Everything is going to be okay. It has to be, right? But to be honest with ourselves, we are never really sure. That’s where hope and faith are supposed to step in. They are the light in the darkness of our reality. They are the escape when we are trapped in our present tense. They are the keys that unlock our destiny. They can be the wind that slams the door shut on the past we are running from. Hold hope in one hand and faith in the other and you’ve got your entire world in the palm of your hands. You can do anything, be anything.
When you want something to happen, something to be the case, when you have trust that certain things you desire are going to happen, that’s hope. When you hold fast to your beliefs, not in the sense of religion, but when you maintain complete trust and confidence in someone or something, that’s faith. People get into serious trouble when they lose hope, when they lose faith. Especially when you lose it in yourself. It means there’s nothing left to hold onto anymore. If you can’t imagine your future, you let go of your present. Then you slip slowly into madness.
I’ve been there.
I’ve fallen into the void.
I’ve felt the nothing.
It’s not an easy place to be nor is it an easy place to escape from.
A certain kind of terror lives there.
All the monsters from my childhood collide with the monsters of my adulthood.
They reach their claws into my skull and start poking around.
A twist here, a tug there.
Fucking shit up.
Just because they can.
There are times when you have no idea you’re losing your hope, losing faith. They are the best times. Ignorance is bliss. The worst is when you feel them slipping through your fingers, a slow painful process, starving the life out of you. You scramble to maintain, to hold on, to think happy thoughts, to find the light – but you can’t. The monsters have stolen your flashlight, your light bulbs, your candles and your matches. You’re fumbling in the dark, in a familiar place, but still can’t find your way. As I said, it’s like madness.
Being a woman who has read a multitude of self-help books, inspirational reads, motivational works and those how-to-live-on-next-to-nothing survival manuals, I walked away with a few common threads. There is this possibility that you have the power to manifest things just by thinking them. You’ve heard of some of these I’m sure:
I do believe in all of this. And that’s what makes it so much harder to be consciously aware that I’m losing my positive self, one grain of sand at a time, until there is nothing left, until I’m staring down the barrel of chaos. Any happy thoughts are gunned down, with a sniper rifle, quick and at a distance, before they ever have a chance to reach me.
So my question is, how do I stop my life plane from crashing? Especially when hope and faith are the wings I need to fly. It seems I can’t go anywhere but down so I start to embrace for the impact. Unless, that is, I can pick myself back up. Keep the flight, keep the course.
How do I stop the crashing?
The trick to all of this is strength of the mind. To me, it’s one of the hardest things to develop. Go to the gym several times a week and after a while, your body morphs into a machine. But to make a beast out of your mind? That, my friends, is an incredible feat. Imagine it’s like how diamonds are made. Not impossible, no, but it requires certain methods. The power of positive thought is a diamond-forming process, it needs a whole lot of time and extreme pressure to create it.
If you think positive, it can change your entire outlook on life. If you have a goodness about you, you treat others fair and kindly, you work hard, you keep yourself honest and you do right with the world, the cosmic laws should attract good things to you. Or so they say. Beyond that, you can’t just sit on your ass waiting to reap those benefits, you’ve got to get out there and grab what’s yours for the taking. Build your own destiny.
The trouble with believing something like that is that sometimes it seems the odds are never in your favor no matter what you do. For every mountain you climb, there’s another one waiting for you right after it. It’s even higher and it’s way more menacing. You’re a good person, at least you think you are, but bad things always happen. Is there such a thing as luck? Good or bad? How about fate? Are we fated?
Bruce Lee once said, “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” This is the quote I hold on to the dearest. In other words it tells me, don’t be a victim. Don’t be a victim to your circumstances and don’t play a victim by allowing your frail mind to make itself weaker and succumb to your own personal tragedies. A tragedy to you might not be the same for another. Though some of our circumstances are beyond our control, like the lives we are born into (fortunate or not), we all have the same amount of time in each day. Only we can control the thoughts that run through our mind. Only we can choose what to do with those hours and how to feel about what we’re doing in them. This remains true even if when we can’t control whatever else is left to circumstance. We have the ability to change our stars and align with a new universe – – if we want to, if we have the courage to.
This can only begin by forging an inner strength that outweighs the weight of your world.
It’s not impossible.
Your mind has the ability to create diamonds out of your darkness.
It would not be possible if your life didn’t bring the heat, provide the pressure, give you the time.
Your mind is a diamond in the rough, forged from the hell you have to go through.
With time comes strength, metamorphosis, beauty.
You are built from the pressure your life has given you.
My heart is a prison. I’m trapped inside this beating fortress of muscle and blood. I see things that aren’t really there. I believe things that aren’t really true. I turn reality into imaginary. Delusional. All is lost in a single beat. There’s a hole in the wall, a chamber malfunction. Bad blood mixes with good. Atrial Septal Defect. Ebstein’s Anomaly.
I swear it’s defected.
The doctor tell me it’s normal.
Well fuck you Dr. Know Nothing because my heart has caused more problems in my life than any other organ I have. Sure girl, consciously kill your liver (what has it ever done to you?!) and just let your heart go on shit storming your life up.
Give me a transplant please. I want a black heart, one that doesn’t feel. I want one with a faulty lock, with a crooked hinge, an uneven seal, whatever the damage might be that allows me to escape from it. I don’t want to be trapped inside the one I was born with anymore.
I used to watch The Vampire Diaries. Envious of the characters Damon and Stefan and their ability to turn their feelings off, shut them down, forget they ever had them at all. Emotionless vampires meandering through immortal life without a care in the world. The inability to feel anything on purpose and at will – – now that would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Running through a field of wild flowers, spinning in circles, in an obnoxious girly-girl dress screaming, “look at all the fucks I give!!!!” And there would be none. For real. I wouldn’t have to fake it, I could literally stop feeling. It would be glorious.
An obscene level of familial dysfunction – – as if it is seven of the most dramatic soap operas wrapped into one family… don’t care. A detached lover? Don’t care. Drowning in bills? Still don’t care. Ramen Noodles for lunch every day for the last three weeks when you’re closing in on 30 years old? So what? Chemical plastic shaped like pasta all day ‘errrrday bitch. Not a worry in the world that these noodles are causing a slow gastric death seeping toxic waste into my mucous membranes and the fact that every package could outlive a nuclear blast.
Emotions can’t touch me.
I feel everything.
There is no emergency shut off valve.
But a girl can dream.
I bear the Zodiac sign of the crab. This makes me an internal emotional roller coaster. Crabs feel EVERYTHING. Even other people’s emotions. Many Cancers are unable to distinguish the difference between their feelings and those they sense in others. I know I can’t. It’s overwhelming sometimes. It can be energy zapping. As if your emotions and my emotions formed a giant octopus that attached itself to my face. Tentacles smothering, airways constricting, a strange slurping sound, sucker cups sucking – – the life right out of me.
They say we Cancers are tender at heart, family oriented, we consider our homes to be our retreat: we need order and calmness to reign there so we can recharge after a hectic day, we’re home bodies, kind, intuitive, dependable, action taking, persistent, artistic, creative and excellent workers and providers. But we’re also fearful of rejection, resentful, unforgiving, and angry.
It’s all true.
All this Zodiac mumbo-jumbo brings me to this ::
Recently, on 01/09/2015, Lindsay Holmes posted an article in The Huffington Post called 6 Toxic People Who May Be Sabotaging Your Happiness. Number five? The person/people who USE you.
Holmes writes, “We don’t have room in our lives for people who take advantage of us. Helping each other is one thing, but if the favors are always one-sided, it might be time to address the situation.”
If you’ve read the above, you could see how easily a crab might be used. I try to be kind. Always. There’s a difference between being nice and being kind. I’m not normally nice per say. I could be a bitch. But damn it, I am kind. I will offer a helping hand to those in need, strangers, co-workers, friends, practically anyone, doesn’t matter who.
I try to be dependable. I will come through for you if you need me. I never go back on my word unless some really crazy shit happens to derail my promise. Whether it’s love, work, help, advice or even money… though I usually end up regretting this one since I honestly don’t a pot to piss in, but still, I find myself giving away what I don’t have, because you need it, because you need me.
Action taker. Yes I am. I am always ready to spring into action. If I get a plan, idea, notion, anything in my head, I’m quick to dive right into it. And I’m persistent as fuck. I never give up. But sometimes, that’s not always a good thing. At least not in this case. I haven’t given up on all of you yet.
When it comes to my family, they’re repeat offenders, charged with using me time and time again. And every single time, there I am:: listening, offering, listening, giving, listening, driving, listening, donating, listening, believing. And with each time – the lies, the manipulation, the bullshit, the asking, the taking, the draining… it cuts a little deeper and soon the wounds won’t close anymore. When is the end? When will it stop? I’m giving so much of myself sometimes that I can’t get back to the me I was before.
I become bitter. Resentful. Angry.
The crab in me wants to sharpen my pincers and take off a toe or two, maybe some fingers, maybe more. You take my soul, I start taking your extremities.
Harboring anger and bitterness morphs you into a tea pot ready to blow, whistling your resentments and spraying your scalding water on the innocent. It contradicts all the good traits I have. And instead of making me upset, knowing this only makes me angrier.
You know I’d believe you if one more time you told me you loved me and were proud of me. Asking me “how I am doing” like you mean it. Feed me just enough bullshit to lay your trap. And I’ll walk right into it. Again and again. A leaf covered spear pit. It’s not in my nature to ignore you if need my help. It’s not in my nature to back down. It’s not in my nature to not always seek the good in people, the good in you.
But what if there isn’t any good?
Any good at all.
Not an ounce, not a sprinkle, not a pinch.
Psycho narcissistic sociopath.
You depend on my dependability.
You drink my kindness until you are drunk off of it.
You build the dollhouse exterior to conceal your house of horrors.
You invite me in.
I’m tangled in the web of your puppet strings.
I drank your fucking Koolaid.
Might as well pour me a double.
Cyanide.. antifreeze.. Draino, whatever.
Pick your poison.
Family is family. It’s hard to cut the ties that bind. Blood is thicker than water. Supposedly. I don’t know which time will be the time I say enough is enough, but I hope it comes soon.
But I hope there never comes the time when I learn to shut down my emotions, to stop my heart. To let the anger blacken it until it’s charred and merciless. Then my dedication, my action taking, my creativity and my persistence might mean something different entirely to you. I’ll have an inside that mirrors your own. But I guarantee it’ll be uglier.
Rarely embraced, forever feared – – by most.
CHANGE – as defined by Webster : to become different
: to make (someone or something) different
: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem
: the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something
Wise words Mr. Cricket. And yes indeed, I have made a fool of myself. Not once, not twice, but many times. More times than I count on all of my fingers and all of my toes. People make mistakes. Lots of them. That’s human nature.You can’t dwell on the heavy of them all. Mistakes are meant to be made. Sometimes, it’s the only way we learn.
I try to stifle the feeling of regret when I think of my mistakes or any moments from my past where I have made a complete fool of myself. But I have a hard time forgiving and forgetting the mistakes I made when I recklessly ignored my conscience. My gut. You know, that tug you get in the pit of your stomach. The infamous internal warning system. It manifests itself for a reason.
I’ve ignored it only a select few times in my life. Every single one of those times my conscience was right and I was wrong. There was one time in particular where I ignored my inner voice – that decision almost cost me my life. My conscience was trying to tell me something. I ignored it. Fool. Doing so ended up stripping away years from my existence. Years I can never get back. But hey, I’m here and I’m okay so it’s neither here nor there. I’ll save the details for another blog post. But just the thought that if I only had listened, if only… maybe nothing would be different, maybe everything would. So I try not to think about it at all.
The best advice… words that may help you live without regret.. listen to your gut. It doesn’t lie. So when you feel it, stop what you’re about to do or not do, and really think before you act. If you can’t visualize your conscience, picture a cartoon cricket named Jiminey who is ready to poke out your eyeballs with his cricket-sized umbrella if you don’t listen to him. Do it. He obviously knows his shit.
With that, I move on to Simba and Rafiki. Most of my past hurt. For years, I let it affect me in a negative way emotionally, physically, mentally. Though I didn’t run from it, I drowned in it. For me, it was the same thing. It took years to understand what this creepy Baboon with the acid trip voice gift wrapped us all in two short sentences. A movie I’ve literally seen over 100 times as a child and as an adult. Go figure.
I should of paid more attention to you Rafiki. But you were ugly and weird. I preferred young Simba over you. I’m sorry. So adult Simba reasons that you can’t go back in time and change the past. So stop worrying about it. It’s over. There’s nothing you can do except move forward and like Rafiki tells Simba, learn from it. Live in the present so that you truly live, not just exist in this life, right here, right now. Time stops for no one. You have a choice what you spend yours on.
Make it count.
The past can destroy you. It can eat you alive and then swallow your carcass whole as you idiotically volunteer to lay yourself out in the blistering sun to rot – – only to become a vulture’s next meal. Don’t be a carcass.
But be the adult version of Simba after he has his heart to heart chat with Rafiki.
Hakuna Matata bitches.
As much as you can.
Timothy, you’re a genius. I can say that now. A few years ago, maybe not. Because sure, when you’re in the depths of hell, right smack in the middle of your misery being held down by those things, there may not be room for agreeing with tiny whisker-faced Timmy. At my worst, those “things” that were holding me down, had practically strapped and chained me within my own personal prison.
It was those “things” that made me want to punch Timothy in his tiny mouse dick, shove that positive attitude straight down his cheese hole until he choked on his sunshine words while I screamed “fuck you, you little rodent shit bag!”
But he’s right.
I know he’s right.
You know he’s right.
Whether we want to admit it or not.
Case in point: I used to resent the way I felt I was “forced” to live my life because of life circumstances that were beyond my control. Poor because my parents divorced, poor because my mother didn’t care to have a daughter anymore, poor because my father had a job that left him broke and on the road the majority of the time, blah blah blah. I’m not going to have a bitch fest about my life. That isn’t the point. The point is that this all meant that I had to fend for myself financially with no parental cushion when times got tough, even when I was a teenager. It never got easier. I was never financially stable. Life always seemed to be a struggle. I worked more than I ever enjoyed life. It’s still that way.
But I got by.
I’m still getting by.
You will get by too.
These “things” that held up my life, that held me back, held me down, held me under, made me different, made life impossible at times, really did lift me up in the end.
These “things” I once resented taught me patience, humility, and strength. They taught me independence. Forgiveness. They taught me to look at adversity differently, to find my inner roar and build my strength from obstacles, from the challenges. I have so much life left to live and it’s up to me to do what I can to not let anything hold me down – – not finances, not relationships, not strangers, not anyone. Everything I have I appreciate because odds are, it meant my losing blood, sweat and tears to obtain it. If I want something badly enough, not having a trust fund isn’t going to stop me. A trust fund may make it easier, but that’s about it. It’s my birthright to obtain it if I work hard enough. And damn it, I will.
I don’t think about the people that have life easier than me anymore. I don’t think about them at all. They are them and I am me. That is their life and this is mine.
I am content as long as I am doing to best I can.
Take your hardships and use them as fuel. Fuel to light the fire that heats the air underneath the balloon and the basket that will take you up and away from those “things,” lifting you, carrying you high above, redefining the angles and perspectives at which you view your life.
This all stemming from the wise words of a tiny mouse. An animal smaller than most, yet his words carry the strength of the heaviest of creatures that inhabit this Earth.
You think things are going to be the end of the world when they happen. Like the loss of a job or a relationship ending or even something worse. They aren’t. Unless it’s death. That might be the end of the world for you or for someone else or both. But even then, unless you are the one who has died, you have the ability to continue on. Like Bambi’s mother said, even though it’s not what was there before or even who was there before, something new and wonderful can come into your life just the same. Maybe not right away, but it will. You never know what could happen. That’s the whole point.
Bambi’s mother reminds us that we are so much more than we think we can endure. That’s the beauty of the human spirit. We have such courage and strength living within us that makes us capable of conquering things that seem impossible.
Even if people tell you, even if the voice inside your head tells you “you’re worthless, you’re weak, YOU ARE NOTHING.” Or, “you can’t do this, you’ll never get over this, you won’t make it.” They are liars. All of them. Even your inner voice is a liar. You are a beautiful creature with the infinite ability to survive loss, grief and suffering. You are so much more than what you believe.
If something falls away in your life by your choice or by divine will, let it.
And then please, make room for something new to grow in its place.
I repeat it Piglet.
Like a mantra.
Like a chant.
As often as I can.
I am not afraid.
I am not afraid.
I am not afraid.
I would know. I used to be one. I could bullshit my way out of anything. I could morph into anyone you wanted me to be other than myself. Along with the lies came cheating, deception, manipulation and multiple personalities on any given day.
I had lies upon lies, excuses upon excuses, built high like tidal waves – top them off with a frothy crest of fake apologies, then crash them into anyone and everyone around me. I was the choppy, rough ocean waters in a bullshit storm. Eventually all the lies caught up to me, crushing me under their weight, a violent tsunami, sucking me into my own undercurrent of forgery and fictional existence.
See, I come from a long line of liars. That’s why it came so natural to me, it’s all I knew. I learned from the best. Lying to others but mostly to themselves, living their days with a constant denial of reality because their truths were unapproachable, downright frightening. The truth was frightening for me too.
Being honest with yourself means looking in the mirror to see – REALLY SEE – who you are and what kind of person you have become. Who wants to do that when you have become someone you hate or someone you swore you’d never be?
Like a liar. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A cheater. A drug addict. An alcoholic. A horrible mother. An insecure scaredy cat. A passive man who lost his set of balls. An out of control spender. A vengeful psycho. A self-loathing asshole. A body ravaged by a debilitating physical or mental illness. An emotional wreck. A partner who stays in a toxic relationship. A friend among bad company or maybe you’re the bad company for your friends. A significant other who turns a blind eye to infidelity. A person who cuts others down to make themselves feel better. A fake. An abuser. A miserable fuck who spreads more misery. A weakling. An arrogant show off. A nobody. A freak. A nerd. A coward. A lazy load. A closet full of skeletons. A past riddled with ghosts. A human stain. A family dysfunction. Or simply… just.. you. NORMAL, everyday, YOU.
Lies so we don’t see and they don’t see, so nobody sees… what’s underneath the facade. We see what we want to see. They see what they want to see. We let them see what we want them to see. The only thing that really ever matters though is the truth of it all. The truth you know is real. Your honest self. Your real life.
The truth means you have to take ownership. The truth means accepting things you think will destroy you, things you know might destroy others. Why face what you can avoid? It’s easier to sleep in a bed of lies than on an uncomfortable, lumpy couch with your truth. Sometimes, lies are easier to live with. Justify the intentional or unintentional things you do to hurt other people, make excuses for you selfishness or someone else’s, morph your tragedies into a reason to walk down a path of cold hearts and black souls where the bad luck never ends and you’re destined for a life less fortunate.
Lie once, lie twice, then lie some more. Each time, it only gets easier until it’s all you do, until it’s who you are. We lie because we’re afraid, because we fucked up, because we’re fuck ups, because we can, because we’re human. And each fib that survives makes the next one to come out of your mouth or into your mind that much easier until it’s second nature to spew bullshit like lava, hot and dangerous.
The truth about your life and the people in it, the truth about your actions, the truth about your feelings, your mistakes, your misfortunes, your dreams, your talents, your career, your blessings, your friends, your family, your lover, where you came from, where you’re going – – your past, your present, your future. EVERYTHING.
It’s better to start choking, right now, then rush to go give yourself the Heimlich maneuver by slamming your stomach into a table top, fall to the floor until you catch your breath again, dust that shit off, chug a big glass of ACCEPTANCE, get up, walk away and keep on keeping on.
Lying is so easy. Lie to others and they won’t hate you, they won’t leave you, they won’t get hurt, they won’t think you’re weird, they won’t judge you… right? WRONG. Some people won’t like you. Some people will leave. Sometimes you’ll do the leaving. You can still hurt people. People will hurt you. You might just be weird – – but who fucking cares?
Lie to yourself and it’s easier to accept the things you don’t like about your life or the people in it, what you were born into, who and what your family is, what you did or didn’t do because of this or that. It’s E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G. Instead, get your hands dirty with your truth. Own it – – all of it. Change what you need to, what you want to, what you must. Or, grant yourself the capability to accept the things you cannot change and then endure them. Embrace them even.
Muddying the truth with lies, infinitesimal or catastrophic, only shelters you from the reality of all that is you and all that is your life. But lying won’t save you. It’s like a dead body that should have never washed ashore. The killer swore if he added enough weight, the body would sink to the bottom of the lake for all eternity. But you need a lot more weight than you think to bury something so heavy. And the lies can add up to something no amount of concrete mass could ever keep hidden. The truth always surfaces, one way or another.
Then, what felt like a day, but was more like a span of several years, I stopped lying so much, especially to myself. I started to resent the fact that I could look at me and tell my reflection something completely different than my reality and believe it. Really and truly. I kept denying myself the possibility to own my truth and accept it.
For so long, I relied heavily on the fact that my words and thoughts had the power to bend the truth to make people believe what I wanted them to believe and see what I wanted them to see. What I wanted myself to believe and to see. Because in all seriousness, my actual truth, well, sucks (most of the time anyways). But the fact is, it’s MY truth. No one else’s. It only matters to me and to those who care about me. And if they care, they stick around, despite my truth. I made it a point to try to be as honest as I could with myself and with others. And it had awesome results.
I can and do create change in my life.
Change when I need it, when I want it, when I deserve it.
I have the ability to accept the things I cannot change.
Accept my past, accept my mistakes, accept people for who they are.
I can let go of toxic people.
I can be by myself and not feel lonely or afraid.
I do not need to pretend to be someone I’m not.
I can be myself.
And people still like me.
I like me.
In fact, I like me more.
And if you don’t like me, oh well, that’s okay too.
I can speak honestly without fear or hesitation.
Sometimes the truth that comes out hurts..
but one simple truth is appreciated and respected more than a mountain of lies.
I let go of my past.
I try to live in the present.
I hope for the future.
I AM ME AND I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK.
I accept who I am, who I was, and who I want to be.
I’m no longer bound by the lies that kept me a prisoner, chained to my guilt, regret, resentment, anger and a whole shitload of other shitty feelings. I am free to let go of it all if I choose. Change is hard. Acceptance is even harder. But it’s worth the fight.
I have been waiting to see Wild, the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best selling memoir. I have been waiting for months. I got to see it on Saturday. I knew it was going to be incredible. I still love the book more, but the movie portrayed every word, every feeling, every tragic and triumphant moment in Strayed’s life with accuracy and grace. Reese Witherspoon was brilliant.
But I walked out of the theater feeling something I didn’t see coming.
Because I’m still waiting for the ball to drop, every second of every minute of every hour of every day until weeks pass… then months… then years. I feel stranded on a island shaped like a plateau. I can’t go up and I can’t go down. I can’t go anywhere. I’m just stuck. I’m waiting for my AHA! moment, wishing it would whack me upside the head like a frying pan square to the face.
In the past, I thought slipping down into the rock bottom abyss was the worst it could get. Wrong. Not for me. It’s the standing still that kills. I know I don’t want to go back but I don’t know how to move forward. Watching Wild reminded me of the day I finished Strayed’s memoir for the first time. Back then, it gave me hope. Hope that I too could have a life altering experience that would propel me into the future, leaving all the dirt and the hate behind me.
I’m fucking pissed at myself and I have every right to be.
I’m not saying that I or anyone else needs to follow in Strayed’s footsteps and walk the PCT to find herself/himself and to find forgiveness. Not everyone has to spend months alone in the wilderness to come to terms with their life, their past, their mistakes, and their grief. But it is pretty bad ass isn’t it? Her story isn’t meant to make people feel small or incomparable. It’s meant to show what it took for her to heal in her own way. It was something she needed to do. And just the simple fact that it’s possible, provides hope for those still looking to get there.
I’m still looking to get there. I’m still trying to find my “Wild” experience.
But in order to do that, I have to let go.
So I’m on stranded this plateau. There are no valleys. There are no mountains. Okay. So what? Plateaus have edges. And it’s time to step to the edge, fling my arms out to my sides and dive off.
It’s the fear of flying without a security net. It’s the fear of substantial change. It’s the fear that the impossible can never be possible. That’s why so many people stay exactly where they are: in a job that they loathe, in relationships that lack love, support and communication, in a town that murders their soul, in miserable company of so-called friends, in a life that’s not really lived.
I’m sad because right now I am a coward.
I’m sad because I keep making excuses.
I’m sad because I identify with that girl who hiked her way back to life in 1995.
I was 10 years old then.
I’m sad because I know I have the strength in me. We all do. The lingering question is what am I waiting for? The frying pan to the face? Time stops for no one unless you’re dead. I’m not dead, but I might as well be.
People have the ability to accomplish amazing things. I want to be one of those people. As long as it’s amazing to me, I honestly don’t give a fuck what other people think. It took Strayed hiking the PCT. Maybe for me it’s something as small as taking the time to write every single day because it’s what I love most. Maybe it’s honing in my photography skills. Maybe it’s morphing both from separate hobbies to a profession. Maybe it’s moving clear across the country. Maybe it’s quitting my job and spending a year traveling. Whatever it is, at least I’m doing SOMETHING. A baby step or a giant leap, at least I’d be moving forward.
My mind makes up for what my body fails to do. It’s racing miles a minute.
It gushes philosophical questions that make my brain swell. Universe shit.
Who am I? How do I do this? When and What? Fuck.
These questions drown my heart.
I better get myself a tourniquet.
Tie it right, tie it tight.
Stop the bleeding.
On a day meant to honor all mothers and the special bond they create with their offspring, I can’t partake in the celebration. Instead, it’s just another day spent waiting. For many reasons, some I know, some I will never know, my mother has been a nonexistent entity in my life. The good and loving memories I have of her and of us, ceased twenty some years ago.
I have a picture though. It captures one memory, frozen in time, that bears witness to a moment we were together and she and I were happy. There was love there. I can see it in her eyes as she looks at me and it radiates from my smile.
We’re both standing in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. I’m elbow deep in ground beef and seasonings. She is teaching me to make meatballs, one of her own recipes. I’m wearing a white apron with a blue shirt. My hair was jet black then, shining like raven feathers. My smile is huge, displaying an array of mismatched teeth. I’m standing on a little wooden stool so that I’m tall enough to reach the counter. My mother is looking down at me, her hands covered in ground beef too. She’s smiling down at me.
This is what I remember.
We had food and a love for cooking. She read me Stephen King books at night even though I was too young for them. She taught me things about nature, about wolves, about Native Americans. She would show me things about crystals and stones, colors of candles and their meanings, of animals and their strengths, and celebrations different from the ones we recognized as Catholics. I was able to donate money every year to adopt a wolf to help their cause. I couldn’t wait to get the post card in the mail showing which wolf was chosen for us to sponsor. She traveled across the state to take me to Pow Wows. She knew how much I wanted to learn and to see about Native American culture first hand. She created and designed elaborate Halloween costumes because it was our favorite holiday. She would wake me up in the middle of the night if a thunder storm came rolling in. She’d wrap us both in a blanket and we’d sit on the porch to watch the lightning show.
I can’t tell you the day where it all disappeared. I don’t know when exactly. Addiction has a funny way of destroying things that once were great. It breaks down bonds like a chemical reaction. The makeup of a person: their physical being, the psychological state, their emotional response, it decomposes like a body until the person that once was, becomes unrecognizable.
It used to be a day filled with anger and resentment.
A day of longing for something that once was but might never be again.
The mourning of a mother still roaming this Earth.
A heartbreak for those daughters and sons who would give anything for just one more day with their mother when mine is alive but gone at the same time.
As you grow older, life happens. You learn a thing or two. One of those things is forgiveness. The other is truth. One not more important than the other.
John Marshall III writes in The Lakota Way, “Sometimes truth is like the wind. You can’t see it, but you can see the effect it has.”
He also said, “Truth consists of two parts: that which is given and that which is accepted. The truth is sometimes painful, but without it, there is only illusion.”
I have tried every which way to excuse, explain, justify, forget, accept, resolve, and hide my mother’s actions. To pretend to the outside world that our relationship was just like any other. I would drive myself insane trying to figure out what I could do to make her want to be a part of my life, desperate to decode exactly where I went wrong. What did I do? How can I fix it? I hate her. I hate myself. I spend countless days confused and broken down.
In attempts to try anything to make it work, I behaved in ways that were nothing more than a forced and unauthentic version of the mother-daughter dynamic that should happen naturally. Saying things I thought she wanted to hear. Doing things I thought would keep her coming back to me. Getting only glimpses of her, pieces of her, lingering long enough to keep me holding on for dear life only to have her cut the rope that tied us together, sudden and abrupt. She’d disappear again and I’d fall into the nothing.
It was a mockery.
It was a fantasy.
I was only creating my illusion, void of any truth.
To move on, one must accept the truth. It is the only way to begin walking the path of forgiveness and enlightenment. The truth is, my mother stopped mothering long ago. She does not wish to know me, the real me, because she is afraid. I am the carrier of truth. She holds tight to the illusion. It is what keeps her safe. It is what numbs the pain. If she ever acknowledged the truth, it might crush her in ways unimaginable. She cannot fathom the thought that I accept the truth and with it, forgiveness. I forgive you mom. Whether it was circumstances beyond your control, or those you had all control over, or even an accumulation of the two, I still love you. I always have.
The truth doesn’t have to be damning. It can set you free. It allows you to accept that which was and move on to what could be. But your illusion keeps you trapped down in your rabbit hole. You are Alice stuck in a realm that doesn’t exist. You don’t want to wake up.
A long time ago, there was a mother who taught her daughter to make meatballs.
She had a light that shone brighter than the lightning forged in night skies.
She danced to Native American songs.
She protected her children like a wolf to her pups.
I am here waiting for you. I am always waiting.