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.

 

 

 

 

Relationship Apocalypse: The Warning Signs


What are the warning signs of a dying relationship? Why does it seem that only one partner is aware of this impending tragedy? Is this really true, or is it simply that one person chooses to be blind, is comfortable with the way things are for them, and hopes to ride out the discontent of their partner? The equivalent of pulling the sheets up over your head and thinking the monsters can’t see you.

This whole scenario astonishes me.

If someone I love looks at me and says, “It hurts me when you do that.” You can bet your ass I’m not going to be doing whatever that is again. Because that would make me an asshole, which I am not. If my partner looks me in the eye and tells me he needs something from me that I have the power to give him to ease his heart, then that exact thing is what I’ll do. If I learn there is a particular thing I can do that makes my partner feel loved…it’s happening.

It seems simple to me.

But this is not what happens in a lot of relationships, and they are dying by the thousands, even if divorce isn’t mentioned. When one partner prospers at the expense of the other, and has no problem with that..? I have a problem with that. If one has a concern and the other refuses to listen because it is not important to them..? I have a problem with that. If one says quite plainly, “I am unhappy and am telling you this in hopes of repairing us instead of hating what we have”, and the other belittles and dismisses the other…?

I. Have. A. Problem. With. That.

A relationship is a two way street, a collaboration, a joining of two to make a sum greater than. It is not King and servant, Lord and minion, Owner and possession. It is supposed to be two people who mean so much to each other that they both give to the other, building a fortress of unconditional love while doing so. It is the constant pursuit of that ideal for each other, and for themselves.

Do you remember the first time you were in the middle of an argument, and instead of crying and feeling heartbroken you found yourself thinking, “Who the fuck do you think you are?”. I do. Do you recall feeling upset and sorry and ashamed later like you should have had more love to give there, and you didn’t? I do. Do you remember much later actually opening your mouth and saying the words, “Who the fuck do you think you are?”.

I do.

I remember it clearly. Because I felt the first vertebra in my spine solidify in what would eventually become a backbone. I remember it because I shook off the thought of “if I only tried harder”, and decided to burn every single relationship self-help book I’d ever purchased. I decided if I were going to become better, stronger, and more alive, I would do it for me.

Because that’s who deserved my efforts.

This is where I stand. Don’t tell me you don’t know. Don’t be a coward. Just step up and say, “I can’t give you more than two weeks of effort, because it just isn’t important enough to me”. Just admit you want someone to make your life easier without having to do the same in return. Admit that you want to be respected and valued without having to reciprocate. Admit you’re afraid of being alone so whatever you call this is just good enough for you. I say all of this knowing you won’t, because you know if you did…

It would make it easy to leave, and you know it’s hard to do.

This is where we are now. Take a good long look. Frightening to you isn’t it? It should be, because the future that you fear…

I welcome with heart wide open.

A Kingdom Falling: The Flight of She


She walked through her Kingdom smiling, and doing, and caring for others, and making life run smoothly. Everyone thought she was strong, competent, brilliant, funny and kind.

Inside she was just one long silent scream of despair.

She did and said all the right things. She went where she was supposed to, did what everyone else did, and built an entire world with stones of commitment, mortar of guilt, turrets of shame, and surrounded it with a moat guarded by the dragons of WhatEveryBodyElseDoes.

Her burning eyes constantly scanned the horizon for something she could not name.

She had grown tired of the performance and longed for something real, something of value that would give her a reason to wake up in the morning and rise to face the challenges of another day. She didn’t need anyone to come and save her, for God’s sake, she had a King in the castle, and what good had that done her?

She was perfectly capable of saving herself, if she could only believe she was worth the collateral damage.

She knew she could walk across the moat of regret at any time. She could catapult herself over the wall of bullshit. She could tame one of the Dragons and fly him into the sunset. The power was all in her hands.

But she first had to find the belief that she was worth every dream she held closely in her heart.

The hardest thing of all for her to bear, was the knowledge that she herself helped build every wall, reinforced every rule, diminished herself to fit the mold, voluntarily, so that no one would notice she didn’t belong.

She became her own judge, jury, executioner and now held the keys to the dungeon.

After many years of sitting on the ramparts, thinking her thoughts and dreaming her dreams, finally the largest dragon spoke:

“What do you want?”

“Freedom.”

“What do you want?”

“The space and respect to be myself.”

“What do you want?”

“Passion.”

“Even if it’s only your own?”

“Yes. Even then.”

The questions continued long into the night. The questions the dragon asked were horribly hard to hear and painful to answer. He wanted to know why she had stayed so long in a Kingdom that had no room for all that she was. He wanted to know what she was doing to fix her circumstances. He wanted to know why a Queen was behaving like a little mouse skittering out of the way of the brashness, the selfishness, the arrogant anger. He wanted to know why she allowed herself to be manipulated into being a spark when she was in fact a fire of such power she could reduce the entire kingdom to ash if she let herself go.

But the most painful thing he made her see, and admit out loud, was that it all happened with her permission. The hardest thing he made her realize was that she had the power to change her entire life at any time she chose. She had only to make it so.

It made her ashamed…and afraid…and hopeful…and strong.

So she gave it much thought, and pondered it deeply in her heart, and finally stood. She turned to the King, who could not see her, and bid him goodbye. She turned her back on the people who were not hers, and the home she didn’t have, and the dreams that lay in rotted piles.

She turned to the dragon and asked him his name. He bowed his head, slightly, and growled out “Rogue”. She laughed at the appropriateness of that and stroked his face in love and gratitude for the pain he’d caused.

Because she wouldn’t have freed herself without the pain and the harshness of his questions. She would have trudged along in an unutterably defeated life. So she owed him for the pain that set her free.

“How can I repay you?”, she whispered.

“Just ask me.” he answered.

“Ask you what?” she whispered again.

“Ask me to fly you away from the life that is killing you.” He answered, his golden eyes burning.

So she looked him in the eye, and bid him do as she commanded. She hiked her skirts up, and climbed on his back, holding tightly as she leaned over and whispered in his ear…

“Take me where the broken can be beautiful”

And he did.

The Mirage of She – Hiding a Heart of Thunder


She made an art of her disguise, although her greatest yearning was to be recognized, known, and accepted by those of like and thunderous hearts. She walked in the world, but not of it. She participated, and contributed, but did not belong. She worked, and laughed, and fulfilled her duties so flawlessly that those in her circle accepted the mirage; the illusion of her that would disappear if one were to reach out to touch her.

She remained concealed behind the reflection that allowed those around her to see what they were comfortable with, instead of the truth of her. She gave them their comfort in this, as her heart thundered in her chest, and her downcast eyes hid the flashes of lightning that preceded each rumble of the imminent storm of her.

She began to know, as her self-awareness grew, that the storm could not long be contained without causing irreparable damage. She knew the heart of her needed the wind, earth, fire, and rain that were hidden all around her; she needed them to manifest the reality within her, as much as they each needed her to do the same within themselves.

She knew for certain that there was only one way to tip the world from the false facade of power, into the glory of a world of magic and possibility. It demanded the courage to drop her defenses and let the truth of her call to the truth of the others at the far edges, and dark borders of their own lives. She had to be brave enough to open her eyes and let the lightning be seen, and the overwhelming thunder of her heart be heard as it responded. She had to show them how to create a new world with only the flashes and pounding to lead them through a shallow existence that didn’t welcome change. She needed the winds of change, the nurturing earth, the fire of transformation, and the rain of life’s mysteries to have a prayer of succeeding.

So she began.

There were many who turned from her, mocking her as she dropped her disguises. Those she loved shook their heads and distanced themselves from the discomfort of her self-searching and truth-telling. Although it grieved her, she let them have their comfort of space, and continued to call to those with elemental hearts, wild spirits, and souls of fire.

All that was not the truth of her fell away.

She took her seat, placed her fingers on the keyboard, and began to call to those who would listen, who could hear, who held inside themselves a Heart of Thunder. She called to those who were not afraid to bleed for the wrongs, and were willing to heal them. She called to those whose hearts were weary of carrying the armor of pretense. She called to those who were at last desperate to see, hear, feel, be…to unapologetically live.

She called to them-her heart thundering against the madness of this existence as it is.

Can you hear her?

The Power of One – Every. Single. One.


The forest was dark and a little frightening as she moved around the clearing, gathering everything she needed to begin. She knew her purpose now, and it burned in her; her need to share it with the others almost an anguish in her heart. She knew it would be difficult for most, and sadly, impossible for a few to see and accept the truth that lived inside each of them; but she refused to give in to negativity or hopelessness. What if she was their only chance, their last one?

She began to place the things she’d gathered in the center of the clearing. She carefully stacked them one upon the other; her dreams of making a difference, her wishes for the broken hearts she ran with, her hopes for a kinder way of living, her longing for a network of scarred, yet whole warriors of the spirit to link across the world, the prayers and determination that all souls could be spun into gold, no matter their circumstances.

The sisters of the heart she had found on her journey moved around her, adding theirs to hers in the center as the forest seemed to grow even darker. They danced around each other in silence as they worked, not stopping until the stack of everything they had to offer reached their shoulders, almost blocking them from seeing each other. As their eyes met, they lifted their hands to their hearts and drenched everything with the only thing they had left to give.

Love.

The light within each of them leapt out, igniting the huge stack of Everything They Offered, and it began to smoke and hiss, the flames flaring, growing, running from dreams to wishes to hopes, to leap victoriously up into the blackened night sky. They reached their hands out to each other, holding tightly, as they let their eyes, for one glorious moment, be blinded by all they desired written in flames for the whole world to see. When they heard no sound or movement surrounding them, their eyes met again, flickering with a little hesitance, concern, and a tiny bit of sorrow. She slowly turned away, lifted her head, and froze.

They were everywhere.Just at the edge of the clearing, eyes watching, faces flickering in the firelight. There were others behind them holding back, but not running. She held out her hands in welcome and held her breath.

Then came the first one, cautiously, slowly, carefully protecting the small flame in her hands from being extinguished. She stepped to the fire, pulled her own offerings from her heart and added them to the stack before tossing her light in with the others. The fire danced joyfully, and her eyes ran wild as she dropped to all fours, as her real self ,then turned to motion the others with her head.

Do it.

They came forward, one by one, guarding their lights and dreams and loves. They found the courage to step forward and add them to the fire along with the others. With each act of courage, each dream and light offered, each captured One dropping free to all fours, the fire grew…and grew…and grew…until the power of what they had created illuminated the sky as if lit by the sun, the moon, and every star.

We turned as One and gathered around her, around them; the original warriors of light. We bowed to her and her sisters in the face of their joy and tears, and we knew what could be done with the Power of One, because each one matters.

Each one of us was critical to the fire of change.

Every. Single. One.

Becoming Real-The Lie vs The Wild-ish Heart


She refused to die. The uncivilized heart of her beat slowly, laboriously, and refused to give up. The wild-ish blood in her veins had been diluted to a mere trace after years and lifetimes of acceptance and settling. She had the good job, the good money, the spouse, the house, the acceptable words, expressions, and behaviors. Day in and day out generic life performances to maintain the status quo had converged into a falseness of epic proportions. She had fallen for The Lie so many years ago, that she perpetuated it herself almost mindlessly every day.

Almost.

More and more lately, her blood seemed to bubble and spark beneath her skin. Her life-deafened ears began to catch whispers from a spirit that wanted to roar. Her eyes would sometimes flare and burn, seeing herself with a clarity that would temporarily freeze her in her tracks. She began to have trouble controlling these freakish moments that would break and then settle inside her. She began to fear for her sanity.

She would catch herself pacing about the house at night, drink in hand, eyes casting to every corner searching for the thing she needed to satisfy the burning hunger she felt. She would sit down and write things she didn’t even know were in her head until she read them later, appalled at the fury of the emotions expressed. She began to dream at night of mad things, precious and untamed things that left her broken hearted upon awakening. She became certain of her insanity.

She tried everything to numb the madness overtaking her. Too much everything; food, smoking, spending, sleeping, reading-anything to take her somewhere out of the reality she allowed to boil her slowly to death, one degree at a time. Nothing stopped the Wild from creeping ever closer to the hidden trip wire of transformation, but she did everything she could to maintain the Normal.

But She is here now. The Wild One. The one who will not be tamed or reduced by circumstances. She holds the trip wire in her hand with lifted chin and burning eyes. It is time to change, to live, to be. She doesn’t care about the consequences, she steps up toe to toe and stares them down until she owns them. She will yank the trip wire of transformation with a snarl, and feral eyes that see a future worth living.

And she will embrace her insanity.