Recovery; Commitment.

Your recovery is a commitment. It is something that you must commit to, wholeheartedly, every day, for the rest of your life – regardless of whether your world came crashing down, or the land is filled with daisies, unicorns, and sunshine. Otherwise, you accept death immediately. You are choosing life or death. That is your commitment.

It is important, however, to remember that sometimes, much like other parts of your life, you fail. You fall down. You scrap your knee. You lose yourself to the pain.

And you know what? That’s okay. That’s okay, so long as you get right back up, wipe aside your tears, slap a bandage on that knee, and keep trudging along to a better moment, a better day.

 

Recently, I had a stumble in my own recovery. A hiccup. I was constantly stressed and anxious due certain pieces of work in my life. I was eating nothing but junk. My mood shifts were drastic. And on two separate occasions, I almost relapsed.

I have since brought myself back up, but for anyone out there who is struggling with recovery, I just wanted you to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be alright all the time. It’s okay if you fall into a dark place sometimes.

Because here’s the thing – mental illness is not like a cold. You cannot take some medicine to make it go away. You cannot sleep it off. It is there, and it is always there. It is a part of your soul and who you are, and you must work with it if you are ever going to be happy. Whether you do therapy, take medication, go to support groups, or do something else that eases your personal ailment (exercise, hobbies, journaling, etc.), you are working on being a happier you, and that’s what is important.

 

Remember to never be afraid to ask your support system for help. Be sure to know who that is. It is not for the faint of heart. In this stumble, I have seen the people who will withstand the tests of time with me, and those who I will definitely not be writing home about. And that’s okay.

Does it suck knowing that certain people will never understand you? Yes. Is it better to know now rather than later which of the people in your life will love and appreciate you, no matter what? Oh yeah! And don’t worry, people who can’t handle it, we don’t hate you. It’s a hard job to support someone who suffers from mental illness. Better to be honest than to cause unintentional heartache.

 

Never settle for people who don’t love you for who you are, and don’t try to save people that you can’t.

 

And most importantly, never ever forget to love yourself. You are you, and that is special and beautiful.

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Spirituality and the Concept of the Fundamentalist Atheist

I am not a conservative Christian. Nor am I Roman Catholic. In fact, I was never raised in an environment that influenced me to follow in the ways of Monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Although Mama would never have discouraged it.

Mama was one of those Pagan-Wicca-Spiritual-I-dunno-whatever kind of people. I am not much different. Growing up, we did full moon rituals, made clay dolls based on the season, and recited all of the Chakras in order before bed. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays since it’s OUR holiday for once (not mention, all that witch merchandise though), and I am born on the original Christmas – Winter Solstice.

When I was younger though, I was in the closet about my religious beliefs. My town was very Christian and Mama felt that kids would not react to it so well, so I did not tell a soul until I was 14. Unfortunately, not going to CCD classes definitely set me apart from the kids, so I was welcomed with phrases like “You are going to Hell” and “Jesus is going to kill you”!

I ended up having a lot of nightmares about Jesus. Didn’t help that the first image of Jesus I saw was at the church where my Dad got remarried. That statue of Jesus hanging from the cross still gives me the shivers.

 

Anyway, Mama saw that the bullying was getting out of hand, so she decided we should attend a Unitarian Universalist church nearby.

Well, I confused people into complete silence instead having them yell slander at me on the playground.

I’d say that’s a success.

 

Years of Unitarian Universalist youth group sessions, Mama reading me spiritual children’s books at bedtime, and my own life adventures has formed who I am spiritually, and I am damn proud of it. I believe in the Universe and its power to bring what I need when I need it, be it in the form of an event, a God, a human, an animal.

I don’t see anything wrong with that, or other people’s interpretations on religion and spirituality. I rather enjoy getting into debates about such things with friends and family. I respect all viewpoints, and I expect the same from everyone else.

So naturally, I am not a fan of those who go out of their way to tell you that your spiritual point of view is wrong. And no, I am not just talking about the guy who comes up to you once a week to tell you that you are going to hell (thanks for that memo, by the way). I am also talking about…

 

BUMP-BUMP-BUUUUUUUMP

Atheists! Or more specifically, what I liked to call the Fundamentalist Atheist.

 

I am not talking about the average atheist who is just like “Yeah, I don’t believe God”. (Sidebar: There are other Gods besides the big G-O-D. Just saying.)

 

I am talking about the person who laughs in your face as soon as you say your beliefs.

I am talking about the person who goes up to you and says “You know everything you believe is crazy, right?” and then makes rude comments about odd things related to your spirituality. (Astro projection is a relaxing meditation, thank you very much)

I am talking about the people who think that religion is the reason for 9/11.

I am talking about the people who hate on conservative, Christian republicans and say that those people display crazy behavior, when they themselves display the exact same behavior.

 

And I am not okay with that.

I am not okay with you disrespecting my friends, my family, other people, or myself.

You do you.

But.

Please remember re-read your tweets, your FB posts, your own thoughts, before you express them, and think about how you make people feel. Think about how you would feel if you were being attacked for your non-beliefs. You may think you are helping people, but you are actually hurting them, and you are pushing away new experiences and opportunities to understand a viewpoint that isn’t your own.

I am not saying to start believing in God, or Buddha, or Bastet.

I am simply saying to open up your heart and listen to what people have to say about their spirituality. It might not change what you believe, but it will teach you something.

And doesn’t that make it worth it?

A martyr? A saint?

He was supposed to go in that day. He needed to get new jewelry for the store.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if he had gone in.

Would he be a martyr? A saint?

 

All day, I am taking orders for Challah, birthday cakes, rolls. Someone asks me to write on their birthday cake, and wonder if they feel conflicted on this day. They have a joy in their life, on a day that is a horror, a scar on the face of so many lives.

 

I think of my friend who will never share another birthday with her uncle. I remember her scanning the footage for his face, insisting she saw him jump out, he’ll be fine. My chest still pings to this day, haunted by her determined, anxious face.

 

I think of my friend who lashes out when anyone talks about his father. I never really asked what happened to him, given the pain it caused him, but sometimes, I wonder if perhaps his father was one of those men in our town who never returned home that day.

 

I think of the memorial park. It was in the heart of town, a few feet from my high school. It was on the left corner at the head of Fair Street, next to the instrument shop where I would get my violin strings. I can’t recall what it was before that time – a gas station? A parking lot? A vacant area where a building once stood?

Either way, a few years passed, and it was the 9/11 Memorial Park, to honor our fallen, especially our fire department. We lived in the farthest town a firefighter could be part of FDNY. Many of them went in those towers that day. I know a friend who glances a leery eye at her father when he has a drink. He was one of the ones who made it out, and she suspects that he is still haunted by his friends who will never share another drink with him.

 

A martyr? A hero?

 

Mama’s best friend, he was in high school. He stole his brother’s ID, and snuck away from home for a week to do clean up. There wasn’t much security back then. That day never sits well with him.

 

I wonder about Dad and my uncle. This incident resulted in years of overseas tours for them. I think of all the time this stole from our family.

 

He was supposed to go in that day. He had work to do. I still wonder about how I’d feel if he had gone in.

A martyr? A saint?

A victim? A hero?

 

Would I have been the person I am?

 

A victim. A martyr. A saint. No hero.

What you used to Know.

In front of the mirror, I make myself into perfection.

Layer upon layer, I create a persona, a creature I want to be, to be believed.

A bus I used to know, large bag of heavy memories and the regrets of someone some time ago who drove me to fear some fires.

 

A sea of faces I have grown to ignore, I walk alone into a space that was a second home.

The back of a gentleman I once spoke to, just a ways in front of me. I dart into the hallway I spent nights wandering, laughing, tricking doors into not locking me away.

 

The room of education, of art, of three years of my life.

To my left – room into room of familiar faces.

 

I am smoke, passing through without a breath nor a word nor a hair noticed.

I look through the hall door, a play on repetitive motion, I had it seen so many times.

 

 

What is air. What is tension.

 

 

This is no nostalgia.

These are what I used to know.

What I thought I knew.

What I wanted to believe I knew.

 

 

Breeze whisks me away.

 

 

I will not become a disaster.

 

I was never what you used to know.

I am no one’s conventional girl.

I was never a conventional kind of girl.

I wore puffy, cutesy dresses, and then dirtied-up jeans and a turtleneck. I’d play with my teddy bears, covered in ribbons, right next to my little cars, zoom zooming away.

My hair stretched long, past my hips, thin golden waves in the wind. My face, un-caked.

I’d be a girl scout, playing tough in the woods, and run around the playground with the boys at school, just one of them. I’d point my toes forward in ballet, and flip a man in defense classes.

 

Years have passed.

I wear cute dresses, vintage sexuality galore, and then high-waisted jeans with a men’s button, lusting for a pleather jacket, lipstick smile on my face. I hold a BA in Theatre Design and Technology in my hands.

My hair, only going to just past my shoulder blades, golden waves becoming dimmed sunshine. My face goes from naked, to the slightest taste of foundation, mascara, and eyebrow perfection, to black enveloping my lids, purple lipstick making my pout intensified.

I love to design for the theatre, and wonder what it’d be like to direct. I write so I can breathe. I move on the dance floor, and walk alone at night to feel life, knowing I’ll be just fine.

 

These days come with new things to call yourself.

So I wonder –

Am I Queer?

Well. Queer Theory states that everything outside of the heteronormative is Queer.

But.

There are those who fall coincidentally into that world, and those who brought into that world.

I never was a conventional kind of girl.

I live in the middle, passing and not passing.

I take an interest in men for most occasions, but I don’t dress like that sweet girl they crave to know. I am Wednesday Addams in thigh highs with ruby red lips and a quiet eye.

I never really fit in with anyone’s plan.

So.

Am I Queer?

Maybe.

After all, I could never conform. I am no one’s conventional girl.

It’s not what I thought it’d be.

It’s not what I thought it’d be.

I always saw golden princesses, bathed in light. They wait for him, their golden half, to come.

 

It’s not at all what I thought it’d be

 

I remember my boyfriend telling me he loved me after I agreed to be his girlfriend. I remember my mother saying the same every day of my life, at bedtime, after phone calls, after I graduated high school. I remember a lot of people saying it to me.

I remember it because I could not understand it.

 

They say it’s easy, or it’s hard.

No one says it can be both. No one says it can be the sunlight of a summer day, silently peeking through your window in the early morning, and it can also be a tornado storm with lightning, blazing down trees and family farms.

They say that family love is there, friend love is learned, and your true love will come. You’ll see them on first sight, the greatest gift to you.

The golden half.

 

No one ever said that that golden half, that great gift, the best thing that could have ever happened to you, could be a friend. A companion of life, not a lover.

 

I saw him. First sight. I knew we’d be good friends someday.

How did I not know he’d still be here, 3 years later?

 

I am not a princess in white. I am a warrior, with scars all over and armor worn out from many battles, strong as ever.

I did not need saving. But he did it anyway, without even knowing it.

 

I love this man.

And he loves me.

 

My other half.

 

We don’t need sex.

We need silly moment that follow horrible moments. We need kisses on our foreheads when we are stressed. We need ridiculous nights where we are irresponsible and don’t give a damn about what other people think. We need each other, not societal constructs from under the moon.

 

It’s not at all what I thought it’d be.

It’s perfectly imperfect.

 

It’s not what I thought it’d be.

But it’s exactly what I needed.

To the Guy who thinks I’m too stuck on myself

To the guy who thinks I’m too stuck on myself to talk to anyone, you are probably not alone in that opinion. I don’t talk much. I tend keep a serious look on my face when I can. I am not the kind of person who runs up and starts a chat with just anyone. I just generally keep to myself.

To the guy who thinks I’m too good to talk to him, you might not know it, but I have PTSD. Years of manipulation, threats, and emotional abuse from a man I looked up to has given me generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and issues with depression. My natural response to people is to keep my distance, to stay away. The serious look on my face? I use it to deflect social interactions.

I do try to socialize, given that is what humans are – social creatures. Alas, in the past, I have spent hours pouring over every conversation I have in a day, in a week, over a year. Hating every word I ever say. Doubting myself. Agonizing over everything I ever said to anyone, driving to the end of my sanity.

You’ll understand if I don’t always want to jump head first into the nearest conversation.

To the guy who thinks I am being a stuck up b—-, my abuse taught me to hate myself. He told me I was fat, laughing at my eating habits. He told me I was ugly, but yelled at me when I decided to cover it up with make-up. I snickered at every sneeze and cough I ever uttered. Pointed out every outfit I wore and ripped it apart, the words being his shears.

To this guy who thinks that the problem is me and not him – it’s not me, it’s definitely you. I have made a lot of headway in my recovery. In the past few years, I have learned to love my body. I wear whatever I want, put on make-up if I feel like it, and don’t feel self-conscious when I sneeze. In the past few months, I have taught myself to enjoy conversations, and not to overanalyze them afterwards.

But here is the catch – I only feel like conversations with people I genuinely enjoy talking to.

Now, of course, my anxiety has kept me from talking to people I’d like to, but to those people, awkwardness would come into play. But you and I both know that our meetings are met with coldness, and that would be because you are LGBTQ-phobic. You made fun of the first plus-size model on a magazine cover, and said all women should be eating well and staying thin. You are more irresponsible than a kid on his 21st birthday, and you generally make everyone around you uncomfortable.

So yeah, maybe I am too stuck on myself to talk to you. But maybe you should figure out why that is before ignorantly pointing fingers.