Naked and Proud

I do feel as though we live in a world which promotes a lot of falsehoods. The idea that so many believe they are, “perfect” or use the term, “living my best life”, is ridiculous beyond words. It’s as though everyone is desperately trying to place Photoshop upon their reality. I can’t promote blatant lies, or the, “fake it ’til you make it” thought process. I’d rather celebrate the truth, even though it is difficult, dark, and miserable. At least it is honest.

I’m struggling and suffering. I am tired of apologizing for it, or worse, making myself feel even more horrible, as a result of not being able to do what I truly want to do each day. I’m battling through a lot and I honestly don’t know what the other side of things look like; or if I’ll make it there in time. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but I’m not going to hide the facts. I am a much better person for not pretending.

I am making a transition with this website, which involves some technological changes. Bear with me. I’ll get there as soon as I figure out my new business laptop. It arrived several days ahead of schedule and took me by surprise, leaving me mentally and emotionally unprepared. I’ve never received an expensive piece of technology without a tracking number before, so I felt jolted upon realizing what my delivery actually was. I wasn’t in the full headspace to do more than a basic set-up with it, but I will say it is beautiful. 🙂 I’m proud of myself for not just the purchase, but the overall investment into a new, but profound way to expand my voice and, hopefully, help others along the way.

In the meantime, I’m going to be working on my scars, among other things. I am not a failure because I refuse to pretend. I prefer to remain rooted in the reality of imperfection.

One (A-Deen)

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“Overwhelmed. Disappointed. Hurt. Sadness. Grieving. Struggling. Stabbed in the back. Empty. Trapped. Darkness. Silence. Isolation, but I’m not lost. Beauty in chaos. Trying to find a way back to myself. Living in truth. Attempting to heal. Gunpowder and lead. Through authenticity; anything is possible. And yet, very few people understand that you can want MORE, without being greedy; without ego. Your idea of “more” isn’t their idea, and that’s fine. No one asked for their interpretation. Hell, no one asked for their opinion!

Universe, LET’S DO THIS.”

© 2019 by Lisa Marino and Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

From Scratch

img_20190315_195918_668Two days. That’s all it took to completely erase me. My entire past and much of the present; things I’ve held onto tightly because I believed I had something in life worth fighting for. I still had hope. I believed in the responsibility. I believed in keeping specific things, and people, alive, and sacred. Now, I have to start over, with nothing but memories that take over my mind and torture me. How much trauma can someone with Complex-PTSD can handle? Step into my pain; it’s not a pretty or fun place to be. 😦 I’ve got zero hope left. 

Some people might relish the opportunity of a clean slate, a new beginning, or whatever one would call this hell I am trying to live through. Me? I feel completely dead inside, and no one directly around me allows me to talk about what I think or feel. They change the subject and talk about nonsense, or they only want to talk about themselves. It’s unbelievable how selfish others are. They “don’t want to hear it” if I have something to say, no matter what the subject may be. They ignore the suffering, they ignore the pain I am dealing with, and they show me how much they care…about themselves. Writing is the only place where my thoughts, views, and feelings are respected and/or accepted. You don’t have to understand it or even be able to empathize. You simply read, or not. I cannot hold it against you. There’s a lot to be said for pouring your heart into something and clicking PUBLISH. More often than not, I forget what I’ve said after that. Not because my short-term memory is that bad, but because writing is pure, honest freedom for me. Until I start receiving messages about how much my voice has helped others, I forget about a lot of the subjects I’ve covered over the years. I don’t know that this will help anyone other than me, but purging a tiny amount of the pain I am dealing with is not a selfish thing to do. Last time I checked, my name was on this platform. No one else gets to speak for me. 

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When you lose everything you’ve ever owned; including your family’s entire history, every photo dating back to pretty much the beginning of photography within your family, all of your clothes, computers and other assorted electronics, carefully chosen furniture, jewelry from every major life event, the one piece I had of my father’s mother, and everything that belonged to my mother and Grandmother. A myriad of pieces given to me to commemorate important life events. 99% of it from people who are no longer alive. Books I treasured, absolutely everything I held dear, because the majority of it was a part of who I am, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces. It’s more than jolting. It’s traumatic beyond words. Only one person told me they would feel precisely as I do; hurt, erased, traumatized, in deep emotional anguish. If one more person says, “It’s just stuff.”, I will personally rip their eyeballs out and force them down their throat. Or worse. I have no clue why people think I’m a nice person and incapable of physical harm. Don’t test this Scorpion. 

As a direct result of this loss, I have to change all of my legal documentation. Someone immediately tried opening accounts in my name. Thankfully, it was red-flagged and I was contacted via e-mail and phone, but I don’t know if any damage was done before it was flagged. Someone stupidly said to me, “Who would want to steal YOUR identity?” Are you serious?! I don’t know how these particular criminals think because I’m not a criminal, but I don’t believe they give a damn about who they steal from. It can happen to anyone, and it does. Identity theft is something we all need to be protected from, and made highly aware of. This was something I was concerned would happen. Always, ALWAYS listen to your intuition.

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Every single day of this “new life” is a reminder of all the problems one faces as the direct result of others actions, and inaction. It’s a reminder of exactly where you stand in this world, as well as with the people in your life.

I catch myself thinking all the time, “What’s the point of all this? What the hell did I do to deserve such torture?” I’m the one in tears, living with doubts. I”m the only one deeply upset and troubled by this. And each time, I wish I simply wouldn’t wake up the following day, that a car would hit me, that something or someone will finally realize there’s only so much even a strong person can cope with before they are done. That’s where I am; Done. My life could not be more meaningless. 

Between this, and the injury sustained in January, who wouldn’t be done? I’ve got an idiot doctor who refuses to manage my pain (and clearly cannot be bothered to return a phone call. He is about to receive a strongly worded, unpleasant e-mail. By ordering a necessary test, he’s not doing me a favor, he’s looking for additional damage. He makes it sound like a negotiation. It isn’t; it’s my health, and my life!), so I am constantly throwing up because there’s only so much pain the body can handle, or so much stress. I can’t keep food down most days, and someone recently implied that I’m doing it on purpose; not eating. If you actually care about me, don’t EVER fucking insinuate that I have an eating disorder. 1) That’s not concern, that’s being cruel because you don’t understand what this level of physical, mental, and emotional pain is like. Ignorance is bliss. Be glad you don’t know, but don’t toss your ugly negativity in my direction. 2) Comments like that are hurtful, thoughtless, unnecessary, and do not meet the realm of “love” or “concern”. 3) Comments such as they are, are accusatory and full of hatred. Do those comments make you feel better about yourself? Are they necessary? Ask yourself these questions before you open your mouth. 4) A truly caring, loving person would be on my side. They would be so concerned that pain is doing this to me, and they’d be physically and emotionally present. They would show me their support. I’m pretty sure the FedEx delivery guy has more compassion for me right now. Yes, that’s sarcasm. 5) If you’ve said any or all of these things, you should be ashamed of yourself, because I am/was ashamed for you each time these barbs were thrown my way. You’re lucky I have the grace to walk away. That is a testament to the existence of a Higher Power. It’s a testament to a lot where my character is concerned. 

No one seems to understand how bad all of this is, nor has anyone been able to understand where my head is at. There’s no victim mentality in my mind, heart, or soul, this is simply me conveying enormous difficulty, as many writers do. I can’t even be “fake polite”, so what you get is exactly who I am. I don’t have the time or the patience to pretend. My life is not, nor will it ever be, “Instagram perfect”. There is beauty that comes from being authentic, from suffering and growing through the pain, and from being a person who would prefer to build people up, instead of constantly tearing them to shreds. Imperfect and honest is beautiful; don’t EVER let anyone tell you otherwise.    

My anxiety is through the fucking roof. Almost to the point where I considered asking my doctor to put me on a higher dose of anti-anxiety medication or switch the medication up entirely. I am depressed beyond measure (Please don’t worry about this; I am under the care of a physician. He hasn’t called me an idiot to my face, and actually said he never would, but when he rolls his eyes at me, I KNOW I’m being an idiot and that he’s being incredibly diplomatic. I trust that this doctor has my best interest at heart.). I have no emotions; just anger, hatred, and a truckload of sarcasm. No one has really noticed. Everyone is pretending, or living on their own planet. and that’s insulting as fuck. One of my best friends pointed out that I’ve never not been highly communicative, even when my father was dying, During the worst shit in my life, I still took the time to listen to other people, no matter what is was they were going through. During some of the worst times in my life, I have helped others and they had no idea what I was going through. Again, this lends to character. 

When you’re going through awful things with damn near zero support, it makes things even worse. When a person has very little to wear, buying a t-shirt or a sweatshirt does not fix the profound loss of their clothing, sneakers, shoes, boots, etc. It’s a nice gesture, but it does not fix the long-term issue. It’s appreciated, but it doesn’t solve the problem at hand. Knowing precisely what is missing and how much I relied on my wardrobe hurts like hell. Granted, most of my clothes might not have been valued by anyone other than me, but I deemed each item critical. I take really good care of my clothes and have had many sweaters and sweatshirts since junior high. Now? Now, I have little to nothing. I would have to do laundry every few days if I was constantly out of the house because I don’t have enough of any one item to go more than a week or so without washing mostly all I own. In the past, I could have gone months without doing laundry and still had something clean to wear each day. Sometimes, I think that is an American luxury.  

Initially, a few people (friends, mostly, and one family member) offered to help. They said, “Put a list together and we will try to help however much we can.” I was genuinely touched by that offer, but then I did the math on the “list of replacement items” and deemed it unfair to ask other people to fix MY problems. I’m not selfish. I’m desperately trying to figure my shit out. I know I will be able to replace certain things slowly, but the big stuff weighs heavily on my mind and breaks my heart. It’s like someone walked up, stabbed me in the stomach, and took my soul along with the knife. I mean hell, I cried over everything that was once in my kitchen. Priceless items that were passed down to me. I’ll never be able to get these items back. They were NOT “things”, they were history. No one deserves to have their history erased. 

For the evil people who have my belongings; I hope you understand karma. You took away the last shred of my hope and faith. I hope you rot to death, because people like you are walking cancer and your level of evil does not deserve to exist. Evil does not deserve to be saved, to be rescued, or to be loved. It’s wholly deserving of punishment. And yet, we rarely get to see truly evil people receive their punishments in life, do we? A friend recently mentioned seeing someone’s downfall and laughing about it. I’m not cruel enough to laugh, as she did, but I would, on occasion, like to see justice. Mostly, I just see repeated injustice and I don’t want to live in a world where this is everywhere. I’m waiting for the phone call I am sure to receive when my previous engagement ring is pawned. It is laser inscribed and would be very hard to cut down. The second anyone sees it, they’re not going to want to touch it. They can, and will, end up in jail. It is insured by my ex-fiance’s family and they are aware it is missing. They wanted me to keep it because they were never going to approve of another woman. The stone has been in their family since it was first cut over a century ago. I was once very proud to be wearing it. Life changed, but I am hopeful the ring will be returned to them. It was never truly mine, but I valued it and took exceptional care of it.    

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When I left Pennsylvania, I did so with just two framed photos: One of my mother, Aunt, and Grandmother, and another of my Grandfather and I as a baby. My baby book is gone, along with all of my baby photos. Pictures of me holding my brother and photos of us through the years. Thousands of photos which marked half of my life, my entire career, and it’s all gone. Same for my brother. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to care. He’s got clothes and other things to keep him going. I do not. I’m barely making ends meet at the moment (I had to turn down a lot of work that came my way these past few months. I cannot sit for sixteen hours editing any more. My lower back is a disaster and my neck flares up from stress in five minutes.) and there’s a lot of financial pressure on me. If prostitution was legal, I’d be on a street corner tomorrow. I’m not joking.

I have nothing to go back to, and nothing to go back for. I have been erased. There’s nothing left of me or for me. 

I have to say that in all this personal horror and pain, the kindest thing someone did for me, a perfect stranger, was find an autographed first edition book from one of my favorite authors (I had an extensive collection of first edition books from authors I admire, respect, and whose work I absolutely love. I loved those books like some people love their children, and I took exceptionally good care of them. They were on shelves in my living room, in alphabetical order. All of my music and DVDs were also in alphabetical order. Yeah, I’m a bit of a freak. Live and let live.) and have it shipped to me. I was so stunned by this gesture of kindness. When I opened it, I immediately shed tears of shock, and felt such overwhelming gratitude because, again, this person doesn’t know me, and yet, they treated me with such sweetness and generosity of spirit. I will NEVER forget the gesture and I will absolutely pay it forward.

I was raised to always lend a hand, always help friends and family when you are able, and NEVER keep score. I’ve helped people even when I wasn’t able, because sometimes all a person needs is to be heard and understood. Sometimes, a person needs to know they’re valued. I have no such knowledge at the moment. 

I feel utterly abandoned by the vast majority of people who claim to love and care about me. Everyone claims to be “so busy”, but if you have time to post selfies non-stop and be obnoxious in general online, then you have five minutes to check in with someone and make sure they’re okay. A text message is a quick means of communication when you don’t have hours to spend on the phone. My days of spending hours talking to anyone via phone are dead and buried; I don’t even think I like enough people to want to spend that much time talking. I don’t have anything of value to discuss. At least not at the moment.  

If I don’t answer someone, it ISN’T because I am busy. Sometimes I am, and I’ll reply to let you know that I am indeed busy and not ignoring you. Time gets away from me very quickly these days, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t on my mind or in my heart. Other times, my silence is the only thing keeping the other person from having to breathe through tubes. Thoughts don’t hurt, but my hands around someone’s throat is a whole other ballgame. 

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A little over a month and a half ago, an incident occurred and as a result, I asked several close friends if they perceived me in a negative light. I used very specific words when I asked the question. Most people openly said, “Absolutely not.” and one encouraged me to “Always be myself.” One friend, who I thought so highly of, gave me a reply that was hurtful, insulting, rude, and disrespectful. I would like to think she didn’t mean to come off like that, but I refuse to make excuses for people. Once you say it, you can’t take it back unless it’s within thirty seconds and comes with an epic apology. Think before you fucking speak. After reading what she said multiple times, I decided that it was best to keep my mouth shut. To discover that a close friend is secretly judging you behind your back is extremely hurtful. If she wanted to play games and/or pick on someone, she chose the wrong person because I can hit you and I will always hit harder. I’m exactly as advertised; not that nice. 

When a person has stressed positivity to you and comes at you with immense negativity, not only are they a hypocrite of the highest order, but they have clearly forgotten all the times you have blindly supported them. They have also shown you their true colors. They’ve been unmasked and there’s your ultimate sign. Her comment made me think of all the times where I had momentary judgments I pushed into the far corners of my mind because I don’t like being the girl who is judging her friends. In moments like that, I keep my mouth shut. I work really hard not to be that kind of person, because not only is it unattractive, but no one would want to be friends with someone like that; someone secretly and cruelly judging them. Especially me. Suddenly, I wanted to remind her of every single lapse in her judgement in her life on this earth, as opposed to my rare lapses. I’m not tooting my own horn, I’m just sharing my honest thoughts. You can be honest without being cruel or hurting someone intentionally. 

There is always a way to answer someone and NOT be hurtful. It’s called TACT. I know, because I specifically ask people if they want the truth or if they want my opinion. I give them a brief way out because I know at times, I can be quite harsh. Most times, people don’t want the truth at all, they just want to be told they’re right when they’re wrong. Still, there’s always a way to talk to someone without deeply hurting them or permanently damaging a relationship. Always.

What I found most interesting about this particular situation is that I’m not a big sharer regarding my personal or professional life. I could have twenty kids and no one would know, including my family. People have often said I’m the best person to share things with because I will take something they’ve told me to the grave, and that is true. If I don’t trust you completely, I will keep you at a distance where it pertains to my life. I am not an over-sharer. My best friend once thought I was mad at her because I replied with two words instead of a paragraph to a text. I wasn’t mad, but she’s right; I’m wordy. However, in that moment, two words seemed like the appropriate response and we easily cleared things up once I told her that I’ve never been mad at her. Not ever. She is a rarity because usually people screw up with me at least once. In the 20+ years of our friendship, I have never been mad at her, angry, etc. We don’t fight. When you have healthy friendships, there’s no need for nonsense. So for someone to say I am “surrounded by drama” was extremely hurtful. There’s a level of blame in that comment, and I don’t take kindly to it.

I am solely responsible for how I behave. I can not be held responsible for the actions, words, or behavior of others, be they friends, family, or a random idiot who wants to hurt/harm you because they have unresolved personal issues. They are not my problem or responsibility. I don’t have to take the abuse of anyone, regardless of who they think they are in my life. Chances are, if you’re being or have been abusive towards me, you mean less than nothing in my mind/heart/soul. If that was your goal, bravo. 

I’m not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be, but I’m not a horrible person, either. I don’t wake up each morning with a list of people to hurt and/or insult. That’s not who I am and that is not the message I want to spread. If I’ve said something publicly about someone, like a doctor who treated me in a horrendous fashion, for example, then please know my comments are wholly warranted. There are a myriad of situations in which I will speak up and speak out, but I only speak when I know I’m right. If I feel I might be wrong, I keep my mouth shut. I’ve always felt like that was the safe, smart option; keeping your mouth shut when you’re uncertain cannot harm you, nor can it harm anyone else.

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So here I am, suffering, struggling to remain alive, asking for nothing because I know better, and there are only a handful of people who are not attacking me almost daily. When a person suffers from any form of illness and has said to you, “There is too much pressure on me. Please stop. It will be handled.”, but you keep pushing and pushing, to the point where the other person is about to explode, then you are part of the problem and you won’t get your way by continuing to push. It’s important to back off when a person has given you a boundary warning. It’s even more important when I’m the person warning you to give me space in which to breathe. Piling more on top of someone, especially when you have zero idea what they’re fully going through, is wrong. If you want an extraordinary amount of respect, then you have to be willing to give it, in kind. If you want to be hated, keep piling on the pressure. It will almost certainly involve a trip to the emergency room…for you. Once I lose the ability to care, and this has happened a few times in my life, I shut down and I feel absolutely nothing for the other person. They could suddenly be on fire and I would have no reaction whatsoever. 

I feel like much of this comes back to not being a big sharer. I don’t have the trust to give anyone. Some people earn it. Some people you automatically click with, and others you work hard to try with, but you shouldn’t have to work so hard where trust is concerned. If it isn’t there, don’t force it. If you’ve spoken to someone for over six months and you don’t even want to see them, leave alone talk to them, then there’s definitely no trust established. It’s okay to admit that and move on. And sometimes, it might be someone you’ve known your entire life, and all it took was the wrong sentence or behavior, perhaps both, for you to shutdown and realize that you cannot dwell in their toxicity any longer. The person you owe the most respect to is yourself. I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that I am a priority, and that my thoughts and feelings are valid. Especially when I am so often told that I’m wrong. Statistically speaking, I cannot always be wrong. Again, there’s a reason I only speak when I know I’m right, so if you’re someone who wants to discredit my feelings and views, just plain fuck off. That is the nicest possible thing I can say to people right now. Be supportive and kind or fuck off.   

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I find it sad that so many people feel the need to show off every single aspect of their life, but will never share the darkness. They will never be honest about how hard things can be. Nothing in life is perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect relationship, or the perfect marriage, or the perfect anything.

I have my battles and my struggles. I am open and honest about them. There are things I will probably never write or talk about because they’re so painful, I can’t even let my mind go there. I keep pieces of myself for myself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It does not detract from my authenticity or how I explain things. It does not diminish me as a person, take away from my talent, or make me lesser. I work really hard not to dwell in the dark and the places of pain, but it is not easy to throw yourself into the light. Some days, as always, will be better than others.

Today I stand here as someone who reached out to her doctor when her medication seemingly failed overnight, and made me sink into suicidal thoughts and feelings. I know he will get back to me. It is important to have a doctor who is on your side and who is objective enough to hear what you’re saying. As someone who spends more time with me than most people, I would like to get to a place where I don’t have to constantly be in his office. Especially since my OCD slipped one day and told him I desperately wanted to paint it (his office). Interestingly enough, he agreed with me and has since asked me about which colors would look best. Yes, I find that funny, but I actually appreciated that he didn’t take offense. 

A few months ago, when I first used the word “erased”, someone asked if I felt that way “in this room”, and they meant in the room with them. I said no, but their behavior has dramatically changed and I feel like it’s time for them to either get with the program or it’s time for me to move on. I am good with either option. I guess I’ll know more about that next week, and in the many weeks to come.

I am sad, depressed, hurt, and trying to rebuild myself and my life. People look at me and have no idea how much of a mess I am. And many have made it clear that they do not care. It’s important to know who does. I’m not looking, but I AM paying close attention.

I’m doing my best. My mother always told me that my best is always good enough because it means I am trying. So for the person who doesn’t think anything I do is right, are you good enough? Not so much. Not from where I’m sitting.

I’m starting from scratch, like a newborn. This time, it’s all going to go quite differently. 

P.S. Before I forget, thank you to anyone who was involved in my being named an “Inspiring Writer of 2018” and an “Inspiring Writer to Read”. It means so much to me and my heart just bursts from the messages and feedback on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s go for a three-peat, shall we? 😉  

copyright © 2019 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

If I Treated You…

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Think about how you treat your friends, especially when you refer to them as “family”. I treat my friends the way I want to be treated, so if you disrespect me or waste my time, or do ANYTHING to hurt me, a half-assed apology isn’t going to cut it. And not apologizing at all is even worse. My silence is deadly, but sometimes I need space before I speak. If you’ve made me hate you, I strongly suggest Witness Protection. It *might* keep you alive.
#Friendship #Perspective #Love #Loyalty #Growth🌱 #AuthenticAF

Do me a favor and tell me what this makes you think or feel. Do you take it personally, or does it merely make you sit back and think about how YOU have been treated by others, especially people you’ve been exceedingly good to? Input is helpful and much appreciated.

Sorting It Out

I hope everyone had a restful weekend. I’d like to welcome the new subscribers who have come on board in the last few weeks. 🙂 I’m glad you find me interesting enough to follow me on my journey. Please feel free to message me and/or leave comments. I always reply.

Today was hard for me. It was the anniversary of my mother’s funeral. I still have her eulogy typed up, and every so often I go back and read it. Mostly to remind myself where I was in that moment and how far I have come since that day.

I tried hard not to think about it, but by six o’clock in the evening my stomach became ill and my current nine day long migraine intensified. The only thing I could do was turn off my computer, set it aside, take my current migraine medication, which isn’t much, and lie down with a cold pillow over my head. If you know me, you know how much I LOATHE being sick. Suffering from a long list of chronic illnesses doesn’t mean I enjoy it. These are things I never asked for and would not wish upon anyone else. I do my best to navigate each of these things, but I also have to prioritize my health as opposed to forcing it to the back burner. I neglected aspects of myself for a long time and as a result, I am sicker today than I ever was before.

I know constantly having to fight for my rights, advocate for my health and proper treatment, and always feel like there is no certainty, just battles, isn’t helping matters. People often read my posts and get offended when I say “I don’t have much of a support system.” I wasn’t aware I was invalidating people who are, predominantly, quite vacant in my life. If all you do is call me when it suits you, text on occasion, message me here and there, and ask me questions about things of no real importance to me, I don’t consider you a part of my daily “support system”. If you feel invalidated by that statement, the issue lies with you, not with me. There are plenty of people who I have offered support to and have received the equivalent of a slap in the face in response, so excuse me if I don’t deem these people “supportive”. My assessment is quite accurate.

Standing by someone while they sort through their health and unhappy situations means you don’t ever intentionally trigger their anxiety, anger, or emotional suffering. If you never say a kind thing to another person, you certainly aren’t bettering their life in any way.

I was raised by two women, my mother and Grandmother. My Grandmother would always turn to my brother and I and say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” My mother’s version was different. She always encouraged me to speak my truth. I was five when she told me “The truth is more respected than dishonesty. If someone chooses not to believe the truth, and they try to discredit you, at least you know you’ve told the truth, regardless of what they are choosing to believe.” Those were profound words for a young girl, but she always encouraged me to use my voice, and not allow others to attempt to rob that power from me. Having lost both of them, I know they are each in the unique position of being able to see how people treat me, to hear the conversations and comments, and to know precisely who is and is not doing their best. I am far from perfect, but I am doing the best I can.

My Grandmother was such a strong believer in family. After she passed away, I quickly saw through all the things she tried to keep in tact. Her belief in the “family unit” stemmed from how she was raised, but in truth, there was no “family” at all. There was this immense illusion. My mothers’ side of the family chooses to have nothing to do with me, and the feelings I have in regard to their behavior are things I don’t always verbalize. I try not to think about it too much because I am justified in my anger. I have zero respect for a lack of decency, lack of common sense, and basic humanity. The same is true for my fathers’ family. I witnessed so much growing up, always wondering why my Grandmother held tight to the idea of this “family” dynamic. I watched how it became nothing and continued to become less and less the day of her funeral. Losing both of my parents put everything into perspective for me.

I don’t doubt that certain people have feelings for me, but do I believe those are feelings of love? Rarely. I know my brother loves me in his own way. He steps up at times when I am not expecting it. I know that other family members love me in their own way, too, but I often feel excluded and dismissed. I often feel set aside as a person with no thoughts, no feelings, and no validity. If one more person has the audacity to say “Are you ever positive about anything?”, I will probably lose my temper.

I have never had anyone who truly knows me or anyone who follows my work deem me a “negative person”. I am my most authentic self when I am writing and speaking. I am the same way in every aspect of my life. And yet, I’ve noticed snide remarks of late that question my genuine authenticity. I have walked away before saying “Go fuck yourself.”, because I will not engage with someone who is intentionally looking for a fight and/or being an asshole. I have walked away before saying “You’re clearly projecting if you’re questioning MY authenticity. I question YOURS, but I’m classy enough to keep my mouth shut.”

Love, loyalty, authenticity, and all my friendships and relationships are some of the most important things in my life. In this, I am a supreme perfectionist who is honest about her imperfections. Someone told me last week “I can see that authenticity is very important to you, and I respect that.” When one person chooses not to see it, and everyone else sees it immediately, it is much easier to cope with one person trying to take a pot shot, as opposed to thousands of people viewing you negatively.

I am going through a lot, but I’m still the same person. I am working on myself, and I am doing the best I can. If you don’t know every single thing in my heart, you have zero right to judge me.

This week I move on to other battles. I am hoping for some downtime at some point to be able to find a sense of calm. I have a consult with a new neurologist next week, so I am hoping there’s a positive outcome there, especially since I’ve waited nearly six months to be seen. Fingers crossed for some good news.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead… Li

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Well-Placed Word

dowhatyoufeel

Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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.

caution

Page After Page

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In less than a month, I’ve written over 220,000 words. Does that sound like a lot? It is. To do it in such a short period of time is a testament to me pushing myself to write every single day, and not to give up when I’ve felt stuck. Even if I only managed one page on a bad day, I still parked my ass in front of the file and went over it, and over it, and over it. It’s called determination, with a healthy dose of bat-shit crazy thrown into the mix.

I’ve written, rewritten, proofed, edited, done additional rewrites, changed the direction up, added new characters, strengthened characters I liked, and here I am, still trying to figure out the true direction of the story. For the first time, I wrote something 100% unplanned. I let it haunt me for three months before I said “Let’s give it a try and see how it goes.” It’s become so much bigger than what I first thought, and I’ve found most of it incredibly easy to write.

The challenge in the work is getting in touch with things I’ve personally found difficult in my life. It’s been therapeutic to work it out on the screen in front of me and allow myself to be authentic within the confines of a fictional novel. Instead of saying “That’s decent, it’ll do.” (something I never say, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing), I’m finding myself excited to get up each day and return to work.

During a radio interview Nora Roberts explained how she began writing under the pseudonym J.D. Robb. Her publisher had, and I’m paraphrasing here, told her to “get a hobby” because her books were selling so well. Instead of deciding to actually take that advice and learn something new or do something fun, she decided to channel it into writing something else. I remember hearing the interview and laughing, until I realized today that I’ve sort of done the same thing. Instead of staying in my comfortable world where I’m 100% writing the truth, I’ve opened a door into a new genre for myself, and have found it’s equally as comfortable, if not more so. If you had suggested this to me ten or even five years ago, I would have laughed in your face. Instead, I’m breaking personal records on what I can achieve. I feel proud of that.

I hate reading things that make me roll my eyes. I hate reading things that don’t feel realistic, to some degree. I also hate feeling like I’m writing the same shit a thousand other people are writing. It gets boring very quickly.

I hate timid characters. They annoy me. I hate the damsel-in-distress nonsense. This is the 21st century, and I don’t know a lot of weak women. Unless you’re writing a period piece set in a different century, lose the giggly, shy female that you’d either slap or kick if you were to meet her tomorrow. Let someone in junior high write that crap.

Some of what I’m writing touches on gender roles. What makes a woman truly strong? What makes a man the right person? What makes a couple work well together? How do you stay strong through difficulties, your own idiocy, lapses in judgment, etc. I prefer to focus on the humanity. What are our characters if not perfectly flawed human-beings?

I have come to realize that most of my female characters (some, not all) are a version of me. If Erika Girardi can be Erika Jayne, then I can channel aspects of who I am into characters, too. There’s nothing wrong with that. I find it incredibly empowering.

When writing male characters, I work hard at channeling the men I know. There is no such thing as the perfect person, but there is such a thing as “the right person for you”, regardless of gender. Several of my friends described me as their soul-mate, from a friendship perspective. I firmly believe we have multiple soul-mates in life that we meet at different times. Some are with us forever and others come and go, leaving their mark. That’s real life. I’m virtually incapable of writing something and not bringing real life to it.

So as I sit here this afternoon, struggling with a scene I feel is emotionally crucial to the story, I have to remind myself to just be real. Take a deep breath and push through. And when I feel like I can’t focus, then it’s time for a break, but I have to get it done. I have to finish it. Maybe not today, but as soon as I can.

Let’s face it; no one would believe I wrote it if it were emotionally false.

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