Over Board

 

Since I like to write about life in “metaphors” and “allegory” I would like to directly confront any haters by describing my life as a big Carnival cruise ship.

When you spend 33 years steering your ship with the same beliefs, illusions, escape mechanisms, denial and self defeating behaviors, you know how to steer, because its the way you were taught. It’s the way you always have done, the way your parents and even their parents taught, a map passed down with just one compass, a set group of working members that trust you to steer the way they taught.

Rejecting their way of navigation is to reject them, to question that any idea outside the script they have written for you is rebellious and ungrateful. By asking to maneuver this ship, your own, the way you hope, the way you dream, causes narcissistic panic and rage, for such a request slaps ingratitude, defiance, and no amount of love by either party changes this fact at all.

It is their fear of all fears, to lose control.

But you cannot dance for them, steer for them, look at a map that has nothing to do with you and pretend you are doing a job GOd made you for, not even for the love you feel for them.

It is too great a cost.

Trying only comes with their reminders of your past navigations, life boats of passengers that would leave, that little failed  marriage, financial irresponsibility, their hearts heavy with concern, so naive and desperate for love and approval, you believe them.

The drama and unhealthy anxiety and loss of weight and who had to bear such a thing watching you destroy yourself?

Your heart sickened and you would agree especially when the trump card fell, like how your children were at stake, and as my mother said when I excitedly announced my acceptance to Photography school, “But honey, your children need you. A good mother knows  you can’t ever get back your children’s childhood.”

But I had waited till Lola was in Kindergarten, my heart felt it true that I had real gifts, people had told me about my writing and photography, something my mother claimed she wouldn’t read.

It was just too unbearable for her.

Not to mention being the family laughing joke, the dating disasters, financial dependence, and so you went along, so you laughed with them.

So crazy, how could YOU be qualified to run your own ship?”

They meant to shut up, find a good man, stop causing drama, and do not ask questions that make them feel, look, or examine pain, but one last thing. DO not take front seat or that would mean that they may be put out of a job, a job they invested 33 years in keeping. One thing I have learned is that nothing is more important than their own illusion of control, that you somehow are responsible for the emotions, existence, needs, and life path of another simply by being born.

In your birth, you are their ownership.

But, what if they were right?

They always were.

Could you possibly be that arrogant, even crazy, to believe that something inside you knows more?

Read their map, take passenger seat with their compass, and they promise, you will always be safe, loved, and in God’s loving hands.

In many small moments of defiant self assurance and your own part brave, part powerful, part narcissistic inner guidance, you throw the compass over the side, rip their perfect map and do horrible things like go to school, take on boyfriends not of their knowledge or choosing, at 33 mind you. You refuse calls, break cars, and cry over missing your babies.

They tell you that this is abuse, this defiance of role, the writing, and you failed them by not taking the destination they paid and invested financially and emotionally for you.

In your young naive attempt for all that you have fought for, you throw up the middle finger, rip their map, not just in half with a clean line you can tape back later for emergency, but in many teeny pieces throwing them up in the air.

You clearly have no idea what you have done.

They watch in horror, announce insanity, and so you hear the many heartbreaking lies from the ones who KNEW you, who were watching, who cried and held you, so you dive deep in denial as your reputation is smeared, like a knife you know is cutting and bleeding in your back, but you refuse to pull out.

Sometimes pretending the pain isn’t really there is less painful than the wound itself.

And sometimes, this exact point causes you to never fully examine your wounds, your life, your loved ones, I believe, is a promise that you will in fact, become them.

The repair is not possible you realize as your heart slices to pieces, your children are no longer called or seen, even the ex that supported them is deleted next to you off of facebook, birthdays and holidays are ignored, with the exception of a lovely card, only for the grandchildren, who have been left to you for the explanation of why an entire extended family, aunts uncles and cousins, are gone. I couldn’t bare it. My babies most claimed to being loved were now pawn to a woman who claims I will not let her see them.

And so, you have what you have asked for, a ship, gulp, and no one to control the many anchors and nets, food preparations, or storm safety regulations.

You have a few passengers to take leadership of, all watching with careful scrutiny as to how this captain will maneuver without any map, an illogical quest for certain, and you can feel some of them smug at their obvious belief you will hit the rock of Gibraltar, or drown the entire boat from your selfish, ignorant, irresponsible and reckless decisions.

They are waiting to be right.

The others left are a little scared, with life jackets all on, you notice, a fact that makes you wince, seeing as there is only bright sky and little waves, but they have swimmies, goggles, inner tubes and helicopters on call.

So you will prove them all wrong. You will prove you are the Captain, the first to use an inner guidance and new technology from within. You are living your destiny, you say in the mirror at night, certain the gods will protect you and the ripple effect of your intentions will lead you and your girls to freedom.

You believe with all your might you are called to do so.

And in front of them all, in front of yourself, you run your ship directly into a glacier.

And another one.

You see with terror that the water has began to fill the first cabin of passengers and it is your fault, these passengers you have grown to love as your own family are all affected, their money and resources drained, their thoughts of your motives and choices are murmured below, but you can hear them all.

They are losing trust, amongst the chatter, you feel their worry and anxiety over you, causing great pain and a responsibility greater than you ever knew before.

That is the worst part of being a captain.
Letting down the ones you want nothing more than to love and protect that have no choice but to drown or get hit amongst the rocks with you.

I was in the McDonald’s drive thru, with Lola my cheerleader, Kat my critic, and I saw her eye me in my rear view.

She must have noticed I buy nothing for myself, even food, something she comments on, aware at too young of an age that mommy has had an excruciating break up, must move out without any idea where to live, needs extra work and fast, and is heartbroken mostly over missing them and wondering if in fact, everyone was right, once again.

“Mom,” she said, with authority in her voice, even at 10.

I was scared to look up.

“One day mom, you will have a big house and a man that is your real soul mate, you’ll see. You will go on trips and buy things and mom, you can do it. One day mom.”

“Yeah!” Lola cheered from the back, shouting, “YOU WONT ALWAYS HAVE NO MONEYS!”

She kept eating her fries while I said nothing, afraid to show the tears sliding, the belief they have in me had nothing to do with my past behavior, all to do with what they knew I was capable of.

“And a child shall lead them.”

I had already took on a first captain, one with a snarky spitfire of personality and courage, to test the waves, an open book of brilliance and psychological passion which she has mysteriously gained at such a young age.

Ya’ll know her as Thelma.

I hired her to research and build a new map you see, my courage and passion to my cause quickly passing, so I asked her to find a much better working compass, a growing regret was quickly coming with the realization I threw away with the first one with little indifference at the time.

She has bad news.
She cannot give me a new compass.
She WILL not give you a new compass.
She says it like the truth blazer she is, something I often brag will make her the greatest forensic psychologist of all time, but with me, you see, I demand she change the very core of what makes her beautiful and unique.

I explain carefully that I just want her to say it is okay.

She explains details over my ship with little patience and logical direct blows. She tells me I am the leader of this ship, not her, and not the ones before, and I have a choice. I will lead the ship I call my life, for good or bad, or not.

My knees go weak, not knowing I had unconsciously looked for the exact replacement of what I knew for all my life. I just saw pain, blinding white light, and an evil girl who cut up souls and served them on strawberries.

It took a lot of time to see the real Thelma, not the woman I only projected upon as “mother.”

On many occasions I imagine I might have challenged her to first deck where I would wrestle her lady like uppity ass to the ground, but in fact, something worse happened.

I realized she was right.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I did what all confident self seeking freedom fighters do and cried, begged, demanded she do it, fell faint on the floor from the magnitude of it.

She just rolled her eyes.

Until the breaking.

Something had to be changing for she was evolving into the nurturing and kind friend, the co caption I was used to was not empathetic, even harsh.

It was the first time I saw her as she was, and had always been, but from my own dysfunction and terror of being abandoned had blinded me to ever seeing the real her.

I saw after a year that she had no life jacket on or life boat pulled to the side, nor had she ever.

How could I have missed this?

So this was the breaking, the pounding of my knees to the ground, the layers of unworthy unloved messages and beliefs began to take over, and I had nothing left to fear.

In that moment, I had and was nothing,

The interesting thing about pain is that some pain keeps you stumped for years, and I had the tears of a clown with the make up dripping off, only my true sad self to let through and all of it, all of it, had been not my fault, but my responsibility.

I wasn’t stumped at all. I was aware I had done nothing I had set out to accomplish, that intentions mattered nothing, that I was in fact, the scum on the bottom of the scummiest bottom.

So the reality I had been missing was that she had not changed into anything, for I saw her, my biggest defender, fighter, support and friend. It was I who was the one changing, the parts of me who kept her and the world away were the ego and I had none left, not anymore.

Then I heard some music, coming from bottom deck, Justin Timberlake I believe, blasting on the radio, my girls coming up to shake what their mama gave them, the ship half burned, ship wrecked, void of food.

True deliverance comes not when we are accepting mighty awards in front of all the people who didn’t believe in you, our shadows and ego convinced OUR truth will be rewarded, maybe even a podium or Ted Talk might come our way.

It just is never going to be that way for me.

It is in the destruction, when the tides have turned and all is lost at sea. It is in the shipwreck and pirates who betray again and again, so you find treasure in your laughter, in your glories, in your unforgivable mistakes, and if you have a lucky break, all you can see and feel is just peace.

These are the finest of any treasure a captain can find, when her ship becomes eerily still while the  dolphins came to say hello, jumping in perfect circles. One by one they come, dressed in costume, Kat and then Lola, Thelma and Dad, all the ones who love from a broken heart come to dance.

“You are the captain of your ship, the captain of your soul” is a quote I scribbled down way before I took on this journey, and I will not begin being grateful when I find the destination, the flag, the written map the gods reveal before me.

Sink or swim, with maybe one float left to hold on as I watch my boat burst into flames, it doesn’t matter.
I will dance just the same.

For everyone on board, from past to present to unknown to future known, this is the song I am dancing to, hoping you all are blessed, touched, and loved. It is you who have been God’s touch on my shoulder.

Enjoy!

Michael Franti & Spearhead LIVE

 

Dreaming

To know someone deeply is to know what their dreams are made of.

I have been thinking a lot about dreams, yours and mine, the ones I have carried my entire life, tucked securely away in the pockets of my heart.

We don’t know if we can endure the pain, fear, doubt, and failure, but we learn to persevere, to hope, to climb.

It is the best part of being alive to see our dreams come into existence, to have that baby placed in our arms, to find the partner you dared hope for, to have that diploma, that business, to be the reason a child reads his first book.

I remember being a young thing in Charleston, the place I love with all my being, riding in the car with the man who would soon be my husband. We were driving over the Folly Connector, the windows down, my feet out the window, his hand on my knee.

The sunset was more beautiful than usual, leaving us to our thoughts, and he looked into the rear view mirror, back at me and smiled.

Soon you are going to be my wife. Can you believe it?” I took a deep breath from excitement.

“And one day,” he said, “we will be on this same bridge, but we are going to look back and see not just one car seat, but two.

He said it more like a fact and although it was a concept I couldn’t conceive of at the time, I nodded happily, placing my head softly on his shoulder.

And so here, with this thought, began the birth of our dream.

The birth of that dream brought two beautiful girls, friendship, family, pain, joy, death, love, destruction, and transformation. It was our dream, and God did we fight for it, both of us stubborn and neither willing to admit defeat, not to something we wanted and created in the first place.

We didn’t know yet how to let go so instead, there was kicking, screaming, fighting, crying, pleading, avoiding, and ultimately, leaving.

I realize now I was almost willing to die in order to keep a dream alive.

I am learning to dream again and I feel a lot like a lost little child trying to find her way home. It is a painful beautiful process to know myself deeply.

For all the dreams I have lost, I want to tell them they were beautiful, that they mattered, that they made me the woman I am today. I have new dreams to make, some bursting at the seams, others just forming thoughts or questions in my mind.

I want to tell all my new dreams that I need courage, perseverance, and a lot of hope. I am done dusting away the old, and in my heart, on top of a lot of tears and finally a smile, have placed one big welcome mat.

The Flip, the Switch, and the Crazies.

My intention with this blog was for me to write about my demons, the censored parts of my life that I need to purge to feel healthy, without judgment.

I wanted to be fearless in my writing, to bring all the dark places within me to the light, to throw the f bomb around if needed, to journal my deepest wants and needs, to write about all the people who have blessed, cursed, hurt, contributed, and loved me on the journey.

I’m not so sure it was a good idea to publish it on facebook. And yet, I’m not so sure it isn’t. For one, the blog I wrote titled “The One Who Got Away.” actually ended up being read indeed by “The One Who Got Away.”

I used to call him Hurricane as one of his many nicknames.

He had so much energy and power and enthusiasm for life that it was like he couldn’t help but start electrical storms every where he went. And so, the blog was published on facebook, which he read, and he asked me to please come visit him and he would pay for the plane ticket. I think I am a little bit in shock over this.

What am I going to do? I have no freaking idea.

And of course, there are issues surrounding my father. I want to write about him because he is my ultimate teacher, the catalyst of all that I have learned through pain and destruction, forgiveness, and self awareness.

He has taught me what I am made of, how much I love, how secretly I hurt, how deeply I give. He has forever changed me for the better but in sharing those details, I fear that I will hurt or anger people I love by putting the ugly details of our family’s dirty laundry on public display. I am still working this out by constantly reminding myself to trust the process. I tell myself often to stop asking for the acceptance and validation from people outside of me, to live and speak my own truth and ultimately, to trust that my good intentions do actually matter.

Clyde isn’t even close to being ready for a committed relationship, and on most days I am good with this, enjoying being in the moment with him, our friendship still feels like fresh air, and I am hopeful it always will. We have so much effin fun together.

I knew from the beginning that his heart does not belong to me, but to his ex, and I still find this to be a bitter pill to swallow. Love is absolutely ridiculous and unfair, isn’t it? The love one of us would dream of having another would just give away. He’s trying to let her go and meanwhile, I’m trying to let him go, all the while trying to remain fearless, unguarded, and hopeful. This to me is what I call the flip, the switch, and the crazies. On a high note, photography is coming into focus and I will be finding out soon if I got into the school of my dreams, if waiting tables will soon have its end, if I have the courage to go face everything that makes me weak in the knees and faint at heart. I believe I’m doing well on my 90 day diet to follow my bliss. Some days I think my heart may just break wide open, and what you see come out will look a lot like this:

Clyde

I have been asked by several people to write a book about some of my dating experiences. OUCH.

I admit that after my divorce I didn’t give a damn, became somewhat a serial dater, protecting my heart so insanely that it just made sense to date the outrageous and ridiculous, rather than risk finding something real.

In fact, I wasn’t real. Not really. Not yet.

I think I will eventually write about some of these experiences, like Mr. Electric, who picked me up at church, took me to Moe‘s, and bought me a car the next day. I think about all the musicians and I just cringe, especially B. H. Rocker, who screamed into microphones and called it music, believing he was so huge underground that I should have to walk behind him into bars. It was for my safety, you see.

The man wore pigtails and different colorful bandanas for God’s sake.

There was the man prescribed to me by my doctor, Prescription Dan, who after coffee, sent a penis shot captured in the midst of ejaculation, a stream so brilliantly photographed, I can’t figure out how he did it. A tripod? My doctor was profusely apologetic.

I think you get the point.

After being devastated with my last boyfriend leaving to live on a boat in Italy, I decided it was time for me to take some serious time out, to refocus, to think about who I was and what I wanted out of life. I buried myself in self help books and work, and at first, I didn’t like what I saw. I avoided mirrors and had night sweats, breaking addictions to sleeping pills and anxiety meds.

I found that all my coping mechanisms came in the form of blue tablets called Xanex and without them, I had to rediscover ways to function. The first thirty days were terrifying. I put one foot in front of the other, took on one day at a time, let every scary emotion I had been running from come to the surface. I wasn’t used to feeling anything much less everything, all at once, all the time.

I felt like I would never stop crying and that I had been issued one big life sentence, a lifetime of pain for all the mistakes I had made, for all the hurt I had accumulated and had been unwilling to address.

And then something rather shocking happened.

Thirty days turned to Sixty and then to Ninety and by the time six months was approaching, I was beginning to not only become comfortable but actually like my own skin. A spark I forgot existed began to ignite inside of me and I was effortlessly laughing, creating, dreaming.

Until my friend M decided it was time for me to be set up on a first date. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hell no. NO WAY.

I wanted to vomit. I listed out every reason why I was one big mess and she laughed me off saying it would be fun, great, and well past due! It began with text messages and he had this irritating way of making me smile constantly, pulling me in to compulsively checking my phone again and again for what he would say next.

We decided to meet the day after Valentine’s Day and quite frankly, I kind of hoped it might be disastrous, so that I could wipe my hands of this risky relationship business, something I was so tired of failing at.

And well, he wasn’t a disaster at all, damn it.

he was smart, and funny, and kind, and yes, sexy.

The entire time he talked I wondered what the hell he would do with a girl like me. He was a gentleman, thoughtful, believed in taking his time in relationships and I respected him immediately.

There was also something so endearing about his open and honest nature, telling me things about his past relationship that made me know he was healing as well. He let me know things right away that were not easy for me to handle at all, but for some reason, I just couldn’t find any of them reason enough to walk away. And believe me, I tried.

And Oh my goodness, is he funny. Silly, actually and very childlike.

And a really good friend.

On our third date, we went to the movies. It was fun, relaxing, and I didn’t really want it to end at all. He drove me back to my car where we talked for at least an hour, until I noticed a man in a hooded jacket cut across the parking lot, his eyes darting back and forth, and my stomach started to turn.

I felt something might be dreadfully wrong. I felt my blood pressure rise and my heart stop and I worried about what Clyde might have to do, knowing he kept his gun close, having been robbed at gunpoint just earlier this year.

The shady dude slowly opened my car door. I almost vomited. In a flash, I saw every scary horrible scenario flash through my mind like a series of bad movies, but happening to me, to Clyde, to the people who might never see me again.

I froze. My jaw clenched tightly, my fists tight.

“Is that your car, K?” Clyde said quickly, pointing to my actual car a few feet ahead of me, where the relief of the moment melted from shock to hysterics.

I couldn’t stop laughing. It reminded me of nervous relief, and I am definitely the kind of girl that laughs at funerals.

I have been living on edge so long, waiting for someone to hurt me, to break into my car, to crush my heart into a million pieces, to lie, hurt, and suddenly disappear.

My mind has taken over and I see that it has been playing tricks on me, and somehow I had turned a man with a sweatshirt getting in his vehicle into a possible murder scene where I lost my car, possibly Clyde, and myself. I

realize now that I have made the same mistake with my heart, giving it away to unusual suspects and jerking it back before some unlivable crime is committed and in doing this, I have become guarded, afraid, and alone.

I don’t know if I give Clyde my heart some day if he will break it into a million pieces. I just met him.

I don’t know if I can handle the hurt of another failed relationship, what and how much the human spirit can take, but I must have the courage to at least try.

I guess this is what it means to trust, to feel the fear and do it anyway, to surrender to now, to live in the joy of today.

I guess this is what it means to be real.

90 Day Diet to Follow Your Bliss

Last weekend I met with two fabulous ladies for martinis and chocolate cake to discuss future plans for following our bliss. I am a lover of all women but these two are just sensational. I shall describe them as soulful, gorgeous, hilarious, and fearless. I believe we initially met for support for M, who had just broken up with her douche bag boyfriend, a man I dare say never deserved her in the first place, a realization that her head knows but her heart does not seem to want to accept.

We discussed her 90 day diet, which she decided should mostly include men, sex, and Jager bombs. To M, following her bliss meant healing her heart and many wounds, taking full responsibility of her financial situation, and most importantly, keeping party girl tamed, away from shots, and off the bar.

JC, the married of us three, with even a phone that organizes, calculated this should end approximately June 7th, which we all three groaned and agreed, seemed a lifetime away. A hard working career mom and wife for 15 years, JC described her bliss to mean being more playful, which we cheered with approval by clinking our martinis. She said she must start taking care of some of her own needs, something very apparent by the amount of times she exclaimed she couldn’t believe she was not chewing on a chicken nugget for dinner.

She thought she needed a little something, possibly dreadlocks, and had some hilarious notion that she should have to fly to Vermont to find them.

As the drinks flowed and the food came and went, so did the topics involving JC’s stressful job, where she had to manage a woman who actually spoke with a puppet who was very distressed over frownie faces and exclamation points.

Somehow the thought of her talking into a puppet as to not stress a woman in her mid forties made my stomach hurt from laughing as well with her worry over toddler biting issues, M’s labor stories, and my dating catastrophes.

As for me, the last six months have been marked by reconstruction. I have been healing my own broken heart and dreams, waking up for six months finally sober after years of struggle with anxiety meds. Six months may not seem like a long time in the scheme of life, but when your heartbroken, sometimes even waking up each day is a miracle in itself.

So, with my martini glass raised and my heart wide open to these beautiful women, I decide that it is time to join the living. I have been living my life for too long with my hand over my face and my eyes squinted, too afraid to see what might happen next.

I am dreaming big.

Pursuing a career in photography inspires me as well as making a commitment to my writing, to becoming financially independent like M, and if I’m really lucky, perhaps a relationship too, sprinkled with love and trust, commitment, fun, and some hot mind blowing sex.

A girl can dream.

Cheers!