Discussions of Funerals and Such

Today is the funeral of a friend of the family who died as a result of Covid 19. My brother is there now, and there’s nothing I can do except be encouraging, even though it puts me into the headspace where I relive every funeral I’ve ever been to. Funerals aren’t usually anyone’s cup of tea, but my brother especially, is not good with them. He has his reasons, and they’re perfectly understandable. That’s why he texted me this morning to ask if he looked okay and to go over certain things since we don’t usually get asked to attend non-Jewish funerals. There are religious and cultural differences between the two, believe me.

I’m in an okay element at the majority of funerals I attend. I’m being brutally honest when I say I’m invited to funerals, but no one ever invites me to their wedding. I’m serious about this, too, so don’t invite me to a wedding out of pity. I have nothing to offer there.

Having always been honest about life and death is likely crucial to how I handle things as an adult. My mother didn’t try to pretty it up for me when my Grandfather died, or when subsequent family members passed away after the fact. There were no bullshit stories in my home growing up, and I had no tolerance when people attempted bullshit stories with me. I haven’t changed on that level.

I cringe when people tell me how they (tried to) explain death to a child (at age three-ish or so), and fucked up royally (My words, not theirs. They think they did the right thing. My eyes rolled to Japan and are on their way back. Excuse me one moment.). I’m mortified by the shit they tell their kids because that level of dishonesty will shape them as they get older, and I’m not good with it. To this day, I still can’t tolerate the lies people tell. If you ever wonder how dishonest you come off, ask me and I’ll tell you.

Yes, I was the kid who told all the other kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real. And I’d do it all over again, too. I mildly got in trouble for my honesty growing up, but it was mostly in the sense that my mother understood why I was being so honest, and told me it was the responsibility of other parents to also be honest with their children, or not. And if “not” was on the table, then I needed to try and keep my mouth shut, so as not to interfere with what they wanted their children to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been on board with that.

In my eyes, a funeral is where you go and pay your respects. You’re not doing it for you or those involved (unless you’re really close with them), you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Respect is something I find lacking in so many relationships these days, and it’s disgusting to me. If you are unable to attend, then you send something, based solely on your relationship with the survivors of the deceased. I generally send cards and fruit baskets, but last year, when my cousins lost their mother to cancer, I had trees planted in Israel in memory of her, because I knew it would mean more to them, and it did.

When my father passed away, I sorted through hundreds of cards. I’m not exaggerating; cards came daily for over three months, and there were a decent amount of people at his funeral. When my mother passed away, I didn’t get five cards in total, and I got only three phone calls. It was bizarre as hell. My support system (i.e: Family) sucked then and it sucks even worse now. I cope differently than I used to. The person who buried her parents five months apart is a completely different woman now. I am colder, harsher, and darker, but I respect myself more for that than I once did. You see, these hard things change you, and when they do, you should honor the change, and not think of it as something awful. Change means growth. That’s not negative, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Did I want to burn my Aunt and Uncle’s house down after my father’s funeral? Absolutely, but I didn’t (Instead, I marched over to my Uncle’s grave and tore his spirit a new asshole. It felt good to get the anger out of my system, in the moment.). Did I want to rip people to shreds at my mother’s funeral? Yes. Instead, I stayed quiet, behind dark sunglasses, like a lady, and spoke when spoken to, after eulogizing my mother. I admire the woman I was that day because behind her pain, she was poised as hell. I am still poised. If you’re kind to me, I will be kind in turn. If you’re disrespectful, it’s not beneath me to throw you into the nearest open grave and shovel dirt over you. Everyone picks their own poison with me, no pun intended.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad that people still don’t seem to understand how serious this pandemic is and I’m sad many people have had to say goodbye to loved ones way too soon, and I’m angry with the knowledge that much of this could have been prevented.

I’d like to go back to normal. I’d like to not have to wear a mask (I’ve nearly walked out without one so many times.). I’d like to not have to worry about whether or not I’ve touched something that may be contaminated, etc. I’d like for people to feel safe again and not be worried, but I’m too realistic for that. Naturally, I have definitive opinions on the three vaccines that were pushed through and approved in less than a year, too, but that’s a discussion for another day and, possibly, a different audience entirely.

For today, I wish everyone the best and hope that you’re safe, healthy, and coping to the best of your ability. If you’re not, please know you’re not alone.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Election Day 2020

Everyone I spoke to this week, save two or three people, brought up today’s election. I am trying to be positive, yet realistic. I am not telling anyone who to vote for because I don’t feel it’s my place. We all have different things that are important to us when we vote. I have a list of things I have to weigh in order for someone to get my vote; it’s important to me that I elect officials who’ve earned the spot.

I am an incredibly free thinker. My father used to refer to me as, “My daughter, the liberal.” The truth is, I see things differently than he did and I see things differently than a lot of people do. Also, I am not one for strict party loyalty. That’s not how I envision the future of this country. It would be hard not to see the obvious division.

I’m a registered Independent and have voted this and that way from day one. I remember my voting record from my first election until now. I have always tried to make a fair decision, even in primary elections.

I come from a family of predominantly staunch Democrats (My Mom’s side and my Dad’s. I don’t know the history behind why this became a generational thing.). Often, I avoid political discussions with them simply because they stress me out to the Nth degree. If they suspect you think differently from them, it can become a fight. Never argue with the lawyers in your family; they are determined to argue until they turn one color or another.

My cousin, Amy, represents the 88th Assembly District in the state of New York. https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Amy-Paulin I mention this because I feel the need to be transparent about it. I disagree with some of the things she supports, like gun control, but not everything. She’s clearly done great work for the past nineteen years. Her reputation speaks for itself. Don’t worry; she wouldn’t know me if she walked past me on a street corner anywhere, but my mother and Aunt grew up with her and her siblings. I try to be courteous and respectful about this. Trust me, she hasn’t seen me since I was under the age of six. But, I digress…

For me, as I edge closer to politics to help get certain things changed in various communities, I find myself having to hold representatives accountable. Many people have pointed out that I am the right person for that particular job. Having a strong voice is one thing; knowing how to use it properly is another thing entirely.

I’ve voted in almost every state I’ve lived in, but this morning, I tracked my ballot as it pertains to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the General Election. 😒 It was accepted last week and is ready to be counted.

After a lot of deliberation, I made a decision I can live with, one I know won’t harm my family or friends. It was not a, “red versus blue” scenario for me. I weighed so many things in my head. Mental health care was first, so that no one in this country slips through the cracks. I know how hard my own battle has been to find the right doctor (and I always make it clear that I am grateful to have insurance. My insurance has been a G-d send.), and to still be searching for a therapist after over a year of searching when my previous one proved to be way too flaky, and that’s putting it mildly. My doctor validated that I have done the hard work of introspection and healing on my own, without a therapist. He feels I’ve done a great job solo, but the truth is, I shouldn’t have to do it without an ounce of support, though he has been amazing.

Women’s rights are important all across the board, and especially women’s health care on every level. I am always going to be pro-choice. I don’t feel insurance companies should be allowed to dictate our care to us, nor should they drop patients with cancer or any high-cost treatment needs. I have never seen a man dropped from his insurance anywhere near as quickly as I’ve seen women constantly being cut off from crucial healthcare over the past ten years. Many women are losing their OB/GYN simply because they are on medication the doctor they’ve seen for 20+ years is not comfortable with them taking, so they are being let go as a patient with a letter of dismissal. The reasoning isn’t even valid, but I’ve seen the exact same form letter sent to hundreds of people all over the country, and I’m sure many more have not shared them with their pain groups or specific advocacy groups. Not a single phrase is different from one letter to the next. Don’t even ask me how pain patients are being treated because it’s getting worse every single day. My own doctor is playing games with my pain and the lack of treatment he is providing. I am angry as hell over how much money I have spent on CBD products in the past five months. Let me be clear; I know it is a privilege to be able to do it at all. I know it is a privilege to do anything to attempt to reduce my pain levels, despite the fact that my insurance fully covers medication I would much prefer to take. I don’t take that knowedge lightly at all.

Countries we give aid to was on the list, as well, because I take issue with how we help everyone (including a long list we should not be giving a penny to), but will allow our own people, many mentally ill individuals, even our own veterans to become homeless and/or to remain ill with no assistance at all. Not everyone who is homeless is an, “uneducated bum”. Let’s be clear about that because too many people say it without realizing how quickly it could happen to them. There are people on the streets with doctorates and truly brilliant, gifted minds. They were allowed to fall through the cracks of a broken system. That is not okay with me.

I thought a great deal about our entire healthcare system. I talked with two of my doctors, and friends who are doctors in this country (and in other countries). I have a few doctors in my family, too. They’re all quite furious with how Covid has been handled here. They’re still fighting for PPE all these months later. Many people were forced to purchase all of their own PPE materials, and they cannot afford to keep doing so.

I thought about all of the small businesses that were wiped out due to Covid. I see more empty buildings than full ones, even in bustling places like Boston, right near Fenway Park. I only know a handful of people who were able to keep things going, professionally downsize to one brick and mortar location instead of 2+, and many who created businesses during the start of quarantine which allows them to create amazing things from home.

I thought about all of the bigger businesses I never could have imagined closing their doors, including hundreds of restaurants which have been around for longer than you or me. I keep finding myself startled by the boarded up businesses that are no longer. It jolts me to my core because I don’t know how we get back to helping the working class, the middle class are the heart and soul of this country, and they have been epically failed. We MUST support our people with financial assistance until there’s a solid vaccine in place that is accessible to all, and we cannot allow them to be called, “lazy”, because there are far less jobs available now than there were this time a year ago. They must receive support until they are able to return to a job safely, and for millions, they will be starting over. No one who is able-bodied and healthy is sitting around not looking for work right now. People have bills to pay and families they provide for. Even if you’re single, you still need to be able to cover your expenses and food.

We must expand legitimate affordable housing and make homes more affordable to purchase. I have watched a lot of new construction go up this year and the prices are beyond ludicrous. Realistically speaking, most people cannot afford $5000 a month for an apartment, and even if they can, it’s beyond wasteful unless it is short-term. Many people can’t afford half that amount, even with roommates to help cover expenses. If you’re paying $2000 a month on rent, minus utilities, you just tossed away $24,000 in a year, and you don’t get any of that back on your income tax return. As a home owner, you are able to deduct a portion of your home each year, more so if you are working from home. Some people don’t make $24,000 a year, so when I say “affordable housing”, I am not saying let people live in disgusting conditions. No way. They should have just as much access to all the, “luxury apartments” that go up daily all across this country. The ultra rich should not be dictating real estate prices to the middle class, or to those who live below the poverty line. Everyone deserves a safe roof over their heads that cannot be taken away from them.

I grew up middle class, in one of the greatest cities in the world. I had no clue my father actually made a very good, often six figure, living and didn’t always make the best decisions with money. One decision he made cost his family a house that would be worth millions or tens of millions now. I try to make the most responsible decisions possible so that I don’t have to look back on regrets that large.

All too many people on the front lines have lost their lives to Covid, predominantly healthcare and food workers, simply by going to work and trying to help others. That is not something I can abide by, either.

I am thinking a great deal about the violence in this country, especially coming from police officers. A man was shot in Massachusetts today, all because one officer pulled his weapon while others tried to contain the situation with a taser, which failed to work somehow. They killed someone who was mentally ill. I am beyond outraged by how many mentally ill people are being murdered in cold blood by officers with itchy trigger fingers. I am equally outraged by police murdering people and judging them based on nothing more than the color of their skin. Racism in this country is at an all-time high, as are anti-Semitic attacks (New York City, take a long hard look at your mayor, governor, and some of your elected “officials”.), and attacks on places of worship from homegrown terrorists. I am all for peaceful protests, but not supportive of destruction of property or burning anything down. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel they have any other choice. 😦 This needs to be addressed, over time. There’s no quick fix for any of it.

Have you been shopping online more now than ever before? I absolutely have. In the ten years I’ve been an Amazon shopper (I might be off by a few years), I have never relied so heavily on any kind of service as I have with Prime this year. I probably see a dozen, or more, Amazon trucks each day. This doesn’t include all of the people delivering groceries in their personal vehicles. Oftentimes a vehicle is down the street and I am the tenth stop. They might be dropping off something minor, like when I had to replace a belt and saw that I was also low on socks, or they might be delivering roughly 80% of my grocery list for 2-3 weeks. Please, if you are using grocery delivery in any capacity, make sure your driver receives a tip. If you want to pay them in cash, put it into an envelope and let the driver know in your delivery instructions where it will be. Show them your appreciation because it is a true privilege to have your groceries brought to you. People in other highly developed countries have not mentioned this to me at all. The drivers may be going to tons of homes, but they’re working harder than you might realize. Be appreciative. Many of them are working for Amazon to make sure they aren’t stuck at home looking for a job right now that may not be available for another year or two. Many of the people who’ve delivered for me were genuinely shocked when I came out with a mask to make sure they got a tip (Sometimes, the credit card system doesn’t allow me to add it in and, obviously, it leaves me frustrated. I don’t want anyone to feel unappreciated.). One woman nearly cried, and I want to stress the importance of being courteous to those who are doing a service for you.

Please stay safe if you’re headed to the polls today. I’ve had people report long and short lines, among other things. I am concerned about people’s safety and the so-called, “poll watchers”. I’ve never rolled my eyes harder, or maybe I have. It will be hard to escape the news in the coming days, weeks, and possibly months. Please place your safety, and that of your loved ones, above all else. Cast your ballot and breathe calmly in the safety of your own home.

Side note: November is #NationalVeteransMilitaryFamiliesMonth. I’m repping #Green💚 for #MentalHealthAwareness and for our #Veterans.

I wore this shirt yesterday (The design has been discontinued, but you can find others HERE by looking for Mental Health Awareness. I highly recommend this t-shirt company. Their products are high quality and the shirts are really soft.) and my first manicure in eight months is Essie in Heart of the Jungle (lighter shade) and Sweater Weather on the ring fingers. Top coat is Nail-Aid Gel Xtreme Shine. Hand care is AHAVA (15% off right now) and Gloves In A Bottle. I will change up the color before Thanksgiving, but clearly, I’m showing my support. I practice what I preach, even if I do it a little more colorfully than others might.

My local Congressman is up for reelection. It’s my second time voting for him. He’s a Marine veteran, and a Scorpio. He’s a crucial component to the future of this nation. As a registered Independent, I proudly back him. No, he didn’t pay me for my endorsement as a #Writer.

G-d help us all. Again, stay safe. 🙏

copyright 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Happy Birthday, Brother (S dnem ​​rozhdeniya, brat)

Happy Birthday, M! You’ve been such an amazing brother, especially this past year. I’ve seen how much you’ve grown, and how far you have come as a person. You always try to learn and make changes. You work hard on personal and professional development. I KNOW how hard you try to help others each day, even when they don’t deserve it. I’m proud of you. I miss you. And today, I celebrate the hell out of the awesome human-being you are. Love you, dude.

#LibraSeason♎ #MyOGRideOrDie #ThisIsHowWeGetIntoTrouble #Laughter #SameSenseOfHumor #MyBrother #BestLookingDudeInMyFamily #OverTheSpeedLimit #ListeningToTHATSong #FightHardLoveHonestly #GetHonest #HesGotMyBack

Musings Of An Unquiet Mind

My closest friends and family, my loved ones, are the absolute BEST reflection of who I am. When you have healthy self-respect, self-esteem, dignity, a seemingly unending source of inner strength, and an innate sense of self, you don’t wait for some mythological superhero to rescue you. You’re your own damn hero, and I’m SO PROUD of the inspiring women in my life who’ve been through HELL and back, but are SO wise, kind, caring, and fierce when necessary. Me? I’m always fierce and this week, that ability to go from perfectly pleasant to ice queen in less than half a second was considered “intimidating”. I’m only intimidating if you’re fucking weak. Perhaps you should not challenge someone you don’t know well enough to challenge. Turns out, I’m venomous when necessary. 🤷

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I was raised to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and friendships. It’s why I ditch toxic and/or narcissistic people without a care in the world. I KNOW my worth and value in ALL things.

My best friends are these AMAZING, strong, witty, “I’ll do anything for you.” kind of women, and I firmly believe like attracts like. Loyalty attracts loyalty. Honesty attracts honesty. Ride or die types of people attract the right friends to them. My friendships have lasted longer than most people’s marriages, and if you can devote that much care to a friendship, it says a LOT about your character.

I’ve met many soul mates in this incarnation. The best friend soulmate; the professional development soulmate, the sibling soulmate, etc. Unless you’re a new soul, this is not uncommon.

Almost two years ago, I was filling out paperwork and glanced to my left. A pair of blue eyes met mine and I immediately knew I KNEW this person, though we had definitely not yet met in this incarnation. Every time I sit across from this person and we’re deep in conversation, it builds a stronger foundation. And yet, when someone refers to this relationship, even if they think their comments are benign or funny, I am immediately protective of this person. It’s the same type of fierce protection my friends and family benefit from, and I still don’t fully understand the relationship other than to say I’m incredibly grateful to have this person in my life. Not in a codependent kind of way, but in a “Do NOT fuck with my people.” kind of way.

In the past year, shitty people have shown me their true faces, and wonderful people have stepped up and into my life in a myriad of roles. I hope everyone understands how much I value them.

You don’t have to be a romantic partner for me to show my respect and appreciation. I have impeccable manners and I make sure this translates onto my social media platforms.

My friends KNOW who they are and should know how much I love them. Anytime you work to establish and continue building a friendship, I know you’re not full of crap.
My family members are few and far between, but they’re MY family. I would take a bullet for many of them and just like with my friends, if you hurt someone I love, I will personally hunt you down like a hungry lion and destroy you. Don’t test me. Most likely to take a bullet, but also most likely to rip you to shreds and scatter you like dust. I don’t know about some of you, but I’d WANT that loyal, fierce friend/family member in my life because you know where you stand with authenticity. People masquerading; not so much.

Matt, thank you for identifying authenticity in others and ALWAYS being this amazing reflection of who EVERYONE should be. You are such a beautifully evolved soul. 😘😘😘

Identify your tribe. Love them fiercely. But don’t hesitate to cut cancerous toxicity away when necessary. Remember that you matter, too.

#Honesty #Soulmates #Love #SoulFamily #Familia #Friendship #TribeOfGoofballs

💜🖤💛💚💕💟💞💗💖

soulmate

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.

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.

The Family

The family was not simply the sum of the connection created by a large, extended set of relations…a family…was a name, a material and symbolic patrimony, and a form of stakeholding in America… “describing a total lineage, past, present, and future.” –Eric Homberger 

Can you name the book that opens up with this quote, but is not attached to the author of the quote? 

Trying To Cope

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Have you ever wondered if you’re trying too hard? If you have to question yourself, then you probably are. But what if you’re being told that you aren’t trying hard enough? It’s incredibly confusing, and downright counterintuitive, to have someone tell you you’re not trying hard enough when they don’t actually see how hard you try to begin with. When they only see a small percentage of your daily battle. Alas, welcome to my world where I’m never good enough, not unless I’ve somehow done something magical to meet someone else’s approval for the week. And even that is never truly “good enough”. I’m constantly met with a disapproving face or attitude, or something to let me know what a complete and total letdown I am. If you can explain to me how that is “being supportive”, I will buy you a fucking lottery ticket.

I am a firm believer that if you truly love and care about someone, you use your words. When someone is going through something horrible and you can’t be bothered to check in with them and see how they’re doing, but you can be bothered to talk to them about nonsense, there is no way in hell the person feels loved, cared about, heard, etc. They will NOT come to you with anything serious because you’ve already proven to them that you don’t take them seriously; that their life, their pain, suffering, etc., is a fucking joke to you. If you want your love and concern to be taken seriously, you have to bring it to the table. It cannot wax and wane like the moon.

I absolutely HATE hearing anyone tell me they “don’t know what to say to me“. Good. Say NOTHING. Be silent. It tells me everything I need to know, truly. By being silent, you’re reaffirming what I already know.

People who never ask how I’m doing, but are happy to come to me with their issues drive me INSANE. It makes me feel even more invisible. There’s never even a polite “Hey, how are you doing?”, it’s just “Let me tell you what I’m going through.”, because apparently the world revolves around other people and their idea of “problems”.

Here’s my take on this: If you’ve got a roof over your head, money in the bank, a good job, a working vehicle, food, health insurance, clothes in your closet, money to buy medicine if you aren’t well, and can pay your bills each month without ever being broke, and you’ve got the majority of your health (or all of it), then I genuinely don’t want to hear your “privileged people problems”. If you’re sick, suffering, struggling, truly battling something real, and understand how hard it is to survive in this world, then I am more than happy to listen, but I can’t do the privileged bullshit crap. If your wealthy family can bail you out of a problem in a New York Minute, then I have a hard time relating because if I need to be bailed out, it’s probably because I’ve finally killed someone. My “family” has made it clear that they enjoy seeing me suffer and do not care about my pain. That my losses are basically icing on the cake for them. Does that sound loving to you? That’s because it isn’t love; it’s hatred. I genuinely hope that one day, one of them needs a bodily organ and I am the ONLY match in the world that could save their life. I’d rather give that organ to an inmate on death row.

Call me crazy, but I prefer to be spoken to, not AT. I honestly need to start charging people for the “therapy sessions” I am providing because it’s gone too far. If they respected my time, then maybe by receiving a weekly bill, the 10:00 PM-5:00 a.m. texts about bullshit would stop. The hours of Facebook Messenger nonsense would stop. If a pop-up message comes up while I am writing, you’ve just cut into my hourly rate as a writer, which is quadruple my editor’s rate. If you interrupt me while I am writing with dramatic bullshit, I should be able to bill you. Unless you’re my brother, best friend, a doctor, or the two women I call sisters, then you probably don’t need to be contacting me after a certain hour unless there’s a death-defying emergency (and how many doctors would be calling after ten o’clock? None I know.). Truth be told, I’ve lost my ability to care.

My cousin had the audacity to tell me that he & his wife are “always here for me because ‘that’s what family does for family'”. I wish all of you could have seen the look on my face when I read that message. The one time I asked him for a favor was well over two years ago. He made excuses and said no, all after having given me the “I’ll do anything for family” rhetoric many times before. Clearly this is a selective thing. “I can be there for you when it’s CONVENIENT to be there for you.” That’s what it really means. That’s why it annoys me and that’s why, ultimately, it pisses me off.

A lot of his invitations over the past year or so have been super last-minute and I’ve had to say no. You can’t give me 24 hours notice for anything and expect me to show up. You’ve got to give me a month or so. I must have the physical, mental, and emotional energy, and you have to know a holiday gathering of 50+ people is NOT how I want to spend my time. I’m not married to you, or your wife, and I am not obligated to be a part of these gatherings. I’m family, yes, and thanks for including me in your thought process, but I’m pretty much always going to say no when you ask me at the last-minute.

Now it may have bothered him that while I did not attend his son’s Bris after being given four days’ notice (I was sitting Shiva), I did turn around the following weekend and meet up with my sister, Britt, in Boston. He didn’t say anything and quite frankly, Britt and I had those plans for MONTHS. However, not once has my cousin even offered to meet me halfway. He could be in a neighboring town and not even say “Hey, do you want to get a cup of coffee.” If I did that to him, I’d never hear the end of how I was in his part of the city and didn’t stop by. Drama, drama, drama.

I firmly believe that if you really want to be there for me, you will be. He speaks for both of them (I HATE when couples do that. It nauseates me. I can’t speak for someone else; it’s rude. That person has a mind and opinions of their own. I’m also smart enough not to stick them with my family! Escape while you can!) and I wanted to respond and say “There’s no way in hell I am going to ask either of you to be there for me! You have a new baby and while your heart might mean what you’re saying, we both know you’re not going to show up for me, so thanks for the sentiment, but you won’t be hearing from me.” Like, EVER. (To quote Taylor Swift.)

Have I mentioned I can’t stand his wife (I’d NEVER say this to him and hurt his feelings. For some unknown reason, he thinks she walks on water and performs miracles. Ad nauseum.)? Now that she’s not pregnant, she’s behaving differently towards me, but I will probably never be able to get over her bitchy rudeness directed solely at me while she was pregnant. I checked with other family members to see if it was her normal behavior or an isolated incident and apparently she fits in with that side of the family really well because it was directed only at me, which makes me extremely wary of her. I have made all of my close friends promise to have a “Come to God” meeting with me if EVER I behave like that towards the kindness of others while pregnant. One of my closest friends said to me “You’re not a piece of shit, so I can’t imagine you ever being so ungracious to someone. She was really fucking rude to you.” Sometimes, it’s good to get that extra feedback so you know you’re not crazy.

I’m going through all of this disturbing, upsetting misery day in and day out, and I legitimately hear from three people daily because they actually care about me, and my best friend e-mails me on the weekends. Everyone else is purely radio silent, until THEY have a problem and then it’s all about them. And like I said, they don’t ask how I’m doing, they just start talking at me. Not only am I invisible, apparently, I also have zero emotions or emotional needs to be met. It’s always nice to know this is how others perceive me. As a sounding board. Or a door mat for people to wipe their feet on, so they can walk away feeling better about themselves.

Over the weekend, I ducked into PetSmart to grab a bag of cat food. There was the most gorgeous green, orange, and yellow parrot there. Birds don’t normally come up to me, but this one did. They don’t usually make noises and do tricks for me, but this one did. It made me emotional, because I felt like this bird understood me. I wanted that bird. I’ve met so many birds over the years, all different types, all different sizes, but I’ve never wanted to take one home before and have a new friend.

I feel completely abandoned by Cat and Kitten. They used to spend time with me and care for me, or they’d hang out with me and be loving, but now they eat and sleep, and at three PM each day, they come downstairs and start staring at me, waiting to see how they can con me into giving them their dinner early. Mind you, they do NOT starve and they have food and fresh water all the time, but they’ve become regimented in their meal-times and it’s seemingly all they care about. They have their separate spaces, their cat beds, and zero interest in what I am going through. This, I am certain, is why people have dogs. Alas, I’ve got no energy for one, or the room. Or the patience and tolerance levels required. At this point, I’m best suited for a pet rock, and even that is a stretch. 😦

I’m quickly becoming one of those people who is going to spend the rest of her days talking to herself, getting answers back. Oh wait, I already do that! Excuse me while I go back to producing a flood of tears.

American Horror Story: Lisa’s Life

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

Incurable

                                            ***Potential Trigger Warning***

Friday night, I stupidly read my new diagnosis for the first time. And then I sat here in tears. The old diagnosis, which I’ve had for a long time, is clearly nowhere near as serious as the new one. My doctor isn’t even sure how it ever even fit because he doesn’t see it, and I do think it’s a case of having fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, as well. He did NOT try to box me in, but he answered me because I asked. I needed to know what the hell this was.

The new diagnosis basically states that nearly 60% of sufferers, or more, as it ranges from country-to-country, die by suicide, regardless of age. I was stunned into terrified silence.

I have always said I didn’t want to be a statistic, but reading the documentation; I feel like one.

As I stated previously, there are no treatment options left. I can wait ten years and hope a medication is approved by the FDA, but mostly, I am on my own. I cannot fathom ten more minutes like this, leave alone ten years, or longer. Hope is kind of futile at this point for me.

There’s a person in my life (heretofore to be referred to as “The Idiot”) who cannot think about anything but the future. I suggested they take things one day at a time during a stressful period, so as to help them help themselves focus, and they told me their “brain doesn’t work that way. That they must constantly look ten, twenty, and thirty years ahead”. I was astounded by the insanity of that. Especially knowing that there is a strong possibility they might not live that long. I take everything one hour at a time. It helps keep me focused. It keeps me in the moment, because I don’t have a crystal ball and quite frankly, I am not looking that far ahead. Nor do I care to do so. For me, life just doesn’t have that level of longevity any more. Truth be told, it never did. I always knew that.

There’s something very difficult, and exceptionally disheartening, about reading something on paper and realizing that every hope and dream you’ve ever had has been impossible to achieve because it’s likely never been meant to be. All the things you’ve wanted for yourself aren’t going to happen because something serious is interfering with all of it. It’s NOT you, it’s an incurable illness you never asked for and it’s destroyed your life immeasurably.

Thus far, I’ve only managed to tell two friends. One told me I needed to fight so I could stick around and “help keep her sane”. She means well, but that wasn’t the answer I needed to hear. I intentionally withheld the info from someone who I am afraid will be triggered by this. She has been through enough and I cannot be responsible for my health affecting hers. Other people might be triggered by this information, so while I am not disclosing what the actual diagnosis is, I am telling each of them in my own way.

I will not be discussing this diagnosis with close family members. I know that none of them care. I have slowly started to see their selfish, self-absorbed, self-righteous natures and I find it utterly despicable. I am grateful that I do not resemble a single member of my family and that we possess almost none of the same character traits. They live on their own planets, and I live in reality.

It hurts me deeply that out of everyone in my family, I would be the one afflicted like this while everyone else is allowed to live a normal life, or as close to a normal life as possible. It feels like the cruelest curse in the world. That’s not jealousy talking; that’s honesty. One illness is enough of a burden, but for me to have spent the majority of my life suffering is pure evil. To have to battle all of this alone makes it so much worse.

I have chosen to take a pass on all things temporary. I don’t need that in my life. If someone cannot be permanent or semi-permanent, then I don’t need them right now. I need solid support all across the board. I don’t have time for games or bullshit. I will be informing my doctor of that before he leaves. He can pass that message on because I know after we talk, he’s going to be very concerned. I don’t care how I sound or come off this time because I’m not here to worry about his feelings. He can contact my primary if he’s concerned, or whomever, but that isn’t going to make a difference at this point. I refuse to see the doctor he wants me to see. I’ve had terrible experiences with certain types of physicians and while this doctor might be wonderful, I don’t have any trust to offer this person. I will look for someone else when I’m ready. There’s a six month wait for anyone permanent, so I am going to inform the “temp” when she calls me that until she finds someone permanent, I am not interested. I cannot sit with a temporary person and build anything with them. That’s not how I operate. It’s an absolute waste of time. I’d rather talk to Cat and Kitten, both of whom pretty much ignore me these days unless the treat bag shakes or they hear me in the kitchen and think food might be involved. I could leave for six months, they wouldn’t notice, so long as they were fed twice a day.

I don’t think anyone cares to notice how unsupportive they are being. If you’re a shiny, happy person, you want to surround yourself with others like you. You don’t want to delve into the darkness and look deeply at someone with depth. That’s fine. I am better off without your bullshit. What you send out into the world comes back to you threefold. I listen to people and I give with my whole heart. I care, even when no one else bothers to do so. Faced with something that cannot be cured or fixed in any way, I am able to fully see how cruel and hateful people really are. And I am closing ranks in terms of my friendships and the people I consider to be anything in my life at this moment. I cannot imagine not reaching out to someone and offering support, but as I have noticed, people truly DO live on their own planets. I am walking around with the pin from everyone’s hand grenade. They just don’t know it yet.

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For the record: I’m not stupid, or blind. I noticed the drop in subscribers the second I was super honest in my last few posts. When am I NOT honest? I’m not going to apologize to ANYONE because there IS a trigger warning for those who cannot handle anything too deep. I get it; we all have our issues, which is precisely why there was a warning. If you see a trigger warning, STOP READING. Come back when I’m discussing something funny and lighthearted. In all fairness, it was the first time I’d ever used a trigger warning in four years, so please, give me a break. This is MY safe space and I am going to be as honest as necessary here. You can stick with me or you can unfollow or unsubscribe. I’m not going to chase you down the street. I’m not desperate. I know who my readers are.

For every two people that disappear, twenty more show up and thank me for being honest and sharing my story so that they don’t feel ashamed in sharing theirs. I have received more love from Twitter followers than from any other social media platform I use.

I’m going to keep being me. I’m going to keep advocating to the best of my ability for change and I am going to keep speaking my truth and telling my story. I’m not going to allow others to stigmatize my pain or what I have been through. You can read my work, but ultimately, you don’t know me. You know a small percentage of what I share, but the people who’ve been with me for years and years, those are the people who know just how real I am. The people who’ve met me and spent time with me know who I am. The people who text me daily know who I am. The people who can call me at three a.m. for anything know who I am. The select few who get to share certain aspects of my life are the people who have made an effort to be a real friend to me, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

You can sit and judge me ’til kingdom come for being honest, but the fact of the matter is, you have NO fucking idea what it takes for me to get out of bed each day, so please, judge yourself first. No matter what I face, you’re probably not as strong as me. I’m not ashamed of my reality, and I won’t allow anyone to make me feel bad for things outside of my control.

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