To Be A Hero

Everyone either dreams of being a hero or wishes to have something heroic done for them in their time of need. Savior or Saved. But, what about those in-between people? The ones who never realize they need rescuing and then, after years of self-reflection, inadvertently fall into the role of becoming their own heroes. What are they called? Victims? Survivors? These “make-do in very bad situations” people? Are they the perpetual dirty, worn doormat or are they the loudly chiming doorbell proclaiming the arrival of a new player in life’s chess game? They know who to avoid, who never to tell secrets to and also how to self-soothe when the internal weather becomes choppy. And, trust me, it’s hard to accept this heroic status when everything feels like rainy depression and constant protective defense. Very hard.

Growing up, my siblings and I had many instances where heroic intervention was necessary but, the opposite occurred. The closer we came to the edge the quicker people, aware of our situation, backed away. The knowledge that our little voices had the right to ask for help was completely foreign, completely unimaginable. We had no one to throw that dysfunctional ball of confusion to. No one to share the burden. No one to strategize with. And, the one who should have been the hero became the villain instead, and then we, the prey, were left to fend for ourselves. Always left to go it alone because, you know…

BUCK UP! PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR BOOTSTRAPS! STOP BEING A BABY!

I heard it all, even at 5 years old the grand expectation for my success in life was one of merely accepting my fate. The fate of a rudderless ship sailing toward an inevitably rocky shore. People like us shouldn’t expect much! How dare we even ask! It was also the expectation that every abuse heaped upon my child self was somehow a lesson on how to toughen up my adult self in the future. This gave no hope, no anticipation, it only led me to believe that if I was being trained to look at life as a constant battle of wills then I would always be on the losing side.

I was being prepared to lose.

I did not want to lose.

Let’s go back to the bootstrap thing. The “pull yourself up” part is a quaint motivational poster slogan but, one that is not even remotely realistic for the vast majority it’s hurled at. How can it be when, at each attempt, someone else’s boot stomps on the clinging-for-dear-life fingers of the one desperate to improve themselves? Or, and this one is classic, how about those moments when improvement or success is acquired only to have it criticized or mocked by the very people demanding said improvement to begin with?

What the hell do you people really want from us? It’s a fair question. A question I know has no honest answer because to answer honestly it to uncover the true animosity or jealousy that resides within. You call us ugly, worthless, sinful, lazy or pathetic yet, and this is real rich, none of those descriptors are deserved because they are mere projection. Projection is not motivation. Learn that. To project inner loathing on others as a means to LEVEL them is not a positive life lesson, it’s a testament to life-long resentment. It is the act of engaging in a personal war where the only winner intended is the projector. We see you. We truly do understand what is happening and…

That’s not going to happen anymore.

I said it.

I mean it.

As a child, and on into young adulthood, the only “heroes” I could identify with were writers, musicians and artists. They spoke my language it seemed and I drank it up like the antidote to a poison I was being force-fed daily. I found no heroes in my own home. Zero. I found no heroes in my small community and I found no heroes in the church my parents demanded we attend. In those limiting areas I only found the requirement to accept fault, beg for forgiveness and then forever comply in order to, maybe, obtain a tiny sliver of acceptance. But, what was I complying with and who were these people I was told I needed acceptance from? Even asking the question earned punishment because, how dare I question the elders?

Elder, thou doth lie!

I know it’s frustrating when I use “fancy words” to weave a comforting blanket of protection from the shit I have been served most of my life. I hear this A LOT. I get that it angers certain people who accuse me of being “vague” or not courageous enough to name names or face my abusers. I have faced them all my life, that job is done. They know their names, I am not required to utter them anymore. I’m not required to prove anything to anyone. And, I’m allowed to sculpt, twist and bend my experiences into any kind of art I chose, whether that be through the lyrical play of words or the hard slash of a paintbrush on a canvas. The audience has no control over the actor’s performance, you are merely there to look, listen and learn.

Look around at the heroes in your life. See one in your mirror every morning. Listen when they speak and listen even harder when they don’t. Observe body language, the subtle yet very apparent signs of a life fraught with challenges but also gifted with limitless grace. And, in the end, learn that when others fail us miserably the win is still within reach because we can write our own rules. We always could.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Death of a Family

It has finally happened. The day has come. A tiny bit of me feels uneasy because I just recently wrote about wondering when this day would occur and now, it has come to pass. Am I clairvoyant? No. But, if I were and could see where all of this was heading years ago don’t you think I would have hit the road sooner?

The man we once called “Dad” is dead. And now, the dilemma over how to react, or not, starts. Do we fake grieve or do we expel a long overdue sigh of relief? Do we cry and if so, how hard and for how long? But, if we do cry is it for the one who has left this earth or is it for what we never got in the first place? It’s impossible to know for sure but the one thing I do know is that I’m not sad he’s gone. I am sad, however, that we never had decent, loving parents. That, I have mourned for the past 30+ years.

There I said it, and while it may sound harsh to those on the outside looking in, the fictionalized version of this long dead family my mother so desperately wanted everyone to believe in never existed. You were duped, or maybe you always knew but just never said anything. Anyway, the instigator of great pain and personal torment is gone. And, here we are, still standing tall despite decades of bluster and boasting from the man who regularly berated, belittled and abused his children and grandchildren. He is gone and I feel no sorrow. How could anyone even ask me to?

The man who used me as a punching bag.

Gone.

The man who enjoyed grabbing a fistful of my hair so he could pull me across the kitchen floor to show me that I put something in the refrigerator WRONG.

Gone.

The man who dutifully went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night in order to cement his superior status as the righteous man.

Gone.

How should we remember him? As the smug, sneering know-it-all with a disturbing sadistic side or, as the dream of a kind and loving father we held in our heads? He wasn’t the latter, not even a little bit. Oh, he tried to be jovial at times but what started out in a joking vein usually disintegrated into a cruel strike to the jugular. When asked to come closer to him the first question that always popped into my suspicious mind was, “Why?” Near or far away, it didn’t matter which, he still had the ability to inflict pain. Even in his frail last few years the ever present shame, guilt and anger that he created in each one of us signaled his legacy was still very much in control.

I stopped talking to both of my parents in 2016, for a variety of valid reasons and, it wasn’t until a year or so later that I knew I made the right decision. At first I wasn’t sure and would go back and forth but became very certain upon learning that this man, this self-proclaimed Christian man, who my mother said so deserved his heavenly reward, was revealed to not only be a child abuser but also a child molester. There would be no turning back and I held firm because for so many years I always “overlooked” their past behavior and tried to live by the let bygones be bygones principle. I now understand that this was exactly what they were hoping for, a “just get over it” proclamation with no recourse for any of their victims and certainly no apology. Again, they controlled the narrative, standing together in twisted unity, and we were just whiny children who deserved everything that happened to us. No love from a mother and certainly no love from a father.

Speaking of mothers, mine obviously took great care in writing my father’s obituary. She was his greatest enabler and protector so it’s no surprise that “liberties” would be taken and the truth would be fabulously stretched. I found exactly what I expected when reading the glowing heavenly recommendation for this deeply damaged and morally bankrupt man. The manner in which he was now being eulogized/fictionalized could lead one to think the Earth’s trees should all bow in sorrow to honor the passing of such a great man! Such a godly man!

Great, he was not. Good at manipulating and posturing? Yes indeed! Sure, he held the various positions listed among the multiple conflated exaggerations but did he excel at any of them? No, he did not. This I know because I was there when he held most of these “prestigious” posts but I must have missed the day he was proclaimed “well liked” and “respected in the community.” Was he really? Be honest now. He can’t hurt us anymore so speak freely! We moved around a lot not because he was in such high demand but because he was either running from one bill or another or, possibly, trying to get out of being held accountable for any number of wrongs he may have committed. Who really knows for sure? The expert “Editor” made sure all tracks were covered well. Bravo mom! Good job.

Now, here is where things start to get a little bizarre, but not totally unexpected. When airing grievances about ones own children and grandchildren it is best to keep track of what lies you told to which people. Did you remember to exhibit just the right amount of confusion and innocent wonder over why some of your children did not rush to your side or “at least call” for heaven’s sake? It might have something to do with you vehemently striking out in absolute defense of an abuser and child molester but, it could also be due to you calling me and other siblings liars and embarrassments while expressing that you now know why certain animals chose to kill their young. Good stuff there mother! Good stuff.

Oh, and the person you lamented to? They knew you were lying. Just thought I should point that out. Use a flow chart dammit! It makes tracking lies so much easier. Gosh! Stop being so lazy with your hate tactics.

So, where were we? Oh, yes, documenting the long, slow, painful death of a family. We were a “family” after all. Born of the same parents, sharing DNA, physical resemblances and all that jazz. We started dying the day each one of us became caught up in whatever torment the two of you drug into your too young, too dumb and highly ill-conceived marriage. Each child was placed on the alter of your respective mental fuck-ups and each one of us was sacrificed as an offering to your egos. We had no say. You brought us here and you both worked together to try and destroy us. When it became evident that this was working too slowly another plan was hatched. Why not get us to feed off of one another? Why not plant the seeds of your own angry dysfunction in each one of us and then poke and prod until the fighting begins? Brilliant plan really. Just so deviously exquisite!

For the past 60 years this game has proven quite successful because, fast forward to today, it’s pretty crystal clear when you tally up the hurtful words, personal slights, abusive behavior and our blatant trampling of the feelings of one another. In that regard, dad has won spectacularly. Few of us talk to one another now and even fewer have anything to do with you, dear old mom. Did you see that coming? Dad really fucked you over with that one! Such precision. So much so that you didn’t even realize that the man you deferred you whole life to would see to it that, in the end, you were left with nothing but crumbs.

Game, set, match…

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is This The Day You Die?

On my way home from work yesterday this thought went through my mind. Driving along, looking up at the blue sky, watching the soft white clouds bounce on by.

“Is today going to be the day you leave this Earth?

Rarely do I allow myself to ruminate or stew in the past anymore. I have done the recovery work and am, daily, working to forgive for myself and release anger and pain. It’s been a long learning process but I think I have found multiple ways to distract or refocus myself to thoughts, projects and people more deserving of my attention. It has worked well the past 3-4 years and I have grown to rely on my new-found skill but today I added, “I hope you made peace with your maker and confessed the true ugliness committed at your hands.”

Let me get you up to speed here. I am, essentially, an orphan. I have no family to speak of even though there are at least, maybe, 30 people out there that share some DNA with me. That I know of anyway. I could be wrong about the exact count because my family of origin LIES a lot. I arrive at my number by counting parents, siblings, their kids, their kid’s children and the few cousins I know about. I have physical contact with none of these people and that isn’t because of the corona virus, it’s because of purposeful cruelty and generational dysfunction. I have limited verbal contact with just 3 of these people so, in my mind, that qualifies me as an unofficial orphan.

Cue the balloons and streamers!!! Now, where is my crown?

Back to the initial, depressing title of this already worn out tome. It really is tiresome when the past won’t stay where it belongs so when you find out a family member is currently in the hospital, a member who doesn’t deserve your kindness, all kinds of surprising conclusions are drawn. Do I still care? How should I feel about this information? How do I react when asked about this family member? Will anyone who isn’t related to me even ask about this family member anyway since this person isn’t well-liked in their community? Anyone who truly knows me is aware of why I feel the way I do about this family member. And, those who don’t? Well, let them ask and they too will learn the truth.

I have no desire to edit anything or soften the jagged perimeter of this family plot turned garbage dump so my truth will be imparted without hesitation. “Is this the day they died?” Honestly, it could happen this way. Someone unrelated to me could be the one to inform me of the passing of a person I came to terms with years ago. A person I reserve no conflicted feelings for and have no desire to pretend grieve once they pass from this world. I wish them a smooth passage, which is more than they would wish for me and, once that has been accomplished, I wish to think of them no more.

If this is the day that you die please know that I am still standing. I am not bowing to the wind of judgement because none is blowing my way. That storm is reserved for you so be ready. Make amends, if you can and if you can’t bring yourself to do this before your last breath then that’s okay. I’ve done my part and let you go a long time ago.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You Are Permitted to be Angry…

With a few caveats of course.

For all my years of touting cute catchphrases like, “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” or expressing my resolute determination to no longer remain silent, I forgot one thing. The power of commiseration.

I don’t need you to use your sympathy voice every time I share something that makes me angry. I want you to be angry with me!

I GET IT NOW!

There is great power in numbers, as the current protests around the country have shown. I know this to be true. I talk about it, A LOT, within my professional space yet skim right over it in my personal space. And, for that, I am so very sorry. In this, I realize that I am no better than all the assholes I rail about, the ones without even a minuscule amount of empathy in their bitter bones. I, a person who has too much empathy at times, still forgot the therapeutic efficacy of a good bitch-fest. The legitimate airing of grievances, but without having to observe Festivus.

I will be angry with you.

I will listen to what you have to say without doing the, “Awww” face.

I will join your venting session, not because I’m mad at the same person, place or thing, but because YOU ARE ANGRY and I want to support you.

It’s okay to be angry because anger is an energy that can cause change just as easily as it can cause destruction.

I support your right to FEEL all the feelings that go along with being human.

Now, having said all of that, and I meant all of it, I just know there are miserable shit-stirrers out there itching to rail against those who express the desire to FEEL. You know? The FUCK YOUR FEELINGS dickheads. The rest of this is directed at you. Everyone with historically documented reasons to feel angry, you can grab some popcorn and relax for a bit. You earned it…

Yes, fuck my feelings! That’s so mature, so human, so kind of you! And, it’s exactly what I would expect from people who don’t think anyone else is allowed to be angry but them. What exactly are YOU mad about? Didn’t your whiteness provide, abundantly, everything all those other white male politicians promised if you supported their agenda? I know what everyone else is mad about but, please, tell me what’s REALLY troubling you. And, can you do it without calling me names or threatening me with violence? It’s a novel idea but try it, you might like it. And, while you are trying that maybe stop and picture what it really means to be the “good Christian” that you keep calling yourself. Are ya, really??? Can’t be Christ-like when you’re calling me a loud-mouth liberal bitch that needs to know my place. All-seeing God my ass, you don’t know me at all! Let me introduce myself, I’m you’re worst nightmare because I can see who you really are and that’s what you really hate, not me, not them, but yourself.

photo by Andre Hunter

It’s the truth about ourselves, the stuff we demand stay hidden, that really pops up in times of anger and strife, whether we like it or not. It isn’t hidden anymore and if the truly oppressed in this country can put up with your racist, homophobic, misogamist bullshit for centuries then I guess the LEAST I can do is get my privileged white ass up in their support. I stand with them because standing with you is limiting, exhausting, debilitating and completely on the wrong side of history and humanity. I will not side with vile hatred so stop trying to sell me on the garbage you keep peddling.

Yes, I believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love and Kindness is EVERYTHING! On the flip-side, to those who do not believe in the things I just listed? You are the real problem and you are the one stoking the fire of hate in this country and around the world. Lying, cheating and stealing are really your areas of expertise, not ours but you jump at slapping those projected labels on us, which is laughable. Don’t like what I just imparted? Let me use some of your own medicine on that burn…uh, fuck your feelings! Ah, that felt refreshingly satisfying.

I can guarantee one thing for sure, in this current moment and moving forward, if ANYONE directs hateful vitriol and violence towards anyone I love, I will rain the entirety of my FEELINGS of anger, disgust and rage down on you! I was subjected to physical and mental abuse as a child and young adult and can only keep that raging beast of revenge down so long you know? Count on me coming for you because, hey, when you dismiss my feelings of empathy and kindness what’s left? Yeah, just the NASTY parts, the ones you identify with most and you can’t fuck ALL of my feelings. Who’s got that kind of time?

Illustration by Sefira Ross

Oh, you don’t like that I’m expressing a desire to treat you as miserably as you treat others? Huh, it doesn’t FEEL good does it? Are you afraid of my rage? My words that I can freely express without the need of a gun to back them up? Or, are you really terrified of my ability to size-up your obvious inner conflict and verbalize the issues that I see standing in your way of being a decent person? No one acts the way you do without channeling some fucked up dysfunction from childhood that leads to the near debilitating self esteem issues you clearly exhibit. Do I want to be right about you being a shit person? No. But, 9 times out of 10, I am right and it hurts because I know humanity can do better.

You see, I am willing to listen to your angry outbursts, just like I listen to those I love vent. The only difference is that I know one of those complaint sessions will lead to greater self-awareness and inner calm and the other will lead to personal ruin. Without a willingness to see the pain of others, to listen, learn and actively understand why they have a right to be angry nothing will change. You will stay miserable and stuck. You will never be happy. You will never be a healthy community/society member even though you have this warped impression that this land is YOUR land and not anyone else’s, especially those with darker hued skin. To hold onto those ideals is to hold onto quicksand…your made-up “identity” is being exposed as you slide down, down, down.

I’ll offer you a hand if you want it. Do you want it?

Or, does going down with the rat infested ship seem more palatable than letting a dirty liberal offer you kindness?

Sad.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Oh, Sister of Mine?

When people ask me about my family of origin I pause and take a deep breath. “How much time do you have?” I ask. It’s never a matter of rambling on about all the amazing memories I have (or had) with family, it’s a matter of, “How much do I tell?”

Do I talk about the feelings of despair, the urgent need to get as far away from my childhood home and town as possible or, do I simply compose a quick verbal synopsis? Even that would be a task destined for failure since there is zero possibility of a speedy deposition because anger, pain and darkness go too deep and have traveled too many generations to be given just a cursory glance. This is a disease that must be examined with the keen eye of a scientist or, at minimum, with the paranoid skepticism of a rabid conspiracy theorist.

“Show me your proof.”

“It’s all made up!”

“You have an agenda!”

Who doesn’t, pal?

I wish I had made up everything I felt compelled to share about my childhood and the people enlisted to birth me and then failed to raise me properly. I wish I had made up the interactions with my many siblings that drained the rose color from my preferred view of the world. The dream of a life I felt excited about as a five year-old was the same one ground to dust at eight by a brother who acted entitled to be doing so without explanation or recourse.

If only I could recall, rewind, rework and then reissue my life. But, I can’t and it must stand as a work unto itself with no revisions because truth is truth no matter how dirty and the lies of others, desperate to silence you, have no power anymore. That, right there, is what sparks the greatest fear in former oppressors, instigators and apologists. I will TELL. I will say it ALL. And, my truth will follow them to the depths of every self-imposed hellscape they find themselves in or into any carefully curated tale of a supposed “life well-lived” they may attempt to create.

It’s the price we all pay for pretending.

But, what happens when the pretenders stop and stand still within their game? What happens when the camera, the one meant to capture a staged joyous moment, starts documenting reality at every press of the button? Sure, we can smile for the camera but we have no control over the image projecting from our eyes. They are the real keepers of truth after all.

I entitled this “Oh, Sister of Mine?” for a specific reason and to document a specific hurt. I have two sisters, born from the same parents and both subjected to the same dysfunction (at varying degrees) I was yet each approaches their wounds very differently. One chose the stance of a pacifist or rather, a “compartmentalizer” and the other, further down the pedigree chart, chose to morph into a volatile cat o’ nine tails ready to inflict as much mental punishment as humanly possible on anyone she decides to level. Did I see that coming my way? No. Am I really surprised in hindsight? Again, no. Some people learn from their pain and some carry it with them like a weapon to be used whenever they need self-soothing. It was just a matter of time.

Now, here’s the rub. From time to time I see strategically posted vignettes of their “and a fun time was had by all” soap opera. It hurts, initially, that I have been purposely cut out of their lives but, in a way, I also see it as needed medicine. The depiction of how their lives easily go on without being invited to share in any joy or pain can feel scalding but, it is also the hurt I need to heal, if that makes sense? The more I see of these surface only interactions the better I feel about my decision to untangle from the diseased spiderweb. I can’t go back to pretending anymore. I won’t go back there yet, at the same time I am irritatingly human enough to still long for closeness and also feel bad for all of them.

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/people-are-revealing-truth-behind-their-happy-looking-social-media-posts-its-heartbreaking.html

And by ALL I mean ALL, even the parents and other siblings who worked so hard to grind my soul into the ground. I wish things were different but, they are not and they never will be. That wish is now released to the wind. It floats away, along with pieces of my regret and anger, to be replaced by a satisfying self-awareness I never even knew I could posses. By “self-awareness” I mean I own up to my faults, my lies, my rage now with zero shame or embarrassment.

It’s never embarrassing to be authentic.

The TRUE shame is in continuing to willfully live that lie.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Company You Keep: A Tale of Constant Disappointment

Over the past few years I have come to the resolute conclusion that there is a very good reason people who were once childhood friends, co-workers, waving neighbors or even fragile family members grow apart. The saying that we are known by the company we keep was very true during Aesop’s day just as it is today. Look to the left and then back to the right. Who do you call friend, family, acquaintance?

Aesop’s Fables: An Ass And His Purchaser

The tale of An Ass And His Purchaser goes a little like this:

A man wanted to purchase an Ass and took him home for a trial. The Ass befriended the most idle of those the man already owned and so… Bye, bye Ass.

A man is known by the company he keeps.

I see your posts on social media. The lazy re-posting of propaganda. Yeah, this looks good…CLICK. The refusal to fact-check, question or even comprehend that what you just shared was an example of racism, sexism, isolationism, homophobia or any other repugnant, exclusionary belief. The refusal to acknowledge that careless words can cause great harm is illuminated like a TIKI torch at a white nationalist rally. “Oh, I will totally OWN them with this scorching article from a hugely biased news source!”

I see the venom, the bile and the disdain posted about those you feel are not as “good” or as “smart” as you. I make note of how you feel those people are disrespectful, dishonorable, untrustworthy, un-this, un-that and then the final dismissive pronouncement that when those people use their long ignored voice this equals whining. Does this mean your point of view is the only one that matters? Or, does it mean your point of view should matter more? It’s one or the other. You can’t have it both ways after all.

What do you hear in the voices of protest that bothers you so much? I ask because I truly want to know why the sound of life-long pain, frustration and grief triggers such dismissal and/or anger? Are they not deserving of fair treatment, equal rights or the same protections afforded to you under the law? If your answer is NO…why? And, can you look those people in the eye and bravely explain why they shouldn’t be as FREE as you? And, can you do it without sneering, condescending vitriol? Thanks. That would be great!

Now, back to the part about being known, or judged, by the people you choose to associate with. If you are pals with people who make disparaging remarks about people of color, women, non-Christians, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, people with different political beliefs or anyone different at all for that matter and you LAUGH or LOOK THE OTHER WAY then that will be considered condoning or agreeing with their behavior. The key word here is CHOICE. You decided which side you were on without even saying a word. Silence was your choice. Like it or not. I don’t make the rules.

A riot is not quiet…

So, I see your condemning posts about those, whiny, lazy, ignorant and, weak liberal snowflakes and I always come back to the introduction, written with great authority by you. The original post may have come from someone else but you obviously agreed with it or why else would you share it? For shits and grins? To stir the pot? To purposely cause outrage? To mock? Oh, you may claim any one of these but I suspect it’s because you actually do agree with the sentiment embedded in that inflammatory meme, quote, shared article or video. It’s okay to admit it. I could even respect you, believe it or not, if you would just be honest for once.

I see it all and wonder how your definitions of GOOD, SUPERIOR, PURE, RIGHTEOUS and HOLY were formed along with the polar opposite of those five words. Did your views come from a highly edited history purposely designed to place you on top as the victor while everyone different is cast as defective, unbalanced or criminal? How did you come to the point in life where you currently stand? You appear angry. You also appear so certain to be right and also very certain I, and people both like and unlike me, deserve no audience to plead our case because our guilt was determined long before we were born.

Do you ever wonder if everything you were ever told about those not like you is a lie? I do.

https://theundefeated.com/features/being-black-in-a-world-where-white-lies-matter/

https://theestablishment.co/white-people-you-have-a-lying-problem-e991c3634493/index.html

https://milwaukeenns.org/2020/06/26/opinion-the-lies-white-people-tell-ourselves-and-how-they-haunt-milwaukee-today/

Currently, I am furious that a huge chunk of what was in my white grade school and high school history books was biased, unbalanced, revisionist propaganda written to purposely divide by race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship status, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, or disability. I am certain that there are other agents of division I missed but you get the point…right? History is written by the winners no matter how they achieved that status. Be it by theft, coercion, excessive force or editing. It’s the real FAKE NEWS.

REAL…fake news. Take that in for a moment. It isn’t the moronic bullshit, the twisted, spun and manipulative gas-lighting vomit broadcast via Twitter or Fox News. It isn’t the bizarre, braying jackass sound bites from unprepared press conferences or the never ending ego trips masquerading as campaign rallies. You mean nothing to the talking orange head. Your life experiences, trials and tribulations and worries don’t even register a blip on that schizophrenic radar. You get that, right?

I simply cannot believe that people just wake up one day deciding to be arrogant, insolent, heartless assholes. Something happened along the way. Someone, or a group of someones, taught them how to behave as if their particular hue is the best hue, their particular worldview is the best, most perfect, most tremendous one of all time. It has the highest ratings, the largest following and they will DOMINATE the world.

But, here’s the thing about reaching the top of the heap…getting there isn’t the true goal, staying there is.

And, if you continually get to the top on the backs of those people, never allowing them to SHARE the space with you, then to what lengths will you go to stay on top?

You don’t fear those you stand on. You fear retribution for the transgressions you and your ancestors committed while on the continuous journey to the top. THAT is the legacy of this country. Simply admitting it isn’t culpability, it’s true freedom. Cutting loose the “company” that no longer reflects positively on you isn’t a huge sacrifice. Losing your very life because of deeply ingrained bias and racism is.

Learn the difference.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Farewell to friendship in the age of Trump

Goodbye spirited debate! So long teasing! Forget about it, polite conversation! Take a hike kindness. You’re done! Finished! Finito! Every attempt at online interaction now is fraught with misunderstanding, defensiveness and paranoia. What did you say about me? What did you mean by that?!? You are so naive, ignorant, liberal, conservative, arrogant, brainwashed, deplorable, gullible…on and on and on. You are either one of US or one of THEM!

Wait…what?

Now, to get to the heart of this blog confession; I was recently unfriended and blocked on social media by someone I have known since high school. While this isn’t the first former school chum to unfriend me this one certainly was the most surprising. Now, granted, we haven’t physically seen one another in over 20 years and every attempt I have made to connect, face-to-face, since 1997 has been rebuffed but, I’m confident when I say I tried! I called, texted and messaged, all out of genuine concern for a friend I wanted to keep in my life because I had fond memories of them from a time period when things weren’t as complicated.

We used to be really good friends…once…a long time ago.

Everything is complicated now! And mostly because people make it complicated for themselves.

It all began with a series of half satirical, half personal opinion posts about the Orange Scourge. Then, it involved replies on other friend’s posts and then my own response to said former friend who was clearly trying to either elicit an affirmation of his world view or a negative response to posting a blurb about how those still “fearful” of getting Covid-19 should just stay home while everyone “brave” and “patriotic” goes back to work. This is the same person who would regularly pop into comment feeds with harshly cold comments bereft of empathy and dripping with condescension and then when rebuffed would also try to disengage by saying, “Oh, I guess I don’t understand how social media works”, “I thought we could have a discussion but I guess I was wrong!” But, wait! You claim to be a sort-of Libertarian scholar so don’t you know it ALL? Tell us more Professor! Psst….THAT’S sarcasm by the way.

Yes, yes you do understand how dropping a shitty comment into the middle of friends bantering back and forth will be received. Yes, you do understand that the people you are crap-bombing are all outspoken women who are very adept at expressing their views and who don’t appreciate being talked down to. Yes, you knew this and yet chose to proceed because…you knew exactly what you were doing. The need for attention, whether it’s positive or negative is still with you even after all these years. Such is the way of the perpetual adolescent, demanding attention and then feigning dismay when things take a disturbing turn. Not my fault! Uh, huh…sure. If not yours then whose?

And, so I felt compelled to respond with a truthful statement that indeed, I shall stay home because I am lucky enough to have an employer that values my safety and one who can allow me to work from home. I acknowledge that I am very fortunate and appreciative of how my life has turned out. It seemed to be a benign enough proclamation until other comments involved telling the fearful, in this person’s view, to file for unemployment if they felt too scared to work. Not. That. Simple. For an all knowing Libertarian I’m shocked they don’t realize that if a stay at home order is lifted then the unemployment payments stop. If an employee decides to continue staying home they can either: 1) Burn up their sick and vacation time or: 2) Get fired for being insubordinate if they still refuse to come to work and risk getting or spreading Covid-19. If the second option occurs you can bet that the unemployment benefits process will start all over leaving the “fearful” without money coming in for a period of time combined with the indisputable knowledge that profits are more important than human lives. *Edit: The most likely scenario will be the reasonably concerned employee will balk at returning and the unsympathetic employer will consider that an, “I quit” which equals-no unemployment.

The former friend’s response? “Well, YOU just stay home and you’ll be safe…” Is there a sarcasm font? No? You’ll just have to read that in your best sarcastic and dismissive tone. You understand what sarcasm sounds like right? Some are confused as to what that is apparently (cough, cough…Trump) and after receiving a reply that a snotty, privileged Karen would give I read it to really mean, “And…all the rest of us patriots, unafraid of some silly virus and unwilling to give up our freedom (to infect) will move about the world touching and coughing on everything while you stay holed up in fear.”

The actual typed words may seem harmless on the surface but I know this game well. I recognize the short response, the clipped phrasing of impatience and defensive deflection, the bubbling irritation I have gotten so used to. I will pat you on the head with these dismissive words, words I don’t really mean but words I choose in order to belittle and embarrass you online. Words I would never try in person because I’m not good with face-to-face conflict. So brave, right?

Having dealt with many passive-aggressive individuals over the years I clearly recognize that when a rebuttal begins with WELL the resentment tends to run DEEP. I have no idea why this person would feel resentful towards me or toward any other friends so I won’t even hazard a guess. It doesn’t really matter. I simply don’t tolerate this type of childish drama in my life anymore so I’m not hurt by the severing of social media ties. Keeping self-absorbed online nasty comment bombers on my virtual “friend” list has lost it’s appeal and no matter what our history together was it’s now time to let go. I have grown up, they have not and that’s okay. I will not lose any sleep over our ridiculous falling out.

What does concern me, however, is the suspicion that all is not mentally well with my former friend despite denials when pressed via private message. There is something off here, something that doesn’t make sense and even though I have asked if I can be supportive and be of service my assistance is not welcome. I can respect that. Again, I tried so now all I can do is wish them well, hope they are okay and leave them in the past.

Farewell friend! I knew you once but now, I hardly know thee at all.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The place where loyalty and forgiveness lies…

At one time I placed a great amount of loyalty in the hands of people who constantly drove over me with their jealousy fueled anger bus and people who saw betrayal as a means to an end. An end that benefited them only and cut me to the quick, slicing deeper and deeper until I no longer recognized myself.

And, in failing to recognize who I truly was I also failed to see those who flipped on me, those who extracted a perverted measure of satisfaction from my pain, for who they truly were as well. The words, “They are all you have” echoed through the pain and still, I went back. Forgive and forget! Just move on! Are you STILL hanging on to this?

You bet! Not getting let off the hook that easy you psycho…

That place, the sovereign soil of heritage over honor and blood over truth remains contaminated, an inhospitable tenement with no safe harbor. Each trip I made to its doorstep ended in an unsettled feeling of impending tragedy, or, so as not to seem overly dramatic, a nagging sense that I absolutely did not belong there.

Why is it so hard to let go of things, places and people that no longer work in our lives? Letting go of those who hurt us over and over? Is it because we fear being wrong to stay angry or is it because we might be very right to not forgive and admitting this comes with a large dose of regret and embarrassment over not doing it sooner?

How did we come from that place? How did we come from those people? Where is our place in this world now?

And, what about forgiveness? Oh, yes, the ultimate selfish demand from those with every intention of never changing, never apologizing and every intention to do harm again. Who is forgiveness for again? You? Them? Or, is the saintly Mother Forgiveness and the warm glow of salvation she’s rumored to bring just a myth?

“Oh, you MUST forgive or you will live with anger and bitterness!”

Okay. Are you sure about that? I heard once that anger is an energy, a motivator, a teacher. I also heard that angry women are _________, choose whichever derogatory term, typically men, apply to women who refuse to bend, break and, refuse to…forgive. My refusal is no admission of guilt. No, it’s a firm foot being placed solidly on the ground that says, “No sir, my life will not be played out on your terms.” This is my life, my choice and I’m perfectly content knowing there are Forgiveness Soldiers out there that demonize me for being strong.

I owe you nothing.

The anger I felt inside moved me forward. The anger I felt inside pushed me to look at people closer. The anger I felt inside urged me to listen to my gut. I am not stuck, bitter, sad, tortured or any of those negative things promised by the pious. Its almost as if they want us to be unhappy…just so they can feel right. Go figure.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thoughts and Prayers for Christmas….

I tried.

Hard.

Now, I don’t have to anymore and I’m relieved!

For the past 2 years I swore that I would continue being thoughtful, dutifully sending cards and gifts to family that despised me because “I’m better than that.” I wrote about it in a declaratory tome announcing my status as a saint after all! Jesus, it was easy to fall for the guilt trip then because I desperately wanted to be the bigger person but now I accept the real, hideous bigger picture instead. Also, I don’t want to be like my mother and continue a tradition of sending Cards of Lies with words I knew weren’t true because her actions always said otherwise.

It was never about how they would view me at all. It was about how I viewed myself.

Ego led me to believe someday they would care and so, I sent cards, money and gifts not out of true love for them but out of fear that I would be seen as a shitty person, prone to pettiness and grudges. I see that now and give myself full permission to stop. The way they view me will never be swayed by cash or gift cards anyway so the time to cease and desist is now. It was long overdue and is hard to accept but accept it I will while also wishing them well, silently, on each momentous occasion.

Thoughts and prayers work for phony Christians when doing actual good isn’t desired so why not in this instance? The only difference is, I mean it when I say I wish them well. I do. It’s free and isn’t emotionally draining. To do anything else only shortchanges me and if this really is about how I view myself then I will continue the well wishes in private so my mind, heart and soul can remain at peace. To send or not to send a card will make no difference so I chose to spare a tree. It’s only right.

And, in the grand life-long scheme of things it doesn’t matter. None of it ever mattered because each puzzle piece never wanted to fit in their allotted spot. They only wanted to take chunks from the other pieces around them in order to fill the void and because learning how to be introspective was too hard. A word for everyone out there…it isn’t hard at all! Some people are just fucking lazy. Oh, and they are scared shit-less of the ugliness they’ve allowed to fester inside so they belittle others more successful, more kind and more loving than they are in an attempt to hide their ugly souls.

I shall pray for you…

Not really. I don’t do that. But even if I did it wouldn’t put a dent in the nasty so instead I will think of them often and imagine they are better people. People who actually care about more than themselves, people who aren’t so cowardly that they must hide behind cutting words and passive-aggressive memes. I mean, really! Who wants to be so phony that no one ever sees the real person, no one ever gets to connect with the honest heart inside and, instead, gets rebuffed by a hard, icy exterior devoid of a welcome sign?

I can ask that, and do a lot but I already know the answer. I’ve always known the answer.

© 2019-2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Learning to be thankful for the word NO!

During this season of self imposed stress I choose to say no.

And, when I say no…to all the things that serve no meaningful purpose in my life I am truly saying yes to peace, harmony and personal growth. It may seem harsh or unreasonable to some but for those who refuse to waste their lives accepting nastiness and manipulation it is a revelation.

https://peacecounseling.org/how-do-you-respond-to-the-word-no/

I no longer require the approval of others to live my life and pursue my goals because their approval is nothing more than soul-crushing judgment in disguise. I see it clearly and it serves no positive objective so it will no longer have a reserved parking spot around my neck.

I can breathe again.

The expectations of self-centered tyrants are set aside, to list and groan as they silently sink to the bottom of the pity well that birthed them. I will no longer invite them into my mind space as there is no more room at my table. I have filled it up with the self-preserving wisdom that comes when one wakes the hell up!

Instead, I fill my life with people and experiences that bring a calming center point to my world because to do anything else is the exact definition of insanity. Running in circles, chasing anger, resentment, and the fear of being found out as a fraud…none of these things have appeal so I say no to them all.

In looking back I see the time I wasted attempting to be something I was not for dishonest, broken people and I also see the time they wasted denying who they really are. Pretending to be loving will not make you loving just as pretending to be strong will not sustain you when your heart is breaking into a thousand pieces. Eventually everyone either becomes too tired to lie or they fall on their own sword of deception.

This will not be my life. This never was my plan.

I have decided to simplify because, after all, life is only hard when we make it so and the crazy-making mentality I was raised with is no longer SO in my world. I send it back to where it came from, wrapped in a pretty bow, packaged all elegant and shiny. You can’t miss it. It’s the box marked NO!

© 2019-2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.