“You see, we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat, so that we can know who we are. So that we can see, oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away – I rose right where I’d been knocked down. And then that’s how you get to know yourself. You say, hmm, I can get up! I have enough of life in me to make somebody jealous enough to want to knock me down. I have so much courage in me that I have the effrontery, the incredible gall to stand up. That’s it. That’s how you get to know who you are.” — Maya Angelou
I wrote this piece, and posted it, to my private Facebook profile on Feb. 1st, 2016.
Writing about family is tough for me. I’m never sure what’s really gonna come out. Sharing it is difficult, but I think I’m ready now.
I’ve had some memorable concerts. This one’s up there with Voodoo Lounge in ’94.
Rock ‘n’ roll.
~ ~ ~
We had KISS tickets. I think T worked her concert mojo and won the ticket seller’s lottery because she had come out with four seats not only in the same section, but RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. That’s rare.
It was done. We needed to prepare. We headed for the joke/magic shop.
The old dude behind the counter was rather awesome. While I was browsing the rubber chickens, Whoopee cushions, dirty dice, and playing cards, the others were picking out various makeup containers in shades of silver and black. The silver glitter was an afterthought from the old man. He got us. Like attracts like. We took our loot and headed home.
Hungry but too excited to eat. We painted our faces and dressed in our blackest finery. I wore my silver sequin tube top and black vinyl pants. If I had a tail, I don’t remember it. Erik wore the Demon face, Marci had the Starchild, T and I were both Ace. If I’d been a little more sure of my skills, I’d have worn the Cat makeup. No time for regret! But… regret.
Sunset. Time to roll. We filed out to the hoopti, garnering strange looks from the nieghborhood kids. They knew we were odd, but they hadn’t known just how much. They still don’t.
Flying through the darkened streets, tunes blasting, we arrived at the parking garage more or less in character; a state of mind that crystallized when T found herself on the wrong floor. First she was next to us waiting for the elevator, then somehow we were up, and she was one floor below. “Goddammit, Ace!” Then we went down and she was up. I’m still not sure how she pulled that trick off–hell, there was only one elevator on that side.
We were on the right track. Rock n roll, baby.
After extricating ourselves from the garage with much laughter, we head into the venue. Our silver makeup glinted in the light. My sequins made me feel like a disco ball. We bought one concert tee forever known after as “The KISS shirt”. I did a quick change on the escalator. The disco ball was feeling vulnerable showing so much skin.
We find our section and show our tickets to the usher. They call another usher over. They look at the tix again and murmur amongst themselves, casting quick glances at us. They say, “This way,” and we follow. Up, down, up, round and through half a stadium and some parted curtains into… box seats. The swanky seats the rich snots usually sit in. We sit. We look around. We see a sea of Aces and Peters and helluva lot of Genes and Pauls. They look good. We look better. The old man’s brainstorm on the silver glitter was genius.
The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was playing low throughout the place. It was five minutes in before I even registered it. The crowd was getting rowdy. T and I started waving at everyone, cheering them. The crowd got rowdier. The song got louder. We waved more.
And then… “Yeeeeaaaahhhhh! Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
The crowd goes wild!
And then the lights went down.
Showtime. The smoke. The boots. The codpiece. My eyes. Dat bass. The shattered mirror guitar. The sunburst. The swagger and the blood, the synchronized guitar and headbang. Ace’s perpetual slur. The spectacle, indeed. It was everything that had been promised, and it was good.
It was only after we sat sprawled, exhausted, into our seats that we looked up and saw the video cameras filming the crowd, us included.
That was a good night. Hope you enjoyed the view, boys. You’ll never get that again.
When you can dig deep to uncover that stinging level of honesty, people will relate to your authenticity. So stop being scared and write the hard stuff. Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter.
Accept now, before you even start, that some people will hate it. Then again, some will love it. Write for the lovers.
Strip yourself naked, bare your soul, and be brave.
We Can Shut Our Eyes to the Horror in Front of Us, but We Must Never Close Our Hands to a Kin in Need – Johanna Rosberg | TheSeeds4Life.com
What you want for yourself, is what you must try to offer to others. You might take your freedom and rights for granted – but what about theirs? What about your neighbor, or your friend, a man on the street, or the estranged child on the other side of the planet? What can you do for them that you would want them to do for you, if the roles were reversed?
We don’t need the government to change things, and we never have. We don’t need the president to agree with us in order to call a bigot a bigot. Every battle fought in the interest of equality and fairness has been fought without the approval or interest of the government and those in charge. Sure, it’s easier with that seal of approval — and yes, a lot of the hurt and pain we are feeling right now is made so much worse because we started to think we were close to not having to fight quite as hard — but they need that more than we do. They need societal approval more than we do, because they are weak.
Take this into consideration — the absolute worst thing conservatives have ever had to go through, as a movement, was the last eight years of Barack Obama being president. Behold, how rattled they were after merely a few years of having to deal with the abject trauma of sometimes being told they were racist or sexist on Facebook! How it hurt them to have to see people say “Black Lives Matter!” How it broke their little hearts to see women as Ghostbusters! The poor dears! They could barely stand it.
All of this, to them, was so positively unbearable that they completely fell the fuck apart. Their very first test of being slightly uncomfortable, and they decided to burn it all down. They went in for the Alex Jones shit, they wore tricorner hats and cried about how they wanted their country back. Electing Trump was not a show of their collective strength but of their collective weakness in the face of adversity. We don’t fall apart, they do.
“Earlier this summer a friend said they were going to vote for Trump.
I turned bright red, I kid you not. Bright bright red. Even I thought it was funny. They said, ‘I take it you’re a Hillary fan,’ and I said, truthfully, that it wasn’t so much that I was pro-Hillary as I was vehemently anti-Trump. (This has changed: I’ve really had to examine my prejudices against Hillary and question how many of them were instilled by 30 years of media telling me she was evil and corrupt, but that’s another post.)
My friend said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because Trump thinks that women are things, not people, and if he’s elected President he’s going to be the person appointing at least two, up to probably five, Supreme Court justices, and every right women have will get rolled under. If you think, for example, that there are any circumstances ever under which a woman should be able to have an abortion, you should not vote for Trump.’
(I don’t know if I had the clarity of mind at that moment to actually say ‘You in fact need to vote for Clinton if you think women are people,’ because a vote for a third party in a two-party system isn’t a protest vote, it’s taking support away from whichever major party, whether you like it or not, aligns more closely with your values, hopes and expectations of your country. Which is also another post.)”
“As someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety, I know how difficult it can be to admit that you are struggling. I know the crushing feeling of despair that settles into the back of your mind and pushes down on your chest until you feel as though you are drowning underneath a sea of hopelessness. But thanks to blogging, I also know the feeling of release that comes with being able to open your heart and mind and communicate with your peers. There is no shame in admitting that you are vulnerable, depressed, or alone.
Mental illness is claiming far too many lives, and for me personally, it has taken too many wonderful people away from me far too soon. While I adore and admire the hardworking organisations that fight valiantly to save lives, I believe that we as individuals can have a far greater impact. We can start having conversations that might seem uncomfortable, or difficult to broach at first. We can stop turning a blind eye when we see a friend, or stranger struggling. We can give those in need an ear to talk to, or a hand to hold, instead of a cold shoulder and a diverted glance. And maybe in doing so we can stop people from feeling so fucking alone, or depressed, or broken that suicide becomes their only answer.”
For most people I talk to, when I tell them I have an anxiety disorder, they nod their head and tell me it’ll be okay. When I tell them, “I’m sorry, I’m having a bad anxiety day, can we reschedule?” They smile and tell me there’s nothing to worry about and if I just get out of bed, I’ll see that everything is fine. When I don’t want to go bar hopping because I know that alcohol only increases my anxious tendencies I hear, “You’re fine. It’ll be fun. Let off some steam!”
Meanwhile, my heart is pounding so fast that I’m afraid it may be visibly beating out of my chest. But it isn’t. My head isn’t actually spinning in circles. My eyes are not crossed like my blurred vision indicates. My knees aren’t wobbling along with the trembling muscles fighting the urge to collapse. My face isn’t pale and my eyes aren’t bloodshot. No, on the outside, I look like I do every day. My hair is clean. My clothes match. I am awake, alive and breathing fine. So nothing is wrong, right?
That’s the thing about anxiety disorders. We look fine. Of course, we look fine. Our legs aren’t broken. Our tongues haven’t been cut out. We aren’t cut or bruised. Because anxiety is not a physical disability. That however, does not make it any less debilitating.
Anxiety is a complex disorder and it is nothing to simply smile and nod away. You telling us everything is okay not only doesn’t help us, but it hurts us more because nobody seems to take it seriously.
So here are some things I would like you to know about struggling with anxiety.
It is not constant.
There are days when I can make it through without having to stop and breathe or pop a Xanax. I can smile and laugh. I can be productive and go to work, go out to dinner, go see a movie with my friends. And trust me, I know how difficult it is to understand how I can be fine one day and the next, not be able to get out of bed. That’s just how it is.
Which leads me to my next point:
It comes in waves.
Anxiety is a strange beast. It will let me have some fun for a couple of days and I think, hmm maybe it’s finally left me alone. Then a few days go by, and I wake up one morning unable to even think straight because for whatever reason, the beast has once again emerged and there is nothing I can do to stop it from coming because I have woken up to it sitting on my chest smiling as if I’m welcoming it home.
It can be completely paralyzing.
I don’t know if this one applies to everyone, but I know it is a very big piece of my anxiety disorder. When anxiety hits, I am frozen. I can get up and go through the motions of my day but my brain is elsewhere, held captive by whatever “demon” is inhabiting me this time. I cannot think about anything except my inability to think or breathe or feel. Let that one sink in. My brain feels like it is literally paralyzed, as if it is stuck in some kind of limbo with no doors or windows or exits of any kind.
The worst part? I’m completely alone in there.
It can ruin relationships.
Not just romantic relationships, but a relationship of any kind. Friendships and relationships alike can be destroyed by this condition. I have experienced both, and it is the most devastating kind of loss. Why? Because it is not our fault.
It is a disorder that, without the knowledge of how to care for it properly, can explode over time. Eventually, it can become too much for someone else to carry around with them. If they become close enough to you to experience firsthand the effects of your anxiety, it can become too much for them and they might sever the ties for their own mental health. And it hurts like hell.
But I can’t blame them because if I could choose to stay as far away from anxiety as they can, I would in a heartbeat.
It can make trust nearly impossible.
I know it sounds awful to blame trust issues on anxiety but in all honestly, it’s not placing blame, it’s placing responsibility. Anxiety almost never fails to make you think the worst of every situation.
If someone doesn’t answer my text, well then that’s it, they no longer like me. If someone doesn’t text me first, they don’t think about me. Someone is busy? Forget it. They just have better things to do with their time than spend it with me. I sound ridiculous, right? Welcome to the anxiety life. We do not have cookies, sorry, but can I interest you in crippling loneliness at a table for one? No? Didn’t think so.
I do not want this.
. . .
I will overcome it.
But it will take time. Fighting anxiety can be a never-ending battle with frequent slip ups and breakdowns along the way. I am still in the process personally, and it is not easy. At all. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life. And I have been through a lot. Anxiety however, takes the cake.
Note: I tried to keep it short, to not actually use all the article’s text, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut more out. Every word of it needs to be said, and read, by as many people as possible. Understanding is everything.
“So buckle up…I’m about to be politically incorrect.”
I’m rarely in the moment with other people because I’m in my head, over-thinking, worrying, and analyzing. Those same thoughts and worries also prevent me from initiating hangouts and following up on rescheduling plans. I always assume that if someone doesn’t contact me or has to cancel a plan we’ve made that they don’t like me. I take any kind of rejection, real or perceived, incredibly personally. I obsess about what people say and do, analyzing their words and actions for cues to help me figure out what they really think of me.
Of course, this is the same kind of thinking that they might be applying to me as a result of my quietness and failure to initiate or reschedule. I’m doing the exact same thing that I don’t want them to do to me. It’s too bad that anxiety doesn’t respond well to basic logic.