I’ve had a tough time writing lately. Maybe depression has set in – apathy leading the way. Nothing feels interesting or worth investing in. I could look happy and present, but whether or not I am, it shifts quickly.
Is living for the young? Should twenty to forty be the only important part of life? After forty the pain began. It has only increased since. Different issues, more work & time to address it – the ‘free ride’ over.
The problem is the lack of appreciation for a body that feels good & functions well. It’s inspiring when people born without limbs, or other horrific problems, live high-functioning lives. It shames me & I’m so tired of living shame.
Even the love of my life can’t breach the gap. It’s not his path, even if he loves me with all he has.
In my wildest imagination I am alone: succeeding, happy, fulfilled. I’ve never seen it with someone else – just me. Maybe that’s due to trauma – neglect & abuse – I don’t know. I decided that no one, NO ONE, will take anything else from me. I lived that life and I’m not able to continue helping someone else do well at my expense. I mean emotionally. If I had billions I could give most away without issue, but I’m tired of people who want to take my soul.
That’s where I am today. I’m sure it’ll change tomorrow. Cheers.
So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.
Are you happy? Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?
If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life. Balance is key. Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.
I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear. Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.
My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you. For sure, ‘love’ is a big word. It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.
Life is learning. That never stops, so I’m still learning too. My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.
Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.
In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.
Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.
I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.
But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.
So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.
You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.
This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.
Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.
At writing group tonight I listened to a friend read her piece about her birthday today and how being sixty was kind of amazing, and it made me feel like I can do this. I can get to sixty someday soon, and maybe it won’t be so bad.
She is a strong, beautiful woman, and I might not have seen that at twenty, or even thirty, but time shapes us whether we want it or not. I am not in control. No matter how much I try to determine my destiny, I am foiled by this great unknown we’re all in.
We are all in. Once in a while, some of us break out and try controlling the show, life events, or life’s trajectory, but they are quelled by others or by their own mortality. We came into the world by chance or by design, and maybe we’re supposed to cause an effect, or maybe just witness this incredible moment, because it is really only a moment – especially as I get older and see how damn fast it all goes.
I have no idea where I’m going from here, or if there’s somewhere from here, and maybe religion is right, or maybe it’s all a crock – all people just whistling in the dark – but I’ve found love, and friendship, kinship, beauty, terror, and horror, along with inexplicable help and guidance.
What I’ve found true is following my heart. I might be wrong, but whenever I’ve tried to follow someone or something else’s idea of how to navigate this world, it’s caused deeper pain than just muddling through.
I can’t believe in a punishing ‘god’. It makes no sense to me. Maybe I’ll pay for that, but I’ll take my chances. God is love, or it is nothing. I cannot be better than ‘god’. So, if there is such a thing, It loves and accepts me.
If there’s nothing, then this has been an interesting manifestation of life replicating itself. I hope I’ve left more good than bad, and if my son has a child, or children, then our line continues, and if not, then we die out with his generation. So be it.
Maybe we’ll colonize other worlds, or maybe humanity will perish with this one, but life on earth has abundant time left for whatever will happen.
And though I have no say, I’d like us to have mattered – to be the reason for existence – but that might be ego rather than reality.
Because that’s how I see you. Not really a boy, though. More like a young adult. Emphasis on young.
How would I treat you if I weren’t your mother? I’d still be concerned, and I know that because that’s me. I care for everyone I love – and my problem is being too attached – and I know all the ‘how to live a happy (er) life’ teachers, guides, gurus, masters, etc. say that attachment is the source of my pain. Stop being attached. Just stop.
It’s possible, but it’s not like turning off a switch. And if it is, then I don’t want to know you because you’re probably psychotic.
Little by little I am letting go. Issue by issue. If my job was to keep you safe – and let you take risks – I was a successful failure. I did let you fall off your bike. I did watch as I knew you might scratch your knees when you were running so fast downhill and took a header – and I was grateful that was the worst of it – but I did not let you run out into traffic and face those natural consequences. In fact, I smacked your ass and told you in no uncertain terms that you will never do that again.
Yeah, yeah, violence is never the answer, but it wasn’t violence I was going for. It was reaction from unadulterated fear – from my not being everywhere at once – from what felt like my failure, at the time. As far as that toddler you were, I was god(dess).
The next terrible two incident was finding you surrounded by unsheathed freshly sharpened knives in Beth’s kitchen. You had to open the drawer that was over your head, and take out the knives one by one. You were like every other toddler on the planet – curious and non-stop. And you didn’t have one scratch on you. There is a god(dess)! – but it’s not me…
It was exhausting, and I was in the midst of newly single parenting, and trying to find work, and our own apartment, and was doing the best I could to be present and available for you. You were such a lovely being. Your ‘up, Mama up,’ from your crib in the morning was so precious. How could I not get my ass out of bed for that, no matter how tired I was?
When you were three, and we were living in our South Portland apartment, and I had just been Momzilla about some stupid shit, and I was sitting on the floor crying, you took my face in your sweet little hands and said: “the anger blocks the love, mama”.
That was your way of grabbing my full attention. If I was distracted and you had something. to. say. you’d grab my face in your hands and force my presence. Thankfully that wasn’t a constant occurrence, but more, that you were resourceful, even as a toddler.
I watched you deal with disappointment in your grade school years, watched as every kid in your class got a party invitation but you, and we ended up going to the public river swimming area that day. I was livid, but I hugged you and dealt with your hurt, and called those parents later, saying that they could have at least invited you for the cake once they knew you were there. I got it, not everyone is going to like you, but when the whole class was there? I started wondering if you had ADHD or something, but really, you were just already your own person, and at that age, conformity was king. You faced social challenges early on, and I did the best I could to support the great kid I knew you were – as well as try to get you to conform some – for your ease, not mine.
It wasn’t until junior high, at Four Rivers Charter Public School, that you found your posse. It was a great fit for you, and I watched you blossom there. You were pulling away from me, as life dictates, and I told you that you were changing but I wasn’t, and I’d always be here.
I feel like I need to say that again. I’m always here. Same as it ever was – to borrow a Talking Heads phrase. Maybe I’ve changed a lot too, but it doesn’t feel that way. I love you and like you and want you in my life as much – or even more now – as I always have.
But, to the point of letting go: it’s for my benefit that I release my bond to you.
You know where to find me, and my love is unchanging.
I don’t know who coined that phrase, but hearing it changed my life. I bring me with me – moving away never solved my problems, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Looking back to my 20’s and 30’s, I’m surprised I survived. Even if I had tried to off myself, I would likely have been unsuccessful, and then maimed for life. So life would still suck, and I’d be scarred, or worse. Great.
Getting over self-preservation is no small undertaking. No one makes it out of here alive, so there’s that reasoning, but what we might do here goes beyond us.
A therapist told me that if I kill myself, I give my son permission to end his life too. I fluffed that off, but since I know 3 people who were successful in the last few years, it’s been working on me in whispers at vulnerable times.
‘You’ll never get out of debt, loser girl.’ That’s one of the lovely names my inner asshole has for me. The ‘girl’ is a nice touch – colloquial and derogatory at once. ‘You’re worth more dead than alive’ – true – as long as I can keep paying the insurance, which looks less likely each time the payment’s due. ‘You’re aging now and you’re losing the little looks you had, and you’re worth less and less.’ ‘You’ve failed everything you’ve tried, and it’s too late to make it anywhere.’ ‘You can’t even get a regular job! Not one interview, and no prospects.’
The most significant, however, is the voice that tells me that I’ll end my pain. No more suffering. No more challenges. No more heartache.
Except, wherever I go, there I am.
Maybe I’ll have a consciousness, maybe I won’t. I’ve never died before. I’ve read lots of books and studies on people who have died and been revived, and they usually talk about bright light, and seeing loved ones who’ve passed on, or of spirits – ghosts – that seem to be stuck in the thoughts and feelings they had when they died.
Finding work I can do has been the bane of my existence. Clearly, I have to get entrepreneurial, but figuring that out is the rub.
The positives of staying alive are seeing the beautiful land where I live, hearing birds trilling, and flying around, watching the fireflies this time of year, and listening to tree frogs and crickets. Cats and dogs don’t care what I look like as long as I can scratch behind their ears and feed them. They aren’t body-based, or judgmental, but humans sure are.
And when depression’s shroud descends, none of that matters in my messed up head. I don’t care about anyone, and that disconnection is bizarre to witness.
Grandma Moses said: ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.’ She began painting her quaint village scenes in her 80’s, and she lived another 20 years, so not only do I have those phrases to shore me up, but Yogi Berra‘s: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’, is another adage to hang onto.
So, wherever I’m headed, I can’t escape myself – and I prefer self-love over self-loathing, but there I am – whatever it is.
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.
It’s there in the morning, when I’m most vulnerable, stirring back to consciousness – especially if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. It follows me to the bathroom where I splash cold water on my face & say ‘good morning beautiful’ to the sad face in the mirror. Why does it surprise me that a compliment – a talisman, really – slightly boosts my spirits?
My actions happen under duress as I lay out my yoga mat and lay down to stretch. The thing is fierce now – practically yelling at me, telling me to give up, just go back to bed; sit down and do nothing. Why bother?
Hate’s litany joins in, and I battle this every. day. I manage to get some exercises in, but don’t complete my whole routine. My new task is rewarding myself for progress, not focusing on how much I think I suck.
Today’s epiphany isn’t new, but newly remembered: I worked myself out of a job when my son grew up and left. It’s wonderful that I managed to foster a productive, beautiful, kind human. He’s bright and independent – and I am empty.
I wouldn’t change how things are except to be alright. I failed to take care of me by solely taking care of him. I was it. A single parent – who had lots of help – but my child was my everything. I showed up for him when my constant demons told me it was too much, and I soldiered on. I cried through making meals sometimes, or house-cleaning, or the myriad unending tasks – but I did them, and I can’t seem to muster the same resolve for myself. I don’t matter as much as my child did, but my work is changing that.
Perhaps getting out of bed, splashing water on my face, doing my PT exercises, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth are as much as I did for my child, even if minute in comparison?
Whether or not I’m doing the best I can, I’m still failing to fully show up for my life – for what’s left of it.
Raising my child is still the best thing I’ve ever done, and while admirable, it’s not my whole life. He grew up, and so did the other children I watched for several years, but childcare is not my passion, even if I’m good at it.
Childcare is thankless and lonely. If you do a good job, who cares – it’s what you were supposed to do. There is no recognition ceremony, no severance package, no pension. Transferable skills are laughed at – even though there are many.
Grief moves to the side when something rewarding and motivating takes up more space, and though I engage in singing, writing, and acting, I’m not making a living through those passions. Friends have gotten book deals, national singing gigs, or paid and recognized acting jobs, and I’ve got to make a new choice because those passions are a dry well for me.
There is an answer, but whatever it is has to happen soon, and must move my grief so I’m not pushing through it every day – so that every day doesn’t look the same.
It’s your day, Earth. We set one day aside to honor you – kind of like Mother’s, or Father’s, Day. I can only speak for mothers, but I know most of us work hard all year, but it’s one day for special notice.
And like the aforementioned days for recognition, you’re pretty much taken for granted the rest of the year, Earth. We trust there’ll be breathable air, livable land, and drinkable water every day – no matter what we do to you.
But more people, who wouldn’t call themselves tree-huggers or hippies, are waking up to the Earth’s needs – regardless of motivation.
Lots of trees were planted today, and many people cleaned up road and river ways in your honor, Earth. Children danced and sang, wrote stories and poems, painted pictures, and marched in parades.
But what happens tomorrow? Making every day Earth day is a significant challenge, and I am as bad as anyone because I drive, and use electricity, and eat, and breathe, and use unsustainable goods.
How do I change – impoverished me, who can’t go buy a hybrid vehicle, build a ‘green’ home, has no regular public transportation, and deals with chronic pain among other issues, making biking or walking everywhere unrealistic?
I suppose my carbon footprint is less by virtue of my poverty, but if I were wealthy, would I care? I hope so, but I absolutely would do more if I gain wealth in my life.
I’m grateful for others’ creativity – those addressing problems of our industrialized world: industrial and agricultural pollution, rubbish, mindless consumerism, etc.
Cows are one of the major methane producers, and I wonder if an enzyme could be put into their feed to reduce their gas emissions, much like Bean-o does for humans. There has to be solutions to help us and Earth without going back to being hunter/gatherers. I have no interest in beating my clothes against a rock in the local brook to clean them. I don’t think life has to get harder to get better for all of us.
Maybe oil-based materials and products will use new substances, known, or as yet undiscovered, that won’t require oil, coal, tar, or other noxious materials to create or operate. ‘Plastic’ can be made from plant fibers, for instance, that will degrade without as much damage to the world as current plastics are.
There are many smart, driven, compassionate, and caring people who can tackle these issues, but government needs to provide funds for success much like it did with the space program – a program now focused on getting humanity off this polluted world rather than solving pollution issues.
Maybe humanity screwed up other planets in the solar system a long time ago, and luckily found a livable planet here, but pretty much directly started destroying it…
My father thought we were the scourge of the universe and ours is a penitentiary planet – keeping us from serious interstellar harm. I think we’re an immature species, smart enough to get ourselves in real trouble, but not insightful enough to stop ourselves. So, until that happy day when we’re mature, we suffer the consequences of our actions rather than celebrate how far we’ve come.
Who knows how long I’ll live, but I could reasonably live another forty or fifty years – and I’d like to use whatever time left giving back to this beautiful blue interstellar marble, and do my best to decrease my destructive tendencies and do more good than harm.
Regardless, I wish all a beautiful Earth day, and hope it will carry all through the year.
One of my first experiences of body appreciation was by reading Peanuts. That’s right, my philosophical beginning came through a comic strip. Not to diminish Mr. Schultz’s worldly observations, but I was a 5 or 6-year-old reading Snoopy’s exploits, or maybe it was Charlie Brown’s? – giving his legs and feet a pep talk, something like: ‘feet don’t fail me now’, as though they had brains of their own. It was revelatory for me to think about my legs and feet as maybe failing me, or that they deserved recognition for their constant work on my behalf.
Flash forward more decades than I wish, reluctantly wearing reading (in this case, writing…) glasses, experiencing appreciation for what was. I was going to eradicate aging though, merely by believing I could. Hey, the cultists told me we only age because we think we’re going to – that it’s all attitude and belief. That I’ve aged merely indicates my lack of faith…
One of my sisters needed glasses her whole life, so I guess she was spiritually lacking from the get-go. Idiocy aside, aging means diminished ability – no matter how well we eat, or how many vitamins and minerals we take to slow the process. The only way to stop aging is to die. That’s it. Plastic surgery doesn’t stop bodily degeneration, unless we start implanting baby organs, and stem cells to replenish our damaged cells. And there’s a bodily cost for those ‘interventions’: getting surgically sliced and diced causes damage too.
Fighting the inevitable – outside of being my Native American, or, First People, name – is exhausting. Acceptance feels like giving up. I know it’s not, but my emotional self says: ‘Screw you! – you’ll never take me alive’. And my body replies: ‘Well, that’s the intention…’.
So I extend my gratitude backwards. My body served me well, and still does.
My S. O. likes to try to cheer me up when I’m spiraling down, which is sweet, and it would be great if that were the answer to my mental illness, but rather than climb into bed and try to sleep away my hell (which doesn’t work, but at least it’s warm in bed), I agreed to go out with him.
He had plans and it was fun to not know where we were going, but it turned out tickets were sold out for what he had planned. (Of course they were – I could have told him that.)
Aside from the asshole in my head, he rallied and told me we could eat out wherever I wanted. Initially I chose a place that we’ve been to once before for coffee, and aside being good coffee, offered a simple menu of pizza, calzones, salads, and pastries, but my S. O. said anywhere, and I had never been to another, fancier, restaurant in the town, so off we went.
He got the blackened swordfish, and I opted for chicken pot pie, which was good, but heavy on the cream sauce in the filling. The dessert menu included crème brûlée, an amazing dessert when done right. Alas, it was a dense custard than the better pudding quality, but I still ate it, being a long time member of the ‘clean plate club’. Sigh.
We soon wished we had saved half of what my S. O. spent and gone to the other place, but we couldn’t know until we tried, and soon after, the heaviness too much, I threw it all up.
Maybe that wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t having an episode, but I rarely eat rich foods anyway.
Perhaps a cleanse (and an exorcism) will make me well again.
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 never really thought much about my body except for the flaws I saw and felt – or the flaws others ascribed to me, or worse, that I assumed they ascribed to me by ways others (mostly men) have responded to me, but that may have had little to do with me.
I had decided I wanted to live several years ago, coming from the brink of suicide – and I wish I could say from that resolution on it’s been clear skies and calm seas – but what has stayed with me are many overt and subtle ways I treat myself, and my desire toward self-care and love.
I’m of two minds here, as I sip my delicious mocha (made by me with left-over brewed coffee from this morning, high quality hot chocolate mix, dry powered-milk, and close to a tablespoon of half and half.) I understand that the sugar is not good for me, but the drink warms my insides, warms my hands as I hold the mug, enlivens my senses through touch, feel, taste, and enticing scent, along with the four Trader Joe’s, Triple Ginger Snaps, and a quarter cup of unsalted cashews…
What is the measure between how much shit am I putting in my body, vs. how much the satisfaction increase my happiness? I feel I’m snacking fairly healthy – understanding I’m likely eating GMO wheat, and refined sugar, along with the maligned dairy products of the half and half, powdered non-fat-milk, and the butter in the cookies.
I’m more conscientious about what I eat – and I’ve always been careful – and I try to find non-GMO products, but even organics can have GMOs in them if the seeds were GMO but grown organically.
Balancing mental/emotional well-being with best-practices for physical well-being, especially being impoverished, is a tough job. This time of year (cold winter) I love comfort food, and my body would like a thicker layer of fat as nature intended, thank you very much, so my habits are a constant challenge between healthy eating and feeling consoled through food.
Paying mindful attention to my body is a great help in feeling better. I usually just towel off after a shower, put on lotion, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go, but being mindful about this ‘chunked’ process has had some positive effects.
It’s silly to anthropomorphize my limbs, relating to them as though they have a separate life without me, or maybe just feeling like I need to appreciate all that still works well in my body, but as our largest organ, I notice how often I’ve taken my relatively sound, healthy, skin and my limbs for granted, and this new mindfulness toward my body’s individual parts leaves me feeling more connected to myself, and with less pain.
That could be the drugs, though. Hmmm.
I do PT exercises for chronic pain, and that does alleviate about 80 – 90% of my daily pain, but when depression kicks in it’s tough to engage in what’s good for me. I always feel better when I’ve exercised, so it’s worth pushing through my Eeyore persona to channel Tigger.
If you start trying body mindfulness, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Cheers!
Nat King Cole croons The Christmas Song, and I remember that it’s my sister-in-law’s favorite holiday song. Many years ago we went caroling: she, my brother (her husband), my next oldest sister, and our younger brother, as well as some family friends, and I remember our fun, our exuberance, and just us as young adults.
Eventually, our lives expanded out like the big bang – each of us in our various orbits, claiming our bit of space, our independence from one another.
What role our family trauma played, I’m unsure, but untreated trauma does not resolve of its own. It can be medicated, white-knuckled, tossed outward, or left festering inside, but it has to be handled.
There are healthy ways of dealing with trauma and not so healthy ways. So much creativity has been born from pain, and those who’ve had that outlet are sometimes healed, but not always.
I doubt my brother would want me to feel sad for him. It’s not pity he needs, and it’s not pity I’m giving. I lived with my parents too. I was there too. I was affected too.
He doesn’t want advice from his littlest sister, even though I had to deal with my trauma or die – even though I sought professional help, and practiced the tools I was given – even though I trained to help other trauma survivors – even though sometimes it’s still next to unbearable remaining alive.
The best way out is through, for me. Just let the feelings be, but visit the skills I’ve learned before I’m in crisis. I forget that. I think I’m healed – that I’m all done feeling pain – or that I’ll always cope well from now on.
Pride kicks in too – the belief that I’m knowledgeable, and therefore untouchable. The other side is despair. Why remain alive if I keep going through this, or if I can’t make life better?
I can hold my brother in my heart – as well as my whole family – and I re-affirm that he is whole and complete. He is competent, capable, and has enough humility to seek what he needs. He knows I care, he knows I’m available, and he knows I understand as perhaps few others can.
He’s made it through, all these years later, and I remember that what’s not dealt with keeps manifesting itself until it’s faced – whenever, or however, that trauma shows up.
I’ve re-connected with most of my siblings after raising my son and having my space again. My S.O. has been an understanding, caring, and deeply loving partner, and I know how rare that is, and I still want to run away now and then. My old nemeses, fear, self-hate, and depression, muscle their way in, but if I’m fortified enough, they’re easier to battle.
This time of year is filled with the ghosts of trauma past, their presence appearing unconsciously, making it seem as though now is the problem, or that I have made no emotional progress.
I cannot save my brother, or anyone who doesn’t want to be saved, but I continue to love and care anyway. The violence witnessed, and perpetrated on us, got into our psyches, but it was also programmed into our DNA before we were born, from the violence done to our parents, and on down our line, but we can use our will, we can learn self-love, and we can practice self-care, changing not only ourselves, but the DNA we pass on to our children, and that they will pass on to theirs.
Christmas is about hope in terrible circumstances. Whether it’s just a story, or has some historical truth, the message, to me, is perseverance, self-love, and love, and hope, for humanity.
Love, kindness, and care are what matters, and the carols my family and friends used to sing were, and still are, a gift of light in a dark season – for ourselves as well as others.
I wish all whatever you need, and for more joy, comfort, peace, and love – whatever you celebrate, or not!
I missed you more intensely this year. Remembering our trips to the library every year, you picking out books you wanted to read, or have me read to you, and me picking out scary and fun Halloween stories to read together. I miss how you’d cuddle up on my lap and play with my ear as I read to you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you’re grown up and handling your adult life beautifully, but sometimes I feel like we’re near strangers, and I struggle knowing what to talk about now. Wanting a separate life with little contact is understandable – I remember being your age – although I can’t know your perspective as a man.
Life changed when I had you. My life was no longer solely my own, and becoming a parent changed me in ways you can’t know unless you become a parent.
The struggles we endured as you grew have not faded, but I think I handled them well. An image flashes of you at fourteen standing stock still while I hugged you, telling you I love you, and even though you were changing, I was not. You did, at least, allow me to hug you.
We got through those dark times, even if sometimes the memories still tear me up, and I wish my best memories with you were more current, but I’m reminded of our sweet and happy times together every year.
Holidays heighten my old loss with you, that necessary loss we all experience, and even though I’ve spent time reading to other people’s children at a play-group, or with the children I cared for, it isn’t the same.
The sadness only lasts a few days, and sweet memories are there too, but missing you pushes out better feelings I try to invoke, and it’s OK to feel this – especially as I have little control over its insistence.
Shame that I’m not wiser, happier, better, more emotionally balanced, presses in, and my best weapon is non-resistance.
This is depression’s scourge, my trauma brain – whatever – and minimizing my reality by suggesting I ‘choose happiness’, or other platitudes, only increases isolation.
It took all this to say I miss our connection; I miss the boy you were, even if I celebrate the man you are.
Long ago, I was told that I asked for or created everything that has happened and will happen in my life, and although my wise mind knows that’s not quite the truth, the rest of me battles to remain alive.
I’m not sure why I’m here, or why I should stay, except for my son. A therapist told me that if I leave, I give my son permission to leave too, and I wonder if that’s a bad thing.
This is not a kind world. It’s a world you have to be tough in. You have to be strong and pliable, and that’s a survival of the fittest thing.
Am I here on purpose? If so, to what purpose? Did I fulfill it already by having my child?
If I could design my life, it would look so different from what it is.
I’d live by the sea in a moderate home, leaving as small a footprint as I could while still enjoying my life.
My bucket list would be empty, or very low.
Bills would be paid without anxiety of what else would suffer, and all my medical/dental needs would be taken care of.
Life might not be a lark, but it sure would be easier.
I think of the few 1%er’s in American society, and perhaps the world, and what it must be like to not worry so much about your life – to have your needs met, even if you don’t get all your ‘wants’.
My son told me he’d be sad if I were gone, and I understand, but he’s not seen the true suckage of life yet.
A psychic that I lived with when my son was a pre-schooler told me that she was fighting entities off every night for me when I lived with her, and it was exhausting so I needed to deal with them myself. I remember that the ceiling popped every night but I thought it was just the roof cooling off or something. After my housemate told me I had to deal with whatever the spirits wanted from me – that I ‘owed’ them – I talked to what seemed the air one night, saying that I was sorry for whatever was happening because of me, that I wanted them – whatever – to go to the light, that I didn’t know what I owed them, and please forgive me, and whatever else I could think of, and the next night, and every night after, the ceiling never popped again. My housemate told me that whatever I did or said, worked – that she was no longer being bothered by entities that weren’t getting through to me.
I messed up my life so much, and know I can’t recover without a bona fide miracle, but I’m still here. I’m too afraid, yet, to take my life, but I’m hoping I’ll overcome the fear. If something else happened that was better than that, I’d be so happy.
I learned to lie when I was young. One of the first lies I was taught, was if a teacher, or anyone, asked, my bruise was from falling. Next, my older sisters taught me to steal candy from the store, and I remember my next oldest sister’s vicious pleasure while saying that if I told on them, they would tell on me. Thieving was power – the first I ever had – and feeling powerful was addictive. I was good at it, being a cute little kid that no one would suspect of criminality. I didn’t feel the shame then that I do now.
I understood that it was a dog eat dog world at six years old, and I knew which dog I wanted to be.
Thankfully, I also grew to be a kinder, more thoughtful, and aware of consequences, person, and I ended my nefarious ways – mostly…
I’ve hurt people I never wanted to hurt. Please accept my apology. Accept my apology for those who’ve hurt you and never copped to it.
There is a quote about how everything that happens is necessary for ‘your soul’s progression’, and I think that’s such total bullshit. What the hell does that person know? They just found another excuse to justify awful things happening. That quote certainly didn’t surface about welcome events.
Humanity is responsible for close to 90% of the hell in this world. Nature, or the cosmos, or the universe, or just crappy luck, is responsible for 5%, and our stupidity is responsible for the rest.
Life goes on regardless of anything that happens. I remember hearing about ‘earth changes’ when I was a kid in the commune/cult, and find it sadly funny about how none of it came to pass. We’ve been killing our planet since the industrial age, and fossil fuels, atomic energy, commercial farming, genetic modification, etc., will eventually do us in if we don’t change how we get and use energy, and where and how we get our food, but life will go on – even if it’s without humanity.
There are people and organizations addressing these issues, and they are changing life, but it might be too little too late. Then again, we love a good David & Goliath story – where the little guy prevails against all odds over the big guy – and it’s that hope that keeps us going. That, and ignorance.
My little life pales in comparison to these major problems, but my area of immediate concern is who I am, where I’m going, and what I want as my legacy. Of those who will remember me, I’d like happy remembrance. I want my eulogy to be sincere, and not merely out of respect for the dead…
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.
No to the creaky knees, no to the aching joints. What the hell is my problem, I think. I am not that old! I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m really old – do I even want to make it that far if I’m already in daily pain? Wtf?
I’m in denial. Aging is a slow progression. You don’t wake up one day ‘old’. How the fuck would that be? No, you get to hurt slowly, like a mild torture device that can be full throttle any time.
The problems begin to add up. Oh, your eyes aren’t seeing so well anymore, and you ignore it, it’s temporary. Soon, though, you begrudgingly get the dollar reading glasses, because why are you going to pay very much for this bullshit condition? – and you know you’ll lose them eventually…
Oh, you can still drop it low, my friend. The twenty year olds have nothing on you – until the day that dropping it low causes a twinge that you have a hard time getting back up from, so you sort of slide into what you hope is a cool-looking dance move, and then, oh, you’re just too hot to keep dancing. Hot flashes have descended (ascended?), and it’s only 11:30, still another hour & a half before you can go home with a modicum of youthful dignity.
The girls want to do another shot? Ha, ha. OK, sure. Let’s drink to partying forever – hell, yeah! – oops – mine spilled, ha, ha. Oh, well, that’s fine. I had a shot while y’all were dancin’, and I’m feelin’ fine! Wooo, hooo! Because, if I had had another shot, my whole day would have been ruined, and I know I’m not going to sleep much anyway, because – idk – thanks Obama?
I feel like the chaperone more and more, and I’ve probably been looked at like one for far longer than I realized. This isn’t about them, anyway. They have their own shit to contend with – their young shit, which I am honestly grateful to not be in the midst of anymore – but here I am with a new set of sucky life issues to navigate.
I don’t want to be old or get old, but the only way to prevent it is to die, and I’m not ready for that yet either.
Whatever ‘god’ worked this design out is an idiot. Hopefully he was fired and a woman was put on the job so the men can start evolving with all the hell we’ve had to endure, oh, sorry, continue to endure.
I do all the things that I can afford to not age. If it weren’t a psychosis, there wouldn’t be a thousand products on the market promising to keep or make us younger. I really don’t think they made all those anti-aging formulas just for me. Those companies know I’m broke.
Stepping out onto the front porch, I visualize Marie sitting on the old wood-slatted metal glider.
She came back East to see some family, and help her brother struggling with issues Marie had dealt with before. I had moved in with her and her husband in California when my son was a toddler, spending two years in San Diego, and when I knew I couldn’t make it out there, I came home to Massachusetts, where I’ve been ever since.
Marie spent an overnight with me up here – us falling into the easy friendship we’ve had since the fifth grade – but I also saw us with fresh eyes too. She and I went through so much together, and we’ll always be soul-sisters, but I saw our differences, and somewhat prefer my idealized version of her.
Those differences haven’t ruined our bond, but I see how much I’ve changed from the inexperienced young woman I was to who I am now. It shouldn’t have affected me so much – it’s simply that we’ve matured differently, even if our essential selves are intact – but I felt a loss – of innocence perhaps? – of youth?
Maybe her presence emphasized time’s passage, and what we can never get back, or never attain, but also, that I like who I am, that I’m comfortable with my beliefs, or lack thereof, and mostly of where life has led me. I can’t do anything about what I didn’t accomplish; I can only do the best with whatever time I have left.
Remembering the sweetest times of our visit, driving to the old farmhouse where she lived when we first met, as well as the house I lived in by the railroad tracks, both laughing and tearing up as we pondered the past.
I didn’t know that my dearest memory would be of her sitting on the porch glider that bright summer morning, the humid air sticking exposed skin to the seat, us breathing in the heady scent of honeysuckle wafting on the scant breezes, saying how nice it was at the same time, with me winning the first to tap her arm and say ‘owe me a Coke’.
This life was always a hard sell. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, pretty much ever. I got in over my head from day one, and I’ve tried to sort it out ever since.
Does it matter if I’m angry, or sad, or disillusioned? I don’t know why I came with expectations. How did that happen? Was it television? Did I believe the fantasy family shows I saw were real?
I existed in my family – I endured. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Life was what it was. I didn’t know I had any other choice, and none was offered to me.
When my mother moved us to a commune/cult when I was ten, I thought that was the other choice. I thought my mother finally made the best decision for us – and maybe she did.
Or maybe she was another messed up person in this world who couldn’t do the right thing, and her children suffered for it, and blah, fucking, blah, right? There’s no redemption. There’s no ‘making up for it’. There’s nothing. We’re where we are.
The world says, ‘what are you going to do now?’. The world is only curious if it’s interesting or somehow commendable.
I love prevailing stories. I want people to win, to better their circumstances, to get revenge, and if they can’t get direct revenge, to come out better in the end. I want the assholes to suffer. I want them to hurt. I am so not compassionate toward those undeserving.
I saw the guy who molested his eight year old foster daughter – the girl who moved to his & his wife’s house to flee another predator. I wanted to hurt him. Several years have gone by & there is no difference in how I feel. No softening, no compassion. I want him to die. He is useless, and I have difficulty knowing he yet lives. He manages to fill his days instead of hanging himself, as he should. Maybe he doesn’t have to hang. He could shoot himself, or poison himself, or a myriad of ways to leave this world, and yet, he’s still here. I’m still here too. My molesters were never charged or payed for what they did either.
I’ve concluded that whatever ‘god’ exists does not concern itself with us. There might be some over-arching energy or force, but it cannot care about what happens here and affect it. Or, if it does, and chooses not to, I have no allegiance or fealty to such a being, force, presence.
My life is my own. I don’t commit my life to any person, place, or thing. No nouns own me.
I’m still reconciling this part of life, feeling like I never really lived the first half – that I was just shuffled through some cosmic crowd or queue – and the line finally thinned enough for me to get up front, but I missed so much I’m craning my neck trying to see it all before it’s forever lost and the only way I could see it is to do it all again, but not only is my ticket one-way, one show only, I might not get a better perspective anyway.
This part of the ride is fine. There is plenty to see and do, even though I’ve been standing so long my legs and my back hurt, along with my neck from the aforementioned craning.
I’m remembering how, The Velveteen Rabbit, made me cry every time I read this excerpt where Rabbit asks the Skin Horse if becoming real hurts, and how it happens:
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
THE Velveteen Rabbit OR HOW TOYS BECOME REAL, by Margery Williams
Illustrations by William Nicholson DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC. Garden City, New York
This generation, and all after it, shall grow, and hopefully become wise. I dreaded becoming like the Skin Horse when I was younger because I saw how elders were treated – either infantilized, ignored, or worse – and I want to stay relevant and valued.
I know it’s up to me to demand dignified treatment as I grow old, to continue to take up space, and value myself, but some days are easier than others.
I grieve in the morning, before I’m fully awake, the weight of things done and undone open to attack.
I’m as undressed in my psyche as I am on my body, and it takes my beginning routine to shake it off.
Make the bed, start coffee – unsettling thoughts crowd my mind while thinking about the day ahead.
Dreams can be the impetus for the unwelcome feelings as I recall specters of children I might have had, old friends and new, and a parade of strangers helping or hurting.
I had a baby in last night’s dream. She was beautiful, but I couldn’t get to her, I had so much else to do in preparation.
My purpose is the baby, I think, dying from neglect, while I’m desperate to get to her. Perhaps she is my core self, the unblemished bit of me needing attention.
The dream doesn’t account for the weight I’m shouldering, and then I remembered how I shared some of my story to help an interviewer understand the needs of those abused, how we pay even in the telling, but how necessary the sharing is for change and healing.
I was reading lists of things to teach your children before it’s too late on my news feed.
To quote former Texas Governor, Rick Perry: ‘oops’.
I didn’t teach you about money very well. You need to pay your rent, and your bills, and your student loan, and get food, for godssake! Oh, for all that, you need to budget. Don’t know what that is? I didn’t either, yet somehow, we both lived. Yeah, I have about $8,000 in credit debt, but they’re the ones who gave me the cards! Also, my debt is down from $15,000, and if I helped you with math, you’ll know I’ve paid down nearly half!
They charge you to keep that pretend money – often a lot! – especially if your credit rating sucks, which mine did. Because I managed to pay back nearly half, I have better credit now – will they ever learn?
You really shouldn’t eat all the crap I fed you until I found out that it was crap I was feeding you. McDonald’s didn’t get rich off us, but we loved their french fries, and sadly, the proof is still in our arteries. I’m sorry!
Sugar isn’t your friend, fat isn’t either – unless it’s good fat, and then – not too much, OK?
Are you exercising? Yes, I made you go out and play – holy crap – I managed to do something right – but are you keeping your muscles and bones strong and safe?
I was a helicopter parent, or maybe a light experimental craft, because I hovered, but not to the extent I’ve read about some parents – sheesh! I can at least feel good about that while I’m wringing my hands over what I failed to teach you.
Teachable moments. I missed so many. Again, sorry. I was winging it. I did have positive reinforcement skills – telling you to use an inside voice, use your walking feet, and gave you choices – even if it was a choice between two shitty options.
Also, I didn’t swear much when I was raising you, and that was a huge accomplishment, believe me. I fucking swear all the fucking time now, and before I had you. I was trying to teach you, and myself, that swearing isn’t necessary, it’s just fun.
I wouldn’t, however, swear when talking to your boss, or anybody who might ever possibly have power over you.
People suck, and life isn’t fair. Did I tell you that enough? There are many good people too, they’re just harder to spot, and are suffering from being dumped on by all the jerks. Be nice to them.
Remember this mis-attributed Mark Twain quote:
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
There are so many things I forgot to teach you, but thankfully, you’re smarter than me, so you’ll figure it all out before you have children – if you have children – which I recommend and I don’t recommend.
If you know that I love you, that you conquered my selfishness, that you made me a better person, that I always wish the best for you – wish for stamina to withstand all the challenges you’ll face, keeping your humor, your hope, and your humanity intact, then I’ll believe I’ve done a good enough job.