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.

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.

In the company of wolves…

It’s no secret that I was raised by a narcissistic bully and a giggling passive-aggressive with a searing dislike for anyone “more fortunate” than herself. I have written about this numerous times and after each soul cleansing admission the only player in this dark, twisted tale to change is me. As it should be.

Each time I lay it all out there, stripped to the bone and raw for all to see, my personal suffering lessens and I relax just a little more. I forgive a little more while remembering to forget even less. Catalog it for future lessons I say! In getting it out I am freeing myself from anger and shame. I am freeing myself from them.

And by THEM I mean my entire family, not just the ones who refuse to talk to me, who refuse to acknowledge my presence on this earth. Or, refuse to understand that I stood with them when they needed me most while I stood here alone.

Little Red Riding Hood has nothing on me…

It’s okay. I have great balance and an affinity for going my own way, on my own time schedule and without the assistance of unwilling companions. It’s truly becoming easier. I’m not alone anymore.

But, just because something is easy it doesn’t mean that it’s preferable or kind or right. This experience is none of those things yet, in a way, it’s exactly all of those things in the same token. It’s what I expected, it’s what I received and now it’s what I will glean knowledge from to learn and continue growing.

The mysterious, all knowing THEY in life have said that strangers will treat you better than family ever will and I have found this to be remarkably true. Strangers typically have no idea what your net worth is or your nasty secrets when engaging in acts of kindness to someone they see as “in need” of a brief kind gesture. Holding open a door, smiling for no reason other than something in your glance triggered their reaction. It’s nice and I appreciate it so much more now.

While growing up I was taught that each interaction with family produced only two things; anger or indifference. You either made someone mad or you didn’t exist to them. Nothing in between. Oh, I can say that there were times when it appeared we mattered to one another but, in looking back, I see now that it was more of a theatrical show for others so the normal family facade could stay in place. It was not sustainable nor was is real.

When I describe my family as wolves, at first glance it may seem mean spirited. But, in taking many decades worth of steps back I now see it as the ultimate coping mechanism, passed down from one generation to another, infinity. It had to start someplace, we didn’t invent devouring our own or lashing out in fear each time authority (or sanity) is challenged. We may not have invented it but our generation is perfecting it.

Each day, week, month and year that goes by connection is cut further and further and the string holding our family tree together is stretched beyond its limited capacity. It’s still tethered but the longer we go without contact the easier it will be to ignore, reject and justify what we do.

We do nothing. And, that is exactly the point. Nothing comes from nothing but doing nothing when something is required is the ultimate cruelty committed by a species that requires connection to survive. To know how to connect but to refuse to engage in it is madness, a self-fulfilling prophesy for failure.

And, yet, here we are, welcoming the wolves of jealousy, resentment, anger and pettiness around our doorsteps. They sit and dare anyone to attempt reconciliation. Come! They invite you to stand at my door to see what type of greeting you will receive.

Now, here’s the thing about wolves, they don’t always get it right nor do they recognize the evolution of people tired of traditional dysfunction. People so tired of grudges, so tired of secrets, so tired of lies that they stop doing all the expected things and replace the usual reactions with healthy ones instead. Becoming enlightened throws off the wolves scent for blood, and our becoming immune to the aggression and mind-numbing psychosis confuses them.

This is why I write everything down. It’s documented and it’s expressed in a way that leaves no room for alternate interpretation. I said it, I meant it, it’s done. Let the universe receive it for processing so I can go about my life. Let the universe determine the outcome so I can be free to live. No guilt, no worries and no looking back.

Yes, the invitation still stands and is sincere. Come to my door, it’s not barricaded against you. Just remember to leave your wolves at home.

© 2019 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.

What to expect when your only child goes off to college or: The misery of realizing you are old!

I only have one child. An amazing daughter who inherited many of my personality quirks and who also took that shared DNA and molded it into something even better than I could have ever imagined! She’s bursting with potential and I am trying my hardest not to fuck anything up for her as she moves into her second year of college and finally away from the home nest for good.

Today, I walked into her nearly empty bedroom and the instantaneous sensation of tears welling up in my eyes took me by surprise. I felt the tell-tale tightening of the chest, that vise grip around the heart feeling and I wanted to crumple into a ball on the floor and cry. The realization that this was most likely the last summer she would “come home” and from here on out I will only see her on brief visits over the holidays struck me hard.

Where did the time go? How could the years fly so fast? How did I get so damn old?

Well…I can and do sit around and talk about pooping ALL the time. The kid does it too. Kinda our thing much to Manly Man’s utter chagrin but, come on! Everyone poops, everyone gets old and if we can’t talk about it then why are we even here?

So, back to my sadness over no longer being the one getting asked, “Hey Mom? Where is my charger, book, this. that and the other?” No, wait…I just got a text from my daughter asking me where her Airpods are. And…now another asking me where her flatiron is. Mind you, I’m over 400 miles away but damned if I don’t know exactly where those things are! Mom’s know…everything!

I am thankful for the age of constant digital connection, the FaceTime era where you can see loved ones, often just in weird angle, poorly lit shots of their nose, eyes and forehead while they are lying in bed or lounging on the couch. It’s not pretty but its connecting and I’ll take it!

I’ll take any type of communication now because I know the “little girl” days are over and that is painful. So painful I now have a daily slideshow of memories from the past floating around every corner of my mind at any given moment. I see her room, in our new house and I flash back to an image of her crib, in our old house, with its cute bumper pad and mobile attached to the rail. I see the rocking chair I used to sit in, rocking her to sleep each night while listening to lullabies. I see the stack of favorite books and toys and I long for that again, with her.

Now, mind you, those days included some very irritating moments too which involved an ex-spouse and ex-in laws but I am able to freeze frame the good parts, the laughter and joy I shared with her. I know I will have many more opportunities to experience happiness within her current orbit but those sweet, silly and free moments from her childhood were so satisfying to remember! And, also so, so very sad to look back on now!

Damn it Buble!!!!!!

It’s hard knowing you can’t go back, ever. You can’t get a piece of that bliss, just a small sliver to carry with you now as a reminder that you did something right and your life actually had many amazing pockets of success hidden amongst the bitter experiences. I made it out intact and she made it out as well so now…I just want to focus on the amazing things and let go of all the garbage.

Yes, I made many mistakes with her father but in the here and now I want to move forward new and clean. She doesn’t have to worry about me because I am with a devoted partner who loves her as well and is so very proud of her just like I am. I am OKAY! I just need to learn how to remember wonderful moments with her without the twinge of regret or second guessing myself. I SHOULD have done a lot of things differently but the one thing I did right was having her. That will always be my greatest accomplishment in life, hands down.

https://grownandflown.com/empty-nest-kids-leave-me-behind/

And now I sit alone thinking about her and struggling to find my new path in life. No one really tells you that after your children grow into adults and take off to live their own lives you will be left with an aching void. You are left with a feeling of confusion over what to do next. Am I still a parent or has that chapter concluded? Do I get to go back to being a woman, partner, friend, coworker now or have I always been these things all along it’s just that society told me I could only pick one to be at a time? I was never told what to do with myself once that job was done. Is this a mid-life crisis or a no-life reality?

We give up a lot of our former selves to be parents but what happens when we forget where we left the person we used to be before our children came along? I think I remember where she is…but, do I really want to find her again? So many questions and to think our college age offspring are contemplating who they want to be at the very same time we are trying to remember who we once were. It’s a bit freaky right? I literally want to ask her where I left all my shit now! “Hey, newly adult child? Where did I leave my dreams, my ambition and my sanity?” I just need to know what my role is now.

© 2019 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.