Much of the content may be a bit dark, but it is not necessarily in chronological order. There are no dates, because I don't think it matters if I wrote it 3 years ago or yesterday. I decided to write for me and I know most of the time I feel like writing is when I have something I need to process or work through; this is really my only place to come to and release.

I am not miserable, I am just healing.

Mercy

On Feb 10th, my one and only grandpa passed away. On Feb 11th, my water broke and on Feb 13th, I brought my newest son into the world.

Sometimes, the universe doesn't care if we get a chance to catch our breath.

Today, my grandpa... the man that was there for me and my 
siblings (which were not his by blood), treated us as all equally his, and always loved each of us the same... the man that spoke to me about my dad when no one else would, and when my dad wasn't there to speak for himself... Today, he is being put to rest. And I will not be there.

Because the universe never gives me a chance to catch my breath.

I haven't said anything to most people about losing him, and even moreso I have failed to even talk about it within my own head and heart. I wanted my son to be born into as much good as I could muster up for him, so I tucked away the hurt and tears and loss. I stopped crying long before my crying was done, and I trucked on like I always do. Every  once in a while, I forget to forget, and the knowledge that I am losing both of my most important, and only surviving, grandparents at nearly the same time surges up like a tidal wave.

And I swallow it, and all of the life choking sea water that comes with it. No time for catching breaths.

My son is beautiful. And a little sick. I am the only one that can make him better right now, so every single doctor's appointment feels like a mixture of wanting him to get better and hoping I am not failing. And then I come home and feel like if I want to do this right, I have to fail at something else. Because I am mortal, and making my baby better means not getting sleep, being sore, and being stuck in one spot most of the time. I am human, and those things just don't coexist with also getting the house cleaned up, keeping up with the laundry, making sure my partner feels special, and taking care of myself. I don't even know what that last one looks like anymore.

Breathe.

I am sad... not because sometimes women get sad after they have babies, but because people get sad when they lose people, and when they are preparing to lose more people... I am sad because I cannot do all that I need to, when I need to, for everyone that I need to. I am sad that those close to me say they understand... but then act as if they understand nothing at all because they didn't realize it would be what they need/want from me that was going to suffer. They understood the words I was saying, but were not prepared to act as one does when they put themselves aside for someone else currently suffering.

Sometimes, holding your breath is easier than trying to catch it. So, you hold it and wait for the wave to pass.

On Feb 19th, my friend's son passed away from pediatric cancer. My heart is shattered for them. And somewhere, living in another box, is knowing that I could have been them. In that box lives relief and gratitude. And I feel guilty for having those feelings while they are going through hell. You can't really describe to someone else how much of a battle it is in your heart when you feel guilty for the times you did get to breathe. How suffocating it is to not even deserve the breaths you fought to take, let alone the ones you can't get a grasp on.

There is a laundry list, right now, of things weighing so heavily on me... from the fact that my oldest dog seems to be in  pain and I can't afford to do anything about it, to the uncertainty of my education/career, and everything in between.

But today...today I am missing my grandpa's funeral.


And I can't seem to breathe.

The Good Ones

My grandmother has always been unapologetically intelligent, the kind of funny that only comes from smarts, and the perfect amount of sarcastic bite behind her smile. She embodied all of the things that you will never find in someone that has become watered down and molded to fit.  I am sure, somewhere along her life, she managed to annoy or piss someone off, probably because they found themselves feeling inferior or insecure in some way but blaming it on her personality. And I imagine that she would have taken that as one takes a tiny bug bite on an otherwise beautiful day, because it would have been their problem if being around a strong and smart woman made them feel little. Don't get me wrong, my grandma was never belittling or obnoxious... never pretentious. But she has lived a lot of life with a lot of family and stories and lessons crammed into it, and coming out of that with wisdom and a wealth of knowledge, the kind that only comes from experiences, is nothing to be ashamed of or stifled. It is a badge. More than that, it is a quality and a treasure. Having both a life that is full and the ability to understand it all so well that you have a proverbial vault of knowledge, advice, and insight is what being rich is to me. So, if a few fell away along the way, it only means that the ones that were still around as she trucked on were the right ones. Those were the people that were worthy and deserving of her presence, and in turn, had equal bits of awesome they could share back to her.

My grandmother has always been strong, independent, and the rock that I compared myself to when I felt like something might be insurmountable. She raised 9 kids and none of them came out of it missing limbs, despite their own best efforts. She worked, she traveled, and she soaks up the world through an insatiable appetite for reading, trying new things, and talking to people about anything you can come up with. She is the woman that warned us never to put her in a home, and made damn sure it would never even be a consideration, because she just refused to get old. I am pretty sure she could still walk, kayak, hike, and read circles around me until very recently in our lifetime.

Her presence when I was a child changed the way that I perceived everything that would come at me through the rest of my life. She is the reason I read books instead of watching TV, or sleeping, even when kids my age were enamored with going to the beach and Ren and Stimpy cartoons. She is why I questioned things that those around me seemed to think I should be accepting as status quo. She is why I saw things for what they were, and why the experiences in my life are more than just tickers on a tape... why they are events that I took in, broke down, and took control over.  Grandma is why I always try to look beyond my own bubble, see how my actions are rippling, and try to understand the motives behind why someone else sent the ripples my way that they did.

It hadn't occurred to me until yesterday why I get so defensive when someone might suggest that I tone it down for the sake of those around me; those that might find my natural state a bit hard to stand up next to... or at times maybe even in the same room with. I thought that it came purely from the knowledge that I have gained throughout my life, via experience, that the only person that gets anything good out of me watering myself down is the other person, and that I actually come out of things feeling terrible and small and cramped... like I was somehow trying to fit myself into a box that was the wrong shape and 40 times too small. But as I looked at the pillar of a woman that I have known my whole life as someone that would live forever, and she was frail (well, as frail as that woman can appear to me anyway) but loved by the good kind of people... that is when once again, my grandma made me think beyond what I thought I knew. This time, she wasn't even trying!

I see so much of her in me, and they are the parts of me that I have always and will always be the utmost proud of. When you ask me for my qualities, the ones I name with a smile are all of the ones I gave above for all that my grandmother is. I do not want to be less of those things. I want to be strong versions of them. I want to know that whatever comes my way is ok, that I will take it in and learn from it, and that I will give it right back out onto the world. Unapologetically.

And if that leaves me with a few less warm bodies taking up the space around me as friends, then I will know that I only have the good ones left. I will cuss and tease and talk about things I know, and they will love me for it. I love people and I will always welcome connections with those open to the same. I will try things and go places; I will meet people.  And when I am still running circles around people half my age at 85 and 90 years old, and only the good ones are still there, I will know that I have been true to myself always. She taught me to value that, and I don't think she even knew she was doing it. My grandma is my Dagny Taggart in real life (though a good bit more cuddly than the character I relate her to), and I know that when she goes it will be the hardest thing I have had to deal with... not being able to reread that story and have her there again.

But I will truck on and be strong. It will suck but life will keep moving, and I will keep living undiluted.


My grandma taught me that. 



Keep Moving

Maybe it's about survival before it is about success. And maybe survival is to be celebrated rather than dismissed as the bare minimum.  It is a step,  not condemnation to the bottom.  The guilt of not being as successful as we want is so strong when we forget that surviving has been an immense and impressive achievement in and of itself.  

I survived shame. I survived neglect. I survived resentment, anger, envy, and alienation. I survived grooming and abuse, overwhelming pressure, and my siblings' pain which I melded into my own. Dismissal,  abandonment, and caustic manipulation....  Loss,  struggle  and a fight for my life both figuratively and literally... Heartbreak, broken trust, sacrifice, and loneliness. Betrayal... Confusion... I survived circumstance and fear. I survived the lies.  

And I survived finding the truth. The truth can be the single most terrifying thing you will ever make it through, but coming out on the other side of that is a success in immeasurable ways. 

I no longer fear and I no longer let the things that I dealt with decide my perception of my life. I can make a choice to smile and to grow. I can make a choice to take back and hold onto the real estate of my happiness; no squatters and no stopping to focus on the occasional thunderstorm. This is the beginning of my success, but first I had to survive... and surviving is a beautiful thing.
"Growing complacent often results in the undoing of that which we were so sure we had in our hands. We get lazy and forget that you don't have to throw something to break it...  sometimes all we have to do is drop it because we thought we no longer had to hold on."
~ M. Ross

Wash Away

I can't wash it away
What you did today
Flowing down the drain
my tears and my pain
But I am still dirty
It sticks to me
Never free
A filth you can't see
But I feel it still
Dislodging bits of will
I feel weak again
Sick and dizzy again
God get it off of me
I can't scrub it off of me
Please
I can't wash it away
What you did today

A Little At A Time

You cut at her
A little at a time
Small wounds
They will heal easily enough
A nick here
A slit there
With each tiny scar
Her skin grows thicker
Losing sensation
She feels rough

But you continue
To cut her
A little at a time
Scars form from scars
She is unrecognizable
Where is the sensitive angel?
What happened
To your soft beauty?
You emptied her
Killed her
A little at a time

You push her
Just a bit further each time
She is strong
Her will is good
A shove today
A nudge tomorrow
She plants her feet
Holds her ground
With each push
She grows more rigid

Fighting back
Trying to be steady
And you push her
A bit further each time
Until she is strong as stone
Cold as concrete
Walls don't feel
Stone can not touch, kiss, embrace
Eventually it all will crumble
The pieces will fall
A bit further each time

(2007)

The difference between loss and letting go.


One of my friends recently went through the death of a family member. She has been down that road more times than is fair, but even if that weren't the case, rare is it that words of any kind can bring any actual or real comfort to someone in her place. I would usually offer up my time for anything they need, but I make no mistake in thinking anything else I could say, clich├ęd or not, would somehow put them at ease.  I might get a chance, however, to offer up insight when it is the relationship with the person passing on that they struggle with. If anyone can relate to strained connections with family, it is me.


So, this time I had something I could say that might actually help or mean something, rather than coming off as parroted or insincere. The person she lost was not always a nice person; she was bossy and critical, and often generally unpleasant. The bond between the two was threadbare and haggard at best, despite whatever semblance of love remained within it. Much like me, my friend felt abandoned emotionally for a long time. Many of her relationships with her family were and are a story of push, pull, and release. I told her  "Folks with families like that, we end up kind of losing them over and over all of our lives, because hope gives way to reality, rinse repeat, over and over. Then you still have to deal with losing them literally, which means no more hope, even if that hope had widdled down to barely noticeable anyway."


Maybe that doesn't seem very comforting at all; if you haven't been part of the same type of dynamic, the sadness or darkness of such realizations and acceptance by those people who have would appear to add to the pain. But it is how we go from wandering in fog to seeing through it. What is revealed may be a path wrought with steep cliff-sides, quicksand pits, and tall mountains... but at least we can see to move forward, now. And you wouldn't believe how many of those obstacles we can overcome simply because they are all too familiar to us.


For my friend and I, life has been a constant loop of hope, pain, and moving on. For me, I would see some tiny sliver of emotion from my mother as a sign of life, a reason to believe that she could still be my mom.  Inevitably, she would prove once again how foolish that hope had been, and I would be left burned on top of old scars that had barely had time to heal.  I would have to go through all the emotions someone does when they are losing a mother, as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult... until I finally arrived at accepting the absence.  Of course, she was still physically there, but in situations like those the heart has a hard time telling the difference.


Sometimes I would get to know the peace of knowing where we stood for a long time, others would be short lived.  Then, like she knew no other way, she would let a glimmer of possibility shine through and the rollercoaster would begin again.


Maybe that is why I have no patience for relationships that feel like rollercoasters. I have been there, done that, got the damned t-shirt and the scars. Some people might be able to stomach a little bit of that non-sense, but I did this too much, and I understand all too well how selfish and ridiculous it is... how damaging, confusing, and devaluing it is.


So, for the majority of my life, I lived with having the mom I deserved to have ripped out of my dreams and the reality of the void in that space thrust into my face over and over. Eventually, you give the fuck up.  I thought I gave up every single one of those times, only to be shocked that there was anything left of me to put in the next time the loop came around. There was, and it was always more than I could afford.  I can't put a number on the rounds we made by the time I got to my release point. I would say that I was done putting my hand on that stupid stove and that I had been burned for the last time, but that was not the truth until I was in my early twenties. I meant it each time I said it. I wanted it to be truth. But I wasn't ready to make it truth until then.


When I was 22 years old, I let my mother, and all of the ideas I had about a life including a mom, go. I released it. I wasn't mad at it; it just didn't exist as part of me any longer.  Apathy and indifference might seem like the right words to describe it, but those are reactions or descriptors of  a lack of reaction, which implies that there is something to react to. Instead, I had finally stopped believing that thing existed at all, so I was free to go about my life as if it were never there... as if I never had a mom to lose.


Because I didn't.


Do I still feel let down that I was cheated out of that parent I should have had, that many of my friends had? Sure. But it is disappointment in the  absence of a figure and no longer attached to her.  I don't miss her, feel disappointed she is gone, or wish she would come around. I wouldn't trust her even if she tried. I don't care that she won't. I wouldn't acknowledge it as possible, because I simply know that she is not and cannot be my mom, and she never was.  She was a stranger that gave birth to me, lived in my home, and took no part in the role of mom in any kind of loving or caring context.


Unfortunately, my friend is still living in loops of hope, pain, and trying to walk away. Even though each cycle means the hope getting trampled is a little smaller or less significant, it is still there despite her best efforts to disconnect from it. No matter what truth she wants there to be, she hasn't stopped hoping the slivers of light might means sunshine is ahead. Each time the sliver gets smaller, but it is not gone. If you subscribe to the idealistic bullshit thrown around facebook and churches and inspirations posters, you would say holding out hope is a good thing. It is not. Not this time. It is emotional torture, and can be emotional suicide. Sometimes it is better to tell someone they can let go and still be right and good.


When you lose someone to death that you have been stuck in a loop with, it isn't like release. It isn't like letting go. I got the chance to choose to end my pain and rewrite my story without certain characters ongoing, but she had the chance to let go ripped from her hands... all while she was still hanging onto those slivers of light.


I am not sure if I could say if it is worse to lose a close and loving relative or one that you have had a rollercoaster relationship with. As harsh as it is, you could easily wander if the latter would be a relief, as the heartache could finally be done... but there is also the tragedy of trying to come to terms with the  idea that if sunshine had really been around the corner, it has been snatched away now. No more choices or possibilities. It is another beast to lose a loved one over and over in your life, with the last loss coming before you got the chance to give up.


The difference between loss and letting go is choice, and choice means all the difference in how we take our next steps, how we look back, and how we navigate where we are right now. It decides responsibility, the weight of things, and what we end up owning as our story.


Is it terrible and sad that I had to give up on my mother? Of course. But I am thankful that it got bad enough for me to reach the point of release. I'm glad I got to let go before I was dealt the permanent loss. I know my friend will be okay. I know, at the end, there were some apologies shared and moments had... so maybe she can find solace in seeing a bit of sunshine then, rather than the same loss happening without it. Maybe she can try to believe that it was always there, and maybe that will take some of the sting away. I hope so.


I worry that it will breathe life into the loop that she remains in with others in her life... taking her further away from being able to actually let go and break free.  But in the same breath, who am I to say that there isn't hope for those relationships? Maybe release isn't in their future at all. Maybe sunshine is. Whatever is in the cards for her, I hope it comes in the form of truth instead of more tail-chasing. If there is no future, let her walk away. If things can be salvaged, let it happen now.


No one should have to lose the same person over and over. It's a personal hell that fire and chains cannot touch.

Weight


Many times I have envied those with people close to guide them, but in the end, I am glad my decisions are my own. My mistakes are mine and my successes are in my name. Making choices based on the influence of others is too heavy a burden to carry. One would think it absolves us of responsibility when we let someone else guide our paths, our steps, and our views, but instead it only leaves us with more weight to carry in the end. Failures resting on the choices made based on someone else's directions leave us not only with the need to resolve our disappointment in ourselves for messing up, but trying to navigate the resentment we have for those that have steered us wrong.  Even advice given with the best of intentions holds the ability to aid in the sabotage of the happiness we wish most for those we care about. The best thing you can do for someone you love is to let them know you are there to keep them from falling too far, but let them navigate the road with their own head and heart as their guide. Being true to yourself, and not a follower of what is true to someone else, is one of the hardest parts of learning to be independent and learning who you are. Living with the consequences of well intentioned bad advice is only half of the pain, you still have to wrestle with trying not to carry blame and resentment on top of it, which is much more difficult than making a mistake all your own and laying claim to it as you move on.

You could just as easily say the answer to this is to avoid putting the weight on the counselor in the first place, but that in and of itself becomes a task, trial, and burden, as it is not what comes naturally or simply. When someone tells us to give something up, and we listen, it takes more work to relieve them of our blame for our heartache than it does to relieve ourselves had we just made the choice on our own. Or maybe we wouldn't have given it up at all if that had been the case. Without knowing if that is true, not making our own choice will haunt us for way too long.

Bypass

I remember thinking, when I was a teenager who was terrified of her first kiss, "I wish I could just skip to the part where I already know what I am doing." It's funny to look back now that something as simple as a kiss is no longer akin to jumping off of a cliff, but at the time it really was something I wished I could just sleep through and wake up on the other side of. Now, I have to say, I wouldn't mind reliving the adrenaline of first kisses again. Hindsight, right? If only I could go back and tell past me that sleeping through life's events means missing out on things we don't even know are miss-worthy yet.

Of course, sometimes we wish we could sleep through or skip parts that are genuinely terrible or hard, but it is because we know we will eventually come out on the other side that we make that wish, which is something to consider. I never wished I could sleep through a stage that I wasn't sure I was going to get through one way or another, so it is a testament to how little faith we have  in ourselves even if we know the mountain we have to climb is one we can tackle. I knew that one day I would be able to kiss someone without feeling like I was going to die of fear, but instead of using that as a source of confidence and encouragement, I spent my energy wishing I could just hop right over the part between start and steady jog. We all do it. I still do it.

Even though I am sure that I will make it to the other end of trials in my life right now, I still wish I could just fast forward though the steps to get there...I wish I could wake up when things are easier and simpler and... allowed. It isn't a matter of not having faith in the ending outcome, because I don't fret over whether it will be. It is completely about the difficulty of the road between now and exhaling. I still tell myself that I don't want to go through it; I want to jump over it... WAY over it.

But I am not sure that is true. Yes, it is hard to not know how long this stage will last. It is disheartening to be delegated to a position that I feel is less than I want to be in with a smaller part than I wish I had. Knowing what is in store eventually does not make not having it now much easier. Because while I wait, there is nothing on pause for me. My heart keeps falling, sinking further and further past the point of detached or anything resembling safety. So, I tell myself I wish I could sleep through it because I know it is hard and getting harder, but I also know that these things we live through are what design us, build us, and keep us standing. If I went to sleep and just woke up when the complications were gone, I wouldn't have built the feelings I am building now, nor would I have as deep an appreciation for finally having what I want if I did not know the struggle it took to get it.

If I skip this part, no matter how hard it seems, I would miss it... as hard as that is to believe. I wouldn't know it, but it would be different. Because the day that I get to be present and important and needed is going to feel so good after knowing what it feels like for that to be impossible no matter who wants it to be the case. I suppose I could step away from everything and say I want to table it until the everything else is handled, so that our start is one that happens without hindrance or opposition, but I want to know the longing... I want to know the sweetness only fleeting moments afford... I want to know what it is to wish for it. Because it is knowing all of that which makes keeping it protected all the more important. You don't take something for granted when you know what it is to hold your breath each minute you are without it.

Kisses are great, but if you skip past the part where you are scared to death to learn how to do it, you don't have the appreciation for how powerful a kiss can be, because only the really good and really important things can make you feel like that.
Amazing
and never enough.


Infallible


Sometimes there is a drawback to being strong and independent and hard to rattle...


No one ever worries about me. It just seems normal to assume I have it all under control or that I will figure it out. It is easy to look at me and take for granted that I am doing just fine.

But I am not always confident. Sometimes I am lonely. Sometimes my bad day has worn me down more than I let the average person know. Even I need to have someone call and ask if I am okay when I mention things not going well. When you put off an air of competency and capability, of strength and fortitude, and of resilience and determination... when you smile despite the rain, no one knows that you break down sometimes too. No one thinks you could use encouragement or compassion or concern.

When you find a way to always be okay, it gets really hard to not feel lonely and forgotten when everyone around you assumes you are always okay.

I am always the one telling someone else that it will work out or be okay, trying to make them smile, or trying to help. But not a single soul that knows me, knows that today I feel confused, forgotten, and insecure. I am apparently infallible. If only it were true.
With pain comes wisdom, compassion, and tolerance...
and the opportunity for strength to overshadow fear.

~ a wise and sometimes scared younger me.


Some more heartbreak on paper

Kiss me like love
Hold me like need
Leave me to bleed
Take me now
Keep a piece
My heart on lease
Watch my tears
Admire my pain
Turn your cheek again
Plea indecision
Keep me at bay
Now push me away
Steal my soul
Tear it from me
Your second time trophy

~ a rollercoaster I finally stopped riding, but not before picking up a few scars.

Pieces of History

Footsteps

He's nothing anymore
There's lies and anger
Embedded in his soul
He tries to plant his seeds
In the fertile hearts of others
Like a thorny vine
Twisting, turning, and tunneling
Boaring into the flesh
Of those he is to care for
Extinguishing the light
Of warmth living in us
Replaced it with the heat of hatred
The man who knows no limits
Shreds hope and love
Disregards all faith and sincerity
And tramples all trust
Killing all life
Converts innocence to boiling blood
To fear, and to cries
Listen to the sound of his steps
Hear them in one form
The dreaded screams of a child

~ me, 15 years old.