The Consolation of Words (Its’ second appearance)

When there’s nothing to write

Don’t stop dropping

letter after letter, digit after digit

Trade punctuation for desperation;

Reinvent observation by this

silent conversation.

What is writing but one thought strung

together by straight lines and curved ones

sitting on the page’s bench, or

swinging below like restless legs,

or rising high above like a child stands

on the subway seat to look outside

Those letters, like beads, strung on

necklaces called words,

living and breathing and stirring

the air with sound waves,

each one a ringing symbol,

each character laden with

all the expectations of heavy hearts,

bursting minds, untested emotions

When puzzle-pieced together,

like so many orphaned bits of sound

a cacophony of tongue clicking,

rubbing and lifting off teeth,

creating this symphony we call speech

But what is sound without sight?

Why should we live with one sense deprived?

And sometimes there is just too much sound

and not enough substance…

So we write to give texture to the silence

and fullness to the swarm of empty words

flung into the expanse of the sky

When there is nothing to say,

Don’t stop writing anymore than you

would stop breathing, or praying

or painting, or loving, or believing,

or living.

The Vulnerable and the Broken Fall Head First….But then again we are all broken

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Why is it that the wacky people Fall in Love first?

And why do they fall in Imagedeep,  so deeply and utterly?

This is the story of my life. I keep falling in love even though its mostly not romantic love (happened once), it’s been buddy love, hero worship, or friendship-like obsessions.

I mean please say that the only answer isn’t DESPERATION, because call me gracious if you wish, but I refuse to believe that is the best broadstroke conclusion to my question.

I am, personally, sick to death of being obsessively addictive in my relationships across the board.

I was a goner within days…at the most a couple of weeks of meeting my now husband. He fell for me after we had been dating for almost a year. But I seriously think that was mostly because I embedded myself into his life like a tick (wanted to say bed bug but can’t risk a cheesy pun). If we had been casually dating, forget it, maybe after the wedding…maybe not. Also if he had been aware of all my crazy, while we were dating, we would not be married today. But that is all water under the bridge….

I recently saw a lovely Hindi film that takes place in Las Vegas. A really cute Love story/Buddy love story, which illustrates my point. I won’t give the title so that there is no true spoiler alert.

I mean it just kinda stinks that people like me are greatly at risk to losing their hearts or having them broken.

Can anyone relate to this? Can anyone shed some light on why? Please disagree or give your two cents. I could use some clarity and I’d love anyone’s opinion.

Let Not My Heart be Troubled

Let Not My Heart be Troubled

                                   … trouble will ride me, burn me,

expose me

I’ll rage until I’m spent, then I’ll run from you

 with your layers of fake

False layers of a mask you put on each day,

your makeup

Mascara of dark, wide eyes that do not see,

ears that do not hear

Dusky shadow like your promises that float away

with a puff of wind

Lip gloss that causes each of your lying “yes'”

to sparkle in the muted light

Blush, hiding your lack of shame, its permanent

pretense burned into your skin

And foundation, the great equalizer, washes over

ever nook and crevice

Image

My Neighborhood Small Group Does White Elephant Gift Game

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My Neighborhood Small Group Does White Elephant Gift Game

My relationship to gifting is a little like what you see in this photo…only in my insides. I really dislike receiving gifts, or I have in the past felt like I did. Claiming my codependency has gotten me to step back and reexamine almost everything. I guess the truth is that I don’t like giving gifts that much because I am not naturally generous. HUGE character defect. The concept of gift giving is wonderful and in fact somewhat sacred. If I examine my overkill gifting of my hubby, deep below the surface I find some less than admirable motivations like guilt, pride, competition, control, fear, but don’t worry, love is there as well. I have also unfortunately mistaken some of the above for love in the past. I am ruthlessly trying to bust up the ice around my heart and mind with a more intentional and reflective lifestyle like I applied blunt-shovel force to the ice on my sidewalk last weekend.

Truly Forgettable Episode 10: Beyond Belief

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This is a return to the short story/blog serial that I began in January of 2013. The following link will take you to the post of the first Episode.  https://julieamrivera.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/deja-you-episode-1/

Marian didn’t believe one syllable that fell from his lips. Drake was a liar. He’d lied to her when they  were in school together, pretending that he’d support her project, join her team, only to go behind her back and develop a competitive proposal of his own and a group of his cronies in the department to research it with him. He had been willing to stop at nothing to short of sabotage to gain the grant.

That’s what this was. She smiled. Sabotage! Or at the very least, deflection. What was her best move. She was spoiling for a fight, but she had utterly failed at securing allies from the lab. Perhaps, though, she hadn’t really tried hard enough. Another attempt was in order.

“Drake take me to the lab again.”

She saw the deep sigh lift his still bare chest and lower it. “Ok.”

“Oh and Drake,” she began.

“Yes, dear.”

“Let’s stop by my specialist’s office on the way. Dr. Reinsert, was it? You were so eager for me to see him yesterday. Maybe he can explain my condition to me in a slightly more medical manner. Your bumblings almost made me think you invented this disease just now to throw me off the scent.”

“Dr. Reinsert is your shrink, love. Dr. Klaus is your primary care doctor at this point.”

“Klaus, that lying rat. He spent all of ten minutes telling me there was essentially nothing the matter with me and my present situation except you. When I get my hands on his throat…”

“They’ll lock you up for good this time. How’d you like to be married to a cellmate for the next 40 years or even better spend them in a padded room.”

“I thought he was just some ER doctor. And why did he lie to me?”

“Under the circumstances, since you were in shock and acting belligerent, your parents, the doctor and I decided to wait to spring your disorder on you until you were capable of coping.”

“Well consider me capable. And call that lying… and tell him to expect us.”

Drake bowed. “Your wish is my command principessa.”

“Huh. I think you mean evil witch.”

He laughed in glee. “You said it, dear, not me.”

*******************************************

The kind somewhat sympathetic Dr. Klaus looked far too comfortable with the situation than she had counted on. She had really expected the entire ruse to be dismembered before her eyes. Instead she was given free reign over her file.

It seemed as though the two Drs. in the room would like her to believe she had a newly discovered form of Korsakoff Syndrome, only it hadn’t been the result of heavy drinking. Her body simply stopped producing Thiamine on its own years ago.

“They have begun to refer to your condition as Prowse Syndrome after the Cornish doctor who first diagnosed a young girl in his care.”

“So she is one of the suicides?”

Dr. Klaus slowly nodded his head. “The girl lasted two episodes, each with a time loss of less than a year, and wrote a note explaining she couldn’t live with her condition. But Marian, it should be noted that she did have a history of depression.”

Marian threw her body off the examination bench where she’d been skimming her chart. “And the other victim of this mysterious disorder, did he also suffer from depression?”

“No, Marian. That young man from Texas was in the military. He took his life when he was issued an honorable discharge shortly after his first episode. He wouldn’t consider a life out of the service. His doctors and therapists all agree it was a stubborn act of defiance.”

She began pacing from one side of the room to the other. Dr. Klaus took a seat seeming to give her space to think up more questions.

“Treatment? Thiamine injections? What has been done?”

Dr. Klaus cleared his throat. “Marian we’ve tried drugs used for Korsakoff Syndrome, as well as large doses of Thiamine. There has been no change in your condition. In fact, after one experimental shot, you slipped into a coma for two months. Afterwards, you signed an advance directive refusing any pharmaceutical  treatment three years ago.”

“Let me guess, Drake is my patient advocate?”

“Yes, that was your express wish.”

Marian’s laugh flung a wad a spit through the air.

“And were you present long enough to see the concealed weapon pointed in my direction as I was signing this document?”

Dr. Klaus got up. “Marian listen, believe it or not, you have always shown a lot of affection for Drake. You’ve allowed him to steady you throughout your time with this disease. You all but begged him to continue your research during your episodes. Between realizing your dream and taking care of you, he has no life of his own.  Isn’t there any small part of you that can believe that loving you has changed him into a better man? That he is capable of attaining and maintaining your respect, trust, and love? Because he has. You have.”

Before he could get another word in, Marion blurted, “So you’re saying that after my previous episodes I regained lost memory.”

“Yes. And as I’m sure Drake has told you, it has always been short term loss: two months, six months, nine months. Never more than a year.  This ultimately has us stumped.”

“You think that I am paranoid don’t you. That I have slipped into the delusional phase. So what I am making this whole thing up about how I hate Drake. He mentioned a padded room. You plan on getting me admitted?”

For a moment she thought she saw a small smile in his eyes. His expression quickly returned to his expressionless default.

“No Marian, we have no plans of the kind. You are perfectly competent and functioning. Although you have showed signs of frustration, you have never displayed any abnormal behavior now or during any of your episodes. I actually believe you to be in a state of shock. I am hopeful that you will come to accept things when you are ready, and that your memory will return to you when your mind is ready.”

He stopped. Then started. “I would suggest a brief visit to Dr. Reinsert. He can help you much better than I can with coping strategies during this time.”

Seeing this as her best chance of gaining their trust, Marian put on her most submissive face and said, “Yes, doctor. I’ll have Drake arrange a visit.”

***********************************************

Marian shook her head. She was surrounded by highly trained manipulators of the covert persuasion. After another acting engagement at her shrink’s office, she was finally headed to the lab.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough for one day, Mara?” Drake cooed.

“No, I am fine. All these doctors must be slipping me muscle relaxers because I feel numb all over. No, I’d like to talk with Janice and maybe Francis too.”

It’s always the quiet one’s, she thought.

Drake rocked his head to the right to gaze at her. “I don’t think you’re crazy. This has really been a kick to my system too, you know. And believe it or not, I do love you. I’m still not sure why, but what I feel for you hasn’t changed, although my tactics for getting your attention sure have.”

She snorted. “Likely story,” she muttered under her breath.

“What was that?”

“Nothing Casanova. I’m just in a foul mood. It’s not every day a girl finds out she can’t remember the best years of her young life. In fact, I need some time to process all this. Maybe my parents will reconsider…”

He stopped her in her place grabbing her left shoulder. “Don’t leave me Marian. I’ll change. Learn to be the man you want, the man you need. Don’t walk away yet. Give me a chance to win you again.”

The hope in his eyes was enough to melt her cold bitter heart. Well, that was until she remembered the phone call she’d overheard. I must be the dumbest scientist to walk the earth. They really hooked me these guys. They got my parents, they got me, they own Drake, Klaus and Reinsert are their agents. This is absolutely crazy. That’s got to be it. I was right. They expect me to go crazy. 

At that moment Marian decided she couldn’t lose it. And she wasn’t going to die either. She had to learn to do something even Drake knew she had no skill for: playing nice. If she could alter her behavior to a kinder, softer Marian, maybe they would see her as someone they could control. That would at least keep her alive.

Or so she hoped.

Were I a Lily of the Valley

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I’ve been ground and pulverized into powder

They’ve used me to make food for many

I’ve been eaten, consumed by choice, my own

They’ve torn chunks off me like I was a sourdough loaf

I cannot see beyond the list I’ve been boiled down to

I cannot see them for I have no sense of gaze

No ability to know them as I move too fast toward no one

There is no sky, no chance, no opportunity, but I dream

I dream of a round hole for my equally round peg

I dream of the sea,  to have such deepness of soul

The powerful swaying tides of rushing force

And the submission to it-

Like closing your eyes and letting the current float you away

I dream of the horizon, the space between sky and sea

The ecstasy of hues and tones that live, move and have being

I dream of that hovering canvas these eyes call blue 

That drifting collection of air and gasses, heaven’s concoction

The ever standing still segment of the Universe’s chemical cocktail 

The harbinger of doom, death, and Vitamin D-

I imagine being like the sea in its seething and surging occupation

No one questions its presence until it has tsunamied into land’s place

I imagine remaining as constant and contained as the sky above

whose self isn’t mentioned unless its carrying boom and spark

I imagine bridging life to life as the intermediary line 

Joins day to night and depths to expanse-

It may not even exist beyond our eyes conception of its presence

So unlike God whose being cannot be pointed at with a finger

But He occupies all space and time and cannot be factored out

He won’t be negated by a satellite’s view of earth

Nor can an understanding of gravity and a spinning axis explain

If I could get a glimpse of who I am from space,

maybe I would understand my own place

In a universe hidden from our eyes beyond a squint and point

Or displayed to us by faith in a satellite’s exposure

But the great black expanse has no idea who I am

The lactose path to infinity has no care for my form

My beauty goes unnoticed by the blue and red flamed gasses

Lighting our night blue when gray puffs and city razzle allow-

Ships sink when in storms they lose the horizon’s level plain

Planes fall to sea when that bridge hides from their instruments

Something so ingrained in our visual vocabulary that fails to, in reality, exist

Yet I am here and you walk right by like I am the imagined one

He fills up all molecules of time and space but you say He is distant

You say He who sees me from outside of all the bios cannot truly be

If you ever really see me, maybe you will see Him instead

I stand,  my loveliness on display, I simply am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note to a friend about the Ugly Mess Inside me

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Dear friend,

I appreciate your blog post’s curious and insightful narrative through a well worn bit of Scripture. I am a bit jealous of your ability to be free enough to question and allow the text to question you…I am still so sick, although I am told not to think of myself as a victim and don’t want the moniker either, that I fear the questioning. When questioned about anything of substance, I feel intense feelings of angst as if under the pressure of a car compactor, all sided pressing in on me trying to flatten  me into a smashed mess. Thanks to my new path of recovery, this is changing. I answer a few more questions everyday with snapping or shrinking into a panic attack.

I also feel this way when I am drawn into a controversial conversation. One of my fears is that I won’t be able to have any opinion of anything, because I see the futility of both sides of most issues, disagree with each position, at the same time agreeing with some of each or at least deeply feeling the emotions and thought processes, imagining the life experiences which might have led proponents on each side to their opinions, beliefs, et cetera. Yet I am not willing to take a side. I am deathly afraid when questioned by those on either side, any side. Its more than the people pleasing approval addiction baby of the family defender of the universe  wreck of a girl;  it’s a much deeper dysfunctional rejection of people’s opinions. It’s not apathy as much as its distrust.

We’re all so biased. We can’t help it. Perhaps its a good thing; we were not created in a vacuum, nor allowed by our creator to grow up in one. All the stones put in our paths shaped our reason as much as our emotions. Will I always be so opinionless? I don’t want to continue to be stubborn; I am tired of being a fighter. I fought so long and hard since I was 2 years old. For the sake of my marriage, as a gift to myself, to advocate for the sanity of my spouse to honor my Maker, I am done with all my useless fighting. It was always about control. Now as I relinquish the fight for a control I never really had over anything, I realize my best representation of me is terror. I am so scared of everything, every little thing.

I am coming to a place where I am accepting that God sees it as good for all of us who fit into any particular group to be at the same time diverse in our ideas, beliefs, opinions because all community needs the uncomfortable challenge of differences of opinion. All community needs to be filled with dissenters, not mere individuals who stir the pot, but rather every member must be honest about the truth that the Holy Spirit has revealed to them which influences their opinions and beliefs. And we need to start loving hard. Loving those who have hurt us. Fiercely love those whose comments and decisions have hurt those we love. Boundaries do not have to be destroyed. We can love from afar. We can be humble enough to admit we might be wrong about everything, and if so, beg the mercy of Christ for holding fast to what was against his nature, will or plan. His mercy already covers us.

I am also beginning also to have a distinct dislike for the word happy. I think I must be seriously jaded because as much as I believe God longs for us to be free from our past abuse, addictions, bonds, failures, bad choices, past, lack of ability to follow God’s plans for us, rebellious desires to free ourselves from God’s boundaries, narcissistic tendencies, and our refusal of and to LOVE, I do not believe God would ever be an American. He, I strongly believe, would not say that we are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. He would say “Come to Me! I’ll pleasure you in a way that makes every other good/bad thing stink like feces.”  I do not believe in finding true or lasting satisfaction in life.  Just a few brief moments here and there. And even strung all together on a necklace, these moments will never be enough.

12 Steps teaches there is freedom in letting go. I fear I have let too much go. Do I have a personality anymore with only one belief: Only God can heal, make whole, restore, give life, love faithfully and selflessly and unconditionally. Do I still have a personhood  when I have no opinions about anything important? I will stop trying to control what others believe as was my addiction; it was based on my insecurity of belonging, my needing to be accepted and included. The more I listen to others without expressing my agreement or disagreement, the more authentic and human I become. However, what I fear is that nothing lies below the listening. Beliefs I have clung to and battled for since childhood are as lifeless and full of holes as a body leveled by buckshots.

I used to fear everyone’s disagreement; I used to fear other’s disapproval. Now I just fear apathy. I fear where my recovery is taking me.  For I am not sure I believe in anything anymore, other than the italicized sentence above.  Newfound humility forces me to accept that any human could at any point be in error, especially me. Why make a decision one way or another? The better question is:  How can I?

Learning to Breathe

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They never taught me to breathe

I just kind of opened my mouth and sucked

No one told me how to best use my nose

I didn’t know to question my lack of smell

The odor must be heavy and long and thick

Or I won’t know it is even there to be smelled

I wonder at the tastes that I have missed

But that’s of minimal concern compared to a gas leak

I did complain about the echo in my ears when I ran

The pressure that lingered like weights on my eardrums

Exertion of physical form left my head in a vibrating cloud

With all the sports I played, an ever present malady

But it was shrugged over by coaches and doctors alike

At 25 years old, a doctor finally had a useful piece of advice

He taught me how to hold my nose closed and blow out

It was offered flippantly, a “didn’t you learn this in preschool”

I am grateful for it, because the pressure abates slightly

I have also become adept at swallowing to pop my drums

But still breath couldn’t get passed an invisible nose wall

Until one month ago when I started yoga with a dear friend

I find myself being taught how to breathe

I like it as much as I like exercising without muscle cramps

It is surprising that I settled for dog-pant grasping gulps

When I could have had sweet seamless oxygen infusions

I think I feel confident enough to buy breathe right strips

And try to breathe through my nose when I sleep

I might even be confident enough to find out that

I really can smell most anything because maybe

I just need to be taught

Cockroaches and Codependence

There are few things I really hate. Cockroaches. I do hate them. And I really dislike their slower, larger, uglier cousins, what we here in Noo Yawk call “waterbugs.”  Sounds innocuous right? Wrong. They may be more lumbering compared to their scurrying light hating (though this too is a myth) death defying primos, but they are even more disagreeable to me.  I rarely scream. Only when I am having a particularly great ride on a roller coaster. Unlike our previous neighbors, I do not scream in intimate…ah, situations. I do not scream in fear during horror movies, which I despise with a ferocity that surpasses the subject of this rant…ah, post.  I scream in utter disgust and terror when I see these roach/beetle/insects. The worst of it is, what I hate the most is the idea of killing them. I refuse to kill them, in fact. That is my husband’s job. Another thing I dislike…being the petulant meek wife who can’t take care of herself.

But lately, I have found something within myself that is uglier than my arch nemesis.  I have always had an addictive personality, laced and tempered by my self-righteous arrogance that refused to allow any substance to control me, and thankfully the Supernatural hand that holds my life in his/her own.  However, from first grade onward, after I slayed the dragon of literacy and finally allowed myself to give books a chance, I have been hooked. Since the age of two point five, when I found my best friend, I have been floating on the drug induced cloud of codependency. I have been addicted to people, obsessed with their attention, needy for their compliance to my control, and unable to break from the heady sub-existence of  not exactly living in reality at all times. I have often wondered why most of my childhood memories have not held strong in my mind. Now, I realize that too much space was filled up with all the fictional characters and storyline I’d read and those which I myself had created. The other side of my brain was filled to the rim with the sick, grim determination to play narrator in the lives of the people whom God had placed in my path. Rather than just love them and let them be free, I have attempted to subtly control their lives and decisions, as if I held strings to the universe like the puppeteer scene in the musical Chicago.

So, now I find myself slowly plodding toward recovery. I am not sure what precisely was the catalyst for my new status in life. Obviously this post won’t make it to Facebook or Twitter, at least not until I am ready and willing to make amends to all those who I have hurt. I have also begun losing the visceral “gut” fat around my middle, almost as though the discipline required for the eating schedules and exercise regimens have given me a skeleton key  to reorienting the rest of my life. I know I have had tools for the last 3 years since living in NYC and attending our church (EMO Health/Spirituality), and I have been confronted with the truth of my sickness since meeting and marrying my husband, the one person who has never taken my bull****, but somehow tough-loved me anyway.  The counseling that I had previously attended before the marriage, taught me the word codependent, but didn’t allow me to personalize the sickness, the addiction as my own.  I should even me more anonymous than this blog will allow me to be, but if I can’t come clean for you all, I have no right to post anything again.  Feel free to judge me fairly or unfairly as I deserve it. However, know that any emotional backlash will not be personalized. I am done over/inappropriately empathizing with other’s feelings. Be free to feel as you must. I am just going to struggle to be free.

I saw a waterbug in the subway station after a ‘meeting’ I went to last week. My new understanding of support allowed me to shake my head, but not shudder; refuse to sit on the bench, share a few words with the man who was amused by my discomfort something to the extent of, “I just don’t like them.” After a walking away from the bench headquarters of the beast, I doubled back to sit momentarily, before removing my tookus to pace the yellow line again. It is alright. I don’t need to bedfellows with my pretend enemy. I could have killed him just as I could have killed those who timidly sneak into my apartment. The truth is I don’t want to kill that enemy. I would rather be free of the life-controlling real enemy sheathed in its pretty wrapper. I am done “helping” smother anyone in my path. I am done allowing overblown “concern” for others to keep me frozen in time like a wax doll. I will try to go forth and live my own life, even if that means suddenly liking chocolate ice cream and eating beans for the first time in my life. Even if that  means disappointing everyone around me. Even if that means making friends with cockroaches. Well, maybe I best not dive towards extremes.

Marking the Months with Crayons

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I used to mark the months with crayons,

coloring my days with giant X’s filling square boxes

I’d keep each calendar stacked and stored safely away

amid brochures and playbills and recital programs

I used to start counting the year in September

only a quarter Jewish from a grandfather I never met

But instinctively felt that the real New Year’s Eve

was Labor Day, as the last remnants of summer

were whisked away with the smoke from our grill

I used to number my days within a safe paradox

I disliked summer as I kept mostly to myself and dreaded

the enforced exercise/athletic regimen from my mother

So as the social burdens of attending school with other

children were off my shoulders, the positive aspects of

learning and teacher adoring were also out of my grasp

Thankfully I had my books and a few extra hours to read

when I wasn’t floundering on a tennis court or crawling the 100 yd dash

I used to calculate the moments while sitting on the floor of my bedroom

risking my mother’s ire with my anti-chore rebellion’s weekly sit-in

My expert daydreaming skills, both the bane and buttress of my world,

allowed me infinite patience to match my mom’s skill at waiting me out

I used to reckon that seconds were faster than eyeblinks

when I snuck out of bed with my book in the late watches of the night

and devoured chapters at a time until I heard the sound of the garage door

or the flash from my father’s high beams as he pulled into the driveway

I knew I was sunk, even as I extinguished the light and hid in the shadows

What surprised me was not how often he caught me red handed but rather

how often he let me hide there even after he climbed the steps to the kitchen

And I used to treasure those moments suspended in time’s plasma

when I was bold enough to walk right into the kitchen after him and

sit down for a midnight chat before the spell was broken

and I was a little girl again who had to get up in the morning for school.