and even if you can’t be part of their whole life, you want their whole life to be happy. That’s how you know.
It’s magic to find your Luff Pup Pup. It helps the world feel better. Luff Pup Pups help us know we aren’t alone, there are guides here who can help you navigate and when they can’t they can at least just sit with you so you’re not as frightened or sad. And then stay. Don’t leave until Fate or God or Old Age or whatever decides it’s your time, Someone or Something will let you know. Stay with us. And if you need a Luff Pup Pup, Miss M and I will be happy to share ours with you. Or help you find one.
I was going to write a post about social media and how it changes us. But I’m scrapping that to write about pain and how it changes us.
This is complicated. Because here’s the thing: hurt people hurt people. Damaged people can’t NOT damage other people. Vicious cycle.
I hate the term triggered. Triggered = an image, words, sensations, scenes that cause someone to relive horrible life experiences. I wish we had a different word for this. First, because it’s a gun-related word and I hate guns and associating guns with a mental health issue just feels like a bad idea. Second, because people who actually ENJOY triggering other people and actively seek out people to do this to love the word and dance impishly about sing-songing it when they’re successful. I really hate it when assholes do that, and those are the kinds of people who probably just need to be rounded up, put on a plane, and dropped off on a deserted island so they can Lord of the Flies each other.
Most of us have experienced pain at different levels in our lives. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll have been raised by two people who made mistakes but did their very best at raising you, and you’ll experience heart break and betrayal and loss like we all do but come out of it philosophical and not hurting anyone else too badly because of what you’ve experienced because you had two relatively decent human beings in your life who taught you how to brush off other people’s malignancies and go on. Or maybe you didn’t have two examples, but one really good one, somewhere in your life.
What’s really fun about being human is that sometimes you can even have all that but your family’s particular dysfunctions have taught you some really crappy coping behaviors. Combine that with child- and young adulthood trauma, throw in some really weak boundaries because of it, add pinch of a failed relationship and a heaping tablespoon of loss and grief, sprinkle with toxic social media culture and some poor decisions, top with a couple of human coyotes, then cook in a boiling hot volcano for a few years…and there you go. Easily triggered person climbing a monstrous volcano, falling about 500 feet every time they scale 600. And if the people who love them are dealing with their own traumas and crap and monstrous volcanic setbacks? Well, that’s a tasty recipe, isn’t it.
Some people’s traumas are easy to see and feel compassion for – experiencing something horrific like being raped and beaten and left clinging to life, surviving only because a Good Samaritan called 911 is something most of us can feel sympathy for and forgive easily if we upset them unknowingly and they explain why. Some people go to war and watch their buddies and innocent children get blown to bits right in front of them. There are people walking around in this country right now who watched people jump from the 110th story of one of the World Trade Center towers, and they wake up at least 100 times a year from screaming nightmares. I’d say a good 99.5% of decent people would hear any of those scenarios and feel compassion and sympathy for people suffering from them. If they said or did something that freaked a person out, bringing back bad memories or feelings or sensations from that life experience, 99.5% of people would profusely apologize and quickly adjust their behavior to make sure they didn’t do that again.
But what about very quiet abuse? What about emotional abuse like gaslighting or verbal abuse like control? What about a person who has such crappy personal boundaries because of their family’s dysfunctions that, over and over, throughout their life, they’ve allowed inappropriate people in and each time that person’s trust has been betrayed to the point they even doubt themselves when they speak up? Listen, some families are completely dysfunctional. I work with them from time to time – these are the people who have fascinating stories for Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil episodes and the rest of us are enthralled and very thankful we didn’t end up in that clan. My college roommate’s father drank himself to sleep every night and her mother screamed at them non-stop, dinner was hit or miss, and took pills to sleep every night leaving them to their own devices. Every morning she just knew she had to get up, get dressed, get her little sister up and dressed, make breakfast and lunch for both of them, and get them on the bus to school because school was the only way out of that kind of life for herself and her sister, she instinctively knew. She was SEVEN. That’s pretty obvious dysfunction and I’d say most of us look at people like that as pretty amazing for making it out alive and okay and functioning from that situation because they actually are. But the vast majority of us grow up with “normal” dysfunctions, dysfunctions the rest of the world shrugs its shoulders at and goes, “Life isn’t supposed to be easy. Toughen up, buttercup.” It does not make our experiences less traumatic, though. Just differently traumatic. Kind of like the tail side of a coin.
Because here’s the thing about that kind of abuse: it’s very real, but you can’t see it. Sometimes you can’t even define it. Often you know something is off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. You just know two and two isn’t adding up. Or what you were told and what you’re seeing aren’t clicking. It keeps happening, until finally you explode and then are told you’re being mean or overthinking or paranoid or hysterical or psychotic. And then what if it this is coming from people who also tell you they love you, but continue to do things that cause you to explode. Would that garner compassion or sympathy from many people? Probably not. Particularly if a person views themselves as someone who’s strong and overcome a lot of trauma themselves. Toughen up, buttercup. We all have it rough, you’re not unique. (But we are unique. Each and every one of us.)
Let me tell you a story from my childhood.
One summer before I went to 4th grade, there were two little neighbor boys who were hurting me. They were calling me names and one of them finally hauled off and hit me, hard, on purpose. I told my mom, who went next door to let his mom know what the boys were doing. The boy who hit me stood there and denied denied denied. His mom believed him. As a grown up mother now, I get it. I get why you have to believe your child. But there I was, standing there shaking and in tears. He was fine and very calm, denying. And because his mother was asking leading question after leading question, I finally just said he hadn’t done what I said he’d done. He hadn’t hit me or called me names. Right now, in my memory, I can see the satisfaction on both their faces. All of us standing there, lying to each other, only two of us satisfied with the results of telling a lie.
Later, I told my mom I’d lied and he had done what I said. Of course she was upset and embarrassed; why had I said he’d done that and then said he didn’t? It’s hard enough to explain emotional abuse to people when you’re an adult don’t even know when it’s happening, but as a child all I could say was “I don’t know.” Fortunately, my mom believed me, because she’d seen how shaky I’d been and how upset…and maybe she’d had a similar experience as a child, and so she got it. So the only thing she could tell me, at that point, was to not do that again. Be strong, stand up for myself. If I’m telling the truth, say it and don’t back down.
My entire life, I’ve ignored my mom’s advice. My entire life. Even going forward with my own parents at times. With friends. With lovers. With strangers. While driving. (Okay fine, usually not while driving.)
I’ve backed down. Because it’s easier. Because it’s more peaceful. Because it makes the other person feel better. Because it’s easier. Because it’s easier. Because it’s easier. Because then I won’t be alone. Because then they won’t leave. Because I don’t like when this happens or that happens, or it hurts to see this or it really hurts when they let me down or when they said that thing or did this other thing, that hurt. But it’s just easier. It’s easier. Because it’s easier.
I’m reading a book right now called Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore, and in one part of the book, he writes about how the main character Milo says something to Suzie (aka Death) who he’s getting know. She asks him after he comes back from one life what he’ll miss the most about that life and he thought about the sleazy life he’d just lived. “Christmas,” he said. “That was my favorite.” But his favorite thing about that life was actually a girl named Peanut, backstage at Ozzfest. And Suzie “let him get away with it. That’s how people make friends.”
But we all do this, at work, at home, in old friendships. Not just at the beginning. Because it’s easier. I think.
But what it does is it causes trauma, and then I’ve got to wade through things other people do, unintentionally and unthinkingly, that upset me. “You don’t sound crazy or dumb. Too many screwed up men have touched your life. It is understandable.” Words by a friend when I talked to her about a trigger from this morning and how I handled it. Later, I went into Linked In because an email alerted me I was being searched, and I saw something else that was a trigger. Then, I started to think about Event A back in June 2015 that led to Event B which led to C then D then E then F then G…etc and so forth. I’m not perfect, I fuck up all the time in how I handle things. I hurt other people. Hurt people hurt people. So now I’m being made to pay for the damage that caused me damage that caused me to cause damage. Vicious cycle. But it’s fine. It’s cool. Toughen up, butter cup. I’ve dealt with people like this my entire life. See previous story.
But you know what I’m doing today that’s different than I did prior to 2015? I’m speaking up about it. When it happens. I’m not keeping it in and letting it fester. When someone does something that bothers me, I say: This bothered me. And then I watch carefully how they respond.
Even with Miss M’s dad…do you know how much changing I did for him? How much backing down I did with him? There is a list of reasons for why Miss M’s dad and I shouldn’t ever live under the same roof again…the number one reason on that list is Invalidation. And it’s not like I’m not guilty of that, too. I’m the biggest eye roller and invalidator of men I know. But it’s no good to do that in a marriage or other love relationship. You have to be the other person’s biggest fan, even when you want to gouge their eyes out. You have to be their screamiest cheerleader; if they write a book or a poem or build a car from scratch or get a new job, you should let the world know if you’re on social media. And if you’re not, you should take them out to dinner and let the waitstaff know. If they clean the kitchen, you should thank them out loud. If they finally pay off a debt, you should high five them.
Instead, what we do is invalidate each other when we speak up with a need or a hurt or a concern. We blame the other person for their own feelings. We tell them they’re over-reacting, or overthinking, or hindering them, or making them feel insecure. We refuse to just say: I’m sorry. I didn’t think that would create that reaction in you. I’ll do better next time. And then…put action to our words. Even if it’s hard. Because you know what else is easier besides just backing down? Continuing to do things we like, even when we know it upsets a person we love deeply. And that’s reason number 2 Miss M’s dad and I can’t ever live together again – he sincerely needed me to do certain things and be a certain way, and it hurt him every time I chose not to do that thing or be that way. And that caused me an enormous amount of anger and stress and resentment. And it caused him to hyper-criticize me. And eventually there were explosions. And then…silence. And that, darling grasshoppers, is how a relationship death spirals. It is a testament to the healing power of love that we still view ourselves as a team when it comes to Miss M, that he gives me his opinions and on my end of the phone I flip him the bird. That we are friends in spite of the fact I never made the photo memory album on Snapfish he wanted of Miss M’s first grade year and summer but didn’t want to make himself because he likes to boss other people around…and that he now just sighs and accepts that sometimes I’m just not going to say a word but no I’m not doing that because. BECAUSE. There is still love. But I cannot live with him again. Love relationships are very hard, because we all come in with baggage.
Since leaving my marriage, I’ve ended a friendship with a mentally unstable woman who wasn’t well, and made me very uncomfortable…many times. I’ve ended a friendship with a married man who wanted things from me I didn’t want to give him and he scared the shit out of me to retaliate. I’ve ended a friendship that could have been really sweet and supportive and at times was, but started out wrong and was mostly to help the friend’s egoic needs rather than be a give-and-take situation and therefore off-and-on toxic because of that, and toxic beyond belief at the end. I will not go back to any of these friendships and don’t believe any of them want to know me anymore either and agree that’s for the best. And here I am writing about mental health and compassion, but please know I’m also not saying we have to subject ourselves over and over to people who aren’t firmly planted in reality or want to take advantage of us. It is okay to throw away people who are doing that. But if I genuinely love someone, I back down. A lot. One day, maybe I’ll find someone who will back down for me.
Yesterday, Kate Spade apparently took her own life. Today, once again, we’re all talking about the importance of not stigmatizing each other’s unique brain chemistries and balances. Tomorrow, we’ll all go back to invalidating each other and backing down and continuing to do things that upset our loved ones and then keep doing them because it’s easier. We’ll let our damage rule our emotions and punch holes in our hearts. Because it’s just easier. (But it’s really not.)