Writing With Purpose

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I’ve had a couple of rough weeks, though in truth, I’d have to say “rough decade”, but I’d prefer to focus on the present. Some of it I would prefer to address in a future piece that is nearly completed, but the rest I’d like to get out of my system. Unfortunately, I don’t even know where to start.

Like any intelligent writer, I think things through. I don’t “wing it” and hope for the best. There’s an art to how you write, how you speak, and how you communicate. Sometimes, I wish everyone were as gifted with the written and spoken word as I am, but I realize that’s not realistic, or fair, however, it leaves me incredibly frustrated with some of the people in my life and how they speak to me.

My being an incredibly private person isn’t a secret. In fact, I think it’s pretty well-established. However, a few people crossed some very serious boundaries with me over the past few weeks and they are utterly fucking clueless that the boundaries exist. The sad part is; I’ve had to establish these boundaries multiple times with the same people. Only one of them can legitimately say “I forgot.” because she is going through a health issue that affects her memory. It’s not an excuse, but it’s her only “Get Out Of Jail Free” card with me, and even that is getting slim these days. The other person is just plain being an ass, and I am not okay with it. I don’t find it cute, humorous, respectful, etc. I don’t find someone’s sudden interest in my life acceptable behavior. You cannot suddenly ask me deeply personal questions and expect an answer from me. I don’t care if you’ve known me for twenty years or twenty minutes; I still have boundaries. When I say “I am not going to discuss this.” that’s precisely what it means. I don’t owe you answers.

From day one, I have openly and honestly discussed my medical issues and struggles. I have kept my doctors names private, for obvious reasons, and I’ve kept personal details private. I’d expect most of us to do the same. What I write about in terms of subject matter may be open and honest, but my private life is still PRIVATE. Privacy, while scarce, still means something to me. Yes, you can read this and subscribe, but I don’t owe you every tiny detail of my life (Don’t worry, you’re really not missing anything.).

My closest friends are smart enough not to push my buttons (Well, apparently not all of them are so smart.), and yet, so many of you, over the years, have sent me the kindest messages to let me know you care, or that you’re listening, or that my candor has inspired you in some way. That means more to me than someone being nosy or invasive simply because they feel entitled to push me for “answers”.

There is no magical substance on this planet that is going to heal and/or fix me. I have ALWAYS known this. It’s called “being honest with yourself”. Prescription medications (probably over fifty, if I add in all the various migraine meds), several courses of Eastern medicine, enough vitamins & supplements to open my own GNC, eating the healthiest foods you can think of, etc., and nothing has made anything better. I exercised obsessively at times, three times a day, in an attempt to try to “control” what was going on internally and allow the external aspect to take over. It didn’t work, not for long. I’ve lost over thirty pounds in the past month and a half. Can I afford to lose more weight? Yes. I’m not worried about the weight loss, but I am worried about where I stand from an emotional standpoint.

When I inevitably told a few people what was going on post-diagnosis, only a few people rallied around me. One person checks in with me daily to make sure I’m okay, even if it’s just a few quick texts back and forth. Another checks in about once a week, when she can, and again, it’s the thoughtfulness behind the gesture. It’s someone saying “How are YOU?” and genuinely caring, instead of trying to fix me or making me feel lesser. I call that acceptance. We raise our children to accept everyone precisely as they are, but as adults, there is very little acceptance of anyone who is different from us. I find it disgusting, especially when it comes from those who are supposed to love and care about us. You truly learn who is on your side during rough times. People say one thing, but do something else entirely, and they don’t factor in whether or not what they’re doing might be hurtful.

I do not expect anyone to get on a plane and hold my hand, because that’s not going to fix anything, but would it be great for the majority of people in my life to be less self-involved and self-centered? Yes. However, I expect nothing from others because that is ultimately what I get, no matter how much I give. It is important to give to the right people, as opposed to those who can only give you small percentages of themselves.

You might visit other places on the Internet and find a person listing their entire physical and mental health diagnoses from A to Z. They have the right to do so because for many people, that is where they get their support and it’s also where they feel safe to vent, but that’s not what anyone is ever going to get from me. I might vent, but ultimately, venting has never been my goal.

First and foremost, I am a writer. This is a writer’s platform, NOT a blog. I am NOT a “writer who blogs”, but a writer who uses her voice as a platform to speak my mind, and to properly use the platform I am given, I cover topics that matter to me, and others, and I say things other people are often afraid to say. I advocate where I can, when I can, but I’m imperfect and human. A lot of people are afraid to use their voice for the purpose(s) in which I use mine, but I utterly lack the ability to be shy. I have moments of quiet observation, but I assure you, I am NOT a shy woman. I catch myself at times having to bite back my internal dialogue because sometimes, my inappropriate comments have a mind of their own and they desperately want to come flying out of my mouth. I try very hard to be tactful. but sometimes, I genuinely don’t give a shit how I come off to someone else. Okay, that’s nine days out of ten, but I TRY.

I have never intentionally hurt someone I have professed to love and/or care about, but I’ve had so many people say those words and intentionally hurt me in the process. I live my life with a “live and let live” policy. You don’t hurt me, and I’ll let you live. 😉 All kidding aside, I don’t see what anyone gains out of saying something nasty, aggressive, or hurtful to someone they say they love. How does that make you a better person? How does that make life easier? How is that helpful?

I will never be a “Kill ’em with kindness” kind of girl. It’s disingenuous to me to “fake it ’til you make it” with others. If I can’t be 100% real, then I can’t be in your presence. I’m tired of biting my tongue.

Some people will always be comfortable talking for the sake of talking, or in this case, writing for the sake of writing. I prefer to write with genuine purpose. I want my words to have meaning and value to the person on the other side who is reading them. Sometimes I will make you laugh, and sometimes I might make you cry. There are times I will make you think, but ultimately, if I can provoke you to walk away better, stronger, smarter, or more of any one thing in life, then I, as a writer, have done my job.

If you haven’t noticed the boundaries, there’s caution tape up. Please be sure to stay behind it. In the meantime, I’ll be here with Cat, Kitten, and my fucking Invisibility Cloak, lest someone gets dumber with me this week! After all, it’s ONLY Tuesday. Someone’s bound to screw up or dig themselves a deeper hole. I am rolling my eyes with anticipation. Yes, I’m being sarcastic and snarky. Much like high cheekbones and heterochromia, they are two of my best features. 😉

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

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Sisterhood Unraveled

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The majority of my closest friends have been in my life for longer than most marriages last. We’re talking twenty years, on average, for each of my best friends. One, now officially former, best friend has spent the past six and a half years ignoring me. There was no disagreement between us, we’ve never had a legitimate fight. Absolutely nothing occurred to warrant her going radio silent. This, however, is her behavior whenever a new man enters her life. It’s utterly baffling, and such an immense turn-off that she truly believes she can come and go in the friendship as she pleases. I’m a person; not a revolving door at a hotel or airport! It’s unacceptable behavior. So, I’m going to write my feelings out of my system today. I’ve never blatantly outed a friend in such a manner, but it’s time to light a Yarhzeit candle to the friendship. For now it is time to remember, and move on.

Here’s a fact about me: When I’m done, I’m truly DONE. I find it sad that after all this time, she doesn’t know me well enough to know that I will cut her out of my life permanently. She doesn’t seem to realize that I will exterminate her like a fucking termite. She’s gotten far too comfortable in the friendship, and has forgotten what loyalty and true friendship are, and for that, there’s simply no forgiveness left in me. From here on out, I will refer to this person as Two-Face.

Two-Face and I became instant best friends from almost the first encounter. We said the same things, thought a lot of the same things, had a similar sense of humor, liked nearly all of the same things, and she stood up to people who challenged my role in her life many times. We were thick as thieves; always laughing hysterically for hours on end. She called me her sister, often saying I was closer to her in life than her own sister could ever be. It certainly seemed that way, because her sister isn’t anywhere near as good to her as I was from day one, but apparently she forgives her sister damn near anything and has an extremely short fucking memory. I’m more like an elephant. I might forget that I left tea in the kitchen for two hours, allowing it to brew too long and go bitter, but I do not forget the long-term. In fact, it’s all so sharp and clear, it’s eerie.

For me, referring to any friend as family is the highest compliment I can pay someone because I don’t consider my own relatives “true family” most of the time, except for those who actually stand by me, as opposed to doing so merely when it is convenient for them. I have family that will call me family when they please, as opposed to daily. That doesn’t fly with me, which is precisely why none of those people are my true family. I share bloodlines with them, but beyond that? Nothing. I would not give them a bodily organ if they needed it and I was the only match on the planet; I’d give it to the stranger whose family needed them instead. Through time, they’ve shown me how little they value me, so why should I hold them in high regard?

It’s important to be careful how you treat your friends. Friendship is a delicate thing. It can wax and wane like the moon, but it can also grow stronger daily. My best friends, those who’ve never left, seem to know me better than she does. I often thought she & I were closer, not just logistically speaking, but because we shared such a daily chunk of each other’s lives that the others often miss out on. I was wrong.

I have never dropped a friend for a man, or for another relationship. Not ever. I might be happier, perhaps a lot more playful and silly, but my friends play a significant role in my life. I do not exclude them simply because I am in a relationship. I don’t ditch them for months or years at a time, as if they are toys to be placed in a drawer and taken out when I choose. I find that disrespectful, and incredibly unhealthy. I am at my healthiest when I have my girls to turn to no matter what, because I’m genuinely a Girl’s Girl to the core. Women supporting other women, in good and bad times, is a remarkable thing. It is something I respect wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong; I will tell someone they’re wrong when they’re wrong, regardless of gender. I have absolutely no qualms about letting people know I have boundaries and human emotions, but I’d never intentionally hurt a friend. If you do something once and you ask for forgiveness; it’s a mistake. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. If you repeatedly do something ugly; it’s a pattern and a choice. I do not have to accept choices that are continuously hurtful. I have enough issues; I don’t need my friends to emotionally cut me to pieces, nor will I allow it.

Two-Faced, now on marriage number three (Which, at the point, means you shouldn’t even bother. Unless you have children together, are planning on having children, or it’s for insurance purposes, that piece of paper is clearly ridiculous. That’s my OPINION, but I also know her so well that I know the second the relationship crumbles, she will be back at my feet, begging for forgiveness. Her absence will be blamed on HIM, not on HER.), was married when we first became friends. Her husband was utterly lovely…and she treated him like shit. My first impression was that it showed strength (No, I don’t think it’s okay to treat your partner like shit. I did not see it for what it was initially.), but over time I realized they never should have gotten married, that they only did so out of family pressure. They didn’t want the same things. They grew apart. When she called to tell me they were divorcing, I was heartbroken for her, and very protective. They stayed together for a period of time to get their finances in order, and parted ways amicably. They didn’t have any children, so it was a clean break. It was harder for their families than it was for them, because her family loved him and his family loved her. I’ll give her one thing; she’s great at fooling people.

She moved to another city and immediately started dating. He was re-married to someone else quickly after they were divorced, and was expecting his first child. She’d disappear for short periods of time between boyfriends. It was utterly obnoxious, and I’d never seen this side of her before. I started filtering myself in regard to my own relationships because I was somehow able to manage more than one person in my life at a time, never making excuses. I could keep my friends, be a part of my family, AND keep a guy in my life, without issue. Why was this such a problem for her?! In fairness, I’d soon discover it was a problem for a lot of women, and to this day, I will NEVER be able to wrap my mind around that. Relationships come and go, they’re not etched in stone, but friends should be forever. Where are you in life without at least one true friend?

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She came to visit me at one point and was an absolute bitch for roughly 85% of the visit. Perhaps I should be ranking that at a higher percentage. I had the hardest time not knocking her teeth out, because I’d be appalled if I ever behaved that way toward a friend, especially in their home, and worse, several times in front of their family. Nothing was good enough for her, but in actuality I know that she was acting out, which is sad because by doing so, she ruined much of the time we spent together. When a major snowstorm hit the day before she was supposed to leave, resulting in approximately a foot and a half of snow, you would have thought I’d caused it by her behavior and attitude towards me. I had paid for her plane ticket and treated her like family; and in turn, soon after the visit, she didn’t speak to me for almost a year. I was utterly THRILLED when I dropped her off at the airport. Her behavior was SO awful that I honestly didn’t care if I ever saw her again. After 9/11, she e-mailed me to make sure that my family & I were safe. Our friendship resumed at that point, she seemed genuinely remorseful. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I honestly don’t know how I survive without you.” Whatever.

Maybe six months after flying out to visit her, she stopped speaking to me once again. I called her at work one day, after she’d been ignoring me for weeks, because my mother was in the hospital and I didn’t think she was going to live. I was devastated and needed my best friend to talk to me down off a ledge. She actually got on the phone and told me “I have problems of my own, I don’t have time for yours!” and hung up on me. In hindsight, I NEVER should have allowed her back into my life after that move. I should have ripped her to shreds, but I didn’t. My mistake, because that won’t ever happen again.

Maybe the following year I got a letter explaining that she’d hit a rough patch soon after I left, and decided to move back home to be closer to her family, and again, the friendship resumed with her, once again, pleading for forgiveness. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I swear.”

But it did.She never truly apologized for anything, not once. 

She met husband number two, who was moved in very quickly (She should get U-Haul discounts on how quickly she moves men into and out of her life. I’ve never seen anything like it. Why can’t you just date like a normal person?!), and this guy hated me. He didn’t want her talking to me, and he didn’t want me visiting. She claims he made her choose between us, and we’d lose three years of friendship to a marriage where I am almost certain of his verbal abuse, but even more certain that the abused became the abuser. I feel she’s always had that in her; and I am sure that is why her first husband moved on so quickly to someone who was so drastically different in every way. Poor guy dodged one hell of a bullet! 😦

Her relationships are what they are. It’s her searching for love in all of the wrong places, because, despite being eternally selfish to her core, she does not have the capacity to truly love anyone, not even herself. She puts on a good show though, an Academy Award worthy performance, but it’s all incredibly fake. She is, in essence, the Phantom of The Opera in his mask. So filled with self-doubt and internal torment, the mask is a shield to keep people at bay, to hold everyone at arm’s length, until it suits her to get closer. She’d openly deny this, because she is so blinded, she cannot clearly see herself. I find it sad.

At her best, she believes she’s a decent person and wants to be better and grow, but she always gets in her own way. I’ve been friends with her long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I am certain her relationship with me was borne out of needing someone stronger in her life to be friends with, because she has no other true friends who’ve seen it all with her. She has people she works with who only ever see the mask, but I’ve seen the pain. I’ve seen the roots, and I understand them, but I do not accept the fact that while she believes she’s “grown”, she’s truly still at square one. Other people who’ve gotten close have crossed boundaries and felt her wrath. There’s a reason I’m referring to her as Two-Face. It disturbs me that she can have two completely different sides to her and not own it. I know I have both darkness and light within me, and I am very open about that, but I am NOT two-faced. I am the same person at all times. I will always apologize if I’m brusque or bitchy without cause. Always. Sometimes I don’t hear how I sounded until 1-3 days later, but I’d rather apologize and own it than pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not. She thinks she’s the same way, but she most definitely is not.

Several years ago, I wrote her a letter and let her know precisely how I felt about the friendship and what she’d done/was doing to it. It took me almost a year to write it without being vicious, so even now, I’m trying to not be batshit crazy over how I’ve been treated. I laid it all out for her, and told her that this was unacceptable behavior, and that I knew for a fact she’d never allow me to treat her this way, so why was it acceptable for her to treat me so horribly? I even said we’ve never fought or argued, and that neither of us had done anything unforgivable (up to that point). I said it was all about communicating openly and honestly with each other, which we’d always done. I told her if she wanted out of the friendship, she need only say so.

However, here I sit six and a half years later and I find, I’m the one who wants out. I’m DONE. I was never anything but an amazing friend to her; loyal, devoted, present, caring, and generous. I loaned her money when she went through a couple of horrible years and had trouble making ends meet. I wanted to help her and keep her safe during that time because her family was refusing to do so (most especially, her sister, who is apparently a saint now.). I didn’t expect to be paid back, but when I think about the fact that it’s somewhere between $10,000-$15,000 owed, I do find myself wanting that money back. She always promised it would be paid back because it was a LOAN and not a gift. There’s a difference in the phrasing. I would already have sued her for it, if the state she resides in allowed people to be sued for small claims. It doesn’t, and I think we can all safely agree that the number is definitely NOT a “small claim”. I would even accept installment payments at this point. Unlike running out on a credit card; I am a human-being and I deserve to be paid back. I don’t care how you treat a billion dollar business, but I DO care how you treat me, the loyal friend who has stood by you when others, including your own family, have walked away or stepped back.

We were sisters, and I was always there for her no matter what. She didn’t just unravel the sisterhood, she broke it. She continued to hammer away at it until I said “Enough!” When I wrote that letter, I let her know it wasn’t an ultimatum, but that I wasn’t going to hold on to how I felt and allow it to continue to hurt me. She e-mailed me a month later and said she’d read the letter multiple times and would e-mail me in a few weeks after she thought things over. I never heard from her again. Knowing her; she lost the letter in her many moves since receiving it, and didn’t have the guts to get back in contact with me and face the issue. She can’t say she doesn’t have my e-mail address because I’ve had the same primary e-mail address for over ten years. Her cowardly behavior is another strike against her. You don’t let things slide and not apologize. It once took me eight years to apologize to a friend for potentially hurting her, but I apologized, and the apology was accepted. The friendship did not resume because, much like Two-Face, this person could not maintain a marriage, a family life, and a best friend. Apparently it requires a really high I.Q., multiple doctorates, and/or maybe some special gift I’m unaware of. I do NOT understand it, and I’m done trying to.

I hold many titles with ease, and Grace. Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece, Sister, Best Friend, Friend, Cousin, Writer, Editor. I hope to add other titles to that list, and I’m certain I left a few out because I’m focused on what I have to say, but my point is, I do maintain each title. I am still my parent’s only daughter and my Grandparent’s only Granddaughter, even in their physical absences. Two of my Grandparents have a second Granddaughter, and for that I apologize to them because she’s an embarrassment on every level as a human-being. I am my Aunt’s only niece and my brother’s only sister. I’m a best friend and friend AT ALL TIMES, not when it is convenient to be so. I try to be there for my cousins because I choose to have relationships with them, even when they’re not ideal relationships, even when the other person is difficult and makes me sorry I bother. I make an EFFORT. I’m imperfect, and in that imperfection, I am unique and solid.

When I think about Two-Face I am reminded of good times, of laughter, of travels, of so many hilarious moments and shared thoughts and secrets. I will take her secrets to the grave, but I will not allow her to harm me any further. She is the only person who, in the role of a friend, managed to turn something unbreakable into something broken. Her deep desire for self-destruction isn’t going to take me down with her. She is sitting somewhere now, possibly believing that she ended the friendship on her terms or that the revolving door with remain revolving, perhaps not even giving it a second thought. Ultimately, I am the one cutting her off and out. Permanently. I am not going to be vicious or vengeful. I am not going to allow myself to feel the hurt, anger, or utter betrayal a second longer than I already have. This, however, will take time; for I’m so angry as I write this, I’m shaking.

I am not going to cut myself off from who I am as a person, and what I have to offer others. I am going to continue being myself. I will continue to be intuitive and mindful of new people. I won’t allow anyone in my life when there are red flags of warning. I’m not going to stop being a loyal, damn fine friend to people. I am not going to allow this to turn me into a bitch, or allow myself to think that I deserve to be treated like that. I know better.

Friendships aren’t gifted to us so that we may irrevocably damage and break them. They are gifted to us in order to support us through thick and thin, and they are indeed a gift because true friendship is so unbelievably rare. I realize I am a rarity in how I handle my relationships with others. No matter how bad my life may be, and believe me when I say that it isn’t easy, I’d prefer to continue being the kind of friend I’ve always been to people.

She may have hurt me, but she did not break me. She did not win a damn fucking thing. When all is said and done, she will be as alone as she was when she came into my life; a broken child in need of a place where she belonged. I gave her that, and I never judged. I’m still not judging, but I am saying “No more.” I’m placing a wall made of concrete and steel between her and I from here on in. She can get through electronically, providing I deign to open an e-mail from her, but she cannot reach my heart or soul ever again.

There’s only so much damage I’ll allow. Breaking the bonds of sisterhood is on the list of “ultimate betrayals” for any female friend. She was given the choice to repair the damage, and instead, she chose something else instead of realizing she could have both. She chose selfishness. I am not selfish. In fact, on many levels we are polar opposites. Perhaps that is why our friendship was so incredibly close and was then twisted into something ugly by her. She doesn’t know that there’s no going back, that my ability to accept is gone. I feel sorry for her. She always comes back, but this time, she has no idea who the other person is that she’ll be faced with. I’ve changed for the better. Once I cut you off, there’s nothing you can say or do to get back in. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice and you’d better find another planet to reside on.

Interestingly enough, the last time I was this done with a person; it was a man. He’s in town this weekend and all I can think is “Motherfucker, don’t you DARE darken my door.” That I’d put them both into the same category today is interesting, because that’s how she & I became friends.

Never Again. Done means done. Friendship is an ultimate strength, NOT a weakness. Other people have stepped up in your absence and replaced you; something I once thought would be unheard of. Stick that in your bitch pipe and smoke it.

May life provide you with precisely what and who you deserve. I am off to light a candle and say my goodbyes. If you get in touch, expect a fucking bill.

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

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Believe It Or Not, I DO Have Boundaries

“There are two kinds of friendship: the beneficial friendship and the erroneous friendship. The erroneous friendship balances on the principle of “The closer we are, the more okay it is for me to say anything I want to you and for me to treat you any way that I want to, and for me to disrespect you and take advantage of you.”, while a true friendship is rooted in this principle: “The closer we are, the more respect I have for you, the better I will treat you, the higher I will regard you, the more good things I will wish for you.”

You will know someone is a true friend by basis of observing their actions towards you as the friendship grows deeper. A true friend will continue to hold you in higher and higher regard, while the error of a friend will see your goodwill and newfound fondness as basis to do and say whatever he/she wants, that is disrespectful and non-beneficial to you.” C. JoyBell C.

Believe It Or Not, I DO Have Boundaries

Generally I say what I mean and I mean what I say, but when you push my buttons and you keep pushing, you’re going up against the wrong woman. You cannot win, you will not win, and here’s why.

I am not so comfortable with the people in my life that I will over-step my boundaries intentionally. However, yesterday someone SERIOUSLY over-stepped with me, and unless I write my feelings out, I won’t ever speak to this person again, so I’m sorry for involving my readers in something they may not fully understand.

As a friend, and as a person, I am incredibly devoted. Loyal to a fault and “Ride or Die” are the usual terms used to describe the type of friend I am. What I am NOT, is inconsiderate, thoughtless, selfish, rude, bitchy, disrespectful, unappreciative, or a habitual line-stepper. It’s okay to tell me to back off, so long as you do it politely. It’s okay to say “I can’t talk about this now.”, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Basically, it’s okay, so long as you communicate with me properly.

Here’s what is, under no circumstances, NOT EVER okay: Attacking me, accusing, and/or assuming. If you intend to provoke me, do so solely at your own risk, but be forewarned: It might very well be the last thing you ever say or do to another living being.

I do not have the time, patience, or inclination to babysit everyone’s egos. Yes, I have more than one friend in my life. Get.Over.It. I once had a friend who would say “Don’t worry about it, more Lisa for me!”, because she didn’t like to share me with other people. Where is she now? I’d answer, but just in case she stumbles upon this, I will simply say: “ALMOST FIVE YEARS, what are you waiting for? God to say go?!”

I don’t need anyone to pat me on the back for a good deed. You say thank you, and we move on. However, if you’ve done, or are doing, something for me and then you throw it back in my face every opportunity you get, we’re going to either throw down or I am going to throw you right out of my life. I don’t need the drama or the bullshit. Again, I don’t have the time to babysit egos. If you’re feeling “unloved”, hire a hooker, but don’t insult the very kind, respectful, genuine things I say to you, especially after I have just praised you and told you how wonderful I feel you are. When given a compliment of the highest order, say thank you, take it to heart, especially since you know me, but do NOT attack me to the point where I ask myself if you’re worth it any more because I have been betrayed enough to know that walking away from someone is the absolute healthiest choice I can make at times.

Yes, I am angry. Yes, I am pissed off. I’m not going to accept this kind of attitude and behavior from anyone simply because they have been in my life for a long time. I have learned that not every relationship in life will stand the test of time, and while it saddens me to feel this way, maybe saying goodbye (Okay, that would be if I were feeling polite. I don’t feel polite.) is really the best thing for everyone involved.

I have found that people are much more apt to say shit to me via e-mail or social media, than they are to ever so much as consider saying it to my face. There’s a reason for that. Once my tone of voice changes, you might as well just lay down and die, because you will wish for death by the time I’m done with you.

I understand that part of this issue is genuine jealousy and insecurity, and I have no words in ANY language to respond to that. I think the best thing I can say is that I will NEVER understand the way other women’s brains work. I understand myself just fine, but the basic female psyche alludes me. They say that “Men are simple creatures.” (Whoever “they” are.), but the fact of the matter is, men are often a lot less complicated. I say this as a total Girl’s Girl. I have maybe a handful of laid back, easy-going friendships with women, but the rest of them are SO incredibly complicated that it gives me a fucking headache.

Ultimately, I think it is perfectly acceptable to be open about your needs in any relationship. However, your delivery has to be flawless. This is a sad truth. If you say the right thing to a person at the precise right time, you both win. If you say the wrong thing to a person at the wrong time, I don’t expect them to just accept that and say “Okay.” Maybe some people do, but I do not. I’ve been calling people out on their crap since the day I was born, and today is no different.

There is a person in my life who really needs to decide if they are going to “shit or get off the pot.” But make no mistake, once I make the decision that I am done with you, I am truly done. There is no revolving door in my life for bullshit, drama, negativity, childishness, or stupidity. If you go from friend to enemy, you do not go back to friend, not EVER. I do not suffer fools. If you’re going to be a bitch or an asshole, please, do so on your own time, and with someone else entirely. I value my time. Next to my name on the Tree Of Life it says “No time for idiots.” So mote it be.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Domestic Violence: It’s Always Going To Be Personal

Domestic Violence: It’s Always Going To Be Personal

I don’t talk about my personal life on this platform much. You’d really have to know me and be able to read between the lines to pick up on subtle nuances. However, there’s an issue that’s been bothering me and I have decided to open up here and confront it. This might trigger some people, so please read the title carefully and if that is too much for you, it’s okay to ignore this.

Originally I planned on writing this on another blog a year ago. I got side-tracked with other commitments at the time and whatever I had planned fell to the wayside. Not this time. This is the right place to publish it. I no longer feel safe on the other blog and quite frankly, what I have to say isn’t something to be judged by hundreds, least of all those who deem themselves superior. This is not a place for competition, it is a place for sharing, openness, and honesty.

It starts with a very simple comment, one that I’ve said many times before. I am a product of domestic violence. I’m not shy or quiet about it. If asked, I always tell the truth. I knew very early on as a child that there was something “really not normal” about my family life. I vividly remember the fighting, the words, trying not to be home, hating being home, and how things escalated to physical violence. It is one of the reasons I am a writer, it allowed me to “escape” and be fully in control, where no one else could touch me.

I wasn’t even 10 at the time, but I’d had enough. I was the protector. I would put my mother and brother behind me and say “Go ahead, hit me. But you’re NOT going to hit them.” I never knew if my father would reach a point where he’d lay a hand on my mother, but I wasn’t EVER going to find out.

There’s a very fine line between disciplining your children and abusing them. Not all abuse is physical or sexual in context. Some of it is emotional and verbal, and leaves the same type of permanent scarring. It follows you through life.

I would NEVER take anything away from someone who has been in a worse situation, I have no right to do so. All I can say is that I didn’t live their experience, I only lived mine. And yet, I understand, I relate, and I will not speak against your pain, I will only do what I can to support you.

What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am still living with a form of domestic violence. No, I am not married to that person (I would NEVER tolerate abuse from someone that claimed to love me, and the person I am in a relationship with knows that. He’s known me since we were kids, so he also knows I’d knock his fucking teeth out if he so much as spoke to me out of turn. He also knows that’s not me being abusive or being a bitch, it’s simply a reaction. He knows not to sneak up on me, to announce his presence if I don’t sense him, and not to do anything that might make me react in a poor manner. He’s always known these things and he is incredibly respectful of “the boundaries”.), it is not coming from someone who claims to love me, but it IS coming from a family member who shall remain nameless.

Over the last few years, I have had guns and knives pulled on me regularly, a sword was recently held to my throat, and I am often covered in gruesome bruises. There’s a huge difference between bruises where I truly am being a klutz (I walk into the side of my bed or the foot of my bed OFTEN, but that’s ME, and it’s different.) and bruises where someone is intentionally harming me and later denying they ever laid a hand on me. I’m here to say that they have and they are.

This person has been abusive for a good 20 years or so. They are a product of their environment, and no, I am NOT defending that. I think it’s sick and warrants therapy and medication, all of which I have encouraged. I was later accused of “trying to be controlling” by suggesting medication and therapy. Seriously? That’s a fucked up response, but it also explains the mentality behind this person.

Whenever something happens, I am often asked “Why didn’t you call the police?” For one, I know my state laws. Unless I’m beaten bloody, the cops aren’t going to give a shit. You have to show them a history. Unless I go to the ER with broken bones, etc., the cops aren’t going to give a shit or even take a statement. Yes, this person DID fracture my wrist many years ago. The person that took me to the ER that day pleaded with me NOT to say anything to the nurse, doctor, or to press charges. I did not agree with them, but when the time came to speak, I don’t even remember what I said I’d done or what happened to cause the injury. Yes, I am VERY angry at myself for not putting a stop to it right then and there. Maybe things would be different today if I hadn’t had that voice in my head trying to control me.

Moreover, the person harming me can turn on a dime. One of his best friends is a cop, so one phone call and he’d be out of lock-up pretty fucking fast. Is that my only stance on it? No.

What will it take for me to call the police? More evidence. Bruises don’t mean shit to the police. I’d have to be calling them constantly on domestic disputes before they’d do anything, and I have yet to meet a police officer in my current state of residence that is willing to take me seriously. There’s something disturbing to me about a 5.3 ½” woman being harmed by someone twice her size and a hell of a lot taller and no one giving a shit about it, or having them think it’s a fucking joke. In fact, they’ve laughed and not believed me.

I’m not weak. Far from it. I will shoot this person if I have to, and when I fought back over a week ago, I ended up breaking a short sword. Fighting back prevented me from being harmed far worse than I was. This person didn’t care that they’d hurt me, they cared that the sword was damaged! That is the kind of sickness I am dealing with.

I don’t condone violence, but I have to be honest here, because this is serious. I sleep with knives close by. Knives that are bigger than my forearms. I sleep with a 500,000 volt Stun Gun. I keep the Glock locked up, only because it’s all too easy to shoot someone once they’ve pushed you to the point of no return. There’s no way in hell I’d only shoot once. I know myself, and I know that I’d empty a mag, reload, and keep going. That probably sounds awful, but it’s the truth. I know myself well enough to know that certain things will escalate. A gun can protect you, and it should, but I know that if I have to pull, that’s the end of it. My life is not worth that because to everyone else, this person is “normal”. Their ability to turn it on and off is terrifying to witness. Everyone likes or loves them, and that is sociopath 101.

With practically everyone else on the planet, this person is absolutely lovely. Genuine, funny, shirt-off-your back real, and the list goes on and on. The fact that they’ve threatened me in public and said things to me in public that no one has done anything about is quite disturbing. I get nothing, but violence and vitriol. I sought therapy for it, thinking it was me. Repeatedly I was told it was not me, that this person is the one that needs help and medication. And yet, there is no way to help them because they do not believe there is anything wrong with them. They believe I am the problem. I have medical professionals to back up the fact that, that simply isn’t true.

October is National Domestic Violence Month. It is now November 2nd and here I am to say, we shouldn’t just have one month a year where we openly discuss domestic violence. We should discuss it the second it happens, to whoever will listen and take us seriously, with whoever we trust. Don’t stop speaking until you are heard.

I don’t consider myself a victim because I do know how to protect myself. I consider myself a survivor. Unfortunately as women, we are almost always the physically smaller sex. We know this, so we teach ourselves and are taught to fight dirtier. I have some training to protect myself, but as I stated, this person is twice my size, and because they have martial arts training, they think nothing of throwing me down on the floor. In fact, they think it’s funny. I was recently thrown down onto a flight of stairs and dragged by my legs. Again, nothing, but laughter. There’s nothing funny about it.

I have decided to use photos to document proof, in case I ever need it. I am not posting any of them here because that’s not going to be helpful. I’m not even sure I’d legally be allowed to keep this post up if something happened, but I’d much rather someone hear it from me than see me on the 10:00 PM news and think “Wow, I never knew this was going on.” Don’t pity me. That’s not why I wrote this. I wrote it because I am empowered to put an end to all of this.

It is time to break the chain.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Sometimes People Ask For Way Too Much

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Here’s something important you all need to know about me. Above all else, I am supremely professional. However, if you’re antagonistic and you push my buttons right out of the gate, I will remain professional until the job is done, but I won’t ever be anywhere in the vicinity of nice ever again.

Some clients, generally the ones I don’t work with, want a LOT for NOTHING. I am doing a read-through. I was asked to make notes of corrections that need to be made, and I did that, in red. Since I wasn’t asked to edit, I simply provided notes. They were detailed. “This is missing a comma.”, “There is a spelling error.”, “Revise this for grammatical errors.”, “Look this over and add some necessary material. The sentence and/or thought is just hanging.”, stuff like that. Unless you’re a moron, that means you re-read the fucking paragraph and make the corrections. There are children that can follow these very simple instructions, why can’t you?!

I respectfully asked the client if he’d like the work back as I go through each file, and he said yes. I sent back the first file, which contained one chapter. ONE. I then receive a message hours later saying my notes were “cryptic” and that he’d like a “higher level of feedback”. Mind you, I’d only sent back the first chapter. It was fine and I provided feedback, but how much needs to be said about 6,000 words unless it’s really bad?

This was enough to make me want to say something vile and unprofessional. This made me want to say “You’re not paying me to do anything more than a read-through, yet I provided notes. Find your own fucking errors!” If I had submitted the entire book back and only gave 2-3 lines of feedback, that would be one thing, but I’d only submitted back a chapter, which he’d asked for. I included notes at the end and my thoughts. Sometimes, when you’re reading something new, you don’t have a lot of thoughts after a prologue or even after reading that and chapter one. Sometimes it takes 3-5 chapters before you feel like you know the characters and have a feel for the story. I don’t know a single author/writer that will disagree with me.

However, this son of a bitch pushed my buttons. I am sick, so I probably should wait until I feel better to deal with douche bags, but man, I hate idiots. If you’re asking me to do a job, I will do it thoroughly. It is certain that our styles may or may not mesh, but don’t disrespect me or act superior. You’re not paying me enough to give me attitude, and I will never take it, because I don’t give a fuck who you think you are.

Treat your editors, beta readers, and agents with respect. Don’t expect them to do every single thing for you, because it doesn’t work that way. The first time you treat me like your professional toilet cleaner will probably be the last time I ever work for you again, and you can put that in a pipe and smoke it!

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

The Decision

It always helps to have a plan, but some days, it’s perfectly acceptable to wing it.

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve had a deep, abiding urge to tell a long list of people precisely what I think of them. In many instances, I have chosen to refrain. Not out of fear, but out of the fact that it doesn’t make me a better person, and it does not allow me to grow. If someone is a piece of shit to you, sometimes the very best thing for you is to walk away, not say anything, and keep on moving forward. Of course, if a person persistently pursues you for an answer, let them fucking have it.

Who is on my list? Family, a best friend of almost 19 years, and more recently, some “friends” that have proven themselves to be so incredibly full of shit, I am amazed they can breathe actual air. I am pretty sure they are walking EPA violations.

Family is always a mixed bag for a lot of people. Does anyone truly come from the perfect family? I used to think some of my relatives were so pulled together, until one particular funeral when I realized exactly how fucked up and dysfunctional every single person truly is. It was as if their masks had come off at a masquerade ball and I was suddenly able to see them for exactly what they truly are. It’s scary when people put up such good false identities, even to their own family, that you start buying into their bullshit. It’s all a facade, because in the end, no family is perfect, not everyone loves each other, hell, most of them don’t even like each other. In truth, it’s perfectly okay. Moreover, it clarified a lot for me.

Not every friendship is perfect either. The best friend I have issues with is someone who has been a part of my life for an exceptionally long time. We haven’t spoken in four years, yet she occasionally “likes” one of my Facebook posts or comments on something I write. That’s confusing to me, because if I mean anything to her, she should have apologized a long time ago for the crap she’s pulled. I love her, but I also hate her, all in the same sentence. There are moments when I just can’t imagine having allowed her to become a part of my life, and in the same breath, I sometimes wonder how she & I can not speak for so long, and then, out of nowhere, pick up like it was yesterday, like nothing has changed. The truth is, a lot has changed. I have changed. I think this time she knows that, and she’s afraid of what the outcome will be when she inevitably slithers her way back to me. She has no idea what I have in store for her. No, she doesn’t read this.

As for false “friends”, I have no use and even less time for delusional people who think their shit doesn’t stink, or who take offense to things that aren’t offensive, like the truth. If you’re my friend, then you’re my friend all of the time, not when it is convenient for you to be. If you’re not “Ride or Die”, then get the fuck away from me, period. I don’t have time for drama, petty nonsense, or bullshit. I would much rather close ranks than allow some two-faced degenerate anywhere near me, my heart, or my work.

90% of the time, I am an incredibly professional, driven, hard-working woman, and I’m a lady. The other 10% of the time I’m silently contemplating the benefits of letting a person know what I think of them, only to decide it’s not worth it, that they’ll reveal their snake-like personalities to others all in due time, and I can just sit back and let it unfold, without ever having to say a single nasty thing, however deserved it may be.

Sometimes, no matter who the person is, they’re not fucking worth it, and it is perfectly okay to come to that conclusion. The one thing that bothers me though is knowing that as I rise through the ranks, these very same people will return in an attempt to ride my coat-tails. I am going to have to employ a few people to physically and publicly sever the ties.

In short, be careful how you treat people. You never know where they’re going, or how high.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friendship -VS- “Friendship”: Sincerity Or Malice?

FRIENDSHIP -VS- “FRIENDSHIP”: SINCERITY OR MALICE?

If there’s anything I truly hate in this world, it’s people not knowing how to be decent friends. It takes two, truly. Both people have to be committed to the same cause, which is the core of the friendship and what it is built upon. Unfortunately, you will often find that the other person generally doesn’t know your intentions and you may not figure out theirs until it’s too late.

Throughout the course of my life I have had both friends and “friends”, and it’s fair to say that we all have. The latter are the bottom feeders in this world who only come to you with falseness in their hearts. They pretend to be genuine, but they’re either intimidated by you, scared of your strength, jealous of you, or never have good intentions towards anyone. Sometimes it’s a mass combination of all of the above, and so much more. They are the types of people that are 1000 shades of fucked up and, no matter how sweet, kind, entertaining, genuine, or funny they appear to be, they are hiding behind a facade and not only lying to you, but lying to themselves. They will seem selfless, but they’re selfish, self-possessed, and have cruelty and hatred residing within their souls, and they choose to take it out on people that do not deserve it, as opposed to directing it at those that do.

I can only use myself as an example here. I give a LOT to the relationships in my life. I don’t know any other way to be. Need advice? I’m your girl. Need help hiding a body? What body? No one will ever find it. I have helped friends whenever they have needed help, regardless of what that help entailed. I feel that is the right thing to do. I do not like seeing my friends struggle and suffer if I am in a position to do something about it. I will talk to you for hours about anything and nothing, and I will truly listen to you. I’m not on the other end of the phone rolling my eyes or making faces, I am fully engaged. I am loyal and I am devoted. In short, I know my worth and value in all things, but especially as a friend. It is one of the things in life I am most certain of.

A lot of missteps in friendship are based on poor communication. If you choose not to say something to someone when, and if, it bothers you, that is YOUR fault, not THEIRS. Take ownership of your short-comings. I have my own faults here too. Sometimes it will take me a few days, weeks, or months to call somebody out on something I feel was inappropriate, wrong, and/or offensive. I don’t allow disrespect. However, even if it takes me some time, I will still do it. I do not avoid confrontation, and I always feel better once I’ve clarified with someone what is, or isn’t, going on and how to come back to a good place. It doesn’t happen with every single friendship, sometimes a friendship has run its course, reached an end and that, too, is ok, but the effort still needs to be made.

If ever you want to end a friendship, as in all relationships, it is crucial to tell the other person. For one, it shows good manners and two, it brings closure to the relationship. It doesn’t matter if you were friends for three months, six months, a year, or if you’ve been friends for 30 years, have some fucking decency in your dealings with others, lest you gain a reputation for the way you handle your personal relationships. Especially with other women. I can assure you that women talk. If you’ve been a bitch to a woman and later become friends with someone she knows really well, she won’t hesitate to tell that friend exactly what your deal is. I’ve had more than one or two of my close friends warn me about other women, and they were always right. Thankfully, I wasn’t fully invested into the new people, so it wasn’t a big deal or the end of the world.

I always encourage people to communicate with me. If you don’t like something I’ve said, come to me and Spit.It.Out. Just be honest. You’re not sure what I meant by something? FUCKING ASK. Things like that frustrate me. I don’t like wasting my time with anyone, nor do I like it when people attach my name to bullshit stories that are fictional beyond words, and delusional by half.

If you have an issue with me, say it to my face. Be direct. Don’t run and hide like a toddler, and don’t tell lies. I may not be perfect, I’m certainly not winning any awards for warmth, fuzziness, or coddling, but at least I know what respect, loyalty, and real friendship is all about. Once I lose respect for you, you do not exist. If you close the door, I will put Wolverine’s adamantium claws on my end of the door so that if you ever try re-opening it, you get to hang on your own sword, and your own mistakes. That’s how it works. If you want to be someone’s friend, have honor and dignity. Unless you’re incredibly self-absorbed and shallow. I assure you, NO ONE wants a false friend.

Choosing to be a part of someone’s life as their friend is something so many take for granted. Extending the hand of friendship, to me, is a big deal. If you bite that hand, be prepared for what comes next. People often underestimate my nice factor, which I can tell you from experience, is limited. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you want love and acceptance, be loving and accepting. If you want or need a certain thing in a friendship, as in any relationship, it is perfectly ok to ask for it. If you’re going through a rough time and you feel like you need a little extra emotional support, say so. Don’t expect everyone to be a mind reader, because the simple fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as mind readers.

If friends or family treat you like shit and you always allow them to return to your life, you are allowing the behavior and accepting it. In fact, you’re encouraging the cycle to continue. Over time, you lose sight of what it’s like to be treated the right way. In the grand scheme, your acceptance of such negativity allows the chains to wrap around you. This extends to all relationships in ones’ life. Allowing bad behavior, accepting it, and never saying anything in response is encouraging it. If I, as your friend, have encouraged you to put your foot down and you ignore me, I lack sympathy when it continues to happen to you. Not because I’m a cruel person, but because you have been repeatedly given sound advice. I do not mince words and I do not suffer fools gladly. I mean what I say, unless I’m pissed, in which case I will probably say nothing until I cool off. If I am wrong and I know I am wrong, I will always apologize.

This was not written for any particular reason, so do not presume it is directed at you, the reader, in any way, shape, or form, except maybe in an advisory capacity. I’ve had this on my mind for a while and felt it cathartic to put it into action.

We have three different types of friends throughout the course of our lives, and in some instances, for many, many lives, until we learn our lessons and get it right. The different types of friends are “those for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. If you’re going to be the type of friend to me that I am to you, then you’re ride or die, and you are in my life for a reason and a lifetime. I will always be loyal and devoted to you. However, if you’re only sticking around long enough to use me, please, fuck off now, and take your insane monkeys with you.

If one person is a flake, don’t take it personally. If one person is over-sensitive and cannot handle the truth, then that person needs to work on themselves and letting them fly is the best thing to do when they refuse to listen. Not every friendship is forever, but maybe that’s because the ones that are, are so much more valuable, and are built on a solid foundation, as opposed to being built on one person’s immediate interests.

In closing, I am incredibly GRATEFUL for the lovely, talented, graceful, elegant, mature, beautiful on the inside and outside, kind, generous, hilarious, devoted, loyal friends in my life. I can count them on two hands, but quality is far superior to quantity. Some have been a part of my life for a short period of time, but are no less special to me. Many have been with me for 18-25 years and, despite our imperfections and character flaws, despite agreeing to disagree, we love each other, we care about each other so very much, and we’d do anything for each other. A friend recently told me that I have been there for her through EVERYTHING, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and she thanks God for me. Another told me how people are always using her, but that I am the bright spot in her life. In friendship, things should be positive. If they aren’t, detox yourself from the poison. You’ll find a lot of clarity there.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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