Back in the day, this song was my life distilled into verse. These lyrics represented everything I held in my heart—-pain, frustration, failure, hopelessness, and an intense burning hatred of myself; and Johnny’s haunting vocals set a tone that matched what I was experiencing inside. Although I have healed so much, I often come back to this song. You never really escape that level of self-harm and self-destruction, you just learn to accept what is and be willing to improve as much as you can day by day. This song sings to my deepest truths and my darkest fears, and yet listening to it is a form of homecoming. Even though I used a knife instead of a needle, the lyrics ring true—-
The needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything.
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
everyone I know
in the end
Here’s a helpful hint to all those do-gooders out there, those people who crave gold stars and merit badges, those who always color inside the lines, only have one glass of wine, and paint & live by the numbers: you’re all suckers. That’s right, I’m calling you out. You think that by being good, you’re gonna get a free pass to happy. You’re gonna get the girl, save the world, be greeted at the pearly gates with a pat on the back and a commemorative plaque. Well, that’s BULLSHIT. Being good with the expectation of some sort of reward is nothing but a big squishy wad of dog shit. I know, I used to be one of you. I used to play by the rules, be respectful, fight fair. And where did it get me? In the fucking hospital, trying to slice the veins out of my wrists. There is no fucking payoff. You don’t get what you give. You get what you get, and you learn to make the fucking best of whatever hand you’re dealt. You don’t get through life with good marks or nice behavior, you get through it with the slickest goddamn poker face you can muster, whatever allows you to successfully manipulate everyone around you into thinking you know what you’re doing when really you’re empty inside and have no fucking clue how to play what you’ve got. So to all of you who think there’s a heaven, to everyone who thinks you’re going to be rewarded for what you do in this life or the afterlife, with happiness or a score of naked virgins, I have four little words for you: Wake The Fuck Up. Life isn’t a fairy tale, there are no happy endings, only a series of moments which make being here worthwhile, which are completely disconnected from what we do or do not do. Suit up, show up, fill your cup and grow up. Be bad. It’s fun.
Umm…..I don’t “need” you. That’s very egocentric of you to think that that’s my reason for doing all this. I didn’t try to make amends with you and revive our friendship because I “needed” you for anything, I just thought it was the right thing to do and truly missed our friendship. I’d hoped that we could learn put the past aside and develop a newer, better friendship than we had before, but if you’re not able to do that, I’m truly sorry. I understand how you feel, and much of your anger is justified, but don’t you goddamn DARE judge me and tell me that I’m the same person that I was, that “You need to realise that you can live your life and do things on your own.”. Despite what you may think of me, I AM better. I AM happy. I’ve healed and grown and have an AMAZING life filled with wonderful people and animals, and I regularly work to help those who have been in my position in any way that I can. I underwent MONTHS of treatment and experiences that to most would be horrific and traumatizing; but I stuck with it, worked hard, and I came out a healthier, better person. And you know what? I DID IT WITHOUT YOU. I did it ON MY OWN, with the help of those who know and love me, and I’m truly sorry that I can’t count you on that list. If you really think that people can’t change, if you can’t see how fucking HARD I worked to try and make amends with you (NOT ‘cause I “need” you, just because I care), if you’re really willing to base your entire perception of who I am now on a few messages and a single conversation that we had after I was vulnerable because I’d just lost the woman who I thought was my soulmate **not you**, then you really don’t know me, and I don’t think we would make very good friends.
Good luck. I hope you grow up someday.
Something phenomenal has happened.
No, phenomenal doesn’t even begin to cover it.
You see, ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that my one quest in life has been to find a partner, a lover, some incredible female that will be my other half and walk 5 hundred miles and lift me up where I belong and all that Proclaimers Buffy Sainte-Marie shit. If I’m being honest, this has actually been something of an obsession for me. I’ve run through crush after crush after exhausting crush, which has led to heartbreak after heartbreak. If recollection serves me, I believe I’ve been lifted to the heights of amore only to be shot down by the bayonet of rejection at least ten times in the last year alone. The last time, however, I actually thought I’d met “the one”…that magical person who was supposed to herald the Golden Age of Me-dom…and ended up flying a bit too high and falling far too hard. I believed that love had forsaken me, that life had forgotten me, that the peace and fulfillment that I’d craved since time immemorial would forever be denied me. In short, I gave up. Which is kinda dangerous for a suicidal person, as any self-harmer can attest to.
I was a woman possessed, and my aim was destruction of my self. I began to cut again, moving beyond the amateur child’s play of merely slashing my left arm and beginning to slice my face. They were fine, small marks, but their meaning implied graver significance than their apparent severity…I had given up. I was done. Goodbye cruel world and all that nonsense.
Eventually, the storm died down. It was, as usual, my work with my animal friends that saved my (tempeh) bacon. 6 new goats arrived at the sanctuary, and I made it my mission to provide them with all the love that I didn’t allow myself. That, combined with exercise, helped to lift me out of my haze of self-harm and into the first real happiness that I had felt in a while. I was calm, even, and content. But there was still something missing.
My last experience with love had left my heart bruised, and I couldn’t bear or bring myself to even glance at another with so much as a fraction of the affections that I had held for “her” *what, you didn’t think I was going to name names, did you? *Tsk* Gossipy Gooses T_T*. I didn’t want romance, but still I held that surging, ineffable craving in my soul, and for the first time I realized that I had no idea what I really wanted. All this time I had been searching for romance in order to feed this insatiable hunger, and all this time I was crippling my search with such infantile limitations.
It was around this time that my parents and I decided to invite Rowsdower into our family. Rowsdwer: a tiny, furry handful of wiggly, kissy, snuggly love. I had only seen him in pictures my father had shown me, but I was instantly smitten. At first my excitement was confined to the normal level any human with a working, feeling heart experiences when they realize they are going to be in close, prolonged proximity of a puppy **puppies just do that to people :p**. I highly anticipated the cuteness, but that was all. I assumed my father would take over as the chief caregiver, as he’d found Rowsdower and had recently lost his own dog to old age. I thought I would enjoy my role as the auntie, safely detached but able to reap all the benefits of his adorableness.
But, as the time between the consensus to adopt him and actually bringing him home drew shorter and shorter, I began to feel something stir inside me, something ancient and powerful. I had no idea what it was at the time, but it compelled me to adopt a level of responsibility I was unaccustomed to: extensive research of puppy care and training, exhaustive inquiries to vet clinics and friends about the benefits of a vegan diet for a dog, and hours and hours of planning for the little guy’s first week at home. I love animals, but I’d never been “the responsible one” before….I’d usually gotten animals as a child, and my parents attended to the more complex facets of puppy rearing.
When I first met and held Rowsdower, the dark, moldy roof of my life caved in. After years of searching, I felt light and air and freedom and saw what lay beyond my limiting, feeble concept of love. I know it sounds crazy, but I knew how mothers must feel upon first setting eyes on and arms around their child. I felt love and reverence and awe without me, and I felt something indescribably old and wise rise within me. All this I felt simply by holding him, and when he first curled up in my arms, when he first looked at me, I understood the allure of parenthood, I understood love songs **the clean ones**, I understood what I’d been looking for. I loved that little boy with all my heart, and his well-being was all that mattered in the world, even over my own.
I didn’t mind when he puked on my sleeve in the car. I didn’t mind when he peed on my bed or on the floor. It tore my heart out when he cried in his crate at night, but I wasn’t annoyed. He was perfect, all of him.
I never wanted to be a mom, in fact, I believed I’d been born devoid of any sort of maternal instinct. But, as any mom will confirm, only a mother could write what I’ve written above. Only one who has seen a bit of her soul in a small one and heard the call to nurture it’s tiny flame of life into a roaring fire. Mothers are not just the woman whose nether regions you popped out of. I believe mothers are who loves you, who raises you, who sees your light and works with every fibre of her being to let it shine bold and bright. I’ve never wanted to be a mother, but being a mommy to my little Rowsdower has filled the gap I’ve held inside for ever.
As I write this, Rowsdower is curled up asleep in my lap, the music of Gustav Holst is wafting softly through the speakers on the computer, and, for the first time in my life, I feel complete. I have no need or desire for a relationship, I have no need or desire to change myself, I have no need or desire for anything. A month ago, the prospect of spending Valentine’s Day without a lover would have been terrifying, perhaps even grounds for self-mutilation. But now, the opportunity to spend America’s favorite Hallmark holiday with my adopted furry son is the absolute best gift I could hope for.
I’m happy. I’m complete. I’m a mom.
Fuck yeah, moms! <3
Yesterday, thanks to fate and the wonderful presence of my delightful friend Ciddy Fonteboa (known far and wide as the “Cruelty-Free Latina”), I returned to the practice of meditation after a loooooong hiatus, and DAMN DOES IT FEEL GOOD! :D I’ve already had so many revelations and epiphanies in my two sessions of inner seeking, but the most profound one has to be the discovery of heart hugs.
I discovered heart hugs **or they discovered me :P** during a meditation session led by the fabulous Mr. Noah Levine at his center on Melrose. During the meditation, I was experiencing a great deal of pain. Not unlike most of the population, when I’m out of my spiritual practice, I find myself avoiding mindfulness as diligently as a monk pursues it. It’s like a bizarre Benny Hill sketch where I’m constantly running away from all my problems in fast-motion while that damn theme song plays and the credits roll, and the longer I run from my crowd of problems, the larger it grows. When I do finally stop to face them, it’s like being hit in the face by a particularly large tidal wave. This is the sort of state I was in during Noah’s session—-drowning in the cold, salty waters of the tide I’ve spent a long time stemming.
In the midst of the turmoil, I heard Noah say something about being tender to our own fragile, tender hearts. As if by magic, an idea suddenly struck me—why don’t I give my own heart a hug? I imagined my heart, so bruised and beaten, and imagined giving that poor little guy a big squishy hug. I was suddenly filled with the sensation of my heart not only healing, but expanding. I suddenly began to pulsate, my small gesture of self-love giving birth to a feeling of universal love for all of creation and the beings therein. That one small gesture, that tiniest of measures of self-care, was all that was needed to turn myself from a self-pitying wounded creature to a being that exuded pure love and compassion. The feeling, of course, ebbed and flowed, but I’ll never forget that pulsation of pure adoration for all that is, including myself.
I know this all might sound hippie-dippy, and I’d be skeptical of such an experience if I read it myself, but this is 100% authentically my experience. I like to think I know how everything works and that there’s no real surprises in the world **at least not pleasant ones :p**, but I’m very happy to admit that I am so very wrong, and I’m so grateful to be back in the practice of learning to heal, live and love :)
A lot of people don’t know this, but until I was 15, I was very obese, and until I was 17, I was constantly teased for the way I looked. Complete strangers would taunt me as I walked past, calling me names, asking each other **or me** what my gender might be; girls wrinkling their noses in disgust or averting their piteous gazes, boys staring at me all-out bug-eyed or turning to their least favored friend and declaring “Look, that’s your girlfriend” (to which the friend almost always responded with audible disgust). For most of my life, my body was a prison. Few cared to look past my appearance to discover and value who I was inside, and those who did were still met with suspicion and wariness on my part, since I felt that my obvious grotesque-ness made me vulnerable to judgement and scrutiny from all sides, from all people.
Things changed when I was 15, and I decided I wanted too change my appearance. A lot of my motivation came from a desire to be healthier, but really, I just wanted to like myself, and I felt that that could only happen if other people liked me, and (at least in my adolescent mind), that would only happen if I became “pretty”.
So, for the next four years, my sole motivation in life was to look “pretty”. I lost weight and **forced myself** to be more outgoing. To everyone else, it looked like I had finally emerged from my shell of shy fat and had come into my own, but really, I just wanted to be someone else, and changing my body was the key to my transformation. I had an ideal in mind, and I put my entire life on hold to pursue it. I would deny invitations to gatherings and parties if it meant temptation to eat, I would forsake the opportunity to make friends if it conflicted with my workout schedule, and I would CONSTANTLY, INCESSANTLY, PERSISTANTLY obsess over my weight, which was just never low enough. I became addicted to validation, craving the praise and esteem that came with weight loss. No matter how much you way, you’re suddenly Harry Fucking Houdini on a Gold Pedestal when you’re losing weight. Everyone gawks at you and fawns over your trick, your seeming ability to shrink effortlessly, and everyone wants to know the secret behind your act. But that’s just what it is, an act: when I was losing weight, I was no better a person than I am now. No smarter, no kinder, no wiser. I just knew how to sufficiently numb my body and mind so that it could endure the proper punishment required to reduce its mass, which for whatever fucking reason gave me the attention and validation that had eluded me my entire young life. I was actually less of a person when I was at that stage, because I had no self. My entire self was tied up in the attention I received from others for my looks.
As time progressed, my weight loss became concerning. I was too thin. I was constantly freezing, my skin was dry as a desert floor, I was often dizzy and fatigued, and oftentimes even the idea of eating was so frightening that I would procrastinate against meals for as long as I could hold out. My saving grace had become a serious problem. I couldn’t see it of course, because between having been fat my entire life and the expectations placed on my young mind by images of women in the media, I had no idea what a woman looked like, let alone that they came in different perfectly loveable shapes and sizes. For me, there was only ONE shape, and if I couldn’t fit into it….well, life just wouldn’t be worth living. I’d probably kill myself. Also, it’s hard to see something as a problem when you’re getting such desirable results. I was suddenly “the hot one”. My life was like a bad rap song: when I’d walk by, men AND women would gape at me and blatantly follow me with their eyes. I was encouraged to model, I was constantly told how beautiful I was by strangers and friends alike, and I was actually openly envied by a few of my friends and associates. I had arrived to where I had always dreamed of, but there was still a problem….
…my anorexic mind. No weight was low enough, and I still believed that I was fat. When I recieved a complement, I would brush it off with an honest conviction that the person was either graciously kind or someone who possessed very poor taste. I was where I had always wanted to be, but it didn’t bring me happiness. I still hated myself and, at the same time, had no self. And, as time and pounds went by with no sign of finding peace or serenity in sight, I was starting to panic.
Somewhere along the line, just when I’d reached the peak of what I now know was anorexia, I turned on a dime. My depression had increased exponentially, and I had discovered that, even though I had pushed my body to its limits, the validation and superficial attention would never replace true self-love. Tired, depressed and HUNGRY, I gave up my false dream and, with no other comfort apparent to me in my bleak little life, I turned to food. Since I had deprived myself of most fats, carbs, and sweets for years, those are exactly the foods I turned to when I once again allowed myself to eat what I wanted. As could be expected, I gained weight rapidly. The attention and praise diminished, replaced by awkward glances and averted eyes. I was beyond caring, my plan was to commit suicide, so who cared what I looked like?
When I was saved by my experiences in mental health centers and **most of all** my friendship with rescued farm animals, I found the sense of self that I was always looking for. I had become pudgy again, but I finally loved myself and valued my inner worth, regardless of what others saw or thought. It’s a wonderful feeling, and most of my everyday life is filled with it. In keeping with my journey to discover and value my inner self, I shaved my head **a Hindu practice which signifies surrendering vanity to a higher power**. I didn’t care what anyone thought, I was happy.
This last week, things have been bumpy, and I feel a lot like I did in middle school. In the last five days, there have been four different occasions in which people—-strangers, family members, “friends”, and coworkers—-have made ignorant, rude, and even outright cruel comments about my weight and appearance. They’ve questioned me about my gender, criticized my choices in appearance **mainly the piercings and my preference for casual clothes**, and just been….mean. I’ve had more tearful breakdowns this week than I have in pretty much my entire life. Death, loss, unrequited love, and even my own former suicidality seem to pale in comparison to the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, I’m not the pretty girl I always wanted to be.
See, to me, it’s about the weight, but it’s NOT about the weight, because the weight isn’t even about the weight. The weight is about power. It’s a scapegoat. I blame everything unfortunate on my appearance. If I’m hopelessly in love with a girl who barely even acknowledges my existence, it must be because I’m too ugly. If I’m not successful, it’s because I’m not pretty enough. If I’m lonely, it’s because I’m fat. I’m more involved in my life than I ever have been before, so this recent blow to my self esteem has hit hard. I’ve pretty much been hiding from the world as much as possible since Monday, because I’m so scared of what people will say to me, what cruel word will shatter my self-esteem and how far it all might push me.
Right now, before writing this, I visited my animal and human friends at the barn, so I have a bit more clarity now than I have had all week. I’ve had some time to mull things over and received the sufficient amount of goat cuddles and kisses to clear my head, and this is what I think.
Jesus fucking H. Christ, what the fuck is wrong with people?? Why are appearances so fucking god damn important to people? I’ve been up and down and all around with my weight, and fuck it, this whole “ideal” we’re all supposed to reach is such a crock of bullshit. If you’re gonna say shit to me, that’s on your soul. If you really feel the need to say something so rude, so hurtful, so unnecessary, than I feel bad for you, because you are so fucking limited as a human being. You can only look at the world in terms of what OTHER people have told you is important, and you’ll never be happy. The whole “get thin get happy” thing is a fucking lie. No one wants to hear that, because we’re sold on the fact that our appearance is the gateway to eternal happiness and all that fairy fart shit. In fact, several industries DEPEND on us to buy into that fake dream, and so many of us do. But do you know what? It’s all fucking relative. I may not be comfortable at the size I’m at now, but I’m way fucking happier than I was when I was “ideal”. With time and healing, my body will return to its natural, healthy shape. But in the meantime, WHO FUCKING CARES. People have tried to console me this week by telling me to exercise, telling me I shouldn’t have cut my hair, telling me I should fix my teetch and get rid of my piercings and change myself all sorts of fucking ways. Well, you know what? I have one thing to say to you:
I don’t care anymore. I don’t need your approval. So I look like a boy. So I don’t wear makeup. So I like piercings and tattoos and scary movies and not eating animals. So the girl I like doesn’t love me back. Well WHOOP DEE FUCKING DOO. Sure, it hurts, but blaming myself hurts more, and you know what? I didn’t do anything fucking wrong. I’m just another human being trying to enjoy the time I’ve got here, and goddamn it, I’m a good person. I deserve love, happiness, respect, and common fucking courtesy regardless of whether I’m hot or not. I’ve been “hot”, and that didn’t bring me happiness. I just want to be myself, regardless of what that looks like on the outside. So if you have a problem with me, if I disturb you, if there’s anything about my appearance that you feel the pressing, burning need to express,
‘cause I don’t give two shits or a rat’s ass. If you’re too narrow-minded to accept me as I am, I honestly don’t want to waste my time with you.
I want to write about you, but I don’t know what to say. How can you distill a symphony of feeling into mere words? The way I feel about you is more like music than letters…the soaring crescendos that lift my heart high enough to dance with the stars, the softest melodies that break it with their sweetness.
You hold my heart and make it smile. You make my soul sing folk songs and play the banjo while keeping time on the tambourine. You touch me and I’m on fire. You look at me and I’m frozen in your gaze. I guess what I really want to say is….I really, really like you <3