Pink Roses and Pennies from Heaven

Right now I can feel that I’m on the cusp of a spiritual awakening, or shift in perspective, or beliefs, and I don’t know what they are, or what will happen, but I can feel it. It all started with two events: 1) looking up my birth chart and finding that it was uncannily accurate, and 2) my dad’s allusion to my mother’s possible infidelity at the end of their marriage. The birth chart idea came up when my co-worker suggested it, as she had done many times, as I’d dismissed many times, thinking it’s too new-agey, too woowoo. But then for some reason I decided I’d see what it said. I’m sure I’ve done it before, in high school, when I was very into analyzing my dreams, reading Edgar Cayce books, and had learned to lucid dream. My best friend was and still is into astrology and crystals and chakras and everything new age, and now she practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine which I know very little about. I want scientific explanations, and I don’t think Western science has all the answers, and in fact I think there’s so much more out there that we/I have yet to learn, or re-learn, and I have an interest in learning more about quantum physics. Anyway, my birth chart is amazingly accurate, so I looked up my sisters’, my boyfriend’s, and parents’, and they all seemed accurate enough that if you were to switch them up without knowing they’d been switched, you might suspect they’d been switched. You’d say they were wrong. But I only felt like that on this one website. I haven’t tried but one other website, which didn’t seem accurate.

This whole birth chart review along with thinking about who my mom was as a person has led me to thinking about mediums. A couple years ago my hairdresser had mentioned that she’d seen one who knew details no one else could know, and that she and all her friends had seen her, so I finally decided to set up an appointment with her. And I don’t know who the medium reached, if anyone, but it couldn’t have been my mother.

First off, she sensed someone who’d died of heart or lung problems, and my mom had a stroke. She did say that the way it worked was someone would come forward and then she’d ask them to get my mom. So it could’ve been my mom’s mom, who’d had lung cancer, or her grandma, who’d died of a heart attack. It seemed to me that anyone could guess heart or lungs – that’s not uncommon. The medium described my mom as a reserved, kind-hearted, and charming person. Mom was kind-hearted but not reserved and she sure didn’t try to charm anyone. She was a tell-it-like-it-is kind of a person. She said that she saw water, and my mom lived near a lake, but she also said my mom loved water. My mom’s father drowned when she was six months old, and she was afraid of water for most of her life. She didn’t learn how to swim until she was in her 30s. Then the medium mentioned the color pink, that Mom was surrounded in pink, and she sensed pink roses. It’s true that when I think of Mom I imagine her wearing pale pink pajamas because she loved pajamas and she had some very pale pink pajamas, but she did not like the color pink. The medium said that Mom’s advice to me was to be frugal and that she was sending me pennies from heaven. This isn’t really anything Mom would say to me. She did worry about money but she never told me to be frugal. She thought I made a lot of money and never worried about me, but I’m actually in debt and sometimes spend beyond my means. So that does make me wonder. It makes me wonder if now she knows I was doing that to prove my independence, so she wouldn’t worry about me, so she’d think I was strong. She wouldn’t say she was sending pennies from heaven.

Two nights later I was walking out of a meeting and someone looked down and said, “Whoa there’s a pile of pennies here on the floor!” and I thought to myself, Now every time I see pennies I’ll wonder if it’s my mom. And you know what? Maybe it’s not, but I’m going to choose to believe it is. I find it a comfort. Maybe the medium was full of shit, and maybe it was a waste of my money, but I still found it comforting. I’d have liked it better had she mentioned owls, lavender, reading, politics, Mom’s feisty nature. Something specific to Mom. Or something random like something about Dolly Parton, because Mom and I went to see “9 to 5,” a play showing at her local theater, just before she died. Then I’d have been blown away.

The weird thing that happened about 20 minutes before the call was that I was straightening my hair in the bathroom, alone in the house, and the mirror fell. I was trying to hurry so that I could meditate before the call, and first the earbuds I’d hung on the towel rack fell. I picked them up, thinking it was probably a coincidence, and then a couple minutes later the entire mirror fell. It did not break, but rather, it was wedged between the walls. A 50-pound mirror that’s been hanging since 1983, which I know because that’s the date on the back of the mirror, I later found out (August 1 or August 10, I forget which now), and probably when this house was built. I hadn’t been moving much, no one had banged on the wall, nothing had provoked the mirror at all, and it just fell. So I got the hell out of there, went downstairs and meditated.

I want to write so much more, but I have to get ready for work, and I want to pray and meditate beforehand, so more on all of this later.

Oh and I forgot to say that after my call with the medium, I went into the dining room and there were pink roses on the table. So that was weird. My roommate apparently had brought them home the night before.

This is going to be a journey.

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The F Bomb Post on Growth Through Grief and Heartache

My friend’s dad died last night.

He’d been living in a nursing home, or “assisted living,” as we call it these days, for a while now, and suddenly in the past couple of days he took a turn for the worse. He was barely conscious, barely breathing. Spencer saw him Sunday afternoon and he slept the whole time, but all seemed okay. But when his brother got there yesterday their dad still had not woken up, and when we saw him yesterday he already looked like a corpse, with his mouth is hanging open and his eyes half open. He was unresponsive. He hadn’t eaten in five days, and looked like a skeleton lying there with an oxygen tube across his nose. It was a shock for Spencer to see.

If a person decides they don’t want feeding tubes or IV fluids once the dying process has started, they basically die of thirst. Eventually one or more of their organs fails and that’s it. It can take up to 10 days, maybe even two weeks. This LA Times article describes this process as painless, and the experiences the medical professionals describe seem plausible. Who can really know unless they’re going through it themselves, and if you’re going through this, your body is unresponsive and you’re not talking, so you can’t exactly tell people how you feel. I often wondered how much my mom could comprehend when she lay unconscious in the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator that was breathing for her. Was she in pain? Nevertheless, this article certainly made me feel better; prior to this, I felt uneasy thinking of how we basically let people starve to death. Turns out maybe it’s one of the most peaceful ways to go. This article from pbs.org explains the various life support options for those who are at the end stages of life.

As emaciated as Spencer’s father looked, I knew he probably wouldn’t make it another day. And sure enough he passed last night around 2:30. It comforts me to know that this was (most likely/God I hope) a peaceful process. It was an honor to go with Spencer to see his dad, to be a part of that, and I had a chance to spend a few minutes alone with him, which may sound weird but it was something I wanted to do. Here was a man who was dying, at the end stages of his life, about to pass into the next one, or wherever it is that we go after this. While it may sound morbid, I consider it a privilege to be able to sit with someone going through this process, to get an opportunity to comfort them. I told him what I’d want to hear if I were in his place, which was that he’d be home soon, and it was okay to let go, that he’d had a good life, he’d been a good man and a good father, that he was loved. Our friend Mike had met him before and had said he was a sweet man, and he looked like a sweet man. Spencer told me he’d always done the right thing, he’d been a dutiful man. I held his hand and kissed his forehead, stroked his hair, put my head on his chest—lightly, because he looked so frail. These were all the things I did to my mom, that we all did to my mom, and we told her how pretty she was, we kissed her cheek and her hands. We warmed her feet with our hands, and cooled her arms with our chilly hands. Maybe it all sounds weird, but no one cared. At that point I was beyond caring what I looked like to anyone, or how uncomfortable anyone else may be. They could just get over it.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with death. It’s not for me to judge. I have no idea how I’ll be when my dad dies.

Spencer’s mother died a couple of years ago. She’d been living in a nursing home and had been given two weeks to live, so she was transferred to hospice. Two days later she died in the middle of the night, and when the hospital called Spencer and his dad, no one answered because they were asleep. They didn’t get the message until the morning, but by that time the hospice had transferred her body to the morgue, and they couldn’t go see her.

How is that even legal? How can someone think that’s okay?

When my mom was laying in the hospital bed there in the trauma unit with a ventilator breathing for her, I did not want to leave her side. I’d been up all night, first to wait for Steven to come get me to drive me down there, then in the nine-hour drive to make it there. It was the longest night of my life. I was so distraught, and everyone in my house was asleep or gone. Of course, the first thing I’d done was check flights to get to North Carolina from Maryland, but by the time I’d get there on a plane I could’ve driven there. I was so full of anxiety and confusion I couldn’t think straight, and my right eye was extremely dry from some bizarre eye infection that I only had then and never again. Even my tears couldn’t keep my eye from feeling like sand, and I had to keep it closed. If it hadn’t been for that eye, I’d have probably driven myself down there. So I just sat in my room vacillating between crying and staring into space. It had taken forever to get Steven to wake up and pick up his phone because he’d recently had back surgery and had taken some pain pills to sleep. And I really, really wanted Steven to be there with me. I did not want to be alone. I thought he was my soulmate, and that we’d be together forever. If I’d known we’d break up a few months later, I’d have just gotten a flight. But at the time I wanted Steven’s love and comfort, which he gave to me, all week, and for weeks and even months after, at least until Thanksgiving, when I think he just got tired of my depression, and thought that it was time I was there for him, to visit his dad in the nursing home with him. He needed something from me that I just did not have to give at that time.

It was hard to be grateful for him being there for me until now, given that he left me a few months later, because at first my memories of my mom’s death were tied up in my memories of Steven with me. How pissed off I was for such a long time that he had the privilege of being there with my family and my mom as she took her last breath. But now, as I’m typing these words, I’m realizing that I often don’t think of him when I think of that week, of her dying—not in a negative way, anyway. I absolutely do think of how heartbroken I was New Year’s and for months after we broke up, and how sad about it that I still am some days. It sounds cliché but how could something that felt so right be so wrong? I’m pretty sure that’s a song.

If everything happens for a reason, maybe the reason I had him was to help me during that time, because he did a lot for me during that week of trauma for me, and for my family. And for months after, until the Thanksgiving incident. His presence alone was comforting. He knew how to say the right words. He gave sweet hugs. He drove me down there and back, and it’s not a short trip. In fact, he drove twice, because he had to go back to work during the week.

But I am so tired of writing about that anymore, and even more tired of thinking about it. I imagine y’all are tired of reading about it. But everyone has their thing, and I guess this just has to be my thing, for a while anyway. This thing has just been going on too long, that’s for sure. Because you think you’re over it, and you have to wonder why you spend more time ruminating over your broken heart than the loss of your mother, the one who brought you into this world. And by you, I mean I. Until someone comes along with a promise to distract you from your broken heart, with all kinds of fun things to do, and a whole set of friends to go with it, who all make you laugh. Deep, belly laughs. And then that same person turns around and says, Nevermind. I’m going back to my ex, who I’ve given everything you wanted from your ex, and I’m doing everything you wanted your ex to do for you, except I’m doing it for my ex and not you.

In the midst of all of my self-pity yesterday, it occurred to me that now is my opportunity to look at this differently. This is the hardest time to exercise this practice, but it’s also the most important, the most effective.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Jay was enamored with me, and gave me the world. There’s one thing he can’t give anyone, and that’s the emotional connection so crucial to relationships. He’s conflict-avoidant, and tells lies to avoid hurting people’s feelings. It takes one to know one, and now I can see how infuriating this approach is. Just tell us our numerous group texts are annoying instead of waiting until someone asks and then giving a lame excuse that the phone hurts your eyes. You stare at your phone the entire time we’re at the diner so don’t pretend the phone hurts your eyes. We’d all much rather you say, Hey I don’t need 55 texts when I’m trying to work. Then we could all have a good laugh and leave you alone. His lack of honesty and emotional connection would never work for me. I’m tired of living my life that way, and I sure as hell don’t want to invite someone else into my life who hasn’t figured that one out yet.

Let’s also pretend that Steven came back to me today. He showed up on my doorstep and said, I’m sorry. Let’s get married. What would change? Nothing. He’d shut me out during his depressive episodes. He’d become angry and resentful when I didn’t provide the response he wanted for whatever situation that may arise. He’d complain about how wrong the world had treated him, how stupid his co-workers were, what assholes his brothers and parents were, how annoying his ex-wife was.

I don’t need that in my life.

Hopefully for his sake he’s found help. Who knows. People can change. He’s only behaving exactly the way I used to behave, and still can sometimes—let’s be real. Isn’t everyone like that at times? But it’s not up to me to try to make someone else be different.

Now is my opportunity to look at reality. This is what has happened. This happens to everyone at some point. Steven is not coming back to me. My mom will not come back to life. Jay is not interested in me. He’s going back to his ex.

The question now is, How am I going to deal with it?

Jay and his ex are just going back to something that did not work. She gets her life back: a home, her friends, someone to care for her dogs and cats… and a man who will most likely never be emotionally available. Steven has to live his life with an emotional disorder that makes relationships even harder for him than everyone else, plus he has to deal with the depression, anxiety, and possible delusions that arise, as we’ve seen with our friend Jim who went nuts this past week and stole a car. Jim clearly has his own issues, and is lucky to have a place to live that’s not jail, and Spencer has to deal with his father’s death right now. Jay has to live his life not understanding why or how to connect to people.

So life could be much worse for me today.

Right now I’m doing the hard work. I’m getting through school, working. Going to meetings, talking to my friends, writing, praying. Getting through it. One foot in front of the other, and it gets easier every day. Some days are harder than others, like this distraction with Jay, who may be a wonderful person but who sure as hell is not worth what precious time I have in this world, time that can be spent on loving and being loved by others who are willing and able to share their love with me. I have a lot to offer, and if he and Steven can’t see that, there’s nothing I can do about it. Someone else out there can and will, but when they do, I’ll get to re-learn that that won’t save me either. The only thing that can save me is faith. Call it faith that things will work out, if you want; I call it faith in God. And knowing I can have an attitude of kindness and helpfulness when I go in to work today, and I can be there for my friends. There’s so much to be grateful for. Why waste what little time I have on this earth pining over men who clearly don’t give a fuck about me? I am worth much more than that. I have friends and family who love me, and who I love. I have a friend grieving the loss of his dad, and I get the opportunity to be there for him. What more can I ask for? That’s what life is all about. Being there for each other.

And I also have the chance to build a life for myself, which I am doing. Right now. On my own.

How empowering is that?

Let me tell you: it’s pretty fucking empowering.

I have a lot of love in my heart right now, and no way am I keeping it to myself. You get more of it by giving it away. And so that’s what I’ll do at work today, and afterwards at the diner with my friends, and eff Jay if he feels uncomfortable or doesn’t go because I’m there. I can be kind to him but I sure as hell don’t need him in my life, as my boyfriend. So there.

My favorite part of this song starts around 3:15, and ends with these lyrics (written by someone in the Evangenitals, not sure exactly who–maybe Juli Crockett?):

Fuck em when they tell you that you gotta go to work
Fuck em when they tell you that you’ll always be a jerk
Fuck em when they tell you you don’t make enough money
Fuck em when they tell you that your jokes aren’t funny
Fuck em when they tell you that you gotta get a girl
Fuck em when they tell you that you’ll never see the world
Fuck em when they tell you that you don’t know shit
Fuck em when they tell you that you’re never gonna get it

What I like about this song is that it expresses a determination to prove the naysayers wrong. Those naysayers could easily be the negative voice in my head that tells me I won’t make it. But guess what? I’m going to make it. I am making it.

And you can too.

Love and peace,
TCH

PS: My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like gratuitous f-bombs. I think of my niece and nephew when I write this. Who are actually probably dropping f-bombs all over the place themselves right now. But I have decided, fuck it. These are the words that express my emotions in this moment.

Twerkin, Butt Graves, and Getting Right With God

Jay left me for his ex-girlfriend. If you could call what we had a relationship. Nevertheless, it hurts. The old me would’ve felt sorry for myself, wondered when do I get my piece of the pie, when do I get a man who’s done what he’s done for her: he gave her a home, rent-free, took care of her dogs, built a life for her. He gave her everything but his emotions, which he can’t give anyone, and so she left him. But now, for whatever reason, she has decided she wants him back. It’s coincided with the time she was supposed to be moving out a second time, and she had a hell of a time finding anything in the first place, eight months after their break-up.

I’ll be honest: the old me is still here.

None of that really matters, all the stuff about why she left or came back, except that I often wonder what makes people tick, and what changed for her. Did she really love him and want to make it work? Or did she settle, telling herself she’d accept him for who he is, because she’s poor and has no place to go, no job that pays well enough, and no way of keeping her dogs without him.

I cried. A lot.

All I kept thinking was, Why? Why did Steven leave me. Why did I have to say those words that hurt his feelings so badly. Why did that have to happen that way. Why could he not be there for me when I needed him, when I was grieving the loss of my mother.

Because this is not about Jay. If Jay was a choice, I might have taken him, even as an emotionally unavailable partner (even though I found him hard to love because of that, but remember: I’m codependent and extremely adaptable), if I believed he loved me. But he told me from the start that he was unavailable, just a distraction, that he didn’t want to get married or live with anyone, and I believed him and decided I felt the same.  Sort of. Steven had told me that too, and I’d hoped he’d change, though I became willing to live apart as long as he could commit to me emotionally, which he could not do.

The new me is trying to break free from the prison I’ve lived in. Feeling sorry for myself because I’ve worked my ass off my entire adult life with no sugar daddy or parents to bail me out of whatever bad financial decision (a master’s degree in creative writing, anyone?) I’ve made, no one to give me a car, or a motorcycle, or my own house, to walk my dog when I had one, to take me out boating. I opened my heart to someone who couldn’t commit to me, and then I opened my legs for someone who wouldn’t commit.

The old me says, Eff them all. Figuratively speaking. This heart stays closed, and no one’s getting sex from me, ever. Celibacy is what this woman right here is all about right now. I can’t WAIT for menopause. I am so DONE with men. And I ain’t interested in women either.

The new me knows this is not the answer, but I sure as hell don’t know what the answer is. I know that I’m building a life for myself. But it’s fucking painful.

Meanwhile one of my friends went nuts, stole a truck, got thrown in jail, then to the looney bin thanks to his bipolar disorder, a relative who’s a cop, and a new county ordinance in which mentally ill people get put in psych wards for rehabilitation instead of jails where they just learn to become violent criminals. This particular friend was a member of my group of friends who I was having so much fun with until Jay decided to spit on the heart that Steven had ripped out of me. We’ll call him Jim. Jim started sending bizarre group texts that only I seemed to understand because I speak the language of crazy. Here’s what the first text said:

“Commander C: what is it with your default morbid reflections grotesquely Southern twerkin’ butt positions aerial reconnaissance photography? I command that thou’st, after 3 or 4 or 5 mea culpas, watch Harold and Maude 16 times in reverse. And remember: I’m much better looking than Maude. And unlike Harold I have tried to hang myself at High Noon only 19 Johnny Unitas times. Or maybe we should kill them all. Report back before midnight or I’ll commit you to Section 8 with me forever. PS: did you know that Hemingway his own self was a spy himself in some previous war or another? Unlike the us he didn’t have a problem with evil. He just hated Fascists, whoever those sorrybastards might be. Again the midnight oil burns bright in Washington, Land of the Free. Amen.”

Let me translate for you, my dear readers.

Commander C is his nickname for me.

I’d taken this photo at Harper’s Ferry and sent to the group a week or so earlier, with this caption: “Here lies Butt.” My inner 12-year-old found it hilarious. My apologies to anyone out there with the last name “Butt.” If it makes you feel any better, people make fun of my last name too. A lot of jokes are and have been made with my last name: Honeycutt. Honeybutt. Honeyslut. Honeycunt.

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A month or so ago, Mike told us about how he’d gone to the restaurant we frequented one night and much to his horror, people were twerking to some loud music that was playing in our normally quiet and sleepy Mexican restaurant, where the loudest noise came from our laughter.

Harold and Maude is a cult film about a young guy who falls in love with an elderly woman and tries to commit suicide several times over her.

For my international readers: Section 8 is the “Housing Choice Voucher Program” in which private landlords rent decent homes to poor people at a lower cost. It’s not easy to get. I’ve tried. In the counties surrounding the DC area, you get put on a waiting list and then you hear nothing unless your name gets drawn from the lottery. My name never got picked so I don’t know what happens then, ie, if you get the place you wanted or a place that was chosen for you.

The rest of Jim’s text is irrelevant. But here was my response:

“I’m not sure what you’re trying to say there but I try to take people at face value and to communicate the same myself. I hope you won’t try to commit suicide a 20th time, I won’t be killing anyone–on purpose and hopefully not by accident–and my plan is to buy my own tiny house. And I’ve already seen Harold and Maude. Your text would make a good short story or film. To answer your questions about Butt graves and twerking: I thought it was funny, and Mike brought up twerking at Villa Maya.”

In short, I won’t be participating in or encouraging homicide or suicide in any way shape or form, no matter how casual the reference, nor will I be moving into any kind of housing with anyone else, certainly not Jim.

Soon after Jim called me from the psych ward and told me his roommate had given him Devil’s Claw, an herbal supplement for pain relief, and it put him into a manic state, after which he stole a truck and wound up in jail and then the hospital. Somehow he managed to get out of the hospital and has since been sending dozens of bizarre group texts that I haven’t responded to. I spoke to his brother who told me he’d told him that we were in a relationship and had gone for coffee together, both of which are untrue, and I’d told Jim before that I was seeing someone. His brother told me he has bipolar disorder and has done this before and they’re just glad he’s safe and he’s sorry Jim bothered me. What I want to know is why the psychiatrist thought it was okay to let Jim out, and how it is that he’d committed a felony and isn’t in jail.

Regardless it gives me a good reason not to hang out with the group anymore. No one needs to know about my brief saga with Jay, and I can and will make friends elsewhere. I’ll miss these particular friends—though not Jim because now I’m freaked out by him—but the rest of them were fun and I had a good summer. I’ll probably spend more time with other women and focus on my sobriety, spirituality, and school, and let these other women deal with these asshole men who don’t deserve my time.

My time with my family this week was surprisingly wonderful, and I’m grateful to have had that time with them. I had a good day on the eclipse, which marked one year since the day my beloved beautiful mother died. More on all of that later.

I’m off to work now, and I’m grateful to be working with my boss-friend who I love, and who’s going to the Tiny House Expo with me in October. We both have a dream. And it will come true one day.

I’ll leave you with a common theme you see along the roadsides in the South. Can I get a amen?

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The Eye of God

This time a year ago I would’ve been sitting in my room, writing, oblivious to what would unfold 12 hours later, when my sister would call me at work to tell me that our mother had had a stroke and that the outcome did not look good. That was the worst day of my life.

Today I’m driving back to North Carolina again, this time to visit my stepdad, my sister, my best friend, and then tomorrow to South Carolina to visit my dad and his wife. Tomorrow we’ll look at the eclipse, a once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring event. I think it’s so cool that tomorrow is the anniversary of mom’s death. I read in this article in which an eclipse enthusiast, Rick Brown, describes the solar eclipse as the “eye of God.”

Yesterday I came across this article that was in my school’s newsletter from tinybuddha.com. A good reminder to have gratitude. The negativity I sometimes find  engulfed in does not serve me, or anyone else. It just sets in my brain and keeps me down. What I like about this article is the idea of taking something that bothers me, and seeing the positives of it. Even if my job doesn’t pay much, I’m good at it, and I like my job, which is more than I can say for 99% all my other jobs. When I feel alone, I must remember that I have family and friends who love me, and who I love. Last night I got to hang out with my friends, and today I get to visit my family for a few days. I may be slightly stressed about visiting my family, but how lucky am I to have family. And I include my stepdad and best friend in that, and I love them all very much.

Now I hope to God for my dad’s sake alone that there’s not a cloud in the sky when this eclipse comes tomorrow because my father has been planning for this event—I kid you not—for about five years now. He rented a cabin years ago, bought the glasses and everything. He determined on a map the latitude and longitude of exactly where we need to be for maximum visibility, and he has a backup plan for where we can go if it’s cloudy (not sure how that will he, but he does have a backup plan).

In light of recent events–and just because–I’m mildly anxious about visiting my family next week. My dad loves Robert E. Lee and the Confederate South, though I will say in his favor he doesn’t love the slavery and racism of it. Probably like many Southerners he dismisses that crucial piece of history as being something white people just did at the time. I’m not saying it’s okay or that I agree with it, because I do not, and for the record, I do not love Robert E. Lee and I’m glad the South did not win. However, I do not want to get into a discussion or argument about it with my dad (or anyone else), nor do I want to hear him rant. An innocent person got killed, many others injured, and Trump’s reaction(s) was/were horribly inappropriate, and that’s just my two cents. But again, I’m not interested in talking about this with my dad, who’s crushed that people want to take down memorials of his hero. I love my dad. We just don’t see eye to eye on most subjects. He’s a bit of an Archie Bunker, but he’s endearing and quirky in his way. And he’s my father.

School starts back soon and my free time won’t be free anymore, so I’ve had a bit of the end-of-the-summer blues these past few days. But isn’t this a wonderful time in my life, right now? My job’s not that stressful, and I get to learn so much every day. Now I get to see the eclipse, which my dad planned for, making it so easy for me. Otherwise, I’d have stayed home and probably worked. I’d have missed out on this.

I miss the people who once were in my life but are no longer anymore. But I believe I’ll see my mom again one day, and she lives forever in my heart, today. As for my ex-boyfriend, who I loved more than any other guy I’ve ever dated or married–and there have been a lot–I know that one day I will find someone I love just as much or more, and who will love me the same. Right now is time to focus on me. On learning and growing. School. Spirituality.

I know this post is all over the place, and I want to write more, but I haven’t even started packing, and I don’t want it to be dark out by the time I get to the middle of nowhere western North Carolina tonight. Everyone on this side of the country seems to be driving to South Carolina today so traffic will probably be heavy.

I just want to say one last thing. It’s significant to me that my mom died a year ago tomorrow, the day of the solar eclipse. What a powerful time for the one-year anniversary of her death. Not that her death is anything to be celebrated, but rather, her life is. Rest in peace, Mom. You’ll be forever loved.

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The Meaning of Life and Other Light Topics, Like Death

Where do you go when you die?

A week or so ago I had a dream that someone held a gun to my head, and in that moment I knew death was inevitable, so I just closed my eyes and said, Go ahead and do it. I don’t remember feeling fear so much as feeling that whatever was about to happen next was simply inevitable. After that I remember a feeling of flying out of my body and being nothing but mind, or spirit, or whatever you want to call the stuff that is you which is not physical.

I believe that dreams are a doorway into the subconscious or the soul. Somewhere deep down we know things we can’t always easily access. This dream for me is about transformation. Growth and rebirth. On some level while the transformation is happening we know it but we don’t always feel it, not right away. It’s not until one day I realize that I no longer think about that obsession that used to haunt me. Or I find that I no longer react or feel a certain way in certain situations.

Change can be terrifying. At the time it can be scary leaving the comfort of the known reality we’ve been living in, even when that reality was no longer the direction in which we needed to grow.

Often I wonder where my mom’s soul is. Where her mind is, her thoughts. Her face is so clear to me in my mind’s eye. The memory of her is so fresh, how smooth her skin was the last time she kissed me good night. I can hear her words in my head. I remember the scent of the perfume she wore when I was a child, perfume that she hadn’t worn in years. Is she now in some kind of parallel universe, what some might call Heaven, is she aware of what’s going on in this world now? Was I in some other world prior to this, and now have no memory of it? Sometimes I have random dreams about faraway places, and sometimes I dream that I am some other person, or a mere observer inside someone else’s life, and I wonder, Is that my mind making that up, or is that a memory of a previous life? Is it symbolic of not being an active participant in my life, or a scrambling of the brain to show me a story like a movie, or something else?

I’m okay with not knowing the answer, and making a choice to believe what I want about it, with the knowledge that I don’t really know. My belief is that she’s an angel, she’s always with me, and we’ll be together again one day. It’s a comforting thought that brings me serenity. Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure, not without dying, and I appreciate my life too much to do that to myself on purpose. That will happen anyway one day; I’ll get the answer soon enough.

The last time I kissed Mom, the last time when she was still conscious, it was late, for me, and we’d stayed up watching the Olympics. We’re not a kissy-kissy family—usually we just hug, but for some reason that last time, I’d walked over to her and kissed her cheek, and she kissed mine. She’d been sitting in her chair wrapped up in her blanket and she’d looked so tired, but determined to stay up and watch the Olympics. Earlier I’d asked, How does everyone remember Usain Bolt? When everyone cheered him on, because I barely remember yesterday, let alone the Olympics four years ago, though admittedly I never watch the Olympics. She told me how he’d been a gold medal winner for the past eight years. She’s always knew what was going on, in the news, in sports, in her community. She paid attention. She paid close attention to what was going on in the news, and she read books of all kinds: books about politics, current events, historical fiction, science fiction, nonfiction, just plain old fiction. Over the year or two prior to her death I’d catch up on the news before seeing her so that I’d have a clue what she was talking about because I spent most of my life under a rock of self-absorption. The Thanksgiving before she died we all spent together, her, my sisters, and me: “The Girls.” I’d caught up on the news which I’d tried to do anyway but to me at the time it was usually either way too stressful or else just plain boring, so I got the basics and went down to my sister’s in Virginia where she and her husband and kids lived at the time. My other sister and Mom came to visit from North Carolina, and just before the meal someone decided we should each talk about something we were grateful for. Mostly we were grateful to have that time spent all of us together, since it was rare now that we live in different states. And the talk about politics began, and I stayed silent for the most part. I agree with their viewpoints, so what’s the use in preaching to the choir? Everything would be fine in the election, no way would the world—my world, anyway—ever go crazy in my lifetime, so who cares?

The next morning Mom was getting ready for the day, fixing her hair in the bathroom, and I came in to talk to her, and somehow we landed on the topic of conversation itself.

“What do you like to talk about?” she’d asked me, since she knew I wasn’t big on talking politics, or much of anything else.

The meaning of life, I would say now, without hesitation, and it was the thought that popped into my head then, but for some reason didn’t seem appropriate. It felt like the wrong answer, something she’d laugh at and say, Oh, is that all. At the time I hesitated more before speaking than I do now. Now I’m becoming more like, This is what I think and if you don’t like it, oh well. I’m not 100% there but well on my way, finally, to not worrying as much about others’ reactions. For the record, Mom would be happy to discuss the meaning of life, so why I’d hesitate has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

Instead I answered this: “I don’t know, just random, obscure things, like what they talk about on Radiolab,” I’d replied. Radiolab is my favorite NPR radio show similar to This American Life but better, in my opinion.

“The esoteric,” she’d replied.

I’d told her about how my ex’s brother believed humans were created by aliens and that our lives were a video game just for their entertainment, and what a fascinating belief that was to me. At the time I couldn’t articulate much beyond that why it was so fascinating to me other than to say that the brother clearly is insane, but at the same time who am I to say someone else is insane just because they believe something different from me? If everyone in our culture held that belief, or even just a percentage of us, it might not seem so odd. Don’t all religions have their own creation myths? And how can I know for sure that we weren’t created by aliens for their entertainment? I have no idea who created us or why. These are all things I would say to her now, and can still say to her, am saying to her now with these words on this screen. I choose to believe she’s reading this, or hears what’s in my head, that she’s proud of the woman I’ve become. And by the way she’d be happy to see that I’m someone who today devours the news because this shit is crazy, and I can’t wait until the movie on all this comes out, but I’m still not someone to argue with others about what’s going on, who does what, or why. I do like to think about how all this is going to end, but no one ever thinks it will be in our lifetimes, because even though we know on some level life as we know it inevitably must come to an end, we can’t really comprehend it. Most people don’t like to talk about it.

Most people don’t like to talk about death, and when I bring up my mother, if they haven’t experienced death of a close, loved one, I sense that they want me to stop talking, but I don’t. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say, like how I was before Mom died. We are afraid of death, of everything about it. To talk about it seems morbid. People who haven’t experienced it themselves seem to think maybe it’s too painful for me to discuss, or it may seem that I’m obsessed with her or death in general. But it’s not that, and I don’t feel hopeless or depressed about it. Rather, it’s my way of acknowledging Mom’s life and the impact she made on me. When I tell my classmates to watch their blood pressure or post an article on Facebook about how importance of quitting smoking, it’s not to preach or wallow in regret about how or why Mom died, but to learn from her death and try to illuminate to others on how they might live a longer, healthier life. Responses range from fear about dying, and how they might prolong their own lives, or I may get a comment about how when your time comes, it comes, and if smoking doesn’t give me cancer, something else will because we can’t live in a bubble. I agree with both, and still find both responses amusing. No, you cannot avoid death, but yes, you can make choices to limit your chances of dying a slow, painful death of suffering. Most importantly, we can make choices to feel good in a healthy way today. Because today is all you got.

purpose

I want to find some newer songs to post, and not those that are 10+ years old, but these are the ones that pop into my head… My favorite verse is this: “I want life in every word / to the extent that it’s absurd.” As a side note, I like how the person who made this video (aka 3BeStillMyHeart3) calls it another of her (or his or their) “pooey” videos simply because I like the use of the word “pooey,” though I wish this person wouldn’t be so self-deprecating. I can relate to how this person feels. Maybe she needs to join CODA. Just saying.

Something Better’s In Store

Last night I dreamt that there was a chance Mom was going to survive her stroke, wake up and be herself again, alive and recovered. We were in North Carolina, where she lived, and she’d had the stroke and was on life support, just like what happened in real life, except we kept her on life support for several days instead of the 24 hours she had a machine breathing for her just so my sisters and I could get there to say our goodbyes. I’d made a Facebook post about what had happened, and then a few days later the doctors said it looked like she might make a remarkable, miraculous recovery. I debated posting a Facebook request for prayers, because I believe in the power of prayer and felt that if I could get enough people to pray maybe she would make it. I myself prayed really hard, and thought of all the things I’d say to her once she made it through, how much I loved her and saw her as a wonderful role model. At some point I got confused, because I remembered the reality that we’d taken her off life support, that she had not made it. Or maybe I’d woken up by that time, I don’t remember. The belief that she might live and I could tell her how I felt was so real.

My ex’s birthday is around this time of year.

I can’t begin to tell you how much it pisses me off that he abandoned me just a few months after my mother died.

Who does that?

Maybe a lot of people.

Father’s Day is also coming up, and I have a lot of unresolved anger towards my dad for being Stonewall, ie, emotionally unavailable. He loves Stonewall Jackson so it seems an appropriate nickname. Still, it’s like being angry with someone for them being who they are. They cannot help it. It’s a futile resentment.

And then Steven is a dad, and I felt like I took a backseat to his kids at times, which is part of why we broke up. Most of the time it didn’t bother me, or rather, I told myself it didn’t, and I didn’t complain about his choice to spend holidays with them, because I don’t really care about holidays anyway. It would’ve been nice to have him around but I would survive. A little piece of my heart felt sad that he couldn’t be around my family when I went to visit them, holidays or not, because if he wasn’t in the right mood I didn’t want to ask, and I wouldn’t have wanted him around during those times anyway. I never introduced him to my mom because I wanted him to be in the right mood when he met her, because I knew she wouldn’t like him if she saw him in a depressive or hypomanic state, unless she’d already met him when he was even-keeled, or mildly manic. But even then, it’s hard to say. She was good at reading people, and she had no problem changing her mind about someone, especially if they hurt me.

Something I heard from a friend last night about how to approach life struck me. When we ask for something of the universe (or multiverse, really, or God or a higher power, whatever word you choose), only three options exist: 1) yes, you can have whatever it is you want right now, 2) not yet, or 3) there’s something better in store for you.

Number 3 really struck me. Though it doesn’t allow a person to live in the moment, it gives hope for a better future. I would add to it that if times are hard right now, just think of what can be learned from this situation right now. For example, why am I attracting a particular kind of person in my life today? And if the relationship is not what I think I want, what is it I’m sending out into the universe that’s bringing this back to me, and what can I learn from this? Maybe I’m thinking I will settle for whatever or whoever comes my way. I might be thinking, Oh, it’s okay if that person doesn’t text me good night or respond to my texts, when I know in my heart I like someone who communicates their interest in me. So that’s a red flag. I get to choose how I live my life and who I spend my time with. I do not have to spend my time with someone who takes me for granted.

On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of time for a boyfriend, so this helps me be more independent. Nothing wrong with Mr. Right Now. In that case, I can ask myself what is to be learned from this. Maybe it’s just that I have the choice. I have power and freedom to choose how to forge ahead in this life. While I have no control over what others say or do, I do have control over what I say and do. And this is what I’m doing right now.

Mostly it just makes me think of how I miss my ex.

But then I have to remember how strongly his moods affected me, how much he hurt me, how hard I tried to keep the relationship together to no avail. There’s something better in store for me.

What can I learn from this right now?

Well, everything I just wrote, for example. And that I get to spend time on studying, on changing my career, on learning who and what I want to be and how I want to live this life. Once I get through school I may have a different attitude towards who and what I want. It’s nice to have a companion in the meantime. Maybe he’s not pledging his undying love for me, but I’m not exactly pledging mine to him either. No other person can be my higher power.

The main thing is not to have someone machine-gun-text me all day or ask when they can see me again and certainly not to feel ignored or taken for granted, and definitely not for me to rearrange my schedule around theirs. What’s really important is, Do I feel safe and secure in this relationship? Does this person communicate through words and actions that he’s committed to the relationship, and do I trust that? That’s the ideal situation. Then I can feel comfortable doing what I need to do in order to grow, and they can do the same, without us being up each other’s asses all the time. I need my own life, and they need theirs.

Next week I’m driving the big-rig back to North Carolina, sadly. I hate to see her go but I’ve got to get my little Honda Civic back—a faithful and trusty car who deserves her own blog post—and I need to get back to Maryland to focus on my school work. I’m learning about vitamins and minerals this semester. I had to drop my herbalism class, and I dropped my fermented foods cooking class because I just cannot take it all on while working a full-time job and taking time for self-care (which is a necessity, btw). Maybe it will take me longer than a year and that will be okay. I’d hoped to finish asap so that I can make more money and get my own place, but the world seems to have something different in store for me.

Happiness can’t be found in making more money or getting one’s own home. True happiness is finding meaning in life today. That’s another thing I learned from someone who was quoting from a Max Strom book. In spite of the hardships I’ve faced in the last nine months, and in spite of what a downer this post might seem to be, I can honestly say I’m pretty darn happy with my life today.

I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received. When I think of the heartache I’ve been through in recent months, I must remember that God has a bigger, better plan in store for me. Something much better is on the way, maybe even just around the corner. Maybe even right in front of my face.

Whatever the case, there’s something better in store for me.

Here’s a really good codependent song for those of us who feel like we need someone, because we don’t yet realize we don’t really need anyone but a higher power and our own self-love:

 

Just Be Yourself

Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been listening to a lot of Neko Case’s music lately, which I used to listen to years ago when I lived in Atlanta, in a big house with a garden tub in an expansive bathroom that was bigger than my bedroom now. That’s because, like Texas, everything is bigger in Georgia, and much cheaper than Maryland, and also I made a lot more money back then. I was rich, really. I don’t even remember how much money I made at the time. Maybe 65 grand a year. But I wouldn’t have told you I was rich. I’d have told you I was in so much debt, because I was, and I had so many bills, that I couldn’t make it on my own, blah blah yada yada, poor me. But you better believe I got my nails done every week, and I bought myself nice clothes, and I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on alcohol. I calculated that it must’ve been somewhere around a thousand dollars a month, when you factor in all the nights I went out to eat (and drink), and I have no idea how I managed to scrape up that kind of extra money, except that it wasn’t all my money, especially in my first marriage, when it was in fact mostly his money. And no, I couldn’t have lived in that house alone, but I absolutely could’ve had roommates or probably even my own studio apartment. But at the time I didn’t believe that. And that’s what matters.

Today I make about $23,000 a year, which is not a lot in the US—it’s barely more than a thousand a month. But my bills are also significantly lower, and I live off my student loans, which I’ll be paying off for decades, possibly until I die, which is worth it to me. It will be like a house payment. I’m investing in my future and I absolutely do not regret it one bit. And just about everyone in America has debt. It’s the American way. My plan is to live a simple life and enjoy what I do every day—working to live, instead of living to work.

But I digress. What I wanted to write about was how much this song reminds me of my first marriage.

Someone told me a while back that sometimes when we grieve the loss of one person, we grieve all our losses before then, especially if we didn’t properly grieve for them at the time. My first husband, who I’ll call Ryan, really loved me. And I played games with him. I would ignore him and play hard to get so that he’d chase me even harder, and it worked. I did and said the meanest things I could come up with to see how far I could take it, to see if he’d stay with me, and he did. The only thing that could make him leave me was if I cheated on him, he’d told me, so finally I cheated on him, and he changed his mind. He said he was willing to try to work it out. But by that time I’d fallen for another guy, who became my second husband.

When Ryan and I got engaged I knew in my heart I didn’t want it, but I was nearing 30, and thought I was getting old (hahaha!), and that if I wanted to have kids I should probably go ahead and get started. Funny thing is, I didn’t really want kids. What I really wanted was to love someone, because I felt incapable. And I was at the time. I couldn’t even love myself. Yet everything was about me, and how I’m going to get mine. And at the time I bumbled along doing whatever landed in front of me, because I did not know what else to do, or rather, how to do it. How to follow your heart? Fear of failure drove me.

It’s hard not to feel bad today for how I treated Ryan. In many ways I treated him the way Steven treats me now, except that Steven doesn’t get drunk and throw things at me or punch my arm and verbally abuse me. So yeah, pretty different (lol), but similar in that he’s self-centered and self-loathing.

And if you’re feeling sorry for Ryan, don’t. He’s a good-looking guy who owns his own business and lives in a $750,000 house and he drives a BMW and of course he has a girlfriend. Not that those things are what make a person happy—they certainly wouldn’t make me happy, but what I’m getting at is that he gets what he wants. He has two dogs who he loves and I’m sure he has no problem attracting women. Probably young gorgeous women happy to jump in bed with a good-looking rich dude.

That just sounds so depressing to me though. I need meaning in my life. Ryan could really use God in his life. When I would talk about how I needed to quit drinking, he’d say, You don’t need to quit. Just cut back. And don’t go to AA with all those religious Jesus freaks.

What is the point of this blog post?

Really just thinking about how now I know what it’s like to get my heart broken, the way I broke Ryan’s heart. All the money in the world really doesn’t matter if you can’t spend it with or on someone you love. Relationships, cars, houses, none of that matters without true love. I do hope Ryan is happy today. He’s not one who delved deep into the meaning of life the way I like to, so I believe he is happy. Different strokes for different folks. I can say he needs God, but it’s not up to me to say he needs God or a higher power. The important thing for me to remember is that I need God. If I didn’t have faith in God, the Universe, Buddha, a power greater than myself, whatever you want to call it, I would not be here today. I would have committed suicide or drank and drugged myself to death.

Which reminds me of another gorgeous song by Neko Case:

I don’t know why the universe or multiverse is here, or why I am here, just that I am. And I want to live this life the best way I know how while I’m here. And I am so grateful for my life today, even though Steven broke my heart, and even though Mom died suddenly without me getting a chance to tell her how much I love her, and that I am not resentful at her for growing up with my sisters and me instead of beforehand. Hey, some parents never grow up. So you did pretty darn good, Ma.

I’m on my way in a couple hours to Mom’s house now so I guess this is all weighing heavily on me right now. I want to write so much more, like about how I was raised by a pack of wild, self-absorbed teenagers, at least three of whom turned out to be angels who I’m so grateful to have in my life (my mom and my sisters), but I’ve got to get ready for this nine-hour drive, and I’m the kind of girl who likes to pack everything I own, just in case. You never know how you’ll feel that day, right?

I apologize if this was a tearjerker of a post. I mean, I know I was crying there for a minute, but I never know how it comes across to my readers. I will try to be funnier in the next one but I can’t make any promises. It’s hard to try to be funny. You have to just do it. You have to just be yourself.

Peace and love,

TCH