Yes, I Said This

Yesterday I went searching for a book I was planning to read as research for my ‘Intersections’ writing project. The book I was looking for was ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The book caused a stir a few years back when it was published because it was made out to be a guide for women in the corporate world. Well, I found a copy yesterday in a used bookstore but as I leafed through it and read a few pages here and there… I said to hell with this shit and put it down and didn’t buy it.

Women don’t have the time or the half-assed luxury of ‘leaning in’ anymore. Our democracy, our rights, and our lives are under heavy assault from right-wing religious nutcases and corporate-American assholes like never before. And besides, we tried that ‘lean in’ shit and did it work for us? Hell no.

Now I’m sure some lovely detractor will say I shouldn’t be ranting and raving here and burning my bra and all that crap. To those detractors I say this: Phyliss Schafly is dead and buried and you’re not bringing her back to life to kill the ERA because we’re past that shit now.

Yesterday I snapped inside as I realized why I’ve been avoiding my writing is that I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to write books that are more sad-and-sorry for myself than anything. I’m through with being sad-and-sorry for myself. I wrote something yesterday I haven’t posted yet because it’s still in rough-draft form but I danced around it for a few days until I figured out why. I danced around it because it could have turned into a sob-fest woe-is-me piece of limp bullshit, but instead it turned into a potential ass-kicker. It turned into an ass-kicker because I realized although I may not have done a lot of things most people have, it doesn’t mean I can’t do them going forward once we have a pandemic response team in the White House that actually knows what the fuck they’re doing.

What brought me into sad-and-sorry for myself territory was the death of Eddie Van Halen, one of the most talented and innovative guitarists of all time. Eddie’s music with his group Van Halen was the soundtrack to a lot of lives, and to a lot of hanging out and partying. That put me into sad-and-sorry territory because I don’t have those memories of hanging out and partying. There are a lot of reasons for that I’ll elaborate on in my book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ (and the piece I started yesterday was the beginning of that). But what took me out of sad-and-sorry was telling myself that going forward, I can make new memories. I can’t go back and relive the past but by the Goddess I can move forward and live my life and kick the living shit out of the over-protective voices that kept me from hanging out and partying like I should have.

Speaking about this, or in my case, writing about it was a challenge because it’s pretty revealing. But I figure with what I’m working on with my ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project why not go all the way? I mean, there isn’t some bullshit criticism that will be new to me when this goes public and since I’ve dealt with that all my life and am still standing, walking, and breathing, I’ll deal with it. Mostly I won’t acknowledge or engage with it, but if I have to I will stand up and quote Kamala Harris: “I’m speaking.” And I’ll say that especially if I get interrupted, or talked down to, or have someone come at me with well-intentioned bullshit intended to shut me up.

I’ve read a few self-help/memoire type books over the last few years but I’m glad I didn’t indulge in a steady diet of them. Because now when I pick one up and leaf through it, I’m putting it back down again. And that’s because I’m beginning to truly realize I know not only what I want to write, but how I want to write it. Best of all, I’m beginning to learn how to take my own advice.

I am telling myself now I am not going to get into sad-and-sorry for myself. I’m not going to tell myself I’m an unlovable and unworthy slob because I’ve been silent for so long and have a past without a lot of memories that most people have. If someone doesn’t like me for the way I’ve lived and the lack of experiences, they can go straight to Hell. And I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or come at me with pity, guilt, or remorse either. I keep telling myself now I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings and how to deal with them. I’m responsible for how I feel and deal with my emotions, and how I interact with the world. But if I’m not doing something wrong, and someone just doesn’t like that and tries to tell me I’m wrong and an unworthy fuck up, they can go to Hell.

I did manage to buy a few books yesterday instead of the one I set out to. One of them was ‘Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?’ by the late great Molly Ivins. I grew up reading her newspaper columns and cried hard when she died (#FuckCancer). I want to be like her and write and say instead: I not only can say that, I just did.

So say it, and live it. And don’t lean in, but bring your own folding chair to the table and take your place as the late great Shirly Chisolm once said.

Find Your Moments of Joy

All my life, I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut. Worse, I’ve been told not only to do that, but go away and stay away. And worst of all, I’ve been told I have no right to talk at all because I’m full of shit and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

It’s just taken me a lot of years to realize that silence is the tool of the oppressor. And that oppressor isn’t just the court of public opinion and random assholes in this world, but of people in your life. The people in your life are the well-meaning ones who think because they’re in your life they have the right to dump on you and that you just have to sit in silence and take their shit.

This is why I keep myself to myself, so to speak. But this isn’t about me, though. This is about good, kind, loving, and generous people I know who feel like they can’t be as open about their lives as they would like to be. They feel like they can’t share their joys and successes without getting shit all over.

First, I celebrate and feel an enormous surge of happiness at seeing other people happy and successful in their lives. Especially people I know who are good people, people are successful and happy because they not only work hard, but they have faith, hope, and love in their lives.

But I will say this now to anyone reading this: if you have ever shit all over someone for their joy or success… ask yourself why. And keeping asking yourself that question until you find all the answers you can. Then have a very serious talk with your conscience and whatever God you believe in. Then in the end, don’t ask for forgiveness because that won’t take away the pain you’ve caused. Instead, make a conscious decision to be a better person going forward. And maybe then, you’ll earn a tiny bit of the trust and good faith that you tried to destroy with your thoughtless and cruel words and behavior.

During the worst times of my life when I was watching my parents die slowly and painfully, I still managed to find tiny bits of joy and happiness in each day. I worked my fucking ass off to hide all expression of emotion during those times, to try and keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. And not just because I felt like no one wanted to hear me or be with me at all, but because when my guard did slip, it didn’t go well. And I will not excuse shitty behavior, or minimize it in any way by saying people are just thoughtless and have their heads up their asses and spew diarrhea of the mouth. And I won’t take all the blame by saying I turned into a cold-faced bitch just to get through those times. Because I shouldn’t have had to be like that in the first place.

This isn’t easy for me to write because I’m not shuddering in fear inside myself now. I’m shuddering in barely-restrained anger and rage at people who hurt other people because they choose to. And I’m shuddering inside with an aching pain for good people who have been hurt by this cruelty. So to those who I rage and ache for I say this:


You have every right to your thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And you have every right to deal with them in any way you choose to, and you have every right to express them in any way you choose to (or not to).

Also, as my father used to say to me: you have every right to be happy. You don’t have to walk around feeling sad and sorry for yourself. And if someone doesn’t like and gets butt-hurt if you tell them off for their shit, remember you are NOT someone’s hemorrhoid cream. You have the right to tell them off and walk away from them. You don’t have suffer assholes if you don’t have to.

I was reminded of this last night after I read a devastating New York Times article on the child separation policy and how it was rammed through so damn hard because the cruelty was the intent all along. I shuddered and cried inside thinking I didn’t have that in me to do so. But I know it meant that I am still human, and that I can still feel enormous grief and pain over this suffering. And that I can feel enormous rage and anger at the monsters who are doing this. But as my father also used to say, you can’t run on anger forever.

So eventually my emotional storm subsided and I got up to wash dishes and get ready for bed. When I do that I put my headphones on and listen to some music. I found the Rolling Stones new release from their ‘Steel Wheels’ tour and was surprised to see some tracks on that album of songs I didn’t know they had done live before (‘Undercover of the Night’ and ‘Harlem Shuffle’). So I cranked it up and pretended I was backing the boys as I did my stuff before bedtime. Yes, that made me feel better and I refuse to apologize or take shit for that.

Don’t ever lose those moments of joy because life is both good and bad. The world is out of balance right now but we can get that balance back if we’re strong and true to ourselves and are good to each other.

Celebrate Life

I do not celebrate or wish death, pain, or suffering on anyone, including anyone who has caused that to happen to others. I say this because I believe that celebrating or wishing will not change the person who delivers death, pain, and suffering onto others. I think we have to live our lives with kindness and compassion, and not to become like the people who their lives with cruelty and  malice to others.

Why do I say this?

I say this because someone who has acted with cruelty and malice towards others won’t change just because they’re suffering now. There are people who have suffered painfully with the very things they have denied and fought against and who haven’t changed one damn bit for the better. People only change if they choose to. If someone feels shame, guilt, regret, and remorse for their cruelty and malice they have one of two options: accept those feelings and try to live without being cruel to others, or deny those feelings altogether and go on being the cruel and malicious monsters they are. People who need to feel shame, guilt, regret, and remorse and use it to make amends and learn how to live without cruelty and malice very rarely, if ever, change. Why? That’s a question for them to answer, not you or me.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been going through a lot of my thoughts and feelings about things like empathy and forgiveness because of a major event that’s happened (the super-spreader COVID-19 event at the White House Rose Garden last week that has the President in the hospital). The reason for the waterfall of thoughts and feelings is there are calls to show empathy to those diagnosed and being treated despite the fact they denied, minimized, and demonized those who have had it, died from it, and are trying to prevent the spread of it. For many people who have lost loved ones to this awful pandemic or have survived it, or have had loved ones who survived it, these last few days have been a huge battle for them. The talons of pain and grief are sharper and deeper than ever. So in my definitely not-so-humble opinion here, they don’t owe anyone who dug those talons into them things like empathy and compassion, or most of all, forgiveness.

I’ve said forgiveness is when you remove talons that someone else sunk into you. You do that by facing that pain and learning how to live with the memory of it for the rest of your life, and knowing there are no words or actions that will ever take it all away. And if someone feels shame, guilt, regret, and remorse over what they did to you, that’s for them to deal with, not you. For those of us who have been hurt because of something we didn’t do wrong, we have to learn how to let go of our shame, guilt, regret, and remorse that we shouldn’t have felt at all.

I believe in free will and that each person can choose how to live their lives. I’ve thought a lot over the last few years about how to live my life and what I believe in. I work hard not to sink into the pit of despair and anxiety. I work hard to tell myself I’m not a worthless piece of shit-human who will never fully be a part of anything or anyone’s life. Being such a quiet loner is something I have to deal with on my own. But it doesn’t mean I can’t believe in the ideals that I do have and try to integrate them into my daily life as much as possible. Feeling things can be total fucking hell sometimes. But I wouldn’t stop doing that for anyone or anything, even if it makes people want to lash out and hurt me. My relative isolation is a shield against most of that now.

If someone is in pain but is still living without compassion or empathy for others, I believe you can be kind to them without denying their cruelty and malice. You can be the better person in not hurting them in return, in caring for them. You can do this because this is what it means to live without cruelty or malice in your life. But if you can, I also believe you have the choice of walking away, too. And I believe you have the choice of not fully engaging emotionally, either. I don’t believe you have to open yourself up to more pain if you can’t walk away, or if you choose not to do that.

But I will say this: it’s not easy to walk away, or live in relative isolation, or not fully open yourself up. This is something I deal with even after I have removed those sharp talons of pain from my heart and soul. And why it takes me so long sometimes to find peace, happiness, and joy sometimes.

So I say celebrate life, celebrate the good in this world even though you will never, ever forget pain and suffering. Don’t let go of the good in this world, and in yourself most of all.

Confidence Is Attractive

Confidence is attractive, even if I’m not.

Okay, now that I’ve got your attention let me elaborate on this further.

All of my life I have never had any real confidence in myself or in my abilities. I was told as far back as I can remember that I was smart and clever, and good at figuring things out for myself. But if I expressed what could be termed ‘confidence’ in myself and my abilities… well that’s where the trouble began. For me, I think that trouble came from the fact that when I broke my silence, it didn’t always go well. For as far back as I can remember, my shyness was seen as me being a stuck-up little snot-faced bitch. And being told that right to my face, in high-volume and very colorful language sometimes.

Shy people are not stuck-up. Stuck-up assholes are not shy in any way, shape, or form but in order to try and not be seen this way, they deflect onto people who are shy. As a shy person I can tell you my shyness is mostly based on fear of being hurt, humiliated, and hated. And when assholes deflect their lack of conscience and empathy onto you, it tears at your most vulnerable emotions because you’re not without empathy and conscience. But with empathy and conscience you feel all emotions, good and bad, at a very intense level. This in turn destroys any self-confidence because I believe true self-confidence comes from feeling emotions and choosing to lead your life based on empathy and conscience.

But self-confidence doesn’t mean blind ego, either. It doesn’t mean you get to blind yourself to your flaws, or to shit happening, or in the face of not knowing something. I’ve been looking for balance in my life with this, a balance between being confident in what I do and how I do it while at the same time admitting and accepting my vulnerabilities. Most of all, I want to have this balance and be able to put up a shield against the shit-talking confidence-vampires in this world.

So how am I doing at this?

Well, there’s always room for improvement

Right now, I start with taking a deep breath and get my racing heart and mind under control. I keep breathing deeply until my heart doesn’t feel like it’s pounding and my body doesn’t feel like it’s a tightly-strung set of piano wires. I tell myself ‘I’ve got this’ even if I don’t exactly know how I will get ‘this’. I tell myself no one has all the answers or knows what the future holds, and if they say they do I can call them an asshole in my mind.

Now where I see room for improvement is in being more open emotionally to people. Right now, I give new meaning to the term ‘keeping myself to myself’. I wish I interacted with people more than I do but I have no self-confidence in my ability to be social and friendly on anything more than a basic level of kindness. I have probably shared more with my writing than in person or any other social interaction and that makes me feel like a total weirdo at times. But I also tell myself I’m a writer and an Uber driver so my free time is a bit limited.

To my readers here I want to say this:

Breathe. Keep breathing until your heart isn’t pounding and your body isn’t tense like piano wire. Feel your mind clear and see the world in front of you come into focus.

Tell yourself, “I got this.” Then take things one step at a time, one task at a time. Take the day one hour at a time, one minute at a time if you have to.

Most of all, know that true self-confidence isn’t blind-ego. It’s a belief not only in yourself and what you can do, but that you can do the things you have to do, and want to do, and live your life to the fullest, including with all of your emotions.

And as I said yesterday, no one can take away your feelings even if they say they can, or if it feels like they have. This is why it’s said that self-confidence comes from within you because it’s something that’s already there. And all you have to do is believe in it, and remember that it can’t be taken from you.

The Self-Confidence of a $20 Tip

One Sunday afternoon I went to pick up a ride (I’m an Uber driver for the uninitiated here) from a sports bar. Guy got in with a big bag of food and he was real friendly though I could tell he’d had a few drinks. We didn’t have far to go but I had the radio on and he said turn it up and I did and we started singing along to what was playing, “Do Ya” by the Electric Light Orchestra. Then after that song was over, I heard the opening chords to the next one and with a self-confidence I rarely, if ever exhibit, I said:

“Oh, I got this.”

The song was ‘I Touch Myself’ by The Divinyls. If you’ve heard the song you know it’s pretty hot though with no bad words so it can be played on the radio. So I start singing along and my voice is doing pretty well and yes, I was driving at the same time. Then we got to his house and we’re still jamming along to the song but just before the break comes in, he suddenly goes, “Oh shit!”. Then he slaps something into my hand, grabs his bag of food, and gets out of my car and runs up to his house. I open my hand to see what he’d slapped into it and it was a $20 bill. Yes, I got a $20 tip on a $5 fare just for singing a song with a confidence that was like a glitch in the Matrix for me.

Yet as I look back on that moment now, I’m beginning to think I should have this confidence in myself so much more than I do. This in turn begs the question: why have I never had any confidence in myself or my abilities?

I could answer that it’s a long story and give you the highlight-reel. Instead, I’m going to take a different direction on my answer and talk about something I’ve been reading about for a few years now.

A few years back I read about ‘imposter syndrome’. My summary of it is when you feel like you’re just acting like you know what you’re doing when you really don’t and that eventually people will find out and throw you into the pit of despair to be eaten by giant swamp rats. This feeling is caused by a lack of self-confidence in your abilities and knowledge and it does have long and twisting roots that can be hard to work through. For a long time, I was puzzled by this explanation because I always felt like I never knew what I was doing and that people knew it and felt sorry for me and that sooner or later I would end up in the pit of despair.

I think the bigger question here is why do we feel like this? I mean, the assholes of this world, most of whom really don’t know what the fuck they’re doing at all sure as hell don’t suffer from this awful feeling. But these are the same assholes who will try and pick at your self-confidence so you’ll slink away or just shut the fuck up and let them run wild as assholes. I think this is why so many awful people get away with so much fucking shit and it has got to stop.

Yesterday I had a thought come into my mind: I’m so freaking tired of having a mini anxiety-attack over the smallest shit. I know it’s just my slightly screwed-up brain chemistry being improperly conditioned to this response. But I also realize a lot of my anxiety comes from a lack of self-confidence. I do know what I’m doing a lot of the time, and that I can think on my feet and react accordingly if I have to. And most of all, I know there’s nothing wrong with that. And best of all, if someone ever decides to mouth off at me about this and say I’m an ego-centric bitch I can be all Zen-calm like The Dude and say, “Yeah, well, like, that’s your opinion, man.” Or be more like The Dude’s friend Walter and tell them to shut the fuck up. (last two sentences reference the movie, ‘The Big Lebowski’ if you don’t know what I’m talking about)

So my message to anyone reading this here is: have confidence in yourself and what you can do and learn, and don’t let anyone shit all over it and try and take that from you. Self-confidence is not something that can be taken from you despite what you might think. And if someone doesn’t like that, they can go to Hell for all I care. Because no matter what you do, whether it’s making a damn good cup of coffee, dressing and feeding yourself, driving your car without causing an accident, or programming a computer not to blow up the world, do it well and do with a confidence that you will hold on to no matter what some asshole says or does to you otherwise.

Live your life like you know all the words to a really hot song and you can sing it with a pretty good voice. And maybe just maybe, the world will give you a version of a $20 tip.

The Mindset of Hope

The phrase ‘changing your mindset’ came to me this morning and I know why. It’s what I’ve been trying to do for so long, for the last four years really. It’s not just trying to figure out why I think and feel the way I do, but how to change the ways I think and feel that aren’t working. And I will say this right here and now: that is one hell of a lot easier said than done.

The human mind is pretty adaptable but at the same time, it sure does like structure. Yet I have learned that structure can come from thinking you can’t change things in your mind. Well, you can’t do it in an instant despite having moments that feel like huge snaps in your mind. Those snaps are sharp and bright, but they’re just the beginning of change if you decide to pursue that change.

Repetition is a large part of how the human mind adapts and creates structure at the same time. When you hear something often enough you mind begins to put it into the structure, into your thought processes and emotional responses. It’s why it can take so long to change the way you think and feel because you have to create a new repetitive pattern. I know this because I am working on telling myself as often as I can what I need to hear and believe, and not what I’ve heard and believed before.

Humans for the most part are creatures of habit. We like order and structure and dependability. Yet when that order and structure is blown to hell dependability goes right along with it. And that loss of dependability is the hardest blow to recover from. I know through my own life experience nothing lasts forever, and that things don’t stay the same forever. It’s learning how to adapt while mourning that loss that makes life hard sometimes.

So do you deal with this adapting and mourning at the same time?

One way is to understand the Universe likes balance and it doesn’t matter if the balance is good and bad, or dealing with pain while moving on with life. We spend so much time running from pain so to stop and face pain, to face the fear behind the pain is a hard part of living. But it can be done, one breathe, one moment, and one day at a time.

Right now as you can read, I’m talking to myself here, thinking on screen with words. What I’m trying to work through and share here is this: I know I have a lot to do in order to get to where I want to be. And because of my past, my first thoughts and feelings are fears of what can go wrong. I’m working to change that mindset to instead tell myself I can get help and work through any problems that do come up. I have to tell myself if someone gives me shit for asking for help I can walk away from them or if I can’t do that, tell them take their shit and shove it where the sun don’t shine. But I know in my experience those assholes are in the minority, a very small minority. The vast majority of people in this world do give a shit despite being worn down pretty hard sometimes.

Okay, I slid into the raunchy part of this but sometimes I have to call it like I see it. Most of all, I want to say we can also help ourselves by breathing through fear and anxiety as it surfaces with us time and time again. Meditation isn’t about finding calm and magically solving all your problems. It’s about clearing out the bullshit and noise to find solutions to your problems.

I share this here not just for myself to see and hear, but for others. I know there many other people like me who are just trying to survive. I know a lot of people are in a world of shit as my late father used to say and we all need to know we’re not alone. For I believe in the deepest depths of pain and despair, there is hope. It might be very tiny and hard to see and feel but if you’re alive and breathing, you’ll feel it.

I believe hope is what truly guides us as human beings. I really believe that’s what makes the world a better place. I believe it’s what makes life good and bright. This is the mindset I’m always working to live by, the mindset of hope.

Let the Rabbit Go

Okay, today’s blog title refers to something I call, “pulling a rabbit out of my ass one more time.” What this means is that I get into some financial jam due to some bullshit foul-up that’s not my fault or something unexpected comes across home plate and hits me in the head. Now, I can’t prevent either one from ever happening but going forward I am hell-bent and determined to be better able to field these foul-ups once and for all.

Here’s the thing with me: when it comes to money I have never felt like I was any good at managing it, and that I never would be able to.

Why?

That’s a bit complicated as I’m fond of saying.

I’ve read that a person’s initial money management skills come from their parents. My parents worked their asses off but I hate to say this, they weren’t perfect at managing money. They weren’t big savers because they had a precognizant awareness that they weren’t going to make it to retirement age and be retired old farts. They were right but for me that doesn’t let them off the hook completely. And I know it’s hard to read about me talking about my dead parents like this but they know where I’m at if they’ve got a beef with me on this.

So when I started out on my own I was not one to save and just felt like I had to scramble. I’m tired of that shit and going forward I am going to my dead-level best to keep from having to scramble and pray if shit happens. My income may not be a perfect nine-to-five wage job but I know what I can earn doing it. Second, I’m going to work my ass off to pay down shit once and for all. Third, I am going to save because I want a damn cushion under my ass, Finally, I have goals I want to accomplish and I am going to accomplish them.

Now, why the hell-bent determination here?

Simple. Assholes. Assholes who’ve told me I’ll never make it and that the deck will always be stacked against me because this world is a shitty place.

My response to that: “I’ve known that since I could remember getting knocked on my ass the first time in my life some forty-odd years ago.”

And each time I picked myself up off the ground and kept going. But I went along with my head held down waiting for that next kick and ready to apologize for it.

I’m not apologizing anymore for something I didn’t do wrong.

Second, I want anyone reading this to know you don’t have to apologize for getting up off the deck and not wanting to be kicked down there just because some asshole thinks they can do that to you. Don’t let assholes tell you that you can’t do something you want to do. Just because someone runs their fucking mouth doesn’t mean you have to listen to them and do what they tell you, even if they’re in a position of authority. Respect for authority is earned, and if someone isn’t earning that then don’t give it to them.

To anyone reading this I want to you to know if you are not causing harm to anyone or anything, you’re doing just fine. And if someone doesn’t like that, I don’t give a fuck who they are, to hell with them. It’s scary standing up to assholes in this world but as my father used to say, fear is what keeps you from stepping the path of an oncoming bus. I say don’t let fear keep you from getting on the bus to get to where you need to go, or want to go.

I know most of us aren’t given a lot to work with. That’s just life and I’ve never expected a lot to begin with. But to say that you can’t make something work at all is wrong. That is a lie so full of bullshit you can almost choke on it from a mile off.

Don’t let bullshit do that to you. Stand up to it in your own way. That way can be with your head held high and your words strong and true. Or with your held high and moving along on your own path. Either way will work just fine.

I’m sharing this here because I honestly don’t think I’m the only one who needs to hear this. And this isn’t a verbal ass-chewing either. It’s a statement of fact, strength, support, and encouragement. These are the things we really need in this world. We don’t need naysaying ignorant, hateful bullshit anymore.

The time has come. And the choice is yours so make it a good one.

Don’t Apologize For Your Existence

Now that I have your attention with today’s blog title, let me tell you where it comes from.

For more years than I ever want to remember, in the depths of my despair I used to scream in my mind: “I apologize for my entire existence!” This was a scream born of rage and pain and never said out loud until now. And before yesterday, this thought hadn’t come to me in a long time. But yesterday morning as I laid curled up in bed shivering under the covers in the dark, I said those words in my mind. Not in a raging scream, but in a flat monotone that told me one thing:

I have truly begun to believe I am not a bad person for making mistakes even if this thought creeps into my mind. I used to think whenever I made a mistake or asked for help that those actions wiped out every single good thing I had ever done in my life. Yes, I felt like I was totally wrong in asking for help or just opening up myself to others.

Why?

Because I wasn’t always treated well when I did ask for help or try to open up emotionally. I know I wasn’t responsible for other people’s cruelty or lack of sensitivity but for so many years, I thought I was. I internalized cruelty and insensitivity so badly I became terrified to open up and ask for help. I know many people feel this way because on one hand we’re told to be resilient and independent, and on the other hand we realize we’re not always able to do everything for ourselves.

But this doesn’t mean your existence itself is meaningless.

It’s not.

You are not a nameless, faceless nobody who is not worthy of any kindness or compassion just because you’re human and you make mistakes.

You are a human being and you deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion. You deserve to be helped if you ask and you are not a failure in asking for help at all.

This is something I told myself yesterday and it’s what got me out of bed ready to face down whatever the world was going to throw at me. Most of all, it made me realize once and for all I don’t need to apologize for my existence.

Despite my pain and despair, despite this thought, deep down inside myself I know I am worthy of my existence. I know my life has value and meaning and that I’m just human even as I make mistakes and screw up. But now I realize that people who are cruel and insensitive are not my responsibility to try and change, nor do I have to live my life according to their cruelty and insensitivity. Most of all, the vast majority of people in this world are good people, kind and compassionate and just trying to live their lives as best as possible with whatever they’re given to work with. And right now, we don’t have a lot to work with sometimes.

I believe in the higher power of God. I look to the teachings of Jesus Christ to learn and understand unconditional love and compassion for others. I tell myself it’s okay to feel unsteady with my faith but to know that it’s always there. And in this faith, I find my feeling of being worthy of living life to best of my ability. But I also believe that all paths led with compassion and kindness are good and worthy, too. When I pray for myself, I ask for whatever blessings are available to me, and for God to help others more than myself.

I understand feeling pain and despair for I believe the human experience is huge and all-encompassing of both the darkness and the light. I believe if you embrace the light you’ll find value and meaning in your life. I feel alone a lot but there is always a small voice inside me that tells me I’m not alone in this life.

Don’t apologize for your existence. Your life is a gift to the world. Yes, you do have a choice as to how to live your life with either kindness and compassion, or without. I have faith that most people will choose to live with kindness and compassion. This faith in the good of this world, and in yourself, is what you have to hold on to no matter how bad the storm gets.

Broken Glass

On the night of November 9-10 1938, thousands of Jewish homes and business and over 200 synagogues were destroyed by Nazi Storm Troopers and civilians. After this, over 30,000 Jews were rounded up and deported to concentration camps. This event was reported on by foreign journalists stationed in Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland to the world… yet the rest of the world did nothing to stop what would become the Holocaust.

All my life I have never been able to fully understand how people could let things like this happen. I always thought it was just massive fear and silence. But after the last six months when 200,000 people died in this country due to a pandemic that could have been contained, after seeing people unleash their fury on others while not wearing masks, after watching glass broken, I can understand it now.

It’s not fear and silent complicity either. It’s a willing embrace of other people’s suffering, that it’s right and good that other people suffer while you don’t. It’s willingly embracing ignorance, hatred, and trying to destroy empathy and compassion in those who believe in it, show it, and try to live it.

Last evening when I heard the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death, a song came into my head from out of left-field. The song was ‘Broken English’ by Marianne Faithfull. There’s a line she repeats over and over in the song: “What are we fighting for?”

This is a question I’m asking myself now: what am I fighting for?

For the right to live. To exist. To think and feel freely and openly. To live without pain and suffering. For others to live this way.

And yes, people have fought for these things by breaking glass. Sometimes literally, and sometimes figuratively, like Justice Ginsberg did in her long legal career fighting to practice law.

But the most painful thing for me to write right now is this: my own fears. I woke up in the dark with a pounding heart and a righteous anger from the night before. Yet as I came awake, that pounding heart stayed but the righteous anger fled as a wave of fear swept over me. Fear that I won’t be able to take care of myself, fear that I will retreat into silence, fear that I will give in to this feeling that I am not worthy or capable of speaking out and fighting to live my life.

I will continue to swallow my tears, take those deep breaths, and find some way to fight to end the suffering of others. Whenever I feel like I’m in a deep well of sorrow, I don’t pray to God to heal me or lift me up. I ask Him to heal those in real pain, to lift those who truly need to be lifted up. I thank Him for the breath in my body, for the emotions I feel so strongly at times, for the words in my mind and the ability to share them. I tell Him I will not give up, and that I will do better. I tell Him now I will break my silence once and for all. I tell Him that when I hear the words in my head, I will do my best to write them down and share them.

I understand that the hardest choices, even if they’re the right ones, aren’t the easiest. To feel so deeply not only my own feelings, but the feelings of others, to feel deep pain at the suffering of others, is hard. But feeling those emotions is how to stand against evil, hypocrisy, and corruption. It’s how to see past the broken glass on the ground, and inside us, and want to heal.

And we can learn from complicity to evil and how people can choose to hate and glorify the suffering of others. And I can learn to swallow my own tears, take a deep breath, and get my damn shit together once and for all. For I know all too damn well someone in this world is not going to like what I’m writing here.

Yet I will say this now:

Look past the broken glass outside yourself, and inside yourself. And know that things that are broken can be fixed, and that you can heal from those wounds.

And that the world can heal from the wounds of broken glass.

Broken, But Never Giving Up

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why people said they were broken inside. In the last few months, I’ve finally begun to understand why. Life has a way of breaking the glass inside us, or trying to anyway.

Four years ago, I told the year 2016 to go to Hell when Carrie Fisher died followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds a day later. Today I said 2020 can go to hell following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I’m seeing a lot of wailing and moaning that we’re all fucked because of her death and the vacancy it opens on the Supreme Court.

All my life I have felt like I have do things for myself. I have never, ever felt like anyone is going to come in and save me, or even save the rest of us from fascist evil and those complicit with that. I still believe that now.

Instead I believe I have to keep at things until I find a damn solution to my own problems. I have to keep thinking about solving my own problems even when it exhausts me because there’s no other option. Why? Because I have always felt I do NOT have the option to fall apart and let my guard down because I honestly feel like no one will be there to hold me, or pick me up off the floor if that happened. It’s why I didn’t let myself fall apart almost twenty years ago as my mother was dying and all the damn decisions fell on my shoulders because my father collapsed from exhaustion.

So to anyone wanting to fall apart now and say we’ve had it:

Don’t give me that fucking shit.

And if you think I’m being a mean-ass bitch, you’re not the first person to ever tell me that nor will you be the last. I’ve survived being told that shit all my damn life and I’m still here alive and kicking.

Right now, I think the world needs a serious ass-chewing. And if you’re reading this, you’re getting it from me. We don’t have time to say we’re fucked and it’s all over. It’s only over when you’re dead like RBG, my mother, and all those who’ve gone before us. If you’re alive, you keep going and you keep fighting. And yes, people are going to give you shit for this. They’re going to tell you you’ve got a shit-ton of pride stuck up your ass and that you need to let your guard down and not be such a fucking hard-ass.

I’ve never felt like I had the luxury of letting my guard down and not be such a hard-ass. I’ve always felt like I got dealt a shitty hand and the only way I could deal with it was to play it the best I could. I’ve got a body that hates my guts: bad back, allergies all to hell, bummed-up right knee (it’s healing up but sore as hell at times). I’m broke, living on the edge, and sometimes just making shit up as I go along. My big fault with myself is that I stay silent because I don’t want to deal with people’s bullshit.

Not anymore. You can disagree with this all you damn well want. I can feel things with absolutely searing empathy and compassion that could rip a flood of tears out of me if I let it loose. And I’ve used silence to hold that in but not anymore.

If you can’t see past broken glass, hatred, propaganda, and feel that suffering is glorious and right, I can’t change that way of thinking. But I know that no one else can get inside my head and change the way I think and feel. Because in the end, I’m all I’ve got. I’m all this world has of me. But I also have hope that if someone reads my words they’ll start thinking about things they haven’t challenged or questioned. They’ll start digging through layers of rhetoric and bullshit, of manipulated emotions and relentless noise. I hope they’ll see past the broken glass and ask why was that glass broken in the first place.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg broke glass ceilings in her lifetime. These glass ceilings needed to be broken, and we have to keep breaking them. Even if we feel broken inside. Because in the end, I don’t think it’s about me, but about the world I live in, and the story I’m a part of, and not just living on my own.

The picture is a quote from an old Marianne Faithfull song that came to mind because I heard it yesterday on the Sirius XM radio channel 1st Wave. She recorded that song in 1979 after beating a heroin addiction that could have killed her. And she beat back covid-19 by the way and is still with us.