The Art of Being Ugly


I woke up ugly this morning.

Not on the outside although it wasn’t one of my better days, but my heart, my thoughts and my perception of things were on the hard side. I woke up gritting my teeth and knew it would be a struggle to contain the harshness from those who didn’t deserve it.

Which was everyone.

I usually don’t feel this way, and I don’t like it. I used to deny its existence or hide it from myself, missing every important lesson the meanness was trying to teach me.

I’m a slow learner but when I finally get it, it sticks.

Listening to the ugly parts of me is the only way to see where I’m being foolish in ways that injure my heart. Shaking hands with the side of me that wants to strike out helps me see where I’ve set myself up for failure. The “righteous” part of me that wants to cause equivalent pain in another is a 911 call for pulling my head out of my ass and taking a good look at where I’m standing…

And how fast I’m sinking.

I’m about chest high in bad attitude right now, cigarette in one hand and wine glass in the other, listening to the ugly. I don’t apologize for the contents of either hand or the content of my mind.

I’m sorting it out.

The more I listen the more it recedes, slowing my breath and easing the tightness in my jaw. My heart softens again and my mind settles. I see the adjustments I need to make to defuse my dilemma.

Fortunately, most will never meet the ugly I talk to from time to time, even though that side of me is an important part of who I am. If I don’t listen to the black-hearted, judgmental, vigilante part of me…

How will I ever grow?

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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

My Beloved


For the first time in maybe fifteen years, I will have a cleaning lady/person/housekeeper…what ever. She will probably be temporary until she finds her ‘life’ job, but it matters little to me in how I feel about her.

My best friends and I have always said that if WE had wives of our own, we wouldn’t be assholes about it. We would appreciate their hard work, the time given, the effort, the planning, the thoughtfulness, the absolute wonder of having a wonderfully clean home that frees us to enjoy our time off when we are not working. We would not be husbands to our wives per se, we would be grateful wives who had wives.

We would give them their hard earned money with a loving heart. We would show endless and heartfelt appreciation. We would pick up after ourselves and spend time thinking how we could make their efforts easier for them to show our gratitude and respect. We would occasionally leave extra gifts and ‘thank you’s for no apparent reason. We would give them lavish, incomparable presents for their birthdays and Christmas.

We would always speak kindly to and of them. Harsh and inconsiderate words would never pass our lips in regards to them. They would feel so valued and honored by us that they would never consider leaving us to become a ‘wife’ to someone else at our expense.

Yes, I will do my daily duties to not impede her from doing what I ask of her. I will keep up on my personal responsibilities of dishes, laundry, the daily sweeps and wipes that must occur. Her efforts will free me to come home grateful, and enjoy my off time -guilt and aggravation free.

I will no longer spend entire days off and/or weekends cleaning the pit of doom that I had no energy left for after the work day. Therefore, she will be saving me from certain prison time in payment for lighting my spouse on fire and putting him out with an ice pick. Possibly I exaggerate my resentments, but I think not.

OMG, you say? Why not just tell him to pull his weight as a partner, you say? Can you not deal with this like an adult?

Laugh. Out. Loud.

After years of resentment and blame, I spoke as clearly as God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. I spoke like a man-straightforward with no way to be misunderstood. I said I was tired of carrying the whole load, that if he were a roommate I would have evicted him by now, that something was going to change either with his efforts or without. After six weeks of no difference in cleaning/partnership behavior, I was looking for the lighter fluid and realized what I had to do. I texted him immediately as he was out entertaining himself that fine weekend day, to let him know I was going to get estimates and hire a housekeeper to eliminate my anger over this never-ending situation.

So here I am. Anxiously waiting the honeymoon of my first cleaning. I am happy she’s coming, I’m anxious that she not feel overworked. I will guard her with my life-so help me God.

I have to wonder at the ego of a human being expecting these wonderous things from another human being while behaving like  an inconsiderate ass hat. What great thing do you bring to the relationship table, I ask? What is it that you give of yourself that has such value that no real effort or input is required from you at all?

And of myself, I ask this question: why did I decide to marry as opposed to hiring out as a housekeeper?

I misunderstood the path to becoming The Beloved.

My Bad.

It’s Not Okay


This is a reality check. Take a moment and look at your closest relationships. It doesn’t matter whether it’s looking at your behavior and treatment of others, or theirs towards you, or both. Just take a good, honest look. I’m referring to your long haul relationships, the ones that have existed for long enough that it seems to be okay to dump hard on them on a daily basis.

A relationship of any kind is meant to be a partnership, an exchange of energies that strengthen both, a motivation for growth and prosperity for both parties, not for one at the expense of the other. My favorite example is marriage, although friendships run a close second. In christian vows, the pledge is that two become one, not one become the other, with the weaker party disappearing into the atmosphere.

This particular event requires growing some self-love, and a spine. It really is easier to let the arrogant, selfish, and demanding turn you into a victim. It’s easier than fighting it constantly. It is also a misery, a mistake, and a piss poor excuse for a life. Tell the truth now, it may be easier, but you don’t like it. If you do, that’s a different blog, for another day.

Yeah, yeah, they’ve got so much potential. They were raised that way, if you just do this, or act that way, well the evil spell would be lifted and you would ride away together on the white horse of…total bullshit. Don’t perpetuate, or enable. Don’t paralyze yourself into a silent, closed-hearted, unforgiving and judgmental way of existing.

The truth is, sometimes we try to stay in relationships that should not have become what we allow them to be. That painful marriage would’ve been a great friendship if left alone, or what was meant as a learning growing dating relationship was forced into something more than both parties were capable of maintaining. Sometimes, by forcing what we think our future should look like, we turn a learning experience into the torture chamber from hell. Truth is, some people shouldn’t get married. They are happy living for themselves, taking care of themselves, making decisions for themselves, and don’t have the makeup to perform as a team, or couple. Nothing wrong with that, until they decide to couple up.

God help us. Then you’ve got a really nice person, not capable of putting someone else first, and causing misery and trauma to another. On the other side of that is the love sick nurturer thinking that if they do enough, or give enough, or try hard enough, the solitary one will magically transform into the sharing, giving, person of their dreams. Wrong on both sides.

What we have here is two wonderful people destroying each other by inches. They should not have paired themselves. Bad match, not bad people. Unfortunately we’ve been raised (most of us) that such relationships are forever, and we lock ourselves into the pain of two people never being what the other wishes they were, or needs them to be. So when somebody has to be the bad guy (or gal) both parties lose~because it’s a lie.

Falling in love is just the doorway. At some point in time, all of us make it to the doorway with someone. A true loving relationship means going in, going deeper, mutual  courtesy, respect, trust and commitment to working out the kinks as they come up. A lot of people don’t have the courage; the spine, to work through problems so they can be released. Some just don’t care enough about another to do so. Both views of thought are a death knell for a growing relationship of future value.

Sadly we also have so many long term relationships that cause a person to say to themselves, “Woe is me, I’ve been crapped on for years, this is all there is, it’s too late to fix, or start fresh, I’m too old now, I don’t want to be alone, who will take care of me…”. Seriously.

I guess I’m aggravated at all of us. Well, okay, the majority of us, since I do know of people who are matched well, or have made themselves be an excellent match for each other. The point is, life is too short to be less than you are, no matter who you are.

It is not okay to use the force of your personality and desires to obliterate another’s ability to be who they are, and it’s not okay to accept a life you were absolutely not created to live. Hello. We are all different expressions of the same creator. What if there were only one song played over and over every day? One food to eat, one painting to look at, and sigh? What if we all looked the same, did the same job, held the same opinion?

That’s hell, right there. So all of us need to honor and respect the unique expression each of us brings to the table. Not mock, or belittle, or try to erase. Sometimes that means you can build something strong with someone, sometimes it means letting go~so both can bloom.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Confessions of a Shadow


I didn’t used to be a shadow, you know. I was me. I was all of me. I ran the show because I was all there was…I thought. I learned everything I knew at the time from what I thought was an entire world full of people willing to bury me beneath the weight of their own wants and needs. My luck was poorer than, my circumstances harder than, my sadness greater than, and my anger and defensiveness so huge it could only be matched by my ego. My ego was an awesome trainer when it was just me (before I became a shadow). It helped me fight to be right, no matter what. I think I actually became a black belt in the hair-raising “Oh. No. You. Didn’t.” but I never really tested out to say for certain.

I think I must have become a shadow when I grew too tired to care who was right. When I realized, that if you have to ask someone to make room for you, then you really don’t need to be there~that spot is not for you. I noticed that I built walls to prevent myself from the hurt that comes from trying to build a bridge when the other person couldn’t care less if you succeed. Again, forcing something that shouldn’t be. Why is living and loving and caring for each other so difficult? Because we make it so. Okay, I won’t speak for you, because I make it so.

I was so exhausted, and began to long for peace. Not the fake stuff where I could walk around like “lalala” and the whole world was rainbows and butterflies and little birds helped me dress in the morning. (although that would be killer) No. I wanted the kind that no matter what happened all around me, there was a safe place I could hold myself steady through it all.

The more my heart cracked under the weight of the ridiculous perceptions I carried, the more light seeped in.  The more misguided notions I tossed aside, the more light poured in~and BAM~here I am, shadow extraordinaire.

It took me awhile to understand that all parts of us have something to teach us. Shadows are the powerful part of you that have much to teach you about what you need more of, or less of, in your life.  Shadows rise up to warn you, not to take over, so don’t let it happen. If I get into a repetitive  situation of negativity, and shadow rises up quickly to burn the perpetrator with the flame-thrower of self-righteousness, I pause. No kidding.  I’ve had to learn to hug it quickly to my heart, welcome its warning, pat it on the back and with a big smile say “step aside hon, overkill not needed, I have a spine now”. I may not create what people do to me, but I allow that to continue to exist or not.

There is no shadow without light, so I’m glad to know I exist now. I know my purpose is to speak the clear voice of truth as a warning, and a gauge of what is at this moment, so that who I am as a whole can maneuver the potholes and obstacles and correct the wrong turns on the path to peace.

Be smart. Don’t ignore your shadow as signs of being a bad or mean person. If you listen to her, she’ll calm down, and you’ll hear clearly what you need to attend to for your own well-being.

Because the shadow knows. (sorry couldn’t help it)