Weddings Always Make Me Cry

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I was fortunate enough to be at the wedding of two truly amazing people yesterday. I have known the bride for years, as she is one of Devon’s core (Hard Core!) group of oldest, best friends. Her now-husband is an intelligent, quiet and thoughtful man who absolutely and whole heartedly loves her with every cell in his being. The feeling is mutual of course and though I know they have struggles, tough times, trying situations and all, I have every faith that they will grow old together, hold hands when they walk down the street, gaze into each other’s eyes like they are seeing them for the first time, every time. These two are hope for happiness, a shining example that True Love is alive and well, working its magic and giving glow to all those around them.

The wedding was a simple ceremony, but the collective love was so great, it created a wave that just flowed between each and every person there. It touched our hearts, tears of happiness and joy were shed, laughter rang out and strangers became friends; troubles forgotten for the time, just being in the world of these two wonderful people. This is the magic of love, that brings people together, wraps them in a powerful blanket stronger than steel, more valuable than gold. Like armor against a harsh world, their love is their power, their truth and their salvation. I know the challenges that Life can present are oftentimes enormous, but I believe that these two will meet whatever the encounter on the Road of Life with a strong faith in their love and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it through it. It makes my heart happy to see a gorgeous, confident woman looking absolutely radiant in her wedding dress and remember the young teenager that I first met so many years ago. I never gave birth to a daughter, but I have many daughters of my heart and she is the first.

So, I raise my cup of coffee and wish for you again for all the happiness your hearts can hold, all the sunrises your eyes can see and as much laughter as your body can bear.

Cheers!

 

 

Begin Again (Again)

Another year, another month in rehab; seems like this cycle never fails to repeat itself. Stress, depression, poor coping skills and ultimately, drinking. Drinking is not the origin of the problem, but the one that usually brings the issue to life in glorious Technicolor and Surround Sound. Learning who I am and why I do the things I do will more than likely be a lifetime project, but I am getting closer to my truths each time. How many times does one have to travel down a road before they recognize it leads to a destination that is not the one they want? How many times do I try again, only to fail? How many times can people be there for me, encourage me and help me when I just fall back to pieces again? Compassionate people have their limits and everyone has something they are battling, be it depression, simple unhappiness, a toxic relationship, addiction, avoidance and a painful past. The painful past doesn’t stay in the past; like a child coloring for the first time, it goes outside the lines of the past and bleeds into the present time, often without our knowing.

One of the things we learn in therapy is why we react the way we do to certain people, places and things (emotions can be included with things) and I am learning that my painful past is fully present in my present day. The strings that lead back to the original pain are like telephone wires, communicating and echoing the pain of the incident long ago. If I do nothing to cut those ties, heal those wounds and exorcise those demons, I will be destined to repeat this process over and over again, until I can fight no more or until I am dead and gone. This is not a post about blaming others for my past, but more to understand how the past is still manipulating my thoughts and with them, my emotional well-being. I have created a great deal of my painful past, simply by being a human being and trying to make myself happy, without having the understanding of how to create real happiness. Alcohol made me happy until it made me dangerous to myself and others; men made me happy until I realized the emotion I was feeling wasn’t happiness, but some ugly deformed cousin of happiness in which their happiness (supposedly) made me happy. The old saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” may be true, but it’s better to not pretend love when it’s lust you’re feeling. Not to confuse the two, which I have done for most of my life. If you’ve never felt true, unconditional and pure love from someone, how would you recognize it? The thrill of the love affair brings about emotions that could be mistaken for happiness, but I’m fairly certain that the formula for happiness does not include compromising ones morals or living in secret, experiencing alternating moments of bliss and shame. My life is what I have made it and will continue to be a mix of good and bad, but mostly what lies between the two. I am responsible for my happiness and my well-being. I am not responsible for everyone else on the planet, I cannot save anyone except possibly myself. Others may care, but their lives demand their time and attention, as it should be. The choices I have made in the past have led me to the place I am today as the choices I make today will lead me to tomorrow’s destination.

My painful past is not without its benefits, as pain is a sure sign of growth. I have learned how precious life is and how easily one (me) can believe that I am not worthy of such a precious gift and try to return it. I’m pretty sure God (or Buddha, or my Higher Power) doesn’t want me to take that gift and s**t all over it and return it to Him with a single finger salute. I’m pretty sure the idea is to live the life, to the best of my ability with whatever gifts and challenges that come with it; learn and grow, love and give, have and hold forever and ever. Understanding that to error is human and to forgive, divine is the formula and there is no pass or fail, there is only learning and growing. To love oneself seems simple enough, but for some of us, it is the most difficult challenge we face, every single day. So, I will begin again (again) and keep trying, keep learning and hopefully, ultimately, I will love myself as those of you who love me do. This is my wish and my most passionate prayer. For a life without love is no life at all.

BrotherWord-Love-Thyself

On Loss and Carrying On

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Today marks yet another anniversary of my dear friend JJ passing away and this year, the passing of other, more well-known people has added to the sense of loss. David Bowie, Prince and too many others to mention have left this earth and moved on but not without leaving an imprint on our hearts and in our souls. I will still hear songs by Bowie and Prince, just as I will replay conversations I’ve had with JJ. I still hear my father’s voice when I’m lost and seeking guidance and hear my mother’s voice when I’m doing something that I know would cause her concern and/or anxiety, so in that way, they live on because I will not forget. I will not let the sense of grief and loss keep me from living the life I know they all (well, maybe not specifically D.B. & Prince) would want me to. I believe strongly that we are all interconnected and the more I try to be solitary, aside from everyone else, the more I realize that’s not really possible. What my loved one goes through, I am emotionally right there by their side; when someone is angry and hurting, those feelings project out of them and I feel as though a barrage of emotionally-charged arrows are heading straight for me, like heat-seeking missiles. When I am with someone who is depressed, I cannot help but feel for them; I have been there, I know the way and I know how dark it becomes. I can tell myself it is their problem, their burden to bear and logically it is. But there is a voice that tells me that if I am able to help, I should. If I have a light to give this person to help them find their way through the darkness, how can I not offer it? If I bring happiness or even a temporary relief of a great burden or guilt, does that not benefit me as well?

Prince and David Bowie are part of the soundtrack of my life and they will call to mind the times I’ve had, good, bad and amazing with my friends, my family and you, my dear readers. I will do my best to cherish the good times and not let the loss overshadow the gifts that I’ve been given. When all else fails, I’ll put on their music and just dance.

That’s how I’ll get through this thing called life.

Breadcrumbs

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As most of you know by now, I am big into planning, strategizing, researching and in general getting deep into the details of whatever I am thinking/planning/dreaming about. I tend to get distracted easily, like a small child walking through the forest I find myself not looking where I am going but instead my gaze is cast toward the sky, the treetops and the falling snowflakes; I am so enthralled that I lose any sense of direction, purpose or mission. My attention flits to follow every shiny object, butterfly or even just random thought and as a result, I tend to find myself off course a great deal of the time. Knowing this and experiencing the frustration of trying to remember the exact location where I zigged when I should’ve zagged, I have gotten in the habit of leaving myself a trail of mental breadcrumbs to help me find my way back. Maybe it’s not even about adjusting course; often times it seems to be the realization that the destination I had in mind was just a work of fiction; like Never Never Land or some would say, heaven. This is a hard truth to bear and even more difficult if one has accepted that vision as truth and invested in that vision to the point of exclusion of almost everything else. I have 99 different ways to sabotage any chance at happiness but sometimes it’s simply a matter of unreal expectations, turning a blind eye to truths that may not fit with the vision in my mind. I don’t know if that’s due to human nature, a survival mechanism or just the desire to believe in happy endings or something altogether different, but I once again have strayed off the course and need to get back to the topic of getting back to where I need to be. There is nothing wrong with seeing the good in people and wanting to be a part of something greater than just oneself; however, I personally have a very difficult time setting aside my primary need for independence to allow that to happen. It’s not a trust issue, it’s a lack of desire to be dependent upon anyone else other than myself. I don’t want to need anyone. I want to stand alone, stand strong, but I’ll also stand by my man, stand up for what’s right and stand strong in solidarity with my sisters or brothers.

OK – see? A clear demonstration of me going completely off track. So, back to my breadcrumbs. I set a series of goals for myself and have a specific calendar that I keep those goals, dates and any notes that I have regarding the goal, etc. When I check in with that calendar, those dates are my breadcrumbs. I set a lot of goals upon my return from Scotland this summer and looking back, I have accomplished zero of those goals. I set new ones shortly afterwards and strangely enough, they have little to do with me personally; they are about finding new ways to live, to allow another person into the bubble that I live in, into my world. How to allow people be who they are, not take things so personally and in general, compromise. Nothing wrong with those goals as they are skills that every human being should possess, but the reason behind those goals is significant. Did I make those goals for me or did I make those goals with a specific person in mind? Am I once again trying to “become” what this person needs me to be? Or am I just trying to grow and get outside of my solitary circle of comfort? I don’t know. That’s the tough part. I do not ever want to make a change for someone else. I have done that in the past and it never works out well. I have to make changes for myself, understanding that everyone around me will also benefit because I will not be resentful or be motivated by guilt for having made a change I did not willing wish to make.

I have brought out a new calendar, with new goals and new thoughts to ponder along the journey. I feel strongly that everyone who is in my life is there for a reason and I value them for that and for the incredible human being they are (all my homies are incredible human beings) and celebrate what gifts they’ve given me throughout our time together. Some have been in my world longer than others and some have been to places in my world others have not, but the important thing is that even though I choose to be single, I am not alone. Even though I appear to be somewhat happy and well adjusted, I am mostly not. I am terrified of  many things, although spiders are not one of them. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past year, but I know I am never done learning. I have laughed, cried and raged and will value those memories for the lessons they imparted, the good times they brought and above all else, the people that rode the tsunami with me.

Xanadu

I’ve had a few rough (emotionally & mentally) days the last couple of days and whenever that happens, I tend to focus on things that I have no control over (I’ve posted on this many times) so when I found myself in that situation yesterday, I felt that desperate measures were required to get me out of the Rut of Negativity and Disenchantment, otherwise known as the State of Bleh. I turned my focus to my upcoming trip, to flights of fancy (Liam meeting me at the airport and sweeping me off my feet into a great big bear hug) and just being away from the day to day injustices and unfairness of Everyday Life in the Imperfect World that we live in. These daydreams (or whatever you choose to call them) were an integral part of my childhood and in my teens, I switched from daydreams to outright escape from reality, courtesy of my friends Drink and Drugs. Now that I am no longer a patron of these ne’er do wells, I have reactivated the creative, non-logical free spirited portion of my mind to allow the daydreams, the hopes, the wishes and the flights of fancy to once again stretch their gossamer wings and take flight, taking my burdens, cares and troubles with them. It worked so well when I was a child and now that I have a much more varied catalog of experiences, places and people, it works even better still.

So, Dear Liam, I am thankful for your easy smile, your height which makes me think of a giant oak, strong and protecting, providing shade from sun and shelter from storms. I think your arms must be like branches on those trees, cradling gently but with a strength that is unbreakable; even though none of these things may be true about you, I believe them, as I see these traits reflected in your roles, in your eyes and in who you are. So therefore, you are my Xanadu, my place beyond time and space, where I can be safe, loved, protected and adored. Thank you for that, Liam and thank you for not taking out a restraining order on me (yet!)

Kubla Khan
BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

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Perception and Passing

Scientists are sometimes pretty strange. They can be so engrossed in reality that they seem almost absent from it, as if they float above the Earth. That’s a bit how you feel about things, too, Sagittarius. You like to explain the world in your own special way, the way you see it and not necessarily the way it really is. That’s your secret. You know that no one else can see the world the way you do.

That’s my horoscope for today according to “glo” on msn.com. I like the thought but I believe that we all see the world in our own unique way, interpreting images and voices and sensory sensations. I always go back to that saying

Normal

I think our view of the world is much the same way; a hot, dry, sunny day in the 100’s for me is torture but for Sibling #3 (let’s just call him 3) it’s a picture perfect day, made to order just for him. I joke with him and say he must be part reptilian to enjoy such heat, but it’s his personal taste, his personal experience that makes the day good, not the day itself. The same way that I believe the high temperatures are at fault for my unhappiness and discomfort, I know that it is my refusal to adjust my belief that keeps me unhappy, not the weather itself. The very definition of insanity comes to mind – doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result; refusing to change ones ways, beliefs, attitudes but mourning their unhappiness is much the same, I believe. I cannot expect the world to stop rotating on its axis and time to stand still because I desire the quiet and the absence of the ticking clock to attempt to absorb and process the last few months. I cannot expect people on the street to not smile because I have lost my mother; the world cannot be shades of gray, the colors are still bright, the sky is still blue, the birds still sing and time marches on. What was in the past moves farther into it while the future unfurls itself slowly to me, showing me seemingly only what I am ready to see, what I will be able to get past my ego and my will to control everything I have no control over. I cannot expect the sun to stop shining, though there is a shadow on my heart; I cannot stop laughing for fear of minimizing the loss. I have to face forward, with the knowledge and strength this time has bestowed upon me, the experiences like beautiful gifts wrapped in roses with sharp, stabbing thorns. The pain is a part of the gift; it needs to break you down and empty your hands so that you may be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything, you control nothing and you are ready to accept the gift on terms that are not your own. That is when the growth happens, that is when the ego must recede into the shadows and allow the spirit to stretch and to reach up, seeking the light of enlightenment and the courage that only faith can bring. Love and loss walk hand in hand, along with life and death; we cannot ignore the loss but we cannot go before it is our time. I will move forward, drinking in the beauty of this world, the colors of the flowers, the laughter of little children, the song of the birds in the trees. I will pull from each day every bit of joy, happiness, gratitude and grace that it has to offer. I will live, really live, in the moment, in the eyes of another and with the love of my parents tucked safely away, deep in my heart where it glows and keeps me warm. I will live until I can live no more and then I will go quietly into the night, as I will know that it is my time to join them.
It’s always interesting to me the difference between what I think I’m going to write about and then what the finished product actually is. I love that about writing, but I hope it doesn’t make for a scattered post for you, my readers. Thanks for sticking with me and if you’re new, thanks for giving me your time and attention.
A Very Happy Friday to All!
MP

Foolish Me

 

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. –Chinese proverb

 

This weekend I experienced a painful reminder as to why I chose to distance myself from a couple who I can call friends, in the broadest sense of the term. I’m sure that most of you have encountered couples like these two; they are married, have a kid and seem to be making a good go of it, until they’re not.

Regardless of a reason, they have regularly scheduled Matrimonial Death Matches (Rounds 1 through 1 Million and counting), they go all out; screaming, blaming, throwing stuff, hitting and in general, tearing each other apart. That in itself is bad enough, but then they go outside their relationship and drag other people in, make them a part of the swirling mass of dysfunction and inability to take ownership of their part of the catastrophic event that is their relationship. Take sides, bash the other person (when they are not around to hear it or have the opportunity to respond to such poisonous barbs) but just when you think they are going to do everyone a favor and divorce, SURPRISE! They are back together, ready to work it out or even better, last week’s fight is a distant memory and now if you are the friend who agreed with those poisonous barbs, the other half of this Marriage from Hell is now angry with you for “taking HIS/HER side” and begins assaulting you with guilt-inducing declarations such as “I thought you were my FRIEND!” and “I TRUSTED YOU!! I thought you UNDERSTOOD how horrible/abusive/mean he/she is to me” and so on. Well, the reason why I’m putting you through all of this (assuming you’re still reading) is because about 5 years ago, I was the stupid person who was trying to befriend both parties and when they say that no good deed goes unpunished, I think of those times. Thankfully, I lived to regret every minute I spent with them. Fate finally smiled on me when I moved out of that neighborhood and out of their lives. Or so I thought.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I received a message from Mr. X, telling me that he had missed me all these years and wanted to meet up with me. Against my better judgment, I did meet up with him, had dinner, caught up on current events and found out that he was going through a separation from the little missus of about two weeks, at the time. At any rate, we met, we talked, we ate, no biggie. Until yesterday, when I received a message from Mrs. X, basically telling me that she had FOUND OUT about us. Seriously? OK, Nancy Drew – do tell. What exactly did you find out, all by your little self? That your husband is unhappy with you? Check. That the two of you are insane, in the clinical sense? Check. That you both can’t keep your toxic waste in your own little corner of Hell on Earth? Check.  I listened to her for about 30 minutes, until I began to realize that she was basically seeking a free “counseling” session, where she tells me her side of the sordid tale and I’m supposed to bash him and tell her she’s an angel for putting up with him as long as she has….yeah, that’s going to happen right after I get married to Liam Neeson….so, basically NEVER. (NOTE TO LIAM: I would marry you in a heartbeat, so in case you are interested, ignore the part where I said NEVER, just so we are clear). I wished her the best of luck with everything, asked her to please tell her husband to forget I ever lived, forget my number, my e-mail address and for her to do the same and NEVER contact me again. I then said a silent prayer for their child and hung up.

BAM! All at once, I realized (again) how incredibly toxic that couple is for me. Not saying that they aren’t good people, or they’re not loving parents; I don’t know if they are good, bad or indifferent, I just know that when I get around them, things tend to go badly for me. Much like the rescuer that gets pulled underwater by the drowning swimmer, my desire to save them is not strong enough to keep both of us above water. I walk away from conversations with them feeling like I have been drained of energy and happiness and in their place darkness and despair have taken up residence. Back in the day, I would wash those feelings away with a bottle or two of wine, but that’s no longer an option. It’s not a good feeling, especially when trying to stay away from alcohol and dark places in the mind. I know better than to ignore that voice that tells me to stay away, don’t answer the phone, don’t reply to that e-mail, etc. I guess sometimes I just need these painful reminders to keep me on track, keep me focused on me and remind me why when it comes to friends, I will choose quality over quantity any day. Better to have one true friend than 100 energy vampires, masquerading as friends, feeding off your good energy, your happiness and the rewards of years of hard work.

Like the proverb says, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. You won’t get a third chance.