Zombies

“I should add…that just as it is important to avoid trivial conversation, it is important to avoid bad company. By bad company I do not refer only to people who are vicious and destructive; one should avoid their company because their orbit is poisonous and depressing. I mean also the company of zombies, of people whose soul is dead, although their body is alive, of people whose thoughts and conversation are trivial; who chatter instead of talk, and who assert cliché opinions instead of thinking.”

-Erich Fromm

Darkness

They were givers of hugs and holders of hands. When I was baby, when I became an adult.

One of the things that hit me hard after Grandma died was visiting her home and sitting on her couch and all I could think was how she would sit there next to me and hold my hand. If she was there. Which she wasn’t and wouldn’t ever be again.

And now, 4 years later, he’s gone, too.

I’m having waves of realization over how much of a constant, an anchor, they were in my life.

My other (adopted) grandparents have demonstrated a preference for their biological families. So, yeah, I don’t really feel bad for having a preference for my biological grandparents, thanks. The last time I saw the mother of my adopted father, she didn’t know who I was. Thanks for caring so much, grandmother.

Speaking of my adopted father, it becomes difficult to push away the hatred in my grief. He did so much behind the scenes to prevent me from spending time with my dad and his family. All those years, lost. Anger at my mother for letting her husband do that to me. Anger at my dad for leaving me and letting all those years of heartache invade my life. Anger at myself for choosing a life so far away and letting my adult years slip by so quickly, my life too full of debts and commitments to get away often enough.

Rage. Guilt. Sorrow. Grief.

Meanwhile, the world is exploding — not just with bombs and gunfire, but with fear, racism, reactionary diatribes, and more. Humanity just lost someone who loved people and gave back and it is difficult to see hope when it feels like everything beautiful is collapsing.

I know it isn’t. I see people embracing refugees with different skin and beliefs than them and I’m reminded that there’s always hope.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” 
– JRR Tolkien

New Voices

I’ve spent many years trying to turn down some of the voices of my childhood. You know how it is: a situation approaches and all you can think is what your mother would say if she was there to lecture.

There were positive voices over the years, don’t get me wrong. But, the loudest, as is often the case, were the worst of them all.

It has been 17 years since I lived in my home country, and about 13 of those years have been living away from family. Much of that negativity has dissipated, fading into the background. Unfortunately, the voices I was listening to instead over the past 16 years have turned out to be just as toxic.

It is startling to me to realize how loud these influences are. While I don’t wish to dwell on them, I find I must untie all of the strings that pull on my mind — and untie them one by one. Tricky little buggers still get tangled and have to be unwound over and over…

I am trying to replace those voices with ones that are positive. This becomes confusing because I thought I was doing that before, and only jumped from one pile of shit to another. I’d rather not repeat the process again. But, I don’t want to hold back out of fear, either.

Perhaps, what is most needed is to strengthen my own voice first of all.

“Sometimes it is good fortune to be abandoned. While we are looking after our losses, our selves may slip back inside.”
-Ameni Rozsa

Anger

I am in my anger phase of grief and processing. It feels cathartic to be this pissed off, to vent with friends, to rage against injustice and abuses, to sift through the past 16.5 years, to rip up paper and throw away mementos that are associated with it all. But, though this sort of anger is therapeutic, I do not want it to settle into a form of bitter-anger. So, then, I wonder if I should try to stop the anger…

I ran across this quote today:

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
– Maya Angelou

Exactly. Thank you, Maya. I can be angry. I need to be angry. This anger spurs me towards action, towards health, towards closure. This is a process, not a destination.

Alone x2

“What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it—like a secret vice!”

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“I must slough off people—too many connections, too many people, too many entanglements. But it will take all the time just saying no. I don’t help them, they don’t help me. It’s just bitter useless waste of lives, time, soul—everything.”

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

Benedictio

“Benedictio: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you—beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

-Edward Abbey

Process

The reality is setting in. Or something like that.

I’m so very angry right now. And sad. Still sad. Even when I was happy this winter, it was fringed with sadness. But, now, much of the happy has been replaced by the anger.

As I mentioned before, I thought this was simply a couple of paths veering off from one another. I expected a bit of fallout, knowing there would be those who’d be unhappy with my choices. There would be some ripping and tearing as we pulled apart. Sure. All mend-able, though.

Now I’m finding years of history dredged up and called into question. So much that was not what it seemed. It’s wiping me out, dizzying in scale. I find myself often with a racing, pounding heart — hands shaking — stomach roiling — tears welling.

I’ve gone from dealing merely with the upheaval that comes with re-examining ones own beliefs, to now questioning the last 16 years of experiences and relationships. How often was I lied to?

Yet again in my life, trust has been smashed by those I put the most confidence in. My father left when I was little. My mom manipulated and criticized. My first step-father abused us. There were many instances of wacky religious leaders over the course of my childhood.

I think there was almost exactly a year’s gap in between leaving the abusive step dad behind and joining the church ministry team that would be my spiritual/emotional home for the following 15.5 years. Looking back, that year-long gap was a happy time, despite the parental divorce and turmoil and crap that went down. We had some fun, my mom and baby sister and I. There was much growth in my life.

Here I sit, nearly 16 years later, waiting for the coming Spring. I’m feeling a bit like my February back yard: haggard, beat up, and shit on. But, Spring is around that proverbial corner. Like back in ’98-’99, I have this chance to recreate myself, to grow.

I have to remind myself of this potential of new life. I have to face the betrayal and the grief and the anger and the fear…and then put it behind me so I can learn and grow.

(Honestly, though… I really  just want to throw things right now. And eat french fries.)

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

More Turbulence

I’ve recently found out that someone I’ve relied upon for years is a liar. Yes, yes… I know, many of us are. But, in this case, I’m not talking about standard, garden variety white lies– such as hiding the three doughnuts you ate for breakfast yesterday. This is full-fledged, relational-betrayal, multi-person-damage-causing deception.

I haven’t merely put my trust in this person… I’ve followed their advice for big and little decisions, interwoven most aspects of my life with theirs, worked side by side for over a decade, ran to their defense, fought to gain their approval, believed what they’ve told me…

For the last several months (year? or more?), I have just thought that our paths were slowly diverging. We’d walked together, but that was simply changing as life evolved and beliefs shifted in different directions. We could still be friends, though. Right?

As the fog I’ve emerged from has continued to clear, I’ve gone from just seeing the fork in the road ahead to looking behind and seeing unexpected carnage littering the path behind. How was I so blind? Why was I so sheltered from the violence? Is any of it my fault? Could I have stopped it?

I have moved from a place of elation at my freedom, to some sort of grieving. Anger, anxiety, depression. I should really be writing to help clear my head, but I’d rather just hide away in books.