Christmas Group Therapy

  

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The Struggle

The picture below is tonight’s entry in a daily journal of sorts I try keep up with on my phone. I keep most of my entries short and simple. Nothing like the dissertations contained within this blog. There are often no epiphanies or anything eye-opening or ground-breaking. Usually just a few words about my day. About how I’m feeling. Maybe a picture I took that day and/or a picture that captures my day or mood. My hurt. My struggle(s). I often have nothing much to say (hence my laziness RE: keeping up with this blog) because my days are usually pretty empty, uneventful, and not filled with much activity or social interaction. Succinctly: I often don’t have much to write home about. A good many of my entries (in an app called Day One; Apple iOS link: https://appsto.re/us/ESRiz.isimply) just say, “SSDD.” 

When my dad was alive and I would ask him how his day was, 95% of the time he would answer with, “SSDD.” – an acronym for Same Shit, Different Day. That’s how I feel most days. And I think I now have a greater understanding that that’s probably how my dad often felt too. My dad was blunt (but never intentionally mean or spiteful about it) and he was not one to sugarcoat the truth. Which I didn’t mind. I probably even loved it though I don’t think I came to truly appreciate and admire that trait in him until after he passed and I became old enough to understand the value of true honesty and realized I am much the same way. He was just being honest. Ditto. I am so much like my father. My mom says that to me a lot: “You’re so much like your father.” I know for sure that she says it out of spite and resentment for all the perceived wrongs done/being done to her (by my dad and myself). I know she means it as an insult. She doesn’t know I always take it as a compliment and I try not to beam and try to stifle a smile in front of her after she says that to me, grateful that I take after my father more than I take after my mother (in more ways than one). Thank god.

 

Loose Woman 

They say I’m a beast. 
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.

They say I’m a bitch.
Or witch. I’ve claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I’m a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I’m in.

I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success–
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I’m Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I’m la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among the men.
I can’t be bothered what they think.
¡Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the calvary.
In other words, I’m anarchy.

I’m an aim-well,
shoot-sharp,
sharp-tongued,
sharp-thinking,
fast-speaking,
foot-loose,
loose-tongued,
let-loose,
woman-on-the-loose
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I’m Bitch. Beast. Macha.
¡Wáchale!
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.


by Sandra Cisneros

Decisions, Decisions

I know I haven’t written or posted for quite some time. Lots of shit has been hitting (and continues to hit) the fan and I’m not sure if I just don’t want to write or if I’m unable to/incapable at this time. I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to write again, at least as far as blogs go. Writing in some form or fashion will always be a part of my life because it’s in my soul and it is a treasured coping skill…but my question to you, angel faces, is if you think I should keep/you would like me to keep the blog (and the accompanying Facebook page) up/going or just abandon ship? Any opinions are welcome (and appreciated; I’ve been struggling with this decision for a while).

Page-iversary

I suppose I should have written and posted this yesterday (on the 21st) but for some reason, I had it in my mind that I started this blog on November 22nd. Call me Derpina (but don’t call me Maybe). Any-who, I have nothing profound to say other than that I think I’m going to give myself a gold star for keeping up with something for a year. It doesn’t happen often. Yes, I’ve been slacking on posting of late but there have been some extenuating circumstances, life events, and brain farts that have pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line in my brain/life and have demanded more of my attention over the last few months.

If you have been following me from the beginning, thank you. If you started following me halfway through, thank you. If you follow me at all, thank you. If you’ve laughed with me, thank you. If you’ve cried with me, thank you. If you holla’d out to tha heavens saying, “Yo! Dis bitch needs Jesus!”…thank you? If you’ve ever read a single word I’ve written, thank you. If you’ve shared my page, thank you. If you read this, thank you.

40 Questions Everyone is Afraid to Ask

Judge-a-man-by-his

I came across this article (http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/04/13/40-questions-everyone-is-afraid-to-ask/) quite some time ago and filed it away in my “Blog Ideas” file. I need to write right now and I don’t want to write about what I NEED to write about…my feelings. But I need to write. So I’m going to answer some questions that, apparently, people are afraid to ask/answer. I’m not afraid of much (unless I see a spider), so I’m all:

Challenge_accepted

[cracks knuckles] Let’s get this show on the road…

1: If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today? Probably. Because I don’t really feel like I have any regrets or unfinished business…nothing that I’d be sad I didn’t finish or say before I left.

2: What worries you most about the future? If I’ll ever make it out okay like everyone keeps promising me. “It will get better.” “It won’t last forever.” And if I do get “better”, would I have to worry about falling down again?

3: Are you holding onto something that you need to let go of? Who isn’t? That’s probably a whole blog post in and of itself. I think I have a lot of things I just need closure on rather than letting things go I’m holding onto because of bitterness or resentment.

4: If you had a friend who spoke to you the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? 0.01 seconds.

5: What is the difference between living and existing? Existing is just breathing and not taking chances or doing anything with your life. Living is taking chances, trying, failing, succeeding. Living is embracing life, loving it, taking advantage of any and all opportunities available to you…doing/trying things without regrets.

6: If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake? Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? For me personally, I’m not all that afraid to make mistakes. It frustrates me, of course. But I make them again and again hoping that maybe I was wrong or the situation was wrong the first time around and I prefer to give people and things the benefit of the doubt…every time. Insanity? Perhaps. Am I scared to do it/repeat it? No, I don’t think so…because I keep doing it.

7: What impact do you want to leave on the world? What I want to leave versus what I have the capability to leave are two completely different things. At the present moment, I would like to leave the people who know me with the memory of someone who fought a good fight, could light up a room with her smile, and could dish it as good as she could take it, even if she lost the fight in the end.

8: Is it out of reach? Or have you just not stretched yourself far enough? I think it’s out of reach, but if I were honest with myself (and you), I would admit that I probably just haven’t stretched myself far enough; I already feel like I’m stretched thin.

9: In the haste of our daily lives, what are we not seeing? The little things. Small acts of kindness. The lyrics of a good song. The beauty of some people you wouldn’t think to look twice at.

10: If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t? It’s all about the experience isn’t it? You can’t have a rainbow without rain. It takes a night to make it dawn. What would life be like if we only liked and experienced joy and pleasant things? We wouldn’t have stories and experiences to share with others. I think a purely joyful and happy life would be rather boring. Can you go through your own list of the things you don’t like and tell me why you continue to do/like them? I didn’t think so. The heart has reasons that reason does not understand. 

11: If you looked into the heart of your enemy, what do you think you would find that is different from what is in your own heart? Empathy. I feel I have it and they don’t.

12: Life is too short to tolerate ___________ ? Bullshit.

13: If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose? Good question. I think I have more to go through before I can achieve what I ultimately what to achieve…and I don’t even know what it is that I want to achieve.

14: How do you know whether it’s time to continue holding on or time to let go? I’ve had experiences with both. And I knew every time when I needed to be patient and hold on a bit longer and I knew when it was time to let go. It may have taken me some time, but I eventually held on to what I felt was important and I let go (or tried to) of what wasn’t, including my own life. I’ve let that go three times so far. I’ve also held on more times than I’ve tried to let go.

15: Why do you matter? I have no idea and/or I haven’t figured that out yet. Using Einstein’s theory: You are living. You occupy space. You have a mass. You matter.

16: How many of your friends would you trust with your life? Seven.

17: Are you happy with yourself? No.

18: What is one fear that you know is holding you back? The fear of getting better knowing there is a possibility it may not be permanent and I could find myself back here.

19: What do you do with the majority of your money? After paying bills, I use it to buy/make/send warm fuzzies to people…friends and strangers.

20: Based on your current daily actions and routines, where would you expect to be in five years? If I continue the path I am on? I will be in the same place, if not someplace worse, in five years.

21: Would you rather your child be less attractive and extremely intelligent or extremely attractive and less intelligent? Less attractive and extremely intelligent.

22: What have you done that you are not proud of? Many things. Most of them involve opening my mouth when I shouldn’t have.

23: Other than money, what else have you gained from your current job? I am not currently working, so I have gained very little. Well…I take that back…I’ve gained more of an understanding of myself, how I think, why I think and feel the way I do. A lot of self-exploration…because I’ve had the time to explore.

24: What do you sometimes pretend you understand that you really don’t? Myself.

25: What’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months? To just try. Get a job. Get back on track with my life, even if I’m ten years late.

26: When did you not speak when you should have? Now. And many times before.

27: What are you procrastinating on right at this moment? Living.

28: In what way are you your own worst enemy? I listen to myself (and believe myself) more than Jiminy Cricket.

29: What do you wish you didn’t know? How cruel the world and people can really be.

30: What have you given up on? Myself.

31: What big lesson could people learn from your life? Wow. Umm…I’m going to say (on a very small scale) that people could learn from me that music is a better drug than any other street drug or alcoholic beverage available. It can save you. It can kill you. It can give you hope. It can help you grieve. It can do all those things (and more) if you let it.

32: What mistakes do you make over and over again? Trusting people.

33: What do you do when you love someone who doesn’t love you back? Try my best to accept it for what it is and try to distance myself in a way that doesn’t break me.

34: What has been draining your happiness? My frustration with myself.

35: What’s the #1 thing you intend to accomplish before you die? To experience real unconditional love without strings attached or judgments…from anybody, not necessarily romantically.

36: What has the little voice inside your head been saying lately? “Just give up and let go.”

37: What is worse than death? A life of unhappiness and pain.

38: How short would your life have to be before you would start living differently today? After thirty years, I still haven’t started to live differently…so while I’m not afraid to answer this question, I just honestly don’t know the answer. I’m not discontent with how I’m living, only frustrated. Yes, I know I can change it, but while I would love to get better, I have no desire or driving force that makes me want to just jump out of bed and live my life differently right now…if that makes any sense at all.

39: What do you do when other people don’t like you? Flip them off and walk away.

40: What’s one easy way to waste a life? To not care about anything or anyone.

[youtube http://youtu.be/1TffpkE2GU4]

An eye for an eye…just not TEN eyes for an eye.

an-eye-for-an-eye

As always, I never know where to start, especially with “deep” topics. How I act (and react to others) has been brought to my attention recently (not in a bad/mean/accusatory way) and it led me to a thought-provoking discussion with me, myself, and I. I try to act and live my life, for the most part, by the Golden Rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. I wasn’t always this way and I’m not this way all the time but my general rule of thumb is that if you are nice and respectful to me, I will be nice and respectful to you. BUT…what happens when you/I stop being nice and respectful? Will you/I retaliate and cease being kind? Or will you/I continue to be kind, no matter how you/I treat me/you? That’s what this post will be about.

I was given a link to a broadcast from talk radio called The Good Show and that is what sparked this particular blog post and the preceding discussion with myself. The specific broadcast I listened to is called “One Good Deed Deserves Another” and you can listen to it here: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/dec/14/one-good-deed-deserves-another/ (and even though I’m going to summarize it for you, I encourage you to listen to it at least once).

There is a computer programming geek named Robert Axelrod. He first started exploring altruism during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 wherein he wondered if Cuba would stop building bombs, we would stop building bombs and thus, everything turns out fine. But what if Cuba didn’t stop building bombs and we did? That’s a problem, isn’t it? Next, insert the theory behind the Prisoner’s Dilemma: “The prisoner’s dilemma is a canonical example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so.” The example used in the particular broadcast I listened to went something like this: Two robbers, Joe and Lucky, are standing outside the First National Bank and are picked up by the police because they had received a tip that Joe and Lucky were about to rob the bank. The officers put Joe and Lucky in two separate interrogation rooms and made Lucky an offer: “We have enough on you to lock you up for 6 months. If you rat out Joe and Joe says nothing, you will go free and Joe gets 10 years in prison. If the reverse happens, you say nothing and Joe rats you out, he goes free and you get 10 years in prison. If you both rat each other out, you will both receive 5 years in prison. If neither of you says anything, you both get 6 months in jail.” What would you do? I, along with the broadcasters of the show, would throw the other person under the bus…IF I didn’t know them. If I knew them…as in they are a friend or in my social circle…I’d be more inclined to “compromise”, as in not say anything and hope my friend wouldn’t either. Then we do our time and get out, on good terms (hopefully), because no one threw someone under the bus.

Based on this idea, Robert Axelrod created a computer programming “tournament” and to enter, you had to submit a computer program that essentially plays out the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It would be a round robin tournament and each program would play every other program 200 times to see which strategy would work…to “be nice” or to “defect” (which, from here on out in this post, means to throw someone under the bus/screw another person over). Only one program could “win”/prosper/survive.

One program was called Massive Retaliatory Strike: On the first move made, it cooperates (is “nice”) but as soon as the other program it’s playing stops cooperating, the Massive Retaliatory Strike program would retaliate from there on out, no exceptions, even if the first program went back to being “nice”. In other words, once MRS’s trust was broken, it would never trust you again…game over.

Another program was called Tester: This program would see what the other program was like first, starting out by being mean and when the other program retaliated, Tester would back off and “change its tune” and cooperate for a while…”How much can I get away with?”…essentially testing the other program’s limits.

When Tester played Massive Retaliatory Strike 200 times, Tester always defected (screwed the other person over) and MRS would never cooperate again and both programs failed.

The assumption was made that the winning program would contain thousands of lines of code. But the program that actually “won”/survived/prospered only contained two lines of code. TWO. That program was called Tit For Tat. The first line of code was “be nice”…as in the program will never be nasty FIRST. The second line of code does what the program’s opponent did in its previous move. So, for example, if Program 1 cooperates, Tit For Tat cooperates. If Program 1 defects, Tit For Tat defects…but JUST that one time unless Tit For Tat is further provoked. Unlike MRS, where it will continue to retaliate no matter how “nice” the first program is, Tit For Tat will always go back to being nice on its next move, no matter if its last move was a retaliatory move or not. Are you still with me? Most people fall somewhere in the middle of being “always good” (the “Jesus Program”) and “always bad” (the “Lucifer Program”). Tit For Tat starts by cooperating, as does Jesus (this is just an example, y’all…don’t get your religion panties in a knot) and then keeps cooperating because the Jesus Program is always good, therefore Tit For Tat is always good. If Tit For Tat plays the Lucifer Program, there’s no chance of ever cooperating, thus Tit For Tat will never be nice/cooperate, even if it makes the first move (remember, Tit For Tat’s first line of code was “be nice”) because the Lucifer Program will never be good/cooperate. Everyone stays “even”. I hope you’re still with me.

(There is another great example in the radio broadcast I linked earlier involving the British and German armed forces during World War I. In order to keep your attention, I will refrain from summarizing it here.)

Tit For Tat is upright and forgiving, but not retaliatory. Not 100% turn the other cheek but an eye for an eye…just not TEN eyes for an eye. Tit For Tat echoes…it echoes good and bad. If you were to modify the second line of code for Tit For Tat, the retaliation line, to not always retaliate…maybe only to retaliate 10% of the time…you would get a “generous” Tit For Tat. So sometimes you/the program reacts with an eye for an eye approach…and sometimes you turn the other cheek. For example: When someone punches you, you are naturally inclined to punch them back. But in some situations, is it not best to just turn and walk away? What it comes down to is choice. You have a choice to retaliate and you have a choice to walk away. Choosing what to do in each situation is the hard part.

So that was all a summary of what was said in the radio broadcast. Now we’ll get to why this means anything to me and why I was asked to listen to it. It is not a news flash that my mom and I feed off of each other’s emotions and I tend to adopt a “Tit For Tat” attitude in that if my mom is nice, I’m more inclined to be nice in return. However, if she is invalidating and disrespectful, while I won’t necessarily be that way in return (“retaliate”), I’m no longer inclined to be outwardly nice or make the extra effort to do so. I don’t go out of my way to be rude or disrespectful, but I won’t go out of my way to be nice either. However, when it’s time to “play” again, I will start off by being nice until she again gives me a reason not to be. Just like in the Tit For Tat program, my first “line of code” is to be nice and I will usually go back to being nice until I am “provoked” again. Does that make sense? It gets tricky and nothing is absolute. I sometimes find myself bending over backwards to be nice and courteous in an effort to just get her to be nice and loving in return. (And if you must know, that method doesn’t usually work out too well for me; it often leaves me spent and makes me question why I continue to do it/continue to try, already knowing what the end result will be.) This goes further than my mother of course. It can be as simple as driving on the freeway. If you’re nice and let me merge properly without being a jackass or tailing me because you’re mad that I “cut in line”, I’m more inclined to let you merge when your lane ends due to construction. However, if you cut me off because you don’t have the patience to be in the lane you’re in, and your new lane is ending due to construction or merging, FUCK YOU if you think I’m going to let you merge in front of me. Then I will go back to my first line of code…being nice…so if I see you on the freeway tomorrow, I will again let you merge in front of me unless you give me a reason not to. Okay maybe using my driving examples wasn’t a good idea…

I love hard and with all that I have. But once bitten, twice shy. I sometimes worry about “smothering” my friends with affection and warm fuzzies because I don’t want them to think I’m clingy and while I’m by no means trying to buy their love and affection or even get them to reciprocate warm fuzzies, I would wager that that is subconsciously part of my motivation…to love them so that they will love me in return. But in all honesty, I love to love and you don’t have to be my BFF in order for me to mail you a warm fuzzy just to make you smile. I enjoy knowing that I simply made someone’s day/moment, no matter how I know them or how close they are to me and my heart. Remember: my first line of code is “be nice”.

I feel like I’m rambling now and not making sense. Fuck it…half of my blog is me rambling…

In my “Vulnerability” blog post, I said that usually, if I get burned in a friendship, I won’t write off that friendship and discard it immediately just because I got upset…I would just tweak it to avoid getting hurt again…which may lead you to “retaliate” or punish me because you got hurt as well or you’re just that mad at whatever transpired. In such a case, the door is usually open for you to return, but I will not stand here and hold it open. I have made the effort, said my peace, and the ball is now in your court. The decision is now yours as to whether or not you want to continue the relationship, continue to retaliate, or do some of your own tweaking. I will not sit here and retaliate against you nor will I throw you under the bus…BUT…I may no longer go out of my way to be nice either. That doesn’t mean I will be rude or go out of my way to be mean, but I will probably no longer extend my hand willingly to you…unless you ask for it. I will no longer actively seek you out once the ball is in your court. If I have said my peace (reverting back to my first line of code…”being nice”) and you want to continue our relationship, you will have to come to me. I have “stated my case” and I am at peace with whatever you choose to do…to stay or walk away. I will not hold grudges or continue to be hurt over a hiccup in our relationship once the hiccup is done and over with. In other words, I will not retaliate against you or hurt you just because you hurt me. I feel like I’m making no sense because none of this is absolute. If you hurt me (and for the purposes of this post, I mean emotionally hurt me versus physically hurt me), I may very well end the relationship because I’m not very good at forgiving, depending on the severity of the hurt and what happened. (For example, a small miscommunication or misunderstanding is easily forgivable…breaking my trust or hurting me severely in some form is not.) But just because I (or you) end our relationship does not make me want to go and divulge everything you’ve ever confided in me nor does it make me want to go and defame your character. That is not how I like to roll. I may vent about the situation/relationship to my therapist and I may perhaps write about it here but in either case, you are “protected” because everything I say to my therapist is confidential and I write this anonymously. With the exception of really only one past relationship, I cannot think of an instance where I would want to waste my time and my reader’s time bashing someone. It’s not worth it and it’s not the purpose of this blog. It’s over and done with. Hopefully I can resolve what I need to resolve using my coping skills and talking with my therapist and be fine. I don’t need to waste more time on someone who apparently wasn’t worth my time and effort to begin with. I will again go back to my first line of code…being nice.

I believe all things happen for a reason and everyone that comes into your life is either a lesson or a blessing. And you know what? Some lessons are hard to learn…but we have to learn them. You are responsible for and can actively choose how you behave, who you let in and out of your life, how you treat them, and what you say and don’t say. If someone defects and retaliates against you, you have a choice to retaliate in return, with an eye for an eye attitude…and you have a choice to turn the other cheek and walk away. For me personally, each situation and relationship is different, so what I would do will never be absolute (as in I will not always retaliate nor will I always walk away). Every person, situation, and relationship is unique and should be treated as such…and I do my best to do so objectively.

When all is said and done, I think what this all comes down to is choice. You have a choice…control…over what you say and how you behave. You have a choice in how to REact. You do NOT, however, have a choice…control…over what someone else says or how someone else behaves.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9F5xcpjDMU]

It matters.

20130610-020956.jpg I think I’ve mentioned starfish at least once or twice in this chaotic mess that is my blog…but I don’t think I’ve ever said why. As for why I chose this particular moment in time to share why, it’s been on my mind. A lot. I’ve done a lot of talking to a particular friend lately and the subject of “little things matter” has come up. A lot.

The Starfish Story has been told and retold, but the original story (“The Star Thrower”) was written by a man named Loren Eisley. I adopted this story/message about eight-ish years ago. I don’t even remember how it came to cross my path, how I found it, or where/when I heard it. But when I did, it took root within my soul and still continues to do so to this day. I consider the Starfish Story to be…my mantra?…my “rule book”?…the driving force behind all that I do? Regardless of what you want to call it, the story has great meaning to me and its message is one I not only want to exude, it’s one I want to share/spread. I often use the story to illustrate/explain why the little things matter and/or how one simple action/decision can make a difference. Yes, sometimes it’s a bad/hurtful difference, but the way I share/talk/use it focuses on a good/positive difference. I also use the story to thank people who have “thrown me back into the ocean”…explaining to them how/why whatever they did or said mattered…if only to this one…if only to me.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring…all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo F. Bascalgia

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

I’ve written many times about the impact of words and how a simple act of caring could mean the world to someone, even if you never knew it…even if you didn’t think what you did/said mattered. If you take anything away from this, take with you the knowledge that you not only have the ability to make a difference, big or small…you have probably already made a difference for someone whether you know it or not.

So…without further ado…the Starfish Story:

A young girl was walking along a beach after the tide had gone out, leaving thousands of starfish strewn up and down the shoreline. When she came to each starfish, she picked it up and threw it back into the ocean.

She had been doing this for some time when an old man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this?” The girl answered, “If I don’t throw them back into the water, they’ll die.” “Look at this beach!” the man said. “There are miles and miles of beach. You can’t possibly save all these starfish!”

The girl smiled politely at the man, then bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “I made a difference for that one.”

 

No post of mine is ever complete without a song: “Starfish” by Sara Groves