Taking A Breath On Sunday

I woke this morning with the old tiredness and shame wanting to settle over me. Dissatisfaction already pricking into my flesh, and irritation, like a strand of hair i can never get off of my face. I was up 3 or 4 times during the night, which makes it hard to wake up on the right side of the bed. I wonder how much it’s gonna hurt when i swing my legs out to the side and attempt standing.

I pull up my sleep mask to check the time and he’s there, of course. But he’s already awake, and i suspect, waiting for me to rouse. He puts his hand on my breast and says, Well, hello. He kisses me good morning, and his breath could knock over a bison at 50 yards, but it magically chases away all my demon companions. I wrap my arms around him and kiss him back. He asks and i answer, and everything is better than all right.

There’s thick cut bacon left from last Sunday, and burgers from last night’s barbecue. I decadently toast the buns in the leftover grease, and it is BBQ bacon burgers for breakfast. Pickles, fresh tomato, thinly sliced Spanish onion, 2 kinds of cheese, melted, and we wash it all down with orange juice and chocolate milk. Not at the same time. The boy joins us and we make plans for the day. I leave them to go into town alone; they’re making their way towards each other, and it happens faster and better without my “help.”

My body doesn’t hurt as much as it should, and i’m fully here. In the face and functional, yet not planning to do much of anything. Some cooking, some laundry, a walk later to gather cow poop for our flower garden and new raspberry bushes. I’m listening to Bowie and JJ Cale and The Velvet Underground as i write, the dogs sleeping contentedly beside me. The wind is kicking up, the crickets chirp and the gophers whistle. I can hear someone using some big machinery on the back forty. The headache that wants to come is dulled by birdsong and the smell of freshly cut grass.

May this post bring you some of the peace that i currently, blessedly feel.

Be as well as you can, today.

~H~

IMAGE: Marta Ortigosa

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~