Mental health, Parenting, Relationships

Ugly Truth 45: Life Will Break You

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

-Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while since I wrote a love letter to myself. Often I write to process or heal, but most of all I write to regain my sight when I lose perspective. The truth is I revisit my own words, perhaps even more often than my dedicated readers.

Both of my parents are struggling, and it breaks my heart. It’s strange the way we’re taught not to treat our children as extensions of ourselves, but as individuals. As I grow older, I feel myself belonging more to a world I can’t understand.

When I look at each of my parents, it’s as if I’m looking into a mirror. I see my love, my compassion, my zest for life, but I also see many things I don’t want for myself. I see my mental illness, my insecurity, my pain. Emboldened by an undue life of untimely grief, my mother and father are generally unhappy people in their own right. So it begs the question: Who am I?

My mother was born into a family of second generation German immigrants and French Canadians, hard working people who turn the soil we all walk upon, but they were also grossly negligent and abusive caregivers. Leaking through generations, my mother was subject to verbal, physical and sexual abuse for most of her developmental years. It goes without saying the toll this takes on the feminine soul. She grew into a strong and irresponsible woman with many health concerns and a big heart, often subject to decisions beyond her control. That said, while I struggle to understand her choices as a mother, it’s easy for me to forgive a woman simply trying to survive her formation.

Alternately, my father inherited an English, German, and Irish descent into madness. He was the only son of a woman who passed away at the age of 40. At the age of 17 he buried his mother, and fathered me one month later. A few short years later his father passed away, having chosen a homosexual lifestyle over the betterment of his own child. By the time he was my age, he was an orphan without a sibling to speak of. Half a lifetime later, he buried half of his friends and family with me crying at his side. Strong though he may be, my father reached his own age of 40, and subsequently learned of the tragic death of his first love. He is no stranger to death and grief, and yet it still strikes deep each and every time. My father continues to grapple with the same swings of mood and general unrest I hold close to my own chest. He can be denying, dismissive, hypocritical, and downright mean. Indeed, he was robbed of his formation altogether.

So here I am at my own age of 30, and maybe the only thing all three of us have in common is having lost a loved one to suicide. While I have certainly suffered the choices of my loved ones, I have surpassed resentment. Sure, I didn’t receive the life or parents I deserved, but neither did they. I am stronger and happier than the two of them combined having been shown exactly what I don’t want for myself, my partner, or my children. It’s a miracle altogether that I am even alive, and I don’t intend on wasting it. In some twisted way I am grateful for an over exposure to grief. In some weird way, nothing bothers me anymore. Despite my sensitive and bleeding nature, I harbor a healthy sense of detachment from my surroundings, quietly holding my breath for the next blow. Like the ocean promises, there will be more. Certainty has taught me nothing is certain but death and taxes, and to be grateful for calm brackish waters.

In releasing all my hardship and chronic pain I have learned that I am deeply loving, generous, and kind. I used to cringe when Christian’s would say that without suffering there would be no compassion, but maturity and a significant amount of anguish has taught me the wiser. Perhaps our greatest truth is loving others despite every reason, hurt and abandonment not to. Perhaps our victory lies simply in choosing love over fear.

At some point, we all face the great divide of forced choice. We must reckon with our knowledge of the world, and choose to venture down that same old dark alley, or find our own pathless wood. What choice do we have really, but to roll with the punches – and love one another in spite of it?

Introspective bullshit aside, I went through many poor coping skills before finding the right ones.

I, for one, choose love – conditionless and motioning forward – without boundary and unashamed.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Relationships

Ugly Truth 32: Relationships Are Conditional

“Your love is as stable as you are: It’s not about how good a person makes you feel, but rather what good you can do for them.”
-Criss Jami, Killosophy

Dear Readers,

As we move through life, we may find ourselves in a state of change where we have no choice but to suddenly evolve. If you know me personally, then you know my walk has been anything but traditional, and not without mistake. Which is why coming to grips with myself and getting it right – maybe for the first time – has provoked in me a momentous life change. A change for joy, love, truth and choice. I have known since childhood that I have a capacity to fall in love with women, but nothing could have prepared me for this.

When we are young we are taught to hold ourselves to certain standards based on the words and actions of others. This conduct is often instrumental in the way we build our relationships with others. If you question your self worth, then it should come as no surprise to you if you find yourself in a relationship that is dysfunctional or toxic. Likewise, once you define what you have to offer with maturity rather than control, your relationship dynamics will change considerably.

You see, I met a girl. For the first time her stability and strength reflected my own in a way that was not only hardly comparable to anyone I’ve ever known, but also dawned on me a revelation of self that has fundamentally changed me for the better. She has revived in me things I feared would stay sleeping forever, and yet it is not in the fleeting flowery sense of an unlasting infatuation. My love for her was born from a place of enormous respect, a trait I learned is a condition of the way I love and am loved in return.

Along with respect came a list of relationship conditions that have so satisfied my life that I thought it pertinent to share with others the beauty and importance of what it means to love someone with responsibility and intention. This is not to be confused with unconditional love, but rather explores the primary concepts of the lasting relationships that we all hope for. When done correctly, unconditional love will naturally result from that free from doubt or coercion.

Mutual respect is so important and so complex that it is my number one condition. Respect includes outlining those standards I mentioned earlier, which can vary considerably from person to person. My standards include one’s ability to work hard, protect, provide, practice humility, contribute and reciprocate responsibly in all areas of life. Respect also lends itself well to admiration, which includes exceptional skill sets that I do not possess, but am greatly impressed by, such as being personable or bilingual. Alice has gifted me with all of these things and more.

When I met Alice, we were looking for nothing serious. We took our time to place boundaries and build friendship where most people dive head first into romance. This is not easy, but oh so worth it. The importance of friendship is that it carries you through hardship when the relationship goes through periods of suffering. We used this time and space to discuss everything – and when I say “everything” – I mean everything. We devoted many words and hours to discussing common goals and interests, likes and dislikes, what we were looking for in a partner, bottom lines, dreams, desires and deal breakers. We discussed living situations, finances, sex, children, religion, politics and why we felt our previous relationships had failed. We laughed, cried, learned each others love languages, and walked each other through an aggressive phase of validated fear without ever letting go of hands. We discussed our flaws openly, and kept judgment from creeping in. We built a framework to protect ourselves from the thoughts and opinions of others, both positive and negative. We do not ask the other to sacrifice fundamental parts of her being, mismanage priorities, or engage in dramatic behavior. I say all that to say my third condition of a healthy romance is communication.

If you can not communicate effectively with others, you are going to have a very hard time within your romantic endeavors. We teach others how to treat us. As such, communication requires a self awareness and vulnerability that most people are not willing to engage in. If you find this quality in someone, do not take it lightly. Likewise, if you have not developed this part of your personality free from dysfunction, or find yourself to be inherently uncompromising, you have no business being in a relationship and an ethical obligation to stay single.

In my discussions with Alice, I soon learned how important trust is to her. Trusting someone means so much more than being faithful. It is the belief that your partner will hold you with care and concern no matter what happens. It requires an err of caution, and a mindfulness for the other person when dealing in raw emotion. It means occasional reassurance and reinforcement through action. The more I got to know Alice, the more my heart grew to know a conviction so severe that I would rather die than hurt her.

Next is laughter. Alice has this inexplicable knack for positive energy and joy. The first time we met her smile completely grabbed me. I genuinely adore this character trait as her ability to be incessantly playful protects me from my own dark moods. Her laugh is infectious and my new favorite sound.

As important as humor is to me, my love for this character trait is not one dimensional. Alice’s playfulness is matched by her capacity to pull back into modes of deep thinking and feeling. Her complexity allows her a great range of spirit that I deeply share and admire. We laugh to tears one moment, and attend to the next with great strength and seriousness when the situation calls for it.

Lastly, chemistry! Physical affection isn’t everything, but boy is it important. If you have ever found yourself on a date with no chemistry, you know it can devolve into an awkward nightmare pretty quickly. Likewise, when you meet someone who can communicate with your body in a sexual and compatible way, it can be a mind altering experience that makes you question the universe and grasp the meaning of life. I knew from the moment Alice touched me that I never wanted her to stop. She has an appreciation for beauty, an attention to detail, a hyper focus in strength and tenderness that I didn’t even know I needed until I received it for the first time.

So, there you have it! Eight carefully thought out conditions of what it takes to be in a healthy relationship thanks to the most beautiful person I have ever met. I hope to learn from her for many years to come. If you find yourself falling in love with someone, do yourself a favor and take your time.

Respect. Admiration. Friendship. Communication. Trust. Laughter. Capacity. Chemistry.

What do you require in a relationship?

Lifestyle, Mental health

Gratitude is the Guardian of Your Joy

ggsc-gratitude

Dear Readers,

I am not a particularly religious person. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual rather than assign myself a religious label. Instead, I prefer to take the good from all of the major pillars of religion and apply it to my life in a practical way. Unlike most, I am okay with the not knowing. Occasionally, I will experience a thirst for knowledge and attend church for my sheer love of lectures, philosophies, and human understanding. On one of these days, the pastor’s wife stood at the podium and said these words, “Gratitude is the guardian of your joy.” -And it stuck.

These seven words of wisdom highlighted my genuine understanding of fundamental happiness. If we can be grateful, then we can shift our perspective just enough to glean some positivity from a painful situation because gratitude suggests choice. Therefore, there seems an intrinsic link between happiness and choice. As Thanksgiving approaches, these words sit with me still. More so since I am sitting in the unknown of unemployment- one of the most infamous stressors for any young family. So, perhaps a little self-examination will do me well, and help someone else along the way.

6 Things I am Grateful For & the Why:

1.) My Family.

My family dynamic has never been conventional, and so my definition isn’t either. I have had many unions and separations with men and women. One of these was fortunate enough to have produced a child. His father and I are no longer together although we maintain a loving and respectful relationship despite our differences. Somehow, the family we build becomes our own, having less and less to do with blood. There is so much value in the blending of differences, re-definition in the face of traditionalism, and the daily choice.

2.) My Home.

For most of my life I lived with others. I had boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, friends who never left, and family to take me in. It wasn’t until my divorce that I was faced with the heat of a Texas August, and the choice to provide for myself independent of the provisions of others. I was not without help, of course. Now, almost two years later, the apartment I live in is mine, the bills I pay are mine, the car I drive is mine, the books on my shelf, the clothes on my back, and the food in my pantry is mine. The fear and the responsibility is my own, and the reward all the greater.

3.) My Health.

I am 29 years old and while not in perfect health, my chronic pain and mental health conditions pale by comparison to those I know and love with chronic medical ailments. Having been a caregiver much too soon, I have had a front row seat to the way illness can run amok on individuals, families, and bank accounts. While I would consider my functionality level below that of a typical twenty-something, I still balance the choice to get out of bed each morning.

4.) My Son.

Most people insinuate their children are their life, and it is probably perfectly true. However, my son saved mine and that is a fact. As a young woman, I was in the grips of horrendous grief and madness. My mind, body, and soul were dripping with chemicals and hell bent on fast tracking my self-destruction for a solid five years prior. I made a series of repetitively bad choices in great succession of one another if not to end my life through intent, then through sheer negligence and a complete lack of self-care. I was never malicious toward others. I was simply flailing through pain with zero guidance due to my own lack of language. My pregnancy taught me preservation of self for the sake of someone else, and forced me into fearless maturity. It taught me the choice of good health and good company, safety and security, and my full-time preoccupation with the truth.

5.) My Cat.

Pets provide a strange relationship free from circumstance or condition, one you may even be quick to resent. But if you look hard enough, you’ll notice that our domestic companions await eagerly each day for nothing more than our company and good graces. They misbehave, damage our over-priced goods, and cry into the night. And yet- there remains a middle ground where our choice to care for them meets the purity of their friendship and promised love.

6.) My Diagnoses.

I live with three major mental health conditions. It is something that has taken me all my young life to understand and manage wisely. Human suffering is universal, and therefore, has the power to inform. Suffering teaches compassion, empathy, and gratitude for the boring and mundane through shared experiences of loss and abuse. Suffering provides perspective when the unexpected uproars happen, giving you the strength and reassurance that it could always be worse. It gives us art, boundaries, and grace. Illness gives us the choice to victimize ourselves by ceding to self-absorbed unhappiness and self-medication, or to assign pain a function through self-love and recognition, to release it from its all consuming vanity, and serve those in need.

So it seems this free-association piece has secured my livelihood by circumventing my subconscious, and coming full circle on the reoccurring theme of choice.

What is guarding your joy this holiday season?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

 

 

Uncategorized

Sibyl Marie: A Cat’s Tale

Dear Readers,

Cats get a bad wrap. If you have had the misfortune of having a less-than-desirable feline, my heart goes out to you. I happen to know and love one awesomely cool kitty-cat, and I’d like to share her with you tonight. Her name is Sibyl Marie.

sibyl

In 2014, I married a man I did not love for the sake of safety. After much anguish surrounding my sense of self and sexual identity, the marriage folded less than three years later. So, there I was, peeing in my new toilet, scrolling through Facebook like so few of us are willing to admit, when this green-eyed beauty floated across my screen. Her first mother, Laura, had lost her in a nasty breakup years prior. Understandably, Laura had moved on to a life filled to the brim with the love of a new partner and pets, leaving her unable to take Sibyl in. So, the disgruntled ex-boyfriend threatened to bring Sibyl to a shelter if no one came to her aid. Naturally, every ounce of love and compassion jumped from my soul and I sweetly replied, “Give her to meeee!”

This was a half-hearted offer I admit. After all, I had a little boy and a new life to juggle all on my own.

name

After a few small transactions and immense support from her first owner, she was on her way that very same day. Sibyl came to me during a time of tremendous life transition, so I feel intensely bonded to her. It goes without saying that I am absolutely bias when it comes to the favor of my feline friend. Still, she deserves credit for her humor, her calm yet playful demeanor, and her undying love for eye-contact. After a few tears, much mewing, and fancy feasting she adapted warmly… just in time for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall.

For eight long days, Sibyl and I were trapped in the ivory tower that is our second story apartment building. While water levels were rising and grocery shelves were obscenely lacking, while citizens miscalculated their evacuation plans and the streets quieted her engines so sirens could blare, Sibyl and I stayed snuggled together in my one bedroom apartment- destined to become best friends. Eight days without going outside is enough to make just about anyone lose it. Employment, school districts and commerce paused. Fortunately for us, I had paid mind to gather provisions beforehand- so there was bread, flame and rum a-plenty!

Most importantly –Sibyl Marie is a stupendous emotional support animal. We all have our histories and she is no different. She has her own kitty anxieties and idiosyncrasies from the environment she was in before she called our house a home. We have noticed she stirs away from specific objects, brooms for example, and runs from loud noises. She cries when there’s thunder and hides from the vacuum. Similarly, my psychological enthusiasm evoke days of unrest where carrying myself upright is just too much to ask. And yet- we never fail to love one another. She comes when I cry, when I tremble with panic, and find myself shaking with nightmares. She comes when I fall short of breathing, traverse through flashbacks or suffer from psychosis. She tolerates the squeezing touches of my seven-year-old, and loves my partner just as much as I do.

Sibyl Marie has been a most cherished addition to our family, and we often laugh of giving her her very own YouTube segment. She springs from boxes, chases lasers, cries for tuna, and pounces in the night. She meows for the sake of talking and brings laughter wherever she goes. She cries for snuggles, licks hands, and knocks over dishes without a care in the world. She is uniquely petite, intelligent, hilarious and oh-so affectionate.

snuggle

So, the next time someone tells you cats suck you might empathize with their plight, or you just might prove them wrong.

Tell me your cat stories in the comments section. The good, the bad, and the ugly!

us

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!