ghost

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I love you

I got a call from a ghost today.

The call display said Montana, and  I almost didn’t answer, I don’t know anyone from Montana. The call was from a father that I didn’t know. A father that I will never meet. He told me his son was dead, and for a moment I had to think which dead son is this, which dead child is this about.

Then I understood.

This was Kevin’s father. Kevin who was dead. Kevin, the young man who made a small party my son’s first birthday in Arizona, far away from home. Kevin, who arranged for a decorated ice cream cake and twenty candles. Kevin who ordered pizzas with everything that Graham liked on them. Kevin who took pictures of Graham blowing out the candles and sent them to me because he knew how sad I was about not being there for his birthday. That Kevin who took care of my son when I could not. That Kevin who within six months of the party had relapsed, and shortly after had died.

I had sent his phone a text after he died. More of a prayer in text form. It read something like I’m so very sorry, and thank you. I was so sorry he had died, and still so grateful to him for taking care of my son. I sent it, and like a prayer, I never thought anyone would ever know about it.

I do understand that to his father when he finally got his dead son’s phone that my message would be a mystery. I imagine how many times he must of read it before he worked up the nerve to call me and ask just what I meant texting a dead person.

Today he called and we found out about each other, although we never even exchanged names. I told him that I was so sorry, that his son had been kind to mine, and kind to me, and how much that meant to me. I told him that my son was still alive and still clean and sober. I don’t know that was comforting or painful for him. I think it could be both. Maybe I should  have said in October my brother, John, and many years ago my father, Alan died of the same disease his son did. Maybe, but that’s not the same as a child. Nothing could be that.

He seemed content enough to have his mystery solved and we said goodbye, and then I sat there and cried for all of us, for those who have died, and for those of us who loved them. I cried, because there is nothing else I can do for Kevin, for John, for Alan, for any of the dead ones.

For the families and loved ones left behind, sorry is not ever going to be enough. Sorry can’t heal the kind of pain this is, but is all we can do. We say sorry and we then hold space for someone’s pain. We say sorry and we hold space in our words, in our actions, in our lives, and in our hearts for them. We let them feel their pain without judgement. We surround them in as much love as we can. This is what we do for the living,

because there is nothing more we can do for our dead.

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the post in which I give zero fucks

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It didn’t happen when I turned 50, but sometime after I turned 51 I stopped caring so desperately about what people thought of me, and I have to say that it is really fucking awesome (yes, I will use profanity when I want to – Sorry. NOT sorry, who am I kidding).  I still have moments where I grab the “rock of really giving a fuck about what you think about me” I used to wear like a raincoat, and haul it around for a while, but I just can’t be bothered to carry that weight anymore, ya know? In one way the “swirling shit storm” of my life the last several months (years, really) has helped me let go of many things simply because they are too heavy to keep carrying.

There are things I will not apologize for anymore, and if you don’t like me because of it, I’m really, really super-fucking-okay with that.

You don’t like my politics? Great!
My life choices? Fucking Awesome!
My tattoos? More power to ya!
My sarcastic, sassy and profanity laced language? I will somehow manage to carry on without your fucking approval.
Can’t decide if  I’m worth dating? Sayonara, Adios amigo, Caio bella, sich verabschieden, d’adieu, tchüss. (because I totally AM worth it, ‘Slaying Dragons For’ kind of worth it, and I can’t spend my time with someone who doesn’t think so).

There also things I will apologize for, because like most humans, I can be a self-centered asshole on a remarkably regular basis. Those things I try to be accountable for and apologize. Things like running about 5-15 late on a staggeringly regular basis. I do apologize for this, but I haven’t suffered enough negative consequences from this for me to alter my behaviour yet. That and forgetting your name, I have a smooth spot on my brain where people’s names are stored, it’s not you, it’s me. Really, really.

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Then I read Mark Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and was forever changed. Well not quite, but damn.

The point is, most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. We give a fuck about the rude gas station attendant who gave us too many nickels. We give a fuck when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give a fuck when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. We give a fuck when it’s raining and we were supposed to go jogging in the morning.

Fucks given everywhere. Strewn about like seeds in mother-fucking spring time. And for what purpose? For what reason? Convenience? Easy comforts? A pat on the fucking back maybe?

This is the problem, my friend.

Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.

And life will fuck you over, and over, and over, that’s just the way life is. It is also beautiful, tragic, sacred, messy and glorious . Our big mistake is to think the world, that life, that God owe us something. That we are supposed to be, #happy, #blessed, #blissful and need to share this with all our Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Wordpress followers all the fucking time. Seriously?

Here’s the thing, the world, life, the universe, God and everything else you want to call it, do not owe you one single solitary fucking thing, got that? Does Not Owe You. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Pas du tout. Nichts. We are not here to be entertained, to be taken care of, to have all our superficial and egocentric whims catered to. Life does not owe us. Life does not owe us a certain lifestyle, a six pack, an adoring partner, lots of money, an easy go of it, and when we caught up in the Super Sucky Vortex of Entitlement and we think that somehow we deserve these things, that we deserve all the stuff, all the fucking junk that we have been told over and over that we should have, when we get stuck in that vortex of really giving a fuck about the stupid shit, that is when we are most miserable.

tumblr_mmm3xfqWTM1snu8fxo1_500Okay, so my title may be slightly misleading. I do give a fuck about somethings, not about what you think of me, or my life, my family or any of that, I  give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy. In my 20’s I gave the most sincere fucks about the stupidest things. I tried, I tried so damn hard to be what I thought people wanted me to be. It made me fucking miserable.  As I aged, and occasionally matured, I found I didn’t have the energy to give a fuck about anything that wasn’t worth it. The clarity about what is important, what is worth giving a fuck about is what has liberated me. I am not apathetic, I am simply not will to waste my time and my fucks on anything unimportant.

Which is what exactly? We are here to give back, to be of fucking service to our fellow humans, to those who hold no power over us, to animals, to plants, to our mother, the fucking earth. What we need to do is to take care of each other. Is that so hard? Because it sure seems like it’s really fucking hard for people. And this is where I actually do give a fuck. I give a fuck about that homeless guy that you pretend you don’t see. I give a fuck about the recycling you just tossed in the street, about the dog you left in a hot car,  about the plastic floating in the ocean, about being kind to the person who seems to least deserve it, about feeding people who are hungry.

I give a fuck about a lot of things, just not what you may or may not think of me. Hasta la vista.

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Weathering

me with quote

Weathering

Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,

happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well

that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among the lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.

–Fleur Adcock

I love this poem, and one day I hope to have that time among the lakes.

Perhaps even more now that I am weathering. My hair is going grey, my waist thickened, and my face, while never pretty, is showing the years in various lines and wrinkles.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.

That’s me. Never the attractive, pretty, or sought after one. I’m at peace with being somewhat plain (except for the unruly hair), there are worse things, much worse things. Perhaps I’ll be the type of woman who looks fabulous at 70, but a life of being average looking, a life of more than a few difficulties has given me some insights.

  • Eat the damn cake, because you know, it’s cake.
  • Hug people and tell them they matter, because people do matter, and often need to reminded of this.
  • Hold on to what you love. Let go of what hurts you. Seems easy enough. Still working on this one.
  • There are no knights in shining armor, you have to rescue yourself. I used to dream of being rescued, of someone loving me like Neruda wrote in his poems, now I’m okay with reading his poetry to myself, and taking care of myself.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business, so try not to care so much about that. Still working on this one too.
  • Every day alive is a gift, don’t waste it. It’s been 14 years and 2 days since my friend Cathy died. My friend with three kids the same ages as mine. Every year I get with my kids is icing, is precious. Every spring, every holiday, every damn day. I try not to forget this.
  • There is such a thing as a free lunch. Sometimes you get the lunch, and sometimes you give someone the lunch. That’s how life works.
  • Kindness, it really is the new black. It goes with everything.
  • When things get uncomfortable, try not to reach for the first, or second, or third distraction. When you feel rotten, feel rotten, don’t wallow, but don’t push it down and pretend it doesn’t exist. Lean into it, and when you’re ready let it go. Lean on your friends, and let them lean on you. It’s how we all get by, with a little help from our friends.

It’s not a huge amount of knowledge, but it’s what’s I’ve got right now. I think maybe if I had had an easier time of it, if I was ever seen as beautiful, or wealthy or any number of things, that I might not have had my ego kicked into the dirt enough times to soften it, to soften me, to weather me. This is a good thing I tell myself when I look in the mirror and see every single year on my face, around my waist, on my belly and on my thighs, and I then I channel Anne Lamott as best I can

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
― Anne Lamott

So, another year older, and I’m still walking and breathing. I’m happy, most of the time, and grateful, so very grateful for what I do have.

the sum total of my wisdom, thus far

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
― Socrates

  • Your ego will fuck you over,  worse than any person or situation ever could
  • A quiet morning with a good cup of coffee is worth getting up early forcappuccino_hearts
  • Sunshine is a beautiful gift too often taken for granted
  • Your feet are really important,  take good care of them
  • Every day that you are alive is a gift,  try to remember that
  • Love is unconditional,  liking is another story
  • Be kind,  to everyone, period,  really, this is THE thing that will see all of us through our short time on this planet
  • We live on a planet first, countries later, and lastly homes, try to behave accordingly
  • Feed people,  care for them,  not just on holidays,  every single daydownload (2)
  • Smile. Make eye contact when you do it. Do it a lot, everyone will feel better
  • Show up and do what needs to be done,  do more than needs to be done.  Do this every day
  • It’s best if you don’t get everything you want
  • Keep moving, your body, or mind, your soul at whatever speed is your own,  stagnation is death
  • Carry others when they cannot carry themselves
  • Do good,  not for any reward or recognition, but because that is why we are alive and on this planet
  • Look around you, the world is full of beauty and of gifts that you are not noticing
  • Listen to people,  turn off your own running monologue and just listen
  • Dance, whatever dancing is to you. Open your spirit and enjoy yourself
  • Listen to music you love, everyday,  it will feed your soul
  • Be alone and be quiet.
  • Everyday work on loving the person you are right now, not the person you want to or wish to be. Love yourself,  right now, grow from there
  • Forgive yourself,  forgive everyone else, for your own sanity
  • No one thinks they are the bad guy, everyone, EVERYONE is doing the best they canwpid-20130826_1705540_1.jpg
  • Let yourself love an animal, let yourself love something that will die before you.
  • Let your heart get broken, over and over againindex
  • Stay open and vulnerable,  even when it hurts,  especially when it hurts, this will open you to the beauty of the world
  • Fight for those who cannot,  lend them your heart, your voice, your strength and your love. One day someone will stand and fight for you
  • Speak your mind with love
  • Laugh!! Everyday, many times. Your sense of humour will keep you sane. Never take yourself or your life too seriously to laugh at. Laughter keeps the importance of things in perspective.
  • Surround yourself with people who love and value you. Stay away from those who do not, they will suck the joy out of your life, don’t give them the opportunity.
  • Do others the honour of seeing your real self, your scars, your warts,  your self loathing and your unspeakable beauty10592840_10206139425545919_5843121347137963057_n
  • Love and honour something greater than yourself
  • The world is not here for your entertainment,  you are here to do some good in whatever form you can manage
  • People will not behave as you like, this has nothing to do with you
  • What other people think of you is none of your business
  • Resist absolutes, judgements and black vs white,  and good vs bad thinking, it’s lazy and will not serve you
  • A person’s skin colour, gender, sexual identity,  social status has absolutely NOTHING to do with their value as a person
  • Be mindful of your own biases
    Everything begins with your thoughts, your actions, values and character all grow from your thoughts,  make them worthwhile
  • Change happens, always, get used to it
  • You will change,  this is a very good thing, try not to fight it too muchme with quote
  • Read. Read. Read.  Read everything you can, you are blessed to be able to read and to have so much available to read,  do not ever stop reading, it will make you a better person
  • Be passionate about something, live your life in a way that expresses this passion
  • You will get hurt,  you will suffer in your life, this is not optional.  Use it to make yourself kinder,  softer,  more empathetic so you can be there for the next person who is suffering.  Don’t let your hurts make you hard and bitter.
  • Get out of your comfort zone, regularly,  this is where you learn and where you grow
  • Make mistakes and spend your time learning from from them instead of beating yourself up over them. Mistakes aren’t optional,  what you do with them is up to you
  • Nothing’s good or bad that thinking makes it so, decide how you want to think and then do it
  • Practice moderation,  and then truly enjoy the things you love
  • What a persSAMSUNGon says and does says everything about them and has nothing to do with you
  • Remember always you are precious beyond all measure and loved no matter what.

be fucking brave

So this. I’m10592840_10206139425545919_5843121347137963057_n riding my own personal crazy train right now. One of my own making, from the full steam ahead steam engine that burns red hot, fiery coal 24/7, through car after car full of personal baggage of all shapes, sizes, weights and colours, to the caboose that can only look back and wonder what, the fuck, was I thinking?

Aside: I did quit that job, and I LOVE the job I have now, the rest, it’s a work in progress.

This quote, and a few dear friends are  currently what is holding me together. Also, quite a bit of chocolate, and singing to very loud music in the car, off key, every single time I drive. I’m not kidding, tonight is was Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. This guy does it better. Yesterday it was Eurythmics, Smiths, and R.E.M. all day. 

I used to think that when I turned 20 two major things would happen. 1. I’d be given the ‘adult handbook’,  and 2. my skin would clear up. You know the handbook that  ALL the grown ups had. The one that gave you the answers to life. No more teenage and young adult angst for me, I would finally have the ansewers, and then BOOM, I would figure life out and become a happy, well adjusted financially secure adult. Apparently there is no such book. You can imagine my disappointment at having to figure things out for myself, and don’t even talk to me about my skin. Honestly, how does anybody figure anything out? I am a hot mess with passable hair on a good day, and on a bad, I shove it into a pony tail.

My ego took a hit last week. It was not pretty. I wasn’t so pretty, except for my hair, I had a good hair week, so it wasn’t all bad. I was just mostly bad. I may have got a little crazy, or as I like to say, super sized extra crispy crazy with side of hysterical hot sauce. Yep, I’m a grown up, and I still cannot figure this stuff out. My brain has this section I call the the hamster wheel section where all my crazy ideas spin faster and faster. I’m not allowed to go there without a friend.

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how do they know?

Fortunately, I have great friends. I spent tonight drinking pop, diet pop even… from a Wonder Woman glass, eating chocolates and watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a friend, and then confessed all my crazy thoughts and actions and, she still loves me and sent me home with cupcakes and a fortune cookie that said “Be willing to admit you may be wrong, you’re only human”. That’s love for ya.

instructions for mothering an addict

 

Alex Colville, 1954 Horse and Train

Alex Colville, 1954 Horse and Train

  • pray often. whatever that means to you
  • try to get enough sleep, even though usually you won’t
  • put your own oxygen mask on first, you cannot help anyone if you fall apart
  • don’t give up. never, never, never give up. don’t give up especially when that’s all you want to do
  • learn to ask for help, and then learn to accept offers of help
  • keep living your own life, try not to feel guilty about the times you do things you enjoy
  • when it feels as if the world is crashing down on and around you, take one small step, then pick another small step and keep inching forward no matter how difficult
  • try not to be angry with people who do not behave as you would like them to. they are doing their best, and sometimes their best is not what you wish it would be
  • tell him you love him each and every time you talk to him. especially when you are frustrated and don’t want to. tell him you love him because life is short and uncertain and you never know if it will be the last time you will talk to him
  • do not curl up into a ball and give up, even though the heartbreak and the stress is more than you think you can bear. Bear it, if not for yourself, then for him, for you other children.
  • only let a select few see the pain you’re in, do not fall apart in public, cry when you’re alone in your car, in your bed, when no is there. the rawness will overwhelm most people and they will back away
  • do occasionally bring his clothes home, wash them, dry them and fold them, do not think about how you used to do this when he was a little boy
  • remember all the reasons for not letting him live with you, the relapses, the broken promises, the unbearable behaviour. remember these when all you want to do is wrap your arms around him and bring him home
  • do not listen to the song Bring Him Home unless you are alone so no one will see you cry
  • when you pick him up at the shelter, do not dwell on the dilapidated building, the sorrowful residents. sit with him in tiny hallway where tired mothers carry crying children, sit there till it is his turn to apply for medicaid
  • take him to pick up his antipsychotic medications, and while you’re there get him toothpaste, another toothbrush, sunscreen and antiperspirant. say yes when he asks if he can have gum when you are in the check out line
  • give him the money so he can take you out to lunch for mother’s day. order extra food and give him the take out containers to take with him. thank him for lunch.
  • buy him clean clothes from time to time and throw out the ones he’s been wearing for two weeks straight
  • do not picture him on the shelter floor on a thin pad while you are on your comfortable couch, or your warm and safe bed. thinking of this will only eat you from the inside out
  • when the enormity of what you have to manage becomes too much, it’s okay to put your head down on your desk and close your eyes, but you must lift it back up again and keep going
  • when he asks to come home, say no, even though your chest aches, and your eyes are filling with tears, say no, and tell him you love him.

about that homeless, mentally ill, and intoxicated man

Aside

Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmallz

Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmallz

Dear Well Intentioned Friend,

I know your intentions were not unkind when we talked the other day. I’m certain you had no idea the affect your story would have on me, and I’m somewhat ashamed I didn’t speak up more clearly at the time.

homelessOkay, here’s the thing. Your story? About your daughter’s dance class being threatened by a lone homeless man, the one where the instructors bravely hid all the girls (who ‘were practically dressed in bikinis’) in the locker room to protect them? The story where the lone homeless man who may have been intoxicated, who likely was mentally ill  (spoken with your voice lowered), had come into the lounge near the studio and sat down to watch the tv, you remember? Do you remember telling me how horrified you were, what danger these girls were in. Do you remember when you first described the man that I said, poor thing, he was probably just looking somewhere safe to rest?

Here are some things I didn’t tell you. I have worked with homeless people for the last ten years. Yes, many are mentally ill, many are alcoholic or addicts or both. All of them suffer greatly. All of them are human beings, who love and are loved by someone. I didn’t point out that mental illness and substance abuse are medical illnesses, just like cancer, or diabetics. I also didn’t mention the reason many of them are homeless is because of inadequate resources to treat these disorders,and the tremendous negative stigma that goes along with being homeless, with being an alcoholic, with being an addict.

At one point while you were describing in great detail how horrifying and dangerous this man was, I did manage to quietly say, just like my son. I don’t think you caught my meaning. I don’t think you understood that what I was saying was that my son is homeless, that my son is mentally ill, that my son is an addict, that my son has curled up in all sorts of places trying to get some sleep, some comfort. I don’t think you realized that while you talked about saving these girls from this threat, all I could see is the countless cruelties that the homeless, mentally ill suffer, that my son suffers. The diseases themselves and the heartbreak they cause to families are bad enough, but the stigma that well intentioned people attach to them and then use as a justification to treat them badly, as something less than human, and something not worth compassion, or love or comfort, the stigma is the worst of it all.

Change mentally ill to someone with cancer, with diabetics, suddenly it seems horrifying that someone suffering from cancer, or uncontrolled diabetes would be ostracized, would be seen as a threat to children.

Eventually all I could see was someone treating my son with the horror and disdain you very eloquently described, all I could see was the pain and the humiliation he has suffered. All I could see was my little boy being threatened, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do to save him. All I could feel was all the pain and the heartbreak of the last several years as I fought to keep my son sane, sober and safe. You see, my well intentioned friend, I too am a mother, a very protective one, and I do understand the overwhelming desire to protect my children. My daughters took dance when they were young, I did my time sitting in studios, going to recitals, I do understand that part, to this day I would do anything to keep them safe. I also love my son with the same intensity, and I have done, and still do everything I can to protect him. Sadly with his disease part of doing what’s best for him and my daughters is to let him hit a bottom so he can hopefully one day come back to me.

I couldn’t tell you any of this. All I could do was to cover my face to hide the tears and run away. When I got to my car I sat for a very long while until I stopped crying and could drive home.

The other thing I didn’t tell you is what I may have in common with the homeless man, I’m an alcoholic. I was raised by one and am related to several. The disease runs rampant in my family. I’ve been told to say I’m a person in long term recovery, meaning I’m sober and have been so for quite some time. I don’t generally tell people this, because unlike, say cancer survivors, there aren’t any coloured ribbons, or fun walks for alcoholics or addicts, even the clean and sober ones. People don’t look at you as someone who has fought – and remains constantly vigilant – against a chronic and deadly illness, and survived, people see a drunk, an addict, someone who has a flaw in their moral character, someone who cant’ be trusted, someone you can’t leave your children with (yes, I have been at the receiving end of all these attitudes) people look at you as something that is less than normal people. That’s why I don’t generally share that about myself. That is also why when you told me about the homeless man the first thing I felt was empathy for him, and the pain he must feel at fear and loathing that he experienced in your daughter’s dance studio, and likely just about everywhere else he goes.

I didn’t tell you any of this, because these things are usually too raw for me to say out loud. These things have brought judgement and negative stigma on me and my family, and some days I’m just not up to saying out loud that this is wrong. This is so very wrong. That it is not okay to view people as less than. No is less than anyone else. I think if people could get that straight in their heads the world could be a more compassionate and beautiful place.

So, maybe, next time you see a homeless person, someone who is mentally ill, intoxicated,maybe, you could let some compassion enter your viewpoint, and not let fear guide your thinking and actions, maybe you could lead with kindness and compassion, just a little at first. Or maybe you could, just for a moment, reexamine the way you view the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted, the alcoholic. Maybe that could be a start.

hate

Image I think it’s safe to say that Hate was there all along. Hate lurked just under the surface of his skin, in the line of his jaw when he pressed his lips together in that certain way, and also lightly resided in his dry cracked fingertips when they were clenched. I’d lived with Hate before and should have noticed sooner that he was back. I should have been cognizant to the pauses in speech those pressed lips caused. But I was in love.

When you first meet Hate it can be difficult to recognize him. He’ll put on his best clothes when you are introduced. He can be very charming, and is quite skilled at impersonating his twin brother Love. He’ll tell you everything you want to hear. He’ll tell you his love for you is boundless – this part is true, the feelings are boundless, but not in the way you think. His feelings dwell in darkness underground where he keeps Rage and Jealousy sitting quietly, and impatiently in small cages until he needs to let them out. He’ll draw you in so very sweetly. He’ll make you feel special and when you do open up and tell him your secrets he will tuck each of them in little pockets and then stay up all night sharpening them into weapons to use later.

Like I said, small things, like the line of his jaw, will give him away, but you have to know to look for it, and often by the time you see them it’s often too late. Occasionally when he’s feeling lazy, Hate will let slip his beautiful mask. I should have know better, I had seen that line in his jaw, and twice, when his mask slipped I saw the darkness flicker past his eyes. I know how this goes, I still occasionally run my fingers over the scars he left last time we met. I have the souvenirs he gave me in a scrapbook I keep in my bedside table. Still, we only see what we want to see, and even if Hate had ripped off his mask in those early, enchanting times I would have looked away, pretended I didn’t notice, the way you don’t notice a stain on someone’s shirt, or some spinach between their teeth. I would have been far too polite to question any glimpses in those early days. Hate seemed to know all the right things to whisper in my ears, he knew just how to hold the back of my head when he kissed me, and when he told me how beautiful I was, I believed him. Part of me knew all along of course, my lizard brain could see through masks and knew it was Hate right away. I ignored the scratches deep inside me, at least when they were still faint. I went along purposely not hearing them to be honest, and I listened to Hate’s soliloquies instead.

The very first time I met Hate he was on a motorcycle and took me for rides to gain my trust. I was a child and didn’t know any better. This time Hate played guitar for me. How I wish I’d never listened to him play.

Eventually, and when he has enough sharpened secrets in his pockets, Hate will grow tired of pretense, and will – sometimes quite suddenly – rip off his mask. Then you can see the black metal teeth in his wide grinning jaw, the cold black eyes that twinkle when his mouth hinges open in a wide and shiny grin. Now the lizard brain is screaming in that high pitched way a rabbit screams when it is being torn apart by an eagle talons. The screams and the sight of those teeth make your flesh flush red on the outside and freeze on the inside. This is where you realize it had been Hate all along, that he had been sharpening your secrets and fattening you up for months, and that now it was time for Hate to sink his metal teeth into the soft parts of your flesh and tear strips of it away. To rip and tear into your flesh even as you frantically try to get away, as you try to assuage him with calm kind words. Again, and again and again he will sink his teeth in and rip apart the most secret and precious parts of you. He has let Rage and Jealousy out of their little cages and they run gleefully in circles around you poking you with your secrets, laughing as they use your own fears to pierce your skin.

When you manage to finally get some distance you try to push the jagged edges of your flesh together in hopes that no one will see your deep shame, your ugliness, your utter stupidity. So, you wear baggy clothes and pack the wounds with the bits and pieces of you that still work. It’s messy, and it’s painful and you feel ashamed that you didn’t heed the scratching, the line of his jaw, the press of his lips when you still had a chance to escape. Slowly flesh heals and only a very practiced eye will see the scars. The pain will fade to numbness and one day you will be able to listen to the Moonlight Sonata without tears running silently down your face. One day.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,

Well I never thought I’d be quoting the Spice Girls, but it is a catchy little phrase don’t you think?

What do I really, really want? Well the easy, somewhat entertaining and glib answer is Viggo on a horse, or to win the lottery, to have six pack abs, for my hair to calm, the-fuck, down, for hunky firemen to come to my bidding,  a really good massage, a clean house, my own studio with a ocean view….

Okay, how about a life? A life would be good. A life where I get to do things for myself and put all those grand plans of mine into action. A life where I don’t bounce from one crisis to another. A life that has some security, financial and emotional.

and Viggo on a horse – of course

What I want is something safe, and strong and solid. I want a shoulder that I can put my head on when this crazy life of mine is out of control. I don’t want to be rescued, not really (although… firemen….) I do want something that feels safe.

ImageI feel like a Matryoshka Doll. Layer after layer of a hard wooden, brightly painted shell each covering another inside it with a firm, smooth and solid layer. The biggest with a smile permanently painted on. Life gets difficult? Snap! On goes another smooth, hard, smiling outer layer. People are unkind? Pop, pop on goes a couple of smiling layers. When I’m alone, and rarely even then, that I think about taking off a layer or two, looking at the small doll at the center.

“Beauty comes in many forms–and there is no form more beautiful than you. Just exactly as you are, this minute, right now, without changing a thing…you are beautiful. Beautiful enough to take God’s breath away. You do believe this, don’t you? Oh, you must. You must. How can I believe in my beauty if you don’t believe in yours?” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Isn’t that great? I need to have it tattooed on my forearm.

Oh god, I’m rambling.

I grew up learning to gauge other’s emotions and adjust my behaviour accordingly. I hid my own feelings for so long I hardly recognize them. I was told, and believed, that no matter what I did, whatever path I would follow I would never be acceptable. I could twist, conform and mold myself to make others like me, but really, it would never work, and eventually people would reject me. I wore masks, layer after layer of hard, resilient masks, all nesting over another. What I wanted, who I was, what I was passionate about disappeared under the layers.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ~ Jim Morrison

Inside. Way inside there is that little doll, but the light is dimmed from all the other layers and it’s difficult to see, to feel what she really wants. It’s easier to retreat inside, to not do the work needed to live without the safe, nesting layers. It’s never convenient to do this, there are always more reasons to stay where you are, to stay within the boundaries and roles that have been assigned to you.

Despite this. Despite the layers we all wear, and the roles we all are assigned, despite all of this, we are only meant to be ourselves, that’s all. We, in theory, have the ability to release the pain, to remove the masks and to look into the darker parts of ourselves.

Those who will not slip beneath the surface of the well of grief,
turning downward through its dark waters
to a place we cannot breathe.

Will never know the secret water
from which we drink, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness, glimmering–
the small, round coins
thrown away by those who wished for something else

– David Whyte

We have been raised to ignore the dark parts of ourselves, the parts about us we don’t like, the parts that we would like to pretend don’t exist. We want the world to see only what is good in us, only the bright shiny outer layer. Except that’s only part of us. The dark and hidden parts, the shattered and broken parts, the really ugly and shameful parts are as important as the bright, shiny and happy parts. Perhaps more important. If you’ve never suffered, you can’t know empathy. A broken heart is more open, feels more, is better able to love.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”   – Leonard Cohen

So what do I want? The same as everyone else, I suppose. I want to be happy, to be free from suffering. How likely is this? That depends I suppose on how attached I get to certain desires (cough! Viggo! horse!!), and how open I am to accept and appreciate what I already have. So in the end, I’m okay if Viggo doesn’t show up on horseback, and the firemen don’t show up shirtless looking to rescue me. Well.. mostly okay. I think actually I’m okay with where I am right now. I may even like myself a little more, and maybe I’ll take off a couple of those Matryoshka Doll layers and get to know better the not so shiny and slightly cracked and broken parts of myself, because that is where the light gets in.