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.

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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.

A Piece Of Big Apple PRIDE!

A Piece Of Big Apple PRIDE!

http://main.aol.com/2013/07/17/2013-mlb-all-star-game-la_n_3600996.html

*If you’re not a baseball fan, don’t read this. If you are, this is me, sharing my pride in Mariano Rivera, MVP of this year’s All-Star Game, which will be the final of his career. For those of you who don’t know, or those who live outside North America, Mariano is the ace of the New York Yankees bullpen. He has been our closer for 16 years of his 19 year career as a Yankee.

He is the epitome of humble, respectful, soft-spoken, and kind. As a New Yorker, and a born Yankees fan, I take great pride in the players that are “no laughs, no bullshit”. The ones that do their jobs, that don’t embarrass themselves, their team, their fans, or the city which they represent <cough, A-Rod, cough>. Mariano is that kind of player, the one that even opposing teams respect because they’re in awe of his abilities on the field, on a career that is damn near flawless in performance.

It was a great moment last night to see him respectfully applauded at Citi-Field amongst a, mostly, hometown crowd. Especially by his American League teammates and the opposing National League players. For his last All-Star Game to be in New York, for him to be the first closer to ever receive the MVP award at the All-Star Game, those are big things. This man is a future Hall of Famer for sure, and not only does he make me proud to be a New Yorker, he also reminds me that the American Dream of success and hard work is still alive and well.

I am SO proud of you Mo. I’ve watched you from day one and have always cheered you on and respected you. Last night made me emotional, knowing that you will retire at the end of this season. The team and baseball will not be the same without you. It will probably take someone the next 50 years to try to break all of the records you have worked so hard to achieve, rarely giving yourself the credit you so deserve. Believe me when I say that I will one day tell my children of your greatness, the same way my parents told me about Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and a host of other greats that followed in their footsteps.

At the end of the season, win or lose, you will always be named among the greats. I am proud to have witnessed your career and will always smile whenever I see your face. I also promise to beat the crap out of anyone I ever see wearing the number 42. They’re not worthy!!*

Does Anyone Thi…

Does Anyone Think This Will Work?!

“For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe.” -Larry Eisenberg

Maybe its my Superwoman complex, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to give up the cape that says “Chief Everything Officer”. You wouldn’t believe the parking spaces it gets me. LOL.

Five Years

Five Years

Today, as I do several times a year, I mourn the loss of my mother. Today is her birthday, a birthday she should have lived to see. This is always a really difficult time of year for me, but so is the date of her death, so is Mother’s Day, so is my birthday, and pretty much every holiday where her presence is missed. Don’t get me wrong, she is missed on a daily basis, but there are certain times when the loss is far more painful than others.

This past week was bad for me. Emotionally, physically, and mentally burned out are words I’d use to describe how I feel. Despondent is another, and mid-week I SNAPPED. I didn’t have some random, out-of-the-blue flip out, I didn’t have some public meltdown, I simply had something happen in my house that caused a few hours of clean-up, and about five minutes into the clean-up, I flipped the hell out. Words I would normally keep to myself, discuss in a better place, in a private manner, came tumbling out of my mouth faster than I could pull them back. Eventually I did just shut up and stop, but I also had to walk away from the mess and take a break. I had to turn to medication in my effort to “calm the !@#$ down”. I did apologize to the person who was on the receiving end of my vitriol, because I am a firm believer that when I’m wrong I should admit to that wrong-doing, but I’m also a firm believer in not apologizing to anyone unless I am wrong. I was wrong, so I did apologize because it’s the right thing to do.

The combination of a bad day, a bad week, a lousy few months, and all the other crap piling up in my life became clearer as I realized my Mom’s birthday was approaching and that instead of being excited beyond words over the perfect gift I had found, the person who received the gift each year was no longer here.

When I say that my Mom & I were close, that’s actually me being subtle in terms of expression. We were best friends first, mother & daughter somewhere underneath it all. My Mom had been raised a certain way, she had been raised in a way of that which is proper and improper, for lack of a better expression. She was determined to raise her own children quite differently, and as soon as she sensed she was having a girl, she started to talk to me throughout her pregnancy. When she was handed her due date she researched the two potential astrological signs and then she went into prayer mode.

My Mom understood that I’d be born into a “man’s world” (Not so much any more ladies, is it?), but that I didn’t have to allow that to rule me if I was a girl, which she believed I was to her very core. She silently prayed “If it’s a boy, he can be a Libra or a Scorpio, it won’t matter, but if it’s a girl she MUST be a Scorpio or she will not survive in this world. God, please let her be a Scorpio. Give her every possible advantage of strength to survive and succeed.” This was her mantra. “Please let her be a Scorpio.”

My Mom’s due date passes and the astrological signs shift from Libra to Scorpio, which is when my Mom announced that I was “allowed to come out now”. LOL. She’d been in labor for over a week, probably Braxton-Hicks contractions, but to no avail, I refused to come out. I still don’t do what I’m told to do 95% of the time. Her doctor told her I would arrive when I was ready to do so.

When my Mom’s water broke several days before I was born, her doctor said “You’re fine. That happens sometimes ahead of schedule, but there are no other signs that the baby is coming, it’s just your body’s way of letting you know that the baby will be here soon. Wait to see me at your appointment.” The night of the appointment my Mom went into official labor in the doctor’s office. The doctor covering for her doctor told her “Your child will be here around midnight.” Believe it or not, he was off by only a few minutes.

Less than a year after my Mom passed away suddenly, I found a note from her to me. She’d written it before I was born and while I eliminated some of the more private parts, I share this with you just as I shared it at my parents’ unveiling.

A message to my daughter: ” Be your own person, always be truthful. Be kind, generous, loving, compassionate, and understanding. Be a friend, be thoughtful. Some day you may want these qualities of others. Teach them to your children. Be honest, you’ll always be able to look at yourself with pride. Don’t expect a lot from other people, and you’ll never be disappointed. Enjoy your life, but don’t do anything you’re not going to be able to live with, or are not be prepared to accept as a responsibility. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, hate is a wasted emotion. It’s not necessary to get even. Appreciate what you have, and achieve to the best of your ability. Listen, sometimes all a person needs is your shoulder. Be gracious, don’t let life drain and break you until you feel empty. Sometimes you have to be selfish. Make your own space, don’t be swallowed by loved ones. Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve made a mistake, we all do. Always know I love you and that you can come to me with anything. Let me be your friend…” Every time I read it, it makes me cry. My Mom had a lot of foresight into what my life would be like.

She was a talented artist, writer, & musician, an amazingly devoted mother, an even better friend, and without a doubt one of my very BEST friends in the entire world. Essentially, she was my first friend, we were so much more than mere mother and daughter, and people definitely took notice of this wherever we went. We shared books, often fighting over who got to read the newest author’s books we followed first. I was quicker, would plow through it in hours, and then watch her pour over it for days waiting for her reactions to the storyline. We shared movies, both new and old, poetry, music, side-splitting jokes & laughter, a genuine love of art and various cultures, a love of nature, a divine sense of beauty in things so many people don’t understand, and a great many other things that seem small in comparison to the large, but are equally as important to me. We had the most telepathic relationship in the world. I know no other parent half as connected as my mother and I remain. She was my voice of reason. I know her recipes by heart because I grew up watching her cook and she let me start cooking probably a year or so before she explained the fundamentals of writing to me.

My Mom was not afraid to show my brother and I the world, to take us places both new and old, teach us things, explain and discuss difficult subjects, open us up to a wide variety of experiences, and answer our questions. She was always extremely honest with us, she didn’t sugar-coat anything or play games. She raised us not to accept the easy, to fight for what we believed in and truly wanted. Of the two of us, I’m the one most outside the box. She taught me especially to dream big, for the dream precedes the goal. In turn, I accomplished more by the time I turned 21 than most people do in a lifetime, and yet there’s this wiser part of me that knows it’s not nearly enough, for we’re all here on borrowed time and tomorrow is not guaranteed. I’m not afraid to live beyond the word “potential”, and I’m not afraid of other people’s opinions because everyone is entitled to have one, it doesn’t mean their opinion is the correct one.

Before my Grandmother passed away, she asked me to take care of my Mom. She made me promise, and I took that promise very seriously. A lot of people felt that was too big a thing for her to ask of me, that I should have been off living my life the way my peers were, but the difference between me and them is, I can live with myself every single day knowing that I was there for her, that I wasn’t self-centered or self-absorbed, that I knew what and where my priorities were. And thankfully, I WAS there. Not just as her daughter, but as her friend. I was there through both the good and the bad, the light and the dark, I never wavered because I was never afraid to be the strong one. That kind of loyalty cannot be bought.

Death and grief changes you. Do you know what it’s like wondering if each breath a loved one takes will be their last? I watched over my Mom like that when she returned home after suffering from several heart attacks and strokes because her doctor was convinced she would not live another week. I immediately went into nurse/doctor mode, I went without sleep for days on end. Whenever she slept,  I watched over her. I have been accused of being a walking Physician’s Desk Reference, but it’s SO true of me.

I tried never to go without telling my parents ‘I love you.’ I didn’t want either of them to die without knowing. I especially wanted my Mom to understand how very important she was to me and how lucky I felt that she was gifted to me as my mother. Your mind is constantly going over every stupid thing you’ve ever said to them, every ‘I hate you,’ and ‘You don’t understand’, every door slammed, every ridiculous, petty argument, or phone call ended in the heat of the moment, and you hate yourself at times for letting the little things steal your time. You don’t get how precious and fragile life is until you’re surrounded by death, and the regret is staggering when you realize that you can’t get back all the wasted opportunities, that there are things you will never get to do with them or say. It’s impossible to grasp the full impact someone has on your life until you fully realize that the person isn’t going to be there any longer. You don’t realize all of the dreams you wished that included that person. Life flashes before you, filled with the holes created by their absence. You know that once they are gone, nothing is ever going to be the same again. There’s never any peace. You can’t hold on to anything. You lose your hope, and your dreams, and parts of your future, and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it. It’s totally out of your hands.

My Mom’s passing was completely unexpected and an immense shock to my system. Yes, she was battling health problems, but I still fully believed she would prove many doctors wrong with her desire to live, to see her Grandchildren, etc.

My Mom was one of the most laid-back people in the world. I often said she was too good and too passive, and definitely way too good to the people who least deserved it. A great deal of the passion and fire she did have, she completely invested in and passed on to her children. There is no fight my brother & I won’t start and finish. My Mom chose her battles carefully, was not afraid to walk away if something wasn’t worth the battle, an attitude I have adopted as well, and it took a lot to push her buttons. She & I were as alike as we were different. When we fought, we really went for the jugular with each other, but in the end we would apologize for whatever we said in the heat of the moment, apologizing was very important to us, and our relationship would go back to normal once we each said our peace to one another.

At the end of each day, I still thank God for my Mom. I didn’t get a real goodbye with her and it’s not something I’ve ever “gotten over” because I feel things quite intensely. Her loss is felt so deeply within me every single day. In the past few years she has sent me so many things to help me heal. I can’t explain what it’s like to fully sense the physical presence of a person, be the presence solid or spiritual ether. Explaining clair-sentience to people is a lot like trying to explain air.

People tell me that despite what I am going through, and that which I’ve already endured, I walk in a room and have a glow about me they can’t quite put their finger on. I attribute that to being happy with the person I am inside, despite all of the pain and sadness. To being proud of who I am, for knowing who I am, and being confident in my skin. My Mom helped foster those initial feelings in me, so I am fearless, supremely confident, and despite all of the pain I have endured, I always rise up out of the ashes better than I was before the pyre. I am the astrological sign of transformation and rebirth, and the older I get, the greater respect I have for those moments in my life that help make me better.

I was blessed with an amazing mother. I know not everyone gets to have that kind of relationship with a parent, but I am also a firm believer that everything we experience in life helps prepare us for the moments when we really have to step up. My Mom often said “I never have to worry about you. You will always find your way, you will never lose focus.” I have a lot of bad days, but she’s right, she doesn’t have to worry about me because she instilled so much in me that I know my strengths. Occasionally I have to remind myself what they are, but I don’t ever truly lose focus.

So on this day Mom, I want you to know that I know you’re always close by. I know you have probably saved my life more times than I care to count. I know you see that life is shit’s creek a lot of the time. But I also firmly believe that because you know me so well, you’ll always make sure a life raft gets sent my way.

Thank you for being my mother, but I thank you more for being the reason I am exactly who I’m supposed to me.

“We thought of you today, but that’s nothing new. We thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

We think of you in silence. We often speak your name. Now all we have are memories, and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is our keepsake with which we’ll never part. God has you in his keeping, we have you in our hearts.” -Unknown

Excerpts of this are copyright © 2009 by Lisa Marino. Everything else, unless otherwise indicated, is copyright © 2013 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity. No portion of this may be reproduced without written consent under the U.S. Copyright Act.

The Dance

The Dance

I can’t begin to say how many times this song has come on when I’ve been on my way to a funeral or have just lost someone I loved. With tomorrow being what it is, knowing that the first time I heard it was with probably the most important person to ever grace my life, I share it today because tomorrow I’ve prepared something that is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever written. Unless you can sing this in the right key, avoid singing it at all.

Tourniquet

Tourniquet

20 years ago today I lost someone very dear to me. I vowed that day to never get involved with drugs or turn to alcohol as a means to cope with anything. I have kept that promise and that vow, and while many people judge that choice, and judge me for holding strong, I know I have honored his memory by walking a different path.

Rest In Peace Kerry, for you may be gone, but you are not forgotten.