Happiness … isn’t ALWAYS a lot like sorrow…. July 3, 2013
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Diary
I’ve ignored this blog for a long time. I’ve not written anything much for a long time, privately or publicly. Bits and pieces mostly, here and there. Nothing I’ve found worthy of ”serious” blogging.
I could be lazy but I don’t think that’s it. What I think is that this blog, for a very long time, has been a place I come to sort myself out. In doing so I found that some people wanted that from me … my writing helped in some way. I know it helped me in many ways.
I wish I could say that was my plan all along … helping people, sharing. It wasn’t. That was accidental. Accidental, selfish ….. and honest. I didn’t want sympathy (I never want that) and I didn’t want accolades really. What was there to applaud? My sadness? My confusion? I did want to share my photographs and the funny thing about that is my photos somehow get intertwined with my emotions. They are my emotions in one dimension. (are photographs one-dimensional? I don’t even know)
But then I stopped coming here, and even writing, because I needed some distance between what I have become and what I was when I started this writing. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not ashamed of me. But I needed a line of demarcation between the sadness, the heartbreak, the confusion, the anger. Part of me also kind of hates this whole “coming of age” thing … the genre…in writing. But, that is what I do in some respects ~ or all of them ~ and all I can do to separate myself from that particular grind is to be as honest as I know how to be.
I was compared in my writing seminar a couple of years ago to Joyce Carol Oates. Now, most ppl would be thrilled by that but it wasn’t a compliment. They compared me to her book, The Widow’s Story, which I think she may have regretted writing. In any case, they said maybe I was going too far. It was just a personal journal, not a thing that was publishable and might be too much to put out there. I didn’t expect to publish it. And yes, it’s a journal of sorts. I ignored that critique for the most part. I heard it, I thought about it. It didn’t matter to me in the end. The funny thing was they loved my writing. They FELT it, they cried, they looked at me with a strange sort of amazement and fascination. They acknowledged my talent. They just weren’t very comfortable with it, or with me. Why should they be? Neither was I.
I didn’t stop writing because of that. I stopped writing because I didn’t want to. I didn’t know where to start again, after I had passed through that particular emotional portal. I didn’t start out as a writer of happy things for the most part. I tried to come to a place that was perhaps “happier” or where I at least could learn and accept what was happening. I didn’t always succeed but sometimes I came close.
Now I find myself HERE in this place where I need to write about other things. Take myself somewhere else, push into something that isn’t so self-centered or miserable. It was hard enough to figure out how to do that in my day to day life, let alone my writing. That’s my challenge now. The next post I publish here will be about happiness. But maybe not the way some people expect me to find it.
OUR STORY May 8, 2013
OUR STORY. This is a link to my dear friend Duane’s blog … he operates an organic/herbal/market garden/permaculture farm in Georgia. He has shared much with me, helped me greatly with my own health & spirituality & is a valuable, learned member of the organic community. I encourage everyone to check out his blogs and, if you’re in the Atlanta area, to visit the Funny Farm. You can take classes there in a variety of subjects such as herbalism, organic gardening & permaculture.
The Warp February 1, 2013
I wrote this tonight on Tumblr …. I didn’t think it would end up being a piece like this but it did.
I don’t have it in me to turn it into a real blog post at this point. My standards for this blog and the pieces I choose to put here need more from me than this although this is important too. tumblr has been a great place for me to go and do some things without the pressure of the standards I’ve set for my wordpress blog.
Here’s the link if any of my readers & friends who keep up with this blog would like to see it:
Warp: a series of yarns extended lengthwise in a loom and crossed by the weft. b : foundation, base
You Get What You Need… January 8, 2013
As I teach, so shall I learn….
Yesterday wasn’t a good day with my horse. It wasn’t what anyone would call a horrible day or even a really bad day but I ended up having to face some issues that aren’t pleasant to face. I may (or may not) write about that someday soon. Tonight I need to write this because for some reason realizing what I’m going to write put me in tears and I’m not sure why except that when that happens to me, it’s generally because I’m learning something I’ve resisted far too long. In my discouragement and confusion, this comes through to me and it matters.
In spite of a bad day riding yesterday, and my resulting feelings of discouragement, I woke up this morning and studied and thought and gathered my negative emotions together and put them away. I decided to work with Callie (my halflinger mare) on something I’ve been avoiding and while I did study and gain some insight before I went down to the barn, I knew this time I would have to rely on my own knowledge and my own deeper understanding of my horse. I took the tools and the knowledge I’ve been studying with me (Parelli Natural Horsemanship) but I also took my own deeper understanding, my gut feelings, and my own common sense. I grew up with horses…in spite of wanting to be a good student of horsemanship at this time in my life, I think I was putting aside the wealth of knowledge I’ve gathered over all those years. I was resisting my own gut, my own heart; all these things I know, deep down. I wasn’t trusting myself and I guess that also meant I wasn’t allowing myself to trust my mare.
We worked on what I wanted to work on and accomplished it then we went into the paddock where the bad day riding happened yesterday. She had not yet had her breakfast but she went with me quietly and willingly and we walked together toward the place where the thing happened. (I should mention here that I didn’t get thrown off or even fall off and neither me nor my horse were hurt yesterday) What I realized is that my “fearless” horse has some fear issues occasionally and this was a place where she showed them to me. (It should also be noted that I knew this yesterday but I chose to ignore it.)
There’s a large expanse of white snow in this new huge paddock … just stretching out toward the fence and then the road and away from her barn and her buddies and as we walked, I listened. My horse doesn’t blow up or run away or do any of the things most horses in my life have done when they were fearful. What I heard was her blowing through her nose … a horse’s way of expressing uncertainty…and I felt her hesitancy to a certain extent…head up, ears forward, eyes watching. I felt her caution and she showed it to me with every muscle in her body. But still she followed me and I focused on one thing and that was showing her it was OK. This was safe, she was with me and it was safe and nothing would happen to us. Nothing did happen to us and when she relaxed, we made our way back to the huge fallen tree which I plan to keep using for a mounting block and eventually ask her to start jumping. I “squeezed” her between the large live tree and the fallen tree without me…she went without issue or hesitation. In my mind, we were going to work on lining her up with the fallen tree and then possibly me standing up on it and asking her to just stand there quietly. I wouldn’t mount her but I would put my hands on her back and in her mane, etc…all the movements I would do if I were preparing to mount her to ride. Build confidence and trust…for both of us.
What happened next I didn’t expect and it wasn’t part of my plan or goal for that day. Same as yesterday only different. She turned to face the fallen tree (I was standing with the lead line in my hands on the other side) and bumped her front legs into it, then tried to lift a foot up as if to go over it. It was too tall there for that, and she was too close to “hop” over it safely but I could sense that she was sort of collecting herself up to do so; to hop over this huge tree in order to be closer to me even though I hadn’t asked her to do so. I wasn’t in a safe place for either of us so I stopped her and then led her down to a lower point …and to a place where she could, if she chose, go around it instead of over it. I don’t know what I was thinking at this time but I knew that down the road this concept is something we have coming up in our lessons and also that I want to keep encouraging her natural desire & ability to jump. I had enough of a feeling that she was trying to get TO me and even though I wasn’t asking, that was going to be OK and I was going to see how she handled it and what she needed or wanted to do.
Callie and our log
She didn’t go around the tree. She went over the tree and she did so to put herself next to me again. At that moment, in spite of what we’d been thru yesterday and then that morning; a lesson that wasn’t exactly pleasant for her but was necessary, and a walk where she’d started out feeling uncertain and a little fearful… she showed me heart.
I feel now that the way I need to see what she showed me was this, that what she was “telling” me was: I might not be good at or confident enough to do what you’re asking me to do right now (line up with this log and let you climb on my back) but I’m going to show you THIS … I’m going to show you what I CAN do and what makes me special. I’m going to show you that I would rather be over there on that side of this huge log, standing safely next to you, instead of over here on this side by myself. And I will get over this obstacle in order to be there, next to you, where I want to be. You don’t have to ask me … I want to do this. I will scrape and bump my legs in order to get over this obstacle and stand next to you because next to you feels better than over here by myself. I’ve been uncertain and I don’t have any confidence in this task you’ve been asking me to do but I have confidence in YOU.
Now maybe I’m making all this up in my head in order to make myself feel better but that doesn’t really matter all that much to me. What matters is what happened and, whether or not we really know what a horse thinks or experiences, one thing is certain. She wanted to be with me (I didn’t ask her to be) and she would walk through the proverbial fire to do so ON HER OWN. Her decision. Her desire. Her need. Her request. As much as some people might believe that you don’t allow that in a horse, if you squash it completely or ignore it, you’re going to lose something remarkable.
The gifts we are given need to be recognized. I did not focus on the thing she did NOT do that I was asking … I accepted that she changed her mind because she was uncertain, fearful, lacking confidence and what she NEEDED was to come over that tree and stand next to me where there was praise and safety and confidence. She reminded me of something I shouldn’t forget … that my confidence matters to us both and from there, greater things will come. We are not failures and we are not hopeless. She showed me that obstacles are not her greatest concern nor should they be mine. She reminded me that things rarely ever happen in straight lines; that while we’re told that it’s THIS way from point A to point B, that’s not always true and it doesn’t always have to happen that way.
You might not always get what you want but sometimes, you get what you need. Yes, I know. That’s a song. An annoying cliché even, and I don’t mind that one bit right now at all. I got what I needed and that is something to celebrate. A horse with a heart as big as any I’ve ever known gave me a reason to keep trying. Giving up or settling for less doesn’t seem to be in our future.
My halflinger mare, Callie with little Cletus who has since found a new home
Alchemy & Alcohol November 3, 2012
“In the space between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; its the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future.” Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
I’ve been planning to create another section (or I think they call it a “page”) on my blog to start chronicling my journey into herbalism. Today is not that day although I do plan on working that out this winter. I used to work with herbs a lot when I lived out west and have this year rediscovered it and am becoming more serious about it every day.
But today I took a new step in the journey of sobriety; a road I’ve been traveling for six years. I worked with a bottle of Everclear grain alcohol because I needed it to make a certain type of medicine. In this case, I tinctured fresh feverfew that I grew in my garden in the grain alcohol because it’s the best way to do it.
After working with it, I felt OK. Kind of strong, kind of capable, kind of like it was something I overcame.
I had the vague feeling that the action of working with the alcohol… turning the biggest monkey that has ever clung to my back it into herbal medicine … was transmuting that weakness into something else. Strength maybe. Into medicine for the body but also a kind of spiritual or emotional alchemy for me. I don’t expect many to understand that… that’s my own thing and my own way of trying to make sense of it. I felt I was taking hold of this demon I have lived with, will always live with, and I stuffed it into a medicine bottle. I took that power and harnessed it into those jars of medicine. I owned that power. I claimed it for something good.
I listened to some music, I went outside and took care of my animals. I walked around in the wind and rain and cold and when I came back inside I started feeling not so great. I guess the emotional storm was more than I expected, more than I could have imagined really. I felt lonely and cold and tired. I kept crying. Not only crying but actually crying hard at certain points. I didn’t want to do anything else although I had much to get done. I didn’t want to function and I didn’t want to cope or work or be anything really. I guess this is that feeling … that place where you stand there and you cope, you feel, you experience instead of drink. I faced that fork in the road one more time, head on, and I rejected the easy way out more clearly, more absolutely, more intently than I ever have before. I didn’t AVOID drinking. I actively REJECTED it. I did not reach for a glass. I did not lose myself and put that bottle to my mouth. I did not sink into the easy way out even though there it was… in my hands. I was alone. No one would know.
I was alone all day, all night, all the next day. I didn’t want anyone really or anything but I didn’t really know. I didn’t want to crawl inside myself but there wasn’t anywhere else to crawl with this and I didn’t want to go to a meeting and discuss it. There was no danger of me drinking the grain alcohol. If there was, I wouldn’t have worked with it. So I don’t really know what this was. Why I feel this particular way. The aftermath of the tension I suppose, or something hidden that I’ve not looked at yet.
It’s like anything else with alcoholism and sobriety. You don’t feel good about it really. You feel humble and grateful but good isn’t something I ever use to describe living with it. You just feel different from most people and alone a lot and in the end it’s just you and another sober day. There isn’t any epiphany or any “ah-ha” moment. Just another day of not doing it in a long string of days of not doing the thing that could kill you if you did it. You maybe want it to be a bigger thing sometimes or some joyful thing and sometimes it is…some moments I guess. But mostly, it’s just not that.
Some alcoholics will not understand what I’m trying to say and some will look at me and think “she isn’t going to make it with that attitude.” No one has the right to decide if I will or will not make it but me. I’m not going to force joy into something that feels like crawling through glass. I can only say that the simplest things so many take for granted are weird milestones for me. The milestone is the knowledge that I can work with a bottle of alcohol and make medicine and not end up so drunk I don’t remember anything I did. I didn’t NOT drink the Everclear because it would taste like shit. I know it tastes like shit and is unpleasant but I would have absolutely drank it six years ago if that’s all there was to drink. It had nothing to do with how good whatever it was tasted.
It’s my own battle in the end, and one I share with so many people but sometimes, it’s just mine even though I know it doesn’t have to be. I have to remember that I do it for myself, that no one needs to or should be expected to congratulate me or cheer lead me. That can’t be the reason I do it after all. That can’t be the reason I make the choice every day. I make the choice every day because doing otherwise would kill me one way or another. It would hurt other people in my life, that’s true. But it would kill me.
So today is a bad day emotionally and probably a good day in the grand scheme of things. Another layer off the onion that is my alcoholism. Another milestone and a day where I faced it head on and it didn’t get me. I guess crying and working the way I worked today was my way of processing whatever the fuck this lesson is. I worked like a robot … I did many things I’ve needed to do and have been looking forward to doing but I did them on auto-pilot. Moved through them … kept moving, kept making myself do this or do that; accomplish this, cross this thing off the list. I used the work today as a crutch to get through another day without an alcohol crutch. I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that and if there is, there’s more good than bad in it and that’s how it is.
I did it alone … and I felt relatively empty and strange and sad and disillusioned and mean. I guess that most days, after six years, I can live my life without being completely aware that I am what I am. I can “forget” that I’m an alcoholic; that I had those problems and I have to choose everyday not to have those problems again. I can forget that I was a shitty person who ran away from everything and hurt everyone and did embarrassing things and created a life of self-imposed disaster. That I went to jail (twice), that I lost my right to drive, that I ended relationship after relationship because drinking was more important to me than people. So maybe I’m not done forgiving myself or feeling sorry for myself or regretting myself. You can’t really recover until you do those things and the funny thing is, I thought I had done that. But maybe all I’ve been doing is just trying to forget instead of forgive.
So I need today, especially, to remember H.A.L.T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. The perfect storm of what can bring someone like me … an alcoholic or other addict … back down to the bottle. So I have to feed myself, try to understand why I’m angry or lonely or tired. Care for myself and get through one more day. And another. And then another day. And so on until something else kills me. But it won’t be alcohol that kills me. That much I can promise myself. If a day like today leaves me feeling shitty and sorry and wondering what the fuck is up, well then…that’s another step in the direction of knowing who I am and forgiving who I was.
I wrote this bit below on Tumblr ~ I suppose I could go all writer fancy and work it into my earlier piece but I don’t feel up to that.
I tinctured some fresh feverfew today, one of the most effective herbs for migraines and headaches. I wanted this tincture in my herbal arsenal. I wanted to use the most effective menstruum. But I’m an alcoholic and sober six years.
So I had a rough day. Still having it. I guess I opened a door that maybe I shouldn’t have opened, or maybe I feel shitty because I needed to open it and see what was in there. I honestly don’t know.
I don’t have any answers about why I feel so bad. Nothing happened. I made the herbal tinctures but there was a lot of emotionalism, a lot of tension. I used up the whole bottle of Everclear, which had been around for a few days, unopened, and I never even thought about it too much since I had someone buy it for me and I put it on the table with my other herbal supplies. But then I opened it up and started using it and something happened.
I didn’t drink it. I didn’t want to drink it. I wasn’t in any danger of drinking it. Not after six years sober. But it’s the very first time I’ve handled any alcohol, except for the occasional beer or wine I’ve used for cooking, in six years. Liquor… bourbon…was always what I drank when I wanted to get seriously drunk. But I’d drink anything, the way most alcoholics will drink anything.
It all went well, I used it up. I threw away the bottle and I have four lovely jars of herbs tincturing for medicine. It wasn’t stupid of me to do this…to go there and know I can handle working with it occasionally. It’s a good thing to know that.
But I feel very bad tonight. I guess just another layer peeled off the scar that is my past and knowing that I’m not that person anymore sometimes just doesn’t help that much.
I’m sober. I made good medicine. I know I can handle a bottle of alcohol alone in my house without losing every sober day for the past six years. I’ll be happy tomorrow about it, maybe. But tonight? I’m not all that happy for some reason I cannot even begin to explain.
I am what I am. A person that has to worry about shit that most people take for granted. I am a person that opens a bottle of alcohol and has to remember that I’m not like a lot of other people. That’s it’s a risk and a danger and even though I’m strong enough, that’s all there, every day of my life and always will be.
It’s two days later now or maybe three? I’m not really sure and I don’t feel any better really. Something’s wrong and I don’t know how to work through it yet. I’m just withdrawing and I don’t really know why and I don’t want to talk to anyone and I just want to be left alone. I don’t really believe anyone cares about it or understands it except other alcoholics and I don’t want to be with other alcoholics right now. I’m functioning and that’s all that matters right now and all I can do. I’ll go to a meeting if it gets worse but I can’t bear to get beat up by them and I don’t want to hear their stories either. I’m incredibly fragile right now and it’s not in the way of wanting a drink. It’s in some other way and I don’t want to tell anyone about it anymore. I’m telling all I can tell here in the only way I know how right now. I don’t really have the strength to be rejected right now. I simply do not. I’m so capable of so much but I know my limits. I’ve been taught what they are, where they are and what is and is not OK for me. I give no one the power to hurt me at this point in time.
Hidden by Sunshine July 15, 2012
It’s an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. That’s always been a tug of war for me. Jodie Foster
I was out picking snap peas and it came to me that my blog has been depressing for quite some time. My first instinct on waking up this morning was to delete the previous post and replace it with something useful and uplifting. Ah yes, the feeling of responsibility to make everyone feel better even while I do not. What is that anyway? Love? Or conditioning? I don’t even know.
Then it occurred to me that this is part of me but not all of me and I guess I save the good parts for conversations and daily activities. Granted, I have few conversations lately and my daily activities are always the same so, somehow, boring in many ways. The truth is, I live to garden right now or it’s how I live and that’s worth sharing. I live in my little torn up house with animals and plants for company. If it’s a good day, I listen to music. If it’s not I mostly don’t and I don’t watch TV anymore either. My world is this acre of land and I find myself shunning society because the society I want does not want me. I’m becoming like Thoreau and I am living in silence with only the whisperings of plants and spirits and my own soul.
For a year my life has been… so difficult. It went from a beautiful summer to this sucking vortex of confusion. I’ve made mistake after mistake after mistake. So I pound it all out, I try to transform it into something I can understand and I try, even in the sadness of the posts, to infuse it with words and pictures … with some sort of creativity and wistful beauty…something else besides what it just is. I don’t know if I succeed.
It all comes from my heart and I can look at it and learn. But then another lesson comes and I have to learn that one and suddenly, these pages are full of sad lessons and little patched up pieces of me and I don’t always feel great about showing them.
I do know that I teach myself, through this writing and the photographs, the lessons I must learn. The very act of taking the photos and writing it all down is hopeful and healing and it proves, to me at least, that I am moving and breathing and functioning and I am creating something in the midst of the rubble. I am living my life the only way I know how. This year has left me wounded and I’ve yet to transform that into scars. I hope that I don’t end up with scars. I don’t want scars but I suppose they are inevitable. I hope they don’t cover me, in a puckered criss-crossed proof of pain. I hope they are smooth and small and render me more attractive … like a sexy little scar over an eyebrow or one that blends into the freckles on my shoulders and can be hidden by sunshine.
I get up every day and I do something. I grow things; I make beautiful pictures of the beautiful things in my life, including myself. I share what I write and what I grow and how I do it. I talk to my dog, I feed my flock of chickens, I nurse my potbellied pig through his old age. I share the only thing I know how to do to keep going with my family in the form of bags of vegetables I grow and eggs I collect. I ride in the truck with my mother and we talk. I make herbal teas, I drink good coffee in the garden after the day’s work has been done, and I eat the things I’ve grown and I care for myself in small ways. I still want other people to care for me in small ways but I can settle for this too. It’s all I know to do.
I have stopped reaching out to some people that I love because it’s not worth it anymore. I say…if they want me they’ll find me but they don’t. It’s not because I haven’t tried…I have but I guess I did it all wrong. That hurts me deep, deep down but what can I do? There’s nothing I can do but own my mistakes and try to forgive myself for them. That doesn’t feel nice. That feels some days like … loneliness.
There are times I want to buy into the whole “fuck you, I don’t care” mentality that so many people say is the way you should do it. Actually, I have done it once here recently and it shocks me to know that “fuck you, I don’t care” can be true. I don’t like that. The hurt from that thing is over…it literally does not hurt me anymore and I literally do not care anymore. What I care about now is that I have become a “fuck you, I don’t care” kind of person. That’s where the disappointment lives ~ that I am capable of that. But cruelty will do that to you. There are mean people in this world, people that are liars and users and fucked up beyond what I ever thought was possible. You can’t save those people, because all they know how to do is drag you down with them and then they break you and they stand on you pointing at how crazy YOU must be. Bewildering for sure ~ an absolute shock to the system.
This also means I have stopped searching for something in people that does not exist and that I’m quicker to see the places where I should not be and where I am not wanted. I know the place where “want” really means “use”. I hate seeing that but I can see the soul-sucking vampires a little more clearly now. I see them coming now I think. That they exist scares the fuck out me, it really does. I really was not aware of it. I thought everyone had something else besides that to recommend them and that you could coax it out. Turns out, sometimes you can’t. I don’t think I even want to try something like that anymore. Does this make me bad? I don’t know. It makes me scared, that much I do know.
I can also see the nothing that is there now. I can see the lack of care and concern and the apathy. That has never been part of me…I am not apathetic and a lack of care and concern is not what I am. It’s what some other people are and if it’s my fault, then so be it. I try to fix it. If it’s not my fault then there is nothing I can do about it. But I still cry into the nothing-ness until it truly becomes nothing, if it ever does.
And so it goes. My childish hopes for fixing things, finding something good after the fire to believe in remain but it rarely ever happens and when there is something that you have believed would always be good…in one way, if not other…when you realize that something is just nothing…those are the worst lessons and I don’t care to learn anymore of those but I guess it’s not up to me.
Love myself? Yes, I do. If not, I’d be in bed crying more days than not and I’d be drunk on the other days. I’m neither of those things. There are people I still wish loved me back and that is also something I realize I can do nothing about at this time. So please excuse me while I give my pug a bath and try to get through one more day believing that it’s worth it.