Hello Again

Okay, so I know I haven’t written anything in over a month, but I haven’t really felt inspired lately. Even my journal has been collecting dust, with the exception of a few self-pity entries and a crappy poem.
It feels ridiculous being depressed at my age, but I know it’s something I’ll never escape. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, after washing off the stink of it all, I feel somehow stronger and more independent because pulling myself away from such depths is always by my own hand.
I have a feeling that this will eventually begin to produce negative affects since I already struggle to open up and trust people, but overall; I’d rather be independent than naive.
This time, I’ve chosen to turn to Buddhism (again). I bought the Golden Zephyr book at Half Price Books when I was about seventeen and going though my “smoke weed and be happy” phase… which doesn’t really coincide with Buddhism at all, but who knows shit at seventeen anyway?
I skipped over the “boring” parts and practices I didn’t feel applied to me (again, seventeen), tried to meditate with absolutely no success, and then, like all teenage potheads, gave up and smoked weed to find some form of (false) inner-peace.
I quit smoking somewhere around 22 or 23 after the “peaceful” affects turned on me and I realized “wow, I suck” and then I just became boring on my own terms, without the help of any other substances.
I have taken the longest, most miserable path to self-discovery and though I have never lost sight of my potential, I still have yet to actually open myself up to it.
So here I am, nearing 28 (augh), and I can finally pick up this book and take something from it. Reading the forward alone was like listening to Beethoven in the Spring.
The last time I read it was about two years ago to help with the transition of completely uprooting myself from a life I’d always known to one where nothing was familiar. It helped a bit, but at the time, I was so hellbent on being an Atheist that I couldn’t truly look past the fact that Buddhism was considered a religion. Having finally grown up, shed of all need to be tied to any particular belief, and simply seeking something to create a balance in my life that allows me to be myself while still being internally strong (I’m an extremely sensitive and emotional person), I am truly at a point in my life where I can fully understand the teachings with little to no objection.
It sounds like it should be easy, but for those of us who spend our lives thinking and mulling over ridiculously tiny details, it’s no easy feat to get to the point where you can read anything slightly philosophical without opposing something. It’s almost as if not having some disagreeing point of view means that you aren’t thinking hard enough.
However, this time ’round, the most beautiful thing I’ve found in reading Golden Zephyr at this point in my life is that it’s not a guide to an entirely different lifestyle or belief system, it’s a guide to opening up to your true potential and finding patience and acceptance in the things you cannot change. Basically, you aren’t bound to anything but yourself and if you can’t find an inner-balance, then you can’t live a balanced life.
There’s no way to fully explain the impact – it’s either something for you or it isn’t. The things that change you the most in your life are the things that find you at the right time in your life.
Countless times, I’ve pledged a new world-view or a new perspective on life, and yet find myself right back to writing dreary poems between the dusty binds of a journal. I can only say that what’s different this time is that I am completely open to letting change happen to me rather than trying to control what changes.
I truly feel like that’s a step in the right direction and I truly feel I have the patience for it at this time in my life. I have no expectations and holy shit, does that feel good.

Just In Case You Ever Got Curious

Coffee. It is my life.  I’ve created an acronym to express my feelings for coffee.  I am on a caffeine high.

Couldn’t live without it

Over ice or hot, doesn’t matter

Fill the cup with caffeine

Forget decaf

Every morning


The end, please enjoy your weekend.

The Act of Socializing From the Perspective of a Hermit

Last night, I experienced a moment where I realized I had peaked in social awkwardness.  I felt the walls of my inability to understand the act of socializing close in on me and squeeze away any confidence I carried with me into the evening.   I tunneled as quickly as I could through years of reading philosophy and psychology books to take charge of the situation and make the best of it, but found myself pressed in to the background of a group of people I had nothing in common with.   I grabbed my bag, sneaked out the back like a rat and left concluding that I was boring, mature and rather friendless.  All of which carried no self-pity, but a rather harsh self-examination of how I ended up alone and crying on park bench across the street from a good friend’s graduation party.

Had I been this way my entire life, my hide would have been thick enough to protect the teeth of bitter self-loathing from sinking in, but the truth is, I haven’t always been this way.  I’ve always been a loner, always in my own mind, developing my own opinions and practicing my own philosophies.  However, I haven’t always been so withdrawn from other people.   Yet, after spending the rest of my evening reflecting my past, I realized that 95% of any social life I’ve ever maintained has been strictly for appearances and hardly ever for genuine interest.

What bothered me even more was the fact that in order to press myself in to a social situation without raising any eyebrows is to drink.  Get as much liquor inside of me as possible and ride passenger to my liquid courage.
Every angle of that particular “solution” strikes me as pathetic and insincere.  Which begs the question “Am I a hermit by choice or because I have no choice?”  Have I been so psychologically damaged by my past that I fear closeness with others, or am I genuinely uninterested in what people who share no common interest have to say?

In no way could I ever be considered arrogant, judgmental – absolutely, but not arrogant.    I am simply a firm believer in my own opinions and would prefer discussing human nature rather than human interests.  I prefer “naked conversation” where all parties are stripped of self-lies and false-confidence.  For me, a conversation doesn’t have to have depth, just honesty.

I suppose the point I’m (sloppily) trying to make here is that nothing is truly wrong with me.   There is something more wrong with drinking to “fit in” than there is staying home and enjoying my time privately.  It used to make me feel guilty and ashamed, but now, I realize it’s just what I enjoy.  And that’s not to say I never want to go out and drink again, we’re social creatures, too much time alone is unhealthy for one’s mind; we need stimulation and challenges, but not to the point where it becomes self-destructive.

While I believe it’s necessary to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the result should be rewarding, never damaging.  And, although I know last night wasn’t the last time I will ever feel uncomfortable or suffer an anxiety attack, I will never have to feel guilty about it again.

2013, ain’t it a beaut?

Today, I filled out my FAFSA application for Financial Aid.  Today, I also decided I should really start working on that whole “aspiring alcoholic” thing.  This was before the FAFSA business.  So now, in a tingly, merry state of mind, I can hold my head up.  Should I be ashamed?  Probably.  Am I?  No, not really.  I figure, I’m a failure in every other aspect of life, why not give my nagging blood the thing it craves and succumb to my heredity?   My family is full of failed dreams and alcoholism.  And hey, at least I’ll really have something to write about, right?
I already make myself miserable by trapping any happiness in thoughts of doubts and insecurities, so why not weaken such a cruel structure with some liquor?  Hell, at least then I’ll have an excuse other than sheer laziness for my lack of accomplishments.  And my family will look at these days, here, as the days when I really could have been something.
It’s like giving in to my destiny.
You see, after my grandmother died (the smoking alcoholic she was — to give you an idea), my mother found a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey hidden in a drawer in the kitchen.   My grandmother, Nanny, fought cancer for about 11 years and claimed she’d quit drinking after her first visit to the hospital in those 11 years prior to her death.  She battled with smoking and had weened herself to the point of being able to not smoke in front of other people, but we all knew she still smoked.  I told my mother to let Nanny live her life in a way that was comfortable for her, but my mother nagged her about it anyway because well, daughters need mothers.  The same cravings course through my mother that course through me, and we both inherited our “desires” from  my grandmother and grandfather.   My  mother had successfully fought off the demons until she lost both parents last year and now she spends her weekends in a drunken stupor from wine.  Last week, I flew home for Christmas and stayed 7 days, 5 of which were spent drunk with my mother.  How wonderful it felt to rest in the bottoms of bottles 1,700 miles away from my problems.
And now, with flushed cheeks that greet saddened cheekbones, I have continued my grandmother’s legacy.  Only, she was brave and stubborn and confident and she died living up to  the bold letters of her name.
Sure, she was sad but I’ve come to accept that we’re all sad, we’re also all happy.  We’re a mess of every emotion tangled in to a single, conscious vessel, obligated to ignoring certain things because, well, we have to if we want to be happy.  I simply have problems with putting on my blinders.  It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it takes it’s toll.  And tonight, I drink to all of those thoughts and problems and to my grandmother who was certainly brave, honest and genuine until the day she died.
I’ll get through my problems but it will never be below me to drink some of them away.

Going Solo

I’ve read plenty of books and blogs and quotes and poems.  Every writer will mention a calm that takes place/took place at some point in their life.  Today, I knew exactly what they meant.  Every previous form of calmness was blinded by the ora of pure, white kindness I felt today.  It bleached out everything that has been troubling my mind and I can truly think of no word to describe it, because I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
I felt it at 5:45 this morning.  I was waiting on my bus and asked myself:

Why are you so calm right now?  Your truck is gone, you take the bus to work, your relationship is hanging on by a thread, you’re in debt and you haven’t bettered your education in any way.  You’ll be 27 in a month and you haven’t worked in any way towards the career you really want.  You’re best friend won’t talk to you, you moved away from all of the others and no one in your immediate presence appreciates you or values your company the way the friends you left did [this does not include you, Cassie, if you read this].  But you’re still smiling and hopeful.  Most people would have quit at this point.  Why are waiting for this bus right now?  What is the purpose of continuing this?

The truth is, I didn’t really have a good answer.  But, somehow, I know that without a doubt, I’ll be just fine.  Not because I’m special or talented in any specific way but because the changes that have taken place recently, the inner-struggles that I have fought my entire life — they are all, suddenly, becoming clear.   I’m no longer troubled by the person I’m not, but inspired by the person I’m capable of becoming.  I have something to work towards.  And it’s not that I expect it to be easy, I know it’s going to be quite the opposite.  I know I will find myself on the floor curled up plenty of more times in my life.

But I’m not going to be that person any more than I’m going to be the person that inspires me.  I will probably always balance between the two.  I am a perfect whole.  And with everything I’ve lost and the miles and miles that stretch ahead of me; I’m seeing it for the first time, very clearly, as a clean slate. We can take nothing with us forever in life any more than we can take the things we cherish in to death.  I’ve spent my entire life clinging to my friendships and my relationships because I thought they were all I had.  It’s wonderful to value your friends and family —  to be there for them and to go to them when you need them most.  But it’s entirely different when you define yourself through your friendships and your relationships.  And that’s all I’ve ever done.  I’ve always tapped my foot to my own rhythm but I’ve never attempted to do it solo.  I’ve always needed the backing vocals and other instruments to harmonize with.
For the first time in my 26 years, I have no reflective surfaces in my life.  No one to mirror myself against and say: You’re a good person, look at the wonderful friends you have and all they do for you.  No one to reassure me (aside from my mother) or remind me of the wonderful things I am (aside from my mother).

And while I thought it meant I’d be a shitty person if I lost any of the people who comforted me in that fashion, it didn’t happen that way.  I was simply flooded with the reality that that’s life sometimes.   I could win the lottery and give it all to charity but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others still suffering.   In actuality, my dependency on the friendships I’ve lost cheapened the value of every kind gesture I made.  This doesn’t make me feel like a bad person though, the only person I feel like is the one growing in to someone that can handle the pains and still keep their head up.  The person that sees the changes they need to make and works towards changing them.  The person who’s had their heartbroken more than once but still believes in romance and love.   The person who can take a shitty situation and pull something positive from it.  The person, who despite every setback, still believes they are capable of wonderful things.

This isn’t an easy person to be, and knowing that comforts me because of all the things that are wrong in my life, I must have done something right if I still have this much confidence in my character.

Life as the Kid Who Shit Their Pants

When I was about four, I developed a sort of resistance to pooping and refused to poop.  I’d cross my legs until my face turned red and I couldn’t breathe; I honestly feared pooping because I thought it hurt.   My mother was aware of my problem and even had family members try to scare the shit out of me, literally.  My cousin who was four years older than me, cornered me in the bathroom when I was five and told me that if I didn’t poop, it would come out of my mouth.  She swore it had happened to her before. I guess it scared me, because I still remember everything about that moment, but it did nothing for my situation.

Out of options, my mom took me to my pediatrician who told her to buy mineral oil and put it in my juice.   She did and I still hate Tang to this day.  While it softened the poop, the problem was more of a mental one.  The evidence of skid marks in the undies was a dead giveaway that the mineral oil wasn’t working it’s magic.   I can’t imagine what she, as a mother was going through, but I was perfectly happy not pooping and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t be.  This continued throughout my elementary years and the meet-n-greet with the teachers during registration became a ritual of my mother asking them to please speak in the hallway.

As I got older, I wised up a bit and starting throwing away the bacon-strip panties.  This, however, became a problem when my underwear drawer began depleting.   At that point, she wised up and bought underwear with a different day of the week printed on each pair; all days Monday-Sunday.  If any days went missing, my visits to the restroom were supervised.  I think my brother (8 years older than me) was probably more traumatized by the whole thing than I was.

My parents have been divorced since I was about 2, so my brother and I would spend one week at my moms and one at my dads.  Even though my dad knew about my problem, he either hated hearing me bitch about drinking the tang with mineral oil, or he was bitter enough at my mom to not make me drink it.   Either way, weeks at my dads were poop-free  with all the skivvies I could ask for.   So, after my mother became the Hitler of panties, I got the idea to start sneaking underwear from my dads to wear.

I remember having a little, plastic purple trashcan with a lid on it in my room, I had started hiding my shitty underwear in it under whatever other trash a little kid accumulates.  For whatever reason, I didn’t consider that my mom was the one who cleaned the house.  I remember the day she discovered my dirty little secret.  She just sat the empty trashcan (now with no lid) on my bed.  I walked in to my room and just stared at it.  Stupidly enough, I peeked inside to see if maybe she didn’t find the underwear.  I didn’t find underwear.

Somewhere in the second grade, I gave her hope that I’d stopped the whole business.  I thought I had too.  I was regular and it didn’t hurt to poop anymore.  But then came the third grade and for some reason, I missed my hay days when I got in trouble for stashing poopy panties all over my room.  One day during craft time, I was clenching in my seat.  I asked my teacher to use the restroom (really so I could go wipe the skids from my britches) and she told me to wait.  So I sat down and continued crafting.  About that time, I noticed it; the smell.  I looked at the kid Benjamin next to me and asked him what the smell was (hoping to blame someone else).  He looked around and then James (who either hated me or had a crush on me) said “Ewwww, I bet it’s Whitney”.  Oh, that’s right, he hated me.

I saw the teachers face go white and she sent me to the nurse.  I sat crying in the bathroom for nearly an hour until my mom (who worked 45 minutes away) finally came with fresh clothes, panties and looks to kill.  She smothered me with kisses and told me to change.  I changed only my underwear in hopes to divert the suspicion from myself.  She marched me to my classroom and asked the teacher to step in to the hall for a moment.  She then told me to stay in sight and wait for her near the restroom (which was halfway down the hall).  I walked to the restrooms and started playing with the water fountains when all of a sudden, her voice carried up the hallway.  I peeked over the fountain and saw her hands flying everywhere.  “…told you if she asked to go to the restroom, you let her!”  “I’m so sorry, I know you did, I know, I know, I’m so sorry, I had no idea.”

At that moment, I felt really bad for my teacher and knew it was my fault.  Even though I couldn’t really help what I was doing, I also knew I could have tried harder to not shit my pants.   While I still battled the problem through the rest of elementary school and well in to junior high, it was at that moment that I stopped laying lines in my pants.   Even now, I can go a few days without going “big potty” as my stepfather, a grown man, calls it.  I don’t know if it’s a real problem or if I somehow destroyed my bowels during my poop-refusing childhood. Either way, telling stories of the glory days when I was hiding underwear in boxes of barbie clothes  is one of my favorite things when it comes to getting to know people.  Not because I’m proud of it, it’s funny, but yes, it is embarrassing.  However, once people realize that the bar has been raised, it’s usually then that they start digging deep in to their dark places.  And oh my gosh, there is nothing better.

There’s a quote I found in a pocket calendar when I was about 14.  It said, “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue”.  I remember cutting the quote out and gluing it to something that I was going to keep forever (I have no idea what or where it is).
I’ve found, as I’ve gotten older, that when you’re generally the statue, the best way to deal with it is through self-deprecation.  I have a loooong history of embarrassing moments, and I have survived the sting of each one of them by splashing the burn with hot water.  It may be painful, but if you give it a minute the water turns cold and begins to soothe.

I don’t care what anyone says about “health of the mind” or any of that crap — if it clears your mind and rationalizes the situation for you, I say go for it.   No matter what you do in life, you’re going to come face to face with some part of your past eventually, and the clearer your mind is, the better chance you have of coming out of the battle in one piece.  I used to be embarrassed of things from my childhood, but somewhere along the  way I took a leap of faith and told someone about my “shitty” childhood, and to my surprise they told me the fucked-up parts of theirs.  Just last week I told someone about some of the strange things I did as a kid and they told me things equally fucked up.  It works every time and with it come relief and acceptance about things I can’t change.

With age comes experience and through experience, I’ve realized that by means of doing really weird shit, my childhood habits were actually pretty normal.  And now, I get to openly laugh at the embarrassing things I did because let’s be honest, kids don’t know any better so they’re bound to do weird, horribly awkward shit, and as an adult, you have 2 choices: You can accept it and laugh at it or you can let it haunt you.  It doesn’t really matter how extreme whatever happened to you is, the truth is, you can’t change anything about your past.  You can’t go back and make it different, make it better or make it more or less than it was.  It’s just something that happened to you.

So, today, this month, this whole year – it’s been bad, it’s been rough and I’ve had to drag my feet the entire way.  But I know that even in as little as six months, this could all be different and this doesn’t really define me.  What I choose to do with the outcome of my choices and how I choose to handle them will be the only thing that defines.  And I know this because I was the kid that shit my pants in class and lived to tell about it.