I Learned to Hate You to Let You Go

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A tale of young love subdued by self-destruction

On the day that my boyfriend of almost one year broke up with me, I could hear my screaming soul resorting to measures beyond my control. That day changed the trajectory of my life.

Obsession sneaks up on a person with abandonment issues. When a heart is frozen solid to escape the pain of betrayal, the risk of opening it up again is low. The heart does not soften quickly. A fortress of walls, bars, defense mechanisms, manipulation, and a need to stay alive, by any means possible, determines one’s fate.

November 10, 1987, both of us naked, waited in my room for the heater guy to arrive. After my mother left my family, these types of chores became my problem. My father furiously worked, leaving me alone to settle household matters. I enjoyed the independence and pretending to act like an adult. Being robbed of my childhood never reached my radar.

“I love you, and I will always love you.” My boyfriend said. “But I think we should stop seeing each other.” Except for the pounding of my heart, my body froze. On my knees, naked, in a dimly lit room, waiting for the heater guy, I begged and pleaded with him to reconsider. I sobbed and shook, yelling freakishly loud, that he must give me another chance. He alleviated my sense of loneliness, and he had become all for which I lived.

Begging someone on your knees at dusk, naked, maybe one the most vulnerable positions a person can endure. I knew I was too quiet, too young, too uptight. I did not drink like the other girls. At parties, I would follow him around, shy, afraid, like a noose around his neck, until I was too much for him. He wanted to be free. If only, I could be loving enough to let him go be happy.

However, my greatest fear is being too much for anyone. I let my guard down. I trusted that love was enough. But life is not fair, and at that age, I was unwilling to accept that.

Eventually, he rescinded, and he agreed not to leave me: the most significant blunder he made. He did not know how fragile and mentally unsound of a person he was dating. My life was filled with trauma, and I was only fifteen years old. My mother had left. My father had been to rehab, jail, and left me alone night after night. I waited for love to find me, and when it finally did, I was not letting go without a fight.

The Plan

After the break up/makeup day, I swore to the devil, God, my higher power, and any entity that could hear my pain, that I would do everything in my power to hate his guts. I knew this would take time. But for me, I needed to be ready to break up again, which I knew would eventually happen. This time I could not be caught off guard. This time I would be prepared.

My first rule would be to stop crying every day over the fear of losing him. Endless hours spent shedding tears about a breakup that had not even taken place engulfed most of my alone time in our first year. I did not know why the break up was such a shock. I had prepared for it. I guess I felt if I worried about it enough, it would never happen.

A young girl who copes with fear can travel down extremely unhealthy paths. Paths that justify making poor choices become breeding grounds for heartache. From that day forward, I would be EVERYTHING he wanted me to be.

He asked me to dress slutty. I stole my dad’s credit cards and shopped at the mall for tight mini skirts and an array of half tops marred in red and black.

He wanted pretty nails. I can smell the acrylic glue now, chemicals passing through my nose. I had given up dialing the phone when my nails became fancy because my fingers were no longer functional.

He wanted me tan. No problem. I lived at the beginning of the tanning salon era, and I would walk 16 miles round trip to the tanning salon when I could not find a ride.

Hairspray and makeup covered up what was once natural beauty. I had become a real-life Barbie, soulless, and manufactured.

What he wanted most was for me to be skinny. The lengths I would go to stay thin when I was already quite thin would take me to back alleys of South-Central LA scoring methamphetamines on school nights. I would stay on drugs and lose 10 pounds, then switch off, over and over again for two more years.

When I was not doing drugs, I picked up smoking and drinking instant black coffee to stop myself from eating. My nourishment depended entirely on my boyfriend’s love.

That was the choice I made. He did not ask me to make it. He did not know I was secretly planning to sabotage the relationship by growing so resentful of doing what he asked that I would like my life better without him. I was a con. He was the bait.

My Wrath

If I could turn my obsession for him off, I would have. Unexplainable demands to be loved by him circled my every thought. I began drinking alcohol and socializing with people. The ease of the warm liquor pouring down my dry throat allowed my insecurities to disintegrate, and suddenly I was funny, loud, and gregarious.

My inner child knew all of his insecurities. I had figured them out in the early weeks of our courtship. I decided to ask him about his saddest moment so that I could get him to cry, and he would begin to depend on me. The plan worked, and he was sobbing in less than an hour after the question being asked. And this was even pre-breakup/makeup days. My wrath, he once claimed, knew no bounds.

Tall, sporty, athletic guys made him feel worthless- the average jock of his class. I befriended this group and began to party with them because I knew on nights that we were separated; it would make him jealous. Always, around 2 am, he would drive to my home, throw a rock at my window and join me for the night to make sure I was home, alone, and with him. I had him where I wanted him. But I was not angry enough.

Then it happened; the infidelity. One SoCal surfer showed interest in me. Better yet, he was a man! Ten years my senior, I began an affair with him to boost my self-esteem and to have a backup plan in case my boyfriend stopped loving me. I shudder when I think of that old creep. Luckily, my boyfriend forgave me after I was caught making out with the guy outside of a party we were both attending.

But love is a verb. And none of my actions were loving. Relationships are built on loving acts of trust, and my choices were the antithesis of that. How I could think that enraging myself against him was a good idea strikes me as insane. But I learned that young girls can go insane to get their needs met.

It was not all bad. I laughed with my boyfriend, he serenaded me some nights on his guitar, bought me dinner, and treated me like a queen. Our roles had switched, and I was on top. But I did not hate him enough to break up. I still loved him so.

Mexico

On a girls’ trip to Mexico, my boyfriend and his friends followed. We stayed at a campground, and they stayed at a house on the ocean.

My boyfriend and I had temporarily separated. “You would not make a good wife or mother,” he confessed. Being a good wife or mother was the last thing on my mind at sixteen. I hardly understood what it was I did wrong.

However, we made up, once again, with the backdrop of the Pacific ocean over rocks on a hot, dusty Mexican campground, belligerent and drunk.

Our relationship was tumultuous at best. And we expressed our undying love for one another that sunny day. By then, my addiction to drama far surpassed my need for a healthy, loving partner. And after we fought and we cried, I felt complete.

But I woke up, sunburned on half of my body, looking silly and realizing everyone had left for the night. My friends, my boyfriend, and his friends all went into town to dance and drink the night away. I spent the night talking to some guy playing the guitar in the dark. I was relaxed, still mildly intoxicated, and receiving the attention from the opposite sex, I craved.

The way to the bathroom was pitch black. But I found it anyway. As I strolled back to the guitar-playing guy, a girl runs up to me, screaming to stay away from her boyfriend.

“I do not know what you are talking about. I have a boyfriend,” I explained. She slapped me across my face. I had never been hit. The shock of her slap momentarily derailed me, and I lost track of what had happened at all as she ran into the night.

I went to sleep alone. No one had returned that evening except my boyfriend’s sister, who became the bearer of bad news. “He got arrested, and Kristie bailed him out. He is with Kristie,” my boyfriend’s sister divulged. Kristie, my new best friend’s best friend, was also with my boyfriend. My friends drove the car, and all I could do is wait in Mexico for everyone to return.

The stabbing pain of betrayal by my best friend plunged me into a deep panic. I contemplated why I did not prepare for this unforeseen scenario. It mattered not. She was my ride, and I had to act pleasant if I ever wanted to go home.

For three nights and four days, I waited. My mind cruelly imagined my every fear. Thoughts whirled through my head. “He was in love with Kristie. He was kissing her. He was having sex with her. And, most important, he was having fun with another girl.”

I had nowhere to turn. His sister and her friend stayed with me, and we tried to make the best of it. I could not show anyone how distraught and humiliated these events made me. My heart had hardened long ago. I wore my façade and acted as if I had not a worry in the world.

Such cognitive dissonance constructed future triggers in me that would haunt me for life — the stress of the unknown painted pictures of impending doom. I could feel cortisol ravish my body like a walking flight or fight creation. My nerves played tricks on me as ingrained photographic memories that played out in my mind for many years.

Surviving those four days took all the strength I had. When my friends did return, they said nothing to me. Kristie calls dibs for the front-seat home, and we were stopped at the border because she wanted to keep a champagne bottle as a souvenir of being with my boyfriend. We stood outside the car as the Federales searched for drugs. My life felt over.

I could not look at anyone. But the others were laughing, establishing a link inside me that friendship equals pain. All I knew was that I was alone-my biggest fear realized. The pit of my stomach dropped, and my vulnerabilities formed ulcers in the lining of my intestines.

I had felt this feeling before when my mother left. At that time, great strength accompanied me. I thought I could survive her loss. But this time, I wanted to end my life. I had nothing left to live for, and no one left to show me love. And that is the most painful feeling in the world.

Being a teenager is hard enough, but I threw myself in a mix of people who did not respect me because I did not respect myself. I appeased them so that I could have friends. The accountability was mine, but I felt crushed like a victim.

Weeks after we arrived home, I laid low. My boyfriend showed up at my house, declaring his undying love for me. I was almost at the point where I hated him enough to ask him to leave, but not yet.

We spent the night together for six more months every night now. Our relationship deepened. He felt forgiven. I felt forgiven for cheating on him, and we discussed moving into together after my senior year ended.

The Outcome

But that gnawing feeling in my stomach would not go away. On the outside, my life appeared to be doing well for high school standards. I was dating a college guy for three years, entering into my senior year, driving a sports car, slim, trim, and aware of how to reach optimum performance in my social life. In fact, I got cocky.

I reached a point where my boyfriend was so comfortable with me and so in love that I could finally break free. I had planned this for so long, and it was finally happening. I broke up with him with two other older guys lined up. He was devastated.

On the night of the breakup, I threw a party for my boyfriend’s best friend. My packed house began to unravel, as kids broke mirrors, turned the electricity off, and my boyfriend showed up even though he was upset. In my bedroom, I had a guy waiting while I buzzed around the room to talk to my friends.

My boyfriend spent the evening talking to one girl that I did not recognize. I did not think anything of it because I felt she was ugly. And so when the police showed up, and everyone left, I went upstairs to the guy passed out in my bed.

Intoxicated, I slipped into some lingerie I had bought at the $5 store. Satin blue nightie, thong underwear: I was asking for trouble. When we began to kiss, I realized he was taking things too quickly. I said, “NO,” over and over again, but he would not listen. I am still on the fence if this was date-rape or if I asked for it. Either way, the guy slipped out of my house and never spoke to me again.

I woke up the next morning, free, single, and wanting to be dead. My boyfriend began to date the girl he met at my house, and he began to hit on all my friends. It turned out; he knew my insecurities, too.

In the next six months, I withstood torture. Looking back, I created my own nightmare. But I was just a kid who was abandoned by her mother that needed someone to love her and a father figure to replace my own father’s absence.

To this day, I have nightmares about this time in my life. They are called trauma dreams. I have them 4 to 5 times a week. I cannot shake my wounded feeling of defeat and terrifying fear that I will be left alone. Over 30 years ago, mistakes were made that cannot be undone. Step by step, I am trying to heal from a situation that I buried deep within my heart, promising myself to never uncover the brutality of what I felt.

But those feeling have a way of manifesting themselves. One cannot hide from their pain. Time is not a friend.

My unusual way of handling young love shows me how damaged a person I was after my parents divorced; maybe even before.

I would spend my years in relationships with men who were emotionally unavailable until I met my beautiful husband. It is no coincidence that he is a psychiatrist. The thought of that makes me laugh every time but it also makes me realize, I am in good hands.

I never want to return to who I once was capable of being. But I would turn to her now and let her know she was doing the best she could. And that all is forgiven. Of course, the trauma continues. It is a long road filled with these memories and many more painful events that led me to dark places. I would tell that young girl to hold on because I am coming for her. And now that I have, the world is my playground.

The Reasons We Cheat

Jealousy runs amok

Photo by zelle duda on Unsplash

My childhood dentist was having sex with my mom. She called him “the painless dentist” to my delight. After my parent’s divorce, a neighbor told my dad, who told me and I told my brother. We continued to see the dentist and chuckled in the waiting room when my mom closed the door behind her to “talk” to him. I was twelve.

That same year, my dad felt the need to inform me about the wild love affairs he had when I was only a baby. There was a woman named Terry, a stripper, and an ongoing lover named Sylvia whom he dated after the divorce for many years.

After moving in with my first live-in boyfriend, I told my dad that my boyfriend admitted he was interested in other girls. My dad warned me that I would have to grow accustomed to someone cheating on me. The funny part is…I became the cheater instead.

Primary Narcissism

Freud developed a concept in which he believed that babies could not separate themselves from their environment. Their mother, their toys, their food, their boob was attached to the core of their being. A baby will not disengage from their environment until several later stages. The tendency to act as if the person you are dating is attached to you is pervasive for many couples even into adulthood. Primary narcissism can sneak up on some lost souls. And unlike the baby, the jealous partner destroys all they cannot have as their own.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

There are three reasons that a person cheats. And none of the reasons truly have no real connection to their partner even if it seems so at first glance.

1. The first reason a person decides to cheat relates to the innate awareness that who you love does not truly love you. In this case, the cheater seeks love outside of their relationship to punish their partner for not loving them the way they want to be loved.

It is possible that the cheater is unable to accept being loved and perceives their partner as an ominous pain creator. Therefore, even if the partner loves the cheater, the partner cannot love the cheater in the way that repeats a past need that was left unattained by the inner child inside the cheater.

The skewed perception of the cheater’s immediate concernis safety. In order to save oneself from being cheated on by the person who does not truly love you, the cheater cheats first. A powerful surge accompanies this thrill, and the mind games begin as you become more and more delusional that the partner deserves to be objectified like a play thing that has lost its appeal.

All along, you play nice and work both angles. You are a walking self fulfilling prophesy that cleans your own wounds before you are torn and tattered

I remember the first time I cheated on a boyfriend. The guy was tall, handsome, emotionally unavailable, and perfect. I did not have to tie up loose ends, I found a playmate who could care less that he was entangling himself into relationship triangulation. Those who find themselves in the middle between two people become the casualty, but the cheater’s jealous belief systems validify the sex, the emotional infidelity, and all of the lies and backtracking.

2. The next reason a person cheats is rooted in childhood. Somewhere along the line, the cheater was abandoned by someone that they loved. This scar, buried deep, is left to fester until adulthood. The cheater creates a situation where the cheater must leave their partner before they leave you.

And what is the best way to get someone to leave you? You cheat on them. This scenario works out well because the cheater will be left with either the one they love or develop a new obsession with the person with whom they cheated.

The mind of the cheater is not grounded in reality. They are constantly triggered by feelings of abandonment that never dissipate until the cheater is ready to change. However, change requires vulnerability. Vulberability follows a willingness to change and that is what the cheater fears most. The world is an extension of themselves as every narcissist feels. To seperate from the world feels like death itself. Therefore, a vicious cycle continues throughout the cheater’s life. “once a cheater always a cheater,” becomes the abandoned person’s decree.

3. The third reason a person cheats is simply that they do not love themselves. They seek approval from external sources and a need for insatiable attention anywhere that they can get it. Similar to a needy, narcissitic baby, the cheater views the world as their playground and vows to take and take and take from others what thye are due.

This type of cheater is usually charming, well equipped to manipulate, and unwilling to share the spotlight with their partner. Everything is about them. And everyone is a source of fulfillment to their undying need to be loved.

I cheated on another boyfriend several times whenever he was out of sight. I did not care about who I hurt as long as my needs were met. I could not resist the temptation to be wanted by someone at every moment.

While my intellect was high, my emotional maturity level waned. I complained that I wanted to get married but what I really wanted was for someone to ask me to marry them. I never even considered the next day. The day when happily ever after begins with the same sexual partner forever.

The Outcome

In all scenarios, the cheater will end up alone. The traits of primary narcissism usually linger in the first year of childhood. But some part of the infant’s capacity to sever their emotional tie to their environment goes awry.

Only two decisions can be made; the cheater can continue pursuing relationships where the cheater will seek out another warm body for some lovin’. Or…a person may, if they are lucky, find the humility they need to start fulfilling their own needs through self-care and loving acts.

One can only hope that the cheater finds the latter. Because if they do, if they become a recovered cheater, the possibility of a wonderful partnership may await them. But none of this can happen if the cheater is not willing to do the work it takes to change how they feel inside.

For me, the journey to monogamy has brought me to the greatest height of love. I grimace and shake thinking of how I used to be. Thankfully, I am devoted to my marriage and my partner is undeniably devoted to me.

My Partner in Crime

CR MandlerJul 10 · 5 min read

A manifestation of sibling love

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Photo by Chelsea Mandler

Many do not know, but Jason and I are known as the “Beacon Bandits.” The theft was unintentional because at any time we could have returned to the Beacon gas station where we had just filled up and paid the cashier what we owed. But, we did not. We were on a mission. A mission to get home.

You see anytime we are together we are actually home. We may not have always known this, but it has always been true.

My brother is the most amazing person I know. He is multi-talented in ways far superior to me but his heart always yields to my needs similar to the times he won the large Devil stuff animal at Magic Mountain and gave it to me to wipe away my tears. Of course, giving me what Jason won became a pattern and as an adult, and I have tried to give back to him all that has shared with me through time.

Jason believes that I raised him. I guess this is partially true. But underneath it all, Jason kept me from going too far astray on many occasions. Like the time I ditched school for a month claiming to be sick with mono on a forged note. He confronted me and said he would inform our father. I was back at school the next day.

Once he found out I was doing heavy drugs in high school and sat me down and had a serious talk with me. My erratic behavior was concerning to him but moreso he knew the path that I was choosing could lead to death. I have never touched the stuff since.

History

At five years old, Jason was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis. My parents, unequipped to handle the situation, yet doing the best they knew how to do, sent him to a chiropractor. The chiropractor claimed that Jason’s back would straighten out if he did laps on the monkey bars wearing roller skates every day for an hour. And like clockwork, he did this exercise every day for a year. However, the curve in his back was relentless.

After finally visiting a specialist, Jason was fitted for a brace and wore it diligently for ten years: only to find out he never needed the brace and that his spine needed to be completely fused. During the surgery, the physician added a rod to his spinal cord which left him in a cast for six months at fifteen.

Like much of our life, Jason was neglected, and the rod that was put in his back needed to be surgically removed a year later. My parents did not follow through with this operation, and now Jason has a condition called “flatback syndrome.” If he chose to remove the rod, he would be paralyzed for life. So, he deals with the pain, and still, he maintains a happy demeanor.

Art

Jason’s ability as an artist knows no bounds. He draws in a wonderland of his own producing controversial paintings with glimpses of comedy and undertones of depth that only viewers can interpret.

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Painting and photo by Jason Tait

His portrait of “PeeWee,” which illuminates the wall of the buyer, Sean Foley’s home, is one of my favorites. “Peewee” is not only controversial but he brightens anyone’s day in a single glance. We watched the naughty version of Peewee on ShowTime as kids only to learn that he later became a child entertainer. And of course, we know the rest is simply unforeseen messy history.

His sense humor also shined on a piece he calls “Chefferey.” The picture is of Jeffery Daumer, and it is both daunting as well as intriguing to all that lay their eyes upon it.

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Painting and Photo by Jason Tait

While he has dozens upon dozens of amazing pieces, I would like to share a painting of the famous author, Charles Bukowski, coupled with some prose that explains a philosophy of which Jason and I both adhere.

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Painting and Photo by Jason Tait

“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness. I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things with no soul,” Bukowski proclaims.

Bukowski infamous notoriety lives on to this day. I am always taken back by his raw, direct, and all-consuming nature to write the thoughts that very few humans dare to speak.

Plus, the undertone of our lives has been surviving external madness. Instead of searching for normality, we both found a way to incorporate it into our being in a pleasant but unusual way. I hope Jason and I only continue to delve deeper into the unknown where much wonder and curiosity awaits.

Birthday

A sibling is your memory, your best chance of remembering the significant parts of your life. Jason and I are so close that we have a meta-language where we can utter a word and know exactly what each other is talking about. This is amusing to outsiders because this normally only happens with twins.

Jason turns 46 years old today. One time he told me he would not make it to thirty. However, not only has he made it but he has a mind of a Budha, a passion for his children, a beautiful girlfriend, and an alliance to me to the end of time.

To top it off, he will become a GRANDPA this year. He was so happy that he moved to Louisiana from Oregon to be close to his new baby girl.

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Photo by Jason Tait

Jason is fun and he is witty. He is an old soul living outside the chains of social constructions and he is living well. Furthermore, we vehemently avoid Tapatatio for private reasons. And, Jason has a color-coded closet of shoes and adornments that he pretends does not exist.

He has mellowed through the years. I am not sure if he would be willing to jump out of an airplane again or throw handmade bologna and cheese sandwiches to the homeless people in the streets of Santa Barbara, at a time when he was penniless. But I am sure that he is a healer, teacher, lover, and friend. And most important of all, he is my brother. The one, the only, Jason Tait. Keep smiling, kid, it only gets better.

I love you! Chelsea

The Difference of Being Sad and Feeling Sad

The Difference of Being Sad and Feeling Sad

My eighteen-year-old cousin shot himself in the head in a game of Russian Roulette late one morning amidst getting high. I gather he was trying to impress some girls, but made the fatal mistake of taking it too far. His two fellow accomplices who helped him sell steroids and steal gym equipment around town were also present.

A somewhat dubious mystery remains to this day if he was shot by these two guys or just actually played Russian Roulette. However, the two men were never seen again after that day. And the police closed the case concluding leaving foul play at bay and leaned towards his death being a game of Russian Roulette.

Chris was taken to the Pomona Hospital and placed on life support. When my brother and I arrived, we visited him separately. He was our dearest loved one and he was mortally injured. Then, our estranged mother showed up and instantly an awful situation became worst.

Earlier that year, my Grandma Anne had died of liver failure and in her will, she left all of her belongings to my brother, two younger cousins, and myself. Anticipating a fight over money, Grandma made it contingent; if the sisters chose to contest the will, Aunt Nancy and my mother would only get $1. My mother, who left my family when I was ten, demanded I give her my share of the money after the probate finally ended.

It was only $24k but it felt like $24 million at the time. I was only nineteen. Her wicked tongue, full of scorn, created a pivotal moment in our lives that would change the trajectory of our relationship forever. Frightened, I finally took a stand and said “no” to her. I knew at that point, I could never ever ask anything from her again. And that remains true to this day.

Chris died forty days after his fatal stunt and I did not even know how to begin to process his death. He had just had a baby, Little Chris. And I had spent so much of my childhood playing with him and going on vacations with the family, I found myself sinking into a surreal world made of my own devices.

To say I went crazy is an understatement. “Seize the Day” became my mantra. Although, my real modus operandi was to run as far away as possible. That year, I moved from Santa Barbara to San Jose, to Berkely to Westlake Village, and back to Santa Barbara in less than four months.

The Impact of Death

Death affects everyone differently at different stages of their life. My stage was denial. I absolutely cut off all contact from my Aunt Nancy, younger cousin Mandy, and Uncle Eddie. I did not know what to say. Many nights I cried with guilt and shame that I was such a coward. But I still did not call. I could not find the words to explain my sorrow.

I held onto the death of my cousin like mortar to a stone. My feelings were deeply ground into the setting of his death and I could not let go. Every day and every night, I thought of him. He was so young. I was so young. This tragedy did not mix well with my idealistic beliefs, which left me with a chronic feeling of cognitive dissonance that I could never truly shake; even when I was high.

Drug Addiction

And I got high! All-day long, I was altered. It was my preference of being. It was more than escape, it was a way of life. This perpetual state of numbness followed me to work, to the movies, on walks, and while I enjoyed my time with my friends. I cannot remember a moment where I took a sober breath for over a decade.

Something happens to a person when they are on drugs all the time. They check out. They disassociate. To function I needed to be high. Therefore, while I became academically smarter and street smarter, my emotional maturity was much lower than I pretended. I knew how to walk the walk. I knew how to tap to someone else’s tune before they even knew they had one. But no one knew me.

I was funny, charming, witty, impulsive, and hard working. But inside I was tortured by existence itself. I wanted to die most of the time. I would curl up in bed and sleep for days. In fact, most days I slept 12 to 16 hours. Sleep was a time of mental repair and it was also a time of escape. The biggest issue was that I was not prepared in any way for the future reverberations of pain that awaited me.

Crushed

It was July 19, 1999, when my brother called to say my dad was pooping his pants. I rushed down to California from Oregon on the next plane. My dad had a hollow look in his eyes and I felt he was bound for a mental institution. His moods had always been erratic and he, too, succumbed to drug addiction for relief on a daily basis.

However, after eight hours in the Tarzana Emergency Room, my dad finally walked out and told me nothing was wrong. He was angry that I insisted he wear adult diapers and he demanded to leave. There was no way I was going anywhere until I spoke to a doctor. So, as he sat outside in the parking lot to smoke, a habit he vehemently denied, I confronted the doctor.

“He has a huge mass in his lung,” the doctor gently explained.” He will need to go to inpatient and be examined.” I had no idea what the doctor was implying. But I sent my father away in an ambulance to another hospital two hours away that his insurance would accept. When the workup was complete, we learned that dad had seven brain tumors and kidney cancer too.

Jason and I played “Father of Mine, “ by Everclear on repeat for several hours that night while drinking microbrews and taking pills. Dad was extremely sick and he hid it from us until he could no longer hide it from anyone.

In my Portland home, I cared for him for 11 weeks. I washed his butt, and made him food and begged him not to fall. I called him by his first name because with brain damage, patients respond to their own names versus dad or whatnot. He was not about to give up smoking so I placed him in hospice and sat with him every day, stealing some of his drugs as he wasted away.

After he died, the decimation of my soul was complete. Whoever I once was no longer existed. And, I lost everything. My car, my house, my first husband, friends, my health. and all my money.

By the mercy of God, I was granted admittance to a halfway house near Compton where I shared a home with 19 other women: all from prison, many prostitutes. I was the only white girl. But my charm and ability to fit in catapulted me into being accepted and actually liked by many of the women. In retrospect, It was actually a wonderful but uncertain time.

I left the halfway house with $7 in my back pocket. And I worked, and worked, and worked, and worked. I cleaned toilets, cared for other people’s children, and was exploited as well as demoralized in situations under the authority of extremely wealthy employers; none who knew anything of my past.

Furthermore, the rules of sober living limited my ability to work late and I despised having to check-in and out on a piece of paper every time I left or came home.

Brief Normality

After meeting my husband, my life stabilized, and things were becoming better. I called my Aunt and apologized that I had not spoken to her, and she did not seem to notice. It is funny how a person can waste so much time worrying about another person’s reaction to only find out that no one really cared but you the whole time!

It Begins Again

My cousin Mandy called me in 2010 to ask for money for a gambling debt. I said “no.” And that was the last time I ever spoke to her again. At 35, she died in 2013, from liver failure. I quickly noticed my Aunt Nancy was also withering away due to alcoholism as I attended Mandy’s funeral which put me in a panic.

It took Nancy one year to die from liver failure. She died on the 4th of July: it was just like her to go out with a bang. I was deeply saddened but I still had Uncle Eddie.

I made sure to call that man as much as I could. I visited him and I checked on him and I grew to love him as an adult more than I ever did as a child. He made me laugh. He told me stories and in every sentence, he ended it with “and shit,” And that made me laugh.

“I went to the store and shit and I got potatoes and shit and I went to the bank and shit.” I can hear him say it now. The last time we talked he aforementioned a looming pain I truly wanted to avoid. He said to me, “ I am not going to be around forever and shit, you need to visit me.” We agreed that I would visit after the COVID pandemic died down.

Well, there was no “after COVID” visit. Uncle Eddie contracted the disease and died two weeks later. Actually, it was four days ago, on the 4th of July: out with a bang. Aunt Nancy had come for him, finally. And Shit!

Heartache

I never sobbed so hard than with the death of Uncle Eddie. All my family members meant something to me but I was older now and I was in touch with my emotions. I cried and yelled and utterly fell apart. And it has only been four days.

I told my mom but she did not respond and I became angry frozen in respite.

My father’s mother died as well in 2005 as well, but I was able to make amends to her on her death bed. The last time I visited her I got so drunk, I made a fool of her in front of her sisters and I flew across the country to apologize in person.

Now, she was moaning, traveling in and out of two worlds. I said to her “Grandma, it is me.” She paid no mind. “Isabel, Isabel, it is Chelsea.” And for one very brief bit of time, she acknowledged me.” You are the best thing I could ever see right now, “ she said in a semi-coherent voice and then drifted back to where she was originally headed: heaven.

A septuplet configuration of death summoned me to drift towards my starkest edges. What transpired that was beyond my control. And, they, my family, were all gone now.

Feeling Sad: Hope

However, something different happened to me this time. I am not sad, I feel sad. This is a concept I learned from Laurie Anderson’s YouTube video How to Feel Sad Without Being Sad. From Anderson, I learned there is a huge difference between the two concepts. Being sad engulfs all of one’s being. Feeling sad is less relentless and allows for a reprieve. Feeling sad does not define me. It is fleeting, wistful, and temporary. And although, I lost my idea to seize the day many years ago. It has returned.

The way to seize the day is not to climb tall mountains every day and declare victory as if each day is your last. To live like that would surely end in failure. However, to seize the day, I listen, show love, engage in gratitude, look for the good (JS), welcome my dark side, interact with others, and do not pretend to be okay all the time. Most of all, this old codependent woman is taking care of herself.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD and I have to say that I am shocked. I did not realize how severely affected I was by trauma but through therapy, I am healing. I notice it in the little things. For instance, I sleep less, cry less, and laugh more. I am pursuing my future in education, while currently working as a writing specialist and as a freelance writer.

I remember years ago, I asked my father why he never acknowledged my writing. He told me I lacked life experience. I was twenty.

Guess what Dad? I do not lack for anything any longer and I am accountable for all of it. Therefore, I am going to go on each day with my eyes wide open, looking into the abyss: fear replaced with wonder, expectations replaced with truth.

Life Continues

I, too, will see the end of the tunnel one day. But I know I have truly lived. I have extensively traveled, earned two degrees, lived abroad as a Diplomat, and became an elected official as a School Board Member, as well as been given the opportunity to teach.

I have witnessed death and the last dying breath of two loved ones. I have seen life grow into my now eleven-year-old son. I have undergone 10 major surgeries, as well as grew fat and began my journey to shrinking in size again.

I have endured the medical system, the welfare system, and instituted my rights for freedom of expression under some of the most chilling circumstances. I have played with kittens, avoided zoos, and climbed volcanoes in Chile.

Most importantly, I have loved many people; some have stayed, some have gone. But what I do know is that I do not have regret. I have only love, And no one can ever take that from me: I feel sad but I am beautiful.

The End

Anderson, Laurie. “How to Feel Sad Without Being Sad.” How To Feel Sad Without Being Sad, YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwqZOrA2DbM.

Eight little-known signs of alcoholic behavior

header-sub-abuse

During the quarantine, many people have turned to substance abuse to feel more comfortable in their own skin. The truth is alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases of apathy. The addict does not want to care. But they care too much and it must be quelled. Here are some little-known signs of alcoholism that also apply to drug addicts that maybe useful during this difficult time of involuntary isolation.

Of course, we all know the easy way to spot an alcoholic: red face, preoccupation with alcohol, unable to stop drinking once started, etc. etc. But today I am going to share with you some insight on the characteristics of an alcoholic you may not know. Keep in mind, that what applies to spotting an alcoholic also applies to spotting a relapse because drinking alcohol is only a symptom of a greater problem inside the heads and hearts of people inflicted with the disease.

The Eight Signs

1. Anger and resentment- This is nothing new to someone who is in AA. The whole book is written around this subject. Alcoholics have a pattern of being angry and resentful. Often, on social media, one can see someone with hostile posts. This is a time to grow a bit suspicious. Alcoholics are triggered by what they deem to be unfair acts against them especially when it comes to close relationships. The disease makes it very difficult for the alcoholic to not take someone’s actions personal. However, in recovery, people learn that even the most atrocious acts of unkindness are not personal and people are taught to believe what other people say about them is none of their business.

2. Comorbidity- Almost all alcoholics have secondary afflictions of the spirit, mind, and body that manifest prior to the age we begin drinking. Many suffer from anxiety and depression. These symptoms pre-date substance abuse. have. In recovery, alcoholics are bonded by identifying in each other the same twisted personality traits. It seems like everything each alcoholic feels is always to the extreme. Alcoholics are incredibly sensitive. In alcohol. they look for relief in caring so much about anything and everything.

3. Big Plans but No Follow Through- The brain of an alcoholic is very different than that of a person who is not inflicted with the disease. The pleasure centers of their brains are not naturally full and it takes action every day to get into a pleasurable space. Alcohol replaces action in a way that thoughts of big ideas, sometimes brilliant ideas, are never completed due the fact that the intake of alcohol gives the alcoholic the same reward response as if they had actually followed through on goal or a task.

For example, if an alcoholic wakes up and decided that the lawn must be mowed, if they pick up, it is highly likely they will never mow the lawn or get anything done because alcohol creates a feeling of an accomplishment in the reward center of a person’s mind, leaving many tasks unfinished. This is why in recovery action is far more important than thought. Someone in relapse will begin slowly not to accomplish anything that is important for daily functioning and in the grander scheme of life.

4. A Track Record- This is very hard for alcoholics to see. They feel things are happening to them independent of their drinking. They believe that they are just unlucky. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to link their drinking as a consequence of what they choose. An alcoholic does not have to be drunk to make bad decisions. Once again, drinking is only a symptom that masks what drives a person to be reckless, irresponsible and sometimes very foolish. And the next thing they notice is that multiple situations are transpiring at once: but they cannot figure out why.

For instance, they get in fights with significant others, their bills are not paid or they lack money, their health deteriorates and most importantly, they stop doing things that they usually love, all at the same time. When someone is in their disease it is almost impossible for them to be accountable because their disease wants more alcohol. This is incredibly hard for a normal person to understand but it true.

5. Unhealthy Boundaries- It is hard to know if the inability to have healthy boundaries starts in the family of origin, which are likely full of other alcoholics or if it is just the nature of the disease. But alcoholics do not have healthy boundaries. They are often promiscuous, codependent and often expect others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. They are abusive and they let themselves be abused. They do not know where they begin as a person and others start. This is very hard to master even in sobriety because of the extreme feelings and thinking that tend to create scenarios both in their heads and in their lives that cross lines of respectability and human decency.

6. Great Senses of Humor- Recovering alcoholics know how to laugh at themselves. They are usually very funny with off-color remarks and ideas. The way they view the world is quite different than a normal person and they are not afraid to embrace that side of themselves because they are usually rewarded by other people for it.

7. Moderation in Moderation- Alcoholics are all or nothing thinkers. Balance is just not a part of their vocabulary. If they eat, they eat a lot. If they exercise, they exercise to the extreme. And if they love someone, their love comes at the price of suffocating or isolating the person who is involved with them.

Furthermore, because the alcohol is filling their pleasure and reward systems, they don’t see much reason to change. They have a history of doing everything in our life to excess. Once again, they have a blind spot. They are unable to match their thinking with their behavior. They do not see the link unless they are practicing being mindful. It is doubtful that becoming moderate ever becomes easy for someone even they have years of sobriety. Each day moderation must be managed. That is why it is helpful to go to meetings, have a sponsor and be able to tell on ourselves to a therapist or other care professional. Otherwise, they slowly or quickly unravel into some sort of extreme.

8. A Need to be Special- Alcoholics almost always feel that they do not fit in. Because of this, they have a desire to be more “special” than their peers. They truly believe they are superior because of it. But at the same time, being special creates a distance which in turn breeds loneliness. One of the greatest things an alcoholic can learn is to find the similarities they share with my others if they ever want to enjoy a fulfilling relationship.

This list is not extensive. But it can tip a person off to know if someone has a problem with an alcohol problem. I usually can spot someone right away. However, it is seldom useful to tell a person that they are alcoholic. An alcoholic usually can figure this out on some level and either desperately tries to hide it or is willing to seek help.

The best way to endure and deal with this quarantine is to be creative and productive. That may take a little more effort for a recovered alcoholic, but it probably the best outlet they can find besides exercise and eating healthy.

The New New Normal

tif deb catlin

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

There is an eerie phrase surfacing among the herds: The New Normal. I do not know about you but I do not want the advertisers, the media or the government to decide what “The New Normal,” looks like. And there is no way to avoid that from happening if we do not decide what we want NOW!

In Julio Vincent Gambunto’s ominous article, “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting,” he warns that The New Normal will be decided for us.  He brilliantly describes how the powers that be will try to control us. To combat the marketing, propaganda, and sensationalism, one must first know what they do not want.

I know longer want to be told how to look, how to eat, how to act in public and to hide who I am. I have witnessed a world that is extremely different behind closed doors than what the world is on social media. I want nothing to do with it anymore. Furthermore, two-party systems, fighting amongst each other over unreliable resources and pushing hate as an agenda has no place in what we can create! We must push forward and destigmatize all the stereotypes about people, illnesses, drug addiction, social class and total vanity that has been pushed upon us for decades.

Are you aware that we have always had a need to social distance in this country?  The average American prefers 18 inches between each other. If a person climbs on an empty bus, like clockwork, the seats will fill with people sitting far apart until the choice to sit next to each other is the last option.

Now, we have social distancing and it is not going away anytime soon. Six feet apart? Ok. But, in that space, may I tell you who I am? Or do I need to continue to hide? Shame and judgment are manufactured by marketing firms with roots in the days of Puritans and at the same time, we are pushed to be DIFFERENT. I have learned that the loneliest feeling in the world is to be different, therefore, in our new society, finding similarities between each other is the key to having a fulfilling life.

Think about it. Instead of being pushed to buy something new to fill that void, we could actually make a friend or meet our neighbors or be kind. (Mind blown!) We do not need to be medicated and obligated to line up like sheep prior to Gambuto’s idea of the “Great Pause.” Like the famous comedian Bill Hick’s used to say about the corporations and the government “You are free to do what we tell you to do. You are free to think what we tell you to think.” Well, that is not going to fly anymore.

Decisions need to make. Because if we do not make decisions for ourselves, they will indeed be made for us. I am deciding to continue to embrace the “Great Pause.” We did not even know how uncomfortable we were in our own skins until we were left with only ourselves: no shopping, no people, no restaurants, no more turning outward to seek what we already have inside. We can choose love, courage and the ability to be the change we want to be in the world (Gandhi).

Pay attention… because this is the first time in history that the whole world is truly watching what happens next and as a whole, we are helping each other. Take stock of your values. Do not end up in the daily grind. This is our chance to shine. As the greatest music band of all time proclaimed,  Let it be. Let it be. Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be (Beatles).

 

Beware of Air: A New Version of Ourselves

heart image

 

I prefer to wash my hands to the beautiful lyrics of ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” But you can do whatever you want. It seems like every day is Groundhog Day and the end is nowhere in sight. It is funny, though, because no one seems to know what day it is anymore and it has only been two weeks of isolation. Every single one of my neighbors took out their trash a day ahead in complete social conformity believing that it was Trash Day when it was not. Confusion runs amok and we are all reacting the best we can.

This major shift has cast upon us a new world that will never be the same again. The way we live, shop, eat, work, and interact will morph us into a new society. This pandemic is a catalyst for change and for unifying our species as one. And at the same time, death seems one breath away.

Still, never in our lives have we been faced with the idea that we are all just one person. For this pandemic does not recognize race, ethnicity, sexual identification, nationality or preference of self. This is the first time that humanity must work together as a whole community without borders to save our own lives and the lives of others. And we are in fear of not having toilet paper!

The magnitude of this event is completely shocking: displayed readily by the highs and lows of people interacting the only way they know how, through memes and social media. Our lives have been condensed to living with few distractions and entirely facing our own selves in our own skin. Unless you have borrowed someone else’s skin and that would go against our newly integrated law of social distancing. (Kids do not try this at home.)

Faced with this new norm are choices. I have already made a few. First, I reveled with humor faced with my possible demise. And I hope that trend continues to last. Then, I sunk into depression: a familiar darkness I have felt many times before. But I knew what to do.

In the throes of despair, I asked myself questions that truly will shape who I will become in the aftermath of this utmost urgent time. Who do I want to be when this is over? Oh, I could be hospitalized, quivering in a room with no locks waiting for my next dose of Valium. That is entirely possible. I could be on the floor, altered and discombobulated, in front of my son who is already terrified. Or, I could be the best version of myself.

And I choose the latter. When this is all over, whatever that means, I want to be fit, healthy, accomplished in ways that are aligned with my soul. I want to be loving, kind, and strong. For the lack of distractions beckon me to focus on myself for once in my life while I live in the bubble of my home for endless days unknown.

Listen to the media if you want. That is a definite rush and will keep you away from yourself. Fight on social media about how “right” you are about some opinion. But I do not speak in opinions, I speak only of experience. And experience has taught me to be more silent and listen. Conflict is a short-term rush much like a drug that makes a person feel high. I see why it is happening. Fear shoots cortisol throughout your body which immerses your body in fight or flight until it is processed through your kidneys and livers. Get high if that is your thing. But, know there is no escaping yourself. The only way out is in.

Fear is a great motivator. But so is love. And I will not be reduced to social conforms and sheep-like tactics. It is a time to beat to your own drum unless you drop dead but at least you know you did with glory. So I challenge you to be the best version of yourself and to recognize the state of affairs lies completely in our own, hopefully, clean and washed hands. No one can save us but ourselves. This is a time of unity and an opportunity to actually live as one: an opportunity we all said we strived for but have yet to achieve.

Take what I say as you please. I know there are haters and lovers and extremely numb people who may read my rant. But, consider this an opportunity to come together, for once, and focus on our similarities while we live in isolation so we can save lives on a global scale. Forget America First. We lost that the day the virus began.

 

Beyond Social Media

“Man was born to live with his fellow human beings. Separate him, isolate him, his character will go bad, a thousand ridiculous affects will invade his heart, extravagant thoughts will germinate in his brain, like thorns in an uncultivated land.”
—Suzanne Simon from MEMOIRS OF A NUN (1796)

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We are caught in an illusion of togetherness when we converse online. Days pass quickly as the all-mighty computer consumes are actions. It feels like we are not alone. Our conversations feel like true substitutes for real relationships. However, one thing is amiss: physicality. Humans are social creatures. Like all mammals, we need to be with one another to thrive. The isolation of the computer confuses the mind by fueling our time with compulsiveness and boredom.

How many times a day to we check our phones? Waiting, hoping for something to increase endorphins. However, the computer never really satisfies. It gives the gift of insatiability where there is never enough and the user is always wanting more. And in that period of wanting…life passes by.

Most mammals run in packs to assure safety and the ability to procreate the next generations. The togetherness is the reason for living: without it, the mammal would surely die. Human beings are not the elite. They are mammals too. Mammals who have forgotten their basic needs to function and thrive.

Every living organism on this earth is just trying to survive. That is how the world exists. Humans surpassed this mode and what was left became ingenuity, creativity, and insanity. The basis for neurosis dwells in the separation to which we agree to in our online relationships, in our comments as well as passing around propaganda as the truth. It is a possibility that we are destroying our species because we stepped out of the line of what was natural: staying with the pack, caring for one another and fighting for the existence of the whole rather than the individual.

As the years pass in the is the digital age, people’s hearts become crueler behind the computer. Unnecessary words are exchanged to sustain the level of serotonin that the computer offers. It is dangerous to depend on an external object to feed your soul. The danger lies in not really pondering what is within without comparing oneself to what is viewed on social media.

Creating social media was supposed to be a good idea. But it is has taken over the daily lives of humans. If we stop questioning the real world we are left in an imaginary maze of toxic overload, spread by each other, alone.

Take a minute to smell the air, watch the trees turn red and yellow and the temperatures drop. For a moment, look at who you live with as if they are more important than the fix you receive in the digital world. Just maybe, you may see life as it happens. We say life is short but we shorten every minute we spend interacting on social media rather than with each other in person. Humans were born to be together. I hope we do not lose sight of that through mundane distractions and arguing useless battles. All we have is today. Let us start now.

 

mom and me 8th grade

(Photo credit Chelsea Mandler)

As the dawn is growing near,

And the days begin to wane,

I saw the darkness in your eyes

Not much of you remains.

 

There is no sweet satisfaction,

To see the pain that you endure,

I wonder if you know it all,

That our life was but a blur.

 

Your strength, I did admire,

You knew how to survive,

You made it through the toughest times,

Steadfast and alive

 

But you did not fight for me,

You left in quite a haste,

I only see you walking away,

I never saw your face.

 

And the years passed by so quickly,

From being a child to where I am now,

I thought we would have a chance,

To mend our love somehow.

 

Yet, you were very nasty,

Always something mean to say,

I treated you with respect,

Because I am that way.

 

I got your Christmas card this year,

With a business card inside,

Telling me to take care of things,

When you finally died.

 

And that is when it happened,

When I could finally see,

You horrible, heartless woman,

You missed out on me.

 

And all the pills of I have swallowed,

All the drinks I drunk,

And all the drugs I have ingested throughout my life,

Was to fill the heart you sunk.

 

God graced me with some clarity,

I could see the undertaking,

In front of me, I will rebuild,

The life from me you’ve taken.

 

Therefore, the answer is simple,

I will not be your pawn,

You will have to find another soul,

To care for you after you have gone.

 

And when it is finally over,

The only pain I foresee,

For Coco

Corey sleeping

I have nine more years to prepare you for adulthood and the days seem to fly by so rapidly. There are so many things I want to teach you but life gets in the way. So lets start with that.

  1. Life gets in the way of all plans. That is why it is important to take the right action instead of being concerned your plans will not unfold the way you want. We always get to where we need to be.
  2. Our society teaches us to to be fiercely independent and to be special. Special people are lonely. It is more important to find the similarities with others than to be different. You are who you are…you don’t have to try be anything else.
  3. Social media hurts people. It takes away our humanness and leads us to believe we are connected through a computer screen of false images and ideas. Mammals are social beings and they need to be actually around each other for fulfillment.
  4. Your parents are only human. They have faults and flaws and can be selfish, too.
  5. What anyone says about you is none of your business. It is not personal. It is where that person is at in his or her lives. Try to be loving no matter what.
  6. Resentments only hurt you. Wishing bad things on other people creates hate within your body and damages your sense of well being.
  7. There are no shortcuts so do not even try.
  8. Dream big. Anything can be accomplished with hard work and a sense of purpose.
  9. You will have your heart broken. Maybe several times. Keep loving anyway.
  10. You do not know everything. I think you may have learned that from me but knowing everything discourages learning and this life is full of wonder and different things to learn about.
  11. Be of service. It is the easiest way to find happiness when you stop thinking about yourself all the time.
  12. Travel the world but also find a place to become rooted. Traveling expands your mind but being rooted deepens your soul.
  13. Human kindness exists and champions over any tragedy. Love is all around you.
  14. You are hundred percent accountable for yourself. Victims do not succeed. And placing blame is useless.
  15. Humility is the gateway to freedom from the ego.
  16. Start where you are. Not where you want to be or think you should be. Figure out where you are and begin. This is the only way to overcome adversity.
  17. Keep your eyes open and look at everything coming your way. There is nothing you cannot handle if you continue to take the right actions and stay 100 percent accountable.
  18. You are entitled to nothing. You reap what you sow and this feeds your soul.
  19. Look people in the eye when you firmly shake their hands.
  20. Never be too certain. An open mind will bring you more answers than a mind that fully believes it its own convictions.
  21. Sink into yourself. You are far more likable by others if you simply show your flaws and be thoroughly honest.
  22. Engage in small talk at first. This is the way our culture gauges each other. I had to learn this the hard way. I hope you heed my advice.
  23. All things are temporary and that is okay. Accept the natural ebb and flow of life.
  24. Always ask for help if you need it. Those that love you want you to be honest. It is the best way to build connections and life long friends. And of course, always be willing to help the best that you can.
  25. What you put into your body creates who you are. Think carefully how you treat yourself and always tend to your basic needs.
  26. Having courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. Be brave and get through whatever is in front of you.
  27. Comparison is the thief of joy. And joy can happen at anytime if you are paying attention.
  28. Laugh and cry and feel and think. Experience everything you can in this lifetime. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You are already nine years into the one you started.
  29. Don’t trust the media.
  30. Know that I love you with all my heart and I will always be there for you. Never be afraid to share with me your mistakes, your feelings or hide who you are. I LOVE ALL OF YOU.

The Anthem of the Wild Woman

Don’t compromise yourself, you are all you got.                                                                          Janis Joplin

This is the commencement of your daughter’s undying right to be loud and be heard. We scoff at the notion that women should be taught to be quiet; to play nice. It is time for our girls to take back their power and counterbalance societies’ messages with feminine prowess. We are the dreamers and the shakers and the beauties of the soul. We are the voices behind the music. Our power is recognized and intrinsically cultivated into the rhythm of the beat.

We are every shade of women. Using music metaphorically to encapsulate the pulse beneath our breath, our girls will cast a shadow over pervasive attempts to be silenced. There is no victory and there is no defeat. We just play our music. Together, united. We write our own rules into existence by tapping into the parts of ourselves that refuse to die.

Let me live out loud by beckoning all that is creative within me to the forefront of my life. I am my own power. I am my own song. I do not need to cooperate, hesitate or speculate what others may think. I know they want me to be quiet. But I have something to say and something to prove to myself. And I know that I will find my truth in the hallways of my mind and in the fluttering of my heart.

Women before me have paved the way until this point. It is my turn to love and to feel and to recognize that the repressive nature of being born the “wrong” sex does indeed exist. If it is wrong so be it. I will not change who I am to please you anymore. I hear the laughter of my own soul echoing through my beautiful body. I pound sharply on my own chest to rescue the sounds of my maiden cry. I am my own hero and villain. I do not need you tell me who I am.

The darkness with me will be courted. I am not afraid. That darkness is only a mirror of the thousand times I rejected myself for someone else’s pleasure. Bear witness to the light that fulfills its own self in me. That light shines gloriously when free from conventional thought. Do not doubt its presence. It is as real as me.

Together, my sisters and I will rock to the vibrational patterns that is woman. We do not twerk. We Headbang. We dance and we sing and we laugh and we cry. That is our truth. Our power is bigger than the lies I was told. We share the beauty of the world in each of our loving hands. Attached to each other forever in the symbolism that is SHE.

When you awaken the inner warrior in your daughter there will be no mistaking all that she has become from empowering her. She will be forever yours but she is yours by choice and not by situation. She is her own context. And we believe in her. It is time for her to be introduced into the limelight and dwell deep into the glory of being an authentic version of herself.

I found every shade of me on this stage. I bathe in my own essence. I will no longer relinquish my power. The days were long but full of meaning. And I will look back on this time and thank you for giving me the chance to bask in my own glory. I will always be your daughter. But now I am my own woman.

Mastication

I have never been a big eater. But after my surgeries created an inability to move around, the pounds packed on. I could not understand it. I did not eat poorly. I did not eat in excess. But, my trim body counted on me always moving. When that was taken away…I did not know what to do.

Where did I go wrong?

I am a fast-eater who does not chew my food properly. Or in scientific terms, I do not masticate long enough. Masticate means to chew.One must chew food slowly in order to not gain weight. Plus fast eating is linked with obesity. But most people do not know why. The science behind it isn’t simple. At least not for me. But it’s all about the brain and a little receptor called ghrelin.

When ghrelin is activated, hunger pangs follow. For some people, hunger pangs can be very painful. The stomach rubs against itself, triggering a pain response that can only be satisfied with food. The trick is to eat the food that actually takes time to break down without an accompaniment of water or other beverages.

Why? The breaking down of food requires energy and or a metabolic response that assures our brain that we are getting enough. The longer the it takes for the breakdown to occur the more likely a person is to not overeat. Furthermore, chewing also takes energy and activates synapses in the brain signal being full.

In the beginning of the 20th century chewing was the fad. There were ads about masticating all over the newspapers.  But it soon was replaced by calorie cutting. Now, our aisles are covered in protein bars, shakes, bottles of water and pills to lose weight. But this will never truly work because diet food does not make a person’s body work hard. It does not signal to the brain any long-time feelings of being full.

In fact, research shows that a person who chews their food longer will eat 11.5 % less over a year’s period. If you are 200 pounds that is over 20 lbs gone. Add eating real food that makes your body work hard to break it down while increasing energy and weight loss and losing weight will become much less painful. And…deprivation may be the newest fad  to exit our news-feed.

All I know is this…I lost 24 pounds in one month because I chose to eat whole foods and chew longer. I still had a little ice cream or a dessert every day. I could not really exercise due to being in chronic pain. But I watched the pounds peel off.

Now…please note. I am over weight. The first twenty pounds is going to be easier for me to lose than someone who is trying to lose the last twenty pounds. But…it was not a painstaking process. And that for me is the key.

In the end, diet food is a scam. If one learns the art of mastication, eating food will become a joy again and not something to of which to feel guilty all the time! J

The Glory of Being Fat

I spent the first 30 years of my life enraptured to be thin. In any food container, or drink or anything else, I memorized the calorie count along with all the nutritional value or lack thereof. At 24, my goal in life was to be a personal trainer. I was a glorious 164 lbs and I already worked out two hours a day on top of being a waitperson at a high volume casual fine dining restaurant.

But I never felt thin. I was the type of person where people always commented that it look liked I lost weight every time they saw me. For most women this would be taken as a compliment. But also for most women this might be seen as “so I looked fat before!”

I starved myself, I took up smoking not to eat, I snorted lines of meth amphetamines although I have never been one who enjoyed being awake and I drank black coffee to keep me feeling not hungry all the time. My boyfriend would make marks about pushing my skin together to see cellulite. It seemed. I only felt worthy of love if I was super skinny. I remember seeing an OB-GYN who remarked that I had gained 10 pounds from 15 years of age to 16 and that she was very concerned. But I should note I am 5’11 and I will never be petite…ever…ever.

So when I finally quit smoking after seventeen years of indulging and my father dying in my arms of lung cancer six years prior, I gained weight. First thought PANIC. But more weight came and it did not leave. Within a year, I had the first of seven major surgeries which made my weight plummet far beyond 200lbs. And there was nothing I could do. I was immobile and I had lost the will to starve myself out of sheer boredom of being in bed all the time.

Then…after I finally decided to buy clothes that fit me (after two years) I began to soften, literally and physically.  You see I truly believed I would not be loved if I was fat. After many years of special attention from men, I was horrified to give that up and be me. Plus my weight was always a topic of conversation with my father and mother. “Watch the pizza.” “Your hips are widening.” and it went on and on. Guess what? I was growing!! I am a tall woman that needed some weight. Their feedback was rarely met with enthusiasm rather I whispered “Fuck you,” under my breath.

However, one day I was at the deli counter and this guy was very kind to me. I looked behind me to see if he was looking at me. And YES…it was me he was talking to. And for a mere glimpse I saw I was worthy of kindness. I  began to notice other things too. People would open the door for me. Others would make me laugh. And my family and my friends still truly loved me!

What did that love look like to me? Initially, just smiles. But soon, my advice was sought after and then I made it even easier because I was willing to talk my weight with them. Soon “them” became everyone. I did not hide in the Plus Size section. I wandered and chatted. I was not alone in my obesity. There were others too.

Soon, I found that there were far more “real” people than just skinny ones. I stood taller. I chose what I wanted at any restaurant. I tried ice cream, roast beef sandwiches with extra cheese and even candy bars. And what I choose to ate had nothing to do with my worth.

You see the more I owned my weight, the more people found me approachable. And it can be lonely out there in “I am getting skinny again” land. And as my attitude changed, my beauty did too. I am almost positive that people still found me attractive!

Furthermore, I have a very keen insight on the friends I know who still measure their worth by the size of their jeans. In that world, weight means everything and there is no room for wonder, imagination, laughter or peace.

I weigh 273lbs today. I don’t think it is healthy. I will cut back on carbs and simple sugars. But I will do it for so many other reasons than feeling pretty for others. I will do it to live a long life. I will do it because with weight pain surmises. I will do it when I want to and I will not do it when I do not want to.

I own this life and it is a marvelous life. And I am lucky enough to have my cake and eat it too. Are you?

 

In Hipocrisy We Stand

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Have you ever noticed we have a National Day every day? There is a National Holding Hands Day, National Sex Day, National Siblings Day, National Donuts Day? National Best Friends Day? And as far as I can see it never stops. Does no one find this odd? Sometimes I feel like I am the only one.

United States is not  democratic nation  it is a Republic. This shouldn’t be news to anyone unless you were born after the flag salute became vile. And one should know that a Republic nation is ruled over by governmental law whereas a Democratic nation is ruled by the majority .

It is kinda sneaky of the press, our government and the corporations keeping us distracted to look the other way. It seems Democracy and being Republic has changed drastically as the government gains more and more power without ever telling anyone that is it one of the most inefficient governing power in this country.

But let’s look at this closer…first, the “powers that be” cause division. That has obviously happened. But it is important that we remain in conflict rather than staying aware of current topics.  Today’s subject  could easily be Putin capitalizing on Ukraine’s weakness or how poorly the Iranian Nuclear Deal is being managed by our top leaders. Yet,  we are being flooded with news and commentaries  about transgender issues instead. I do believe that transgender issues are important but do they really trump the 20 trillion we owe in debt to other countries? A debt so large we will never be able to pay it off in our lifetimes: clearly not under this Republic controlling the democratic majority.

But please don’t forget National Jerk Chicken day is two days after the Fourth of July. We really need to celebrate more.

Freedoms are slowly being replaced by rules. And unfortunately our vote only counts in theory. The Super Delegates and the Electoral College actually elect our leaders. But don’t worry we can talk about the Zika virus all day and all night to replace the reality that we have no voice left in this country.

Now that is good propaganda! Keep people fearful, while arguing with each other as they celebrate our new National Holidays based on twitter feed and possibly a push from the people who do not want you to hear the news.

One thing I learned living overseas as a US Diplomat’s wife is the public has no idea what is really going on. We are numbers,  populating inside machines that spy on us in order to decide for us what we should know versus what is really happening.

The big news is that employment went up one and half percent and our GDP has been raised. But there is no mention that the debt raised as well and that the people who figure out the percentages of employment do not include those who have given up on searching for work and or those who are partially employed. But on June 27th Rainbow Day is coming. And if you are lucky you will be able to gorge on National Ranch Day too.

Did you know that there were tens’ of thousands of videos where people were burning the Koran the day of the Benghazi attacks? The very reason we were not told it was terrorists and we let our people die. And the Egyptian filmmaker blamed for the evil film is still in jail over other reasons?  People are being thrown under the bus left and right and the news conflicts itself but its all right because National Wait Staff Day keeps us excited about life.

Think very careful on what you are being shown.  Ask yourself why now? Is there something they do not want me to see? The answer most likely is yes.That is what you can do for your country. Keep it real. Don’t let this self-made fast-paced world overwhelm you enough where you can’t see anything straight. That is the biggest danger to us as a nation in the end after all.

 

 

 

Insights on a Sunny Day

 

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Working day bar is always a drag. It is usually dead until you are about to leave and the rest of the day you stock, clean and fold your white towel over and over again.

On this day it was Sunday to my surprise this guy walks in who was good friends with upper management. I had spent sometime with him in social situations but I do not believe we spoke much to each other. However, only a few times in a lifetime does a person get to have one those days that change the trajectory of one’s life. And this would be one of them.

He was looking for Willy, the Bar Manager and one of his closest friends. Willy had left for the day. But I offered him a drink and he accepted. It was a margarita on the rocks (and no Willy I did not charge him). He was lawyer but I think he missed the bartending days because he directed me exactly how to make his drink which was fine with me.

“You know I need to talk to you about something?” He carefully said. And I asked what. “Someone told me you don’t like me.” I was stunned because not only was that not true, I was surprised he could be so honest. And so we began to talk. We talked about honesty and which led to deeper conversations.

We talked for several hours and he eventually drove me home and I invited him to stay for a little while. I liked how he was wise and funny. And I felt totally comfortable around him which was rare for me in general.

So I began asking him questions about life. He had a couple years on me and little did I know I needed the advice he would relay to me on this beautiful Sunday afternoon on my porch in Santa Barbara.

“I don’t understand why I can’t get a boyfriend.”  I complained.

“You don’t ask questions.” He said as if there was no other answer to my statement.

Startled, my mind raced about all the rules young people place on themselves to not get rejected. And I realized I never asked questions. I never said what I wanted. I just went along with the guy of the week until he moved on.

“But how could I ask questions?”

“You have to ask questions in relationships and in all that you do, so you have clarity and you know where you stand. You waste time if you do not.” He declared.

“So you are saying I need to ask someone how they feel about me?”

“Yes and ask them if they are interested in dating or are just having fun. And tell them your needs and walk away if they treat you poorly.”

This was the most amazing advice I had ever been given. Tell the truth? That was exactly what I thought I should not do. But I was willing to try it.

We drank a little more and I admitted to my dream of him of wanting to be a writer.

“Then you must be a writer!” He proclaimed.

I was still vulnerable about my writing but I took it out and he read every page. And he told me I was good and that I needed to fight for my dreams and I had the ability to it. He actually cared and he was quite serious about what he was saying.

Twenty three years later, I am still taking his advice. I ask questions in interviews, I tell the truth and I do not hide who I am. But even most importantly the seed he planted in my heart to write finally came to fruition this year. I finally took his advice on truth telling to a whole new level and I let my heart bleed all over the page because for twenty years my mind heard his message of “ you must write” and I let myself tell my story and write about what I wanted.

Two thousand views later on my blog….I want to thank this man. It is his birthday today and I find him to be amazing. He is a respected attorney  in his community. He takes care of himself and his kids. He is funny and loyal; a rare find indeed. But most importantly, he set out to do what he wanted to do and he reached success far greater than he expected.

And  merely by chance I gained much insight and courage on one empty day at the bar from someone I hardly knew.

Life has twists and turns. Never be surprised. You may not know how an event or a person can effect your life. Be open. And thank that person. I do every time I see him because I am afraid he will sue me.( Just kidding my friend.)  And I wish you the happiest of happy  birthdays. I hope to see you soon. 🙂

 

 

1992: When I knew EVERYTHING

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1992 I believe speech…

I believe we choose where we are in life.

I believe nothing should be lemon-scented.

I believe ATM’s are the root of all evil.

I believe anyone looks attractive after 8 beers.

I believe Elvis is dead.

I believe in memories.

I believe everyone should fulfill as many sexual fantasies as possible.

I believe Cindy Crawford should be shot and killed.

I believe Hitler was the devil.

I believe in remote controls.

I believe leaf blowers only work on Sundays before 10:00am.

I believe we are as beautiful as we feel.

I believe raisins taste exactly how they look.

I believe Bill Clinton did inhale.

I believe there is a sixth sense.

I believe in destiny.

I believe in taking a pillow to the beach.

I believe Michael Jackson can do whatever he wants with his face.

I believe blame is irrelevant.

I believe people walk through life never knowing their surroundings.

I believe marriage is not hopeless in the 90’s, just harder.

I believe in wine without dinner.

I believe what comes around goes around.

I believe everyone deserves the time of day.

I believe fleas are immortal.

I believe in tipping well.

I believe in life after death.

I believe people who have too many secrets go through life misunderstood.

I believe menstruation is a cruel joke form God.

I believe in order over freedom but never over equality.

2016 where I am now

I believe fate and character are one in the same.

I believe I am lucky to be able to afford lemon- scented anything.

I believe ATM’s are the last of our problems.

I believe anyone looks attractive after they bought my meal, made me laugh and bought me eight beers.

I believe Elvis dead but he did not die from a jelly do-nut overdose like my mother said ended his life.

I believe I have a photographic, autistic memory that irritates all boyfriends, marriages and all friend.

I no longer blush at the idea of sexual fanasies.

I think we should leave Cindy alone, plus her husband is a babe.

I believe  Hitler was the devil and an antecedent how social groups react under fear and pressures given any knowledge of Global Studies.

I totally did not foresee the expansion and technology of remote controls.

I believe we are as beautiful as we ACT.

I REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT BILL or his WIFE.

I KNOW there is a sixth sense.

I believe destiny is an illusion.

Pillow are necessary everywhere.

Michael Jackson. Too soon?

I believe blame is irrelevant unless you are married. Then it is solid truth.

I believe people walk through accept the reality that they are given, regardless of the truth.

I believe marriage is always harder regardless of the time in history.

I believe in dinner. But wine is good if you don’t have it every day.

I know what comes around goes around and I try to be of service at all times.

I believe fleas are immortal in arid climates.

I believe the morning doesn’t always save us.

I know there is a higher power.

I know nothing lasts forever except love.

I believe there are casual moments which are really wasted time as we could just get to know each other.

I STILL BELIEVE IN TIPPING WELL IN ALL CASH!

I know there is an afterlife. I have experienced it in many occasions that are undeniable.

I believe in order over freedom but never over equality.

I believe that hysterectomies can be the root of all happiness.