Hey You. Yeah, YOU.

Hey You.

It’s been a while since i addressed you directly, but that doesn’t mean that i don’t think about you. I wonder after you just about every day.

I think about you a lot, because when you’re like me, it seems like you’re all alone. It seems like i’m the only crazy person i know. I mean, there are social misfits and weirdos aplenty – but crazies? Once i accepted myself for who i am, i was met with radio silence.

It’s not cool to be cuckoo. You can be weird if you’re a nerd or a geek; a certain amount of social awkwardness is a prerequisite for the label. And if you’re rich or famous or some sort of celebrity or great artist then you can be as off as you want to be… They’ll call you eccentric.

Usually there is someone, though. Someone who gets us, or at least they try to. Or maybe they don’t try and they merely accept that they don’t understand and that’s okay with them. Their lack of understanding is not an impediment to them being in a relationship of some kind with us. There are some out there. Sometimes only one, but often more than we think. Experience has taught me that i just have to get through those tough times when i can’t see. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean there’s no light. I know eventually the light will come. Maybe it’s just the cycle of light and dark, or maybe i’ve pulled down all the shades and just forgotten that i’ve done so. Maybe if i look hard enough i’ll see a dim glow seeping out around the edges…

But those of us who leave a trail of wreckage behind us: hospital stays and rides in police cars and enforced social service watchdogs and destroyed relationships…

You know, those of us who have done things that no one can make poetic.
Those of us who’ve been screwed up in ways not immortalised by some well-loved actor in an Oscar-worthy performance. Those of us who have a stink on us that we can’t shower away. When everyone you know for long enough -whether a minute or a year- knows that you are different. And not in the cool way.
For us, sometimes it is hard to see the light.

I want you to know that i’m thinking about you.

This is a hard time of year to be crazy. There’s family and expectations.
And family and expectations.
If you’re crazy and you’ve made it through any of these blasted holiday-gauntlets then i say Clap yourself on the back my brother/sister, because you are amazing!  This time of year turns solidly sane people into lunatics, so if you’re a whack job like me and still in one piece, congratulations.

And hey, if there’s some wreckage around you, it’s okay. Some broken relationships, some 911 calls, some final notices, some vicious rumours… If you’re still breathing, you’re winning. Even if you’re wearing a sweater with extra long arms that tie up in the back.

I know it’s about to get more intense. More family and more expectations.

I want you to know that you won’t be alone.
I’ll be thinking about you; wondering how you’re doing and if you’re all right.
Even if we’ve never met and i don’t know your name.

I don’t celebrate this time of year. I’m not religious. I’m not spiritual. I’m not going to church, i’m not opening presents, i’m not making obligatory family appearances.
I have no problem with anyone else being any or doing any those things, it’s just not me.

Whether you are or you aren’t doesn’t matter to me. What matters is, if you live with mental illness i want you to know that i’m thinking about you this holiday season. I know how hard it can be, and i just want you to know that you aren’t alone.

I have no step-by-step plan. I’m not selling anything, neither a belief system nor a product. I just want you to know that someone gives a shit about the real you. The you that doesn’t know what the fuck you’re doing, and the you who’s terrified that they’ll find out who you really are, and the you who’s so freaking tired of toeing the line, and the you who doesn’t even know who you are anymore, and the you who has NOTHING left to give, and the you who has never been yourself with another living person, and the you who is afraid all there is is this and all you’ll ever be is who others think you are…

I have been able to create a safe place, with safe people, where i live the life i choose.

Some of it took so much strength and commitment i should get a parade, and some of it was a beautiful fluke.
Regardless, i have this life now and i’ve been thinking about you a LOT. I know how hard this time of year can be, and i want you to know that i’m thinking about you right now.
I don’t have family obligations or company parties or peer group expectations.

I will be thinking about you and wondering if you’re okay and hoping that you’re all right.
So, if you have to be around people that make you feel things you don’t want to feel – i’ll be thinking about you.
If you’re spending the holidays alone and wish you weren’t – i’ll be thinking about you.
If circumstances have made it so you can’t be, do, or give what you’d have wanted to this holiday – i’ll be thinking about you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Hang in there, okay?

Lovelovelove and Peeeeace,

~H~

Tell Me Who You Are, And I’ll Believe You

“The real message is to accept your children,
and accept your friends,
and accept people for who they say that they are.”
~iO Tillet Wright

 The other day i found myself in a situation where i was able to see some good fruit come from a decision i made a while back.

 Some months ago, i decided to let people tell me who they are and what they think.
 What i mean is, i decided to stop trying to read people. No more guessing if they were being genuine or telling me the truth or representing themselves correctly.
 Through examining my life, and trying to be healthier and happier, one of the things i’ve learned is i can’t change anyone but myself. Over the years, i’ve been misjudged and misunderstood – i’m certain y’all have been as well. I’ve learned the hard lesson that i can’t make anyone think the way i want them to think about me. I can’t make anyone understand why i am the way i am and do the things i do.
 One day it occurred to me that the reverse is very likely also true.
 So i’ve stopped figuring people out.
 I was taught to read people, and i can usually do it fairly accurately – but so what?
My life isn’t constantly in danger anymore, so what does it benefit me to know that the smile i see on your face hides a seething hatred of me?

What good does it do either of us for me to notice the subtle, secret body language between you and someone i know damn well isn’t your spouse?

There’s a reason you’re playing your cards close to your chest, and it’s none of my business, or you would have told me.

There’s a reason you’re clearly lying and it’s none of my business, or you wouldn’t be lying to me.

And what about the times i’ve been wrong? People have been wrong about me, and i’ve been wrong about people. Not just a few times, either.

What good did it do me to know what you were really thinking or what you’re up to or who you really are behind closed doors?

Not much good at all. That smug feeling of superiority or having one over on you didn’t feel very good once i stopped caring so damn much about what YOU think of ME. In fact, it makes me feel like a shithead – and i think it SHOULD.

So i don’t do it anymore, and my life is a lot less stressful. It turns out some of the drama in my life was created by lil ole me. Heh. I’ve already got enough things to deal with, without creating any extra trouble.

I ask myself one question, though:

Could it hurt me to take them at their word and be wrong?

For instance, if a mechanic promises me he’s been working on my brakes all day and they’re perfect, but i get the distinct impression he’s lying due to his shifty eyes and the smell of whiskey – i’m going to address the potential lie because i have to drive home in that vehicle he was supposedly working on. I could get pretty hurt all right.

And hey, if you’ve got bruises again, and you tell me you ran into a door AGAIN, i may question you about that – because you’re my friend and if you’re in trouble and i don’t ask or offer help, that would hurt, too.

Other than that – i take you at face value.
You tell me what you want me to know about you.
I will believe what you tell me, unless i have an important reason not to. Still i won’t jump to conclusions without asking you.
You get to keep your private business private.
Like if i irritate the fuck out of you.
Or if you smile and make small talk to my face, and gossip about me when i’m not around.
I’m not close with very many people, so chances are you don’t owe me any personal stuff at all.
If i am close with you, i was never super nosy, but i’m even less so now. I want to know whatever you want to tell me, and that’s all.

I won’t take it personally if you keep something private and i find out later.

You tell me who you are, how you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking. I won’t be trying to second guess you. Even if i get the strong feeling that you’re lying to me, i’m gonna let it go.

I’ve been doing it for quite a while now, and it feels good and right.

Less drama, more peace. I like you better now, and hopefully it’ll be reciprocated.

If not – that’s your business, not mine.

Love and Peace,
~H~

The Mystical Power of the Ninja Mouth – PT. III

 

Definition of Ninja from the Urban Dictionary

The best thing about wilfully, purposely hermitting in my Little Crooked House has been the effect it’s had on my brain and my stress level. Slowly and steadily, the constant thrum of activity in there has slowed down. There’s not so much chatter. There have occasionally been moments that might qualify as silence. As i’ve tuned out local people and concerns i’ve been able to relax and slow down. I sleep better and my level of chronic pain has also decreased. I can focus on simple, daily tasks and keep to a reasonable schedule. I’m more engaged with my husband and my children, and connecting with them feels more natural and less forced. I’m less inclined to watch television and more apt to just listen to music. I feel safe. I feel better in my body and in my brain. I like how i look more than i have in years, and i move about inside my own skin more fluidly. I feel as if i’m the one sailing this ship.

It’s been a good opportunity to examine my thoughts and behaviours to assess how well they are or aren’t working for me. I judge them based on what i know about myself so far, what i want my life to be, and whether or not what i’m thinking and doing is helping me get there, based on results. It usually starts with noticing something in my life that is causing unhappiness or other negative fallout. For instance, going to large social gatherings. I wasn’t handling those situations very well, and through examining why, realised that both what i thought and how i acted needed extensive work. So that whole thing requires an overhaul and is currently in the shop.

My advanced ninja skills started with stepping away from people. If i couldn’t communicate the way i wanted to, then i wasn’t going to communicate at all. Just stop. Go back to the beginning and start fresh. Gather more information, relearn or unlearn or whatever works. I’ve known for some time now that i’m not the super-extrovert that i’d thought/been told i was. I wasn’t just alone a lot when i was growing up in order to escape, i was alone a lot because i liked being alone. And i still do, very much. I crave it, i seek it, and i’m certain that i need it, almost as much as food, water, breath, and sleep. I’m not sure where i fall on the spectrum now, but i’m far more introverted than i knew. I’ve learned something else about myself through spending more time alone, and that is i enjoy being quiet. Not saying anything at all. I feel calm and relaxed when i’m alone and not talking. It’s when my brain is quietest, too.

I decided to try taking a break from talking through my problems. I don’t currently have a “person” outside of my husband to process things with, so it’s been just him. I have my doctor and my therapist if i need them, but i just stopped using my husband as an outlet. Let me explain my reasoning behind this decision, because on the surface it may not sound like a great idea.

Once i decided to disclose my history, the floodgates were opened and i’ve talked non-stop for years now. I started out talking about everything that happened, and then i moved on to how i felt about what had happened. After that i had to talk about everything. I mean, i couldn’t let anything go. I needed to address everything that triggered memories of my past. If i was angry, i had to talk about it. If i was scared, i had to talk about it. I had to let all the voices in my head out.

For years i talked so much that it was maybe a bit like emesis vocalis. While purging years of pent up emotions and traumatic events, i think that somewhere along the way i became a bit of a nag. It started out with the big important stuff, but it had degraded to pointless bitching about all the things all the time. And i think it brought me down and coloured my outlook and dampened my mood. It never took much to bring that slowly simmering frustration to a full boil. And i pulled him down with me, to the point where any legitimate issues i may have had with him or the marriage, were lost in a roiling grey sea of riotous scribblings that covered every wall of our married life together. I’d worn him out as i’d done myself.

So i started letting go of small things. Little irritations that i knew didn’t matter, i just clamped my mouth shut and ordered myself not to speak about it. It led me to letting go of other things that i’d believed so much more important than they actually were. He was less stressed, not as grumpy and tired, and he appeared to be paying more attention to me. And when there was an issue between us that seriously required our attention as a couple, he heard me and we’ve been dealing with them as a team. I like myself better, and he does, too. He’s said so.

I wondered to myself if anything else in my life might be improved by talking less, and the answer is YES. In the same way that i needed to break out of the prison my childhood had built around me by being heard about how it hurt me, i needed to figure out who i was as a free human by talking about life, the universe, and everything. I needed to figure out what i thought about things rather than what i was told to think about things, and that involved having opinions. And i had opinions. Lots of them. I had opinions all over the place and everyone knew about them. I stressed and agonised and obsessed over every single one of them. When someone i liked had a different opinion than i did, it was terrifying and the result was more talking. Having a different opinion than someone i liked and/or respected and wanted them to like and/or respect me in return, triggered many reflex behaviours around safety and self-preservation.

I tried to handle differences of opinion in a variety of ways. I would sometimes act very gracious about it, but it was utterly disingenuous and i knew it before the words came out of my face. Other times i would counter them with what i imagined was a stunningly intellectual argument. In that instance in particular i know i alienated people and perhaps even belittled them, for which i’m now ashamed. And then there was the time i tried being a troll for a minute. I used to watch trolls with a glittering eye, wanting desperately to be like them. I know, i know – they’re assholes. I sort of knew that even back then, but i was attracted to their bravado, and that they appeared to give absolutely zero fucks what other people thought about them. I failed at trolling miserably though, because i’m not actually an asshole, and if that’s what it costs to be one, i’ll just stay off the porch and let the big dogs bark.

Here again, i just stopped talking. I have social media, and people i interact with there certainly know how i feel about a wide range of issues, but i see that as me. Like, if the internet was a gathering of actual people, my page is me. I want to be me in a group of people. What i don’t want is to plaster myself all over your page, as if to make you more like me. You’re not me. You’ve been born to the mother you were born to, and raised the way you were raised. You’ve made the choices you’ve made and you’re who you are. If i want acknowledgement -and even respect- for that myself, mustn’t i also give that to you?

Well absolutely i must.

So i do, and once again it has led me to more silence. Not a barely-restrained silence, pregnant with words left unspoken. It’s an easy quiet like a mid-spring morning; full of promise, but for what, no one’s certain. And no one cares, because it’s good and it’s simple and you can just BE in it.

I’m a retired Ninja now. I don’t spy on people, i don’t gather information on them, i don’t need to distract anyone from what’s really going on, and i refuse to be involved in the assasination of another human, in any way. I no longer hide within your ranks, i don’t work for anyone, nor am i for hire. The war ended a long time ago, and i’ve accepted that and now devote myself, as is the way of many former Ninjas, to tending my own garden and fixing broken pottery using gold.

END PIECE