I Remember

I Remember

This day is emblazoned within my mind. I would learn so much within a forty-eight hour span of time, and I would be permanently changed. But no one tells you that when you’re a child. No. They try to keep you “innocent”. Except in my family. My mother decided I was not going to be lied to or be told nonsensical stories. I’ve been treated like an adult, with free thoughts and a free spirit, my entire life. There’s much to be said for this methodology because, even today, people do try to shield their children from many things. There’s no perfect way to be a parent. Did you just shake your head? You can disagree. That’s fine.

There are so many moments in life, but as someone with extreme intuition, this one still gets me.

I remember a full day of fun, spent with my mother, brother, and Grandparents. I remember exactly where we were, and that we had been in a specific store just minutes before the tension began. I remember feeling confused when some form of visibly silent arguing began, which is when my mother and her parents would switch languages in front of my brother and I. My brother probably doesn’t have any recollection of this, but I do. Whenever another language was spoken around me, I paid attention. I still do.

I remember my mother becoming frustrated, bordering on furious. The plans had changed and she was hurt, trying to rein in her temper. She was trying to put on a brave face in front of her children, but I felt the shift in emotions immediately. Once again, my Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle would get their way, and my mother was not pleased. She was not manipulative and didn’t appreciate manipulative people. She was never fake by nature, but in those final moments, she was putting on a show.

Me, always questioning everything, precisely as she taught me, demanded to know what was going on. “Where are they going? Why are they leaving? I have to say goodbye to Grandpa.” At that point in my life, my entire world revolved around my mother, Grandfather, Aunt (my mother’s sister), and brother.

My mother, of the softly spoken everything, of her calm, easy-going nature, would reply with a tone better suited for a teenager that arrived home at four a.m. drunk, without a phone call. “You don’t need to say goodbye. You’ll see him tomorrow.” I remember trying to get one final hug and kiss, and being forcibly taken away from him. I was angry. He and my Grandmother waved, promising me tomorrow. Tomorrow didn’t happen the way any of them expected, I am sure.

It was extremely early in the morning. Ever the night owl, I left the room I shared with my younger brother to find out what was going on. I remember facing my Grandmother, her always stoic expression conveying something was wrong. I had never seen her so quiet, so sad, so lost.

“Where is Grandpa?” I demanded. You rarely saw one Grandparent without the other, even though my Grandfather was the predominant force between the two. She looked up at me with a blatantly sad expression on her normally expressionless face. “He’s gone.” was the answer I received.

Gone. What did that mean to me? It made no sense. “Then we have to go and find him.” was my reply. I was adamant. I knew he would not leave without me, without talking to me, without saying goodbye. The fiercest part of me knew that he would never leave by choice. Never. She shook her head and waited for my mother to explain to me that the single most important man in my life was “in heaven”.

I quickly learned that NO ONE understood this concept. They would look at me sadly, point up to the sky, and tell me my Grandfather had “gone to heaven”. I did not believe them. I had already extensively searched the clouds and he was not there. Because they all pointed up, I believed he had gone to a castle in the clouds. He would always study the sky with me and show me things, so this made sense in my mind at the time.

I remember his funeral. The entire chapel was filled beyond capacity. People were huddled in to make additional room. Hundreds of people had come to pay their respects. My Grandfather was beloved, respected, admired. I remember looking at all the people, so many of them strangers to me, and everyone looked back at me sadly.

I remember the cemetery. The line of cars was unreal. Again, a testament to this great man. I remember my Great-Aunt Minnie and Great-Uncle Charlie wanting to dote on me from the funeral home to the burial site. I remember my cousins, Gloria and Lenny, trying to lighten the mood in the car. Lenny was known for his sense of humor. My Aunt Minnie tried distracting me with cookies. I was not to be distracted, though. I was this man’s only Granddaughter and I knew I had a purpose on this day. After all, I fought to be there. No one thought I should be “subjected to death”. I’d heard this stated quite a bit in the previous day, and knowing myself, I was paying exceptional attention to who said what and how they said it. I’ve always been a keen observer.

My mother sat down with me and explained everything and asked what I wanted to do. I remember her friend Ellen saying “Don’t you want to stay home and play with me and your baby brother?” I remember looking up at her coldly and saying “No. He is MY Grandfather and I AM GOING.” My mother actually stared at me, shocked by the tone of voice I had used. Before that moment, I had always been described as the “little girl with the ancient eyes”, even as a baby, but in that moment my mother knew I was the fierce warrior she had prayed for. There would be no further argument. I had stood my ground.

Cemeteries are for the living. It’s how we remember those we’ve lost and try to honor them. There is nothing more final than seeing someone’s name and the dates of their birth and death etched into granite or marble. Is it bizarre that my Grandparents’ headstone is the same as my parents’ stone? Not really. I remember asking my mother what she wanted for my father and she said “Just bury us together. Get one stone. Something similar to the one for my Mom and Dad, okay?” Her only concession was that her side have a specific design. I custom-designed that stone with the help of someone who does that sort of work. The final result was startling, same as it was to see my Grandparents’ names etched in finality.

After my Grandfather’s death, I remember heated discussions. My Great-Aunt, my Grandfather’s only sister, asked my Grandmother if she could still go on her vacation, despite the traditional 3-7 days where Jews sit Shiva. My Grandmother acquiesced, as she always did in situations such as this. My mother didn’t speak to my Great-Aunt for YEARS after the fact, and my own anger would become part of the mix as I got older and heard the entire story. If, G-d forbid, anything ever happened to my brother, I would not be on a plane the day after his funeral to go anywhere. I would never show his life such disrespect. It’s nonnegotiable. How the hell does someone claim to be in mourning and then get on a plane to go anywhere to enjoy themselves?! I will forever feel haunted by that move. In reverse, I can assure you my Grandfather would not have done something so despicable.

My Grandmother never spoke about it. She had friends, family, tons of well-wishers, and her children and grandchildren by her side. She became a prominent, front-and-center Grandmother in the wake of my Grandfather’s death, whereas she was very much in the background most of the time before his passing. There was NOTHING she did not do for us, take care of, or handle if my father refused. If my brother or I ever needed something, it did not matter what it is, she was there. She went to all of my gymnastic competitions, every drama performance, every Glee club performance, every Graduation. If it was during the day and my parents had to work, she was the face we saw in every crowd. She loved us, she helped raise us, and she was always right across the street. With her, we would get extra time before cancer came and took her from us. The insidiousness of that disease, coming along and taking someone who stayed out of the sun (I always remember her being under an umbrella or sitting in the shade.), never smoked, rarely drank, was devastating. It just goes to show you that no one is immune.

For roughly the next three years, after things had settled down, I would openly discuss suicide, a word that had NEVER been used in my home or in my life. My family did not discuss such things, EVER. My parents would stare at each other in dismay, and I know what they were thinking. “Where did she get that word from?” I had never been exposed to it, but it was constant. I was determined to be wherever my Grandfather REALLY was, and I made this clear. Every time I would talk about it, my brother would become hysterical, clutching me and telling my parents “She’s my sister. She can’t leave. Don’t let her leave me.” His face would turn red and he’d cry himself into an asthma attack at times. We were incredibly adult for kids, I now realize, but back then, I thought all people had similar family lives and discussions. They did not. They do not.

It’s important to discuss loss, grief, death, and every aspect of mental health with your children. I have suffered the majority of my life because my mother was afraid for me and my father was in denial. But as someone recently said to me “You could have harmed yourself so many times by now, and you’re still here. You’re still in one piece.” Only, I’m not truly in “one piece”. I’m very much a broken, pretty mess, but people only focus on the visual on front of them. They are sitting across from someone who is dressed appropriately, someone who is clean, hair done, makeup on, and they think that someplace, somewhere, I have it all “together”. Sometimes I do, but mostly, I do not. I don’t pretend. I am as imperfect as the amethyst I wear around my neck nearly all the time, except during a Full Moon.

To this day, I still suffer. I still hurt, wondering how different life might have been if he had lived another ten or fifteen years. I miss him terribly. But most importantly, I remember. I remember it all.

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

“The tears I feel today
I’ll wait to shed tomorrow.
Though I’ll not sleep this night
Nor find surcease from sorrow.
My eyes must keep their sight:
I dare not be tear-blinded.
I must be free to talk
Not choked with grief, clear-minded.
My mouth cannot betray
The anguish that I know.
Yes, I’ll keep my tears til later:
But my grief will never go.”
Anne McCaffrey

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Dazed, Confused, and Out Of Sorts

I’m running out of ways to describe my current state of mind. Earlier this week I had a different sense of self, and then I came home to discover I had lost my house key and the remote for the alarm. Thankfully, they were found and brought to “Lost & Found”. I received a return call the following morning letting me know they were safe and sound, and that I could come and get them, which I did on Thursday. You cannot imagine how stupid I felt in the moment, especially considering my history. I have had a set of house keys since I was eleven years old. I still have keys for every place I’ve ever lived, except my last place of residence where I tossed the keys onto the front lawn on the final day of moving. That was my way of shedding myself of the negativity of a horrible experience that is still haunting and affecting me on a daily basis. It wasn’t an exact science, but in the moment, I didn’t want to physically be carrying around a physical memory filled with pain.

I don’t normally lose something I tend to keep my eye on. That error made me so upset, and it made me question myself for days. It was an enormous “What the fuck is wrong with you?” moment, at least for me. I know many people will say I am human, no one is perfect, and/or shit happens, etc., but I take my responsibilities seriously. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know me at all.

Despite that incident, I had an extremely productive neurology consult with a new doctor. I waited nearly six months to see her, and I was definitely feeling iffy walking into the situation. After going through all of the standard questions, a quick baseline test, and doing a neuro history to rule out what I have and haven’t tried, she immediately discussed the treatment method with me that she feels I am the best candidate for. I was relieved to hear someone cut through all the bullshit and go straight to precisely what I have wanted to do migraine-wise for the past six years. I have a three to six month wait, but she feels it will be worth it, and I am hopeful. It’s by no means a cure; I will still get migraines, but after my first year of treatment, I shouldn’t be getting daily migraines any more, or migraines that last for weeks at a time. In less than three years, I have had eighty migraine-free days. That isn’t even two straight months without searing pain. To be taken seriously right out of the gate and have someone treat me with such respect was truly a bit of a shock. As I’ve likely said before, my faith and trust in the medical community is basically nonexistent. In the past year, I have met three good doctors and maybe one or two decent medical professionals, but everyone else has been a medical failure, and for me, even one medical failure is one too many.

When I explained the appointment to my brother and told him how it went, he asked me what I am supposed to do for my migraines for the next three to six months. His exact words were “What are you supposed to do in the meantime? Chew Excedrin?” It was a valid question, and it reminded me that I had not asked for an abortive, so I will call ASAP and see if my doctor is willing to get Relpax approved until the new treatment begins. Thus far, my insurance company has been very on the ball with nearly all of the things I’ve needed, so I hope this won’t become a battle. I honestly can’t handle another moment where I have to battle anyone or anything. I am mostly a basket case (which is truly nothing to joke about) on Promethazine. As it turns out, stress really DOES affect us far more than we realize.

I have seen myself decline in a dramatic way over the past year. I have never felt more “off” or out of touch with myself than I am now. Being chronically ill isn’t fun, nor is it glamorous. It is a daily battle just to get out of bed. This is something people don’t seem to realize, unless it’s happening to them.

I am having a difficult time wrapping my mind around the fact that it is June. I rarely say “I want to go back to this month and start over.”, but I have definitely been feeling like this quite a bit lately. The heat waves and then 30-40 degree drops in temperature have taken their toll on me. But from here on out, I expect this to be a disturbingly hot summer and I am stressed with the thought of trying to navigate through it. I don’t want to deal with being sick, dehydrated, and isolated. There’s not much I can really do about any of these things, but the knowledge that it’s all headed my way is genuinely too much for me.

I am trying to keep up with everything here and still live my daily life. The truth is, my daily life is exceedingly dull and unhappy. I lack the ability to be fake and pretend it’s something it isn’t. So while I am clearly not writing as much as I would like, I am still doing the best I can. I thank everyone who has stuck with me all these years, for better or worse. Having an outlet for my thoughts is important to me.

Hopefully I will be able to write more this summer. I can’t make any promises, but I can try my best.  Here’s hoping I achieve more than heatstroke over the next few months.

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Decade

If I added up the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years I have spent missing my mother, I am pretty sure it would be an astronomical number. All those moments have brought me to this day; the tenth anniversary. A decade without my mother. It makes me sick to my stomach, putting the words out there into the universe.

My life has changed in such dramatic ways since I hung up the phone for the final time the night she passed away. No matter far I have come, no matter how much growth I have achieved, no matter the rises and falls, I am still gutted by every moment that led to her death.

The people who loved me the most are all gone. I live in a world where no one mentions my mother. No one talks about her, no one acknowledges that she even existed, and it deeply affects me.

I remember when she was alive and people would often accuse her of being “too emotional”. I don’t think people, especially now, are emotional enough. I don’t think people are anywhere near as human, kind, caring, or compassionate as my mother was. Occasionally I catch myself looking for those qualities in others, and I find people sorely lacking. Perhaps this is why I am more introverted and isolated than ever before.

I am by no means searching for a “mother figure” or “mother replacement” because those are simply things that do not exist for me. No one else could ever be her. I can hear my father’s voice whenever I speak to my brother, but my mother’s voice has grown distant and foreign, and for me, that is very sad indeed.

I’m never not going to be disgusted to have someone, be it a family member or a friends, act like today is “just another day”. Today is the day I lost my mother, my best friend, and my guidepost. As imperfect as I am, I will never be the kind, caring, loving person my mother was to her children and other people. I have learned to accept that.

Lighting Yarhzeit tonight was difficult and highly emotional, but I did it. I’m doing my best. My Mom always told me “Your best is all you can ever do, and if people don’t like it, at least you know you didn’t sit around ignoring a situation.”

I’m a writer because of my mother. She introduced me to power through my voice, and that’s something that will never change. Nor will my commitment and devotion to her memory.

“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.”
-Ching Qu Lam

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I’m Still Processing

Hey, everyone. 🙂 It’s been a rough time for me. Unfortunately my “rough time” is on a never-ending loop. No one is more tired of it than I am.

During all of this chaos and pain, I haven’t had “Writers Block”, but I have certainly had “Writer needs a break.” and “Writer needs a fucking vacation.” Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and any kind of break isn’t in the cards.

For me, one of the most crucial things about being a writer is choosing your subject matter. Do I want to write about people dying? Not so much. Do I want to write about Kate Middleton giving birth? No. Do I care about every single thing going on in the world? No, I don’t. That doesn’t make me a bad person, it simply means my priorities are different. My brain has an insanely fast processing system for certain types of information (I’m not kidding. Even when I’m asleep, I feel like I haven’t ever been “powered down”.), and sometimes I want silence. Okay, more often than not, I genuinely want silence. Inner peace is more difficult to achieve than one realizes.

I had a horrible experience last week that I do want to talk about, but in fairness to myself, I am still processing everything so that when I do speak up and speak out, people will understand why I am doing it. It’s important to call certain things into question and raise awareness. When it comes to mental health, any form of chronic pain, and migraines, I am NOT going to be silent about my experiences. These are small medical communities full of daily sufferers who aren’t being taken seriously. They are being cast out and demoralized by the very people they turn to for help. It’s disgusting. I refuse to be someone who doesn’t use the power of her position and voice to help others to the best of my ability.

Initially I was quite embarrassed over the incident. I do plan on talking about it, probably in my next major post. In the midst of having to feel ashamed and embarrassed, I thought “What if this happened to someone who wasn’t as smart or as strong as I am? What if this happened to someone who couldn’t advocate for themselves and go home at the end of this?” It’s been slightly over a week, and my mind is still in shock that I went through it and came out the other side. I know my behavior was in check, and I know I didn’t lose my temper until things escalated, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed at all. It’s important to explain and share it. I would hate for any of you to have gone through this. I had a few minutes where I was angry and afraid, and then this deeper part of me responded. Sometimes I forget that I’m a knock down, drag-you-by-your-hair, lay you out on the ground, make you cry for your mother, FIGHTER. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Of course, I’d like to be reminded without the outrageous drama. This will all make sense soon, I promise.

To those of you who have reached out to me over these last few weeks via social media, or by phone or text, please know how much your thoughts, kindness, compassion, and words mean to me. When friends and readers come to you with support, those are some of the best moments in life. Cherish them.

I think part of why I felt overwhelmed by the support I received is because I don’t ever assume my words or thoughts are making a difference for someone else. To then hear how my experiences, struggles, humor, and grace under pressure have helped someone get through their own battles, well, it puts a lot into perspective for me.

For the most part, I write something and I click publish. I might look at it once or twice after the fact, but I don’t usually go back. I put it out into the universe to be read, and I go on with my life. There’s only so much self-promotion I am willing to do. I don’t respect anyone who shoves their work down your throat, so I refuse to be anything like that.

More and more, people are coming back to me, sometimes months later, to thank me for speaking up, for sharing my very real thoughts, and for inspiring them. I am only egotistical to a small degree in that I am proud of the things I put my name on, and I’m the first person who has to laugh at my jokes and weirdness. When someone calls me and they’re genuinely hurting and upset, but by the end of the call they are laughing hysterically, I realize I have a gift that helps people. Perhaps G-d really does work in mysterious ways. 😉 I am a firm believer that people are drawn to you for specific reasons. Anyone drawn to me is either looking for strength, loyalty, a genuine ear, a genuine friend, or all of the above. Because in the beginning, we are all just words. You have no idea how that will transition into real life, but anyone who has ever met me and become a bigger part of my life will tell you I am consistently the same person. I can be hysterically funny and make you feel better, I can completely have your back, I will take your secrets to the grave, and/or I can be detached. I don’t think a single one of my true friends has ever witnessed the detached side of me. I am well aware that I’m rare. I have had to accept my rarity throughout the course of my life, but I feel like the right people come into your life and they stay. Anyone with an agenda, who doesn’t get what they want, is going to leave. It’s difficult to know what someone wants when they’re “new”. I suspect anyone who first meets me is meeting the cool, detached person who isn’t about to kiss anyone’s ass or try too hard for anything. I’m not looking to impress anyone. I am not starving for attention or friendship. I would rather have one genuine friend than one hundred “friends” coming into my life with an agenda. I can spot bullshit immediately.

In the midst of the ordeal I am still processing, I was asked “What do you think your purpose in life is?” I think we can all safely agree that is an exceedingly DEEP question to ask anyone. Like anyone else, I am still discovering my path, navigating my talents, and taking things one minute at a time. I will almost certainly spend more time wondering about purpose, and seeking it out. For many people this is defined by their roles in life. Mine is not. It’s a little bit like when someone says “You’re obviously a great Mom because you have cats.” The look on my face when people say this to me is always one of “Where the hell did that come from?” One thing has nothing to do with the other, and the analogy is kind of disturbing to me. It’s highly possible for a woman to be great at something and not have it likened to anything other than “You are great at this.” As human-beings, we wear many hats, but those hats should not be all that defines us.

I often find myself in situations where I feel appointed as the chief “slayer of demons”. While some people might say I don’t have to take on that responsibility, I will take on that which is of deep importance to me. If something could become a much bigger incident, I am more likely to see the bigger picture and get on board quickly, as opposed to backing down.

As a Scorpio, my sign is ruled by Mars and Pluto. Only one other sign in the zodiac has the same ruling planets. I’ve always found it interesting that Mars, which falls in line with the Roman God of War, would be attached to me. The way other people describe me is much the way astrologers and astronomers describe Mars. Combined with the constant regeneration of Pluto, it makes an awful lot of sense to me. Whether you believe in this sort of thing or not, I always notice how much these things tend to influence us. For many, it is without any knowledge whatsoever. I much prefer to be knowledgeable.

This incident is an enormous demon, and will probably not be the last one I have to slay in my lifetime. Not for a single second did I hesitate about retaliating. So while I navigate all the legalities and take a stand, I hope others will understand that I’m not only doing it for myself, I am doing it for everyone and anyone who is too afraid to speak up, or for those who fear backlash and/or repercussions.

I’ve been reminded of who I am. It’s taking a little time to mentally process all I’ve experienced and the knowledge that followed. I am determined to keep my head fully in this battle, and I know I will get there.

Wishing you all an empowering weekend and a fierce Full Moon ahead. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Every Witch Way, But Mostly Dead

Authors’ Note: **POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING**

Yes, the title is spelled correctly. Yes, it’s intentional.

Most of my weekends are spent doing things I’d rather not do. The weekends were once my refuge for sleep, quiet, peace, laughter, productivity, cooking, more laughter, and space. They are now filled with rushed moments, trying to pack a lot of time into a few hours here and there. I almost NEVER get to do something I genuinely want to do, and despite the fact that I am being supremely honest about that, I can’t say it doesn’t gall me. It does. There’s not a lot about my current life that I signed up for. I find that’s a repetitive theme these days.

On one hand, a person might try shaming me by saying I don’t appreciate what I have. I don’t recommend attempting that tactical method with me. I might seem nice, but I’m not. Only someone who truly understands what I am going through and experiencing would understand why I say what I say and feel as I do. The truth is; I don’t need to justify my feelings to anyone or have them agree or disagree. They’re MY feelings. I own them, and they are accurate.

By a certain age, we all kind of find our niche and know the direction we plan on taking, whatever that direction may be. It could be personal, professional, or a mixture of the two, but the decision is made somewhere along the way to go right or left, or maybe North, South, East, or West. Some of us meet forks in the road, whereas other people see smooth sailing on the same road from the initial decision until the end of their life. My life, for some unknown reason, is one fork after another. It is an expensive place-setting with more forks than one really need have on a table called life, but there they are; ever-present and obnoxious as hell. I’m not a mermaid, you can’t dangle shiny things in front of me and distract me. Perhaps one should try diamonds instead of forks. I’m a Royal Asscher kind of girl. 😉

For a while now the saying “Different levels, different devils.” has been on a repetitive loop inside my head. I have plenty to write and say, and no interest in actually drafting any of it into a post or anything else. I don’t get writer’s block, but I do experience writer’s boredom. Let’s call me a severely bored writer for the moment. It’ll pass.

My usual desire to be creative on other artistic platforms where I have either interest or talent is also in a “bored” phase. For me to walk into ULTA and come out with NOTHING is almost unheard of. I found it kind of disturbing when I was the person who didn’t walk out with a bright orange bag.

A friend asked me how I was doing last week and I replied “I’m in a state of really not giving a shit about anything or anyone.” Not realizing that her reply could make or break someone else, she responded by saying “Oh. That’s kind of a good thing, I guess.” I informed her it most certainly is not.

I’ve been pretty ill on and off for months. I was holding up halfway decently, and have slowly started to decline. Let’s get something straight; no one should EVER rejoice in someone else’s pain or hardships. You can’t tell me I’ll feel better if “just pray harder” or if I “take a bath” and “light some candles”. Seriously?! What the fuck is wrong with people?

Your mental health, and mine, is just as important as the rest of your health. I call Mondays “Mental Health Monday” because I allow myself that time to do nothing, but take care of me. To shut everything and everyone off and allow myself to get into the correct head space to do what I need to for the week. Unfortunately, I already know that I will be badly triggered tomorrow. As a result, today was not the day I intended for it to be.

I am forced to make a heartbreaking decision. Will it kill me? Physically, no, but it will kill my soul, whatever is left of it after feeling like I’ve experienced various forms of hell for the past two and a half years. If I do it, there’s no point left for me anymore because I will finally know there’s no future left for me to return to. There’s no point in forging ahead without what little in this world that gives me hope and keeps me alive.

As usual, my brother caused critical damage to this situation, refuses to take ownership of his behavior and words, and I have no where else to turn. I have always been told that I don’t know how to ask for help. There’s a reason I don’t ask, and it’s because time and again, I’ve been shown cruelty and the true nature of others. If you genuinely want to help someone, then you’ll do it and NEVER throw it in their face. You won’t lord it over them and tell them what a horrible person they are. If you genuinely want to hurt someone, well, I’ve been hurt enough.

This week will be full of challenges and pain for me. I hate feeling hopeless and I hate feeling like I have failed when the truth is, I’ve FOUGHT LIKE FUCKING HELL to get this far. My body feels like it’s perpetually at war, and it is. My immune system fights itself and it leaves me in a constant state of fight or flight. As I type this, my heart isn’t sure if it should be calm or jump out of my chest. It’s exhausting and I’ve had enough.

I spend a little too much time in Witch City, and have for the past year. Yesterday I was subjected to more people than I EVER want to be around in close spaces for over two hours. I have never been more happy to escape crowds of people. I keep thinking how sad it would be if this was my last weekend ever. I wonder if the selfishness of others would then finally be realized.

I never get to do anything of my own choosing. But I do get to control what I write.

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Well-Placed Word

dowhatyoufeel

Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Life, On Hold

I guess late Friday night has become my new “time to write”. I have no idea when that became a thing, but let’s roll with it, shall we?

My big accomplishment this week was talking to my insurance company and getting an emergency reinstatement, all thanks to someone who knew what she was doing and was the kindest person one could hope to speak with. The best part was, as she was helping me, saying “I don’t know why they needed address confirmation. You already confirmed it twice. And I’m not seeing where they sent you a letter, but apparently they wanted confirmation by June 13th. This makes no sense.” She then told me to call back Wednesday morning. After four hours of not being able to get through to anyone (I love being on hold for an hour and then being hung up on. T speak to a person once this week, it was a six-hour wait on hold, in total, and constantly calling back whenever I was hung up on.), I finally got confirmation through the automated system that I’m “active”. Yay! The downside is that I still have to call again to see if they will reactivate the “child company” before September 1st (I spoke with them, they told me their system might update next week, but there are no guarantees.). It’s still early in the month and there’s no legitimate reason I should have an issue. However, this does mean canceling the neuro follow-up without the “child company” to pay for it, which, lets face it, I had no belief in, any way. When a doctor is out of the room before you’ve finished speaking, it’s not a good sign for things to come. He still hasn’t called me back, still hasn’t squared away medicine or ANYTHING requiring prior authorization, and I don’t see the point in going in without knowing I’m covered for the visit and two, to discuss what? Would he even listen to me? That’s a twenty-minute waste of my time and I simply don’t have the patience for it this month. I’ll reschedule, and maybe between now and then, he can figure out how to get his shit together before I write a scathing review.

I rescheduled one of the appointments I wasn’t able to get into last Friday, but the person who scheduled it informed me I would require the doctor to “discharge me as her patient” in order to see someone else. I listened to the message and “Are you fucking kidding me?” is all I had to offer. I’m a PATIENT, not cattle, not a piece of property “owned” by the overlord. I feel like it would be hypocritical to see this doctor for thirty minutes and then say “Can you discharge me to another physician because, after the way you treated me when we first met, I cannot in good faith work with you moving forward.” Doing so could cut me off from much-needed medication, and I am already angry that she put me in a compromising position with my current primary care doctor, who surprisingly came through for me. And if you’re going to practice what you preach, it is hypocritical to sit with someone you already know isn’t going to work out, merely to get a month’s worth of medication. Plus, how long would I have to wait to see someone new? The whole thing stresses me out and makes me ill. These are things I will have to bring up at my appointment next week, which is also stressing me out.

Every aspect of my life is on hold. Finishing up online classes for a certification? On hold. Starting new classes for a new certification so I can begin a career I actually want to work in? On hold. Being able to get up each morning with zero pain? Probably never going to happen. The issue with suffering from any form of chronic pain is that, if you sign a pain contract, you can be tossed from any doctor’s office if, for example, you decide to use Kratom or CBD oil as an alternative because they might look for it in a drug test. The pain I am in is so bad, all I want to do is go to the emergency room and scream until someone helps me. However, no one wants that put into their chart as “drug-seeking behavior”. I’ve never “sought drugs” in my entire life. The only addiction I’ve ever had in my life was to Polar Seltzer. I’m drinking my first bottle in months because I went off of medication based on sheer forgetfulness. In case you’re wondering, Toasted Coconut is as good as it sounds. 😉

I’m having trouble sleeping soundly. I’ve had a migraine every single day this month, and only had two migraine-free days all of last month. I’m hurting, stressed, frustrated, and fed up. I’d like to sleep soundly, wake up pain-free, and not have to struggle to push myself physically. I was hurting so bad last Sunday, I nearly passed out in public, but not before a woman who has never met me before stopped me at the grocery store to inform me I “look kinda pale”. I went into the stores’ restroom and took a look at my face. Nope, pale is my natural skin-tone. If you don’t know me and have no clue what I look like on any given day, it’s incredibly rude to approach a stranger and say “You look kinda pale.” I turned around and said “Are you being cute?” I was annoyed. It wasn’t the concern of someone stating I didn’t look well, it was something else, and quite frankly, combined with my eye makeup, I wouldn’t have approach ed me at all. The colors I’d used sort of made me look like a vampire. I didn’t notice it until after the fact and once I’ve finished with something like that, I am not taking it off and starting over.

I’m having terrible difficulties writing the things I want to write. After months of research and trying to get the ball rolling with an article revolving around chronic pain patients and the reduction of medicine we’re experiencing as a whole, I’ve had to focus more on my own health than I would normally be able to focus on a body of work. And since then, plenty of people have come forward and written things from their own perspectives. It sort of makes me wonder if I should bother at all, which bugs me, because I don’t like starting something I’ll never finish. It makes me feel like a fuck-up.

Yeah, I’m hard on myself. What might normally work for others in terms of decompressing only manages to stress me out more. I hate hearing these terms “breathing exercises” and “mindfulness”. It’s reached a point where I will throw something hard at you if you mention either. I cannot breathe past the pain I am in, so please spare me the nonsense. I’m plenty mindful, yet apparently not mindful enough for people who preach about it. And yeah, I lack the ability to “go with the flow” because the “flow” is monotonous and makes me want to walk in front of a truck.

No one wants to “exist” and wonder what their purpose is. People keep turning to me with “pain advocate” or “pain activist” issues and here’s the thing; I am having a hard enough time advocating for myself. For someone who has been told I am “always incredibly articulate”, I feel like an absolute moron trying to explain how badly I am suffering and how all I want is relief. I imagine this is what happens when your body is experiencing too much pain on a daily basis with no break. I have NEVER outright said to any doctor “Give me pain meds.” Never, and yet I feel distraught at the thought of being forced into a pain contract or worse, having a year-long (possibly longer) wait to get into any form of pain management. Pain management in Massachusetts is everything BUT pain medication. They will even prioritize surgery over managing your pain. If you will willingly implant a pain pump into my body, but are afraid to give me real medication in that pump, then there is no valid reason for me to put myself through surgery. I’ve never had surgery in my life. I still have both of my wisdom teeth, mostly because I’m stubborn. I know they will likely have to come out by the end of this year, and I’m kind of okay with that, but that is far less invasive than something being implanted into my body that may, or may not, work. See how stressful it all becomes when you think about it?

This is, by no means, the life I signed up for. I had dreams, goals, and things I wanted to achieve. And yet, as I sit here, my entire fucking life is on hold. I, for one, hate it.

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