Another year has passed, and I am, once again, sitting here memorializing my mother. I’m going to try and do that each year, for as long as there is still some semblance of life left in me. One day my own children will be able to look back on what is written about their Grandmother, they will be able to see photos of her, and they will know. Maybe that’s what is most important, that they know, that her memory lives on through me.
I come from a very large family. On one side of my family, I’m one of the only girls. On each side of the family though, I’m like the female black sheep. I was looking at photos recently, from when I was a little girl, and my expressions and body language let me know that even then, I did not fit in with everyone else. Some people might say “That was your choice.”, but children KNOW exactly who loves them and who does not. I have always been highly intuitive. No one ever spoke baby talk to me. I was always spoken to like a little adult, from day one. There are photos of me looking at people oddly whenever they DID break out the “goobly goo” shit that was not used around me. There are photos of me where, when adults spoke in my presence, I was always listening. The other children were always playing and running around being kids, but not me, I was always paying attention to my surroundings and the people in it.
There’s a little bit of everything in my family. Doctors, therapists, lawyers, professional athletes, musicians, singers, politicians, photographers, jewelry designers, electricians, technological geniuses. And then there’s me. I’ve always been a highly creative individual. I started off as a gymnast, it was everything to me. My Mom encouraged this, as I jumped, leaped, tumbled, twisted, did back hand-springs, splits, and things that most normal people do not do from parallel or uneven bars. Somewhere in the middle of my journey, I became a writer.
My Mom turned my quiet, shy, introverted voice into a strong, “in your face”, confident human being, someone who was not afraid to speak up and speak out. She gave me rules, structure, and taught me boundaries that I use to this day. She always said I wrote with a supreme sense of fairness, but that I’d knock a person down with 50 words if I had to, or 100, however many it took. All of these things are still true.
She would always say “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Somewhere along the line, the pen became my sword. I became a living, breathing fencer of words. I don’t just write that way, I speak this way. Every once in a while I will look back on a letter I have written in a situation and I’m floored by my own way with words, or how I handled a particular situation in the moment. Occasionally I cringe at the words that come out of my mouth and how harsh they sound, and other times I know I am completely justified in my words, as well as my tone. Unfortunately, much like my mother, people often meet me and their perception is way off base. I’m not nice, sweet, passive, or gullible (my Mom was nice and sweet to a fault, but if you pushed her, she’d push back HARD.). I don’t play games and I don’t back down. I might take a step back so as not to end up in jail, but I have a supreme sense of right and wrong, and I will fight that to the death. That is exactly who she raised me to be.
In so many moments and situations, my mother would look at me in awe of how I handled myself, or she’d look at me with pride. I now see my brother look at me with similar awe in how I handle certain situations and people, and how I don’t back down or take no for an answer. I was born this way, it wasn’t something anyone taught me, but whenever I do it, whenever I am completely myself, I am reminded of who I am and how proud it always made her.
These last six years have been torture without my mother. I still find myself thinking “I must tell her about this book…” or “I must tell her about this show.” and then I get emotional, because she’s not here. I made an immense deal during my move about the movers not breaking my Mom’s Tiffany lamp. I was obsessed with it. All of her other things I personally moved myself, lest I have anyone else to blame, but myself. A few months later, I bumped into it and banged it into a bookcase in my living room, leaving it partially damaged, but still in working order. I burst into tears, as if I’d just killed the woman. Not because it was a lamp, but because it was something that meant so much to her, and I’d ruined it. I was heartbroken. I later found out that since I’d saved all of the broken pieces, it can be repaired and I don’t need to agonize about it. One less thing to cry over. It still works just fine and even though I have yet to get it fixed, whenever it acts up, I know it’s my Mom looking out for me. Baby V has taken to watching it, so I know she can sense my Mom too, but that she doesn’t know who she is, so she becomes protective of me and gets angry at the lamp. It’s not easy explaining the spirit world to a kitten that doesn’t quite understand yet that I get a lot of visitors. I tend not to explain that to most people, or even say it, but it’s a huge part of who I am, so why pretend?
My Mom & I always had an agreement about “the other side” and getting messages to one another. I don’t think it took her three days after she passed away to let me know that she was ok. People can discredit that to their heart’s desire, but I know my mother and I know exactly what I experienced. I didn’t study what I studied for anyone to come along and say “I don’t believe in that.” That’s fine for you, don’t believe in it, but don’t try and take it away from those that know it exists, and know that it’s real. Because that is fucking rude and disrespectful. I wasn’t raised to be either, but was I encouraged to stand up for myself and speak up? Absolutely. Having a voice as a writer helped me overcome my shyness. I still have my quiet moments, but I am by no means shy.
Being a woman in this world can be incredibly empowering, and it can be an immense hindrance at times as well. The intense side of me is a fighter that can do anything, and the Fibromyalgia side says “I’m sick, I need help, I am staying in bed today.”
I’ve been sick for over two weeks from the stress of all that I am currently going through in my private life, and I can only say that I am truly grateful to the people that have kindly helped me through this disaster, and those that have listened to me bitch and moan. I’ve learned in the last month who is really with me and who can go screw themselves, and that extends to both WordPress and my daily life. Right now, I have a list and I’m checking it twice. If you’re not on the good side, I strongly suggest a trip to another planet where my reach simply isn’t that good. You might want to try one of the newer ones with the ridiculous names that are basically one alpha-numeric code away from being someone’s extremely bizarre password.
The song I posted today, The River, was read at my Mom’s funeral. It may not have been her philosophy for herself, but it was definitely a message for her children. It’s a reminder not to give up on yourself or your dreams, and not to let anything, not a single moment, fall by the wayside. I wish she had taken her own advice just this once.
Six years ago, I lost my mother. She would have been 67 today, and it pains me that she is not here. Today is my mental health day to mourn her loss a bit, and take stock of where I am going and how I want to handle everything. I’m not having an easy time. I am slaying dragons and demons and sometimes I feel like my swords are dull, and I am too tired for this shit. But then I hear her voice in my head, and the blades are suddenly sharp again and the fierceness of my personality returns in full effect.
I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m going to LIVE. I don’t owe anyone anything, but I do owe it to myself to be the very best version of who I am supposed to be, who I am meant to be. My mother only ever wanted me to be myself, but she firmly believed that was a person who would succeed. On a day like today, I need to remind myself that the potential and possibility is there and always will be.
I love you Mom. Thank you, for everything.
“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.” -Ching Qu Lam
Living In A World…
“Living in a world such as this is like dancing on a live volcano.” ―Kentetsu Takamori
Rethinking Mental Illness
I came across this and I do agree that we need to talk about it. It needs to stop being treated like something we can only speak of in hushed tones. The increased rate of suicide in people being treated for various forms of depression has drastically increased over the last few years, and yet, when you tell a doctor or a therapist that you think of suicide often and that you have a plan, they don’t take you seriously unless they believe you need to be hospitalized. The truth is, if someone is going to follow through on suicide, they aren’t going to discuss it with anyone. It’s a very personal, private thing.
I lost someone very dear to me to suicide 20 years ago. One of my brother’s best friends committed suicide eight years ago, less than a year after being discharged from the Army Rangers. I have very close friends that have lost siblings and other family members to suicide, so I don’t find it a laughing matter in any capacity. I, myself, am extremely open about these topics and I discuss them at length in the most direct fashion possible. I detest the stigma placed upon people who suffer from depression, and the labels and whispers that follow in their wake. It enrages me.
Don’t be afraid to get help or to talk about what you feel. Be afraid if you don’t talk about it.
What Fibromyalgia Feels Like
A lot of people are living with Fibromyalgia and are undiagnosed or not being treated for it. Men are much less apt to be diagnosed with it because it is considered a “woman’s illness”, but that’s total bullshit because I know more than 6 men that clearly have it.
I have never been formally treated for Fibromyalgia, and I’ve had it for more than 10 years. Initially all my doctors blew my symptoms off. They had an excuse for every single symptom I had, and chose to treat separate things. I’d be treated for the migraines, but not treated for everything else I was experiencing. At the start of it all, I had a crick in the left side of my neck for about 6-8 months that was so painful I wanted to die. An MRI showed an actual injury, I did not have a pinched nerve, so I was handed several different prescription pain medications and a prescription for muscle relaxers and informed that I would “have this for the rest of my life”. When Cymbalta was approved by the FDA and released in 2004, I demanded my doctor put me on it immediately. All of my local pharmacies didn’t even have it, they were literally calling other stores in other states to try to get it for me, but it took them months to get it in stock. My doctor went to a dinner for the drug, something he doesn’t usually do because he doesn’t have the time, and brought me back a ton of samples. For several years, Cymbalta made me feel almost normal again, until it stopped working. I tried Lyrica about five years ago and the first dose or two put me on the floor, I couldn’t even move on that stuff. I have not tried the newer drugs, but I do want to find a way to manage the pain better. I don’t know if there will ever be a cure for Fibromyalgia, but I certainly hope that the next generation gets to see one because life is way too long to suffer like this your entire life.
Photo Credits: Shaun & Dawn
For those who maybe haven’t picked up on it yet, I am Jewish. 100% through and through because, even though I disagree with varying viewpoints at times, I believe in a spiritual deity, and it’s drastically different from the church and its teachings.
I am not posting this in an attempt to convert anyone, because that’s not my deal at all, but I am posting it to share and explain.
In late 2002, while studying Psychology & Comparative Religion, I stumbled upon Wicca as a 2nd “faith”, if you will. Growing up with Kabbalistic Judaism, which is Jewish Mysticism for those of you who only hear Kabbalah and think of Madonna or Demi Moore, Wicca sort of brought it all home for me. It made sense out of all the things I’d been raised to believe and it made sense for my every day life. It brought me to a peaceful, calmer, happier place. A place I really needed to be considering how difficult my life had been up until that point.
Obviously there are differences between the two religions. You have a monotheist belief system, but because I grew up believing in duality of God and Goddess, Wicca, as a polytheist belief system, makes sense to me even within the confines of Judaism. I see them as being incredibly intertwined most of the time.
To be clear, I don’t practice either faith for shock value or to attract attention. I do it because it’s my spiritual path and it’s part of what makes me who I am. I’m spiritual as opposed to religious, but I have members of my family that are Ultra Orthodox and barely acknowledge my existence because I’m not “Jewish enough” for them and their way of life. We pretty much all grew up Reformed, yet they are now somehow superior to the rest of us. You can’t help, but roll your eyes. I respect their faith, but they can’t respect mine. It’s a good thing they haven’t seen my tattoos, they’d probably drop dead and spit.
My wish for this New Year is for my family & friends all over the world to have a better, happier, stronger, more secure year than the one we are leaving behind. Less struggle, more happiness. Less pain, more days where we can feel like we’re truly part of the bigger picture. More healing, less torment. More listening, less ignoring. More compassion, less negativity.
To my Rabbi, thank you for being there for me over these past six years. It has made such an immense difference having you be a voice of reason. To Shani (my sister from another mister) in Israel, I love you and I’m thinking of you.
For those of you who do not celebrate this holiday, my wishes for you remain the same.L’Shanah Tovah!
Live It Up