This Is What You Are Really Telling Us by Naomi Ragen

*I received this via e-mail this morning. I could not have said it better myself! I have had ENOUGH of the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish sentiment throughout Hollywood, throughout social media, and in pretty much every direction in which I turn. If people can’t professionally do their jobs and stick to what they know, then they should not be throwing around political sentiments that are entirely uneducated views. 100% credit to Ms. Ragen. Bravo!*

This is What You Are Really Telling Us

By Naomi Ragen

I’m not sure the people who need to hear this will ever hear it, but I want my conscience to be clear that I said it to them.

Dear Human Rights Activist, Leftist Liberal, Crying-for-the-poor-children, Israel-hating, Hamas-forgiving, marcher, celebrity, news anchor, journalist, writer, media star, politician, head of state.

We have seen you marching along the streets of Europe, America, and the Middle East with your signs and kfirs and Palestinian flags. We have heard you screaming to whoever will listen that Jews and Israelis are murderers, war criminals, and baby killers.

You think you are telling us who we are. But actually, you are telling us who you are.

1) You are telling us that you are ignorant.

That you don’t understand that Hamas is a terror organization that took over a territory that Israel removed all its settlers from a decade ago, and with good will turned over to the Palestinians, and that in return the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, a terror organization, to rule them, and that Hamas has been logging bombs at Israeli civilians trying to kill them ever since.

2) You are telling us you don’t really care about Palestinians or their children.

Because by supporting Hamas, you are supporting the use of Palestinians as human shields, the use of Palestinian children to dig terror tunnels in which 160 have died, and the summary execution of Palestinians by Hamas thugs whenever they open their mouths to protest the use of their homes, schools, mosques, or hospitals as weapons caches and missile launching sites.

3) You are telling us that you are in favor of genocide.

Anyone who does not support Israel in this just war against Hamas, who is a genocidal terrorist organization that clearly says in their charter they want to destroy all Jews, is in fact in favor of genocide. You are telling us that you not only agree with the idea, but the practice, as Hamas is now attempting (without much success, thank God) by bombing Israelis and attempting mass murders and kidnappings through countless underground tunnels created only for that purpose. You are telling us you don’t think Israelis have a right to live and defend their children by fighting back. You are telling us you want us dead.

4) You are telling us that you hate Jews, not just Israelis.

Because otherwise, why would you march along, support, and agree with people who beat up Jews, shoot Jewish children, destroy synagogues, and smash Jewish businesses all over the world, just like the Nazis?

5) You are telling us that you are a racist and a hater.

Just one more of those evil, ignorant, bigoted, small-minded people who hate people they have never met because of their race and religion.

6) You are telling us you are ill-informed, uneducated and/or too stupid or too lazy to read history books. Because by taking up the stance of the Nazis without even understanding in whose footsteps you are following, you are revealing you don’t know where those footsteps led, and the millions and millions of people like yourselves who died because of it.

7) But most of all, you are showing God who you are and the evil that is in your heart.

For that I pity you. Because we Jews believe that God is compassionate and forgiving. But we also believe that if people repeat the same evils as their forefathers, then God’s compassion ends for them, and the time for punishment begins.

You are not the first ignorant, bigoted, racist, hateful people to stand against the Jews. But you just might be the last. By joining your voice and your body with those who hate justice, who love violence, and who follow in the footsteps of the Jew-haters throughout history, you are singling yourself out for the punishment that befalls all such people in history sooner or later. Check your history books on that one. Every people that hated Jews eventually became extinct. The Jews survived.

Looking forward to your next march, your next petition, and your next newscast to see who you are. We already know what you are.

For more articles, please visit my Web page at:  http://www.NaomiRagen.com

Coming Out of The Ancestral “Closet”

Coming Out of The Ancestral “Closet”

I find it more than a little appalling that in 2014, I am still being asked “What are you?” Not “What religion are you?” or your average, inappropriate social questions, which, by my standards, are still rude. No, it’s always been “What ARE you?”, with such profound emphasis, as if I am my own species. It’s become ridiculous, and as we’ve established, I am not a patient woman.

Growing up in New York City; a small, fair skinned, dark blue eyed, dark haired child, I was utterly adorable. I have pictures to prove it. My peaches & cream complected blonde, hazel eyed mother was very clear in my genes, but so was my olive skinned, raven haired, dark brown eyed father. I was clearly a genetic mix of my parents and maternal Grandparents. For years, my eyes had that perfect Asian up-tilt, a gift of my Tribal Siberian and Mongolian ancestry, something that I now enhance with eyeliner. I was about six years old when they changed in color from dark blue to hazel. It normally doesn’t take such a long period of time for a child’s eye color to change.

Where am I going with this? Well, I will tell you. I’ve known for about 8 years now that I am indeed part Latina. I have absolutely no reason to hide it or not discuss it if it comes up in conversation, especially now that Spain and Portugal are allowing Jews to return for citizenship. I have to say I was very sorely tempted to pack my bags and leave.

Growing up, everyone assumed I was either 100% Puerto Rican or 100% Italian. I am neither. In fact, I’m not 100% anything. I am so blended, I should have my own flag. My Latina roots come from Spain (Zaragoza) and Argentina (Buenos Aires).

Several months ago, while filling out some forms I checked the Caucasian box, as I’ve done my entire life, and followed up with Hispanic on the second portion of the form. It is truly the first time I’d done it, but I simply felt like not putting it down was to lie, and it bothered me, so I checked the box proudly. The woman handling the paperwork looked at me immediately and said “You’re Sephardic?!”, with such utter disbelief as she looked at the color of my skin and eyes, that I glanced up briefly from filling out the forms and said “I am Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Russian Siberian, and Jewish Asian.” In truth, that’s not even the half of it, but it was short and to the point. I didn’t owe her an explanation of my lineage, but I’d be damned if I was going to be treated any differently.

Really, why the hell does anyone give a shit?! Why did she? I later found out that as an immigrant to this country, she did not want anyone knowing she was Sephardic. I was slightly astounded, but anyone who is at an age where their Grandparents or parents may have died during the Holocaust is probably still hiding what they are. Having been born here, I suppose I do not feel the need to hide. I’ve never felt the need to do so, not ancestrally or religiously.

People tend to forget that Latinas come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are blonde and blue eyed, some are more like me, and others are dark haired, dark eyed, and always look naturally tan. I cannot tan to save my life, and since I detest sun damage and the sun on a whole, I religiously wear sun protection. Some of us speak Ladino, Yiddish, Spanish, Portuguese, or older versions of various languages. Some of my cousins, also Sephardic, speak French (My brother does, I do not.). I grew up in a bilingual home, my closest family friends did too, and they all spoke Spanish. I spent years studying other languages, and am now teaching my brother Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Spanish. I understand languages I don’t speak, but I base that on the fact that some of them are incredibly similar. I have been trying to learn Swedish for a couple of years now. Not for any other reason than I think it’s beautiful when spoken.

I’m a great observer of others, but I try very hard not to judge people based on race or religion. Everyone is an individual. If you treat me like shit, I am not going to judge your ethnic background for that, just you. If you treat me well, I’m not going to automatically assume that everyone like you will show the same kindness and respect.

I have friends from all walks of life, and I accept and respect them for their individuality. I don’t care where a person is from, so long as we treat each other with respect and courtesy. Most of the people in my life who are closest to me are not American born or American citizens (though I can now say for a fact that more are). Two of my best friends are Israeli and German. My boyfriend holds dual citizenship. He is Welsh born, returns to Wales several times a year to visit older relatives, but is not an American citizen. His parents and siblings are not American citizens either, but they’re some of the loveliest people, and to me, that’s all that matters.

I have a friend who, for damn near our entire friendship, would openly declare herself Hispanic “From SPAIN!”, she’d tell people loudly. She’s also part Cherokee, which shows. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, but now that our friendship has declined so badly, I have noticed more and more that she is embracing the fact that her ancestry is actually Mexican. It’s always been pretty evident to me, but would I ever have said a word to her about it? No. That’s disrespectful. That’s like catching me on a dumb day and then pointing out that I have some Polish ancestry. It’s rude and it’s not something you say or do.

I think what bothered me the most about her saying it so often is that people would ask her if she was Hawaiian, saying that she looked “exotic”, and I’d then think of Stefanie (FAWKESTEARS on this blog), who is Native Hawaiian. There’s a definite difference, not just in looks, but in so much more. She is not simply born and raised there, you can see her Hawaiian and Japanese ancestry in her hair, eyes, skin, and beauty. It shines like a beacon. Her Italian mother, we often joke, barely got a gene in. Between her and her siblings, she is the one who most looks like her father’s side of the family. For the previously aforementioned friend, ancestry and honoring it is clearly a big issue, so I never, ever tried to make her feel uncomfortable, nor did I ever press her on it. I feel it is something to honor and show respect, not hide from or deny, but that’s me and my otherworldly view since I’m still being asked “What ARE you?”

The next time someone says that to me, I might very well declare myself a vampire, purchase a really cool pair of colored contacts from Italy, and not say a word to anyone ever again, until the sun sets. Stupid questions deserve stupid answers, do they not?

So, this is me. Part Latina. Owning it, not ashamed, remembering to use my Spanish instead of forgetting that I can speak it, completely unconcerned if my honoring it bothers someone else. It’s my genes, my ancestry, and if you’ve taken issue with it, fuck off!

“Coming Out Of The Ancestral ‘Closet’” is copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dear Humans…

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Dear Humans…

Hello WordPress peeps. Thank you for welcoming me into my Mommy’s life. 🙂 She has told me all about many of you, and she also told me I have many fans requesting photos of me as I continue to grow, and that I need to own up to my modeling contract. I don’t know what that means because I am still a baby and I just want to eat, play, sleep, bite people’s toes, and play some more.

I was surrendered to an animal shelter in the late summer months when I was born. I do not know why. Mommy says it makes her angry, but that she is glad “the idiots” at least had the foresight to bring me someplace safe where I could get proper medical care and the chance of a good home. Mommy has no patience for morons. I’ve heard her tell people off on the phone. I like to be underfoot when she’s on the phone, you just never know what you’ll hear! Mommy has one voice for me, all soft and sweet, and another voice for everyone else. Unless you’re a kitten or a baby, I recommend playing dumb, but you should also know that Mommy will see right through that.

I was put into foster care with my siblings almost as soon as I opened my eyes, which means I was taken away from my biological Mommy way too soon. Kittens need to be weaned, not thrown into shelters!

I shared a foster home with three “big cats”, a huge pitbull, and there were always lots of kittens younger, my age, or older to play with. I did very well with everyone, as I am very well socialized. I was there the longest of all my foster mother’s foster kittens because she loved me best. 🙂 She also wanted to make sure I got the very best home possible. She was strongly considering keeping me, I think, until she got a phone call inquiring about my availability.

One day “new Mommy” called “foster Mommy”, and in less than a few days, I had a new home. Imagine a tiny kittens’ shock and surprise!

On the day in question, “new Mommy” walked into the house. I was walking on the kitchen counter at the time and immediately greeted her. I like to be perched in places above ground, so that I can look down upon my subjects. She lowered herself slightly to my level so I could smell her. I thought “What kind of cat is THIS? Where is her tail?! Oooh, she has pretty hair. I bet she’ll let me bite it.” She spoke to me and gave me a little head scratch. Her nails are nice and sharp, and took away my kitty cat itches, so I let foster Mommy know that it was ok if I went home with her. I liked her coat and her purse, and even though she told me I couldn’t play with expensive things, she was kind and gentle, and I felt safe.

After a short period of time where the humans conversed and laughed, foster Mommy gave me kisses and told me I was going to have a great life. I was put into a kitty carrier that my new Mommy had thought to put warm blankets in, and away we went.

About an hour and forty-five minutes later (I had to ask Mommy about the timing. It was dark and the GPS got us lost. I know this because the heat was on and Mommy kept saying “Why is such an expensive part of this county SO FUCKING DARK AT NIGHT?! Can’t they afford lights?!”), I was brought into my new home.

Mommy showed me where everything was, from my litter box to my fancy food and water bowls, and my new “cat space”. I ate, I drank, and then Mommy put me into “my bed”. It’s a lot bigger than me, but I quickly learned I am meant to share this bed with Mommy. Who made this decision? Exactly who said this little kitten wants to share? I did not agree to this arrangement, so I bites toes for entertainment value. I can get away with this because I am “just a baby”. I heard Mommy say so.

After a few hours, I decided to settle in for a nap and where better to nap than my new Mommy’s lap while she tap-tap-taps on her computer? Occasionally, even now, I reach up and smack her hands to remind her that I’m here, and that the computer isn’t so exciting or interesting. And that my little ears need to be scratched. She will stop singing, writing, and doing whatever it is she’s doing that makes her laugh, and tell me how great I am, what a good kitty, such a sweet little soul, such a good little friend. She tells me that as I get older, we will be besties, whatever that means. For now, she is my warm cuddle buddy and my best playmate. I secretly believe she is a cat and that I cannot find her tail. I know, because I’ve looked.

I am happy in my new home, though I have already made it clear that I need little playmates, siblings if you will, or I will continue to attack Mommy’s feet, ankles, knees, socks, and anything else I can get my little baby paws on. Mommy is not amused when I climb on top of the vacuum cleaner and just sit there. She actually suggested I do some house work. I smacked my new Uncle’s feet recently, just to keep him in his place. Mommy encouraged me to do this, telling me it would make him feel “loved and important”. Yes, she’s silly, but she’s also very interesting to watch.

What can I tell you about my Mommy that you don’t already know? She loves me, hugs me, cuddles me, gives me kisses, feeds me, plays with me, talks to me, gives me yummy treatsies, tells me what a good girl I am, grooms me, cleans my ears, cleans my face, wipes my eyes so I don’t develop “tear stains”, and tells me NO when I climb things. She tells me “I am responsible for you. I have to make sure you’re safe and healthy.” She cuts my nails when I am asleep, so I don’t get agitated. Isn’t that sweet? Sometimes, but not always, she will spritz me with water to get the NO to stick, especially if I’ve been doing something I already know I shouldn’t be doing, like attacking Mommy’s books. I heard her talking about this the other day and she said it was a “cat behavior” trick.

Mommy has no idea how well trained she is. All I have to do is glance in her general direction and she’ll go and check my food and water bowls. If I want wet food, all I have to do is bump her legs when she’s in the kitchen and she will ask if I am hungry. She tells me I have to meow, but if I chirp at her or squeak, she accepts that. If I want my toys, I sit on the stairs and stare at her and give her “disapproving cat face”, and she immediately knows that I want my feather ball, or one of my other new toys. I bring them back to her and she’ll throw them back and forth for me while I run up and down the stairs. Secretly, I think Mommy really likes this game.

My favorite game, other than my feather ball, is the feather wand. Mommy will try to exhaust me with it, but often has to say “No more today baby girl, Mommy is too sick to play with you right now.” I don’t know what that means, so some days I cuddle into Mommy to let her know I am listening. I cuddle in and I purr, and I am rewarded with love, kisses, chin scratches, belly rubs, and praise.

A little over a month ago I was a kitten without a forever home. Today I am a four month old “little monkey” with a loving Mommy that is very attentive, with menfolk that show me affection (especially Uncle), a warm place to be, always, and full reign of the house. All I want for the new year is friends to play with. I do like being the sole kitty of the house, but I also miss Mommy when she goes away and she says it’s not nice to knock everything off her dresser. Apparently she is very attached to that perfume she wears and doesn’t like seeing “My expensive bottles on the floor, Verity!!” Sometimes I nap, sometimes I climb. Ok, so I climb more than I nap. I’m just a little baby.

Please encourage Mommy to find me two friends. They have to be my size or smaller, they have to like to play a lot, they have to like laying in Mommy’s lap with me watching movies or TV (Just because I am named after a Bond Girl that was only in one scene, that doesn’t mean I want to watch Skyfall. I don’t care how attractive Mommy finds Daniel Craig. What happened to her “No watching married men.” rule?” Of course, I realize this means she’d never be able to watch TV or movies ever again, but I am willing to overlook this if she gets me friends.), and they have to do silly things so that Mommy will laugh her musical laugh, and play with us, instead of saying “Does EVERY MORNING have to start with blood shed?” Even though Mommy clipped my nails, I really think someone ought to clip hers. I am pretty sure her fangs are bigger than mine too.

These are my tiny kitten observations. I hope you’ve enjoyed my story. And please, for the love of all that is holy, DON’T SHOP, ADOPT.

SAM_0070

Yes, I am REALLY this cute.

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”…

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”

In the very near future, I will be spending a huge chunk of my time in Israel. It will be nice not having to explain holidays to anyone or explaining why Christmas is just another day to me. For now, in the suburbs of a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood with a good 20 churches in pretty much every direction I turn (I wish I was exaggerating), I am still explaining myself. I have no idea why people still think their religion is the only one that exists on this planet. I’ll never understand it!

I am completely respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and their holidays, so long as I am not subjected to them in a means to try and convert me, but my spiritual beliefs and holidays are often met with some extremely disturbing questions, as opposed to the few I have received recently that were honest, curious, and filled with excitement for knowledge. They were by no means offensive. When a person is open and honest, and interested, it makes it so much easier for me to be me, as opposed to feeling like I have to repress my thoughts.

A few weeks ago someone wished me a “Merry Christmas” and received my usual response, which is that I do not celebrate Christmas. This is someone whose establishment I frequent once or twice a month, and not only did she look like I’d just kicked her, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me. I had to explain that I celebrate Chanukah and Yule, and that I am not Catholic or Christian. She was incredibly confused, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me with a wish for a good holiday. Me, I simply like to be clear with people. I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you’re going to wish me well, wish me properly. Don’t make assumptions and please, don’t tell me I “don’t look Jewish”. I don’t even know how to answer that one without telling you off, and because I come from a rich ancestral well of knowledge and an incredibly deep DNA pool, I can assure you that we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We are all distinctly unique, some more than others.

Growing up, Christmas was not a word used much in our home. Not for any other reason than the simple fact that we’re Jewish. We had many Christian and Catholic friends, some who understood and some who did not, that we ourselves did not celebrate the same holiday, nor did we share the same spiritual or religious beliefs that they did. It is extremely disturbing to me that in 2013, any Jew still has to explain themselves.

People like to quote the Bible at me, and they are generally New Testament folk. They’re the kinds of people that don’t realize exactly how “new” the New Testament really is. I, myself, do not adhere to anything outside of the Old Testament. Even that kind of loses me at times. Prayer is an amazing thing, but I like to stick to my own path when it pertains to anything of a spiritual nature. I am not trying to change or convert anyone.

Today is simply December 25th to me. It’s not a holiday, but it IS my Great-Uncle’s birthday. He passed away 15 years ago, but I still remember him very clearly. I remember the last things he ever said to me, and I remember how silent this time of year became after he passed away. For several years prior to his passing, myself and two other family members would try to spend the day with him. Even though he had long since stopped acknowledging his own birthday, he still loved going out to a nice restaurant and enjoying good food, good company, and he told stories like nobodies business. They’re the kinds of stories you want to hear from someone over the age of 80, because you know that no matter how much time passes, you will never hear such stories again.

After he passed away, the tradition maintained in my home on Christmas Day was movies and good food. Either we went to the movies and came home to a really great meal, or we stayed home with a pile of movies and made a meal together. Almost always, it was homemade Italian food from scratch, or Chinese food from the best place in the area.

To know me is to know that I make killer Italian food. It’s something I love doing, but I am just as comfortable making Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and pretty much anything else that I have mastered in all my years of cooking. Nothing is impossible, but I am an epic lasagna failure. It’s the only thing I make that falls apart, so I’ve stopped doing it. It is never inedible, it just never does what it’s supposed to do. Despite a family recipe for veggie lasagna that has been passed down for four generations, I completely and utterly suck at it. It’ll probably be another ten years before I attempt it again. It takes time and patience, and we all know I have no patience.

Over time I have found that people really seem to be offended whenever I clarify that I do not celebrate Christmas. They look at me like I kick puppies, torture kittens, steal winning lottery tickets, and am just, on a whole, not a good person. I look at them with the knowledge that, for over 5000 years, my people have not celebrated Christmas. It’s not on our calender and it’s not in our religious texts. It’s perfectly ok to not share the same religious beliefs. If we did, we’d be living in some kind of bizarre utopia. That’s not a world I can imagine functioning in. Differences make the world go ‘round. We can either choose to come together and learn from one another or we can continue fighting in the name of religion. The choice, however, is generally not ours to make because those that govern our respective countries are a huge part of why organized religion is failing. I could go on, but I won’t, or I assure you, I will offend you.

One year a family friend (one of my brother’s best friends at the time), on leave from the Army, wanted me to convince my brother to come to midnight mass with him. I, personally, do not spend time in churches. It has never been my thing. My brother politely declined, but as his friend became more insistent he finally said “Look, there’s a Jew hanging from a cross in no less than 7 places in there. With that track record, I don’t care to be the sacrifice sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.” We ALL laughed, and no one was offended.

This very same friend asked us about Christmas trees, genuinely wanting to know “If we put up Christmas trees, what do Jewish people do?” Never one to miss an opportunity, I turned around and said “We put up a Chanukah Bush, John.” He nodded and said “Oh, ok.” I said absolutely nothing for a few minutes, everyone was in on it because they’d heard me do this little bit before. Finally, after suppressing serious laughter to the point where I almost hurt myself, I admitted to him that I was just fucking around with him, that there was no such thing as a Chanukah Bush (though I admit, I know some people that put one up because they love Christmas trees, but don’t celebrate Christmas). Again, laughter ensued. You have to really know me to know that I will joke like that with the people that know me best, and that, while inappropriate to some, I am careful what I say in mixed company because I don’t go out of my way to be hurtful to others. I do like to be very clear though, that’s just my way. Humor and clarity.

Approximately 11 ½ years ago, Wicca was introduced to me. It is the perfect blend of a nature based religion steeped in Kabbalistic teachings. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism. If you don’t know what that is, use a search engine. That will explain it more clearly for you.

For me, Wicca was like coming home. It was pretty much everything I had been raised around, especially a love for animals and nature, and the elements. Part of the Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will”. There is no governing body, you govern yourself, and the Wiccan Rede tells you “So long as you are not harming anyone, do as you will. Live your life.” It is laid back and calm, and it brings an extra level of peace to my life. Even my Rabbi is comfortable with my spiritual beliefs. He’s one of the most open people I have ever met, so I feel supremely comfortable being myself and speaking my mind around him. Until I met him, I had NEVER been in the presence of a man of God and not felt judged. However, my Rabbi is unique. He too, is from a foundation of “You’re not harming anyone by being you. Live your life.” In this, I always feel incredibly blessed.

Almost all of my friends are religiously different than I am, and that is beyond ok. I am not sitting in judgement of them or their beliefs. I want them to be their authentic selves, and I can only hope they want the same for me. I have friends that are Jewish and friends that are Wiccan, so I don’t feel spiritually deprived in any sense of the word. We should all celebrate what we believe in and do so with those we love. We should wish the people in our lives well EVERY DAY, not just during the month of December.

So Lisa, exactly how does a Jewish American Wiccan “celebrate Christmas”? Simply put, I don’t. I ignore the insanity of my neighbors, all of whom DO celebrate Christmas, and I go about my day. I will bake Cranberry Orange scones for breakfast, I will do laundry and maybe enjoy a movie. I will play with my fuzzy little Princess. Later on, I will be making a nice meal for the family I am spending my day with. I might even get some writing finished, if I’m feeling up to it. Basically, anything goes. It’s just another quiet day for me. After years and years spent taking care of others, quiet days are something I really treasure.

Wishing you & yours a beautiful holiday season.

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The Blogiversary

The Blogiversary

*Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam Webster, here’s a new word for you!*

Yesterday I quietly celebrated the day I had some kind of mental breakdown and created this blog. I’m kidding about the mental breakdown, but I honestly have NO idea what possessed me.

I know the list on my publishing mandate was getting to me, I’ve talked about this many times over the course of this year. Never give a Scorpio woman a lists of Dos, and really, don’t EVER tell HER what to do. She’ll be incredibly liable to tell you what to do, with a slew of choice words mixed into her phraseology.

I’m a writer, I write what I want, when I want, and I say exactly what I’m thinking. I’ve had people refuse to edit my work because they didn’t feel qualified to touch it. GOOD, you’re NOT. Thanks ever so much for clearing that up!

I remember signing up for this blog, publishing my first post, and then saying “Now what?!” I continued to post, really not expecting anything. Quickly, I started acquiring likes, followers, and in this past year I have made friends that I hope I will have for a very long time, if not a lifetime.

I named my blog, “…..And The Moon Sees All” because it is a very personal, private kind of statement for me. It also helps that it is unique. I only recently discovered how unique the name actually is when it was the first site to appear on a Google search. You can Google my name and you will find everyone else named Lisa Marino. Literally, everyone, but me. However, when you type in the name of this blog, you just get me. I have to say, I like that a lot.

Unique blog name aside, I generally don’t start a lot of sentences with “And”, mainly because I’m a Word Nazi. That’s why the blog looks like it’s the end of a sentence. It is, to some extent. A typo, a misspelled or missed word, and you will see me physically and, on occasion, visibly cringe, as if a snake just went up the back of my shirt. When I see it on someone else’s blog, I want to fix it. It drives me insane. I am definitely obsessive compulsive in this sense, and I always have been. When I find a mistake in something I wrote ten years ago, it drives me up the wall. It could be something as simple as a missing word or a missing comma, but it will drive me to fix it immediately. Hey, I never claimed to be normal, don’t expect it.

A year (and a day) into this blog has me thinking about how it all began for me as a writer, and why. I think about all the spelling tests I aced without fail. I think of the absolute BEST English teacher I ever had, Mrs. Hughes, who not only thought I was a top student, possibly the top student of all the English classes she taught, but also the fact that she believed in my ability to carry the written word further. I remember showing her midrange stages of my writing accomplishments and being able to nail scores of recommendation letters when I graduated because word got out, and everyone was so blown away by just the midrange stage of what I could do. They had yet to see me truly shine, but they all knew I would.

I had professors fail me when I was a journalism major because apparently my creative writing was “too honest.” I cannot imagine saying that to someone, but I can imagine recommending them for a different class to help push them in the right direction. I didn’t choose that particular class, it was a prerequisite. I had one professor make it sound like I was going to destroy his entire writing class, simply because I would not adhere to HIS style of how the written word should be. Hey, it’s your style buddy, not mine. I honestly don’t think anyone else in that class WAS writing, but I’m not dwelling on it because he also told me that I had no talent and would NEVER write. He was oh so wrong.

When I decided that I was no longer going to focus on journalism, it was mainly due to some health setbacks. I knew I would continue to accomplish other things, as I always have, and I knew I would continue to write, but I didn’t have a clear view of the path. I did, however, have faith that whatever I was meant to do, I’d be put on the right path and do the work. I have never asked for the work to be done for me.

Health wise, Fibromyalgia is a demon you never quite conquer. It is parasitic in its nature to take hold and feed off of your life force. It makes me angry, knowing how much it has slowed me down and exactly how much it has stripped me of. I battle it every single day. There will forever be good and bad days. I no longer self-abuse (I said abuse, not self-harm. Self-abuse, for me, is more mental than anything else.) when I cannot do something. I no longer berate myself when I cannot get out of bed. I no longer force myself to do things that will leave me laying in bed for weeks at a time in pain. I’ve had to let go and realize that I may physically be limited a lot of the time, but my voice and the core of who I am have remained the same. If anything, I’ve probably just gained a fresher perspective.

What has changed for me since this blog went live? I’ve changed, in some wonderful ways. Instead of writing without an awful lot of feedback, I get feedback on an almost daily basis, and quickly. When I write something great, people leave me comments or send me e-mails, and as a writer, I feel supported. No one is sitting in judgement of me here. I thank all of you for that, because I’m not judging any of you either.

Yes, I’ve come across a handful of people who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near humans, computers, social media, animals, humans, and did I mention humans? They should have their hands removed and their mouths sutured shut, and they should be locked away from civilization because they’re making anyone with a truly serious mental illness look 1 million percent sane. Spewing hatred is incredibly unattractive, I don’t allow that here, and I don’t allow that in any aspect of my life. Spewing hatred toward women and a religious group differing from your own is fucking disgusting. I’ve had a few comments come my way that were incredibly uncalled for and completely unprovoked. However, I’ve had support from various people in many instances and the uncivilized have been cast out. I have had exactly ONE person take offense to something I said, and my hand to God, I was not anywhere in the vicinity of offensive. I was downright nice and friendly, which for me is HUGE. I answered a question with detailed, informative honesty. I was insulted and berated for it, simply because this person disagreed with me. If you don’t have anything nice to say to a person, don’t say anything at all. A simple “Thank you for reading my blog/post.” is sufficient. Don’t ask a person to elaborate on something you yourself are not knowledgeable about and then act like they’ve committed some kind of crime by answering you. If I want to offend you, believe me, I possess all the necessary tools to do so. I can go from zero to bitch in less than half a second, but I choose not to be a vicious tart here. I choose to keep this space as positive as humanly possible, and supportive. I’m not competing with anyone here for niceness, or “best blog”, or ANYTHING. I compete with myself as a writer, but there will always be better writers than I, of writers who simply have a different perspective, and that is 100% what life is all about.

We all have our personal space on the blogosphere, and if you come into mine, be respectful. If I leave a comment on your blog, you can bet it’s not going to be a hate-filled, mean rant. I will either agree, disagree, laugh with you, cry with you, or relate to you. I might even have some advice, if that’s what you happen to be seeking. I have a lot on my “life plate”, and I don’t suffer fools, assholes, or the ignorant.

To the friends I’ve made here, who make my days so much brighter with comments, e-mails, private messages, phone calls, and texts: THANK YOU. You’re all seeing me exactly as I am and that makes me feel so good inside. There is a great sense of community here and for that, I am supremely grateful.

Taking into account that this particular gesture still leaves me speechless, I have to say, it’s been a good year here. I look forward to many more.

http://fairytaleepidemic.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/22-and-the-moon-sees-all/

Thank you for all being here and supporting me as an artist. Yes, even writers are artists. 🙂

Missing In Action…Of Cats And Men

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I’ve definitely been ‘Missing In Action’ for a bit, and for that I apologize. This is a particularly difficult time of year for me to start with, made harder by the fact that I’m going through some unhappy things in my daily life, and to add insult to injury, I am coming down with something. The severe temperature drop after the second round of snow hit me like a ton of bricks, and we’re about to get more snow. I was so completely out of it for a while, and I’m slowly trying to get myself back to a place of not wanting to sleep 18 hours a day. Top that off with the fact that I am showing signs of severe allergy to my kitten (Shh,. don’t tell her, she’d be heartbroken.)! The allergic reaction is slowly starting to heal, and I am praying that’s ALL it was, though I strongly suspect she was not fully treated for something at the shelter and I caught it. Lucky me! Who knew how many weird things could be passed from cat to human?! Normally I’m the one calling my vet to make sure I can’t accidentally give the cat whatever I happen to have. Setting aside the fact that I suffer from migraines and Fibromyalgia, I am actually pretty healthy, but every once in a while something weird rears its ugly head and knocks me out for a while. I have wanted to do nothing, but sleep and rest my pained body this week.

On an entertaining note, I get a phone call at 4:30 this morning from an, as yet, unidentified male in my life. I want to sell him on Ebay at this point, especially after this morning’s antics.

I have been utterly hounded by this person for the past three and a half days over what they should or should not wear to a job interview. How many times can one try on a suit for me with different shirts after I have repeatedly said “Solid white or cream colored shirt. Solid colored tie.” That’s the most simple, direct instruction in the world, right? With a black pinstripe suit, too many additional lines is overkill, yes?

At exactly 10:45 this morning, while I was sleeping no less, a striped white shirt and striped tie were unceremoniously shoved in my face with the question “These are good, right?” Why the fuck did you ask me AT ALL if you were just going to do what you usually do, which is NOT LISTEN?! I responded by saying, not in my most polite of tones, “I said to get a plain shirt and a solid colored tie. I said it repeatedly. What part of that did you not understand? By the way, I am SLEEPING. I will deal with you later.” I might have even said “Get the fuck out of my face right now.”, which is about as kind as I can be when you’re disrupting my sleep with nonsense that could have waited until I was my normal, functioning self. I admit, my “normal, functioning self” isn’t the textbook version of “normal”, but hey, he knows me well enough to know NOT to pull these stunts.

Men, I am going to give you severely important advice right now, so listen closely. Do not EVER ask a woman if she’s “on her period” simply because she doesn’t give you a sweet, loving response on no sleep. I’m not your mother. I do not have to pick out your clothes for you, wipe your ass, change your diaper, or anything else a mother would do for you. I am also NOT a bitch simply because you chose the wrong time to approach me with what is somehow SO unbelievably important that you feel the need to call me at 4:30 in the morning, later agreeing that I should go with you in a day or two to pick out the shirt and tie so that you will look nice, and then getting a hair up your ass and doing the wrong thing, only to wake me with said items about four inches from my face. The lines were so distracting, I’ve never seen a cat take off so fast in my life! She was laying here so innocently getting her beauty rest when, she too, is barraged by fashion. I haven’t seen the poor thing since!

In all honesty, I think she’s still scarred from the hour or so she spent in the laundry room this morning after my 4:30 phone call. I warned her not to follow me, I even shooed her out of the room several times as I was putting my stuff into the dryer. I went back to what I was doing after that, but about 40 minutes later, I couldn’t find her. I walked around calling for her, because she comes trotting in my direction from wherever she may have been or goes flying after me when she hears my voice. She doesn’t respond so much to her name, as she does to the fact that she hears me and knows she is being summoned to follow when she hears me say “Where’s Mommy’s baby? I can’t find you.” Or she just hears my voice and comes running for the sake of getting to run around like a hell hound, who knows.

Now normally, I don’t go back into the laundry room once the dryer is finished because I know my stuff is dry and these particular items did not need to be folded or require any immediate after care. I only went in because I’d washed one of my football jackets and wanted to be 100% sure that sucker was dry. I didn’t want to have to re-wash it because I walked away too quickly. Mind you, this little baby is still very small and does not have a real voice yet. She has a barely audible squeak, and you only hear it if she does it right at you or you are really quiet and happen to hear her voicing her issues, whatever those issues may be at any given moment. I opened the door and she came flying out, running into my arms for warmth and safety. The laundry room is the only unheated room in the house. My guess is that is the case because it was added on to the house, and is not a part of the original structure. This is precisely why I didn’t want her in there to begin with. There’s always something dangerous that someone so tiny can get into, and by the way she has been following me around since “the ordeal”, I’m praying she learned her lesson and will never do that again. I spent the entire time calling for her and honestly thought she was under the bed or in another room ignoring me, as she is wont to do at times. As loving, needy, sweet, playful, and affectionate as she is, she is also an independent seeker of trouble. I say “No!” roughly 100 times a day, or more. Now that I think about it, it’s similar to how I talk to unidentified male. Coincidence? I think NOT. On the plus side, at least she’s civilized.

Sunshine Award

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Thank you to Shaun @ http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com for this award. I swear, no one else is thinking about me when it comes to awards. (I’m sort of kidding, but I’ve gotta give a man his props.)

The rules of this award are the following:

1) Use the logo above in the post.

2) Link to whoever nominated you.

3) Write ten pieces of information about yourself.

4) Nominate ten fellow bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”

5) Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.

Ten pieces of information about myself:

1. I know more about forensics than I will ever let on.

2. It drives me utterly insane when a person can’t spell or makes basic errors when writing, myself included. We all possess the Spell Check option, do we not? Some people really need to use it. I’m a total word Nazi.

3. It makes me ill when a book is far more phenomenal than its movie counterpart. This is generally the case due to time restrictions, but I’d much rather watch a well made movie in 4+ hours (or broken into two parts, like Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows) than a bad one in an hour and twenty minutes.

4. I’m an October Scorpio. Most people assume we’re all evil, manipulative, and jealous. I am none of the above, which is a benefit of severe self-awareness.

5. One of the most difficult things for me to do is ask for help.

6. I’m really proud of the person I’ve become. I’ve worked hard to be someone I can look in the mirror and respect. I think it’s an incredibly important thing in life to achieve.

7. If I lose respect for you, that’s a big problem. Once you break it, you’re forever on thin ice.

8. I wouldn’t wish Fibromyalgia on my worst enemy, whomever he or she may be.

9. After swearing up and down that I’d never touch or try sushi, I finally did in the last week or so. I have a new favorite type of food! I even went back for seconds.

10. Setting aside the fact that I’m a writer at heart, at the core of who I am, I’m also a frustrated jewelry designer and make-up artist. Those are my secondary creative outlets.

I now nominate 10 people:

1. Knocked Over By A Feather

2. Not Taken, Not Available

3. Welcome To The Fish Bowl

4. My Spoken Heart

5. Finding My Inner Courage

6. High, High, Higher…

7. Pocket Money Polishes

8. I Didn’t Have My Glasses On

9. Fairytale Epidemic

10. Bipolar BarbieQ

I hope you can all accept. I chose each person for their unique approach at blogging, which I respect. There’s room here for all of us. Be kind, be safe.

You don’t have to do the whole list to accept the award, as I know many of you are exhausted from them.

Lately…

Lately I have found myself on the receiving end of a lot of preaching. One of the first things anyone should know about me is that I am 100% unpreachable. I’m completely unreceptive to it, especially when the approach is so obnoxiously aggressive, and almost negative in some respects. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Bible Thumper. I respect difference of religion so long as one’s beliefs are not being shoved down my throat and recited to me as Gospel, but I will not respect, accept, or allow someone to be disrespectful to me or anyone that reads this blog.

I make my own decisions, my own choices. I live by a specific code, and nobody tells me what to do, think, say, feel, or how to be. There’s no one controlling me. I believe in freedom of speech (Though I can honestly say that some people need to have the right revoked, simply for taking it WAY TOO FAR! And I mean that in the sense that their idea of “freedom of speech” is sick, not helpful or thought-provoking.), in the right to bear arms, in the right to practice whatever religion you choose, so long as you aren’t harming anyone, in the right to love whoever you choose, and I’m a firm believer that when you are trying to seek help for yourself in ANY way, you should be treated with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and empathy. If a person cannot at least be polite & professional, then they need to find another line of work if their job means dealing with people or the public on a daily basis.

One of the most important things I learned as a writer, and in business, and this was literally day one, is that not everyone you encounter is going to like you, and that you have to accept that. I don’t like more than half of the people I encounter in this world, but I still believe in having manners and being respectful. I still believe in holding doors for people, in assisting one with directions if they are lost, and in general, not being an asshole. I’m completely intolerant when it comes to the many varieties of assholes in this world, and there are so many, it’s unreal.

Whenever I mention an aspect of religion on this blog, it is by no means coming from a “Live as I live” point of view. I am not telling anyone what to think or believe. It’s coming from a “This is my story, and I’m going to tell it the way I want to tell it.” perspective. We all have different beliefs, and that’s exactly how it should be. Differences make the word go ’round. We all have a unique point of view, and so many of us have amazing gifts and stories to share with the world. I have an immense amount of respect for that, and for the individuals I speak with on a regular basis.

If you visit my blog, please respect others that also visit. Some people think they have the right to comment on other people’s comments, but I don’t feel that way. If a comment is left for me, then I am going to answer it. If a comment is left for someone else, that’s a whole different ball game, but again, I encourage respect. I have deleted some things I felt were inappropriate and/or disrespectful for a number of reasons.

At the end of the day, this may be a public blog that anyone can stumble upon and read, but I will always get the final say in the material in which I allow my readers to be subjected to. If anyone is ever bothered by something, come to me directly and I will do whatever needs doing to correct it. If you find that you dislike me or my approach, there’s an Unfollow button. Use it if you choose, I know I do.

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Caturday Came A Day Early…

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Yesterday was my “day off” after a pretty tumultuous week. My pain levels are driving me up the wall, and a few people in my life are choosing now, of all times, to be idiotic, pathetic, childish morons. Do you all wait for me to have PMS and be raring to go after you with a hockey stick or are you really just that stupid?! For the record, I could be talking about a plethora of people, so please, don’t flatter yourself into thinking I’m talking about you unless you actually know you’re a moron and have been behaving in a childish, pathetic manner.

It has been my experience that morons are completely oblivious to the shit that comes out of their mouth, as well as how they act and behave. If you’ve said or done something stupid and I have kept my mouth shut thus far, trust me when I say that I’m being merciful.

Yesterday morning I discovered a black & white kitten in my back yard. I was on my way upstairs and out of the corner of my eye was a kitten in typical cat like predatorial position, seemingly staring at something near the storage shed. I opened the door and called out to her, but she refused to leave her post. After about an hour or so, she slowly started to move around the yard, still watching something that I couldn’t see or hear, and I decided to put some food out for her and see if she’d bite.

She had no collar or visible tags and she kept looking right at me, so I know she’s not afraid of me (and yes, I know she’s actually a she because male cats have a totally different look to them facially and physically.). I’ve seen her in passing for a few months roaming around 4-5 houses close to mine, darting across the street in the early evening hours, but I have no idea if she’s microchipped and belongs to someone, if she’s been abandoned, or if she’s a stray. It’s possible she belongs to someone and is an outdoor cat, but to not have a collar or tags is usually a good indicator that the owner doesn’t really give a shit about their animal, and it pisses me off big time when people do that.

I suspect she’s been sleeping in my yard at night for quite some time because I’ve been hearing some major purring underneath my window pretty much every night. If you’re not a cat owner or cat lover, you have no idea what it’s like to have a purring little being lull you to sleep. I miss that SO MUCH after losing my macaroon in January. I felt like I was cheating a bit calling out to this kitten, I actually looked around as if she might hear me, but it comes down to me simply not being able to allow a kitten to hang out in my yard without feeding it and making sure it’s safe and belongs to someone. I’ll see if we develop trust between us because right now, I don’t want to spook her. She was here for several hours and then walked around the yard and left. She’s beautiful, but young. Maybe a year old, if that. Still a baby. I would take her in, in a New York Minute, and I don’t usually say that about an animal older than 10 weeks. Kittens are my personal preference and are such a joy to raise. I am well aware that older cats need homes too, and plenty of people in my area are adopting them, so I am not about to change my preference unless a situation presents itself. I do not compromise who I am to make other people feel better about themselves.

As of right now, I am supposed to attend a kitten/cat adoption event the day of my birthday in a few weeks. Initially I was really looking forward to this, I was so excited at the possibility of coming home with “little people”. It’s in the Main Line (outside of Philly), so it’s still close enough that if I don’t find a kitten or two to take home I can always attend their November event, but I’m honestly just going to wing it. If I wake up that morning and I’m feeling good, then I’ll go. If I wake up and I don’t feel it, then I will wait until next Spring and give myself that much more time to heal because in all honesty, I have a feeling that’s what I really need.

This has been a year that has shown me who I am. It has brought out a deeper strength I did not know I possessed, a fighting spirit that is so much fiercer than she used to be, and a person who sees things and people in a much clearer fashion. I will no longer hold on to things, relationships/friendships, or anything that doesn’t give me a sense of peace and happiness. I will not change to make others feel better, but I will change if I see something within me that needs fixing, for me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being yourself. I now fully realize that some people don’t know how to take that, and that some people simply want to run and hide from it because they’re really running and hiding from themselves. That’s not my issue. If you ask me to be a part of your life in any way, shape, or form, then I am going to be myself. If you ask me for advice, help, honesty, or to listen, then I will do exactly that. If I extend the hand of friendship, fully consider it before smacking it away as if you’re two years old.

I’m going to spend my weekend writing, reading, resting, and healing. I will squeeze some cleaning, laundry, and cooking into the fray, and I will try to catch the Pirates game tomorrow as well. Beyond that, I really just want to be left alone with my own thoughts. What next week holds is a whole other story, but I already know it’ll be challenging. I will make it through, and so will you.

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, in an extremely bizarre reality, I was in a relationship I should not have been in. The warning signs were there, but some people burn so brightly that you don’t seem to notice you’re going up in flames and turning to ash. Immensely large red flares of danger were being sent up so I wouldn’t get burned. Did that stop anything? Not so much.

He was the quintessential “bad boy”, complete with a Harley Davidson collection (the actual motorcycles, not memorabilia.), tattoos, multiple drug addictions, and a one million foot yacht chock full of issues. Maybe the maternal, nurturing aspect of me wanted to fix or heal him. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’m thankful every single day that it is no longer a part of my life.

Initially there was no reaction or emotion from me towards him. He was just a guy, a guy all kinds of women fell for, but I prided myself on not adding myself to the throng of fools. Until one day, when I was seemingly drawn in like a moth to a flame. Except I wasn’t a moth, I was a butterfly, and yet, I suddenly had to have him. The pull was intense. He was crazy about me; The only person who challenged him, who questioned everything, and who was not impressed by anything. The problems though, they were simmering under the surface, just waiting to come out, one by one.

They started relatively early. I had never been told I was “too skinny” before. Even as a former gymnast that had experienced bouts of bulimia on & off for about two years after realizing that I’d never be an Olympic anything. I did not consider myself “too skinny” or “too” anything, really. I had the mouth of a Marine on leave, a writing career that had taken off in an amazing way, and a guy who told me he loved me, but to this day probably doesn’t know the meaning of the word. Someone send that man a dictionary. You’ll find him in there, somewhere very close to the word “Douchebag”, providing you’ve opted for a Webster’s upgrade.

His job allowed me the independence and space that I like in a relationship. I can’t have someone in my face 24/7, nagging, and standing over my shoulder like a watch dog. It drives me insane. He respected that, until the possessiveness became more than just one or two phone calls a day. At first it simply seemed like he was going out of his way to surprise me and brighten aspects of my life, but that wasn’t it, not at all.

The man could spit out promises just as quickly as he broke them, I just didn’t know he was trying to break me in the process.

The criticism I endured throughout the course of this relationship was actually harsher than what I dealt with from my family, and even though I had a comeback for everything he said, the words still haunt me… I went from being vibrant, smart, confident, & 100% in control to depressed, unhappy, paranoid, angry, & jealous. I was reduced to questioning why I was somehow not good enough for him. It was irrational and insane. Logically there was always an inner voice telling me “He’s not good enough for you. What are you doing?! This man is poison. Tell him to go to hell and walk away.”

I remember crying one night to my best friend at the time, after a particularly shitty thing he’d lied about. Here I was, the strongest, toughest, most direct chick people knew, asking “Why would he lie to me like that? Why would he lie about something so important? Why aren’t I good enough for him?” I was devastated by the pathological way in which he’d lie.

My best friend consoled me quietly, basically saying she didn’t know why he had lied or why he would, but eventually, months later, she told me I was “Too smart, too pretty, and all around way too good for the likes of him!” She meant it. She’d had enough of him hurting me. She was furious that he would hurt me in such a manner and then behave as if all was right in the world, and her anger continued to fuel when he showed up at a work event we all attended with a married woman on his arm. “A friend”, he’d called her. More like a drug supplier he’d hooked up with. He was spiraling and wanted to take me with him, but I would not allow that.

For the record, I was already ass deep in alligators when I realized just how big an issue the drugs actually were because they weren’t an issue at the onset. It went from being an old football injury to being an all-consuming, problem-inducing, complete lack of grip on reality. It started out small, as many addictions do, and escalated until it had to be confronted. I did not condone it in any way and refused to support the habit. I was not going to be in a relationship with an addict, period. I was the catalyst to get him into rehab, explaining in list formation all that he would lose if he did not get clean. But as most people can tell you, 30 days in rehab will detox you, it might even get you to talk about why you got into it in the first place, but it’s every single day after leaving a protected environment that matters most. If you have people that love & support you, you have a greater chance at remaining sober. You might slip up, recovery is going to be a constant for the rest of your life, but the effort you put forth is SO important. However, if you return to the exact same lifestyle and friends you had during the height of your illness, it will revert you right back into it at some point, especially if you have no real desire to be clean, no willpower, and no real desire to live. It’s a way of committing suicide slowly, secretly hoping that one day it’ll all be over and you don’t personally have to do the heavy lifting, or deal with the aftermath.

Part of what saddens me about the relationship itself is that I defended, protected, and shielded this man. I was the epitome of devoted and loyal to the Nth degree. My love was genuine, and yet I was constantly criticized, going as far as to be told that I wasn’t good enough to be introduced to his parents, who for years, he told me were dead (I’d later find out he only wished they were.), because of our differing religions. Who the hell were these people? England’s Monarchy?! How isolated and ignorant were they to think their religion was the only one that existed in this world?! This was not the first time someone had taken issue with my religion and tried to make me feel guilty for it. I was considered “not Jewish enough” by one guy’s family, and now I was being made to feel like I was somehow inappropriate and shameful.

Suddenly, after years of knowing our religions were different, it became this big issue, and we fought about it a lot. Would I be willing to convert to Roman Catholicism for him? HELL NO. Would I sign a pre-nup? Whoa, where the hell did THAT come from?! You want to marry me, you’ve asked, I’ve accepted, but now you’re afraid I suddenly want to be with you for financial gain? Seriously?! Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always taken care of myself. He knew that. I don’t expect a man to pay for my lifestyle. I’m fully capable of making my own money, buying my own clothes, jewelry, etc.  I think you should want to take care of your partner and be a provider, but relationships are give and take. I did not expect to just sit on my ass and be given anything, so I waffled back and forth on that little tidbit.

The ever present “Would you please eat?!” grated on my nerves. He’d bring me food for several years of our relationship, but not in a loving, caring, concerned way (I do like it when I’m sick and a guy has the sense to bring me soup or Italian food. There’s something very nurturing about that.), but in an extremely controlling manner. As soon as I gained about 15 pounds from this constant influx of food, I was suddenly told the exact opposite. Now I wasn’t thin enough, I was becoming the woman who he didn’t want anyone else looking at. What was so shameful about being curvy? He’d have a fit whenever we’d be somewhere and someone else would check me out. I was not the one doing the looking, yet he was suddenly paranoid that anyone who checked me out was somehow going to end up in my bed. It was eye-rollingly ridiculous.

He’d do something shitty, and I’d be “rewarded” with jewelry or flowers, sometimes both, depending on the situation. It got to a point where I began to loathe the pink & purple roses I loved so much. To this day if someone sends me roses, I cringe inside. He would promise to be somewhere I needed him to be, but was almost always off feeding his drug habit, or as I would later find out through a friend, a habit for other women.

It was demanded upon me that I be 100% faithful. That was not a problem because I’d never cheated on someone before and wasn’t about to start, but because he was the one doing all the cheating, he started having people follow me to find out what I was doing every time I left the house. Stalker much?! It was sick. It was also an excuse.

I’d had enough after confronting someone he often had tail me, and I put my foot down. I’m not big on ultimatums, but he needed to hear what his behavior was doing, that it was unhealthy and damaging, and completely unwarranted and unacceptable. It came down to this: He needed to return to rehab, fully commit to it, and he then needed to be clean & sober for a year before I would agree to marriage. It was high time for him to prove that he was worthy of me, not the other way around.

He went to rehab for a few months, coming back apologetic, and for a while things were simply tense. We talked, but clearly he was refusing to hear me. He was about to do something he’d probably been considering for quite some time, and simply hadn’t been man enough to say to my face. The ring on my finger probably made me believe a slew of lies I was actually too smart to actually buy into in the first place, but there was something slightly blinding & intoxicating about it. But the truth of the matter is, it was just plain toxic.

The problem with relationships slowly turning abusive is that, initially, we think we’re in the right relationship with the right person, until suddenly we’re not.

For years after this relationship ended I’d hear “Oh, LET IT GO!” whenever I mentioned how hurt, angry, or betrayed I felt, as if emotions could be turned off like a faucet. How could I not feel all of those things?! Saying “I love you” is not a cure all. Actions speak louder than words. His actions were atrocious.

With a ring still solidly on my finger, he married someone else, just weeks after saying we were good and moving in the right direction, that he was trying. I had to find out via an announcement his new wife was sending to friends & family. He would go on to have several children with her pretty quickly, each time choosing names we had decided on for our future offspring. That was the icing on the cake. I seriously worried about my ability to be around him in any capacity after that, so I disengaged. I made sure that whenever he’d be around, I would not be present. Hurting someone you claim to love in such a manner is vile, but to then go on living your life as if said loved one never existed is even worse. I started to think I was losing my mind. If it had not been for the fact that I knew the relationship had occurred, and exactly what I had endured, I’d have felt like I was being erased.

He & I continue to have mutual friends. I’ve stopped speaking to all, but three of them because I’m tired of hearing the lies. “He asked about you.”, “He hopes you’re all right. He just wants you to be happy.”, “He cares about you.” PLEASE! He never cared in the first place, it was a fucking game to him. No matter how many times I would ask these friends not to relay anything he said about me, it would come up in conversation, until I finally changed my phone number and said “No more.”

Not one to eat bullshit politely with a knife and fork, I have gone out of my way to avoid him since all of this went down. In truth, I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I didn’t do anything wrong, except believe in a person I shouldn’t have given the time of day to, but hey, we all make mistakes. Avoiding him is my way of remaining a healthy, non-toxic human-being. I know that eventually, at some point, we will run into one another, and I pray that I am not carrying a loaded weapon that day or wearing particularly high heels because even though people tell me I’m not a damaging, harmful person to be around, and that I’d never willingly hurt someone, I cannot promise that the desire to harm him won’t be there. Some of the rage goes away with time, but any time the relationship is mentioned or I come across something from that time period, I am flooded with everything I thought I’d already moved past. For me, that lets me know the damage runs deep. It does not, nor will it ever, mean that I care about him. I don’t. I wouldn’t spit on this man if he was on fire.

Once I no longer love/respect someone, my emotions will often turn to pity, anger (at myself & the other person involved), & my anger is a burning rage that can simmer and bubble for years until it is truly out of my system. If the anger is unjustified, it eventually dwindles and the flames put out, but if it IS justified, stay the hell out of my way. I can go from zero to bitch in about half a second.

Unfortunately, there are so many different kinds of abuse in the world, that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint if you are the abused or the abuser. Sometimes you are simultaneously both, even if you don’t intend to be.

Writing this makes me feel a bit like I’m back in Psych class, but I’ve been revisiting certain things lately, which is why I am writing about such a personal, private matter, but if what I’m saying helps even one person get out of a toxic relationship, then that’s important and necessary.

If you’re in any kind of relationship where your words and feelings are being defined in an incorrect manner, where you are constantly insulted, and berated, it is time to take a closer look at this relationship. Thinking this person is “the best you can do”, having low, little, or no self-esteem, or coming from a “people pleasing” type of family are all potential signs you’ve probably overlooked. Most people do. When you’ve been taught that everything around you is “normal” and a part of your daily life, you stop questioning things. You begin to lose your inner voice. Once you lose your inner voice, you start to become everything the abuser has defined you as. Your thoughts, feelings, actions, everything is now completely defined by someone else. Moreover, you question yourself and promise yourself you’ll be better for them, that you will do everything right, not realizing that your life is your own, it is not owned by someone else.

Believe it or not, I am a product of abuse. Not just from the relationship I am talking about, but from my childhood. I am very forthcoming about that fact when approached, but generally I keep such things to myself. However, when a person comes to me and needs help, I am the first person to listen, and the first to say something.

For many, many years I handled the abuse (verbal, emotional, and physical) by throwing myself into my writing and my singing. One day I snapped, I’d had enough. I was 100% committed in the fact that I’d kill the other person and spend my life in jail, but I believed in my cause because I was protecting two other people. I took the brunt of everything so they wouldn’t have to. To this day, one of those people denies that 99% of the abuse ever occurred. It must be nice living in such a warped bubble of false memories, but I know what I lived, I know what I saw, and it is sad for me to see this person deny the abuse and become the abuser themselves. If you correct this person, or disagree with them, they will say YOU are abusing THEM. It’s a vicious cycle, however, I know that by standing up and saying ENOUGH, and being committed to putting a stop to it, that I did the right thing. If I hadn’t, I’d be in jail right now. Or worse.

People are often shocked to learn that I’ve been through such things. I don’t deny being strong and confident, and I don’t deny that I will say something is wrong when it is wrong, regardless of who is saying it. I will admit to being wrong on the rare occasion that I am. But I will not allow myself to live a life of abuse. I won’t allow someone to define me, to disrespect me, to use me, to tell me what I think, to tell me where to go, or tell me what I am allowed to do. When someone behaves that way around me, I am very happy to show them the door. I know I deserve better.

I look for different things in people now, and I always pay attention to my intuition. It is an immense part of who I am. If someone or something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If something feels innately wrong, re-evaluate it and follow your instincts. Intuition will never lie to you, but the heart will. If your relationship involves young children, get out NOW. You do not want your child/children to be affected by the abuse inflicted upon their mother in front of them. I know people that have stayed in these relationships because they believed that taking their children out of the home during the formative years was the worst possible thing they could do. It’s not. The worst thing you can do is stay and allow them to think that what they’re hearing, seeing, and living is normal. If you get out early enough, you will save yourself and your child/children a fortune in therapy bills.

Once upon a time, I was a moron. It won’t happen again, because I am firmly committed to not allowing it. No one defines me, except me.

*If you need help getting out of an abusive/unhealthy relationship or are living with domestic violence and don’t know where to turn please go to any of the following organizations for assistance: http://soarinri.org/  http://leavingabuse.com/, http://www.thehotline.org/, http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/, http://www.teendvmonth.org/, etc.

Do not be afraid to search the Internet and Yellow Pages for additional resources available to you in your area/country. If your abuser uses the same computer, always be sure to delete your browsing history to protect yourself from additional harm, or go to the library if available and search for information there.*

“Once Upon A Time”, and all material herein, unless otherwise indicated and credited to its owner(s), is copyright © 2013 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Editor’s Note: This is about two relationships that I combined into one story. It’s about a 70/30 split between the two. I was engaged to both of them. I can say in clear truth that the second person was a far better person than the first, and he did not verbally or emotionally abuse me. He simply wasn’t the right person for me because we wanted different things. He thought I wanted a lifestyle, which was not the case. I do not believe in giving up love, respect, loyalty, and fidelity for “things”. He wanted the “little woman” at home raising the kids in the amazing house, and yes, he would have been a great provider and a good father, but he didn’t realize that meant he’d have to be loyal, committed, and most importantly, faithful. I won’t settle for a half-life, no one should.