We all have stories

You don’t get to this age (in my case, banging on 40’s door) without having stories.

Your stories shape your life, your experiences, how you react, how you cope, how you LIVE.

I have tried to live my life in a cautious manner. It’s inherent to who I am. I don’t make snap decisions, I don’t “shoot from the hip,” and I try to retain my calm even when I’m screaming, crying, gnashing my teeth inside. Unleashing the anger beast doesn’t solve anything, and often leads to more hurt; hurtful words can often cause more problems than hurtful actions.

Lord knows I’m not perfect. I haven’t always been cautious. I have reacted emotionally. I have sought immediate gratification and soothing for my pain rather than thinking it out and processing it rationally. I’ve tried to keep those experiences to a minimum, especially as I’ve gotten older. As I’ve learned what helps long-term and what simply complicates things more.

I think that is where our stories come in. They illustrate our experiences in human nature. Experiences to learn from – learn from the people, learn from the emotions that resulted from that moment, learn from how we grieved or celebrated after.

Nobody ever knows your stories but you. Maybe they can ask? If they are curious.

You’ve heard that saying, right, that for every story there is your side, their side, and somewhere in the middle is the truth? Because our stories are skewed by our experiences and our emotions. What was minor to one person may have been major to someone else.

My experiences have brought me to where I am today. My stories have shaped how I respond and react to my experiences. I’ve tried to be cautious . . . . I AM cautious. I try to hold my tongue, not lash out, to react with love and understanding more than anger, frustration and betrayal. It’s hard. It’s hard to feel misunderstood.

My stories tell me that time changes everything. How I felt 13 years ago is not how I feel today. My experiences dictate that. Every decision we make, every deep conversation we have with a friend late at night, every argument, every resentment, every pure joy moment – all of these impact our future.

I was hurt one too many times. My experiences built on each other until I had the Berlin Wall of resentment nestled in my heart. I was trying to knock it down, brick by brick, but recent experiences have told me to shore it up again. And here we go again – more pain, more hurt, more betrayal.

Lady Justice’s scale is tipped to the negative right now, and I’m treading water to stay afloat, but I know the scale will tip back before too long. The positive will outweigh the negative. There will be healing. There will be joy.

These are my stories, built on my experiences. There is value (and weight & impact) to each one of them, the good and the bad. There is growth from every experience.

These stories will be be the sum of my life, but my novel is not nearly complete.

Peace, love and understanding. It’s the way to go, and I’m trying.

MORE HAPPY STORIES.

xoxo,

stef

The Honey Badger

The subconscious remembers things that we would rather forget. You know those dreams where you wake up and think, my goodness, that was so real? Some memories are so buried that, driving down the street, I’d have a hard time recalling them. It’s only in your sleep, when the sentries who keep guard over your thoughts are at rest, can your mind conjure up the deepest, hardest, fondest & most painful memories.

Your subconscious don’t care.

Your subconscious will whammy you when you least expect it. Recalling feelings, touches, a remembrance of a time or person, but maybe in a new setting or experience. Because that’s what dreams so; they marry your memories with your wants, your desires and even with your fears. You may wake up smiling or crying, or a little of both.

Your subconscious don’t care.

It’s times like these when I remind my conscious sentries of two things:

1. A lesson or a blessing? Which was that memory? And the dream?

2. A reason, season or lifetime? Where does that person or experience land in my lifetime? Was it a learning experience? A long-term, but inherently finite experience? Or is this for my lifetime?

Those two things help me to sort through the emotions & categorize the experiences in a way that makes sense to me.

Consciously I’ll categorize and put those memories away. I’ll push them back in their file, like an old jack-in-the-box.

But … it will pop up again, you see .…

Your subconscious don’t care.

Try to embrace the memories, even the painful ones. They teach us something.

XOXO,
Stef

For I am just human

For I am human,
She said, with sadness.
Hands twisting hands,
Confused, mad mess.

What do I know of this?
Tumbling, falling blindly;
Is it a swing and miss?
Broken, hands hang idly.

I was slow, she said,
I was unsure, scared.
It took time, she said,
With a push, I dared.

You’re human too;
Mistakes are made.
Forgive in lieu,
Of anger & pain.

But I need love, she said,
And you are a true man.
Attention, touch, she said,
For I am just human.

It’s Independence Day, indeed

Warning: I wrote the poem below a few months ago when I was feeling particularly saucy and there is excessive use of foul language. I just don’t think the point would have been quite as punctuated without it! If you don’t think you’ll like it then, please, don’t read it!

So, in honor if Independence Day, I’m sharing the sassiest, most assertive poem that I’ve ever written:

Stronger

Stronger, wiser, tougher.
You bet your ass, sir;
I’m like fucking alabaster.

Stronger, like titanium.
I can withstand any blast;
Don’t think I can’t fucking last.

Stronger, I’ll survive longer.
Don’t you even doubt;
I’m too fucking smart to pout.

Stronger, just watch me rise.
I’ll double-time up that ladder;
See how much you don’t fucking matter?

Stronger, I’m not going to cry.
You go find your own corner;
I’m so fucking done being a mourner.

Stronger, wiser, tougher.
You can kiss my ass, sir.
You’re no longer my master.

Happy Independence Day!

XOXO,

Stef

Here is what you do when you are grieving

Yesterday, as I was getting ready for bed, bone-tired, I absentmindedly scrolled through Facebook one last time before sleep (because, you know, what if a catastrophe happened and I didn’t know for 6 hours?) As I scrolled, the title of a Huffpost article caught my eye: Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving.

I’ve read lots of grieving articles. They’re usually about death rather than heartbreak, however heartbreak is very much like something is dying.

In my sleepy haze I clicked, what the hell, and decided to read a few lines. Then a few more. This was not like the other articles. OMG. But … but … but that’s how I felt! That’s what I went through! It’s was my very actions, my very thoughts & feelings, my coping. It was as if the words came from my mind – however I’m not nearly as good of a writer to have stepped outside myself to portray my heartbroken grief so accurately.

I was in tears, bursting out, audible sobs. This, yes, this. Somebody else felt this too. They knew this pain. It was a humanizing experience. I was not alone in this grief.

I can’t just say all that and not share it with you, right? So this is shared without permission but I’ll take it down if requested. But these words should be shared. Everybody should understand the death that comes with heartbreak; the mind-numbing grief.

Read these words:

Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving
by Katherine Fritz

You spend some time curled into tiny spaces. They are useful for this. Big, open rooms give you too much space for your wild thoughts to tangle and knot. If you curl yourself into a small place and sit there, you will ultimately feel cramped or foolish or angry enough to leave and make yourself a cup of tea.

You make yourself a cup of tea. Even if you don’t particularly like tea. Warm liquids are good when the back of your throat is burning like you’ve smoked a thousand rotten cigarettes and you can feel the weight of your mistakes trickling down into your fibers and your muscles and burrowing underneath your eyes, your breasts, your heart, your bones. You wrap your hands around the cup and you press your cheek and your eyelids to the side of the porcelain mug and you focus on what warm feels like, you remember the word ‘warm,’ you think it to yourself, quietly, because small thoughts are useful right now.

You learn to trust who you talk to. The best ones will comfort and pretend to understand even if they don’t. The best ones will understand if you want to be alone, and will understand if you change your mind about what you want. The best ones will not make you feel foolish for appearing vulnerable and weak.

Weakness and vulnerability are not the same. In case you’d forgotten. It is sometimes helpful to remember this.

You spend some time with distractions. I like drinking, and I like television, and I like sex, although that can be tricky because it is easy to mistake one particular kind of intimacy for another. Distractions are useful. Most people like distractions. Many people spend their entire lives with such beautiful, such glowing distractions. I can see why.

You think about soft things, like cotton sweatpants, and fleece blankets, and flannel sheets, and creamy pasta. You indulge. People who are grieving do not want to put on high-heeled shoes and mascara. They do not want to wear tummy-slimming pantyhose. They do not want to order salads.

You turn your brain into a film projector. You replay the movie you’ve unwittingly starred in, again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until you think you might understand the sequence of events, if not the meaning. You replay it endlessly, at night, at breakfast, while reading, on the phone, while looking at the Internet, while picking at your nails, while shopping for toilet paper, again and again and again and again.

You remind yourself how breathing works, how sleeping works, how going to work works. You teach yourself basic lessons as if you were a child: It is time to clean up after yourself, time to take a shower, time to behave, time to leave the house today. You notice the circles under your eyes, and you buy some makeup in an inexpensive mirrored compact, and although you do not think anything of it at the time, it feels significant, when you reflect upon it later.

If you are phenomenally lucky, and I know that I am, you wake up one day to discover that you very much feel like moving your legs off the bed and placing them on the floor. You feel like lifting your head from the pillow and swiveling your torso and moving to an upright position and maybe even splashing some water on your face and brewing some coffee. You notice that you want to wear a brightly-colored sundress because it will look pretty on your skin; you discover on your commute that there are windows and doors and telephone wires and flowerpots and building placards and crumbling sidewalks that you’ve seen a thousand times but never really noticed. You watch a family in a park and you think you might start to cry, but not for any reason that can be explained, and then you are not crying, you are smiling, or maybe you are doing both, and then and then and then in a sudden release, you start to notice everything. You notice your fingertips. You notice your heartbeat. You notice your body and it all feels like your own. You notice other people. You notice everything. You wonder how you’ve never seemed to notice just how big everything is.

You start to think it is all so impossible. You start to think it’s all incredibly possible.

You start to think that maybe you’re okay.

Thank God for words. For wordsmiths. For poets. For lyricists. Thank you, Katherine Fritz.

ETA: I found the original blogger and blog! So, giving credit where due, here’s her blog and this posting: http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/06/25/here-is-what-you-do-when-you-are-grieving/.

Remember, you are not alone.

All my love,
Stef

The passage of time

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Tracking dates is sometimes very important to me and I’ve been wondering why. Is it because it helps with my obsessiveness? Because I can then say it’s been 1 year since such & such happened?

And what’s the significance of a year anyway? Just because it’s been the time it takes for the sun to complete its orbit should have no significant impact on the activity in my life or reflect my feelings at all.

But it does. Suddenly when you say it’s been a year then that designation carries more weight. Conceptually, the thought process is that the further distance you get from a hard event the easier you’ll feel about it. But it just gives further fodder to my tendency to obsess over those precious, catalytic events in my life.

In reality, I wish I could just move the eff on already. I don’t like being obsessive. I don’t like holding on to all this life-sucking emotion.

But still, I sit here and say – a year ago today this happened and I felt like this and how did that year get me here? And could I have imagined that? What should I have done differently?

Over-analyze. Obsess.

Hindsight = clarity, sometimes acute humiliation and recognition of the forest when, during the event, you can only see the trees.

I started my first job on March 5 many, many moons ago.

I my heart broken for the first time on September 18. Same year.

I moved out of state Nov 15, 1997 for the first time.

I made a decision that altered the course of my life forever on September 25, 1999.

I was 6 weeks pregnant with my first son on September 11, 2001.

In 4 days it will be 16 months since my beloved Grammy passed away.

On July 14, 2014, I will have been married 14 years.

It was around this time a year ago that I altered the course of my life again.

I don’t take these events lightly. They impacted me significantly and contributed to who I am today.

Dates and the passage of time define our activities, our events, our milestones. But they don’t actually reflect the heart, do they?

Time is not a barometer of emotion. It’s simply the measurement of how long I’ve been happy/sad/hopeful/miserable. It’s the ruler to know how long it’s been, my penance, my joy, my pain. An instrument of reflection.

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Maybe it’s time to move on. Time to stop the obsessing. Time to recognize and appreciate these events for what they really are: life experiences!

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Move on? Move forward.

With love,
Stef

Pain? Try prison

Her coffee is getting cold,
as she waits for him to miss her.
While his cigarettes are running one after another, trying to forget her.

It’s after midnight here, my lovelies, my sweets.

It’s after midnight and my eyelids are heavy and my body is drooping, but my tummy is rumbling with unease – just enough to keep me awake past the witching hour. An hour that hurts, because it takes me through another painful day.

Oh, you wouldn’t see it anymore; it’s all cleverly hidden. And, of course, I’m busy. So busy. I may not think about it for a hours altogether … and then I look at the clock and I think oh man, it’s too late. Or too early. And the pain is there.

A prison of my own making. Locked inside and I can’t find my way out. It consumes me, day and night; an obsession I can’t walk away from. Whenever I try it comes trickling back, enveloping me like great grey foggy arms, pulling me in until I give up. Submission.

Myself the warden, guard & gate. Pain.

And I’m so angry with myself.

-Stef

 

P.S. Challenge: The title of this blog post is a quote from an 80’s movie. Name that movie & the actor who said it – without using the internet.

I get weak

Some of the things he writes make me weak and soppy and hopeful. No matter what, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a romantic.

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I think this is from Moulin Rouge, but I didn’t realize it until I was trying to attribute the quote that was in my mind and looked it up:

The greatest thing you’ll learn is to love and be loved in return.

With love,
Stef

Defying Gravity

Do you remember Ally McBeal? I’m totally aging myself but, hey, who cares? I used to love, love, love Ally McBeal. My best friend and I lived a couple states apart and we would call each other during the commercials to talk about the show – silly? Yes. A fabulous memory? Oh yes. But that’s not the point of this blog post. (But I should get back to that, at some point).

Ally used to have theme songs. Depending on what was going on in her life, she would adopt a song that she could mentally conjure up that would give her strength, or courage, or comfort, right when she needed it.

Well, I’ve been doing the same thing. Blessings on Ally for the inspiration. Last fall it was David Guetta’s Titanium, with lyrics like:

“I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium”

It was exactly what I needed to get through some excruciatingly hard months.

Over the last several weeks I’ve recognized that I’m transitioning into another phase in my life and/or another phase in the life cycle of my heartbreak. I’ve been mulling that over and trying to understand what I want/need right now. What’s next?

Then I went to see Wicked (again, because, duh, it’s so awesome) and words were put in my head that have been resonating with me continuously for a couple weeks now. I’ve realized my new theme song, the song that defines this next stage is, has to be, Defying Gravity: (edited for brevity & relevance)

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown!
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!”

I don’t always feel strong, but in those times of weakness I just need to be Idina Menzel in my head and belt out this song. I’ll remember then just how strong I am! And when I’m sad this song will cheer me because it’s an anthem to make me believe what my heart & my head knows, but forgets, that I can do anything I put my mind to, and I can live the life I want. I CAN do it.

With love,
yours in insomnia,

Stef