A best effort…

snoopyOh sod it. I can’t seem to complete a proper post to save my life. Okay, that’s a gross over-statement because my existence is not in jeopardy over my blog. If indeed it were, I betcha I could get something written pretty darn fast which suggests I work better under threat of a deadline – either real or self-imposed. My fragile ego (you’re welcome to substitute self-esteem if you like) however, is struggling. How the hell can I call myself a writer if I’m not writing? Seriously. My book sits alone and untouched (much like me) and I’ve a pile (on my desktop) of half-stories waiting for “The End”. The worst of it all is that I’m not 30 or even 40 anymore. I’m not even 50 and cannot afford to putter around and waste my precious time. Damn it. See, my ego is losing its grip.

But as I ponder, I realise it’s not time that I’m wasting. Time’s only a construct. I feel I’m wasting myself, and a life is a terrible thing to waste, yes?

I’ve not wasted my life entirely, of course. It feels the last few years have been a bit hit and miss certainly, but self-pity tends to favour extremes. Because I don’t care to exaggerate my circumstances, however, I will take this idea that I’m wasting myself as a nudge to get off me arse and do something – anything – to reignite my passion for writing. That passion will reenergise me and rid me of my more natural – and well-rehearsed I will add – inclinations to self-pity. But, how do I do that?

Well, I’m not sure but oddly, relaxing about it all seems a good idea, along with the most important step – showing up.

I’ve a long habit of moving away from an issue. This time, I want to stay. Writing is harder than singing was. Singing came easy and while I was too proud and stubborn to study it, I practiced and loved it always. Writing requires more effort because I denied it for most of my life. It needs patience and considerable nurturing as a result, but I want to give it my best.

So, my wish tonight is for “best efforts”. This world, and all we see in it, is nothing short of miraculous. Our hearts alone are beyond our understanding. For most, they beat without any intervention asking only that we take care of ourselves. Are we meant to toil and struggle to do our best? If our hearts are any example, and I think they are, no. Instead, we are probably meant to respectfully walk toward what would be for each of us, our best effort. Often, the toil and struggle comes from pushing against what comes naturally. I think I’d like to ease up and simply put my best efforts into this world. I’ll just follow my heart’s example.

Until tomorrow…

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I can change…

Change.jpgWhen you wake up tired in spite of getting the obligatory eight hours, it’s never a good sign. Can stress interrupt rest? Makes sense. Other things surely do it, but for me, it’s mainly my old friend and long suffering companion, depression. It seems the cold I’ve been playing tag with has chosen to weight the odds in its favour by inviting the black dog into the game. Old story. No surprises. All I can do is watch from the side-lines like a bored soccer mom.

There’s a bunch of research coming out of the psychology community these days which suggests rewriting stories is a way to rise above certain mental ‘illnesses’. A new narrative helps reframe how a trauma is viewed. I like the idea because it’s what I’ve done forever. Being Irish, I fit the stereotypical maudlin embellisher of fact. There’s no story that cannot be tweaked for the sake of dramatic impact, but, I don’t think making events worse in the retelling is quite what scientists have in mind. No, I’m pretty sure they want the story refreshed with balms and tinctures meant to heal.

For a writer, that’s a tall order. How do I create readable stories of interest without blood and guts, trickery and betrayal? I cannot, but do not need to. These are my stories so I can revisit my history and use different words to describe it. I can turn myself into the heroine instead of the victim. I can talk of wins rather than defeats. My entire narrative can become one of gratitude for every single thing in my life even if, in this current moment, the mere concept of gratefulness hurts.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am grateful for my heart and lungs, my hands and eyes. I am so very thankful to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes to cover my bits and pieces (especially those saggy, wrinkly bits). I revere my feeling body that warms to the sun’s kiss, shivers in the cold, and makes gooseflesh when startled. No, do not misunderstand me when I tell you I am distanced from gratitude by thinking I have become ungrateful. It’s simply that depression removes certain abilities, one being the ability to feel.

Now, that might come as a shock to many of you who think depressives wander about feeling too much, all of it lousy and negative, of course. Certainly, that can be true for some, but not for all. I can’t possibly find a big enough brush to paint every single person, and do not want to try, however, in order to survive, some of us become numb. Furthermore, it’s the best we can do, and, guess what? It’s perfectly okay. We will feel again.

So how can telling a new story help? In my case, a disturbed mind prefers the devil it knows. Major, or chronic depressive episodes are cumulative and become deeply entrenched in a body that does not forget them no matter what the mind says, either. Does that make the change-mountain too high to climb?

I think the answer lies in this quote from George Bernard Shaw. “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” I realise his original meaning was not meant to fit with what I’m talking about here, and yet, it does fit beautifully, for if I let my mind and body tell me I cannot change, then indeed, nothing will change. If I tell a story of learning and accomplishments, of a thoughtful and deeply caring mind, at first it will be perceived as pure fiction until, over time, with much repetition, it will become real. My history will not be one of failure and insanity, but rather it will be one of profound experiences and much prevailing.

So, here’s to new stories filled with positive adornments, love given and returned, wounds healed, and lessons learned. It will take time but I believe I can change my mind.

Wishing you all, once again, beautiful words like “I love you.” If you do not hear those words from another, say them to yourself with gusto. Then say them to another with even more gusto. Speak to the trees, speak to the chaos, speak to the homeless person you’re passing by. Tell one and all, “I Love YOU!” Those words might just change someone else’s mind. Better yet, it might help to change yours just where you need it the most. “I love you.”

Until tomorrow…

 

 

Surrender…

goodbyeHer eyes, once all sparkly like a mossy sea in sunshine, are dull, still clear but there’s no spark, little colour. Focussed on me, she wasn’t seeing me – not really.

“He’ll hate me more than ever if I go now, but I want to. I’m tired. I’m leaving such mess and am sorry about that but the longer I’m here the bigger the mess’ll get, so there’s no time like the present, I guess.”

Maybe one more day?

“No. I’ve had too many ‘one more days’ and they’ve made no difference. I’m getting further and further away from doing anything worthwhile.”

What’s worthwhile, anyway? It’s highly overrated, I think.

“No. It’s important to live with passion, express yourself. You know – do things that matter.”

And you haven’t done that?

“No.”

Would your kids agree?

“Their opinion of my life doesn’t matter. Any fool can have a baby, and some fools make better caretakers than others is all. Just like most things. Parents are a crazy invention. Families are okay, but we expect so much from parents now, and the kids, too. Who can live up to it? Whatever happened to the basics of care and nurture, encouragement and support? Now it’s all expectation and tossing guilt back and forth if things don’t work out. Work out for who? Nah, my failures have nothing to do with my kids. Neither do my successes. I made choices. They are doing the same. They are not infants and don’t need mother’s milk now. In the end, it’s always about making choices you think best for you really. Few of us are truly altruistic enough to give a rat’s ass about anybody but ourselves.”

Her eyes closed and a slow rhythmic breath told me she was sleeping. Her fingers, resting on my palm, were soon wet with my tears, tiny rivers flowing between the protruding blue veins. Please don’t go. Please don’t go. Please…

Oh, how the heart aches at unwanted goodbyes, breaching into the void hoping to alter its course. I loved her but knew it was her time. She was detaching and couldn’t find a way to connect back. Once she was filled with light, was audacious. Camps were drawn around her. She was loved and hated almost equally. But she was being honest when she said she’d failed. She had closed too many doors, walked away from too many chances, hidden away in fear. She was putting out her light. Her shame was not born of guilt though, it was of surrender. It was time for her to leave room for another, ‘try again if karma exists’ she said, or just wave the white flag and let the chips fall where they may.

“Did I upset you?”

No.

“Good. I loved my children with a love they will never understand because I did not express it well. I was too unconventional. That is my biggest regret, you know, that I did not love better. Perhaps next time.”

Do you believe there’ll be a next time?

“I’m not sure. I know I’m energy and particle moves on forever, but no, I’m not sure” she said, looking straight at me, then down.

“You’ve been crying.”

Please don’t go! I’ll scoop you up and hold you till you find a way! I’ll make it right. I’ll make it better, okay? I WILL DO ANYTHING! Please don’t go! PLEASE.

Yes.

“I love you if it matters, if it helps. I want you to know that.” Her other hand reached across and covered mine. I thought I would choke.

It matters. It matters. I love you, too. Does it help to say that?

“It is so lovely to hear such beautiful words,” she said softly. “Farewell…” was barely a whisper drowned out by the primal scream seething in me.

I wish you all the beautiful words, “I love you.”

Until tomorrow…

Longing…

longingA bit ago, I started a possible blog on the topic of longing and missing. In my case it was about my mother. Of course, because I knew her for such a short time, my feelings were more attached to a notion than a tangible memory. In other words, I was longing for and missing the idea of Mom. I didn’t finish that post, obviously, but the topic rose like a phoenix from within the ashes of another story today so I figured I’d best try again.

If you’re anything like me, your greatest revelations come when driving. Suddenly you’ve found the key to bringing about world peace, alleviating hunger, or eradicating global warming! Of course, by the time you get to a computer to begin fleshing out the thought, it is long gone. Anywho, I digress.

Because my phone needed a top up and I cannot pay online here, I had to drive the thirty minutes to the EE shop. Most of the time, I’ve the radio on despite reception being dicey. The scan button finally hit a station. The announcer was talking about the Catholic Church’s recent apology for pressuring women to give up their babies in the UK. This subject is a tightrope walk for me. Sometimes I can wobble my way through the commentary without falling, other times I’m not able to balance. When Martin Sixsmith started talking, I tumbled off the wire and fell so hard I had to pull over.

Martin Sixsmith wrote The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. I listened to him, weeping into the hands that shielded my face from traffic, all the while berating myself. Why does this still get to me? For god’s sake woman, get over it! You cannot be habitually tossed into agony over something you know nothing about! Except, I do know a little something about it and that’s the pisser.

My life and a lot of its fuck ups are summed up by Alexander Pope’s “A little learning is a dangerous thing…” I don’t believe I’m alone in that. I’ll bet many of you have rushed head long into one venture or another without learning enough about it only to realise your foolishness in hindsight. Problem for me is that I know enough of my origins to bemoan them, but not enough to recover from the sorrow. Hindsight has not taught me. It’s that simple. No matter how many times I forgive, allow, or accept, I cannot learn enough to fill the holes within.

Once recovered, I drove on, listening to Martin speak of Philomena and the Irish women taken advantage of. The young English mother being interviewed shared a tale of completion. Both guests were kind enough to mention the thousands of others for whom the door remains eternally open. I think I can speak for a few of them when I say there is a longing to close it.

I am not alone in my longing for something. Most of us at some point in our journey long for understanding and acceptance. Mostly, we all long for love. I believe it has been shown to me, given freely to me, and offered willingly to me, but the infant abandoned and left untouched for too long, could not return it. She was scorched and sore from wounds she could not learn how to heal.

Writing has been impossible for me these last few weeks. Thoughts roll around in my head, but I can’t bring myself to write them clearly. Some days I’m just too tired. I feel raw and thin-skinned, acknowledging only the hurt I have caused over a lifetime and wishing I could wave a wand and heal those hurts, including my own.

My wish for today is twofold. I wish for the magic that comes when we tell someone that we love them. You’ve heard it a hundred times, but I’m telling you again. Tell people how you feel. It takes only a second, but it can lighten a load, bolster a sagging spirit, and strengthen a heart. It can heal wounds when sincere. Yes, make sure it is sincere. And the second part of this wish, is to do something that shows the love you feel. Hold a hand, make a call, or drop by. Raise the spirits of that someone you love. You will feel wonderful and so will they.

Until tomorrow…