Author: Maddie

Never Surrender

Bella snoozing at the keyboard

It’s been a while… a long while.

The old me would take this opportunity to ‘cleanse’ the blog and move forward with a new chapter and a clean, fresh start. Maybe that would be good in some ways. I like to think I learn from my past, though, and how can I do that if every time I move to the next chapter, I rip out the last? No, I look back over the blog and with my older, wiser, more experienced eyes, I see growth. It all will stay, this time. The person I am today is built on the lessons of all my yesterdays.

As I write this, I am curled up on a big bed with several blankets, snuggled half under them and wrapped in an added layer of thick hoodie. One dog is snuggled up against my belly as close to my hands as she can get without being under my typing hands. She, Bella, will slowly inch her little nose up to the corner of my keyboard until she finally braves shoving my hand up to demand petting. I’ll pet her a moment, then she’ll be content enough to let me type a bit more before she repeats the process. Another of the dogs, Angel, is curled up at the foot of the bed, using my feet as a pillow. The cat, Willow, is curled up on my hip. Pandora is playing “Rather Be” quietly. Patchouli incense fills the air. The atmosphere is as upbeat and peaceful as I could hope. The only thing that could make it better would be if my beloved partner, ChessyCat, were home…

Her new schedule means I spend the evenings alone with my thoughts and whims. This isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but it is challenging. See, I struggle with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Even now, after finally giving myself permission to live genuinely and making leaps and bounds toward accepting myself just as I am, I still struggle with these old companions. Depression is the unwelcome pessimist at the party and Anxiety is my long time frienemy who whips me into a frothing panic over the most mundane and minor things under the guise of ‘protecting me’ whenever the mood strikes it. We have made great progress in the last year on improving our relationship, but there isn’t a relationship counselor alive that could convince Anxiety to leave me alone for good, and Depression won’t even go to the appointments.

That’s what brings me to the blog tonight. Look at that picture: snuggled up all warm and cozy with furbabies and music and incense and quietly singing wind chimes in the background… Picture perfect. It’s glorious. Last I spoke to ChessyCat she called and said she loves me and made me feel special just by taking the time on her break to speak to me. I still get hugs before bed from MaRoo and I’m not totally alone in the house by any measure. I have a good life right now. Money is tight sometimes, of course, but when isn’t it? I still have a car and home and job. What the hell do I have to be depressed or anxious about? I’ve tackled this before on this blog, but it comes back around enough that I feel it bears repeating…

Depression doesn’t care. Depression and Anxiety both lie. Neither gives a damn how good your life is or how great you’ve got it, they will attack whenever they please. Anxiety will latch onto the tiniest doubt and make it into something so much worse than it really is. Depression will cast a shadow over the brightest circumstance.

For example: ChessyCat calls me on her lunch break every day. She was late, today. LogicBrain knows perfectly well that her break times shift depending on the work load. LogicBrain knows that when we spoke at her first break, she said bright things including “I love you” and “I miss you.” LogicBrain knows the score… Anxiety, though? She’s not been late once since she started this job. Anxiety points out that I forgot to scoop the litter box in the morning and I didn’t wash that pan last night, so she must be mad at me. Anxiety capitalizes on this completely mundane delay in a phone call to try and work me into a froth of panic over something that has nothing to do with any flaw or mistake on my part at all. Anxiety is narcissistic. Everything is about Anxiety and me. Anything can become my fault, even if it’s not. Depression then feeds off the awful feelings the panic creates and it all spirals out of control if I don’t manage to get a handle on it early.

The thing that I have been working on the hardest in this respect is giving myself permission to feel these things. I don’t mean that I am allowing myself to fall victim willingly to the sick mind games of Anxiety and Depression and wallow in the resulting pain and distress. More accurately, I am learning to give myself permission to be broken. I am learning to accept that I am damaged goods and that being such doesn’t mean that I am not still valuable and worthy. Turning around on myself and telling myself I have no right to feel anxious or depressed because my life is good and there’s no reason just feeds these persistent moochers in my mind. Denying the negative feelings’ existence prevents proper processing of those feelings. Shaming myself for feeling the negative feelings adds guilt to the pile of unpleasantness my brain is gleefully assembling against me.

Anxiety and Depression have been feeding off of my distress in my weakest moments for most of my life and no matter how much I try to starve them, they will never go away for good. Accepting this fact does not mean I am accepting defeat; rather, it means that I am acknowledging the flaws in my design and learning to compensate for them. We are all flawed. We are, by nature, imperfect beings. Were we perfect, we wouldn’t be human. We are beautifully broken… perfectly imperfect.

Tonight, I won. LogicBrain gave the reasonable and sensible arguments against my anxiety and I was able to engage my coping mechanisms swiftly and to great effect before things spiraled out of control inside my head. Nights like tonight, I can stack the deck in my favor by seeking companionship where I can or isolating myself until the nerves settle, snuggling the furbabies, playing uplifting or calming music, and generally engaging every coping mechanism I have until the psychic attack is over.

Sometimes I lose. Sometimes Anxiety is a ninja, so subtle and clever that I never have a chance to sound the red alert before it’s too late. Depression slips in right behind it and disables engineering so I can’t engage the warp core and escape. These are the nights that find me hiding behind a collar, crying quietly in the dark, longing for the comfort of a sharp blade or a cigarette, and questioning if the world wouldn’t be better without me in it.

That’s okay. No one wins every time. Each time I lose, I make it to the other side knowing that next time I might win. Mine is a life of constant vigilance against a foe that exists in my own head with me. I accept this. I accept that I may struggle. I accept that I am not perfect.

I will not ever accept defeat.

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Changes

When last we met, I spoke vaguely of endings and beginnings taking place in my life… Change. There’s that word… “Change”. Change is a funny thing. It is the essence of inconsistency and yet seems to be the only real ‘constant’ in life. Everything is always changing around us, even our own identity and self-image. Sometimes we set out to create change, and other times it is thrust upon us. Sometimes change is pleasant. Other times it is decidedly unpleasant. More often than not, it’s a bit of both.

The really big changes always come with debris and dust. Usually, one big change reveals the need for several other changes that might be just as big, and each of those changes might unveil the need for a small catalogue of other changes. The result is that it feels like big changes always come in clusters or storms.

This last few months has been one of those storms and I think I’m finally ready to start talking about it. The dust is starting to settle and I can think clearly, now. I promised never to shy away from the big stuff here and to always tell the truth, so here goes nothing.

Let’s get the big bombs out of the way right now:

First, my marriage is over. Kazi and I are still friends, but romantically are going our own ways.

Second, this is largely due to the fact that I am quite thoroughly, no-longer-deniably, fabulously, (and finally proudly) gay.

There were other factors in our demise, but honestly, even I have limits to what I’ll throw online for the world to chew on, so let’s focus on my major role in the ending and leave it at that.

The most frequent question I’m encountering is ‘Why?’ This question often comes from people who knew me when I was with my first love, a woman I spent ten years with before we went our separate ways and I wound up with Kazi. That question is best answered by looking at what happened in my head when things ended with my former wife.

When she and I split, I was broken. I was scared. I felt completely alone. I believed my blood family wouldn’t accept me, especially after all I’d put them through in the name of being with her, and I was questioning everything about myself, my identity, and even doubting my own perceptions of myself and my emotions.

So I ran.

I ran so far away from everything that was my life with her that I completely erased the person I was in favor of the person I thought people wanted around. I cast away my spirituality, my sexuality, and many of my core beliefs in favor of taking up the mantle of what I thought the people I wanted in my life would want from me. I was convinced I’d just been confused; that I hadn’t been a lesbian, I’d just happened to fall in love with my best friend. I convinced myself to go back to Church. I began seeing a man, a friend of several years who was kind and needed me as much as I needed him at the time. We were both fragile and desperate not to see the red flags. My heart did love him… just not the way he needed in the end.

See, my first encounter with anything remotely LGBT was my mom asking me angrily, “Are you a lesbian?!” before I even knew what the term meant. Sensing that to be a bad thing from her tone, I said “No!” It would be six more years before I learned otherwise. Then, I would make a huge mess of coming out, make some even bigger miscalculations regarding my gender identity, burn a lot of emotional bridges, and generally wreck a lot of things on the way to figuring myself out. When I left the woman who so thoroughly contributed to the twisting of my heart and mind (for reasons unrelated to this search for my identity that I will not get into here for her privacy as much as my own) I was certain I wouldn’t be welcome home and wondered honestly if the ones who’d told me I was wrong and our love was wrong and she was wrong for me hadn’t been right all along…. I doubted myself and all that I believed in.

All of this is pretty typical of the world we live in. True, it’s a lot easier to be gay now than it was ten or twenty years ago, but there’s still an abundance of sources telling us that we’re wrong, sick, confused, sinners, abominations, or otherwise not acceptable in civil society. There are still families where coming out is the single most dangerous choice a person can make. There’s still so many reasons why anyone who flies the rainbow flag, so to speak, should be nervous about being identified as LGBT+ in public, even in the most progressive of places. A thousand allies telling you you’re wonderful are great, but it only takes one violent homophobe to end a life and we live with that fact every day…

…and sometimes we are weak…

… I was weak.

In all the fear and self doubt, I went into denial. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I just listened to the little voices in my head that told me I had been wrong, I’d ‘chosen’ the wrong ‘lifestyle’, and that I wasn’t ‘that person’ anymore. I listened to the voices that said I could change and ‘go straight’ like it’s some kind of switch you can flip. I told myself I’d ‘get better’, like it was some kind of disease. All the while, this very sweet and kind-hearted man was courting me and I believed in ‘us’. It was rational, logical, and emotionally felt pretty good for a long while. Every step deeper into that relationship sent me deeper into denial of my buried needs and desires. I fell victim to my fears and truly convinced myself that I was this other person…. this Socially Acceptable Me who loved who they said she should and believed what they said she should and said the right lines at the right times to keep all the sensitive types happy in their assumptions that she completely ‘fit in.’

There were signs. There are always signs, when your mind and heart are creating cognitive dissonance. Grossly mismatched libidos, imbalanced affection thresholds, imbalanced emotional investments… There were always easier explanations than the truth.

“Stress causes loss of sex drive in lots of people.”

“Your grieving the loss of your mother, of course you are distracted and disinterested.”

“You’re struggling with mental illness, it can do that.”

“Maybe it’s the medications causing it.”

“You just discovered you’re functionally infertile and raising kids was a dream of yours, of course you don’t want to be intimate.”

I was never as affectionate as he was, sexually or casually. I told myself I had always been less touchy and emotionally ‘clingy’ than most people. We always thought of reasons… neither of us wanted to consider the alternative.

I won’t get into the details of how exactly I learned otherwise. It’s a privacy thing. I will only say that no, I never cheated on him, nor he on me. We never broke trust.

I did discover it, though. A falsehood that you believe is true is, to your mind, truth. Once the falseness of the belief is revealed, though, continuing to claim the newly revealed falsehood is a willful choice to perpetuate what you now know to be a lie. Once I knew…. once I realized what I’d done…. that who I was and how I loved wasn’t something I could choose or change just because the reality of it scared me…. once I knew, I could not lie. Once my perceived truth was unmasked, I could not perpetuate the story I now knew to be false.

It wasn’t easy. We are still working through it, in some ways. He says he doesn’t blame me or hold it against me. We are making peace with our other issues, as well. We are both healing. We are friends, still.

So that’s where we stand. My Second Coming Out hasn’t exactly been easy, but it sure as hell could have been worse. I’ve learned that change can hurt like hell and that forcing change on yourself to try and be something else for someone else simply doesn’t work in the long run. The masks start to chafe and eventually, no matter how hard you have come to believe the ‘alternative facts’ you’ve built for yourself, the truth will make itself known to you and then you have to decide what you’re going to do with that truth.

So there’s the ‘why’. I was a terrified, lonely, lost person who tried to hide from her own truth in a desperate plea for acceptance. It was never malicious. There was no clear, conscious decision to ‘marry a man and go into hiding’. It was denial, so complete and devouring that I truly believed it, for a long while. It ate away at me, because even in denial that deep, the subconscious mind knows itself and its truth and it will fight to make that truth known. It contributed to my severe depression and frequent suicidal ideation, over time, even before I was able to put my finger on the real problem. Malicious or not, denying my own identity caused pain for all involved. I have faced that, owned up to that, and been forgiven for it.

The ‘what now’ is the other big question I get regarding all of this.

The future is a big, scary, uncertain thing. I’m not so scared of it, these days, though. I’ve seen more struggles, both of my own making and by outside sources, in my life than some people see in a lifetime and there’s just not too much left that scares me. Giving myself permission to be myself and love myself and be proud of who I am has made a world of positive difference for me in so many ways.

There is a woman in my life that I hope to spend a very, very, very long time with. I love her with all that I am and she loves me. She accepts me just as I am, even as I am still in the infancy of rediscovering all of myself that I had locked away and tried to destroy. We’ve had a confusing and sometimes rough go of life the past couple of months with many changes neither of us expected or even wanted in some cases, but our relationship has only grown stronger through it all. I’m saddened, at times, by all that we each have lost and struggled with and the hurts it has born for us and those we were close to, but I simply cannot regret the love we share.

Never again will I apologize for or try to deny who and how I love, for any reason or any person(s). Never again will I bend myself into grotesque contortions to try and be what someone else wants me to be at the expense of my very identity. Never again will I apologize for being genuinely 100% me, in all my weird, random, slightly crazy, intensely passionate, deeply spiritual, completely geeky, sapphic glory.

I have not shared this, today, to try and explain myself to some imaginary judge or make excuses. I share this for the same reason I share any of my tales… in the hopes that someone else might learn from my journey, or realize that they are not alone.

I share this also in the hopes of illuminating an unpleasant truth: these things still happen. Hardly a week ago I heard someone say that they couldn’t believe ‘things like that’ still happened in our ‘post marriage equality’ world upon hearing about a girl kicked out of her home for coming out as a lesbian to her parents. I managed not to laugh bitterly at the speaker, but it was a challenge and a testament to the strength of my will.

‘Things like that’ are still happening, every day. Even as we make leaps and bounds toward equality all over the world, we still have a disproportionately large percentage of youth homeless on the streets strictly because their families couldn’t accept that they were gay, bi, trans, genderfluid… There are still parts of this country where adults are just as frightened as youth about being outed because they fear violent repercussions from their neighbors or even their own blood. There are still places in this world where being gay is punishable by death. There is still a veil of uncertainty around supposed safe spaces due to the fear that our sanctuaries might be next on the nightly news as a bloody tragedy with a heartbreaking body count. People still try so hard to suppress their sexuality that they lead convincing lives, passing for straight, sometimes for years or even decades, because of the abundance of hatred and fear mongering still rampant in our world.

“This kind of thing” will continue to happen so long as we continue to allow homophobia to be socially acceptable, anywhere. So long as ‘gay’ is still synonymous with ‘bad’ and ‘gross’; so long as ‘dyke’ remains a hateful insult to any girl that doesn’t act feminine enough for another’s tastes; so long as people remain silent while LGBT people are bullied, abused, and killed (directly or indirectly through suicide) ‘this kind of thing’ will continue to happen. Yes, it’s getting better, and easier to be gay in many countries, but we have a long way to go yet.

So yeah, maybe this post ends with a bit of a sermon, but it’s my blog and I’ll preach if I want to. I will never again be silent. I will never again apologize for my love. I will never again stand quietly by while my people are abused, bullied, murdered, or demeaned. I promise not to make every future post a sermon about LGBT rights. I’m too ADD for that anyway. I will never be quiet, though. I will never hide myself or my light again. I’ve found my voice, at last, and I intend to use it.

 

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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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Skin Deep

Beautiful
This word I find
So very hard to swallow

When I feel
More like a pig
All sunken in its wallow

When I look
In the mirror
I do not see the beauty

I just see
Fat and ugly
Is Staring back out at me

But they say
I’m beautiful
Again again and again

Maybe I
Must soon accept
The words that they have spoken

Maybe what
It is that I
Am, in the mirror, seeing

Is not true
And only is
What I’m afraid of being

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Silence

Alone inside my head
Voices keep me company
They tell me what a fool I am
To think they’d ever comfort me

Alone inside my mind
Voices yelling in my brain
Telling me just how much I suck
My failures they’ll gladly explain

Alone in the night
Voices cannot touch me now
I’ve killed them all and burned the bodies
Free from the voices. Ask me how.

Alone in my glen
Voice of water sings to me
Hope is all that I feel tonight
At long last, I’m finally free

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Invisible

It’s just a fact that I am fat.

I know it’s true; it’s where I’m at.

I’m trying hard to shed the pounds,

But cruelty in my head resounds.

“Skip a meal or two, fat bitch!”

These words flip a painful switch.

Hate comes from inside and out

All because I’m rather stout.

But I will fight, no matter what,

To rid myself of this big gut,

And when I do, they all will see

That there is so much more to me

Than rolls and blubber; fat and skin.

The world will see me, when I’m thin

Until then, I’m invisible?

Perhaps, but not invincible.

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