“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…

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.

“I’m never gonna dance again the way I danced with you” – Wham!

“Those’ll come in handy for more than just eating” he cackled as I hand-picked zucchini at the farmer’s market last month. Dirty Old Man Bill was my nickname for him. He liked the Dirty Dancing moves, the slow seductive backbend into an upside down dip or the way he would grab my hips and show off for an audience “Shake it! You’re so bad! They’re eating it up!”  He was not only a phenomenal dancer and dance partner but my mentor, confidant and rock, especially when I was sick. But he was the one who was sick and I never knew. It wasn’t that I never asked how he was feeling, he just chose to shrug and not give his own problems the time of day. No one should wake up and learn from social media that a loved one has died but that’s how it goes these days. I called his phone, hoping it was a nasty prank or belated April Fools joke but his phone was off. He was a bachelor, no children, plenty of friends. Those friends now pouring out shocked sympathy onto a Facebook page of a man who would never read them. Sudden, unexpected, they remarked. But scroll to a post Sunday night from a clairvoyant friend of his who posted a eulogy on his board, thanking him for his friendship and “May the angels be with you on your journey”. And he REPLIED “Thank you”. Ten hours later, that same clairvoyant posted that he had passed. To the skeptic, it reeks of assisted suicide except that Bill was a devout Buddhist so that makes it unlikely. And it was a clairvoyant who apparently “saw it coming” hours prior. Part of me is stunned that he never hinted to me about this — we were close. When someone is facing death as a decision, they will tell as few people as possible and only those who need to know to support and facilitate that decision. So he didn’t tell me. But if it wasn’s some form of suicide, he still saw it coming and didn’t invite me over to say goodbye or stand watch with his Spirit Guides. Maybe he knew I wasn’t strong enough. But we talked several times a week and danced as recently as a few days ago. He was a paragon of physical, emotional and spiritual health. At 67, his stamina put me to shame and he was one of only two men I trusted to support my body weight on the dancefloor. At no point did he ever appear ill or even troubled but he knew about holistic cancer treatment and in hindsight, I wonder if that was a clue. And now I’m hoping to hear from his best friend, who I sent my phone number to via social media, to find out if there will be a memorial service. But knowing DOMB, he might have opted for cremation with his ashes to be sprinkled over Katmandu or shot into outer space… no “fussy” service at all. The day he died, or chose to die, he made a funny, typical comment on a photo of me at a Walk Off the Earth concert. He was a Force For Good and I often told him that. So Bill, I hope you know how much I appreciated your positivity and guidance. You leave behind an unfillable hole. I am heartbroken and untethered…

Love,

Your “Dance Goddess”

“I wish you would tell me how you really feel but you’ll never tell me ‘cuz that’s not our deal” ~Best Coast

In hindsight, saving myself for marriage was the most detrimental mind-fuck of my life. I was nearly 21 when I got married for the first (and supposed to be the last) time. Crying on my wedding night in a La Quinta hotel bed in Alabama as a well-endowed child tried to go Where No Man (or anything else for that matter) Had Gone Before. I spent a year working two full time jobs to keep that unemployed, spoiled child “happy”, letting him use me however his demented mind saw fit, because I was the dutiful wife and although I realized I had made a mistake, it was a punishment I was committed to til death do us part. Until he decided he wanted to move to Vegas and become a porn star. He told me “You are the perfect wife, I just don’t want to be married”. Oh I cried, begged, blew him in the car and jumped out of the moving vehicle later when he wouldn’t change his mind. I didn’t mourn the loss of him so much as my innocence and the farce that I did everything “right” and G-d had failed me, rather than my judgment.

Fast forward two decades and I had strike two under my belt but this time a gay man in hiding. I know, I know…porn star and then a gay man? I’m not even making that up. My picker is truly broken. Although I can’t say my judgment failed me, I just failed to listen to it. In the 13 years since my second divorce, my serious relationships were serious only to me and short-lived. I’ve said before that there is no such thing as “casual sex” because if I’m attracted to someone physically, it’s because I’m already attracted to their person and therefore emotionally invested. Maybe that is how G-d chooses to punish me when I fall off the celibacy wagon. That old Jew-ish/Christian self-imposed piety from childhood is so deeply rooted as I fear getting hurt over and over again…

But with dry spells lasting YEARS, I’ve nothing left to prove or lose. My sexual peak goes wasted on a vibrator. So when “K” joked about giving me a mustache ride, that led to a sincere discussion of “rules”. He has zero interest in a relationship so to keep my expectations and heart in check, I said no “hanging out” outside the bedroom (except that we both end up at a lot of the same dance events, which is where we met). And only one “buddy” at a time. Dipping his pole into multiple ponds is gross.

I let more than a month pass since that conversation until Sunday, I started to reach for my vibrator and grabbed my phone instead. What are you doing tonight? I asked. He replied “laundry”. “You can do your laundry here and me at the same time”. Totally cheesy but it worked. We went through what was left of a decade-old box of Trojans at my bedside (with “feels like nothing is there” printed on the box. That’s a damned lie, by the way). The next day, I googled “thinnest condoms” and ordered a tin of Japan’s finest (of course those kinky freaks would have the best on the market) and confessed my sins to my Trusted Agent who laughed and asked “Did he survive or did you kill him?”

I don’t feel the least bit guilty but I am keeping it in perspective by reminding myself that K is too vanilla (no teeth, no nails, no spanking, no choking, dont “go there” with anal; his asshole is like a Chinese Finger Trap and I’m likely to lose a digit if I go exploring). He also dislikes dogs and cats, which is a deal-breaker, even if he did grow fond of me. Love me, love my Zoo.  But I like the way his mind works, his choice in books, his Mississippi accent…and that makes it risky. He didn’t know me in my glory days so when he remarked “lucky me” while examining my favorite tattoo which is only visible with my pants off, I replied “Yes, you are”. Because I’m special, even if he doesn’t realize it. And I’m picky. I chose him, out of desperation but chosen regardless, among others who might’ve gratefully worshiped me, at least for a minute.

“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!

 

“Caring is Creepy” ~ The Shins

“Cardinals mate for life”, I recall him saying as I smile and watch the feathery couple bounce across my backyard, my dog and cat mutually disinterested.
And that is the word for him: Disinterested.
I thanked G-d for him too, literally. Just a few months ago, I thanked G-d for bringing a someone into my home who would be a friend, assist me with chores made difficult by my wavering health, he even said he would dance with me. I didnt ask, he offered. He set my expectations so how can I be at fault for believing? Innocent until proven guilty, truth until proven false. I especially trusted him because he also served and veterans generally dont fuck over other veterans. Be patient, my mother advised me. He was going through a divorce and a rough rebound. His head isnt screwed on straight, we agreed. Still, he disappeared for 2 months. Not a word to ask how I felt, how the latest surgery went. Nothing. I finally text him to ask “Do you still live here?” If I were a landlord, his shit would have been in the street. But I wanted a friend, not a tenant. He knew that.
He apologized, said I was “right about everything” and he would make it up to me, we would be friends. The first week, he did make an effort. We hung out, watched movies, talked, laughed, drank wine… but then he disappeared. Into his room without explanation. For two days, I hear his phone, text and email alerts, going off every few minutes at all hours. It’s maddening. As an empath (I dont know how to shut off the “give a fuck” no matter how often I read tips on Shielding) I continued to knock on his door and ask how he was, try to coax him out. He eventually got frustrated and “I’ll be out of here in 15 minutes” he announced as I stood there stunned. Later, he text to ask if he could stay through the month and be out in August. I”m not an asshole so I agreed although it’s difficult for me to share my pesonal safe space with someone who is not my friend, and I told him that.
Today he announced he’s moving to Atlanta, his apartment will be ready Monday. Total abandonment and a few months rent-free storage. He realizes it but just as my “Give a Fuck” wont turn off, his wont turn back on. So I wished him well and said if he regained his humanity later, to feel free to look me back up and re-friend me on Facebook. I’ll probably never hear from him again.
Less than 2 weeks between (what appeared to be a sincere, determined) “We WILL be friends” and “I’m leaving”.
I had a nightmare last Sunday night too. THe worst I’ve had in over a year. I went to bed happy after a dance and woke up 5 hours later screaming into my pillow, wishing to G-d I had someone to hold me. He was being reclusive in his room and I tried to coax him out. Of course, I’m too proud to call a friend or ask for help but here was this “friend” 10 steps away and I wanted him to come out. Hang out. Talk to me. Watch a movie, have a glass of wine and laugh like we did two nights earlier. A friendly distraction. But he only got irritated and left the house.
So I pushed him out. The “needy roomate” has a bad dream and wants a hug but I’m not on his short-list of people he cares about. But his phone goes off every few minutes with an incoming text or email to which he readily responds. That nightmare clung to me for two days. I hovered on the verge of a panic attack and was late to work, distracted, irritable, kept disappearing to the bathroom to cry. Granted, I’m surrounded by cohorts with some degree of PTSD but what do you say when they catch you red-eyed? I had a nightmare.
I feel so stupid. To be this upset, to feel so rejected and abandoned by someone who I hardly knew, even after 5 years of social media acquaintance and the shared venn diagram of social circles. Not “as advertised” certainly. But I was emotionally invested. Hey Empaths, how do YOU shut off your “give a fuck”? Can you? I’m not asking G-d to make me different in this sense, but some control would be nice. Like faucet valves, adjusting to a comfortable emotional temperature rather than being scalded or numb. Balance? Shielding? Advice?

Popular advice is to surround yourself with only positive people, cut negativity out of your life entirely. Isn’t that selfish? Everyone can’t be “up” all the time. Mother Teresa had bad days, years in fact. Would you cut a good person out of your life to save yourself? But because of this thought, I tell myself “Don’t call for help. Don’t bring anyone down with you.” So I hold it in (or spill it here, to an anonymous audience of none). Is that healthy? Somehow, I think not…

Hey but the good news is, I can return to walking around the house naked.

“My thoughts were so loud, I couldnt hear my mouth…” ~Modest Moust

“I still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want.
Did I want love? Did I need to know?
Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

The moths beat themselves to death against the lights.
Adding their breeze to the summer nights.
Outside, water like air was great.
I didn’t know what I had that day.
Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s about.
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud…”

Just days after surgery, what did I expect? A miracle, I admit. But even after plucking a rogue, swollen parathyroid gland from my chest where it had migrated, nothing has changed. Nothing. I dont feel better, improved. It could take weeks, they said. It may not even work, is what they didnt say but I had read.

So I wait with a fresh scar across my thickening neck.

I dropped off Facebook for a bit. Needed to. I found myself resentful of the health and happiness of others. Everyone has someone, it seemed. I struggle alone in this house. I finally got a new roommate but he wasnt as advertised. He’s never around and he’s not a friend. He ran off to Atlanta to be with his on-again rebound, a thin, age-innappropriate 20-something bitch in every sense. And this Ive learned from him. But he ‘loves’ her inexplicably and unconditionally. Fool for a young, pretty face. Do I sound jealous? Maybe I am. I want someone to care about me. I may not have been happy but I was at least content before he moved in. He bleeds what little energy I have left and generally, of no conscious doing of his own, makes me feel worse about myself. He is an emotional vampire and I generally suck at shielding because I cant stop caring about those who dont care back. So it’s better that he’s not around. But he didnt even bother to send a message to ask how surgery went. As I said, not a friend.

Thank G-d I have one or two close friends who check in on me daily, ask how I’m feeling, just remind me that I am in their thoughts. Still, I could use some physical help. An extra set of strong hands. Someone to tackle the back yard with the lawnmower. Or just to take those strong hands, place them on my cramped, pained shoulders and PUSH DOWN HARD. Like an anti-shrug. Not a massage. Nerve damage means massages feel like a hornets nest that has been kicked under my skin. But firm pressure to break up the tightly woven fascia or a bear hug to crack the part of my back that I cant reach would be nice. Really, just a hug in general might be nice. Shit, I’d probabaly start sobbing like a baby if anyone touched me.

I was always a caretaker. Working the pressure points in the FOot, scalp, hand, back. I miss having someone to take care of but these days, I wish I had someone to take care of me. Someone who doesnt ask but just “does”. Because I dont ask for help.

There are several dance events this weekend and I was hopeful but I know now that was overly ambitious. I still hurt. I’m still weak, exhausted and in a fog. Coherence is still a challenge. I get frustrated and depressed in my failure to communicate effectively so I shut down, too tired to continue trying. I could die here and it would be days before anyone realized it. Here she lies: uninspired, she just gave up. Because she didnt care enough about herself to push her way out of bed. And then what? Go where? Do what? What doesnt HURT?

Dont tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. It’s already on the menu. Self pity is the gravy over the self-loathing that I feel. Or is it the other way around?

I didnt want to live to be old enough not to wipe my own ass but neither did I think I would fizzle out like this. I couldnt watch “Seven POunds” the other night. I read the synopsis though. Then I asked my mother how long a body had postmortem before it’s parts were cooked and unusable. Not long at all. In fact, unless you die in the hospital (or a bathtub full of ice while on the line with 911), there isnt much that can be recycled. And for a moment I had this comforting thought that I would leave nothing wasted but my fingernails.

G-d, and the boredom…I catch myself staring at the floor wondering if I can knock out just 2 push ups without the sutures tearing out of my neck. I don’t take kindly to limitations.

Low-grade pain is a constant current that never disappears completely. Like water dripping on your forehead ceaselessly, it’s maddening. It saps your desire to do anything but go back to sleep.

Sleep. Or company. I havent got the latter so I’ll choose the former.

(N) ever After

My heart is dust. Dropped and shattered over and over by countless, careless hands. Careless men who couldn’t care less Whether I saw another sunrise. The victim left to bleed out, still wondering if somehow I had asked for it? Did the chemicals or The Chemist betray me? Fleeting and fickle, his attention and care. A drop on my parched tongue, hardly seems fair. My conscience is clear. But my heart is still dust.

What is beyond pathetic? Crying when you masterbate. I cant get off thinking about anyone but him and when I think about him, I start crying.

And I sing myself to sleep sometimes. A self soothing mechanism sadder than a grown woman sucking her thumb. I thought I would sing my children to sleep someday. I also thought I would wake up beside the one G-d blessed me with to love and cherish and be loved and cherished in return.

What a fairy tale scam. Love, fidelity, G-d, Ever After, all of it.  Just a fucking scam.

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.”