Ask yourself honestly: are you looking for a steady, predictable life? Is this what you want? If so, you must realize that the world cannot offer you this. Everything in the world is in the process of change. Nothing is steady. Nothing is predictable. Nothing will give you anything other than temporary security. Thoughts come and go. Relationships begin and end. Bodies are born and pass away. This is all the world can offer you: impermanence, growth, change.”
What if she’s fine It’s my mind that’s wrong And I just let bad thoughts Linger for far too long What if (if!), she’s fine (fine!) It’s my mind that’s wrong And I just (just!) let bad thoughts (thoughts!) Linger for far too long
Let’s go to the corner store and buy some fruit I would do anything to get you out your room Just take your medicine and eat some food I would do anything to get you out your room It’s so cruel what your mind can do for no reason
“Don’t always think you’re wrong when you’re right They’ll always try to change your mind Darling, just do whatever feels right Your life is there to be designed”
I’m struggling to make it out on my own.
I left my mother’s house, the place of her anger and of my resentment, over a year ago, and she left the state just after. I’m not sure it’s better, but it’s different and that gives me hope. I wrestle with the blame for my situation. Was I the bad daughter who had to leave for the good of the family? Or maybe it wasn’t my fault I turned out like this? Maybe it wasn’t up to me how I turned out.
Maybe it doesn’t matter either way. I’m alone, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. I’m alone but I always have been and at least this time I am free. I’m coming alive again and the future is an open road, a bright horizon, an unknown country. There is a place where I belong. There is someone I am supposed to be. I’m setting out to find her and when I do we can finally start making it all right. We can make something like a life, maybe?
“It’s both a blessing and a curse To feel everything so deeply like you do girl, I know There’s been more times that it hurts But who said love was never easy, girl?”
I feel something new growing in me. I think it’s a kind of happiness. Maybe it’s pride? Maybe it’s potential.
I got my GED, a job, and, soon, my I’ll have my own place. I’m in love and working hard to be worthy of receiving it in return. That old pain is fading, I think. That deep sadness is lifting too, I feel. I’m starting to see the more clearly the trajectory my life has been on. I can see the cause and the effect and every time I travel back through my memories, back and back through time, to change something, to save myself from something, I see that there is nothing that could be and still come to this happiness I have found.
So much bad had to happen in order to find the good, it seems. Or maybe the universe doesn’t measure one against the other and it’s only the human mind that sees anything as simply as right and wrong. Perhaps everything happened just as it had to. No one could have changed a second of it. I was always going to be who I turned out to be, and nothing at all was earned or deserved. There is nothing to regret or be grateful for or be envious of. I am this person and I have this life and neither is so bad, really.
I can put one foot in front of the other knowing that.
“Oh, it’s easier said than done But don’t you worry about those little things and bigger What a fine revelation When you realise there’s no voices in your head, girl”
I’m remembering more and more that I had once forgotten.
Being the oldest daughter is hard in any family is hard but in mine it meant being a parent before I even hit puberty. I learned early how to care very much, and under the weight of responsibility my heart grew rather than crushed. My siblings were my life, and I bore the work admirably. Mixing bottles, changing diapers, getting my sister from school, cooking dinner.
The stress and the loneliness, I understand now, perhaps got to be a little too much. I tell my mom I am beginning to hear faint voices. I hear my name being called faintly when there is no one around. Her reaction makes me believe I have done something wrong and when the doctors start asking questions, I tell them the voices have gone away. They haven’t but they have changed. Now I hear my own voice, and I hear more than just my name.
I’m barely hanging on some days and life grows easier for everyone but me. The old pain and deep sadness have never gone away. They been reborn into grown up versions called anxiety and depression and grown to powerful and unwieldy inside of me. The voices become intrusive thoughts and negative and critical commentary in my head. The voices are only me and they are always with me, repeating back to me everything I’d ever been told.
“Life’s a bitch and then you die La, la, la, la, la, la”
With hard work, things were getting better. Then, one day, I suddenly realized that eventually I would die. My mortality had never occurred, let alone mattered, to me before, but I’m happier now. I have things to lose now and that realization begins to keep me up every night, shaking and short of breath.
I count all the years I statistically have left and wonder which ailment or accident, statistically, will be the cause. I’m looking at the cause and effect of my life again and wondering which parts were my responsibility and which ones weren’t. I’m collecting regrets and resentments and grasping for gratitude.
I roll over and wake my wife from peace, the one who has loved me since I left my mother so many years ago, and without asking she knows what I need. I lay on her chest and match my breath to hers. My heart beat follows suit. I speak to her there in the dark as if I am already dead. I need her to know I love (loved) her. I need her to know I have (had) a good life with her. That I am (was) happy and if I could do it all again, I would.
I don’t tell her my hope. I hope I do get to do it all again, even all the bad stuff, even the parts I still have nightmares about, even the stuff that left me with this hole in my heart. I hope, against everything I know and (tell myself I) believe, that I will get to do it all again. I smile and drift off to sleep with the image of and my life lived again and again stretching back from infinity and forward just as far. I imagine an infinite number of Lisa’s lying in the dark with this same fear and this hope and this heartbeat.
“When the world really gets you down Don’t be scared, don’t be scared, no All the little things you’re worried ’bout Ain’t really there, really there, no”
The death anxiety lasts a couple of years and fades as fast as it came on. I have other fears now, some old and some new, some small, some huge.
I’ve built a predictable life of steady routine. I’ve had the same job for over 10 years. I come in for the same hours and on the same days, week after week. I work in the same location, with the same coworkers, the same kids, year after year after year. Any deviation from this steady, beat, beat, beat, of my life triggers a visceral and primitive response. Any change in schedule or expectation signals danger. Everything unknown is to be avoided.
I used to be able to take public transportation. I left my apartment and travelled by impulse without fear. I changed jobs like people change clothes. I walked around at night. I never felt fear. I never felt anything.
Now I can’t make a phone call, send an email, I can’t drive or go places on my own, or imagine my life any different than what it has become and I still can’t sleep. I worry about my mother’s health. I worry about my siblings, my nieces and nephews. I worry about my dad. If he is sad. I worry about my grandmother, if she is alone. I worry about my wife and reach out in the dark again to feel her breathing, to feel her heart, and reassure myself she is alive. I worry and I wish. I wish everything about me was different.
I tell myself my worries are stupid and when that doesn’t work I tell myself my worries are wasting my life. That doesn’t work either.
“Been talking to yourself at night I’ve been thinking you should take that flight Let it go if it don’t feel right, yeah, said So won’t you come and put your phone down? You know you gotta leave that thing alone You know it’s real bad for you Take a walk outside”
Nothing’s changed, and everything has changed. I’m still that same sad girl and that same scared adult, but I’m becoming something else entirely too. My life may be simple, but the peace and warmth is more than I imagined I would ever have. Now that I’ve had had time to bask in it to relax and to know safety and stability I finally feel like I can begin to ask a little more, expect a little more, work and earn a little more.
I’ve returned to writing, starting with the journal pages written anytime of day I need, just like when I was a teenager. I’ve returned to reading too, broad and ferocious. I’m seeing new perspectives and learning more about the mind. I’m exploring childhood development and the impact of poverty, stress, trauma, and disfunction on the childhood mind. I’m learning about free will and determinism. I’m learning about boundaries, coping skills, and acceptance.
Life’s been a real bitch and I have no doubt that will ever change but I have a feeling I will go on changing all the time only from now on I want a say in how it happens. From now on I want to think about why things are the way they are and why I am the way I am. I want to decide when to change and decide what to be. I want to do things because I want something more than I’m afraid of it. From now on, I am taking back the control I never had.
From now on I won’t worry about regrets or resentments. I won’t count the days that are left or the days I never really got to live. I’m going to get on with the art of dying rather spending my nights afraid of it and spending my days paralyzed by it. It’ll take time but I have a feeling that’s the whole point.
“‘Cause life’s a bitch and then you die And then you die And then you die. And then you die”
This post was written in response to the WordPress Discover Prompt, Day 3: Song
I tell people that I don’t want to be the one in charge. I tell them I don’t want the lion’s share of the work, that I don’t want to be the “go to” person, the example, or the one making all the decisions. I just want to be part of the team. I just want to do my job for a while. I don’t want to be important. I don’t want anyone or anything to depend on me. I tell people that, but my actions never match my words and I don’t know why.
I feel this overwhelming need to step up whenever there is work to be done. I feel the need to do my part but I’m never sure where my part ends and someone else’s begins. I’m never sure when to stop and I am terrified to get it wrong. I’m terrified to look lazy, or for anyone to have the room to say I’m not a team player or a hard worker. So, I work harder than I need to, than I want to, and than anyone is even asking me to and as a result, I fear I don’t leave room for others to shine.
Tomorrow I will try a little harder to step back and to trust that my team will let me know when to step up again.
I’m not up as early as I’d hoped to be (the story of my life) but I at least got going the moment I got out of bed. I’m spending the morning doing some more pampering—face masks, nail painting, shaving, teeth whitening—before we join all the other beautiful queers downtown for celebration.
We have a whole gay day planned. We’ll have our best gay friends with us to do some shopping, drinking, eating, exploring, and later more drinks and dancing throughout the rest of the night.
I’m excited for tomorrow too when, I hope, we’ll head back downtown again to see the parade. It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall riots, we have a gay Governor, and, for the first time, we have a pride flag hanging from the state capitol. I want to see it. I want to go and be a part of all that progress and joy.
While I agree with Marsha P. Johnson, the revolutionary LGBTQ rights activist, when she said, “As long as gay people don’t have their rights all across America, there’s no reason for celebration.” I do think we need a day to love and celebrate who we are because no one else is going to do that.
Today, we will celebrate, tomorrow, we will remember, and when the weekend is over, we’ll get back to doing the work.
I had originally planned not to go into work today but this is one of the few weeks where I can get more hours than usual and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make a little more money. I regretted the decision the moment I walked through the door.
Things were tense at work in preparation for a big meeting with the big boss. All around me minds were working out loud to predict the conversation and plot the outcome. All wanted to tell it like it is, make an impression, and somehow someway find the dignity they’d been missing, I guess. I couldn’t help, and I couldn’t handle it, so I went home early.
This evening has been amazing! We’ve had perhaps too good of a time and now we’re off to bed early without having finished out planned self-care/home spa routine in preparation for Pridefest tomorrow. Oh well, if I head to sleep now there’s a real chance I’ll be able to pull myself out of bed early enough to write and get ready.
The weekend is here and I can already tell it’s going to be wonderful.
Today someone I am attached to professionally violated some established social norms in a spectacular and offensive way, while I was in the room. I did nothing wrong, and I did my best to keep out of the fray but though the violator wasn’t aware, or perhaps didn’t care, I felt the eyes of the room and the wave of disappointment, anger, and disapproval falling on him, and me by association.
I was mad at the violator for the outburst the same as everyone else in the room, but I was also angered by my lack of control over the situation. Suddenly the way I was being viewed had nothing to do with me. Suddenly someone else was acting and speaking for me.
My anxiety has over the years turned me into someone who moves deliberately and with forethought. I rely on my friends and coworkers to give me the space I need to control the world’s perception of me and this person took that away.
I watched, outraged and angry, as he initiated a chaotic situation and acted in ways that left the outcome uncertain. He left me with no choices. He left me with no way to reassert my place or my boundaries. He left me exposed and with no way to salvage anything for myself. This, for me, is his true offense.
Do nothing days are great when they are planned but when they aren’t they are more like feel guilty days. I’ve been having a lot of those lately.
I’m avoiding the to-do list and conveniently forgetting again and again what needs to get done. This is what I do when I am overwhelmed. I get tired. I shut down. I feel the need to rest when the reality is I desperately need the opposite. I need to get up and do something! But knowing doesn’t make it easier. Knowing only makes it more shameful.
By now the day is gone already so there is nothing to be done but to take care of myself. The rain is falling, and it’s lovely. The thunder is clapping, and it’s thrilling. I’ll lean into that and try again tomorrow.