Progress Made

It’s a funny place I find myself in, sitting comfortably in my mid-thirties, rid of all the angst of my late teens to mid-twenties. I still recall the emotional turmoil I was in, the loneliness, the anger- so much anger! Despite the ability to recall it all, in vivid detail, it also feels like a lifetime ago. The suffering definitely helped to shape who I am, but that person, that version of myself seems foreign to me now.

I remember… staying up all night, watching tv and chatting over AIM with 5 people at once and writing two pieces at a time. I remember all the pent up rage over my (perceived) inability to live a normal life. I remember the feelings of isolation, desperation, and loneliness that overwhelmed me. I remember having my first full blown panic attack one night around 1am, while watching Vanilla Sky, wondering if I should wake my parents to take me to the hospital or let them sleep and maybe find me dead on the couch in the morning. I let them sleep and hoped and prayed I wasn’t having a heart attack and dying like I thought I was, like I felt I was.

I remember… writing dark and twisted poetry about the fury, the sorrow, and romanticizing suicide. I never truly considered it but it felt like such a tempting escape from the misery I was in.

I think back to all the crazy that I attracted to my life during that time. The drama filled people who seemed to find me like I was a magnet and truth be told, I probably was. It seemed like one friend after another was in crisis. My friendship circle consisted of self-harmers, pill poppers, and the like. It was also filled with people who had been dealt some really shitty hands in life but year after year they continued to be the victim rather than become the heroine of their own life. I remember one often repeating, “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve all of this.”

I remember… finding solace in the darkness of depression, the depression that anxiety drove me into. Misery does love company and I found my tribe. I remember feeling so liberated being able to share the chaos and storms that were swirling within me. I was no longer alone in my looney tribe of misfits. We were all wounded in our own ways and suffering but we had each other and that made it less lonely.

I remember… the clouds starting to lift in my life. The poetry dried up and I feared I was losing my creativity. I remember that the down moments came less frequently, the mood swings not as severe. I remember feeling at odds with myself because I didn’t recognize myself anymore without turmoil. Sometimes, even now, a little part of me misses it. For the creativity that is. There is something about angst and writing that go hand in hand, at least in my twisted mind.

Yet, I wouldn’t go back to it. I like being in a happy place now. That’s not to say my life is perfect but I am more appreciative now. I understand my anxiety better and have a better handle on it. I’m thankful for my struggles because there are somethings one cannot fully understand without experiencing them, mental health issues being one of them. Yes, I remember my battle and I’m grateful for it but I am so content to be exactly where I am right now. 100_0291_2.jpg

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Mourning and Moving Forward


shutterstock_558143062.jpgI am sure it comes as no shock but I’ve been in a bit of mourning with the current political climate. I don’t know that it is even so much the results of the election but the sheer ugliness and divisiveness being expressed towards anyone that has different views. Being totally transparent, yes I was disappointed by the results of the election. However I know that we are not always going to get our way, you win some and you lose some. I’ve done a good job of sort of blocking it out since then but with the inauguration a whole new wave of ugliness has crept in, not to mention I have no choice but to face reality.

I’m not writing this post to rail against our current officials or trash talk his supporters. That sort of thing plays out on Facebook day in and day out. I’m tired of it. I’m writing this because I need to find a way to move on. I need to find a way to use my voice to share some positivity and tolerance. Many of us are disappointed as of late. Regardless of who had won the election, many of us wonder how anyone could vote for XYZ candidate. However that does not solve anything. Accusations and cruelness only serve to breed more contempt and anger. I’m looking for a higher road. If you’re happy or unhappy do something about it. Use your voice!!!

A couple things I have discovered in the last couple of days:

Countable (website and app)

https://www.countable.us

Helps you to identify your representatives, keep you abreast of current issues, and provides an easy platform to get your voice heard.

Petitions on WhiteHouse.gov

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/#signapetition

You can sign or create a petition that, with enough signatures, will illicit a response from the White House.

A couple last thoughts:

“We have far more in common than that divides us.” Jo Cox.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi (though I’ve heard he wasn’t the one who said this)

Passion Reignited

Lately I am finding my passion for writing, life, knowledge, and learning reignited. Not just reignited. On fire. I’ve been doing a lot of reading; blogs, articles from Twitter and Facebook, etc. I’ve been finding inspiration in many unexpected places. I’m feeling more connected to myself than I have in a long time.

One such source was an article a friend posted on Facebook about the habits of creative people. The article can be found here for anyone that is interested in it. Many of the habits or characteristics the article mentioned felt familiar to me. One in particular was about knowing when you are most creative.

My writing has always been most prolific in the middle of the night. Say after 11pm and before the rest of the world is awake. I used to chalk it up to the fact that I lived at home during that time. We had a very busy household and the middle of night was the only time I was alone and the world was quiet. It was a very magical time for me. I would sometimes work on two different fiction pieces at a time, while I had a tv show or movie on, read message boards online and chatted over IM with as many as five or six people at a time.

Eventually, I quit being an insomniac and started to keep a more normal schedule. My writing somewhat dried up after that. To this day I still find myself missing those times when i was writing so much. It came to me so naturally, it was like I wasn’t even aware of where it was coming from, the words simply flowed, uninhibited.

After reading that article I’ve been excited to see if I can find that magic place in the early morning hours. Granted, now I have my own home with my sister and my three dogs. It is not nearly as chaotic as a small, three bedroom home with three dogs, one cat, six people all living in it. Still, I don’t find myself writing nearly as often as I would like. When I do write there is a little bit of a struggle that often accompanies it. Despite that fact, writing is still soothing and enjoyable to me.

While I have promised myself several times over that I will start getting up at six in the morning to write… It has yet to occur. I am not too upset with myself over it though since I have been sick. Once I am healthy though, the experiment must begin.

As for this exact moment in time, the ideas have been churning and the excitement to write was overwhelming so I am back in the magic hour at nearly three in the morning. Part of me is dreading tomorrow since I am still awake right now but it will all work out.

In the meantime, a list of the things that have my mind working in over drive:

  • healthier living/essential oils/oil pulling
  • a fascinating book and blog I’ve found about open marriages. (Mom, if you’re reading. Don’t panic, it fascinates me but I don’t see it as being for me).
  • what my future holds, assuming I take full control of my life and will my dreams into reality
  • the beauty of acceptance and loving oneself
  • religion/faith/spirituality/Christianity
  • how I can be the best version of myself

The World Just Keeps on Spinning

The only constant in life is change and my life has experienced more than a few lately. I’ve not written because… Well, I didn’t know how to word things or what I wanted to address. It has been so much…

My Uncle John passed away December 2nd.  He went back into the hospital back in November. During that time it was discovered he had a bleeding ulcer in his small intestine that was actually cancer, stage 4 to be exact. The hospital recommended hospice care and said there was nothing left to do. Uncle John said he was going to fight to the very end and fight he did. He was hospitalized for approximately two weeks. Got out before Thanksgiving and seemed to be improving. We were trying to get him into a local research hospital but it was too late. 

He went back into the hospital the Friday after Thanksgiving and passed that Monday. It threw us all into a bit of a tailspin. Grief is a tricky bastard, as I have said before. Suddenly there were funeral arrangements to be made, potentially flying relatives in from out of state, notifying people of his passing, writing an obituary, etc. Of course, my job was amazing which was one less thing to stress about. 

During this time, the boy (and he is a boy) that I wrote of from my past, The Marine had come back into my life. Things seemed to be going well until my Uncle’s health took a turn for the worse. Then the Marine bailed on me. Well, I’m sure in his mind his behavior was acceptable but for me, it was the last straw. I want a partner in my life, in good times AND in bad. When he couldn’t be there for me during such a dark time I knew that I had to cut him out of my life. I did attempt talking to him about things. It fell on deaf ears. So I did the only thing I could. Cut him out of my life for good. Deleted him from my phone, from social networking, blocked his number. I wish him well, I just can’t have him in my life. It isn’t healthy and it isn’t fair to either of us. 

Despite these recent losses, I am feeling stronger than I have in a very long time. The family is sticking together and my friends have been a godsend. Things are coming along. Nowadays, I’m focused on all the goodness there is in this life. Yes, there is sadness, darkness, loss but there is also love, light, happiness, and laughter. 

So as I wrap this up for today, I would like to leave with a thought of gratitude. I am thankful for a full belly that came from a lovely breakfast with my sister and my best friend. I am blessed to have the money to go out to eat and wonderful company to share a meal with. I am thankful to be able bodied and remove the snow from my driveway and sidewalks. I am thankful for the love of my dogs that is unwavering. Have a wonderful day people 🙂

Faith Versus Religion

I’ve recently made a new friend who has, unintentionally, made me call up my eternal debate between faith versus religion. Growing up I was raised in a household that had faith. We were taught to believe in God. There were Bibles around. The ultimate commandment though in our home, was love. We did not subscribe to a Christian belief system to the extent that we ever said it was the only way to believe in God. I was raised to respect all religions equally. I am so very grateful to my parents and family for raising us the way they did.

My mother’s family was Catholic, as most good Italian families are. My great Aunt Theresa was even a nun. I remember visiting her at the convent as a child. Well, to be honest I remember Sister Peanuts more (that was her nickname), a beautiful African American nun that took a liking to me. She even made me a teddy bear that I have to this day. However, by the time my mother came along, the family’s church attendance had steeply fallen off. My mother made her first communion and that was it.

My father is Lutheran. He sought out the word of God and attended church with some relatives. He made his confirmation. It was his choice to do so. I think it is beautiful that he chose  to go to church, to make his conformation, to go through all of that. I feel like most people I know who have done the same did so because it was expected, because their parents or someone else in their life made them. Choice is truly a beautiful thing.

That brings me to, well, me. Like I said, I was raised in a loosely Christian household. We would often talk about other belief systems. I attended classes held by my Native American neighbors through the cultural program of our school, and we discussed that too. It seemed to me that all the different ways of believing in God were different roads to the same end place. I loved learning about God, in many different forms and ways.

Enter high school. At that point in my life things changed a bit. My parents didn’t like the local public school option so they found a Christian high school to send me to. It was such culture shock to me, going from public school my entire life, not being a church goer, and suddenly thrust into a church based school. I had mixed feelings about it (as I do most things in life). On the one hand, I was loving and embracing learning about God on a daily basis. I felt kind of on fire for the Lord. Then… there was the other part of it. I remember being around all these kids who had gone to Christian schools their whole lives who didn’t quite seem to fit the teachings of God. High school kids were still high school kids.  The judgement, the manipulation, the cliques, all of those charming traits were very much present. They could quote the Bible all over the place but they weren’t exactly living it.

As for me? Well, I was human. I was cruel at times. I was compassionate at times. I loved learning about God but I also felt like a black sheep too. My views were a tad too liberal. I was too accepting, too open to other view points. I was essentially told I was wrong. Lovely. Still, the school and the teachings got to me. I wanted to lead a Godly life. I even thought at some point I could join a church.

This lasted until about the age of 22 or 23. That is when I started to let go of what I call, “the Christian brainwashing.” I was realizing that I couldn’t fundamentally agree with everything in the Bible or any church. I spent years trying to figure out how a religion that is based on love and acceptance and NOT judging could condemn so many. If I were to believe something fully, how would I feel about x,y,z?

A major turning point for me came when I ran into someone from high school who was still a “good Christian girl,” though I am pretty certain that she was no longer chaste among other sins. She sat there talking about a classmate of ours that had come out as gay and was now married. She had been very close to this person in high school but now felt she couldn’t be because he was gay and that was wrong. God says so. Not her exact wording but that was the gist of it. I was shocked. How could she turn her back on someone because of that? I have an aunt that is a lesbian. Some of my closest friends are. I would never abandon a person because they are gay. How is that God’s teaching? How is that love?

Over time I pondered many arguments about God, religion, spirituality, faith, etc. Right or wrong, this is what I have come up with. During all of my questioning or soul searching, I’ve never doubted God or His existence. I feel closer to God witnessing compassion between two strangers, or the love of an animal, or a gorgeous blue sky, or a gentle breeze on a Summer’s day then I ever have in any church. It seems to me that most religions out there have the same basic ideas. It also seems to me that if you compare history to religious books, there have been times when some of the rules and regulations of said religions coincides with earthly profits. Meaning that some of the stuff in there seems to have benefitted the author’s family or friends to such a point that it seems hard to believe man didn’t distort the word of God here and there for their own gain. Heck, kind of like nowadays…

I know, without a shadow of doubt in my heart that there is something greater than myself. Even science has its limitations. Miracles happen. I believe in an afterlife. I believe in God. I will not however, say that the way I believe is right or wrong over anyone else’s beliefs. I only know what is in my heart. I know that nearly every culture has always believed in something greater than themselves. We can’t all be wrong. So can’t we all be right? What if God shows Himself to people in the way they can understand? What if it isn’t about a book and living a certain set of rules but rather, following the golden rule. Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you.  I pray nightly, I do read the Bible on occasion but I can’t support the church. I may attend here and there. I think churches can offer something truly beautiful. I just don’t think they are the only way to be a believer, nor is any one religion the sole path to salvation. I support gay marriage and even plural marriage (assuming no child brides or other abuse is present). I believe in the tenant of love. I believe that God speaks to people in His own way so that they can understand. I believe that God is present and active in my life and He is leading me to where I belong.