Month: January 2017

No Regrets

Every story has a three things: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Some would say that every person has a story.

I like to think that every person is more like a really long series that doesn’t end until the author dies, and maybe, in some ways, even continues after that.

You see, in a series, there are many stories. Each one has it’s own beginning, middle, and end. Each has its conflicts and its resolutions; its love and its loss. In each of those stories, we learn a little more about the main character, and at the same time, the main character learns a little more about themselves. The trick is, we might not like some of the books in the series as much as others. As both the author and the main character, we sometimes feel like we wish we’d never written that story or that we had written it differently… But what if Harry Potter had the option to rewrite his own story? Would he have kept all the parts about Dobby before he knew the whole story? Or would he have written the house elf out after Dobby dropped the cake on Uncle Vernon’s company, so that he never met the little guy and never went on to their later adventures?

I’ve kept about a hundred different journals over the years. I am a ripper. I used to think that by removing the pages from the last chapter of my story, I would help myself move into the next, symbolically. Effectively, I would throw out book two in order to focus on book three, without ever looking back at all the awesome stuff I wrote in book two. I’ve lobotomized my story by ripping out the pages so many times that I probably contributed to the death of at least one small forest and probably several Gigs of blog data. Then one day, it clicked.

Every story teaches us what we need to know to understand the next.

Mind blowing, right?

No? Not really? Okay, fine. Sure, it sounds like common sense, but why do so many of us forget it all the time? We tell each other to ‘never look back’ and ‘just keep swimming’ and ‘keep looking ahead’. We encourage people to forget the past and focus on the future. All too often, these are the words we hear when the painful times fall on us. When the hard battles have been fought and we find ourselves lying in the wreckage of loss, maybe even defeat, wondering what comes next and often feeling like there is no hope for a future at all, that is when we get told to focus forward. So many people are just like I was and they try to cut away the past and ‘just move on’ and purge their life of reminders of the painful thing entirely. In its own way, that’s okay. It’s the forgetting that’s not. The regret can be crippling.

The thing is, all stories have endings. Some stories are longer than others. Some take longer to write. Some start slowly and end in a flash. Others start out like a whirlwind and then go on indefinitely. Many stories can be written in tandem, and each is special, and unique, however big or small. Some may be little more than expanded universe material, but others will take their place in the greater series that is The Tale of You.

I won’t lobotomize my story anymore. Things are changing for me, right now. One story is ending and others are just beginning. Endings hurt. They hurt like hell and they’re never easy. Sometimes the ending rips your heart apart and leaves you feeling truly defeated and hopeless. The beginnings, though… There’s always a sense of energy at a beginning. Sometimes it’s negative because the path is unknown or scary, and sometimes it’s positive, because the path ahead is bright and welcoming. Sometimes, it’s bittersweet, with a mixture of light and shadow that makes you curious and a little nervous all at once.

The point is, things end, but every ending means you’re just that much closer to the next great beginning. Without the knowledge from the last chapter, we wouldn’t be ready to face the next chapter. So many times when people meet new people who somehow change their lives, I hear the phrase “where were you X years ago?” The truth is, you wouldn’t have been ready for them X years ago. That goes for every question like this. “Why didn’t I do this before?” “Where was this when I was younger?” “Why didn’t I know better?” The answer is always the same: You simply weren’t ready. You hadn’t learned the lessons you needed or discovered the parts of you that needed to come out or made peace with the parts of you that couldn’t be accepted by others until you accepted them in yourself.

So yes, things end… and that just means you’re ready for the next great adventure, wiser and better prepared than ever before.

Hang on tight. This series is a long way from over, folks.

 

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Night Terrors

Terror in a whisper
A foolish borrowed fear
Dread I welcome into me
A future so unclear
This love is something different
Something special
Something new
It’s nothing like I’ve ever known
This love I have for you
This passion tears right through me
I need you deep inside
I long to have you near me
absence I cannot abide
But when the shadows twist and stretch
And stars light up the sky
There’s terror in a whisper
That might one day say ‘goodbye’

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Paging Dr. Chester

Good morning. Good night. Whatever you choose to say at 2:45 AM to the only other poor sap still awake waiting for the sky to fall.

 

I should have been asleep an hour ago. Unsurprisingly, I am very much awake. Everyone, I’d like you to say hello to our very special guest, “Anxiety”.

 

I have a great life. I have an abundance of love in my life, and people who make me feel like I’m special and wanted and needed. I have all my basic necessities and enough left over to have a little fun now and then. I have great dogs, warm blankets for winter, and an air conditioner for summer. I’ve got luxury livin’.

 

I’ve also got this guy: Anxiety.

 

For reasons unbeknownst to mere mortals, my brain, in all its infinite wisdom, invites this bastard over to play at the most inconvenient times, with no provocation whatsoever. Heavens forbid I attempt to just enjoy going out on a date or spend a while basking in the carefree company of loved ones. No, that’s when this guy shows up with a case of cut rate beer and a megaphone and starts drunkenly shouting lies from the roof and pissing in my begonias. It happens every time. This jackass is the kind of ‘friend’ that makes you want to call a better friend to help you bury the body when you’re done ‘expressing your opinion’ all over his hateful face. Unfortunately, he’s a pretty convincing liar and I am weak in the wee hours of the morning.

 

He tells lies like these:

“They don’t really love you.”

“You’re just convenient until someone better comes along.”

“You screwed up and they just haven’t noticed yet.”

“You’re a failure. Why do you bother?”

“Something big is about to blow up in your face.”

“Something is horribly wrong and the fallout is going to ruin your life.”

“They’re all going to leave you.”

 

Tonight’s special flavor is “You’ve done or said something horribly wrong and they’re just trying to figure out how to tell you to fuck off” and “you don’t deserve all this, it’s going to fall apart”. Well you know what? I’m done with this asshole. Logic and evidence, motherfucker! It’s time to get angry enough to kick this unwanted guest out of my head.

 

“You’ve done or said something horribly wrong and they’re just trying to figure out how to tell you to fuck off.”

Yeah, no. If that were true, why would they have kept saying such sweet things all day? Why would they keep reaching out to me and encouraging conversation if they were mad at me? More than either of these, they have a proven track record of just being honest about their feelings with me. No, it just doesn’t add up. I’ve not upset anyone in this way tonight. Anxiety: 0 Me: 1

 

“You don’t deserve all this and it’s going to fall apart.”

This one is trickier. My self-esteem supports this by frequently telling me I don’t deserve the love I receive. Well you know what, asshole? Read my last blog post!!! This is The Year of Infinite Love! Instead of listening to your ill-informed tirade on my unworthiness, I choose instead to love myself and to love the ones you try to convince me I don’t deserve. I do deserve love, just like everyone else. Anxiety: 0 Me: 2

 

The universe agrees, too! “Ever mind the rule of three, what you send out comes back to thee” ring any bells? How about simple Karma? I wear my heart on my sleeve and give out kindness wherever I can. I express my love at every opportunity. I send out love in many ways, so why the hell wouldn’t I deserve some reciprocation? Anxiety: 0 Me: 3

 

This is usually where I stop myself and say something along the along the lines of “damn, you sound self-absorbed and prideful.” Not this time. I’m not trying to say I’m perfect. I’m just saying that maybe the good things about me that people have been pointing out to me my whole life are true. Maybe I am too nice for my own good. Maybe I am a lover, not a fighter. Maybe I am kind, and gentle, and sweet. Refusing to accept these things and let myself receive love with gratitude suggests that some part of my brain believes the voices of these compliments to be liars. How unfair is that? No, I choose to respect the people in my world who say I’m worth loving. Anxiety: 0 Me: 4

 

Game. Set. Match.

 

This is life with clinically diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder. Small things look huge, nearly invisible flaws seem glaringly obvious, and small challenges look like insurmountable walls. The glance from the cashier checking your groceries is actually a glare of bitter judgement because you’re fat and bought ice cream. The silence from your friends or lovers isn’t because they’re busy or don’t have anything to say right now, but because they’re angry or upset with you. The dogs aren’t asking for attention because they secretly hate you. Your boss is just waiting for an excuse to fire you; don’t trust that welcoming smile. Worst of all, the moment things get too good for you, bad things will happen to ruin that high.

 

Sometimes using a coping mechanism like making lists of why the thoughts are wrong or writing in a journal or on a blog can help. Sometimes, Anxiety brings the professional grade super-powered megaphone and becomes too loud for a little sound reasoning to drown out. Occasionally, it’s so loud the brain just short circuits… that’s when the panic attacks happen.

 

Today, I think I’m winning with a bit of writing and reasoning. Tomorrow, I could find myself curled up in a dark corner desperately clutching my teddy bear as I bawl my eyes out, struggle to breathe, and beg for death. There’s always a chance, though, that tomorrow could find Anxiety so hungover that he sleeps for a week and I get to spend a little time freely enjoying life and trusting in the goodness of the world around me. This is the crap shoot of my life. I can never know when Anxiety is going to throw a Molotov cocktail into my glittering mood. A beautiful day full of words of comfort, love, and affection can go suddenly sideways with just a little nudge from Anxiety. It’s just something I get to live with.

 

What makes it better is that I am surrounded by supportive, patient, loving people who don’t hold my anxieties against me. People who will hold my hand and tell me the same things a million times if it will help me to believe that they love me. People who understand that sometimes the best doctor is Chester the Teddy Bear and the best medicine is silent snuggles; a cup of cocoa and a long talk about feelings; or a distracting movie or show. People who love me regardless of what Anxiety has to say about them or their motivations. You know who you are.

 

If you have someone with severe anxiety in your life, try and remember that sometimes even the most Vulcan logic cannot silence the ravings of this  unwelcome guest in our heads. We know it’s not easy for you to see us like this, or to understand how we can get so worked up over imagined scenarios or vague feelings of dread. We know it’s hard on you when we have panic attacks or when we ask for reassurance so often it’s annoying. We are grateful for all that you do to support us.

 

To my own support network, I want to say “Thank you.” Thank you for being so patient with me and for showing me that I am loved even when I feel like so many pounds of recycled rhinoceros dung. Thank you for loving me through the darkness and the fear and the uncertainty. Thank you for plugging in the night light and warming the cocoa and warding off the monsters in the closet. Thank you for holding me when I feel like I’m falling and letting me go when I feel like I’m suffocating. Thank you for the teddy bears and the warm blankets and the distracting movies and the gentle words.

 

Thank you.

 

Without you, I probably wouldn’t be alive today.

 

To all of you, I say goodnight. The voice of Anxiety is silenced for now. I’ve stolen the batteries for his megaphone and hidden them in the fish tank. Perhaps he will stay away for a little while this time. Perhaps now, I can sleep.

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The Year of Infinite Love

You ever take a risk, reap the reward, and then panic because now you have this amazing thing that you could lose and that would be totally devastating? No? Just me? Okay…

 

I took a big personal risk recently. The result is that now my life is about a zillion times better than it already was. Now, though, I have a zillion times more to lose if I screw up this amazing thing. I know, I shouldn’t borrow trouble. Someone tell that to my insomniac anxiety disorder, please and thank you.

 

Moving on…

 

My life keeps improving in leaps and bounds, lately. Sure, there’s some struggles still, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive and uplifting this year and let the trouble sort itself as the time comes. I have abundant love and joy in my life and for the first time in a very long while, I can really see it clearly. I’ve connected with who I really am and it’s completely changed my outlook. Beautiful things that were already in my life seem brighter than ever in the glow of all the positive changes, too.

 

This year is going to be good, I’m certain of it.

 

I love my life. I love the people in it. I am even learning to love myself. More than anything, I am learning that love, in all it’s forms, is not a finite resource.

 

Love is not always easy. It’s not always gentle or even friendly. Sometimes love means letting go of something or someone that you thought you couldn’t live without. Sometimes love is doing what must be done even when it hurts like hell. Sometimes, it’s holding tight no matter how hard the target of your love pulls away. Sometimes, it’s repeating the same words over and over until the listener believes your message of love. Love is “Hello” with a hug… and sometimes it’s “goodbye” with tears.

 

Love takes so many shapes. Hours long talks about the mysteries of the universe with a dear friend is no less a picture of love than spending whole days lost in your lover’s embrace. Love is no less because it is platonic or romantic, heterosexual or homosexual, monogamous or ethically non-monogamous, sexual or asexual, self-love or love for others… Love is magical, and intense, and diverse, and most of all, it is infinite and unique to every person.

 

This is the year in which I choose to embrace love in all its forms; the year in which I learn to love myself and to give freely of my love for others. This is the year that I make peace with the darker side of love; the love that lets go when it has to and fights when it must. This is the year in which love will be my guiding light through every struggle and my comfort through every storm. To every story there is a grain of truth, and the world is full of love stories and happy endings. It’s my turn for a happy ending. No… No, not a happy ending. A happy beginning!

 

I dub this officially The Year of Infinite Love. Let’s get this party started!

 

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