In The Face of Trauma: Fatherless Daughter

Last month, my doctor asked if anything specific was triggering me. At the time, I couldn’t think of anything. Until a specific day came, and I broke down in tears for hours. It had been a long time since I’d allowed myself to do that. 😦

The majority of my breakdowns are quiet. Real quiet. As in, no one else ever knows they’re happening or suspects anything. They have no idea what to look for, either. They have no idea you’re struggling, and they say nothing to help you.

These breakdowns started in late 2002 when my father was in the hospital doing an experimental kidney cancer treatment. At the time, it was still a very rare type of cancer that few people had. He had already lost a kidney to cancer ten years prior. The treatment was via IV and he had to spend weeks on end in the hospital. The key side effects were that it could cause heart problems and/or worsen the cancer you already had. It did both. It took a pea sized tumor and turned it into a constant spread, which eventually became bone and brain cancer. One day, as he was leaving a doctor’s appointment, he turned to my brother and said, “Can you go upstairs and let the office know I’m going next door to the emergency room. I think I’m having a heart attack.”

I remember that phone call like it was yesterday. My whole body tenses up because I truly remember every word. My brother was so panicked and freaked out, and he needed me to do everything. He was frozen and upset, and those are normal reactions, but mine were the polar opposite. They still are. I remember speaking to doctors and surgeons, and making last-minute decisions because my father would have died if I hadn’t known what to do.

The reason my father put me in charge of everything is because he knew my reactions would be in correlation with his wishes. He knew I wouldn’t fall apart or be utterly incapable of speech, leave alone making important decisions in the moment. On occasion, I wish he’d thought I was a moron and laid the responsibility elsewhere. I remember someone implying that he’d made these decisions from a selfish place. I don’t feel that was it at all, but do I resent it at times? A little.

No matter how put together you could ever be, and I have always been wise beyond my years, making medical decisions on behalf of someone who is incapacitated is difficult. Even if they’d laid it all out for you, making the verbal calls is not easy. It’s emotionally taxing. Today is fourteen years since he passed away, and I can say this much; I’ve grown, I’ve changed, and I’m a different person. But am I healed? No. I’m scarred.

Interpersonal relationships are extremely difficult to navigate. To this day, I still don’t understand people the way I feel I should. I constantly find myself frustrated and disappointed in people. The more I feel this way, the less I want to interact with anyone, and it probably shows. I just don’t have a lot to offer certain types of people anymore, and I am learning to be okay with that.

After my father’s funeral, I couldn’t get out of bed for almost three months. I had always known he’d die young. I had always known he would not be present to see the celebratory moments in my life, or my brother’s. I knew he was leaving, and I even told him not to do the IV treatment because it would kill him. He told me he had to try, or he’d be sending his children the wrong message regarding how you fight to live. I still disagree with him, and always will. Intuition doesn’t lie, and when he first told me about it, I knew it was the beginning of the end. I just made sure I didn’t say it to my brother, because that would have been wrong, at the time.

All of this knowledge allowed me to write a eulogy which really paid tribute in an honest way. This sense of knowing failed me, though, because it distracted me from the fact that my mother was dying, and didn’t care. That’s a story for another day, but when I compound the mental and emotional trauma on top of the next set of trauma, which was more sudden, I wonder how I get out bed at all. I question myself daily, and far more than anyone else ever could. I legitimately have NO idea why I’m alive. I just don’t see a real purpose to it.

My mother raised two extraordinarily different children (I was easier; my brother tried to break her.). As adults, you can tell we’re siblings by the way we laugh at the same things, in the same way. My brother says I laugh like a villain, and I’ve also been told I have my father’s laugh. You can see us automatically know what the other is thinking by a mere a glance. On bad days, I will say I look exactly like my brother, except that I have hair (He’s going to be SO pissed when he sees this. He only laughed once when I sent him a hilarious photo which made us both laugh for days.), but in reality, that isn’t true. We’re as alike as we are different. He genuinely passes as ethnic, and it takes people a while to see that in me.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would break the sibling curse which I’ve watched plague my family. Some days, I think I’ve done a pretty good job, and other days I feel taken advantage of. On my end, the effort is present. I try. I know my parents and Grandparents can see that. I know I’m not bringing shame down upon them. Or at the very least, I try damn hard not to.

There will always be days when I question how you move past all of this. Not everyone is built the way I am. There are personality types which I will never understand as long as I live. They aren’t passionate about much, so death means very little to them. They don’t place a lot of value on life or the people in their lives, and it’s obvious by the revolving door I see in their relationships. I’m not like that. I have bras older than some people’s friendships, and many still have the tags on them. 😉 I’ve had some of the same friends for over twenty-five years and I don’t usually ditch people out of the blue. I’m loyal and honest to a fault, if nothing else.

The whole point of what I’m trying to say, and failing miserably, is that healing is different for everyone. I stopped talking about this day with my brother because then he’d stop speaking to me for a few months and that’s not conducive to any relationship. My closest friends really don’t care to listen (I get it; you’re busy. I, too, will be busy the next time you want to talk for five hours about anything. Blowing a friend off is NEVER cool, especially when you would flip out if I treated you that way.), and if someone does, they certainly haven’t communicated that to me. That’s fine. Truly. One of the good things about me is that I work a lot of shit out on my own. I’ve had to. So when my doctor tells me, “You show up for 99% of your appointments. You do the work. You’re growing and improving, and working on yourself for yourself. What’s great about you is that I don’t have to explain a lot to you, because you’re already ahead of it. You see it and you self-correct.”, I have to take that as a compliment. Usually I think he’s trying to boost my self-esteem, but then I look at the actual work and realize that yes, I did it by myself. He’s basically complimenting me for being a self-starter, but I would say some of that is my personality and the rest is nature versus nurture. It goes back to being the responsible party for things, to some extent.

If you know someone is strong and smart, most people will automatically worry less about them. I will never forget my mother saying, “I don’t worry about you because you’re strong, you’re smart, you’re intuitive, you work hard, and you’ll always land on your feet. I worry about your brother. He’s smart, he has great work ethic, but he doesn’t have your common sense or street smarts. I really worry about him.” All these years later I can assure her he finally has a modicum of common sense and a different set of street smarts. He’ll figure shit out on his own. Despite feeling like I’ve been an excellent role model, my brother has the personality type that wants to learn the hard way. It drives me insane, but you cannot change the core of most people.

I’ve done my level best to look out for my brother, and my family in general. Not everyone listens to me, so I’ve decided to stop giving advice and focus on myself. I’ve invested in myself a lot over the past year and that will continue into 2022 and beyond. I am taking my business sense and everything I was taught, and aiming for more.

Ladies, it is perfectly okay to want more out of life. It is okay to do things differently. It is okay to do things in your own time and space. It is okay to say no to things you don’t want because you see what you do want, and it’s all well within your reach. Stop letting small people tell you your worth, or that you can only achieve great things by doing it the way they think it should be done. Fuck that attitude! Not everything in life in forever, but your achievements will always be your own. No one can can touch that, so please, don’t let them.

Please speak for yourselves. Speak loudly for those who are afraid, right now, to use their voice. Don’t let situations or people diminish you. Remember who you are at the beginning and end of each day. There will always be days when you don’t want to be strong, because you’re exhausted. Allow yourself to rest, to rejuvenate, and give yourself permission to heal from anything and everything.

Go forth, trauma and all, and make someone proud. Even if it’s your deceased father who probably wouldn’t care that much. But in truth, know that you’re really doing it for yourself. The future truly IS female.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

The Dark Days

I’ve kept an extremely low profile the past few days. For starters, I am still fighting off an infection. It’s draining me terribly. My brain understood I really needed to shovel snow yesterday, but my body sent me back to bed because I couldn’t keep my head up or my eyes open. I was battling a migraine, chronic pain, and a damn infection. My body can only handle so much right now. Second, today is the thirteenth anniversary of my father’s death, and it is fresh in my mind. I’ve needed the rest I’ve managed to get, but it doesn’t wash my mind clean.

I have often told people that when I speak from experience and from no need to, “please anyone”, it stems from being an adult orphan. You are never fully prepared to lose your parents, no matter your age, or theirs. I only have to make myself proud, because no one else is as invested in me as my parents and grandparents were. It is sad that even in 2020, people still make it clear that they don’t appreciate me in any way. There’s nothing I plan on doing about the issues of others. It isn’t my responsibility, and it likely has nothing to do with me, personally. In 2021, I’d like to take things a lot less personally

I’ve always been clear that my father and I were not close or on the best of terms during the course of my life. I come from an abusive home and background, and I am trying hard to make sure the next generation is not affected by this. It was maybe in the final years of his life that he was able to appreciate me. As a person, as a daughter, as the responsible member of the family.

Each year, as I revisit the losses I’ve endured in my life, I also try to keep the good memories alive in my heart. And yet, these are still dark days for me. It’s hard to, “celebrate” a life half-lived. Any time someone dies and they are older than my parents were at the times of their deaths, I don’t have much to offer. It’s a sympathy card, a fruit basket, something I know anyone in mourning can appreciate, but sometimes I want to say, “He was 95. He lived his life.” I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, but in a, “It was an inevitability.” type of statement, yet I tend to keep that to myself 99.9% of the time.

It’s taken me a while to realize I am choosing to lack empathy and compassion at times. It’s something I’m consciously doing on nearly every dark day. I am not trying to take anyone’s private pain away from them, as much as I am choosing to embrace a fact in my life to keep me from going off the deep end.

I was not shown a whole lot of compassion or empathy after losing my father, and then my mother. I received such things in tiny doses. And I’m not going to lie; it’s important to grieve until you can feel yourself slowly start to heal. Until you no longer feel completely shattered. It does not happen overnight.

My dark day is now a dark night, and I am trying to keep myself calm as I approach the anniversary of the funeral and everything that occurred after the fact. It’s not “dwelling on the past”, as much as it is hoping for a better future.

The Countdown

Every year, usually around mid-April, is the countdown reminder from every company I’ve ever done business with, or might do business with in the future, that Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Last year, it angered me to the point where I unsubscribed from about 20-30 different mailing lists. I just couldn’t take it any more. The e-mails were daily. Daily. Sometimes, there were three or four a day. How much more business do these people need to drum up?! Was it a slow year?!

This year, Mother’s Day falls out on the day when I normally do my big grocery shopping, which requires hitting three different stores, usually, to acquire everything on my detailed list (which I usually organize by store, so I don’t forget anything major). If I keep my head down and I just focus on that list, I should be able to avoid as much of the hoopla as possible, but the pain in my heart will never go away.

There have been years where I couldn’t even get out of bed at the mere thought of facing other people on Mother’s Day. And the worst part is; Few people acknowledge this or discuss it. I refuse to be one of those people.

It’s unbelievably rude when people dismiss your feelings, especially in regard to something like this. When someone tells you to “get over it”, it might actually be wise to consider the source and/or re-think your relationship with that person. Being dismissive of someone’s pain, be it physical, mental, or emotional, is never acceptable.

Being a Motherless Daughter is painful. There is this enormous piece of me missing, and I assure you; no one gives a damn. No one else’s life stopped after my mother’s death, no one else mourns her daily, and that makes it so much worse in my eyes.

I remember how I felt at her funeral. I probably know her eulogy by heart because I only had a few days to write it, but every word was from the heart. I did her proud. I try to keep making her proud every day of my life.

The things I could talk about with my Mom are now things no one else on this planet would understand. Instead of having a person laugh with me and enjoy my insight and sense of humor, I am criticized for having a sense of humor that others do not understand or appreciate. Technically, that’s their problem, not mine. There are so many times I want to tell her about something going on, and I can’t. I know she is looking down on everything happening in my life and is now the “All-Seeing Eye”, but I really hope she sees how I am being treated and the character of others. I hope she sees and does not forget.

My mother always taught me to forgive, but never to forget. “Forgive for yourself,” she’d say, “So you don’t have to carry the hurt and allow it to harm you, but don’t EVER forget.” Forgiveness has become downright impossible in the wake of her passing and other terrible things that have occurred since that fateful day. There are always things you can never un-hear, un-see, un-learn, etc. There’s far too much you cannot forget. My mother was a nice, kind, caring person. I’m not all that nice and my kindness and ability to care is limited.

My Mom used to tell people she couldn’t remember what she wore two days ago, but that “My daughter remembers EVERYTHING.” My short-term memory is shit, but my long-term memory is eerily accurate. So you can question me, but don’t, for a single second, try telling me I’m wrong. I’m many things, but wrong isn’t one of them (I have a key-chain that says that verbatim.). Not when it comes to most things. And I openly admit when I am wrong, which many people won’t ever do.

Last year, right around the start of this month, is when my blackouts began (at least I’m pretty sure that’s when they started. In fairness, it took a few months before I was aware that I had lapses in time each day.). Is it somehow tied in to my mother’s passing and all the other death that has effected my life in the month of May? It’s possible. I have an appointment at the beginning of next month and I will certainly ask the doctor if he thinks it’s a possibility. If it’s not something triggering me, then it is something neurological, and that’s even scarier to me. I doubt an MRI will show damage, but psychologically, I suspect it’s a form of trauma manifesting itself.

I wish there was a measure of sensitivity surrounding this subject, but there really isn’t. I can attend the local Motherless Daughter event, or I can stay put and mourn on my own. I don’t think I can actually focus on other people’s stories at the moment, so it’s probably best I just isolate myself, except for the fact that I am ALWAYS isolated and alone. The effort I put forth not to be is always slapped down, always insulted, and is never good enough. The more negativity I hear, the more triggered I become. Someone might think they’re paying me a compliment, but I know an insult when I hear one. I’m NOT stupid, and I will walk away or disengage when a person is acting like an asshole or just plain being disrespectful.

One of the reasons people like and respect me is because I’m always the same person. Whether it’s on the phone, in a letter or e-mail, interacting on-line, or when you meet me or spend time with me; I don’t change. What you see and read is precisely what you get. I’ve had friends tell me precisely how much they enjoy that and respect it because they never have to worry how I am going to be because I’m always myself. When my friends spend time with me, they don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t love me. I am most at ease and most myself when I am with them. I wish they didn’t all live so far away, but I do have a very close friend visiting next month from California and I am SO excited to spend time with her! We met through my writing, as well as hers, and have been friends for five years. It seems like a much longer time period because of the bond between us, and I’m really looking forward to whatever adventures we get to share. Right now, having something to look forward to is all I’ve got. I don’t really know what I will do after she goes home. 😦 I do know I will miss her, though.

I might not write anything on Sunday this year, and if I don’t, I hope everyone will understand why. I might reblog something I’ve written in the past if I have the time to search, but if I am silent, I hope no one will take it personally.

I am still recovering from last week’s Urgent Care visit for my migraines. My IV “wound” is nearly healed, but I learned my lesson in regard to how to handle this horrible pain from here on in. I hope the neurologist I see is a good one and that he will have answers for me. I’ve been doing extensive research to make sure I go in armed with information to try and come up with a plan that we can both agree on.

And so, the countdown begins. On the plus side, I’m glad to be writing in a successful, productive way. For those of you who’ve been super supportive of this project (Lillian & Steven), please know how much it means to me.

Have a lovely Friday, everyone!

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



Some People

A year ago, I probably would not have believed that my life would be what it is in this moment. It was unfathomable, and it is incredibly difficult for me transitioning into this “new life”.

Recently someone made the grave mistake of telling me that I “choose not to be happy”. Forgive me, but that’s not only rude, it’s insulting.

I find happiness itself difficult. I’ve struggled with the definition since I was about six. After all, what is happiness without your loved ones close by? I am not the “gone and forgotten” type of person that people might wish I was, and I am grateful that my memory allows me to have significant substance as a human-being, as opposed to being careless, thoughtless, rude, forgetful, selfish, and hurtful to others. I am the person that will always apologize if she’s over-stepped her boundaries or gone too far. I like that about myself. I see it as a great strength, not as a weakness.

Like many other people in this world, I was raised to trust my family & friends. I was raised that “family comes first”. My Grandmother instilled a “Family First” mentality into us, but I decided to redefine her terms, unbeknownst to her.

At around age 13, when I lost my ability to be nice as well as the ability to care what people thought of me, and learned precisely how evil and duplicitous other people are, I started taking a closer look at those around me. For a time, I had something other people wanted and that resulted in the end of many friendships as the years would come and go. Quite sadly, what those other people coveted wasn’t worth a damn thing. It was as fair-weather as they were; but no one should have to learn that their friendships are false and that their family is equally as bad.

Growing up in an abusive, nuclear family; I am completely intolerant of abuse in my life now. While I hate using the OCD comparison, because some people suffer greatly with it, other people use it as a means of control because they feel something in their life is out of control, or perhaps many things. In turn, the person displaying these OCD traits becomes abusive and accusatory. The truly attentive person notices everything from day one. The OCD abuser notices it seemingly out of the blue, and they use it to blame you for things you don’t think, leave alone do. It builds and builds until you reach your boiling point. I reached mine a long time ago, but I was lulled into a false sense of security that this person was, somehow, stable and getting their shit together. They haven’t, and eventually they’re going to realize my escape plan is a drastic one.

I’ve never not discussed the abuse I’ve been through openly and honestly. I’m not ashamed of it. One- It was never my fault, and Two- I survived. Unfortunately what bothers me most about certain types of abuse is that is starts off subtly. It can actually look like love and concern, until it doesn’t. Please pay attention to the signs and know when to walk away. I don’t care who the person is or thinks they are, you are worth more than that. Far too many abusers disguise themselves as friends and family, which sometimes makes it hard to distinguish precisely what it is you’re experiencing. My feeling on that is “abuse is abuse”, and it’s unacceptable, regardless of the packaging it comes in.

My pretty little jungle friend, staking out prime real estate.

Some people astound me, in the open-mouthed, “Are you fucking kidding me?” kind of way.

I have “family” coming into town this weekend. I use the word so loosely they should be able to hang themselves with it. It wasn’t until Wednesday evening that I was informed that I was invited to this “family gathering”. For the record, I like 6-8 weeks notice on the arrival of family members I don’t care for and a week for those I give a damn about, which is an increasingly small list.

I find it interesting that I was “invited” to this gathering, seeing as how their children, my younger cousins, both got married, one of whom had a baby less than a year ago, but I somehow wasn’t good enough to be invited to either wedding (Those are family events, last time I checked.), yet my presence gets a half-assed “Do you think she’d like to join us?” at the last minute?! That blows my mind. No, I wouldn’t like to join you. I find you both repugnant, and that’s putting it mildly.

I have not seen these two “family members” since my mother’s funeral. Not only have they treated me horribly and disrespectfully for the majority of my life, but a year after the funeral, in which they blatantly disrespected both my brother & I to our faces, when I notified family & friends about my parents’ unveiling (The Jewish tradition of unveiling the headstone.), none of them showed up. Not an e-mail, a phone call, or a fucking smoke signal. Only one had a solid excuse; her daughter was graduating college here in Boston. I sent her a note at the time letting her know that I knew she wouldn’t be able to make it, but that I wanted her to have my updated address and phone number and if she needed anything, I would be there for her. I congratulated her on my cousin’s graduation. No response. That was IT for me, especially after they lost their parents and I received third-party e-mails to inform me about funerals I could not attend at the last minute seeing as how I had a huge trip to make and was unable to drop everything. They all live close to where my parents funerals were held, so there was no excuse in terms of travel or anything like that for them. I intentionally gave everyone travel time instead of burying my parents within 24 hours, which is our tradition. Everyone had advance notice, so none of them had an excuse not to show up at my father’s funeral or my mother’s.

“I’d love to hear more about this, but I’m on my way to Spin Class.”, said the second cousin to a relative who was relaying the message because I had my own phone calls to make. Does that sound like genuine concern over a relative passing away? Not a single one showed even the slightest amount of class by picking up a phone, or bothering to send my grieving mother, brother, and I so much as a card. When you’re a narcissist and come to me eight years later (indirectly, mind you) with false claims as to how I treated you at my own mother’s funeral, asking to be in my presence after all this time; you’re either on some incredibly powerful drug, or you’re an asshole. I’ve chosen to go with both.

They have issues with how I treated them at the funeral. It is the most laughable accusation I have EVER heard in my family dynamic. I didn’t know whether to howl with laughter or cry at the stupidity of how self-involved they are. And I am perfectly willing to discuss it with them, via phone or e-mail. Hell, they can be my new “Facebook friends”. But being in my direct presence is a privilege and an honor, and neither of them make the cut.

What I was not aware of in this scenario is that they’ve had a middleman all these years, someone who has listened to their false claims of phone calls and showing love and care to my mother for many years. It happened ONCE, and ONLY ONCE, let’s not exaggerate it into the greatest relationship to ever live. I have repeatedly asked this person NOT to discuss me with them in any capacity. Said person agreed. I don’t know why that has somehow changed and yeah, it pisses me off. It’s breach of promise. It’s such a simple thing “Please don’t discuss me with these people, they are not my family.” It’s direct, to the point, and is precisely what I want. Not to be discussed. I don’t need their negativity directed at me.

Here’s one of my main rules in life: If you cannot be my family every single day, then you don’t get to choose to be family when it suits you, as in, whenever you happen to pop into town. Again, I am happy to discuss their issues, via phone or e-mail, and that is pure kindness on my part, a kindness I don’t feel they genuinely deserve.

They are cowards to talk about me behind my back, as opposed to coming directly to me, so I have two words for them and since I lack the ability to be “fake polite”, I definitely cannot play the game of falsity by spending an entire day with them, or even thirty seconds.

I legitimately have nothing to say to these people. I don’t think about them and I don’t talk about them. I even went over the conversation with my brother to verify everything and he agreed that their behavior at the funeral was appalling (They wouldn’t even stand near us, and not a single one of them said “I am sorry for your loss.”), but that mine was not; I was in mourning and about as polite as I could be after having lost both of my parents and giving the eulogy. He said “We never talk about these people and we don’t think about them; they’re not a part of our lives. We could be dead, they wouldn’t care, leave alone notice.” THANK YOU! That’s first-person validation, not that I needed it, I just wanted to clarify the events because I know how I behaved and I occasionally like to hear his perspective on things we’ve been through together. He’s 100% right. I don’t owe them anything.

I would rather read a good book, see a movie, take a walk, willingly walk someone’s dog, etc., than be forced to spend a moment in their presence. That would be smothering everything I stand for, and I’d be sullying the memory of my mother by allowing them to creep into my life in any fashion. I’d have to run to Salem and get every practicing witch I could find to smudge me with sage. I’m not exaggerating. Their negativity is sickening. The narcissism alone kills me. They think they’re perfect and cannot fathom all the superiority they’ve pulled on my family my entire life, because they can’t see past the end of their own noses. When people behave in such a manner, there’s really no talking to them. They desperately want to be right and they believe they are right, so I’m not going to waste the oxygen. I’m too good a person, too smart, and far too sharp to be lured into such nonsense. If it had gone unmentioned to me, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about it so honestly or passionately, but since it became an issue via negative words said to and about me, the truth is, I’ve never liked these people. Just because we’re related does not mean we have to have a relationship. They’ve had their opportunities and you only get so many chances with me. When I’m done, I’m truly done. I don’t wish any ill on them, I just want to live my life without them discussing me behind my back. Is that unfair? Honestly, I don’t care if it is.

At the beginning and end of each day, I would prefer to be known as my Grandparent’s ONLY Granddaughter, my parents’ ONLY daughter, my brother’s ONLY sister, and my Aunt’s ONLY niece. I am many things, but my Grandparents and parents live deeply within me and I try to honor them by being the person I was raised to be. None of them were perfect, but they taught me things that are immensely valuable. Manners, decency, common sense, and never being afraid to use my voice, for it is a deadly, powerful instrument.

Every time I am stressed or working too hard, I hear my Grandmother say “Sit up straight. Posture is everything.” I have perfect posture because she never allowed me to slouch. When I look in the mirror at my back, I think of her as the backbone of the family, because even though she was passive and kind, she helped raise me and deserves that acknowledgment. I was my Grandfather’s everything. Losing him shaped a lot of my world, but I will never forget a moment we spent together or the things he taught me. He lived each day to the fullest. I wish I had the ability to do the same, but maybe having Fibromyalgia is a mixed blessing in disguise. My parents were polar opposites who would have been better off as friends, but I am their daughter and I will not allow them to be disrespected in death as they were in life. If you disrespect them and you also disrespect me, you can basically kiss your ass goodbye. I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to hold a grudge, but once I’ve made a decision, that’s it. Forgiveness isn’t always an option.

I often think my family dynamic is outrageously offensive, and then I hear other people’s stories and I find out how tame mine is in comparison, which is actually a scary thought.

Here’s hoping none of you ever have to deal with narcissistic family members who think YOU’RE some kind of she-devil because you lack the ability to be fake. No one needs that kind of drama!

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

My Mom’s favorite flower. Unfortunately, they’re no longer in bloom, but they smelled so nice when they were.

Boiling Point


Fact: I am seriously contemplating ending my life. No one knows what’s going on, or cares, but I feel it’s important to talk about.

I walked away from self-harm at least a dozen times last week, maybe more. I have no strong desire to actually carry it out, but we cannot “cure” the thoughts that go through our minds.

It’s not any one thing in particular, it’s a multitude of things, all of which are out of my control. Ultimately, I often feel that lack of control is what makes us feel so out of control. I believe it leads to a lot of rational irrationality.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I come from an abusive background. If asked, I am quite vocal about it. Hell, I’ve written about it many times. My father was the bane of my existence from age six until about 2000 or so, when his health began to rapidly decline, culminating in his death, a 15 year battle with cancer that ended in late 2007. I cannot put a Band-Aid on my upbringing, but I try very hard not to allow it to define me. For the most part, I am successful. I don’t dwell on it. It’s done and it’s in the past, but lately it’s other forms of neglect, abuse, disrespect, & abandonment that have just plain left me in tears. What’s worse? This behavior makes my father, G-d rest his soul, look like a fucking angel by comparison. That’s probably what affects me more than anything else.

Nothing I do is ever “good enough”. I know that’s ridiculous, but when that is what is projected to you constantly, you either walk away or you tell someone to go fuck themselves. For the past 4-5 years, I have worked very hard on my anger issues. I’ve talked about that quite openly. Therefore, so as not to act like my father, I try to curse less and not tell people exactly what I think of them and their behavior, even if they deserve it. I don’t accept or allow it, I just disengage with the crazy. I cannot talk to a psychopath, to people who don’t hear me out thoroughly, or to anyone who believes everything they say is right 100% of the time. It may be right in their mind, but their mind and mine are two completely different places/worlds. That’s true for everyone, or we’d be living in a very bizarre utopia.

No matter how hard I work, it’s not “good enough”. How many times a day does someone need to be insulted, talked down to, and/or disrespected? How many days of the week, month, year, before they snap? The term “going postal” isn’t meant to be cute. It stems from things building and building in the workplace (or in some cases, ones’ home life) until someone finally loses it. The same thing can happen in a person’s daily life, and it doesn’t have to involve murder and mayhem, it might just be a verbal argument. One can hope, any way.

There is an immense difference between constructive criticism and venomous hatred and resentment. I am educated enough to know the difference in how people speak to me, and I am sick and tired of being told that everything I think & feel is wrong. Statistically speaking, it’s impossible for me to be wrong 100% of the time, just as it is impossible for someone else to be right 100% of the time. I don’t aim for perfection, but I will not have anyone question my perception of others. I’ve got two words for that mind-set: FUCK THAT. You can agree to disagree with me, but don’t deign to tell me you’re right and I’m wrong. No. Unacceptable.

Voicing thoughts, feelings, and opinions isn’t wrong, but I am constantly being told I am wrong. After a while, even a person with the highest I.Q. starts to lose their mind. After a while, any sane person is going to get tired of hearing such nonsense.

The only thing that is saving me is the love of Kitten. During the worst of my dark thoughts, when I wasn’t sure if I could bear another second, leave alone a minute, she’d crawl into bed with me, give me kisses, bring me toys, & watch over me with great affection. Cat followed, both of them refusing to let me out of their sight. How is it that two little creatures understand my pain better than actual people? I find that sad and pathetic for the human-race, but a real win for the animals in this world who are superior in terms of compassion, empathy, and love. My cats know more about love than 99% of the people I know, and that is truly saying something. They know me better than most people, and I’ve had them such a short period of time compared to the relationships in my life, yet they know me better, inside and out. People are emotionally harming me, but my cats? They wouldn’t even scratch me intentionally. Again, it speaks accolades for them. Clearly I did something right, and that “something” was adopting and raising them. They love me unconditionally. It is a special relationship, and not something to ever be taken for granted.

Words have power, and sometimes that power is destructive and extremely harmful. Be self-aware. Realize that you sound like a vile human-being and dial it the fuck down.


When someone is visibly suffering, or even silently suffering, they do not need your drama, venom, hatred, or negativity. Don’t pretend you don’t see it or sense it. Put it away. Stash it in another country, because I do not mean shelve it for a week, and focus on showing them that they matter, because eventually, all your shit might push them over the edge and the only person who will be left with grief isn’t them, it’s you.

I know so many people who, after years of far worse than what I deal with and have dealt with, simply took matters into their own hands, leaving people wondering why. People have actually said” Nothing is so horrible that you have to take your life.” Oh, really? Try living my life for a year, I’m pretty sure you’d feel otherwise. In other words, don’t judge what you don’t understand. It is okay to admit you don’t understand the various forms of depression and other forms of mental illness, but it’s not acceptable in 2016 to be ignorant about it.

I’m one of the “privileged few” who inherited it on both sides of my family. My paternal Grandmother suffered from her early teens until the day she died. The things she was put through during her life in terms of “treatment” were truly horrible, and I am not a candidate for certain treatment methods because of that. No doctor would allow me to go through what she did, despite the advancements that have been made I am considered too high a risk factor, and here’s a fact; I wouldn’t sign myself up for it either.

Approximately ten years ago, I was diagnosed with “treatment resistant depression”. It means that while I suffer abysmal highs and lows, my brain chemistry does NOT respond to medication. I’ve tried everything and all they’ve done is make me really sick. Therapy works, if the therapist isn’t a piece of shit, but with Fibromyalgia, there are times I cannot drag myself in on a weekly basis in order to “go deep”. I walk into therapy in a relatively good mood, positive about what may be accomplished by going, and I walk out feeling like the biggest piece of shit on the planet, so it’s important to find someone who knows when and when not to push your last nerve. I’m not shy, I have a voice and I know how to use it. Since moving, I have noticed that I have become ten times more internalized than ever before and not only is that completely unhealthy, it gives you some insight into my environment and how I don’t feel comfortable discussing important things because I don’t feel understood, cared about, loved, and the list goes on. It hurts so deeply to type that, that the tears are pouring down my face. I’m hurting so much and certain things were said to me today that can never be taken back. I can never un-hear them.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been to therapy in three and a half years and after putting myself back on medication last month, it made me too sick to function. If you’re able to take medication, wake up each morning, and go to a normal 9-5 kind of job, well, G-d Bless you. I cannot. I knew very young that I’d never have a “normal job”. Not because it is beneath me, it’s not, but because I don’t play well with others. There is not a single thing about me that says “team player”. I am glad I knew that about myself at such a young age because it propelled me in the right directions as a creative spirit. I’ve never NOT worked (I’ve been working since I was 12, no joke.) and not created something out of nothing, but for months now I have felt sick, weak, dejected, and the absolute opposite of who I truly am. There is nothing keeping me here. Nearly every day is the same; completely monotonous.

My creativity ebbs and flows. It always has. I do nothing on command. I’ve always liked that about myself, but it can be tricky when you are involved with creative projects that need 100% of your commitment, or they’ll fail. But how does one stay “on” when they’re predominantly “off”?


Today I reached my boiling point in reaching out to people I felt I could trust for help. Five times today I got off the phone in hysterical tears because in the grand scheme of life, people don’t care about my struggles or my pain, but they do care about being selfish, hostile, cruel, and hurtful. The final call which I did not want to make was the last straw.

Some things are out of my control, just as they are for many of us, but I’d like to think that if someone called me crying, truly upset by something happening to them, I would do whatever was within my power to help, even if I’d helped them 100 times before, I don’t keep score. In fact, I HAVE done that (helped others) and I will never stop being the person that I am because to not be me is to be lesser, and I refuse to let experiences like this alter the person I am. I refuse to change to suit other people because then they win.

My mother raised me to be a strong, independent woman, but she also told me that sometimes we all need help and not to be afraid to ask for it. However, I was terrified to ask for the help I needed and my fears were warranted because in asking for help, I got hurt. I am sure the other person does not see it as I do. Of course, I didn’t threaten or insult them.

Here’s something important I think some people need to understand: It takes great courage to ask for help. Especially for someone like me because I have a lot of pride, but definitely feel that I have fallen from Grace. 😦 When a person asks for help, and they’re upset and you know things have been bloody awful for them, don’t make it worse with cruel, hateful words. Discuss things with them at a later time, in private, when each of you is calm, and assure them that you do indeed love and care about them. It’s okay to have boundaries and to place limits on things, absolutely, but it’s not okay to be hurtful or say things in anger that cannot be retrieved.

For now, I have no idea what tomorrow brings, but I’m hoping it doesn’t involve me “going dark”. I’m writing this in tears, because the pain is just too much to bear. I am also weighing my options quite heavily because I am too sick to deal with such harsh negativity being directed at me in such an ugly manner.

We all have physical and emotional triggers in life, whether we’re aware of them or not. Certain words and tones will turn me from a caring, kind, loving, helpful person with a genuine heart into someone incredibly inclined to poison your dinner.

Choose your words wisely. Do not make assumptions. Don’t insult loved ones, for they can be gone in the blink of an eye. And absolutely do NOT trigger someone when you KNOW their history. Some people really should know better, but they don’t. Maybe anger is a better place to reside for some? I’ve been there and it’s unhealthy.

Tonight, I am going to try to accept the fact that no one else is like me and the other people cannot be what I need them to be, because it’s simply not in their genetic makeup. My brother recently paid me the finest compliment by saying that no one could spend five minutes with me, or speak to me for five minutes, and not come away realizing how incredibly genuine and unique I am. I damn near cried, because it’s truly the NICEST thing he’s probably ever said to me, and it was such an incredibly astute observation. It almost makes up for the crappy things he’s said to me in the past when he was angry (at himself) and frustrated (with his own bullshit) and took it out on me simply because I am the closest person to him.

I learned a valuable lesson today. I learned that no matter what people say, their actions and words don’t always mesh, and I am wary of people like that. Life isn’t perfect for anyone. Life isn’t always fair, either, but I refuse to kick someone while they’re already bleeding on the ground.

To the people who kicked me today when I was desperately upset by a situation completely out of my control, please don’t ever think I won’t remember the attack. To the few that reached out later on to raise me back up off the ground, I won’t soon forget that either.

Wishing you all a far better day/week/remainder of the month than I just had.


copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Mother & Daughter


First friend; best friend.

The reason I am who I am.

The person who encouraged me never to follow, but always to lead.

Guide-post. Lighthouse. Anchor.

Part angel, part saint.

The best listener.

Could always see the best in me, even when I didn’t believe there was any.

Teacher of so much.

Giver of books, music, art, culture, and life.

Laughter ’til we cried.

Taught me, in part, how to be a mother with a very simple gift.

Saw my talents clearer than anyone else.

Hated it when friends disappointed, lied, and hurt me. Enraged when men did the same.

Was always in awe of my strength.

Was not afraid to lean on me and allow me to be strong when she was not.

My first audience.

Lover of sunsets, rainbows, lilacs, and cats.

Honesty, Integrity, Loyalty, Love, Friendship.

You thought I was the blessing, but I know with certainty that I was blessed to have you as my mother.

You worked two jobs, took care of your children, and never once looked back. That is immense heroism.

Small aspects of who you are and what you mean to me.

Words fail…


I learned from my mother, but I also taught her in kind. Our relationship was one of kindred spirits. I’m strong and fierce because she was not able to be that kind of woman, having been raised differently. She encouraged my voice because she often felt she did not have one that others would listen to. She is the reason I am a supremely confident writer.

Days like today are very hard. They are made easier when one can honor their loved one, in their own attempt to heal. Truth be told, I don’t think one can ever repair the hole inside my heart at such a devastating loss, but I’m trying.


“Serenity is yours.
When chaos looms seek the sweet
Surrender of simplicity.
Gaze above at the glassy sky,
Feel each blade of green
Beneath your feet,
Listen to the sound of faith
Like a reed flute playing
Inside your chest.
Stand in witness of
Your true nature.
Remember the compassion
Of the lover’s eyes,
The calm wisdom of
The elder’s voice.
Go within. Be at rest without.
Fall to your knees in gratitude.
You have all you need.
Turn from the riot of distraction.
Let it roll over and beyond you.
Serenity is yours.
It lives always within your reach.”

-Ching Qu Lam

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Exhausted To The Bone


I went to bed exhausted, I woke up more exhausted than when I originally went to bed. Lately, there never seems to be enough sleep. I found myself wanting to nod off for four hours yesterday, but when I finally committed myself to “a nap”, I ended up reading for over three hours. I hadn’t planned on reading at all, I simply thought if I started reading something nonsensical, I’d make myself even sleepier. It was counter-intuitive.

I think the stress of the week and of many, many months has finally hit me today. I have absolutely no desire to do anything. I just want to rest. My brain is tired, my body is tired, and you can only ignore your body for so long before exhaustion catches up with you and doesn’t let go. That is definitely chronic fatigue.

My brain is barely working to form complete sentences properly. I have dueling issues. My stomach is telling me that we’re hungry and should try making some soup. My brain is saying that the soup can wait because if we’re not properly rested, we will burn the house down. I got distracted last weekend when I had something in the oven. I set the timer and instead of staying within a 15 foot range of the kitchen, I walked upstairs to check my phone. I went to check e-mail quickly or something, but then I got into texting with someone and the next thing I know, the timer is going off and there’s a slight smoky smell rising. I was also doing laundry, so clearly I was pulling myself pretty thin. Sadly, I didn’t hear the timer, which is quite scary. When I did go downstairs because the smell wasn’t right, I finally heard the timer and felt like a complete and utter moron. On top of being dangerous, I was just plain out of it. Now I stay close by, because the last thing I should be doing is something that could lead to the harm of myself or others. I’m too drained to be able to leave something alone while I’m in the middle of making it, and right now I’m truly too drained to actually make something. I don’t even think I’m capable of walking down the steps.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, so don’t be alarmed if I make myself extremely scarce. This is an incredibly difficult time of year for me. Each year, I’m reminded that I am a Motherless Daughter. One year I waited until the day settled and went grocery shopping that night, because all I wanted to do was avoid the mother/daughter bonding that this weekend brings forth. If you haven’t experienced this kind of loss, or the kind of bond I shared with my mother, it’s not something one can easily relate to, so I tend to just close up shop for about 10 days and keep my mouth shut, lest I somehow manage to offend someone with my honesty and/or directness. Ultimately, there is always someone who will find me offensive in some way. It’s not my issue, it’s theirs, but I don’t want or need the drama.

So in advance, I wish ALL mothers: Pet mothers, Grandmothers, Godmothers, Aunts, and especially single mothers a very happy day. I’ll be okay, but if you can’t find me I MIGHT be sitting in the dark with chocolate pudding.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.