Pride Month

Rainbow

I’ve been pondering this post for a couple of months and decided to place it on the backburner. I couldn’t really think of a better day to write it out and I hope the words just come as I type.

I grew up in a rural setting in the middle of the Bible belt and, subsequently, tornado alley. While enduring more than my share of childhood trauma, I tended to make relationships low-priority for some time.

A nerd in every sense of the definition, kids brutally teased me in sixth grade for being a ‘lesbian’. Every evening, in the solitude of my bedroom I’d shove my face into Brown Bear and cry until I fell asleep.

Criticized for my “humiliating” sense of humor, tom-boy like nature, and tendency to gravitate toward Fortran and briefcases versus pom-poms and Prada, I managed to do a fantastic job of suppressing who I was…even to myself.

In fact, it wasn’t until I finally moved to an environment where I felt empowered and safe and learned to express myself through writing poetry, novels, and short stories that I began to discover the person I am.

I’ve spent the last several years exploring me, and I’ve learned a lot of things, not all that I need to share. It’s not been easy, but I’m lucky in that I have supportive people in my life who are willing to listen and talk.

We’re really good at folding little boxes, piecing them together, taping them up, and tying on large pink ribbons at the top, and I understand how truly difficult it is when one’s situation is too large or complex to fit into those meticulous, dark containers. I realize that if I could just pretend, if I could simply smile from ear to ear and play within the confines of what society deems appropriate life could be, would be simple.

I’d suffocate.

So, this year on Pride Day, I wish for empowerment; wherever you are in your journey, if you’re comfortable, afraid, lonely, depressed, excited, I hope that you can find a sense of worth and voice and know that you are loved.

If you truly have been shunned, abused, or made feel like less of a human, it is my hope that someone enters your path and offers you genuine support.

Love to all on this day, the first day of June,

Erin

Coffee Shop–1

CafeBlog1

Mud-water splashes against my pant legs. In no time they’ll dry, leaving spots of dirt trailing up the material. I despise going anywhere when it rains. Fog beats against storefront windows. The air is humid, melancholy whispers that reduce themselves to leaves as they tap the top of a park bench. It’s nothing special, an ordinary bench in a line of benches.

The coffee shop, with its scattered tables, struggles to mimic some endearing quaintness found in larger cities. The atmosphere falls short of the cliché setting in which a girl I used to date in high-school phones to say she’s driving through town that afternoon.

The atmosphere, where, a couple quivering cups of coffee, a bit of small talk, and a handful of tense gestures later, we find ourselves reminiscing between three-hundred-count bedsheets in a hotel a few miles down the road where I realize exactly what it is we’ve both done after thirty-minutes of irreverent silence and a couple attempts at ‘footsie’.

This is the café where baristas forget to properly mix the milk with coffee. The light swirls around dark, and there’s an ease by which my tongue separates the flavors. Nagging, really, like trying to recall where it is I’m supposed to remember her from or how she obtained my number.

From school? Decades have passed since I attended school…never went to reunions. She wants to ‘catch up’, the voicemail says. It dictates to meet her downtown at 2:00 P.M. and to not be late.

Catch up to what? I never realized we’re behind. It’s true, though…as true as the way stagnant water lurks on small town sidewalks and waits for some guy…some guy with a receding hairline and proof that sitting behind desk twelve hours a day utilizes more mental endurance than physical–then, now, here, gone; and all leads to the eventual absorption in pavement or dirt.

She’s in a blue dress, periwinkle if I’m being specific. I’m not, so I’ll go with blue. The back of her head resembles a helmet. Is that a bob? I still can’t recount who she is. I know who I am–the recluse–the stereotypical nerd whose Saturday evenings were best spent programming in VCC++ 6.0, learning the song of FORTRAN, and LINUX–were? Who am I fooling? They still are.

I turn. The bookstore’s having a sale–twenty-five percent off this weekend only. When it rains, I crave an adventure with Herman Melville, to ride along on the Pequod. Will they have a copy?

A tragic journey on the high-seas or a by-the-hour hotel encounter with a chic I don’t recall?

Chanting along with the infamous quarter-deck scene or waiting in a café incapable of mixing caffeinated beverages?

Pages of winding plot, or hours of wondering why anyone would be wearing such a hideous shade of my favorite color?

The bell clanks as I enter. The clerk glances up. “Can I help you?”

“Certainly, you don’t happen to have Melville, do you?”

 

Dear ‘Just Get Over It’ People, Why Don’t You ‘Just Get Over It’?

PTSD Post

 

This morning I was up at four. I’m always up around three or four in the morning. Needless to say I’m guilty of scrolling through Facebook.

One of the aspects I enjoy the most is looking at my “On This Day” section and realizing just how much I have healed and how far I’ve come.

Today, I found a poster from a couple years ago about PTSD. I saved it, but the original link was from a Facebook Page named: PTSD Break the Silence , and I linked them because I don’t want to try to take any credit for this poster. Also, people should check them out because they share some great information!

Rereading this poster now, I have a few thoughts on this that I will share.

Note: I fear sounding harsh. It’s not my intention, but I have a great passion about PTSD and Domestic Violence.

I am probably going to be writing about domestic violence often this month, because May is my personal ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Month’. It’s the month I escaped seven years of domestic violence. It also marks the beginning of my lesson in establishing self-respect and boundaries with others in my life who had abused me either mentally, emotionally, or physically in the past.

Needless to say, I was an extremely damaged human–damaged to the point that I would stay up all night staring at the door and just waiting for my abuser to carry out each and every threat he had made all the times I had mentioned leaving, and damaged to the point that I couldn’t even sit through an entire statistics class without getting up to “use the restroom”– my excuse to try out the exit in the room so that if I were attacked in class, I would know where to go.

I plan on writing more about my healing journey in later posts, so I won’t go into too much detail on this one.

But, the one thing that wore me out more than my own mental and emotional anguish was that everyone around me was suddenly becoming an expert on mental illness. It was as though they went to bed and woke up with a doctorate in how to handle one’s own thoughts and healing processes.

Now, as the poster states, I believe it was all well-intended. Even so, there’s a lot of stigma that I feel necessitates erasure.

For example, “stop being a victim”. After my mother passed away, I felt frightened constantly. I felt as though my only protector had left me. In my mind, I was all alone. I felt belittled because I was constantly being called a “burden”, and I felt as though any emotions I had were worthless because anytime anyone would tell me how sorry they were for my loss, the comment was met with, “She’s too young to understand”.

I assure all three people who will read this post of one thing: I understood the loss of my own mother perfectly well.

Being raised as a victim, continuing victimhood into the teen years, and knowing no other way of life, it is extremely difficult to simply “stop being” one.

The first step for me was realizing that I was a victim. Being abused in marriage seemed, to me, like a continuation of childhood. It wasn’t until I began seeking outside sources that I even realized that, “hey, I might actually be in an abusive relationship and this is not right”.

Once I realized it, I had to process it and that took a while because I ended up reassessing my entire life to understand that the things people said to me and some of the ways I was treated ended up reshaping my entire life-script to something I never intended.

Then and only then could I get help from other sources. The most important thing was that I helped myself.

I left, and not only did I leave, later, after years of healing, I decided to flip that script. I chose to allow my experiences to empower me to bring my story to anyone who feel led to listen to it.

This sense of personal power didn’t come overnight. It wasn’t a switch I made a choice to flip.

It came from hard work, persistence, and great inner-courage.

I wish that the same people who make the comment, “Stop being a victim”. Would offer advice on how. Have you ever asked someone who said that to you how to simply “stop”? Try it sometime. Not one of them can give you a comprehensive answer.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2012. I believe that I’ve managed to heal it well. However, there are certain places I continue to avoid. I ask myself this, “is it absolutely necessary that I go here”?

If the answer is ‘no’, I decide it’s not a fight that serves my higher interest. Maybe I’m wrong, but I, like every survivor, am doing the best I can with the tools I have.

I also disagree that being abused in any way is a choice a person consciously makes.

Maybe you’re an atheist, or maybe you believe in entities like angels. That’s fine–not that you need my approval. But I believe angels exist. I think they come to earth–sometimes in human form; each time I give a few dollars to someone who’s homeless and they thank me. I thank them right back for that light in their eyes when they meet my own–it’s that spark that seems to warm my heart the rest of the day.

I also think that if angels can be here, on earth, in human form, so can demons. the Dalai Lama once said, “Nothing is as it seems”. One hundred percent truth, right there.

I remember when my abuser was going into a rage, his eyes would turn into these black, almost button-like disks. I could see deep red and black all around him. I truly wonder if he was human. Could it be that demons masquerade as people?

I would answer a resounding “yes”. If angels can, why can’t the demonic?

Scary thing. Right?

Maybe I’m wrong for “demonizing”. Perhaps that is “over the top”, but I just don’t believe that actions that are highly abusive should be qualified as human. I think that the word can be as literal or as metaphorical as one would like it to be.

So, this is all that this poster prompted me to ponder today.

I don’t believe that there’s a timeframe on personal healing. I also don’t think that those who are trying to heal are “negative people”. I see them as genuine–real life human beings having genuine, hurtful experiences and coping and moving forward the best they can.

And I would say to the people who think otherwise–those who continue to perpetuate misunderstandings no matter how well-intended, the ones who say “Why don’t you just get over it”?

I’d ask those people the same thing: Why don’t you?

Stop judging. If you can’t care about that situation–move on. Don’t speak on personal experiences you have not had.

If you are working to heal just know it is possible. You are so very allowed to work on yourself at your pace and in your own time–realize that for yourself…again, you certainly don’t need mine or anyone else’s permission.

You can do this! I promise!

Peace and Love,

Erin   patch stars

 

 

Suburban Dream

Suburban Dream Blog

Suburbia is a nap.

Not an early evening nap that fades to night and eases into the next morning,

but one of those thirty minute cat naps after which the sleeper jolts awake

in a state of confusion and spends the remainder of the slow,

technicolor day disoriented

like ordering a plate of chicken fingers at a five-star steakhouse.

Chicken fingers–no spicy mustard. Suburbia is not spicy mustard; rather,

an afternoon montage of reminiscing over a full sink of dishes and a screaming toddler–

hold that thought, the housekeeper took care of that and the preschooler’s in daycare

is a trend. The summation of which is best juxtaposed to a chain store…

at the mall…

the morning the store dispenses the twenty percent off coupon…

after all, Gucci is expensive.

Welcome to the suburbs, where cliquing it is a sure bet to a ticket to Bunko night,

with clouds, but no rain–

there’s water sprinklers that turn on right after the recycling is sat on the curb

painted in eggshell–an eggshell colored curb to match redundant, cardboard houses…

bored is the right word,

gray-colored boredom behind

house after house,

row after row,

cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac,

week after week,

day after day,

hour after hour,

minute after minute,

second after

How to Never Lose Again

Loser Blog.jpg

To me, contests used to be near ulcer inducing. A nuclear war so explosive that even a simple raffle could knot my stomach worse than the old box of costume jewelry I pulled out of the garage during my plight to simplify my life through the disposal of things that were no longer serving me.

Over time, I resigned myself to watching contests from afar, hesitant to enter because of the fear of losing. I already allowed other people in my life to make me believe I was loser enough, I didn’t need an incorrect ticket number or an erroneous answer during trivia to cause me to feel worse–Just a portion of my power I have taken back throughout the years.

When I started writing a few years ago, I had a friend who was just a bit more than persistent about me entering some work into online creative writing contests. Okay, fine, to be honest, she could be best juxtaposed to a mall kiosk worker selling overpriced hand lotion.

But she wasn’t selling anything. She believed in me enough to send gentle “reminders” several times a day…consistently…for a week, maybe two…about entering certain writing contests.

Eventually, I caved. No, I didn’t purchase supposedly imported hand creams guaranteed to change my life in two minutes flat. With a shaky hand and elevated blood pressure, I hit “send” on the first submission of many to a writing contest.

What if the judges laughed at it? What if no one understands it–as many often don’t quite understand my writing style? 

The possibilities that spun through my head were as relentless as traffic on 95 south at five ‘o clock on Friday evening.

BUT…But, there was hope.

I’m grateful for this experience because it led me to develop an completely new mindset of what failure is and what failure is not.

I was able to shift my mindset. Not placing in a contest isn’t losing if I’m putting everything I have into that piece.

In other words, when I am creating, I give all the energy, life, and creativity to that specific work. I have it edited and beta read. I adhere to ALL of the submission guidelines and check for easily-missed typos and errors.

The best pieces of my energy go into each and every piece of writing I submit–created, polished, and edited, to the absolute best of my ability so that when I push the “submit” button, I know, without a doubt, that I gave everything within my current skill set to that writing.

In the end, if the judges, if the world does not believe it suits them, I can shrug and say, “well, I gave all I possibly could.”

I started applying this to every part of my life. This, “give the very best that I can in the status quo of life.”

Admittedly, some days, that’s not very much, but it’s everything I have, and that’s good enough.

I wish we judged everything like that, especially during times like test taking. Is it really the “A” we’re so concerned about? The “coveted” Holy Grail known as the “honor roll”?

What if instead of pressing for specific grades we simply instilled into children that when the pencil goes down and that test paper is turned in, there was someone standing by the door and asking if there was anything they could’ve done better. If they say no with one hundred percent honesty, then no grade they could ever get would be a failure.

A lot of people, myself once included, need to change perceptions and ideas of what failure and losing is.

I believe we lose if we fail to give a project our all. And if that is the case, then maybe we should question whether we truly valued that or not. Maybe that’s an area in which reevaluation would serve us well.

By the way, I placed second in that contest…

Until Next Time,

Peace and Love,

Erin

 

 

Who’s Life is it Anyway?

Whos Life Anyway Blog

 

Sometimes—oh, who am I kidding—most of the time, when you you make life choices that are fulfilling to you, there will be people in your life who feel “hurt” or “angry”.

See, it’s like before you are born or even while you’re still a baby, those individuals orchestrate their own idea of what your life path should be. Then, throughout your life, they do everything to support you as long as you emulate their projected version of you.

Now, sometimes this works out, and in rare instances once you embrace your true life path, those same people will be “gracious” about bending their projections of you to assist you in becoming the best version of yourself and embracing your life’s purpose.

More often than not, this is not the case. And when you find yourself unsupported by those in your life that should be there for you most, the primary thing you must realize is that their feelings have absolutely nothing to do with your actions and everything to do with places those people must heal within themselves.

People who truly care for and love you will make a choice to heal and also move forward in their lives. They will be happy for you.

However, when a person continues to live in a bitter headspace, that negativity remains stagnant—like a swamp riddled with mosquitos.

Does it ever make you stand around and wonder, “who’s life is it, anyway?”

Realize, a lot of things a person might say to you in that moment of toxicity come from your “failure” to meet the “criteria” that they have projected upon you—failing to fulfill in them what they have never been able to fulfill within themselves.

Those people can see their shortcomings in life, but rather than change them or find a way to heal or to become whole within themselves, they have to steal pieces of you. Yes, steal…at least, I consider it stealing because they are robbing from your life to piece together their own perception of failures in life.

Of course, failure in and of itself is all perspective…can you guess what tomorrow’s post will be about?

And second, revenge—if that person feels as though you have “wronged” them by acting out in your highest good and sense of purpose—they will retaliate with below the belt comments that are unfounded and can be hurtful.

This can come to a point of downright emotional, verbal, and sometimes physical abuse. Take note: Endure none of this! I know, easier said than done. Realize that their act of lashing out at you has absolutely nothing to do with you or your actions. They are simply expressing their own fear of aspects of themselves.

This is why it is so important to take a personal inventory when you feel threatened about a quality that you dislike in someone else.

At any rate, if someone is demeaning you don’t stand there and digest the negative energy they throw at you just because somehow they’ve made you feel that you deserve it. You don’t. You never did.

Never allow another person’s choice to remain bitter, full of fear, and unfulfilled hold you back from embracing the truest, most honest and rewarding version of yourself.

Just my two cents.

Until Next Time,

Peace and Love

Star Medicine

StarSky

Confession: I try too hard.

Other Confession: I’m a wee bit taken aback that I began a blog post with “Confession”. But, I did. So…

Growing up in the rural area of southwest Missouri, I spent a lot of summers watching the evening begin with a few stars speckled throughout the sky like a rainy day connect-the-dot game.

As the cadence of crickets crescendoed–along with ravenous mosquitos–the sparkling dots in the sky thickened. With hardly any lights to drown them out, layer after layer, appeared.

The stars–

those glitter-drops of angelic magic beckoned to me–telling me secrets of peace and healing, promising me that everything, indeed, would someday work out to my highest good.

Often, I would lay in that empty lot next to my childhood home and ask the lighting bugs if they, too, were stars–tiny floating fairies or angels, coming to earth the promenade in the humid Midwestern night.

Those opalescent, brilliant hints of mystery were the source of healing, laughter, and positivity.

So, when I say I try too hard, I suppose it’s because sometimes–I won’t lie…most of the time I believe I don’t do enough. And it’s those times when I start to overdo it. I pay so much attention to others and trying to help them, that I neglect myself.

Essentially, I lose the balance between lending a hand and taking time to work on myself.

So what was the answer?

One night in meditation, I heard exactly what I needed to hear: The stars don’t try to be. They simply are.

In other words, stars don’t necessarily go out of their way. For eons, they have been beacons for healing, guidance, wisdom, and knowledge. They have inspired iconic paintings and caused words to stream like the embrace of eternal lovers.

And they have never, ever tried.

What I have learned from this on my journey is to simply shine from where I am. stop trying and just be. Just know that I am enough exactly the way I am–hell, who am I kidding? I am more than enough.

I am so much more than enough I am just a super-sparkly firework bowl of unicorn Lucky Charms, and that is spectacular!

Stop trying, just be.

After all, we are human beings…

Peace and Love Until Next Time.