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Archive for the ‘and other uncomfortable topics’ Category

Another way to live

In and other uncomfortable topics, Friendship, home, Lawyer Problems, Uncategorized on May 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Some of my readers may know that I have three blogs: one for personal stuff, one for business/professional stuff, and one for makeup stuff.

That actually does not make sense.

At one point in my life, I was doing these three things separately and trying to juggle all of these different aspects of my life: my personal struggles, my growing knowledge of the legal entrepreneurism, and my love for color.

But, I’m all one person. All of those aspects are pieces of one thing. So, I’m combining my blogs into one blog. It’s foolish to believe that my clients, my colleagues, my family, and my friends, and absolute strangers won’t somehow find out about my other pieces–particularly in this uber-linked-to-each-other’s-faces era.

My life is chaotic, and I’m done attempting to make it look otherwise.

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Sifting through Suicidal Thoughts

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

First, I have to say that suicidal ideation is not a laughing matter. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please be kind to yourself and do not pressure yourself to do anything suddenly. You do, however, need to seek professional assistance. I am not a doctor or medical professional (they won’t even let me play one on TV). If you are in a crisis situation, you should go to a safe space and call 911. There are trained professionals available to talk at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

What I say below is not the result of science, and it is not an organized therapy plan. What I say below is simply a collection of anecdotes and thoughts.

I have experienced suicidal thoughts several times in my life. The sad thing is that people rarely talk about suicidal ideation, and focus instead on the aftermath of suicide itself: the loss, the sadness, the grief. Talking about suicidal thoughts is a particularly stripping, bleaching, burning, vulnerable experience. I know that former and potential future supervisors might read this; former students and parents of students; family members; friends. All of those people might read this.

But, some of those people are likely experiencing suicidal thoughts right now and have no idea where to turn or what to do. Thankfully, I have lived through all of my bouts with suicidal thoughts–and I anticipate being able to make it through any future bouts.

1. When I am in that PLACE, I feel lost and disoriented.

I always remind myself that I have been in this PLACE before. That’s what it is: an emotional and mental location. Just like any other location, I took a path to get to that PLACE and, maybe, retracing my steps will take me away from that location.

Can you go back the way you came? Can you look at each emotional road marker that got you there and realize that the opposite could be equally true? If you can do that, maybe you get away from that PLACE.

2. Often, I get to that PLACE because I am involved in a tough life problem and I cannot see a way to solve that problem. The more I cannot see a way to solve the problem, the large the problem seems, and the harder it seems to solve. Then, I begin to think that if I cannot solve this problem, my life and myself will be a disappointment.

And, the sad thing is that there are some people in the world who will focus on your failures, your weaknesses, and your disappointing moments more than your triumphs, your strengths, and your everyday average glories. Those people are assholes. For some reason, seeing you alive and striving for peace and balance really pisses them off.

Your life is not a scale in which you must outweigh each failure with two triumphs. I have no empirical proof, but life just does not work that way.

3. Sometimes, I get to that PLACE because the criticisms of others have soaked into me and become a constant inner banter of negative talk.

I find it odd that I never play the positive words of others on loop in my brain. I have to remind myself of the positive words that others have spoken to me. Perhaps that is because critical people are more likely to talk (far too much). Perhaps that is because I am wired to best remember negativity. A more likely answer is that I am giving space and power to people who do not deserve either in my life.

Begin to exercise power in your life by resolving to live tomorrow with the purpose of pushing those people into a menial and small place in your life.

4. While I am in that PLACE, I feel silenced and ostracized.

I have to remind myself that there are people who will truly listen and empathize.

When I was in law school, I was a part of an amazing therapy group. Obviously, group therapy means that everyone comes with the expectation of having to listen and empathize and share and feel. But, these people showed me that there are people who want to help and listen and feel and share. But, I have to make the effort to share and be open.

I urge you to reach out. Your hurts are just as serious and critical as knife wounds. Hearing another voice or seeing another face may help you to contextualize what you are feeling. You may not, through one conversation or meeting or call, find a solution to what is hurting you. But, you may recover a spark of hope that can get you through the next minute; the next hour; the next 2 hours; and, on until tomorrow.

Remember, there are assholes out in the world. Please don’t be swayed by the thoughtless words of some jerk. Keep pushing until you find a safe person to talk to. You are not alone. Maybe I have not been exactly where you are, but I have been somewhere similar.

5. I often get to that PLACE because my mind is racing and attempting to tackle the challenges of other days, weeks, and months.

Take it moment by moment. You don’t need to solve the entire problem right now. Focus on solving the next minute right now. This may sound discouraging, but each minute presents its own small challenge(s) that you can overcome.

When I am in that PLACE, looking ahead to the future is not usually helpful because of how powerless I feel and how unlikely a bright future seems.

6. Try to be powerful–even in small ways. Dialing that hotline number is a way to be powerful. Making a doctor’s appointment is a way to be powerful. Being insistent about getting help is a way to be powerful. Getting up to go sit at Starbuck’s so you can be around other people is a way to be powerful.

I made it, and I am in no way remarkable. You can make it, too. Your life is worth living. Please leave that PLACE.

The truth about cold turkey…..

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Somewhat disjointed rant... on March 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I have heard, read, and believed how tough it is to quit nearly anything cold turkey: smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating meat, consuming sugar. So, somehow, when my doctor was irritatingly dismissive of my desire to refill my prescription of fluoxetine (that’s Prozac for all of you completely sane people out there), I went on an “I’ll show you” rampage and decided to quit the med cold turkey.

Only belatedly did I discover all of the sites where the phrase DON’T QUIT MEDS COLD TURKEY dances across the screen in neon yellow. So, apparently, what I went through is a rare experience since most people DON’T QUIT MEDS COLD TURKEY. Of course, my experience in the cold turkey rabbit hole is unique and others will likely have a radically different experience. My last dose was at the end of December 2013.

Here’s what I learned:
1. Some anti-depressants can have long half-lives. This means it could take days or weeks for the meds to work their way out of your system. What this means: when you wake up feeling great 6 days after taking the previous dose, this does not mean you are done and that you have made it to the mountaintop. If your doctor is at all professional and competent, your doctor will know alllllll about this.

2. Be adamant. Be very adamant about what you are looking for in terms of mental health. The key word is YOU. Not Uncle Hobart; Not Aunt Matilda; Not the Dowager Countess; Not dear old grand-dame; Not Marty McFly. There may be people in your life who are (and will likely always be) disapproving of you taking meds; there may be people in your life who believe everyone is neurotic and in need of meds; there may be others still who believe you are not strong enough to go off of meds; there may be even another group who believes that you are Zena Warrior Princess or Highlander and never needed meds; there will be people who prescribe vegetarianism, veganism, exercise, laughter, sex, meditation, or prayer as the non-med cure for what mentally ails you.

Again, be adamant about what your wants, needs, and current place in life mentally and emotionally.

Here’s what I experienced:
1. Nausea. Not the sort of hard core nausea that I experience as a result of motion sickness or during my cycle. This nausea was a dulled and prolonged sense of disequilibrium. This began about two weeks after my last dose and ceased about two weeks ago.
2. Shift in eating patterns. Previously, I would sometimes wake up and grab a midnight snack. Lately, I have experienced hunger pains at night that sometimes wake me up.
3. Dizziness. Making a quick 180 degree turn would leave me feeling wobbly. It would then take me a moment to collect myself. This started about two weeks after my last dose, but ceased about two weeks ago.
4. A definite shift in my self view. I’m a lawyer, so I don’t necessarily have a small ego. But, my sense of self-efficacy and self-assuredness has definitely become a bit more fragile. Also, libido. Down. That’s all I have to say about that.

Here is what I would do differently:
1. I wish that I had kept a diary, so that I could relate my experiences to a counselor or doctor.
2. I wish that I had gotten a second opinion or simply fired my doctor in favor of someone with compassion and patience for mental health issues.
3. I wish that I had engaged a counselor before doing this cold turkey. The fact of the matter is that no matter how much another one promises to be there for you during the time you are kicking the meds: no one is going to be able to handle the numerous small changes and large obstacles that are in your way. It’s not fair to turn a civilian into your makeshift professional counselor. This means that I’ve toughed out a lot of struggles quietly on my own.

No, I’m not watching the Academy Awards

In and other uncomfortable topics, Examining my tears #ExMT, Race, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on March 3, 2014 at 3:00 am

This is one of those posts that, the writing of it, takes a sigh and the publishing of it takes another. I have immense self-doubt even as I write this. Also, I have hood-winked you. This post is only slightly about the Oscars, and a lot about my own confrontations with and misunderstandings of color.

I am an American, and steeped in the hypocritical psuedo-democratic, but at the same time grandiose and hopeful, rhetoric and culture of this place. And, like so many other Americans who are aware of this Oscar season, I found heart-breaking the words of Lupita Nyong’o as she accepted an award at Essence’s Black Women of Hollywood luncheon. As a child, she prayed to God to “wake up lighter-skinned.” That prayer embodies years of negative comments to Ms. Nyong’o; years of not being told she was beautiful period; hundred of years of subjugating and objectifying and brutalizing darker women; colonialism; the slave trade; religious teachings about the evil and depravity of darker people.

Those things set up a hierarchy, embodied in the old (though not so old) Southern U.S. saying: “If you’re white, you’re right; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re black, get back.” But, as I am typing this, I am looking at my fingers and realize that I might be scoffed at for joining in this conversation. I’m in an outsider position and, for years, I was told as much: “You don’t have Black girl hair”; “you’re best feature is your light skin”; “you get handed things because you’re light.”

I say “for years” because I now actively refuse to participate in color conversations because no matter what someone always gets hurt and because I am not an outsider. I am an insider. I am an inside witness to what the still-working system of subjugation does to darker people of all hues.

That system–and all of us who participate in it–defines darker as ugly; if not ugly, then less than; if not less than, then different; if not different, then exotic; if not exotic, then not *quite* White. Darker is never allowed to be, to live, to exist as an unremarkable part of daily life. We all have the daily opportunity to see beautiful people of every color. Whether we choose to seize that opportunity is another thing; whether we choose to wholly acknowledge that beauty is another thing.

In plain language, Morris Chestnut is not a beautiful brown man. That is not wholly appreciating beauty. No, he is a beautiful man. Jesse Williams is not a beautiful “mixed guy.” No, he is a beautiful man. And, most importantly, the two do not stand as representations of polar opposites of each other. Ms. Nyong’o deserves all of the accolades and attention for her acting chops and her beauty. But, it makes me a little sad that, in some of the writing about Ms. Nyong’o, “lighter” actresses are getting thrown under the bus as examples of what’s wrong with Hollywood.

The hard part–and the part that sometimes makes me feel hopeless–is that there is no real way out of the system. The fact of the matter is that women who look like Lupita Nyong’o and Grace Jones and Iman and Viola Davis are often either told they are ugly or not told they are beautiful and these same women deserve to be smothered with love and appreciation and admiration because they were beautiful all along; the fact of the matter is that Halle Berry and Paula Patton and Zoe Saldana are very popular actresses and not always because of talent alone. Is there a way to reconcile all of that? Is there a way to love and appreciate and admire one without pointing out the fault in the other?

And, the point of the whole thing is money made by selling images and films and tickets. It seems that the better the system works at making someone feel ugly, the more likely that person is to pay good money to see someone who looks like them who is beautiful. So, the system wins in the end anyway, and in the end we all end up distracted from the fact that minority communities (and I don’t just mean Black folks and racial/ethnic communities) are underrepresented anyway and all the damage caused by that can’t be fixed by a couple of magazine covers, a television show, and a few awards.

So, no. I’m not watching the Academy Awards–despite the fact that I think Ellen DeGeneres is hilarious. I’m no longer sure that I can trust what I am watching. I am no longer sure of where the system ends and true admiration and healing begin.

Here goes: sigh.

Remember that day Jesus skipped to the cross?

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 7, 2014 at 3:18 am

In the end, I suppose that there is a self-centered reason for me writing this piece. I am not always happy. Not always. Some hurts take a deep root and are difficult to snuff out. I shed my tears. But, I believe that I have necessary things to learn from the hurt. And there are few things that anger me more than someone trying to cut short my healing process. That process is important. It cannot be circumvented; sometimes, it cannot even be shortened. It starts low, and it ends in balance and strength. Most of all: nothing can be earned from avoiding or denying the healing process.

But, there are a few key phrases that Christians, myself included, love to drop when we are faced with a person who is sad because of, despairing over, or agonizing with something in life:
1. “Count it all joy”
2. “Rejoice”
3. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Stop. Please for the love of peanuts, stop it. Jesus did not skip to the cross. He did not sing songs while He was whipped. The day before He was crucified was not a last grand bro-fest with the disciples.

Instead, He had (what sounds to me) a rather sad supper (seeing as how He had to tell His disciples that one of them would betray Him and Peter would deny Him) with the 12 men who had been closest to him, broke bread, drank wine (see Matthew 26: 17-35). Then, Matthew 26:38 tells us that Jesus told His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful . . . ” Mark 14:36 says that Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” Luke 22:44 says that “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” After being arrested, He was beaten, spit upon, and pierced with thorns. Then, either Simon of Cyrene was made to carry the cross of Jesus (as it says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or Jesus carried His own cross (as it says in John 19:17) to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified.

It sounds sad, agonizing, dramatic. Jesus was marching to His own death. He was not skipping. He was not shaking hands and kissing babies and tuning his guitar. He was not repeating “I’ll soon be in Heaven” like a mantra passcode to better times. He did not look down from the height of the cross with a wink and smile. Jesus went through a process that began thick with agony, despair, and sadness. But, the process ended with Him glorified as the Son of God, the Risen Savior, and one of the most compelling (if sometimes elusive) figures in history.

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters, never forget that someone’s healing process is not an affront to God. Someone’s hurts do not indicate a lack of faith. Sadness is not a sin. When Jesus preached to others about the process and ordeal He would go through in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Him and said it would never happen. But, Matthew 16:23 relates that Jesus turned to Peter and said something often quoted, but rarely contextualized: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I know you don’t mean to be, but when you tell a person who is going through his own ordeals to act happy (or “rejoice” as we Christians like to say), you may indeed be casting yourself down as a stumbling block to him by convincing him that sadness and agony are evil even as God tries to bring him through to a place of strength. As humans, we dislike negativity and sadness. But, sometimes: those things are vital.

Simply put: if we are Christians and if we do believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, what was good enough for Christ is good enough for us. We will have despair, sadness, agony, and sacrifice.

Of course, in closing I have to leave you with the required (but, appropriate) words of Jesus at John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”

After the suicide attempt…

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

[Note after writing: I am pressing publish with a deep sigh.]

In a couple of months, it will be almost exactly ten years ago that I attempted suicide during my senior year of college. I suppose I fit the stereotypical cliche that my attempt was a cry for help. I took a handful of random, but not very menacing, painkillers. I admitted what I had done to three of my friends and spent the next 72 hours in the behavior disorder ward of a nearby hospital.

It would be really great and deeply gratifying to say that I emerged from that ward a changed person; a butterfly from the chrysalis. But, I remember that ward as being scary as all hell and hardly an environment that nurtures change. I emerged tired, hungry, and fragile.

Thus began a long journey, a slow battle of the bulge, a crawl, a marathon. To be honest, I did not then and I do not now really know what the end point of the journey is but I remember full well what the starting point was. So, the journey has been to put as much space as possible between myself and that starting point. Some days I feel like the theme song from _Chariots Afire_ is playing every where I go. Some days are just days.

I have found out that there are many people on the same journey, and that many of us on the journey do not want to talk about THE JOURNEY because people can be cruel and abusive and manipulative. Simply by writing this post, I am aware that someone may read this and think that I am weak, weird, or crazy. But, I know there is someone at the same point that I was 10 years ago; some days I feel like I’m back at that same point.

But, I remind myself…..

1. That this life is entrusted to me and me alone. Apparently, God thought I was good enough to handle it. When the criticisms of others burrow so far into me that they become my own criticisms of myself, I remind myself that this life is mine. Despite what anyone thinks or believes, my life is not at anyone’s disposal. My life was not created to be firewood for someone else’s life.

2. That I am not disappointment, or saddness, or tragedy, or anger. Oh, I will disappoint others, sadden others, and anger others. But, that effect does not define who I am.

3. That I am flawed because I am me. That’s the way life works. But….

4. That flaws are sometimes simply misunderstood limitations. For instance, I can be overly emotionally sensitive. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. But, I choose to look at it as a limitation in one sense and a characteristic in another. I would not make a particularly good surgeon (one really doesn’t want a surgeon who melts into a puddle when one is on the table and things start going wrong). But, I do make a good listener. So, really: is it a flaw or is it a strength?

5. That I must be cautious around those who want to force me to see my limitations and characteristics as flaws. I mean, I could spend a lot of time trying to become less emotionally sensitive. I could spend a lot of time trying to “fix” that “flaw” if I surrounded myself with people who “encouraged” me toward that “goal.” I do admit: I have had to harness my strengths, limitations, and characteristics to work for me rather than allowing them to master me.

6. That I must dig deep when confronted with anyone who believes that I am worth less because I have attempted suicide. I have learned the hard way that such a person often wants to use me as a stepping stool for his/her own ego. Such a person often wants to make me his/her do-it-yourself fixer upper. A close relationship with such a person will usually force me to constantly remind myself of #1 and #4.

7. That the world, for a number of reasons, is a messed up place that labels normal people as crazy. One of the strongest impressions of the behavior disorder ward that I carry with me to this day (and that, to this day, will bring tears to my eyes) is that most of the people inside that ward were not crazy. We were people who were some combination of quiet, shy, sensitive, hurt and healing slowly, or sad in a world that values talking, outgoing, brash, devil-may-care bravado. Back then, I felt that I was lost on a journey that so many other people were making quite easily. Little did I know that many, many people were not only as lost as I, but also in denial.

8. That nothing is ever gained by lying to myself about who, what, and where I am. As I become ever more accustomed to being true to myself, it is easier to be truthful with others, and miraculously others have been beautifully truthful with me. As alone as I sometimes feel, there are others lost and blundering in the dark, too. We just need to play Marco Polo to find each other.

9. That Jesus is not disappointed in me for my attempt. How ugly, how truly ugly a thing it is to tell a hurting person that she’s let down the One in whom she believes. And, I was told that. And, it hurt. But, it is not true. If God is God, then I must believe that He knew my limitations and my strengths far ahead of me. He did not send His only Son to die for a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls who have their stuff together. Where is the grace and mercy in that?

10. That somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, slowly: things do get better. I do eventually untie the knots, work out the puzzles, clean up the messes, and learn the lessons. Life may not pick up at the same thread, but life does continue. Laughter returns. Smiles return. In the end, there is no darkness that can wipe out the light. That is the great thing about light. One small spark is enough sometimes. And, sometimes, a Youtube puppy video can provide that spark.

Stages of returning to crazy

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on January 12, 2014 at 4:35 am

I’ve been arguing with myself about blogging this topic. Too private? Too personal? Ultimately, in the spirit of an Agnes Scott College alum with a political science degree who took many classes with Dr. Allende, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Cochran: I realized that the personal is, in fact, political and that politics is merely the organized exercise of power and, therefore, a true exercise of power is to discuss the personal.

I’m about to share something very personal.

The thing about me being a professional woman is that I feel that I have to hide the personal in order to be professional because the things that are personal about me can easily be seen as weaknesses and those weaknesses could be seen as incompetence and that incompetence could affect the amount of business I get and that chokes my bottom line.

I’m about to share something very personal. If you read all of this and then think that I’m weak and incompetent: come at me. I can pull myself together in 60 seconds or far less. Insert further bravado.

A very competent psychiatrist prescribed me anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication not so very long ago. In my lifetime, I’ve been through a few of these meds, but I have never had a doctor as patient and perceptive as this gentleman. He listened, and helped me find a medication that actually helped me pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to business. Unfortunately, I had to stop seeing this great psychiatrist because of the type of practice he has. But, our closing appointment left me pretty confident that I could continue on the positive trajectory.

And, it took one nincompoop (is that how you spell it? Regardless, you know what I mean) a mere thirty minutes to destroy all of that. The doctor that I went to after Dr. Competent (like, THAT could literally be his name and no one would laugh) was somewhat less efficient. This doctor simply prescribed me whatever I told her Dr. Competent had prescribed me with no questions asked this past September. In December, I was running out and had to go back for authorization. After waiting for an hour to see her for the authorization, she walks in; introduces the med school student who is shadowing her; and, promptly says, “so when are you coming off of these meds. You should be ready. I don’t think you have that much stress going on right now.”

She had some madcap scheme for tapering me off the meds that was not at all measured or planned. In the moments, days, and weeks since that moment sitting on her exam table/couch/chair (what is that thing?), I have found out that there are stages of coming off meds. I’m sure these stages are different for everyone, but here are mine. I go back and forth through these.

1. Bravado. “Felt like crap leaving her office” was the positive tag line to how I felt. I cried. Then, I dried my tears and immediately decided to go cold turkey off the meds. Taper me? Taper THIS! You don’t know me. This world can’t handle me off meds. The meds are for YOUR protection.

2. Elation. Making a big decision like that in the face of such negative talk from a doctor was empowering. Granted, I probably had some remnant meds in my system…….but, I was functional. I was waking up, getting up, getting dressed, handling business. And, all in a more or less organized and sensible way.

3. Despair. DR. COMPETENT! PAGING DR. COMPETENT. I realized that my psychiatrist would have had a far more organized planned to help me get off the medication. I don’t have the severe nausea that some have, but even the mild physical side effects are disconcerting. So, maybe despair is a strong word. Cut me some slack.

4. Self-distrust. Is this me? Is this me coming off the meds? Is it my hormones? “Over analysis” would also be an appropriate title for this stage.

5. Self-care. Eat all the veggies.Eat none of the junk food. Do all the yoga. Drink all the water. Get all the sleep.

6. Anger. How dare she? How dare he? How dare I!? I need to get myself together. You need to get yourself together. She needs to get herself together.

7. Quiet. My favorite stage. Feeling everything all at once, but not feeling anything to the point of being overwhelmed. Not needing to express anything,

8. Sharing. Talk about all the feelings.

John Mayer, Hot Wheels, and Self-Revelations, #ctstw

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Uncategorized, Using my words for good #UMFWG on December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am

I pressed play on “In Repair,” John Mayer’s heady ballad about a life on the mechanic’s lift (so to speak).

Earlier today, I fixed my young friend’s Hot Wheels car factory that melts plastic, squeezes it into a mold, and cools it into the shape of a toy car. Some of the cold plastic ended up in the wrong place (well, truth be told: my young friend PUT a piece of cold plastic in the wrong place), so I unscrewed some things, poked around with a screwdriver in a manner that likely voided warranties and……voila! My young friend was making plastic toy cars again.

And, it hit me as I was driving the rolling hills of Rainbow Road away from South DeKalb mall. I saw the wonderful–in a completely opposite way than the song indicates.

I am not in repair. You’re not in repair. John Mayer’s not in repair…..though he did write quite a song.

Repair…..when something needs to be fixed, one has that thing repaired. Repaired…..put back together so that the thing works as it’s meant to. Repair…..re-made into some whole version of the thing.

But, I am not a car. You are not a car.

I work the way I am meant to work. I am a flawed, crazy patchwork of failures and successes.

Suddenly, thinking of people as in need of repair annoys me. The person who murders. The child who is abandoned by careless parents. The careless parents who abandon their child. The person who snatches purses and wallets. The arrogant person. The rude person. The gossiping person.

Are they in need of repair? In need of love, in need of compassion, in need of nurture, in need of guidance. Maybe those things are a part of repair. But, repair seems to me a discrete process, while love and so forth should be endless. Right? Maybe?

Maybe this is just a (horrible, horrible) semantics game. But, thinking of people as needing repair suggests that a diagnostic test can be run, a few changes made, and voila! A functional human emerges. But, what is a functional human being? Even medical doctors will admit that an accurate diagnosis and a corrective procedure may not get at the root of a physiological problem.

I have a few rough emotional edges and a deep store of self-loathing and a noticeable mean streak. I can change those things, but not with a simple process of repair in which someone unscrews me, pokes around, voids some warranties, re-screws me and voila…….Moi 2.0! There is a huge chance that I may never totally unload my self-loathing. In other words, I may never FIX that about myself. And, why should I–you, we, us–drip our lives away trying to fix this thing or that? When, much like the case of my young friend’s hot plastic car molder, external forces caused the “malfunction” in the first place.

If we could rewind the life of the arrogant person or the gossip or the murderer……would we see crucial moments when another person intercepted that life and altered it? Would we see abuse or shame or abandonment or loneliness or embarrassment or judgment? Probably. If you could rewind your life to a time when you weren’t in need of “repair,” and then pressed play: would you recognize the ways that others affected you and the way you affected others?

What am I saying? Hm. I’m not sure really. Well, maybe this: if there is any screwing to be done, screw those who tell you that you are less than, undone, in need of repair, wanting, not up to snuff, below the mark. You keep living, loving, sharing, giving, cooperating, raging, flourishing. I’ll do the same.

Happy New Year.

#UMWFG: Friend dumped redux

In and other uncomfortable topics, Friendship, Happiness, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Using my words for good #UMFWG on November 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I’ve written before about being friend dumped, but at the time I was studying for the Georgia bar exam and life was an emotional roller coaster.

I found out that I passed the bar several days ago. So, I decided to revisit those feelings. Not surprisingly, things look different now that I am in an emotionally different place. I still hurt from those losses, but I also see that I have done the same thing to other people for both good and bad reasons (from my point of view). That realization has helped to move to a place of forgiveness toward both myself and others.

In my victim-mindset, I had all questions and no answers as to why anyone would do such a thing. But, now that I am in a more triumphant mindset, I am able to supply some of my own answers–and maybe answers for others, too.

1.  I THOUGHT WE WERE CLOSE.

There are areas and zones of black when it comes to answering any questions about human relationships. But, often times we WERE close. We shared physical and emotional space. Sometimes, however, perhaps *I* thought I was closer to the other person than I actually was. Perhaps *I* wanted to be closer to the other person than I actually could be. Nonetheless, we still shared some degree of connection.

I should NOT allow the disappearance of the friendship/relationship to diminish the closeness and connection that genuinely did exist.

2. WHY DID YOU LEAVE?

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in my best interest. Maybe I felt emotionally dominated or suppressed by the other person. Maybe I felt recurring but unpredictable tides in the relationship that I just couldn’t decipher. Maybe I was trying to make some changes in my life that I didn’t want to force that other person to become a part of. Maybe I was changing and that other person blatantly did not want to be a part of that. Maybe I was just too immature to handle the weight of that relationship.

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in the other person’s best interest. I do freely admit that I did not do altruistic abandonment very often. But, the times that I did, it was because I knew (felt) that other person wanted something from me that I couldn’t give and I knew (felt) that other person would not accept that fact that I couldn’t; that I was emotionally unable to deliver.

Sometimes, life pulls people apart. Maybe I was courageous enough to fight life’s gravity, maybe I decided to just be pulled away. But, I still harbor gratefulness, thankfulness, and fond thoughts for those people that life pulled away.

3. WHY DIDN’T YOU OFFER SOME SORT OF EXPLANATION?

No explanation is good enough, anyway. Truly. Besides, sometimes “explanations” turn into blame games. And, that would just leave everyone feeling terrible. Of course, that’s a cowardly response. There was a way for me to explain what was going on with ME without involving YOU. Also, in situations where I was wrong and continued to be wrong and knew that I would stay wrong for a while: it’s so much easier to just tiptoe out of the backdoor in my socks. HOW could I look another person in the eye and admit: “So, yeah. I had underhanded motives. Still have them. Will continue to have them. Sorry for not being sorry about that.”

4. DO YOU EVEN CARE THAT I AM STILL HURTING?

Maybe. Maybe not. For some people that I friend dumped, I do feel bad that I changed the locks, didn’t let them know, and now refuse to answer the door. I know those people didn’t deserve it, but I’m just too cowardly to reopen the subject. A couple of times, I have reopened the subject (but, years later). I felt awkward at first to bring up something from so long ago; I thought it would seem as if I had been ruminating for all this time (true); I thought maybe that other person would not remember what I was talking about; I thought they would curse me out. It WAS awkward. S/he DID remember. S/he was, surprisingly, mild and mature in response.

But, it doesn’t get easier to reopen to past friend dump.

Sometimes, though: I don’t care. Sometimes (in a most UN-WWJD way), I feel like I screwed him/her because s/he screwed me first.

5. I KNOW YOU ARE VAGUEBOOKING/SUBTWEETING ABOUT ME.

SUCH a 21st century problem. Yeah, guilty as charged. I did. Totally. Sometimes, I vaguebooked/subtweeted from the victim’s mindset. Sometimes, I did so from the dumper’s mindset. But, yeah. I totally did it. Like, totes.

6. COULD WE REBUILD A FRIENDSHIP?

Ummmmm (from both the dumper’s and dumpee’s mindset)…..probably NOT, but maybe. I’ve never really tried it. Is there a way to rebuild a friendship after a such a rift? In my experience, no. By the time both of us are ready to mend the rift, we’ve both grown and changed–perhaps into an appreciably different person.

C.S. Lewis makes me smile

In and other uncomfortable topics, Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Thoughts on Christianity on October 7, 2013 at 12:02 am

I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I return to those stories at least once a year. They refresh me. Therefore, I have always had great respect for the author, C.S. Lewis. He was a great writer, a great thinker, and a great Christian. He did radio broadcasts in Britain during World War II to help keep the morale of the British up. His books are mainstays for theologians, apologists, and anyone looking to find out more information about Christianity. He married late in life, and his wife died after a prolonged struggle with cancer. In the days and weeks after her death, he kept journals.

Oddly, these journals are the things that have made me smile.

Lewis later published these journals under the title A Grief Observed. He grapples, transparently and despairingly and courageously, with the loss of his beloved wife and the delicate nature of his faith in God. Lewis says things that many people are too scared to admit about faith.

But go to Him [God] when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited?

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘so there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

And, I smile not because his wife, Joy, is dead. I smile not because he is suffering in these pages. I smile because his path of grief that is so sharp and so different from anything I have ever known, reminds me that I am not alone. His grief reminds me that sweeping away my feelings and telling myself to buck up, man up, and put on my big girl panties is nothing. The missive “hold on to God’s unchanging hand” is not something that I have to do. I believe in God, but I think that anyone who tells me to hold on to His unchanging hand doesn’t quite understand. God does not change, true enough. But, what I understand about God changes. I cannot hold on to His hand…that is a part of the journey of being human and separate from God, yet with the ability to unite myself with Him.

My faith, in plain speak, is shattered and it has been for some time. I am thankful to God, I love God, I believe in God, I appeal to God, I worship God. But, I no longer understand what it means to be a Christian. But, surely I am a Christian–I believe that Jesus died on a cross to make right all my sins.

In this world of church politics and genocide and Twitter and great poverty thrown against great wealth—-no. Let me cut straight to the chase rather than do this whole poetic list. Between church politics and my stance on LGBT issues and my (bleeding heart liberal) politics in general……..I’m just not sure where I fit anymore.  Like Lewis, I’m not afraid that I will quit believing in God or Jesus. I’m afraid that I will realize, ‘This is what it meant to be Christian all along.’ And, then where will I be? A woman who believes in the Creator, in God, in Christ, in the cleansing of sin, in eternal life….but without Christianity? Without church? That’s blasphemy or something like it.

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down. (–C.S. Lewis)

And, I smile. My faith is knocked down. I am winded. I am feeling alone. But, I am still moving. I feel alone, but I know that I am not. I smile. I am in the process–and if even a man like Lewis got mired for weeks and weeks I know now not to despair at being mired for months and months. Maybe what I have been involved in and what I have given myself to for all these years has not really been Christianity, but only my understanding of Christianity that looked very much like Christianity but just wasn’t. Maybe Christianity means something that I don’t quite understand yet. Here is one of the shortest, strongest, and truest sentences in A Grief Observed:

I NEED CHRIST, NOT SOMETHING THAT RESEMBLES HIM.