Living is Harder

(Trigger warning for childhood sexual assault, depression, suicide (I’m fine, I promise!) and addiction)

It’s easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Things got a little hectic and I’ve been dealing with some things, but today some news came through that gutted me: Chester Bennington took his own life. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but Chester was a CSA (childhood sexual abuse/assault) survivor, along with being a recovering addict and someone who was mentally ill. The songs he wrote along with the other members of Linkin Park were literal life savers for me, because in his songs, I heard the pain of what he’d been through. Their music came at a time in my life when I was dealing with the exact same things he’d been through. Continue reading Living is Harder

Pushed Aside

There’s nothing quite like the pain
Of knowing you’ve been forgotten

A promise of support, thrown away
A promise of deliverance from hell

Broken
Shattered
Turned to dust

Because when you live in Hades
And you feel a cool breeze caress you

Only to have the flames close back in
It’s not just a carrot that was dangled

It’s hope, torn from your shaking hands
Sandpaper tissue that wiped your tears

And you’re not sure what’s more raw
Your cheeks or your heart

Friendship shouldn’t be conditional on
Convenience or personal gain

But that’s
Just
My luck

Late Night Reflections Part I

I’m doing the part 1 thing here because I know this is going to happen more than once, so here goes.

I’m having a LOT of trouble with anger and letting go. I know it’s a matter of finding the right perspective to allow me to let go and find compassion, but dear god, it’s like pulling teeth sometimes. There’s so much injustice in this world, and I’m someone who feels the pain of others deeply, which leads to anger at the maltreatment of others. It’s hard to see something like the news coming from Chicago (which boils down to “if you don’t have a job or college lined up, you won’t get your diploma”) which harms marginalized communities more than privileged ones and not be angry. The line of thinking that says “They’re pushing their suffering on others” doesn’t work as well when it’s someone in a position of institutional power causing mass suffering (see the majority of the US government at the moment).

I know that I’m supposed to let go of anger. I know that I’m supposed to help where I can and to let go where I can’t help, but something like this is hard. I look at my child, my sweet, innocent little one, and it angers me because I know, statistically speaking, he’ll have trouble finding a job when he’s older thanks to bias against people with autism not only in the job market, but in school, too. And that’s provided he can work (this isn’t a judgement on anyone or to say that autistic people can’t work, but I refuse to place value on whether or not one can work, which is what this policy does, and some autistic people can’t work for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t make them less worthy of graduating) or go to college (see the last parenthetical and insert the appropriate phrasing for higher ed).

I think of other parents, and what this is going to do to their children, and it hurts me. It hurts to know that disprivileged children are going to suffer for elitists’ policy. It hurts that there are people who lack any shred of empathy, sympathy, or compassion that they would condemn children to a future that virtually guarantees poverty. And I don’t know how to let go of that right now.

It’s not just that situation, either. It’s the entirety of the world and its atavism toward others. Between wars waged on ideological differences and extremism, hatred of others based on differences that are nothing more than constructs, and myriad other things, the world hurts me on a deep, visceral level that’s hard to navigate to work through without feeling overwhelmed.

As a child, I would look at pictures of the earth from space and think “Why do we divide ourselves up? We’re all people of earth, why can’t we act like we are?” I miss that innocence, because as I grew older, I realized the only reason we do so is to maintain supremacy over others. Who has the most land, the best land, the best technology, the most money, it’s all essentially a pissing contest for lack of a better phrase. We kill, attack, hurt, starve, lash out against one another because we want to prove we’re the best, and it makes no sense.

To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we’re all riding around on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam, with no hope of help coming from somewhere else. Yet we refuse to act like it and allow our baser instincts to rule us instead of fighting against them and acting as if we’re a global community. We seek to oppress to establish dominance, we seek to oppress to establish supremacy, and it’s saddening, sickening, and yes, infuriating.

Maybe that’s the challenge of this life for me. Maybe I was put here because in a former life, I was one of those people who sought to oppress and I need to learn to let go. I don’t know. I can’t know with any certainty. However, I do know I need to find a way past it so I don’t bring more suffering into my own life, and into the world.

There’s no point to this post. It’s me ranting and thinking out loud, as well as talking into the void. If you find some comfort in this post, I’m glad. If it’s angered you somehow, I’m sorry. If it’s made you think or brought you to a greater realization of how to let go of anger over situations you can’t control…well, please share it with me because I could use the help. 🙂

/fin

Compassion and People Who Hurt Me

The biggest stumbling block I’ve come across since beginning my journey with Buddhism is compassion. In a world where people will hate me for not falling in with the gender binary, for not falling under heteronormative standards, for being disabled, for being a single parent, for having a uterus, finding compassion toward people who don’t like me for the sole sin of daring to live has seemed impossible for a long time. I struggle with it every day.

It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t battle with it, and most days, I lose at one point or another. I’m human, and I’m learning. I accept this. I also know that when I give in to that anger, I’m just bringing more suffering on myself by allowing that anger to consume me. But tonight, post-meditation, I had an epiphany related to compassion and the hatred toward me and people like me, and it seems so obvious now I can’t believe it didn’t smack me in the face before.

These people so filled with hate for others who are different than them, the bigots of the world who want others to suffer, are more than likely lashing out because they’re suffering, even if they don’t realize it. They choose to spread vitriol at others in order to make them feel better about themselves, they choose to inflict suffering on other people, and they do this because they’ve chosen to live a life of ignorance. It isn’t a judgement on them, it’s just a fact. They make a conscious choice to cling to hatred and ignore any views other than their own, and because of that, because they cling to their superiority, it causes them to suffer.

Rather than examine themselves and their lives, they lash out, trying to drag others who are living an authentic life down to their level, in order to maintain that delusion of superiority. And if you ask me, that’s a sad life, one devoid of any sort of happiness or peace, one that only results in them suffering more.

Granted, some of them may not feel they’re suffering. Some may even brag of their happiness. But a person who’s happy, a person who’s at peace with their life, won’t feel the need to attack others. They won’t feel the need to hurt others, or to try and cause them misery.

(That’s not to say that all people who treat others well are happy. Good people, people who seek to make others’ lives better, can be happy, sad, even angry. It all depends on the person.)

And for as angry as I can get (and hopefully, that’ll soon be in the past), with this realization, all I can feel is…it’s not sadness for them, or pity. I feel bad for them that their lives are that soaked in suffering and that devoid of meaning that they have to lash out. I can (at least at the moment, I can’t promise it’ll hold because once again, I’m only human) actually feel a measure of compassion for them, because I know what it feels like to feel that frustration with life, to be ignorant of basic things when it comes to others.

I chose to move away from that years ago, and chose to move toward inner peace a few years ago. It’s not an easy decision to make. It means letting go of all those things that you felt you were righteously angry over, and learning to let go. For someone with trauma in their past, like me, it’s an exercise in inner strength that I’m still trying to master.

But the people who never choose to take that first step? The people who would rather live with a cloud of prejudice surrounding their head to block any other views? I feel badly for them, because they’re only bringing suffering on themselves for that. You reap what you sow, what you send out comes back to you, love thy neighbor, you see it everywhere, and it’s true. And I can only hope that they wake up to the fact that, while life is full of suffering, there’s no reason to cling to it. It doesn’t make you better, or stronger, or superior. It only makes life harder for you.

Disclaimer: In the above entry, I speak only for myself, and to my view of things. I can’t promote this way of thinking for everyone, because your mileage may vary with this sort of thinking. Also, I’m not saying that everyone brings suffering on themselves. Some people just get really, really crappy hands dealt to them. All I’m saying is that if you’re awful to other people just because they’re different, you’re causing undue suffering in your own life. I can’t say that you have to like people who treat you badly, because I’m still working at that and it’s a completely understandable reaction to dislike people who directly hurt you.
I’m still working at having compassion for the people who’ve hurt me in life, and it’s something that I hope to one day achieve, but I can’t say for certain I will. All I can do is hope I do, and work at it, for the sake of not having this anger in me anymore, because that anger has eaten me alive, and I’m tired of devoting energy to people who didn’t care about me.

Monster in Full View

Her “I love you”s are loaded with venom
Thorns in steel wool across my skin
“I’ll keep you safe from the world
(But not from me. Never from me.)”

I think it’s normal when I grow up
And lovers belittle me
Leaving little razor blade cuts
In the wake of their words

I think it’s normal when friends
Push me and ignore boundaries
Because I’ve never set any for myself
(Boundaries are an insult)

I adapt to the situation I’m in
My colors shifting with my surroundings
But always dull and lifeless
A cheap imitation of what I see

Fear lives at the base of my skull
A cozy little home it’s made there
Married to doubt, birthing sadness
(The unhappy little family mirrors my own)

I look at my child and think
“How could anyone purposely cause
Someone so innocent misery?
How could anyone hurt a child?”

Being a beacon of vicarious wins
Being the one who was meant to live her life
Being the one who had to be perfect
(Being made to be ‘normal’, for her sake)

“Don’t do that, people will judge you
Sit still, stop that, you have so much potential
What is wrong with you, why can’t you
Just be normal.

Making me feel smaller than I was
With daggers spat at me in public
Being told I was ‘too fat’ to wear things
(“They’ll make fun of you!”)

Being made to stay in the closet
Being made to conform despite
Knowing my brain didn’t work like hers
Being shamed for being different

Gaslights flicker when I ask her why
When I scream and cry and curl up
When I tell her I hurt because of her
(“I would NEVER do such a thing!”)

It’s always my fault in her eyes
I’m the problem because I won’t just
Fall in line, shut up, sit down.
I want to be seen, heard and acknowledged

I always checked for monsters under my bed
No one told me that sometimes
The monsters don’t bother to hide
(Sometimes they’re the ones tucking you in)

Scoliosis (Or How I Learned It’s More Than A Back Problem)

(Note: I’m gonna be blogging a lot about what I’m going through with my health because of the national conversation around the repeal of the ACA and its replacement with the tax cut for rich people that they’re claiming is a health care bill)

My first exposure to scoliosis was a childhood friend (we’ll call her Annie). Annie was my best friend for a long time. I knew her in our little Catholic grade school. One day, she came in wearing a back brace. I was scared as hell. I thought maybe she broke her back or something. But when she explained it to me, I took it for what it was (she needed her back to be straight, like my retainer on my teeth, but for her spine) and moved on.

She never explained what it was like. Whether that was out of concern for me worrying, or just because she didn’t think it was relevant, I don’t know (we lost touch a few years ago).

But I came to learn what even somewhat mild/moderate scoliosis entails through firsthand experience.

I went undiagnosed for a long time. In fact, it took me getting into a car accident and needing a spinal x-ray at 27 for it to be properly diagnosed. But the signs were there. I’d had uneven shoulders and hips from the age of 11, and it was noticeable enough that my mother commented on it and started taking me to chiropractors. (I can’t hold this against her, she didn’t know that the practice of chiropractics may help some, but not those with scoliosis, let alone scoliosis we didn’t know I had).

I knew I had back pain, but I assumed it was because I was sleeping in the wrong positions and clumsy as hell for the longest time. I didn’t know my clumsiness was likely caused in part by the scoliosis.

And once I was diagnosed, I saw “scoliosis rarely causes pain” over and over on various sites. I kept thinking “Well, it’s all in my head.” And knowing how wrong they were now, I kinda wanna take everyone who wrote that crock of shit lie, take them by the shoulders, shake them, and tell them off. Because dear GOD, is that a lie.

Not only does it cause back pain, but it causes pain all over. I deal with pain every day. Some days, it’s a 4 or 5, just in the back and hips. Other days, my knees crunch, my hips are on fire and my back is a giant knot. Sometimes, it’s a combination of various pains, like today. My hips are killing me, my knees sound like they’re full of rice krispies, and my head and shoulders are aching (one shoulder is actually 2 inches lower than the other right now).

I’m just having a really hard time with it. I can’t help but think that, if someone had bothered to look instead of saying “Well, Fionnuir seems fine, and considering they don’t have problems with being active on the playground, there’s probably nothing wrong,” then maybe I wouldn’t be in the pain I’m in today. Maybe there wouldn’t be two inches difference between heights of my shoulders and hips. Maybe I wouldn’t have sciatic issues and knee issues and constant pain and headaches. Maybe I wouldn’t be miserable so much.

But, yet again, ableism is a bastard of a thing. We look at whether the person is able to move freely, rather than taking a deeper look at why something’s off in their body, and this is the result. Twenty years later, after the first signs started to show, I’m sitting here in what feels like an annoyingly-tightly-wound rubber band of a body on good days and a torture device turned body on a bad day.

Believe people when they say something’s wrong. Don’t ignore obvious signs that something’s off, especially in your kids. Don’t think that something like shoulders and hips being misaligned is a result of a ‘boisterous child who’s clumsy’. For your kids’ sakes, for your sake, for EVERYONE’S sake, don’t ignore red flags, because eventually it’s going to go from being a warning to an active problem that can rob someone of their ability to function without pain, and it can end with them feeling like red-hot pokers are jabbing them all over.

So my next adventure is to try and get to orthopedist (along with a dermatologist for my eczema, and possibly an allergist, as the past few days spent outside have seen my itching increase). I’ll be documenting that here, so I’m sure that’ll be an exceptionally fun ride.

The Hell That is Eczema

I wasn’t going to write this entry, because it really seems kind of weird to complain about it. Eczema, while it is an autoimmune disease, is a mild one in the grand scheme of things. But that doesn’t change the fact that today is hell. Itchy, burning, painful hell. So screw it.

I’m having a pretty severe flare. Below are picture of (in order) my arm, my back (midback up, I had to take the picture myself from over my shoulder), my neck, and my hands.

All those bumps and red patches? Are itchy and painful as hell. Add to that, my hands are swollen thanks to the flare, so there’s double the pain there. Motrin takes the edge off, but dear god, it still hurts.

People hear eczema, they think “Oh, it’s not that bad.” That’s what I thought until I was diagnosed with it after about 3 months of living with a flare in my armpits that caused cracking, itchy skin so severe that I started bleeding from it. (My doctor misdiagnosed me with a fungal infection, despite the fact that all the antifungals she prescribed never took care of it. I’m STILL pretty miffed over that.)

I got a proper diagnosis from the doctor I’m with now (someone who listens to my concerns and actually doesn’t brush it off when I tell her something) and while I’m treating it with a steroid cream she prescribed me, it takes a while for it to work. I don’t know for certain what my flares are caused by, so I don’t know what to avoid to keep them from becoming so severe, but I do know that I’m likely not going to be able to keep skating by on just the cream. I may have to start taking something stronger for it, which means adding another medication to my list (Yay. :|)

And don’t get me started on the looks I’ve been getting. I went out today to a little craft show they hold in my town, where local artists and creators of all kinds of products come from around the state to sell their stuff. People were looking at the spots on my neck, my arms, and what was exposed of my back, and wincing, grimacing, or doing the ‘wide eyed stare and look away quick before they think they’re caught’ thing. Not exactly a fun day for someone looking to get their kid out for a walk and enjoy their day.

On top of all that, I have to worry about whether it’s worth trying to get a new medication in light of the current situation with health care. Mine is in danger. Typical treatments for eczema that affect the immune system are around $50K a year, which I can’t afford, and I don’t even know if I can use them due to being so susceptible to pneumonia (which I’m STILL fighting off the last remnants of).

Yeah. Today is itchy, burning, painful hell with a side of stress. The only plus side to all of this is that my (normally ‘it could be worse’ spouting) mother is being surprisingly sympathetic and helping me. I think it’s because she can see the physical signs of this and knows it’s driving me up a wall. But all in all, today’s shitty and I just wanna curl up into a ball and fall asleep until this all passes.