I lost a day somewhere in the ether where beer, getting old, and christian holidays mix together in a stew of oh, I don’t know, maybe a lot of bullshit?
I was thinking today about how I want to be liked by strangers. Not loved, not desired. Liked. As if my wellbeing depends on what some random piece of shit says to me. I feel guilty when slights occur, as if I have some kind of power over someone else to feel a certain way. I thought about this when a friend of mine got dragged very harshly by some people and I wanted to defend her, but short of saying that they were scum sucking sociopaths, I was stumped. Years ago, someone browbeat me in an online conversation that I was blindsided by and had no answer for, so I shut down. What I really wanted to do was go after the person with both fists and as many insults as I could hurl, but I didn’t.
It came to me that I was raised to be nice. Be nice. Be nice, put others first. Be nice, your wants don’t matter. Be nice, don’t hurt others’ feelings. Be nice, excuse others’ behavior.
I turned into a doormat. I turned into a pile of mush. I was weak-willed because of the constant admonition to be nice. I sincerely regret that I took that to heart. It caused me no end of trouble my whole life. I became someone I am not. Be nice.
I admired in a limited way, people who spoke for themselves, ever mindful when they would fall off the “nice” track. They were then bad, and therefore unworthy of my time or attention.
I see all this with a keen hindsight and no small amount of anger, but-no, I’m done being nice. I’m done excusing my shitty upbringing. I’m done dealing with other people’s arrogance because for sure, I’m not storing jewels for my crown in heaven. There is no passing grade. This is it.
This thing called life is it.
The aching blue mountain sky rips out my heart and wraps me in a cold cocoon of despair that cleanses the palate of platitudes and uncomfortably warm enclosed spaces because I loved you and I left you.
I left you in the orange sunset of a fall Sunday when your pain hard as plaque in my veins moved me to remove the source of your pain.
You surprised me. You moved in circles, you searched for yourself. You found yourself.
I am distantly happy that you found your place. As for me, I will move along like a lone pinball, ringing some bells and causing upheaval. I gave away my compass, my true north. I rejected the notion that love conquers all to find a misplaced noble sacrifice. Perhaps it was a coward that set you free. Perhaps it was not a martyr.
Where is the middle ground between my loving altogether in the whole sense
and walking an ascetic life?
It’s no accident gurus and crones are long in the tooth
It takes decades to learn anything in this life
Anything that is worth a damn, anyway
Those of us who claim to be forever youthful and therefore excused from
learning lessons and little grievings of maturity, mortality
whistle through the day with a jaunty tip of the cap and a nod in toasting
We, the orphaned children of Pan, we winking curmudgeons,
for us, there is no middle ground for anything
and I’m fucking grateful for that
If I were to tell you that my heart was putty in your hands
would you mold it to fit yours?
Or would you mash it flat, pound it into the table
drop it on the ground to pick up all the detritus
you walked through before?
If I were to tell you that I don’t know if I can get close
would you live and let live, trusting that I will find my way home?
Or would you get angry that you cannot possess all of me at once
On your terms?
Today, I put my second baby on Kindle. “21 Ways to Improve Your Life” .
It is a quick read that comes straight from me, no chaser, no footnotes, no quotes. I have a sometimes rude sense of humor and that shines through. I’ve decided that from now on, I am going to be intentional about writing and crafting. It’s what I love. I will never get rich or maybe not even support myself, but I will have fun doing it.
I don’t write about politics because it pisses me off so much. I want to keep the peace in my own head as much as possible. I may joke about generic political topics, but nah, nothing that would piss off anyone. I save that for Twitter.
I heard from someone on facebook the other day that referenced my high school years and expressed admiration for my confidence as an out lesbian at that time. I was grateful for the interaction and quite taken aback that my abject misery during those years went hidden from everyone. At 17, I felt like one big blob of hurt and anger and depression and hopelessness. I’ve done my best to forget those heartbreaking years. When I start remembering even a little bit of that time, anger starts flowing into the mental cracks and colors everything a lovely shade of black. I go back to practicing self-care as quickly as possible and eventually, the anger subsides. Perhaps the anger is a defense against a whole shitload of other emotions that lie underneath. Perhaps all the pain is stuffed in a mental garbage disposal that can only be cleaned out by turning it on and churning that shit right down the drain. And perhaps . . . Perhaps all those rotten things can be used as compost for growth. One day soon, I will look in there and start the process of turning all of it into a useful tool. Today, it’s enough to know that I control the process and random blasts from the past are more than welcome. Indeed, my gratitude for the woman who contacted me is immense. She helps me tease out good memories from the detritus, whether she knows it or not. Thank you, southern lady.
Is the inevitable question when we leave a store larger than a 7-11. It’s not dementia, it’s traumatic brain injury. This isn’t dementia talking, this is traumatic brain injury. It could be the result of stroke, motorcycle wreck, or an IED blowing apart a Humvee in Afghanistan. It’s misunderstood, taken too lightly, and exacts a toll on survivor and caregiver alike.
TBI survivors can be perceived as bitter, angry, stubborn, moody sons-of-bitches that just want to make everyone around them miserable. To this day, my sister cannot be in the same room as Mother, a stroke survivor, so she does the next best thing and pays Mom’s cable bill. Guilt alleviation by cash register. It’s often easier to write off the emotional storms as mere personality traits than it is to dig for the underlying causes. Sometimes, it’s not just pure meanness that TBI survivors exhibit: The vast dark spaces in their brains where old memories flit by and new ones refuse to form are enough to drive anyone batshit crazy.
Picture it. One day, you wake up and you intend to drive to work, but when you get in the car, you don’t know where to put the key, and in fact, you don’t know where you are going until you find your list with directions on how to get to work. Or you look in the refrigerator and don’t recognize any of the bottles, cans or food containers. Sure, you know what work is, and you know food is stored in the big cold box, but you can’t draw out what to do with any of it. Hundreds of everyday mundane actions can spell panic to a TBI survivor.
I am learning how to ask questions appropriately, how to approach situations delicately, and how to step in the do the necessary things without infringing on the survivors’ clinging to a sense of self when all is the unknown, even in their brains.