Ghost Story

You tell me you watch ghost stories alone in the dark

When I tell you I can’t do that, you tell me ghosts aren’t real.

I laugh, because I don’t know how to tell you how wrong you are.

My ghosts don’t roam empty corridors, or hide behind doors that no one dares to open.

My ghosts inhabit my body.

They roam the corridors of my mind,

and hide behind the door of my heart,

that no one dares to open.

Panic is a phantom that dwells in me, sometimes for months at a time.

Anxiety an angry specter leaving my extremities numb and shaking,

my heart racing,

and the people I love alienated.

Baby, to be with me is to inhabit the haunted mansion that no one will go near.

It can be a hopeless place,

with a thick black shroud of depression blocking out any hope of light.

But today,

when you held me in your arms, you made all the light come back.

You told me I am amazing,

and my hands shook,

and my heart raced,

not from panic, but anticipation,

and today,

for once,

the ghosts were silent.

Stay With Me

Stay with me.

You have told me you will,

from that first night.

Those first, tentative hours of learning.

“I’m not going anywhere” you whispered.

Did you know I heard it as an oath?

A covenant I cling to like a raft in the white waters of my life?

 

Stay with me,

Not an easy undertaking, to be sure.

I am a riptide.

All those who have come before have gone,

swimming to the safety of the shore,

frightened by the darkness and passion of my soul,

the sunlight so often unable to penetrate the inky blackness.

Stay with me.

When my demons are circling,

too numerous and malevolent to be named,

forcing me to banish you for crimes that are not your own.

Be the one who is brave enough to stay.

Take up your sword and fight with me

until the pale, watery light of morning breaks through.

 

Stay with me.

Let your presence be an avowal of permanence.

Let your light be my constant guide

and together, you and I just might do the unthinkable.

But you have to be ready,

you have to be sure.

Stay with me.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.  Statistics say one in four adults will experience mental health difficulties at one time or the other. So many of them will not receive the care they need. I know this, not only because I have read extensively about it, but also because for many years, I was one of the many. For years I suffered in silence, dancing ever closer to the edge- the point at which the black hole of depression becomes permanent, and eternal. This was in great part because I had no insurance, and very little money. The reason doesn’t really matter,.what matters is that too many people face that same edge, and far, far too many fall off.

Today, I have the help of a wonderful and gifted counselor and friend to guide me through my rough patches, when I fall into what S.G. calls my “dark and twisty place”. That is actually a really good description for depression, at least my brand. Depression is different for everyone. For me, it is dark, and cold, and very, very lonely. At its worst, my depression can be suffocating in its alone-ness. What is the same for everyone who suffers is what Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, says so eloquently. Depression lies. Always. Today I want to tell you, and tell myself, that when you feel like you are alone, when you feel like nothing is ever going to be right again, when you feel like noting is ever going to feel good again, that is depression, lying to you. Hold on. Wait it out. It’s hard, and it hurts. Take the meds, go through the therapy, and hold on. It’s going to stop. The light will come back. One day soon. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. For all of us. And when it does? It is so, so worth it.

Today I Drove to Work

Today I drove to work. Just me, in my car. I listened to the radio station I wanted to listen to, drove to route I wanted to take. All of this sounds ridiculously ordinary, right? Something everyone does, every day. For me, however, it was anything but ordinary. Today was the first time in over 14 years that I was able to do this incredibly ordinary thing.

I got a drivers license today. The reason I haven’t had one in over 14 years is a long and sad story for another time. I don’t want to think about anything sad or unpleasant today. Today is a happy day, one to truly realize how amazingly blessed I am.

I owe all of this to S.G. Not only because she gave me my car, the most amazingly generous gift She could have possibly given me, but because without her support, and encouragement, and unwavering faith in me, I never would have had the courage to try.

For all the years I lived without a car, I worked really hard to convince everyone that I didn’t miss having a car and I was perfectly happy without one. For the most part, I was happy. For most of that time, I lived in Baltimore and I could take a bus anywhere I needed to be. It worked. It meant always being about a half an hour early to work, standing for up to an hour in all types of weather, late at night, early in the morning, at a bus stop. It meant never buying more groceries than I could carry home myself. It meant lots of little inconveniences that I pretty successfully convinced people didn’t matter. Everyone but S.G. She will not hesitate to call me out on my bullshit, and she never bought my act from the day I met her.

Last night, she called me to wish me luck today. When we finished talking and were saying goodbye, she said “Good luck tomorrow. I know you can do this.” I will never be able to describe to anyone, including her, how much that sentence meant to me. I heard it in my head the entire time I was taking my test today, like a mantra. Know what? It worked.

Tonight, I am super tired, and filled with more gratitude than I can explain.Today I drove to work. And it meant everything.

Terrence Crutcher

I have started and deleted this post four times. I know there will be fallout. I know people I love and respect will disagree with me. I don’t really have a problem with that, exactly. I have very strong feelings about a ton of things, and a big mouth to voice those feelings with, so I am pretty used to people disagreeing with me. The thing is, this time, it’s too important. It’s important because people are dying, and it just has to stop.

On Monday, I watched a video of yet another innocent man die in the middle of a street at the hands of people sworn to protect him. He was unarmed, he had his hands in the air, and he was shot and killed. Hands in the air mean surrender. Hands in the air mean I have nothing to hide. Hands in the air mean peace. Terrence Crutcher died because his car broke down. I don’t care about past arrests, I don’t give a shit about prior convictions. An unarmed man had car problems and because of that his children will never see him again and that is horrifying.

I am a pretty blessed woman. I don’t have a lot financially or materially, but I am a white woman, I live in a “desirable zip code”, I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I also have a family. My daughter recently married a black man. They have two children, my grandchildren. I worry about them every day because being a black man in America is apparently punishable by death and I can not see another one of my family members die for no reason. My beautiful grandson Jayden is seven years old now, but one day he will be seventeen, and I don’t want to have to tell him that because of his color, he can’t go to the store dressed in a hoodie and buy a bag of Skittles.

This country collectively lost our shit because of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during our anthem. The thing is, haven’t we always promoted peaceful protest? Isn’t that our right as Americans? Maybe we should stop screaming in outrage and listen to why he is protesting. Maybe we can understand. Maybe we can bring change.

There is an attack on a gay bar, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight because you aren’t gay and it doesn’t affect you. Undocumented citizens are sent away to face unspeakable atrocities, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight because you aren’t undocumented and it doesn’t affect you. A black man dies at the hands of the police, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight, because you aren’t black and it doesn’t affect you. The problem is, one day, the vitriol and violence will be turned on you, aren’t you going to need someone to stand up and fight for you?

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for my meditation practice. When I first started meditating, I honestly didn’t see any difference in my life, but after the first month or so, I really did start to see small changes. Now, almost four months into daily meditation, it has become a vital part of my day. For me, meditation brings peace and balance to my entire day. I don’t get angry as quickly. I don’t respond to people trying to incite anger. I am learning to let things go, to breathe.

I am thankful for Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc  after a long, trying day. Perfect.

I am thankful for Sam, my youngest son, my ride or die, my reason for living. He has been such an amazing blessing to me from the day he was born, and at fifteen, has become a sweet, sensitive, and hilariously funny young man.

I am thankful for my Chloe girl. She is so much more than a dog. She is my confidant, my best friend, my bed partner. She is an awesome dog, and the greatest “person” to come home to!

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OK, yes, she needs a haircut, but seriously? Look at her face!

I am so grateful for my new car! I don’t even have it here in New Jersey yet, not until next week, and I am still beyond excited. Every day, I think of more things that are possible for me now, that never were before. My head is still reeling from the shock! Mostly, I am eternally grateful for the sweetest, most genuine friend I have ever had, who is responsible for all of this excitement. I have learned so much from our friendship, and from her, and she continues to amaze and inspire me more every day. I hope she truly understands how eternally grateful to her I am, not only for the car, but for her friendship which is invaluable and irreplaceable.

The Rules

I love writing, I always have, for as long as I can remember. When I discovered blogs several years ago, I knew I wanted to have one. I didn’t want it for money or fame, I honestly didn’t  think anyone would read it, except for a few of my very closest friends. Surprisingly, some people do, and I am so grateful for my regular readers!  From the very first comment I received, I promised myself I would allow all comments, good or bad, on my page, because someone took the time to not only read what I have to say, but wanted to comment on it as well. I still believe that is the best way for me to run my blog.

This Friday, when I should have been happily preparing to go to Baltimore to visit friends and family, my phone was bombarded with text messages, starting at 12:30 am. Apparently my ex, who has made it made it clear wants nothing to do with me, is one of my readers. She mistakenly believed that I was referring to her when I talked about S.G. and after my post on Friday, it was obvious to her that she is not at all who I am referring to. I felt bad, at first. I apologized for her confusion. The texts didn’t stop.

All. Weekend. Long. While I was with my kids. While I was with S.G.. While I was with other friends. She did not stop. I stopped answering. Nothing stopped them. Finally, by Sunday, I stopped receiving texts, and thought that life was back to normal.

On Monday, I couldn’t wait to post about my phenomenal weekend, and the amazing gift that S.G. surprised me with ( See Weekend Wrap-up). As soon as I posted last night, all Hell broke loose. I had a barrage of vaguely threatening, passive aggressive sub tweets directed to me, and the vitriol and hate in my comments was nothing short of astounding.

Here’s the thing about my blog. As the “owner” and moderator of this blog, I have the right not to allow someone to trash me on these pages. If you want to read my blog, that’s great. Please read as often and as much as you want, and I truly hope you enjoy it. If you don’t want to read it, I’m sorry to see you go. If you have something valid to say, I will absolutely allow that, even if I disagree with what you are saying, but I will not allow you to trash me and try to smear me here or on any social media. That is a dangerous road, and neither one of us will be happy with the outcome.

These are the rules for my blog. Are we agreed? Awesome. Let’s all continue in peace and love.