Friday, October 16, 2015

“I’m sorry. Headaches aren't fun, are they?”

…My response? "YOU REALLY THINK I WOULD BE LETTING A “HEADACHE” KILL 9 DAYS OF MY LIFE, INCLUDING WORK AND TIME WITH MY KIDS??"

***

DISCLAIMER (and I don't just say this because the post is long): There are lots of curses and capitalized words. Continue at your own risk.

***

Some of you have asked how I am doing, and in an attempt to not use my eyes and brain too much, I haven’t answered. I'm sorry if that has worried or offended people. I'm just doing what I can do. So I figured I’d type this up, send it out collectively, and I won’t have to answer over and over again (with the exception that I miraculously get better and actually CAN type individual responses. In which case, I would gladly do so.)

WARNING: some of you (if not most) will find this offensive. If you’re one of those people, then stop reading and don’t blame me for writing something that offends you.

Because, truthfully and to the core, I don’t care. I can’t anymore. I don’t have the capacity to, physically or mentally (as we all know they go hand in hand). I also don’t need hate from you, so don’t think it’s your job to help me “see the light.” I have enough self-hate as it is, and I definitely don’t need you to add to it. Like I said: it's not your job to redeem people from all the things they’re doing wrong or don’t agree on. Sometimes…just listen. Maybe, try taking what someone says as legitimate and genuine.

Okay?

I have to get out my frustration. Right now I can’t talk. I can’t look at a screen for longer than a few seconds at a time (which means this is going to take me forever to type and edit), and I lack every single capability to use my brain for normal, functioning things. Even typing a 140-character tweet takes me a whole minute if I try grammar/spell-checking it in my current state. But this all has to be said, even if it takes me >2 hours to do it.

WARNING #2: some of you will not just find offense to my “horrible” attitude, but some of you will even think I’m seeking attention or complaining beyond what it necessary.

My response to that: fuck you.

Offended yet?

Maybe someday, when I’m myself again, I will regret writing this. But I don’t think so. Because I can honestly say I have never, in all my life, written something more purely honest than this. No pretending I’m better or more positive than I really am.

THIS, right here, is honest. It’s the exact state of mind I’m in at this moment. And I’m not going to hide it, or apologize for it.

Plus, I warned you, and I meant it: those who would be offended by this or judgmentally-judgy-judgy (and I guarantee there are more of you than I’m probably even guessing at this point—by some of my “friends” on Facebook), please, please just stop reading this. There doesn’t need to be anymore fuel to your hate and condemnation.

What is this about? Anyone who's been keeping up even remotely on my health recently probably knows.

So what’s it about? I WANT TO DIE.

Worried yet, worried for my state of mind? Please don't be; it comes with the territory.

This isn’t an attempt for attention, a warning of suicide (because let me assure you, it’s not that at all…so please, don’t go calling someone or putting me on watch or anything like that—I mean that; please don’t make it about that, or about you), and especially not a cry for help (unless, of course, you’re offering to give me a miracle cure, or put me out of my misery yourself; then I’d welcome the help).

This is simply an attempt to get out my most deepest feelings of loneliness, frustration, and suffering. I've been told in the past that using the word "suffering" is dramatic. It's why I have a complex about it and don't use it lightly. But, really, what better word is there for what I'm going through? You don't believe me, just hear me out a bit. Maybe with this letting-out-of-emotion, I will stop being able to sob on the floor in desperation or anger to God.

So, again, how am I?

I can honestly say that I have never been this bad off, physically, in my entire life. Not after I had my three kids, not when I’ve had the worst flu, not after my major lumbar surgery last summer—not ever this bad. No matter the opposition (and complex caused by that opposition) that will always try to tell me otherwise, I’ve always known, at least in the back of my mind, that I am one of the stronger human beings. I can't pretend I'm not anymore; I won't. Because that is simply not true, and that belief has ruined so much of my conviction, confidence, and otherwise. It's a conditioning, yes; but I know that with practice and time (and more therapy than I've been able to afford, probably), I can overcome that damaging persona that was never really there--put in my head by "you." You who still believe I'm weak--I'm sorry, but that is your problem--your false outlook--and I don't need you in my life, or my head anymore. I have a high pain tolerance (I had two children naturally, without meds, because I chose to). But this has. Wiped Me. Left me feeling like the most worthless, weakest person alive.

Again, before you just think I’m being dramatic, please, for the love of God, have this health condition for two days, and I guarantee you will feel the same desperation and defeat.

Have this for 8-9 days, like I have, and you too will be BEGGING from the floor (because you can’t get up) for God to take your life—if he truly loves you. As irrational of a thought as that is.

***

(Random insertion of EXTREME frustration: I juts got carried away with said frustration, slammed the keys, and ended up losing paragraphs of this.)

***

Have this for 9 days, while living alone and having no one to help “take care” of you, or even be able to walk across the room to get you something you need, and you will be sure that it’s everything you’ve ever deserved in your life.

Have this for 9 days and have to go a whole week without being able to take care of your kids and actually be with them, and you will wonder WHAT you ever did to deserve this Hell, regardless of you thinking in your last thought that you deserve this.

Have this for 9 days and when someone does try to help you, having them interrogate you about how much alcohol and coffee you’ve had, because they are suspicious and SURE you’ve brought this on yourself (note: I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in over two weeks; I haven’t had a single cup of coffee since two days before this came on. Not sure why I am mentioning this, because it truly doesn’t matter, and I know I don't have a problem (unless you're Mormon, then I have a problem; I guess old habits of a lifetime of self-blame don’t wear easily. And after all, this is a honest post).

Have this for 9 days and have to miss 5 days of work because you simply have no choice…when you have never been in more dire of a financial state in your life (not even able to get gas), and again, you’re wondering how the timing could get ANY worse. (Again, note: the one day—yesterday—I tried working, for 3 hours, I had to stop in tears because this thing is affecting my ability to concentrate as well, and I literally, for the life of me, was getting every client mixed up and messing up their reports. This hasn’t happened to me the whole 8 months I have been at my job; not even when I was new. I have NEVER been so out of it in my life; not even while drugged. On prescribed narcotics; calm down!)

Have this migraine-beyond-migraines for 9 days and have people, even medical professionals (all of whom, I’m convinced, have never had a real migraine in their lives), refer to this as a “headache,” and you will go ballistic. People—I’m telling you right now—there is QUITE a fucking difference between a migraine and a headache. You want to offend, hurt, or make someone feel like less of a human being? Claim to someone who is deeply suffering from a migraine that they just “have a headache,” and you’ve now won the Asshole award. My paramedic (whom my sister called when I was too prideful to call myself—I love you, Cindi), trying to be witty, cute, and funny: “Well, I’d say, judging by the heating pad on your pillow, you have what we call a headache. Am I right?” Me: “NO. It’s a migraine, ASSFUCKINGHAT.”*

*What I WISH I would have said.

On that same line, have this for 9 days, be in a medical facility twice in 3 days, have doctors not only refer to it over and over again as a headache, AND claim they see no other medical evidence that it’s nothing more than that, and therefore refusing to do real tests that might point to other things, while you KNOW something isn’t right in your body—far from normal for a migraine—and you might fucking go insane. MIGHT.

Have this MIGRAINE for 9 days, when people who claim themselves nature-paths or nutritionists talking “down” to you by suggesting things you—a sufferer of migraines—surely NEVER considered. “Oh, honey. You need more this and that in your diet.”

…DAMMIT, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THIS CAME ON AT DAY ONE?! If only I would have thought of EVERY DAMN AT-HOME REMEDY EVERY MIGRAINE SITE HAS EVER MENTIONED on my own!!

Hate to break it to you, Savior-people, but anyone who suffers from migraines knows every natural and at-home remedy, and has, most likely, tried them. Also hate to break it to you with this, but if the ER’s special elixir of “migraine cocktail” won’t even help—if NOTHING can touch it, especially real medication prescribed FOR migraines, doesn’t help--it’s highly-fucking unlikely that a mineral or a cool pack on the neck will help. No, let me rephrase: It WON’T help. A headache, sure, possibly. But migraines are a chronic condition. Not some random headache. Someone who suffers from them would have had them time and time again, and they would have done their research. They would know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t—I repeat, DON’T—give out migraine advice if you’ve never experienced them yourself. Period. Instead, offer support. Help.

Lastly, on the 9 days thing, I know—to those who just don’t get it—that 8-9 days feels like little time, and very manageable. It’s a little over a week, for fuck’s sake.

But, let me tell you: even for me, who does occasionally suffer from migraines that, at the max, they've last only up to 4 days, 8-9 days is a large number. It’s a large number to be feeling such intense and unbearable pain in itself. But add that it’s not only long but at an intensity I’ve never felt before (I’d say I’m sure NO ONE has felt it at this intensity, and could believe it; but I’d never make that claim, because I’m not an asshole). This 8-9 days HAS. BEEN. AN. UTTERFUCKILICIOUS. NIGHTMARE. PERIOD. 

And…then add an ADDITIONAL PERIOD.

I guess that leads me to my closing comments—what it is, exactly, from which I’ve been suffering (maybe just for all you who have actually continued reading and need more convincing…or maybe I’m still judging myself too harshly and this convincing is just for myself). What I am experiencing:

  • Pain SO fucking intense, on my ENTIRE head (from forehead, eyes, behind the ears, back of the head, neck, and all the way down my spine) that I can’t get up. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Can’t get up is pretty accurate. It’s why I haven’t been able to work or take care of my kids. It’s why when they were here for two hours yesterday, I had to feel like the worst mom in the world, have them close my door while I lay in bed, and allow them to take care of themselves—AKA get into everything possible in my house. Because every. Single. Time I go from lying or sitting, to a standing position, I have to lean against a wall for at LEAST two minutes while the blood rushes to my head, makes it all pulsate (not just causing the sound of a swelling ocean, but making sound all together disappear and making me lose my hearing), making my body temperature rise about 20 degrees (maybe an exaggeration on that number) because of how hard I am FIGHTING to stay upright, and makes tears involuntarily spring to my eyes (but I have to be careful not to actually “cry” or “sob” though, since that movement and concentration would make me black out) while keeping every muscle in my face and body as lax as I can (which feels impossible, since I just want/need to scream until I die). Eventually, during a good moment, these episodes (did I mention it happens literally EVERY time I stand—even if I’ve been sitting for only 30 seconds and was standing before that?) last about only a minute. On days like today, it lasts over THREE minutes. When I do have to stand, to pee or whatever (which, quite honestly, hasn’t been happening much lately), I have to make sure to grab everything I may need in those next few hours or more and bring them back to my bed with me before I lie/sit back down and risk having to do that all over again too soon. Two nights ago, no matter how hard I tried, the pain won, and I blacked out, finding myself on the floor less than a minute later.
  • I can't move my head in any direction other straight ahead or slightly looking down, or make any sudden movements--even if it's to adjust a pillow under my neck, or to grab my meds off the nightstand. 
  • I am nauseated beyond belief. Which is why I have eaten nothing but small doses of applesauce and saltine crackers for the past 10 days (yes, this part of it began before the migraine pain even started). Because, guess what? Eat more than that (I have tried to force myself, trust me), and I’m puking up everything I just tried eating.
  • Dehydration. Bad. Even the one liter of fluid I got at the doctor, and the two liters I got at the ER two days later, didn’t fix that. Let’s just say peeing is few and far between. So when you say with an all-knowing smile on your face to “make sure you’re drinking enough fluids!” it, again, makes me want to flip you off. I’m doing. The. Best. I. Absolutely can. (Let’s just hope this actually helps me lose some weight—har har!)
  • Cloudy brain. And I mean CLOUDY. I never watch TV. Anyone who knows me knows that I simply can’t waste my time doing it. I have nothing against it—I wish I could. I’m just not one who can, knowing there are so many better things I could be doing with my time (football is an exception). Well, TV is all I’ve been able to use to help me pass the time lately. Without that background noise, and not being able to physically and mentally do ANYTHING else, I would die without some form of background noise. Family Guy. Simpsons. New Girl. Friends. You name it, it’s helped time pass that much less excruciatingly. Work, on the other hand…well, we talked about that. How I tried my damnedest to get three hours in, and failed miserably. Writing? No way brain function at that capacity would be possible right now. Like I said, brain clouds at the highest, most disorienting level I have ever had. Not even remembering simple words while explaining to my doctors what is happening.
  • Weak body, shaky muscles.
  • Unable to breathe.
  • Fever (in the most recent two days—ooh, look a NEW development in how my body is literally giving out on me!)
  • Not able to sleep. 8-9 days of nothing more than 20 mins here and 20 mins there. Two nights ago, I slept better than I had this whole time—a whopping 3 hours straight. Problem isn’t just the pain. It’s the inability to “sleep” in any position other than sitting straight up. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I will be able to sleep for about 10 minutes on my left side. Why the side makes a difference, I don’t know. But never on my back, and never on my right side. Sitting straight up is all I have. Let me tell you (as I type with tears of utter misery and exhaustion), that it makes for excruciatingly long nights, and even longer 24-hours. I swear, these past 8-9 days has felt a month long.
  • NO sun. No light. The only time I’ve willingly stepped foot into the sun in the past 7 days is when I had to drive myself to the doctor (truly not sure how I did that, let alone survived; there is no way I could do that now), and when I had to have a friend take me to the ER two days later, followed by the store right after (because I was out of applesauce and saltines). Bless his heart for that. Otherwise, I can’t even look out the window when the sun is shining. Simply cannot.
  • I can’t do anything, really. I feel disabled (no cheap-shot on disabled people). It’s just the truth. There is no other way of saying that more accurately. I’d probably lie/sit here moaning at a constant rate if it didn’t hurt so much to do so.

There were two days I felt like I was having a breakthrough—two days I was convinced I had seen the worst if it and even told those I love that I thought I was now on the uphill. But then days like today happen. When I’ve taken five steps back and I wonder WHAT IN THE HELL I DID TO DESERVE THIS. Was everyone right, about how because I walked away from the Mormon church, I’m being punished—regardless of the fact that I am a better person now than I ever have been? Is it true that God really does go by what you preach from your mouth rather than the kind of person you are, and the kind of heart you have??

These are all things RAGING painfully in my mind, because as I’ve been sitting here twitching and bawling in misery and pain, I’ve been crying mercilessly to my Heavenly Father to please have pity on me. To please let me get back to my life with my beautiful children and to being able to hold a job so I can pay for simple things like toilet paper and gas. Begging. I know it’s possible. I’ve seen miracles before. So much that I even gave in to my ex-husband’s request to give me a blessing. I had faith. I had all the right things.

Yet I was worse the next day (today). So what does that mean? And please don’t tell me that it’s because the Lord will heal me in His own due time, when HE sees it’s right—when I’ve learned whatever it is I need to learn from this. Just spare me. I have heard these things my whole entire life—how we need to have faith anyway (on the rare off-chance our faith actually gets us what we need). How we are never supposed to question His motives. But right now, because I’m taking this opportunity to be honest in every way I can without calling people out by name, I can and will admit that I don’t get it. What’s the point of blessings when it’s completely hit and miss—in my experience, more miss than hit.

Don’t. Don’t judge. I have been more than faithful (religiously speaking) my entire life. Faith has always been one of my greatest strengths. I just have nothing left anymore. Maybe it’s a more realistic thinking. Or maybe I have just been pushed so far beyond what I am able, that I simply CAN’T view it that way anymore.

I know you all have good intentions, and people try helping in the ways they can. If you’ve made it this far in this post, then you have to know I mean it with all my heart, and that your “good intentions” ARE recognized. There just comes a point when good intentions, self-righteous attitude, judgment, preaching, and thinking you know more than a certain person about things or subjects, is not enough. I just need someone to care. That’s all. I need people to not turn a venting status on Facebook into their own debate and agenda. I said I fucking wanted to die. And it blew up. I guess this is where I FINALLY get through my thick head that people don’t always care about that, and that I simply shouldn’t let go of my feelings and frustration on social media, if I don’t want to be told WHAT to do, how to do it, what I’ve done wrong to get where I’m at, or that I’m just trying to get attention.

Cut that shit out, please. 

There are attention-seekers, and I am not one of them; never have been.

I just want to get better. That’s all. I DESPERATELY NEED to get better. And when did sharing that with friends who supposedly love you, and care about you, turn into an attention-getting scheme or a cry for being dramatic? I don’t have many people in my life I can count on anymore. To those of you I can, THANK YOU. It means everything to me. In the future I will keep my venting to you whom I mention, for the fear—No, knowledge, as has been proven time and time again—that anyone else will judge me or cringe when I am being “too open” with sensitive things on social media (which is a very common and wide-spread belief of anyone in my past life; though, really, I can’t understand why that is, and how anyone could be that insensitive as to believe that way. OH YEAH. I almost forgot that most religious--mainly LDS--people believe in suffering in silence). As though sharing your deepest feelings makes you a weak person.

Just a word of advice (now look, here I am trying to give advice to YOU; hypocrite much, Jen?): if you don’t understand what a person is dealing with or how bad it really is, don’t judge them by assuming you know. Care. Listen.

My next dilemma now is this: because I’m getting worse, what now? Is it normal for a migraine of this capacity to last this long (I’ve never heard of it myself)? Is there something more I should worry about, though I know I won’t get tested for anything else if I went back to the doctor (and let alone, can’t afford it)? I have truly never been so worried for my health and well-being before. Ever. Every day that goes on like this, I feel my body giving out in more ways. And THAT is no exaggeration. It’s happening. Right now, my mind is so bad off that I’m convinced I’m dying, or at least on my way there, since there’s no possible way I can get better with rest and nutrition, and that this is one big cycle that will kill me. I mean it when I say I have nothing left in me to go on.

^^^Those. Those are questions I want info and answers to (if it's normal for a migraine at this intensity and magnitude to last this long, etc.), if you have them. Because none of the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff had answers. This is something where someone's personal experience would come in handy.

So while I would never end my own life, I do, in all honesty, which an intruder would come in my home and end me right now. Not even the motivation of being my kids’ mother is taking that dire desperation away. And that is truly a first in my life. Because I’d make a better mother as a ghost than I would being “alive” right now.

I wish a healthcare professional would listen to me when I say I. Don’t. Feel. Right. That this is not just a “headache.” Tell me this is a normal extreme and length of time to be experiencing this, and I will continue to ride it out. Not happily, but I will.

Now, since four hours have passed since I wrote bits and pieces of this, and edited it once, I'm going to go pass out. I guess I should say veg out, since passing out isn't an option.

Oh, and stay tuned, sometime later next week (or sooner), for the post that will explain why HEMLOCK VEILS, and my career, are being killed.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

When Doctors Can't See Past Themselves

I just need to vent. Take that as your warning, I guess.

The venting is toward my body, but mostly toward doctors. More precisely, MY doctors. At Kaiser. Yeah, I'm calling Kaiser out. I'll get to that in a bit. 

I am so, so exhausted of struggling through pain. I've had to just "deal with it" since moving back to Colorado last December. Most the time, I can deal with it; I've learned how to deal with it over time, and accepted it as a part of my daily life. I suppose anyone who struggles with chronic pain has to reach that point. It took me two years to accept it. Honestly, that first year I got it, I never thought I would accept it. So that's definitely something.

But, holy shit, does it interfere with my life sometimes. Holy shit, does it take all my spoons.

Times when, like this weekend (and past week, really), EVERYTHING hits all at once. Because autoimmune disorders do that. Everything is affected by them. Just to list this weekend's specific problems... 

1. A migraine from the deep crevices of Satan's armpits (one of the worst and longest-lasting I've ever had, which gives me flu-like symptoms and has made it impossible to eat real food for almost an entire week). 

2. My residual back pain (again, worse than its been since my surgery last summer, for reasons I can't define). Lower back pain so bad that it hurts to lie down. It hurts to take every step. Which means finding a comfortable position is entirely impossible. 

3. Lastly, my fibromyalgia + autoimmune disorder pain....again (again), much worse than it usually is.

Individually, these things are bad enough. But put them all together, all at once and at a high magnitude, and I'm in pure Hell. I lose sleep. I can't eat. Last night, for example, I was awake for 5 hours straight in the middle of the night, with all these things raging at once, wishing someone would just put me out of my misery. Switching my heating pad and hot rice pack back and forth between my head, the back of my neck, my back, and my wrists and hands (and also wishing that I had a full-body heat source, since I couldn't affectively reduce pain on all areas at once). Moaning and groaning and cringing as my body twitched with every bout of pain. Everywhere. 

In these times, sleep is impossible. And the lack of sleep, of course, only makes these symptoms worse, thus making it a seemingly endless cycle of misery. 

I hate my body. 

What makes certain weeks/days worse than others, I wish I knew. If I could determine what things made all this pain flare up, I would, possibly, be able to have a better control on it. But it's all one random, annoying mystery, as anyone who suffers from chronic pain can tell you. 

The point of this rant? Why am I so irritated with my doctors? Because they don't care. They care more about their regulations. They will not prescribe pain meds. My regular family doctor says, by the rules, she isn't allowed to. My rheumatologist there says the same thing. So if my rheumatologist can't, then WHO CAN? What is the point of these doctors even existing? In Arizona, my regular family doctor could prescribe whatever he wanted. Whether it's because he understood, or wasn't bound by gigantic company regulations, I don't know. But he did care. At Kaiser, you're under one massive corporation's rules. 

I have no way of monitoring my pain. They ask if I've thought of IBU Profin. And I want to scream, if it wouldn't add to the migraine so much. Any sufferer of chronic pain knows (I know I keep using that phrase) that IBU Profin does NOTHING. 

In frustration, I asked my regular doc at Kaiser a few months ago what she recommended for pain then, if they couldn't give me anything. You know what she said? Exercise. Meditation. Rest. And of course, IBU Profin. It left me feeling like they view anyone with pain there as some sort of drug seeker. Everything is regulated. And it was one of many times I left their feeling utterly defeated.

Which lead me to brave my next question for her--one I was so scared to DEATH to ask, but one I had to ask in my mad desperation. I'll get to that in a second.

About a month before I asked her this question, after having already tried to get some form of pain management before that, I decided to try cannabis. I live in Colorado, after all; the stuff can be bought recreationally at a dispensary. So I tried it. I bought some edibles I would save for bad pain days, when nothing else worked.

And guess what? I've never had anything relieve my pain so well--migraine, fibro, back, and all. I was amazed. For the couple-few hours it was in my system, I FINALLY had relief.

But cannabis is expensive. And when you are living penny to penny, it adds up. I had heard of many other people, not just in Colorado, who have had their own doctors prescribe this as a form of pain relief. The results are impossible to ignore. 

It.

Works.

This brings me back to my brave question. I say brave because even though I'm in Colorado, and prescribing this for pain, nausea, and anxiety is common practice, I have major issues with worrying what others will think of me. I have worried my whole life, because of my own insecurities as well as other factors, that I have to pretend I don't hurt or feel sick. That I have to tough things out so that I don't look weak to others. And that if I don't "tough things out," people will think I'm either lying, trying to get attention, or being weak. Just asking my doctor for any form of pain meds made me feel awful enough. Especially because of how much I hate narcotics and how they make me feel.  Part of me was even a bit relieved that they wouldn't give me any (they wouldn't even give so much as a simple Tramadol).

But the fact remains that there are just some days I can't make it through the pain. It effects my depression, anxiety, and everything else--again, like a pitiless cycle. Which affects my time with my children and those I love. It affects my daily work responsibilities--which I have to be on top of, mainly because I NEED these hours. I NEED an income, desperately. 

When the docs at Kaiser told me they couldn't prescribe any form of narcotic or opioid, and then when I asked what else they COULD prescribe and they told me there was nothing else and I would just have to deal with it, THAT'S when I knew I had to admit to her that for the past month, I'd been using small doses of cannabis to monitor my pain. I had to ask her...

So I did that. I admitted it to her, told her it was the only thing that gave me any relief. And I asked her if there was any way she could PRESCRIBE me some, so I could actually afford it.

The fears I felt at having to ask her this were, of course, verified. Again, my pain was not validated. Her response? She shook her head and got panicky. She told me she would never prescribe cannabis to any of her patients...because she doesn't BELIEVE in its benefits. 

She doesn't believe in its benefits.

Even though the results are a given. Even though it is much safer than any drug on the market, especially narcotics. 

But she reiterated to me how harmful it was (she is a brand-new, young doctor, out of NY), and told me I should never use it again. Yet, she couldn't provide me with any solid facts or studies proving her claim.

Once again--more than before--I left feeling defeated and weak, with a stamp across my back saying DRUGGIE.

That's how I felt anyway. So for the past couple months, I have had to go through life with nothing but IBU Profin.

And a supply of cannabis on hand.

And every time I use it, I feel guilty and wretched. 

I hate my doctors. 

This is my frustration. I have to suffer through nights of flared up EVERYTHING. And I have no answers. No one takes me seriously. 

I not only feel weak, but I feel alone. 

I miss my old doctors in Arizona. 

But at least I can be grateful for this state I live in, and how available cannabis is (though expensive) to those of us who have doctors too ignorant and insensitive to our issues. 

End of rant.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Drink Called Bittersweet

Her eyes have been opened, again.

She had a mental breakdown, the kind that left her literally gasping for air.

But first, her eyes were opened. Again, and again.

They’ve been opened wider and wider during the past few years; the past year alone was a clusterfuck of eye-openings itself—more eye-openings than one should have to see in that small stretch of time. Human nature, religion, love, the world. Self.

Self. So much about self.

She can breathe and see somewhat normally now, so she takes another gulp of bittersweet, chilled wine, the crisp fuel washing its way over her tongue, tingling her taste buds, up to her palate, and mingling with her teeth, before it falls down her throat, less smoothly than the sips before it.

She only wanted to be left alone. To figure this journey out herself, apart from the culture.

But this life she was a part of won’t allow that. Can’t allow that.

And opening eyes don’t wait. They don’t wonder when it’s convenient for you. She knows this, yet it never fails to throw her off course.

Happiness in this life simply can’t be gained the old way. The way she’s been living most her life. It wasn’t there, too many holes to fill, too much self-loathing to nurse. She found happiness, eventually. Happiness with herself, with who she was.

Is.

But such self-awareness and joy came at a price.

Comes at a price.

Another swallow of Bittersweet, but the swallow has become a gulp.

She is free. But not free of consequences, of haunting reminders. Nothing is fair. Nothing. She has become one with herself—loves herself, she may even say. But in return she has given up the might-be of a next life.

Trial. Tribulation. Self-hatred. Those are the cost—the payment she must endure—for a potential of eternal joy.

She has made her choice.

She has gulped this bittersweet realization in sync with her wine. Her earthy, worldly comfort. Her stress-reliever. Her one of a few materialistic anxiety relievers and comforts. Her self-medication that has made dealing with all … this … more possible. Made it easier to think and observe life more clearly.  Made it easier to step back and …

Breathe.

Made loving herself that much easier.

Now, for self-love, she will be cut off.

Nothing feels just. Nothing feels right.

In her heart, she chucks the wine glass against the wall, screaming in rage as it shatters to a million pieces, shards injuring all things surrounding her until all of them …

Finally …

Hear her. See her. Understand her.

But outside her heart, she stares at the recently empty glass. Empty. Silent. Accepting. Alone.

She longs for comfort. Prays for it. But what she needs, now that Bittersweet has been swallowed, is more than emotional. She needs physical comfort. She’s been without it for so long. She needs the arms of someone she loves—here, before her. Constant. Never wavering.

Not sporadic comfort through a phone or a computer. She needs to feel the love. She aches for it, yearns for a voice against her, a heartbeat—a soul in physical presence, promising soundness. Promoting comfort rather than condemnation, promoting the love for herself she recently found. Assurance she is worth it, is on the right path.

Physical arms. Physical, raw embrace. Physical, raw, and warm presence.


Turning back to the bottle of Bittersweet, she finds it empty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Character Interview

I was looking through my old files, and I found this character interview I wrote, back when HEMLOCK VEILS was released and when I was editing Book 2. I never posted it, probably because I either forgot about it or I thought it sucked (It kinda does). Either way, I'm posting it now. So, here's an interview between Stephen Ashton (Elizabeth's father) and myself--Stephen being the interviewer and myself being the interviewee:



My interviewer sits casually at the other end of the square, wooden table in Starbucks. His plaid shirt is tucked into Levis, and his hand scratches the back of his head, ruffling brown hair. He clears his throat and opens his leather-bound journal. The end of his Bic ben has been chewed on, mauled. Strange, for someone who’s so laidback. But the old journal doesn’t surprise me; it’s just his style. He’s probably recorded most his findings of the Magical Realm in books just like this. I try to hide a smile as he flips through to find an empty page. I wonder if he has even planned the questions he will ask me, or if he will just ask them on a whim. I shouldn’t wonder, though—and the chewed-on pen shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, either. After all, I did create him.

He finds a blank page and settles more comfortably in his chair, the sound of a coffee grinder momentarily distracting him. He’s disappointed, I realize, that we came to a commercialized coffee chain. He has more in common with his daughter than I thought. She even looks more like him than I thought.

“Mrs. Davenport,” he says with a nod.

“Hi, Mr. Ashton,” I reply. “I’m just going to call you Stephen, though, if that’s okay. We don’t need formalities.” It’s silent, as though he’s waiting for me to begin, and I smile. “I think you’re supposed to start with a question.”

He chuckles, though it’s not a natural sound. “Yes.” He looks at his blank page, again clearing his throat.

“Just ask what you want, Stephen. Like I said, no need to be formal. It’s just me.”

He meets my eyes, for the first time in this visit. “Okay then.” He closes his book. “Why me?”

“Why not you? You have just as much of a story as anyone else.”

“I don’t even have a place in the novel.”

“In HEMLOCK VEILS, no. But you are the start of all this. For your daughter, for the story in general. As the series continues, the readers will see that. They’ll see that it’s you who has weaved Elizabeth into this realm.”

He nods after a moment. He’s always been a humble man in my mind. And so genuine in thought. “Let’s begin then.”

Stephen: What made you think Henry and Elizabeth’s story was worth telling? We all know there is a fair share of Beauty and the Beast retellings out there. What made this one different? What stood out to you?

Jennie: What’s not different? That would be a better question. Not only does this story take place in our modern world, and in the haunting rainforest of Oregon, but the monster in this story—the beast—hasn’t had his whole life disappear from the curse, since he is cursed only when the sun sets. During the day, he remains the man he is—cold, wealthy, and arrogant. Oh, and an immortal asshole. For his curse to be broken, a life has to end and huge sacrifices have to be made. And as you know … Elizabeth had her own demons.

S: That she did. I’ll never forgive myself for the demons I passed onto her.

J: No need to blame yourself. Elizabeth is strong; you know that. There is no one else who could have stood up to these tasks like she did. It had to be her for this journey. You know that as well as I do.

S: Who came to you first, begging to have their story told—Henry or Elizabeth?

J: Neither, actually. I first envisioned their story itself, envisioned the struggle to find one’s internal beauty being explored; but I knew it couldn’t be discovered, nor the characters be made whole, with a simple realization of that love. There had to be something great at risk—there had to be a greater purpose. And I knew then that if I wanted to tell this beautiful story that had been haunting me since I was a child, death had to be involved. To break such a damaging curse, the Beauty would have to sacrifice her life for her Beast.

(Stephen sits back, irritated that I so willingly would put his daughter at risk. Again, he doesn’t see it like I do. He’s too close to the situation, doesn’t realize I can see the bigger picture, or that I have 100% faith in his daughter, and also in the connection she and Henry share.)

J: But Stephen, you do realize that it wasn’t me who put Elizabeth in that position? She volunteered. After I knew what had to be done, your daughter came to me. She told me her story, starting with the dark and rainy night she drove through Mt. Hood National Forest, trying to seek some lost connection to you. She took me there, demanded I tell her story. Henry, however, was a harder case. It took me a little longer to crack his exterior. Elizabeth is the pro at that; not me.

S (laughing): I suppose she is. (Clears throat, getting back to business.) The readers know by now that HEMLOCK VEILS is a paranormal romance and the retelling of a classic fairy tale. But who will love this book—what is your target audience?

J: Anyone who loves the cathartic trigger of moving emotions, but the draw of a fresh, new take. Something that will take you a place you’ve never been. Magic, beauty, warmth, love—it’s all found within. But HEMLOCK VEILS isn’t just for those with a weak spot to love stories. The character arcs of Elizabeth and Henry—as well as the secondary characters—take us far and wide throughout the story, leaving one to contemplate their own inner monsters, as well as how to accept them.

I’ve had many people tell me that they would never have normally read in this genre. It encompasses so many different aspects of so many genres that it appeals to everyone. Lovers of fantasy, romance, magical realism, thrillers, mysteries, or even just mainstream fiction. Both men and women have been drawn to the story for this reason. I would, however, have to warn that there is some adult content in the story, given that it’s targeted for adult audiences. I’ve talked to many teens who’ve read it and love it; but I have to state that disclaimer.

S: What’s next for Henry and Elizabeth? For the town?

J (smiling): And for you? Well, we left of just when Henry and Elizabeth thought they could begin a peaceful existence. But as we know, life doesn’t always work out the way we plan.

S: No, it doesn’t. Sometimes a merciless author decides to drag on the pain and suffering.

J: Ah, but also the joy. Again, Stephen, I don’t do this of my own free will, or some desire to mess with the lives of those I love. Because I do love you all, even the worst of you. You are all family, friends. I’m only the medium by which my loved ones can get their story out to the world. It’s Elizabeth and Henry who’ve told their story to me. I just try to interpret it to the best of my ability.

S: And do you think you’ve been successful at that?

J: All I can hope is that the readers get as swept away in this place, setting, and story as I did. If the reader can feel they’ve escaped into a magical place, with characters as flawed as them, but as lovable, then that’s all I could ask for.

S: What will we see in the next book, and when?

J: In answer to the latter, I still don’t have a confirmation on that. But count on it being sometime this fall. As far as what we will see in the next book, we will see more of Elizabeth’s upbringing—how her life has been tied to all of this since before she was born. We will see a glimmer of you, and be let in on some eye-opening secrets of some of the characters we thought long-gone. We will see that Elizabeth and Henry’s journey has just begun, and they have bigger demons yet to fight. And in keeping with the tradition of classic fairy tale retellings, you will see some inspiration from Sleeping Beauty weaved throughout, where we discover an antagonist as intriguing as he is understated. As meek as he is powerful. As vengeful as he is ancient.

S. Where can readers get their hands on a copy of my daughter’s story?

J: HEMLOCK VEILS is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook format. 


We shake hands when the interview commences, and just like that, Stephen is gone, leaving me alone in the corner table at my local Starbucks.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Document Titled "Me"

In 2011, I struggled. I shared my struggle with no one--no one but MS Word. I had expectations to keep, people to make happy. I had to be strong. I had an image to keep. So I vented to my laptop (as I've done many times), vowing to never show a soul because of how hard on myself I was--and worse, how deeply I believed those cuts to be true, and that exposing them would only solidify that truth.

Well, this week, for the first time ever, I allowed other eyes to read what I wrote--one of the essays from a dark time I thought had to be endured alone. The essay, though, is realistically just a journal entry--to me, anyway. It was a venting out-pour of the pain in my heart, and a rather sad one at that. I was encouraged this week, by these dear writers with whom I can share my soul, to share it with the public; to let others read the words they can probably relate to. I promised them I would. It's nothing more than a blurb from when my life was so utterly different than it is now, yet I seem to still fight the same internal battle. 

The problem I faced then is that I was trying so hard to be what I thought I should be--what others wanted me to be. What I expected myself to be. I was trapped by those expectations. I have recently begun to conquer some of these mountains by finding who Jennie really is, and what Jennie really likes--and not being sorry for any of it.

But who am I kidding? No matter how much that changes, these other internal struggles and self-hatred will probably remain indefinitely. I guess my point to this is that when you are suffering, know you don't have to go it alone--that you are not alone. That's all.

Here it is:

~

So often I’m not good enough. So often I wish I was like everyone else. So often I’m living in the shadow of every imperfection. Disgusting, ugly, fat, tired, dingy, dirty, dorky. So often I daydream of being beautiful.

They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But what if the inside’s just as ugly as the outside? What if nothing you do is beautiful to anyone else but yourself? What if no one else can see that beauty and your talents go unnoticed, unappreciated? Are they just as meaningful, just as…beautiful?

There are transformation stories abroad, of ugly ducklings or talented, understated beings, turned beautiful from inside out. Beings who don’t see their potential until everyone else does. Beings that realize there is something to love in them.

Beings with happy endings.

This is not a transformation story. Just a woman hideous to herself on the outside, not beautiful enough to her husband, not patient enough for her children, and not good enough to the rest of the world.

An insecure teenager turned self-hating wife and mother.

A sickness, a madness—not cured by Godly love, by years of practice, or by beholding the beautiful things I’ve created. Godly love is out-shadowed by a mirror’s reflection or an unkind word. A constant comparison to others, a loved one’s condescending judgment and criticism: they all proclaim the ringing words that I. Am. Not. Good. Enough. In every way.

Can’t I be more confident? Can’t I be less awkward? Can’t I run better, socialize better, be funnier, be more…beautiful?

Can’t my children’s beauty and innocence and perfection, and the scars I wear from carrying them, be enough to testify I am good enough?

Can’t they?

Can’t they testify that maybe I’m even better than good enough?

I’m a mother. I breathe because of them, I live every moment for them. Perfect, in every sense of the word, they are everything I’m not.

Careless giggles, innocent thoughts, pleased by beautiful simplicities. Godly faces, with perfect smiles, corn silk hair, and clearest blue eyes.

Perfection.

They love me. I yell, I lose it, I cuss, I’m ugly. Yet, they love me. They forgive when I scream. They forgive when I lose it.

They love me.

And above all my imperfections, this is the greatest: to be this way with godlike children, children innocent and only deserving of the best things. They deserve better than an impatient parent.

And I don’t deserve the forgiveness. I don’t deserve such treasures.

With them I am nothing. 

And I cry to my God in gratitude, bruised knees and stained cheeks and a swelling heart. I cry in gratitude and beg to always have what I can’t live without: the best parts of me. I beg for their futures, that they will be better than me, that my imperfections will not rub off on them.

With them I am nothing.

And too often, I am not good enough.

(Me, 2011)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why People Are Too Hard On Bella

I know, I know. Just bear with me, okay?

We've probably all heard the flack Bella (or really, Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series and creator of Bella's annoying character) has gotten for being an enabler in an abusive and/or controlling relationship, or for not being strong enough. For being too dependent on her man-vampire. I love the empowerment women are finally getting in our culture and society--right now is the best time in history to be a woman, and hopefully that only continues. It is due to this wonderful influence (and the tuning out of negative influences) I have come to know my own strength as a woman, as well as my own worth. That my feminism is strength.

But is it really so pathetic for Bella to be completely crushed when Edward leaves her in New Moon (the second book in the Twilight series, for anyone living under a rock)?

I read the Twilight series as the books were first released--before it was cool. I was a Twilight hipster. They were enjoyable reads to me, and I was a fan. Thanks to media overdoing it, I am sick to death of all things Twilight and can't stand the movies or the actors they got to play the characters. The rest--the fact that Meyer isn't the best writer, the plot holes, the cliches, and the creepy way Bella is so okay with her stalking, controlling boyfriend--were things I was willing to overlook when reading the books originally (back when I had time to read for leisurely enjoyment).

But something has always bothered me about the criticism she's received. In New Moon, Edward tells Bella he is leaving forever, he doesn't love her, and then he leaves her alone in the middle of the forest. The readers all knew, of course, that it was only to protect her, but Bella believed him. The fact that she believed him so easily is beside the point (and rather ridiculous/unbelievable). The point is, her reaction to him leaving her--the way she curled up into the fetal position on the forest floor and was nearly incapacitated by heartbreak--is understandable.

Yes, I said it.



I'd like to think I'm a strong woman. I might be afraid to admit it sometimes, but I know I am. I've been through a lot. I'm not the same person I was as a teen. If I had the same experience in my teen years as Bella did, honestly, I would have had the same reaction.

Even now, 15 years later, I want to have the same reaction. I am an adult, and have proven, to myself and others, time and time again that I am independent and strong. Yet I completely empathize with Bella. And she was a teenager, for crying out loud.

At risk of exposing my vulnerability, I'm gonna just go ahead and admit that if it wasn't for my kids--the three small beings for whom I'm responsible, and the three small beings who depend on me for everything, look up to me, and live for me--I would have recently found myself in the exact same state as Bella. Down to zoning every person out, never speaking, and allowing time to get eaten up by the consuming heartbreak. The hole, as Bella calls it.

But I can't. I'm a mother. That's not to say mothers can't fall apart--I have. I'm just saying that for me, my kids are the only people I'm living for anymore, and I have to be strong for them because they're all I have. In my mind, I have no choice. So even when I'm dying on the inside, and literally chanting inside my head, over and over again, that I can make it to the next minute, my exterior is trying with all of me to keep it together. For my kids.

Bella didn't have kids. She was a teenager. Cut her a little slack.

What is wrong with a woman being both independent and strong (what is strong, anyway?), yet still vulnerable enough to be ripped apart inside at the loss of love? So often now, love is looked at as a weak emotion; yet it's the strongest emotion in existence. The strongest people can be in love, and it doesn't weaken them. It's healthy to have another half, to have shared your heart and soul with another person--and normal to feel completely at loss if/when losing that love.

Love may be angering and not make any logical sense, but it is beautiful, healthy, and needed. Especially the true kind. Edward was Bella's heart, and whether or not we agree with their relationship patterns, she had shared more with him than with any other soul; he was her soulmate. He was the only soul to ever connect to her that way.

Think about that.

So when he walked out of her life, taking her heart with her, naturally, she was a shell--someone who had to completely relearn who she could be without that person, someone who had to allow herself to mourn.

I will never feel weak in admitting I need the love of a man. No one should feel weak in admitting and recognizing that they need the love of anyone. It's human. So we should cut ourselves (and Bella) some slack when mourning whatever it is we are mourning. Embrace the grieving process, because it's the only way you'll make it through. Notice how in New Moon (and any other successful story) the story doesn't spend a lot of time while Bella is grieving. It jumps from month to month, season to season. Probably because that passing of time--the relentless waiting for things to feel better--is not only the slowest part, but the most difficult and grueling. We wish our lives could skip ahead in time like they do through those grueling parts in stories. No one wants to endure that hell in books and movies; we especially don't want to endure it in our own lives.

But unfortunately, there's no way around that (if there is, someone better call me). There's no way around the empty ache, the wondering what you did wrong, the hours and days of self-blame and regret, the millions of milliseconds wondering what in God's name happened, what you could have done to prevent it, and how you could have been so foolish and blind. There's no way around the anger, the hurt, the missing. When you grieve--whatever or whomever you're grieving--all this endless shit is necessary.

So let's just let Bella grieve without calling her weak, desperate, dependent, or pathetic. Grieving, whether we like to think so or not, is pathetic. Pathetically human. Though she does need to see a therapist for some of her other issues, the way she grieves and mourns for Edward isn't one of them.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Your Journey, Your Wind

Do you ever need to release your anxiety or emotions as badly as you need a breath of fresh air, but can't because they're not for the world--or anyone, really--to hear? Do you ever feel the need to scream or shout at the world for all it's done to the battered, scarred victim you are, but at the same time feel the need to weep tears of gratitude to all those people, truths, and beauties that have, in turn, made you find just one more nugget of self-awareness or appreciation for who you've become? (I'm trying not to shudder at my cliche decision to open with a question. Hopefully you can get past it, too.)

My path of self-discovery has been a long one. It's been trying. It's hurt myself, as well as those around me. It's put other people's happiness at risk. It's been brutal. And wretched. And left me wondering how I could go my entire life before this not being able to see myself, and the world around me, more clearly. It's been a journey I could never--not even in a million-word essay--articulate to another living soul and have them truly understand the depths of this Hell-slash-awakening-slash-joy-slash-rebirth.

Because it is mine.

I am so grateful for the life I've had. I wouldn't take back a thing. But, oh, how I wish I would have loved myself sooner. How I wish I would have seen my potential at a much younger age, and held the conviction that what I wanted mattered. How I wish I would have known myself, loved myself, and been confident in those things.

I'm not the same person I once was; but I couldn't be happier about that. Subtle wearing-downs and beatings of the soul have changed me. And, unfortunately, most those beatings have either been by my own hand or by others whom I've allowed to "steal my wind." I'm sure any lovers of the TV show, Friends, know what I'm referring to, but in one episode, Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica get on a high from reading a female self-empowerment book. It eventually makes them turn on each other and is meant to be a comedic plot device. But I think there is so much truth to that statement, as ridiculous as it sounds.

Do not let anyone steal your wind. *cue snickers from Ross, Joey, and Chandler*



You own your soul, your body, your mind, your spirit, your intuition, your inspiration, your choices, your mistakes, your heart, your worth. You own them. You own you. Do yourself the greatest service you can ever do, and realize that, before it's too late and you've left a warpath in your wake.

Own yourself. Own your space. Own your freedom to choose, your freedom to be a smart, powerful, and talented woman (or individual). Be proud of that--not ashamed. Being ashamed of your strength is the greatest disservice you can do to you, your family, God, and even those around you.

Be YOU. No matter what anyone else thinks, be YOU, dammit. You might feel alone in a sea of opposition, and I know that is one of the single hardest things you will ever have to face, but I can also promise that you will be happier for it. You owe it to yourself. And believe it or not, you owe it to God, too.

But to whom you don't owe anything is other humans.

Another promise I can sadly make is that if you go through your life living in a matter that says, "I'm not good enough--my wants don't matter enough--to live for me. I must live for others, I must make others happy, unceasingly. My feelings don't matter, and others must always come first," you WILL discover you are wrong. You WILL suffocate, drown, or become trodden beneath the feet of those around you, even those you call your loved ones. You might think the altruistic way to be is weak, passive, modifiable, and agreeable. (Note: it is possible to be agreeable, selfless, charitable, and loving while still putting your own happiness at the forefront, right alongside the happiness of those you would do anything for. THIS is the thing we must learn. Sometimes to learn selflessness, we must first experience being selfish. Not selfish as society labels, but selfish in that you can't save anyone else if you're already dead.)

But you are not weak. And being weak is not the answer.

Because you are strong, you will realize this. You will discover the years and years of pain you've caused yourself, the trauma you've brought to your psyche, and the heavy amount of healing that must take place. Because you are important, and you are strong, you will discover that to start the healing--to get better--you might even have to hurt others on your path to becoming healthy again.

To become YOU.

The real you.

The you who you know inside and out, who you can feel happy for and proud of, despite what every person around you thinks. Despite the current of opposition you swim against. You will know it HAS to be done. You must fight. And for once, you must fight for YOU.

But the road will be dark. Almighty Heaven and Earth, it will be dark. But you will fight. Because you are worth it. You will fight through those dark times, when releasing the flowing tears of despair is all that gets you to the next moment--the next moment you are too blinded by sorrow to see that the tears you shed are actually tears of bravery and not tears of weakness.

You will have times when you will feel like this, when you will tell yourself:

Before an explosion is an implosion. Everything stops. You take in everything. Every surrounding, you absorb. They soak in through your skin, into your soul. Sights, sounds, absence of sound, emotions--or lack thereof--from those around you. None of it matters anymore. You've absorbed it all; it's all become a part of you, a part of your world and your reality--the only reality that now exists, but the reality that is really just a dream. Because nothing is real. Nothing but your emptiness and your cry for help. Your ache to shout everything at the top of your lungs. To stop hiding. Stop hiding what you feel and say what needs to be said. Stop pretending. Stop feeling weak and worthless. Feel good enough, not for them but for yourself. ...And since none of that is possible, you ache to disappear, forever. ...And since that isn't possible either, bury it and go on with your life. Be at everyone's aid because that's what you have to do. Because that's who you are. Take no thought to your own deteriorating mental health, or the way you beg God to take your life so you can stop disappointing everyone, including yourself. So you don't have to feel weak anymore. So you can be free.

I jotted those words down in one of my darkest moments recently (the past few months have been full of them). But that voice is wrong. I know that, and I knew that then. Do not let that voice win. That person the voice tells you you are is not you at all. The person you really are is the one waiting on the other end of this refiner's fire. The flames are too scorching, too bright to see anything else while the fire rages. But that fire will refine. Please, allow it to refine.

Some people are blessed to have a strong sense of who they are from the moment they're old enough to have memories. Others discover it later, but while still young enough. However, others--like me--don't realize it until well into adulthood. If you are the latter, you are not alone. You will be alone in the sense that only YOU can fight on your battleground and trek on your journey; but know that others have fought their own, with blood, sweat, and tears.

Do not let any anyone tell you how to fight that journey--no one. Only you can know what journey you need to trek, what path you need to take, and what weapons to bring to the battle. No other man, no matter how great their rank is in church, society, etc., can approve or disapprove.

Find yourself, love yourself, BE yourself. Make yourself happy. If you can't do it for you yet, then do it for others. Save them the pain, and be true to you from the beginning. Even if others see you as selfish, worldly, weak, or evil, it DOES. NOT. MATTER. All that matters is that YOU know you're doing what needs to be done. That YOU feel your worth.

Listen to your heart. Listen to your soul. Be YOU, and love YOU.

Don't let anyone steal your wind.




Sunday, March 8, 2015

Like A Girl

Dear [insert culture, society, family, or name of choice],

I want this stage of my life to be over, this stage of being beaten down by the measurement you've set. I'm ready to move onto the next: to the one where I don't allow my worth to be dependent on how you view me.

I know, I'm living a dream if I think I'll ever be to that stage. But maybe someday I'll be closer, hopefully much closer than I am now. Maybe someday, when I'm not enveloped and pressured by your view that is meant to make my view and desires feel guilty, I'll be a little closer to that--a little more sure of myself than I am right now.

Because right now, I'm feeling the weight of the shadow you've created. The one you've tried to mold me into. Right now, I'm feeling the years of conditioning, ready to--hopefully--break loose.

Right now, in your eyes, I'm a woman who's walking a thin line into an unacceptable life. If I want to be accepted, I must fit into your category. You say that isn't so, and preach acceptance. Yet the more I realize my potential--and that it can't and won't be chained to your acceptable womanly shadow--the more I feel your judgement.

I'm selfish, shallow, vain, worldly. Pick the word you like--you've used them all, if only in your heart and mind.

But really, I want to be independent and change the world. I want to make a difference. I want to allow who I am to shine through in what I do. I want to work my talents and be able to accept it and believe it when people tell me I'm a great person, and really quite likable.

I wan't to stop feeling like it's a shameful thing to show my beauty, within and without.

I'm done.

I'm done not feeling good enough. I'm done being downgraded by our clashing. I am a woman, and one God loves. I am a woman who is strong and maybe even sometimes incredible, even when--brace yourself--I'm not at the potential you think I can reach.

But you know what? I'm steering in the direction of the potential I want to reach, and, actually, am already there. I want to become what I value. And--again, brace yourself--I think I just might be there. I think I just might already be a woman of worth, to my standards. And that makes me happy.

Do you hear that? I am happy with who I am. What, that's hard to believe, since I'm not the kind of woman you think I should be?

Guess what. I love the woman I am. I love who I know I am inside, and what I know I'm capable of. I love me, who you don't see, and sometimes I see that others love me, too. I'm kind--genuinely and honestly kind. I have an empathetic and caring soul, that brims over capacity with love for others. I want others to be happy and for them to see their worth.

And I want to be included in that. I want to stop being judged, tirelessly--on my appearance, for one. Not only do I not want to be judged for it, but I want to stop allowing you to let me feel unworthy or not good enough because of it.

No, I am not craving acceptance. No, I'm not lost. I am found, and have accepted myself. With every passing day, I feel more capable of owning who I am. So, please, don't feel sorry for me, or pin me as a rebellious soul trying to find her identity. I'm a grown woman, and I know exactly who I am.

I might not be as conservative as you, in beliefs, words, or dress. That doesn't mean I'm a bad person.

I just. want. to. be. comfortable. in my own damn skin. And I want to stop feeling the need to apologize for it.

It's okay--more than okay--to be a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and stands for something--even if that something is different than what you stand for.

It's okay for a woman to be both smart and beautiful, and to use her talents in the capacity she desires.

I don't feel strong most the time--hardly ever, actually. Part of that is the pressure from you--a lot of it is. But part of that is because I expect too much of myself. I want, so badly, to not fall pressure to human--or "girly"--emotions. In my eyes, those emotions make me weak.

I want to know I'm strong, and not depend on you for it. I want to know it's okay to express emotion, be it sadness, joy, love, depression. I want to feel safe in that.

I want to feel confident in who I am. Comfortable.

And see, the thing is, I am. It's you who is not. It's you who is not comfortable with me embracing myself. It's you who is not comfortable with my own empowerment. My own joy, and inner piece. Because to you, the only way I can truly have that inner piece is to fit into the mold.

Again, I repeat: I'm done.

I was done trying to fit into that mold a long time ago, but now I'm done allowing it to control my emotions and make me feel like a lesser person. I'm done feeling worthless. I want to break away.

I will break away. I will fly, and I will be real with myself. I will be okay with your disapproval, because not only have I approved of myself, but I have let in the love of others who also approve.

I am a woman of worth.

No Longer Yours,
Jen

#LikeAGirl
#InternationalWomensDay

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Greatness of Flaws

Before I learned I had to be a paying member wasn't cool enough to attend one of the writing sessions I was going to attend in Denver last week, I was tasked with writing an essay titled The Greatness of Flaws. Naturally, when I found out I couldn't attend the meeting, part of me was relieved to not have to write the piece.

Then my mind got stuck in it and I couldn't stop thinking about it and what I would write if I could go. The problem was, I couldn't think of anything worthy or noble to say about the greatness of flaws. Nothing.

And of course, because that troubled me, I decided to write a post on that topic, and try to articulate the best I could how I really feel about the greatness of flaws.

So here's this:

First, I will talk about my own flaws. My distortions. My ugliness. Because I see no greatness in my flaws. Almighty Heaven and Earth, life is hard, and finding my strengths right now seems impossible, and seeing my flaws as "great" is even more impossible. My flaws weaken me, make living my life even harder. Some would call an open, deep-feeling, and empathetic heart a strength. It can be, for sure. 

But recently, in me I see it as nothing but a flaw. Things are raw and painful—things that never were before. I feel so much. And I could swear up and down that my throbbing heart emits vibes of pulsing energy, making me wonder how every person within range doesn’t feel them, doesn’t get knocked down by them the same way I feel knocked below the earth. The emotions trample me, keep me downtrodden. My heart swells with love, ache, longing, beauty, joy, sorry, hopelessness—all of it. And I want to share it. I want to act on it.

Even when these emotions aren’t trampling me and instead lifting and empowering me—helping me move forward in beautiful ways—I still ask myself, How can there be greatness in such a flaw? Where is the greatness in loving so deeply when it scars so permanently?

Then there are flaws in others. Why is it that I will pick out the flaws in myself before I notice the strengths, yet in others, I see their strengths first? Also, other people's flaws--how can those be flaws? Flaws in others are what make the world beautiful and diverse. Really, the flaws in others aren’t flaws at all, but simply attributes that make individuals individual. 

To say there are flaws is to say there is a perfect measurement. 

And to say there is a perfect measurement is to say we are all failures. 

What is perfect then, and who measures it?

There is no perfect, and therefore no flaws (right?). Those, that society would have us view as flaws, are attributes.

So if the flaws in others are merely attributes, why are mine flaws? And what makes them great, if nothing more than to provide a meaningful essay topic?

Ugh. I suppose this is where I fail. This is where I end it then: unable to articulate greatness in flaws, unable to write a breakthrough piece that would help one me see their my flaws as attributes. 

Because, in my mind, I’m a dirty, and perhaps unworthy, exception to the rule.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Laws of Nature


I miss writing. But since starting my full-time job, brain cells are hard to come by at night. So I'll count this blog post as my writing time tonight. I just wanted to put a beautiful thought out there I heard/read today. I came across this little excerpt from Nikos Kazantazakis while at an afternoon appointment, and whether or not one believes in his philosophies is beside the point; no matter your beliefs, this parable speaks truth. And mostly, it applies so much to what I'm going through in my life right now.

Patience. It's never come easily to me (thanks for the impatience, Dad). It's one thing I'm being tested on constantly right now, and one thing I'm trying to learn so I can move to the next stage of my life (I don't have very much patience while trying to get through this trial of patience).

In all seriousness, though, I've had to mostly learn how to have patience with myself. And then I read this today:

"I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, in vain, I tried to help it with my breath. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand. 
"That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm. 
"I sat on a rock to absorb this thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way." 
-Nikos Kazantazakis

Lately, the word "obey" has been a hard one for me to chew on. Obedience. It leaves me with such a negative impression of being dominated over. Being subservient. This abhorrence for the term has been only a recent thing for me, given some of the discoveries and realities I've been waiting through.

But it doesn't have to be negative. I initially shuddered from the word when this was read to me today, but I stopped my train of thought and told myself obedience doesn't have to be a bad thing. Not when it comes to obeying the ways of nature, the natural unfolding of our development.

We will have our time, to "[fly] in the rays of a beautiful sun"--to spread our wings. But we can't force our wings to spread before it's time, and especially under the warmth of a false sun.

Yes, that was just an Ooh Child reference, too. I'm full of great sources.

The Five Stairsteps - Ooh Child: the song that can magically make me cry lately.