“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

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“You know the sun is gonna shine in my back door some day” Aretha Franklin

Went to a West Coast meets country dance. Country in one room, West Coast swing in the other. Truly, I went for the country room to brush up on my 2 Step which is horrendous. Don’t use it for 20 years, you definitely lose it. Well, at least I did. The leads had to “insist” rather than “suggest”. By 11:30pm all that was left were the Regional West Coast Pros. I guess everyone else didn’t feel like dancing around them so they left. I hung around a little longer watching but frankly, I was not feeling the music or the dancing. It was like spoonful after spoonful of icing with little cake. All styling and tricks and no Foundation.

My friend “S”, the one I have Frank conversations with on a near-daily basis. I met him in the Army. He’s one of the reasons why I say joining the Army was not a mistake no matter how much I joke about it. When he was telling me about his latest would-be romantic encounter and the reason he’s going to die alone, I reminded him that we should at the very least, make sure we end up in the same nursing home together. Provided we both live to a ripe old age which as a matter aside I never intended on. But just in case I do we should be roommates. “I’m a quiet masturbator. Hell, I’ll even let you have the top bunk” (John Lyshitski). Let’s Go to Prison, one of the best, underrated comedies since John Candy took funny to the grave with him. Although between Deadpool and Just Friends, I have found renewed comedic hope in Ryan Reynolds.
I finished a law assignment in the 11th hour and felt pretty good about it. This instructor (retired military JAG and current federal judge) is engaged and I respect him, which motivates me to make an effort to give him something worth reading (looking at, listening to). I want to give as good as I get. I’m celebrating with homemade pizza with a cauliflower crust (in hind-taste, I do NOT recommend it), some wine (okay, a vat of wine), Rain, Candlelight, and Aretha Franklin. I was feeling so good (and a little tipsy) that I flipped my phone the bird rather than answer it when my The Flake called.

I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on a church billboard that struck me. No, not that “worry is a mild form of atheism” although that has lingered in my brain for years. This one is less profound but still struck me: Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm. The point is, there is always a storm…

“Don’t be a fool” Shawn Mendes

I’d been oscillating all day between just coping and wanting to call and cry “Why Don’t You Love Me When You’re Sober?”

Feeling weak and depressed through another ballet class, the new Shawn Mendes song that I had sent to him 2 weeks ago came on and I snapped. But not in the bad way. In the air smells like a third world country and I can hear the whistles of incoming Survival Mode sort of way: I felt my face, limbs and heart deaden. And I remembered:

I have survived war, sudden deaths of loved ones, divorce and betrayal worse than divorce… this is nothing.

I always said if war was only good for one thing: it was for putting life in perspective. And if I couldn’t hold on to that maybe I needed to go back and relearn that lesson.

While that stupid fucking song played I brainstormed. I lost sight of my goal The Combat Search amd Rescue unit where I asked G-d a question and got a rainbow for an answer. I’m not done.

But clearly I need a constant reminder of that so I decided to go into the garage, burrowing through five plastic bins of military gear to fish out one of my flight suits. But it’s not enough to hang it in my closet. No, I took down one of the Lora Zombie paintings from my bedroom wall, and hung the flight suit on a hook from the nail, hanging over my altar. I’ll see it every morning when I open my eyes and every night when I close them. To remind me:

I’m not done, goddammit…

“I want you to notice when I’m not around…” ~Radiohead a-la Postmodern Jukebox

“Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

Not today, is my usual response but the last two days, I considered it an option. Not the best option but as an analyst, of course, I consider ALL options and Full Stop was one of them.

Was it because the man I love remarked flippantly that he “didn’t feel like making the drive” to visit next weekend? Or that he was considering playing in my backyard in the mountains without inclination to include me? I had been pulling punches since our fallout two weeks ago because he took what I told him in confidence and not only held it against me (“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”) but also threw it back in my face. He JUDGED me. He made me feel so ashamed. So I don’t tell him what I’m feeling now. He doesn’t want to hear it and I don’t want to give him ammo to use against me later. Some friendship, huh?

But the last two days were so dark. A friend text this morning to say “Smile! I love you” and I snickered at his uncanny timing because I was doing the opposite. He joked, “I felt a disturbance in the Force.”

But that’s what this is really about, isn’t it? My friend “L” is staying with me for a few months following a bad breakup. He seemed okay until two nights ago when he found out his ex was seeing someone else. He told me this today. Told me he hasn’t slept in two nights and he is deeply depressed. Bingo.

Empathy strikes again. I share his pain like it’s my own.

The Universe, I’m told, is full of vibrations, frequencies, which I don’t understand but I know this: These vibrations are like metaphysical dog whistles: What one person may not “hear” at all may cause others pain. Saying I suffer from being an empath sounds hokey, like someone suffering from the supposed ghost pain of fibromyalgia. These ailments cannot be scientifically “proven” so they must be psychosomatic, right?

I read Psychic Shielding for Dummies last year and admittedly the techniques haven’t worked for me. Or maybe it’s a Catch 22? Maybe I have to be in a better place physically and spiritually in order to manifest a shield but I NEED a shield because I am physically and spiritually vulnerable!

Not vulnerable. Sapped.

I fondled the bag of rocks and “wish” I had been toting round my neck for two weeks. In a fit of frustration, I tore it off and threw it across the room. Feeling sacrilegious, I apologized and put it back on. Then I lit a sage bundle, set it near a lit candle and walked outside to nurse a whisky while the space fumigated. Walked back in 10min later to see the bundle on fire. Well, that should do it.

I am the worst “witch” ever.

But there is a small comfort in knowing where these feelings are coming from and knowing that the root of the problem is external. Why am I bleeding?? Oh I see. I’ve been shot. A psychic bullet sponge.

If the pain is not entirely mine, it doesn’t hurt less. I exhale every drop of air in my lungs and pause, willing my heart to stop. Just. STOP…

Genesis 2:18

I hate the idea of reincarnation. Recycling souls.

Perhaps it’s a comfort to non-theists but  I find living to be the hardest thing to cope with sometimes. I don’t want to do it over and over and over again. That would truly be Groundhog Day in Hell.

He told me “I need to be alone and you have been alone too long”. Going on 12 years this December.

A friend recommended a book on Adult Attachment Theory. The book itself was not particularly well written but I appreciate the concept because it’s the truth I have suspected all along: That we as humans, by biological, grand design, seek and need intimacy. From infancy until death, we need to love and be loved in return. Not only our emotional but our physical health depends on it. Our heart rate, blood pressure, hormones, are just a few biological tides that are ruled by an Intimate Moon (or lack of).

Popular modern thought insists we must love ourselves first and foremost; Teaches us to only depend on ourselves and look inward for comfort and all the love we could ever need. But isn’t that a bit like depending on G-d to miraculously cure what ails you while ignoring life-saving medicine that was created from G-d Given resources, discoveries and talent? G-d gave us each other!

Genesis 2:18 conveys, “It is not good for man to be alone”.

So let’s stop pushing the Solo Agenda. Stop making people question their basic need for intimate relationships as “weak”, “needy”, or “codependent”.

We deserve to get as good as we give. Live well and love fully and you will never fear Karma!

 

Tis the season to kill yourself

Several days ago, I posted a question for thought on Facebook: If G-d is omnipotent and “never gives us more than we can handle”, why is there suicide?

As hoped and expected-because this is a sincere question I have—it prompted a flurry of responses; And a few phone calls from concerned friends asking if I was okay. I reassured them that just because I broach the question of suicide doesn’t mean I’m also sitting behind the keyboard with a barrel in my mouth.

Yes, the holiday season sucks for me as they do for a lot of people. I’m unsure if it’s because the holidays just happen to be when the majority of lives traumatic events take place or if it’s theme of the holidays—Peace, love, joy, family, G-d—only exacerbate our sense of loss and loneliness with its irony.

But to answer to the question above, the concensus between the majority of my faithful friends is it amounts to “free will”. But there was some debate as to the part about G-d not giving us more to bite off than we can chew. It’s not in the bible. I knew that. But I wondered if it was insinuated somewhere. You know these modern translations get looser and looser. Next, the “New Jimbo Edition” or “G-d’s Word As Quoted on Pinterest” will get published and I’m sure that inspiration saying above will be included. It’s a comforting thought but is it TRUE? Did G-d say it?

Comments from friends and family included:

“I hate that saying. It’s not in the bible. It’s about Free Will and people are free to dish out as much shit as they want on others.”

“Because suicide is easy. And it’s all about free will with God. So the moment people do it or think about it GOD has nothing to do with it”

My favorite response, the one that comes close to truly answering my question is this:

“The phrase isn’t in the bible… I asked this question many times as a kid. Here’s the actual phrase. First Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it. I guess you can deduce that they mean the same thing. But, the way I see it, there’s a heaven and hell, a God and devil. Suicide is one of those things similar to drug addiction. Sometimes it over powers the flesh and the devil gets a victory.”

And from my mother (even though I argue that the old testament stories she cited below may be allegorical):

“He gives us all the power to do everything successfully. We just don’t claim it. There were many people in the Bible who were deeply depressed- David, Elijah, Jeremiah to name a few. But what kept them from ending it all? In their despair, they cried out to God and He was faithful to give them strength to hold out for another day. And another. And another. Keep in mind God only gives us Grace for each day. You have to renew your strength by drawing close to God every day and asking for the grace to keep going that day. It’s very easy to say “I’m done. No more.” and end it. I certainly will never point an accusatory finger at anyone for a weakness that many know all too well. But yes, the devil knows when you’re down. He runs to whisper in your ears lies and words of discouragement. You can choose to listen to the lies or you can listen to the voice of Truth and know that God will walk you through the dark, carry you when you’re too weak to keep going and too tired to pray.”

And from a friend whose husband committed suicide due to chronic depression:

“We make our own choices not always God’ s choice for us. And do not think that suicide is the easy say out. Those who commit suicide just want the pain to stop. Often they see only darkness and sadly too many people in the world add stress and pain upon the person in trouble. I know this firsthand”

“ I think its cool you shared your thoughts/concerns about this. Depression is all too close to me and I’ve seen both sides of its effects. Oddly enough, I never link depression and suicide with faith. In my experience it’s all too complicated to judge, I mostly spend my time thinking about being my brother’s/sister’s keeper.”

“depression is an illness, mental illness has nothing to do with a book-the Bible. Good things and bad things happen to everyone and every family. There are answers and there is help for people suffering. This time of year tends to bring it out more than others. be compassionate and patient with those suffering-it can be a long and winding road for many..but, again, there is help.”

To this, I agreed with my friend. I know depression is a psychological illness caused by physical imbalances to which every sufferer has their own, personalized variety of ‘triggers’. But for me, the idea that there is no G-d or He is not listening to our prayers is devastating. That is not the G-d I grew up believing in. I pray (a lot!) out of habit rather than faith but if I stop to really consider that there is no one on the receiving end of those prayers, then I just lost my strongest Life Line. G-d—or the Hope of Him– is the seatbelt that holds me together during a crash.

And when the seatbelt doesn’t catch, I have a support system of friends and family that act as airbags.

One of the first ones to reach out to me out of concern was an Army buddy I met in 2009. At the time, he was going through his own personal hell and I held him and stroked his head while this grown man wept in my arms. I try to be The Rock, like G-d. I try to love like G-d. I seek to be His Conduit and spread positivity, love, kindness and comfort to those around me. I don’t do it because I’m trying to earn brownie points with Him, I do it naturally because it is what I was designed for or as Jane Austen put it (pardon me if its off, I don’t have the quote in front of me) “There is nothing I wouldnt do for those who are truly my friends. I dont know how to love people by ‘halves’. It isnt my nature.” Perhaps its enough to be put on this planet for the sole purpose of caeing for others. Im copying my friend’s message here because it is easily in the Top 3 Nicest Things Anyone Has Ever Said About Me and I don’t want to forget it. I want to have it here so that I can come back to it and re-read it when I’m collapsing under the burden of my own life. He wrote:

“I can honestly say to you, that you’re one of the sweetest and kindest people I know. I believe that you have a pure heart and you do the best that you can to live a life without a drop of malice running through your veins. I look at you and think of you as someone positive and I have even based decisions on how you would judge me afterwards. I said that so that you understand this: You have a purpose to the people that know you. And you have a unique way of infecting people with positive energy. Please don’t be hard on yourself. Take time for you everyday to meditate and clear out the fog. And be sure to take inventory of all that is right in your life. Look at where you want to go and just keep walking forward. And ask God to guide you the journey will have a way forging a proper relationship with him.”