Page After Page

nobodycaresabout

In less than a month, I’ve written over 220,000 words. Does that sound like a lot? It is. To do it in such a short period of time is a testament to me pushing myself to write every single day, and not to give up when I’ve felt stuck. Even if I only managed one page on a bad day, I still parked my ass in front of the file and went over it, and over it, and over it. It’s called determination, with a healthy dose of bat-shit crazy thrown into the mix.

I’ve written, rewritten, proofed, edited, done additional rewrites, changed the direction up, added new characters, strengthened characters I liked, and here I am, still trying to figure out the true direction of the story. For the first time, I wrote something 100% unplanned. I let it haunt me for three months before I said “Let’s give it a try and see how it goes.” It’s become so much bigger than what I first thought, and I’ve found most of it incredibly easy to write.

The challenge in the work is getting in touch with things I’ve personally found difficult in my life. It’s been therapeutic to work it out on the screen in front of me and allow myself to be authentic within the confines of a fictional novel. Instead of saying “That’s decent, it’ll do.” (something I never say, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing), I’m finding myself excited to get up each day and return to work.

During a radio interview Nora Roberts explained how she began writing under the pseudonym J.D. Robb. Her publisher had, and I’m paraphrasing here, told her to “get a hobby” because her books were selling so well. Instead of deciding to actually take that advice and learn something new or do something fun, she decided to channel it into writing something else. I remember hearing the interview and laughing, until I realized today that I’ve sort of done the same thing. Instead of staying in my comfortable world where I’m 100% writing the truth, I’ve opened a door into a new genre for myself, and have found it’s equally as comfortable, if not more so. If you had suggested this to me ten or even five years ago, I would have laughed in your face. Instead, I’m breaking personal records on what I can achieve. I feel proud of that.

I hate reading things that make me roll my eyes. I hate reading things that don’t feel realistic, to some degree. I also hate feeling like I’m writing the same shit a thousand other people are writing. It gets boring very quickly.

I hate timid characters. They annoy me. I hate the damsel-in-distress nonsense. This is the 21st century, and I don’t know a lot of weak women. Unless you’re writing a period piece set in a different century, lose the giggly, shy female that you’d either slap or kick if you were to meet her tomorrow. Let someone in junior high write that crap.

Some of what I’m writing touches on gender roles. What makes a woman truly strong? What makes a man the right person? What makes a couple work well together? How do you stay strong through difficulties, your own idiocy, lapses in judgment, etc. I prefer to focus on the humanity. What are our characters if not perfectly flawed human-beings?

I have come to realize that most of my female characters (some, not all) are a version of me. If Erika Girardi can be Erika Jayne, then I can channel aspects of who I am into characters, too. There’s nothing wrong with that. I find it incredibly empowering.

When writing male characters, I work hard at channeling the men I know. There is no such thing as the perfect person, but there is such a thing as “the right person for you”, regardless of gender. Several of my friends described me as their soul-mate, from a friendship perspective. I firmly believe we have multiple soul-mates in life that we meet at different times. Some are with us forever and others come and go, leaving their mark. That’s real life. I’m virtually incapable of writing something and not bringing real life to it.

So as I sit here this afternoon, struggling with a scene I feel is emotionally crucial to the story, I have to remind myself to just be real. Take a deep breath and push through. And when I feel like I can’t focus, then it’s time for a break, but I have to get it done. I have to finish it. Maybe not today, but as soon as I can.

Let’s face it; no one would believe I wrote it if it were emotionally false.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Advertisements

Personal Year In Review

mayyouletgo

I wish I had fabulous things to share here as I look back on 2016, the year itself as a complete “body of work”, as opposed to how I genuinely feel about it.

Here’s the unadulterated truth; I’m filled with mixed emotions, anger, pain, and the more I think about it, additional anger on top of the original anger, which is never a good sign. I make no apologies for my honesty. I’m many things in my imperfect human way, but dishonest isn’t on the list.

I take no issue with the company in my life, or lack thereof. I am a firm believer that we all go through hard times and that hard work, love, and prayer will get us through it. I take no issue with surviving (Life should be more than that though, right?) and having a few good days here and there (Though I am determined to not allow people to ruin my days when I’m feeling good and their moods aren’t meant for me. However, this is a process. It will not happen instantaneously.), but I do take issue with things outside my control.

I am a self-admitted control freak when it pertains to a lot of things in my life, and with other things, not so much. Overall, I’m tired of my best not being good enough, and having people remind me of my failures. Never look down upon someone unless you’re helping them up. Asking for help through tough times is not a grave sin. It’s honest, it’s real, and it’s admitting something vulnerable and scary is occurring that you cannot figure out how to face on your own. Why do we diminish that?!

I was raised to believe that as long as I do my best, it is always “good enough”, because it shows effort. And then I moved to another state where I know very few people, where “my best” is NEVER “good enough” because some unattainable level of perfection is expected at all times. It makes me feel like a bad Stepford Wife. 😦 I would not know what happiness was if a radioactive spider bit my ass. I haven’t known happiness in so long, it scares me. I feel emotions, yes, but happiness is almost never among them. How’s that for honest?

My brother has been through a torturous, evil kind of hell this year. I highly suspect that whatever was done to his heart set off a myriad of other health issues because I cannot recall a time when he wasn’t under the age of ten and on antibiotics as often as he’s been this year. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times that I’ve damn near had a multitude of nervous breakdowns every single time. I am currently waiting to hear back from a surgeon as he embarks on surgery number five in just slightly over a year; which is more surgery than he’s ever had in his entire life. It worries me on such a deep level, it’s difficult to convey.

I am immensely disheartened by how uncaring and unkind people are being towards him. At the beginning and end of each day, we only have so many family members in life, and as we’ve established, life is as short as it is long. My brother & I don’t have a lot of family, so we’ve had to rally around each other and be each other’s biggest support system through what has been, in essence, the gates of Hell. I may yell at him and get frustrated, I may say nasty things to him in the heat of the moment because he pushes my buttons, but ultimately, I’m not ignoring him or pretending he doesn’t exist in the hopes he’ll simply go away. I might not respond to a phone call or a text message when I’m sleeping, and sometimes I am guilty of ignoring him for a full twenty-four hours because I can’t handle the stress, but I do speak to my brother. I might not admit this to him, but he’s one of my best friends.

I say a painful goodbye to 2016, a year that has made me suffer in ways I can’t discuss; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope and pray that 2017 offers me more opportunities, better work, better pay, the same high-quality friendships I’ve maintained since day one (I’ve gotta say it; my friends are the BEST friends. They’re the first people to ask if I’m okay, to see through answers when I’m 100% NOT okay, and be as supportive as they can through crises. I would not have made it through parts of this year if it weren’t for the relationships in my life, both old and new, that have helped reinforce who I am as a person.), a real directional shift that leads me exactly where I need to be lead, and a year that allows me to achieve goals I have set for myself. The big goals, because at the moment, small goals aren’t cutting it.

I’d like to see some medical breakthroughs to help me better manage my pain and overall health. I was hit in the back with a shopping cart today at a local grocery store. This woman was on her cell phone and obviously thought she had enough room and/or didn’t even see me. I swear I am invisible to 99% of the “human race”. Initially my response was “Excuse YOU!”, but the lunatic just kept on walking, loudly debating stupidity on her phone. I did not feel it was worth pursuing in the moment, but now I am sorry I didn’t. I’m not sure if she did any real damage that wasn’t already there, but the level of pain I’m in is not something I want to take with me into the coming year, or any other year. I truly think CBD oil is in my future, as the “war on opiates” in this state is far too ridiculous to pursue with a doctor. I will, but I, like so many others, need a backup plan to help manage the pain in my life. No one should ever have to live like this.

Blessings to you all, as we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in what will hopefully a bright New Year! 

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

beforeyoustep

 

Brain Problems

10501792_1101324749884898_3992262528277158865_n
I have exactly ONE PERSON in my life who has done the research and offered his help. Out of so many who could use their brains, my cousin chose to use his.

No, the title isn’t meant to indicate an actual health issue. Not that I’m aware of. However, Fibromyalgia Brain Fog, also commonly referred to as “Fibro Fog”, has really done a number on me this month. It was slowly progressing, but now I feel dumber than a box of rocks with twelve piles of shit on top. It’s scary, freakish, and makes me feel terrible about myself. Only another sufferer can truly understand how much pain this puts me in.

I know these are common daily occurrences for a lot of people who struggle with Fibromyalgia and other auto-immune diseases, but my incidents have been sporadic and easily managed, up until now. This weekend has pretty much brought me to my knees on the memory front. 😦

If you ask me about something from when I was two or three years old, I have complete recall of the entire moment. If you ask me why I tried putting black pepper in the freezer, I’ve got nothing. If I didn’t set the timer on the stove, I’d walk away from preparing meals and never go back (I ALWAYS set the timer, even if it’s just ten minutes, it’s loud enough to bring me back in order to focus.). I have to be 100% in whatever it is I am doing, otherwise I am going to end up cutting myself, burning myself, or forgetting what the hell I’m doing to begin with. There is nothing normal or acceptable about this.

To add insult to injury, I put notes on my phone as reminders for pretty much everything. I take this phone with me wherever I go, and yet, I still forget what the hell I’m reading and end up deleting at least 50% of the note before I’ve left most stores. It’s utterly pathetic. It’s also sad, because I’m tired of searching cabinets and the refrigerator/freezer for things I forgot to buy. I then add the missing items to next week’s list, only so the cycle can continue on in an ugly manner. I have to start each list with cat food and cat litter, otherwise it’s entirely possible I will forget one, the other, or both. This past weekend, I forgot the litter. The plus side, there’s 20 pounds of it sitting near the litter box from the weekend prior, so all I have to do is change the damn thing. The fact that I can even lift 20 pounds these days is miraculous to me. 😦

I think I would be better able to cope with this lack of brain function if I were over 75 and had achieved all of the things I set out to do with my life. I’d be able to say “Hey, I’ve lived longer than my parents. I’ve accomplished all of this. I’m simply getting older and forgetting things. It’s not the end of the world.” However, I’m nowhere near 75, not even close, and yet, my brain is suddenly turning to mush. I tried refrigerating herbs when I was cooking earlier (obviously, that’s not where they belong). As soon as I realized what I was doing, I nearly dropped all of them on the floor and burst into tears.

These incidents are made worse by the criticism of others. “Do you even have a fucking brain?”, I was asked earlier this month. “You really DO live in your own world.”, I was told the other day. These are things I’d never say out loud to someone I know is sick, leave alone healthy.

If you have someone in your life with an autoimmune disease/disorder that affects their brain function, I would like you to walk a hundred thousand miles in their shoes. I want you to spend 365 days in their body before making a single derogatory remark in their direction. Our ears are fine; we can fucking hear your offensive, rude negativity. However, if you don’t understand the illness itself, shut the fuck up. You’re not making the situation better, and how you treat someone is just as important as how you speak to them. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone wants respect, simply for existing, but they don’t realize their behavior is what garners respect. Moreover, we all express our feelings differently. I prefer to say a lot of things to people privately, eschewing public professions. Some people seem to have a deep-seated need for the public professions though, and it baffles me. Just because we live in a selfie-filled world doesn’t mean every single thing we want to say ought to be made public.

You can argue that by writing it, I’ve made it public, but here’s the thing; I didn’t name names. I rarely, if ever, do. I talk in code with my friends, we have our own private language, and I write in code a lot of the time, too. You get the gist of it, obviously, you just don’t have faces and names to attach to what I’m saying. It’s like reading a book. You get descriptions of characters, but you are left to your own devices as to what they might truly look like if you met them on the street.

So, even with my “brain problems”, I don’t have “writer problems”. Thank G-d and Goddess for that!

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

fogbank

Thankful, Grateful, Yet Pissed Off

plymouth-rock-sign
My ancestors didn’t come to this country until the late 1800’s or 1920ish, if not later than that.

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States. There is much history behind this holiday (I currently live in Massachusetts and you can’t escape people talking about spending the holiday in Plymouth. I’ve never spent Thanksgiving at a restaurant; I’ve always participated among family, cooked it myself, etc.), but for me, especially this year, this is the first Thanksgiving where I’ll be completely without my brother.

He was just released from the hospital once again. He’s SO sick, and while I am thankful and grateful that he is alive, I am exceptionally upset that he isn’t in a good situation and is so far away. It makes me ill. The fact that the medicine he needs for his heart and lungs is more expensive than I can handle is also too much for me emotionally. I want to help him, to fix the situation and the problems, but I can’t fix every problem he presents me with. It kills me. You are only given so many people in a life and I have been given one living brother. Not helping when he asks (or doesn’t ask) is to be a lower life form. I can’t be like that. I stand up as much as humanly possible.

I have much to be thankful for this year. I am thankful for what little in my life is mine. I’m grateful for the roof over my head, clothes, food, Cat and Kitten, my friends, and family. However, I’m also pissed off.

This has been an extremely painful year for me. I don’t know when it gets easier, or if it ever does, but I hope and pray that the coming year (and years) won’t wreck me like the previous dozen, or so, have. I’m a human-being, I’m imperfect, my feelings are real, and valid, and in 2017, I’d like to break out of this horrible shell I am in and be reborn in some way.

For the past six months or so, I’ve been experiencing bouts of Fibro Fog that are terrifying. I’ve done so many bizarre things that I’d never normally do if I was at 100% capacity (like trying to put black pepper in the freezer). For over seven months, I’ve been experiencing blackouts where I cannot account for my time. I’m not passing out and waking up on the side of the road or anything, and I’m lucky that they are no longer happening daily, but there are far too many days where I look at the clock and it’s 9:00 a.m. and the next thing I know, it’s 4:00 PM and I couldn’t tell you where my day went if you paid me a million dollars. These are not normal things for anyone, leave alone me. I stopped talking about these episodes with friends and family because no one seemed that interested or concerned, but I’m walking around on auto-pilot and I have no idea how I get from point A to point B most days. It’s scary and it’s completely unlike me.

plymouth1

This year, Thanksgiving will lack all forms of tradition. The only “tradition” I’ll be bringing to the table is a 40+ year old recipe for stuffing. In my entire life, I’ve only eaten one other type of stuffing and it paled in comparison to my Mom’s. However, to highlight my Fibro Fog I have to say I’m embarrassed and mortified that I remembered all of the ingredients for the stuffing, but once I hit store #3 on Sunday, I realized I never purchased the actual stuffing, herbs, or a turkey pan for it. I tend to make stuffing the night before, that way it’s perfect Thanksgiving Day (and only takes a little while to heat up). It also helps me pace myself because making it involves a lot of vegetable chopping and ingredient play. However, I am happy to make it and enjoy that piece of my Mom that she passed on to me; the ability to cook and cook well (In fairness, I did inherit other things from her, for which I am also eternally grateful.).

So yeah, lots of sadness at the moment. I’m praying I will somehow be able to come through for my brother, and as it has been nearly a year since I’ve seen him (Unheard of!), I am hoping & praying I will be able to see him next month. I have learned this year that the person who knows me best is my brother (only regarding certain things, not all things). Part of me finds that exceptionally sad, and the other part thinks it’s extremely fitting.

Wishing everyone, in advance, a wonderful start to the holiday season. You don’t have to be American to appreciate that sentiment.

cute-thanksgiving-turkeys-04

Be safe, everyone!

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Saying Goodbye

I’ve never been happier to say goodbye to a month. 😦 The month I most look forward to every year, October, has been bitter, painful, and full of things I do not want to take into the coming month, or any month in the future, for that matter. I feel like a snake, preparing to shed its skin. I NEVER want to feel the things I have had to feel this month.

I want to persevere in November. I want to pretend the birthday from hell never happened, despite the daily reminders of how demeaning and insulting it was. An epic slap in my face from pretty much every side you can think of (I refuse to celebrate from here on in, unless it’s by myself. People SUCK.). I want to remember who my real friends are. I want to be constantly reminded who my real family is, as opposed to those who simply get the label via birth.

Ultimately, I want to survive this month. I want to successfully achieve the goals on my list, one of which feels absolutely impossible. The last time I felt that way, I nailed it and was able to breathe again. All I want to do is achieve the impossible and breathe. I need to make it to 2017 in one piece.

I also apologize for all delays, as I burned out my laptop battery earlier this month and, to add insult to injury, fried the adapter. Say a little prayer for my laptop, ’cause I’m praying HARD for it.

Survival and deep breaths. Seems simple, but it’s not.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

ghosts
It’s true.

P.S. And despite all threats, I did not give Cat away to a nice family tonight. She’s been taking care of her poor, sick Mommy when she’s not aggressively attacking her sister. Kitten is right by my side, as always. 🙂 I shall spend tomorrow squeezing them silly!

 

Fall In New England

sam_1332Fall is coming in brisk and cold here in New England. My phone says it is currently 36 degrees with a wind chill of 27. I can feel nothing but cold from my neck into my toes. In a few days, it’ll warm up again. While typical, it’s also a way too brisk for my liking.

Due to a severe drought, many of the trees are either still green or have absolutely no leaves whatsoever. Saturday nights’ heavy wind really swept through and took the colorful leaves with it. I was lucky enough to capture a few that turned beautiful shades of Fall; my favorite time of year.

Other than being cold and waking up sick this morning, not much is going on. I am trying to psych myself up for the day and a long walk, that will hopefully not freeze me to death/kill me, but will allow me to clear my mind and prepare for the year ahead.

Kitten is sleeping to my left, counting down the seconds until it’s time for breakfast. She tried getting me to feed her an hour ago. I don’t know whether to be concerned or mortified by her voracious appetite. Cat, on the other hand, has become Madame Finicky. There is a LOT of cattitude in this house. I keep telling them I will give them out with the Halloween candy. I’m terrible, I know. 😉

fallinne1
The maple is the only one that’s turned so far. Unfortunately, a day later 3/4’s of the leaves were gone. 😦

I’ve found the colors awe-inspiring, as I draw creative inspiration from color on a whole. There have been gorgeous blue skies and there have also been plenty of grey, cloudy, heavily rainy days. It’s always better to get rain than it is to get snow.

sam_1334
Japanese Maple across the street. Without the sunlight, the leaves are dark purple. This is one of my favorite trees because the leaves are stunning. It was my favorite tree back in Pennsylvania, too. 

There are things going on, of course, but nothing I wish to speak about now, mainly to protect the privacy of others. I am heavily researching some topics I’d like to discuss, some of which may trigger people (I promise to post warnings in case some people want to take a pass), but I think this is a great place for open, honest discussions.

sam_1336
I wasn’t kidding about the wind.

For the first time on my birthday, at least in this particular moment, I feel reborn instead of miserable. Perhaps this is a sign of good things to come. I’ll take the positive signs where they come.

sam_1339
Fresh chocolate mint. No, I am NOT kidding. I often walk past it and chew on the leaves. It smells so good and tastes amazing.

I hope you all have an amazing Wednesday. I’m certainly gonna try, especially since the reverse aging has kicked in. 😉

sam_1337
I’m not sure what type of tree this is, but it has the lightest shades of orange & peach in the entire neighborhood.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Sisterhood Unraveled

icant

The majority of my closest friends have been in my life for longer than most marriages last. We’re talking twenty years, on average, for each of my best friends. One, now officially former, best friend has spent the past six and a half years ignoring me. There was no disagreement between us, we’ve never had a legitimate fight. Absolutely nothing occurred to warrant her going radio silent. This, however, is her behavior whenever a new man enters her life. It’s utterly baffling, and such an immense turn-off that she truly believes she can come and go in the friendship as she pleases. I’m a person; not a revolving door at a hotel or airport! It’s unacceptable behavior. So, I’m going to write my feelings out of my system today. I’ve never blatantly outed a friend in such a manner, but it’s time to light a Yarhzeit candle to the friendship. For now it is time to remember, and move on.

Here’s a fact about me: When I’m done, I’m truly DONE. I find it sad that after all this time, she doesn’t know me well enough to know that I will cut her out of my life permanently. She doesn’t seem to realize that I will exterminate her like a fucking termite. She’s gotten far too comfortable in the friendship, and has forgotten what loyalty and true friendship are, and for that, there’s simply no forgiveness left in me. From here on out, I will refer to this person as Two-Face.

Two-Face and I became instant best friends from almost the first encounter. We said the same things, thought a lot of the same things, had a similar sense of humor, liked nearly all of the same things, and she stood up to people who challenged my role in her life many times. We were thick as thieves; always laughing hysterically for hours on end. She called me her sister, often saying I was closer to her in life than her own sister could ever be. It certainly seemed that way, because her sister isn’t anywhere near as good to her as I was from day one, but apparently she forgives her sister damn near anything and has an extremely short fucking memory. I’m more like an elephant. I might forget that I left tea in the kitchen for two hours, allowing it to brew too long and go bitter, but I do not forget the long-term. In fact, it’s all so sharp and clear, it’s eerie.

For me, referring to any friend as family is the highest compliment I can pay someone because I don’t consider my own relatives “true family” most of the time, except for those who actually stand by me, as opposed to doing so merely when it is convenient for them. I have family that will call me family when they please, as opposed to daily. That doesn’t fly with me, which is precisely why none of those people are my true family. I share bloodlines with them, but beyond that? Nothing. I would not give them a bodily organ if they needed it and I was the only match on the planet; I’d give it to the stranger whose family needed them instead. Through time, they’ve shown me how little they value me, so why should I hold them in high regard?

It’s important to be careful how you treat your friends. Friendship is a delicate thing. It can wax and wane like the moon, but it can also grow stronger daily. My best friends, those who’ve never left, seem to know me better than she does. I often thought she & I were closer, not just logistically speaking, but because we shared such a daily chunk of each other’s lives that the others often miss out on. I was wrong.

I have never dropped a friend for a man, or for another relationship. Not ever. I might be happier, perhaps a lot more playful and silly, but my friends play a significant role in my life. I do not exclude them simply because I am in a relationship. I don’t ditch them for months or years at a time, as if they are toys to be placed in a drawer and taken out when I choose. I find that disrespectful, and incredibly unhealthy. I am at my healthiest when I have my girls to turn to no matter what, because I’m genuinely a Girl’s Girl to the core. Women supporting other women, in good and bad times, is a remarkable thing. It is something I respect wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong; I will tell someone they’re wrong when they’re wrong, regardless of gender. I have absolutely no qualms about letting people know I have boundaries and human emotions, but I’d never intentionally hurt a friend. If you do something once and you ask for forgiveness; it’s a mistake. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. If you repeatedly do something ugly; it’s a pattern and a choice. I do not have to accept choices that are continuously hurtful. I have enough issues; I don’t need my friends to emotionally cut me to pieces, nor will I allow it.

Two-Faced, now on marriage number three (Which, at the point, means you shouldn’t even bother. Unless you have children together, are planning on having children, or it’s for insurance purposes, that piece of paper is clearly ridiculous. That’s my OPINION, but I also know her so well that I know the second the relationship crumbles, she will be back at my feet, begging for forgiveness. Her absence will be blamed on HIM, not on HER.), was married when we first became friends. Her husband was utterly lovely…and she treated him like shit. My first impression was that it showed strength (No, I don’t think it’s okay to treat your partner like shit. I did not see it for what it was initially.), but over time I realized they never should have gotten married, that they only did so out of family pressure. They didn’t want the same things. They grew apart. When she called to tell me they were divorcing, I was heartbroken for her, and very protective. They stayed together for a period of time to get their finances in order, and parted ways amicably. They didn’t have any children, so it was a clean break. It was harder for their families than it was for them, because her family loved him and his family loved her. I’ll give her one thing; she’s great at fooling people.

She moved to another city and immediately started dating. He was re-married to someone else quickly after they were divorced, and was expecting his first child. She’d disappear for short periods of time between boyfriends. It was utterly obnoxious, and I’d never seen this side of her before. I started filtering myself in regard to my own relationships because I was somehow able to manage more than one person in my life at a time, never making excuses. I could keep my friends, be a part of my family, AND keep a guy in my life, without issue. Why was this such a problem for her?! In fairness, I’d soon discover it was a problem for a lot of women, and to this day, I will NEVER be able to wrap my mind around that. Relationships come and go, they’re not etched in stone, but friends should be forever. Where are you in life without at least one true friend?

whenigive1

She came to visit me at one point and was an absolute bitch for roughly 85% of the visit. Perhaps I should be ranking that at a higher percentage. I had the hardest time not knocking her teeth out, because I’d be appalled if I ever behaved that way toward a friend, especially in their home, and worse, several times in front of their family. Nothing was good enough for her, but in actuality I know that she was acting out, which is sad because by doing so, she ruined much of the time we spent together. When a major snowstorm hit the day before she was supposed to leave, resulting in approximately a foot and a half of snow, you would have thought I’d caused it by her behavior and attitude towards me. I had paid for her plane ticket and treated her like family; and in turn, soon after the visit, she didn’t speak to me for almost a year. I was utterly THRILLED when I dropped her off at the airport. Her behavior was SO awful that I honestly didn’t care if I ever saw her again. After 9/11, she e-mailed me to make sure that my family & I were safe. Our friendship resumed at that point, she seemed genuinely remorseful. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I honestly don’t know how I survive without you.” Whatever.

Maybe six months after flying out to visit her, she stopped speaking to me once again. I called her at work one day, after she’d been ignoring me for weeks, because my mother was in the hospital and I didn’t think she was going to live. I was devastated and needed my best friend to talk to me down off a ledge. She actually got on the phone and told me “I have problems of my own, I don’t have time for yours!” and hung up on me. In hindsight, I NEVER should have allowed her back into my life after that move. I should have ripped her to shreds, but I didn’t. My mistake, because that won’t ever happen again.

Maybe the following year I got a letter explaining that she’d hit a rough patch soon after I left, and decided to move back home to be closer to her family, and again, the friendship resumed with her, once again, pleading for forgiveness. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I swear.”

But it did.She never truly apologized for anything, not once. 

She met husband number two, who was moved in very quickly (She should get U-Haul discounts on how quickly she moves men into and out of her life. I’ve never seen anything like it. Why can’t you just date like a normal person?!), and this guy hated me. He didn’t want her talking to me, and he didn’t want me visiting. She claims he made her choose between us, and we’d lose three years of friendship to a marriage where I am almost certain of his verbal abuse, but even more certain that the abused became the abuser. I feel she’s always had that in her; and I am sure that is why her first husband moved on so quickly to someone who was so drastically different in every way. Poor guy dodged one hell of a bullet! 😦

Her relationships are what they are. It’s her searching for love in all of the wrong places, because, despite being eternally selfish to her core, she does not have the capacity to truly love anyone, not even herself. She puts on a good show though, an Academy Award worthy performance, but it’s all incredibly fake. She is, in essence, the Phantom of The Opera in his mask. So filled with self-doubt and internal torment, the mask is a shield to keep people at bay, to hold everyone at arm’s length, until it suits her to get closer. She’d openly deny this, because she is so blinded, she cannot clearly see herself. I find it sad.

At her best, she believes she’s a decent person and wants to be better and grow, but she always gets in her own way. I’ve been friends with her long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I am certain her relationship with me was borne out of needing someone stronger in her life to be friends with, because she has no other true friends who’ve seen it all with her. She has people she works with who only ever see the mask, but I’ve seen the pain. I’ve seen the roots, and I understand them, but I do not accept the fact that while she believes she’s “grown”, she’s truly still at square one. Other people who’ve gotten close have crossed boundaries and felt her wrath. There’s a reason I’m referring to her as Two-Face. It disturbs me that she can have two completely different sides to her and not own it. I know I have both darkness and light within me, and I am very open about that, but I am NOT two-faced. I am the same person at all times. I will always apologize if I’m brusque or bitchy without cause. Always. Sometimes I don’t hear how I sounded until 1-3 days later, but I’d rather apologize and own it than pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not. She thinks she’s the same way, but she most definitely is not.

Several years ago, I wrote her a letter and let her know precisely how I felt about the friendship and what she’d done/was doing to it. It took me almost a year to write it without being vicious, so even now, I’m trying to not be batshit crazy over how I’ve been treated. I laid it all out for her, and told her that this was unacceptable behavior, and that I knew for a fact she’d never allow me to treat her this way, so why was it acceptable for her to treat me so horribly? I even said we’ve never fought or argued, and that neither of us had done anything unforgivable (up to that point). I said it was all about communicating openly and honestly with each other, which we’d always done. I told her if she wanted out of the friendship, she need only say so.

However, here I sit six and a half years later and I find, I’m the one who wants out. I’m DONE. I was never anything but an amazing friend to her; loyal, devoted, present, caring, and generous. I loaned her money when she went through a couple of horrible years and had trouble making ends meet. I wanted to help her and keep her safe during that time because her family was refusing to do so (most especially, her sister, who is apparently a saint now.). I didn’t expect to be paid back, but when I think about the fact that it’s somewhere between $10,000-$15,000 owed, I do find myself wanting that money back. She always promised it would be paid back because it was a LOAN and not a gift. There’s a difference in the phrasing. I would already have sued her for it, if the state she resides in allowed people to be sued for small claims. It doesn’t, and I think we can all safely agree that the number is definitely NOT a “small claim”. I would even accept installment payments at this point. Unlike running out on a credit card; I am a human-being and I deserve to be paid back. I don’t care how you treat a billion dollar business, but I DO care how you treat me, the loyal friend who has stood by you when others, including your own family, have walked away or stepped back.

We were sisters, and I was always there for her no matter what. She didn’t just unravel the sisterhood, she broke it. She continued to hammer away at it until I said “Enough!” When I wrote that letter, I let her know it wasn’t an ultimatum, but that I wasn’t going to hold on to how I felt and allow it to continue to hurt me. She e-mailed me a month later and said she’d read the letter multiple times and would e-mail me in a few weeks after she thought things over. I never heard from her again. Knowing her; she lost the letter in her many moves since receiving it, and didn’t have the guts to get back in contact with me and face the issue. She can’t say she doesn’t have my e-mail address because I’ve had the same primary e-mail address for over ten years. Her cowardly behavior is another strike against her. You don’t let things slide and not apologize. It once took me eight years to apologize to a friend for potentially hurting her, but I apologized, and the apology was accepted. The friendship did not resume because, much like Two-Face, this person could not maintain a marriage, a family life, and a best friend. Apparently it requires a really high I.Q., multiple doctorates, and/or maybe some special gift I’m unaware of. I do NOT understand it, and I’m done trying to.

I hold many titles with ease, and Grace. Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece, Sister, Best Friend, Friend, Cousin, Writer, Editor. I hope to add other titles to that list, and I’m certain I left a few out because I’m focused on what I have to say, but my point is, I do maintain each title. I am still my parent’s only daughter and my Grandparent’s only Granddaughter, even in their physical absences. Two of my Grandparents have a second Granddaughter, and for that I apologize to them because she’s an embarrassment on every level as a human-being. I am my Aunt’s only niece and my brother’s only sister. I’m a best friend and friend AT ALL TIMES, not when it is convenient to be so. I try to be there for my cousins because I choose to have relationships with them, even when they’re not ideal relationships, even when the other person is difficult and makes me sorry I bother. I make an EFFORT. I’m imperfect, and in that imperfection, I am unique and solid.

When I think about Two-Face I am reminded of good times, of laughter, of travels, of so many hilarious moments and shared thoughts and secrets. I will take her secrets to the grave, but I will not allow her to harm me any further. She is the only person who, in the role of a friend, managed to turn something unbreakable into something broken. Her deep desire for self-destruction isn’t going to take me down with her. She is sitting somewhere now, possibly believing that she ended the friendship on her terms or that the revolving door with remain revolving, perhaps not even giving it a second thought. Ultimately, I am the one cutting her off and out. Permanently. I am not going to be vicious or vengeful. I am not going to allow myself to feel the hurt, anger, or utter betrayal a second longer than I already have. This, however, will take time; for I’m so angry as I write this, I’m shaking.

I am not going to cut myself off from who I am as a person, and what I have to offer others. I am going to continue being myself. I will continue to be intuitive and mindful of new people. I won’t allow anyone in my life when there are red flags of warning. I’m not going to stop being a loyal, damn fine friend to people. I am not going to allow this to turn me into a bitch, or allow myself to think that I deserve to be treated like that. I know better.

Friendships aren’t gifted to us so that we may irrevocably damage and break them. They are gifted to us in order to support us through thick and thin, and they are indeed a gift because true friendship is so unbelievably rare. I realize I am a rarity in how I handle my relationships with others. No matter how bad my life may be, and believe me when I say that it isn’t easy, I’d prefer to continue being the kind of friend I’ve always been to people.

She may have hurt me, but she did not break me. She did not win a damn fucking thing. When all is said and done, she will be as alone as she was when she came into my life; a broken child in need of a place where she belonged. I gave her that, and I never judged. I’m still not judging, but I am saying “No more.” I’m placing a wall made of concrete and steel between her and I from here on in. She can get through electronically, providing I deign to open an e-mail from her, but she cannot reach my heart or soul ever again.

There’s only so much damage I’ll allow. Breaking the bonds of sisterhood is on the list of “ultimate betrayals” for any female friend. She was given the choice to repair the damage, and instead, she chose something else instead of realizing she could have both. She chose selfishness. I am not selfish. In fact, on many levels we are polar opposites. Perhaps that is why our friendship was so incredibly close and was then twisted into something ugly by her. She doesn’t know that there’s no going back, that my ability to accept is gone. I feel sorry for her. She always comes back, but this time, she has no idea who the other person is that she’ll be faced with. I’ve changed for the better. Once I cut you off, there’s nothing you can say or do to get back in. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice and you’d better find another planet to reside on.

Interestingly enough, the last time I was this done with a person; it was a man. He’s in town this weekend and all I can think is “Motherfucker, don’t you DARE darken my door.” That I’d put them both into the same category today is interesting, because that’s how she & I became friends.

Never Again. Done means done. Friendship is an ultimate strength, NOT a weakness. Other people have stepped up in your absence and replaced you; something I once thought would be unheard of. Stick that in your bitch pipe and smoke it.

May life provide you with precisely what and who you deserve. I am off to light a candle and say my goodbyes. If you get in touch, expect a fucking bill.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

burnyourbirdges