Be Honest With People About Who You Are

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Earlier in the day I was thinking about someone I know, and how long he had to keep his sexuality a secret, out of fear that his friends, family, and career would all fade away. It disturbed me. It still does. I’m happy that he was able to tell everyone in his life, met someone, got married, and his friendships and career remain in tact.

I don’t sit around much thinking about hiding anything about WHO I am as a person. I believe we all deserve a huge measure of privacy for things that simply aren’t someone else’s business, but I’m also judged as a heterosexual woman who isn’t married.

Between the cat jokes, which I don’t find humorous, to men, on occasion, slamming a door in my face in public. I don’t believe I am a minority, but as I look around, I know that I am, in pretty much all aspects of my life. There is always an assumption made about me. Each one is wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing your worth and adding interest. There’s nothing wrong with being a strong person who, on occasion, needs to meltdown and rebuild herself out of the ashes.

I am still trying to accept me, and I imagine many people struggle with this privately. I find myself needing more quiet than normal, because I’m going through some awful things and it all wounds me deeply. But I’m trying.

I’m real. I have standards, and there’s NOTHING wrong with any of that.

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Things I’m Thinking About

Every once in a while, I believe we all slip into a “funk” or a mood we simply can’t shake. It then translates into lack of interest in things we’d normally be incredibly involved in. I know where my mood stems from, and why, but nevertheless, it is causing more harm than good. What else is new, right?

I was feeling pretty awful earlier this week after spending several days pretty much bed-ridden in pain. I made mention of this and several friends and family members told me I was “one of the strongest people they know”.  As per usual, someone tried to take that away from me by insinuating I am “not that strong” or maybe “not strong at all”. Before speaking, I suggest you live in my shoes for six months, experience my pain and suffering, and THEN you might be allowed to imply this or that, but ultimately, take into consideration the very real possibility that you don’t know me as well as others do. Or maybe you choose to see what they do not. Regardless, kicking a person while they’re down is pretty damn low, not to mention, greatly unappreciated. And yet, I wasn’t entirely shocked, just ticked off.

When someone sees you suffering and takes shots at you for no reason; it’s not about you.

There are days I push so hard to survive from one minute to the next, and there are days that take me out completely. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to do something, it means I’m listening to my body. When your body says “I can’t do this today. I need care.”, you have to listen. Just because you pushed your body the day before does not mean it will be kind to you today. Between being physically burnt out, enduring high levels of pain, and disrupted sleep patterns, I feel confident when I listen to my body. There are days I force myself to be “normal” and get things done, and there are days when my body just plain shuts down. It doesn’t mean one thing was more important than the other, but it does mean I have limitations.

In a few days, it will be my third month on muscle relaxers. They helped considerably when I badly hurt my lower back and it was one spasm after another, requiring me to take muscle relaxers, an anti-inflammatory, and spend hours with a heating pad directly where the issues were. Beyond that, they’re doing NOTHING for my neck, unless I’ve been writing all day and my neck feels tight from how I look at the screen for hours on end. I rarely look at the keyboard, which is an interesting little fact I only recently noticed about myself.

I’m writing, trying to complete the final draft of my manuscript. It was going very well, until I decided I needed to re-work the entire first portion of the book. Yes, I’m a perfectionist and a pain in the ass, but I’d rather write something amazing as opposed to something half-assed that seems familiar. Overall, anything one can think of under the sun has already been thought of already (A fancy way of saying “It’s all been done before.”), but can one put a new spin on it? Yes. And so, I have spent hours trying to figure out how to give it an alternative beginning. This involved a prologue I’m really proud of, and as I do my umpteenth read-through, it will involve some major changes throughout the storyline. I’m not pressuring myself about any of this work, but goal-wise, I am going to try writing as much as humanly possible during NaNoWriMo, next month. I’m averaging several thousand words on my good days, so why not take the new word count and see where it leads me? It doesn’t hurt to try. Again, I’m not going to pressure myself, but I AM going to work hard and write to the best of my ability.

If you did/do your best with the written word you put your name on, then you will have achieved much.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their week!

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

It’s Strange How What Drives Us May…

“It’s strange how what drives us may abandon us midstream, how what tickles our ears with lies one moment may tell us truths that knock us on our emotional ass the next.

After all, it is an unbelievably real world, with Darwin scribbling his thoughts into books and telling us what monkeys we are. Each of us explores possibility, hungry for sustaining adoration, yet we know enough to render ourselves helpless.

We strive and strain, bellow and believe, we learn, and everything we learn tells us the same thing: life is one great meaningful experience in a meaningless world. Brilliance has many parts, yet each part is incomplete.

We live, heal and attempt to piece together a picture worth the price of our very lives.

The picture I saw presented demonic executioners, who crippled those daring to look and consumed souls without defense. They’re everywhere. Some are people we know. Others are the great fears and addictions of our lives.” ―Christopher Hawke

Memorial Day Silence

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It’s so important to remember what this weekend is truly about. I have deceased family members that served and one family member who currently serves. My brother’s best friend returned with a Purple Heart. He always says “the real heroes came home in coffins”.

I got to spend half of this holiday weekend solo. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy “me time”. I was able to enjoy a long walk, a manicure, and have lunch by myself. Even though the walk killed my legs (I’ve walked so much the last few days, I’m probably going to be crawling in the morning.), it was nice to be out of the house, breathing fresh air, and enjoying pretty decent weather.

It’s 11:00 PM on a Sunday night and I’m singing at the top of my lungs, and because there’s so much wood around me, the acoustics are amazing. I am reminded that my professionally trained voice is pretty damn good. I need to sing more, because I need that creative outlet, just as I need my other creative outlets. Not singing is like cutting myself off from oxygen. It’s also a waste of talent. I hate wasting my talents, regardless of what they may be.

I definitely need to write more. I have two things I am working on, plus the novel. I also have a seven hundred page book to tackle as a reader. That’s a lot of work and a lot of words, but I love it. Tomorrow, I will write and read, and enjoy what’s left of my solo “me time”.

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Exactly how did I come to be solo this weekend? My cousin Julia is getting married in Vermont. By now, she’s about four hours or so into “wedded bliss” (Yes, I just rolled my eyes. I won’t lie about it, either.). As far as I can tell, my brother & I are the only family members who were excluded from the guest list. Believe me, this did not come as a great shock. The family dynamics are such that I do not consider them family any more. I grew up with Julia and her brother, Jamie, along with three other cousins. I can honestly say I felt my cousins were forced upon me at times, but I always loved Seth, Jamie, and Julia the most. So yeah, it’s a slap in the face and the epitome of rude, but it just reaffirms why I distanced myself after my mother’s death. This behavior will remind me why I will continue to avoid them on a whole. These are the kind of people that would eagerly attend a book signing as “family”, but only so they can say they know me. They’re happy to jump on the bandwagon, but they can’t be genuine family members. Here’s a fact; they don’t me. They stopped “sort of knowing me” by age fifteen, and even then, they didn’t truly know a damn thing about me

The things that were said and done are completely unforgivable. I rarely think about it or focus on it, but this was one of those defining moment reminders that I’m “not goof enough” in their eyes to be treated with any level of respect. Family embraces you; they do not throw you to the sharks and allow you to be eaten alive.

In fairness, I would not have attended even if I had been invited, but when you have a wedding and turn it into a four-day weekend, it’s a little over the top for me. I know destination weddings are popular, but they’re also expensive for attendees. The one family member I know who is attending actually said “Thank God it’s not in Hawaii!” I know people who’ve gotten married in Hawaii and didn’t even tell people. If you want a vacation wedding, you don’t need to drag 100-500 of your closest “friends” and family along with you. If you haven’t seen or spoken to someone in the past 2-5 years, and will not see or speak to them again for the next 2-5 years, then they don’t need to attend your wedding. Those are actually a set of rules every good wedding planner will tell you about your guest list. I know this because I’ve planned a wedding that didn’t work out. My up-to-date guest list is currently at under ninety people, and approximately 50-60 won’t attend. I look at it like this; those that do attend will have one hell of a party to enjoy. My cousins, who had actually been on the list, have since been removed. My Grandmother would be appalled at the mere thought of me not sending them invitations, but I can’t abide by her every wish.

When I do get married, I want the people around me to be those who are genuine in their love and respect for me. I don’t need anyone who is full of crap attending simply because they were invited. Nor do I want gifts that have even a trace of negativity in them. BTW: If you’re getting married, register for things in reasonable price ranges and use registries from different stores, not just a few, because it’s unfair to expect people to attend an out-of-town function AND spend a fortune on a gift. My cousin’s registry was appallingly out of touch and overpriced. Buy your own damn vacuum cleaner! Don’t register for one that’s $600. Maybe get with it and DON’T register for a $900 gift from Bloomingdale’s (I’m appalled that this was actually fulfilled. I hope like hell it was his parents or hers, because that’s INSANITY.). Asking for a $2,000 gift card to Anthropologie is taking it a bit far. Am I off-base? I would cringe at the mere suggestion of asking people for such things. In fact, I’d rather people give to a charity that’s important to me. How many people use a $400 vase? Not many. Even if they’ve been married for thirty years. And honestly, I’m surprised she’s not registered at Tiffany’s considering the prices on some of these items. There’s nothing down-to-earth about any of that.

I get invited to funerals, but I don’t get invited to weddings. What does that say about my family? It says “You’re not good enough to celebrate the happy times, but come and pay your respects.” I have an answer for that; no. I did not attend my Great-Aunt or Great-Uncles’ funerals. I was not personally contacted about either passing. It’s not hard to make a fucking phone call, I made tons after my parents passed away and not once did I complain about who I had to call or how many calls I had to make. I did it all by myself.

My Great-Aunts’ funeral was seven months after I lost my Mom. I was a third-party mention. I was in the process of moving, surrounded my boxes and tons of junk. I didn’t have the ability at the time to drop everything and run three and a half hours away. I sent sympathy cards to each of them, one of which was returned to sender. But when my Great-Uncle passed away, I never would have found out if my Aunt hadn’t told me.

I take great issue with my mother’s immediate side of the family trying to use my Aunt as the go-between, and saying things about me that aren’t true. I was accused of being “hateful” and “angry” at my mother’s funeral. I was mourning TWO PARENTS who died young; how exactly did my professional courtesy toward them become an accurate portrayal of how I feel or think? They don’t know me to decipher that aspect of who I am. Not one of them said “I’m so sorry for your loss.” or “Call me if you need anything.” There was not a single kind word spoken to me or my brother. There was zero sympathy or empathy. For all I know, they might have been wasting the thirty minutes it took for them to show up and pay their respects! You can tell a lot by watching a person’s face and the three of them looked like someone had interrupted their Wednesday afternoon.

I was insulted by one cousin who, in response to the eulogy I gave, came up to me afterward and said “You’re such a great writer. You should really do something with that.” Wow! Why don’t you slap me?! The woman has zero tact and even less common sense. I have no tolerance for crap like that. It was a backhanded “compliment” and I could have let it go, but when I heard that I was “hateful” toward them at the funeral, which is untrue, I lost it. If said to my face, none of them would have faces to walk around with, so why say it behind my back? If you think there’s an issue to be resolved, grow a pair and say something to me directly.

Ultimately, the world doesn’t revolve around them, even though they believe it does. I was barely aware they’d be attending. I was dealing with a lot, and I still am. Have any of them reached out once in nine years to see how my brother or I are doing? No, but they’re more than happy to discuss me behind my back. That’s not family. They’re merely people I dealt with growing up. Family behaves like family, not when it’s convenient, but all the time. I just happen to have the unfortunate luck in being related to them, despite the fact that they’re my first cousins once removed (which to me, is basically saying they’re my second cousins. I don’t care about being genealogically correct on this one.)

I spent most of my life being compared to their children. My Great-Aunt would brag to my Grandmother (In her eyes, her Grandchildren were somehow superior to me simply by existing, My mother & Aunt also dealt with this while growing up.) and in turn, I’d have to hear “Why can’t you be more like…” How about because I’m ME. Being myself is damn good, and I’d prefer to remain me. With all due respect to my Grandmother, who was an amazingly tolerant, kind, giving, generous woman; I’m glad I’m me. She took a lot of shit from my Grandfather’s family, as well as her own, and having witnessed all that I did between her and my Mom, I won’t stand for it.

I have cousins who CHOOSE to be a part of my life. We didn’t grow up together, and at least one cousin feels robbed because of that fact, but we’re close and that’s a lovely thing. They’re smart enough to see me as I am and accept me. I can only have a relationship with people who are open to having a relationship with me. If you’re going to treat me like second-hand shit, and tell blatant lies about me, then NO, I am not going to engage with you. I have the right to pick and choose my friends, as well as my family. Simply put, I don’t need the drama, or the hassle.

I find myself content sitting here typing, with Kitten by my side being a cutie. I have thirty minutes of a movie left to watch, and I can binge-watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix until I get sleepy. I can finish my laundry and just breathe. I am grateful for the time spent on self-care. I am grateful for the songs I’ve sung tonight, for the solitude and peace of it, and for the fact that I can pull some of that solitude back into myself Tuesday afternoon when I return from my doctor’s appointment. I missed NOTHING by not being invited, and I do not feel excluded. In fact, I feel superior.

Even more so, I am content in the fact that by being me, I’m one of the strongest people I know. I don’t have to be false or put on airs, or waste time thinking about what others think of me. Think away, providing your combined I.Q. isn’t equal to your shoe size. Life is short. I have real problems. Who gives a fuck about self-absorbed idiots? Not I.

P.S. Grandpa, I am deeply sorry that your sister’s children are not what you thought they were. I’m glad I see everyone clearly. I know you can see it, too.

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

Easier Said Than Done

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I’m having one of those days when I’m close to checking myself into a hospital to prevent a complete and total nervous breakdown.

My doctor’s appointment went really well though. 🙂 Of course, I question whether it went well because I eliminated the word “Fibromyalgia” from my vocabulary, or if it would have been okay to say it. I don’t like dumbing myself down, but this time I DO want a doctor to actually remember to put a diagnosis that important in my chart. I like that this is a group, so the referrals are all office-to-office, which is easier than having to look for someone on your own. Plus, one referral already got back to me with information, so I was surprised. The doctor’s assistant even called today to make sure I’m feeling better because the doctor is concerned that my sinuses are so bad, I could rebound with an additional infection. That phone call was SUCH a shock. I have family & friends who don’t even do that! It’s rare for me to meet someone and think “Wow! She’s such a doll.” In fact, I NEVER say that, so I definitely feel like I chose the right doctor.

Here’s hoping I don’t have that breakdown. I am trying really hard, but I feel like my head is going to explode from everything coming at me. I think the best advice I can give myself is not to answer the phone for the next day or so. I’m tired of hanging up angry, upset, or unable to form sentences.

Letting It Pass

People make an awful lot of assumptions when you keep the majority of your thoughts private. They desperately try to read your body language and facial expressions, but they don’t know what any of them mean, so again, they make assumptions. I’m not the kind of person anyone should be making assumptions about.

I have a very close-knit group of friends who I’d do anything for. I have a handful of family members I value, and sometimes even that is iffy. Beyond that, I keep things extremely quiet. It doesn’t mean I don’t think, feel, or love. It just means I keep things contained. My brother calls it “extreme cop face”. He will often joke that I’m working for the CIA because I keep my private life SO private, it’s basically a mystery. Growing up the way I did, I felt like I had to. It was a way of protecting myself. We all have coping mechanisms that, on occasion, follow us through life. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong or that you need to change, it’s simply how you keep yourself in check.

This is the second year in a row where I was invited to Passover functions. My entire life before this, I either spent the holiday with my parents and Grandmother, or I didn’t celebrate at all. I was sick in bed last year, so I did not attend anything. I’m not that far from it now, I’m in horrific agony, but this year I just flat-out said no. No to someone else’s friends, where I can’t go through the interrogation I know is coming, and no to my cousins, because I’m not schlepping thirty minutes away two nights in a row for something that isn’t all that important to me. Sad, but true. I love my cousin and I’d kill for him, but not enough to sit through something that is basically traumatic for me.

Because I said no, assumptions were made and accusations flew. I was accused of being “socially phobic”. Not true. I am not AFRAID of people. If I were, I’d never leave the fucking house or speak to anyone! I dislike people. I dislike inane conversation, things that do not matter to me, conversation I have no business taking part in, bullshit, falseness, disloyalty, petty, catty crap, and knowing in advance that I don’t belong. What smart person puts themselves into situations where they already know they do NOT belong?! I don’t. I have better things to do with my time. It’s valuable.

I am not one of those people that believes that good exists in everyone. I’m smarter than that. That’s like saying prisons aren’t full of murderers and rapists. Yeah, I bet they all have hearts of gold, too (Yes, I do enjoy my sarcasm.). If people want to meet me, they should be able to do so on comfortable terms. A holiday is not one of them. That’s my feeling on the subject. Besides, I lack the ability to pretend I’m enjoying myself when I am in pain, annoyed, or intolerant of those around me. I like so few people, it’s not even funny, but I am by no means phobic of others. I’ve made more new friends in the past year than I’ve made in the last ten. If I was indeed “socially phobic”, those friendships would never have made it as far as they have. Those I am now super-close with never would have gotten as close as they have, either. So let’s call it what it actually is: Socially selective. I’ve always been this way. I’ve always picked and chosen my friends because I am the type of person that doesn’t have to accept the crumbs of life. My mother always told me “Choose your friends wisely.” She was right. I’ve been burned by friends I did not choose, so there you go. I am socially selective. It’s not a fucking crime against humanity.

I don’t feel the need to attend every single thing I am invited to. Let’s face it; there aren’t a lot of things to begin with and sometimes, when I’m not sick, I just want peace and quiet to focus on the work I’m doing.

I have a religious function coming up in late June/early July that I will indeed attend, but I’ve known about it for months and that’s different than last-minute mentions. I have time between now and then to put an outfit together, and even if I feel like shit, drag myself because I promised my cousin I’d be there. It’s a special moment for him, and since I’m the only family he has here, I’ll go because he asked and because he told me how he felt about me living so close.

I have a friend coming to visit this summer, as well. We’re trying to plan a day or two where we can just hang out and have fun. I’d NEVER agree to being out in the sun during the summer for just anyone, so she was thrilled when I suggested we make solid plans. For me to know in advance that I have something to look forward to is really nice. But these are things with my peers. If I’m going out, I want to have fun. I don’t want to be pissed off, miserable, depressed, unhappy, in pain, or have my plans made for me by someone else. Life is short and I want to enjoy the time I spend and who I spend it with. I want to be able to be myself, knowing I’m not being judged. I want to be around people who appreciate and respect that I am imperfect, goofy, inappropriately hilarious, sarcastic, witty, smart, and that I don’t take crap from anyone. There’s a softer side to me, too, but very few people get to see her and that’s exactly how it should be. I believe in reserving pieces of myself for myself.

I can’t recall the last time someone asked me what I wanted to do instead of telling me what was being done and asking if I wanted to tag along. There’s a difference between the two, and for me, it’s an immense difference. If someone wants to spend time with me, it can’t be all about them. That’s not right, nor is it fair. If “going out” is going to leave me stressed, angry, in pain, or worse, all three, then I’m not going to engage. I’d gain more by staying home and learning something as opposed to making myself sick.

This year, I just need the holiday to pass. I am trying to focus on my health. I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled and I want to go into it with a list of issues to cover. I want to hit as many points as humanly possible because no one should have to suffer like this. I always tell other people to make lists before they go to the doctor, and I find myself doing that now, too. I know it will result in x-rays, lab work, MRIs, and a referral to a neurologist, but that’s better than nothing. I’d rather look forward to all of that as opposed to continuing to suffer. I can handle starting fresh, but I can’t handle the pain for another second. I shouldn’t be struggling to walk or feeling like someone has put rods in my spine. I am tired of feeling like I’ve been beaten or run over by a truck. I’m tired of looking at my back and seeing nothing but bruises. Hell, I’m tired of finding bruises on my body, period.

Not celebrating a crucial holiday has nothing to do with my faith. G-d knows who and what I am. I am imperfect. I pray. I hold doors for people. I let people ahead of me on line in stores. I give to charity and help people whenever I am able. I call people and check in to make sure they’re okay. I write letters, e-mails, and send cards. I try never to forget a birthday or an important moment in someone’s life. Celebrating a holiday doesn’t make you a good or bad person. Being emotionally present for people is more important to me. Not being cruel and hurtful is more important to me. Being able to look at myself in the mirror and know I do more right than wrong is more important to me.

I’ve said it before, but life is indeed short. I don’t get to spend a lot of it happy. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I was happy or what it felt like, but at the beginning and end of each day, at least I’m real. These things don’t have to be important to everyone, but they do have to be important to me.

Wishing everyone a Happy Passover and/or a lovely week ahead.

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