Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Please continue with your daily lives, you wrote and I don’t know what you meant by that.

Was it your cheeky “I don’t want to hear you squeal so I’m acting all normal-like” attitude you sometimes revealed in our communication?

Was it your desire to remain waiting in the shadows where I think you have been lurking as you work on figuring out what your expression looks like now?

Was it that you felt this was an interruption of some sort?

Because my daily life isn’t exactly the same.

Now I think about you as I go about this daily life you speak of, and I wonder.

About you…about the life you are creating…about all the things that made you into this person I no longer know..

And I think about all the lost souls out there…who never thought they could write the words you wrote…all of them…and I wish I could stand on top of world and broadcast all the wonderful things you have accomplished…and signal to all the downtrodden – the neglected…the abused…the pained, wretched bodies trudging through this wilderness – a beam of hope…that could maybe draw them in just close enough…so that they can see what redemption looks like.

We cease to be beholden to our past…when the future shines its brilliant hues of love.

Superpowers

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be?

Speed…

Telekinesis…

Strength…

Invincibility…

I have a superpower.

I am invisible.

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I sit on the sidelines…or right in the middle…and observe…and listen…and no one can see me.

I have heard things I wasn’t supposed to hear…

I have seen things I wasn’t supposed to see…

Because I am invisible.

Sometimes, I like my powers.

I can move about discreetly and make no impression on people.

I don’t have to answer to anybody because no one is ever asking.

But sometimes…

I wish my invisibility came in cloak form so I could throw it off…

So that the people talking over my head will notice I’m right between them and either move aside or include me…

So that when I go out and see someone I know they will acknowledge my existence with a smile or a nod…

So that I could belong.

There are times when my invisibility is breached.

There are times when people seem to only see me…at the center…to only see my faults…to only hear the things they think I’m saying and cannot see past their idea of me and uncover my core.

Those people have a filter running over their eyes that can penetrate my wall but only…just enough…

Just enough to torment me…to accuse me…to take who I am and twist it into who I could be…if I didn’t care to work hard not to be…

Just enough…

To call my acts of fear acts of hate…

To call my open mind condescending…

To think that when I separate myself, it is because I am a snob…instead of realizing that I am so damn insecure of my relationships with them because I never know where I stand with so many people who walk around my life as though they have earned a place in it.

My superpower should be protecting me from those people…the ones who are too close to me…who know about me…and can see that I am here…and sometimes resent that I am here…in their lives…

But no…

They can see me…

And I am stuck…being invisible…and semi-invisible…in the places I wish I could be seen…

If I could choose one superpower…it would be…

The power to be…

Truly…

Seen.

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Truths

Today I saw myself differently.

I saw how others see me…how others misunderstand me…how others judge me…

And I understood why.

Not because I am secure…confident…in who I am…or what I believe…

But because I am honest…about who I am…and what I believe…

And I refuse to pretend.

I saw how it can hurt…to feel like you have to try to be…something else…and how I can come along…and tell you to be you…and you can’t…for thousands of reasons I will never understand…but for thousands of reasons that are valid and true for you…and how you might resent me…maybe even hate me…because I am doing something…you think you want to do…or you think I believe you must do.

But…I can’t pretend…and I have thousands of reasons why I can’t…and those thousands of reasons are valid and true…for me.

So take your reasons…and your truths…and live them…to the best of your ability…and let me take my reasons…and my truths…and do what I need to do for me.

But please know…that even though I believe something…strongly…openly…loudly…I do not judge your beliefs…no matter how hard it is…for me to hear them.

A Man’s Best Friend Should Be Treated Like One

I’m walking down the street, pushing my metal cart full of groceries.  I don’t feel so well, the weather keeps changing its mind and somehow I’m stuck shivering all night and sweating all morning.  I’m distracted so I don’t hear him right away.  When I do finally hear, I have a moment of selfishness and think about getting home quick, unpacking my groceries and forgetting I saw what I think I saw out of the corner of my eye.

But then I hear the panic and I can’t keep walking.

I double back a few feet so I can get a good look at him.

And I start to panic.

He’s jumped the fence he’s kept chained up to all day.  And the chain is wrapped around the wooden post too many times.  And he’s fallen into a puddle that seems too deep.  And he is propping himself up against the fence with his front paws.  And if he lowers his paws he will be hanging.  And he is struggling.  And as he struggles he is pulling the chain tighter and tighter around his neck.  And I know that if I don’t do something now he will die.

I rush towards him and then stop.  I don’t know him.  He doesn’t know me.  He’s a big dog.  And he’s meant to guard this house where he’s attached to and never untied.

I call my husband.

I know he’ll come running.

I can’t even explain what the problem is, but he hears my voice and he says he’ll be there.

I’ve approached cautiously by the time my husband appears, out of breath, and I have coaxed him onto higher ground.

He’s calmed down and bit and seems to know we’re here to help.  I go up on the porch while my husband gently pets him and talks soothingly.

It’s ok.  We’re gonna help you.  It’s ok.

Slowly, we get him off the chain and walk him back onto the porch.  We unwrap the rest of the chain and reluctantly get it back on him.

He is shaking.  And then he is thanking us.  He is panting as he presses himself against my husband’s legs and looks at us with a kind of sadness I recognize.

I so desperately want to take off his chains and bring him home with me.

I know he’s well fed.  I know he gets his basic needs met.

But I know he has other needs.

I know he needs love and attention.  I know he needs to be able to move more than three meters.  I know he needs to be treated like I believe all breathing things should be.

But I also know that not everyone believes he has feelings.  And not everyone believes he deserves to be cared for the way I think he should be.

I get my groceries from the street where I had left them and say goodbye to my husband.  I walk home.  I think about him, tied up to that house so close to me, and I am filled with a kind of sadness I don’t really think I understand.

And then I realize that I am thinking about me and my relationships…and how I know how it feels to be chained…and how I know how it feels to be choking and to scream out for help and not to be heard…and I wish I could break him free the way I always wanted someone to do for me.

I know this is silly to some people.  I know not everyone is brought to tears by the plight of a dog.  But I wish – I so badly wish – that there was a universal language out there that made sure the entire world cared enough about every living being so that we could stop having to demand the world to do so.

The Sadness Effect

“If I ever become a real artist I’ll make a series of sketches called Sad People.  All kinds of people – age, race, culture – will be represented with the common denominator being a sadness that jumps out at you.  Then I’ll have a gallery and people will come…it’ll be like a sad room…a place for people to feel their sadness.”

“Hmm…the sad room…so do you think there are more sad people than happy people?”

“For sure!  I mean, hopefully, everyone has felt happy and sad at some point in their lives…but sadness seems to me to be harder to express.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, let’s see…it seems like everything to do is for happy people.  Happy people go out, party, see a movie, go to a park…all things fun need to have happy people to use them.  A sad person isn’t going to have so much fun at a party unless they’re drunk, and then it’s not really so fun, and a movie to a sad person is just an escape…a restaurant means tasteless food or trying to fill a hole with food…and who wants to sit in the park with sadness?  So what I’m saying is that happiness is automatically validated by societal norms.  Happy people are productive people who know how to utilize their time in this world for work and play.”

“Ok, sounds interesting.  Now, what about the sad people?”

“I think – and this is totally me and my theories – I think that sad people never get their sadness validated and so it just sits inside and spirals…adding to more sad feelings and more spiraling…let’s call it the Sadness Effect.”

“Huh.  So being sad isn’t accepted.”

“I don’t think it’s not accepted – I mean everyone gets sad…it’s just that it’s not validated.  How many people can actually validate sadness for someone?  How do you do it?  From what I’ve seen and experienced with my own sadness, when I tell someone about it they either becomes sad with me or take a step back and leave me with a feeling that has nowhere to go but back inside to fester.”

“I see.  So how do you validate sadness?”

“I think you have to really listen.  Like, when someone says they’re sad, you have to let them know that you understand that they are sad.  You can’t try to make them happy or explain why it’s not worth being sad because then you are essentially telling them that the sad feeling has no right to be – totally invalidating the feeling, leading to another kind of sadness and loneliness as the person who is seeking validation realizes how totally misunderstood they are…it’s a terrible cycle.  And then, after too many times of getting their sadness thrown to the side, they don’t want to talk about it and try to pretend to be happy – however that may be – and then we get this whole ‘running after happiness’ trend that all started because no one ever said – ‘hey, you’re sad.  I get that.  Let’s sit with the sadness for a bit and try to understand it.’  Validating a feeling means giving it a right to exist on its own.  You can’t say ‘everyone feels sad’ or ‘it’ll pass’ cause that makes the feeling less unique.  You gotta say something along the lines of ‘I see that you’re sad.  I’m sorry you’re sad.  Let me know if or when you want to talk about it and I can do my best to be there for you.’  You know, like a kid wants validation for his sadness, he just comes for a hug.  You got to give verbal hugs out when you’re confronted by sadness.”

“So what about those people who get sad with you when you’re sad?”

“That’s the other kind of bad sadness conduct.  People can’t handle another person’s sadness as a separate person, so they use it to try to validate their own sadness, negating the original sadness and creating a neat little ‘let’s be sad together and feed each other sad pills’ scenario.”

“Isn’t that co-dependency?”

“For sure.  That’s why all these co-dependent relationships are all the rage.  You get to be sad together – gee, how fun.”

“This is all intriguing – go on.”

“Ok – so the answer to all the sad people is to teach everyone how to validate.  Then, you feel sad, you express, it’s validated, you move on and don’t sit in it forever and ever.  If everyone learned how to look past themselves and just allow other people to feel things and not take it on or step away, then the answer is solved.”

“How would you teach people to do that though?”

“Simple – if you’re the type of person who steps back, so push your instinct aside for a second and step forward.  If you’re the type of person who gets too involved, take a step back.  It’s just a small step, but it changes everything.”

“I like this.  I think you really got something here.”

“Well, anyway – back to my sad room.  I’m going to make sadness an outing.  All these happy people get to have fun…sad people are welcome to come to my gallery and cry.  It’ll be a sad party.  It’ll be fun.”

Mother, May I?

Seven years.

It’s been seven years since I had some time that could be mine to do with as I please.

The routine of my life consisted of pregnancies, depression, births, newborns, infants, toddlers and learning to nap when I got a chance.

By the time my daughter turned three, my son was born.  We added daily pick-up from preschool to the schedule.  The naps got shorter.  The afternoons got harder.  The evenings were a blur.  Such was life.

But my two-year old needed more than what I could give him.  So he went off to gan.  The way I feel about that is still being explored.

He loves it – I’m ok with it, and now I have five hours a day without him.

Five precious hours.

Today I went on a walk.

By myself.

With headphones.

Blaring music without a care.

It made me feel alive…and free…

And when I got home, I prepared a salad without any pulling on my legs and sat at the table and ate slowly, without having to share my food.

It felt weird.

And liberating.

But still weird.

So I knew I needed to work that out – that strange sensation of wanting someone to pull at me and bother me because it makes me feel like I am worth something…

I saw an ad that caught my eye.

A writing workshop.

And I knew that it was now or never.

So I took the plunge.

I start tomorrow.

And I’m sitting here wondering why I’m doing it.

Wondering who I’m doing it for.

Wondering at myself for wondering.

This morning when I walked with me, I knew her well.

Cause I’ve always been there.

Taking care of me through them – and getting myself ready for today – the day I said hello to the only person worth doing a writing workshop for.

And boy is she excited.

Bring. It. On.

I’ve been told I’ve got talent.

Not the kind of talent that creates art…or publishes books…or contributes to the world’s excessive need to be entertained.

The talent I’ve got involves people.  Individuals.  Souls.

It’s a dirty sort of talent.  One where I twist and pull and shake out the piles and piles of shit people have been sitting in, holding on to…or flinging about.

See, people seem to think I can help them.

It starts with casual conversation…and then I smile…sort of through the other person…because I read between the lines and the gestures and the vibes…and I got them. And they know it.  And then it’s too late.

I’m a victim magnet.

I see them, floating around in confusion…muddling through life…pleading for help silently…and for some reason, they see me.

I get to know them…quickly…and I can pinpoint where the work must begin.  And then I map out the choices in their life…and tell them how things will be down each possible path.

Sometimes, they listen.

Sometimes, they don’t.

Sometimes I shut my mouth and pretend not to care as they drift on by…and then they never even know how close they came to be one of mine.

When I was fifteen I cried every night because of all the horrible things I knew about everyone.  My father tried to advise me not to listen.  That’s like telling a bird not to skydive.  Irrelevant.  It’s never been about me listening.

When I was seventeen and pissed off, I dressed Gothic and never brushed my hair.  I wore hoods and clunky boots and made my vibe as offsetting as I could.

Still, they came.

The corner I sat in, glaring out into the square as I chain-smoked, became known as my office.  They sat next to me…too close next to me…and told me about parents…teachers…friends…relatives…strangers…all the abuse…pain…and shame they needed to expose…

I don’t know what they saw in me.

I was mean.  I pushed people away before they could hurt me.  I was aggressive, violent and malicious.  I could spot your weakness and exploit it just because.  And I never ever told anyone one full truth.  It didn’t matter anyway.  No one was really listening.  They were too busy talking.

Then it became my job.  I was deep in the center of a therapeutic nightmare.  Story after story after story.  Life after life after life.  Soul after soul after soul…

Each year they brought their two suitcases and eighteen years of baggage.  They loved deeply…fought nasty…cried oceans of pain…and numbed it all when the sun went down.

Each story ate away at a bit of me.  Each soul drained my life source until I felt that I had nothing left.

And it was ok because by then there was nothing left to do.

The doors were locked…the dream was dead…and my life was shattered at my feet.

It’s taken over three years to build me up again.

For a while, I thought I was better off.  I thought life seemed normal…

I’m not normal though.  I’m a victim magnet.  I’m a talented orchestrator of the kind of dirty no one can ever prepare you for in clean classrooms over spotless books.  I’m a product of a street that brought revolutions…rebellions…change…

It’s been a quiet three years.  It’s been an experience I guess I needed.

But now…now I’m fully charged.  Now I’m more grown up.  Now I’ve perfected my talent and even know how to listen.

Bring it on.

Bring. It. On.

The Words I am Made of Are Mine

My voice flows through my fingertips, spelling out the words my lips refuse to form.

My soul leaps through lines and paragraphs, dancing on letters in joyous freedom.

My heart lays on these pages, exposed.

You think you have the power to hurt me.

You think you can use my outlet against me.

You think you can form the letters to bring me down.

You are wrong.

I don’t care about you.

I don’t care what you think.

I don’t care what you say.

I don’t care what you do.

This is who I am.

These words are mine.

You have no control over them.

You cannot take them from me.

I will not be bullied into silence.

I will continue to write what I feel.  I will continue to express myself fully.

You don’t have to read it.

And as for all your abusive, pathetic comments, I don’t have to let them through.

That’s Me In The Corner

I clutch the bar of the stroller and rock it back and forth, even though the baby is scampering about the room.  The movement keeps my shaking hands hidden from view.  I feel the tension in my shoulders and neck.  The room begins to go out of focus.  There is a roar in my ear.  My heartbeat is picking up.  My pores open in a flood of sweat.  I need to get out of here. NOW.

One look across the room and my husband is at my side, herding me and the kids out the door into the sunlight.  I take deep breaths of the fresh air and wipe the tears off my eyes.  Slowly, steadily, we walk up the street and as we round the corner towards our house I feel my heart return to me.  I walk into my living room, flooded with natural lighting and listen to the hum of the refrigerator and relax.  Here, I am safe.

*

Most of the time I say I’m not so social.  It’s hard to explain how the sound of three or more voices competing to be heard turns into hi-dub chatters in my ear.  It’s hard to explain how different scents of perfume, food, and drink mix in my nostrils to create a sickening sensation in my stomach.  It’s hard to explain the assault my eyes experience when fluorescent lighting meets marble floors and columns.  And it’s impossible to explain how my heart drops when those sensations cause me to cower in the corner as you walk by and either pretend I’m not there, glance at me with discomfort, or worse, disdain.

My coping mechanism for the anxiety that is usually triggered by an overload on my senses is not to put myself in a position of unnecessary vulnerability.  It works for me.  I am happier staying at home, going to a less crowded park, only hosting small families and knowing when to say no.  I live within my boundaries not because I’m afraid but because there are some challenges in life that are not meant to be overcome.  Anxiety is a challenge that I work with and around.  It’s hard for me to go to parties.  I don’t go often.  If I have to attend a function, I take along my knowledge of who I am, my ability to know when I’ve reached my limit and the security I feel from those who care to understand me.

So the next time you see me in the corner, sweat glistening off my forehead, panic in my eyes, try a little tenderness or a small smile as you walk on by.

But don’t you dare judge me.

Why I Sing the Blues

I’m a bit melodramatic if you haven’t figured that out.  I see things with my heart and feel things with my soul.  It can be stressful at times, trying to dig the rationale out of heaping piles of feelings, but there are some rewards.

So I was a bit surprised when my husband, who can usually read all the emotions running through my words with an understanding (on the side of tolerant) eye, looked at me after reading my last post, A Song Of Fire, and asked me where the hell that came from.  I figure if HE didn’t get it there must be at least some other readers, (ha! as if there are more than a few) who were reading quizzically, thinking I went over the edge.

Truth is, maybe I did.  The source of that post might not make sense to you, but I feel at least a little obliged to explain, so as to hang onto whatever readership I’ve got.

See, I was sitting on my porch, looking out at the view.  The big picture was gorgeous, as usual, with the hill used as a sheep pasture directly in my line of vision and my peripheral filled with rolling mountains and clear blue sky.  Then I looked again and saw the details.

Any of you been in Israel in the summer?  It’s brown.  Different shades of dead, dry brown.  The occasional green comes from useless low bushes that don’t offer any shade.  And it burns.  Literally.  All summer long.

So there I am, looking at rolling brown terrain, naturally smelling some far off brush fire, when the land starting talking to me.

Okay – stop reading now if you just wrote me off as psycho.  I already explained my melodrama, no need to add other labels.

Anyway, that’s what happened.  The land spoke and I wrote what she was saying.  I didn’t think it could be taken as anything else, doesn’t everybody hear it?

Oh right.  You don’t.

And here’s my little Zionist pitch: that’s why you ain’t here.  Cause if you heard her, I mean really really heard her, you would abandon all and join me on the dead terrain, screaming for redemption.

I know what I’m waiting for.

What about you?