War Paint


 

 

It may seem to you that I am weak in my beliefs because I don’t scream them out at the top of my lungs in defiance of the world. You don’t see your roars and ravings blowing past me like a hot breeze through my hair as I stand quietly in the truths I know.

You think me shallow in my support of those I love because I don’t rant and belittle others in a public display in some kind of show of solidarity. Your eyes don’t see how I quietly remove their fractured foundations from beneath them to let them crumble into their own foolishness.

You see my kindness and compassion as a flaw of selfishness given out to the world to make myself look good, or feel better about who I am. You see my generosity of heart as a character flaw of pandering to my own ego; my desire to hold and love and heal the hurts where I can as nothing but a big show. You see my joy in giving as an attempt to purchase love where none is offered, my reaching out as a request for validation.

After all this time. You don’t know me, darling. You just wish you did.

Your words fall harmlessly away from my heart, causing me none of the damage you hoped to inflict. Your opinion of me is regretful, but not something to cause me a moment’s wavering from who I know I am. You are a damaged, deceitful mess. You are a legend in your own mind, playing out a story you’ve written where you are the star, and the rest of us merely supporting characters.

You do not see me. You never have. Any description you give of me would be met with blank stares and astonishment from those who love me and know me well. You are not one of those few. You are not capable of it. After all this time.

I will admit to stepping back, diminishing myself to make room for you, adjusting who I was to make you more comfortable. Therein lies my weakness. Neither one of us deserved that. If I had allowed myself to remain, what kind of person would you have become? That is my second regret. The first one is that I diminished myself at all. I made myself quiet and less and vague. I quit speaking freely. I stopped sharing who I was. I shut myself down due to lack of interest. The most important being my own.

This is not your story anymore, baby. This is mine. Feel free to go ride in your own rodeo, I’m not buying any tickets this time around. You’re so good at showing the world your war face. You thump your chest and shout and decree how the world should be. It’s quite a sight to see, especially from the front row.

Unfortunately for you my love, I’m no longer in the building.

I’m just a little busy shaking off the paralysis that comes from teaching myself not to give a shit about what’s happening around me. I’ve got a lot going on with this remembering how to breathe, speak and laugh freely whenever I choose. I’m really tied up right now with kicking my own ass for wasting so much of my time on someone who didn’t really want it anyway. The joke’s on me, and thank god I’m still alive to laugh about it. I will always laugh about it, because that’s the point where my vision clears and my heart beats strongly and my mind is wide open to possibility.

Thank god I didn’t lose my sense of humor when my common sense veered left of center.

You think yourself a great warrior. A veteran of life’s battles. A person of integrity in a sea of wasted humanity. I see you. You hate it that I do. That’s very sad for both of us.

But I can own my shit, recalibrate and live an amazing life.

I thank you for the lessons learned. I would not have appreciated what I have now, and expect to have in the future, if not for each and every moment of sorrow I chose until I learned enough to choose differently. The smile in my eyes and the laughter in my heart?

That is my war paint. See it and weep.

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The Attitude


It doesn’t bother me that you fear me

beneath the mask you wear

or that you edge back

ever so slowly

hoping I won’t notice,

but I do.

The smile you see

on my face is just an

acknowledgment

of your wisdom in knowing

that you are not one of

the ones.

You mistakenly believe

that I’m looking

for someone to ride in

and save me

but darling,

I don’t need saving.

I am the personification

of the destruction needed

so the flowers can bloom

in the clearing created

by the fire.

It doesn’t bother me

that you don’t understand me,

that you think I’m still

searching

for something you believe

I need.

I don’t need to convince you

otherwise

because I know my own

truth.

I hold it sacred.

There is no “one”

to fill my life with magic,

it is my honor

to fill myself and in time

share all of me

with the like-minded “Ones”

on a mission to save themselves

from the mockery

of lives too weak and wasted.

It doesn’t bother me

to see you run

in a panic of knowing

that what I am will overwhelm you

and make you feel small,

that is not my cross to bear

that is your ghost

your phantom

your fear.

I search only

for the Ones who will stand

in the midst of the destruction with me

Bleeding love,

and quivering

with attitude…

Tough and terrified

determined to feel

and breathe

and be.

Like me.

Live And Learn


 

 

The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.

~Attributed to multiple sources

If you are very lucky, as I have been, you will meet someone who changes your life just by the experience of knowing them. There are some whose paths you may cross, as I have experienced, that create a pivotal point in your life. You may then choose to become, as I have done, a force to be reckoned with in your own life based on the wisdom gained from opening your mind to the life of someone uniquely special to you.

This is a time in my life like none other that has come before. I have been gifted with a friendship of unequalled value to me that has changed the way I see everything. Everything. In a very short time, I have accepted the truth of the frailty of life. The fleetingness of the time I have here is highlighted in technicolor. The importance of every relationship I have carries a greater weight than ever before, and the heaviness of those I matter little to is simply a burden to be laid aside on the road to honest living.

I have learned many things this past year. Each lesson is a painful treasure to me and I refuse to hoard any of them, thereby lessening their value. Each one thus far is a game-changer for me, but we are all different so do with them as you will.

I know that I have to live in such a way as to breathe freely and be myself. I have to be able to laugh as frequently and as loudly as I wish. I will not stop myself from stepping outside and opening my arms wide and letting all the joy shine out of me. I’ll dance and sing when I want to no matter how badly I suck at it. I will cry over things that hurt my heart, although I’ve learned it’s self-serving to do so at the expense of another’s need to be strong.

I’ve learned I can honor another’s strength better at times by respecting it, saving my personal need to grieve for when it does no disservice to their courage.

I have learned that my heart feels safe when I can trust that someone will be honest with me. When someone respects me enough to tell me when I’ve hurt them, and by god what they expect me to do about it. I trust the heart that will body slam my ego to the floor and let me know that they love me, but my bullshit is just not working. I trust those who don’t walk when things get ugly because their commitment is stronger than the monsters life can sometimes bring to my door.

I’ve learned to do things that I’m afraid of because each action makes me stronger. I’ve learned to say I love you, I forgive you and I’m grateful for all the parts of you that you bring to the table. I’ve learned to embrace new things, to learn new things and by doing so I become something new and beautiful myself.

This is my ever-evolving story. I swear to you I learn something new every day, and it’s magnificent to me no matter how trivial the wisdom gleaned from the knowledge. I’ll admit that sometimes I get tired of the learning and want to whine  just a little for the rainbows and butterflies world I tried to see around me before I felt the gut impact of what a raw and real life feels like.

It’s liberating.

I’ve learned that any form of abuse is powerless against my knowledge of myself. That as long as I hold myself with grace under such fire, I am total teflon. It thrills me to feel the utter lack of impact another’s opinion has on me when I know my own heart. No one can talk down to me, belittle me or insult me when I just don’t accept it, and may it be returned to them times three.

No one can make me feel small when my heart is larger than their tiny minds. No one can put me down when I refuse to stay there. No one can take from me what I gained by being afraid and acting anyway. Even pointing out my mistakes with gleeful viciousness means nothing when I know how to rock every one of them into making me a better person than just a moment ago.

People are precious. Some are downright gifts from the universe itself, you just have to be clear-sighted and open-hearted to know when they stand before you. I am. I know. I value those who guard my heart when I’m too foolish to do so. Sometimes I still wander into rainbow and butterfly land where all is pretty, but not for long.

Give me the foundation of truth to build a life worth living no matter how long or short the time given. The very first lesson I truly learned from such a friend was that I would rather live a short time living a life with my heart lifted than a long time with a spirit broken.

But I speak only for myself.

 

 

 

 

The Perception Of Truth


 

 

While I do agree that all of us have a different perspective on things, there are times when I look inward to find the truth of a matter. There are times when someone’s perception of me is so totally opposed to what I see as the truth that I have to stop and take a good hard look at what I’m doing, and how I’m sharing it with others.

I’ve made some major changes in my life recently that will affect the lives of others for a long time. They’ve been a long time coming, much feared and thought over and extremely traumatic to put into play. I have done my best so far to own my part in every negative situation, even though at times it did have to be force fed down my throat for me to consider it. It is really easy to blame others and to portray myself as a victim of circumstance that triumphs in the face of the greatest odds.

A friend recently commented that when I write, it is as if I have it all together. I have all the answers and am on top of the game. I’ll admit to being totally taken aback by this and began to wonder if I’d been misrepresenting myself in some way in my writing. If I have done so, it has not been intentionally. It’s not easy to admit that I am responsible for where I’ve been and where I am now, but I have tried to do so.

My earlier writings were, I freely admit, whiny and self-serving. I did see myself as a victim and my writing freed things that needed to be brought out and taken to the trash. I believe writing cleanses and heals the heart. It has helped me survive my own mistakes and have the courage to attempt to correct them to the best of my ability.

At some point in time, the words I wrote became a love letter to myself. Not a guru-driven directive for the masses. Not too long ago, one of my best friends said to me, “Now you will finally be the woman you write about”. It brought tears to my eyes to know that she saw that. I told her honestly that all those stories and articles had been written to me. I was trying to save myself. She simply said, “I know”. That’s what best friends do. They know.

I don’t know how to write any differently than the words that come from my heart at any given time. Tomorrow, I won’t write with the same heart as I do today. I hope that is always true so that I can see myself growing in everything I write, whether it be about my own life or something I see in the lives of others. I don’t mind saying I’m a screwed up mess from time to time because that means I’m doing something other than refusing to try and fail. I don’t mind admitting I’m not perfect in any way because, really? What a  relief that is to give that up.

I have a lot of work to do on myself. I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve disappointed a lot of people. I can live with that. There are those who will never really see me, and as heart-breaking as that will eventually be, I will live with that too. All I have to do is see myself clearly, pick the most alive path I can find for myself, and take that one. No matter how goddamn hard it looks.

How I am perceived beyond that is the responsibility of the eyes of the heart. I have no control over that. One of my favorite authors wrote a piece that sums this up with a beautiful clarity:

What you eventually realize is some people won’t ever see your heart even when you show it to them. It is then you’ll understand, they’re still searching for their own.

~Michael Xavier

I have this piece hanging on my wall to remind me.

 

Stand By Me


 

 

Is there anything that carries more weight with the human heart than knowing someone exists that has their back no matter what? If there is, I don’t know or acknowledge it. I have lived this long with love and friendships that have been, with a few important exceptions, tepid and surface deep. Those who are the foundation of me know who they are, and I value them above all others.

There is something primal and all encompassing about finding those few rare gems that sparkle in the depths of my heart like a darkly burning sun. They have my back. They will stay no matter what. Nothing of who I am scares them, or deters them from the living and active love they have for me. I can share my weaknesses and pain with them and they are unimpressed with my drivel.

These phenomenal characters feed my soul, and light my way as I struggle to stand and move forward on an as yet undiscovered pathway into my future. They are junk yard dogs willing to break the leash of civilization if need be to ensure my safe passage into unchartered waters. I adore them, and they command my unwavering devotion. They are a powerful few, an irresistible force of loyalty and strength that I will always honor and appreciate.

Those who are still standing when the weeping is over and the inner screaming finally quiets are the ones I will go to the wall to protect and defend from anyone foolish enough to cause them harm. I will burn the building, knock the walls down and help them hide the bodies. I hold no shame for that statement of fact. When I am afraid, and I reach my hand back blindly hoping that I’m not alone, they grip my hand with a resolution that steadies my soul and eases the barbed wire cutting into my heart.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for these few who save my soul and hold a place of sanity for me when I have no hope of holding onto my own. My heart is a strong and overwhelming thing that I find hard to contain, and I don’t blame those not strong or vested enough in what I can do for them in return to stay the course. I don’t blame them at all, they are numerous and common enough.

But those who stand? Those whose razor sharp minds and diamond cut hearts refuse to budge from the storm I carry with me? Those are the ones who will never stand alone under any circumstance. I will rise as I need to to protect them. Behind, beside or in front of them. What matters to me is that they know they don’t even have to look to know I’m there. It’s a given.

There are many who talk the talk of loyalty and friendship and love. Too many to name. They are as numerous and as distant as the stars in the sky. The only things they illuminate are the shadows of those racing closely behind me as I stumble forward in a fury of change that most would avoid even acknowledging. I embrace these shadows cast by my  personal defenders. They are the real deal, more than talk, no smoke and mirrors when I look to them for truth.

I smile to myself when I hear people talk about loyalty as they’re stepping quietly out the door to prevent actually showing their true colors. I don’t mark them or call them out because they know who they are. They think about me at night when they try to quiet their thoughts before sleep. I smile not because they didn’t stay the course, many don’t. They say they will and are just not made of that substance which will hold up under stress. They show their colors and it bleeds into their silence right before sleep. It bothers them just a little before they slumber.

So yes, I smile.

 

Sticks And Stones


 

 

According to the Bible, the world was spoken into existence. Men have dueled and died over an injurious word. Masses of people have fallen to their knees in blind worship or turned into a crazed and rabid crowd by the speaking of devious words woven by the gifted in deceit.

Words have the power to build and destroy. We know this. They have the power to uplift the human heart at a crucial moment or devastate during a weak one. Words are wicked and wonderful things to be used with grace, caution and precision.

Since many of us have the adopted habit of looking outward for our worth, words can have more power over us than is good for the speaker or the hearer of them. When our souls are shaking from a life impact or our hearts are fragile we let the words of others poison us. If we’ve fallen too far down that slippery slope, we add our own dangerous whispers to the mix to inflict an even graver injury.

We can get caught up in the pictures spoken over us like some voodoo incantation that renders us helpless to do anything but try to defend ourselves from something that doesn’t matter. We think we need everyone to love us and think we’re wonderful human beings. We don’t. We’ve just let ourselves be convinced that someone else’s opinion of us carries more weight than our own.

When someone’s words are trying to convince us that we are someone selfish, ignorant or weak we have to step back and look with our own eyes. Many times, the poison others spew upon us is just an overflow of their own pain and misery. They are speaking reactively to try to alleviate a pain they can’t get away from. If we can separate their opinion from the truth of us, then we will begin to see that we know who we are.

Sometimes we may uncover a nugget of truth that is valuable for us to change, but that is our decision to make. The rest of it can go back to the little hell it came from because we know the truth of ourselves. That is the key. Knowing who we are and remembering that when someone else’s shit hits our fan.

We all know it sucks to have someone unload on us when it’s a personal attack. That’s when we need to know ourselves well enough to tilt our heads with a quizzical look and then walk away. Hang up. Shut the door. Let it go. They’re just proving they don’t know us. Take the evidence and run, darlings. We’ve got too many real problems to address to be hampered by the opinions of another.

It is possible, if you look very closely, to see the gift that such a diatribe has for us. Sometimes they are foolish and careless enough to go too far. They inadvertently push us past what we’re willing to accept and cause us to dig in our heels. Oh happy day. Somehow they sever the killer thread that binds us to their description of us. We draw our brows together and wonder who the hell they could be referring to, because we absolutely know it isn’t us.

This is when we begin to win our hearts back. This is when we exhale with a relief we never thought to feel. We may never know who they’re really seeing in their minds when they behave that way. Do we really care? Not at the expense of understanding that we aren’t any more or less perfect than anyone else. We reach inside ourselves and remove the power their words have over us. Did you catch that? We reach inside.

When we know who we are, we may wince a little at the spew we hear, but we don’t own it. It isn’t ours. We own our own hearts and like ourselves just fine, thank you.

Flaws and all.

 

 

Bully Beat Down


 

 

“Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.” ~Wikipedia

Just read that to yourselves a few times. Let that sink in. Open your eyes to what’s going on in your world and maybe even your own life. We seem to think abuse has to be a fist in the face resulting in a black eye or a few missing teeth. We go along with the idea that if there are no bruises to show then no injury could have been done. We think broken bones and fragile nerves and weepy frailness personifies those who are bullied by another. Those who allow themselves to be beat down figuratively because if it’s not literal it can’t possibly be real. We lie to ourselves.

The tricky thing about abusers, narcissists and bullies is that we expect them to look like their afflictions suggest. We picture ugly and cruel and scary looking. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. We don’t always get that kind of visual “heads up”. A lot of the time these traits hide behind a handsome or pretty face, a noble reputation or a soft voice. Sometimes the face the public sees is not what we live with. We allow ourselves to be trapped in the delusion we build for ourselves to make our choice in life easier to swallow.

I will never forget the moment I realized that I had slowly built someone into something they were not so that I could live more easily with my choice to allow them into my life. I shamed, humiliated and embarrassed myself in front of my own soul. You don’t get any lower than that. But I digress.

There are times when those who are allowing themselves to suffer under these circumstances appear to the world as a pillar of strength. They seem strong and indomitable. They project strength, confidence and authority in all other aspects of their lives save the one that matters most. They stumble blindly behind the scenes of their own lives allowing themselves to be that quiet cowering thing that they themselves have no respect for. It’s a slow and insidious downward spiral into isolation.

They are often the champion of the weak around them. They are the vigilantes for justice for everyone but themselves. I promise you that they hate themselves for it. They stand and fight for others, all but the most aggressive bend before their will to prevail. But they do not stand for themselves. They do not draw or guard those lines of decency that must exist between one human being and another. The way they allow themselves to be treated makes a mockery of the rest of their lives by their own perception. It’s a losing game.

There are bullies everywhere. They are cleverly disguised as spouses, parents and friends. You know them by the way you feel “lesser than” when you’re with them. You will know them by the way you tone down your personality, dim your exuberance and let them be the winner in any situation. You will know them because you can’t breathe freely or smile genuinely or laugh from your gut when you’re with them. Lightning strike me now if I’m lying to you. You know it’s true. You know it.

I hate to tell you this, but this is what I know for sure. It is not enough to run away. It is not enough to save yourself by relocating to a new place where you are ready to be a victim again. You have to turn around and stand up to the one that scares you. You have to not allow them to bully you anymore. You have to look them in the eye and say “NO”.  You have to stand your ground, come what may. If you don’t, you’re just another might have been ready to be run into the ground by the next big show. Because that’s all it is darling. A great big dramatic show that you’ve bought into. You will continue to be that one in the movies that trips on the root and gets chopped to pieces by the psycho. Not to scare you or anything, just saying.

Walk away. Then run as fast and far as you can. Then take a deep breath and turn around to face the thing that scares you the most: your own weakness. You are not fucking weak, you have merely been uneducated to the quality of a real life. Once you get a taste of it, you’ll be more than willing to turn around and face what you have to. You’ll wrestle that bear and win the right to breathe freely and with all the joy you can stand.

I double dog dare you.