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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If It Looks Like A Duck

If there’s one thing I absolutely have no tolerance for, it’s being lied to. To add insult to injury, I hate being lied to and discriminated against all in the same breath. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might very well smell like bullshit.

Since long before I moved here, the local library has offered delivery service to anyone who is home-bound. I can safely say that being as sick as I am, unable to get out of bed nine days out of ten, that definitely qualifies as too sick to be there on any type of constant basis. For over a month now, that was fine. No questions, no drama, just deliveries and pickups every 2-3 weeks.

On Friday, the 1st, after nearly a month of battling migraines and Fibromyalgia pain, I felt good enough to drop off my stack of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, and pick up the items on hold. I called in advance to let the administrator know, so she’d be able to move my items off of her desk. She’s the one who delivers and picks up, so I felt it was only respectful to let her know she need not come out prior to a holiday weekend. She has never been anything but lovely to me.

During this seemingly simple process, a woman checking out my items took note of my account status and questioned me. She didn’t ask what was wrong, but she was loud enough that I informed her that my health is a personal matter. She then sends me upstairs to correct a secondary issue, but the new person decided to outright challenge me. Not only did she question me, but I refused to answer her because she was outright rude and violating my privacy by announcing my business to a busy library. I was always taught that you keep your voice down in a library, but she was so loud that people looked up from their laptops. My personal information does not need to be read off of a screen at decibels that can be heard in space. She stared at me and I stared her down. I waited until she looked away and did her job (A DVD set I returned was badly damaged and I could not view the final three episodes on disc six. I was asking that a copy be ordered from a different library and I suggested the returned copy be replaced. You would have thought I had just asked her if she’d married a Martian. The woman was as dumb as a box of rocks with a pile of shit on top, but I tried to patiently walk her through the process by speaking slowly.), but I knew I hadn’t heard the last of things simply by showing up looking like I’m healthy. I knew one or both of them would say something to someone and cause trouble. I had, of course, hoped they’d have compassion and realize that people like me are the reasons they have jobs, but alas, one of them did or said something. They will now be forced to pay for their callous invasion into my privacy. They’re librarians; not medical professionals.

Here’s the thing with invisible illnesses: On a good day, I look damn good. It does not, by any means, make me a liar, or mean that I am somehow “abusing the system”, which is precisely what I was accused of. It means I took 40 minutes or so to even out my skin tone, fill in my eyebrows, and make myself look like a human-being. It’s not a prerequisite for everyone, but it is for me. When you spend your days in agony, it’s good to remind yourself that you’re young, attractive, and clean up really well. I do this for ME, not for anyone else. Unless I pointed it out, most people would not be able to tell you that I had makeup on, unless they were looking at my eyes. For me, it’s similar to getting a haircut, in terms of analogies. We all look and feel better when our hair looks nice, or maybe that’s just 99% of the women I know and most of the men. My brother began going grey young and when he started to realize that I wasn’t joking about his hairline receding, he started shaving his head every 6-8 weeks, if not more often than that. He feels good when he knows he’s not sporting a mop of hair. It makes him look about 10 years younger than he is, so it’s a win-win. Wearing makeup, for me, is a form of art. I’m not masking anything, I’m just showing a little creativity. I didn’t go in wearing false lashes or a full glam look, it was pretty basic, but I was judged for it. You could hear them thinking “What’s wrong with her? She looks perfectly healthy to me.” Yet, I was limping, something that seemed to go unnoticed by these old bats.

On the 6th, I received a phone call from the director of the library. He listed all of the accusations against me and informed me I would receive one more delivery and one more pick up, and that the program was being “temporarily discontinued” and he gave me a list of excuses that simply did not make sense. Each story was different from the last. I asked if it was going to affect everyone in the program or just me. Three times he said “No, JUST YOU.” I made him repeat it so he could hear what he was saying, because it’s blatant discrimination. I wanted him to hear himself. He claimed that the Board of Public Libraries in Boston would be contacted for “guidelines” and spewed some other nonsense. He blew off a lot of questions I asked and was very rude and dismissive, all while trying to seem charming and sincere. You could smell the bullshit from three centimeters away.

First he claimed that I had “too many holds” and they were getting into trouble with the other libraries over it. At the time, I had over 20 holds. I now have 7. Then he claimed that the program was “half-baked” and that guidelines had never been implemented as to how many items a person could have at one time, etc. The stories became more and more ridiculous. Ultimately, he made me sound like the scourge of all readers. I ended up returning a stack of books and DVD’s I never had the time to read or watch, but because he was such an asshole I made sure I got ahead of him. One thing you do NOT do is mess with THIS writer. I’m well-known for being an incredible public speaker; the second he deigned to call me he started a fight he will not win.

After I got off the phone with him I called the Board of Public Libraries myself. When they returned my call, they were absolutely APPALLED by how I was treated. I spent over 40 minutes on the phone with the person handling this, and she could not have been kinder or more respectful. She told me that the individual library establishes the guidelines for this “wonderful program” and that she understood how much I suffer because she has three family members with Fibromyalgia or other invisible illnesses. Her exact words were “On a good day, you look and feel great and on a bad day, you can’t walk.” YES, she 100% understood. I felt vindicated. She immediately put in a call to their “director” and suggested I follow-up by writing a letter and CCing the Board of Trustees. She said “I think you’re the perfect person to show them that not everyone fits into the mold of what “sick” looks like. You legally have the same rights as if you came into the library in a wheelchair and they have to accommodate you.” She told me she’d been a library director for 15 years prior to moving on to a different job and had NEVER treated someone in such a manner, and that the last thing any director wants is for things to escalate to the Board of Trustees because that means they can lose their funding and be closed down permanently. She agreed that I have every right to read the books I want to read, watch the DVD’s I want to see, and borrow the music I want to hear. She said “The other libraries know this program exists. If it’s such a big deal, the larger ones can order extra copies if it’s in their budget or the other person on the wait list can wait an additional week. It’s not the end of the world.” I felt like I’d just spoken to my spirit animal. 🙂

My nearly two thousand word letter will be going to the “director” and I’ve CC’d both Boards on purpose. This asshole screwed with the wrong chick with one phone call, but make no mistake, he will either work with me or I’ll have his job. I do not mess around when it comes to discrimination in regard to invisible illness. If he did this to me, he will inevitably attempt to do it to someone else, someone who isn’t as smart or as strong as I am, someone who lacks my voice and character. That’s unacceptable to me, so not only am I putting my foot down, I’m ready to discuss this with every local media outlet known to man. I’m sure the Board Of Trustees would have a field day with that, so I gave him the option of working with me to set guidelines into place and I instructed him to teach his staff about respect and discretion as the better part of valor, lest it get them into trouble, especially if I lay eyes on either of those poor saps again. Either they’re stupid, senile, or a combination thereof, and if that’s the case, then neither of them should be allowed to work with the public in such a fashion.

Have you been discriminated against as a sufferer of an invisible illness? If so, let me know about it in the comments.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

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

Long Days, Short Nights

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The days are way too long. The nights are too fucking short. Sleep is hard to come by, but man, I’m trying. I was raised to believe that doing your best is “enough”, providing it is truly “your best”.

I suffer from “Superwoman Syndrome”. This is a real thing. I’m an overachiever that has this unbelievable difficulty asking for help. Perhaps it stems from constantly being stabbed in the back when I HAVE asked for help in the past, or because people like to throw things in your face as if they are owed something. “I was there for you when…” are probably not wise words to hurl in my direction. If I’m there for someone, it is genuine, and I don’t have to say “I told you so.” years down the road. If you don’t want to be there for someone, don’t be, but that’s on you.

Fibromyalgia makes life harder than it needs to be. I used to be able to walk for miles on end, doing countless things along the way, and then walk back. It was never a big deal. Now, I actually have to gather strength to run errands and take care of very basic needs. It’s pathetic. And the last thing in the world I need is for anyone to point it out to me, as if I don’t already know that I’m slow. “We just went without you because we didn’t want to wait three hours for you to get ready.” NICE. Yes, that’s sarcasm.

Even without Fibromyalgia, I was already a pretty isolated individual. I had (and still have) a very small group of close friends and my family. I spent my days writing and editing, and I still do. It’s not the kind of thing I do in public. I’m an introverted extrovert. The people that see me work my ass off are cat and kitten, they know Mommy’s working. Pretty much everyone else thinks I do absolutely nothing, because I’m very quiet and they rarely see me. When you don’t do what everyone else does in terms of “normal”, people automatically make wild assumptions. It would be very nice indeed to do absolutely nothing. Attach a six figure salary to that and I will sign up immediately. Shit, I’d love to do “nothing” by spending my days at the mall, or the bookstore, or any number of places that I haven’t been in the last four years, or longer.

The most important thing to me now is having emotional support. I’m going into some horrific, tough battles and all I really want is to be heard, understood, and cared about. I’d rather a person not have the right words, and say a prayer for me.

There are no heroes in this. I have my Superwoman cape and I’m not giving it back, but all kidding aside, being supported means a great deal to me. The simple fact that I’m asking for it shows me that I’ve grown. Help and support, that’s all I need at the moment.

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

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Timing Is Crucial

Your voice is one of the most important tools you are given in life. Sadly, it is an under-utilized tool that we are born with.

While I do often say that sometimes people take “freedom of speech” way too far, I also believe that far too many believe hold back for fear of what others will think and say.

One of my best friends admonished me for pulling yesterday’s piece, saying that I should not have to edit myself to appease other people’s issues. I agree, but since this is a newer platform, maybe next year would be a better time to bring up the points I would like to make, and by then, there might be additional like-minded people who wouldn’t be hurt by opinions and basic facts. However, while she’s right about me holding back my voice so as not to stir up drama, I also believe there’s a time and a place, for everything. Yesterday wasn’t the right time, but this will always be the place.

I’ve been accused of having “no filter”, and that’s partially true. I will filter myself in public to some extent, and I will filter myself in a room full of people who I don’t know, but I will still adhere to some basic principles. One of which is: Always be yourself. So many people worry what others will think of them, for one thing or another. I don’t. In fact, if you’re reading this and you DO worry about what people think of you, stop right now.

Ask yourself if other people’s opinions truly matter at the beginning and end of each day. I assure you, they do not. Opinions do not make or break you. What matters most is how you feel about yourself. It’s not ego, it’s not cockiness, it’s confidence and grace. Know thyself, and in doing so, be true to yourself. Don’t tell yourself negative things because that’s what others tell you. For one, it’s unhealthy and two, it’s what I call “self-abuse”.

When your inner voice (not your intuition, but your internal dialogue) turns against you and whispers negativity in your head, tell it to fuck off. I’m not kidding, tell it to fuck off. Do not allow yourself to take any of that negativity to heart. If you do, you’ll spend a lifetime with self-doubt and you’ll spend a fortune on therapy that could be better spent elsewhere.

Ultimately, it comes down to judgement. It’s your call. Speak up and speak out, be yourself, and live a more fulfilling life. In the same vein, sometimes you have to know when to let something rest. Just because you file something away for another time doesn’t mean you have failed in any way. It’s important to know when the time is truly right, even if for something as simple as the written word.

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

Thoughts Through Other Eyes

I am tired in a soul-deep, bone-deep way that I can’t quite explain. I know it is borne out of doing too much, too fast, without proper rest. Sometimes I forget that I have limitations due to Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain and I simply want my normal life back. In turn, I suffer for every move I make in ignoring said limitations. Simply put, it BLOWS.

I hurt from the very top of my spine, which, by the way, is where my tattoos begin (Yes, right underneath my hair down a portion of my spine. Believe me when I say, they did not hurt. The entire experience was very positive. It felt more like being scraped repeatedly as opposed to actual pain, and who better to know the difference than someone who experiences pain 24/7? I sat for close to two hours. I have heavily inked male friends who told me their own ink in the exact same spot hurt like hell and had to be done in 2-3 sessions. They have less on their spine than I do.), all the way to the center of both feet. I’ve done a LOT this week. Now, all I want to do is get this mind-numbing headache and unbelievable stomach pain to stop so I can SLEEP. I’d also like someone to feed and water my girls, so I don’t have to get out of bed unless I really want/need to. What are the chances of the latter happening? Slim to none, and unfortunately Slim is very easily distracted.

I survived Thanksgiving, and did every single thing I set out to do in terms of cooking and baking. YAY! Of course now, I am happy to sit in front of my laptop or the TV for the next week, only moving when absolutely necessary.
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An interesting job presented itself recently. I would get to use my little-used Russian in editing a pretty large manuscript. It sounds great, and yet, I need a few days to sleep on it. Yes, someone else could get the job instead, and that can happen no matter what, but it made me take a good look at my list of spoken and learned languages. I’m actually a lot smarter than I let on, but I’ve always had to be.
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When you’re a writer, people judge you based on the work you present to them. I think this is true more so now than ever before, but at times, it doesn’t seem to matter at all if you’re presenting absolute crap, which is insulting to me.

You can walk into a business meeting looking like Stephen King, so long as the material is brilliant, no one will care. They might whisper about you amongst themselves later on, but they’re truly looking at the manuscript above all else. As a woman, it’s different. You have to be presentable enough that when you’re photographed for the inside and/or back cover, you don’t completely disgrace your entire gender. I cannot tell you how many times someone has told me how pretty a writer is when all I could think was “But is her work any good?” Not in a catty or bitchy way, but in a genuine “Unless we’re talking about Angelina Jolie, I don’t care what she looks like” way. I want what I read to be of a specific level of quality. I want it to capture and intrigue me. I don’t care what the author looks like. However, I have noticed that a great many people do.

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The flip side of this particular coin is that more and more authors now attend San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con, along with similar types of events all over the world. There is a lot more social media interaction with readers and as much face-to-face interaction as you (and your publisher) see fit. Being comfortable in your intelligence and knowledge isn’t always easy when you’re, technically, competing for the attention of those very same readers because Jennifer Lawrence or Eva Green are also in the building promoting a highly anticipated film. Truth be told, I’d rather sit and listen to Eva Green too, but that’s just me. I’m slightly fascinated by her and have been for a good 8 years or so.

I don’t know a lot of writers that are absolute extroverts. I know a lot of very shy, quiet, introverted writers who can be extroverts for short periods of time, in the right company. While not exactly shy, I am definitely on the quieter side most of the time. If you happen to be discussing something interesting or something I am knowledgeable about, I MIGHT chime in, I might not. However, of late, I’ve noticed I’m getting some odd attention in public settings.

For the most part, but really only face-to-face, women talk to me purely about superficial things. Hair, skin, the nail polish I have on, my tattoos (Because I completely forget that they’re there and that they’re visible. I apply sunscreen to them, that’s the extent of my awareness most days,), make-up, perfume, etc. Men, on the other hand, ask different questions and approach you differently. I try very hard to be focused in my day-to-day life, but there are many days where I truly don’t want to have any type of debate while on line at the bank or discuss the price of gas, oil, milk, eggs, etc. I do not have “Has all the answers” on a t-shirt or my forehead, and yet, this happens to me constantly.

I like for my work to speak for itself, but I absolutely make an effort at putting my best face forward. I’d prefer for someone to judge me based on my work and who I am as a person, but I know that’s not how life works. Women are harshly critiqued on their appearance. It’s not something I’ve ever liked and I like it even less now. However, I realize we are all guilty of it to some extent.

By all means, be disappointed in something that doesn’t screw with someone’s self-worth and self-confidence, but don’t attack others for what is, in all honesty, a quirk of nature. If you’ve ever said something to someone that sent them running to a plastic surgeon to “fix the problem”, maybe you should take a closer look at yourself because raining your issues onto others is one of the most unattractive things one can do.

Just not lest ye be judged. Be true to yourself and don’t worry about anything or anyone else.

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

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