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.

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.

New Leaves…

New Leaves

“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”  ―Arnold Bennett

Patience…

Patience

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing”. It waits on the right time to act, for the right principles, and in the right way.”  ―Fulton J. Sheen

At least a dozen or more times a week, I am reminded how impatient I am. I can’t even wait for someone else to be ready to do something, I’ll start pacing like a tiger in a cage. I try to read and distract myself, but I feel like time is of the essence and I hate wasting it. Being sick and waiting for pain to ease doesn’t help matters when you’re impatient, exhausted, and stressed beyond words. I am sure my breaking point is coming, and when it does, I hope people are smart enough to duck.

Daylight

Daylight

This is my first time seeing this, and it is so touching. I hope it brightens at least one person’s day.

Happy Birthday Marion!

The Friendships In Life That Really, Truly Count

I write this in honor of my best friend Marion’s birthday. Marion is in Germany and she doesn’t know I am writing this or that I’ve been planning on writing it for a while (I’m sneaky like that! LOL.), but she deserves to know just how special she is, and why. She deserves more than I could ever possibly give her, but I can still honor her in a unique way because that’s one gift I can give immediately.

As with everything in life, there is a journey from point A to Marion, in which I will take you on as briefly, and as honestly, as possible.

Like most people, I have had more than one best friend in my life. There was my childhood best friend, who had been like a sister to me since I was 4. I won’t name names because to do so would be to give someone completely undeserving credence, but suffice it to say, she betrayed me with her disloyalty when we were in our late teens. One day we were best friends, our families as close as super glue, the next day I was persona non grata. She never had the guts to say a word to my face or explain herself. In fact, the last time she saw me she behaved as though I might harm her in some way. She was terrified, and that only managed to amuse me. Show me you fear me and it will only make me laugh.

I had other best friends in junior high and high school. You love them individually in the moment, but they can start to blend together as the years come and go. It doesn’t mean that I loved any of them any less, it just means we got older, we grew apart, and there were no hard feelings, at least not on my end of things,

As we all get older and our lives change, I only remained friends with one person from those days until he decided to stop returning my calls one day. The dodging and ditching of me went on for MONTHS. We never spoke again. It was a sad time for me then losing that friendship because we were as thick as thieves, we spoke every single day, we did so much together, things I will never be able to share with another person. Those were our adventures & memories, so many of them priceless. He was the first person to really see me, and he was the first guy in my life to give me diamond earrings, which I still have.

I have no idea what caused that friendship to end because there was never any reason, nor was there any closure. There was no fighting, no argument, no discussion, no mis-communication, it was simply there one day and gone the next. I found him on MySpace a few years ago and decided not to even bother pursuing it. What would be the point now? He’d been my best friend, I’d been his, but apparently I was expendable. Why rehash it? At this point, I really don’t need to know.

As he began his slow departure from my life, someone new came along and she was like the missing link. I loved that girl to pieces. Two outspoken Scorpios, as alike as we were different. We clicked in the most bizarre fashion. I really, truly adored her.

In all our years of friendship, friendship close enough where we were roommates for a few months, we had exactly one fight. It was a disagreement with a lot of mis-communication, and the end result was us not speaking for ten years. After much time to think about what had occurred, and why, I was the one that made contact. I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, and I still stand by that decision. I apologized for my part in what had occurred, and things seemed like they might heal and help us move forward, but that didn’t happen.

I cannot and will not make excuses for her. She chose to stop speaking to me when her future husband came into her life shortly after our disagreement, which was part of the reason we did not speak for ten years. She chose to get married without me by her side. “Oh Lisa, you’re my maid of honor for sure! I couldn’t get married without you! I can’t even imagine that day without you there!” Clearly short-lived statements, though they certainly seemed genuine for so many years. She never apologized for her side of things, and after sharing a few e-mails she told me she’d gotten married to him three years after we stopped speaking and they had two children. I was supposed to be their Aunt Lisa, we’d talked about it for years, how I would be there for her through everything in life, how we’d make our friendship a priority through anything and everything, that nothing and no one would ever be able to break apart our friendship because it was eternal. I was hurt, but I never said a word to her about it. Part of it was my fault, yes, but the rest of it was her fault and her choice.

Because she was close with members of my family, I did contact her after my parents passed away to let her know. A few months after everything had happened, I got an e-mail from her saying she was sorry, that she had loved my Mom very much, and would never forget her and all she had done for her, and that she felt like she’d been a horrible friend to me. I responded by saying I understood that she had a life, that she had two young kids to raise, etc., but a few years later I realized it’s really important to stop making excuses for people because it’s basically giving them permission to treat you like shit.

She’s right, she was a horrible friend to me, especially when the fight happened, after it happened, the day I took her to the airport knowing I would never see her again, and when she continued to talk to someone else from our circle for years, all the while not speaking to me. I doubt I will ever get an apology for that, nor do I expect one. She’s on her own, even though we were supposed to be there for each other forever. When I say forever, I actually mean it. I fully understand that very few people share that kind of view on loyalty & friendship, even though she claimed to and still claims to. Hypocritical to the very end. It is what it is and even though I miss her sometimes, we’re extremely different people now and I don’t think it would work even if we were both willing to try. I can accept a lot of things, but being discarded? No. Being replaced as though I never even existed? No and Hell No!

The next person is someone I have been friends with for almost 18 years. I have seen this person through more than I care to discuss. You can’t be friends with anyone that long and not be there through thick and thin. I cannot even begin to describe the goofiness, laughter, adventures, and things shared between us. Sisters is the most accurate description. We’ve got matching opposite side diamond piercings. I will go on record and say that mine bled for YEARS throughout the course of our friendship and I haven’t worn the diamond in many years because I don’t feel that sense of connectedness anymore. I evened the piercing out by getting one to match it a year later, so I don’t think of it as “ours” anymore, nor do I think about it much. However, I’m relieved it’s a piercing and that I managed to talk her out of friendship tattoos, which I would truly be regretting right about now.

As things stand today, we have not spoken in almost three years. The second she met husband #3, she discarded me like a litter box that hadn’t been cleaned out in a year. I went from being this adored best friend to being nothing. It started with ignored phone messages just prior to him moving in, and escalated to ignored text messages and e-mails, but she had time to post things on Facebook on a damn near daily basis. You can’t say you don’t have time for someone and that you’re “busy with work” when the fact of the matter is, you’re choosing not to make time anymore, to completely exclude them from your life, even though you’ve always claimed they’re one of the most important people in your life and you couldn’t live without their honesty and support.

After a certain amount of time had gone by I wrote her a letter (I sent the 5th “draft” after writing all of the anger and hostility out in the others. I don’t think it’s cool to call your best friend names, even if he/she deserves it at the time. I think it’s important to be respectful, to speak frankly, and to let them know exactly where you’re coming from. Being nasty never solves anything.), letting her know that this friendship simply could not continue as it was. I was extremely honest and very fair, of which she can never say otherwise because she knows how I am in my relationships with others, as well as with her. I explained that our friendship deserves a certain level of respect and that by not communicating with me, she’s letting me know exactly what she thinks and feels with that silence, and that it’s extremely bizarre because one day she loves me to death, but the next she can go several years without speaking to me. I explained that while we are as close as sisters, she would never not speak to her own sister for three years, so why is it ok to treat me like that? It’s completely unacceptable, period. I explained that she had to decide whether or not this friendship truly meant something to her or not, and that we had to discuss it together, and come to a decision like two adults.

She e-mailed me weeks after I’d sent the letter, claiming she had just gotten it, and that she’d respond as soon as she could, probably within a few weeks. That response never came. Big surprise there.

There is so much I could say about this person, but right now the only thing I can really say is that when she does crawl back to me, as she always does after she’s gone 2-3 years without speaking to me, she is NOT going to like who she meets this time around. If you do something once, it’s a mistake. When you make a habit out of it, when it becomes your pattern in life, it is within the other person’s purview to exact justice. She has no idea what’s in store for her because I am that angry. Being a two-faced snake charmer will only get you so far with me, and I’m not going to make excuses for anyone. If I’m not worth being treated like a person, then neither are you. When you know what a friend has done for you and you discard him/her, but you always come back to them, then you truly reap what you sow.

All that negativity, both quite unfortunate and very fortunate, brings me to a best friend that other people in this world would KILL to have.

Marion & I have been friends for almost 18 years. She knows the previously aforementioned “best friend” and has always encouraged me to forgive her, that’s just how good SHE is, but I’m not that kind, nor am I that forgiving,

She has been there for me through some of the worst things I have endured in my life. She has patiently listened to me, supported me, cried with me, cheered me on, rallied behind me, agreed to disagree with me, and been just flat out amazing. She is one of the funniest women you will ever know. She will get off the plane, give me a big hug, and then say the most hilarious thing you’ve heard in a long time. She loves me. She loves my brother, even when he’s not very lovable. The same can be said for me, I’m not the easiest person in the world to be friends with at times. She’s met members of family and said “I have no idea how you are related to such people. Maybe we should double-check the DNA.” She has met new people in my life and said “You don’t need her/him.”, and she’s been right on all accounts. She has met old people in my life and said “I like him/her.” She has loved the men in my life for loving me, for making me happy, and then hated them each time they have hurt me and I’ve had to kick them to the curb.

She is the person that always reminds me that the right guy is out there, that he will show up when I least expect it, and she has supported me every single time I have started something new in my life, be it a hobby, a new career direction, or something as simple as this blog, which comes naturally to me.

She is part mother, part sister, part saint, angel with a side of devil, and the role in which she plays in my life is unmatched.

She is the one that always says “If you decide to become a single mother, I will fully support you. I will do whatever I can to help.”, and the woman is an ocean away. I know people that live 40 minutes away and cannot say that, nor would they, and that is telling as to how amazing this lovely creature truly is.

When she & I first became friends I worked for a professional athlete. I did Public & Fan Relations for this jerk, I mean, guy, and that’s how she found me. It was absolutely fate, because under normal circumstances we may never have met. Very quickly our friendship went from her interest in him as a fan to “Wow, Lisa’s really cool. I’d much rather get to know her.” She took a chance and so did I, we have been best friends ever since.

I can always be myself with Marion. I can say the wild, inappropriate thing about anything or anyone, and she will either agree or laugh with me. I can share a thought and not be judged for it. I can write something amazing and she will be honest with me about my work. She’s been reading my work from day one of our friendship, she knows my writing style and my personality, and she knows that as a writer I tend to work harder than people with a guaranteed salary because what I write and how I present it determines whether or not I get paid. I don’t have to justify myself to her, and when I make a decision, she stands by me. In life, we’re both pretty unselfish people.

Don’t get me wrong: We disagree a lot, but we don’t fight with each other. We always agree to “fight fair”. There’s no name-calling or insults, there is simply an honest exchange and sometimes we do have to say “Enough.” if one or both of us is simply too fierce about something. That’s part of what makes our friendship work. I’ve never had to sit around thinking “What a bitch!” or anything negative in regard to her. Not ever. I’ve never had to question my judgement in regard to her role in my life, which is also important because no one wants to have to question whether or not a person should be in their life at all. I feel safe & secure in her presence, and I know that my individuality is treasured and respected, just as hers is in kind.

We’ve all had good & bad friendships in life. For me, it is important to always love the person that I share so much of my head and heart with. You’re not always going to like your best friend, sometimes their views and yours aren’t going to be in sync, but that doesn’t mean that either of you has the right to be vicious or vile to one another.

Whenever I am in a relationship, I do not exclude my friends from my life. I never sit around and think “New boyfriend, time to ditch everyone who’s been there for me for 5, 10, 15, 20+ years.” If anything, a relationship might make me happier, but I would be completely miserable if my friends were taken out of the equation entirely. I cannot function in this world for one person and no one else, that’s not healthy and it’s not normal. As much as I could ever love a man, I still need my friends, and I encourage him to have his as well (whoever “he” happens to be at the time.). I don’t think it’s healthy to never see or speak to your friends once you’re with someone. If anything, this new person needs to be brought into the fold and shown that other side of your life, as well as the people in it, and the same is true for you learning about that side of his life as well.

Marion is my family. If I’m in a relationship with someone, then she’s one of the first people to know about it, often times before my actual relatives. If someone new cannot respect her, they will be out the door so fast it’s not even funny. No one is worth casting your friends aside, especially the friends that have shown time and time again that they are loyal and true.

When it is my time to get married, Marion will be there. She will be celebrating with champagne, She will help me find the right dress. She will care about all of the personal touches because she knows exactly how long I have been waiting for this. She knows it will be a heartbreakingly beautiful, bittersweet time for me and she will not let me go through that alone. She will gently talk me down off my bizarre ledge and remind me how I got to that day, that moment, and that person. That’s what real best friends do.

There is no single individual in this world that “completes you” and will be able to meet every single one of your needs. Life is not a romantic comedy with a good play list. Having your friends reminds you exactly who you are, even as you grow and make changes, as new things happen, it is all the better for having them to share it with. The good ones are the ones that are there for you no matter what. They can forgive your stubbornness, your stupidity, the fact that sometimes you’re so busy you forget something, but they cannot stop being honest with you. When you start walking on eggshells with one another, it needs to be nipped in the bud immediately, because allowing issues to fester is unhealthy, and you want your friendships to be healthy and mutually beneficial.

Life is short, we are all here on borrowed time. Be true, real, devoted, and loyal to the friends that show you they’re deserving of you. If someone continually shows you that they’re undeserving, just be honest with them. Let them know the friendship isn’t working, let them know when it’s over, and why, and accept it, even if it hurts the both of you, but don’t distance yourself or behave as though you were raised by male lions. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

In closing, Marion you are superior, special, beautiful, smart, hilarious, kind, caring, giving, genuine, and you have an incredibly amazing heart. I would be lost without you. Man or no man, you know where you stand in my life. Never above, never below, always to the side. For in this life and hopefully in the next, you are my very best friend and I will walk by your side through the fires of hell. You are one of, but a handful of people in this world that I would gladly take a bullet and/or kill for. God blessed me with a real life angel the day you came into my life and I am a better person for it.

This may not be the gift I really want to give you (a billion dollars and your own private jet), but it is real, heartfelt, honest, and no one is more qualified of being able to celebrate you in such a way.

Happy Birthday Pom Wonderful!! I miss you and I can’t wait for our next set of adventures and our laughter marathons.

Love you doll. XOXOXOXO…..Li