A Different Kind of Crazy

As I sat across from my mother and really looked at her face and tiny frame, I saw her age, frailty and worry lines for the first time. Her life has not been easy. It has been fucking brutal. She has endured and cared for too many loved ones suffering mental illness. Every decade of her life has been spent caring for a loved one, someone other than herself.

Not like in a motherly way, but in a dangerous, ferocious one. She suffers no fools, and fought battles others could not begin to comprehend. She’s grown tired now, the cruelty of age and time have caught up with her, no matter how hard I try to stop the clock. Just stop, so we can be a young mother and daughter having fun without the unspoken, inevitable future speeding up.

It had to be so very sad, watching your nearest and dearest slip away into madness. I cannot understand her tears, fears or the fight from her perspective. I cannot know her sadness, exhaustion or disappointments.
I only know our story, and my earth shattering diagnosis. Having her as my ally, my champion and advocate of my crazy has been my greatest gift, that one that drives me to stay. Here, on earth. To come back when I drift too far off into the madness. Her voice, and stabling presence has made living with manic depression manageable. Bearable. Almost.

Some days, I am not a nice person. I can be mean and ugly and terrified. Some days I am filled with rage and jealousy. I do not want to be here, day after day enduring this pain. She understands, she’s watches me slip away unable to think straight. I wonder how it feels to carry so much weight. Some days are so heavy and dark; it’s hard to breathe. She sees how bad it gets. I don’t tell her, I don’t sugarcoat. I don’t have to. She knows.

I carry suicide in my back pocket. She understands, and still asks me to stay. It’ll get better, there’s good coming around the corner. She wills me to stay. We both understand the gut wrenching pain of suicide, and that willing it to be ok is not how mental illness works. It is a vicious, raging bastard disease and does not discriminate. She is the keeper of my crazy. She knows I will do my very best not to break her anymore than life has already.

I don’t always win, I scream and cry. I rage. She never complains; never gets angry. She waits for the mercurial moods to subside. They do by the grace of god and willpower, eventually. She doesn’t show emotion, at least not in front of me. Lord knows she has good reason to sob and sob and curse for days. But, goddamn it she always finds the joy. In the simplest, most mundane things.

We are so different, her and I. I’m forever jumping ahead, or behind. She’s not, she’s omnipresent. As much as I try to will myself happy, some days my mind has other plans. But this story isn’t about me. It’s about her, and just how much life she has sacrificed and gifted away for her family. I try to imagine all the heartache she’s endured, and the joy too. I try to make her understand that I’m grateful, and do small things to lighten her load. Cut the grass, take out the trash, make the bed. Normal things that responsible people do. All the things she taught me a long, long, long time ago.

As we spend this closing chapter together in her home, the place she grew up, I try not to wallow. I can’t help it; I’m an emotional girl. Some days I despise the small minded, slow pace and my restless soul wants to flee. Get the fuck out of dodge, go anywhere but here. Be anywhere but here. But, I don’t. Because in reality, where the fuck am I running to?

I cannot outrun my crazy.
I cannot outrun my crazy.
I cannot outrun my crazy no matter how hard I pray and barter with god.

I can’t fix being sick. I cannot be a different me. A different daughter. I would if I could. I’d be better. I would be happy and healthy and carefree. Some days, my mind spares me minutes of peace. Laughter. I forget I woke shaking, and that I will tomorrow and probably the day after. I try desperately to quiet the noise. It takes willpower, patience and a shitload of pills.

She knows I wouldn’t want a different mother, no matter how many times I scream I hate you. And I do. Mostly, I hate myself. My mind plays tricks on me. She assures me I’m okay and not crazy. I’m doing fine; everything is good. She lies; she’s had a lot of practice. I wish she didn’t worry, that life had been kinder to her. But who escapes the pain of loving and living? Nobody. Not in the course of history.

I wish for her to young again. To remember a time when she danced with my father, smiling and carefree. I would want those minutes back, more than anything – except an easier life and family tree free from mental illness.

This journey may break me, but my mother’s strong, tough and ever present love is the armor and anchor of my life. I hope it has the wings to carry me forward. She has given me more love and compassion than any mother should. Only she has seen the depths of crazy I keep hidden from the world. She loves me more, not less. And, that’s a whole different kind of crazy. Wherever I go she is the rational voice in my head, she is my sanity. She is the strength and sword walking before me. Slaying dragons and shit on a spiritual gangster level. That makes me happy by proxy.

The Reluctant Feminist

Do not believe for one second that you cannot make a difference.
Do not shrink or cower in the face of adversity, ugliness, grifters, liars, abusers and rednecks.
Evil does not dwell in the homes of well-meaning, hard working, honest folk.
It hides inside the vaults of secrecy, power, greed and shame.
Concrete walls smeared in blood and envy.
Integrity still means something.
Morality still means something.
Patience and understanding still mean something.
Love means something.
Love means everything.
We must find our way back to each other; respect, empathy and honor.
I am a woman who will fight voraciously for her sisters (and brothers), who have endured unimaginable tragedy.
I am the reluctant feminist who chooses to believe that some men are good.
And in fact, some men are very good.
Lest we forget all the honorable fathers and brothers and boyfriends.
Seek them out.
Stand together before it’s too late and we’re ashes of hate, obliterated by the demons of monsters and a damned society.
Innocents devoured by ugliness and scars too horrific to recount.
Your body is not currency, it houses your soul.
If you see someone suffering an injustice, it is your duty and obligation to speak out.
This girl intends to forgive all the horrible things from her past and forge ahead.
Lighter than yesterday, and more determined.
This woman, this adult, this reluctant feminist revels in the femininity she has earned and wears proud.
This lady intends to leave the world a more beautiful, kind and safer place for all the daughters (and sons), who’ve yet to come.
A sacred space.
Your precious life is yours, and one sordid chapter is not the whole story.
You’re not finished.
So live it, leading with love.
Make sure you let it lift you up higher than fear and rage, carrying your burdens and strengths along the way.

 

Female Persuasion

Don’t worry if they don’t like you, worry when you despise yourself. In a world where you’re taught that pretty fits inside some prefabricated box, grab some scissors and create your own unique shape, one that your most comfortable in. Leave room for growth and femininity, as you navigate the highs and lows. Do not cower, quiver or apologize for being a strong woman with a voice, dream and vision. Do not change because someone makes you feel dirty or uncomfortable with the way you dress, wear your hair, or the sky-high pink stilettos you pair with a camouflage skirt. Personally, I prefer some kicking ass and taking names combat boots. In time you’ll learn to sit silently with your body in a crowded room without flinching, self-confidence your trusted companion. The gut will never lie, abuse or desert you. Nor will the truth. It won’t always be easy, the arduous journey or the various compromises being a woman presents. It won’t always be easy loving yourself. It’ll be hard, and there will be mountains of shame and self-doubt. You’re only human, girlfriend. Be authentically you. The you that has earned a well educated, thoughtful, and respected opinion is your sexiest asset. Be kind, but firm and take nobody’s bullshit. When a man tries to violate your sacred body, or whistles when you walk past, you have the absolute right to say nope, not today, not ever. And, fuck you. To the fathers and mothers who raise decent, respectful daughters and sons, I commend you. To the fathers, mothers and others who enable cowards, perverts and predators, I say fuck you. Fuck you for excusing disgusting behavior, and locker room banter bullshit. You, beautiful girl, did nothing wrong. Never apologize for being the lady you are, or the awkward young girl still becoming. Every single time a woman annihilates Pandora’s square box concealed with lies, abuse, rocks and shame, she frees others to do the same. You are worthy, and your story does not end with blame or shame. It begins anew, your body and innocence, reclaimed. 

Survivor

When life throws shit at you, and most assuredly it will, remember this.
I see you.
You are stronger than you think.
You are kinder, graceful, brighter, smarter, funnier, richer (and not monetarily), and unique.
On the days I forget and think manic depression will most definitely kill me, I dig deep. Who the hell knows where or when life’s reservoirs will dry up.
I don’t, neither do you.
Then, I remember. I am a goddamn, strong ass warrior and there are people who need, support and love me, same as you.
It’s okay to feel down, overwhelmed, anxiety ridden.
We all do, even the ‘normal ones.’
It’s okay to feel all the feels, cry, scream and curse.
I understand it is a hell of a lot harder living with a mental illness.
I was normal once, too.
You know what?
I’m no different than you.
You have your own set of problems and heartache, so remember – I got you.
I see you, I feel you and I’m rooting for you.
In this shiteous, chaotic, beautiful place that is the world right now find a little piece of joy in your heart.
Take care of it and watch it explode.
There is beauty in pain, and healing in holding on.
Surviving, thriving, living.
That’s life, that’s me, and that’s you.
You are the miracle. Rinse, and repeat.
Hate, resentment and anger have left the room. 

yours, truly

If I show you the inside of my heart you might die of frostbite
It’s black and frozen
There are no cracks or crevices, no sunbeams of light
Only the abyss and heaviness of the infinite
Suffocated breath
In this world, these times, these superficial plastic without purpose days
I’d like a rewind
I was born sad you see
Born with sadness in my marrow
Dripping from my old spirit bones
Born carrying the backbreaking weight of an unforgiving world
Bursting to break free
But where
Where to go?
There’s nowhere to hide when you sit with your soul
It’s not only pretty the insides of me
Most days you see cowboy grins and grit
Fuck that girly bullshit, party dresses and pearls
This life
This motherfucking life calls for stirrups, blue balls and cowboy boots
Most days I only show you the prettier faces of me
Not today
Today I cannot be bothered to hide
I cannot shake the yuck, the bad, the mean spirited
Fuck it
You get all of it, my bleeding ink pride
Do not get it twisted
We’re all ignorant
Dumb to think anything lasts but a minute
Feeling too much, not feeling enough
Feeling numb
Feeling let down, feeling sorry
Feeling hate, bitter, jealous
Feel rage
Feeling all the fucked up feelings
The negative wears down the positive
Honesty feels better, more euphoric and free
Better than being tortured
The Wild Mustang does not share the same mirror as you and me
It bucks and breaks fences running on the tailwinds of time
Graceful and free
Fuck the posers, the pretenders, the narcissists
Shouting into the void
Of a broken society
Do you see me?
Do you see me?
Well, do you see me?!
Whoa, turn down the volume, shut down the screens
Reveal yourself
Your true, unapologetic self and make amends
Do not hide waste time in the wallows
Where happy cannot find you
Only for today
You get the worst of me
And I’ll swallow the best
I’ll make peace with the pain
The ugly, selfish bitch of a human
Ripped open and vicious at times
I am mostly like you, crazy wild and longing
Destined to be forgotten
In less than the time it takes to miss out
On a moment
Where joy is yours for the taking
And unable to find
The insides of a happy heart

Screaming Skies

It is after all, just a life.
No bigger, no better.
I have breathed more shades, more pain, more joy, more crazy, more fear, more sadness than I thought possible to carry in this one body.
Death, song and daydreaming are my respites; temporary escapes from this swirling madness.
I inhale deeply, the rich, sweet smells of nature flooding my senses.
Music coursing the veins like venom.
I wait for signs of immortality, silly I know, settling for small inklings of hope.
I look down towards the dirt knowingly; seasons must change.
Time only cares how well we lived, and how much we’ve gifted away.
Haunting fading voices become chilling echoes of emotion, as new blossoms of possibility push their way through.
God must be in control of something, I pray to the sky and the sun and the music that lingers sweetly on the tongue, this underlying beauty and all her seasonal shifts will carry on.
We are nature’s finest and saddest creation, faceless shadows over time in all her mysterious pain and glory.
I don’t know how my story will end.
I can’t see it, but I can feel the sun inside the melodies of another.
I soak up the light on my face, my bones, on my skin breathing in the sultry colors.
Summer hangs out around the corner filling the abyss, mending the dagger chards of the scarred and broken hearted.
In my dreams, I already forgive you dying, leaving me here to navigate how many steps I must take in this imperfect body.
And I forgive myself too, for understanding far too well the aching need for the quiet night, and dark, brooding silence.
Some respite from the tortures of feeling too much.
And yet, I don’t stop breathing.
I am alive.
I wait patiently for the perfect cosmic moment, when the stars align sprinkling the earth with your beautiful essence, wisdom and woe.
You are all the raw diamonds left behind, and I catch goose bumps of you in between the summertime rain, on the winds of time.
You are home, and I am here, happy, hanging out for now.

 

Image Copyright: Tim Hale

Gravity

Young girl filled with big dreams it’s fine to carry on, all grown even when you cannot do it alone.
There will be others just like you who’ve survived the awkward teenager years, pimples, bruises and broken hearts.
They’ll care enough to remind you how perfectly precious you are.
It’s okay to fall or fuck up; when you’re doing your best.
Life will get harder than you can manage, but none of us carries the burden or heavy lifting alone.
I’ll be right here to remind you to soar.
I’ll be your gravity when you’re down in the dumps, spiraling out of your comfort zone.
Silly girl, your dreams will become quieter with age but never less full.
All the colors are yours to suit your mood.
I love you colorblind, and the blackest of Neptune’s blues.
You are prettier than the atmosphere three billion light years forgotten from here.
I will whisper in your ear when you’re fast asleep to always, always care.
To emote, to feel, to share.
To gift away love.
I hope you always, always care more.
Never, ever less.
No matter the cost.
Or the climate.
There are no grand secrets to surviving tragedy; it’s okay to experience pain and fear.
I will be here to keep your feet planted and your arms outstretched towards the stars, while tears cascade down your cheeks.
There will be many joyful, magic moments to sustain you.
I promise.
Living is pretty even when it hurts.
You are loved because of your flaws; more than rainbows, puppies, unicorns and silly human things.
I am gravity and I am here to help you stay grounded to the earth.
You are the cosmic miracle of constellations and suns and moons colliding and exploding in the stratosphere.
You are the happy accidental human, dying since way before birth.

Beautiful You

There is a lack of elegance, sexiness and mystery missing in photographs of women today, especially celebrities and the overexposed, blasé way they brand themselves and how they are portrayed through the lens.
Social media and fashion have made women seem like untouchable objects, loud, fake and even desperate at times.
The “look at me” culture screaming for more and more attention.
I have always had a more hate than love relationship with modeling and fame.
Yes, I realize that sounds trite.
I was a model, white and privileged.
But I was a young, impressionable girl, who today is a woman with decades away from the spotlight by choice and a fresh perspective.
I wonder when future generations look back at images of women will they be curious, or exhausted by the sheer volume?
I can only appreciate now the mystique of a three am shoot in Milan,
a lost era and the simple gesture of adjusting a dress, caught and frozen in time by the keen eye of a sharp photographer.
Women are magical creatures, real and raw and the most beautiful when unaware of themselves.
They do not need a movement to define their power; they have been beautiful, raw, strong, passionate warriors for centuries and centuries birthing ideals, children, and nurturing souls.
Less is more, so do not ever undervalue or compare yourself to someone else’s million followers.
Find your own unique way, and remember true beauty is forever more.

All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted was for you to be happy.
Without the clothes, the bling, the boys, all the heavy stuff.
To be deliriously happy without watching the tick-tock of the clock, afraid that your time for bliss had past.
It has not.
You deserve to feel joy, wonder, love and laughter until your heart beat’s quiet.
All I ever wanted was to see you smile wide and large, for you to feel the beats of your most favorite, carefree, wild and meaningful dance songs.
All I ever wanted was to make you a joyful and triumphant playlist to drown out the bullshit, the chatter and the background noise.
All I ever wanted was for you to forget about the world and her woes for a minute, and dance around in your big girl briefs out of the shadows and away from the dark.
Alone, and A-ok on your own, little darlin.’
Happiness is allowed and encouraged, it’s alright to wear your pain on the inside out, like an armor of loud love.
The gospel choir sings and claps jubilee come Sunday afternoon.
You can’t help yourself, you join in, a little lighter than yesterday.
There’s collective faith vibrating in the room.
You and you and you and me, right here and now, feeling free and a hint of happy, touching your fingers while tapping your toes.
Don’t ever let go of the soundtrack of a kind life that fills your heart and replenishes the soul.