The numbers were coming in for voting and the Democrats were winning big. We were going to be okay. There would be a lot of damage to undo or repair, but we weren’t succumbing to dictatorship. The worst elements among us were shown the door. You want a theocracy? Why don’t you move to Saudi Arabia, or any of the desert nations that control their populations under the only version of belief allowed. What if your religion is banned? You think dictators have it right? Move to your beloved Russia where they routinely kill, poison, or maim those who disagree with the party line. What if YOU were against their policies and practices? Better get a food taster, or keep your opinions to yourself…
We can co-exist, and it will be an uneasy alliance, but it will work because while we don’t all get all of what we want, we will get most of what we need. We will shore up our Constitution, and follow it. We can be a better version of Democracy, or we can vanish with something you will not want in its place, but it will be too late to do anything about it then, so I hope it’s to your liking – and that you’ll remember you did it to yourself. To those of good will: Vote Democrats, all the way!
I’m so grateful I found out that, Cannabidiol, or CBD, moderates panic from ingesting or smoking pot. I don’t need or use much, but it has been helping my pain, and some of my anxiety.
I use the Endoca whipped body butter for acute pain, and I have CBD drops to take every day to keep CBD in my system. CBD works as an anti-inflammatory, and the people I’ve shared it with are amazed at how good it is for general soreness, and how my mother, and my partner’s mother, have gotten excellent relief from arthritis in their hands.
I don’t like the taste of the CBD oil, so I mix it with honey. There are other companies selling CBD suspended in coconut oil, and many forms that you can explore on the web, from crystals that you can vape, to suppositories that work especially well on lower back pain.
It’s a new world for pain relief, and I’m so glad there are several reputable companies making certified products.
The rub is the cost. It can be pricey, and if you’re skint like me, it makes regular use difficult, if not impossible, which is why I’m endeavoring to make my own.
I have the writer’s nemesis: writer’s block. It’s why I have several half-finished stories.
This is a big part of my shame, the parts of me I wish I could surgically remove and join the doer world.
Books, articles, videos, podcasts, psychiatrists have been consulted – and I still procrastinate.
The controlling editor in my head won’t let me write a sentence in peace – there’s no ‘getting it out and edit later’ for me.
But writing calls to me anyway.
Writing is this beautiful, unhampered soul just waiting for me to get over myself and create. Why does that terrify me?
It’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer, or at least I’ve been given several explanations from the above list of resources – especially the psych docs.
Information is power, sure, and I’m writing now because this is a chunk. This isn’t fraught like finishing a story is.
It’s important that I write – even if it’s never published – even if no one likes it.
I’m writing because it’s what I must do. I just know, or believe, I can be and do better.
Living up to my potential is what life’s waiting for me to do, and I’m only a chronic disappointment to myself, and probably my mother, and possibly my family and everyone who knows me.
Except that’s part of the big lie the boogeyman in my head blocks me with. I give my energy, witting or unwitting, to fear. The unwitting I can do nothing about, but the part of me that knows has to step in and, gently (for me anyway), take pen in hand – or keyboard – and begin.
Maybe I’ll be found a failure and a fraud, but how can I fail any worse than I already have by never following through?
I’ve been so stuck in the past – as though it’s vital I get back there, as though that’s the only part of my life that mattered, as though now is a wasteland unworthy of notice when it is actually rich, and actually all there is. The past is gone – just like Steven Tyler sang in Dream On
all those years ago when, ironically, he was just becoming an adult.
I think the pain makes me feel alive, the longing gives me a sense of purpose, like: ‘Don’t forget how things were!’ – but it’s a lot of revisionist history because so much of my early life sucked-ass.
I was battling panic disorder, undiagnosed major depression, and PTSD – before PTSD was a word, and then only by soldiers who had witnessed untold horrors qualified.
Well, sorry, but trauma is trauma & fucks you up for life. Trauma literally changes your brain. My brain is different from non-traumatized brains, so stop telling me to have a better attitude! It doesn’t work like that! (“That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!“)
It’s also accepting, or trying to accept, that my beautiful boy, the light of my life, has grown up and not only doesn’t need or want my counsel, or my – anything – but he’s a man, and wants to be seen as he sees himself. I cannot divorce my connection to him as my boy, so therein lies the rub. So, that’s present pain.
I’m older. That’s present pain. There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s present pain. I’m lonely for connection more than just my significant other. That’s present pain. I can’t seem to hold a job. That’s present pain. My family is dying off. That’s past and present pain. I miss old connections. That’s past and present pain.
We’re living in bizarro world with dangerous politics and a megalomaniac president. That’s present pain, panic, anxiety, and PTSD!
Those are my fears writ large. The President is basically Michael Rapunzel, the head of the commune/cult, and the President’s sycophants, like Rapunzel’s, can’t see his horror, or they revel in their chance at power and gain riding on his coat tails.
I’ve been down this road and now I’m living through it again. It’s harder because I know the outcome. It’s all about oppression and control, not co-operation or decentralization of power. The President, like Rapunzel, is mentally ill, and no one is stopping him.
I can look at the present pain in my life and do what I can to minimize it. I know it’s also a flux issue. My feelings, needs, and desires change – sometimes on a daily basis – but there are times I’m truly joyful instead of longing for it.
There are days I’m connected to life and loneliness vanishes.
There are times my son calls or texts and I feel better for our connection rather than inadequate or stupid.
I’ve even been kind and accepting of my aging at times instead of railing against it – but anything I’ve ever let go of has claw-marks all over it.
Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).
Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.
What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.
I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.
We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.
I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.
I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.
I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
It began around January 23rd, and probably before then – building up – but that’s when I noticed the pall overhead and me trying to duck it, unsuccessful again. It begins with dread – or not dread exactly – but disturbance. Something is looming, something I try to stay ahead of, but am swallowed anyway.
I offer up all the positive messages I can. I acknowledge, ignore, accept, and end up pleading for its end.
Imagine a usual route you take, maybe some minor annoyances with traffic, or people, or maybe potholes, or other manageable blips on the way – and then you sense something when you get in your car one morning. There’s no reason – nothing seems different. The weather is good, the drive starts fine, and you chide yourself for misgivings about potential something ahead. A dog runs into the road and you avoid hitting it, and feel relieved. OK, that was it, that was the curve-ball that day, but your heightened awareness doesn’t ease.
You continue your routine, accepting the foreboding, or whatever it is you can’t shake, and then a tire blows, and you navigate your car to the side of the road. Vehicles pass by as you make calls to work, to a tow company, and you think that this was what your gut was warning you about.
Days pass, and the sensation dulls a bit, but doesn’t leave. It’s gnawing – like a toothache you hope will resolve on its own.
These days are leading to the precipice, but I’ve been triaging the whole time. It’s as though a separate entity is controlling my brain – or something beyond my control.
I know that’s not the case, I’m not possessed, I just can’t change the direction. I have to buckle up and hope I ride this out better than last year – better than all the years, probably since I was born, or whatever traumatic event(s) my psyche re-lives every. fucking. year.
Therapy: check. Antidepressants: no go TMS: check, but insurance won’t cover another round, and I can’t afford it out-of-pocket. Wise Mind Group: check. I’m starting a 13-week group today, and I’ve done this before, and do use cognitive behavioral techniques, but trauma is like trying to catch a greased, wild, pig. Even if you catch it, the pig isn’t domesticated.
The pig is autonomous though. Maybe the pig doesn’t think it’s self-determined – it probably doesn’t consider ‘self’ at all – but it knows enough to not want to be caught, and is frightened and raged at the trying.
February looms, but spring will emerge. That’s hope. The world still turns.
It’s one of those nights. I’m both grateful for and disheartened by a good memory. It’s good that I can step back in time and ‘be’ there – kind of like a time traveler – only backwards. It’s not eidetic memory, but fairly close.
So what do the brain ‘experts’ have to say about that? Every memory we have is apparently ‘shadowed’ or ‘colored’ by our remembering. So, are memories reliable? Hellz yes! Just because we experience those memories with nuance, doesn’t mean they aren’t reliable.
For instance, when I was beaten when learning to tie my shoes, I can see it with my current perspective, so that memory goes back in its slot with the new information attached, but the memory is still true.
My struggle understanding life’s meaning, purpose, or existence, makes life tougher to endure. I don’t have certitude, and I deeply distrust those who do. They’re often the ones with the most skeletons in their closets.
Everything changes. People are fallible, situations change, and then change again. ‘The only constant is change,’ declared Heraclitus.
Do we merely exist because biology, or are we somehow ‘higher’ beings? Those who take literally the words that humans allegedly wrote a thousand years ago, or worse, attribute to others as truth, are terrifying. They wreak more havoc than non believers.
I appreciate the scientific method, but I try not to deify science, either, because science isn’t perfect, and we’re always uncovering new or different information or interpretations.
Being kind is important to me. I strive for integrity and honor in my words and deeds, but I still act from fear.
I’m angry and petty and controlling, and work toward being less so, or cultivating the better aspects of my nature, but it’s a constant striving.
Thankfully I embrace fun, joy, laughter, and adventure too – and the best I can hope and aim for is balance in my life.
Whatever I meet upon death, if there is anything beyond this world, I will deal with then. After all, we’re directed by spiritually enlightened beings to live in the now, to follow the middle way, and to know that the future does not exist.
I’m nearly three months sober, and started a new depression therapy two weeks ago: TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The therapy uses focused magnetic energy to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thought to be a dark alley depression emanates from.
On my first visit, the tech & doctor mapped the specific area of my brain using the Neurostar stimulator, and I’ve been adjusting to the five-days a week treatments.
During the mapping, the pulse was painful while they determined my treatment threshold. The treatment lasts 38 minutes and several seconds, for me. Others have generally less time than I do, but not by much, and typically a lower pulse threshold than me, which I attribute to my redheaded-ness.
Forty pulses delivered in four seconds feel and sound like a miniature jack-hammer – or an eager woodpecker – but the computer prepares me by chiming a few seconds prior to the pulses. After about four rounds of pulses I don’t feel it as intensely, but I’m always glad to hear the ‘ding-ding-ding’ computer chime signaling the treatment’s end.
Worries about whether the treatment will work are thick due to continued suicidal thoughts, but TMS takes about twenty or so treatments before brain changes are apparent. That means I have another week to go before I’ll know it’s working. TMS has helped about 85% of patients, which is good news, but I’m a redhead, so we’ll see what category I fall into.
Today I was going through some papers I’d put aside nearly a month ago and found a notepad I had written goodbye letters to my friends and family when I tried to off myself. It’s hard to read my sadness between the lines of gratitude for their friendship, and while I’m not as low as I was a few months ago, I know I’ll get there again, and I can’t tolerate it anymore.
An AA meeting I attended tonight was on positive attitude, and gratitude, and how that’s the way to pull yourself up and out of yourself and into acceptance, etc. – and for those that works for, brav-fucking-o! But, for those of us who write our gratitude lists, and pray, and think positive, and carry on with positive intention, and ‘choose happiness’, and still want to die, you’ve got a non-patronizing friend in me.
Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.
I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.
I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.
America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.
Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.
Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!
At twelve I knew I wanted to act. It was what I thought I’d be in adulthood. I guess it was just going to happen naturally because I never had a plan. I failed to position myself for that occupation, relying on the ‘will of the universe’, or ‘fate’, or whatever my idiot mind told itself – so it never happened.
My first foray into Community Theater was in the early 2000’s. I had auditioned for a play in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, but didn’t get cast, so I probably told myself I wasn’t ready yet.
I spent the better part of today as an extra in a film, driving over two hours to the set, and riding back home after 10 p.m., exhausted, and probably shouldn’t have been driving, but had I stayed at a motel, I would have spent more than I earned, and had I tried to sleep in a parking lot somewhere I would have been too paranoid to sleep.
This was the fifth movie I’ve been a paid prop in, oops, I mean background work, and I finally realized tonight, after almost getting a featured spot that the director, or the universe, or fate, decided to nix, that chasing acting is trauma re-enactment. I’m still trying to convince those in control that I’m worthy of notice. I’m so tired of my psyche trying to reconcile my neglectful past. It’s not going to happen.
The same cast of characters appears each time, albeit in different physical forms. There are non-protecting bystanders, abusers, and victims. (Victim is often a loaded word, so hear it un-weighted.)
Rising early, I rush about readying myself for the day’s work, ensuring I have collected all I need and might want, and set out into the dank, murky pre-dawn. The creeping light flings itself out in eye-searing magnitude just as the crush of rush-hour traffic gathers at the crest of an eastward hill, and I jam on the car’s hazard button, hoping to avoid rear-collision while slamming on the brakes in what appears choreographed timing – as though the traffic were all swimmers breaking the surface one after the other in dizzying succession.
Surviving the first sun-caused hazards, we attempt merging with the big boys and girls zooming along on the super-highway at their break-neck pace: a feat reminiscent of double-dutch jumping without tangling both jumpers in the ropes – only with higher stakes in the highway metaphor.
Once successfully merged, we soon come to several stand-stills, where many of us frustratingly shift from stopped lane to nearly stopped lane, seeing the traffic gods punish us with every lane but ours beginning to move.
An hour later, fleeing the chaos of four-lanes, for the migraine of two lanes, and a GPS with a shitty sense of humor, or probably just sadistic, I double back to the left turn it told me to take as I was passing it in the wrong lane, and I finally rumble into a bumpy lot, park, and kiss the steering wheel for getting me there without bodily harm or auto damage.
A dozen other, sleepy, hopeful stars ascend the shuttle bus stairs and settle in for our ride to the set.
Once there, we queue up to fill out our pay slip forms, find space to don our costumes, and then stand in the next line for hair, and then one for make-up, and finally find our way into the holding area where there is coffee and juice and cereal and muffins, and why are they feeding us all this crap when we’re trying to stay svelte for when we’re discovered the nineteenth time we cross that street when the director calls: ‘action’? So, I opt for coffee and a banana, and wait for our day’s adventure.
Extra work is similar to traumatic childhood in that we’re never told exactly what is happening that day, and what our role is. We have to become ‘instant experts’ once we’re schlepped to location and placed. Then we’re told that we’re excited, or mad, or confused, or disgruntled, or perhaps all of the above, and the day continues with each of us trying to out prop the other.
I swear the women who were behind us who ended up in front of us toward the end of that particular scene were going to end up in the car with the principal actors by the end of the shot.
And here’s the thing: the principal actors are who matter. Background is sound and color, and does serve a core purpose, but you wouldn’t know it by the haphazard treatment that I’ve experienced on every set I’ve worked on.
My goal is for principal actor roles. My reality is that extra work will never meet that goal. I need to change my approach, or nothing will ever change. In life, or on film.
If you think about it, we’re self-animated, or actuated, puppets. We’re going to die, and if you’ve ever seen a loved one’s dead body, you know how they are utterly gone. Their body seems like some strange putty – some facsimile of who they were, and somewhat recognizable – but definitely not ‘them’.
We are not our bodies – we control our bodies with who we really are.
You reach for an object, not even realizing that you commanded your body to act, rather than being your body – which could or would act autonomously of your desire. Outside of blood, breath, temperature, neurology & cellular replication, our body, unless compromised by disease or disorder, is controlled by our thoughts.
Hungry: eat. Tired: sleep, or fight sleep when you need to stay awake. Scared: hide, or run, or freeze. Happy: smile, dance, laugh.
There is so, so much we don’t understand, all around us. Some suggest that there’s an invisible (to most of humanity) world going on as closely as anything we can observe or know.
Why are some people psychic, or able to observe what others cannot, if they’re not charlatans?
Why am I sensitive to things my friends aren’t? I know when I’m in an occupied space, or perhaps a super occupied space. I lived in a ‘haunted’ apartment for two years, constantly questioning my sanity and perception, but when I moved to another apartment that was not haunted, I could sleep with the light off, and not be afraid to walk to the bathroom during the night.
I have experienced intense energy, or whatever it was, that others seem not to – and I am nothing special.
So what? – right? It matters because even if we don’t know where we’re going from here, it means we are not our bodies, our physical matter. That’s pretty cool. Maybe our brain is the only part of us that matters most, outside of other vital organs, but even those who think our brain is the limit – that everything begins and ends between our ears – that doesn’t account for anything outside our understanding that we experience.
I feel hopeful thinking that my existence doesn’t end here, and I’m as rightfully here as anyone else, and my continuation, while unknown, is as certain as knowing that death is only of my body, but not of my essence.
Drinking makes me feel different, and better – if I don’t drink too much. I’ll be giddy, and happy, and in love with the world, and if I step over that razor’s edge line, I’m in hell, but it’s the insanity alcohol abstention programs talk about, the thought that I won’t drink too much this time, or that third drink won’t effect me so much. It’s what drinking does rather than how much I drink, because I don’t normally drink a lot, and I stop if I get near the vomit line, but trouble starts before that.
I know I’ve crossed the line when my thoughts turn dark and I tell my S.O. we’re through, that I just want to move to a cave somewhere and finish out my days without the stress of human contact.
In other words, I’m certifiable when I drink that next half a drink? quarter of a drink? more than two. Wine makes me reach the terrible place sooner – but there’s more alcohol per volume than beer or mixed drinks, which are more diluted and I drink them slower because I associate liquor with danger more quickly.
I’ve also found that three drinks causes inflammation, and my back and joints are in agony the next day. I could take turmeric, and other less, or non-toxic inflammation cures, but then I’m just putting band-aids on the problem which is over-drinking, or probably, any drinking.
But I love alcohol. I adore drinking culture – those false promises of an easy life for those few hours with friends and frenemies alike – all having a wonderful time until the hangover hits, or the ride on the vomit comet that one of my friends experiences every time she over-drinks, and the ultimate realization that most of your drinking buddies are just that, and they’ll fall away if you alter the terms of engagement.
My goal is quitting the booze for good, and I haven’t made my goal, which makes me think I’m in trouble. I’m a functioning drunk, if I’m a drunk. ‘Problem drinker’ sounds less horrible than ‘a drunk’. But the word ‘problem’ is a clue that my drinking issue needs solving.
For my first week of nephalism, I’m going to write ‘enjoy the insomnia and inflammation’, and stick that on the door so I see it on my night out with my girls, or even with my S. O..
Of course, I’ll probably use the other door to leave – but I’ll still know it’s there.
I wish I could smoke weed. It gives me panic attacks though. Not just some vague anxiety but OH-GOD-I’M-DYING terror coupled with the need to get out of my body, which I can’t do without the actual dying part, or if got knocked out, which is why I have Klonopin, that I haven’t had to use for panic for a long time, thankfully.
Panic attacks used to be a daily thing in my twenties and thirties. That really sucked. I don’t remember when they stopped, I’m just glad they did, and if I ever need a reminder of panic’s scourge, I can just have a toke or two, and it’ll all come back to me.
AA is useful, and I’m glad it’s there, but I dislike the cultish feel, and having grown up in a commune/cult, I tend to eschew groups.
Alcohol helps me feel freer, and happy – even if it’s fleeting – and that’s what I chase. I like escaping myself when I can, but it comes with a price – to myself, and worse – to those close to me.
A new definition of freedom and happiness is needed, and the only will power I need is against picking up that first drink.
My child is grown and gone. He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering. I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’ But, I know it wouldn’t do any good. That was me, not him.
I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness. I was present and available. I provided structure, love, and guidance.
Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time? I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge. He can defy history. He can out-drink his DNA.
It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.
And there’s nothing I can do.
I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control. It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense. I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.
Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.
There’s a new series on TV called, Younger, starring Sutton Foster, that is so fun. The concept is of a newly divorced mother trying to re-enter the work force at 40, and being turned down due to her age by interviewers in their 20’s. While ridiculous on its face, there are truths, or at least issues, I can relate to.
Not a fan of aging, or of people complaining about being old, or how old they are, and blah, blah, blah, I so relate to this character.
The ideas of youthful freedom are as tantamount as the inexperience and relative irresponsibility of being young. So while I complain about those who complain about being old, I see the bounty of perspective. I see how each and every day led to me to where I am, and I wouldn’t care to repeat much of that time.
I learned about betrayal, heartache, false friends, misguided trust, and self-reliance. Being my own best friend was hard-gained, and learning that being alone was alright took several years.
It was miserable when I saw younger people see me as older. It was truly fucking awful, but what could I do? I couldn’t afford surgery to try to stay perpetually 20, and even if I could, why would I want to? I was there! So, my twenties sucked – a lot of it. I also had a lot of fun. My thirties came quicker than I expected, but there ya go – it happened, and so did my forties…
Acceptance is a bitch sometimes. If I could disguise myself and be seen as young, and get a do-over, what a different time it would be. It’s universal: the desire to be young and yet have a wise perspective. Twenty-somethings might never feel that way, but wait until they hit forty. The difference is like looking out, or down, from a high cliff rather than ground level. Whether you know what to do with that vantage point is dependent on many factors, but the lucky few who understand their worth and their abilities get to make a pretty good life for themselves and their loved ones.
It’s not a magic formula, I know. There are those who are confident and capable and life is a douche-bag to them anyway, but usually, perseverance can lead them through the rough patches.
And there will be rough patches. I don’t care how gilded a life is, it isn’t exempt from some form of hell. Perhaps I’d gladly exchange my hell for theirs, but hell it is.
So, unless I can radically change my life, it would be wiser for me to accept where I am.
I guess I can accept it, but I don’t approve of it.
Did our ancestors age in the same way we did, or would they have if life expectancy weren’t half of what it is today?
They ate much better than we do – when food was plentiful. They had all the super anti-oxidant berries, fruits, many grains, nuts, seeds, and non-pesticide or other chemical laden, non-gmo meats and vegetables. They breathed cleaner air, drank purer water, even though air and water may have been polluted by methane, or volcanic ash, or animal and human waste, it was still better than our toxic world, and their immune systems had to have been fairly robust to advance our species to today.
So many new supplements, creams, and ‘super foods’, crowd store shelves in our collective quest to stay young, and energetic – full of piss and vinegar – maybe literally as Fire Cider asserts better health and its implication of longevity, or at least more energy.
I want what they’re selling. Youth in a bottle piques my interest every time, and I spend too much time searching for the truth behind the façade, feeling more uncertain of those products’ plausibility. And whether or not those foods and substances hold real promise, I can’t afford them anyway.
Staying young will be for the ultra-rich.
We’ve all seen examples of those chasing permanent youthfulness, with hundreds of horrifying plastic surgery examples making those people nearly unrecognizable, and certainly not better looking. Even successful surgeries don’t always increase happiness, some creating greater insecurity as the chase for the next enhancement is on.
Self-acceptance, wherever we are in life, is our best ally, but that doesn’t mean it’s easily achieved, and it’s advertisers’ goal to make us life-long consumers of their products, and they are very good at their job.
It seems like younger generations are getting more savvy, however, and that’s good to see, but they haven’t reached middle age and beyond yet, and whether I’m still here or not, I hope they’ll remain skeptical of promised life-enhancing elixirs.
An astrophysicist on TV proclaims that we need to find a new home before the sun expands, broiling us to a crisp, in about 5 billion years.
5 Billion years.
It’s amazing to me that anyone thinks we’ll last that long as a species, never mind resemble the beings that we are now.
Maybe we’ve reached the pinnacle of human evolution, but we are in the age of 3-D printing, not just objects, but limbs, and potentially replacement organs!
We’re in the age of brain study, mapping, and technology. We know how to interrupt Parkinson’s disease brain patterns, for instance, and are looking toward controlling and perhaps, eradicating, many brain-caused conditions.
Neuro- (and other) scientists – and brain researchers are making new discoveries on an accelerated pace, and as artificial limbs and our electro-chemical processes are paired more and more, humanity will morph into a species that can handle an increasingly toxic environment, or so is the hope.
We might figure out better ways to get energy, use and share resources like clean water, breathable air, and arable land, or we’ll kill each other off with increasingly terrifying weaponry here, and orbiting our world.
Meanwhile, back on earth, it’d be nice to find sustainable work, and I look forward to digging into a rich swath of earth, sowing our next garden – which is all the new exploration I can currently handle.
Life is incomprehensible to me. I learn from my mistakes as I make them, but it sucks to live this way. You’d think I would have gotten better at it as time went on, but no.
At 16, I traveled to Virginia Beach with a friend, where we decided to stay for the summer, and quickly ran out of the forty bucks between us. My friend got a waitress job, but I hadn’t found anything yet. We met a few kids our age, and I hung out with them, smoking pot, while waiting for my friend’s shift to end after midnight. The police pulled up where me and the two kids were sitting, and one of the kids ran while the cops asked me and this other kid what we were doing and how old we were. We both said our ages and were promptly hand-cuffed and put into the back of the cruiser, roughly, as though we were resisting, when I asked why I was being hand-cuffed, and was told to ‘shut up’.
I was taken to Tidewater Detention Home, where I was strip searched, and put in a cell, and had no idea what would happen next. The next day I took a book, or magazine, to my cell, and at roll call, I was told I couldn’t watch TV anymore for violating the rule of not bringing materials into my cell. I learned the rules by violating them, and I still had no idea why I was there.
It wasn’t until four days later, when I had a court appearance, that I learned I was picked up for loitering and breaking curfew. LOITERING AND BREAKING CURFEW. As well as possessing a pipe with pot resin in it. No pot. Just resin. I was told I was never welcome in the state of Virginia again, which was fine with me, but I still felt as though the punishment was ridiculous compared to the ‘crime’.
My son has a sister, whom I dearly love, from his father’s first marriage. I was out of touch with her for a while but re-connected on Facebook. Unfortunately she felt she was being FB stalked as I liked all her posts, wanting to be a part of her life, however virtual. I had no idea that was creepy. I’m the last person on earth who wants to be creepy, but there’s the rub, I guess?
I try to remember that I was born into hell, pretty much. I experienced domestic violence from day one, being the fifth child of six in a family that was sick from child number one. I witnessed my mother’s abuse, my siblings abuse, as well as my own – and I became the scapegoat: the one young enough that I might not be as harmed as the rest, but not too young, like my little brother. I confessed to many things I never did, my older sisters pleading with me to say I did it because the beating was sure to be less for me than my older siblings, but I stillgot the beating.
I accept that I saved my siblings from worse at times. I’m grateful if that was true. Unfortunately for me, I never learned how to cope with the rest of my life as well as my brethren. Had my issues only stemmed from my family of origin, that might have been more manageable for me, but there were several other mitigating abusive circumstances throughout my young life that have made success elusive.
An anti-poverty organization I held a seat on a decade ago sponsored a poverty conference. I can’t remember the speaker’s full name – Chuck Flugel? (my apologies), but he said that people in poverty will never make it out of poverty. It’s not going to happen. I remember how pissed I was at such a pronouncement. How could he say something like that in a room full of despairing people? But, he was right. I’ve never made it out of poverty, and most people I’ve ever known in poverty are still there. Still. there.
We had a vote to increase the salary of our Executive Director that year, and I had to recuse myself from voting because I thought $80,000 a year was appropriate, and they wanted to increase it to $90,000. The board spoke of how they might lose the director to another company who would pay more, and I thought that if the director left the organization for that, then they were better off. It was astounding to me that several board members were upset with me for not wanting to authorize the pay increase, but I was looking at the big picture. Why was the director there? If salary was the reason, then the director was better off looking for a higher paying position. $80,000 a year was an incredible amount in my mind, and that was in the mid-1990’s!
Finding work I can do has been a life-long struggle. Two years ago, before a surgery that left me with a paralyzed arm for nearly a year, I had found a job that seemed pretty good, but the repetitious nature of data-entry precipitated my need for surgery, and I can’t do that kind of job anymore. C’est la vie, right?
So, chin up! Keep looking. Keep striving. Keep a happy face, baby, because nobody likes a downer.
And the irony is, I do. It’s my nature to hope. Maybe it’s all of our nature to hope. Is that what was left in Pandora’s box? It’s both the chain-lock and the key.
Like many, I’m a sucker believing that I might hit it big, so play the lottery when I can. What’s a dollar or two when millions stand to be gained? What’s a dollar or two a month over a year – a couple of gallons of milk, or bread, or other necessities. Those millions have never been realized, and yet, people do win the lottery, pretty consistently.
It’s easy to believe that some ‘god’ directs all that, but what an asshole god that would be.
Nah, it’s just my insane desire for a miracle to lift me out of poverty.
So, the uncomfortable truth is that I’m fucked. I have to do the best I can with what I have, and keep hoping, but do my best to stop being a sucker, for love or for money.
I’m in the thick of aging on the decline side, and part of me is all: ‘oh, you just have to accept it’, and ‘this is where we’re all headed’, and ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be’, to ‘Screw you life! This is not going to happen to me!’ I think people before me just lacked the knowledge to keep themselves from aging, but we know more now, and aging is an alleged choice, not a definitive.
But, reality intervenes, as it so often rudely does, and reminds me that I am not in control of anything except dying, and I’m not really in control of that.
I think I want to age gracefully, but I’m also aggressively against that. Anyone seeking to tell me how I should act, and what I should or should not do, is acting from their insecurities, or issues, and has nothing to do with me.
If I get facial hair maybe I’ll dye my chin hairs purple. Maybe I’ll have a shaved, tattooed head – I don’t know. I am not cool with life’s progressive decline, and as I look around me, precious few are. I see celebrities and non-celebrities doing whatever they can to make themselves appear younger.
A healthy diet, with some supplements as needed, lots of water, and exercise, are the biggest age-slowing activities, along with joyful living. But, fight it or not, I am aging.
Behind my worry about age is fear. Fear of never accomplishing anything I wanted to; fear of losing relevance or status, and fear of becoming decrepit and thereby dependent on others for complete care.
The upside of aging is perspective, more compassion for elders, and seeing them not as old people, but as lived people – people with stories to tell, and hopefully, wisdom to share. Plus, I’ll eventually get senior discounts, so I suppose I have that to look forward to…
I’m supposed to be writing. I know, I am writing, but I’m supposed to be working on one of the project’s that I’ve tried to complete for the last decade or so. Maybe I don’t really want to write. Maybe I just want to want to write? I mean, thinking is easier than doing, right? Except, it’s not, really. It’s just as painful to avoid as it is to confront – at least in this instance.
Am I afraid I’ll be found a fraud? Out of ideas? Stupid, incompetent, poser?
I’m all that. I’m just me, trying to figure out a way to make my time on this spinning living planet work for me.
I thought I wanted fame, and I am sooooo glad I never got it. Fame is crap – unless you get rich by having fame, and then it’s not the fame, it’s the wealth. For some, it’s the fame. Egomania.
Of course I’m ego-driven. I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t think I had something worthwhile to say – even if it’s just worthy to me. I also get inspiration, edification, joy, and connection from other people’s writing, art, and other creativity, and it’s satisfying to get positive feedback – or even neutral feedback. Negative feedback sucks, but then I have to step back and ask why I got that kind of comment. Was I offensive? Are they reacting from their fear? What’s my responsibility to them – or them to me?
We owe each other nothing, which makes connection all the more beautiful.
Often, I write to survive. Just getting something out is therapeutic, especially when I feel the nothingness crowding in.
Some things are far too personal to share except to skirt around the edges, and other instances have found me kicking up all the muck and slinging it around on the page, hoping that someone will relate – that someone will tell me their story too – that someone else’s noise will quiet mine.
I re-read that many suicidal people, if not most, want to end the pain, not their life. Lately I wake, usually in serious pain, and my first thought is how I can die with the least suffering for those around me. How and where to end my life, what arrangements I should make.
After moving around, or doing my PT stretches and core exercises, as well as just getting on with the day, the desire to die lessens, and I think about how to make my life more manageable and more pain-free.
Drugs definitely help the pain, but have other effects, like addiction, or severe itching, as well as other unpleasant side effects.
I don’t enjoy events, or my friends, as much as I used to. It’s not a big leap to go from here to not here anymore.
Gray days like today increase my dark mood, and I have to remember that I have a full-spectrum light-box to start using this time of year. I also turned on all the lights in the common area, so I’m not sitting in gloom.
Time-management is super tough for me. The to-do list is large, and taunts me with nothing being checked off, except, I am writing. I will make food. Laundry is being done. It wasn’t on the list, so I put it on, and cross it off. Maybe more gets accomplished than I know, and I’ve created a poor list.
The new list reads:
Get out of bed
Brush my teeth
Start household tasks
Tell myself I’m doing well.
Look at the big TO-DO list and see if there is one thing I can accomplish. Can I do it now? Remember there is nothing I can do about the past. Ask for forgiveness of self and others, and move on. Focus on what is getting done – stay there.
I understand my day’s list is some else’s ten minutes, but that someone else probably isn’t anxious and depressed. That someone manages well – has good skills. I manage damn well for where I am.
Smile – even a half-smile – like an exercise move. Stop the self-hate, and the judgement.
Get off social media, or set a timer for fifteen minutes, and when the timer goes off, so does Twitter, Ello, Facebook, et. al. There are apps that will kill my sessions if I lack will power to stop.
Write down what I can reasonably accomplish today, allotting time to each task before beginning work.
Focus on my most important task, determining how long I need to be at it, and break it up, again, setting a timer so that I stop, stretch, look outside (focusing my eyes on something further away to exercise them too), get a drink of water, and maybe a snack before continuing.
While I’m taking a break, pick up things lying around that need to go back to their place – I’m making ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ a mantra. Seeing the clutter gone helps my mind focus better.
Practice 5 minutes of mindful relaxation before getting back into work or starting a new task.
Remind myself what my goals are. “I’m clearing this area so I have more room to work, thus reducing my stress level too”. “I’m writing several pages today, not the whole book.” “I’m making my living space a place I enjoy being, and feel good about inviting others into”., etc.
Reward myself intermittently. Psychological studies have shown that intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful type of conditioning, eliciting better responses than continuous positive reinforcement. The reward needs to be consistent with my overall goals, so if I’m rewarding myself for writing several pages with a piece of cake, I’m ignoring my goal of healthier eating or weight loss. But if cake makes me happy – a bite is better than a whole slice for my overall goals.
Having A.D.D. and anxiety makes it hard to get down to work, and as I’ve learned to do with exercise – I ignore my thoughts about it and just begin. Exercise is easier because I have a routine, so I know where to start. My clutter and procrastination happens because I’m overwhelmed with so much that needs doing that I can’t start. Once I started narrowing in on ‘one thing’, I tend to get in a zone and try to do everything, which is also counter-productive because it makes it less likely that I’ll do that again knowing that I’ll have a hard time stopping, so I have to set a timer as soon as I do or finish that one thing, knowing I’ll only continue for a half-hour, or whatever I can do at the time, but usually never more than an hour, unless it’s a dedicated task I’ve allotted a few hours to.
Dealing with brain disorders is daunting! It’s not a personal failure, but I tell myself that anyway. Shame is part of the package for me, but I can lessen it by remembering that I’m limited. Not to give myself a pass, but to remind myself that my accomplishments are harder earned, and any progress is great progress.
Tomorrow is my birthday. Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger. Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.
Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!
Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging. Too bad, I know. Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.
Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled. I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein. I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.
I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country. I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.
Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.
I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).
Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment. There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.
As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount, I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.
My S. O. & I won a 3-day adventure trip through the AMC – Appalachian Mountain Club – from a sweepstakes form we filled out at the Boston Globe Travel Show this past February.
We drove up early Thursday morning, visiting a dear friend of mine in North Conway, New Hampshire, before heading out to the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, N. H., for the first night of our stay. It was sunny, dry, and in the low 70°F’s. We had supper at the center, met a lovely couple who gave us some suggestions of an easier hike the next morning before we headed up to the Mizpah Spring Hut, where we’d be spending our second night.
A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., and I thought it was some AMC hyper-awareness drill, but it turned out there was an electrical fire that started in the basement. We didn’t learn this until the next day. What we knew is that a fire truck showed up about 15 or 20 minutes into the ‘drill’, and by then I figured out it was a real thing, and my S.O. ran back for something he needed, stupid in hindsight, but it’s not like there was smoke or open flames or anything.
An hour and a half or so, and three firetrucks later, I decided to go back up to our room and grab our backpacks so we could at least try to sleep in our car – having no idea if or when we’d get back, and my S.O. hung back while I surreptitiously made my way up to the third floor, ducking low to keep out of sight – my adrenaline surging – as I imagined the place blowing up before reaching our room. After a minute or so, my guy was there with me, grabbing what we could, freaked out about being discovered, and the trouble we’d be in for being colossally stupid. It would have served us right to be burned up, but thankfully we weren’t. Were there open flames or smoke, I’d have counted my losses, and not risked it, but I figured we weren’t getting back in, and I wanted to go get some sleep.
About 5 minutes after retrieving our packs, we were given the all clear to go back in. I understand the risk I took, and I’m grateful it was as I suspected, and not a crisis situation.
Three hours, and no sleep later, we got breakfast, and hiked a mile and a half up a smaller trail that was twice as steep as any I’ve hiked so far, except Mt. Chochura, which we hiked two years ago. The pay-off was astoundingly worth it:
After that, we hiked down and chilled out before heading out for Mizpah Spring Hut, which we’ve heard referred to as ‘a brief jaunt‘. I guess they’re professional hikers because I was wiped out halfway up. A brief jaunt? Are you kidding me?
I’m holding back the ‘f-bombs’ as one of my aunts reads this and feels it’s unnecessary. I understand that, but still type my satisfying swears, and then backspace…
The temperature had climbed to near 80°F, and the sweat was starting to drip off me. My S.O. fared better, but it wasn’t a skip in the woods for him either.
We had supper at the hut, which was the best part of our being there, outside of meeting some really great people, as well as some not so great ones, and some truly odd folks, but sleep mostly eluded me and my normally easy and deep-sleeping beau, being in a full capacity three triple-bunk room, and not much space to move around in.
Being a hut, there was no shower – even if it were simply cold water – and we forgot to pack in towels, reading that they were provided at the huts during the high season (not true). The only paper product is toilet tissue (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I totally get it, but I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I am not a super outdoorsy, mountaineering, person, and this didn’t charm me into becoming one.
We were supposed to continue to Mt. Washington, and stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, which sounds so fantastical, and dream-like, but it poured into the early hours, and was still lightly raining when we got up to have breakfast at 6:30 this morning. We got out after 8 a.m., and headed for Mt. Pierce, where we decided to take the Crawford Path back down instead of trudging on into the 25 – 30 mph winds, rain, and thunderstorms forecast along the open ridge we’d be hiking. Plus, the hiking boots I got had already given me a few blisters, and I had liners under my ‘smartwool’ hiking socks. The lovely Linda, a former nurse, and her friend, Carla, who had hiked up to stay for the weekend at Mizpah Hut, bandaged and taped my blisters and sore spots for the trek down – I thank their kindness and expertise!
My S. O. and I decided to hike the 0.9 miles to Mt. Pierce from Mizpah to at least make it to one of the 4,000 footers, but the beginning was intimidating. It could nearly be called a ladder trail, if the ladder were unevenly spaced and nearly 3/4 of a mile long.
Our goal was accomplished, but the day being what it was, Mt. Pierce was enshrouded in dense fog, often an ominous deep grayish-green. I was glad to make it up, but gladder to head back down.
I’d like to hike Mt. Washington some day, but it won’t be a carefree romp. I’ll have earned every foot, sweat out every meter.
Going away on a whim used to include making sure I had my toothbrush and a change of clothes, and depending on the time of year, my bathing suit and sunblock.
When my child was born, I tried to keep spontaneity alive, and suffered for it. Oh, no – I forgot his red blanket! We have to turn around! He won’t sleep without it, therefore I won’t sleep without it, therefore anyone with me will be miserable – I’ll make sure of that… Suffering in silence just isn’t fun.
Today, my child grown, and no longer needing his red blanket – I think – probably takes off on a lark all the time. May the pox of child-rearing fall on his house!
I now pack a minimum of three days worth of crap. It’s ingrained. I’ve tried to make do, to be free again, but I need the earplugs – and this lamp. And this ashtray… I can’t sleep without them. Sure, we could pick some up at the store, but for me, it would be steal them from the store because our budget is so tight – yeah, yeah, first world problem – there is no room for anything else. The credit cards are maxed, and the goal is to pay down, not add. No, not even $5 which will be closer to $25 by the time the debt is paid down.
A detailed list is a must for me, and the stress surrounding trips takes a lot of fun out of it, for sure. Personal items, check. Three pairs of underwear for two days. Yes. Two pant choices, three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and my sneakers. Should I bring those shoes? Will I want my sundress?
My mind is an unforgiving landscape, a dark back alley where the worst of humanity gives me a wide berth. You crazy, woman!
Snacks! We’re on a budget! Pack sandwich making supplies in smaller containers. Don’t forget the water! Who knows if it’s drinkable where we’re going! Beach stuff, bug spray, sunblock. Holy crap, we almost forgot the tent! I guess we could have slept under the stars for a night. Except, we’ll be in a crowded campground with screaming babies and marauding teens. Wildlife bothers me much less – at least they’re quiet.
My S.O., on the other hand, packed one day’s worth of clothing, and his toothbrush.
Does anyone else get anxious going into a clothing store? I like clothes, adore cute styles, patterns, textures, and varied material, but I ordered shorts online, and they were too big – a happy problem, for sure – but going to the store to try to find the right size was a freakish experience.
Shopping has never been my favorite past time, but I was struck with too many possibilities, and yet, variety is the spice of clothing! Maybe it wasn’t having a lot of time to wander around and try on everything that caught my eye, but it felt visually overwhelming.
Would I look good in those cute sailboat pattern Capri pants? What about the palm tree print? Oooo, the flowered cut-offs? Wait, that pretty star-spangled skirt is so cute!
Oh, do I even have a shirt to go with it? Well, hold on, I’m just here to switch the cute flower-patterned khaki linen shorts I got, and I can either stick with those or choose one of these others. Oh, no, I can’t. I got the shorts because they were significantly marked down, and all the other things I’d like are full-price. Maybe there’ll still be a few items at the end of the season.
The thought of the end of the season depresses me further, because time moves faster now that I’m older, and then I’m enervated and look for the right size shorts, which of course they don’t have, and the sales lady suggests I go online and maybe they’ll waive the shipping fee if I find the size I want, but in the meantime, is there anything else she can sell me, uh, show me?
My S.O. watches my changing state from our store entrance to our store exit, and he’s learned to not say anything, but takes my hand, and kisses my cheek.
What I need is a personal shopper – who works for free. Ha, ha, ha, ha.